Saturday, August 30, 2008

FROM YAHOO MOVIES........................................................................................

It's a sad fact of the movie biz that a lot of movies flop at the box office. But a few flicks fail so completely, so utterly at the box office that they derail careers, drive studios to bankruptcy and lose the dollar equivalent of a small country's GDP. In honor of Disaster Movie opening this week, we bring you some of the biggest movie disasters in history.

Budget: $73 million, US Box Office: $21 million

John Travolta's two-decade long quest to put L. Ron Hubbard's tome on the silver screen ended with intergalactic failure. A perfect storm of hammy acting, bad direction, and ridiculous storytelling converged to make "Battlefield Earth" the worst reviewed film of 2000. It also won seven Razzies, a feat only matched by another famous box-office bomb, Showgirls.

Budget: $100 million, US Box Office: $4.4 million

In terms of sheer numbers, this flick is one of the biggest box-office flops in cinema history. Eddie Murphy was apparently so embarrassed by the end result that he refused to do any publicity for the movie.

Budget: $40 million, US Box Office: $3.5 million

In the annals of film making, few movies reach the height of epic fiasco like "Heaven's Gate." This film -- about European cattle-rustlers, rich WASP ranch owners, and roller-skating (really) -- lost millions upon millions of dollars, destroyed the career of director Michael Cimino, and drove the hallowed United Artist studio out of business. It failed, and it failed big.

Budget: $90 million, US Box Office: $6.7 million

What started as a light, frothy romantic comedy about married life -- starring Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty -- spiraled into one of the biggest money losers in the history of Hollywood. Production problems, scheduling issues, and constant script rewrites conspired to stretch the film's production time to almost three years, ballooning the budget to a size usually found in summer blockbusters.

Budget: $44 million, US Box Office: $26 million

Though the box-office draw of "Cleopatra" was quite respectable, it paled next to its monstrous cost. Originally set to cost a mere $2 million, the film's budget soon spiraled out of control because of production delays, ailing actresses, and mythically lavish sets. Adjusted for inflation, the movie remains one of the most expensive flicks that ever graced the silver screen. The price tag proved to be so great that the production threatened to put 20th Century Fox out of business.

Budget: $65 million, US Box Office: $17 million

This overstuffed caper comedy dumped ice water on Bruce Willis' formerly red-hot career. Perhaps one of the reasons the film proved to be so expensive was that Willis -- who was increasingly sensitive over his thinning hair -- demanded that a special effects firm go through the film and airbrush out his bald spot

Budget: $98 million, US Box Office: $10 million

Director Renny Harlin convinced Carolco Pictures that his then-wife Geena Davis could be turned into an action-adventure star for this swashbuckling pirate yarn. The problem was that Michael Douglas pulled out of the film in spite of a $15 million paycheck. The part was then offered to Keanu Reeves who turned it down. As did Tom Cruise, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, Charlie Sheen, Liam Neeson, and Tim Robbins. In the end, Harlin settled for Matthew Modine, who did little to open the movie. "Cutthroat Island" proved to be one of the biggest box-office losses in history, derailing Geena Davis' career, and sinking Carolco Pictures

ISHTAR (1987)
Budget: $55 million, US Box Office: $14 million

An example of how bad buzz can kill a movie. When the production for Elaine May's comedy -- about two lousy lounge singers who get caught up in Cold War politics -- ran over budget, negative anecdotes started getting leaked to the press. In spite of positive reviews from the "New York Times" among others, the media brouhaha over the film spiraled out of control. The film died at the box office and soon "Ishtar" became short-hand for box-office bomb.

Budget: $47 million, US Box Office: $8 million

For a director whose career has been famously plagued with production fiasco, Terry Gilliam's "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" stands out as being his most expensive flop. Dogged by lawsuits, duplicitous producers and furious financiers, the production dragged on at a snail's pace as the budget ballooned to gargantuan proportions. Though the film earned peanuts on its initial release, the film soon developed some serious legs on video and DVD.

Budget: $38 million, US Box Office: $16 million

Who would have thought that a movie about a cigar-chomping duck stuck in Cleveland would have been such a bomb? George Lucas produced this film which featured a budget as big as Lea Thompson's hair -- including a $2 million duck suit -- and more special effects than you can shake a stick at. Yet when the film came out, it was quickly and almost universally hailed as one of the worst films ever made

Budget: $80 million, US Box Office $17.6 million

In spite of the terrible press, Kevin Costner's Waterworld actually made money. "The Postman" -- dubbed "Dirtworld" by the crew -- most certainly didn't. It was slammed by critics as being a mawkish vanity project and it flopped at the box office. For better or worse, "The Postman" also derailed Costner's career as a director.

ZYZZYX RD. (2005)
Budget: $2 million, US Box Office: $30 (Yes, you read that right.)

There are a lot of indie films that don't make money. But few can boast a box-office draw less than the cost of a tank of gas. To satisfy a Screen Actors Guild's requirement, director John Penney -- who was holding out for a DVD deal -- screened the flick in a Texas theater for a week where it earned a mere thirty bucks. The meager box-office draw landed the film in the "Guinness Book of Records" as the lowest grossing film of all time. To make matters worse, Penney had to return 1/3 of the gross, as two of the six paying ticket-goers were also crew members.

MEET DAVE (2008)
Budget: $60 million, US Box Office: $11.6 million

Budget: $120 million, US Box Office: $44 million

These two flicks are the biggest losers for the summer. While "Meet Dave" -- which was given almost no publicity by its studio -- lost more money in relation to its budget, "Speed Racer" -- which was hugely hyped but failed to find an audience -- lost more money overall. In either case, you probably won't be seeing any more movies about alien Eddie Murphy clones or lollipop-hued race car drivers in the near future.



Budget: $46 million, US Box Office: $$5,200,986 (box Office Mojo numbers)

Inchon was shown at Cannes film festival but failed to interest any buyers despite a $250,000 publicity campaign. Inchon would end up costing $40.8 million (Some estimates have put the figure between $65 million and $104 million, which would make it one of the biggest flops of all time). The film took just $5.2 million at the box office, and was never officially released on video or DVD. Because the film did not have the backing of a major studio it is not often listed as an all-time box-office bomb. In 2000, Reason magazine, while calling it a "bomb" and a "didactic dud", cited Inchon as an early example of a major film critical of communism.


Budget: $$54 million, US Box Office: $6,087,542 (Box Office Mojo numbers)

The movie was considered a bomb, often called the worst movie of 2003, grossing less than $4 million in its opening weekend after costing $54 million to make. It earned nearly universally negative reviews and scores only a 6% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 157 reviews, with the consensus being: "bizarre and clumsily plotted, Gigli is a mess. As for its stars, Affleck and Lopez lack chemistry."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The South Korean baseball team poses for a photo as they celebrate their victory in the men’s Olympic final game between South Korea and Cuba at the Wukesong Baseball Stadium Saturday. / AFP-Yonhap

By Kim Tong-hyung
Staff Reporter

Not long ago, suggesting South Korea could roll over the United States, Japan and Cuba for an Olympic baseball gold would have been considered as lunacy even by the most jingoistic local fan.

However, with manager Kim Kyung-moon's current squad doing just that, defeating Japan and Cuba twice before biting into Chinese gold, the Koreans will likely never again be excited about finishing second best in any tournament.

Lee Seung-yeop hit another huge home run, starter Ryu Hyun-jin limited a mighty Cuban lineup to two runs over 8 1/3 innings, and reliever Chong Tae-hyon worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth as the Koreans escaped as 3-2 winners in Saturday's final at Beijing's Wukesong Baseball Stadium.

It was the country's first Olympic baseball gold, and last for at least another eight years. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has pulled the sport for London in 2012, but says it could reconsider for 2016.

``A few days ago, I had a dream of giving interviews to news reporters naked," laughed the normally-reserved Kim, who admitted he would have been happy to settle for a bronze and never thought seriously about a gold before the tournament started.

``I didn't talk to anyone about the dream, as I wasn't sure it was a good omen or a bad one. Now, I guess I have to credit the dream for bringing me the gold," he said.

The Koreans, who rallied to defeat the United States 8-7 in a dramatic Olympic opener, completed their campaign with a 9-0 record that left them the only unbeaten team in Beijing.

