Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mike McStay

Woori Bank
Account Name: McStay, Flynn M.
Account Number: 1002-929-503133
Swife Code: HVBKKRSE

Well everyone, in less than 12 hours, its game on.

This is the last push for donation to help. you can send $$ to this account of Woosong at WLI, their is a box that you can contribute to also..

I have made a down payment of 3.5 milion won and will need about 1.5 and up more, so every bit helps.

lets beat this darn cancer.

Please pray for me tomorrow

Mike McStay

Saturday, July 11, 2009

well, i just had the briefing by the doctor...

Surgery will be 0800 hrs 13 Aug 2009 appx 4-5 hours long.

no food nor water until 16-17th....

7-10 days after surgery to be released.

please on monday pray for me.

room is 1115 on the 11th floor..

Friday, July 10, 2009

Well I am at the Hospital now.

I am in roon 1115 on the 1th floor....

visiting hours are 1200-1400 and 1800-2000

they ask no kids or too many people.

Now I do not know what time the surgery will be on the 13th, when I know I will blog/facebook it.

Now have fun this weekend, take off your pants and slide in the mud and next week I want to hear every sick, twisted, perveted story you have. Heck If you ain't got one make up one.

Please pray for me on the 13th

Well today is the day that I start the road to recovering from this Level 2 Cancer. At 4pm today (KST) I will be admitted to Eulji University Hospital in dusan-dong Daejeon South Korea.

As I have told many of you, either I beat this darn thing or I am going home to God.

The surgery is scheduled for Monday 13th 2009. i do not have a room # nor time for the surgery. When I know I will try and facebook the info or ask someone else to do it.

Soju, my dog, is being looked after. I wish that she could come to the hospital with me but a 17 kg jindo might scare everyone.

Please pray for me and check for updates on this blog and of facebook..

Mike McStay
A simple Baseball game helps a fan to forget cancer, if only for a few hours.

By Mike McStay

There are times in life when we need a lift. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and we are left wondering why. But, sometimes a simple game of baseball can help people to forget their problems and to, just for a minute, return to being normal. I saw a classic example of this on 7-7-2009 in Daejeon, South Korea at a Korea Baseball Organization game.

One of the fans of the Hanwha Eagles has cancer. His surgery will be soon and that day he made out his will and he made a video saying goodbye to everyone. He just wanted to go somewhere and forget the day that he had just had. This fan saw, last year’s member of the Hanwha Eagles, Doug Clark, who now pays Left Field for the Seoul Heroes. He knew him and he went to talk to his hero "Superman." (Clark Kent= Doug Clark+ Massive power Home Runs= Korean fans nickname "Superman)

He told Mr. Clark, to please hit 5 home runs for him that day. He reminded him about the sick kids with cancer stories that we have all seen in various media. How an athlete will hit a HR for a kid. The fan sated that the 5 HR's in one game would be unforgettable. They both laughed at it and the player went into the field for batting practice and the fan went to the box office to get him a good seat for the game.

The fan reminded himself that 5 HR's in a game is very rare but still it would be nice to see it actually happen. For awhile, the fan looked at the baseball field and he smiled. His mind was healthy and he forgot about the cancer. He forgot about trying to raise funds for the surgery, he forgot about all of the problems that the last few months has brought him. He just was smiling because he was alive again and able to enjoy the simple pleasures of the game of baseball.

Mr. Clark was the first batter up on the top of the first and when the count went to 2-2, the fan was thinking, OK "Superman, now hit one for me", and with the next pitch Clark hit a HR and the fan could not believe it. Could he really get 5 HR's in one game?

His next 2 at bats were a walk and the pitcher hit him with the ball. So after 3 innings he was still 1-1 with a HR.

It was the top of the 5th when Clark came to bat next. But, this time it was different, this time there were 2 runners on base and the Eagles had brought in a new pitcher to face "Superman". Once again, it did not matter. After it went to a 1-1 count; Clark hit a 3 Run HR. The fan cannot believe what he has seen for far. His Hero is now officially 2-2 with 2 HR's and 4 RBI's. Could he actually get to 5 HR's in a game?

Clark's next at bat was the top of the 7th and sad to say, he grounded out. So he is still 2-3. When he was due for his next at bat on the top of the 9th the Heroes manager replaced him with his back up. He finished this night 2-3 with 2HR's, 1 walk, 1 hit by a pitch, 3 runs and 1 stolen base.

After the game was over, the fan waited for Clark to take off on the Heroes' bus. When they met, they both had huge smiles on their faces. The fan, because his hero had hit 2 nice Home Runs and because Clark, had a great game and his team won 12-10. They shook hands and as the fan was leaving Clark stated, “That I owe you 3 more Home Runs!"

I have head over the years that baseball is just a game, that is doesn't mean anything. Tonight's game wasn't a major event in the world. It was played between the 5th place Heroes and the 8th place Eagles. But it sure meant a lot to the fan that was just for a few moments able to feel a ballpark come alive with the sounds of the fans cheering on their team. He forgot about Cancer, money and death and focused on just having fun at a ballgame.

If you can remember after September 11th, the firefighters, police and rescue workers used the Mets and the Yankees as a valve just trying to regain some sanity when their world were altered by the events of that day. Baseball helped these people to feel normal. We get so busy that sometimes we forget that a simple game played with 9 men can make you feel alive. I hope that this fan beats his cancer and can return, soon to the small park in Daejeon Korea, where his favorite Korean baseball team, the Eagles, and the fan himself, call home.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Continuing the countdown of the Top 10 Korean Movies of all time, we present the Top 5. Check out which of your favorite films have made it on the list. You may be surprised….

Without further ado….

