Category Archives: Afterthoughts

My Olympic Wish

Call me mean-spirited if you have to – I am sometimes – but I got my Olympic wish.  We still don’t have cable, so I obviously didn’t bother to watch Sochi live.  I always get the recaps on the figure skating, though.  Y’all know I love my ballet on ice.  I just can’t help it.  I’m in love with the grace and athleticism.  I’m in love with it because I have never been able to do anything like it, nor will I ever be able to in this lifetime.  Figure skating just amazes me.

BUT.  When I was living in Korea, part of me started to get really annoyed with figure skating, and I blame it on the Korean obsession with freaking Kim Yuna.  Yes, she’s a great athlete and a one-of-a-kind skater.  I get that.  I really do.  I’m not saying that she sucks because frankly, saying that would be ignorant and downright stupid.  She’s awesome.

BUT.  I can’t stand her.

I blame Korea.  Koreans are obsessed with Kim Yuna.  You’d think there’d never been another amazing skater born to this world.  Of course, the Koreans probably know nothing about them because hey, Koreans don’t pay much attention to athletes who aren’t from Korea.  The only soccer (football, whatever) games I saw in Korea were Manchester United games when Park Ji-Sung was still playing for them.  Figure skating was suddenly a big deal because of “Queen” Yuna.  I taught a couple of little girls who were obsessed with her, and I did eventually get curious.

Honestly, my first reaction was, “Meh.  She’s technically excellent, but she’s not lighting me on fire.”  And she doesn’t.  She didn’t.  She never has, and she never will.  Maybe it’s just me and what I like, but I don’t get fired up about technically perfect things, in a lot of cases.  I want some pizzazz, some gasoline, some za-za-zsu.  Kim Yuna doesn’t have that.  She’s great, if you like paint-by-numbers skating that caters to the new system.

Well, my big wish for the 2014 Winter Olympics was that Kim Yuna would be defeated and go home without the gold.  And I got my wish.  Adelina Sotnikova unseated her, and I rejoiced.  Well, Korea didn’t.

True to form, the entire nation (it seems) threw a collective temper tantrum, crashed Change.org, and immediately began screaming and ranting about Russian judges being crooked.  Okay, fair enough, Russia is crooked.  You know what other country is crooked?  Korea.  I can’t wait to see what sorts of crap they pull when it’s their turn in four years’ time.

I’ll admit that I finally watched a side-by-side of the two performances.  Yuna was better.  There.  I said it.  She was.  Sotnikova isn’t as consistent, nor is she as polished as Kim Yuna.  Would she have been my pick to win?  No.  I was rooting for Gracie Gold.  She’s actually from Chatham, which is over by Springfield, and her dad is an anesthesiologist at the hospital here in Jacksonville.  She’s kind of-sort of a hometown hero, and you gotta root for the home team.  Plus, she has some pizzazz.  You know I like the pizzazz.

What really bugs me about Kim Yuna, besides the fact that I don’t think she’s the greatest skater who ever lived, is the fact that Koreans are such freaks about losing.  That’s one of those things about Korea: their parents push them hard and teach them how to win, but dammit, they are completely unprepared to lose.  And if they do lose, it’s never their fault.  Hell, that’s even true here.  I have a co-worker who once worked with a Korean boy in university, and when he didn’t succeed in the arena in which she had painstakingly instructed him, it was her fault, and he refused to speak to her ever again.  Very mature for a man of 21.  But that’s Korea.  Don’t win?  The game must be rigged.  Aren’t the best?  It’s my teacher’s fault.  It’s a culture of never taking any damn responsibility.

I mean, I just admitted that I think Yuna should have won, and I don’t like her.  She bugs me on and off the ice.  I wish she’d disappear.  But I can admit when someone I don’t like is the superior player.  I may not like it, but I’m big enough to admit it.  If Yuna had fallen on her ass, it still would’ve been someone else’s fault.

“Oh, Brian Orser, he make so many problem to Yuna!  He ruin her career!”

“Oh, Russia people, bad!  Yell a bad thing to Kim Yuna and make her to fall!”

It’s always something.

So yeah, I’m glad she lost.  She was a pretty good sport about it.  Too bad the same can’t be said for her countrymen.

I still don’t like her.  She behaves in public like the good little robot that she is, but I still think she’s a pain.  I’m confident that she’s controlled by her indubitably overbearing Korean mother, who is her manager (momager?), and she fired Brian Orser for seemingly no reason other than her mother was probably insane and impossible to work with, and let’s face it, the Korean-North American cultural barrier, in my experience, is practically impossible to overcome.  After such a time, you realize that it’s just not fucking worth it.  It really isn’t.  And I would never in a million years be dumb enough to want to deal with a crazy Korean mom who is also a crazy skating mom.  Seriously, bitches be trippin’.

Ultimately, I just wish Korea would get over it and start behaving like adults on the world stage.  They’re always pissed off because they’ve been wrong about something.  I saw an article about “Han,” which is basically national grief and grumpiness over some real or imagined slight.  I mean, that tells you everything right there.  Here is a country of people who get together and fucking cry when something offends them.  And they have a cultural excuse for it.  Please understand my culture.  I tried that, but then I got pissed off, turned back into an arrogant American, and said, “Screw it.  America.  Fuck yeah.”

So my parting thoughts go about like this:

1. Koreans need to suck it up and stop acting like the biggest babies in the sandbox.  Get the fuck over it and accept that you can’t always win, and that when you don’t win, it’s not necessarily someone else’s fault.

2. Kim Yuna is retired.  Thank Christ.

4.  I still think that while she’s technically great, she’s boring as beige walls with beige carpet, curtains, and furniture.  I can’t watch a full performance of hers.

