Saturday, February 03, 2007
Power to the (i)Pod, People!
Yes, yes, I’ve been gone for…a while. Get over it. To throw out the old clichés…I’ve been so busy, it’s been crazy, or, one of my old faves, I just haven’t had time…
Well, those all apply, but I’ll also add in that I’ve been lazy and unmotivated to knock out a blog. SO sue me.
So, I can imagine that we’d all like to hear about how many people I’ve killed and how many bombs I’ve dodged and “what’s it like” style questions, but, for the purposes of OPSEC (Operational Security) and to keep me in the good graces of UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice…jeez, I’m gonna have to do this a lot) I’m going to abstain from the gory details and stick to what I can talk about.
So…what can I talk about?
Let’s start with the ipod video and the digital revolution in general and how it has affected this deployment (Oh, yeah, I’m in Iraq…in case you’re just passing through…yes, yes…at war…no shit).
So, what is a digital revolution you ask? Well, it’s not the fucking Matrix if that’s what you’re thinking. Rather, it is the movement of all information and technology from paper to computer.
And nothing is more affected by this than one of the most widely used types of entertainment by United States Army personnel: PORNO.
Yes, gone are the days of rolling up that copy of Swank you scored out of the men’s shitter three days ago (it wasn’t THAT tattered), stuffing it down your pants and awkwardly moving your way to the port-a-john for a little personal attention that can only be found in the privacy of such a place.
That means whacking off, people.
Anyways, instead of rolling up that magazine and taking the risk of getting caught by your peers and ridiculed for the obvious when you are seen with an unnatural bulge inside your shirt, you can now easily stuff a small device, roughly the size of your wallet, deep into your cargo pocket and make your way to the port-o-john without any problems at all.
And WHOA to the imagination! The possibilities!
Forget about dragging a DVD player or a laptop into that motherfucker, let alone a magazine. It’s all on the ipod! I’m talking full PORNO movies in DVD quality (granted, the screen is like a plasma TV for a mouse, but still, we’re flexible). DUDE. The revolution is here.
This is all made possible by the ingenuity of some genius out there that has created some awesome software that allows you to burn DVD’s onto your ipod. So, not only do you have pocket porno, you also have full-length movies. Seriously. Are you getting all this?
All information travels through thumb drives and external hard drives. Every soldier, large and small, has a damn external hard drive. And on every one of these hard drives you will find a massive amount of porn, no doubt put together by the devil himself to create the ultimate digital media library of sin that will absolutely secure you a spot in hell.
The file sharing is immense. I have little doubt that you will find the exact same files on every external hard drive. From the lowest ranking private to the battalion commander, I’m sure that Amateur Creampies Volume 2 is sittin’ pretty on every one of these guys drives.
And so be it!
Let it be known that we were all briefed that pornography was BANNED in Iraq. You could not bring it and cannot have it.
Seriously. Did they forget that they are sending MEN away for a YEAR? (Okay, and a few chicks…but that’s a whole other topic…we’ll get there) Away from women and weekends and strip clubs and wives and chicken wings and beer, etc? And you’re gonna take away his right to masturbate, too? Are you fucking kidding me?
In that same brief they advised we use condoms while in country.
Uhhhh, did I miss something? How is it you can use condoms but you can’t look at porn and take care of business with Mrs. Rosy Palm (oh yes, she’s married). Does that mean that it’s okay for the OVER 50 percentile of men that are MARRIED to have an extramarital affair as long as they use a condom but they can’t jack off to some amateur creampies Volume 2??
Let’s break out the calculator and building blocks and put this one together…
Yep, results are in…it doesn’t fucking add up!
All right. I’m calm. Are you calm? Let’s continue…
So, Iraq. Yeah, yeah, I’m not gonna go into the political climate here, that’ll come later, and yes, I’ve got A LOT to say. Let’s talk about the actual climate.
Well, it smells like poop most of the time and there is trash everywhere and most of the people are friendly, but extremely lazy…so, yeah, it’s a lot like living in a trailer park. Sorry if I offend any of you that DO live in a trailer park…but seriously, pick up your trash, clean your septic tanks, and get a fucking job, because you don’t ever want to be compared to these people.
I’m all for these guys getting their shit together and taking their country back, but, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, it’s gonna take a lot more than U.S. involvement to do that. It’s going to take them getting off their lazy asses and taking the bitch back. There is a reason Saddam was in power for so long. It could not be more clear at this point.
Fuck, you just made me get political. Ah, well.
Anyways…compared to my prior deployment to Afghanistan, the living conditions are much, much better…the fighting conditions are much, much worse. So it goes. No, I’m not going to elaborate. Buy my book in a few years.
The advent of the webcam and Internet chat and our dependency and desire for the Internet in general has became an Army-wide campaign. While in Afghanistan we had about 6 DSN phones and 2 slower-than-dial-up computers for over 1400 soldiers to use. (Although, they beefed it up just before we left). Now, we have wireless Internet in our rooms. Now we can chat, see our significant other and flash our humps, bumps, and pointy sticks at one another and no one will be the wiser. For some, this is just like being at home.
Except there are bombs.
