Popular By Nobody’s Standards

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Live from the C.O. with tags , on August 22, 2015 by shenanitim

It’s truly a wonder that it took Target as long as it did to get rid of me. (Or, more likely, it’s a testament to just how awful my boss there was. He wanted me gone oh so badly, but was either too lazy or incompetent to do anything about it.) One day my boss demanded that I get my team to sell more credit cards by creating a prize for them to win. Look guys, your hard work is appreciated! Here’s some cheap crap!

Most often someone would grab a gift basket, a $5 DVD, and throw in two boxes of movie theater candy; instant date night for those who secretly want to be single and so are hoping their significant other leaves them. Normally someone else would create the prizes, leaving the “real work” to me: fixing things, training people, handling guests. I was asked to create a prize once, and what a glorious day it was!

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And so it began. I spent the rest of the day talking about Target’s new “adoption” policy; as the anthropomorphized bag was given a name, “Bobble.” I spoke endlessly on the walkie-talkies about how anyone could be lucky enough to win Bobble and take him home. To their credit, none of my co-workers had a clue to what I was carrying on about. I doubt my boss even knew, and he was the reason for me taking it over the top!

I managed to keep the charade going on so long, while enjoying it so much, that it eventually transformed from a not-so-subtle “fuck you” directed from me to my boss, to a “Tim is fucking crazy” from my boss to his peers! You can get into trouble for being disobediant. But being insane? They can’t very well hold that against you.

Wolfcop (2014)

Posted in February, Off-Season Reviews with tags , , , , , , on February 3, 2015 by shenanitim

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Wolfcop might be the greatest werewolf movie ever. Easily the best since the Howling. Now historically, werewolf films are tough to do. Universal’s Wolf-Man was written as a sap, and played the part with Lon Chaney chewing up the scenery instead of animal carcasses. After that ignoble(?) start, these films went downhill. Pre-CGI, it was hard making a believable werewolf. Gluing fur to a man’s chest does not a werewolf make. Post-CGI they just look silly, as the ones populating the Underworld films are eight feet tall bodybuilders with elongated snouts. The only two films to do the creature justice was the aforementioned Howling which introduced air bladders into the transformation process, so that the body of the actor changing into a wolf could actually distort itself. And a honorable mention goes to the beloved Howling III because a.) it’s set in Australia, and b.) we learn that werewolves are actually marsupials.

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Wolfcop starts with the geniusly named titular cop, Sgt. Lou Garou (Leo Fafard), waking up to an alarm cop, pulling his pants on with a naked hooker lying in bed next to him, finishing off a beer, and puking out his squad car as he hurriedly (and hungover/drunkenly) drives to work. This, along with the askew camera he’s shot in, tell you all you need to know about the character in under two minutes with no dialogue. I can’t tell you how happy I am about someone (director Lowell Dean) understanding how film should work.

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Playing to the werewolf’s strengths, Wolfcop’s victims (all thugs) are shown after they meet their fate; ripped to shreds. Lou’s transformations are done with jump cuts and bloody/hairy props in a way that would make Eisenstein proud. And you originally don’t see Lou’s body after he transforms; just bits and pieces to create a convincing illusion.

Wolfcop moves at a fast clip, as films that require mind-boggling suspension of disbelief should. No one wonders why Lou is allowed to be the town’s brazenly drunk cop, or why he’s suddenly fighting crime as a werewolf. Keeping with the film’s (absurd) reality, Tina (Amy Matysio), the town’s wonder-cop to Lou’s dummy cop, does question Lou on why he’s suddenly working so hard. Everyone else recognizes him as a werewolf, and only the criminals bat an eye.

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Granted, Lou is wearing his police uniform after he transforms, so maybe everyone’s reading his badge. A styling that coyly bypasses perhaps the greatest hindrance to movie werewolves in the past, getting their fur to look believable. It’s tougher than it would seem (just look at how crap most CGI werewolves look), so having Lou in uniform keeps the most iconic werewolf parts visible (the head and claws) while covering up all the silly bits.

