Monthly Archives: July 2013

Brick Games

Winnipeg_skyline

Did a bit of exploring over the weekend. I went out to the Russian district, pet market, and flea market district. It was an interesting afternoon of sampling Russian fare, getting depressed at the sight of animals sold by the bulk, and getting lost in nostalgia at the site of people’s wares (and also wondering “who the heck buys these things?”). One thing in particular brought back memories of 1992.

Brick Game

Brick game, a Gameboy rip-off that played Tertris and other versions of the puzzle game, as well as the earliest version of the “snake” mobile game. I remember borrowing these from my friends because my parents thought it was a waste of time and would hurt our studies, so they never bought us one. I played enough Nintendo at home as it is; I didn’t need a video game to carry around. This was what everyone played if their parents didn’t want to spend $200 to get them a proper Gameboy. It was also the cheap game that crossed boundaries the same way the Nintendo Wii did. I remember my grandmother had one of these and was obsessed with matching falling bricks.

Luckily, my uncle gave us Gameboy as the Tetris-craze died down, just in time for Mario, etc. Pokémon became popular around 1994, but by that time, I was too old for the cutesy game.

Growing up, we didn’t have too many video games. We either borrowed games from friends or just lived without it. There was always an arcade nearby, but I didn’t waste money in them. I could already hear my mother tell me how foolish it would be to waste money on a game that I’m not even good at. My parent’s bought us the first NES. They didn’t get us the SNES. I had to scrimp and save before I could buy a Sega Genesis. They got us the first Playstation, and we had a PC that was capable of playing popular games at the time, but everything else I remember I had to get myself. I bought a Dreamcast from a pawn shop, traded in games, skipped on some that I simply couldn’t afford, etc.

I guess it’s this love of games and the early experience of having-but-not-really-having, that makes it interesting to me now even as a grown man. That, plus it offers a more immersive experience that just simply watching the television. I count myself lucky that I managed to find a wonderful wife who shares the same love for video games as well. She also shares the same experience of growing up and not owning one of these brick games.

It took me a couple of minutes before I could walk away and not make a very foolish purchase.

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Big City, Small City, Google Myself

hobo

I miss Canada. Not just Canada, but the whole suburban Canadian lifestyle: a lawn to move, a driveway to shovel, a basement to renovate, garage, driving downtown to work, having space for a big dog, getting to know the elderly neighbors… basically live in a small city where life is a little slower and nights are spent in the patio with a cool beer.

I mention this to my wife and she just says, “I want to stay in a big city.” Whoosh! there goes that dream!

Googling one’s name is not really advisable. For one, it’s quite indulgent, but also it could reveal some harsh truths about a person’s standing in cyberspace (or at least that person’s name). I succumbed to curiosity and decided to Google my own name. While I did find my Website on the results, I was disappointed to find that on images, most of the Joseph Reyeses in the world are posing for police photos. I guess us Joseph Reyeses have to step it up a notch and do some Web-worthy good deeds or something. Or at the very least, try not to pose for police photos.

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Trayvon Martin and Not Belonging

American_Virgin

In an attempt to educate myself, become a better Canadian, and wean myself from reading fiction, I’ve been reading books on law and justice issues lately. While most of the stuff I read is based on Canadian law and Aboriginal issues, I’m also interested in current issues on the south side of the border. One of the issues that I’ve been following since last year was the case on the killing of Trayvon Martin. I’m glad that people last year protested and the media picked it up (thanks to people like Charles M. Blow http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/13/opinion/blow-the-sadness-lingers.html?ref=charlesmblow and Al Sharpton), otherwise the killer might have not even been arrested and put to trial.

Sadly, the trial and the verdict is all different shades of disappointment. The accused, Mr. Zimmerman, was not tried as a murderer, an inept, racist, neighborhood watch wannabe, who was just itching for an excuse to use his gun on a person. Instead, the procedure focused on trying the victim, a seventeen year-old kid who was gunned down for dressing like a “gangsta” while buying skittles and ice tea. The accused was found innocent of all charges, but what was equally important was the subtext, that the victim was guilty, and that he somehow was responsible for his own demise. The defense painted a picture of extremes, from a pot-smoking, wannabe gangster thug, to a super-villain who somehow “weaponized the sidewalk.” Ridiculous.

Legally, what matters is not what really happened, but what you can prove happened in court. And in the end, there’s not much that one can do but live with the verdict. (There are talks about a future federal case against Zimmerman, but with Eric Holder’s justice system, I’m not holding my breath. Also, ahem…federal prosecutors, what about all of the bankers that held the world hostage?) It just amazes me however at the biases that were allowed in the process, from the biased testimony of the police department, to the unnecessary shaming of the witnesses. It was truly a circus.

And while I’m not sure if I would’ve rejoiced if the verdict went the other way, I’m quite surprised at the amount of rejoicing that people have expressed at the innocent verdict. A child was gunned down. Not everything has to be a political issue. While this might have consequences regarding the right to carry guns, stand your ground rights, etc., not everything is about “crazy liberals” vs. “crazy conservatives.” A child is dead. Fine, rejoice over the “freedom” to carry your guns and to defend yourself or whatever, but what about the freedom to dress however you want? Or the freedom to buy candy while being black?

There’s not much to be said that hasn’t already been said, but what hits home to me is something similar to what Rich Benjamin wrote in a recent article in Salon (http://www.salon.com/2013/07/14/how_power_works_in_america/), that certain people will always have to justify their presence to Caucasians. It’s similar to the whole “Yes, yes, I know you’re Canadian, but really, where are you from?” Why do we always have to justify our being, our color and what we are, to counter people’s assumptions? And while it just occasionally bothers me as slight racism and ignorance whenever it happens to me, for people like Trayvon Martin, assumptions that they don’t belong has lead to lethal consequences. That’s why it’s extremely idiotic for privileged stooges like Geraldo Rivera to say that it is self defense for people to shoot hoodie-wearing strangers (http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/david/geraldo-rivera-jury-would-have-shot-trayvon-). I’m sure that the litmus test that justifies shooting black people is roughly the same as shooting those of Latin American descent. What if any of his relations listened to hip-hop, wore a black hoodie, and went out to buy candy on a rainy day? Now people would say that the accused and Geraldo Rivera are both not Caucasian and the case is not about race, but in the division of blacks and whites, I believe that both Geraldo and Zimmerman identify as white, and even if they don’t, Latin American communities as in any other communities are not immune from having their prejudices against black people.

Racism isn’t dead. The Obama election doesn’t mean much when it comes to the experiences people deal with in real life. Minorities still get profiled and arrested at higher rates than Caucasians. They are still presumed not to belong. They are still presumed to be dangerous. It is sad, but the verdict just encourages people to go out there and justify killing the minute they start losing a fight, especially against minorities who happened to look intimidating. It’s called precedent, ladies of the jury.

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Clubbing?

problems

Had visitors from out of town over the weekend. They were a bit younger than us and part of the itinerary was clubbing. “Clubbing.” Hadn’t done that in a while. Even before I got married, once I started going out with my future wife, the whole club scene lost its appeal to me. There was a period where I used to go to clubs quite often, that period was when people considered me “young.” But since I started almost going everywhere with my wife, clubbing is pointless. What I am doing going to a club with a woman? It’s like going to a restaurant but bringing a sandwich along. And not just that, bringing a sandwich that some stranger will inevitably grind with his crotch the minute I go get a drink or go to the bathroom.

Anyway, it was interesting watching the human drama. Guys dancing by themselves to late 90s hip-hop, a drunken idiot with a police whistle thinking he’s life of the party not knowing he’s the reason people are leaving after their first drink, men and women in their forties trying to look like young thirties. There are really no unique experiences here that people have not heard about, been warned about, or made fun of. But everyone, including myself, go and tell ourselves that tonight will be different. There is something new here, and that I am new and unique; I’ve come here for different reasons and I’m different from the rest. I’m not the attention-deprived woman grasping at the last seconds of my youth. I’m not the greasy guy hoping that the alcohol, darkness, and dehydration would increase my chances to get laid. I’m not the cynical guy watching all of these things unfold and secretly hoping that I’m a part of it. That’s why there not really much to tell here, because I’m sure most people have experienced and witnessed the same things. Still it was fun, even for a moment.

The only problem is coming home in the wee morning hours and basically making myself jet-lagged without going anywhere.

And yes, I went exactly nowhere.

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Canada Day, Etc.

Canadian_Virgin

Oh Canada! Happy Canada Day! Canada has been one of the best things that ever happened in my life. The country is not perfect, I learned that a lot in the past couple of years ever since I started studying more about Canada. And we Canadians have many problems that we need to work on for our future, to keep the country the way it is and not just be a colder version of our neighbors in the south (I’m looking at you, Harper). But despite everything, Canada has been one of the greatest good that I’ve been lucky enough to be blessed with. The country educated me and helped me grow up to be a man, gave me the greatest friends in the world, comforted my mother in her dying days, and generally just made me a better person. Even though I don’t live in Canada at the moment, my heart will always be there. Right now, I live in South Korea, but Canada will always be home.

Log_driver

Last Thursday was my birthday. One of my best friend’s birthday was the day after. Alan. I called him yesterday. We both had pretty low-key birthdays. I guess when you’re older, birthdays don’t matter so much anymore. You see it for what it is: time passing. It was good talking to him though. I haven’t seen him in years, but every time we walk on the phone it’s like high school all over again. Good times.

Winnipeg_Jets

Back in 2008, I was in the city when a man in a Greyhound bus bound for Winnipeg was beheaded by a mentally deranged individual who claimed he heard voices from God. He was found guilty for reason of insanity, and is now being held in a mental institution. Fast forward to this weekend, a morning show in Korea caught the story, had it re-enacted, and instead of just presenting facts, it chose to highlight how the incident was reminiscent and could be caused by the “Windigo” phenomenon, hinting that evil Windigos could perhaps exist up north.They also made it appear like the attacker was set free after the verdict (and in cinematic idiocy, both the prosecution and the defense were acting all confused at the not guilty verdict). The whole spin was taken from an article in the Edmonton Sun, a tabloid. Ugh! And it was based on the opinion of Nathan Carlson, “one of the leading authorities on the Windigo phenomenon.” UGH! They just unwittingly turned the incident into a cartoon for the entertainment of Koreans overseas.

Seriously though, it got me thinking. If I was the only one in the world trying to make science out of legends, does that make me a “leading authority” in the matter? What if I just made up a legend about alien vampire flamingos, wrote a paper about it, and perhaps connected it to some recent tragedy… does that make what I do dumb or evil?

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