Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Funny Name, Serious Movie

When I think of sublime director-actor couplings in cinema the past thirty years, only a few come to mind. Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski, The Coen Brothers and John Goodman, Tommy Wiseau and himself. Another pair is sure to join the list: Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon. Greengrass is the shaky cam zen master, taking the helm for the excellent Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatium, United 93 and Bloody Sunday. His new collaboration with his protege is Green Zone, slated for March 10 of next year:

If you're wondering about the title (was REMF For A Dream taken?), it's based on the book Imperial Life in the Emerald City. I'm assuming very loosely based; no one on earth is enough of a bad ass to live the life of a rejected Greengrass espionage screenplay. I join Tom Ricks in hoping it breaks the annual tradition of awful Iraq movies. It would be a good start to the year. If we can get through the release without Michelle Malkin feigning outrage about Damon's keffiyeh, I'll call it a win.


What do you guys think about the trailer? I'm confident in Greengrass' discretion and I'm a fan of Matt Damon. It looks promising if you suspend a bit of that pesky disbelief.

Update: Here's the international trailer, now with 50% more Pentagon conspiracy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Make It Rain!

Have you been stop-lossed? Like wads of cash? You can get $500 bucks for every month you were retained by the pleasure of the government. Grab your DD-214 and go here to start the registration process. The full press release provides email contacts for alternative routes. You have one year to do this, so get to it!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

VA to call students to discuss GI Bill, timeshare opportunities in Florida

The VA will be conducting a special telephone outreach this week to students enrolled in the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The staff will be ready to answer questions you may have, the most pressing likely being, "Where my money?" But wait, there's more! The full release:

Representatives of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will be telephoning Veterans across the country to explain their education benefits under the new Post-9/11 GI Bill and ensure beneficiaries are able to receive payments due them.

“The Post-9/11 GI Bill is one of our highest priorities,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Instead of making people wait to hear from us, we’re reaching out to Veterans, so they can get the money they need to stay in school.

”The Department is conducting this outreach as part of VA’s ongoing efforts to ensure delivery of this historic, earned benefit for our Nation’s Veterans. VA is ensuring the large number of Veterans who are attending classes during the fall 2009 semester have received the education benefits they have earned. The calls are scheduled to go to Veterans who have applied for benefits under the new educational assistance program. Those who registered for advanced payments will be called as well, to ensure they received their benefits.

To protect the personal identity of Veterans, VA representatives will not ask for any personal information. Information such as birthdates, bank account or social security numbers will not be requested.

“Our procedures and policies to provide advanced payments remain in effect,” Shinseki said. “Meanwhile, we’re completing the on-time development of our automated processing system that will ensure timely delivery of checks in the future.”

I hope the VA reveals its goals for this mass outreach. Will they be flagging cases to resolve specific issues? I imagine it's more like, "On a scale of 1 to 10, please identify the level of blinding rage we've caused you."

If you get a call from the VA this week, please let me know the questions asked and and if any issues were resolved.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Defenders Need You

If you've been following the news from Afghanistan, then you no doubt have heard about the Taliban assault on COP Keating that left eight soldiers dead and the outpost destroyed. What the media hasn't told you is that the soldiers stationed at the remote outpost not only lost their comrades but all of the gear inside the base. The American Legion has stepped in and is currently accepting donations for a relief fund:

In the battle for Combat Outpost Keating, the men of Bravo Troop 361 Cavalry lost every possession they had, save for the clothes on their backs. Following this blog posting is information on how to donate to the Combat Outpost Keating Relief Fund. These men havelost friends, their outpost, and all their belongings. One soldier who made it out wrote that "most people back home dont even know, no one gives a shit". Well, many of us do. And you can prove it by giving whatever you can. These guys need things like running shoes, and other essentials, as well as some comfort items like iPods and DVD players. The American Legion has kicked in $1000 to start the fund, and your humble blogger will be the first to donate $100. I intend to get these items out by the end of next week. ANY amount you can give, no matter how small will help us prove that we care.

Tankerbabe has the lowdown on the specific items listed if you'd like to contribute that way.

The American Legion blog The Burn Pit has details of the fight. Those guys are some Grade A badasses; they were giving the wounded blood transfusions while pushing back an enemy force at least four times as big. And right now Terry Taliban is in his cave watching season six of the Gilmore Girls on their portable DVD players. For shame. So forgo coffee this week, cook dinner at home and kick some money in the fund you cheap bastards. It's the best cause you can find.

Update: Tankerbabe says "Mission Accomplished."

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Square One

If you picked up your emergency VA check last week but your bank refuses to cash anything written hastily on the back of a cocktail napkin, the VA has a solution:

VA is soliciting the support of local and national banks to honor and cash these emergency checks written to our Nation's Veteran-students.

In many cases these checks are handwritten and could pose concerns of fraud from banks. Therefore, VA has established the following special customer service call-in numbers for banks to verify the validity of any US Bank check brought to them by a Veteran.


Banks calling these numbers will be connected directly to a VA employee who can access to all necessary information to verify who the check was issued to, the check number and dollar amount of the check, and whether the check was previously cashed or not.

I hate to say I told you so, but opting for direct deposit would have eliminated this problem. Now veterans are not only relying on the VA, but the good graces of banks to make an exception to their own procedures.

Now excuse me, I have a betting pool to collect.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Little. Mobile. Different.

The Army is scrapping two heavy brigades for Stryker units:

The move to convert two heavy brigades to Stryker units signals the Army's shift toward a lighter, more quickly deployable formation that is infantry-focused and proven to be highly mobile in diverse environments.

And it further reduces the Army's number of heavy brigades. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had announced in April that the Army would hold the total number of brigade combat teams at 45 rather than the planned 48, and the Army nixed a plan to grow three heavy brigades.

I'll say it now: Stryker units are to Iraq and Afghanistan as airborne units are to WWII. The future of irregular warfare is here, and it's on eight wheels.

(H/T Sal)