Only Seven Months to Go

The black hole that is Ted Cruz’s charisma met with the neutron star of Carly Fiorina’s pulsating unlikability — what could go wrong?

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Zombie William F. Buckley Tears

I’ll admit, my predictions of Trump winning the GOP nomination were partially based on wishful thinking. But now that it’s actually going to happen, Jesus.

He is the Republican Party.  And Republicans are forever Trump after this moment.

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“Blood, Sugar, Sex, Dickheads”

Here’s a great piece from a music industry insider on how the Red Hot Chili Peppers are not only terrible musically, but also one of the rapier bands in pop music history :

“At first I  refused to even go to a meeting with the band. The  A&R guy was a friend, though, and after an hour of talking about it,  I reluctantly agreed to attend.  At the meeting, I did a credible impression of a person who didn’t think the Chili Peppers were assholes or that their music was completely fucking horrible;  I talked enthusiastically about strategy, artist development and press campaigns, and I presented ideas on further establishing their image.  None of them involved wearing socks on their dicks.

Afterwards,  I took two of the Chili Peppers to the storage room where we kept the box sets and CDs. As we looked in the cabinet, they pressed up against me and told me about all of the ways we could make a super sexy sandwich.

At first  I thought they were joking. When I realized they weren’t, I ran from the storage room to my office, where I closed my door, sat down at my desk, and cried. I was humiliated and weirdly ashamed, and embarrassed that I was humiliated and weirdly ashamed.  There was far worse going on in the music industry at the time, and I thought I was a badass. Being a victim didn’t fit my self-perception.”

Please do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.  It’s really hard to believe what a fucked up world the music industry was back in the 90’s and, of course, still is today.

As for their music, I take pride in having called bullshit on Mother’s Milk way back in high school.  Yeah, yeah, the cover of “Higher Ground” wasn’t bad.  Every RHCP guitar player can do a passable Jimi Hendrix imitation.  Flea obviously devoured more than one “How To Play Slap / Funk Bass” guide in his time.  And the drummer(s) have always been, like, there.

But my fucking god, Anthony Kiedis.  Here’s a guy who can’t really sing and definitely can’t rap, so he tries to split the difference with his insufferable mumble-minstrel act.  He’s always sounded so incredibly desperate to sound black it hurts my ears, and every time they come on the radio I just think Minstrel Show without the blackface.

And those lyrics.  How about, oh, these

“I got stopped by a lady cop
In my automobile
She said get out and spead your legs
And then she tried to cop a feel
That cop she was all dressed in blue
Was she pretty? Boy I’m tellin’ you
She stuck my butt with her big black stick
I said ‘what’s up?’ now suck my dick”

They’re meat-heads.  They’re jocks who got into drugs rather than football.  They’d have been perfect frat-boys if they’d managed to find lacrosse sticks instead of guitars. (OK, maybe not a genuine weirdo like Frusciante.  That’s the nicest thing I can bring myself to say about any of them.  He’s Wes Borland to Kiedis’s Fred Durst, which in relative terms doesn’t mean shit.)

And here’s that word again, desperate.  They’ve always been a desperately un-funky, un-soulful person’s idea of a funky, soulful band.

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Badass Motherfucker

Prince & co., “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

Lots of people have linked to Prince’s Superbowl performance, which was indeed amazing.  But for my money this here is peak Prince – the all-star tribute to George Harrison after his death in 2001.  Prince comes on at 3:35.

You can tell that some of the old white dudes are pissed off at Prince for stealing the show, but guess who has the biggest smile?  The young guy is George Harrison’s son.  He gets it.

As a guitar nerd, nobody could play a fucking Telecaster the way Prince could.  They really aren’t meant to sound that way, but Prince.

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Once again, thanks to What the Book? for my English language literary needs.

I’m finishing Ann Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy, Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy, and then kind of a curveball, the complete The Puma Blues (sucker is fucking heavy).

Puma is a comic series that ran from 1986-1989, a dystopian vision of environmental collapse before people were really talking about global warming.  The writer went on to be famous for creating the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the artist became famous in the underground comic scene (Gaiman’s Sandman, for one).  They were basically kids at the time.

Last year Murphy and Zulli actually put together 40 new pages to “finish” the series, and now it’s mine.

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“it was Saturday night / I guess that makes it alright”

I’d love to post a bunch of Prince videos from Youtube, but he’d have hated that.  So instead, here’s a country cover version of “Little Red Corvette.”


Good lord, what a shit year for musicians.

Sinead O’Connor, “Nothing Compares 2 You”

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“the real way to learn to cook is to cook for ten years”

To my mind, a surprisingly thoughtful essay on the downside of celebrity chef-dom from, ahem, celebrity chef Mario Batali:

The problem now is a lot of people go to cooking school because they want to be on TV. They don’t want to cook. And they don’t understand that the real way to learn to cook is to cook for ten years. You could learn how to use a CVap or an immersion circulator, but you first you have to understand the roasting process, and how good meat cooked in a CVap can be, only if you manipulate it after you’re done bringing it to the right temperature, putting a crust on it, and making it fascinating and delicious.

There is more demand now than ever for talented committed cooks, and the commitment is the part that most cooks are lacking. They want to get on their way and move quickly. They want to get their stuff and be a head chef or open a new restaurant with David Chang or Mario Batali or whomever. It’s tough now when someone leaves, and only gives you short notice, because they went to work for the next guy up on the media world food chain. It isn’t like it used to be, where, if someone screwed David Chang, they couldn’t go work for Tom Colicchio in three weeks.”

I’m glad he talked about his old show.  I used to really enjoy it.

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“hell within a hell”

In 1975, South Korean president Park Chung-hee, father of the current president, decided that the cities needed to be cleansed of “vagrants.”  According to an AP investigation, unimaginable horror ensued:

“In 1975, dictator President Park Chung-hee, father of current President Park Geun-hye, issued a directive to police and local officials to ‘purify’ city streets of vagrants. Police officers, assisted by shop owners, rounded up panhandlers, small-time street merchants selling gum and trinkets, the disabled, lost or unattended children, and dissidents, including a college student who’d been holding anti-government leaflets.

They ended up as prisoners at 36 nationwide facilities. By 1986, the number of inmates had jumped over five years from 8,600 to more than 16,000, according to government documents obtained by AP.

Nearly 4,000 were at Brothers. But about 90 percent of them didn’t even meet the government’s definition of ‘vagrant’ and therefore shouldn’t have been confined there, former prosecutor Kim Yong Won told the AP, based on Brothers’ records and interviews compiled before government officials ended his investigation.

The inner workings of Brothers are laid bare by former inmate Lee Chae-sik, who had extraordinary access as personal assistant to the man in charge of enforcing the rules. The AP independently verified many of the details provided by Lee, now 46, through government documents.

Lee was sent to Brothers at 13 after trouble at school. His first job was in a medical ward. Twice a day, Lee and four others, none of whom had medical training, would try to care for patients, often dousing their open wounds with disinfectant or removing maggots with tweezers.

‘People screamed in pain, but we couldn’t do much,’ Lee said. ‘It was a hell within a hell. The patients had been left there to die.’”

Recently, President Park Geun-hye was criticized for pushing through a law to re-write South Korean history text books that would paint her father in a more flattering light.

Posted in History, Korea, Politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

Ramyon Wars

Today’s college lesson plan revolved around restaurants and food, so I had them break into teams and come up with the best recipe for making ramyon.

I swear to the FSM blood was almost spilled.  The “cheese or no cheese” issue was probably the most contentious one, but Shin Ramyon versus Sesame Ramyon was a close second.

Posted in ESL, Food, Korea, Nomz, South Korea | Leave a comment

Incheon Airport Blues

Incheon Airport, the main international hub in South Korea and an institution that many Koreans take a lot of pride in, is suffering from huge delays for foreigners going through immigration :

“However, according to the Immigration Office, the extra booths have to remain shut because of the lack of personnel needed to run them.

According to the Immigration Office, there is a shortage of immigration officials, with just 668 personnel in 2015, up just 10 percent from 589 in 2001, when the Incheon airport first opened.

In contrast, the total number of people arriving and departing through the airport increased by 180 percent, from 17.59 million people in 2001 to 44.88 million people last year.

The immigration official added, ‘We work overtime hours and are not able to eat our meals regularly, yet we are always short of hand.’”

If only there was an incredibly obvious way to solve this problem, such as hiring more customs officials.

Anyhow, it’s nice to know I wasn’t imagining things since the last few times I went through Incheon internationally.  I used to happily zoom through customs, but starting about two years ago I figured I just had the bad luck to come in during peak hours (going out is still pretty smooth).

And there’s this:

“A large reason behind these delays has to do with several cases of illegal immigrants attempting to break into the country earlier this year.

In January a Chinese couple was arrested after sneaking into the country through Incheon airport. That same month, a Vietnamese man illegally entered Korea through Incheon airport by pretending to be a transfer passenger heading to Japan.”

OK, but if you have a solid, forward-thinking security system in place to start with you won’t have these problems, and you won’t have to resort to that most Korean of problem-solving techniques — constant ad hoc-isms that just manage to confuse everybody and solve nothing.

Also, the Korean government is under no obligation to maintain it’s historically high level of customer service by hiring an adequate number of clerks.  If it wants to let Incheon turn into LAX or (god forbid) JFK, by all means allow your main airport to shrivel into a miserable hell-hole.

But that would be a shame.

Posted in Korea, South Korea, Travel, WhinyForeigner | Leave a comment