Sunday, January 27, 2008
Now I know what a few of you are thinking, why did Mike come up with that quote today?
Well, its because of what happened last night at the 2nd anniversary Brick House Party.
Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of "The Brick House" and they had drink and food specials all night long. They also gave out awards to the customers. Well guess who won "The Norm" award? They said he orders the same food, likes his favorite seat and likes one beer. Well then they said my name and I was like, great, "I am norm" It was a nice little joke.
Bad news for Phil and Victoria, looks like the post office lost both of their passports and now they can not get married on the 14th in GOA. I had no idea what to say, sorry, just did not seem worthy enough. I hope that they can sue the Post Office. I have never mailed my passport to anywhere here in Korea. I personally hand carried it to Busan when I booked the trip to New Zealand. after seeing what happened to those 2, I will never mail it to book a flight!!
I am now off until March, when a new semester starts.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
I kept watching the previews and with each preview, one thought kept coming into my mind over and over again. I kept thinking "Blair Witch Godzilla" and if this was the case, why should I even waste my time with this?
For my long time readers, If you remember an earlier review i did of the The Host I stated my love of the "Monster Film Genera" I really can not explain it but I just like a decent film that tells about a Monster destroying Tokyo or, as in this case, New York City.
So for my love of the monster movie, I decided to see if the film was worth the hype. I must now state that yes the film is worth the hype.
NOW THE REST OF THE REVIEW WILL BE A HUGE SPOILER ALERT, SO IF YOU DO NOT THE FILM RUINED THEN PLEASE STOP AND SEE THE FILM, WHILE IT PLAYS IN KOREA.
While I was watching the film, It felt like I was at ground-zero of this event. The shakiness of the camera, the power on and off the actual over tapping that occurred from a previous session. It seemed to make it into a real-time look at the end of New York City.
I purposely did not read or search any of the websites that were set up to tell the movie viewer, the entire story of how the monster can into being and why it attacked.
If you want a real good look at this film then please check out the FAQ from IMDB. It will answer a lot of the questions that the filmed brought up.
Now what was nice was that at the beginning of the film it showed that this tape was the property of the US Government and was recovered from US-477, The site formally known as Central Park in NYC. It made it look so official. (Now a warning here, the film was shot to look like it was being filmed with a hand held camera, so their is a lot of shaking and movement to the camera and the huge screen definitely shows it. Some viewers of the movie have shown signs of becoming very sick, due to this.
The plot of the story is very simple, you see a boy (Rob) and a girl (Beth), on the morning after. Then you see the film break to a party in which, Rob, the hero of this film, is having a good-bye party. He has a new job and he is leaving for Japan the next day. You are then introduced to the other players in the film (His brother, Jason, Lilly, Jason's girlfriend, HUD, Rob's best friend and Marlena, a girl that HUD really likes)
The party starts to go bad after Beth and Rob have a huge argument. The you see the friends try and help him, then you next hear a loud noise, it feels like an earthquake has hit NYC. You see people go to the top of the roof and then you see explosions and fire and people screaming that war has been declared.
Then you are slowly shown the monster and the monster is destroying the US Army and NYC. After that, its the typical monster move. The monster destroyers the city, kills people and to make matters worse, other smaller monsters are living on the big one and then they start to attack the city also.
The film revolves around Rob, receiving a call from Beth and she is trapped in her house and Rob goes through hell to try and save her. Now please check out the FAQ to see how the film ends and what happens near the end of the credits.
What I really liked about the film was how, when you did a little research with the websites, the film works and you no longer believe that you are watching the film but you are trying to get the heck out of Ground-Zero NYC.
To be honest, there could be a part 2 to this movie, that why the end of the credits trick worked for me. I also loved the last 20 seconds of the film, where you see that something has fallen into the ocean. It does make you wonder, "What did I just see?". I was laughing at the ending credits music. It sure sounded a lot like the Godzilla theme.
I saw the film at a digital screen and it was so much better that film could have ever have done for it. The digital theater showed the flaws of shooting with a hand held camera more and the sounds were made louder and more scarier than the film could have ever shown. You do get a good look at the monster. I will leave it up to you, the viewer, if you believe what you see or not.
In conclusion, we have our first big hit of 2008 and its name is "Cloverfield" Please see it when you can.
Opens in Korea. 24 January 2008
How I saw it. CGV Digital Theater.
Opening Weekend in USA $46,146,546 Jan 18 - 21 2008 weekend.
IMDB LINK. Cloverfield
Monday, January 14, 2008
Danny and Min A. (Mina)
This was my first Korean Wedding ceremony and it sure was a very interesting one.
Me and Sef get their at about 1125. The Wedding starts at noon. So we see Danny, and I tell him, "I suited up for this wedding you are not running away from this at all"
We talk some more and them we meet his family. His Mom and Dad, their significant others. His Grandmother and Grandfather were their also. So I am sitting around and seeing more people that I know show up.
Now what was weird, at first, was that there was another wedding going on before their wedding and it was in the same hall that they were going to get married at. I had no idea what was going on at all, but I was in Korea, so just go with it.
After 12 P.M. we were told to get our seats and, of course, not enough chairs. I was able to sit down and I got a few nice shots of the wedding.
Both Moms in their Traditional Korean Outfits.
After the wedding.
The Bride, Mina.
