You've doubtless seen the strange yet wonderful statue (if so dignified a term may be applied to a piece of bad fiberglass pop art) depicting Britney Spears blissfully giving birth to her son, Sean Preston, upon a bearskin rug.
The Two-headed Monster exercise is an English class variation of a number I've seen on the improv show "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" It's actually a pretty dynamic way to make students aware of the grammatical and pragmatic elements of a conversation.
The setup is simple: students are grouped into pairs (or trios, if the class has an odd number of students) and are told that they are now fused together and have become two-headed monsters. The monster, unfortunately, has a problem: each head can utter only one word at a time.
A dialogue between two monsters might go something like this:
Head A: What
Head B: did
Head A: you
Head B: do
Head A: last
Head B: night?
Head A: I
Head B: didn't
Head A: do
Head B: anything
Head A: special.
The exercise makes students keenly aware of the grammatical constraints that determine what eventual form a given utterance might take. It also encourages students to understand how one instinctively "thinks through" a question by making the communicative process occur in slow motion. This in turn introduces them to pragmatics, because while a question "speaks itself into existence," students gain an increasingly clear idea of where the question is going. This, then, helps determine what utterance the other monster makes.
The improv nature of the exercise is important because it coaches students to think on their feet instead of relying on either a teacher or a text. In a class of twelve students, six monsters can mix and converse comfortably in monster-pairs. If you have ten students, the monsters will have to figure out how, exactly, they will form their conversational clusters.
The exercise can also be fused with more conventional exercises. For example, ESL/EFL students routinely do role-playing and task-oriented exercises, and these can be adapted to the Two-headed Monster scenario. Monsters at a picnic! Mommy and Daddy Monster interact with Baby (or Teen) Monster! Monsters go shopping! Monsters go on a trip! Monsters reenact scenes from famous movies! Monsters interview shady politicians! Or, for advanced students, Monsters try to tell each other riddles or speculate on what life would be like with only one head!
The Two-headed Monster exercise does have a major drawback, though: if you do it for too long, some students will find it tedious. As with the "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" act, the exercise shouldn't drag on and on. It should also be used sparingly, i.e., not as an activity you do every single day.
Aside from that, I highly recommend this exercise to English teachers. Improv comedy is a rich source of exercises for English class, by the way. Watch some improv and you'll see all sorts of potential activities for your students.
EFL Geek just posted a comment: "Your friend is a freak!" He goes on to wonder how my buddy Thomas St. John discovered his special gift, the elastic elbows.
Conjecture: Tom probably discovered it the same way most guys discover masturbation: through the magic of Vaseline and a nearby sheep.
You know-- most of us are actually capable of doing what Tom can do, but we have to use our scrotums. Tom was fortunate enough to be born with scrotums on his elbows, which makes his act somehow socially acceptable.
Meanwhile, thanks to irrational taboos, We the Scrotally Gifted languish in anonymity, our unconventional bartending skills untested. Because of American prudery, I am unable to stand before Carmen Electra with a ball sac full of wine and command, "Slake thy thirst, O Woman, from the limpid pool that lieth betwixt my stones!"
I have to know, EFL Geek-- how did the audience react, and who drank out of Tom's elbow? I told him he should try to get Leno, Asner, and Carmen Electra to drink out of it. Did they?
After I left the office this afternoon, I lumber-waddled downhill from Smoo's main campus to the local bank. My empty wallet was screaming for more money, and I was hoping to hit up the newly installed super-ATMs to calm the wallet down.
Two unchaperoned little girls, probably no more than six years old, were in the bank's foyer, which is also where a long row of ATMs stood. The girls had been trying to do something with one ATM, but I couldn't see what. The mystery was solved when one little girl ran up to me and said, "Adjoshi! This card doesn't work in the machine!" Cottoning to my new and surprising role as The Nameless Adjoshi, I said, "Show me your card!" The girl dutifully slapped it in my hand.
It was a phone card.
I have it on good authority from no less a cosmic personage than Justin Yoshida that, in Japan, phone cards are generally used by two classes of people: the homeless and drug dealers. Perhaps, I thought, the same applies in Korea. These little girls didn't look old enough to be pushing crack, so I was forced to conclude they were homeless waifs. They certainly seemed to have the street smarts I associate with clever homeless folks: after I informed the first girl that her phone card wouldn't work in these machines, both girls asked to see my phone card. I guess they were thinking that some people's phone cards were somehow better than others' cards when it came to ATM access, a perfectly reasonable assumption in a hierarchical society.
I told the girls I didn't have a phone card because, like most people in Korea, I have a cell phone. Undeterred, and having completely forgotten that their original purpose was to extort money from an ATM, the girls demanded to see my cell phone.
At this point, I was too charmed and amused by these girls to say no, so I brought the phone out and gave it to them. They grabbed it, immediately figured out how to open it, then started pushing random keys in a touchingly determined effort to make the phone do something. At that point I laughed, reached down for the phone, and pried it away from them while saying, "OK, that's enough" in a voice that tried to convey both imperiousness and avuncularity. The girls gave up without resistance, perhaps realizing that I can beat any number of six-year-old girls in an Ultimate Fighting cage match any day. Phone safely pocketed, I indicated the row of pay phones outside.
"Try those," I advised.
"We tried, and they don't work," was the reply.
At that point, the girls realized there was no further benefit in talking with The Nameless Adjoshi, so they left the bank's foyer. I got my cash in peace, then lumber-waddled home.
Aside from the fact that the encounter was inherently amusing, what struck me was that the girls never once said "Huh?" or "What?" while I was speaking Korean with them. That's a good sign: children are the most honest critics when it comes to judging whether you speak a language clearly enough to make yourself understood. My early forays in France were punctuated by a lot of "Comment?" (and its ruder cousin, "Quoi?") until my accent improved. I get a lot of that in Korea, but it's usually from rude teenage girls who utter the Korean version of "Huh?", which sounds like a nasal "Eh?" (or perhaps the French "Hein?").
