Thursday, November 30, 2006

Things That Make Me Sad

When I read a federal agency described as "Kafkaesque" I couldn't really figure out which one it was because there are so many that could be described that way.

Also, when I go outside in bright sunlight, I find myself squinting and blinking more than I used to. This is because recently I haven't had time to go outside regularly during the day. My existence becomes more vampiric by the day. (Except with green tea!)

Furthermore, I didn't know it was possible for a sink to smell like Chthulu lived in it. However until I cleaned my sink this morning, that's what my sink smelled like.

I really need to go to bed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A frivolous aside

How much mileage can Korean superstar Rain get from making puns out of his name? Two CD names Rainy Day, It's Raining, and the refrain in one of his songs "Rain is coming down from the rooftops."

I guess I gotta give him credit for picking such a pun friendly name.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Prestige

Oh right, I actually went outside and did something last weekend. I saw the Prestige. It was ok. A good reminder of why I don't see American movies in the theatre. I was enjoying it until the end. Since it's a pretty plot driven movie, I won't mention many particulars of the plot. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are magicians (the stage kind, not the Harry Potter kind). Christian Bale's hair looks far too contemporary by half. I'm pretty sure they didn't have hair gel back then. One review I read of the movie described them as "magical bastards" which is kind of funny and fairly accurate. There are probably a good two sets of twins too many in this movie too.

I think after I finish up grad school apps, I'm going to see if I can track down and watch all these "Chinese blockbuster" movies from the first one Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hero, House of Flying Daggers, The Promise, The Banquet, and maybe by then The Curse of the Golden Flower will be out on DVD. Am I missing any? You know what kind of movie I'm talking about, Zhang Ziyi, Yuen Woo-ping choreography, Tan Dun music etc. This is turning into a regular old phenomenon, so I kind of want to see them all together and see if there are some commonalities, I mean besides all having Zhang Ziyi in them. (For the record, The Promise does not, in fact have Zhang Ziyi in it.)

Actually I already watched The Promise. Man, well I kind of have to keep working, but when I get around to writing about it... oh boy.

Things that have made me happy recently

Voxtrot released a new EP. I don't know if they're my favorite band per se. But they generally release one song that I have a tendency to play on continuous repeat for longer than I should. Since I track these things, this tends to rack up an embarrassing score on iTunes.

It's not particularly new, but I also downloaded Talib Kweli's Quality. He's probably been growing steadily on me for about 3 years. I first heard him on Black Star with Mos Def. (I'm actually not sure that anyone really cares, but what the hell.) And then about a year after that I bought Reflection Eternal. Which was pretty good, and has one song which was pretty amazing, but which for some reason never motivated me to buy any more. So I finally got around to buying Quality, and I'm pretty glad I did.

Anyway, onward ho with the grad school applications. (Or should it be westward ho? And am I in fact going west?)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Affirmative Action

An interesting article at Wall Street Journal about Asian Americans being discriminated against in Ivy League admissions. Pretty much this kid is suing Princeton for denying him admissions although a white classmate of his with test scores and grades that were lower was admitted. I guess this was probably an inevitable case. It doesn't really surprise me that there are some studies that indicate that Ivy Leagues limit admissions of Asian Americans more so than other groups. (It's called a glass ceiling.)

It will be interesting to follow this case as it moves forward. If it actually does move forward, that is. Particularly since it seems like the case calls for not only removing racial preference from university admissions, but also legacies and athletic scholarships. Although I still don't and probably never will agree with removing racial preference from university admissions, getting rid of legacies and athletic scholarships would be often. Legacies are affirmative action for rich white kids, and athletic scholarships are generally motivated more by universities' desire to earn revenue from their sports teams than in acting in the best interests of their students. However, legacies in particular, never seem to show up in terms of university admissions.

I'll probably talk more about this later.

11/11 Appreciation day

This is still one of my favorite quotes of all time.
"You know, Dad. If you really want to know how many hairs you have on your head, we can just make a grid on your head. Count the number of hairs in one square and then multiply that times the number of squares."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The King's Man

So recently, a couple of my classes were canceled, resulting in a loss of 4.5 hours and a gain of 1 hour. So resulting in a net loss of 3.5 hours. This means that I have more time, although slightly less money. Anyway, as a result of more time on my hands, I've actually done something not related to work or grad school, and therefore I finally have something interesting to write about. Well, I've also been following the elections rather obsessively but I can't really write anything interesting about that.

Last night, I took some time off of trying to write my personal statement to watch The King and the Clown although the Chinese title is given as ็Ž‹็š„็”ทไบบ or in English The King's Man, which seems a little bit more true to the story. While watching it, it didn't necessarily blow me away the way some other movies have. But after watching it, I did keep thinking about it in a way that impressed me. Although the cover kind of makes it look like The Promise, The Banquet, etc. type of period piece, it's actually seems less self-consciously artistic and more like just a movie. Visually, there are certainly some really nice parts, but it's clearly not as high budget as the movies I mentioned above. Anyway, apparently this movie was a surprise hit in Korea, which was originally why I wanted to check it out.

Ultimately, The King and the Clown will probably be compared to Farewell My Concubine, since it's essentially about a gay love triangle involving stage performers in Asia, and involves a female impersonator. However, I would say I enjoyed The King and the Clown a lot more than Farewell My Concubine, and that there are some key differences between the two. However, like Farewell My Concubine, it focuses on two performers, one very masculine, the other rather feminine, and the wealthy patron, in this case the Emperor of Korea, who comes between them. I would say that The King and the Clown is significantly less homophobic than Farewell My Concubine. (I have a lot of opinions about Farewell My Concubine, I wrote my thesis on it.) I guess I probably shouldn't say too much about the plot since it might get released in the States someday. So briefly, two street performers run away from their troupe and arrive in Seoul. They put on a skit mocking the Emperor and his consort and, through chance and various other circumstances, are installed in the palace by the Emperor. Their presence then precipitates a series of conflicts within the court.

What really made the movie for me was the characters. There's never a clear bad guy in the movie. Even the childish and tyrannical Emperor is portrayed in a fairly well balanced light. The acting is generally quite good. Both of the actors who play the performers in the movie are really good and carry the movie. I was particularly impressed by the guy that played the female impersonator. Generally "effeminate" characters aren't written very sympathetically, and are often portrayed as weak. The part seemed difficult, because most of the character's feelings and decisions occur inside, which makes the viewer wonder what's really going on in his head. However, I thought the writer and the actor do a good job of bringing his character across.

Another thing I thought was interesting, is that while this film has a fairly clear gay theme: the emperor falls in love with female impersonator, and the two performers also seem to be involved with each other. (Hence the love triangle.) Their relationship is never commented upon by any of the other characters, but I thought their portrayal seemed more like, these are two people who are in love, rather than THIS IS A GAY MOVIE, which seems sometimes to infect movies like this.

Also, the film had some interesting quirks. I don't think I've ever seen another movie that included references to Hamlet, Farewell My Concubine, and Fists of Fury all at the same time. (I could be imagining the last one though.) The Hamlet reference was actually pretty neat, because the Emperor and Hamlet actually have a lot of things in common, oedipal tendencies, living in the shadow of their dead father, madness, mood swings. That plus the theater connection makes the whole thing kind of cool. The reference to Farewell My Concubine was a lot more random, except as a nod to Farewell My Concubine, or perhaps an acknowledgment that the film will inevitably be compared to Farewell My Concubine. However, it was really more random than anything and kind of took away from the movie, as well as seeming a touch anachronistic, but I'm not really sure about that part. The reference to Bruce Lee seemed to come at the end, but I may just be imagining things.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

To clarify

I washed my wallet with my clothes last week. Also about 10 months or so before this, I washed my cell phone. Also, I washed some important work that I took home in my pants as well. Truly this is a dark day.


I washed my wallet AGAIN. Life 4 Me 0.