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30 Years Ago, Romania Deprived Thousands of Babies of Human Contact

Izidor Ruckel near his home outside Denver

Global

Here’s what’s become of them.

By Melissa Fay Greene

Image above: Izidor Ruckel near his home outside Denver


Updated at 3:22 p.m. ET on June 23, 2020.

For his first three years of life, Izidor lived at the hospital.

The dark-eyed, black-haired boy, born June 20, 1980, had been abandoned when he was a few weeks old. The reason was obvious to anyone who bothered to look: His right leg was a bit deformed. After a bout of illness (probably polio), he had been tossed into a sea of abandoned infants in the Socialist Republic of Romania.

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In films of the period documenting orphan care, you see nurses like assembly-line workers swaddling newborns out of a seemingly endless supply; with muscled arms and casual indifference, they sling each one onto a square of cloth, expertly knot it into a tidy package, and stick it at the end of a row of silent, worried-looking babies. The women don’t coo or sing to them.* You see the small faces trying to fathom what’s happening as their heads whip by during the wrapping maneuvers.

In his hospital, in the Southern Carpathian mountain town of Sighetu Marmaţiei, Izidor would have been fed by a bottle stuck into his mouth and propped against the bars of a crib. Well past the age when children in the outside world began tasting solid food and then feeding themselves, he and his age-mates remained on their backs, sucking from bottles with widened openings to allow the passage of a watery gruel. Without proper care or physical therapy, the baby’s leg muscles wasted. At 3, he was deemed “deficient” and transferred across town to a Cămin Spital Pentru Copii Deficienţi, a Home Hospital for Irrecoverable Children.

The cement fortress emitted no sounds of children playing, though as many as 500 lived inside at one time. It stood mournfully aloof from the cobblestone streets and sparkling river of the town where Elie Wiesel had been born, in 1928, and enjoyed a happy childhood before the Nazi deportations.

The windows on Izidor’s third-floor ward had been fitted with prison bars. In boyhood, he stood there often, gazing down on an empty mud yard enclosed by a barbed-wire fence. Through bare branches in winter, Izidor got a look at another hospital that sat right in front of his own and concealed it from the street. Real children, children wearing shoes and coats, children holding their parents’ hands, came and went from that hospital. No one from Izidor’s Cămin Spital was ever taken there, no matter how sick, not even if they were dying.

Like all the boys and girls who lived in the hospital for “irrecoverables,” Izidor was served nearly inedible, watered-down food at long tables where naked children on benches banged their tin bowls. He grew up in overcrowded rooms where his fellow orphans endlessly rocked, or punched themselves in the face, or shrieked. Out-of-control children were dosed with adult tranquilizers, administered through unsterilized needles, while many who fell ill received transfusions of unscreened blood. Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS ravaged the Romanian orphanages.

Izidor was destined to spend the rest of his childhood in this building, to exit the gates only at 18, at which time, if he were thoroughly incapacitated, he’d be transferred to a home for old men; if he turned out to be minimally functional, he’d be evicted to make his way on the streets. Odds were high that he wouldn’t survive that long, that the boy with the shriveled leg would die in childhood, malnourished, shivering, unloved.

This past Christmas Day was the 30th anniversary of the public execution by firing squad of Romania’s last Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu, who’d ruled for 24 years. In 1990, the outside world discovered his network of “child gulags,” in which an estimated 170,000 abandoned infants, children, and teens were being raised. Believing that a larger population would beef up Romania’s economy, Ceaușescu had curtailed contraception and abortion, imposed tax penalties on people who were childless, and celebrated as “heroine mothers” women who gave birth to 10 or more. Parents who couldn’t possibly handle another baby might call their new arrival “Ceauşescu’s child,” as in “Let him raise it.”

Read: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Nicolae Ceauşescu, megalomaniacal tyrant, friend of America

To house a generation of unwanted or unaffordable children, Ceauşescu ordered the construction or conversion of hundreds of structures around the country. Signs displayed the slogan: the state can take better care of your child than you can.

At age 3, abandoned children were sorted. Future workers would get clothes, shoes, food, and some schooling in Case de copii—“children’s homes”—while “deficient” children wouldn’t get much of anything in their Cămine Spitale. The Soviet “science of defectology” viewed disabilities in infants as intrinsic and uncurable. Even children with treatable issues—perhaps they were cross-eyed or anemic, or had a cleft lip—were classified as “unsalvageable.”

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After the Romanian revolution, children in unspeakable conditions—skeletal, splashing in urine on the floor, caked with feces—were discovered and filmed by foreign news programs, including ABC’s 20/20, which broadcast “Shame of a Nation” in 1990. Like the liberators of Auschwitz 45 years before, early visitors to the institutions have been haunted all their lives by what they saw. “We flew in by helicopter over the snow to Siret, landing after midnight, subzero weather, accompanied by Romanian bodyguards carrying Uzis,” Jane Aronson tells me. A Manhattan-based pediatrician and adoption-medicine specialist, she was part of one of the first pediatric teams summoned to Romania by the new government. “We walk into a pitch-black, freezing-cold building and discover there are youngsters lurking about—they’re tiny, but older, something weird, like trolls, filthy, stinking. They’re chanting in a dronelike way, gibberish. We open a door and find a population of ‘cretins’—now it’s known as congenital iodine deficiency syndrome; untreated hypothyroidism stunts growth and brain development. I don’t know how old they were, three feet tall, could have been in their 20s. In other rooms we see teenagers the size of 6- and 7-year-olds, with no secondary sexual characteristics. There were children with underlying genetic disorders lying in cages. You start almost to disassociate.”

“I walked into an institution in Bucharest one afternoon, and there was a small child standing there sobbing,” recalls Charles A. Nelson III, a professor of pediatrics and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. “He was heartbroken and had wet his pants. I asked, ‘What’s going on with that child?’ A worker said, ‘Well, his mother abandoned him this morning and he’s been like that all day.’ That was it. No one comforted the little boy or picked him up. That was my introduction.”

The Romanian orphans were not the first devastatingly neglected children to be seen by psychologists in the 20th century. Unresponsive World War II orphans, as well as children kept isolated for long periods in hospitals, had deeply concerned mid-century child-development giants such as René Spitz and John Bowlby. In an era devoted to fighting malnutrition, injury, and infection, the idea that adequately fed and medically stable children could waste away because they missed their parents was hard to believe. Their research led to the then-bold notion, advanced especially by Bowlby, that simply lacking an “attachment figure,” a parent or caregiver, could wreak a lifetime of havoc on mental and physical health.

From the April 1996 issue: Anne F. Thurston describes life in a Chinese orphanage

Neuroscientists tended to view “attachment theory” as suggestive and thought-provoking work within the “soft science” of psychology. It largely relied on case studies or correlational evidence or animal research. In the psychologist Harry Harlow’s infamous “maternal deprivation” experiments, he caged baby rhesus monkeys alone, offering them only maternal facsimiles made of wire and wood, or foam and terry cloth.

In 1998, at a small scientific meeting, animal research presented back-to-back with images from Romanian orphanages changed the course of the study of attachment. First the University of Minnesota neonatal-pediatrics professor Dana Johnson shared photos and videos that he’d collected in Romania of rooms teeming with children engaged in “motor stereotypies”: rocking, banging their heads, squawking. He was followed by a speaker who showed videos of her work with motherless primate infants like the ones Harlow had produced—swaying, twirling, self-mutilating. The audience was shocked by the parallels. “We were all in tears,” Nelson told me.

In the decade after the fall of Ceaușescu, the new Romanian government welcomed Western child-development experts to simultaneously help and study the tens of thousands of children still warehoused in state care. Researchers hoped to answer some long-standing questions: Are there sensitive periods in neural development, after which the brain of a deprived child cannot make full use of the mental, emotional, and physical stimulation later offered? Can the effects of “maternal deprivation” or “caregiver absence” be documented with modern neuroimaging techniques? Finally, if an institutionalized child is transferred into a family setting, can he or she recoup undeveloped capacities? Implicitly, poignantly: Can a person unloved in childhood learn to love?

Tract developments fan out from the Denver airport like playing cards on a table. The Great Plains have been ground down to almost nothing here, to wind and dirt and trash on the shoulder of the highway, to Walgreens and Arby’s and AutoZone. In a rental car, I drive slowly around the semicircles and cul-de-sacs of Izidor’s subdivision until I see him step out of the shadow of a 4,500-square-foot McMansion with a polite half-wave. He sublets a room here, as do others, including some families—an exurban commune in a single-family residence built for Goliaths. At 39, Izidor is an elegant, wiry man with mournful eyes. His manner is alert and tentative. A general manager for a KFC, he works 60-to-65-hour weeks.

Read: American child detention centers’ degrading, inhumane conditions

“Welcome to Romania,” he announces, opening his bedroom door. It’s an entryway into another time, another place. From every visit to his home country, Izidor has brought back folk art and souvenirs—hand-painted glazed plates and teacups, embroidered tea towels, Romanian flags, shot glasses, wood figurines, cut-glass flasks of plum brandy, and CDs of Romanian folk music, heavy on the violins. He could stock a gift shop. There are thick wine-colored rugs, blankets, and wall hangings. The ambient light is maroon, the curtains closed against the high-altitude sunshine. Ten miles southwest of the Denver airport, Izidor is living in an ersatz Romanian cottage.

“Everyone in Maramureş lives like this,” he tells me, referring to the cultural region in northern Romania where he was born.

I’m thinking, Do they, though?

“You will see that many people there have these things in their homes,” he clarifies.

That sounds more accurate. People like knickknacks. “Do you sound like a Romanian when you visit?” I ask.

“No,” he says. “When I start to speak, they ask, ‘Where are you from?’ I tell them: ‘From Maramureş!’ ” No one believes him, because of his accent, so he has to explain: “Technically, if you want to be logical about it, I am Romanian, but I’ve lived in America for more than 20 years.”

“When you meet new people, do you talk about your history?”

“No, I try not to. I want to experience Romania as a normal human being. I don’t want to be known everywhere as ‘the Orphan.’ ”

To cheer Izidor up after his beating, Onisa promised that someday she’d take him home with her for an overnight visit.

His precise English makes even casual phrases sound formal. In his room, Izidor has captured the Romanian folk aesthetic, but something else stirs beneath the surface. I’m reminded of the book he self-published at age 22, titled Abandoned for Life. It’s a grim tale, but once, when he was about 8, Izidor had a happy day.

A kind nanny had started working at the hospital. “Onisa was a young lady, a bit chubby, with long black hair and round rosy cheeks,” Izidor writes in his memoir. “She loved to sing and often taught us some of her music.” One day, Onisa intervened when another nanny was striking Izidor with a broomstick. Like a few others before her, Onisa had spotted his intelligence. On the ward of semi-ambulatory (some crawled or creeped), slightly verbal (some just made noises) children, Izidor was the go-to kid if an adult had questions, like what was that one’s name or when had that one died. The director would occasionally peek in and ask Izidor if he and the other children were being hit; to avoid retribution, Izidor always said no.

Annie Lowrey: How America treats its own children

On that day, to cheer him up after his beating, Onisa promised that someday she’d take him home with her for an overnight visit. Skeptical that such an extraordinary event would ever happen, Izidor thanked her for the nice idea.

A few weeks later, on a snowy winter day, Onisa dressed Izidor in warm clothes and shoes she’d brought from home, took him by the hand, and led him out the front door and through the orphanage gate. Walking slowly, she took the small boy, who swayed on uneven legs with a deep, tilting limp, down the lane past the public hospital and into the town. Cold, fresh air brushed his cheeks, and snow squeaked under his shoes; the wind rattled the branches; a bird stood on a chimney. “It was my first time ever going out into the world,” he tells me now. He looked in astonishment at the cars and houses and shops. He tried to absorb and memorize everything to report back to the kids on his ward.

“When I stepped into Onisa’s apartment,” he writes, “I could not believe how beautiful it was; the walls were covered with dark rugs and there was a picture of the Last Supper on one of them. The carpets on the floor were red.” Neighborhood children knocked on Onisa’s door to see if the strange boy from the orphanage wanted to come out and play, and he did. Onisa’s children arrived home from school, and Izidor learned that it was the start of their Christmas holiday. He feasted alongside Onisa’s family at their friends’ dinner table that night, tasting Romanian specialties for the first time, including sarmale (stuffed cabbage), potato goulash with thick noodles, and sweet yellow sponge cake with cream filling. He remembers every bite. On the living-room floor after dinner, the child of that household let Izidor play with his toys. Izidor followed the boy’s lead and drove little trains across the rug. Back at Onisa’s, he slept in his first-ever soft, clean bed.

The next morning, Onisa asked Izidor if he wanted to go to work with her or to stay with her children. Here he made a mistake so terrible that, 31 years later, he still remembers it with grief.

“I want to go to work with you!” he called. He was deep into a fantasy that Onisa was his mother, and he didn’t want to be parted from her. “I got dressed as fast as I could, and we headed out the door,” he remembers. “When we were near her work, I realized that her work was at the hospital, my hospital, and I began to cry … It had only been 24 hours but somehow I thought I was going to be part of Onisa’s family now. It didn’t occur to me that her work was actually at the hospital until we were at the gate again. I felt so shocked when we turned into the yard it was like I’d forgotten I came from there.”

He tried to turn back but wasn’t permitted. He’d found the most wonderful spot on Earth—Onisa’s apartment—and, through his own stupidity, had let it slip away. He sobbed like a newcomer until the other nannies threatened to slap him.

Today Izidor lives 6,000 miles from Romania. He leads a solitary life. But in his bedroom in a subdivision on a paved-over prairie, he has re-created the setting from the happiest night in his childhood.

“That night at Onisa’s,” I ask, “do you think you sensed that there were family relationships and emotions happening there that you’d never seen or felt before?”

“No, I was too young to perceive that.”

“But you did notice the beautiful furnishings?”

“Yes! You see this?” Izidor says, picking up a tapestry woven with burgundy roses on a dark, leafy background. “This is almost identical to Onisa’s. I bought it in Romania for that reason!”

“All these things …” I gesture.

“Yes.”

“But not because they signify ‘family’ to you?”

“No, but they signify ‘peace’ to me. It was the first time I slept in a real home. For many years I thought, Why can’t I have a home like that? 

Now he does. But he knows there are missing parts—no matter how many shot glasses he collects.

In the early 1990s, Danny and Marlys Ruckel lived with their three young daughters in a San Diego condo. They thought it would be nice to add a boy to the mix, and heard about a local independent filmmaker, John Upton, who was arranging adoptions of Romanian orphans. Marlys called and told him they wanted to adopt a baby boy. “There’s thousands of kids there,” Upton replied. “That’ll be easy.”

Marlys laughs. “Not much of that was accurate!” she tells me. We’re seated in the living room of a white-stucco house in the Southern California wine-country town of Temecula. Kids and dogs bang in and out of the dazzling hot day (the Ruckels have adopted five children from foster care in recent years). Marlys, now a job coach for adults with special needs, is like a Diane Keaton character, shyly retreating behind large glasses and a fall of long hair, but occasionally making brave outbursts. Danny, a programmer, is an easygoing guy. Marlys describes herself as a homebody, but then there was that time she moved to Romania for two months to try to adopt a boy she saw on a video.

Undone by “Shame of a Nation,” Upton had flown to Romania four days after the broadcast, and made his way to the worst place on the show, the Home Hospital for Irrecoverable Children in Sighetu Marmaţiei. He went back a few times. On one visit, he gathered a bunch of kids in an empty room to film them for prospective adoptive parents. His video would not show children packed together naked “like little reptiles in an aquarium,” as he’d described them, but as people, wearing clothes and speaking.

By then, donations had started to come in from charities around the world. Little reached the children, because the staff skimmed the best items, but on that day, in deference to the American, nannies put donated sweaters on the kids. Though the children seemed excited to be the center of attention, Upton and his Romanian assistant found it slow-going. Some didn’t speak at all, and others were unable to stand up or to stand still. When the filmmakers asked for the children’s names and ages, the nannies shrugged.

At the end of a wooden bench sat a boy the size of a 6-year-old—at age 10, Izidor weighed about 50 pounds. Upton was the first American he’d ever seen. Izidor knew about Americans from the TV show Dallas. A donated television had arrived one day, and he had lobbied for this one thing to stay at the hospital. The director had assented. On Sunday nights at 8 o’clock, ambulatory kids, nannies, and workers from other floors gathered to watch Dallas together. When rumors flew up the stairs that day that an American had arrived, the reaction inside the orphanage was, Almighty God, someone from the land of the giant houses!

Izidor knew the information the nannies didn’t. He tells me: “John Upton would ask a kid, ‘How old are you?,’ and the kid would say, ‘I don’t know,’ and the nanny would say, ‘I don’t know,’ and I’d yell, ‘He’s 14!’ He’d ask about another kid, ‘What’s his last name?,’ and I’d yell, ‘Dumka!’ ”

“Izidor knows the children here better than the staff,” Upton grouses in one of the tapes. Before wrapping up the session, he lifts Izidor into his lap and asks if he’d like to go to America. Izidor says that he would.

Back in San Diego, Upton told the Ruckels about the bright boy of about 7 who hoped to come to the United States. “We’d wanted to adopt a baby,” Marlys says. “Then we saw John’s video and fell in love with Izidor.”

In May 1991, Marlys flew to Romania to meet the child and try to bring him home. Just before traveling, she learned that Izidor was almost 11, but she was undaunted. She traveled with a new friend, Debbie Principe, who had also been matched with a child by Upton. In the director’s office, Marlys waited to meet Izidor, and Debbie waited to meet a little blond live wire named Ciprian.

“When Izidor entered,” Marlys says, “all I saw was him, like everything else was fuzzy. He was as beautiful as I’d imagined. Our translator asked him which of the visitors in the office he hoped would be his new mother, and he pointed to me!”

Izidor had a question for the translator: “Where will I live? Is it like Dallas?”

“Well … no, we live in a condo, like an apartment,” Marlys said. “But you’ll have three sisters. You’ll love them.”

This did not strike Izidor as an interesting trade-off. He dryly replied to the translator: “We will see.”

That night, Marlys rejoiced about what an angel Izidor was.

Debbie laughed. “He struck me more like a cool operator, a savvy politician type,” she told Marlys. “He was much more on top of things than Chippy.” Ciprian had spent the time in the office rummaging wildly through everything, including desk drawers and the pockets of everyone in the room.

“No, he’s an innocent. He’s adorable,” Marlys said. “Did you see him pick me to be his mother?”

Years later, in his memoir, Izidor explained that moment:

Marlys was the tall American and Debbie was the short American … “Roxana, which one is going to be my new mother?” I asked [the translator].
“Which one do you want to have as your mother?”
“Which one is my mother?” I begged to know.
“The tall American,” she replied.
“Then that’s who I want to have as my mother,” I said.
When I picked Marlys, she began to cry, filled with joy that I had picked her.

The pediatric neuroscientist Charles Nelson is famously gregarious and kind, with wavy, graying blond hair and a mustache like Captain Kangaroo’s. In the fall of 2000, he, along with his colleagues Nathan A. Fox, a human-development professor at the University of Maryland, and Charles H. Zeanah, a child-psychiatry professor at the Tulane University School of Medicine, launched the Bucharest Early Intervention Project. They had permission to work with 136 children, ages six months to 2.5 years, from six Bucharest leagãne, baby institutions. None was a Home Hospital for Irrecoverable Children, like Izidor’s; they were somewhat better supplied and staffed.

By design, 68 of the children would continue to receive “care as usual,” while the other 68 would be placed with foster families recruited and trained by BEIP. (Romania didn’t have a tradition of foster care; officials believed orphanages were safer for children.) Local kids whose parents volunteered to participate made up a third group. The BEIP study would become the first-ever randomized controlled trial to measure the impact of early institutionalization on brain and behavioral development and to examine high-quality foster care as an alternative.

To start, the researchers employed Mary Ainsworth’s classic “strange situation” procedure to assess the quality of the attachment relationships between the children and their caregivers or parents. In a typical setup, a baby between nine and 18 months old enters an unfamiliar playroom with her “attachment figure” and experiences some increasingly unsettling events, including the arrival of a stranger and the departure of her grown-up, as researchers code the baby’s behavior from behind a one-way mirror. “Our coders, unaware of any child’s background, assessed 100 percent of the community kids as having fully developed attachment relationships with their mothers,” Zeanah told me. “That was true of 3 percent of the institutionalized kids.”

Nearly two-thirds of the children were coded as “disorganized,” meaning they displayed contradictory, jerky behaviors, perhaps freezing in place or suddenly reversing direction after starting to approach the adult. This pattern is the one most closely related to later psychopathology. Even more disturbing, Zeanah told me, 13 percent were deemed “unclassified,” meaning they displayed no attachment behaviors at all. “Ainsworth and John Bowlby believed infants would attach to an adult even if the adult were abusive,” he said. “They hadn’t considered the possibility of infants without attachments.”

Until the Bucharest project, Zeanah said, he hadn’t realized that seeking comfort for distress is a learned behavior. “These children had no idea that an adult could make them feel better,” he told me. “Imagine how that must feel—to be miserable and not even know that another human being could help.”

In October 1991, Izidor and Ciprian flew with Romanian escorts to San Diego. The boys’ new families waited at the airport to greet them, along with Upton and previously adopted Romanian children—a small crowd holding balloons and signs, cheering and waving. Izidor gazed around the terminal with satisfaction. “Where is my bedroom?” he asked. When Marlys told him they were in an airport, not his new home, Izidor was taken aback. Though she’d explained that the Ruckels did not live like the Ewings in Dallas, he hadn’t believed her. Now he’d mistaken the arrivals area for his new living room.

A 17-year-old from the orphanage, Izabela, was part of the airport welcoming committee. Born with hydrocephalus and unable to walk after being left all her life in a crib, she was in a wheelchair, dressed up and looking pretty. Rescued by Upton on an earlier trip, she’d been admitted to the U.S. on a humanitarian medical basis and was being fostered by the Ruckels.

Izidor was startled to see Izabela: “Who is your mother?”

“My mother is your mother, Izidor.”

“I didn’t like the sound of that,” he remembers. To make sure he’d heard correctly, he asked again: “Who is your mother here in America?”

“Izidor, you and I have the same mother,” she said, pointing at Marlys.

So now he had to get used to four sisters.

In the car, when Danny tried to click a seat belt across Izidor’s waist, he bucked and yelled, fearing he was being straitjacketed.

Marlys homeschooled the girls, but Izidor insisted on starting fourth grade in the local school, where he quickly learned English. His canny ability to read the room put him in good stead with the teachers, but at home, he seemed constantly irritated. Suddenly insulted, he’d storm off to his room and tear things apart. “He shredded books, posters, family pictures,” Marlys tells me, “and then stood on the balcony to sprinkle the pieces onto the yard. If I had to leave for an hour, by the time I got home, everyone would be upset: ‘He did this; he did that.’ He didn’t like the girls.”

Marlys and Danny had hoped to expand the family fun and happiness by bringing in another child. But the newest family member almost never laughed. He didn’t like to be touched. He was vigilant, hurt, proud. “By about 14, he was angry about everything,” she tells me. “He decided he’d grow up and become the American president. When he found out that wouldn’t be possible because of his foreign birth, he said, ‘Fine, I’ll go back to Romania.’ That’s when that started—his goal of returning to Romania. We thought it was a good thing for him to have a goal, so we said, ‘Sure, get a job, save your money, and when you’re 18, you can move back to Romania.’ ” Izidor worked every day after school at a fast-food restaurant.

“Those were rough years. I was walking on eggshells, trying not to set him off. The girls were so over it. It was me they were mad at. Not for bringing Izidor into the family but for being so … so whipped by him. They’d say, ‘Mom, all you do is try to fix him!’ I was so focused on helping him adjust, I lost sight of the fact that the other children were scraping by with a fraction of my time.

“Danny and I tried taking him to therapy, but he refused to go back. He said, ‘I don’t need therapy. You two need therapy. Why don’t you go?’ So we did.

“He’d say: ‘I’m fine when nobody’s in the house.’

“We’d say: ‘But Izidor, it’s our house.’ ”

As early as 2003, it was evident to the BEIP scientists and their Romanian research partners that the foster-care children were making progress. Glimmering through the data was a sensitive period of 24 months during which it was crucial for a child to establish an attachment relationship with a caregiver, Zeanah says. Children taken out of orphanages before their second birthday were benefiting from being with families far more than those who stayed longer. “When you’re doing a trial and your preliminary evidence is that the intervention is effective, you have to ask, ‘Do we stop now and make the drug available to everyone?’ ” he told me. “For us, the ‘effective drug’ happened to be foster care, and we weren’t capable of creating a national foster-care system.” Instead, the researchers announced their results publicly, and the next year, the Romanian government banned the institutionalization of children under the age of 2. Since then, it has raised the minimum age to 7, and government-sponsored foster care has expanded dramatically.

Meanwhile, the study continued. When the children were reassessed in a “strange situation” playroom at age 3.5, the portion who displayed secure attachments climbed from the baseline of 3 percent to nearly 50 percent among the foster-care kids, but to only 18 percent among those who remained institutionalized—and, again, the children moved before their second birthday did best. “Timing is critical,” the researchers wrote. Brain plasticity wasn’t “unlimited,” they warned. “Earlier is better.”

The benefits for children who’d achieved secure attachments accrued as time went on. At age 4.5, they had significantly lower rates of depression and anxiety and fewer “callous unemotional traits” (limited empathy, lack of guilt, shallow affect) than their peers still in institutions. About 40 percent of teenagers in the study who’d ever been in orphanages, in fact, were eventually diagnosed with a major psychiatric condition. Their growth was stunted, and their motor skills and language development stalled. MRI studies revealed that the brain volume of the still-institutionalized children was below that of the never institutionalized, and EEGs showed profoundly less brain activity. “If you think of the brain as a light bulb,” Charles Nelson has said, “it’s as though there was a dimmer that had reduced them from a 100-watt bulb to 30 watts.”

One purpose of a baby attaching to just a small number of adults, according to evolutionary theory, is that it’s the most efficient way to get help. “If there were many attachment figures and danger emerged, the infant wouldn’t know to whom to direct the signal,” explains Martha Pott, a senior lecturer in child development at Tufts. Unattached children see threats everywhere, an idea borne out in the brain studies. Flooded with stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, the amygdala—the main part of the brain dealing with fear and emotion—seemingly worked overtime in the still-institutionalized children.

Comparing data from orphanages worldwide shows the profound impact institutionalization has on social-emotional development even in the best cases. “In England’s residential nurseries in the 1960s, there was a reasonable number of caregivers, and the children were materially well provided for. Their IQs, though lower than those of children in families, were well within the average range, up in the 90s,” Zeanah told me. “More recently, the caregiver-child ratio in Greek orphanages was not as good, nor were they as materially well equipped; those kids had IQs in the low-average range. Then, in Romania, you have our kids with really major-league deficits. But here’s the remarkable thing: Across all those settings, the attachment impairments are similar.”

When the children in the Bucharest study were 8, the researchers set up playdates, hoping to learn how early attachment impairments might inhibit a child’s later ability to interact with peers. In a video I watched, two boys, strangers to each other, enter a playroom. Within seconds, things go off the rails. One boy, wearing a white turtleneck, eagerly seizes the other boy’s hand and gnaws on it. That boy, in a striped pullover, yanks back his hand and checks for teeth marks. The researcher offers a toy, but the boy in white is busy trying to hold hands with the other kid, or grab him by the wrists, or hug him, as if he were trying to carry a giant teddy bear. He tries to overturn the table. The other boy makes a feeble effort to save the table, then lets it fall. He’s weird, you can imagine him thinking. Can I go home now?

The boy in the white turtleneck lived in an institution; the boy in the striped pullover was a neighborhood kid.

Nelson cautions that the door doesn’t “slam shut” for children left in institutions beyond 24 months of age. “But the longer you wait to get children into a family,” he says, “the harder it is to get them back on an even keel.”

“Every time we got into another fight,” Izidor remembers, “I wanted one of them to say: ‘Izidor, we wish we had never adopted you and we are going to send you back to the hospital.’ But they didn’t say it.”

Unable to process his family’s affection, he just wanted to know where he stood. It was simpler in the orphanage, where either you were being beaten or you weren’t. “I responded better to being smacked around,” Izidor tells me. “In America, they had ‘rules’ and ‘consequences.’ So much talk. I hated ‘Let’s talk about this.’ As a child, I’d never heard words like ‘You are special’ or ‘You’re our kid.’ Later, if your adoption parents tell you words like that, you feel, Okay, whatever, thanks. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I don’t know what you want from me, or what I’m supposed to do for you.” When banished to his room, for rudeness or cursing or being mean to the girls, Izidor would stomp up the stairs and blast Romanian music or bang on his door from the inside with his fists or a shoe.

Marlys blamed herself. “He said he wanted to go back to his first mother, a woman who hadn’t even wanted him, a woman he didn’t remember. When I took him to the bank to set up his savings account, the bank official filling out the form asked Izidor, ‘What’s your mother’s maiden name?’ I opened my mouth to answer, but he immediately said ‘Maria.’ That’s his birth mother’s name. I know it was probably dumb to feel hurt by that.”

One night when Izidor was 16, Marlys and Danny felt so scared by Izidor’s outburst that they called the police. “I’m going to kill you!” he’d screamed at them. After an officer escorted Izidor to the police car, he insisted that his parents “abused” him.

“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” Danny said when informed of his son’s accusation.

“Great,” said Marlys. “Did he happen to mention how we abuse him?”

Back in the car, the officer asked: “How do your parents abuse you?”

“I work and they take all my money,” Izidor hollered. In the house, the officer searched Izidor’s room, and found his savings-account book.

“We can’t take him,” the officer told the Ruckels. “He’s mad, but there’s nothing wrong here. I’d suggest you lock your bedroom doors tonight.”

Again, they had the thought: But it’s our house.

The next morning Marlys and Danny offered Izidor a ride to school and then drove him straight to a psychiatric hospital instead. “We couldn’t afford it, but we took a tour and it scared him,” Marlys tells me. “He said, ‘Don’t leave me here! I’ll follow your rules. Don’t make me go here!’ Back in the car, we said: ‘Listen, Izidor, you don’t have to love us, but you have to be safe and we have to be safe. You can live at home, work, and go to school until you’re 18. We love you.’ But, you know, the sappy stuff didn’t work with him.”

Living by the rules didn’t last long. One night Izidor stayed out until 2 a.m., and found the house locked. He banged on the door. Marlys opened it a crack. “Your things are in the garage,” she told him.

Izidor would never again live at home. He moved in with some guys he knew; their indifference suited him. “He’d get drunk in the middle of the night and call us, and his friends would get on the line to say vulgar things about our daughters,” Marlys says. “Admittedly, it was finally peaceful in our house, but I worried about him.”

On Izidor’s 18th birthday, Marlys baked a cake and wrapped his gift, a photo album documenting their life together: his first day in America, his first dental appointment, his first job, his first shave. She took the presents to the house where she’d heard her son was staying. The person who answered the door agreed to deliver them when Izidor got back. “In the middle of the night,” Marlys says, “we heard a car squealing around the cul-de-sac, then a loud thud against the front door and the car squealing away. I went down and opened the door. It was the photo album.”

At 20, in 2001, Izidor felt an urgent desire to return to Romania. Short on cash, he wrote letters to TV shows, pitching the exclusive story of a Romanian orphan making his first trip back to his home country. 20/20 took him up on it, and on March 25, 2001, a film crew met him at the Los Angeles airport. So did the Ruckels.

“I thought, This is it. I’ll never see him again,” Marlys says. “I hugged and kissed him whether he wanted me to or not. I told him, ‘You’ll always be our son and we’ll always love you.’ ”

Izidor showed the Ruckels his wallet, in which he’d stuck two family photographs. “In case I do decide to stay there, I’ll have something to remember you by,” he said. Though he meant it kindly, Marlys was chilled by the ease with which Izidor seemed to be exiting their lives.

From the September 1998 issue: Robert D. Kaplan on Romania, the fulcrum of Europe

In Romania, the 20/20 producers took Izidor to visit his old orphanage, where he was feted like a returning prince, and then they revealed, on camera, that they’d found his birth family outside a farming village three hours away. They drove through a snowy landscape and pulled over in a field. A one-room shack sat on a treeless expanse of mud. Wearing a white button-down, a tie, and dress pants, Izidor limped across the soggy, uneven ground. He was shaking. A narrow-faced man emerged from the hut and strode across the field toward him. Oddly, they passed each other like two strangers on a sidewalk. “Ce mai faci?”—How are you?—the man mumbled as he walked by.

Bun,” Izidor muttered. Good.

That was Izidor’s father, after whom he’d been named. Two young women then hurried from the hut and greeted Izidor with kisses on each cheek; these were his sisters. Finally a short, black-haired woman not yet 50 identified herself as Maria—his mother—and reached out to hug him. Suddenly angry, Izidor swerved past her. How can I greet someone I barely know?, he remembers thinking. She crossed her hands on her chest and began to wail, “Fiul meu! Fiul meu! ” My son! My son!

The house had a dirt floor, and an oil lamp glowed dimly. There was no electricity or plumbing. The family offered Izidor the best seat in the house, a stool. “Why was I put in the hospital in the first place?” he asked.

“You were six weeks old when you got sick,” Maria said. “We took you to the doctor to see what was wrong. Your grandparents checked on you a few weeks later, but then there was something wrong with your right leg. We asked the doctor to fix your leg, but no one would help us. So we took you to a hospital in Sighetu Marmaţiei, and that’s where we left you.”

“Why did no one visit me for 11 years? I was stuck there, and no one ever told me I had parents.”

“Your father was out of work. I was taking care of the other children. We couldn’t afford to come see you.”

“Do you know that living in the Cămin Spital was like living in hell?”

“My heart,” cried Maria. “You must understand that we’re poor people; we were moving from one place to another.”

Agitated, almost unable to catch his breath, Izidor got up and went outside. His Romanian family invited him to look at a few pictures of his older siblings who’d left home, and he presented them with his photo album: Here was a sunlit, grinning Izidor poolside, wearing medals from a swimming competition; here were the Ruckels at the beach in Oceanside; here they were at a picnic table in a verdant park. The Romanians turned the shiny pages wordlessly. When the TV cameras were turned off, Izidor tells me, Maria asked whether the Ruckels had hurt him or taught him to beg. He assured her neither was true.

“You look thin,” Maria went on. “Maybe your American mother doesn’t feed you enough. Move in with us. I will take care of you.” She then pressed him for details about his jobs and wages in America and asked if he’d like to build the family a new house. After three hours, Izidor was exhausted and eager to leave. “He called me from Bucharest,” Marlys says, “and said, ‘I have to come home. Get me out of here. These people are awful.’ ”

“My birth family scared me, especially Maria,” Izidor says. “I had a feeling I could get trapped there.”

A few weeks later he was back in Temecula, working in a fast-food restaurant. But suddenly, he found himself longing for Romania again. It would become a pattern, restless relocation in search of somewhere that felt like home.

Friends told him there were jobs in Denver, so he decided to move to Colorado. Danny and Marlys visit him there and have gone on trips to Romania with him. It’s harder for him to come home to California, Marlys says. “Thanksgiving, Christmas—they’re too much for him. Even when he lived on his own nearby, he was bad at holidays. He always made an excuse, like ‘I have to make the pizza dough.’ When our whole family is here and someone asks, ‘Is Izidor coming?,’ someone will say, ‘Nope, he’s making the pizza dough.’ ”

The neuropsychologist Ron Federici was another of the first wave of child-development experts to visit the institutions for the “unsalvageables,” and he has become one of the world’s top specialists caring for post-institutionalized children adopted into Western homes. “In the early years, everybody had starry eyes,” Federici says. “They thought loving, caring families could heal these kids. I warned them: These kids are going to push you to the breaking point. Get trained to work with special-needs children. Keep their bedrooms spare and simple. Instead of ‘I love you,’ just tell them, ‘You are safe.’ ” But most new or prospective parents couldn’t bear to hear it, and the adoption agencies that set up shop overnight in Romania weren’t in the business of delivering such dire messages. “I got a lot of hate mail,” says Federici, who is fast-talking and blunt, with a long face and a thatch of shiny black hair. “ ‘You’re cold! They need love! They’ve got to be hugged.’ ” But the former marine, once widely accused of being too pessimistic about the kids’ futures, is now considered prescient.

Federici and his wife adopted eight children from brutal institutions themselves: three from Russia and five from Romania, including a trio of brothers, ages 8, 10, and 12. The two oldest weighed 30 pounds each and were dying from untreated hemophilia and hepatitis C when he carried them out the front door of their orphanage; it took the couple two years to locate the boys’ younger brother in another institution. Since then, in his clinical practice in Northern Virginia, Federici has seen 9,000 young people, close to a third of them from Romania. Tracking his patients across the decades, he has found that 25 percent require round-the-clock care, another 55 percent have “significant” challenges that can be managed with adult-support services, and about 20 percent are able to live independently.

“I have known since I was 15 that I would not have a family,” Izidor says. “The way I see myself is that there would be no human being who would ever want to get close to me.”

The most successful parents, he believes, were able to focus on imparting basic living skills and appropriate behaviors. “The Ruckels are a good example—they hung on, and he’s doing okay. But I just had a family today. I knew this girl from Romania forever, first saw her when she was a little girl with the whole post-traumatic stress picture: fear, anxiety, uncertainty, depression. She’s 22 now. The parents said, ‘We’re done. She’s into drugs, alcohol, self-injury. She’s on the streets.’ I said, ‘Let’s get you back on a family program.’ They said, ‘No, we’re exhausted, we can’t afford more treatment—it’s time to focus on our other kids.’ ”

Within his own family, Federici and his wife have become the permanent legal guardians for four of his Romanian children, who are now all adults. Two of them work, under supervision, for a foundation he established in Bucharest; the other two live with their parents in Virginia. (The fifth is a stirring example of the fortunate 20 percent—he’s an ER physician in Wisconsin.) Both of his adult sons who haven’t left home are cognitively impaired, but they have jobs and are pleasant to be around, according to Federici. “They’re happy!” he exclaims. “Are they 100 percent attached to us? Hell no. Are they content with the family? Yes. Can they function in the world, around other people? Absolutely. They’ve figured out ways, not to overcome what happened to them—you can’t really overcome—but to adapt to it and not take other people hostage.”

When a baby was born into the family nine years ago—the family’s only biological child—the doctor began to see new behaviors in his older kids. “The little one is a rock star to them,” he says. “The big brothers at home are so protective of him. In public, in restaurants, God forbid anyone would hurt him or touch a hair on his head. It’s an interesting dynamic: No one watched out for them in their childhoods, but they’ve appointed themselves his bodyguards. He’s their little brother. He’s been to Romania with them. Is this love? It’s whatever. They’re more attached to him than to us, which is absolutely fine.”

By any measure, Izidor—living independently—is a success story among the survivors of Ceauşescu’s institutions. “Do you imagine ever having a family?” I ask. We’re in his room in the giant house outside Denver.

“You mean of my own? No. I have known since I was 15 that I would not have a family. Seeing all my friends in dumb relationships, with jealousy and control and depression—I thought, Really? All that for a relationship? No. The way I see myself is that there would be no human being who would ever want to get close to me. Someone might say that’s false, but that’s how I see myself. If someone tries to get close, I get away. I’m used to it. It’s called a celibacy life.”

He says he doesn’t miss what he never knew, what he doesn’t even perceive. Perhaps it’s like color blindness. Do people with color blindness miss green? He focuses on the tasks before him and does his best to act the way humans expect other humans to act.

“You can be the smartest orphan in the hospital. But you are missing things,” Izidor says. “I’m not a person who can be intimate. It’s hard on a person’s parents, because they show you love and you can’t return it.”

Though Izidor says he wants to live like a “normal” human, he still regularly consents to donning the mantle of former orphan to give talks around the U.S. and Romania about what institutionalization does to little kids. He’s working with a screenwriter on a miniseries about his life, believing that if people could be made to understand what it’s like to live behind fences, inside cages, they’d stop putting children there. He’s keenly aware that up to 8 million children around the world are institutionalized, including those at America’s southern border. Izidor’s dream is to buy a house in Romania and create a group home for his own former wardmates—those who were transferred to nursing homes or put out on the streets. A group home for his fellow post-institutionalized adults is as close to the idea of family as Izidor can get.

Neural pathways thrive in the brain of a baby showered with loving attention; the pathways multiply, intersect, and loop through remote regions of the brain like a national highway system under construction. But in the brain of a neglected baby—a baby lying alone and unwanted every week, every year—fewer connections get built. The baby’s wet diaper isn’t changed. The baby’s smiles aren’t answered. The baby falls silent. The door is closing, but a sliver of light shines around the frame.

People once in a while paid attention to the baby with the twisted leg. Nannies thought he was appealing, and quick-witted. The director talked to him. One brilliant winter afternoon, Onisa took him out of the orphanage, and he walked down a street.

Sometimes, Izidor has feelings.

Two years after the Ruckels kicked him out, Izidor was getting a haircut from a stylist who knew the family. “Did you hear what happened to your family?” she asked. “Your mom and sisters got in a terrible car accident yesterday. They’re in the hospital.”

Izidor tore out of there, took the day off from work, bought three dozen red roses, and showed up at the hospital.

“We were in the truck coming out of Costco,” Marlys recalls, “and a guy hit us really hard—it was a five-car crash. After a few hours at the hospital, we were released. I didn’t call Izidor to tell him. We weren’t speaking. But he found out, and I guess at the hospital he said, ‘I’m here to see the Ruckel family,’ and they said, ‘They’re not here anymore,’ which he took to mean ‘They’re dead.’ ”

Izidor raced from the hospital to the house—the house he’d been boycotting, the family he hated.

Danny Ruckel wasn’t going to let him in without a negotiation. “What are your intentions?” he would ask. “Do you promise to be decent to us?” Izidor would promise. Danny would allow Izidor to enter the living room and face everyone, to stand there with his arms full of flowers and his eyes wet with tears. Before leaving that day, Izidor would lay the flowers in his mother’s arms and say, with a greater attempt at earnestness than they’d ever heard before, “These are for all of you. I love you.” It would mark a turning point. From that day on, something would be softer in him, regarding the Ruckel family.

But first Izidor was obliged to approach the heavy wooden door, the door against which he’d hurled the photo album Marlys made for his birthday, the door he’d slammed behind him a hundred times, the door he’d battered and kicked when he was locked out. He knocked and stood on the front step, head hanging, heart pounding, unsure whether he’d be admitted. I abandoned them, I neglected them, I put them through hell, he thought. The prickly stems of burgundy-red roses wrapped in dark leaves and plastic bristled in his arms.

And then they opened the door.


* Due to an editing oversight, the print version of this article used the term papoose to describe swaddled babies; we removed the word from the online version of the article after a reader pointed out that many, including Merriam-Webster, consider it offensive.


Lily Samuel contributed research to this article. It appears in the July/August 2020 print edition with the headline “Can an Unloved Child Learn to Love?”

Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Fiction is full of stories of shipwrecked people winding up on deserted islands (like Tom Hanks in Cast Away), or, more implausibly, getting stuck for months on a raft in open water (like in Life of Pi). Well, surprisingly, real life is full of those stories, too.

We spoke to Steve Callahan, who took off from the Canary Islands in 1982 to sail to the island of Antigua in the Caribbean, completing a circuit of the North Atlantic that he began in 1981. Eight days in, a whale rammed into and sunk his boat. Steve managed to escape to a life raft with supplies and drifted across the Atlantic for 76 goddamned days before he was finally rescued. We asked Steve how such a thing is even possible, and he told us ...

It's About Managing a Parade of Overlapping Disasters

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Right after a disaster strikes -- in my case, when my boat sank and I found myself adrift on a tiny life raft -- there's a period of recoil, the shock of feeling like your entire life has been flushed away. Ever see those movies where they say your life flashes before your eyes? Well, it happens. All your failures, everything from not making the JV jai alai team in high school to betting that the Red Sox would win the '86 World Series, come back to you. You think of people you treated badly. Some people don't make it out of this stage.

how i met your nnother

This year, thousands of people will die with the How I Met Your Mother finale as their last memory. Don't become a statistic.

I was adrift at sea for two and a half months, so I had no choice but to move on. After the initial shock (which for me lasted about two weeks) came survival mode. I fished, got water, made tools, and lived like an aquatic caveman. You've probably heard the saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention." Well, survival situations are that, but on PCP. You don't have a choice -- you die if you aren't creative.

Remember, in a survival situation, you are on a knife edge over a chasm. It is painful and dangerous, and -- maybe you shouldn't have been walking across knives in the first place -- there's no time for regret now. Your entire day becomes a series of nigh-catastrophic threats. If the raft springs a leak, this suddenly moves to the top of the "things to do to not die" list. However, that list is never only one item long -- hypothermia, for example, is actually one of the deadliest threats you face in a lifeboat. It can end you in hours, even minutes. The first few nights were the roughest -- it was cold out, and I was wet. Then it was way too hot, and I went from all clothes and blankets to no clothes and pouring water over myself to remain cool.

S

And you can't even yell at your kids for touching the thermostat.

Water was usually the second priority, and I had just enough to survive (a pint and a quarter per day, less than recommended) collected from rain and solar stills (solar stills being the devices that raise seawater to Waterworld levels of drinkability using condensation to separate out the salt). Food is a distant third priority. A lack of water will kill you after several days, but it takes a whole month to starve -- you won't live long enough to suffer the unthinkable agony of starvation unless you're lucky.

Then there were all of the miscellaneous annoyances, like sharks gnawing on the ballast tanks. It's never just one disaster at a time, is the point -- you have a lot of plates to keep spinning if you want to remain alive. And if you're wondering how a person doesn't have a mental breakdown after a while, well, that brings me to the most important tools I had on the raft: pencil and paper. I always used writing as a sounding board in journals, and it helped me distance myself from the situation. That alone let me maintain a regular routine and something that approached a normal life.

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

"Star Date 4315.7: Today, Ensign Gilly Buckwalter was killed and eaten by 'cannibals.'"

Well, maybe "normal" isn't the right word ...

You Get in Touch With Nature ... in Very Weird Ways

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

I'm going to take a stand here and declare that people are not meant to live in the middle of the ocean. No land, really dark nights, and the chance of a rogue wave hitting you are all big "NO HUMANS HERE PLEASE" signposts. But I had grown up in the wilderness and spent a lot of time out at sea -- I was probably more prepared for this than most. Even so, those weeks in the ocean utterly changed my relationship with the sea ... and the fish.

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

"You wish you were half the soldier Ensign Buckwalter was!"

After a few weeks, my raft gathered all sorts of life. It was almost like a mini-island out there, so there was algae and barnacles and fish gathering around me like I was an even less powerful Aquaman. I formed a relationship with those fish. I could identify them individually by remembering distinct colorings, scars, and behavior, and the same ones came back day after day.

Yes, I relied on them for food, but we got into this love-death relationship. Fish are friends and food. They are not packages of meat -- you are aware of their existence. I looked at them as my superiors. While I was suffering, they were swimming around, making love, and looking like they were having fun. They were in a much better position than me, and in the context of our environment they were almost smarter than me. Over the weeks and months, the fish fed me, almost killed me (by ripping a gash in my raft), and ultimately saved me by attracting birds, which lured fishermen from Guadalupe who know that birds can signal the presence of fish. This little mini-ecosystem that formed around my raft island led civilization to find me again, and wound up saving my life.

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Kind of like if Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! was written by Bear Grylls.

If that makes it sound like I started to get a little bit loopy out there, well ...

You Go a Little Bit Nuts

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

My dreams changed dramatically out there. Every time I slept, I dreamed of what my body needed. It wasn't just food, but oddly specific food. I never dreamed of steaks; it was always fruit and fats and bread. This is probably because I had plenty of protein from the fish, and also the ocean's notable lack of orchards.

My sense of taste also changed, and by that I mean I started to see fish eyes as candy.

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Like this, only with fish eyeballs.

Obviously I started eating fish. You know, it's not like you're going to run into a cow swimming around out there. But by the end of the voyage I looked forward to the eyes and liver, because they had all sorts of vitamins my body was begging me for, and that made the fish taste so unbelievably good. I ate delicacies you find only in exotic seafood restaurants not because I had to, but because I wanted to. You tell yourself it's gross, but you suddenly want it, because fish meat and water are driving you mad, and also you might be dying of some sort of deficiency.

This aspect is something that a lot of movies don't really touch on -- the way your body drives you to do the things that need to be done, whether you want to or not. When you read survival books by people who were never in critical situations, they try to explain survival as "the will to survive," as in having the courage to not just curl into a ball and give up. But survival is not a noble or admirable thing that only the most awesome humans pull off -- it's something we are hardwired to do.

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

"Hey. Hey, Steve. Hey. You're dying. Quit it."

People think they could never do what I did, but once in that situation, many of them would go from their normal city brain into a survival state of mind faster than they'd think. Your body is good at guiding you toward the things that will keep it from croaking, and so suddenly you're hungry for fish eyes.

The Sea Is Different (and Much More Horrifying) Than Movies Show

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Since my ordeal, I have been involved with several survival films -- there aren't all that many people out there with my, well, firsthand experience with the subject. For example, I was on the set of Life of Pi, working with director Ang Lee and helping make sure things were authentic in the character's raft. It's a fantasy movie, but we tried to make it as realistic as we could, including some things that nautical movies just never seem to get right (or rarely do).

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

"The tiger is supposed to be Siberian, you two-bit hack!"

For example, the water. To filmmakers and airplane passengers, the ocean is just a big, gray, wet expanse. When you're actually on that raft in the middle of the ocean, the water is clear and filled with fish and barnacles; it's this massively deep, dynamic, living body that's under you. Most movies blend shots of the ocean with scenes filmed on a sound stage filled with water (you're not looking to drown the actors or get your whole set wiped out by a rogue wave, after all). It all comes out looking like a shallow, lifeless pool. We tried to make the sea come alive, giving the surfaces and skies huge variety to make them resemble actual ocean surfaces, and I think we succeeded.

As for survival, most movies like Cast Away get the general human elements right -- we see Tom Hanks slowly adjusting, figuring out fire and masturbating in bushes. (That happened in Cast Away, right?) It's more the physical nuts and bolts of ocean-set survival films that get it wrong, mainly because it can be too horrible. When I was found off the coast of the French Caribbean islands, I was covered in salt water sores, which are open ulcers that form on the skin. Despite being out for less than three months, I had lost a third of my weight (Hanks lost about a quarter of his weight for the Cast Away role, for comparison).

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Tom Hanks got $20 million to do so.

We really couldn't show Pi as he would have appeared after 229 days adrift. People would run screaming from the theaters. In short, the open ocean is far more wondrous and complex than what film can convey, and what happens to your body is way more disgusting than can be shown if you want a PG-13 rating.

You Learn to Appreciate Life ... and Blind Luck

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Water, like the husband in a Lifetime Original Movie, is unpredictable and violent. My boat and supplies deteriorated at an astonishing rate. I had line and knives, but I had to fix my raft with no glue or duct tape or, well, anything else that would actually be useful. I had a patching kit, but the instruction included the words "material must be dry prior to application," which is not terribly helpful on a boat that is constantly trying to sink.

The fish often broke my spear, and at one point the fish I had speared broke the shaft and rammed the tip into my raft Ben-Hur style, creating a big hole. I had to scramble to fix it, managing to roughly cover the hole with available material. It took 10 days and nearly killed me in the process.

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

"Oh yeah? Well, this one time I needed to change a flat tire. I called AAA all by myself and everything!"

I was very, very fortunate to make it through. When I talk to other survivors, I hear the same thing -- we don't consider ourselves heroic, and to a large degree only luck separates us from the ones who never make it out to tell their story. And, yes, it changes how you think.

It's a wake-up call. Many survivors suddenly have their priorities straight. The cliche is that you come out stronger ... because you do. You learn things about yourself -- what your weaknesses are and what you're willing to do (see: ravenously eating fish eyes like they're Skittles).

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

What doesn't kill you only gives you strangely specific food addictions.

In the midst of the chaos at sea, there can be moments of wonder and beauty, too. During one amazing night, the sky was filled with stars, and the fish twinkled with bioluminescence. I wrote in my journal that night: "It's a view of heaven from a seat in hell." And that pretty much summarized my experience. Tiny bits of wonder peeking through the awful struggle to stay alive.


Steve Callahan is also an author. Evan V. Symon is the interview setter-upper guy at Cracked, who, in addition to being a contributor to the De-Textbook, is one of many moderators on Cracked to be part of a super fantastic podcast.