Lee, one of the top power hitters of Asian professional baseball in the past decade, has endured a miserable 2008 season for Japan's Yomiuri Giants, but continued to be a game-changing presence wearing his country's colors.

After breaking a 3-for-25 slump with a two-run home run against Japan in Friday's semifinal, the sweet-swinging 32-year-old belted another two-run blast against the Cubans in the first as Korea jumped to a 2-0 lead.

However, Cuba responded immediately with a solo shot by Michel Enriquez in the bottom of the first off one of the rare mistakes by Ryu on the night.

The Koreans struggled to figure out Cuban starter Norberto Gonzalez, but had better luck against veteran reliever Pedro Luiz Lazo.

With two outs in the seventh, Cuban outfielder Alexi Bell dropped a blooper by Park Jin-man. After Park advanced to second after Lee Jong-wook coaxed a walk out of Lazo, Lee Yong-kyu, who hit .450 for the tournament, lashed a double of the right-field line that made the game 3-1.

However, Bell, clearly the best hitter of the tournament with a .520 batting average and a .960 slugging percentage, made up for his blunder with a solo homer in the following inning that cut the Cuban deficit to one.

Despite having Chong loosening up in the bullpen, Kim chose to stick with Ryu in the top of the ninth, with his fastball and changeup combination continuing to baffle Cuban hitters.

However, Ryu allowed an inning-opening single to Hector Olivera, who advanced to second on an Enriquez sacrifice. Then home plate umpire Carlos Rey Cotto suddenly seemed to deploy a reduced strike zone, which led Ryu to issue his first two walks of the game on close calls.

Catcher Kang Min-ho, briefly losing his cool, got tossed after arguing the fourth ball on Bell, violently throwing his glove and mask as he stormed back into the dugout.

With his team appearing to be headed for extra innings, or worse, settling for a sliver, Kim replaced Ryu with Chong to pitch to new catcher Jin Kab-yong, the team's original starter who had been nursing a thigh injury.

Pitching with the bases juiced, Chong, a submariner, displayed impressive poise, pitching two straight sliders in the zone against veteran Yuliesky Gourriel for a 0-2 count.

Then Chong hurled another slider that Gourriel turned into a dribbler to shortstop Ko Young-min, who started a 6-4-3 double play that sent his teammates, and the nation watching at home, into euphoria.

``My second pitch to Gourriel was a mistake right down the middle, but I felt confident after he didn't manage to touch it," said Chong, who extended a stellar reputation in international play that began in the 2004 Sydney Games.

``My mind went blank after the ball passed the mound to the second base. I can't believe we won it all," he said.

Lee, who hit just one home run for the Giants this year while spending extensive time in the Japanese minors, was tearful after his home run against Japan and seemed to have his swagger back after delivering once again in the gold medal match.

Lee, who still holds the Korean professional record with his 56-home run season in 2003, became a national hero by hitting five home runs and producing 10 RBIs in the World Baseball Classic in 2006. His performance in the Olympics, where he overcame adversity to come through when it mattered most, cements his status in the Korean sports pantheon.

``My younger teammates played so great, and this gold medal should be a tribute to them," said Lee.

The younger Koreans delivered indeed. Ryu's stellar performance against the Cubans followed his complete-game shutout against the Canadians that allowed the Koreans to escape with a 1-0 win.

And 20-year-old Kim Kwang-hyun, who was brilliant in his two starts against Japan, looks set to compete with fellow lefty Ryu, who is just a year older, over the title of the country's best pitcher.

And with Lee finding another basher in 26-year-old Lee Dae-ho, who led the tournament with three home runs and was second in RBIs with 10, to anchor the heart of the order, Beijing might prove as the international coming-out party for Korea's new generation of ballplayers.

The next test comes in the second World Baseball Classic scheduled for next spring, where the Koreans are surely to garner more respect from opponents as a world baseball power.




Monday, August 25, 2008

It's clear why baseball will not be at 2012 Games

BEIJING -- In the great rematch with the great rival for a chance at an Olympic gold medal, the United States sent to the mound a 20-year-old college kid. Cuba sent a 37-year-old veteran of two previous Olympics and three World Cups.

If this has a familiar ring, it should. It is basketball 20 years ago. Basketball did something about it. Baseball has not.

That is the difference between the two sports in imagination and leadership. And it explains why there will be no Olympic baseball tournament at the 2012 Games in London.

When Cuba had polished off its 10-2 victory Friday, denying the U.S. a chance at a gold medal for the fourth time in five Olympic baseball tournaments, someone asked manager Davey Johnson how America could compete, assuming baseball ever returns to the Olympics, with college kids and minor leaguers.

"It's very difficult for us because major league baseball is very big business and a lot of players that have potential to play in the big leagues, they're either called up or not allowed to come here," Johnson said.

This is why the Olympic baseball tournament is a joke, and why the International Olympic Committee was right to kill it.

With a wave of its wand, major league baseball could create an Olympic tournament with every bit the star power of the Olympic basketball tournament, which has become a magnet for fans and a driver of that sport's growth globally.

But it hasn't, and probably won't, for one simple reason: Baseball's leadership lacks the foresight to see what might be. It lacks the creativity to do what is in its own best interest.

Baseball claims it doesn't need a real Olympic tournament because it has the World Baseball Classic, but the truth is the World Baseball Classic is a fatally flawed model for a true world championship.

It takes place in March, when major league pitchers are a month away from being ready to pitch in games that count. The number of pitches they can throw at that time of year is rightly limited. It's better than the Olympic tournament because the right players are there, more or less, but it's at the wrong time of year to get prime time performances out of them.

No, the Olympic tournament is much better timed, but insiders despair of major league owners or commissioner Bud Selig ever showing the vision it would take to get it done.

"I think that'd be great, but I think that's a decision that major league baseball would have to make," Johnson said. "Now that we have the World Baseball Classic, I don't see them probably doing that."

Harvey Schiller, president of the International Baseball Federation, floated a plan just this week that would allow major league stars to join the Olympic tournament for just the medal round, reducing the disruption to baseball's regular season to just a few days every four years.

Hockey, of course, found a way to interrupt its season for the Winter Games. Basketball discovered the Olympic tournament was an enormous boon to its international growth.

"I think it would really be great," Johnson repeated, "but baseball is such a big business in the United States. It's the off-season in basketball. If it was during the NBA season, I'd be amazed if they let 'em come."

Johnson may not be familiar with NBA commissioner David Stern's commitment to grow his game internationally. There is no going back now. The best NBA players are rock stars at the Olympics and they turn it into a global advertisement they could not buy.

Without Schiller's screwy artifice, which would require backbenchers to earn a spot in the medal round, then stand aside for the stars, the Olympics could structure an eight-team tournament that would take a single week to play. Once every four years, instead of a four-day All-Star break, baseball could have a seven- or eight-day Olympic break.

It could build a competitive field right now of the U.S., the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. The Dominican might well be the favorite.

The venues would be packed, which China's small, temporary Wukesong Stadium was not for Friday's game between Cuba and a bunch of unknown American minor leaguers.

The U.S. was in it for a while, trailing 4-2 after six, but Cuba batted around in the eighth against a pair of farmhands to blow it open. It was 20 years ago, at the 1988 Games in Seoul, that basketball realized college kids could no longer beat the best pros from other countries. Stern convinced NBA owners to let their players participate. Now the NBA is a global brand.

Commissioner Bud has copied virtually every other Stern marketing initiative. Perhaps Schiller can convince him to copy this one, too, and give his game a star-studded international showcase.

If he does, baseball could be back in the Olympics by 2016 as a marquee event, rivaling basketball for marquee value. If he doesn't, the tournament deserves to die. The Olympics feature the best in the world in each discipline. It is not a place for minor leaguers, no matter how promising their futures might be.

Baseball can grow the game globally or not. It is entirely up to baseball.

US hoops back on top, beats Spain for gold medal

BEIJING - AUGUST 24:  Dwyane Wade #9 and Carmelo Anthony #15 of the United States embrace after defeating Spain 118-107 in the gold medal game during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
BEIJING - AUGUST 24: Dwyane W…
Getty Images - Aug 24, 6:07 am EDT
Getty Images - Aug 24, 6:01 am EDT

BEIJING (AP)—Arm-in-arm, they climbed onto the middle of the medals platform, the spot that for so long was U.S. private property.

Some players flashed their Olympic medals to the crowd. One pretended to take a bite, just to make sure it was real.

Yep, it was gold—the color the Americans always used to win but hadn’t since 2000.

Culminating a three-year mission to end years of embarrassment, the U.S. team survived a huge challenge from Spain, winning 118-107 in the gold-medal game Sunday.

Order was restored in international basketball.

“Much respect to Spain, but the U.S. is back on top again,” LeBron James said at a press conference attended by the entire team.

But not by that much anymore.

After overwhelming everyone for seven games, the Americans led by only four points with under 21/2 minutes to play. Then they proved they could handle a close game that it seemed would never come in Beijing.

Their prize: the first U.S. gold medal since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Argentina won the bronze with an 87-75 victory against Lithuania.

Dwyane Wade scored 27 points for the Americans, who found a much gamer Spanish team than the one they humiliated by 37 points earlier in the tournament. Kobe Bryant added 20 points.

In a game so devoid of defense that it felt more like an NBA All-Star game than one with a title at stake, the Americans had too much offense down the stretch. Bryant converted a clutch four-point play with 3:10 remaining, holding his finger to his lips to quiet the rowdy Spanish crowd behind the basket.

Wade added another 3-pointer that made it 111-104 with just over 2 minutes left, and only then could the Americans relax a little.

They began to celebrate during a break after some technical fouls on Spain with 26 seconds left, then partied at midcourt when it was over with “Born in the USA” blaring over the arena’s speakers.

“We played with great character in one of the great games in international basketball history, I think,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Nobody else had been close to the Americans in Beijing. This team’s only Olympic competition had been history, in a Dream matchup with guys named Jordan, Magic, Bird and the rest of the U.S. team that dominated the Barcelona Games in 1992.

Forget comparisons to those guys. The Americans were lucky to be better than Spain on Sunday.

Rudy Fernandez scored 22 points and Pau Gasol had 21 for the Spanish, the reigning world champions who were hoping to win their first Olympic gold.

U.S. players appreciated the challenge, hugging the Spanish players afterward. Bryant had an especially long embrace for Gasol, patting his Los Angeles Lakers teammate on the back.

“They did what they were supposed to do,” Gasol said. “We fought hard all the way.”

Seeming to appreciate the moment, after congratulating Spain, the team joined in a circle, jumping up and down at center court and waving triumphantly to the crowd as Krzyzewski applauded on the sidelines.

BEIJING - AUGUST 24:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the United States waves to the crowd after the United States defeated Spain 118-107 in the gold medal game during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
BEIJING - AUGUST 24: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski
Getty Images - Aug 24, 6:03 am EDT

“I know that we had a tough road ahead of us. We knew that these guys weren’t going to roll over and give up that easily,” U.S. forward Chris Bosh said. “So we had to be men, and that’s what it takes to win.”

The Americans had won their first seven games by 30.3 points, including a 119-82 rout of Spain. But they never had control of this game, giving up open looks from the perimeter and plenty of points in the paint against the defending world champions, who were playing without injured point guard Jose Calderon.

Bryant, who waited so long to finally wear the red, white and blue, hit two 3-pointers in a big fourth quarter to add the gold medal to his collection of basketball hardware. The three-time NBA champion and league MVP pounded his hands toward the floor in celebration at the end.

James scored 14 points, while Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul had 13 apiece for the Americans, who had won bronze medals in their last two international events, the 2004 Olympics and ‘06 world championships.

The U.S. started planning for this game after the Athens Games four years ago, the low point in its hoops history, following a sixth-place flop two years earlier in the world championships. Jerry Colangelo was given control of USA Basketball and constructed a national team program in 2006, requiring those who wanted to play to commit to three years.

BEIJING - AUGUST 24:  LeBron James #6 Kobe Bryant #10 and Chris Paul #13 of the United States celebrate after defeating Spain 118-107 in the gold medal game during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Getty Images - Aug 24, 6:04 am EDT

He got Bryant and James quickly on board and landed almost everyone else he asked for, finding a group of NBA stars eager to give up their summer to get back what they felt belonged to their country.

And he needed all of them against a Spanish team that on this day would have likely beaten any other recent U.S. squad.

“Being a part of the ‘04 team, we really didn’t get the opportunity to showcase our talent,” said Wade, one of four holdovers from Athens. “We really wanted to come in and help lead this team.”

Jason Kidd ran his record to 56-0 in senior international play and collected another gold to place alongside the one he earned in 2000, becoming the 13th U.S. player with multiple golds.

That elite list, which includes Michael Jordan and seven other Dream Teamers, could grow in 2012. Paul and Dwight Howard said they would be in London if asked, and perhaps half this team could join them.

BEIJING - AUGUST 24:   LeBron James #6 hugs Jason Kidd #5 and Chris Paul #13 of the United States after defeating Spain 118-107 in the gold medal game during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Getty Images - Aug 24, 6:02 am EDT

James ran out for pregame warmups with his finger in the air, already believing the U.S. was No. 1. But even though the Americans were shooting better than 70 percent for most of the first half, it would take a long time to prove it.

James and Bryant were both on the bench after picking up two fouls in the first 31/2 minutes, and though Wade came in and picked up their scoring load, the U.S. reserves couldn’t open their usual cushion.

Spain hit seven of its first nine shots, leading for much of the first quarter. A quick burst of 10 points by James and Wade had the U.S. advantage up to 14 points with 4 minutes left in the half, but Spain chipped away and trailed only 69-61 at the break.

“We faced some incredible teams here,” Bryant said. “We knew coming in that Spain was going to be a big problem.”

Fernandez’s 3-pointer cut it to 91-89 with 8:13 remaining in the game, but Bryant answered with a bucket and then a 3, and things seemed safe when James scored to make it 103-92.

Spain made one last push to close within 108-104 on Carlos Jimenez’s 3-pointer, but Wade hit one on the other end, and the final score became lopsided when the Americans hit a bunch of free throws after the Spanish became frustrated and were called for the technicals.

Team USA finds redemption is golden

BEIJING – The United States was getting its test now, getting it good, and the visionary responsible for the restoration of USA Basketball climbed out of his seat and walked downstairs to the Americans’ bench. All these superstars, all the selflessness and sacrifice and, somehow, this gold medal coronation had transformed into true turmoil.

Spain’s Rudy Fernandez had lobbed a three-pointer, and U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski had called a timeout, and there were eight minutes left in the Olympic tournament. Spain had come all the way back to within two points, and such a sense of uncertainty rushed into the Wukesong Basketball Stadium.

“We couldn’t get away,” Colangelo said later, and deep down he understood that these final minutes promised to be the validation of his vision. No, they couldn’t get away, and this was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to the United States’ mission. They had to coach. They had to persevere.

Whatever everyone had believed, it wouldn’t be enough to just have Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the floor with a gold medal on the line. The U.S. had to have history, a bond, time together to turn five fingers into a fist. This moment of truth collided with the gold medal coronation, and no one was getting out of China – not the director nor the superstars – without the fight of a lifetime.

The world was waiting for the Americans to splinter, to devolve into one-on-one, and it never happened. Kobe Bryant didn’t just take the ball and go at the basket out of the timeout. He dribbled into the lane and passed to Deron Williams for a three-pointer. He wrapped another pass around the Spanish 7-footers to feed Dwight Howard for a dunk and, finally, watched Wade dribble to the rim and fire it back out for Bryant to finish it himself, the beginning of a breathless barrage that’ll go down forever as the passage that returned glory to a disgraced American basketball monolith.

All for one, all for America and Nike.

Across those final minutes, there were Bryant and Wade hitting immense three-pointers off beautiful passes, responses over and over to a spirited Spanish charge. It wasn’t until Wade’s shot with 2½ minutes left that the Americans pushed themselves out of harm’s way, out of the world’s reach. Golden again.

The final minutes of this 118-107 victory blended the best of American ingenuity and European efficiency, a spectacular statement on how the United States adapted, adjusted and restored itself to the top of the basketball world.

“Had we not been together for three years, we might have cracked,” Colangelo said. “Individuals might have gone one-on-one. That would’ve been the tendency. The continuity paid off.”

As it turned out, the United States desperately needed Bryant and Wade and James here. They needed them all, and they needed them to commit to those three years of preparation. They had to learn to play together, to trust, to master the nuances of the international game. The Americans had been so impressive in these Olympics for the way they played defense, but it disappeared in the gold-medal game. Spain’s stars were relentless and responded from a 37-point pounding to the United States in the preliminary round with a performance for the ages.

