Archive for the 'History' Category

04
Jan
10

It’s his way or the Norway

As the movie Avatar recently reminded us, there is little more inspiring than a super, super badass.  Colonel Miles Quaritch enjoys wielding guns, scowling, piloting giant robots, and not repairing his awesome scars with wimpy plastic surgery.  He looks like this:

Colonel Miles Quaritch: The Action Figure

Actual Photo

No doubt any movie would benefit from having such a character as part of its dramatis personae.  I think we can all agree that The Curious Case of Colonel Quaritch would have been both a critical and commercial success.

However, Quaritch pales in comparison to a real-life badass, a man whose very name inspires simultaneous shudders of ecstasy and terror: Knut Haugland.

Action figure available soon.

Unfortunately, we lost Haugland this past Christmas at the age of 92.  Even more unfortunately, I didn’t even know the man existed until today, when his obituary appeared in the New York Times (login required).  While reporter William Grimes already did a fine job tabulating Haugland’s impressive list of accomplishments, it’s clear that he also failed to imbue his article with an appropriate amount of flabbergastedness (or is it flabbergastronomy?).  After all, this is a guy who had enough real-life adventures for two Colonel Quariches, and with the assistance of neither CGI nor battlemechs.  I hope Grimes won’t mind me correcting his oversight.

1. Resistance Training

First of all, Haugland was a bona-fide, badass, undercover WWII commando.  While eking out an ordinary living as a worker at a radio factory in Nazi-occupied Norway, he secretly used his communications expertise to not only support but to help lead the resistance.  Although he had already fought the Nazis in a more traditional military setting, which I assume was also full of crazy badassery, I skip ahead to this period mainly because of the following events.  To quote the obituary (emphasis mine):

“Twice he was captured and escaped, once by back-flipping over a snow bank and running off into the woods before his guards could use their weapons.”

I repeat, he escaped the Nazis by doing a fucking back flip.  And in the very next sentence:

“A third time, surrounded by the Gestapo at a maternity hospital in Oslo where he had set up a transmitter in a chimney, he shot his way to freedom with a pistol.”

Shot his way to freedom out of a maternity hospital? I don’t know about you, but I’m picturing something exactly like this in every way:

More famously, he took part in an event known as The Norwegian Heavy Water Sabotage, which involved a) paradropping into enemy territory, b) surviving in an isolated cabin for four months, without supplies, during the harsh Norwegian winter, c) MacGyvering a radio out of a car battery and fishing rods, and d) being a part of the team that blew up a Nazi hydro plant.  Apparently, people back the also thought this was pretty hardcore, as it was made into a 1965 movie, with the enticing tagline “COME FROZEN HELL OR HIGH ADVENTURE.”  I’ll take high adventure, please.

2. The Wrath of Kon-Tiki

After the war was over, one would think that even a badass like Haugland would have every reason to seek early retirement, light a nice fire in the hearth, pour a glass of scotch, put his feet up, and never take them down again.  However, this is not the story of an ordinary badass; let’s not forget that this unassuming Norwegian radioman was a super badass.  His next outing, only two years after the end of the war, was a little jaunt known as the Kon-Tiki Expedition.

I really wish more people these days had heard of the Kon-Tiki.  Basically, six crazy Scandinavians built a raft out of balsa wood and sailed it over four thousand miles across the Pacific Ocean, because they could.  All right, to be more accurate, they made the voyage to prove that it could be done, on the theory that ancient South Americans might have been the original colonizers of the islands of the South Pacific.

The Kon Tiki

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip...

The voyage took more than three months, included at least one spectacular rescue of a man overboard, and ended in a shipwreck that left the crew stranded on a remote island until they were rescued by a tribe of friendly natives.  Let me emphasize, as I did for Haugland’s wartime exploits, that this all happened in REAL LIFE.  Naturally, this adventure also became a movie – a documentary this time – that went on to win an Oscar.

***

So how does a Norwegian man with the nebbishy profession of radio expert and the dorky-sounding name Knut Haugland end up having so many adventures that they were fodder for two movies?  Obviously, my thesis holds: the man is a serious bad dude.  I can scarcely imagine what he would have accomplished if he had been, instead, a master of archery named John Rambo.

THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN KIDNAPPED BY NINJAS. ARE YOU A BAD ENOUGH DUDE TO RESCUE THE PRESIDENT?

Knut Haugland’s answer would definitely be “Ja.”

It’s clear that the world lost a great man last month, one whose sense of humility I haven’t even touched on, and whose fearless, brazen spirit I could never do justice.

I suggest we honor him in a way everyone can appreciate: a special-effects laden trilogy in which Haugland’s character discovers he can travel through time.  You take it from here, James Cameron.

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19
Dec
09

Code Geass: Why Code Geass is Educational.

Code Geass: Rebellion of Lelouch

Code Geass (see here), for those of benefactors that may not know, is an animation series from Japan (see here).  Often classified as a mecha-action-drama by some.

However, Code Geass holds a special place for me in my heart.  I believe it should be used in the classrooms in the United States, mainly for social studies classes in high schools.

This may sound bizarre and I assure you my masters, it is.  Code Geass is EDUCATIONAL!

