Monday, October 26, 2015

One of Those Mornings

It's one of those mornings.

It's Monday, but the Colonel has never hated Mondays.  His (semi) adult career was actually so much fun and most often so rewarding that the Colonel really looked forward to getting back together post-weekend with some of the greatest people, and finest story-tellers, on the planet.

No mistake, the Colonel loved him some weekends.  All Marines live for the weekend...; well..., Marines live to FIGHT -- anywhere, anytime, against anybody -- but, making it to the weekends (or any break in training for that fight) was always the unspoken goal of the week.

The Colonel liked Mondays because many of the Marines with whom he worked always had great weekend liberty stories to tell with great relish and little regret.

Since he retired, and then re-retired to the farm here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere, the Colonel has come to view Mondays as pretty much the same as any other day of the week.

In fact, what DAY of the week it happens to be matters so little to the Colonel anymore that the only reason he even has a calendar  is to keep track of hunting and college football seasons.

More than anything else nowadays, the weather determines the Colonel's daily activities.  

This morning it's raining -- for the first time in what seems like a month of Mondays.  It has been so dry here aboard the Colonel's vast holdings that Lake Brenda has passed quickly through the pond and puddle stage and is bordering on the stage for which the appellation "mudflat" is most appropriate.  The Colonel's catfish are growing legs and heading north -- with or without documentation.

Rainy mornings didn't used to be any deterrence to the Colonel's mission of preparing young men to travel to exotic lands, meet new people, and... win hearts and minds.  The Colonel was raised by hard men whose mantra was "If it ain't rainin', we ain't really trainin'."

But the Colonel is no longer in the business of preparing young men for deployment abroad and employment in the manly art of breaking things and wreaking havoc in the homeland of the Republic's enemies.  If it's rainin', the Colonel's writin'.

And so, he has. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Force Slept

In case you might have missed the biggest news in years, the Colonel will let you in on one of the worst kept secrets of all time...

A new Star Wars movie is coming out.

The Colonel remembers, vaguely, watching the first movie in the summer of 1977 -- 38 years ago.

Thirty-eight years!

There's been a lot of gravel crunched under the Colonel's boots since that summer.  And, a lot of mud squished, sand squenched, and dirt disturbed into great clouds of choking dust.

But enough about the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's housekeeping...

The summer the first movie came out the Colonel was participating in a six-week sleep deprivation study on the banks of Chopawamsic Creek at Marine Corps Base Quantico, closely supervised by a score of sanctioned sadists skilled in the fine art of mental manipulation and menial task motivation.  

A year later, the Colonel and the 250 other rising college seniors participating in this right of passage would be commissioned second lieutenants in the United States Marine Corps.  But, for now, the title was "Candidate" and it was not a particularly prestigious title.

Toward the end of that not-so delightful detour in what had been an otherwise carefree college career, the candidates of Bulldog 77 were granted 18 hours of liberty.  Most found a quiet place to eat a leisurely meal and then spent the balance of their free time catching up on their sleep.  A few came back to the barracks raving about a science fiction movie for which they had sacrificed three hours of their precious free time.  

The Colonel knows, the movie was only two hours long.  But, this was in the days before multiplexes and the line to see this movie on the one screen in the theater was around the block.  So, seeing Star Wars that summer was a three-hour experience.

That night, after lights-out in the 50-man squad bay, one of the candidates who had seen the movie announced in his best Obi-wan voice, "use the force, Luke," and switched on his flashlight. Another candidate switched on his flashlight, and breathed hoarsely, "the force is strong with this one."

The two candidates leaped from their bunks and closed on each other swinging their flashlight beams with a low hum.  As they swung their beams together they both made a crashing noise...

You get the picture.

The squad bay filled with low laughter.  Most of us weren't sure what we were laughing about.  Some of us were laughing because we knew what was about to happen next.

Suddenly the lights blazed on and the flashlight duelists froze as a gravelly voice boomed from the now wide open double doors at the end of the squad bay.  

"What kinda fairy dance are you two fools doing!  C'mere!  Front leaning rest position, move!"   

The two candidates scampered front and center and dropped into the push-up position.


Obi-wan and Darth began four-count push-ups, counting each move of the exercise and each repetition out loud.

The Marine gunnery sergeant who had been the bane of our existence that long hot summer stepped between the two exercising candidates and strode a half dozen steps further into the squad bay.

"I heard laughing!  Who was laughing at my two fairy dancers!"  

From the far end of the squad bay, a candidate, erroneously emboldened with the knowledge that graduation was only a few days away, let out a loud and obviously fake snore.

Forty-seven candidates, save the snorer and the still counting exercisers, lay tensely still and quiet in their racks, anticipating the command to "Get on line!"  

Seconds ticked by.  


"One, two, three, twenty-eight..."

The command to get out of the rack and line up in the center of the squad bay never came.

Instead, our demonic drill instructor only quietly commanded Obi-wan and Darth to "recover."   The lights went out, and a voice that was far too human bid, "Goodnight, candidates.  Reveille is 0330."  

Four days later, the Colonel and four of his Ole Miss NROTC (Marine Option) buddies were headed back to Mississippi leaner and meaner than ever.  Stopping overnight in Knoxville, the five decided to take in a movie.  

The Colonel fell dead asleep somewhere shortly after "these are not the droids you're looking for."    



Sunday, October 11, 2015

Calling Out Rebel Nation

The announced attendance was just north of sixty thousand, but if you can prove there were any more than two-thirds that number actually in the stands at Vaught-Hemingway Saturday to watch Ole Miss take on New Mexico State, the Colonel will give you a free swing at his scowl and jowl-shrouded jaw and give you fifteen minutes to drum up a good crowd to watch you take your best shot.

The Florida Gators chomped down hard on the Colonel's Rebels' special season hopes last week and their teeth did more deflating than the ball-boy in the Patriot's locker room.  On the way to Gainesville last week, Rebel Nation was feeling the rare high of a top five ranking and liking their chances to represent the SEC West in the title game.  Late Saturday night, a week ago, those dreams crawled mauled from the Swamp and limped back to Oxford like the remains of Pickett's division retreating from Cemetery Ridge.

But, holy apocalypse, Batman, the world didn't end.  The season's not over.  The Rebels are still 5 and 1.  A trip to Atlanta is still possible...  

...might be to play in the Peach Bowl, but, the good news is TCU will likely not get left out of the final four this year and take out their frustrations on us, again.   

Rebel Nation is quite possibly the most cynically fickle collection of fair-weather fans in the history of collegiate sport.   Our football team is playing some of the best ball that has been seen here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere since Johnny Vaught won four National Championships, and we can't be bothered to show up and cheer for 'em on a glorious fall day with which God specifically blessed Oxford.  

Yeah..., we were pouty-face disappointed our boys didn't defend their there-to-fore undefeated season against Florida any better than the French army defended Paris in the summer of 1940.  And, yeah..., it was a truly terrible New Mexico State team that made the trip from several thousand square miles of kitty litter to several thousand square miles of kudzu to be the Homecoming hors d' oerves.   

But, true fans SHOW UP.   And, true fans STAY.

Okay, the Colonel will admit that he left the Tennessee-Martin game early.  But, the Colonel is old and it was 157 and 1/2 degrees in the stands.  He was sweating like an old, bald Marco Rubio, and grandson #2 had a belly ache that might have had something to do with rapid ingestion of four pounds of cotton candy while sitting in a sauna.

The Colonel will have you know, however, that he and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda stayed to the end of game yesterday -- even if it was about as exciting as a Spring Game.

The Colonel takes that back.  Seeing Archie Manning catch a football thrown up to his sky box from the student section was pretty exciting.  Students caught a ball that the PAT net didn't and the most noise all game came from the game of "keep the ball away from security."  Archie threw the ball back to the students -- wonder who it was that was last person to catch a pass from a Manning in the Vaught...       

Speaking of Archie...  Rebel Nation loves to recount the glories of his tenure under center, and how fans faithfully filled the stands to watch his exploits.  We fail to remember, however, that Mr. Manning's Rebels only won seven games his senior season.

Of course, playing with a broken arm might have contributed to the loss column significantly, but you get my point.

Or, maybe you don't.  The Colonel knows there are at least a few readers of his barely literate swill that are rabid Bama Bandwagon Boors, or equally rabid and just as pitiable bandwagon LSU fans, and are so used to win-filled seasons (even if you won't admit that is the only reason you are a Bama or LSU fan) that you can't conceive of not going to a game if you had season tickets.    

At any rate, loyalty ranks right up there with integrity in the Colonel's character estimation.  

See you in the Vaught, Rebel Nation.       

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Colonel Ain't Modern

There's a foul, simpering creature masquerading as an American man nowadays.  The Colonel calls 'em YUCKs -- Yankee Urban Civilian Knuckleheads.  Recently, a YUCK gained some wildly undeserved attention by opining on the attributes of "the modern man" in the New York Times.  Said YUCK's opinions are enumerated below, interspersed with the Colonel's not-so humble ripostes.

1. When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse, he doesn’t have to ask her sister for the size. And he knows which brands run big or small.

-- The Colonel doesn't buy shoes for the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda.  But, he does know she wears a size 6 in muck boots.

2. The modern man never lets other people know when his confidence has sunk. He acts as if everything is going swimmingly until it is.

-- The Colonel's confidence never sinks.  He sinks other's confidence.

