Monday, October 31, 2005

Little Brother -- The Minstrel Show: Review

Damn, I fell for it again. I should have learned my lesson after suffering through watered down major label releases from once-reliable (when they weren't on majors, naturally) groups such as Jurassic 5, Blackalicious, and Dilated Peoples. The fact of the matter is this: these days it is impossible to drop a classic or near-classic record on a major unless you have had previous success (see Outkast), or are connected to those who have (see Common).

I had read a few very positive reviews of The Minstrel Show, however, and knew about the controversy regarding the ratings the album garnered in The Source (1991-1997, R.I.P.) and XXL magazines. For those unaware, both mags initially were to going to rate, respectively, the album 4 1/2 mics (5 being the highest) and XXL (the highest possible rating); that is until politics and other bullshit (or so I've read) led to XXL giving it an XL rating, and The Source's editorial higher-ups demanding a 4-mic rating. Apparently cooler heads prevailed (depending on how you look at it), and the 4 1/2 mics stood.

A win for the underdog, right? Problem here is that this album isn't worthy of such a high rating, especially from the hip-hop equivalent of The National Inquirer. When you take into account the fact that 'Lil Kim's most recent effort, The Naked Truth, achieved a 5-mic "classic" rating, you know the bar at "The Sauce" is set pretty damn low.

Hey, I really wanted to like this album. I travelled into Gangnam yesterday with the sole purpose being me buying the damn thing. What a mistake. It is definitely not a CD to sacrifice a Sunday afternoon trying to cop it over. I should have played basketball or asked my wife to teach me how to use an abacus.

"Many people tell me this style is terrific
It is kinda different but let's get specific":

1) Welcome to the Minstrel Show

Intro. While not a concept album in the strictest sense, the CD's theme revolves around the fictional The Minstrel Show, a sitcom airing on UBN (U Black Niggas, an obvious reference to UPN). It's a good intro to the album. I haven't been able to get the jingle out of my head for 2 days.

2) Beautiful Morning

It's got a great beat, but did they really need to craft a song about what it's like gaining marginal success and getting signed to a major label? Imagine a fresh, young Hollywood director making a film about what it's like to become a director in Hollywood. Yawn. It's been done to death. In this case, the old addage "don't sing it, bring it" rings true. Hey, I'm happy for you guys, I really am. But I couldn't care less about what it feels like for you to be living your dream. Is this supposed to be innovative?

3) The Becoming

Again, a solid beat by 9th Wonder is slightly overshadowed by a tired song idea, namely the history of the group.

4) Enough

This sounds like it would be (or is) the album's first single. Because it has an R&B hook. Despite that fact, it's reasonably dope -- only again the subject of the song (people criticizing, complaining, and hating on them because of their success) is tired and boring. Jesus, for all this introspection they should have made a song about how Foot Locker doesn't carry their size sneakers, or the gas they get after dinner at Sizzler.

5) Cheatin'

A humorous R&B track by Percy Miracles, who is the alter-ego of Phonte, I think. It's a humorous song, and actually well-produced; but for a piss-take it goes on way, way, way to long (clocking in at over 3 1/2 minutes). It slows the album the fuck down.

6) Hiding Place

It's ironic that this song, which is about nothing more than how dope the MCs (and guest Elzhi, who, surprisingly, steals the show) are, is a refreshing break from all the navel-gazing. Good song. So far all the beats have been tight. And I could love an album filled with barnyard noises as long as the beats are dope.

7) Slow It Down

About relationships and finding a dependable woman. A good beat, but, man, fuck off with the R&B hooks, okay? Let me get this straight: the album title is in reference to the current state of hip-hop music, where artists are being pimped by labels and black culture isn't being dictated by black artists, but by the labels who sign them. OK, I'm with you. But then why do you then allow yourself to be similarly pimped? C'mon, there's no way LB had 100% creative control on this record. Did they realize that and make the album anyway, hoping it would be for a greater good? If so, I feel sorry for them, because this album isn't going wood. They'll be dropped like so many before them because their street buzz didn't equal record sales. Let's hope they only signed a one-album deal, or else we're likely to be subjected in the future to a crappy follow-up, possibly succeeded by a rushed out Litte Brother: The Greatest Hits, containing about 7 or 8 songs from 2 albums. Hey, it's happened before. Just ask the Fu-Schnickens.

8) Say It Again

I like the almost steel drum-sounding percussive melody on this track. It's a fun song, not overly serious. Not great, but good. I should mention here that Phonte is a dope MC. His style is plantains, meaning it's almost bananas. It's obvious Black Thought had a major influence on him. Great cadence. The other MC, Rapper Big Pooh....uh...

9) 5th and Fashion

Skit. Stupid.

10) Lovin' It

Can't these guys come up with some better song titles? This is the album's first really disappointing song. The hook is annoying as hell, and guest MC Joe Scudda's verse is laughably wack. A slow, boring song.

11) Diary of A Mad Black Daddy

Another fucking skit. Not as stupid as the previous one. Still pretty stupid, though.

12) Duck-billed Hunchback Calculator

Just kidding, but that's a better title than the boring and redundant All For You

It's got a fresh topic (for this album, at least): fathers and sons and their relationships. The beat becomes a little too repetative and overstays its welcome. Decent beat, but nothing to write home to Marley Marl over. I should mention that I consider 9th Wonder slightly overrated. The dude can craft a serviceable beat, but he's far from being the second coming of Primo.

13) Watch Me

Another mundane track. Slow. I don't know which is wacker: the song or my review of it. Only saving grace is DJ Jazzy Jeff's guest scratching at the end.

14) Sincerely Yours

Shame on you, LB, for soiling the legacy of Kool G Rap by naming this track after G Rap's classic [edit: I'm an idiot. The Kool G Rap classic is of course titled Truly Yours]. This is a Big Pooh solo joint where he addresses his critics who say his style pales in comparison to Phonte's, and that he's the weak link of the crew. Problem is, the critics are right. I was pleasantly surprised at Phonte's skills as an MC. On the other hand, Pooh's a letdown. LB would be more effective as Phonte and 9th Wonder. There, I said it. Also, it's not smart to alienate your white audience by making fun of them, especially when they're the majority of the people buying your records. Warrants mentioning.

15) Still Lives Through

Ill-conceived ATCQ homage track, replete with annoying Busta Rhymesesque (I've always wanted to write that) "oh my god!" shouts during the chorus. Take away the chorus and it'd be all right, I suppose. I should have executive produced this fucking CD.

16) Minstrel Show Closing Theme

Outro. Utilizes the same beat as the intro, with a slightly different jingle. As good as an outro can be.

17) We Got Now

No, you don't. Still, I can't front, that's a very dope beat.

Another note: I find it hilariously funny that guest MC, Chaundon (remember when MCs had creative names? Me, too. Sigh), says something about "seize every moment", but the lyrics in the liner notes have it as "cease every moment." Rich.

Reading over this review, I realize I've been far too kind to this record. At one point I wrote that the album is "fairly decent." It isn't. In fact, when the wheels fall off around track 9, it's borderline wack. Don't believe the hype. If this is considered a classic album by the next generation of hip-hop fans, I am very worried for the music's future.

Final verdict: 3 *_*/5 *_*

Saturday, October 29, 2005

On the mend

What a difference a day makes. The swelling on my forehead has gone down enough for me to again show my face in public (pretend that that's a good thing). Last night the wife was giddy because the mosquito bite looked like a tit. I was considerably less enthused, but also a little turned on.

Because I'm feeling gregarious, here's what I dressed up as for Halloween over the years:

1981: Darth Vader. I had a high fever and fell in a ditch. It wasn't the fever that did it, however; it was that fucking mask.

