The Equalizer – Excellent – Except? We still give it an A

Denzel (Robert) is The Equalizer in more ways than one. This movie doesn’t get made without him and he does not disappoint. I have always felt it is a far more difficult acting job to play the “good guy” and to carry the mantle through the entire film and leave the viewer empathizing with him and really believing in the character.

An actor I never heard of – Marton Scokas plays Teddy – the really bad guy. He had all the earmarks: Russian, Sharp suits and slicked back hair, Paid Killer, Scars, Tattoos all over his body and right away he chokes a lovely young Russian woman to death – in spite of her telling him the truth. Needless to say when the movie really gets going its all about Robert versus Teddy and his gang of evil henchmen. The plot is not going to be too quick for you to keep up.

Speaking of the movie getting going I almost gave up on the film about 25 minutes in. I’ve seen grass grow faster than the opening of The Equalizer. Also, if I wanted to be critical I might make a comment about Denzel killing five or six bad guys at a time and only once did he bring a gun to the fight. However, Marty and I are Southerners and we always love to see the good guy kill lots of bad guys – no matter how gory or unrealistic it might be. We still hold onto those Southern feelings from the War Between the North and the South – and I assume there is no need for me to tell you who the bad guys were.

All that said if you like Denzel and violence and killing and the good guy winning and winning you will love this movie. You just won’t like the first twenty minutes or so but don’t give up on Denzel – he comes through for you.


Have you ever been “Sheep Dipped?”

Have you ever been “Sheep Dipped?” As it turns out I was “Sheep Dipped” in early April of 1970 in Vietnam and I didn’t even know it. Before I tell you the “rest of the story” take a moment and read this comment on recent events in Syria/Iraq and in particular the definition of “Sheep Dipping.”

“After 2 days of intense pressure from CNN reporters and analysts about the need for U.S. air strikes in support of Kurdish troops in contact with ISIS fighters near Gobani AKA Ain in northern Syria on the border with Turkey, yesterday, U.S. fighter bombers rolled in an hit the ISIS positions and vehicles. All of the commentators on CNN agreed that air strikes of this kind could not be carried out without the assistance of forward air controllers. They were not wrong. I would respectfully suggest to you that there were U.S. personnel across the fence in Syria. These may have been Special Operations Forces operating with orders that POTUS needed plausible deniability about their presence in Syria or they may have been U.S. military personnel who had gone through sheep dipping. Sheep dipping occurs when a military member enters a room where a military personnel officer and a civilian personnel officer are present. When the military member leaves the room , he or she is no longer on Active Duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and is an employee or contract employee of a civilian U. S. Government agency. The cover agency is often the U.S. Agency for International Development. The person who has gone through sheep dipping is then placed across the fence into an area where POTUS wishes to say that there are no U.S. boots on the ground. This was often done in Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam War.”

In 1969 and 1970 Richard Nixon was President and friend or foe Hanoi Jane was shouting at the top of her lungs that we had soldiers in Cambodia – to which Mr. Nixon replied “We do not have troops in Cambodia.” I’d take Nixon a thousand times over Obama but he was not afraid of cursing or lying.

At the time I was in the Fourth Infantry Division in the Central Highlands of RVN – just East of Cambodia. I had been awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star as a Staff Sergeant acting as an Infantry Platoon Leader ever since our Lieutenant had his head severed by a Huey blade in a hot CA months before.

One day in very early April of 1970 when the re-supply bird came out to bring us food and ammo an Officer got off and met me with orders to report to the Fourth Infantry Division’s Headquarter’s Band in Pleiku. You can imagine my surprise and delight at being taken out of the field doing S&D for an assignment in the “Band” – even though I did not play an instrument – a fact I kept to myself. The bird dropped me at HQ and I was assigned an air conditioned room with a shower, toilet and two bunks with a Corporal who was a communications specialist. We were given full privileges for the night in the Senior NCO mess hall and club – privileges the Corporal and I took full advantage of. We were allowed to sleep in and told to report to some Full Bird at eleven hundred hours the next day.

Imagine my shock when we met a Command Sergeant Major who told us we were being reassigned and going on a Top Secret LRP to Cambodia with monitoring equipment to gather information about troop and supply movements from NVN – through Cambodia on the Ho Chi Min Trail and then back into RVN. Of course we were armed – me with an M-16 and Colt 45 and the Corporal with a sight mounted M-14. However, our orders were not to engage anyone going down The Trail – just to record and report the activity we saw.

You’ve probably already heard me tell about how that worked out but it’s not the point of this e mail. After my brief stay in Cambodia I was transferred to the Americal Division, 27th Infantry – where I was on the first wave of the “official Cambodian Invasion” on April 30th, 1970 – which was publicly announced by President Nixon.

Months later when I DEROSED back to Seattle I was handed my official US Army records – which of course contained all my awards and medals – and the list of where I was assigned during my time in RVN. You guessed it – they read: US Army – Fourth Infantry Division; US Army Headquarters Band; US Army Americal Infantry Division. Not one word about the time in Cambodia.

From that day in 1970 until today – 9/29/2014 – I always wondered why my time in Cambodia never appeared in my record. Now I know – some time in early April of 1970 I was Sheep Dipped.

Barbara Streisand’s Newest Musical Release – Partners – We give it an A

If you are a fan of Barbara Streisand you will love her new release of generally well known songs with equally well known and talented partners. If you download your music from Apple we strongly recommend you buy the entire album for $7.99 rather than paying $1.29 per single. there isn’t a “barker” on the list. Some are more enjoyable than others but they are all good.

Marty likes Barbara better than Shrimp and Grits – which is saying something for a gal from SC. One of the highlights of her life was meeting me – NO – it was taking her Sister Nancy to see Barbara live! It was the best money I’ve spent. Naturally she loves the album.

As for me I would not say I am a fan of Barbara but no one can deny she has one of the best voices in musical history and tremendous range. I enjoy many genres of music and this album is a pleasure to listen to – good driving music. Time may have soured her politics but her voice and song selection is still really good. If you are interested in reading more I have put the album’s website below.


The more things change the more they stay the same!

I may be the last person to learn this but America’s much beloved President Thomas Jefferson, a man of peace, went to war against what he and Adams described as the Muslim Pirates off the Libyan (Barbary) Coast in the late 1700’s. These two well researched sites reveal that which you probably already suspicion – Muslim Terrorist, Jihadists, Pirates or what ever you want to call them have been kidnapping and killing hostages since at least the 1700’s. More over they use the Koran to justify these actions against the Infidels – see the research in the first site below “city journal.”

Now instead of Jefferson and Adams we have Obama and Kerry. Read that line again will you? Now instead of Jefferson and Adams we have Obama and Kerry. Doesn’t it just cause your heart to flutter with confidence or maybe what I’m feeling is more like stroke symptoms knowing that with Obama and Kerry we will be lied to – sided against and to use the common if not course vernacular – screwed.

I’m not encouraging you to pass this on to anyone because why would I want them to be as depressed about our leaders as I am. Just hit the delete button and pretend that feeling in the pit of your stomach is too many capers on your sauteed Wahoo and not the result of what you know to be true. We be screwed!


PS Marty and I had lunch at Three Doors Up and Krista sautéed us a great piece of Wahoo in butter, lemon, wine, olives and artichoke hearts. It was absolutely fantastic. The best lunch place anywhere near this place. She asked if we wanted capers but I told her my worries about Obama and Kerry and she made sure I knew where the bathrooms were.

November Man: Marty and I liked it and give it a “B-” but we urge you to wait for home viewing.

If you like Pierce Brosnan you will like November Man. We hadn’t seen him in some time and he still looks great and moves like a forty year old! What I wouldn’t give for his head of hair. We have no idea who any of the supporting cast are but they generally did a good job in their roles – especially the female lead – Olga Kurylenko as Alice/???

If you like espionage – action – adventure – surprising plot twists – a few good car chase scenes and several good sniper kills all capped off with a fast paced ending you will like November Man.

Then why didn’t we give this film a better review and why are we telling you it’s not worth the hassle of going to the theater to see? Because it’s not! It’s a good movie and about on par with some of HBO’s good cable TV shows. The November Man starts out fast and furious for about twenty minutes and we were excited about what was yet to come. Then as the writers and cast fleshed out the plot and details the film became laborious and felt like walking a soggy trail where every step was an effort.

The final twenty minutes, however, are great. There is one major plot twist and two character surprises and a good ending. Pierce, the first twenty minutes and the last twenty minutes will make this an “A+” home rental. It will be worth five bucks On Demand or how ever you get your home movies. Then when it slows down in the middle you can hit pause, get a snack, go the bathroom and if you remember I told you the middle was slow also remember not to hit the delete button because the ending is very good.

Larry and Marty

The Expendables 3 – A mixed vote in our family: Marty A, Larry C

Of the movie goers who choose to see “The Expendables 3″ my guess is 50% will be glad they saw it and half of that number or 25% max will really like the film.

Marty gave it an A because she “really liked seeing” the Male Actors she knows: Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Banderas, Gibson and Ford. She wasn’t the least bit put off by the totally unrealistic and often impossible action scenes. She liked the action and the men and one woman doing it and that made her happy so she left smiling and gave it an A.

Personally I too enjoyed seeing the old guys and felt their chemistry and male bonding came across naturally. It was hard to miss the fact that Arnold was the only male actor dressed in loose fitting clothing and most often wearing a jacket. My guess is Maria Shriver is in much better shape and doesn’t miss Arnold much these days. I was particularly impressed with newcomer Ronda Rassey, the reigning and dominant Female Mixed Martial Arts Champion. We are not MMA Fans and I’m sure she was in the make up trailer like all the actors but she not only looked good – her fighting scenes were the best of the lot. The next time she’s on cable in a MMA fight we’ll check it and her out.

What bothered me most about the film was the absolute total and complete ridiculousness of most of the battle scenes and in particular the big shoot out in the end. Ten good guys armed with only pistols and rifles hold off an Army – literally an Army of several hundred men – supported by tanks, helicopters and all manner of heavy firepower and explosives. Throw in the traditional twenty minute dead zone an hour into the film and I sadly have to say that I am in the 25% who are glad they saw The Expendables 3 but I wish I had waited for home viewing.

Unless you are a big fan of the Expendables Series I recommend you wait for home viewing. That way when the movie drags like a rusted out tail pipe in the middle you can hit the fridge or the bathroom.


The New Word of the Week: SCROOMED – Screwed and Doomed

While recently reviewing the statistics from various Federal Government Departments it seems that at present approximately forty percent (40%) of the population of the USA is on some form of Welfare Payments and this percentage grows substantially each year.

Taking this sobering reality into account and considering the Economy and our National Leadership, my friend Damon sent me a one word response that expressed his outlook for our future – SCROOMED. As you know from the title this is a reflection of two scenarios. You, as a member of the working class of America – those who contribute to those who don’t – we are Screwed and we may be Doomed. If it wasn’t so damned true it would be funny.

I communicate with a lot of my peers – retired or almost retired folks who feel like things are going to hell – BUT not so fast that life here in America will change dramatically for them in our life time. However, when they really open up they say their greatest fear in life is the death of the American Dream and what that means for their Children, Grand Children and Great Grand Children. What haunts them even more is that our generation is powerless to do much if anything about it. We are SCROOMED and it appears it may be worse for each successive Generation.

When I think think of America I am reminded of the Presidents we have had over the past fifty years or so and how I remember them. For your review they are:

President – – How I remember them

John F Kennedy – – Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country
Gerald Ford – – Perhaps the worst Presidential Golfer of all time
Richard Nixon – – I would not lie to you! We are not in Cambodia (actually I was there at the time)
Jimmy Carter – – Stagflation
Ronald Reagan – – Tear Down That Wall
George HW Bush – – One Thousand Points of Light
Bill Clinton – – Monica
George “W” Bush – – The War on Terror
Barack Obama – – SCROOMED

Well there it is friends. If you disagree – and I hope you do – please let know how I can look on the brighter side of life. For Marty and I our only real hope is the Coming of Messiah!


There is sadness in the Stephens Family at the Passing of Robin Williams

Our son Tony and I played tennis late today after the sun set and the temps fell below 90. When we were done Tony checked his iPhone and we were taken back when he read that Robin Williams had died.

I was particularly sad because in my mind – my perception – therefore my reality – Robin Williams left this life without having personally accepted Christ as the One who died for our sins. As I sit here and type this note I truly, truly hope that my perception is wrong – that the Amazing Grace of God reached out and called one of His most talented yet troubled creations home.

Marty, Tony and I spent ten days in Hawaii in 1987 at the Kapalua Bay Club on the Big Island. It was perhaps the finest family vacation we ever took. It had been a great year for our firm and we went all out on an Ocean View Home which also bordered the golf course. Tony brought his Football and Wrestling friend George and as the two biggest kids on the block they made some interesting friends – one being Billy Crystal’s daughter – a young adventuresome teenager about his age – apparently in need of a friend and super sized body guard or two for the week.

Each morning I was up at 5:00am local time – 10:00am in Chicago – waiting on the first tee for the sun to rise just enough for us to see our tee shots rise into the golden light of a Big Island Dawn. While I was golfing Marty relaxed and later in the day we would take our rental jeep into places we hope Hertz never finds out about and had some great fun snorkeling in Horseshoe Bay.

It seems that no matter how much money you spend for accommodations and privacy there is always a “pool side buffet” where the rich and famous stand in line with the folks from Chicago. It was there that I met Billy Crystal, Gary Shandling (The Larry Sanders Show) and Robin Williams – standing in line waiting for waffles and eggs. Being the shy retiring type I introduced myself and began to banter with the real professionals. Billy, Gary and Robin were all extremely approachable and friendly. However, Robin was “on stage” even as he waited for brunch. He entertained us all with incredibly spontaneous humor and turned what could have been a long twenty minute wait into our personal Robin Williams Comedy 1/3 Hour.

Like strangers in the night we passed and nodded now and then and they asked for our permission for Tony to join them for the New Year’s Eve Party at The Club. Since I’d been up since before sunrise and Saint Marty was stuck with me for better or worse we had our NYE celebration around seven and were sound asleep by nine.

Maybe it was just being in the warm sunny breezes of Hawaii in December but somehow or another in our minds we “connected” with Billy, Gary and Robin and they made us feel like we really knew them.

For those of you who know us well you will remember that upon arriving home in Chicago we found our “home” totally burned to the ground. That is the subject of another day but even in the midst of that challenge we still enjoyed the memory of that time in both the short and long term.

Tonight we are saddened in our spirits that one of the great comedic genius’s of out time took his life so young. We pray for his soul and his family without judgement and with very, very fond memories.


Guardians of the Galaxy: Marty gives it “P” – for Pathetic

Have you ever been to a movie that started unbelievably slow and then as the characters were introduced you had hope that it was going to pick up and be entertaining if not good? There is NO HOPE for Guardians of the Galaxy.

My only regret is that it took me 35 minutes to figure out it was never going to pick up and another five to pull the trigger and hit the exit. I would like to write something cogent or clever that would reward you for opening the blog but I am so sorry to tell you I can not.

Like my dearly, beloved and departed Mom always said – Larry if you can’t say something good about someone then “run them down the country” and spare your other Red Neck friends from wasting their time going out with them.

Don’t do it! Don’t go to see it! Don’t pay for it on home delivery! Don’t even waste your time when it hits STARZ because surely HBO will have the good sense not to pick this “raccoon” – make that DOG up.

Lucy – A Cognitive Fantacy and a Feast for the Mind: B +

When a Woman controls the action, adventure and violence in a futuristic and evolutionary film it will be called Lucy.

When a human develops their cognitive powers and ability to process and think like no person that ever lived it will be a woman and her name will be Lucy.

If you are creative, adventuresome and the idea of elevating your ability to think and control your environment and those around you excites you then you will really like Lucy.

On the other hand if your World View controls your ability to enjoy an intellectual fantasy then you will not like Lucy.

Uncle Larry gave Lucy a strong B+ and worthy of sitting in a sticky seat where a nine year old sat yesterday and spilled butter from his popcorn to see Lucy on the big screen with the big surround sound. On the other hand Saint Marty gave Lucy a C- because she found it boring as she has no desire to be unrealistic and to delve into a world where one’s cognitive powers can reach levels never before dreamed of.

I thought Scarlett Johansson did a great job and Morgan Freeman was Morgan Freeman and who can complain about that?

Some of you will like Lucy and some of you will not. I suppose that’s why Studebaker with their futuristic and radical design went out of business and Buick survives with comfort and what the majority call style. Raise your hand if you are too young to remember Studebaker!

Uncle Larry