"Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller

Sunday, August 27, 2006
 
World Trade Center - Movie Review
I don't go see many movies for one simple reason: It is simpler to amend the United States Constitution than it is to move heaven and earth to the point the Ravishing Mrs. Cordeiro and I can go to the theater.

When I learned a major motion picture was being made about the story of two Port Authority Policemen who survived the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, I knew it was a movie I had to see. I'll admit the fact the film was directed by Oliver Stone made me think twice.

You can say what you want about Stone and his crack pot conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination, but you have to admit the man can direct a gripping piece of cinema.

Stone carefully crafts the story of PAPD Sergeant John McLoughlin and Patrolman William J. Jimeno as they endure what can only be described as Hell on Earth. Buried in the collapse of Tower 2, they somehow manage to survive the collapse of Tower 1 and the additional WTC buildings that fell on that Tuesday morning.

It is a story of courage. It is a story of survival. It is a story of hope.

It is also a story of duty. Intermingled with the buried cops is the story of a Marine Staff Sergeant Dave Karnes. Staff Sergeant Karnes had been out of the Corps for some years prior to the attacks of September 11. He watched, as we did, the events unfold on television. He heard the call of his country and didn't wait for the paperwork. He put his uniform on, sped to the scene, and along with another Marine (also not active) climbed the mountains of debris looking for survivors. They found McLoughlin and Jimeno.

This film cannot be accurately reviewed. I cannot here impart the experience of this movie. You have to see it - on the big screen - to get even a small measure of what these men experienced on that day.

Films like World Trade Center and United 93 are few. There need to be more of them. Much more.

Some claim its too "early" for such reminders of September 11, 2001. Such people would like to turn back time and return to an era when Islamofacist Murdering Thugs didn't threaten our very lives and those of the ones we love. Sadly, a return to such an era isn't possible. We need to be reminded of just what happened that day. We must never forget.

Memo to Oliver Stone: Well done. Well done. If the Academy can't see this for what it is, then they really are blind and stupid.

On a personal note: This September will mark the 5th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Five years is a long time. Yet, after all this time, there is still a 20 acre hole in the heart of Manhattan. How long will we allow the New York City Skyline to be dictated by some cowardly bastard hiding in a cave?

Here endeth the lesson.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
 
Theme Park Lessons

This year's family vacation has taken us south down the Eastern Seaboard to the Plywood (formerly Sunshine) state of Florida. Carved deep in the stone foundations upon which the Cordeiro family is built is written the rule that expressly states that when visiting a state with a Disney theme park is located, patronization thereof is mandatory.

Hence this post (as you will see below) comes to you via the cramped keyboard of a Blackberry. Apologies for spelling and typos in advance.

Disney has been doing theme parks for over a half-century now. All things considered, they do a pretty good job of it. Somehow they manage to convince people to drop a few bills just to get through the gate and then spend hours in line for rides that last less than 15 minutes. Add another bill or two for lunch and dinner and you could easily a large or two by the time you pick up your Mickey ears on the way out.

Much of the Disney parks are built around the movies produced over the past 50 years. One of the most popular rides is the famous Splash Mountain. Nobody comes off that ride dry. As you may or may not be aware, Splash Mountain was inspired by the movie Song of the South. If you haven't seen it, you're not alone. For reasons I won't get into here, Jesse Jackson and company has made sure that nobody will ever see B'rers Bear, Fox, and Rabbit on the screen again, nor will you see Uncle Remus sing Zipadeedoodah. Say what you want about "racial sensitivity", but I think that kind of censorship is wrong.

As much an attraction as are the rides, the people are often far more entertaining. In no other place will you find a more interesting collection of attire and headgear. This brings me to my next point: After years of patronizing theme parks, I've decided to offer some suggedtions on wardrobe choice, since so many of my fellow park users seem to have such a difficult time with this issue. Here are a few pointers:

1. What you have not all of us want to see. This area is most often violated by the female gender, however I have seen some serious transgression on the male side as well. If there's a possibility its a) too short, b) too tight, or c) makes you look fat - it is or does. Guys - leave the tank tops and cutoff shirts for yard work. Showing up in public wearing a "wife-beater" is just bad form.

2. Hats. Let's get serious here. Do you honestly think you'll eve wear the Goofy Top Hat outside the park? You do realize you just plunked down 20 clams for that piece of felt covered styrofoam. Don't say I didn't warn you.

But, what do I know? I've just spent an hour in the searing Florida sun waiting for a 12 minute ride. So, if you'll excuse me, I've got an appointment with Cordeirinho and a parade.