“They had to work for it,” Spain’s Pau Gasol said.

This wasn’t just good for American basketball, but the world. The standard gets raised again. Spain has a fantastic team returning in 2012, with the world getting an impressive glimpse into its 17-year-old wunderkind, Ricky Rubio. They’ll be better, and Team USA will return with an understanding: This isn’t so easy.

For everything the Dream Team did in 1992 to sell NBA basketball to hundreds of millions around the world, this generation of American superstars had a directive to repackage and resell it.

“Everyone wants to talk about NBA players as arrogant, as selfish,” Bryant said. “What you saw was a team today.”

USA's Kobe Bryant gestures after scoring during their men's basketball gold medal match Spain against The US of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 at the Olympic basketball Arena in Beijing. The US won 118-107. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
USA's Kobe Bryant gestures aft…
Getty Images - Aug 24, 12:28 pm EDT

For eight years, U.S. basketball suffered the embarrassments of two World Championships and the 2004 Olympics. It failed with top players passing on the chance to wear the uniform and unstable coaches like Larry Brown fostering toxic atmospheres. Mostly, they were just teams thrown together, the United States throwing perfect strangers into the Games and praying that somehow their singular talents would carry the day. No more.

For the first time, there wasn’t just relief for winning a gold medal. There was elation. This had been a three-year process for most of the players, and there was such a sense of ownership over this journey. Back on the eve of the Las Vegas training camp in July, Colangelo and Krzyzewski gathered the team for a meeting and gave everyone a chance to say something on the final leg of this journey.

Everyone else had spoken when Bryant finally had his turn.

“We all complain on our teams, that ‘I want to play with this player or that one,’ ” Bryant told his teammates. “Well, here we’ve got them all. This is how it’s supposed to be.

“We don’t have any excuses.”

For this team’s context in history, they needed this test in the gold-medal game, needed to leave the legacy of what happened when times turned tough here, when an American excess of talent couldn’t just bully its way to the podium. When everything was on the line, Colangelo rushed downstairs to get a closer inspection, and all his suspicions played out in perfect harmony.

“A lot of people doubted that NBA stars could play together,” Wade said.

This is the reason that Jerry Colangelo, the architect of it all, watched those final minutes behind the U.S. bench and tears started to well in his eyes. Here was a vision validated, here was the United States where it always believed it belonged: Golden again.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Korea Uses Another Late Rally to Thump Japanese Bullpen, Gets Set for Gold Medal Match-up



In a game that looked oddly similar to last Saturday’s, Korea fell behind Japan early, but then crawled back and exploded in the late innings once the game was tied.

Lee Seung-yeop, in what might be called an act of poetic justice given the year he’s had in Japan, hit a two run HR off Hitoki Iwase (who has been absolutely terrible these Olympics) to put Korea up 4-2. Then, a drop by Takahiko Sato on a fairly routine flyball off the bat of Ko Yeong-min scored Kim Dong-ju to make it 5-2. Kang Min-ho followed with a double to deep center (over the head of a very shallow Norichika Aoki) to put the lead at four runs (box).

It’s an understatement to call this a big win for Korean baseball. To come back and beat Japan twice is a feat for this team and gets what was starting to manifest itself as a pretty big monkey. This is without question the biggest win in the history of Korean baseball.


However, the dramatics of Lee’s HR aside, Kim Kwang-hyun was outstanding and is clearly the team’s money pitcher. Only one of Japan’s runs was earned and Kim struck out six and walked two over eight innings. Yoon Suk-min, normally a starter, has become the team’s closer and retired the side in order in the 9th.

Japan jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead with Tsuyoshi Nishioka scoring after singling and advancing to second on an Lee Seung-yeop error. Nishioka came around again in the 3rd on a Norichika Aoki single. Korea countered in the 4th when Lee Seung-yeop grounded into a double play , which scored Lee Yong-kyu. In the 7th Lee Dae-ho drew a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Jeong Keun-woo. As I said before, I hate this kind of overmanaging, but it paid off for Korea as Jeong ended up scoring on an Lee Jin-yeong single. Dae-ho most definitely wouldn’t have scored on the play.


For Japan the entire Olympic tournament has been a disappointment. Expected to challenge for the gold, the Japanese have been exactly a .500 team. The bullpen, thought to be a strength, has been porus and people have to be questioning the logic in manager Hoshino bringing the bullpen he did when there are several good young arms having solid seasons in the NPB.

Korea will face a tough challenge in Cuba. Cuba will be tough no matter what. But for the moment the team can revel in the fact that it beat its arch rival. The media is going crazy, announcers are openly gushing and two channels are showing highlights on end to end repeat.

Friday, August 22, 2008


"An open letter to the Taliban"

George Petrolekas replies (with more than a few words) to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (aren't all emirates Islamic by definition?):
In response to the Taliban's recent threat-filled 'letter to the Canadian people,' a Canadian officer has a few choice words

George Petrolekas, Citizen Special
Published: Thursday, August 21, 2008

An open letter to the Taliban:

You purport to speak for Afghans and Afghanistan yet your only questionable legitimacy comes from the barrel of a gun, the slaughter and intimidation of innocents supported by the profits of the opium crop that you protect. You do not answer for the night letters you send, the people you behead, or the villages you hold hostage whose only crime is that they do not agree with your views.

And yet you dare say that we come to kill your innocent, equally forgetting the deaths of thousands of innocents committed by your fellow travelers in crime; so conveniently forgetting the slaughters of Bali, Madrid, London and New York City. Your words may sound high and mighty, but your actions and deeds betray the truth of what you are: a movement committed to the enslavement and servitude of those whose voices cannot be heard. You revile America forgetting that it gave you more food, flour and wheat than any other nation while you were in power; what did you do for the Afghan people?

People you have fooled say that Afghanistan was more secure under your rule. But what is security under an institutionalized cabal that "legally" kills, amputates and disfigures those who do not agree with it?

You kill the defenseless, and those who come to give hope, simply because they are foreign, and you do so not as men, but hiding behind the disguise of women, or using women and children as shields, or using those who have lost the ability to think to carry out your crimes. And in doing so, you defile the very words of your God and his prophet. How can the prophet feel peace in the face of your cowardice? You have killed more Afghan men, women and children by your bombs and attacks than any other nations combined. While we may have killed innocents by accident, those deaths pale in comparison to the thousands you have killed by design. God may forgive us the loss of those souls; he will never forgive you.

You condone the poppy, protect it, encourage it, tax it, and sell it. Yet the damage to your own countrymen is not of importance. A country that could once feed itself now cannot, and in the wake of the opium trail there are hundreds of thousands of new addicts in Afghanistan, and greater numbers in Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and all the other republics that border you. Your selfish lust for power does not even respect those of your own religion.

You ignore the voice of the Afghan people as expressed in votes that your own intimidation's could not suppress. The United Nations supervised those elections. They were more closely watched and safeguarded than almost any other elections in history; and people not only voted with their hands on a ballot, but with their feet in traveling miles for the first opportunity afforded them to at least have a voice in their affairs.

You speak of respect in the community of the world and the community of nations, yet it is you who ordained the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. These were not yours to destroy, they were the legacy of humanity and its existence on this planet, but as always, you turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to anything that does not ascribe to your views. You kill doctors, teachers and aid workers, making a mockery of the words "God the merciful and compassionate." Your deeds make you the ultimate apostates, your actions are the ultimate heresy.

And even in the face of such cowardice, lies and betrayal of the Afghan people, the hand of peace has been extended to you time and again with the simple request that you denounce violence and intimidation. But no, that does not serve your needs, which are among the vilest ever seen on this planet: simply to ply a nation back into servitude.

And so, we are in Afghanistan to give voice and protection to those whose voices cannot be heard.

If Afghans truly wish us to leave, we will do so. We are not an occupying power. We have never attempted to impose our religious or political values on your nation. We accept Afghanistan as an Islamic republic. We accept that democracy will not and may never be like the way we practice it and that freedom of speech and religion will not be like ours. But we do assist that vast majority of Afghans who believe that a girl has a right to go to school, that a village, a district, a province and a nation should allow its people to have a voice in their own affairs.

And in the face of your threats, you will also find that we are made of sterner stuff as are the Afghan people who only wish to live lives in some semblance of security. Liberty does not come freely and ours has been a steep price to pay, and that gives us no joy, but we pay that price in the fervent belief that to not do so is to consign a nation and a people to a darker fate at your hands. And thus we will continue until you are no more.

If those Afghan voices tell us that we should leave, then we will. But we will never leave them alone to face the threats and killings that so brutally demonstrate what you are, because you do not and never have spoken for the Afghan people. And with God's help, you never will.

George Petrolekas was involved in the Afghan mission from 2003 to 2007, representing Canada at NATO's operational headquarters in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile Terry Glavin has a few choice words of his own about why we are in Afstan.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Boy: Woof! You sure gotta climb a lot of steps to get to this Capitol Building here in Washington. But I wonder who that sad little scrap of paper is?

I'm just a bill.
Yes, I'm only a bill.
And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill.
Well, it's a long, long journey
To the capital city.
It's a long, long wait
While I'm sitting in committee,
But I know I'll be a law someday
At least I hope and pray that I will,
But today I am still just a bill.

Boy: Gee, Bill, you certainly have a lot of patience and courage.

Bill: Well I got this far. When I started, I wasn't even a bill, I was just an idea. Some folks back home decided they wanted a law passed, so they called their local Congressman and he said, "You're right, there oughta be a law." Then he sat down and wrote me out and introduced me to Congress. And I became a bill, and I'll remain a bill until they decide to make me a law.

I'm just a bill
Yes I'm only a bill,
And I got as far as Capitol Hill.
Well, now I'm stuck in committee
And I'll sit here and wait
While a few key Congressmen discuss and debate
Whether they should let me be a law.
How I hope and pray that they will,
But today I am still just a bill.

Boy: Listen to those congressmen arguing! Is all that discussion and debate about you?

Bill: Yeah, I'm one of the lucky ones. Most bills never even get this far. I hope they decide to report on me favourably, otherwise I may die.

Boy: Die?

Bill: Yeah, die in committee. Oooh, but it looks like I'm gonna live! Now I go to the House of Representatives, and they vote on me.

Boy: If they vote yes, what happens?

Bill: Then I go to the Senate and the whole thing starts all over again.

Boy: Oh no!

Bill: Oh yes!

I'm just a bill
Yes, I'm only a bill
And if they vote for me on Capitol Hill
Well, then I'm off to the White House
Where I'll wait in a line
With a lot of other bills
For the president to sign
And if he signs me, then I'll be a law.
How I hope and pray that he will,
But today I am still just a bill.

Boy: You mean even if the whole Congress says you should be a law, the president can still say no?

Bill: Yes, that's called a veto. If the President vetoes me, I have to go back to Congress and they vote on me again, and by that time you're so old...

Boy: By that time it's very unlikely that you'll become a law. It's not easy to become a law, is it?

Bill: No!

But how I hope and I pray that I will,
But today I am still just a bill.

Congressman: He signed you, Bill! Now you're a law!

Bill: Oh yes!!!

Well the Summer of 2008 is almost over and it was interesting here at Woosong University.

We had a few interns, once again, join us for the summer of fun. We even had one from last year come back and we had one former Woosong Teacher come back (Curt) as he is working on his Doctorate from Penn State.

I took one of the interns, Corey, to the baseball game here in Daejeon with the Hanwha Eagles and he got to pose with the cheerleaders.

He did enjoy his stay in Daejeon and I hope he gets to, one day, become a Principal.

Once again we had students from Okechon. I taught them last year and enjoyed them. This years bunch was younger and a bit more wild. I did not teach any of them and I will always remember one little girl kept looking at me and just staring. She had never seen a tall person before.

I must admit, it was good to see Curt once again. He is a fellow Washington Redskin fan who hates the Dallas Cowboys, as much as I do. So it was good to talk to him and we even manged to see a baseball game with his finance.

I also met Ben, He is Ex-Military also and he likes his new tattoo. He was saying that it was a Korean Bird symbol that is very respected in Korea. I wish him a safe ride home. I also introduced him to the Japanese film, Battle Royale" He sure was not ready for that one. Have a safe trip back to Wright State and good luck with your future plans.

Thank you Interns for making it a very nice Summer 2008 and have a safe trip home.


To Martin It was nice to get to know you with your wine and cheese parties and your outlook on life. I do wish you well with your return back to Scotland and I hope that you get your wish with an independent Scotland in 2010.

To Patricia, It was nice to get to know you and Mike also. I do wish both of you a safe return back home and that you 2 have a good life together in Canada. I do hope that you like all of the Japanese films that I gave you copies of.

Well I did do a very interesting, and different, day trip on 8-9-08 with the 4 above people. Patricia, Jay, Topher and Paula.

They all waned to see the new Batman film in Imax. There was only one small problem. I could only get 5 decent seats at the 0750 am showing. So we had to leave Daejeon by the KTX at 0620 am. I really felt bad about that but everyone was up to it so off we went.

We took the 4 box seat and I took a 1 seater and we were off to Seoul Station. We had very interesting talks for 0620-0720 am on a Saturday. We were all looking forward to seeing the movie. Once we got to Seoul it was a short Subway ride to Yongsan Station and then we were at the CGV Imax.

It was a great film and we all enjoyed it. After the film, me and Pat went to Itewon and Songtang and had fun the entire day.

I was hoping to do a Harry Potter 6 Imax run this Winter but with the film being delayed until July 2009, that's off the books now. We had fun and it was a great day.

I have been living in Korea for over a year now and have been trying to renew my Visa for the last two months, although everytime I go to immigration they tell me I need something new.

Here's what I have:

1. Local CBC done through County Sheffif's office (Actual true document) notarized by a notary public and apolstilled by the State of Florida. (Immigration said it wasn't a good enough document, even though it is an official, notarized, apostillezed document stating I have no criminal record)

2. So then... I got my State Criminal Record Check done through Florida Department of Law Enforcement (Also a true, notarized document) I went to Seoul and visited the Embassy and swore an Affidavit, filled out my form, signed it, and it was stamped that again, I have no criminal record and this document is authentic as stated by me. (Immigration again told me that this document was not good enough, even though it too was notarized and I swore the Affidavit at the Embassy like I was supposed to do)

3. Keep in mind. I have not left the country and have acquired these documents while still living here and have followed the guidelines for renewal to the letter as per expats living and teaching who are unable to return to their home country.


My directors are telling me they want me to go back to Seoul to have my documents verified. I have explained to them that the US Embassy does not provide or authenticate background checks. An Administration of Oath (Affidavit) is what has been prescribed for US Expats overseas.

But I don't understand what else they could possible want. I have provided them MORE than enough official documents. Is my Immigration Office just being stubborn, or do they not know what's going on??

PLEASE! Any Advice!!! This has cost me too much already. Thank you.


I went thought this same insanity in Daejeon and here is what I did and how pissed of I was at them.

When I needed a state background check I went to the Texas state website for background check and I printed out mine and then took the document to the US Embassy and made an official statement and submitted it to the Daejeon Immigration. They refused it and said that it was not real.

I then went to immigration with the exact website information and even let them download a copy of it and they still said that it was not official, but they never would say why. (I re showed them the exact Texas state Govt. website but still it was not official enough)

I asked point blank. Ok what do you want. I was told FBI check.

I went back to my office and downloaded the paperwork from the FB1 website.

fbi link

You can print out and mail the following forms: cover letter,fingerprint form (get ink and you can do it yourself), and a credit card pay form.

I did the prints myself and did 3 Sets of prints and mailed it to

FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306

using the EMS express mail in Korea. it took 4 days to arrive in WV.

Now here is where you have 2 options.

1. take the returned FBI check to the US Embassy and make a sworn statement that this is a real FBI check. It cost 30$ and Daejeon Immigration accepted the statement and since i was already here in Korea all I needed was my psychical and my E-2 was completed.

2. If you leave Daejeon, some other cities might want an apostile on the FBI check, so you now need to do this extra step.

since the FBI check was completed in the state of West Virginia. The state will do a notary and an apostille.

Who can answer questions about certification services?
Call (304) 558-6000 between 8:30 and 5:00 Eastern Time.

I called the above #'s office and I set up what needed to be done and soon the FBI check had an official apostille and now Daejeon immigration has that piece of paper. THE APOSTILLE COST ME 10$.

