This World is Cruel



Shocked and alone, I pretended to be dead for over an hour, lying among people who could see their loved ones motionless. Holding my breath, trying to not move, not cry – not giving those men the fear they longed to see. I was incredibly lucky to survive. But so many didn’t. The people who had been there for the exact same reasons as I – to have a fun Friday night were innocent. This world is cruel. And acts like this are supposed to highlight the depravity of humans and the images of those men circling us like vultures will haunt me for the rest of my life. The way they meticulously aimed at shot people around the standing area I was in the centre of without any consideration for human life. It didn’t feel real. I expected any moment for someone to say it was just a nightmare.

From Isobel Bowdery’s heart-wrenching account of surviving the Paris attacks.


In the midst of pointless tragedy brought on innocents by the worst of humans, there was humanity.  There always is.

But being a survivor of this horror lets me able to shed light on the heroes. To the man who reassured me and put his life on the line to try and cover my brain whilst I whimpered, to the couple whose last words of love kept me believing the good in the world, to the police who succeeded in rescuing hundreds of people, to the complete strangers who picked me up from the road and consoled me during the 45 minutes I truly believed the boy I loved was dead, to the injured man who I had mistaken for him and then on my recognition that he was not Amaury, held me and told me everything was going to be fine despite being all alone and scared himself.

There’s no easy answer to the sort of depravity that leads to these despicable acts of terror.  I’ll always choose peace and love over war and hate, when that choice is available.  I don’t know what can be done to bring people together, and reverse the divisive trend driven by religious zealots on all sides.  But I know one thing- people have fucked with France and the United States before.  It never worked out for them before, and it won’t this time either.

Viva France.

The Leftovers is Must-Watch TV


“I hate to be hysterical about it, but The Leftovers is absolutely clowning the rest of television in this quantum leap of a second season. It’s doing monster-truck wheelies over the competition. There’s been a lot of amazing television in 2015, but with every new episode of The Leftovers comes the very real possibility of seeing a “top 10 episodes” list violently upended.”

Source: “Lens” · The Leftovers · TV Review The Leftovers just won’t stop kicking the rest of television’s ass · TV Club · The A.V. Club

This is spot on.  The Leftovers was just OK the first season.  It has reinvented itself into something otherworldly and mesmerizing this season.  It’s a must-watch show. Even the opening credits are phenomenal.


Movie Review: Beasts of No Nation


I watched Beasts of No Nation yesterday and today, on the treadmill. Here’s my quick review.

Title: Beasts of No Nation
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Genre: Drama

Why I Watched It:
Netflix, which released this as its first original feature-length film, recommended it to me.

Interesting Fact:
Cary Fukunaga was the director of the first season of True Detective.

This is an excellent movie, action-packed, with great characters, and an important political message that does not get in the way of a great experience. Highly recommended.

Best Thing About It:
Abraham Attah as Agu. Oh, and Stringer Bell.

Worst Thing About It:
This is a fictional story, but this sort of thing happens for too often to far too many children.

Rating: ★★★★

Rotten Tomatoes

The Saint of Dry Creek

I’ve mentioned the StoryCorps podcast a time or two before.  I listen to podcasts all the time when working out, and occasionally in the car.

I continue to think the StoryCorps podcast, whose mission “is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives,” is a national treasure.  I’ve gotten to the point that I only listen to it when getting my workout on lightly traveled country roads, so people won’t wonder why the old, bearded man is running down the road with tears in his eyes.

Occasionally, the StoryCorps crew will create an animation for one of the interviews.  They use the actual interview and create very clever animations to help tell the story.  Here is an example of one, in which a farmer in the 1950s demonstrates that back then, as now, there are progressive people beyond the city limits.


Reclaiming Southern Pride


“Symbols matter, but the South as a region is far too nuanced to be fittingly represented by a Civil War battle flag with a contentious history. Southerners who agree have a responsibility to move into a new era, and to reclaim “Southern pride.” Because if the Confederate flag is my only means of displaying my Southern pride, then the South has already lost me.

Source: Reclaiming Southern Pride—Without the Confederate Flag – The Atlantic (a very, very good article).

Amen.  I love the south, but show me someone who displays the confederate flag in 2015 and I’ll show you someone who may or may not be a racist, but is definitely acting like one.

I agree with Steve Earle.

There are lots of reasons to be proud to be from the south.  But hanging on to a symbol of the past that simply cannot be reconciled with the present is not one of them.

The Story of the Lawson Family


Criminal, one of my favorite podcasts, did a recent episode on the 1929 Lawson family murders in Stokes County, NC.

Like many others of the era, the Lawson murders became the subject of a murder ballad, originally by the Carolina Buddies, and later covered by the Stanley Brothers.

They didn’t mention it on the podcast, but it turns out there was a documentary made about the murders.  I haven’t seen it, but the Amazon reviews, while few in number, seem reasonably positive.