Monday, March 31, 2008

Exnicios--is that Greek or what??

In the wake of "horrible-disease"-gate, I thought that it might be interesting to take the narcissim of blogging to exciting new heights with 500 words about a subject near and dear to my heart--the thoroughly non-Greek name of Exnicios.

My Aunt Carol G (nee X) had this to say about the possible (non disease-related) origins of the family name:

"In French 'exnicoise' means 'from Nice'. Like a salade Nicoise is a salad from Nice or in the Nice style. Exparisian refers to someone from Paris and so forth.

So, I believe that our ancestor came from Nice and when asked his name in Louisiana (probably by a Spanish immigration guard) he replied je suis exnicoise (I am from Nice) and voila, the name was born."

This is one of the most plausible Exnicios origin-stories floating around out there, but it's by no means the only one.

As you might imagine, we Exnicios's get asked about our name on a near daily basis--how to pronounce it, where it's from, etc. As I don't know the answer to the origin question for sure, I feel entirely fine with rotating which explanation I give (there are 3 or 4 that I like).

If I'm in a hurry for some reason, I'll sometimes even agree that it's Greek just to end the conversation and be on my way.

If I'm feeling peevish and I've got the time to tell a story, I'll launch into a lengthy explanation of multiple theories. It's impolite for the questioner to stop and say "that's alright, I really didn't care that much..." But at the same time, all anyone wants to hear is a one word answer--Greek, French, Spanish, whatever. A 5 minute story is more than they bargained for, and will hopefully teach them not to ask after the nationality of every confusing name they stumble across.

But under most other circumstances, I politely share whichever theory/explanation I've recently taken a fancy to. As the topic comes up regularly, I've got a pretty good little stump speech prepared, so I get the important info across without losing my audience's interest.

My current favorite explanation is that Exnicios was simply made up by a pretentious ancestor. This is a theory of my own devising, but it can easily nest inside of an explanation like the one above. Somebody took to calling ol' Jean-Louis by the family name Exnicoise, and he thought it was nifty enough that he kept it around. And if you look through old records you'll find that there are several ancient Greek names that pop up in the family through the years. As recently as this century, my dad and Aunt Carol had an Uncle Tellie--short for Telemachus. No kidding. So even if the first Exnicios wasn't a pretentious Greek-o-phile, some of his descendants tended in that direction.

So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it...until I get bored and move on to the next one.

Happy almost-April everyone!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

While I was away...

I sat in for my brigade commander at a meeting a couple of weeks ago, and I was literally the lowest ranking guy in a room of about 30 people. By my rough count there were 4 Majors, 13 Lieutenant Colonels, 10 Colonels, and the General--except that the General wasn't there.

As the meeting began he was elsewhere, no doubt doing important General things. It appeared that I was off the hook, and I would brief my brigade's portion to a room full of disinterested higher ups who were really only there because they had to be, not because they wanted to know what all the brigades had to say.

But since this is me we're talking about--and my morning with the General was not to be denied-- he made his entrance 30 seconds before it was my turn to speak. No big deal, I told myself. If there's one thing I'm good at it's briefing stuff. But seeing as the General didn't know who I was, I felt an introduction should be my first order of business.

"Good morning, sir. Captain Exnicios, Task Force Cincinnatus S9 standing in for the Brigade Commander."

It was a pretty good start, I thought--forceful, confident, everything a fine junior officer such as myself should be.

"Exnicios?" the General responded. "Is that your real name?"

"Yes sir, for my entire life." Where was he going with this?

"Wow. It sounds like some sort of horrible disease." But hey, at least he pronounced it right.

And from there I did my briefing, which went fine. The General (who seems to be a genuinely alright fellow, insults to my Exnicios heritage aside) complimented me on my performance, and that was that.

About a week later I happened to find myself driving in an SUV with the General's aide, a recently promoted Captain who carried himself with a slightly obnoxious swagger as befits his aide-de-camp/West Pointer status. The two of us were chatting with our driver, a Civil Affairs sergeant who had recently arrived in theater, which led to the following exchange.

CA SGT: "Some of the officers we have aren't that great, but some are really good."

