When I was in 2d Battalion, 10th Special Forces, a program was initiated to take Green Berets to a higher level with a mixture of techniques.
The program was initially called Jedi Warrior– seriously– but then they came to their senses and called it Trojan Warrior, as the original crest for 10th Group was the Trojan Horse. Actually, 10th Group was the first Special Forces Group formed, way back in the day, when men were men and chewed rocks. The reason the first Group was called the 10th was to make the Russians think there were 9 more like it. Those old timers were actually hard corps– lot of guys who’d escaped Soviet Rule and were itching to get back at them.
Anyway, two A-Teams from the Battalion were chosen to get all the training. And my team, lucky us, was chosen to take all the same tests and conduct the same missions, but we weren’t getting the training. That made us the “baseline” to see what effect the training had.
The training consisted of things like martial arts training, biofeedback to consciously control heart beat and body temperature, working with monks on meditation, elite sports training, etc. etc.
Some portions of the movie Men Who Stare at Goats is based on Trojan Warrior. Other parts of it are based on the First Earth Battalion which I know about because the Colonel who created it actually came to West Point and gave a lecture which I went to. It was rather fascinating. He definitely had some good ideas. Or also some quite weird ones.
Other parts of Men Who Stare at Goats are based on psychic programs that various government agencies have tried over the years such as Grill Flame. Like most things I experienced, I eventually wrote a book (actually two) about it, sort of my version of Men Who Stare at Goats but taking it into the thriller/scifi arena. I actually use Trojan Warrior as a baseline in Psychic Warrior from which the Psychic Warriors are chosen. Researching various theories, it’s interesting how people have connected certain events to psychic activities– some believe the Russians sunk the USS Thresher using psychic power. What I speculated, since I write fiction, was what if we could project the essence of highly trained soldiers into the virtual plane, and then, the key, is have them reassemble with avatars into the real world at distant spots. It was a fun book to research and write.
The Trojan Warrior program was abandoned. And, actually, when the results of all the tests came back, my team scored as well as the teams that got the training, which didn’t help it in getting renewed. But I think the key was leadership; not mine, but I had a fantastic team sergeant, Dave Boltz. As anyone who served can tell you, a great squad leader, team sergeant, platoon sergeant, first sergeant, etc. makes a unit. Dave passed away earlier this year and the world will miss a fine man; but Valhalla has gained the Land Shark.
I really liked the episode. It reminded me a lot of the episode of Breaking Bad when Walt is shut in the cook room under the laundromat with Jesse. And a fly. The entire episode is just that. And it’s titled The Fly.
It also had the same extreme reactions among viewers. Critics loved it. A lot of viewers felt like it didn’t advance the plot much. Vince Gilligan actually admits the reason for the episode was to save money– he called it a “bottle episode.” And one has to wonder if a couple of the episodes this season on Walking Dead are the same– Rick hasn’t been in two of them. And this past week only had the two actors and some zombies getting killed. I wonder what they pay the zombies? When does a zombie go from being an extra to actually being paid as an actor– especially since they never get any lines. Does an actor need dialogue to get SAG credit? Which reminds me, do you know what Julia Louis Dreyfus’s first acting role was? In Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters where she got one line.
Anyway. As a writer, I find researching why something was written the way it was intriguing. The story behind the story. Most people don’t consider things like budget constraints, but it’s a reality. Same as time constraints. Writers, especially indie authors these days, are often under time constraints. But the key is to utilize what appears to be a constraint into a strength.
I got into Eastman as a character. He got an entire arc in one episode. That’s good writing! And we learned so much about Morgan’s journey and his arc. I have mixed feelings overall about Walking Dead, but it gets really good when it focuses on the living, not the dead.
I have that saying taped on my desk; it keeps me in check from bitching too much and getting irritated at other people. Mostly. Still working on relaxing while driving. You know, a first world problem. When I got the paper the other morning, there was a note in it. I had noticed that we missed delivery one day last week. No biggie. It happens.
Despite having grown up in New York City, where we learn the NY Subway stare, which is never stare, never look anyone in the eyes, don’t believe anyone, I didn’t doubt the note. Maybe I’ve been living in the south too long.
I’ve noticed I’ve given money away to people who’ve approached me in parking lots, including a young woman, girl really, with the baby in the car seat, the rest of the car stuffed full of crap who said she had to pay her motel fee.
Are some of these people shysters? Yeah. Some are. But that’s a first world problem too, in that what’s cost in believing? Our youngest boy, Corey, always wanted to give money away to people he saw hurting or in need and there were times I gave him a little bit of hard time about that, which I now regret. So I remind myself of that too; it’s sort of a memorial in action.
So we sent some cash– because we’ve learned out of state checks take too long to clear here for some people. We’ve had check cashing places call, asking us to verify the check for someone who had worked here on the house, and those places take a ridiculous percentage to give cash back. When someone needs the money that fast, they need the money. Yes, could be for not good reasons, but my wife has taught me (she didn’t grow up in NYC) that it’s better to think good thoughts than bad.
So that makes things balance out. There is a lot of beauty in the world, but there’s also a lot of suffering. We never know what hard battle that stranger over there is fighting. So today, I remind myself of that.
The idea for Inside Out is brilliant– to show inside the head with five emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. Then the idea is taken on a journey through a girl growing up and then the story revolves around her family moving from Minnesota to San Francisco. Naturally all those emotions come into play in such a tumultuous event. While the girl moves and settles into her new life, new school, etc., inside her head we go on a journey with Joy and Sadness, trying to get back to the “control center” where Anger, Fear and Disgust are in charge. You can imagine what that can produce.
The way memories are dealt with is fascinating, where they are colored by which of the five emotions touch it last. I find that interesting, in that memory is tied to emotion, not just the thought. What’s also interesting is how initially Joy is trying to run everything, which is to be expected. But that’s not the way life works. There is a purpose to the other emotions.
What the movie clearly shows is that we need all five emotions; they all serve a purpose. But they have to be integrated. All aspects of character, the five “islands” initially also are needed to be integrated. What’s a bit scary is if those islands aren’t made when you’re young, there isn’t something to integrate as an adult. I know I missed an island or two and essentially what I’m learning as an adult, is that in order to compensate, I have to do the infamous “fake it until you make it.” We can change, but it requires having the awareness that change is needed (moment of enlightenment), then making the decision to change, and then sustained action. Sustain the action long enough, it changes into a habit. Habits are hard to break and also hard to make. But change is possible.
And if you’re cat or dog lover, the ending credits inside the head of each might be the best part of the movie.