FFPC16 - War Games

Intro by John Roderick

For the whole run of this program we have danced around the question of whether the Cold War was a war. Was it? It wasn't, I guess! But for me at least, growing up in its midst, there aren't many comparables by which to describe it to people who weren't there. It wasn't peacetime, exactly, not when there were no fewer than 57 card-carrying communists in the State Department!

Was it an uneasy peace? I'm not sure "uneasy" is quite the right adjective to describe the effect of being told throughout your childhood that you might, on any given afternoon, have 20 minutes to live. No, the Cold War was something different, and as it fades into the shadows of some implausible prehistory, I find myself clutching at its pant cuffs, begging it to show itself. Did I dream the whole thing? Is this the Snuffleupagus we were warned again and again would seem real to us, but would leave no trunk prints on the tablecloth?

Is the Cold War just a melody from a dream that you wake up to record on your nightstand tape recorder only to find in the morning that it sounds like the bass line from the theme from Kojak? The Cold War is our three feet of snow that we waded through every day to school and back, yet despite it being in a handful of books on the four pages covering everything from Hitler to Obama that you cover in the last week of school before summer, I am horrified to find that it already sounds not quite true.

It is not like the Cold War was the only time in history that an apocalypse was pending. It has been on tomorrow's weather forecast for Jerusalem for 2500 years. It is a big part of the enticing sales pitch of certain religions that the end of the world is nigh. I imagine being a devout member of an apocalyptic cult is very like being a kid in the 1970s: Grown-ups are describing in whispers how we are all going to die in fire-tornadoes for something we didn't do, and it doesn't matter what we say or how sorry we are: There is nothing that can be done. At least religions offer you door number two where you get the wings and the virgins and the unlimited chewing tobacco or whatever else you want, whereas the best the Cold War could ever offer us was that it didn't happen today, but it might happen tonight while you are sleeping.

It is astonishing, the number of people I recall who said things like: "I hope the bomb just lands right on top of me because I don't want to live in the aftermath!" That was some wise sounding shit to say in 1982, but it always sounded like horseshit to me. You are telling me that you combed your hair every day and never spat on the ground and tithed properly and punched your time card and drove an Oldsmobile, even though you could afford a Lincoln, and now you are just a compliant moo-cow when Time magazine tells you the Soviets have missiles in your Strawberry Quick? You don't at any time in your life want to stand up and scream: "I want to live!"?

You see how complicated this was for a child to understand? The Born Agains told me all about the rapture, but the newspaper told me about the more likely rapture where instead of abandoning their cars and flying directly to heaven, the elect were also going to be charred, rotting, and radioactive corpses, and those of us left behind would have to shovel them and their Oldsmobiles out of the way as we hunted through the rubble for canned ravioli and uncontaminated baby food.

Well, anyway: I embrace all faiths. The point is that maybe the most profoundly disheartening aspect of the Cold War was the lingering whiff throughout that the death clock counting down the seconds was just the product of an unwinnable argument between personally unlikable 19th century British and German economists, emboldened by the American and French revolutions to imagine a world without flatulent kings and tzars, in favour of conflicting visions of rational governments in a free exchange of goods and services between noble and principled comrades, able to subjugate their naked self-interest and animal violence to the betterment of their fellows and all the world's children.

"Huzzah!" to whichever of these theories proved correct ultimately and ushered in the Philosopher's Gardens where we all raised the vegetables of fellowship and dined upon the century and a half of enlightened self-rule that presaged us here, now, in 2020, the ripe banana at the fat end of the Horn of Utopia.

Anyway: This movie makes the whole thing seem like a movie, by which I mean that these days every movie, including rom-coms and the great steps of Disney Princesstan and the cold vacuum of the Elmo verse: They all have the central premise that the world is about to detonate, everyone will cartoon-die, the blood-wave will sweep away the unrighteous, and demons will have sex with you in your dreams unless two plucky teens and their computer Joshua can save an unwitting world from radioactive rapture ravioli and make it home in dad's Oldsmobile without even getting to second base before military agents impose curfew on your town.

Honestly, it has occurred to me that maybe the Cold War wasn't actually real. My dad never mentioned it. No-one ever sat me down and said: "John, here is the plan: We all meet in our own basement next to the 50 days worth of water we are stockpiling!" Like: My mom has 500 bandaids, but never once explained what we do if the world caught on fire. They just went to work every day and stressed about my grades and whether my sister was smoking pot, and how was I going to get into law school with grades like that? Maybe the whole thing was a prank, a gaslight, to play on 12 year olds so we couldn't imagine a future and would end up wallowing in Grunge instead of questioning the deregulation of banks. "Is it a game or is it real?" Today on Friendly Fire: War Games.


B: Welcome to Friendly Fire, the trillion dollar war movie podcast that is at the mercy of three men with little brass keys. I am Ben Harrison,…

A: …, I am Adam Pranica.

J: Turn your key, sir! I am John Roderick.

Turn your key, sir! The opening scene

A: Why wasn't it three men with keys? That brings up a great point, Ben. Why is it just two? It should be the three man rule. You want an odd number, right!

J: No, you got to pay that extra guy!

B: This is the first time I have seen the keys spaced far enough apart that one person couldn't do them just by putting both keys in either hand.

J: That is the point of it!

B: But when you see them in submarine movies, it is two guys that are standing directly next to each other, going: ”One, two, three, turn!”

J: There is no place on a submarine that two guys can be further apart than arm's length.

B: Yeah, that is probably the issue.

J: That is the thing about that scene: If Michael Madsen does actually shoot his commanding officer, then the missile still won't launch, so the gun is really an empty threat in that situation. ”Turn your key, sir!” - ”What are you going to do? Shoot me? Then you are locked down here with a dead guy and you still didn't launch the missiles!”

B: He got a pool cue in his other hand, trying to hit the key!

J: Yeah, exactly!

When the hosts saw the movie

A: Was this a regular watch for you guys in the 1980s and 1990s? I feel like I saw this movie all the time and yet that opening scene surprised me, watching it this time. I had forgotten that it existed. It was the reason for the movie!

J: Mm hmm

B: I have seen this movie one other time, but I didn't remember it at all, and I definitely didn't remember that scene and it really surprised me how serious in tone this movie is the way it kicks off. Its rep is that it is a kid movie for kids, but it got some pretty grim ideas in it.

J: Yeah. It is not a kid movie at all. I saw this movie in the theater, it was the spring of my 9th grade year.

A: That is just perfect timing!

J: I was a 9th grader and this and 1983, it was peek Reagan Cold War, I was living in Alaska, I had just stopped regularly going to Civil Air Patrol meetings, they still sounded the air raid sirens every Friday at noon, you could still hear the jets take off from Elmendorf at full afterburner when they were going up to intercept those bear bombers, and so this movie was extremely palpable and that opening scene absolutely hit me like a lightning bolt.