Related Reading: Cracked is just, all about talking to people who've lived through unique experiences. Like this woman who was raised in a Christian fundamentalist cult. We also spoke with a man who joined Scientology's secret space navy and a woman who starred in one of those Weight Loss infomercials. If you've got a story to share with Cracked, you can reach us here.

Related: The (Accident Riddled) History Of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Findings

C. The Committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The Committee is unable to identify the other gunman or the extent of the conspiracy.
Go to the footnotes for this chapter.
  • The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Soviet Government was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy
  • The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Cuban Government was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy
  • The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that anti-Castro Cuban groups, as groups, were not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, but that the available evidence does not preclude the possibility that individual members may have been involved
  • The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the national syndicate of organized crime, as a group, was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, but that the available evidence does not preclude the possibility that individual members may have been involved
  • The Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Central Intelligence Agency were not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once simply defined conspiracy as "a partnership in criminal purposes." (1) That definition is adequate. Nevertheless, it may be helpful to set out a more precise definition. If two or more individuals agreed to take action to kill President Kennedy, and at least one of them took action in furtherance of the plan, and it resulted in President Kennedy's death, the President would have been assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.

The committee recognizes, of course, that while the work "conspiracy" technically denotes only a "partnership in criminal purposes," it also, in fact, connotes widely varying meanings to many people, and its use has vastly differing societal implications depending upon the sophistication, extent and ultimate purpose of the partnership. For example, a conspiracy to assassinate a President might be a complex plot orchestrated by foreign political powers; it might be the scheme of a group of American citizens dissatisfied with particular governmental policies; it also might be the plan of two largely isolated individuals with no readily discernible motive.

Conspiracies may easily range, therefore, from those with important implications for social or governmental institutions to those with no major societal significance. As the evidence concerning the probability that President Kennedy was assassinated as a result of a "conspiracy" is analyzed, these various connotations of the word "conspiracy" and distinctions between them ought to be constantly borne in mind. Here, as elsewhere, words must be used carefully, lest people be misled.1

A conspiracy cannot be said to have existed in Dealey Plaza unless evidence exists from which, in Justice Holmes' words, a "partnership in criminal purposes" may be inferred. The Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was not involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the President was, for example, largely based on its findings of the absence of evidence of significant association (2) between Oswald and other possible conspirators and no physical evidence of conspiracy.(3) The Commission reasoned, quite rightly, that in the absence of association or physical evidence, there was no conspiracy.

Even without physical evidence of conspiracy at the scene of the assassination, there would, of course, be a conspiracy if others assisted Oswald in his efforts. Accordingly, an examination of Oswald's associates is necessary. The Warren Commission recognized that a first premise in a finding of conspiracy may be a finding of association. Because the Commission did not find any significant Oswald associ-

1It might be suggested that because of the widely varying meanings attached to the word "conspiracy," it ought to be avoided. Such a suggestion, however, raises another objection-- the search for euphemistic variations can lead to a lack of candor. There is virtue in seeing something for what it is, even if the plain truth causes discomfort.

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ates, it was not compelled to face the difficult questions posed by such a finding. More than association is required to establish conspiracy. There must be at least knowing assistance or a manifestation of agreement to the criminal purpose by the associate.

It is important to realize, too, that the term "associate" may connote widely varying meanings to different people. A person's associate may be his next door neighbor and vacation companion, or it may be an individual he has met only once for the purpose of discussing a contract for a murder. The Warren Commission examined Oswald's past and concluded he was essentially a loner. (4) It reasoned, therefore, that since Oswald had no significant associations with persons who could have been involved with him in the assassination, there could not have been a conspiracy. (5)

With respect to Jack Ruby, 2 the Warren Commission similarly found no significant associations, either between Ruby and Oswald or between Ruby and others who might have been conspirators with him. (8) In particular, it found no connections between Ruby and organized crime, and it reasoned that absent such associations, there was no conspiracy to kill Oswald or the president. (9)

The committee conducted a three-pronged investigation of conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination. On the basis of extensive scientific analysis and an analysis of the testimony of Dealey Plaza witnesses, the committee found there was a high probability that two gunmen fired at President Kennedy.

Second, the committee explored Oswald's and Ruby's contact for any evidence of significant associations. Unlike the Warren Commission, it found certain of these contacts to be of investigative significance. The Commission apparently had looked for evidence of conspiratorial association. Finding none on the face of the associations it investigated, it did not go further. The committee, however, conducted a wider ranging investigation. Notwithstanding the possibility of a benign reason for contact between Oswald or Ruby and one of their associates, the committee examined the very fact of the contact to see if it contained investigative significance. Unlike the Warren Commission, the committee took a close look at the associates to determine whether conspiratorial activity in the assassination could have been possible, given what the committee could learn about the associates, and whether the apparent nature of the contact should, therefore, be examined more closely. 3

Third, the committee examined groups-- political organizations, national governments and so on--that might have had the motive, opportunity and means to assassinate the President.

The committee, therefore, directly introduced the hypothesis of conspiracy and investigated it with reference to known facts to determine if it had any bearing on the assassination.

2The Warren Commission devoted its Appendix XVI to a biography of Jack Ruby in which his family background, psychological makeup, education and business activities were considered. While the evidence was sometimes contradictory, the Commission found that Ruby grew up in Chicago, the son of Jewish immigrants; that he lived in a home disrupted by domestic strife; (6) that he was troubled psychologically as a youth and not educated beyond high school; and that descriptions of his temperament ranged from "mild mannered" to "violent."(7) In 1963, Ruby was 52 and unmarried. He ran a Dallas nightclub but was not particularly successful in business. His acquaintances included a number of Dallas police officers who frequented his nightclub, as well as other types of people who comprised his clientele.

3The committee found associations of both Ruby and Oswald that were unknown to the Warren Commission.

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The committee examined a series of major groups or organizations that have been alleged to have been involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the President. If any of these groups or organizations, as a group, had been involved in the assassination, the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy would have been one of major significance.

As will be detailed in succeeding sections of this report, the committee did not find sufficient evidence that any of these groups or organizations were involved in a conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination. Accordingly, the committee concluded, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Soviet government, the Cuban government, anti-Castro Cuban groups, and the national syndicate of organized crime were not involved in the assassination. Further, the committee found that the Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Central Intelligence Agency were not involved in the assassination.

Based on the evidence available to it, the committee could not preclude the possibility that individual members of anti-Castro Cuban groups or the national syndicate of organized crime were involved in the assassination. There was insufficient evidence, however, to support a finding that any individual members were involved. The ramifications of a conspiracy involving such individuals would be significant, although of perhaps less import than would be the case if a group itself, the national syndicate, for example had been involved.

The committee recognized that a finding that two gunmen fired simultaneously at the President did not, by itself, establish that there was a conspiracy to assassinate the President. It is theoretically possible that the gunmen were acting independently, each totally unaware of the other. It was the committee's opinion, however, that such a theoretical possibility is extremely remote. The more logical and probable inference to be drawn from two gunmen firing at the same person at the same time and in the same place is that they were acting in concert, that is, as a result of a conspiracy.

The committee found that, to be precise and loyal to the facts it established, it, was compelled to find that President Kennedy was probably killed as a result of a conspiracy. The committee's finding that President Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy was premised on four factors:
(1) Since the Warren Commission's and FBI's investigation into the possibility of a conspiracy was seriously flawed, their failure to develop evidence of a conspiracy could not be given independent weight.
(2) The Warren Commission was, in fact, incorrect in concluding that Oswald and Ruby had no significant associations, and therefore its finding of no conspiracy was not reliable.
(3) While it cannot be inferred from the significant associations of Oswald and Ruby that any of the major groups examined by the committee were involved in the assassination, a more limited conspiracy could not be ruled out.
(4) There was a high probability that a second gunman, in fact, fired at the President. At the same time, the committee candidly stated, in expressing it finding of conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination, that it was "unable to identify the other gunman or the extent of the conspiracy.
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The photographic and other scientific evidence available to the committee was insufficient to permit the committee to answer these questions. In addition, the committee's other investigative efforts did not develop evidence from which Oswald's conspirator or conspirators could be firmly identified. It is possible, of course, that the extent of the conspiracy was so limited that it involved only Oswald and the second gunman. The committee was not able to reach such a conclusion, for it would have been based on speculation, not evidence. Aspects of the investigation did suggest that the conspiracy may have been relatively limited, but to state with precision exactly how small was not possible. Other aspects of the committee's investigation did suggest, however, that while the conspiracy may not have involved a major group, it may not have been limited to only two people. These aspects of the committee's investigation are discussed elsewhere.

If the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy was limited to Oswald and a second gunman, its main societal significance may be in the realization that agencies of the U.S. Government inadequately investigated the possibility of such a conspiracy. In terms of its implications for government and society, an assassination as a consequence of a conspiracy composed solely of Oswald and a small number of persons, possibly only one, and possibly a person akin to Oswald in temperament and ideology, would not have been fundamentally different from an assassination by Oswald alone. 4

4If the conspiracy was, in fact, limited to Oswald, the second gunman, and perhaps one or two others, the committee believes it was possible they shared Oswald's left-wing political disposition. A consistent pattern in Oswald's life (see section A 5) was a propensity for actions with political overtones. It is quite likely that an assassination conspiracy limited to Oswald and a few associates was in keeping with that pattern.
     Further it is possible that associates of Oswald in the Kennedy assassination had been involved with him in earlier activities. Two possibilities: the attempt on the life of Gen. Edwin A. Walker in April 1963 and the distribution of Fair Play for Cuba Committee literature in August 1963. With respect to the Walker incident, there was substantial evidence that Oswald did the shooting (section A 5), although at the time of the shooting it was not sufficient to implicate Oswald or anyone else. It was not until after the Kennedy assassination that Oswald became a suspect in the Walker attack, based on the testimony of his widow Marina. Marina's characterization of Oswald is more consistent with his having shot at Walker alone than his having assistance, although at the time of the shooting there was testimony that tended to indicate more than one person was involved. Further, it is not necessary to believe all of what Marina said about the incident or to believe that Oswald told her all there was to know, since either of them might have been concealing the involvement of others.
     According to a general offense report of the Dallas police, Walker reported at approximately 9:10 p.m. on April 10, 1963, that a bullet had been fired through a first floor window of his home at 4011 Turtle Creek Boulevard, Dallas. Detectives subsequently found that a bullet had first shattered a window, then gone through a wall and had landed on a stack of papers in an adjoining room. In their report the detectives described the bullet as steel-jacketed, of unknown caliber.
     Police located a 14-year-old boy in Walker's neighborhood who said that after hearing the shot, he climbed a fence and looked into an alley to the rear of Walker's home. The boy said he then saw some men speeding down the alley in a light green or light blue Ford, either a 1959 or 1960 model. He said he also saw another car, a 1958 Chevrolet, black with white down the side, in a church parking lot adjacent to Walker's house. The car door was open, and a man was bending over the back seat, as though he was placing something on the floor of the car.
      On the night of the incident, police interviewed Robert Surrey, an aide to Walker. Surrey said that on Saturday, April 6, at about 9 p.m., he had seen two men sitting in a dark purple or brown 1963 Ford at the rear of Walker's house. Surrey also said the two men got out of the car and walked around the house. Surrey said he was suspicious and followed the car, noting that it carried no license plate.
     If it could be shown that Oswald had associates in the attempt on General Walker, they would be likely candidates as the grassy knoll gunmen. The committee recognized, however, that this is speculation, since the existence, much less identity, of an Oswald associate in the Walker shooting was hardly established. Further, the committee failed in its effort to develop productive leads in the Walker shooting.
    With respect to the Cuba literature incident, Oswald was photographed with two associates distributing pro-Castro pamphlets in August 1963. As a result of a fight with anti-Castro Cubans, Oswald was arrested, but his associates were not. Of the two associates, only one was identified in the Warren Commission investigation (Warren Report, p. 292). Although the second associate was clearly portrayed in photographs (see Pizzo Exhibits 453-A and 453-B. Warren Commission Report, Vol. XXI, p. 139), the Commission was unable to identify him, as was the case with the committee.


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1. THE COMMITTEE BELIEVES, ON THE BASIS OF THE EVIDENCE AVAILABLE TO IT, THAT THE SOVIET GOVERNMENT WAS NOT INVOLVED IN THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY
Go to the footnotes for this section.
  1. United States-Soviet Relations
  2. The Warren Commission investigation
  3. The committee's investigation
    1. Oswald in the U.S.S.R.
    2. Treatment of defectors by the Soviet Government
    3. Yuri Nosenko
    4. Opinions of other defectors
    5. Marina Oswald
    6. Response of the Soviet Government
  4. Summary of the evidence
With the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of President Kennedy, speculation arose over the significance of Oswald's defection to the Soviet Union from October 1959 to June 1962, and his activities while living in that country. Specifically, these troubling questions were asked:
Had Oswald been enlisted by the KGB, the Soviet secret police?.
Could the assassination have been the result of a KGB plot?(1)
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(a) United States-Soviet relations

To put these concerns in context, it is necessary to look at Soviet-American relations in the 1960's. United States-Soviet relations had, in fact, been turbulent during the Kennedy Presidency. There had been major confrontations: over Berlin, where the wall had come to symbolize the barrier between the two superpowers; and over Cuba, where the emplacement of Soviet missiles had nearly started World War III. (2)

A nuclear test-ban treaty in August 1963 seemed to signal detente, but in November, tension was building again, as the Soviets harassed, American troop movements to and from West Berlin.(3) And Cuba was as much an issue as ever. In Miami, on November 18, President Kennedy vowed the United States would not countenance the establishment of another Cuba in the Western Hemisphere.(4)

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(b) The Warren Commission investigation

The Warren Commission considered the possibility of Soviet complicity in the assassination, but it concluded there was no evidence of it.(5) In its report, the Commission noted that the same conclusion had been reached by Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, among others.(6) Rusk testified before the Commission on June 10, 1964:
I have seen no evidence that would indicate to me that the Soviet Union considered that it had any interest in the removal of President Kennedy ...I can't see how it could be to the interest of the Soviet Union to make any such effort.
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(c) The committee's investigation

The committee, in analyzing Oswald's relationship to Russian intelligence, considered:
Statements of both Oswald and his wife, Marina, about their life in the Soviet Union;(7)
Documents provided by the Soviet Government to the Warren Commission concerning Oswald's residence in the Soviet Union; (8)
Statements by Soviet experts in the employ, current or past, of the Central Intelligence Agency;(9)
Files on other defectors to the Soviet Union; (10) and
Statements by defectors from the Soviet Union to the United States. (11)
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(1) Oswald in the U.S.S.R.---The committee reviewed the documents Oswald wrote about his life in the Soviet Union, including his diary and letters to his mother, Marguerite, and brother, Robert. They paralleled, to a great extent, the information in documents provided to the Warren Commission by the Soviet Government after the assassination. (13) These documents were provided to the Commission in response to its request that the Soviet Government give the Commission any "available information concerning the activities of Lee Harvey Oswald during his residence from 1959 to 1962 in the Soviet Union, in particular, copies of any official records concerning him."(14)

Two sets of documents, totaling approximately 140 pages, were turned over to the Commission by the Soviets in November 1963 and in May 1964.(15) They were routine, official papers. None of them appeared to have come from KGB files, and there were no records of interviews of Oswald by the KGB, nor were there any surveillance reports. Unfortunately, the authenticity of the documents could not be established. The signatures of Soviet officials, for example, were illegible.(16)

Nevertheless, the Soviet documents and Oswald's own statements give this account of Oswald's stay in the Soviet Union:
He lived there from October 1959 to June 1962.
He attempted suicide on learning he would not be permitted to remain in the U.S.S.R.
He worked in a radio plant in Minsk.
He met and married Marina.
He was originally issued a residence visa for stateless persons and later issued a residence visa for foreigners.
He obtained exit visas for himself and his family before departing the Soviet Union.
Neither the documents nor Oswald's own statements indicate that he was debriefed or put under surveillance by the KGB.

The committee interviewed U.S. officials who specialize in Soviet intelligence, asking them what treatment they would have expected Oswald to have received during his defection. (17) For the most part, they suspected that Oswald would have routinely been debriefed by the KGB and that many persons who came in contact with Oswald in the U.S.S.R. would have been connected with the KGB.(18)

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(2) Treatment of defectors by the Soviet Government.---The committee examined the CIA and FBI files on others who had defected in the same period as Oswald and who had eventually returned to the United States.(19) The purpose was to determine the frequency of KGB contact and whether the treatment of Oswald appeared to be significantly different from the norm. The defectors studied by the committee were selected because their backgrounds and other characteristics were similar to Oswald's, on the theory that their treatment by the KGB could be expected to parallel that of Oswald, if he was not a special case, a recruited assassin, for example.

The examination of the defector files was inconclusive, principally because the case of nearly every defector was unique. (20) In addition, the files available on the experiences of the defectors were often not adequate to extract meaningful data for the purpose of this investiga-

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tion, since, they were compiled for other reasons. (21) As to contacts with the KGB, the experiences of American defectors appeared to have varied greatly. Some reported daily contact with Soviet intelligence agents, while others did not mention ever having been contacted or debriefed.(22)

(3) Yuri Nosenko.--Of all the areas investigated by the committee with respect to possible Soviet involvement in the assassination, none seemed as potentially rewarding as an examination of statements made by KGB officers who had defected to the United States. In determining how the KGB treats American defectors, an ex-KGB officer would certainly be of great interest. In this regard, the committee had access to three such men, one of whom, Yuri Nosenko, claimed to possess far more than general information about American defectors.

In January 1964,5 Nosenko, identifying himself as a KGB officer, sought asylum in the United States. (23) He claimed to have worked in the KGB Second Chief Directorate whose functions, in many respects, are similar to those of the FBI.(24) According to Nosenko, while working in 1959 in a KGB department dealing with American tourists, he learned of a young American who sought to defect to the Soviet Union. The American was Lee Harvey Oswald. (25)

Nosenko stated he had worked extensively on the Oswald case, and he provided the FBI and CIA with data pertaining to Oswald's request to defect and remain in the Soviet Union, the initial rejection of that request by the KGB, Oswald's suicide attempt and a subsequent decision to permit him to remain in Russia. (26) Although the KGB, according to Nosenko, was well aware of Oswald, it made no attempt to debrief or interview him.(27) Never was any consideration given by the KGB to enlist Oswald into the Soviet intelligence service. (28)

The committee was most interested in Nosenko's claim that in 1963, after Oswald was arrested in the assassination, he had an opportunity to see the KGB file on the suspected assassin. As a result, Nosenko said, he was able to state categorically that Oswald was not a Soviet agent and that no officer of the KGB had ever interviewed or debriefed him. (29)

Nosenko's testimony, however, did not settle the question of Soviet complicity in the assassination. From the time of his defection, some U.S. intelligence officers suspected Nosenko was on a disinformation mission to mislead the American Government. Since other CIA officials believed Nosenko was a bona fide defector, a serious disagreement at the top level of the Agency resulted. (30)

The Warren Commission found itself in the middle of the Nosenko controversy--and in a quandary of its own, since the issue of Nosenko's reliability bore significantly on the assassination investigation.(31) If he was telling the truth, the Commission could possibly write off Soviet involvement in a conspiracy. 6 If, on the other hand, Nosenko was lying, the Commission would be faced with a dilemma. While a deceitful Nosenko would not necessarily point to Soviet complicity, it would leave the issue in limbo. The Warren Commission

5Nosenko had first contacted the U.S.Government in June 1962.

6The Commission as well as the committee recognized that Nosenko could have been candid and that the connection between Oswald and the KGB could have been compartmentalized, that is, known only to a few people, not including Nosenko.

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chose not to call Nosenko as a witness or to mention him in its report, apparently because it could not resolve the issue of his reliability. (32)

The committee, on the other hand, reviewed all available statements and files pertaining to Nosenko. (33) It questioned Nosenko in detail about Oswald, finding significant inconsistencies in statements he had given the FBI, CIA and the committee. (34) For example, Nosenko told the committee that the KGB had Oswald under extensive surveillance, including mail interception, wiretap and physical observation. Yet, in 1964, he told the CIA and FBI there had been no such surveillance of Oswald.(35) Similarly, in 1964, Nosenko indicated there had been no psychiatric examination of Oswald subsequent to his suicide attempt, while in 1978 he detailed for the committee the reports he had read about psychiatric examinations of Oswald.(36)

The committee also found that the CIA had literally put Nosenko in solitary confinement from 1964 to 1968. (37) Strangely, while he was interrogated during this period, he was questioned very little about Oswald. (38) The Agency did not seem to realize Nosenko's importance to an investigation of the assassination. While Richard Helms, then the CIA's Deputy Director for Plans, did tell Chief Justice Warren about Nosenko, the Agency's interest in him seemed to be largely limited to its own intelligence-gathering problem: did the KGB send Nosenko to the United States to deceive the CIA on many matters, only one of them perhaps related to the assassination? (39)

In the end, the committee, too, was unable to resolve the Nosenko matter. The fashion in which Nosenko was treated by the Agency--his interrogation and confinement--virtually ruined him as a valid source of information on the assassination. Nevertheless, the committee was certain Nosenko lied about Oswald--whether it was to the FBI and CIA in 1964, or to the committee in 1978, or perhaps to both.(40)

The reasons he would lie about Oswald range from the possibility that he merely wanted to exaggerate his own importance to the disinformation hypothesis with its sinister implications.

Lacking sufficient evidence to distinguish among alternatives, 7 the committee decided to limit its conclusion to a characterization of Nosenko as an unreliable source of information about the assassination, or, more specifically, as to whether Oswald was ever contacted, or placed under surveillance, by the KGB.

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(4) Opinions of other defectors.--In addition to interviewing Nosenko, the committee questioned two other former KGB officers who had defected to the United States. While neither could base an opinion on any personal experience with that part of the KGB in which Nosenko said he had served, both said that Oswald would have been of interest to the Soviet intelligence agency, that he would have been debriefed and that he may have been kept under surveillance.(41)

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(5) Marina Oswald.--The committee not only considered a possible connection between Oswald and the KGB, it also looked into charges that his widow, Marina, was an agent of the KGB, or that she at least influenced her husband's actions in the assassination on orders from

7Beyond those reasons for falsification that can be attributed to Nosenko himself, there has been speculation that the Soviet Government, while not involved in the assassination, sent Nosenko on a mission to allay American fears. Hence, while his story about no connection between Oswald and the KGB might be false, his claim of no Soviet involvement in the assassination would be truthful.

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Soviet officials. The committee examined Government files on Marina, it questioned experts on Soviet affairs and former KGB officers, and it took testimony from Marina herself.(42) The committee could find no evidence to substantiate the allegations about Marina Oswald Porter.

Mrs. Porter testified before the committee that Oswald had never been contacted directly by the KGB, though she assumed that he and she alike had been under KGB surveillance when they lived in the Soviet Union.

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(6) Response of the Soviet Government.--Finally, the committee attempted to obtain from the Soviet Government any information on Oswald that it had not provided to the Warren Commission. In response to a committee request relayed by the State Department, the Soviet Government informed the committee that all the information it had on Oswald had been forwarded to the Warren Commission. (43)

The committee concluded, however, that it is highly probable that the Soviet Government possessed information on Oswald that it has not provided to the U.S. Government. It would be the extensive information that most likely was gathered by a KGB surveillance of Oswald and Marina while they were living in Russia. It is also quite likely that the Soviet Government withheld files on a KGB interview with Oswald. 8

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(d) Summary of the evidence

Its suspicions notwithstanding, the committee was led to believe, on the basis of the available evidence, that the Soviet Government was not involved in the assassination. In the last, analysis, the Committee agreed with the testimony of former Secretary of State Dean Rusk. To wit, there is no evidence that the Soviet Government had any interest in removing President Kennedy, nor is there any evidence that it planned to take advantage of the President's death before it happened or attempted to capitalize on it after it occurred. In fact, the reaction of the Soviet Government as well as the Soviet people seemed to be one of genuine shock and sincere grief. The committee believed, therefore, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Soviet Government was not involved in the assassination.

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2. THE COMMITTEE BELIEVES, ON THE BASIS OF THE EVIDENCE AVAILABLE TO IT, THAT THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT WAS NOT INVOLVED IN THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY

Go to the footnotes for this section.
  1. United States-Cuban relations
    1. Bay of Pigs
    2. Cuban Missile Crisis
  2. Earlier investigations of Cuban complicity
    1. The Warren Commission investigation
    2. The U.S. Senate investigation
    3. The CIA's response to the Senate
  3. The committee's analysis of the CIA task force report
    1. AMLASH
    2. CIA-Mafia plots
    3. Summary of the evidence
  4. Cubana Airlines flight allegation
  5. Gilberto Policarpo Lopez allegation
  6. Other allegations
  7. The committee's trip to Cuba
  8. Deficiencies of the 1963-64 investigation
  9. Summary of the findings
When the leader of a great nation is assassinated, those initially suspected always include his adversaries. When President John F. Kennedy was struck down by rifle fire in Dallas in November 1963, many people suspected Cuba and its leader, Fidel Castro Ruz, of involvement in the assassination, particularly after it was learned that Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin, had sought to travel to Cuba in September 1963.(1) To evaluate those suspicions properly, it is

8The committee concluded that it should not necessarily be inferred from the failure of the Soviet Government to cooperate with the committee that it was involved in the assassination. Just as agencies of the U.S. intelligence community are reluctant to share their confidential files, a similar response might be expected to come from the KGB. The Soviet Government, it could be argued, would have little to gain and much to lose by turning over its files. While the committee recognized the logic of this argument, it regretted that the Soviet Government, in the interest of historical truth, did not cooperate.

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necessary to look at Cuban-American relations in the years immediately before and after President Kennedy took office.

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(a) United States-Cuban relations

The triumphant arrival of Fidel Castro in Havana on, January 1, 1959, marking a victorious climax of file revolution he had led, was initially heralded in the United States as well as in Cuba. Castro was hailed as a champion of the people, a man who would lead a free and democratic Cuba. While some suspected that Castro had Communist leanings, the majority of the American public supported him. (2) The appointment of Philip Bonsal as U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, replacing Earl E.T. Smith, who was personally wary of Castro, was a clear signal that the United States was interested in amicable relations with the revolutionary government. On appointing Bonsal, President Eisenhower expressed the hope for an "ever closer relationship between Cuba and the United States."(3)

By the end of 1959, however, United States-Cuban relations had deteriorated to the point that there was open hostility between the two countries. (4) President Kennedy was to inherit the problem in 1961, and by the time of his assassination on November 22, 1963, the antagonism had developed into a serious international crisis.

To begin with, the United States deplored the mass executions of officials of the Batista government that Castro had deposed. (5) In reply, Castro charged that the United States had never voiced objections to killing and torture by Batista. He said the trials and sentences would continue. (6) In his revolutionary economic policies. Castro took steps that severely challenged the traditional role of the United States. In March 1959, the Cuban Government took over the United States-owned Cuban Telephone Co. in May. U.S. companies were among those expropriated in the Cuban Government's first large-scale nationalization action, also in May, the agrarian reform law resulted in the expropriation of large landholdings, many of them U.S.-owned. (7)

Vice President Nixon met with Castro in Washington in April. Castro left the meeting convinced that Nixon was hostile. For his part, Nixon recommended to President Eisenhower that the United States take measures to quash the Cuban revolution. (8)

Disillusionment with Castro also spread to significant elements of the Cuban populace. In June, the chief of the Cuban Air Force, Maj. Pedro Diaz Lanz, fled to the United States, charging there was Communist influence in the armed forces and the Government of Cuba. (9) A few weeks later, Manuel Urrutria Lleo, the President of Cuba, stated on Cuban national television that communist was not concerned with the welfare of the people and that it constituted a throat to the revolution. In the succeeding flurry of events, President Urrutria resigned after Castro accused him of "actions bordering on treason."(10)

By the summer of 1960, Castro had seized more than $700 million in U.S. property; the Eisenhower administration had canceled the Cuban sugar quota; Castro was cementing his relations with the Soviet Union, having sent his brother Raul on a visit to Moscow, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, a top Castro lieutenant, had proclaimed publicly that the revolution was on a course set by Marx; and CIA Director Allen Dulles had said in a speech that communist had pervaded Castro's

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revolution. (11) On March 17, 1960, President Eisenhower quietly authorized the CIA to organize, train, and equip Cuban refugees as a guerrilla force to overthrow Castro. (12)

On January 2, 1961, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Cuba.(13) A period of increased tension followed. It was marked by an exchange of bitter statements by the new U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, and the Cuban Premier. Castro charged CIA complicity in counterrevolutionary activity against his Government and publicly predicted an imminent U.S. invasion. (14) In his state of the Union address on January 30, Kennedy said:
In Latin America, Communist agents seeking to exploit that region's peaceful revolution of hope have established a base on Cuba, only 90 miles from our shores. Our objection with Cuba is not over the people's drive for a better life. Our objection is to their domination by foreign and domestic tyrannies....
President Kennedy said further that "...Communist domination in this hemisphere can never be negotiated." (15)

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(1) Bay of Pigs.--After much deliberation, President Kennedy gave the go-ahead for a landing of anti-Castro Cubans, with U.S. support, at the Bay of Pigs on the southern coast of Las Villas Province. It was launched on April 17, 1961, but it was thwarted by Cuban troops, said to have been commanded by Castro himself. (16)

On President Kennedy's orders, no U.S. military personnel actually fought on Cuban soil, but U.S. sponsorship of the landing was readily apparent. President Kennedy publicly acknowledged "sole responsibility" for the U.S. role in the abortive invasion. (17)

After the Bay of Pigs debacle, the tension continued to escalate. As early as April 20, President Kennedy reaffirmed, in a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, that the United States was resolved not to abandon Cuba to communism.(18) On May 1, Secretary of State Dean Rusk told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Latin American Affairs that if the Castro regime engaged in acts of aggression, the United States would "defend itself." (19) On May 17, the House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring Cuba to be "a clear and present danger" to the Western Hemisphere. (20) Throughout 1961 and 1962, U.S. policy was to subject Cuba to economic isolation and to support stepped-up raids by anti-Castro guerrillas, many of which were planned with the assassination of Castro and other Cuban officials as a probable consequence, if not a specific objective. (21) The Cuban Government, in turn, assumed often correctly-- that the raids were instigated and directed by the U.S. Government.(22) In preparation for another large-scale attack, the Castro regime sought and received increased military support from the Soviet Union.(23)

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(2) Cuban missile crisis.--All-out war between the United States and the U.S.S.R. was narrowly averted in the Cuban missile crisis in the fall of 1962. On October 22, President Kennedy announced that U.S. photographic reconnaissance flights had discovered that work was underway in Cuba on offensive missile sites with a nuclear strike capability. (24) On October 23, the President issued a proclamation impos-

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ing a quarantine on the delivery of offensive weapons to Cuba, to be enforced by a U.S. naval blockade. (25)

Negotiations conducted between the United States and the Soviet Union resulted in an end to the immediate crisis on November 20, 1962.(26) To most observers, President Kennedy had won the confrontation with Castro and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.9 War had been averted, however narrowly. Russian IL-28 bombers were to be withdrawn from Cuba, and progress was being made on the removal of offensive missiles and other weapons.(27) The Soviets and the Cubans gained a "no invasion" pledge that was conditional upon a United Nations inspection to verify that Soviet offensive weapons had been removed from Cuba. (28) Because Castro never allowed the inspection, the United States never officially made the reciprocal pledge not to invade Cuba.(29)

There is evidence that by the fall of 1963, informal overtures for better United States-Cuban relations had been authorized by President Kennedy. (30) Talks between United States and Cuban officials at the United Nations were under consideration. In addition, the United States had attempted in the period after the missile crisis to stem the anti-Castro raids by, at least publicly, refusing to sanction them.(31) But covert action by the United States had neither ceased nor escaped Castro's notice, and the rhetoric indicated that the crisis could explode anew at any time. (32)

On September 7, 1963, in an interview with Associated Press reporter Daniel Harker, Castro warned against the United States "aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders," and added that U.S. leaders would be in danger if they promoted any attempt to eliminate the leaders of Cuba. (33) On November 18, in Miami, Fla., just 4 days before his assassination, President Kennedy stated:
...what now divides Cuba from my Country ...is the fact that a small band of conspirators has stripped the Cuban people of their freedom and handed over the independence and sovereignty of the Cuban nation to forces beyond this hemisphere. They have made Cuba a victim of foreign imperialism, an instrument of the policy of others. a weapon in an effort dictated by external powers to subvert the other American Republics. This, and this alone, divides us. (34)
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(b) Earlier investigations of Cuban complicity

When President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, the basic outlines of the recent history of United States-Cuban relations, if not the specific details, were known to every American who even occasionally read a newspaper. Thus, when speculation arose as to the possibility of conspiracy, Fidel Castro and his Communist government were natural suspects. While rationality may have precluded any involvement of the Cuban Government, the recognition that Castro had been among the late President's most prominent enemies compelled such speculation.

9When it became known to anti-Castro Cuban exiles that Kennedy had agreed to stop the raids on Cuba, the exiles considered the Kennedy-Khrushchev deal anything but a victory. To them, it was another betrayal (see section C 3 for details).

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(1) The Warren Commission investigation.--Investigative efforts into the background of Lee Harvey Oswald led to an early awareness of his Communist and pro-Castro sympathies, his activities in support of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and a trip he made in September 1963 to Mexico City where he visited the Soviet Embassy and the Cuban consulate. (35)

All of this information had been gathered prior to the beginning of the Warren Commission's investigation, and it was sufficient to alert the Commission to the need to investigate the possibility of a conspiracy initiated or influenced by Castro. The report of the Warren Commission reflects that it was indeed considered, especially with respect to the implications of Oswald's Mexico City trip. (36) In addition, the Warren Commission reviewed various specific allegations of activity that suggested Cuban involvement, concluding, however, that there had been no such conspiracy. (37) For the next few years, suspicions of Cuban involvement in the assassination were neither widespread nor vocal. Nevertheless, beginning with a 1967 column by Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson, press reports that suggested Castro's involvement in the assassination began to circulate once again. (38) Specifically, they posed the theory that President Kennedy might have been assassinated in retaliation for CIA plots against the life of the Cuban leader.

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(2) The U.S. Senate investigation.--Thereafter, the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities was formed to investigate the performance of the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies.(39) The Senate committee detailed two general types of operations that the CIA had directed against Castro. One, referred to as the AMLASH operation, involved the CIA's relationship with an important Cuban figure (code-named AMLASH) who,(40) while he was trusted by Castro, professed to the CIA that he would be willing to organize a coup against the Cuban leader. The CIA was in contact with AMLASH from March 1961 until June 1965. (41) A second plot documented by the Senate committee was a joint effort by the CIA and organized crime in America. It was initiated in 1960 in a conversation between the agency's Deputy Director for Plans, Richard Bissell, and the Director of Security, Col. Sheffield Edwards. According to the Senate committee, this operation lasted until February 1963. (42)

The Senate committee concluded from its review of the joint operations of the CIA and organized crime that "...Castro probably would not have been certain that the CIA was behind the underworld attempts." (43) Nor, in the view of the Senate committee, would Castro have distinguished between the CIA-underworld plots and the numerous other plots by Cuban exiles which were not affiliated in any way with the CIA. (44) By emphasizing these two conclusions, the Senate committee apparently intended to suggest that the efforts by the CIA and organized crime to eliminate Castro would not have resulted any retaliation against officials of the United States.(45)

The Senate committee identified the AMLASH operation as being "clearly different" from the CIA-underworld plots.(46) It was still in progress at the time of the assassination, and it could clearly be traced to the CIA, since AMLASH's proposed coup had been endorsed

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by the CIA, with the realization that the assassination of Castro might be a consequence.(47) Nevertheless, the Senate committee found "...no evidence that Fidel Castro or others in the Cuban Government plotted President Kennedy's assassination in retaliation for U.S. operations against Cuba."(48) The Senate committee left the door open, however, starting, "...the investigation should continue in certain areas, and for that reason (the committee) does not reach any final conclusions." (49)

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(3) The CIA's response to the Senate.--In response to publication of the report of the Senate committee, a special internal CIA task force was assigned in 1977 to investigate and evaluate the critical questions that had been raised. The task force first considered the retaliation thesis. It advanced the position that the Senate committee had essentially ignored the history of adversarial relations between the United States and Cuba which, if provocation were the issue, provided adequate grounds to support a theory of possible retaliation without the necessity of reaching for specific Agency programs such as the Mafia and AMLASH plots. (50) In essence, the task force report suggests, those plots were only one aspect of a large picture and in themselves were not sufficient to have provoked retaliation. (51).

The 1977 CIA task force then specifically responded to the Senate committee with respect to the AMLASH operation:
Whatever the relationship with AMLASH, following the death of President Kennedy, there is every indication that during President Kennedy's life AMLASH had no basis for believing that he had CIA support for much of anything. Were he a provocateur reporting to Castro, or if he was merely careless and leaked what he knew, he had no factual basis for leaking or reporting any actual CIA plot directed against Castro. (52)
With respect to the CIA-sponsored organized crime operations, the CIA task force noted:
It is possible that the CIA simply found itself involved in providing additional resources for independent operations that the syndicate already had underway ...[I]n a sense CIA may have been piggy-backing on the syndicate and in addition to its material contributions was also providing an aura of official sanction. (53)
The task force argued, therefore, that the plots should have been seen as Mafia, not CIA, endeavors.

A conclusion of the Senate committee had been that further investigation was warranted, based in part on its finding that the CIA had responded inadequately to the Warren Commission's request for all possible relevant information. The CIA had not told the Commission of the plots. (54) In response, the 1977 CIA task force observed:
While one can understand today why the Warren Commission limited its inquiry to normal avenues of investigation, it would have served to reinforce the credibility of its effort had it taken a broader view of the matter. CIA, too, could have considered in specific terms what most saw in general terms-- the possibility of Soviet or Cuban involvement in the JFK
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assassination because of the tensions of the time ...The Agency should have taken broader initiatives, then, as well. That CIA employees at the time felt--as they obviously did-- that the activities about which they knew had no relevance to the Warren Commission inquiry does not take the place of a record of conscious review. (55)
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(c) The committee's analysis of the CIA task force report

The committee believed its mandate compelled it to take a new look at the question of Cuban complicity in the assassination.

The Warren Commission had expressed its view, as follows:
...the investigation of the Commission has thus produced no evidence that Oswald's trip to Mexico was in any way connected with the assassination of President Kennedy, nor has it uncovered evidence that the Cuban Government had any involvement in the assassination. (56)
There are two ways that this statement may be read:
The Warren Commission's investigation was such that had a conspiracy existed, it would have been discovered, and since it was not, there was no conspiracy.
The Warren Commission's investigation, limited as it was, simply did not find a conspiracy.
Although the Commission inferred that the first interpretation was the proper one, the committee investigated the possibility that the second was closer to the truth.

Similarly, the committee investigated to see if there was a factual basis for a finding made by the Senate Select Committee that the CIA plots to assassinate Castro could have given rise to crucial leads that could have been pursued in 1963 and 1964, or, at a minimum, would have provided critical additional impetus to the Commission's investigation. (57)

As previously noted, although the 1977 CIA Task Force Report at least nominally recognized that the Agency, in 1962-64, "... could have considered in specific terms what most saw then in general terms-- the possibility of Soviet or Cuban involvement in the assassination because of the tensions of the time," and that the Agency "should have taken broader initiatives then," the remainder of the Task Force Report failed to specify what those broader initiatives should have been or what they might have produced. It did, however, enumerate four areas for review of its 1963-64 performance:
Oswald's travel to and from the U.S.S.R.;
Oswald's Mexico visit in September-October 1963;
The CIA's general extraterritorial intelligence collection requirements; and
Miscellaneous leads that the Senate committee alleged the Agency had failed to pursue. (58)
The 1977 Task Force Report reviewed the question of Agency operations directed at Cuba, including, in particular, the Mafia and AMLASH plots.(59) In each area, the report concluded that the Agency's 1963-64 investigation was adequate and could not be faulted, even with the benefit of hindsight.(60) The task force uncritically accepted the Senate committee's conclusions where they were favor-

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able to the Agency, 10 and it critically rejected the Senate committee's conclusions (as in the case of AMLASH) wherever some possible investigative oversight was suggested. (62)

The 1977 Task Force Report, in sum, did little more than suggest that any theoretically "broader initiatives" the Agency could have taken in 1963-64 would have uncovered nothing. They would only have served to head off outside criticism. That conclusion is illustrated in the following passage of the report:
...[our] findings are essentially negative. However, it must be recognized that CIA cannot be as confident of a cold trail in 1977 as it could have been in 1964; this apparent fact will be noted by the critics of the Agency, and by those who have found a career in the questions already asked and yet to be asked about the assassination of President Kennedy. (63)
The committee, of course, realized that the CIA's 1977 review might be correct, that broader initiatives might only have been window dressing and would have produced nothing of substance. But the 1977 report failed to document that fact, if it were a fact. For example, it provided no detailed resume of the backgrounds of those CIA case officers, Cubans and Mafia figures who plotted together to kill Castro.

There is nothing in the report on the activities of the anti-Castro plotters during the last half of 1963. If the Agency had been truly interested in determining the possible investigative significance to the Kennedy assassination of such CIA-Cuban-Mafia associations, the committee assumed it would have directed its immediate attention to such activities in that period.

The task force report also noted that even without its taking broader initiatives, the CIA still sent general directives to overseas stations and cited, as an example, a cable which read:
Tragic death of President Kennedy requires all of us to look sharp for any unusual intelligence development. Although we have no reason to expect anything of a particular military nature, all hands should be on the quick alert for the next few days while the new President takes over the reins.(64)
The report, reasoned that the CIA's tasking of its stations was "necessarily general," since little was known at the time about which it could be specific. (65)

The CIA task force further noted that 4 days after this general cable was sent, a follow-up request for any available information was sent to 10 specific stations. The task force argued, in any event, that such general requirements for intelligence-gathering would have been adequate, since "relevant information on the subject" would have been reported anyway. (66)

Conspicuously absent from such self-exculpatory analysis was any detailed discussion of what specific efforts the Agency's stations actually made to secure "relevant information" about the assassination.

10For example, with respect to the Agency's investigation of Oswald's trip to Russia, the report summarily concluded, "Book V of the SSC Final Report, in not criticizing the Agency's performance in this aspect of the investigation, seems to have accepted it as adequate, and it will not be detailed here." (61)

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For example, it became generally known that in 1963 the CIA had a station in Florida through which it monitored the activities of most of the anti-Castro Cuban groups operating in the United States. While the Florida station was mentioned, the task force report failed to make a comprehensive analysis of what requirements were placed on the station and the station's response. It might have been expected that the station would have been required to contact and debrief all of its Cuban sources. In addition, the station should have been asked to use all of its possible sources to determine if any operatives in the anti-Castro Cuban community had information about possible Cuban Government involvement or about any association between Oswald and possible Cuban Government agents. Further, the station, or possibly other units of the CIA, should have been tasked to attempt to reconstruct the details of the travels and activities of known pro-Castro Cuban operatives in the United States for 60 or 90 days prior to the assassination. (Such undertakings might have been made without specific cables or memoranda requiring them. The Task Force Report implied such efforts were taken by the stations "on their own initiative." (67) But the Task Force Report failed to document or even discuss the details of such efforts or the responses of the stations to CIA headquarters.)

The committee found that the CIA's 1977 Task Force Report was little more than an attempted rebuttal of the Senate Select Committee's criticisms, and not a responsible effort to evaluate objectively its own 1963-64 investigation or its anti-Castro activities during the early 1960's or to assess their significance vis-a-vis the assassination.

The committee made an effort to evaluate these questions through its own independent investigation. In investigating the implications of the CIA plots and the Warren Commission's ignorance of them, the committee conducted interviews, depositions and hearings for the purpose of taking testimony from pertinent individuals, conducted interviews in Mexico and Cuba, and reviewed extensive files at the CIA and FBI. (68)

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(1) AMLASH.---Turning first to the AMLASH operation, the committee received conflicting testimony as to whether, prior to the Kennedy assassination, it was considered to be an assassination plot. Former CIA Director Richard M. Helms, in his testimony before the committee, stated that the AMLASH operation was not designed to be an assassination plot. (69) And, as already indicated, the 1977 Task Force Report concluded that AMLASH had "no factual basis for leaking or reporting any actual Central Intelligence Agency plot directed against Castro" during President Kennedy's life.(70)

The committee, however, noted that such characterizations were probably both self-serving and irrelevant. The committee found that the evidence confirmed the Senate committee's report that AMLASH himself envisioned assassination as an essential first step in any overthrow of Castro. (71) It also noted that it was Castro's point of view, not the Agency's, that would have counted.

The CIA's files reflect that as early as August 1962, AMLASH spoke to his CIA case officer about being interested in the "...sabotage of an oil refinery and the execution of a top ranking Castro subordinate, of the Soviet Ambassador and of Castro himself."(72) The case officer,

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in his report, while stating he made no commitments to AMLASH, acknowledged that he did tell AMLASH"...schemes like he envisioned certainly had their place, but that a lot of coordination, planning, information-collection, et cetera, were necessary prerequisites to insure the value and success of such plans."(73) Further, cables between the case officer and CIA headquarters reflected that the Agency decided not to give AMLASH a "physical elimination mission as [a] requirement," but that it was something "he could or might try to carry out on his own initiative."(74) Thus, the CIA's relationship with AMLASH at least left him free to employ assassination in the coup he was contemplating. That relationship could also have been viewed by Castro as one involving the CIA in his planned assassination.

Ultimately, the CIA also provided AMLASH with the means of assassination and assurances that the U.S. Government would back him in the event his coup was successful.(75) CIA files reflect that AMLASH returned to Cuba shortly after the August 1962 meetings. (76) He next left Cuba and met with a CIA officer in September 1963. At that time, the CIA learned that AMLASH had not abandoned his intentions and that he now wanted to know what the U.S. "plan of action" was. (77) On October 11, the case officer cabled headquarters that AMLASH was determined to make the attempt on Castro with or without U.S. support.(78) On October 21, he reported that AMLASH wanted assurance that the United States would support him if his effort was successful.(79) On October 29, Desmond FitzGerald, chief of the Special Affairs Staff, met with AMLASH, representing himself as a spokesman for Attorney General Robert Kennedy. FitzGerald gave AMLASH the assurance he had asked for, (80) although the CIA has argued that the support did not specifically include assassination.

At the end of the meeting, according to the case officer's memorandum, AMLASH asked for "technical support" which, according to FitzGerald's memory, was described by AMLASH as being a high-powered rifle, or other weapon, to kill Castro. (81) Although the CIA files reflect that AMLASH did not receive the assurances of pre-assassination "technical support" he had asked for on October 29, the matter was further discussed, at least within the Agency, and on November 20 AMLASH was told that the meeting he "had requested" had been granted. (82) The technical support, as the Senate committee reported, was actually offered to AMLASH on November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated. (83)

Whether CIA officials chose to characterize their activity as an assassination plot, it is reasonable to infer that had Castro learned about the meetings between AMLASH and the CIA, he could also have learned of AMLASH's intentions, including the fact that his assassination would be a natural and probable consequence of the plot. In a deposition to the committee, Joseph Langosch, in 1963 the Chief of Counterintelligence for the CIA's Special Affairs Staff,(84) recalled that, as of 1962, it was highly possible that Cuban intelligence was aware of AMLASH and his association with the CIA.(85) (SAS was responsible for CIA operations against the Government of Cuba and as such was in charge of the AMLASH operation. (86))

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The committee was unable to determine if that possibility was a reality. The Cuban Government informed the committee that it had come to believe that AMLASH was in fact Rolando Cubela (based upon its construction of a profile from biographic information on AMLASH made public by the Senate committee).(87) It stated it did not know of Cubela's intentions until 1966. (88) The committee was unable to confirm or deny the validity of the Cuban Government's belief that AMLASH was Cubela. Nevertheless, the committee considered the statement that, if Cubela were AMLASH, the Cuban Government did not know of his intentions until 1966. On this point, the committee was unable to accept or reject the Cuban Government's claim with confidence. The committee merely noted that the statement was corroborated by other information known about the dates of Cubela's arrest and trial in Cuba and the charges against him. The Cuban Government's position must, however, be recognized as potentially self-serving, since it must be assumed the Cuban Government would be inclined not to reveal any knowledge it may have had about AMLASH's assassination plans and the CIA prior to November 22, 1963. If it had indicated it knew, it would have contributed to the credibility of the Senate's theories about possible Cuban involvement in the assassination as a retaliatory act. (89)

The committee, while in Cuba, spoke to Rolando Cubela, who was serving a life sentence for acts against the Cuban Government. He confirmed the statements of the Cuban Government to the committee(90) that he did not give the Cuban Government any information that would have led it to believe that the CIA was involved in a plot on Castro's life in 1963. In considering Cubela's testimony, the committee took into account the possible influence of his confinement. After reviewing all the available evidence, the committee concluded that Castro may well have known about the AMLASH plot by November 22, 1963, and, if so, he could have either documented or assumed it was backed by the United States and that it was directed at his life. The committee believed that the details of the AMLASH operation should have been provided to the Warren Commission, since the Commission might have been able to develop leads to participants in the Kennedy assassination. At a minimum, the existence of the plot, if it had been brought to the Commissions attention, would have served as a stimulus in the 1963-64 investigation.

In conclusion, the committee believed a description of the activities of participants in the AMLASH plot should have been provided to the Warren Commission. It based this not only on the possibility that the plots could have increased Castro's motivation to conspire to assassinate President Kennedy (assuming he, in fact, was privy to the plot prior to November 22, 1963), but also because knowledge of the AMLASH plot might have increased the interest of the CIA, FBI, and Warren Commission in a more thorough investigation of the question of Cuban conspiracy. In stating this view, the committee did not reject the suggestion in the CIA's 1977 Task Force Report that Castro already had significant motivation to assassinate President Kennedy, even if he were not aware of the AMLASH plot. The committee noted however, that to the extent that that thesis was true, it did not negate the conclusion that the AMLASH plot was relevant

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and that information about it should have been supplied to the Warren Commission. If it had been made available, it might have affected the course of the investigation.
(2) CIA-Mafia Plots.--Turning next to the CIA-Mafia plots, the committee found in its investigation that organized crime probably was active in attempts to assassinate Castro, independent of any activity it engaged in with the CIA, as the 1977 Task Force Report had suggested. (91) The committee found that during the initial stages of the joint operation, organized crime decided to assist the CIA for two reasons: CIA sponsorship would mean official sanction and logistical support for a Castro assassination; and a relationship with the CIA in the assassination of a foreign leader could be used by organized crime as leverage to prevent prosecution for unrelated offenses. (92) During the latter stages of the CIA-Mafia operation, from early 1962, to early 1963, however, organized crime may no longer have been interested in assassinating Castro. (93) The Soviet influence in Cuba had rendered the prospect of regaining the old Havana territory less likely, and there were fortunes to be made in the Bahamas and elsewhere.(94) There is reason to speculate that the Mafia continued to appear to participate in the plots just to keep the CIA interested, in hopes of preventing prosecution of organized crime figures and others involved in the plots. (95)

This theory is supported by the actions of Robert Maheu, an FBI agent turned private investigator who had acted as a CIA-organized crime go-between, and John Roselli, a Mafia principal in the plots. (96) Maheu, for example, was the subject of an FBI wiretap investigation in Las Vegas in the spring of 1962. He had installed a telephone wiretap, which he claimed was done as a favor to Mafia chieftain Sam Giancana, who was also involved in the anti-Castro plots.(97) Maheu's explanation to the FBI was that the tap was placed as part of a CIA effort to obtain Cuban intelligence information through organized crime contacts. The CIA corroborated Maheu's story, and the case was not prosecuted. (98) In addition, in 1966, Maheu used his contacts with the CIA to avoid testifying before a Senate committee that was conducting hearings into invasion of privacy. (99)

As for Roselli, the committee considered it significant that public revelations about the plots corresponded with his efforts to avoid deportation in 1966 and 1971 and to escape prosecution for illegal gambling activities in 1967.(100) It was Roselli who managed the release of information about the plots and who proposed the so-called turnaround theory of the Kennedy assassination (Cuban exiles hired by the Mafia as hit men, captured by Castro. were forced to "turn around" and murder President Kennedy). (101) The committee found it quite plausible that Roselli would have manipulated public perception of the facts of the plots, then tried to get the CIA to intervene in his legal problems as the price for his agreeing to make no further disclosures.

