Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Land of Nod

The nominees for the 2006 Oscars were announced not long ago, and I'm going to make some comments and give my predictions. I've seen few (if indeed I've seen any) of the nominated pictures and performances, but that has never stopped the Academy members, so why should it stop me? I decided to omit the lesser categories that nobody gives a damn about, and some of the major ones that only matter to hardcore film fans. I'll get to them when the broadcast rolls around, as I plan to write a running diary of the event when it airs. So know that, should you die before then, you'll miss possibly the most anticipated work of writing that doesn't have the words 'Harry' and 'Potter' in its title.

Without further adieu:

Best Picture: "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote," "Crash," "Good Night, and Good Luck," "Munich."

A month ago I predicted that King Kong was a shoe-in, as well as Brokeback Mountain. So I was half right. Just goes to show that hype infects us all. It's hard to call a movie that makes over 250 million dollars a failure, but Peter Jackson probably would have (nay, definitely would have) gotten a nod had Kong made a shitload (I mean a really big shitload) of cash. Remember before its release how some were predicting it might rival Titanic for box office uber-supremacy? Yeah, me neither.

I think Munich was the only other film I had correct in my predictions. I'm surprised that Capote garnered a Best Picture nod. Philip Seymour Hoffman will win the statue for his role, you can mark my words, but biopics tend to get overlooked, don't they? Was Ray nominated last year?

Prediction: Brokeback Mountain. I'll bet my gay cowboy farm on it.

Darkhorse: Munich. Because Hollywood is full of Jews. There, I said it. I can't take it back now.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"; Terrence Howard, "Hustle & Flow"; Heath Ledger, "Brokeback Mountain"; Joaquin Phoenix, "Walk the Line"; David Strathairn, "Good Night, and Good Luck."

I think my brain is about to explode. PSH is winning that award, make no mistake; but it's nice to see Terrence Howard (T-Ho, big ups!) get the nod. Joaquin, too, as he's probably the most inherently talented of the lot. And it's nice to see Heath Ledger (of 10 Things I Hate About You and A Knight's Tale fame) up there. It makes the whole thing surreal.

Prediction: PSH (act like u know)

Darkhorse: a toss-up between Heath and the late River Phoenix's brother, the one with the hairlip.

Actress: Judi Dench, "Mrs. Henderson Presents"; Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica"; Keira Knightley, "Pride & Prejudice"; Charlize Theron, "North Country"; Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line."

A sure sign of the Apocalypse? Heath Ledger and Kiera Knightly have both been nominated as best actor and best actress, respectively...Is it just me, or does Dame Judi Dench get nominated every fucking year?...Am I a bastard and possibly a misogynist for admitting that I care more about who the best supporting actor is than who's best actress?

Prediction: Reese Witherspoon. I hope she gives a shout out to her brother Clarence when she wins. Props to the 2 people who got that, by the way.

Darkhorse: Felicity Huffman

Supporting Actor: George Clooney, "Syriana"; Matt Dillon, "Crash"; Paul Giamatti, "Cinderella Man"; Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain"; William Hurt, "A History of Violence."

This is pretty weak. I'm secretly hoping Cloony wins, because he's such a man-muffin. In fact, he should have played the gay cowboy, not Jake "my last name is hard to spell, especially if you're drunk" Gyllenhaal. I did a double take when I saw William Hurt's name; I thought it read 'John Hurt.' Is John Hurt still alive?

Prediction: Jake G.

Darkhorse: Jake G.

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "Junebug"; Catherine Keener, "Capote"; Frances McDormand, "North Country"; Rachel Weisz, "The Constant Gardener"; Michelle Williams, "Brokeback Mountain."

OK, who's fucking with me? I sort of believed for a minute there that Heath Ledger was nominated for best actor. Then I had my doubts that this is the real world and I'm not dreaming when I read that Kiera Knightly was nominated for best actress. Now I'm scared and I want to wake up. Michelle Williams, the chubby, pucker-faced chick from Dawson's Creek is nominated best supporting actress? Someone dropped acid in my Pocari Sweat.

Prediction: Aw, hell, who am I kidding? Hopefully James Van Ber Beek will get nominated next year. That would make my life.

(Bonus: can you imagine what would happen if Ledger and Williams -- who are married -- both won? I bet they'd name their child Damien just so as to not tempt fate)

Darkhorse: Rachel Weisz (was also in Constantine)

Director: Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"; Bennett Miller, "Capote"; Paul Haggis, "Crash"; George Clooney, "Good Night, and Good Luck"; Steven Spielberg, "Munich."

I think Spielberg has this one, and only because Ang Lee directed Hulk, which is without a doubt the worst film I've seen in the last 2 decades. I don't care if what I've read is true and that his film about 2 gay cowboys can reduce men (hetero sexual men, even) to tears...the guy directed Hulk. Plus it's not nice to piss off Steven Spielberg. Just ask Crispin Glover.

Prediction: Spielberg.

Darkhorse: duh.

Animated Feature Film: "Howl's Moving Castle"; " Tim Burton's Corpse Bride"; "Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit."

Prediction: If Wallace & Vomit, sorry, Gromit doesn't win, I swear I will become a muslim. I swear to Allah.

Academy Award winners previously announced this year:

Honorary Award : Candice Cameron.

Sorry, just keeping you on your toes (assuming you have feet).

Robert Altman.

I love M*A*S*H like it's my second child.

The Gordon E. Sawyer award: Gary Demos.

Who is Gary Demos? Matter of fact, who is Gordon E. Sawyer?

Monday, January 30, 2006

True(Fake) Story

An hour ago, as I was going out for a smoke, I made the mistake of vociferating my thoughts (always a dangerous thing). Here's what transpired:

Me: Smells like someone's cooking some ramen.

Greasy-haired high school drop-out: What did you just say?

Me: What?

GHHSDO: Just now, man. When you walked past, what'd you say?

Me: About what?

GHHSDO: You said, "Someone's cookin' some ramen."

Me: No, I meant somewhere I smell some noodles, you know? It was just an observation.

GHHSDO: Oh, an observation, huh? Well who the hell are you, man? Isaac fucking Newton? I only came here to do two things, kick some ass and eat some ramen. Looks like we're almost outta ramen.

I sense trouble brewing.

Meat me in the bathroom

Fucking Seollal, man.

Last week I and an old acquaintance went to what is unequivocally the best Korean barbecue restaurant on Rod Serling's Green Earth. I'm telling you, if you like meat, get thee to 신씨화로 posthaste (website: http://www.sinssi.co.kr/). There are 3 in Bundang, and a bunch in Seoul. I give you my word, you'll dig it like gravediggers and coal miners. It's a bit pricey compared to your average 고기집, but it's well worth it.

I was all set to wow the wife tonight (in the gastronomical sense, you cheeky monkey), but we were disappointed to find out, upon arrival, that the place was closed due to the holiday. I hear there's this wacky invention called a telephone; maybe I should use it the next time we plan to go out for dinner, just to make sure the place to which we're going is actually open. On second thought, nah.

Plan B was decent, but it was really like swapping playoff tickets for exhibition ones. I like me my kimchi, so kimchi sam-gyup-sal did the trick. The beer and soju didn't hurt too bad neither. The evening's biggest surprise (besides Tom Jones serenading our table, I mean)? The wife ordered an egg roll (에그 롤), which turned out to be just that, a roll of egg, like an omelet loaf. It's a good thing we had decided against ordering 2.

Tomorrow I have the esteemed pleasure of looking after the 18th letter again. She was expelled from nursery school, can you believe it? Of course I'm joking [picture me chuckling slightly, like a gentleman telling an amusing quip at a country club]; it so happens that the nursery school is closed tomorrow. So as soon as I have a chance I'll post a transcription of Daddy Daycare/CSI Bundang. In the meantime, here are some pics of the fun-lite evening:

A police sketch of yours truly. The crime? Chronic toilet paper flushing. The wife doesn't think it looks at all like me, but the little girl disagrees. Psshh, what do babies know?

You be the judge:

Upon further inspection, the wife was correct, that doesn't look a thing like me.

