HAPPY NEW YEAR
I had to cut the page a hair short today. Had lots more, but budgeted my time
poorly and, well, I had to publish sooner or later! Still a pretty interesting page!
Charlie Wilson's War
Good-Time Charlie Wilson was a good ol' Texas boy who spent 24 years in the
United States House of Representatives drinkin', fornicatin' and havin' fun
unapologetically. He dated beautiful women, hung around with showgirls, hired
exceptional beauties ("Charlie's Angels") to work in his office, and maintained an
Austin Powers bachelor pad complete with hot tub and omnipresent mirrors. He
didn't give a fig for political correctness and had a wicked sense of humor, so
he would call serious women "babycakes" and "jailbait" just to get a reaction. On the
other hand, he took his responsibilities on the Hill seriously and was well read
on most issues. Charlie was the old-fashioned model of a successful American:
work hard, play harder. I knew plenty of Charlie Wilsons in my 15 years with a
large Texas corporation. The old smooth-talkin' Southern boys believed that
their personal entertainment habits were irrelevant to their job performance,
except to the extent that small-minded people chose to declare the two matters
correlated. In general, that was right. There is no reason why a guy can't get
drunk and laid and also succeed in a career. In fact, the two may be positively
correlated. The single most important element which defines success in business
and politics is one's ability to get results out of other people, and the
Charlie Wilsons of the world are extremely adroit at getting along with people
of both sexes. That's what gets them elected. That's what allows them to trade
favors so smoothly. That's what gets them laid. Those same skills are
universally useful. If Charlie had been in our corporate office, he would have
fit right in, and his nickname would have been "Slick."
The CIA's Gust Avrakotos was just as colorful in his own way. A very
different way. While Charlie was polished, Gust was direct and coarse. The son
of a Greek immigrant who became a successful soft drink bottler, Gust was an
outsider in the CIA's Ivy League culture who poisoned his own career several
times with ragged insults to top-ranking officials. But Gust had something very
important going for him. He actually knew what the fuck he was doing. He had
been the valedictorian of his high school class and had graduated from college
summa cum laude. He made it a point to know what he was talking about and when
he lacked answers he found someone who had them. Unlike the many people in every
profession who come to work with an eye on the next job, Gust came to work with
an eye on doing his current job as well as it could be done. When he met Congressman Charlie
Wilson his job was Afghanistan. He was trying to figure out what the United
States could do to help the Afghan freedom fighters, a poorly-armed, untrained
collection of warriors who were trying to win a war against the unlimited
resources of the high-tech Red Army. They were being slaughtered. A million
Afghanis were killed in the war. Five million were forced to take refuge across
the border. The population of Afghanistan's second largest city, Kandahar, had
been reduced from 200,000 before the war to no more than 25,000 inhabitants,
following a months-long campaign of carpet bombing and bulldozing by the Soviets
Gust's budget to help the Afghani freedom fighters was a princely $5 million.
Many people felt compassion for the Afghanis who were killed, maimed, raped,
and forced to flee into refugee camps, but Gust and Charlie were two of the very
few men who seemed to realize that that the Afghanis might actually have a
chance to win if anyone lent them a hand. The fierce warriors were willing to
defend their land, but their big problem was that they were riding horses or
standing on the ground with AK-47s while the Russians were attacking them with
airpower and tanks. Mounting a campaign to acquire anti-tank and anti-aircraft
weaponry, Charlie and Gust managed to raise the regional budget from a few
million dollars per year to six hundred million, and they got the Gulf States to
match that amount dollar for dollar. They also managed to overcome a major
political problem. They could not just give the Afghanis a billion dollars worth
of American weapons, because that would escalate the Cold War into a real war.
In order to maintain America's deniability, the Russians had to be defeated with
Russian weapons. This dilemma required Charlie and Gust to forge an alliance
between Israelis (to provide the weapons) and Pakistanis (to deliver them into
Between the two of them, Gust and Charlie managed to pull of an anti-Soviet
miracle far greater than the one on ice. The mighty Soviets eventually lost 118
aircraft, 333 helicopters and 147 tanks. The war became so costly, financially
and psychologically, that the Soviet Union eventually pulled out entirely.
The film oversimplifies the situation. It has to in order to tell a good
story. It does not tell you that the Soviets had decided to leave long before
the events pictured in the film. It does not tell you how the Soviets really
lost personnel in Afghanistan. Over the course of the long war, they suffered
about a half million casualties:
- 14,000 killed
- 50,000 wounded
- 400,000 ill
Yes, "ill." In many ways, it was the country of Afghanistan itself, not its citizens, which
really won the war. (Ironically, that is essentially the same way that Russia
defeated its own greatest enemy, Napoleon.) The country's greatest weakness - a total lack of modern
sanitation - proved to be its greatest strength in defeating the Russians.
Altogether 620,000 Soviets served in Afghanistan, and 415,000 of them came back
with a serious disease, mostly hepatitis and typhus. Add that fact to the fact that there didn't seem to be
anything gained by being in Afghanistan in the first place, and that Gorbachev
himself hated the war even before he took power, and you will see what
completely sapped the will of the Soviet people to pursue the war.