Another twenty minutes and we were going to start looking for you guys!

J: I routinely think about that opening scene and have ever since 1983. It is one of the images in my head that pops up and I will say: ”Turn your key, sir!” any time it seems like I need somebody to do something and they are not acting fast enough.

B: I remember you yelling that a lot sound checking for live shows.

J: Turn your key, sir!

B: That opening scene is based on real events, right? There are examples in history of a guy in a bunker that made the right call, having no information to base his decision on, that prevented the bombs from going off.

J: Well, even more: They did run tests where they did precisely that, put their crews to the test. Would they turn their key or not? And they discovered that a quarter of the people didn't, even when that was their only job.

A: That was a really neat scene in the movie when they post game that in their boardroom and they are kicking around the idea: Statistically, the probability of all of the guys doing what they are ordered to do…

J: The argument that that scene is making, the whole plot of the movie, is that this subset of military planners and bureaucrats believes that the fact that there are human beings in the chain of command only makes us weak. That was an argument that was being made on the editorial page of The New York Times. That is the premise behind Dr. Strangelove. My whole life the idea of being vulnerable to a surprise attack from the Russians and not being able to get those missiles off in time to completely annihilate them before we were completely annihilated, it was in the water we drank.

A: It is so interesting how elegant the tic tac toe analogy is to this film story where a film like Crimson Tide uses von Clausewitz to make its arguments. This film cuts in exactly the opposite direction and still makes an almost equally strong case for itself and its argument. What a perfect analogy for a 9th grader to grasp in order to understand these issues!

J: The 9th grader in me did not see the big plot holes because the movie is very serious and it somehow manages to be fun and an adventurous romp, like a teen sex comedy almost, whilst also really savagely indicting the whole military industrial cult.

B: I wished we had watched this right on the heels of Dr. Strangelove for that reason because I feel like they are coming from a very similar place and go about telling their story in such radically different ways. It is amazing that you can do that!

The Professor Falken character

A: I thought it was a total reversal of expectations to have not the Barry Corbin character as the nihilist willing to destroy the Earth, but instead making the thinking scientist person that character, that it is Professor Falken that is willing to sit in his leather recliner three miles away from a nuclear target, almost relishing the idea of nature turning humanity back into the soil and starting all over again. It seems like a really edgy thing to give to an 1980s audience, right? That is a reversal of character type that I wasn't expecting!

J: When you think of Dr. Strangelove as being a biting satire, and I think we talked about it in our Dr. Strangelove episode, it is hard to watch it now and remember that a Cold War audience was as sophisticated as they were, and this is, for exactly the reasons you describe Adam, not a satire, but a really heavy indictment of not just the military industrial complex, but the nihilism that comes into a world where it feels like nuclear war is inevitable. How can you be a smart thinking person and… It is analogous somewhat to the way people talk about climate change now. When I was in high school I remember my high school girlfriend said that she didn't want to have kids because why would you bring kids into a world where they were just going to have to live in a post-nuclear apocalypse.

A: Well, girls were saying anything to get out of having sex with you, John!

J: Well, I know, and it worked because I started to cry and then the date was over.

B: You just went off and ruminated about the proposed nuclear apocalypse?

J: I ruminated about it until I finally lost my virginity at 29.

J: There is a lot of that talk now where the smart thinking people are saying like: ”Well, the jig is up! There is no point anymore!”, and that kind of ”There is no point” aspect to Professor Falken is the thing that galvanizes our heroes finally. It is not even trying to stop the war, it is just being so frustrated with his boomer reticence.

A: It sure seems like David and Jennifer's meeting with Professor Falken fails to convince him, but then he does end up coming around.

J: When she invokes Joshua it causes him to realize that his fatalism is largely because his kid died, and if his kid was still alive maybe he wouldn't be so cavalier about the human race. When he comes back down the stairs and watches them leave, I feel like that is what he is thinking about.

A: Yeah, I was obsessed with that pterodactyl RC plane that he had for a long time. That things looked great!

B: When he is revealed with the remote controller for that thing, I turned to my wife and said: ”Look, it is old Adam Pranica!” and I got a big laugh.

A: Oh, God, if only!

J: It really is! And then when he says: ”You are on my property and you weren't invited, please leave!” I was like…: ”Old Adam!” The geography in this movie is pretty good, although a lot of the things that are supposed to be Seattle are really filmed in Los Angeles.

Moment of pedantry about the geography of the Oregon coast

B: I was a little caught up on the fact that they seemingly took him to Colorado without telling his parents or giving him the option of having a council present.

J: There is some of that that is a little flaky, but geographically the freakiest thing is that Dr. Falken is on the Oregon coast somewhere, but there is no place on the Oregon coast that looks anything like that and they have to take a ferry boat out to see him and there are no ferry boats on the Oregon coast or any geography that looks even remotely like that, no islands, really.

B: I have an adjacent goof to your pedantic quibble, John. Another Internet pedant noticed something else wrong about that: ”When David is in the phone booth in the middle of nowhere in Colorado, he pronounces the name of Oregon two different ways in less than a minute. To the directory assistance operator he says Goose Island, Oregon, the correct pronunciation. However, when he calls Jennifer, he says Salem, Oregon!” (Oregahn)

J: That clanged in my ears when I was 13. Oregahn?

When then hosts saw the movie (continued)

J: How old were you Ben when you first saw this movie, do you think?

B: I am guessing I saw it in college on DVD. It is one of those movies like The Goonies that I just didn't see as a kid. This came out the year I was born and I did not see it when I was a kid, so I think I rented it in college just to quiet all the people who were like. ”What? You never saw war games?”

A: It seems like the sort of movie that your parents would have shown you because in many ways David is like the precocious Berkeley kid: Too smart for his own good, you know?

B: My dad just wanted to watch Ocean's Eleven and Dr. Strangelove and stuff! They weren't seeking out contemporary culture to expose me to because they checked out of it when they had me.

J: When Nixon got impeached? And Adam, you saw it in the 1990s, I am guessing, or did you see it in the 1980s?

A: I remember watching this movie all the time on TV. It was a frequent watch for me.

J: But is that 1980s or 1990s frequent watch?

A: It would have to be early 1990. I don't think you are showing this movie to a 10-year old, are you?

B: When you were watching it, did it feel like a scary war film to you or was it like: ”This is a scary thing that could still happen?”

A: Well, here is what it was: It was like so many other 1980s movies where the smart precocious kid character is smarter than the adults in the room and needs to convince them of that, using whatever means necessary. That was the genre, this was not of genre ”war film” for me at that age. This was just a type of movie that I watched all the time.

