Thursday, January 29, 2009


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wind Beneath My Wings

Growing up in Southern California, I took certain things for granted. Beaches, warm weather, hot girls. Only when I saw other parts of the country and world did I realize how depraved some places are. There are some places where they don't have beaches. There are some places where the woman are like Jabberwockies. And there are many, many places that get cold in the winter. These places are what I like to call "stupid."

My first mistake was Seattle. I lived there a year and it was like the coldest winter in 80,000 years with snow and other nonsense.

And now I'm in Korea and it's been cold since November and the heat is only now beginning to vaguely trickle in and hint at a spring in a month or two. But there's still snow on the sidewalks.

I've been thinking about the next place I'll "live", and for a while I was considering Portland. But it gets pretty cold in the winter there, too.

So now I'm giving serious thought to San Luis Obispo. High of 74 degrees tomorrow. That's what I'm talking 'bout. (read the last sentence with an Ebonic accent)

In other news, today was lunar/Chinese/Korean new year, which seems to close more businesses than the Jesus new year you celebrate in the West. I'm on vacation and letting my face hair grow so I look more Jesus-esque. I would wear a white robe and get a tan like Ted Neeley but it's too effin cold.

P.S. > I was trying to find an image of the Jabberwocky from the awesome 1985 version of Alice in Wonderland (the one with Scott Baio and Ringo Starr - seriously) to supplement this blog entry ... but the internet failed me. Trust me, it was scary in a low-budget 1980s sort of way.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Book Cover of the Day

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Once Again

Every now and then I check on Mark Leyner's career to see how far he's fallen since his 1997 masterpiece, The Tetherballs of Bougainville. The last thing was a horrible Middle East corporation film, War, Inc.

But now he's cashing in once again with another crappy medical humor book he's known to co-author. This time it's called Let's Play Doctor. I haven't read it, but it's got a phat 1.5 stars on amazon, and this review:

In case you're inclined to view Leyner's previous career (as a uniquely sardonic wit and social satirist) as the product of a bargain struck with Mephistopheles, these "doctor books" he now dashes off in conjunction with this Goldberg character can be viewed as what comes after the twist ending - when Satan shows up at the book-signing party demanding payment in full, and waving the signed contract like a combination past-due invoice and eviction notice.

The most bothersome aspect is the probability that something like LET'S PLAY DOCTOR is outselling ET TU, BABE by a ten-to-one margin, which is hardly Leyner's fault. But better he spends his free time with lawyers rather than doctors; what he needs is a contract-law barracuda to renegotiate his original deal with the devil, so he can get back to leaving bite-marks in corn dogs, posthaste.

I couldn't agree more.


Monday, January 19, 2009

OMG Tom Cruise is in South Korea!!

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Beauty and the DRM

Yesterday was the last day of my winter English camp for beginners and I showed Beauty and the Beast, which I'd argue is one of Disney's best films of the last twenty years. Unfortunately, I'd downloaded (without realizing it) the "Special" edition that has an extra five minutes or so and a horrible song, "Human Again." It's sandwiched between two other songs and makes the film bloated in that area.

But otherwise it holds up as a great film, and the sophisticated animation of the ballroom scene is still impressive almost twenty years later.

So I'm kind of amazed that you can't buy a new retail copy through Amazon. I think Disney repackages their material every five years or so for anniversary editions with new crap bonus glitter packaging, but forcing consumers to turn to ebay or whatever for a copy at any point seems like Disney throwing away money. But what do I care. I just wish I could have found a download with Korean subtitles.

Did you know the guy who wrote the songs for
Beauty and the Beast also did the ones for Little Shop of Horrors? But he's dead now.

I also showed this to my students and they liked it (the week's theme was "fairy tales"):

Started listening to Cory Doctorow's "Content" - an audiobook on copyright, DRM, etc. It's free, great, check it out.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Looking over this list of Bushisms, you have to wonder if the man isn't secretly some kind of verbal genius.

15. "It's important for us to explain to our nation that life is important. It's not only life of babies, but it's life of children living in, you know, the dark dungeons of the Internet."—Arlington Heights, Ill., Oct. 24, 2000

17. "People say, 'How can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil?' You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in's house and say I love you."—Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2002


Friday, January 09, 2009


This tilt-shift creator's kind of cool. It works best with bright-colored photos, and there are much better examples than mine (San Francisco and Oahu).

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Wrestler

I watched The Wrestler, which isn't what I expected it to be. More naturalistic than Aronofsky's other films, it still held my attention even though it has a lot of obvious wrestling scenes. It avoids the obvious payoffs and has an ambiguous ending. I don't know if it's a great film, but it's a very good film. If Aronofsky keeps going like this he'll have a very diverses oeuvre in ten years.

Also: Marisa Tomei plays a stripper and she's looking hella fine.

By the way, I love that I can download a DVD-quality copy of
The Wrestler before it even has wide release in the US.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

The Power of Full Engagement

I've read a lot of personal development books, and this one is one of the best I've come across:

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal

It's given me so many ideas about stress, exercise, recovery periods, habits, and rituals. For anyone who feels they are depleted physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually - check it out!

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Thursday, January 01, 2009


This year on New Year's eve I became my dad and went to bed before midnight, sleeping through the festivities with earplugs and a headache. And I felt at peace and warm and glad that I didn't go into Seoul or any crowd anywhere. The last week has been rather insane anyways in so many ways, and sometimes I wish I used this blog to record my personal life (I typed 4 pages in my journal yesterday) - basically I'm living at least four lives that I don't allow to intersect.

Before going to sleep I watched Tropic Thunder, which has some really great nuanced humor and Vietnam war cliches to the max... but has kind of a predictable structure that lumbers a bit at times. Still, I like it. And I didn't even recognize Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise at first! That's kind of impressive.

Think I have to go to the English bookstore in Itaewon in a day or two to get supplies for my English program. I haven't done any planning. The truth is out... I'm a horrible teacher. Well, I am when I don't have a plan. When I do, I'm OK.

I once heard someone compare Itaewon (the foreigner neighborhood in Seoul) to Mos Eisley in the first Star Wars, and that's kind of accurate. Everything feels stupider, gaudier, grosser, louder, drunker. Too many cultures in too small a space - too much American military - too many prostitute bars - too much English and too many people speaking broken English.

But there's an English bookstore there so I go from time to time.

You know, as much as there are times when I truly enjoy Korea, I was probably ready to leave after two or three months. It's been great for me financially, and my living situation is pretty sweet, but unless I'm fluent in the language (which ain't gonna happen) I'll always be this waygook (foreigner) here. Even if I spoke perfect Korean I would be that outsider, because Korea is all about homogeneity. I watched Korean TV (a rare occasion for me) tonight and I saw more clearly than ever how much Korean fashion is all about uniforms. You have your work clothes, your casual clothes, your formal casual clothes, your sports clothes, your hiking clothes, your very formal clothes etc, and you know within one second of looking at someone what they are doing based on their clothes. All art and dance has a factory quality to it. It's all about togetherness, group spirit, no boundary between corporation and government.

Seriously, the US has some huge corporations, but it has a lot of huge corporations and a lot of medium-sized corporations and a lot of small corporations. In Korea you have a few big corporations. Period. And they own the baseball teams, the department stores, the manufacturing, everything! And nobody has any problem with that. In fact, they like it. Because it's not just SK Telecom, the evil corporation that has mutant sex with the government... it's SK Telecom, the company five of your friends and family work for.

A Korean friend of mine was looking for a job. I told him if I was a Korean citizen I'd start my own business because there are so many opportunities for goods and services not available in Korea, so many needs of foreigners that aren't being meet, so much room for innovation. I told him a few of my ideas just about getting better English teachers, for instance, and he agreed that they made sense. I asked him if he would like to start his own business - wouldn't that be great, I asked? "No!" he shook his head.

To strike out alone? To leave the security of the vast corporate group? Koreans have such independent tendencies beaten out of them at an early age. I was on the subway once talking with a Korean-American teacher from California. An old man said something to my friend in Korean. "What did he say?" I asked.

"He said to shut up," he said.

Yes, a stranger told us not to talk on the subway! We ignored him, of course, but that's very typically Korean.

Okay, I don't mean to sound cranky. This is the type of entry I usually write and don't post. But I haven't posted much lately.

I don't think I'm homesick, because I don't feel any great desire to be back in America, but I would like to go to some other places now. I think I'm just bad at staying anywhere for too long.

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