Monthly Archives: March 2015

Wrong!

Kuntoy

The most vulgar-sounding brand for a toy ever. “Buster cube” doesn’t help either. I wonder if no English speaker in the company ever pointed this out.

My wife and I went to a local toy convention called the ‘Kidult Expo.’ It was interesting, a little something different to do on a Saturday. But compared to North American counterparts, it was quite lackluster. There were many things on display, but most of the stuff that’s for sale are mostly items that are already available out in stores… and in Korea’s case, bookstores and department stores. I gave my wife fifty dollars. We were both to spend fifty dollars each on items that will probably just take up space in our tiny apartment. We left the convention with no money spent.

I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it’s cultural. We went to a comic convention in Winnipeg a couple of years ago, and that convention beats out the convention last weekend in terms of the amount and variety of commerce as well as excitement. I don’t think the organizers or even some of the businesses managing the booths know how to properly run a fun convention. I even saw a booth for life insurance, facial treatment, and credit cards. And amazingly, people were checking them out.

Downstairs from the toy convention is a comic book convention running at the same time. These are mostly kids making and marketing their own comic books, posters, and other paraphernalia. It’s more “creative,” and there are more opportunities to see products not sold anywhere else. But there’s a distinct high school feel to the whole thing, and I definitely could feel my age. Also, the whole manga aesthetic is a blur to me. The characters all start to look the same regardless if it’s a Korean or Japanese artist.

Taekwon_V

This is probably the most interesting thing in the convention for me. I should start buying cheap art and putting robots in them.

SpiderMan

The saddest battle scenario ever

Cosplay

I’m out. I don’t recognize anyone here.

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AIDS for Cancer

contortionist

I saw the VICE News report on new cancer treatment recently. I have to say; some things about VICE turn me off. I believe some pieces on VICE are being “edgy” just for edginess’ sake and really have no redeeming value.  But overall, VICE News is amazing. They do wonderful journalism and are not hindered by the news media’s myopic attention on issues. I’m so glad that they’re now on HBO. While the Internet is more popular than traditional media, it helps to get the show out there on TV screens for people who don’t even know what VICE is.

I remember when I was twelve and I was reading about Taxol on LIFE Magazine and how it was the miracle drug that could wipe cancer off the planet. While many cancer patients’ lives were prolonged by Taxol, it wasn’t the miracle drug that the magazine article made it out to be. People still died from many forms of cancer. Along with the lack of a reliable cure for cancer, treatment was still expensive, and the chemicals and radiation would often harm patients just as much as the cancer would.

The use of viruses to treat cancer looks very exciting. It’s heartwarming to see the patients in the documentary basically snatched from death’s door and given new hope, even new cancer-free lives. It is a shame however that much of the research still struggles to find funding. It is a shame that so much money is being spent on other useless things instead of helping find a cure to deadly diseases. There’s so much brainpower and genius wasted on products that don’t really help humanity in comparison. I don’t care much about the new Apple watch. I care more about using the AIDS virus to kill cancer cells. How about we all pool our collective intellects and resources to solving that one problem for a year? I wonder how far we could go.

While the documentary makes me feel hopeful for the future, in many ways, it depresses me as well. What have I done with my life? How come I’m not helping cure cancer? How come I’m not putting money out there for cancer research? Maybe I should start putting my money where my mouth is. We should all be invested in this. It’ll affect us one way or another.

I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer years ago. She was misdiagnosed by a careless physician for months, and by the time they confirmed it was pancreatic cancer, she only had a few months to live. Perhaps if she had been diagnosed earlier, she might still be alive today. Or perhaps if more people cared about curing cancer…

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A Little Less Conversation

Irony

I have come to realize that there are some people I could only speak to in short bursts. Anything more, and they start to annoy me, I annoy them, or we get into a dumb argument. The chances of conversations going sour get even higher during drinks. I’ve learned to be really careful with these people. I don’t speak much and I avoid drinking with them as much as possible, all to preserve our relationship. It’s like an amalgamation of two clichés: cruel to be kind and absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s absence to be kind.

I always thought of myself as a bit of a raconteur. I deal with language, and a part of my job is talking to people and getting them to open up about things. So being impatient with people could only mean two things. Either I don’t have much patience for what the other person has to say, or I really don’t care much about being around that person.

I have fallen in love with This American Life. I find myself listening to old shows. And despite being dated, I still learn a few things on many topics.

I listen to Howard Stern quite a bit. He is a great entertainer and interviewer. I’ve been a fan for years and I’ve mourned the passing of Eric the Midget and miss the colorful commentary of Artie Lange. When Howard retires, I know there will be great big hole in my life. But lately, I’ve been listening more to This American Life. While the Howard Stern Show is great entertainment, I feel like I’m not learning much. Of course, if I really wanted to learn a lot via audio, I could be listening to Korean language tapes in order to learn how to speak Korean. I just feel that This American Life is a good middle-ground between the pure entertainment that is the Stern show and the strictly bitter pill that are the language tapes.

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On Ancient Cases of Fellatio

Nelson_Shanks

Love the talent but hate the person, that’s exactly how I feel about Nelson Shanks. In a world where people make art careers without even knowing how to draw accurately, he maintains the (arguably) unfashionable tradition of academic painting. Just looking at his Website, it is amazing that such a talent still lives and breathes and creates magnificent work. It is like the work of a man taken out of the Renaissance; wonderful and beautiful paintings. The man has more talent that many artists could ever hope to have.

This is why this whole business with the Bill Clinton is all the more disappointing. In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily, he reveals that he’s hidden references to Monica Lewinsky in Bill Clinton’s portrait which was destined to be hung at the National Portrait Gallery. He said that he found the former President’s lie offensive and that the affair was a shadow to the Clinton presidency. He was quoted saying that the 42nd President was “the most famous liar of all time.”

clinton_shanks

How obnoxious is that?

Now, I enjoy putting hidden messages and allusions not just in my work but also in the works I see and follow. But Shanks just put his own personal politics in what is meant to be an apolitical peace, lied about it during the process, and missed the irony throughout the whole thing. And what was so unforgivable; the former President’s extramarital affair, something which is a personal matter that his family appears to have moved beyond from? The hidden “humor” is crass, misplaced, and really should not be brought up now since everyone has already moved past it. Poor Monica Lewinsky deserves a life past her youthful indiscretions.

Regarding shadows to someone’s presidency, I think the big shadow in the Clinton presidency is their relationship with the banks and how they deregulated them. It is an overbearing cloud that still haunts the world to this day.  And as for lies, I think the biggest lies are the ones that cause the most lives. George Bush and Dick Cheney got American into an unnecessary war. It cost thousands of military and civilian casualties and created a quagmire which Barrack Obama perpetuates.  How’s that for a shadow over someone’s presidency?

The shadow of that dress is not that overwhelming in comparison.

A part of me thinks the whole thing is just a cry for attention. I wonder if setting up a dress to cast shadow during the painting process even truly happened. Shanks claims the Clintons have been trying to get the portrait taken down from the National Portrait Gallery, but representatives from the gallery deny this and the Clintons apparently couldn’t care less. If this was a cry for attention, it really is quite sad because the man is amazingly talented and shouldn’t need to court the raving right wing in order to get attention.

I don’t mind politics in art. I think it’s the artist’s job to tell truths in their work. And should it be in the realm of politics, then so be it. But harping at the Clintons regarding an old scandal just seems petty and ridiculous. And in the end, what message is the artist truly trying to say? I think it speaks more about the artist’s narrow minded politics than anything else.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just my progressive leanings, but I don’t think conservatives make for good messengers in art. I haven’t seen any good examples. There are some good technical artists out there; but most of the time, the work just comes off looking bizarre, hateful, hypocritical, and deeply misinformed.

one_nation_under_God_blasphemy

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Dead Strangers

motivated

I was reading a great obituary over the weekend. It was tragic, but inspiring. It was of this young lady who devoted so much of her life to charity, so much of her life to helping others. It’s really sad, but she was one of those people whose life Lao Tzu was referring to when he talks about flames that burn bright but burn half as long. (http://www.macleans.ca/society/life/jennifer-joy-logan-1982-2015/) Though younger than me, she probably helped more people in her short life than I ever did… than I ever will. I was and am not as generous as she was. And for that I do feel a tremendous amount of shame and regret.

The beauty of such obituaries (and no, I don’t often read strangers’ obituaries) is that not only do they celebrate a person’s life, but they also inspire others. Perhaps they push others to be more grateful for what they have, enjoy the moment more, or in this particular young lady’s case, be kinder to others. It is like the one last good the departed could do, to inspire and teach.

Speaking of death and remembrances, I watched the documentary about Vivian Maier over the weekend.  (http://www.vivianmaier.com/) What a fascinating life! Her works are amazing. It’s such a shame that she didn’t push harder for them to be shown while she was still alive. Of course, the woman was suffering from some mental illness, the film made sure to explore that aspect of her life, but it doesn’t remove the fact that she was an utter genius who had an eye, not just for light and composition, but for human drama.

Again, the documentary, even the current interest in her life and work, serve as form of obituary, a tribute to an artist that was almost forgotten. And while the first obituary I was talking about was about a life of charity and giving, Vivian’s was a life that appears she never wanted to be shared.  She was never particularly kind. In fact, some of the children she cared for described her to be cruel. But she was relentless in her art, and in it, her humanity blossomed. It’s as if what she lacked as a participant, she made up for as keen observer. And what she saw was beautiful.

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