Nonsense, horsefeathers, and idle musings from a decade in South Korea (2002-2012).


22 February, 2005

Arrivals: "I'm an Uncle."

By Aaron
22 February, 2005

In an Asian way - as a bit of balance to yesterday's obituary - I should offer my public congratulations to my sister and her fiance on the birth of their new baby daughter (who, by the way, was fortunate enough to be in the world together with Hunter Thomspon for about a week, a fact of which I'll have to inform her when she's old enough to care about something besides sleeping, crapping and leeching milk off her mother). To the new parents I'd like to say, "Congratulations and better you than me." Make sure you love her, care for her and realize that for at least the next eighteen years you effectively have no life. Have fun.

As for me, I'm now an uncle, though I'm not sure what all that entails. Letting the child do things her own parents wouldn't let her do, I guess: playing with knives, watching R-rated movies, clubbing seals, driving my truck when she's twelve, buying high-powered firecrackers for her on July 4th. I don't know, you tell me. Given that I live 6,000 miles away from the family in question, however, I daresay my duties will be necessarily limited.

Actually, it's a strange - and a tad emotional, truth be told - sight to see pics of my little sister with a child of her own. I'm happy for her and wish her the best with the new family.


Departures: Hunter S. Thompson

By Aaron



"The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but to those who can see it coming and step aside." -Hunter S. Thompson

Drop this one into the "Hemingway" column.

Hunter S. Thompson went and offed himself this week, presumably with one of the guns about which he was so crazy. In case you're not familiar with the man, Thompson was the author of such works as Hell's Angels and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, amongst many others. He was, to my thinking, one of the finest practitioners of the English language, right up there with George Orwell. His writing was precise, clear and as fine as any blade.

Such a passing seems appropriate for the man. It's a shame that he's gone but to be honest, I couldn't really imagine him dying peacefully in his sleep at the age of 92. Read his books or articles and you'll know what I mean. That he's gone leaves me with an empty feeling not unlike the time when Ken Kesey died in 2001. Perhaps the two of them were well past their literary prime at the time of their deaths, but it was nonetheless comforting to know that I was on the same earth at the same time as such talents. Now, it appears, I'm not.

20 February, 2005

Save me, Yul Brynner

By Aaron
20 February, 2005



I made the mistake of getting my hair cut today, as I do every two or three weeks. Trims are cheap here (less than $5US), so I try to keep my ears appropriately low. The woman who cuts my hair usually does an acceptable job of it so I'm not sure what got into her today. I'm not even going to post a picture of the end result - I don't believe in deliberately inviting ridicule - but suffice it to say, my new 'do is something akin to the above pic. That vicious stylist went and gave me the short-bus look.

One problem with getting a haircut in Korea - and buying clothes, too - is that the average Korean goes to great lengths to look the same as every other Lee, Park and Kim. Homogeneity sits right below filial piety in the Korean value system, and sometimes supercedes it. So most Korean men have these damned fool haircuts where the sides - following a 'U' shape from the ears down around the neckline - are closely cropped but the top is left rather long. This inevitably makes them look like a cat jumped out of a tree and is riding around on their heads. I've been going to the same barber shop for about two years now and the stylist is only now beginning to understand that I don't want the seemingly obligatory ridgeline around my head. Judging by today's hackjob, though, she doesn't yet get it.

I just watched The Magnificent Seven yesterday and I was reminded of the relative merits of the Yul Brynner look. Gonna have to consider that route. Seriously consider it.

18 February, 2005

Isn't This A Bit Much?

By Aaron
18 February, 2005



I'm all for gay rights, letting people be who they are, etc., but I'm not sure if that philosophy extends to penguins. I bring this up because of this news article, in which some gay activists are upset because a zoo in Germany is planning to introduce several female penguins to some gay male penguins in hopes that the endangered birds will get it on for the sake of their own genetic future. The aforementioned activists are apparently distressed because this evidently implies that being a a gay penguin is unacceptable.

My big question is this: if they're really gay penguins, why would the introduction of a few lady penguins change that? They can all share grooming tips, have a bite together and coexist in a pleasant, non-sexual manner. Gay men and straight women do it all the time in the human world (Liza Minnelli and David Gest notwithstanding).

The other problem is that these birds are, as I said, endangered. Humans, in case you hadn't noticed, are not. I have to wonder about critics of human homosexuality when they say that the purpose of marriage is to produce kids. At six billion-plus and counting, I don't think there's any shortage of stock in the world "people" department at present. It therefore stands to reason that a few gay couples not producing more "viruses with shoes," as Bill Hicks called us, would be a boon for this planet. These penguins, on the other hand, are in danger of vanishing permanently and - let's be blunt - don't have the time to be gay right now. If they manage to get things turned around by breeding a comfortable population of themselves then, okay, they can go back to their desired lifestyle. For now, though, these penguins need to get down and do some seriously diligent egg-fertilizing for their own sake.

07 February, 2005

Dictators and Democracy

By Aaron
07 February, 2005

Team America

I've been sleeping peacefully lately - no more alarm clocks, lightly chilled, for breakfast.

* * *

The Marmot has a much better post and comment section on this topic so I'll just summarize it and direct your attention accordingly.

North Korea has gotten their Stalinist panties in a wad over the portrayal of Kim Jong-il in the animated film Team America and has asked Prague to ban the film in the Czech Republic. The Czechs, of course (as I quickly realized and grew to appreciate while living in Prague), are an extremely open-minded people when it comes to artistic freedom and have told the Dear Leader and his minions exactly where to stick their request.

I'm not sure anyone really takes North Korea very seriously anymore, except where nuclear weapons are concerned. Imagine, though, how frustrating it must be as a totalitarian dictator when dealing with people who fall outside your sphere of influence. It's like the manager of Burger King trying to order around the employees of the Outback.

* * *

The President's Last Bang

In not unrelated news, the Seoul District court decided to censor a few scenes from The President's Last Bang as per the request of the son of the late Dictator/President Park Chung-hee. The film is a satire detailing the assassination of Park in 1979 at the hands of his spy chief and it includes scenes of Park cavorting with a bevy of young lasses (as he was known to do) and singing Japanese songs (as he might well have done, having served in the Japanese Imperial Army). The court ruled that newsreel footage be blacked out of the film because it gives the impression that the film is a documentary rather than the fiction that it is. This, obviously, does not give the general populace much credit.

I tend to be against censorship of all kinds except in extreme cases (explicit instruction on how to commit crimes, for example) and this case strikes me more as an offended boy not liking how his father - a dictator who made himself president for life - is being viewed by history. Well, sorry, bub. Park was a public figure and - as in the Larry Flynt-Jerry Falwell case - public figures have long been open to satire, caricature and parody. And from what I've been told, Korea's laws don't differ much from those of the United States on this matter either, so I believe I'm justified in mentioning the Flynt-Falwell case and, had it gone to the Korean Supreme Court, the decision would have likely been overturned. The controversy, however, has generated so much free publicity for the film that the producers have elected not to appeal the decision but rather simply take the money and run.

Free societies are often a messy business. The people make choices, judgements and assumptions and sometimes they happen to be misguided. Democracy is about interpretation, as seen by damn near any election. Look at the 2004 US Presidential election, about as good an argument against letting people vote as any, but there you have it: they voted for Bush and we've all got to live with it. So goes democracy. In this film's case, better to put it out there and let the public debate, protest and condemn it as they will, but don't insult their intelligence by telling them they can't understand it. The Korean court shouldn't babysit moviegoers by saying they couldn't possibly grasp the satirical elements of a film.

This particular topic deserves a much more detailed discussion - involving as it does a controversial character like Park - that I won't attempt to undertake here. Do your own reading for that.

04 February, 2005

Postscript

By Aaron
04 February, 2005

Regarding my previous post...

It was in the fridge. With the eggs.

03 February, 2005

Hey, buddy, got the time?

By Aaron
03 February, 2005



Bit of a mystery in Anyang-Si this morning.

As anyone who has slept with me - or in the same room as me - surely knows, I can get downright loquacious in my sleep. I've been known to give entire lectures without ever waking up. But this isn't really a problem for me, you see, because at least I stay in my bed.

What is a problem, however, is the fact that I have a tendency to sleepwalk, too, from time to time. I've been known to, amongst other things, start making coffee at 2:00 AM or to go back to bed in the bathtub. This habit is potentially dangerous for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that I live on the eighth floor of an apartment tower. Usually, though, I just wake up confused at why my one of my slippers is sitting atop my nightstand.

For the last couple of nights, my plug-in alarm clock has been making some strange noises and keeping me awake when I'd rather be sleeptalking. So last night I unplugged the cursed thing (which, incidentally, is less than six months old and was vastly overpriced as such things tend to be in South Korea) pulled out my travel clock and set the alarm on it for 7:15 AM. Well, I woke up at 7:30 and my travel clock was nowhere to be seen. I looked under my bed, amidst the blankets, behind the nightstand, everywhere. No clock.

"Where," to quote Socrates, "is my goddamn alarm clock?"

At this point, having scoured the house, I won't be surprised if the little bugger shows up in Tblisi or some such place halfway across the globe. Anything's possible when I drift off to sleep, though I'm not sure that includes electronics evolving locomotive faculties within seven hours. Unless we're dealing with ninjas here I have to assume I've hidden the thing from myself. The question now is how do I convince myself to tell me what I've done with the clock?

So if, while you're out walking around your neighborhood, you happen to run across a silver Samsonite travel alarm clock like the one pictured above, please let me know.

02 February, 2005

Notes of Promotion

By Aaron
02 February, 2005

Beyond the links on the sidebar, I don't make a habit of promoting other people's sites. I'm selfish that way. But I'm going to break precedent and make an exception...just this once, see, so pay attention.

Where Are My Socks? makes me laugh more than any other blog I've seen recently. It's written by an Australian fellow who, not unlike myself, is living in Korea. And he seemingly worships Johnny Cash so he can't be all bad.

A couple of great quotes:

"I know nothing about golf. Mark Twain would say that "Golf is a good walk spoiled." But with the way he dressed I wouldn't want to go walking around. That suit looks so hot."

or this...

"See the pleasure of a dog is their loyalty. Dogs will stand by your side through thick and thin. It is a loyalty in life that is missing in a lot of people. I am sure if people started getting a lot of lip from their dogs they'd be apt to saying. "Righto. You don't like it. You go out and get a job." So, eventually a lot of dogs would be roaming the street homeless and destitute after been thrown out by their masters. What job is a dog going to do?"