5.  Yuna never had a triple axel.  I will never call a woman skater the greatest who couldn’t punch out a triple in competition.  And she never tried, to the best of my knowledge.  Screw that noise.

5. Midori Ito 4-eva!  Now THERE is a woman who could rock a jump!  Seriously, watch this chick.  She could fucking fly.  Not that Koreans would care because she’s a dirty, Japanese monkey, but you know, if Ito were skating today under the current scoring system, she would have nailed Yuna’s ass to the grass and then flown over her with the greatest of ease.  I think she could’ve done a quad, had such things even been done back in those days.  First woman to land a triple axel in competition.

 

 

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The Dark Knight Rises Review

And now, because nobody asked for it, everyone else on the Internet is doing it, and you’ve probably already seen it, anyway… A review of The Dark Knight Rises!

I’ve been looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises all summer.  The Avengers was quite good, but I’m an admitted Joss Whedon lover.  I gave Spiderman a miss because I’ve never liked him, as a superhero. However, I’ve loved the first two Nolan Batman movies, so I figured I would enjoy this one just as much.  I went to see Batman Begins with my friend, Maurice, while I was in Germany.  I was highly resistant to watching it, actually, as Batman was never really one of my favorite comics.  I was always an X-Men fangirl.  And yes, I still can’t believe how badly Ratner butchered the Dark Phoenix, but that’s another rant for another time.  I was pleasantly surprised by the first Batman movie, and the subsequent two movies have not disappointed, either.

It’s hard to even talk about this movie at the moment without some reference to the shooting in Aurora, Colorado.  I have a feeling a lot of people would disagree with me on this, but I feel like perhaps the media is placing too much importance on the fact that it was at a premier of The Dark Knight Rises.  The shooter was a nutcase.  He was most likely looking for a venue that would have a lot of people, and a midnight showing of a surefire blockbuster is a pretty good ticket, no pun intended.  It seems like there’s this subconscious blaming of the movie somehow, and that is just ridiculous.  The movie had nothing to do with the fact that the dirtbag in question was insane.  Crazy people do crazy things.  To place blame on anyone other than the person who committed the crime is ridiculous. Now, review.

Well, I’ve read some less-than-favorable reviews about this movie, but I think some of that comes from being let down that the movie wasn’t as earth-shattering as expected.  Sometimes folks build up their expectations to somewhat unrealistic levels.  That said, I have read some fair reviews of it, and I agree with many of them on some levels.  Let’s starts with ball bats and get that out of the way.

The major problem with this film is the plot.  The plot in and of itself isn’t really bad, but it’s far from inspired, in my opinion.  I will not deny that it has plenty of thrilling little twists and turns, and it certainly isn’t boring, but it isn’t groundbreaking.  Also, it’s not exceptionally cohesive in parts.  There are several plot holes that, because I tend to overanalyze movies during and after watching them, bothered me somewhat.  I won’t spoil the movie by revealing precisely what they are, but elements of “Batman rising” rather put me off.  Also, the main plot twist, for anyone who was paying even decent attention, will not come as a serious shocker.  (Also, bear in mind that I was never a Batman fangirl, so I didn’t read the comics and was unfamiliar with pretty much everything except the phrase “the man who broke the Bat.”)

Basically, there were some plot holes.  I wonder if they wouldn’t be resolved somewhat in a director’s cut, but I guess I’ll have to wonder at that for awhile.  Given the overall cleverness of the dialogue and the fact that I consider Nolan’s take on Batman to be a bit of a step up from the usual action film, I was disappointed by this fact.  It wouldn’t prevent me from seeing the movie again, but it is a gripe, and I think it’s a legitimate one.

Others have complained a lot about the running time of the film, and I have to admit, two hours and 45 minutes is a bit gratuitous.  The film was not hard to sit through, although the first 45-60 minutes were a tad bit slow.  I think some of this could probably have been sacrificed somehow to tighten up the film a bit.  Given the fact that the movie already had a few plot holes in it, in spite of the long running time, I really don’t think shaving off a few minutes in the beginning and tinkering with the plot a bit would have hurt things.  That said, the length didn’t really bother me.  I didn’t get bored with the movie at any point, which is obviously a plus.

One thing I had did have some trouble with was the somewhat under-used, mildly non-sensical Miranda Tate-Bruce Wayne love diversion.  Truthfully, it made no sense to me at all.  I thought they could have played it up more and made it seem more authentic, but at best, the whole idea that Bruce would go from moping over Rachel Dawes to the point of being a hermit to jumping into bed with the first doe-eyed, accent-having chick he encounters… It just doesn’t ring true to me, frankly.  That was one of the hardest plot points for me to swallow.  Aside from that one, the bit where “Batman rises” kind of bugged me, as there were some elements of it that remained somewhat open and honestly annoying, at least to me.  While I’m sure they would have just made the running time longer, things like that still bother me.  I guess I need to have everything spelled out for me.

As I previously stated, I’m not a mouth-breathing, foaming-at-the-mouth Batman fangirl, so I don’t have a lot emotionally invested in original canon.  However, I didn’t like the segue into the initial Batman/Bane confrontation.  Again, this was a plot failure.  There was really no emotional build-up leading to this crucial moment, at least not for me.  I knew it was coming, because I know enough about comics generally to know what happens between Bane and Batman, but I was really thinking that there would be more drama and suspense leading up to such an iconic fight scene, but it ended up feeling somewhat precursory, as though this moment, which I would expect was highly anticipated by true Bat-fans, was just a filler and a way to advance the plot forward, when the honest truth is that it should have been a big, defining moment of the movie.