The Chaser 1

5) The Chaser

Director:Na Hong-jin
Writer: Hong Won-chan, Lee Shinho, Na Hong-jin
Genre: Crime, thriller, drama
Release Date: February 2008

One night, a man in his car makes a routine call to one of his girls…
But she doesn’t pick up…

Jung-ho knows something is going on. As a former police detective now turned pimp, his instinctual “cop radar” has gone off. Another one of his call girls from his “pleasure business” has gone missing and the numbers continue to decrease. Nearly penniless after paying these missing girls’ debts, Jung-ho realizes something has to be done; he’s got to get his money after all. He flips open his cell phone and notices the recent disappearances originated from client number 4885’s home. Min-jee, a mother and soon to be victim, is called to work. He instructs her to call him back once she arrives at the address. But it’s getting late in the night and when Jung-ho does not get a call back, he’s convinced he knows who’s behind the kidnappings and that Min-jee’s life is in grave danger: thus begins The Chase.
The unique twist on this crime thriller is that the viewers not only see what the protagonist – Jung-ho – does, but also what the villain does as well. But where’s the fun in seeing everything? While the movie lays everything out for the audience to see, the characters do not have the same privilege. What will Jung-ho do? Will he solve what we – the audience – already know? The viewer hinges on his every decision and empathize with Jung-ho from the get go.
At first, Jung-ho believes that this client 4885 is a rival pimp, stealing his call girls from his business. Nervously waiting for Min-Jee to come out, he camps outside the suspect’s house in his car, hoping that she turned down client 4885’s offer to become his call girl. But as the audience soon finds out, Yeong-min is not in the pleasure business; he’s a pure sadistic killer and Min-jee is soon to be the next victim.

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As client 4885 abducts Jung-ho’s ladies one by one, the audience learns the shocking torture that is occurring. The ladies are thrown into a spacious bathroom, bound and chained by the hands and feet, and gagged with a bandage. Then, using a hammer and chisel, client 4885 slowly tortures his female victims by chiseling their heads until enough blood spills their eventual death. Min-jee is also subject to this disgusting act, as the sides and top of her once beautiful face is ripped with bloody gashes and deep scars. As she soon passes out, it seemed that this client claimed another of Jung-ho’s girls. Will Jung-ho solve what’s going on? Can he stop this sick pervert this time?
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Jung-ho, still waiting outside the gated house, now suffers the same premonition as when his other girl disappeared the other night. As he polices the local neighborhood in his car, he damages another car from the side. Calm and collected, he goes to the other car and tells the other driver he will pay for their car damages. The driver rolls down his tinted window and is revealed to be a young male. He insists that he doesn’t require reprimands and impatiently waits for the blocking traffic to clear before driving off. Yet, when Jung-ho notices blood on the driver’s shirt, he suspects something wrong and calls client 4885, but the heist is up; the driver’s phone rings. As the suspect escapes through the side door, Jung-ho runs after him and The Chase is on.
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After an intense chase scene, Jung-ho catches up to him and proceeds to pummel, kick, and stomp the suspect into bloody submission. Grabbing his ID, he finally discovers the suspect’s name: Je Yeong-min. Bringing Yeong-min in the police station, he soon realizes what the audience already knows: Yeong-min is not some rival pimp stealing his ladies, but a cold blooded killer. Now he suddenly asks himself, is Min-jee still alive?

First-time director Na Hong-jin’s 2008 hit is similar to “Memories of Murder”; it’s a crime thriller based on a true story. However, unlike most films of the genre where the killer is revealed in the final showdown, Na turns the genre on its head and presents the murderer within the first 20 minutes. But what’s the point of a crime movie if the killer is already found? If only it were that simple. Jung-ho has the cards stacked against him: Yeong-min is a psychopath, the police investigators reek of corruption, and there is no evidence. If Jung-ho cannot prove in 12 hours that Yeong-min was involved in the killings, he will be set free.

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Na also takes a different approach in creating his film, where the suspense, action, and evidence gathering takes a back seat to the protagonist’s own development. Make no mistake, Kim Yuk-seok’s fantastic portrayal as the lead character, Jung-ho, is the focal point of this suspense thriller. In the beginning of the film, Jung-ho is shown as a bastard. Unsympathetic, heartless, and greedy, Jung-ho shows no remorse for his call girls’ well-being. After all, he was generous enough to clear every girl’s past debt in exchange for their “services” to clients. The bottom line is profit. Being sick for days, feeling scared of creepy customers, and spending time with their kids are all needless excuses – meaningless reasons that do not pay him, put food on the table, or clear the girls’ debts.
The Chaser 6
As the movie progresses, he slowly realizes he is greatly responsible for his own reputation and own deteriorating business. When one of his girls is threatened to be raped by two clients, Jung-ho comes in and roughs them up. But he doesn’t protect the girl for her well-being; he sees it as protecting his business assets. She sees Jung-ho for what he is – a greedy money-grubber—and finally leaves his harem. Many of his former cop co-workers now look at him in disdain, as a good cop turned into a shady man. Even Min-jee, sick and tired from balancing a motherly role to her daughter and as a call girl, sees his boss as nothing but “filth”. This begs the question, how did Jung-ho become like this? Wasn’t he a servant of justice before?

As described in the first couple paragraphs above, The Chaser will suck the viewer in from the start. It is a non-stop adventure of suspense, action, problem solving, and emotion. While “Memories of Murder” laid out an incredible murder story and calmly created a slow build up for the grand ending, “The Chaser” presents many obstacles from the get-go and never lets up. Jung-ho’s transformation from being slightly better than the killer to actually caring about the lives of others and serving justice is amazing. The acting that Ha Jung-woo portrays as the psychopathic killer, Yeong-min, is dead on, giving the audience a glimpse into a serial murder’s thought process. It’s a performance that you can’t help but love to hate.

Following the recent trend of other successful Korean movies, “The Chaser” will be getting remade on U.S. shores. This is faster than usual – even for Hollywood – as the film was only released last year in 2008. Warner Bros recently bought the rights and William Monahan – who had a hand with Martin Scorsese in remaking “The Departed”, based on Hong Kong’s “Infernal Affairs” – is the potential favorite to be heading the script. Let’s hope a remake of “The Chaser” captures the spirit of Na’s original vision.

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Welcome to Dongmakgol 1

4)Welcome to Dongmakgol

Director: Park Kwang-hyun
Writer: Kim Joong, Park Kwang-hyun
Based on: Jang Jin (play)
Genre: Drama, War, Comedy
Release Date: August 2005

(I REALLY HATED THIS BULL SHIT FILM...................)))

