Saturday, January 25, 2014

eBook Review: An Ace of the Eighth

Norman J. 'Bud' Fortier, An Ace of the Eighth

Product Details 

  • File Size: 1207 KB
  • Print Length: 378 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; Reissue edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUDHT8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Price: $5.99
1. Short review: (Amazon rating: 1 out of 5 stars -- It's DRM'd.)

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked: The information I've not seen elsewhere. 
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? Should be a roller coaster, but it is a walk in the park.
     If you are a hardcore air combat history fan, it is worth the money. Otherwise, buy a different book.

2.2. What I did not like: DRM. Any book that is DRM'd gets one star from me.
     As for the contents: 
     The lack of combat details. What details there are apply to strafing ground targets and pilot scheduling. Often the squadron was grounded by weather. Much of the book is taken up with not flying because of weather, hazardous flying in weather, and operational losses due to weather. Fortier did not write as much about himself or his actions as he did about his squadron mates. 
     The cover. The cover gives the reader the impression that this is a book about P-47 Jugs. It is not. It is a Mustang book.
     The cover did not come with my Kindle file. The cover I got is an ugly generic cover. 

2.3. Who I think is the audience: Hardcore air combat history fans.

2.4. Is the book appropriate for children to read? Sure, if they are hardcore air combat history fans.

2.5. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book? No.

2.6. The plot in a nutshell.

     None. This is a memoir of a P-51 Mustang pilot in WW2. Fortier wrote about training, transport to England, escorting bombers, fighting gaggles of Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs, killing Me-262s on their final approach, 7½ hour escort missions (that's a job), strafing Luftwaffe airfields deep in Germany, engine failures and landing at forward bases, trying to find an airfield when weather rolled in, other pilots ditching in the Channel and being picked up, and other pilots ditching in the North Sea and disappearing. That is most of what I expected. I also expected that Fortier would detail his own aerial combats, but I did not get that.

 2.7. Other:

     I rate the content of this book -- 3 stars; that is, It's okay. I learned that Mustangs flew looong escort missions and were based in England the entire war, that Jugs flew air-to-ground missions from forward bases, that air-to-air losses were dwarfed by losses in air-to-ground missions, that the Luftwaffe managed to put planes in the air until the end but was overwhelmed by the hundreds of American fighters that invested German skies every day. I learned that ditching in the English Channel was an inconvenience but ditching in the North Sea was a death sentence. Good stuff but not the reason I began the book.
     When you write a memoir, write about yourself, not the guy next to you. Fortier thought he was modest by writing about his squadron mates instead of himself, but he was just boring. You can't tell an adventure that someone else owns with the intensity and immediacy of an adventure that you own.
     Already I have forgotten much of the book. Some Amazon reviewers wrote that Fortier began flying escort with P-47s. I do not remember that. To me, this is a Mustang book.
     One thing that stands out in my mind is that the P-51B/C razorback model carried four guns. The wing was so narrow on the B/C model that the guns were mounted at an angle. This caused jams. The wing camber was increased on the bubble canopy D model so the guns could be mounted upright and two more guns were added. (The B/C models were identical. The B or C identified the factory. P-51Bs were built in Inglewood, California. P-51Cs were built in Dallas, Texas.)

Addendum: I searched the book, and, sure enough, Fortier did fly Jugs. But the cover picture is wrong for Fortier. By D-Day, he was flying Mustangs. (Those stripes on the Jugs in the picture are invasion stripes that were painted on for D-Day ops.)


2.8. Links: Norman J. 'Bud' Fortier

2.9. Buy the book: An Ace of the Eighth

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Movie Review: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's
1. Short review: --It made me sick.

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked:
Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, and Patricia Neal are physically attractive actors. The sets are beautiful. Moon River.

2.2. What I did not like:

     How doest thou disgust me? Let me count the ways.
     Mickey Rooney's performance of I Y Yunioshi. MR played the buffoon to give us unneeded comic relief. There is nothing so serious in the movie that we need comic relief. This is not Macbeth. MR played Yunioshi as a buck-toothed, near-sighted Japanese. What? Were there no Japanese actors in Hollywood who would take the part? Perhaps I am imposing modern morals on a fifty-year old film, but I found MR's stereotypical portrayal of a Japanese character offensive.
     Buddy Ebsen's performance of Doc Golightly. Doc was portrayed as a country hick. He was a veterinarian, for Christ's sake. I am offended with the New York attitude that anyone from anywhere but New York is a hick.
     The moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the characters. AH played Holly Golightly as an air-headed golddigger. (AH refused to portray a prostitute, so, in the film, Holly Golightly was written as what Truman Capote called 'an American geisha'. Nonsense.) Holly Golightly was paid $100 a week to visit a mafiaso in Sing Sing prison and bring back a 'weather report' to his lawyer. At a time when the working wage was $40 a week. And she could not figure out that this is a code? GP played Paul Varjack, a broke wannabe author who moonlights as a gigolo. Or a kept man.
     Their lives revolve around looking good, fashionable parties, fashionable people, and money. You could stand in the waters of this movie's intellectual depth and not get your ankles wet.
2.3. Who I think is the audience: New Yorkers in 1961.

2.4. Are the movies appropriate for children to see? No. No sex, no foul language, but behavior and lifestyles you would not want the kiddies to see.

2.5. On the basis of viewing this movie, will I pay to see the sequel? No, and thankfully there wasn't one.

2.6. Rating and the plot in a nutshell:

2.6.1. How I rate movies:
-- It made me sick.<-- Breakfast at Tiffany's
-- I want my money back.
-- Worth a rental, not more.
-- Worth first-run theater price once.
-- I will pay first-run theater price to see it again. 

Running time: 115 minutes.

2.6.2. The plot.

2.7. Other:

     The movie is 'loosely' based on the Truman Capote novella of the same name.

     A year maybe three ago, I thought about the movie The Professional. Offered up a little prayer to see it again. Well, lo and behold, soon thereafter I found it on cable. Dubbed in French. Heh. Joke was on me. 

     I never saw Breakfast at Tiffany's, so I prayed to see it. This prayer I crafted more precisely. Lo and behold, this week I found the movie on cable. Very pretty people wearing very pretty clothes while they run through very pretty scenery. And all the while their souls are rotten.
     Yeah, I know George Axelrod wrote a feel-good, marshmallow ending for the movie that is nothing like Capote's ending.  His kissy-face ending did not save the story for me.
     The devil in a little black dress is still the devil.

     Look, sin is attractive. If it were ugly, we would not do it. Sin looks good, smells good, tastes good, feels good. But step by step, sin reduces your options until you have no choices left and you are a prisoner of sin. 

     Breakfast at Tiffany's is the New York City version of what happened to Eliza Doolittle after My Fair Lady. (Even the trailer nauseates me. How can anyone think these characters are attractive?)

     Now I pray to see Shenandoah. Perhaps this time I shall get it right.


2.8. Links:
IMDb review, Rotten Tomatoes review