Nascido Para Matar

I watched my new copy of Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (In Vietnam The Wind Doesn't Blow It Sucks) recently, and I've got to say that the Portuguese subtitles did no justice at all to Gunnery Sergeant Hartman's tirades. Really weak sauce. On the other hand, the Spanish subtitles more than kept up. The translator even translated the cadences so that his rhymed as well (which, honestly, is easy...just end each line with a verb of the same conjugation. Still, the Brazilian translator skipped out on that). Now that's the sort of movie that would really test the colloquial skills of a translator.

The first time I saw Full Metal Jacket was with the fam when we lived in Massachussetts. Jon and I were teens by then, so we weren't getting whacked upside the head quite as often as we used to (the whack upside the head was for minor infractions...say "yes m'am" when your mother addresses you, get into gear already, pipe down and do your homework, etc.). The whack, or cascudo, the traditional Brazilian whack, which involves making the "noogie-fist," with the knuckles of the index and middle fingers sticking out a bit, and delivering a sharp rap down onto the skull. H'mmm good.

It was a form of punishment that was passing out of vogue, since we were both such dignified young men. Something new was needed, and my father was inspired by the above-mentioned film to start us on push-ups in lieu of whacks. One of us would tell a joke that was just a little too crude for the dinner table (which happened often, that line being very subjective in my father's home), and we'd be on the ground, counting out push-ups while yelling "one, two, three, four, I love the Marine Corps!"

Those were the days. 1992?

Years later, probably the sighing days of the nineties, I was reading a reporter's memoirs of his time in the Viet Nam war (it's not a question for most wars, but is the war in Viet Nam called a war or a War?), very colorfully and poetically written...beautiful, really. He spent much of his time in the Highlands with the USMC, and was at Khe Sanh. This reporter told a story in his book, Dispatches, of a helicopter door-gunner who spent an entire flight on which the writer was a passenger firing off his M-60 at Vietnamese in the fields. When asked, How can you shoot women and children?, the gunner answered, Easy, you just don't lead them as much. Up to that point, I'd read a couple of anecdotes that really seemed familiar, but when I read that story, with that wording, I stopped. Author: Michael Herr...ah...that Michael Herr. All that to say, if you enjoyed Full Metal Jacket, you really oughta read Dispatches.