What pissed me off is that they said that the official State of Texas website was not official enough. SERIOUSLY WTF?

I hope this helps.
Everything I Learned About Life I Learned From Korean TV Dramas...

50 things you can learn from a Korean drama

1) Hot, rich, younger men love fat, older vulgar women.

2) If you have a best guy friend, he is in love with you. And secretly you are too.

3) You and your boyfriend will always playfully chase each other on an ice rink, at the beach, or in the leaves. And you'll laugh for no reason and your boyfriend will hit you "playfully" but the force of his push will have you flying across the room. But it's okay. Cuz you're still laughing like a crazy person.

4) Brothers/cousin/uncles-nephews will always love the same girl.

5) You're allowed to make u-turns wherever you want in Korea. And there is never traffic on the side you want to u turn to.

6) There is a super quick payment device that allows you to pay a bill quickly enough for a guy to run immediately out of a restaurant after his angry girlfriend storms out.

7) Everyone has cancer.

8) If you're sick, all you need is an IV to make you feel lots better.

9) There is vomit and urine all over Seoul at nights.

10) Fighting at a pojangmacha with a random stranger is merely part of a normal night's event.

11) Soju must cost 10 cents. Everyone drinks it everyday all the time, especially the poor people.

12) If you're rich, you're a jerk.

13) If you're poor, you're an angel.

14) Women sleep and wake up with a full set of makeup on.

15) You're not studying hard enough unless you get a nosebleed.

16) If you have a nosebleed, you most definitely have cancer. And you have no money to pay for the surgery that will save your life. And your liver is missing. We're not sure where it went, but it's making your cancer progress faster.

17) If you work in a sool jeep, you have massively curly hair and wear flashy colors from the early 90's.

18) You always order orange juice or coffee at a cafe. And you never drink it. EVER.

19) You will always call your boyfriend by his job title. Or simply sunbaenim. Never his name. Never. He doesn't have one.

20) If you TRULY love each other, you must die together in the end. Frozen outside instead of finding shelter like sane people. Just frozen....

21) You go to America you come back miraculously successful. You go to England you come back amazingly fashionable. You stay in Korea the only thing that changes is your hairstyle.

22) And if you come back with no apparent reason then it's because you have cancer.

23) Everyone always goes to the same hospital no matter where they are.

24) If you stand out in the rain for more than five minutes, you'll end up with a fever and vertigo and people will rush you to the hospital to get some magic IV. And instead of taking an ambulance or driving they'll race you on their back.

25) Even if you're poor and can't eat, you never wear the same clothes twice.

26) If you play a poor kid, you always have dirt on your face and your hair is always messy.

27) If you're saving someone from being hit from a car, you'll push them out of the way and wait for the car to hit you instead.

28) Everyone has a long lost sister/brother/twin. Usually one they didn't know about.

29) If you don't want to answer your phone, you can't just turn it off. The battery
needs to be taken out.

30) All Korean men can drink hard, smoke long, sing well and play piano. Usually all at the same time. And at the same restaurant that has a piano that they let anyone use.

31) If you're in a relationship, you must at one point leave and have your lover tearfully come RIGHT before you board the plane (vice versa applies as well. You can be the chaser). 60% of the time you see each other, the other 40% you're roaming around in circles and pass each other about six times, but miraculously never see them.

32) If you're getting off a plane, you're ALWAYS wearing sunglasses. ALWAYS.

33) All guys wear hideous tracksuits zipped up to their neck. Even if all they're doing is jumping rope.

34) Girls will always storm off because they're mad and the guy will stoically grab them by the arm and swing them back- and by magic, not dislocate their shoulders.

35) Guys always look like they're 6 feet tall, even if they're only 5'10. Thank you camera angles.

36) Guys like to wear foundation, eyeliner and sometimes a smudge of lipliner.

37) You always get stuck in an elevator with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable. Even if there are six different elevators, you'll always be stuck in the same one with that bastard you hate (or just fought with).

38) Unless you're fabulously rich, your in-laws will always hate you.

39) So will your sister-in-law.

40) Your brother-in-law might be pining away for you.

41) There are only 2 ways to kiss. You either press your lips against theirs with your mouth completely shut, and just press away for a very long and uncomfortable time. OR you devour the other person and suck out their soul. In both instances, the world spins.

42) A guy will always get the right size ring, even if you're never held hands.

43) People stare off into space and ponder a lot. They'll just stop in the middle of the road and watch a leaf on a tree for a good three minutes, and just ponder.

44) You'll get pregnant the first time you have sex.

45) You'll get pregnant if he kisses you on the forehead.

46) Hell- you'll get pregnant if you hold hands.

47) If you overcome great obstacles to be together, one of you must die. Probably due to cancer.

48) One Korean man can kick the butts of 6 gangstas. Especially when they all stand in a circle and attack the guy one by one. Then when each of them get their butts OWNED, they wise up and attack the guy at the same time. Then the guy will get pulverized and bleed out onto the dusty concrete floor of the empty warehouse they've found to fight in. There will be a fire in a trashcan somewhere. And the girl will have watched this the entire time, screaming in horror. Instead of calling 119, she'll just watch and cry. But it's okay. Cuz the next day the guy will be fine with a few random bandages and a few face scars. But never a black eye.

49) It ain't a real fight unless the gangstas fight dirty with a stick or switchblade.

50) If you study in the states (preferably Harvard), you are one of the top students and can speak perfect English (as assumed by the reactions of those around you). Why the rest of the world OUTSIDE of the TV can't understand a single word uttered out of your melodramatic mouth is beyond me.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Well, to be honest, I still am not sure if I have seen this film. As of the writing of this review, I have seen the film three times now and I am still not sure I have seen all that the film has to offer.

When I was a child, I used to collect comic books and I always had one favorite hero, The Batman. I had no idea why I liked him. Maybe it was his dark outfit, maybe it was him trying to save Gotham City from the bad guys. I have no idea to this day why I selected him as my favorite. All of my other childhood friends were into Superman. I like him but to me he was just to good to be true. After awhile, I quit reading the books and moved onto baseball cards.

I forgot all about Batman until I heard about a story called The Dark Knight Returns and rediscovered Batman as a dark hero that the world deserved and have not left the Batman world since.

So who is the man that we call "Batman"? To me he is a Ronin because he has always blamed himself for his parents death as a child. In the new batman film, he looses another one close to him and it looks to make him more of a "Ronin."

So with all of this in my mind, I went to see my childhood hero, "Batman's" latest film, The Dark Knight . I had only one thought after I saw it at the IMAX, "My God, They have finally gotten my hero right."


If you are going to show a hero, you must also show the villain. Batman's main villain is The Joker and he is shown the way that the Joker was meant to be played by the late, Heath Ledger.

Alfred states the best description of "The Joker" and he makes this comment. "You crossed the line first, sir. You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation they turned to a man they didn't fully understand." ......."Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn." Mr. Ledger's acting makes you think that all he wants to do is to watch the world burn while he laughs at the result.

I think that the Academy Award Oscar should just be given to the estate of Mr. Ledger for his performance as the Joker.

Near the end of the film "The Joker" makes A statement that shows that him and Batman are the same..

The Joker: You just couldn't let me go could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible aren't you? You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won't kill you, because you're just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.
Batman: You'll be in a padded cell forever.
The Joker: Maybe we can share one. They'll be doubling up, the rate this city's inhabitants are losing their minds.

This led to the major question that I had about the next film. Do they recast the Joker or do they try and find another villain? The Joker was supposed to be in the third film and with the death of Mr. Ledger would you want to even try and make another one? How can you top this battle between good and evil between the Joker and Batman?

Now for what I liked about the film...

The voices of sanity for Batman, Alfred Pennyworth: (Michael Caine) and Lucius Fox: (Morgan Freeman) These two fine actors show why they are great actors and give the film a voice of logic in insane times.

The role of Harvey Dent: (Played by Aaron Eckhart) In this role, he gave Batman hope that he could be the white knight face that Gotham needed. He could be the hero and save Gotham from crime. When you see it all go wrong for Dent, Eckhart's acting makes you see that he has fallen and the white knight is no more.

I loved this role, I actually believed that he had made a deal with the devil to get revenge and in the end it cost his life and almost his dream of hero for Gotham.

The role of James Gordon (Played by Gary Oldman) tells us, the movie viewer, what the city of Gotham needs.

Lt. James Gordon: Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now...and so we'll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector...a dark knight.

In this film, he becomes the police commissioner. He also knows that he must also play a two-face role with Batman. In private he must hunt Batman for his fake crimes and he knows that he will need him to save the city from itself.

Now for the one thing in the film that I really hated, was the role of Rachel Dawes: (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal).

This character was never in the comic book and was made for this series of the movie. She was supposed to be a love interest for Bruce Wayne. Instead, when she dies in this film, she becomes another reason for Batman's "Ronin" outlook. He has now lost his parents and the only woman that he has ever loved. I thought her acting was very bad and she slowed the pace of the film in every shot that she was in.

At the time of this writing, the film has made over 440 million in the US Market and is within striking range of the 600 million $ that "Titanic" made in the 90's.

I have written words of praise for this film in order to try and convince you to see this film. I honesty do not if the words I have written have done this film any justice. All I can ask is that you take your time and please see this film. It is worth your time and your $. We are given a hero that we deserve, as a world. We are not given a hero that we need. I think this is why the film has done so well in the USA. He is what we need as a nation, a dark knight.

Grade A+

The Chechen: What do you propose?
The Joker: It's simple, we, uh, kill the Batman.
[mobsters laugh]
Salvatore Maroni: If it’s so simple, why haven't you done it already?
The Joker: If you're good at something, never do it for free.

How I saw it. CGV IMAX

Opened in South Korea on 6 August 2008

Opening weekend in USA. $158,411,483 (USA) (20 July 2008) (4,366 Screens)


I should have really liked this moved. I have a great collection of Pixar films and I am usually their on the first day to see their latest films.I really should have liked this movie. Sad thing is though, I did not, For the first time, I actually hated a Pixar film. WALL·E is a miss and a huge mess of a film.

What would happen if Wal-Mart took over the world? What else would happen to the planet if Wal-Mart killed all of the trees on the planet? Would you believe a robot would save all of the humans? If you can actually follow this inane plot, then you might actually like this film. To me it just did not work.

When you do see the "love" in this film, I kept thinking, "You have got to be kidding me." This is the basis of this film? To me it just never worked. Whatever magic they had in their prior films, just fails to resonate here with me.

The only two times I was actually happy with this film was the small cartoon, "Presto", at the beginning of the film and the end of this film. I could not believe that the film was about robots in love and that Wal-Mart is evil and will destroy the planet.

Please pass on Wall.E.

Grade. D-

Captain: This is called farming! You kids are gonna grow all sorts of things! Vegetable plants, pizza plants... it's good to be home

How I saw it. CGV Theater.

Opened in Korea. 6 August 2008

Opening Week in the USA. $63,087,526 (USA) (29 June 2008) (3,992 Screens)

Sunday, August 10, 2008


“Crossing” This Year’s Korean Submission to Oscars

I was just thinking the other day that Korea doesn’t seem to understand what Oscar voters want in the Best Foreign Picture category, even nominating “Welcome to Dongmakgol” without realizing that a movie that climaxes with a “joint North-South Korean commando force” heroically shooting down US planes, with US soldiers inside, is going to go over like a ton of bricks with an American audience.

That’s why I’m pleased to see that this year’s selection is “Crossing”, which, all of its strong points aside, is precisely the sort of tearjerker the Oscar voters tend to splooge their pants over. If you haven’t heard about it you might want to check out this preview from the Chosun Ilbo.

The Korean Film Council (영화진흥위원회) has selected director Kim Tae-gyu’s “Crossing” as its submission to the Best Foreign Picture category at the 81st Academy Awards to be held in the United States next February.

The selection committee announced that, “Crossing was selected because it treats human rights issues related to North Korean refugees, has a high chance of distribution and commercial success in the United States and will appeal to the Academy voters.”

The Academy accepts one film submission per country, and five films had vied for the nomination: “Crossing”, “The Good, The Bad, and The Weird”, 님은 먼곳에, “Forever the Moment”, and “The Chaser”.

Further note: When submitting films to Oscar voters, don’t even waste time considering titles with poor English, like “Forever the Moment”.

my review of the crossing

Thursday, August 07, 2008

New Elements in Old Protest Culture
» by USinKorea

I started to leave this as a comment on one of Kalani’s posts when I decided it might be better done as a post of its own. It meanders - so sorry about that…

The posts theme is: The K-blogsphere is one of the newest and freshest elements in South Korean protest culture.

Some of us will remember back to the 2002 days — to the time before December when the US media finally got a freakin clue and began covering the story.

This was a time before blogs had taken off on the internet. I’m not sure if there were any “blogs” at all back then.

I can remember Gerry Bevers set up one of the first K-sites — a “forum” at a Microsoft forum site. I can’t remember the actual place and a very quick google didn’t turn it up and my memory is failing to recall the name….

….but at the very same time, I had set up a forum at Yahoo and for the same reason: desperation to have ANY chance of getting information about what the hell was going on in Korea out to an American (and international) audience.

(note: I have again started using images like the one above (that one from 2002) because it has become clear - again - that the anti-US groups are successfully using kids as a main element in Korean protest culture. Thankfully, there is somewhat of a backlash against this within Korean society itself)

I remember — several of the people who would become regular K-blogs and commenters used these early forums to encourage each other to send links and emails to US media outlets trying to get them to pay attention.

As things got more and more out of control - the effort to reach people grew.

Eventually, it became obvious the US media didn’t care and the effort shifted to providing an alternative source - even if such an effort was pretty much futile.

That is when websites began popping up as an alternative to the Forums. Geocities was one of the main providers some individuals started to turn to. Web-design then was not nearly as user friendly as it is today, and bandwidth and storage space was very limited. The design programs were clunky and awkward, and I can remember that led some K-web people to start learning HTML and other codes.

Dave’s ESL Cafe was also an already established outlet - mainly for the ESL crowd.

Blogs weren’t available much until well after the 2002-early 2003 massive spike in anti-US activity had died down.

But, since then, the K-blogsphere has become arguably the biggest new element in South Korea’s anti-US culture. It has fundamentally altered the playing field — not completely by any stretch of the imagination - but it has altered it significantly.

The anti-US groups were way, way ahead of the curve in taking advantage of new elements on the internet. Sites like were cutting edge by using new avenues to promote their message before those avenues were even really known out in the world wide web.

The “progressives” like those running The Voice were using images and online articles and then especially videos well before even large commercial sites like CNN and the likes were doing so and before the likes of MBC or KBS - which have been years ahead of US media outlets in getting their stuff online.

And these “progressive” sites in Korea mushroomed quickly.

They became a significant recruitment tool - one of the primary recruitment tools - for the progressives - like the anti-US movement in Korean society.

For a year or two, they held the field un-opposed.

But, as blogging grew, the K-blogsphere mushroomed about as quickly, and the field has thankfully become contested - primarily for non-Koreans, but somewhat increasingly among Koreans too. (The language barrier is the main blocking point there)

K-bloggers have lacked unity and coordination — something that has long given the “progressives” in Korea strength and staying power — but sites like Marmot’s Hole, One Free Korea’s, GI Korea’s, Dave’s ESL Cafe, Kalani’s site and many, many more —- have —– created a large enough presence on the internet that — an alternative analysis of what goes on in Korea is now available to anyone who goes to Google to look for information.

That is huge.

(note - Thank Big Hominid for the images. Also, there are many, many K-blogs and sites that deserve mentioning. You can find them on the blogrolls of sites like GI Koreas. I limited this post to mentioning a few that have been around since near the beginning, post daily, focus most of their attention on political/social issues related to South Korea, get a significant amount of daily hits, and are still up-n-running. Recently, sadly enough, a number of the old timers have moved on - like Lost Nomad and temporarily Big Hominid himself)

I don’t know if you can emphasize that enough.

Before 2002, there were hardly ever ANY notes in the Western press about Korean anti-US attitudes or the protest culture. It had not been a phenomenon on the world media horizen since the 1988 Olympic riots.

And the few notes you got here and there on this aspect of Korean society were almost always the same — they summed it up in the mantra “But, the vast majority of Koreans don’t want US forces to leave.”