David and Jennifer’s relationship, introducing computer hacking

J: This was the first time I ever heard of computer hacking. It was the first time I ever saw a modem. It was the first time I ever heard of the idea that you could go change your grades through hacking into a computer,…

B: When you saw Ally Sheedy you became aware of sex.

J: We now have the manic pixie dream girl meme to indict the whole idea that you have an exciting and dynamic short-haired girl that comes into your world and makes the middle aged male protagonist turn on his head, but Ally Sheedy was the first strong female lead of my moviegoing childhood. She was not a computer hacker, she wasn't a fellow nerd, she was not even that into it what he was doing, but she also was the most captivating co-conspirator with him. I just fell head over heels not just with her but with the idea of her. After I walked out of War Games, I felt the ghost of Ally Sheedy not being in my life.

B: I grew up watching a lot of movies like this where the boy character was doing a thing that was interesting and technical while the girl looked over his shoulder and I would always go like: ”I do dorky technical shit all the time! There is no beautiful girl looking over my shoulder! What gives?”

J: But there is very much a sense in this movie that Ally Sheedy outranks him. She is the get right. We hadn't yet invented the idea that he was going to be a billionaire yet.

A: I really liked that there was no seduction to them. The thing about Jennifer and David is that they are just together doing a thing, and neither one of them is trying to seduce the other. This felt like a unique quality, especially in an 1980s movie, whether or not you are a dork of a main character, you are trying to win over someone else: ”God, if I could just make her like me or notice me at all!”, and David doesn't do anything! Jennifer joggs up into his bedroom. He doesn't make that happen at all.

J: And not just because he was preventing a war!

A: Maybe the best part of that is that you are dropped in medias res of their relationship. You get that first scene in the classroom where they are both making fun of the teacher. They are sharing in that joy when you really take a teacher down publicly, there is nothing better than that. You just get a sense that they have been tight for a long time and it is completely absent, that chase and withdraw component. It was great and it felt real.

B: They have bigger fish to fry than Cherchez la femme, I guess!

J: The movie does feel real, but at no point does David ever ask Joshua if he can just stop playing the game. When he realizes Joshua is playing the game still he never says: ”Cancel!”

B: ”Save and quit!”

J: When Joshua says: ”Are you still playing the game?” and Joshua goes: ”Yes, of course!” he has a look on his face where he is like: ”Oh, no!”, but he never says: ”Quit!” If there had just been that scene and the computer had said: ”I cannot because of a prime directive!”…

B: … then you zap the P-RAM, that is the next step. There is a sequence of things you try!

A: I wonder if that is a contemporary seeing this with modern eyes because this is a film that introduced all of those technologies that you described earlier, John. No one had ever seen what a modem looked like before this movie and what it is like to use a computer to dial 10.000 phone numbers. This is all brand new stuff and I don't know if you are watching this movie, if you see him hang up the phone the way he does, he takes it off of the modem cradle and hangs it up, if you don't assume that that is the same thing as what we would consider quitting the game or turning off a computer.

J: I think you are very right. The idea that the computer once it was running was unstoppable, I probably accepted that idea hook, line and sinker. I didn't need to be told that. So you are right! I think you just answered my own question for me!

David’s parents, rich teenage kids in 1980s movies

A: We were talking about the reality of the characters. One pair of characters I want to talk about before moving on is David's parents who are maybe the most lived-in, most fully realized minor characters in a movie that we have seen in a long time. I feel like I have known them for 20 years! They have two scenes! They are incredible and they are incredible together.

J: When the dad steps out on the porch in his wide-well corduroys with his cardigan sweater I was just like: ”It is Ben Harrison’s fantasy outfit!”

B: I was taking notes, to be sure, and then I noticed that David had a very similar pair of pants on when Jennifer went upstairs.

A: They are that progressive leaning, like: ”It is okay that a girl goes up to David's room. It is not going to be a big deal!” They are cool like that.

J: Mom is a career-woman who clearly is actually bringing home the bacon in the house.

A: And his dad had that technology of buttering the corn. I think that set a trend for the next 20 years. I think you talk about introducing modem technology to the world, this introduced corn buttering technology to the world in a way that has never been seen before!

J: I love that corn buttering scene! His line: ”Why don't we take vitamin pills and cook the corn?” Funniest line in the movie!

A: So great, yeah!

B: I like a nice raw corn. I disagree with the dad in that in that moment!

A: Wow! You can go sit in the corner with your raw corn!

B: Both parents have to work because David has so much expensive gear in his teenager bedroom.

A: You get the feeling that Christmas is very generous.

B: They are giving him $25.000 worth of computer crap every Christmas.

A: If he is getting allowance based on good grades… He is definitely not being rewarded for his scholastic achievements, right?

J: There is an 1980s film suburban white kid that is just a little bit richer than you would expect. David in this movie has his own bathroom. Ferris Bueller had that incredible stereo system. Cameron's dad owned a vintage Ferrari.

B: Ferris Bueller changed his absence record a computer in a very similar hacking scene.

J: He did!

A: But John, did you ever grow up with a friend who was a RadioShack kid? Because I knew RadioShack kids and I think one of the best parts of being one is that you knew that the parts that you bought there were cheap. Part of the believability to David's bedroom is: How expensive could that shit have been at RadioShack?

J: It was $25.000 worth of computer equipment in 1981 dollars. It is just the size and scale of the houses. These are really rich kids! I thought about it watching it. In the eighties I don't think we interrogated that. Today I think if you made any of those movies and set the protagonists incidentally in really rich neighborhoods… their richness is not part of the plot. Thre is zero class conflict in this movie, everybody is living in the same world, it is just a world where teens can buy airplane tickets for their friends. He is like: ”Buy me a plane ticket!” and she is like: ”No problem!”

B: The ticket to Paris was $1100 and I was like: ”That is what I would expect a ticket to Paris from Seattle to be in 2019!”

J: No Internet pedant seemed to pick up on this, but the ticket itself was from Chicago to Paris.

A: Yeah. Why did he do it that way?

J: I don't know! It made me feel briefly like that was some kind of goof because Ferris Bueller lived in Chicago, or maybe it was foreshadowing!

A: It felt to me like this is something he never intended on going through with by setting the departure airport as a city that is not his own he is not actually going to have to go through with flying to Paris with her. He just wanted to prove his elite hacksor skills.

B: He is pretty elite!

A: The thing that Ally Sheedy does that is unforgivable is touch his monitor! She does this early on and you just can't do that, Jennifer!

