Saturday, December 13, 2014

Three-Man Army Reunion

In 1999, I tracked down a couple of guys I spent two years with in the Army back in the late 1960s. One (a former New York City slicker) lived in rural Georgia and the other (originally from Columbia, Missouri) lived in Austin, Texas.

Since my place was approximately an equal distance from the two guys, I invited them to northern Arkansas for a weekend visit. They’ve been coming here on occasion ever since to participate in our impromptu Army reunion.

For them, it’s an opportunity to get away from the wife and let off some steam. For me, it’s a reason to vacuum the rug and hide breakable objects.

The past couple of years, due to scheduling problems, they've been unable to venture this way for the gala event. It’s hard to imagine that you could have a scheduling problem with just three guys but we often do.

All three of us were drafted during the Vietnam Conflict. The government preferred not to call it a war. They didn’t want it to burden the American public with the knowledge that some of our military men and women were dying in swamps halfway across the world for reasons they couldn’t easily explain, but word got out anyway.

The three of us spent our two years at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia, in the Third Army Data Processing Company at Third Army Headquarters. Compared to what most had to endure during the Vietnam Era, it was easy duty, shuffling paperwork in an air-conditioned building near the golf course.

Now we meet on occasion and swap tales about our military exploits. Being three northerners in Georgia in the 1960s wasn’t exactly a picnic. Some of the locals were still upset about losing the Civil War and didn’t care to have a bunch of Yankee carpetbaggers residing in their southern midst.

The New Yorker who now lives in Georgia has three grown sons. The oldest and youngest boys have proven to be levelheaded enough to have found suitable employment and appear to be surviving in the real world. His middle son, Jeff, who seems equally sane, had opted for a 20-year career in the military.

Jeff enlisted in the Navy many moons ago and spent 20 years in the service as a welder in the Seabees. He was in the initial assault into Iraq. He has also seen duty in Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, Kuwait, San Diego, Seattle and Biloxi, Mississippi.

Life in the military isn’t for everyone. Once you’ve joined, you’re locked in for your enlistment period that is anywhere from three to six years depending on various factors. You can’t quit and walk away. You wear what they give you, live where they tell you and do whatever task you’ve been assigned to do. Nonconformity will be severely discouraged. You’re basically a small cog expected to function smoothly within a giant machine. And if you don’t function smoothly, you’ll be engineered and re-tooled until you do.

On the positive side, there are certain advantages to military life. The pay is reasonable and the job security is unrivaled. You’ll get free housing, meals, clothing, medical treatment and so forth. You’ll also have the opportunity to travel to foreign lands. And you can retire with full benefits after 20 years.

November 11 is Veteran’s Day. Everyone should take a few minutes that day to silently praise our military people for their valiant efforts. It’s fine to criticize the leaders who put our forces in harms way, but our troops deserve our support.

Stopping evil by force is a thankless task. Let our troops know we appreciate their sacrifice.

Quote for the Day -- "Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion." Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a couple of dogs and has a deep appreciation for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Year of the Goat -- 1955 & 2015

According to Chinese Astrology, 1955 was the Year of the Goat -- sixty years later, 2015 will also be the Year of the Goat.

Those born in the Year of the Goat are serene, mild-mannered and shy -- most likely because they like spending much time in their own thoughts. 1955 was the year Steve Jobs (Apple Computer founder), Bill Gates (Microsoft founder), Mark David Chapman (killed John Lennon) and John Hinckley (attempted to assassinate President Reagan) were born.

We all come into this world with a clean slate -- some choose to make things better and others choose to tear it all down. 

Sixty years ago, in 1955, at age 11, I began to notice that girls were different than boys. Actually, I had noticed it much earlier but paid little attention to it.

In 1955, life was a roller-coaster ride of joy and sorrow, much like today. The following events took place that year.

January 3: MR. SANDMAN by the Chordettes was the number one song.

January 15: In Sudan, Muslims attacked Christians and Animists; the killings continued until 1996.

January 28: Congress passed a bill to mobilize the military if China invaded Taiwan.

