And Things Continue to Go Boom!

“Listen up – there’s no war that will end all wars.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

The first war in recorded history took place in Fertile Crescent in c. 2700 BCE between Sumer and Elam, two city-states in what was known as Mesopotamia. There is prehistoric evidence of earlier wars, but writing had not been invented prior to the invention of cuneiform so there is no record.  For five thousand years of recorded history, humans have been consistently good at killing each other and creating better ways of killing each other. Earlier wars were fought over resources, goods, or land. Throw in religion and ideology and one sees little has changed.

Somehow a cave man battles an Egyptian priest for the hand of a fair maiden. Alley Oop, the comic strip was founded in 1932.

From sticks and stones, to spears and swords, to sling shots to the invention of gunpowder, muskets, and cannon, galore. To Minié balls and rifled single shot rifles, to rapid fire weapons beginning with the Gatling gun and ending with…it hasn’t.

Flying machines dropping hellfire and brimstone on innocents, to the latest ultimate weapon, nuclear bombs delivered by ICBMs or cruise missiles. Every generation has its ultimate weapon. I am sure there is a new one just beyond the horizon. Setting our phasers to stun is not an option.

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
― Albert Einstein

Einstein’s quote recalled the movie “On the Beach” and the novel it was based upon, Nevil Shute’s Cold War, end of the world drama published in 1957. It had it all. Love, hate, stalwart heroes, brave and beautiful heroines, gallows humor, and the death of all mankind. There was no one left to use the sticks and stones. Only the cockroaches armed themselves.

Cover of the Shute novel

I believe a better quote might be, if in fact, there is anyone left….

“War does not determine who is right — only who is left.”
― Anonymous

Gahan Wilson ~ artist | Playboy ~ publisher

The Fifties and Sixties were rife with fear of instant incineration or an agonizing death from radiation sickness. To say the Cold War influenced my outlook on life would be like saying that the Grand Canyon was a hole of middlin’ size.

1950s/60s Bomb Shelter

Duck and cover drills, “In case of nuclear attack” alerts, nuclear escape routes, advertisements for fallout shelters, movies like “Fall-Safe” or the later, “The Day After”, and books like “On the Beach” had profound effects. And who could forget the ’62 Cuban Missile Crisis and a glut of “brush fire” wars or policing actions. I worried about “mutually assured destruction” and searched for a red star every time a large aircraft flew over my head.

Jim Davis Art. Also, published in Playboy The caption reads, “Go ahead and putt…it will be a few minutes before the shockwave gets here.” Golfers….

I was a part of a generation of school-aged kids who were sold the bill of goods that sitting under our desks with a book over our heads would somehow save us from a nuclear fireball and that it was “better to be dead than red.” Our parents and teachers swallowed the lies too.  Civics was more propaganda than learning how our government was supposed to work. Despite the movie “Dr. Strangelove” I never learned to stop worrying and love the bomb and found other reasons to distrust world leaders.

Peter Sellers as Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove

As I read the latest news from the Ukraine, watched all the pundits telling me what we should do with Russia, especially those on social media who traded their “contagious disease” credentials for “international relations” ones. Fielding nuclear threats from Russia and threats de jour from Communist China, North Korea, or Iran, I realize that history is not only repeating itself we also maybe writing its final chapters.

Rodney King’s lament rings in my head, “Can’t we all just get along?” We haven’t for any length of time in our recorded history. Why would you think we would suddenly change?

I don’t believe that the world is anymore broken than it once was. It became broken when the first tribe picked up sticks and stones and rushed to war against another tribe. The only change is our weapons are no longer sticks and stones. Lest I forget, as I listen to the Trumps, Putins, Xi Jinpings, The Ayatollah, Jong-uns, and others, it is our voices that might be the most dangerous. Words matter despite what the old saying might tell us.

The motivations are the same. Land, safety, ideology, and religion. Water will soon be a motivation if it is not already. With the world’s vast natural resources, people starve, die of thirst, die of disease because we believe it is more important to possess than to share. We would rather allow food to rot than give it away. We would rather go to war than be benefactors. Too many national leaders have the attitude of a cuckolded lover, “If I can’t have it, no one else will.”

To the politicians of the world, beware of what you wish for. We are in dangerous times, and I don’t believe duck and cover drills, or a turtle named Bert can save us.

Source: http://www.flickr.com / x-ray_delta_one

I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t add one YouTube Video. It is from another era but quite real for millions of us.

Edwin Starr’s War.

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Don Miller normally writes on more uplifting subjects. His author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1U1r59lqC_LpyqJ_duYRx-g4WH71O3bSLVbF9ql_4MFz_Pq-oy13IWkuc

His latest is “Pig Trails and Rabbit Holes”, more musings from a slightly insane Southerner.

Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies…and a Cold War Submarine, Oh My!

 

Horror movies?  It’s about sex…I knew sex would raise its ugly head…a pun maybe?  Not really.  It is about sex and other stuff too.

“A common piece of dating advice for young men years ago was to take their date to a scary movie. The tip was based on the idea that when their date got frightened, they would curl in for “protection”; thus, reinforcing a bond between the two (this is the G-Rated version of the rationale).” 1

Dateline early 1970.  We snuggled in the old Galaxie 500, popcorn, Pepsis, and Milk Duds at the ready.  Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers had made the rounds at walk-in movie theaters and several years later had been relegated to drive-ins.  It didn’t matter, the movie was cheap entertainment and presented an opportunity to spend some quality time with my date on the back row of the Newberry Drive-In.  Date?  We were destined to be married in the Summer of 1971 but were still tiptoeing around each other in early 1970.  It might have been better if we had stubbed our toes.  Our breakup was much more painful than a broken little toe.