I was also struck by the fact that my foreignness was never once an issue in our bizarre exchange. Truly remarkable, that, and reassuring. Recognition of foreignness, and inability to understand someone's accent-- these things might be the artifacts of the mental filters we construct as we are further assimilated into our given culture. The Tao Te Ching tells us that "the five colors blind the eye; the five tones deafen the ear." This means that our mental filters can actually get in the way of true, unadulterated perception.
Perhaps these girls, for all their wiliness (and no-- they weren't homeless; that was a joke, for God's sake), were strangely pure of heart: in the world of unmediated percipience, there are no Koreans, no foreigners, and no funny accents.
See? I wasn't lying. Tom appeared on Leno in the States on the evening of the 29th, and the show will be broadcast on AFKN this evening (the 30th) in Korea. Alas, I have no TV, so I'll be missing the broadcast. If any of you teched-up, gizmo-savvy folks would care to record the Ed Asner segment and render it as a downloadable video clip (or at least offer me a few choice screen captures), I'd be in your debt and would gladly give you every single one of my precious colon polyps.
Look at the image below, which was taken from the Leno website (hurry: the image changes periodically). Scroll down until you see the arrow pointing to my buddy Tom, who is pictured in a way that shows off his anatomical gift.
A while ago, the Maven sent me a hilarious link to video of a masturbating cat (you'll need to sign up to become a YouTube member to see the vid; membership is free). In the video, the technical question of how a beast with claws can beat its own meat is... well, at least partially answered.
A search through my SiteMeter showed hits from some LiveJournal message boarders who found my old centipede porn post. Thanks to that message board, I in turn found two lovely links:
1. Giant Centipede Eating Mouse I
2. Giant Centipede Eating Mouse II
In both videos, the giant centipede is a pet in a terrarium. The mouse is obviously standard food. The second video is crueler than the first: the centipede's owner uses a large feather to prod the mouse forever toward the centipede, the latter getting more agitated until it finally tackles the mouse. In both cases, the actual takedown isn't particularly dramatic, but if you're not the kind of person who can watch cute furry things being chewed on by cold, ruthless arthropods, you might want to avoid these videos.
This brings back fond memories of the tarantulas I used to own.
My coworker Z, that ray of sunshine, conveyed the horrifying news with an evil giggle: her class had determined that I was the least manly of the three male foreign English teachers. I told my colleagues: "It's probably my large breasts."
One of my favorite students sent me a text message earlier today saying that "our intensive class" (she's referring to the class pictured in this post) was planning to get together for a picnic on April 8 out in the Gwa-ch'eon region, south of Seoul. I'm planning to bring some French- or Swiss-style sandwiches, plus some fruits. It's gonna be fun. Even if it rains.
I don't think I'm allowed to say too much right now, but I am a long-time personal friend of a dude who will be appearing as a guest on Jay Leno's "The Tonight Show" on March 29 (USA time) and March 30th (AFKN, Korea time). My buddy has... shall we say, a special anatomical gift, and he will be demonstrating it on the show in an act tantalizingly titled, "The Human Body Shot."
Stay tuned for Leno on the 29th (US) and 30th (ROK). Look for Thomas St. John. Barring any last-minute changes, Tom is scheduled to appear with star guests Rob Schneider and Carmen Electra. It's at times like these that I wish Tom had a damn blog. His site traffic would be through the fucking roof.
Tom's act, essentially in the tradition of Letterman's Stupid Human Tricks, will be featured in the Does This Impress Ed Asner? segment of Leno's show.
(Hint: "Human body shot" does not refer to the ability to shoot yourself in the chest and then regenerate à la Wolverine of the X-Men.)
(Not a rant against Condi.)
I have a plastic jar, about a half-gallon in volume, in which I normally keep dry rice. The jar had been sitting there for a couple months, full of rice, but untouched, unused. Today, given the leftovers in my fridge, I decided I'd make some fried rice. I grabbed the rice jar. Unscrewed the top.
And was greeted by an army of dead, winged bugs.
My very own Qin terracotta army.
Being the type of person who is more likely to be fascinated than revolted by things that are out of the ordinary, I decided to analyze the situation. Conclusion #1 was obvious: I'd left the rice unused for too long. Conclusion #1 led smoothly to Life Lesson #1: use your rice in a timely manner, or risk arthropod attack. Life Lesson #1 is one of those things that applies only to single men: men in relationships rarely have to learn this lesson (recall the French riddle, posted earlier, about how you know your wife is dead).
Conclusion #2 was the result of some poking, prodding, and exploration. First, I observed that all the mature bugs were on the surface, on top of the rice. I looked down at the side of the jar, which was transparent, and saw hundreds of tiny eggs: the second wave of the invasion, I suppose.
Second, I observed that the rice, when prodded with a spoon, behaved as if it had been exposed to moisture: it broke apart, but was slightly sticky. The insects, after hatching (and as they moved toward maturity), must have been using the rice as food, consuming and digesting it, then excreting something sticky and starchy. I say "starchy" because the surface was covered with something that initially reminded me of a spiderweb but which, on closer examination, was more like the starchy film I associate with rice cooker lids. If the insects had nothing but rice (and each other?) to chew on all those months, I think "starch" would be as good a guess as any about the composition of the mysterious gunk.
The third observation was that the insects-- and their eggs-- appeared to be dead. All of them. The eggs looked dry and inert; the insects, which looked like something between flying ants and mosquitos (couldn't have been the latter), were all quite kaput. Because they had all matured and died inside the jar, and because I have had no pest problem for the past couple months, I can safely assume that not a single insect escaped the jar. After taking a moment to smile grimly and imagine the insects' futile efforts to escape their immense plastic-and-rice prison, my smile faded and my mind queasily settled on Conclusion #2:
If the insects never escaped, but bred and matured inside the jar, then they (or their eggs) must have been in the original, store-bought packages of rice.
I suppose it's all right, though: American comedians traditionally make fun of peanut butter, whose jar labels apparently report the presence of insect parts. I'm not at all deterred by the thought that I might be ingesting bug heads in my PB&J-- "More nutrition for me!" I say. A few mysterious eggs in my rice won't do me any harm, as long as I don't give the little bastards a chance to breed.
I threw out my rice. Whether those eggs were dead or alive made little difference to me. They might have been interesting to look at, but there was no way in hell I was going to eat that many of them.
I've been wondering about something:
In English, it's called cheese.
In German, it's Käse (or merely Käs', as in Leberkäs', one of my favorite German street foods).
In Spanish, it's queso.
The English, German, and Spanish words for cheese all look as though they come from the same root. Spanish is a Romance language, so one might think that fellow Romance languages like French and Italian would contain words similar in sound or spelling to queso. But no:
In French, cheese is fromage.
In Italian, it's formaggio.
The above two words are obviously related to each other, but seem to have little to do with cheese/Käse/queso.
My question, then, is:
Why? How did this come about?
I'll be checking an etymological dictionary sometime later today. Comments, in the meantime, are appreciated.
All praise to A Arte da Fuga for providing the YouTube video link that allowed me to make this decidedly lo-tech account of the death of a beloved South Park regular.
For those who haven't had the chance to see how Trey Parker and Matt Stone chose to get rid of the Chef character after Isaac Hayes, the soul-singing voice of Chef, quit "South Park" for ostensibly religious reasons (Hayes is a Scientologist), here's how it went down:
My lovely English rose of a coworker zzZ (for "zzZ" is what she calls herself on her newly minted blog) has been an avid practitioner of taekwondo for several years. She earned her first-degree black belt last year, and has self-published a book that deals with the TKD world and her experiences in it.
zzZ's blog contains a sidebar link to Lulu.com, where you can find her book, The Taekwondo Diaries, along with some very nice 2007 calendars. The book can be ordered for a small fee as publish-on-demand hard copy, or can be downloaded for free as a PDF file. Here's part of the writeup zzZ crafted for herself on the Lulu site:
I decided to write this book after I was flooded by questions from people outside Korea who wanted to know if it was worth coming over to train.
This book is the first of its kind. There are already many technical manuals on the market covering forms and test tips for Taekwondo. Until now, there has been no such book about training in Korea. In light of over fifty million people training in this fast-growing sport, such information is long overdue.
The book doesn't only cover Taekwondo. It also contains a panorama of contemporary Korean culture from the viewpoint of someone who is actually living here. A bit of tongue in cheek is shown, but I can at least guarantee unique coverage of aspects of Korean life that haven't been printed elsewhere.
Ms. Smith has written an insightful account about what it's like to practice taekwondo in a world largely dominated by men. Her book offers historical and cultural insights, but for my money the best parts of it deal with her personal journey toward the black belt-- a journey at times demanding, disappointing and, ultimately, uplifting.
The Taekwondo Diaries is unflinchingly honest, and that's part of its charm. You'll find information about prominent Korean TKD masters both in Korea and abroad, insights about other Korean martial arts, and a chapter that takes a fond look at the Korean Tigers, South Korea's most well-known TKD team.
Written in accessible prose and chock-full of useful information, The Taekwondo Diaries will make a fine addition to your bookshelf.
I found a site called "Blagues sur les femmes," or Jokes About Women. The site's in French, and I'd like to translate the jokes for you this evening. Some of these jokes will be familiar to anglophones because they probably came from l'anglophonie, but other jokes will be less familiar-- a breast of fresh air. Some jokes are untranslatable, but I'll do my best. I also have to admit that one or two jokes were beyond me-- elles m'ont passé sous le nez, as the French say: they went right under my nose (i.e., they went right over my head).
Ladies: this might be a good time to go change your tampons or whatever it is you do when you head en masse to the restroom. None of these jokes is particularly nice toward women, but as a man, I'd be lying to you if I said they didn't make me laugh. Luckily, many of my female readers are of the highly evolved, Camille Paglia Post-feminist School-- i.e., they know there's no reason to be offended when jokes about men are equally available. In the post-feminist world, an unsolicited tittie twist can be answered by a kick in the balls with a spike-toed boot. For the rest of you humorless, man-hating bull-dykes, though, it's time to mount your dildo-shaped broomsticks and fly the fuck outta here.
Attention, c'est parti! And here we go!
[French joke in italics; my English translation follows each joke.]
My buddy Sperwer offers interesting and unsettling video footage of blade work here. If you read the post he's written to explain the video links, you may come away, as I did, feeling that Sperwer's tone was entirely too gleeful. This is a dude who's extremely comfortable around weaponry.
The next link, here, offers pics of Sperwer himself working out (nice view of the latest in Korean monastic fashion), as well as bordering-on-pornographic shots of the man's surgery-mangled hand. These injuries don't seem to stop Sperwer from practicing, which is a lesson to all us young, unwounded slackers.
Andi might have renounced violence as part of her monastic path, but at least one Buddhist continues his quest to learn how to split people in half. Check out Sperwer's continuing posts on the Korean sword-way, haedong geomdo, here and here.
The answer I gave to this question-- "What is religion?"-- in a grad-level Religion 701 class in 2000, was:
Religion is a human response to ultimate reality.
The answer was a great disappointment to our teacher, who described it as "cagey." The problem, of course, is that more specific definitions of religion fall prey to exceptions: if you argue that religions are primarily theistic, for example, then you may be unjustifiably excluding nontheistic strains of Buddhism* and other traditions. If you argue that religions all deal with salvation in some form, you may end up excluding "world-maintenance" traditions that have nothing to do with salvation (or other looming existential questions). Etc., etc.
But even my "cagey" answer has its problems. Consider each element of my definition and ask yourself the following questions:
1. Is religion an exclusively human phenomenon? If people in a given religious tradition describe a metaphysics wherein all phenomena participate with equal profundity in the eternal mystery-- a universe in which all things are necessarily imbued with religious reality-- how can one limit "religion" merely to the human sphere? Perhaps my definition is too anthropocentric.
2. Is religion merely a response? Mircea Eliade would probably argue that it is, and evidence abounds that religious people are convinced they are responding to something. But might we not be discluding those who initiate religious behavior without waiting for the manifestation of some Ultimate?
3. Speaking of which: might the inclusion of ultimate reality in my definition risk excluding those traditions or thought-sytems that proclaim there is nothing ultimate?
Me, I like my definition. I'm not about to part with it. I'm aware it causes problems, but I tend to think that it causes fewer problems than those long-winded definitions that seek to define a living, moving reality in dead, minutiae-ridden, contractual language. Definitions of core human concepts require a certain semantic plasticity and conceptual openness.
Then there's Zen Master Shin Go Seong's way of looking at things. "What is religion?" he asked me and a friend of mine when we were at his Zen temple in Germantown, Maryland for the first time. My friend and I mumbled something vaguely academic, to which Master Shin said, "No. Religion is deepest teaching."
This two-word definition has prompted a lot of thought on my part. Teaching implies that something-- we might call it knowledge or insight or something else-- is handed down in a chain of giving. Teaching implies interdependence. The term also leaves open the possibility that the teacher might not be human: perhaps a pot, now boiling over thanks to our negligence, can be a teacher. Perhaps birdsong can teach. Or itchy hemorrhoids. Teaching, then, is relational.
The word deepest-- and it's so typically Zen to brook no compromise by merely saying "deep"-- means that we go right to the heart of reality. Ultimate reality? Maybe. Yahweh? Krsna? Maybe. Slap a name on it; it won't matter much.**
Religion: Human response to ultimate reality.
Religion: Deepest teaching.
What is religion?
As a half-Korean, I'm sick of people who spread myths about Korea, so I've decided to confront some of the most malicious canards head-on in this post. Given that my blog receives over 10,000 unique visits per hour, I expect the truth to spread virally-- an epidemic of correct speech to combat the skein of lies that enmeshes my people, keeping them from realizing their full potential as a global power.
Here we go:
1. Korean children do not dress their dogs up before eating them. They dress up the bones afterward.
2. Pikachu's exploits are not an allegorical representation of the campaigns led by Admiral Yi Sun-shin. I have it on good authority that Pikachu is not even Korean: he's Somali. Christ, look at his color scheme!
3. Koreans are not surgically rewired at birth to reject the notion of straight lines existing between Point A and Point B.
4. Korean women do not beat their men with baseball bats to "soften them up and make their meat tastier by infusing it with adrenaline" before sex.
5. Tangun is not the god of ramyeon.
6. Ddeok-bokgi is most assuredly not made from the severed fingers of North Korean orphans.
7. Kimchi-jjigae, a spicy cabbage stew, does cure cancer and can raise the dead. (By the way, dwenjang-jjigae is the best protection against vampires.)
8. Those huge coils of street vendor soondae (a type of blood sausage) do not come from ox penises.
9. Koreans have not developed the technology to download martial arts knowledge into their brains, "Matrix"-style. Which reminds me: those commercials where you see some chick or some dude casually walking up a wall? All faked by CGI.
10. The Yuk-sam ("63") Building is not a disguised nuclear missile silo.
11. Korean dogs are not all fitted with remote-control grenades as a precaution against invasion.
12. Korean women do not bathe in tubs of ground-up canaries to remove skin blemishes.
13. Korean middle schoolers do not spend their days chucking pig brains and rotten squid at each other.
14. The Chinese characters for "Taegu" do not translate as "City of the Blowjob." There is a Chinese character, dae, which means "big," and a character gu, which means "mouth, opening, entry," but the hanja for Taegu are not those characters. Seoul, on the other hand, is Old Korean for "Sit on my face."
15. Korean men, as a sign of manliness, do not masturbate with chopsticks dipped in glue and rolled in powdered glass.
16. The squirrels at Seoul's Olympic Park are not North Korean spies.
17. The triumphant interjection "A-ssah!" is not screamed at the moment of orgasm.
18. It is possible to learn Korean in under twenty years.
19. Koreans adore the Japanese, and the baseball player Ichiro is an adopted son of Korea.
20. The answer to the question "What lies inside a Korean woman's miniskirt?" is not "Horror, desolation, and the possibility of fangs."
My buddy Mike at Naked Villainy posts that he's rooting for my alma mater in basketball. I'm grateful. For the curious, I'm posting a link to the Georgetown University fight song (which contains its own link to an audio clip in which the song is sung by our very own Georgetown Chimes). Note that the long stanza in our fight song betrays a huge inferiority complex, as it bashes a number of schools:
We've heard those loyal fellows up at Yale
Brag and boast about their Boola-Boola.
We've heard the Navy yell,
We've listened to Cornell;
We've heard the sons of Harvard tell
How Crimson lines could hold them.
Choo Choo, Rah Rah, dear old Holy Cross;
The proud old Princeton tiger
Is never at a loss.
But the yell of all the yells,
The yell that wins the day,
Is the "HOYA, HOYA SAXA!"
For the dear old Blue and Gray.
The Koreablogosphere's heretofore harmonious existence has been shattered-- shattered-- by a cluster of posts on various Koreablogs with reference to a Korea Times article written by one Chris Brockie provocatively titled "Trafficking of English Teachers?", a title that, thanks to a threatening question mark that looms like a fist raised to smash a pet hamster, might lead one to believe that certain Koreans were somehow engaged in illicit activities.
Now: please sit back and savor the above run-on sentence. I wrote it just for you.
Links to the relevant articles:
Brendon Carr's "Shut the Fuck Up, Whiner" post is here.
Jeff's "If You Don't Like It, GO HOME, WHITEY!" post is here.
Nathan's "Lone Cowboy Against the Injuns" post is here.
*EFL Geek's "Jeff and Brendon Have a Point" post is here.
*Jodi's "Jeff Has a Point" post is here.
All of the above blogs (except Jodi's) have this in common: their post titles double as permalinks.
Here at BigHominid's Hairy Chasms, titles are merely titles. And that's why you love this place. The retro feel of an obsolete template. It turns you on. Makes your nipples glow and grow.
As a Seoul-based English teacher might write:
WHOSE YOUR DADDE?
“At last, we shall see who is stronger!” roared the tiger.
“At last!” squeaked the rabbit. “The debate has gone on too long! Today we settle it!”
The furry little creature held out its foreleg. The tiger’s enormous paw came down and swallowed the rabbit’s appendage whole.
“Arm wrestling!” bellowed the tiger. “We begin when I say go!”
“Agreed!” yelled the rabbit.
Seconds ticked away as the implacable enemies glared at each other. The tension mounted.
“GO!” the tiger roared, then ate the rabbit’s head.
“Ha! I love doing that,” chuckled the tiger.
Mac would sell a hell of a lot more G4s if they actually advertised like this:
As a fight choreography junkie and all-around geek, I have to do my sacred duty and point the world toward Justin's post here, which features a Google Video (yes-- finally available in Korea) of some teens cutting loose with their lightsabers in yet another Star Wars fan film lightsaber fantasy. As far as I can tell, the film's title is "Ryan Wieber vs. Michael 'Dorkman' Scott." We'll call it RWMS for short.
Notice the difference between this fan film and others like it: except for the long shot at the beginning of the RWMS fight, the editing is generally tight and rapidfire; it conveys the mood very well. Note, too, that the choreography reflects an understanding of Star Wars-style saber fights. Most fan filmmakers seem unable to grasp how saber fighting is done: it involves a lot of very fast whirling, with blade contact generally occurring in mid-whirl (i.e., no actual contact is being made, but it looks cool). The Yoda-Dooku fight exemplifies this. At those moments when blade-to-blade contact is direct, the moves tend to favor Chinese as opposed to Japanese styles (with Liam Neeson's fighting style being, perhaps, a notable exception-- quite a few of his moves, especially against battle droids, were more reminiscent of quick-draw samurai exchanges). Star Wars fights also incorporate the big martial arts no-no: turning your back to your opponent to execute a whirling slash. The move is useless in real life, but fun to look at on screen. The trick, however-- the thing most fan filmmakers keep missing-- is that such moves need to be done very quickly (and preferably with tight closeups to give them more oomph). Too many fan film duels look slow and limp because the camera work is poor and the choreography isn't energetic enough. RWMS doesn't make these mistakes.
The RWMS fight also incorporates some clever references to other movie duels. I don't think I caught them all, but I definitely saw traces of the Dooku-Yoda duel from "Attack of the Clones," the nighttime fight scene involving Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-fat) from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and the obvious reference to Kenobi's goofy-looking ready stance in "Revenge of the Sith" (the scene where he squares off against Grievous). Some of the atemi reminded me of Qui-gon Jinn's backfist against Darth Maul in the three-way duel in "The Phantom Menace," and there was some exchange where both opponents held their sabers in a reverse grip that was pure Zatoichi. When Dorkman punches our hero Ryan right in his leg wound, this calls to mind the scene from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where that one Nazi kept punching Indy in his wounded shoulder during the long truck chase.
While RWMS has its faults, it's easily one of the best-choreographed fan film duels I've seen. Add to that the fact that the principals are just kids, and... well, I'm envious. Spielberg probably started off something like this.
Go watch RWMS. Then watch it again. Geeky cool.
UPDATE: A little research reveals this fan film came out in 2003, so none of the moves in the choreography could have referred to "Revenge of the Sith," which came out in 2005. What looked like a reference to Kenobi's ready stance might simply have been a reference to certain postures seen in some kung fu flicks. Speaking of kung fu: I was, frankly speaking, surprised not to have picked out any blatant "Matrix" references.
Thanks to a persistent cough (I blogged about it last week), I've decided to skip out on meditation in the zendo this week in favor of going it alone. Today's agenda includes:
1. a visit to a local museum where a student works; she's planning to show me around the place
2. finishing up the lesson planning I started on Saturday
3. zazen on my own, possibly outside because it's a nice day and my cough is less likely to disturb both myself and others
4. a possible Namsan hike, since I didn't go yesterday
6. finalizing the new Golgotha image (the strip isn't dead; it's only sleeping)
That ought to be enough for one man for one day.
Meditate on this:
The words "less" and "fewer" are generally associated with uncountable and countable nouns, respectively. Less sugar; fewer calories.
But if I write the sentence, "Give your answer in 500 words or...", do I write "less" or "fewer"?
I've never been absolutely consistent on this point, but I lean toward "less." Why? Because there are plenty of instances in English where countable nouns are reckoned in "chunks" and thus as uncountable nouns.
Five hours is a long time to have sex.
In the above example, the phrase "five hours" is being treated as a single, determinate block of time. Each individual hour is not being considered a separate entity. Note, too, that the above construction violates another "rule" of grammar: the verb should agree with its subject. "Hours" is plural, yet the third-person singular form of "to be" is in evidence. This is why my students think English is a crazy language.
And now, distance:
Ten miles is too short for a marathon.
Same deal as above, as I think you'll see.
Given all that, I think that "500 words or less" is quite apropos.
(I think I wrote "fewer" in a comment on Rory's blog, for which I am eternally ashamed.)
Check out Charles's latest post on Liminality, in which he chronicles last night's culinary adventure in detail. The post includes plenty of pictures of meal-in-process (Salad as Metaphor for Change and all that).
One photo in particular makes me laugh: the fifth one down. I remember the moment it was taken. I said something like, "Was that gay enough for you?" Look at the photo and you'll see what I mean.
Charles also wrote something I found hilarious:
...we engaged in some very interesting conversation, half in Korean and half in English. The Korean was a concession to Hyunjin, who appreciated the fact that she could speak Korean and be understood by everyone present. Kevin is much more proficient at switching back and forth between English and Korean than I am. I’m used to speaking Korean pretty much all the time, but I can switch gears into English when the occasion requires it. I can also distinguish between Korean-speakers and English-speakers (that is, by speaking the appropriate language to each), but going back and forth between Korean and English in the same sentence confuses me. Kevin, though, has mastered this skill.
Dinner with Charles and his lovely wife went quite well. Charles took many pics of the meal, so you might see some foodblogging on either or both of our sites.
Of note was the disastrous start of the meal, which I credit to my own indecisiveness: right up to the last moment, I wasn't sure what, exactly, I would be making as an appetizer. I had thought to make some sort of crispy chicken concoction, but what I ended up with was a half-assed fondue bourguignonne. In true journalistic fashion, Charles snapped pictures of both triumph and tragedy. The good thing was that the tragedy came at the beginning and was limited to the appetizer. The fettuccine alfredo (with shrimp), the salad, and the dessert all went well. We ended up stuffed to the gills.
Check out Charles's latest "sub2k" fiction piece, "Waking Up."
You'll just have to watch this space for updates, because I'm in the midst of preparations for tonight's dinner with friends, but in the meantime, check this out:
Religious Pluralism and Islam
The above article, fresh off the press (well, not really: the lecture was in 2005, but the article appeared on the website just yesterday), is by my academic and religious hero John Hick, known to some folks in the interreligious dialogue business as "The Thinking Man's Spong." Where John Shelby Spong is a firebrand and all-around uncivil liberal Christian, Hick is a thinking liberal whose classic formulation of "the pluralistic hypothesis" remains in play today, despite massive critique. Many of my early blog posts were devoted to an exploration of Hick and his rivals.
Readers of this blog will note that the above-linked article doesn't really say much that's new, except in one crucial area: Hick now strikes out against the cynical accusation that religious pluralism is an artifact of Western liberal academe (and therefore somehow, by implication, unworthy of consideration). This move is new to me: before this, Hick has responded to such criticism (if "criticism" is the proper term for a commission of the genetic fallacy) by shrugging and observing that pluralism, as a systematic point of view, would have to have arisen somewhere. It's good to see the old guy come out swingin'.
The article also contains some points I disagree with; a critical review of Hick's piece will come later.
Meanwhile, enjoy. And Happy Saint Pat's.
Newly-minted sramanerika Soen Joon (a.k.a. Andi) writes in response to a comment on a recent post of hers that she'll never be fully assimilated in Korean society no matter how hard she tries-- this being in contrast to American assimilationism, where different cultures and ethnicities get woven into the overall fabric. Her response is a touching read (full disclosure: it's positive in tone, and about more than just the assimilation issue), but I wanted to focus on this particular part of it:
I'll probably still get stares and eager, if a tad aggressive, questions about my choice to come to Korea (and now, to become Sunim).
My experience with taxi drivers in Seoul has been, I would guess, about 99% positive. Of the hundreds-- or maybe thousands?-- of times I've taken a taxi in this city, I can count the number of negative incidents on both hands. Taxi drivers here are generally friendly and get you where you need to go. They're also, in my experience, an honest lot, just trying to get through the day like the rest of us.
That's probably why it sucks all the more when taxi drivers act like assholes: because it's so rare. Tonight, somewhat pressed for time, I took a taxi to Lotte Mart. The driver was fine; I even paid him a bit extra to apologize for the shortness of the trip (all of thirty seconds).
On the way back, however, I had trouble getting a taxi from the front of Seoul Station, where there are two parallel access lanes and plenty of taxis, especially at night. The cabbies in both access lanes kept sending me over to the opposite lane; no one seemed to want to take my fare. I bounced back and forth between three taxis before I finally got pissed off and told the fourth guy, "No-- I'm getting in this taxi."
The guy whined the entire time about how I was supposed to get a taxi from the other access lane. Then, when I showed him the shortcut route to my dorm, which leads up a steep hill, the guy had the nerve to complain about how steep the hill was. I told him I've been up this hill with plenty of other drivers, and stopped just short of telling him to shut the fuck up.
The whole bouncing-back-and-forth thing took only about two minutes of my life, but it left me miffed. Son-nim-i wang i-da! The customer is king! (i.e., "The customer is always right.") That sort of treatment has never happened to me in front of Seoul Station before. With the sheer number of taxis I usually find there, it's a simple matter of walking up to a cabbie, looking for his curt nod, then getting in the car. What the fuck was up tonight? Is there some new taxi-entering rule I'm unaware of? Had I just been lucky all those previous times?
On the upside, tonight was the first time I uttered a stream of angry (if mistake-ridden) Korean. It was a good chance for me to practice voicing my pissed-offedness in a language other than English or French. I think I'll give myself a "C+" for my effort, and an "A" for avoiding swear words.
I've been warning my students about an American tradition associated with St. Patrick's Day: if you're not wearing green on the 17th, you get a pinch. We'll see how many students show up tomorrow wearing something green.
Tomorrow evening, Charles of Liminality and his wife Hyun-jin will be coming over for a Saint Patty's dinner. The menu:
Appetizer: freshly fried chicken fingers and vegetables with spicy dipping sauce
to be followed by...
Main Course: Kevin's by-now-patented shrimp fettucine alfredo, with garlic bread accompaniment
to be followed in turn by...
Salad: Kevin's quasi-Mediterranean concoction
to be concluded by...
Dessert: fresh fruit (courtesy of Charles and his better half), along with Nigella's egg-free chocolate mousse-- something I've never inflicted on anyone else before
Either Charles or I (or perhaps both of us) will be taking pictures during the meal. Perhaps new, coat-less crucifixion postures can be conjured up so that Jesus and the Penitent Criminal can reflect the changing season. Of course, if Charles ever decides to shave off his facial hair, we'll be in big trouble. I've never liked ancient depictions of a clean-shaven Jesus. Not enough of a heavy metal vibe in those images.
CHAPTER 1: BUKHAN-SAN
The indomitable Sperwer and I spent five hours on Bukhan-san (North Han Mountain, not North Korea Mountain) this past Sunday. Our purpose was to hike up the mountain and then across it, eventually ending up at Hwagye-sa in time for 1PM ch'am-seon (zazen). We started our walk next to the blasted husk of the P'yeongch'ang-dong Olympia Hotel, and quickly left most of civilization behind.
This being a Sunday, it was inevitable that we would run into mountain gnomes. Our first encounter with such a gnome happened at a ticket booth located next to one of Bukhan-san's many trailheads. We asked the old (and friendly) gnome in the booth about how best to walk from where we were to Hwagye-sa; he offered us a hand-drawn sketch of the path to come, along with approximate times for getting there. With that, we started up our chosen path. Only a few yards after the trailhead, we had a taste of interreligious encounter in action: Christian graffiti on a Buddhist rock.
Behold the saving power of Jesus:
No, it won't be a Western-style R. Daneel Olivaw, Isaac Asimov fans: it appears that East Asia is taking the lead when it comes to indulging the human urge to anthropomorphize. A recent article notes that Japanese scientists are developing a humanoid caretaker robot that will act as a custodian for the elderly.
To my mind, it's a short leap from "humanoid caretaker for the elderly" to...
RoboMiddleSchoolGirl: Humanoid Caretaker for Your Diddle!
I imagine that sex with a robot would be a glorified version of sex with an inflatable doll. It would include many of the same risks, too. For example: disease. While a robot might be inorganic, its crevices could easily contain emissions from previous customers, a cybernetic analog to "sloppy seconds."
Some risks would be unique to robot sex. Example: for anyone with castration anxiety, the principal worry would be a misfire of the female robot's orgasm algorithm. Imagine a robo-cooter clamping down on your johnson with the force of a trash compactor. Another worry would be accidental rippage because of an electrical surge during a handjob. Or a robot whose brain confuses "stroke" with "punch."
I wish the Japanese luck as they continue their improvements. The bots they will eventually design to take care of elderly Americans (the tech will be developed just in time to wipe the asses of senescent Baby Boomers) will doubtless have to be able to handle 600-pound people on a routine basis. They'll also have to be capable of defending themselves against graffiti artists and other pranksters, not to mention old folks who manifest violent tendencies and hide guns all over the house.
I'll be curious to see how all this pans out in the coming decades, especially as I near the age where I, too, will need my own inhuman caretaker. (Currently, such caretakers are referred to as "children.")
Bloggers seem to be talking about two things right now: (1) the US's defeat at the hands of South Korea in baseball, and (2) the defection of Isaac Hayes (the voice of Chef) from the beloved "South Park" series.
I don't have much to say about (1) except "Congratulations, South Korea!" Like the Nomad and others, I do have to wonder why we pay our professionals the big bucks if they only plan to slurp donkey dick at crucial moments. Not having seen any of the games myself, I'll just have to trust the bloggers who say that the Koreans played great ball. An American buddy of mine who's a big fan of Korean baseball must be beside himself with glee: this is a bit like David trouncing Goliath.
As for (2)... it appears that Isaac Hayes is a Scientologist, and he apparently wasn't happy about a recent "South Park" episode that raked Scientology over the coals. Bloggers are pointing out Hayes's hypocrisy in speaking out against such parodies only now, after the series has spent years mocking various forms of religious piety.
I agree that this is hypocritical of Hayes, but I should also point out that Hayes might not be acting under his own volition: Scientology is a scary beast that doesn't tolerate even the appearance of disloyalty. Hayes probably had little choice but to say what he said and bugger out. It's a bit sad, really: what the hell else has Hayes done in recent years that comes anywhere near the significance of his role as the hot-lovin', child-protectin' Chef? Where will he go now? He certainly doesn't have a future in envelope-pushing comedy.
You might argue that Hayes is a big boy who could simply renounce his religion (if my speculation about his being pressured to quit is correct). True, he is a big boy, but this wouldn't make quitting easy: it'd be a bit like renouncing one's allegiance to the Mafia, and might have similar consequences. So while I'm not impressed with Hayes's arguments for leaving, I do think there's more going on than meets the eye, and it's probably of a sinister nature, given the pile of reports about Scientology's inner workings. Hidden somewhere inside my scorn is a nugget of sympathy for the guy.
In the meantime, I think the creators of "South Park" summed it up well when they blasted Hayes:
"South Park" co-creator Matt Stone responded sharply in an interview with The Associated Press Monday, saying, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."
A big hug to Andi of One Robe, One Bowl, who has successfully completed her haeng-ja (postulancy) training and has been ordained a samini-sunim (novice nun, Skt. sramanerika). Andi-- now Soen Joon-- is on her way to full nunhood.
By the way, Andi, if you're reading this-- here's a passage from the end of CS Lewis's The Last Battle, the final book in his Narnia series, which I finished last week. It's a fictional vision of heaven. Lucy, the little girl from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, speaks first. With her is the Faun, Mr. Tumnus, also a character from the first book:
"I see," she said at last, thoughtfully. "I see now. This garden is like the Stable. It is far bigger inside than it was outside."
"Of course, Daughter of Eve," said the Faun. "The further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside."
Lucy looked hard at the garden and saw that it was not really a garden at all, but a whole world, with its own rivers and woods and sea and mountains. But they were not strange: she knew them all.
"I see," she said. "This is still Narnia, and more real and more beautiful than the Narnia down below, just as it was more beautiful than the Narnia outside the Stable door! I see... world within world, Narnia within Narnia..."
"Yes," said Mr Tumnus, "like an onion: except that as you go in and in, each circle is larger than the last."
A full reprint of a Breitbart.com article (found here, via Drudge):
Hecklers harass families of US soldiers killed in Iraq
Mar 12 7:21 AM US/Eastern
Five women sang and danced as they held up signs saying "thank God for dead soldiers" at the funeral of an army sergeant who was killed by an Iraqi bomb.
For them, it was the perfect way to spread God's word: America was being punished for tolerating homosexuality.
For the hundreds of flag waving bikers who came to this small town in Michigan Saturday to shield the soldier's family, it was disgusting.
"That could be me in that church," said Jackie Sandler whose son Keith is currently serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.
The fringe group of fire and brimstone Baptists from Kansas has been courting controversy for more than 15 years, traveling the country with their hateful signs and slogans.
The Westboro Baptist Church first gained national notoriety when they picked the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming student who was murdered in 1998 for being gay.
They have since picketed the funerals of Frank Sinatra and Bill Clinton's mother, celebrated the terrorist attacks of September 11 as an act of God's wrath, and have even targeted Santa Claus and the Ku Klux Klan.
But it was the callousness and cruelty of harassing the grieving families of soldiers at dozens of funerals across the country that has sparked a grassroots movement of bikers determined to drown out the jeers and taunts.
In Flushing, Michigan they turned their leather-clad backs to the five women and held flags and tarps up so that mourners walking past wouldn't see the signs saying "God hates fags," "fag vets" and "America is doomed."
Many found it hard to hide their anger when Margie Phelps, the daughter of Westboro's founder, called out "All this for little old us? Oh, you shouldn't have. I feel so special," before she started singing "the Pope, the Pope, the Pope is on fire. He don't get no water let the heretics burn" in front of a Catholic church.
The glee with which the women hurled insults made John Franklin, 64, sick to his stomach.
"This guy's family deserves a peaceful funeral. It's not right what they're doing," said Franklin, who fought in the Vietnam War. "The only reason they're able to walk around like that is because the veterans fought for their freedom."
While Westboro's congregation remains stable at around 100 people - most of whom are the extended family of founder Fred Phelps - the ranks of the Patriot Guard Riders has swelled to more than 16,000 in just a few months.
The protests come at a time when many Americans think the war in Iraq was a mistake but are anxious to show their support for the troops.
Four states have enacted legislation barring protests at funerals and a dozen more are in the process of introducing bans. But it is unlikely that the bans will stand up to legal challenge.
The group is careful to protest in public spaces and is well aware of its constitutional rights - 11 of Phelps' 13 children are lawyers.
"This nation is poised to trash the first amendment just to stop my preaching," Fred Phelps said in a telephone interview. "I'm kind of honored."
Phelps said he and his congregants are targeting the funerals because God's way of punishing an "evil nation" of "fags and fag enablers" is to "pick off its children."
"I don't have any sympathy for these parents. They're all going to hell," Phelps said. "The family's in pain because they haven't obeyed the Lord God."
The group is so outrageous that some among the extreme-right have speculated that Phelps is a plant aimed at giving the anti-gay movement a bad name, said Mark Potok, the director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks hate crimes.
"I don't think they have any constituency beyond their own members - even the Nazis aren't interested," he said.
Phelps' virulence and frequently graphic condemnations of anal sex could mask a deeper issue than a radically literal interpretation of the Bible, Potok speculated.
"This man probably thinks more about gay sex than any other person in the United States of America and one can only guess at what that means," he said. "Many of the most homophobic people are deeply afraid that they might be gay."
OK, admit it: this is one of those times when you desperately wished there was a hell, and that it involved anal violation by demons wearing porcupine skins for condoms.
I'm sick of seeing the above sentence appended to short-short Wikipedia articles. The honeymoon is over, I think: my warm fuzzies for Wikipedia have pretty much faded. The notion of an open-source encyclopedia sounds nice on the surface, but you can't take Wikipedia seriously as a resource for, say, research papers.
So it comes to this: Wikipedia, while interesting to look at, doesn't do it for me anymore. I find myself acting like an unfaithful spouse, visiting other encyclopedias when I need hard information instead of dealing with Wikipedia's over-the-top "edit wars." Who needs that neurotic shit?
Wikipedia. The en-psycho-pedia.
Wikipedia is a frustrating spouse. She won't go down on me. She won't do anal. She keeps insisting that I shave my armpit hair and trim my pubes. She won't let me tongue her navel, and she insists she was born with hypersensitive nipples. It's too much. If she's gonna be like that... this marriage can't last.
Now, to the point: the title of today's blog post-- based on the idea that a stub is a short article soon to be replaced by a longer, more substantive one-- simply means WATCH THIS SPACE, because I've got a decent story to tell, and I'm hoping to tell it with pictures.
Just a teaser: The story starts off with Kevin up at 5:30AM on Sunday after getting only two hours' sleep. We then switch to a nearly five-hour trek along the windy, freezing ridge of Bukhan-san. Then-- SMASH CUT to Hwagye-sa INTERIOR, where Kevin and Sperwer (who led the hike and proved to be a tough bastard) have traded constant trudging along the mountaintop ridge for sitting stock-still in the zendo. The latter for the standard 90 minutes.
More later. Stay tuned.
I have high hopes for this site:
Seins du Monde (Breasts of the World)
Franck writes, in his blog's very first, typo-ridden post (I'll be charitable and attribute his typos to excitement, but in truth, many French folks these days can't spell worth a damn):
Voilà, je me lance. Le but de ce blog, est re répertorier les seins de toutes les femmes du monde. Ho, non pas des célébrité, car celle-ci sont accessible trop facilement, il suffit de regarder la télévision ou aller au ciné pour apercevoir ces petits appendices si beaux.
Mon idée est tout autre,
Blogger des poitrines de parfaite inconnue, qui si elles le souhaitent m'enverraient leurs photos. Vous l'aurrez compris je vénère les seins, petits, gros moyens, refait, je les aimes tous. Ce site est la pour faire une place aux poitrine de femme, petit mamelon, gros téton, vous êtes tous les bienvenues
Si le coeur vous en dit, n'hésitez pas à m'envoyer vos photos firstname.lastname@example.org
A bientôt je l'espère
And here I go. The goal of this blog is to report on the breasts of all the women in the world. Oho, not those of celebrities, because those are too easily accessible: all you have to do is watch TV or go to the movies to catch those beautiful appendages.
No, my idea is totally different: to blog the breasts of perfect strangers who, if they wish it, will send me their photos. You've probably guessed that I worship breasts-- small, plump, average, redone-- I love them all. This site is here to make a place for the female chest: little mammaries, fat teats, you are all welcome!
If you find yourself moved to do so, don't hesitate to send me your photos!
See you soon, I hope.