Hell or high water…

Hey guys!

Hope everyone is doing well! As promised last Friday, I’m going to try to get back on the weekly blog schedule. As such, let’s get to it.

On the national security front, there are two things I’ve really been trying to follow the past week. 

First, there are the enormous protests in Hong Kong. I’m still worried beyond belief that China is going to send in ground troops from their army, and it’s going to be an absolute bloodbath. I’m also terrified for the people of Hong Kong.

Can you imagine living there? Knowing your “own” leaders supported an extradition bill to China

If that bill is put into place, then any semblance of freedom is gone. Arguably, in many respects, freedom is already gone because China is already tracking who the leaders are of the movement, filing names and faces into databases. 

It would be nice if America would take its typical leadership position and encourage the Chinese to show restraint. But alas, that’s not happened as strongly as it should have yet. Maybe there’s still time for that.

The second big news crisis I’ve been trying to follow is the lockdown/invasion of Kashmir by India. That has all kinds of nasty possibilities happening, since Pakistan has nukes, the people of Kashmir don’t want to be ruled by India, etc.

These are definitely interesting times, and I haven’t even touched on the news that we’re negotiating the end of the war in Afghanistan with the Taliban.

Anyway, love to hear everyone’s thoughts on either of these matters. Or even the last one, where to my eyes, it seems the Taliban is in the stronger negotiating position, and thus has no real need to negotiate our withdrawal. They know that will happen at some point anyway.

One other thing I thought I’d mention is the movie “Hell or High Water,” which I recently watched on Netflix. Oh. My. Word.

How did I miss this movie when it came out?! 

It is EASILY one of the best movies I’ve seen in probably five years. 

One critic said of it, “There’s not a moment out of place, not a shot that stays too long. If [David McKenzie] makes a better film in his career, he’ll be lucky.”

Another, “Hell or High Water offers a solidly crafted, well-acted Western heist thriller that eschews mindless gunplay in favor of confident pacing and full-bodied characters.”

I couldn’t agree more with these sentiments. As soon as I finished the film, I IMMEDIATELY wanted to watch it again. I didn’t have time to, but I certainly plan to.

If you’ve got Netflix and haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

Finally, speaking of time, my latest work — a story of two Marine NCOs in Afghanistan — continues to go well. Should be finishing it soon. Like maybe in a week or so.

Keep your fingers crossed about that. I’ve got to get this book done, come… (wait for it…) hell or high water. hahahahah

Oh, and let me know your thoughts on either the news above — I love a good conversation — or on Hell or High Water.

Semper Fidelis,

Stan R. Mitchell

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New front page graphic 2Stan R. Mitchell is a writer and author, as well as a prior Marine infantryman. Mitchell served in Alpha Co., 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, and was lucky enough — or unlucky enough — to snag a Combat Action Ribbon. (The details of his military career.) Looking for something free to read? Here’s a piece of fiction that he wrote for you to sample. Hopefully, it’s both powerful and inspiring: The dreamer’s lament. And click the link at left to check out his books.

A conversation about House of Cards, Season 3

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

“American Sniper,” the Movie

WARNING: SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS

Do not continue reading if you haven’t seen the movie…

Now, with those warnings out of the way, let’s begin. I’m really wanting to discuss this movie with some of you all, so let’s open the bar and have a good conversation…

I’m dying to know your all’s thoughts about the movie…

I finally saw it tonight and I’m really torn about how I feel about it.

On the one hand, it’s a good movie. Maybe even a great one, if you haven’t read the book first. (In fact, almost all of my problems result from me having read the book first, I think.)

But I left the movie pretty torn about it. And one of the things I was most frustrated about was how complete it was. What I mean is that the movie, while mostly based on truth, turns Chris Kyle’s four tours into more a test of endurance in search of this phantom, super-talented enemy sniper. On the one hand, using this device gives the movie some suspense and a thrill to it. You pull for Chris Kyle. You understand why he has to go back.

On the other, it’s not true, and war is never about such a test. (Or rarely, at best.) War at the individual ground level is about disappointment, boredom, sacrifice, pain, sweat, hurry-up-and-wait, and life-altering meaningless broken up by soul-exploding violence, which marks and scars you forever.

“American Sniper,” the movie, gets much of this right, but it sells Chris Kyle’s life short. The greater story is that, in reality, Chris Kyle went back for four tours without any of this fake meaning or suspense. It was nothing on Kyle’s part but pure sacrifice and service, over-and-over and over-and-over. Four times.

Granted, such a movie wouldn’t set box-office records, so perhaps I should just shut up. After all, the current version with its suspenseful angle is certainly telling his story in probably the largest (and broadest) way possible.

But in my mind, Chris Kyle’s story is far greater because I’m confident he learned the truth about war and its soul-ripping meaninglessness on his first tour, and he STILL went back three more times. Not to hunt some phantom sniper mentioned in only a single paragraph of the book, who Kyle never even shot, but to answer that bitch named “Duty.”

Chris Kyle knew the price of real war, and he paid it. In spades. He nearly sacrificed his marriage. He missed much of his kids’ early days. And he endured “three gunshot wounds, two helicopter crashes, six IED attacks, and numerous surgeries.”

He didn’t do that to kill some phantom sniper that was killing dozens of Marines and soldiers. He didn’t do that to set some sniper record for most kills.

He did it because he was one in ten million. Maybe one in one hundred million. And that’s the bigger story in my opinion.

Even more crazy is that the most lethal sniper in American history almost certainly would have served more tours if hadn’t departed the SEALs to save his marriage…

Chris Kyle was special, and his real life was much greater than even the incredible image portrayed in the movie.

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What are your thoughts? Am I off-base and being too critical? What did you think of the movie?

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.