I’m taking a stand against the phrase, “There’s nothing worse than…”
OK, feel free to continue using it for saying, “There’s nothing worse than…
-catching on fire.”
-shrapnel in the face.”
-losing one’s job to a machine that isn’t even artificially intelligent.”
I’ll accept a bit of hyperbole because there’s no objective and universally-accepted way to determine who was worse, Hitler or Pol Pot. And it’s legitimate to exaggerate one’s personal crises–provided that crisis isn’t something like having the seat warmer go on the fritz in your SUV.
My problem is hearing, ”There’s nothing worse than…
-spotty cell phone reception.”
-when it takes 30 minutes to get your oil changed.”
-when a pay-per-view bout ends in the first round.”
-an empty Nutella jar.”
-when the elevator is broken and I have to walk all the way to the second floor.”
-getting in the line behind someone who still writes checks.”
Clearly, there are many things worse than any one of those things, or even all six of them happening on the same day. If you can’t think of one, you should get out more. I’m not saying one should be constantly comparing one’s problems with the biggest disasters in the world. Nor am I saying that, in the scheme of things, your piddly-ass problems don’t matter. I’m just calling for perspective. It’s hard to take someone seriously who can’t imagine a fate worse than a cracked lid on a Starbucks half-caf latte.
Brindavan Garden is built at the base of the Krishnarajasagara (KRS) dam. However, it’s so beautiful that one forgets to worry about what would happen if the massive wall holding back a lake from the Kaveri River were to catastrophically fail.
The garden takes advantage of the availability of water both in its fountains and in a gradual cascade that splits the garden down the center.
In the evening, all the tourists in town converge on this site to see the fountains lit up (except on Sundays when everybody is at the Mysore Palace to see it lit up.) About 2 million people a year visit the gardens.
who’s grown pudgy, blown up chunky,
and become a Mars Bar junkie
just cause we’re genetically entwined
makes it neither right nor kind
to give them a bootilicious behind
when swinger’s branches threaten break
and under foot the earth it quakes
it’s then too late to lay off the cakes
when dealing with our friends furry
remember no ice cream or curry
no panicked food drop and scurry
In Cambodia, one can buy these paintings that are monochromatic with the exception of the vibrant saffron of monks’ robes. These artworks are commonly found around Siem Reap and have backgrounds such as the Bayon, Ta Prohm, or Angkor Wat. While this photo was taken in Belur, India at the Chennakeshava temple, it reminds me of an impromptu version of such paintings. All dull earth-tones, except the Hindu adherents moving about in their bright colors.
Apparently, the significance of the color orange is shared by Hindus and Buddhists. Krishna is usually portrayed in orange or yellow, and in Buddhism orange is considered the color of illumination.
Interviewer (I): So, about this whole turning into a bat thing. It seems to me that a man is much bigger than a bat. Therefore, my first question is do you conserve mass? In other words, do you get really dense as a bat, and, if so, how do you even get off the ground? If not, you must shed mass, but then how do you get it back?
Vampire (V): I am the prince of darkness. I rule the night. I take whatever form suits my needs.
I: Well, that’s not really a proper answer, now is it? That’s sort of a politician on the Sunday morning talk shows answer.
V: [Bares fangs and growls]
I: Well then, moving on. Are you at all concerned about the many blood-borne illness out there: HIV, Hepatitis, Ebola, Rift Valley Fever, etc.?
V: I’m immortal. I can’t be killed by your puny germs.
I: So, that’s a… no?
I: Moving on. Have you ever had anyone put Vaseline on their neck or something else really gross–you know to prank you?
V: You suck!
I: One could say the same of you, my friend. Ha!… You know… because you suck on people’s necks… Well, then, moving on. Which would you rather have: a wooden stake to the heart or a silver bullet in the chest?
V: Silver bullets are for werewolves, you imbecile.
I: Yeah, but it’s still got to be quite unpleasant, wouldn’t you say?
V: [Sighs loudly] OK, I’d have to take the silver bullet, but the longer this interview goes on, the more fond I grow of the stake.
I: I love steak, too, but that’s besides the point. Any way, who would you rather have as an enemy: Bram Stoker’s Van Helsing, who’s very smart but has no kung fu; or the Hugh Jackman Van Helsing who’s all buff and studly but not the sharpest tool in the shed?
