Friday, February 28, 2020

Parasite

I watched the movie Parasite a few days ago.  It won the Best Picture Oscar and is, so far, the only Best-Picture nominee I've seen.  Although I want to see (and have in my Netflix queue) Ford v Ferrari, JoJo Rabbit, 1917, and The Joker. Because Netflix chose to throttle me, all but 1917 have been released but Netflix hasn't deigned to send them to me yet.

But, back to Parasite. Going into this movie all I knew was that it was set in South Korea and was in Korean with subtitles. The Kim family (father, mother, son, and daughter) are poor (they even steal WiFi from a neighbor) and hook themselves up with the Park family, who are wealthy. They con their way in, earning money from the Park family by tutoring their children and other jobs. Everything goes well until an incredible secret is revealed.

It was an interesting movie, not only for the Korean culture displayed but for the story of the Kim family and how they form a parasitic relationship (thus the movie's title) with the Park family. There were surprises and a dark ending. I didn't understand why a character (the patriarch of the Kim family) did what he did at the climax of the movie.

Also, Park So-Dam, who played the Kim daughter, is a gorgeous woman. The movie is almost worth watching because of her alone. Yes, I'm that shallow.

I recommend Parasite as a good movie. If you can stand two hours of reading subtitles.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

No Good Music after '91

The other day on Jeopardy, they had a pop music category and I knew none of the answers (or questions, in Jeopardy parlance). That's because I don't think there's been any good music since '91....1791. Okay, I'm joking. 1991. Or maybe 1994 when Kurt Cobain died.

I just don't like modern music. Does that make me old? Maybe. And I loath rap/hip hop (I don't even know the difference; I don't even know if there is a difference).

I've talked about my music tastes before. And they are eclectic. But nothing after about 1995.

About modern music and performers, I feel like Brian in this clip from Family Guy:



I used to work with a woman who listened to modern music (she was older than I) to know what her grandchildren were listening to. But she also seemed to like it. She told me who Lady Gaga is.

I sometimes wonder if the music is worse, or my tastes have changed, or I'm just an old guy who doesn't like new stuff. I'm sure that's not it.

How do you feel about modern music. Let me know in the comments below.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Roy

Roy's Shoes and Coat
Roy (not his real name) is a well-known character in the small town I live in. He walks along the streets in running shoes with no socks or shoe laces. Even on days it snows. He used to not wear a coat in winter but has recently changed that.

Roy goes to Starbucks everyday so I see him there. He asks people coming through the drive through for money to pay for his coffee. Then he sits at a certain table, puts his coat on the floor next to him and sits and reads. He used to read the newspaper (without paying for it) but lately he's been reading the Bible. He's gone all the way through it at least once, from what I can tell.

Roy is a nice guy, very soft spoken. If someone is sitting at "his" table, he chooses another table. If someone picks up his coat, thinking it shouldn't be on the floor, he will politely take it from them and put it back. Sometimes he'll ask me what time it is. A few weeks ago I say "Hi Roy." And he said "I can't believe it's going to get colder" (which was the weather forecast at the time). That's about the most lucid conversation I've had with him.

Roy obviously has some mental health issues. I don't judge him for that (I have mental health issues, after all). He seems to be in his 40s. Rumor around town is he lives with his brother who lives a long ways from Starbucks. So Roy has to walk that distance to and from Starbucks every day.

I have seen Roy coat-less in winter, sitting by the side of the road with his shoes off, his bare feet exposed to the elements. But I haven't seen that for a while. Maybe he's on better meds, now.

Since I, too, have mental health issues (I'm bipolar), I can kind of relate to Roy. You can't control what your brain chemistry does to you. I know that some people with mental health issues don't take their meds because they turn them into a lump (like lithium did to me). And maybe Roy doesn't, either.

Roy seems happy, though. I always hope he's able to find the right meds to make him mentally healthy and that he takes them.


Thursday, February 13, 2020

RadCon 8

Starting tomorrow through Sunday I will be at RadCon, the science fiction and fantasy Con in Pasco, Washington. As usual, it will be at the Red Lion hotel at 2525 N 20th Ave. Take the airport exit off the freeway (Exit 12B).

I will be on seven panels at RadCon this year, and probably wandering the halls some, too. Look for me in my brown fedora. I'd love to meet you.

Here is my panel schedule:

What publishing path is right for you?

The pros and cons of the various paths to publication

Friday 16:30 - 17:30,  Room 3125

Research and Writing 

From science to history to magic, the world is full of source material for writes if you only know where to look. Our panel of writers, game designers and fellow travelers.

Friday 19:00 - 20:00,  Room 3125

Freelancing for Fun and Profit

This is a panel I suggested and am moderating.

Saturday 09:00 - 10:00, Room 3127

Shapeshifters in Fiction

 From myth and legend to fantasy, horror and, yes, even romance, the shifter character has a long tradition of lore and trope behind it. Why do we love shape changers, and how can we do them justice in our own works? Panel will discuss writing shifters, the good, the bad, and the ugly in shifter fiction, and new directions for the shape-shifting character in the future.

