Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Cruise Videos

Deployment and cruise videos have probably been around for nearly as long as video cameras have been in existence. Using the search term "Navy Cruise Video" on YouTube brings up over 240 thousand results. Modifying that to add in or replace it with a squadron moniker or designation seems to increase the results almost exponentially.  I could sit for hours at my computer watching these clips, and often have.

None of the squadrons I served in seem to be among those results, most likely because my time there preceded either DVDs or YouTube. In the case of my VS-21 tour in Japan, those recordings were all on VHS and it's not likely they've fared well over the years, if they still exist at all.  During my time in VS-29, we had a J.O. who was a film major who made some impressive movies for us. In both squadrons, our videos were usually in lieu of a Foc'sul Follies skit, or as a presentation at our annual Viking Ball.  As you have seen on these pages in the past, the videos usually poke fun at life onboard, squadron, air wing or shipboard leadership, or just show some great airplane scenery up in the clouds.

The production value of those early videos was somewhat lacking compared to what is being put together today, but the funniest one I ever saw was a simple one produced by the Intruder guys from VA-115.  I wish it was available for posting here, but alas, what happened in CVW-5 must stay in CVW-5, not because of some pact we made, but because most of those videos are probably lost to time.  You’ll have to use your imagination, but I’ll give you the storyline. 

The “Big XO” as the Ship’s XO is called, so as not to be confused with individual squadron XOs, has the unfortunate duty of acting as the” Assistant Principal” on the boat.  Among other duties, he has to concern himself with general cleanliness of the ship (Cleaning Stations or XO’s Happy Hour as they are referred to..."All Hands Man Your Cleaning Stations!"), Zone Inspections, frequent and well-attended XO’s Mast (Non-Judicial Punishment), and in the case of this video, reducing foot traffic through the Ship’s “Blue-Tile” area.  The Goat-Locker has the following definition for this section of the ship.

Blue Tile: An area of the carrier on the starboard main passageway, O-3 level, where the Battle Group (now called Carrier Strike Group) admiral and his staff live and work. As the name implies, the deck is indeed blue there. Passing through, especially by junior enlisted sailors, is highly discouraged. During wartime, armed guards may be posted on both sides of the blue tile. Pictures of bare-assed drunken aviators standing on the blue tile during port calls are highly prized keepsakes.

Blue Tile

If this is the blue tile you were thinking of, think again
More like this tile (look close)
By the way- the Goat Locker is a vast resource of salty material and Navy knowledge, including a very thorough list of Navy slang including such gems as BOCOD, DILLIGAF and Padooma, which I'll let you enlighten yourselves with.

That definition of blue tile provides some foreshadowing as to the content of the video.  On the USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62), the blue-tile included an athwart ship passageway (p-way) that was constantly used by air wing personnel and ship’s company because it was the only way to avoid the majority of Flag spaces without backtracking a hundred frames or so to the previous athwart ship p-way.

Policing of that area seemed to ebb and flow, with both sailors and squadron guys (no gals in the Navy’s Foreign Legion) pushing the limits on the XO’s patience until word went out to stop using the blue-tile ( at least for a while in our opinion).  Getting caught by the XO might result in a polite warning (not a big deal), a stern reprimand (yeah, whatever), or a call to your ready room where the CO would be told of your infraction (not good, but not that bad either).  The CO or the XO would sternly repeat the “regulation” and would in turn receive a rolling of the eyes from the offending officer.   

The Eagles of VA-115 chose to pile-on to the plethora of punches the Big-XO usually took at Foc’sul Follies with a video recreating his blue-tile patrol.  After showing their squadron XO reprimand the wardroom for p-way violations and plead with the men to stop (and get pummeled with dozens of crumpled paper balls), they showed an officer resembling the XO poke his head out of a hatch in that p-way, look back and forth by spinning his head, then pop back into the space.   Then an Officer would cross through the p-way.  Through some creative editing, the XO’s head would then immediately poke back out of another hatch further down the p-way and repeat the scan.  This occurred a couple times with the XO then stepping out into the p-way, looking around, scratching his head and shrugging, then disappearing inside again.  The punch line came with 30 Eagles running away from the camera down the p-way absolutely buck-naked, with the XO’s head again poking back out of another hatch just as soon as the last man turned the corner.  After the "credits" listing the names and call-signs for the squadron ran up the screen, there was an extra scene featuring a final Eagle crewman getting caught by the XO, while wearing only his boots, G-Suit, and survival vest.  The Admiral fell out of his seat he was laughing so hard.  Naked can be pretty darn funny.

As for cruise videos in general, one could hazard a guess that their numbers have increased tenfold over the past decade (or two) with the availability of inexpensive high resolution personal camcorders and the simplicity of video editing software.

In Naval Aviation, the rule for most anything is faster or funnier.  If you aren't funny- make it fast and get off the stage.  If you're funny, you'll get a little more leeway.  Most follies vids were 3-5 minutes long, lest your squadron get booed if your production wasn't funny enough.  

This is an example of a decently humorous follies video- a take off on the "My Name Is Earl" TV show from a few years back.

 Some squadrons add music to their videos.  If you want to talk about outstanding production effort, this one is phenomenal.

One huge technological advancement to the realm of cruise videos is the GoPro camera.  (WARNING: Narcissism Alert) This next vid is an unbelievable 33 minutes long!  The VFA-102 Diamondbacks would have DEFINITELY been booed off the stage, if not the ship, had they tried to use this during a follies.  In all fairness, it was almost surely made from dozens of other clips taken throughout a deployment, to be added to a DVD given to squadron members and sold at Air Shows, and never intended for a follies.

Like many cruise videos, this one lists the callsigns of each Pilot and NFO and includes the longest call-sign I've ever come across:  Lt Dan "HUMUHUMUNUKUNUKUAPUA'A" Kinjo!

There is a shorter version of their video here.

I'll give a little shout-out to the Air Force and the 44th Fighter Squadron as well.  I believe this video has been featured here before, but if not, sit back and enjoy the Go-Pro goodness. (HD version here)

However, on the flip-side, this one is just gawd-awful:

But there is still hope for the Boys in Blue:

Finally, I'll leave you with one put together for the annual east coast Strike Fighter Ball 2013.  Another long one, but with humor, production value, and great flight footage: (Flash required)

Get some popcorn, sit down and enjoy the show!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Enjoying Myself I Am


I see that Tuna has been keeping you all entertained.

Well done Tuna.

Just wanted to throw a quick post out here before the year is over.

It's been a fun year, stats are up, quite a few new members and I'm seeing new folks starting to comment. Just what I had hoped for.

Still in Michigan. Eating too much, drinking more than I usually do. (Don't panic, that just means one or two glasses of beer a day, as opposed to one or two glasses of beer per month.) Watching a lot of football, having fun with the kids, the granddaughter and Big Time's family. Great folks.

Tomorrow is the Nuke's birthday and New Year's Eve. I will no doubt be busy. So until I get back to Little Rhody, read those folks linked over there on the side bar and whatever Tuna might post. He has some excellent stuff in the pipeline.

Until next time...
Happy New Year!

From Papa Big Time's laptop...
In lovely Brownstown, MI...
The Old AF Sarge sends.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sunday's Timewaster

I'm borrowing from an occasional reader's blog for the title of today's post, but I can't come up with anything better right now.  I was digging through my pictures for another post while our host is away and came across some stuff I've collected over the years.  Some are funny, some are just interesting, but I figured I'd share with you all to provide a way for you to kill time on this Sunday after Christmas.

This one is from back in 2004 after the Boston Red Sox had won the World Series breaking the curse of the Bambino. I thought of Sarge when I found it since he's from Ol' Roady.  Whether or not you like the Red Sox, the video is pretty funny and can be appreciated by all.

This is a commercial for the Ford Ka- and that's not me trying to use a Boston accent (I pahked the cah in Havahd Yahd), it's called the "Ka."  This one makes me chuckle as do those videos of squirrels being flung off of decks, or Randy Johnson throwing that pitch and making a bird explode (have fun Googling those).

Speaking of Boston, It's still pretty cold and icy all over the northern US so this video is somewhat relevant.  Not that I'm gloating over the 70's and 80's I've had out here in Sandy Eggo, but...ok, so I am gloating.  Enjoy the video anyway.

This next one works for a couple of reasons.  Fishing is a nice thing to do on a lazy Sunday, and it'll definitely kill some time if you're so inclined, but what I really like about the video is that it features a PBY Catalina, one of my favorite planes.  I think it's from the movie "Always" but I'm not sure where I got it.

Speaking of airplanes, it's always a theme 'round these parts. The next two are examples of really bad landings.

Beer commercials are some of the funniest on earth.  The advertising budgets must be huge as was the production for this next video- advertising a beer I've had once or twice- Carlton Draught.

Enjoy that?  Here's another funny one, but one with a much simpler production.

So that's enough for now.  Let me know what you think and I'll consider a part 2 to this post.

Potent Potables

Sarge's post about making it Home Again- Briefly got me in the holiday spirit, literally and figuratively, with regards to Egg Nog with a healthy touch of bourbon.  As I thought about pouring myself one, I sat down here at the computer and realized that the makings of not only a great drink, but a fun post was somewhere in the works.

Sure, there are a few potent potables that can be mixed with egg nog- Rum, Brandy, Bourbon or other types of Whiskey are the typical ones, but I'd like to know your tastes.  What is your favorite, and what kind (or brand) of booze do you prefer to add to it?  Now that's not a request for recipes, this ain't food.com after all, so keep it simple.  Now this is supposed to be an interactive post- you lurkers out there, as well as the regulars, need to comment to get full credit.

I read that some folks even put cognac and rum into theirs, or even some Creme de Cacao.  Kahlua seems like a great additive, as does some Baileys, but I can't say I've tried. Let me know what you put in your nog. Spiced Rum?  Light or dark?  What brand of bourbon?

Not sure what recipe was being made here.  Can't forget the nutmeg though!
The choice of Sailors?  Or just ones named Jerry?
Or do you like the pre-spiked stuff?  As I walked through the package store (Class-6 for you Army and Air Force types), I noticed several brands of pre-mixed nog, with bourbon and brandy primarily.  I've tried Mr Boston's creamy egg nog, but wasn't that impressed.

That's a bourbon bottle- somebody likes a little eggnog in their booze.
This bottle is half empty.  It's 5 o'clock somewhere.

Let's take that a bit further.  Whether or not you put it in eggnog, what type of whiskey do you prefer?  I guess that pick-list could include any of the following-

Different country types- American, Canadian, Scotch, being the primary ones
Different blends- Single or Blended, Malted or Grain
Or just the basics- Rye, Bourbon, or Scotch.
How do you like it?  Neat, with water, on the rocks?  Mixed with something- soda or ginger ale?

Some Chivas with some soda is what my mom preferred, although wine was more her usual choice.  My dad liked bourbon and a splash of ginger ale.

Sarge likes this one.

I ask because my own interest in the hard stuff is fairly new.  No, I didn't just convert from Mormonism, or recently shed the Baptist faith (I was in the Navy after all, Naval Aviation at that).  It's just that in the service, I tended to be a fairly benign beer drinker, Corona (the SoCal choice), Michelob (my dad's beer), or whatever the club served, and that was about it.  I was a social drinker- whatever everyone else was having or whatever was on tap was my choice.  Sure, I'd have the occasional concoction made with hard liquor- a whiskey sour if you will, or the social shot of tequila.  Maybe even a kamikaze if some squadron-mates were so inclined.

The dreaded Kamikaze...Don't drink more than one...trust me.

But my experience and taste for the harder stuff was fairly limited.  Now that I'm older, with a bit more disposable income, and the convenience of doing the majority of my drinking at home with no need to drive afterwards, I've delved into the hard stuff a bit more.  Fortunately, I never had the demons or the inclination to drink more or drink harder.

I'm not much of a member- more of a bench warmer.