V: It matters not. They are both humans and, as such, no match for me.
I: Really, because in both the book and the movie…
V: [hisses like a rabid cat, fangs out] Human propaganda. Are we done yet?
I: Not quite. What’s the hurry? Got a hot rendezvous with a Victorian wench on the docket?… Anywho. What would you say are the pros and cons of working the night-shift? I’d think it would be rather easy to get a parking space, but, then again, you don’t really need one if you turn into a bat. But, then again, all that flapping must get tiring…
V: I’m out of here!
This is the front of the palace at Mysore. This particular palace was constructed between 1897 and 1912, and was the seat of the Wodeyar Kingdom that ruled from 1399 to 1947.
The front of the building is set up like a parade ground with a stage from which the King could address the public, with the highfalutin’ people sitting under the shelter of the palace roof and the minions and peasants out baking under the sun. Of course, now there’s bird netting all over the facade to prevent the pigeons from bombing the place into poop-blivion.
One can’t take pictures inside, which is too bad because the colors and opulence are stunning, e.g. imagine a sterling silver couch. I come from the wealthiest country in the world (if one doesn’t count debt, which the government doesn’t, so why should I), and I have trouble wrapping my brain around a silver couch. I bet Warren Buffet doesn’t even own a silver couch.
Among the Kindle Daily Deals yesterday was a book entitled Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad by Melanie Kirkpatrick. It was well-timed to a news story about a Korean War Veteran, Merrill Newman, whose video statement as a prisoner of the DPRK was released the same day. Anyway, I bought the book and I’m hooked. The stories it contains are a mix of chilling and thrilling.
As I began reading, I wondered why no one had made a major Hollywood blockbuster based on an escape from North Korea. It’s a journey fraught with peril. There’s so much to go wrong from being shot in the back crossing the Tumen River to being repatriated to being double-crossed by smugglers to falling into the hands of traffickers or other predators. Adding to the challenge is the fact that most North Koreans are severely undernourished, and each is on his or her own for the first part of the trip–getting across the border. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for North Koreans to stick out physically because they’re unusually small and, as pointed out by one of Kirkpatrick’s sources, prone to bad hair and split ends.
I know these are words that writers despise but the screenplay practically writes itself.
Then I remembered, oh yeah, this will never be a movie because China’s government would be one of the villains, and Hollywood isn’t in the business of making films that PO the Chinese any more. Why is China the villain? Well, it’s not the main villain. That distinction, of course, goes to the Kim dynasty, presently personified by Kim Jong Un–who has been the biggest bastard yet when it comes to escapees. China’s policy is one of repatriation. It would be kinder for China to just execute the North Koreans themselves. One of the stories early in the book is about an entire family that was to be sent back who–having eaten their first decent meal in a long time–decided to die full and committed suicide while in Chinese custody. Lest one think that this is a Communist thing, Kirkpatrick points to Vietnam as one of the countries that quietly helps North Korean escapees get to safety. Like the democracies that do so, Vietnam keeps this on the down-low to avoid cheesing off the Chinese, but at least they do it.
Why would such a movie be good? Because everybody needs to know what’s going on, and movies are the surest injection point into the public consciousness. There have been books and documentaries about this for years, but I don’t think most people realize how bad it is.
I should point out that there have been films on the subject. The Crossing, made in South Korea, is probably the most well-known feature film on the subject. It’s about a father who crosses the border to get medication for a wife, but ends up stuck on the other side of the border during which time his wife dies and his boy becomes–for all intents and purposes–an orphan. This film is apparently based on a true story.
And there have been a number of documentaries on the subject. The Defector: Escape from North Korea is one of the best.
This is the book trailer for the Kirkpatrick book.
This is the view roughly northward from the minaret of the Jama Masjid.
There’s something about this picture that strikes me as not of this world. The albino creature contrasted against the earth-tone environment. One expects to see a deer in a verdant patch where it can meet its grazing needs, not on barren, stony soil. Then there are those wicked screw-bit horns, seeming a little out of place on bambi–like fangs on a butterfly.
This neo-Gothic cathedral sits in downtown Mysore. It was built in 1936 and its design was influenced by the cathedral in Cologne.
The saint for which it was named was a martyred Greek princess.