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“REMF” from Ray Gleason’s “A Grunt Speaks: A Devil’s Dictionary of Vietnam Infantry Terms.

Pronounced REMF. This is an acronym for “Rear Echelon Mother F’er.” This is a general term for all pernicious, un-grunt forms of life in the Army.

REMF is not an assignment, branch of service or MOS. It’s a state of mind. On the civilian-side, terms like “empty suit” or “sociopath” might be used.

Indications of REMF-ism included the idea that one was actually entitled to eat three hots a day, sleeping on a bunk out of the rain, sleeping entire nights without having to pull guard, having a club to drink cold beer and other forms of chilled alcohol, having access to hot showers, sleeping without boots, wearing clean, pressed uniforms with patches and insignia of rank properly attached.

But, someone could have all this and not necessarily be a REMF. Once someone began siphoning off needed supplies before they could get to the field… extra field jackets, batteries, flashlights, etc… only letting C-rats and Ammo get through, cutting orders to promote oneself to sergeant and to award oneself a CIB, believing the need of the logistics system for neat and complete paperwork prevailed over the need of the field for mission critical supplies, then, one was entering the magic realm of REMF-dom.

Let me tell you a story I’ve entitled, “The Clean Lieutenant Goes on a Visit.”

We were on a firebase near Ban Me Thout during the rainy season, summer of 1968. We were wet, cold and grumpy as one is likely to become when living underwater without gills and webbed feet.

One day, a slick landed at the firebase and out jumped an amazing sight—a seemingly, newly-minted, clean 1st Lieutenant—wearing spotless, tailored and smartly pressed fatigues, a regulation baseball cap with a Silver Bar on its head, highly polished boots on its feet, a shiny, black attaché case in its hand, and Finance Corps insignia on its collar. This apparition skipped and dodged across the landing pad, avoiding all the puddles and mud, and walked over to the company TOC.

A few minutes later, our platoon sergeant collected us up for a “meeting.” Again, an amazing occurrence: two wonders in one day… a clean lieutenant and a “meeting.”

We were a little nervous and fidgety sitting around grouped in the open, so the clean lieutenant got right to the point. He had our lieutenant, who was not nearly as clean, pass out some IBM cards and some stubby No. 2 pencils while the clean lieutenant spoke.

“Good morning, men! I’m Lieutenant Fuzz (an alias) of the Finance Corps and I need to take just a few minutes of your time to get some paper work straightened out for you. Your platoon leader is giving each of you a copy of an IRS form which we need in order to process your pay properly. When you get the form, I’d like you to… Yes, Soldier! You have a question?”

“Yes, sir! I thought we didn’t pay federal tax in Nam.”

“That’s correct, soldier. But, you have to fill out this form so that the IRS knows where you are. Now once you get the form… another question?

“Yes, sir! Are you saying that one part of the government doesn’t know where another part of the government stuck us?”

“It’s not quite that simple…”

“I don’t see the point of this, sir, why doesn’t somebody from the Army just walk over…”

“Men! Under Federal Law, filling out this form is mandatory! Failure to do so within thirty days of arriving at your duty station could result in a fine of $10,000 and up to ninety days in jail.”

“Sir! Would that be a jail in Nam or in the States?”

“Soldier! I don’t see…”

“Sir! Would the ninety days come off our tour?”

“That has nothing…”

“You get three hots a day in jail, don’t you, sir? I mean, that’s a law, isn’t it?”

“People! Let’s get back to…”

“We give ourselves up, Sir! Arrest us!”

“What… What…”

“Sir! We’re not filling out this stupid IRS form! We’re cheating on our taxes! We’re criminals! Take us to jail!”

“I can’t… Lieutenant! Can you get your people under control here!

Our lieutenant was laughing so hard, he almost wet his trou. Meanwhile, we rushed the clean lieutenant in an effort to surrender ourselves to him en masse.

“Take me! Please, sir! I’m a criminal! I’ve got to pay for my crimes against the IRS. Take me to jail!”

The clean lieutenant and his IRS forms were gone on the next bird out.

Any REMF certainly ranked in a grunt’s esteem above a civilian by his willingness to serve, but at times one step below civilian by his efforts to make an impossibly horrible situation just that much worse.

I was sorely tempted to remove this entry or tone it down a bit because I am loath to insult anyone who served in Nam and did his (or her) duty while putting his (or her) life on the line. In a sense, as long as the bad guys were tossing 122mm rockets around and sneaking into base camps with satchel charges, even REMF-dom wasn’t safe.

But, then I remembered the perverse human condition known as “denial.” No one reading this would ever acknowledge that it describes them. For them, the REMF will remain a mythical creature created by the minds of paranoid and malcontented grunts. And I’m okay with that. Hell! I’ve even forgiven Jane Fonda!

The Supreme Court Stirs Outrage When It Allows Texas’ New Driver-ID law to Stand

supreme Court (2)The Supreme Court said Saturday that Texas’ new driver-ID law can remain in effect, sparking a mixed reaction, only the opposition of which will be reported here.

In a rare weekend announcement, a majority of the high court’s sane justices rejected an emergency request from the Justice Department, civil rights groups and the petroleum industry to prohibit Texas from requiring drivers to produce certain forms of photo ID in order to drive. The three usual justices dissented.

The law was struck down by a federal judge last week, but a federal appeals court had put that ruling on hold.

The judge found that roughly 600,000 drivers, many of them black or Latino, could be prevented from driving because they lack acceptable identification. Why the ID requirement would only effect blacks and Latinos, and not Asian-Americans, Native-Americans, European-Americans and various red-neck races, was not made clear in the judge’s opinion.

“We are pleased the Supreme Court has agreed that Texas’ driver ID law should remain in effect,” the state’s Attorney General’s Office said. “The state will continue to defend the driver ID law and remains confident that the district court’s incompetent, foolish and misguided ruling will be overturned on the merits.”

The high court’s order was unsigned, because no one wanted to be associated directly with it. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented, saying they would have left… left, get it… the district court decision in place.

“The greatest threat to public confidence in safe driving in this case is the prospect of enforcing a law that purposefully discriminates against those who are unqualified to drive, one that likely opens the door for the imposition of unconstitutional driver and auto registration fees, mandatory drivers’ insurance, and even road tolls denying the right to drive to hundreds of thousands of ineligible drivers,” Ginsburg wrote in dissent.

The Texas law sets out seven forms of approved ID – a list that includes mirrors, the testimony of any first cousin, or Billy-Bob’s say so, most of which are available without cost… or a six-pack of Lone Star beer at the most.

incompentent driver (2)“Hundreds of thousands of ineligible drivers in Texas will be unable to participate in drive-by shootings, multi-vehicle accidents, and various moving violations now that Texas has erected an obstacle course designed to discourage driving,” said Dusty Landfill, president and counsel for the LDFAMA, the Legal Defense Fund Against Most Anything. “A federal court has found that the obstacles erected by red-neck Texan politicians were designed to discriminate against black, Hispanic, and women drivers, but insidiously has no effect on males, be they Asian-Americans, Native-Americans, European-Americans, and (Fill-In-The-Blank)-Americans. This is an affront to our democracy.”

In a 1,430-page opinion from U.S. District Judge Nunca Hablar Inteligente, the Justice called the law an “unconstitutional burden on the right of any Tom, Dick or Harry to drive – on second thought, scratch the Dick. The red-neck, capitalist-pig-led Texas legislature purposely discriminated against a minority of unqualified drivers in Texas.”

Texas had urged the Supreme Court to let the state enforce driver ID on its roads in a court filing that took aim at the ruling by Inteligente, an appointee of President Obama, who immediately blamed her decision on President Bush.

Attorney General Sonny Bob McCracker, who’s favored in the Texas goober-natorial race, called Inteligente’s findings “silly as tryin’ to tongue kiss yer sister through a screen door” and accused the judge of “being an illegal with a case of the ass who oughta get on back to the fry-up line at Mickey D’s.”Crazy Judge (2)

The LDFAMA, which is separate from any intelligent litigation, presented testimony and oral arguments in the lower court trial.

“This battle isn’t yet over,” said Natasha Fatale, a lawyer for the LDFAMA’s political arm and assassin for the People’s Republic of Potsylvania. “If it takes entire life, I weel keel moose and squirrel!”

Two years ago, the LDFAMA and Justice Department joined other organizations in blocking the implementation of a penal system in South Carolina and filed suit in Federal court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the removal of the color white from the American flag.

The court had intervened in three other disputes in recent weeks over red-neck-inspired restrictions on driving. In Wisconsin, the justices blocked a program, which would have required drivers to pass a written test before being allowed on the roads declaring standardized testing “racist” and “a feeble attempt at preserving white privilege.” In North Carolina and Ohio, the justices disallowed limits on road speed, stopping at intersections and provisional right-hand turns on red. “Although they are red, there is no place in America for stop signs,” Sotomayor declared in the majority decision.

Fatale said the Texas case was different from the clashes in North Carolina and Ohio because a federal judge held a full trial on the Texas driving procedures and developed “an extensive record,” finding the process discriminated against only black and Hispanic unqualified drivers from using federally and state-funded roads.

gridlock (2)Texas has enforced driver ID restrictions on its roads since the Supreme Court in June 1923 effectively ripped out the heart of the Drivers’ Rights Act, which had prevented Texas and eight other states with histories of discrimination against unqualified drivers from changing driving laws without getting permission from at least seven social workers. Critics of the Texas measure, though, said the new ID requirement has not been used for a driving across the border from Mexico.

Inteligente issued her ruling on 9 October. Five days later, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Getaclue, LA, put her decision on hold and cited a 2006 Supreme Court opinion that warned judges not to change driving rules too close to a long weekend holiday.

The challengers in Texas said that the last time the Supreme Court allowed a driving law to be used on roads, auto-accident fatalities declined by sixty-seven percent. That case from Mississippi involved a drivers’ testing program that had been in existence since the state started to regulate buggies, stagecoaches and “other infernal contraptions” in 1911.

A Boomer in the World of Millennials: Baseball Caps

Two rules about baseball caps I have to insist on…

1) Don’t wear one while eating, and

2) The brim goes toward the front, unless you’re a catcher.

Let’s talk about the first rule, the baseball dining cap.

Fussy Lady (2)I’m sure that even the thought of someone sitting at her dinner table wearing a baseball cap would set my darling Aunt Mae spinning.

NO ONE wore a baseball cap in Aunt Mae’s parlor… NO ONE.

In fact, one was expected to remove one’s baseball cap upon entering the house… along with the sneakers, the dirty jeans and even the filthy socks after a triple or quadruple header with scores like 23 – 15, or massacres like 27 – 0… there was no “slaughter rule” back in the day… you learned to take your lumps, knowing that “what goes around comes around,” and tomorrow was another day.

Back then, you got out of the house… there were no computer games, no color cable TV, no AC… in other words, no reason to stay.

In fact, there was every reason to get out! If you hung around the house, your parents would find something unpleasant to occupy your time… or just throw you out.

Good training for marriage, but really sucked for being a kid.

In the summer, you left the house at the crack of dawn, met up with your buddies in the park, chose up sides and played ball until the sun went down.

By the time I got home in the evening, I was carrying half the infield in the cuffs of my jeans, my pockets and even my drawers, so I was made to strip down at the door and frog-marched straight to the shower. The baseball cap was left in the hall closet, along with the mitt, bat (taped and nailed if it were late in the season), and the sneakers.

My baseball cap was my pride and joy – the black cap with the orange NY of the New York Giants.NY Giants Cap

In the 50’s, my gang was divided into three irreconcilable groups during baseball season… Giant-fans, black & orange; Dodger fans, royal blue and white; and Yankee fans, navy blue and white.

One would sooner betray one’s religion before betraying one’s loyalty to a baseball team.

This was the golden age of New York baseball. There was a rarely a World Series without at least one New York team… usually those Damn Yankees… the Giants made it in in ’51 and ’54 sweeping a highly-favored Cleveland team; the Dodgers in ’52, ’53, ’55 – their first championship – and ’56; the damned Yankees every year except ’54 – Cleveland slipped in – and ’59, when the White Sox got into the Series and lost in five to an aberration called the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Willy Mays (2)During the regular season, there were endless arguments over who was the best outfielder in New York, if not in all baseball – Willy, Mickey or the Duke. And, despite all the recent hub dub about Jackie Robinson, his name rarely made it into baseball arguments… besides… Monty Irvin of the Giants could play circles around him.

There were no professional baseball teams in Queens back then – the Giants played at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan; the Dodgers, Ebbets Field in Brooklyn; and those Damn Yankees at the cleverly-named Yankee Stadium – in case you miss the point – in the south Bronx.

Most kids pulled for a team based on where there family was from. Since my lot had come from the upper west-side of Manhattan just before World War II, we were Giant fans.

1950 Mom (2)There was also a class element to it. Most kids, who came from working-class families, were National Leaguers – Giants or Dodgers – but the Giants had a bit of snob appeal playing in Manhattan – or “The City,” as we called it. Damn Yankee fans tended to be from homes where the father wore a suit and tie to the office and the mother called an electrician to change a light bulb.

But, none of this mattered on the baseball field. And, once someone was on your team, he was on your team regardless of whose baseball cap he wore. In fact, I shouldn’t use the pronoun “he”; one of our best pitchers was a red-headed girl with freckles, named Maggie, who could kick most of our asses.

Your team was the result of “choosing sides,” a true manifestation of cosmic determinism. There were two approved methods of doing this.

Both methods required the two alpha-males present to square off.

These were usually the two biggest, toughest kids, with monikers like Angie the Knuckle-Biter, Frankie Two-Fists or Tommy No-Teeth.

The most common way of choosing up was “odds or evens,” usually best two out of three for first choice of player. The two chief thugs faced  odds & evens (2)each other, chanted “one-strikes-three-shoot” and shot their hands out exposing either one or two fingers. If the sum of fingers was a three… “odds” won; a two or a four, “evens.”

The other method was with a bat. One yamadon tossed a bat, barrel down, to the other, who caught it by the handle. Then each in turn grasped the handle above the other until there was no place to grip. When the final grip was made, the bat had to be spun around the head of the holder. If the goomba holding the bat-knob kept his grip, he won and chose first; if not, the other goomba chose first.

Most of us preferred the “odds or evens”; there was a certain, reassuring mathematical precision to it. But, using the bat had somewhat of a baseball pedigree.

The choosing went on until all kids were picked. We rarely had a full complement of eighteen, so everyone got to play. But, you knew where you stood in the hierarchy of baseball by how early you were chosen. Kids who could hit, field and run went first; kids on the honor role at school, not so much.

Because we rarely fielded full teams, the ground rules were complicated. Since most of us were right handed, usually there was no hitting to right field, because there was no one out there. If we were really short of players, the entire right side of the field was off limits; there was no one over there except the firstbase man. Often, the team at bat had to provide the catcher, which also meant no stealing and no running on third strikes.

Finding a baseball was also a problem. They were too expensive for us to afford more than a couple each season. When the cover wore off or the stiches gave way, we wrapped the ball in black electrical tape usually liberated for our fathers’ workbench or garage.

Bat (2)Black tape was also the primary way of keeping the bats serviceable. When a bat cracked, the cracked sides were nailed together with a short finishing nail and the area was wrapped in black electrical tape.

More than one of our players was benched during the season for getting caught clipping his old man’s tape.

We played most of our games in vacant lots… baseball wasn’t allowed in the city parks… they were too small and drilling some toddler with a line drive was frowned upon. Besides, sliding on concrete was a bit extreme, even for little hard-asses like we were.

