I was trying to take a solitary shower deep in the bowels of the Utonic Manor 1910-era Country-Club style gym locker room shower stalls. Suddenly, I heard a voice.
We had run down on the high-speed road of death 💀 at Extrême nautical noon. It was 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
I ran with Ramon, Revolutionary Blacquéz and the Park Ranger.
We ran down the highway, the protected lane was very thin at the start. Traffic exceeded 300mph.
Our mile splits were bad. We stopped at 2.22 miles because it was hit and humid and we thought they were going to tow the van.
Fade back to real time.
“Botendaddy, your blog sucks because you have no con🏕 ⛺️ tent. It’s a bunch of mindless sexual raving about nothing. An amalgam of bad photography, 🏋️♀️ workout advice, bullshit war stories, silly literary reviews and the rare occasional Americana story. Madre de Dios! You are the sexiest man alive! I can’t stand it! You sexual silver fox! Ah the taste if it!”
“Are you Fouw? You realize that we have like a half dozen separate shower 🚿 stalls here? You don’t need to be deep inside my stretched-out bleached spermatozoa-soaked anus. If you were any closer, we would be in a relationship.”
“Oh is that how it must be! You are yum 😋!
Shroake The Park Ranger hidden in the mist.
”Are you Zhitay? How many people are in here? It’s one goddamned shower 🚿 stall?”
“At least four. Is that your massive oversized tasty oppressive devilish Easter Island 🗿 godhead Phallus or are you just happy 😃 to see me?”
Shroake Revolutionary Blacquéz
”The key to any workout is knowing when to stop.
Schwarzenegger or maybe it was Columbu who once said that if you don’t feel it, leave the gym.
Today, I felt that slight hamstring strain so I cut back on my workout. Not a pull, but a slight strain.
I got through the Squats OK, but I toned it down in the deadlifts and cleans. I also cut sets and lightened your in the leg press, calf raises, leg curls and extensions.
By the way, I’m down two pounds so far on my diet. I’m just eating more fruit and vegetables and less Beetus.“
“Why doesn’t Botendaddy use wash 🧼 cloths? Who’s washing my Phallus? I can’t move in here.”
Shroake Revolutionary Blacquéz
”You guys are totally Fouw. Who’s washing my enormous old-man-public-swimming-pool testicles?”
Pick a calorie level below your basal calorie rate and stick to it. So if your basal is 2,200, you pick 2,100. If you do not pick a limit below your basal weight you will never lose weight.
Frustration sets in because people don’t understand the science. If you were eating 4,000 calories a day and then you cut to 2,000 you have made a major lifestyle change, but your weight may not go down. The reason could be because your basal rate is 1,900 so you need to be at 1,800 to lose any weight at all.
Never count exercise calories against your food consumption or it causes cheating.
Exercise does not help you lose weight.
But it’s good for your heart and lungs.
Exercise does not help you lose weight.
But it’s good for your joints and bone density.
Exercise does not help you lose weight.
But it’s good for your mental health.
Exercise does not help you lose weight.
Waking is actually the best exercise for weight loss and to avoid injury. Running is destructive for every ten pounds you are overweight.
Use an App like My Fitness Pal.
Weigh yourself every day when you wake up. Record your weight. Don’t worry about your daily weight, it will fluctuate wildly. Just worry about your weight every seventh day.
If you are not losing and you are counting your calories honestly, then once a week as needed, lower your calorie limit by 100 per day. If you are cheating on your calorie count, count honestly for one week, to see if it helps.
Count everything you consume, except water as it is zero calories.
Eat a balanced diet. There are no magic foods. It’s just bio-chemistry.
If you are making good progress, cheat once a week for one meal and only in moderation. If you are making slow progress, cheat once every two weeks for your mental health, but only for one meal. The rare cheat helps stir the metabolism.
Track your waist measurement with a soft measuring tape. Sometimes you don’t lose weight, but you lose bodyfat, so you can still see progress.