The allegation that President Kennedy was killed as a result of a Mafia-CIA plot that was turned around by Castro was passed to Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson by Washington attorney Edward P. Mor-

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gan; its ultimate source was Roselli.(102) The committee found little credibility in such an explanation for the President's death because, if for no other reason, it would have been unnecessarily risky. The committee determined from CIA files that, in 1963, the Cuban Government had agents of its own in nearly every country of the Western Hemisphere, including the United States, who undoubtedly would have been more dependable for such an assignment. Even if Castro had wanted to minimize the chance of detection by using hired non-Cuban killers, it appeared unlikely to the committee that he would have tried to force Mafia members or their Cuban exile confederates to engage in the assassination of an American head of state.

The committee found it more difficult to dismiss the possibility that the Mafia, while it was not turned around by Castro, might have voluntarily turned around with him. By late 1962 and 1963, when the underworld leaders involved with the CIA in the plots had perhaps lost their motivation to assassinate Castro, they had been given sufficient reason by the organized crime program of the Department of Justice to eliminate President Kennedy. The committee's investigation revealed that Mafia figures are rational, pragmatic "businessmen" who often realine their associations and form partnerships with ex-enemies when it is expedient.(103) While Castro, by 1963, was an old enemy of organized crime, it was more important that both Castro and the Mafia were ailing financially, chiefly as a result of pressures applied by the Kennedy administration. (104) Thus, they had a common motive that might have made an alliance more attractive than a split based on mutual animosity.

By 1963 also, Cuban exiles bitterly opposed to Castro were being frustrated by the Kennedy administration. (105) Many of them had come to conclude that the U.S. President was an obstacle requiring elimination even more urgently than the Cuban dictator.(106) The Mafia had been enlisted by the CIA because of its access to anti-Castro Cuban operatives both in and out of Cuba.(107) In its attempt to determine if the Mafia plot associations could have led to the assassination, the committee, therefore, recognized that Cuban antagonism toward President Kennedy did not depend on whether the Cubans were pro- or anti-Castro.

The committee found that the CIA-Mafia-Cuban plots had all the elements necessary for a successful assassination conspiracy--people, motive and means, and the evidence indicated that the participants might well have considered using the resources at their disposal to increase their power and alleviate their problems by assassinating the President. Nevertheless, the committee was ultimately frustrated in its attempt to determine details of those activities that might have led to the assassination--identification of participants, associations, timing of events and so on. Many of the key figures of the Castro plots had, for example, since died or, as in the case of both Giancana and Roselli, had been murdered.

The committee was also unable to confirm in its investigation the findings of the Senate committee and the CIA that there were reasons to discount the dangers to President Kennedy that may have resulted from CIA associations with the Mafia in anti-Castro activities, The

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committee did not agree with the Senate committee that Castro would not have blamed President Kennedy for the CIA-Mafia plots against his life. They were formulated in the United States, and the history of United States-Cuban relations shows that when Castro erred in his assumptions, it was in the direction of attributing more, not less, responsibility for attempts to depose him to U.S. Government actions than might have been merited.

In its 1977 Task Force Report, the CIA commented on this reality:
The United States provided a haven and base for Cuban exiles, who conducted their independent operations against the Castro government. Some of these exiles had the support of CIA, as well as from other elements of the U.S. Government, and still others had support from private sources. With or without official U.S. support these exiles spoke in forceful Latin terms about what they hoped to do. The Cuban intelligence services had agents in the exile community in America and it is likely that what they reported back to Havana assigned to CIA responsibility for many of the activities under consideration, whether CIA was involved or not. (108)
From its investigation of documents and from the testimony of officials and others, the committee decided that the Senate committee was probably mistaken in its conclusion that the CIA-Mafia plots were less significant than the AMLASH plot. In the judgment of the committee, the CIA-Mafia plots, like the AMLASH plot, should have been aggressively explored as part of the 1963-64 investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy. At that time, it might still have been possible to determine precise dates of trips, meetings, telephone communications: and financial transactions, and the participants in these potentially pertinent transactions could have been questioned. At least in this one respect, the committee must concur with a sentiment expressed in the 1977 CIA Task Force Report:
Today, the knowledge of the persons involved directly in the various Cuban operations in the period preceding President Kennedy's death cannot be recaptured in the form that it existed then. These persons are scattered, their memories are blurred by time, and some are dead. (109)
The committee, moreover, was unable to accept the conclusion of the CIA and the Senate committee that the CIA-Mafia plots were irrelevant because they had been terminated in February 1963, several months before the assassination. The record is clear that the relationships created by the plots did not terminate, nor had the threat to Castro abated by that time. There is insufficient evidence to conclude that the inherently sinister relationships had become benign by November 22, 1963.

In June 1963, according to the interim report of the Senate committee, Roselli had dinner with William Harvey, chief of the CIA's Cuban Task Force.(110) CIA files show that Roselli continued to maintain direct contact with Harvey at least until 1967, and he was in touch, at least indirectly, with the Agency's Chief of the Operational Support Branch. Office of Security, as late as 1971. (111) The Task Force Report itself alluded to information that, as late as June

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1964, gangster elements in Miami were offering $150,000 for Castro's life, an amount mentioned to the syndicate representatives by CIA case officers at an earlier date." (112)

In the absence of documentation of the activities of Mafia plot participants between February 1963 and November 22, 1963--which had not been obtained in earlier investigations, and the committee was able to do no better--the committee found it difficult to dismiss the CIA-Mafia plots, even assuming they had been terminated in February 1963, as of no consequence to the events in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The plots, in short, should have been made known to the Warren Commission. If they had been investigated in 1964, they might have provided insights into what happened in Dallas and resolved questions that have persisted.

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(3) Summary of the evidence--By its conclusions about the AMLASH operation and the CIA-Mafia plots--that they were of possible consequence to the assassination investigation and therefore should have been revealed to the Warren Commission--the committee did not intend to imply it had discovered a link to the assassination. To the contrary, the committee was not able to develop evidence that President Kennedy was murdered in retaliation for U.S. activities against Castro. What the committee did determine, however, was that there was no basis, in terms of relevance to the assassination, for the CIA to decide that the AMLASH operation and the CIA-Mafia plots were of no significance to the Warren Commission's investigation. On the other hand, the possibility that President Kennedy was assassinated in retaliation for anti-Castro activities of the CIA should have been considered quite pertinent, especially in light of specific allegations of conspiracy possibly involving supporters of the Cuban leader.

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(d) Cubana Airlines flight allegation

The committee considered specific allegations of conspiracy involving supporters of Castro.

One such charge, referred to in book V of the Senate select committee's report, concerns a Cubana Airlines flight from Mexico City to Havana on the evening of November 23, 1963. (113) It had been alleged that the flight was delayed 5 hours, awaiting the arrival at 9:30 p.m. of a private twin-engined aircraft.(114) The aircraft was supposed to have deposited an unidentified passenger who boarded the Cubans flight without clearing customs and traveled to Havana in the pilot's cabin. (115)

The Senate committee reported that the Cubana flight departed at 10 p.m. This committee checked the times of key events that night by reviewing extensive investigative agency documents. It found the following facts:
The Cubana flight was on the ground in Mexico City for a total of only about 4 hours and 10 minutes and thus could not have been delayed five hours. (116) The Cubana flight had departed for Havana at 8:30 p.m., about an hour before the arrival of the private aircraft reportedly carrying a mysterious passenger, so he could not have taken the flight. (117)
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The committee found that extensive records of flight arrivals and departures at the Mexico City airport were available and deemed it doubtful that the alleged transfer of a passenger from a private aircraft to the Cubana flight could have gone unnoticed, had it occurred. (118) The committee concluded, therefore, that the transfer did not occur.

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(e) Gilberto Policarpo Lopez allegation

More troubling to the committee was another specific allegation discussed by the Senate committee. It concerned a Cuban-American named Gilberto Policarpo Lopez.(119) According to the account, Lopez obtained a tourist card in Tampa, Fla., on November 20, 1963, entered Mexico at Nuevo Laredo on November 23, and flew from Mexico City to Havana on November 27. (12O) Further, Lopez was alleged to have attended a meeting of the Tampa chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee on November 17, 1963, and at a December meeting of the chapter, Lopez was reported to be in Cuba. (12l)

The committee first examined the CIA files on Policarpo Lopez.(122) They reflect that in early December 1963, CIA headquarters received a classified message stating that a source had requested "urgent traces on U.S. citizen Gilberto P. Lopez." (123) According to the source, Lopez had arrived in Mexico on November 23 enroute to Havana and had disappeared with no record of his trip to Havana. The message added that Lopez had obtained tourist card No. 24553 in Tampa on November 20, that he had left Mexico for Havana November 27 on Cubana Airlines, and that his U.S. passport number was 310162.(124)

In another classified message of the same date, it was reported that the FBI had been advised that Lopez entered Mexico on November 27 at Nuevo Laredo. (125)

Two days later these details were added: Lopez had crossed the border at Laredo, Tex., on November 23; registered at the Roosevelt Hotel in Mexico City on November 25; and departed Mexico on November 27 on a Cubana flight for Havana. (126) Another dispatch noted that Lopez was the only passenger on Cubans flight 465 on November 27 to Havana. (127) It said he used a U.S. passport and Cuban courtesy visa. It noted, too: "Source states the timing and circumstances surrounding subject's travel through Mexico and departure for Havana are suspicious." It was this dispatch that alerted headquarters to the source's "urgent" request for all available data on Lopez. (128)

The same day as the dispatch, headquarters sent a cable identifying the Cuban-American as Gilberto Policarpo Lopez, born January 26, 1940. It added that Lopez was not identical with a Gilberto Lopez who had been active in pro-Castro groups in Los Angeles. (129)

Headquarters was also told that there existed a "good" photograph of Lopez, showing him wearing dark .glasses. A copy of the photograph with "27 November 1963" stamped on the back was found in his CIA file by committee investigators in 1978. (130)

In March 1964, CIA headquarters received a classified message: a source had reported in late February that an American citizen named

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Gilberto Lopes 11 had been involved in the Kennedy assassination; that Lopes had entered Mexico on foot from Laredo, Tex., on November 13 carrying U.S. passport 319962, which had been issued July 13, 1960; that he had been issued Mexican travel form B24553 in Nuevo Laredo; that Lopes had proceeded by bus to Mexico City "where he entered the Cuban Embassy"; and that he left the Cuban Embassy on November 27 and was the only passenger on flight 465 for Cuba. (132)

The following day, a classified message was sent to headquarters stating that the information "jibes fully with that provided station by [source] in early December 1963." (133)

A file had been opened on Lopez at headquarters on December 16, 1963. (134) It contained a "Review of [material omitted] file on U.S. Citizen" by an operations officer of the responsible component of the agency. In the review, the file was classified as a "counterintelligence case, (that is, involving a foreign intelligence or security service)." The date of entry of that category in the agency's records is indicated as January 22, 1975. (135)

The committee also reviewed an FBI investigation of Gilberto Policarpo Lopez in Key West, Fla., contained in a report dated August 1964.(136)

In an interview, Lopez' cousin, Guillermo Serpa Rodriguez, had said that Lopez had come to the United States soon after Castro came to power, stayed about a year and returned to Cuba because he was homesick. He returned to the United States in 1960 or 1961 fearing he would be drafted into the Cuban militia. (137)

The FBI also interviewed an American woman Lopez had married in Key West. She listed companies where he had been employed, including a construction firm in Tampa. She also said he began suffering from epileptic attacks, was confined for a time at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami in early 1963, and was treated by doctors in Coral Gables and Key West. She said she believed the epilepsy was brought on by concern for his family in Cuba. (138)

Lopez' wife said she received a letter from him in about November 1963, saying he had returned to Cuba once more. She said she had been surprised, although he had mentioned returning, to Cuba before he left for Tampa in November 1963. In a later letter, Lopez told his wife he had received financial assistance for his trip to Cuba from an organization in Tampa. His wife explained that he would not have been able to pay for the trip without help. She said, however, he had not had earlier contacts with Cuban refugee organizations. (139)

11The committee noted the discrepancies in this message, as follows: the spelling of Lopes, for Lopez; the November 13 date and passport number 319962, issued July 13, 1960; and Lopez entering Mexico on foot. In its 1977 Task Force Report, the CIA cited the several "inaccuracies," as they had been repeated in the report of the Senate Select Committee, as reason to refute the report itself. The TFR pointed out that Lopez' name had been misspelled "Lopes," that it had Lopez entering Mexico on foot, when the CIA had information that he had traveled by automobile; that it listed incorrect digits for Lopez' passport number; that it stated that Lopez' Mexican tourist visa had been issued in Nuevo Laredo, not Tampa; and it reported that he had stayed at the Cuban Embassy. Based on these inaccuracies, the TFR concluded, "the source was patently and extensively misinformed." The TFR therefore discounted the March cable that held that the information "jibed" with what the CIA's source had earlier reported. (131)

The discrepancies pointed out in the TFR were apparently intended to explain why the CIA had not taken more aggressive investigative steps to determine whether there had been a connection between Lopez and the assassination.


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Rodriguez said Lopez left Key West in late 1963 for Tampa with the hope of being able to return to Cuba, explaining he was afraid he would be drafted into the U.S. military. Rodriguez said Lopez had not been involved in pro-Castro activity in Key West, but that he was definitely pro-Castro, and he had once gotten into a fistfight over his Castro sympathies. (140)

The FBI had previously documented that Lopez had actually been in contact with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and had attended a meeting in Tampa on November 20, 1963. In a March 1964 report, it recounted that at a November 17 meeting of the Tampa FPCC, Lopez had said he had not been granted permission to return to Cuba but that he was awaiting a phone call about his return to his homeland.

In that March report, a Tampa FPCC member was quoted as saying she called a friend in Cuba on December 8, 1963, and was told that Lopez had arrived safely. She also said that the Tampa chapter of the FPCC had given Lopez about $190 for the trip to Cuba and that he had gone to Cuba by way of Mexico because he did not have a passport. (141)

The March 1964 FBI report stated that Lopez did have a U.S. passport-- it had been issued in January 1960 and was numbered 310162. His Mexican tourist card was numbered M8-24553 and was issued November 20, 1963 in Tampa. The report also confirmed that Lopez entered Mexico via Laredo, Tex., by automobile on November 23, and he departed for Havana on November 27, the only passenger on a Cubana flight. He was carrying a Cuban courtesy visa.(142)

Lopez' FBI file contained a memorandum from the Tampa office. Dated October 26, 1964, it read:
It is felt that information developed regarding the subject is not sufficient to merit consideration for the Security Index. (143)
The only information transmitted by the FBI to the Warren Commission, the committee determined, concerned a passport check on Lopez. Information sent to the Commission by the FBI on the Tampa chapter of the FPCC did not contain information on Lopez' activities. The CIA apparently did not provide any information to the Warren Commission on Lopez. (144) The committee concurred with the Senate Select Committee that this omission was egregious, since sources had reported within a few days of the assassination that the circumstances surrounding Lopez' travel to Cuba seemed "suspicious." Moreover, in March 1964, when the Warren Commission's investigation was in its most active stage, there were reports circulating that Lopez had been involved in the assassination.

In its 1977 Task Force Report, the CIA responded to the charges of the Senate committee. It claimed that the agency had carried its investigation of Lopez as far as it could, having questioned a Cuban defector about him. (145) The committee found that the absence of access to additional sources of information was not an adequate explanation for the agency's failure to consider more seriously the suspicions of its sources or to report what information it did have to the Warren Commission. Attempts in the Task Force Report to denigrate the information that was provided on Lopez were not an adequate substitute for enabling the Warren Commission itself to pursue the leads more aggressively.

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From the information gathered by the FBI, there appeared to be plausible reasons both for Lopez' desire to return to Cuba and for his solicitation of financial aid from the Tampa FPCC chapter. Lopez' contacts in Florida appeared to have been innocent and not connected with the assassination, and while there was a suggestion in the Senate committee's report that Lee Harvey Oswald also was in contact with the Tampa FPCC chapter, the committee could find no evidence of it. Nor could the committee find any evidence that Oswald was in contact with Lopez.

Lopez' association with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, however, coupled with the facts that the dates of his travel to Mexico via Texas coincide with the assassination, plus the reports in Mexico that Lopez' activities were "suspicious," all amount to a troublesome circumstance that the committee was unable to resolve with confidence.

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(f) Other allegations

The committee also pursued allegations of Cuban complicity that were not suggested by the investigation of the Senate committee. For example, it looked into an allegation by one Autulio Ramirez Ortiz, who hijacked an aircraft to Cuba in 1961. Ramirez claimed that while being held by the Cuban Government, he worked in an intelligence facility where he found a dossier on Lee Harvey Oswald. (146) It was labeled the "Oswald-Kennedy" file and contained a photograph of "Kennedy's future assassin."(147) In the Spanish language manuscript of a book he wrote Ramirez claimed the Oswald file read, in part "... The KGB has recommended this individual ...He is a North American, married to an agent of the Soviet organism who has orders to go and reside in the United States. Oswald is an adventurer. Our Embassy in Mexico has orders to get in contact with him. Be very careful."(148)

The committee, in executive session, questioned Ramirez, who had been returned to the United States to serve a 20-year Federal sentence for hijacking.(149) He testified he was unable to describe the photograph he had allegedly seen and that the writing in the file was in Russian, a language he does not speak. (150)

The committee sought from the FBI and CIA independent evidence of the accuracy of Ramirez' allegations, but there was no corroboration of the existence of an "Osvaldo-Kennedy" file to be found. On the other hand, in every instance where there was independent evidence of allegations made by Ramirez (the identities of Cuban officials named by him, for example) Ramirez' statements were found to be accurate.(151)

In the end, however, the committee was forced to dismiss Ramirez' story about the "Osvaldo-Kennedy" file. The decisive factor was the committee's belief that the Cuban intelligence system in the 1961-63 period was too sophisticated to have been infiltrated by Ramirez in the manner he had described. While some details of his story could be corroborated, the essential aspects of his allegation were incredible.

The committee also considered the allegation that appeared in an article in a 1967 issue of the National Enquirer, written by a British freelancer named Comer Clark.(152) Purportedly based on an exclusive interview with Castro, it quoted the Cuban President as admitting to having heard of threats by Oswald to assassinate president

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Kennedy. According to Clark, Castro told him that while at the Cuban consulate in Mexico City in September 1963, Oswald vowed he would kill the President. (153)

On a trip to Havana in April 1978, the committee met with President Castro and asked him about the charge. Castro denied there had ever been an interview with Clark.(154) He also suggested that had such a threat been overheard by Cuban officials, they and he would have been morally obligated to transmit it to U.S. authorities.(155)

The committee did not agree that the Cuban Government would have been obligated to report the threat. Nothing in the evidence indicated that the threat should have been taken seriously, if it had occurred, since Oswald had behaved in an argumentative and obnoxious fashion during his visit to the consulate. (156) Cuban officials would have been justified, the committee reasoned, to have considered the threat an idle boast, deserving no serious attention.

The accuracy of Clark's account was also undermined by the committee's investigation of his background. Clark had been the author of articles with such sensational titles as "British Girls as Nazi Sex Slaves," "I Was Hitler's Secret Love" and "German Plans to Kidnap the Royal Family." The committee was unable to question Clark himself, as he had since died. (157)

Despite the committee's doubts about the Clark interview with Castro, it was informed that the substance of it had been independently reported to the U.S. Government. A highly confidential but reliable source reported that Oswald had indeed vowed in the presence of Cuban consulate officials to assassinate the President. (158)

This information prompted the committee to pursue the report further in file reviews and interviews. The files that were reviewed included records of conversations of relevant people at appropriate times and places. Only one of them provided any possible corroboration. It was the record of a reported conversation by an employee of the Cuban Embassy named Luisa Calderon. (159) The absence of other corroboration must be considered significant.

A blind memorandum 12 provided by the CIA to the committee contained Calderon's pertinent remarks:
1. A reliable source reported that on November 22, 1963, several hours after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Luisa Calderon Carralero, a Cuban employee of the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, and believed to be a member of the Cuban Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI), discussed news of the assassination with an acquaintance. Initially, when asked if she had heard the latest news, Calderon replied, in what appeared to be a joking manner, "Yes, of course, I knew almost before Kennedy."
2. After further discussion of the news accounts about the assassination, the acquaintance asked Calderon what else she had learned. Calderon replied that they [assumed to refer to personnel of the Cuban Embassy] learned about it a little while ago. (160)
12there is no indication on a blind memorandum of either origin or destination.

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Luisa Calderon's statements on the day of the assassination could be construed as either an indication of foreknowledge or mere braggadocio. The preponderance of the evidence led the committee to find that it was braggadocio. While the committee attempted to interview Calderon in Cuba, it was unable to, since she was ill. (161) Nevertheless, it forwarded interrogatories to her, which she responded to denying foreknowledge of the assassination.(162) The committee also interviewed other employees of the Cuban consulate in Mexico City in 1963 all of whom denied the allegation.(163) While it may be argued that they had a reason to do so because of Castro's view that the Cuban Government would have had a moral obligation to report the threat had it occurred, these officials, in the committee's judgment, indicated by their demeanor that they were testifying truthfully.

The committee also made a judgment about the risk that would have been incurred by Cubans had they testified falsely on this issue or by those who might have orchestrated their false testimony. Based on newspaper reporting alone, the Cuban Government might reasonably have believed that the committee had access to extensive information about conversations in the Cuban consulate in Mexico City and that such information might have provided convincing evidence of a coverup. To have been caught in a lie in public testimony in the United States 13 would have been a major embarrassment for the Cuban Government, one that might have implied more than moral responsibility for failing to report a threat against President Kennedy in advance of the assassination.

On balance, the committee did not believe that Oswald voiced a threat to Cuban officials. However reliable the confidential source may be, the committee found it to be in error in this instance.

The committee investigated other aspects of Oswald's trip to Mexico City in September 1963 to see if it could develop information that bore on the question of a Cuban conspiracy. It considered the claim by the Cuban consul in Mexico City in 1963, Eusebio Azcue, that a man posing as Oswald applied for a Cuban visa. 14 It also investigated two plausible, though unsubstantiated, allegations of activities that had not previously been publicly revealed:
That of a Mexican author, Elena Garro de Paz, who claimed that Oswald and two companions had attended a "twist" party at the home of Ruben Duran, brother-in-law of Silvia Duran, the secretary of Cuban consul Azcue who dealt with Oswald when he applied at the consulate for a Cuban visa.(164)
That of a Mexican named Oscar Contreras who, in 1967, claimed he had met Oswald on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. (165)
The committee conducted extensive interviews with respect to these allegations. (166)

The significance of the Elena Garro allegation, aside from its pointing to Oswald associations in Mexico City that the Warren Commis-

13In addition to a tape-recorded interview with President Castro in Havana, the committee heard testimony in public hearing from two former Cuban counsuls in Mexico City, Eusebio Azcue and Alfredo Mirabel, and it tape-recorded an interview with Silvia Duran, a secretary at the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City in 1963 who had had one or more encounters with Oswald.

14Details of the issue of an alleged Oswald imposter are presented in section I D 4.

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sion did not investigate, lay in her description of one of the companions as gaunt and blond-haired. (167) These are characteristics that both Azcue and Silvia Duran attributed to the visitor to the Cuban consulate who identified himself as Lee Harvey Oswald. (168) Even though "gaunt and blond-haired" did not describe Oswald, Duran said that the American visitor was the man later arrested in the assassination of the President. (169) Azcue, on the other hand, insisted that the visitor was not the individual whose published photograph was that of Oswald. (170)

The committee was unable to obtain corroboration for the Elena Garro allegation, although Silvia Duran did confirm that there was a "twist" party at her brother-in-law's home in the fall of 1963 and that Elena Garro was there. (171) She denied, however, that Oswald was there, insisting that she never saw Oswald outside of the Cuban consulate.(172) The committee was unable to check the story with official U.S. investigative agencies because they failed to pursue it, even though they were aware of it in 1964.15

The committee's investigation was sufficient, however, to develop a conclusion that the Elena Garro allegation had warranted investigation when it was first received by the CIA in October 1964. Even in the late 1960's, at a time when Garro and others were available for questioning, there was still the potential for sufficient corroboration 16 to make the allegation worth pursuing. Further, while the allegation did not specifically show a Cuban conspiracy, it did indicate significant Oswald associations that were not known to the Warren Commission.

The other Oswald association in Mexico City that might have proven significant, had it been pursued, was the one alleged by Oscar Contreras, a student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The committee made an effort to investigate this allegation. Silvia Duran, for example, admitted to the committee. that she had advised Oswald he might obtain a Cuban visa if he could get a letter of recommendation from a Mexican in good standing with the Cuban revolutionary hierarchy. (175) The committee also learned that the chairman of the philosophy department at the National Autonomous University, Ricardo Guerra, held seminars from time to time at the Duran home on Kant, Hegel, and Marx. (176) The committee speculated that these circumstances might explain why Oswald contacted Contreras, who reported to Mexican authorities that Oswald approached him in Sept-

15The committee's investigation in Mexico City was further inhibited by the refusal of the CIA to make available its sources on the Elena Garro allegation, and, as a committee of the U.S. Congress in a foreign country, it was bound by a decision of the Mexican Government to permit its citizens to decide individually if they wished to meet with committee representatives (173)
     The CIA, moreover, had failed to pursue the Elena Garro allegation adequately in 1964. A review of the CIA file indicated that the allegation was treated skeptically because Agency officials apparently considered Elena Garro to be other than totally rational. Inquiries of sources were ordered, but the files do not indicate that any responses were actively solicited or, in fact, received. The Agency files on this aspect of the case are devoid of any substance that would suggest an active CIA investigation.
     The committee did ultimately locate Elena Garro in Europe, but attempts by telephone to persuade her to come to the United States to testify did not succeed (174).


16Elena Garro maintained that after the assassination she wanted to report her story to authorities but that she was warned of possible danger by a man named Manuel Calvillo. Elena Garro, alleged that Calvillo placed her in the Hotel Vermont in Mexico City where she remained for several days. In 1967, the CIA did in fact receive confirmation of Elena Garro's stay at the Hotel Vermont immediately after the assassination.

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tember 1963 following a roundtable discussion at the school of philosophy. 17

The committee's attempts to contact Contreras were frustrated. On two occasions, the Mexican Government said he would be available for an interview, but neither materialized. The committee also was unable to contract Guerra. who in 1978 was Mexico's Ambassador to East Germany. (177) The significance of the Contreras allegation, therefore, remains largely indeterminate.

The committee also pondered what deductions might be drawn from Azcue's conviction that the man who applied for a Cuban visa was not Oswald. One possibility considered, although ultimately rejected by the committee, was that there was a sinister association between Oswald and the Castro regime that Azcue was attempting to conceal.

The committee weighed the evidence on both sides of the Oswald-at-the-Cuban-consulate issue:
That it was Oswald was indicated by the testimony of Silvia Duran and Alfredo Mirabal, who was in the process of succeeding Azcue as Cuban consul when the visit occurred in late September 1963. They both identified Oswald from post-assassination photographs as the man who applied for a Cuban visa.
That it was not Oswald was a possibility raised by the committee's inability to secure a photograph of him entering or leaving the Soviet Embassy or the Cuban consulate. The committee obtained evidence from the Cuban Government that such photographs were being taken routinely in 1963. Further, the committee found that Oswald paid at least five visits to the Soviet Embassy or the Cuban consulate. 18(178)
The committee also sought to understand the significance of a Secret Service investigation of threats against President Kennedy by pro-Castro Cubans. In April 1961, for example, when the President and Mrs. Kennedy were scheduled to address a special meeting of the Council of the Organization of American States, the State Department reported that Cuba would be represented by one Quentin Pino Machado. Machado, a Cuban diplomat, described as a character of ill repute, armed and dangerous, ultimately did not attend the meeting. (179)

On November 27, 1963, a Miami Secret Service informant told Special Agent Ernest Aragon that if the assassination involved an international plot in which Castro had participated, then Castro's agent in the plot would have been Machado, a well-known terrorist. There were

17The Contreras story, as in the case of the Elena Garro allegation, was not adequately pursued when it first came to the attention of the CIA in 1967. At that time, the Agency was informed by the U.S. Consul in Tampico, Mexico, that Contreras had passed the information to him. An Agency employee later discussed the matter in more detail with the Consul and then met with Contreras himself. The CIA confirmed that Contreras had been a student in 1963 and was politically a strong supporter of Fidel Castro. The Contreras story was considered, according to Agency files, to be the first significant development in the investigation of the Kennedy assassination after 1965. Nevertheless, no attempt was made to determine who Contreras' associates were or how Oswald might have contacted him. Instead, the case was simply reported to the FBI. According to FBI files, no follow-up investigation was conducted.

18The committee believed that photographs of Oswald might have been taken and subsequently lost or destroyed. The committee did obtain a photograph of a man whose description seemed to match that given by Azcue and Duran of the "gaunt and blond-haired" visitor to the Cuban consulate. They each stated, however, that he was not the man they had described as the one who, in the name of Lee Harvey Oswald, had applied for a visa to Cuba.

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rumors in the Miami Cuban community at the time that Machado had been assigned to escort Oswald from Texas to Cuba after the assassination. The plan went awry, the report continued, because Oswald had not been wearing clothing of a prearranged color and because of the shooting of Dallas Patrolman J.D. Tippit.(180)

The reports on Machado, along with other suspicions of Castro complicity in the assassination, were forwarded only in brief summary form by the Secret Service to the Warren Commission. The committee could find no record of follow-up action. (181) The committee's investigation of actions by the Secret Service subsequent to the assassination, however, revealed the most extensive work of the Agency to have been in response to reports of pro-Castro Cuban involvement. (182)

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(g) The committee's trip to Cuba

The committee took its investigation to Cuba in the spring and summer of 1978. It sought information on numerous allegations, such as those mentioned above, and it put to President Castro the question of Cuban involvement in the assassination. The committee found the Cuban Government to be cooperative, both in supplying written reports and documents in response to questions and by making a number of its citizens available for interviews. (183) While the committee was unable to interview Luisa Calderon personally, the Cuban Government did permit its former consuls in Mexico City, Eusebio Azcue and Alfredo Mirabal, to come to Washington to testify in a public hearing of the committee. (184)

In response to the question of Cuban complicity in the assassination, Castro replied:
That [the Cuban Government might have been involved in the President's death] was insane. From the ideological point of view it was insane. And from the political point of view, it was a tremendous insanity. I am going to tell you here that nobody, nobody ever had the idea of such things. What would it do? We just tried to defend our folks here, within our territory. Anyone who subscribed to that idea would have been judged insane ...absolutely sick. Never, in 20 years of revolution, I never heard anyone suggest nor even speculate about a measure of that sort, because who could think of the idea of organizing the death of the President of the United States. That would have been the most perfect pretext for the United States to invade our country. which is what I have tried to prevent for all these years, in every possible sense. Since the United States is much more powerful than we are, what could we gain from a war with the United States? The United States would lose nothing. The destruction would have been here. (185)
Castro added:
I want to tell you that the death of the leader does not change the system. It has never done that. (186)
In the interview, Castro also commented on his speech of September 7, 1963, which on its face might have been viewed as an indication

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that Castro may have been prompted to retaliate for a CIA-inspired attempt on his life:
So, I said something like those plots start to set a very bad precedent, a very serious one--that could become a boomerang against the authors of those actions ...but I did not mean to threaten by that. I did not mean even that ...not in the least ...but rather, like a warning that we knew; that we had news about it; and that to set those precedents of plotting the assassination of leaders of other countries would be a very bad precedent ...something very negative. And, if at present, the same would happen under the same circumstances, I would have no doubt in saying the same as I said [then] because I didn't mean a threat by that. I didn't say it as a threat. I did not mean by that that we were going to take measures--similar measures-- like a retaliation for that. We never meant that because we knew that there were plots. For 3 years, we had known there were plots against us. So the conversation came about very casually, you know; but I would say that all these plots or attempts were part of the everyday life.(187)
Finally, President Castro noted that although relations between the United States and Cuba were strained during the Kennedy administration, by 1963 there were definite hopes for reconciliation. (188)

The committee confirmed from the historic record that, in 1963, the Cuban Government made several overtures. While, for the most part, Kennedy did not respond favorably, he did, in November, direct that the possibility of holding talks be explored by United Nations Delegate William Atwood with Cuban United Nations Ambassador Carlos Lechuga. (189) There was also reason to believe that French journalist Jean Daniel was asked by Kennedy to relay a peace message to Castro.(190) At least, that was how Castro interpreted it when he met with Daniel on November 20, 1963. (191)

In his interview with the committee, Castro referred to these two developments toward rapprochement, as he viewed them, suggesting that he would not have had a motive to eliminate President Kennedy. Instead, it would have been to his advantage, Castro insisted, to have pursued the prospect for better relations that had been portended. (192)

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(h) Deficiencies of the 1963-64 investigation

In attempting to resolve the question of possible Cuban conspiracy, the committee concluded that a definitive answer had to come, if at all, largely from the investigation conducted in 1963-64 by the Warren Commission and the FBI and CIA. What the committee was able to do 15 years later could fill in important details, but it could not make up for basic insufficiencies. Unfortunately, the committee found that there were in fact significant deficiencies in the earlier investigation. The Warren Commission knew far less than it professed to know about Oswald's trip to Mexico and his possible association with pro-Castro agents in Mexico and elsewhere. This was true, in part, because the Commission had demanded less of the FBI and CIA than called for in its mandate. (193)

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For its part, the FBI mechanically ran out thousands of leads, but it failed to make effective use of its Cuban Section of the Domestic Intelligence Division or to develop and systematically pursue investigative hypotheses of possible Cuban complicity. It must be said that the FBI generally exhausted its resources in confirming the case against Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin, a case that Director J. Edgar Hoover, at least, seemed determined to make within 24 hours of the assassination. (194)

With respect to the CIA, the committee determined that it could have been better equipped to investigate the question of Cuban complicity. 19 The CIA had, at the time, only limited access to Cuban intelligence defectors, and most of its information sources inside Cuba were better equipped to report on economic developments and troop movements than on political decisions, especially sensitive ones, such as those involving political assassination.(198)

As the CIA admitted in its 1977 Task Force Report, it could have taken "broader initiatives" in pursuing the investigation. The committee found that such initiatives could have included more comprehensive instructions on debriefing Cuban sources and more explicit tasking of stations for specific investigative efforts.

With respect to the CIA's investigation of possible Cuban complicity, however, the committee found that the Agency's shortcomings were not attributable to any improper motive. The committee found that the CIA did generally gather and analyze the information that came to its attention regarding possible Cuban involvement, at least until the Warren Commission made its report in 1964. Indeed, the committee noted that the Agency acted not only out of dedication, but out of a specific motivation related to Cuba. The officers, agents and employees in the Cuba-related divisions had devoted their careers to the overthrow of Castro, and evidence of his participation in the assassination, if it had existed and could have been brought to light, would have vindicated their long-frustrated efforts, of not, in fact, led directly to a U.S. invasion of Cuba and destruction of the Castro regime.

That being said, the committee did not ignore the possibility that certain CIA officials who were aware that close scrutiny of U.S.-Cuban relations in the early 1960's could have inadvertently exposed the CIA-Mafia plots against Castro, might have attempted to prevent the CIA's assassination investigation or that of the Warren Commission from delving deeply into the question of Cuban complicity. The committee determined, however, that only CIA Deputy Director Richard Helms would have been in a position to have had both the requisite knowledge and the power to accomplish such a coverup, and it was satisfied, on the basis of its investigation, that it was highly unlikely he in fact did so. (199)

19With respect to the incident at the home of Sylvia Odio in Dallas (see sec. C 3), the CIA had developed since 1963 the ability to identify from physical descriptions possible intelligence agents who may have been involved. In fact, at the committee's request, the CIA attempted to identify Odio's visitors, and it determined that they may have been members of Cuban intelligence. (195) The committee showed photographs supplied by the CIA to Odio who stated they did not appear to be the visitors in question. (196) The committee came to the conclusion that had she been shown photographs in 1963, when the event was clearer in her mind, she might have been able to make an identification. It is also regrettable that the CIA did not make use of a defector from Cuba who had worked in intelligence and who might have been able to identify the Odio visitors. (197)

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While noting the deficiencies in the CIA assassination investigation, the committee was impressed with certain overseas capabilities of the CIA in 1963. The Agency had, for example, comprehensive coverage of anti-Castro Cuban groups that, in turn, had extensive information sources in and out of Cuba. (200) Thus, while it was flawed in certain specific respects, the committee concluded that the CIA assassination investigation could, in fact, be relied on--with only limited reservations-- as a general indicator of possible Cuban involvement. That investigation found no evidence of Cuban complicity.

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(i) Summary of the findings

While the committee did not take Castro's denials at face value, it found persuasive reasons to conclude that the Cuban Government was not involved in the Kennedy assassination. First, by 1963 there were prospects for repairing the hostility that had marked relations between the two countries since Castro had come to power. Second, the risk of retaliation that Cuba would have incurred by conspiring in the assassination of an American President must have canceled out other considerations that might have argued for that act. President Castro's description of the idea as "insane" is appropriate. And there was no evidence indicating an insane or grossly reckless lack of judgment on the part of the Cuban Government. Third, the CIA had both the motive to develop evidence of Cuban involvement and access to at least substantial, if incomplete, information bearing on relevant aspects of it, had such involvement existed. Its absence, therefore, must be weighed in the balance. Finally, the Cuban Government's cooperation with this committee in the investigation must be a factor in any judgment. In conclusion, the committee found, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Cuban Government was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.

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3. THE COMMITTEE BELIEVES, ON THE BASIS OF THE EVIDENCE AVAILABLE TO IT, THAT ANTI-CASTRO CUBAN GROUPS, AS GROUPS, WERE NOT INVOLVED IN THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY, BUT THAT THE AVAILABLE EVIDENCE DOES NOT PRECLUDE THE POSSIBILITY THAT INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS MAY HAVE BEEN INVOLVED
Go to the footnotes for this section.
  1. The anti-Castro perspective
    1. The missile crisis and its aftermath
    2. Attitude of anti-Castro Cubans toward Kennedy
  2. The committee investigation
    1. Homer S. Echevarria
    2. Antonio Veciana Blanch
    3. Silvia Odio
  3. Oswald and the anti-Castro Cubans
    1. Oswald in New Orleans
    2. Oswald in Clinton, La
    3. David Ferrie
    4. 544 Camp Street
    5. A committee analysis of Oswald in New Orleans
    6. Summary of the evidence
The committee investigated possible involvement in the assassination by a number of anti-Castro Cuban groups and individual activists for two primary reasons:
First, they had the motive, based on what they considered President Kennedy's betrayal of their cause, the liberation of Cuba from the Castro regime; the means, since they were trained and practiced in violent acts, the result of the guerrilla warfare they were waging against Castro; and the opportunity, whenever the President, as he did from time to time, appeared at public gatherings, as in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
Second, the committee's investigation revealed that certain associations of Lee Harvey Oswald were or may have been with anti-Castro activists.
The committee, therefore, paid close attention to the activities of anti-Castro Cubans--in Miami, where most of them were concentrated and their organizations were headquartered,(1) and in New Orleans

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and Dallas, where Oswald, while living in these cities in the months preceding the assassination, reportedly was in contact with anti-Castro activists.(2)

The Warren Commission did not, of course, ignore Oswald's ties to anti-Castroites. From the evidence that was available in 1964, two Warren Commission staff attorneys, W. David Slawson and William Coleman, went so far as to speculate that Oswald, despite his public posture as a Castro sympathizer, might actually have been an agent of anti-Castro exiles.(3) Indeed, pressing for further investigation of the possibility, they wrote a memorandum which read in part:
The evidence here could lead to an anti-Castro involvement in the assassination on some sort of basis as this: Oswald could have become known to the Cubans as being strongly pro-Castro. He made no secret of his sympathies, so the anti-Castro Cubans must have realized that law enforcement authorities were also aware of Oswald's feelings and that, therefore, if he got into trouble, the public would also learn of them ...Second, someone in the anti-Castro organization might have been keen enough to sense that Oswald had a penchant for violence ...On these facts, it is possible that some sort of deception was used to encourage Oswald to kill the President when he came to Dallas ...The motive of this would, of course, be the expectation that after the President was killed, Oswald would be caught or at least his identity ascertained, the law enforcement authorities and the public would blame the assassination on the Castro government, and a call for its forceful overthrow would be irresistible.... (4)
While it is seemingly in contradiction of Oswald's personal character and known public posture, the committee seriously considered, therefore, the possibility of an anti-Castro conspiracy in the assassination (perhaps with Oswald unaware of ifs true nature). It is appropriate to begin that consideration with an examination of the history of United States-Cuban relations from the perspective of the anti-Castro movement, beginning with the victorious end of the revolution on January 1, 1959. (5)

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(a) The anti-Castro Cuban perspective

The anti-Castro movement began not long after Fidel Castro assumed control of Cuba. (6) at first, the Cuban people cheered the revolution and its leader for the defeat of the dictatorial Batista regime, but it was not long before many former supporters found reason to condemn the new premier's policies and politics. (7) Many Cubans were deeply disillusioned when it became apparent that the Castro government was renouncing the country's long affiliation with the United States and moving closer to the Soviet Union. (8) As Castro's preference for Marxism became evident, underground opposition movements were born. (9) They survived for a time within Cuba, but as the effectiveness of Castro's militia system was recognized, they retreated to the exile communities of Miami and other cities in the United States. (10)

The U.S. Government was responsive to the efforts of exiles to remove a Communist threat from the Caribbean, only 90 miles from the

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Florida coast, and to recapture business investments lost to the nationalization of industry in Cuba. (11) An official, yet covert, program to train and equip exiles determined to overthrow Castro was sanctioned by President Eisenhower and his successor, President Kennedy, and carried out by the American intelligence agencies, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency. (12). The Cuban exiles, dependent on the United States for arms and logistical support, had little choice but to put their trust in Washington. (13)

Their trust collapsed however, at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961, when an exile invasion of Cuba was annihilated by Castro's troops. (14) The failure of American airpower to support the landing shattered the confidence of the anti-Castro Cubans in the U.S. Government.(15) They blamed President Kennedy, and he publicly accepted responsibility for the defeat. (16)

President Kennedy's readiness to take the blame for the Bay of Pigs served to intensify the anger of the exiles.(17) In executive session before the committee, Manuel Antonio Varona, who in 1961 was the head of the united exile organization, the Revolutionary Democratic Front, told of a tense and emotional encounter with the President at the White House, as hope for the invasion was fading.(18) "We were not charging Mr. Kennedy with anything," Varona testified.(19) "We knew he was not in charge of the military efforts directly. Nevertheless, President Kennedy told us he was the one--the only one responsible." (20)

A noted Cuban attorney, Mario Lazo, summed up Cuban feeling toward President Kennedy in his book, "Dagger in the Heart":
The Bay of Pigs was wholly self-inflicted in Washington. Kennedy told the truth when he publicly accepted responsibility... The heroism of the beleaguered Cuban Brigade had been rewarded by betrayal, defeat, death for many of them, long and cruel imprisonment for the rest. The Cuban people ...had always admired the United States as strong, rich, generous--but where was its sense of honor and the capacity of its leaders? (21)
President Kennedy was well aware of the bitter legacy of the Bay of Pigs debacle. Far from abandoning the Cuban exiles, he set out to convince them of his loyalty to their cause. One of the most emotionally charged events of his relationship with the Cuban exiles occurred on December 29, 1962, at the Orange Bowl in Miami. (22) He had come to welcome the survivors of the invasion force, Brigade 2506, the 1,200 men who had been ransomed from Cuba after almost 20 months in prison.(23) The President was presented with the brigade flag in a dramatic and tumultuous scene.

The euphoria was false and misleading. Although the Cuban exiles cheered President Kennedy that day, there also coursed through the crowd a bitter resentment among some who felt they were witnessing a display of political hypocrisy. Later, it would be claimed that the brigade feeling against President Kennedy was so strong that the presentation nearly did not take place, and it would be alleged (incorrectly, as it turned out) that the brigade flag given to Kennedy was actually a replica.(25)

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It is not possible to know fully how the Bay of Pigs defeat changed President Kennedy's attitude toward Cuba, but when journalists Taylor Branch and George Crile wrote in Harper's Magazine about a massive infusion of U.S. aid to clandestine anti-Castro operations in the wake of the Bay of Pigs, they titled their article, "The Kennedy Vendetta."(26) What is known is that the period between the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 can be characterized as the high point of anti-Castro activity. (27) Miami, the center of the exile community, became a busy staging ground for armed infiltrations Cuba.(28) While not every raid was supported or even known about in advance by Government agencies, the United States played a key role in monitoring, directing and supporting the anti-Castro Cubans. (29) Although this effort was cloaked in secrecy, most Cubans in the exile community knew what was happening and who was supporting the operations. (30)

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(1) The missile crisis and its aftermath.--At the time of the missile crisis in October 1962, the Cuban exiles were initially elated at the prospect of U.S. military action that might topple the Castro regime.(31) In the end, it seemed to the world that President Kennedy had the best of the confrontation with Castro and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev by demanding, and getting, the withdrawal of offensive missiles and bombers from Cuba. From the exiles' perspective, however, they had been compromised, since as part of the bargain, President Kennedy made a pledge not to invade Cuba. 20(32)

Anti-Castro forces in the United States were all the more embittered in the spring of 1963 when the Federal Government closed down many of their training camps and guerrilla bases. (34) In cases where government raids intercepted the illegal arms transfers, weapons were confiscated and arrests were made.(35) Some anti-Castro operations did continue, however, right up to the time of the assassination, though the committee. found that U.S. backing had by that time been reduced. (36)

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(2) Attitude of anti-Castro Cubans toward Kennedy.--President Kennedy's popularity among the Cuban exiles had plunged deeply by 1963. Their bitterness is illustrated in a tape recording of a meeting of anti-Castro Cubans and right-wing Americans in the Dallas suburb of Farmer's Branch on October 1, 1963. (37) In it, a Cuban identified as Nestor Castellanos vehemently criticized the United States and blamed President Kennedy for the U.S. Government's policy of "non-interference" with respect to the Cuban issue. (38) Holding a copy of the September 26 edition of the Dallas Morning News, featuring a front-page account of the President's planned trip to Texas in November, Castellanos vented his hostility without restraint:
CASTELLANOS. ...we're waiting for Kennedy the 22d, buddy. We're going to see him in one way or the other. We're going to give him the works when he gets in Dallas. Mr. good ol' Kennedy. I wouldn't even call him President Kennedy He stinks.
20The United States never actually signed the pledge, since it was conditioned on United Nations inspection of the weapons withdrawal that Castro would not honor. The fine point of signing the pledge was of little importance to the Cuban exiles, however, who could point out later that no invasion did, in fact, occur. (33)

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QUESTIONER. Are you insinuating that since this downfall came through the leader there [Castro in Cuba], that this might come to us ...?
CASTELLANOS. Yes ma'am, your present leader. He's the one who is doing everything right now to help the United States to become Communist.21(39)
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(b) The committee investigation

The committee initiated its investigation by identifying the most violent and frustrated anti-Castro groups and their leaders from among the more than 100 Cuban exile organizations in existence in November 1963. (40) These groups included Alpha 66, the Cuban Revolutionary Junta (JURE), Commandos L, the Directorio Revolutionary Estudiantil (DRE), the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) which included the Frente Revolucionario Democratico (FRD), the Junta del Gobierno de Cuba en el Exilio (JGCE), the 30th of November, the International Penetration Forces (InterPen), the Revolutionary Recovery Movement (MRR), and the Ejercito Invasor Cubano (EIC).(41) Their election evolved both from the committee's independent field investigation and the examination of the files and records maintained by the Federal and local agencies then monitoring Cuban exile activity. These agencies included local police departments, the FBI, the CIA, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (now the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA), the Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Department of Defense.

The groups that received the committee's attention were "action groups"--those most involved in military actions and propaganda campaigns. Unlike most others, they did not merely talk about anti-Castro operations, they actually carried out infiltrations into Cuba, planned, and sometimes attempted, Castro's assassination, and shipped arms into Cuba. These were also the groups whose leaders felt most betrayed by U.S. policy toward Cuba and by the President; they were also those whose operations were frustrated by American law enforcement efforts after the missile crisis.

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(1) Homer S. Echevarria.---For the most part the committee found that the anti-Castro Cuban leaders were more vociferous than potentially violent in their tirades against the President. Nevertheless, it was unable to conclude with certainty that all of the threats were benign. For example, one that the committee found particularly disturbing especially so, since it was not thoroughly looked into in the 1963-64 investigation came to the attention of the Secret Service within days of the President's death, prompting the Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago field office to write an urgent memorandum indicating he had received reliable information of "a group in the Chicago area who [sic] may have a connection with the J.F.K. assassination."(43) The memorandum was based on a tip from an informant who reported a conversation on November 21, 1963, with a Cuban activist named Homer S. Echevarria.(44) They were discussing an illegal arms sale, and Echevarria was quoted as saying his group now

21The committee uncovered no evidence that linked Castellanos to the assassination. His speech is quoted to illustrate the depth of feeling that existed in the Cuban exile community in 1963.

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had "plenty of money" and that his backers would proceed "as soon as we take care of Kennedy." (45)

Following the initial memorandum, the Secret Service instructed its informant to continue his association with Echevarria and notified the Chicago FBI field office. (46) It learned that Echevarria might have been a member of the 30th of November anti-Castro organization, that he was associated with Juan Francisco Blanco-Fernandez, military director of the DRE, and that the arms deal was being financed through one Paulino Sierra Martinez by hoodlum elements in Chicago and elsewhere.(47)

Although the Secret Service recommended further investigation, the FBI initially took the position that the Echevarria case "was primarily a protection matter and that the continued investigation would be left to the U.S. Secret Service," (48) and that the Cuban group in question was probably not involved in illegal activities. (49) The Secret Service initially was reluctant to accept this position, since it had developed evidence that illegal acts were, in fact, involved. (50) Then, on November 29, 1963, President Johnson created the Warren Commission and gave the FBI primary investigative responsibility in the assassination.(51) Based on its initial understanding that the President's order meant primary, not exclusive, investigative responsibility, the Secret Service continued its efforts;(52) but when the FBI made clear that it wanted the Secret Service to terminate its investigation, (53) it did so, turning over its files to the FBI. (54) The FBI, in turn, did not pursue the Echevarria case. (55)

While it was unable to substantiate the content of the informant's alleged conversations with Echevarria or any connection to the events in Dallas, the committee did establish that the original judgment of the Secret Service was correct, that the Echevarria case did warrant a thorough investigation. It found, for example, that the 30th of November group was backed financially by the Junta del Gobierno de Cuba en el Exilio (JGCE), a Chicago-based organization run by Paulino Sierra Martinez.(56) JGCE was a coalition of many of the more active anti-Castro groups that had been rounded in April 1963; it was dissolved soon after the assassination. 22(57) Its purpose was to back the activities of the more militant groups, including Alpha 66 and the Student Directorate, or DRE, both of which had reportedly been in contact with Lee Harvey Oswald. (58) Much of JGCE's financial support, moreover, allegedly came from individuals connected to organized crime. (59)

As it surveyed the various anti-Castro organizations, the committee focused its interest on reported contacts with Oswald. Unless an association with the President's assassin could be established, it is doubtful that it could be shown that the anti-Castro groups were involved in the assassination. The Warren Commission, discounting the recommendations of Slawson and Coleman, had either regarded these contacts as insignificant or as probably not having been made or else was not aware of them. (60) The committee could not so easily dismiss them.

22The committee established-- though it could make no judgment about there having been a connection-- that many of the anti-Castro Cuban groups ceased their operations at about the time of President Kennedy's assassination. The Echevarria allegation is also discussed in section I D (1)(b) infra.

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(2) Antonio Veciana Blanch.--The committee devoted a significant portion of its anti-Castro Cuban investigation to an alleged contact with Oswald that had been reported by Antonio Veciana Blanch, the founder of Alpha 66 which, throughout 1962 and most of 1963, was one of the most militant of the exile groups. (61) Its repeated hit-and-run attacks had drawn public criticism from President Kennedy in the spring of 1963, to which Veciana replied, "We are going to attack again and again."

Veciana claimed to have had the active support of the CIA, and in 1976 he reported to a Senate investigator that from 1960 to 1973 his adviser, whom he believed to be a representative of the CIA, was known to him as Maurice Bishop. (62) Veciana stated that over their 13-year association, he and Bishop met on over 100 occasions and that Bishop actually planned many Alpha 66 operations. (63) He also said that he knew the man only, as Maurice Bishop and that all of their contacts were initiated by Bishop. (64)

Veciana said that Bishop had guided him in planning assassination attempts of Castro in Havana in 1961 and in Chile in 1971; that Bishop had directed him to organize Alpha 66 in 1962; and that Bishop, on ending their relationship in 1973, had paid him $253,000 in cash for his services over the years. (65) Veciana also revealed that at one meeting with Bishop in Dallas in late August or early September 1963, a third party at their meeting was a man he later recognized as Lee Harvey Oswald. (66)

Veciana also indicated to the committee that subsequent to the assassination, he had been contacted by Bishop, who was aware that Veciana had a relative in Cuban intelligence in Mexico.(67) Bishop, according to Veciana, offered to pay Veciana's relative a large sum of money if he would say that it was he and his wife who had met with Oswald in Mexico City.(68) Veciana said he had agreed to contact his relative, but he had been unable to do so. (69)

The committee pursued the details of Veciana's story, particularly the alleged meeting with Oswald. It conducted numerous file reviews and interviews with associates and former associates of Veciana, to try to confirm the existence of a Maurice Bishop or otherwise assess Veciana's credibility. On a trip to Cuba, the committee interviewed Veciana's relative, the Cuban intelligence agent.

While the committee was unable to find corroboration for the contacts with Bishop, it did substantiate other statements by Veciana. For example, he did organize an attempted assassination of Castro in Havana in 1961, (70) and he probably did participate in another plot against Castro in Chile in 1971. (71) That Veciana was the principal organizer of the militant Alpha 66 organization was a matter of record. (72)

The committee went to great lengths in its unsuccessful effort to substantiate the existence of Bishop and his alleged relationship with Oswald. It reviewed CIA files, but they showed no record of such an agent or employee. It circulated a sketch via the national news media, but no one responded with an identification. (73) It pursued a lead originating with the Senate investigation that a former chief of the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division of the Directorate of Operations bore a resemblance to the Bishop sketch.(74) The committee arranged for

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a chance meeting between Veciana and the CIA officer, who had since retired. (75) Veciana said he was not Bishop. (76) In an executive session of the committee, the retired officer testified under oath that he had never used the name Maurice Bishop, had never known anyone by that name and had never known Veciana. (77) Veciana, also before a committee executive session, testified the officer was not Bishop although he bore a "physical similarity."23(78)

A former Director of the CIA, John McCone, and an agent who had participated in covert Cuban operations, each told the committee they recalled that a Maurice Bishop had been associated with the Agency, though neither could supply additional details.(80) Subsequently, McCone was interviewed by CIA personnel, and he told them that his original testimony to the committee had been in error. (81) The agent did confirm, however, even after a CIA reinterview, that he had seen the man known to him as Maurice Bishop three or four times at CIA headquarters in the early 1960's. (82) He did not know his organizational responsibilities, and he had not known him personally. (83) The agent also testified that he had been acquainted with the retired officer who had been chief of the Western Hemisphere Division and that he was not Bishop. (84)

The committee also requested flies on Bishop from the FBI and Department of Defense, with negative results.(85) It did discover, however, that Army intelligence had an operational interest in Veciana as a source of information on Alpha 66 activities, and that Veciana complied, hoping to be supplied in return with funds and weapons. (86) Veciana acknowledged his contacts with the Army, but he stated that the only relationship those contacts had to Bishop was that he kept Bishop informed of them. (87)

The CIA's files reflected that the Agency had been in contact with Veciana three times during the early 1960's, but the Agency maintained it offered him no encouragement.(88) (The committee could discover only one piece of arguably contradictory evidence--a record of $500 in operational expenses, given to Veciana by a person with whom the CIA had maintained a long-standing operational relationship. (89) The CIA further insisted that it did not at any time assign a case officer to Veciana. 24(90)

The committee was left with the task of evaluating Veciana's story, both with respect to the existence of Maurice Bishop and the alleged meeting with Oswald, by assessing Veciana's credibility. It found several reasons to believe that Veciana had been less than candid:

23The committee suspected that Veciana was lying when he denied that the retired CIA officer was Bishop. The committee recognized that Veciana had an interest in renewing his anti-Castro operations that might have led him to protect the officer from exposure as Bishop so they could work together again. For his part, the retired officer aroused the committee's suspicion when he told the committee he did not recognize Veciana as the founder of Alpha 66, especially since the officer had once been deeply involved in Agency anti-Castro operations. Further, a former CIA case officer who was assigned from September 1960 to November 1962 to the JM/WAVE station in Miami told the committee that the retired officer had in fact used the alias, Maurice Bishop. The committee also interviewed a former assistant of the retired officer but he could not recall his former superior ever having used the name or having been referred to as Bishop. (79)

24The committee found it probable that some agency of the United States assigned a case officer to Veciana, since he was the dominant figure in an extremely active anti-Castro organization. The committee established that the CIA assigned case officers to Cuban revolutionaries of less importance than Veciana, though it could not draw from that alone an inference of CIA deception of the committee concerning Veciana, since Bishop could well have been in the employ of one of the military intelligence agencies or even perhaps of some foreign power.

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First, Veciana waited more than 10 years after the assassination to reveal his story.
Second, Veciana would not supply proof of the $253,000 payment from Bishop, claiming fear of the Internal Revenue Service.
Third, Veciana could not point to a single witness to his meetings with Bishop, much less with Oswald.
Fourth, Veciana did little to help the committee identify Bishop.
In the absence of corroboration or independent substantiation, the committee could not, therefore, credit Veciana's story of having met with Lee Harvey Oswald.

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(3) Silvia Odio. The incident of reported contact between Oswald and anti-Castro Cubans that has gained the most attention over the years involved Silvia Odio, a member of the Cuban Revolutionary Junta, or JURE. (91) Mrs. Odio had not volunteered her information to the FBI.(92) The FBI initially contacted Mrs. Odio after hearing of a conversation she had had with her neighbor in which she described an encounter with Lee Harvey Oswald. (93) Subsequently, in testimony before the Warren Commission, she said that in late September 1963, three men came to her home in Dallas to ask for help in preparing a fundraising letter for JURE.(94) She stated that two of the men appeared to be Cubans, although they also had characteristics that she associated with Mexicans. (95) The two individuals, she remembered, indicated that their "war" names were "Leopoldo" and "Angelo."(96) The third man, an American, was introduced to her as "Leon Oswald," and she was told that he was very much interested in the anti-Castro Cuban cause. (97)

Mrs. Odio stated that the men told her that they had just come from New Orleans and that they were then about to leave on a trip. (98) The next day, one of the Cubans called her on the telephone and told her that it had been his idea to introduce the American into the underground "...because he is great, he is kind of nuts." (99) The Cuban also said that the American had been in the Marine Corps and was an excellent shot, and that the American had said that Cubans "...don't have any guts ...because President Kennedy should have been assassinated after the Bay of Pigs, and some Cubans should have done that, because he was the one that was holding the freedom of Cuba actually."(100) Mrs. Odio claimed the American was Lee Harvey Oswald. (101)

Mrs. Odio's sister, who was in the apartment at the time of the visit by the three men and who stated that she saw them briefly in the hallway when answering the door, also believed that the American was Lee Harvey Oswald. (102) Mrs. Odio fixed the date of the alleged visit as being September 26 or 27.(103) She was positive that the visit occurred prior to October 1. (104)

The Warren Commission was persuaded that Oswald could not have been in Dallas on the dates given by Mrs. Odio. (105) Nevertheless, it requested the FBI to conduct further investigation into her allegation, and it acknowledged that the FBI had not completed its Odio investigation at the time its report was published in September 1964. (106)

How the Warren Commission treated the Odio incident is instructive. In the summer of 1964, the FBI was pressed to dig more deeply into the Odio allegation. (107) On July 24, chief counsel J. Lee Rankin,

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in a letter to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, noted, "... the Commission already possesses firm evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald was on a bus traveling from Houston, Tex., to Mexico City, Mexico, on virtually the entire day of September 26."(108) J. Wesley Liebeler, the Warren Commission assistant counsel who had taken Mrs. Odio's deposition, disagreed, however, that there was firm evidence of Oswald's bus trip to Mexico City. (109) In a memorandum to another Commission attorney, Howard Willens, on September 14, 1964, Liebeler objected to a section of the Warren Report in which it was stated there was strong evidence that Oswald was on a bus to Mexico on the date in question.(110) Liebeler argued, "There really is no evidence at all that [Oswald] left Houston on that bus."(111) Liebeler also argued that the conclusion that there was "persuasive" evidence that Oswald was not in Dallas on September 24, 1963, a day for which his travel was unaccounted, was "too strong." (112) Liebeler urged Willens to tone down the language, of the report,(113) contending in his memorandum:"There are problems. Odio may well be right. The Commission will look bad if it turns out that she is." (114)

On August 23, 1964, Rankin again wrote to Hoover to say, "It is a matter of some importance to the Commission that Mrs. Odio's allegation either be proved or disproved." (115) Rankin asked that the FBI attempt to learn the identities of the three visitors by contacting members of anti-Castro groups active in the Dallas area, as well as leaders of the JURE organization. (116) He asked the FBI to check the possibility that Oswald had spent the night of September 24, in a hotel in New Orleans, after vacating his apartment. (117) Portions of this investigation, which were inconclusive in supporting the Warren Commission's contention that Mrs. Odio was mistaken, were not sent to Rankin until November 9,(118) at which time the final report already had been completed. (119)

The FBI did attempt to alleviate the "problems." In a report dated September 26, it reported the interview of Loran Eugene Hall who claimed he had been in Dallas in September 1963, accompanied by two men fitting the general description given by Silvia Odio, and that it was they who had visited her. (120) Oswald, Hall said, was not one of the men.(121) Within a week of Hall's statement, the other two men Hall said had accompanied him. Lawrence Howard and William Seymour, were interviewed.(122) They denied ever having met Silvia Odio. (123) Later, Hall himself retracted his statement about meeting with Mrs. Odio. (124)

Even though the Commission could not show conclusively that Oswald was not at the Odio apartment, and even though Loran Hall's story was an admitted fabrication, the Warren report published this explanation of the Odio incident:
While the FBI had not yet completed its investigation into this matter at the time the report went to press, the Commission has concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was not at Mrs. Odio's apartment in September 1963. (125)
Not satisfied with that conclusion, the committee conducted interviews with and took depositions from the principals--Silvia Odio,(126) members of her family,(127) and Dr. Burton Einspruch,

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(128) her psychiatrist. (Mrs. Odio had contacted Dr. Einspruch for consultation about problems that could not be construed to affect her perception or credibility.) (129) The committee also set up a conference telephone call between Dr. Einspruch in Dallas and Silvia Odio in Miami, during which she related to him the visit of the three men. (130) Mrs. Odio and Dr. Einspruch concurred that she had told him of the nighttime meeting shortly after its occurrence, but prior to the president's assassination.(131)

Loran Hall testified before the committee in executive session on October 5, 1977; Howard and Seymour were interviewed.(132) The FBI agent who wrote up the Hall story also testified before the committee. (133) From a review of FBI files, the committee secured a list of persons who belonged to the Dallas Chapter of JURE, and the committee attempted to locate and interview these individuals. Additionally, staff investigators interviewed the leader of JURE, Manolo Ray, who was residing in Puerto Rico. (134)

Further, the committee secured photographs of scores of pro-Castro and anti-Castro activists who might have fit the descriptions of the two individuals who, Mrs. Odio said, had visited her with Oswald. (135) The committee also used the resources of the CIA which conducted a check on all individuals who used the "war" names of "Leopoldo" and "Angelo", and the name "Leon", or had similar names. (136) An extensive search produced the names and photographs of three men who might possibly have, been in Dallas in September 1963. (137) These photographs were shown to Mrs. Odio, but she was unable to identify them as the men she had seen. (138)

The committee was inclined to believe Silvia Odio. From the evidence provided in the sworn testimony of the witnesses, it appeared that three men did visit her apartment in Dallas prior to the Kennedy assassination and identified themselves as members of an anti-Castro organization. Based on a judgment of the credibility of Silvia and Annie Odio, one of these men at least looked like Lee Harvey Oswald and was introduced to Mrs. Odio as Leon Oswald.

The committee did not agree with the Warren Commission's conclusion that Oswald could not have been in Dallas at the requisite time. Nevertheless, the committee itself could reach no definite conclusion on the specific date of the visit. It could have been as early as September 24, the morning of which Oswald was seen in New Orleans,(139) but it was more likely on the 25th, 26th or 27th of September. If it was on these dates, then Oswald had to have had access to private transportation to have traveled through Dallas and still reached Mexico City when he did, judging from other evidence developed by both the Warren Commission and the committee. (140)

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(c) Oswald and anti-Castro Cubans

The committee recognized that an association by Oswald with anti-Castro Cubans would pose problems for its evaluation of the assassin and what might have motivated him. In reviewing Oswald's life, the committee found his actions and values to have been those of a self-proclaimed Marxist who would be bound to favor the Castro regime in Cuba, or at least not advocate its overthrow. For this reason, it did not seem likely to the committee that Oswald would have allied

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himself with an anti-Castro group or individual activist for the sole purpose of furthering the anti-Castro cause. The committee recognized the possibility that Oswald might have established contacts with such groups or persons to implicate the anti-Castro movement in the assassination. Such an implication might have protected the Castro regime and other left-wing suspects, while resulting in an intensive investigation and possible neutralization of the opponents of Castro. It is also possible, despite his alleged remark about killing Kennedy, that Oswald had not yet contemplated the President's assassination at the time of the Odio incident, or if he did, that his assassination plan had no relation to his anti-Castro contacts, and that he was associating with anti-Castro activists for some other unrelated reason. A variety of speculations are possible, but the committee was forced to acknowledge frankly that, despite its efforts, it was unable to reach firm conclusions as to the meaning or significance of the Odio incident to the President's assassination.

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(1) Oswald in New Orleans.--Another contact by Lee Harvey Oswald with anti-Castro Cuban activists that was not only documented, but also publicized at the time in the news media, occurred when he was living in New Orleans in the summer of 1963, an especially puzzling period in Oswald's life. His actions were blatantly pro-Castro, as he carried a one-man Fair Play for Cuba Committee crusade into the streets of a city whose Cuban population was predominantly anti-Castro. Yet Oswald's known and alleged associations even at this time included Cubans who were of an anti-Castro persuasion and their anti-Communist American supporters.

New Orleans was Oswald's home town; he was born there on October 18, 1939.(141) In April 1963, shortly after the Walker shooting, he moved back, having lived in Fort Worth and Dallas since his return from the Soviet Union the previous June.(142) He spent the first 2 weeks job hunting, staying with the Murrets, Lillian and Charles, or "Dutz," as he was called, the sister and brother-in-law of Oswald's mother, Marguerite. (143) After being hired by the Reily Coffee Co. as a maintenance man, he sent for his wife Marina and their baby daughter, who were still in Dallas, and they moved into an apartment on Magazine Street.

In May, Oswald wrote to Vincent T. Lee, national director of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, expressing a desire to open an FPCC chapter in New Orleans and requesting literature to distribute. (145) He also had handouts printed, some of which were stamped "L. H. Oswald, 4907 Magazine Street," others with the alias, "A. J. Hidell, P.O. Box 30016," still others listing the FPCC address as 544 Camp Street. (146)

In letters written earlier that summer and spring to the FPCC headquarters in New York, Oswald had indicated that he intended to rent an office.(147) In one letter he mentioned that he had acquired a space but had been told to vacate 3 days later because the building was to be remodeled. The Warren Commission failed to discover any record of Oswald's having rented an office at 544 Camp and concluded he had fabricated the story. (149)

In investigating Oswald after the assassination, the Secret Service learned that the New Orleans chapter of the Cuban Revolutionary

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Council (CRC), an anti-Castro organization, had occupied an office at 544 Camp Street for about 6 months during 1961-62.(150) At that time, Sergio Arcacha Smith was the official CRC delegate for the New Orleans area.(151) Since the CRC had vacated the building 15 months before Oswald arrived in New Orleans, the Warren Commission concluded that there was no connection with Oswald.(152) Nevertheless, the riddle of 544 Camp Street persisted over the years.

Oswald lost his job at the Reily Coffee Co. in July, and his efforts to find another were futile.(153) Through the rest of the summer, he filed claims at the unemployment office.

On August 5, Oswald initiated contact with Carlos Bringuier, a delegate of the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE).(155) According to his testimony before the Warren Commission, Bringuier was the only registered member of the group in New Orleans. (156) Bringuier also said he had two friends at the time, Celso Hernandez and Miguel Cruz, who were also active in the anti-Castro cause. (157) Oswald reportedly told Bringuier that he wished to join the DRE, offering money and assistance to train guerrillas.(158) Bringuier, fearful of an infiltration attempt by Castro sympathizers or the FBI, told Oswald to deal directly with DRE headquarters in Miami. (159) The next day, Oswald returned to Bringuier's store and left a copy of a Marine training manual with Rolando Pelaez, Bringuier's brother-in-law. (160)

On August 9, Bringuier learned that a man was carrying a pro-Castro sign and handing out literature on Canal Street. (161) Carrying his own anti-Castro sign, Bringuier, along with Hernandez and Cruz, set out to demonstrate against the pro-Castro sympathizer. (162) Bringuier recognized Oswald and began shouting that he was a traitor and a Communist.(163) A scuffle ensued, and police arrested all participants.(164) Oswald spent the night in jail.(165) On August 12, he pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace and was fined $10. (166) The anti-Castro Cubans were not charged. (167)

During the incident with Bringuier, Oswald also encountered Frank Bartes, the New Orleans delegate of the CRC from 1962-64.(168) After Bringuier and Oswald were arrested in the street scuffle, Bartes appeared in court with Bringuier. (169) According Bartes, the news media surrounded Oswald for a statement after the hearing. (170) Bartes then engaged in an argument with the media and Oswald because the Cubans were not being given an opportunity to present their anti-Castro views. (171)

On August 16, Oswald was again seen distributing pro-Castro literature.(172) A friend of Bringuier, Carlos Quiroga, brought one of Oswald's leaflets to Bringuier and volunteered to visit Oswald and feign interest in the FPCC in order to determine Oswald's motives. (173) Quiroga met with Oswald for about an hour.(174) He learned that Oswald had a Russian wife and spoke Russian himself. Oswald gave Quiroga an application for membership in the FPCC chapter, but Quiroga noted he did not seem intent on actually enlisting members. (175)

Oswald's campaign received newspaper, television, and radio coverage. (176) William Stuckey, a reporter for radio station WDSU who had been following the FPCC, interviewed Oswald on August 17 and

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proposed a television debate between Oswald and Bringuier, to be held on August 21. (177) Bringuier issued a press release immediately after the debate, urging the citizens of New Orleans to write their Congressmen demanding a congressional investigation of Lee Harvey Oswald.(178)

Oswald largely passed out of sight from August 21 until September 17, the day he applied for a tourist card to Mexico.(179) He is known to have written letters to left-wing political organizations, and he and Marina visited the Murrets on Labor Day. (180) Marina said her husband spent his free time reading books and practicing with his rifle. (181)

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(2) Oswald in Clinton, La.--While reports of some Oswald contacts with anti-Castro Cubans were known at the time of the 1964 investigation, allegations of additional Cuba-related associations surfaced in subsequent years. As an example, Oswald reportedly appeared in August-September 1963 in Clinton, La., where a voting rights demonstration was in progress. The reports of Oswald in Clinton were not, as far as the committee could determine, available to the Warren Commission, although one witness said he notified the FBI when he recognized Oswald from news photographs right after the assassination.25(182) In fact, the Clinton sightings did not publicly surface until 1967, when they were introduced as evidence in the assassination investigation being conducted by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison.(184) In that investigation, one suspect, David W. Ferrie, a staunch anti-Castro partisan, died within days of having been named by Garrison; the other, Clay L. Shaw, was acquitted in 1969.(185) Aware that Garrison had been fairly criticized for questionable tactics, the committee proceeded cautiously, making sure to determine on its own the credibility of information coming from his probe. The committee found that the Clinton witnesses were credible and significant. They each were interviewed or deposed, or appeared before the committee in executive session. While there were points that could be raised to call into question their credibility, it was the judgment of the committee that they were telling the truth as they knew it.

There were six Clinton witnesses, among them a State representative, a deputy sheriff and a registrar of voters. (186) By synthesizing the testimony of all of them, since they each contributed to the overall account, the committee was able to piece together the following sequence of events.

Clinton, La. about 130 miles from New Orleans, is the county seat of East Feliciana Parish. In the late summer of 1963 it was targeted by the Congress of Racial Equality for a voting rights campaign. (187) Oswald first showed up in nearby Jackson, La., seeking employment at East Louisiana State Hospital, a mental institution. (188) Apparently on advice that his job would depend on his becoming a registered voter, Oswald went to Clinton for that purpose (although the committee could find no record that he was successful. (189)

In addition to the physical descriptions they gave that matched that of Oswald, other observations of the witnesses tended to substanti-

25Reeves Morgan, a member of the Louisiana Legislature, testified he was called back by the FBI a few days later and asked what Oswald had been wearing. He said he was not contacted again. The FBI had not record of Morgan's call. (183)

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ate their belief that he was, in fact, the man they saw. For example, he referred to himself as "Oswald," and he produced his Marine Corps discharge papers as identification.(190) Some of the witnesses said that Oswald was accompanied by two older men whom they identified as Ferrie and Shaw. (191) If the witnesses were not only truthful but accurate as well in their accounts, they established an association of an undetermined nature between Ferrie, Shaw and Oswald less than 3 months before the assassination.

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(3) David Ferrie.--The Clinton witnesses were not the only ones who linked Oswald to Ferrie. On November 23, the day after the assassination, Jack S. Martin, a part-time private detective and police informant, told the office of the New Orleans District Attorney that a former Eastern Airlines pilot named David Ferrie might have aided Oswald in the assassination. (192) Martin had known Ferrie for over 2 years, beginning when he and Ferrie had performed some investigative work on a case involving an illegitimate religious order in Louisville, Ky. (193) Martin advised Assistant New Orleans District Attorney Herman Kohlman that he suspected Ferrie might have known Oswald for some time and that Ferrie might have once been Oswald's superior officer in a New Orleans unit of the Civil Air Patrol.(194) Martin made further allegations to the FBI on November 25.(195) He indicated he thought he once saw a photograph of Oswald and other CAP members when he visited Ferrie's home and that Ferrie might have assisted Oswald in purchasing a foreign firearm.(196) Martin also informed the FBI that Ferrie had a history of arrests and that Ferrie was an amateur hypnotist, possibly capable of hypnotizing Oswald. (197)

The committee reviewed Ferrie's background. He had been fired by Eastern Airlines,(198) and in litigation over the dismissal, which continued through August 1963, he was counseled by a New Orleans attorney named G. Wray Gill. (199) Ferrie later stated that in March 1960, he and Gill made an agreement whereby Gill would represent Ferrie in his dismissal dispute in return for Ferrie's work as an investigator on other cases. (200) One of these cases involved deportation proceedings against Carlos Marcello, the head of the organized crime network in Louisiana and a client of Gill.26(201) Ferrie also said he had entered into a similar agreement with Guy Banister, a former FBI agent (Special Agent-in-Charge in Chicago) who had opened a private detective agency in New Orleans. (203)

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(4) 544 Camp Street.--Banister's firm occupied an office in 1963 in the Newman Building at 531 Lafayette Street. (204) Another entrance to the building was at 544 Camp Street, the address Oswald had stamped on his Fair Play for Cuba Committee handouts. (205) During the summer of 1963, Ferrie frequented 544 Camp Street regularly as a result of his working relationship with Banister. (206)

Another occupant of the Newman Building, was the Cuban Revolutionary Council, whose chief New Orleans delegate until 1962 was Ser-

26The committee learned that Ferrie's associations with Marcello might have begun earlier. An unconfirmed U.S. border Patrol report indicated that in February 1962, Ferrie piloted an airplane that returned Marcello to the United States following his ouster from the country by Federal agents in April 1961, as part of the Kennedy administration's crackdown on organized crime. Marcello denied to the committee in executive session that Ferrie flew him out of Latin America, saying that he flew commercial airlines. Records do not exist that can confirm or refute this contention. (202)

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gio Arcacha Smith. (207) He was replaced by Luis Rabel who, in turn, was succeeded by Frank Bartes.(208) The committee interviewed or deposed all three CRC New Orleans delegates. (209) Arcacha said he never encountered Oswald and that he left New Orleans when he was relieved of his CRC position in early 1962. (210) Rabel said he held the post from January to October 1962, but that he likewise never knew or saw Oswald and that the only time he went to the Newman Building was to remove some office materials that Arcacha had left there. (211) Bartes said the only time he was in contact with Oswald was in their courtroom confrontation, that he ran the CRC chapter from an office in his home and that he never visited an office at either 544 Camp Street or 531 Lafayette Street. (212)

The committee, on the other hand, developed information that, in 1961, Banister, Ferrie, and Arcacha were working together in the anti-Castro cause. Banister, a fervent anti-Communist, was helping to establish Friends of Democratic Cuba as an adjunct to the New Orleans CRC chapter run by Arcacha in an office in the Newman Building. (213) Banister was also conducting background investigations of CRC members for Arcacha.(214) Ferrie, also strongly anti-Communist and anti-Castro, was associated with Arcacha (and probably Banister) in anti-Castro activism. (215)

On November 22, 1963, Ferrie had been in a Federal courtroom in New Orleans in connection with legal proceedings against Carlos Marcello.27(216) That night he drove, with two young friends, to Houston, Tex. then to Galveston on Saturday, November 23, and back to New Orleans on Sunday. (218) Before reaching New Orleans, he learned from a telephone conversation with G. Wray Gill that Martin had implicated him in the, assassination.(219) Gill also told Ferrie about the rumors that he and Oswald had served together in the CAP and that Oswald supposedly had Ferrie's library card in his possession when he was arrested in Dallas.(220) When he got to his residence, Ferrie did not go in, but sent in his place one of his companions on the trip, Alvin Beauboeuf.(221) Beauboeuf and Ferrie's roommate, Layton Martens, were detained by officers from the district attorney's office. (222) Ferrie drove to Hammond, La, and spent the night with a friend. (223)

On Monday, November 25, Ferrie turned himself in to the district attorney's office where he was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the assassination. (224) In subsequent interviews with New Orleans authorities, the FBI and the Secret Service, Ferrie denied ever having known Oswald or having ever been involved in the assassination. (225) He stated that in the days preceding, November 22, he had been working intensively for Gill on the Marcello case. (226) Ferrie said he was in New Orleans on the morning of November 22, at which time Marcello was acquitted in Federal court of citizenship falsification. (227) He stated that he took the weekend trip to Texas for relaxation.(228) Ferrie acknowledged knowing Jack Martin, stating that Martin resented him for forcibly removing him from Gill's office earlier that year. (229)

27With Ferrie's employer G. Wray Gill as his counsel, Marcello was successfully resisting any attempt by the Government to have him legally deported or convicted of a crime. (217)

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The FBI and Secret Service investigation into the possibility that Ferrie and Oswald head been associated ended a few days later.(230) A Secret Service report concluded that the information provided by Jack Martin that Ferrie had been associated with Oswald and had trained him to fire, a rifle was "without foundation." (231) The Secret Service report went on to state that on November 26, 1963, the FBI had informed the Secret Service that Martin had admitted that his information was a "figment of his imagination." 28(232) The investigation of Ferrie was subsequently closed for lack of evidence against him.(234)

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(5) A committee analysis of Oswald in New Orleans.---The Warren Commission had attempted to reconstruct a daily chronology of Oswald's activities in New Orleans during the summer of 1963, and the committee used it, as well as information arising from critics and the Garrison investigation, to select events and contacts that merited closer analysis. Among these were Oswald's confrontation with Carlos Bringuier and with Frank Bartes, his reported activities in Clinton, La., and his ties, if any, to Guy Banister, David Ferrie, Sergio Arcacha Smith and others who frequented the office building at 544 Camp Street. The committee deposed Carlos Bringuier and interviewed or deposed several of his associates. (235) It concluded that there had been no relationship between Oswald and Bringuier and the DRE with the exception of the confrontation over Oswald's distribution of pro-Castro literature. The committee was not able to determine why Oswald approached the anti-Castro Cubans, but it tended to concur with Bringuier and others in their belief that Oswald was seeking to infiltrate their ranks and obtain information about their activities.

As noted, the committee believed the Clinton witnesses to be telling the truth as they knew it. It was, therefore, inclined to believe that Oswald was in Clinton, La., in late August, early September 1963, and that he was in the company of David Ferrie, if not Clay Shaw. The committee was puzzled by Oswald's apparent association with Ferrie, a person whose anti-Castro sentiments were so distant from those of Oswald, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee campaigner. But the relationship with Ferrie may have been significant for more than its anti-Castro aspect, in light of Ferrie's connection with G. Wray Gill and Carlos Marcello.

The committee also found that there was at least possibility that Oswald and Guy Banister were acquainted. The following facts were considered:
The 544 Camp Street address stamped on Oswald's FPCC handouts was that of the building where Banister had his office;
Ross Banister told the committee that his brother had seen Oswald handing out FPCC literature during the summer of 1963; (236) and
Banister's secretary, Delphine Roberts, told the committee she saw Oswald in Banister's office on several occasions, the first being
28It appeared to the committee that the FBI overstated Martin's recantation in its information to the Secret Service. Martin had cautioned the FBI that he had no evidence to support his suspicions but that he believed they merited investigation. (233)

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when he was interviewed for a job during the summer of 1963.29(237)
The committee learned that Banister left extensive files when he died in 1964.(238) Later that year, they were purchased by the Louisiana State Police from Banister's widow.(239) According to Joseph Cambre of the State police, Oswald's name was not the subject of any file, but it was included in a file for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.(240) Cambre said the FPCC file contained newspaper clippings and a transcript, of a radio program on which Oswald had appeared. (241) The committee was not able to review Banister's files, since they had been destroyed pursuant to an order of the superintendent of Louisiana State Police that all files not part of the public record or pertinent to ongoing criminal investigations be burned. (242)

Additional evidence that Oswald may have been associated or acquainted with Ferrie and Banister was provided by the testimony of Adrian Alba, proprietor of the Crescent City Garage which was next door to the Reily Coffee Co. where Oswald had worked for a couple of months in 1963. (The garage and the coffee company were both located less than a block from 544 Camp Street.) Although Alba's testimony on some points was questionable, he undoubtedly did know Oswald who frequently visited his garage, and the committee found no reason to question his statement that he had often seen Oswald in Mancuso's Restaurant on the first floor of 544 Camp. (243) Ferrie and Banister also were frequent customers at Mancuso's. (244)

Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]

Casual Danger Dialog

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hhgreeksmelos_6937.jpg

"Hey, their arrows are blotting out the sun."
"Good; we can talk in the shade."

Ronin:Yo, Cage, do they always talk this much during a fight?
Luke Cage:Uh, yes, actually.
Iron Fist:Yeah, I didn't know there was banter involved. I don't do banter.
Luke Cage:You're doingbanter now, Fist.
Iron Fist:No, I'm not.
Luke Cage:I didn't say it was goodbanter.

New Avengers

A common trend for characters in works of fiction is to shrug off danger or laugh at it. In totally serious drama, characters might be crying in fear or "shell-shocked" from life-threatening situations, but in any other genre, characters react to danger in any number of more calm ways:

  • Crack a joke or make a sarcastic comment about the danger.
  • Crack a joke to get people's attention. (e.g. someone hanging from a cliff says "Hey guys? Over here!")
  • Argue or speak casually while the danger is going on, usually about something tangential. Bonus points if the argument briefly stops for one of the heroes to shout "look out!" and then resumes shortly afterward. Points also awarded if a character in danger suddenly focuses on a complete non-sequitur to the action ("Your hair looks fantastic!").
  • Act as if the danger is real in their dialog, but speak calmly about it. See also This Is Gonna Suck and Danger Deadpan.

Depending on how it's handled, the first three occur most often in comedic shows, while the last one is most common in shows that don't lean too far towards humor, or want to be more realistic. The first three also happen fairly often in more serious works, but often with an edge of sarcasm or bitterness, implying that the hero isn't feeling particularly mirthful about the situation.

There's some truth to this. People in real life professions such as police or military become so used to life-threatening situations occurring every week, or even multiple times a day, that they end up engaging in Casual Danger Dialog all the time. For example, Evan Wright's nonfiction book Generation Kill has accounts of United States Marines under heavy machine gun and mortar fire and in the middle of pitched gun battles remaining calm under pressure. Even ordinary people can end up this way, as it's well-known that many people use humor or sarcasm as a way of coping with stress or fear; see Gallows Humor, Stiff Upper Lip, and Street Smart.

Usually done for comedic effect in comedies, naturally. May involve some amount of Acoustic License. Compare Talking Is a Free Action. See also Distracting Disambiguation. Contrast Say My Name and Big "NO!", which involves meaningless exclamations that can seem as unrealistic as a quip. Truly Failure Is the Only Option when dealing with dramatic dialogue. The other intended effect is to communicate just how used to these situations the heroes are. When things are so bad that they don't do it, see Sarcasm Failure. If the person receives a phone call during a tense situation, and picks it up to complain about the timing of the call, see Kinda Busy Here. See Seinfeldian Conversation and "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate for meandering/meaningless arguments to be had in situations such as this.

A subtrope of Bathos. Sister trope to Flirting Under Fire and Snark-to-Snark Combat. Compare Opponent Instruction.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 

  • One GEICO ad has golf commentators calmly discussing a game, keeping this up even as a Kraken emerges from the water hazard and wreaks havoc.

    Commentator 1: Looks like we have some sort of sea monster in the water hazard here.
    Commentator 2: I believe that's a kraken, Bruce.
    Commentator 1: It looks like he's gonna go with the Nine Iron. That may not be enough club.
    Commentator 2: Well he's definitely going to lose a stroke on this hole.

    Anime & Manga 

  • This is a pretty common occurrence throughout the English dub of Digimon. Sure the Digidestined may be facing a monster that holds the fate of the two worlds in its hands, but that won't stop them from making small talk and cracking jokes during the battle. All of them are 12 or under so it's likely a combination of stress relief and trying to distract each other from the situation. Team DadJyou tends to engage in this the least which fits his more serious nature.
  • Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop shows this kind of behavior every time he is in a dangerous situation, probably because he already thinks he's living on borrowed time, and anyone he meets could be coming to collect. One notable exception is during his fight with Tongpu. That guy must've been too freaky, even for Spike.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion. During the JSSDF assault on NERV's headquarters, Misato is cracking jokes, but then again, she's singlehandedly demolishing the entire JSSDF squad that's hunting down Shinji.
  • Boss Chang from Black Lagoon engages in this during the Hansel & Gretel arc. Chang and a group of his Mooks are outside Verrochio's place and he casually mentions, "You may want to duck". Seconds later one of Verrochio's goons goes flying through the air and the Mook ducks and barely manages to avoid being hit by the body.
    • He also does this during the "Goat Jihad and Rock and Roll" arc, engaging in banter with Revy and generally being ultra cool as the two of them blast up terrorists to lead the others out.
  • The title character in Inuyasha does this regularly. One of the earlier examples has him calmly walking towards his gigantic wolf-like older brother muttering "yeah yeah, 'roar roar' to you too."
  • Knuckles and Rouge play this out in an episode of Sonic X. The building they are in is collapsing around them, bombs they set up are about to explode, and all they can do is argue with each other.
  • In K: Missing Kings, Kuroh and Misaki have such an easy time beating the mooks from Jungle that they can just stop for Kuroh to play one of his late master's haiku and ask Misaki what he thinks, complete with sparkle.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The first episode of Dragon Ball has a memorable example when Bulma is abducted by a pterodactyl while taking a bathroom break. After Goku defeats the pterodactyl and she ends up with her shirt caught on a tree branch on a cliff, she shouts "I'm having a crisis over here!" with an annoyed voice. If you look closely, her "crisis" isn't the near-death situation. She never got to go to the bathroom, and is now peeing down the cliff.
    • Dragon Ball Z has a tradition for Goku to turn up at the last second, see all his friends beaten to death or near-death by the latest super-powered villain, and completely ignore the villain in favour of ensuring his friends' safety and having a chat with them. Examples include when he finally turns up to face Nappa, and finally recovers enough to face Frieza. He also tends to chat with the villain, like him having casual conversations with Frieza about fighting styles before things became really serious. In Super, he wishes Bulma a happy birthday and apologizes for not bring a gift when Beerus is ready to blow up the planet.
  • Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran. Overlaps with Excuse Me While I Multitask; the title samurai throws thugs around while hitting up her partner for lodging cash. Her partner has been imprisoned in a dungeon and she's breaking in.
  • The manga Assassination Classroom starts off with Koro-sensei casually dodging a heavy barrage of gunfire from his students while he calls out each of their names to take attendance. When one student fails to answer back, Koro-sensei politely asks him to speak up over the sound of the gunfire before resuming the roll call.
  • In Classi9, Tchaikovsky casually comments on a furious Wagner’s "boring" behavior after kicking him down so Beethoven could douse him in alcohol. He also gave advice to Brahms on how to insult someone while Wagner was grabbing him by the collar and shaking him because he had insulted him.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins: In the Great Battle Festival arc, Meliodas and Ban spend the entirety of their first fight arguing over whether Elizabeth or Elaine is better... While defeating the bird demons relentlessly attacking them without even realizing it.
  • In episode 6 of Excel Saga, an avalanche is careening towards the city security team. Sumiyoshi's reaction? "Yup."

    Comic Books 

  • Some form of this will happen if two heroes end up in the same room together.
  • Spider-Man loves doing this. Depending on the Writer, this is either a coping mechanism for fear (if he's cracking jokes, he's too distracted to be afraid) or boredom (he fights by instinct and thinks so quickly, battles might as well be in slow-motion, giving his upper thought processes spare energy to devote to a running commentary). Spidey, and thus the fans, refer to this type of dialogue as "quipping".
    • His quipping has also been called a mode of managing his enemies: if he keeps them annoyed enough, they'll only target him, as opposed to nearby civilians, and if he keeps them angry enough, they get sloppy.
    • Spidey's tendency to chat mid-battle seems to be infectious: the New Avengers can hold entire conversations while surrounded by ninjas/demons/copycat villains.
  • The Adventures of Aero-Girl: At one point, Aero-Girl is forced to take a phone call from her mom in the middle of a battle with the Bearded Lady.
  • Deadpool, being a Cloudcuckoolander, has weaponized his to the point that his enemies have problems focusing on the task at hand. It's occasionally contagious: when working with the X-Men, he caused Beastto spout off some bad puns.
  • In Gotham City Garage, Dick Grayson and Kara Gordon argue as to what Dick's batons are called as being chased down by a killer giant robot. Kara lampshades it:

    Kara: You really think this is the time for a semantics debate?

  • Hilarious example happened in Secret Six. Deadshot and Jeanette were meeting with the client at the edge of a cliff. When the client appears, his personal female killer grabs Deadshot by the throat and holds him over the cliff. Meanwhile the client's personal assistant monologues about how the best way to control someone is the death threat, and to prove his point, asks Deadshot what he thinks, knowing that his slightest whim can mean his death. Deadshot responds that he wasn't listening because he was too busy having sexual fantasies.
  • Asterix: Asterix and Obelix do this many times when they singlehandedly and casually beat the crap out of Roman legions. It certainly helps the fact that they are powered by a magic potion which grants them superhuman strength.
  • In Uncanny X-Men, Madelyne Pryor once took time out from being tortured to have a chat to a friend. Okay, to a demon.
  • Batgirl: Stephanie Brown -alias Batgirl II- is an expert at this, often sharing wisecracks with her mission control while in the middle of a fight. When she and Supergirl are being strangled by Dracula in issue #14 of Batgirl (2009), Batgirl tries to apologize for how their night out has been sidetracked.

    Batgirl: I hope you won't hold this against me.
    Supergirl:That's What She Said.
    Batgirl: You're funny.
    Supergirl: I try.

    • Stephanie and her frequent boyfriend Tim Drake used to bounce puns off each other and have discussions while fighting criminals when they were still going by Spoiler and Robin. One of Tim's standout examples however came later in Red Robin when he responded to being cornered by a furious Ra's Al-Ghul realizing just how much damage Tim managed to do to his system with a laid back: How can I help you, Ra’s? Computer trouble?
  • The Young Avengersso much.

    Speed: Just so I know: Are we going to stand here and bicker all day or are we going to fight the bad guys?
    Stature: We usually manage to do both at the same time. We're that good.
    Speed: I'll try to keep up.

  • Boneyard does this a few times.

    Paris: Are you trying to scare me? Because, good job. Nice use of terror.

  • The Doom comic is filled with Casual Danger Monologues.
  • The first issue of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! sees the captain (a cartoon rabbit) falling from a great height, seemingly to his doom. He spends the entire plummet making punny observations about the situation, and ends by casually wondering if human beings would make stupid puns at a time like this. Pig Iron catches him, btw.
  • The Rat Queens do this on a nearly constant basis during their fights.
  • In PS238, several of The Revenant's scenes have him simultaneously conducting a phone conversation and fighting a villain.

    "Whoop. He's got a bomb. I'll call you tonight, all right?"

  • MAD movie parodies frequently have characters (including those on opposite sides) having long conversations during battles, chase scenes and other dangerous situations, often commenting on the absurdity of the story.
  • One issue of Runaways has the team continuing to play a game of truth-or-dare while battling a host of giant snake monsters.
  • When Captain Atomended up in the WildStorm universe, he ran into the Wild C.A.T.s. They considered him such a low-level threat that they paused to have an impromptu trivia contest to determine which one of them would be responsible for kicking his ass.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Diana and Steve Trevor have a rather relaxed conversation while staging a slave revolt on Saturn, destroying all the infrastructure that had been built for an invasion of earth and stealing a ship. Though even Steve thinks it's a bit ridiculous that Diana's first concern when they're on said ship is that her shoes are missing, and he can't quite stop laughing.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Kanto has a relaxed conversation (at least on his end) while Artemis tries to kill him. It just makes her more mad at him, but he seems to be sincere when he says he loves her since when he has her dead to rights he just knocks her out and places her somewhere where she'll be safe from his master Darkseid.
  • Ultimate X-Men: Cornelius can not understand the X-Men's need for it, and wonders if it is a response to a nervous breakdown.
  • Street Fighter: Ibuki casually tells Sarai that ninjas do not take prisoners and they just kill while they both alongside Elena, Makoto, and another ninja were trapped inside a net another ninja clan used to kill them. Though it is worth noting (even though Ibuki wasn't aware) they wanted to kidnap Ibuki and didn't care about the rest so they would have had no problem disposing of everyone else.
  • In Superman storyline Way Of The World, Supergirl is asking Wonder Woman advice on how to help a little boy as both heroines are stopping a gang of bank robbers (whom they are barely paying attention to).

    Fan Works 

  • There are several examples of this at LOTR spoofs.net, an excellent example being the bottom left image on this page.
  • Code: Pony Evolution: When Applejack falls to her certain death, she says, "That was mighty impolite of him to throw me down here like this."
  • In Imaginary Seas, Percy keeps up his typical quippy remarks in the face of danger, snarking all throughout his fight with Caenis about her Stripperiffic outfit. Chiron is no slouch either, saying that he's having a "slightly difficult day" while murdering scores of Olympus' soldiers with Pankration.
  • Ponyville Goes to the... Dragons??: Despite the fact that they're in a massive battle against the Canterlot Royal Guards at the time, Spike and Spyro end up pausing during it to discuss one another powers.
  • Enemy of My Enemy, a Halo 3 fanfic, has Shipmaster Vtan, alone with a jammed weapon, hearing the enemy charging at his position and absently remarking, "Disconcerting."
  • In Oh God Not Again!, this is often used by Harry (along with a great deal of sarcasm) every time he and Voldemort have a showdown.

    Voldemort: You have been taught how to duel, Harry Potter?
    Harry: I've been taught to drop my wand and summon snakes. Our dueling club was kind of substandard.

  • In Hogyoku ex Machina, Ichigo, his hollow and Yamamoto discuss whether or not it's possible to bind two zapakuto to a shinigami at once. All while Tensa Zangetsu and Muramasa try to kill each other about 20 feet away.
  • In chapter 19 of Ace Combat: The Equestrian War, this conversation between Firefly and Rainbow Dash as they escape from Fortress Intimidation:

    Firefly: You know... this is probably the most intense flight I’ve had in my life! Hahaha!
    Rainbow Dash: Yeah... but we gotta make it out of here, so we can live to tell others about it!
    Firefly: Let’s speed up! Now it’s only a straight way out! There’s a light in front of us!
    Rainbow Dash: I hope it’s not a passage to the other world! [laugh]

  • Examples from the Calvinverse:
    • From Attack of the Teacher Creature:

      Calvin: Okay, so it's not the hamster home university, but at least our monsters stay under the bed. They don't come out. Like that one, for instance.

    • From Calvin and Hobbes: The Series:

      Calvin: How many people are in this pyramid?
      MTM: Hmmm, let me see. Counting you, Hobbes, Socrates, Andy, that hamster and the five dead people following you down the hallway... ooooh... about ten.

    • Another example occurs in "Dr. BrainChill", wherein Dr. Brainstorm and Jack chat idly while a fight rages on around them.
    • The Recursive FanfictionThe Pez Dispenser and the Reign of Terror uses this when Socrates calmly exchanges banter with his Evil Knockoff right after it's given him five nasty cuts.
  • In part 1 of Hard Being Pure, Phobia is in the middle of a battle when Dr. Evans calls her.

    "Evans? Hey don't go yet. I'm free to talk right now. It has been so long since we last had a chat.” A few more gun shots were heard, along the ping of bullets against metal, followed by screams of agony. He heard her shout in the back, her hand pressed against her cell phone muffling the sounds, 'Do you mind?! I'm taking a call here!!' “Geez, no manners at all."

  • The Pony POV Series has a fight scene in the Dark World between the Elements of Harmony and Discord's Mooks that's so one-sided that Applejack and Rarity are able to have a philosophical debate while kicking flank.
  • Burning Black has Timmy attempting a Big Damn Heroes rescue of Tootie and holding back a massive inferno of explosions with a slowly failing shield. She shows up, having busted herself out, and proceeds to argue with him over how bad of a job he's done on it himself, then takes her time on figuring out what to do about the raging fires about to break through the shield while still trading snarks with Timmy.
  • Fly Free has Robin start off her first meeting with Zabuza by having some small talk after he tries to kill her. She starts off the second by offering him and Haku tea.
  • Naruto: Demon's Path. Naruto, Haku and Zabuza end up trapped in the mansion by a villain. This happens:

    [Zabuza looks on as the wall locks up on him]
    Villain: Hello Mister Momochi.
    Zabuza: Isn't it supposed to be Welcome to my parlour said the spider to the fly?
    Villain:[sincerely] You'd be surprised how old that one gets.
    [meanwhile as Naruto and Haku deal with a Zerg Rush of guards]
    Naruto: Ya know... Zabuza's gonna bitch about how you didn't kill the guys upstairs right?
    Haku: I suppose so.
    Naruto: I can hear the lecture now. You boys need to get serious or it will lead to your death and more importantly mine.
    Haku:[chuckles]

  • In one story of the Facing the Future Series, Danny and Sam have a pleasant conversation while in the middle of battles with Technus and Skulker.
  • In New Look Series: Joe's New Look, Silvia tells Joe how to use his new combat form as the latter's fighting against Big John and his troops. Lampshaded. "We're in the middle of a fight, you damn cross-dresser."
  • Twilight and Trixie spends the majority of Unlikely Allies arguing and bickering even as they infiltrate the Lord Umbra's lair. Including defeating the villain's entire army of Tartarus-summoned beasts while arguing over the relative merits of Starswirl the Bearded as a contributor to the field of magic. And eventually devolving into petty name-calling, while still fighting. They don't let up until Lord Umbra parades out his greatest beastie... at which point Trixie just remarks that he must be compensating for something.
  • in Four Deadly Secrets Ruby does this, when she and Miltia walk into the middle of a confrontation between India and Venus and a gang of fauns.
  • Saetwo's Story: During the chaos of the Final Battle, Uloobu and Tyscene still manage to find the time to flirt with each other and set up a date for afterwards. Xekrai has to shout at them to focus on the fight.
  • During her sword fight with the Rat King in How Trixie (Somehow) Saved Hearth's Warming, Trixie and her enemy at one point have a polite conversation about why the Rat King's castle has so many flower pots in the frozen north and their mutual love of theatrics, including the fact they're only screaming at this point because they're having a sword fight and it'd be less dramatic if they weren't. Justified, as Trixie's using the conversation to distract him from noticing her plan to defeat him.
  • Child of the Storm is rife with this. From small scale fights to the epic melee of the Final Battle, everyone finds the time to make small talk and pithy comments, especially the teenagers - though in the latter case it's pretty openly stated to be a coping mechanism, and one that Jean-Paul frequently complains about. By the sequel, other characters are openly and incredulously asking a) how they find the time, b) why they do it, c) if this is what they normally do.
    • In Harry and Carol's case, it usually includes a rich vein of Flirting Under Fire, which they then strenuously deny, claiming to be Just Friends. Absolutely no one, from friends and family to secondary characters, one-shot characters, and major villains, is fooled.
  • This Bites!:
    • Happens in Chapter 7, while navigating the Grand Line's weather for the first time, after Cross has finished expressing how much he loves feeling alive, Nami snaps for him to get to work:

      Usopp: What happened to you enjoying living your dream?!
      Cross:[quietly] Nami's not a part of that dream, she's a goddamn course hazard!
      Soundbite:Headstrong!NOT SUICIDAL!
      Nami:I HEARD THAT!

    • Happens again in Chapter 39, while fighting against the soldiers of Enies Lobby.
  • In Sugar Plums this happens during the first chunin exams arc where Ume runs into the center of an all out brawl that has broken out during the second exam, starts fighting alongside Suigetsu and Chojuro while commenting on the fact that Chojuro got a new sword.
  • In Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium, during the attack on Adamant Fortress, Hawke takes the time to dryly criticize the fist-shaped battering ram being swung at the fortress doors.

    "That is the tackiest piece of siege equipment I've ever seen."

  • In the Resident Evil fanfic The Progenitor Chronicles, the MC does this during the attack on Bear University. He admits he really should be scared out of his mind and surmises it’s a defense mechanism.

    Rebecca: “You’re quipping at a time like this.”

    The MC: “I feel like I quip at any and all times.”

  • With This Ring:
    • The Sivana family are mostly Mad Scientists, easily intelligent enough to build a new kind of Death Ray and banter at the same time.

      Thaddeus: He won't have done that, Magni.
      Magnificus: Thaddeus, I'm trying to work here.
      Thaddeus: Well, you're being too slow! I fight giant monsters all the time! And some of them I didn't even create!
      Beautia: Boys! We're trying to fight a gravity monster here! Focus!

      Mister Atom: BEAUTIA SIVANA. CHECKING LOGS.
      Magnificus: Wait, what?
      Paul: Magnificus?
      Magnificus: He's got super moderator access to the system! I don't have that!
      Thaddeus/Georgia: I do. / I do!
      Magnificus: Oh, that's… Splendid.

    • Paul himself doesn't mind chatting with sufficiently Wicked Cultured opponents. At one point, he's fighting a Scarab warrior armed with a power ring, and his entire polite dialogue is spliced with narrative of the two of them duking it out.

      "Have we met?"
      Her armour glows green as her left arm morphs into a blade with a green edge.
      "I ask-"
      She disappears. Jam transitions, toss interdictors out of subspace and into local space, empathic vision-
      "-because-"
      -and there, x-ionised sword and parry as she phases back in, construct railgun loaded with phasic rounds and fire.
      "-if you're just-"
      Her sword is turned aside but she tracks my gun construct and shapeshifts reinforced armour. My phasic rounds aren't great against Scarab armour and fail to penetrate, prompting me to change my gun into a multi-barrel affair.
      "-here to-"
      Her sword morphs into a battering ram with a glowing green diamond head as she rushes me.
      "-pick up-"
      I re-aim my gun as I dart aside, sword coming down on the side of her arm just ahead of the crumbler round.
      "-the ring-"
      Sword hits first and the reinforced armour takes it. Crumbler round hits a fraction of a second later, causing the armour to ripple as the reinforcement fails.
      "-then you-"
      I swing my sword at her face while my gun trains itself on her chest.
      "-could-"
      She twists, limboing under my swing and phasing out.
      "-just-"
      Which means that when the phasic round hits, she reappears a few metres away with a noticeable hole in her flank.
      "-have asked-"
      Two construct pneumatic rams appear on either side of me and surge towards me.
      "-nicely?"

  • Greenfire: When a knight is preparing to attack Greenfire, Greenfire's voiced concerns are only of the Knight ruining his picnic with Rarity.