Also, the movie generally, especially in the first 90 minutes or so, seems to be hinting at lots of Occupy Wall Street themes.  While part of me thinks that the film was just trying to be current, another part of me thinks that Nolan may have been trying to make some sort of political statement.  I think he succeeds on being current, but if this move was meant to arouse sympathy for the movement or make some sort of moral point, it failed, at least for me.  It’s a hard to buy into that “rich guys are bad” and “more regulation!” when it’s obvious that, in this series, private enterprise generally does a better job of crime management than the government authorities do.  Maybe Nolan wasn’t trying to make that point, but that’s what I took away from it.

Now, the bouquets.  First off, I thought the acting was generally quite good.  Anne Hathaway got sold seriously short by my gossip sites.  There seemed to be a lot of chatter about how she was too wholesome and mildly neurotic to be a good Catwoman, but I thought she owned it.  I think I was expecting to be disappointed, due to my reading so many sites that would have had me believe that she wasn’t going to be much good, but Nolan made a good choice with her.  I really enjoyed all the scenes with her in them, and I thought she added a nice little kick and some humor to a movie that needed a bit of  “je ne sais quoi.”  I thought she took the part and made it her own, and it was an interesting take on Selina Kyle.

Christian Bale has always put forth a good, brooding performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman.  I thought he shined better in his Batman moments, but maybe that’s because, you know, it’s Batman.  It seems like most of all of Bales’ characters that I’ve seen him play have been rather moody, bachelor types, and part of me thinks that he might not be acting the broody-moody part.

Marion Cotillard was lovely as Miranda Tate, although I would have liked to have seen more of her on the screen.  She really didn’t get a let of screen time, which is a shame, because for such a pivotal character, I thought she got rather short shrift.  Her character was well written for the short time that we saw her onscreen, and I can’t help but think she could have added more to the film, given the chance to do so.

Gary Oldman is awesome.  That is all you ever really need to know about him.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt was quite enjoyable to watch as the rookie cop John (Robin) Blake.  Some diehard fans might complain that “Robin’s” name was changed for this movie, but not being a serious Batgirl, it didn’t bother me one iota, because the character was interesting and nicely acted.  I thought he added a wholesome, hopeful touch to a movie that had more than its fair share of cynical moments.

The two characters that I found to be the weakest were Bane and Alfred, which is a damn shame, because I love Alfred, and Michael Caine is fabulous. Alfred’s lines in this particular installment just seemed to be… cheesy.  He was there for the purpose of setting up future actions in the movie, and I found it a bit painfully obvious at points.  I mean, I’m not stupid.  Some moderate allusions would have done nicely.  Let it be said that I fault bad writing of the part and not Michael Caine.  I think he did well with the lines they gave him.

I think it’s somewhat fair to say that, after Heath Ledger’s Joker, pretty much any villain was going to be something of a letdown.  The Joker was just plain frightening.  He made the second movie for me, and Ledger owned every single scene in which he appeared.  And in spite of the fact that it’s not fair to compare Tom Hardy’s Bane to Ledger’s Joker, let’s face it, it’s hard not to do so.  I should probably have bumped this up into the outright ball bats section, but I didn’t think Bane was written as well as he should have been.  Again, I don’t fault the actor, because I think he worked with what he had, and the character seemed a bit off-target from the beginning.  Only once in the movie did I really have the feeling that Hardy/Bane was owning the scene, and it was fairly short-lived.  He just didn’t inspire the feeling of dread that he could have done, and I think that it had a lot to do with disjointed plot development.  (The disjointed plot development is really the great failing of this movie.)  The rumor about Bane being hard to understand, unfortunately, turned out to be somewhat true.  I had a few “Huh?” moments, but fortunately, I had Korean subtitles to fall back on, although in one instance, they didn’t help much, as I didn’t know the verb.  He cleared up during the second half of the movie, but there are certainly moments where some would have to go back and listen two or three times to get what he’s saying.  Again, that’s a production problem and no fault of Hardy’s, in my opinion.

The action sequences, while somewhat few and far between, were generally satisfying.  There should be more than enough explosions, big Bat gadgets, and physical stunts to keep action-hungry viewers mostly satisfied.  It doesn’t have quite the flash-bang of say, The Avengers, but it does the job.  Towards the end of the film though, one ought to be feeling perhaps a slightly stronger sense of urgency, and here the length of the movie prevents that from happening somewhat.

I stated initially that I liked the movie, and I stand by that, although looking through my review of the film, it might come off that I didn’t.  Please don’t think that.  For the most part, I really enjoyed the characters and the acting, and I think those were the high points of the movie.  If you’re a Bale, Hathaway, Oldman, JGL, or Cotillard fan, you will not be disappointed.  Also, I was pleased to see that Cameron from Ferris Bueller had a bit part as a CIA agent in the beginning.  Of course, I muttered, “Let my Cameron gooooo,” but nobody was listening, and the Koreans wouldn’t have gotten it anyway.  Whatever the case, the acting is absolutely the high point of the film.

Unfortunately, the plot tends to meander a bit, and while the end of the film is satisfying in and of itself – a fitting end to the trilogy, I think – there are various points where you feel somewhat rushed or confused on how you got there, in spite of the time it took to get there.  I think the length of the film could have possibly been used to dramatic effect, if Nolan really wanted to make a film that long, but it could have been better accomplished by streamlining a few things and perhaps doing more to build up certain plot elements that felt lacking.  As I said, for someone like me who values a seamless plot (think The Usual Suspects)parts of the film were hard to get around, and I found myself raising my eyebrow and wondering how we got there.

