Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

I still miss Christmas a little bit but frankly, Thanksgiving means close to nothing to me after nine years in South Korea.  Sure, I miss my family, and home-made food comas are always welcome, but since it's not a holiday here (Christmas day is, interestingly) it just doesn't register with me any longer.

That said, by all means this Thursday, feel free to call out your racist uncle on his #MAGA-bullshit:
"If you’ve got a truly virulent bigot awaiting at Thanksgiving, it’s important to remember that this person is bitter and afraid of having the privilege that comes with being rich or white or male (or all three) stripped away from them as marginalized groups fight for liberation. If they don’t see anything wrong with using homophobic language or screaming about the Second Amendment while everyone’s trying to enjoy their turkey and mashed potatoes, then you probably shouldn’t feel awkward about letting a few curse words fly in pursuit of telling them to shut the hell up.
In Hallmark movies, Thanksgiving is all about bringing families together to share in an expression of gratitude, but let’s not deny that these gatherings are more complex than that. The personal has always been political, and what happens in our homes has actual impact on the world outside them. Is there a better opportunity than this moment, when everyone is sharing a meal, to bring people together in a way that actually, honestly invites everyone to the table? If we are truly committed to justice for all, we have to create just spaces wherever we are. Our failure to translate private disapproval of bigotry into public protest, even at the dinner table, is an endorsement of immeasurable cruelty."
A vote for Trump was a vote for a racist pussy-grabbing fascist who is totes cool with the live dismemberment of dissident journalists.  I can think of plenty of lesser reasons to cut ties with family and friends, or at least to actively mock, shame, and shun them forever and ever.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Documenting The Atrocities

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Inside (Korean) Baseball

I'd be lying if I told you I wouldn't shiv your grandma if it would net me one of these vintage Hyundai Unicorn jerseys.

This here humble Korea blog officially loves Korean baseball -- the chanting, the cheerleaders, the fried chicken and blood sausage, the bat-flipping, the beer.  Nothing better.

This article does a nice job of explaining the intricacies of Korean baseball team names -- the first thing to know is that neither the city nor the mascot is usually referred to like in American ball, but rather the corporate sponsor.  It can get pretty complicated:
"The Nexen Heroes exited the 2018 KBO playoffs early and nameless.
When the Heroes crashed out of the playoffs in the fifth game of a down-to-the-wire postseason clash with the SK Wyverns, the club’s sponsorship contract with Nexen came to an end.
Immediately after getting knocked out of the postseason, the team officially became the Seoul Heroes, the only team in the KBO without a sponsor in their name. The name Seoul Heroes didn’t last very long, though. Just week later, the club finalized a deal with securities firm Kiwoom Securities. The club is now tentatively being referred to as the Kiwoom Heroes, although its official name won’t be revealed until January.
This isn’t the first time that the Heroes have been rebranded. The club started life as the Sammi Superstars in 1982 and has since existed as the Chungbo Pintos, the Taepyungyang Dolphins, the Hyundai Unicorns, the Woori Heroes and simply the Heroes."
I mean, come on -- do team mascots get any better than these?

No they do not.

And my first ball game in Korea was watching the now defunct Woori Heroes (pics over at the old blog).

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Excelsior! Part Two

I thought the internet would be a lot harsher on Stan Lee but I was wrong.  (I am usually wrong!)  Here's a really nice piece on how "Stan Lee Taught a Generation of Black Nerds About Race, Art, and Activism":
"It wasn’t until later in life, when I started studying and teaching about comics instead of just reading them, that I learned that none of this was a fluke. Stan Lee was an activist artist, a Jewish guy born to Romanian immigrants parents in New York who hated bigotry. He was explicit about it in both his Stan’s Soapbox editorials that ran across all Marvel Comics. He called bigots 'Low IQ Yo-Yos,' he said that anybody who generalized about blacks, women, Italians or whoever hadn’t truly evolved as a person.
He was doing this in comic pages when mainstream newspaper editorials were still deciding if black folks should be able to live where they wanted. When Marvel Comics were afraid that the Black Panther character would be associated with the Black Panther political movement, Stan Lee pushed for T’Challa to keep his name (at one point they wanted to call him Coal Tiger). All of this at a time when even having a black person in a comic was still considered controversial. Just last October, Lee posted a spontaneous video on the Marvel’s YouTube page stating the foundation of Marvel Comics was to fight for equality and battle against bigotry and injustice."
As mentioned, without Stan Lee's talent at self-promotion comic books would remain the marginal bits of niche culture they once were, not today's drivers of Hollywood.

It's no surprise that Lee and Kirby's creations were the original Social Justice Warriors which is to say, heroes.


Monday, November 12, 2018

"they will never come back"

Is it even worth quoting from Trump think pieces any more?  Arguably, no.  But David Roth doesn't pull punches:
"Trump and a lot of the people in his thrall are, it seems safe to say, gone. They will continue to walk among us—Trump will be in a golf cart—but they will never come back. They are somewhere else. There is nothing they are not prepared to believe if the right people say it; they will choose the right lie over any truth not just without regret but with pride.
America loves to tell stories about itself to itself, and if these are not all quite lies they are mostly much sweeter and safer than fact. The lies that Trump has told since his party lost badly in the midterm elections have ranged from the usual—the loss was actually a win, thank you to all—into more explicit and desperate denial. It’s not a new thing for Republicans to justify voter suppression and resist vote-counting, but as Trump has subsumed his party the importance of his particular fantasies—Trump still, somehow, does everything off the opening position that he has never been wrong or lost—the attendant need to make his lies true has grown and grown. He will lie if the truth doesn’t fit and millions will hear that lie as a truth for that reason. Order will supersede Law, because it is easier that way. This is all open field. Anything that needs be can be labeled a fraud or the bought-and-paid-for result of a conspiracy, any fact can be made into something else afterwards."
Things will get worse before they get better.  But I do feel as if, unlike a year ago, things are going to get better.  Watching Trump crumble in real time is a delicious start.  But as he falls apart, how often and how strongly does he lash out, and how strongly will his Republican Party continue to defend him?

But for now, the feeble-ass motherfucker can't even go outside in the rain.


Godspeed, Stan Lee.

I realize it's not very cool to mitigate the obvious facts -- Lee took a lot of credit (and money) for the hard work of visual craftsmen like Jack Kirby.  (I highly recommend this Kirby biography / coffee table book).  But if Lee was rapacious, he was also a brilliant promoter who managed to bring some incredibly weird-ass shit into the pop culture imagination.  (Let's not forget, superhero and horror comics used to be much less popular than Westerns and Romance ones -- Lee pretty much blew that dynamic out of the water.)

The issues of authorship in comics, the tension between writer and artist, remain fascinating, especially now that they've become staples of mainstream Hollywood film.