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Showing posts by: Weston Ochse click to see Weston Ochse's profile
Nov 16 2013 9:00pm

Fresh Meat: Nowhere Nice by Rick Gavin

Nowhere Nice by Rick GavinNowhere Nice by Rick Gavin is the third novel of lowdown Delta crime featuring repo man Nick Reid and his partner Desmond (available November 19, 2013).

Nick Reid will repossess anything; even someone else’s hard earned robbery swag. They say there is no honor among thieves and to prove it he robs from a vile thieving meth lord. The problem is that this vile thieving meth lord is also a vile murdering meth lord and has gotten so pissed about the whole thing that he breaks out of prison to hunt Nick and his pals down, which is the engine for this high-horse-powered novel by Rick Gavin.

Compared by some to a modern reincarnation of Mark Twain with his free and often effortless use of vernacular, Gavin's Nowhere Nice feels real enough it could be the closed-captioning for a documentary of redneck meth culture. And this is where it derives its power. This novel isn’t a gothic lamentation of things past. Instead, it’s a muscular novel of the new south where the only thing gothic is the chick serving coffee at Starbucks. Amidst the trailers and trash and terrible people, Gavin’s narrative shows us how real southerners live, what they have to do to survive, and the almost medieval chivalry which is their code.

Being a southerner myself, I can’t stand novels about my homeland which straddle the realms of pastiche and cliché. These novels are most often written by someone NOT from the south who collects their data by mining the internet and their immediate family. Such novels are flat, awful things which are best served to prop up a short-legged end table and are frankly insulting. Nowhere Nice isn’t one of these novels.

[Real people and places still get real wild...]

Oct 22 2013 1:30pm

Pass the F**king Potatoes, or Foul Things Soldiers Say

Frankly, these potatoes do look pretty f***ing great.There’s a scene in the movie Hamburger Hill that rings so true, I can’t help but remember it every time I hear someone say pass the potatoes. Usually at Thanksgiving or Christmas, someone will say it and I’ll smile privately, remembering the actor Michael Boatman who played the part of Private Ray Motown telling a story about how he went home and couldn’t keep from acting like a jerk.

To set up the scene, Motown is trying to convince one of the other men who is a short timer that he isn’t ready to go home. Motown is trying to explain that the military changes you, it indoctrinates you, it makes you do things for a reason that have no place at home… and sometimes there’s no reason at all. So he’s talking to the man and telling about how he went home on leave:

I smile at my Mamma. Great meal, Ma. Would you please pass the f**king potatoes? The ham is f**king A, Ma. You don't know how... how f**king great it is to be home. How you going to act, huh?

The scene is silent for a few long moments as each one of the men imagines how they’d act. You can almost see it in their eyes as they all realize that they’d probably act the same. And it embarrasses them. In fact, they’d rather be at war.

I remember this scene so well because I did the same thing. It was 1986 and I had just returned from my first duty assignment and a year in Korea. I hadn’t been home for more than 14 months and I was on leave between duty stations. I can see it in complete and utter horrifying clarity in my mind’s eye as if it were yesterday. There I was, sitting at the dining room table at our (then) home in Ooltewah, Tennessee, with my little brother, my mom and my dad.

[Get ready for a real Hallmark moment...]

Oct 15 2013 12:00pm

Age of Blood: New Excerpt

Weston Ochse

Age of Blood by Weston OchseAn excerpt of Age of Blood, the second book in the SEAL Team 666 paranormal military thriller series by Weston Ochse (available October 15, 2013).

When a Senator’s daughter is kidnapped by a mysterious group with ties to the supernatural . . . it’s clearly a job for SEAL TEAM 666.  As Triple Six gets involved, they discover links to the Zeta Cartel, a newly discovered temple beneath Mexico City, and a group known as Followers of the Flayed One. International politics, cross-border narco-terrorism, and an insidious force operating inside the team soon threaten to derail the mission.  Forced to partner with several militant ex-patriots and a former Zeta hitman-turned-skinwalker, Triple Six is the world's only hope to stop the return of the Age of Blood.

Chapter 1

That’ll Leave A Mark was spray-painted in garish Day-Glo pink across the front of a seventeenth-century headstone. The out-of-the-way and run-down cemetery was the perfect setting for a horror movie. The ambience was complete with Spanish-moss-hung ancient trees, low ground fog, aboveground crypts crouching like intruders, anomalous statues that could be shrines to the elder gods, and the total absence of sound, except for a tinkling of zydeco on the extreme edge of hearing. And the characters, the complement of characters, inclusive of the astonishingly believable voodoo queen, were as terrifying as they were fantastic. So Petty Officer First Class Jack Walker was pretty pleased with himself that he made this observation while perched high in a tree far away from the action and armed with a sniper rifle.

