Monday, March 1, 2010

Notes on a Tragedy

Good day everyone, and a happy and healthy Lantern Festival to you! Lantern Festival occurs on the 15th day of the lunar new year and marks the end of spring festival celebrations. Chinese people observe it very simply by lighting paper lanterns, eating sweet rice balls, and…oh wait, what’s this?

13 injured at Taiwan Lantern Festival:

An estimated 13 people were taken to the hospital with burns after the official Lantern Festival celebrations in Chiayi went wrong Sunday evening, media reports said…Fireworks hit some spectators and burned their hair and clothing.

Some comments:

  1. I can understand a news organization trying to remain sober and detached when tragedy strikes but OH MY GOD PEOPLE WERE HIT WITH FIREWORKS. I'm going to assume in the face. People were hit in the face with fireworks. And this was at an official celebration, so it’s more accurate to say: the government injured 13 people with fireworks in or around their face region.

    Because Chinese people originally invented fireworks (wait, you haven’t heard this? Say the word “firework” on a street in China and a passerby will tell you all about it), my assumption was always that even though it looks incredibly dangerous to hand a Roman candle to a 5-year-old on New Year’s, when Chinese people do it you shouldn’t worry because they’ve Thought This Through. But obviously they haven’t because even now, 60,000 years or whatever since Chinese people invented fireworks (and paper! Wait, you haven’t heard about paper either? Cheng Bo, come over and tell this guy about paper), it’s still sort of a ho-hum news item when people get injured at the official Lantern Festival celebration. In the face.

  2. While we’re on this official celebration thing for a second: shouldn’t we at least be able to trust that one? Can’t we at least be assured that no festive fatalities will occur when it’s like one of the biggest events of the year? It’s a tried-and-true television event. Hey, guys, the New Year’s Ball fell on Dick Clark’s head. No, because they make sure to check that he's not sitting under the ball before they drop it. That’s not going to happen.

    (Wait, it might have happened already. I don’t know. Did this happen? Is Dick Clark still even involved in the New Year’s broadcast? Who is Dick Clark?)

  3. Also, you estimate it’s 13 people? Well I guestimate it’s a million. But I’m bad with numbers. How about you pick up a phone and figure out how many people were actually admitted to the hospital.

The article goes on to remark that the Beehive Fireworks Fesitval, which it calls “harrowing” (harrowing! What is this, a lantern festival or Jeepers Creepers II?), did not lead to any injuries. I’m not really understanding the focus of this article. If there’s a harrowing fireworks festival that happens every year, isn’t that the story? Shouldn’t something be done about that? I saw season 5 of The Wire, I know all about journalism.

As for my lantern festival: no one got hit in the face with fireworks, but I did go to Gristle’s uncle’s house and spent 4 harrowing hours with him. And then I spent 4 more hours with him today because he was set on buying a cellphone with a built-in Chinese/German dictionary. If you don’t think that exists, that’s because it obviously doesn’t, but since when does Gristle listen to reason?