Saturday, April 18, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

A TV Tour-de-Force

I didn't get in on the Breaking Bad juggernaut until the show was almost finished- and I am still only on Season One. (Shame on me, I know!) So when they announced a prequel about one of the characters from Breaking Bad that I still hadn't met yet on that series, I decided that I would get in on the ground floor.

Better Call Saul started on February 8 and has turned into its own classic.

  • 9.2/10·IMDb
  • 100%·Rotten Tomatoes
  • 9.2/10·
  • 78%·Metacritic
I was hooked from the start.

It got off to a slow start with several different story-lines seeming to compete against each other. Yet each adding to the others bits and pieces of the story that will eventually, six years hence, become Saul Goodman.

Lighting, cinematography, scripts, acting, character development grew on me week-by-week.

For this first season, Jimmie/Saul is a person with both a soul and a heart. He is trying to make it. He was a slippery person, trying to be respectable yet always fighting his inner demons and tendencies. No one wants to be on his side. He wants the best- and he wants to be successful. His struggle is almost the struggle of an "Everyman." We know he will become a sleazy lawyer in the Breaking Bad-era and then end up working in a mall Cinnabon after that ends, as we saw in a flash-forward at the start of episode one. That gives his comic tragedy persona even more to work with.

There are a number of top-shelf characters- and actors turning in incredible performances. The original casting of comic Bob Odenkirk in such a serious role was genius. He keeps the "heaviness" from overwhelming, yet we see it tearing him apart. Jonathan Banks is nothing short of mesmerizingly brilliant as Mike, the "cleaner" and Michael McKean as Jimmy's brother is another kind of sleazy.

There were at least three Emmy-nomination moments in the first season:
  • Mike in episode 6 and 9
  • Jimmie/Saul and Chuck in episode 9
It isn't often that a spin-off can become as much as or even more than its predecessor. (Lou Grant comes to mind as an exception.) Better Call Saul has been nothing short of excellent and kept getting better. While it may never reach the iconic status of Breaking Bad, it will be its own tour-de-force on the TV scene.

Toward Pentecost (13): Humble

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A 70-year Memory: On the Homefront and the Battlefront

From my grandmother's diary in 1945:

April 12: Ruth (her daughter) called at 6 o’clock and said that President Roosevelt had died at 4:30. It was an awful shock
April 14: Listened to train bringing FDR to Washington

Sunday, April 15: Roosevelt was buried in Hyde Park, NY.

Meanwhile in the war during those four days:

April 14: The Allies march through the center of encircled German troops in the Ruhr Pocket, taking prisoners and splitting the German ranks.

The Allies launch Operation Teardrop in an effort to locate German U-boats in the North Atlantic rumored to be carrying V-2 rockets to be used against New York City.

April 14-15: Japanese imperial loyalists crush an attempted coup by hard-line military officers who, convinced that Emperor Hirohito was on the brink of surrender, had decided to seize control.

April 15: The Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, with a survivor population of 40,000, is liberated by the British Army.

April 16: Adolf Hitler announces that he expects his officers to fight to the death. He orders summary execution for any officer who orders a retreat.

The Allied air force announces that future operations over Germany will focus on cleanup rather than strategic targets, effectively ending the air war.

Following the 10th Armored (25): Battle for Crailsheim

This is part of a series following my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago. He was a medic with the 80th Medical Battalion assigned to the 10th Armored, part of Patton’s Third Army.

I found a book recently online that I had not seen before on the 10th Armored's months at the end of the war. Written by Dwayne Engle, son of an infantryman, Pfc. Melvin Engle it is called 162 Days and a Bronze Star. (Link to PDF) Pfc. Engle was called up in late 1944 and eventually became one of the replacements in the 10th after the Bulge. Engle was with CC B, most likely, at times, where my Dad's battalion was also assigned. The book is more concise about the days in early 1945 than Nichols and has given me some easier ways of understanding what was happening. It is clear that Engle uses Nichols and has spent considerable time putting this all together. I am grateful for his work.

