Archive for August, 2009

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Burst for Glory

August 30, 2009

Hmm, my last post has me fearing I have a slight problem with brevity. I need to embrace more fully the practices of what esteemed British comic book writer Warren Ellis calls the “burst culture“.

No time like the present.

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Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

August 30, 2009

I know I’m late with this. I’m late as all hell but this movie thoroughly raped my brain over a sustained period of two and a half hours and I think the experience left me somewhat traumatized in the two months since its release. It also completely obliterated a plan I had to write up a slightly ironic apologetic on Michael Bay.

Let’s get this out of the way immediately; I really liked Transformers. I thought they pretty much nailed the first film and I say that as someone who was big into the characters/toys as a kid. I still have a lot of fun watching the feature-length, animated Transformers: The Movie from 1986 (I remember my grandfather taking me to see it when I was six, a truly fucking epic afternoon) but I understood fully with the first Michael Bay film that to be some kind of fanwank fanatic upset about minor character changes would be truly pathetic. The film franchise is based on a cartoon that was only ever made to promote a line of Japanese action figures. It’s a movie based on a toy line, putting it in roughly the same artistic ballpark as the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (movies based on a theme park ride). I was fully aware of this and set my sights accordingly when going into Transformers in the summer of 2007 and it delivered. An effective dose of Michael Bay’s idiosyncrasies seemed tempered by the sagely advice and steady hand of producer/overseer Steven Spielberg who focused the movie on the idea of it being about “a boy and his first car”. Some people I spoke to around the time of its release reacted negatively to it and that has always puzzled me. Given that the premise of Transformers is that a race of giant robots from outer space (comprised of both an inherently noble and benevolent faction and an evil and villainous faction) arrive on Earth and resume their millennia-long war whilst routinely disguising themselves as exciting terrestrial vehicles, I often wondered exactly what kind of movie people were expecting in the first place. Let’s be clear, movies about martial arts battles in virtual worlds or super-powered mutants are vastly more plausible and sophisticated than Transformers. The whole idea is daft from the get-go. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Eerie Taeji People Festival

August 20, 2009

The ETPFest is a Korean music festival founded and curated by the legendary Korean rock star, Seo Taeji. This year’s event swiftly came to my attention when I walked past a poster showing Nine Inch Nails were on the bill as part of their “Wave Goodbye” farewell tour. Also playing were Keane and Limp Bizkit. The former I have little to no interest in, the latter I would normally approach with much well-deserved derision. My only concern was to see NIN (possibly my last chance to do so).

The event took place in the Jamsil Stadium on August 15th and the online information had advised us to get there early. My wife and I arrived at 11.30am and found ourselves in the midst of what felt like the hottest day of the year. Under considerable amounts of strain we made our way around the stadium to see where everything was. A Korean pub chain called Wa Bar was selling chilled Miller Genuine Draft in paper cups for 4000 won. Normally I don’t go anywhere near the filthy stuff but, owing to the maddening heat and the fact that it was the coldest drink available, it was amongst the nicest beer I’ve ever had. There were also small scaffold rigs (I lack the knowledge to accurately describe these things) set up that held shower jets to spray a fine mist of cold water on people. One was set up as a kind of archway which people queued to walk underneath and a larger one was set up to the size of a small dance floor for people to huddle under until they cooled down. As the lesser-known support bands played (Fade, GumX, Pia and Boom Boom Satellites) we spent a great deal of time out of the sun, huddled in the concrete entranceway of the stadium with lots of Korean folk who were also struggling with the early afternoon heat. Scores of people lay around on the ground like bedraggled refugees, fanning themselves and munching on kimbap. Read the rest of this entry ?

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K-Pop Korner: Dong Bang Shin Gi

August 1, 2009

Dong Bang Shin Gi have been around for 6 years which, in Korean showbiz terms, makes them elder statesmen of the K-Pop scene. Although they no longer seem to be as “hot” with the kids compared to more recent acts like Big Bang and Son Yeo Shi Dae, the boy band can boast of overseas success in Japan, China and throughout South East Asia. They also happen to have one of the cooler names in Koren pop music. “Dong Bang Shin Gi” translates as “the gods will rise in the east”. They are also known as TVXQ, an acronym for Tong Vfang Xien Qi, a fully Sinicized version of their name by which they are more commonly known throughout Asia.

When I first arrived in Korea in August 2005, these guys were the shit. All the K-Pop teeny-boppers loved them. A year later I would get looks of disgusted befuddlement when I asked my students if they liked DBSG, such is the way with teenagers. However, I have decided to champion Dong Bang Shin Gi, having discovered that these lads might just be the most controversial band in Korea. Read the rest of this entry ?