February 9: American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (ALF-CIO) was formed.

February 12: President Eisenhower sent U.S. military "advisors" to South Vietnam to aid the government.

February 17: Britain announced its capability to make hydrogen bombs.

February 24: Under political pressure, Eisenhower resisted committing American troops to Vietnam.

March 1: Israel conducted a raid on Gaza killing 48 Palestinians.

March 3: Elvis Presley first appeared on TV on a show called "Louisiana Hayride."

March 4: The first facsimile transmission (fax) was sent across the continent.

March 18: The University of San Francisco, led by Bill Russell, won the NCAA basketball championship.

April 5: Winston Churchill resigned as British Prime Minister.

April 12: Salk vaccine shots for polio were given to the first American school children.

April 18: Albert Einstein, physicist, died.

April 22: Congress ordered the motto "In God We Trust" to be included on all U. S. coins.

May 2: Tennessee Williams won a Pulitzer Prize for his play CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF.

May 5: West Germany became a sovereign state and promptly joined NATO.

May 11: Israel attacked Palestinians in Gaza once again.

May 13: Mickey Mantle hit three consecutive home runs.

May 31: The U.S. Supreme Court ordered states to end racial segregation.

June 29: The USSR sent tanks into Poland to put down an anti-communist uprising.

June 30: THE JOHNNY CARSON SHOW made its TV debut on CBS.

July 2: THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW made its TV debut on ABC.

August 3: Hurricane Connie devastated the U.S. for 11 days.

August 4: Funding for CIA headquarters was approved.

August 8: Fidel Castro formed his movement to rid Cuba of a dictator.

August 12: The minimum wage was raised from $0.75 to $1.00 per hour.

August 17: Hurricane Diane caused massive flooding along the east coast, killing 200 people.

August 20: An anti-French uprising by Muslims in Morocco and Algeria resulted in hundreds of deaths.

September 22: Hurricane Janet hit Grenada, killing 500 people.

September 30: Actor James Dean died in a two-car, high-speed collision in California.

December 1: Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Ala., for sitting in a seat on a bus reserved for whites.

December 9: Sugar Ray Robinson won the middle-weight boxing crown for the third time.

* * *

Sixty years later, hurricanes are still battering the continent, Israel is still conducting raids into Gaza, Muslims are still attacking non-Muslims and I'm still noticing women are different than men.

May the Year of the Goat bring peace and happiness to this troubled world.

Life goes on.

Quote for the Day -- “From sunrise to sunset, I was in the forest, sometimes far from the house, with my goat who watched me as a mother does a child. All the animals in the forest became my friends, even dangerous and poisonous ones. Thanks to my goat-mother and my Indian nurse, I have always enjoyed the trust of animals.” Diego Rivers

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a couple of dogs and where all the animals in the forest are his friends.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Movie Roles -- Quiz

Select the actor/actress who uttered the following line and the name of the movie

1) "Kid, the next time I say, 'Let's go someplace like Bolivia,' let's go someplace like Bolivia."
A) Montgomery Cliff
B) Bob Hope
C) Paul Newman
D) Ann Baxter
E) Sylvester Stallone

2) "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
A) Ginger Rogers
B) Tom Hanks
C) John Wayne
D) Sophia Loren
E) Art Carney

3) "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
A) Robert Blake
B) Bing Russell
C) Clark Gable
D) Elizabeth Taylor
E) Jack Carter

4) "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."
A) Kevin Costner
B) Daniel Baldwin
C) Victor Mature
D) Joan Crawford
E) Myrna Loy

5) "I am serious… and don't call me Shirley."
A) James Arness
B) Harpo Marx
C) James Stewart
D) Burt Reynolds
E) Peter Graves

6) "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." 
A) Billy Dee Williams
B) Helen Hunt
C) Carole Lombard
D) Judy Garland
E) Roseland Russell

7) "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."
A) Martin Sheen
B) Karl Malden
C) Audie Murphy
D) Steve McQueen
E) Robert Duvall

