Friday, 25 March 2011

From My Homestate

Down in the south....there are a handful of things that get folks excited enough to jump in the pick-up and drive twenty miles....risking traffic tickets at a high speed. At the top of that list....a fire at a propane tank business. Yesterday....over in Huntsville...was such a fire.

The news guys didn't comment on how many showed up, but I'm betting a couple thousand folks were there and calculating the potential explosion (that didn't come). At the end of this...they probably all drove over to Hardees....had a burger and fries...and commented all the way home about what potentially could have happened.

What Might Have Been

So the story goes today....this group of Hispanic-looking guys....in what appears to be an official US Marine van....are in Marine uniforms.  Everything about this looks legit and it's just US Marines returning from some event from across the border in Mexico.  You can sit and imagine....they went over....had lunch, some beers, and discussed Marine tactics.  Everything looks ok.

So the US Customs guy (a former Marine) walks up and asks one stupid question.  What is the Marine birthday?  If you asked a Navy guy about the Navy birthday, or an Air Force guy about the Air Force birthday, or a Army guy about the Army birthday....they'd just scratch their head.  Strangely enough....Marines are taught in bootcamp to remember 10 November 1775.  Every single Marine knows this and will recite this as absolute fact that they are older than the nation itself.

The Hispanic guy in the van....dressed like a Marine....just looked at the Customs guy and mostly grinned.  The game was over at that point.  They were all just some Latino guys trying to sneak into the US....wearing US Marine uniforms and riding in a Marine van.

It is a comical event in a way.  If the guy had simply done five minutes of research....and answered this one simple question....the Customs guy would have looked and done a thumbs up at his Marines....and let them enter.  Now?  I'm guessing every single Latino guy sitting in Mexico....is reading through Marine manuals and memorizing every single detail in case they attempt this and get a question thrown their way.

The amusing thing?  You could imagine this situation where some Marine Sargent was there at the border station....jumped in the van and told the Marines that they needed to get back to the barracks right away.  They drive over to Marine Post.....enter....and Sarge brings them into some barracks where they simply play along although speak next to almost no English.

Days pass....weeks pass....and the fake Marines integrate.  They march.  They fill sandbags.  They toss grenades for practice.  They build foxholes.

Eventually, because of the claim of lost paperwork.....all are re-enlisted into the Marines and sent off to Afghanistan.  They get training on tanks, jeeps and computers....end up back in Arizona where they ask themselves how they ever got into this mess in the first place.  At some point....some auditor shows up and asks why one platoon has eleven guys in it....all with the first name Jose.  Then the whole thing falls apart.

Characters

Moviegoers sat down, and they voted for their top favorite movie characters of all time.  Their number one choice?

Forrest Gump.  I admit....after hearing this....I was kinda amused and felt it was a worthy choice.  The curious thing is that it's a Bama guy....Winston Groom....who wrote Forrest Gump.  I always had this feeling that Winston simply combined six actual real folks he knew in Bama into one character....and this ended up being named Forrest Gump.  Adding to Winston legend....since that fateful day in 1986 when he finished the book....most everything written since then has been non-fiction and either related to American history or Alabama football.

Getting back to favorite movie characters....I paused over this and spent an hour my top ten favorite characters in no order (leaving out Forrest because they all kinda rate second to him):

- Elwood P. Dowd, from Harvey.  Jimmy Stewart's eccentric character kept you amused and mostly laughing throughout the entire movie.  At the end....you respected Elwood.

- Roger O. Thornhill.  From North by Northwest.  Just a regular guy....picked at random....having a bad day....who ends up at Mount Rushmore.

- Captain John H. Miller.  From Saving Private Ryan.  Admittedly, the first twenty minutes carry the entire movie....but about halfway through this....you really want the Captain to survive and you know he can't.  He's the glue of this entire movie.  You might think it's Private Ryan....but the Captain is holding the fortunes of life in his decisions.

- Maximus.  At the conclusion of Gladiator....you feel like Russell Crowe has delivered a five-star performance.  The story and the character make the movie worth watching over and over.

-Inspector Jacques Clouseau.  Over and over, you want this wicked French inspector to fail.  He can't get anything right, and the chief is mostly correct in that Clouseau is a fool.

- Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund.  My favorite duo, from Casablanca.  Rick is this everyday kind of guy who mostly drinks, gambles, and hates Nazis.  He spells out the truth and you'd suspect that if Rick was given a chance to move to New York City....he'd turn you down flat and just stick it out in Morocco.  As for Ilsa....she was Rick's girl, period....without any doubt.

- The Joker, from the Dark Knight.  In the end, Heath Ledger gave his best performance ever, and you had several moments in the middle of this movie where you felt the joker might be the only guy around....true to his heart....and by the end, you reshuffled your opinion to stick with Batman.

- John Coffey, was written into form by Stephen King.  There are probably forty-odd King characters that might be worth remembering....but at the conclusion of the Green Mile....you sat and wondered what King really intended John to be.  You had your own interpretation of John Coffey, and you kept thinking that there was more to this story than met the eye.

-  Sylvester Marcus.  I suspect you are scratching your head....but Sylvester was this extremely-focused California beach guy from Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, World.  There are twenty significant characters from the movie....but Sylvester is the one I most prefer.