Saturday: watched “Letters from Iwo Jima.” What a movie – Clint Eastwood’s quite a director. The movie, if nothing else, does quite well in showing how War Is Bad – and how one’s culture affects how one conducts a war. Actor Ken Watanabe – he is the man – as he plays a general caught in circumstances you’d wish he wasn’t in, as a character who had enjoyed his time in America and learning from American counterparts – but sadly fighting against them and misses his family. Tsuyoshi Ihara is a cutie – but more importantly strongly played Baron Nishi, a guy who also enjoyed his visit in the States as an Olympic athlete but also facing reality. The other soldiers prove to be quite human, ranging from the baker who just wants to go home and the young man who thought he had it in him to police others on their patriotism. Even the glimpses of the Americans at Iwo Jima were fascinating – this was no pretty battle for anyone. Check out the NY Times’ review by A.O. Scott – expansive view of it.

Speaking of how War Is Bad – the comic strip “Funky Winkerbean” kind of irritates me – a recent storyline took the comic strip back to Iraq, to follow up on Funky’s cousin, Wally (on his second tour in Iraq). Then, it looked like Wally was blown up by an IED and you’re left thinking: damn – you just knew something bad was going to happen, since Funky’s best friend’s wife survived breast cancer so someone else was going to have the bad luck. But, the next day, it turns out that Wally didn’t die/get injured – he was just playing a role-playing video game, and he “blew” up. Lousy – just lead on your readers why don’t you?!

Watching the Oscars as I write this – curiously interesting funny bits so far – but they’re dragging it out again – can’t you let the winners say a few words by cutting back on the skits? Hmm…


I was over at P-‘s parents’ house and was looking over her aunt’s yearbook from 1967. Yes, it was from 40 years ago, and it had plenty of pictures of nuns wearing the super-old fashioned whipples. However, it was extremely complete. The sign of a good yearbook is one where the pictures have captions, and that the captions give the names of the people in the photos. In this one, every photo was captioned and had names. You can see the types of things that were important at the time (including Vietnam) and be amazed at number of Chinese students that were there at the time. There was even a Chinese teacher that taught French.

I was editor of my high school yearbook, and I know how hard it is to put together (we had exactly 1 computer, an IBM XT with WordPerfect 3.1 at the time). All of the layout was still done by hand even in my time.

Foiled by French

In a total gag, I participated in a charity fund raising spelling bee, a la the Putnam County Spelling Bee on Broadway. There were about 40 people in on this. I survived the word “treatise” but got knocked out on the word “chauffeur” – needed to buy a vowel. I would have done much better if it were a vocabulary bee, and not a spelling bee – I think I knew the meanings of all of the words. Oh well – it went to a good cause.