My lineage is Irish, (Feeney and Nolan being the family names), so I can drink and carry a tune as the joke goes.  Blossfield (or Blossfeldt) is the paternal Grandfather's name, German I'm told, but his mother was Irish.  Not that any of this has to do with anything, but the demons and inclination were strong with this one, and he's not the last in the line unfortunately.  As I said though, luckily I avoided that gene or disposition, so I feel I can dive a bit deeper into the finer mixological arts without a concern about getting too deep.

Several years back a friend lined up three whiskey tumblers for my own taste test, my first time drinking whiskey straight.  He poured a bit of scotch in each- a 10 year, 12 year and a 20 year blue label.  I thought the 10 year was ok, the 12 was better, but the 20 year was so much smoother, darker, and thicker than the others that they might has well have been mouthwash compared to the blue label.

I have tended to favor Johnnie Walker, mainly due to that taste test, and also from a trip to Sasebo back in 2009.  As I walked through the Narita Airport in Tokyo to transfer to the Sasebo flight, one of the duty-free stores had a girl offering samples of their various bottles, including JW Blue.  She asked if I'd like one and of course, I said yes.  After I finished it with a smile, she asked if I'd like another!  Silly question.  In that short time, I had probably over $50 U.S. worth of that liquid gold, and it didn't cost me a thing.

If one needs another reason to consider Johnnie Walker Scotch, I offer the following:

I really like this version of Johnny Walker "Red."  Good alcohol and red-heads tend to make men mad.  See what I did there?  Guffaw.

The Blue Label is wonderful, but prohibitively expensive to be a drink one has regularly.  I did splurge on a bottle a few years back while on a cruise, which offered some great prices.  I opened it the day UBL was killed, which was a good way to celebrate, and had another at a less happy time back in 2012 as part of a virtual memorial which some of you probably took part in.

If you're not familiar with the webpage shown on my laptop above, I refer you to the picture of the distinguished gentleman standing in front of a jet on the right margin of this page (and no, not the one in the "Staff" section).

I know I wasn't partaking in the traditional drink (For Strength!), but I don't think Lex would have minded.

That leads me back to the original question today- what do you put in Eggnog?  I don't care how much you like Lex, or Guinness, the mix below just sounds nasty:

Let me get back off-track though.  My brother-in-law introduced me to this brand of bourbon during the holidays last year.  Not a bad one at all.  Good sippin' whiskey I must say.

Now that I've gotten your attention with either Christina Hendricks or Guinness, I'll ask you about your favorite beer types.  I don't dislike Guinness, but I'm more of a Pilsner drinker than a Stout guy.  However, on a business trip to Bavaria back in 2005 (Grafenwohr and Vilseck for you Army types), I really grew to enjoy Hefeweizen.  Some find it too thick and they don't like the heavy wheat taste so I offer you the best beer in the world:

That's a filtered Hefeweizen, or Kristall Weissen.  It doesn't have the heavy wheat, but the taste is still there, and it's a very crisp flavor.  You can find it at some specialty beer shops, or BevMo out here on the left coast.  Erdinger and Weihenstephaner are the brands I've found here, but there are many in Germany.

My statement regarding the best beer is highly subjective of course.  Best beer in my world though.  What do you like and why?  Most of my choices have to do with something I've experienced- my dad's beer, my mom's mix, my trip to Japan, etc.  Are there reasons besides taste that influence your choice in potent potables?

To sum up- let us know what you drink and how you drink it.  What kind of booze, beer, or even wine, which we didn't get to in today's lesson.  Now class, remember, to get full points for class participation, you need to comment.  There are no wrong answers- just enlighten and inform us all.

Sarge is out for a few days and his posts should be limited since he's busy with more important things (like family!)  So as Lex would say- "Talk amongst yourselves."  I offered a topic so it's over to you... (and 5 points of extra credit to the first to know what the title references).

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Friday Flyby - 27 December

8-Reindeer Powered Aerial Gift Hauler, Mark IV, Mod 3
(8RPAGH, MkIV, Mod 3)
As I only have a little time before we wing our way to Detroit (in an aircraft, not a sleigh) I thought a bit of whimsy for the Friday Flyby might be in order. After all, 'tis the season.

Technical details on Santa's sleigh are available here. (It never ceases to amaze me what one can find on the web of world-wideness.)

That Tomcat had no chance. No chance I tell you!
Many attempts have been made to copy Santa Tech
(With limited success...)

Propulsion Units for the 8RPAGH, MkIV, Mod 3
Reindeer, Mark I, Mod 0
Though the 4-Reindeer Powered Aerial Gift Hauler, Mark I, Mod 1
had an impressive sand dune capability, it was considered underpowered for
world wide coverage on Christmas Eve.

The 6-Reindeer Powered Aerial Gift Hauler, Mark II, Mod 0.
Though it had impressive handling characteristics and superior

short field capabilities, the 6RPAGH, MkII Mod 0 was still too
underpowered to perform the mission in the specified time period.

The Latest Fielded Version: the 9RPAGH, MkV Mod 0.
Features more power and speed and very impressive limited visibility capabilities
using the Randomizing Ultraviolet Density Optimizing Light Flasher, or RUDOLF.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it...

Wishing you all the best of the season!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Home Again - Briefly

Route 12 South, Somewhere in New Hampshire
Boxing Day, 2013
So the trip to my Mom's house on Christmas Eve was uneventful. The skies were fairly clear, a little overcast here and there, but generally clear and dry. Yes, no precipitation fell on the 24th of December.

The further north we went, the colder it got. Back in the woods one could see evidence of the snow which had fallen on a couple of occasions earlier in the month. Quite honestly, I'm used to seeing a lot more snow in the northern reaches of Massachusetts and in the southern bits of western New Hampshire. But the winter is still young. There is plenty of time for the heavy snowfalls to sweep through this area.

But the little kid in me wanted to see snow. Lots of snow. Just not on the road. But on the trees, in the fields and the like.

At my Mom's house there was some snow, maybe three to four inches of old snow. But there were patches of bare grass, so the dream of a white Christmas was out the window.

But as I have related in the past, some snow can be nice. But ya need to be careful what you ask for!

Christmas itself was grand.

Mom, her two cats, Your's Truly, The Missus Herself, The Olde Vermonter, Missus Olde Vermonter (and I need to come up with a different nom de blog for her, she's "not comfortable" with having a moniker containing the word "olde" or any variant thereof, can't say I blame her), The Young Vermonter, City Girl and (of course) The Musician. Up from Boston for the occasion he was.

Much excellent food was consumed and of beverages there were many.

Now on Christmas Eve, I discovered a new found love for egg nog, especially when mixed with this -

The Musician brought a bottle of that nectar with him. He also brought a six-pack of this (which of course we sampled on Christmas Eve) -

Very nice I found this beverage. Now behind that bottle up top it says the following -

And yes, I do expect more from my beer!

Now the Christmas Day beverages consisted of more egg nog, plus the following selection which I had brought up from Little Rhody -

A Favorite!

The Sarge's Personal Favorite

Commented Favorably Upon

We never got to this one.

Of course it wasn't all booze and beer. We had numerous dishes.

Turkey, ham, meatballs, yams, broccoli and cheese casserole, stuffed celery, deviled eggs and a dish which I'd never had before - 


Tourtière is a meat pie originating from Lower Canada, usually made with finely diced pork and/or veal, or beef. Wild game is often added to enhance the taste of the pie.
I simply loved it! Perhaps it's my sang Québécois but never having tried it before, I loved it at first bite. Delicious and...

Oh my gosh, that's it! No more Missus Olde Vermonter, no. Henceforth, the wife of The Olde Vermonter shall be known as Madame Tourtière! Vive la Tourtière!

Watched some TV in the evening after The Olde Vermonter and his tribe headed home to the ancestral dwelling. Letting the food and beverages settle. (For those who might be wondering, there was also pie, made by my Mother, therefore delicious. There was apple and there was chocolate. If my family had a coat of arms, it would include chocolate. Somehow.)

Whilst watching various and sundry Christmas specials and news broadcasts, saw that the weather for Boxing Day was calling for snow. The white stuff. The day after Christmas! C'est dommage, quelle honte! And of course, Boxing Day we were traveling!

(What's that? What's Boxing Day? Well, you can read my Boxing Day post from last year. I think I explained it rather well.)

Sure enough, at around 1000 hours (local, 1700 GMT) it started snowing. We loaded up and headed out, as did The Musician. The further south we went (once we cleared the high country north of Keene) the less snow we saw. OTOH, The Musician had to abort. The path he took was nearly due east, he saw three, yes three, accidents before traveling ten miles from my Mother's house. He turned back.

When we were safely home in Little Rhody, we called Mom to let her know we had trapped safely aboard USS OAFS. She informed us that The Musician did actually get back on the road. About three hours later than his scheduled departure. Seems the snow had let up, the roads were plowed, the planets were aligned, etc., etc.

So we get to catch our breath and then launch again tomorrow. For it is off to Michigan for to visit with Big Time and his tribe. (Of course, The WSO and Little Bit will be there. As will The Nuke.) I anticipate a grand time.

So blogging may be light.

Of course, I said that it might be light over the Christmas holiday. And Tuna stepped up to the plate and delivered some quality material. So maybe he'll do that again.

We shall see.

As for all of you out there in the blogoverse, I hope you all had a joyous and wondrous Christmas with family and friends. Enjoy the remainder of 2013. I shall return...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Red Nomex Aviator

On the night before Christmas my ship was at sea,
A big flat-top "bird farm" from the land of the free.
Cruising the ocean at "the tip of the spear",
So everyone home could sleep sound with no fear.
Flight ops had ended hours ago,
The day crew had turned in and gone down below.
Night crew was doin' their maintenance checks,
The aircrews and pilots were gettin' some rest.
The cooks in the galley were fixin' Mid-rat's,
The Air Boss and Cap'n could finally relax.
CIC called up said something's inbound,
Prob'ly the mail plane, a C-2 Greyhound.
Stand clear of the foul-line, one to recover,
"Angel" is airborne, to starboard he'll hover.
Spotters see only one red blinkin' light,
No markers on wing-tips, now somethin' ain't right.
All eyes are watching but no one believes,
What comes o'er the round-down, bold as you please.
Nine deer and a sleigh, no tail-hook or tires,
How does Paddles grade a trap with no wire?
A red Nomex flight-suit, of course gloves that match,
And S. Claus printed on his aviator patch.
Why, it's old Santa Claus wearin' goggles and leather,
With bags full of Christmas cards, presents and letters.
Don't stand there gawkin', froze in your tracks,
Give him a hand with unloadin' those sacks.
The bags are all carried to the mail room below,
And after a pre-flight, Santa's ready to go.
The cat-crew is wondering now which hold-back pin?
Santa just laughs then he's airborne again.
We didn't hear jingling bells from his sleigh,
Ol' Santa was whistling Anchors Aweigh.
Off the angle-deck, over wave-caps of white,
Even without afterburners he's soon out of sight.
We all stood there doubting what we had just seen,
But the deer left a present, smelly and green.
Over the side with all the deer turds,
Don't want them things fod'in one of our birds.
Tho' that night happened many long years ago,
Santa still travels to our ships on the foam.
(H/T to the Goat Locker).

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Airy Merry Christmas

The picture of the S-3B with Santa splattered on the nose probably wasn't an original idea.  When searching the interwebs and my own collection for the various Viking pics the other day, I came across the following similarly themed paint-job:

But that got me to thinking about a bunch of Christmas Cards I had found several years back.  I don't remember where I picked them up, and I haven't seen them in stores since, but I guess you can get them from Stonehousecollection.com.  They were a big hit with my Navy buddies, several of whom had left Naval service for the big leagues, but everyone appreciated the theme.  They're fun, aviation-relevant, and even more to my style- a bit irreverent.  Be advised, no animals or elves were harmed in the making of these cards (or this post).  Here you go:

Those are the ones I remember from the pack, but I found a couple others:

And the most irreverent picture I found isn't from the card collection at all, but it is kind of cool. 

Parents are urged to be cautious as the picture contains some material that parents might consider inappropriate for children under 13 years.

Santa-BREAK RIGHT- CHAFF- FLARES!  Hope you make it.