Good-Time Charlie Wilson and coarse Gust Avrakotos didn't cause the collapse
of the Soviet Union virtually unassisted, as the movie might lead you to
believe, but they did way more than their share, so much more that their story
needed to be told. And it's a great yarn. Tom Hanks showed a tremendous amount of savvy in
acquiring the rights to this book, because it will be a long time before there
will be another real-life story this good, with an equal balance of
entertainment, edification and emotional inspiration. Colorful characters like
Charlie and Gust are increasingly becoming relics of America's rough-hewn past,
and the Soviet Union is gone, and with it the last great symbol of monolithic
evil. Charlie Wilson's War is an astounding story, and it is told with great wit and relative
accuracy. It's so funny and so interesting and so stirring that it seems to fly
by in five minutes and you won't even realize you have been educated.
Here is an interesting article on Charlie Wilson
here is the Washington Post's obit for Gust Avrakotos.
And best of all, here are some titties:
is a clip of Cyia
Batten and Hilary Angelo hot-tubbing it with Tom Hanks
No Country for Old Men
It's a ridiculously long review,
so if you are interested, read it here.
After a long and laborious process, I finally figured out how to take
screen caps from high definition discs. Unlike DVD capture, which is fully
automated by Power DVD and/or VLC Media Player, this process requires many,
many steps. Here's my first batch, from Excalibur. (For all that work, I
should have chosen a film with brighter lighting!)
Catch the deluxe
version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles,
Jess Franco directed 187 movies, if his profile on IMDb is to taken as gospel. In the 70's and 80's alone he put out 139 films under his own name and those of various aliases (IMDb credits him with more than 20 alternative names). Quite a few of his movies have been reviewed in the pages of the Funhouse and from them one can discern a theme: get of a lot of attractive women, get em nekkid, keep em nekkid (no matter how incongruous is the nekkidness) and have all sorts of bad people do bad things to them while they are nekkid. You could argue that Franco was one sick twist, except that the violence was usually bloodless and seldom gut-wrenching. My take on his style was he set out to give the public what it wanted, which to his mind was good looking women, unclothed and in peril. Not 'xactly my own cup o' tea but in this matter I seem to be in the minority.
Anywho, Frauen in Liebeslager, aka Love Camp (1977) is the distilled essence of Jess Franco's style of filmmaking. Story goes that a bunch of revolutionaries in some jungle-filled third world country abduct a bunch of women to serve as sex slaves for the fighting men on their side. They hit a brothel (good thinking there) and pick up a pair of working gals played by Monika Kaelin and Brigitte Meyer (not to be confused with the Euro-pornstar, Bridget Maier). But then, as if at random, they grab a waifish virgin played by Esther Studer and a mid-thirties bride, played by Ada Tauler. And they just have to grab the town lesbian, played by Monica Swinn. Off into the jungle they go, to a camp run by a sadistic blue-eyed blonde (Nanda Van Bergen) in the services of the revolutionary commander, who is also blonde and blue-eyed. So I am figuring these are the unexplored jungles of East Fresia. The camp commandant and the commander of the whole shebang both have eyes for Ada Tauler, so you have the girl-boy-girl triangle thing. And the lesbian gal wants to make it with the virgin. The latter resists until she is employed in the services of fat, hairy commandoes, at which point she begins to bat from the other side of the plate. Three gals escape but are caught. Two are dragged back to camp but Ada's character returns willingly because she and the commando commander have this thang goin', ya' know.
All that stuff is the maguffin for shower scenes (two of them), girl-girl scenes, girl-boy scenes, topless conversations, a catfight, a whipping scene, a topless firing squad scene (in which both the condemned and the members of the firing squad are topless) and a whole lotta running through the jungle with the hooties a-bouncin' every which way. Seventy-nine minutes of running time and I am guessing seventy of them have at least one topless or fully nekkid woman in it. This one more than sorta delivers on the promise offered by Jess Franco's name on the cover.
A few words about the actresses in this boob-fest.
- Monika Kaelin would go on to be Penthouse Pet of the month for May 1980. In the three years between her appearance in Love Camp and in the pages of Penthouse, she would slim down and take on a much more feminine appearance.
- In Love Camp, Esther Studer approached the end of a film career in which she played the fragile waif who got both nekkid and abused on a regular basis.
- Then there is Ada Tauler. IMDb has her starring in a 1959 film directed by Jess Franco that translates as We are Eighteen Years Old. Since Ada looks like a remarkably in-shape mid-thirties gal in Love Camp, logic suggests she was one of the 18-year-olds back in the '59
flick. I guess that means she might have had a serious career for a while, during which she was known as Adela Tauler. Her last three or four films, however, are pure Jess Franco exploitation movies. Love Camp would the penultimate, with only Voodoo Passion to cap her career as an actress. There is not an inch of her that escapes the light of day in this movie. She is topless or completely naked in each of her 21 scenes in Love Camp. Almost half the 79-minute running time of this movie has Ada revealing some goodies. You want topless? Check. You want full-frontal standing up? Check. You want full-frontal lying down? Double Check. You want her sport-humpin'a guy? Yep. And a gal? Oh yes. The last of her girl-girl scenes has her rolling around, on top of Nanda, who obliges by tugging on Ada's tuche to give us a nice view of her holiest of holies. Thing goes for more than a minute and Ada's rumpus is something to behold despite her mid-thirties age. Damn, I love that scene.
(Sunday's Fun House)
This is the third batch of caps and clips. Many more to follow.
Today's group just features Monika Kaelin
Here is Monika in her staple-girl days
Notes and collages
Part 3 of 3