Wednesday, January 25, 2017

새해 복 많이 받으세요!

Happy Lunar New Year!  I taught my last adult class for the semester and I'm off for February.  Tomorrow I'm headed to Busan for the three-day holiday.

Who knows what fresh hell lies in store for us in 2017 but somehow "Year of the Cock" seems fitting enough.

Also, more of this please.

Hallyu Fatigue

As South Korea's president faces impeachment over cronyism, younger citizens have become skeptical of "excessive patriotism":
"Gukppong is short for gukga (nation) and ppong (a slang for methamphetamine).
Basically, it mocks when a person is being unconditionally patriotic or displaying irrational pride in one’s country. 
It’s often used in situations like when Koreans root for foreign sports clubs just because they have a Korean athlete; when Korean reporters ask a foreign actress who came to Korea to promote a film if they know kimchi (Korean fermented side dish); or when a Korean correspondent asks a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department in a regular briefing on state affairs and foreign diplomacy if she knows singer Psy."
The flip-side of excessive nationalism is, of course, overwhelming insecurity.  Cf. also America.

New Books!

Poorly lit picture of my new books!

The Last Days of New Paris, China Mieville
Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe, Thomas Ligotti
Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements, Bob Mehr
The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Seth Dickinson

Absolutely love the jacket on the Replacements book.

Monday, January 23, 2017

You're Welcome

In my ongoing attempts to restore some small bit of normalcy to a world gone insane thanks to the GOP and Trumpolini, I hereby state that I shall begin making very bad sportsball predictions once again.

Here we go:

Atlanta 37 -- New England 22

I'm hardly the biggest Falcons fan in the world but if you root for the Patriots you literally also root for Darth Vader and dick cancer.  It's science.

Winter Read

After enjoying the hell out of Matt Ruff's novel Lovecraft Country last summer, I just finished his earlier work Sewer, Gas, & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy from 1997.  (Which actually isn't a trilogy, technically).  If you only read one book by him I'd stick with the former, but S, G, & E has an undeniable energy and charm.

The obvious mile-marker is Pynchon, and maybe a bit of P.K. Dick, as a group of eccentrics, losers, radical environmentalists, and ultra-capitalists (including a robot version of Ayn Rand) race around (and under) New York City to undo a plot set in motion by J. Edgar Hoover and Walt Disney gone wrong.  Which is interesting, because the novel takes place in 2023.

That kind of manic energy carries the book a bit farther than possibly it deserves to go based on plot alone.  Also, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about one of the main protagonists by the end (could be entirely my problem, but some of the characters feel a bit under-cooked).

Still, I enjoyed most of it.  And I'd be willing to bet that at least some of the DNA of Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City came from here.

The highlight for me was probably Donald J. Trump dying in an ill-fated attempt to launch himself to the moon.  Not too shabby.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Worth A Read

Tim Heidecker, "Richard Spencer"

Here's a thing -- "20 Lessons from the 20th Century About How to Defend Democracy from Authoritarianism."

My own two cents?  Your mental and physical health are things.  They matter.  Take care of yourself.  Get regular exercise.

Beyond that, look for ways, even small ways, to make human connections.

The Resistance

I'm a loner by nature and generally not a big fan of large gatherings.  That said, seeing the historic turnout for the women's march on Washington, albeit from an apartment in Daegu, South Korea, meant a lot for me.  For the first time since the election of the pussy-grabbing fascist, I felt like I could breathe just a little bit.

Obviously, it's only a first step but a significant one.

Midterms are two years away -- register to vote.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Monday, January 16, 2017

Two Things I'm Actually Looking Forward To In 2017, Believe It Or Not

I realize I'm on a bit of a film kick lately buy hey, since we probably won't make it to 2018 why not?  Also, it's cold outside so other than work and exercise I'm pretty much living the eskimo lifestyle, chillin' in my virtual internet-enabled igloo for the next few months.

Anyhow, two movies I'm both excited and worried about for 2017 are:

Annihilation, based on Jeff Vandermeer's novel of the same name.  I'm hoping they'd have done the entire trilogy in one film (the books aren't terribly long) but it looks like they may be trying to bank on doing a second and third film, which is always a bad idea.  But then again, who knows.  The trilogy is really quite good and I have no idea how they'll film certain scenes -- the books are bizarre and disturbing to say the least.  Here's hoping it's a success.

Zeroville, based on the novel by Steve Erickson.  It's one of my favorite books, and I'm even more worried about this one.  While the novel itself contains a lot of dark humor, I'd never have categorized it as a "comedy-drama."  Also, it's a James Franco product, and he's pretty much the Platonic Ideal of "hit-or-miss."

Given that Annihilation is being directed by the incredibly talented Alex Garland, I'm thinking of placing my high hopes on the former and not so much the latter.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rogue Meh

The new Star Wars was bland, dull, and mediocre.

None of the characters were interesting, except for the robot who was a complete dickhead.

Also, a multi-racial cast is fine but why hire actors with such obviously broken accents?

On a very basic level I found myself struggling to understand what they were saying.

For fuck's sake, it's Star Wars.  Nobody has trouble understanding Chewbacca when he howls or R2 when he bleepity-blips.

Let the blind dude speak Mandarin.  I mean, his only reason for being there was to get Chinese box office returns anyhow.

Edit:  O.K. then, let him speak Cantonese then.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Hillary Would Have Been Just As Bad As Trump

Never underestimate the abject cruelty of Republicans.

On the other hand, my decision to remain in South Korea for at least the next four years just became a lot easier.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Feelings About America In Tweet Form

Cheeto Von Pee-On-Me

Ladies and gentlemen, the wise voters of the American electorate bring you: #GoldenShowers gate.

But just remember that Jill Stein and Susan Sarandon told us Hillary would have been just as bad.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Opinions, On The Internet!

American Honey is the dumbest thing I've watched in a long time.

It's poverty porn masquerading as "serious" film.

It has characters doing very stupid things.  That's fine in general, but not when there's literally no motivation or justification for them to do these very stupid things.

It's over two and a half hours long.

I'm kind of impressed with myself for watching the whole thing.

Elvis Presley's granddaughter is in it, and she is preternaturally beautiful.

She can't act for shit either.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Resistance Starts Now

I took a little strength from this note about restaurants in my hometown of Washington:
"At least 15 D.C.-area eateries running the gamut from 24/7 Diner to FLOTUS fave Chez Billy Sud have pledged some of their profits from January 20 to 22 to NGOs with agendas that are effectively the opposite of the incoming president’s. All In Service, the effort’s organizer, offers restaurants a handful of different aid groups to choose from, among them Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, and a local advocate for immigrant rights. The organizers tell BuzzFeed these 15 spots are 'just the beginning,' and add they’re talking to another dozen or so restaurants, with the end goal of seeing 'the entire D.C. service industry participate.'"
It's a start.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

This Is Just To Say

This morning with my adult students we warmed up with the expression "Live fast, die young."

Note: this expression resonates in no single way with Koreans over the age of 30.

How Not To Go Insane, Maybe

I'm in this weird state where I must read online news to follow the clown-car shit-show that is Trumpolini, and I mustn't because it literally makes me depressed and angry and unwilling to leave the house.

Anyhow, if you're feeling any of the same emotions, Open Culture remains a wellspring of sanity and creativity in a world of derp.

I've been nibbling through this series on the history of Islamic and Indian philosophy.

S'good.  There is still a lot worth defending and protecting in this world, believe it or not.

The Salt Is Real

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

"My eyes were red / the streets were bright"

Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam, "A 1000 Times"

I'll always be a huge fan of his former work in The Walkmen, but I just love the fact that Hamilton Leithauser is basically an unabashed crooner in a world of screamers and mumblers.

Screamers and mumblers are great!  But let's hear it for direct, full-throated human emotion!

Neat video too.

Be Very Afraid

Rick Perlstein on why Trump will be much worse for America, Americans, and the world than Nixon ever was:
"Donald Trump assembles enemies lists, too; his organs of cognition appear to be structured around the idea of revenge. There are Republicans who voted against him, like Senator Lindsey Graham. ('It’s so great our enemies are making themselves clear,' Trump surrogate Omarosa Manigault exulted, 'so that when we get to the White House, we know where we stand.') There are media organizations he claims have covered him unfairly, like The Washington Post. (Just as Nixon threatened to take away the broadcast licenses of television stations owned by the Post, Trump has vowed to prosecute Post owner Jeff Bezos for antitrust violations.) And it’s not hard to imagine that Trump’s list of targets will only grow longer as his power expands. Like Nixon, he has spent his entire life chasing the narcotic rush afforded by dominating others, the better to fill the void where a functioning soul ought to be.

But there are two key differences that set Trump apart from his predecessor in paranoia. First, his soul is sicker by miles than Nixon’s. And second, the surveillance apparatus he is about to inherit is far scarier than the one available to Nixon."
Alas, we all know that a Hillary presidency would have been just the same, if not worse, than Trumpolini's.  Susan Sarandon told me so!

Sunday, January 1, 2017