Mar 28, 2011

Catherine The Great


A few weeks ago Yun took me to see an opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I don't know the name of what we saw but it was a clever show. We didn't make it through the whole show. At halftime, Yun asked if I had enough and did I want to go and eat something. I was hungry so I agreed. There is a little restaurant across the street called Berlyn. You literally feel like you are in the real Berlin. The joint was completely empty. We ordered and were waiting for our food when Yun said to me quietly, "that looks like Catherine Deneuve right behind you." I turned around to look, then I turned back to Yun and said, "that IS Catherine Deneuve." She put on her coat and walked past us to the door. Once outside I saw a bunch of paparazzi flashing away at her. She smiled and smoked her cigarette for them. I read later that the Brooklyn Academy of Music was doing a retrospective of all of her films. She must have been there to speak. It's funny that within a few months, Yun and I have run into her and Gerard Depardieu. I'm half expecting to run into Marice Chevalier any day now.

Mar 24, 2011

Jin


Whenever I work in Korea, there is a film production guy named Djinn who takes me around. He speaks broken English and is very quiet and shy. In fact, he is so quiet I can't get a read on him. One night, the entire crew went out for karaoke. There was a dozen of us and we were all drinking. Everyone was taking their turn singing. At some point I saw Djinn get up. He is so shy that I thought, this is going to be boring, I might as well go to the bathroom. When he opened his mouth I nearly fell on the floor. He was incredible. In fact, he was amazing. A regular Englebert Humperdink. I completely misjudged him. It made me think about how else I may have misjudged this guy. Maybe he's a complete superstar. I went bowling with him one night and he's a decent bowler too. He also told me he plays in a baseball league and he's the teams starting pitcher. I wonder what else he has up his sleeve.

Mar 22, 2011

Fish Tale




My mother-in-law Jenny is a Buddhist. Occasionally my wife will ask me to accompany her on a Buddhist mission. These only occur when the moon is full. We mostly drive around poor neighborhoods and toss lots of quarters out the windows. It's actually really fun. My wife said that before we met, her mom had her do lots of other rituals like sleep with all the lights on in the apartment. The most extreme one was when she told Yun to go to Chinatown and buy a live carp. Then she wanted her to set it free in the Hudson River. Yun told her mom she had gone too far. She just wasn't up to carrying a giant wriggling carp around the streets of Manhattan in the dead of winter. Recently I was on a business trip to Korea. I had a weekend free, so a co-worker suggested we travel to Busan. It's a city on the ocean. A sort of beach town. I told Yun what I was doing and she got very excited. She told me her father and grandfather grew up there. Yun knew the place well having visited many times as a kid to see her family. I went with 3 co-workers, all female. One of them is named Joanne. She's my producer. Joanne possesses certain mystical powers. She can sense when things are going to happen before they do, communicate with the deceased, that kind of thing. Anyway, Natalie, who is a Korean girl I work with, took us to eat in these small plastic outdoor tents on the beach. They barely fit 5 people. You sit at a tiny counter in front of a few long fish tanks. Inside are live clams, mussels, crabs and other assorted sea creatures I've never seen before. Joanne started to freak out. There was only one fish in the tanks. The fish was somewhat large. It stayed at the end of the tank right in front of Joanne just staring at her. She couldn't take it any longer, so she had Natalie ask the owner in Korean if she could buy the fish. Joanne wanted to set the fish free in the ocean. The woman said she could have it for 20 bucks. Joanne asked me if I thought it was a crazy idea. At that point, I told her about my mother-in-law's request to Yun. I told her I actually thought it was a brilliant idea. I noticed it was very close to being a full moon. The owner told us we were not the first to try this stunt. She also said the fish would have no problem returning to the sea, although I had my doubts. The owner reached into the tank with a towel and pulled the fish out as water splashed and overflowed everywhere. She placed it in a big plastic bag filled with water. We all ran down to the ocean under the moon lit sky, laughing our asses off. I ripped open the bag and the huge fish jumped out before I was ready. He was flapping about by the water's edge. I quickly picked him up and tossed him into the end of a wave. I saw him quickly swim out to freedom. It happened so fast that I was completely shocked. I half expected him to keep washing up on the shore. I thought I'd have to toss him in a few times but he was alive and gone. We were all laughing and jumping for joy. Joanne took out her camera and pointed it at the moon. Her camera has one of those sensors that detects if someone is smiling. When she went to take the shot of the moon, the smile detector activated. She looked at us in disbelief and said, nothing like that had ever happened before. We went back to our hotel to call Yun and tell her what we just did. The first thing I did was ask her if it was a full moon or not. Yun said it was indeed a full moon, but not just any old full moon. It was a Supermoon, which only occurs every 7 years. What makes it super is that the earth, moon and sun are all in line with the moon being in its nearest approach to the earth. Yun's mother told her that their deceased ancestors had channeled through Joanne to help cause the Buddhist goodwill fish offering. That mixed with Joanne's catholic, telepathic, karma vibrations had made for a very interesting night. Just think of all the wonderful luck it's going to bring us. Yun's mom is always selling me on this Buddhist stuff. I know there has to be something to it but after this event I'm now a true believer.

Honor System


When you ride the bullet train in Korea, it is done on the honor system. That means there are no conductors checking if you have a ticket. They just assume everyone riding the train has bought a ticket like they should as good citizens. Can you imagine something like that in the United States? No way. No one tries to beat the system in Korea. They are very impressive people. I should also add that the ride I took was about 50 bucks each way. Think about that.