Thursday, November 15, 2012

Getting Straight

"Getting Straight" is a classic movie. And, one that is incredibly relevent for today, especially in this election.  Set in 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War protests, Elliot Gould is fabulous in what I think was his best role ever. He is a Vietnam vet: a Navy Corpman, having served with the Marines. He plays the part of an idealistic, very verbal, slightly older graduate student. I first saw this movie years and years ago. And, one of the unintended consequences for today is that it reinforced my belief in what has happened to us as a culture.  We have become a less involved people, willing to accept events like Iraq and Afghanistan without blinking an eye. We no longer have a draft and the country is not invested in our military. Our culture has basically shifted from one of interest in "land of the free and home of the brave" to one of making money and creating wealth. In "Getting Straight", an idealistic student body railed against the war and protested for what they perceived was a lack of basic equality. On every hand, Harry, played by Elliot Gould, presented a practical approach, even contrary to what he believed. His goal was to become a teacher and he kept trying to sacrifice the real person of who he was to reach that goal. Realizing it was not going to happen, in a "what the hell" moment, he threw in the towel, with some dramatics of course. 

The last scene is one of the best I've ever seen. The stereotypes, a dozen or so, are sitting around a table as he takes his "orals" for his masters. He finally explodes with what he truly thinks. So relevant. Today, there is no approach like "Getting Straight," no real idealism rather how to become a 1%er. 

There are many reasons why "Getting Straight" won't happen today. It isn't only a loss of idealism but the country has become too big, too unwieldy, too partisan, meaning selfish. It is why a "Getting Straight" concept would be  important in this election. But, it won't happen. No politician will say what they truly mean (it is why Governor Christie of New Jersey was so refreshing as relating to the awful devastation of Sandy. He said, "f..k politics, my people are in need.")

The Presidency and the Democrats are the best chance of capturing some of the magic of the "Getting Straight" time, I believe. But, even if they wanted too, the political courage is simply not there. We are f..ked. 

Personality Factor

I have always liked the President. Here's a guy who can be making a speech, somebody hollers, "I love you" without dropping a word, he calls, "I love you back." He moves easily toward people. Sometimes criticized for aloofness? It is a management style, give somebody a job? Let them do it. Good father. Tackles crisis. This doesn't mean to say that he's not a politician but overall it is his personality, ENTJ. He has learned how to be a good president and deserves another term. 

But, my point is that he is what he is because of personality. How do we know what he is? We can only guess because of our understanding of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, the most popular personality instrument in the U.S. 

My first exposure to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator was in 1977, way back in the dark ages when I was in the military. Otto Kroeger, who is probably the foremost present day guru of the theory came to do a workshop at Fort McPherson, Georgia. I was a young Major and truly didn't know my posterior from anything. And, reluctantly showed up at the seminar. As happened, it was a turning point in my life's outlook to say the least. In the military, I was always on the outside of the mainstream. I (ENTP) would be in a meeting and it was constantly "group think" but I was not there--never seemed to see it like everybody else. The military iscooperate and graduate personified. I was a good combat soldier but get me in the confines of peacetime and it was a struggle. By this time in my career, I had already been fired twice and miraculously escaped being pitched out of the military. So, here was a theory that was mostly built around the idea that all of us are born with different personalities, plain and simple, not much we can do about it. This was revolutionary. Simplistically, it seemed that to get to know our personality and others and to be able to make it useful in an organization like the military would be perfect.

According to the Myers Briggs, you actually can be one of sixteen personalities and all of them have various characteristics and  attributes. Here is MBTI, 101. 

