Archive | November 2011

Saint of Assassins

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, click image to start twitching.

It’s a Grubby, Violent, Dangerous World, But It’s the Only World They Know

That was the tagline for the film version of The Friends of Eddie Coyle. The book was tangentially in the news earlier this year with the arrest of fugitive gangster Whitey Bulger (who might be the basis for the character Peter Boyle plays in the movie). Anyway track it down. It’s a great read. You’ll be done with it in a weekend, if not an afternoon. And, yeah, check out the movie too.

What’s fascinating to me is how almost all the conversations in the story adhere to one of two types.

Type 1: Top-down, I’m the fucking boss, so I know what’s best and you better do what I say or else. Type 2: That guy doesn’t know shit and I better cover my ass because I don’t want to be left holding the bag when all this shit comes down.

It’s depressing how many conversations in real life can be slotted into either type.

Thanks. Thanks For Nothing.

Well, Thanksgiving came and went.

I’d been offline some of the day, so it wasn’t until about 2PM that I realized what day it was. I did call my folks, but the early morning Skype session scheduled for today didn’t work out (my bed’s fault). Ah well, at least my cousin was there to be the surrogate-child to my folks. Besides, it’s not like I won’t be back to see them in January.

It still amazes me that I live in another country. I know. I know. It’s not like it’s very hard for USians to live abroad, but, as my closest friend back home said right before I left, moving to a foreign country is not what people “like me” do. (I leave it to you all to unpack that “like me” in scare quotes back there.) She’s certainly one to talk, since she had moved to a foreign country (the States) herself. She’d be proud though. I’ve pulled a decent Flitcraft over here. So much so that as I read the holiday travel plans of other expats on Facebook, I realize how much living in Asia is wasted on me.

Shit, I haven’t even been to Busan.

Wu Xia Audience Round Up

Wu Xia was great. If it plays near you, go see it. And I say that even without having a clue what anyone was talking about the whole time. It looked like Shane meets Rashomon meets Sherlock Holmes meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and if you squint you can totally see how all that could work together. (Hero does something heroic, which makes cold emotionless detective curious how such a thing could be possible, which uncovers hero’s buried past as villain, which leads to hero’s villainous former associates tracking him down, which leads to kung fu.)

Anyway here’s the breakdown of who else watches wuxia movies in Korea that aren’t advertised for except on the internet and play only on one screen three times a day in a small city.

  • Two other male-female couples.
  •  Old dude in factory work clothes (navy blue cap and overalls). He resembled the type of guy who says shit to my wife and I when we walk down the street together, but that’s me pigeonholing. He could possibly be a secret martial arts master or at least a pretty decent guy.
  • Young guy on leave from the army with his dad.
  • Older dude we saw earlier in the bookstore down the street asking if they had the current issue of some Socialist periodical. After the film he stood outside the theater shouting into his cell phone because his son had failed to meet him outside.
  • Five well-dressed young guys who later mimed martial arts moves at each other while waiting for the elevator. Local university students? Film geeks? Martial arts geeks? Geek geeks?

Weekend Weekout

It’s Friday. I’m pooped.

The week was only marginally crazy. Next week is the school festival and talent show. Considering the number of 4th graders walking around with nunchuks, I think it’ll be pretty fun. There will also be song and dance numbers. On a side note, I’d completely lost track of the date and forgot all about Thanksgiving. Ah well, it’s a shit holiday. Who likes the Pilgrims anyways? Pack of Quaker killing bastards.

The new Donnie Yen movie, Wu Xia, is playing in town. It looks great. We might make tonight Date Night and check it out. Chance of it having English subtitles? Nil. But I don’t expect them. If it’s good I’ll see it again when it’s out on DVD. Maybe we’ll have Date Night again and watch it in one of the DVD rooms in town. Yes, they are sleazy. Yes, I still love them. They cater so well to the antisocial. Who cares if the clerk has to windex off the couch before he tells you it’s okay to sit down?

See you all next week…

Expat Blogs?

Anytime I spend too long reading expat blogs I normally end up wondering if there’s a bunch of Korean expats in the States writing the same presumptive and condescending crap about America. I suspect there is.

Shit happens, but I’m not going to spend the time writing a diatribe only to realize weeks or months later it’s based on my own shallow assumptions, the fact that I didn’t have all the information, or simply the fact that being offended is the natural consequence of leaving my house. Shit is shit, and Bad Habits isn’t going to be an endless investigation of the South Korean brand of shit. This might not make it much fun to read, but if you want that start your own blog and call it International House of Shit. I’d likely read it.

So yeah, there you go — not much of an expat blogger, except for the fact that I am by default as long as I live in Korea and blog.

(And in case you’re wondering, I read two expat blogs regularly: Gord Sellar’s blog and Burndog’s Burnblog. Between them, Facebook, and I feel like I’ve got things covered.)

Demolition Site

The city’s doing a big urban renewal project near work. The plan’s to extend a canal from downtown to the river and build an outdoor shopping area along it. It would make the neighborhood where I teach into an island separate from the rest of the city. Ideally the jobs it will create will be a step above the bar/coffee/song-room type common in the area, but for now it means I and my students walk through this every morning.

(Enjoy the blur from the wobbly cam.)