Thursday, March 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Doc!

Happy birthday, Surry!

Today is a very special birthday for my friend, mentor and executive producer, Surry.  We met many years ago, when he was kind enough to give me a summer job while I was in college.  Since then, Surry has taught me so many life lessons.  He's provided wisdom, encouragement, stern talking to's that keep me in line, and more.

Surry served in Vietnam during the war as a medic.  I'm told that the medics were in short order, which meant they worked like dogs and slept very little.  If the medics were sleeping, people were dying.  Yet he's remained very humble about it all.  Other people tell me about the great things he did in Vietnam and all of the things he continues to do today.  I've been very lucky to witness some of that first hand, too.

Surry's a kindred spirit, interested in so many different things.  He's not afraid to try his hand at something new, whether it's surfing, teaching people about medicine, hiking to mountain tops, opening new businesses or traveling abroad.  He's generous with his time, advice and encouragement.  He's the type of guy you want to write an autobiography (uhem: hint, hint).

I hope that today is a delightful day for you, Surry!  Keep on making the world a better place.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Updates on the Next #TriFilm

By request, we're working on another #TriFilm event.  This is a very informal evening designed to be in the same room with people who love film as much as you do.  We have a tentative date set for Tuesday, March 23 from 6-8PM so mark your calendar and register here:  We'll keep you posted on the location, as we think we have a good one.  It's a spot that is central to the Triangle, has a private room, and even has a large screen should we want to show some films from a laptop.  More announcements on the way!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ignite Raleigh 2

This Wednesday is Ignite Raleigh 2, an event I attended last year and really enjoyed.  The folks that organize it do an amazing job.  

These guys have really shaped the social media community in Raleigh, and I am a big fan of them and their work.  They pull together fascinating, energetic and passionate people that always teach me something new.  It's a great group, and they put together really fun events.  I confess that I take them for granted, but want to give them a big public thank you for all that they do.  Keep up the good work, guys!

Go to Ignite Raleigh 2 this Wednesday night.  You can learn more about the event on the website:  The basis is that a presenter gets five minutes and 20 slides (that auto-rotate) to talk about a subject of their choice.  The presenters have been chosen by the community who has voted for them over the past weeks.  Some of my friends will be presenting on topics like "Everyone Needs a Dumb Guy" by Chris Moody, "13 Reasons Women Should Take Up Boxing" by Lisa Creech Bledsoe, and "Anti-Social Media: Breaking Connections for Fun and Profit" by Jay Dolan.

While I have been looking forward to the event for months, and I mean months, I have decided not to attend this week so that I can keep working on the rough cut of Abandoned Allies.  This month marks two years that we have been working on the film.  I've been on lock down lately trying to get the rough cut finished so that we can release the film this summer.

If you're attending Ignite Raleigh 2, please share my hellos with everyone!  I will certainly be missing you all, knowing you're having such a fun time!

The Term Montagnard & Jarai Online Dictionary

To the unacquainted, the term Montagnard can be a bit confusing and the pronunciation can give people some trouble.  Here is a fairly accurate audio clip of the word so you can hear it pronounced:  Keep in mind, people pronounce the word differently, so you won't hear it pronounced exactly like the robotic version at  There's more fluidity to the word when it's used, and people will say the first half a little differently.  Some say "mont" and others say "munt" so it depends on who is using the word.  The "g" is silent, which throws off some English-speaking folks.  

Anyway, the term is kind of like American Indian or Native American--in that it is a term from outsiders used to reference a lot of different tribes, each of which have their own culture and language.  It began when the French were in the highlands of Vietnam, and began referencing the tribes collectively as Montagnards which is a derivative of the French word montagne (meaning mountain in English).  The term Montagnard basically means mountain people.  There are some other terms, but we'll stick to just one for the sake of brevity for this post.

One of the largest Montagnard tribes is Jarai.  I have had the pleasure of meeting a few members of the Jarai tribe that live in North Carolina while working on this film.  They have been very kind to me, sharing their culture, history and time.  It is something I definitely don't take for granted.

The image to the left is a map of Vietnam created by one of our cast members, Charlie Long, who was a missionary with his wife, EG, in Vietnam.  Charlie spent time documenting about 30 Montagnard tribes and languages.  (He even translated the Bible into one of the Montagnard languages.)  This map details where the tribes were located, and right in the middle there is a section showing the Jarai tribe.  You can see that it's much larger than many of the others.

One of the members of the Jarai tribe, whom I have already written about is a man named Lap.  He has been working on a Jarai-English dictionary for quite some time.  That's probably an understatement.  He's been working hard on it for, well, as long as I've known him (and we've been working on Abandoned Allies for about two years now).

Lap emailed me this weekend to say that the dictionary he's been working on is now online!  I can't imagine how excited he must be about this achievement.  Lap has been meeting with the elders in his community to build this dictionary, one that I believe includes about 3,000 words.  He gathered details on Jarai words, different meanings, and the English translation.  

This is a huge accomplishment, to say the least.  I think it may very well be the first online Montagnard dictionary, too.  It is published by TshwaneDje Human Language Technology based in South Africa, as Lap tells me.  

Enjoy using the dictionary:  Feel free to post any comments on the dictionary here on this blog, so that Lap can see your feedback.  Tell him congrats or words of encouragement.  I know he'll appreciate it!