Here is Engle's account of the first part of the Battle for Crailsheim:
Crailsheim was an important city to the Allies. Along with Bad Mergantheim (6 miles north of Assamstadt) and Heilbronn, it created a strong point and gateway into Bavaria. Crailsheim lay just forty miles southwest of Nurnberg and only 100 miles from Munich. CC B moved about forty miles from Assamstadt overnight to Crailsheim on muddy, pot-holed roads in order to arrive at Crailsheim evening of Sunday, April 8. They were now thirty-five miles behind actual German lines, which theoretically began at the Rhine River. On the move from Assamstadt CC B had managed to capture over 300 German soldiers, including some Hitler Youth. They killed at least that many more enemy and destroyed as much of the enemy artillery and equipment as time would allow.

In Crailsheim, the German army mounted the largest display of strength since the Battle of the Bulge the previous December. The 10th Armored cut a major German supply route known as the “Bowling Alley” to both the Germans and Allies. The supply route extended from
Crailsheim to Hollenbach, about twenty miles north. Once cut, the supply route began being used exclusively by the Allies and 10th Armored Division to supply troops already at Crailsheim. Still heavily and aggressively defended by the 17th German Panzer Division, this route was guarded by many U.S. roadblocks along its entirety.

The Battle for Crailsheim had actually begun a couple of days before when advanced divisions of the 10th Armored, including CC A, were ordered to advance on Crailsheim while CC B fought its way to Assamstadt. But recognizing its value, the Germans were desperately attempting to hold onto this city. At that point, Crailsheim was a last stand, and the German command realized that fact.

Adolph Hitler by this time had ordered that the Geneva Convention be laid aside and that every Allied prisoner of war be executed in at attempt to set an example for the German army that German soldiers would be dealt with accordingly, should they fail to turn back the advancing armies. To their credit, his orders were largely, if not wholly, ignored by the German High Command. However, Crailsheim would be defended from the 10th Armored Tigers at all costs. General Piburn would comment later that at no other time during the war in Europe had he seen so many German Messerschmitts in the air as there were over Crailsheim.

CC B continued to patrol the “Bowling Alley” between Blaufelden and Bartenstein until Tuesday, April 10. They would later realize that the German army had been concealed by the forest and was never more than one mile on either side of the road that they had been patrolling for the past several days. On Wednesday, April 11, at 7:30 a.m., CC B was ordered to assemble at Blaufelden and move directly to Kirchberg located about eight miles south.

At 3:00 p.m. in Kirchberg, CC B was told that it would lend support to the withdrawal of CC A from Crailsheim. Additional reinforcements for CC A were not available, and the current divisions were not strong enough to hold their position and counter the German offensive.
An all night movement from Kirchberg to Bartenstein positioned CC B to carry out its order of covering CC A for the withdrawal. German infantry and artillery nagged at the column during the entire night’s travel.

When CC A had retreated from Crailsheim by early morning of April 11, the Battle of Crailsheim officially ended. At dusk that day, the remaining squadrons moved safely from Crailsheim to Blaufelden.

For the 10th Armored Division this had been a frustrating and disappointing battle ending in a stalemate, with the Germans ultimately claiming the city of Crailsheim. The frustration was due to the feeling that, with the help of additional infantry, the U.S. Seventh Army and the 10th Armored Division could almost certainly have captured and held Crailsheim.

Even though the city had been relinquished to the Germans and the 10th Armored losses were heavy, the 10th Armored had managed to capture 2000 German soldiers, kill more than 1000 others, shoot down 50 valuable German aircraft, and divert large numbers of German troops, which were needed and engaged elsewhere, to defend Crailsheim.
(162 Days, Dwayne Engle)
About the Medics
9 April - 10 April

Nichols gives high praise to the medics at Crailsheim. It was not my Dad's company that he mentions in his book, Impact, But it reminds us of the tireless work of all the medics. Here's some of what he had to say:
The supporting medical company for the attack had been cut off and medical aid was badly needed, so Section A, Company A, of the 80th Med. Bn. received orders to leave for Crailsheim at once.... Sniper and small arms fire harassed the column continuously, finally forcing it off the road onto an overland route. Air activity was also heavy and the column was forced to dig in several times. But despite these difficulties [they] reached Crailsheim safely at 0500, April 9.