J: come on! None of us have even heard of hacking at this point. Of course she is going to touch the monitor! That is something we didn't learn until the 2000s

B: …, and now we are unlearning it because everything is a touch screen.

A: I have to admit I fell just a little bit out of love with her in that moment. Still very in love with her…

J: I lost a lot of respect for David when he missed that one spaceship in the challenging stage of Galaga. I was like: ”Come on! You are all set up there! I know you are distracted, but you have got to get all those little red dudes in the challenging stage!” They are the easy ones. They are not shooting back at you yet. Also, he left three players when he bailed out of that game that time.

B: That little kid owes him big time.

The fear of the Cold War

J: This movie presumes that everyone going to watch it is soaking in fear. What is incredible about it is that you can watch it today, not soaked in that particular kind of fear.

B: Oh, we got our own brand of fear in 2020!

J: You got your own fears now, that is right, but you can watch this movie and it is not a requirement. The fear of all of the stuff that is in this movie has dissipated to the point of it feeling… I honestly can't tell: If you are 24 and watching this movie, does it feel super vintage, old fashioned what are they talking about, or does it feel just like a teen movie that instead of trying to put on a dance and deal with a neighborhood bully they are trying to prevent global annihilation? I can't situate myself anywhere other than where I am with it.

B: The documentary I have been working on for a few years, my subject talks a lot about this time and living right near nuclear submarine bases, Joint Base Lewis McChord in the Pacific Northwest and being pretty sure that if it went down they would be in the blast radius of the first ICBMs and how the thing that he did with his friends at lunch was ”draw your fantasy bunker!” What are the defenses? How do you prevent you and your buddies from annihilation? The head space of that is very dark, but the combined creeping fascism / also the global warming / the global pandemic of today feels like a coequal but different existential threat and I can't imagine a movie that is this optimistic in tone being made about contemporary concerns. (J: Interesting!) It would feel condescending or something. I don't know.

J: The optimism is based on the idea that the problems that we were facing in the Cold War were a product of a collective insanity and that that collective insanity was small bad decisions piling one on top of the other until we believed something crazy, but that everybody had good intentions. If you think about everyone in this movie…

B: … they will listen to reason when they hear it. It takes letting the first missiles drop to see if they were in fact real for them to see it in this movie, and that is a dramatic peak, but all of the technocrats that built this command and control apparatus are willing to re-evaluate their beliefs at the end of this movie…

J: … because even the worst person in this movie wants to survive and have a good life for their kids and a picket fence and there is not even a Buck Turgidson (from Dr. Strangelove), there is nobody in the movie that just wants to have war for fun, except for Falken. There is no one in the movie that wants to have war for weird philosophical reasons. Everybody else just feels like they are just doing their job and it is a crazy world. You have heard the stories, right? That Reagan watched this movie in the White House. He screened it on Saturday night, he and Nancy sat down in their comfy chairs and were like: ”Let's watch War Games!”…

B: …with their TV trays and their microwave dinners…

J: … and they watched it and it blew his mind and he called a meeting of the defense establishment and said: ”Is this possible? Could this happen this way?” Unfortunately it was Reagan, so he didn't do the thing where he was like: ”Let's dismantle this crazy nuclear armament and live together in peace!”, he was like:” I know! We need Star Wars!” But it was a question of this collective insanity actually being a matter that you could imagine that we would all wake up, that we would shake our heads and say like: ”What have we been thinking?”

B: I had a conversation with my father recently about how much less optimism it seems possible to feel about the world when you are at my age than it did when he was my age. My father lately has been extremely fixated on bad news. Whenever I talk to him he wants to talk about murder hornets and fascism and pandemics and I sometimes have to say like: ”Dad, can you lighten up? I can't focus on all of the reasons that I don't feel like I have a future all the time!” and to him it is all he wants to think about and talk about. And I think maybe there is some reassurance watching War Games that over the course of the time he has been on Earth problems as big as this have come and seemingly gone.

A: But the problems that remain have become more entrenched. I wonder if having seen time move the way he has for as long as he has is a reason for his fixation. Some things have been able to be fixed during his life, but others remain and have gotten worse.

B: They don't feel like their finger is hovering over the button, though, now. This movie came out where it is like: ”It could be gone like that snipping fingers! Everything gone before you even know that it is about to be gone!”

A: And it is such a different quality to existential dread to think that in a movie like this it is smart people and a smart piece of technology that fuck it up somehow. Existential dread today is stupid people doing a stupid thing that kills us all.

J: The saddest moment in the movie when I watched it as a teen and when I watch it now is the scene when they are sitting on the beach in Goose Island and he says: ”I wish I was just a regular person. I wish I didn't know, so I wouldn't have to sit here and feel regret for everything that I am losing!” and when she when is yelling at Falken and she says: ”I am only 17, I haven't done anything yet!”, watching that at the age of 13 I felt my heart burst. It was inconceivable in 1983 that at some point in the near future we wouldn't have to live through an apocalypse. Maybe it was because I was a teenager, but the idea that my life wasn't going to be interrupted either by burning alive or by living in a world where every one I knew and loved had burned alive and I somehow was limping through the wreckage, those just seemed like two very, very viable futures!

B: I think you would be Mad Max in it, John!

J: Oh, dude, I totally would, but let's save that for another show! I think a contemporary audience now listening to that, it is very hard to imagine who that ever could have actually been reality. Now we think about climate change and Trump’s fascism and all these things and they all seem insurmountable and terrible and inevitable, but there is nothing really to compare to: ”With no notice at all there is a bright flash in the sky and the entire world is burning!” and that was as real to us as anything. It was absolutely real! The thing about older people now being obsessed with the news or whatever, one of the things I have learned growing up and watching the Boomers before me is that when you are young you expect that as people age they will become wiser and they will collect wisdom unto themselves throughout their lives, and what I have learned from watching the Boomers is that being old does not confer wisdom and the Boomers as a generation have become less wise as they have gotten older.

B: Well, this is great for my dad because he is not a Boomer!

J: No, no! The Silent Generation just gets wiser, but I am talking about like: ”Who is QAnon?” QAnon are the same exact people that protested Vietnam in 1971. It is the same generation, somehow they have become stupider as they have gotten older. I don't know how! We are all drinking the same water! I don't feel stupider! Maybe we are not drinking the same water, maybe because I have been using Brita filters since the 1990s…

B: … maybe your brain isn't quite so rotten as theirs!

J: It is really interesting, Ben, what you say, because what the Cold War did was focus us. All of the other problems: classism, racism, global inequality, feminism, feminisium, Disco music, saxophone, reckless folly, all of it was subsumed under the big problem, which was: ”Are we going to survive as a race of people or as a species?” and taking away that common pressure, the Balkanization of concerns, it did in some ways make the 1980s a simpler time.