    Films — Animation 

This one's more shell-shock than disregard for danger. At this point in the story, Kuzco has been booted in the nuts by fate so often that the waterfall genuinely isn't all that scary anymore. It'll certainly be an improvement over the days leading up to this moment.
  • In Disney's Robin Hood, during the big fight at the archery tournament, Robin proposes to Marian and they then proceed to discuss plans for their honeymoon and how many children they should have while fighting off Prince John's goons.
  • In The Lion King 1½, when a stampede heads towards Timon and Pumbaa in the canyon:

    Pumbaa: Shall we run for our lives?
    Timon: Oh, yes, let's.
    [Both start screaming and running]

  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 has this exchange during the first major battle between the dragon riders and Drago:

    Hiccup: Welcome aboard, Dragon Rider.
    Eret: Uh, thanks, I think.
    Astrid: Where have you been?
    Hiccup: Well, y'know, catching up with Mom. [Astrid sees Valka, standing atop Cloudjumper in full armor, the Bewilderbeast behind her]
    Astrid:[amazed] That's your mother?
    Hiccup: Well, now you know where I get my dramatic flair.

  • In The Book of Life, the Adelita twins have a petty little argument during the battle. Granted, they're skilled fighters with years of experience and already long dead, so what else are they scared of? Not being able to join the fun?
  • From Titan A.E.

    Tek: It's time, Cale. It's time to stop running.
    Korso:[spotting the Drej entering] Well, actually, I think it's time to start.

  • In A Goofy Movie, Max and Goofy have an intense emotional argument while they and their car go careening off a cliff and down into wild rapids.

    Max: You shoulda let me stay at home!
    Goofy: Why?! So you'd end up in prison?!
    Max:Prison?! What are you talking about?!
    Goofy: Your principal called me!
    Max: It's not what you think...!
    Goofy: You even lied to me!
    Max: I had to! You were ruining my life!

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In the movie adaptation of Angels & Demons, Robert Langdon has this to say upon finding himself locked in a hermetically sealed vault in the Vatican Library with no incoming oxygen because the power is being cycled throughout Vatican City:

    Robert Langdon: Oh, that's disappointing.

  • The Avengers (1998) relies too heavily on this trope, as virtually no one shows any amount of emotion at any point in the entire movie despite being in mortal danger.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:
    • While he's not technically the one in danger, Alfred remains perfectly calm and snarky whatever Bruce, a man who's like a son to him, is up against.

      Alfred: I count two dozen hostiles on the third floor. Why don't I drop you off on the second?

    • Later in the film, Batman leads Doomsday, a massive Kryptonian monster, into the abandoned Gotham Port, hoping to find his Kryptonite spear, the one weapon that will be able to kill it. After having the Batplane shot down and nearly being vapourised himself by Doomsday's Eye Beams:

      Superman: Did you find the spear?
      Batman: I've been a little busy.

  • In Black Hawk Down, McKnight seems very casual under fire, conducting conversations in a neutral tone while everyone is freaked out about it and bullets fly by. At one point, McKnight calls one of his sergeants to ask for his status. The sergeant, driving a vehicle through heavy enemy fire, curtly replies that he doesn't want to talk about it right now.
  • Blazing Saddles has this dialogue exchange: "Am I wrong, or is the world... rising?" "I dunno, but whatever it is, I hate it."
  • Jake and Elwood engage in these during both epicpolicechases in The Blues Brothers. Not once do they acknowledge the police or the ridiculousness of the situation, instead commenting on interesting items and sales while driving through a shopping mall., including lines like "Pier 1 Imports," "This place has got everything," and "The new Oldsmobiles are in early this year."
  • In The Bourne Identity, the always understated title character is in the middle of a high speed chase, being pursued by the entire Parisian constabulary. Trying to keep calm for the benefit of his shell-shocked passenger, he remarks that "We're going to have... er... a little bump here." before driving a Mini Cooper down three flights of stairs.
  • Very common in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but averted in one famous scene: Butch gets annoyed when Sundance finally shows some emotion about being chased for days and cornered on a cliff overlooking a raging river.

    Butch: What's the matter with you?
    Sundance: I can't swim!
    Butch:[pause, then raucous laughter] Are you crazy?! The fall will probably kill you!

  • Similarly mocked in Carry On... Up the Khyber where Governor Sir Ruff-Diamond, his wife and special guests are having a sit-down meal while the natives are massacring the guards outside. This is because he said earlier:

    Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond: Do? We're not going to DO anything. We're British.

  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Imagine, if you will, the American president speaking over the telephone to the Soviet Premier in an extremely timid, friendly voice:

    President Merkin Muffley: Now then, Dmitri, you know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb... The Bomb, Dmitri... The hydrogen bomb! Well now, what happened is, ahm, one of our base commanders, he had a sort of... well, he went a little funny in the head, you know, just a little... funny. And, ah... he went and did a silly thing. Well, I'll tell you what he did: He ordered his planes... to attack your country... Ah, well, let me finish, Dmitri... Let me finish, Dmitri... Well listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it, Dmitri?... Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?... Of course I like to speak to you! Of course I like to say hello! Not now, but any time, Dmitri. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened. It's a friendly call. Of course it's a friendly call... Listen, if it wasn't friendly, you probably wouldn't have even got it.

  • In Foreign Correspondent, three characters chasing after a gun-wielding assassin discuss, among other things, the weather and the spelling of the driver's name. "How do you pronounce it, like a stutter?" "No, just a straight 'fuh'."
  • Parodied (of course) in Galaxy Quest with Fred giving the rest of our heroes bad news in a completely bored-sounding voice while stuff is exploding behind him:

    Fred: Hi, guys. Listen, they're... they're telling me that the... the generators can't take it, and the ship is... flying apart and all that. Just FYI.

  • Downplayed in Get Smart (2008). While chasing a bad guy, Max drives the pursuit vehicle through various hazards. When the car finally stops, a swordfish from a sign they crashed through has narrowly missed impaling the Chief. Throughout the chase, Max is discussing the broader situation and essentially oblivious to the car's surroundings, while the Chief is noticeably anxious about the various near-misses, especially the swordfish.

    Max:Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
    Chief: I don't know, are you thinking "Holy shit, holy shit, a swordfish almost went through my head!"? If so, then yes.

  • Ghostbusters:
  • Mikey Walsh engages in this in The Goonies, while Andy is trying to hit the right notes on the skeletal organ (where one more wrong note will send them plunging to their deaths):

    Andy: I can't tell if it's an "A sharp," or a "B flat." (which is amusing, since both refer to the same pitch, and hence, the same key on the piano)
    Mikey: Heh. If you hit the wrong note, we'll all be flat.

  • When Indiana Jones and his father are trapped in a burning room in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, daddy has such helpful observations as "The floor is on fire" and "Our situation has not improved."
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:
    • Indy pauses in the middle of a chase scene to give study advice to a student who has the chutzpah to ask for it when his teacher's just crashed through the library on a motorbike.
    • Later on in the movie, as Indy and Marion are sinking into a dry sand pit, he attempts to educate Mutt on the difference between quicksand and dry sand... while he is sinking deeper by the second.
  • James Bond is a perfect example of this trope, particularly when it's someone else's danger.
  • Taken to something of an extreme in the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans. As Major Heyward is dragged away to be burned alive in place of Cora Munro, he responds to Hawkeye's protests with a hurried, but nonetheless perfectly polite: "My compliments, sir. Take her and get out."
  • The Lethal Weapon movies are known for this, as Riggs and Murtagh are always arguing with each other over something during their various action sequences.
  • In Lord of War Yuri is held at gunpoint by Interpol, and calmly asks one of the agents if he would like a silencer for his new MP5.
  • In The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm, Sarah Harding and Nick van Owen are stuck inside a two-section bus that has partly been pushed of a huge cliff (they're in the hanging part, of course), the bus is slipping, the glass window on the low end of the bus already broke, and oh yeah, the tyrannosaurus that pushed the bus to its current position is still around, with his partner, and the one remaining party member that could help them is apparently too nervous to know what to do, as this exchange proves:

    Eddie: What do you need?!
    Ian: A rope! Get us a rope!!
    Eddie: Rope! Anything else?!
    Ian: Yeah. Three double-cheeseburgers with everything.
    Nick: No onions on mine...
    Sarah: And an apple turnover!

  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In the Iron Man movies, Tony Stark is incapable of not saying sarcastically inappropriate things in the middle of life-threatening situations.

      Tony:You walked right into this one; I've dated hotter chicks than you.
      Brandt: That all you got? A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner?
      Tony: Honey, that could be the title of my autobiography.

    • The final conversation over the radio between Steve and Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger. They were making plans to go dancing, even when they both know Steve isn't going to make it. (Of course, this was a given both in the film's setup and the history of the character.)

      Steve: It'll have to be a slow dance, I don't want to step on your--

    • The Avengers has a lot of this as well. It's justified in a way, due to the fact that, though they had greater numbers, the Chitauri weren't exactly impressive fighters. Though the casual banter does go down significantly as the battle goes on.

      Tony: I'm bringing the party to you. [comes into view around a corner pursued closely by a giant armored space whale]
      Natasha: I... don't see how that's a 'party'.

    • Happens at least once between Thor and Lady Sif in Thor: The Dark World, with her commenting that everything was under control and him asking with a grin if that was the reason everything was on fire. Plus:

      Sif: All yours.

    • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Widow spends most of the film trying to get Captain America a date. She doesn't let up during fight scenes.

      Natasha:[after tossing a man off a roof] How about that secretary who works on the first floor?
      Steve: The one with the lip piercing?
      Natasha: Yeah.
      Steve: Yeah... I'm not ready for that.

    • Avengers: Age of Ultron:
      • During the final battle, Hawkeye is driving a car through a warzone with Black Widow in the passenger seat, discussing his plans to knock down a wall in his house to turn the dining room into a workspace.

        Black Widow: You do usually eat in the kitchen.
        Hawkeye: Whoever eats in a dining room?

      • Additionally, The Vision beans Ultron with Mjolnir then compliments Thor on the impressive weight balance of the weapon, to which Thor gives a few pointers on how to get the most out of the swing (though Thor's response seems to be more of an attempt to cover for his obvious surprise that Vision is capable of wielding Mjolnir at all).
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:
      • Rocket Raccoon's only reaction to seeing the giant, monstrous Abilisk land in front of them and start screaming is "well, that's intense."
      • While the team is fighting a Starfish Alien, Groot just stands around cutely waving hello to Gamora.

        Groot:[waving]
        Gamora: ...Hi.

      • Peter and Rocket have an extended conversation about finding some tape to cover up the "Death Button" that'll set off Rocket's giant bomb as an entire armada of spaceships have an epic Space Battle behind them.

        Rocket: Does anybody have any tape out there? I wanna put some tape over the death button.
        Peter: Nobody has any tape!
        Rocket: Not a single person has tape!?
        Peter: You have an atomic bomb in your bag, if anyone's going to have tape it's you!
        Rocket: I have to do everything!
        Peter: You are wasting a lot of time!

    • Thor: Ragnarok opens with Thor making idle chit-chat with Surtr while tied up and suspended in front of him.
    • In Avengers: Infinity War, Stan Lee isn't fazed by aliens invading earth anymore.

      Stan Lee: What's the matter with you kids? You've never seen a spaceship before?

  • Mocked mercilessly in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. One section shows British army officers in Africa completely ignoring a raging battle in their own campin order to have their morning tea.
  • In Monty Python's Life of Brian there is a character played by Eric Idle who casually tells the man sending him off to be crucified that he's been set free and then laughs and cheerily admits he was yanking his chain when the man believes him, and walks off to get his cross. Later he asks the guards what the hold up is and japes, "How 'bout a reach-around? We've got time." Upon being put up on the cross he tells Brian, "See? Not so bad once you're up."
  • The Mummy Returns:
    • The bus chase has some. Namely, it starts off with this:

      Rick: Oh, I hate mummies.
      Ardeth: Glad to see me now?
      Rick: Just like old times.

    • And it ends with this...

      Rick: You all right?
      Ardeth: This was my first bus ride.

    • Watching a ritual take place:

      Rick: Ya know, a year ago this would have been weird to me.

    • Running away from Elite Mook mummies, Eve tries to close the door on them. Rick answers with this:

      Rick: Uh... Honey. These guys don't use doors.

  • In The Muppet Movie, Kermit The Frog is informed that Miss Piggy's been kidnapped. Doc Hopper orders Kermy to step outside the hotel ..."My boys will meet you there." Kermit obeys ... and is immediately surrounded by goons levelling their shotguns at him.

    Kermit The Frog: Oh, um... are you the guys I'm supposed to meet?

  • In Murder by Death, Dick and Dora Charleston have an extremely nonchalant—indeed emotionless—conversation about the deadly scorpion on their bed which will force them to remain perfectly still, quite possibly for the rest of their perhaps short lives. Later, when the killer asks Dick how they escaped, he replies in a perfectly calm and carefree, cordial tone: "We didn't: it stung Dora. The poison's in her system right now. We have fifteen minutes to get to a hospital."
  • At the climax of North By Northwest, Roger and Eve engage in witty banter while dangling by their fingertips from Mt. Rushmore.
  • The Hong Kong film Powerful Four actually managed to cram a lengthy dialogue between two of it's heroes, Inspector Yiu Hung and Inspector "Fatty" Ho Sum, in the middle of the final shootout, despite having scores and scores of enemies firing at them:

    Yiu Hung: "Fatty! Hang on, I’m coming! You alright?"

    Ho Sum: "… don’t worry, I’m fine! (pulls open his shirt to reveal a vest) Man, I got a great bargain for this vest, at half price too!"

    Yiu Hung: "Wait, you have a vest? And a machine gun? You bastard, why did you keep all the best stuff to yourself?"

    Ho Sum: "Well, I could’ve gotten you a vest, but I don’t know your size…"

    Yiu Hung: "Just get a random one will do!"…

  • The Princess Bride:
    • The dialogue between Inigo and the Man In Black as the latter is trying to Climb the Cliffs of Insanity alone, with his bare hands, probably counts.

      Inigo: Hello there! Slow going?
      Man in Black: Look, I don't mean to be rude but this is not as easy as it looks, so I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't distract me.
      Inigo: Sorry.
      Man in Black: Thank you.
      Inigo: I don't suppose you could speed things up?
      Man in Black: If you're in such a hurry, you could lower a rope or a tree branch or find something useful to do.
      Inigo: I could do that. I have some rope up here, but I do not think you would accept my help, since I am only waiting around to kill you.
      Man in Black: That does put a damper on our relationship.

    • Then they spend their entire duel complimenting each other's skill in swordsmanship and discussing fencing techniques.
  • In the 2005 remake of The Producers, when Franz is pointing a gun at Max and Leo, Max quips to Leo "Remember when I said I'd tell you when we were in too deep? We're in too deep."
  • The Professionals from start to finish. A crowning example is the scene where Fardan rescues Dolworth from some Mexican bandits:

    Fardan: I wouldn't do that! My friend would die of a terrible headache, and so would you. [aims gun at head bandit]
    Bandit: And so would you. [the bandits close on Fardan with machetes drawn]—
    Fardan: So wouldn't it be more sensible if we both kept our heads?
    Bandit: Put down your gun.
    Fardan: If I did that, how do I know you would still be friendly.
    Bandit: Do I gotta kill you to prove I like you?

  • Happens with Danny and Ray throughout Running Scared (1986), even when the Big Bad is about to crush their car with a trash compactor:

    Danny: Oh sure, nag at me! Nagging's good! You still owe me ten bucks, and I never said anything!
    Ray: You want it now?!?
    Danny: YEAH, I WANT IT NOW!

  • In the intro of Sherlock Holmes (2009), one of Lord Blackwood's men attempts to sneak up on Holmes, only to be ambushed and put into a choke-hold by Watson. As Sherlock grabs and holds the man's nose to keep him from breathing further, Holmes and Watson have a rather pleasant conversation.

    Watson: I like the hat.
    Holmes: I just picked it up.
    Watson: Did you remember your revolver?
    Holmes: Ah. Knew I forgot something. Thought I'd left the stove on.
    Watson: You did.
    [man passes out]

  • In Speed Zone, Vic attempts to complete his assignment of killing Alec in the hotel's bathroom. While Vic is strangling Alec, a friend of his walks in and has a casual conversation with him.

    Alec: Clyde! It's me, Alec!
    Clyde: Alec?
    Alec: How've you been?
    Clyde: Oh, fine. It's just this bloody race thing is driving me around the bend. First it's on, then it's off, then it's on again.
    Alec: Really?
    Clyde: Care to introduce me to your friend?

  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Spider-Man 2 gives us the immortal "Hi... This is really heavy..."
    • It also gave us the train conductor sarcastically asking "Got any more bright ideas?" When Spidey's first attempt to stop the runaway train fails. Because imminent death is no reason to stop being a smartass.
    • You know Peter and Harry have finally put their past animosity behind them when they engage in some of this in Spider-Man 3.
  • Star Trek (2009): When George Kirk is making his Heroic Sacrifice to stop the Narada while his wife is giving birth on a medical shuttle. As the Kelvin is falling apart around Kirk, he and his wife decide to name their son Jim—and then the Kelvin kamikazes the Narada.
  • Star Wars:
    • Whenever anybody gets into a fight, they're unusually calm about it. "I have a bad feeling about this", anyone?

      Han: How are we doing?
      Luke: Same as always.
      Han: That bad, eh?

    • By the time of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are almost absurdly casual in the face of death. Anakin's response to meeting General Grievous is "You're shorter than I expected." When Obi-Wan enters a camp full of battle droids and General Grievous later in the movie, he introduces himself with "Hello there!" This shows that they've been at war for a very long time.
    • And, of course, the Coming in Hot scene after the Invisible Hand breaks in half:

      Anakin: We lost something.
      Obi-Wan: Not to worry—we are still flying half a ship.

    • The Battle of Endor. Most characters' voices show some controlled degree of strain or alarm at various points, but Wedge is calm and professional from "Red Leader, standing by" to "I'm already on my way out." In Star Wars Legends, he's said to have ice in his veins - he never panics. Which is funny when one remembers his alarmed observation on the size of the Death Star in the original movie.
    • Red Leader never raises his voice during the assault on the first Death Star (except for his jubilant "It's away!" when he launches his torpedoes, and his defiant scream as his crippled fighter is about to plow into the surface). Even when he announces the fatal damage that kills him to Luke, he calmly reports he just lost his engine and orders him to make his attack run, as calmly as if he were ordering dinner at a drive-thru.
  • In Suicide Squad (2016), Griggs' reaction to being held at gunpoint by Deadshot, a Professional Killer who had previously promised to kill him the first chance he got.

    Griggs: Ames, If this man shoots me, I want you to kill him and I want you to go clear my browser history.

  • Often in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), but particularly on April and Vernon's part as they slide down a snowy mountain in a truck cab - their conversation does not match their dire situation.
  • True Lies. When Harry and his wife are tied up by the bad guys, she asks if they're going to die. Harry listlessly replies "Yep," then continues with "They're gonna shoot us in the head or they're gonna torture us to death or they're gonna leave us here when the bomb blows up..." Made better by his following it up with a Badass Boast said in the exact same tone. Note that the former was the set-up for the latter, establishing the fact that he was, in fact, unable to lie: "They've given me a truth serum." "Is it working?" "Ask me something you know I'd lie to." "Are we going to die?" "Yup!"
  • From Twister, Jo & Bill are in Jo's truck. Bill is driving, and they're bickering. At one point, in a completely nonchalant tone of voice, Jo asks,:

    Jo: Can I drive?
    Bill: No!
    Jo: Then will you?
    Bill:[noticing truck has drifted off the road and is about to run into a parked farming vehicle] Holy shit!

  • The Wind and the Lion has pretty much every character nonchalantly commenting on their circumstances, whether it be kidnapping, imminent bloodshed or the threat of world war. At one point the protagonist, Moroccan rebel Mulai el Raisuli, is warned not to risk his life in a hostage exchange. Raisuli responds "What does my life matter? I've nothing else to do!"
  • In the Wizards of Waverly Place movie, regardless of whether they're hovering over a doomy canyon of doom, or trying to thread narrow walkways with falling pillars, Justin and Alex still find time to snark incessantly at each other.
  • Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. After blasting their way into a high security facility and just before he blasts into a room of guards armed with machine guns he quips at his boss

    Wilson: Stuck in an elevator with five guys on a high protein diet. Dreams really do come true.
    Stryker: Just shut it. You're up next.
    Wilson: Thank you, sir. You look really nice today. It's the green, brings out the seriousness in your eyes.
    Logan: Oh, my God, do you ever shut up, pal?
    Wilson: No. Not when I'm awake.

    Literature 

  • Adventure Hunters: When a booby trap in a tomb activates, Artorius and Lisa take a moment to make a bet: rushing water or giant boulder?
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Alice had a famous monologue about the curiosity of falling down a bottomless rabbit hole to her possible death.
  • Amelia Peabody and her husband have some interesting conversations: What do you talk about while crawling through the unstable, half-crumbled passages of an un-excavated pyramid, hoping that your 7 year old son is right when he says he knows a way out? The similarities of construction with other 12th Dynasty pyramids, of course!
  • Animorphs:
    • The Animorphs do this fairly often, and are self-aware about it. When Ax and Tobias have to infiltrate a slaughterhouse as the steer, they have the following exchange while riding the Conveyor Belt o' Doom.

      Tobias: So. Seen anything good on TV lately?
      Ax: Are you attempting to distract us from our fear by engaging in irrelevant conversation?
      Tobias: Yeah.
      Ax: In that case, I did enjoy watching The Simpsons. I assume that they do not represent some variant species of humans but are, in fact, humorous pictorial exaggerations of humans?

    • And in The Reaction, after Rachel's house collapses due to her uncontrollable morphing and she's trapped in the rubble (keep in mind that she's confused and terrified);

      Jordan: Rachel? Is that you?
      Rachel:[sarcastic] Well, who else would it be?
      Sara: That's Rachel, all right.

  • The characters in the Charlie Parker Series do this constantly, with Parker and Angel in particular often doing it intentionally to irk their enemies.
  • Colt Regan and his partner Alex have discussions about things like Jell-O while in demon-infested bars.
  • Remo Williams and Chiun of the Destroyer book series (to some extent, the movie as well) may be the most extreme example. Their combat arguments regarding Ung poetry, Remo's alleged unconscious seduction of flight attendants, who left the toilet seat up (all right, not that one, but they have covered toilets in more general terms), and suchlike are used to show that a few hundred soldiers firing assault rifles at them are barely worth paying attention to, let alone commenting on. If the threat's a yawner like the average Bond-style Dragon trying to repeatedly shoot, stab, poison, or bomb them, the authors sometimes (when writing from the attacker's perspective) don't even bother writing explicit lines of dialogue for the two, just to emphasize the disconnect and the frustration that an experienced, professional killer feels trying repeatedly to kill people who apparently don't even notice that they're being attacked.
  • In The Diamond Age, Carl Hollywood and an old British military man keep up a line of casual wisecracks while fighting their way through a rioting city. Hollywood understands that it's to maintain their courage.
  • The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher rarely, if ever, show anything but CDD during tense situations. In the narration Harry makes sure to note how he's only doing it to cope and is really scared shitless on the inside.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Percy Weasley transforms his brainwashed superior using a Sea Urchin Jinx, and states that he is resigning. Fred then remarks that Percy finally told a joke. Unfortunately, Fred dies right after.

    "You are actually joking, Percy... I don't think I've heard you joke since you were—"
    The air exploded.

  • Heralds of Valdemar: In the Mage Winds trilogy, Elspeth comments humorously on Kero's penchant for dry understatement, describing an incident in which, caught up in a flood that washed away half a town, all she wrote was "It's a little wet here, be back when I can."
  • Horatio Hornblower: In The Happy Return / Beat to Quarters, Bush and another lieutenant on the Lydia engage in an academic debate about the tactics of the Natividad's gun officer and how closely he's directing the fire... on the Lydia. They're interrupted when a shot hits home, and then use the hit for their counterarguments. Hornblower is eventually annoyed (and envious) enough that he tells them to cut it out. Hornblower himself makes quips during battle over the course of the series, but in his case it's an Invoked Trope to keep morale up as he never feels casual while under fire.
  • Even Rudyard Kipling did this. In The Jungle Book, when the villagers are turning against Mowgli for his Raised by Wolves behaviour, it's the wolf Akela who first recognises how much trouble Mowgli is in.

    The old Tower musket went off with a bang, and a young buffalo bellowed in pain.
    "More sorcery!" shouted the villagers. "He can turn bullets. Buldeo, that was thy buffalo."
    "Now what is this?" said Mowgli, bewildered, as the stones flew thicker.
    "They are not unlike the Pack, these brothers of thine," said Akela, sitting down composedly. "It is in my head that, if bullets mean anything, they would cast thee out."

  • In The Mahabharata, while driving a chariot during (through) the Kurukshetra war, Krishna notices that the horses look tired and stops fighting so he can bathe them in a magically summoned lake. (His bro, Arjuna, helps out by providing cover fire.) His gentle reassurances of the horses while he grooms them are therefore this trope.
  • Half of Kennedy's dialog in The Man Who Fell Into The Black Inferno.

    Shay: Any ideas?
    Kennedy: Maybe we should remind him very firmly that we're the good guys here.
    Shay: Any ideas that won’t get us laughed at?

  • Rachel Griffin: In The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, the eponymous Rachel (a thirteen year old girl) does this when the invisible wraith which has been feeding on their classmate suddenly turns its attentions on her, keeping calm and describing its position so the others can avoid it or take it out.
  • In Reamde, a number of characters spend quite a lot of time making dry observations during the protracted final gunfight.
  • In the Redwall novel The Long Patrol, during the required massive battle scene at the end of the book, two hares carry out the third kind of this trope while outnumbered 5-1. The book specifically notes that they "talked like old pals and fought like demons."
  • What with his not being at all afraid of death, Jaime Lannister elevates this to an art form in A Song of Ice and Fire:

    Jaime: Come on, let's see who's home. [opens inn door and finds a crossbow in his face]
    Crossbowman:Lion, Wolf, or Fish?
    Jaime: We'd hoped for capon.

  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In the various books of the X-Wing Series, Rogue Squadron is notably quieter on missions than when they're off duty. The same goes for the Wraiths - but unless someone's hit, they'll still try to have some back-and-forth. Wedge is often heard telling his squadron, "Cut the chatter".
    • Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor has Luke commanding in a battle where everything goes to hell. He's incredibly calm about the whole thing, and soothes officers who aren't taking it as well. He also records an emergency signal to be broadcast on loop. The narration mentions that his voice is low and "preternaturally calm".

      Luke: This is New Republic Cruiser Justice, Luke Skywalker commanding. Admiral Kalback is dead. The ship has broken up, and there are no escape pods remaining. I have taken the helm and will attempt to set down behind the dawn terminator above the north tropic. Begin the search for survivors at the coordinates on the encoded supplementary frequency. Good luck, and may the Force be with you. Skywalker out."

    • The Thrawn Trilogy: Grand Admiral Thrawn will routinely discuss minor matters with Captain Pellaeon in the middle of major battles, as well as instructing his subordinates to remain calm during battle.
    • During Clone Wars Gambit, Heterosexual Life-Partners Obi-Wan and Anakin bicker incessantly while plunging to their deaths or fighting against droids. Ahsoka seems to have picked this up from them as well.
  • Beautifully averted in the Stephanie Plum novels. While the protagonist normally maintains a running Deadpan Snarker dialogue in her head throughout the books, and can keep it together pretty well as long as the threats stay strictly verbal, or if other people are in danger or have been hurt (such as the time a cop she knew got shot,) any time she's in real physical danger she's shown to lose any semblance of bravery or wit, complete with panicked screaming, crying in fear, and occasionally dripping snot in terror. And even if she does manage to keep it together at the time, she's usually a nervous wreck afterwards.
    • Played straight by Ranger, who has a famously cool head, except for that one time when his daughter was kidnapped.
  • The Stormlight Archive: In Words of Radiance, Sebariel in the final battle, as a highstorm and an everstorm are closing in, threatening to wipe out everyone on the battlefield.

    "Dalinar!" a voice called.
    He turned to find the utterly incongruous sight of Sebarial and his mistress sitting beneath a canopy, eating dried sellafruit off a plate held by an awkward-looking soldier.
    Sebarial raised a cup of wine toward Dalinar. "Hope you don't mind," Sebarial said. "We liberated your stores. They were blowing past at the time, headed for certain doom."
    Dalinar stared at them. Palona even had a novel out and was reading.

  • A fine example in Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers. At the siege of La Rochelle, d'Artagnan and his friends go and have breakfast in a bastion in the middle of the battleground just so they can talk without worrying about the Cardinal's spies overhearing them. They win a bet by holding the bastion for the length of the meal, too.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • When Alan Partridge of the eponymousBritish TV shows is held hostage and in a head-lock by a mad fan, Jed, who insists that Alan visit Jed's s brother-in-law next weekend:

    Jed: Bet you can't guess where he lives.
    Alan: Erm...
    Jed: Go on, have a guess.
    Alan: Er, Nottingham?
    Jed: No.
    Alan:[hoarsely] Oh. Er... Chester?
    Jed:[slightly releases his grip] Where?
    Alan: Ches-? Chester. Near north Wales off the M56.

Series:

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
  • Breakout Kings gives us a particularly weird example when some kidnappers make their terrified victim call home:

    Julianne:[terrified] It's Julianne, I've been kidnapped... [suddenly calmer, to her kidnappers] It's call waiting, click over.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the episode "Bad Girls", in the middle of fighting some vampires, Faith asks Buffy if she has ever slept with Xander.
    • Glory would engage in this while Buffy was punching her in the face.
    • Lampshaded in the season 7 episode "Bring on the Night", where Xander's making jokes while the Potentials are scared to death waiting for night to fall and the übervamp to come crashing in:

      Willow: Xander? Newbies. Let's ease them in to the whole jokes-in-the-face-of-death-thing.

  • Burn Notice has Gilroy, whose last words are:

    Gilroy: Sorry, did I mention I'm attached to an explosive device? Perhaps you should run.

  • Castle:
    • In "Cops and Robbers", when Castle and his mother are held hostage during a bank robbery, Castle comments, "Mother, I find I'm no longer satisfied with the customer service at this establishment. I think we should take our business elsewhere."
    • In "Still", Castle does this while Beckett was trapped on a pressure-plate activated bomb;

      Castle:[entering the room with two lattes] Whatcha doing? Napping? 'Cause I can come back later.
      Beckett: Castle, what are you doing here? You promised...
      Castle: Yeah, I promised I'd leave. Didn't promise I wouldn't come back. Oh, I brought coffee for later when you're off that thing.

  • Lampshaded on Chuck when Chuck criticizes Casey for doing this.

    Chuck: "Did someone order drive-thru?" That's clever. Did you think of that on the way over here? "I think I'll say this when I CRASH INTO THE BUILDING!!!"

  • Doctor Who:
    • There are definitely elements of this in the Doctor, justified given the Doctor's perilous and bizarre way of life. Topics include romantic issues, bananas, little hospital shops, dancing, and whatever random topic is on the Doctor's mind.
    • The Doctor does kinda get to play this both ways. Half of the time he's genuinely fearful when he's quipping and he's relying on his gob to at least misdirect the Monster of the Week for a few seconds, but other times he just knows the threat's beneath him and decides to have a laugh with it. Compare the way that he acts around the Daleks, who he fears more than anything else in the universe and yet happily taunts just to see how long they'll keep him alive, to the way he treats the Sycorax, who he flat-out ignores in order to quite nonchalantly reintroduce himself to a small group of Londoners.
    • The "maturity" of a companion can usually be gauged by their ability to engage in small talk in the face of danger. Of course, not all of the Doctor's companions appreciate this ability when they're in distress.

      Amy: Is this really important flirting? Because I feel I should be higher on the list.

    • The Doctor did plenty of this before the Time War as well. It's quite common in the series for him to mock his captors or have a quippy conversation with a companion while faced with death, especially if the villain has insulted him. To give just two of countless examples: when finally confronting Morbius in "The Brain of Morbius" and while under torture during "The Deadly Assassin".
    • And who could forget this example from "The Night of the Doctor"?

      Ohila: We restored you to life, but it's a temporary measure. You have a little under four minutes.
      Eighth Doctor:Four minutes? That's ages! What if I get bored and need a television, couple of books? Anyone for chess? Bring me knitting.

    • "The Husbands of River Song": River finally recognizes the Doctor when they're surrounded by dozens of armed and angry genocidal maniacs (not to mention a robot trying to steal the Doctor's head). They immediately go back to their normal flirty means of conversing.

      Evil Concierge: Excuse me, but what is this!?
      River: Hush now, mummy and daddy are talking.

  • Falling Skies, Hal reminisces about his old girlfriend "Rita" with Maggie while hiding in a car from patrolling Mechs.
  • Farscape, quite a few times. On one occasion John drops a bomb down a shaft after activating it, knowing it will probably kill them all:

    John: Yeah. It should go off in about... 60 microts.
    Chiana: And then it explodes?
    John: Yeah.
    Chiana: A big explosion?
    [John grunts noncommittally; the nuke hurtles, chittering furiously, down the newly created shaft; suddenly, John remembers the Democracy Thing]
    John: Oh. God — we should have voted. [louder, desultorily] All in favor — show of hands. [he raises his and the others stare at him; then Aeryn and Scorpius raise theirs — a little] All opposed. [Chiana and D'Argo cast their votes] 3 to 2 — Sikozu abstains.
    [later]
    Rygel: Crichton! What the hezmana just happened? Where are you, you fahrbot? Did you blow up the bomb? HOW COULD YOU BLOW UP THE BOMB?
    John: You missed the vote.

  • Firefly:
    • On numerous occasions. Most notably in the episode "War Stories", when Mal and Wash argue about shipboard romance while being horribly tortured. Earlier in the episode, when the two are ambushed and held at gunpoint, Wash's response is an annoyed, "Now I'm learning about scary."
    • It's subtly implied in a later conversation with Zoe that Mal was purposely invoking this trope when they were tortured by Niska as a way to keep Wash's mind off of the torture and thus keep him alive.
    • And the exchange as they're landing, "I'll likely crash, kill us all." "Well, if that happens, let me know."

      Wash: If Kaylee doesn't get more power to offset the burn-through, things are gonna get pretty interesting!
      Mal: Define 'interesting'.
      Wash:[deadpan] "Oh God, oh God, we're all going to die?"
      Mal:[over intercom] This is your captain speaking. We may experience some slight turbulence and then, uh, explode. [to Wash] Can you shave the vector?
      Wash: I'm doing it, it's not enough!
      Mal: Well, just get us on the ground.
      Wash: That part'll happen pretty definitely!
      [...]
      Jayne: Are we exploding? I don't wanna explode.
      Zoe: Hey Cap'n, we crashing again?
      Mal: Talk to your husband.

    • A few minutes later, after a tense argument between Mal and Simon regarding taking River on a mission, the ship shakes more than usual.

      Mal: Honestly, Doc, I think we may really crash this time anyway.

  • Generation Kill:
    • When Colbert spots hostiles camping no more than a dozen meters from their Humvees, his response is an incredibly calm "There's men in the trees." Beforehand, during the tense moment when the Humvees stop and create their traffic jam, Colbert is notably aware of how much of a perfect ambush place this is, and is calmly singing to himself while waiting for something to happen.
    • Person tries to get some coordination into Hitman's efforts to re-orient their Humvees and get out of what is, essentially, a traffic jam in a killzone. At one point, he walks out of his Humvee, approaches the next one over at a normal walking pace with bullets flying everywhere, asks the driver to "please back the fuck up," gets little in the way of a response, and calmly walks back, telling Colbert their progress getting out is "Not going well." He earlier complains about a panicked colleague babbling Portuguese in the same scene with the comment: "Fucking Baptisa, how would he like it if I joined the Brazilian Marines and only spoke English."
    • Nate Fick does this as well in the same scene, diving out of his vehicle and running to each of the others to give the drivers specific instructions. He's in as much, if not more danger than Person. One can actually hear Gunny Wynn in the background shout "Jesus Christ, Nate!"
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries was filled with this:

    Frank: After you.
    Joe: Me? You're the oldest.
    Frank: Yeah, but you're more agile than me, and stronger.
    Joe: Since when?
    Frank: Since right now.

  • Though not usually commenting on danger to himself, House is nevertheless absurdly calm when nearby patients show catastrophic symptoms. For example, in the 4th season episode "97 Seconds", House watches a clinic patient stab an electrical outlet to electrocute himself. Fitting his personality, he's more curious than concerned, first saying "Interesting." before doing anything else. After calling for a crash cart he pokes the man's lifeless body with his cane and says "I didn't do it."
  • Characters, especially Sawyer, do this all the time on Lost. For example, the following dialogue takes place while Juliet and Sawyer are hiding in the bushes from a group who just attacked them with flaming arrows:

    Sawyer: Who were those people? Are they yours? Did they shoot the arrows?
    Juliet: You want me to crawl out there and ask 'em?
    Sawyer: You don't have to be a wiseass.

  • Pick any episode of M*A*S*H in which there are firefights, shelling of the camp, shelling of an ambulance, shelling of a jeep, landmine navigation, snipers, massive amounts of casualties, insane people, or violent patients (in other words, close to three-quarters of all episodes). There will be massive quantities of this trope being produced during every minute of the episode, often in the form of Hawkeye insulting Frank or Charles and flirting with Margaret while Trapper or BJ makes wisecracks and Henry or Potter yell at them to shut up and pay attention, all while they operate on seriously injured patients and bombs fall all around the camp.
    • It's well established throughout the series Hawkeye, at least, delivers wisecracks to prevent himself from cracking up due to the madness of the war, and he also is trying to keep up everyone else's morale. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs, as eleven... three years of trauma (and uncovering childhood trauma) takes their toll and he ends up in an asylum making jokes that are far more bitter and alienate everyone.
  • This is taken to ridiculous levels note even for the time in Moonlighting, where Maddie Hayes and David Addison almost always argue, even when pursuing the criminal of the week.note It doesn't help that later seasons start doing Will They or Won't They? episodes...
  • The New Avengers: In "The Midas Touch", Gambit and Purdey have a casual conversation about who was the director of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre during a Car Chase.
  • In the season 2 finale of Nikita, Alex and Sean spend the whole episode trying to stop the bad guy from melting down a nuclear reactor in the US. Sean also spends the whole episode trying to get Alex to agree to go on a date with him:

    Sean: After this whole thing is over, this whole storming the castle, save humanity thing, I think you and me gotta go on a proper date.
    Alex: Are you kidding me?

  • Not the Nine O'Clock News has a sketch which is set in an episode of Question Time, after the Soviets have just launched the missiles. Most of the panel members continue sniping at each others' parties and using statements like "I think we're missing the real issue here, which is the government's appalling record on education reform..." while one Only Sane Man gibbers "We're all going to die!"
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In an early episode, the safety film in the long-distance lift is acted by a stereotypically smiley and bubbly air hostess type: "If you look to your left, and to your right, you will see there are no exits!" "In the event of the lift having to make a forced landing, death is certain."
    • Holly shortly before a comet hits the titular ship.

      Holly: Wait a minute. I've forgotten what I was gonna say.
      Rimmer: Well, it can't have been that important then, can it? [a meteor hits the ship]
      Holly:[in a cheerful tone] Yeah. That's it. "Look out, a meteor is about to hit the ship". I knew it'd come back to me.

    • In Quaratine, after Rimmer telekinesis'd an axe into Kryten

      Lister: Kryten man, you okay?
      Kryten:[deadpan] I have a medium-sized fire axe buried in my spinal cavity. [beat] That sort of thing can really put a crimp on your day.

  • In one episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, adopted son Luke informs Sarah Jane that he might be eligible to start university a year early. Sarah Jane suggests it might not be the ideal moment for the conversation, seeing as how they're currently handcuffed to a large alien bomb.
  • Scrapheap Challenge once had a fine example of British Understatement. "Could I have some water, please?" "Certainly, how much would you like?" "Enough to put out a small fire." "Where would you like it?" "On the fire, please." (The requester had set a seat on fire while welding in a car. Possibly scripted, but still funny.)
  • In the Smallville episode "Icarus", Oliver, Clark and Hawkman break into a government base separately and casually talk about Clark's love life while pilfering the bad guy's office.
  • Stargate SG-1: SG-1 do this a lot.
    • Notably, more than once Mitchell responded to a scary Ori's angry preaching with complaining that the Ori sound like his grandma. Sam also once responded to the threat of being run over with a spaceship with "Oh boy."
    • Lampshaded and inverted in "Bad Guys" when our heroes are pretending to be, well, the bad guys.

      [two women are arguing over a man]
      Daniel: What the hell are you doing?! Stop it!
      Hesellven: She started it.
      Sylvana: Oh. I think you started it when you kissed Harron.
      Daniel: Shut up. Shut up! You're hostages! This is like a, a life-and-death situation here. Start acting like it.
      Sylvana: Oh, please. You're not rebels. We're not deaf, you know, everyone in this room knows it.
      Daniel: That doesn't matter. You're hostages, we're... we're your captors. We're heavily armed. There's uh... there's rules, there's a whole school of etiquette to this. (pause) Don't eyeball me.

  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • In the episode "Space Seed," Khan wakes up and holds a scalpel to Doctor McCoy's neck, who had been treating him. McCoy calmly informs Khan of the most efficient way to kill him, and that if he doesn't intend to actually do it, he should put the blade down and let him finish his work. It was incredibly awesome.
    • In the episode "The Doomsday Machine", as Kirk watches as the titular weapon is getting closer within the rigged-to-explode U.S.S. Constellation, Kirk calmly tells his crew to hurry up with fixing the transporters before he ends up going up with the ship.
  • One combination Moment of Awesome/Moment of Funny occurred in the two-part Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 4 premiere "Way of the Warrior". It happens when Dukat and Garak (who hate each other) decide to cooperate to protect a Cardassian civilian council from an invasion of Klingons. It's Awesome because they do succeed in holding off the Klingons and Funny because Teeth-Clenched Teamwork means they're slinging barbs at each other while fighting the Klingons at the same time.

    Garak: I find this hand-to-hand combat really quite distasteful!
    Dukat: I suppose you prefer the simplicity of an interrogation chamber!
    Garak: You have to admit! It's much more civilized!

  • Super Dave would engage in this during the stunt segments of his variety show. One example is his safety lesson explaining what to do if you get rear-ended and his demonstration of using the rear view mirror. It should be noted that Fuji is driving a large truck with a push plate in this scene.

    Super Dave: Okay, I'm checking my rear view mirror. I see Fuji. I'd say he's about thirty yards back. I check again and now he's about ten yards back. I check again and now I can see my life is over.
    [Fuji drives into the back of Super Dave's car and crushes it against the wall]

  • This is how Supergirl meets up with her cousin Superman in the first episode of Supergirl season 2.

    Superman:[flying up to Supergirl as she's trying to slow the damaged Venture shuttle] Need a hand?
    Supergirl: Hey, cuz!
    Superman: It's good to see you.
    Supergirl: This... looks like a job for the both of us.
    Superman: Absolutely. [cue cousinly heroics]

  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron, being, well, Cameron, always speaks this way in combat situations. At one point, she's pinning another Terminator in place that's trying to crush her and kill everyone else, asks for a knife and then pliers to extract its chip in the same tone one would order coffee. Later on, after punching another rampaging Terminator through a wall and blowing it apart, she glances to Derek and remarks "Sometimes they go bad." as if she'd just stepped on an insect.
  • On Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson spends the entirety of a filmin which he is chased by baddies in a Corvette through a shopping center reviewing aspects of the Ford Fiesta he is driving and commenting on the shortcomings of the more powerful 'Vette.

    Clarkson: The baddie has made the classic baddie error... he's got too much power. I've got 120 hp in this. You don't want any more than that on marble.

  • Done often in The Wild Wild West, whose heroes are experienced Secret Service agents who react to every threat with Witty Banter.
  • In Wolf Hall, this is Cromwell's reaction when told that Henry VIII has died in a jousting mishap. His initial response is a calm "Oh." (This is followed by slipping a dagger up his sleeve as he departs for the scene.) When he gets there, he details the immediate future to Rafe: they have to get Princess Mary away from the Boleyns, or she'll die. But if the Catholics get her on the throne, he'll die. Either way they'll have a civil war. At best he sounds somewhat distracted as he pushes his way through the crowds around the unconscious king.
  • The X-Files:
    • Mulder has a tendency to do this. In the episode "The Pine Bluff Variant", while trying to infiltrate a domestic terrorist group, he is led to a darkened warehouse where one of the leaders attempts to see whether or not Mulder is a spy for the F.B.I. When the bag that was covering Mulder's head is removed and he sees where he is, he quips "Is this the Pepsi Challenge?" When the leader remarks that this is a method he uses to learn the truth, Mulder's response is "Well, you might want to put that hood back on, unless you want to see a grown man cry."
    • And then there's this classic, when Mulder and Scully are examining a weird viscous substance:

      Mulder:[puts his fingers in the substance to examine it]
      Scully: It almost smells like... [realize] Oh, God, Mulder, it's bile.
      Mulder: ...So, is there any way I can get this off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?

    Music 

  • Though it may be an artifact of the nature of the song, C.W.McCall's Wolf Creek Pass has this bit in a near deadpan:

    And I said Earl I'm not the type to complain, but the time has come for me to explain that if you don't apply some brake real soon they're gonna have to pick us up with a stick an' a spoon

    Toys 

    Video Games 

  • Non-scripted versions of this can happen in online gaming: while simultaneously fighting the enemy team in a first-person shooter, players with microphones may engage in friendly conversation or discuss upcoming media releases that have nothing to do with the game they are playing.
  • In Alan Wake, while Alan and Barry are holding off waves of Taken from a concert stage, Barry talks about things like the large amount of ammo around, the pyrotechnics, and how bad this 1970's-era wiring is. But this takes the cake:
    Barry:Al, this may be the most AWESOME MOMENT of our ENTIRE LIVES!
    Alan:They are trying to kill us! That'sthe high point of my life? Really?
    Barry:"Children of the Elder God"! Enjoy it, dammit!
  • Bayonetta series:
    • First Bayonetta: The Auditio are massive Angelic Abominations that each use one of the four elements and trying to kill Bayonetta. Verbally, she treats them like they're mild annoyances at worst. The clearest example is her casually talking to Temperantia while walking in to a tornado. Even as trucks fly around coming close to hitting her.
    • In Bayonetta 2's prologue, Bayonetta and Jeanne seem awfully preoccupied about their upcoming Christmas party. That would be casual enough, if not for the fact that they were at the same time fighting hordes of Angels hell-bent on killing them.
  • Deadly Premonition has Dialog During Gameplay that the player can engage in - in which York talks to his imaginary friend Zach - while driving around town, which is normally a safe activity. However, after midnight, zombies infest the town and giant zombie dogs are in the streets. The Dialog During Gameplay doesn't stop despite this, and the result is that you can drive around and talk to your imaginary friend, holding conversations about movies and previously worked-on cases, while seeming to be totally oblivious to the numerous zombies and demon dogs trying to kill you.
  • Dragon Age II Hawke and crew, particularly Sarcastic Hawke. One example has Sarcastic Hawke standing in front of a powerful pride demon they just released.

    Hawke:[deadpan] Summoned a horror. Of course. Whywouldn't I do that?

  • Dragon Quest:
    • In Dragon Quest VII, when they were testing out the new "Party Chat" system, you could "Talk" to your allies during battle. (Of course, if you chose to "Talk" once too often, your enemies got a free round of attacks. Rude of them, isn't it?)
    • In Dragon Quest VIII, when Marcello is dangling above a gaping crater and certain death, his only reaction is to try to talk Angelo out of saving him.
  • Variation in the two Fallout games, where people tend to have casual danger dialog while getting hurt: You could imagine that "You popped a goddamn lung" was in fact said in a very serious way, but there's no way anyone could go "Crap, my eye's dangling by the optic nerve here" without it being a perfect example of this trope.
  • In Fallout Shelter, if you set up two dwellers to guard the vault entrance during a raider attack, they may have the same casual dialogue that they have while working anywhere else in the Vault. Three raiders are breaking into your vault, and they're talking about what their favorite pizza toppings are with guns at the ready.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy X all of the characters have a chance at doing this, though it's mostly Auron and Lulu, while Tidus, Wakka and Rikku drift more into boasting. One of the best examples is most definitely Wakka and/or Rikku pondering how much food they could get out of a particular fiend when they step up to fight.
    • Balthier, from Final Fantasy XII, deserves an honorable mention, for his behavior in the first level of the DS sequel, if nothing else. If Balthier is killed, one of the quotes he may utter as he dies is a calm "Is that your best?"
    • Final Fantasy XIII: Whenever your characters buff or heal each other, they usually give some variation on a mild mannered "Thanks.", even if they're fighting Demonic Spiders. Or soaring through the air from a launch attack.
    • In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, in the final dungeon, Lightning comes across a slew of dead monster bodies, noting that "someone's beaten me here." A floor or two down, she finds Fang duking it out with a Chimera:

      Lightning: Heh, I should have guessed.
      Fang: You all right, Lightning? Almost missed the party.
      Lightning: What are you talking about? Looks like you don't need my help.
      Fang:Stop playing hard to get, and get your butt over here! I know you're dying to get in on this!

  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem Awakening has plenty of this depending on what you're fighting when certain characters use their battle quotes. You could be fighting hordes of Risen (zombies) or high ranking commanders of enemy armies, but that doesn't stop Henry from saying "Oooh, ugly!" or Nowi from asking "Do you like dragons?" before she blows stuff up with dragon breath.
    • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
      • Unlike other games, in which most support conversations take place at camp, the Support Conversations in Echoes are initiated on the map. While usually one can chalk this up to Gameplay and Story Segregation, a few conversations actually point out that they're in battle. Taken to an extreme in Lukas and Forsyth's DLC supports, where they talk about whatever book Forsyth happens to currently be reading on the battlefield.
      • This trope actually gets lampshaded hilariously late into the game, when Conrad angrily tells Boey and Saber to stop arguing when they need to fight off Terrors.

      Saber: Blast it all! This place is crawling with Terrors. So much for "begone to wherever you will," you damn useless priest!
      Boey: And what is that supposed to mean? You’re not actually thinking of leaving Celica in there and running away?!
      Saber: Did you hear me say anything about running away? Gimme some credit here, you little snot!
      Conrad: Stop flapping your jaws and focus on the fight! I'd prefer not to die here, if it’s all the same to you two fools!

  • Phone Guy in Five Nights at Freddy's does this in his phone recordings to the player. He's going through the same hell the player is — manning the doors, watching the security cameras, and trying to juggle both to conserve his power supply so he doesn't suffer a Cruel and Unusual Death — and the entire time he's casually chatting as if he's sitting in a break room. Even when he knows he's about to die, he's more or less calm when he tells the player that he might not be able to make another recording because "It's been a bad night here for me" which, despite sounding dire, is the understatement of the century. And Phone Guy still doesn't freak out despite the fact that in the background of the recording, you can hear the same tune that the player hears every time the power goes out and they're about to be brutally murdered — which means that Phone Guy was staring right at the thing that was about to kill him, knew what was about to happen, and was totally incapable of doing anything to stop it.
  • The Mantel Soldiers in Haze take this to an extreme, joking, rapping, and generally having fun in the middle of combat. This is intentional, intended to show how Nectar causes a disconnect from reality and humanity. The Promise Hand still uses the fourth type, though.
  • Henry Stickmin Series: Charles Calvin is among the royalty of this trope. He never loses his casual, friendly tone, even with a SAM turret pointed directly at him.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: You pretty much go through the entire game listening to the hilarious banter of all of the characters while you are in combat as Pit (and in one chapter, Dark Pit). Well, that is unless you deactivate the character commentary in the secret options, but considering the hilarity of the characters in this game, why would you wanna do that?
  • In Killer7, Benjamin Keane challenges resident badass Garcian to game of Russian Roulette. Benjamin attempts this trope with increasingly longer and intense rants between rounds. Meanwhile, Garcian just picks up the gun, puts it to his head, pulls the trigger, then passes it back each time. Benjamin probably thought he sounded cool, but his tone and hesitant straining on the trigger pulls suggests he scared and/or crazy. Of course, running a school with invisible, giggling, exploding zombies roaming the halls will probably do that to you.
  • Kingdom Hearts II has Cloud and Leon engage in a touch of this during the Battle of the Thousand Heartless.

    Leon: Think you can handle this many?
    Cloud: Well... might be tough if one more shows up.
    Leon: Then that'll have to be the one I take care of.
    Cloud: What, you're fighting too?
    [they charge; several Heartless die]

  • The Survivors of Left 4 Dead do this all the time, cracking jokes, bantering and insulting the Infected. They do get serious when they're heavily injured, though.
  • At the finale of the Pantagruel section in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel while the good guys and the bad guys are having a Mexican Standoff, the characters deduce that if they start fighting against one another, it would just end in a stalemate and Olivert thinks that's just no fun. Instead, he then suggests to throw a party instead which makes both the Ninja Maid and his rival to immediately jump onto that idea. Xeno, a Private Military Contractor, also jumps in by bringing in the booze while Duvalie and Altina can't take the casual atmosphere anymore and both want to take things seriously.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mordin Solus in Mass Effect 2 is a borderline example: He's a little too animated to consider him entirely casual, but consider this sample of his combat chatter:

      Mordin: Flammable! Or Inflammable. Forget which. Doesn't matter!

    • Most of Shepard and Liara's banter in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC. Shepard is obviously having fun during the frantic hover-car chase through the streets of Ilium, while Liara is naturally freaking out at sitting next to the galaxy's worst driver, while later both are surprisingly calm, considering that they are fighting their way across the surface of a really big spaceship, in the middle of a perpetual thunderstorm.
    • In the Overlord DLC opening mission, Shepard and his/her squad look up to see the giant satellite dish they just disabled starting to collapse on them. Shepard's reaction is a simple "You have got to be kidding me."
    • Shepard and Tali engage in some of this in Mass Effect 3 on the Geth Dreadnought if they are in a romance together, including some pretty suggestive flirting. If you bring Ashley, she has this to say:

      Ashley: Maybe we can talk about this when we're not on a damn geth dreadnought!

    • The Citadel DLC takes the cake for this, especially in the Archives, during which Shepard's entire team (and Wrex) all go on the assault together, and casually trash-talk and banter their way through the whole thing. Just another day, and Curb-Stomp Battle, at the office.

      Wrex: Uncle Urdnot is back in town, and he brought the BOOM! *explosions happen*
      Shepard: That some kind of catch phrase, Wrex?
      Wrex: Thought I'd try it out, see what you thought.
      Tali: Try again!

    • Shepard's reaction to being sealed in the Archives for the rest of time by their clone, is to be more concerned about whether or not they really sound like that or say "I should go" that often. Subverted when Shepard points out to their worried companions that they were never in any danger at all, since Glyph was still outside to unlock the door.
  • In Max Payne the titular protagonist deadpans his way through most of his gunfights.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Meryl and Johnny Sasaki in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, where they casually discuss their wedding plans while trying to hold off waves of FROG soldiers.
    • Snake and Venus in Metal Gear Acid 2. While the game's villain monologues about his motives, the two of them calmly chat about how to destroy the Metal Gear he's piloting and ask him to shut up when they get bored.
  • In Papers, Please, at one point a terrorist drops a bomb on your desk. Calensk the border guard comes by to assess the issue...and complains about how poorly-made the bomb is and how easy it is to defuse ("What is this amateur shit?"). Once you're done with the bomb and suggest closing the checkpoint, Calensk refuses because he needs to make money, and takes the bomb so he can sell it for parts.
  • In Portal 2, the main protagonist falls down a seemingly bottomless shaft, with GLaDOS falling down with her after having her AI transferred to a potato battery by the now-mad-with-power Wheatley, and commenting on the situation.

    GLaDOS:Oh, hi. So, how are you holding up? Because I'm a potato.[slow clapping]Oh, good. My slow clap processor made it into this thing. So we have that. Since it doesn't look like we're going anywhere—well, we are going somewhere; alarmingly fast, actually—but since we're not busy other than that, here's a couple of facts: [Wheatley]'s not just a regular moron. He's the product of the greatest minds of a generation working together with the express purpose of building the dumbest moron who ever lived. And you just put him in charge of the entire facility.[slow clapping]Good, that's still working. Hey, just in case this pit isn't actually bottomless, do you think maybe you could unstrap one of those long fall boots of yours and shove me into it? Just remember to land on one foot...

  • The Dude in Postal 2 remains remarkably calm while being shot, with many cheerfully making remarks.

    "Hey! Now I can't feel my legs!"
    "Oooh, right in the stuff!"
    "That's gonna be sore tomorrow!"

  • Quake IV: In an overheard radio message a Marine relatively calmly informs command he has a hole in his chest (paraphrased):

    Marine: I need a medi evac!
    Radio operator: Who is this? I can't get a read on your med chip.
    Marine: My med chip was damaged.
    Radio operator: What? That chip is installed near your heart!
    Marine: I know, I can see it.

  • Resident Evil:
    • In Resident Evil 2 (Remake), Leon and Claire have a rather casual conversation that sounds more like they are flirting than the fact they are trapped in a zombie-infested city. Even after a helicopter exploded, setting off an alarm and thus the zombies' attentions, the tone of their voices didn't change. It's possible however they are both trying to keep calm and not alarm the other.
    • Resident Evil 6 has all the main characters calmly talking about what they're going to do with whatever is trying to kill them at that moment in time. One fun example is when Leon and Hellena are sliding down a waterway (seemingly into the bowels of the Earth) while being chased by a giant mutant fish; they never raise their voices once. While Jake and Sherry sound almost bored when they're on a speeding elevator that's outrunning a fireball while simultaneously also attempting to defeat a boss.
    • Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles: Wesker might be combining this with Thinking Out Loud, or it might just be a very deadpan Inner Monologue. When Sergei Vladimir sets an Ivan on him, Wesker calmly says "This should be intriguing." Note that Wesker doesn't have his superpowers yet at this point.
  • Resonance of Fate does this a lot. Particularly in boss battles, you'll have chatter between your party and the bad guys, that doesn't stop while you're unloading clip after clip of bullets into the bad guy.
  • The main characters of the Shadow Hearts games have a habit of acting completely nonchalant in the face of ridiculous or particularly hammy villains. In one notable example in Covenant, whilst one villain is busy monologuing about how he will rip the heroes' bones apart and condemn them to a lifetime of torture, the party is in a huddle busily discussing how the villain is managing to levitate himself: "It's the pillow he's sitting on! I'm sure of it!" "You think so?". When the villain is finished ranting, main character Yuri has only one thing to say: "Where can I get one of those pillows?"
  • In Splatoon, when facing off against the Final Boss again after finishing the single player campaign, the members of Mission Control will start to casually chat with each other during the fight instead of giving tips like usual.
  • Sam Fisher of Splinter Cell fame never reacts surprised to any danger that erupts around him, speaking dryly and casually even when he has no idea how he's permitted to react at that point. It's implied that from all the battles he's been through, he's gotten used to the odd occupational hazard.
  • Stubbs the Zombie tends to elicit very... unusual death rattles from his victims. Most robots speak casually no matter what happens, presumably due to their programming. But even normal victims tend to have extremely skewed priorities, with shouts such as "That was my favorite arm!", "Now how will I juggle?", or even: "That was my second favorite arm!"
  • Tales Series:
    • This happens quite a few times in Tales of Symphonia, usually when Zelos is involved.

      Yuan:[after trapping the party] I have you now, you fools!
      Lloyd:[to Zelos] ...He just called you a fool.
      Presea: Zelos is... clumsy.
      Zelos: Oh man, I am so sad right now.

    • In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, during one event where the characters are being chased, there is a series of skits in which Tenebrae suggests a "Speaking Ban" because he feels the dialogue in the skits themselves is interfering with escape (ironically, it also prevents him from gloating over its success)
    • Flynn and Yuri in Tales of Vesperia. They fight together once and duel twice, and all three times they just can't stop snarking at each other:

      Yuri: Hey, this isn't the time to get worked up.
      Flynn: I am NOT worked up!
      Yuri: It's okay, don't hide it!
      Flynn: Would you be serious for once?
      Yuri:I am serious!
      Flynn: I can't concentrate with you talking all the time!
      Yuri: Well, I can't concentrate without talking, so... we're kinda stuck!

  • Team Fortress 2:
    • While most of the dialogue in-game is various taunts and unwarranted advice yelled back and forth between teams, some lines are surprisingly calm for a battleground, generally from one teammate to another.
    • The Spy will, when set on fire, occasionally say "I do believe I'm on fire" or "I appear to have burst into flames" without any hint of pain. Considering how the most useful way of finding spies is to set them on fire, it might just be commonplace to him by now.
    • The Sniper in Meet the Sniper, while taking aim at one of his marks.

      Sniper: I think his mate saw me.
      [bullet hits railing, Sniper and camera duck]
      Sniper:Yes, yes, he did.

  • Time Gal has a scenario in the B.C. 44 stage where Reika tries to pick up a guy... while swordfighting him.

    Reika: Hey, good-looking. You're my kinda guy! Oh, how old are you?

  • Warhammer: The End Times: Vermintide: Most humor in the world has been eaten alive by the Skaven, so making fun of them (especially the 'ninjas' who can't make a single parkour jump without yelling at their targets) is a good way of getting it back. By Vermintide II the five heroes are so comfortable with one another and dismissive of the Skaven and Chaos that the density of conversations and jokes has doubled if not tripled from the first game (which had more gloomy and loreful exchanges thrown in).
  • WET at the end of the game after being shot at twice by Rupert Pelham Rubi says, "Bummer. Sucks for you." This is in a tone of voice one would expect to hear someone use when they realized they dropped their wallet not when they just deflected two bullets and are about to take Final Vengeance on someone.

    Visual Novels 

  • Yo-Jin-Bo is full of this. Fighting an army of ninjas is apparently good fuel for the wit.

    Web Animation 

  • RWBY: Normally, people would be intimidated by fighting two large bear monsters. Not Yang, apparently. Between dodging their swings, she's casually teasing them and asking them if they've seen where her sister Ruby is. That is, until one of their swingscatches a strand
Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]

Vehicles purchased in Georgia from any source other than a registered car dealer must now be titled and registered within 7 business days from the date of purchase.

This new law replaces the former 30 day registration period. This will affect all casual sales between individuals and businesses. Dealer vehicle sales will continue to issue 30 day drive-out tags to customers as they have in the past.

The primary purpose of this legislation is to eliminate the often seen hand-written “tag applied for” signs.

The only method to legally drive a newly purchased vehicle now is to have either a dealer-issued 30 day drive-out tag or a temporary operating permit from the county tag office.

“It’s really a law enforcement thing,” said Floyd County Tax Commissioner Kevin Payne. “In the state of Georgia you cannot ride on the roads without having a vehicle that’s registered.”

If a purchaser of a vehicle cannot acquire the title within 7 days, the purchaser must come to the county tag office and register the vehicle.

The requirements for this registration are a bill of sale, current registration from the previous owner, driver’s license, and proof of insurance. The customer will then be issued a temporary operating permit good for 30 days from the date of purchase.

A metal license plate will be issued when the title is provided.

Police will be offering a 30-day grace period since most people aren’t aware of the change of law.

“What we will do is issue warning tickets for these violations for the next 30 days,” said Chief Elaine Snow of Rome Police Department.

Floyd County Police Chief Bill Shiflett said his officers will also give warnings for the next 30 days.

For any questions regarding this new law, please contact the Floyd County Tag Office at 706-291-5150 or in person at 4 Government Plaza in the Historic Courthouse.

Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]

Crack Shack founder signs deal to expand fried chicken chain nationwide

Crack Shack, the fried chicken restaurant chain launched five years ago in Little Italy, announced a new partnership deal today that will expand the fast-casual concept across the U.S.

Crack Shack founder and CEO Mike Rosen said up to three new locations will open outside California in 2021 as part of the the deal inked with Savory, a restaurant-focused investment fund launched in May with $90 million in capital by the Mercato Partners Fund in Utah. The new locations will join the six existing Crack Shacks in Little Italy, Encinitas, Costa Mesa, Century City, Pasadena and Las Vegas.

Rosen said he has been approached many times by private equity firms that wanted to invest in an expansion, but Savory brought something new to the table — a management team of restaurant industry veterans with expertise in real estate evaluation, construction management, design, human resources and employee training.

Mike Rosen, founder and CEO of the Crack Shack restaurant chain.

(Courtesy photo)

“Most private equity investors like pouring kerosene on a fire. They like saying, ‘We’re just going to give you money and you guys run.’ But we’re not good at everything,” Rosen said. “They have subject matter experts across a wide range of individual knowledge areas. That will enable our team to focus on what they’re good at. It’s like chocolate and peanut butter coming together.”

Crack Shack was the second restaurant venture for Rosen, a San Diego private equity investor and restaurant aficionado. In March 2014, he and chef Richard Blais launched the 250-seat fine-dining eatery Juniper and Ivy at 2228 Kettner Boulevard. Eighteen months later, they opened the first Crack Shack location next door. Blais has since left the company. The executive chef at Juniper and Ivy is Anthony Wells and the Crack Shack team includes culinary director Jon Sloan, director of operations Dan Pena and marketing director Nicole Rogers.

Rosen said Crack Shack is unique in the fried chicken category. It sells only free-range Jidori chicken raised on small farms in California, which are the centerpiece in bone-in dinner plates, sandwiches and salad entrees. That has helped the company stand out from the other fried chicken chains and the up-and-coming Nashville-style hot chicken outlets, which Rosen said he sees as more of a menu option than the basis for an entire restaurant.

“We don’t really have any competitors,” he said. “I think that as we look at what the consumer cares about — ingredients — there is a market for the Crack Shack outside Southern California. It’s a chicken concept that is not Southern-fried, but more Southern Californian, with some fresh salads and not grits and gravy. We planted our flag on using ingredients that are of far higher quality than other chicken restaurants.”

While the menu at future Crack Shacks will remain pretty much the same, Rosen said they will be adapted to changes in consumer dining habits. Even before the pandemic caused a dramatic rise in takeout and third-party delivery orders, Americans were eating more meals at home. Most of the Crack Shack locations offer either partial or full outdoor dining options, but Rosen said to-go orders now make up 20 percent to 30 percent of all Crack Shack sales. In a recent customer loyalty survey, many Crack Shack diners said they plan to continue doing pickup and third-party delivery services after the pandemic ends.

A platter of fried chicken at Crack Shack in Little Italy.

(Courtesy of Sara K. Norris)

Rosen calls the existing Crack Shack locations “experiential” venues, where families and friends can gather and small children can wander and play. But the 5,000-square-foot and larger locations like those in Little Italy and Encinitas will not be replicated in the future. Rent at these large-footprint stores is too high for stores where nearly a third of sales are in the low-profit delivery category. So future locations will be much smaller.

The burger chain Shake Shack announced in May it plans to open its first drive-through locations, soon to serve the growing eat-at-home market segment. Rosen is looking at drive-through as well. His frustration with delivery services is that food that leaves the restaurant piping hot may be cold by the time it reaches the customer, and that doesn’t represent his company well. To reduce these issues, Crack Shack has changed its packaging to keep takeout food items warmer.

Crack Shack joins three other chains in Savory’s fast-casual restaurant portfolio: Mo’Bettahs, a Hawaiian-style chain with 13 locations; R&R BBQ, with nine locations; and Swig, a soft drink and cookies chain with 20 locations.

Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]

Casual Archives - Ocean Cracked - very

30 Years Ago, Romania Deprived Thousands of Babies of Human Contact

Izidor Ruckel near his home outside Denver

Global

Here’s what’s become of them.

By Melissa Fay Greene

Image above: Izidor Ruckel near his home outside Denver


Updated at 3:22 p.m. ET on June 23, 2020.

For his first three years of life, Izidor lived at the hospital.

The dark-eyed, black-haired boy, born June 20, 1980, had been abandoned when he was a few weeks old. The reason was obvious to anyone who bothered to look: His right leg was a bit deformed. After a bout of illness (probably polio), he had been tossed into a sea of abandoned infants in the Socialist Republic of Romania.

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In films of the period documenting orphan care, you see nurses like assembly-line workers swaddling newborns out of a seemingly endless supply; with muscled arms and casual indifference, they sling each one onto a square of cloth, expertly knot it into a tidy package, and stick it at the end of a row of silent, worried-looking babies. The women don’t coo or sing to them.* You see the small faces trying to fathom what’s happening as their heads whip by during the wrapping maneuvers.

In his hospital, in the Southern Carpathian mountain town of Sighetu Marmaţiei, Izidor would have been fed by a bottle stuck into his mouth and propped against the bars of a crib. Well past the age when children in the outside world began tasting solid food and then feeding themselves, he and his age-mates remained on their backs, sucking from bottles with widened openings to allow the passage of a watery gruel. Without proper care or physical therapy, the baby’s leg muscles wasted. At 3, he was deemed “deficient” and transferred across town to a Cămin Spital Pentru Copii Deficienţi, a Home Hospital for Irrecoverable Children.

The cement fortress emitted no sounds of children playing, though as many as 500 lived inside at one time. It stood mournfully aloof from the cobblestone streets and sparkling river of the town where Elie Wiesel had been born, in 1928, and enjoyed a happy childhood before the Nazi deportations.

The windows on Izidor’s third-floor ward had been fitted with prison bars. In boyhood, he stood there often, gazing down on an empty mud yard enclosed by a barbed-wire fence. Through bare branches in winter, Izidor got a look at another hospital that sat right in front of his own and concealed it from the street. Real children, children wearing shoes and coats, children holding their parents’ hands, came and went from that hospital. No one from Izidor’s Cămin Spital was ever taken there, no matter how sick, not even if they were dying.

Like all the boys and girls who lived in the hospital for “irrecoverables,” Izidor was served nearly inedible, watered-down food at long tables where naked children on benches banged their tin bowls. He grew up in overcrowded rooms where his fellow orphans endlessly rocked, or punched themselves in the face, or shrieked. Out-of-control children were dosed with adult tranquilizers, administered through unsterilized needles, while many who fell ill received transfusions of unscreened blood. Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS ravaged the Romanian orphanages.

Izidor was destined to spend the rest of his childhood in this building, to exit the gates only at 18, at which time, if he were thoroughly incapacitated, he’d be transferred to a home for old men; if he turned out to be minimally functional, he’d be evicted to make his way on the streets. Odds were high that he wouldn’t survive that long, that the boy with the shriveled leg would die in childhood, malnourished, shivering, unloved.

This past Christmas Day was the 30th anniversary of the public execution by firing squad of Romania’s last Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu, who’d ruled for 24 years. In 1990, the outside world discovered his network of “child gulags,” in which an estimated 170,000 abandoned infants, children, and teens were being raised. Believing that a larger population would beef up Romania’s economy, Ceaușescu had curtailed contraception and abortion, imposed tax penalties on people who were childless, and celebrated as “heroine mothers” women who gave birth to 10 or more. Parents who couldn’t possibly handle another baby might call their new arrival “Ceauşescu’s child,” as in “Let him raise it.”

Read: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Nicolae Ceauşescu, megalomaniacal tyrant, friend of America

To house a generation of unwanted or unaffordable children, Ceauşescu ordered the construction or conversion of hundreds of structures around the country. Signs displayed the slogan: the state can take better care of your child than you can.

At age 3, abandoned children were sorted. Future workers would get clothes, shoes, food, and some schooling in Case de copii—“children’s homes”—while “deficient” children wouldn’t get much of anything in their Cămine Spitale. The Soviet “science of defectology” viewed disabilities in infants as intrinsic and uncurable. Even children with treatable issues—perhaps they were cross-eyed or anemic, or had a cleft lip—were classified as “unsalvageable.”

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After the Romanian revolution, children in unspeakable conditions—skeletal, splashing in urine on the floor, caked with feces—were discovered and filmed by foreign news programs, including ABC’s 20/20, which broadcast “Shame of a Nation” in 1990. Like the liberators of Auschwitz 45 years before, early visitors to the institutions have been haunted all their lives by what they saw. “We flew in by helicopter over the snow to Siret, landing after midnight, subzero weather, accompanied by Romanian bodyguards carrying Uzis,” Jane Aronson tells me. A Manhattan-based pediatrician and adoption-medicine specialist, she was part of one of the first pediatric teams summoned to Romania by the new government. “We walk into a pitch-black, freezing-cold building and discover there are youngsters lurking about—they’re tiny, but older, something weird, like trolls, filthy, stinking. They’re chanting in a dronelike way, gibberish. We open a door and find a population of ‘cretins’—now it’s known as congenital iodine deficiency syndrome; untreated hypothyroidism stunts growth and brain development. I don’t know how old they were, three feet tall, could have been in their 20s. In other rooms we see teenagers the size of 6- and 7-year-olds, with no secondary sexual characteristics. There were children with underlying genetic disorders lying in cages. You start almost to disassociate.”

“I walked into an institution in Bucharest one afternoon, and there was a small child standing there sobbing,” recalls Charles A. Nelson III, a professor of pediatrics and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. “He was heartbroken and had wet his pants. I asked, ‘What’s going on with that child?’ A worker said, ‘Well, his mother abandoned him this morning and he’s been like that all day.’ That was it. No one comforted the little boy or picked him up. That was my introduction.”

The Romanian orphans were not the first devastatingly neglected children to be seen by psychologists in the 20th century. Unresponsive World War II orphans, as well as children kept isolated for long periods in hospitals, had deeply concerned mid-century child-development giants such as René Spitz and John Bowlby. In an era devoted to fighting malnutrition, injury, and infection, the idea that adequately fed and medically stable children could waste away because they missed their parents was hard to believe. Their research led to the then-bold notion, advanced especially by Bowlby, that simply lacking an “attachment figure,” a parent or caregiver, could wreak a lifetime of havoc on mental and physical health.

From the April 1996 issue: Anne F. Thurston describes life in a Chinese orphanage

Neuroscientists tended to view “attachment theory” as suggestive and thought-provoking work within the “soft science” of psychology. It largely relied on case studies or correlational evidence or animal research. In the psychologist Harry Harlow’s infamous “maternal deprivation” experiments, he caged baby rhesus monkeys alone, offering them only maternal facsimiles made of wire and wood, or foam and terry cloth.

In 1998, at a small scientific meeting, animal research presented back-to-back with images from Romanian orphanages changed the course of the study of attachment. First the University of Minnesota neonatal-pediatrics professor Dana Johnson shared photos and videos that he’d collected in Romania of rooms teeming with children engaged in “motor stereotypies”: rocking, banging their heads, squawking. He was followed by a speaker who showed videos of her work with motherless primate infants like the ones Harlow had produced—swaying, twirling, self-mutilating. The audience was shocked by the parallels. “We were all in tears,” Nelson told me.

In the decade after the fall of Ceaușescu, the new Romanian government welcomed Western child-development experts to simultaneously help and study the tens of thousands of children still warehoused in state care. Researchers hoped to answer some long-standing questions: Are there sensitive periods in neural development, after which the brain of a deprived child cannot make full use of the mental, emotional, and physical stimulation later offered? Can the effects of “maternal deprivation” or “caregiver absence” be documented with modern neuroimaging techniques? Finally, if an institutionalized child is transferred into a family setting, can he or she recoup undeveloped capacities? Implicitly, poignantly: Can a person unloved in childhood learn to love?

Tract developments fan out from the Denver airport like playing cards on a table. The Great Plains have been ground down to almost nothing here, to wind and dirt and trash on the shoulder of the highway, to Walgreens and Arby’s and AutoZone. In a rental car, I drive slowly around the semicircles and cul-de-sacs of Izidor’s subdivision until I see him step out of the shadow of a 4,500-square-foot McMansion with a polite half-wave. He sublets a room here, as do others, including some families—an exurban commune in a single-family residence built for Goliaths. At 39, Izidor is an elegant, wiry man with mournful eyes. His manner is alert and tentative. A general manager for a KFC, he works 60-to-65-hour weeks.

Read: American child detention centers’ degrading, inhumane conditions

“Welcome to Romania,” he announces, opening his bedroom door. It’s an entryway into another time, another place. From every visit to his home country, Izidor has brought back folk art and souvenirs—hand-painted glazed plates and teacups, embroidered tea towels, Romanian flags, shot glasses, wood figurines, cut-glass flasks of plum brandy, and CDs of Romanian folk music, heavy on the violins. He could stock a gift shop. There are thick wine-colored rugs, blankets, and wall hangings. The ambient light is maroon, the curtains closed against the high-altitude sunshine. Ten miles southwest of the Denver airport, Izidor is living in an ersatz Romanian cottage.

“Everyone in Maramureş lives like this,” he tells me, referring to the cultural region in northern Romania where he was born.

I’m thinking, Do they, though?

“You will see that many people there have these things in their homes,” he clarifies.

That sounds more accurate. People like knickknacks. “Do you sound like a Romanian when you visit?” I ask.

“No,” he says. “When I start to speak, they ask, ‘Where are you from?’ I tell them: ‘From Maramureş!’ ” No one believes him, because of his accent, so he has to explain: “Technically, if you want to be logical about it, I am Romanian, but I’ve lived in America for more than 20 years.”

“When you meet new people, do you talk about your history?”

“No, I try not to. I want to experience Romania as a normal human being. I don’t want to be known everywhere as ‘the Orphan.’ ”

To cheer Izidor up after his beating, Onisa promised that someday she’d take him home with her for an overnight visit.

His precise English makes even casual phrases sound formal. In his room, Izidor has captured the Romanian folk aesthetic, but something else stirs beneath the surface. I’m reminded of the book he self-published at age 22, titled Abandoned for Life. It’s a grim tale, but once, when he was about 8, Izidor had a happy day.

A kind nanny had started working at the hospital. “Onisa was a young lady, a bit chubby, with long black hair and round rosy cheeks,” Izidor writes in his memoir. “She loved to sing and often taught us some of her music.” One day, Onisa intervened when another nanny was striking Izidor with a broomstick. Like a few others before her, Onisa had spotted his intelligence. On the ward of semi-ambulatory (some crawled or creeped), slightly verbal (some just made noises) children, Izidor was the go-to kid if an adult had questions, like what was that one’s name or when had that one died. The director would occasionally peek in and ask Izidor if he and the other children were being hit; to avoid retribution, Izidor always said no.

Annie Lowrey: How America treats its own children

On that day, to cheer him up after his beating, Onisa promised that someday she’d take him home with her for an overnight visit. Skeptical that such an extraordinary event would ever happen, Izidor thanked her for the nice idea.

A few weeks later, on a snowy winter day, Onisa dressed Izidor in warm clothes and shoes she’d brought from home, took him by the hand, and led him out the front door and through the orphanage gate. Walking slowly, she took the small boy, who swayed on uneven legs with a deep, tilting limp, down the lane past the public hospital and into the town. Cold, fresh air brushed his cheeks, and snow squeaked under his shoes; the wind rattled the branches; a bird stood on a chimney. “It was my first time ever going out into the world,” he tells me now. He looked in astonishment at the cars and houses and shops. He tried to absorb and memorize everything to report back to the kids on his ward.

“When I stepped into Onisa’s apartment,” he writes, “I could not believe how beautiful it was; the walls were covered with dark rugs and there was a picture of the Last Supper on one of them. The carpets on the floor were red.” Neighborhood children knocked on Onisa’s door to see if the strange boy from the orphanage wanted to come out and play, and he did. Onisa’s children arrived home from school, and Izidor learned that it was the start of their Christmas holiday. He feasted alongside Onisa’s family at their friends’ dinner table that night, tasting Romanian specialties for the first time, including sarmale (stuffed cabbage), potato goulash with thick noodles, and sweet yellow sponge cake with cream filling. He remembers every bite. On the living-room floor after dinner, the child of that household let Izidor play with his toys. Izidor followed the boy’s lead and drove little trains across the rug. Back at Onisa’s, he slept in his first-ever soft, clean bed.

The next morning, Onisa asked Izidor if he wanted to go to work with her or to stay with her children. Here he made a mistake so terrible that, 31 years later, he still remembers it with grief.

“I want to go to work with you!” he called. He was deep into a fantasy that Onisa was his mother, and he didn’t want to be parted from her. “I got dressed as fast as I could, and we headed out the door,” he remembers. “When we were near her work, I realized that her work was at the hospital, my hospital, and I began to cry … It had only been 24 hours but somehow I thought I was going to be part of Onisa’s family now. It didn’t occur to me that her work was actually at the hospital until we were at the gate again. I felt so shocked when we turned into the yard it was like I’d forgotten I came from there.”

He tried to turn back but wasn’t permitted. He’d found the most wonderful spot on Earth—Onisa’s apartment—and, through his own stupidity, had let it slip away. He sobbed like a newcomer until the other nannies threatened to slap him.

Today Izidor lives 6,000 miles from Romania. He leads a solitary life. But in his bedroom in a subdivision on a paved-over prairie, he has re-created the setting from the happiest night in his childhood.

“That night at Onisa’s,” I ask, “do you think you sensed that there were family relationships and emotions happening there that you’d never seen or felt before?”

“No, I was too young to perceive that.”

“But you did notice the beautiful furnishings?”

“Yes! You see this?” Izidor says, picking up a tapestry woven with burgundy roses on a dark, leafy background. “This is almost identical to Onisa’s. I bought it in Romania for that reason!”

“All these things …” I gesture.

“Yes.”

“But not because they signify ‘family’ to you?”

“No, but they signify ‘peace’ to me. It was the first time I slept in a real home. For many years I thought, Why can’t I have a home like that? 

Now he does. But he knows there are missing parts—no matter how many shot glasses he collects.

In the early 1990s, Danny and Marlys Ruckel lived with their three young daughters in a San Diego condo. They thought it would be nice to add a boy to the mix, and heard about a local independent filmmaker, John Upton, who was arranging adoptions of Romanian orphans. Marlys called and told him they wanted to adopt a baby boy. “There’s thousands of kids there,” Upton replied. “That’ll be easy.”

Marlys laughs. “Not much of that was accurate!” she tells me. We’re seated in the living room of a white-stucco house in the Southern California wine-country town of Temecula. Kids and dogs bang in and out of the dazzling hot day (the Ruckels have adopted five children from foster care in recent years). Marlys, now a job coach for adults with special needs, is like a Diane Keaton character, shyly retreating behind large glasses and a fall of long hair, but occasionally making brave outbursts. Danny, a programmer, is an easygoing guy. Marlys describes herself as a homebody, but then there was that time she moved to Romania for two months to try to adopt a boy she saw on a video.

Undone by “Shame of a Nation,” Upton had flown to Romania four days after the broadcast, and made his way to the worst place on the show, the Home Hospital for Irrecoverable Children in Sighetu Marmaţiei. He went back a few times. On one visit, he gathered a bunch of kids in an empty room to film them for prospective adoptive parents. His video would not show children packed together naked “like little reptiles in an aquarium,” as he’d described them, but as people, wearing clothes and speaking.

By then, donations had started to come in from charities around the world. Little reached the children, because the staff skimmed the best items, but on that day, in deference to the American, nannies put donated sweaters on the kids. Though the children seemed excited to be the center of attention, Upton and his Romanian assistant found it slow-going. Some didn’t speak at all, and others were unable to stand up or to stand still. When the filmmakers asked for the children’s names and ages, the nannies shrugged.

At the end of a wooden bench sat a boy the size of a 6-year-old—at age 10, Izidor weighed about 50 pounds. Upton was the first American he’d ever seen. Izidor knew about Americans from the TV show Dallas. A donated television had arrived one day, and he had lobbied for this one thing to stay at the hospital. The director had assented. On Sunday nights at 8 o’clock, ambulatory kids, nannies, and workers from other floors gathered to watch Dallas together. When rumors flew up the stairs that day that an American had arrived, the reaction inside the orphanage was, Almighty God, someone from the land of the giant houses!

Izidor knew the information the nannies didn’t. He tells me: “John Upton would ask a kid, ‘How old are you?,’ and the kid would say, ‘I don’t know,’ and the nanny would say, ‘I don’t know,’ and I’d yell, ‘He’s 14!’ He’d ask about another kid, ‘What’s his last name?,’ and I’d yell, ‘Dumka!’ ”

“Izidor knows the children here better than the staff,” Upton grouses in one of the tapes. Before wrapping up the session, he lifts Izidor into his lap and asks if he’d like to go to America. Izidor says that he would.

Back in San Diego, Upton told the Ruckels about the bright boy of about 7 who hoped to come to the United States. “We’d wanted to adopt a baby,” Marlys says. “Then we saw John’s video and fell in love with Izidor.”

In May 1991, Marlys flew to Romania to meet the child and try to bring him home. Just before traveling, she learned that Izidor was almost 11, but she was undaunted. She traveled with a new friend, Debbie Principe, who had also been matched with a child by Upton. In the director’s office, Marlys waited to meet Izidor, and Debbie waited to meet a little blond live wire named Ciprian.

“When Izidor entered,” Marlys says, “all I saw was him, like everything else was fuzzy. He was as beautiful as I’d imagined. Our translator asked him which of the visitors in the office he hoped would be his new mother, and he pointed to me!”

Izidor had a question for the translator: “Where will I live? Is it like Dallas?”

“Well … no, we live in a condo, like an apartment,” Marlys said. “But you’ll have three sisters. You’ll love them.”

This did not strike Izidor as an interesting trade-off. He dryly replied to the translator: “We will see.”

That night, Marlys rejoiced about what an angel Izidor was.

Debbie laughed. “He struck me more like a cool operator, a savvy politician type,” she told Marlys. “He was much more on top of things than Chippy.” Ciprian had spent the time in the office rummaging wildly through everything, including desk drawers and the pockets of everyone in the room.

“No, he’s an innocent. He’s adorable,” Marlys said. “Did you see him pick me to be his mother?”

Years later, in his memoir, Izidor explained that moment:

Marlys was the tall American and Debbie was the short American … “Roxana, which one is going to be my new mother?” I asked [the translator].
“Which one do you want to have as your mother?”
“Which one is my mother?” I begged to know.
“The tall American,” she replied.
“Then that’s who I want to have as my mother,” I said.
When I picked Marlys, she began to cry, filled with joy that I had picked her.

The pediatric neuroscientist Charles Nelson is famously gregarious and kind, with wavy, graying blond hair and a mustache like Captain Kangaroo’s. In the fall of 2000, he, along with his colleagues Nathan A. Fox, a human-development professor at the University of Maryland, and Charles H. Zeanah, a child-psychiatry professor at the Tulane University School of Medicine, launched the Bucharest Early Intervention Project. They had permission to work with 136 children, ages six months to 2.5 years, from six Bucharest leagãne, baby institutions. None was a Home Hospital for Irrecoverable Children, like Izidor’s; they were somewhat better supplied and staffed.

By design, 68 of the children would continue to receive “care as usual,” while the other 68 would be placed with foster families recruited and trained by BEIP. (Romania didn’t have a tradition of foster care; officials believed orphanages were safer for children.) Local kids whose parents volunteered to participate made up a third group. The BEIP study would become the first-ever randomized controlled trial to measure the impact of early institutionalization on brain and behavioral development and to examine high-quality foster care as an alternative.

To start, the researchers employed Mary Ainsworth’s classic “strange situation” procedure to assess the quality of the attachment relationships between the children and their caregivers or parents. In a typical setup, a baby between nine and 18 months old enters an unfamiliar playroom with her “attachment figure” and experiences some increasingly unsettling events, including the arrival of a stranger and the departure of her grown-up, as researchers code the baby’s behavior from behind a one-way mirror. “Our coders, unaware of any child’s background, assessed 100 percent of the community kids as having fully developed attachment relationships with their mothers,” Zeanah told me. “That was true of 3 percent of the institutionalized kids.”

Nearly two-thirds of the children were coded as “disorganized,” meaning they displayed contradictory, jerky behaviors, perhaps freezing in place or suddenly reversing direction after starting to approach the adult. This pattern is the one most closely related to later psychopathology. Even more disturbing, Zeanah told me, 13 percent were deemed “unclassified,” meaning they displayed no attachment behaviors at all. “Ainsworth and John Bowlby believed infants would attach to an adult even if the adult were abusive,” he said. “They hadn’t considered the possibility of infants without attachments.”

Until the Bucharest project, Zeanah said, he hadn’t realized that seeking comfort for distress is a learned behavior. “These children had no idea that an adult could make them feel better,” he told me. “Imagine how that must feel—to be miserable and not even know that another human being could help.”

In October 1991, Izidor and Ciprian flew with Romanian escorts to San Diego. The boys’ new families waited at the airport to greet them, along with Upton and previously adopted Romanian children—a small crowd holding balloons and signs, cheering and waving. Izidor gazed around the terminal with satisfaction. “Where is my bedroom?” he asked. When Marlys told him they were in an airport, not his new home, Izidor was taken aback. Though she’d explained that the Ruckels did not live like the Ewings in Dallas, he hadn’t believed her. Now he’d mistaken the arrivals area for his new living room.

A 17-year-old from the orphanage, Izabela, was part of the airport welcoming committee. Born with hydrocephalus and unable to walk after being left all her life in a crib, she was in a wheelchair, dressed up and looking pretty. Rescued by Upton on an earlier trip, she’d been admitted to the U.S. on a humanitarian medical basis and was being fostered by the Ruckels.

Izidor was startled to see Izabela: “Who is your mother?”

“My mother is your mother, Izidor.”

“I didn’t like the sound of that,” he remembers. To make sure he’d heard correctly, he asked again: “Who is your mother here in America?”

“Izidor, you and I have the same mother,” she said, pointing at Marlys.

So now he had to get used to four sisters.

In the car, when Danny tried to click a seat belt across Izidor’s waist, he bucked and yelled, fearing he was being straitjacketed.

Marlys homeschooled the girls, but Izidor insisted on starting fourth grade in the local school, where he quickly learned English. His canny ability to read the room put him in good stead with the teachers, but at home, he seemed constantly irritated. Suddenly insulted, he’d storm off to his room and tear things apart. “He shredded books, posters, family pictures,” Marlys tells me, “and then stood on the balcony to sprinkle the pieces onto the yard. If I had to leave for an hour, by the time I got home, everyone would be upset: ‘He did this; he did that.’ He didn’t like the girls.”

Marlys and Danny had hoped to expand the family fun and happiness by bringing in another child. But the newest family member almost never laughed. He didn’t like to be touched. He was vigilant, hurt, proud. “By about 14, he was angry about everything,” she tells me. “He decided he’d grow up and become the American president. When he found out that wouldn’t be possible because of his foreign birth, he said, ‘Fine, I’ll go back to Romania.’ That’s when that started—his goal of returning to Romania. We thought it was a good thing for him to have a goal, so we said, ‘Sure, get a job, save your money, and when you’re 18, you can move back to Romania.’ ” Izidor worked every day after school at a fast-food restaurant.

“Those were rough years. I was walking on eggshells, trying not to set him off. The girls were so over it. It was me they were mad at. Not for bringing Izidor into the family but for being so … so whipped by him. They’d say, ‘Mom, all you do is try to fix him!’ I was so focused on helping him adjust, I lost sight of the fact that the other children were scraping by with a fraction of my time.

“Danny and I tried taking him to therapy, but he refused to go back. He said, ‘I don’t need therapy. You two need therapy. Why don’t you go?’ So we did.

“He’d say: ‘I’m fine when nobody’s in the house.’

“We’d say: ‘But Izidor, it’s our house.’ ”

As early as 2003, it was evident to the BEIP scientists and their Romanian research partners that the foster-care children were making progress. Glimmering through the data was a sensitive period of 24 months during which it was crucial for a child to establish an attachment relationship with a caregiver, Zeanah says. Children taken out of orphanages before their second birthday were benefiting from being with families far more than those who stayed longer. “When you’re doing a trial and your preliminary evidence is that the intervention is effective, you have to ask, ‘Do we stop now and make the drug available to everyone?’ ” he told me. “For us, the ‘effective drug’ happened to be foster care, and we weren’t capable of creating a national foster-care system.” Instead, the researchers announced their results publicly, and the next year, the Romanian government banned the institutionalization of children under the age of 2. Since then, it has raised the minimum age to 7, and government-sponsored foster care has expanded dramatically.

Meanwhile, the study continued. When the children were reassessed in a “strange situation” playroom at age 3.5, the portion who displayed secure attachments climbed from the baseline of 3 percent to nearly 50 percent among the foster-care kids, but to only 18 percent among those who remained institutionalized—and, again, the children moved before their second birthday did best. “Timing is critical,” the researchers wrote. Brain plasticity wasn’t “unlimited,” they warned. “Earlier is better.”

The benefits for children who’d achieved secure attachments accrued as time went on. At age 4.5, they had significantly lower rates of depression and anxiety and fewer “callous unemotional traits” (limited empathy, lack of guilt, shallow affect) than their peers still in institutions. About 40 percent of teenagers in the study who’d ever been in orphanages, in fact, were eventually diagnosed with a major psychiatric condition. Their growth was stunted, and their motor skills and language development stalled. MRI studies revealed that the brain volume of the still-institutionalized children was below that of the never institutionalized, and EEGs showed profoundly less brain activity. “If you think of the brain as a light bulb,” Charles Nelson has said, “it’s as though there was a dimmer that had reduced them from a 100-watt bulb to 30 watts.”

One purpose of a baby attaching to just a small number of adults, according to evolutionary theory, is that it’s the most efficient way to get help. “If there were many attachment figures and danger emerged, the infant wouldn’t know to whom to direct the signal,” explains Martha Pott, a senior lecturer in child development at Tufts. Unattached children see threats everywhere, an idea borne out in the brain studies. Flooded with stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, the amygdala—the main part of the brain dealing with fear and emotion—seemingly worked overtime in the still-institutionalized children.

Comparing data from orphanages worldwide shows the profound impact institutionalization has on social-emotional development even in the best cases. “In England’s residential nurseries in the 1960s, there was a reasonable number of caregivers, and the children were materially well provided for. Their IQs, though lower than those of children in families, were well within the average range, up in the 90s,” Zeanah told me. “More recently, the caregiver-child ratio in Greek orphanages was not as good, nor were they as materially well equipped; those kids had IQs in the low-average range. Then, in Romania, you have our kids with really major-league deficits. But here’s the remarkable thing: Across all those settings, the attachment impairments are similar.”

When the children in the Bucharest study were 8, the researchers set up playdates, hoping to learn how early attachment impairments might inhibit a child’s later ability to interact with peers. In a video I watched, two boys, strangers to each other, enter a playroom. Within seconds, things go off the rails. One boy, wearing a white turtleneck, eagerly seizes the other boy’s hand and gnaws on it. That boy, in a striped pullover, yanks back his hand and checks for teeth marks. The researcher offers a toy, but the boy in white is busy trying to hold hands with the other kid, or grab him by the wrists, or hug him, as if he were trying to carry a giant teddy bear. He tries to overturn the table. The other boy makes a feeble effort to save the table, then lets it fall. He’s weird, you can imagine him thinking. Can I go home now?

The boy in the white turtleneck lived in an institution; the boy in the striped pullover was a neighborhood kid.

Nelson cautions that the door doesn’t “slam shut” for children left in institutions beyond 24 months of age. “But the longer you wait to get children into a family,” he says, “the harder it is to get them back on an even keel.”

“Every time we got into another fight,” Izidor remembers, “I wanted one of them to say: ‘Izidor, we wish we had never adopted you and we are going to send you back to the hospital.’ But they didn’t say it.”

Unable to process his family’s affection, he just wanted to know where he stood. It was simpler in the orphanage, where either you were being beaten or you weren’t. “I responded better to being smacked around,” Izidor tells me. “In America, they had ‘rules’ and ‘consequences.’ So much talk. I hated ‘Let’s talk about this.’ As a child, I’d never heard words like ‘You are special’ or ‘You’re our kid.’ Later, if your adoption parents tell you words like that, you feel, Okay, whatever, thanks. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I don’t know what you want from me, or what I’m supposed to do for you.” When banished to his room, for rudeness or cursing or being mean to the girls, Izidor would stomp up the stairs and blast Romanian music or bang on his door from the inside with his fists or a shoe.

Marlys blamed herself. “He said he wanted to go back to his first mother, a woman who hadn’t even wanted him, a woman he didn’t remember. When I took him to the bank to set up his savings account, the bank official filling out the form asked Izidor, ‘What’s your mother’s maiden name?’ I opened my mouth to answer, but he immediately said ‘Maria.’ That’s his birth mother’s name. I know it was probably dumb to feel hurt by that.”

One night when Izidor was 16, Marlys and Danny felt so scared by Izidor’s outburst that they called the police. “I’m going to kill you!” he’d screamed at them. After an officer escorted Izidor to the police car, he insisted that his parents “abused” him.

“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” Danny said when informed of his son’s accusation.

“Great,” said Marlys. “Did he happen to mention how we abuse him?”

Back in the car, the officer asked: “How do your parents abuse you?”

“I work and they take all my money,” Izidor hollered. In the house, the officer searched Izidor’s room, and found his savings-account book.

“We can’t take him,” the officer told the Ruckels. “He’s mad, but there’s nothing wrong here. I’d suggest you lock your bedroom doors tonight.”

Again, they had the thought: But it’s our house.

The next morning Marlys and Danny offered Izidor a ride to school and then drove him straight to a psychiatric hospital instead. “We couldn’t afford it, but we took a tour and it scared him,” Marlys tells me. “He said, ‘Don’t leave me here! I’ll follow your rules. Don’t make me go here!’ Back in the car, we said: ‘Listen, Izidor, you don’t have to love us, but you have to be safe and we have to be safe. You can live at home, work, and go to school until you’re 18. We love you.’ But, you know, the sappy stuff didn’t work with him.”

Living by the rules didn’t last long. One night Izidor stayed out until 2 a.m., and found the house locked. He banged on the door. Marlys opened it a crack. “Your things are in the garage,” she told him.

Izidor would never again live at home. He moved in with some guys he knew; their indifference suited him. “He’d get drunk in the middle of the night and call us, and his friends would get on the line to say vulgar things about our daughters,” Marlys says. “Admittedly, it was finally peaceful in our house, but I worried about him.”

On Izidor’s 18th birthday, Marlys baked a cake and wrapped his gift, a photo album documenting their life together: his first day in America, his first dental appointment, his first job, his first shave. She took the presents to the house where she’d heard her son was staying. The person who answered the door agreed to deliver them when Izidor got back. “In the middle of the night,” Marlys says, “we heard a car squealing around the cul-de-sac, then a loud thud against the front door and the car squealing away. I went down and opened the door. It was the photo album.”

At 20, in 2001, Izidor felt an urgent desire to return to Romania. Short on cash, he wrote letters to TV shows, pitching the exclusive story of a Romanian orphan making his first trip back to his home country. 20/20 took him up on it, and on March 25, 2001, a film crew met him at the Los Angeles airport. So did the Ruckels.

“I thought, This is it. I’ll never see him again,” Marlys says. “I hugged and kissed him whether he wanted me to or not. I told him, ‘You’ll always be our son and we’ll always love you.’ ”

Izidor showed the Ruckels his wallet, in which he’d stuck two family photographs. “In case I do decide to stay there, I’ll have something to remember you by,” he said. Though he meant it kindly, Marlys was chilled by the ease with which Izidor seemed to be exiting their lives.

From the September 1998 issue: Robert D. Kaplan on Romania, the fulcrum of Europe

In Romania, the 20/20 producers took Izidor to visit his old orphanage, where he was feted like a returning prince, and then they revealed, on camera, that they’d found his birth family outside a farming village three hours away. They drove through a snowy landscape and pulled over in a field. A one-room shack sat on a treeless expanse of mud. Wearing a white button-down, a tie, and dress pants, Izidor limped across the soggy, uneven ground. He was shaking. A narrow-faced man emerged from the hut and strode across the field toward him. Oddly, they passed each other like two strangers on a sidewalk. “Ce mai faci?”—How are you?—the man mumbled as he walked by.

Bun,” Izidor muttered. Good.

That was Izidor’s father, after whom he’d been named. Two young women then hurried from the hut and greeted Izidor with kisses on each cheek; these were his sisters. Finally a short, black-haired woman not yet 50 identified herself as Maria—his mother—and reached out to hug him. Suddenly angry, Izidor swerved past her. How can I greet someone I barely know?, he remembers thinking. She crossed her hands on her chest and began to wail, “Fiul meu! Fiul meu! ” My son! My son!

The house had a dirt floor, and an oil lamp glowed dimly. There was no electricity or plumbing. The family offered Izidor the best seat in the house, a stool. “Why was I put in the hospital in the first place?” he asked.

“You were six weeks old when you got sick,” Maria said. “We took you to the doctor to see what was wrong. Your grandparents checked on you a few weeks later, but then there was something wrong with your right leg. We asked the doctor to fix your leg, but no one would help us. So we took you to a hospital in Sighetu Marmaţiei, and that’s where we left you.”

“Why did no one visit me for 11 years? I was stuck there, and no one ever told me I had parents.”

“Your father was out of work. I was taking care of the other children. We couldn’t afford to come see you.”

“Do you know that living in the Cămin Spital was like living in hell?”

“My heart,” cried Maria. “You must understand that we’re poor people; we were moving from one place to another.”

Agitated, almost unable to catch his breath, Izidor got up and went outside. His Romanian family invited him to look at a few pictures of his older siblings who’d left home, and he presented them with his photo album: Here was a sunlit, grinning Izidor poolside, wearing medals from a swimming competition; here were the Ruckels at the beach in Oceanside; here they were at a picnic table in a verdant park. The Romanians turned the shiny pages wordlessly. When the TV cameras were turned off, Izidor tells me, Maria asked whether the Ruckels had hurt him or taught him to beg. He assured her neither was true.

“You look thin,” Maria went on. “Maybe your American mother doesn’t feed you enough. Move in with us. I will take care of you.” She then pressed him for details about his jobs and wages in America and asked if he’d like to build the family a new house. After three hours, Izidor was exhausted and eager to leave. “He called me from Bucharest,” Marlys says, “and said, ‘I have to come home. Get me out of here. These people are awful.’ ”

“My birth family scared me, especially Maria,” Izidor says. “I had a feeling I could get trapped there.”

A few weeks later he was back in Temecula, working in a fast-food restaurant. But suddenly, he found himself longing for Romania again. It would become a pattern, restless relocation in search of somewhere that felt like home.

Friends told him there were jobs in Denver, so he decided to move to Colorado. Danny and Marlys visit him there and have gone on trips to Romania with him. It’s harder for him to come home to California, Marlys says. “Thanksgiving, Christmas—they’re too much for him. Even when he lived on his own nearby, he was bad at holidays. He always made an excuse, like ‘I have to make the pizza dough.’ When our whole family is here and someone asks, ‘Is Izidor coming?,’ someone will say, ‘Nope, he’s making the pizza dough.’ ”

The neuropsychologist Ron Federici was another of the first wave of child-development experts to visit the institutions for the “unsalvageables,” and he has become one of the world’s top specialists caring for post-institutionalized children adopted into Western homes. “In the early years, everybody had starry eyes,” Federici says. “They thought loving, caring families could heal these kids. I warned them: These kids are going to push you to the breaking point. Get trained to work with special-needs children. Keep their bedrooms spare and simple. Instead of ‘I love you,’ just tell them, ‘You are safe.’ ” But most new or prospective parents couldn’t bear to hear it, and the adoption agencies that set up shop overnight in Romania weren’t in the business of delivering such dire messages. “I got a lot of hate mail,” says Federici, who is fast-talking and blunt, with a long face and a thatch of shiny black hair. “ ‘You’re cold! They need love! They’ve got to be hugged.’ ” But the former marine, once widely accused of being too pessimistic about the kids’ futures, is now considered prescient.

Federici and his wife adopted eight children from brutal institutions themselves: three from Russia and five from Romania, including a trio of brothers, ages 8, 10, and 12. The two oldest weighed 30 pounds each and were dying from untreated hemophilia and hepatitis C when he carried them out the front door of their orphanage; it took the couple two years to locate the boys’ younger brother in another institution. Since then, in his clinical practice in Northern Virginia, Federici has seen 9,000 young people, close to a third of them from Romania. Tracking his patients across the decades, he has found that 25 percent require round-the-clock care, another 55 percent have “significant” challenges that can be managed with adult-support services, and about 20 percent are able to live independently.

“I have known since I was 15 that I would not have a family,” Izidor says. “The way I see myself is that there would be no human being who would ever want to get close to me.”

The most successful parents, he believes, were able to focus on imparting basic living skills and appropriate behaviors. “The Ruckels are a good example—they hung on, and he’s doing okay. But I just had a family today. I knew this girl from Romania forever, first saw her when she was a little girl with the whole post-traumatic stress picture: fear, anxiety, uncertainty, depression. She’s 22 now. The parents said, ‘We’re done. She’s into drugs, alcohol, self-injury. She’s on the streets.’ I said, ‘Let’s get you back on a family program.’ They said, ‘No, we’re exhausted, we can’t afford more treatment—it’s time to focus on our other kids.’ ”

Within his own family, Federici and his wife have become the permanent legal guardians for four of his Romanian children, who are now all adults. Two of them work, under supervision, for a foundation he established in Bucharest; the other two live with their parents in Virginia. (The fifth is a stirring example of the fortunate 20 percent—he’s an ER physician in Wisconsin.) Both of his adult sons who haven’t left home are cognitively impaired, but they have jobs and are pleasant to be around, according to Federici. “They’re happy!” he exclaims. “Are they 100 percent attached to us? Hell no. Are they content with the family? Yes. Can they function in the world, around other people? Absolutely. They’ve figured out ways, not to overcome what happened to them—you can’t really overcome—but to adapt to it and not take other people hostage.”

When a baby was born into the family nine years ago—the family’s only biological child—the doctor began to see new behaviors in his older kids. “The little one is a rock star to them,” he says. “The big brothers at home are so protective of him. In public, in restaurants, God forbid anyone would hurt him or touch a hair on his head. It’s an interesting dynamic: No one watched out for them in their childhoods, but they’ve appointed themselves his bodyguards. He’s their little brother. He’s been to Romania with them. Is this love? It’s whatever. They’re more attached to him than to us, which is absolutely fine.”

By any measure, Izidor—living independently—is a success story among the survivors of Ceauşescu’s institutions. “Do you imagine ever having a family?” I ask. We’re in his room in the giant house outside Denver.

“You mean of my own? No. I have known since I was 15 that I would not have a family. Seeing all my friends in dumb relationships, with jealousy and control and depression—I thought, Really? All that for a relationship? No. The way I see myself is that there would be no human being who would ever want to get close to me. Someone might say that’s false, but that’s how I see myself. If someone tries to get close, I get away. I’m used to it. It’s called a celibacy life.”

He says he doesn’t miss what he never knew, what he doesn’t even perceive. Perhaps it’s like color blindness. Do people with color blindness miss green? He focuses on the tasks before him and does his best to act the way humans expect other humans to act.

“You can be the smartest orphan in the hospital. But you are missing things,” Izidor says. “I’m not a person who can be intimate. It’s hard on a person’s parents, because they show you love and you can’t return it.”

Though Izidor says he wants to live like a “normal” human, he still regularly consents to donning the mantle of former orphan to give talks around the U.S. and Romania about what institutionalization does to little kids. He’s working with a screenwriter on a miniseries about his life, believing that if people could be made to understand what it’s like to live behind fences, inside cages, they’d stop putting children there. He’s keenly aware that up to 8 million children around the world are institutionalized, including those at America’s southern border. Izidor’s dream is to buy a house in Romania and create a group home for his own former wardmates—those who were transferred to nursing homes or put out on the streets. A group home for his fellow post-institutionalized adults is as close to the idea of family as Izidor can get.

Neural pathways thrive in the brain of a baby showered with loving attention; the pathways multiply, intersect, and loop through remote regions of the brain like a national highway system under construction. But in the brain of a neglected baby—a baby lying alone and unwanted every week, every year—fewer connections get built. The baby’s wet diaper isn’t changed. The baby’s smiles aren’t answered. The baby falls silent. The door is closing, but a sliver of light shines around the frame.

People once in a while paid attention to the baby with the twisted leg. Nannies thought he was appealing, and quick-witted. The director talked to him. One brilliant winter afternoon, Onisa took him out of the orphanage, and he walked down a street.

Sometimes, Izidor has feelings.

Two years after the Ruckels kicked him out, Izidor was getting a haircut from a stylist who knew the family. “Did you hear what happened to your family?” she asked. “Your mom and sisters got in a terrible car accident yesterday. They’re in the hospital.”

Izidor tore out of there, took the day off from work, bought three dozen red roses, and showed up at the hospital.

“We were in the truck coming out of Costco,” Marlys recalls, “and a guy hit us really hard—it was a five-car crash. After a few hours at the hospital, we were released. I didn’t call Izidor to tell him. We weren’t speaking. But he found out, and I guess at the hospital he said, ‘I’m here to see the Ruckel family,’ and they said, ‘They’re not here anymore,’ which he took to mean ‘They’re dead.’ ”

Izidor raced from the hospital to the house—the house he’d been boycotting, the family he hated.

Danny Ruckel wasn’t going to let him in without a negotiation. “What are your intentions?” he would ask. “Do you promise to be decent to us?” Izidor would promise. Danny would allow Izidor to enter the living room and face everyone, to stand there with his arms full of flowers and his eyes wet with tears. Before leaving that day, Izidor would lay the flowers in his mother’s arms and say, with a greater attempt at earnestness than they’d ever heard before, “These are for all of you. I love you.” It would mark a turning point. From that day on, something would be softer in him, regarding the Ruckel family.

But first Izidor was obliged to approach the heavy wooden door, the door against which he’d hurled the photo album Marlys made for his birthday, the door he’d slammed behind him a hundred times, the door he’d battered and kicked when he was locked out. He knocked and stood on the front step, head hanging, heart pounding, unsure whether he’d be admitted. I abandoned them, I neglected them, I put them through hell, he thought. The prickly stems of burgundy-red roses wrapped in dark leaves and plastic bristled in his arms.

And then they opened the door.


* Due to an editing oversight, the print version of this article used the term papoose to describe swaddled babies; we removed the word from the online version of the article after a reader pointed out that many, including Merriam-Webster, consider it offensive.


Lily Samuel contributed research to this article. It appears in the July/August 2020 print edition with the headline “Can an Unloved Child Learn to Love?”

Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]

Casual Danger Dialog

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hhgreeksmelos_6937.jpg

"Hey, their arrows are blotting out the sun."
"Good; we can talk in the shade."

Ronin:Yo, Cage, do they always talk this much during a fight?
Luke Cage:Uh, yes, actually.
Iron Fist:Yeah, I didn't know there was banter involved. I don't do banter.
Luke Cage:You're doingbanter now, Fist.
Iron Fist:No, I'm not.
Luke Cage:I didn't say it was goodbanter.

New Avengers

A common trend for characters in works of fiction is to shrug off danger or laugh at it. In totally serious drama, characters might be crying in fear or "shell-shocked" from life-threatening situations, but in any other genre, characters react to danger in any number of more calm ways:

  • Crack a joke or make a sarcastic comment about the danger.
  • Crack a joke to get people's attention. (e.g. someone hanging from a cliff says "Hey guys? Over here!")
  • Argue or speak casually while the danger is going on, usually about something tangential. Bonus points if the argument briefly stops for one of the heroes to shout "look out!" and then resumes shortly afterward. Points also awarded if a character in danger suddenly focuses on a complete non-sequitur to the action ("Your hair looks fantastic!").
  • Act as if the danger is real in their dialog, but speak calmly about it. See also This Is Gonna Suck and Danger Deadpan.

Depending on how it's handled, the first three occur most often in comedic shows, while the last one is most common in shows that don't lean too far towards humor, or want to be more realistic. The first three also happen fairly often in more serious works, but often with an edge of sarcasm or bitterness, implying that the hero isn't feeling particularly mirthful about the situation.

There's some truth to this. People in real life professions such as police or military become so used to life-threatening situations occurring every week, or even multiple times a day, that they end up engaging in Casual Danger Dialog all the time. For example, Evan Wright's nonfiction book Generation Kill has accounts of United States Marines under heavy machine gun and mortar fire and in the middle of pitched gun battles remaining calm under pressure. Even ordinary people can end up this way, as it's well-known that many people use humor or sarcasm as a way of coping with stress or fear; see Gallows Humor, Stiff Upper Lip, and Street Smart.

Usually done for comedic effect in comedies, naturally. May involve some amount of Acoustic License. Compare Talking Is a Free Action. See also Distracting Disambiguation. Contrast Say My Name and Big "NO!", which involves meaningless exclamations that can seem as unrealistic as a quip. Truly Failure Is the Only Option when dealing with dramatic dialogue. The other intended effect is to communicate just how used to these situations the heroes are. When things are so bad that they don't do it, see Sarcasm Failure. If the person receives a phone call during a tense situation, and picks it up to complain about the timing of the call, see Kinda Busy Here. See Seinfeldian Conversation and "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate for meandering/meaningless arguments to be had in situations such as this.

A subtrope of Bathos. Sister trope to Flirting Under Fire and Snark-to-Snark Combat. Compare Opponent Instruction.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 

  • One GEICO ad has golf commentators calmly discussing a game, keeping this up even as a Kraken emerges from the water hazard and wreaks havoc.

    Commentator 1: Looks like we have some sort of sea monster in the water hazard here.
    Commentator 2: I believe that's a kraken, Bruce.
    Commentator 1: It looks like he's gonna go with the Nine Iron. That may not be enough club.
    Commentator 2: Well he's definitely going to lose a stroke on this hole.

    Anime & Manga 

  • This is a pretty common occurrence throughout the English dub of Digimon. Sure the Digidestined may be facing a monster that holds the fate of the two worlds in its hands, but that won't stop them from making small talk and cracking jokes during the battle. All of them are 12 or under so it's likely a combination of stress relief and trying to distract each other from the situation. Team DadJyou tends to engage in this the least which fits his more serious nature.
  • Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop shows this kind of behavior every time he is in a dangerous situation, probably because he already thinks he's living on borrowed time, and anyone he meets could be coming to collect. One notable exception is during his fight with Tongpu. That guy must've been too freaky, even for Spike.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion. During the JSSDF assault on NERV's headquarters, Misato is cracking jokes, but then again, she's singlehandedly demolishing the entire JSSDF squad that's hunting down Shinji.
  • Boss Chang from Black Lagoon engages in this during the Hansel & Gretel arc. Chang and a group of his Mooks are outside Verrochio's place and he casually mentions, "You may want to duck". Seconds later one of Verrochio's goons goes flying through the air and the Mook ducks and barely manages to avoid being hit by the body.
    • He also does this during the "Goat Jihad and Rock and Roll" arc, engaging in banter with Revy and generally being ultra cool as the two of them blast up terrorists to lead the others out.
  • The title character in Inuyasha does this regularly. One of the earlier examples has him calmly walking towards his gigantic wolf-like older brother muttering "yeah yeah, 'roar roar' to you too."
  • Knuckles and Rouge play this out in an episode of Sonic X. The building they are in is collapsing around them, bombs they set up are about to explode, and all they can do is argue with each other.
  • In K: Missing Kings, Kuroh and Misaki have such an easy time beating the mooks from Jungle that they can just stop for Kuroh to play one of his late master's haiku and ask Misaki what he thinks, complete with sparkle.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The first episode of Dragon Ball has a memorable example when Bulma is abducted by a pterodactyl while taking a bathroom break. After Goku defeats the pterodactyl and she ends up with her shirt caught on a tree branch on a cliff, she shouts "I'm having a crisis over here!" with an annoyed voice. If you look closely, her "crisis" isn't the near-death situation. She never got to go to the bathroom, and is now peeing down the cliff.
    • Dragon Ball Z has a tradition for Goku to turn up at the last second, see all his friends beaten to death or near-death by the latest super-powered villain, and completely ignore the villain in favour of ensuring his friends' safety and having a chat with them. Examples include when he finally turns up to face Nappa, and finally recovers enough to face Frieza. He also tends to chat with the villain, like him having casual conversations with Frieza about fighting styles before things became really serious. In Super, he wishes Bulma a happy birthday and apologizes for not bring a gift when Beerus is ready to blow up the planet.
  • Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran. Overlaps with Excuse Me While I Multitask; the title samurai throws thugs around while hitting up her partner for lodging cash. Her partner has been imprisoned in a dungeon and she's breaking in.
  • The manga Assassination Classroom starts off with Koro-sensei casually dodging a heavy barrage of gunfire from his students while he calls out each of their names to take attendance. When one student fails to answer back, Koro-sensei politely asks him to speak up over the sound of the gunfire before resuming the roll call.
  • In Classi9, Tchaikovsky casually comments on a furious Wagner’s "boring" behavior after kicking him down so Beethoven could douse him in alcohol. He also gave advice to Brahms on how to insult someone while Wagner was grabbing him by the collar and shaking him because he had insulted him.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins: In the Great Battle Festival arc, Meliodas and Ban spend the entirety of their first fight arguing over whether Elizabeth or Elaine is better... While defeating the bird demons relentlessly attacking them without even realizing it.
  • In episode 6 of Excel Saga, an avalanche is careening towards the city security team. Sumiyoshi's reaction? "Yup."

    Comic Books 

  • Some form of this will happen if two heroes end up in the same room together.
  • Spider-Man loves doing this. Depending on the Writer, this is either a coping mechanism for fear (if he's cracking jokes, he's too distracted to be afraid) or boredom (he fights by instinct and thinks so quickly, battles might as well be in slow-motion, giving his upper thought processes spare energy to devote to a running commentary). Spidey, and thus the fans, refer to this type of dialogue as "quipping".
    • His quipping has also been called a mode of managing his enemies: if he keeps them annoyed enough, they'll only target him, as opposed to nearby civilians, and if he keeps them angry enough, they get sloppy.
    • Spidey's tendency to chat mid-battle seems to be infectious: the New Avengers can hold entire conversations while surrounded by ninjas/demons/copycat villains.
  • The Adventures of Aero-Girl: At one point, Aero-Girl is forced to take a phone call from her mom in the middle of a battle with the Bearded Lady.
  • Deadpool, being a Cloudcuckoolander, has weaponized his to the point that his enemies have problems focusing on the task at hand. It's occasionally contagious: when working with the X-Men, he caused Beastto spout off some bad puns.
  • In Gotham City Garage, Dick Grayson and Kara Gordon argue as to what Dick's batons are called as being chased down by a killer giant robot. Kara lampshades it:

    Kara: You really think this is the time for a semantics debate?

  • Hilarious example happened in Secret Six. Deadshot and Jeanette were meeting with the client at the edge of a cliff. When the client appears, his personal female killer grabs Deadshot by the throat and holds him over the cliff. Meanwhile the client's personal assistant monologues about how the best way to control someone is the death threat, and to prove his point, asks Deadshot what he thinks, knowing that his slightest whim can mean his death. Deadshot responds that he wasn't listening because he was too busy having sexual fantasies.
  • Asterix: Asterix and Obelix do this many times when they singlehandedly and casually beat the crap out of Roman legions. It certainly helps the fact that they are powered by a magic potion which grants them superhuman strength.
  • In Uncanny X-Men, Madelyne Pryor once took time out from being tortured to have a chat to a friend. Okay, to a demon.
  • Batgirl: Stephanie Brown -alias Batgirl II- is an expert at this, often sharing wisecracks with her mission control while in the middle of a fight. When she and Supergirl are being strangled by Dracula in issue #14 of Batgirl (2009), Batgirl tries to apologize for how their night out has been sidetracked.

    Batgirl: I hope you won't hold this against me.
    Supergirl:That's What She Said.
    Batgirl: You're funny.
    Supergirl: I try.

    • Stephanie and her frequent boyfriend Tim Drake used to bounce puns off each other and have discussions while fighting criminals when they were still going by Spoiler and Robin. One of Tim's standout examples however came later in Red Robin when he responded to being cornered by a furious Ra's Al-Ghul realizing just how much damage Tim managed to do to his system with a laid back: How can I help you, Ra’s? Computer trouble?
  • The Young Avengersso much.

    Speed: Just so I know: Are we going to stand here and bicker all day or are we going to fight the bad guys?
    Stature: We usually manage to do both at the same time. We're that good.
    Speed: I'll try to keep up.

  • Boneyard does this a few times.

    Paris: Are you trying to scare me? Because, good job. Nice use of terror.

  • The Doom comic is filled with Casual Danger Monologues.
  • The first issue of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! sees the captain (a cartoon rabbit) falling from a great height, seemingly to his doom. He spends the entire plummet making punny observations about the situation, and ends by casually wondering if human beings would make stupid puns at a time like this. Pig Iron catches him, btw.
  • The Rat Queens do this on a nearly constant basis during their fights.
  • In PS238, several of The Revenant's scenes have him simultaneously conducting a phone conversation and fighting a villain.

    "Whoop. He's got a bomb. I'll call you tonight, all right?"

  • MAD movie parodies frequently have characters (including those on opposite sides) having long conversations during battles, chase scenes and other dangerous situations, often commenting on the absurdity of the story.
  • One issue of Runaways has the team continuing to play a game of truth-or-dare while battling a host of giant snake monsters.
  • When Captain Atomended up in the WildStorm universe, he ran into the Wild C.A.T.s. They considered him such a low-level threat that they paused to have an impromptu trivia contest to determine which one of them would be responsible for kicking his ass.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Diana and Steve Trevor have a rather relaxed conversation while staging a slave revolt on Saturn, destroying all the infrastructure that had been built for an invasion of earth and stealing a ship. Though even Steve thinks it's a bit ridiculous that Diana's first concern when they're on said ship is that her shoes are missing, and he can't quite stop laughing.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Kanto has a relaxed conversation (at least on his end) while Artemis tries to kill him. It just makes her more mad at him, but he seems to be sincere when he says he loves her since when he has her dead to rights he just knocks her out and places her somewhere where she'll be safe from his master Darkseid.
  • Ultimate X-Men: Cornelius can not understand the X-Men's need for it, and wonders if it is a response to a nervous breakdown.
  • Street Fighter: Ibuki casually tells Sarai that ninjas do not take prisoners and they just kill while they both alongside Elena, Makoto, and another ninja were trapped inside a net another ninja clan used to kill them. Though it is worth noting (even though Ibuki wasn't aware) they wanted to kidnap Ibuki and didn't care about the rest so they would have had no problem disposing of everyone else.
  • In Superman storyline Way Of The World, Supergirl is asking Wonder Woman advice on how to help a little boy as both heroines are stopping a gang of bank robbers (whom they are barely paying attention to).

    Fan Works 

  • There are several examples of this at LOTR spoofs.net, an excellent example being the bottom left image on this page.
  • Code: Pony Evolution: When Applejack falls to her certain death, she says, "That was mighty impolite of him to throw me down here like this."
  • In Imaginary Seas, Percy keeps up his typical quippy remarks in the face of danger, snarking all throughout his fight with Caenis about her Stripperiffic outfit. Chiron is no slouch either, saying that he's having a "slightly difficult day" while murdering scores of Olympus' soldiers with Pankration.
  • Ponyville Goes to the... Dragons??: Despite the fact that they're in a massive battle against the Canterlot Royal Guards at the time, Spike and Spyro end up pausing during it to discuss one another powers.
  • Enemy of My Enemy, a Halo 3 fanfic, has Shipmaster Vtan, alone with a jammed weapon, hearing the enemy charging at his position and absently remarking, "Disconcerting."
  • In Oh God Not Again!, this is often used by Harry (along with a great deal of sarcasm) every time he and Voldemort have a showdown.

    Voldemort: You have been taught how to duel, Harry Potter?
    Harry: I've been taught to drop my wand and summon snakes. Our dueling club was kind of substandard.

  • In Hogyoku ex Machina, Ichigo, his hollow and Yamamoto discuss whether or not it's possible to bind two zapakuto to a shinigami at once. All while Tensa Zangetsu and Muramasa try to kill each other about 20 feet away.
  • In chapter 19 of Ace Combat: The Equestrian War, this conversation between Firefly and Rainbow Dash as they escape from Fortress Intimidation:

    Firefly: You know... this is probably the most intense flight I’ve had in my life! Hahaha!
    Rainbow Dash: Yeah... but we gotta make it out of here, so we can live to tell others about it!
    Firefly: Let’s speed up! Now it’s only a straight way out! There’s a light in front of us!
    Rainbow Dash: I hope it’s not a passage to the other world! [laugh]

  • Examples from the Calvinverse:
    • From Attack of the Teacher Creature:

      Calvin: Okay, so it's not the hamster home university, but at least our monsters stay under the bed. They don't come out. Like that one, for instance.

    • From Calvin and Hobbes: The Series:

      Calvin: How many people are in this pyramid?
      MTM: Hmmm, let me see. Counting you, Hobbes, Socrates, Andy, that hamster and the five dead people following you down the hallway... ooooh... about ten.

    • Another example occurs in "Dr. BrainChill", wherein Dr. Brainstorm and Jack chat idly while a fight rages on around them.
    • The Recursive FanfictionThe Pez Dispenser and the Reign of Terror uses this when Socrates calmly exchanges banter with his Evil Knockoff right after it's given him five nasty cuts.
  • In part 1 of Hard Being Pure, Phobia is in the middle of a battle when Dr. Evans calls her.

    "Evans? Hey don't go yet. I'm free to talk right now. It has been so long since we last had a chat.” A few more gun shots were heard, along the ping of bullets against metal, followed by screams of agony. He heard her shout in the back, her hand pressed against her cell phone muffling the sounds, 'Do you mind?! I'm taking a call here!!' “Geez, no manners at all."

  • The Pony POV Series has a fight scene in the Dark World between the Elements of Harmony and Discord's Mooks that's so one-sided that Applejack and Rarity are able to have a philosophical debate while kicking flank.
  • Burning Black has Timmy attempting a Big Damn Heroes rescue of Tootie and holding back a massive inferno of explosions with a slowly failing shield. She shows up, having busted herself out, and proceeds to argue with him over how bad of a job he's done on it himself, then takes her time on figuring out what to do about the raging fires about to break through the shield while still trading snarks with Timmy.
  • Fly Free has Robin start off her first meeting with Zabuza by having some small talk after he tries to kill her. She starts off the second by offering him and Haku tea.
  • Naruto: Demon's Path. Naruto, Haku and Zabuza end up trapped in the mansion by a villain. This happens:

    [Zabuza looks on as the wall locks up on him]
    Villain: Hello Mister Momochi.
    Zabuza: Isn't it supposed to be Welcome to my parlour said the spider to the fly?
    Villain:[sincerely] You'd be surprised how old that one gets.
    [meanwhile as Naruto and Haku deal with a Zerg Rush of guards]
    Naruto: Ya know... Zabuza's gonna bitch about how you didn't kill the guys upstairs right?
    Haku: I suppose so.
    Naruto: I can hear the lecture now. You boys need to get serious or it will lead to your death and more importantly mine.
    Haku:[chuckles]

  • In one story of the Facing the Future Series, Danny and Sam have a pleasant conversation while in the middle of battles with Technus and Skulker.
  • In New Look Series: Joe's New Look, Silvia tells Joe how to use his new combat form as the latter's fighting against Big John and his troops. Lampshaded. "We're in the middle of a fight, you damn cross-dresser."
  • Twilight and Trixie spends the majority of Unlikely Allies arguing and bickering even as they infiltrate the Lord Umbra's lair. Including defeating the villain's entire army of Tartarus-summoned beasts while arguing over the relative merits of Starswirl the Bearded as a contributor to the field of magic. And eventually devolving into petty name-calling, while still fighting. They don't let up until Lord Umbra parades out his greatest beastie... at which point Trixie just remarks that he must be compensating for something.
  • in Four Deadly Secrets Ruby does this, when she and Miltia walk into the middle of a confrontation between India and Venus and a gang of fauns.
  • Saetwo's Story: During the chaos of the Final Battle, Uloobu and Tyscene still manage to find the time to flirt with each other and set up a date for afterwards. Xekrai has to shout at them to focus on the fight.
  • During her sword fight with the Rat King in How Trixie (Somehow) Saved Hearth's Warming, Trixie and her enemy at one point have a polite conversation about why the Rat King's castle has so many flower pots in the frozen north and their mutual love of theatrics, including the fact they're only screaming at this point because they're having a sword fight and it'd be less dramatic if they weren't. Justified, as Trixie's using the conversation to distract him from noticing her plan to defeat him.
  • Child of the Storm is rife with this. From small scale fights to the epic melee of the Final Battle, everyone finds the time to make small talk and pithy comments, especially the teenagers - though in the latter case it's pretty openly stated to be a coping mechanism, and one that Jean-Paul frequently complains about. By the sequel, other characters are openly and incredulously asking a) how they find the time, b) why they do it, c) if this is what they normally do.
    • In Harry and Carol's case, it usually includes a rich vein of Flirting Under Fire, which they then strenuously deny, claiming to be Just Friends. Absolutely no one, from friends and family to secondary characters, one-shot characters, and major villains, is fooled.
  • This Bites!:
    • Happens in Chapter 7, while navigating the Grand Line's weather for the first time, after Cross has finished expressing how much he loves feeling alive, Nami snaps for him to get to work:

      Usopp: What happened to you enjoying living your dream?!
      Cross:[quietly] Nami's not a part of that dream, she's a goddamn course hazard!
      Soundbite:Headstrong!NOT SUICIDAL!
      Nami:I HEARD THAT!

    • Happens again in Chapter 39, while fighting against the soldiers of Enies Lobby.
  • In Sugar Plums this happens during the first chunin exams arc where Ume runs into the center of an all out brawl that has broken out during the second exam, starts fighting alongside Suigetsu and Chojuro while commenting on the fact that Chojuro got a new sword.
  • In Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium, during the attack on Adamant Fortress, Hawke takes the time to dryly criticize the fist-shaped battering ram being swung at the fortress doors.

    "That is the tackiest piece of siege equipment I've ever seen."

  • In the Resident Evil fanfic The Progenitor Chronicles, the MC does this during the attack on Bear University. He admits he really should be scared out of his mind and surmises it’s a defense mechanism.

    Rebecca: “You’re quipping at a time like this.”

    The MC: “I feel like I quip at any and all times.”

  • With This Ring:
    • The Sivana family are mostly Mad Scientists, easily intelligent enough to build a new kind of Death Ray and banter at the same time.

      Thaddeus: He won't have done that, Magni.
      Magnificus: Thaddeus, I'm trying to work here.
      Thaddeus: Well, you're being too slow! I fight giant monsters all the time! And some of them I didn't even create!
      Beautia: Boys! We're trying to fight a gravity monster here! Focus!

      Mister Atom: BEAUTIA SIVANA. CHECKING LOGS.
      Magnificus: Wait, what?
      Paul: Magnificus?
      Magnificus: He's got super moderator access to the system! I don't have that!
      Thaddeus/Georgia: I do. / I do!
      Magnificus: Oh, that's… Splendid.

    • Paul himself doesn't mind chatting with sufficiently Wicked Cultured opponents. At one point, he's fighting a Scarab warrior armed with a power ring, and his entire polite dialogue is spliced with narrative of the two of them duking it out.

      "Have we met?"
      Her armour glows green as her left arm morphs into a blade with a green edge.
      "I ask-"
      She disappears. Jam transitions, toss interdictors out of subspace and into local space, empathic vision-
      "-because-"
      -and there, x-ionised sword and parry as she phases back in, construct railgun loaded with phasic rounds and fire.
      "-if you're just-"
      Her sword is turned aside but she tracks my gun construct and shapeshifts reinforced armour. My phasic rounds aren't great against Scarab armour and fail to penetrate, prompting me to change my gun into a multi-barrel affair.
      "-here to-"
      Her sword morphs into a battering ram with a glowing green diamond head as she rushes me.
      "-pick up-"
      I re-aim my gun as I dart aside, sword coming down on the side of her arm just ahead of the crumbler round.
      "-the ring-"
      Sword hits first and the reinforced armour takes it. Crumbler round hits a fraction of a second later, causing the armour to ripple as the reinforcement fails.
      "-then you-"
      I swing my sword at her face while my gun trains itself on her chest.
      "-could-"
      She twists, limboing under my swing and phasing out.
      "-just-"
      Which means that when the phasic round hits, she reappears a few metres away with a noticeable hole in her flank.
      "-have asked-"
      Two construct pneumatic rams appear on either side of me and surge towards me.
      "-nicely?"

  • Greenfire: When a knight is preparing to attack Greenfire, Greenfire's voiced concerns are only of the Knight ruining his picnic with Rarity.

    Films — Animation 

This one's more shell-shock than disregard for danger. At this point in the story, Kuzco has been booted in the nuts by fate so often that the waterfall genuinely isn't all that scary anymore. It'll certainly be an improvement over the days leading up to this moment.
  • In Disney's Robin Hood, during the big fight at the archery tournament, Robin proposes to Marian and they then proceed to discuss plans for their honeymoon and how many children they should have while fighting off Prince John's goons.
  • In The Lion King 1½, when a stampede heads towards Timon and Pumbaa in the canyon:

    Pumbaa: Shall we run for our lives?
    Timon: Oh, yes, let's.
    [Both start screaming and running]

  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 has this exchange during the first major battle between the dragon riders and Drago:

    Hiccup: Welcome aboard, Dragon Rider.
    Eret: Uh, thanks, I think.
    Astrid: Where have you been?
    Hiccup: Well, y'know, catching up with Mom. [Astrid sees Valka, standing atop Cloudjumper in full armor, the Bewilderbeast behind her]
    Astrid:[amazed] That's your mother?
    Hiccup: Well, now you know where I get my dramatic flair.

  • In The Book of Life, the Adelita twins have a petty little argument during the battle. Granted, they're skilled fighters with years of experience and already long dead, so what else are they scared of? Not being able to join the fun?
  • From Titan A.E.

    Tek: It's time, Cale. It's time to stop running.
    Korso:[spotting the Drej entering] Well, actually, I think it's time to start.

  • In A Goofy Movie, Max and Goofy have an intense emotional argument while they and their car go careening off a cliff and down into wild rapids.

    Max: You shoulda let me stay at home!
    Goofy: Why?! So you'd end up in prison?!
    Max:Prison?! What are you talking about?!
    Goofy: Your principal called me!
    Max: It's not what you think...!
    Goofy: You even lied to me!
    Max: I had to! You were ruining my life!

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In the movie adaptation of Angels & Demons, Robert Langdon has this to say upon finding himself locked in a hermetically sealed vault in the Vatican Library with no incoming oxygen because the power is being cycled throughout Vatican City:

    Robert Langdon: Oh, that's disappointing.

  • The Avengers (1998) relies too heavily on this trope, as virtually no one shows any amount of emotion at any point in the entire movie despite being in mortal danger.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:
    • While he's not technically the one in danger, Alfred remains perfectly calm and snarky whatever Bruce, a man who's like a son to him, is up against.

      Alfred: I count two dozen hostiles on the third floor. Why don't I drop you off on the second?

    • Later in the film, Batman leads Doomsday, a massive Kryptonian monster, into the abandoned Gotham Port, hoping to find his Kryptonite spear, the one weapon that will be able to kill it. After having the Batplane shot down and nearly being vapourised himself by Doomsday's Eye Beams:

      Superman: Did you find the spear?
      Batman: I've been a little busy.

  • In Black Hawk Down, McKnight seems very casual under fire, conducting conversations in a neutral tone while everyone is freaked out about it and bullets fly by. At one point, McKnight calls one of his sergeants to ask for his status. The sergeant, driving a vehicle through heavy enemy fire, curtly replies that he doesn't want to talk about it right now.
  • Blazing Saddles has this dialogue exchange: "Am I wrong, or is the world... rising?" "I dunno, but whatever it is, I hate it."
  • Jake and Elwood engage in these during both epicpolicechases in The Blues Brothers. Not once do they acknowledge the police or the ridiculousness of the situation, instead commenting on interesting items and sales while driving through a shopping mall., including lines like "Pier 1 Imports," "This place has got everything," and "The new Oldsmobiles are in early this year."
  • In The Bourne Identity, the always understated title character is in the middle of a high speed chase, being pursued by the entire Parisian constabulary. Trying to keep calm for the benefit of his shell-shocked passenger, he remarks that "We're going to have... er... a little bump here." before driving a Mini Cooper down three flights of stairs.
  • Very common in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but averted in one famous scene: Butch gets annoyed when Sundance finally shows some emotion about being chased for days and cornered on a cliff overlooking a raging river.

    Butch: What's the matter with you?
    Sundance: I can't swim!
    Butch:[pause, then raucous laughter] Are you crazy?! The fall will probably kill you!

  • Similarly mocked in Carry On... Up the Khyber where Governor Sir Ruff-Diamond, his wife and special guests are having a sit-down meal while the natives are massacring the guards outside. This is because he said earlier:

    Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond: Do? We're not going to DO anything. We're British.

  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Imagine, if you will, the American president speaking over the telephone to the Soviet Premier in an extremely timid, friendly voice:

    President Merkin Muffley: Now then, Dmitri, you know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb... The Bomb, Dmitri... The hydrogen bomb! Well now, what happened is, ahm, one of our base commanders, he had a sort of... well, he went a little funny in the head, you know, just a little... funny. And, ah... he went and did a silly thing. Well, I'll tell you what he did: He ordered his planes... to attack your country... Ah, well, let me finish, Dmitri... Let me finish, Dmitri... Well listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it, Dmitri?... Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?... Of course I like to speak to you! Of course I like to say hello! Not now, but any time, Dmitri. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened. It's a friendly call. Of course it's a friendly call... Listen, if it wasn't friendly, you probably wouldn't have even got it.

  • In Foreign Correspondent, three characters chasing after a gun-wielding assassin discuss, among other things, the weather and the spelling of the driver's name. "How do you pronounce it, like a stutter?" "No, just a straight 'fuh'."
  • Parodied (of course) in Galaxy Quest with Fred giving the rest of our heroes bad news in a completely bored-sounding voice while stuff is exploding behind him:

    Fred: Hi, guys. Listen, they're... they're telling me that the... the generators can't take it, and the ship is... flying apart and all that. Just FYI.

  • Downplayed in Get Smart (2008). While chasing a bad guy, Max drives the pursuit vehicle through various hazards. When the car finally stops, a swordfish from a sign they crashed through has narrowly missed impaling the Chief. Throughout the chase, Max is discussing the broader situation and essentially oblivious to the car's surroundings, while the Chief is noticeably anxious about the various near-misses, especially the swordfish.

    Max:Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
    Chief: I don't know, are you thinking "Holy shit, holy shit, a swordfish almost went through my head!"? If so, then yes.

  • Ghostbusters:
  • Mikey Walsh engages in this in The Goonies, while Andy is trying to hit the right notes on the skeletal organ (where one more wrong note will send them plunging to their deaths):

    Andy: I can't tell if it's an "A sharp," or a "B flat." (which is amusing, since both refer to the same pitch, and hence, the same key on the piano)
    Mikey: Heh. If you hit the wrong note, we'll all be flat.

  • When Indiana Jones and his father are trapped in a burning room in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, daddy has such helpful observations as "The floor is on fire" and "Our situation has not improved."
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:
    • Indy pauses in the middle of a chase scene to give study advice to a student who has the chutzpah to ask for it when his teacher's just crashed through the library on a motorbike.
    • Later on in the movie, as Indy and Marion are sinking into a dry sand pit, he attempts to educate Mutt on the difference between quicksand and dry sand... while he is sinking deeper by the second.
  • James Bond is a perfect example of this trope, particularly when it's someone else's danger.
  • Taken to something of an extreme in the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans. As Major Heyward is dragged away to be burned alive in place of Cora Munro, he responds to Hawkeye's protests with a hurried, but nonetheless perfectly polite: "My compliments, sir. Take her and get out."
  • The Lethal Weapon movies are known for this, as Riggs and Murtagh are always arguing with each other over something during their various action sequences.
  • In Lord of War Yuri is held at gunpoint by Interpol, and calmly asks one of the agents if he would like a silencer for his new MP5.
  • In The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm, Sarah Harding and Nick van Owen are stuck inside a two-section bus that has partly been pushed of a huge cliff (they're in the hanging part, of course), the bus is slipping, the glass window on the low end of the bus already broke, and oh yeah, the tyrannosaurus that pushed the bus to its current position is still around, with his partner, and the one remaining party member that could help them is apparently too nervous to know what to do, as this exchange proves:

    Eddie: What do you need?!
    Ian: A rope! Get us a rope!!
    Eddie: Rope! Anything else?!
    Ian: Yeah. Three double-cheeseburgers with everything.
    Nick: No onions on mine...
    Sarah: And an apple turnover!

  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In the Iron Man movies, Tony Stark is incapable of not saying sarcastically inappropriate things in the middle of life-threatening situations.

      Tony:You walked right into this one; I've dated hotter chicks than you.
      Brandt: That all you got? A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner?
      Tony: Honey, that could be the title of my autobiography.

    • The final conversation over the radio between Steve and Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger. They were making plans to go dancing, even when they both know Steve isn't going to make it. (Of course, this was a given both in the film's setup and the history of the character.)

      Steve: It'll have to be a slow dance, I don't want to step on your--

    • The Avengers has a lot of this as well. It's justified in a way, due to the fact that, though they had greater numbers, the Chitauri weren't exactly impressive fighters. Though the casual banter does go down significantly as the battle goes on.

      Tony: I'm bringing the party to you. [comes into view around a corner pursued closely by a giant armored space whale]
      Natasha: I... don't see how that's a 'party'.

    • Happens at least once between Thor and Lady Sif in Thor: The Dark World, with her commenting that everything was under control and him asking with a grin if that was the reason everything was on fire. Plus:

      Sif: All yours.

    • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Widow spends most of the film trying to get Captain America a date. She doesn't let up during fight scenes.

      Natasha:[after tossing a man off a roof] How about that secretary who works on the first floor?
      Steve: The one with the lip piercing?
      Natasha: Yeah.
      Steve: Yeah... I'm not ready for that.

    • Avengers: Age of Ultron:
      • During the final battle, Hawkeye is driving a car through a warzone with Black Widow in the passenger seat, discussing his plans to knock down a wall in his house to turn the dining room into a workspace.

        Black Widow: You do usually eat in the kitchen.
        Hawkeye: Whoever eats in a dining room?

      • Additionally, The Vision beans Ultron with Mjolnir then compliments Thor on the impressive weight balance of the weapon, to which Thor gives a few pointers on how to get the most out of the swing (though Thor's response seems to be more of an attempt to cover for his obvious surprise that Vision is capable of wielding Mjolnir at all).
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:
      • Rocket Raccoon's only reaction to seeing the giant, monstrous Abilisk land in front of them and start screaming is "well, that's intense."
      • While the team is fighting a Starfish Alien, Groot just stands around cutely waving hello to Gamora.

        Groot:[waving]
        Gamora: ...Hi.

      • Peter and Rocket have an extended conversation about finding some tape to cover up the "Death Button" that'll set off Rocket's giant bomb as an entire armada of spaceships have an epic Space Battle behind them.

        Rocket: Does anybody have any tape out there? I wanna put some tape over the death button.
        Peter: Nobody has any tape!
        Rocket: Not a single person has tape!?
        Peter: You have an atomic bomb in your bag, if anyone's going to have tape it's you!
        Rocket: I have to do everything!
        Peter: You are wasting a lot of time!

    • Thor: Ragnarok opens with Thor making idle chit-chat with Surtr while tied up and suspended in front of him.
    • In Avengers: Infinity War, Stan Lee isn't fazed by aliens invading earth anymore.

      Stan Lee: What's the matter with you kids? You've never seen a spaceship before?

  • Mocked mercilessly in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. One section shows British army officers in Africa completely ignoring a raging battle in their own campin order to have their morning tea.
  • In Monty Python's Life of Brian there is a character played by Eric Idle who casually tells the man sending him off to be crucified that he's been set free and then laughs and cheerily admits he was yanking his chain when the man believes him, and walks off to get his cross. Later he asks the guards what the hold up is and japes, "How 'bout a reach-around? We've got time." Upon being put up on the cross he tells Brian, "See? Not so bad once you're up."
  • The Mummy Returns:
    • The bus chase has some. Namely, it starts off with this:

      Rick: Oh, I hate mummies.
      Ardeth: Glad to see me now?
      Rick: Just like old times.

    • And it ends with this...

      Rick: You all right?
      Ardeth: This was my first bus ride.

    • Watching a ritual take place:

      Rick: Ya know, a year ago this would have been weird to me.

    • Running away from Elite Mook mummies, Eve tries to close the door on them. Rick answers with this:

      Rick: Uh... Honey. These guys don't use doors.

  • In The Muppet Movie, Kermit The Frog is informed that Miss Piggy's been kidnapped. Doc Hopper orders Kermy to step outside the hotel ..."My boys will meet you there." Kermit obeys ... and is immediately surrounded by goons levelling their shotguns at him.

    Kermit The Frog: Oh, um... are you the guys I'm supposed to meet?

  • In Murder by Death, Dick and Dora Charleston have an extremely nonchalant—indeed emotionless—conversation about the deadly scorpion on their bed which will force them to remain perfectly still, quite possibly for the rest of their perhaps short lives. Later, when the killer asks Dick how they escaped, he replies in a perfectly calm and carefree, cordial tone: "We didn't: it stung Dora. The poison's in her system right now. We have fifteen minutes to get to a hospital."
  • At the climax of North By Northwest, Roger and Eve engage in witty banter while dangling by their fingertips from Mt. Rushmore.
  • The Hong Kong film Powerful Four actually managed to cram a lengthy dialogue between two of it's heroes, Inspector Yiu Hung and Inspector "Fatty" Ho Sum, in the middle of the final shootout, despite having scores and scores of enemies firing at them:

    Yiu Hung: "Fatty! Hang on, I’m coming! You alright?"

    Ho Sum: "… don’t worry, I’m fine! (pulls open his shirt to reveal a vest) Man, I got a great bargain for this vest, at half price too!"

    Yiu Hung: "Wait, you have a vest? And a machine gun? You bastard, why did you keep all the best stuff to yourself?"

    Ho Sum: "Well, I could’ve gotten you a vest, but I don’t know your size…"

    Yiu Hung: "Just get a random one will do!"…

  • The Princess Bride:
    • The dialogue between Inigo and the Man In Black as the latter is trying to Climb the Cliffs of Insanity alone, with his bare hands, probably counts.

      Inigo: Hello there! Slow going?
      Man in Black: Look, I don't mean to be rude but this is not as easy as it looks, so I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't distract me.
      Inigo: Sorry.
      Man in Black: Thank you.
      Inigo: I don't suppose you could speed things up?
      Man in Black: If you're in such a hurry, you could lower a rope or a tree branch or find something useful to do.
      Inigo: I could do that. I have some rope up here, but I do not think you would accept my help, since I am only waiting around to kill you.
      Man in Black: That does put a damper on our relationship.

    • Then they spend their entire duel complimenting each other's skill in swordsmanship and discussing fencing techniques.
  • In the 2005 remake of The Producers, when Franz is pointing a gun at Max and Leo, Max quips to Leo "Remember when I said I'd tell you when we were in too deep? We're in too deep."
  • The Professionals from start to finish. A crowning example is the scene where Fardan rescues Dolworth from some Mexican bandits:

    Fardan: I wouldn't do that! My friend would die of a terrible headache, and so would you. [aims gun at head bandit]
    Bandit: And so would you. [the bandits close on Fardan with machetes drawn]—
    Fardan: So wouldn't it be more sensible if we both kept our heads?
    Bandit: Put down your gun.
    Fardan: If I did that, how do I know you would still be friendly.
    Bandit: Do I gotta kill you to prove I like you?

  • Happens with Danny and Ray throughout Running Scared (1986), even when the Big Bad is about to crush their car with a trash compactor:

    Danny: Oh sure, nag at me! Nagging's good! You still owe me ten bucks, and I never said anything!
    Ray: You want it now?!?
    Danny: YEAH, I WANT IT NOW!

  • In the intro of Sherlock Holmes (2009), one of Lord Blackwood's men attempts to sneak up on Holmes, only to be ambushed and put into a choke-hold by Watson. As Sherlock grabs and holds the man's nose to keep him from breathing further, Holmes and Watson have a rather pleasant conversation.

    Watson: I like the hat.
    Holmes: I just picked it up.
    Watson: Did you remember your revolver?
    Holmes: Ah. Knew I forgot something. Thought I'd left the stove on.
    Watson: You did.
    [man passes out]

  • In Speed Zone, Vic attempts to complete his assignment of killing Alec in the hotel's bathroom. While Vic is strangling Alec, a friend of his walks in and has a casual conversation with him.

    Alec: Clyde! It's me, Alec!
    Clyde: Alec?
    Alec: How've you been?
    Clyde: Oh, fine. It's just this bloody race thing is driving me around the bend. First it's on, then it's off, then it's on again.
    Alec: Really?
    Clyde: Care to introduce me to your friend?

  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Spider-Man 2 gives us the immortal "Hi... This is really heavy..."
    • It also gave us the train conductor sarcastically asking "Got any more bright ideas?" When Spidey's first attempt to stop the runaway train fails. Because imminent death is no reason to stop being a smartass.
    • You know Peter and Harry have finally put their past animosity behind them when they engage in some of this in Spider-Man 3.
  • Star Trek (2009): When George Kirk is making his Heroic Sacrifice to stop the Narada while his wife is giving birth on a medical shuttle. As the Kelvin is falling apart around Kirk, he and his wife decide to name their son Jim—and then the Kelvin kamikazes the Narada.
  • Star Wars:
    • Whenever anybody gets into a fight, they're unusually calm about it. "I have a bad feeling about this", anyone?

      Han: How are we doing?
      Luke: Same as always.
      Han: That bad, eh?

    • By the time of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are almost absurdly casual in the face of death. Anakin's response to meeting General Grievous is "You're shorter than I expected." When Obi-Wan enters a camp full of battle droids and General Grievous later in the movie, he introduces himself with "Hello there!" This shows that they've been at war for a very long time.
    • And, of course, the Coming in Hot scene after the Invisible Hand breaks in half:

      Anakin: We lost something.
      Obi-Wan: Not to worry—we are still flying half a ship.

    • The Battle of Endor. Most characters' voices show some controlled degree of strain or alarm at various points, but Wedge is calm and professional from "Red Leader, standing by" to "I'm already on my way out." In Star Wars Legends, he's said to have ice in his veins - he never panics. Which is funny when one remembers his alarmed observation on the size of the Death Star in the original movie.
    • Red Leader never raises his voice during the assault on the first Death Star (except for his jubilant "It's away!" when he launches his torpedoes, and his defiant scream as his crippled fighter is about to plow into the surface). Even when he announces the fatal damage that kills him to Luke, he calmly reports he just lost his engine and orders him to make his attack run, as calmly as if he were ordering dinner at a drive-thru.
  • In Suicide Squad (2016), Griggs' reaction to being held at gunpoint by Deadshot, a Professional Killer who had previously promised to kill him the first chance he got.

    Griggs: Ames, If this man shoots me, I want you to kill him and I want you to go clear my browser history.

  • Often in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), but particularly on April and Vernon's part as they slide down a snowy mountain in a truck cab - their conversation does not match their dire situation.
  • True Lies. When Harry and his wife are tied up by the bad guys, she asks if they're going to die. Harry listlessly replies "Yep," then continues with "They're gonna shoot us in the head or they're gonna torture us to death or they're gonna leave us here when the bomb blows up..." Made better by his following it up with a Badass Boast said in the exact same tone. Note that the former was the set-up for the latter, establishing the fact that he was, in fact, unable to lie: "They've given me a truth serum." "Is it working?" "Ask me something you know I'd lie to." "Are we going to die?" "Yup!"
  • From Twister, Jo & Bill are in Jo's truck. Bill is driving, and they're bickering. At one point, in a completely nonchalant tone of voice, Jo asks,:

    Jo: Can I drive?
    Bill: No!
    Jo: Then will you?
    Bill:[noticing truck has drifted off the road and is about to run into a parked farming vehicle] Holy shit!

  • The Wind and the Lion has pretty much every character nonchalantly commenting on their circumstances, whether it be kidnapping, imminent bloodshed or the threat of world war. At one point the protagonist, Moroccan rebel Mulai el Raisuli, is warned not to risk his life in a hostage exchange. Raisuli responds "What does my life matter? I've nothing else to do!"
  • In the Wizards of Waverly Place movie, regardless of whether they're hovering over a doomy canyon of doom, or trying to thread narrow walkways with falling pillars, Justin and Alex still find time to snark incessantly at each other.
  • Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. After blasting their way into a high security facility and just before he blasts into a room of guards armed with machine guns he quips at his boss

    Wilson: Stuck in an elevator with five guys on a high protein diet. Dreams really do come true.
    Stryker: Just shut it. You're up next.
    Wilson: Thank you, sir. You look really nice today. It's the green, brings out the seriousness in your eyes.
    Logan: Oh, my God, do you ever shut up, pal?
    Wilson: No. Not when I'm awake.

    Literature 

  • Adventure Hunters: When a booby trap in a tomb activates, Artorius and Lisa take a moment to make a bet: rushing water or giant boulder?
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Alice had a famous monologue about the curiosity of falling down a bottomless rabbit hole to her possible death.
  • Amelia Peabody and her husband have some interesting conversations: What do you talk about while crawling through the unstable, half-crumbled passages of an un-excavated pyramid, hoping that your 7 year old son is right when he says he knows a way out? The similarities of construction with other 12th Dynasty pyramids, of course!
  • Animorphs:
    • The Animorphs do this fairly often, and are self-aware about it. When Ax and Tobias have to infiltrate a slaughterhouse as the steer, they have the following exchange while riding the Conveyor Belt o' Doom.

      Tobias: So. Seen anything good on TV lately?
      Ax: Are you attempting to distract us from our fear by engaging in irrelevant conversation?
      Tobias: Yeah.
      Ax: In that case, I did enjoy watching The Simpsons. I assume that they do not represent some variant species of humans but are, in fact, humorous pictorial exaggerations of humans?

    • And in The Reaction, after Rachel's house collapses due to her uncontrollable morphing and she's trapped in the rubble (keep in mind that she's confused and terrified);

      Jordan: Rachel? Is that you?
      Rachel:[sarcastic] Well, who else would it be?
      Sara: That's Rachel, all right.

  • The characters in the Charlie Parker Series do this constantly, with Parker and Angel in particular often doing it intentionally to irk their enemies.
  • Colt Regan and his partner Alex have discussions about things like Jell-O while in demon-infested bars.
  • Remo Williams and Chiun of the Destroyer book series (to some extent, the movie as well) may be the most extreme example. Their combat arguments regarding Ung poetry, Remo's alleged unconscious seduction of flight attendants, who left the toilet seat up (all right, not that one, but they have covered toilets in more general terms), and suchlike are used to show that a few hundred soldiers firing assault rifles at them are barely worth paying attention to, let alone commenting on. If the threat's a yawner like the average Bond-style Dragon trying to repeatedly shoot, stab, poison, or bomb them, the authors sometimes (when writing from the attacker's perspective) don't even bother writing explicit lines of dialogue for the two, just to emphasize the disconnect and the frustration that an experienced, professional killer feels trying repeatedly to kill people who apparently don't even notice that they're being attacked.
  • In The Diamond Age, Carl Hollywood and an old British military man keep up a line of casual wisecracks while fighting their way through a rioting city. Hollywood understands that it's to maintain their courage.
  • The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher rarely, if ever, show anything but CDD during tense situations. In the narration Harry makes sure to note how he's only doing it to cope and is really scared shitless on the inside.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Percy Weasley transforms his brainwashed superior using a Sea Urchin Jinx, and states that he is resigning. Fred then remarks that Percy finally told a joke. Unfortunately, Fred dies right after.

    "You are actually joking, Percy... I don't think I've heard you joke since you were—"
    The air exploded.

  • Heralds of Valdemar: In the Mage Winds trilogy, Elspeth comments humorously on Kero's penchant for dry understatement, describing an incident in which, caught up in a flood that washed away half a town, all she wrote was "It's a little wet here, be back when I can."
  • Horatio Hornblower: In The Happy Return / Beat to Quarters, Bush and another lieutenant on the Lydia engage in an academic debate about the tactics of the Natividad's gun officer and how closely he's directing the fire... on the Lydia. They're interrupted when a shot hits home, and then use the hit for their counterarguments. Hornblower is eventually annoyed (and envious) enough that he tells them to cut it out. Hornblower himself makes quips during battle over the course of the series, but in his case it's an Invoked Trope to keep morale up as he never feels casual while under fire.
  • Even Rudyard Kipling did this. In The Jungle Book, when the villagers are turning against Mowgli for his Raised by Wolves behaviour, it's the wolf Akela who first recognises how much trouble Mowgli is in.

    The old Tower musket went off with a bang, and a young buffalo bellowed in pain.
    "More sorcery!" shouted the villagers. "He can turn bullets. Buldeo, that was thy buffalo."
    "Now what is this?" said Mowgli, bewildered, as the stones flew thicker.
    "They are not unlike the Pack, these brothers of thine," said Akela, sitting down composedly. "It is in my head that, if bullets mean anything, they would cast thee out."

  • In The Mahabharata, while driving a chariot during (through) the Kurukshetra war, Krishna notices that the horses look tired and stops fighting so he can bathe them in a magically summoned lake. (His bro, Arjuna, helps out by providing cover fire.) His gentle reassurances of the horses while he grooms them are therefore this trope.
  • Half of Kennedy's dialog in The Man Who Fell Into The Black Inferno.

