Thursday, September 29, 2005


Follow the link to see a video of Steve-O (of Jackass "fame") on Adam Carolla's Comedy Central talk show.

It appears Steven had a few nips of grandpa's cough syrup before the show (boy, is that ever an understatement).

Christmas movies that aren't Christmas movies

Halloween is just over a month away. As a DVD and film connoisseur, one of the things I like about the end of October is that I don't have to worry about what type of film to watch (something that almost literally keeps me awake nights). There are so many to choose from: John Carpenter's Halloween, or Halloween II (the rest are pure garbage), The Exorcist, Romero zombie flicks, The Simpsons Halloween specials...the list, while far from endless, is relatively long. Longer than my Valentine's Day collection of movies, of which there's...hold on, let me think...Spider-Man? He's a genuinely sentimental and caring fellow, isn't he? OK, if not Spidey, then how about The Godfather? I mean, no one embodies filial piety, devotion, and unequivocal love quite like Michael Corleone (not including the sequel, where he, the bastard, orders a hit on his own brother).

But while thinking about what movies help make the Halloween season (an especial time when I woefully mourn the end of my childhood -- which ended sometime last year, by my own estimate -- because I can no longer receive free candy from strangers) so special, I also started thinking about the films I enjoy watching during the Christmas season. Most of them have little or nothing to do with Christmas, but for reasons unknown -- or, at most, partially understood -- these movies help put me in the Christmas mood and give your old pal/enemy Sparkles some yule-tide cheer:

[in no particular order]

To Kill a Mockingbird

Many people are aware that Robert Duvall makes his screen debut in the film, but few know that it is also the debut of actress Lindsay Lohan. It's true.

The Godfather

I don't know what it is about this movie that screams Christmas. Is it the garroting? The execution of a crooked police officer? Abe Vigoda?


I know why I'm fond of watching this mob movie on Christmas day. Christmas '99, my mother gave me the laser disc version of the film. Remember laser discs? Me neither.

The Shawshank Redemption

Pretend this bon mot from the mouth of Captain Hadley is directed at Santa Claus:

What is your malfunction, you fat barrel of monkey spunk?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

My all-time favorite "Christmas movie that isn't a Christmas movie." Who needs Mary, Joseph and little baby Jesus in a manger when you got Sentenza, Tuco, and The Man With No Name?

[dodges lightning bolt]

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Man, what I would give...

- to see a president -- any president, even that Dave guy who used to own President's Choice -- give a press conference while dressed in a Spider-Man costume.

- for a year's supply of Reese's peanut butter cups.

- to have Ghostface Killah make an entire album with El-P (both as MCs, El-P on the boards). For a taste, check out the Hide Ya Face remix. It's sublime.

- for Pringles, Orion, or any other snack-food company to formulate and market a BBQ kimchi potato chip. Failing that, a bulgogi potato chip. If Pizza Hut can put sweet potatoes on a pizza and make it (arguably) work, some culinary chemist must be able to fulfill my wish. If not, there is no God.

- for the Red Sox and Yankees to meet again in this year's ALCS. Unfortunately, there's no way it could ever be as monumental and exciting as last year's series. If they do meet, I'm afraid it'll be It Was Written, as opposed to last year's combination of Illmatic, It Takes a Nation of Millions..., Paid In Full, Critical Beatdown, Resurrection, One For All, The Chronic, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, and Criminal Minded. Still, I'll be content if anyone mashes A-Rod in the face. I don't ask for much.

- to see a new Stanley Kubrick film. My choices would be: The Catcher in the Rye (while it's impossible that Kubrick will direct -- his being dead and all -- it will happen in my lifetime), and an episodic film based on the Klondike and South Seas stories of Jack London.

- for the TV show Quantum Leap to be reborn. I recently purchased the series' first 3 seasons, and, while there are quite a few episodes that are absolutely cringe-worthy, the premise is great, and the on-screen comraderie between Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell is awesome. Shame it was ever cancelled in the first place.

- for a 1/2 gram of cocaine. Just kidding. That's too little. (Again, just kidding; I sometimes wonder if I'm putting myself in jeopardy by posting drug jokes and jokes suggesting the fire-bombimg of certain nation's embassies. After further thought, nawwwww.)

- a car. I really need a car.

- an extra hour's sleep every morning. I really need an extra hour's sleep every morning.


Monday, September 26, 2005

I always feel like Samsung is watching meeeee!

And I can't enjoy my tea.

For one reason or another, it turned out that a lot of the home appliances we purchased are made by Samsung. Yesterday, I realized that they are part of the Illuminati. They're trying to put a microchip in my brain (to track my whereabouts and control my thoughts) while I'm sleeping. But they have great a/s, so I can't really complain.

The all-seeing eyes of Samsung:

Vacuum cleaner.



DVD player.



What's the frequency, Cheol-Soo?

Richard Dreyfuss: Asshole (was also in JAWS).

I'm torn. My absolute love for Richard Dreyfuss (coupled in this case with his off-hand sarcastic wit, which I found quite amusing) makes it hard to say this:

Richard Dreyfus, you sir are an unmitigated cad.

Follow the link for the Dreyfus interview, interspersed throughout a diary of the writer's visit to the set of the Warner Bros. remake of The Poseidon Adventure -- though it's the interview that most will likely want to read. And it's a doozy!

My initial thought after reading it was "Richard Dreyfuss, who pissed in your Corn Flakes?" but seeing as how how he's a big-shot Hollywood actor, I think "Richard Dreyfus, who blew snot in your Starb*cks latte?" is more apt.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bundang-gu, represent, represent

Just now I desultorily discovered that Bundang, the area in which I live, has its own page on Wikipedia ( While brief, it is quite accurate.

Know what doesn't have its own Wikipedia page? Ilsan. Take that, Ilsan!

(If you think I'm trying to start a Springfield/Shelbyville rivalry here, you're right.)

I realize that this entry is a tad short, and that people who don't live in Bundang probably couldn't care less, so, in an attempt to make it up to you, I give you this, a post that I wrote last night but couldn't be bothered to finish. The original title was "Them's Fightin' Words," but due to the circumstances of it winding up in this post, "Stale Donuts" seems more apt. Enjoy!


Opinions are like assholes: they're relatively circular, usually smell quite unpleasant (though partisan followers will, despite evidence to the contrary, insist they taste sweeter than sugar-covered sugar cubes), are the butt -- no pun intended, but pleasingly welcomed -- of a million jokes and jest, and they occassionally are sewn closed until someone keeps feedin' and feedin' and feedin' the proprietor of said asshole/opinion. It's a familiar axiom, I'm sure.

That said (a Christmas goose for the reader who can make sense of the above; I can't), I thought I'd bombard you with some opinions. They may be unpopular, they may not; regardless, I refuse to justify anything found below.

1) W. Somerset Maugham, while perhaps not the greatest storyteller ever, is certainly the most beautifully-gifted writer of English prose the world has ever known.

2) On the flip-side, Ernest Hemingway was an untalented hack whom people with no imagination or real artistic appreciation pretend is so significant because a) doing so makes them feel special, knowing they could write a better novel than the man, and b), because they find his personal life apart from his novels and stories -- which, while adventurous, doesn't make his tales any less shittier -- enthralling.

If he were alive today, I'd certainly watch a reality TV program centered around him. He was an interesting guy, for sure; but I'd never call him a great, or even a good, writer. He wrote like I dance; which is to say, fucking horribly.

To put it in a way Hemingway aficianados will understand:

I don't like him. He did not write well. His books are boring. They are not fun. They are boring.

3) Mariah Carey is an enigma wrapped in a fucked-up-chick-who-likes-to-drink-champagne-while-swimming:

4) The cheese/sausage thingies omnipresent in convenient stores here are neither cheese nor sausages. And they're hard to open.

5) A-Rod has AIDS.

6) The Holocaust never happened. No, wait -- I meant Gremlins 2: The New Batch never happened.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Memory Lane (Part I)

If memories could be canned, would they also have expiry dates? If so, I hope they last for centuries.

-- Cop 223, Chungking Express

1999 was a good year for basketball. The NBA lock-out -- which shortened the regular season to 50 games -- notwithstanding, it was the year that the Knicks, whom I had rooted for since childhood (and stopped rooting for after moving to Korea, partly because I could no longer watch them regularly -- I'm from Southern Ontario, and the Buffalo NBC station always showed Knicks games -- but mostly because of their bone-headed managerial decisions), became the first 8th-seeded team in NBA history to reach the finals. They ended up losing in the Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, but I was still pretty elated; they had had a terrific playoff run, dispatching in dramatic fashion their two biggest rivals at the time, the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers. I was also becoming a fairly impressive basketball player in my own right. I knew I'd never be able to play at a pro's level (my ball-handling is terrible, for one), but that didn't stop me from every day, if the weather was nice, hitting one court or another with a small circle of "basketball jonesers"; and when it rained or got too cold, we often played at the Y.

I may be accused of having delusions of grandeur here, but I am convinced that, had I been adequately coached (I've never played organized ball), I could have become, on a semi-professional level, a decent 1 or 2 guard (failing that, I'm positive I could have been a professional wrestler).

Certainly I felt I had it in me, because after graduation all I seemed to care about was basketball. My folks -- at first subliminally, and later outright vehemently -- urged me to look for work. I paid them lip service. My three passions at the time were, in no particular order, basketball, girls, and hip-hop. It was only at the threat of being cut off by my parents that I realized I had better try to find something (or make it look as though I was trying to find something; I can't lie, that was my true intention) if only to appease my folks.

This was early-July. Every morning, after my father left for work, I would eat breakfast and browse the classified section of the newspaper. I could and perhaps should have searched on-line as well and posted my resume on various job sites, but seeing as how I wasn't very keen on finding work anyway, it's easy to see why I didn't. Around 10 or 11, my good friend and reliable basketball comrade (let's call him D) would drive up to my place. We'd smoke a couple of cigarettes while shooting the breeze, then it was off to the court, where we'd usually play for 2 or 3 hours.

Man, I know I was a complete slacker back then, but those are fond memories.

Around the beginning of August my folks started getting really adamant that I find work, any work, even suggesting that I take a part-time job at a bookstore while looking for something better and full-time. Feeling more than a little guilty at my parents' patience and generosity, and knowing that sooner or later I'd have to stop procrastinating and get a job, I resolved to follow their advice -- unless, I told myself, I found something more attractive in the classifieds the next morning.

I didn't find a better help wanted ad, but what I did find piqued my interest considerably. It was an advertisement for a TESOL (Teaching English To Speakers Of Other Languages, for the uninitiated) course. The ad's headline was what roped me in: TRAVEL THE WORLD TEACHING ENGLISH! Below that was a list of the benefits being an ESL teacher offered. It sounded quite appealing. What really got me interested was the tagline "only a high school diploma is necessary." See, I hold a degree in English Literature, but until reading that I was convinced that only certified teachers would be eligible to teach English in a foreign country. I had some experience tutoring grammar to exchange students while at university, but an English teacher I most certainly wasn't. Nevertheless, I called to inquire about the course. After speaking to a representative of the company, I realized that taking the course was what I wanted to do. I can't lie, my mind was aflutter with fantastic thoughts of exotic locales and carnal delights; not once did I consider that I was taking the course to help secure employment. I didn't want to be an English teacher so much as I wanted to be Lord Jim.

There was, however, one big problem. The course was 850 dollars. Where the hell was I going to get 850 dollars? The idea of asking my mother or father for the money was laughable: there was no way they would have lent it to me.

Thankfully, providence stepped in.

The very next day -- a Wednesday, as I recall -- a letter addressed to me arrived. It was from my university. I timorously opened it, perplexed and fearful of what the letter might be about. Had Dean Wormer found out it was I who dropped a truckload of fizzies into the swim meet? Had he learned that it was I who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner? Was there some loophole he had found which would mean I'd have to do my senior year all over again, only this time blindfolded?

Sorry, I got a little carried away there...

The envelope contained a check, a refund for the unused amount remaining on my student meal plan. Normally my school didn't refund this, but only because most students ran out of money on their meal plans and had to pay extra, or because the amount was too small for them to refund. I think their policy was anything below 200 dollars, though I can't be certain. The check representing my remaining balance was a whopping 1100 bucks. I shit you not.

See, I attended a university close to my hometown, but I stayed in a dormitory. Or rather, I had a dorm room; during my final year, I rarely stayed there. I had a girlfriend back in my hometown, and spent the nights I wasn't cramming -- which was just about every night -- either with her or hanging out with my hometown friends. My parents, who footed some of the bill for my dorm room, were none too pleased, but after a while they got used to it.

So it's easy to see why I rarely used my meal plan, instead opting to eat my poor folks out of house and home. Still, the staggering amount of the refund stunned even me.

I used 850 dollars to enroll in the TESOL course (the rest I blew on inconsequential shit, such as music CDs, beer, fast food, beer, some clothes, and a blow-up do…um, a nifty haircut). These courses are generally (for there are a lot of them out there) of rather dubious prestige, but nevertheless appear attractive on a resume. Mine took 4 weeks, after which I knew nothing about being a teacher and a little about the ESL industry. Was the course worth it? I guess so. If I hadn't taken it, I'd have been a lot more naive than I was when I first arrived in Korea (though I was still really fucking naïve, but we’ll get to that later).

That was August, 1999. After "graduating" my TESOL course, I sent my resume and profile to schools all over the world: Chile, the Czech Republic, Poland, the UAE, Japan, Turkey, name it. I had no idea where the hell I wanted to go, just that I wanted to "see the world." A few weeks passed with no responses, after which I started to wonder whether my resume-writing skills were weak, whether I was a lot uglier than I thought, and whether I was lied to when I was told that "all you need is a high school education" (which, by the way, is true for some countries, but very few). Then I received a call from the director of a school in Istanbul, Turkey. We spoke for only a few minutes, then he said good-bye. I wasn't very optimistic regarding my chances at that particular institute. In my defense, I had a vicious hangover and was unprepared for a telephone interview. I hadn’t been given prior notice that the gentleman would call.

So it looked as though Turkey was out. Not so bad, though. Besides the weather, what's so hot about Turkey, anyway?

After a few days, I decided I'd better try my luck at sending my resume to a few more places. It was then that I realized that the attachment I had e-mailed to every school and recruiting agency contained a picture of my cat, rather than my resume. I swear to god this is true, which goes to show just how computer-illiterate I was back then, being unable to tell the difference between a Word file and an image file. For the record, the reason the school in Turkey replied to me was because I filled out an application on the school's website, rather than sending them my resume/cat photo.

I corrected my mistake and in less than a day was contacted by roughly 35 billion recruiters from Korea. I chose one and a week later mailed them my documents, including a notarized copy of my diploma and a set of transcripts. I figured I'd be in Korea in less than a month.

But that was not to be. I don't know when the recruiter received my materials, but, perhaps because I used regular mail instead of a courier service, I'll hazard a guess that it took quite a while, for it wasn't until the following March that I heard back from them. In the interim, I hadn’t really thought about Korea much (if at all). I was once again occupied with sloth, doing a lot of nothing and generally getting on my parents' nerves by doing ("not doing" is more apt) so. Then, one Sunday evening in early-March, my recruiter called me. He wanted to know if I could arrive in Korea at the end of the month. Sure, I told him. I didn't have any plans.

And so it followed that I interviewed that same evening with a school in Seoul. I was offered the position on the spot, so to speak, and willfully accepted. Sans any kind of research into the job, sans speaking to another teacher at the school to see if the place was reputable, sans just about every precautious step it's advised that newcomers to Korea take, I said "yes" then and there.

Korea, here I come!

I dove in headfirst. Since then, diving in headfirst has become a genuine habit. I suppose I'm lucky that, like a cat falling off a counter, I've always seemed to land on my feet, pretty much unscathed.

[*knocks on wood*]

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey.

...Or, in this case, rice with mixed vegetables. The little girl enjoys watching Sesame Street while eating her breakfast. Then it's off to nursery school.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Psychedelic Kimchi Saves The World!

On September 19th I wrote:

Amazing what a promise of candy can accomplish. I think that's what the US needs to dangle in front of Kim Jong Il. I bet he'd drop any plans for further nuclear proliferation in favor of some Skittles. Taste the rainbow, Kim Jong Il.

And today I read this:

N. Korea Pledges to Halt Nuclear Program
BEIJING - North Korea on Monday agreed to stop building nuclear weapons and allow international inspections in exchange for energy aid, economic cooperation and security assurances, in a first step toward disarmament after two years of six-nation talks.

Coincidence? I think not. I hope you enjoy those Skittles and Mars bars, Mr. Kim.

So when do I receive my Nobel prize?

2 Reviews: The Big Red One and 25th Hour

The weekend is the only time I have to watch movies. On Fridays and Saturdays, after the little girl is in bed, I usually pour myself a glass of whisky and throw on a DVD. This past weekend, I watched Samuel Fuller's war epic The Big Red One (penis jokes are way too easy with a title like that, so I'm not even going to bother) and Spike Lee's 25th Hour. I liked them both, one slightly more than the other. Here's my take:

The Big Red One

Lee Marvin has a face that was made specifically, I think, to star in war movies. What's so surprising in this movie is that, despite his gruff features, he plays a compassionate and caring sergeant. Movie critic cliche: it's a tour-de-force performance.

Marvin plays The Sergeant (he is not named in the film), a veteran of the First World War who leads a rifle squad in the US army's first division, known as "The Big Red One." It is now WWII, and the movie opens with the division heading to North Africa to persuade the Vichy army to side with America and break ties with the Third Reich. From there, it's on to Sicily, France, Belgium, Germany, and, finally, Czechoslovakia. Throughout the film, replacements in the squad come and go, but four riflemen remain. They are Zab (Robert Carradine), Griff (Mark Hamill), Vinci (Bobby Di Cicco), and Johnson (Kelly Ward). The film is very episodic, but it works well. Some viewers might feel that there are too many coincidences in the film for it to seem realistic, but that didn't bother me too much.

In fact, the only real plot of the film is the story of a German sergeant who, amazingly, encounters the Red One in every country. It's totally implausible, but again, I didn't much care.

What I loved: Robert Carradine is wonderful as the cigar-chomping Zab. Can you believe this is the same guy who played Louis in Revenge of the Nerds? I never knew he could act so well. Ditto for Mark Hamill, whom until this film I had only seen in the Star Wars movies (that's a lie, but I'm pretending I've never seen The Guyver). They're great, but let's be honest: Hamill's performances definitely aren't what made them great. Here, he plays a rifleman lacking the prerequisite guts to kill. I suppose some similarity between Griff and Luke Skywalker can be drawn, but the boyishness portrayed here and the boyishness from Star Wars are like night and day. It's a shame he didn't get to prove himself in more movies.

I also loved that you can really tell the movie was written by a man who actually served in the war. There are very few war movie cliches in the film, and the episodes recounted -- though I doubt everything is based on events that actually happened -- feel authentic.

What I disliked: not a whole lot, apart perhaps from one slightly hackneyed scene where the squad infiltrates an insane asylum in France, and it happens that an inmate picks up a machine gun and sprays a room full of fellow inmates and German soldiers. We get it, war is insane.

Also, some might complain that there doesn't seem to be much of a point made in the film. Is it pro-war? Anti-war? My take is that it's slightly in support of the latter, but it seems almost as an afterthought. Still, it's entertaining and poignant, with great (and surprising) performances. Highly recommended.

Note: the DVD that is available is a reconstructed version which adds on 47 minutes of footage missing from the version that was originally released in theaters.

25th Hour

I'm a big Spike Lee fan. He puts out films at such an amazing rate that it seems natural he would have some misses. Still, a lackluster Spike Lee film is 10 times better than, say, a decent Brett Ratner film. So says I. Some of Lee's movies are mediocre, while others have been labelled horrible (She Hate Me, for example). But he is the guy who directed Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X. Critics have claimed that the quality of Lee's films has diminished over the past decade. I don't see it. I loved some of his films that garnered mixed reviews, such as Summer of Sam and He Got Game. And he showed real balls with Bamboozled. One accusation which certainly cannot be directed at Spike is that he sticks to a formula. He's constantly reinventing himself and trying out new things (me, too. Today, for instance, I bought a second pair of underwear. It was a bold decision).

25th Hour , based on the book by David Benioff (who also wrote the screenplay), tells the story of Monty Brogan, a 31-year-old New Yorker facing a 7-year jail sentence for trafficking narcotics. We follow Monty on his last day, as he meets with his girlfriend (who, Monty and others suspect, may have set him up to be busted), his father, and two friends from his youth, Frank and Jacob. What will Monty ultimately do? Kill himself (he's deathly afraid of what awaits him in prison)? Go on the lamb? Or serve his time?

What I loved: both the film's opening and closing are original and memorable. The ending in particular is one of the best I've seen in quite a while (and, no, there's no twist). And the score! One of the best I've heard in a long time. Ed Norton, reliably, does one hell of a job playing Monty. He's comparible to a young DeNiro in that he constantly turns in great performances that seem so natural and effortless (although I'm fairly sure DeNiro in his prime didn't direct and act in dreck such as Keeping the Faith). Slight digression: I noted in a post from last month that he's perhaps the most talented of the new generation of actors, and that it's strange he hasn't been in anything memorable or notable for a while. I still believe what I wrote, but on Saturday, watching the bonus features on the DVD, I was reminded what a pseudo-intellectual he seems. If you want proof, listen to his commentary on the Fight Club DVD. And how about him -- in the mini-documentary contained on the 25th Hour DVD -- proclaiming He Got Game as one of the best films released in the past 20 years? I like the film and all, but that's just a bit of an overstatement there, Ed. Brian Cox does a great job as well. I was disappointed he got such little screentime, because he's terrific in everything he does. I'd be remiss if I didn't metion the "funny you should say that" exchange in the nightclub between former NFL lineman Tony "The Goose" Siragusa and Norton. It's a great piece of dialogue; and who knew Siragusa had such great acting chops?

What I disliked: surpisingly, I was disappointed by Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of Jacob. He seemed stuck somewhere, as though he was unsure whether to make Jacob appear tragic or just a poor schmuck (though, to be fair, he's the only one in the nightclub scene who appears remotely drunk. My conjecture is that he probably was). Barry Pepper's acting is good in the film, but the script has him acting like such an over-the-top bastard at times that it's often hard to watch. The scene between him and Hoffman overlooking Ground Zero is well-shot, but his dialogue is so confrontational that one surmises Hoffman's character would in real life punch him in the face or walk out of his apartment. The honor for worst performance of the film goes to Rosario Dawson. She's one sweet piece of eye-candy, but she can't act to save her ass. My final criticism of the film is that most of the characters are unlikeable. Take Monty, for instance. During the movie I didn't once find myself hoping that he wouldn't go to prison (until the end, that is, and only because I liked his father so much). Contrast that with Ed Norton's portrayal of Worm in Rounders. In that film, Norton plays a guy who's 10 times more of a scumbag than Monty -- but we like Worm. I liked Monty, but only a little. I got the feeling that, under different circumstances, he'd be a lot less filled with anger and a lot more fun to hang around with.

Overall, though, it's a good film. Definitely worth a rent.

Note: I had been looking for the DVD ever since I bypassed it when it originally went on sale. To my surprise, E-Mart has it for sale for 9,900 won. A good deal for a pretty well-packed disc (it has seperate commentaries by Lee and screenwriter Benioff, in addition to some other features). If you live in Bundang and are considering purchasing the DVD, they had at least one other copy as of Saturday.

Final Verdict

The Big Red One: Tera Patrick

25th Hour: Sky Lopez

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Write on!

Sweat the technique. 2 years old, and already a better writer than Sidney Sheldon:

Folk me? Folk you!

I finally broke down and agreed to visit the Korean Folk Village in Yong-In. If you're like me (and god forgive you if you are), the words Korean Folk Village don't exactly connote fun. I agreed, however, because it was Chuseok, and because I am quite attached to my testicles.

Let me tell you that, while it wasn't the Red Sox beating the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, it was better than expected. A lot better. The truth is, I had a blast. I mean, considering that it's a folk village and all.

After a lunch of stir-fry noodles and various fried things, we took the bus to Yong-In. Our visit was aces, but man was that bus ride a pain in the ass. Apparently, everyone else decided that today was the absolute perfectest day to head out that way, too. Cliched simile: we were packed tighter than sardines in a tin can.

Slight digression:

I really need to buy a car, but I'm putting it off as long as I possibly can, which will likely be the day my daughter comes home from school, crying because she was taunted for the fact that her old man doesn't have a set of wheels. We can't have that. I remember one kid who attended my junior high: his name was Steven, and, because his parents were against the evils of television, he didn't have a set at home. Naturally, everyone called him "No TV Stevie." I can't have kids calling my daughter "No Honda Rhonda."

(No, her name isn't really Rhonda. It's Rowena.)


We arrived shortly before noon and ended up staying until dusk. A fun time was had by all, particularly the little girl. As you can see in the following photos, she got to show off her snazzy hanbok dress. What you can't see in the photos, however, is that I'm not wearing any underwear.

Note to Folk Village People: get your fucking act together and clean up the strollers you rent out. Better yet, buy new ones. They were all filthy with sand and dirt, and were piled in a shed which resembled a baby stroller junkyard. My only real gripe of the day.

Here's me tying to the Magic Rope -- or whatever the hell it's called -- a piece of paper on which I wrote my biggest wish. My wife says it won't come true if I tell, but screw it: I wrote "get my whites whiter."

The little girl doesn't look very happy here...

That's better. Love that fake smile. Amazing what a promise of candy can accomplish. I think that's what the US needs to dangle in front of Kim Jong Il. I bet he'd drop any plans for further nuclear proliferation in favor of some Skittles. Taste the rainbow, Kim Jong Il.

A cow. He's actually happier than he looks. I gave him a killer stock tip. After that, he was quite bullish.

(Thank you, ladies and germs. I'll be here all night. Try the sirloin.)

Please ignore the sandals. Please. I know they don't exactly compliment the outfit. I wish I had a valid excuse for wearing them. The truth is, though, that I'm a heathen. Those are the same sandals I wore during my wedding ceremony.

(No, not really. And my daughter's name isn't really Rowena. It's Spencer.)

The little one's reaction when I told her that Grover isn't a real monster, and instead just some fabric with a couple of hands shoved up his ass.

And here she is living out the fantasy of many.

"Thank you very much for enjoying your meal with our heart"? I knew I tasted something strange. Besides the kimchi*, I mean.

*I love kimchi, but that joke was too good to pass up, and "reconstituted squid by-products" didn't have the same ring to it.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Memory Lane (Part 0.5)

Apropos of nothing:

One label given to expatriate workers in Korea -- or rather, more specifically, given to western expatriate workers in Korea, most of whom are likely ESL teachers -- is that they couldn't cut it "back home." In defense of the majority of the expats I've met while here, that's a harsh accusation. But maybe that's because I've been fortunate enough to meet so many unique and talented individuals. Truth be told, I've encountered my share of fuck-ups; but the ratio between the former and the latter -- and this is being conservative -- is about 4:1. I've met doctors and lawyers, and I've also met drug addicts and thieves. Still, though I can by no means authoritatively claim it as 100% truth, I think there are far more qualified (or at least competent) workers here than there are egregiously incompetent ones.

Me? I consider myself extremely qualified and experienced. I've done well for myself over the past half decade. As for whether or not I could cut it "back home"...I have no idea. See, I came to Korea shortly after graduating university. Korea is the only country in which I have ever been gainfully employed.

This is my story:

Friday, September 16, 2005


As evidenced by the lack of updates over the past few days, I've been feeling as lethargic as...someone prone to lethargy (see, I can't even be bothered to come up with a witty simile). My deepest apologies to my 1 constant reader (I love you, Mom). Hopefully I'll break out of this creative funk I'm in, and in no time be back to writing the succinct and insightful posts my readership has come to expect. If not, it's time for Plan B: posting random images of scantily-clad, sexy women.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Greatest Television Show In History

For its longevity, its influence on a number of generations, its positive messages of equality, and for giving birth to the concept of edutainment, Sesame Street deserves to be called the best television show ever created. One of the perks of being a father is that I now have an excuse to watch it again.

The JZA/Jenius, Jim Henson:

So Fresh, So Clean

Reason no. 168 of Why I Love Being a Father: every evening after I arrive home from work, my wife gives the 18th Letter a bath, and, afterwards, the little one insists that I dry her off and wrap her in her towel so that she can chant "toga!"

(up next: have her recite the "nothing is over!" line when her mother tells her it's time for bed)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Constantine -- A Review

I love comic books. I haven't read one in almost 2 years (and haven't read them regularly for over 6 years), but I still check out comic book websites, etc. every now and then, to read about what's happening in comicdom. I'm a Marvel guy...never was interested in DC Comics, because they traditionally didn't have the pathos or humanity which are staples of Marvel characters. I'm sure it has been said a million times: Spider-Man's a teenage nerd, Superman's an alien who is invincible. Of the two, who is more interesting to follow? That's a rhetorical question.

DC, though, is the company that has produced the Greatest Comics Story Ever Told: Watchmen. So they deserve some props. If you've never read it, do yourself a favor and steal it from your local bookstore/comics shop.

And they (DC) have received a lot of acclaim for titles from their adult-oriented Vertigo line, such as Preacher and Hellblazer. So DC has that going for them. Which is nice.

Constantine is the film adaptation of Hellblazer. I've never read it, but that in the past hasn't stopped me from liking adaptations of comics which I've never followed. 2003's Hellboy, for example, is a film that I'm quite fond of, even though I've never read an issue of the comic. It's a tad flawed, sure, but it's fun as hell, and the FX are spectacular (Ron Pearlman is awesome in the titular role, as well).

Constantine, on the other hand, is a terribly flawed movie that is about as fun as trying on pants at a department store: it's not an excrutiatingly horrible experience, but neither is it a remarkably fun one.

The movie begins with some Mexican dude finding the Spear of Destiny, which, according to legend, pierced the side of Jesus while he was on the cross. It's wrapped in a Nazi flag.

(Because everyone knows that the Nazis, after that whole Ark fiasco, would think it wise to hide dangerous shit like that. In Mexico.)

He picks it up and begins a damnable journey towards Los Angeles. It's an admirable Ashton Kutcher impression.

Next we are introduced to John Constantine, played by the inimitable Keanu Reeves. I'm going to go against popular opinion by stating that I actually like the right role. He did a good job in the Matrix flicks; his performance as Johnny Utah in Point Break is, in a word, absolutely fucking awesome; and who can forget him as the French-Canadian goaltender in the Rob Lowe hockey movie, Youngblood?

Not to mention: Ted "Theodore" Logan. That alone should guarantee his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And, possibly, his induction to the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame.

The problem here is that Constantine is supposed to be an asshole, but Reeves's performance just doesn't jibe with the well-written (in parts) dialogue. He comes across as a likeable guy, rather than a prick. During the film I kept thinking how great it would have been had Constantine been played by someone such as Robert Carlyle (which also, I believe, would have been more faithful to the Hellblazer comic book, in which John Constantine is a Brit).

Constantine kills half-demons that walk the earth. During Career Week in the eighth grade, I considered doing the same, but chose "male stripper" instead. As an adolescent, able to see half-demons, he attempted suicide and was sent to Hell (aka the Department of Motor Vehicles) for 2 minutes. Afterwards, he began fighting against the forces of Hell, in an attempt to kiss up to God and hopefully gain entrance to Heaven (aka Wal-Mart). He's aided by supporting characters such as Midnite, Father Hennessy (great name to give a priest with a drinking problem), and Beeman. The movie doesn't go to any great lengths to explain exactly how Constantine got to know these blokes, nor what exactly his working relationship with them is.

But that's the least of its problems. The editing and pacing are horrible. And there are no nude shots of Rachel Weisz's boobies. What a gyp!

The meat and potatoes (or, in this case, the stale bread and cocktail weenie) centers around Lucifer's son's attempt to use the Spear of Destiny to claim Earth as his own, thusly subjecting multitudes of people -- the bastard -- to episodes of The Wade Robson Project (though, to be fair, in HD).

Problem is, we don't get to see Mammon (what a ghey name), Lucifer's son. Another gyp!

Tilda Swinton (aka Kate Blanchet's doppelganger) does a nice job as the archangel Gabriel, and Peter Stormare is equally great as Satan; but neither salvage the fact that the film is a bore.

The Verdict: if you're at home sick, this is passable. Otherwise, don't bother.

Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew...

Last night, while out on the town, a friend and I were served raw potatoes as a side dish. "Don't eat them! Raw potatoes are dangerous to eat!" I warned. "How do you know that?" my friend asked. The truth is, I don't remember where I heard that eating potatoes raw is unhealthy. Maybe it was satan speaking to me in my dreams. He does that quite a lot. Him and Liberace. Anyway, I did some research and found this from

Q. Is it safe to eat raw potatoes?
A. Yes. Some consider raw potatoes a nice treat.

But then I found this, from

Potatoes are edible (if not very palitable) raw, but are slightly toxic. A few people do die from eating raw potatoes each year somewhere in the world but this is usually because they have been improperly stored and have started to sprout. It is in the eyes and the sprouting parts that the toxins are concentrated.

So I guess they potentially are dangerous, but the chance of dying from eating raw potatoes at a restaurant is almost nil.

The real question is, "why the fuck would anybody want to eat raw potatoes?" They're nasty like hell is hot.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Satin Rules!

I admire a man with conviction: someone who, though it may be an unpopular opinion, will speak his mind, passionately. But there of course is a line which must be drawn between noble belief and sheer, utter stupidity. Suicide bombers and genocidal despots are two examples of the latter.

Walking home, I noticed a grafitto poorly sprayed at the entrance to an underground pass. It read 독도는 우리땅!!! (Dokdo is our land!!!). Now, without getting into the politics of the islets involved, I have to say:

why the fuck would you desecrate a part of your own country (even if it is a dirty underpass) in protest against the Japanese, especially since -- let's be honest here -- your country certainly isn't besting theirs in terms of cleanliness and presentability?

One would do better to, for example, boycott Sony. Or firebomb the Japanese embassy (with, uh, disapproving stares).

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Internet is Informative pt. I

If you have the time, do yourself a favor and check out this site:

I won't give away what it's about, but the URL should give you some sort of clue. Controversies, books, amusing has it all.

A sampling:

[from the FAQ]:

Question: I want to learn Contact Juggling what do I do?

Answer: To learn Contact Juggling all you need is a desire to learn and a ball.

I have two. Am I overqualified?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Tenacious D

Kanye West -- Late Registration: A Review

[Warning: I hope you don’t mind an assault of brief digressions and parentheses, because this review has got a fuckload of ‘em. If you’re only interested in how the new CD sounds, and not my fanatic, perhaps incoherent, ramblings on everything but the kitchen sink, I suggest you scroll down past the next six or so paragraphs to the nitty-gritty review.]

Today while browsing DVDs near Samsung Plaza – trying to determine whether or not to purchase The Machinist and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, two films I haven’t seen (I rarely buy a DVD unless I’m certain that I’ll enjoy it and watch it at least a few times) – I was pleasantly surprised to see that Kanye West’s new album, Late Registration, had been released. I knew that it was due out at the beginning of September, but because of the recent (shitty) weather, I’ve convinced myself that it’s still mid-July. Anyway, I decided to pass on the DVDs for another time (much to the surprise and happiness of my wife) in favor of the CD, which was a sure bet. The album currently has a score of 88 on, and Rolling Stone (yes, I know, Rolling Stone is about as accurate with their reviews as The Source is with theirs. Still.) gave it a five-star rating.

I’m not very surprised. West’s freshman disc, The College Dropout, is, in my opinion, the best commercial hip-hop album released in the past...shit, I don’t know, 10 years? Seriously, what compares to it? The Blueprint? Close, but no cigar. The only albumss that seriously compete are Outkast’s last 4 efforts. However, I don’t consider ATLiens and Aquemini entirely commercial (you’ll note from this review that I don’t see a commercial album as detestable, rather a necessary part of music, and any art form for that matter. But maybe, in the immortal words of the recently-sighted Joe Pesci, that’s because I’m fucked up); Stankonia is fantastic, but I realized a few months ago that it hasn’t aged well, and that I rarely think to throw it on anymore; and while Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is an amazing album/experience, I still prefer Dropout. The funny thing is that I don’t want to like it more: I love Outkast about as much as I love tuna sandwiches (which is to say that I like them quite a lot). But I have no control over what I want to hear.

The reason might be that Speakerboxx/TLB is a double-album, and, to be digested it takes a time commitment which I am unable these days to devote to it. Dropout, on the other hand, is about half as long, and, hence, easier to spend time with. If they were girls, the former would be a drop-dead gorgeous, high-maintenance chick to whom one would have to divest a lot of time, mental energy and cash (that shit cost me USD 32 bucks when it was first released) to keep happy in the hopes of eventually getting some steady; the latter would be a cool-ass college girl who likes to watch sports, occasionally picks her nose unabashedly, is into casual sex, and who can, in turn, drink from a beer bong and discuss the current state of the world.

So...I think very highly of Kanye’s first album. Yes, it’s commercial, but it’s definitely not your average commercial record, or what passes for commercial hip-hop these days. I mentioned in my last post that I don’t like the fact that Little Brother is being touted as the saviors of hip-hop -- because there’s nothing wrong with hip-hop. Shit ain’t broken. Yes, there’s more wack shit these days, both in the mainstream and in the underground, but, as Aesop Rock so aptly stated, “what you’re holdin’ ain’t really broken.” Hip-hop is still here. In the immortal words of KRS-ONE, it will be here forever. Forever and ever, ever and ever, it will be here. Forever.

Case in point: The College Dropout. To tell the truth, I feel like a dickhead for making up excuses as to why the album is both commercial and good. KFC is commercial and good, and no one is shitting on them. Except maybe vegans and PETA freaks.

And, as an aside, for the underground heads: El-P’s Fantastic Damage is the best "pure" hip-hop album produced in the last 10 years (an album which I’m willing to state is sonically as good, if not better, than PE’s It Takes a Nation of Millions). Hip-hop’s just fine, dunny.

Of course, there are some who would argue that Dropout is a piece of shit, and that Kanye West is an egotistical bastard (so was/is KRS, and he’s a legend, possibly the greatest rapper ever). To you I say: you can no longer play in my sandbox. And don’t bother trying to swap sandwiches with me at lunch. Every part of The College Dropout, from its music down to its album cover, is genius. ‘Nuff said.


And with that, it’s on to the review of Late Registration. I wrote the above before listening to a single song on the new album. Let’s see how it stacks up:

The Album Cover: Nice. The CD’s cover popped up online about 3 months ago, and at the time I thought it looked horrible, too comical. But it’s actually pretty nice. Maybe they darkened it a bit or something. A good continuation of the first album’s theme. With guitars!

Track 1: Wake Up Mr. West

A brief and comical intro -- bonus props for the Back to the Future homage -- that mirrors the intro from the first album. I’m happy that the long-ass intros of years past have gone the way of the dinosaur. There used to be nothing worse than popping on a new tape or CD and having to sit through a intro that went on for what seemed like 3 days. Blame Prince Paul.

Track 2: Heard ‘Em Say

Nice piano keys. Nice bass line. That piano grows on you, too. It’s not The Symphony or Knuckleheadz, but it has a nice bounce. Bonus points for the way the track briefly mutates at the end. Minus points: the dude from Maroon 5 crooning over the chorus. It’s not terrible, but upon initial listen it irks a tad. By the way, did the guy purposefully model his vocals after Jamiroquai’s Jay Kay? The only time I’ve ever heard Maroon 5 was when they were the musical guests on Saturday Night Live, and at the time all I could think of was “I guess the dude from Jamiroquai hooked up with a new band.” I was shocked to discover the next day that he had also changed his name to Adam Levine.

Track 3: Touch the Sky

Oh snap! Someone finally sampled Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Move On Up.’ Why has it taken so long? Must have been the tempo. Seriously, the original is one of my favorite songs of all time. I’m at odds...I like how he used various portions of the song, most notably the original’s bridge. Don’t like hearing Mayfield’s voice beneath the lyrics, though. And the rapping is a little off-beat with the chopped up percussion. It’s decent. The chorus grows on me. Still, dude kind of fucked up ‘Move On Up.’ For a lesson in how to do a classic soul song justice when sampling it, he should peep ‘Can I Live’ (which samples Isaac Hayes’s amazing ‘Walk On By’) from Jay-Z’s debut, Reasonable Doubt.

Track 4: Gold Digger

[Ah, here’s the track I’ve been hearing about. Apparently FLOW 93.7 in Toronto (holy shit! Toronto finally has an urban music radio station! The poles surely will reverse any day now) has edited the song so that the lyrics “white girl” cannot be heard. Because, you know, “white girl” is a dirty word.]

After the sampling near-debacle that was the last track, I was very relieved that this song didn’t rehash EPMD’s identically-titled song from their album Business As Usual. The beat is nice (I only have a handful of adjectives when describing hip-hop beats. Needless to say, “nice” is my favorite). A compelling drum track helps propel a vocal sample, which takes the place of a melody. And then it kicks it up a notch (thanks again, Emeril) during the second verse with some jabbing and stabbing synth hits. Sweet. The humor reminds me a bit of Bitties in the BK Lounge from De La Soul...Is Dead). The best track of the album so far.

Track 5/6: Drive Slow

A brief skit preludes this song, fucking up the disc/liner notes track listing. I hate that. The song uses a sample that sounds eerily familiar to Eminem’s ‘No One’s Iller Than Me*’ The saxophone adds some ambience. Mediocre.

* It is indeed the same sample: Hank Crawford’s ‘Wild Flower’

Track 7: My Way Home

Is it just me, or does Common sound like he’s falling asleep when he’s rapping? Not only on this song, but on every song he’s been on since Resurrection (De La’s ‘The Business’ not included). It’s a dope (see, I have more words than “nice” to use to describe a song) track, the further pussification of Common notwithstanding. Kanye doesn’t rhyme on it, which, I’m shocked to say on a track featuring Common, is disappointing. Man, Common really has become Kanye's bitch, huh? The beat mutates at the end, and I was pleased that it didn’t go on any longer than it does, because, while still a good (there are those million-dollar adjectives again) track/interlude, it’s an anchor threatening to sink the album’s ambience. Thank god the following track is:

Track 8: Crack Music

The Game (the rapper, not the WWE’s Triple H) makes an appearance here. If you haven’t heard his debut CD, The Documentary, do yourself a favor and go and purchase it. It’s solid like my dooks after a pizza binge.

Both a consciously-charged shot at the government and a sober look in the mirror at today's hip-hop. The beat goes on far after the lyrics, but it allows for some reflection (and nose-picking). The Game only provides the chorus. This is the song that is growing quickest upon me. AGAIN, the beat swerves and curves near the end. Looks like dude is making that his new signature.

Track 9: Roses

I know you like to think your shit don’t stink/but lean a little bit closer and roses really smell like poo-poo-oooohhh!
Sorry, I thought for a sec that I was reviewing a different song.

Initially I thought the song was a straight poetry reading. Then the beat kicks in with numerous R&B crooners (one of whom I think is Cee-Lo, though if it is he’s uncredited. I used to like his singing, but it grates on my nerves these days. Go back to rapping, fat man. Or rejoin Goodie M.O.B.)

Track 10: Bring Me Down aka That Song With Brandy

The difference between other peon producers and Kanye West? West has better drum tracks on his R&B-tinged joints. Seriously, I wanted to punch this song in the face until the drums kicked in. Then I only wanted to slap it around a little. It’s a sub-par song, no doubt, but it has potential staying power because of those drums.

Track 11: Addiction

Rolling Stone gave this album 5 stars? Seriously? This song sucks. No, really, it sucks. It sounds like a song Kanye might come up with while in the studio at 4am, half asleep and possibly high on drugs. Shitty-music-making drugs. I can’t take it anymore. This song goes on for 4 minutes and 26 seconds too long.

(This album needs Captain Save-a-Hoe. It’s good, but...)

Track 12/13: Diamonds from Sierra/Sergio Leone (Remix)

I’m so witty. Let’s hope this song doesn’t suck...

...Dope. Love the political statement. Love the Bond sample. Only criticism: West’s interpolation of Andre 3000’s “forever” chant (from 'Ms. Jackson') goes on too long, so that he sounds like a hyperactive, spoiled kid. It’s annoying.

Track 14: We Major

Possibly the best song of the album. And a sweet guest verse by The Artist Formerly Known as Nas. I have to admit that when the beat first started I didn’t like it very much, but got into it after about 20 seconds. I love the song for its length, too (it’s about 7 minutes). I'm dying for West to do a collaboration with The Mars Volta. THEN we'll see some shit. Another track where the beat changes – slightly, in this case – at the end.

Track 15: Hey Mama

It’s getting a little dusty in here. Props to Kanye for not putting on the “a very special episode of…” voice on for this song. It’s no 'Dear Mama', but few sentimental “I love my moms” songs are. Extra bonus points awarded here because West sings the hook and seriously does a good job of it.

Track 16: Celebration

This song reminds me of another song...I just can’t at the moment recall what it is. Nice synths on the track. It’s not really a track more than it is a playful pseudo-closer (there’s a bonus track, see). It’s 20 times briefer and a lot more welcome than the "overstayed its welcome" outro on The College Dropout (thought that beat was a tad better).

Track 17: Gone

This song maybe should have been placed before 'Celebration' for better cohesiveness (something which Registration lacks considerably when placed next to Dropout), but whatever. An above-average track: nice soul hook, nice subtle piano stabs. Will probably grow on me, but for now I think it should have been placed a lot earlier on the album. Unless it’s supposed to be considered a bonus track (though the liner notes don’t list it as one).

Bonus Track: Diamonds of Sierra Madre/Leone

Same beat as the “remix,” but with no Jay-Z. And there’s no conflict diamonds commentary here as far as I can tell.

Bonus Track no. 2: We Can Make It Better

Seriously, what’s the fucking point of putting a bonus track on your CD if it sounds as though it could fit in anywhere on the disc? If dude made a rockabilly song, I’d understand, but this makes no sense: it's not a hidden track; if one lets the disc play, one'll hear it. This has become commonplace, at least on hip-hop CDs. Dumb.

The Verdict:

It’s a good album. Not great, no matter how much I want it to be. It doesn’t flow as nicely as his previous album, and there are a few tracks that range from “mildly disappointing” to “completely un-fucking-listenable” (I’m looking at you, 'Addiction'). But, much like The College Dropout (which I only sort of liked upon first listen), I have an impulse to listen to this again, and soon. Maybe my overall opinion of it will change over time. Two things, however, are certain: even though it comes close in places, it’s not nearly as good as his first CD, and Rolling Stone is either taking payola or smoking rock.

Sparkles’s rating: 4/5

Friday, September 02, 2005

Gun Radish and the Way of the Watermelon

Some random thoughts on a humid Friday night...

1) Regardless of what you might think of their politics (i.e. "kill whitey"), if you've never heard it before do yourself a favor and listen to Dead Prez's Hip Hop. If you have heard it before, listen to it again. I realize that the song was released over 6 years ago, but it's still the illest beat ever. When a rumor was going about recently that Nas had bought a beat from the Neptunes for over 6 million dollars (or something like that), I thought "it can't be better than the beat for Hip Hop, no way."

Who produced said beat? Answer: Dead Prez is credited, with Hedrush given a co-production credit (the beat was probably bought from them is why).

And since I boldly had to go there and claim it as the illest beat, here's the shortlist of tracks that come almost as close to topping it:

[note: just the beat, not the lyrics, etc.]

- Public Enemy No. 1 (Public Enemy, Yo! Bumrush the Show)

- Slow Down (Brand Nubian, One For All)

- Sour Times (Portishead, Dummy)

- Mary Jane (Rick James, Come Get It!)

- Top Billin' (Audio 2, What More Can I Say?)

That's how it is. You can ask Giz.

(my apology to Edie Brickell for listing a song which samples her hit "What I Am," rather than the original; as well as an apology to Bob James for not listing "Take Me To The Mardi Gras.")

2) If you think I'm way off base with the above, please note that I also consider Eli Wallach's portrayal of Tuco from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly to be possibly the greatest character portrayal in a movie, ever. Only Yoda comes a close second.

3) Word on the Street is that Little Brother's The Minstrel Show is a classic record. I don't really know what to say about that. I'm not a fan of Little Bro, but only because I haven't even listened to their first album, The Listening. I like the few songs I've heard that 9th Wonder has produced for other artists such as Masta Ace and Jay-Z, but the two MCs, Phonte and Pooh, do nothing for me (though the lyrics I heard from Minstrel seemed a step-up).

What I don't like about this situation, though, is Little Brother being forced upon me by mainstream and underground outlets alike, as though they're here to save hip-hop. I think it's up to the fans to determine that one, thank you very much. I remember another few groups that, in the recent past, were at one time touted as being the Saviors of Hip-Hop. They were Slum Village and the Black-Eyed Peas. The former -- once, inconceivably, heralded as Native Tongue torch-bearers -- is a good cure for insomnia, while the latter is hip-hop's answer to Limp Bizkit: a group that couldn't hack it on their own terms and which had to pander to the lowest common denominator to make it big.

Forgive me for being a little cynical for believing that LB isn't the next De La or Tribe. Know who's the next De La or Tribe? The Roots. They've released 5 major-label records. Show 'em some fucking love.

(I'm still gonna buy The Minstrel Show when it's available, and I hope I eat crow.)

4) Lastly, 2 e-mails. The first is from my brother, the second from a "teacher" whom I once worked with. They're quite a read. Both are unedited, by the way. I hope you have as much fun reading them as I did.

Hey Jerk x 2,

젨젨 It's a:?You are an ugly, cunt, cum bubble, who jacks off so much your skinny rod has been mistaken for ichiban! And you would rather suck dick than eat breakfast!?I've seen some pretty gay looking gays. But you're the gayest of the gay, you gay! Wynonna Judd says you love to do the gravy train!


hey just to let?everybody know whatsa up. this is a bulk email so it is derected to a lot of people

**** and i left taiwan and we were in a hurry to leave. we packed and left in the same day we had a lot to do that day and on the way to do things **** had a car accicdent nobody was hurt but we had to pay NT$ 3,000 to the lady whose car **** hit. we went to a travel agent to get tickets and we couldn't get a flight to alaska or denver that night so we flew to LA after ariving in La we tried to get a rental car but **** left her drivers license in taiwan so we couldn't pick one up. so at 2am outside of LAX i had to drag our 4 bags and 2 carry ons across the parking lot to a hotel if you know where LAX airport is its near inglwood, watts and compton not the best neighborhoods. we found a hotel and stayed there 3 nights waiting for ****'s mother to fed ex us her drivers licens from taiwan but it was a pretty bad area even in the day

one time we were walking across the street to 7/11 and **** asked me why thyese 6 black guys were sitting out side whereing all?the same color clothes (gang bangersa)she asked don't they have jobs.? i told her not to point and the next day we US$80 to take a cab to hollwood to a different hotel with no wheels LA was hard to get around we took a bus at random trying to find an internet place and finally found one but we had to wait at a cfe for a couple hours before they opened and there where a truck load of guys with each other making out?with each other well the next day we got the fedex package and pickup a rental car.

we drove to Las vagus and blow 70 bucks on the rolet table an rhode the roller coaster on top of new york new york hotel then drove to denver to meet a old friend from taiwan he is a super guy he has this giant (bigger than i have ever seen including at strores) Tv with 5.1 surround sound system he hooked me up with 3 different kinds of bud. we stayed with him for a couple days and went to 6 flags in denver. we rhode all the coasters ahad a smoke on the farris wheel and then him **** and his womna rhode a thing that they put you into a harnest and pull you up 10 stories then you pull the rip cord and flylike super man. (i chikened out and shot the vidio instead of riding) super time

then we drove the rental car down to texas and dropped it off in corpus christi texas where my uncle lives. we stayed with him and helped him out washing cars and stuff we went to alot of baseball games ther they have a minor league team and my uncle always hooked us up with free tickets. we bought a car from him a 2000 ford toras and we drove it up to indiana it will be my grandmothers birthday soon so we will stay for that and try to sell that car here my uncle has dealer friends here so as soon as we sell it we can get some more cheap and try to flip them next

we still plan on going to atlanta to see a buddy from taiwan as well but no time frame for that and we will go this week to the biggest amusment park in the USA its in ohio a 3 hoiur drive only one problem i have ran out of smokeables if anybody knows some cool people in detrot, chicago, or any place with in a 5 hour drive plaes let me know my lungs are feeling to healthy!!!!!!!

well thats about all from our trip so far

keep in touch

*** and ****