Tag Archives: nude

Hurting Americans

Buffalo

Tonight, Trump is going to hurt his supporters. The trade exemptions for Canada and Mexico expire tonight, and he is imposing a 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminum. Our prime minister already announced that we will impose retaliatory tariffs on American products. And we are not alone. Mexico has announced that they will be imposing retaliatory tariffs as well along with Europe. Things are going to be more expensive for Americans now.

It’s not as if Americans haven’t already been hurt by Trump’s dumb economic policies. China is now buying more soy beans from Russia and Canada as retaliation for the US’s actions. This hurts Trump’s core supporters, the farm belt. Couple that with his immigration policies which leaves many American farmers unable to hire workers in their farms. Harley Davidson, which is already suffering losses since the company’s image has steadily become quite passé, will now be suffering under tariffs, both in the materials used to manufacture the bicycles as well as in exporting them to Europe and China.

There are a few times when I’m proud of Prime Minister Trudeau’s actions, but him standing up to the American bully is a proud moment. It is unjustifiable for Trump to threaten a trade war when countries would do better helping each other prosper. The NAFTA negotiations are taking too long? Sure. But isn’t preserving good business relations worth the wait? What’s the rush? Where is everyone going? Do these American politicians have something better to do? His explanation of protecting national security and helping US industries are nothing but hollow words he was asked to repeat. Ask Donald Trump for more meaningful explanations and you’ll get nothing but repetitive bluster. Why impose taxes on German cars for example? How would hurting car manufacturers help national security? Wouldn’t that hurt thousands of Americans employed and partnered with the German company? I know all of his friends are driven around in German cars and they bear the brunt of such tariffs, but what about everyone else?

The thing is there is no such thing as an art of the deal. None. Donald Trump is an awful negotiator. The only deals that worked out for him are deals that benefitted him personally. It never works out well for his partners. That is something that all banks in the United States learned about him prior to him being president. But sadly, his voters don’t care about all of this. They prefer a leader who talks to them like children, pausing for applause and to repeat lines… lines which are getting quite tired by mid-2018. Seriously, why rail against Hillary Clinton at this point? They prefer a leader who encourages them to be hateful to women and minorities, a grown man who still hasn’t learned how to be decent.

So yes, good on you, Mr. Prime Minister Trudeau! Retaliate. Hurt the Americans. Hurt the people who made Trump a foul omnipresent specter in the media, political, and social landscape. Hurt the people who would drag us all back to much darker times. In these negotiations, it is best to follow the China model. We cannot lose face to the Americans. And though I have no animus towards Americans in general (they are one of my favorite people), I’m so sick and tired of seeing their worst have it their way.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Where I Understand Suspicion Against Foreigners

Cass.jpg

The reason you don’t provoke North Korea is because you don’t want to give them any more incentives to build bombs. Everyone knows that the United States has the biggest military power in the history of mankind with a nuclear arsenal that could destroy the whole world multiple times. It is annoying to hear all of this tough talk against North Korea and appeasement, when the US’ mighty sword has not resolved clean victories and lasting peace in most of the conflicts it got involved in since the Vietnam War. Since Donald Trump got elected, he did nothing but casually hurl inflammatory rhetoric at North Korea and annoy US allies in the region. It is difficult not to argue that it has increased the North Korean zeal with its weapons program as well as encourage inflammatory rhetoric from the North as well.

It doesn’t matter if the US has the bigger bombs, or that it could mete out “fire and fury” at North Korea. Fire and fury has not resulted in the defeat of ISIS, despite Trump’s promise to rid of the group within days of his presidency. This is a ragtag guerilla group which the most advanced military might cannot seem to squash. Military victory is not gained purely on might alone. And the reason why South Korea is wise in being cautious with its approach with its neighbor is that not only would a war cause massive casualties and upend the rest of the eastern Asian region, it would also harm innocent North Koreans in the process. It’s not just because some North Koreans might be related to people in the South, but North Koreans are also human beings, people who have the right to live in peace.

And what is victory in a war with North Korea? A destroyed regime which will result in a power vacuum, perhaps resulting in an Asian version of ISIS? A humanitarian crisis with refugees fleeing the country? A ravaged South Korea and perhaps other major cities in Asia as well? A crippled China, one of the few countries with a growing economy that is fueling a significant portion of the world’s industries? It doesn’t sound like victory at all.