General's Aide: "Yeah, I've heard that a lot of times you CA guys get stuck with really horrible IRR officers who got called up, don't want to be there, and just fuck off the whole time."

I resisted the temptation to reveal my status as a proud member of the IRR, and the conversation moved on to other things. Later that day the good Captain was asking for my story, and I informed him that I was one of the aforementioned "good for nothing" IRR officers. If he was embarrassed he hid it well, and he quickly feigned interest in my life and times. He let me know "how much it must suck" to get called back. He also cited the recent WaPo article on Captains getting out of the Army, an article that I don't have a very high opinion of. I pointed him to the vastly superior NYTMag piece from last summer, though I'm sure he hasn't looked it up.

Anywho, there's no really exciting way to end this story, so I'll just say this--how have I not gotten into the oped writing business yet? I suppose that's something I can look at on my way out the door...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Some wounds never heal

Yesterday I shared with the world that my buddy Bill Rausch is an Obama man.

Me? I won't say who I'm leaning towards...but I will say that I don't think I could ever forgive Hillary for dunking on Grant Hill back in the '94 championship game.

I'll let you all draw your own conclusions from there.

Just to clarify...

The previous post was written by wife, the lovely and talented Mrs. Exnicios.

Whatever desire I may or may not have to wear a beautiful wedding dress, I'll just go ahead and keep that to myself and leave things at that.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Please join us in celebrating the marriage of Lauren and Andrew, June 16, 2007. . . Dinner and Dancing to follow, June 21, 2009

Save the Date! Andrew and Lauren's wedding will be on Sunday, June 21, 2009 at the Water's Edge Resort in Westbrook, Connecticut!

I realize this information may raise some questions - so I've put together some FAQs regarding the Doyle-Exnicios union.

Q1. You guys are so totally married already!
A1. Thats not a question, but yes. We are totally married already. We were married at a small ceremony at Fort Belvoir on June 16, 2007. It was beautiful and a very sacred moment when we exchanged our vows. That was also the ceremony we needed to have because of time constraints and impeding deployments. (Oh, and love. Right, we got married the first time because of love.)

Q2. Why do you need a second ceremony/reception/wedding?
A2. I will be the first to admit, I want a big wedding. With all the big wedding events. I want to wear a big wedding dress that costs so much I will take its true cost to my grave and never tell my husband. I want to make my friends wear dresses they will never wear again but all proclaim how this dress is completely rewearable. I want my hair done. I want to see my husband for more than 3 days after the wedding.

Q3. So its all about you?
A3. Um, no. Sorry. The real answer, besides all that big wedding dreams, is that there are so many people that we didn't get to celebrate with last time, that we really want to have a big party to celebrate our wedding and our marriage - and Andrew being home to enjoy that marriage! - with everyone we love.

Q4. I was at the first one. May I be excused?
A4. No. Think of yourself as extra special, double Exnicios wedding worthy.

Q5. Will you be doing vows/dress/cake/bouquets?
A5. We are working on reaching the right balance of honoring what we already did at our first ceremony while having a great time celebrating our marriage at the second one. We expect to have some sort of vow ceremony, though this one will be just for "show" since we're already legal. As for some of the other traditions, we'll figure out what is going to work best for us and our guests.

Q6. Is One Tree Hill the most superior teen drama out there?
A6. While not wedding related, I think its a question that deserves to be asked and answered. The answer I think is a qualified no. It is one of the superior teen dramas out there, but it is not the most superior.

Kevin hits the nail on the head

Kevin has had a nightmare ride through IRR-ville, and he summarizes the overall experience in this farewell post from his IRR blog.

Kevin and I met many moons ago at Fort Jackson, SC. At the time, Kevin was a week ahead of me. Now? He's heading home while I ponder another half a year of fighting for freedom. This happened for 2 reasons.

1) Kevin didn't have 6 months of training at Fort Bragg--he was 4 months into his deployment by the time I arrived in country.

2) Kevin's deployment was, for whatever reason, 7 months instead of 9-10.

Add that up and Kev's looking at a spring return, while Jeff, Chris and I are staring down the reality of a summer in the 'Stan.

I should end this post by saying that parts of my IRR experience have been far more successful than Kevin's. I have an important job here that I enjoy (at least insofar as I recognize that it's important and I as such want to do it well.) Other parts of my experience have been...well, let's just say that I'm reserving judgment until its time for MY parting shots, 6 months from now. Sigh...

So whatever happened w/ the mystery Hackers guy?

He didn't show up, that's what happened.

In one of the most soul crushing twists of fate since this entire IRR saga began for me nearly 19 months ago, Jesse Bradford (of Hackers, Swimfan, Bring it On, and Flags of our Fathers fame) failed to report for duty for the Bagram Airfrield leg of the "Ambassadors of Hollywood" USO tour.

I don't know if Jesse specifically wanted to deny me the opportunity to take what was sure to become one of the greatest "celebrity holding an exploitative sign" photos of all time, or if he had a simple schedule conflict. Perhaps I'll never know (though if I had to guess, I'd go with "too busy smiling jauntily").

What I do know is that Maria Menounos, Kelly Hu, and some random guy who was on the Sopranos bravely came to Afghanistan to serve their diplomatic duties for the nice people in Hollywood. Thanks to them, and to all the nice people who take time out of their lives to do the USO do in support of the Global War to put an end to neo-global islamo-fascism.

A bit of a hiatus...

Hey, all.

As you might have noticed, I spent some time this month away from blogging. I had some connectivity issues (what else is new?), but mainly I was just killing myself at work. I get home after 10 or 11, having worked all day, and I want to do something more mindless than blogging.

I've still had my Friday mornings off, but I've found that I'm so exhausted that I just sleep as long as I can, then wake up and rush to get ready for the day like it was any other day. And, by the way, I feel kinda lazy and stressed that I didn't get up to take care of the non-work things I've been putting off all week (reading, blogging, etc) and that I'll have to wait another week to get to all that.

Bottom line: I need to figure out a way to work a little less, because I'm getting dangerously close to running myself ragged, and I still have 6 months of deployment left. I've got to start pacing myself a little.

One of my Army buddies has opininions

I'm not really allowed to talk about politics, but Bill here is off active duty and free to speak his mind.

Friday, March 14, 2008

You tell the whole damn world...

Many thanks and much love goes out to Kyle, Robin, Nate, Kim, Matt & Suzanne for their wonderful, double pronged care package. Notice that in my rush to hang the sign, I didn't even bother to take down the stuff that was already on the wall of my office--that's how excited I was.

I think the sign might have been intended for my hooch (which is still rather dominated by Duke and Redskins stuff). But I really think that this was something that had to be displayed for all the world to see...or at least the portion of the world who wonders into my office from time to time.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Speaking of the Wrens and collaboration...

Charles Bissel of the aforementioned Wrens (and a one time >play panelist target) has joined Okkervil River (subject of what I affectionately like to call "the lamest ever post in the history of IRR blogging") to form...well, they're still Okkervil River. But did I mention that Charles B. will be playing with them all summer??

The move isn't permanent (i.e. Charles won't play on the next OR album) but it's still pretty rad. And nope, I don't know how this will impact the Wrens agonizingly slow progress towards album #4...

Monday, March 10, 2008


I sang on stage w/ the Wrens once. It was in San Francisco in December, 2005, and I was there at the show with tickets my then girlfriend Mrs. Exnicios had bought be for my 26th birthday (back when I was young and innocent).

The Wrens are fans of the crowd participation. They have this link posted on their website. It's a piano part to one of their songs--a part that's on the album, but that they could not manage to play live because everyone is occupied playing other instruments. The idea is to find someone in each city who, for this song, will hop up on stage and play along at the appropriate time.

I got to play a shaky thing that made some sort of noise--the kind of thing that you mess with in 3rd grade music class if you get designated as a percussionist in the recorder band. I think it's really cool that the Wrens have expanded this shebang.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

USO Tour Awesomeness

Peter King shows how good a sport he is about certain NFL players who may or may not have unjustly waited nearly a decade to be inducted into Canton. I was the only soldier who came prepared w/ a sign, and was second in obnoxiousness only to the angry Bears fan who demanded that Tommie Harris call out Rex Grossman as the spawn of Satan.**

I got to expound upon my theory of "stats relative to era" for about 30 seconds before Mr. King politely shook my hand and left me to my ramblings...