1982: Superman. I got the idea and my mom made the costume. My older brother, the biter, also insisted on going as Supes. I had a broken leg at the time, and he looked taller and cooler than I did. No fair.

1983: A skeleton. I think the costume still fits me. My mom sewed felt bones on a black bodysuit. I almost refused to go out that year because the bodysuit showed a picture of a girl doing gymnastics. After receiving a girl Cabbage Patch Kid a few months prior, I was convinced my Mom was trying to turn me into a sissy boy.

1984: Winston Smith. I wore a pair of dirty overalls and carried an empty gin bottle. Kidding. I went as a grape juice drinking box. Sadly, I was too young to come up with a line like "suck my straw."

1985: Rambo/Rocky/Cobra. I slicked back my hair with Brylcream, wore a pair of bitchin' shades, donned a pair of boxing gloves, and had a toy uzi (do they still make toy uzis?). Unfortunately, because of the gloves, I kept dropping the fucking uzi until it smashed. And the shades were a bad idea. I didn't learn my lesson with the Darth Vader mask and nearly got myself killed a half dozen times. But I looked cool. Or at least I thought I did, at the time.

1986: Werewolf. After the Vader mask and the previous year's shades, I still didn't learn my lesson. That mask was hot! And after stumbling around all night in it, it smelled like an ass. But I still have it back at my folks place. Over the following years, my brother and I would use it to scare the shit out of my little sister. I genuinely regret doing that. If I could turn back time, I would have put the mask to better use, such as donning it to hold up a liquor store.

1987: A vampire. Not much to say other than fake vampire teeth can cut your gums the fuck up. And fake blood doesn't taste nearly as good as the real thing.

1988: Zombie. I bought a make-up kit and did the job myself. In retrospect I looked more like a kid who'd been in a (minor) bike accident than one of the living dead. Plus, I don't think zombies chew gum. At least none of the ones with whom I hang out with do.

1989: The Joker. Purple suit and tie, green hair...the works, baby! I even purchased a gun to complete the effect, and shot a police commisioner's daughter, crippling her. Sadly, in the years succeeding, they didn't allow us to wear costumes at the mental hospital I was confined to until age 26. But this year I'm going all out. I have this neat explosive device and a killer ski mask...but wait! I don't want to spoil the surprise. You'll have to wait until Monday. I recommend riding the no. 7 line subway if you really want to be scared.*

* There's nothing funny about terrorism (save maybe terrorists' hygeine and accents). I know I don't need to explain myself to anyone with half a brain, but just to be extra careful, I should emphasize that the above explosive device refers to the rad Magic: The Gathering T-shirt I recently bought. It's the bomb.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Christ on a bicycle

Bloody hell. Last night I went to bed around 12:30. At a quarter past one, I awoke, my forehead itching madly. It seems that, having avoided their wrath all summer, a fucking mosquito finally preyed upon me. Last year something similar occured: while I was sleeping one bit me on the hand. That caused my hand to swell to almost twice its normal size, and I couldn't make a fist. I'm not kidding; I have an allergic reaction to mosquito bites. That was annoying, but this is downright depressing. I have a knot the size of a tangerine on my forehead, and my left eye is swollen almost completely shut. Truthfully, I look retarded. Moreso than usual. How the hell am I supposed to go outside looking like this? I'm a monster.

In an effort to cheer myself up, here are some pictures of the little girl. I hope these work until 5pm or so, which is when I'll start to drink away the pain. TGIF.

PS - Wifey kilt that them 'skeeter but real good. You go, girl.

And my personal favorite:

"Darling. Light of my life. I'm not going to hurt you. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, 'I'm not going to hurt you.' I'm just going to bash your brains in. I'm gonna bash them right the fuck in."*

* From Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, lest I be accused of child abuse.


I had heard so many positive things about the phenomenon that is ABC's drama, Lost, that I was dying to see it. The premise was inviting, right up my alley (and everyone else's, it would appear), and if there was one thing network TV needed, it was a quality show that appeals to a broad demographic. My one hope was that it somehow involved gerbils. Sadly, it doesn't; but I won't hold that against it. For now.

The show's first season run began, as you all likely know, over one year ago. But me being the me that I am, (because I'm a technological birdbrain, among other things), I didn't download it to watch. And I didn't watch it on AFN because I was working when it aired.

The show was picked up by KBS (I think it was KBS), and shown on the weekend -- but dubbed in Korean (sacrelige). I have no idea if it's still airing, but I've heard that it wasn't exactly a big hit here. Not like, say, The Scorpions.

So I waited for its eventual release on DVD. After waiting and inquiring as to when it would be released as a region 3 set, I finally lost my patience (no pun intended) and ordered the complete first season from Amazon.

It definitely lived up to my expectations. I immersed myself in the show and watched the whole thing in under two weeks, which is impressive for me, seeing as how I have a job and a family.

I will say that Lost is a very dangerous show. As intriguing as the first season is -- and subsequent seasons hopefully will be -- if the mysteries of the island, when they're revealed, don't pay off, the whole series will be tainted. I got the feeling that the writers were making stuff up as they went along. Not necessarily a bad thing, but...I read Stephen King's Dark Tower series, so I'm familiar with, and in a way protecting myself against, a possible letdown. King's mantra is that the journey is always more interesting than the conclusion, but of course it is when you introduce so many far-out ideas without having an idea as to what they will signify or how they'll connect to the plot. Watching Lost, I said to myself not a few times I really hope they thought this out, or the impact of the revelations are going to suck hard.

Certainly the man who created the show, JJ Abrams, is talented...but he's also the guy who wrote an early draft for the new Superman film in which it turns out Lex Luther is from Krypton, and which culminated in Supes fighting a robotic exoskeleton-encapsulated Luthor. Man, that's lamer than fuck.

As for Lost's innaugural season, boy does it ever shine. I'm no TV junkie, so I hope it isn't too heretic when I say that Lost is the best one-hour drama ever created for network TV. All the characters work, amazingly so, which is no mean feat when you consider that there are 14 of them to start the season. The premise is great, but without good writing the show would have floundered. Fortunately the writing is top-notch (as is the scoring, perhaps the first time, for me at least, a television show has been scored with the result that it sounds cinematic).

But you've already seen the show, and you don't need me to heap any more praise upon it. What I will do is offer up some thoughts and criticisms. If you haven't seen the show and want to jump in fresh, be forewarned: I'm not wearing anything under these Dockers. Sorry, I mean spoilers below:

- I lurve Dominic Monagahan, or whatever the fuck his name is. He could go on a murderous rampage and I'd still have a soft spot for him based on his appearances in the Lord of the Rings films. And he does a good job in the series, sometimes playing dead serious, and at others as comedic relief. But it's obvious he was cast because of his fame from the Rings trilogy. A convincing rock star and heroin addict he does not make, although the latter is ten times more believable than the former. But again, I'll give him grace because of the dues he paid as a hobbit.

- For the guys: all of the actresses are extremely gorgeous, but Emilie de Ravin (Claire) is tops. She looks like a blond Julia Roberts, only hot. Evangeline Lily (Kate) is a close second, but she's not soft enough. Maggie Grace has the prettiest face, but she squints and frowns too much. And Yunjin Kim's (Sun) nose is a tad too bulbous for my tastes. Let's not even discuss Rousseau, okay?

- For the gals: all of the actors are extremely hunky, but Ian Somerhalder (Boone) is tops. It's a shame he was killed off. Josh Holloway (Sawyer), if his acting career ever falls through, has a promising future as a professional wrestler. And Matthew Fox's (Jack) nose looks really wonky when seen in profile. Let's not even discuss Hurley, okay?

