Sunday, February 26, 2017

Game Over Man! Game Over! RIP Bill Paxton

Tomorrow we will wake up in a world knowing it's without Bill Paxton, one of the most recognised actors of some of the greatest movies of the 80's and 90's and a more recent star of Television.

You may not remember his appearance in The Terminator in 1984, or in Commando in 1985 but if you don't know his first iconic role of Colonial Marine Private Hudson who famously uttered "Game Over Man! Game Over!" in James Cameron's Aliens which earned him a Saturn Award then you probably shouldn't be even reading this page.

Paxton had many subsequent roles, he was Floyd "God" Dane, the sniper in Navy SEALS in 1990, Detective Jerry Lambert in Predator 2 (earning him a distinction shared with Lance Henrickson of facing a Terminator, Predator and Alien on screen), Morgan Earp in Tombstone, Bill "The Extreme" Harding in Twister and portrayed astronaut Fred Haise in Apollo 13 earning him a SAG award as part of the cast.

He also had roles in True Lies, Titanic, U-571 and Vertical Limit to name but some of many. More recently he appeared in 2 Guns, The Edge of Tomorrow and in 2015 he lent his voice and likeness to the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Exo Zombies video game. Paxton had a long running role in TV with five seasons of HBO's Big Love and was nominated for an Emmy and a SAG award for his role as Randolph McCoy in Hatfields & McCoys. He most recently appeared in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and was currently the lead in a TV adaptation of Training Day

Paxton died on Saturday from complications after heart surgery. He was just 61, but his body of work immortalises him for eternity. May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

RIP Richard Hatch

I was at DragonCon with a group of friends in Atlanta in 2011 and in a large hall where many stars of both large and small screens signed autographs and greeted fans. I spied a face I knew who appeared to be getting ready to pack up before going to dinner. There was no one near him at the time so we approached him quickly and I told him I just wanted to greet him and thank him for his work. He was very appreciative, but as soon as he noticed my accent he was most reluctant to let me go with just a greeting. He packed up and sat on the edge of his booth talking to us for about 10 minutes or so. He asked me about science fiction fandom in Ireland and was curious to know if we had any conventions ourselves - because he said he would've jumped at the chance to visit here. He came across as an intelligent and well informed person who was genuinely interested in meeting people and interested in what we had to say. 

The man was Richard Hatch and he was the face of Battlestar Galactica from the original to the modern series. He sadly passed away today at age 71. He will be missed.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mattis to keep SPEARHEAD from POTUS

SecDef Mattis this week met with Gen. Dunford and the other Joint Chiefs of Staff [pictured] to discuss ongoing operations as well as future challenges that the Department of Defence is facing. He has directed reviews of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program as well as the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program. The reviews are commonplace to inform the SecDef of programmatic and budgetary decisions to make recommendations to POTUS regarding critical military capabilities.

What was not revealed to the media however is that Mattis also met privately with the Supreme Commander SPEARHEAD, General "Stomper" Santorno to discuss ongoing SPEARHEAD operations as well as fiscal concerns. In a significant deviation from standard protocol for a newly installed leader, SPEARHEAD did not hold a briefing with the newly inaugurated president last weekend to explain it's purpose. It is instead understood that SecDef Mattis, who was already aware of SPEARHEAD due to his former position as a U.S. Combatant Commander, has now recommended not revealing the existence of extra-terrestrial, paranormal or supernatural activity to the 45th President at all, citing grave security concerns. 

The new protocol will have SPEARHEAD communicate directly with SecDef Mattis, who will ask for presidential authority to sign off on operations under what he will call Military Action Against Non-White Non-Christian Foreigners programme, which does not exist but he is supremely confident the POTUS will sign just by reading the title and will have little interest in the specifics. This should allow SPEARHEAD to continue to function as it has been albeit for the first time without the explicit knowledge of a U.S. President.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mattis - Day One!

General... er.. pardon, SecDef Mattis [still getting used to it] was smiling at the Pentagon in his first hours of office as a variety of fighters, bombers and UAVs engaged in 31-strike bombing run, which saw 25 strikes in Syria and six in Iraq. In Syria, ISIS units and artillery near the town of Bab were destroyed. ISIS forces in Raqqa, received heavy losses as a dozen units, nine positions, two IED factories and an ISIS HQ were also taken out. There was an additional strike on two ISIS controlled oil wells in Deir ez Zour.

But it wasn't all fun and [war]games for the Warrior Monk. In difference to the POTUS, the SecDef signalled strong support to NATO on his first day on the job, by personally calling three major US allies and confirming that the US had an "'unshakeable commitment to NATO."

