A bouquet of September 11 Book Quotes on the 20th Anniversary Commemoration of the 11 September terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, because this was a tragedy that pulled our world apart, and brought us all together. 9/11 #NeverForget
Taliban, the history of Afghanistan and its people, read a book extract from my novel Silent Heroes, FREE to download from Amazon on the 19th and 20th of August, today and tomorrow.
Silent Heroes extract:
‘Maybe this story will help us better understand what the Afghan people went through.
‘Alexander the Great, the Muslim Arabs in the 12th century, the Mongols in the 13th century and then the British and the Russians who had a century-long dispute, ‘The Great Game’, over this territory, they all came here to lose battles and their soldiers’ lives. ‘The Great Game’ was a century-old political and diplomatic confrontation between two Empires, the British and the Russian. They fought over this area of land we stand on, Afghanistan, and its neighbouring territories in Central Asia, the Middle East, and South-East Asia. Russia was scared that Britain will gain power over Asia, while Britain was scared that Russia had its eye set on India, ‘the jewel of the crown’, to say the least. And all of this happened because of Afghanistan’s geo-political location at the gateway between Asia and Europe.’
A chair’s scraping against the floor sounded like a bird’s distant cry. ‘Geez, Geography lesson!, someone said, followed closely by a thud.
‘The tug of war between the British and Russian Empires over dominance in Asia was marked by three Anglo-Afghan wars. During this century of fighting Afghanistan’s borders were adjusted and readjusted by the two empires with little or no consultation with Afghan rulers. Yet the British forces were not able to conquer Afghanistan. So after the 3rd Anglo-Afghan War, in 1921, Afghanistan finally gained its independence and became a monarchy for about fifty years… Although Afghanistan had had its first taste of a totalitarian ruler during the 18th century when Ahmand Shah, a Durrani chieftain, established the Afghan state. By clever use of diplomacy and violence, managing and manipulating a web of powerful tribal fractions, Ahmand Shah brought together territories previously divided among autonomous provinces. But his system was not self-sustaining and after his death the tribal fractions he reunited fought for power in what was to become a centuries-long kaleidoscope of betrayal.’
A whisper at the back, ‘it’s History,’ was quickly hushed by another thud.
‘More Afghan leaders came and went. Some managed to do more for the country than the others. Take ‘The Iron Amir’, Abdurrahman Khan, who ruled through intimidation and repression and relied on an intricate network of spies. During his time the army evolved from an amalgam of tribal militias to a reliable, permanent fighting force. The Iron Amir also improved the educational system; he introduced a basic communication system and a single currency. Three generations of his family followed him to the throne of Afghanistan. His son even kept the country neutral during World War I, demanding international recognition of Afghanistan’s full independence. This stirred the British interest again but it was the Iron Amir’s grandson, Amanullah Khan, who had to deal with the third British-Afghan War. Surprisingly a treaty was signed, Britain recognising Afghanistan’s independence. Amanullah had big plans of turning Afghanistan into a modern state, making education a top priority and planning major reforms. He even drew the country’s first national budget in 1922 but did so at the expense of its army. It was the first time an Afghan leader tried to change the traditional values and practices. Amanullah made decrees in respect to women’s rights and he abolished slavery and child labour. But the very thing that defined him soon turned against him. The tribal and religious forces wanted to maintain the traditions as it helped them dominate the political landscape.
‘This is the thorn in the road that was often overlooked by Afghan leaders and even by outside political forces: the unique relationship between the country’s fourteen recognized ethnic groups and its various tribes. During Amanullah’s reign, the various tribes eventually joined forces to oppose his line of reforms and since he had neglected his army he could not ensure order and stability inside his new independent state and so he was soon forced to abdicate.’
‘You say that no army, but good progress is worse than having a well-trained army and little progress?’ said Kent.
‘In this case, yes. The local traditional powers are ruled by what they call ‘strongmen’, leaders who rule by force and abuse, often showing little regard to human rights and are set in their traditions.
‘More kings came and went while other things brewed in the background of this political turmoil and by 1973 the Afghan Communist Party had emerged and, through a communist coup, Daoud came to power. Again, at odds with the Afghan tribal and cultural traditions. The PDPA, People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, had plans of ambitious reforms, modern ones. They had foreseen dramatic changes to marriage rights and agricultural practices and planned a system of universal education and even a change in the role of women. This was perceived as ‘atheistic meddling in key Islam rituals’ and led to localized protests and then a national uprising.
‘The PDPA had ascended through army power, but it disintegrated through insubordination, desertion, and purges. The rejection of the communist regime by the Afghan people was universal and one of the most truly popular revolts of the 20th century. The Afghans perceived the Soviets who took over as a force that systematically planned to alienate every segment of their lives.
‘Similar to the British before them, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979 planning to remain there for only six months, enough to take control of major centres and appoint a ruler. They stayed for ten years. This is why the CIA had time to plan its support and fund the Muhajideen rebels (or strugglers, or those engaged in Jihad) and armed them to fight against the Russians.’
‘So we had another situation of tug of war between two empires? Kind of not matter which large empire you are, as soon as you approach Afghanistan you are bound to bump into another country’s attempts to expert their own influence in the region?’ said Dunn.
‘After the Soviets began their interference in Afghanistan things began spinning out of proportion and it all went downhill in a mix of tribal laws and religious fanaticism. The Mujahadeen rebels, in control of rural areas, were united against the Soviet invaders and the USSR-backed Afghan Army that was holding the urban areas. Even after the Soviet withdrawal the Mujahadeen still continued their resistance against the communist regime left behind. And what happens, again? Different warlords emerge again, fighting against each other for supremacy over Afghanistan and carving out their own kingdoms of autonomous ruling waving Islam around as their lethal weapon. Newly formed Islamic militia, the Taliban, rises to power as a social and religious answer promising peace left and right so most Afghans, exhausted by years of war and famine, approve of the Taliban, blinded by its upholding of traditional Islamic values and by its promise to restore security in the country and eradicate corruption. But one step forward sometimes means two steps back. Or more. The Taliban enforces Islamic law through public executions and amputations. Soon after, the United States refuses to recognize the authority of the Taliban. And Afghanistan is faced with yet another internal armed struggle, an even darker one. The Taliban fighting for supremacy, allied with the al-Qaeda movement whose sole purpose was to continue their jihad, or holy war, against all those who oppose their goal of a pure nation governed by Islam.
‘Today, the Afghan army is in a feeble state, a hotchpotch of casualties and desertions. They are bleeding the few men they do have left. Any Afghan capable of holding a weapon, even older boys, are expected to join its ranks, here in Helmand more than in any other province. But they are terrified that they will be killed during the first intense fight or that their families left behind without their protection will be raped and tortured by the Taliban because they have joined the coalition army.
‘We are these villagers’ last hope. We can make a difference in their lives. War doesn’t have to be a reality for them anymore.
‘There are no Christian and Muslims here, but Christian people and Muslim people, real people whose lives are endangered every day. People whose daily life is tinted by the horror of knowing that they, or their loved ones, might be killed at any moment. We, too, can be killed, but this is our job so that our own people, back home, don’t have to go through their lives in fear of being shot at. (…)
Kent’s voice stopped everyone in their tracks.
‘Sources from these villages were saying that there is a body of Talibans who desire to be part of this country’s future. What are the chances that this is that very group and here we are, planning on annihilating them?’
‘Sources, Sergeant Kent?’
‘One of the guides we used the other day,’ said Kent, unfazed.
‘Guides are like a double-edged sword, Kent. And this is the reality about most Afghan soldiers. Yes, we are being communicated that Afghans officials are talking more about peace than they are talking about fighting their way to victory especially since not all the Taliban groups are involved in the fight anymore.
‘It seems that some Taliban groups do talk about peace. I haven’t met any. It is the Coalitions’ job to bridge the gap between the two sides, Taliban and Afghan leaders. But don’t you think, Kent, if the Taliban group who attacked the village yesterday had finished their fight, they wouldn’t have gone about killing innocent women and planting more IEDs?’
‘So what do you say, Captain?’
‘I say that some Talibans might be talking about peace or this may just be a rumour meant to get us to lower our guard. I say that some Afghans do want peace, especially some of the warlords, while other warlords are still thirsty for power and are not done carving themselves a slice of Afghanistan that’s big enough. I say that the CIA has abused the ‘warlord strategy’ and it is now coming back to bite us.
‘It has been part of the CIA’s strategy to portray the Afghanistan warlords as liberators and unifiers. Backed by the CIA, some warlords grew a strong army and challenged their rival tribes taking wrongful control over vast territories, promising that in return for monetary bribes they will help the CIA to locate al-Qaeda leaders. So these warlords’ power grew, their militia was recognised as a pro-U.S. ground force that often substituted the U.S. soldiers and even the ANA, Afghan National Army, in some areas. These warlords became now an integrated part of the country’s security apparatus. But the CIA had not made a distinction between any of the warlords it employed and this strategic mistake is something we pay for nowadays as, although some warlords have proved to be a stabilising power and I have met one once, Commander al Vizer, other warlords have proved able to undermine the Alliance’s security. These are the warlords showing rapacious behaviours. Through their powerful ambitions and selfish actions, through their hunger for power and self-interest foundation of their actions, through their corruption and violent nature, they have managed to strengthen the Taliban-led insurgency and engage themselves in torture and drug production. These warlords rule through force and fear, they are mere gangsters. And many of these undermining warlords have made fraudulent claims regarding the location of many Taliban fighters; many have fed the CIA false information that suited their own ends. Khan Zadran is known to have successfully called in airstrikes on rival tribal authorities and to have terrorized Afghan villages under false pretences that they were Taliban targets. (…)
The men left the briefing room quietly and geared up, only the call to the first daily prayer, the Fajr, echoing from the nearby settlement, at odds with the country’s centuries-old war state.
Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.
A group of U.S. Marines and their MWD, Military Working Dogs, are the last chance of survival for a small group of Afghan people, the survivals of a city of ten thousand inhabitants. The U.S. Marines fight with bravery to protect the civilians of Nauzad and to fend off the Taliban at Qala-e-Bost, thus protecting Bost Airport, a vital strategic point for the Allies. Faced with questions about the necessity of the war, with the trauma of losing their platoon-mates and the emotional scars of battle, the US Marines race against time in one last battle of eradicating the Taliban before it is too late.
Silent Heroes is a work of fiction about everyday people, soldiers and dogs caught in war, a read filled with action, thrill and emotional twists and turns.
More on my blog, on Taliban, the history of Afghanistan and its people, and my book Silent Heroes:
Rafik’s journey in Silent Heroes: the Hindu Kush Mountains, an Oshkosh vehicle, the Afghan Desert, at Camp Bastion, and in n Afghan village.
5 Secrets revealed in Silent Heroes: the humanity of the U.S. Marines, the women’s rights under Taliban, Taliban’s secret lair, the military chain of command, and a mysterious underground fortress.
Have you downloaded Silent Heroes yet? It’s FREE for only two day, the 19th and the 20th of August.
How to read Kindle books on a PC if you don’t own a Kindle – 2 ways
Read Kindle books on your PC using Kindle Cloud Reader:
– Go to Amazon
-Search for Kindle Cloud Reader
– Create an account or sign in using your Amazon account.
– Double click on the book you wish to read.
Using the Kindle PC App:
– Go to Amazon (the online retailer, not the big river).
– Search for Kindle App, click on the relevant App, download and install.
– Open the Kindle for PC app when successfully installed.
– Sign into your Amazon account or create one (is free)
– Download the FREE book
– The book will show in your App’s Kindle library. Double click to open and read on your PC.
If you ask yourself who are the hounds of Kruger National Park – where rhinos and hippos, wild dogs, impalas and zebras, crying cheetahs, slithering snakes, and other African animals live – know that these dogs are an ultra special K9 unit trained to protect the wildlife of Kruger National Park especially the rhinos, against poachers.
Once upon a time, as late as the last Ice Age, the woolly rhino roamed as far as Europe. At the beginning of the 20th century only 500 000 rhinos were left in Africa and Asia. Today, only 27 000 rhinos are left in the wild, says WWF.
Out of the 20 000 white rhinos and 5 000 critically endangered black rhinos still living on the African continent, approximately 80 percent are found in South Africa.
But the situation is dire as here, in sunny South Africa, between 2008 and 2018 over 8 000 rhinos were poached in nature reserves such as Kruger National Park – that conveniently borders Zimbabwe and Mozambique making it easy for the illegal huntsmen to escape law.
Whenever a rhino is poached its horn will reach the smugglers in Asia in the blink of an eye, all the middle men taking their hefty profit… while its carcass is left to rot under the African sun where it first saw the light of day.
That’s why the free-running hounds of Kruger National Park entered the wildlife scene. But who are these dogs?