- What's up with the middle-age black woman whose husband was killed in the crash, and who made, like, 2 appearances during the season. Was she supposed to be a major character but was written out for some reason? Will we ever see her again? If yes, her frequent abscence in many episodes is poor form.

- Similarly, has anyone kept track of the extras appearing as castaways? If the show's producers know a thing or two, they'd be wise to keep it consistent. Fanatics -- of which this show will garner quite a billion -- are going to be watching for that sort of stuff. It'd be a shame if it turned out that there were over 300 different faces on the island when there's supposed to be 48 (42 by season's end, by my recollection).

- It was a wise decision to have Walt be taken away in the season's final episode. Minus Claire's child, he's the only kid on the show, and if the producers are smart they'll figure out a way for him to age. Otherwise it'll seem rather strange, 5 years from now, if the castaways are supposed to have been on the island for only a year or two, and poor Walt is an 11 or 12-year-old (and the dude who plays him must be at least 14) trapped in the body of a young adult. Either he's killed, or he comes back next season mysteriously aged.

- I understand that the castaways have razors and can shave. What I don't get it why their hair's length is in stasis. You're telling me Jack can maintain a suede head for over a month? C'mon!

I'm aware that the second season began some weeks ago, but I'll have to wait until almost a year later to get my Lost fix. There's no way I'm going to attempt catching random episodes on AFN; and same goes for downloading episodes. Because it's, uh, illegal.

I hope it's worth the wait. See you all at the 2078 Lost convention. I'll be the guy in a John Locke replica wheelchair.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Mr. 23 can't dunk on me.

Jordan felt 'used' by Wizards, surprised by firing

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Michael Jordan felt "used" by the Washington Wizards and was surprised by his firing, he told CBS' "60 Minutes'' in an interview to be broadcast Sunday.

Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles in the 1990s, was the Wizards' president from January 2000 to September 2001 before coming out of retirement for the second time to play for the Wizards through the 2003 season.

"I didn't have to [start playing again],'' Jordan said in the interview. "But I did it with the benefit of trying to help an organization to get back on their feet. And the gratitude that was given? It was 'your service is no longer wanted or needed.' So I felt like I was used in a sense.''

He was fired by Washington owner Abe Pollin after a 110-179 record in 3½years as the top decision-maker, a role Jordan kept even after returning as a player.

Jordan said he didn't see the firing coming.

"No. If that was the case, I obviously wouldn't have gone back to play,'' he said. "I felt like I played injured, I went through [knee] surgery and I did the things that a lot of these young kids did not do.''

Wizards spokesman Matt Williams said the team had no comment.

Let me get this straight: you work for an organization, you do a poor job, and you're surprised that you got fired? And you have the gall to complain that you felt you were used?

Dude, you were hired to repair the ugliness that was the Washington Bullets/Wizards franchise. You did a poor job of it, and were subsequently fired. That's what happens. What, you think just because you're Michael fuckin' Jordan that you deserve some special treatment?

I just realized that I now have 3 one-ups on MJ:

1) I've never been fired from a job. Nanners!

2) I'm not an adulterer.

3) I can spell hemorrhoid without looking it up in the dictionary.

That last one is pure conjecture on my part, by the way. And while I also realize I haven't won 6 NBA Championship rings, I ask for patience on my readers' behalf. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Monday, October 24, 2005


We found out earlier today that the little girl will not be one of the 60 of 215 (13 from Gyeonggi-do; what's up with that?) to advance in the child model search. All day I've had to console her while she asks "why they hatin', Daddy? Daddy, why they hatin'?" What can I tell her? That the people running this model search obviously have their heads so far up their own asses that they can nearly turn themselves inside-out?

I'm not going to take this lying down, no siree. I'm taking this to the streets with a grassroots campaign to...uh, make those bastards overstand the injustice they have perpetrated today.

The 18th letter will have the last laugh, I guarantee.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Psychedelic Fermented Cabbage

- Last week my wife bought a bag of what is labelled "children's" kimchi. I figured it would be non-spicy. Nope. Last Wednesday when I gave some to the little girl, she started crying, saying it was too hot. I thought it was psychological, so I tried some myself. It wasn't the spiciest kimchi I've had, but it was spicy -- too spicy for a two-year-old to eat, for sure. Who are the geniuses who labelled the package as being for children? Monsters.

- My wife made kimchi tchigae for lunch today. It was perhaps the best I've ever tasted, which came as quite a shock. See, Wifey's a passable cook, but her previous kimchi tchigae concoctions have been, shall we say, slightly above mediocre. I was dumbfounded. It was the culinary equivalent of David Schwimmer becoming an Oscar-calibre actor. Props to Wifey, this year's MIC (most improved cook).

- I asked the wife why Korea doesn't have an annual kimchi competition similar to various beer competitions the world over. Her answer was that it would never fly, that if one type of kimchi was branded "the best," the losing provinces would bitterly bitch and moan. To that I responded, "why don't they make it international? That way Korea would always win." Her look of keen interest at my suggestion was a little frightening.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Cage -- Hell's Winter: Review

El-P is a genius. Of that there can be no debate. I haven't been as big a fan of a hip-hop producer since the Rza was in his prime (before he inexplicably and lamentably went all mediocre on everyone). Every beat he creates is dope and symphonic, and he continually tries to best himself (though I get a feeling that he's saving his best tunes for his sophomore album).

So it was with great anticipation that I welcomed Cage's signing with El-P's Definitive Jux label. At the time it was announced, I think, that El would produce the majority, if not all, of the album's tracks. I've never been a huge Cage fan (though I do own The Smut Peddlers Porn Again and the Leak Bros.'s Waterworld), but with El-P on the boards, I was in 100%.

As it turns out, El-P produced or co-produced (with the impressive skills of one Camu Tao) 8 of the album's 14 tracks. But with such beatmasters as rjD2 and DJ Shadow contributing to the project, coupled with the CD getting a 4 1/2 @s review at, I was confident the album wouldn't disappoint.

Yet it does. Marginally. Let me explain:

I love and hate this album to pieces. On one hand it's a more mature effort from an artist who for too long didn't see the big picture and realize his potential; on the other, it's a step backwards. There are some sublime moments on this album, but there are also some horribly ill-conceived ones.

Take a walk with me as I scan the tracks like Gordie Lachance.

1. Good Morning

A new addition to the pantheon of "I Heart NY" songs. Great, vicseral album starter. Also a song I can dig while cleaning my house. Guaranteed to get your head bopping before breakfast.

2. Too Heavy For Cherubs

Dreamlike track about Cage's abusive father, produced by Blockhead (with an assist from El-Producto). Hypnotic and doesn't overstay its welcome.

3. Grand Ol' Party Crash

A criticism of the war in Iraq and the US government, produced by DJ Shadow. The beat is strong, superlatively so -- that is until the second verse, when it switches up and gets weighed down by keyboard sounds that dilute the drums. Waaaay overproduced. And Jello Biafra's (whoever the hell he is) Dubya impression throughout the song is annoying beyond words.

4. The Death of Chris Palko

An autobiographal track about Cage's career, produced by Central Services (El-P and Camu Tao). Bouncy. Murky. Awesome track. El-P's skills are evident at the end, when the beat metamorphoses. Regretably, it's then that Camu Tao inexplicably (an apparent theme on the album) kicks a verse that is entirely out of context.

5. Stripes

A track detailing the history of Cage's family; specifically his abusive father, Bill Murray (not the actor), a soldier dishonorably discharged for dealing heroin. Produced by Blockhead with help from El-P. It's a thoughtful track that could have been one of the album's best, except that it loses me whenever the chorus ("fuck Bill Murray/not the actor/ the deadbeat dad who smacked her...") appears. Cringeworthy.

6. Shoot Frank

It's about heroin. I think. The rjD2-laced beat is awesome, recalling the work he did on his debut, Dead Ringer. The lyrics are up to snuff, too. But the guy crooning the hook(s) is dangerous. Part of the sung chorus fits well; it's the other part where dude sounds eerily similar to Linkin Park's Chester Bennington that makes this track difficult to absorb.

7. Scenester

I hate this song because it's so average. Seriously, why did this song make the cut? Not even the record scratching can salvage it. The next track is similar in vein and waaaay better realized. Produced by Blockhead, from whom I might have to take back anything nice I've ever thought or said about his lazy beats. This sounds like an Eminem song; and it's not the only one on the album that does. Ironic, huh?

8. Perfect World

Music to drive by. Excellent track which achieves what the previous one was shooting for: accessibility. Produced by Central Services (El-P and Camu Tao). It's a shame that Scenester makes this song redundant in the context of the album.

9. Subtle Art of the Break-Up Song

Cage exorcises some demons here. Produced by El-P. Sleepy. Not one of El's best efforts. It's serviceable, but slows down the proceedings quickly after the abortion of track 7. Cage appears to be rhyming while chewing gum in the first verse, too. Love the sampled verse on the chorus, though.

NB: Sounds like El-P sampled or interpolated Isaac Hayes's Walk On By. Listen carefully.

10. Peeranoia

Deja Vu. If Scenester was reminiscent of Eminem, Peeranoia is really derivative of that worthy. Produced by PaWL. Listen to this song in contrast to the album's best moments and you'll understand why it's so vexing to hear.

11. Left It To Us

Posse cut...of a sort. Produced by Camu Tao, who contributes the album's best beat. The first time listening to this song, I prematurely declared it the return of the posse joint. It's not, because it dies waaaay too early. Bad move, there. Seriously, if given 5 or 6 minutes, this would have been a classic posse track. I'm talking along the level of Scenario and Represent (drinks on me if you catch the songs I'm alluding to). Inexplicably (there it is again), it cuts out at the 3 1/2 minute mark. Booooo!

12. Public Property

Cage airs his beef regarding his previous label. Produced by Camu Tao. Good-if-not-great track. Chorus is borderline terrible; the rest is alright.

13. Lord Have Mercy

Episodic, CSI-style track. Produced by El-P, who proves that an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to beat crafting can work supremely, and whose jock I'm on like Gold Bond. Sad to say, the beat works better sans Cage's rhymes. Would have fit in well on Little Johnny From the Hospital. Luckily, the disc comes with an instrumental version (which I've yet to listen to; I hope to hell the sung choruses and echoed voices are excluded).

14. Hell's Winter

Incendiary. Produced by you-know-who. Shame on you if you miss the end part of the track, where El-P shows some more virtuoso.


This could have been a classic. As it is, it's uneven, at times maddeningly so. Still, the good outweighs the bad. But it could have been better. Hell's Winter is Full Metal Jacket. I was hoping for Clockwork Orange.

4/5 *_*

Friday, October 21, 2005


I knew I shouldn't have eaten those slices of pizza before bed. I always have bizarre, lucid dreams when I eat pizza as a midnight snack.

Okay, they weren't actually slices of pizza; they were grilled cheese & kimchi sandwiches. Like you've never made one.

Last night I dreamt -- among other things -- that a twenty-foot tall naked, mentally handicapped Brooke Shields was chasing me (now I know how Tom Cruise feels). It was frightful beyond words. I still get shivers when I think about it.

(In the dream, she eventually caught me, and then we went for dinner at a galbi joint -- but that's beside the point.)

Imagine my surprise when I saw this after eating breakfast:

You know what this portends, right? Me neither, but it could be -- nay! must be -- more than mere coincidence.

Postscript: she should play for the Bills.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Deus Ex Machina

A few weeks ago I began reading a book of collected stories by H.P. "Sauce" Lovecraft. I have a slight inclination toward fantasy and horror literature, and I wanted to know what the big fuss was about. Certainly, Lovecraft's writing, while at times maddeningly verbose, is up to par. His prose is at times sublime, as evidenced by this brief quote from The Call of Cthulhu:

There are vocal qualities peculiar to men, and vocal qualities peculiar to beasts; and it is terrible to hear the one when the source should yield the other.

That's neat. The guy could write, for sure. So also could he pen a weird story. The first half of the book of collected stories interested me greatly. I noticed not a few elements of modern horror fiction in his works. However, by the time I reached the book's halfway point, one thing gnawed at me and vexed me immeasurably: Lovecraft's blatantly racist views.

Now, I know that, if one were to contextualize most canonical literature written prior to, say, the late 20th century, almost every white writer could be called a racist. But Lovecraft's racism, I'm afraid, is starkly extreme even in comparison to the writers of his time.

Here is an exerpt from an interview with Lovecraftian scholar -- and the man who edited the book I was reading -- S.T. Joshi:

There's a lot of argument that Lovecraft was a xenophobe and a racist. (Certainly his description of the black zombie in "Herbert West, Re-Animator" seems unduly disparaging.) Is this simply a situation where you have to judge an author according to the mores of his own time? How do you bypass this on personal level?

As an Indian, I am perennially entertained by Lovecraft’s comment, in the 1930s, that “The more one thinks about India, the more one wants to vomit!” (Actually, he was referring to the political turmoil initiated by Gandhi’s quest for independence from Great Britain.) There is no denying the reality of Lovecraft’s racism, nor can it merely be passed off as “typical of his time,” for it appears that Lovecraft expressed his views more pronouncedly (although usually not for publication) than many others of his era. It is also foolish to deny that racism enters into his fiction at key points (although I might suggest that there is a considerable element of humour and parody in that passage you cite in “Herbert West”). I find Lovecraft’s racism disappointing not merely because he expressed it so frequently in fiction and letters, but because this was one area where he refused to modify his thinking in light of new evidence. In every other aspect of his thought--metaphysics, politics, economics, aesthetics--he was constantly amending his views as new information came to him; but with his racism, he stuck pretty much to the prejudices he had absorbed in the reactionary New England of the 1890s.

Becoming more and more frustrated with Lovecraft's ubiquitous passages of racist, white supremecist writings, I was in a quandry: namely, should I put the book down and leave it alone, or keep reading until the bitter end (for the stories, while at times a mixed bag, are largely imaginative and provocative)?

I no longer have to choose. An hour-and-a-half earlier, my daughter sat upon my lap as I was nearing the end of the second chapter of The Call of Cthulhu. After sitting placidly on my knee for perhaps two or three minutes, she unexpectedly lurched forward and vomited all over the book, my hands, and my pants.

And I like to think that some unknown force was telling me to cease reading the book. The alternative is that said higher force was telling me to stop using my hands for fell purposes. Or possibly urging me to stop wearing those pants.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Korean Idol

A few weeks ago we entered the little girl in a nationwide modeling contest for children, sponsored by one of the big conglomerates. Last Thursday we were happy to discover that, of the initial 10,000-plus applicants, she is one of 215 other kids to make the cut and have an audition this week in Yeouido. Needless to say, the wife and I are enormously anticipating the upcoming shoot. We've already ordered the Jacuzzi.

On the off chance that the little angel doesn't walk away as Korea's next big child model, please realize that the judges were paid off by parents with an ugly kid.

How can you say no to a face like this?