Tommie Harris took a welcome break from Grossman questions to pose for a picture. I sat right next to Mr. Harris (like knee bumping distance) during the Q&A and Trivia portions of the evening's festivities. Each of the players (Harris, Luis Castillo and Mike Rucker) shared their favorite Bret Favre stories, which was pretty cool.

**For those of you who can't make out the little words, the sign read "Yes, I finally voted for 8th ballot Hall of Famer Art Monk, so get off my case, Dauber.

Sultan Jeff's Stuff To Say #3: "Don't leave Khost without it..."

Mongolian barbeque....Free

Orange Julius from Dairy Queen....$2

Personal pizza from Pizza Hut....$6

Whopper w/cheese from Burger King.....$7

2 piece fried chicken meal from Popeye's.....$8

Hanging out with good friends (Chris and Andrew) at Bagram Airfield....Priceless

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Monthly Roundup and General Awesomeness--February 2008

February, my friends, is done. I now sit a mere 7 months away from home, after 8+ months of mobilized time. And whatever hangover remains from end of month calendar flipping revelry, it's now time to sit back, relax, and soak in the month that was.

First and foremost, we've got numerous new additions to our Gallery. Thanks all around to the Doyle clan. The gallery is really starting to fill out and look great!

Second, and nearly as importantly, you all still have a chance to change the face of celebrity-sign-holding pictures for generations to come. Don't let this once in a lifetime opportunity to pass you by. I know, I wouldn't pass up a chance like that either. Moving on...

My cousin Nick launched his first company--congrats again, Nick, and good luck! Drop me a line and let me know how California is treating you so far.

Darrel Green became a 1st ballot HOF'er, and Art EIGHTH?? Yeah, I still can't figure that one out either. More to follow in the coming days with regards to Mr. Monk...

My alma mater dear (and the town in which she resides) made lots of headlines. Let's just say that Berkeley's temporary stance on military recruiting stations made me the butt of jokes around the office for a week or two. All in good fun...

The world learns my intentions for my first born children. The female readership of the Army 2.0 collectively cringe and wait for me to change the subject.

David Ignatius at WaPo tells us all about the Provincial Reconstruction Team concept. For those more interested in the "what exactly is it that you DO here?" aspects of Army 2.0, these two stories are worth a read.

Army 2.0 shuts down for a few days mid-month to give a very special blog a chance to take center stage.

In which our intrepid author responds poorly to Duke's mid-month losing streak,
and fabricates memories from Duke to make himself feel better.

In which our intrepid author reflects on ways in which his service might conclude sooner rather than later, and ultimately resolves himself to stay the course.

I write an ode to making up for missed work outs by drinking more sodas and eating more cookies.
Makes perfect sense, I know.

And last but not least, everyone who has been wondering what it would look like if I was doctored into a photo of Diamond Dallas Page putting me in the Diamond Cutter while Nikolai Volkoff looked on in amusement, this is the post for you.

Have a great March, everyone, and thanks for your continued participation here at the 2.0.

All work and no play make Homer something, something...

Those last two or three posts were all serious-like.

This link takes seriousness to whole new levels of badassary--read at your own risk.

For those of you who thought the IRR might be ramping down...

One of my numerous good friends named Chris just forwarded me this link. It would seem that the Army enjoyed last year's muster so much that they've--shocker of shockers--decided to throw another one!

Before I go on I should say how much I enjoy my current position, and that I believe I'm helping my team here make a significantly positive impact on the future of Afghans and Afghanistan. But that said, one wonders how long can this IRR stuff will continue. I mean, the stories you hear...

I had a very interesting chat this afternoon with a young Lieutenant who graduated Harvard in 2005 and has already been accepted to Harvard Law class of 2012 (should he decide to get out of the Army). This gentleman informed me that in 2005 they told his commissioning class to have backup plans. It would seem that the Army felt it had too many nascent LT's, and many would be asked to go to the reserves instead of active duty. This particular guy ended up going active anyways, but my question is this--how could they turn away willing active duty guys when they're recalling IRR people to fill slots elsewhere in the ranks?

