Monday, February 20, 2006

Subject: Daddy Longlegs
A father watched his daughter playing in the garden.

He smiled as he reflected on how sweet and innocent his little
girl was.

Suddenly she just stopped and stared at the ground.

He went over to her and noticed she was looking at two spiders

"Daddy, what are those two spiders doing?" she asked.

"They're mating," her father replied.

"What do you call the spider on top, Daddy?" she asked.

"That's a Daddy Longlegs." Her father answered.

"So, the other one is Mommy Longlegs?" the little girl asked.

"No," her father replied. "Both of them are Daddy Longlegs."

The little girl thought for a moment, then took her foot and
stomped them

"Well, that might be ok in California and Oregon, but we're not
any of that CRAP in Texas.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

This Crash has been a day that I wish had never had happened.

For those who do not know anything about one of my favorite spotrs NASCAR, I was a huge fan of "The Man in Black" Dale Earnhardt. My #3 hat and Shirts are worn in his honor. It still looks like a very simple crash but sad to say. This was his final ride.

Five years since ...By Jerry Bonkowski.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Coping with the death of someone who meant a great deal to you is never easy, but we eventually get past our grieving and tears and go on with our lives.
But if you're like me, the anniversary of that death is an event you don't look forward to. We can go along for 364 days every year with a forward, positive approach to life, but it's that 365th day that once again turns us somber and reflective.

That one 24-hour period each year virtually transports us to that fateful day when someone special was taken from us. Granted, it's simply the passage of time, but it's a sad passage nonetheless. Particularly hard are milestone years, be it one year later, five, 10, 20 or more. That's why this Saturday is a notable and sad milestone in the NASCAR and sports world.
For it will be five years since a simple man from Kannapolis, N.C., was tragically killed at Daytona.

Of course, this was not just any simple man. This was Dale Earnhardt.

And what happened on Feb. 18, 2001, was not just any simple crash. No, this was a 190-mph wreck on the final lap of the race that meant so much to him and yet also baffled him for nearly 20 years before he finally got the upper hand.

The biggest race in NASCAR. The Daytona 500.

The year before, three other drivers were killed in racing-related crashes: Kenny Irwin, Adam Petty and Tony Roper. While each of their tragic wrecks made headlines, life went on.
Earnhardt's death, on the other hand, shook the sport – and beyond – to its core, making front-page news from Charlotte to China. The death of the man they called The Intimidator was the NASCAR equivalent to Elvis Presley's death in 1977 or the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy in 1963.

His fatal crash was so monumental, particularly when NASCAR president Mike Helton announced to the world, "We've lost Dale Earnhardt," that it prompted the same type of question that has historically followed Presley and Kennedy's deaths: "Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when they died?"

His fatal wreck was so shocking, much like Kennedy's assassination more than 42 years ago, that it will always seem like it was just yesterday. Earnhardt's was the biggest and greatest name in NASCAR history. He was a man who meant so much to the sport and his fans, carving out a legacy much like Johnny Cash did in country music: they were both men in black, loved my millions yet cloaked in mystery for the intensely private lives they tried to lead outside of the spotlight.

They were the best in their respective businesses, icons that inspired and launched the careers of so many young and aspiring musicians and race car drivers. They were role models who set a standard for others to follow. When it came to racing, Earnhardt didn't just raise the bar, he put it out of reach. It's doubtful we'll ever see another driver even equal, let alone break, the seemingly insurmountable mark that Earnhardt and Richard Petty set in their careers: winning seven Cup championships.

Jeff Gordon is the closest challenger to that mark today, but he says if he's fortunate enough to win two more titles in his Cup career, he'll quit at six and leave the legacies of The King and The Intimidator in place. Even after winning his second Cup title last season, defending champ Tony Stewart doubts that he or anyone else will ever be able to come close to the Petty/Earnhardt milestone.

There's that word again: "milestone."

The five-year anniversary of Earnhardt's death is a milestone that hopefully will prompt us to reflect on his life, what he meant to NASCAR, how he changed the sport while alive and also how his death continued that change, particularly in the area of driver safety.

Sure, Earnhardt was a grizzled old cuss. He could tick you off with his gruff manner. And all too often, it was his way or no way, and NASCAR usually let him get away with it.
The reason was simple: because he could do it. He was the most powerful man in the sport and he cockily knew it. Bill France Jr. may have written the checks, but it was Earnhardt who laughed all the way to the bank.

Love him or hate him, fan or not, virtually everyone gave Earnhardt something that few people can command so universally: respect – and lots of it. He was the face of NASCAR, the man upon whose back the sport began its ride to unparalleled heights. It was Earnhardt who gave us so many memories, from the fabled "pass in the grass" to the tears that seeped from the corners of his eyes when he finally held the winner's trophy at Daytona in 1998.

It was on that day we learned that even as tough as he was on the race track, he could still be just as emotional. If Dale Earnhardt could shed a tear or two and not be embarrassed, we could, too. I often wonder what would have happened if Earnhardt had survived, or if the wreck never happened. Where would he be today?

Granted, he was in the twilight of his racing career at the time of his death, just a few months shy of his 50th birthday. It had been six years since his last Cup championship.
But as he was slowly edging toward retirement from driving, he was not retiring from racing. He was constructing an empire befitting of the name Earnhardt, building a future for his namesake, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

I'm convinced that had he lived, the senior Earnhardt would have gone on to be one of the most successful owners in Cup competition. On a more personal note, perhaps the biggest loss wasn't the death of the racer, but the death of the man – the family man, that is. As he grew older, he had so many regrets over his youthful mistakes, including two failed marriages and not being involved in the raising of oldest son Kerry – yet he truly tried to right as many wrongs as he could.

And that's what makes the marking of the fifth anniversary of his death even sadder, as Earnhardt was robbed of so many opportunities, like growing old with wife Teresa, or eventually enjoying grandchildren.

As we all stop to pause and reflect back on the man's life, the way it was abruptly ended and what might have been if he lived on, at least we can be comforted by one thought.
Right or wrong, Earnhardt lived life his way. And he went out the way he probably would have wanted to, and the way we'll all remember him best: behind the wheel of his race car.

Now for the nam I cheer for now, the son Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Junior's growth By Jerry Bonkowski, Yahoo! Sports

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – As a 26-year-old, Dale Earnhardt Jr. should have spent 2001 discussing future plans with his father.

You can just imagine them sitting on the back porch, sharing a couple cold bottles of Bud, talking about the elder Earnhardt's vision for the company he founded (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) and would likely someday turn over to his son.

They could have talked about the path the younger Earnhardt should take to become a dominant Cup driver just like his old man. Heck, they could even have talked about Junior one day settling down.

But alas, five years ago next week, the only words Junior ultimately would say to his father were a tearful and twangy "goodbye, Daddy" at the senior Earnhardt's funeral.

NASCAR has dramatically changed since Earnhardt's death. So has Dale Jr. himself.
Now, as he slides toward his 32nd birthday later this year, Junior is approaching a crossroads in both his racing career and his life.

People in their thirties are expected to leave behind their wild side and make a final transition from rowdy to respectable. They are expected to finally act their age and do the "adult" thing.
That transformation began early for Junior.

Before his father's death, Junior had been described as a hip-hop kid, known almost as much for his partying as for what he did on the race track. He loved his beer and made no attempt to cover it up. As long as it was Budweiser, he and his primary sponsor were happy. It seemed that almost every day was a party and Junior was the guy buying.

He also loved his rock and country music, to the point where he hung out with some of the biggest stars in the business, from Fred Durst to Kenny Chesney to Sheryl Crow (pre-Lance, that is). He'd even sneak cigarettes behind his hauler (away from his fans) like a naughty little boy puffing away behind the barn, not wanting his family to catch him – especially his father, lest he get his bottom paddled.

He had a rep of devil-may-care, to the point where he almost seemed bulletproof.
All of those activities or habits have been greatly diminished – if not eliminated – as Junior has grown older and continued to attain new heights of maturity since his father's passing.
He's even talked fondly and frequently in the last couple of years about how much he's looking forward to getting married some day and having kids.

"I've just got to find the right girl," he says with his well-known mischievous smile.
You know this maturing thing is getting serious if NASCAR's most eligible bachelor – sorry, Kasey or Tony – starts talking like that.

