Monday, December 11, 2017

another day off

Today, Monday, ended up being a day off as a way to burn off a few comp hours. I had 88 hours to burn; I'll be burning most of those hours for my Christmas vacation, but today, I burned off the eight hours I had accrued from working this past Saturday. I went shopping for muffuletta ingredients, but as it turns out, the usual places are no longer stocking the ingredients I need to make a true muffuletta: I can't find muffuletta bread anywhere; the local Costco no longer has provolone or sliced Emmenthal (neither does High Street Market), and the spreads I'll be using on the sandwich aren't true to a real muffuletta, which normally has only "olive salad" on it. I'll be using pesto on one slice of bread and olive tapenade on the other. So, no: this is by no means a true muffuletta (a sandwich named after the bread it's made with), so I'm dropping the term and just calling this a twist on a deli sandwich. It's still going to be damn good, but it just won't be The Real Thing.

Photos to follow, I'm sure.



"Jurassic World": review

"Jurassic World" (2015) stars Bryce Dallas Howard (daughter of Ron), Chris Pratt, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy (a French actor whose English was better than I thought it would be), BD Wong, and Irrfan Khan. The movie is based on the world's stupidest premise, which was apparently put forth as a suggestion by Steven Spielberg: what if Jurassic Park failed in the 1990s, but a functional dinosaur park/preserve arose in its place? For this premise to work, everyone within the Jurassic Park universe would have to have amnesia about the moral and practical lessons learned during the events of Crichton's two novels, Jurassic Park and The Lost World. But if you're willing to put that tiny issue aside, "Jurassic World" is a fun, often-hilarious thrill ride that trades depth for spectacle.

Claire Dearing (Howard) is an upper-level manager of Jurassic World, the megapark on Isla Nublar (where "Jurassic Park" first took place). She's all business, and when her two young nephews, Gray and Zach (Simpkins and Robinson), come to visit, she doesn't have any time to spare for them, so she hands their care over to her exasperated British assistant, Zara (Katie McGrath). Elsewhere on the island, Navy veteran Owen Grady (Pratt) is training deadly, irascible velociraptors to obey commands while InGen representative Vic Hoskins (D'Onofrio) looks on avidly and talks about weaponizing the animals. Owen and his assistant Barry (Sy) have developed something of a rapport with the current clutch of raptors; both of them know that Hoskins's idea will never work.

This is about all the setup you need. From here on in, you can predict how the rest of the movie will unfold. For example: because this is a Jurassic Park film, all hell is going to break loose, and humanity will once again be taught the lesson that nature is brutal and clever and quite beyond human control. You can also predict that Owen is going to run into Claire, which will lead to a romantic storyline. The two grownups will inevitably meet up with the two kids, but not before the kids are put in mortal danger in a repeat of the original T. rex attack from the first movie—but this time involving a genetically engineered Indominus rex, a freakish hybrid spliced together from the genes of all sorts of dinosaurs, making it into a killing machine that can change color to camouflage itself, mask its own heat signature from infrared surveillance, fool humans with diversions, and worst of all, gain the allegiance of the heretofore loyal-to-Owen velociraptors. People will die, but mostly the bad ones. One or two good folks will bite it, and plenty of unnamed extras will also perish.

Pratt, Howard, and the other leads are all good in their roles. Irrfan Khan, in particular, finally looks as if he's having fun in his role: the man normally plays sad, somber characters. The director, Colin Trevorrow, helms the film in an essentially Spielbergian manner (Spielberg was a producer), and the result is a light-hearted movie with a few attempts at jump scares (all predictable) but otherwise very little in the way of suspense. The dino effects are great but somewhat bland, given how chary the movie is of showing actual gore (quite unlike Crichton's novels; had Spielberg been more faithful to the books, the films would all have been labeled horror movies).

I found the film watchable and fun, but its lack of substance made it less of a rib-sticking stew and more like cotton candy: there and gone. The themes and issues explored in "Jurassic World"—human arrogance in the face of nature—haven't changed since the 1993 film, so there's nothing new here, except maybe for the idea that velociraptors and tyrannosaurs have the potential to be cute. I will, however, applaud the fact that this movie is smart enough to have a ready response to complaints that the dinosaurs don't look realistic: geneticist Dr. Wu (Wong) tells park CEO Simon Masrani (Khan) that all of the creatures on the island have been genetically engineered, with frog DNA filling in whatever gaps there are in their genome. Not a single dino is a true-to-life recreation. The movie gets points for making that clear. Meanwhile, probably the best dynamic in the whole movie is the evolving relationship between big, bad Owen and the boys: at one point, when Owen is tearing off into the jungle with his pack of raptors, one of the boys turns to Claire and intones respectfully, "Your boyfriend is a badass." Claire smiles quietly, not denying that Owen is her boyfriend.

So, yes: watch "Jurassic World" and have fun, but don't think too hard about the movie's fundamentally flawed premise, which is the equivalent of a prison warden saying, "You know what? Those cells are too confining! Let's open 'em up and keep 'em open!"—then, twenty-some years later, doing exactly the same thing.



'tis the season

bullshit is the world we live in

The latest attempt by CNN and the mainstream media to dethrone the current president has once again met with disaster. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit:

GLENN GREENWALD: The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened. “Friday was one of the most embarrassing days for the U.S. media in quite a long time. The humiliation orgy was kicked off by CNN, with MSNBC and CBS close behind, with countless pundits, commentators and operatives joining the party throughout the day. By the end of the day, it was clear that several of the nation’s largest and most influential news outlets had spread an explosive but completely false news story to millions of people, while refusing to provide any explanation of how it happened.”

In attempting to “denormalize” Trump, they’ve denormalized themselves. If they simply reported fairly and accurately, without their screamingly obvious bias, they’d be able to do him much more damage. But they can’t help themselves.

"They can't help themselves" is pretty much the royal road for Trump to a 2020 electoral victory. No lessons learned, no soul-searching, nothing—nothing but seething, irrational hatred, and an apparent desire for a civil war that, if it ever became a real, physical war, the left can never win. Why? Because the right bought up all the guns!

And in other bullshit-related news: London's top-rated restaurant on Trip Advisor doesn't exist. This has to be one of the most hilarious punkings I've read about in a long, long time. Oobah Butler, a serial online prankster, creates a fictional restaurant and shows how it's possible to flim-flam one's way to the top:

“One day, sitting in the shed I live in, I had a revelation: within the current climate of misinformation, and society’s willingness to believe absolute bulls–t, maybe a fake restaurant is possible? Maybe it’s exactly the kind of place that could be a hit?”

“In that moment, it became my mission. With the help of fake reviews, mystique, and nonsense, I was going to do it: turn my shed into London’s top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor.”

"Society's willingness to believe in absolute bullshit" is precisely today's news organizations' stock in trade.

Over on YouTube, Styxhexenhammer666 rhetorically asks how it can be that the media constantly shovel us fake news, then wonder why we viewers have trust issues. On a related note: "Big Media Is Circling the Bowl." I'm not convinced that Big Media will die anytime soon, but it's certainly taking hits below the waterline, especially from alt media.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

I'm surprised this is a Ted Rall cartoon

Courtesy of King Baeksu via email:


What could be Rall's motivation for drawing this toon? The man is a diehard leftie. Is Rall a BernieBro? Is that what this is about? "In December 2016, Rall presented what he called a 'manifesto' to 'topple Trumpism.'" (Here.)



Ave, Ed Driscoll!

