The Other American Sniper

The Dallas Observer cracks me up on most days; between the Pete Delkus worship and Jim Schutze, there’s plenty to find amusing. But this excellent long piece on the failures of the VA to help mentally ill, violent veterans suffering from PTSD is compelling and horrifying reading. Key point towards the end:

Sometime this month, Castañeda will be transferred from the Comal County jail to the North Texas State Hospital for treatment; it’s unclear how long he’ll remain there. Six days after Castañeda’s verdict, a jury ruled that Eddie Ray Routh knew right from wrong when he killed Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield.

The two Texas men are in some ways mirror images of each other. Each was hospitalized numerous times for mental illness after returning from war. On February 17, in courtrooms on opposite ends of the state, both mothers testified how the VA discharged their sons in the days preceding their violent breakdowns and how they unsuccessfully urged doctors to recommit the men.

The cases diverge in other important ways. Routh killed two men; Castañeda’s two victims are his greatest advocates. A jury sent one Marine to prison for life. A judge sent the other to a mental institution.

Against that backdrop, friends and supporters have made sure to congratulate Maria on the outcome of her son’s case — treatment over prison. It’s an odd sentiment that’s hard to process, she says. “It’s sort of hard to hear…He’s mentally ill, he doesn’t want to be mentally ill and we’ve just wanted him to get proper treatment for all of these years.”

Read the whole thing. It’s worth the time.

Movies and cultural impact

The boyfriend and I have embarked on watching movies that have a lot of pop cultural significance that one of us hasn’t seen. Thus far, we’ve watched the first two Alien films and Terminator for the ones I haven’t seen and Singin’ in the Rain and Rear Window for him. Technically, I’d seen Alien already but hated it and he re-watched it with me, highlighting it’s technical brilliance while also making it much less scary. When I’d watched it the first time, the person who suggested it wanted me to be scared versus enjoying the film, so I appreciated being taken through the film as a technical item of suspense brilliance, which while I probably won’t rewatch it, I did actually see the second time around. It’s been fun coming up with a list of films for us to watch, thinking about how much cultural impact some films have had and others not so much. I think Charade is essential, but there aren’t many pop culture references to it. Rear Window, on the other hand, defines the suspense genre in many ways.

This whole thing partly started because I still haven’t seen Office Space–it’s on the list–, but we both realized that our childhood movie watching had been defined by different things. My parents loved classic film, and the brother wouldn’t go to sleep without some kind of noise, so they let him listen to WRR, the classical music station. It definitely influenced his taste; he was probably the only 10 year old I knew who loved opera. So, we watched a lot of musicals as kids. The brother loved Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, although Audrey Hepburn became his muse later on. The boyfriend grew up on 1980s action films, the ones I missed, and more bawdy comedy than I liked in my early twenties that I now find funny. (It’s amazing how your tastes change.) I like the sharing, and how it makes me appreciate different things. I also had a little too much fun mocking Linda Hamilton’s horrible 1980s hair in the first Terminator film, and the “I’ll be back” line just didn’t feel iconic in the film. Suggestions welcome, although Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is already on the list. It’s just so wrong, and yet, you just have to watch it.

How to act like a French Woman

Fashion magazines and blogs regularly feature articles on how to be a French girl. There is some ineffable allure about the French, or more specifically Parisian, girl. Something to do with long, bed hair, no makeup/makeup, and iconic fashion poses, all of which American women presumably cannot achieve because we’re too….definable, uniconic, unable to make bed hair look like sex hair? Caroline de Maigret, an ex-model turned music ex, has a new book out entitled–what else– How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are. It’s all part of our obsession with how the French seem to live the good life–eat what they want, dress impeccably–without seeming to stress about it. (Socialized government helps the not stressing part, by the way. When you’re not freaking out over health care costs, you stop obsessing about wine with a meal and its direct health benefit analysis.) At any rate, while the book is not on my to-read-list in the near future, this video which completely spoofs the French girl ethos is a good funny use of your time away from work on this grey, cold Monday. I can’t even contemplate life with out my Ugg boots (big fashion non, non) until after Thursday, when the snow doom has finished.