[Continue on to read the full excerpt of Age of Blood...]

Oct 8 2013 9:00am

Afghanistan: My Green Zone Symphony


We hope you'll enjoy this exclusive look at Kabul, Afghanistan's Green Zone through the eyes of a writer serving there, presented as special, long-form feature in four parts.



Ever wonder what you’d say if someone came up to you and told you it was time to go to a warzone? Most people don’t have a job where that’s an issue, but what if it was? Think about it for a moment. What would you think? What would you say?

More importantly, what would you do?

As I sit here in Afghanistan, I can't help but think about those things that brought me here; the events that occurred to make this a reality. Thinking about it takes me back to the day I was voluntold.

For the record: volunteer + told = voluntold.

It’s a sacred military term we all come to love... and sometimes hate.

“You’re being deployed,” my boss said. Although he grinned, his eyes watched me closely. This was part of the game. How would someone react when they were told they were going off to war? How would I react?

“Sure I am.” I laughed and waited for a reciprocating laugh from my boss, or the deputy, but neither gave in. “Oh, you’re serious.” I looked from one man to the other and felt it for real. Fight or flight. My heart fluttered. My face might have even paled. A tsunami of concern broke in my stomach. This was it. This was that moment. How would I react? How was I reacting? Whatever was happening to my body, my mind was flash-banging through a thousand images of war and fighting, both Hollywood and real.

The dead stared back at me with as fierce a stare as those levied by John Wayne and my grandfather, waiting for my answer. It seemed as if minutes had passed since I’d realized I was actually being deployed. In this all-volunteer military, I was being voluntold to go to war. I could get out of it. I could make up some excuse. Hell, I could tell the truth. The Veteran’s Administration had already established that I was enough of a disabled veteran that I deserved money—as some sort of monetary apology for fucking up my body. My mouth moved and the words came out, “Where are you sending me?”

“Afghanistan,” my boss said.

I realized only a moment had passed. If my face had revealed any of my internal ruminations, I couldn’t tell by looking at him.

“Do you know where in Afghanistan?” I asked.

After two weeks in country, wearing body armor and holding an AK47 I sometimes use. It’s heavier than I expected./ Photo Credit: Weston Ochse

“Don’t know.” He snatched a yellow sticky from his desk. “Call this number and they’ll fill you in.”

As I took the paper, the phone rang. He answered it and I stood there awkwardly for a moment.

I didn’t know if I was supposed to say something or not. Finally, tired of staring at the back of his head, I turned and left the office. I had a phone call to make. Check that. I had two phone calls to make. I had to call deployments branch and I also had to call my wife. After a moment’s consideration, I took the coward's way out and called deployments branch first.

It's funny. As I look back on that moment, I wasn't scared. This was something I'd wanted to do for so long. Twice before, I was set to go, and my deployment was scuttled. I was beginning to feel like it was never meant to be. Then came the notification. Was I scared? Not the way you think. I wasn't scared for my life. I was scared for all the things I was going to miss. I was scared that something might happen in the life I'd constructed, and I wouldn't be there to see it, to fix it, to be a part of it. This is the hardest thing to get over. It's a hard lesson to learn that life goes on without you. Once you get that, then everything falls into place.

I think I’m really ready to go.

Let's get this party started.

[Because that's just the sonata...]

Dec 4 2012 12:30pm

Revolver: An Under-Appreciated Film

Revolver Movie Poster

The movie Revolver was panned in England where it was released. It got 1/2 out of 5 stars. Only after adding some scenes and re-editing did it come the U.S., but even then, no one saw it. In fact, now it’s available to watch on the Internet for free. So what happened?

Directed by Guy Ritchie and written by Luc Besson it had great bones and should have been terrific. It starred Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Vincent Pastore, and a whole host of British baddies I recognize from other bad guys movies, so it should have been interesting. Guy Ritchie films have a certain style to them that I appreciate. He’s sort of the love child of Akira Kurosawa and Quentin Tarantino, so I approached Revolver with that sort of anticipation.

But Ritchie pulled a David Lynch. And the problem is that he’s not a David Lynch (known for impenetrable “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”-inspired dream-like movies such as Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire and Lost Highway).

[Guy Ritchie as David Lynch?]

Nov 2 2012 10:30am

You Used Your Machete on Whom?

The Ultimax

There I was, knee deep in hand grenade pins, the Soviets rolling over the hill in T72 tanks, me with only a P38 and the pucker factor of a gnat’s ass.

Wait. Wrong story. Back up, let me try again.