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Except for the first transformation, when we see Lou’s penis change first. Gratuitous, yes, but the movie does start with a topless hooker, so this is technically just equality in action. And speaking of “action,” Wolfcop marks the second time I’ve seen a film with werewolf sex in it. A disturbing trend if the numerous hits my site gets looking for it is any indication.

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“Man, I think we should lay low there’s a guy running around with no face. Like you clearly ripped his whole face right off.”

The plot involves a trio of shape-shifters who must periodically drink werewolf blood to stay alive. For 200 years they’ve been cursing an unlucky citizen and then sacrificing them during the solar eclipse. Until they make the mistake of choosing Lou, who’s stronger than their past victims. (Running at barely 80 minutes in length, there’s no attempt to explain why Lou was a bad choice, or what makes him so strong, beyond the guess of, “maybe it’s the booze.”)

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Frankly, the only area where Wolfcop fails to impress is its soundtrack; which is mainly retro-sounding 80s rock. While it does work within the film, Wolfcop is one of the newer films that tries to sell its soundtrack to horror movie buffs as a “future classic;” a case of reaching too far. It looks to have been a small(er) production, so I can see trying to monetize everything and anything to defray costs, but assigning your film a status it hasn’t had time to earn yet always strikes me the wrong way. As great a movie as Wolfcop is, I doubt anyone will be clamoring for its score the same way they do for those of John Carpenter.

The Easiest Way to Say “Happy Anniversary!” In Korean Is With Monthly Celebrations

Posted in Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on January 29, 2015 by shenanitim

I knew coming into Korea that the culture over here is geared towards education. Education is looked upon very highly, and teachers are treated with the utmost respect. I work at a hogwan; which is basically an after-school center where children focus on their English skills. (They also learn English during their normal school day too. It’d be like sending your child to an after-school center dedicated to teaching them Spanish all year in the States.) But even knowing that, I never imagined it being as complete a departure from the US as it’s turned out to be.

First, writing my name on the whiteboard was completely silly/worthless. In the US this was imperative, at least until the kids learn who you are, otherwise 3/4 of the questions you’d answer would be, “Uh, what’s your name again?” Here, all the students call you “Teacher.” Not “Teacher Tim,” or “Teacher B.,” just “teacher.” It’s a title and a sign of respect here; it’s all you need, you’re a teacher and that’s that. No shame or “oh, you’re a teacher,” looks down, averts their gaze, “I’m sorry about that…”

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Next comes the gifts. Nearly every two to three weeks at least one of my students will come in bearing gifts for teacher. First it was with Pepero Day. Pepero Day is sort of a second Valentine’s Day. You celebrate a relationship by gifting someone special to you a pepero. (A pepero being a thin, semi-sweet bread stick often coated with candy. It’s a big business here in Korea, as you’ll see here.)

Pepero Day occurs on November 11th, as numerically it’s 11/11 which looks like two pairs of pepero sticks side-by-side. Supposedly it started when a group of Korean middle-school girls gifted each other pepero sticks with the hopes that each would grow up to be tall, thin, and (one presumes) sweet. (A very Korean sentiment even if the true origins are probably closer to a Lotte boardroom exec meeting trying to think up ways to promote their product Pepero.)

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Pepero Day is 11/11, and my first day teaching in Korea was 11/10. Which made for a very confusing second day of work. Why are kids giving me candy sticks? Is this normal behavior?

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It turns out that yes, this is normal behavior. As it was soon followed by a giant cookie/sandwich from one of Jeonju’s premiere giant cookie shops. (Seriously, I had just visited the historic Hanok Village across town from me and saw people standing in a line that stretched down the street (in the rain!) to buy one of these monstrosities.)

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Another amazing aspect of the respect culture here: I had this cookie sitting on my desk all day, not a single student asked about it. (And by “ask about it” I mean ask me if I either a.) wanted it, or b.) would give it to them.) They were all “hey, that’s a cookie from what’s its place” and it ended there.

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Sometimes it’s just little knick-knacks; packages of fruit rollups, etc. Or a giant sponge brick with a heart-shaped inlay.

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Today really took the cake though. And by “cake” I mean mini-rolls made out of rice, black beans, and some kind of nut, all held together by a vaguely meaty-smelling covering. I don’t know what said covering is, it doesn’t taste like meat, but it holds the entire thing together. And while it’s definitely tacky to the touch, said substance doesn’t really stick to your fingers. (It leaves less residue than say Chee-Tos would.)

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My boss told me that student X’s mother had made some for me; putting two rice rolls on my desk. I told her to thank the mother for me and tell her that I appreciated it. Later that night, at the end of my day, my boss then looked concerned when I left my classroom clutching said snack. “Don’t you want it?,” she wondered.

I explained that I was saving the snack for after dinner, since I hadn’t eaten yet and I’ve been trying to force my body to eat real food instead of banana chips and eggs. My boss laughed and pulled out a bag of the rice rolls. Apparently the “gift” above was just a warm-up for the main course.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love the gift and the thought behind it. (After receiving nothing but death threats through all my years of teaching, being appreciated is quite a new sensation.) I just have no clue how I was ever expected to eat them all. My boss explained that since they’re rice-based, they won’t last much longer than a day unless I freeze them. But I have to thaw them out naturally, as the microwave will destroy the magic that is holding them together. So now I’m supplied with finger food for the rest of the month.

A constant reminder that I have the raddest students in the world.

Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead (2011)

Posted in Off-Season Reviews with tags , , , , , , on December 15, 2014 by shenanitim

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Okay, I’ve only watched three and a half minutes of Noboru Iguchi’s Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead (the same man who brought us the fantastically awesome Machine Girl) and I’m already impressed. A puking zombie has already been showcased, as well as opening credits that wouldn’t seem out of place in Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, but certainly seem out of place in a normal horror movie. The camera’s flying through a tunnel of kaleidoscopic colors while girls eating hot dogs dance in bubbles. This isn’t strict 50s T&A though, as the girls are wearing t-shirts that outline their digestive track, which glows in time to the beat which ends at the bowels. Which is where the girl bends over and shoots a beam of light out her ass.

You're welcome.

You’re welcome.

And I thought my blog’s high-point would be chronicling the vagina beam.

Four scenes in and there’s already been three pukes and one simulated bowel movement. I would mention here that the copy I’m watching doesn’t have English subtitles, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to follow this story. It’s speaking my language.

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Imagine if the van full of teens in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre took a wrong turn and ended up in (the original) Evil Dead. All filmed with Slither’s sensibility.

There’s the martial artist heroine, Megumi (Arisa Nakamura), dressed in a Sailor Moon schoolgirl outfit, the nerd guy who’s look just screams “I’m gonna die!,” the prissy/slutty girl (who eats worms, so I might be off here), another girl who’s pretty much devoid of character, and the van driver who’s sole purpose seems to be sexually assaulting everyone. And they’re just cool with it and him.

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Well you can’t blame Iguchi for being disingenuous, nor accuse him of not knowing his audience. While claiming that dining on the worm will keep her thin, we know the real reason the sexpot eats it: so she’ll be the first one to get sick. And in this movie, getting sick means diarrhea. Complete with stomach grumblings and short fart bursts. (The man knows his loose stools!) Which, when acted out, means clutching one’s stomach while bent over and crying in distress.

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All serving to make one wonder, are gratuitous cleavage shots so bad if they’re leading to an outhouse with a zombie resting beneath the waste? Or is it a clever way for Iguchi to say everything that needs to be said about his production’s past, present, and future vision in just five minutes of footage?

Oh damn, got caught up in (needless) critical theory, seven scenes in and we’ve seen four people puke, two crap, and one up the (schoolgirl) skirt shot. I can only hope Iguchi can keep this bodily fluid to screen time ratio up.