Get edumacated! Author: Yes your highness...

Code Geass is one of those animes that covers a lot of the things that one needs to learn about in the world.

If I were to go into detail this article will take forever and as you know this will take too much work for me, your humble writer.   So, to put it succinctly, here is a list of things that you can learn about or is referenced in the Code Geass series.

===============

SOCIAL SCIENCE

-GOVERNMENT-

  • Forms of government (empire, constitutional monarchy, representative democracy, colony, single multi-state government (some people think U.N. is one))
  • Line of succession (see line of succession)
  • Political assassination and the scary “cides” (Regicide/Fratricide/Genocide (yes, even this too))
  • Rebellion/Insurgency/Terrorism
  • War (strategy vs. tactic) – see The Art of War
  • Electoral process (see representative democracy)
  • Public executions
  • Citizenship (naturalization and by birth)

-ECONOMICS-

  • Poverty
  • Caste system (aristocracy, etc.)
  • Social Darwinism (see social darwinism)
  • Commercialism (shopping malls, cell phones, Pizza Hut.  Having been in the ad business in my previous employment this really fascinates me)
  • Mass media (state-controlled)

-HISTORY-

  • Everything before 1500-ish (because anything mentioned after that is the universe that Code Geass is set in)
  • Geography (accurate world geography with different borders)

-MISC-

  • Religion (the occult, in this case)
  • Racism and reverse-racism
  • High school education (an anime with a high school?!)

===============

HEALTH

-SEX EDUCATION-

  • Homosexuality (both male/male and female/female)
  • Masturbation (female)
  • One-sided love (I’m shocked too, I know)
  • S&M (just look at C.C.’s outfit)
  • Incest (multiple occasions)

-D.A.R.E.-

  • Drug abuse/Drug trafficking (Just say no to Refrain)
  • Deaths (suicides and malicious kinds)

===============

NATURAL SCIENCE

-NATURAL SCIENCE-

  • Psychology (a good anime always cover this topic but…)
  • Futurism (see futurism)
  • Energy crisis (sort of)
  • Pseudo-science (e.g. ESP, etc.)

-COMMERCIAL TECHNOLOGY-

  • Ejection seats, air bags
  • Monorail/public transportation systems
  • Robotics (it’s an anime, it has mecha, nuff said)
  • Cell phones (I know it’s mentioned but I do like the ones featured here.  Can’t beat the ones from Macross Frontier though)

===============

CREATIVE ARTS

-ARTS & CRAFTS-

  • Portraits (royalties, mainly)
  • Architecture (classical and neo-classical… I think)
  • Landscapes (impressionism, I think)
  • Cosplay (yes, I think it’s art)

===============

I believe there are many more things one can learn from this anime.  We should promote a forced viewing of the 2 seasons of Code Geass to everyone in high school.

Despite my utter hatred for Lelouch the Douche, I believe that allowing the youths of America to be exposed to such compendium ofknowledge will ultimately benefit us in the long run.  Long live Emperor Ledouche!

21
Oct
09

Don Quixote and the Legacy of an Otaku: PART I

This is a brief article about the term otaku and how it relates to our Western society.

The following passage may be too nerdy for some audience members.  Viewer discretion is advised.

——–

Fuura Kafuka with "the man" and his sidekick Sancho

Fuura Kafuka with "the man" and his sidekick Sancho by Picasso.

Miguel de Cervantes wrote an epic novel called the Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha.  When I read it as a teenager I was absolutely fascinated by the “hardcore” nature of Don Quixote.  It saddens me a little now that I have fully grasped the actual nature of the character of Don Quixote.

Before I go any further with Cervantes, let me explain to the viewers a term I learned later in life.  “Otaku” is a noun used in Japan indicating a specific group of individuals who has or have fixated interest in a particular subject matter.  More than likely, the fixated subjects tend to be anime, manga, video games, an idol (this is a common word used in Japan to indicate a model/singer/actress/etc.,) cosplay, etc.  The closest English version of the word would be something in the line of fanboy (or in old English as loser or geek.)  Just to make it a bit more relevant, an individual in Western society who were engrossed in Dungeons and Dragons 24/7 would be classified as an otaku.  An individual that we label as a furry would be classified an otaku.  The main character that was depicted in that movie, The 40 Year Old Virgin, would be classified as an otaku.

Now back to Cervantes and his cartoon character.

I have now realized that this work by Cervantes, though not completely convinced that it is an original story, is actually an epic about an otaku.  Don Quixote, “the man” as I call him, is one of the first otakus to be illustrated in words unto paper.  This primogenitor of sort for the Otaku community belonged to a wealthy Spanish (this word means that the person is from Spain) nobility.  Due to the inordinately large gap between the poor and the wealthy during these days (Actually this is not true.  The gap is still large in the US and the world), the wealthy can practically live their unproductive lives doing absolutely nothing.