Now the first picture are the mothers, the walked down the aisle in the traditional Korean Dress and they both lit a candle. It was so nice.
The next photo is of Danny, he looked awesome in his outfit.
#3 Is when they were walking back from the aisle as Man and Wife.
#4 is her at the end with her friends. I love that photo. It does her no justice, Mina was a very beautiful bride.
Then it started to get a little crazy. The preacher was Korean and he was trying to speak English also, he said Daniels wives. I started laughing, I Could not believe that Danny could have more than one wife. The preacher made a mistake but it sure was funny.
I had no idea when to pray or say Amen. All i know is that the preacher said that they are man and wife, the crowd cheered and clapped. Danny and Mina then walked over to her parents side and Daniel did the bow on the ground to her parents. I lated asked him did he have to bang his head on the floor, When you would great the Emperor of China you would have to bow and bang your head very hard on the floor many times, to show respect. Mina did a polite bow to Danny's parents. It was nice.
Then the next few minutes are what I called the "Wheels Off" part of the service.
After the bowing, they cut a cake together, later on I found out that the 2 bottom layers of the cake were fake and that they actually did not get to keep nor did they actually eat any of the cake. It was a photo op only.
After that they then walked down up the aisle, thats when a disco ball came out, with crazy music, and them streamers popped out and the crowd cheered. I had no idea what the heck was going on. i took the photo of them with the streamers.
Then the crowd was leaving and gathering in the back. I took the one close one of the bride, photo #4. It was a nice photo.
Me and Van
So when I went back to the back after the wedding i saw my friend Van, also suited up, I asked Heather to take a photo of me and Van because, you do not see either one of us in A suit that ofter, so the photo was a great shot of us together.
Then after that we started to take pictures of the family as they were getting together for the wedding photos. I talked to Danny's family and it was nice to get to know a little about them.
East Meets West
East meets West 2
The all of the couple friends gathered for a photo. I made the comment that it looked like a fracking Mafia photo. If I can ever get a copy of the photo I will be sure to post it.
Then we went to have lunch at the after-wedding buffet. I had never been to this also, but the food was good and the table I was with was nice and I had a good time for awhile.
I asked where were Danny and Mina, and the family, Someone said that they were eating by themselves and I knew that something was wrong with me so after my plate I excused my self and said goodbye and that i would see them tonight at 9.PM at the Cool Bar, for the reception party.
Right as I was leaving I see Danny's family finally coming down to eat. It looks like they were taking pictures the entire time. I said that I would see them later. Then I saw Danny, and he was wearing a Korean King outfit, I later learned, and I shook his hand and said congrats and said I will see you later. Then I saw Mina and talked to her, then something really funny happed while I was talking to her.
A Korea lady was talking to her in Korean and it was because Mina was not holding on to her dress the proper way and I was laughing while she was talking. Afterwards Mina hit he with a light tap, it was just too funny, then Danny came back and met Mina, She was asking were me and Paul going to the reception. They then went in together to the Buffet area. I was walking to the escalator when I saw her parents, they could not find anyone from the family, so I am frantically waving my arms and pointing them straight to the Buffet area, and said, They are all in the Food area." They both walk very fast towards the Buffet.
I knew that something was wrong with me and I knew that I needed to take a long walk and I did for awhile. I did some thinking and came up with a few things that I had not realized.
With wedding sometimes I am good or sometimes I am bad at them. I was noticing that I was feeling sorry for myself, because I am single and just not in a good mood and the wedding did not need that, I went for a walk. I was talking out loud to myself and trying to figure a few things out. I had been noticing over the last few weeks that I am becoming a mean drunk and this is not good. I then realized that I was lonely and that all of the love at the wedding was messing me up a little. I was feeling sorry for myself and it was not dong me any good, So I walked for while longer and said, "DAMN IT, NO MORE FRACKING FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF. Have some fun today"
So I went back to my apartment, played some nice music and took a nap. When I woke Up, I sure was feeling better.
So at 8PM, I took the Bus to McDONALDS and had a late dinner. As i was finishing up my food, I see Danny entire family waking down the street. I finish my food and I meet up with them.
Danny them tells me that he is wearing a Korean King outfit, so I bow and say "Your MAJESTY" His family starts to laugh. I tell them a few things about Korea and they asked a few questions, I told them about Hello Kitty and I have no idea about why Hello Kitty is so darn popular.
We then all walk towards the Cool Bar and the party starts.
I soon met Mina's father and I shake his hand and bow. We start to talk and then I found out that Curtis Porter, a former Woosong teacher, has finally proposed to his long time girlfriend (WAY OVER DUE CURT) For the rest of the night I kept telling all of the guys with girlfriends that this would be the perfect time to propose to your lady. Some of the looks I got was funny. I did hear from one person, that him and his girlfriend were already engaged, so congrats to them.
Then the fun started to happen. Danny's mom and grandmother needed to go to MCD'S so I took them their, I knew exactly where it was at. I took them their and after we left , I asked him mom to tell him that I took them both to a dirty singing room, that it would be a great joke and they both agree. So when the ladies get back, his mom tells him that i took them both to a dirty singing room, the look on their faces was priceless, I was Laughing and then his mom said, Mike asked me to tell you that. I KNOW IT WAS WRONG BUT IT SURE WAS FUNNY.
Then someone had the idea to make a wedding rule, whenever someone paid 5$ or 5,000 Won, the bell would ring and the couple would have to kiss. So the $ started to flow and I got some great shots of the couple Kissing. i even paid 10$ for them to kiss 2x,, I said that only 1 darn it, I paid for 2 so kiss her again! The bell ring all night and even while Danny was playing the drums.
Teachers play a great song
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So the band starts to play at the cool bar and they play some great songs, I am talking to Danny family and other people the entire time of the first set. After the second set it more bell ringing and more kissing.
While the band was on a break, van came over to where the family and I were sitting at, Grandpa asked Van to play a country song that night, so we were talking about one song and grandma said that she liked Charlie Pride. Well.. that stated all of us singing. "You never even called me by my name" SEE WORDS BELOW...............
Well it was all that I could do to keep from cryin'
Sometimes it seemed so useless to remain
But you don't have to call me darlin' darlin'
You never even call me by my name
You don't have to call me Waylon Jennings
And you don't have to call me Charley Pride
And you don't have to call me Merle Haggard anymore
Even though you're on my fightin' side
And I'll hang around as long as you will let me and I never minded standing in the rain
But you don't have to call me darlin' darlin' you never even call me by my name
Well I've heard my name a few times in your phonebook (hello hello)
And I've seen it on signs where I've played
But the only time I know I'll hear David Allan Coe
Is when Jesus has his final judgment day
So I'll hang around as long as you will let me and I never minded standing in the rain
But you don't have to call me darlin' darlin' you never even call me by my name
(Well a friend of mine named Steve Goodman wrote that song
And he told me it was the perfect country and western song
I wrote him back a letter and told him
It was not the perfect country and western song
Because he hadn't said anything at all about mama
Or trains or trucks or prison or gettin' drunk
Well he sat down and wrote another verse to the song and he sent it to me
And after reading it I realized
That my friend had written the perfect country and western song
And I felt obliged to include it on this album the last verse goes like this here)
Well I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison
And I went to pick her up in the rain
But before I could get to the station in a pickup truck
She got run'd over by a damned old train
And I'll hang around as long as you will let me and I never minded standing in the rain
But you don't have to call me darlin' darlin' you never even call me by my name.
SO HERE WE ARE IN DAEJEON KOREA, AT THE COOL BAR, SINGING THIS SONG. WHAT SURPRISED ME WAS THAT VAN KNEW IT ALSO. Grandpa asked Van to play a country song later in the evening.
After we stopped singing the song, I told Van that I had taught some of the foreign students that I went to school with back at UNT, that one night they wanted to learn some AMERICAN BEER drinking songs, so I took them to a bar and I played this song and the whole bar sang along to this song. If I had not actually heard us singing that song I would have not believed it at all.
THE FIRST OF MANY KISSES TOGETHER
My $ paid for this Kiss. I was so Happy.
Dan and His Brother Chris.
Me and Chris
Mina and Grandmother
Chris and His Wife
Grandma and Chris
Mina and Friend
Helen and Mom
Mina and Danny's Dad dancing together.
Danny Posing Korean
Helen, Grandma and Grandpa
Mother and Son
Grandma and Grandson
Grandma, Grandpa and Grandson.
Best Man Speech
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Now the above speech was earlier in the party it was time for his brother to give a real heart felt speech. Lets just say, its the same one I would give my brother James. I am told that Chris gave a real heart felt speech earlier but alas, no video. THE LOUD COMMENTS ARE MINE SO BLAME ME FOR THOSE!!!!
Later on the brothers both start to sing Ice ice baby. From what I was told, it looks like their mother introduced them to music very early and the boys sang IIB a lot when they were kids, Chris later admitted to having a pair of the HammerPants.
Now the above photo is what was going on while the photo was being taken. The bell had rung and they were kissing again and I got the shot. I was next to Danny's mom when I took the shot. I looked over at her and she was smiling and looked very happy. I leaned over and said to her, you are as light up as a Christmas tree. She was so happy for Danny and I knew that she loved both of them. I thought I was going to cry.
Well at about 1235 an announcement was made, we had killed all of the kegs of beer at the party. (we are not alcoholics, we do not go to meetings) The next day I talked to Charles and he said that he had ordered 6 kegs of beer, usually parties have 2-3. I looked at him and I said, with the crowd that we had their 9 might have worked. They were small kegs of beer, If it would have had been in the USA i WOULD HAVE ORDERED 3 big Coors Light ones.
I told Van that I had told some of the younger men, that this night, you would remember, you would remember it as a good day and that their was love.
Grandpa and Grandma Kiss
Grandpa speech of love for the couple
Danny's dad speech of love for the couple
Couple saying thank you to the party
Dad and Son saying I love you.
Grandparents hug their grandchild.
mom and Mina say goodnight.
As the couple leaves.
Mom listening to speeches
Now the band was playing some great music, I was even dancing Russian with Sasha and I just picked it up by following her led, I then added a Texas twist to it and we were dancing. It was some great music.
As the band was winding down, I reminded Van about Grandma and Grandpa wanting to hear a country song. So Van tels Danny, who is the drummer in the band also, that Grandma and Grandpa want a country song. They play "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash and then the Grandparents dance and the crowd went wild.
Later on it was time for the couple to leave, or as I said, make grand babies time. Paul gave a nice speech then Grandpa gave a great Speech and then Danny father gave a great speech. When they were hugging and saying goodbye to family I was taking as many shots as I could. I got some great photos.
It was a night with love and it was awesome.
I, earlier in the evening, had told Danny Mom that I would get her a copy of all 200+ photos that I had taken, I did that today and they were very happy, so if you were there can you please give me a cd of all of the photos and I can put all of them together so they can pass them out to his family.
IT WAS A NIGHT OF CELEBRATION OF LOVE BETWEEN 2 PEOPLE. MAY YOU BOTH LIVE LONG AND PROSPER.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Well I had no idea how to follow Sundays post about Andrew Olmsted "GKAR". I stayed up Sunday night and kept reading it and every time I did I kept crying more. How in the heck did he come up with those words to say good bye and when he said good bye to his wife, I lost it.
This is where the "vet" in me came out big time. I recall having to say good bye to friends that had died while in service of their country. I cried then and I cry now for soldiers that i do not know.
The video above tells a simple story. A soldier comes home from Iraq and he goes to his sons school, to surprise him. His sons sees him, runs to him and just breaks down and cry. I was crying like a little girl, when I saw the video, It looks like a lot of people did also.
If I ever had my way, I would ban all war and never, ever resort to this. Unfortunately, I live in a world where evil men would see this as weakness and want more power and more glory. This is why I have always said and will always say, "When you fight a war, you fight like hell and you destroy the enemy, in such a way, that he looses his will ever to fight again." Look at Germany and Japan. Japan has not invaded its Asian neighbors since 1945 and Germany has not started a war.
Welcome home soldier and spend time with your son. To Gkar's family, you lost a loved one and we morn for a man of honors loss. The world is a bit smaller because he is no longer part of it. I posted his letter, without edit. I added an "Amazing Grace/Taps video" and put an 1980-84 music video, because he requested, "Drink a coke and play an 80's song"
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Andrew Olmsted, who also posted here as G'Kar, was killed yesterday in Iraq. Andy gave me a post to publish in the event of his death; the last revisions to it were made in July.
Andy was a wonderful person: decent, honorable, generous, principled, courageous, sweet, and very funny. The world has a horrible hole in it that nothing can fill. I'm glad Andy -- generous as always -- wrote something for me to publish now, since I have no words at all. Beyond: Andy, I will miss you.
My thoughts are with his wife, his parents, and his brother and sister.
What follows is Andy's post: a bit here; the rest below the fold. [UPDATE: I'm adding links to Andy's last post at his Rocky Mountain News blogs, from about a week ago, where friends and family are expressing support in comments; to an article from yesterday that I believe is about his death; and to a post he wrote on his reasons for going to Iraq last June.]
[FURTHER UPDATE: Somehow, I thought that given Andy's wish that his death not be politicized, people would refrain from political rants. Most of you have, for which I thank you. Anyone who does not respect his wishes, in this thread, will have his or her comment deleted. I am disemvowelling the one that has already appeared. END FURTHER UPDATE.]
"I am leaving this message for you because it appears I must leave sooner than I intended. I would have preferred to say this in person, but since I cannot, let me say it here."
G'Kar, Babylon 5
"Only the dead have seen the end of war."
This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits. And so, like G'Kar, I must say here what I would much prefer to say in person. I want to thank hilzoy for putting it up for me. It's not easy asking anyone to do something for you in the event of your death, and it is a testament to her quality that she didn't hesitate to accept the charge. As with many bloggers, I have a disgustingly large ego, and so I just couldn't bear the thought of not being able to have the last word if the need arose. Perhaps I take that further than most, I don't know. I hope so. It's frightening to think there are many people as neurotic as I am in the world. In any case, since I won't get another chance to say what I think, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. Such as it is.
"When some people die, it's time to be sad. But when other people die, like really evil people, or the Irish, it's time to celebrate."
Jimmy Bender, "Greg the Bunny"
"And maybe now it's your turn
To die kicking some ass."
Freedom Isn't Free, Team America
What I don't want this to be is a chance for me, or anyone else, to be maudlin. I'm dead. That sucks, at least for me and my family and friends. But all the tears in the world aren't going to bring me back, so I would prefer that people remember the good things about me rather than mourning my loss. (If it turns out a specific number of tears will, in fact, bring me back to life, then by all means, break out the onions.) I had a pretty good life, as I noted above. Sure, all things being equal I would have preferred to have more time, but I have no business complaining with all the good fortune I've enjoyed in my life. So if you're up for that, put on a little 80s music (preferably vintage 1980-1984), grab a Coke and have a drink with me. If you have it, throw 'Freedom Isn't Free' from the Team America soundtrack in; if you can't laugh at that song, I think you need to lighten up a little. I'm dead, but if you're reading this, you're not, so take a moment to enjoy that happy fact.
[continued below the fold]
"Our thoughts form the universe. They always matter."