Saturday 11:30 - 12:30, Room 3127

The Care and Feeding of Writers

What is it like living with a writer? How do you keep from running away or killing them? Long suffering partners of writers give their insight and advice on how to survive. (At last a panel for those poor patient “others” we writers drag to these conventions.)

Saturday 20:15 - 21:15, Room 3119

When Genres Collide

How pure do you like your writing? What recipe is preferred by readers? Scifi with a dash of fantasy? Fantasy with a pinch of romance, or a whole cup? Pure distillation with no crossover? What sort of formulae seems to be popular with readers right now?

Sunday 09:00 - 10:00, Room 3127

Defeating the Blank Page

If you are a writer, I’m sure you have had writer's block. But you don't want to simply get unstuck. To put forth your best effort and end with the finest version of your creation, you will need to build upon and maintain your momentum.

Sunday 10:15 - 11:15,  Room 3125

Wow! Seven panels. I'm going to be busy. Hope to see you there. It's going to be fun.



Thursday, February 6, 2020

So, It Begins...

I don't do politics on this blog (except when I talked about studded snow tires and getting rid of the penny).

But 2020 is an election year so we have to go through the annual rite of caucuses and primaries and the horse race. The Republican nominee is pretty obvious at this point, but the Democrats have a long slog ahead of them. It could go to the convention that starts on July 13th (It's in Milwaukee). We just went through the Iowa caucuses (and what a mess that was!). Now it's on to the New Hampshire primary.

It's different than it was when I was a kid, before cable news. When I was a kid, every four years my favorite television shows would be preempted for the Olympics and the presidential election coverage. Now cable news does most of the election coverage (they have to fill those 24-hour news cycles) and my favorite shows aren't on the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) that also do election coverage. Now days you can, if you choose, ignore politics. You couldn't in the '60s and '70s. (You shouldn't do that today.)

So, I'll watch a little political coverage (I used to be a political junkie, even watching the conventions for both major parties) and see if anything is interesting. But mostly I'll just vote in the Washington primary and the general election. And watch Better Call Saul.

What are your plans this election year for paying attention to politics. Ignore it until Labor Day or watch every moment of political coverage you can? Or something in between. Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Wooden Phone

Xylophone
I love word origins. Not sure why, but I'm always interested in how words are built from Latin, Greek, or other languages. It fascinates me.

When I was learning Korean in the military, I got very interested when they started explaining that a lot of Korean words come from Chinese and there are Chinese characters associated with them.  But the Koreans pronounce them differently than the Chinese do. And so do the Japanese pronounce them differently from the Chinese and the Koreans.

For example, this is the Chinese character for "beautiful" or "beauty" (context matters in Chinese):
It's made up of two other Chinese characters, one I recognize is "big" (the bottom one.) I think the top one might be "sheep." So a big sheep is beautiful. (The smaller characters in a Chinese character are called "radicals.") I guess if you live in an agrarian society, a big sheep might be beautiful.

Koreans pronounce it as "mi" (or "me"). In Chinese it's pronounced "may." (I'm trying to Anglicize what I hear, so bear with me). And in Japanese it's pronounced "bi." But it means pretty much the same thing in each language ("beautiful").

Boy, am I off my subject.

A while back I was watching Jeopardy (as I do most every weekday) and they had a question about an instrument with metal bars that you hit with a mallet. And I said "what is a xylophone" because I often call out answers. But the right answer was "glockenspiel." Then I got thinking, xylophones have wooden bars that you hit. And (since I have a Bachelor of Science in Forest Resources), I know that "xylum" refers to trees. So I googled xylophone and, sure enough, it is a combination of the Greek words "xylon" meaning wood and "phone" meaning sound. So xylophone means "wood sound" in Greek.

Another thing I love to do is learn new things. And I did!

Are you fascinated by words and their origins? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

My Son's Cat, the Rebel

Lily
My son, who lives with me, has a rescue cat named Lily. She's a pretty cat and tolerates being cuddled reasonably well. I talked about her before.

But she has one trait that drives me nut: she scratches the carpet and sometimes the furniture. And she knows she's not supposed to do it because when you tell her to stop, she does, and when you see her, she looks guilty. We try to spray her with water whenever she scratches. And she looks at you, ducking her head as if to anticipate the spray.

So, obviously, she knows she's not supposed to scratch the carpet or the furniture. But she does it anyway.

And she has things to scratch on and we praise her when she does scratch them and not the carpet or furniture. Once, recently, she was scratch the carpet right next to her scratch pad.

I can't figure why she does what she knows she's not allowed to do. Why does she try to get away with it. Is it because at night when we're asleep, she can get away with it? My wife says she probably doesn't because she misbehaves to get out attention. But when we give her attention, she gets all aloof and acts like she doesn't like it.

She has other habits, too. She tries to open cupboards and go inside. We try to discourage that and we've resorted to baby locks on some of the cupboards with dangerous things in them (such as under the kitchen sink).

And, like a two-year-old child, you're just ready to strangle her, and she looks at you and does something cute.

Talking with other cat owners, this is apparently typical cat behavior.

Do you have an animal? Does it have a rebellious streak? Tell me about it in the comments below.