Thats what I’m going to do. If you are going to diet, talk to a licensed medical professional or dietician first.
“I saw many signs on the campaign trail. One of them was held up by a little girl. It said bring us together.”
”There is a Great Silent Majority.”
”We must screw our political enemies.”
”I am not a a crook.”
”They won’t have Botendaddy to kick around any more.”
”America’s College Bums.”
”Let me make one thing perfectly clear.”
“Hank is a fruit, the last six Roman Emperors were fruits.”
“Solutions are not the answer.”
“I know you think you believe you understand what you thought I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is exactly what I meant.“
“I was not put into this world to live up to your expectations and you were not put into this world to live up to mine, so you do your thing and I’ll do my thing and if by some chance we find each other, it’s groovy.”
“This is the worst blog ever. I mean it’s 2020, who is still blogging? You tried to re-home the Boten-Daughter and she’s an adult! Your Quinstigram, Qwitter and Quotube channels have collapsed under the crushing sexual weight of your hypocrisy! You are an idiot! This is bull 💩!“
Shroake the CEO 👩💼
“‘ULTRA-MEGA-GIGA-MILLENIAL YAWN‘ 🥱! I downvote you! No likes! Doxxing, Brigading and Shitlording!”
(Subliminal Message: Read my goddamn blog and click like goddamn you! This is not a goddamned democracy! It is a Mussolini Social Republic!)
Shroake the Angry 😠 Online Social Justice Warrior Guy.
The first mile was not bad, the fastest since mid-April.
The second mile was also quite good.
“Botendaddy’s adult diaper is rancid.
How do you run in that yummy 😋 thing?”
Shroake the CEO
“I have massive adult diaper rash. But it is the price I must pay for diaperous Running.”
We turned around at the high-speed Frogger Road.
The next two miles were all uphill. The third mile was OK.
The 5k time was atrocious.
We had a passable four mile time.
”Look at my ass. It’s perfect!”
Shroake the CEO
”Yuck! A gross girly ass!”
Shroake the AOSJWG
“Put that firm tasty ass away! There’s kids out here!”
“Look at my anus it’s bleached.”
Shroake the AOSJWG
“Put away that stretched-out spermatozoa-soaked anus!”
On the squat, narrower stance. Feet only shoulder width apart. Bar low on the scapulae. Eyes up. Head up. No crap under the heels.
No incline on the treadmill. It’s tough on a weak Achilles.
Feet planted flat, shoulder width apart and vertically centered on the leg press machine. This avoids awkward Achilles positioning.
Start light on each lower body exercise for months. Nothing heavy.
Stretch first! Light stretching, no straining or bouncing. At least fifteen minutes. Keep your legs warm. No shorts. I use light neoprene wraps.
Never do legs on the same day as upper body. Save your energy.
See a licensed medical 🏥 professional before working out. This works for me. I don’t know what will for you. Kids, you’re on your own.
“Readership has dropped to zero, you fat sexy muscular sweaty 🥵 freak! No one reads you shit-covered drivel! Taste the yum 😋! Look at my goddamned titties! This is not a joke! Are you even a f@&king man? Are you alive?! Look at my yummy 😋 tits, you misshapen freak! I need affection! I’m turning 28. I wasted my entire life. All I have is school and your shitty Writer’s Workshop. F@&k me, goddamn you! Make a noise like a man! Who’s gonna eat my goddamned pussy!”
Shroake Amaya 🇯🇵 🇨🇦 🦄 throwing open her zippered spandex shirt.
Botendaddy (breaking fourth wall) So, you know what you wanted me to do. Yes I thusly gefyckked her. Her shroakes of Extrême ecstasy echoed throughout Utonic Manor. I defiled her in every way unimaginable. She screamed at the top of her lungs.
”Listen everyone at Utonic Manor! Botendaddy is f@&king me into submission with his gigantic oversized freakishly huge Easter Island 🗿 godhead! I am marked with his DNA 🧬! I am Botendaddy’s b1tch!”
Portesquieu, my erstwhile (no-one knows what the hell that means) Butler poked his head in.
“Now listen up, kids, these are real combat war stories. so there is a high likelihood of Extrême bullshit of the Pecos Bill variety. So if you young hornswogglin’ varmints will listen up, I’ve got me a story to tell.”
It was about a dozen years ago, somewhere south of Baghdad on some shitty dusty COP (Combat Outpost) (Should be Squadron Outpost goddamnit) of the glorious U.S. 1st Cavalry Division. I was a traveling vagabond, so I spent some time on many a small base.
There was nowhere to sleep 😴 so like an idiot, I slept on some abandoned mattress remnant in the bottom of an old cement silo. Turns out it was filled with lice-tick-mite-crab-thingys. I was literally (literally) covered head to toe with some kind of burrowing god-knows-what.
Eventually, I got back to my major base in Ur of the Chaldeans. No really. Ur. I went to our docs and they gave me Permethrin cream.
I go back to my CHU (Compartmentalized Housing Unit – a shitty trailer) and I proceeded to cover myself entirely with the white cream.
I was totally naked in my CHU and someone unlocks the door. I grab my rifle. Now I am painted totally white like some Apocalypse Now character and I am hanging high scrotum.
I’m like: “what the fuck are you doing in here?
It was a douchebag contractor and two douchey local nationals.
They’re like: “we have to inspect the CHU.”
I’m like: “I’m in fucking lice treatment, so fuck off and come back later, you fucking contractor bitch boys.“
They’re like: “We have to do it now.”
I go to the door, still totally naked, hanging high Phallus-bone and I push the first contractor into the second one, I yell “come back in 30 minutes and knock next time, you fucking fucks! I’m naked and covered with Permethrin, you fucking idiots!”
The point of the story, is, don’t come barging into my fucking CHU or I might blast your fucking cock off with .556 ball ammunition.
There is no better American Western than Jeremiah Johnson. Warmer brothers, 1972. A new generation is re-discovering this film.
It was a genre-buster. It did to The American Western what 2001 A Space Odyssey did to Science-Fiction. 2001 was almost in a fly on the wall documentary style. Detached, scientific, existential. No silly torpedo shapes rockets or ridiculous space aliens.
Sydney Pollak’s magnum opus has never been equaled. It is an absolute masterpiece of American film, stripped of the usual sappiness of Westerns and American film in general.
Stephen Gierasch as Del Gué, Delle Bolton as Swan, Will Geer as the old man and Robert Redford as Jeremiah Johnson are perfectly casted.
Before Johnson, westerns of quality were still sentimental Protestant morality themes about good vs. evil like High Noon, 3:10 to Yuma or Stagecoach, man loves horse, Indians played by white men in red-face, railroads and sheriffs vs. robbers.
Otherwise, they were lighthearted affairs like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, True Grit, or insufferable Gene Autry singing cowboys. I never liked John Wayne movies, I found them silly and formulaic.
Westerns, being non-controversial during the Red Scare, were mass-produced by all of the major studios each being more inane and irrelevant than the rest.
The Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns were brilliant in their own way, showing the brutality of the Old West through the lens of the anti-Catholic evil Trinity of the Good the Bad and the Ugly set against the good Trinity of the Father Son and Holy Ghost.
Johnson broke all of the formulas. Indians were not bad guys, they were just people trying to cope with an encroaching alien world. The mountain men rejected society, some like Del Gué, had few principles other than survival. The scenes of violence were graphic and ugly, unheard of for Westerns, almost shockingly unsanitized.