Here endeth the lesson.
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Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld


Monday, August 07, 2006
 
Running Lines With Big Jerry
With the start of August, the practice fields around High Schools across the country are being filled by young men preparing for the upcoming football season. They will don pads and helmets in a ritual under taken by their fathers and grandfathers before them. They will endure soaring temperatures, bruising workouts, and conditioning drills which - if evaluated by Amnesty International - would be decried as torture.

Some of these football programs will in fact border on the torturous. Its called Three-A-Day's - practices which begin before dawn and end after sunset and involve running until your lungs explode.

I believe it was my senior year when Big Jerry joined our team. Big Jerry was a likeable guy who loved the game of football. He loved it because it gave him a chance to be part of the team. He didn't come by the moniker of Big Jerry by accident. Jerry stood at just over 6 feet and weighed in at easily 375 pounds. He wasn't fast or nimble. He knew he wouldn't start, but that never stopped him from wanting to play. He never finished first in the the sprints, runs, or any other conditioning drills. Neither did I, but this isn't about me. What's important about Big Jerry is that he always finished.

Near the end of particularly scorching day, the denizens of torture - commonly known as coaches - addressed the team and declared that day's conditioning drill would consist of "Running Lines".

The team groaned - collectively. You see, Running Lines consists of forming groups of roughly twenty guys. You start from one sideline, run to the first hash mark, run back to the sideline, run to the far hash mark, run back to the sideline, and then run to the opposite sideline. You do this four times. Six if the coaches decide to use the drill to "build character".

Here's a picture for those unfamiliar with a football field.


The drill takes about 90 minutes to finish. After 90 minutes of wind sprints, even the most fit among us was ready to pass out.

Big Jerry was in the last group of 20 guys. You can probably guess where he placed each time his group finished its rotation. He lumbered across the field each time - never quitting - gasping for breath each time he came across the sideline. The sun was setting when he started his final run from sideline to sideline. He was alone on that field - all others having finished their final sprint. So we watched, some standing, some sitting, some sprawled on the matted grass, as Big Jerry started to lumber back across the field in a very slow jog.

Then he stopped. Hands on his knees, chest heaving. The physical toll in addition to the hotter than hell elements had finally gotten to him. He could go no further.

Then something remarkable happened. A cheer of encouragement came from the side line. One voice, then another, then a chorus of "C'mon Jerry"! "Big Jerry!". Jerry stood there, still hands on knees, seemingly oblivious to what to him must've been faint voices.

I don't remember who went first, but one by one, then slowly the whole team left the sideline and ran to where Big Jerry stood. We grabbed his jersey, shorts and whatever else we could and pushed, carried, and otherwise shoved him across the sideline.

It was, on that day, we truly became a team. We would not leave one of our brethren behind. He may not have been a star, but he was one of us. That day we finished our drill together.

Most of the lessons taught on the grid iron are not seen under the Friday Night Lights, Saturday afternoon sunshine, or the Sunday spectacles. They are learned on the practice field and only understood in hindsight.

Let the teaching begin.

Here endeth the lesson.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
 
President Sterling Watson

To the unassuming person, Sterling Watson is just another 11-year-old boy with big dreams. Most boys that age have them. Their lives are a book of yet unfilled pages waiting for a story to be written upon them. 11-year-old boys are limited only by what they can dream.

Believe me, dear reader, Sterling Watson has big dreams. In addition to those dreams, Sterling also has terminal cancer.

There are some words in the English language that never should be put together. Two of those words are Pediatric and Oncology. That said, cancer doesn't discriminate.

One of my favorite charities, bar none, is the Make A Wish Foundation. If you're unfamiliar with them, let me summarize their message. They take people who don't have much time left on this earth and make fulfill their biggest wish.

Some kids want to go to Disneyland. Some kids want to be a police officer or fire fighter for a day. To Sterling, those wishes are small potatoes. Sterling wanted the top job. He wanted to be President of the United States.

I won't go into the details of what it took to bring this wish to reality. After all, the Federal Government is involved. But when you're dealing with a kid who might not see his 12th birthday, even slowest of bureaucracies moves with lightning speed.

So, for a day, Sterling Watson became President of the United States. He was taken via motorcade and Blackhawk helicopter to several different federal agencies where he got to be the man in charge. He reviewed the troops at Comney Hall, home of the United States Army's Old Guard. He received a 21 Gun Salute and gave the order for a team of Federal Air Marshals to retake a hijacked airplane. Even with all this action, he still found time to do a presidential lunch - at Ben & Jerry's. Now there's a kid with good taste in food.

The world needs more people who dream big dreams. Who knows what Sterling could do with four years in the White House.

Fare thee well, President Watson. Godspeed.


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