Friday, August 29, 2008

She's no Ferraro

Wow. If McCain goes with Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, he may have played a wild, trump card that no one could have seen coming. At 44, she's earned a well-deserved reputation as a maverick, she's younger than Obama, she's actually governed something and she's going to attract all those women voters who wanted it to be Hilary. Hell, she's going to attract a lot of men who wanted it to be Hilary. Let's be honest, she is very easy on the eyes. Obama's pick of a Washington insider like Biden was two sides of the same coin--inspired and uninspired. But above all, it freed McCain's hand to go with a running mate who did not need to deliver a huge bunch of electoral votes in the election. Delaware gets 3, as does Alaska. This allows the election to focus on personalities and issues. Now, how hard does Biden the Attack Dog go after Palin without appearing misogynistic? One false move here could send all the Hilary mice scurrying over to McCain and four more years of McSame. What an election this has been.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Here We Go Again...

After two glorious weeks of watching the Olympics, we are now back to the real, ugly world. (Not that there weren't ugly incidents at the Olympics--the Cuban taekwondo jin kicking the ref in the face comes right to mind--but at least there were more good stories than bad.) Bush and Cheney are threatening Russia not to recognize the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia when it was just last year when the West decided to recognize Kosovo's independence from Serbia. Bush says, "Georgia's territorial integrity and borders must command the same respect as every other nation's, including Russia's" and conveniently disregards Serbia. I have no love for the Serbian leadership, and neither did the Kosovars. But if we're going to start recognizing that every disgruntled group of people can claim independence, then we're going to have allow for the possibility of Native Americans having their own country within America's borders. We have to allow for Quebec to become their own nation. And the Basques in Spain. And the Taiwanese. There is just no consistency here--the only thing that matters is muscle, and that is exactly what Russia is flexing at the moment. If I were Russian, I would tell America to f*ck off and stop being so hypocritical. Until there is some consistency in America's foreign policy (when is November arriving?), Russia can do whatever it wants.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Korea's win over Cuba marks the first time Korean men have ever won a gold medal in a ball sport. And what a win it was, 3-2. The first inning saw the Koreans take two runs to Cuba's one. The seventh inning saw an exchange of runs. And then it was on to the bottom of the ninth where Cuba was able to load the bases with one man out. I know the Korean press is going to be hounding the Puerto Rican plate umpire for favoring the Cubans with some very questionable calls on throws that should have been strikes--even the American broadcasters were claiming that the pitcher Ryu Hyun Jin got squeezed and that the strike zone had disappeared. The catcher got into a heated argument with the plate and got ejected. It really looked like all was lost. No way was Cuba going to leave the bases loaded here. One base hit was all it would take to snatch victory from the Koreans. Of course, one double play was all it would take for the Koreans to clinch gold, and that's what they got. No one thought the Koreans would go 9-0 in this tournament, least of all Japan and Cuba who each got beat twice by Korea. This would prove to be Korea's last gold medal of the games, and am I glad I woke up at 6 in the morning to catch it!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Baseball in Beijing

I am LMAO watching Korea and Cuba play baseball. The Chinese organizers tried to import a lot of the American stuff like music for the 7th inning stretch, but NO ONE is singing along. They brought over the bugle riff where the spectators should yell CHARGE!, but NO ONE does. More problematic is that the camera work isn't quite up to par, the lens not tracking the appropriate player at the relevant time. A replay that would definitely have been shown here in the States is not always worth a second look in China. It's actually kind of hilarious. This has to be the quietest ball game I have ever heard. There aren't many fans in the seats, but come on... No wonder the Olympic powers that be are removing baseball from the roster for the London Olympics. Now I would have paid anything in the world to see a British baseball team. It couldn't have been much worse than the team the Greeks fielded in 2004.

Anyway, Korea is up 6-3 in the 7th and if they win this one, they will surely beat the lowly Netherlands and end up 7-0. Then they will promptly lose the match to go for the gold medal. I've seen it happen too many times with Korean baseball. They make you believe, until the last minute that is. Go Korea! Win a gold this time!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

40, 30, 20, 18, 17...

My dating life seems to be in this weird regression, backtracking, retrograde, Saturn-is-in-Venus-which-is-in-perihelion-window mode. Five months ago I was dating someone who was in his early 40s, which was quickly followed by someone in his late 30s, which was followed by someone in his 20s and then in his younger 20s, and now I am embarrassed to admit that I have recently gone on dates with kids who are 18 and 17. (Not that anything physical was going to happen with the two kiddies, especially the 17 year-old, I still double checked New York's statutory rape law to make sure I was on the safe side, which I thankfully was.) What have I learned from all these mishaps? First, I am still a curious person, curious to meet new people and hear what they have to say. I found I am physically attracted to all shapes and sizes and yes, ages. Tall and lean, short and squat, short and thin, chubby and tubby, scruffy and squeaky. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Would it help to be attracted to just one type or would that limit me more in my search for Mr. Right? And then I realized what all these people had in common. Not one of them knew the difference between a run, a touchdown, an ace, a goal and a birdie. Tiger Woods is not a retirement community in south Florida. Nor is Rafa a gangsta rap star. Will someone who knows please let me know where you are?

Friday, August 15, 2008


A handshake here, a hug there. I am seeing some truly touching moments of sportsmanship in these games. As proud as I am of being Korean, I do think that Koreans are not always the most gracious losers. We're wonderful winners, but not always the best at accepting defeat. The bronze medal match in men's badminton doubles was a riveting affair between the 5th ranked Danes and the 13th ranked Koreans. The Danes took the first game easily and looked to be cruising to taking the second game and the medal. Somehow the Koreans turned it around and then stepped on the gas, winning the second and third. I felt for the Danes. It must have been crushing. Yet there they were hugging their counterparts and offering real congratulations. I'm not sure I would have been that magnanimous. But the gesture just filled me with so much respect for the Danish players. More than the hearts of a champion, they showed the hearts of caring human beings.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Am Loving These Games

I have really been enjoying these Olympics. For the competition and for the range of emotions they have elicited. I just got done watching Korea play Iceland in men's handball, a match Korea did not deserve to win 22-21, but also one that Iceland richly deserved to lose. It just got so ridiculous at the end when Korea's men had a brain fart and the Icelandic men looked like clowns trying to score the equalizer. The Korean coach threw up his hands when the final buzzer blew, but it was the body language of a survivor, not a victor.

The coaches in weightlifting exude all the innocence and joy of children when their lifters make a successful lift. It is so contagious I want to take up weightlifting and have someone be that excited over me.

Watching the sizzling hot Hiroyuki Tomita fall off the rings was truly terrifying as he landed like a rag doll. Suddenly in that moment, winning and losing seemed irrelevant. Kohei Uchimura fell off the pommel horse twice, but how amazing was it that he came back to win the silver medal! (He is a lock for gold in London.)

The judo judges are just cracking me up. They are bad ass! I mean B-A-D ass with their suit jackets and stern looks. You don't mess with them. In comparison, the officials in charge of the archery matches look like nursery school teachers.

And speaking of bad ass, China is making these Olympics look like a Saturday matinee. Their athletes are performing out of their minds and making it look so easy! Makes me damn proud to be a fellow Asian!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Poster Boy

Every Olympics for Korea there's always one athlete who kind of comes out of nowhere to grab a gold medal and this year it's this 5'5" 23 year-old kid Sa Jae Hyouk, winner in the 77kg weight class. I don't recall Korea winning a gold medal in weightlifting while I was there for 10 years, so this is bound to be a big deal. And since single fold eyelids are still quite the rage in Korea, expect this kid to get some major endorsements when he gets back home.


It is 3 am in the morning and I am watching Korea vs. Sweden women's handball match LIVE! Thanks GE for letting me watch this! Korea is up 22-16!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympic Music

Here's my new favorite song that's the background music for the GM commercial that's been running during the Olympics. And if my first screenplay ever gets produced, this is going to be the payoff song toward the end of the movie. Her name is Brandi Carlile. It's called The Story. Hope you like it as much as I do.

All of these lines across my face tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been and how I got to where I am
But these stories don't mean anything when you've got no one to tell them to
It's true...I was made for you.
I climbed across the mountain tops, swam all across the ocean blue
I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules, but baby I broke them all for you
Because even when I was flat broke, you made me feel like a million bucks
You do. I was made for you.
You see the smile that's on my mouth, it's hiding the words that don't come out
And all of my friends who think that I'm blessed, hey don't know my head is a mess
No, they don't know who I really am and they don't know what
I've been through like you do, and I was made for you.
All of these lines across my face tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been and how I got to where I am
But these stories don't mean anything when you've got no one to tell them to
It's true...I was made for you.

Six for Six... and Counting

You've got to believe there's a deep-rooted correlation between a nation and the sports that it embraces, but what exactly it all means is sometimes hard to say. Few would argue that football epitomizes the American character, with its emphasis on power, analysis and precision. The same can be said, more or less, for baseball and basketball. When it comes to Korea, increasingly one comes to think of its excellence in golf. The way the sport requires hours and hours and hours of patient practice. Rote, mechanical practice. (Not unlike the way many Korean students attack their studies, memorizing fact after fact after fact.) But before there was golf, there was archery. Since 1984, Korean women have won every available gold medal in Olympic competition, sweeping individual and team play. Yesterday saw a continuation of the dynasty when they comfortably defeated the Chinese, unlike four years ago in Athens when they needed to shoot a perfect 10 on their final arrow to clinch gold. (Unsurprisingly it was the same archer from four years ago who shot the final arrow this time around, Park Sung Hyun.) I can't imagine the kind of practice and dedication, not to mention strength, it takes to keep shooting arrows at a target 70 meters away every day for hours at at time. What does this say about the Korean character? Is there any other sport that so accurately represents what Koreans are about?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

What the World Needs Now

In my prayers tonight, I include the Bachmans. As the entire world now knows, Todd Bachman was murdered in Beijing by a mentally deranged man who subsequently committed suicide. I pray that Mr. Bachman is in heaven now, and that his wife makes it out of surgery all right, and that she and her family will heal quickly.

There is so much negativity all around. Today I went to go see The Castle, an off-Broadway production about four ex-cons who tell their stories. And what heart-wrenching stories they are. About abuse. Neglect. Despair. Pain. Redemption.

Please everyone, let's all be good to each other as much as we can.

Good as Gold, Part II

Hooray for Taehwan Park! Korea's first medal in swimming, and it's gold! Four years ago as a 14 year-old kid in Athens, he false started and was disqualified. How agonizing that must have been--to practice and prepare and travel halfway around the world, and then on international TV, embarrass yourself. Four years later, it's vindication. People were saying that he was going to win gold. And he did. What a great moment in a teenager's life!

On another note, how about those Korean women handballers yesterday! In their first preliminary match against the current world number one Russians, they were down by 9(!) goals and stormed back in a ten-minute period to tie the score and ultimately walk away with a tie. An amazing effort in the sport that brought Korea's first gold medal in a ball sport.

Good as Gold

Congratulations to Minho Choi for getting the gold he wanted so badly at the Athens games four years ago. You've got to love stories like this that vindicate the adage "If at first you don't succeed..." I will keep this guy in mind as I go forward with my writing.

I am sure the broadcasters in Korea were screaming their heads off when Minho won gold in the final in a little over two minutes, defeating the current world number one, Austria's Ludwig Paischer, by ippon, a "throw". (But Ludwig was so gracious, so sportsmanlike, at the end of the match when he had to lift up an overwrought Minho from the floor, hugged him and held up his hand in the air to signify that he had been beaten by the better judoka.) A successful throw signals the immediate end of the match, much like getting pinned in wrestling does. The semifinal was an even shorter affair, where he took down the world number 2, Dutch Ruben Houkes, in four seconds! Blink, and you would have literally missed it! These are the matches I really miss seeing in Korea. At any rate, the broadcasters can now relax and stop ranting, "When will Korea win its first gold medal?" Usually it's the women archers who provide the first gold, but Korea definitely got a nice surprise here. (Korea's women archers, by the way, set a new world record in the ranking round scoring 2004 points thereby securing the top seed in the team tournament and the top 3 seeds in the individual.

I wish I were in Beijing!

Friday, August 8, 2008

I Wish I Were in Beijing

Watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics has done nothing for my state of mind and this third script that I am writing. I love the Olympics. It is all about color and festivity and sport and people coming together. One of the biggest regrets in life is that I will never be an Olympian and get to march into a stadium and be a part of a ceremony that celebrates the ideal of one world. (Hmm... maybe that should be my next goal... figuring out how I can come close to doing something that approximates that.) My scripts to date have all been about disconnection and isolation, and I am sure that as I soon as I finish this third one, I will write something much brighter and happier.

So here are some quick thoughts on the opening: 1) It was a show that will never be duplicated ($300 million went into the production!); 2) George Bush looked bored at one moment, checking his watch; 3) The Chinese crowd cheered loudly for Taiwan and Iraq (how very nice, especially since there were only four athletes in their delegation) and gave a jolt of hurrah to North Korea; 4) The announcers made a point of politicizing the games whenever they could, criticizing China for denying Joey Cheek a visa (Joey Cheek, a former gold medalist who has been vocal about China failing to do enough in Darfur), jabbing at Venezuela, slamming Russia; ripping Zimbabwe; 5) Putin looked at the American athletes with positive disdain, LOL (but they didn't show Bush when the Russians came in, so....)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How American Am I?

Growing up in this country in the 70s, I saw few Asian faces in the media that might have informed how I, an Asian-American, might fit into a predominantly white society. The answer my parents provided was simply to study hard and get a good job. But would that make me a proud American? I always had my doubts. Living in Korea in 1996 forever changed the way I felt about my heritage. The Olympics were in Atlanta that year and it was the first time I was going to get a really good view of what Korean athletes could do. In sports like archery. Badminton. Ping pong. Wrestling. Judo. Hardly what one would call the glamor events of the games. Yet I immediately sensed something afoot when the Korean stations broadcast archery live and all my friends decided that they were going to spend the night at my apartment and watch it with me. Yeah, OK. But there I was cheering the archers as they unleashed arrow after arrow at the bullseye. There I was getting excited by a sport I was seeing for the very first time in my life. There I was hollering when Korea won the gold medal. In archery. Then I knew I was a Korean. A little bit of research later I discovered that the bow and arrow were the traditional weapons of the famed warriors of Goguryeo, the ancient Korean kingdom whose boundaries stretched all the way into present day Manchuria and Russia. For the first time in my life, I felt proud of the blood that coursed through my veins.

After 1996, there was 1998 when Seri Pak won the US Women's Open at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin. That was another stay-up-all-through-the-night ordeal as Korean television broadcast live her 20-hole playoff against Jenny Chuasiriporn. Watching Seri make her final birdie in the early hours of the morning, my friends and I erupted in elation. (That apartment saw a lot of wear and tear.) Fast forward through the Sydney Games to the World Cup in 2002. All I have to say is that I was there when Korea went to the seminfinals. I was there when Korea beat Poland. And then Portugal. And then Italy. And then Spain. It's just impossible to describe each event. The cheering that took place in the streets. The parties that took over the night. I was alive. And I was Korean. Not much more to ask for.

So here we are. 2008. I thought I was going to be watching the games live in Beijing. This was before HIV changed the course of my life. I'll be watching the games here in NYC. Begging for a glimpse of the Korean athletes. I might get to see Park Tae Hwan in the 400 meter freestyle in swimming. And not much else. Will I cheer on the Americans? When they're fighting against the Russians and the Chinese, I will. And I guess that answers my question.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Checking In at the JetBlue Counter

"Good day sir, where are you going?"
"Three bags, I see. It's 100 for the first, 200 for the second and 300 for the third."
"Six hundred dollars to check in my bags?"
"Fuel costs, stupid. Get on the scale please."
"Surcharges for fatsos, of course. The days of light, healthy people paying for the evil choices of Heart-Attacks-Waiting-to-Happen are gone."
"I was meaning to start a diet this week."
"Should have started a month ago, Blubber. My, my, 226 pounds. The first 100 are free, courtesy of the Bluester, but it's an extra dollar for every pound up to 200 and 10 dollars for every pound after that."
"Isn't that discriminating against people who weigh over 200 pounds?"
"No one told you to shove that last Ho Ho down your throat for breakfast. That'll be an extra 360."
"So what am I up to?"
"WTF, you're stupid and fat? Jeez. Lemme calculate this quickly here. 960 in surcharges so far."
"We're not done yet, sir. You're of Asian descent, yes?"
"What does my ethnicity have to do with anything?"
"It's an extra 5000 when you're Middle Eastern or look or smell anything like a terrorist. That's the 'terror tax' we tack on to those customers. Federal marshals don't fly free, especially the ones who look like tubs of lard. But since you're Asian, it's only 1000 more."
"So I have to pay $1960 on top of the 600 for the original round trip ticket?"
"Will that be cash or credit? There's a $700 surcharge when you pay by credit card. The electronic transactions take up more gas than you'd think."