I have ears.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Porn (a poem)

This chicken is pretty good
This movie looks promising
I can't wait to graduate
I love the color and taste of flesh

I'm still awake
I will never sleep
I can actually discern my fingernails lengthening
My skin is becoming reptillian

Red, yellow and orange
Lots of pink

Blue, grey and purple
Too much transparency

But I still can't get over
The fact that that leg of chicken
Looked like a fried penis
And a pair of testicles

Friday, January 27, 2006

I just flu in from Osaka, and boy are my adenoids tired

I was really looking forward to last night, I really was. Near the end of a long day, my mind was occupied with thoughts of Cloud Atlas (thanks for the rec, denz; fantastic novel), followed by an episode or two of The Twilight Zone, some cold beers, and the meatball sub I had in the fridge. Then the wife rang me shortly after dinner to tell me that the 18th Letter was sick, that she had a fever of 40 Celcius (236 Fahrenheit, if my conversion is accurate), and I knew it wasn't going to be a fun or restful evening.

The little girl was asleep when I arrived home. I showered, changed clothes and picked up the novel, but who was I kidding? Not a minute later she began coughing and crying, and, like that, my evening was done. No harm, I figured: Friday's a pretty breezy day for me, so staying up later than usual and taking care of the sicky (Mommy's schedule the next day wasn't nearly as fortuitous) wasn't a huge bother. Just don't infect me, kiddo I prayed.

We ended up staying awake until 3:30, watching Dora The Explorer. It was the little girl, sharp as she is, who pointed out that, at that late an hour, Dora really should have been in bed. Where's her Mommy, she asked me? Beats me, I told her. Then we had a quite lengthy discussion about why no one in the Doraverse ever administered swift justice to Swiper and beat him senseless for stealing their shit. You'd think that, with all their skills of deduction and orienteering, Dora and her gang of thugs would have clued in a while ago that Swiper is a no-good shit.

But I digress.

This morning the angel's fever had not abated, and she was forced, against her powerful will, to miss nursery school. She definitely doesn't follow after the old man. If I remember correctly, my school attendence record for missed classes per year was close to Kobe Bryant's current points per game average.

It was my immense pleasure to take care of the poor, sick Golden Child. Here's what transpired:

9:10 -- Mr. Mom again. Last night's dinner is the new breakfast.

9:15 -- Where was my head? I forgot to turn on The Wiggles: like kimchi and cold rice, a breakfast time staple at Chez Sparkles. God bless The Wiggles.

9:25 -- I'm pretty hungry myself. I wonder when I'll be able to eat that cup of instant curry noodles I have stashed in the cupboard? To stave my appetite, I drink some Del Monte tomato juice. The little girl passes when I offer her some. More for me, skipper. A lot of foreigners frown on Asian-style tomato juice, and a lot of it is shite, but Del Monte has their shit mastered. By the way, if anyone tells you that Mott's or V8 (which I actually prefer) is closer to the taste of real tomatoes than the Korean stuff, tell them they haven't got a clue. Tell them that Mott's and V8 is closer to tomato paste. Then kick them in the spine and steal their bus pass.

9:50 -- I've given up on breakfast. I have to set a good example, and curry noodles, M&Ms, and a large bag of sour cream and onion potato chips just isn't in the cards. Woe is me.

10:00 -- They're showing the replay of the Henin-Hardenne (to spell) vs. Sharapova Australian Open match on TV. We are both enthralled for several minutes, hopefully for totally different reasons.

10:10 -- Our first sign of trouble. The little girl has this life-like doll (I'm Talking Tina, and I want to...), and she wants to make it cry. The sadist. I tell her that it's not a very motherly thing to want to hurt a child, but she persists. I weigh the consequences of having to listen to the cries of a real kid, and those of a fake one. Obviously I opt for the latter. I wait until the thing's asleep, then toss it at the wall.

Waaaaaah!, followed by high fives.

10:30 -- After reading the girl Where The Wild Things Are (fear-mongering at its finest), she begs me to put on the Best of Elmo DVD. At this point I'm putty in her hands and she knows it. I probably should mention that I did have work to do today; it's no mean feat juggling a sick and cranky daughter and keeping an Internet poker hot streak going, you know. It's about this time that I broke out the "you're not really sick, are you?" routine. I would have pressed her harder, but I realized that she was so hot she probably could have kicked Johnny Storm's ass, so I left matters alone.

10:55 -- Sound asleep. It seems Elmo no longer gets her so excited that she starts biting the furniture and tries to create firearms out of Duplo. The end of an era.

11:10 -- Meatball sub. Finally. I turn on the TV (first by teasing the standby button with my tongue, then stroking its contours, telling it what great reception it receives, how smart and together it is). Nothing's on, so I settle on Oprah, which would normally be akin to pulling every one of my ball hairs out with tweezers, but today Ope has on James Frey, the guy whose book she endorsed for her bullshit Book Club (slight digression: one of my favorite books is East of Eden, and I need a new copy, but have put off purchasing one because every good copy I come across has her goddamn Book Club logo on it; I'm a man of principles), but who turned out to be a stinking, motherfucking liar of the highest order. Oprah is roasting the fucker and his publisher. THIS is riveting television. I'm expecting Oprah to leap on the guy and bite his shoulder like one of the zombies in Dawn of the Dead. For Frey, an ex junkie (he's says so, but that's probably bullshit too), I bet this upbraiding is a gazillion times worse than any intervention he has experienced or made up. Seriously, I won't say a negative thing about Oprah for a week. That was possibly the best thing I've seen on television, ever.

12:05 -- the little one wakes up. I give her a cookie (technically a biscuit, but I'm all Newspeak when it comes to shit my wife buys at Paris Baguette) and a glass of water.

12:10 -- The wife arrives home. She has that "thank god she's still alive" look she always wears whenever she returns from leaving me at home with the girl. It wasn't a completely smooth getaway, however. She wanted to know what the deceased Jehova's Witness lady was doing on our veranda, stuffed awkwardly behind the washing machine.

What Jehova's Witness lady? I feigned surprise.

10:49pm -- I have nothing to fear. My alibi is tight.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Back to Back Rhymin' -- III Times Dope

When is Kendall Gill coming back to the L?
You clearly have no respect for his boxing career. But with that hair, who could blame you?

During the spring of 2001, that John Starks had a nut removed due to testicle torsion.
See? That's an internet myth. Everyone knows he had his testicles removed prior to game 7 in 93.

Who wins the Superbowl?
Got to agree on the Steelers. I mean they have some of the best nicknames ever. Big Ben (Lord knows what sort of appendage comes with that title) and the Bus - The Bus! Incidentally, I predict that Bettis will be the first player to have a heart attack at the Superbowl, assuming Eddy Curry isn't in the stands wearing a Reggie Lewis throwback.

Another reason? Hines Ward was born in Seoul.

I have to wonder what the backstory is. He kind of looks half Asian. I wonder if he is the product of a juicy girl and Pvt. Tyrone Ward. Where I can find out this information? Google?

So yes, the Steelers get my vote. And for all the right reasons.

That said, I think the best subplot of the Super Bowl XL (XL!) is that Shaun Alexander is going into it with no contract. The guy is the league MVP, and has the potential to be the winning XL MVP with an expiring contract. What sort of leverage would that give him going into contract negotiations? The guy will be acting like Rod Tidwell if they win.

But what happens if the Cawks lose and he blows an ACL? Will the Seattle management just leave him in agony on the field and walk away? This would make for riveting television.

Who's performing at half-time this year?
I think Timberlake will be back. Performing with the Survivors of Breast Cancer Choir.

Your suggestion that Kobe will fake cry surprises me. Doesn't everything Kobe do feel fake? Look, Jordan was no angel, he was a big gambling, womanising, egocentric sumbitch. But you knew, just knew, it was exactly who he was from the way he held himself. But Kobe? I'm convinced dude is a sociopath. A sociopath who happens to be the greatest modern player. Have you read the police transcripts of the Kobe interview? Bizarre shit. I'm not sure what my point is, but I rest my case.

I'm very keen to see how the Amare thing pans out. Part of me hopes that he comes back strong. The other part of me knows that I don't have him on my fantasy roster, so fuck Amare! Honestly, I'm really quite impressed by what the Suns have done. Kurt Thomas hasn't been a huge addition, but he's done enough. I can't believe that Q and JJ leaving has had almost no effect. And bloody Boris. Don't get me started on Boris. I don't see them getting bounced in the first round. Plus Amare - the world could be theirs. Sans Amare, they'll still make noise.

As to Peja - if there's one thing that baffles me, it's all the sports writers saying "CALLED IT!". Peja/Test was the most obvious trade in history. It even makes sense in fantasy - how often does that kind of universal allignment happen? I'm sure you've got a spin on the trade, but I will say one thing - I trust Lamar Bird.

I think the trade works for the Kings because they have two years to see if Test can just get it. He's basically the man on the Kings now. What do they lose? Not much. Peja had checked out this season and I guarantee he would have opted out.

The Pacers? They've rid themselves of the headache. They know Peja could bolt, but a bolting Peja is a lot better than an unscrewed Test. If they resign him, they win. If Peja walks, at least they had a shot.

The trade in a nutshell? It's like the Pacers and Kings swapped gutshot straights. River pending.

My predictions?
- Shaq wakes himself (and the Heat) up. He's all about the post season at this stage of his career, surely?
- T-Mac guns for 60+. I don't know, if the back holds up, I see him reminding everyone who was the talk of the league 2 seasons ago.
- Knicks put together a ru... In the words of the great Chaz Reinhold: "Damn you, Roger. Damn it! Damn, you!"

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Back to Back Rhymin' -- MC 900 ft. Sparkles

This is just like when I first saw Pacino and DeNiro share the screen in 'Heat': the wait is finally over.

1) It took the guy scoring 81 points, but it finally Dawnn Lewis'd on me how young Kobe still is. It's sobering to realize that he reasonably has at least 6 or 7 good seasons left in him. By the time he's set to retire, he's going to be like Mark Messier or Julio Franco to me: I won't be be able to fathom that he's still playing.

PS - When is Kendall Gill coming back to the L?

2) My messy divorce with the Knicks came 2 seasons after they faced the Spurs in the Finals. The next season they faced the Raps in the first round of the playoffs, and I was torn, much like how Pater Van Gundy must have felt watching his sons coach the Rockets and Heat against one another. The next season, when they faced the Raps again and lost, I knew an era had ended. Not really an era, even, but the (praiseworthy) last gasps of the Ewing/Oakley/Starks years. Look at who my heroes were: Latrell Spreewell, Marcus Camby, Larry Johnson, Allan Houston. Charlie fucking Ward.When I read, in an Internet cafe during the spring of 2001, that John Starks had a nut removed due to testicle torsion, that pretty much sealed the deal.

But I still hold hope for a reconcilliation. Someday.

3) Kobe's my MVP as of right now, much to my own chagrin. I hate the guy. Nash deserves some love, but Kobe has a worse team than last season, and they have a winning record. In all likelihood they're making the playoffs. When they start to tank (and I imagine the fallout from his 81-point performance might have a negative effect on his teammates), I'll switch my pick to Nash or Chauncy Billups.What I'm fearing the most is THAT scenario. You thought the Nash/O'Neal debate was bad last year, just wait until the race card REALLY gets pulled and people start wondering why a white PG with a 50-win season is getting preference over a black PG with a 60-win (70?) one.

On to your questions. I'm getting all Memento and answering them in reverse order:

Who wins the Superbowl?
A week ago I would have said the Seahawks, but I don't think you can take the Steelers for granted. They have a '97 Denver Broncos thing going, and the Seahawks, while good, aren't exactly the Favre-led Packers of '97 (Roethlisberger isn't exactly John Elway either, though). I wish I could be more excited about the big game, but I haven't been into to football hardcore since moving to Korea. That might change as the sport grows in popularity and more games are broadcast here, which seems to be the trend. We'll see. Plus, I'd rather watch the games with Korean announcers. The CBS/ESPN/Fox etc. announcers are so mind-numbingly annoying to listen to. My grandfather, a huge baseball fan, always watches games with the sound off. It used to bug me as a kid, but now I understand where he's coming from.

So, yeah, my pick is the Steelers. The crowd in Detroit will probably be 80-90% Steelers fans, which will help them significantly. I just hope it's a good game.

Who's performing at half-time this year? Jenna Jameson?

Who or What has been the biggest disappointment of the season?
The Miami Heat, for one. Not that their underachieving record is that big a surprise, given the dubious off-season additions to their roster, but still. They made those moves in an effort to be able to close out big games, and what happens? They still choke in crucial situations. I watched them come from behind last week against the Spurs. I think they were up by 4 with under 3 minutes to go, and of course San Antonio absolutely embarrassed them in the final minutes. Same old (new) Heat. Jayson Williams has come around this past month, but Antoine "motherfucker" Walker is still a chucker, and GP is still an old man. And Shaq looks like he's hiding a small child under his uniform. To paraphrase Bill Walton, "put down the hoagie, big man! Put it down!" If they get bounced out of the playoffs in the first round, which is a definite possibility, they'll be the biggest disappointment.

Another huge disappointment has been the Sonics. Seriously, the team this year isn't that different than last year's team. What, they can't compete without Jerome James? Nate Mac's departure hurts, for sure, but he's not exactly setting the world on fire up in Portland. I'm genuinely confused. Besides the fact that they don't play any D, they have a good team, one that should be competing with the best in their division. A lot of people think that they overachieved last year, but I don't buy that. They don't look that great on paper, but when you see them play, you understand. Except for most of this season, I guess. But that amazing 2 OT win in Phoenix a few days ago proves that they have what it takes. Why can't they play like that all the time? Bob Hill is a competent coach, by all indications, and if they miss the playoffs, which seems likely, they'll be a bigger disappointment than the Heat.

Individual disappointments?

Peja Stojakovich. He had a pretty crappy year last season, but I expected him to rebound and play like fire this year. No Webber, contract year...everything seemed to indicate that he'd have a fantastic year in Sacramento. And he did, for a brief period early in the season. But then he got "injured," missed a bunch of games, began shooting a nauseating percentage and running up and down the court slower than my daughter doing long division. Now he's been caught up in a nixed deal that would have sent him to the Pacers for Artest. That can't help matters.

By the way, when I discovered in November that Peja's only a year older than me, I was shocked. I wouldn't have been more surprised if I had learned that Halle Berry is a man.

Of course the Rockets, specifically Tracy McGrady, have been disappointing, too. But McGrady's and Yao's injuries are real, not made up. So that exempts them.

Bold second half predictions?

I honestly believe that Ron Artest is going to announce his retirement.

The Spurs are going to get upset in the playoffs, then every sports writer is going to claim that the signs were there all year, that they all saw it coming. On second thought, what am I saying?

Latrell Sprewell will return to basketball. Not since Larry Johnson retired will there have been a more underwhelming news item.

Kobe Bryant will fake cry during a taped half-time interview segment.

Amare Stoudamire will return from injury just in time for the playoffs, and the Suns will get swept in the first round. Not since I lost my virginity will so much built-up anticipation end so quickly and so messily.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Back to Back Rhymin'

What's the biggest story of the NBA season thus far?
That’s a given. Kobe... hell, anyone dropping 81 is just beyond comprehension. You mention that all he needs to do now is sleep with 20,000 women. Why stop there? Let’s send him to Iraq to kill 20,000 militants.

When the whole rape thing happened, a part of me, a dark disturbed part, secretly hoped that Kobe would go to jail. That’d he’d get 8-10 years and be out in 4. Whilst he was in the pokey, LBJ and Darko (!) would own the league. In the meantime, Kobe pulls a Max Cady. Can you imagine? An angry 30 year old, tattooed, ripped, and balding Kobe Bean Bryant getting out of prison? Now that’s drama.

I’d imagine him going for 60 against the LBJ Knicks, running into the stands, plunging his hand into David Stern’s chest, ripping his heart out and showing it to him before he died. But that’s a fiction. We all know that the Commish is made of steel and has no heart.

Speaking of which, did Charles E. Smith ever get out of Prison?

Back to the 81 game. People will invariably lament that Kobe is just “a scorer”, but to do so is shortsighted. Just how much of an accomplishment is 81 points? I was thinking back to great “one dimensional” scorers of times long gone and I thought of Dominique Wilkins. Now, ‘Nique was your prototypical scorer. A joy to watch, but widely criticized for being only that – a scorer.

Did Wilkins ever come close to doing what Bean did? Not by a long shot. So, let’s take it a step further. Nique’s defining game was arguably in 1988 in the infamous Boston Shootout with Bird. All time game. Wilkins was off the hook and Bird goes for 20 in the fourth. Epic performances from both players, but let’s look at the stats:

Wilkins 47. Bird 34.

81 points, total. Think about it.

What's the most interesting?
It’s been an odd season, but if you’ll excuse my personal bias, it has to be the sheer and utter clusterfuck that is the New York Knickerbockers. A few years ago, I recall thinking that “Layden sure is a fuck up, but that this has to end sooner or later. Just be patient”. I can’t believe it’s 2006. Not only is it 2006, but there is NO END IN SIGHT. Not only is there no end in sight, but Zeke still has a job? Only in America.

Having read Chris Sheridan’s dissection of the Curry Trade, I officially want to kill someone – Bean style. If the Knicks were a corporation or a business, would this be allowed to happen? Wouldn’t someone launch a hostile takeover? Wouldn’t a government organisation look into what was happening and administer some god damned justice? Where’s Trump? Doesn’t he have a group of mercenaries? It just makes me angry. If Isiah is still around by the time Brooklyn gets the Nets, I’m jumping ship.

And who do you have picked as MVP?
Kobe is the best in the game. Bar none. Is he the MVP? No... at least, not yet. Bottom line is that the Lakes are barely over .500 and not even the best LA team in their division. As much as it pains me to admit it, it has to be Nash. The fact that the Solars can lose Amare and still maintain their pace is a testament to his value as a player. It’s a tough situation, because the Stones are the MVT. Everyone else pales in comparison at this stage.

That said, if Kobe averages 50 a game for the next few months and the Lakes take the div, I’ll change my vote. That negro is crazy.

Star 81

I watched the double OT Suns/Sonics game today. It was an instant classic in my opinion, the NBA equivalent of Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed going blow for blow (and, like Balboa/Creed, neither defended much). Ray Allen was amazing, the definition of clutch. So were Steve Nash and Shawn Marion; there just wasn't enough time on the clock. Seriously, the Suns didn't really lose that game. The Sonics won, but it could have gone either way.

But that's not the most amazing thing that happened today in the NBA. Not by far.

Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a single game.

Now, I despise Bryant as a person, but I won't take any shots at him, at least for the rest of the day. He deserves some respect for this stunning achievement.

81 points.

As any serious basketball fan knows, the only player to ever score more points in a single game was Wilt Chamberlain.

I wonder if Kobe's next goal is to sleep with over 20,000 women.

(sorry, that one was too good to pass up)

81 points!!!

The most Jordan ever scored was 69. Scoring like Bryant did today truly is like catching lightning in a bottle.

Just think, he was 20 points away from actually beating Wilt's record. And if you don't think he's going to make a serious push for 101, you're wrong. Kobe heard all the naysayers dissing him for opting out of the 3rd quarter in that 62-point game he had against Dallas last month. He was just itching for a chance to right that wrong. Now that he's scored 81 (81 fucking points!!!), some people in the press are invariably going to start wondering aloud (or in print) about whether Kob has a chance to break 100.

But even if he doesn't (I say he'll try, but there's a big difference between trying and doing), his game today will be remembered forever. Too bad the team he played today was my hometown team, the Toronto Raptors. Still, I ain't mad. As I wrote last week, when something great happens in this sport, I admire it. Tomorrow I'll probably go back to hating Bryant again -- and part of me is bitter that it was Bryant, and not, say, Allen Iverson, who busted 81 -- but the man deserves his props.

Good job, Kobe Bryant. Congratulations.

PS - as I wrote in this post last month, I knew it was going to happen this season: http://psychedelickimchi.blogspot.com/2006/01/buggin-out-73.html

[pats self on back like Barry Horowitz]

PPS - If I find out ESPN, Sports Illustrated, or some other publication has stolen my headline, I'm calling my lawyer.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Balloon Man (a poem)

Balloon Man
You scared me when I saw you
Sitting on the sofa in my darkened living room

At first I thought you were my cat
But then I remembered I don't have one

Are you lonely, Balloon Man?
Would you like some beef jerky to eat?
Or a crossword puzzle to help kill some time?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Strokes, First Impressions of Earth -- Review

Once hailed as the saviours of rock, I get the impression that it's no longer cool to like The Strokes. After their fantastic first album, a lot of critics were disappointed with 2003's Room On Fire. I think many believed The Strokes would switch up their sound, travel in new musical directions, beome "relevant," "significant." Whatever. I contend that, in many ways, Room On Fire is better than Is This It. They took their sound and, instead of changing it, perfected it. But rock critics don't tend to like it when a band does that. They want bands to start messing around with hurdy-gurdies or some shit. The fact is, The Strokes are not Radiohead or the White Stripes. They have their sound and they do their thing with gusto.

Perhaps until now. While First Impressions... isn't a radical departure from their signature sound, they do take baby steps. The irony is that the press will likely (if they haven't already done so) call the album a disappointment, and critisize the group for stepping too far out of their established soundscape.

Is it a disappointment? Is it a triumph? Let's see, shall we?

You Only Live Once
Vintage Strokes. Not the best song they've ever crafted, but it's the old, reliable Strokes that fans have come to dig, doing what they do best. As far as album openers go, this is probably their weakest, but it's still a very decent tune. By the way, what's up with the 2-year breaks between albums? I'm sure they can make songs like this quite effortlessly. They should be releasing an album every year (or more frequently).

This is the first single and video. I first heard it almost two months ago, and upon my initial listen was a little disappointed. But the second time I listened to it I really, really got into it. This is a great song, one of their best, in my opinion. Singer Julian Casablancas has a terrific voice, and he uses it here wonderfully, at times melodic, then screaming, jarringly loud, then serenely subdued. But even when he screams, there's still a note of perfect musicality. I'd put him right up there with guys like Thom Yorke in terms of unorthodox-yet-sublimely-beautiful voices. No singer today sounds quite like Casablancas. He often sounds like he's just woken up, is bored, or maybe hungover, but there's an intangibility behind his voice that makes it great, similar to how Lou Reed is an awful singer in a traditional sense, yet once you hear that voice, you like it instantly. The album's best song, and a slight musical departure for the band that yields a perfect result. Love those propelling guitars.

Heart In A Cage
We're 3-for-3. This song really reminds me of The Passenger by Iggy Pop. Great lyrics. Song's highlight: when Casablancas keeps it simple stupid and chants "left, left, left, left, left, left, left..." Take my word for it, you just have to hear it.

A significantly more upbeat tune in contrast with the last one. Like the album's opener, this is signature Strokes. The guitars during the bridge are probably the greatest part of the song. So far, this is proving to be the best lyrical outing for the group. Not that their lyrics have ever been particularly weak, but the last three tracks have upped the ante considerably.

On The Other Side
The opening tricks the listener into thinking this song is going to be typical Strokes, but, once Casablancas begins singing, it takes on an almost early U2esque quality. Another departure that works well. Casablancas's verses maybe could have been shortened a little, but that's nit-picking.

Vision Of Division
This song starts a little weak, but picks things up with melodic changes, and by the time Casablancas starts screaming "how long must I wait?" it's in full-on experimental mode. This is probably one that will have longtime fans divided. I liked it. That said, it's the album's weakest moment thus far, but still quite solid.

Ask Me Anything
Another slightly experimental track. Synthesizers! This song would suck elephant penis were it not for Casablancas. It sounds almost cinematic, in an idependent, Paul Thomas Anderson kind of way.

I didn't really care much for this one. Maybe it will grow on me over time...like a malignant tumor!

Killing Lies
Uh oh, I don't like the direction we're taking. That's 2 pretty mediocre songs in a row. This and the last one probably should have ended up as b-sides or something. They're not bad songs, just not particularly good ones, either. I'm going to watch Judge Judy and make an omelet.

Fear Of Sleep
Back in the motherfucking house! It's a good thing, too. If this wasn't a good song, I was going to take a cheap shot and comment on the irony of the song's title. Once Casablancas starts shouting "you're no fun!" I'm hooked (although he had me at "hello"; it's not too late to be making Jerry Maguire jokes, is it?). Anyone else notice that Casablancas shouts a lot on this record?

15 Minutes
My wife offered to make me a tuna salad sandwich for lunch today. Because I love tuna salad, because I love sandwiches, and because I love my wife, I said sure, I'd love a tuna salad sandwich, thanks. So I'm eating this sandwich, and I notice it's kind of sweet. So I call the wife and inquire why my sandwich tastes sweet. "Because I put syrup on it," she tells me. Naturally. What's a tuna salad sandwich without syrup?

Oh, the song? You don't want to know. Let's just say that the sandwich I ate for lunch was better.

Ize Of The World
Remember when Duran Duran started snorting lots of coke and making shitty music? This album has inexplicably become the equivalent of that.

Evening Sun
OK, this is a good song. Not a great song, but after the last couple of tracks I'll take what I can get.

Red Light
Now this is a great song! Too little, too late, though. A shame. This album probably would have worked a lot better as a 7 or 8-song EP (EDIT: I eat those words).

The Verdict: This album is like a bad relationship. It starts out amazingly, everything is new and fresh, you keep thinking to yourself, "this is the one!" then, at about the 6-month mark, you wake up one morning and realize you're lying in bed next to a psychotic harpy, and you keep praying for it to end quickly and painlessly. Mercifully, it does, but the next moment you're back at it again, looking forward to the next girl sure to take your heart and crush it into pulp. And, like a bad relationship, you'll, in retrospect, remember the good more than the bad.

Strokes, remember all the good times we used to have together? Those were the good old days.

4 1/2 out of 5*_*

'Melo Man Ace

I was fortunate enough to catch the Nuggets/Cavaliers match on TV today. I'm always intrigued watching Lebron, as every basketball fan is -- but I was also keen to see Carmelo Anthony. A lot has been said and written about how the press created a rivalry that was, in retrospect, lopsided; that Lebron vs. Wade is the real argument; but 'Melo has been playing like fire this year. It took a little while for the kindling to alight, but he's now a full-on blaze. Of course, his rebounding (a respectable 5.4 per game) and assists (2.7 per) aren't as impressive as James's or Wade's, but 'Melo's a different type of player. Once he gets that 3-point jumper down (which he hits better than Wade, although that's not saying much; my mother is almost as accurate behind the arc as Wade is), boy, look out, he's gonna be serious trouble.

Anthony today was ice. He didn't score many points (17) and he didn't rebound much (a paltry single board), but he never looked frustrated, and the Cavaliers were double teaming him the whole game. Lebron, by contrast, showed that he's great yet still a tad green when it comes to playing well when it matters. I'm not going to call the guy the basketball version of Peyton Manning, but ESPN showed a telling statistic during the game: James is 2-for-10 in games with fewer than 10 seconds left and in which his team is in position to tie or lead. Anthony, on the other hand, is a very respectable 7-for-11.

With under a minute left, 'Melo blew past Ira Newble for a dunk that put the Nuggets up by 2. Double teamed for most of the game, it was James who left guarding him to protect the perimeter. Bad move. Newble, in poor defensive position, left 'Melo an easy lane to the basket. Slam dunk.

Credit the Cavs for staying in it, or discredit the Nuggets for allowing them to hang around (I tend toward the latter), but, regardless, the fact is that Lebron had two opportunities at the free-throw line to possibly send the game into overtime. The first opportunity, he hit a free-throw and had to purposefully miss the second, which he set up perfectly but was fouled again, going to the hoop with the rebound. The second opportunity, he hit the first, but missed the second with 0.6 on the clock. Alan Henderson missed a heartbreaking tip-in (don't be too hard on yourself, old man; your team's leader was the one who dropped that ball when it mattered), and that was it, game over.

Thing is, I knew Lebron was going to choke at the line. It was written all over his face and body language. Dude was shook. He looked like he was going to throw up. Ever notice how much he bites his fingernails, during time-outs and at the line? It's borderline disgusting. This is a kid scared to fuck up.

Let's remember that, although he looks as though he's pushing thirty, the guy is still only 20 (21?) years old. Of course he's going to be nervous in clutch situations. Maybe it'd be different were the spotlight not always on him. That's how it looks in 'Melo's case. The guy has tons less pressure. He was already discounted for his subpar season last year. He's (unfairly) been labelled as a disappointment, not fulfilling his early promise. He's got nothing to lose.

This season has shown that Carmelo Anthony, to me, is maturing as a player, gradually, and not giving in to his detractors. Lebron, and to some extent Dwyane Wade, haven't been allowed that luxury. They're expected to be perfect.

I wonder which is preferable.

PS - Near the end of the game the announcers commented that the game wasn't that great for either player, that both had been rather quiet. Really? Anthony's was, granted, because of the swarming double teams he encountered every time he touched the ball. Lebron was 1 assist shy of a triple-double. How is that a quiet game?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Psychedelic Kimochi *Special Edition*

Maybe it's just me, but I put this one up there with the first time I espied Pam Anderson patrolling the shores on Baywatch:

Monday, January 16, 2006

I said "I'm 19," she said "stop lion."

When I was an infant on Rigel 4 and the space monsters were inserting the recurring dreams program (I'm using the same opening that I wrote on the Christmas card to my mother; I hope my redundance can be forgiven), I think I got the short end of the stick. Some people get exploding teeth, others get to fly (a dream I've experienced only twice during my lifetime. I should have smoked more pot as a teenager); I got recurring lions.


I've never been face to face with a real lion. Shit, I've never even met a member of the Lions Club. Why lions? Is this like a Lovecraft story where one of my ancestors was part of an archaelogical expedition to a remote jungle in Africa, and, there, had sex with a lioness who was really of an ancient race of lion gods and godesses? I bet that's it. It might explain why I get a hard-on whenever I see the MGM logo.

A few nights ago I had another lion-dream. I was walking to the bus stop, on my way to work, when I remembered that I forgot to take my wallet. I turned back, but about 30 yards away noticed a lion sitting in front of the brick wall I had passed just 1 second earlier (I walk fast in my dreams...that is unless I'm being chased by a faceless guy trying to kill me. Those times, I tend to scoot about as quick as a fly on fly paper). If it wasn't winter break, I'm pretty sure that lion would have eaten at least a half dozen elementary school kids. I'll leave it up to the reader to decide whether that was luck or misfortune.

Anyway, I decide that I'd rather carjack a ride to work than stroll past that lion (I can be aloof at times, but you try looking all nonchalant when there's a fucking lion sitting on a patch of grass next to the sidewalk), and walk towards the bus stop. When I get to the intersection, I think to myself "that's what's wrong with this country: they don't keep tabs on their lions, they just let them roam free to maul anyone whom they come across."

Then, and I swear to god this is true, I saw a tiger prowling in front of E-Mart. I think he was pissed that the lion was stealing his thunder -- after all, I'm living in Korea. Shouldn't a tiger be more apt? -- but I'm no Sigmund Freud. What I'm hoping will happen tonight is that the lion and the tiger will square off against one another, winner take all. I'm going to eat a tuna, curry, bacon and onion sandwich in hope of it coming true.

Rest assured, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The 2008 USA Basketball Team

Although I'm Canadian, I always root for the USA national team when it comes to the World Championships and the Olympics. I've been a basketball junkie for most of my life, and I admire skill and talent. It's the same reason my favorite team is the Miami Heat (a team I once loathed): it's fun to watch a team with loads of talent and even more promise. And although I claim to hate the Pistons and Spurs, I'll never miss a televised game which either is playing in (the Pistons moreso than the Spurs), because it's remarkable to see the way they play, their game. In fact, when the Pistons beat Miami in Detroit a few weeks ago, I couldn't be mad; that's how much I admire what they do. It's the same for other stuff, too: I named The Game's The Documentary the best hip-hop album of 2005. It's not my favorite album of the year (which is probably Cage's Hell's Winter; it wasn't a great year for hip-hop music), but I have to give it up when something is put together as perfectly as that album was. You might argue that the album is subpar, just as one might argue that the Pistons are not all that -- but in both cases there's usually a bias behind it.

Don't hate. Appreciate.

And that's what I tend to do when watching the US national team. Sure, I might get a kick out of seeing Team Canada beat them (something that will never happen, but that's what hockey is for), but the pleasure wouldn't last hardly a day, I think. When Team USA got their ultimate wake-up call 2 years ago in Athens, I was sort of depressed. Oh, how the once mighty had fallen. Team USA's bronze medal has impacted the game of basketball more than many people think or are willing to admit. Besides the obvious fact that scouts are searching harder than ever to find international talent, players such as Stephon Marbury (who should never have been selected for the 2004 team) and Steve Francis, to name only two, are now seen in a new light by most fans as all sizzle and no steak. In fact, this opinion has unfairly been applied to other players -- such as Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson; hell I'll even place my most hated player in the league, Wince Carter, into that group -- who impact the game better than Messrs. Marbury and Francis.

Which is not to praise Iverson et al too much. All three have proven to be tough to handle, and I don't mean on the court. Kobe knows how to win (and he's making a strong push to become this year's MVP frontrunner), but he's still one of the most selfish players -- if not the most selfish -- in the L. He's also a borderline nutjob, but that's pure conjecture on my part. Plus, I don't think rapists should represent any country in the Olympics. Maybe that's just me. Iverson has shown he can win, too, but I think he's still more concerned with scoring than making his teammates better. He's a hard worker on the court, but he doesn't put in the effort off of it; and he couldn't help the '04 team get it together. Sorry, come again. Plus, remember that the Beijing Olympics are still 2 years away. I don't think he'll be as sharp and effective as he is now, not with the punishment he takes regularly. I feel kind of bad for stating that Iverson shouldn't be a part of the '08 team (he's mentioned that he's in it to win it, which is saying something...unlike Tim Duncan, who has no sense of what a gold medal in '08 means to fans of USA basketball), but he couldn't help them out last time as, arguably, the team leader. I wouldn't make that mistake a 2nd time.

I'm not going to give much time to why Wince shouldn't be on the team. He'll have become a Thai citizen and have had his sex change operation by 2008 anyway, so why bother?

So Team USA needs some reliable, "team first" guys. They also need a great coach who can reach young players in a short period of time (ie. not Larry Brown, who may have singlehandedly lost the gold medal for Team USA in '04). Here's who I would pick. Please keep in mind that a lot can change in 2 years.

Dwyane Wade
I keep flip-flopping over whether Wade is better than Lebron. Honestly, I don't know. I like Wade better, I just wish he didn't turn the ball over so much, improved his free throw percentage (which actually isn't too shabby), and got over his allergy to shooting (and making) 3-pointers. Anyway, he's a no-brainer: he's young, he's got the right attitude, and he's, quite simply, a basketball marvel.

Lebron James Make him the captain. By 2008 he'll probably be averaging 35/9/11. Could singlehandedly win the gold medal if given the chance.

Chauncy Billups
The absolute perfect point guard to head Team USA. In fact, why not select the Pistons' entire starting five? Unlike the Spurs, they're all American. Does anyone believe that, with a superstar bench backing them, they'd have any trouble beating any country in the world? If they win the NBA Championship this year, they should receive some serious consideration.

Amare Stoudamire
If his surgically-repaired knee holds up, he's only going to get better.

Ben Wallace
You want D? Look no further. I think Wallace's 'fro and goo-goo goggles, combined with Rip Hamilton's face mask, would leave their opponents shook.

As a side-note, I've heard that Bruce Bowen is being considered because of his defensive skills, but dude'll be 37 in 2008. I just don't think he'll be as good a defender by that time. Plus, his "sweep the leg" technique probably won't fly too well on the international stage. Like Dikembe Mutumbo, Bowen is a true OG in the way he comes off as a really nice guy who really is a goon. Maybe that's needed, but by 2008 he'll be more Vito Corleone in the original Godfather film than Michael Corleone.

Chris Paul
Until he convinces me otherwise, he deserves to be on this team. His playing with a torn ligament in his thumb proves he has the desire to win -- and he's on the New Orleans freaking Hornets. No way he'll let down a USA team bound for glory.

Chris Bosh
By all accounts a great teammate with a level head.

Jermaine O'Neal

Dwight Howard
Double ditto.

Andre Miller
What's the harm in loading up on traditional, good-decision-making point guards and strong, young big men? Miller beats out J Kidd, because I think by then, with his age and that knee of his, Kidd might be eligible for the Special Olympics.

Kevin Garnett
He deserves to win something.

Richard Hamilton
This is probably the biggest no-brainer that isn't Lebron, but I bet he doesn't even get an invitation. Dude has nerves of steel in clutch situations, and would make the perfect complimentary SG to any of the above PGs.

Coach: Greg motherfuckin' Popovich. Phillie Jax is a close 2nd, but Pop knows how opposing countries' players will play better than any other coach, I suspect.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Psychedelic Kimochi

For the nine or so months that I've been writing this blog, I've debated whether or not to make posting pics of scantily-clad, beautiful women a regular thing. I post pics from time to time, but it's hardly a constant theme here. Honestly, I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not. After all, there are a ton of places to find spank material on the 'net; is it really necessary here? Probably not. I also realize that posting sexy pics might not appeal to my female readers -- and Sparkles has always been about pleasing the ladies.

So think of this as an experiment of sorts. If you like it, tell me. Or don't. But if you don't like it, definitely let me know. If enough people tell me it's unappealing to them, I'll 86 Psychedelic Kimochi. Until that time, however, I give you the lovely Reon Kadena:

Sweet wet dreams.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Apparently Peja reaggravated his back during today's game with the Rockets. Bullshit. I saw the game, and when Peja sat down with a few minutes left in the 3rd, he was fine. Or as fine as someone who isn't trying and possibly knows he's getting traded in a few days might look.
I'm telling you, either Peja's getting traded tomorrow and Rick Adleman gave him the 4th off to arrange his packing, or dude is faking hurt worse than I used to fake sick during junior high. I don't buy it.

Again, I watched the game. It was the shittiest game I watched all year, but I watched all of it. Peja took 5 shots (making 1); but the most telling part is that none of his teammates would pass to him. After making his first shot, he took a couple of ill-advised jumpers in the first half, and that was it. He was on the floor for over 28 minutes and touched the ball like 7 or 8 times.
Shit, he's 28 -- one year older than me. I can't believe he would deteriorate so blatantly and utterly as a premier SG/SF. He's gonna be traded this week. And I think his team knew it today. The news that his back is sore again is just a smoke screen in case the deal doesn't happen as fast as the Kings hope.

Based on his tentativeness on the court today, I sort of believe he's going to be traded to the Rockets. Almost as though he didn't want to show up his new teammates. That might explain all the scrubs Van Gundy was putting out there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


As always, when I have nothing major to write about, but feel I must write something to appease my fans (all 2 of them), you get nuggets like the following:

1) If there's one good thing about spam mail (besides helping me get kickass deals on Cialis, that is), it's that it's a veritable treasure trove of great names to use for fiction. Billie Mayo, Jarvis Sorensen, Deon Ashby, Archie Bradford, Geraldine Pendleton, and let's not forget Erika Gage...I never again have to waste time coming up with a decent character name; I just check my inbox and there are literally hundreds of them.

2) The Phoenix Suns make it to triple OT for the second time in like 3 weeks and lose again? That's gotta be some kind of record.

3) This week's "Cold Gettin' Dumb" award goes to the lady who clicked her tongue sharply and stormed off because I hit the UP button for the elevator, while she had already pressed the DOWN one. Lady, this may come as a total shock, but since you pressed the DOWN button first, and the elevator was on the way down, it would have stopped and taken you down first. Dumbass. Extra dumbass bonus points awarded because I was at ground level and there are only 2 sub-level floors in our building. Is it really that fucking hard to take the stairs? I see this every morning when the lazy-ass KT workers wait sometimes upwards of 3 minutes to take the elevator to the 2nd floor. Now that's fucking lazy.

4) A few nights ago I dreamt that I was in the audience of Inside The Actors Studio With James Lipton. His guest was Andrew McCarthy, and all of Lipton's questions were about Weekend At Bernie's. Actually, that might not have been a dream.

5) For everybody who got a kick out of the Lazy Sunday/Chronic(what?)cles of Narnia video that was shown on Saturday Night Live a few weeks back, check out http://thelonelyisland.com/. It's ka-blamo.

6) This whole Ron Artest drama has put something into perspective for me. People tend to make a lot of comparisons between the NBA and major label hip-hop, and to some extent the parallels are accurate, but not when it comes to professionalism. Stern and Co. have taken a lot of heat for the age limit and dress code (warranted, in my opinion), but at least they take accountability for their employees and make an effort to appear professional. Not so at major record labels. Take a look at the criticism Artest's teammates have leveled at him. If this were the world of hip-hop, you think they'd be as polite, as restrained? Never. Jermaine O'Neal would have called him a "motherfuckin' Benedict Arnold" and made statements to the press that Ron-Ron better watch his back. You think Stern would stand for something like that? Never. Which is probably why you won't read any stories about a major NBA star being gunned down.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound

Many people go to church on Sundays. I go to E-Mart. It's a lot like going to church, actually, only I worship low prices instead of the Lord, and I read from fliers advertising discounts rather than the Holy Scripture. Both are equally bothersome, but I choose E-Mart because, if I go there, at least I can sleep in.

There was a time when Sunday meant football and gorging myself with all kinds of bad foods. Sadly, those days are past. Sunday in 2006 means waking up at 9am, slightly hungover, on 4-5 hours sleep and feigning that I have a stomach ache so that the Big Nurse (aka my lovely wife) will hopefully take pity on me and let me veg at home all day. Sometimes it works; usually it doesn't. There are things to be done, you see, and what better day than my one day of the week off in which to do them? Grin and bear it, Sparkles.

One thing that needs doing is shopping for groceries. I'm all for ordering them on-line and having them delivered to our door by some high school drop-out with greasy hair, but the wife doesn't share in my enthusiasm. Apparently shopping for food is supposed to be fun, a family thing. I must have missed the memo.

I can always tell how awful the E-Mart experience will be for me by checking out how many shopping carts are left out front. On a day like today, when a big ass truck from some other E-Mart (possibly the flagship one in Hell) pulls up to deliver extra shopping carts because the ones here are almost gone, you know it's going to be pretty bad. The look on my face upon entering is likely the same as a calf before the slaughter: I don't know exactly what is in store for me, but I know it's not going to be pleasant.

I think we were there for about 45 minutes. I'm not sure, because while my wife shopped for food (the little girl nestled safely in her cart; I wish I were small enough to fit into one of those fuckers), I sort of blacked out while dodging all manner of harmful peril, from ajumma elbows (I think the aged darlings whittle them to keep them sharp) to the dreaded shopping cart from behind ankle bump (I swear, the next time that happens, I'm going to maim whomever the culprit is with their own sack of spring onions). Shopping at E-Mart for me is like how I imagine electro shock therapy to be: later on I don't tend to recall my previous "treatment", but I sure as hell remember that I don't want to experience it again.

Maybe that's why I drink on Sundays. I need something, anything, to mask the horror.

Friday, January 06, 2006

This Bed Isn't Big Enough For The 2 Of Us

Hit the road, Mom. And quit hogging the covers.

Where Have All The Flowers Gone (A Poem)

Sometimes I get asked "Sparkles, what's your favorite flower?"
The truth is that I really don't have one
Roses look nice, but that seems too obvious
So I tend to say "orchids"
Other times I might say "daffodils"

My favorite constellation is Orion
But it's a tough call
Ursa Major is pretty neat, too
As is the one that looks like some guy groping a donkey
I don't know what it's called, but I'm pretty sure a lot of donkeys do

Maybe one of the stars on Orion's belt has fallen
And we just don't know it yet;
Just like a flower's petals might fall
But we're too caught up in stuff like who the CEO of Proctor and Gamble is
To notice

In many ways, flowers and stars are beneficent
We just take it for granted

Thursday, January 05, 2006

This has everything!

1) I've been a little busy this week while typing up my doctoral thesis that Albert Einstein never existed. Here's the gist: I always see the same two black and white photos of the guy (the serious one, and the one where he's sticking out his tongue), never any videos or Internet sex tapes. I'm pretty confident it'll blow my professors away, Will Hunting style.

2) While we're on the topic of university, is anyone else intrigued by the reality show Tommy Lee Goes To College? I'm super into it, not actually because of Tommy Lee, but because of his hotter-than-anything tutor (name: Natalie Riedmann). This gal deserves to be famous. If she hasn't posed nude for Playboy for one of their college girls pictorials, we are truly living in an unjust and unenlightened world. I haven't felt this way about someone I saw on TV since I first saw Nicole Eggert on Charles In Charge.

I was going to post a pic, but no photos I could find on the web did her any justice at all. She's absolutely stunning.

PS - Wifey's (Ow!) hotter (Ow!), of course. Ow!

3) And while we're on the subject of hot girls, what's up with the New Jersey Nets lately?

4) I'm not going to write a full review, because I'm really fucking lazy, and because it was released a few years ago, but anyone who hasn't seen 21 Grams should do so this instant. Instant classic. I called Sympathy For Lady Vengeance a masterpiece in my review of it, but it's child's play compared to the beauty of 21 Grams. And, if that hasn't yet sold you on seeing it, there's this: you also get to see Naomi Watts's breasts. Good times. For the ladies: you get to see Sean Penn's buttock, but I'm not sure if that's an incentive or a deterrent to see it.

5) My name is Tiberious aka Sparkles, and I am suffer from emetophobia. It's been 14 years since I last hurled.


6) I've recently come to the conclusion that the funniest movie quote of all time is "pull da strings! Pull da strings!" Any quote that can make me smile to myself when I think of it, while I'm out alone in public, deserves the honor.

7) I'm not a fan of college football, but that Rose Bowl game today was absolutely killer. Great game. I'm glad I tuned in. By the way, what's up with Pete Carroll looking so happy after the defeat?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Buggin' Out (73*)

I posted here almost a month ago about a dream I had where Yao Ming scored 73 points in a single game. I've been having a feeling all year that someone is going to explode for 70+ points, but of course it won't be Chairman Yao. Anyway, this came before Kobe's 62-point ejaculation against Dallas a short while ago, and at the time I remember being real pissed off at Phillie Jax and Kob for not making me a modern-day Nastrodamus. I STILL contend that someone (read: Lebron James) will break 70 points this year, possibly more. Scoring this year in the NBA is looking a lot like like MLB's steroid-enhanced home run race(s) of a few years past. Someone's going to go for history.

It won't be Yao, of course, but that got me to thinking: what are some personal achievements even more ludicrous, yet still remotely possible, than Yao dropping 73?

- Reggie Miller coming out of retirement to help the Ron Artestless (that's fun to type) Pacers make a strong playoff run.

- Larry Brown quitting before the end of the regular season, then writing a tell-all book about it.

- Tyson Chandler collapsing on the court and dying of a heart attack during a televised game, making the Bulls head office realize that they traded the wrong young center. Karma permits me to write that because it has been clinically proven that Chandler, in fact, has no heart.

- Vince Carter admits to the world that he has no penis. This is actually true, but the chances of him personally admitting it are very slim.

- Ray Allen wins the MVP award. I'm convinced that, were his team playing like they did last year, and with Shuttlesworth playing like he has been this year, he'd be the hands-down "most overhyped" MVP candidate of the year. Technically, there's still time.

- The Miami Heat make the Finals. That's some crazy bullshit right theyuh. I'm actually sort of hoping for a season-ending injury to Shaq or Wade (no I'm not, no I'm not), just so I can stop foolishly hoping and start looking forward to next year, which will hopefully be 100% Antoine Walker-free. Or, in a perfect world (aka my dreams, where I'm a viking), 100% Detroit Pistons-free.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Sympathy For Lady Vengeance (친절한 금자씨) -- Review

When I read last year that the English title for Park Chan-Wook's next picture was Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, I cringed a little. It's not exactly the most creative of titles, given that the first film in his vengeance trilogy was titled, in English, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance (not a very good title, in my opinion; I think Vengeance Is Mine, or some other close translation of the Korean title, 복수는 나의것, would have been better. Similarly, I think the new film should have been titled either Kind-Hearted Geum-Ja or Our Sweet Geum-Ja). I worried that Park was perhaps going back to the well, making a movie that didn't need to be made. After Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy, was there really anything left for him to say? It appears there is. Even though the film at times seems too much like a hodge-podge of ideas from the previous two films (Protagonist who is wrongly imprisoned? Check. Kidnappings? Check. Adopted daughter living abroad? Check. Abandoned school? Check. Ghost of a dead child? Check. Cameos by most of the last 2 films' stars? Double check. I was sorta disappointed that there were no references to ants, though) Park's message -- and what separates it from the previous two -- is the stronger emphasis that revenge offers no closure, it only creates further spiritual torment. The movie, similar to Oldboy, ends with a subtle hint of hope mixed in with the despair; and, like Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, it reminds us that in vengeance there can only be losers. But instead of the ruthless and tragic revenge seekers of Mr. Vengeance and Oh Dae-Su's monstrous embodiment of vengeance in Oldboy, Lady Vengeance offers us Park's first truly remorseful protagonist, and finishes the trilogy with a slight note of hope.