Extroverts/Introverts. Extrovert move toward people easily and find a certain amount of energy being around people. Introverts usually have lots of conversations but many of  the conversations are usually with themselves. One attribute is not good or bad, they just are. Sensing/INtuitives: Sensing types are "hands on" types. They love to reach out and touch. They can do things, fix things. INtuitives are creative and innovative. They always have time for one more thing. Thinking/Feeling. Thinkers are in their heads, they reason, try to figure things out. Feeling Types are in their guts, can be emotional. Finally on the Myers Briggs, we can be a Judging (all these terms are mostly Jungian ones. I would have chosen different ones) type or a Perceptive Type. These two, J and P really means how we live out our lives. Our live styles. This is all a capsule, out of my head. I am an ENTP. 

Once we take a stab at our figuring out our personalities, we are better at knowing ourselves, and most important, making good decisions. 

The Myers Briggs is based on the creditable theory of Carl Jung, the Swiss born Psychiatrist and somewhat rival of Freud. It was designed after years of research by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. The Myers Briggs could measure the conscious (as opposed to the unconscious)aspect of the personality. I actually wrote a book, The Personality Factor, read by only two others beside myself. Below are the 16 different types. The President: 
E-extrovert, moves toward people easily. 
N-iNtuitive-Innovative, creative; lots of legislation, creative appointments. 
T-Thinking. He is very much on his head. Figuring things out, practical. 
J-judging. Not judgmental. This is a lifestyle issue. It is how we love out our lives. The J/P is very importent as it conveys the idea of being organized as to being "open" about things. The President, ENTJ. 

The 16 Personalities:
[ENFP]    [INFP]    [ENFJ]    [INFJ]    [ESTJ]    [ISTJ]   [ESFJ]    [ISFJ]    [ENTP]    [INTP]    [ENTJ]    [INTJ]   [ESTP]    [ISTP]    [ESFP]    [ISFP]

We would expect a good Irishman like Mark O'Brien to be creative enough to tell such a story, which was an essay, "How to find a sex surrogate?" "Sessions" is really a good and warm movie. Who does not love Helen Hunt anyway? When she was on the long running TV sitcom, "Mad About You," she made it sparkle. And, an Oscar winner as Jack's Nicolnson's love interest in "As Good As It Gets." In both of these movies, she takes  dysfunctional types and molds them into their best selves. She gets most of the billing in this movie but John Hawkes is fabulous, along with William Macy. Both of these guys are amazingly understated. And, Macy does with his role what you would expect but Hawkes reverts back to the great part he had in the HBO show, Deadwood, where he was so good. 

For those of us who wanted to see HH's breasts, to be generic, this movie gave us the chance. Germaine Greer infamously said,  "Men are interested in two things: tits and ass and ass and tits." Close but I beg to differ, give us a little more credit. The movie had a lot of tentacles. Why more of the complexities weren't explored is hard to know. Pretty short movie. I would like to have known about Helen Hunt's son and the live in poet. And, O'Brian's first love and his Asian caretaker. I thought she was Hispanic well into the movie. All the women were pretty remarkable, even the first one who needed her pay advance. 

A fascinating and very interesting scene is where they just lay there, breasts bared. It was time enough to study them. They were not remarkable or they were. Really good movie, the best I've seen in a while. I hope it did well at the box office. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012


"Oscar, this is going to be easy pickins."
"I don't know, man, I ain't been into no robbin people nor stores."
"OK, listen, Oscar, you stupid mother fucker, you ain't got nothng to jangle in your pocket, no coins to rub together and no pot to piss in. So, what chance you got. You ain't, mother fucker." Oscar shook his head.
Bong was just getting warmed up. Bong got his name from carting water pipes and other dope smoking apparatus around. Want a pipe, Bong is your man.
"You got an old lady who will be on your ass and a little one and teenager and no work. This is bout ten minutes. Nobody gets hurt and we can get some change. I'm telling you, mother fucker."
It did look simple. Service station, one attendant.
"I don't know." Oscar watched this BMW pull into the station. "What the fuck," he smiles. "Look like those crackers got them a rider." Underneath the car something was dragging. Looked like two long steel pipes. This white guy gets out, on his knees struggling. "Hey," Oscar calls out, "just back over it."
"Leave them be," Bong said. "Let their asses get gone."
Oscar walked over to the car. "Let me see here." He knelt down. "Damn, this is a low slung car."
"Yeah, I know. The only thing I don't like about it. A little struggle and Oscar stood with the object. "Well, I'll be, an old folks walker." I've seen it all now." He smiled. "A fine 'Beemer' overcome by an old folks walker.

