Reading China Marine by EB Sledge

I was so touched by his memoirs of fighting in the pacific with the marines in WW2, I’m reading the sequel, which deals with the aftermath of Okinawa. In reading his first book, I don’t see how anyone who experienced that could possibly lead a “normal life after the terror and and violence and filth and heartbreak. I’ll soon see…

Reading China Marine by EB Sledge

Spellbound not my favorite Hitchcock Film

Maybe I was just tired after a long day.  But I did not like Hitchcock’s Spellbound that much.  I love Hitchcock, and loved Ingrid Bergman’s performance as always, but the movie sesemed a little bit hoakie and Gregory Peck’s character seemed more like a Shakespearean fool than a typical Hitchcock character.  It seemed like an old, cheesey black-and-white romantic comedy than a HItchcock thriller, and I foujnd myself really not that interested.  AMazing, because I loved Notorious soooo much.  I’d be curious to read a little about the movie to see if I was missing the bigger picture, so to speak.

Spellbound not my favorite Hitchcock Film

Final Thoughts on Michael Crichton’s Travels

Loved this book.  How he sprinkled tidbits about his life and philosophies within a series of chapters about medical school and his exotic treks.  I skimmed through the last final chapters (the final 20%), but that is not uncommon for me.  My impression of Michael Crichton from reading this is that he was incredibly intelligent and driven, and incredibly restless.  What an amazing life that led to, and I can’t imagine writing a best selling novel while in Harvard Med School then leaping into Hollywood, etc.

Some final notes from his journeys: My favorite part was the section about climbing Kilamanjaro.  I didn’t realize that it was so tall (19K) and was so challenging to climb.  I love how there are three stages to the climb, including the rainforest at the base, then the meadows. It reminded me (kinda) of The Green Lakes trail in Bend, Oregon…  I thought the section about New Guinea was interesting, where the island is the second largest after Greenland, and is dominated by high mountains at the center.  Crichton mentions a couple of times in his book that high mountains – like those in Nepal — creates diversity in areas separated by short distances as the crow flies.  I thought New Guinea was interesting in that every piece of land is owned by someone, and they had to obtain permission to hike to a waterfall.  His description of the battles was interesting too, where time and intensity have a different meaning there, to the point where German tourists standing in the middle of a battle between two clans didn’t see one warrior behead another right next to them (OmG!!)…  He had some close calls diving, yet continued to dive.  In one, he lost his mouthpiece and was worried he was going to pass out; in another, he dove too deep and ran out of oxygen just as he surfaced and had to bypass safety procedures for avoiding the bends but avoided the bends, and in another he was carried by a fast current through a cloud of sharks (terrifying for him)…  He did not get along with his father, calling him a Son of a Bitch…  I loved his takes on Sean Connery, who he respected and sounds like both a talented actor and a man who is both direct and comfortable in his own skin…  They had an experience in Jamaica where a convict slipped into their car in Spanish Town, claimed he was a guide, refused to leave them, and in the end escaped with their watch and extra money through intimidation. Crichton later learned two tourists had been killed in the same area, which reminded him how lucky he was to escaped for so little cost (cheap watch and 10 pounds, I think)…  He experienced some incredible psycnics at the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain… He saw Mountain Gorillas and was shocked by how *huge* they were (bigger than theones we see in the zoos, which are the smaller lowland variety), and it dawned on him that they (the group) were the guests in the gorilla’s home. THeir numbers are rapidly shrinking (just 100s left when he wrote the book) and was heartbroken by that.  He learned that if a gorilla charges, it is important to stay in one place – to flee is the classic inspiring it to chase you.  He was charged once (the gorilla didn’t like his camera — and it was terrifying…  He visited “Shangri-la” (Hunza) and was surprised by how unpleasant it actually was…  Stepping just a few feet off the path in the jungle, he was immediately lost.  Yet, there are tribes who are never lost in the jungles…I liked that he called the Malaysians the Danes of Asia (low key and easygoing) except when it comes to religion. And I liked that he pointed out that in the culture life is out of our control, so it is better to adapt to what comes our way then to try to control everything.  

Just some initial thoughts.  There is so much more in the book and about so many places.   

Final Thoughts on Michael Crichton’s Travels

Am liking this season’s AMerican Horror Story, for the most part

American Horror Story is one of the shows that I always *want* to like.  But many years it involves homicidal maniacs, violence or is just flat out too over the top, so that really the only year I’ve truly liked is Coven, which I flat-out loved.  I also like the first season pretty well, although sometimes there were just too many ghosts, which detracted from it.  But this season, where it takes place in a house built in the 1700s in the remote South, seems okay so far.  It has a Haunted Mansion, type feel.  But there seems to be an obsession with pigs, and I am hoping that the pigs don’t get too weird (honestly, pigs?  It seems strange.  Yes, boars have killed people in history, but somehow “Oh my god, look out for the pig!” doesn’t seem that interesting or scary).  But it has potential, so after two episodes I am hanging in there.  For now.  Here is hoping!

Am liking this season’s AMerican Horror Story, for the most part

Going to bed early – and loving it

When it starts getting dark earlier, I start going to bed earlier.  This past week, I’m heading to bed by 9:20 and it feels great.  Usually, I wake up around 5 – on weekends I read until I fall back asleep for another hour or so, but during the work week I don’t have that chance, so am stuck being awake at 5.  If I go to bed at 10:30 it means I didn’t get enough rest, whereas if I go to bed at 9:20, I do.  I love that.  When I was in grad school and stopped working at the bar, I was so burned out from so many 3 AM nights that I went to bed at 8:30 for months on end.  I really did enjoy it, when it’s dark.  I just don’t feel my best when I go to bed too much past 10, and past 10:30 I am screwed.  

Going to bed early – and loving it

I think it is important to try harder to not be cynical as we get older

I am 48.   And I am noticing people I speak to who are about my age in general are pretty cynical.  They think they’ve seen everything and figured it all out, that they’ve heard everything and met everyone worth meeting.  I see it when I call into managers who in their early 30s were a little more tolerant than in their 40s. It is really an unattractive feature, and I think it is very important as we get older to remove the rose-color from our glasses, to keep an open mind and to keep a youthful eye on the world.  Treat every person we talk to as though it is a new and exciting conversation, or be open to suggestions from younger people (or older people).  NOne of us, as human beings, are very wise, so it is important to keep a healthy and youthful curiosity about all things, I think.

I think it is important to try harder to not be cynical as we get older

The Cultural Change of Sales Calls at Microsoft

Even just five years ago, Microsoft managers seemed to understand the idea of solutions sales.  But the past five years, they’ve gotten so conditioned to think of low margin contracting, it is a challenge to explain to many of them that we’re not a staffing company, that we actually are offering a solution.  It is almost like being an ice salesman, and trying to explain ice to someone who doesn’t know ice exists but thinks every sales call is someone selling them water.  Fascinating.

The Cultural Change of Sales Calls at Microsoft

Watched and loved A Tale of Two Sisters

After enjoying the great Korean film The Wailing yesterday, we went rented another Korean ghost film: A Tale of Two Sisters.  We loved it!  A beautiful film (cinematography) that followed two sisters, their step mom and their glum father.  The plot twists in it were great, and I think the review that compared it to The Turn of the Screw said it best. In short, it is a psychological horror film with a few Sixth Sense like twists.  I’d love to watch it again.

Watched and loved A Tale of Two Sisters

Seen three Asian horror films that I can think of, and seeing some traits

While three films is a long way from an adequate sample size, here are trends I’m noticed on the three horror films I’ve seen from Asia (2 from Japan, 1 from Korea):  The SuperNatural are powerful and dangerous.  These aren’t just ghosts out for a spook or demons out for a body to posses, but supernatural forces that use their powers to kill humans.  This adds a downright sinister feeling to them…  There is no neat and tidy explanation at the end: they are muddled and somewhat confusing endings, which makes sense, since this is the supernatural afterall…  The main characters are real.  That is, they are sometimes bumbling characters whose evil moves into their lives, not some perfect family who moves into a remote farm house with a brave character who moves in to try to fix anything…  There are multiple victims, not just one person or family, so the stakes are high…

Seen three Asian horror films that I can think of, and seeing some traits

Watched The Wailing with Wife M last night

Wife M and I tried to see The Wailing in the theaters but timing didn’t work out, so we were glad to see it available on DVD and made a plan to watch it last night.  What a wonderful movie it was, too!  Bumbling characters, strange and errie things that weren’t too terrifying, incredible setting, and somehow just kept us engaged for the entire 2.5 hours.  The ending was confusing as heck for us, but maybe there are cultural meanings (it is a S. Korean film), maybe that was the point (not everything has a neat answer) and it was fun to discuss the ending.  What a great evening it was, to watch this.  And what a wonderful day it was yesterday when I wasn’t feeling well, to watch 3 great spooky films back to back to back: The WItch, Notorious, and The Wailing…  Love days like that…

Watched The Wailing with Wife M last night