My final review would be 3 1/2 out of 5 possible stars.  I would definitely see the movie again and will likely rent it some night when I have three hours to kill, but for those who were expecting a film equal to The Dark Knight, you’re going to be somewhat disappointed, I think.  (I own The Dark Knight and return to it semi-frequently, as I supremely enjoyed that film the first time and every subsequent time I’ve seen it.)  The movie was good, but it was not Nolan’s best.  It was enjoyable and fun to look at, but you might find yourself scratching your head at parts.  I would not let those gripes deter you from seeing it, because it is highly unlikely that it will cause you to come away from the theater, wondering why you spent $10 on a movie ticket.  No.  If you like action movies or had fun at the previous Batman films, you’ll like it.  But you might not love it.  Keep expectations realistic, and you’ll be in for a good three hours of entertainment.

 

 

I’m a Sad Panda Tonight

This post probably rightly belongs on my political blog, but I truthfully don’t have the heart to post it so that my readers – the ones I don’t know personally – don’t read it.  I try to refrain from sounding down-in-the-mouth about anything on that website, since I don’t think being depressed is productive.  I’m happy to predict further problems with the recession and things like that, but telling the truth is different from being a Debbie Downer.  I’m sort of down tonight, though.  Ron Paul has conceded for good, and his son has endorsed *inappropriate string of expletive descriptions here* Mitt Romney.  There is no way to sugarcoat this, even though I’ve tried really hard: this fucking sucks.

I have been a hardcore Ron Paul supporter for years.  My libertarian blog background says, “I liked Ron Paul back when he was underground,” and it’s true.  I was one of the early supporters.  I’ve been preaching the gospel of liberty for yonks.  Ask anyone who knows me – they’ll tell you that I’ve been like I am for just about ever.  It’s not a put-on.  I could never be anything other than what I am, and that’s a dyed-in-the-wool libertarian.  I’ve given money to the Paul campaign.  I created my blog specifically so I could support him, Austrian economics, and libertarian philosophy.  I’ve done this because I genuinely believed that Ron Paul was the best chance our country had for real change. I still want to believe that, but it’s really tough right now.

I know that Rand Paul is not his father.  He is not a libertarian, and he has never pretended to be.  He is a Republican conservative.  He doesn’t share his father’s non-interventionist philosophies, and without the philosophy of non-intervention behind you, you simply can’t call yourself a libertarian.  That’s not to say that Rand hasn’t done and isn’t doing good things, because he is.  But the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil, and for me, it isn’t a case of not just being dubious of some of Paul the younger’s choices: I flat-out disagree with him.  To the point where I wouldn’t vote for him.  I really thought though, that he’d support his dad right up until the convention.  Boy, was I wrong about that!

There have been rumblings about a deal with Romney since early in the year.  At the time, both Pauls dismissed such a thing as an invention of the media, but people are wondering now if they weren’t lying.  There have been accusations from former staffers that Paul was never really in it to win it but instead running a philosophical campaign of ideas.  That’s fine and dandy, but be honest about it.  Don’t tell supporters that you’re running to win when you really aren’t.

Frankly, I blame this on the people with whom Ron Paul surrounds himself, specifically Jesse Benton.  Benton ran Rand’s campaign, and he brought in some seriously questionable people, and I think the campaign really suffered for it.  There have been a lot of reports of Ron Paul being totally cut off from reality because of Benton insulating him from others’ input, and that is really unfortunate, if it’s true.  What would worry me the most though is if Ron had actually run this whole thing to grow his individual wealth.  That would really make me sorry that I donated to him, believing that he was different.  I so dearly hope that this is not the case, but it’s sort of hard to keep the faith right now.

That said, I’m not sorry that I’m involved or that I started the other blog or anything like that.  I guess the unfortunate thing is that a lot of us have learned a lesson the hard way, and that’s that you can’t trust anyone in politics.  Like I said, I’m not convinced one way or the other about Ron Paul himself at this point, but I’ve definitely come away from the whole thing feeling like the only person you can really trust is yourself.  My husband says that I’m too eager to trust people, and I guess he’s right.  I really do want to believe the best about people, but dammit, they make it so hard.  Why does it always have to feel like a fight?

Whatever the case, I’m certainly not giving up my libertarian values or my commitment to writing about it and what-all.  Regardless of who wins the election, an opposition voice will be absolutely necessary, and that will never change.  I really do hope though, that the RNC turns into a total shitshow.  I’m so over the Republicrats and the Democant’s.  Make a mess of their damn convention.  Send a message.  Hopefully, if such a thing happens, the police won’t beat anyone, taser any pregnant women, or tear gas big crowds of people.  I won’t hold my breath on that, either.

Anyway.  I’m bummed.  I’m trying not to be, but it just burns me how things are turning out.  I really do believe that things desperately need to change in our world.  Between the insanity of Keynesian economics (i.e. endless bailouts and inflation), indefinite detention, police brutality, censorship, and the ridiculousness that is the mainstream media and politics, I’m starting to think that the best thing to do would be to just have another revolution and start over.  I wonder if they’re still building that libertarian island?  Not that I could afford rental space on it, anyway, but it’s a nice dream… Oh well, nothing’s going to get done wishing for someone else to do it for me.  I am John Galt.  Guess I’d better get to “gulching.”

Can you tell how sour my mood is tonight?  Blah.  Hopefully, everything will look better in the morning, but I suspect that things are going to look a bit worse before they look better.  Sorry I’ve unloaded on you, dear readers.  I know that political stuff isn’t the reason you all come here – you’d be at my political blog otherwise.  Thanks for listening to me bitch and moan, though.  It felt sort of good, even if it didn’t help or change a thing.

Spring Cleaning Lady

I know, I know – several of my friends have expressed to me that they don’t get my fascination with the “Chloe” videos mocking Chloe Sevigny.  I just thinking making fun of pretentious people involved in the fast lane or fashion is fun.  In any case, it has recently come to my attenshun that I love schhhhprrrring.

Dear Santa 2011

Dear Santa,

I know, I’m getting my letter off a little bit late this year, but I’ve been busy.  I don’t really have much that I want for Christmas, at least not materially.  I guess I have some “wishes” that I would like to see come true, more or less.  I know, you aren’t really in the business of granting wishes.  Some people might tell me I should really write this letter to a genie, but if you’ve ever read a real story about the djinn, you’ll know that they really weren’t very nice guys.  I have way more faith in you, Santa.  I’ll have some chocolate chip cookies waiting for you on Christmas Eve!

1. Ron Paul wins the GOP nomination

This should surprise no one who read my last post.  Ron Paul is greatest hope for libertarians out there right now.  In the words of Jon Stewart, most people seem to have thought of him as “crazy Uncle Ron,” but the man knows whereof he speaks.  And he’s not Mittens or Newt.  Double-plus-good.

Ob-Ron-Kenobi. I loves the Ron Paul.

2. Make the Kartrashians go away, please.

I love reading smutty gossip, but I hate these trash-clowns.  They look like they have tarantulas on their eyes, and they can’t dress for anything.  They’re like a worse version of Paris Hilton was back in 2003-2006 or so.  The problem with the Kardassians is that they just keep coming – there are three big ones now, and there are two more baby Jenners ready to try and take their place in the next four years.  It’s like a litter of fame whores, and they’re reproducing.  I would be willing to suspend my belief in a person’s right to own their own body in favor of neutering this clan of delinquents.

3. Make Lindsay Lohan sparkly and new again.

She’s a crackhead and an entitled beast, but I sort of loved Lindsay Lohan before she went completely off the rails.  She was so lovely with her red hair, green eyes, and mountains of freckles.  And to everyone who says that she can’t act – she seemed like a nice, cute girl in “Mean Girls,” and that is clearly the opposite of reality, so she must have something going for her somewhere under the layers of Dina-inspired delusion and drug abuse.  I know that Ron Paul has a better chance of getting elected than Linnocent (as Celebitchy calls her) does of cleaning up her hot mess of a self, but I’d like to see her back to work, even though I do love watching her freaks and foibles.

Lock your liquor cabinets, hide your Botox provider's phone number - here comes La Lohan! Remember kids: drugs are bad. See above for the proof.

4. Will someone please repeal the NDAA?!

The National Defense Authorization Act is seriously making me consider moving to England.  I refuse to live under a military dictatorship where the flavor-of-the-month president can have me arrested for being a supposed terrorist – not even a terrorist who has been convicted in court!  Did you know that the Department of Homeland lists the following as terrorist “warning signs”: wearing a watching, paying cash, using binoculars, and owning a gun.  Um, wearing a watch?  For serious?  I have worn a watch every day since I was 12 years old.  I am somewhat fond of binoculars, I love the feeling of cash in my hands, and I like target shooting.  Apparently, that makes me terrorist material.  Who knew?

Seriously, though, this thing needs to get killed like, yesterday, and now Obama is talking about going back on his word and letting it pass.  Asshole.  I hate that guy.  I hate him at least as much as I hated Bush.

5. Make Koreans stop spitting everywhere

I’m over it.  It’s auditorily (is that a word?) and visually offensive to the highest degree, and I hate the idea of carrying people’s spit around on the bottom of my shoes.  It repulses me.  Please make it stop.

6. Bring back Queenadreena

My favorite band, fronted by British beauty and all-around artistic weirdo Katie-Jane Garside, disbanded like, a year or two ago.  Except that it never really officially disbanded.  They just sort of stopped getting together.  That makes me really sad, because I absolutely love Queenadreena, and KJG gets me up and moving for just about anything.  She can go from sounding like a 12-year-old Lolita to a screaming riot grrl in two seconds flat.  I love her.  I always figure that she’s either completely out-of-it on drugs or so lost in her own artistic world that she just comes off that way.  Either way, I wish Queenadreena would come back.

Here is what is arguably their most popular video, “Pretty Like Drugs,” as well as a video of KJG singing “Matchstick Girl”:

7. Open a Shoe Store for Western Girls with Big Feet Somewhere in Changwon

I could seriously use a new pair of dress shoes, and I have to order them from America.  Korea has bazillions of awesome shoes for girls, but the biggest size they offer is a US 8, and I’m a 9-10, depending on the style and brand.  I miss shoe-shopping.  It makes me feel happy inside.  I never thought of my feet as being overly large until I came to Korea, where I have feet the size of a Yeti in comparison to the local girls.  I honestly think their average shoe size is a US 5-7 or so.  And eight would be rather large.

8. Go back and erase every season of “Weeds” after season 3, and undo the last “Sex and the City” movie

Weeds is one of my favorite TV shows, but I have to keep watching the first three seasons over and over again.  I made it all the way to season 5, but it got so wildly unbelievable for me, I had to quit watching it.  I can never figure out what the writers were thinking after season 4, and season 4 was nothing great.  I almost wish they’d just ended the whole series at season 3 and let me believe that Nancy went on to get a job as a paralegal in another suburb after an interesting couple of years as a drug dealer.

As I’ve said in previous posts, I watched SATC2, and I will still watch it on an evening by myself, if I have nothing better to do, but I still can’t figure out why.  When the series ended, I loved the characters.  They felt so comfortable and familiar – like friends or something.  The second movie destroyed all that for me.  They took the best parts of the characters and made them despicable to me.  It tarnished my whole memory of the series, when I sit back and think about it.  When I’m watching the series and then think about that movie, I actually can’t reconcile the two to myself.  It’s almost like the movies are from an alternate universe.

9. Make me a great skater

It looks so much less cool when I try to do this. Specifically, it looks like a fat chick falling on her butt on hockey skates. Sad.

I love ice skating.  Seriously.  It brings me great pleasure in spite of the fact that I’m not great at it.  I love hockey and figure skating, and I’m thrilled that there are people who can perform such amazing feats on two little blades.  I would settle for being able to stop without falling over or skating backwards without using the “figure eight” method.  I would really love to be able to skate better.  I’m seriously considering spending more time at the Changwon skating rink in the mornings.

10. Get me over this weight loss plateau

I’ve been on the Somersize diet for about 6 months now, and I’ve lost 100 pounds or so.  That said, the weight loss has plateaued over the last month or so.  It does that.  Every once in awhile, I don’t lose weight for about 2-3 weeks.  Then I’ll suddenly drop 5 kilos overnight.  I’m waiting for those next five, and I’m getting tired of looking at my watch and tapping my toes.  Suzanne warns about not giving up when you hit plateaus, but it’s hard not to reach for a cookie.  I really wish I could just alter this “wish” to “make me a size 4 forever.”  I am so incredibly envious of people who have never had weight trouble, because they have no idea how lucky they are.  I would be so thrilled with myself if I could be skinny for the rest of my days.

I guess that’s about all I’ve got this year, Santa.  I hope it’s not too much for you to get me at least one of those things.  Frankly, I think there’s a better chance of getting Ron Paul in office than there is for me to get shoes in my size in Korea; it’s just not happening.  But I’d appreciate it if you’d give it the old college try.

I Love Holidee

I also love these impressions of Chloe Sevigny.  And taking jabs at pretentious hipsters.

Runners-Up

I thought I’d try and find some moderately offensive picture with which to decorate my site for the holidays.  Unfortunately, not every offensive/funny picture can be a winner.  Here are this years’ losers!

Guinness does give you strength - but it's more like the strength to make incredibly stupid decisions, particularly when paired with whiskey shots or when made into an Irish Car Bomb.

I think Santa smoking is hilarious, for some reason. Nothing says "Merry Christmas!" like a pack of Camels!

Everybody loves a good smoke - especially after a hard night of eating cookies and tripping burglar alarms!

I long for the America of old - when you could get a mail order gun, Santa kissed Mommy and smoked cigarettes, and children engaged in wholesome activities, like knife-throwing.

Happy Thanksgiving from Marge

Hello, readers!  Although I’m in Korea and today is just a work day like any other for me, I’d like to take a minute to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  My folks had Thanksgiving last weekend and, while I wish more than anything that I could have been there, it has been great to see pictures and be able to talk to some folks via Skype.  Technology can be a wonderful thing sometimes!  I know this is hammy, but I think I have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season, even though I may not be able to celebrate it as I’d like.

I have a decently-paid job that I don’t hate which has allowed us to save money towards us a house, and at a time when so many people have trouble finding even basic work, that is a real blessing.  I have a wonderful husband and a great network of friends over here, and we’re going to make Thanksgiving work abroad, which can be a tough thing to pull off sometimes.  We all have our health (and decent insurance coverage!), a warm apartment to call home, and enough cash to put a decent meal on the table.  In a time when so many people are lacking those basic things, it makes me feel more grateful that we’re in a position to have those things, unlike so many who don’t this holiday season.  So many people are living on reduced means or have lost a home or job in the crisis that it makes one feel doubly blessed for having what most consider to be even the most basic things.

The most important thing, however, is that we have good friends and family and seek to share the day with them as best we can, regardless of where in the world we are.  I would love to be at home, but I am more than thankful for my job and my friends over here.  We have been incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity to work in another country and meet people and experience a culture that would otherwise have been completely unknown to us.  In that light, I encourage everyone to count their blessings especially carefully this year, regardless of your financial or family situation.

For those of you who are traveling, I wish you a safe journey and, if you’re flying, that the TSA doesn’t molest you too badly.  May the turkey be moist, may your family and friends be plentiful, and may you not suffer too many injuries tomorrow morning as Black Friday commences.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Revisiting the 90s

For some reason, I have been listening to my old 90s music lately.  It has moments when it almost seems surreal, because I remember when a lot of these albums and songs came out for the first time, and it seems like only yesterday.  I’m not sure what’s brought on this desire to revisit my school days.  Perhaps it’s an email I received from a high school acquaintance with whom I lost touch immediately after high school.  She reminded me that our 10-year is coming up next summer, and I couldn’t believe it when I read that in print.  Has it really been 10 years?  Maybe I better start letting go of some of those grudges that I’m still carrying…

I make no claims that this is anything like a “Best of the 90s” list a la VH1.  This is more like a “Best of Marge” list, and some of these are old favorites that I have almost literally stumbled over in the middle of the night.

The Joshua Tree – U2
I’ll be honest: Bono drives me crazy.  I remember when I was in elementary school thinking that “War” and “The Joshua Tree” were albums that only cool older kids listened to, like my cousin Ike.  I also remember listening to U2 and loving it for yonks.  Then I had several unfortunate run-ins during freshman year with another girl living in my dorm who was obsessed with Bono and U2, and she tainted the greatness of this band for me for years.  It has been about eight years, and I’m just now giving it a fair listen again.  The Joshua Tree is one of those few albums where I can safely say that every song is good, and I still think Bono is a tool, so I hate to admit that.

The Writing’s on the Wall – Destiny’s Child
To be perfectly frank, I don’t like Beyonce any better than I like Bono.  In fact, I like her less.  She’s unoriginal, she has questionable fashion sense, and she has more money than sense.  That said, DC was not a bad group at all.  I have lots of fond memories of them.  I picked up The Writing’s On the Wall when it first came out and hated it.  I actually gave it to a friend of mine because I thought it sucked so bad.  I later changed my mind but had fallen out with my friend since then, so I never did get that album back.   I only have parts of it still remaining in my music library, but whenever I hear the standouts, I always think of being driven to parties in friends’ parents’ cars and wishing that I wasn’t such a lamer.  Because I was a big lamer when this album came out.  I actually cringe to think of it now.  My favorite song is “Jumpin’ Jumpin'” – always has been.

Survivor – Destiny’s Child
This album was the soundtrack to the best summer of my life.  I was about to be a senior in high school, and I was a junior counselor at Clearwater Camp for the summer.  I attended camp for years, and being a leadership was about the best thing ever.  We all lived together, snuck out to buy beer and make out with boys, and we listened to this album on repeat.  I will never forget Sarah Wise dancing around to “Bootylicious.”  Funnily enough, I like that song a lot better now than I ever did when it was popular.  I can still listen to this album before going out and feel pretty jazzed.

Automatic for the People – R.E.M.
This is not my favorite R.E.M. album.  Document No. 5 was and always will be the best for me, but since it was released in 1988, I technically can’t include it in my 90s favorites.  I still think it deserves a shout-out, though, since it was on repeat in my Discman for a good part of the 90s.  Automatic for the People is my runner-up, though.  “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight” and “Man on the Moon” were brilliant and I loved them madly.  “Nightswimming” was another that made it into the soundtrack of the best summer of my life.  We all used to go skinny-dipping off of the Bramley’s dock. (Lizzy was a leadership, and her family owned the property next door to the leadership house, so we’d sneak down there and drink and get nude.  I guess that’s what teenage girls do…)  Good times!  R.E.M. was one of the greats.

Home – Deep Blue Something
This soundtrack inspired me to rent Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which I didn’t care for half as much as the song, at the time.  I have no idea what happened to Deep Blue Something, but this was a good album.  Almost all of the songs are quite good, and I can listen to it straight through from start to finish.  Again, I have memories of camp when I think of this one.  We all had the song stuck in our heads in the summer of 1996, I believe it was.  I heard “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for the first time in the Big Blue Banana, the ugliest of the camp vans.  None of us knew all the words, though – just the chorus.  Did Deep Blue Something do anything after this album, I wonder?  Did they need to?

Rocket – Primitive Radio Gods

Best album that never really made it big. I wish they'd gone further.


I’m confident that this is a “Marge Special,” because I have met very few people who remember the Primitive Radio Gods.  They got famous on “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand,” which was a good song, but so were all the other songs on that album.  I still have it, and I still listen to it quite frequently.  “Motherf**ker,” “Skin Turns Blue,” and “Rocket” remain my favorite songs.  I think they made one more album after this one, but they never seemed to catch on and do anything more.  I wish they had, because I really loved this album.

Garbage – Garbage
This was another one that I had on repeat all throughout middle school.  All of the songs on the album were excellent, and I could and would listen to it straight through from start to finish.  I loved Shirley Manson, and the pink cover was strangely off-putting and enticing to me at the same time.  My top song pics are “Queer,” “Supervixen,” and “Milk.”  I’m listening to it now, and while it doesn’t sound fresh to me anymore, it still feels right to me.  It’s every bit as angsty as I was at that age

Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell – Meat Loaf
I think I was into Meat when I was in third grade.  I listened to this album non-stop for about a year and a half.  I loved the whole album, and you’d best believe that I still know the words to all the songs.  Jim Steinman wrote most, if not all, of the songs on that album.  He wrote a bunch of stuff for Celine Dion, too.  He was like the songwriter king of hit power ballads, and Meat Loaf did a great job belting them out.  I just love the cheesy saxophone solos – so dramatic.  These songs make me think of music videos that told a story, where the ugly guy got the beautiful girl, but she would invariably die or leave him before the song finished.  So tragic.  So awesome.

Tragic Kingdom – No Doubt 

I thought Gwen Stefani was so hot on this cover. I wanted to look like her.


I first heard “Just a Girl” watching Clueless, another movie that seems to be synonymous with 90s pop culture.  I found out who they were, and I was instantly addicted.  I loved Gwen Stefani’s platinum hair and red lipstick.  I loved the album cover.  I loved the sound.  This is another album that, for me, was good from start to finish.  No Doubt never topped this one, unfortunately, and have since become a bit of a sad case in my mind.  If they had made more albums like this one and evolved the sound a bit, I would have kept listening to them.  I guess they went the electronica route, which was disappointing.  I still like to belt out “Don’t Speak” in the car, and I still love the bass line in “Tragic Kingdom.”

Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette
I think this album was on constant repeat for everyone for an entire year between 6th and 7th grade for me.  I loved Alanis.  She was a bitch and she was angry – just like me!  She was saying what we were all thinking, and it sold.  And she never topped it.  The thing that I love about this album is that, although the sound is very much 90s, the songs are still appealing today.  She could be talking to someone today just as easily as someone in 1996.  Who didn’t have someone in mind to blister with “You Oughta Know?”  “One Hand in My Pocket” is still my favorite, but I bet you $5 that I could sing every single song on that album from start to finish, perhaps with the exception of the hidden track at the end.

Songs of Faith and Devotion – Depeche Mode
My cousin Martha (who goes by Claire now) was a total Goth chick in the 90s, and she turned me on to Depeche Mode, Front 242, and Leaether Strip.  Depeche Mode was the one that really stuck, and this was my first Depeche Mode album.  It’s still my favorite.  It’s so dark and moody, and I think Depeche Mode is probably what convinced me that The Cure was worth a listen.  Depeche Mode isn’t something that’s on my regular rotation, but it sure as heck was in 1998!  “Walking in My Shoes” is, in my opinion, hands-down the best song from the album, although there are some other gems to be found.  Personally, I don’t think Depeche Mode has done much good work since this album, but they’re still a good band to listen to, after all these years.