I am at the airport to retrieve my girlfriend. She has been to Omaha to visit her family. I know traffic is going to be a bitch: Friday night, I'm scared of the dark. It goes back to Vietnam. Everything happened at night. You sat around all day waiting and knowing that "Charles" as we called the Vietcong, was going to get your ass in the middle of the night. But, it is worth it all to see my girlfriend. I am like a teenager around her. I can't wait, my blood pressure is sky hight. I get lost going to the airport, a place I've been a thousand times. I see her. It is like she has come back from Vietnam. We hug, kiss, crazy like. Finally make it to car, kiss, hug, touch. Finally get on the road. Run over something in the road. It hangs up under the car. Damn, what a time to have this happen! Can't get it out from under the car. Risk my life almost in traffic. Finally make it to a service station. Black guy yells over telling me to back over the two long aluminum pipes stuck under the car. He walks over, kneels down and wrestles the two pipes out from where they are lodged under the car, takes five minutes. "Thanks."
"No problem," he says as he walks away. On the spot I decide something,
I pull out my money clip. I only have hundreds. What the hell, I give him one. His eyes are big as saucers. He is so happy. "Bong I'm going home."
"Oscar, you stupid fucker, you'll be sorry".

Oscar makes his way toward home. The $100 is going to buy some groceries and give his teenager her lunch money. He stops at the bar. When he pays for his beer with the hundred, the bar keep puts his marker over the hundred twice to see if it is real. "you are a lucky mother fucker."
"yeah, I am."
Oscar yells as he comes in the door. His little one runs to him. Where is your Mom? He heard the TV. His wife is white as a sheet. "What'e Up?"
"Your friend Bong robbed a store and was killed by the police. "

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ray's Book-FireHouses

Making good progressLet's get together just us and talk books. Hank doesn't know shit. You have to admire a guy like Hank, he's out there trying stuff but let us not forget the story Andy told us: the Adm got thrown out of ukelele class because he tried to take over the class as he thought he knew more than the teacher. To me, there are mainly two things that have to be considered: what do you want to do with the book and what are you willing to do. Something like LuLu is OK if you want one copy amd mostly do the work yourself. If you want a really good looking book that you are proud of, you have to go another route and set it up. Let's think toward next week for a sit down. on the rewrite/reprint of the Firehouse Almanac. More consultations in the near term for technical details. Hank has offered to help with the upload to the Web printer. Would you be interested in putting the Airborne Press cachet on this edition? No big deal, I think it would be a good fit.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Sometimes I find that one of the best ways to deal with grief is by writing, not so much about the grief itself as something related to it or a story. Take a look at this.