I can't, which is why I've been subjected to 6 straight hours of Sesame Street's Sleepytime Songs and Stories. Note to the producers of that DVD: it doesn't f#@*ing work!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Batman Begins: Review

I was 11 years old when the first Batman film was released. I went to see it on opening night with two classmates. Even before I saw the film, I had Batman T-shirts, posters on my bedroom wall, Prince's OST...the works. What can I say? I was young and impressionable to the marketing blitz. In retrospect, maybe I didn't like the film as much as I liked the character of Batman, the idea of Batman as a symbol. I think a lot of people my age probably feel the same, because, let's face it, it's not really that good a movie. It has it's moments, but it's basically, at its core, more of an adaptation of the campy 60's TV series than of the comic book.

When I was 11 and saw the film, I was deeply immersed in comics, but not DC. I bought a few Batman books because the film's hype piqued my interest, but I never grew attached to the character. He was too brooding, too much of an enigma -- and not in a positive way where one wants to delve into what makes this man, who dresses up like a bat, tick.

I still feel pretty much the same. The Batman ideal interests me, but it, as far as I've seen, hasn't been developed in a lasting way. Maybe The Dark Knight Returns achieved that, and possibly some of the myriad Batman mini-series, too; but those are also adaptations, or spins on the Batman mythos. The regular comics series (of which, admittedly, I have read very few issues), never interested me. From 1989 to 2005, I'd very infrequently purchase an issue of Batman or Detective Comics, but the stories always left me feeling ripped off. Maybe because there are only so many stories that can be told in a certain medium before they become stale, no matter what new spin or gimmick is tried to rejuvinate the franchise.

I don't know what the future holds for the "next generation" of Batman films, but based on the greatness of Batman Begins, it looks very bright indeed. Enough so that I, someone who has never cared -- apart from the iconic nature of the character -- about Batman, is a convert.

Sign me up. Direct me to the large vat of Kool-Aid so that I may take a gulp.

Batman Begins is the best pure Superhero film ever made. M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable is the best overall, in my opinion, but its status as a comic book movie is debatable (it isn't based on a character who has appeared in comics). Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 previously held the honor (again, strictly my opinion) of being the best, but no longer.

The movie is also Christopher Nolan's best film. I liked Memento...once. Its gimmick doesn't stand up to multiple viewings. 2002's Insomnia was all right, but nowhere near as great as the original Norwegian film. In Begins, however, he's a perfect fit.

Ditto for all of the actors (albeit to varying degrees). Christian Bale is great as Bruce Wayne -- it's when he dons the cowl that I have some minor issues, which are his tendency to talk like a) he's doing a Clint Eastwood/The Man With No Name impression, and b) a professional wrestler. But that's a minor nitpick. Bale plays the role of the multi-millionare perfectly. Kudos also to the supporting cast, particularly Michael Caine, who plays a very likeable Alfred. For the first time on film, we understand just what this man means to Bruce Wayne. The rapport they share is fanastic, and often very funny. Morgan Freeman does a solid job, as does Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Liam Neeson, and...Katie Holmes. She didn't knock my socks off or anything, but I had heard so many negative things about her performance that I was expecting the worst. The only real problem I have with her in the film is that her character is far too young to be a believable assistant to the DA. Ditto for Cillian Murphy, who plays Arkham Asylum's head doctor. He's what, 27 or something? Yeah, right. But I get why Murphy and Holmes were cast. It's all about the film's taget demographic; and, honestly, I prefer that they went with younger actors rather than someone older. This is what plagues the X-Men franchise and some of their casting choices, particularly Famke Jansen as Jean Grey/Phoenix.

I won't detail the plot of the film, primarily because I think most people have already seen it; but I want to make some notes. If you haven't seen it, beware: spoilers to follow.

- People have complained that what sunk the Batman franchise was too many villains (I suppose more than one constitutes as "too many"). It wasn't the number of villains, rather that the previous films put more of an emphasis on them than the titular character. In Begins there are as many as five villains, and never is the story weighed down by them. The script handles them all deftly.

- Halfway through the film, Bruce turns into a bit of a jackass playboy. I loved the idea of this, but the portion of the film this subplot occupies is too short and isn't fleshed out well. I suspect some other scenes for this subplot were shot and left on the editing room floor. I'm not sure if that was a good or bad choice. On one hand, too many scenes like the one where Bruce and two models jump into a hotel restaurant's decorative pool may have stalled the film's momentum. But on the other, it would make Bruce Wayne's character more interesting.

- The way the movie introduces, convincingly, certain staples of Batman's world, such as the bat signal and the bat cave, is nothing short of remarkable. Extra bonus points for the chilling final scene, where we understand exactly why there will be more villains to follow (the next of whom, with Gordon's turning over of a playing card, is hinted likely to be).

- The score, by Hans Zimmer [edit: James Newton Howard -- who has just replaced Howard Shore on Peter Jackson's King Kong remake -- also had a hand in scoring the picture] is fantastic. The last film that I can remember where the score does so much to propel the story is P.T. Anderson's Magnolia. The score isn't as memorable as some other Superhero films', but I think that's a good thing, much in the same way that Spider-Man's theme music doesn't overpower the actual images on the screen.

- My biggest complaint of the movie is that the DA, Katie Holmes's boyfriend, is killed, and she basically doesn't give a shit. Totally unbelievable. It is the largest of the movie's few missteps, the others being Bale's voice as the Batman (although I suppose it is realistically necessary for him to alter his voice, given his fame; but it still sounds cheesy in some scenes); that at times Bale's face looks like it was squeezed into a mask too small for his head; and the black make-up around his eyes when he's wearing the mask.

But those are minor gripes. Like I said, I believe Batman Begins is the best film yet made about a comic book character. What a film! Here's hoping that the sequel lives up to the greatness of the first real Batman film Hollywood has made.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Oh Hell Yeah

Once again it's on:

Memory Lane (Part II)

I spent my final month in Canada before leaving for Korea playing a lot of basketball, watching movies and drinking -- sometimes at the same time -- with friends, deciding what to bring and what to leave behind (the latter of which I later had many regrets), and answering questions such as "how exactly are you gonna teach Korean kids when you don't even speak Korean?" and the ever-popular "are you going to North Korea or South Korea?"

Until the final week before my departure I didn't think much about where I was heading to or what I was supposed to do once I arrived there; but that last week a gnawing fear set in, not because I felt that I was unprepared, but because I am morbidly afraid of flying. At the time, I wasn't concerned about what duties I might have at my new job, nor what cultural discoveries and adversities I might face. All I foresaw was darkness. I honestly believed that I was going to die on the flight over.

The evening before my flight I watched the Academy Awards broadcast. The next morning I awoke a ball of nerves. I have no idea how this fear of flying was born, but it is still very real and very, very frightening. Every time I board a flight, I feel as though I'm stepping into a massive tomb. Keep in mind that this was before 9/11. After that tragedy, my phobia increased tenfold.

As I was saying, I was grimly afraid the day of my departure. My flight wasn't until 11pm, so I spent most of the day like a man condemned to death. For dinner, I asked my folks to order a large Pizza Hut stuffed-crust pizza. Believing it my last meal, I ate four slices (or maybe it was five).

My folks drove me to the airport. My full stomach provided some calm, despite my fear. One episode during the drive to the airport is forever etched in my memory: my parents began to argue over some trivial matter, and I remember thinking this is what I'm getting away from. I hope to god I never have to hear it again.

I boarded the plane after a tearful goodbye from my mother, and a prosaic one from my old man. I took my seat and fruitlessly tried to calm my nerves by reading a newspaper. My heart was beating hard, my pulse throbbing. When the plane started to taxi, I thought it would leap into the air at any moment, ignorant of the take-off procedure because I hadn't flown in almost ten years. I noticed a guy, who was roughly my age, sitting across the aisle from me and offered him a stick of gum (my throat was so dry that I dared not to speak). When I reached over to hand it to him, both he and I noticed that my hand was shaking like someone stricken with Parkinson's. An elderly couple from Taiwan occupied the middle and window seats to my right. I was very thankful that they didn't try to strike up a conversation. I thought I was going to lose it.

When the plane took off, I wouldn't look out the window. The moment I knew we were airborne I was overcome by the greatest panic I've ever felt. It took a lot of fortitude to keep a somewhat calm facade, all the while my conscious mind writhing and begging to scream, like someone struggling to breathe, land this plane, oh for the love of god, please land this plane now!

The flight to Korea is a long one, and, probably due to the brain's chemical safety mechanisms, I eventually got some peace, instead of having to be tranquilized by flight attendants; though I got no sleep, because despite my raging endorphins, I was still very much afraid; and the Taiwanese couple's frequent needs to use the lavatory, coupled with the stewards' proclivity to bump into my aisle-straying left leg, made sleep impossible. Stupidly, I took a Gravol, hoping that it would knock me out. It didn't, and ended up making me more tired than ever. By the time the plane landed in Alaska to refuel, I was a zombie.

Taking off from Alaska, I was a lot less nervous. I tried to read, but was too tired and ended up reading the first sentence from John Irving's The Cider House Rules again and again. Then I tried watching a drama they were showing. It was some typical Korean melodrama. The odd thing was that there was no sound, even through the use of headphones; and the drama was subtitled only in Chinese, rather than Korean. Weird. Of course at the time, me being the complete ignoramus I was (and possibly still am), I assumed the Chinese characters were Korean ones.

Finally, exhausted and on the verge of collapsing, I arrived at Gimpo (then) International Airport. It took me about 30 minutes to fill out my arrival card. I wish I were joking. I hadn't had sleep for close to 40 hours, was in desperate need of a shower and a shave, and would have killed for a cigarette.

Needless to say, when I was met, after clearing customs, by the academic coordinator of my school, I didn't exactly inspire confidence. The first thing she remarked about was how tired I looked. The second was how remarkably young I looked. Never heard that one before.

"We have some students who look older than you," she chided.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sometimes two wrongs do make a right.

I'm not a violent man. I abhor violence. In fact, I get squeamish whenever I have to clip my finger nails. But...

there is a special place reserved on the first three knuckles of my right hand for the asshole who last Sunday , at a quarter to one in the morning, bellowed throughout our neighborhood announcing that he was selling rice cakes.

Maybe he was poor. Maybe he was poor and hungry (though logic suggests that, if that was the case, he should eat his wares). Regardless, I don't care. If it happens again -- and it happens about a half-dozen times a year -- I'm going to make the news, and not because I won first place in a beauty contest.

It's not the fact that he woke me, the wife, and the little girl up from our sleep (and, I imagine, others in the neighborhood), nor is it even the fact that he was bellowing in undulating tones like a man possessed. It's mostly because he had the fucking gall to think that at 12:45pm anyone, sleeping or no, would get the urge to buy rice cakes. That's just stupid.

And stupid people, the mentally retarded excluded, deserve to die.


Earlier today, the New York Yankees were bounced out of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Angels. I realize that it's infantile to feel pleasure -- supreme pleasure -- and relief that a team I loathe was beaten by a team I'm ambivalent towards, for the sole reason that my favorite team was also bounced out of the playoffs a few days ago; but, while there may be maturity in sport, there is little in baseball. Save that for golf. And dwarf tossing.

Yes, it's sour grapes. But right now those grapes taste pretty sweet. Pretty sweet indeed.

PS (aka more sour grapes) - How long before we can officially label the Yanks as the Angels's whipping boys?

PPS - While the White Sox's World Series drought is longer than any other team in the American League (and would still be had the Red Sox not won it last year), I find it hard to root for them, and that's not sour grapes. It's because, dare I say, the White Sox are boring. The most interesting thing about watching them, for me, is seeing Ozzie Guillen sitting in the bullpen looking sullen. It's really a marvel to behold.

If you don't win it all, Chigagoans, don't despair; you've had your share of titles over the past three decades: the Bulls, the Bears...hell, the city even won an Oscar in 2003.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Change my pitch up...

Because I couldn't get rid of the annoying blank space at the top of the old template (though the truth is that I never really tried), I capriciously decided to change the template. It was a spur of the moment thing, and I can't say that I'm entirely pleased with the new one. That thing at the top left-hand, which I guess is a gazebo, is a little too fruity for my tastes. On the other hand, the font and column width is better. Maybe I'll switch it up again tomorrow. Who knows?

In the meantime, I thought I'd bore 95% of you with some pictures of the little angel, which were taken over the past month.

This is a photo from the modeling shoot she did 3 weeks ago. As of yet, no videos of her snorting cocaine have surfaced. Luckily.

Ewwww! You're lying next to Pooh!

As part of new government regulations (or so I've been told), all nursery schools have to ensure that children enrolled there are free of communicable diseases (ie. cooties). This was taken on the day the little girl was tested, and all day afterwards, because she had blood samples taken from both arms, she held her arms out like an ape, or some toddler version of a pro wrestler. She actually looked kind of rotund, so I took this photo after asking her to "make a chubby face." In retrospect, that's less of a "chubby face" than it is an "I'm gonna barf" face.

I did have another photo, taken Friday night, of the wife wearing a facial mask, which I took because she looked remarkably like MF Doom; but it appears the wife has deleted it. No fair.

Friday, October 07, 2005


The first JAWS movie I ever saw was Jaws IV: The Revenge, an experience which I imagine is similar to how a young kid a couple of years ago might feel after watching Michael Jordan play for the Washington Wizards. What's the big deal? This guy is supposed to be a great player? What a mess!

I was born just a few years too late, it seems. The Age of the Sequel had been ushered, and the cultural phenomenon that was JAWS had dwindled to a smattering of poorly-conceived and ill-directed (and written, and acted) sequels -- so much so that the name of the original film was tarnished, and I (though I had heard that it was a great movie) was fearful to watch it. Once bitten by mechanical shark, twice shy. Or so they say.

It was only during my final year of high school that I chanced to see the original. I finished classes by 12:35 every day, and on one particular spring afternoon, while eating lunch (KD, natch), it was being shown on City TV's Great Movies. So I watched it. And I was amazed.

Why didn't I see this before? This is like the greatest fucking movie ever motherfucking made!

I've since grown more articulate. Though perhaps not by much.

Anyway, on Friday night, after the little girl finally fell asleep (11:03 by my watch), I was itching to watch a flick, but the answer to the question which one? eluded me. I was about to write some crap for the blog (a think piece entitled "Neverending Sound: One Man's Theory That Sound Never Dies; We Just Can't Hear It Anymore (Unless It's Come On Eileen), because the "updates" have been fairly infrequent. But, to tell the truth, I didn't wanna. I look upon blogging as a hobby, not a responsibility. The only reason I write and post the crap I do is because -- and this may come as a shock -- I get a kick out of it. When writing a blog entry feels too much like homework, I think it's time to take a break. Plus, I've been swamped with work these past few weeks, and by the end of last week "no writing" felt like a sound rule to adhere to.

I'm off my mini-sabbatical now. This post will probably be dated Friday or Saturday, because the first few sentences I wrote and then saved shortly after the film ended (hence the title of this entry). I wanted to post this then, but was too tired and, inebriated. This entire weekend I resolved to write it, but never felt like it.

Truth be told, the Red Sox getting bounced 3-0 out of the American League Division Series has left me particularly apathetic. Every year I keep thinking "this is our year." The Sox's World Series drought will soon officially be 1 year. Boo-hoo. I take solace in the fact that the Yanks are one game away from an early exit, too. Then I won't have to worry about sports fanaticism until the NBA regular season begins in early November. As for football -- the kind with helmets and guys with names like Takeo Spikes and Tiki Barber -- the Buffalo Bills are D-E-A-F...I mean, hell, you know what I mean.

Their season is over. Unless it turns around. Unless it turns around it is over.

(Sorry, just practicing my Hemingway mimicry. )

I realize that this is scatterbrained, and for that I apologize. I'll never do it again; by which I mean to say I'll always do it ad nauseam. I'm using reverse psychology, see. But let's get into what this post is supposed to be about. And remember: this is not a bad or poorly-conceived post. Like your girlfriend's mouth, or The Clash's Sandinasta!, I've put a little bit of everything into it. Enjoy:

10 Things I Love About JAWS:

10) That famous shot. You know the one I mean. The one where Roy Scheider (of 2010: The Year We Make Contact fame) is sitting on the beach, when all of a sudden he sees a gigantic pork roast swimming in the, wait, that's JEWS.

(Please try to forget that unfunny and possibly anti-Semitic remark. I'd delete it, but it's Sunday, and I should repent. While we're here I should also mention that I once, inexplicably, found Carrie Anne Moss hot.)

Anyway, it's the shot where the background zooms out, while at the same time the camera zooms in on Scheider. I'm sure there's a technical name for such a shot, but since I don't know it we'll refer to the shot as "the shot where the background zooms out, while at the same time the camera zooms in on Scheider" shot.

9) sheriff Brody's wife, played by Lorraine Gary. What a breath of fresh air it is to watch a movie where the wife of the main character unconditionally supports her husband and doesn't whine about how his work is interfering with their home life; of which a similar parallel can be drawn to my own married life, simply by replacing "work" with "using the kitchen sink as a toilet." Extra bonus points awarded because she doesn't complain that he drinks in front of his kids.

8) John Williams excellent score. I don't really need to say more, do I? Here's my onomatopoeic rendition of the classic theme:

Daah-dah. Daah-dah. Dah-da-da-da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da...Dah-da-da-daa!

7) Richard Dreyfuss. You may know him as the curmudgeonly fellow who forgets to take his medication and likes to throw coffee (iced coffee, because, you know, he's not Hitler) in the face of web "reporters," but I prefer to think of him as the best actor in JAWS not named Robert Shaw. Which leads us to

6) Robert Shaw as Quint -- in my opinion the best performance by an actor in a supporting role. Ever.

Hold on...the still-alive ghost of Eli Wallach is reminding me that I've made that bold statement in the past concerning his portrayal of Tuco in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. And he's right. They both deserve the honor.

Tuco vs. Quint: which is the better performance? I'd be better suited trying to figure out the meaning of life. Or what DWYCK means.

5) The movie's final scene, showing Brody and Hooper swimming back to shore. It's quaint and effective. Mercifully, we are saved an ending where Brody's family (and the town) fears him dead, and then sentimentally hug and grope him when he returns alive. That would have sucked.

4) Reon Kadena. Sure she's not in the movie; but if she was it wouldn't suffer for it. And that's saying quite a lot, I think.

3) The dialogue. Here are a few of my favorite lines (cribbed from

- Brody: You're gonna need a bigger boat.

- Quint: Here lies the body of Mary Lee; died at the age of a hundred and three. For fifteen years she kept her virginity; not a bad record for this vicinity.

- Brody: "Slow ahead." I can go slow ahead. Come on down here and chum some of this shit.

Quint: [seeing Hooper's equipment] What are you? Some kind of half-assed astronaut?
[examining the shark cage]
Quint: Jesus H Christ, when I was a boy, every little squirt wanted to be a harpooner or a sword fisherman. What d'ya have there - a portable shower or a monkey cage?
Hooper: Anti-Shark cage.
Quint: Anti-shark cage. You go inside the cage?
[Hooper nods]
Quint: Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark's in the water. Our shark.
Quint: Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain. For we've received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so nevermore shall we see you again.

- Ellen Brody: Wanna get drunk and fool around?
Brody: Oh Yeah.

2) The shark -- or more accurately the absence of the shark. There are so many ways that this film could have been made wrong. It's a testament to the skill of the director (Steven Spielberg of Always fame) and everyone else involved that it wasn't. The best example of this is the titular shark, which we rarely see. The fear of the unknown is the greatest fear, and what Spielberg and Co. show us with floating docks, yellow barrels, and shark's eye-view camera technique is greater and more fearful than the actual shark (though he's a BAMF in his own right).

1) The scene on the boat at night between Brody, Hooper, and Quint. This is my favorite part of the film, and ranks as one of my all-time favorite scenes in movie history. Quint's monologue is particularly awesome. I can't recall another film where one character's dialogue is so engrossing. And it's a long piece of dialogue.

Here is the coup de grace jones, though reading it can do no justice in comparison to watching and listening to the superb scene:

Quint: Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into her side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. We'd just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half-hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that in the water, Chief? You can tell by lookin' from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn't know, was that our bomb mission was so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn't even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin' by, so we formed ourselves into tight groups. It was sorta like you see in the calendars, you know the infantry squares in the old calendars like the Battle of Waterloo and the idea was the shark come to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin' and hollerin' and sometimes that shark he go away... but sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn't even seem to be livin'... 'til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ocean turns red, and despite all your poundin' and your hollerin' those sharks come in and... they rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don't know how many sharks there were, maybe a thousand. I do know how many men, they averaged six an hour. Thursday mornin', Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boson's mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. He bobbed up, down in the water, he was like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he'd been bitten in half below the waist. At noon on the fifth day, a Lockheed Ventura swung in low and he spotted us, a young pilot, lot younger than Mr. Hooper here, anyway he spotted us and a few hours later a big ol' fat PBY come down and started to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened. Waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went into the water. 316 men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Belly-Button Lint

Some random thoughts on a nippy night:

1) When Kanye West made his now famous "George Bush doesn't like black people" remark, did the Bush twins throw out their copies of Late Registration, or did they guiltily hold on to them because they both really like bopping to the track We Major? And did Mrs. George Bush contemplate something similar because she really likes track number 4, Drive Slow (

What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall when the twins' folks visit and see that CD lying about. Do they make a big deal about it? Do they even mention it? These thoughts keep me awake nights.

2) I've been trying to follow all of the NBA off-season moves and acquisitions, but somehow I missed, and only found out today, that Gary Payton is a member of the Miami Heat.

(As a slight digression, it's vexing that you can call GP a former Sonic, Buck, Laker and Celtic, but you can't call him a Heat. You have to call him "a member of the Heat." Such is the price you pay when you name your team an uncountable noun, I suppose.)

So, let's get this straight: the Heat picked up Antoine Walker, (the white) Jason Williams, and GP in the off-season -- and they expect this to work how, exactly? I'm a big fan of the Heat (I want them to win the title next spring), and I'm optimistically hoping the team will have chemistry, but who are we kidding? And how did Shaq, who must have substantial pull regarding who Miami does or doesn't pick up, give his blessing on the GP acquisition? Doesn't he remember what happened 2 years ago?!

Still, I'll try to be optimistic. Here's me putting on my optimistic face:

3) For my "Red Sox get trounced 14-2 in Division Series opener" face, please look again at the above image.

By the way, I'm calling in sick so I can watch tomorrow's game live on cable. I also intend to keep a running diary of what transpires. Hopefully I'll be able to get a sound file up of my boss shouting "you're not sick, I know you're not, now get your skinny white ass over here before I go over there and show you what it feels like to have a 3-foot umbrella shoved up your ass, you human hemorrhoid!" Mercifully, I'll omit the parts where I cry like a baby while listening to Creed during station breaks, and, if it's a blowout, when I become bored and start to play video games (and by "video games" I really mean "with my penis").

4) Actual conversation today between me and my wife:

"Honey, I figure we don't watch enough TV together, so I ordered the first season of Lost on DVD. You'll like it; it's got an interesting premise, and one of the guys from The Lord of the Rings is in it."

[cheerfully]: "The guy who played Legolas?"

"Um, no."

"The guy who played Aragorn, then?"


[considerably less chipper]: "The guy who played Faramir? Eomer? Frodo!?"

"No...I think it's the guy who played Merry. Or maybe it was Pippin."

[look of profound disdain] "..."

"Hey, at least it's not the guy who played Gimli."

"Call tomorrow and cancel the order."

Monday, October 03, 2005


A few days ago the blank space at the top of the Psychedelic Kimchi main page first appeared. Curiously, a noted metaphysicist, an acclaimed science-fiction writer, and a illustrator of paranormal phenomena have recently been reported as missing.

Global conspiracy? Probably. Though my predisposition as a considerably untech-savvy person makes me wonder if I didn't just select something I shouldn't have; after all, I only yesterday figured out how to work my toaster ("push lever down": it now seems so simple). Before then, I was trying to stand the pieces of bread upright while inverting the toaster and drawing it down towards the bread. That was really hard.

Anyways, I intend to uncover the truth regarding the ethereal void haunting the top of this blog. In the meantime, unfocus your eyes and take a long look at it. You might see a dinosaur!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Lucky Day

Maybe I should go to church more often.

Today, after service ended, the wife, 18th Letter, and yours unruly headed to Seohyeon, where we shopped at the bookstore and did some "eye shopping," and later had lunch at a Vietnamese pho noodle place before calling it an afternoon.

On our way to the bus stop, however, we noticed that there was a promotion kiosk set up offering free Kodak digital photos. We stopped and had our pictures taken, and not a minute later one of the Kodak media guys asked my wife if she would partake in an interview. If she did, he said, she would receive a 50,000 won Shinsegae gift certificate. She agreed, and 3 minutes later received not 1 but 2 50,000 won gift certificates, because her interview was so natural and convincing (which it was, though to me she looked eerily like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blond). Apparently, they'll use the interview in an upcoming advertisement on one of the home shopping broadcasts regularly shown during the day. Wifey's blowin' up.

Oddly enough, the little girl was asleep the whole time and barely received acknowledgment, which is in sharp contrast to the usual gasps of astonishment regarding her remarkable beauty. Though I didn't say anything to the wife, I think she's secretly pleased that, for today, she was the star.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Life of Sparkles

Discounting the Memory Lane entry, I make it a concious effort not to post anything explicitly personal on this blog. Why? Because no one cares, I'm almost sure; and because my life, while rewarding, is very monotonous. Don't believe me (this is the second in a never-ending string of rhetorical questions. You have been warned)? Here's what I did today:

10:15am -- Woke up. Mercifully, the wife let me sleep in. It's because I promised to go to church tomorrow. I broke an identical promise last week because I was exhausted like John Holmes. If I do it again, I'm going to be in the doghouse...and, later ("sooner than you think, Chuckles." -- Satan), Hell.

10:30am -- Hungry. Don't rightly know why, since at 3am the night/morning prior I scarfed down a tin of Pringles, a bowl of Top King ramen (aka crack noodles), and one of those milk shake thingies that taste absolutely fucking superb but which, for its cost, is pretty skimpy on the shake.

10:35am -- another possible motive as to why the wife let me sleep in (and let's be clear on something right now: however much I need/want to sleep in, I don't get to unless I'm allowed to. Just a little heads-up to anyone considering getting married or having a child.

Me: Honey, I've worked almost 12 hours every day this past week. I deserve a bit of a rest, don't you think?

Wife [pointing gun at me]: Deserves got nothin' to do with it.

There's no food in the house save for a bag of sugary "corn chips" and a few slices of processed cheese.

10:45am -- Tired and puffy-faced, I walk to the corner shop, the little girl in tow (she enjoys giving the proprietor purple nurples; and, what can I say, I enjoy watching). Tired of instant curry and jajang, I take the road less traveled (I now understand why) and purchase a single serving of Ottogi barbecue chicken.

11:00am -- I don't know what it is I'm eating, but it sure as hell ain't chicken -- at least no chicken I've ever tasted or seen. It's brown and has the constitution of cheap hamburger meat. Pray for my bowels.

11:25am -- AHHHHHhhhhh (you really don't want me to get any more graphic).

11:30am-12:30pm -- The little girl is on the verge of a tantrum. She can't yet understand that Sesame Street doesn't air on the weekend. But we have a half dozen Sesame Street DVDs, so, to placate her fury, I watch a few with her. You haven't really seen Big Bird until you see him on a plasma screen. I think I even saw his big yellow cock. It was big, but not as big as mine. Oops, please disregard that last sentence. What I meant to write was "it was yellow, but not as yellow as mine."

1:00pm -- my co-worker calls me and asks me to come visit the office to do some work-related work. I worked up the nerve to tell him to go fuck himself, almost working myself into a frenzy, but at the last second my courage failed to work and, summarily, fearing I might lose my job and hence be out of work, I agreed to work on a Saturday afternoon. Upon hanging up, my wife tells me not to get so worked up. She says it's not the end of the work, and that if all work were to work work work, the work would work to work. Her sage wisdom and soothing tone works.

2:00pm-4:00pm -- Work. And Pac-Man. Mostly Pac-Man.

5:00pm -- Return from Seoul and meet the wife and girl at E-Mart. Do some shopping. God, I love E-Mart on the weekend. It's so peaceful and serene, like a still lagoon pool.

6:00pm -- Arrive home from E-Mart. Unload groceries which consist of:

- 2 Toblerone white chocolate bars

- 1 bag Calbee mayonnaise&shrimp potato chips

- 1 box Oreo cookies

- 1 package Gummi Bears

- 4 single-serving boxes Ottogi curry (I've yet to learn my lesson)

- 2 six-packs "Budweiser" beer

- 2 bottles Jinro soju

- some vegetables and stuff

- some fruit and stuff

- 1 Ed Wood DVD

- 1 bag balloons

- 3 tubes Close-Up toothpaste. The smiling faces on the box made me surrender my brand loyalty of 2080, which claims it will keep my 20 teeth healthy until I'm 80 years old. I don't know why I stuck with that brand for so long. For one, I have a lot more than 20 teeth, and two, I'm never going to live to reach 80 years. I'll be lucky if I reach 80 more seconds.

- 1 mowgwai (note to self: don't get wet)

- 1 Necronomicon

6:15pm -- Finish reading The Moon and Sixpence.

7:00pm -- Clean apartment. Cut decaying corpse on veranda into easily-disposable pieces. Save shanks for tomorrow's brunch.

7:40pm -- Watch more Sesame Street with the little one. I'm beginning to realize that she's addicted to Sesame Street the same way I'm addicted to my Bedazzler. It's sad to watch that downward spiral.

9:00pm -- Read Dagon, the first story of H.P (which I'm pretty sure stands for Hewlett Packard) Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories.

9:20pm -- Save child from burning vehicle. Smoke in front of aforementioned child.

9:30pm -- Continue working on my memoirs, tentatively titled When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade...And Then Poison It And Offer It To Neighborhood Kids.

10:00pm -- Put the girl to bed. This time without the use of sedatives, oddly enough.

10:30pm-present -- Not worth noting.

Pretty uneventful day, n'est pas?