B: Thinking back on the contemporaneous films of this era that we have watched, I am looking at our list: First Blood, Come and See, other early to mid 1980s movies that we have seen are so far away from this thing that I can't imagine being anything but everyone's primary concern. When your thoughts wander you start to think about the bomb and it doesn't seem that way, it seems like people got on, kept doing things, going to church, making movies.

J: But those movies that you reference: The bomb is very present in Rambom it is very present in Come and See, obviously.

B: How about Conan the Barbarian?

J: It is there! If you want to look at those movies and put a filter on it that says: ”Look for the anxiety of a people who believe the world might come to an end!”, all those movies… that anxiousness is there and I think the turn to fantasy in films, the hard right swing to swords and sorcery and science fiction, a lot of what propelled us in that direction was a need for some kind of escapism and a belief that the world could come to an end, but does Conan take place in the future? Battlestar Galactica takes place in the past and so did Star Wars, which means that maybe civilizations blow up.

The movie soundtrack

B: The music in this movie is very centered in the soundtrack. Every emotion is attended by some music cue, but the score is also living in the Star Wars universe in the way it is orchestrated. I mean, it is just the era, I guess, but it helped me enjoy this movie because it doesn't feel entirely real.

A: So you are saying that the score helped distance the scary realities from it and placed it into more of a science fiction realm for you?

B: I didn't place it in science fiction, but it placed it in this era where… the films that I grew up with while sounded like this and were fun movies. It is not a huge outlier in terms of its orchestration, it felt very cozy and of its time.

J: Yeah, it is funny. The movie does not locate itself in 1983 by playing Devo and Blondie or whatever. It doesn't try to soundtrack you into a cool youth culture.

The influence of this film on John and other teenagers when it came out

A: I wonder how much damage characters and situations like this did to the public school system industrial complex because the thing about David that makes him so aspirational to a kid watching this movie is that the lie of the letter grade doesn't apply to him. David is smart, or if he is not smart, he is skilled, and those skills are given an equal weight to the skills of the adults that are around him. The idea that it is so unjust that David would get an F in science when clearly he is so smart. I wonder to what extent that inspired a bunch of kids to reject the grade system in some way. It is not like that actually happened. It is not like kids rejected the grade system. But I wonder, to a student like you John, how much easier was it for you to reject that system when you had models like this in the movies that you saw that actually showed you a path to success and love by going your own way, if you just only had a telephone and a modem cradle in your bedroom, that you were just as good.

J: My mom was a computer programmer and she bought me an IBM PC with 64K and two smaller disk drives than this guy had. He had 8”disk drives. What are you? Some kind of DJ? We had 5.25” disks. I was that kid. We were prosperous middle class people. My parents were divorced, but I had a computer in my house. I was programming in CPM before we even had DOS.

A: Computers per minute?

J: Yeah, computers per minute, that is what it was! And I was the same character. I was a failure in school. Teachers tried to humiliate me to get me to behave, when I sat down in the chair outside the principal's office and the principal came out the principal sighed and slumped their shoulders and said: ”Mr. Roderick! What a surprise!” So when I watched this movie I was being handed an absolute plate of M&Ms. Everything about this guy is what I either thought I was or dreamed I was. The only difference was: He was a little bit older, his house was a little bit nicer, and he had a girl who liked him. Oh, and also: He actually made it into NORAD headquarters in Colorado Springs and changed the future of the world, which is what I imagined was going to happen in my junior year. That was the difference between being a freshman and a junior to me: ”Somehow by the time I get to be a junior, I will be on the geopolitical stage!”

B: You will be crawling around in the ductwork of the Cheyenne Mountain complex.

J: Yeah! And the thing was: By the time I was a junior, I did have a smart girlfriend, I just never learned to program computers.

A: It is fucking crazy how at all times there is always a Principal Strickland on your ass. This guy always got cast as that role.

J: It is really weird that honestly the only thing when I was a teenager that told me I was okay was this movie and to a lesser extent Ferris Bueller, these movies, like: ”Teen loser that actually has a heart of gold.” they did a better job than any adult in my life of saying: ”It is okay, you are going to be fine!”

B: This is something I have wondered if it has changed about American childhood: When I was growing up I also felt that if I didn't perfectly do school and fit in and do all the things the adults told me that I was going to have a life of despair and misery when I became an adult. And I think that the adults in my life were highly motivated to really make me believe that and then there were movies in my life like Ferris Bueller and later this that said not that. I probably wasn't cut out for a square job as an engineer at the Rand Corporation, and therefore nobody should have been trying to prepare me for that life. I wish they could have seen earlier that starting a bunch of nonsense projects would be the thing I did as an adult and became my job.

J: That is the thing! They didn't! And I think these days, when I look at my daughter and she says something bonkers, she walks out on the street and she says: ”All of the pill bugs in this neighborhood need to get on the program and curl up into the balls at the same time!” and I go: ”Huh, that sounds crazy!”, but what I say to her is like: ”Maybe one day you will be director of Pill Bugs!” and she looks over at me and shrugs and scowls at me and is like: ”That is the stupidest thing anybody has ever said!” and skateboards off and I go: ”Oh, wow!” My dad would have looked at me and said: ”Go to law school!”

Radar reports two unknown tracks are penetrating the Alaskan air defense!

A: How subversive do you think this film was in that respect, or do you think it was just accidentally subversive? One of the interesting parts of this film is that it does not just isolate David as his own unique person with his own unique qualities, but there is a track for him in life. When he goes and meets the Maury Chaconne character, those are adult people who have adult jobs that he works with, and there is a professional track for him to follow that seems hopeful.

J: You can just see the beginning of it. Those two guys at the University of Washington who are working in the computer lab who the movie clearly is making fun of,…

A: That is cruel if that is the case, those are two of the most lovable characters in the whole thing!

J: Well, they are, but if you think about those two and the guy that works on WOPR directly.

A: Yeah, this movie is unkind to those.

J: Well, the thing is: The three of them are the in some ways the first time you ever see on film a computer nerd and somehow they established the three kinds of computer nerd they are that we continue to use to this day. All we needed was one of those guys to be in Punisher T-shirt.

B: A Punisher T-shirt and yellow glasses!

A: They don't even give him a chair. He is in the WOPR room his entire shift. He never sits down?

J: All he ever does is come into the room and go: ”The computers is out of control!”, but I don't think when David goes to see the computer lab guys and he says: ”Hey, can you hang out over here for a second? These guys are a little skittish!” they are establishing these characters for all time and David clearly does not want to go down this road. He is like there, he wants their advice, but he is a new generation, somebody that is going to be into computers that also is not in a Punisher T-shirt.

A: he is Ken Griffey Jr. wearing his hat backwards, playing baseball. All of the old nerds don't know what to do when a girl walks in.

J: Yeah, it is a whole different thing. It is such a brief moment in this movie, but it really established… because in 1983 there were computer labs in my schools and the kids that were there all the time were nerds and this was before nerd even was a thing, but you knew that they were nerds, and the idea of there being a cool dude who also knew computers was in the air. I don't think anybody knew one yet, but the idea was there that one day there might be a cool dude that also knew computers. And the power of it, the nascent tempting power: What would it be like to be both cool and to know computers? I think we still wonder to this day!

A: We may never know!

B: It is a bit what the Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man is trying to be: Also billionaire, but the idea that he is a guy's guy.

A: One thing we know for sure is: There will never be a cool billionaire! That is just a fucking fantasy!

B: Thinking back on that movie, I wonder if you could in 2020 start the MCU off with a: ”Hey, check out this cool billionaire who builds a war suit and saves the world!”

Practical effects inside Cheyenne Mountain, John in the Civil Air Patrol

A: One of the things I read about this movie is that the technology inside Cheyenne Mountain with the screens was created for the film. Vector based rear projection technology, specifically, was not of the quality that it was as depicted in this film. All of the effects work that happens inside the room, with how bright the flashes are with what they are looking at on the screen, that is all practical. It is happening in the room and it is that bright and it is that sharp. I thought that was amazing!

B: That is super cool!

J: It is a cool looking movie!

B: That room looks amazing. My wife spends one day of work every week in a control room for the city and when this stuff came up on the screen, I was like: ”Is this just like work?” and she is like: ”Boy, I wish!” This looked very cool to her.

A: One aspect to the climax of the film that I really liked when WOPR is playing the game at hyper speed is that you still get the quality of the blinding white flash.

B: Yeah, those circles appearing over American cities as the simulated bombs drop. That scene is extremely scary!

A: It really is. It is so effective!

B: … a testament to how well told this story is, that you are sitting, feeling that fear with them as they… you know for a fact watching it that this is a simulation run amuck and you are feeling it just as much as they are who are not sure about that.

J: Here is where I take us on a little journey down through John's photo album: In 1981 I was still pretty active in the Alaska wing of the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program and the summer of 1981, the cadets of my wing, the Elmendorf Wing, went on an encampment where we spent two weeks living in the old rotten World War II era barracks at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks and during that two weeks we lived as soldiers, we wore uniforms, we were awoken in the morning by reveille, we ran downstairs and got into formation and got yelled at by our drill sergeants and the whole thing. It was boot camp larping.

B: Did anyone unscrew your head and shit down your neck?

J: No, but of all kinds of fucked up pranks and whatnot. It was summer camp, but it wasn't fun because there were people yelling at you all the time. This was what my parents thought would be good for me. I enjoyed it. But every day they would take us around Eielson and show us different aspects of what it was like to be in the Air Force. One day we spent with the fire department, putting out a simulated airplane crashes, and then they took us out to Fort Wainwright and we fired howitzers one day, they took us up in airplanes and a couple of lucky kids got to ride in a T-33. That was the time when I went up in a KC 135 and there were four of us who got down in the bay and actually controlled the refueling boom, it was absolutely summercamp for military nerds. But the highlight for us was: At the time Eielson was a strategic air command base, not a forward base, but they had a strategic air command command center that was a duplicate of what was at Cheyenne Mountain, and we had to go through the whole thing: You walk up, there is a camera, the speaker says: ”Are you under duress?” Someone had to explain to us what the word duress meant. They let us in one at a time into a tiny little box.

B: ”No, sir, I am wearing a shirt and pants!”

J: What do you mean, a dress? You went through this thing where you went into a room, the door behind you locked, then the door here unlocked, you went in, somebody was looking at you through bulletproof glass and then that door had to lock and you went in a third… All this different crazy stuff, and then we were in the big room where the two story tall lit-up map of Alaska was where there was a little dot with numbers under it for every single aircraft in the sky over the entirety of Alaska and Bering Sea. They had every little plane identified and were tracking it. Being in that space, and this was before WarGames came out and I had never seen Dr. Strangelove, so I had no visual sense of this before being ushered into this room, and sitting there, the lights all dim, watching this map, and not even believing that it was possible that you could see every airplane in the sky from one place and they all had little numbers. And the guy would say: If you see a plane that doesn't have a number, that is an unidentified aircraft, the transponder isn't squawking or whatever. And then at night, every night, we would go to the mess hall, we would eat dinner, and then we would have a half an hour at our own discretion, and in the lobby out in front of the mess hall there was a Missile Command game and we would line up and play Missile Command, take turns and while one person was playing Missile Command all the other cadets would crowd around and watch.

B: … and that Missile Command game was the highest concentration of quarters per square foot in the Western Hemisphere.

J: And honestly, looking back at it, I have thought about this a lot over the years, I don't think any of us appreciated the irony or even appreciated the Kismet: playing Missile Command outside of the Strategic Air Command headquarters for Alaska. None of us made the connection that that was at all weird or appropriate.

A: I betcha every adult in that room did, though!

J: Missile Command was a new game, it was cool that they had it.

B: The arcade version of that is vector graphics too, the look like what they had in up on the big board in War Games?

J: Looked exactly like it! When you see those missiles coming in and the white flash of the cities blowing up, it looks just like Missile Command, and Missile Command seemed like a really new game to us at the time. This is a pre-Defendor universe when you are playing Space Invaders, basically. Seeing all that represented in War Games and having been there already in my own life, I felt like those special effects were… that was exactly what it looked like, and it felt so much realer, like chills up the back of your neck real. That opening scene where the guys drove up in the Jeep in front of some little house out on the prairie and they walk in and there is a secret door…

B: a secret mirror that they present their credentials to.

J: … none of that needed explaining to us.

A: I love that there is degrees of secrecy that all lead to the same source. People are aware that Cheyenne Mountain exists, people are aware of what goes on there, people that are aware of how you go in through the gates even, but that there are also other tenticular options for entry and they could be hiding in plain sight like a snowy cabin, I think is just great. It is magical thinking.

B: I tried to go to NORAD at one time when I was the show runner for the Engadget show. They just took us to the air base in Colorado Springs, not the Cheyenne Mountain complex, and I was very disappointed.

J: Booo!

The ending of the movie

A: What do you make of the ending to this film? It ends pretty abruptly right in the room. That's it! This is another aspect of the film that I didn't remember. I didn't quite remember how the film started with that cold open, but I also didn't remember pretty much ”smash to credits!” once the threat is over.

B: It got that false peak of when they are all celebrating and they think the threat is gone and then it is not, but also the end feels very hopeful.

A: Right! Surprisingly! Maybe they learned something here!

B: I think everybody learned something at the end of this movie!

A: The premature celebration part made me think: What was WOPR doing with all of its time if it needed to run these simulations to figure out a nuclear war strategy? What was it doing? It finally learned the lesson of tic tac toe by doing this in public, basically.

B: Yeah, very embarrassing!

J: This time watching it I was very much struck by the fact that when they all got done clapping themselves on the back, someone was going to turn to David Lightman and say: ”Your little prank cost the United States $750 million!”

B: Are going to pay that in installments, or…?

J: You are going to juvenile hall until you are 21, never allowed to own a computer again. Some of those early hackers did get basically press-ganged into service of the United States, where it was like: You can either go to prison or you can work for us now, or both. It didn't end happily for him, I don't think.

B: He was in trouble and wasn't allowed to have a computer for a few years, but then he moved to New York with his mom and was allowed to get computers again and met Angelina Jolie and hacked the planet.

A: This is a very interesting Animal House post movie sequence. You know what, except in Animal House they actually had a legible typeface for the credits. I thought the Wargames font was insane. How did anyone ever sign off on red unreadable font over a dark background?

B: But it is so computer-y, Adam!

A: Yeah, it is pretty fun!

J: Computers!

Rating the movie

A: It is rate and review time on Friendly Fire, and it is the one and only time we get to construct a rating system about the movie we have discussed for the last hour, and among the many really great visuals in this film is one that just continues to impress: Doesn’t matter how old I am, I just can't get over the size of the blast doors at Cheyenne Mountain. We get a couple of scenes of them opening and closing, and every time I am blown away by them. Here is a couple of facts about these blast doors that I looked up: They are 25 tons apiece, they protect the facility inside, which is also entirely on springs, making possible that in the event of an earthquake or a nuclear attack no part of the facility moves more than an inch. Cheyenne Mountain also has 4.5 million gallons of water inside and massive diesel fuel and battery banks to act as their fuel supply in the event of an attack. It is amazing what they have inside this thing, but those doors are incredible to me and I think they also represent something interesting about the movie, which is the secrets that our military keeps inside, protected from the outside world. And I think to rate the film we will have to consider how well a film like this reveals the secrets to us for judgment. So on a scale of 1-5 blast doors, we will be rating and reviewing War Games. I was getting into this earlier: I really like that David is smart, but not the sort of genius that we get in so many movies where one part of his life is great, but the other part of his life, socially, is a total horror show. He is pretty normal and adjusted and I think that is good. He just knows how a certain type of technology works, that doesn't make him weird or an outcast. It makes him interesting, he has got friends at school, he has got a friend in Jennifer who is curious about him as much as she may be infatuated with him, but unlike so many other 1980s films, she is not The Bouffe from Teen Wolf, she is not someone to defend against or pursue, she is just there in almost equal partnership, and I thought in addition to what I believe is not controversial to say that Ally Sheedy is extremely beautiful in this movie she is also crucial to David's plan because consider if she does not buy the plane ticket or does not believe what David is telling her over the phone, the human race is exterminated 30 minutes later. It all comes down to her. That is a pivotal moment! When she picks up the phone, she is doing her dance stretches. To pick up the phone at all is one thing, to believe David is the second thing, and then to be able to buy the plane ticket is the third thing. She saves the world! She is also great about going along with the thing. When she meets up at the airport, that was a nice scene. The back third of the movie is is her and David as a team. I like stories where ingenuity wins the day. It is very MacGuyver-y, the way that David escapes from that hospital room inside Cheyenne Mountain? I like scenes like that where you get to see spacecraft deployed. I like that he is not smart at the adults either. He is like smart in a different way that is not making them… I don't think you should come away from a movie like this, thinking that the nuclear defense of our country is run by idiots and buffoons and that is the problem. I like that the main takeaway of this film is that we should be thinking about how we defend ourselves and the technologies we use to do so. I think there is low entertainment to enjoy, and then there is thinking entertainment to enjoy here, and in a film that is paced like it is, it is so breathless and fast and fun throughout, there is really not any dull spot in it. It is all problems and triage, all the way until the end, and then: ”Bam!” we are into the credits. It doesn't even give you a moment to breathe before the credits start. I think it is a great movie. I think it is one of my favorite movies I have seen on Friendly Fire. I am going to give it the full 5 blast door treatment! I think it does what it sets out to do perfectly.

B: Wow! It is really good. I think that the comparisons to Dr. Strangelove are actually pretty favorable. They do try and tackle the mutual assured destruction topic, and both add a lot to the conversation. The thing that I really took away from War Games this time is that tough situations aren't hopeless and the hopelessness is a choice that you make. They never stop trying to solve the problem in this movie and it has got great performances, a fun story, a couple of little handwavy plot holes here and there, but overall a pretty rad movie. I am going to give it 4.5 Cheyenne Mountain doors. I also want to say that when we were watching the movie and the dad wrapped the piece of Wonder Bread around his corn, my wife said: ”There is your rating system!”, so I just don't understand this world we live in at all.

A: I mean, what do you call that, Ben?

J: What do you call it?

B: I think I just called it the Wonder Bread wrapped around the corn.

A: That is too much of a mouthful. It could never be the rating system!

B: We have had mouthful-ier rating systems for sure!

A: I feel like the new Friendly Fire T-shirt should be a buttered slice of bread and a pair of headphones and you are rolling the headphones in the butter and a Friendly Fire logo at the bottom.

B: How about a Che Guevara t shirt, but it is Ally Sheedy instead of Che? Is that a good idea?

J: Hey, that is a really good idea!

A: Let’s keep trying that idea: ”How about a Che Guevara shirt and instead of Che Guevara's face it is a piece of buttered bread with a corn cop in it?” That is an idea that won't offend anyone.

B: No, people would love that! No cab driver would ever yell at us for that.

J: Well, it is impossible for me to watch this movie as a reviewer or a podcaster. I can only watch this movie as a 9th grader. There are several moments in the film where a tear came to my eye or a my heart got stuck in my throat because the movie transported me to a time when I felt those feelings. It doesn't make me sentimental. It actually can put me back into a place where I felt that kind of excitement. My only real beef is when the bear bomber comes over up on the radar screen and the general says that he wants to scramble some F-16s out of Galena, I was so mad at the time and I am so mad now because they didn't have F-16 at Galena. Those were F-15s, I was there when the first F-15s arrived in Alaska to replace the F-4 Phantoms, and…

B: is it possible that just being off one digit was an honest mistake?

