Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Remembering the late Adam West

Long after the much too dated Batman serials of the 1940's were forgotten, Lorenzo Semple, Jr., William Dozier and Howie Horwitz developed an action-comedy version of the caped crusader to Television screens and cast the great Adam West as Batman/Bruce Wayne

West's Batman was a camp, dancing and delivered cornier one-liners than Schwarzenegger or Caruso ever would, but there ware many things that remained true to the Bat-mythos such as his defining detective skills sadly neglected by later incarnations by comparison. The show was a product of its time and while it can't hold up for viewing today, our memories of it while younger are fond and that's a legacy that Adam West, who passed way on Friday should be very proud of.

West had many small roles outside of Batman, but he accepted that the character had typecast him, however he embraced it rather than being embittered and accepted his status as a pop-culture icon in the 1990's and beyond. West understood and embraced how camp and dated this take on the character looked in later years and seemed to relish in every parody and tongue in cheek reference throughout his career, but never derided it. His list of voice credits as an animated Batman is extensive and he also played The Grey Ghost on Batman: The Animated Series as well as voicing the characters of Thomas Wayne and the mayor of Gotham in other series. He also voiced a parody version of himself as the mayor of Quahog on Family Guy for the past 17 years.

West defined Batman for a generation. While many of those born in the mid-late '80's will only define Micheal Keaton, Kevin Conroy or Christian Bale as the true Batman, for those born slightly earlier it has been and will always be Adam West.

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.