3. The modern man is considerate. At the movie theater, he won’t munch down a mouthful of popcorn during a quiet moment. He waits for some ruckus.

-- The Colonel rarely subjects himself to the enhanced interrogation technique that is attendance at a movie along with the flotsam and jetsam of modern American society; and, when he does, he ain't paying three bucks for ten cents worth of popcorn.

4. The modern man doesn’t cut the fatty or charred bits off his fillet. Every bite of steak is a privilege, and it all goes down the hatch.

-- Filet?  It's T-bone for the Colonel; and, standby to watch him gnaw on the bone.  

5. The modern man won’t blow 10 minutes of his life looking for the best parking spot. He finds a reasonable one and puts his car between the lines.

-- Car?  The Colonel's rusty red pick-up, Semper Fillit, gets jealous if the Colonel even looks at a car.  

6. Before the modern man heads off to bed, he makes sure his spouse’s phone and his kids’ electronic devices are charging for the night.

-- The Colonel ain't got watch, nor cell phone.  You have no idea how liberating that is.

7. The modern man buys only regular colas, like Coke or Dr Pepper. If you walk into his house looking for a Mountain Dew, he’ll show you the door.

-- The Colonel drinks Mountain Dew.  Dr. Pepper is a girl's drink.

8. The modern man uses the proper names for things. For example, he’ll say “helicopter,” not “chopper” like some gauche simpleton.

-- The correct military terminology is "helo" or "bird."  Stupid YUCK.

9. Having a daughter makes the modern man more of a complete person. He learns new stuff every day.

-- Daughters are great, but not necessary for manhood completion. Uniformed service to the Republic, on the other hand, is the most surefire way to become a well-rounded American.

10. The modern man makes sure the dishes on the rack have dried completely before putting them away.

-- The Colonel calls this MOTO (mastery of the obvious).  Did this YUCK not have a mother?  Or, did he have to find an ap to tell him this?

11. The modern man has never “pinned” a tweet, and he never will.

-- Tweet?

12. The modern man checks the status of his Irish Spring bar before jumping in for a wash. Too small, it gets swapped out.

-- What, no foo-foo body wash?  Poser.  YUCK.

13. The modern man listens to Wu-Tang at least once a week.

-- Wu-Tang?  Explains a lot.

14. The modern man still jots down his grocery list on a piece of scratch paper. The market is no place for his face to be buried in the phone.

-- Grocery list?  Seriously?

15. The modern man has hardwood flooring. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his Kenneth Cole oxfords.

-- The Colonel's progeny never had to judge his mood by the sound of his boots striking the deck -- his mood was always bad.

16. The modern man lies on the side of the bed closer to the door. If an intruder gets in, he will try to fight him off, so that his wife has a chance to get away.

-- Skip down to 25.  Nuff said.

17. Does the modern man have a melon baller? What do you think? How else would the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew he serves be so uniformly shaped?

-- Melon baller?  Pervert.

18. The modern man has thought seriously about buying a shoehorn.

-- To go with your 20 pairs of shoes, YUCK?  Girl.

19. The modern man buys fresh flowers more to surprise his wife than to say he is sorry.

-- Well, even a YUCK can get one out of twenty-seven right..

20. On occasion, the modern man is the little spoon. Some nights, when he is feeling down or vulnerable, he needs an emotional and physical shield.

-- C'mon, grow a set...

21. The modern man doesn’t scold his daughter when she sneezes while eating an apple doughnut, even if the pieces fly everywhere.

-- Apple doughnut?  Guess they ain't got Krispy Kremes way up there at the North Pole, huh?

22. The modern man still ambles half-naked down his driveway each morning to scoop up a crisp newspaper.

-- "Half"-naked?  The Colonel's vast holdings here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere allow for full nudity whenever he is so inclined, it just isn't real smart -- what with the abundance of ticks, skeeters, and chiggers.      

23. The modern man has all of Michael Mann’s films on Blu-ray (or whatever the highest quality thing is at the time).

-- Snob.  YUCK.

24. The modern man doesn’t get hung up on his phone’s battery percentage. If it needs to run flat, so be it.

-- See 6.
25. The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will.

-- The Colonel finds firearms to be some of the most useful tools in his kit -- he has many, many firearms.  The Colonel also has seven different hammers, two dozen screwdrivers, four chainsaws, two table saws, three utility trailers, and a tractor with five different implements.  See 16 above -- this YUCK probably thinks he'll have time to discuss Marquis of Queensbury rules with an intruder...

26. The modern man cries. He cries often.

-- The Colonel hasn't cried since he found out his mother was a civilian.

27. People aren’t sure if the modern man is a good dancer or not. That is, until the D.J. plays his jam and he goes out there and puts on a clinic.

-- The Colonel don't paint; the Colonel don't sing in public; and the Colonel don't dance.