GusDavis Aughtry

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. Albert Schweitzer
Standing outside the door, I thought to myself, I'm not cut out for this. And, I wasn't. I'd run across many in the ministry who as clergy had some passion to be a hospital chaplain. Not me. The only reason I was in it today was through internal politics and a fluke. I'd just come back from Korea and was trying to get retired. Thus far, I wasn't having any luck. I was a Southern Baptist and there weren't all that many churches anyway. Plus, I was about as far removed from emotionally being a Southern Baptist as being on another planet. And, hell, they were political themselves and what Church wanted an Army chaplain anyway.
Ms. Byerly, (not her real name), looked at me but didn't really see me. One of the things I hated about hospital work was that I never felt I could do anything. A doc could give a shot or sound like they knew something and talk about treatment. I could say, I'd pray or some other innocuous bullshit, not that prayer was not important but nobody saw the results of it. Well hold it, I didn’t want to go overboard here. But, regardless, it always seemed to me to have a hollow ring like you didn't have anything else to say, so you said, "God bless you or I'll pray." Plus, it brought up all these questions in me. I could process the "mothers" in milliseconds. What about suffering, why did some suffer, others didn't. Why did the assholes of the world benefit and the good people suffer. F..k, during a hurricane or tornado, everybody in trailers or if you prefer mobil homes, got the shit kicked out of them immediately. See what I mean, I processed all of this in five seconds or less.
I said something like , Hi." And, then she threw up. All over my shoes. I got the nurse, the orderly came traipsing in: a big black guy who was imcredibly empathetic. "Don't worry bout it, this is my job and the chapain looks kind of scruffy anyway. This is good." He laughed. I laughed. But, I was ready to get the hell out of there but for some inextricable reason, I didn't but sat down in the chair beside her bed and watched her sleep. A couple of times, she opened her eyes and looked at me. So, very unlike my ADD self, I just sat. Finally, without opening her eyes she said, "Chaplain, there are three things I want to do before I die.” Without waiting for me to asked what, she moved on: “I want to go to Yosemite. I want to make peace with my mother and I want to have sex one last time. No, I'm not going to seduce you." She faintly smiled and then I could tell she dropped into a deep sleep.

Olivia and I became good friends. Once she was diagnosed with cancer, her husband had not touched her. We men are such f..king assholes. Then her Mom, from what she told me, was this narcissistic mother where everything revolved around her. We could be a TV movie she told me. My two brothers haven't spoken to Mom in years. She is on man three for marriage and several between. I suggested she call her. It was a disaster. It only works out in the movies or TV.

I didn't know the husband. He was a Sergeant Major stationed in Korea. I knew Korea. It is a culture that is inexplicably unknown unless one is immersed in it. I had believed for some time that we should get out of Korea. We had saved the country. The South Koreans had the best "ground" Army in the world. Meaning, of course, if they were attacked by the North, they could handle it and were prepared. I loved Korea but always stayed a little ticked off that they don't show more appreciation that we'd saved their ass. A GI, serving in Korea could get caught up in the milieu of life there: mainly involving a "business/working girl. Some might call them prostitutes. I never did as somehow I always thought they were doing what they had to do. Korea is a caste society. Plain and simple. It is governed by a strict Confucian code. If you were born the son or daughter of a taxi driver, you died the son or daughter of a taxi driver. Many of those on the lower rung of the cultural ladder, especially females moved to the little towns surrounding the military camps. It became a subculture that, for lack of a better term, trapped many a GI. He became ensnared, fell in love and the next thing you know, he's wanting to get married. At one count, there were 5000 American/Korean marriages a year. And, they did not all meet at the University.
When one of my young chaplains came with the request that we maybe could help in contacting Mrs. Byerly's husband, her pictured surfaced immediately on my radar screen. "Why couldn't she contact him?
"I don't know but one of the "Interns" thought would be good if her husband came home as she was terminally ill.
“Why wasn't he already home?” I suspected I knew.
"I don't know."
“I’ll check it out. “

Here is the basic difference in military chaplains and civilian clergy. Civilians will say God bless you and I'll pray for you. Military chaplains will say, "tell me what I need to do."

I wandered into Mrs. Byer's room on a Monday morning. She turned her head toward me and smiled weakly. We chatted for a moment. No, I take that back. We didn't chat. She looked like chatting was the last thing she wanted but she did do something very uncharacteristic. Reached out and took my hand. It was weak but touched me and said, "where have you been? I told you I was not going to seduce you." I smiled. She smiled and closed her eyes.
What the f..k, where is that sorry ass husband and then I ventured forth with a comment on him. "No, I'm fine without him."
" Why?"
" Well, he could have come if he wanted too."
"Sure but still..." My voice kind of trailed off and I thought to myself as she drifted into that drug induced slumber that took her away from my presence. I thought to myself,"looks like he's not coming and we can't make him". This was one of those times when I wish that I didn’t know about Korea. Are you sure now as I continued the conversation with myself. "I am sure."

I sighed as I left the room, still doing that 5 second think. This was one of those thousands of dilemmas that I often found myself in. A personality thing I guess. Nothing was required of me. But, I knew I wouldn't let it alone. Hell, I'd been fired four times in my not so illustrious career.

I had my suspicions about the good Sergeant Major Brown. The MFer was probably shacked up in Korea with some Korean business/working girl. I didn't blame him. Whoa! You don't know that. Reserve judgment until you really know what is going on. Give the man the benefit of the doubt. I'd learned a long time ago, none of us know what goes on inside families. This has probably been hard all the way around. Wife getting this insidious disease. A husband who couldn't step up to the plate. I don't believe my bullshit for a minute. The Sergeant Major, leader of men, this guy is suppose to be able to handle it. I was a little biased. I never could figure out what any Sergeant Major was suppose to do. In Vietnam, I remember thinking that all I saw them do was follow the commander around. Major Sansom, the Ops officer, probably prejudiced me as he kept saying, "if the Colonel stopped abruptly, the Sergeant Major would break his nose."
Anyway, this was all rolling around my head as I kept trying to find the Sergeant Major. Finally I chased him down at one of the support commands at Camp Humphrey. I knew it well. "Sergeant Major, this is the chaplain at Letterman." Long pause.
"I'm calling about your wife." Long pause.
"Yes." What is it with this fucker.
"Well, Sergeant Major, she's pretty sick."
"I know that. What do you want me to do about it?"
"Sergeant Major, I sure don't want to intrude but it might encourage your wife if you came home.”
"Chaplain, my wife and I have talked about it and frankly, it is none of your business." He hung up. Well, damn, that went well.
He would have been better off had he hit me in the face. One sorry son of a bitch. I walked around for awhile, went outside, sat down, stood up. I was seething. What the hell to do?
“Well Chaplain, if the Command Sergeant Major doesn't want to come home, I can't make him." Long pause.
“Colonel, you are his boss and this looks like one of the times for him to do the right thing. " Long pause
“Sorry Chaplain, not my call.” Long Pause.
Sir, I tell you and I understand but I can't let this go. My next call will be to the General or some general.” Long pause.
“Chaplain, are you threatening me?"
“I am” and this time I hung up.