Citizen G'Kar, Babylon 5
Believe it or not, one of the things I will miss most is not being able to blog any longer. The ability to put my thoughts on (virtual) paper and put them where people can read and respond to them has been marvelous, even if most people who have read my writings haven't agreed with them. If there is any hope for the long term success of democracy, it will be if people agree to listen to and try to understand their political opponents rather than simply seeking to crush them. While the blogosphere has its share of partisans, there are some awfully smart people making excellent arguments out there as well, and I know I have learned quite a bit since I began blogging. I flatter myself I may have made a good argument or two as well; if I didn't, please don't tell me. It has been a great five-plus years. I got to meet a lot of people who are way smarter than me, including such luminaries as Virginia Postrel and her husband Stephen (speaking strictly from a 'improving the species' perspective, it's tragic those two don't have kids, because they're both scary smart.), the estimable hilzoy and Sebastian of Obsidian Wings, Jeff Goldstein and Stephen Green, the men who consistently frustrated me with their mix of wit and wisdom I could never match, and I've no doubt left out a number of people to whom I apologize. Bottom line: if I got the chance to meet you through blogging, I enjoyed it. I'm only sorry I couldn't meet more of you. In particular I'd like to thank Jim Henley, who while we've never met has been a true comrade, whose words have taught me and whose support has been of great personal value to me. I would very much have enjoyed meeting Jim.
Blogging put me in touch with an inordinate number of smart people, an exhilarating if humbling experience. When I was young, I was smart, but the older I got, the more I realized just how dumb I was in comparison to truly smart people. But, to my credit, I think, I was at least smart enough to pay attention to the people with real brains and even occasionally learn something from them. It has been joy and a pleasure having the opportunity to do this.
"It's not fair."
"No. It's not. Death never is."
Captain John Sheridan and Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5
"They didn't even dig him a decent grave."
"Well, it's not how you're buried. It's how you're remembered."
Cimarron and Wil Andersen, The Cowboys
I suppose I should speak to the circumstances of my death. It would be nice to believe that I died leading men in battle, preferably saving their lives at the cost of my own. More likely I was caught by a marksman or an IED. But if there is an afterlife, I'm telling anyone who asks that I went down surrounded by hundreds of insurgents defending a village composed solely of innocent women and children. It'll be our little secret, ok?
I do ask (not that I'm in a position to enforce this) that no one try to use my death to further their political purposes. I went to Iraq and did what I did for my reasons, not yours. My life isn't a chit to be used to bludgeon people to silence on either side. If you think the U.S. should stay in Iraq, don't drag me into it by claiming that somehow my death demands us staying in Iraq. If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don't cite my name as an example of someone's life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I'm not around to expound on them I'd prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn't support. Further, this is tough enough on my family without their having to see my picture being used in some rally or my name being cited for some political purpose. You can fight political battles without hurting my family, and I'd prefer that you did so.
On a similar note, while you're free to think whatever you like about my life and death, if you think I wasted my life, I'll tell you you're wrong. We're all going to die of something. I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as I was.
"What an idiot! What a loser!"
Chaz Reingold, Wedding Crashers
"Oh and I don't want to die for you, but if dying's asked of me;
I'll bear that cross with honor, 'cause freedom don't come free."
American Soldier, Toby Keith
Those who know me through my writings on the Internet over the past five-plus years probably have wondered at times about my chosen profession. While I am not a Libertarian, I certainly hold strongly individualistic beliefs. Yet I have spent my life in a profession that is not generally known for rugged individualism. Worse, I volunteered to return to active duty knowing that the choice would almost certainly lead me to Iraq. The simple explanation might be that I was simply stupid, and certainly I make no bones about having done some dumb things in my life, but I don't think this can be chalked up to stupidity. Maybe I was inconsistent in my beliefs; there are few people who adhere religiously to the doctrines of their chosen philosophy, whatever that may be. But I don't think that was the case in this instance either.
As passionate as I am about personal freedom, I don't buy the claims of anarchists that humanity would be just fine without any government at all. There are too many people in the world who believe that they know best how people should live their lives, and many of them are more than willing to use force to impose those beliefs on others. A world without government simply wouldn't last very long; as soon as it was established, strongmen would immediately spring up to establish their fiefdoms. So there is a need for government to protect the people's rights. And one of the fundamental tools to do that is an army that can prevent outside agencies from imposing their rules on a society. A lot of people will protest that argument by noting that the people we are fighting in Iraq are unlikely to threaten the rights of the average American. That's certainly true; while our enemies would certainly like to wreak great levels of havoc on our society, the fact is they're not likely to succeed. But that doesn't mean there isn't still a need for an army (setting aside debates regarding whether ours is the right size at the moment). Americans are fortunate that we don't have to worry too much about people coming to try and overthrow us, but part of the reason we don't have to worry about that is because we have an army that is stopping anyone who would try.
Soldiers cannot have the option of opting out of missions because they don't agree with them: that violates the social contract. The duly-elected American government decided to go to war in Iraq. (Even if you maintain President Bush was not properly elected, Congress voted for war as well.) As a soldier, I have a duty to obey the orders of the President of the United States as long as they are Constitutional. I can no more opt out of missions I disagree with than I can ignore laws I think are improper. I do not consider it a violation of my individual rights to have gone to Iraq on orders because I raised my right hand and volunteered to join the army. Whether or not this mission was a good one, my participation in it was an affirmation of something I consider quite necessary to society. So if nothing else, I gave my life for a pretty important principle; I can (if you'll pardon the pun) live with that.
"It's all so brief, isn't it? A typical human lifespan is almost a hundred years. But it's barely a second compared to what's out there. It wouldn't be so bad if life didn't take so long to figure out. Seems you just start to get it right, and then...it's over."
Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5
I wish I could say I'd at least started to get it right. Although, in my defense, I think I batted a solid .250 or so. Not a superstar, but at least able to play in the big leagues. I'm afraid I can't really offer any deep secrets or wisdom. I lived my life better than some, worse than others, and I like to think that the world was a little better off for my having been here. Not very much, but then, few of us are destined to make more than a tiny dent in history's Green Monster. I would be lying if I didn't admit I would have liked to have done more, but it's a bit too late for that now, eh? The bottom line, for me, is that I think I can look back at my life and at least see a few areas where I may have made a tiny difference, and massive ego aside, that's probably not too bad.
"The flame also reminds us that life is precious. As each flame is unique; when it goes out, it's gone forever. There will never be another quite like it."
Ambassador Delenn, Babylon 5
I write this in part, admittedly, because I would like to think that there's at least a little something out there to remember me by. Granted, this site will eventually vanish, being ephemeral in a very real sense of the word, but at least for a time it can serve as a tiny record of my contributions to the world. But on a larger scale, for those who knew me well enough to be saddened by my death, especially for those who haven't known anyone else lost to this war, perhaps my death can serve as a small reminder of the costs of war. Regardless of the merits of this war, or of any war, I think that many of us in America have forgotten that war means death and suffering in wholesale lots. A decision that for most of us in America was academic, whether or not to go to war in Iraq, had very real consequences for hundreds of thousands of people. Yet I was as guilty as anyone of minimizing those very real consequences in lieu of a cold discussion of theoretical merits of war and peace. Now I'm facing some very real consequences of that decision; who says life doesn't have a sense of humor?
But for those who knew me and feel this pain, I think it's a good thing to realize that this pain has been felt by thousands and thousands (probably millions, actually) of other people all over the world. That is part of the cost of war, any war, no matter how justified. If everyone who feels this pain keeps that in mind the next time we have to decide whether or not war is a good idea, perhaps it will help us to make a more informed decision. Because it is pretty clear that the average American would not have supported the Iraq War had they known the costs going in. I am far too cynical to believe that any future debate over war will be any less vitriolic or emotional, but perhaps a few more people will realize just what those costs can be the next time.
This may be a contradiction of my above call to keep politics out of my death, but I hope not. Sometimes going to war is the right idea. I think we've drawn that line too far in the direction of war rather than peace, but I'm a soldier and I know that sometimes you have to fight if you're to hold onto what you hold dear. But in making that decision, I believe we understate the costs of war; when we make the decision to fight, we make the decision to kill, and that means lives and families destroyed. Mine now falls into that category; the next time the question of war or peace comes up, if you knew me at least you can understand a bit more just what it is you're deciding to do, and whether or not those costs are worth it.
"This is true love. You think this happens every day?"
Westley, The Princess Bride
"Good night, my love, the brightest star in my sky."
John Sheridan, Babylon 5
This is the hardest part. While I certainly have no desire to die, at this point I no longer have any worries. That is not true of the woman who made my life something to enjoy rather than something merely to survive. She put up with all of my faults, and they are myriad, she endured separations again and again...I cannot imagine being more fortunate in love than I have been with Amanda. Now she has to go on without me, and while a cynic might observe she's better off, I know that this is a terrible burden I have placed on her, and I would give almost anything if she would not have to bear it. It seems that is not an option. I cannot imagine anything more painful than that, and if there is an afterlife, this is a pain I'll bear forever.
I wasn't the greatest husband. I could have done so much more, a realization that, as it so often does, comes too late to matter. But I cherished every day I was married to Amanda. When everything else in my life seemed dark, she was always there to light the darkness. It is difficult to imagine my life being worth living without her having been in it. I hope and pray that she goes on without me and enjoys her life as much as she deserves. I can think of no one more deserving of happiness than her.
"I will see you again, in the place where no shadows fall."
Ambassador Delenn, Babylon 5
I don't know if there is an afterlife; I tend to doubt it, to be perfectly honest. But if there is any way possible, Amanda, then I will live up to Delenn's words, somehow, some way. I love you.
TO HONOR THIS MAN, I NOW PRESENT THIS.
AND DRINK A COKE AND PLAY AN 80'S SONG (1980-84)
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Talk about hitting the ground running. Lee Myung-bak, since being elected the new president of South Korea just a couple weeks ago, has already put into motion plans to:
- get rid, of the Unification ministry (a governement organization some would say cowtows to North Korea)
- get rid of the press restrictions put in place by outgoing President Roh
- install giant sea elevators that will transport ships over mountains as part of Lee’s Grand Canal project (a campaign promise to build a canal through the heart of South Korea)
Sure, it’s early in the game, but it’s been an impressive enough display that other Asian countries are wondering (and wondering), who their own version of President Lee might be. Even America is asking.
Lee has also promised to boost South Korea’s GDP to US$40,000, which would rank 7th in the world.
(Links via Marmot’s Hole)
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
I normally stay away from awards shows and Korean television in general, but last night I found myself at a condo in Gyeongju with eight Korean women who wanted to watch the SBS Music Awards.
The atmosphere was festive — samgyupsal, ramen and the usual smorgasbord of liquor that accompanies these kind of weekend getaways. So who was I to dictate what we watched on TV? Besides, Lee Hyori was co-hosting and wearing some kind of sexual baby bib (photo via PopSeoul) that was more than enough to keep my interest.
As far as I could tell, the program was more of a musical review (as in pop music medleys) than an awards program. But after some 2 1/2 hours of this stuff something happened that almost made me sick. I became so agitated I had to get up and walk out of the room.