Bloggers in my ambit, and now biggies like Instapundit, are commenting on the Orwellian "unpersoning" of author and raconteur Garrison Keillor, one of the most recent liberal éminences grises to be accused of sexual harassment. I normally don't like the typo-ridden Instapundit posts written by the fumble-fingered Ed Driscoll, but Driscoll's latest post on Keillor's disappearance as an online presence on the website of Minnesota Public Radio is a good one to read, especially as it mulls over the long-held rightie belief that the left has totalitarian leanings (see first link, above, for more on this topic).



seen on the way home






Saturday, December 09, 2017

my buddy sings

At my Korean buddy JW's invitation, I attended a winter concert put on by a men's choir of which JW is a member. Here are a few photos of JW's solo and the concert's aftermath. I walked home in the 20-some-degree freezing cold after the event; that took about 90 minutes.

It was a great little concert at Cheongdam Catholic Cathedral, which is also JW's church. I don't recall the name of the song my friend sang, but JW said the group would be posting everything online (I'd have had this info if only I had grabbed a program).

Sorry for the blurry images. My cell-phone camera is temperamental, and while I hate to admit it, I generally suck as a photographer.

Let's start with the poster that JW texted me as an invitation:


Below is the only photo I really wanted to take: JW doing his solo. He said, afterward, that he was really nervous; I told him I didn't blame him, as I've performed for church audiences myself (drama, not music, in my case, as well as myriad other instances of public speaking).


I sat in the pews with JW's parents, as well as with his daughter MJ, who was being doted on by her grandmother. MJ didn't recognize me at first, which I found hilarious. She's a forgetful kid: last Christmas, she whispered a question to her mother: "How does Kevin know how to speak Korean?" I loudly and humorously boomed to MJ that that was the exact same question she had asked the previous year. In one ear, out the other. Anyway, by the end of the evening, MJ had remembered who I was—the guy who had gifted her with a pile of Christmas gifts like Barbie dolls and fun kids' games. To be fair, the girl sees me only once or twice a year; at best, I'm a vague, peripheral, almost-not-a-presence in her life.

Below, a glimpse of religious symbolism. JW's dad humorously wondered aloud as to why the cathedral felt the need to have a wall with two crosses on it. (Technically, and more specifically, one is a crucifix because it has a corpus.)


A blurry shot of the fam:


Next up, a not-so-blurry shot (taken by JW's wife) of the fam plus yours truly. JW's mother, who hadn't seen me in years, said I looked good. I patted my stomach and said, "Still fat," and she replied, "But not so much." I like JW's mother a lot. She used to be a professor of English at Sookmyung Women's University, where I taught from 2005 to 2008. Back in the day, when we all talked more frequently, she would pepper me with questions about how to interpret this or that poem, or how to approach such-and-such work of literature. I found this intimidating because she obviously knew a hell of a lot more about my own culture's literature than I did.


Choir, clergy, and the retinue:


JW, far right with flowers, looking stiff as a soldier for some odd reason:


It was nice to get out of the office and do something cultural for a change. The cathedral was redolent with the stereotypical incense that pervades most Catholic churches. I had fun looking at the statues in the niches, as well as at the Stations of the Cross (only fourteen in this church, not fifteen). I'm not a very "churchy" person, especially since my own mother's passing, but I do occasionally enjoy and appreciate the ambiance one encounters when inside the bounds of a holy place.

JW didn't walk out with his family: he said he needed to hang back with the other singers and help clean the place up. I walked out with the grandparents and JW's wife and kids. We talked about the upcoming Star Wars film, which JW's son JA is looking forward to seeing with me. I then checked my phone to see which direction I needed to walk in, and we all parted company in the below-freezing night. It was a bracingly cold but good walk back to my apartment. When I got back, I saw that JW's wife had texted me: "Where are you? Still walking??"; I had promised to send her my pics via text, so I did that. I also noted with satisfaction that my walk had taken me slightly over the 20K-step threshold on my pedometer, so that was another little bit of good karma.

A fine time, all in all. Such things need to happen more often.



Friday, December 08, 2017

ugh. work.

The last few weeks have been a nightmare of work, work, work. Last night and the night before, I was in the office until 1AM and beyond, so I'm fairly cross-eyed at the moment. In terms of workload, things ought to clear up around Christmastime, but if the gods of weather are merciful, I'll be doing a round-trip walk to Incheon and back from December 26 to 29, so once again, I won't have the mental or physical energy I need to engage in other projects, e.g., reading through a good friend's manuscript (which I've neglected for several months, now—this friend has the patience of a saint).

Anyway, I've piled up 80 comp hours thanks to all the late nights and weekends; the boss, getting antsy about my having so many comp hours, has declared he'll put me in for thirty hours' overtime pay (which won't be much: maybe W25,000 per hour, which is insultingly low; in Korea, overtime pay isn't time-and-a-half the way it is in the States, but I guess something is better than nothing), then he'll be letting me take the week between Christmas and New Year's off, plus the Monday of January 1 itself. That's another 48 hours' comp time accounted for: 78 hours total, which eats up most of my outstanding comp time.

The schedule that our R&D department has been put on has been fairly grueling since October. The idea was to complete several dozen(!) projects by early December, doing the bulk of the work in October and November. This is therefore crunch time, so everyone's putting in extra hours, even the laziest workers among us who are normally out like a shot at exactly 5PM. When we had a meeting a couple months back, the boss laid out the grand plan through summer of next year, and it appears that this project/deadline pressure won't be letting up for the next six or seven months. We'll be crunching during the Jan-Feb period, with projects due in March; we'll be crunching again during the Apr-May period, with projects due in June.

My personal workload for early next year is going to be double my current workload (twice the number of projects), and there are a few projects that might be added to the docket if the higher-ups give us the go-ahead. So we're all swamped, and it's going to be like this until June 2018, if not beyond. Not much time for personal projects, and plenty of lost weekends. Yeah... it's quite likely that I won't be signing on for another year at the Golden Goose, which has been somewhat golden in terms of pay, but not in terms of much else.



PJW vs. Meryl Streep (and more on James Levine)

I think Meryl Streep is a terrific actress, unlike PJW, who uncharitably calls her "overrated" in his latest rant. That said, I think PJW validly points out Streep's current hypocrisy.


While we're on the topic of sexual assault: my brother Sean emailed me an anecdote regarding accused New York Met conductor James Levine, about whom I recently blogged. Sean writes (somewhat redacted for privacy's sake and edited for form and flow):

An anecdote posted by an older musician friend about Levine:

So my wife Susan's friend and fellow member of the [redacted: orchestra name], a bassoonist named [redacted: bassoonist's name], passed away a few years ago, to everyone's great sadness, as he was a wonderful musician, incredibly funny, and a fine human to be around. He [once told me] a story of being backstage at Carnegie Hall as a student, and Bernstein and Levine were both conducting an orchestra in which he was playing. Apparently, [the bassoonist] was backstage watching the proceedings, waiting for his particular piece, and [he] was approached by both Levine, who was about to go onstage, and Bernstein, who was waiting his turn. When Levine went onstage, Bernstein turned to [the bassoonist] and said, "To err is human—to post bail, Levine."

It sounds as though Levine, like many of the predatory people now cringing in the public spotlight, has been a known quantity for a long time. How unfortunate.



Thursday, December 07, 2017

Pepple, Pepple, and more Pepple

Avowed leftist Dr. John Pepple, curator of I Want a New Left, a blog that is critical of where American leftism has gone in recent decades, has written a few posts of late that deserve linkage. Here's a short list of the professor's latest.

An Interesting Quote on the Millennials

Trump’s Alleged Insanity

Hey, Democrats, You Can Always Move To Canada, But Where Can I Move?

About that third link: people on both the left and the right have loudly claimed that they'd renounce their citizenship and abandon America if X ever became president. As Pepple notes, these people almost never make good on their threats, although Pepple does link to an article in which it's claimed that quite a few people renounced their US citizenship when Obama came into power. I've always found the threat to leave one's country to be a cowardly one. Stay and fight, I say: if you and your spouse had a nasty spat, would you just walk out on your marriage and family? How stupid would that be? I have to chuckle, too, at the idea that, when people threaten to leave, they name destinations like Canada, France, and Australia—never places like Somalia or Honduras—or even nearby Cuba, that worker's paradise. The subtext is that, even if the people threatening to move have certain political leanings, their desired destinations reveal prejudices to which they'd never admit. So: cowardly and prejudiced!