8) "This ain't Dodge City. And you ain't Bill Hickok."
A) Burt Lancaster
B) Tom Selleck
C) Jane Fonda
D) Gregory Peck
E) Randolph Scott

9) "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"
A) Nicholas Cage
B) Mae West
C) Danny Glover
D) Bette Davis
E) Ann Baxter

10) “Hail, hail Freedonia.”
A) Elsa Maxwell
B) John Lennon
C) Sophie Tucker
D) Groucho Marx
E) Connie Stevens

11) "Are you gonna do something? Or just stand there and bleed?"
A) Kurt Russell
B) Sam Wallace
C) Val Kilmer
D) Frank Sinatra
E) Billy Bob Thornton

12) "Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand."
A) George Kennedy
B) Strother Martin
C) Wayne Rogers
D) Dennis Hopper
E) Paul Newman

13) "I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it."
A) Sylvester Stallone
B) Marlon Brando
C) Warren Beatty
D) Mickey Rourke
E) Jackie Coogan

14) "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."
A) Peter Finch
B) John Cassavetes
C) Eric Idle
D) William Holden
E) Faye Dunaway

15) "Hey, don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love."
A) Charlie Sheen
B) Dean Martin
C) Peter Sellers
D) Woody Allen
E) Michael Palin

16) "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
A) John Belushi
B) John Vernon
C) John Cleese
D) John Cusack
E) John C. Riley

17) "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."
A) Anthony Hopkins
B) Anthony Perkins
C) Anthony Quinn
D) Anthony Hall
E) Anthony Quayle

18) "If you won't sleep with me this time I want you to know that you can call me up anytime you want and we'll make some kind of arrangement."
A) Robert Webber
B) Shirley MacLaine
C) Ida Lupino
D) Anne Bancroft
E) Cary Grant

19) "Birds cannot tell time, Kemo Sabe."
A) Johnny Depp
B) Charles Bronson
C) Howard Keel
D) Manu Tupou
E) Cheech Marin

20) "She's my daughter!...She's my sister! She's my daughter! My sister, my daughter...She's my sister and my daughter."
A) Joan Fontaine
B) Angelina Jolie
C) Faye Dunaway
D) Ellen Burstyn
E) Minnie Driver

21) "Here's looking at you, kid."
A) Donald Sutherland
B) Humphrey Bogart
C) George Peppard
D) James Mason
E) Eli Wallach

22) "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."
A) Marilyn Monroe
B) Meryl Streep
C) Basil Rathbone
D) Bela Legosi
E) Gloria Swwanson

23) "Rosebud."
A) Spencer Tracy
B) Orson Welles
C) Robert Preston
D) Doris Day
E) Raymond Massey

24) "I'm walking here!! I'm walking here!!"
A) Dustin Hoffman
B) Lee Marvin
C) Lee J. Cobb
D) Karl Malden
E) John Voight

25)"You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow."
A) Julia Roberts
B) Mira Sorvino
C) Lauren Bacall
D) Fran Drescher
E) Ann-Margret



1) C -- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
2) B -- Forrest Gump
3) C -- Gone With the Wind
4) A -- The Usual Suspects
5) E -- Airplane
6) D -- The Wizard of Oz
7) E -- Apocalypse Now
8) B -- Quigley Down Under
9) D -- All About Eve
10) D -- Duck Soup
11) A -- Tombstone
12) E -- Cool Hand Luke
13) B -- On the Waterfront
14) A -- Network
15) D -- Annie Hall
16) B -- Animal House
17) A -- Silence of the Lambs
18) D -- The Graduate
19) A -- The Lone Ranger
20) C -- Chinatown
21) B -- Casablanca
22) E -- Sunset Boulevard
23) B -- Citizen Kane
24) A -- Midnight Cowboy
25) C -- To Have and Have Not

Quote for the Day -- "Always make the audience suffer as much as possible." Alfred Hitchcock

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a couple of dogs and was cast in the role of "ticket taker" in a school play in 5th grade many moons ago.