The characters are neither good nor evil. They are almost instinctual. Johnson’s streak of morality and justice almost results in his own undoing as he forgets the reason why he came to the mountains and he tries to re-create the normality of life down below with Swan, (his Indian wife) and the mute boy of the Crazy Woman. It all falls apart when he helps the Cavalry and the self-righteous minister to find lost settlers instead of respecting the Crow burial ground. The scene when he realizes his mistake as he rides alone through the Crow burial ground is brilliantly played by Redford.
Instead of filming on tired Hollywood back lots, it is filmed in real Utah Wilderness, making the scenery its own character in the film.
The point of the movie is summed up in the final conversation between Del Gué and Johnson, when Del says, “You should get down to a town, Jeremiah.” and Johnson replies with: “I’ve been to a town, Del Gué.”
The musical score is brilliant, but the theme songs are almost campy and anachronistic.
The film struck a chord because it was really metaphor for Veterans returning from War and rejecting society, as the Vietnam War had ended in late 1972 when the film was released. Johnson starts out in his Mexican War cavalry pants. The pants are allegory as they become more faded and tattered as he puts his old life behind him. Later, he speaks with the cavalry and asks them how the war is going. When they say it’s over, he asks detachedly: ‘who won?’
The scene in the Crow burial ground is one of the most realistically psychologically terrifying in American cinema.
Johnson, like the Indians, realizes that he needs to find more remote places when he meets a man who identifies himself as a settler.
If you haven’t seen this film, I won’t spoil it. You need to see it. If you don’t speak English, get the original version with subtitles in your own language or you will lose the voices. If you don’t like this film, you either have no understanding of American cinema or you are too jaded to appreciate it.
Christians are by all empirical evidence the most persecuted faith on earth in the last half century.
Genocide against Christians is taking place in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia.
In many countries where Christians are still a majority they are subject to hatred, ridicule and impediments to practice their religion. They are singled out in university classes and in vile election rhetoric.
This pandemic has been used as an excuse to repress Christian worship while allowing many other activities that are not even constitutionally protected.
When you see our leaders and our judges stay silent in the face of this persecution, it is silent consent to your persecution.
I am Jewish. This is how it always starts. The Christians are our only line of defense against annihilation. Jesus and his family are part of my extended family.
Long before Jewish persecution in Europe was a Millenia of persecution and hatred of Christians.
In Poland during the Holocaust, tens of thousands of Poles risked their lives to protect Jews. More are honored at Yad Vashem than those of any other nationality.
There will always be some crisis. Always some emergency. It is when these challenges arise that our freedoms are most important.
Watch your politicians’ responses, if any, after Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s comments today singling out the Jews and threatening police roundups.
They were also silent as Christian preachers were arrested or fined in Kansas and Louisiana and many other places. Their silence is consent. Their silence is agreement.
The five of us had just staggered across the finish line. Even in the morning, Central Texas was far too hot for running. I was soaked with sweat, hands on knees. None of the rest of our little group looked any better.
We weren’t young, we were older than most soldiers. Experienced Artillery Fire Support (Forward Observers) and variously Senior Fire Direction and Artillery/Air Support Planners. This was not our first rodeo, maybe our last.
One of the organizers walked over to me. A black-haired lady about my age. She assumed that I must be the leader because I was the oldest, tallest and loudest.
“We have your race shirts, honey. For the Spirit Team. You know we made them special, like you asked back in March.”
Said the race lady.
”We are so happy you could make it down from Ft. Hood to join us. I’m sorry the shirts are late, we had a little mix up with the supplier. And well. I’ll have em for y’all next week though. If we send em up it could take longer.”
I was stumped, then I realized! She had mistaken the US Cavalry Corps Artillery running club for the Spirit Team!
The real Spirit Team were mostly Comanche Indian US Army Veterans who preached the gospel of Christ while running. I had run a 5k with them once in Neu Braunfels and another time at San Antonio. I had a nice chat during a race once, with their leader, a Comanche fellow, about 70 years old, who easily outran me as he taught me from Corinthians.
Our current group were an accidental mix, We ran together to get in extra shape for the upcoming deployment to OIF. We were an interested group when viewed from afar:
Black from KCK,
White from The Mohawk Valley of New York,
Tex-Mex from El Paso, Texas,
Sioux Indian from Leavenworth, Kansas and
Asian-American from Honolulu, Hawaii.
It wasn’t planned that way. We were in the Air-Ground Section and we were all runners. Every free weekend we ran a 5k, 8k or a 10k somewhere in Texas.
We never noticed the coincidence. We all looked a little bit different. The Army was already a pretty diverse place.
In ten days, we would be on the plane to Iraq 🇮🇶 to fight in the forgotten theater of the endless Savage War of Peace. But first, I had single-mindedly resolved to drive back to Round Rock before we deployed to get the race shirts.
The Spirit Team, having not shown up for the race we had run in due to superseding commitments and they being deregistered, the race organizers thought we were the replacements, so I didn’t feel too bad about driving down the Centex and the I-35 South a week later and grabbing the shirts from the kind ladies of the Central Texas Social Workers Society who had organized the race.
I gave a generous extra donation to their cause as a thank you for the shirts.
I carried the shirts with me, prime for distribution, like it was a secret mission:
Even when the hugs lady hugged us 1st Cav guys as we got onto the plane,
Even when I spent a couple weeks at Buering in Kuwait 🇰🇼,
Even when we worked out of Ur of the Chaldeans West of Nassiriyah and North of ‘Sugar Shack’ and then
Even really everywhere from Basra up to Baghdad.
We got scattered. Forward Observation Air-Ground Teams get parceled out to the Cavalry Squadrons all over the region. Yet I carried the shirts with me always. Handing out the shirts was a quest. I recorded each awarding of the shirt in my little green not really waterproof notebook.
Month by month, like a traveling hobo, I would be living with a different Squadron or detachment. I would then run into a member of our ersatz ‘Spirit Team’
Shirt One – size XL
Evans – KCK
El Numiniyyah, July
Shirt Two – size L
Walks Like Puma – Leavenworth, Kansas
Majjar El Kebir, September
Shirt Three -size M,
Hayakai – Honolulu, Hawaii
Qala’at El Salih, November
Shirt Four – M-Long
Lopez – El Paso, Texas,
Balad, Camp Anaconda, December
I hadn’t realized that Lopez was on the base. I was at the post laundry, being that I had just arrived from 30 days on the border in a filthy state and a terrifying ride in a C-130’in a sandstorm, then I showered in a transient barracks and subsequently went to finally do my petrified laundry.
I was dressed in PT gear, looking rather pedestrian, lugging my Bug-Out Bag, Rifle and Mechanic’s Bag. My BOQ would be ready that night over at the ‘Winfield Scott’.
”Sir! Long time no see!”
It was Lopez!
”Chief! Good to see you man! How goes everything?”
”Copasetic, Sir. I’m good to hook.”
We chatted for a while about life along the Centex (Central Texas Expressway – Harker Heights to Copperas Cove) as he waited on the dryer and I waited on my wash.
We heard the brand-new and near useless iron dome go off like a giant 4th of July sparkler. Then we heard the ominous ‘incoming, incoming, incoming’ Lights went out, we hit the deck, then the lights went back on and after a fashion and a little tinkering, the laundry mercifully resumed.
”I have your shirt, from the Round Rock 8k!”
I brought out the magnificent maroon running shirt for Lopez. He marveled at its beauty.
”Sir, this is truly a Merry Christmas! The Round Rock 8k! We did so bad!”
We ran 3.1 miles together the next morning on the track inside the old stadium. We each wore our Round Rock Spirit Team Race shirts.
We had, coincidentally, a tasker to the same base the next day to talk about Air Ground Support and ISR airframes.
The convoy was the usual, Hummers, Rhino’s, MRAP’s then an ungodly long and boring day of going through the motions of doing tedious Army stuff for a good OER in a played-out (mature) theater of operations.
We got back around 1530, in a light hazy sandstorm. There was the usual backup of US and Iraqi vehicles, contractors, diplomatic vehicles and then the local national workers queued up for the next shift, as they waited to be vetted by private security contractors at the side gate.
The Infantry Hummers dumped us out unceremoniously just inside the secure area, being that we were both journeyman vagabonds, as are all Forward Observer types.
We walked with our heavy packs and soul-crushing body armor about 600 yards, when we heard a thick chilling thud. We turned around to see a massive column of black smoke rising cruelly in the gloaming.
Inevitably, we heard sirens and then we watched as QRFs and security teams rushed to the gate.
Lopez was assigned to incident response, so he raced instinctively towards the explosion, as some of our convoy was still in the traffic line.
I had set down my pack and by the time that I had untangled my M-4 Rifle, Lopez had disappeared into the golden hazy dust.
I ran to the gate (against protocol as they often set off a second bomb to kill responders).
As feared, on cue, there was another bang when I was only 100 yards away. I was shielded by the concrete guard posts and my ears protected by artillerymen’s earplugs.
I dropped my pack and against common sense, I waded into the backlit dust and debris amidst almost complete silence.
I could barely discern civilians and soldiers laid out awkwardly in the sandy dirt. I could see soldiers and contractors emerge cautiously from damaged vehicles.
I saw figures on the ground, any wounds hidden by the ubiquitous golden-gray dust.
There, on his side, was a soldier, his uniform almost white and it was in fact, Lopez. Still. Completely still and he was gone.
Time passed, as that is the way the world works.
I came home eventually.
Finished out my career a few years later in New York City of all places.
The race was more than a decade ago, now.
I think about it sparingly anymore as day to day reality often intervenes to smother the not so distant past.
If you just so happen to stop by for a workout and you pause to look up from doing sit-ups, there, hanging from a silverine metal hook on the pegboard, in a corner of my gym, you may find a permanent reminder, a Spirit Team Round Rock 8k race t-shirt, maroon, 100% cotton, long-ago cleaned, dutifully ironed and hung from the wall amidst other race shirts, race ribbons, assorted diplomas and panoramas of my hometown.
Shirt Five – 2XL-Long
The Author – Cooperstown, New York
Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania, April
Peace be the Botendaddy
Dedicated to my true friend Troy.
Names are changed and events are heavily fictionalized to protect the decent.
People who criticized this film entirely missed the point. It wasn’t supposed to be some rah rah film about Yankee Ingenuity. We get it. It was an American effort helped by German Rocket 🚀 Scientists 👨🔬 via Operation Paperclip 📎 while we were competing against the Soviet Union, with their purloined German rocket 🚀 scientists.
They had their heroes; Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova. We kind of loved them too.
We mourned Apollo I, we watched Apollo 8 , 9, and 10 and we wondered if we could be astronauts or engineers at Houston. Then one early morning of July 20th, 1969 the world heard ‘The Eagle had Landed’.
There have been several good movies and series about the Space Program. ‘The Right Stuff’, Apollo 13, ‘From the Earth to the Moon’. They focus on a few different characters. ‘First Man focuses on one, Neil Armstrong. To Americans he was a symbol, a man we never really knew. A quiet man. A hero. He had no flaws like Lindbergh. Classy in all things. America respected him by respecting his privacy. He earned that. Chazelle brings him to life for the first time ever.
Oh, Botendaddy is not patriotic? I guess being fifth generation US Army with my own service in Bosnia 🇧🇦 with the US Army’s 35th ID and then in Iraq 🇮🇶 with the US 1st Cavalry Division doesn’t adequately qualify me as an American who has an opinion on patriotism?
If you aren’t an American, then this little internecine conflict seems rather silly, so no worries.
First Man is about a very controlled man, an engineer whose life is detail and structure dealing with very tough emotions. In the final analysis he’s the man you send to the White House to talk to angry Senators. He’s the man you put in front of the press. He’s the man who carries the flag. But the only thing he carries that matters to him is a tiny bracelet.
The loss of a child before your very eyes, especially in slow motion as doctors and modern medicine fail, is a horrific tortuous experience. It is literally physically painful as your stomach muscles grind into tearing knots and you can do nothing for your only child and you watch your wife’s agony. You never get over it. It lingers over you like Poe’s Raven and you live every day in fear for your current or maybe future children.
This movie brought all of that back.
We see Neil Armstrong, the engineer, the fighter pilot try to control things he can’t control in his own life while he can control supersonic jet fighters and test planes in near space. He desperately calls doctors seeking a miracle cure. But cruelly, none of his skill and analysis and calculation can save his own child. He puts his notes and charts and diagrams into a drawer after he loses her to cancer.
All of his joy in his accomplishments are tempered by this overwhelming loss, it is only on the very moon itself that he can achieve some catharsis and connect with his lost child.
Ryan Gosling is brilliant. He plays an emotionally repressed character to tremendous depths similar to his role in ‘Lars and the Real Girl’. He is a man trapped in a world where there is a right and wrong thing to say. His actions are the only release for his tightly wound emotions. His words only come through when he shuts down the loud-mouthed eccentric Buzz Aldrin, played by Corey Stoll, after Aldrin blames the test pilots for their own deaths.
Aldrin was crazy, but also a campy hero who was a little like the common guy and we love him anyway in spite of his flaws.
Ed White, played by Jason Clarke as Armstrong’s best friend, has difficulty reaching through the shell of silence that is the only way Neil can cope until his brain has processed each trauma.
Claire Foy is very strong as the also very controlled yet adult-in-the-room as the very deliberate and level Janet Armstrong. She is the mother of the clan and she accepts the role because a mid-western simple American girl must, it’s not a choice. She provides comfort and guidance to a broken Patricia White played by Olivia Hamilton. But Janet’s loss is profound as well. Her eyes belie the pain of never being able to take her little girl to buy shoes, never seeing her off to prom or seeing her get married. She lost the only image of herself.
This lack of glory and man as uncertain archetype is also displayed in the technology. The risks are high: fatal test flight crashes, Gemini malfunction and uncontrolled roll, fire, terror and death on Apollo I. All the pain of unproven experimental engineering is unapologetically laid bare.
Chazelle depicts space flight as a dark, terrifying claustrophobic, violent, kaleidoscopic experience where only God, some unknown person’s engineering and your own skill can save you. This is in contrast to the slow sanitized versions we’ve seen in similar films.
The minimalist musical score by Justin Hurwitz helps the movie create mood by avoiding saccharine or overbearing tones and allowing the events to speak for themselves.
The inclusion of the political landscape was important, as the world had changed from the start of the space program when the whole country was united behind the space race as a matter of national honor and competition for then world’s attention vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. Riots, Vietnam, Urban poverty was the landscape of 1968. The vignette of Gil Scot Heron, (best known for ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’) doing a rendition of the haunting ‘Whitey on the Moon’ was a brilliant stroke. This only adds to the minimalist third party keyhole view that Chazelle gives us.
When Armstrong returns from space and is in quarantine, he and his wife, separated by glass are just the same two people they always were, yet under an unblinking spotlight on the greatest achievement of mankind, but their glory is nonetheless flattened by an unspeakable loss. They don’t share a moment of triumph as they contemplate each other in obvious pain, rather they are just two people who survived and yet are forced to carry on for the sake of their boys and duty to country.
It is an absolute tragedy that people missed this film because of the current shameful political dichotomy. If you get a chance, you should see this movie. If you’ve ever lost a child, you will truly understand it. If you’ve lost a child, you should watch it alone.
It’s a shame that people were steered away from this movie because the flag wasn’t big and colorful enough. In my world, real patriots don’t have to wave the flag. They live it.