Recently, a friend of mine here in Japan caught the movie Annapolis. She knew I went to USNA [and funnily enough, her new brother-in-law is a West Point grad] and she wanted to know if it was realistic.
The answer, unsurprisingly, is No. God, no. A thousand, painful, times no. It's not.
Basically, in both reality and the movie, there's a military school. And there are people. Who wear uniforms. And there's lots of yelling.
That's about the extent of the similarities.
[Besides the fact, that as a movie, it's just not very good. Cliched... bad dialogue... so-so acting...]
So, in an effort to educate her to a more realistic version of the Academy, I figured I'd hit up YouTube as there had to be a couple vids from documentaries or local news. I-Day [Induction Day] and Graduation always make the news cycle in Maryland. And I did find those...
But what I didn't really think about, though I think I did at one point [go ahead and diagram that sentence, I dare you] is the fact that in 2008, Bancroft Hall [the dorm] is obviously wired for the internet and filled with 4,000 guys and gals with the latest in digital cameras.
So, two points.
1 - If I'd had the 'net when I was there [back in the dark ages when dinosaurs roamed the earth, we had a LAN and email, but that was about it... we were on the cusp of the 'net back in 94] my GPA/QPR [Quality Point Rating? Is that right? I forget] would have been much lower than it already was.
...and 2 - if there was a combination of Internet and digital video when I was there I probably would've spent a lot more time on restriction than I already did. Cause, you know, evidence.
But anyways, yeah, so, mids [midshipman/Naval Academy students] make videos and put 'em online, just like everybody else. And I'm sure there's more than enough folks standing restriction for doing it "improperly" or "damaging the reputation of the service."
But there's still some good, fun stuff online that triggers that weird sense of nostalgia for my "four years by the bay," as it were.
First up, Chow Calls!
So, the first two months of Plebe [freshmen] Summer suck pretty hard. The closest thing the Academy has to boot camp.
[Except of course, out in the real world, boot camp is run by seasoned enlisted personnel, whereas at USNA, it's mostly run by college juniors with no real military experience and only their insular, isolated and incestuous Academy experiences to draw from. Is my bias showing?]
Anyways, Plebe Summer sucks, but Chow Calls last all year. [As does your "lower than low" status, it's just when academics kick in, screwing with the plebes goes down. Mathematically speaking. [That's math, right? I was a history major.]
Chow calls - 12 and 7 minutes for outside formations, 10 and 5 for indoor formations. You give the time, the location, the uniform, the watch officers of the day and the menu for the meal. Fast and and clear as you can.
This kid is pretty locked on, speed wise. But I would've got the "start over" if I was mush mouthing it the way he does at times... Still, a solid chow call overall. Hell, all you ever wanted to do was get through the damn thing.
This next one is pretty funny. The explanation is in the vid, but these kids lost a bet, so they have to go perform an early AM chow call while somebody is asleep, inevitably pissing said person off and wrecking their own lives for a while.
I don't ever remember doing stuff this creative. My upperclass always wanted their shoes polished, and me and my squadmates were always trying to get "carry on" at meals and more privileges. I shined a lot of shoes that year. [Man, did Navy football suck when I was there.]
Though I'm pretty sure that both my older brothers had to sing Olivia Newton-John's "Let's Get Physical" in the middle of the chow hall, if I remember correctly. But I can't remember if that was from a bet or just the day's price for being a plebe.
The other thing is that at the Academy you really are isolated out from the rest of the world. And it breeds this shut-in, stir-crazy, can't wait for the weekend to have some kind of liberty creativity. We used to have the Eighth Wing Players [comedy skits put on by companies living in 8th Wing], splashdowns [impromptu dance parties] in 7th Wing basement and a buncha other stuff.
Now, they apparently make funny ass music videos.
This was pretty good... I mostly always wore contact lenses, but I still had a couple pair of BCDs [Birth Control Glasses.
Every year for the football games a buncha Mids make "spirit spots." You might've seen some if you've ever watched the Army-Navy football game. But they make 'em all the time. The advent of digital video and technology makes some of them, these days, pretty damn good. Here was a good Matrix knock off, I thought.
If you only watch one vid in this post, watch this one. It sums up the Naval Academy to a "T" in 1 minute 23 seconds.
And this was hilarious... "Is it in you?"
It's really strange watching some of these, 14 years after I last roamed the halls there.
I mean, I went off to the Academy as a book smart, admittedly kind of naive 17 year old. One who took the whole thing way more seriously [and following in the footsteps of two older brothers to live up to] than it probably deserved. It was really not until my Youngster/Third Class/sophomore year that I started to see through a lot of the posturing and nonsense and get a better appreciation for the fact that really, maybe only about half of the Academy experience is relevant at all to the real military. [IMHO, of course.]
I know I did this stuff... I know I lived that life, but it sometimes feels like that was a completely different person and a completely different lifetime. It's kind of crazy.