Those who the press turned to seemed to have some need to downplay the reality. This included leaders in the US Embassy, State Department, USFK, Defense Department, and also scholars on Korea. I can understand why the US government figures tried to limit a possible backlash by downplaying Korea’s anti-US culture, but it isn’t so understandable among the scholars — but you even see this tendency among K-bloggers at times:

I’ll go into a brief tangent here about that to provide an example:

When this extremely vile video was produced and taken up by the Korea Teachers Union for possible use in classroom lessons about APEC and globalization — and the evil Uncle Sam Bully — the well-established K-blogsphere - hardly touched it at all.

Other much more minor events had led to widespread coverage across the K-blogs for as much as a week or two - with wild free-for-alls in the comment sections —-

—– but for some reason God only knows —- one of the most disgusting, vile, dispicable products to ever come out of the anti-US “progressive” movement — did not make a dent on the K-blogs.

Eventually, this pissed me off about as much as the video itself. In fact, the bleeping Korean media spent more time on the video and the KTU than the expat community!!!

Why is still somewhat of a mystery —- but I believe it goes back to a tendency well established among scholars of Korea that — they have earned the right to complain about this or that in Korean society - because they have spent years getting to know Korean society — and if they were to focus serious attention on anti-US culture - people who know nothing else about Korea will put too much emphasis on the anti-US activity — and start to unjustly hate Korea —- so - that must be avoided - by not taking anti-US culture seriously.

Thankfully, the vile KTU video is about the only major example I’ve seen of this tendency in the K-blogsphere….were anti-US culture is one of the most frequent topics of conversation….

Anyway, back to the main theme of this post:

In 2002, the first thing the US media reported, and the only thing they reported pretty much, was the mantra, “But the vast majority of Koreans don’t want US troops to leave.”

For some of us in Korea at the time, experiencing the orgy of anger — it was enough to make you go apolectic.

In fact, again, I can remember clearly that it was the utter frustration with the lack of coverage and getting the initial coverage so wrong — that led to first efforts to create what eventually became the K-blogpshere.

Now, the K-blogsphere has grown into a legitimate influencial alternative source.

Blogging took off as a world-wide phenomenon - having your own web domain became free or cheap with a wide range of easier and easier to use web design programs - and most recently - popular sites like You Tube have added a whole new multi-media dimention.

Again, the progressive groups in Korea were WELL-AHEAD of the curve in using video and audio to get their message out.

And for several years, it wasn’t cost effective or widely available to get a counter-message out.

The videos I used to take off of Voice of People’s site and add simple edits for a non-Korean audience were somewhat difficult to find a home for early on in the 2002-2003 period.

Over the years, as Yahoo and other services began upgrading bandwidth usage and storage space, and costs dropped, it became easier to follow the Korean progressive’s lead.

Now, with the phenomenal growth in You Tube, it might have become too easy:

Like the Korean-American in the US who took videos off the progressive sites and re-edited them with scenes from 2007 protests where police used water cannons - to create a fake online “report” on You Tube saying the Korean police used violent means on middle and high school protesters.

Early in the current protest cycle, I started to use You Tube to gather material for an eventual review of Cows Gone Wild!! Hysteria — but I quickly gave up, because it was just too time consuming to try to weed out the crap and locate useful items.

And that is still one area in which the “progressives” in Korea have a major edge: they do this as a profession.

K-bloggers do it as a hobby.

People like GI Korea and One Free Korea and Kalani should be given some big kudos for being able to put together lengthy, quality posts as they routinely do - and have been doing for several years.

Sites like Voice of People and other mainstays in the Korean “progressive” web-sphere — are run by professionals - whose career is getting their message out to the Korean people. That is one reason they are so successful at it. They have a paid staff as well as a very eager cadre of woefully misguided Korean college students and 20-somethings.

They also have ample funding.

They clearly have the advantage.

But, that makes the growth in the K-blogsphere more important or news worthy.

Because, the popular K-blogs (and other websites created by many of these same people) —- and I also want to emphasize the impact regular commenters make —- HAVE created an alternative source for information about Korea’s “progressive” movement and anti-US culture.

They have created a very real and important source of information.

A source for information that was not available prior to 2003.

Now, when American or other foreign reporters sitting in their home countries decide to check out events in Korea — they do not have to satisfy themselves with only the line the US Embassy or USFK leadership or US government leaders give them:

which is still the same old tired mantra: The vast majority of Koreans don’t want US troops to leave

I can remember back to when the US media first started paying attention to events in Korea around Novemeber and December of 2002 - when protests were reaching well over 100,000 participants night after night. — Several eventual K-bloggers, like myself and Bevers, got emails from reporters wanting to know what was happening.

(It was kinda stupid — because the news orgs I got emails from were some of the very same ones I had been sending almost daily quotes and links from English-language media sources in Korea. If they had been doing anything beyond deleting those emails — they would have had a pile of source material detailing what was going on already)…

I can remember one of them seemed somewhat frantic - as if her editor was putting heat on her to get a quality story out — because after the New York Times ran a couple of pieces the US media suddenly decided events in Korea might be important — and they all piled on - as is typical of the US and World Media — but so few people in the media knew anything about Korea, they were at a loss for a time how to go about covering the story.

——That will not happen again. (At least it shouldn’t) —

—-because the K-blogsphere and related sites have carved out a significant space on the internet.

Sites like GI Koreas, Marmot’s Hole, and others get thousands of hits a day.

When things like Cows Gone Wild!! Hysteria break out in the future —-

—– people unfamiliar with Korea — will find very long term expats like Kalani offering their informed opinion about what it all means.

They will also get the chance to see different knowledgable expats discuss/argue with each other about what it all means. — offering a diverse range of opinions which adds credibility to the K-blogs.

And lastly, the K-blogsphere has been noticed within Korean society.

Koreans, sometimes influencial Koreans, like members of the big time Korean press, check out some of the popular K-blogs from time to time to see how the expat community is reacting to events in Korea.

And these people know others around the world might run across the same pages. — And that can help influence Korean protest culture —- because one thing Korean society is petrified of is — bad international press.

(In fact, the use of “candlelight vigils” was a direct result of Korean society worrying about how much information was leaking out of the country concerning Korea’s protest culture back in 2002)

In the past, it could only take one or two negative articles in the New York Times to kill a spike in anti-US activity in Korea. Some might remember that that is exactly how the first major spike in anger died in 2002:

After the World Cup left Korean soil, Korean society, led by the mainstreammedia, (MBC being one of the worst) quickly whipped itself into a frenzy over the death of the two middle school girls they had ignored for a couple of weeks. (Much fewer people, even in the K-blogsphere, remember that anti-US activity had been significant going back into 2001 and President Bush’s Axis of Evil speech).

Things got so bad, three GIs were attacked on the subway by protesters and one was kidnapped and forced to participate in a massive on-campus hate-fest.

Before that, while still on the subway, the whole thing kicked off when one of the middle aged protest leaders punched that same GI in the face.

For about half a day the next day, the Korean press did as you would expect —- cried how the GIs who beat the poor old man should be held to Korean justice and USFK should apologize and oh what a further example the event was to prove yet again how much disdain the US in Korea has for Koreans.

The images is from Korea’s version of the perp-walk — when the 3 GIs were detained by the police and questioned pending likely charges being filed against them.

Then — the New York Times wrote one article about the event - and did not paint the abduction of the Gi in quiet the same light.

The Stars and Stripes went much further — it posted the web address of a video showing the mob chasing two of the soldiers through the streets and also had quotes from the kidnapped GI’s mother, who had just finished watching the video online — and had quotes from USFK leaders expressing, albeit in somewhat diplomatic speak - just how pissed off USFK was about what happened.

—- And with that very limited coverage of events in Korea — with that one solitary article in the New York Times (and a similar one the same day in the LA Times) - Korean society instantly knew it was time to shut up - and the large protests disappeared — within 24 hours. So did the press drum beating of anti-US sentiment over the tank accident. It simply vanished overnight….

It didn’t start back for about two months - once Korea saw the US media was not going to follow up on anything - and it mushroomed into the orgy of anger and hate so many of us remember from the end of 2002….

Now, with the growth of the K-blogsphere, important elements of Korean society, and more average Koreans, are beginning to understand that — it isn’t just the NY Times they have to be concerned about anymore….

That will likely have at least a minor impact on Korea protest culture.

It as already definately had a significant impact on the level of attention the world community can have on Korea’s protest culture.

In short, the word is getting out ——- finally…..