Thursday, July 19, 2007

Reports of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated!

Several of you have been enquiring as to my safety after last night’s steam pipe explosion here in New York City. As many of you know, I work only three blocks from where the explosion occurred and use the subway at Grand Central Terminal to get to and from my office.

I am fine. In fact, I passed right by the spot where the explosion occurred on my way into Grand Central mere minutes before the incident. When I got home and turned on the nightly news, I watched incredulously as the street on which I had just been was reduced to something eerily reminiscent of 9/11.

For those people in the surrounding buildings, including my own office building, it was a terrifying experience. Not knowing what was going on, people were told to flee the area. Entire blocks were evacuated. My co-workers say there was panic in the streets as people, covered in dust and debris, fled for, what they thought might be their lives.

The footage was spectacular. The plume of steam engulfed midtown and rose higher than the nearby Chrysler Building. At its base, it was like something volcanic, sending torrents of putrid water gushing from a crater that had engulfed vehicles and opened a massive sinkhole in the street.

This morning there is a frozen zone — a quarantined area — encompassing that section of midtown. Nearby subways have been shut down. Turns out my office is mere feet outside the zone so I’ll be heading to work shortly, though, with no subway service in the immediate vicinity, I’ve got some walking ahead of me.

Thanks for your e-mails of concern.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


This weekend, my wife and I tried to take in Manhattanhenge but unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate. Still it gave the local NBC affiliate a great opportunity to chat with Neil deGrasse Tyson…and some other guy. (To see Neil give an explanation of Manhattanhenge on NOVA, click here )

Sorry for the questionable video quality. I will try to clean it up soon.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Along the Oregon Trail

I know, I’ve been awfully quiet lately. Truth is, I’ve been terribly busy since beginning my film critic duties full time over the summer. My normal schedule is work from 9 to 5, screenings from 6ish to 8ish after which I head home to write the review that same night because the next day is the same thing all over again. If it sounds hectic, it is — it’s also a whole lot of fun.

But that’s not the only reason I've been silent. Stephanie and I just got back from a vacation in Oregon where I was born and where most of my family still lives. I love the Pacific Northwest, the rain and the verdant landscape that the rain makes possible.

Our first stop was one over which I always salivate — the coast, specifically the area encompassing Seaside, Lincoln City, Canon Beach and Astoria. This visit we stayed in Cannon Beach, hiking on forrest trails left by Louis and Clark, and walking in the chilly surf. I adore these beaches and wouldn't trade them for California's or Florida's for anything. Stephanie isn’t crazy about seafood but I can never get enough of it. Every day at lunch I ordered and devoured a whole Dungeness crab.

Next, we headed to Portland. Portland is a vibrant, artistic, laissez-faire city perfumed with the scent of a million roses. We walked in awe through Powell’s Bookstore, the largest bookstore in the world; visited the Saturday market where we snacked on fresh blueberries while checking out the wares and Stephanie got a henna tattoo; and strolled through the Washington Park Rose Garden overlooking the city.

Our next trip was to Crater Lake, the remains of a mammoth volcano that erupted more than 7,000 years ago, imploded and left a gaping, circular, precipitation-fed lake with an island-cone. It was absolutely beautiful scenery combined with the bluest water I’ve ever seen. We also ensured the local wildlife was well fed.

Without a doubt, the most important part of the trip was seeing my family, from cousins, aunts and uncles, and stepsiblings to my wonderful grandparents. I utterly adore my grandparents. Former missionaries to Africa, they are heroes and plumbless inspirations to me. Stephanie and I listened to my grandfather read devotions while my grandmother read the corresponding Scripture verses in the African tongue of their youth; enjoyed hearing my grandmother play the piano and organ (she produced several records in year's past); and helped out in their garden, mowing, cutting back ivy, and planting flowers.

However, one of the primary objectives of the trip was to spend time with my new step-dad. We'd met him only once, when he and my mother were married two years ago and we hadn't seen them since. So we really wanted to get to know him better. The truth is, he is one of the kindest, gentlest and funniest people I've ever met and I am absolutely honored to have him in my family.

It was a splendid trip and we took in magnificent sights and spent wonderful days in the presence of families and friends. We're hoping to be back sometime early next year when my brother (who lives in Japan) drops by the States so we can finally meet my adorable niece, Aaliyah.

Until then, I promise to update more regularly...!
Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus