Pictures from the week.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25th, 2011 by byronkho


Opera Jess and Zelly ham it up for the cameras. At Capogiros right after Korean food.


Julie and Diana at Graffitibar after the IvyLife mixer at the Ritz.


Hye Joo and Grace at Midtown.


Saw this on a utility box. Trying to figure out what it means.


Just another picture of my retarded cat, relaxing on my bed and shedding hair everywhere.

1818 dictionary entry for “little shits” and other word history fun; more music.

Posted in Personal on April 18th, 2011 by byronkho

1825 edition of John Jamieson’s Dictionary of the Scottish Language.

SHIT-FACED, adj. Having a very small face, as a child, Clydes[dale].; q. chit-faced?

Plus, more gems.

Vandaveer cancelled the Philly show I was supposed to see. I think he’d be good live.

Philly needs a LaBlogotheque Take Away Show, or a blog with enough cred to do this for our City. Or a Madmoizelle but not just for girls.

Or a MadMoiZelle. But not just for girls.

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Movies

Posted in Uncategorized on April 12th, 2011 by byronkho

Fire of Conscience was mildly entertaining, but in the end pretty stupid. I’m never impressed much with any of the Hong Kong action films as they rarely take the time to develop any sort of decent plot and the characters never have any decent backstory. The martial arts epics tend to be slightly better, but they always follow the same pattern: little fights against minibosses, build to epic battle against epic boss. Boss is always some caricatured enemy. Ip Man 1, it was some feisty Japanese general with a smidgen of honor; his subordinates had none. I declined to watch Ip Man 2. The enemy in that case was some British boxer dude whose backers represented the worst of the worst, the British colonizer who besmirched the honor of China. Ip Man apparently saved China’s honor from being completely destroyed by the Japanese and British, a feat which seems more magical than true history.

The best Asian action movie I’ve seen thus far this year has got to be Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen. The movie is very anti-Japanese – but it’s justified as it is a movie about a Chinese hero, who just happens to unite a few of his countrymen against Japanese imperialists. It happens to tell a decent story with some mad decent action scenes (take the beginning…. Chen Zhen goes all kung-fuey on WWI Germans while assisting the Allies in France), which is a rarity in Chinese action movies. The Shanghai nightclub scenes are filmed effectively and with style, and there’s relatively little cheese in the romance/drama parts of the movie. No overblown soap opera here. Casting is done well, and the Japanese/English spliced in are generally good and not awkward (save for one “British” businessman who says ‘fucking Japanese’ in some weird accent that’s definitely not a British one… cue lots of laughter at the awkwardness, which cuts off almost immediately when he’s then shot and pitched of a roof by a Japanese spy posing as a Chinese cigarette girl). It’s all very “for China!” so I assume the film censors would have nothing to say about this one, other than “hurrah,” foreign film market! Donnie Yen is cast well here as a nightclub manager slash secret revolutionary and does the handsome action hero well, almost pulling a Bruce Lee with some of the action poses and pre-attack shrieks that he’s got going. The Bruce Lee comparison is intended, as they slyly hint at Lee many, many times during the movie, though not borrowing him too much. Somebody posted on a msgboard and complained that the editing hinted that Donnie was unable to do too much action because of injuries sustained during filming for another movie… that may have been true, but the action shown was more than adequate, and I value the reason for the fight scenes a bit more than the fight scenes themselves. Too often, martial arts movies are setpieces for action sequences; I could rewatch this on the merits of the whole movie.

Cold Fish was aggravating but ultimately satisfying in its slow build, continuous torture and almost unexpected gruesome violence. The old man – young female sexual relationship and power dynamic, a short skirt fetish, suicidal tendencies (so you’re not doing as well as a psycho serial murderer who has to kill to make his money… is that comparable in the least? if so, then you really have some issues.), preoccupation with honor, all these items seemed distinctly (or stereotypically) Japanese so that without any actual thoughtful analysis, I imagined the movie to be some sort of reflection of Japanese society, and a condemnation of something. Or whatever.

Wuss was entertaining, but failed to make an really adequate point. I felt mildly satisfied at the end mainly because the wuss proved he could get the girl… but then, the girl was underage and obviously got some of her own back letting this dude buy her booze and get high with her. So, a morally ambiguous tale. Perhaps they meant there to be no point; unfortunately, I need one.

Incendies was amazing. Looking back, the story does seem somewhat of a tabloid shocker and the basis for some horrifying C-list bargain bin shocker. However, the director took his time exploring the cultural and semi-historical aspects, thus making the story way more meaningful than the horrible news the main characters have to face at the end. The “climax” ends up being proof positive that the whole journey needed to be taken, even if the results could be published in the National Enquirer and would seem entirely melodramatic on its own without the build.

Lapland Odyssey shows that Finns can make stupid road trip comedies just as well as US filmmakers can. Essentially forgettable, it got a decent amount of applause because it was just that – decent. People were probably expecting some abysmal work or a movie in which the jokes don’t translate well at all. Instead, it was funny and easy to identify with. Nothing outstanding however, expect for the platinum blonde girlfriend whose staying or leaving is the central conflict of the whole movie. You can see why the dude would go to great lengths to keep her, even though she’s not that nice to him… she actually gets all her stuff into her ex’s van before rethinking her actions. That’s hella far to go on a one-day fight that she’s not even that serious about.

This year’s Jane Eyre was a quality adaptation. The dramatic elements (the leering Rochester and his murderous harpy wife) are so often grotesquely emphasized in other productions, but they kept it reasonable and focused the attention where it should be: on what Jane wants and what life deals her, and how much of it she will take. It was portrayed as somewhat of a ghost story in the trailers, which I appreciated. THe mood should be sombre, damp and a little haunted. How could you not be, with Jane’s life as it was?

Hanna definitely worked well for me. I came out of it thinking that it was a great action movie (with enough action scenes in it to justify being compared to other action movies, aka 3-4 decent fights, lots of running) and also a good character exploration. Saoirse Ronan did an amazing job as a woman-child coming to terms with the real world, and was entirely believable as a super soldier. In one shot, she spars with a thug and then takes his knife and stabs him viciously in the stomach – I wanted to see more of it, but even with that regret, I understood why they only did it once. Her new “friend” watches it and is horrified with this crazy girl from the forest, and Saoirse’s character realizes how different she is. How do you pronounce Saoirse anyways? Seems like an awesome name to have. Also, the languages spoken are pulled off pretty well. Her Arabic seemed to have pretty crisp delivery. It was filmed well, with lots of lingering shots (and one long, long shot for one of the Eric Bana fight scenes) and a nice sense of space. The tense score by the Chemical Brothers also helped. They really helped pump up the chase scenes, and it wasn’t all thumping bass like most would expect from an electronic music tag team.

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Lutricia McNeal, Pete Philly, KT Tunstall, Kerrigan & Lowdermilk, Covers.

Posted in Personal on April 10th, 2011 by byronkho

Rap circa 1996, with Lutricia McNeal. So chill.

It’s like FUNKY SOUL. This is the perfect fusion of rap and jazz. (Pete Philly on anything just makes it fly.)

KT Tunstall in concert is ridiculous. She’s so full of energy, and her songs ALWAYS sound better live. Her Tiger Suit album – especially Fade Like A Shadow – sounded so much better live than on the album; the “dance” numbers are so full of life and I want the live version on an album. Hopefully that happens. In any case, Fade Like A Shadow… yes, I agree. In comparison with the album version, there IS no comparison.

KT’s apparently been touring with a piano-based version of Little Favours, as she played that for us today and apparently elsewhere (probably on the stop before Philly). I like the Philly version, but nobody’s posted it yet. Make do with the gem below. She apparently wrote the piano part at 17 and left it. I do also like the high-energy version but slower and with the new-ish chording, it is much more haunting.

Jesse Ruben has a lot of bland acoustic guitar-based wistful-indie-fan type songs… that said, he does have a good voice and he does have great stage presence. His “Stupid American Guy” was pretty solid. Now I find that he helped out at Kerrigan+Lowdermilk’s release party. And the Spring Standards were on hand. Dammit!

By the way, I am so jealous of PS22 in Staten Island. Those little jerks. Getting the elementary school experience I should have had!!! I was gonna post their celebrity videos but I prefer this one. Well, partially cuz I love Jessie J, but this delivery is so dope.

