Monday, March 21, 2011

We can all help

It never ceases to amaze me the good that disaster and tragedy brings out in people. On March 11, 2011 Japan was hit by a (literally) earth-shattering 8.9 earthquake, then a tsunami. These events caused destruction like nothing we've ever seen. Thousands are dead, many more are missing or hurt… and almost half a million people are homeless. Now on top of that, the country is facing a nuclear crisis.

The people of Japan need help rebuilding their homes and their lives, and it's been really awesome to see how many American people, companies and businesses have stepped up to help. It's inspiring. Japan has come to the aid of Hurricane Katrina victims, as well as other natural disaster victims and communities around the world. Now they need our help…. it is estimated the damage is over $180 billion.

If you haven't guessed already, this post is about helping with disaster relief in Japan. I've put together some easy ways to do just that.

Thanks to modern technology, it's so easy to donate money. You can donate from your phone, just with a simple text:

• American Red Cross. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
• Convoy of Hope, Inc. Text TSUNAMI to 50555 to give $10.
• GlobalGiving. Text JAPAN to 50555 to give $10.
• The Salvation Army. Text JAPAN to 80888 to make a $10 donation.
• International Medical Corps. Text MED to 80888 to give $10.
• Mercy Corps. Text MERCY to 25383 to donate $10.
• Save the Children. Text JAPAN or TSUNAMI to 20222 to donate $10.
• World Vision. Text 4JAPAN or 4TSUNAMI to 20222 to donate $10.
• To donate $10 through UNICEF, text JAPAN to 864233.

The American Red Cross is working with the Japanese Red Cross, and assisting the Japanese government in its response. You can donate to the Red Cross via text as listed above, or you can go to their website here. As of last Wednesday afternoon, the Red Cross had received $2.6 million through text messages and $47 million overall.

A donation to Samaritan's Purse will help them to distribute food, clean water, medicine, blankets, weatherproof plastic and other essentials to survivors. Last week, Samaritan's Purse delivered essential water purification equipment, because clean water has been one of the biggest shortages in Japan since the tsunami. The day after the quake, they sent over $200,000. From what I've read, Samaritan's Purse works to respond with essential supplies and equipment and support that the Japanese government is saying they need the most, so rest assured that your donation will count towards something vital to the survival of people who've lost everything and are clinging to life and hope.

If you donate on, Crunchyroll will match your donation, so if you donate $10, $20 will go to Japan. Click HERE to donate.

On you can purchase food to be sent to Japan. They are a small company and I love that they are doing this. They include a handwritten note in every box of food, written in Japanese that the box was a donation from the American people to help our friends. Love love love.

Shelter Box USA
is sending boxes full of supplies, including shelter and blankets to the people of Japan who have lost their homes. You can easily donate, amounts even as little as $1, because every little bit helps.

There are also a few free ways to help:

"Like" Dog Bless You on Facebook, and $1 will be donated to the organization to help finance search and rescue dogs in Japan. Rescue dogs are finding people every day, and you can help with a single click of your mouse.

On YouTube, if you leave a positive comment on this video the maker of the video will donate 50 cents to help Japan.


I could go on and on with ways people are helping. This is just scratching the surface. Sometimes it seems like all over the world, all humans are interested in doing is fighting each other. I hate that. I want to see more of this generosity and caring across cultures. I want to see all humans help each other. Whether you are able to donate $1 or $100, know you have helped someone who desperately needs it. I am so grateful to who I have listed in this post, and to the many more who are helping our brothers and sisters in Japan. You are wonderful.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Welcome to Earth

So right now aliens are invading our theaters, and I'm thinking… maybe I should write a movie post that doesn't involve my beloved zombies for a change. I am well-rounded enough in my tastes to do that… I think.

You see, there are two movies that I'm pretty excited about. This weekend, Battle: Los Angeles hit theaters, and Paul will start playing this Friday. I understand these are two very different movies but they have one thing in common: ALIENS.

I'll start with Battle: Los Angeles. I've been excited about this movie for months. I've watched every trailer, read updates and checked out movie stills. It. Looks. Awesome. Remember that feeling you had when the White House blew up in the Independence Day trailer? I got that same feeling with the first Battle: Los Angeles trailer. Unfortunately though folks, I'm not hearing good things about it. From the trailer, I'm seeing jaw-dropping effects and a plot line that looks reminiscent of an old-fashioned sci-fi movie about a catastrophic alien invasion intent on wiping out human kind. That is what I want to see. What I'm hearing from critics is that it's vapid eye-candy and little else. Honestly, even though it would be nice to have a little substance in a story that focuses around an alien invasion apocalypse, eye candy may be all I need from this. It looks like a blast and I can't wait to see it. Besides, it's not like Independence Day could ever be called the Citizen Kane of alien movies… it had Bill Pullman in it for shit's sake. Lighten up critics, and just enjoy it.

Now let's look at Paul. This one is a comedy. There is no catastrophic invasion, just one little green man who's escaped from Area 51. I love it already. First, look at the cast. It stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who are the guys from one of my all-time favorite movies, Shaun of the Dead. The alien is voiced by Seth Rogen, and then you have Sigourney Weaver, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Jeffrey Tambor and Jane Lynch. Awesome, right? I laugh my ass off whenever I see the trailer, and I intend to laugh even harder at the actual movie. Again, not Citizen Kane… but seriously what do you expect from a movie about an alien?

Which brings me to part two of this post. I definitely have favorites when it comes to little green men invading our little blue planet. Now, I could put true classics like the original War of the Worlds or Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind… and don't get me wrong those are GREAT movies… but I'd rather sit on my couch and watch something more fun. Here are my top 5 favorite aliens-on-Earth movies:

1. Predator 1987

In a word? Classic. In another word? Awesome. You've got a stealthy, invisible bad-ass alien creature vs none other than Arnold Fucking Schwarzenegger. In a fucking jungle. This movie is the ultimate in bad-ass. It's violent, has cheesy Schwarzenegger-esque one-liners, and takes us back to a time when there were real badasses out there in Hollywood, not pretty boys in their skinny jeans. You can't kick an alien's ass in skinny jeans… there just isn't enough mobility.

2. The Thing 1982

Bridging the gap between the horror and sci-fi genres, The Thing is a gross and creepy classic. First of all, you have Kurt Russell, a man's-man with epic hair. Then you have an alien parasitic creature that can take over and shape itself into any living thing. Throw in the subzero wasteland that is Antarctica and you've got some scary good times. I mean, how can you battle something if you don't know what it looks like… or who?

3. District 9 2009

Probably the last big alien invasion movie to come out, it was an instant favorite for me. In fact, I have stated numerous times that it was my favorite movie of 2009, beating out The Hangover, Iglourious Basterds and Avatar. Like many of the best sci-fi movies ever made, this one had a strong social message and theme, yet didn't come off as preachy. It came off as a warning. I felt strong emotions toward the characters and was on the edge of my seat the entire film, not just for the action sequences. The effects were flawlessly integrated with live action. It was just a masterpiece.

4. Independence Day 1996

I'd never seen anything like this movie when it came out. Loud, flashy, and completely over-the-top… and that's just the movie's star, WIll Smith. Hur. Hur. ANYway I still watch it every time it comes on, because you really can't have more fun watching a movie than with this one.

5. Mars Attacks 1996

Ok, for this one you either love it or hate it. I loved it, a great combination of spoofing on and paying homage to all the alien invasion movies that came before it… plus in has Jack Nicholson.


Now, my favorite alien movies are the Alien franchise, but I couldn't include them because they take place in space and not on Earth. Sorry Dr. Ripley.