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A Tale of Two Sisters 1

3) A Tale of Two Sisters

Director:Kim Ji-woon
Writer: Kim Ji-woon
Based on: Janghwa, Hongryeon (folktale)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Drama, Psychological
Release Date: June 2003

“There’s something strange in this house.”

“There’s a girl under the kitchen sink!”

“You know what’s really scary? You want to forget something. Totally wipe it off your mind. But you never can.”

A loud noise is heard from the 1st floor. Footsteps scatter around the house at night. Strange noises haunt this home during the dark hours. A woman stares at a channel-less TV alone at night. Not a very welcoming home, is it? But what could be causing these strange occurrences? As the audience watches further, nothing seems to make sense. The clues are difficult to decipher, the events do not connect, and the flashbacks are seemingly random.

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For an avid horror aficionado, this confusing storyline has been used time and time again. Nothing says cliché quite like a long haired, female ghost with greasy hair, a creepy sound, and a “Kayako” Grudge. Sadako from “The Ring” would be rolling in her TV screen if it wasn’t for one fact: “A Tale of Two Sisters” deviates from the normal rungs of Asian horror. Say goodbye to a predictable story and cheap thrills and hello to one of the deepest, complex, intriguing horror movies in years.
But first, let’s go over what A Tale of Two Sisters has in common with the usual prerequisites to be an Asian horror film:

1) Creepy environment – Check
2) Story of revenge – Check
3) Scary scenes – Check
4) Blood – Check
5) Dark female ghost(s) with long hair – Check
6) The lead character thinks, “time to investigate” when alone – Check
7) Two girls having a period in the same day – Ummm… Check?
.8) Two females screaming at each other for half of the movie – Errr… Check.
9) A bloody hand coming from underneath a woman’s skirt – Okay, this is just now weird… Check!

The first six are universally in every Asian horror film with varying degrees of success. However, the last three – 7 through 9 – sound like they would belong more in a kinky college movie dealing with “naughty” gestures, such as the US series, “American Pie”, or the Korean collection, “Sex is Zero”. While the film shares common traits with its horror brethren – 1 through 6 – the similarities quickly end there.

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Inspired by the Joseon Dynasty (1392 AD –1910 AD) folktale, “Janghwa Hongryeon” (rose flower, red lotus), “A Tale of Two Sisters” is the 6th iteration of this popular Korean story. As a modern take of the popular tale, the first scene of the film begins one afternoon in a hospital. The tale begins with a young female patient, Su-mi, as she is slowly ushered into a spacious white room by a hospital lady. Stooping down in a chair with her hair completely masking her face, a nearby doctor sits down across from her asks a series of questions. Yet, Su-mi does not say a word.

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Later in the day, she and her younger sister, Su-yeon, are released from the hospital and welcomed back to their family’s lakeside house in the peaceful countryside. When the sisters step inside the Victorian-esque home, they are soon treated by their energetic stepmother, Eun-joo. Noticing the two are tightly holding hands and protective, Eun-joo attempts to “break the tension” with her friendly smile and quirky banter. Neither sister wants anything to do with this woman—the woman who recently replaced their beloved mom—and quickly move for the stairs. Eun-joo’s attempts at a friendly conversation amounts to nothing as the sisters climb the stairs with their backs turned against her. Again, Su-mi does not say a word.

A Tale of Two Sisters 13

As Su-mi and Su-yeon start re-familiarizing themselves in their old rooms, Su-mi notices an exact duplicate of her notepad and pen on her bedroom desk. But is that the only uncanny resemblance? Upon opening her clothing cabinet, she finds nothing but blue and green dresses.

A Tale of two sisters 6A Tale of Two Sisters 14

The strange events continue to occur. Noises start emanating through the house during the first night and Su-yeon is the first recipient of this living nightmare, as she soon wakes up to someone or something slowly opening her bedroom door. Scared and frightened, she covers herself tightly with her blanket in hopes that her bedroom Boogeyman will disappear. Her blanket is slowly pulled off her inch by inch, and in terror, she quickly gets up to see… thankfully no one. Su-yeon runs quickly to her sister’s bedroom; only now does Su-mi speak. “There’s something in my room,” Su-yeon stutters nervously. “Everything is going to be okay,” Su-mi responds. The scares within the house have just started.

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If the viewer does not watch the movie closely, they will not get the story. If the viewers enjoy a complex mystery, then the confusion becomes a facilitator for the story’s art. Unlike many other horror movies, “A Tale of Two Sisters” has no shame in taking its sweet time setting up its multi-layered story. The pacing is slow and the first 20 minutes are an unbearable wait for the rhythm to pick up. Yet, this tempts the viewer to become lazy. One may assume since the pacing is quite slow, they can take a jog, play chess, or hit on their hot neighbor. However, this is a disservice to the viewer, as the film is filled with incredible amounts of symbolism in the form of clues, dialogue, expressions, and flashbacks. As with 3-Iron, depending on one’s ears alone is not enough; both the human eyes and ears are needed. Missing one image will throw off the viewer’s understanding of the movie.

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“A Tale of Two Sisters” differs from other Asian horror in how it presents the concept of horror itself. Whereas the vast majority of films in the horror genre depend heavily on a combination of: cheap scares, excessive gore, screaming, long haired ghosts, and unnecessary deaths, the movie relies on an application of a beautiful and familiar environment to create an unsettling feeling. Throughout the movie, the Victorian house slowly becomes scarier. Harrowing music and complete silence are used in juxtaposition with great effect to add to the fear. Sprinkled with a few shock scares, the viewer is always on edge, uneasy when the next scary scene is going to occur.

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The acting deserves special mention in this film, since it blends in the movie’s psychological, creepy horror theme perfectly. Director Kim Ji-woon could not have asked for more talented actors: newcomer Lim Su-jeong as the older sister Su-Mi and Yeom Jung-ah as the wicked stepmom play the perfect foil to one another. During every meal, hallway conversation, and late night encounters, the viewer will see the constant tension, anger, and disgust for the other. Breaking expensive porcelain as Eun-joo pours tea, leaving the table early, and hurling insults at her father’s new wife, Lim Su-jeong channels an incredible aura of vindictiveness during the movie. Jung-ah, on the other hand, plays a very convincing evil stepmom in Eun-joo, as she makes Su-Mi’s life a living hell while under the same roof. Beginning by throwing barbs back at Su-Mi, she later goes on the offensive, physically asserting herself on the sisters behind their father’s back. Although in real life the actresses are best friends, you wouldn’t know it by watching this film.

The other two support characters also do a great job in playing their roles. A very young Moon Geun-young, the media dubbed “nation’s younger sister,” plays the painfully shy and innocent Su-yeon. Avoiding confrontation and always deferring to her older sister, Moon Geun-young plays the perfect complement to the more outspoken Su-jeong. Acting veteran Kim Kap-su rounds out the cast as the quiet, patient, and tempered father to the two daughters. His presence as both the concerned father and mediator between his eldest brash daughter and his new wife balances out the constant animosity within the home.

The surprise twists and thought-provoking ending, however, is what sets “A Tale of Two Sisters” apart from the vast majority of horror movies. Fans of the movie all have their unique impressions of the film’s key plot points and judging from which information Kim holds back in the end, many people’s takes are very believable. Kim provides just enough clues for the viewer to understand the story, yet still have many questions at the same time. A quick view on various Korean movie sites’ forums shows that A Tale of Two Sisters is one of the most discussed movies, in part due to its complex ending. The “re-playability” of the film is simply endless; there’s no shame in watching it again.

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A Tale of Two Sisters” is an incredible psychological thrill ride for horror virtuosos or even non-horror fans. With a talented cast, a gorgeous setting, well-orchestrated music, well-timed scares, and an engaging story, this movie stands as one of the best horror movies ever created. Both the Korean and foreign press agrees, as the movie currently stands upon 12 awards and 3 nominations in various film festivals and reviews. Actresses Lim Su-jeong and Yeom Jung-ah took home a number of acting awards and director Kim Ji-woon collected 6 awards himself.
An American remake by DreamWorks recently came out on January 2009 called, “The Uninvited” – no relation to the Korean movie with the same name. While the US version pays homage to the Korean film, movie watchers owe it to themselves to experience the original.

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My Sassy Girl 1

2) My Sassy Girl

Director: Kwak Jae-young
Writer: Kwak Jae-young
Based on: Kim Ho-sik (a novel)
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance
Release Date: July 2001

(A group of nine female starlets approach the concert stage. Two of them take the lead.)

Tiffany: “Uh huh! Listen boy.”
“My first love story”
Jessica: “My angel and my girls.”
“My sunshine. Uh! Uh! Let’s go!”
— The opening to the 2009 song “Gee”
Girls Generation (SNSD)

The ever catchy, popular, and overplayed “Gee” tells about a girl who experiences her first crush, her first love. For many movie fans, “My Sassy Girl” is their first foray into Korean cinema, their first “movie love.” From seeing the studly, dorky Cha Tae-hyun to the beautiful, border-line abusive Jeon Ji-hyun, many of us knew their on screen romance was something special. Having a cute story to complement these two was just perfect. The entirety of South Korea had fallen in love.
Putting this movie down in sweet words is as difficult as confessing your love for the first time, but – as the movie’s theme sings – I Believe that even if one stumbles across their words, the first time is the moment you always come back to. It’s a time of nostalgia, and it’s always in the back of your mind. That’s essentially “My Sassy Girl,” a movie based on Kim Ho-sik’s real life adventures. Go out anywhere in South Korea—in fact, in most of Asia—and ask what’s the number one romance comedy, and you will most certainly get Kwak Jae-young’s movie.

For the My Sassy virgins, this is a story about the loveable pushover, Gyun-woo, and his fateful encounter that would change his life forever. Escaping his aunt’s most recent attempt to hook him up with a blind date, he goes to the subway station to head home. Unexpectedly, he meets an intoxicated and beautiful girl who is stooped over the yellow borderline and is about to fall onto the tracks. The train whistles, and before the wind of the locomotive passes by, Gyun-woo catches her before she falls. He enters the same train as the drunken girl all the while making sure to keep his distance.

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The word, “honey,” is something every guy would like to hear, especially from a beautiful woman, but when these words come from a girl who just hurled her dinner at an elder, the words lose their appeal. As if that’s not enough of an indicator, just before she faints, she points towards Gyun-woo. Now Gyun-woo is forced to carry much more than just a girl on his back; he is forced to carry a problem. Not knowing what to do with this stranger, he moans, “How did I get into all of this?” Thus marks the beginning of “My Sassy Girl”.

My Sassy Girl 4

What makes “My Sassy Girl” different from many other romantic dramas/comedies is director Kwak Jae-young’s well-spaced melodrama. He does not force the viewer’s emotion—to cry to his every whim—or overuse sarang he (“I love you”) every five minutes to the point where it loses its meaning. Kwak knows better. While any movie in the genre is expected to have its share of crying, sad moments, and love, he makes sure these themes have meaning. As the main leads become more rounded and deep, the movie becomes more liberal with its serious tones. Since the viewer becomes more attached to the actors, they start caring for them – feeling their pain, excitement, happiness, and loss.
If this film teaches you one new word, it’s “sassy.” The Asian stereotype for women is a reserved, demure, and loving individual. Get ready for a sassy ride, as Gyun-woo goes through the craziest relationship with this nameless girl (yes, she has no name). From the get-go, the viewer will empathize with Gyun-woo; when ordering anything other than coffee gets a “Do you wanna die?”, playing fun games gets Gyun-woo bitch-slapped, and refusing to read horrible movie scripts is returned with a petrifying stare, even the most apathetic of viewers will be moved.

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“My Sassy Girl” has plenty of depth, going beyond a one-dimensional story of cute love. For a romantic comedy, “My Sassy Girl” has plenty of depth, an uncharacteristic quality of the genre. The vast majority follows the typical “guy likes girl” formula, where the only focus is “how do the main leads hook up?” This movie, however, goes much deeper than that, presenting sub themes such as: living in the moment, living in the future, contemplating the meaning of love, and, of course, dealing with love’s pain. Blending all these sub themes in this genre well is no easy feat; without a balance, the film goes off too many tangents and loses its identity – such as Kwak’s 2004 follow up, “Windstruck”.

The biggest draw to seeing this film has to be the amazing performances by its leading stars. Jeon Ji-jyun easily steals the show for her role as the girl and single-handedly redefines the meaning of sassy. From her facial expressions: quirky smiles, angry lipped growls, annoyed frowns, and sweet blushes, to bullying her co-star, she plays the unnamed heroine perfectly. Throughout the movie, the audience will see her growth from the drunkard subway female to the aggressive, vicious girl he dates to the Juliet of Korea. Her evolution from drunkard to Shakespearean status comes in the latter half of the movie, where both main characters start to see one another at their worst and their best. Cha Tae-hyun, playing Jeon’s opposite as the comedic Gyun-woo, displays an incredible acting job as the male lead. His counter expressions, when confronted with the girl’s bipolar-induced mood swings, are justified and understandable. Any guy would react that way. But not every guy would stick with the girl. Gyun-woo develops alongside the girl, and although he initially just goes with her antics and adventures, he finds himself slowly wanting to heal her sorrow.
Love or hate it, the 2001 success of “My Sassy Girl” revitalized the romantic comedy genre in Korea. Before its breakout performance in theaters, the genre was largely ignored, as producers would release serious melodramas instead. This film showed skeptics that a love story could be a mixture of lightheartedness, funny, and serious at the same time. Like the infectious Girls Generation“Gee” song that spread like wildfire earlier this year – where singing about the 7th letter in the English alphabet could be so addicting – this movie also spread like an epidemic around Asia. Other Asian countries, intrigued by the sassy concept, also produced their own versions: the 2008 Japanese TV drama” Ryokiteki no Kanojo” and the 2008 Indian movie “Ugly Aur Pagli”. While countless Korean romantic comedies were churned out after 2001 – such as the 2003 “My Tutor Friend” or 2004 “My Little Bride” – few are able to capture the magic that “My Sassy Girl” did.

My Sassy Girl 6

As with many movies on this list, a “My Sassy Girl” American remake came out last year in 2008. While the movie tries to replicate the sassy feel, unfortunately, the movie is missing the atmosphere and setting; after all, they are different cultures. The chemistry between the US actors Elisha Cuthbert and Jesse Bradford is not the same. Again, watch the original.

My Sassy Girl 7

It has been 8 long years since this movie came out. As mentioned earlier, for many fans, this film is their “first love.” My Sassy Girl has it all: a charming love story, incredible acting, multi-layered themes, and memorable soundtrack. What a great “first love” indeed. While these fans still consider this Korean classic as their favorite, the POPSEOUL list, like former lovers, has moved on; this film stands as #2 on our list.

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Taegukgi 1

1) Tae Guk Gi

Director: Kang Je-kyu
Writer: Kang Je-kyu
Genre: War, Drama, Action, Historical
Release Date: February 2004

Quotes from famous people during the Korean War (1950 –1953).

Taegukgi 2 “The most important thing in our war preparations is to teach all our people to hate U.S. imperialism.”
Kim Il-sung
North Korean leader

Taegukgi 3

“We will defeat the Reds, the Communists!”
Syngman Rhee
South Korean leader

Taegukgi 4“Never before has this nation been engaged in mortal combat with a hostile power without military objective, without policy other than restrictions governing operations, or indeed without even formally recognizing a state of war.”
Douglas MacArthur
Supreme Allied Commander of the Pacific

Taegukgi 5

“[Korea is] the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy.”
Omar Bradley
General of the Army, United States

Taegukgi 6

“If we allow the United States to occupy all of Korea, Korean revolutionary power will suffer a fundamental defeat, and the American invaders will run more rampant, and have negative effects for the entire Far East.”
Mao Zedong
Chairman of the People’s Republic of China

Near the 38th parallel dividing the two Koreas, a big movement towards the south is occurring. Soldiers are heard marching step-by-step, with their rifles swaying and grenades attached to their belts. Rumbling engines echo loudly nearby, as armored tanks slowly drive through narrow roads. Supply trucks are heard going over bumpy tread marks. Grunts and signs of fatigue are heard from mortar teams pushing heavy artillery guns over steep hills. Fighters and bombers are heard from above, flying at incredible speeds in formation. North Korean propaganda is heard from loudspeakers, proclaiming that Communism will prevail over Capitalism. As onlookers see this advancing army approaching from the north, calamity is thrown out the window and panic ensues; the entirety of South Korea is in chaos. Dressed in light brown and red uniforms, the invading army conquers, pillages, and destroys any towns in its wake. Their target: all of Korea – the reunification of the Korean peninsula. The date: June 25th, 1950 – the Korean War has just started.
Fast forward to modern times in 2004; archaeologists are excavating the remains of fallen soldiers in preparation for a Korean memorial. An elderly man receives a phone call from the South Korean army. They claim one body found is Lee Jin-seok, but upon confirming that he is alive, the aged man suspects the body is actually his brother’s. He travels to China in hopes of finding his brother’s remains—no luck—and heads to the excavation site; there, he opens a shoebox containing vanilla colored shoes. As a flood of memories start coming back, tears swell up in his eyes. Fifty-four years ago may sound like an eternity for many, but for the survivors of war, they can relive the struggles like it happened yesterday. The pain, repressed memories, war wounds, bitterness, and brutal experiences are things any former soldier wants to forget. This begs the questions: how did the other brother die? What happened to Lee Jin-seok during the war? The movie shifts back to 1950 and the story of “Taegukgi” begins.

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Director Kang Je-kyu’s film follows two brothers – Lee Jin-tae and Lee Jin-seok – and their family during the Korean War. Living in Seoul, life was peaceful for the Lee family following World War II. The older brother, Jin-tae works as a shoeshine boy during the day, foregoing his higher education to support his younger brother’s. Since his father passed away, he has taken the mantle as male figurehead in the family household. His fiancée, Young-shin, helps out at the family noodle shop in the afternoon with his mother. Jin-seok, the younger brother, dutifully studies and excels in academics in hopes of getting into a good university. Yong-seok, the brother’s childhood friend, spends time with the two on the streets of Seoul. With a loving family, food on the table, and clean clothes, the Lee family lived carefree in the newly established South Korea, looking towards a promising future. However, their peaceful world is shattered when the North invades. While the Lee family travels further south to escape the ensuing battles, the South Korean army drafts males between the ages of 18 to 30 in preparation for the South Korean war machine. Both brothers are thus drafted and must survive this hell together.

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Shortly after, Jin-tae and Jin-seok find themselves in the muddy trenches with other scared and new recruits. Mortar fire and pounding artillery pepper the recruits’ first battlefield and Jin-seok immediately becomes shell-shocked, unaccustomed to the horrors of real combat. Worrying that his younger brother might not survive another battle, Jin-tae knew he had to do something fast; he had to save his family.

Jin-tae knows that their family’s future lays in Jin-seok and his promising future. If one of them can return home, it has to be his younger brother. Knowing this, he attempts to persuade his commanding officer to discharge his brother from the war. However, it comes with a condition: his superior tells him he has to get an Order of Military Merit medal, South Korea’s highest military honor. Agreeing to this secret deal, he starts volunteering for near suicidal missions, ranging from placing land mines during enemy fire to leading reckless assaults. Jin-seok starts wondering why his older brother is doing this. However, despite Jin-tae’s heroic and insane deeds, the South Korean army is in a terrible bind; they are surrounded and nearly annihilated.

Their regiment has little sleep, food, ammunition, and morale; the soldiers are beginning to go crazy. The sounds of suicide, amputated body parts, and screaming become the lullaby of their camp. Contemplating a last stand, many soldiers write their wills, ready for their inevitable fate. Jin-tae, however, has other plans; he suggests going on the offensive. After all, to him, the more suicidal the odds are, the better. Taking the North Koreans by complete surprise, the South Korean regiment makes rapid headway. Leading a one man charge, Jin-tae begins to braves the danger and lucks through. Eventually, his efforts pay off: he conquers the enemy headquarters on a mountain. As the North Koreans start a full retreat, he returns to see cheers and celebrations; it was the squad’s first victory.

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However, as victory after glorious victory continued to pile up, Jin-tae becomes infatuated with the proposition. No longer is it about his brother’s safety; it’s about fame. He receives all the adulteration: promotions, mass cheering, awards, and even an appearance at the United Nations press conference. He sees the world in two shades: Communism and Capitalism. As a result, he becomes desensitized to murder—he becomes the perfect soldier. After another battle, he sees a childhood friend forced to fight for the North …yet, he has no compassion for his life; he sees nothing but an enemy. Soon, he barely recognizes his own younger brother, the very same he promised to protect. As Jin-seok begins to resent his older brother and his motives, their brotherhood starts to fall apart. Can they reconcile their differences? Will they ever see their family again? Does Jin-tae even see a different between Capitalism and Communism?

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“Taegukgi” shows that war is hell. Like the critically acclaimed American war movie, “Saving Private Ryan”, this film does not hold back the brutal reality – arms are separated, legs are blown off — blood is used in great amounts. The battle scenes are intense: machines guns, tanks, airplanes, and artillery are all shown; bodies, shattered homes, and dreams ornament this battlefield. There is no peace in hell—no haven even in one’s house. War doesn’t discriminate and battles can be fought anywhere. War crimes, needless to say, were rampant by both sides during the war. Vicious propaganda was used to portray the other side as “evil”, framing the enemy with lies and atrocities. Surrendering to the enemy was frowned upon and even doing so did not guarantee survival. Prisoners weighed down advancing armies, so rather than keep them, commanders ordered captured prisoners to be shot. For every handful that benefits from war, there are millions more that are devastated by it.

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With the success of his 1999 movie, “Shiri”, director Kang Je-kyu had the leeway to go for some big name actors for Taegukgi. Kang decided to go for some of the best, enlisting skilled actor Jang Dong-gun as Jin-tae and pretty boy Won Bin as Jin-seok. Jang plays a brilliant Jin-tae that evolves (or devolves) from a protective brother that places family first to a ruthless murderer. From his facial expressions to his dialogue, the audience will see how the rigors of war can change a person. Although slow, his transformation is believable because of his atrocities. His decision to weigh awards over his brother’s safety is, in itself, a result of his transformation. Won’s performance as the younger Jin-seok, however, steals the show. Since his role required the most radical change, his part was incredibly challenging. However, Won does not disappoint at all. This role required a transformation from passive intellectual to rookie soldier to a strong, determined man that opposes his brother’s motives. The audience will empathize with Won’s character and grown alongside with him throughout the war.

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Korean beauty, Lee Eun-joo, played the fiancée of Jin-tae admirably in the few scenes she is in. Unfortunately, this was one of her last films she acted in, as she took her life on February 2005. If there is a knock in the film’s cast, it has to be the supporting characters. While the film focuses on the two main leads’ struggles, the supporting cast, compared to war movies like “Welcome to Dongmakgol”, pales in comparison. The movie, sadly, does not spend the time to develop their characters and most of them play extremely minor parts in the brothers’ journey. Although, not to take away from what they did, these characters still played their parts quite well, considering the time.

“Taegukgi” elicits poignant memories for South Koreans. The film name itself – “Taegukgi” – is symbolic; it represents the South Korean national flag. Like the American Civil War or the schism of Western and Eastern Germany after World War II, this film presents the viewer a greater understanding on the turmoil post division. When heartthrob Won Bin was asked to do a movie about the Korean War, he did not hesitate. “How could you not want to act in a movie about the Korean War … I would be honored,” Bin said. Thousands of extras also heeded the call in recreating this bloody conflict; many did their roles for little or no money. The North-South division still hurts to this day for Koreans and this movie provides a glimpse to seeing that very pain.

This film is one not to be missed by movie fans. While one may dismiss the movie as the Korean “Saving Private Ryan” – other than some inspired scenes from the American classic – they are both vastly different story wise. With slick battle cinematography, incredible scripting, deep main leads, a non-biased look at war, and a tale of brotherhood, the film’s scope is breathtaking. Crying “man-tears” during or at the end is acceptable, because the movie’s final message is powerful: family blood runs deeper than any sort of ideology or government. And for that, “Taegukgi” deserves the top slot.

If you have missed it, check out the Top 10 to 6 movies that have made an impact on Korean cinema.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Lou Gehrig in 140 Characters? Impossible to Imagine

By David Whitley

Lou Gehrig did not Twitter.

Never mind that such social networking wasn't around 70 years ago. Typing minutiae and thinking it's important simply wasn't Gehrig's style.

He was unassuming, lived with his parents until he was 30 and didn't crave his own reality TV show. Let's hope players are paying attention Saturday when baseball does something unusual.

A speech will be read during the 7th-inning stretch at every ballpark. Nobody knows if the words are accurate, only that they are unforgettable.

"Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth."

You've probably heard them a million times. But on the 70th anniversary of Gehrig's farewell, we need to be reminded how unique the speech and the speaker were.

"The person and the words and the moment have to come together," Stephen Lucas said.

Lucas is a professor of communication arts at the University of Wisconsin. People like him study speeches as scholars, not sports fans. In 1999, Lucas and a colleague surveyed 137 experts and came up with the top 100 American speeches of 20th Century.

Number one was Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream, followed by John Kennedy's inaugural address. The list includes orators like William Jennings Bryan, Ronald Reagan and Jesse Jackson. The most unlikely name to make it came in at No. 73.

Henry Louis (Lou) Gehrig. Farewell to Baseball Address.

"It's an iconic moment in American life, not just sports," Lucas said. "It transcended sports."

That's not easy to do. Sports have produced memorable lines like "Win one for the Gipper," and "No Mas," but no other sports-related speeches sniffed the top 100. Given the state of sports oratory, it's doubtful the 21st Century will be any better.

"If u want to chat with me be sure to register once you to the ShaqCast We gonna have some fun baby!!!"

So went a recent Twitter communiqué from Shaquille O'Neal. Not to pick on Shaq; he is merely the product of our hyperactive communication age. It is fueled by electronic gadgets and excess ego, neither of which Gehrig had much use for.

For my money, his speech should be in the century's top 10, or at least ahead of Margaret Higgins Sanger's The Morality of Birth Control at No. 46. I mean, how many games in a row did she play?

The Iron Horse did not have a ghostwriter. His speech was not bounced off focus groups beforehand. Gehrig simply jotted down some thoughts the night before, then reluctantly tried to remember them in front of 61,808 fans at Yankee Stadium.

The setting is important for any great speech. Think King at the Lincoln Memorial or Kennedy at the Berlin Wall. Yankee Stadium was already a sports shrine in 1939 and baseball players were Gods.

It helps to speak at a decisive moment. Think Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor address to the nation or Reagan after the Challenger disaster. When Gehrig spoke, few knew how ill he was, but most sensed they might never see him again.

The most emotional place and time will not matter, however, if the speech lacks one thing.

"Content," Lucas said. "The most important thing in any great speech is content."

That's another thing that makes Gehrig's speech unique. The world will never know for sure what was said that day.

Newsreel footage only caught the beginning and the end. Newspaper accounts differed since reporters jotted slightly different versions.

The confusion was compounded in 1942, when Gary Cooper played Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees. The immortal "luckiest man" sentence was moved from the beginning of the speech to the end.

Lucas played detective and put the original snippets together. There's still some question whether Gehrig thanked Yankees general manager Ed Barrow. And it's forever odd that he would thank his mother-in-law for often backing him up when he argued with his wife.

Truth be told, the middle of the speech is just a short recitation of thank-yous. It's the start and finish that people remember.

"There's a nobility to it we don't find much any more," Lucas said.

To which some modern-day jock would react, "What u talking bout???"

Gehrig never had much to say, especially about himself. He just showed up at work every day for 14 years and went about his business.

"I'm not a headline guy," he once said. "I'm just a guy who's in there every day. The fellow that follows Babe [Ruth] in the batting order. When Babe's turn at-bat is over the fans are still talking about him when I come up. If I stood on my head at the plate, nobody would pay attention."

If only Shaq had felt so magnanimous toward Kobe Bryant, or vice versa, the Lakers might have won three or four more titles. Gehrig and Ruth had their differences, but they never let them interfere with their jobs.

Nothing interfered with Gehrig after he replaced Wally Pipp at first base in 1925. He won two MVPs, a triple crown and six World Series. But toward the end of the 1938 season his bat lost its pop.

Gehrig showed up the next spring and his skills seem to have eroded 10 years. He had only four hits in his first 28 at-bats. After muffing some grounders in batting practice before a game in Detroit, he threw down his glove in disgust.

The next day he informed manager Joe McCarthy that he should not play. For the first time in 2,130 games, "Gehrig" did not appear on the lineup card. He was not about to drag down the team while hoping to get a few hits.

He stayed with the team but felt more worn out every day. After two months he went to the Mayo Clinic. On June 19, Gehrig's 36th birthday, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ...

At the time, the disease didn't bear his name.

Not many people knew what it was. News reports said only that he was retiring due to some sort of paralysis. The Yankees decided to have a Lou Gehrig Day.

July 4th seemed ideal. Between games of a doubleheader against Washington, members of the 1927 Yankees circled the field behind a band. Everyone then gathered at home plate, where a bank of microphones had been set up.

Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia spoke. Ruth threw his arms around Gehrig. Teammates presented Gehrig a silver bat trophy. The hated Giants even sent a plaque. Gehrig was so overwhelmed that emcee Sid Mercer decided not to follow the event's script.

"I shall not ask Lou Gehrig to make a speech," he said. "I do not believe that I should."

Fans yelled "Lou, Lou, Lou," but their hero couldn't respond. McCarthy whispered something to Gehrig, who reluctantly ambled toward the microphones.

If you didn't know better, you'd have thought Gehrig was playing the crowd. Gary Cooper himself could not have squeezed more drama out of the moment.

Gehrig looked at the ground. He pinched his brow. He stuck his hands in his back pockets, opened his mouth and hoped the words would come.

"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got."

Gehrig was so nervous that "break" sounded like "brag." Nobody seemed to notice.

"Yet today I consider myself ... "

You know the rest.