Pursuit of Happiness the best way possible. Kid Cudi not necessary. (Everything should be done by cuties named Morgane… Le Fay?… with little ukeleles.) (Also, this video comes in a very close second: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjoTgG6CMXI) (Also seems like her YT keeps getting hacked. What loser hacks the channels for talented people that don’t start any beefs? I mean, seriously. And then deleting all the videos so she doesn’t have any copies of her own stuff and has to rely on rabid fans/stalkers to post their copies of her videos.)

Crazy with covers. Bear with me. This cover’s been passed around quite a bit… I still love the Christina Grimmie/Sam Tsui version better than Nelly. (And this is second: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5i_q1PTqB4w)

And cutest Home cover.

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A late response to the Phoebe Prince debacle.

Posted in Opinion on April 10th, 2011 by byronkho

Just finished reading Emily Bazelon’s piece on Slate regarding Phoebe Prince. Yes, it’s a little late, and I did read up on it at the time – but I decided to reread the article, as they’re headlining it on Slate for winning some award. I’m a little disturbed by the commenters, who seem to think that it is a journalist’s responsibility to present pieces that only attack politically correct sides (as in, the bully is COMPLETELY at fault and victims have no responsibility, regardless if they did say hurtful things to begin with). Phoebe was bullied, yes. Her bullies should be punished for that. However, it is not crazy to suggest that Phoebe herself may have brought on the attacks. Usually, there’s a reason that such vehement hatred exists for the victim; sometimes, it is an external situation that is affecting the bully, but often it is something in the victim’s actions or responses that bring on this violent hatred. I can’t know for sure what went on in this particular case – figuring out all the slights and insults and hidden contexts that build up to such an extreme response (ie. suicide) is next to impossible and the closest we can get are determinations from the observers, which will naturally be biased. Because that’s what viewers do, shape their observations around their feelings. The reporter seemed to do a decent job of covering the material behind the suicide, and it looks to me as if Phoebe Prince did instigate much of the behavior that turned everyone against her. It doesn’t excuse the bullies from emotionally assaulting her to the degree in which they did, but there was sufficient reason for them to become angry at Phoebe and want to insult her.

I pity the bullies because as a society, we’ve never done much about bullying. We’re taught ineffective things, like turn the other cheek, or that “sticks and stones may break my bones” but words will what? Not hurt you. There are hardly any prosecutions of bullies, and as this is one of the few major cases (not that it hasn’t happened before), the DA said let’s nail their balls to the wall and give them the maximum (10 years). The problem is, you can’t justify doing that to every single bully. To send a message to bullies, you need to be consistent. You cannot consistently give bullies 10 year prison sentences as it does not address the root cause (threatening 10 years itself is a bullying tactic), and it wastes taxpayer money (and peoples lives) without actually rehabilitating the bully. Second, these guys never murdered anyone themselves, or asked anyone to help them murder anyone, so why are they considered worse than people who do actually murder – their proposed sentences speak to that? Bullying is common to the high school experiences of millions of people, and nothing anyone has been taught (by life experiences) would prepare them for the kind of backlash these bullies got. They must be thinking that everyone is crazy and blowing things out of proportion. And everyone is thinking, good riddance, now they’re getting a taste of what they gave to Phoebe. So all we’re doing is getting revenge on them? Really big of us, people. We need to change behavior while we punish, not just punish… that’s why the US has so many prisons and so many criminals who re-offend after they are released.

Note that I haven’t looked up what the final verdict against them was. I am just responding to what was reported in the article, and to the commenters. I am assuming that the DA was posturing to look “tough” and win brownie points with her constituency.

Ellie Goulding and Parkour

Posted in Uncategorized on April 6th, 2011 by byronkho

Fantastic parkour video set to a great song by Ellie Goulding. Ridiculously jealous.

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Guns and Patents.

Posted in Opinion on April 6th, 2011 by byronkho

By virtue of filing so many patents and thus having insane experience with such, IBM is filing a patent on “assisting with the patent process”. They it’s so they can assist customers to file patents in future, but there’s so much potential for abuse. Filing patent infringements on ANYONE who tries to setup a patent application service company… or even the same on individuals trying to file for their own patents (since every process involved in applying would be the same steps that IBM would do for their customer, presumably better).

Patent trolls are a plague. ‘Nuff said.

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New Hampshire allowing concealed guns in their legislative buildings. Insane. Concealed carry at schools and college campuses, also insane. States who pass concealed carry laws approving access ANYWHERE public, which then also pass legislation forbidding local legislatures from passing legislation that interferes to the tune of $500,000 fines – ridiculous. I do realize that for this last issue, I would not have a problem with it were it the other way around.

My problem is allowing guns anywhere public. These people pushing for gun rights are probably the very same people that wanted better security at airports after 911. What is the difference between an airport, and an elementary school? Why are guns prohibited in one area but not in another? Do we really ALL need guns for protection? If you need a gun that badly and don’t trust in the police and army to protect you, you’re some sort of paranoid loner and don’t trust in the social contract that everybody else lives by. And yes, that probably means that we should all not trust you and get guns, leading ourselves into a destructive and joyless cycle of fear and suspicion. That’s what law enforcement is SUPPOSED to be for – keeping the peace so we don’t have to do it ourselves.

Even the Wild West had gun laws, for goodness’ sake. In Tombstone, Wyatt Earp laid down the law and required all to register their weapons, and saloons all over the West required you to sign over your guns and get them back only upon leaving. Yes, they were a little bit different back then. Everyone had guns, and they all had itchy trigger fingers, so they shot first and asked questions later. So we’re so different now? I don’t see the amount of people being killed around the world decreasing, and regardless if regular Joe Schmo from Texas didn’t kill anyone, their government is doing the killing for them overseas. We’re not better people than they were 100 years ago. In fact, generations that are still alive today were responsible for tens of millions of deaths over the past couple large-scale wars. Everybody can kill, given the right motivation. So back to having guns. Yes, you should be able to own a gun and keep it to yourself. You can protect your home, fine. But in a public place?

There are so many problems with allowing guns in public. First of all, there’s no trusting that everyone that has a LICENSED gun is going to be properly vetted. Gun purchasers go through laughable background checks. If you get rejected in one store, you go to another store, or a gun show and purchase from another vendor, who doesn’t check jack. You buy from dealers who sell to Mexican drug gangs, inner city thugs and redneck cowboys, and a certain proportion of people who go on to spray bullets in those same public places. One might argue that only crazy people do that, but if licensing and gun sales are so half-assed, it’s not out of the question that crazy people will get guns. Or people with undiscovered problems that react badly out of the blue. Second, the people without guns become WAY nervous once they realize so many people have guns around them. They have the right to feel safe in public, and so this discomfort is to some degree a violation of their personl pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. You could tell them to grow up, sure, but then comes reason three.

In the event of some emergency requiring gun use from civilians, it is not guaranteed that a) the gun carrier had ANY training (not required by many states), b) that the nervous gun carriers won’t end up shooting each other, c) that the police won’t mistake nervous gun carriers for criminals and shoot them, d) that the nervous gun carriers wouldn’t end up shooting innocent people or endangering them in an effort to “get” the bad guy, and e) that the bad guy or even “helpful” non-carrying strangers won’t retrieve those very guns and use them to bad ends.

These are extreme liability issues that gun rights supporters would scoff at as “what if” scenarios and not worthy to be brought up in an argument. But whatever. If you’re brought into court, I’m pretty sure you’d look pretty shit if the prosecutor argued that you didn’t have any handgun training and had a criminal record and mental instability, yet the state allowed you to have a gun and you used it in public to make a lousy shot that didn’t hit the criminal but killed a civilian, or worse, pinged off a wall and killed a police officer. Or you got in the way of the cops and screwed up the pursuit, thereby endangering the lives of many other people (in which case they could file a case against you, if the city didn’t). In any case, the police could also just shoot you if you pulled your gun, and be well justified. You’re a threat and there’s no time to check for your gun license. Serves you right for really thinking you needed it.

Pics.

Posted in Personal on April 1st, 2011 by byronkho

Should I get a haircut there? I feel like it’s a bunch of liberals making an ironic statement about guns, but I’m too lazy to think about it, or walk in there and ask. It’s just hair, people. Not an art gallery. And I wonder they pass on the art surcharge to their customers?

Just another alley, lit up by orbs of dazzling light.

Schell St. But whatever, it kinda looks like Hell sometimes.

This owl lives near me. It never catches anything, but hopefully scares the bejesus out of those giant rats migrating from the trash heaps on South St.

At Doobie’s with our favorite imaginary friend. Did not get to keep that monster. Too bad.

A shot of Vienna Teng and Alex Wong from the back of the house.

I have REPAIRED the wall.