But that's all part of Earnhardt's steady progression to becoming his own man.
Sure, Junior still loves to race go-karts with friends on the track he had specially made behind his house, and he's known to compete in Internet racing leagues. But those activities are innocent enough that you can't help but cut him a little slack.

While there's no questioning his talent, Earnhardt also has picked up his father's business acumen, yet another indicator that his youth has been filed away in a closet like his old baseball cards, never to be seen again.

Junior has spent the last few years building yet another Earnhardt dynasty, laying the groundwork with a team that has won the last two Busch Series championships. He's also taken a greater role in planning DEI's future. There's even talk about forming his own Cup team one day, much like his father did while still driving for Richard Childress Racing.

But perhaps the most significant sign of Earnhardt's elevated maturity in 2006 will be a new dedication to his craft. He knows he's coming off a miserable season in 2005, one in which everything that could go wrong pretty much did.

The most popular driver in the sport also is cognizant of the fact that he still has yet to win his first Cup championship. His father earned the first of seven Cup championships in 1980 at age 29.
On the flip side, Junior has more Cup wins (16) at the age of 31 than his father did at that same age (seven wins). Also, his father didn't earn his second Cup title until he was 35. Junior still has nearly four years to reach that level.

But it's obviously not just about numbers.

The road Junior has traveled to become a mature, responsible adult since 2001 has been admirable, as he has evolved into someone his father would be very proud of. It's not only a testament to Junior's bloodlines but also to the way he was raised.

Sure, Junior would have loved to have had a lot more talks about racing and life with his father over the last five years, but it's pretty evident he learned some very valuable lessons from the many talks the two did have before that fateful February afternoon five years ago.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Here We Go Again.

Another Korean-American and once again the Korean Media is in love.

Toby Dawson’s face after the Olympic freestyle skiing preliminaries was as grim as the sky over the Northern Alps yesterday. The 28-year-old Korean-born American freestyle skier competing in men’s mogul events at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, had just taken sixth place in the preliminary score rankings with 24.20 points, which was not enough to win him any medals.

But two hours and a perfect performance in the finals later, Dawson crossed the finish line with both arms raised in joy. He had scored high enough to win the bronze. Only then did his face break out into a smile.

Dawson began a new life on March 31, 1982. Dawson, a three-year-old orphan and scared out of his wits, arrived at Denver Airport in Colorado to meet his new foster parents.

His mother Deborah Dawson recounted their first meeting. “I fell in love with him immediately. It was like a dream come true,” Mike and Deborah were both ski instructors. So it was natural for Toby to take up skiing. Soon after his arrival, his parents took him to a ski resort, and Toby Dawson lived on the snow for the following 24 years.

“I made a mistake in the preliminary because I was too nervous trying not to disappoint my family and friends. But my nerves settled in the final, so I was able to show my stuff,” said Dawson. He executed a blade-grab two turns in his first jump, and an off-axis double turn in the second. He finished off his performance with a perfect landing.

The Korean media began following Dawson when his search for his birth parents began to make news. “I’ve received a few calls from people who claimed to be my birth parents, but they all decline to be DNA tested. I will take my time looking for them,” said Dawson.

Being born Korean was a source of embarrassment for the shy Dawson growing up. His foster parents kept Toby’s birth-name, Soo-chul, as his middle initials: SC. Dawson used to tell people they stood for “So Cool” when asked what his initials meant. But as he grew older, his attitude changed, and he volunteered as a counselor at a camp for Korean-born adoptees.
We might see him with a bigger smile when he finally gets to meet his birth parents.

his personal information

Personal “Awesome” Dawson...Wears lucky boxers in competition...Enjoys dirtbiking, fishing, golfing and surfing. During his downtime, Dawson donates his time to the Korean Heritage Camp for Adoptive Families which teaches an appreciation of the Korean culture. His gravity-defying exploits caught the eye of filmmaker Warren Miller, who asked Dawson to be in four of his famous ski movies: “Ride,” “Cold Fusion,” “Storm” and most recently, “Journey.” In Summer 2005, Dawson shot a commercial for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes cereal... His favorite food is Korean BBQ and he listens to rap and hip hop.

Abandoned on a Seoul, South Korea, street as a baby, Toby was living in an orphanage when he was addopted by Deborah Dawson and her husband, Mike Dawson.

Should make for an intresting story if his birth parents show up and they are confirmed by DNA.

US to Begin Accepting North Korean Defectors

It looks like the United States will further break from South Korea and begin accepting North Korean refugees for the first time: Participants said it was important that the U.S. takes on some of the refugees who ended up in a country other than South Korea.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also implied a policy shift by saying, “We are reviewing our policies on refugees, reviewing them with DHS (Department of Homeland Security), reviewing them with the FBI, to see if we can find a way to participate in the refugee activities as well.” If it does admit them, it is likely to exacerbate tensions with North Korea in an already chilly climate because of Washington’s sanctions and the North’s nuclear ambitions.

The North Korean Human Rights Act, which went into effect in October of 2004, stipulates that North Korean refugees can seek asylum or residence in the U.S. despite the fact that they are automatically entitled to South Korean citizenship. This is further evidence that Washington is speeding up efforts to pressure the Pyongyang regime. First the US government implemented economic sanctions due to North Korea's money laundering and counterfeiting operations, then the Japanese began to raid companies aiding North Korean weapons programs and now the accepting of North Korean refugees in America. Neither Pyongyang or Seoul will be to happy about this. This is a big loss of face for Pyongyang when it's citizens are defecting to it's sworn enemy the United States plus asylum in the US is only going to encourage more defections which is what Washington is probably hoping to create.

From GI Korea..

Seoul isn't going to like this because it will anger North Korea and negatively effect their Sunshine Policy exchanges. Plus Seoul has to be worried about how well North Korean refugees integrate in American society compared to South Korean society. If North Korean refugees begin to integrate better in the United States than South Korea where they are discriminated against; this will cause a loss of face for the South Korean government.

Now why is the US government encouraging defections? The main reason I think is because a loss of man power and skilled labor from North Korea will negatively effect the Kim Jong Il regime. Factories can't operate without laborers. South Korea and China having been trying with some success on clamping down on North Korean defectors but the recent policy change from the United States is sure to encourage North Korean citizens to defect from the horror of the Kim Jong Il's regime and hope to obtain the American dream.

Well USA-Korea relations are sure going to take a huge hit this year with a proposed NK-SK summit, Screen Quota and now this. Should make for a fun year here in Korea.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Busting the myth (Lies) of the Screen quota.

By Haisan
FNY Guest Blogger

There are so many misconceptions and half-baked ideas about the screen quota and what it means for Korea, I find it really depressing. After reading a lot of myths and conjecture and silliness, I thought I would add my 20 won.

Some points:

1) The “real” screen quota was 106 days, not 146. You could get the quota lowered by showing Korean films at high periods. Which, since Korean films make more money than Hollywood films, happens anyway. Under the new quota, however, those loopholes will be closed, so now 73 days really is 73 days, and the reduction is much less drastic than what looks at first glance.

2) Hollywood cannot out-leverage Korean films. Korean film companies control the movie theaters, so it would be suicide to kick out their own films for Hollywood. Korean blockbusters make more money than Hollywood blockbusters. The average Korean film makes more money than the average Hollywood film. A theater owner would have to be an idiot to kick out Korean movies for Hollywood films.

Taegukgi – 11.7 million attendance Silmido – 11.1 million The King and the Clown - 10.0 million (and counting) Friend – 8.2 million Welcome to Dongmakgol - 8.0 million Shiri – 6.2 million JSA – 5.8 million My Wife is a Gangster – 5.7 million Marrying the Mafia – 5.1 million

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – 6 million attendance (biggest foreign film ever) Two Towers – 5.2 million Titanic – 4.5 million Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – 4.3 million King Kong – 4.2 million Troy – 3.8 million

In fact, increasingly Hollywood film companies don’t even bother trying to release their films here (especially the comedies) because Korean usually don’t go see them. For the past 2-3 years, Korean films have been taking in about 60% of the box office, and in the countryside, the preference for Korean movies is even stronger.

3) The screen quota did not stop the Korean film industry from sucking (economically) in the 1990s. So I don’t see why it gets credit for the resurgence since 1999. There is no correlation between quota enforcement and industry success.

Korean films have gotten successful specifically by learning the business of Hollywood — less “art”, more entertainment. While that may make the highbrow crowd sad, that’s how the market works. Unless you have consumers that demand interesting works and go see them, companies are not going to make them.

That said, I find Korean tastes quite interesting. OASIS did quite well at the movie theaters a few summers ago. All the big blockbusters this Christmas tanked,(BLUE SWALLOW AND TYPHOON) while some average comedies kicked butt. Michael Bay’s THE ISLAND made more money in Korea than it did in the United States (thanks Hwang Woo-suk, I guess).

The screen quota is, and has always been, fool’s gold, imho. I have had plenty of people in the industry tell me that they don’t care about the quota anymore, and that they think the quota makes no difference (always off the record, of course… don’t want to get your butt demonstrated by saying the wrong thing).

One of the more amusing things to me is reading old articles from the last time the Korean government tried to abolish the screen quota, around 1998. Many people said words to the effect of “Korean films are doing so poorly (around 20% at the time), there’s no way they would survive at all without the quota. If they were getting around 40% of the market, then we could talk.” Cut to a few years later when the Korean films are doing better than anyone could have imagined a few years ago, and the exact same people are still saying the same thing (minus the 40% idea).

The big problem is not the screen quota, but what it represents to many people. Several people at the Coalition for Diversity in Moving Images (the civic group most responsible for ensuring the quota is followed) are die-hard union guys, with barely an interest in the film industry. For them, this is basically a hot-button issue to rally the masses, and is part of their general goal against trade liberalization — not saying that is good or bad, just that the quota is part of a large agenda for many.

Same holds true for many opposed to the quota… They know that the quota is doing nothing to hurt the US film industry, but it is symbolic of larger goals.

The funny thing is, one of the Korean government’s tools to appease the film community is a 5% tax on tickets to create a film fund to support independent films. So basically the US film industry has lobbied to reduce an ineffectual, symbolic bit of protectionism, and replaced it with a real drain on their revenues. Nice going.

He is so right (Lotte and CJ(CGV) have there own cinemas and Im sure others do as well here in Korea.)Look at Lotte and CGV history of being competetors to see that they do not play nice together. I have seen US comedies here and I am usually the only one laughing. The american and Korean humor is different and this is true.

The Hines Ward Lovefeast is on here in Korea.

for those who do not know anyhting about it. Hines Ward is 1/2 Korean and the media here, only SBS Sports shows any American football games here and MBC ESPN, only shows the Super Bowl, have been falling all over themselves to show what a great Korean he is. Now he has not lived here since he was one years old but that does not matter, nor the fact that he is mixed and if he stayed here, a few of the coments have said that he could not even get a job being a janitor. I do just love the logic here.

These are some of the many articles, please read the part about his mom hating on Koreans, very intresting. No word on his father.

Korea-Born Player Named Super Bowl Hero

After his team dealt a decisive defeat to the Seattle Seahawks with 21-10 at the fortieth Super Bowl in Detroit on Sunday, MVP Hines Ward from the Pittsburgh Steelers kisses the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The U.S. National Football League has named the half-Korean wide-receiver Hines Ward Super Bowl XL MVP.

In the 40th year of the U.S. most-loved sporting event, Ward was good for five catches and 123 yards including the final TD leading his team to a 21-10 victory -- a feat that made him well deserving of the MVP designation. Ward put on a strong rushing performance too, pushing back the Seahawks by 18 yards in his sole attempt. Riding the athlete’s wave of activity on the field, the Steelers were able to muster enough hustle to once again rise to the zenith of the sport, after 26 years of naught. This Super Bowl win puts the Steelers in a class of titans as their name is added to the sparse list of five-ring teams like the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.

Fighting against a stonewall of defense dished up by the Seahawks, it wasn't until the second quarter, when Ward pulled an 18-yard run on an end-around, that the real onslaught began. At the second attempt at a third down, the real tide-turner, Ward hustled to realize a reception from Ben Roethlisberger which played no small part in the quarterback’s later dive left for a reaching touchdown which put the Steelers ahead at 7-3.

With the Steelers clinging to a 7-3 lead at the half, Willie Parker took home a 75-yard rushing touchdown (the longest run from scrimmage and the longest rushing touchdown in Super Bowl history) which enabled Ward five minutes and 56 seconds into the fourth to deliver the death blow to the Seahawks with one last end-zone visit. As soon as the offense rushed, Ward, who dashed forward to the center, suddenly headed right and picked up a high pass from Antwaan Randle El and rushed into the end zone, widening the score difference to 21-10. The 43-yard touchdown was the longest pass catch among two team’s wide receivers of game. Having been deprived of the ball at the decisive moment, the Seattle Seahawks failed to turn their dreams of bringing home rings for the franchise into reality.

Hines Ward was born in 1976 to his Korean mother Kim Young-hee and his African-American father Hines Ward Sr., who was in Korea with U.S. forces. The following year, he went to the U.S. and has been living with his mother since age seven. Ward left quite an impression during his early days at Forest Park High School and later at the University of Georgia, where he was a stand-out athlete in all offense positions, quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

( )

Hines Ward wishes to set up scholarship in his mother's name

ATLANTA, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- Korean-American Super Bowl hero Hines Ward said Friday that he hopes to create a scholarship named after his mother, Kim Young-hee, to help ethnic Korean students in the United States.

Ward said it is a blessing for him to be half Korean, and he wishes to meet with Korean government officials and youth during his upcoming trip to South Korea in April.

Hines Ward
"I will be setting up a scholarship in my mother's name because she deserves it," Ward told Yonhap News Agency in an interview in front of his home in Atlanta, Georgia, Friday morning.

Ward, born to a Korean mother and African-American father, was
voted Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XL after his team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, beat the Seattle Seahawks 20-10.

Ward plans to found a scholarship to "give back to the Korean community." He said he harbors "no hard feelings" about the way Koreans treated his mother for marrying outside her ethnicity, he said. Yet, considering what she had gone through, he said, it feels great to see the community cheer around her.

Ward said he owes his success to the work ethics he learned from his industrious mother, who still insists on working at a high school cafeteria. He recalls his mother never missed a day's work no matter how sick she was.

Calling his mother a "tough person," he said, "When she gets knocked down, she gets right up. Despite all the adversities she faced, she persevered and just kept fighting hard."
Inheriting his mother's unyielding spirit, Ward never gave up, even when he was told he was "too small to play in the NFL" because his mother told him, "If you want something, you just work hard until you get it." NFL stands for the National Football League.

As a child, it hurt Ward to see his mother frustrated and crying because she was not able to help him with schoolwork. Instead, she worked three jobs to support him. Seeing his mother sacrifice herself for him, he thought, "The only way for me to pay her back and to honor her is to study hard."
It's not just work ethics that he learned from his mother. Ward was taught to always be humble and treat people the way he wanted to be treated.

Even today, his mother tells America's Super Bowl MVP, "I don't care how much money you have. Never treat people like you're better than others."
Now, Ward wishes to pass down the values he learned from his mother to his son. "I hope my son will grow up honoring his heritage," he said. "I want him to be proud to be partly Korean," he added.

His son was dressed in Korean traditional clothes on his first birthday, and following Korean tradition, picked a ring from an array of items such as money and a pencil, which is said to determine a child's future career.

Ward, who has a few Korean language books himself, regrets that he did not have a chance to learn the language when he was younger and living apart from his mother.

"I wish I could turn back time and learn Korean so that I can converse with my mother better," he said. Ward pledges to teach the Korean language to his son.

Lastly, Super Bowl MVP Ward had advice for Korean students: "If you put your heart, mind and soul into it, you can achieve anything."

Hines Ward Brings Mixed-Race Koreans Into Limelight

Koreans of mixed ethnicity are hoping that the newfound celebrity status of the half-Korean football star Hines Ward will help dispel the prejudice they frequently encounter here.

Johnnie Westover is one of them. Active in a group of mixed-race Koreans, he told a meeting Friday he has never seen a half-Korean become a general in the army, or for that matter reach any position of authority in Korea, and asked if anyone else had. “In an era of globalization, where everything is becoming mixed together, Koreans know how to change the color of their hair to red, green or yellow, but it seems they still don’t know how to change the thoughts inside their heads,” he said.

After three years of effort, Kim (Westover's Korean name) was able to find the serial number of his father Benjamin Westover and was reunited with him in the U.S. Five years on, he still celebrates the Fourth of July with his father and four younger half-sisters.

He implies there is a willful blindness at work. “Although discrimination against Koreans raised in Japan is now being discussed, the treatment of half-Koreans in Korea is not even being considered,” he says. He suggests following the U.S. example and making it illegal to discriminate against people on the grounds of race. Like Hines Ward, he credits his mother with making sacrifices that enabled him to get on in life.

Westover says that sacrifice was the soil from which a champion like Hines could grow. Among the Korean virtues that Westerners lack, he points to the quality called "jeong”, a hard-to-translate word meaning something like caring, which functions as a sort of social glue.

Another member of the group said since mixed Koreans are often of stronger build, Korea could have secured some outstanding athletes if it had been more hospitable to them.

Hines Ward’s Mother Recalls Hard Road to Success

When Hines Ward was given one of the highest accolades in American football, the trials his Korean mother faced over the years and the bitterness she felt seemed to melt away in an instant. But when Ward was named Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl after his team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, laid waste to the Seattle Seahawks, Kim Young-hee (59) was calm and collected. "Supporting a child so he can do what he wants to do and encouraging him the whole way seems like the secret to success,” Kim told the Chosun Ilbo from her home in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia.

How do you feel about the MVP title?

"I admire him and I'm proud of him. Since his junior year at Forest Park High School, he got a lot of press and picked up more than just a few accolades. I watched the game on TV, but then I dozed off until I got a call from my son at about 1 in the morning. 'Mom, we won the Super Bowl!' he said, so of course I said, 'Congratulations.' I was a little groggy from some cold medicine that I had taken, so we just talked briefly and left it at that. I really hate crowded places, so I don't usually go to the stadium; instead I watch the games on TV.”

Ward has credited you with his success…

"Well, maybe that's what he thinks. From the time Hines was in elementary school I had to leave the house at 4 in the morning to go to work. I washed dishes and cleaned up in companies that produced airline food, at restaurants, and at hotels, I also worked as a cashier at the grocery store. I made about US$4 an hour. It was always a 'two jobs' life, one full-time and one part-time. Sometimes I would add in one more part-time job, working up to three jobs per day. For me there was no Saturday, no Sunday, and no days off. But since Hines turned pro in '98, I've cut down to just one job."

Eight months after he was picked up by a pro team, Ward bought a large house for his mother in the city of Smyrna, but she said it was too big for one person alone, so she moved to a smaller house in Henry County where she has been living ever since. Although her son is now making millions a year, she still works in the cafeteria of a local high school.

What does Hines think about the Korean blood that runs though his veins?

"Since he was young, he always got along well with the other Korean and Vietnamese kids. It seems like he does have some pride in his Korean blood. But we've also been hurt as Koreans. When Hines was in high school, there was an inter-school friendship match for the Korean students. Since he was good at baseball, a school invited him to play. But after the game, when the kids went out to eat, the person who put together the event only took the Korean kids, leaving Hines behind (Ward is of mixed parentage, his father an African-American). After that I told Hines to never hang out with Korean kids. Yet when we went to Korea in '98, even Korean people who looked educated spat when we walked by. Koreans judge others based on their appearance and their age. Those kinds of Koreans think that they are so special…"

Any plans for a Korea visit?

"My son asked me to go this April, so I said yes, but I’m not sure whether I'll really go with him or not. I have been back to Korea a few times, but my mother died in 1998, and I have no brothers and sisters there. But sometimes I do feel like I'd like to go back to Korea to live. Korea is very crowed, but that really makes it feel alive. Although I have been living in America for almost 30 years, it's not really that exciting here."


Korean envoy invites mother of Super Bowl MVP

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean Embassy on Thursday invited the mother of Super Bowl superstar Hines Ward to Washington.

Amb. Lee Tae-sik sent a letter to Kim Young-hee congratulating her and her son and asking to meet with her personally.

Heartwarming or cautionary, Ward's story resonates here

February 11, 2006 ㅡ

▶ Hines Ward in Atlanta after an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo on Wednesday. By Nam Jeong-ho
Hines Ward, 29, a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Super Bowl XL most valuable player, has become more than just a hero here in Korea. His rags-to-riches story, and that of his ethnic Korean mother, has taken on a life of its own in this country thousands of mile away, and one which he has not yet seen.
It's hard to tell yet whether the adulation will be just a flash in the pan or a more enduring national love affair. Observers watching the media frenzy here have had mixed reactions, some saying that it reflects Koreans' desire to identify themselves with an internationally known figure ― of which Korea has few ― and that interest will die down soon. Others, however, say that Mr. Ward's story is one that strikes a chord deep in the Korean psyche and is simply too compelling to be just a passing fancy.
Immediately after Mr. Ward's gridiron achievement, you would have had to look hard to find a media outlet in Korea that did not run the story prominently. The nation's largest broadcasters have run special documentaries on Mr. Ward, and lots of trees have been felled to print the newspaper accounts of his life story. Seoul Broadcasting System is even airing selected games in Mr. Ward's career, in a country where "football" means soccer.
But it's not only a media-driven phenomenon. South Korean companies hoping to capitalize on Mr. Ward's sudden iconic status have begun to make their bids as well. The nation's air carriers, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, are competing to woo Mr. Ward and his mother into one of their first-class cabins to bring them to Korea for a visit early this year, as Mr. Ward said he wanted to do. The Korean Cultural Service Office at the consulate-general in New York has asked Seoul to recognize his achievement in some way. The office argues that knowingly or unknowingly, Mr. Ward has contributed greatly to promoting the country's image.
Mr. Ward's story has been retold here countless times in the past week. The son of a Korean mother, Kim Young-hee, and a black American G.I. stationed here at the time, his parents were divorced soon after returning to the United States. His mother, speaking almost no English and without job skills, stayed on there after a U.S. court awarded custody of the boy to his father. Mr. Ward ran away from home as a second-grader to return to his mother, who worked double- and triple-shifts in menial jobs to care for and educate him. Mr. Ward reciprocates that devotion, which shines through his demeanor in his press appearances when he speaks of her. A mother's devotion, coupled with Mr. Ward's own Cinderella story, are the main press themes here.
"This is a human story. People are just enjoying this as it is. It tells us about things in life that are valuable," said Ju Cheol-hwan, a professor of media at Ewha Womans University.
Some observers suggested that Koreans have an economy that is 11th in the world but few internationally known figures to identify with. That longing may have triggered the upwelling of national pride and interest. "This is a sort of collectivism," said Chun Byeong-jun of Chung-Ang University. "If the country had many internationally acknowledged people, the interest would be divided. As it is, the attention gets focused," He cited the example of Park Ji-sung, one of only two Koreans who play the other kind of football in the English Premier League. "That is why people watch Park's games here late at night. Foreigners will probably not think that he represents Korea, although people here do. For outsiders, he's just an Asian player."
The rest of the handful of Korean sports stars playing professionally abroad get a taste of the same treatment. Ethnic Koreans, whether second-generation or emigres, also get a share of attention. Michelle Wie, a pro golfer from Hawaii, is a good example, although it must be said that her youthful beauty appeals to a wider audience than Koreans, whether or not they know a five-iron from a pitching wedge.
Mr. Chun also noted the timing of the new love affair, coming soon after one of Korea's superstars, the geneticist and cloning researcher Hwang Woo-suk, was shamed by revelations that his most prominent accomplishments were fraudulent. "Koreans identified with his success," Mr. Chun said, before his fall.
Koreans have a phrase for it: nembi geonseong, a hot pot that cools off quickly. Whether that applies in this case is not yet clear.
Professor Ju Chang-yun of Seoul Women's University was a bit skeptical about the warm embrace here. He thinks the media here may have had a selective focus, tailoring and magnifying their accounts to produce something they know the public wants. "He's an American citizen," Mr. Ju said. "There are other mothers who have brought up African-American professional athletes who had a difficult youth. But this has all the elements of a success story, so a hero is born. The question is whether we are doing more than just accepting the facts."
Don't tell Mr. or Mrs. Kim that. The mania here is already in motion, and this society that prides itself on being homogenous and tightly knit may be learning something valuable, or interesting, or shocking from Mr. Ward's story. This is still a country where not very long ago television spots urged Koreans to be indifferent to South Koreans of mixed blood.
Lee Jee-young works at the Pearl S. Buck International office here. The organization champions children who are discriminated against because of their race. She is quick to say that despite Mr. Ward's success, life for mixed-blood Koreans will continue to be difficult. "I have experienced this sort of thing several times, although this is the most extensive," she said. Referring to the avalanche of interviews that she had given in the past week to Korean media about the country's treatment of biracial children, she added, "The fact is placing mixed children for adoption here is almost impossible, and it won't get better."
Hundreds of Koreans have signed up at Internet fan sites, and millions read the media accounts. But Ms. Lee is not the only person to wonder if the country that is now embracing him has the moral authority to do so.
"Korean society needs to reflect on itself," said one Internet user who called himself Kim Min-gyo, posting in a discussion board on the Daum portal site devoted to Mr. Ward, "If Mr. Ward had grown up here, how would he have grown up? What sort of job would he have ended up with?"
But the media will probably continue to give Koreans what they want for as long as they want it. Sometimes, though, the attempts at identification are as amusing as they are overreaching. On Thursday, the tabloid Sports Seoul carried an article about the Lingerie Bowl, a pre-Super Bowl tie-in that features a football game between teams of scantily-clad female models. The focus ― no surprise ― was on the player whose mother is Korean and father American. Move over, Michelle Wie, you've got some competition.

by Brian Lee
This is my year-end review that I did for

I do the movie reviews and this 5 part was the final look at last years films.

2005 was a very interesting year for movies, we said good-bye to Star Wars, said hello to Narnia and observed a boy wizard begin to grow into a man.

This list will have 5 main things, the best film, the worst films, the surprises of 2005, the major disappointments and the final list that I call WTF, What were they thinking when they made this film... The plot outlines are from IMDB.

10. Crash

Plot Outline: Several characters of different racial backgrounds collide in one incident, the different stereotypes society has created for those backgrounds affect their judgment, beliefs and actions, and this in turn causes problems for each of them. The film has been nominated for Best Picture of 2005 by the Academy Awards.

The film takes a look at one incident and how a lot of different people looked at it.
The film has an all star cast with Matt Dillon receiving a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film is first rate and is out on DVD. Please watch for the end of the film that is real snow falling in LA.

9. Elizabethtown

Plot Outline. After causing the Oregon Shoe Company he works for to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, Drew Baylor is fired for his mistake, and promptly also dumped by his girlfriend, Ellen. On the verge of suicide, Drew is oddly given a new purpose in life when he is brought back to his family's small Kentucky hometown of Elizabethtown following the death of his father, Mitch, as it falls to him to make sure that his dying wishes are fulfilled. On the way home, Drew meets a flight attendant, Claire Colburn (Dunst), with whom he falls in love, in a romance that helps his life get back on track.

Their have been 2 school of reviews for this film, you love it or you have hated it, I loved the film, as you can see in my earlier review of the film. The film bombed at the box office but to me it told of a mans path to redemption. See it on DVD when you can.

8. King Kong

Plot Outline: Set in the 1930s, this is the story of a young and beautiful actress Ann Darrow from the world of vaudeville who finds herself lost in depression-era New York and her luck changes when she meets an over-ambitious filmmaker Carl Denham who brings her on an exploratory expedition to a remote island where she finds compassion and the true meaning of humanity with an ape Kong. The beauty and the beast finally meet their fate back in the city of New York where the filmmaker takes and displays the ape in quest of his fame by commercial exploitation which ultimately leads to catastrophe for everyone including a playwright Jack Driscoll who falls in love with Ann and plays an unlikely hero by trying to save her from Kong and her destiny.

When you remake a film you will either have a huge hit or a huge mess on your hands. With Kong you had a hit. World wide it has done great business with South Korea helping to add 22 million to the total. It will recover its cost but will this be a one shot wonder or do we get, "The Son of Kong" in a few years.

7. A History of Violence.

Plot Outline. Based on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, A History of Violence is the tale of Tom Stall. Tom is a loving family man and well-respected citizen of a small Indiana town. But when two savage criminals show up at his diner, Tom is forced to take action and thwart the robbery attempt. Suddenly heralded as a hero who took the courage to stand up to crime, people look up to Tom as a man of high moral regard. But all that media attention has the likes of mobsters showing up at his doorstep, charging that Tom is someone else they've been looking for. Is it a case of mistaken identity or does Tom have a history that no one knows about? Either way, someone's about to find out if there's a history of violence.

Wow, what a film and it was so wierd when you see that his wife is attracted to the beast more than the husband that she has loved for the past 10+ years. A very hard film to watch but one that wil be enjoyed when you go see it.

6. Munich

Plot Outline. During the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, eleven Israeli athletes are taken hostage and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September. In retaliation, the Israeli government recruits a group of Mossad agents to track down and execute those responsible for the attack.

The film starts in Korea on February 9th. Please see my review of the film of the site. The film is worth a look and has been nominated for Best Picture. Please see review of film on the site.

5. Sympathy For Lady Vengeance

Plot Outline: Lee Geum-Ja, at the age of 19, goes to prison for the murder and abduction of a child on behalf of her accomplice Mr. Baek, only to find out that she is betrayed. While in prison, she carefully prepares for her revenge by winning the hearts of her fellow inmates with her kindness, thus earning herself the nickname 'kind Ms. Geum-Ja'. Upon her release from prison after 13 years, she finally sets out to seek revenge on Baek, with the help of her former prison mates.

The general thought of this film has been either you loved it or you have hated it. I loved it! As I said in my earlier review of the film, “It was like watching a chess match with all of the pawns being set in their place and at the perfect time, Hell was unleashed.”

It will have a release date in the USA in March 2006 and is on region 3 DVD for rent or purchase.

4. Capote

Plot Outline: In 1959, Truman Capote, a popular writer for The New Yorker, learns about the horrific and senseless murder of a family of four in Halcomb, Kansas. Inspired by the story material, Capote and his partner, Harper Lee, travel to the town to research for an article. However, as Capote digs deeper into the story, he is inspired to expand the project into what would be his greatest work, In Cold Blood. To that end, he arranges extensive interviews with the prisoners, especially with Perry Smith, a quiet and articulate man with a troubled history. As he works on his book, Capote feels some compassion for Perry which in part prompts him to help the prisoners to some degree. However, that feeling deeply conflicts with his need for closure for his book which only an execution can provide. That conflict and the mixed motives for both interviewer and subject make for a troubling experience that would produce an literary account that would redefine modern non-fiction.

The film has been nominated for Best Picture, Achievement in Directing , Best Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener), and Best Adapted Screenplay.

This film will be hard to watch because you start to see inside of why they did the crime that they will die for. Please see it when it comes to Korea or please get a copy of it where you can here in Korea, This is not a film that needs to be missed.

3. Walk the Line.

Plot Outline. A chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash's life, from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. You also see where he meets the love of his life, June Carter Cash.

The biggest surprise was when Oscar announced the Best Film prize, this was not on the list and I could not believe it. Nominated for Oscars were For Best Actor, (Joaquin Phoenix) and For Best Actress (Reese Witherspoon). My only complaint about the film was that it ended in 1968, when there is so much more to tell of his story. I do hope that soon they film Part 2.

2. Sin City.

Plot Outline: Sin City is a violent city where the police department is as corrupt as the streets are deadly. In this movie, we follow three stories, the central of which is Marv, a tough-as-nails and nearly impossible to kill street fighter who goes on a rampage of vengeance when a beautiful woman, Goldie (King), he sleeps with for only one night is killed while lying in bed with him. Walk down the right back alley in Sin City and you can find anything.

Certain films need to be seen on the big screen so that you can really see what a film has to offer and this one did not disappoint. With Mickey Rourke’s showing of what Marv could do when he goes to war. With Bruce Willis acting as a man who needs to save one more soul from hell and with Clive Owen showing us as, Dwight, that a man can find true love once again.

Please watch the Directors cut of this movie, it adds about 15 minutes and fills in a few blanks from the film. Sin City 2 hopefully will be out in 2006.

And the Number 1# Film of the Year…

1. Joyeux Noel.

Plot Outline: On Christmas Eve, 1914 during World War I, the Germans, French, and Scottish are trying to make peace, so they bury their dead and play football.

For those who know me you have hear me very loudly tell of my hatred for the French. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw this film and it shook me like no other film did in the year 2005. Please see my rather long review on the site. I will add this, after 90+ years of this event happening, the French Generals refused to give permission to film on the site where this cry for peace happened, they told the director that the men were traitors and did not deserve on the field of honor. Please see this film when you get the chance.

Now in the next list, the worst films of the year 2005.
Now For the Worst film of 2005.

11. Tie “Aeon Flux” and “Venom”

Both films were inspired by cartoons and video games, and should be avoided at all cost, the plots are silly and there stories are just as bad with no plot and no real reason.

10. Doom

Once again a film based on a popular video game, and a plot that was so bad that I could not believe that anybody actually wrote this and worse would want to watch this, I have heard that there is an Unrated version of this on DVD but I will pass on ever watching it, a real bomb that should have never been released.

9. Stealth

When an US Military films ends up on this list, you know it must have been bad. This film showed no real plot, no real story, and every cliché in the book (the black man dies first, the troubled girl, the confused young lovers) I just wanted to run away after I saw this film and try to erase it from my memory. Please do not see this film, no one can afford to lose the I.Q. points this action will cost by viewing this.

8. Kingdom of Heaven.

On the “Ain’t it Cool” web site one of the writers blast Fox’s cuts in the film and ask why this film was destroyed. He has stated that he hopes for a directors cut of this film. I can only hope so. As a history major, I view these types of films to see how many errors and can I enjoy it. This film was just so sad and I did not believe anything in this film. The real leper prince died before any of this timeline actually happened. The story, the plot, Orlando Bloom’s bad acting in this. I hope the D.C. fixes the errors that Fox made.

7. The Island

Once again, bad story, no real believable plot, the chemistry between the main stars was not there, I did not believe anything that I saw and it was a huge waste of time and a huge flop for DreamWorks in the USA. I still have no idea why they made this film.

6. King’s Ransom

The idea was so-so at best and when you see the very bad acting and the plot just get worse and worse and side stories that just do not click. You get the mess of this film. It was sad to watch all of the young stars in this film just totally being wasted. Please miss this film at all cost.

5. The Fog.

To this day I still have no idea why the film was given the green light to be made. The film is currently #95 on the bottom 100 from IMDB. This film was a remake of the 1980 John Carpenter film and should have never been retold. From bad plot, to terrible miss- casting, this film was a bad idea from the start and only seeing it made the bad idea become a lot worse.

4. Blood Rayne

Once again a movie based off a very popular video game and what a mess this film was. As of today’s writing this film is #21 on the bottom 100 from IMDB. I kept thinking that sooner or later this film has to get better, sad to say it never did. It looked liked Underworld and you see vampires and nudity and tight leather in the film. It should have never been made and hopefully no one else will see it.

3. Tie

“The Honeymooner’s” and “The Son of the Mask”

To remake films lately has shown to be insane to try and remake a classic TV show as, “The Honeymooner’s” was just a bad idea that was an insult to the original cast and crew. As of today’s writing this film is #9 on the bottom 100 from IMDB. A huge disaster of a film and also a very sad film to watch. If you loved the original, this will make you very angry.

“The Son of the Mask”

To create a #2 film and not have the original star of , “The Mask”, Jim Carrey, was a huge train wreck just waiting to happen and what a mess this film was, no real plot, no real story and the special effects, that were needed to make this film work, fail at every step. As of today’s writing this film is #13 on the bottom 100 from IMDB. If you remake a Jim Carrey film and he hi not in it please do not remake or have a sequel.

2. Into the Mix

Maybe they thought, Usher, could just show up, look cute and maybe cover up what a huge mess this film was, well it failed very badly. As of today’s writing this film is #4 on the bottom 100 from IMDB, and that is saying a lot right there. The film was tying to make itself into an urban Soprano’s but ends up as a story that I just could not believe, please real simple idea, cute boy, good story, low budget, you will make money on the film. If not, you get this mess that should be never viewed by any civilized nation.

And the #1 prize for worst film of the year goes to……..

1. War of the Worlds.

To this day I have no idea why Steven Spielberg shot this film in the way that he did. I saw no real story except Tom Cruise was running away. The sub plots involving Tim Robbins, were a huge mistake and the films ending was just so bad that it rightfully deserves its place as the 1 worst film of the year.

the next part deals with films that were total surprises and I was so glad to have seen them.
The Surprises in the movies from 2005.

These films are great surprises and seem to come from nowhere, you will get a look at massive hits and a few films that flew under the radar. Please see these films when you get the chance and if you can buy these on VCD or DVD here in Korea, and then please do.

11. Turtles Can Fly

Plot Outline. Set in Ghobadi's native Kurdistan, close to the Turkey-Iran border. Soran is a 13-year-old boy who orders other children around as he installs an antenna for villagers keen to hear of Saddam's fall. Eventually, he falls for Agrin but is disturbed by her brother Henkov, who was left armless after he stepped on a landmine and who can now seemingly predict the future.

Selected as Iran's submission in the Best Foreign Film category for the 2004 Oscars.

I was honored to see this film in Korea in 2005 and what a joy it was to watch, a real sad story and a very interesting look at war through the eyes of children. It got a very small release in Korea and in the USA. It is available on region 1 DVD. The end of the film will haunt you for awhile.

10. Kung Fu Hustle

Plot Outline: In Shanghai, China in the 1940s, a wannabe gangster aspires to join the notorious "Axe Gang" while residents of a housing complex exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf.

The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2006.

This film was funny and Stephen Chow does a great job of acting and directing in it. The film took a look at gangster movies and added a Kung Fu twist and made audiences around the world laugh. They are talking about a sequel to begin filming soon. I can only hope that it will be a funny as this film was.

9. The President’s Last Bang.

Plot Outline. A look at the life of President Park Chun-Hee and the events leading up to his assassination.
President's Park Chun-Hee's son took the film-makers to court to block the release as he claimed it tarnished the image of his father. Four minutes of documentary footage in the movie was censored by the courts which claimed that it would confuse viewers who may believe this film is non-fiction. The film-makers opted to leave four minutes of black screen where the scenes were cut.
The Film only received a 3 screen total viewing in the USA and will be released on DVD in USA on April 4 2006.
I recall when this film came out with the 4 minutes of black screen. The film is a fictional account of how former President Park was killed in 1979. A very good story and plot and a very interesting look at the late President.

8. Constantine

Plot Outline: Based on the DC/Vertigo comic book Hell blazer and written by Kevin Brodbin, Mark Bomback and Frank Capello, Constantine tells the story of irreverent supernatural detective John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), who has literally been to hell and back. When Constantine teams up with skeptical policewoman Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) to solve the mysterious suicide of her twin sister (also played by Weisz), their investigation takes them through the world of demons and angels that exists just beneath the landscape of contemporary Los Angeles. Caught in a catastrophic series of other worldly events, the two become inextricably involved and seek to find their own peace at whatever cost.
I have earlier stated what happens when a comic book or video game adaptation goes wrong. This film is what happens when it goes right. Not being a huge fan of the comic I decided that this was worth watching and I am so glad that I did. This film was great due to the basic fact, I had no clue of what was coming next and I loved the ride. Hopefully in a few years we will see a #2 for this film.

7. The King and the Clown.

Talk about a surprise as of today’s writing this in now the #3 all time film in Korean Box Office history with over 10 Million Tickets sold. The film needs to be seen to believe. A great plot a great story. Plot Outline: Two clowns living in the Chosun Dynasty get arrested for staging a play that satirizes the king. They are dragged to the palace and threatened with execution, but are given a chance to save their lives if they can make the king laugh. Keep an eye out for the one who the King loves, it will blow your mind. My translation was very bad so I will give this another chance when it comes out on DVD. The Korean audience was in love with the film.

6. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Plot Outline: It's 'vege-mania' in Wallace and Gromit's neighborhood, and our two enterprising chums are cashing in with their humane pest-control outfit, "Anti-Pesto." With only days to go before the annual Giant Vegetable Competition, business is booming, but Wallace & Gromit are finding out that running a "humane" pest control outfit has its drawbacks as their West Wallaby Street home fills to the brim with captive rabbits. Suddenly, a huge, mysterious, veg-ravaging "beast" begins attacking the town's sacred vegetable plots at night, and the competition hostess, Lady Tottington, commissions Anti-Pesto to catch it and save the day. Lying in wait, however, is Lady Tottington's snobby suitor, Victor Quartermaine, who'd rather shoot the beast and secure the position of local hero-not to mention Lady Tottingon's hand in marriage. With the fate of the competition in the balance, Lady Tottington is eventually forced to allow Victor to hunt down the vegetable chomping marauder. Little does she know that Victor's real intent could have dire consequences for her ...and our two heroes?

I knew that this would work in a short 4 minute carton but was quite surprised when it worked as a movie. The film did so-so in the USA and to be honest I have no idea why, I was laughing from the start of the film to the very end when they said that no rabbits were hurt during the production of the film. If you missed it please see it when you need a great laugh.

5. Batman Begins.

Plot Outline: A new restart of the "Batman" franchise under the helm of "Memento" Director Chris Nolan and more in tone with the early "Batman: Year One" style comics. As a boy a young Bruce Wayne watched in horror as his millionaire parents were slain in front of his eyes, a trauma which led him to become obsessed with revenge but his chance is cruelly taken away from him by fate. After disappearing to the East where he seeks counsel with the dangerous but honorable ninja cult leader known as Ra's Al-Ghul, he returns to his now decaying Gotham City overrun by organized crime and dangerous individuals manipulating the system whilst the company he inherited is slowly being pulled out from under him. The discovery of a cave under his mansion, and a prototype armored suit leads him to take on a new persona, one which will strike fear into the hearts of men who do wrong - he becomes, Batman. In the new guise, and with the help of rising cop Jim Gordon, Batman sets out to take down the various nefarious schemes in motion by individuals such as mafia don Falcone, the twisted doctor/drug dealer Jonathan 'The Scarecrow' Crane, and a mysterious third party that is quite familiar with Wayne and waiting to strike when the time is right.

When Batman is done wrong we get the horrible George Clooney Version, when it is done right we get this and much more. With the casting as Michael Caine as Alfred and the addition of Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), you get a great film. I loved the in house joke about the “Office Space” line… Did you get the memo? Keep it up; I am looking forward to the next chapter.

4. Hustle and Flow

Plot Outline: Rapper DJay (Howard) works the angles to get his first record made, with help from assorted people in his Memphis 'hood. And when he hears that rap superstar Skinny Black (Ludacris) is heading to his area, he throws together a supreme hustle to grab Skinny's attention. A rap star from the Dirty South who is trying to make it in the hip hop world, he has to deal with many different types of people who try to bring him down, including strippers, baby's mama, and all the things that try to keep a player down. This is probably his last chance to make it, he is approaching his 40's, and his life is looking downhill.

Terrence Howard has been nominated for Best Actor from OSCAR for his role as DJay.

The only reason I even saw this film was that I was waiting for an order to come in and the crowd around me kept talking about this film and that it had to be seen to be believed. I had nothing planned for that day so I decided to take a chance on this film. I am so glad that I did. You see man realize that he has one shot to make his Rap dream come true and you get to go along for the ride. Howard with this film and his small role in the “Crash” and in the “Four Brothers” looks like he is ready to take the next step into becoming a major Hollywood actor.

3. March of the Penguins

Plot Summary. Each winter, alone in the pitiless ice deserts of Antarctica, deep in the most inhospitable terrain on Earth, a truly remarkable journey takes place as it has done for millennia. Emperor penguins in their thousands abandon the deep blue security of their ocean home and clamber onto the frozen ice to begin their long journey into a region so bleak, so extreme; it supports no other wildlife at this time of year. In single file, the penguins march blinded by blizzards, buffeted by gale force winds. Guided by instinct, by the otherworldly radiance of the Southern Cross, they head unerringly for their traditional breeding ground where--after a ritual courtship of intricate dances and delicate maneuvering, accompanied by a cacophony of ecstatic song--they will pair off into monogamous couples and mate. The females remain long enough only to lay a single egg. Once this is accomplished, exhausted by weeks without nourishment, they begin their return journey across the ice-field to the fish-filled seas. The male emperors are left behind to guard and hatch the precious eggs, which they cradle at all times on top of their feet. After two long months during which the males eat nothing, the eggs begin to hatch. Once they have emerged into their ghostly white new world, the chicks can not survive for long on their fathers' limited food reserves. If their mothers are late returning from the ocean with food, the newly-hatched young will die. Once the families are reunited, the roles reverse, the mothers remaining with their new young while their mates head, exhausted and starved, for the sea, and food. While the adults fish, the chicks face the ever-present threat of attack by prowling giant petrels. As the weather grows warmer and the ice floes finally begin to crack and melt, the adults will repeat their arduous journey countless times, marching many hundreds of miles over some of the most treacherous territory on Earth, until the chicks are ready to take their first faltering dive into the deep blue waters of the Antarctic.

When French Cinema goes wrong, I rejoice with glee, when they get it right, I usually love it. (Please see “The Brotherhood of the Wolves” for a great example when the French get it right) The fact that I have praised 2 French Films, this one and “Joyeux Noel” has surprised some of my friends. If you can see it please see it with the English Narration completed by Morgan Freeman. It has received a nomination from OSCAR for the Best Documentary, Features Award.
2. The Wedding Crashers.

Plot Outline: Guided by a set of "wedding crashing rules," Washington, D.C. divorce mediators John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) can charm their way into any wedding...and into the hearts of every bridesmaid...for one night. But at the biggest social event of the year, John breaks the rules and falls for Claire Cleary, the daughter of the United States Secretary of Treasury, William Cleary (Christopher Walken), and Jeremy is left at the mercy of her "stage-five-clinger" sex-crazed sister Gloria (Isla Fisher). Being there for his buddy, Jeremy follows John to the family's huge estate for a weekend that may even be too wild for these professional party animals.

With a modest budget for US films ($40,000,000) this film has grossed over (209,000,000) and became a huge hit in the USA. Please see all 114 rules of the wedding crashers on IMDB site, trivia section. Rachel McAdams star also shines in this film as being the love interest for John Beckwith. Please see the unrated version with about 10 extra minutes added to the film.

And the number 1 surprise film of 2005 was

The 40 Year Old Virgin.

Plot Outline. 40-year-old Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) has done quite a few things in his life. He's got a cushy job stamping invoices at an electronics superstore, a nice apartment with a proud collection of action figures and comic books, good friends, a nice attitude. But there's just one little thing he hasn't quite gotten around to doing yet--something most people have done by his age. Done a lot. Andy's never, ever, ever had sex--not even by accident. So is that such a big deal? Well, for Andy's buds at the store, it sure is. Although they think he's a bit of an oddball, there's certainly a planet full of stranger (and homelier) guys who've at least had one go at having a go. They consider it their duty to help Andy out of his dire situation and go to great lengths to help him. But nothing proves effective enough to lure their friend out of lifelong chastity until he meets Trish (Catherine Keener), a 40-year-old mother of three. Andy's friends are psyched by the possibility that "it" may finally happen...until they hear that Andy and Trish have begun their relationship based on a mutual no-sex policy.

This film has been Carell’s Breakout role and with Keener being nominated for an Oscar for her work in “Capote” this film could be the start of bigger things for both of the stars in the film. Please watch the unrated version of this movie with an extra 17 minutes added to the film, I was laughing all day with memories after I saw this for the first time.
Now with films that were pleasant surprises the next section deals with films that had the potential to be good or better that what showed up on the movie screen. The next sections are the films that have been the Disappointments of 2005.
Disappointments of 2005.

13. Blue Swallow. Korean Film (청연 - 靑燕 (Cheong-yeon))

This film goes to show that huge film train wrecks also happen in Korea. South Korea Box Office: 482,962 admissions after 1 month of release. The film had a huge budget but it had one major problem, it was about Korea’s time as a Japanese Colony and the public thought that it was Pro-Japanese and it died a very quick death at the box office.

12. Typhoon - 태풍 (Tae-poong)
This film had the biggest release ever for a Korean film, it went head to head with King Kong and it lost to the big ape. The film lost money also. In Korea the film drew a lot of hype by focusing on the divided Korea peninsula. It’s 15 million $ cost was the most expensive Korean film ever made but it needed to draw 6.2 million moviegoers to turn a profit and as of today’s writing it has drawn under 4.2 million. Movie Critics stated that one of the main flaws of the film was its overdependence on computer graphics.

11. North Country. A film based on a true story….I really hates these words and I really was very disappointed in the film. A lot of lies and it was hard to find the truth in the film. I still can not believe that Charlize Theron received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for this piece of junk.

10. Hide and Seek

I like Robert De Niro’s acting so I was looking forward to seeing him in another scary role. I just wish that this was not it. The film had 2 different endings and was just a mess of cutting and of the final edit of the film. A sad movie role for a great actor.

9. The Legend of Zorro

Like I said in my review of this film, who in the heck did the historical fact checking in this film? Way too many errors in this movie killed this franchise, the film did O.K. in foreign box office numbers but lost a lot of $ in the USA.

8. XXX2

Lets make another XXX and not include Vin Diesel and just maybe we can make a huge hit. Well nice idea but once again a sequel without the major star proved costly at the box office. Maybe what could have been we will never know, XXX3 direct to video?

7. The Dukes of Hazard

Now this was a very simple film, keep the cost low, show southern humor and have a very fast car. What we got was a very bad imitation of cussing and fart jokes. For fans of the show, this was very sad to watch and I will avoid the #2 film of this. A very promising franchise shot to hell with fart jokes.

6. Elektra

Once again, another comic book adaptation. The film had Jennifer Garner and no Ben Affleck (sad to say I do like his acting) and all of the promise of a strong female super hero were wasted in a movie that to this day I really can not explain. It just made no logic at all and was a huge bomb hopefully never to be seen again.

5. Flightplan

Jodie Foster has always been one of my favorite actresses. I went to see “The Silence of the Lamb” because she was in it. I was so looking forward to her first film in a few years and if you read my review of this on the site, you will se my disappointment in this film. The plot and the story were just so sad for me to watch and to see one of my favorite actresses in it was just too much.

4. Red Eye

I was so looking forward to this because of Rachel McAdams and when I saw this film I was the only one in the theater, this should have been my first clue. Oh what could have been, a viable terrorist, a somewhat believable plot and then I saw it and I was wondering why oh good grief why did they ruin this film. It was just too sad to watch and when it was over I wanted my $ back.

3. Hostage

I really do like Bruce Willis acting but with every great acting role you get in a year (Sin City) you get this piece of junk to counter balance it. I saw it still can not believe that I actually paid $ to see it and when it was over, I was so not looking forward to “Sin City” because of this. Why Bruce Why, was this film made?

2. Memoirs of a Geisha

Oh what really could have been in this film? If you see my review you will see that they spoke English in 1930-40’s in Japan and with bad miss-casting and a bad job of editing, when I heard that this was coming out I thought for sure, “This will be nominated for Best Picture.” Afterward I was so mad that they blew it, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” proved that the US audience will see a great film with subtitles. Maybe the small success of “Kung Fu Hustle” in the USA has an effect on this but this should have never been shot in English and the film never recovered from that huge mistake.

Now for the #1 disappointment of the year and it should not be a surprise for anyone who knows me.

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

What in the heck was the director Mike Newell thinking when he agreed to this. Harry Potter is at Part 4 of a 7 part epic. “Lord of the Rings” proved that the audience will sit through 3 to 3.5 hours for a great film. When I saw the film I had not read the book and even I could tell that something was missing. After I read the book, I was upset by this junk of a film. No Dobby, no house elves, no Mrs. Molly Weasley and one heck of a confusing ending. I could not believe it. The film should have been done in 2 parts; a lot of material for the next 2 films was missing from this one and could cause huge plot gaps to come. A huge mistake and hopefully a directors cut will fix this disaster.

Next is WTF... were they thinking when they green litted this film.
Now for the final part of my review of the movies from 2005. This is the part where I say WTF. What were they thinking when they gave the word go to this film. You will see some hits and misses in this section. The one thing that all films have in common in this section is that the film should have never been made in the first place. This will go from the most to the least.

1. Herbie- Fully Loaded

What a joke this was, they actually wanted you to believe that NASCAR would let a VW Bug race and that teen drama queen, Lindsay Lohan was a race driver. I saw it and I still do not believe what I actually saw. Walt Disney Company, you should be very ashamed for making this turkey.

2. The Amityville Horror (2005)

Ok why remake this bad joke from 30 years ago? It was proven that he lied and that this never happened but oh not let do a remake and maybe milk this for what it can be worth. I still can not believe that I actually paid $ for this.

3. Sahara

Ok let’s have a cute couple (Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz), Confederate gold and a plot so bad that nothing made any sense at all and by the end you are thinking, I want to file a lawsuit for losing I.Q. points for this one. Still can’t believe I paid to see this.

4. Are We There Yet?

This was not a good year for Ice Cube (XXX2 & THIS). Let’s take kids and place them in very stupid non believable action from all over the USA and the audience will love us for it. By the time the film was over I wanted to burn Cube’s Union Card so he would never make another film as bad as this one.

5. The Interpreter

Ok for this one, let’s go the U.N., have a murder discussed in a very rare language that Nichole Kidman knows because she was raised in Africa and let’s include a very moody Sean Penn and let’s see if it works. For a film to work, it must make the audience believe that what they are seeing is real. The only thing real about this film was the $ I lost by buying a ticket for this.

6. Bewitched

Once again Nichole Kidman and once again I could not believe that they would take a childhood favorite TV show and blow it all to heck with this junk. What were they thinking when they cast this and why remake a classic TV show.
7. Cinderella Man.

I usually will go see Russell Crowe in a movie but even I had a hard time with all of the lies in this film. One of my hobbies is that of a huge boxing fan so I knew the background of this fight and when I saw lie after lie about Max Baer I just finally walked out of the movie and will never watch this lie ever again.

8. Miss Congeniality 2

For the same reasons I will go see a Russell Crowe film, I will go see any movie that has Sandra Bullock listed as a star and I am slowly starting to think that she has what I call the “Bruce Willis Syndrome.” For every good acting role she has (Crash, Speed) she has a huge bomb to follow (This, Speed 2). I guess it was time for the bomb and it blew apart my wallet for this one and the money is gone and never to return for this one.

9. The Brothers Grimm

Please see my review of this film and my opinion has not changed any about it. This eye sore needs to be avoided at all cost and as Adam said, “Watch the Korean Checkers TV Channel than watch this film” He is so right about this film.

10. Bad News Bears

Why are they remaking my favorite films from the 70’s and turning them into very bad garbage? Sad to say this was a horrible film and my only relief was that this was a free movie viewing and that I did not pay for it. Billy Bob is no Walter Matthau and the film just never could get over that basic fact.

11. Chicken Little

After this film was released, Walt Disney purchased Pixar. I thought that it was in response to the failure of this film. It did ok at the box office but in my review I stated that the film had no soul and no Disney magic. I guess Disney thought the same thing. Let Pixar make the computer film and get the animation division back together. Howling Moons Castle proved that world –wide drawing can still make money. I just hope that Disney can realize that before they make an attempt at another bad CGI film.

12. Fantastic 4

One again a comic Book adaptation and once again I am left wondering why I spent any money on watching this. Bad casting and a very bad plot was just too much and caused this film to fail. It made money world wide and they are talking about #2 very soon. I can only hope that they actually have a plot in this one.

13. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The entire time I was watching this remake, I kept thinking, Michael Jackson and it just seemed way too weird for this film. Once again the original with Gene Wilder was a favorite of my childhood and once again a 1970’s memory is torn apart by a very bad story that I just wanted it to be over and once again very upset that I spent my $ on this junk.

And last but not least was this clunker..

14. The Cave

I GUESS THAT THEIR WAS A PLOT BUT TO BE HONEST I SURE DO NOT REMEMBER IT. All I remember is that it came to CGV, I paid $ to se it and after it was over I wanted to find the director and hit him with a brick. I love good horror films I can even handle bad horror films that are so bad that they are funny, but this was none of the above and should not be seen ever again.

Well readers this is the list for my look at the films from 2005.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Well guess what is happening in Korea today, IT IS SNOWING.