American Sniper

“War is such an emotional subject, maybe I was a fool to think it wouldn’t.”

Bradley Cooper

I saw the film American Sniper. Let me state a few things before I begin. I am familiar with the story of Chris Kyle but do not know all the details of his story. I have not read his autobiography that this movie was based on. I may at some point but my To Be Read Pile has enough on it already. I have great admiration as a film director for Clint Eastwood. This is probably his best directing work since Gran Torino. Bradley Cooper did a great acting job in this and so did Siena Miller. It was a very good movie that you should see.

I have gone back and forth on how I feel about the Wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Post 9/11 title “The War on Terror” which needs an addendum to it. “The War on Terror: There Will Always be Assholes”. I really do not want to go into a political discussion with this movie. I know people who served in both of these conflicts. I have my Questions and Curiosities about their Experience there. However, I know they will not respond because of the fact “I was never there”. I know there is more than one Point of View to a story. This film could be a starting point to a discussion.

If you see this movie, try to put your political views aside for 2 hours and 15 minutes. I have heard the “Political Pundits” from both sides having another one of their “discussion” on this film with their usual screaming matches. When it comes down to it people like Michael Moore and Sarah Palin are basically the same. They are “Agitators” who use Sound Bites to get attention. Neither one of this two or people like them have any ideas (or willingness) to deal with the “Pragmatic” side of the issue they are on the Soap Box about. Plus, neither one of them want a discussion because they need to Stick On Point to their views. They are nothing but Click Bait. So please Don’t Click.

Another point is about the phrase “Based on a True Story” is used to avoid lawsuits. Every film based on a true event uses it. The reason is because they only have so much time to tell the story in movie. It would be impossible to cover everything. So if you need to fill in the details then you have to do some research on your own.

 


I hate to be using the term “Lone Gunman” here because leads into idea of Crazy Conspiracy Theorists. However, at the moment I cannot come up with one. So please forgive me.

This was an interesting choice of film for Clint Eastwood to direct. Clint Eastwood is the iconic representation of the “Avenging Lone Gunman” from the roles of The Man with No Name and Dirty Harry. Who would later go on to make the movie Unforgiven in which he attempts to Break Down the components of those type of roles. This scene best demonstrates that notion.


It is all right to have a movie looking at the “cost of violence” in a fictional setting or a time long past from here without there being an issue. It is a Safe Mental Distance. However, the same question is being asked here is based on an actual person. Here with have to attached a real name and face to it. It makes us Uneasy and it should. The following is the trailer.


The story of Chris Kyle is also what happens when a person becomes Legendary. He is also a Navy SEAL which carries additional Mythology with it. (See the movie Act of Valor
that was filmed with active duty Navy SEALS) It is also combined with history of events. History is taught with the Bulletin Points of High and Low moments. However, when you start examining the nature of the person involved with those moments then things get to become a bit more Complicated. We begin to see the Strengths and Flaws of that person. Place those against a perceived Legendary status and the Argument begins.

This is not the first time Clint Eastwood has made a movie about how Icons made during war are not what they appear to be. Flags of Our Father . How the story of the men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima story was modified in order to help sell war bonds. The companion movie Letters from Iwo Jima showed the cost of that battle through the narrative of Japanese soldiers. There also a price (right or wrong) that our enemies have too.

Another thing people forget is that film is “Show, Don’t tell” visual style of storytelling. If you want to hear a long speech about the ramifications of the war then skip this movie. Plus, you would never hear a long speech in a Clint Eastwood movie. They rarely if ever are used in War (or Action) movies. The most memorable one was George C. Scott in the Opening of Patton¬†or the Jack Nicholson “You Can’t Handle the Truth” scene from A Few Good Men. (Which is really a court drama movie)

Pay attention to the visuals of the film. Here is a man who has to watch and react to war through the lens of the scope on his rifle. He sees the target and the results of his actions. The metaphor is he sees the war “through a microscope”. There are no Indiscriminate targets for him. They all have a face he sees. As he gains better focus as a sniper the price is he loses Focus on his family. This movie is then how he begins to regain the Balance between the two.

I know this movie is His Story but not the only one. The audience needs to keep this in mind because it is not theirs especially, if they have never been in that Situation of War. This is a story about what we asking Men like Chris Kyle to do and the price to it.