J: No, no! It is an absolutely unforgivable mistake! Also, when the Jets are scrambling to intercept the Russian bombers, Galina is way up on the Yukon and those jets look like they are coming from Talkeetna, which is not the same as Galina. Anyway, that really made me mad in 1983 and I guess I am still mad about it, but that is a very small thing to be mad at. I just feel like it holds up across the board. It feels as personal almost as any movie to me, more than even ones that I saw younger like Bugsy Malone or movies that are deeply threaded into who I became. This is a movie that happened right at the moment that I was choosing a path and it influenced me. So it is absolutely a 6 blast door movie for me. All 6!

B: The rare… I think you have given more than more than 5 things like one other time!

A: I am just so happy!

J: Why are you happy?

A: It is great! It is, again, destroying a very specific thing I have created, this 1-5 scale, but I also like seeing perfect scores.

Who is your guy?

B: Well, do you like seeing guys on screen, Adam? who is your guy?

A: Few ”laugh out loud”-moments in this movie got me as much as the scene with the tour group going through. I love a well-practiced bit as much as anyone, and when they sit poor Mrs. Neele down at the station and have her hit a button, and then it is the button that turns on the alarm, that is just a delight. Mrs. Neele is feeling true fear at this moment, the fear that anyone else would. There is something so honest about that performance. I don't remember if it is a wordless or not, but she does a ton in that little moment to make it totally believable what is happening and I really liked her quite a bit for that moment. So Mrs. Neele is going to be my guy!

B: Good guy! John, did you have a guy?

J: My guy is the Jeep driver right at the end.

B: Fuck!

A: That is a great pick!

B: God damn it!

J: Was that your guy?

B: That is what I had written down: ”Jeep driver at end” is literally what I have written down on my notes. I will come up with something else!

J: I am sorry! That jeep driver… Man, you don't often see a scene where the car is going to blast through the chain link fence and see it realistically depicted as harder to blast through a chain link fence than you might think.

B: Yeah. Did you know that that was an accident that they wrote into the movie?

J: You couldn't have possibly have done that on purpose. It feels so dangerous and wild! When that jeep gets caught in that fence, but that Jeep driver, after they get out, and they are running into the blast door, he is really running for his life and somehow, and this is the crazy thing, the protagonists of this movie have such a hard time convincing anyone that what they are saying is true, but they clearly have convinced that Jeep driver because he is going for it.

A: The quality of that running is unique. This is the reason why you see running in movies often portrayed as not running as fast as possible because you need to shoot multiple takes. It is one of the things that makes Tom Cruise running so unique and special, because he is running flat out every time. This Jeep driver is running in the same way. He is Tom Cruise running!

B: Also, after an entire movie of not being able to convince anybody to take them seriously they do get to crash the gate and then run past the security door at Cheyenne Mountain without anyone asking them any further questions.

J: I know!

A: The lady whisks them in now! She is the reason!

J: She is waiting at the door, but Ben is right: That is a mile long run past 25 dudes with M16s.

B: They also never explain the Jeep driver. They don't explain how old Adam Pranica had a helicopter and presumably he flew them to Colorado in it, but then there is an ellipsis wherein he lands the helicopter, talks this jeep driver into tear-assing up Cheyenne Mountain with them in his Jeep.

J: There is a lot sketchy there because you can't fly a helicopter from Goose Island, Oregon, a place that doesn't exist, to Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, on one tank of gas in an hour and a half!

B: Yeah, it is the outbreak problem.

J: They had to get on an airplane at some point!

B: Well, in lieu of the Jeep driver I am going to go with the dude in the scene where they are all celebrating because they think it is all over, but little do they know it is just beginning. That guy that tells the general: ”Sir, you better get on your headset!” is my guy.

A: Bad news guy!

B: Yeah! Bad news guy! You don't want to be that guy, but somebody has to be that guy!

J: Sir, turn your key, sir!

Choosing the next movie

B: Well dudes, I have a proposition to make: This is a pork chop record, but I had a lot of fun talking about it and I feel like this is also a main feed movie.

A: It is a mainstream movie.

J: Agreed!

B: Here is my proposal to you guys: This is the Pork Chop movie, but we also put it in the main feed. We will find a spot to slot it in. Ww are going to roll the dice to find out what the next movie is, and nobody better to roll that dice than John Roderick.

J: Well, not only am I the best one to roll it, but I am the only one that has it.

B: That is true!

J: And I do it every time. It is not like this was optional! What is optional is: Do I put the dice in a coffee cup? Do I make a corral for it out of books? Do I just toss it from hand to hand? The Foley work isn't as good. Here, I am tossing it from hand to hand!

B: It doesn't really sound like anything. I mean, there is a way to live dangerously and just throw it on the table and hope it doesn't fall off onto the floor without the corral.

A: I am wondering how many episodes we are going to do while there is a full-scale roulette wheel behind John's shoulder, no-one has commented on it yet, we are not even going to refer to it as an option here.

B: I certainly will not!

J: Hang on, here is what we are going to do this time: I am going to take this giant box of LEGO, and I am going to put the ball in the box of LEGO and use the LEGO to randomize the dice. Here we go!

B: Good God! It is like finding a 120-sided dice in a box of LEGO!

J: And it is 107!

B: Wow! Big number! This is a film directed by John Dahl from 2005, depicting World War II in the Philippines. It is a film called The Great Raid.

J: The Great Raid!

A: John Dahl of Rounder's fame. That is how I know that name!

B: Starring Benjamin Bratt: 500 American soldiers have been entrapped in a camp for three years, getting to give up hope they will ever be rescued a group of rangers goes on a dangerous mission to try and save them.

J: Oh, it is a Bataan Death March film. We don't get enough of those!

B: James Franco.

J: Hello!

B: No kidding! How is there a James Franco movie that I haven't been advertised incessantly?

J: When is this from?

B: 2005!

J: Well, the fact that we haven't heard of it is not a good sign!


B: Certainly not. Part of the point of this is to review the films and even if they are bad we have to review them, but we are going to leave it with Robs from here. So for John Roderick and Adam Pranica, I have been Ben Harrison. To the victor go the spoiler alerts!

R: Friendly Fire’s pork chop feed is a Maximum Fun bonus content podcast. It is hosted by Ben Harrison, Adam Pranica and John Roderick. The podcast is produced by me, Rob Schulte. Our theme music is War by Edwin Starr, courtesy of Stone Agate Music, and our logo Art is by Nick Ditmore. If this is your first Pork Chop episode, go back and check out all the other bonus content. You can now follow Friendly Fire on Twitter and Instagram under the handles FriendlyFireRSS in addition to all the discussion groups we have on Facebook and other platforms, so join in the conversation! Thanks for listening, we will see you next month with another pork chop film!

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