The date was red-headed…as was Sharon Tate, the now-dead heroine of the movie.  She had a nice form as well put together…so had Sharon Tate.  As you can tell, at the time I was quite infatuated with both my date and Sharon Tate.  It was a shame Sharon had died in a horror much worse than any movie.  Shame the infatuation with my date died after the marriage.

The movie we watched was a horror-comedy…plenty of laughs from two inept vampire slayers, plenty of scares and blood-sucking from Count von Krolock and his vampire minions populating the snow and ice-covered Transylvanian castle.

The movie was mostly comedy and Sharon Tate’s cleavage, but for some reason, the opening credits grabbed our attention, a blood drop that trickled down and across, dropped, and bounced along as the title rolled.  The gothic music made our skin crawl.  We were hooked on something other than our libidos…the laughter was good…and the chills as we “curled in for protection.”

Much of my reading and viewing habits have revolved around horror, sci-fi along with murder and mayhem.  A perfect world is combining them all.  I like a good comedy but given a choice I’ll go with a murder mystery that twists and turns like switchbacks on a mountain road or horror that leaves one on the edge of your seats awaiting an electrical shock from fear…and I like the sexual innuendo thrown in for good measure.   Fade to black.

I’ve found vampires to be much more entertaining than werewolves or zombies…except for the werewolf transformation in some forgotten movie. As I remember, there was a very attractive female who suffered from lycanthropy and an aversion to clothes it would seem.  I think the movie was The Howling but I’m not sure.  She was quite fetching despite the body fur, but vampires are sexy.

The vampires of my younger day were well dressed in black tuxedoes with blood-red accouterments, were suave, had a foreign lisp and for some reason, women found them irresistible.   “Look into my eyes….”  Young females seemed to enjoy having fangs sucking on their necks.

When the heroine was penetrated, by the vampire’s fangs you guttersnipe, a look of sheer ecstasy came over her face and it was up to the boring but stalwart hero to save her and break the spell.  Save her by driving a stake through the heart of his rival before the count could exit his musty old coffin at sundown and plunge his glistening, long fangs into the soft neck of his victim.

A soft neck surrounded by expansive décolletage in Sharon Tate’s case.  Slowly feeding, rhythmically licking away her very lifeblood as the helpless young lady pants, “Oh, oh, oh!” Yep, it was about sex, but we faded to black during those days and let our minds and libidos create their own scenes.

I haven’t been a fan of the horror genre in film since the Eighties.  The violence became too graphic and the sexual innuendo and double entendres quite transparent…if there was any sexual insinuation at all.  It seems graphic violence and gore became the point.

Still, I loved John Carpenter even though just a few of his movies dealt with vampires or sexual overtones…well, there were plenty of scenes with young people trying to get busy only to be interrupted by a knife-wielding maniac.

The first two Halloween movies, The Thing and The Fog were my favorites… okay, I admit I liked the way Adrienne Barbeau filled out her flannel shirt and her voice as DJ Stevie Wayne reminded me of smooth bourbon, quite warming on a cool night…unless you lived in Antonio Bay and were attacked by whatever was inside of The Fog.

Said in a smooth and sultry voice, “But if this has been anything but a nightmare, and if we don’t wake up to find ourselves safe in our beds, it could come again. To the ships at sea who can hear my voice, look across the water, into the darkness. Look for the fog,” 

With the graphic violence of modern horror, I’ve turned more to the pages of books than the silver screen, now in bloody color.  I just don’t need to see heads exploding or bodies eviscerated, instead, I enjoy the special effects my mind creates along with the double entendres.

I’m probably not going to reread Frankenstein or Dracula; they have been read too many times.  Same with Poe’s horror stories.  I am not sure Bram Stroker even knew about the sexual innuendo he had created within his horror…whether he did or not, the sex was there…along with the horror.  Still, they got me started and sent me on to King, Koontz, Rice, and Straub.

As I think back to the scariest movie or book I ever read or saw, it was not horror per se and involved no vampires, werewolves or zombies…there was sexual innuendo in the movie, even some fade to black.  On the Beach by Neville Shute and the movie by the same title starring Gregory Peak as American submarine commander Dwight Towers and Ava Gardner as his Australian lover, Miora Davidson, scared me to death.

The plot is a simple one, nuclear war breaks out and we annihilate ourselves.  No one knows who started the war only that it, and the world is finished.  Radiation covers most of the earth except for Australia, New Zealand, and parts of South America and Africa.  Unfortunately, the last remaining pockets of humanity will slowly die of radiation poisoning as a death cloud creeps southward.  The United States is gone except for one lone submarine and her crew, now docked in Melbourne.

The end is near.  The book and movie cover the last few months left for humanity, only the cockroaches will remain.

The closing line from the book states, “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.”  In the movie’s closing, Waltzing Matilda plays against the backdrop of a submarine going home for the last time, deserted streets, homes, and arenas as a wind-blown banner is seen, its words hoping against reality, “There is still time, Brother.”

For someone growing up during the Cold War, it was scary.  For someone who, today, believes in Global Climate Change, the plea, “There is still time, Brother,” seems quite timely.  I doubt we will go whimpering, instead, we will continue to point our fingers blaming everyone else or our own demise.

The final scene begins at the 2:57 mark.

1Christopher Dwyer, Ph.D., “5 Reasons We Enjoy Being Scared”, Psychology Today, October 19,2018, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/thoughts-thinking/201810/5-reasons-we-enjoy-being-scared

All movie trailers were pilfered from YouTube.

The featured image is from https://www.surveycrest.com/blog/10-scariest-halloween-monsters/

Don Miller’s author page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Thanks!