I can’t understand Japanese, but I’m guessing eating a worm you just found in the innards of the fish you were gutting isn’t a good idea…

I can’t understand Japanese, but I’m guessing eating a worm you just found in the innards of the fish you were gutting isn’t a good idea…

This might be the only zombie movie where the man whose finger is chewed off by a zombie is actually the red herring. Since it’s diarrhea girl who awakens the horde. I am positive, however, that this is the first zombie movie to have its undead throw feces.

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I’m almost positive this is the film everyone wanted Human Centipede to be. Our mad scientist here literally beats the shit out of his pet zombie so that it spits up the infecting worm. He then feeds the worm to his assistant/daughter. (I have no real way of knowing what, or who, she is or is supposed to be. In any case, she’s a badass.) Who is then injected with the antidote which causes her to eject the worm out her rear. It’s filth-based yet still amazingly amusing.

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The zombies run slow, as zombies should, but the heroes can’t run fast, because their guts are in knots. It’s a brilliant work around a (otherwise) tired convention. That is, they walk slow until the group is whittled down and Megumi and nerd boy are left the sole survivors. Then the zombies all bend over backwards, have their worm parasite burst out of their asses, and give chase double time a la Benny Hill. Just when you thought the film had hit rock bottom for scatological ingenuity, it returns with something that seems to just compound the perversity.

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The final battle taking place in the skies with Megumi flying around like Supergirl riding a cloud of her own flatulence while fighting a giant, winged, ass worm. If the previous post wasn’t proof enough, words can’t really describe this film. Hell, even the stills only give you a quick glimpse into what’s happening on-screen. Put the two together and you have 90 minutes of this insanity, rolling full steam ahead, non-stop. I don’t usually overtly recommend films, but if you’ve read this far, you pretty much owe it to yourself it sit though it now.

Gratuitous Panty Shot - Arisa Nakamura

Trans-Pacific Potty Humor

Posted in Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , on December 10, 2014 by shenanitim

It all began with the most sincere, and innocent, question:

“Teacher, what is fart?”

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This, my friends, is why I got into teaching. Sure, I’ve tackled grammar before, once showed a video on anorexia which featured a girl puking into glass jars and storing them in her closet (wouldn’t that get expensive?) six-seven times in a day, been punched in the chest by an angry sixth-grader. It’s all part of a normal day’s work when you’re employed by some of the United States’ worst school systems. But not once during those experiences did I ever expect to have to teach “fart” to a classroom full of attentive Korean children.

All of which were factors in me taking a job teaching in Korea. I did the least amount of research possible before coming over, to ward off arriving with preconceived notions on how things should be. I wanted to be ready for anything. But nothing could have prepared me for this:

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Teaching a unit on pulling practical jokes on a teacher! I, of course, had to quickly point out that no one in the world would ever call a whoopee cushion a “fart cushion.” Such a word doesn’t exist in America. It should, but it just doesn’t. (I didn’t, however, contradict the book on the amazing value of whoopee cushions even if you’ll never buy one that works. They’re like those comic book x-ray glasses; only this dream never died.)

The kids have accents, obviously everyone does. And you do your best not to notice. Until you hear said accent say “fart.” Then you lose it. The kids, meanwhile, have no clue what a fart is. How do you explain it? It’s practically one of the first words you learn in English. It’s a building block from which the language is built.

So you belt out the loudest raspberry you can so that even the students in the back can hear you. This is an important lesson. The most important lesson.

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I feared my Korean experience had peaked too soon, but then a week later I was tasked with explaining to the kids how one can clean a toilet using Coca-Cola. I’m finally living the (fetid) dream!

All Hail RoboNyan, Our (Robotic Cat) Overlord!

Posted in Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on December 9, 2014 by shenanitim

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Today marked the day I received my first paycheck in Korea. It’s special because unlike almost every other paycheck I’ve ever received, it’s almost all spending money. My rent is paid as per my contract, all I have to pick up are the bills and keep myself fed. So naturally I bought the first stupid thing I could think of, a model of a giant robot cat.

