Sunday, August 14, 2022

this cracks me up

Take 50 seconds (or 25 seconds at 2X speed) to watch this:

Even if you love Joe Biden like a brother, you have to admit this is fucking funny.

even the non-righties are pissed

I occasionally watch videos by Nerd Cookies, a lady on YouTube who does nerdy commentary that's mainly about science fiction and fantasy. She's had interesting things to say about Dune (both the books and the movies), and right now, she's focusing on "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," an Amazon Prime Video series that is receiving massive, massive pushback from fans of both old-school Tolkien and Peter Jackson's LOTR trilogy. The showrunners for this Amazon project have gone way off-canon in creating the series, and every time the cast members or the producers/directors come out to speak publicly about their work, the PR only gets worse. Preview videos for the series all get heavily ratioed (to be ratioed: to have many more "dislike" votes than "like" votes), and Amazon has spent somewhere near a billion dollars on this project, which is going to be a massive flop. Now, I've never gotten the impression that Miss Nerd Cookies is any sort of raging conservative, so if even she is complaining about the colossal disrespect being shown to JRR Tolkien's legacy, you know it's got to be bad.

The litany of complaints includes the following points:

1. Galadriel is being portrayed as a gritty warrior, something Tolkien never meant for her to be, and this portrayal is probably in the name of modern feminism.

2. The Amazon story takes several millennia of history and compresses it all into a restricted time frame so that we don't see a long procession of new characters.

3. "Diverse" elves, dwarves, and hobbits should not be a thing in a tale that was explicitly meant to be western European in tone and content. Making the show "reflect modern realities" is simply pushing a woke agenda in our faces whether we're talking about race or sexuality. The reply to this nonsense is the "Make 'Black Panther' Japanese!" argument. No one would dare to say an African story needed more white people in it, and that shows you, right there, the crypto-racism of the woke agenda for "The Rings of Power."

4. The show's creators seem not to understand that Tolkien's Harfoots are, in fact, a subtype of hobbit. The Harfoot problem arose in interviews in which people pointed out that, according to Tolkien, hobbits played no significant role in the events of the Second Age, to which the showrunners apparently responded by saying that that's why they added Harfoots; the implication is that the showrunners think that Harfoots are not hobbits. The showrunners also said it was hard to imagine a Middle Earth with no little people caught up in the events of the time—just another instance of their disrespect for Tolkien's canon.

5. An exegetical question has arisen: the showrunners think that, if Tolkien had nothing to say on a given matter, then the showrunners should be free to take creative liberties. This isn't a completely illegitimate argument: the reason why we see so many disparate interpretations of Shakespeare is precisely because people took Shakespeare's literary lacunae and filled them in with their own stylings. Shakespeare himself would likely have approved: he wrote his plays with few to no stage directions because traveling troupes of actors had no idea what sort of stage facilities they'd encounter next, i.e., it would sometimes be necessary to change the onstage action to fit whatever setting they found themselves in. For Shakespeare, at least, the case can then be made that artistic license is warranted. There's a centuries-long tradition of taking such license, after all. But Tolkien is another matter. There's no indication (from what little I admittedly know) that Tolkien would have approved of people taking massive liberties with his work. If anything, Tolkien left behind a long history of correspondence in which he crabbily rejected this or that eisegetic misinterpretation of his work, e.g., the idea that Gandalf was somehow a stand-in for Jesus. (Eisegesis is basically when you interpret a text however you want without following any set traditions, established methods, or respectable schools of thought. Exegesis simply refers neutrally to interpretation, as of a text like the Bible.)

I remember, early on, being mildly curious about what "The Rings of Power" would offer us, but the more news and complaints I hear, the more convinced I am that I'm not even going to bother watching the series, despite being an Amazon Prime member. When it became evident that the showrunners had decided it was more important to shoehorn in a woke message than to respect a creator's work, that's the moment things turned sour for me. I'll watch the critical takedowns of the show, but not the show itself. Tolkien deserves better than what these twisted vultures are doing to his legacy. 

And that, folks, is how we ended up with a billion-dollar abortion of a production.

no step on snek

Apparently, the lack of an apostrophe is historically accurate.

Styx explains that the Gadsden flag (the snake with the label "Don't tread on me") is, if anything, a libertarian symbol: leave me alone. This is something that most governments have had trouble doing throughout history—leaving people alone.

The "retarded Gadsden" is a nice tee design, too:

from the PowerLine Week in Pictures

but the lefties will never learn from this

in French, it's a ralentisseur (slower-downer) or a dos d'âne (donkey's back)

I think I put this one up before.

Hunter: the gift that keeps on giving.

banana republic

If you have no conscience, then contradicting yourself isn't a problem.

better with bacon

I have no sympathy.

if World War I had had Über

How do you pass an Inflation Reduction Act while also claiming there's 0% inflation?

Every vaxxed person I know went on to get COVID.

typical projection

I hope this is the case.

"Elvis": review

Director Baz Luhrmann strikes again with his 2022 musical biopic "Elvis" which, alas, makes no mention of Elvis's love for peanut butter and 'nanner sandwiches. The movie stars Austin Butler as Elvis, with Tom Hanks as Elvis's manager/promoter, Colonel Tom Parker.

The story of Elvis is told from the perspective of Colonel Parker, an illegal alien and shyster who, as it turned out, worked Elvis to death, took half of Elvis's money, and did it all while positioning himself as Elvis's friend and even father figure (despite the fact that Elvis's dad outlived his son). The Tom Parker we're given speaks in a vaguely Dutch accent, and in view of his reputation, he is, even as he narrates Elvis's life, understandably defensive about his own role in that life. As the biopic unfurls, we come to understand that Tom Parker is an exploiter and a parasite who latched onto Elvis and sucked him dry, but in what can only be described as karmic justice, Parker loses millions to his own gambling addiction and ends up in a hospital after a stroke. (Elvis died in 1977; Parker died 20 years later in 1997.)

We see Elvis growing up poor in Mississippi, then moving to Memphis, Tennessee. As a kid, Elvis was fascinated with and influenced by gospel and the blues—the music of the local black folks. There are scenes of the young Elvis (Chaydon Jay) peeking into a gospel church service with a charismatic-Christian denomination, then entering the service and becoming filled with the Holy Spirit, dancing ecstatically and eventually falling limp, being caught up by church members before he can hit the ground. Some of these scenes are intercut with images of young Elvis peeking into passionate, sensual performances of the blues, giving us a feeling that, in Elvis's young mind, the ecstatic transports of church music and the pulsing, grinding sexuality of the more secular music were of a piece, both representing a form of joy that was, at the time, not very well known to the larger white community.

Flash forward to Elvis as a very young man. Colonel Tom Parker, a carnival "snowman" at the time, (i.e., a grifter who excels at the "snow job"—as he tells Elvis, "All showmen are snowmen") hears of Elvis and watches him perform. He insinuates himself into Elvis's life, altering the trajectory of both men forever. Parker helps make Elvis famous while feeding off Elvis's fame. Elvis's unbridled sexuality while onstage (the movie covers the whole "Elvis the Pelvis" thing) makes him the darling of young women everywhere while incurring the wrath of more sexually conservative elements in American society at the time (ironically, these were mostly Democrats). Elvis's fame increases exponentially for a while; he and his family are lifted out of poverty and end up at the famous Graceland, but it becomes obvious that Parker is doing what he can to control both Elvis's public image and where Elvis can perform. Eventually, paralleling the real-life Elvis, our protagonist succumbs to the temptations of life on the road—the adoring girls, the drugs, and the intoxicating ego-rush of fame. 

Those who know even vaguely the story of Elvis's life know that his beloved mother died in the late 1950s, and his father died two years after Elvis did, in 1979. Elvis himself died of a probable heart attack, possibly brought on by straining against constipation that impacted his aorta; the movie doesn't deal with the disgusting details of his death, such as that he had died on the toilet (and fallen forward onto the floor) with a "clay-like" substance in his colon (called by experts, heedless of the humor, a "megacolon" given the volume of material it contained), likely a result of the cocktail of drugs he'd been taking.

Politically speaking, the film tilts both leftward and rightward (by today's weird standards) in certain ways. On the leftward side, the film deals frankly with the black influence on Elvis's music, with Elvis himself even uttering a line, at one point, in which he rejects the label of "King of Rock and Roll" while saying that black artists like BB King ought to have such a title. The film also deals head-on with the racism of the segregationist era. Elvis's unabashed sensuality can also be seen as vintage-left, but here, we stray into rightie territory: Elvis's attempts at free expression are shown to lead to moves by elements in the government and society to shut Elvis down. The verb "cancel" is even used at one point in the same sense in which it's used these days. In one performance, Elvis ignores Parker's advice to behave himself and gives the type of performance he wants to give, with all the attendant hip thrusts and gyrations. The fans go nuts, but the police swarm in and Elvis is taken away—not because he was in danger, but because of the way he was performing.

And I haven't seen any other critics mention this, but I think the movie traffics, at least a little, in its own racism: the stereotype that black folks possess some kind of sex magic, and that Elvis became the white conduit for that magic, bringing white women to transports of near-religious ecstasy. Maybe there's some historical truth to this: some musical historians do see Elvis as a sort of gateway or portal that allowed black music to find an audience among the white people of the time. But, historically true or not, it felt to me as if the film were simply going along with a particular racial stereotype.

I also found some of the directorial and editorial choices to be somewhat on the nose. When Elvis sings about feeling trapped ("Caught in a Trap"), this is an obvious reference—at least in the film—to how he feels about his relationship with Tom Parker during his later years... and then the movie has Elvis actually rant about how trapped he feels, thus driving home the metaphor in a way that utterly violates the sacred cinematic law of "show, don't tell."

Musically, well, this is a Baz Luhrmann film, so you can expect Luhrmann to integrate music smoothly into the story. This isn't a musical, though; unlike a Luhrmann film like "Moulin Rouge," it's not every single character who gets a moment to sing. This is a typically mythologized biopic, but one in which only the true singers sing. So we hear Elvis, BB King (Kelvin Harrison), Little Richard (Alton Mason, impressive), and Big Mama Thornton (Shonka Dukureh), among others.

In terms of acting, the cast around the principals does a fine job. We don't see much of Little Richard, but Alton Mason (as Richard) nevertheless makes a huge impression; I look forward to seeing him in other work. The actor who plays country singer Hank Snow (David Wenham, better known as Faramir in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy) doesn't get much screen time, but he's hilarious as a God-fearin' good ol' boy who's scandalized when he watches Elvis perform. Helen Thomson, as Elvis's eternally stressed mother Gladys, does a fine job (this includes some weirdly creepy, quasi-incestuous scenes with Elvis). Richard Roxburgh (also in "Moulin Rouge" as the Duke), gives a good performance as Elvis's squirrely, weak-chinned dad Vernon. Olivia DeJonge is a trouper as Elvis's wife Priscilla, although she was a bit too old to play Priscilla in her teenaged years.

And we have to talk about the two elephants in the room: Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, and Austin Butler as The Man Himself. Hanks is dressed up in a fat suit and hidden under a lot of latex, and I had to wonder why Luhrmann didn't just cast someone who naturally resembled Parker. Hanks normally plays good-guy roles, so it was a bit strange to see him here, playing against type, as our villain-narrator. With Hanks looking so unrealistic, I sometimes found it hard to suspend disbelief. I've also heard other critics note that the real Colonel Parker didn't sound anything like the way Hanks made him sound (I found an interview with Ted Koppel in which Parker sounds completely American; while I'm at it, here's a video contending that the biopic got everything wrong about Elvis). Why Hanks affected the weird Dutch accent is beyond me. Austin Butler, in the meantime, gave an outstanding performance as Elvis. He's right up there with Taron Egerton as Elton John and Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. Butler is expressive and impassioned; he nails many of Elvis's signal mannerisms without drifting into parody. Alas, we don't get to see Fat Elvis until the very, very end of the film, but when we do, there's a subtle switch during that scene in which we're suddenly watching the real Elvis—in his Fat Elvis phase—perform "Unchained Melody" onstage. It may sound morbid, but Butler inhabited Elvis like a sweaty skin suit, although there where times when his sensual, hollow-cheeked performance reminded me of Val Kilmer's Elvis parody from "Top Secret." Apparently, Butler sang all the songs we hear in the film, with his voice being used for young Elvis, while his voice was electronically blended with that of the real Elvis for later songs sung when Elvis was older.

All in all, though, I'm not sure how much I liked this biopic, especially compared to biopics like "Rocketman" and "Bohemian Rhapsody," both of which played fast and loose with facts but gave the audience a propulsive, energetic narrative. Part of the problem was the weird way in which "Elvis" was paced. While I've enjoyed Luhrmann's editing in the past, especially with the gonzo "Moulin Rouge," "Elvis" often felt uncomfortably surreal, moving the story forward via a series of scenes that seemed to bleed rapidly from one into another, tumbling heedlessly forward. By the time I was an hour into the film, I felt as if the movie needed to end—that we had seen most of the signal events in Elvis's life, and it was time to wrap things up. But the movie proved to be 159 minutes long, so after that exhausting first hour, there was a lot more story left. Honestly, the film could have trimmed half of its run time away, and it would have benefitted from tighter pacing. Then again, even though the film was a biopic, it was also a chance to take a tour through a crucial couple of decades of American history, giving us the deaths of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, which may explain the story's ambitious length. The movie also isn't subtle about who should be viewed as a hero and who should be viewed as the villain. Tom Parker comes off as practically satanic in the way he latches onto Elvis and bleeds him. Elvis is portrayed as hard-working, overly dedicated to his fans, misunderstood by social conservatives, and a victim of his own stardom. Another problem is that the movie never mentions the fact that Elvis wrote none of the lyrics for his songs: through the years, several lyricists provided the words that Elvis sang, including people like Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber. In the movie, no lyricists are mentioned at all. Also unmentioned is that Elvis could neither read nor write music—everything was played by ear. Through title cards at the end, the movie drives home the point that Elvis influenced American culture, and that he was and remains the best-selling solo musical act in history. This felt like another violation of "show, don't tell," and I had the sense that I was being preached to.

If you're a lover of Luhrmann's work, I think there's a lot that you'll love about "Elvis." If you're more of a critical skeptic, you might not love the movie quite as much. I suspect that a lot of people were as turned off by Tom Hanks's distracting costume design as I was, but at the same time, I can see audiences being drawn to Austin Butler's magnetic performance. Butler really is the standout here, and he almost makes the movie for me. Almost.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

will Liz Cheney at last be outta there?

Liz Cheney, daughter of neocon specter Dick Cheney, was bizarrely elected by the citizens of Wyoming to represent them as a Republican in the US House of Representatives. Like a determined tick, she has infested the office since 2017, and it could be that the people of Wyoming have finally woken up to the fact that she's a neocon parasite who does not have her citizens'—or the country's—best interests at heart. Like her father and that entire neocon crew, Liz Cheney is a staunch Never Trumper who currently vice-chairs the so-called House Select Committee on the January 6th Attack, yet another anti-Trump witch hunt designed to keep Trump from running in 2024. Cheney knows that her seat in the House is now up for grabs during this election cycle, and for a while, she campaigned hard, even to the point of asking Democrats for financial support. Now, however, she seems finally to know the axe is going to fall, and that her desperate efforts to hold on to power have been in vain.

If Liz Cheney leaves, that will make it easier for me to contemplate a move to Wyoming, although I have my doubts about the citizens who chose to install such a creature in office.

someone finally got him

Author Salman Rushdie has been under a fatwa issued in 1989 by the late Ayatollah Khomeini after Rushdie wrote his 1988 The Satanic Verses (which I've never read). Fatwas take many forms; this particular one explicitly called for Rushdie's execution as a response to perceived blasphemy against Muhammad. Rushdie has lived a life in hiding ever since, moving from place to place and surrounded by a coterie of security personnel. He still leads a public life, though, appearing onstage to give speeches now and then.

It was during a speech on Friday, August 12, 2002, east-coast time, that Rushdie was attacked by 24-year-old Hadi Matar of New Jersey—a pro-Shia, pro-Iran Muslim. Rushdie was wounded in one eye, suffered nerve damage in one arm, and had his liver perforated. According to the latest news, he is alive and on a ventilator. I have no idea how extensive the liver damage is, but I'm sure there will be updates. I have to wonder what Rushdie's security personnel were doing at the time of the attack. Picking their noses?

In a weird linguistic coincidence, matar is the Spanish verb "to kill." It's where the term matador (killer) comes from. Once again, another kind gesture from the religion of peace.

the dark near future of Europe

Europe's own self-righteous stupidity led it to this pass: many countries in Europe (read: mostly western Europe) will be so short on fuel this coming winter that there will be long periods during which citizens will have to endure life without heat. I already showed you Joerg Sprave's video as he preps home defense in anticipation of riots and looting. Below is Paul Joseph Watson with a dark prediction of just how had things are likely to get this winter:

There's a video out there—several videos, in fact—showing how the German delegation at the UN responded with smiles and laughter to Trump's prediction that German dependence on Russian oil would be its undoing. Here's a snippet:

Who's laughing now? Meanwhile, in Spain, the government is telling citizens what temperature they can set their home thermostats to. Europe is going to be a mess, and all this could have been avoided had each country striven for energy independence via nuclear power and locally available fossil fuels. But, no: enviro-idiocy is the order of the day. I'll be curious to get in touch with my French family this winter to see how things are going, especially with my French Papa, who is about 90. France is mostly nuclear, so I'm thinking they'll be far less affected than Germany by Russia's having shut off the fuel valve.

our articulate president

Found via Instapundit:



♬ original sound - Josiah T Alipate

We never learn that one word that defines America, do we? And Trump is the inarticulate idiot? Believing that is the ultimate example of leftist projection.

nature is creepy

Friday, August 12, 2022

rewrite this shitty sentence

Several things wrong here. Rewrite the following sentence (found at rightie site ZeroHedge) and stop my eyes from bleeding:

It began to accelerate in the early years of the 21st century, and while it was always driven by left-wing, liberal, impulses, who seemed to have the upper hand in culture and media; they still always feigned powerlessness and victimhood.

Rescue me!

UPDATE: the "it" at the beginning of the sentence refers to political correctness, the precursor to wokeness, which is what the article is about.

another China-collapse video

Another video predicting the collapse of the Chinese economy in about a month:

I admit this is making me very nervous. When two videos by two separate sources (here's the previous video) make the same prediction, that could mean several things: (1) both videos are so politically aligned that they're essentially singing from the same hymnal; (2) China's imminent collapse is so obvious that it can no longer be hidden; (3) both videos are saying the same thing through sheer coincidence, and the information they're peddling is utterly wrong. Which alternative do you think is most likely? I confess I'm in a bit of denial about this: the Chinese economy is a well-known bubble and has been for years, but if it were to collapse, that would nevertheless severely damage economies throughout the world. Can that really happen, or is China "too big to fail"? The hints we're seeing now, globally, of supply-line problems and food shortages would become a horrifying reality even in richer countries like America. So while I'm not a fan of a strong China that projects its force and its agenda everywhere, I'm also not a fan of a collapsed China that takes everyone down with it. So, what do you think? How likely is this fabled collapse? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

long weekend

I'd completely forgotten that this coming Monday, August 15, is Gwangbokjeol, often called Liberation Day in English. It celebrates Korea's liberation from Japanese occupation. Grand speeches are given in which no one thanks Korea's liberators, probably because it'd be a blow to Koreans' fragile sense of national pride to acknowledge that Korea didn't liberate itself. 

Anyway, for me, this means I have a long weekend. What to do, what to do... I was thinking of doing a 25K walk out to Hanam City tonight, but I don't know how walkable the Four Rivers path is along the Han. I saw a picture of the river coming right up to the edge of the Olympic Expressway (which was obviously blocked off, forcing everyone to use streets and roads farther inland), so I'm not sure a walk to Hanam City is possible. Maybe next week, and it'll have to be a nighttime walk given the relentless summer heat.

Or: I could do the Hanam walk tonight, anyway, following inland paths. The problem with that, though, is that I'd spend a lot more of my time in traffic. Is it worth it?

Actually, I think the path to Bundang may be walkable if last night's walk was any indication. So maybe I'll just walk to Bundang Saturday evening. Tonight, I'll walk the route I walked last night. That proved to be pleasant enough.

shrimp-mango salad

Not keto at all, but tasty: I made myself a cool, summery shrimp-mango salad with chopped lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes. La voici:

shrimp-mango salad with dressing off to the side

The tomatoes and mangoes had a lot of juice, so the salad was a bit runny on the bottom, but it still tasted good. I'd never actually handled mangoes in their fruit form before (my coworker looked at me funny when I told him that); turns out that a ripe mango is super-juicy and super-slippery. Took me a bit to figure out how to break it down. One bizarre thing I noticed was that you can insert a finger under the skin, then peel the entire skin off in one fell swoop as if you were breaking down a squid. I was reminded of this because I'd just finished watching a bunch of Pohang fish-market videos of workers breaking down octopi, squid, and cuttlefish. Once the skin is off, though, you need to figure out how to hold the fruit so you can cut it into manageable pieces. I belatedly watched a few YouTube videos on how to break a mango down, and none of them shows a satisfactory, foolproof method. Ripe mangoes are slippery—period—and you're never going to be able to extract all of the flesh no matter which vaunted method you use to break the fruit down.

Anyway, if I make this salad again, I'll allow the mangoes to drain, and I'll cut the snotty/seedy centers out of the tomatoes I use to minimize runniness. Aside from that, though, the salad was a winner. It could have used some avocado, though (and there's another slippery fruit, but at least with a ripe avocado, you can extract almost all of the flesh pretty easily.

Attempting to evoke a salad I'd eaten on a TGV in France years ago, I made a dressing that was a honey-mustard mix done up the Korean way, i.e., with honey, mustard, and mayonnaise. I also added some black pepper and Old Bay seasoning. I was initially worried that the Old Bay would clash with the sugary honey and mango, but no: it paired nicely with the shrimp and wasn't a problem. The result was smooth and sweet with a hint of spiciness.

Oh, yeah: mango pits are weird. They remind me of the insole for a baby's shoe, at least in terms of their shape. Otherwise, they're as hard as the stone of a peach or nectarine.

a real-life trickster?

Here's an open challenge to my buddy Charles: can he verify that Ezra Miller is a real-life trickster? Ezra Miller has been in entertainment news lately for any number of shenanigans: assaulting women, grooming children, and possibly even kidnapping people and hiding them from authorities. Miller himself was hard to track down for a while. His "The Flash" movie, an expensive Warner Brothers project, might end up on the chopping block if Miller can't improve his public image (I say his, but Miller calls himself "nonbinary" and prefers to be called they/their). Warner has already cancelled at least two other expensive projects: "Batgirl" and "Scoob!" "Batgirl" was supposed to feature Michael Keaton in a minor role as an older Batman; "The Flash" was supposed to feature Keaton, too, along with Ben Affleck (as multiversal Batmen), and actors like Keaton and Affleck don't come cheap, so if "The Flash" gets cancelled because Ezra Miller can't calm himself down, Warner Brothers will take a huge loss, having wasted so much money and time on three fairly ambitious projects.

If I remember correctly, Charles, who specializes in trickster figures in literature among other things, says that the trickster sows chaos, disturbing the established order and often occupying a liminal (in-between) space in the world. A trickster is generally amoral since morality tends to be part of a larger structure, and the trickster is antistructural (to misuse, somewhat, a term from cultural anthropology). This means a trickster's actions can help the common good, but they can also cause mayhem and even death. So from a moralistic point of view, a trickster can be good or evil, but from his own point of view, the trickster is merely following his nature—if he can even be said to have a fixed nature. In a sense, he does: he's always reliably opposed to order, structure, and law.

I got the idea of thinking of Ezra Miller as a possible real-life trickster after watching the following Ryan Kinel video, in which Kinel starts off by referring to the "chaotic force" of Miller. (Kinel has been following the Miller saga for a while now.) That set off a light bulb in my head. Miller is nonbinary, i.e., he leans toward sexual ambiguity, which arguably puts him in a liminal space. He's also had several run-ins with the law and appears to live in blatant defiance of established social norms. All of this feels very tricksterish to me, but one factor might be missing: tricksters are called tricksters because they trick people, i.e., they mislead, confuse, bamboozle, hoodwink, and mystify. Miller doesn't seem to be doing that at all, except to the extent that he often appears able to elude law enforcement. Anyway, here's Kinel's latest video on Ezra Miller. Be warned: Kinel is a rightie, and like a lot of rightie critics looking at the Warner Brothers situation, he thinks the films are being cancelled because they're a load of woke trash, and test audiences are rejecting them. Non-rightie critics are saying that "Scoob!" and "Batgirl" got written off as a way to save money by avoiding massive taxes, so it's not obvious what the real truth is. Watch Kinel with all of that in mind.

So I guess the challenge for Charles—who probably doesn't have the time to engage in this silly pursuit—is to lay out the criteria for a trickster and see whether Ezra Miller checks all the boxes. I'm leaning toward "Yes, Miller is a trickster," probably because I want that to be true.

Personal note: all the news that's coming out about Ezra Miller makes him seem like quite the piece of shit, and maybe he is. As an actor, though, he's likable and engaging. He invests his signature character, The Flash, with a great deal of life and personality, and I liked Miller when I first saw him on the TV series "Royal Pains," where he played the troubled son of rich parents. I haven't seen his "We Need to Talk About Kevin" (opposite Tilda Swinton), but I've heard that that was a good, creepy film. Like a lot of fine actors, Miller may well be a nasty piece of work in real life, but at the very least, I appreciate his talent, and I can only hope he gets his head out of his ass. He appears, otherwise, to be on a collision course with destiny.

tonight's adventure

I walked a somewhat different route tonight, mainly because I was curious to see whether the northern/eastern side of the Tan-cheon was walkable. Turns out it was, but at the very end, the bridge I normally cross to go back to my place was blocked, forcing me to use a nearby bridge to cross. Pics and explanations follow.

I left the office around 7 p.m. Took a look at the stairs leading down to the Yangjae-cheon (Yangjae Creek) to see whether the flood had receded any. It hadn't.

I really don't get the silly red tape. You can't see the danger without help?

another angle to drive home the point that the stairs no longer lead down to a bike path

green font at the top: "Contemplative Resting Place"
white font just below: "Your Body and Mind's Place for Rest"
poem title: "Scholar Met at the Yangjae-cheon"

a sad-looking lamppost... whatcha' knowin'?

a tree on the submerged bike/walking path

more stairs into the drink

When I used to walk the Yangjae-cheon more often, doing staircases, this was what I mentally labelled as "Staircase #1." As you see, it's suffered a good bit of damage from the flooding, partly because the stair-builders insist on not building these stairs solidly. Every year, there's a staircase collapse because no one appreciates how soft the ground is. People never learn. Staircase #1 will be rebuilt flimsily, and the cycle/circus will continue.

another shot of poor, sad Staircase #1

a flower defies the rain

the flower's cousin, I guess

compare this with the two previous shots of the same spot

this, too

and this, from off the bridge

I thought this was a nifty shot.

pylons and water

the far side of the Tan-cheon, which I'll be walking soon

that wooden walkway paralleling the Tan-cheon, high up and away from the water

another nifty shot; off in the distance, the bright lights of a stadium

the high level of the Tan-cheon walk keeps you by the creek (right), but you follow a road for part of it

endoscopy ad on the side of a bus for a medical center called, funnily enough, Happiness Hospital

I crossed the Samseong Bridge as I'd done the previous night, and I stepped through a flimsy tape barrier to access the other path along the Tan-cheon. From the south, the Tan-cheon angles roughly northwestward toward the Han River before suddenly turning almost straight north during its final segment. This is why it's hard to describe where the path I'm walking is. This is the east/north side of the Tan-cheon path, which is currently the un-submerged side. Having now walked a goodly stretch of the path, I have no idea why it was blocked off. Other people were on the path as well—to be expected in Korea, where people ignore rules and laws all the damn time (and I've become one of them).

the ramp down to the Tan-cheon path

The driver's-test course is almost totally submerged except for the raised section you see here.

In case you've forgotten, the course normally looks like this.

oh, the irony (the sign says, roughly, No bikes or kickboards)

As I said, Koreans routinely ignore rules and laws. The kickboard/scooter above shouldn't have been there, and as I walked along the path, I saw several bikers and kickboarders, none of whom should have been doing what they were doing. Of course, I had ignored a cautionary bit of tape to walk this path, so I wasn't in any position to tell these scofflaws what to do.

Abandon ship! Normally, this house sits on dry concrete. It looks pretty damn flooded now.

a sort-of straightaway

water was pouring out from somewhere off to my left

a flood gauge of some kind

one of several large signs advertising this as part of the Songpa Dulle-gil (the 21K Songpa Loop)

another straightaway; the flood waters didn't get quite this high (notice there's no silt)

Korean sunflower, I think, but the yellow center makes me unsure

bathroom break, noticing the emergency button to summon the police

I guess the water got close enough to soften the soil, here, and topple another lamppost.

sorry for the blur

The bridge where I normally do my U-turn and turn toward my apartment was blocked.


I'm on a ramp and moving up to the nearby bridge now. Here's a wide shot of the blockage.

A curved ramp takes me up to the bridge.

on the bridge, now—and here's the ramp I walked

shot of the blockage from the bridge

Google says "교행데크" (gyohaeng-dekeu) translates to "crossing deck." The red dot shows your current location.

I crossed the bridge and took this ramp one level down—still way above the creek.

I've never been on this part of the path before; I usually walk at creek level. This is nice, but noisy because of traffic.

LED sign for the Suseo Interchange, Yangjae Interchange, and Irweon Tunnel

Take away the traffic noise, and this is a nice path.

more silly tape barriers, but the creekside section of the path, at this point, is clear

all in all, it's just a...nother brick in the wall

Every time I pass this phalanx of apartments, I get a fortress-like feeling.

I'll be going right, taking the path that goes under the bridge.

Here we go.

I pop up, and the rest of this path is familiar. I've done it a million times.

more silly barriers

a sign about not speeding on your bike: keep it under 20 kph for people's safety (people first!)

closer and closer to my place

These shots of the Lotte World Tower never come out as awesome as I'd like.

digital zoom

the footbridge that means my apartment is less than a kilometer away

final shot: Gaepo-ro, the street leading to my apartment building

Now that I know how walkable the other side of the Tan-cheon is, I'll be doing this route until the flood recedes, and things return more or less to normal. It's interesting to discover these new paths that have been sitting right under my nose, but because they're almost all elevated, they put me at the same level as street traffic, which makes these walks noisy and reeking with exhaust fumes. I'll be happy to get back to creekside walking—soon, I hope.