This guy, Jung June-ha, was on a TV show called High Kick!, that, as far as these shows go was moderately tolerable. It was on for a few months, was all the rage, and then went off into the night. He’s also on one of the inane vaudeville-style comedy shows that pepper the airwaves in South Korea. No, let me rephrase that. He’s on THE inane vaudeville-style comedy show. Ultimate Challenge, the show beloved by nearly ALL Koreans — old, young, women, men, politicians, doctors, garbage-men, prisoners on death row — everyone.
But sometime toward the end of 거침없이 하이킥 aka High Kick! (in Korea shows often end after one season), a bar the Jung owns in Seoul (I believe in Apgujeong – a little like TriBeCa in NYC) was found to be a prostitute bar.
There was a lot of public shock and scorn, and since High Kick! was still popular, it made the nightly news. Of course, with so much to lose, the guy had to come out and deny he had any idea the women employed at his bar were selling their bodies.
Now, this all fits in with part of a Korean Agreed Fallacy that denies that 75% of the bars in Korea aren’t selling women in the first place. Right, the owner of the bar had no idea. Like he doesn’t go hang out there every night after he finishes shooting his stupid shows. As if a comedian in Korea owns 50 bars across the country and has no idea what any of them are up to. Especially the one he owns in the richest, hipest, most visible district in the country (outside of Kim Jong-il’s bedroom). Sure…no idea.
It wouldn’t have bothered me so much if the guy had just come out and said “Hey, I’m an f*ing pimp.” But he didn’t. He did quite the opposite. I saw a newsclip of him stumbling out of a van, going into some kind of police station, looking harried and dizzy, as if he’d just been told he had a month to live. Pure shock. Hair messed up. Red faced. Nearly blind by stress like Cliff the mailman.
I didn’t follow it closely, but the scandal disappeared. The guy said he had no idea. If I’m not mistaken it was played off as if the women had banded together and were selling themselves on the side unbeknownst to him. People let it go. I didn’t give it much thought after that. He was still on both shows. Still playing the same jerk with curly hair he always plays.
Back to Saturday night. At the end of the SBS Awards they decided to actually give out an award. Some generic “entertainers of the year” kind of thing. Of course, the comedy show that every Korean living and dead watches, the show that’s playing on at least six channels every day of the week, wins the award.
The guys on the show, who were sitting at a table practically on the stage, acted as though a martian had just climbed out of a wine glass and had chosen them to fly to the moon to try the newest vintage of moon wine. They sat there stunned, even the guy with the dyed blonde hair and goatee who I’d yet to ever see with his mouth shut, was silent. They all slowly stood up. Knees shaking and the rest. I understand…they have to show everyone that they haven’t been sitting there for the entire 2 1/2 hours planning their congratulatory evening at Pap Smear’s whore bar.
So they come up to the stage. One of them — the requisite short, funny-looking guy — walks to the mic and starts making like he’s going to cry. This seems a bit over the top to me, but whatever. I’ve seen worse. He starts talking about how tired he is, how hard they all work etc. The usual stuff Korean entertainers say in front of a camera. Then he starts crying. Not big sobs, but after he sat there and scrunched his face for a minute, little driblets came out. He stuck his head out to show everyone his tears, finished, and walked to the back.
Then the camera goes to tampon head who kind of pauses in the back, as if he’s unable to move – long enough so that the camera can zero in on the fact that he’s pausing in the back and is unable to move. He finally starts sauntering to the mic. He’s crying too. Fine. The show is almost over. He’s covering his face as he walks. He starts speaking in a very grave tone. Says something about how doing the show is a little annoying because he’s always tired. Everyone in the SBS audience and our Gyeongju condo (except me) laughs. He coughs. But then I notice something. He’s not crying! Not a hint of a tear. The video below leaves things a little digitized. Trust me, as opposed to the guy before, pimp daddy’s eyes are dry as a desert. Why? Because even HE can’t fake it that hard. Because he knows he’s a pimp and a hustler, and now he had to pretend like he has a soul. Guess what? He can’t! So what does he do? He puts his hands back up and keeps rubbing his eyes and hiding his face like the fowl that he is. He coughs into the mic and rubs his eyes some more. He makes crying sounds. Groaning a little. Says sorry. He CAN’T DO IT. He’s a pimp but because he’s an entertainer in Korea he has to pretend he’s this virtuous twat. But he can’t. So he stops. He starts talking normally for a bit so he can say his speel.
Then, as he starts to wind things down, and again, as if he almost forgot he’s supposed to be a sensitive pimp, he throws in a few coughs and eye rubs – strikes up the band again.
Like I said I had to leave the room. I can’t explain why it made me so angry. This isn’t a sociological exploration. It’s a rant. I’m usually pretty good about keeping a lid on that while living here. It’s totally counterproductive. There are too many foreigners in this country who walk around hating everything and everyone around them. I’m not that guy. If Korean entertainers and entertainment start driving me up the wall, then everything else will follow. I’ve sensed this since I moved here.
But like I said…it was the night Korean TV finally made me lose my sh*t.
This could be a very interesting year in Korea.
I have no idea what the future hold but I will deal with it when it does. Based on my track record, this could be very interesting.
The usual items, lose weight, be a better teacher, try and find significant other. The usual request for the new year. Try and be a better person and try to get closer with God.