And you know what? Now that I think of it, maybe it is better for such people to leave my country. Good fucking riddance.



geekery mashup

If you liked "Kung Fury," you'll enjoy "Battle of the Geeks."



Wednesday, December 06, 2017

what I think about when I'm hungry

Below: partway through the making of a huge batch of shrimp fried rice.






Tuesday, December 05, 2017

how deep does the rot go? (an exchange with my brother)

I was bowled over, yesterday, when I learned that conductor James Levine, who heads up the New York Met and is a fixture from my childhood, has become the latest to stand accused of sexual harassment and/or assault. My brother Sean is a professional cellist, so I immediately wrote him to ask how bad this problem is in the music world. Below, I'm publishing both the email I sent Sean and Sean's reply.



[my email to Sean]

Sean!

The name "James Levine" has been a fixture since my childhood, and it now appears he's the latest to be accused in the current wave of sexual-harassment allegations that are sweeping the country and the world. This would be funny if it weren't horrific.

I just about shat my pants when I saw that headline. James Fucking Levine!

So, a question: it doesn't surprise me at all that this sort of rape-iness has been a part of Hollywood culture since forever (viz. the "casting couch")... but how deep does the rot go in the music world? Is it anything like Hollywood in extremity?



[Sean's reply to me]

Yes, I've heard about this and have heard whispering about him and his disgusting habits for years. I've never actually met the guy personally.

I don't think that this kind of rape-iness is restricted to Hollywood, or the music world, or politics for that matter. I think the rot goes deep in all worlds.

Being a gay man often times means being a confidant to women in a unique sort of way. We're not threatening to women because there's absolutely zero sexual dynamic to our relationships, and we're also not women who may scrutinize or judge. Because of this special status to women, I (and most of my gay male friends) have been told many stories over the years of these experiences of sexual harassment from female friends in all fields. It seems to me that performing arts and politics are highly visible fields when compared to something like accountants, or other typical office-type jobs, which may be why they're getting the most attention right now.

In any event, I'm happy to see this kind of thing come to light, and I'm glad that some of these disgusting predators are getting their long-overdue skewering.



So there you have it. I think it's fair to point out that some fields are more visible/prominent than others, but that the rot extends to all fields. This dovetails with what I wrote earlier regarding how the problem is fundamentally one of maleness and authority (although, as I also mentioned, women are perfectly capable of abusing their authority, too).



Monday, December 04, 2017

weight gain, weight loss

I'm actually afraid to weigh myself right now because I know I've ballooned several kilos over the past two-or-so weeks. For that reason, I'm seriously dieting starting this week, and continuing over the following two weeks for a total of three weeks' penitence. No solid food during this first week, and a serious reduction in carb intake in order to kick-start the weight loss. This is being paired up with a return to walking—a return that began last week, in fact. I'll be alternating walks out to the Han River with my standard, 14-staircase walk: MWF for the Han and TRSa for the staircases. (And on Sunday, like the Deity, I'll rest.)

By the time three weeks have gone by, I ought to be down to a saner weight and back up to where I had been, cardio-wise, about six weeks ago. My other reason for dieting and ratcheting up the physical activity is that I need to train for a possible walk, again to Incheon and back, during the week between Christmas and New Year's. I'll be on break from about December 23 to January 1, returning to the office on January 2. Christmas is on a Monday this year, so I'm planning to walk during the four-day, all-weekday span from December 26 to December 29 (Tuesday to Friday). That leaves me the weekend to rest up and to celebrate the new year.



Billy Bush: J'accuse—!

Billy Bush, whose infamous interview with Donald Trump gave us the audio of Trump using the "grab 'em by the pussy" phrase, comes out with a kind-of mea culpa and some passed-along accusations that Trump has himself been a serial harasser. Regarding the accusations that Bush passes along: he witnessed none of the incidents, but he considers the testimony believable, which is only fair, I guess: we currently live in an always-believe-the-accuser era, with "innocent until proven guilty" having gone out the window.

My own stance: if there's something actionable in what these women say, then by all means, may they go to town on Trump. But if this is a time-wasting nothingburger, expect blowback in some form, either with the airing of the latest hypocrisy or with actual rebound effects (as with hypocrisy here or with rebound effects here).

Bill Clinton seems to have the history of a predator several times over, and he's gotten away scot-free, despite an impeachment. For the sake of argument, if we assume Donald Trump is guilty of similar or worse sins, how realistic is it that his presidency will be taken down by a pile-on of accusations, especially with the GOP dominating both houses of Congress? I think Trump's removal is a bunch of leftie pipe-dreaming, and that we're in for at least one full term of Trump, if not two full terms. That's the realistic perspective, like it or not.



an article for our times

Nobody Wants to See Your Dick.

If you’re reading this, congratulations! Your hard work and dedication have paid off, and you’ve finally made it to the top of your respective field. You set a goal, you put your mind to it, and here you are, ready to take on anything that comes your way. Here’s to many years of continued success.

With that in mind, a quick reminder before we continue:

Nobody wants to see your dick.

My own pop-psych theory is that human behavior tends to be genital-shaped: male behavior, as per the phallus's form, is often intrusive, transgressive, penetrating, violating, and probing. There's an eager, forward-thrusting aspect to male behavior that appears early in childhood and, unless curbed and channeled by schooling in the ways of gentlemen, causes certain womenfolk* a degree of discomfort. Once channeled and properly disciplined, male urges can be of great benefit to society: witness rebel feminist Camille Paglia's claim that, if it were left up to women, no great structures would be built, and no untrammeled realms would ever be explored—no discovery of new lands, no reaching for the moon, etc.

Women, meanwhile, practice coyness, secretiveness, and indirection, as per the hidden folds and cavernous spaces of their genitalia.** They also follow the uterine dictates of care and nurture and protection. As with men, these urges can be directed to good or bad ends, and lest we think that it's only men who can be predatory and rapey, I recommend going to Instapundit and typing "TEACH WOMEN NOT TO" in the blog's search window. The search results will enlighten you—maybe even astound you.



*At the same time, a man who is content to remain a passive beta male is guaranteed never to find himself with a woman. Such passivity runs counter to the phallus-shaped, once-more-unto-the-breach nature of maleness.

**Have you ever tried to contact a woman a few times to no avail, and then, when you meet her and confront her with her unresponsiveness, she bats her lashes and innocently says, "Oh? You tried to contact me?" Coyness and indirection (lying) right there. Why? Because a woman's got to have her secrets. Classically vagina-shaped behavior. Of course, the savvy male knows that most women claim to desire more, rather than less, communication, so if a given woman is unresponsive, this is a titanic hint for the male to desist in his probing, insistent, penis-shaped behavior. Take the dick somewhere else.

UPDATE: from comedian Bob Kostic (@causticbob on Gab), the following gem:

A failsafe way to tell if a girl is over 30:
Ask her how old she is.
If she doesn't tell you, she's over 30.

Coyness and indirection. Vagina-shaped behavior.

(Under-30 women have different secrets to keep. Like weight and dating history.)



Sunday, December 03, 2017

seen on Gab

'Tis the season.






"The Last Jedi"—trailer spoof

Your chuckle for today, as found on YouTube:






Saturday, December 02, 2017

Ave, John!

While I'm stuck in this fucking office, trying to stay ahead of a crushing deadline, friend John McCrarey is out there earning his very first 50,000-steps-in-a-day badge. Go visit him and offer your congratulations. For John, that was a 7.4-hour walk. He weighs 208 pounds versus my 260-ish, so he didn't have to deal with blisters, the bastard. Anyway, this is a great achievement, and he deserves many pats on the back.



Friday, December 01, 2017

"Atomic Blonde": brief review

"Atomic Blonde" (2017) is directed by first-timer David Leitch and stars Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones, and Sofia Boutella. The film is an adaptation of a 2012 graphic novel titled The Coldest City; "Blonde" is a spy drama with elements cribbed from "John Wick," "The Bourne Identity," and "No Way Out." Most interestingly for me, the story takes place in November 1989, right at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall (I was at the Wall a week after the fall; there were shots of then-East Berlin in the film that conjured up decades-old memories). The plot, while convoluted in the way of most spy thrillers, is basically about an attempt by multiple agencies to retrieve a document known as The List, on which are the names of agents who are currently working in Berlin. The revelation of the names on The List could spell trouble on a global scale, so the Brits have sent their top agent, MI6's Lorraine Broughton (Theron), to enter the rat's nest of Berlin, meet a British contact named Percival (McAvoy), find The List, and keep it away from all other grasping hands. Things go sideways almost immediately as KGB agents immediately "make" Broughton, and soon it's more a matter of staying alive than of staying on mission.

I'm not sure what to think of "Atomic Blonde." It's apparently been well reviewed by many critics, but I found the dialogue too stilted, self-conscious, and writerly—a bit like listening to badly executed noir repartee. One of the producers for the film also worked on "John Wick," which may explain the gritty, bloody style of the fight choreography we see—choreography that didn't exactly grab me, I have to say, but this may be because the director was shooting for a certain level of realism. At first, I had thought I'd be in for an unrealistic, comic-book-style adventure, but the preview trailers for this movie were fairly misleading: Broughton gets pretty beaten up by the end; she's not an above-it-all, "Matrix"-style fighter. I also didn't think the story progressed all that coherently, but I did enjoy the amazing plot twist at the very end of the film, which came as a sort of double or even triple head-fake. If the rest of the movie leading up to that moment had been as fascinating, I would have truly enjoyed myself. As things stand, "Blonde" earns little more than a thumbs-sideways from me. If you decide to watch the movie, do it for the twisty-twist during the final ten or fifteen minutes.



US universities used to be the envy of the world...






the dragnet continues

Now among the newly accused of sexual harassment, another cluster of left-leaning moral scolds: we've got Garrison Keillor (that one was a shock), Matt Lauer (ironically, the guy instrumental in getting Trump's "grab 'em by the pussy" audio aired), and Teddy Davis (CNN producer who works with Jake Tapper).

I'm under no illusions that this current moral panic (to use Styx's term) will affect only the left, but for the moment, it does seem to be taking down mostly lefties, with the media doing its level best to highlight the occasional rightie (e.g., Roy Moore and Donald Trump) as a deflection. I don't care who gets taken down, left or right; a housecleaning of this sort has been long overdue, and the way I see it, what we're witnessing are the karmic fruits of mostly male abuse of power, fame, and authority. Fundamentally, yes, this strikes me as more of a male thing than a lefty thing, but if you're looking for an explanation for why so many liberals are currently being accused, look no further than Glenn Reynolds's theory:

As for where this [sexual-harassment furor] came from all of a sudden, I think the deliberate effort to weaponize female anger — before, and especially after, the 2016 election — had a lot to do with it. It was aimed at Trump, but since Trump seems immune, it discharged into whatever targets were available. And the targets around Democratic women are mostly Democratic men.

Speaking of "weaponized female anger," stay tuned for my review of "Atomic Blonde."



prognostications

Instapundit links to a Kurt Schlichter article humorously titled "Top Conservative Predictions for the Rest of 2017." To sum them up (slightly edited):

1. ROY MOORE WILL WIN (Confidence Factor: 80%)

2. THE DEMOCRATS, THE GOPe, AND THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA WILL NOT TAKE A PERSONAL INVENTORY AND THINK ABOUT THEIR ROLE IN ELECTING ROY MOORE. (Confidence Factor: 95%)

3. TAX REFORM WILL DIE IN THE SENATE (Confidence Factor: 70%)

[NB: this may already have been proven wrong. McCain is slated to vote for the reform this time around, which improves its chances of passing.]

4. CONGRESS WILL HAVE NO PROBLEM PASSING AMNESTY, I MEAN DREAMERS REFORM, YEAH, DREAMERS REFORM (Confidence Factor: 75%)

5. BEN SASSE WILL UTTER SOME HACK CLICHÉ AS HE VIRTUE-SIGNALS ABOUT SOMETHING (Confidence Factor: 95%)

6. SOME [AMBIGUOUS] OCCURRENCE WILL BE TAKEN AS PROOF POSITIVE MUELLER IS ABOUT TO ARREST EVERYONE IN THE WHITE HOUSE BUT THEN NOTHING WILL HAPPEN (Confidence Factor: 70%)

7. THE MEDIA WILL START RUNNING THINK PIECES ON HOW A LITTLE GROPING DOESN’T MEAN YOU AREN’T A [FEMINIST] (Confidence Factor: 77%)

8. TRUMP WILL TWEET ABOUT SOMETHING, AND THE LIBERALS AND WUSSY NEVER-TRUMPERS WILL FREAK OUT, AND WE CONSERVATIVES WILL LAUGH HYSTERICALLY (Confidence Factor: 100%)

If you're interested, go read the article to see the explanations behind each prediction. (I had to look up who Ben Sasse was, by the way. He's the junior senator from Nebraska.)



Thursday, November 30, 2017

yesterday's sin

Bruxie is a chicken-and-waffle joint that opened up in the B1 level of Jamshil's Lotte World Mall a few months ago. I had gone to the mall to look for small carabiners for my dying shoulder bag: the shoulder strap's metal hooks have both given out, forcing me to use flimsy key rings to keep the strap attached to the bag. Alas, the camping store that I had wanted to visit has disappeared completely from the mall's Lotte Mart, which meant that my trip out to Jamshil had been in vain. As a way to make up for that loss, I decided last night that it was finally time for me to visit the chicken-and-waffle place. What you see below is my messed-up order: I had ordered a cheddar-bacon plate, but what I got was the "original" plate.


I decided not to complain; the whole thing looked and smelled amazing. Texture-wise, the meal was absolutely perfect, and the waffle came with an immodestly sized pat (chunk, really) of maple-infused butter. The breast meat was juicy and easy to cut with a dullish knife, and the first few bites of my messed-up order were glorious.

Unfortunately, the meal fell down in terms of taste: there was an underlying salty bitterness that built up over each successive bite of chicken. The waffle was absolutely unimpeachable, but the chicken's coating became less and less palatable as I dug into it. I began to think it might be necessary to do what my mother used to do, i.e., pull the crust entirely off the meat and just eat the meat. But I persevered because, as I used to say to Mom, what's the point of eating fried chicken if you're going to remove the breading?

I may still go back to try the order I had originally intended to eat. It could be that the cheddar and bacon might offset the crust's taste in some way. The meal was excellent in most respects, but sadly came up short in the most crucial quality: taste.

Cost for the 3-piece option: W13,900. Pricey, but not horrifically so.

UPDATE: my coworker tells me that Bruxie is a chain in the States. Sure enough.



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

winter comfort food: the garbage plate


A recent Binging with Babish video shows our hero making something called a "garbage plate," which turns out to be tremendum et fascinans at the same time. (Food Wishes also has a decade-old garbage-plate exposé.) After watching a few more garbage-plate-related videos, I acquired enough knowledge to have a vague understanding of the meal's history and significance: the garbage plate (also known in some non-Rochesterian locales by an unofficial alternative moniker: the "trash plate") originated at Nick Tahou Hots restaurant in Rochester, New York, and continues to be a source of Rochester pride. The de rigueur components are crispy home fries, macaroni salad, meat sauce, and Zweigle's whites, which are a Weißwurst-style American hot dog. (There's also a hamburger-topped variant of the garbage plate, which feels a bit redundant given the ground beef in the meat sauce.) There's wiggle room when it comes to condiments: you can add onions, ketchup, mustard, relish, and a host of other components. Hot sauce is often considered a must; beans are often in attendance as well. The idea is to produce a heart-clogging mess of a meal that most moderate-sized human beings will be utterly unable to finish. That's part of the mystique, too: when you make a garbage plate, you never make it small. This is Amurrican junk food at its unabashed best.

Or worst.

Anyway, having now watched several garbage-plate videos on YouTube, I'm inspired to make my own, but I think I'm going to wait for the dead of winter, in January, to invite some friends over and have a go at this. The garbage plate falls squarely in the category of comfort food, but because you're supposed to be served so much of it, the food may end up being more a source of discomfort. No doubt my meal will be a horror show, but that's part of the fun.



on Trump and his "Pocahontas" gibe

Donald Trump has been going after Democrat senator Elizabeth Warren, who famously or infamously claimed Cherokee heritage some years back. Warren refuses to take a DNA test to confirm her heritage, and doubts have sprung up—proliferated, really—that her claims are untrue, thus earning her the mocking monikers of "Pocahontas" and "Fauxcahontas." While speaking at a ceremony honoring Navajo "wind talkers"—who used their native language as code for transmitting messages during World War II—Trump once again uttered the "Pocahontas" gibe in relation to Warren. The left-leaning media immediately went into a tizzy about this perceived faux pas, but perception is the operative concept here. At least two people of American Indian extraction have come out to say they found the president's remarks not the least bit offensive: WW2 veteran (and wind talker) Thomas Begay reportedly said, "The Marines made us yell 'Geronimo' when we jumped out of planes, and that didn't offend me, either." Then there's Debbie "White Dove" Porreco:

It turns out that an actual descendant of Pocahontas does not take any offense to President Donald Trump jokingly referring to Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas."

In a September interview with Sky News, Debbie "White Dove" Porreco said that Trump once asked her if it offended her that he used the name "Pocahontas" to refer to the Democratic senator.

"I know that he uses 'Pocahontas' sometimes with Elizabeth Warren," Porreco explained. "He said, 'Well, does that offend you when I use that?' And I told him no, it doesn't offend me."

And now, Elizabeth Warren could be in trouble for more alleged fakery: a family cookbook she claims as part of her heritage may actually have been cribbed from a Frenchman's cookbook. Read the sordid story here, keeping in mind that the Daily Mail is a notorious tabloid, so the story may need confirmation.



asked to tutor

My coworker and I were barely out the door of our building for the first of our two daily walks when we were accosted by a distinguished-looking Korean woman in a fur-lined coat who asked in Korean whether I was indeed Kevin. I said yes, and she launched into an explanation of how her department wanted to start up an English class for its staffers, and how she hoped that I could be the teacher. I told her that I was very busy these days, and that I didn't do private tutoring anymore (which is true: my only other side job is KMA in Yeouido). She immediately said, "Oh, no, no! This would be during work hours!" I found that to be presumptuous: she was basically asking whether she could just scoop me out of my department to do work for hers. At the same time, she was being clever: having me teach during work hours meant this would be work-related business, so there'd be no need to pay me anything extra; my salary would do. I told her I'd have to ask my boss, but that I personally didn't think this was going to happen. Because the lady's face wasn't ringing any bells, I asked her for her business card; she gave me one.

And that's how we parted ways. After I was done with the walk, I approached the boss and told him about the encounter, handing the lady's business card over to him. The boss recognized the department the lady worked for and reminded me that I had done proofreading work for her a couple months ago, even if I hadn't met her personally. He also made a face at the idea of working for this lady's department, and he told me to just leave the matter at that. As a result, I haven't called the lady back; I guess the idea is just to let the matter fade.



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

DC vs. Marvel: response to Charles

[NB: this is in answer to Charles's comment here. This began as a response in the comment thread, then became a blog post in its own right, which is why I'm publishing it in this form.]

It's no contest between "Justice League" and "Thor: Ragnarok." TR is so, so much better. It brings the trademark Marvel sense of fun, and it benefits from superior scriptwriting (even though both the MCU and the DCEU generally suffer from poorly written villains).

Before I say more, though, I should note here that I'm an absolute newbie when it comes to the world of comics lore and its fanboy following. I have a coworker who lives and breathes this stuff; he has an encyclopedic knowledge of American comics that extends back to their beginnings—knowledge not just of the stories themselves, but also of the writers and artists involved in their creation. I've told my coworker several times that he should make a YouTube channel devoted to comics-nerd commentary (along the lines of Emergency Awesome or New Rockstars), but I think he's too lazy to take me up on this.

With that as the preface, let's talk DC versus Marvel, keeping in mind that I'm still over 99% ignorant of the matter. The so-called "DCEU" (DC Extended Universe) era started up, I think, after Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, so even though Nolan's films are part of the DC brand, they're not part of the DCEU (see the list of DCEU films here). DCEU is the direct competitor with Marvel's MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), which had a head start on its stories, despite many of DC's stories being older in terms of dead-tree comics. (Example: Darkseid, one of DC's cosmic big bads, came before Marvel's Thanos, but because of the movies, the non-fanboy public has gotten to know Thanos first, so now Darkseid is going to seem like the copycat.)

The DCEU's other problem is that it's become closely associated with director Zack Snyder, who seems to have the opposite of the Midas touch when it comes to making anything other than "300." Snyder's films showcase his interesting stylistic sensibility, but aside from that aesthetic, the director doesn't seem to bring much else to the table. If he's not slavishly following someone else's (e.g., Frank Miller's) story template, he's prone to wandering into quagmires of his own making. "Sucker Punch," an enormous turd of a film, is an example of what happens when Snyder gets complete creative control: great imagery, suck-ass story. Partially following a template isn't much better: "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" is a good example of that. Like Nolan, Snyder borrows heavily from moments found in Frank Miller's graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, but he botches the execution in his reinterpretation. People also complained about "Man of Steel" for similar reasons, and they're making the same complaints about "Justice League." The nightmare continues.

Along comes Patty Jenkins, director of "Wonder Woman." Jenkins did much to rescue the DCEU brand, but "Justice League" has yanked the brand back down under the water (per the Hollywood wisdom: you're only as good as your most recent movie, so thanks to Snyder, DC is in the doghouse again). There's grumbling, in the movie/fanboy world, about having Jenkins take a more prominent place in making DCEU films while putting Snyder on the back burner. I'd be strongly in favor of this. Snyder may think of himself as a comics lover, but I don't think he actually respects the original material the way he should. There's a certain unimaginative literalism in his approach: he's rendering images, not interpreting stories for the screen. He's also as bad at writing dialogue as George Lucas is.

Marvel, meanwhile, has hinged its strategy on finding fresh, new directors who aren't globally known until they have the chance to direct a Marvel hit. Tim Miller is a perfect example: "Deadpool" was his first-ever major film, and he hit a home run. (A shame he's been sidelined and isn't directing "Deadpool 2.") Taika Waititi, who did "Thor: Ragnarok," had done small-scale comedies and dramas before Marvel snapped him up. As long as Marvel's studio keeps finding this level of talent (and this may be the only time you ever hear me praise studio execs for anything), they'll keep clobbering the DCEU.*

So all in all, I look forward to Marvel films, but I sort of cringe whenever I hear a new DC film is out. That said, hope springs eternal, so I'll keep spending money on DC films, even if I don't enjoy them nearly as much.



*Marvel works under several umbrellas, e.g., Disney Marvel, Fox Marvel, Sony Marvel, etc., and some branches of Marvel are far more successful than others. Fox Marvel, which controls the X-Men property, has been hit-or-miss with its X-men films ("Logan" and "Deadpool" are high points). Fox also controls the Fantastic Four property, and all three of those films (2005, 2007, 2015) have been abject misfires, so it's not true that all of Marvel is riding high.



"Justice League": two-paragraph review

2017's "Justice League" is directed by Zack Snyder and stars an ensemble cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, and Connie Nielsen. The movie's plot is fairly straightforward: an alien villain named Steppenwolf has boom-tubed* to Earth in the far-off past in an attempt to take over the planet. This attempt failed when a coalition of Amazons, Atlanteans, old gods (i.e., ancient Greek gods like Zeus and Ares), and humans beat Steppenwolf and his minions back, resulting in Steppenwolf's first-ever defeat. Now, in modern times, the angry alien giant has returned, and it's up to a league of superheroes to stop him. Batman (Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gadot) head up the league, looking to recruit others. They eventually sign on The Flash (Miller), Cyborg (Fisher), and Aquaman (Momoa). Steppenwolf, meanwhile, tries to steal and unite three "mother boxes" (DC's analogue to Marvel's "tesseract") in order to subjugate the earth and terraform our planet to look like his homeworld. Batman, having had a major change of heart about blue-suited Kryptonians, gets the harebrained idea of resurrecting Superman by using a mother box; the Flash and Aquaman both think this might be a bad idea, especially if Superman reawakens with no memory of who he is—or reawakens, as the Flash puts it, "Pet Sematary"-style, i.e., as an evil undead entity. It's no spoiler to note that Superman does eventually come back to life, and the entire Justice League does do battle against Steppenwolf and his legion of zombie-dragonfly parademons.

I found the film generally watchable, if disjointed in pace and tone. You may have heard the behind-the-scenes story of how director Zack Snyder's daughter committed suicide a year or so ago, thus forcing Snyder to leave the film, which was completed by Joss Whedon, who is best known for helming Marvel films like "The Avengers." The end result is a clash of styles and visions, and it shows: the humorous scenes belong to Whedon; the Roland Emmerich-style scenes—in which shit is blowing up—belong to Snyder. With so many characters, characterization itself becomes a problem, and figures like Aquaman and Cyborg are woefully underserved. Ezra Miller, however, stands out for his youthful vigor and comic chops: his Flash is one of the best things about the movie. Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman also deserves a shout-out for being the moral center of the league, and there's a hint of a Batman/Wonder Woman romance lurking in the shadows, reflecting an ancient, pancultural fascination with how some immortals take mortals as lovers. Steppenwolf is played by the always impressive Ciarán Hinds, but Hinds's voice and body are so thoroughly distorted by computer trickery that the villain registers as little more than a video-game character with no depth and no development. Hinds, a powerful and talented actor, is wasted in the role. Danny Elfman scores the film (as he did with "Avengers: Age of Ultron"), but aside from a brief evocation of the 1989 "Batman" theme, there's little memorable here. The movie's funniest moment comes when the Flash, in trying to circle around Superman, realizes with horror that Superman is fast enough to see the Flash and make eye contact with him. It's a brief but delicious moment. Alas, beats like that come only rarely, and while "Justice League" is watchable, I fear that its flaws don't make it re-watchable.



*A boom tube—the term comes from various DC comics—is basically a wormhole (more technically, a science-fiction-y sort of Einstein-Rosen bridge) that allows someone or something to teleport great distances. The recent "Thor: Ragnarok" featured its own version of a boom tube: the Devil's Anus on the trash planet of Sakaar.



Sunday, November 26, 2017

what has Craig Ferguson been doing since retirement?

Craig Ferguson—who, despite years of flirting with gorgeous starlets on his late-night talk show, has so far managed to escape the wave of sexual-harassment scandals currently sweeping the nation—retired from the talk-show life a few years back and has been attached to this or that project ever since, with no huge projects aimed at re-inserting his star into the firmament. I recently discovered, however, that the Scots-American (he bragged about becoming a US citizen in the latter years of his talk show) has been working with a company called GANT to produce a series of videos collectively titled "Couple Thinkers." The concept is this: Craig and his wife Megan begin each show with a question/issue, then seek out some expert to help answer the question or settle the issue. As you might imagine, the issues discussed are never really settled definitively; the joy of the series lies in the discussions. Craig is, of course, his usual jokey self; his wife Megan brings her own unique wit to the table, and the experts we meet are charming and informative. The show leans decidedly leftward, for those who care about such things, but if you're a rightie viewer, and you have your principles in place, then there's nothing here that will shake you from your ideological tree.

Here are the questions that the Fergusons have taken to the experts:

1. Can real food feed the world? (feat. Kimbal Musk, brother of Elon)

2. When do we have to leave this planet? (feat. Neil deGrasse Tyson)

3. Can we stop aging? (feat. Dr. Daisy Robinton, who has done a TED talk)

4. Can you spot a psychopath? (feat. Jon Ronson)

5. How do you dare to follow your dreams and visions? (feat. Jo Nesbø)

6. What is a successful life? (feat. Arianna Huffington)

If I have any complaint about the series, it's that it's so painfully Californian. I'm an East Coaster, and we East Coasters tend to be a bit less airy-fairy in our worldview. This series is all sunshine and West Coast idealism, but if you can look past the unicorns and rainbows, you'll have fun watching Craig and Meg do their thing.



"Justice League": 3 takes that are not mine

Here's a generally positive review:


Here's a scathingly negative review:


Here's a generally fair-minded review that notes positives and negatives:






Saturday, November 25, 2017

not served on a dirty ashtray

I brought my "bad ham" in to the office today for the Saturday crowd: about half the regular staffers are here, plugging away on projects in an effort to stay ahead of impending December deadlines. Thanks to a coworker who had bought some delicious Korean-style dinner rolls for our Thanksgiving celebration this past Thursday, I was inspired to buy those same rolls today and use them to create ham sliders. The "bad ham" was my overly slow-cooked ham, which turned out not to be too bad. I spread mayonnaise on the buns, placed some pickles on the bottom halves of the bread, sprinkled black pepper on the top half of each bun, then placed a thick slab of ham in the middle. Everyone loved the sandwiches, which was a relief. "Not dry at all!" a few coworkers said. I still felt the ham had been way overcooked, but apparently, I can do no wrong with this crowd, and all ten ham sliders were gobbled up with glee.

Stay tuned for my review of "Justice League," which I finally saw this morning.



Friday, November 24, 2017

whoa

I'm not a friend of Saudi Arabia, but if this is true, that's a blot on the US... or at least a blot on US private-security contractors.



brothers at Thanksgiving

What the hell is up with those beards, guys?


A reminder of my own scraggly attempt at a beard here.



seen on Gab






one last way to celebrate Turkey Day

Celebrate the glory that is Turkey Day by enjoying this over-the-top death scene from some long-ago Turkish action flick:


The actual scene apparently didn't incorporate the lovely screaming. You can watch a longer "uncut cut" of the scene here.



the Thanksgiving spread

Sorry for the fuzziness. Lens was smudged.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

boy, how they grow

My buddy Mike's children, home for Thanksgiving:


At the top of the totem pole is my goddaughter Rachael. Next down are Emma and Iain.



Happy Thanksgiving!

The turkey roulade was a success. I have other pictures, but I think my cell-phone camera's lens was smudged, so the images all look fuzzy. Here are two pics of the roulade, followed by a pic of yours truly. The pic below looks a lot like a vomiting larva.


Making the roulade was actually kind of fun. I took the turkey-burger patties, mushed them together, mixed them with salt and pepper, then laid out the meat in the bottom of a large, rectangular baking dish lined with cling film. On top of that, I layered the prosciutto, followed by the roulade's filling, which was a mixture of spinach, mushrooms, crushed pine nuts (crushed in my mortar and pestle! my first time using it!), crushed garlic (mortar and pestle strike again!), sea salt, pepper, shredded Gouda, some thyme, and a good quantity of olive oil. Because white-meat turkey has a dangerous tendency to dry out in the oven, I deliberately included the above ingredients to up the fat content of the roulade. This turned out to be a good move: everyone at the office thought the turkey was tender and juicy. I also layered the outside with bacon, thereby adding another source of moisture. I didn't have a clear idea as to baking time, but for a one-kilo roulade, the baking time turned out to be around an hour at 200°C, with the final 20 minutes spent using the top burners of my oven to broil the bacon.

I based the roulade on several porchetta recipes I had encountered on various recipe websites and on YouTube, but in the end, the creation was my own. Below is a pretty decent shot of the roulade's cross section:


I brought too much food, of course, but everyone got stuffed, and the turkey—all 2 kg of it—is almost gone. This was my first roulade; it wasn't perfect, but it was pretty damn good, and I'm now inspired to try making other roulade-ish dishes in the future.


UPDATE: almost all of the food sold out when two-thirds of the staffers told me they wanted to take some food home with them. I have very little left—just some gravy and some choux rouge, and that's it. Today was amazing: this was the largest amount of food I've ever cooked at one time. It took two trips to bring all the food to the office, but in the end, all that effort paid off, and my reputation as the office's resident cook remains secure.





NK: terrorist again (at long last)

From the inimitable ROK Drop: NORTH KOREA IS UNHAPPY WITH BEING RELISTED ON THE US STATE SPONSORS OF TERRORISM LIST






Wednesday, November 22, 2017

more dogbloggin'

Husky therapy:


Man... I keep thinking about getting a dog, but with my often-crowded work schedule, I don't see how that's possible.



half a load

Today, I brought in half the food I'll be serving at lunch in the office tomorrow. I'm a bit behind schedule, but I think everything will be ready by our 1:30PM start time. I had to bring the food in today because this is the largest amount of food I've ever made, and the burden would simply be too heavy if I tried to carry in everything tomorrow. Just coming home from Costco last night, my huge Costco shopping bag was so heavy that I thought it must have weighed around seventy pounds.

What I brought in today:

- cider
- chicken mushroom gravy
- cranberry sauce
- peas
- sweet-potato casserole

I began with the sweet-potato casserole. Actual sweet potatoes, as Americans know them, are hard to find here on the peninsula, where one is more likely to encounter the local cousin of the sweet potato, i.e., goguma. The problem with using goguma as a surrogate is that the tuber's flesh is much paler, being somewhere in the white/grey/brown region—a far cry from the orange-ish flesh of the standard American sweet potato. I wanted my casserole to look American, so I had to get clever.

This was a Korean problem, so it required a Korean solution, and the answer to my dilemma was to buy carrots and ripe persimmons, both of which are readily available in Korean groceries. The persimmons, in particular, were a solid addition because they added some necessary sweetness: goguma aren't as sugary as American sweet potatoes. I peeled and chopped the carrots and goguma and boiled the hell out of them. I extracted the gooey flesh of the ripe persimmons, removing the seeds and placing the orange goo in a bowl.

Once everything was cooked to fork-tenderness, I extracted the veggies, dumped them into a bowl, and went after them with a potato masher. I had a small tub of leftover ricotta cheese, so I shrugged and dumped that in, too, in lieu of butter. The smell coming off this ensemble was weird: it smelled almost as if I had tossed in some chicken or turkey. Nonplussed, I tasted a spoonful of the carrot/tuber mixture, but all I tasted was what I had expected to taste. I had no idea where that aroma was coming from. Anyway, I dumped in the persimmon flesh and continued mashing.

After some time, it became obvious that the carrots weren't mashing as well as the goguma were, so I brought out my immersion blender and tore into the mash with a vengeance. A few minutes later, and the whole mix looked properly orange, just like American sweet potatoes. Neither the carrots nor the persimmons intruded in terms of taste, and once I added brown sugar, molasses, and a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, the casserole tasted like a proper casserole... only now, the problem was that the whole thing was too runny. (At a guess, I didn't let the tubers and carrots drain for long enough before I began mashing them.)

To surmount that obstacle, I turned to my old friend, panko (Japanese bread crumbs often used for frying, and called bbang-garu, or "bread powder," in Korean*). As I've noted in previous posts, bread is actually an ancient thickener, and the panko—once I dumped a large bowlful of it into the mix—solved my consistency problems nicely, without altering the casserole's taste. I dithered over whether to top the casserole with some sort of marshmallow coating, but I eventually decided against it. I plan to toast some leftover macadamia nuts and create a sugary topping that people can spoon onto their servings of casserole.

Next up was the gravy, and I have to congratulate myself for having capitalized on happenstance. While I was working on the casserole, the water in my two pots—one in which I'd boiled carrots, the other in which I'd boiled goguma—cooled down, and the goguma water actually seized up and became a kind of gel. At a guess, this is because the goguma had released a ton of starch and/or pectin into the water. I saw this and knew instantly that this would be an excellent starter for my chicken gravy, so I took out some frozen chicken chunks that had served me in making chicken stock a few months back, added my mushrooms, set the whole thing boiling, pulled out the chicken chunks after forty minutes, added a bit of bouillon cornstarch—et voilà: a velvety chicken-mushroom gravy that was thick without being either too goopy or too runny.

I reused the carrot water to boil a bagful of frozen peas, which I then lifted out of the water with a slotted spoon and dumped into a large plastic container. I then added salt, pepper, and butter, allowing the peas' residual heat to melt the butter and spread the salt and pepper. The peas were probably the quickest thing to cook.

Cranberry sauce was also easy to make: I dumped the berries into my bokkeum pan, then added sugar, water, cinnamon, lemon juice, and a splash of orange juice. After a few minutes on high heat, the berries began to burst and release their pectin, thereby thickening up the mixture and forming a sauce. Like the peas, this was a fairly easy, straightforward prep.

Lastly, there was the cider. The traditional 70s-era recipe calls for orange-juice concentrate, but I didn't have any of that. Following an online recipe straight from my childhood, I realized that the apple juice/orange juice ratio was 4:3, so I poured the juices into the pot in those proportions. The recipe called for the addition of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, but I soon discovered that the simple mixture of apple and orange juices was enough to produce a drink that was pleasing to the taste. I mixed up a gallon of the plainer cider, pouring it into the large Costco/Kirkland jug that had so recently held only apple juice.

Lugging all of the above to work today was a chore, but I'm glad I did it. Tomorrow, I'll be bringing the rest: turkey, stuffing, ham, corn pudding, choux rouge aux marrons, and homemade pumpkin pie (which will actually be a dan-hobak/kabocha pie).







*A bit of linguistic trivia: the "pan" in Japanese panko and the "bbang" in Korean bbang-garu both come from Romance-language words for "bread," which is called el pan in Spanish, le pain in French, and o pão in Portuguese.



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

harmless-seeming Charlie Rose joins the list of harassers

Apparently, the behind-the scenes version of diffident, innocuous-seeming TV personality Charlie Rose—he of the softball interviews—is a far cry from the on-camera version. The American public knows Rose as a calm, gentle, soothing voice, a man content with asking superficially probing questions that put no pressure on the interviewee. As it turns out, though, the Rose we don't see has been, for decades, a horny pervert with itchy fingers who is also cursed with a fiery temper. Eight women have come out against Rose, and they're telling similar stories about him: the unsolicited massages, the groping, the so-called "shower trick" in which Rose urgently beckons a woman to come into the bathroom while he's showering. This feels like a lesser version of Bill Cosby's predicament: in Cosby's case, dozens of women came out of the woodwork to tell curiously similar stories, thus reinforcing the idea that Cosby has indeed been guilty, over decades, of drugging women, raping or otherwise having his way with them, then dismissing them from his premises. Rose's eight women are only the beginning, I imagine: the above-linked article suggests that Rose's misbehavior has gone on for years and years, so there are likely to be more accusers. Many more.

I shouldn't be surprised at this point, but I had always thought of Charlie Rose as incapable of hurting a flea. I now realize that, as with many public personalities, this is merely a cultivated image. Outing Rose feels a bit like outing Fred Rogers, but as far as I know, Rogers was a decent human being despite the urban legend about him being a ruthless sniper.



Ave, Charles!

My buddy Charles, still in the States but coming back to Korea in a few weeks, sends me this humorous link to the "Celebrity Perv Apology Generator."

Just as pedophilia is now collecting defenders, I think we're going to learn, soon enough, that whacking off in front of female employees and assistants, rubbing one's erection against a woman's leg, and raping a woman while she's asleep are all just legitimate lifestyle choices.

A hilarious example of an apology from the above-linked site:

As the father of daughters, I feel tremendously guilty now that the things I did have been made public. I imagined that any woman would have been thrilled to see a tiny penis peeking out from below my pasty, middle-aged paunch like the head of a geriatric albino turtle moments from death, and of course now I realize my behavior was wrong. In conclusion, I will get the help I so desperately need because this isn’t actually my fault, I have a problem so I’m not responsible for my actions.

(apologies for punctuation)

And courtesy of Dr. V, we have this blog entry from fellow philosopher Keith Burgess-Jackson about how men ought to conduct themselves around women:

In light of recent events, I have some advice for men:

1. Don't touch a woman without her specific consent. Consent, to be consent, must be informed. Don't resort to trickery, subterfuge, dissimulation, or manipulation (including getting her drunk or high).
2. Compartmentalize your life, difficult though that may be. No flirting, romance, compliments, or sexual jokes or comments at work.
3. Don't make women feel uncomfortable, even in a public place where you are equals. If she rebuffs your advance(s), leave her alone. She is not interested in you as a romantic or sexual partner.
4. Stay away from underage females. Nothing good (and much bad) can come of it.
5. Be a gentleman, not a brute or a lout. Think courtship, which is respectable, not seduction, which is sleazy. Real men respect women, which means respecting women's autonomy.
6. If it's hard for you to imagine how a particular woman feels while she is interacting with you, imagine that she is your sister (or mother) and ask whether you would want a man treating her as you're thinking of treating her.

Good advice.



roulade

I went shopping for Thanksgiving ingredients last night, but was unsuccessful in finding legit turkey (admittedly, I didn't look very hard). At High Street Market, I found patties of ground turkey that I plan to flatten out and turn into a roulade filled with some sort of mushroom-and-nut-and-spinach-and-maybe-cheese stuffing wrapped in bacon like a porchetta. I asked the High Street cashier about where I could find actual turkey turkey, and she said that High Street was indeed selling whole turkeys... but not until the next day. Another employee came up and gave me an order form to order a full-on Thanksgiving meal, but when I got home, I saw the form said it would take at least a week to prep any order, which pretty much made the notion of ordering turkey by Thursday useless and irrelevant.

So I'm going to stick with my porchetta-style turkey roulade for this Thursday's meal, along with making stuffing and a slew of other dishes. We'll see how it goes.



reconciliation

Here's an owner apologizing to her dog:


Here's a dog apologizing to its owner:






Monday, November 20, 2017

one of the biggest hypocrisies of the past year

In 2016, Trump originally said he'd question (or think about questioning) the legitimacy of the election if Hillary won. Hillary's camp decried this attitude as an attack on democracy.

Who's attacking democracy now?

(Credit where credit is due.)






seen on Gab

Saw this on Gab and had a chuckle:






Sunday, November 19, 2017

a penny for your thoughts

I have no idea what to make of this. Your thoughts?

You should never let your opponents define you, because they’re not looking to do you any favors. That’s why Republicans, especially those who voted for President Trump, should object to being called populists.

Populism was one of the nastiest of American political movements. It was inevitable, therefore, that Trump would be called a populist. But that doesn’t describe Trump, or the Republican Party he re-invented.

It’s true that, like most populists, Trump thinks that tariff walls that keep foreign goods out of the country might help American workers. But then Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley thought so, too, and they weren’t populists.

It’s also true that, like most populists, Trump championed an underclass unjustly held back by an aristocracy of wealth. But then Karl Marx and socialist Eugene V. Debs thought the same thing, and they weren’t populists. And like most populists, Trump decried the influence of money in politics. But then so did Hillary Clinton and Liz Warren, and nobody called them populists.

Here’s what the accusation of populism really means. It’s a smear meant to link one to people like “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, one of the vilest characters in American political history. Tillman was the governor of South Carolina from 1890 to 1894 and served as the state’s representative in the US Senate for the next 23 years. He invented Jim Crow laws in his state, defended lynch mobs and boasted of the African-Americans he had killed.

Trump is something new in American politics. He’s not Andrew Jackson, or a plain-speaking Harry Truman. He’s not Ronald Reagan. He’s unlike anything we’ve seen before, for the simple reason that he’s up against something we’ve never seen before: a left that’s given up on the American dream of a mobile and classless society, that defends economic immobility and aristocracy.

Trump isn’t a populist. He’s a conservative nationalist. As a conservative he favors socially conservative institutions and free-market solutions to political questions. As a nationalist he is middle of the road or liberal when it comes to taking care of Americans who have fallen behind, through a generous safety net.

[...]

In a speech on the [1867 Reform] bill, Disraeli described what he thought the Tory Party should be, in terms that also define Trump’s Republican Worker’s Party:

“I have always considered that the Tory party was the national party of England . . . It is formed of all classes, from the highest to the most homely, and it upholds a series of institutions that are in theory, and ought to be in practice, an embodiment of the national requirements and the security of the national rights.”

As a nationalist, Disraeli and his party wanted all Britons to prosper. He could never have called one group of his countrymen deplorable, or ignored half the voters because they were in the wrong identity group.

By reaching out to all Britons, he took the Whig’s issues away from them, just as Trump did in dishing the Democrats.

Not much has changed, and the American who wishes to understand the shape of things to come might do well to read up on the “Tory Democracy” of Lord Randolph Churchill (Winston’s father) or observe the similarities between Trump’s agenda and the National Policy of Sir John A. Macdonald’s Tory Party in Canada.



Clickhole strikes again

Via Clickhole: a biting satire of the whole "apologizing for harassment" thing.



what I'd like to write about

We're in the midst of crunch time here at the office, which is why I'm once again piling on the overtime comp hours. I was here all day Saturday until 2AM Sunday morning, and now I'm back in the office for another 9-or-so-hour session. I'd like to write a review of both "American Gods" the TV series and American Gods the novel (which I've read several times over the past few years), but that's going to have to wait until I'm much less busy, which might not be for a while. So hang tight.



the extent of my curse

I live under a curse: whenever I sit down to take a shit in a public restroom, someone else will barge into the bathroom within sixty seconds of my ass's touching the toilet seat. Tonight, I was at the office until just after 2AM. As I was prepping to go back to my place on foot, I decided to take a pre-walk dump in what I assumed was a completely empty fourth floor. I went to the restroom, dropped trou, settled onto the target-reticle-shaped toilet seat, and began pumping out my glorious filth.

Not even a minute into my sin of emission, the restroom's door opened, and an old man shambled into the restroom—probably one of the nighttime guards who normally sit at a desk in the lobby and go on occasional patrols inside the building. I knew he was an old man by the grunting and sighing noises, but the robust, thunderous, youthful fart he let out while urinating came as a true surprise. The smell of the fart, however, was ancient: noisome and redolent of long-dead pharaohs.

Having shot most of my wad a second or so before the old man had barged in, I could only reply to this impressive micturo-flatulent display with a single lame, fecal plop. The old man left; I wiped, flushed, washed my hands, and departed the restroom, too, eager to put this incident behind me and just walk the fuck home in the below-freezing weather.