While we’re on the bummer theme, let’s get this out of the way: Saw United 93 the other night, and watched the credits roll with mixed feelings. The simple truth is: This is a beautifully written and shot movie about an almost unbearably painful event absolutely no one wants to see. I was enormously impressed, and I never want to see it again.
But I’m glad this movie is out there, and that it sets a few bars, including the most important one: We really don’t know what happened up there. We know some things, but they’re just flash frames; the whole movie went down with the plane, along with anyone who saw it. It was easy to fear, in the anguished, crazy time after 9/11, that the first films made about the tragedy would have highly partisan narratives that would push one version of events over another. “United 93” doesn’t do that. No one stands up and says, “Let’s roll!” and leads the group to a gallant death. It looks, in its no-recognizable-actors way, very much like news footage.
And, if you’ve ever been through a remarkable event, it has the feel of truth. The passengers never act like Bruce Willis in the “Die Hard” movies; they look about to piss themselves from fright, even when they’re being as brave as people can be. And in the last minutes, when the cockpit door has been battered down and the final struggle is taking place, no one man or woman steps forward to be the hero — all we see are a dozen different hands, all straining to get to the controls, before the camera turns to see the view from the windshield. The world turns upside down, and the ground rushes up to meet everyone. The end.
“I bet you’d have been one of those guys,” I told Alan afterward.
“One never knows,” he said.
No, one doesn’t. Really, one doesn’t. We all like to think we’d be brave, but we don’t know until we know, and by then it’s a little late to argue. Of course, it’s never too late for right-wing morons to star in their own little imaginary movie:
Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn’t anyone rush the guy? It’s not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness’ sake—one of them reportedly a .22.
At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren’t very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can’t hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren’t bad.
Yes, at the very least, “count the shots,” such a natural response when the door to your classroom swings open and a madman walks in, guns blazing. And check out the ballistics report from a guy who hasn’t been any closer to a real firefight than a TV screen. I know I said I wasn’t going to read any of this stuff, but sometimes it just jumps in front of you.
So, to the bloggage:
Jack Shafer’s defense of pushy reporters is good enough, but he had me at this passage:
The gold standard for journalistic insensitivity was established in the 1960s by an unnamed British TV reporter who was trawling for news at a Congo airport. According to foreign correspondent Edward Behr’s 1978 memoir, the Brit walked through the crowd of terrified Belgian colonials who were evacuating, and shouted, “Anyone here been raped and speaks English?”
I doubt I’ll ever cover breaking news again, but if I do, I’m going to use that line. You know, just for laughs.
Yours truly had another radio essay on the air yesterday, on “Detroit Today,” on WDET, our (what else?) public station. Find it here. Requires QuickTime, etc. The edit isn’t precise, so when it goes to music at about two-thirds through, it’s over. The producer didn’t trim the music; probably too busy. One of these days I’ll get out QT Pro and do a nice fade-out, but for now, bandwidth hog it shall remain.
We had a family discussion/argument about split peas the other day, over, what else, a dinner of split-pea soup — I made the last pot of the season, using up the remnants of the Easter ham and banishing these maddeningly slow-to-exit chilly days. Never mind the specifics of the argument; I will end up looking particularly stupid, and besides, I contend that I never suggested split peas were separated by hard-working immigrants using tiny vises, chisels and hammers, only that the so-called split pea is not a separate species from the green pea found in Green Giant cans and pods in the grocery store.
News flash: It is indeed a different animal. Ahem:
A variety of yellow or green pea grown specifically for drying. These peas are dried and usually split along a natural seam, in which case they’re called split peas.
But as frequently happens to the curious, epi- and otherwise, the research led me down half a dozen paths of delight, including that of Pea Soup Andersen’s, a legendary bit of California kitsch that appears to be the Frankenmuth of the west coast. Anyway, one of these days I’m going to make it out there for a visit, as I love pea soup in all its incarnations. I’m sure LA Mary knows the owner, and can arrange a kitchen tour.
And now, I remind you that split peas are a high-fiber food, and combined with two cups of coffee — whoa, gotta go. Later!