As a 4-Star general, Mattis served as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation and thus is a staunch supporter of the organisation. He phoned NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as well as the UK's Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon and Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan in Canada. Mattis emphasised the US commitment to NATO to the international partners despite POTUS not feeling as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer put it: "as though it's doing what its mission was set up to do or that it's being particularly effective." Nevertheless the DOD stated that the SecDef "wanted to place the call on his first full day in office to reinforce the importance he places on the alliance."

Stoltenberg noted Mattis was NATO's SACT and therefore "knows the Alliance's value well." With Minister Sajjan the SecDef spoke about the importance of NORAD as well as NATO including a NATO battalion that will be deployed to Latvia along the NATO-Russia frontier. Fallon and Stoltenberg spoke with Mattis addressing some of the issues that POTUS had spoken about, including that NATO is ill-suited to tackle terrorism and that members do not spend enough on defense. Stoltenberg felt Mattis made him feel sure that POTUS will be fully committed to NATO and to the transatlantic partnership.

This week the SecDef will contact some of his other international counterparts and meet NATO partners in person next month during the Meeting of Defence Ministers in Brussels in what will possibly be his first trip abroad in his new position.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


There's no doubt in my mind that the 45th President was watching "A Few Good Men" when he formulated the idea to put Colonel Jessop on HIS border wall. After finding out Jessop wasn't real he settled for General John F. Kelly the former commander of SOUTHCOM who retired from the Marine Corps last year.

Gen. John Kelly, USMC in 2014

I have great admiration for Kelly, his battlefield leadership during the invasion of Iraq was iconic as his opinions. During the initial assault on Baghdad for example, Kelly [who not long before had received the first promotion to Brigadier General in a combat zone since the Korean war] was asked if considering the size of Saddam's forces and their vast supplies weapons if he would ever consider defeat. Kelly's archetypal response was, "Hell these are Marines. Men like them held Guadalcanal and took Iwo Jima. Baghdad ain't shit!"

As much as I admire Kelly, it would be fair to say that there are concerns that someone with a 40 year military career is the best choice for DHS which has been led primarily by legal and security experts. Security was indeed part of General Kelly's mission in SOUTHCOM, which is responsible for the security of the Panama Canal and military operations in South America, but I feel there are nuanced differences here that would be cause for concern. 

The border between North and South Korea for example is presided over in part by the U.S. military for obvious reasons - but it would be worrying if the intention is to establish something in any way similar between the U.S. and Mexico. The military deals with security in vastly different ways to the way the legal profession and law enforcement deal with civilian security and the fact that Kelly was a 4-star military commander up to a year ago would be my concern, but my only concern.

Thankfully Kelly does not appear convinced that such a measure as a wall will be successful “a physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job’’ he said during his hearing and indicated that  technology such as drones and sensors would also be needed to secure the border.

All said, I wish every success to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly on his new appointment.

SecDef Mattis!

Amongst all the dubious appointments made by the 45th POTUS there was a single nominee that bizarrely made absolutely perfect sense - retired United States Marine Corps General James Norman Mattis to be the 26th Secretary of Defense.

Mattis is both a Marine's Marine and a general's general. Some in our community were worried that he didn't even own civilian clothes and still wore the uniform after retirement but when he showed up to meet the president elect, those ideas were assuaged to the degree that it's likely he only wears uniform items under his mufti.

Mattis has an almost cult following in the USMC and the military in general. His name is spoken alongside Marine leaders John A. Lejeune, Smedley Butler and "Chesty" Puller not so much for raw heroism or transformation but for being a keen motivator as well as demonstrating that intellect is just as formidable a weapon as a rifle when used by someone with the wisdom to know when to use which weapon. "Engage your brain before you engage your weapon," he is quoted as saying.

But Mattis is quoted for many many other things. The media dubbed him "Mad Dog" due to the perceived controversial opinions, stories and comment attributed to him over the years including an admission that he loved killing - "It’s fun to shoot some people.", but often the essence of the quote is truncated leaving out: "You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them," which obviously makes him a feminist standing up for women's rights, albeit by shooting people but the ends justify the means making it OK.

Rather the "Warrior Monk" than a "Mad Dog", Mattis' knowledge of military doctrine and history is formidable with a personal library once holding some 7000 volumes. He will think on an issue before acting and isn't afraid to stand up to his superiors - already in fact there were reports that the new SecDef and the new POTUS have different views on NATO and it will be interesting to see the resulting action from that. Additionally Mattis regards the intelligence services on equal footing with the military, even indicating so in his very first message to his department earlier following being sworn in:

Change is certainly upon us, but as least this is proof that it won't all be bad.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Bye Obama!

I'll be the first to say I wasn't in this guy's corner at the beginning. But by the time 2012 rolled around and the best that was stacked against him was Mitt Romney, I was.

Colonel "Whopper" Creedon, USMC and Senator Barack Obama in 2008.

Good luck for the future Mr. President and thank you for being Commander in Chief. I may not have always agreed with you but I always respected you.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Fuck You 2016!

With the single exception of the death of dictator Fidel Castro, we say good riddance to a truly awful year. Brexit, that Gorilla that got shot in the zoo, the Shawshank tree fell down, toddler killed by Disney World Alligator, Jo Cox and Andrei Karlov's murders, football child sex abuse, war continues in Syria, the Zika virus, terrorist attacks in Brussels, Nice, Berlin, Normandy, Istanbul, Florida, the U.S. election and worst of all: Brangelina is no more.

But more than anything, this will remembered as a year of death and sorrow for all:

Colonel Abrams, 67, American musician ("Trapped")
Sir Ken Adam, 95, German-born British Oscar wining production designer (Dr. Strangelove, James Bond)
Joe Alaskey, 63, American voice actor (Looney Tunes)
Jean Alexander, 90, English actress (Hilda Ogden on Coronation Street)
Muhammad Ali, 74, American boxer, Olympic gold medallist, three-time world heavyweight champion [left]
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Beckwith Ashmore, GCB, DSC, 96, British Royal Navy officer, First Sea Lord (1974–1977)

Kenny Baker, 81, British actor (R2D2 in the Star Wars franchise)
Erik Bauersfeld, 93, American voice actor (Admiral Ackbar in the Star Wars franchise) [right]
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 93, Egyptian politician and diplomat, Secretary-General of the United Nations (1992–1996)
David Bowie, 69, English singer-songwriter, musician ("Space Oddity", "Starman"), and actor (Labyrinth, The Prestige)
Pete Burns, 57, English singer-songwriter ("You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)")
PFC Hector A. Cafferata, Jr., USMC, 86, American marine, Medal of Honor recipient
Robert Carrickford, 88, Irish actor (The Irish R.M., Glenroe)
Leonard Cohen, 82, Canadian singer-songwriter ("Hallelujah")
Ronnie Corbett, 85, British comedian and actor (The Two Ronnies, Sorry!)
Paul Daniels, 77, British magician (The Paul Daniels Magic Show)
Steve Dillon, 54, English comic book artist (Preacher, The Punisher, Judge Dredd), 
Jerry Doyle, 60, American talk show host and actor (Babylon 5), founder of EpicTimes [left]
Larry Drake, 67, American Emmy winning actor (L.A. Law, Darkman, Star Trek: Voyager "Critical Care") 

Ronnie Claire Edwards, 83, American actress (Corabeth Godsey on The Waltons, Talur in Star Trek: The Next Generation "Thine Own Self")
Wayne England, English artist (Magic: The Gathering)
SGT Santiago J. Erevia, US Army, 69, American soldier, Medal of Honor recipient
Carrie Fisher, 60, American actress and icon (Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise), novelist and screenwriter (Postcards from the Edge) [right]
Rob Ford, 46, foul-mouthed and controversial Canadian politician, Mayor of Toronto (2010–2014)
Glenn Frey, 67, American songwriter, musician (Eagles) and actor (Jerry Maguire)
Brad Fuller, 62, American video game composer (Tetris), Director of Engineering for Atari 

Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99, Hungarian-born American actress and socialite
George Gaynes, 98, Finnish-born American actor (Commandant Lassard in the Police Academy franchise)
RADM Paul T. Gillcrist, 87, American Naval officer (Consultant on JAG)
Gary Glasberg, 50, American television producer and writer (NCIS)
Ron Glass, 71, American actor (Firefly)
Col John Glenn, USMC, 95, American marine and astronaut (Mercury-Atlas 6) and politician, U.S. Senator from Ohio [left]
Dan Haggerty, 74, American actor (The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams)
Guy Hamilton, 93, French-born British film director (James Bond, Battle of Britain)
Florence Henderson, 82, American actress (The Brady Bunch)
Drewe Henley, 75, British actor (Red Leader in Star Wars)
Gil Hill, 84, American police officer, actor (Inspector Todd in the Beverly Hills Cop franchise)
John Hostetter, 69, American actor (Bazooka in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Heartbreak Ridge)
Ken Howard, 71, American actor (Rambo, Clear and Present Danger, 30 Rock)
David Huddleston, 85, American actor (The Big Lebowski, Blazing Saddles)
Gary Hutzel, 60, American visual effects supervisor (Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica)
Barry Jenner, 75, American actor (Admiral Ross in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) [right]

Saki Kaskas, 45, Greek video game music composer (Need for Speed, Sleeping Dogs, Mass Effect 2)
Frank Kelly, 77, Irish actor (Fr. Jack in Father Ted)
George Kennedy, 91, American Oscar winning actor (The Naked Gun, Airport)
Burt Kwouk, 85, British actor (Cato in The Pink Panther franchise)
Melvin Laird, 94, American politician and writer, Secretary of Defense (1969–1973)
Flt Lt Keith Lawrence, DFC, 96, New Zealand-born British RAF officer during World War II, surviving member of "The Few"
Yevgeni Lazarev, 79, Russian-American actor (Iron Man 2, The Sum of All Fears, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare)
Michael Leader, 78, British actor (believed to be the Stormtrooper who walked into a door in Star Wars)
Richard Libertini, 82, American Actor, (Akorem Laan in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine "Accession", Rabbi in Lethal Weapon 4)
GEN William J. Livsey, US Army, 85, American army officer. Commander in Chief of United Nations Command/Commander in Chief, ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command/Commander, United States Forces Korea/Commanding General, Eighth United States Army
P. J. Mara, 73, Irish public affairs consultant, Senator (1977–1981, 1982–1983) [left]
Don Marshall, 80, American actor (Lt. Boma in Star Trek "The Galileo Seven")
Michael Massee, 64, American actor (The Crow, 24, The Amazing Spider-Man)
George Michael, 53, British singer (Wham!
Edgar Mitchell, 85, American astronaut (Apollo 14)
Alethea McGrath, 95, Australian actress (Jocasta Nu in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones)
Michu Meszaros, 76, Hungarian-born American actor (ALF)
Ivan Mikoyan, 89, Russian aircraft designer (Mikoyan MiG-29)
Rick Parfitt, 68, British singer, songwriter and guitarist (Status Quo)
MSgt Richard A. Pittman, USMC,  71, American Marine, recipient of the Medal of Honor
Jon Polito, 65, American actor (Modern Family, The Rocketeer, DC Comics IPs voice actor)
Prince, 57, American musician, songwriter ("Purple Rain", "Little Red Corvette") 

Nancy Reagan, 94, American First Lady (1981–1989) [right]
Debbie Reynolds, 84, American actress (Singin' in the Rain)
Alan Rickman, 69, English actor (Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)
Doris Roberts, 90, American actress (Remington Steele)
Major Erich Rudorffer, 98, German Luftwaffe fighter ace during World War II. 222 aerial victories. Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
Christopher Rush, 50, American illustrator (Magic: The Gathering)
Paul Ryan, 66, American comic artist (Fantastic Four, Iron Man: The Dragon Seed Saga)
Andrew Sachs, 86, German-born British actor (Fawlty Towers)
Joe Santos, 84, Actor (The Rockford Files)
Antonin Scalia, 79, American judge, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
William Schallert, 93, American actor (Star Trek "The Trouble with Tribbles")
Garry Shandling, 66, American comedian, actor and writer (The Larry Sanders Show, Iron Man 2) [left]
Gen William Y. Smith, USAF, 90, American air force general. Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (COFS SHAPE) from 1979 to 1981
David Spielberg, 77, American actor (Cmdr. Calvin "Hutch" Hutchinson in Star Trek: The Next Generation "Starship Mine)
Trevor Steedman, 62, British actor and stuntman (Private Wierzbowski in Aliens)
Peter Sumner, 74, Australian actor (Lt. Pol Treidum in Star Wars)
Alan Thicke, 69, Canadian actor and talk show host
Gareth Thomas, 71, Welsh actor (Blake's 7)
Ron Thornton, 59, Visual Effects Artist (Star Trek franchise, Babylon 5)
Ray Tomlinson, 74, American computer programmer, invented email and assigned use of @ sign
Peter Vaughan, 93, British actor (Game of Thrones)
Robert Vaughn, 83, American actor (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Magnificent Seven, The A-Team) [right]
GEN John William Vessey Jr., USA, 94, American military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1982–1985)
Abe Vigoda, 94, American actor (The Godfather, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm)
Maj. John Keith Wells, 94, Navy Cross, American Marine platoon commander (2nd Battalion 28th Marines).
Kit West, 79, British Oscar winning special effects artist (Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark)
General Sir Peter John Frederick Whiteley, GCB, OBE, DL, 95, was a British Royal Marines officer. Commandant General Royal Marines, Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Northern Europe
Gene Wilder, 83, American actor (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles)
Sir Terry Wogan, 77, Irish-British broadcaster
Anton Yelchin, 27, Soviet-born American actor (Star Trek, Green Room) [left]

and let us hope 2017 will be better.