Kevin Gossett's Blog

Gray Eagles and Dead Trees

I’ve always loved to read. At times, my dedication to consuming the printed word rivaled my son’s devotion to Minecraft, as hard as it is to believe. A couple weeks after Amazon introduced the first Kindle, I bought one, and over the next couple years, transitioned to first mostly, then completely, ebooks. I don’t buy bound (dead tree) books anymore, but it’s not out of a sense of ecological responsibility, just the desire for simplicity. I love having virtually my entire library on a small device that’s with me all the time, whether it’s a Kindle, a tablet, or my phone.

Reading recreationally is no longer a thing that requires preparation (did I remember to bring the books I’m reading? All of them? Jeesh, this bag is heavy).

One of my favorite novels of all time, is by Duane Unkefer, titled “Gray Eagles.” It’s the story of a group of former World War Two Luftwaffe pilots who are invited to a flying vacation complete with fully restored Messerschmidt 109s, not only painted up like the planes they all flew three decades before (the story is set in Phoenix in the 1970s) but armed to the teeth. Naturally, they proceed to use the terrible warplanes as they were intended, striking one more blow for the Luftwaffe.

The action in “Gray Eagles” is good, the flying sequences accurate and believable, the characters well-drawn and likeable. It’s a really good novel. I first bought and read “Gray Eagles” right after the paperback came out, in 1986, and loved it. A few years ago, I went on Amazon, looking for a hard cover edition so I could make it a permanent part of my collection. Despite the book being out of print now, I found a hardback and bought it. I came across that book a few days ago, and decided to read “Gray Eagles” again, and it’s just as delightful, thrilling and suspenseful.

It’s also a pain in the ass.

I’ve become so accustomed to the convenience of reading on a Kindle, iPad or Nexus 7 tablet, that flipping pages and trying to keep the book propped open so I could read without my hands having to be constantly engaged proved to be a challenge. Sad to say, it’s really annoying. In many circumstances, I like old-school tools, pens, notebooks, and my beloved Blackwing pencils, but reading the printed page, ink on paper, machine bound, is simply…A pain in the ass.

I love “Gray Eagles,” but as soon as I’m done with it, I’m back to my Kindle. I’m a little bummed about this, and not completely comfortable abandoning the tactile joy of a well bound book, but the benefits definitely outweigh the loss.

Scary Movies

My grandmother loved movies, and taking me, her first grandchild, to them. I know, you’re thinking Mary Poppins or Lassie..


Wrong. I remember her taking me to two films in particular, and the memory of each are reduced to one scene per movie. I turned the TV on this morning, and playing on one of the classic film channels was the Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway classic Bonnie and Clyde.

Grandma took me to the Paramount Theatre in Anderson, Indiana to see the gangster flick when I was 8 years old. Seeing it again on the flat screen in my home office this morning, I wondered what she was thinking as we watched it. The subtle (by today’s standards) sexual overtones (which I have no memory of at all, not surprisingly) were decidedly PG today. What I remember vividly, is the violence, particularly in the gun battles, and most shockingly, in the final scene where Bonnie and Clyde are gunned down in their car, several law enforcement officers cutting them to pieces with automatic gunfire. Reports of the incident that ended the pair’s crime spree said they were each hit at least 50 times, with several head shots. The mortician had trouble embalming them because of all the bullet holes in their bodies.

This particular film was groundbreaking in a number of ways, including the first use of “squibs,” small packets of red liquid that are used to simulate being shot. Previously in the movies, death by bullet was portrayed by the actor’s hand clutching his abdomen, a grimace, and line something like “he got me!” Bonnie and Clyde changed all that. S&t got real.*

That scene with bullets perforating Bonnie and Clyde is the one that lives in my memory to this day.

But the first film-going memory I have, is my grandmother taking me to see the Bette Davis classic Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte. I was five years old that time, and honest to God, that movie creeped me the F&*k out, especially the scene with Bette Davis standing, covered in the blood of the guy everyone thought she had just stabbed to death. Then, that head rolling down the stairs…Jeesh.

Again, I was five years old. I think the reason there was a three year gap in between movies my grandmother took me to probably corresponded to how long it took my mom and dad to forget about Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte and let her take me to the theatre again.

It was years later when I realized why the Baldwin sisters on The Waltons creeped me out so much. They simply reminded me of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford from that movie. Two spinster sisters with southern accents…

I’m glad we have a movie rating system today, even if it seems to be getting really lax these days. Movies that to me, are clear “R” films seem to routinely get “PG-13″ ratings, if not “PG.” I’m sad that our kids have to grow up so fast, but I’m sure parents have been saying that for hundreds, if not thousands of years. There were probably Roman parents talking, two thousand years ago, one saying “I can’t believe that Marcus and Octavia took little Julius to the Coliseum! He’s only 10. I didn’t get to watch the gladiators until I was 13! These kids are growing up so fast!”