Now, I fully appreciate that a brand new LT is not the same thing as a Captain with 4 or 5 years of experience (your typical IRR draftee). But let me tell you something--anyone can be Civil Affairs. I really think it's a branch like any other, not something that one has to come to later in their career as the traditional model dictates. There are already brand new 2LT's in the CAQC anyways, so why not shuffle some things around so that you utilize the manpower you have without panicing and hitting the IRR button.

So why doesn't the Army do this? The explanation I keep coming back to is that they choose to reward individuals who are voluntarily joining, while they push the burden onto those of us who had the audacity to quit. And this makes total sense from their perspective. People like me are already lost (or so they reason), so there aren't any drawbacks to alienating us through the IRR process. A brand new 2LT, on the other hand, still has their entire career in front of them. Piss them off now by sending them off to a CA gig that they really aren't interested in, and you risk pushing away someone who might have stayed in otherwise.

I honestly don't know where any of this leaves us, but all the same--good luck to all of you musterees out there. I wish you the best, and who knows? Maybe I'll see you here at the Forward Edge sooner or later...

March--apparently a bad month for IRR blogging

How else to explain my sudden silence? I've had things to say. I've got some keen content lined up to run w/ the now 7 days overdue monthly roundup. So why am I at a loss to have at it, after such a fruitful last week of February?

My best guess is that a particular sort of seasonal affected disorder has overtaken me. Towards the end of each month, you see, I kind of fixate on how I'm about to cross a month off the list, filp to the next page on my various calendars, and take this giant symbolic step towards home. It's kind of a big deal, in my head at least, and the end of months are as such filled with hope, butterflies and puppy dogs.

And then the 1st of the month rolls around. The act of finishing off a month seems ages away, off in the mists of some distant future. I start to realize that this moment that I was all excited for didn't really mean anything, as I still have to make it through 7 more calendar turns. Add to that the stress of the month to come, its imposing tasks and important missions. At once I dread the escalating stress that comes with approaching deadlines and I lust for the rapid passage of time that inevitably tags along with busyness. Those two forces cancel each other out, and time neither flies nor drags. I'm left with only the stress.

So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'm also hoping to break out of the funk with post after exciting post over the next day or two. I know it makes for an uneven reading experience when I stack posts like this, but sometimes it's best just to let the momentum propel my blogging. I hope everyone enjoys the results!

Monday, March 3, 2008

IRR Blogger update

On the heels of my O.Y.E update from last week, let's check in with a few of our favorite (and/or most interesting) IRR bloggers. While they tell their tales of war, I will continue to feed you a daily diet of awesome movies, NBA action, and legendary wrestlers.

Kevin took a long break from blogging, and came back to inform us that he's...considering staying in the reserves after this deployment??? Say it ain't so, Kev, say it ain't so...

Jason continues to match his consistently enjoyable content with regular appearances over thunderrun, a war blog roundup. Oh Jason, you rock star you...

And last but not least, Josh has FINALLY reported to Fort Jackson to begin his training...the same Fort Jackson that Chris and I reported to EIGHT MONTHS BACK!!!1! I first reported on Josh last October, and unless I'm mistaken he had the same orders that we did. We got delays to finish school, and then reported in June. Josh got a delay to finish school, then had a family situation that got him delayed even more.

Honestly, I don't think I'd be able to handle it if I had lived w/ the uncertainty of will-I-or-won't-I have to report to Jackson for basically a year longer than I did, then have to deal with just now starting the process in earnest. I think it would be more than I can handle. So everyone say a prayer to the God/Tree/Giant-Spaghetti-Monster of your choice for Josh--his is not an easy row to hoe, not by a long shot.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

They said it would never happen...

But here we are--Jeff, Chris and Andrew, all together in the same place at the same time in front of the same camera. We don't have much time to hang out, but tonight was pretty great.

Of note--Chris sporting the IRR patch (and he picked up some color ones for me and Jeff) and me sporting the lovely wool scarf that my talented wife made for me.