The young chaplain spotted in the doorway. “Sir, the Sergeant Major is here.”
“Good.” I went to Olivia's room. The Sergeant Major and I were civil. Olivia seemed to be a little more alert. As far as she knew, the Sergeant Major came on his own. Maybe he did.
There's some postscript to this tale. I was in the hospital early one morning and Olivia was in the little snack bar. I was so happy to see her and she me. We chatted and suddenly she said, "Chaplain, I have some great news.” Without answering she said, “God has healed me. I just know it.” For a moment I was at a loss for words. OK, where are my five seconds?
“Oh, that is wonderful., how did it come about.”
“I just felt it and can’t wait to see my doctor. I seem to feel so much better.” Maybe having the Sergeant Major home has made her feel better. I saw it in men all the time who had been to Korea, once they were home, they took another look at that life in the “land of the almost just right” as we often called Korea.
Olivia died two weeks later. I was sad beyond belief. Her services were a few days later. As I sat toward the back in a full Church, the Priest did his thing and I momentarily thought, how in the hell can people get into this stuff. The priest in all his garb, waving something that was water I guess and then a pot with smoke. What the hell was that. I immediately slapped myself. My five seconds. What the f..k is wrong with me. I am an asshole. I’m going to miss my friend, wish I could tell these folks how wonderful I thought she was. I guess this was the Sergeant Major’s last “got you”, not including me in her services. MFer, asshole. I am so awful.
The Priest stood. “It is always my custom to asked anyone who is here if they would like to say a word. If so, just please come up and comment.” I was on my feet and moving toward the front. I stopped momentarily and put my hand on the casket. Thanks Olivia, I’ll miss you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Reverend Denise Autry and her husband Wally, have a wonderful ministry in North Carolina with prison inmates. Below is one among many with an interesting story. Hello. Thank you for visiting TYL CHRISTIAN CROSSES.I think you will find this site is a little different from what you usually see. If I may, let me tell you the reason and the meaning for our crosses.Seven years ago, after over 30 years in sales, I found myselfstanding in a courtroom in front of a judge. No, no drugs, noviolent crime, just,(as they call it), white collar/paper/moneycrimes. I had tried to do the right things, but ended up doingit in the wrong ways.If anyone had ever told me I would go to prison I would have told them they had lost their mind. You see, I had always tried to be a good person, to help people, and had gone to churchall my life. I took my children to church and, yes, had beenbaptized. But, as we sometimes learn, the Lord can bringyou to His purposes in some strange ways.As I lay on a plastic mattress, on the floor of the jail that firstnight, I closed my eyes and said, "Lord, I don't know what youdid today, but I know I trust you and that you will take care of meand my family." Thus, the journey began.I decided that instead of looking at it as being in prison I would look at it as going to college. I would read, learn, assess, research,and plan for the future. What happened was, I thought about the pastand what had brought me to where I was, and I studied, researched, andplanned new ideas for when I returned home. But most importantly,where I used to go to church once a week I now went 3 to 4 timesa week. I had read through the Bible years earlier, but I now took ayear and ahalf and studied through it, and then read it 2 more times.And, this is what I realized. I had had religion all my life, but there isa difference between having religion and having a relationship.I realized that it's not about me/us, it's about Him. We are here for Him.Of course, my entire outlook on life and way of living changed. I'm sureyou know and understand.Okay, where did the crosses come from you're asking? One of the jobs Ihad while there was in an engineering department. I had always worna cross, but had been without one for 3 years. I missed my cross. So,one day I hand made a stainless steel cross. I cut it out with a hacksaw,hand filed and shaped it, and polished it. Then came the idea to stampsomething across the front. I was so used to saying" Thank You Lord"all day, every day, whenever something good happened, or when I asked the Lord for guidence, that the perfect letters to me were, TYL, Thank You Lord.Wearing the cross, and touching it through my shirt each time I said this,gave me such a feeling of peace and comfort, but even more so it kept mein constant, all day, praise to Him. And, you know how when God gives yousomething you want to share it. I begin to think that maybe this was a wayHe gave me to share with you and maybe the cross would bring you somepeace and comfort and help you remember to give thanks each day to Him.The crosses are individually hand made from stainless steel, (chains are stainless also), so they will always stay clean and shiny. And last, in keeping with the teachings of the Bible, 10% of the price of each crosswill be given to -------------------. Shipping is free and each cross has a 100% guarantee.Thank you again for visiting TYL CHRISTAIN CROSSES. Have a blessed day. Jerry, for Bob it was considered a white collar crime. Basically he sold property that was not his to sell. He paid the money back to the individual but the judge still ruled prison time. Bob says he could have used the money for a "good" lawyer. He knows now there was a purpose for his time. He lived in Raleigh for a number of years but decided to move back to Lillington after getting out of prison a year ago. He stays with his 84 year old mother who has some bouts with dementia. He says sometimes he runs into old high school friends and they ask where he has been the last few years...then he has the opportunity to tell his story. Bob is 62 years old. He is involved in a local church in Lillington. He saved all his money that he made while on weekly work release in prison, he gets social security now. He also buys cars, makes upgrades and resells them. He also collects wood pallets that companies do not want and he resells them. He also sells scrap metal. He is not lazy for sure and has an entrepreneural spirit. He now documents all sales, saves all receipts for tax purposes for his own protection. You can tell he is thankful for his freedom. He does admit that $5000 was not a lot of money to do 7 years in prison but amazingly he has no regrets. Unfortunately most ex inmates do not have that attitude.