The film begins on the day Lee Guem-Ja, who has served a 13-year sentence for the kidnapping and murder of a young boy, is released from prison. Only 13 years? That appears kinda lax, but we are shown, narrated by various inmates whom Geum-Ja befriended, and skipping non-linearly around in time, what a kind-hearted angel she is. Of course, the viewer anticipates that there's some motive for her virtuousness, and after the well-directed and visually impressive first act, we find out what that is. We learn that Guem-Ja was put behind bars partly because the police detective assigned to her case wanted the matter wrapped up, and although he may have had some inkling that Geum-Ja was not in fact the true murderer, he nudged her in the right direction to achieve his aim. This man will also, out of guilt, become one of Geum-Ja's valuable helpers.

What follows comes as a bit of a surprise: we learn that Geum-Ja became pregnant at 19. Because she is shamed and ostracized from her family, she begs a former school teacher of hers to take her in. Remarkably, he does. Where the surprise lies is in the fact that this daughter of Geum-Ja's, whom we predict may have been killed and part of the reason she is seeking revenge, is alive and living with her adoptive parents in Australia.

Geum-Ja travels to Australia to see her daughter, and eventually they both return (after the girl convinces her parents to let her go by threatening to commit suicide), to Seoul. My major criticism of this scene is that the adoptive parents are shown as pot-smoking morons, and if there's one thing that I think is unnecessary coming from a country in which families won't adopt, is portraying adoptive parents of foreign children in such a negative way. The scene was supposed to be darkly humorous (an aspect of Park's works that he doesn't get enough credit for), but it fails. Add to this the fact that, by the film's conclusion, there's no closure on the adoptive parents' story, and I can see a potential, valid gripe of many who will see this film.

When Geum-Ja, a cunning manipulator who is always aided by those whom she has done favors -- some sexual, others acts of what appear to be unselfish kindness -- for, finally confronts the man who forced her to take the blame in the child's death for which she served 13 years in prison, we think that's pretty much it. But at this point the film is only slightly past the halfway point. Instead of killing her captor, it is revealed that this man has murdered 4 other children, and it's the detective who helped put her away whom Geum-Ja summons to assist her in her ultimate scheme of revenge, one which she believes will prove her as the kind-hearted and altruistic Geum-Ja so many think of her as.

The families of the 5 murdered children are summoned to the abandoned school in which the real murderer is held captive. Their choice is simple: turn the criminal over to the authorities, or exact revenge on him themselves. Which is more just? After a gut-wrenching scene where the videos of the children, crying, screaming and begging for their lives, is shown, the decision is unanimous: get medieval on his ass.

Park actually exercises some restraint here. The violence is more implied and heard than actually shown, and while this ad hoc trial of justice occurs, we come to dislike the ones taking part in it almost as much as the child killer.

Geum-Ja watches over it all, taking her revenge only when the murderer, already dead and dismembered, is being buried. No, there's no satisfaction for her.

In the film's final scene, the weight of what is both Geum-Ja's success and her failure catches up with her. Her final symbolic act displays her self-loathing, but it also shows her remorse and regret, her realization that she had it all wrong. Anakin Skywalker could have told her that.

The film is visually stunning, maybe too much so. It's wonderful to look at, showcasing Park's virtuoso as an auteur. There's the obvious David Fincher influence (a lot more toned down than Park's contribution to last year's Three...Extremes); mixed in are subtle touches of Lynch, Kubrick, and some others, but make no mistake: Park has developed his own unique and provocative style. I say that the film is perhaps too visually stunning in the same way that Wu-Tang Forever was a little too sonically refined compared to the grittiness of 36 Chambers. I prefer 36 Chambers and Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance over Wu-Tang Forever and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, and while Lady Vengeance is a great film, I don't see myself watching it again and again like I do Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy (which, to extend the metaphor, is Liquid Swords AND Only Built 4 Cuban Linx combined). And I realize that comparing Lady Vengeance to Wu-Tang Forever is damning it with faint praise; it's really not a fair comparison. If this were the first Park Chan-Wook film, I'd claim he's a genius. I still assert that he's a genius, that this is a great film...but it's really Rubber Soul up against Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's. That's OK, too: some people like Rubber Soul more.

For those who are unfamiliar with or who do not appreciate Park's trilogy, Lady Vengeance might leave you cold. It's really a paradox, because while I adore Park's previous 2, and while I found Lady Vengeance a masterpiece, it left even me a little cold. I just don't think it has the replay value of his last two.

Note: if you thought the English titles of the 2 Sympathy films seemed awkward, there's a rumor that Park's next film will be titled I'm a Cyborg, You're OK. Awesome.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2005 Sparklers (The Final Chapter)

Worst Company Award: ABN, our local cable and Internet provider, for being down for the better part of the week (it actually went out for 3 hours after I wrote this, but before I had published). Can you believe I had to view porn the old fashioned way: lingerie catalogues (not porn in the strictest sense, but you make the best of the hand your dealt), and the Playboy Channel, scrambled? Sad but true, friends.

The "The Book Was Better Than The Movie" Award: Rex Pickett's Sideways. And Alexander Payne's film was really good, so that's saying something.

PR Agent's Nightmare Award: Kobe Bryant. I don't know that elbowing someone in the throat and then being completely unapologetic for it is the best way to get people to start liking you again, Kob, you rapist.

Worst "Film" I've Seen This Year Award: Churchill: The Hollywood Years. I think this came out in 2004, but I caught it just today on TV. What a truly terrible piece of shit.

Biggest Surprise of 2005 Award: GZA Vs. Muggs: Grandmasters. It's not a true return to form for either men, but it trumps anything Cypress Hill has done in a looong time, and it's a lot better than GZA's last CD (and possibly Beneath The Surface -- which I have a love/hate relationship with -- too). Recommended for the track Illusory Protection alone.

That's all I got. Congratulations to all the winners. Your No Prizes are in the mail.

And to kill 2 birds with one stone, below is a list of New Year's resolutions I drunkenly wrote in my diar...uh, ledger:

- I’m going to wear slacks and button-down shirts more often, not only while at work. Befitting for a man in my present stage of life, I think. In five years, I’ll advance to Bill Cosby-style sweaters. Baby steps.
- I’m going to read The Holy Bible from front to back. While not a page-turner in the strictest sense, I hear it’s a good book.
- I’m going to buy MIA’s ‘Arular,’ which I’ve partially downloaded and whose tracks I can’t get out of my head. I fear I might have an epileptic seizure if I listen to it too much, but fuck it.
- I will appear on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. For the second time.
- I’ll finally forgive my parents for buying me a girl Cabbage Patch Kids doll as a kindergarten grading present.
- I’m going to make a conscious effort to become the world’s Best Smelling Man.
- I’m going to try to finish at least one video game, and one biography about a Mexican artist.
- I’m going to try to stop criticizing people who mispronounce the word ‘mimicry.’
- I plan to get involved in no less than 3 shady real estate deals.
- I’m going to let the “no wire hangers” rule slide for a few TBA days this year. It’ll be a party.
- A more concentrated effort in my war on hair conditioners.

(All in all, I give this post a D-minus. Chalk that up to my Internet connection being as fucked up as it is. I feel I have let down my readership. Worst Psychedelic Kimchi Post Of Last Year Award: this one.)

PS - Barring any further connection disturbances (which is fairly likely), I'll post my review of Sympathy For Lady Vengeance either tomorrow or the next day. For now, here's a hint: