Thursday, September 19, 2019

Recent reading: "Thank Your For My Service"

Thank Your For My Service by Mat Best with Ross Patterson & Nils Parker

Former Army Ranger Mat Best is one of the co-founders of Black Rifle Coffee Company, a veteran owned company that happens to make great coffee as well as YouTube videos that are hilarious (unless you have a problem with rugged men with a fondness for high powered guns, gorgeous women in American flag bikinis, patriotism, booze, dogs, guitars, and of course coffee).

At the age of seventeen Best decided to follow his father and older brothers into the military. Unlike the senior Bests, who were Marines, Mat aspired to be an Army Ranger. What follows is a rollicking, insane story of five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, plus five years working for a private military contractor. And he enjoyed every minute of it.

It's also an opportunity for civilians to get a behind the scenes glimpse into the reality of war that we don't get from Hollywood and the media. The dedication, patriotism and unimaginable courage tinged with the trademark humor that helped keep Best sane in the face of daunting evil and violence is a view of warfare most of us will never see or imagine.

During one of his private contractor deployments Best was surfing social media and found himself irked by what he describes as "this pathetic chorus of first-world whining" by people who would have withered in the face of what Best and his military brothers faced on a daily basis. This prompted Best to grab his guitar and and vent in song. The result was "Champagne Facebook Problems", the video of which would eventually garner a following mainly among his fellow military types. This lead to a journey that would produce more videos, a larger following, and eventually the formation of Black Rifle Coffee Company.

My only complaint is that he didn't include stories behind the BRCC videos. When I first saw one, I was so intrigued by the videos (and the idea of supporting a company made up of veterans) that I ordered a bag, then another. When I ran out for some reason picked up a bag of Starbucks at the grocery store...which eventually got thrown out. It tasted like crap compared to BRCC. Now I order two bags at a time (I'm partial to the AK-47 Espresso Blend).

But the book wasn't written for BRCC fans or even for civilians. Best makes it clear that he wrote the book for guys like him: soldiers who loved to fight for their country, loved to kill evil bastards, and didn't return absolutely wrecked by the experience and who might have felt alone due to the constant portrayals of veterans as consistently damaged and traumatized. He wanted them to know that there were others like him and that they are thriving as civilians.

And while some veterans do suffer from those issues, if Law & Order did an episode where a soldier killed someone, it was never because he was an evil prick who happened to be in the military (the Marines, obviously) it was because he'd done a tour in Iraq and he saw his best friend die in an IED attack and it broke his brain and then he came home and everything was different and he couldn't sleep and it made it hard for him to hold down a job and then he got evicted from his apartment and then his girlfriend fucked his best friend and took his dog. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Every veteran story was just this endless parade of horribles. What they failed to show, time and again, was my experience, which was the same as the experience of the hundreds of veterans I've known and served with who loved their time in the military and to this day view is as one of the most important, meaningful, enjoyable periods of their lives. No matter where you looked, there was no appetite for our stories anywhere.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Rock & Roll Heaven welcomes Ric Ocasek

Just hopped online and saw the terrible news that Ric Ocasek of The Cars passed away today. He was 75.

The Cars were one of my favorite bands through the late 70's and 80's. If I had a personal soundtrack it would be littered with their songs, plus two of the songs off Ocasek's solo album Beatitude are also among my favorites.

In addition to their great music The Cars were known for their popular videos at a time when MTV and music videos were still a thing, as well as their stylized, iconic album covers.

I remember a while back, maybe earlier this year, realizing that I live in a world that no longer includes David Bowie, Tom Petty and Prince, and thinking how sad that was. That list now includes Ric Ocasek.

RIP sir, and thank you for all the wonderful songs.

Updated 9/16/19: Ocasek died in his sleep while recuperating from surgery.

Your feel-good story of the week, courtesy of the awesome University of Tennessee

A Florida teacher encouraged her fourth grade students to show support for their favorite college by wearing the school's gear and colors. One of her students was a University of Tennessee fan who didn't have any gear, so he stuck a hand-drawn UT logo to an orange t-shirt. Unfortunately not all of his classmates were impressed with his spirit or his handiwork. In fact, some of them made fun of his DIY show of support.

His teacher then took to Facebook in the hopes that someone could help the poor kid out. And that's when the University of Tennessee itself got into the act. Grab a Kleenex.

First they sent him a care package with UT swag.

Then they created an official t-shirt with his design, with proceeds going to an anti-bullying organization. The shirts were so popular that the UT shop's website crashed due to the demand.

And because apparently that wasn't enough for them, the university has now done this:

No joke. They're giving him admission to the school and a four-year scholarship. I can see why he's a fan. Sounds like the University of Tennessee is a first class organization. They could have just sent him the swag and it would have been a feel-good story. Now it's a life-changing story.

I hope the kid sells the movie and book rights for a bundle. Not that he'll need the money to pay for college, but his family has got to be inundated right now by producers and publishers.

I'm not going to bag on the kids who mocked him and I hope they aren't taking too much crap for their part in this story. Fourth graders are nine years old and not terribly mature or sophisticated. But I do hope that if they learn anything from this experience it's that even in a world that can be cynical and cruel, if you approach things in a way that is pure and humble, good things will happen.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Am I the only one who saw this and added cotton candy to their shopping list?

Totally trying this next time I get my hands on some cotton candy.

Also, how freaking brilliant is this? Bet that place does a booming business.

H/T to Weird World on Instagram.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

From the Department of You Can't Make This Stuff Up: Walter White lookalike wanted on meth charges

How cool would it be if this turned out to be a publicity stunt for the upcoming Breaking Bad movie?

An Illinois police department is looking for this guy:

Look familiar? He does if you've ever seen Breaking Bad.

Can you imagine being a drug dealer and this guy approaches you wanting meth? You'd start looking around for the hidden cameras.

On the other hand, the guy is only fifty years old and he looks like this. Faces of meth indeed. Drugs are bad, mmmkay?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A sad anniversary

There are so many tributes and remembrances all over the internet today, so I don't need to repeat all the heart-wrenching images. I'm pretty sure I've posted them before, and they're all over the place on this 18th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001. So this year I'm going with this:

Word is that Budweiser only aired the ad once because they didn't want to profit from the tragedy of 9/11. But it lives on - and probably will eternally - online.

Prayers and thoughts for the victims and their families. I know I'll never forget them and watching the towers come down. Truly evil and tragic.

Updated 12:36pm: The New York Times on the other hand, took the low road commemorating the occasion, reporting that: 18 years have passed since airplanes took aim and brought down the World Trade Center. Yeah. "Airplanes" took aim. Luckily, the internet rode to the rescue, tearing the Times a new one so effectively that they deleted the original wording and at least mentioned that the planes were actually commandeered by terrorists and flown into the buildings in the update. Fuckers. Makes me wish I had a subscription to the NYT so I could call and cancel, and tell them why. Seriously, if you don't want to report the news, why report at all? Just fold the damn thing. Fuckers.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Apparently I am 100% peripheral characters

Ever wonder which South Park characters comprise your makeup? Well, now you can find out at SPandMe!

South Park makes its glorious return to the airwaves September 25!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Mindless fun is still fun

So this morning I discovered the joy of a new Twitter account. It's call Military Giant Cats. It's basically cat photoshopped - giantly - into military-related pictures. And it's hilarious.

Here's a few to get you started:

Do check them out here. Because, like me, you need to waste more time on the internet.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Rod Serling: The biopic

Word is that the director of Donnie Darko will write and direct a biopic of Rod Serling.

H/T to Christian Toto on Twitter for the link to the Screen Rant story.

The first thought that popped into my mind was casting. Who would you cast? A commenter on Christian Toto's tweet suggested Joaquin Phoenix, who would probably do a bang-up job. Plus, I think it's high time Serling got the biopic treatment.

Pic snicked from the internets.