A medley of items on this May Day 2007 ...
First, the hard drive on my new laptop failed last Sunday while I was surfing Yahoo! Sports and reading up on the NBA basketball playoffs. One minute, I'm reading up on Golden State's chances against Dallas. The next, I get a blue screen of death telling me that's there's something wrong with the computer's kernel. No dramatic warning signs like smoke coming through the keyboard or awful click-click-click sounds as the hard drive worked its magic. Just business-as-usual and then the abrupt blue screen of death.
The next day, I got a hold of a repair guy and he told me that my hard drive suffered a massive failure. He tried mounting it on another system to recover some data but the drive was filled with too many critical errors. I could have had it shipped to Ontario where a data recovery company would give it a try with more sophisticated equipment but it would cost me at least $800. The only things I had on there of value were two years of digital photos (including all of my cancer photos) so it wasn't worth it to me to dip into the Leung treasury to try something that might not even pay off. It's a shame about the pictures but as Ah Poon (left) [Maggie Cheung Ho-Yee's character in PLAIN LOVE II (茶是故鄉濃)] said: "There's a reason Heaven put a person's eyes in the front. It's because people are meant to look forward not back."
I asked to keep the hard drive because, who knows, the technology may exist five, ten years later for me to retrieve the pictures. I leave that up to Providence.
What's galling about the situation is that I bought the laptop in May 2005 but didn't use it from February 2006 to March 2007. This means that I essentially used the computer for only ten months. All things being equal, if I had used it regularly instead of being sidelined by cancer, the repair would have fallen under warranty.
The repair guy said that it was just plain bad luck that the hard drive failed on me. It was probably faulty manufacturing or a weaker than standard part. It certainly wasn't from overuse. Oh well, that's life.
As a result of the calamity, I've been busy these past few days re-installing software and restoring my bookmarks. I also have to figure out what will happen if I plug my iPod into my new hard drive: Will everything on my iPod be erased? Does that mean I have to rip all my CDs again and re-establish my playlists? I'm going to have to hit Google on this one because, surely, I'm not the first person to find themselves in this situation.
There's no way to gracefully segue from my petty technology problems to the Virginia Tech shootings so I'll just jump right in. I was going to write a blog entry on the tragedy a couple of days after it happened but, after being subjected to the exhaustive media coverage, I was reluctant to contribute to the element of "what happened at Virginia Tech was a tragedy that will forever mar the lives of many ... but how does it effect ME?" that I was sensing. However, my friend Charles sent me a link to a story by the Washington Post's Stephen Hunter in which Hunter labours strenuously to "hint" that John Woo movies nudged Cho Seung-Hui into action. Hunter's arguments are so contrived, it saddened me deeply to see that a major paper would run an article with such an egregious premise. Luckily, Charles also sent a link to a rebuttal of the article by New York Times' film critic A. O. Scott.
I realize that articles linking OLDBOY and John Woo movies to the shooting stem from a natural reaction to make sense out of a senseless act. Lamentably, this type of coverage has put Asian cinema in a negative light in the minds of some. Instead of thinking: "I got to check out the film that THE DEPARTED was based on", some people are now thinking: "Isn't that the ultra-violent movie that the crazy guy from Virginia Tech was mimicking?" The worst part of the numerous "OLDBOY made Cho Seung-Hui do it" articles is that Park Chan-Wook's "Vengeance Trilogy" is about the emptiness of revenge and not the glorification of it. Of course, a majority of the writers who lined up to cast blame at OLDBOY missed this salient point because they probably didn't even bother to watch the movie.
One other thing about the tragic affair: In the early moments of the media coverage, when reports emerged stating that the shooter was "Asian", I started thinking to myself: "please don't be Chinese, please don't be Chinese, please don't be Chinese." I knew it was a little silly -- I think North American society has evolved beyond the point where the actions of one Chinese person would taint the perception of all Chinese people -- but I still couldn't help feeling the way I did. I wasn't alone. When I talked to a friend a few days after the shooting, he admitted that he felt the same way. He said his feelings were rooted in the fact that there's already enough tension between China and the United States these days. He didn't want it compounded by having the "nutjob from Virginia Tech" be Chinese. For me, the reaction was more instinctive. This article, "When ethnicity brings an unwelcome focus", from the Los Angeles Times does a good job of explaining my initial unease to the early "Asian shooter" reports.
That's it for today. I'll be back soon with posts on some of the movies I've watched recently: CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, BATTLE OF WITS, THE HEAVENLY KINGS, ELECTION, ELECTION 2, MY NAME IS FAME and THE BANQUET. I just have to re-install my InterVideo WinDVD Player so that I can use some screen grabs.