There I was, knee deep in a triple canopy rain forest, birds screaming in the trees, death adders making the long grass tremble as I trained Papua New Guinea soldiers in the correct way to fire and break down an Ultimax 100.

Yeah. That’s the story I was looking for.

It was the early 1990s and I was on a several month tour in Papua New Guinea. Among my missions was to assist in training Papua New Guinea (PNG) soldiers in advanced infantry techniques. One of the interesting things about the PNG defense forces was that they didn’t have a national weapon. They used all sorts. Some carried M16s. Some carried AK-47s. Still others carried British SA-10s, with its fixed optical sight system. On this particular day in the 110 degree jungle somewhere near the Kokoda Trail, a platoon of irregulars was testing the Ultimax.

[Oh, this is going to be good...]

Sep 22 2012 11:00am

The Pain Box: A Lesson from the Naval Reserve

Twenty U.S. naval reserve officers arrive at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. These officers are from New York City, and in their day jobs they are longshoremen, firemen, police officers . . . and three Italian chefs. They are destined for service in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where—as reserve naval officers—they will conduct interrogation operations in support of national defense. These men and women are hardened individuals, with no-nonsense approaches to life, and consider themselves ready to face anything.

As the training commences, it becomes evident that these are the right people for the job. Their hard-edged countenances and their single-mindedness allow them to succeed where many others have failed. Towards the end of the training, however, as they excel, they begin to become overconfident. Several of them  reach the point of cockiness.

[Excellence breeds cockiness, which breeds . . .]

Aug 27 2012 2:00pm

How to Use Espionage Training at a Party

Wait, James Bond real-life equivalent is a high school cheerleader?!It’s Saturday night. You have your best duds on. You’ve actually taken a shower. You might have even combed your hair. You’re now ready to hit the party. But are you really ready? Do you know how to get what you want? Do you even know what you want?

And yes. You want something.

No, really. It’s true. Everyone wants something at a party, even you. Whether it’s access to the best drinks, a date with a certain girl or guy, or maybe to learn some trade secrets; you want something.

When trying to decide the best historical references for espionage or intelligence gathering I could use as an example, I contemplated Hannibal, Alexander the Great, Caesar, Hitler, Churchill, and Wild Bill Donovan, as well as organizations like the MOSSAD, KGB, GRU, Stasi, and MI6, but in the end, I came up with the American high school cheerleader.

[Stopping evil in the cheer-tatorship?]

Aug 6 2012 9:45am

Airport Travel for the Paranoid and Delusional

Black bag and sunglassesSometimes when I travel I feel paranoid and delusional. But am I really? After all, I could be standing beside a terrorist and not even know it. With the growth of home grown terrorists in America, I could be swapping football woes with someone contemplating blowing up a public building!

I don’t bother with profiling to determine who might be dangerous. That’s too much of a blind bet. Instead, I’ve been trained to look at two things: their position in the terminal and their eyes.

The more dangerous person sits alone, usually with his back against a wall or a bank of windows. He has a carry-on, almost always black, because of a desire to blend in (hopefully no bad guys are reading this or else I suspect there might be a spike in lone men traveling with pink carry-ons). I frequently spy these men (and they usually are men) with glasses, often of the mirrored type.

So I’ve seen a man sitting alone against a bank of windows with a black carry-on. Should I be scared? Should I report his man?



It could be a covert TSA officer. It could be a drug enforcement or customs border patrol agent or an air marshal. It could even be a police officer. The larger airports experience a deluge of interagency requests for operations to be conducted, whether purely monitoring or targeting.

If you’re in a large airport, the chances are the person is question either has already been targeted, or is the one doing the targeting.

But what about the eyes? You said the eyes give you away.

Not always, but they are great indicators.

Look at the eyes. You should see calm, tired, maybe a little stressed. You shouldn’t see focused attention and or anger. It’s amazing how often someone’s fear at getting caught translates into anger. Angry people are targeted.

But what does this mean? What should I be doing? Should I be as paranoid and delusional as you, Mr. Ochse?

Definitely not. But you should be aware. If you see someone suspicious, glance around. See if anyone’s looking at them. See how and where they are sitting. See their eyes, if you can. If you feel nervous, there’s no reason you can’t approach a TSA agent or a policeman on a Segway and point out your concern. After all, you’re not being paranoid and delusional. You’re being careful.

Weston Ochse’s last name is pronounced “oaks.” Together with his first name, it sounds like a stately trailer park. He is the author of nine novels, most recently SEAL Team 666, which comes out in December 2012. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. For fun he races tarantula wasps and watches the black helicopters dance along the horizon.