 

 

 

I came upon another opinion on the film from Henry Rollins. (I can agree and disagree with him. Either way he makes me think.)

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Metrics


 

I hate this time of year. And it’s not about the weather. December/January is when all “The best and worse of” get published pretty much everywhere. A lot of them are nothing but “Click Bait”. It is also the time of all the award shows. Most of them are “an Apple vs an Orange” arguments. They really aren’t a good metric to use to judge one against another.

 

However, if you are trying to create anything you will unavoidably be compared to them. Then the question “Why can’t you do that?”

 

I also get an Annual Report from WordPress on the traffic to my blog. I also get a different monthly chart from my web hosting company. The two of them are completely different from each other that I cannot draw an accurate conclusion at all about my site.

 


 

My site has not had my comments lately either. However, when I read other sites I am thankful that I am nowhere close to having to deal with Level: Troll comments. I have my site set that I have to approve the comments. I will as long as there engaging the post. And it does not have to exactly agree with my point of view. I am willing to try to have a conversation. I occasionally get the “You are so stupid. So Shut the Fuck Up!” I don’t approve this. Not because I can’t take it. It is because that statement is nothing but Noise Without any Substance behind it. And the same the same time the comment that says “I found your post interesting. I will check back for more in the future.” It is positive. However, it is generic. Plus more times than not the person’s URL is bogus website of “spams and scams”.

 

I need to figure out a better feedback loop for the future of this site. Using Web Stats is at the moment a very unproductive use of time with frustrating guess work. I also do not have anyone at the moment in my daily life to “debrief” with. There is no way I will ever mention this with my coworkers. I remember years ago reading from various writers stating that the “Friends and Family” plan will fail as a feedback method. The reality is they are Indifferent to what I am doing. I am not saying this out of anger or disappointment. I am just recognizing how things are at the moment. Their lives have obligations and catalysts that are not mine. I get it. However, they are things I will never have for myself. It is what it is. So I have to leave it at that. Plus, I do not want to anymore to be Mentally Waterboarding them with questions such as “Did you read it?” Or “What do you think about it?” I need to get away from the Painful Awkwardness that this causes.

 

The worse part has been it has caused me to be Indifferent about my work the last few months. I also slid a bit into what Seth Godin calls “The Tyranny of Being Picked”.

 

I needed to make that confession. Because it is time to get moving again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Course Redirection

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To the Contrary

Until recently, I never fully grasped the idea that “the creative process is ugly.” And why many Creators say that is important to step back and take breaks. (For more on this read Everything I Know by Paul Jarvis)

The month of December for me is like trying to pound the square peg into the round hole. I know what I want and what I need. However, I am fully aware of what I am actually going to get. And every year, that “chasm” seems to be widening. It has also been the year that can be summed up as being set to the musical framing and concepts of a Pink Floyd album. Communication breakdowns. And the seismic “shifts and rifts” in many of my relationships at this time. Which in most cases it was inevitable.


When things are too much for him comedian Bill Burr says, “I’m tapping out.” And this time of year is not meant for everyone. Just watch the evening news, between terrorists and shoppers there aren’t many “shiny examples of humanity”. And this time of year is never practiced with “moderation”.

So for the next month, I am stepping back from my engagement with social media (Facebook, Twitter) and all of its seasonal noise for this time of year. I cannot say completely but it will be dramatically reduced for the next month. For the most part, I just need a break from it. Catch up on reading time. Finish the half written blog posts that piled up. See what ideas are remaining on the notepads. Actually watch the documentaries in the Netflix queue. Are all amongst the things that I need to clear up and out.

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Hymn to the Fallen

 


On this Veteran’s Day, I was remembering the opening scene from the movie Saving Private Ryan.

 

 

 

I want to comment on this opening. I remember seeing this in the theater and sensed that this was not going to be your typical “John Wayne” style of a WWII movie. The flag is shown with the sun backlighting it. The music is very mellow compared to the old war movies where the music is more of an upbeat “March to Battle”. The Old Man walking and you can tell he may have survived the war but time still has taken its toll on him. Also notice how the color of the scene is neutral. Where the older movies tended to make the “heroes” bright and the “enemy” darker. This scene shows how you can convey emotion without the need for dialogue or narration. And you really do not have to put images “right in the face” of the viewer to make them feel an emotion.

The song was composed by John Williams and was titled “Hymn to the Fallen”.

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