    Shay: Any ideas?
    Kennedy: Maybe we should remind him very firmly that we're the good guys here.
    Shay: Any ideas that won’t get us laughed at?

  • Rachel Griffin: In The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, the eponymous Rachel (a thirteen year old girl) does this when the invisible wraith which has been feeding on their classmate suddenly turns its attentions on her, keeping calm and describing its position so the others can avoid it or take it out.
  • In Reamde, a number of characters spend quite a lot of time making dry observations during the protracted final gunfight.
  • In the Redwall novel The Long Patrol, during the required massive battle scene at the end of the book, two hares carry out the third kind of this trope while outnumbered 5-1. The book specifically notes that they "talked like old pals and fought like demons."
  • What with his not being at all afraid of death, Jaime Lannister elevates this to an art form in A Song of Ice and Fire:

    Jaime: Come on, let's see who's home. [opens inn door and finds a crossbow in his face]
    Crossbowman:Lion, Wolf, or Fish?
    Jaime: We'd hoped for capon.

  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In the various books of the X-Wing Series, Rogue Squadron is notably quieter on missions than when they're off duty. The same goes for the Wraiths - but unless someone's hit, they'll still try to have some back-and-forth. Wedge is often heard telling his squadron, "Cut the chatter".
    • Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor has Luke commanding in a battle where everything goes to hell. He's incredibly calm about the whole thing, and soothes officers who aren't taking it as well. He also records an emergency signal to be broadcast on loop. The narration mentions that his voice is low and "preternaturally calm".

      Luke: This is New Republic Cruiser Justice, Luke Skywalker commanding. Admiral Kalback is dead. The ship has broken up, and there are no escape pods remaining. I have taken the helm and will attempt to set down behind the dawn terminator above the north tropic. Begin the search for survivors at the coordinates on the encoded supplementary frequency. Good luck, and may the Force be with you. Skywalker out."

    • The Thrawn Trilogy: Grand Admiral Thrawn will routinely discuss minor matters with Captain Pellaeon in the middle of major battles, as well as instructing his subordinates to remain calm during battle.
    • During Clone Wars Gambit, Heterosexual Life-Partners Obi-Wan and Anakin bicker incessantly while plunging to their deaths or fighting against droids. Ahsoka seems to have picked this up from them as well.
  • Beautifully averted in the Stephanie Plum novels. While the protagonist normally maintains a running Deadpan Snarker dialogue in her head throughout the books, and can keep it together pretty well as long as the threats stay strictly verbal, or if other people are in danger or have been hurt (such as the time a cop she knew got shot,) any time she's in real physical danger she's shown to lose any semblance of bravery or wit, complete with panicked screaming, crying in fear, and occasionally dripping snot in terror. And even if she does manage to keep it together at the time, she's usually a nervous wreck afterwards.
    • Played straight by Ranger, who has a famously cool head, except for that one time when his daughter was kidnapped.
  • The Stormlight Archive: In Words of Radiance, Sebariel in the final battle, as a highstorm and an everstorm are closing in, threatening to wipe out everyone on the battlefield.

    "Dalinar!" a voice called.
    He turned to find the utterly incongruous sight of Sebarial and his mistress sitting beneath a canopy, eating dried sellafruit off a plate held by an awkward-looking soldier.
    Sebarial raised a cup of wine toward Dalinar. "Hope you don't mind," Sebarial said. "We liberated your stores. They were blowing past at the time, headed for certain doom."
    Dalinar stared at them. Palona even had a novel out and was reading.

  • A fine example in Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers. At the siege of La Rochelle, d'Artagnan and his friends go and have breakfast in a bastion in the middle of the battleground just so they can talk without worrying about the Cardinal's spies overhearing them. They win a bet by holding the bastion for the length of the meal, too.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • When Alan Partridge of the eponymousBritish TV shows is held hostage and in a head-lock by a mad fan, Jed, who insists that Alan visit Jed's s brother-in-law next weekend:

    Jed: Bet you can't guess where he lives.
    Alan: Erm...
    Jed: Go on, have a guess.
    Alan: Er, Nottingham?
    Jed: No.
    Alan:[hoarsely] Oh. Er... Chester?
    Jed:[slightly releases his grip] Where?
    Alan: Ches-? Chester. Near north Wales off the M56.

Series:

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
  • Breakout Kings gives us a particularly weird example when some kidnappers make their terrified victim call home:

    Julianne:[terrified] It's Julianne, I've been kidnapped... [suddenly calmer, to her kidnappers] It's call waiting, click over.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the episode "Bad Girls", in the middle of fighting some vampires, Faith asks Buffy if she has ever slept with Xander.
    • Glory would engage in this while Buffy was punching her in the face.
    • Lampshaded in the season 7 episode "Bring on the Night", where Xander's making jokes while the Potentials are scared to death waiting for night to fall and the übervamp to come crashing in:

      Willow: Xander? Newbies. Let's ease them in to the whole jokes-in-the-face-of-death-thing.

  • Burn Notice has Gilroy, whose last words are:

    Gilroy: Sorry, did I mention I'm attached to an explosive device? Perhaps you should run.

  • Castle:
    • In "Cops and Robbers", when Castle and his mother are held hostage during a bank robbery, Castle comments, "Mother, I find I'm no longer satisfied with the customer service at this establishment. I think we should take our business elsewhere."
    • In "Still", Castle does this while Beckett was trapped on a pressure-plate activated bomb;

      Castle:[entering the room with two lattes] Whatcha doing? Napping? 'Cause I can come back later.
      Beckett: Castle, what are you doing here? You promised...
      Castle: Yeah, I promised I'd leave. Didn't promise I wouldn't come back. Oh, I brought coffee for later when you're off that thing.

  • Lampshaded on Chuck when Chuck criticizes Casey for doing this.

    Chuck: "Did someone order drive-thru?" That's clever. Did you think of that on the way over here? "I think I'll say this when I CRASH INTO THE BUILDING!!!"

  • Doctor Who:
    • There are definitely elements of this in the Doctor, justified given the Doctor's perilous and bizarre way of life. Topics include romantic issues, bananas, little hospital shops, dancing, and whatever random topic is on the Doctor's mind.
    • The Doctor does kinda get to play this both ways. Half of the time he's genuinely fearful when he's quipping and he's relying on his gob to at least misdirect the Monster of the Week for a few seconds, but other times he just knows the threat's beneath him and decides to have a laugh with it. Compare the way that he acts around the Daleks, who he fears more than anything else in the universe and yet happily taunts just to see how long they'll keep him alive, to the way he treats the Sycorax, who he flat-out ignores in order to quite nonchalantly reintroduce himself to a small group of Londoners.
    • The "maturity" of a companion can usually be gauged by their ability to engage in small talk in the face of danger. Of course, not all of the Doctor's companions appreciate this ability when they're in distress.

      Amy: Is this really important flirting? Because I feel I should be higher on the list.

    • The Doctor did plenty of this before the Time War as well. It's quite common in the series for him to mock his captors or have a quippy conversation with a companion while faced with death, especially if the villain has insulted him. To give just two of countless examples: when finally confronting Morbius in "The Brain of Morbius" and while under torture during "The Deadly Assassin".
    • And who could forget this example from "The Night of the Doctor"?

      Ohila: We restored you to life, but it's a temporary measure. You have a little under four minutes.
      Eighth Doctor:Four minutes? That's ages! What if I get bored and need a television, couple of books? Anyone for chess? Bring me knitting.

    • "The Husbands of River Song": River finally recognizes the Doctor when they're surrounded by dozens of armed and angry genocidal maniacs (not to mention a robot trying to steal the Doctor's head). They immediately go back to their normal flirty means of conversing.

      Evil Concierge: Excuse me, but what is this!?
      River: Hush now, mummy and daddy are talking.

  • Falling Skies, Hal reminisces about his old girlfriend "Rita" with Maggie while hiding in a car from patrolling Mechs.
  • Farscape, quite a few times. On one occasion John drops a bomb down a shaft after activating it, knowing it will probably kill them all:

    John: Yeah. It should go off in about... 60 microts.
    Chiana: And then it explodes?
    John: Yeah.
    Chiana: A big explosion?
    [John grunts noncommittally; the nuke hurtles, chittering furiously, down the newly created shaft; suddenly, John remembers the Democracy Thing]
    John: Oh. God — we should have voted. [louder, desultorily] All in favor — show of hands. [he raises his and the others stare at him; then Aeryn and Scorpius raise theirs — a little] All opposed. [Chiana and D'Argo cast their votes] 3 to 2 — Sikozu abstains.
    [later]
    Rygel: Crichton! What the hezmana just happened? Where are you, you fahrbot? Did you blow up the bomb? HOW COULD YOU BLOW UP THE BOMB?
    John: You missed the vote.

  • Firefly:
    • On numerous occasions. Most notably in the episode "War Stories", when Mal and Wash argue about shipboard romance while being horribly tortured. Earlier in the episode, when the two are ambushed and held at gunpoint, Wash's response is an annoyed, "Now I'm learning about scary."
    • It's subtly implied in a later conversation with Zoe that Mal was purposely invoking this trope when they were tortured by Niska as a way to keep Wash's mind off of the torture and thus keep him alive.
    • And the exchange as they're landing, "I'll likely crash, kill us all." "Well, if that happens, let me know."

      Wash: If Kaylee doesn't get more power to offset the burn-through, things are gonna get pretty interesting!
      Mal: Define 'interesting'.
      Wash:[deadpan] "Oh God, oh God, we're all going to die?"
      Mal:[over intercom] This is your captain speaking. We may experience some slight turbulence and then, uh, explode. [to Wash] Can you shave the vector?
      Wash: I'm doing it, it's not enough!
      Mal: Well, just get us on the ground.
      Wash: That part'll happen pretty definitely!
      [...]
      Jayne: Are we exploding? I don't wanna explode.
      Zoe: Hey Cap'n, we crashing again?
      Mal: Talk to your husband.

    • A few minutes later, after a tense argument between Mal and Simon regarding taking River on a mission, the ship shakes more than usual.

      Mal: Honestly, Doc, I think we may really crash this time anyway.

  • Generation Kill:
    • When Colbert spots hostiles camping no more than a dozen meters from their Humvees, his response is an incredibly calm "There's men in the trees." Beforehand, during the tense moment when the Humvees stop and create their traffic jam, Colbert is notably aware of how much of a perfect ambush place this is, and is calmly singing to himself while waiting for something to happen.
    • Person tries to get some coordination into Hitman's efforts to re-orient their Humvees and get out of what is, essentially, a traffic jam in a killzone. At one point, he walks out of his Humvee, approaches the next one over at a normal walking pace with bullets flying everywhere, asks the driver to "please back the fuck up," gets little in the way of a response, and calmly walks back, telling Colbert their progress getting out is "Not going well." He earlier complains about a panicked colleague babbling Portuguese in the same scene with the comment: "Fucking Baptisa, how would he like it if I joined the Brazilian Marines and only spoke English."
    • Nate Fick does this as well in the same scene, diving out of his vehicle and running to each of the others to give the drivers specific instructions. He's in as much, if not more danger than Person. One can actually hear Gunny Wynn in the background shout "Jesus Christ, Nate!"
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries was filled with this:

    Frank: After you.
    Joe: Me? You're the oldest.
    Frank: Yeah, but you're more agile than me, and stronger.
    Joe: Since when?
    Frank: Since right now.

  • Though not usually commenting on danger to himself, House is nevertheless absurdly calm when nearby patients show catastrophic symptoms. For example, in the 4th season episode "97 Seconds", House watches a clinic patient stab an electrical outlet to electrocute himself. Fitting his personality, he's more curious than concerned, first saying "Interesting." before doing anything else. After calling for a crash cart he pokes the man's lifeless body with his cane and says "I didn't do it."
  • Characters, especially Sawyer, do this all the time on Lost. For example, the following dialogue takes place while Juliet and Sawyer are hiding in the bushes from a group who just attacked them with flaming arrows:

    Sawyer: Who were those people? Are they yours? Did they shoot the arrows?
    Juliet: You want me to crawl out there and ask 'em?
    Sawyer: You don't have to be a wiseass.

  • Pick any episode of M*A*S*H in which there are firefights, shelling of the camp, shelling of an ambulance, shelling of a jeep, landmine navigation, snipers, massive amounts of casualties, insane people, or violent patients (in other words, close to three-quarters of all episodes). There will be massive quantities of this trope being produced during every minute of the episode, often in the form of Hawkeye insulting Frank or Charles and flirting with Margaret while Trapper or BJ makes wisecracks and Henry or Potter yell at them to shut up and pay attention, all while they operate on seriously injured patients and bombs fall all around the camp.
    • It's well established throughout the series Hawkeye, at least, delivers wisecracks to prevent himself from cracking up due to the madness of the war, and he also is trying to keep up everyone else's morale. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs, as eleven... three years of trauma (and uncovering childhood trauma) takes their toll and he ends up in an asylum making jokes that are far more bitter and alienate everyone.
  • This is taken to ridiculous levels note even for the time in Moonlighting, where Maddie Hayes and David Addison almost always argue, even when pursuing the criminal of the week.note It doesn't help that later seasons start doing Will They or Won't They? episodes...
  • The New Avengers: In "The Midas Touch", Gambit and Purdey have a casual conversation about who was the director of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre during a Car Chase.
  • In the season 2 finale of Nikita, Alex and Sean spend the whole episode trying to stop the bad guy from melting down a nuclear reactor in the US. Sean also spends the whole episode trying to get Alex to agree to go on a date with him:

    Sean: After this whole thing is over, this whole storming the castle, save humanity thing, I think you and me gotta go on a proper date.
    Alex: Are you kidding me?

  • Not the Nine O'Clock News has a sketch which is set in an episode of Question Time, after the Soviets have just launched the missiles. Most of the panel members continue sniping at each others' parties and using statements like "I think we're missing the real issue here, which is the government's appalling record on education reform..." while one Only Sane Man gibbers "We're all going to die!"
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In an early episode, the safety film in the long-distance lift is acted by a stereotypically smiley and bubbly air hostess type: "If you look to your left, and to your right, you will see there are no exits!" "In the event of the lift having to make a forced landing, death is certain."
    • Holly shortly before a comet hits the titular ship.

      Holly: Wait a minute. I've forgotten what I was gonna say.
      Rimmer: Well, it can't have been that important then, can it? [a meteor hits the ship]
      Holly:[in a cheerful tone] Yeah. That's it. "Look out, a meteor is about to hit the ship". I knew it'd come back to me.

    • In Quaratine, after Rimmer telekinesis'd an axe into Kryten

      Lister: Kryten man, you okay?
      Kryten:[deadpan] I have a medium-sized fire axe buried in my spinal cavity. [beat] That sort of thing can really put a crimp on your day.

  • In one episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, adopted son Luke informs Sarah Jane that he might be eligible to start university a year early. Sarah Jane suggests it might not be the ideal moment for the conversation, seeing as how they're currently handcuffed to a large alien bomb.
  • Scrapheap Challenge once had a fine example of British Understatement. "Could I have some water, please?" "Certainly, how much would you like?" "Enough to put out a small fire." "Where would you like it?" "On the fire, please." (The requester had set a seat on fire while welding in a car. Possibly scripted, but still funny.)
  • In the Smallville episode "Icarus", Oliver, Clark and Hawkman break into a government base separately and casually talk about Clark's love life while pilfering the bad guy's office.
  • Stargate SG-1: SG-1 do this a lot.
    • Notably, more than once Mitchell responded to a scary Ori's angry preaching with complaining that the Ori sound like his grandma. Sam also once responded to the threat of being run over with a spaceship with "Oh boy."
    • Lampshaded and inverted in "Bad Guys" when our heroes are pretending to be, well, the bad guys.

      [two women are arguing over a man]
      Daniel: What the hell are you doing?! Stop it!
      Hesellven: She started it.
      Sylvana: Oh. I think you started it when you kissed Harron.
      Daniel: Shut up. Shut up! You're hostages! This is like a, a life-and-death situation here. Start acting like it.
      Sylvana: Oh, please. You're not rebels. We're not deaf, you know, everyone in this room knows it.
      Daniel: That doesn't matter. You're hostages, we're... we're your captors. We're heavily armed. There's uh... there's rules, there's a whole school of etiquette to this. (pause) Don't eyeball me.

  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • In the episode "Space Seed," Khan wakes up and holds a scalpel to Doctor McCoy's neck, who had been treating him. McCoy calmly informs Khan of the most efficient way to kill him, and that if he doesn't intend to actually do it, he should put the blade down and let him finish his work. It was incredibly awesome.
    • In the episode "The Doomsday Machine", as Kirk watches as the titular weapon is getting closer within the rigged-to-explode U.S.S. Constellation, Kirk calmly tells his crew to hurry up with fixing the transporters before he ends up going up with the ship.
  • One combination Moment of Awesome/Moment of Funny occurred in the two-part Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 4 premiere "Way of the Warrior". It happens when Dukat and Garak (who hate each other) decide to cooperate to protect a Cardassian civilian council from an invasion of Klingons. It's Awesome because they do succeed in holding off the Klingons and Funny because Teeth-Clenched Teamwork means they're slinging barbs at each other while fighting the Klingons at the same time.

    Garak: I find this hand-to-hand combat really quite distasteful!
    Dukat: I suppose you prefer the simplicity of an interrogation chamber!
    Garak: You have to admit! It's much more civilized!

  • Super Dave would engage in this during the stunt segments of his variety show. One example is his safety lesson explaining what to do if you get rear-ended and his demonstration of using the rear view mirror. It should be noted that Fuji is driving a large truck with a push plate in this scene.

    Super Dave: Okay, I'm checking my rear view mirror. I see Fuji. I'd say he's about thirty yards back. I check again and now he's about ten yards back. I check again and now I can see my life is over.
    [Fuji drives into the back of Super Dave's car and crushes it against the wall]

  • This is how Supergirl meets up with her cousin Superman in the first episode of Supergirl season 2.

    Superman:[flying up to Supergirl as she's trying to slow the damaged Venture shuttle] Need a hand?
    Supergirl: Hey, cuz!
    Superman: It's good to see you.
    Supergirl: This... looks like a job for the both of us.
    Superman: Absolutely. [cue cousinly heroics]

  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron, being, well, Cameron, always speaks this way in combat situations. At one point, she's pinning another Terminator in place that's trying to crush her and kill everyone else, asks for a knife and then pliers to extract its chip in the same tone one would order coffee. Later on, after punching another rampaging Terminator through a wall and blowing it apart, she glances to Derek and remarks "Sometimes they go bad." as if she'd just stepped on an insect.
  • On Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson spends the entirety of a filmin which he is chased by baddies in a Corvette through a shopping center reviewing aspects of the Ford Fiesta he is driving and commenting on the shortcomings of the more powerful 'Vette.

    Clarkson: The baddie has made the classic baddie error... he's got too much power. I've got 120 hp in this. You don't want any more than that on marble.

  • Done often in The Wild Wild West, whose heroes are experienced Secret Service agents who react to every threat with Witty Banter.
  • In Wolf Hall, this is Cromwell's reaction when told that Henry VIII has died in a jousting mishap. His initial response is a calm "Oh." (This is followed by slipping a dagger up his sleeve as he departs for the scene.) When he gets there, he details the immediate future to Rafe: they have to get Princess Mary away from the Boleyns, or she'll die. But if the Catholics get her on the throne, he'll die. Either way they'll have a civil war. At best he sounds somewhat distracted as he pushes his way through the crowds around the unconscious king.
  • The X-Files:
    • Mulder has a tendency to do this. In the episode "The Pine Bluff Variant", while trying to infiltrate a domestic terrorist group, he is led to a darkened warehouse where one of the leaders attempts to see whether or not Mulder is a spy for the F.B.I. When the bag that was covering Mulder's head is removed and he sees where he is, he quips "Is this the Pepsi Challenge?" When the leader remarks that this is a method he uses to learn the truth, Mulder's response is "Well, you might want to put that hood back on, unless you want to see a grown man cry."
    • And then there's this classic, when Mulder and Scully are examining a weird viscous substance:

      Mulder:[puts his fingers in the substance to examine it]
      Scully: It almost smells like... [realize] Oh, God, Mulder, it's bile.
      Mulder: ...So, is there any way I can get this off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?

    Music 

  • Though it may be an artifact of the nature of the song, C.W.McCall's Wolf Creek Pass has this bit in a near deadpan:

    And I said Earl I'm not the type to complain, but the time has come for me to explain that if you don't apply some brake real soon they're gonna have to pick us up with a stick an' a spoon

    Toys 

    Video Games 

  • Non-scripted versions of this can happen in online gaming: while simultaneously fighting the enemy team in a first-person shooter, players with microphones may engage in friendly conversation or discuss upcoming media releases that have nothing to do with the game they are playing.
  • In Alan Wake, while Alan and Barry are holding off waves of Taken from a concert stage, Barry talks about things like the large amount of ammo around, the pyrotechnics, and how bad this 1970's-era wiring is. But this takes the cake:
    Barry:Al, this may be the most AWESOME MOMENT of our ENTIRE LIVES!
    Alan:They are trying to kill us! That'sthe high point of my life? Really?
    Barry:"Children of the Elder God"! Enjoy it, dammit!
  • Bayonetta series:
    • First Bayonetta: The Auditio are massive Angelic Abominations that each use one of the four elements and trying to kill Bayonetta. Verbally, she treats them like they're mild annoyances at worst. The clearest example is her casually talking to Temperantia while walking in to a tornado. Even as trucks fly around coming close to hitting her.
    • In Bayonetta 2's prologue, Bayonetta and Jeanne seem awfully preoccupied about their upcoming Christmas party. That would be casual enough, if not for the fact that they were at the same time fighting hordes of Angels hell-bent on killing them.
  • Deadly Premonition has Dialog During Gameplay that the player can engage in - in which York talks to his imaginary friend Zach - while driving around town, which is normally a safe activity. However, after midnight, zombies infest the town and giant zombie dogs are in the streets. The Dialog During Gameplay doesn't stop despite this, and the result is that you can drive around and talk to your imaginary friend, holding conversations about movies and previously worked-on cases, while seeming to be totally oblivious to the numerous zombies and demon dogs trying to kill you.
  • Dragon Age II Hawke and crew, particularly Sarcastic Hawke. One example has Sarcastic Hawke standing in front of a powerful pride demon they just released.

    Hawke:[deadpan] Summoned a horror. Of course. Whywouldn't I do that?

  • Dragon Quest:
    • In Dragon Quest VII, when they were testing out the new "Party Chat" system, you could "Talk" to your allies during battle. (Of course, if you chose to "Talk" once too often, your enemies got a free round of attacks. Rude of them, isn't it?)
    • In Dragon Quest VIII, when Marcello is dangling above a gaping crater and certain death, his only reaction is to try to talk Angelo out of saving him.
  • Variation in the two Fallout games, where people tend to have casual danger dialog while getting hurt: You could imagine that "You popped a goddamn lung" was in fact said in a very serious way, but there's no way anyone could go "Crap, my eye's dangling by the optic nerve here" without it being a perfect example of this trope.
  • In Fallout Shelter, if you set up two dwellers to guard the vault entrance during a raider attack, they may have the same casual dialogue that they have while working anywhere else in the Vault. Three raiders are breaking into your vault, and they're talking about what their favorite pizza toppings are with guns at the ready.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy X all of the characters have a chance at doing this, though it's mostly Auron and Lulu, while Tidus, Wakka and Rikku drift more into boasting. One of the best examples is most definitely Wakka and/or Rikku pondering how much food they could get out of a particular fiend when they step up to fight.
    • Balthier, from Final Fantasy XII, deserves an honorable mention, for his behavior in the first level of the DS sequel, if nothing else. If Balthier is killed, one of the quotes he may utter as he dies is a calm "Is that your best?"
    • Final Fantasy XIII: Whenever your characters buff or heal each other, they usually give some variation on a mild mannered "Thanks.", even if they're fighting Demonic Spiders. Or soaring through the air from a launch attack.
    • In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, in the final dungeon, Lightning comes across a slew of dead monster bodies, noting that "someone's beaten me here." A floor or two down, she finds Fang duking it out with a Chimera:

      Lightning: Heh, I should have guessed.
      Fang: You all right, Lightning? Almost missed the party.
      Lightning: What are you talking about? Looks like you don't need my help.
      Fang:Stop playing hard to get, and get your butt over here! I know you're dying to get in on this!

  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem Awakening has plenty of this depending on what you're fighting when certain characters use their battle quotes. You could be fighting hordes of Risen (zombies) or high ranking commanders of enemy armies, but that doesn't stop Henry from saying "Oooh, ugly!" or Nowi from asking "Do you like dragons?" before she blows stuff up with dragon breath.
    • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
      • Unlike other games, in which most support conversations take place at camp, the Support Conversations in Echoes are initiated on the map. While usually one can chalk this up to Gameplay and Story Segregation, a few conversations actually point out that they're in battle. Taken to an extreme in Lukas and Forsyth's DLC supports, where they talk about whatever book Forsyth happens to currently be reading on the battlefield.
      • This trope actually gets lampshaded hilariously late into the game, when Conrad angrily tells Boey and Saber to stop arguing when they need to fight off Terrors.

      Saber: Blast it all! This place is crawling with Terrors. So much for "begone to wherever you will," you damn useless priest!
      Boey: And what is that supposed to mean? You’re not actually thinking of leaving Celica in there and running away?!
      Saber: Did you hear me say anything about running away? Gimme some credit here, you little snot!
      Conrad: Stop flapping your jaws and focus on the fight! I'd prefer not to die here, if it’s all the same to you two fools!

  • Phone Guy in Five Nights at Freddy's does this in his phone recordings to the player. He's going through the same hell the player is — manning the doors, watching the security cameras, and trying to juggle both to conserve his power supply so he doesn't suffer a Cruel and Unusual Death — and the entire time he's casually chatting as if he's sitting in a break room. Even when he knows he's about to die, he's more or less calm when he tells the player that he might not be able to make another recording because "It's been a bad night here for me" which, despite sounding dire, is the understatement of the century. And Phone Guy still doesn't freak out despite the fact that in the background of the recording, you can hear the same tune that the player hears every time the power goes out and they're about to be brutally murdered — which means that Phone Guy was staring right at the thing that was about to kill him, knew what was about to happen, and was totally incapable of doing anything to stop it.
  • The Mantel Soldiers in Haze take this to an extreme, joking, rapping, and generally having fun in the middle of combat. This is intentional, intended to show how Nectar causes a disconnect from reality and humanity. The Promise Hand still uses the fourth type, though.
  • Henry Stickmin Series: Charles Calvin is among the royalty of this trope. He never loses his casual, friendly tone, even with a SAM turret pointed directly at him.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: You pretty much go through the entire game listening to the hilarious banter of all of the characters while you are in combat as Pit (and in one chapter, Dark Pit). Well, that is unless you deactivate the character commentary in the secret options, but considering the hilarity of the characters in this game, why would you wanna do that?
  • In Killer7, Benjamin Keane challenges resident badass Garcian to game of Russian Roulette. Benjamin attempts this trope with increasingly longer and intense rants between rounds. Meanwhile, Garcian just picks up the gun, puts it to his head, pulls the trigger, then passes it back each time. Benjamin probably thought he sounded cool, but his tone and hesitant straining on the trigger pulls suggests he scared and/or crazy. Of course, running a school with invisible, giggling, exploding zombies roaming the halls will probably do that to you.
  • Kingdom Hearts II has Cloud and Leon engage in a touch of this during the Battle of the Thousand Heartless.

    Leon: Think you can handle this many?
    Cloud: Well... might be tough if one more shows up.
    Leon: Then that'll have to be the one I take care of.
    Cloud: What, you're fighting too?
    [they charge; several Heartless die]

  • The Survivors of Left 4 Dead do this all the time, cracking jokes, bantering and insulting the Infected. They do get serious when they're heavily injured, though.
  • At the finale of the Pantagruel section in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel while the good guys and the bad guys are having a Mexican Standoff, the characters deduce that if they start fighting against one another, it would just end in a stalemate and Olivert thinks that's just no fun. Instead, he then suggests to throw a party instead which makes both the Ninja Maid and his rival to immediately jump onto that idea. Xeno, a Private Military Contractor, also jumps in by bringing in the booze while Duvalie and Altina can't take the casual atmosphere anymore and both want to take things seriously.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mordin Solus in Mass Effect 2 is a borderline example: He's a little too animated to consider him entirely casual, but consider this sample of his combat chatter:

      Mordin: Flammable! Or Inflammable. Forget which. Doesn't matter!

    • Most of Shepard and Liara's banter in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC. Shepard is obviously having fun during the frantic hover-car chase through the streets of Ilium, while Liara is naturally freaking out at sitting next to the galaxy's worst driver, while later both are surprisingly calm, considering that they are fighting their way across the surface of a really big spaceship, in the middle of a perpetual thunderstorm.
    • In the Overlord DLC opening mission, Shepard and his/her squad look up to see the giant satellite dish they just disabled starting to collapse on them. Shepard's reaction is a simple "You have got to be kidding me."
    • Shepard and Tali engage in some of this in Mass Effect 3 on the Geth Dreadnought if they are in a romance together, including some pretty suggestive flirting. If you bring Ashley, she has this to say:

      Ashley: Maybe we can talk about this when we're not on a damn geth dreadnought!

    • The Citadel DLC takes the cake for this, especially in the Archives, during which Shepard's entire team (and Wrex) all go on the assault together, and casually trash-talk and banter their way through the whole thing. Just another day, and Curb-Stomp Battle, at the office.

      Wrex: Uncle Urdnot is back in town, and he brought the BOOM! *explosions happen*
      Shepard: That some kind of catch phrase, Wrex?
      Wrex: Thought I'd try it out, see what you thought.
      Tali: Try again!

    • Shepard's reaction to being sealed in the Archives for the rest of time by their clone, is to be more concerned about whether or not they really sound like that or say "I should go" that often. Subverted when Shepard points out to their worried companions that they were never in any danger at all, since Glyph was still outside to unlock the door.
  • In Max Payne the titular protagonist deadpans his way through most of his gunfights.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Meryl and Johnny Sasaki in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, where they casually discuss their wedding plans while trying to hold off waves of FROG soldiers.
    • Snake and Venus in Metal Gear Acid 2. While the game's villain monologues about his motives, the two of them calmly chat about how to destroy the Metal Gear he's piloting and ask him to shut up when they get bored.
  • In Papers, Please, at one point a terrorist drops a bomb on your desk. Calensk the border guard comes by to assess the issue...and complains about how poorly-made the bomb is and how easy it is to defuse ("What is this amateur shit?"). Once you're done with the bomb and suggest closing the checkpoint, Calensk refuses because he needs to make money, and takes the bomb so he can sell it for parts.
  • In Portal 2, the main protagonist falls down a seemingly bottomless shaft, with GLaDOS falling down with her after having her AI transferred to a potato battery by the now-mad-with-power Wheatley, and commenting on the situation.

    GLaDOS:Oh, hi. So, how are you holding up? Because I'm a potato.[slow clapping]Oh, good. My slow clap processor made it into this thing. So we have that. Since it doesn't look like we're going anywhere—well, we are going somewhere; alarmingly fast, actually—but since we're not busy other than that, here's a couple of facts: [Wheatley]'s not just a regular moron. He's the product of the greatest minds of a generation working together with the express purpose of building the dumbest moron who ever lived. And you just put him in charge of the entire facility.[slow clapping]Good, that's still working. Hey, just in case this pit isn't actually bottomless, do you think maybe you could unstrap one of those long fall boots of yours and shove me into it? Just remember to land on one foot...

  • The Dude in Postal 2 remains remarkably calm while being shot, with many cheerfully making remarks.

    "Hey! Now I can't feel my legs!"
    "Oooh, right in the stuff!"
    "That's gonna be sore tomorrow!"

  • Quake IV: In an overheard radio message a Marine relatively calmly informs command he has a hole in his chest (paraphrased):

    Marine: I need a medi evac!
    Radio operator: Who is this? I can't get a read on your med chip.
    Marine: My med chip was damaged.
    Radio operator: What? That chip is installed near your heart!
    Marine: I know, I can see it.

  • Resident Evil:
    • In Resident Evil 2 (Remake), Leon and Claire have a rather casual conversation that sounds more like they are flirting than the fact they are trapped in a zombie-infested city. Even after a helicopter exploded, setting off an alarm and thus the zombies' attentions, the tone of their voices didn't change. It's possible however they are both trying to keep calm and not alarm the other.
    • Resident Evil 6 has all the main characters calmly talking about what they're going to do with whatever is trying to kill them at that moment in time. One fun example is when Leon and Hellena are sliding down a waterway (seemingly into the bowels of the Earth) while being chased by a giant mutant fish; they never raise their voices once. While Jake and Sherry sound almost bored when they're on a speeding elevator that's outrunning a fireball while simultaneously also attempting to defeat a boss.
    • Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles: Wesker might be combining this with Thinking Out Loud, or it might just be a very deadpan Inner Monologue. When Sergei Vladimir sets an Ivan on him, Wesker calmly says "This should be intriguing." Note that Wesker doesn't have his superpowers yet at this point.
  • Resonance of Fate does this a lot. Particularly in boss battles, you'll have chatter between your party and the bad guys, that doesn't stop while you're unloading clip after clip of bullets into the bad guy.
  • The main characters of the Shadow Hearts games have a habit of acting completely nonchalant in the face of ridiculous or particularly hammy villains. In one notable example in Covenant, whilst one villain is busy monologuing about how he will rip the heroes' bones apart and condemn them to a lifetime of torture, the party is in a huddle busily discussing how the villain is managing to levitate himself: "It's the pillow he's sitting on! I'm sure of it!" "You think so?". When the villain is finished ranting, main character Yuri has only one thing to say: "Where can I get one of those pillows?"
  • In Splatoon, when facing off against the Final Boss again after finishing the single player campaign, the members of Mission Control will start to casually chat with each other during the fight instead of giving tips like usual.
  • Sam Fisher of Splinter Cell fame never reacts surprised to any danger that erupts around him, speaking dryly and casually even when he has no idea how he's permitted to react at that point. It's implied that from all the battles he's been through, he's gotten used to the odd occupational hazard.
  • Stubbs the Zombie tends to elicit very... unusual death rattles from his victims. Most robots speak casually no matter what happens, presumably due to their programming. But even normal victims tend to have extremely skewed priorities, with shouts such as "That was my favorite arm!", "Now how will I juggle?", or even: "That was my second favorite arm!"
  • Tales Series:
    • This happens quite a few times in Tales of Symphonia, usually when Zelos is involved.

      Yuan:[after trapping the party] I have you now, you fools!
      Lloyd:[to Zelos] ...He just called you a fool.
      Presea: Zelos is... clumsy.
      Zelos: Oh man, I am so sad right now.

    • In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, during one event where the characters are being chased, there is a series of skits in which Tenebrae suggests a "Speaking Ban" because he feels the dialogue in the skits themselves is interfering with escape (ironically, it also prevents him from gloating over its success)
    • Flynn and Yuri in Tales of Vesperia. They fight together once and duel twice, and all three times they just can't stop snarking at each other:

      Yuri: Hey, this isn't the time to get worked up.
      Flynn: I am NOT worked up!
      Yuri: It's okay, don't hide it!
      Flynn: Would you be serious for once?
      Yuri:I am serious!
      Flynn: I can't concentrate with you talking all the time!
      Yuri: Well, I can't concentrate without talking, so... we're kinda stuck!

  • Team Fortress 2:
    • While most of the dialogue in-game is various taunts and unwarranted advice yelled back and forth between teams, some lines are surprisingly calm for a battleground, generally from one teammate to another.
    • The Spy will, when set on fire, occasionally say "I do believe I'm on fire" or "I appear to have burst into flames" without any hint of pain. Considering how the most useful way of finding spies is to set them on fire, it might just be commonplace to him by now.
    • The Sniper in Meet the Sniper, while taking aim at one of his marks.

      Sniper: I think his mate saw me.
      [bullet hits railing, Sniper and camera duck]
      Sniper:Yes, yes, he did.

  • Time Gal has a scenario in the B.C. 44 stage where Reika tries to pick up a guy... while swordfighting him.

    Reika: Hey, good-looking. You're my kinda guy! Oh, how old are you?

  • Warhammer: The End Times: Vermintide: Most humor in the world has been eaten alive by the Skaven, so making fun of them (especially the 'ninjas' who can't make a single parkour jump without yelling at their targets) is a good way of getting it back. By Vermintide II the five heroes are so comfortable with one another and dismissive of the Skaven and Chaos that the density of conversations and jokes has doubled if not tripled from the first game (which had more gloomy and loreful exchanges thrown in).
  • WET at the end of the game after being shot at twice by Rupert Pelham Rubi says, "Bummer. Sucks for you." This is in a tone of voice one would expect to hear someone use when they realized they dropped their wallet not when they just deflected two bullets and are about to take Final Vengeance on someone.

    Visual Novels 

  • Yo-Jin-Bo is full of this. Fighting an army of ninjas is apparently good fuel for the wit.

    Web Animation 

  • RWBY: Normally, people would be intimidated by fighting two large bear monsters. Not Yang, apparently. Between dodging their swings, she's casually teasing them and asking them if they've seen where her sister Ruby is. That is, until one of their swingscatches a strand
Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]

Vehicles purchased in Georgia from any source other than a registered car dealer must now be titled and registered within 7 business days from the date of purchase.

This new law replaces the former 30 day registration period. This will affect all casual sales between individuals and businesses. Dealer vehicle sales will continue to issue 30 day drive-out tags to customers as they have in the past.

The primary purpose of this legislation is to eliminate the often seen hand-written “tag applied for” signs.

The only method to legally drive a newly purchased vehicle now is to have either a dealer-issued 30 day drive-out tag or a temporary operating permit from the county tag office.

“It’s really a law enforcement thing,” said Floyd County Tax Commissioner Kevin Payne. “In the state of Georgia you cannot ride on the roads without having a vehicle that’s registered.”

If a purchaser of a vehicle cannot acquire the title within 7 days, the purchaser must come to the county tag office and register the vehicle.

The requirements for this registration are a bill of sale, current registration from the previous owner, driver’s license, and proof of insurance. The customer will then be issued a temporary operating permit good for 30 days from the date of purchase.

A metal license plate will be issued when the title is provided.

Police will be offering a 30-day grace period since most people aren’t aware of the change of law.

“What we will do is issue warning tickets for these violations for the next 30 days,” said Chief Elaine Snow of Rome Police Department.

Floyd County Police Chief Bill Shiflett said his officers will also give warnings for the next 30 days.

For any questions regarding this new law, please contact the Floyd County Tag Office at 706-291-5150 or in person at 4 Government Plaza in the Historic Courthouse.

Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Fiction is full of stories of shipwrecked people winding up on deserted islands (like Tom Hanks in Cast Away), or, more implausibly, getting stuck for months on a raft in open water (like in Life of Pi). Well, surprisingly, real life is full of those stories, too.

We spoke to Steve Callahan, who took off from the Canary Islands in 1982 to sail to the island of Antigua in the Caribbean, completing a circuit of the North Atlantic that he began in 1981. Eight days in, a whale rammed into and sunk his boat. Steve managed to escape to a life raft with supplies and drifted across the Atlantic for 76 goddamned days before he was finally rescued. We asked Steve how such a thing is even possible, and he told us ...

It's About Managing a Parade of Overlapping Disasters

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Right after a disaster strikes -- in my case, when my boat sank and I found myself adrift on a tiny life raft -- there's a period of recoil, the shock of feeling like your entire life has been flushed away. Ever see those movies where they say your life flashes before your eyes? Well, it happens. All your failures, everything from not making the JV jai alai team in high school to betting that the Red Sox would win the '86 World Series, come back to you. You think of people you treated badly. Some people don't make it out of this stage.

how i met your nnother

This year, thousands of people will die with the How I Met Your Mother finale as their last memory. Don't become a statistic.

I was adrift at sea for two and a half months, so I had no choice but to move on. After the initial shock (which for me lasted about two weeks) came survival mode. I fished, got water, made tools, and lived like an aquatic caveman. You've probably heard the saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention." Well, survival situations are that, but on PCP. You don't have a choice -- you die if you aren't creative.

Remember, in a survival situation, you are on a knife edge over a chasm. It is painful and dangerous, and -- maybe you shouldn't have been walking across knives in the first place -- there's no time for regret now. Your entire day becomes a series of nigh-catastrophic threats. If the raft springs a leak, this suddenly moves to the top of the "things to do to not die" list. However, that list is never only one item long -- hypothermia, for example, is actually one of the deadliest threats you face in a lifeboat. It can end you in hours, even minutes. The first few nights were the roughest -- it was cold out, and I was wet. Then it was way too hot, and I went from all clothes and blankets to no clothes and pouring water over myself to remain cool.

S

And you can't even yell at your kids for touching the thermostat.

Water was usually the second priority, and I had just enough to survive (a pint and a quarter per day, less than recommended) collected from rain and solar stills (solar stills being the devices that raise seawater to Waterworld levels of drinkability using condensation to separate out the salt). Food is a distant third priority. A lack of water will kill you after several days, but it takes a whole month to starve -- you won't live long enough to suffer the unthinkable agony of starvation unless you're lucky.

Then there were all of the miscellaneous annoyances, like sharks gnawing on the ballast tanks. It's never just one disaster at a time, is the point -- you have a lot of plates to keep spinning if you want to remain alive. And if you're wondering how a person doesn't have a mental breakdown after a while, well, that brings me to the most important tools I had on the raft: pencil and paper. I always used writing as a sounding board in journals, and it helped me distance myself from the situation. That alone let me maintain a regular routine and something that approached a normal life.

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

"Star Date 4315.7: Today, Ensign Gilly Buckwalter was killed and eaten by 'cannibals.'"

Well, maybe "normal" isn't the right word ...

You Get in Touch With Nature ... in Very Weird Ways

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

I'm going to take a stand here and declare that people are not meant to live in the middle of the ocean. No land, really dark nights, and the chance of a rogue wave hitting you are all big "NO HUMANS HERE PLEASE" signposts. But I had grown up in the wilderness and spent a lot of time out at sea -- I was probably more prepared for this than most. Even so, those weeks in the ocean utterly changed my relationship with the sea ... and the fish.

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

"You wish you were half the soldier Ensign Buckwalter was!"

After a few weeks, my raft gathered all sorts of life. It was almost like a mini-island out there, so there was algae and barnacles and fish gathering around me like I was an even less powerful Aquaman. I formed a relationship with those fish. I could identify them individually by remembering distinct colorings, scars, and behavior, and the same ones came back day after day.

Yes, I relied on them for food, but we got into this love-death relationship. Fish are friends and food. They are not packages of meat -- you are aware of their existence. I looked at them as my superiors. While I was suffering, they were swimming around, making love, and looking like they were having fun. They were in a much better position than me, and in the context of our environment they were almost smarter than me. Over the weeks and months, the fish fed me, almost killed me (by ripping a gash in my raft), and ultimately saved me by attracting birds, which lured fishermen from Guadalupe who know that birds can signal the presence of fish. This little mini-ecosystem that formed around my raft island led civilization to find me again, and wound up saving my life.

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Kind of like if Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! was written by Bear Grylls.

If that makes it sound like I started to get a little bit loopy out there, well ...

You Go a Little Bit Nuts

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

My dreams changed dramatically out there. Every time I slept, I dreamed of what my body needed. It wasn't just food, but oddly specific food. I never dreamed of steaks; it was always fruit and fats and bread. This is probably because I had plenty of protein from the fish, and also the ocean's notable lack of orchards.

My sense of taste also changed, and by that I mean I started to see fish eyes as candy.

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Like this, only with fish eyeballs.

Obviously I started eating fish. You know, it's not like you're going to run into a cow swimming around out there. But by the end of the voyage I looked forward to the eyes and liver, because they had all sorts of vitamins my body was begging me for, and that made the fish taste so unbelievably good. I ate delicacies you find only in exotic seafood restaurants not because I had to, but because I wanted to. You tell yourself it's gross, but you suddenly want it, because fish meat and water are driving you mad, and also you might be dying of some sort of deficiency.

This aspect is something that a lot of movies don't really touch on -- the way your body drives you to do the things that need to be done, whether you want to or not. When you read survival books by people who were never in critical situations, they try to explain survival as "the will to survive," as in having the courage to not just curl into a ball and give up. But survival is not a noble or admirable thing that only the most awesome humans pull off -- it's something we are hardwired to do.

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

"Hey. Hey, Steve. Hey. You're dying. Quit it."

People think they could never do what I did, but once in that situation, many of them would go from their normal city brain into a survival state of mind faster than they'd think. Your body is good at guiding you toward the things that will keep it from croaking, and so suddenly you're hungry for fish eyes.

The Sea Is Different (and Much More Horrifying) Than Movies Show

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Since my ordeal, I have been involved with several survival films -- there aren't all that many people out there with my, well, firsthand experience with the subject. For example, I was on the set of Life of Pi, working with director Ang Lee and helping make sure things were authentic in the character's raft. It's a fantasy movie, but we tried to make it as realistic as we could, including some things that nautical movies just never seem to get right (or rarely do).

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

"The tiger is supposed to be Siberian, you two-bit hack!"

For example, the water. To filmmakers and airplane passengers, the ocean is just a big, gray, wet expanse. When you're actually on that raft in the middle of the ocean, the water is clear and filled with fish and barnacles; it's this massively deep, dynamic, living body that's under you. Most movies blend shots of the ocean with scenes filmed on a sound stage filled with water (you're not looking to drown the actors or get your whole set wiped out by a rogue wave, after all). It all comes out looking like a shallow, lifeless pool. We tried to make the sea come alive, giving the surfaces and skies huge variety to make them resemble actual ocean surfaces, and I think we succeeded.

As for survival, most movies like Cast Away get the general human elements right -- we see Tom Hanks slowly adjusting, figuring out fire and masturbating in bushes. (That happened in Cast Away, right?) It's more the physical nuts and bolts of ocean-set survival films that get it wrong, mainly because it can be too horrible. When I was found off the coast of the French Caribbean islands, I was covered in salt water sores, which are open ulcers that form on the skin. Despite being out for less than three months, I had lost a third of my weight (Hanks lost about a quarter of his weight for the Cast Away role, for comparison).

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Tom Hanks got $20 million to do so.

We really couldn't show Pi as he would have appeared after 229 days adrift. People would run screaming from the theaters. In short, the open ocean is far more wondrous and complex than what film can convey, and what happens to your body is way more disgusting than can be shown if you want a PG-13 rating.

You Learn to Appreciate Life ... and Blind Luck

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

Water, like the husband in a Lifetime Original Movie, is unpredictable and violent. My boat and supplies deteriorated at an astonishing rate. I had line and knives, but I had to fix my raft with no glue or duct tape or, well, anything else that would actually be useful. I had a patching kit, but the instruction included the words "material must be dry prior to application," which is not terribly helpful on a boat that is constantly trying to sink.

The fish often broke my spear, and at one point the fish I had speared broke the shaft and rammed the tip into my raft Ben-Hur style, creating a big hole. I had to scramble to fix it, managing to roughly cover the hole with available material. It took 10 days and nearly killed me in the process.

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

"Oh yeah? Well, this one time I needed to change a flat tire. I called AAA all by myself and everything!"

I was very, very fortunate to make it through. When I talk to other survivors, I hear the same thing -- we don't consider ourselves heroic, and to a large degree only luck separates us from the ones who never make it out to tell their story. And, yes, it changes how you think.

It's a wake-up call. Many survivors suddenly have their priorities straight. The cliche is that you come out stronger ... because you do. You learn things about yourself -- what your weaknesses are and what you're willing to do (see: ravenously eating fish eyes like they're Skittles).

5 Realities of Being Lost at Sea (From a Shipwreck Survivor)

What doesn't kill you only gives you strangely specific food addictions.

In the midst of the chaos at sea, there can be moments of wonder and beauty, too. During one amazing night, the sky was filled with stars, and the fish twinkled with bioluminescence. I wrote in my journal that night: "It's a view of heaven from a seat in hell." And that pretty much summarized my experience. Tiny bits of wonder peeking through the awful struggle to stay alive.


Steve Callahan is also an author. Evan V. Symon is the interview setter-upper guy at Cracked, who, in addition to being a contributor to the De-Textbook, is one of many moderators on Cracked to be part of a super fantastic podcast.

Related Reading: Cracked is just, all about talking to people who've lived through unique experiences. Like this woman who was raised in a Christian fundamentalist cult. We also spoke with a man who joined Scientology's secret space navy and a woman who starred in one of those Weight Loss infomercials. If you've got a story to share with Cracked, you can reach us here.

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Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]

Crack Shack founder signs deal to expand fried chicken chain nationwide

Crack Shack, the fried chicken restaurant chain launched five years ago in Little Italy, announced a new partnership deal today that will expand the fast-casual concept across the U.S.

Crack Shack founder and CEO Mike Rosen said up to three new locations will open outside California in 2021 as part of the the deal inked with Savory, a restaurant-focused investment fund launched in May with $90 million in capital by the Mercato Partners Fund in Utah. The new locations will join the six existing Crack Shacks in Little Italy, Encinitas, Costa Mesa, Century City, Pasadena and Las Vegas.

Rosen said he has been approached many times by private equity firms that wanted to invest in an expansion, but Savory brought something new to the table — a management team of restaurant industry veterans with expertise in real estate evaluation, construction management, design, human resources and employee training.

Mike Rosen, founder and CEO of the Crack Shack restaurant chain.

(Courtesy photo)

“Most private equity investors like pouring kerosene on a fire. They like saying, ‘We’re just going to give you money and you guys run.’ But we’re not good at everything,” Rosen said. “They have subject matter experts across a wide range of individual knowledge areas. That will enable our team to focus on what they’re good at. It’s like chocolate and peanut butter coming together.”

Crack Shack was the second restaurant venture for Rosen, a San Diego private equity investor and restaurant aficionado. In March 2014, he and chef Richard Blais launched the 250-seat fine-dining eatery Juniper and Ivy at 2228 Kettner Boulevard. Eighteen months later, they opened the first Crack Shack location next door. Blais has since left the company. The executive chef at Juniper and Ivy is Anthony Wells and the Crack Shack team includes culinary director Jon Sloan, director of operations Dan Pena and marketing director Nicole Rogers.

Rosen said Crack Shack is unique in the fried chicken category. It sells only free-range Jidori chicken raised on small farms in California, which are the centerpiece in bone-in dinner plates, sandwiches and salad entrees. That has helped the company stand out from the other fried chicken chains and the up-and-coming Nashville-style hot chicken outlets, which Rosen said he sees as more of a menu option than the basis for an entire restaurant.

“We don’t really have any competitors,” he said. “I think that as we look at what the consumer cares about — ingredients — there is a market for the Crack Shack outside Southern California. It’s a chicken concept that is not Southern-fried, but more Southern Californian, with some fresh salads and not grits and gravy. We planted our flag on using ingredients that are of far higher quality than other chicken restaurants.”

While the menu at future Crack Shacks will remain pretty much the same, Rosen said they will be adapted to changes in consumer dining habits. Even before the pandemic caused a dramatic rise in takeout and third-party delivery orders, Americans were eating more meals at home. Most of the Crack Shack locations offer either partial or full outdoor dining options, but Rosen said to-go orders now make up 20 percent to 30 percent of all Crack Shack sales. In a recent customer loyalty survey, many Crack Shack diners said they plan to continue doing pickup and third-party delivery services after the pandemic ends.

A platter of fried chicken at Crack Shack in Little Italy.

(Courtesy of Sara K. Norris)

Rosen calls the existing Crack Shack locations “experiential” venues, where families and friends can gather and small children can wander and play. But the 5,000-square-foot and larger locations like those in Little Italy and Encinitas will not be replicated in the future. Rent at these large-footprint stores is too high for stores where nearly a third of sales are in the low-profit delivery category. So future locations will be much smaller.

The burger chain Shake Shack announced in May it plans to open its first drive-through locations, soon to serve the growing eat-at-home market segment. Rosen is looking at drive-through as well. His frustration with delivery services is that food that leaves the restaurant piping hot may be cold by the time it reaches the customer, and that doesn’t represent his company well. To reduce these issues, Crack Shack has changed its packaging to keep takeout food items warmer.

Crack Shack joins three other chains in Savory’s fast-casual restaurant portfolio: Mo’Bettahs, a Hawaiian-style chain with 13 locations; R&R BBQ, with nine locations; and Swig, a soft drink and cookies chain with 20 locations.

Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]

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