Thursday, October 19, 2017

Groovy Tunes

Blade Runner 2049 Soundtrack, Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch

We're living in a pre-apocalyptic nightmare the only solution to which might be global nuclear annihilation and letting the cockroaches finally take over, but at least there's a good soundtrack available for us to listen to.

Love And Theft

It's a national stereotype that Western nations produce intellectual property, while China merely copies it.  In the case of South Korean T.V. (shows of which are popular throughout Asia), it just might be true:
"When Chinese television network Hunan TV announced late August on its official Weibo account its lineup for the upcoming television season, it was met with criticism over possible plagiarism by not only Koreans but also Chinese audiences, who wrote comments saying, 'It’s gone too far. Stop plagiarizing.' and 'I feel so embarrassed.' 
The description of one of the shows, 'The Inn,' sounded quite similar to JTBC’s 'Hyori’s Homestay' that wrapped late last month. The Korean show follows Korean pop diva Lee Hyori and her husband, guitarist Lee Sang-soon, offering accommodations at their home in Jeju Island to travelers. Similarly, 'The Inn' is a reality program centering on two famous celebrity couples offering accommodations to visitors. 
Amid the backlash, its first episode aired on Saturday. The show took a famous married couple, actress Liu Tao and businessman Wang Ke, to a remote area near Lugu Lake in Yunnan, where homes set against the beautiful landscape were prepared for the stars to take in guests. The first episode did not reveal much, as it showcased the celebrities getting ready for their guests by setting up equipment and purchasing ingredients to prepare meals. How much it will parallel 'Hyori’s Homestay' will be seen in the upcoming episodes."
I've actually never warmed up to the charms of Korean dramas.  Even K-Pop is occasionally good for a laugh or an ear-worm of a chorus, but when my Korean friends discuss the merits of the their favorite shows I, ahem, tune out.

Note:  Advanced Conversation posts are based on articles I've discussed with my adult conversation students.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"you are part of the problem"

Lindsey Adler pulls no punches as to why Weinstein and Cosby and Trump are a male problem, first and foremost:
"If you are a man who truly didn’t know—who has now heard something on this line from a woman you are close to and who is finally opening up with her story to you about a mutual friend, or family member, or colleague—ask yourself why it took so long. Ask why it took yet another run through the cycle for her to trust you. Ask yourself why the women you know haven’t shared the massive accumulation of information they have stored on their mental hard drives by their 20s if not before with the men who are good, who know better than to treat women as objects.
If you leave this issue to women, if you refuse to make your friends or yourself be better—whether by intervention or by consequence—you are part of the problem, no matter what you make of yourself. If you are closing yourself off from the information that has been out there for too long to be worth considering about gender, power, and violence, or the cyclical flows of personal anecdotes about them, you are not excused. It has been too long, too obvious, and presented too many ways for anyone to claim ignorance."
This is why "rape culture" is still such an effective term to describe what's going on these days.  Most men go through life never raping anybody (congratulations, I guess?).  All men do, to some extent, contribute actively or passively to constructing environments where women can be, in fact, raped, or at least harassed, cat-called, stared at, or made to feel creeped out.

Adler is pessimistic that things will change after Weinstein, but she's spitting fire here against the passive, enabling "not all men" perspective.

Deep Political Thought of the Day

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Eleven Thoughts On Bladerunner 2049 (Spoilers!)

1)  The soundtrack is dope.

2)  The female lead performances (Luv, Joi) are incredible.

3)  In fact, I found myself wanting to go deeper into the relationship between K and Joi.  That really felt like the center of the film to me.

4)  The virtual threesome was rad, and it felt like one of the few times these days that CGI is done right, to produce a unique and interesting effect, not just to vomit pixels all over the screen.

5)  Harrison Ford was O.K., but a script that didn't use him might have been even better.  He didn't really need to be in this other than for fan service purposes.

6)  At this stage of advanced late capitalism I have very mixed feelings about Jared Leto, but he was a commanding presence.  At the same time, he felt under-used.  Why no backstory?

7)  I liked the ending but no, K didn't die.  He's just taking a nap and catching snow flakes on his tongue.

8)  The biggest problem of the whole film is the relationship between Wallace and the cops.  Like, Luv just straight-up murders the forensic team dude to steal Rachel's DNA and nobody seems to care much about it.  Then she murders the goddamn police chief and it all seems like no big deal to anybody.  I get that Philip K. Dick (and William Gibson after him) is all about how corporations have complete power in the future, even above governments and nation-states, but this seemed really under-cooked and confusing to me.

9)  K kills off Luv and the Wallace stooges and Wallace doesn't respond?  Doesn't do anything to retaliate, even though he's super-powerful rich scientist man?  He's all-rich and all-powerful except when he isn't?

10)  The final fight scene is kind of cool except when the camera cuts to Ford and he literally has no idea what to do with his body or hands since he's tied to a chair.  Really kills the tension.  (Have I mentioned he really didn't need to be in this film?)

11)  Also problematically under-cooked -- the whole replicant underground resistance plot.  It seems like they should have been done more than provide a hooker for the threesome and to tell K he's not really the chosen one.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

"nanny nanny boo boo"

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile, "Blue Cheese"

Bladerunner 2049 opened here in lovely South Korea today, and I should be able to get to the theater tomorrow.  Dennis Villeneuve can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned.

Meanwhile, here's a song from the perfectly pleasant new collaboration between Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile.  And hey, that's Janet Weiss on drums.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

More On Why Soccer Doesn't Work In America

This whole article from 2016 (!) is worth reading as it really digs into the cultural and economic factors inhibiting the creation of a more successful national men's soccer squad in the U.S., but this part stood out:
"Economics work against the poor kids in American soccer. Lusson sees this every week as he moves between the teenage girls team he coaches in the wealthy San Francisco enclave of Pacific Heights, and the teams he manages in lower-income Hayward. One night, a few weeks ago, he listened as girls on the Pacific Heights team talked excitedly about applications to elite east coast colleges. The next day, in Hayward, nobody talked about college.
And yet he is amazed by the skill of his Hayward players, who he says would crush the Pacific Heights team in a match. These are the players who could be the future of American soccer, perhaps even rising as high as a national team. But he also knows that the Pacific Heights players will be the ones to play on their college teams and will be identified by US Soccer. They are the ones who will get a chance that the Hayward kids won’t. And this strikes Lusson as very wrong."
I'd only add that genuine skill in basketball, American football, and these days to a lesser extent baseball, are still possible golden tickets out of poverty.  It's a shame soccer can't seem to catch on as a "real" sport in my home country.

And with the disaster in Trinidad, it really feels like we're stepping back a few decades.  And to beat my dead horsie, Klinsmann got us to the round of 16 a mere three years ago.  That seems about the best result possible with the talent ceiling we have now, and encouraging U.S. players to go to Europe was the right thing to do.