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Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Subject:Angels & Demons (2009)
Time:5:32 am.
Angels & Demons (2009) ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0808151/ )
Directed by: Ron Howard (The Da Vinci Code, Cinderella Man, A Beautiful Mind, Far and Away)
IMDB rating: 7.0/10 3,669 votes

Angels & Demons is based on Dan Brown's book of the same name. My experience with Dan Brown's writing comes from a college literature course, in which we read Brown's book The Da Vinci Code as part of the course's religion theme. While I haven't heard Angels & Demons, it's fairly obvious from the film adaptation that the book follows a similar format to The Da Vinci Code. In fact, the two books share the same protagonist - Robert Langdon.

Robert Langdon is a professor of 'symbology'. There's very little character development into who Robert Langdon is and what drives him, and given the layout of Brown's narratives, it's not really important. Langdon is simply an Indiana Jones figure (The Da Vinci Code actually says he resembles Harrison Ford) in pursuit of some truth regarding some secret religious society. That's the basic plot of both The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.

The Da Vinci Code involves the pursuit of The Holy Grail. Angels & Demons is the pursuit of the Illuminati (or, rather, the pursuit to stop them). The plots of both are fast-paced, with Langdon rushing around and staying at each location only long enough to solve the puzzle that tells him which famous church/monument he needs to be at next. Brown covers enough monuments that there are actually tours that retrace the journey in his books. And when I was in the Louvre, the tour guide actually made references to The Da Vinci Code.

If you like Brown's narrative style of rushing to and from historical monuments with plenty of passing historical references all wrapped around a fictitious, secret religious society, Angels & Demons will probably be a worthwhile watch (or read). I found the numerous speeches in the film about harmony between science and religion to be silly. The film's treatment of the church is quite pedestrian. Dan Brown and Ron Howard are no Pasolini. I'm sure a lot of care went into making sure not to offend Catholics; as someone that finds the Catholic Church to be anachronistic, I think they deserve a little more criticism.

Overall: harmless, fast-paced tourist trip around the Vatican and Rome. Despite the historical references, there's really no substance here.

4/10
Comments: Read 4 orAdd Your Own.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Subject:WTF LJ!
Time:12:32 am.
WTF. Is LJ having some weird userpic database issues? My userpic changed from the goat to some hockey picture. Would be weird if someone hax0red my LJ account just to change my userpic... I'll just leave it as is and see if the issue resolves itself. If not, I'll change it to something else.

So, I got a PlayStation 3 not too long ago, and I haven't really used it much. One interesting feature is that they have this PlayStation Store you can access. You can buy/rent movies/tv shows, etc for download. You can buy old PlayStation 1 games as well. I can't help but feel that there's a lot of wasted potential here. Why not offer streaming TV shows/movies through it, like Hulu? The only people that would use it would be the younger audience, which means marketers could be certain their ads are going straight to the demographic that they want them to.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Subject:Gothic Americana?!
Time:11:34 am.
I like hunting down new obscure music. Today, I've discovered a genre I've never heard about or even considered: Gothic Americana. There's not really much about it on its Wikipedia page even. Strangely, it seems this Gothic Americana genre emerged out of Denver, Colorado, of all places.

Tarantella seems decent out of the couple songs I've heard so far. Reminds me of the Italian neofolk/dark cabaret band Ianva but with more of a gothic and alt-country vibe.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Subject:Da police
Time:2:59 pm.
The road I drive to and from class has two school zones. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I happen to drive down it when school is getting out and the speed limit is 25. During that time, this road becomes the most heavily patrolled road I've ever seen. There's usually at least one patrol car for each school zone, and it's fairly common for me to see someone pulled over at each one while driving home. I make absolutely certain I never go over 25mph while those school zone lights are flashing.

It seems to be a smart idea on the part of the local police department. They can probably give out heavier fines for speeding in a school zone, and I'd much rather they make money off fining people speeding in school zones than trying to catch people going a few miles over the speed limit on the interstate. Judging from how many people I see pulled over in these school zones, it's probably easier for them to get people as well.
-----

Brooklyn package is in Columbia! It's been scanned twice while in Columbia, the last of which happened at 7:18am. I'm hoping it gets delivered some time this afternoon. Other package is in Greensboro, North Carolina. I guess it'll probably get here Monday.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Time:11:10 pm.
It's 11:10 and the same people have been in the lab since 9:30. This is not a library. Go do Facebook and Myspace in another lab.

Hate these people so much.

EDIT (12:48am):

The package that was in New Castle, Delaware then went to Newark, Delaware, and an hour and a half later it was in Laurel, Maryland.

Brooklyn package is still in Brooklyn. Give me an update US Postal Service! UPS is pwning you in delivering my stuff.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Subject:bleh
Time:8:41 pm.
Writing this from the office on campus where I work. Turns out I work tonight from 9:30 to midnight tonight instead of 7:30-10:30. They slightly changed my hours around and didn't e-mail me about it. It's partly my fault for not mentioning that I didn't get the e-mail yesterday; I just assumed they kept my Tues/Wed/Thurs hours the same and added Monday hours.

At home I never see ads on sites. Going to my LJ page here on this machine, I see an ad for a Korean dating site, which I thought was rather funny.

Amazon finally decided to ship my last package. So it left New Castle, Delaware earlier today. The other package is still hanging out in Brooklyn it seems. No new updates on it. UPS seems to do a much better job at updating the status of their packages than the USPS.

So bored. I need to start bringing my laptop to work. But that would mean carrying it 2 miles, because it's impossible to find a bloody parking spot near this building. I'm going to have to find some flash games to play or get something to read. Hope no one shows up in the lab tonight.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Subject:E-@thletes
Time:3:19 pm.
E-@thletes (2008) ( http://www.eathletesmovie.com/ )
Directed by: Jonathan Boal, Artem Agafonov
Running time: 69 minutes 19 seconds

Not too long ago, I watched a documentary on the status of American e-sports called Frag. Frag covered most of the hardships that 'e-athletes' have to face. In order to be able to travel and play in the big tournaments to make money, you have to get a sponsor, but the sponsors don't care about the players and rip them off. Plus, the gaming leagues also screw over the players by not paying winnings or holding winnings for a long period of time. Frag paints an industry that is rife with exploitation. Kids want to make money playing video games, and big businesses are welcome to exploit that.

E-@thletes skirts all of this. The film focuses on two Counter-Strike teams that are already established, have big sponsors, and are already at the top of their (popular) game. We get some background on the players and their families. There's some sappy stories of small town guys using their video game skills to be able to travel to Europe and Asia to play Counter-Strike. There's some segments with their parents, who are, of course, surprised that all that video game playing amounted to something.

E-@thletes glamorizes the potential of e-sports. Both of these teams, Complexity and 3D, are already winning big tournaments worth as much as $40,000. These guys are travelling the world, winning big tournaments, and making money off video games. It's certainly a very appealing concept. It does show some hardships of the lifestyle. The players' girlfriends don't like their constantly playing the game, and the team manager's wife and law firm partner don't appreciate his focus being so much on his gaming team, but there's nothing on the issues that Frag raises. How much money from the tournaments they're winning do they get? If you win a $40,000 tournament and there's six players on the team, that's ~$6,666 each. And how much does the team coach get? He doesn't play, but it's his team and he's supporting it, so I imagine he's going to get a big chunk of the winnings. This all assumes the league pays in a swift manner. What happens if the league doesn't pay you until a year after you win?

The fundamental problem with e-sports is that the games industry is ever-changing. Regular sports don't radically change. Soccer, baseball, football, and other sports are roughly the same as when they first began. Very few video games are fortunate enough to have a long enough lifespan that there would be a large number of people that would care about who the top players are. If there's no widespread interest in who the top players are, companies aren't going to sponsor the top players, no one is going to broadcast the matches, and the careers of 'e-athletes' are going to be incredibly short.

Overall, I'd say Frag is the better documentary on the status of the industry. E-@thletes is sort of a hopeful longing that the e-sports industry will grow and prosper to become a big deal, which it probably will, but the issues in Frag are going to have to be tackled first. The e-sports industry needs credible leagues and tournaments/matches need to be broadcast in order for people to care. Towards the end of the film, the Championship Gaming Series, which aired on DirecTV, is used as a means of showing the growing legitimacy of e-sports. The Championship Gaming Series has since been discontinued.

4/10
Comments: Add Your Own.

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Subject:Package Update!
Time:3:53 pm.
So, I've received the first of three packages! One is expected to be shipped tomorrow, the other one has a more humorous tracking history than the first.

February 17, 2009 - 12:06:00 AM - BROOKLYN NY - Shipment has left seller facility and is in transit
February 18, 2009 - 01:58:00 AM - BROOKLYN NY - Arrival Scan

This one took about 26 hours to stay in the same city. My only guess is that the person shipping it to me dropped it off at a small USPS office and it took a day for it to get sent and checked into a larger distribution center in Brooklyn. Amazon has estimated delivery for the 25th, which is longer than I expect it'll take - unless it spends a few more days hanging out in Brooklyn.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Subject:Tracking Packages!
Time:8:15 pm.
I bought a few things off Amazon the other day. Part of the fun of ordering things online is tracking how they get to your place (that and not paying sales tax). This is the tracking status for one item:

February 16, 2009 - 06:15:00 PM - HARRISBURG PA US - Shipment received by carrier
February 15, 2009 - 11:37:34 AM - Carlisle PA US - Shipment has left seller facility and is in transit

So it took about 31 hours for my package to go from Carlisle, PA to Harrisburg, PA. It's funny because Harrisburg is only a 30 minute drive from Carlisle, according to Google. I guess there's a big distribution center in Harrisburg and it probably sat around in a long queue before being checked in as received. I wasn't expecting the package until Friday, but Amazon says to expect it Wednesday, so I'm happy however it gets here.

Not sure what's up with another one of my packages. I told Amazon to combine them into as few deliveries as possible, and the other one is sitting there with an estimated shipping date of Thursday, which means it'll be shipped on Thursday but not arrive until a few days after that. Still fine because it's the least important item I ordered.

The last item comes from someone other than Amazon. They acknowledged the order today, so I'm guessing it ships tomorrow. It's a stronger wireless device for my laptop. I'm sick of using this crappy ADSL connection. I figured I'd pick up a better connection from another neighbor with a more powerful wireless device and antenna. :)
Comments: Read 3 orAdd Your Own.

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Subject:Snow?
Time:6:41 am.
One of my professors sent out an e-mail saying he would be there for class today if the University was open. It confused me at first, because there's no reason the University would close today. Obama becoming the President isn't a national holiday. However, it seems it might snow today! Snow closes everything down here in the South.

I'm hoping it snows if only for the fact that the Costa Rican guy in my class has never seen snow.

EDIT: 7:15 and it's snowing! Lightly, but it's definitely snowing. Hope it sticks.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Subject:Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008)
Time:2:34 am.
Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008) ( http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1332128/ )
Directed by: Peter Joseph
IMDB rating: 9.1/10 (779 votes)

Zeitgeist is an amateur 'documentary' similar to the 9/11 conspiracy film Loose Change. With cheap digital film-making equipment and software easily available and the power of the Internet's open and democratizing format, any idiot can make a documentary for their pet topic. The first Zeitgeist, which I've not watched, covers the origins of Christianity and Jesus, the 9/11 conspiracy, and the Federal Reserve banking system. I guess with the economic situation we're facing Joseph felt it was time for a more thorough look at the Federal Reserve and the global banking system, which is what is covered here in Zeitgeist: Addendum.

I decided to watch Addendum without seeing the first Zeitgeist because I've never understood how monetary policy and economics works. I still don't understand how a country can simply put some pictures on a paper and say it's worth something. And how we can determine what one country's paper is worth compared to the other. The Austrian School approach, trumpeted by Ron Paul during the presidential primaries, makes sense to me. The government acquires materials (like gold, silver, platinum, etc) that have a kind of inherent value. Then the government prints fiat (paper) money that is backed by those assets. That makes sense to me.

The magical make-believe money that comes from the Federal Reserve out of thin air doesn't. The way Zeitgeist explains it is that the government gets a loan from the Federal Reserve. Federal Reserve prints the money out and gives it to the government, with the expectation to be paid back. Then the banks just go and generate even more money from that out of thin air. The film makes the claim that it is impossible to pay the Federal Reserve back the principle with interest, because the money supply in circulation can only be as much as the principle, but I'm not sure that's true. But, again, global money circulation makes no sense to me. Anyway, money = debt is the idea.

Zeitgeist argues that this is exactly how the rich exploit the world. The big banks go to developing nations and try to convince them into this debt scam. They offer to bring money into these countries in various ways, like building infrastructure. Contracts for these jobs go to big multi-national corporations. Then, when these developing nations can't pay the money back, the banks suggest that these nations can do things like sell the US their resources (like oil) cheaply, let the US build a military base there, or to privatize their industries so that big multi-national corporations can come in and make money. When governments don't agree, the US attempts to overthrow that government (see: Panama, Iran, Guatemala, Venezuela, etc), and if that doesn't work, the US sends in military (see: Iraq).

The second half of the film veers off into something called The Venus Project, a kind of futuristic commune idea started by two people in Florida. The idea is that with science, we can create a utopian society free from any need for money or jobs. All menial jobs will be handled by machines, and humans will be free to explore whatever they wish with complete freedom. It literally becomes almost an infomercial for this obscure Venus Project, as if this small, obscure project will somehow solve all the world's troubles. There's some good ideas there, like energy independence, but the whole concept is naive and has all the flaws of other communes.

The first half about the US and global banking systems is interesting and even believable. I can certainly see global banks pumping money into developing countries so they can exploit them later, but the film doesn't really explain why the bankers would be doing this for the US government and multi-national corporations - other than the general conspiracy that the ultra rich are all looking out for each other. So while I find the ideas presented in the first half interesting and there may be some truth in it, I have to remain skeptical about it. The second half is completely worthless though. Don't bother with it.

4/10
Comments: Add Your Own.

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Subject:iTunes
Time:9:30 pm.
I have $50 in iTunes gift cards, and I have no idea what to buy.

The fact that I have to use iTunes to access the iTunes store is ridiculous. I have no other use for iTunes other than the iTunes store. I have to make sure anything I get does not have the stupid Fairplay DRM on it, because I don't own an iPod and I have no plans on continuing to use iTunes for listening to anything I get. :\

EDIT: items bought so far:

Birch Book - Self Titled (2005) ( http://birch-book.com/ ) - $9.99
Current 93 - Halo (2004) ( http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:wpfuxqqsldde ) $9.99
Enablers - Output Negative Space (2006) ( http://www.neurotrecordings.com/artists/enablers/ ) $8.91
Hellveto - In Arms of Kurpian Phantom (2004) ( http://www.metal-archives.com/release.php?id=60450 ) - $6.93
Hellveto - In the Glory of Heroes (2006) ( http://www.metal-archives.com/release.php?id=142033 ) - $6.93
Isis - Panopticon (2004) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon_(album) ) $6.93 - I got this just to finish off the money, I couldn't find anything else on iTunes I wanted.

Left: $0.32
Comments: Add Your Own.

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Subject:Wendy and Lucy
Time:9:54 am.

image

Wendy and Lucy (2008) ( http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1152850/ )
Directed by: Kelly Reichardt
IMDB rating: 7.7/10 459 votes

The plot synopsis for this movie is pretty straightforward, as not much happens. A girl (Wendy) and her dog (Lucy) are traveling across the country, from Indiana to Alaska. The film starts off with Wendy in a small town in Oregon, where her car breaks down. Running out of dog food and money, she attempts to steal some from the local grocery store and gets caught. She's arrested while her dog is still tied up out front; she then spends the rest of the film looking for the dog.

It's basically an artsy Lifetime movie. A single girl struggling to get by in a hostile world! The only good thing I can say about it is that the cinematography is decent and I like the fact that it seems to be shot in an actual small town. IMDB says it was shot in Portland, so it was probably shot in the suburbs. The rest is just dull. There's a lot of languid shots of Wendy being sad, mostly for things that are her own fault.

The whole film strikes me as a giant contrivance. It's clear she has no plan for what to do when she gets to Alaska. There's no job or anything waiting for her there, so she could actually stop anywhere and look for a job. She has enough money to get by for a while, so there's no point in her stealing cheap dog food. And the whole dog thing doesn't strike me as realistic. There's a dog tied up in front of a grocery store. The grocery store arrests the owner of the dog. Yet, when she comes back a couple hours later, no one at the grocery store knows what happened to the dog? If someone were going to take the dog, surely they would go in and ask around about who the dog belonged to. The manager certainly knew, as did the all-American anti-shoplifting worker, as well as any other worker that was there during the arrest. Also, why is she in the small town to begin with? Surely there are better places to sleep in your car than in a Walgreen's parking lot (why is there a security guard at a Walgreen's?).

3/10
Comments: Add Your Own.

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Subject:Santamaria
Time:10:15 pm.
NOTE: this was originally written for the 'journal' in the Korean course I was taking.

image

잘못된 만남 [Santamaria] (2008)
Directed by: 정영배 (Jeong Young-bae)
Starring: 정웅인 (Jeong Woong-in), 성지루 (Seong Ji-ru)
Running time: 1 hour 44 minutes.

잘못된 만남 is set in a small town along the sea and about a 45 minute drive from Seoul. I don't think the film ever explicitly states its name. The two main characters are 강일도 (Kang Il-do) and 신호철 (Shin Ho-cheol). Il-do is a traffic cop (교통경찰) and Ho-cheol is a taxi driver (택시기사) [Not sure if those occupation terms in Hangul are correct]. The film opens with Ho-cheol speeding down a coastal road. In the process, he almost runs over Il-do's son. Il-do then quickly hops in his car and chases Ho-cheol down the two-lane road. The two weave through traffic and past fish markets until Ho-cheol eventually stops at a hospital. He was speeding because he was rushing an elderly lady that had passed out to the hospital, but Il-do is still angry because Ho-cheol almost ran over his son. The two argue before suddenly recognize that they know each other. Ho-cheol and Il-do were friends during their military service, but had a falling out and haven't spoken to each other since.

It turns out that Il-do has recently been demoted to a traffic cop from a higher position in Seoul for reasons that are never explained. He's also recently moved into a house right beside Ho-cheol's family's house. Il-do then begins to make Ho-cheol miserable by constantly ticketing him for traffic violations. It's a small town, so they're constantly running into each other, and the fact that they live so close together causes old tensions between the two to re-arise.

During their military service, Ho-cheol treated Il-do badly, bullying him around. To this day, Il-do still has the occasional nightmare about it. Ho-cheol has still never gotten over the fact that Il-do took the girl that he really liked back then. Ho-cheol even tried to commit suicide because of this, many years ago. However, while Ho-cheol and Il-do hate each other, their sons have become good friends.

Things become worse when gangsters show up. It seems Il-do owes a lot of money to a shady group of people and he doesn't have the money to pay them back. Perhaps he moved to the small town in an attempt to get away from these guys. With Il-do and his son's life in jeopardy, Ho-cheol gets caught having to become involved.

At first, I thought this would be a small town comedy, with the two guys constantly making each other's lives miserable, but it's littered with melodrama. This is fine, I don't have a problem with melodrama, but it's really heavy-handed here. Neither of the two main characters are particularly sympathetic, so when the dramatic melodrama comes in, it didn't really resonant with me. The whole gangster issue seemed a bit too over-the-top. The film just seems to drop too much hardship on characters for it to have any impact. This might just be me though; it's not a bad movie, it just has some issues.

The most important topic I got out of this, assuming it's true, is that it seems Korea also has issues with health care costs. In this film, Il-do goes into heavy debt to the gangsters because of health care costs. For some reason, I was under the impression that South Korea had universal health care like many European countries, and doing a quick search on the Internet shows that, to a certain extent, they do. It seems that in the past 20 years, there's been a lot of reform in Korean health care. So, perhaps the issue presented in the film is an exaggeration for dramatic reasons or a situation that is unusual from what most Koreans would experience. After all, he is paying expenses for many years worth of constant medical treatment for his wife.

4/10
Comments: Add Your Own.

Subject:My Mighty Princess
Time:12:29 am.
NOTE: this was written for my "journal" in the Korean course I was taking.


image

무림여대생 [My Mighty Princess] (2008)
Directed by: 곽재용 (Kwak Jae-yong)
Starring: Ju-wan On, Min-a Shin
Running time: 1 hour 57 minutes.

Director 곽재용 is known for his sappy, melodramatic love stories like 엽기적인 그녀 [My Sassy Girl] (2001), 클래식 [Classic] (2003), and 내 여자친구를 소개합니다 [Windstruck] (2004). 무림여대생 is a noticeably weaker than his previous films. In fact, there was a two year delay in releasing the film, in part due to the weakening of the Korean film industry, but also no doubt due to fears that it might not bring in any money. Kwak's modus operandi of mixing comedy and melodrama is still here, but it comes across more as a small girl's fairy tale kind of story; in other words, it's lacking in depth.

The mighty princess is 소휘 (So-hwi), who we immediately find out is no ordinary girl. She has the power to leap to great heights and distances, though she doesn't use this to great effect at all times. When running late, she accidentally hops in front of a truck and gets hit, only to hop up and quickly apologize with 죄송합니다, much to the amazement of the truck driver. Later, while on the bus, she writes “강소휘짱!" (which I can't find a translation for at the moment) on the window. When a boy on a motorcycle sees it and laughs, she becomes embarrassed and quickly erases it. This boy later becomes of great interest to her as she becomes attracted to him and following his interests at school.

Meanwhile, she is part of the 차력 (charyeok) club at school. Charyeok is a Korean form of martial arts that is focused on stances. It's related to the Chinese practice of Qigong, that is concerned with the circulation and focus of the body's Qi/Chi. As part of the charyeok club, she plays the role of the Mighty Princess in their shows, which involve her using charyeok stances while others break wooden boards and bottles over her, to no effect. Then she walks over a bed of nails and burning coals, again to no effect. Lastly, a concrete block is broken over her stomach. All this is done while she is dressed up as Snow White. The backdrops for the performance have a very European aristocratic settings as well. In the end, the audience just sits there, baffled and with no response.

After becoming interested in the boy with the motorcycle, she quits the charyeok club and joins the hockey team, much to her father's dismay. Her father is a great charyeok master and had intended to teach So-hwi her mother's lightning stroke. So her father and his martial arts master friends get the help of So-hwi's childhood friend 일영 (Il-yeong) to convince her to continue her charyeok training. This becomes more important as someone begins going around and killing the old martial arts masters. After So-hwi's father is injured, she must take up her mother's sword and learn the lightning stroke to confront his assailant.

My Mighty Princess is clearly influenced by the Chinese wuxia films. One of the character's even mentions dreaming about their life being like a wuxia. There's a fair number of fight sequences that make use of wires as the characters fly around. I think a Chinese/Hong Kong group was involved in working on the wire action for the film. Overall, it's a somewhat entertaining film though perhaps I'm not the intended audience for it.

6/10
Comments: Read 2 orAdd Your Own.

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Subject:Chaser
Time:1:05 am.
DISCLAIMER: this was originally written for the 'journal' in the Korean class I was taking. I tried to talk about 'cultural' things.


chaser


추격자 [Chaser] (2008)
Directed by: Hong-jin Na
Starring: Kim Yoon-seok, Ha Jeong-woo, Seo Young-hee
Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes.

Chaser is a suspenseful pursuit of a serial killer and his latest victim, who is still alive. The primary protagonist is Eom Joong-ho, a former detective that we find out was fired for making money on the side in illicit ways. Joong-ho now runs a prostitution company, which he manages to run because his former colleagues turn a blind eye to the affair. However, business hasn't been going well because his girls keep disappearing. At first he believes they've run off until he notices that all the girls that have disappeared all met with the same person before going missing. And he realizes he just sent another girl, Kim Min-ji, to see this person. He thinks this guy is selling off his girls, so he tells Min-ji to inform him of the address in 망원동 (Mangwon district) where this guy lives so he can confront him.

Min-ji never calls back though, because the bathroom of the house is bricked in and there's no cellphone signal there. Min-ji suddenly finds herself locked in the house and attacked by the man, who ties her up and attempts to smash her head with a hammer and chisel. She struggles enough that he's unable to get a solid hit on her; her death is postponed by an elderly couple arriving at the door, interrupting the killing. The elderly couple happen to be looking for the real owner of the house, who they've not seen lately. When they begin to notice something is wrong, the serial killer, Je Yeong-min, kills them. He then has to park their car away from the house, but in doing so, runs into Joong-ho's car. Joong-ho, seeing blood on Yeong-min's shirt guesses this is the man he's looking for and confirms it by calling the cellphone number. The chase then begins.

Yeong-min is caught and taken into police custody, where he quickly admits to killing numerous people. However, the police can only hold him until the next day at 12pm without evidence. The police begin looking for evidence to keep Yeong-min in custody, meanwhile, Joong-ho begins his own investigative operation without the police's help to try and find Min-ji.

The serial killer/suspense genre isn't new to South Korea. There was 2002's 공공의 적 (Public Enemy), 2003's 살인의 추억 (Memories of Murder), which was based on the country's first known serial murders (1986-1991), and, more recently, 2007's 그놈 목소리 (Voice of a Murderer), which was also based on a true story. Chaser shares many similar themes with these films, especially the frustration of the police in getting the information they need. As in Memories of Murder, there's this quandary about interrogation tactics. The police are unable to get any information out of Yeong-min, so when Joong-ho shows up and starts beating him, the police turn a blind eye. There's also this sense that the police are more interested in the political benefits to the case rather than the murders themselves. The mayor of 서울 (Seoul) had feces thrown in his face at a market, and the police hope that this serial killer case will take attention off the mayor.

The emotionally crushing third act reminds me a bit of Voice of a Murderer, and is quite different than what you would find in American films of this nature. In most American films, this would have a happier ending, where the “good guys” triumph and justice is served. It seems Koreans have a greater appreciation of melodrama, or at least a firmer understanding and recognition that sometimes everything doesn't work out neatly in the end.

The residential shooting locations (which I'm guessing may have actually been shot in 망원동) I especially liked. The narrow, twisting maze of streets with their walled houses along the hills provide an excellent backdrop for a story that leaves you unsure what will happen at each turn. The only complaint I have with the film is that Yeong-min's character isn't well developed. There are a few issues about his character that are presented but never dealt with in any way, like what role Christianity has to play in his actions. It's shown that he drew and sculpted depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus, but provides no insight into what this has to do with anything else, except Yeong-min's interest in chisels and hammers. Overall, a great film though.

8/10
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Subject:Random Thoughts
Time:12:23 am.
The city of Columbia put up a bunch of pedestrian lights at intersections over the last summer. If they were there before, I somehow never noticed them. Most of them are the kind that have the red hand for 'Don't Walk' and a white person (their use of light color is totally racist!) walking for 'Walk'. When it's about to switch from 'Walk' to 'Don't Walk', the red hand blinks to let walkers as well as cars know that it's about to change. There's a couple problems though.

For one, the pedestrian lights often don't match up with the actual traffic lights. They seem to be in harmony during peak hours, but other parts of the day they're not in sync with one another. In fact, many of them just sit on 'Don't Walk'. Everytime I pass by them, they never change. The other issue is that when the red hand begins blinking, there doesn't seem to be a city-wide consistency on how long it will blink before changing. Sometimes I drive up and see it blinking and expect that the light is about to change; so I slow down, only to find that the thing blinks far longer than it should. It's annoying.
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I'm sick of seeing albums labeled 'remastered' when in reality, it's simply a re-issue. I expect a remastered album to sound at least slightly different. A good example of a remastered album would be Arcturus - Aspera Hiems Symfonia/Constellation/My Angel. You can tell effort was put into improving the quality of the tracks and it sounds much better than the original releases.

I suppose a bigger issue is that I can't find any new metal to check out. The only worthwhile new band I've found is Velnias. There seems to be a bit of a trend happening with folk/nature inspired black metal with a touch of doom and post-rock. Wolves in the Throne Room being perhaps the most popular entity.
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Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Subject:Triarii!!
Time:4:36 am.
New Triarii album is out called 'Muse in Arms'. Just started listening to it, so can't say if it's as good as their previous album, but there's no better martial industrial band out there.

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=F5IUYHBV
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Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Subject:Cold
Time:5:14 am.
It's cold enough in my room that I don't have to put drinks in the refrigerator. I just set them by my bed.
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Monday, December 8th, 2008

Time:8:48 pm.
I probably woke my neighbors up last night laughing about this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UpSlpvb1is

Gotta be really, really careful about crossing those lava bridges by the highway. =D

And I'm currently LOL'ing at this hilarious comment: http://digg.com/comedy/The_7_Dumbest_Things_Ever_Done_by_Airport_Security?t=21415686#c21415686

EDIT: Also check out this awesome bento art: http://annathered.wordpress.com/

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Finished the Korean course today. Final exam wasn't too bad and the oral part actually went smoothly. I'm debating whether I should take the next level course next semester. I think it'll be much smaller, as I know some of the others aren't going to take it. It's scheduled for the same annoying 5:30-7:15pm time slot, which is one of the big reasons I'm thinking about not taking it. I have classes in the morning, then I come back to my apartment for a few hours, then I have to go back for that class. Also, there's no place for me to park near the building it's in. I have to park on the south end of campus and take the shuttle. After class, I have to walk back to my car (maybe a little over a mile), because it's quicker than waiting for the evening shuttle.

Next up: Software Testing exam Wednesday and Algorithm Analysis exam Thursday.
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