They are beagles, short-haired pointers, bloodhounds, spaniels, German Shepherds, and Malinois (the same Malinois who make great military working dogs), and other breeds of hounds, but what they all have in common is their passion for following the trail, their love for chase, the stamina, and their deadly… olfactory abilities.
For these free-running hounds catching the scent (meaning following it till they seize it – and apprehend the poacher) is a way of life. Is what’s on their mind when they get up in the morning, and what they dream of while they nap.
In their spacious, open-air pens – where they are kept for protection against the African beasts as well as to restrict them from going on a wild chase on their own, out of too much excitement – you almost never see them laying down to rest. They are either standing, alert as soon as their handlers approach, springs of pent-up canine energy with focused eyes, pointy ears and quivering noses, or sleeping in blissful exhaustion after a day of training or poacher-hunting.
They say if you love them, let them go… Let them catch the scent. Let them run.
These pack dogs are like this, chasing together over any kind of tricky landscape at 40km per hour, while each one longs to be the first to reach the target. And if they don’t, when another hound is first to lounge at the petrified, cornered insurgent, baying and barking in a spray of foamy drool, they still feel the same thrill and celebrate the group effort and the shared victory with a song of yipping and howling, and a storm of wagging tails. A chorus of shared joy for a job well done, the capture, and not in the least to celebrate a planned slaughter… For these free-running hounds the chase is what fills their heart, and what their hearts beat for.
They bolt from their shelters after a feint scent, even a couple of hours old, race across the golden African plains, often under an unforgiving sun, speed past herds of undisturbed impala and fierce wildebeest, dart through thickets, dodge thorny Acacias, and jump over fiery termite mounds. On and on they run, their eyes focused through a tunnel-like field of scent that only their noses can pick up. The scent of the poacher, and it pulls them like a magnet. The stronger it gets, the faster the hounds chase and the louder they cry – even after a 15 kilometers chase – as if they are one with it until they get their fill, and the target is apprehended. Before it reached the border, and made it for freedom.
The triumph is always shared, as are the yips and barks, the signals they send to one another during the chase, the cries indicating that they’re on the right track and they are making good time, as the scent gets stronger. Shared are their meals too, the lengthy walks meant to relax and keep in shape, and the sleeping quarters.
But mostly, these free tracking dogs share the mind-set to bring it all together. Each time.
Affectionate towards their human handlers, fearsome when following a poacher’s scent.
They are like a platoon of Marines fighting not rebels but poachers (in Kruger National Park) or escaped prison inmates (in Texas, USA, where they were first introduced.)
In the Kruger National Park these dogs form a K-9 unit fitted with GPS collars that tracks the poachers and scares them to death into a tree, where the field rangers make the arrest, while all the time being supervised by aerial pilots (to drive off dangerous predators or shoot before a poacher starts a gun fight.)
100 Plus arrests a real #milestone as counter poaching #dogs change the game! This translates into more than six arrests per month between Feb 2018 & June 2019! Very proud & thankful to sponsors & donors https://t.co/yzqDfRbw91 #antipoaching #Rhinos pic.twitter.com/xqp4GC4dVW— SAWC (@SAWCtweet) June 7, 2019
Why free-running hounds? Because no human can keep up with a hound dog chasing a scent on a leash, both exhausting themselves too soon – the human from sheer racing exertion, the dog from tracing a scent while dragging a clumsy human on a leash.
Before the first free-running hounds were introduced in the Kruger National Park (from ‘Texas Canine Tracking and Recovery’ USA), an average of 3 to 5 percent of poachers were caught. The rate increased to 54 percent with the aid of the K-9 unit.
With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work our grandchildren might get the chance to see rhinos in their natural habitat. I do ask myself, though, if it is fair towards these free-running dogs. But dogs are happy being with their humans, happy when chasing a laugh and the wind together… Dogs stood by our right side, right side of our hearts, from immemorable times. To take care of us.
“Early in the morning as the sun comes upPatricia Furstenberg, The Soldier and his Dog
And heat and war engulfs the land,
A man and his dog walk side by side
And know that none is all alone.”
South Africa is not the only country in Africa to fight rhino poachers. Kenya does too and part of their dogs forming the elite K9 unit are trained in Suffolk, UK. The Kenyan Ol Pejeta Conservancy is home to 144 rhinos. Ol Pejeta prides itself that none of its animals have been poached since 2018. The hard work of the free-running dogs pays off.
Some book links!
SAS Red Notice might be full of explosive situations, but the only real fuse burning through its story-line is Sam Heughan ‘s performance.
What is SAS Red Notice about? Spoiler Alert
We jump into action in the Republic of Georgia where a handful of guerrillas nicknamed the Swans “clear” a village whose inhabitants don’t want to sell their land to the investors into a new gas pipeline. Three of the Swans are brought forward, William Lewis, the father (Tom Wilkinson, solid in his role), his daughter Grace (Ruby Rose), and his son, Oliver (Owain Yeoman).
It is the Swans decision, Grace’s to be precise, to “kill the men and the boys. Let the women spread the fear.” But one Georgian girl shoots a video of Grace Lewis on a backdrop of explosions, burned homes, and torched innocent villagers, and the video goes viral, Grace’s image filling the newspapers.
The Swans are now labeled as terrorists and must be arrested for crimes against humanity, everyone points at them, including those who hired them, the British Government. Chased out of their mansion in Hampstead, the Swans take over the Euro train, bringing it to an abrupt halt under the English Channel. Their demands are clear. The UK Prime Minister must acknowledge on Live TV that the British Government is behind the “clearing” in Georgia and has ordered Special Air Services, SAS, to hire the Swans to do their dirty job, as well as to wire 500 million dollars into the Swans bank account OR… Or an incriminating video exposing the chain in command and linking the UK Prime Minister with the Swans will leak on social media platforms.
There is only one man to do the job and he falls into it willy-nilly, Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan).
Tom Buckingham is a SAS operator. We meet him on his breathtaking estate (and it does make you wonder why he is an SAS member since he’s got all those money). But Tom is a softie, or he just looks like one in the beginning. He plans to propose to his girlfriend, Dr. Sophie Hart (Hannah John-Kamen), with his grandmother, his Nana’s ring. It is a special ring, that “great Henry Buckingham chopped from the finger of the Maharajah during the great mutiny,” and then offered it to Nana. (Here I wondered if the ring was special to Tom because it was his Nana’s, or because of its bloody story – which would tell us something about Tom’s character).
Tom and Sophie’s plans to fly to Paris (where he secretly wishes to propose to her) are blown off by his last-minute involvement in the tracking of the terrorists, the Swans. So Tom and Sophie take the train instead, the Eurostar, to Paris. It is the same Eurostar the Swans took to fulfill their plan, force the Prime Minister to pay them the ransom, and clear their name.
After the Swans high jacked the train and passengers got wounded, Dr. Sophie jumped to their aid. Already aware of whom he has to deal with, Tom Buckingham fights the terrorists single-handed, explosions blasting left and right. Eventually, a team of SAS is sent to assist, while more terrorists arrive on sight, in the tunnel.
The UK Government (represented by Sir Charles Whiteside with a personal interest in the British Gas pipeline) agrees to pay the ransom money (but without broadcasting it) and all that’s left to be done is for Grace Lewis to be killed by SAS so that no word ever escapes of the SAS involvement and chain of traitors.
Tom’s only wish is to save his girlfriend and to propose to her, but knowing that she will never leave casualties behind he knows has to save everyone on the train as well. That’s why when Grace Lewis reels him in Tom goes willingly, to save his girlfriend.
It is now that we witness what else the British Government has been hiding in their side of the tunnel, as well as how long the chain of SAS traitors is. And one of them will have to be the UK Government’s scapegoat. But which one?
On the outside, the SAS and the UK Government comply with the terrorists’ plans and it looks as if they will save the passengers, and they will be successful in capturing the terrorists, the Swans.
While from the inside of the tunnel Tom Buckingham realizes that “this isn’t about the money, it’s about revenge,’ and that Grace Lewis will never keep up her word, save the civilians, yet she will never surrender either.
In the end, only Grace Lewis, Dr. Sophie, and Tom Buckingham are left standing, with Tom, wounded and on foot, chasing after Grace through snowed woods. In one last attempt Grace tries to convince Tom and bring him onto her side, turn him into a (black) Swan.
She seems to fail, as Tom finally kills her, but what we are left wondering, well, that you will have to read further.
How Sam Heughan’s performance saved the SAS Red Notice movie. Spoiler Alert
The opening scene warns us that “Psychopaths that can learn to love are even more rare than a black swan.” And this is the premise of the movie SAS Red Notice.
