Saturday, April 16, 2005

Goodnight Mogadishu

Black Hawk Down

A couple years back I saw an amazing movie, Black Hawk Down. I was so moved by the movie that once I heard it was based on a book I eventually went out and bought the book. Before I go into the book, I should make a not that I count the number of books I've read that I wasn't required for school without having to take off my shoes. Even though I'm not a big reader, I knew this would be something I'd enjoy. It did take me a while to finish with the book clocking in at 430 pages. Not to mention my penchant of reading my magazine subscriptions before getting back to my place in the book

As for the book itself, everyone should know the story by now. Like the movie, it chronicles the failed 1993 mission in the Somali capital of Mogadishu that ended with two Black Hawk helicopters being shot down by Somali insurgents that left many Americans solders dead or wounded. The movie itself did a very good job keeping with the spirit of the movie, but with the book at 430 pages, there were plenty of things that were left out of the 144 minute movie. Where the movie focused almost exclusively on the actual battle, the book covers more of led up to the conflict and goes more in depth analyzing the outcome. The movie also depicted only a handful of the solders that were involved the book profiles about three times more. The movie spent almost of the screen time focused exclusively on Somalia, but the book also looks into the families of the soldiers back home and also looks in on some of the response from Washington.

Included in the version of the book I bought (the
Movie Tie-In Edition) was an eight page Afterword by author, Mark Bowen, written in 1999 as it was interesting to hear Bowen talk about the impact his book made (even before the movie was made), even being embraced by the military itself. It would be interesting to see what else he would say about the impact now that the movie has been released.

The Back Hawk Down incident is even relevant today as we are currently fighting a primarily urban war in Iraq. Many of the problems the soldiers were facing in Mogadishu, the current soldiers are facing in places like Baghdad and Fallujah with not being able to tell the difference between insurgent and civilians, the opposition carrying rocket launchers and other high-tech weapons, and questions of "why are we there?" from a portion of the population back home. Interestingly enough, Bowen said in the book that not finishing the job in Mogadishu would make the United States look week opening us up to attacks abroad thinking we would retreat like we did in 1993. And it looks like he was right with the Embassy attacks, the attack on the USS Cole, and later the September 11th attacks. Many experts even point to Somalia as the inspiration for Osoma bin Laden and Al-Quada.

Black Hawk Down a Terror Alert Level: Severe [RED] on my
Terror Alert System.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Tax Man Come and Take it Away

April 15th, and you know what that mean, all us smart people have our tax refunds already. And for all you procrastinators out there, well, you most likely are too busy to be reading this, so really I have nothing for you. The most interesting this about my tax refund this year is that it came along with an advertisement. I found that odd, but anything that keeps my taxes down, I'm keen on (would anyone be against the Lego's Pentagon or the Aquafina Reflecting Pool?). But the advertisement was from the Office of Women's Health. I'm trying to remember if I checked the wrong box last census.

One little griping point, even though I enjoy the hefty refund I get each Spring I can never understand why they just take out the right amount each paycheck? I'm a simple man with a simple life; I can't image it that hard for them to figure it out. If it takes filling out a new W2 each year, have the correct tax taken out each week, I'm for that rather than wrestling with all the tax forms the government sends me each January.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Rockin' in the Free World

The NY Times reported the other day about the songs that George W. Bush has on his iPod. Since the article, White House Letter: President Bush's iPod (free sign up required), said he still has a lot of space left, I thought I would be nice enough to give him some suggestions he might want to add taken from my own personal iPod:

This Land Is Your Land - Woody Guthrie
Blowin' in the Wind - Bob Dylan
The Times They Are A-Changin' - Bob Dylan
People Get Ready - The Impressions
God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
For What It's Worth - Buffalo Springfield
America - Simon & Garfunkel
Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash
Politician - Cream
Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival
The Star Spangled Banner - Jimi Hendrix
Wild World - Cat Stevens a.k.a. Yusuf Islam
American Pie - Don McLean
Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) - Marvin Gaye
Ohio - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) - Marvin Gaye
Get Up, Stand Up - Bob Marley & The Wailers
Higher Ground - Stevie Wonder
I Shot the Sheriff - Bob Marley & The Wailers
Living for the City - Stevie Wonder
Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Pastime Paradise - Stevie Wonder
(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding - Elvis Costello
I Fought the Law - The Clash
Redemption Song - Bob Marley & The Wailers
Allentown - Billy Joel
Goodnight Saigon - Billy Joel
The Message - Grandmaster Flash
Rock the Casbah - The Clash
Authority Song - John Cougar Mellencamp
Buffalo Soldier - Bob Marley & The Wailers
Pink Houses - John Cougar Mellencamp
Born in the U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen
Pride (In the Name of Love) - U2
Small Town - John Mellencamp
Living in America - James Brown
The Way It Is - Bruce Hornsby & The Range
Have a Little Faith in Me - John Hiatt
It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) - R.E.M.
Sign 'O' the Times - Prince
Cult of Personality - Living Colour
Fight the Power - Public Enemy
F*** tha Police - N.W.A.
Rockin' in the Free World - Neil Young
Running on Faith - Eric Clapton
We Didn't Start the Fire - Billy Joel
By the Time I Get to Arizona - Public Enemy
Can't Truss It - Public Enemy
Lies - EMF
Losing My Religion - R.E.M.
Money Don't Matter 2 Night - Prince & The New Power Generation
New Jack Hustler - Ice-T
Sometimes I Rhyme Slow - Nice & Smooth
Freedom - Rage Against the Machine
Killing in the Name - Rage Against the Machine
Rooster - Alice in Chains
Steve Biko (Stir It Up) - A Tribe Called Quest
Bad Reputation - Freedy Johnston
Sabotage - Beastie Boys
The Ghost of Tom Joad - Bruce Springsteen
Bulls on Parade - Rage Against the Machine
If God Will Send His Angels - U2
Sleep Now in the Fire - Rage Against the Machine
Testify - Rage Against the Machine
B.O.B. (Bombs Over Bagdad) - OutKast
No More Drama - Mary J. Blige
Politik - Coldplay
Son of a Bush - Public Enemy
The Horizon Has Been Defeated - Jack Johnson
Where Is the Love? - Black Eyed Peas
Bad Day - R.E.M.
Cinnamon Girl - Prince
Jesus Walks - Kanye West
Megalomaniac - Incubus
MKLVFKWR - Public Enemy & Moby
Mosh - Eminem
Right Right Now Now - Beastie Boys
Time to Build - Beastie Boys
American Idiot - Green Day
When the President Talks to God - Bright Eyes

Did I miss anything?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Just Don't Bring Too Many Dudes

There are a couple music videos that have caught my eye lately. I thought I would wax poetic on a couple of note.

Weezer - Beverly Hills

The best video is by a group who constantly puts out get videos from the Happy Days inspired Buddy Holly to The Muppets inspired Keep Fishin'. Now
Weezer is back with a romp with their fans through the Playboy Mansion. The video starts off with Hef calling the drummer, Pat (whom seems to get the best parts in the videos as he was last seen being kidnapped by Miss Piggy) seeing if the band wanted to drop by to play for "the girls." And when Pat asked if he could bring some friends, Hef responds "Just don't bring too many dudes," which could be the downfall of any party. After that, we are treated to three and a half minutes of Weezer mixing with Playboy Playmates. And I could be wrong, but I believe there is a Jessica Biel sighting too. Unfortunately for me, as a member of their website, I got an invite to an undisclosed location to film their new video. Had I known that the undisclosed location was the Playboy Mansion, I might have bought a plain ticket to California. Throughout the video, the Weezer fans started flashing the Weezer symbol that I can't help to think is almost the exact sign for "Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothing to (mess) with."

The song itself is the catchiest Weezer song since, well the last Weezer single off the last album. The big different from past songs is that Beverly Hills was produced by Rick Rubin (think Jay-Z's
99 Problems, Red Hot Chili Pepper's Blood Sugar Sex Magic, and Beastie Boys' Licence to Ill) who brings the dirty bass line of the song. The lyrics, of course, follows a nerd who dreams of living the big life but then realizes he wouldn't fit. And nothing proves this theory than the video itself.

Rob Thomas - Lonely No More

Another funny video, albeit for a different reason, is the first solo song by Rob Thomas, the leader of matchboxtwenty. The funny part of the video for Lonely No More isn't the inexplicable set changes, no it's Rob Thomas trying to dance. The first time I saw it, I dropped to the floor laughing. It shot strait to the top of my list of funniest thing I've seen this year. For those who haven't seen it yet, and if you haven't, I highly recommend you do, his dance look like a cross between Axl Rose's snake dance and the sway back and forth dance from JoJo's first video. And yes, it is disturbingly funny as it sounds.

Mariah Carey - It's Like That

Now lets move on to a video that isn't even ironically funny like Rob Thomas', the new Mariah Carey video, It's Like That. It's sad that Mariah doesn't realize that she can no longer pull off the sexpot image of the Honey era. This is the one of the major reasons her last couple albums have flopped. The other being that she is not relevant in the hip-hop community no matter how many guest rapper/producers she has on her album. It may be time for an intervention trying to convince here to go back to the adult contemporary music she made on her first couple albums. If you think about it, those fans who grew up with her early stuff are in their late 20's into their early 40's and are primed for a more mellow, soulful Mariah. For the video, it starts off with the uber-annoying Jermaine Dupri, grant there is nothing I can't say about him that Dr. Dre already said in Say What U Said. The rest of the video is Mariah trying to pull sexy off with a lot wind blown hair and even more skin despite her getting thicker by the year. Then, for no apparent reason, Eric Roberts show up just to stand around. I don't know if this was an extenuation of the Killers' Mr. Brightside, but it made no sense. And speaking of extenuations, the video ends with a "To Be Continued..." Just what we need, another video with no plot. It would be like finishing Napoleon Dynamite with a "To Be Continued..."

Jack Johnson - Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Lastly is a new favorite artist of mine, Jack Johnson. The video concept for Sitting, Waiting, Wishing is pretty simple, film a lot of destructive images backwards. Not the most original concept as The Pharcyde did the same thing in the Spike Jones directed Drop ten years ago. Nonetheless, definitely something you want to check out. Plus you got to admire anyone who can sing backwards while being attacked by different food products.