The other day, I let my 12 year old watch a few minutes of what in 1976 was the most violent show on television, Starsky and Hutch. He thought it was the funniest thing he’d ever seen. I remember the controversy over Starsky and Hutch, how it was too violent for television, too realistic, etc…Today though? There are episodes of iCarly that have more violence than Starsky could unleash in an hour. Times do change.

My kid is 12, is pretty good at Call of Duty and Watchdogs *(though I don’t let him play *Grand Theft Auto). No way I’d let him watch Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte. No way.

Starsky and Ron


I distinctly remember sitting in Government class at HHS in 1977, looking out the window and seeing at 1976 Ford Gran Torino in Starsky and Hutch paint, stopped at the Cross Street stop sign. I decided at that moment that I wanted one of those cars. Still want one. Little did I know, that very car was being driven by my friend¬†Ron Carter, who lived in Indy and was ditching school that day. I would meet and work with Ron for several years at Windy 100 in Chicago. It would be until a cold, winter’s day in 2000 when Ron and I realized he was behind the wheel that day.

Funny how life works, huh?



Fascinating info about the clinically observed benefits of long hair and facial hair for men. For a few years, I wore my hair long (about halfway down my back) and am now not sure of my decision to let the WONDERFUL Charles Ifergan cut it all off when I was on the radio in Chicago.

Probably should have kept it, and simply used his products! My wife does still have the ponytail in a ziplock bag, tied with my favorite Highlander hair tie, something my 12 year old finds both unbelievable and hilarious.

Article at

Nurse Jackie

This is such a great show. The Executive Producer is a guy named Tom Straw, who has produced a number of really good TV shows, and who was one of my early Radio Program Directors in Phoenix. Neat guy, fabulous show.

A Year, Riding

An article I wrote for Hog (Harley-Davidson Owner’s Group) Magazine:

Screenshot_1_1_14,_3_32_PM-3It’s been about a year and a half since I first swung a leg over my 2011 FXDF Fat Bob, and six thousand miles in the saddle have shown me the decision to finally walk into Chandler Harley Davidson and buy the almost eight hundred pound beast was the right one. It had been a long road to motorcycle ownership for me, now a third generation Harley Davidson owner, since accidents both my Grandfather and then later, Father were involved in, had kept me on four wheels through my young adult life. My younger brother Craig, family rebel, hadn’t paid as much attention, and owned bikes since he was a teenager. When he passed away in the summer of 2012, parked outside his house was a 1992 Heritage Softail Classic. My brother wanted his Harley to go to his best friend, the first person he met when we moved to Arizona in the late 70s, and so my father and I arranged it.

Packing up his possessions, I came across a stack of HOG magazines, and a well-worn 2012 Trip Planning Guide he had clearly spent time with. I was sorry that his rapidly declining health had prevented him from using the guide as it was intended, and a couple days later, sitting in a coffee shop reading about HOG, I made a decision.

I always joked that when I was young, I had a mother who prevented me from riding a motorcycle. When I was older, the mother held less sway over those decisions, but I didn’t have the extra money necessary to buy a bike. By the time I had the money, I had picked up a wife, who took over from Mom in keeping me out of the saddle.

My wife, a wise and understanding woman, recognized there was something different this time in my musings about buying a bike, and didn’t object when I took a rider’s course to get my motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license. As I shopped the Harley-Davidson line, both at the dealership and online, she and I both had our separate revelations. She realized I was serious about motorcycles this time, and I came to understand that I wasn’t looking for just a motorcycle, I was looking for my Harley.

The rider’s course was excellent, and though I’d never ridden a full-sized motorcycle, just made a few laps around an empty lot on a cousin’s Honda Trail 70 when I was 13 or so, I came away from the two-day course with a good understanding of basic ridership, and a healthy respect for all that can go wrong in riding big, heavy machines in traffic with bigger, heavier vehicles driven by less-skilled operators who weren’t always paying a lot of attention. The mechanics of riding seemed natural to me, and presented no great challenge. The instructor taught in a way that gave us just enough of a peek into the physics of riding a motorcycle that I was inspired to study those aspects of riding more fully. As a result, I believe I’ve learned to ride much more safely than if I’d just picked it up myself, and that comes with an understanding that the learning should never end. It’s made me a better “cage” driver, too, since I’m much more in tune with what the other cars around me are doing, and even more importantly, what they may be getting ready to do.

After getting the required “M” endorsement on my Arizona Driver’s License, I began shopping in earnest, quickly eschewing the advice to “buy a Japanese 750cc bike and ride it for a year or so, then trade it in on a Harley.” After looking at all the possible combinations, I settled on a new, light blue 2011 FXDF Fat Bob, negotiating a color change to “Black Denim,” and contracting with the incredibly talented Matt Andrews of Hypnotic Air to do some custom paint on the tank. The result was stunning, and I had my first Harley.