I will try and keep up with going around in Korea in movies and be honest with the reviews. The end of the year list is still a few weeks away, still waiting on a few films. Will be boycotting all future releases from MK Pictures (Korean Film Company) will tell they story why later. I am still boycotting Jane Fonda, see no end in sight for that one.
Looks like I will be busy with wedding for the first 2 months of this year.
Danny get married on JAN 12 and I have been told to suit up for that one. I will fly to New Zealand in Feb 2008 for Dan and Greer's Wedding. I just bought a round trip ticket from Auckland to Christchurch and I will have to take a bus to Dunedin. Yes I have no idea quite yet where exactly I am going but Next month I will have a better idea. Should make for some great stories.
Once again 2008, no idea where my 2 kids are. Its a bad story that will only get worse.
Looks like my brother James, is due to walk down the aisle for 4x now. I have talked to the girl and I think that I might have met her back in the 80's. I do hope that this is the right one for him.
Big thing is what to do with the new E-2 Visa requirements here in Korea. Looks like next weeks I will have to start a FBI background check for past criminal activities. I still fell that all of the BS lies that the Korean media has presented about all Korean teachers and the supposed "Chester the Molester" incident, has caused this to happen and the hogwons are going to have to bear the cost of it.
Still like my job and hope that all goes well here. Baseball season will be in a few months and want to see as many games as I can. My "Supposed" best friend will be playing for the Samsung Lions this year. Seoul will have a 3rd baseball team in the KT team with the Hyundai Unicorns folding up shop. Shame about Suwon losing their baseball team.
Well happy 2008 and hope this year is a good one for you all....
Happy New Year everyone. Hopefully everyone who is reading this does not have to much of a head ache after a night of New Year’s partying. Anyway I have created a listing of what I think were the top news stories of 2007 right here on the ROK Drop. You can read them below the fold:
#37 - June - Kim Yun-jin claims discrimination as part of the LOST cast.
#36 - July - DC judge looses $54 million dollar lawsuit against Korean-American dry cleaners.
#34 - September - KBS2 airs program bashing low quality foreign English teachers.
#33 - March - The new and highly advanced XK2 tank is fielded by the ROK Army.
#31 - October - Percocet gang busted on Osan Airbase.
#30 - July - US beef continues to be blocked from Korean market.
#29 - June - Filipino diplomat caught shoplifting in Yongsan PX leads to diplomatic dispute between USFK and the Filipino Embassy.
#28 - April - Kunsan Airbase locked down after taxi cab related incident.
#27 - October - Hanchongryun thugs attack US soldiers at front gate of Camp Casey and get away with it.
#24 - November - US Navy aids North Korean sailors battle Somali pirates.
#23 - February - ROK Army soldier killed in suicide bombing in Afghanistan.
#22 - July - Korean church threatens to intern bodies of foreigners including ex-GIs buried at the Yanghwajin Foreigner Cemetery in Seoul.
#21 - February - US Congress passes non-binding resolution condemning Japan for World War II comfort women.
#20 - February - Hongdae area of Seoul put off limits to American GIs by USFK commander.
#19 - March - Controversial USFK marriage policy is implemented.
#18 - April - Korean government takes control of vacated USFK camps despite bogus pollution issue.
#17 - April - US GIs continue to get screwed by Korean courts.
#16 February - USFK implements highly controversial .10% Blood Alcohol Content policy.
#15 February - ROK Army soldier who sexually assaulted American female soldier on Camp Casey found guilty but given suspended sentence and serves no jail time.
#14 - March - Grandma rape case perpetrator is sentenced to four years in prison.
#13 - October - US admits 32 North Korean defectors.
#12 - May - SPC Vang Her is killed by a taxi cab driver in Dongducheon and stripped of his clothes.
#11 - December - Man kills one and injures another ROK Marine and steals their weapons in response to girlfriend issues.
#10 - January - USFK Commander B.B. Bell is warned by the Korean government over his "undiplomatic remarks" after he voices his frustrations with the Korean government cutting agreed upon funding and delaying the USFK transformation after Secretary Rumsfeld resigned from the Pentagon.
#9 - February - War time operational control delayed to 2012.
#8 - September - Reports of North Korea proliferating nuclear technology to Syria following an Israeli airstrike on the country are released.
#7 - September - Presidents Bush and Roh argue over North Korea in front of the cameras at APEC Summit in Sydney.
#6 - February - New Agreed Framework nuclear agreement with North Korea is signed and unsurprisingly the US has given in and given North Korea extra goodies while North Korea has missed every deadline since.
#5 - January - The US government cuts funding to the UN Developmental Program which the supposed development funding was nothing more than unaccountable hard cash being paid to the Kim regime. Unbelievable corruption which is becoming more and more epidemic in the UN that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pledged to investigate but instead has covered up.
#3 - July - 23 Korean missionaries were kidnapped in Afghanistan with two being murdered by the Taliban. The Korean government pays multi-million dollar bribe to the Taliban and withdraws Korean troops from Iraq while simultaneously blaming the US government for the situation.
#2 - April - The mass killing of students at Virginia Tech by Korean student.
#1 - December - Lee Myung-bak elected as the next president of Korea.
Any thoughts about the list? Does anyone think I left any important news stories out? If so let it be known in the comments section. Once again Happy New Year.