[They] selected the local theater as the treatment station and were greeted with broad smiles [by the Tigers since] their own medics [were] on the scene.
The post office was used for billeting the wounded; those needing surgery were put in the lobby and later transferred to the basement of the theater. Nichols reports that great quantities of whole blood and plasma were flown in along with other medical supplies by C-47s landing under constant enemy mortar fire.
Surgery was continuous from 0530, April 9, until the last case came off the table at 1500, April 10. With each passing hour the town became hotter and hotter, ... but true to medical training, the patient came first and their safety last.

On the morning of April 10, a convoy of ambulances was formed to evacuate the casualties to a zone of safety, and medium tanks were offered as an escort but Capt. Curbo decided to run the gauntlet of enemy fire without them. The order to evacuate came at 1600 April 10... [the medics were] happy in the knowledge that every last case had been treated.
CC A led the column with CC B protecting the rear. Nichols names the 26 medics and says that
[t]o the ever adventurous medics, Crailsheim was a little Bastogne.
This was arguably one of the most frustrating of the Tigers' battle operations since entering combat the previous October. It had a hope of another big victory but ended in a deadlock. By April 12 Crailsheim was, by default, in German hands again.

And yet, Nichols reports, the 10th captued 2000 prisoners, disrupted enemy rear communications, killed more than 1,000 enemies, diverted large enemy forces from main efforts elsewhere and shot down 50 of the Luftwaffe's fe remaining fighter planes. Many considered it successful for those reasons and a breakthrough was made that would, in short order, lead the Tenth Armored to the Alps and on to Austria.

Toward Pentecost (12): Lord

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

He Made a Big Differemce

April 15 was Opening Day in 1947, Jackie Robinson's first season in the Major Leagues. The festivity is a result of Robinson's memorable career, best known for becoming the first black major league baseball player of the modern era in 1947. His debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers ended approximately eighty years of baseball segregation, also known as the baseball color line, or color barrier. He also was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, remembered for his services with the number 42 jersey. (Link)

Toward Pentecost (11): Challenge

A 150-Year Memory: The Death of Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln
was shot by John Wilkes Booth on
April 14, 1865 at
10:15 p.m. in
Ford's Theater

He died the next morning,
April 15, 1865, at
7:22 a.m.

He was 56 years old.

According to Lincoln's secretary John Hay, at the moment of Lincoln's death, "a look of unspeakable peace came upon his worn features".

The group in the room then knelt and prayed.

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton then made a statement that has gone down in our national memory:
Now he belongs to the ages.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hearing Truth Behind The Words

Sitting in church last week on Easter was, as usual, a good experience. I was visiting at a church of another denomination as part of our brass quintet. That is relevant only to place me in a situation a little different from my usual worship location. I have a hunch that either sets us in some disconnected mode or, as I think happened last week, make us pay attention a little differently from usual.

In any case the sermon was about Easter and the empty tomb, no surprise, of course. The priest used the phrase a number of times and I think I just let the words pass on through. But then my hearing played a trick. I swear I heard:

Then the disciple looked into the empty womb.
That put me on a whole new train of thought.

It was quite an image, and I know that it is one that has been talked about in some of the contemplative traditions for centuries. But that’s not where I went.

I realized that life as we know it begins with an empty womb. We can talk all we want about when life begins, etc. but in our own individual personal experiences it begins when we leave the womb. Birth; to be born is what happens after the womb is empty. Even Nicodemus knew that when he was talking to Jesus:
How can I go back into my mother’s womb to be born again?
Then along comes the answer- the empty womb of the tomb.


But then I went one other place. Maybe that womb is not empty- the womb of God. I was taken back to a remarkable song done by Ric Hordinski (once of the group Over the Rhine) and an amazingly gifted guitarist. On the album Blink with his group Monk he had both acoustic and electric versions of a song titled “Womb of God.” It is haunting in the best sense of the word; mysterious and mystical as his guitar weaves sounds and emotions around lyrics that can be interpreted in a number of ways. But the weaving of the title phrase with the music is soulful:
We are living in the womb of God.
The verse that most captures my spiritual sense is this one:
Sometimes at night when the black curtain falls
it’s like the stars are the holes in the weave
and we see glimpses of the light behind it all
and it’s then that I start to believe
that it’s love that truly chose this pattern,
love that truly spun this line.

It’s a gentle thread that binds us all together
into a seamless cloth that covers us in time.

That’s when it hits me,
that we’re living in the womb of God.

Here's the electric version of the song from the album, Blink. It's a beauty.

Toward Pentecost (8): Doubt

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cross Purposes

During our recent stay on the Gulf Coast, two interesting items pulled me out of my mind-relaxing default mode.

One was on the front page of the paper and had the following information:

Beach weddings have always been popular on Alabama's coast and now a reef-focused nonprofit is taking it to another level...
[A] shell-covered concrete cross is being deployed at the nearshore reef called "Poseidon's Playground." Once it's in place in about 38 feet of water, 3.5 miles off the coast of Orange Beach, it will begin serving as an altar for underwater wedding ceremonies, according to Vince Lucido, president of the Alabama Gulf Coast Reef and Restoration Foundation.

Underwater weddings have been popular in the Florida Keys for decades and are common in tropical locales around the world.

Having an underwater wedding altar would be unique to Gulf Coast, [a spokesperson] said.

"We would be the only one basically between California and south Florida, which would be pretty cool," she said. "This is going to be huge."
Reading more than the headline does give more depth (sorry, but unintentional pun) to the story. They are actually working hard at restoring reefs and providing places for divers. It is not some out in left field kind of scheme. But I know you won't find me officiating at any of those services.

The other item bothered me more than this one, though. We were going shopping one day and a booth was set up at the entrance looking for donations for the tallest cross in the western hemisphere. Here's an earlier story on it from WKRG in Mobile:

Members of the Gulf Coast Cross Project want to build the tallest cross in the western hemisphere. At 23 stories tall it will easily be one of the tallest structures in central Baldwin County. The group already has land donated for the project in Summerdale. With a community welcome center they want the cross to be a spiritual tourist destination.

“Being illuminated at night the six million approximate annual visitors and be reminded about what Christ did for us on the cross,” says Gulf Coast Cross Project Founder Jon Butler. They hope to finish the project by 2015. Butler says the cost will be around $750,000.
It is hard for me to remain sane about this and not want to make snide remarks.

I don't know if they are trying to compete with the Christo Redemptor Statue in Rio de Janiero which is, for comparison, only 13 stories tall, though it is on the top of the 2,300 foot peak of a mountain. They talk about the evangelistic importance of the project. But it sure seems to me that $750,000 can do a lot more effective evangelism than a cross in the middle of the Bible-belt of Alabama.

When I was hungry, thirsty, naked or in prison, you reminded me of my lostness by ignoring me and spending all your money on a 23-story cross.

No, I didn't contribute.

Toward Pentecost (7): Awe

Friday, April 10, 2015

How's This For An Insight?

Okay, I gather it's been around for a while.

While I can't seem to find a clear history of the phrase, I did find some CDs with the song title or a report that jazz musician John Wood was handing out the bumper sticker with the phrase on it and had started the whole process as long ago as 1995.

Somewhere or another in the past few months I saw one of the bumper stickers and it resonated. I just liked it and so I share it. Truth can be found in bumper stickers more than we will admit. While I have nothing against electronic enhancements and digital music, the sterile, never off-beat, always perfect rhythm of a drum machine can be quite soul-less.

Anyhow- there is a Facebook page (Link) with the description:
A movement to bring imagination and soul back into the music process.
There's also an article on LA Weekly from 2004. (Link) I guess I am a little behind the times after all.

Toward Pentecost (6): Proclaim

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Living in Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is that sense of disconnect that happens when you are looking at something and feeling something the opposite. Wikipedia describes it more officially as

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.
I'm not an expert on how it can be used in positive ways, although much of what a counselor does can be enhanced by developing cognitive dissonance in a client. That can help them see the changes that need to be made.

I am reminded of cognitive dissonance every time I see a pharmaceutical commercial on TV. Whether it's Viagra or a diabetes medication the visuals of the ad or enticing. There is often a sexual component (even if it isn't Viagra) and a sense of the natural world- the fresh out-of-doors. You are given a feeling of relaxation and excitement (with Viagra, anyway) at the same time. All these wonderful images flow across the screen.

Meanwhile the voice over, which they are required to give but hope you ignore, tells you all the awful side-effects that could occur which would mean you better get immediate medical attention- and the four-hour erection is the least of these problems.

I am sure they know the cognitive dissonance that occurs in every one of these ads. Whether it's the desire for feeling better which would lead you to want or need the medication clashing with the side-effects or even just the reminder of medical concerns in the middle of a TV show, cognitive dissonance can get in the way of the consumer buying the product.

Perhaps the one that most clearly battles this problem is the ad for the stop-smoking aid, Chantix. At one point in advertising history and perhaps even until now, the Chantix commercials ran a full two-minutes. That is a lot of ad time. Over half of that was the listing of the side-effects- and there are many.

Chantix (varenicline) is an effective medication. It is used successfully by millions as are most of the medications we see advertised. The issue isn't that they don't work, the issue is there are possible side-effects for some people. The public has the right to know of the possible problems, but it is interesting to watch the pharmaceutical companies do everything they can to keep us from being discouraged.

Toward Pentecost (4): Hope

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Following the 10th Armored (24): Beyond the Rhine

This is part of a series following my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago. He was a medic with the 80th Medical Battalion assigned to the 10th Armored.

If it's possible to say that a war campaign has become very straightforward, perhaps I could say that about what the Tigers of the 10th Armored and their 80th Medical Battalion were experiencing in late March and Early April. For all practical purposes the force of the German army had been blunted and the Allies were moving at a steady, if not also quick, pace. Nichols describes this period in Chapter 10, "Rhine to the Neckar River" lest one get too overly confident.

In the last days of the Saar-Palatinate fight in which the German 1st and 7th Armies were badly mauled, the Tenth Armored overran Seventh Army boundaries and was traded to General Patch for the latter's Sixth Armored, which was sent to General Patton's United States Third Army. By March 28, the Seventh Army engineers had completed two bridges across the Rhine at Worms and on that date, the Tigers rolled over the pontoons in anticipation of the final clean-up drive that was to carry them to the Austrian and Bavarian Alps in late April of 1945.  Though on the run, the German was machine still packed a lethal punch... In the next, and final six weeks of battle, the enemy was to extract a heavy toll.
April 1 was the completion of six months of rugged combat for the Tenth. They were below par, Nichols says, and was 50% below strength. The 80th Medical, it should be noted, had continued to receive replacements, perhaps an indication of the importance of medical care and, I am sure, other factors.

By 2 April the Tenth had made its HQ in the historic city of Heidelberg. It was a free city and the armored rode in without a problem. The entire populace turned out to cheer the Tigers and laid flowers in their path. It was the day after Easter, 1945.

As can be seen above and at left, Combat Command B (CC B) went around to the south of Heidelberg and by April 3 had met their objective about 23 miles south of Mannheim. They had taken 300 prisoners and continued eastward to the Neckar. They faced more stubborn resistance but by April 4, with CC B mopping up small enemy groups west of the Neckar and south of Heilbronn, the success was clear.

The overall campaign, shown at left, ended with CC B remaining at Heilbronn supporting the 100th Infantry working toward a breakthrough there. Reconnaissance units from CC A ran ahead of the Tenth as it crossed the Neckar brushing aside resistance. They were helping set the stage for the next set of exploits of the Tenth, taking Crailsheim, 70 miles east of Heilbronn.

Toward Pentecost (3): Fear

Monday, April 06, 2015

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Saturday, April 04, 2015

In Memory: Martin Luther King, Jr.

It was one of those days for many of us, 
one of many from that era: 
"Where were you when...?"

from Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, TN

from Rock and Soul Museum, Memphis, TN

And, in spite of what many are trying to convince us of, we still have much work to do. Pray for wisdom, strength, and the courage to continue the work that needs to be done.

A Day of Pause and Reflection

For Christians it is the day in-between. We have had the the Footwashing, the Last Supper, Gethsemane, Calvary. As I have said a number of times on this blog we have the advantage of knowing how the story ends. We know who won't be in the tomb when the women arrive tomorrow morning. We should not forget our privileged position of awareness- nor try to read it back into the original story. I saw a church sermon title for tomorrow that did that.

Afraid- But Filled With Joy
is what it read and I have assumed that it is trying to put those two feelings into the original disciples on Easter morning- a certain way of getting it wrong. Just as we don't need to be afraid today because of yesterday's Crucifixion, they had no sense of joy, even when the women reported the tomb empty.

Joy came later.

When we try to give definitive answers to what the events of that Holy Week (I still like Passion Week, by the way!) we will always fail. I don't care who you are or how educated you are, we cannot get into the First Century mindset to understand what it meant then, let alone what it means today.

I came to that realization sitting in church on Thursday evening in the silence prior to the start of the Maundy Thursday Footwashing and Eucharist. I wanted to be there and it was a calm, refreshing and renewing place to be. I thought about all the 40 years as a pastor on this evening or the years when I was first a Christian and went to the Good Friday services. I pondered the changes in the service, as the pastor said, since in most of those years there was no such thing as a footwashing service. We did those things as a "Camp-thing" but few would have thought of that for a Maundy Thursday experience.

I remembered our Moravian Lovefeasts or Tenebrae services of darkness. I reflected on the words of the liturgy:
  • Do this
  • My body
  • My blood
  • In remembrance
  • Until He comes
But if you had asked me what this all means to me today, I couldn't have answered you. Nor would I have tried. I know far, far less today than I have ever known; I have far fewer final answers than I have ever had or been given. I don't need to know the answers anymore. I don't need to believe some iron-clad, no-way-around-it theology or theological ideology. I know these words express a deep, personal and universal reality. I know there is truth, no, there is Truth here that I will never grasp with my head or logic.

Nothing about this is logical. Nothing about this makes any intellectual sense in spite of what many want to find. What makes the words of Jesus and the actions of God so powerful to me today is that they don't have the same narrow meaning they may have had 2000 years ago. They are words that lead us to something far more than I can ever grasp.

Because the spiritual reality that I can fully understand will not be the spiritual reality of God. God is greater than that. God speaks in each time and each place. The events in an Upper Room, a Garden or on the garbage hill of Jerusalem in 30 AD are actions of God. No doubts there. They are part of a Truth that I will never humanly understand.

So all I can do is thank God for what God has done and is doing for me and for all. All I can express is what I have seen and heard and received.
  • Grace
  • Peace
  • Forgiveness
  • Salvation
  • God's love.
So I let that surround me, wash over my feet in the footwashing, be a blessing as I washed another person's feet and then enter through me in the Eucharist.

Thanks be to God!

Lent Picture A Day (46): Refuge

Friday, April 03, 2015

Good Friday Meditation

In Memoriam

Lent Picture A Day (45): Prosper

Early Morning - Good Friday

In Gethsemene
To be in the Garden with Jesus

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Following the 10th Armored (23): March Ends

This is part of a series following my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago. He was a medic with the 80th Medical Battalion assigned to the 10th Armored, part of Patton’s Third Army.

After Action Report
80th Medical Battalion
10th Armored Division
1 March - 31 March 1945

There were 32 officers and 367 enlisted men. During the month none of the battalion was killed and three were wounded while one was reported missing. Thirty-five reinforcements were assigned.

At all three clearing stations of the battalion in March 1945 there were:

2741 admissions
355 were returned to duty
23 died in the stations
2381 were transferred and
5 remained in station on 31 March

These numbers were significantly higher than February. Since we don't have After Action Reports for December and January, the months of the Battle of the Bulge, we can't compare to that period, but the high activity in March including the final capture of Trier, clearing the Wittlich corridor and the Race to the Rhine caused significant more activity on certain days. Overall, they had over 1300 admissions from 1 March to 9 March (145/day)and 357 on 21 - 22 March. These 11 days accounted for more than 60% of all admissions for the month.

Than an Army Ambulance Company be attached to each Armored Division to insure constant, continuous and efficient third echelon evacuation at all times. An Armored Division such as this one can expect to be transferred between Corps of an Army and between Armies such as we have been during the past six months. Each such transfer has resulted in a confused third echelon evacuation system for several days after the transfer.

Fredrick D. Loomis
Captain, MAC.,
Battalion S-3

This recommendation, of course, was based on the several changes between the Third and Seventh Armies by the 10th Armored Division as well as working with other corps within the Armies. That old problem of the "fog of war" is one that is hard to overcome. In the heat of action and quickly changing situations, the ability to be efficient is obviously seriously impacted.

For me, as a lifelong civilian, that is part of what we seldom see in the movies or on TV. I keep referring back to last year's excellent WW 2 Movie, Fury, which was set in these late months of World War II with an Armored Division like the Tigers. The other great WW 2 movies such as Saving Private Ryan, The Longest Day, The Guns of Navarone and Clint Eastwood's two-parter, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima also do a very good job of showing the agony and horrors of war. But with my Dad's involvement with the 10th Armored, Fury had an immediate reality for these days for me.

While April would have its share of fighting, as we will see, on 31 March 1945 there were only 45 days left on the official days of World War II. There were six-months behind them and now, just a little less than six-months left until the Tigers would return home. But that is, as I have said before, our hindsight. I would assume the daily grind of war, the wear and tear of facing casualties, attacks and counter-attacks along with the uncertainties of what was going on beyond them had exacted a toll.

Lent Picture A Day (43): Peace

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Comedian With a Heart

We just finished listening to Martin Short's moving memoir, I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend, on our trip home. I am glad, first of all, that we did the audio book version with Short himself doing the reading. That way we got the "real deal" of Short's characters and own way of presenting his story.

Two things stand out in my mind about the book. First, it gives a down-to-earth view of celebrities that we see often- Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Paul Shaffer, Bill Murray, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn and Short himself. As Short tells his story and these friends of his show up, we find that they are just every-day people in their own world. While they may be in a whole different culture than most of us, within their culture and relationships they do the same things as we do. They sit on balconies and look at the ocean, on the porch of a cabin and watch the water on the lake. They go to the doctors and have fun times together. They call each other up on the phone and go shopping.

They also have the pains of life that we all have. Which is the second outstanding element of Short's memoir- he lays bear the pain of his life. His brother's sudden death while Short was a teenager, the death of his mother, the father who was like so many other fathers of the 50s and 60s and finally, the death of his wife of 36 years in 2010. His reflections on these events go deep into the ins and outs of being human and coping with life. They speak of the heart- and to the heart. He doesn't sugar-coat them not give glib answers. You can tell that through a lifetime of deaths in his life, he has wrestled with what the meanings are- for him.

As we were driving listening to the last sections of the book about his wife's death, my wife and I found ourselves crying. He doesn't play the emotions, he simply tells the story and his reactions. We could not stay dry-eyed. Short is of our generation, of course, and we are soon to celebrate 43 years together. The deep loss of the death of a spouse is not something to avoid. As Short presents it, when it happens, it will hurt, deeply and forever, but these difficult times are difficult because we have had a good life together.

While not one to regularly listen to audio books, I highly recommend this one instead of just reading it. You will get Martin Short at his best and most human.

Lent Picture A Day (42): Call

Monday, March 30, 2015