Early, EARLY morning rides got a safe start, and as I felt more comfortable, I began riding in heavier traffic, and then on the interstate. The Fat Bob may not be a bagger, but it’s a stable platform that with a windshield and some mini-floorboards, makes for pretty comfortable medium range transportation.

As I rode to breakfast today, on a cool, bright Saturday morning, I marveled, as I often do, that even though I just started doing this a year ago in August, my FXDF makes me feel like I’ve been riding all my life. While it sometimes makes me regret not learning to ride a lot sooner, when I could have ridden with Craig, it also hits me that maybe the free, natural feeling I have when doing this is partly because he’s here with me, knowing his best buddy has his Heritage Softail Classic, and happy his big brother finally wised up and got on two wheels.

Stand-Up Guys a Stand-up Thumbs-Up

If you have either Netflix or Amazon Prime, you really need to watch “Stand-Up Guys,” since you’ve already paid for it, and it’s a wonderful movie. I’ve always been in awe of Al Pacino, the rare kind of actor who can play both the head of a huge crime family (The Godfather) as well as a down on his luck, low level wiseguy (Donny Brasco) without either of those roles influencing his take on the other. He displays this amazing talent again, adding another completely unique mob character to his portfolio in Stand-Up Guys. Playing opposite Christopher Walken, Pacino creates a bad guy whose heart would be in the right place, if it only weren’t so damn big. Far from an anti-hero, Valentine, or “Val” to his friends, despite spending the past 28 years in prison, is an obvious master of his nefarious craft, but a good guy, which we assume is the cast in the opening scenes, one of which shows him warmly shaking hands with the prison guard escorting him to the exit gate.

Walken’s character is far more conflicted, for reasons that eventually become clear, but proves he too is a stand-up guy on many levels. Always entertaining, Alan Arkin provides the predictable long-suffering, naval-gazing Jewish friend whose job it is to reveal other characters, but at the same time revealing his own interesting and touching story.

There’s a great message in the movie, that holding a grudge is never a good idea, nor is assuming youth and vitality trumps experience that has nothing to lose.¬†

The beginning of “Stand-Up Guys” is executed perfectly, and the ending, though not what I thought it would be, likewise. Jon Bon Jovi’s music is an essential foundation for the story, much better than what most directors would do, recycling pop songs from these gangsters’ day in the sun. Bon Jovi’s original tunes are a much better soundtrack for this film, acoustic and modern, yet introspective. Nice stuff.

I don’t think this film did well in theaters, but it deserves success. Great story, wonderful script executed flawlessly by two of the finest actors who ever worked in front of a camera.

I give it 7 out of 5 stars!

Review: Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10

One word: Amazing.

Two words: Heart breaking.

Three words: Well, you get the idea.

Marcus Luttrell survived one of the most difficult ordeals imaginable, when he and his fellow SEALs were discovered on a mountainside, conducting surveillance on an Afghan village, looking for an enemy commander who had just recently masterminded a bombing that killed several U.S. Marines. When faced with the decision to kill three civilian prisoners, including one young boy, or suffer the consequences of letting them go, they did the latter, only to have the Afghan civilians run straight to the guerillas for whom capturing and beheading American soldiers (or civilians, for that matter) makes for a great day.

When the ordeal was over, three American SEALs were dead, and Marcus Luttrell was severely wounded and emotionally whole, but scarred for life. Probably over 100 Afghan fighters were dead.

Lone Survivor is a story of American fighting men beating frightening odds, and has been made into a major motion picture, starring Mark Wahlberg, out in December. I’ll condense the review to this:

Read the book and then go see the movie. You will be glad you did. God bless the United States Navy SEALs.

Excellent Horse-Like Lady Executed Because Boyfriend is a Weird, Twisted Friend of Dennis Rodman

Rodman and his little buddy Okay, so maybe Hyon Song-wol wasn’t machine-gunned because her ex, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il is a friend of Dennis Rodman (Korea’s answer to Penn and Teller, I’m thinking), but the fact that she was executed at all (along with a number of other people as well) is simply taking the whole “don’t video yourselves naked” too far. Jesus, why do they put video cameras in cell phones, anyway? The former Chicago Bull, Rodman, being “friends” with the ruler of this horrible country is weird enough (though when you look at him and his piercings, not really, I guess) but to go on TV and defend his little buddy’s culpability in the public execution means Dennis is simply not getting good advice from…well…anybody.

Hong Song-wol was apparently a North Korean pop star, one of her big hits being a ditty that translates to “Excellent Horse-Like Lady.” Here it is. As far as I can tell, it’s about young North Koreans working at a factory that makes cotton t-shirts, known in the country as “food.”