It is clear from the beginning that William Lewis and Grace Lewis, father and daughter, are psychopaths. To finish their mission William Lewis asks Grace to “make a decision. Do it now,’ and she chooses to blow torch innocent people to send a message. In a later scene, William admits that “Grace is special. She’s like me, only better,” namely a psychopath like he is (both William and Grace admit to never having loved anyone else in their lives).
But we learn this from the start, so I asked myself, what was the point of the opening line since we already know who the psychopath is?
We meet Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan) planning to propose to his girlfriend with his Nana’s ring. But the ring has a rather bloody history, and although I found the idea romantic, I shuddered at the thought. And the shudder stayed with me. What kind of a man does something like this? But he’s the good guy, right?
It also caught my eye that Tom is pretty much a loner, he seems to have only his butler in his life (did Andy McNab had a little nod towards Batman here?), oh, and he has one friend in the SAS team.
It is to his friend, Declan Smith (Tom Hopper) that Tom Buckingham admits to loving his girlfriend Sophie (although he never, ever, loved anyone in his entire life) and that he plans to take off to Paris and propose – just like that, after all the killing they just did. And Tom is all smiling about his plans, no pains there for the lives he just took.
Sam Heughan is brilliant here in creating the illusion that this time is different, with Sophie, although he can’ quite explain it in words, not even to his only friend. And he does leave us with the shadow of a thought, could he be a psychopath too? But he’s a good guy, right?
Tom appears to be able to switch himself on and off quite easily; now he visits his girlfriend, now he hunts and kills terrorists, then he’s the perfect boyfriend again. At one stage, when Sophie gets to nurse his wounds, she asks him if it didn’t bother him that he had to kill a woman, and if “everything ever affects you? Ever?’ and he candidly answers ‘no”.
Sam Heughan brings this scene so well together, playing the cool and collected SAS soldier who had learned to lock away his feelings so well that he doesn’t even notice them anymore, to protect himself… or not? He doesn’t seem to understand why Sophie is so upset about, that he isn’t bothered by his job, by the killings it involves.
So I asked myself again, after this scene, who is the psychopath in this movie?
The fact that Tom Buckingham single-handedly took on the terrorists in that tight tunnel was hard to buy, but then so many heroes do it, right? James Bond does it and we kind of expect that from him.
Tom’s character is rounded up by the fact that he can speak French (well, he is SAS after all) to the girl, Emmeline, he rescued from the train, and that he makes her feel secure. I thought that this scene showed some of the character’s soft side, although the girl concludes to Tom that “there are lots of things you can’t explain.
I liked how Sam Heughan made us believe that he bought the “come get me” text message supposedly sent to him by his girlfriend Sophie (but typed by black Swan Grace Lewis), when he knew Sophie too well, knew that she will never choose to save herself and leave casualties behind.
But it was the final scene between Grace Lewis and Tom Buckingham that showed Sam Heughan’s portraying skills. Although it took him a rather long time to knock Grace down (he’s twice her size, but wounded, plus she’s a certified psychopath so this should give her extra physical strength, right?).
After previously telling Tom “we are more alike than you know,” Grace tried again to lure Tom to her side, telling him how he enjoyed the game they played, and how he wouldn’t think twice before killing a human being, just like she.
It is in this scene that Tom realizes that he was acting like a psychopath without being one. And he finds it hard to put it into words. Yet we see that on his face. But the fact that he knows Sophie is on his side saves his life in this scene, for he doesn’t give in, doesn’t fall into Grace’s dark side. We can almost see his skin crawl as he realizes the extent of Grace’s psychopathy. Yet he smiles at her, acknowledging that he is one, a psychopath. Looking as if he setts her a trap.
Yet as he waits for her to die, after sliding her throat, she stares into thin air.
What just happened here? Heughan takes us from one extreme to the next. And I’ve changed my mind again, I still can’t tell whether he’s a psychopath or not.
But we’re soon to find out.
It is the scene when Tom will propose to Sophie, just a little later.
“Will you marry me?” he asks hopefully and then we see on his face how terror sets in for she doesn’t answer.
“You’re not meant to be married,” Sophie says.
“I thought you understood,” he says and there is so much pain in his eyes that he can barely speak.
“I do,” she says, although this is the wrong “I do” and her eyes say something else. They say I do understand that you’re a psychopath. (Oh, no!).
