Tsunami: Unbelievable

I can barely comprehend the death toll that is now being reported from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami over the weekend. The latest numbers are around 60,000 80,000 and that’s really hard to believe. Not that I doubt the figure; I’m saying it’s just hard to wrap my brain around that many deaths. I can’t imagine the suffering that the survivors are enduring.

There are some satellite photos of the beach in Sri Lanka here, here and here. The first photo is from January, just as a frame of reference. The second shows the waves coming in and the third is after they hit. Amazing. And there are some stunning videos here.

Update: CNN has the latest counts.

Three Things

I have three things to say today. One about a book, one about a film, and another about my son.

First, the film. I watched Dead Man, a 1995 Johnny Depp film, last night. A few funny moments, but overall a load of crap. It was sort of a surreal re-imagining of a Western, with lots of foul-mouthed cowboys and an Indian who quotes William Blake. I didn’t get it, and thus was unimpressed.

Second, the book. Yesterday, I finished reading Lynne Truss’s excellent book on punctuation called Eats, Shoots & Leaves. While a book on punctuation sounds about as exciting as reading a dictionary, it was actually extremely funny and made many good points about society’s slide into a punctuational abyss, thanks, largely, to the rise of email and other electronic communications. I have remarked before about how a great many people seem to lose all grasp of grammar, spelling and punctuation when they send emails, and Ms. Truss makes the same point. But this book is not just a lament for declining punctuational standards. There’s a lot of history about how we came to have the various symbols that we use to craft our writing. It’s very interesting and, yes, very funny.

Finally, a conversation with my boy, Thomas. Picture it: McDonald’s; Last Saturday; 11:45 AM.

Me: OK. After we finish eating we’re going to make stops at SAM’s, Wal-Mart, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target. Then we should be able to go home.
Thomas: That’s gonna take forever! If I could invent a time machine, then we could skip all that and be home, with everything we need!
Me: Thomas, if you could invent a time machine, you’d be a billionaire.
Thomas: (Furrowing his brow.) No, Daddy. A “scientist.”

I guess he’s right…

Latest Movies Seen

I haven’t had much time to update the site recently because I’m spending most of my time working on the new company… but, in response to a plea from my mother (Hi, mom!) I decided to give you a brief rundown of films I’ve seen recently.

I joined NetFlix back in early November, and I love it! Not all of the films listed below came from NetFlix, but quite a few did. And remember, you can always see my star rating for films I’ve seen, down the left-hand side of this page.

Huoxeh (To Live)
I’ve been a fan of Li Gong for several years now, and this was another excellent feather in her cap. She plays the wife of a man who loses everything because of his gambling problem, in China in the 1940s. The story then traces their lives over the next 30 or so years as the Communists take over (or “liberate,” as the Communists called it) China from Chiang Kai-sheck. It’s a heartbreaking story of how absolutely evil Communism is. I’ve always known that it was evil, but this film really drives it home. I’ve already added Lan feng zheng (The Blue Kite) to my NetFlix queue; it’s another film about the Communist takeover of China. It should be here in a few days.

The Polar Express
I couldn’t imagine how they could turn a very short book like The Polar Express into a feature-length film. They did it by turning the whole story into an action/adventure film that scared the crap out of my son. Overall it was pretty good, but way too much adventure.

Bend it Like Beckham
This is a wonderful Indian picture about a girl who challenges what her parents think a “proper Indian girl” should and should not do. I watched it twice in one weekend. Ever since watching Monsoon Wedding I’ve gotten more and more intrigued with Indian films. This is another great one.

Streets of Fire
I first saw this movie back in the 80s, but I’d forgotten most of it. I got it through NetFlix a few weeks ago, and it was quite good. It has a young Diane Lane (love her) playing a singer who is abducted by a motorcycle gang, lead by Willem Dafoe. Good music, interesting sets, and Diane Lane…

The Terminal
This is an excellent film that is very loosely based on the real-life story of a man who has been living in Charles De Gaulle Airport since 1988. Tom Hanks is extremely believable as a man from some backwater former-Soviet republic. Funny and sad, all at the same time.

Ying Xiong (Hero)
Beautifully filmed. Lovely colors. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was better.

The Last Samurai
I was absolutely blown away by this film. Tom Cruise is outstanding as a brash, arrogant Civil War veteran who goes to Japan to train troops. This is a beautiful story that was completely under-appreciated.

Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (Spirited Away)
Absolutely brilliant! This is an amazing piece of animation. Disney pictures brought this Japanese masterpiece, by the legendary directory Miyazaki Hayao, to America, faithfully translating it with an American cast. Wonderful, wonderful movie. My son loves it. I bought it for him for Christmas, and I just bought the sound-track.

I’ve seen several others recently, but that’s enough pontificating on films for now…

A Bit of a Mixup…

I took some time off today to go down to the Festival of Trees, which benefits Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and had a good time. My wife was on the team that created my son’s school’s tree for the festival, and it won FIRST PLACE in the School division. Their tree beat out 99 other trees, which is pretty impressive.

But that’s not the mixup. We were looking at some displays of Christmas from other countries. When we came to the display for the Philippines the following conversation ensued between myself and my son, Thomas:

Me: Hey, Thomas. This one’s from the Philippines.
Thomas: Ooo, Daddy. Those are baaad people.
Me: …
Thomas: Baaad people.
Me: Oh! No, Thomas, you mean Philistines!

Just a wee tad bit different… 🙂