A dying man talked about all he had to live for. The 277 words were such a blur that Gehrig later asked reporters if he'd rambled too long.

"I'd have rather struck out in the ninth with the score tied, two down and the bases loaded, than walk out there before all those grand people," he said. "It's the only time I've been frightened on a ball field."

Talk about coming through in the clutch. From FDR to Kennedy to King to Reagan, that's what makes a great speech. The difference is none of them ever gave a speech knowing it would be their last.

Henry Louis Gehrig died on June 2, 1941.

He probably never suspected his words would live forever.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


However, just so you know, according to the Busan district court it is not illegal to pick up 16 year old homeless girls:

A local high court found a 46-year-old man not guilty of having sex with a runaway teenage girl, saying their liaison was neither forced nor in exchange for money.

…Kim bought food for the 16-year-old girl, who was wandering near Seoul Station, and allowed her to stay at his home in December 2006.

…The court also found Kim not guilty of violating the laws governing the protection of adolescents, saying, “They had sex, but she did not demand money and he did not give her money. He provided her with shelter, food and about 20,000 won pocket money, but there is no evidence that the offering was in exchange for sex.’

The article goes on to point out the age of consent in Korea is 13, as long as there is no coercion or money changing hands.

Are you fracking kidding me?

Expect some kind of story, with accompanying video, about a “ring” of foreigners involved in drugs and gambling, from tonight on the national news.

From a tip to Korean Media Watch, a group of Americans/Canadians were having a poker game that was raided. Apparently, someone called in a tip. There were 8 members at the raid, one of whom was female but was not asked to come down to the station to pose for the cameras today. 6 others NOT present at the poker game but had been players before were “asked to come down and make a statement” at which time they were told to take urine drug tests. The original 8 had already done so. Apparently, two of the original 8 tested positive, although no drugs were apparently found. This morning at the station, it was a press field day, with cameras called in and set up around a makeshift poker table IN the station. They were even asked by the Korean press to re-enact the game around the table for the cameras, which they refused to do. They also refused to grant any interviews.

One reporter, who seemed a bit disappointed or confused about what was actually going down, informed a member of the group that they had been called by the police, who had claimed to have busted a “drugs and gambling ring.” This is apparently how the police want things to go appear, as this is the context under which the press was called. A few things seem obvious — that the police are primed to turn anything involving foreigners into a “big story” and are directly involved in calling the media down to the station, as well as spinning the story. No matter what particular trouble any members of the group might be in, it is certainly a stretch to call a poker game a drug and gambling “ring,” or to link this story to other “foreigners acting wild” yellow journalism already out there. Considering the pattern of media vilification of foreigners, expect lurid closeup shots of a poker table (provided by the police), exaggerated unnecessary implications about other crime “rings” being conducted by foreigners, and most importantly, linkage of this story to other bad journalism already out there.

We will do our best to get their side of the story out there, at least, and to keep things in context. However, it must be expected that the media will follow the general pattern: wildly exaggerate the facts for the story, generalize that story to the greater population, and pose this generalized population as a “threat” to the Korean public, especially to children.

In the beginning and end, all from a poker game. No drugs on the premises or the persons in question, no reasonable evidence for a gambling “ring.” But that’s how the police are spinning it.

One suggestion from this writer and others: watch your Facebook accounts and updates. There is a lot of suspicion that certain interested parties are now watching Facebook, for various reasons related to the specifics of how this and related stories went down, and that calls are being made, tips being given, from watching Facebook, one suspects status updates and event announcements. From the appearance of this story, it seemed like an easy setup and tip-off, with the police ready and prepared to spin a finished story, poker table included.

This pattern of foreigner vilification has institutional momentum, from an over-eager police force ready to make a poker game into a criminal drug and gambling “ring,” to a media equally ready to run any lurid story involving foreigners, whether illegal acts are involved or not. With a police force working hand-in-hand with the media for “the next big scandal,” the results should not be surprising.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American recording artist, entertainer and businessman. The seventh child of the Jackson family, he made his debut on the professional music scene in 1968 as a member of The Jackson 5. He then began a solo career in 1971 while still a member of the group and was referred to as the "King of Pop" in subsequent years. Jackson's 1982 album Thriller remains the world's best-selling album of all time, and four of his other solo studio albums are among the world's best-selling records: Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995).

Wel I knew who MJ was as a child when AFN radio in Germany would play his songs. I even saw him a few times on German TV, so when "Thriller"came out in 1982, I could not believe that this same kid that I saw and heard on the tv and radio years earlier was making muisc like these 2 videos.

I can remember trying to say cool and say that I hated these 2 songs, but man seeing these on MTV was just awesome.

I can still remember the first time I saw the video for "Thriller". I still think its a huge rip-off of

Alice Cooper's "Welcome to my Nightmare" But I still like the song.

It's the later Michael that I grew to hate and feel sorry for. After Thriller, he just turned weird and every crazy story seemed true. I hope that in death, he finds the peace that he could not find here on Earth.


Farrah Fawcett (February 2, 1947 – June 25, 2009) was an American actress. A multiple Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominee, Fawcett rose to international fame when she first appeared as private investigator Jill Munroe in the TV series Charlie's Angels in 1976. Fawcett later appeared off-Broadway to the approval of critics and in highly rated television movies in roles often challenging (The Burning Bed, Nazi Hunter: The Beate Klarsfeld Story, Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story, Margaret Bourke-White) and sometimes unsympathetic (Small Sacrifices). Fawcett was also a pop culture figure whose hairstyle was emulated by millions of young women and whose poster sales broke records, making her an international sex symbol in the 1970s and 1980s. While her impact was particularly strong on the teens of the 1970s, her appeal spreads over multiple generations.

I was 10 years old when this poster came out and my parents refused to let me get the photo, but I had some friends who parents let them have the poster. I stared at this poster a lot of hours. This is when I started to notice girls. Lets just say my first attempt at a girlfriend went horribly wrong (I am so sorry, Tanyna Hughes, if you ever read this blog.) I was a stoopid idiot.

I always followed her career and was sorry that she died of cancer.

Thank you Farrah for all of the nights as a child I would dream of that poster.