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Seriously, if there’s one thing that could possibly wear away at my sanity and make me miss “home” it’s having an apartment that’s not full of stupid tchotchkes. And nothing says “tchotchkes” like “giant robot cat.” It practically screams it.

This is easily the weirdest “toy” I’ve seen yet. Well, this and the series of robots who transform into foodstuff (hotdogs, hamburgers, etc.).

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Apparently he’s Robonyan, some kind of animated character. I’m tempted to bring him to class with me so I can ask my students what they know about him. Or I’ll just keep him on my desk, sitting there as an fragile little metallic kitten with blue smoke shooting out his ass. I’ll give you one guess about which situation is most likely to come to pass.

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Okay, I splurged and bought something “useful” too. A bag of beans so that I can take a crash course in chop-sticking. To be honest, I had never used a pair of chop sticks in the US. Sure, I tried to use them once or twice, but no Chinese food was worth the aggravation. So moving to a place where being skilled in chop sticks is assumed is quite a challenge. One of my co-workers suggested practicing on beans, saying that’s how he learned years ago. We’ll see how it goes.

The Vampire Effect (2003)

Posted in 2014, Halloween Endurance Tests, Vampires with tags , , , , , , on November 29, 2014 by shenanitim

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Maybe it was just the bad taste left in my mouth from Ringu 0, but the Vampire Effect came like a breath of fresh air after sitting through that series. Even before the credits roll, right up there on the screen is its “R” rating, with one declaimer, “for some violence.” So we already know what this film’s about: it’s a kung-fu film guest starring Jackie Chan with bad guys who are vampires instead of pirates or scofflaws, or whoever it is Chan usually combats. The vampire rules are laid out early, a good choice considering how unorthodox they are. There’s a new vampire family in town, buying a church to live in, but still feel the need to show off their royalty by “drinking” their blood, not “sucking” it. They also, as is shown in the opening, sometimes use flying bats as projectiles, which might be the coolest iteration of that myth ever.

The Vampire Effect takes the basic storyline of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and switch it so that it comes from the bloodsucker’s point of view. The daring, young church-buying vampire Kazaf (Edison Chen) falls in love with “his food” (as his advisor warns), and wants to start a cross-species relationship. (The only real difference between the two story lines is that Buffy’s Angel dined on rat blood, while Kazaf receives blood sent in monthly by his father.)

Naturally Kazaf’s love interest is Helen (Charlene Choi), the sister to Reeve the head of the Anti-Vampire Federation. Helen has no problem with Kazaf being a vampire (“I have a dog and a cat at home. What’s the big deal?” she rationalizes.), and has less of a problem stealing blood for him. Which is good, as Kazaf’s father has stopped sending him his monthly supply; as Kazaf’s family is killed in an attempt by Duke Dekotes (Mickey Hardt) to become vampire king.

(You’d think the vampire king story line would be the main plot, but you’d be wrong. The fight that determines Kazaf’s fate barely lasts longer than Jackie Chan’s two brief appearances.)

Given that this all is a Hong Kong action movie, it naturally moves at a speedy pace. So you won’t be surprised that while Kazaf and Helen try to find a blood source, Helen’s brother Reeve and new partner Gypsy (Gillian Chung) are trying to concoct a vampirism antidote at home. For some reason Gypsy masks the cure to vampire blood poisoning with the essence of banana, causing Helen to use it in the cake she bakes for Kazaf.

Not nearly as confusing as it might sound, the Vampire Effect plays as the Far East’s version of Once Bitten. Just with Jackie Chan ghost-riding an ambulance in the middle of a fight scene. This might be the only vampire movie where a couple of vampires are beaten by spraying them with packets of blood and then shoving antidepressants down their throats. They’re left happily standing in the streets, dancing the night away.

Vampire Effect’s one twist is killing Reeve off after he’s unable to find a cure for his vampirism. Normal movie conventions would have him suffer through the final fight, and then have Kazaf sacrifice himself so that his girlfriend’s brother could live. Instead Reeve gets staked by Gypsy, and we’re treated to a 20 vampire battle royale through a tabernacle with tons of wire work. Which is pretty much everything you could want from a HK vampire movie.

The Craft (1996)

Posted in 2014, Halloween Endurance Tests with tags , , , , , on November 18, 2014 by shenanitim

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[Here’s one of the leftover Halloween Endurance Test reviews. I started watching film as I always do, then stopped once I realized that I had enough time to either review films, or prepare to move to Korea. I went for the safer “prep for Korea” route, so google images lost out on five or six ripped photos to spread across the internet. My apologies to the fans of Neve Campbell and Fairuza Balk.]

Today’s movie is the Craft. It’s the mid-90s film that started the whole Wiccan revolution; causing untold amounts of frumpy, unpopular, high school girls to stop trying to enter the mainstream, and instead celebrate their frumpiness/different-ness. In other words, detestable. I have a feeling that one needs to watch this while wearing black eyeliner and frowning uncontrollably, or else the film’s true meaning will be missed.

The Craft also stars four women who were slated to be Hollywood’s next big thing. Neve Campbell was trying to break from her Party of Five typecasting with the Bonnie role, Nancy (Fairuza Balk) was typecast here as the evil queen witch, and two other witches who obviously made no impression on popular culture. Naturally the witches all go to a private Christian school, , because no one would care that they’re dressing in black if it wasn’t in direct odds with a dress code. No one would bat an eye in public school, have you seen the Substitute?

Hatred of Goths aside, it is rather sad that the film that kept Girl Power alive during the down time between Bikini Kill and the Spice Girls has a plot that’s so boy-centric. Nancy is known as the school slut after sleeping with some boisterous jock, and rather than assert herself, she instead personifies the charge.

After this opening plot point, the film borrows the time-honored girl theme: jealousy. Nancy is the old head witch, and new witch Sarah (Robin Tunney) comes into town and starts stealing her thunder. So a fight is obviously in the works; leaving us with 60 minutes of build-up before it comes to a boil.

The girls start off light, playing “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” at sleepovers which proves they have powers. So next they get some revenge on a local jock who’s telling everyone he slept with Sarah. Nothing major, he just becomes infatuated with her, and so become the laughing stock for all his friends. Marcia Brady (Christine Taylor) suffers slightly worse; she tells Rochelle (Rachel True) that they’ll never be friends because Taylor’s character “doesn’t like Negroids,” and loses all her hair for it. Neve Campbell’s character is a cutter, and thus a narcissist. (She’s all about her.) She uses her new powers to cure herself of a skin condition, rather than get revenge.

Nancy changes everything when she makes a Monkey’s Paw-esque wish for money; causing her (abusive) father to suffer a heart attack so her family inherits a life insurance windfall. This profiting from evil causes a pivotal change in the group dynamic, as the other girls eventually become scared of what she’ll do to stay in control. (Nancy’s need for upward mobility also begs the question of how she got into the swank private school to begin with. Seriously, her school was used for the original Beverly Hills 90210, yet she goes there while living in a trailer. The disparity there just doesn’t work out.)

Nancy gives Sara’s charmed boyfriend a well-deserved tirade about his and his friends’ objectification of women, but her tirade rings false, as Nancy’s grudge against Sara is weak at best; Sara wants to quit the group, and apparently must die for it. So the whole “you treat all women like whores” speech is delivered by a woman who turns on a friend due to the shallowest reasoning possible. So she denounces men while personifying every objectionable female stereotype imaginable. Objectification that goes well beyond the script, if the numerous bouncing breast shots director Andrew Fleming filmed are any indication.

Leaving the film with two interesting features. One is how one of the main protagonists transforms into the main antagonist. A switch not as deftly done as the hero-turn in Eli Roth’s Hostel, but still a commendable idea. Most times the good guys are the good guys, and the bad are bad; without any complicating factors mucking things up.

The second interesting aspect is how one of my favorite zines*, Everything I Touch Turns to Shit, took its name from a line here.

*As in a zine that I always read about in my AK Press catalogs and wanted to order, but never actually did. So who knows whether I would have enjoyed it or not, though I’m guessing I would’ve just on the strength of that title alone.

Hi, My Name is ShenaniTims, and I’m Proud to Say I Will Eat Anything

Posted in Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on November 18, 2014 by shenanitim

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I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog.

I really have no interest in becoming a food blog.

Unfortunately, one of the tough realities of moving to Korea is that food becomes a major part of your day. Given that I’m now nearly mute (I know two phrases in Korean, “hello” and “thank you;” which are really the only two I’ll need), and the native, written tongue is still indecipherable to me, means buying food is a challenge. Pictures work great if the restaurant has pictures, which is important since the Korean diet is (literally) worlds away from the one found in the US. Things that are big back home (i.e. cheese and butter) aren’t found easily over here. Green peppers and mushrooms, on the other hand, and found nearly everywhere.

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So like most foreigners, I’ve become a fan of gimbap. Gimbap is the Korean equivalent to a sub; only with rice wrapped in seaweed substituting for the bread. It’s easily made (i.e. quick), cheap, and pretty ubiquitous, making it the go to meal after work.

The one major hurdle I face with (slowly) becoming a gimbal connoisseur is that their menus can easily be confused for a math quiz (see photo above). A gimbal shops don’t have pictures, so if you don’t know the symbols for a chamchi gimbap (tuna), then you’re shit out of luck. In the restaurant each table has a pad of order forms and a pen, and you just check off what you want and hand it to the nice cook hovering in the wings.

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So my homework has been (after taking an order form home) to look up new gimbaps each night after I go home. I look up the Korean characters, type them into Google, and then stare at the images trying to figure out what is what. I usually end up confused anyway, as modeum kimbap looked like black beans, but didn’t really taste any different than chamchi. And for the sake of experimentation nudeu gimbap is pointless, as it’s “nude” gimbap – so rice, seaweed, and what I assume are sliced up vegetables.

Luckily I’m down for eating anything, so I’m pretty comfortable just ordering blindly off the sheet too. When in Rome, right?

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Tonight I hit the jackpot by also ordering kimchi dumplings, which, in actuality, are more like kimchi pierogis. So if you’ve ever wished your pierogis came stuffed with spicy and sour fermented cabbage instead of cheese, meat, or mushrooms, then kimchi mandu is for you. I’m proud to say that Jeonju is the Korean food capital, and kimchi and I have hit it off splendidly, so I’m sure this one will be in rotation for awhile now.

One Week In Korea

Posted in Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on November 15, 2014 by shenanitim

Last week I moved to the other side of the world. I wrote a post about the experience (mainly what it felt like to be on a plane for 16 hours (12.5 of them without a break), but as that would take time to type, and I want to explore tomorrow, I figured I’d post some pictures I took of my new neighborhood.

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Just look at this sign, it's begging to be photographed. And then bought from, even if they don't carry men's shoes, just so you can carry home a bag with that logo on it.

Just look at this sign, it’s begging to be photographed. And then bought from, even if they don’t carry men’s shoes, just so you can carry home a bag with that logo on it.

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Soda Shoes quickly became a lead contender for

Soda Shoes quickly became a lead contender for “ShenaniTims’ Favorite Korean Shoe Store” on the basis of name alone. “Soda” + “Shoes” is practically Biblically holy in my book. Factor in their selection of men’s shoes, and Present of Santa’s lead wasn’t looking so secure anymore.

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I don't drink coffee, but if I did, it would only be from the Seven Monkeys Coffee shop. I (also) don't own a Seven Monkeys Coffee mug, but this condition is easily rectified.

I don’t drink coffee, but if I did, it would only be from the Seven Monkeys Coffee shop. I (also) don’t own a Seven Monkeys Coffee mug, but this condition is easily rectified.

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Tune in next week when I explore a Korean grocery store; hilarity (assuredly) ensues!

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