Dookie – Green Day
Everyone in my 6th grade class had this album on repeat, especially two of the boys I sat next to, so I can’t claim to have found this one by myself.  I remember that Björk’s album Post came out this same year.  I wish I had been cool enough to listen to her at that time, but alas, my taste ran more towards this group.  I loved Green Day for this album and this album only, and once I was done with it, I never went back.  I tend to think of Green Day as a tool-ish band now, although I have no real evidence to back this up except that I don’t like them anymore.  I still like this album, though, and it takes me back to listening to Cole Kirkpatrick and Adam Dobson talking about genitals and poop in class.  Those were the days.

janet. – Janet Jackson
This album was like sex on a stick, and I don’t think my grandmother would have let me listen to it if she had really known what was in it.  I still count it among the raunchiest albums that I own.  “If” is still my favorite song, and it’s dirty, but it’s not the dirtiest song on the album.  Man, Janet Jackson did good, raunchy dance videos while Britney Spears was still a Mouseketeer.  I remember watching the videos for this album on MTV, and Grandma walked in on “Again” where the guy was reaching into Janet’s pants and pulling out a belly chain.  Grandma gave me a disapproving look and a Marge Simpson grunt but never said anything, luckily for me.

Blood Sugar Sex Magic – The Red Hot Chili Peppers

This album cover looks like a bad tribal tattoo. I never did care for it.


Classic.  Martha and her older sister, Meredith, turned me onto the Chili Peppers.  “Give it Away” was the first song I ever heard from the album, and I was alternately scared of it and intrigued.  I ended up buying it years later, when I was older than 1st or 2nd grade.  I remember that we were watching the video for it and Uncle Harry walked in – this seems to be a recurring theme for me – and was moderately disapproving that the girls were letting me watch that stuff.  They told me that their dad made them buy the albums with their own allowance money because he wouldn’t buy that kind of music for them.  They went on to tell me, if I remember correctly, that they didn’t like Madonna because “you could tell what kind of woman” she was by listening to her music.  I got the idea, but I was also about seven.  I just knew that the videos looked interesting, if not weird.   

Finally… Albums I wish that I’d had

1. Live Through This – Hole: Before Courtney went completely off the deep end.
2. Dilate – Ani DiFranco: I love Ani, and this is my favorite album of hers.  I refused to listen to “angry bitch music” for years, and I wish I had started sooner because, you know, I kind of am an angry bitch.
3. Eleventeen – Daisy Chainsaw: I love Katie-Jane Garside.  She can do no wrong in my eyes, and this was her first musical project.  She left the band after the first album, but thank the stars she started Queenadreena several years later.  KJG is my favorite riot grrl, and “Hope Your Dreams Come True” is a great song.
4. Anything by Sonic Youth, the Smashing Pumpkins, Mazzy Star, and Portishead.  I never got into the Smashing Pumpkins when I was younger, and I didn’t know about the other three until the 90s were over.  I loves me some Mazzy Star and Portishead!

Marge’s Dutch Apple Pie Recipe

I love pie.  I’m on a diet, so I can’t have pie or anything else made with sugar and/or white flour.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy pie!  Hot apple pie is one of my favorite things in the fall, particularly when it’s hot and has natural vanilla ice cream half-melted over it.  Mmm, daddy!

Here is my recipe for joy.  Bake it.  Love it.  Don’t expect to lose any weight, ‘cuz I love me a lard crust!  I am the Paula Dean of lard.

The Crust (8-9 inch standard crust)
Honestly, I really prefer to use lard for my pie crusts, but you can’t really get it in Korea, near as I can tell.  Crisco works just fine, too.  I find that I don’t need to use as much lard as I do Crisco, for whatever reason.  Pie crust is really all about the feel.  You’ll know if it’s too dry, because it won’t hold together.  If it’s too wet, it will be like working with paper mache.

1 c. flour
1/3 c. lard
1/2 tsp. salt
approx. 2 Tbsp. cold water

I use a fork or a spoon and just mix it all together in a bowl.  Sometimes I use my hands, though a fork does it just fine.  I’ve used cold milk in place of the ice water before, but I’ve got to say, I now prefer the ice water.

The Filling
Baking apples don’t really happen in Korea.  Fortunately, the apples are big and sweet.  Honestly, I’ve made a lot of pies with regular apples.  I like the sweeter ones, but a mix of green and red or red and yellow works fine.  It depends on what you like.  I have a serious sweet tooth, so you know what I like!

Between 4-7 apples, depending on size.  Four was perfect for me today, but I’ve used as many as seven.
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves, if you want
1/8 tsp. allspice, if you want

Apple pie spice works fine, too.  I like plenty of spices in my apple pie, because that’s what gives it that amazing aroma.

Crumbly Topping
I fudged on this one tonight because I forgot to get butter at the store.  I made do with 1/2 a stick, and it worked out just great!  I just altered the amount of the other ingredients, and I had more than enough topping for the pie.

1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1 stick butter
cinnamon to taste, if you’d like

When you’ve got the crust rolled out and transferred to the 9″ pie pan, you can put the apples in.  Add the crumbly topping, and you’re ready to pop it in the oven.  I preheated my oven to about 400F.  I am using a small counter-top oven here, and it still takes about 40-50 minutes to cook.  Keep your eye on it, and if the top starts to get too brown, cover it with some foil and let it finish baking.