Saturday, November 26, 2011

Movies Everyone Should See...

When I decided I wanted to make a post about movies I thought everyone should see, I had two criteria for myself: One, that they be more recent movies, made within the last two decades. That leaves out a lot of movies, yes, but those are movies that have already been talked about so much that I don't know that I would have anything new to say about them. Two, that I should have five movies in my list.

Well, I managed the first item. The second, well, it seems oddly coincidental that I've only been able to come up with two movies for this list. I think they are two exceptional movies, however, so I'm okay with not having five. There is no order of preference for these two movies. And I reserve the right to add to the list if I think of more movies that should be included.

The first is Amèlie. It's a French film, but I don't think that should exclude it from the list. Oh, the wonderful things of this movie. Audrey Tautou's performance of the title character is amazing. She's just so much fun to watch. The other characters are full of life and nuances. The colors pop and add to the emotion. There are surreal moments that are divine. There are tender moments that break your heart. And it all culminates in a finale that makes you feel good about yourself and the world. Amazing movie.

The second is Juno. This movie also features an amazing performance by a lead actress, in this case Ellen Page. She portrays a quirky, unique girl who you just want to hug and protect. The other actors do well, but J.K. Simmons should be mentioned in particular. He plays Juno's father. He's at once wise and loving, but he has a funny, sarcastic side that adds a lot of punch. The film is full of witty lines and clever phrases. It's a mental workout that is so much fun you don't realize you're thinking that hard.

So watch these, if you haven't already.  Good stuff.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's...Different Here...

...and I'm not talking about the big things, like culture or language. Or even physical appearance. And I definitely don't want to get into the tendency Korean pop-culture has to put androgyny on a pedestal. 

No, I'm talking about the small things, the common things that affect my every-day life. 

For example, my shower. Well, the bathroom in general. It was designed as a wet bathroom. No shower curtain. Just a drain under the sink. Chelsea put up a shower curtain. I was indifferent at first, but I think it was a good thing. The shower is a handheld job, so that can minimize the water on the floor if I'm careful, but it's easier with a shower curtain. Also, no matter how careful I am, I can't get a constant water temperature. It's either constantly heating up or constantly cooling down. That can be rather torturous, to tell the truth. Each time I adjust the temperature, I get about two minutes of comfortable water, then it quickly becomes either scalding or chilly. On the plus side, this makes me shower faster.

Convenience stores are tiny. Really tiny. The stores are crammed into any space available, no matter how small nor how oddly shaped the interior is. And the stores still have aisles of products. For the majority of the Korean populace, who happen to be skinny skinny skinny, this isn't a problem. For me? I feel like a bull in a china shop, like my slightest movement is going to cause havoc. At one particular Family Mart, I slide through the aisles sideways, making sure my bag doesn't swing and knock the products around. 

The human resources department in the Village recently sent out a posting for an open Head Teacher position. As part of the posting, one line read, "This job is only available for senior Korean teachers." In the US, this would be an enormous lawsuit waiting to happen. Here? Not so much. The foreign teachers grumbled, but didn't really say anything. Mostly because it wouldn't have made a difference.

With the possible exception of that third point, I'm not saying these are bad things. Just different.  

I have seen one nouvelle here that has completely blown my mind with how amazing it is. When I got my bank account, I was given a bank book. Now, I'm not the most conscientious person in the world when it comes to keeping my register up to date. I just don't. Here the bank book has a magnetic strip coded with my account information. Not enough to make a withdrawal or anything, I have an ATM card for that. No, inside the bank there are two automatic teller machines. I can stick my card in the one and withdraw cash. When I stick in my card it always tells me, "Processing time is the longest two minutes. Please wait." I love that. But the other machine, an amazing invention, is for the bank book. I open my book to the most recent page, tell the machine I want to update my bank book entries, then stick the entire book in. It will record all the most recent transactions in the book, even turning the page when it gets full. 

Brilliant! Why can't we have these in the States? So convenient and practical. 

I'm sure there are many other small things that are different here, but these are the ones that have been on my mind lately. I'll probably do another post later on with more. 

I think I like it here. I still miss home, but Korea is a nice place to be. Even when I can hear the occasional firing of a gun or launching of a mortar. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Candor in Perplexity

I don't understand why some people are so fascinated with butts. 

I'm sure you've heard someone say things like, "Oooh, nice ass," or "check out that guy's butt," or any other variant. It occurs quite frequently. In songs, in movies, on the television, and in everyday conversation. It's everywhere.

Normally, when I don't share a particular affinity with someone, I can at least understand the appeal of the object of their interest. For example, Batman. I don't enjoy the character. Just not my thing. However, I do get that people like that he is vigilante justice and has a cool car. Not to mention the costume. I get it. I just don't share it. 

But being fascinated with another person's butt? Nope. I don't get it. And here's the thing, I've tried to understand. I've spent some time observing passing derrieres, just to try and understand. I'm sure the passing people have thought I was just your normal, everyday lecher, but that wasn't the case. Everything I'm attracted to in a woman occurs above the waist. 

I like intelligence. A sense of humor. Breasts. I am definitely a breast man. And I like strong women. A confident woman, who knows who she is is one of the most attractive qualities a woman can have. And I'll admit I'm rather fascinated by physically powerful women. Just one of my quirks. 

But I don't get the butt thing. I just don't.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Well-Read in Korea (Part 2)

I figure it's about time for an update on my reading habits. I decided to purchase a Kindle because keeping my normal book buying and reading habits wasn't feasible while living in Korea. They just weigh too much to transport back in my suitcase. Or to mail back. 

The Kindle was a great purchase. I really enjoy using it. I'm tempted to try and elicit some sort of credit or something from Amazon because I've inspired several Korean teachers to purchase their own. 

I've come into possession of over 3,000 ebooks. This number is after I went through and winnowed out the ones that I had no interest in reading. Mostly romance novels, but there were many others eliminated on the basis of the title or basic concept. Now that I have these winnowed down, I am attempting to read them. The ones I really like will go into a folder, then when I return to the States, I will purchase a physical copy. If I don't enjoy a book I've just started, it gets deleted. 

So, here's the list. What I've read since August 24th. 

  1. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
  2. Sleeper Season One by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips
  3. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
  4. Why Do Men Have Nipples? by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg
  5. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  6. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  7. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
  9. Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
  10. Is Shakespeare Dead? by Mark Twain
  11. The Fat Man by Ken Harmon
  12. Fallen Angel by Peter David
  13. Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull
  14. Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull
  15. Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull
  16. Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull
  17. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future by Michael J. Fox
  18. Good Things I Wish You by Manette Ansay
  19. Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
  20. The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely
  21. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  22. The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition by Caroline Alexander
  23. The Thunder Riders by Frank Leslie
  24. Hounded by Kevin Hearne
  25. Hexed by Kevin Hearne
  26. Hammered by Kevin Hearne
  27. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
I think it's a pretty good list. My favorites by far were The Once and Future King and The Fat Man. The Fat Man is a noir mystery set at the North Pole. The protagonist is a rather grumpy elf. Worth a read. I was amazed by how he worked in every single Christmas story, song or poem. It was pretty incredible. Most of the time it was pretty natural. There were only a couple occasions where the reference was forced.

I'll try and work up a real blog post before too long. For now, I'm going to read a book.