essays

Dawn Of The Dead

I decided to watch this movie, which I had never seen before, in response to the recent zombie attack in Florida that everyone knows about. I’m generally not really into zombie or vampire movies—I prefer my genre cliches in space—but this one was definitely thrilling, definitely tense (especially in the very beginning), definitely horrifying, and definitely entertaining, even if at two and a half hours it was at least an hour longer than most horror movies—though, of course, not most great horror movies. Alien and The Exorcist are at least two hours long, I think, and probably longer.


Racist Bastards!

In the university library there’s this reasonably okay travel book, Korea: A Walk Through The Land Of Miracles, by Simon Winchester, in which the author walks around the country encountering Korean things and Korean people during the 1980s, which is rather interesting for several reasons, as it seems the entire country was encircled by a barbed-wire fence at the time (to keep North Korean spies from nocturnal amphibious landings), and Koreans themselves had to work incredibly hard if they wanted to obtain a passport, while their relationship to gigantic conglomerates like Hyundai sounds a lot like the typical North Korean’s relationship to the state: in exchange for your life, the company will provide everything you need, even your shoes! I don’t have the book with me now but I may post an excerpt.


The Selfish Gene

For one year, two years, three years, I’ve been convinced that I need to read more nonfiction, and so a day or two ago I downloaded a very decent torrent from ISO called “25 Greatest Science Books Of All Time”—featuring authors who are all dead or, in the case of Richard Dawkins, rich, famous, and in no need of the few cents they would make if I were to waste my hard-earned cash on a price-fixed amazon ebook. This is certainly theft, but only actual theft if I steal from someone who is poor or unknown.

That’s how I justify myself, anyway.


Korean Food And Culinary History

This guy has apparently been declared a cultural treasure of Japan, and my mother in law needs to be declared a cultural treasure of Korea, on par with the greatest golden idols, the tallest pagodas, and the most ancient palaces, in the country. This meal she whipped up for us an hour or two ago was among the most incredible dining experiences of my life. It doesn’t look like much in the picture I snapped on my phone, in between gobbling everything down as fast as I could—she was taking care of our kid and waiting very patiently for one of us to finish and switch off—but I’ll still try to describe it:


North Korea Agrees To Stop Being North Korea

 


Jeremy Lin

A few days ago the internet was chattering with the most remarkable news: a stereotype was misbehaving! An Asian was cleaning up on multiple basketball courts, surrounded on all sides and at all times by gigantic, powerful black people—their muscles like pistons, their hearts threatening to burst, as they thundered back and forth along the court, as though each was John Henry reborn! What the hell was going on here? Had the gods of the races lost their minds? Would a man in a mustache and a sombrero put down his acoustic guitar, step away from his mariachi band, and form a Silicon Valley startup? Would a woman in a black beekeeper’s burka go on national television and ask how short skirts and bare cleavage equal female liberation, exactly? Would The Autobiography of Malcolm X slip out of Donald Trump’s business suit by accident? Would a man with dreadlocks finally formulate a proper theory of quantum gravity?


Movies

I feel as if I have just absorbed a great work of art. A. and I went to see There Will Be Blood at a nearby DVD Bang, a seedy but effective place (which one could say of the entirety of this country) where you pay about six or seven dollars per person to sit in your own dark little room, on a reasonably comfortable bed with plastic covers and plastic pillows and a thin zebra blanket, with a gigantic high definition television and some very decent speakers not four feet away from your outstretched legs.

The experience is better than most movie theaters, since you don’t have to deal with people on their cellphones, the blue-white glow of text messages, the ceaseless babbling of idiots; you can also spontaneously have sex or masturbate, if the inspiration strikes, as there is a convenient plastic sphere of toilet paper sitting behind you on the bedstead.


I Only Watch Good Movies

Kingdom of Heaven—Visually a perfect piece of cinema, its impossible hero, played by Mr. Mediocrity Orlando Bloom, wounds the film very deeply, and acts like an extra who accidentally wandered into the movie’s exquisite costumes and sets, all while there are several other actors (Jeremy Irons, Ghassan Massoud, Edward Norton) who are crying out to be the center of what could have been a masterpiece. Also, pretending that violence is bad when you yourself are making an incredibly violent movie is stupid. But I love it anyway.


Going Bonkers

Ilya Repin's depiction of Gogol burning the manuscript to the sequel of Dead Souls, which was, apparently, not very good.


From Comics To Chinese To Ancient Egyptian To Korea And Back Again


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