Friday, December 26, 2008

All I Want for Christmas is Hanukkah

Christmas in Korea is not nearly as crass and blaring as America. I went to a restaurant with my stepmom's relatives and ate a ton of food and that was that.

At some point recently I passed the halfway point (6 months) in my Korean life. I have less than 100 days of teaching left, but it's spread over 6 months. I'm pretty sure I won't be doing a second year in Korea. Not anytime soon, anyway.

My vacation just started. Woo.

Dark Knight. It was pretty good and watchable, I guess. "Good action movie" - isn't that what the kids say. Kind of reminded me of Casino Royale the way it kept moving and upping the ante. Or like a "greatest hits" version of the best action scenes in the comic. But it also didn't really feel like the cool detective ninja in the Batman comics. Partly because of Christopher Nolan's clunky fight choreography (I complained about this my cutting-edge Batman Begins review). And also because this could have been James Bond in a costume (and kind of a lame costume in this film). None of the Batman movies seem to pick up that he's "the world's greatest detective." Christian Bale is a great Bruce Wayne, though. It's just when he puts on the Batman mask and starts speaking in a retarded growl . . . some things just shouldn't migrate from the printed page.

I think I have definite ideas about what Batman is because I grew up on the comics. Writers like Denny O'Neil, Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, and Frank Miller got the Batman concept so right that almost everything else looks wrong. I could write a lot more but everybody else already did so what's the point.

For the next Batman movie they should get a new actor and director, set it forty years in the future, and do
Dark Knight Returns. I'm not a big fan of that comic (the Frank Miller Batman I like is Batman: Year One) but it'd be a good way to keep the franchise fresh.

I listened to Malcolm Gladwell's
Outliers. I kind of like Gladwell's idea about the 10,000 hour rule, but Gladwell himself kind of annoys me. I've read all his books, and I'd love to parody his prose style in fiction. And whenever I see an interview with him I want to punch him.

Tried listening to the new Antony and the Johnsons album, got bored.

It's hella cold out. And yet... I kind of get used to it when it's not windy. Suddenly anything over 40 seems nice and toasty.

Planning a big trip for late '09 - at least three continents, methinks.

I'll try to blog more now that I'm off.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Top Ten of Albums ?2008?

2008 is like gone, solid gone, daddy-o.

Instead. Here's my top 10 albums I've heard in the past few days. At least three of them are crap. You're probably better just staring at the cover and humming your own tunes based on the art.

Canned garagey beats and Mr. Lif-esque peasant rap.

This is like a happy version of Kid A... It's like Phileas Fogg vs. Helen Keller.

Arguably the best album cover of the past 200 years. The album is like The Neverending Story if Prince had played the little boy instead of Mikey from the Wheaties box.

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Friday, December 12, 2008


"And who told YOU as there was anybody here?" inquired Jenny's husband, who had made a surly stop in his eating to listen and now measured him with his eye.

"A person of the name of Michael Jackson, with a blue welveteen waistcoat with a double row of mother of pearl buttons," Mr. Bucket immediately answered.

"He had as good mind his own business, whoever he is," growled the man.

"He's out of employment, I believe," said Mr. Bucket apologetically for Michael Jackson, "and so gets talking."

- Bleak House, Charles Dickens

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Random Pictures Near My Work This Morning

I went walking around my work this morning and took a few pictures near the Korean comics museum and a dilapidated amusement park.

I'm sure parents try to keep their kids from riding the "Nude Viking."

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bright Attack

I've barely taught this week and won't have any classes again till next Thursday thanks to finals. So it's good because I can relax a little, but it's also a bit slow when I don't interact with the kids. Yesterday I went walking and found a hiking trail in the hills behind my school and took it quite a ways back. The weather's nice right now. I got off at noon today and when I got home my apartment was so bright. I usually leave by 8 AM and return at 5 PM or later so my apartment isn't usually so lit up when I'm here:

(I also decided not to pick up the clothes scattered around the living room to show you how disorganized I am)

It reminded me to charge my camera batteries and how I hardly ever post photos. I should show you how crazy Korean neighborhoods look.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

There Will Be Ice

There was ice hanging from the bus stop yesterday. As the weather gets colder I think I'll be staying in more and catching up on movies. I finally watched There Will Be Blood. For some reason I thought I'd be very disappointed - it has a long running time and P.T. Anderson can't really do movies about the "olden days", can he?

The movie feels hella Kubrick to me, and I love Kubrick. So much minutiae and orchestration. Amazing. The only thing that confused me a little was the twin thing with Paul and Eli. It felt unnecessary - probably something from Upton Sinclair's book.

I don't think I've seen any movies in theaters since last December. I was supposed to see There Will Be Blood in theaters (I'm amazed at how accurately I predicted films I would like - I've seen all on that list except Youth Without Youth, which got lukewarm reviews).

Here's Ebert's best of 2008 list, but Iron Man's on there so don't take it too seriously.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Roger Ebert Quote

"A very well-made film, wall to-wall with F/X violence. Its major flaw is that it's disgusting."

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Homage to Catatonia

Christmas is my next vacation day, but then I have to work the day after Christmas. Can you believe it? I don't think I'll have classes, I just go in to the school for closing ceremonies (this is the end of the school year in Korea).

But then it gets good and I will remember why I picked a public school over a hagwon...
(Keep in mind, I already had over 3 weeks paid vacation in the summer)

December 27 - January 11 = NO WORK!!!
January 12-16 & January 19-23 = Work a two-hour winter class each day.
January 24 - February 8 = NO WORK!
February 9 - 17 = Be at school for meetings but no real classes.
February 18 - March 1 = I may have to go in a day or two for meetings, but essentially no work.

And then regular classes start again in March. The current 7th graders (300 of them because the school just opened this year) become 8th graders and we get 300 more 7th graders, doubling the number of students. And then I'll teach them for a little over 3 months and then my contract's up, and then...

Well, we'll see. I'm approaching the halfway point in my 12-month contract.

I haven't blogged much lately because in addition to teaching I'm spending time doing freelance work via America (via the internet), graphic design related, that pays real cash money (American dollar$), and I will say no more other than I would love to be self-employed. I like teaching and I like doing "alone-work" too and think I would go crazy if I just did one or the other, but if I'm gonna do them I want to set my own hours and not have to be somewhere because a clock says so. Maybe this will help me get there.

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One Might Indeed Ponder the Imponderables of Time and Space

Skeletal Lamping is an album that initially disappointed me. I went back to it recently and haven't stopped playing it and have to say I've completely reversed. In a year in which I've barely listened to any vocal albums (mainly I play classical), Skeletal Lamping fascinates me with its packed impressionistic blurbs that could easily expand into 10 albums. Not so much a concept album as hypercompression - it's either one long song or 50 little songs. Kevin Barnes tries to pull off a Ziggy Stardust with his "Georgie Fruit" character, but it never fully emerges as a separate identity and most of the time I think that's just a defense mechanism for all the diary-like thoughts composing the lyrics, words that move between the mythical and the mundane. And a lot of it's pretentious and sophomoric - the major themes are drugs and having sex with fans, but that's not too far off the last few albums (Hissing Fauna and The Sunlandic Twins are much more accessible, however). That being said, I embrace the lyrics as they are and thoroughly soak in the album's schizophrenic mood shifts. Of Montreal have come a long way since the folky rock of Cherry Peel, and they're one of my favorite bands.


Iron Man has sharp bantering, a fast story, and memorable characters. But it's still just a superhero story for kids, disposable. I doubt I'd ever be compelled to watch it again.

What I would rather see, as soon as we invent a time machine, is sending an Iron Man DVD (and DVD player) back in time to 1930s era Charlie Chaplin and having him remake
Iron Man with 1930s technology. That would be far more interesting than Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man (or Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin).


I had to use Excel yesterday and I never use Excel. God, what a shitty counterintuitive ugly piece of software.


Sunday I went to Suwon where the Hwaseong fortress has a wall about 4 miles long that stretches around the city and I walked all of it. It's like an abridged version of the Great Wall of China. My camera batteries were dead but here's an internet photo.

But it wasn't snowing and was actually beautiful weather. People say Seoul-area has smog but it's not bad in fall and actually incredibly clear some days. It also hasn't really snowed yet. It started to snow one day but then melted and it's been okay since. But later this week that might change.

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