September 8th, 2006


The Japanese USS Indianapolis

Thanks to Robert Shaw's mesmerizing delivery of the famous speech in the movie JAWS, everybody, including those not inclined to military history, has heard of the USS Indianapolis. On July 30, 1945 (not the 29th of June, as Shaw says in the film), the Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine. The surviving crewmen floated along in the water and waited for rescue.

As Shaw's character put it, "Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin'."

1,196 men were on the ship; about 900 survived the sinking, and the sharks took almost six hundred of them. The survivors had no, or almost no, provisions, and many of them suffered injuries, including painful burns, during the sinking of the ship. I think what makes the Indianapolis story such a shocker is that it combines horrors you wouldn't think go together: war and predatory animals. It sounds like an implausible nightmare, but it really happened.

File under "things you randomly find online:" I didn't know that the Japanese Army suffered its own Indianapolis-type event during World War II. The horrors were of a shorter duration, but many more men died. Enough to put in it the Guinness Book of World Records:

Most Deaths Caused By Crocodiles
The crocodile attack to claim the most human lives took place on February 19, 1945, when an Imperial Japanese Army unit guarding a stronghold on the Burmese island of Ramree was outflanked by a British naval force. The soldiers were forced to cross 16 km (10 miles) of mangrove swamps to rejoin a larger battalion of the Japanese infantry. The swamps were home to thousands of 4.6-m (15-ft) saltwater crocodiles. Come the next morning, only 20 of the 1,000 Japanese soldiers had survived.

Think about that sometime, when you're trying to get to sleep at night. If, you know, you don't *want* to sleep. Or if you're trying to come up with an idea for a horror movie.

UPDATE: More info here; apparently there's some controversy over whether it's true. That settles it: this *should* be a horror movie.
jim with pipe

Bond. James Bond.

The new Casino Royale trailer is up. It's a hell of a trailer, and I'm jazzed for the film now. Daniel Craig has had some rough press, but you know what? I think he'll do fine. He got slagged because of Brosnan's acrimonious departure, which is a little unfair, especially since nobody picked on the producers.

(As ever, they did a classic "fuck you" to their departing star; according to Brosnan, he'd been lobbying them to do a less techy, less flashy, more back-to-basics Bond flick, and their reaction was to replace him. And then they decided to do a less techy, less flashy, more back-to-basics Bond flick with the new guy. That's just rubbing salt in the wound. But y'know what? As a viewer, I still get a back-to-basics Bond flick. And that's cool. Because I've wanted to see one of those for a while.)

One nice thing about Daniel Craig: he's not a pretty-boy. If anything, he goes the other way: surly, beefy, a little pockmarked. He has a different kind of charisma. And I have to say I like that. The studios' obsession with youth has led them to cast ever-younger, or younger-looking, actors and actresses, and it's getting really boring. I like heroines who look like grown women, and I like my heroes to look like grown men.