Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Art, Misery and the Marines

“How to Be Miserable”

In my younger days dodging the draft, I somehow wound up in the Marine Corps. There’s a myth that Marine training turns baby-faced recruits into bloodthirsty killers. Trust me, the Marine Corps is not that efficient. What it does teach, however, is a lot more useful.

The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable.

This is invaluable for an artist.

Marines love to be miserable. Marines derive a perverse satisfaction in having colder chow, crappier equipment, and higher casualty rates than any outfit of dogfaces, swab jockeys, or flyboys, all of whom they despise. Why? Because these candy-asses don’t know how to be miserable.

The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt and humiliation.

The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell.

-- Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle. New York: Rugged Land, LLC (2002).

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Welcome BBC Readers...We've Topped 100,000 Visitors!

This weekend the BBC was gracious enough to host a slide show with a sampling of my artwork, and a link to this blog. My 'sitemeter' has gone off the scale with visitors. It is very interesting to read the wide variety of comments being left here at Fire and Ice. I want to assure all of you that I do read the comments and appreciate the earnestness and honesty informing the thoughts of the overwhelming majority of folks who've taken the time to leave a word or two. I want to invite those of you who may take exception to my political views to at least take the time to view artwork and photographs scattered throughout 125 postings.

Sometime this Saturday my viewership topped 100,000 and I want to recognize this milestone. I started this blog in September of 2005 merely as a way to keep family and friends informed of my adventures, and to have a place fellow Marines could go to see more of my artwork. It became so much more than I could have imagined and has led to things such as being featured on the BBC. It is somewhat ironic that the very first 'combat art' I ever sketched was a drawing of a sailor and a Marine aboard the USS Guam Christmas Eve 1990, during Operation Desert Shield, listening on a small shortwave radio to the BBC.

Listening to the BBC, Christmas Eve 1990

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Maybe Islam Is Right About Pork

It's been quite awhile since I dragged my soapbox out and had a good rant. Here goes it.....

High up on my list of useful idiots is commentraitor Bill Maher. A couple weeks ago, after a rather lame bombing attempt on the life of Vice-President Cheney at the Bagram Airbase, he opined and lamented had Cheney been assassinated many lives would be saved. I have in the past commented here at Fire and Ice that the goals of Terrorism and Islamofascism are almost purely strategic in nature...namely making it on to the nightly American news with scenes of mayhem and carnage, and or deeply informing and influencing the words spewing from the mouths of pundits. Tactically they cannot defeat our troops going toe-to-toe, but strategically they can, and have eroded the fighting elan of our national will. Suicide bombers and their handlers know that tactically their murderous missions are exercises in futility. GIs will continue to walk the mean streets of Kabul and Baghdad, and locals will return to market places and mosques. The attack in Bagram on Cheney was tactical, however folks like Maher manage to turn these criminal events into strategic political victories. I leave it to you dear readers to decide who's demise would perhaps result in a lowering of terrorist instigated deaths. It's doubtful if Al-Qaeda et al is trying to influence Cheney's thinking with their suicide bombs.....influencing Maher and his ilk is another thing all together.

On another day, while channel surfing, I again came across Maher being interviewed by the equally useful idiot, Keith Olbermann. Maher was lamenting the Bush Presidency, which he characterized as a failed six year experiment in stupidity. He insisted that the next president had to be 'bright'. Now I'm absolutey certain that somewhere in his vast storehouse of genius opinions and lexicon of brilliant commentaries Mr. Maher has spoken with great eloquence about all the threats endured by democracy itself during the past six years. It's interesting that he is now advocating governance only by the bright.....this actually has a name, and it's not democracy, it's called an aristocracy. I wonder if Maher is contemplating an electorate limited to only the bright as well? (We certainly don't want the NASCAR guys voting in another numbscull now do we. No, what we need are only the uber-bright to vote, perhaps like the Yale students who burned copies of the Bill of Rights and the Ten Commandments on Ash Wednesday, and then marked their foreheads with the ashes.) Jim Crow laws did the trick for close to a century in the American South. Maybe it's time to revisit the concept.....let's call them Bill Maher laws....you got what on your SATs? Sorry, you can't vote. Or how about an IQ data base? 120 or higher gets to vote.....everyone else gets tickets to a monster truck show.

Congress passed a bill last week to basically defund the war in Iraq and set a withdrawal date. Apparently the bill was also heavily laden and lubricated through the system with generous portions of pork. Speaking of pork, a popular ABC talkshow, The View, has been getting a lot of attention due to the comments by one of it's commentators, comedian Rosie O'Donnell. Who knew she secretly acquired PhDs in History and Political Science. Perhaps Islam is right after all....pork in it's various forms may be the source of our fall from grace on the world stage.

Two other interesting things I came across recently are; 1. the insatiable appetite the Chinese and the Russians have for deforesting vast stretches of virgin woodlands (remember this next time you're at IKEA), and 2. The concerns the Olympic Committee has expressed about the pollution in Beijing and the effect this could have on athletic performance. I find these two issues interesting in light of the push by certain parties to aggressively confront global warming. Perhaps an inconvenient truth they need to address is only democracies are even remotely interested in doing anything substantive about environmental issues. Makes me wonder why these same folks are so keen to find fault with actively spreading democracy. Unless of course they assume that the best model of governance for the inforcement of enviromental initiatives is something a little more on the dictatorial side.

Finally, Iran is releasing the British sailors and Marines it illegally seized 13 days ago with great fanfare. (The Bush Administration needs to find out who their PR firm is. Churchill is no doubt rolling in his grave.) Syria is claiming to have brokered the Iranian release of these hostages. These are two nations we GIs know all too well are behind much of the chaos in Iraq. I liken this episode to a bank robbery where the bank begs the robbers to not only keep the money, but to deposit it in a high interest account. One thing our enemy can and do bank on is the predilection of some folks living over at the fourth estate to spend a little time marching in or closely behind the fifth column.

I hope all of you have a lovely Easter weekend. Janis and I will be heading up to my Mom's in Pennsylvania for an Easter Sunday feast with family and friends porking out on.......you guessed it, ham!