For the case of our “the man” de la Mancha, he felt obligated to indulge in romantic (again this word refers to something that is romanticized) novels of the past knights in shining armor days.  An avid reader and collector of these romantic novels, “the man” was ever so engrossed in the fantastic world of dragons and ladies awaiting rescue.  Adding to the fact that in his residence, he amassed a hefty load of armor, though decrepit and rusting, in which to satiate his cosplay (the need for me to explain every little thing here is starting to really annoy me, look it up yourselves my magnanimous readers, sayth the humble writer,) needs.

——–

To Be Continued.

PS: Your humble servant/writer’s note: Due to new rules from FTC (Federal Trade Commission) requiring bloggers who review products to disclose if they have received funding from the products’ owners by December 31 of Deus Anno 2009, I have decided to apply this rule early to show how humble and noble of a servant I am.  Even though we do not, in Uncomma, review much of anything other than to elaborately review how our minds are greater than theirs, I feel that Uncomma will acquiesce to the greater rule of law.  Hence, the article above written by I, your humble servant and overlord of all that is good and humble, have not received anything from any unnamed donors of any kind relating to any products mentioned or implicitly mentioned within this article or relating to this article.  The said unnamed donor did not pay in cash or in goods or in kind of any services that was provided or was not provided by Uncomma.  This article is completely unbiased and unaffected by donation that can be submitted via PayPal or Google Checkout to an unmentioned link not provided by Uncomma.  Also, PayPal and Google Checkout did not pay Uncomma in any way or form in providing their great service through their respective Web sites.

04
Sep
09

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Labor Day…

This Labor Day will be a blast.  Labor Day 2009!!! Woooh!!!  Highest unemployment rate in 26 years!!! Yeay!!!  I think we are gasping for joy at the awesome news we have today.  Not only have we come to the nadir of nadir in labor history but I cannot possibly consider a worse scenario than what is at the moment.  This, of course, means only one thing.  The worst of worst is finally over.  (This is where I pop open a champagne bottle.)  If Fuura Kafuka were here, (pretend the previous posting counts as her presence) she would state thus.  “There can’t possibly be so many people looking for work, that only happens on television.”  Yes, Fuura, such fantasy only exists in imaginary land where fairies dwell and trolls do the b-boy dance.

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

May your applications be accepted.

03
Aug
09

Congress created Dust Bowl, aliens, and Ozona

According to signs posted on I-5 between northern and southern California, Congress created the Dust Bowl.  In my limited imagination, I pictured Congress passing some legislation to shove five extra pages into the American history textbooks for the sake of one or two extra questions on the American History AP exam.  How dreadful…

Congress created DUST BOWL

Congress created DUST BOWL

However, off I went, after hearing the dreadful news of Congress creating a phenomenon only to make students suffer, there I was driving on I-10.  I-10 is the other lateral spine of America, the other one being I-80, methinks.  So, apparently Phoenix, Arizona happens to be on I-10 forcing myself to inevitably discover, or rather confirm, the existence of the ubiquitous university of choice, the University of Phoenix.  Here I was face to face with what I thought only existed on banner ads and television commercials.  The University actually exists IN PHOENIX of all places.  I was shocked beyond belief.  All of a sudden, an epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks, now the Dust Bowl seemed all too real.

University of Phoenix IN PHOENIX!

University of Phoenix IN PHOENIX!

Due to the rapture I had suffered, I had the brilliant idea of driving up to Roswell from I-5.  It meant I would be driving up north for about 250 miles on a state highway.  Of course, my brilliance had calculated the distance to be approximately 100 miles.  Upon driving for 100 miles, I realized that I had miscalculated.  I was still 100 miles from my destination.  Following a random screening by border agents whereupon I was to confirm that I was not an alien of any sort, I headed to Roswell; to see aliens, of course.

To the left is an unknown being wearing what appears to be a brown t-shirt and jeans.

To the left is an unknown being wearing what appears to be a brown t-shirt and jeans.

My short stay at Roswell was by far the most disappointing event of my life.  Even when compared to the fallout from the hottest chick ever to walk the face of the earth.  This was worse.  I expected to witness aliens dropping down from a mothership all over the city and flying saucers built into every building.  But what I was faced with was utter boredom.  A total of one block with spacy-themed stores.  I entered the lone alien museum that was situated there.  For a cover charge of $5, I expected to witness some sort of alien orgy.  Instead I was greeted with cubicle walls of enlarged photocopies of newspaper articles and pictures that were already ingrained in my brain from all the History Channel’s alien-related shows.  I was there, used the restroom, then left.  I think I cried a little too…

Now I’m in Texas.  A place called Ozona.  I think they got their name from the fact that it smells suspiciously of ozone.  Maybe this is the place where Congress created ozones.  Perhaps you’ll be seeing a sign on I-5 in the near future that says “Congress created ozone.”

Texas used to be a country.

Texas used to be a country.

Stay tuned for another episode of the ever-exciting adventure of Tom in Vunterland.

Oh yeah…

Also:

Biggest Pistachio I've ever seen.  Unfortunately the photo was taken from the side but the shell is ajar on the side revealing the green yumyum part.

The biggest Pistachio I've ever seen. Unfortunately the photo was taken from the side but the shell is ajar on the other side revealing the green yum yum part.

Of course, giant pistachio would only mean...

Of course, a giant pistachio would only mean...