Most people work out and watch bootleg DVDs, which, thankfully are in abundance here. I don’t know what I’d do, being the movie FREAK that I am, without the beautiful presence of pirated DVDs. It is amazing how fast these guys get the new flicks. I’m talkin’ five to ten days and I will be watching Smokin’ Aces (along with all the other people present in the audience at that time). That’s pretty badass for a guy like me. Even though it was recorded with a camcorder.
However, I have gotten quite lucky as of late, seeing as awards season sees the rush of Award Screener copies of movies deemed of such grace. This is splendid for me (did I just say fucking splendid?) and I’m able to enjoy these movies in DVD quality.
Another change for me was a jump in rank, which has taken me to a level I never thought I’d make it to in the U.S. Army. E-6 (Staff Sergeant) always seemed like such a big, unattainable rank when I first came in and looking back at the E-6’s that have come and gone before me, I now see that the difference is all in your own perspective.
The only real difference, aside from pay and position, when you move up in rank is the ability to tell people of the same rank to fuck off. That’s right, the true power comes in telling people that outranked you yesterday to go outside and play hide and go fuck themselves today. It can be a beautiful thing.
However, there’s a catch. The people that you really wanted to tell to fuck off, namely the E-6’s from years before that trained, led, and abused you as a young private are all either E-7/E-8 or out of the Army. So, you basically don’t get to relieve that built up angst on anyone but your own soldiers, which in turn keeps the cycle going.
I’ll tell you something about fate. Fate is the boss. Know it. Believe it. Own it.
The mail comes in lightspeed intervals compared to Afghanistan. There it was roughly every 2-3 weeks that mail would show up. Here, we get mail about once a week. What gets me, and constantly, is the attitude of my non-previously deployed soldiers who don’t realize how good they have it. I’ve heard things like, “We haven’t had mail in a week. That’s fucking bullshit,” to which I am shocked. I have to remind my cherry soldiers of their good fortune and explain it to them and as the words come out of my mouth I realize that I have become that NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) that you roll your eyes at every time he starts a sentence with “Back in Afghanistan…”
So, be it.
Another compare and contrast to “the Stan” is my ability to whore myself out with my artistic abilities. Back in Afghanistan (see what I just did there?) I designed the battalion t-shirt and coin and also became the go-to-guy for any signage that was needed around the FOB (Forward Operating Base…where troops live on deployments…drrrrrrr). On any given day I had planks of wood being tossed my way and told to decorate. Like junior Picasso lost at war I did my duty (that really makes no sense) and turned these battered pieces of wood into works of art.
Now, once again, my abilities discovered, I have taken to creating…mouse pads. Oh yeah, you heard me right…big, bad, mothafuckin’ mouse pads. You know you want one, so shut up. However, remember where we are now. We’re in the digital revolution and part of the digital warrior’s kit is a mouse pad. And now, with the exploits of one SSG Shirey, they can have their very own, Photoshop-vomited design of such complexity and awe that you will no longer surf the net, but rather stare at your hand over that mouse, getting lost in what lies beneath…
Yeah, so they’re gonna be like five bucks. While supplies last.
Anyways, a task not so much fun, but certainly honorable, is designing prints for the fallen. Thus far I have done two and intend to do as many as are asked for the departed and their families. The Brigade is planning on building a memorial site on Fort Richardson in honor of these soldiers and I have been kind of thrown into the process. Although I’m not sure to what capacity I’ll contribute yet, I believe it a worthy cause, and am honored to be a part of it.
I have already designed the intro to the web page and hopefully it will draw in some folks. Obviously it is being used to raise money to build this memorial site. I have no doubt it will bear fruit.
Whoa, someone got on a serious note! Dude, we came here to laugh and be amused…I know, I know. However, and I do believe it gives reason to why I haven’t written as much, the realities of this place are enough to stop you in your tracks and turn your focus to your job. And I mean REALLY focus.
Which brings me to my next topic.
…Okay, who’s still here? Let’s get a count…you in the back, put your hand up higher. Okay, everyone’s here. Good. Let’s get started.
So, just as in Afghanistan, I do my best to make it to services. Those not in the know, yes, I am a Christian. And I do say, “fuck” a lot. I didn’t say I was perfect.
The thing that I find somewhat hilarious is singing in services. Now, at a real church in the United States we can fake sing all we want because there’s always some 50-year-old lady who yodels like a country western singer and outshines any of us that would be the laughing stock of the American Idol tryouts. But, not in Iraq, where the underachieving singers are now center stage.
I’m such a bad singer that I’d be on the highlights portion of Reality Show Clip Time on E!’s “The Soup.” I shit you not. I shatter glass and make dogs howl. I induce labor, vomiting, and hives when you hear my singing voice break the surface. I’ll Photoshop, write, draw, direct, oh, and kill, my way to the top, but I will sing in the lowly bowels of hell before I make a difference with my voice of song.
However, it has become evident that I do not suffer alone. Remember when you were a kid and you had to go to choir? Oh, you didn’t go? Oh, you didn’t go to church? Well, let’s get our uncomfortable silence out of the way while we all quietly judge you…
Anyways, back to choir. I was in choir as a kid. I was made to go and it wasn’t all bad and my balls hadn’t dropped yet, so I was like Christian Bale in “Empire of the Sun” only not in Japan and not in a concentration camp. Okay, so I had nothing to do with Christian Bale.
I sang though. And I sang low, people. When I say sing, what I really mean is “mumble.” However, to look at me, you’d think I was in the fucking Vienna Boys Choir. I was sure to over exaggerate every motion; all the while the only thing coming out of my vocal chords was the subtle chirp of a dying mouse.
Which brings me back to now. Looking around the room, I see that we never stop doing that as kids. We just get bigger, fatter, hairier, and older and we keep faking it. Yet, somehow, some way, we manage to get those two to five people that aren’t faking it and are able to pull us out of harms way and allow our low grumbling to pass for the real thing.
Another way to keep things interesting and also create a historical account of my journey is through photos. Again, back to the digital revolution..."Back in Afghanistan..." I used throw away cameras and used only about six. The rest of the photos I have from that deployment were collected from everyone else who was smart enough to bring a digital.
Such as it was at the time, we were told not to bring any "digital" equipment because it would all be destroyed in that climate. Which is, for lack of a better term, bullshit. Although, my portable DVD player did crap out on me, I was still able to use it by opening it up and fusing it together with baby wipes whenever I wanted to watch a movie.
I'm not joking.
Anyways, photos. Yeah. I take a lot of them. I am making up for the last deployment by overtaking photos. And, being the artistic crackhead that I am, I have taken on a new mission, which came to me in a vision while smelling poo on the streets of Iraq.
Yes, we all love and adore puppies. Except for people that like cats. Oh, and before I forget, yeah, cats suck. Yes, yes. Your pussy sucks. Sorry. It's true.
Anyways, back to puppies. Cute, lovable, adorable, puppies, rummaging through trash, dirty, homeless, abandoned, and left to the circle of life in Iraq. They're fucking everywhere! So, as we drive along, staring out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of command wire or an IED before we get blown to shit, there is always the opportunity to see a cute, little, abandoned pup, digging through trash or lying dead on the side of the road.
Stop crying, you PETA person, or I'll smack you. I am going to save the puppies. Yes, you heard me right. Wait, wasn't I talking about photos and shit? Yeah, glad you're paying attention, so hang on.
Puppies of Iraq; wall calendar 2008. Oh, it's coming. I am on a mission to round up the scraggliest little pup-tarts Iraq has to offer, so adorable in their filthy cuteness, and slap them into the months of the year and served up at your local Fred meyer's or Target, where you can purchase a month-to-month look at what it means to be cute and living in Iraq. And also, you're a dog.
I estimate that this will cause a worldwide surge in animal-loving hippies to flood the borders of Iraq and begin sweeping up these little miscreants for salvation in the U.S. Animal rights groups unite! Now, is your calling! This is the ultimate mission! Pack your bags, we're going to Iraq to save the puppies!!
Here is how I imagine a one-sided conversation would go with the leader of one of these groups:
Hey, c'mon, get moving, we're running out of time!
What? Yeah, I know they're in Iraq, so what?
There's bombs there? And violence? They chop people's heads off? So? Oh, hey, I'm glad you said "Iraq", 'cause we don't wanna forget sunscreen.
These are puppies we're talking about here...Have you never held a puppy? Had him lick your face? Have him shit on your bath robe? Put peanut butter on your-look, that's not important. It's just-
Too dangerous? I thought you were dedicated to the cause. To save the animals of the planet. To give them a soft bed and a bowl of doggie cocoa puffs every morning and to play and frolic and toss a frisbee and kick when you're angry and dress it up in--
Okay, I'm getting sidetracked. Let me get this straight...You don't want to go to Iraq to save the puppies because it's too dangerous in Iraq. Does this mean that you'll only save puppies in "safe" areas? What kind of animal lover are you?? Have you ever truly loved an animal before?
And in their mad rush to get to Iraq, in their idealistic crusade to save the puppies, we will be rid of the animal loving hippies of the world, who dedicate their entire lives to the betterment of all other species but their own.
And then we can keep up the war mongering.
Okay, so I'm being harsh. I have nothing against animal lovers. I am an animal lover myself. However, I do think that those that put animals above people and dedicate themselves to a furry non-speaking creature of God (and I'm not talking about your crazy uncle), are very misguided and have alienated themselves from the rest of the human race. Yeah, dogs need love, but last time I checked, we haven't had a dog cure cancer or run for office.
So, aside from my current exploits on the job and political views on everything to do with this conflict, I hope you are caught up enough to continue your day with glee. My perspective on many things has “evolved” and I look forward to sharing them to whoever will listen. In truth, it doesn’t matter. I’m putting it out there no matter what.
However, if a tree falls in the woods…
…Squirrels are homeless and our animal activists have a new crusade.
I fully intend to get my blogging back on track, so those that are interested and want to come along for the ride, by all means, hop in, take the keys, take the wheel, and I’ll guide you with directions, because I’m drunk and a little out of it, but we’ll get there.