Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Where's the Happy Ending?

So before you start to read this, you have to realise that there will be spoilers.... that means I am going to tell you the story and ruin it if you want to see it. The movie is Million Dollar Baby and if you don't want to know what happens, stop reading now! After you have seen it, come back and let me know what you think.

I really didn't know what this movie was about. I knew there was boxing in it, but I should have also realised that Clint Eastwood was directing which meant things weren't quite that simple. Now I like a bit of boxing and I am partial to a sports movie or two. So when it started off with boxing and then Clint came in and agreed to manage the female boxer, I was thinking, "great this is like Rocky with a woman!". She gets her title shot and then it all turns to crap. A sucker punch after the bell and she is paralysed from the neck down... No more boxing for her. Then her family turn up and try to con money out of her and then she asks Clint to kill her. He doesn't want to, so she bites off her tongue, blood everywhere. Then he decides to and then after killing her Clint doesn't go back to the gym, he goes and buys a cafe that they once ate at in Missouri. The end. What the hell? I paid $30 to see this movie and at the end I felt pretty depressed. Look, I know that movies are meant to make us think. But if I wanted to see something this depressing, why don't I just watch the news? Like I said, I should have taken the clue from Clint and his previous films. The Unforgiven. This ruined cowboy films for me. No gung fights and a miserable movie from beginning to end. Mystic River. This was torture from beginning to end. What is this guy up to? Is he thinking about his own mortality as he gets older? Why be so morbid Clint? Help the poor miserable unwashed like me enjoy our sad insignificant existances by giving us happy endings! Where oh where has Dirty Harry gone? Bad guys cause chaos and violence... Harry takes out bad guys... we are happy knowing that Harry has protected us. That's what I want, surely that's what the people want?

Now, some people are going to tell me that the message here is that being able to accomplish your dream and then dying is better than never getting there and living a long life, but this is just not going to wash with me. What the hell message is that? What we want to hear is that although it may be difficult to live your dream, when you finally accomplish it, it will all be worth it. Plus you get to live a long life! Also, what is this movie saying for the quadraplegics out there? After she broke her spine, I thought that this would be a good chance to get to university or join support groups or anything to try to make the most out of things. But no, this movie tells us that is it better to be dead than not be able to walk. Great. Should we tell blind people the same thing? Clint, I am pleading with you; the world needs more Dirty Harry films, please change your ways before it is too late!

San Nakji for President!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Thunder and the Flashy Stuff

Even though it was Good Friday today, I still woke up at 7am. Why? Well I am fairly sure that I was being punished by God for being a godless heathen on His day by putting some thunder right on the top of my house! The house really shook and even though I don't mind a bit of thunder, I had pretty much done all my sleeping by then and that was it...

I went to visit my Nana in hospital again today. Her Armenian neighbour wasn't there. She had been waking up every couple of hours and had been crying out. Her daughter told me the other day that she had dementia and so I am sure that is why. Some other old people in the room complained and so they moved her today. Probably to the secure Alzheimer's ward. I was sad I couldn't see her again as meeting her really affected me. Even though she won't remember me, I will always remember her and remember how lonely she was as no one was talking to her. I hope she gets better and can live at least another 9 years. She is 91 now. I figure that if I can make it to my 90s then it would be a waste to die before I got to 100. Plus when you get to 100 in New Zealand, the Queen sends you a personalised letter, which is pretty nice. Although if I make it to 100, I am sure the King will send me one. But on second thoughts, I probably won't get one at all, because we will definitely be a republic by then. Joy, it will be great to have a president. Maybe if we are really lucky we could get a George W clone! Wow, how lucky would that be? About as lucky as the thunder and it's wake up call this morning I would think! Oh yes, before I forget, the woman's name was Armenia, kind of cool. Although personally I wouldn't like to be named New Zealand....

San Nakji for President!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Importance of Language

I went and visited my Nana in hospital last night. She has just had a hip replaced and was moved from a private hospital with her own private room to a public hospital where she is sharing with at least 5 other people. I think she enjoys it more as she loves to talk! She has already made friends with all the people in her ward and can tell me about all of them, except for one person. In the bed next to her is a woman who cannot speak English. While I was there she kept trying to talk to other people, but of course no one new what she was saying. To me it sounded like Turkish or something like that, but unfortunately, although I always wanted to learn it, I never have... Anyway, I asked the nurse there where she was from and she said Armenia. On a side note, do you know who is Armenia's most famous person? Yup, you guessed it, it's Andre Agassi... Well maybe you didn't guess it. I am wandering.... She kept trying to talk to me, maybe she thought I was a doctor? I don't know, maybe doctors over there wear jeans or something. Of course I didn't know what she was saying and she got very frustrated and began to cry. It was awful. I decided to go home and print some Armenian language off from the internet. http://www.cilicia.com/armo5_phrases.html is where to go if you want to try some. After about 40 minutes I came back and sat with her and tried the phrases. Some she understood, most she didn't. I don't think I could get the pronounciation right! Still, she was so happy. She reached out and hugged and kissed me. I think she was so happy that someone was trying to talk to her, even though we couldn't communicate properly, it was just the fact that we were trying to connect that was important. Then dinner came and I thought I would leave her to it. She wasn't happy about that and wanted me to stay with her. I think she wanted me to eat with her, but I tried to tell her that she should eat it all... About that time, her daughter came. Her English speaking daughter! It turns out that she is actually from Iraq, and that she is an Iraqi Armenian. Or is that an Armenian Iraqi? The accent of Armenians in Iraq is different than that of Armenians in their country, so that must be why she couldn't understand me! Well, that's what I tell myself. I felt so bad that I couldn't speak her language. I really wish I could speak all the languages in the world, it would be so useful, but of course it is not possible. All she needed was someone to try to talk to her, so I think that was my good deed of the day.

I have been reading this book, Spoken Here by Mark Abley. It is about the author's travel to different areas of the world where languages are in danger of dying out. He talks about Aboriginal languages in Australia, First Nation languages in the USA and Canada, Yiddish, Welsh, Manx and Provencal. It is really interesting and at the same time very sad as with each speaker of these languages who passes away, more of the language is forever gone. While many people in the world understand the need for biodiversity on our planet, meaning the protection of endangered animal and plant species, (As long as they are cute or delicious of course!) not a lot of people think that the protection of language is important. As long as everyone can communicate it English, then what does it matter? Well it matters as with each language we lose we are losing the thing that makes this world such an amazing place. Who wants everyone to be the same? I thrive on a multicultural society and cringe at the thought of times gone by when I new nobody who spoke another language or even had a non-Anglo Saxon / Celtic background. Back then we couldn't eat different kinds of food and so it was a Fish and Chips lifestyle instead of the Kimchi Sushi city I live in now. Each language spoken in this world represents a different way of thinking. Isn't that what life is all about? Different ways of thinking, different opinions, different values? It seems that with the economic power behind English, everyone wants to speak it, to the detriment of all others. Often people have asked me why I learn a particular language or any language at all. There apparantly is no money in language speaking so why do it? I have to tell you it is not for the money. Occasionally Korean will give me the opportunity to make an extra buck, but if it didn't I wouldn't care. The joy I get from understanding a foreign language or conversing with someone who speaks that language surpasses any possible economic benefit. It is about knowing where you come from, where others come from and why things are like they are. What can be more important than that? For each language that disappears from our world every year, so goes another part of our humanity... Truly this is one of the great tragedies. This is the importance of language.

San Nakji for President!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Sunny Day

Well, another day another blog. So far I am keeping it up, although I doubt anyone is reading this! At least it gives a chance to vent on things that I am thinking about and I can read back in years to come to find out what I was up to. The first blog I ever saw was www.livingwithcaucasians.blogspot.com which is really interesting. I hadn't read it for a while and looking at it just now, I see that they stopped writing last July. It was interesting because it was about life in Georgia, not the state, but the country, just east of Turkey. I kind of fell in love with the country after seeing their written language which is beautiful. I did a quick google search and if you look at http://www.armazi.com/georgian/ you will see what I mean. I love languages with their own Alphabets and although I am keen on learning all languages, the "funny alphabets" are the ones I really like! Anyway, have a look at the blog and look through the archive, the writer lived in Georgia at a really interesting time. From all accounts, Georgia is a beautiful country with great food. However it is plagued with problems like all former Soviet states, but eventually I am sure they will sort it out. I hope so anyway.

As I write this I am trying to get on the Sumo Forum site, but no luck. I need my fill of Sumo talk today and so this is just not acceptable! Last night Kasugaoo, my Korean wrestler, lost again and it looks like he is now destined to drop to the Juryo division (2nd division), which means I won't be able to see him on TV for the next tournament. Asashoryu, the Mongolian Yokozuna (the highest rank) continued his domination and has now won 25 matches in a row. Since I started watching Sumo in January, I have not seen him lose a match. Maybe I am good luck for him? I have followed Sumo for years, but I have only had Japanese satellite TV since January, in case you were wondering.

My rugby league team is playing this weekend and I will be going. They played so well last weekend against one of the top rated teams, which was in complete contrast from the first week of the season where they were totally outplayed. This weekend they are playing the Cowboys, who are coming off a great win over the defending champions, so I am quite worried. Hopefully they will play with the spirit they had last week and everything will be fine. Fingers crossed! It is unfortunately true that all the sports teams I support never win anything, so maybe I have cursed my team by my support...

San Nakji for President!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

First Real Post

Well here we go. I signed up for one of these before, wrote one entry, and then forgot about it. It's probably like a diary, except that the whole world will read what you wrote! I was never good at keeping up my diary... Well I was on one of my favourite sites, www.sumoforum.net and there was a link there to a Sumo podcast. I had never heard of podcasting, and I am still not sure how it is done, but check out www.tokyocalling.org . Scott talks about things that interest him and it is more personal as you can hear his voice. I am not sure I would have the guts to put my voice on the net! I suppose it is kind of like your own radio show which I would love to have. Here where I live, the powers that be felt that getting rid of the only radio station I love would be a great idea and with that frequency they put a multi genre radio station on air instead. I have tried other stations, but nothing works. I am now working on putting all my favourite songs onto my MP3 player and putting that in the car when I drive to work. I like listening to the BBC World Service, but I do need some rock music in the morning to keep me going...

Daylight Saving finished here in the weekend and this means that I got an extra hour to sleep in in the morning. It was much appreciated. I know that it really is just an hour that was stolen from me in October last year when we started daylight saving (summer time for Americans and those influenced by them), but you get used to getting up earlier and so now I have myself convinced that this is an extra hour not previously given to me! Anyway, that wasn't the point of my little rant here... We get KBS International at home (Korea Broadcasting System - the BBC / ABC/NHK of Korea) and have been enjoying the Thursday / Friday night drama which was on at 2120. However this is not live and according to all the schedules I have seen, we shouldn't be seeing this drama at that time! It seems that someone here is recording off satellite and then rebroadcasting at times more suitable to us. That is fine, but now that daylight saving is over, so far this week, shows I enjoy have been playing one hour earlier... If they are rebroadcast, why are they now one hour earlier when the person rebroadcasting here could keep them at the same time! Do you get what I am ranting about? I hope so. Anyway, come Thursday, will our show be on at 2120 or 2020? Will it be on at all? In a life as dull as mine, these things matter! Another complication is that from 1915-2100 each day I watch NHK International (Japan) for the Sumo. If our drama is still on at 2120, then I can watch both. However if my friend here doing the rebroadcasts moves it to 2020, then I need to get someone else to tape the drama as I can't watch two satellite broadcasts at once.... To top things off, KBS International is not contactable here so I cannot simply ask, I just have to sit and hope....

The last thing before I go is about Sumo. I have to be a big supporter of the Korean wrestlers, of which there are three. My number one guy is having a terrible tournament. In fact Kasugaoo (Kim Seong Taek) is the only wrestler in the top division who has not had a win yet. He is 0-9 and with a nasty looking thigh injury he doesn't look like he will win anything. You have to give him credit for courage. Other guys have just pulled out, but his is soldiering on. I hope when they come to release the Banzuke for the Natsu Basho, they remember that he kept trying the whole tournament. That must count for something? The number two Korean guy, Kinryuzan pulled out before his first fight so that has been disappointing, but thankfully for Korean hopes the lowly ranked Yamada is 5-0 and so is the Seoul hope for Korean sumo ;) Sorry just had to put that in...... I will be watching Kasugaoo tonight, so let's hope he wins....

San Nakji for President!

Sannakji for President!

My first entry in the blog. Can I keep it up? What will I write about? I am thinking of a number of things that I am interested in. Languages, Korea, Rugby League, Sumo and other things that don't quite fit.... Let's see how I go!