Really? Is this it? – goes through my mind.
Wait, next he staggers backward and he cries. And calls her name.
Brilliant work here, Heughan, showing one single, powerful emotion to let your girl know that you do experience feelings, and you are not the psychopath so many thought you were (and sorry for believing it too).
My thoughts on the SAS Red Notice movie. Spoiler Alert
There were a few clichés and plot ideas I didn’t buy
I thought it was a little bit of a cliché to open up with such a clear image, these are the terrorists, and they are psychopaths too. But it’s an action thriller, right?
We get it early that Grace is a psychopath, and she proves it again when she decides later to shoot one passenger for not handing in his cell phone. Yet why would she choose to save the bystander child, wounded in the arm? I know why; it helped the plot later. But it didn’t fit her character.
Grace seems to be walking around quite a lot with her hands pushed in her pockets. If she does this to show us that she’s a psychopath, I didn’t believe her. I’d imagine a terrorist rather walking as if he’s always ready for action, especially during an attack.
The gas pipeline
I also thought that the image of the poor Georgian village forced to sell its land for a gas pipeline to run through it was a little bit overdone. But the book came out in 2012, so maybe Andy McNab was one of the first to use it. The subsequent idea, that the Brits hid a gas pipeline inside their half of the Eurotunnel, was unexpected.
The involved government people
George Clements (Andy Serkis) I found to be a transparent character. For once, he knew William Lewis since their time together in Rhodesia. Yes, their paths could have split at some time, Clements staying with the good guys, Lewis taking the dark side. But Clements admits to Lewis that he’s still going, and that “politicians come and go, I’m the consistency” and he admits to cleaning Lewis’ mess more than once. So I doubted him from the beginning. Clements is also too visual in showing us how he keeps an eye on Declam Smith, later in the movie.
We also learn quite from the start that the Prime Minister is corrupt; he’s the one who ordered the Swans to clean the village. I would have liked to discover this later, and I would have liked a PM with more power.
I suspected Major Bisset quite early on, his character was rather thin too.
The PM, Major Bisset, and Clements are worried, too worried and that’s most of the time, that Grace Lewis will expose them.
Throughout the movie it felt like the only character developed at all was that of Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan).
There is a lot of blasting and bombing, the special effects were rather entertaining, as was Tom’s and Sophie’s chat through the loo hole…
The poetry of one final scene stood out for me
Sophie Lewis, the Black Swan, runs through a snowed forest, wearing her dark clothing.
Tom Buckingham is chasing after her, in shades of gray, and only his wound, covered in blood, stands out red against the white background.
Like a White Swan chasing the Black Swan.
In this final, snowy scene, for the first time, there is no sound of bullets, of explosions, of commands shouted trough phones, only the eerie sound of falling snowflakes, of snow crushed underfoot as life chases death…
On a final note…
I thought that SAS Red Notice was entertaining, although its main story-line / script was thin and predictable. What stood out for me was the gold thread, the fuse that did blow up in the end, namely Tom Buckingham’s story and Sam Heughan’s performance. SAS Red Notice is worth watching one, for action and special effects, and twice to pay attention to the little clues left by Sam Heughan.
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The idea behind A Halloween Game 13 Questions & Answers is to have some fun. 🙂
First read each question and attempt to answer it, then, too see the answer:
* scroll with your mouse over the image – if you view from a PC
** select the image (tap and hold to select) – if you view from a mobile device.
1. What is the name of the Celtic harvest festival that many people believe Halloween is based on?
2. What fruit would you go for, bobbing at Halloween?
3. Count Dracula is based on a real person. What was his name?
4. Where is Transylvania located?
5. What was Bram Stoker’s original name for Dracula?
6. What is a group of witches called?
7. In which town of medieval Transylvania were witches executed?
8. What is the day after Halloween called?
9. Which countries traditionally celebrate The Day of the Dead instead of Halloween?
10. What do we call the fear of, or the Halloween phobia?
11. What does the word “Hallow” means in old English?
12. Why did Victorians put bells above the graves, attached to a string that reached inside the coffin?
13. What do you call a ghost that moves objects around the house?
I hope you found A Halloween Game 13 Questions & Answers fun!
What about you? Do you know any Hallowe’en questions for me?
Write them in comments below and I’ll answer to the best of my knowledge 🙂
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