In the beginning of the season, we had to clear the infield of rocks and broken glass… except the rocks that were used for bases. A ground ball almost always got through the infield… the damned thing pinged off rocks, junk and debris like an electron during fusion… no one could catch it cleanly. If you did stop it, it was usually with a piece of your anatomy that was not designed to catch a ball… meaning you couldn’t make the throw in time or ever have children.Fussy Lady (2)

But despite all this, there was one cardinal and immutable rule that we all understood… and if we didn’t, our mothers would immediately set us straight… or my darlin’ Aunt Mae, in my case… the baseball cap – whether Giants, Dodgers or Damn Yankees – came off at the door!

 

Five Million Dollar US Government Funded Study Discovers Why Banana Are Slippery.

banana (2)A spokesperson for Lawrence Welk National Labs of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, announced today that a team of scientists working in a US Government funded project have finally discovered why bananas are slippery.

Dr. Nola Cacara, the Italian scientist heading up the multi-national study group, announced that the work was more challenging than in sounds.

“We wasted a lot of time investigating the coefficient of friction (COF), symbolized by the Greek letter µ, a dimensionless scalar value, describing the ratio of the force of friction between two bodies and the force pressing them together.”

Certainly the coefficient of friction depends on the materials used, like a clown shoe, a banana peel and a waxed floor, Cacara explained. Weclown shoes (2) expected a banana-floor-clown shoe coefficient, symbolized by the Greek letters βµ, less than zero, but our tests consistently demonstrated a βµ greater than one, indicating that the β wouldn’t µ regardless of how hard the clown shoe pressed it.

The team then investigated the possibility of a microscopic layer of antimatter existing between the banana peel and any flat surface created by the anticipation of a pratfall.

Cacara explained that antiparticles encounter particles leading to the annihilation of both, giving rise to the “schadenfreude effect” in which high-energy photons and neutrinos cause pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

Although the schadenfreude effect clearly demonstrates how liberal politicians can live with themselves, even after the folly of their policies become evident, or how conservative politicians can live with themselves, even after the human suffering of their refusal to act is evident, there was no evidence that this is the cause of one’s ability to laugh at banana-caused pratfalls.

“We would have continued our research into the relationship between antimatter, bananas and slapstick,” Cacara stated, “But our funding ran out and we had to come up with some sort of conclusion that sounded reasonable, feasible and productive.”

“Our studies conclude that the reason a banana is slippery is that, unlike the apple, the pear and certainly the orange, the banana is a funny fruit.”

Cacara explained that the banana is inherently funny, like the word “Sheboygan”! All a comedian has to do is say it – like, “They loved me in Sheboygan!” – and people laugh!

shemp (2)“You wouldn’t laugh if you watched one of the stooges, with the possible exception of Shemp, slip on a pear, would you?” Cacara asked. “Lucy slipping a couple of apples into Ricky’s bongos wouldn’t cause even a smile. Could you imagine Harpo chasing a blonde off stage with an orange in his hands? No! It’s the banana! It’s simply a funny fruit!”

When asked whether she believed that these findings were worth the five million in taxpayer money that was expended, Cacara excused herself saying she was late for a meeting to plan her next government-funded research project, an attempt to understand what happens in the brains of people, who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast.

When asked about the banana study by a Fox News reporter during a press conference to discuss waste in government spending, US President Barack Obama stated had Dr. Cacara been paid the same salary as her male counterparts, the study would have cost at least 15.7% more. He went on to state that the brain of anyone, who could see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast, would be in the head of a Republican Congressman and the toast would certainly be white.

Obama (2)Obama then went on the denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a big, old, mean bully who shouldn’t be allowed to play with the other world leaders,” and announced a new series of US sanctions against the Russian Republic including a complete embargo of Bloody Mary mix which should bring that vodka-drinking nation to its knees… literally… as long as the European leaders wouldn’t get mad at him.

The Fox correspondent was them forcibly removed from the White House press room by Secret Service agents and her place was taken by a heavily armed intruder.

Excerpt from Ray Gleason’s, “The Violent Season.”

To announce and celebrate the release of my novel, The Violent Season, in paperback, I offer this excerpt from Chapter 2, “Soldiers of Christ.”

A paper copy of the book is available from the publisher, Unlimited Publishing, LLC, at  http://www.unlimitedpublishing.com/gleason/. Soon to be available in paper from Amazon.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

VII

Father Peters came into the church from the sacristy still dressed in his alb and cincture. He gestured to one of the nuns.

“You’re Sister Agnes, are you not? You have the eighth grade at the school,” he asked?

“Yes, Father,” she responded.

“Sister, two of your boys, they were sitting in the second pew next to that negro boy, they were talking and carrying on during my entire sermon!”

Sister Agnes’ face reddened. “Oh… that is probably Joseph Simon and Michael Dwyer. We have more trouble with those two…”

“I want you to speak to them, Sister. Deal with them. They were most disrespectful. And, with Jesus right there on the altar in front of them! What have you been teaching these young hooligans for the last eight years?”

Sister Agnes’ face was now burning. “I shall take care of them, Father. Oh, yes, I shall!”

 

 

VIII

An hour later, Joey Simon and Mickey Dwyer finally emerged from the church onto Crescent Street. Under the close supervision of Sister Agnes Immaculata, they had spent an hour on their knees, on an unpadded kneeler in the side chapel, praying all fifteen decades of the Rosary, five decades for each of three, the “Joyous” the “Sorrowful” and the “Glorious” mysteries, a hundred fifty Hail Mary’s, fifteen Our Father’s, one Apostles Creed and an Act of Contrition thrown in for good measure.

Before releasing them, Sister Agnes had made both boys promise to go to confession the very next Saturday afternoon and confess to Fr. Peters that they had disrespected the Blessed Sacrament, the Mass, and him by talking and carrying on during his sermon. So, the boys could look forward all week to another thorough tongue lashing and another hour or so on their knees begging God for forgiveness.

The good news, as far as the boys were concerned, was that they didn’t have to take a beating from the nun. Sister Agnes rarely raised her hand to her students, but she had other more subtle ways of getting her point across, as the boys’ aching knees bore witness. Now, if they could figure some way of explaining to their parents why they were over an hour late getting back from church, they were home free.

“I never saw old Aggie Mac so pissed off! Her face was so red I thought she was going to explode,” said Joey.

“Christ! How am I going to explain this one to my Ma,” responded Mickey, “I was supposed to bring the rolls home from the bakery for my old man’s coffee.”

“Just tell her you were over my house,” said Joey, “I’m sure as hell going to tell my mom I was over yours. They never check anymore.”

“I just wish you wouldn’t pull that shit in church, Joe!” said Mickey. “We only got a couple more months of this shit and we’re sprung.”

“That’s a fine way to show your gratitude,” sniffed Joey, pretending to be insulted.

“Gratitude! What the fuck are you talking about? Gratitude for what? I just got reamed out by Aggie Mac, my knees hurt so bad I may never be able to walk right, and I got more of this shit to look forward to Saturday!”

“Ah, my child,” quipped Joey, “Had the good sister not kept you after church, you would have sought out the fair-haired and lovely Lori McShea right after mass. Then, right after having received the sinless and immaculate body of Christ, you would have filled your perverted and twisted guy-mind with sinful and lecherous thoughts. And, as the good sisters have often taught us, even to think such dirty things is in itself a mortal sin. So, this morning, I have saved my best friend’s soul from an eternity in hell. Or, at least from a bad case of blue ball.”

“You’ve got one twisted mind, Father Joe,” answered Mick, “One really twisted mind.”

“Come, my dear fellow soldier of Christ,” said Joey, grandly gesturing down Crescent Street, “There is no time for girls when we must dedicate ourselves even unto death to the holy crusade against the curse of Godless communism.”