Talks of war against North Korea are gross and shortsighted. It would feel good to punch a fat bully in the teeth, but you don’t starve your neighbors and punch everyone else as well in the process. Most South Koreans don’t worry about nuclear war with the North. They’ve learned to live in the standoff. It is only the US’ rhetoric that is making things a whole lot worse and war with the North that much closer. The Koreas have already suffered countless of times due to foreign powers. This was way before the two Koreas were divided because of the US and the Soviet Union, the reason why South Koreans have traditionally looked at foreign influences with trepidation. Again, North and South Korea is being threatened due to the meddling of foreign influences.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Perils of French Realism

nude

After years of holding on to my old iPhone 4, I finally upgraded to an iPhone 6. I had the option to get the iPhone 6S but found it a little too big to be called a phone. It seemed more like a tablet and I feel like the bigger a phone gets, the more unwieldy it is, and the likelier I am to drop it.

I’m quite happy with the upgrade. It’s big enough to be able to read pdfs of magazines and comic books. I was quite an avid comic reader when I was younger, and this might get me back to reading graphic novels again. The screen is gorgeous, and pictures and artwork look great on it.

Unfortunately, last Friday, I was admiring the phone and testing it out on the bus. I happen to be looking at some historic paintings to set as my wallpaper, browsing through masterpieces with heavy contrasts, works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, then BOOM!… Gustave Courbet. For the uninitiated, Courbet was a French realist, most known for a particularly unorthodox and intimate portrait of Joanna Hifferman entitled, L’Origine du Monde. I will let you find that painting yourself.

Now stumbling on the masterpiece wouldn’t be so bad in itself. Unfortunately, a lady standing next to me saw the image as quickly as it appeared on my phone. Our eyes met for a moment by the reflection on the window. And as innocent an accident as it was, I felt as if I was caught committing a crime. She looked away, and I quickly put the phone in my coat pocket. That’s enough art browsing for now. What am I to do? I can’t explain myself to a stranger. That would make me appear more guilty. Of course, quickly hiding my phone makes me look guilty as well.

Two stops later, she gets off. I just gave that woman a story to tell her friends.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

That Was Different.

Burlesque

My wife and I saw a burlesque show with a friend over the weekend.  It was my first time seeing a burlesque show. I was never really keen to the idea since I really never understood the attraction. We have modern establishments now. We also have the Internet. What need is this fulfilling other than the curiosity for what burlesque is? I am familiar with the likes of Loie Fuller and how she was a pioneer back then. But we have long moved on, and I’m not sure modern burlesque acts are breaking any new grounds.

Then again, what do I know? I’ve only seen one show. Perhaps I’m only basing things on my caveman biases (though I challenge any caveman on their knowledge of Loie Fuller!).

The women that night were amateurs and had “real” bodies.  It wasn’t anything like Spearmint Rhino; otherwise my wife wouldn’t have been with us. It was quite artsy and not raunchy. I don’t think the acts were meant to be titillating at all. I’m not saying that as an offense to the performers, I just don’t believe that that was the goal.

It was a very interesting experience as a whole, something a little different to watch during drinks; however, I don’t understand what the women performers get out of it. I know people come to see it out of curiosity. Some locals might even think it’s a proper strip show since North American style strip shows are illegal here in South Korea. There was a group of guys out on a bachelor party that night, so maybe they were thinking that way. What an odd and artsy choice for a bachelor party!

But again, what about the women? What do they get out of it? It’s certainly not the money because there weren’t that many people watching. And I don’t imagine these women getting rich off of the act, otherwise they would be playing more regularly or have a better financial scheme. It could just be they’re showcasing their dancing skills because some of the acts were genuinely impressive. But some of the dances weren’t even that technical. Maybe it was some feminist, meta-empowerment thing… a sort of reclaiming of their sexuality of sorts, I don’t know.

Or maybe they’re just true artists. Maybe they’re performing because of the love for it. In a way, that makes them a little better than me because sometimes I hate drawing.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Huh… Indecent Proposal?!

beaver

If you could lend your wife to prostitution for a night for a million dollars, would you do it? This is the cornerstone to which ‘Indecent Proposal,’ based on a Jack Engelhard novel, built its hour and forty minute story. I decided to go back and watch the movie after realizing it’s one of those 90s movies I’ve often heard about but was too young to ever care about watching. I believe I was too busy with comic books and video games at the time. So on a Thursday morning I decided to go back to a time when Demi Moore was still quite the vixen on the silver screen.

It didn’t start out well for me. The over-reliance on voice-over narration was a bit of a turn off. You have players on screen! Have them act it out for me. It felt like the movie was rushing for me to get caught up in what the filmmakers couldn’t afford to film. The audience was told how things were instead of being given a proper movie narrative. So by the time things got heated and characters faced their moral dilemma, I wasn’t really too invested to actually care.

But to be honest, I don’t really think the couple, David and Diana Murphy, (David played by Woody Harrelson) didn’t really have too much of a problem with the million dollar proposal made by billionaire John Gage (played by dreamy-eyed, Kennedy-esque Robert Redford). They had one restless evening and off to Gage’s office they go to accept the offer. It was almost a throwback to how prostitution was sometimes dealt with by the wide-eyed 80s, much like ‘Pretty Woman.’

What I have to note however is that contracts which compel parties to perform illegal acts are not legally binding. “Indecent proposals” are illegal in many states, so one might think it weird that a lawyer was involved in arranging the movies’ infamous dalliance. Prostitution is still illegal in Las Vegas, although it is permitted for counties with a small enough population. Even then, legal prostitution occurs under licensed brothels. I doubt if any licensing was covered under the hasty agreement, though articles covering impotence was covered. In any case, if they were caught, I’m sure Diana and John (how subtle!) would’ve only been served with a misdemeanor.

Going back to the film, I felt that the whole movie was rushed, not for wanting it to be longer, but it seems that characters moods and motivations just completely shift on a whim. It wasn’t terribly convincing. There are no build-ups and no believable reactions to things which would otherwise blow a normal person’s mind. I could’ve spent two hours on a different movie about a man dealing with his wife prostituting herself for one night, the mental gymnastics he has to go through. And what about the mental gymnastics Diana has to go through? It seems like she got over it in a day.

I haven’t read any reviews, but I’m sure feminists were up in arms over the movie. The casual treatment of prostitution, treating Diana like an object to trade, and Diana’s almost casual treatment of all the events, and later her falling in-love with her john must’ve been terribly problematic for feminists. It was problematic for me as well, but I felt that all this casual and almost naive treatment of sex and sex trade was again a reflection of the times. It still felt like an 80s movie. But despite its sins, it’s still a more mature and cynical look at the sex trade than ‘Pretty Woman’ was (but that doesn’t say much). And speaking of the 80s, the law office scene with the two screenwriter clients was so 80s that the only thing missing was the funky bass line.

I couldn’t finish this without mentioning how implausible it was to have John Gage, a billionaire who looks like Robert Redford, have trouble finding women, so much so that he has to spend a million dollars per night on other men’s wives. While I don’t blame him on spending money on Demi Moore, I probably would as well if I had the money, but I suspect that the movie makers were either saying A. money doesn’t buy affection, or B. rich men buy affection all the time!

The ending was terribly predictable. It speaks about looking at what you have and returning to what you have left behind, much like the way Paolo Coelho structured his novel The Alchemist. But again, this is a sin I’m willing to forgive. The movie was a product of its time. And during that time, we were willing to have this in our theaters. We were willing to have predictable endings and implausible plots on screen in order to pass time. Sometimes they work to a comedic effect, like Weekend at Bernie’s, and sometimes they work to drive home a sappy message. If you love someone, set them free.

It was good to see Demi Moore when I believe she was at her most attractive. I didn’t find her convincing at all, but I was willing to forgive that as long as she looked good on screen. Misogyny, I know. Woody Harrelson was alright, but I feel like he’s played this part so many times, and for some reason, I wasn’t buying him as Demi Moore’s husband. As for Robert Redford playing a billionaire, he was alright. There was nothing too exciting about him, except that much like Demi, he was candy on screen.

Should people see the movie if they missed it? Probably not. I doubt if they would stumble to any hidden truths about love, life, and laws regarding prostitution. Still, if you are bored on a Thursday morning, there are far worse things you can do than spend your time finding out where the term “indecent proposal” originated from.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Naughty Nudes English Class

Thirtieth_strip

I was talking to someone who teaches English here in South Korea. She teaches adults; late twenties to early fifties. I’m amazed at how she describes these adult ESL classes, with some students being petulant and difficult, and teachers needing to “handle naughty students.”

Naughty? Petulant? How exactly do you “handle” an adult in class? I was really surprised because the behavior being described to me sounds more like something out of an elementary or middle school class, not from a room full of adults who by now I assume have developed a fair bit of empathy (not just for the other students in class but also for the instructor who’s just trying to get it through the hour). I have taught before. I taught children and adults alike and I found that the few times I taught a small class of adults, it was actually enjoyable. It’s never the stressful hell I hear from teachers.

But what cause this behavior among grown adults? In university, I’ve never witnessed a situation where someone in class was being difficult. I imagine if that was the case, other students would police the class because they are there to learn as well. I’ve taken Korean classes in the country before. While the room is filled with western students, if someone was being difficult, it wasn’t to the extent that it would case stress to the instructor. It would often be someone needing more assistance, not someone being disruptive. What I hear from adult ESL teachers is sometimes surprising (and in one case, a student abusing another student).

Is it the whole I’m-older-and-I-get-to-talk-down-to-whomever culture? Is it the feeling of privilege that comes from paying for someone to be in a room? (You’re here to entertain us.) Is it students acting out due to stress? Is it bad teaching?

ESL is big business in the country. And unfortunately, Native English teachers are sometimes given the role of babysitting the nation’s children instead of teaching them English. But who can blame young children? Sometimes the foreign face in the room is the first one they’ve ever seen in their life, and they don’t know how to act, much less treat them as authority figures or instructors. But how do you explain babysitting some adults?

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Lightning Alley

beer

Writing poetry…

The bead curtain rattles, Sally’s skirt sways.
She does a jig on the porch like I was hallucinating
As the CD player plays.
Bob Dylan rambles about the depressed,
He sounds like he’s singing about me, and I only want Sally.
Don’t send me back to my apartment,
I don’t want to watch Frasier re-runs tonight.
Don’t go inside as well,
You know exactly why I came here.
I know you’re terrified and know
That you’re almost forty
But you should believe in this drug that I’m on.
You’re not that pretty but you would do,
And that’s okay for the time being.
You can cower in your blankie
And cross-examine whatever’s making you ill
And you can make ornaments out of your exes,
Throw daisies when it’s pouring out,
Wasting your holiday break praying
For some decent fellow to come out of the neighborhood
I’m not that guy, everyone knows
All I could offer is my mediocre body
Underneath this sweat-stained hoodie
With the small likelihood that we could live to retirement
But what else is there?
Just open the window wide open
And let the Saskatchewan air mess up your hair.
Tonight is full of possibilities
And the road in front of your house goes both ways
We only have one chance in our lives
So ditch everything and get inside my Dodge Stratus.
Can we hold hands? I could drive one-handed.
We’re going to the land of Abraham
Via Lightning Alley
It’s right there, like John Wayne Gacy at large.
The clock says 2:00 am but we should book it.
Via Lightning Alley. Let’s go.
Via Lightning Alley.

Of course this is all a goof. I submitted this to a poetry Webzine, wondering whether they’d catch it or not. But now I don’t know… maybe they like Bruce Springsteen too.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Misogyny Time!

Female_Artists

Calm down! The strip is supposed to be humorous. And yes, there’s quite a few female artists there to which you can play a drinking game with.

Drink once when you hear “femininity.”

Drink once when you hear “sexuality.”

Drink twice if you spot an odd fashion accessory.

Drink twice if she makes art which involve her self-portraits.

Drink thrice if the images she incorporates are nudes of herself.

Drink thrice if she uses the word “goddess.”

Finish the drink if the artist gets nude during her performance.

Maybe I’m a really bad artist. I’m not sure. But I find that female artists can afford to be “bad” artists far longer than men because people (men) will pay attention to them far longer and encourage them more. Male artists command less patience for their bullshit. And that’s the key: patience. People will be more patient when women make art and talk about femininity, sexuality, etc. But when a man does it, coupled with mediocre art, people will just tune out and move right along.

And no, I don’t hate women nor do I dislike female artists. There’s quite a few female artists that I admire. (The “I have black friends” defense!) It’s just that now and then, what I see on the wall and what I hear from the artist get downright predictable.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements