Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Taking a Break

What the heck is going on here? There I was, chugging along with a fairly nice head of steam, posting every day and ending each day with the next day’s post in mind and then last week things just seemed to fall apart on me. As much as I want to blame the caffeine and beer, I have to be honest with you, it was the learnin’ that got me.

I spent the last week in training for a software package we recently purchased at the office and this training was very intellectually challenging. It has been a long time since I got home from anything and I was physically tired because of the amount of thinking I had been doing that day. It was exhausting in a very pleasant way. I am sure part of my exhaustion comes from the fact that much of the training, which was in digital forensics, took place about three levels above what I actually understand about computers and therefore I was having to spend time either Googling for information to fill in the blanks or, far more often, trying to make leaps of logic on my own. I find this happening fairly often in my new job. People assume that I know far more about computers and how they work than I actually know, therefore I am forever having to make things up as I go along or channeling my kung fu inscrutability and telling people I think I can do something but I have to check on something else first. It is both fun and terrifying as I enjoy the challenges this presents but I am also worried that someone is going to figure out that I don’t know as much as I pretend to know. I guess I will just have to plant those special poppies around the castle to keep people out.

As I said the training was, while intellectually exhausting, a lot of fun and it provided me with another one of those, “Gee, this really is a small world, isn’t it?” moments. One of the trainers was a guy from my high school graduating class. We went to school together from 5th grade through high school and knew one another because we were both in band. Beyond that we did not really run in the same social circles. When he walked in on the second day of training and I heard his name I had that moment where I was wondering if he was the same guy I had gone to school with. I didn’t ask because I am really uptight about stupid things and I wanted to save myself the embarrassment of being wrong. (I HATE being wrong.) His voice was familiar, however I am a stubborn fool and so the question wasn’t resolved until the lunch break when he asked where I had gone to school. We chatted about old friends and had the “Where Are They Now?” catch-up session in which I discovered I have inadvertently kept track of far more people I knew in high school than I thought. (And this doesn’t even count the ones I have stalked on the internet.) It was cool to reconnect with someone I had not seen in over fourteen years.

Now that I have given you my excuse for the last couple of weeks I need to move in to making my excuses for the next four weeks. Tomorrow is November 1st and this marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month and after missing the boat last year I have thrown my hat in the ring. For those of you unfamiliar with National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it is affectionately called by the left coast collective that came up with this little brain-burner, the entire point is to write a 50,000 word piece of prose between November 1st and November 30th. A quick bit of math will tell you that this works out to 1666.67 words per day. To give you an idea of how many words that is, this is the 684th word of this post and I just pushed past the first page of this post in MS Word. Three pages of prose a night is definitely an achievable end, particularly since the key to completion is not to edit at all and that (besides poorly constructed run-on sentences) is my single largest problem as a writer. I end up working on a project and getting about ten pages in before the need to revise takes over and I end up with about five pages of polished text before I am burned out or have lost the thread of my story. This time the quality of writing doesn’t matter, just the quantity; the goal is to reach the 50,000-word mark by midnight, November 30th. It is definitely doable.

All of this is by way of saying that I am going to take a break from writing for the Opiate. Over the next thirty days I need to concentrate my writing time on crossing this particular finish line. On top of that we have this little thing called Thanksgiving crammed in there at the end of the month which means I am going to have to be spending some quality time with the family (not that I mind) right in the midst of that critical, “Oh God I have slacked off all month and need a couple of caffine and Monster fueled nights of mad writing to get this done,” time period.

Before I sign off for the month I had a couple of house keeping things to do:

  • My brother sent me a link to The Marmot’s Hole, a blog about Korea from the vantage point of an ex-pat.
  • Somewhere I stumbled across OhMyNews.com which appears to be an experiment in citizen journalism based in Korea. There I stumbled across this article where I learned that part of Gyeongbokgung had just been opened the weekend I was there at the palace on my most recent trip.
  • I have FINALLY posted the pictures from my trip to Tokyo and Korea in my Webshots account. I broke them down in to Tokyo Cityscapes, Tomioka Hachiman Shrine, Senso-ji Temple, Meiji-jingu Shrine, Hanshin Tigers Game, Sengaku-ji Temple, Imperial Palace, Seoul Cityscapes, War Memorial, Deoksugung, Korea House, and Gyeongbokgung. You may note that there are no pictures of my friend, Nobuyuki, or his family. He asked that I not post pictures of them to the internet. This spring and summer the ultra-national fundamentalists in Japan have discovered a taste for the terrorist actions and since Nobuyuki is active in national politics in Japan (and about a diametrically opposed to everything the jingoist fundamental choad weasels stand for) he thinks it would be safer if no pictures of his family appear on the web. I think it is sad that we have to take precautions like this however I will certainly do nothing to put them at risk and would have not posted them without any explanation at all. (It is too bad, too, because there is a really funny picture of me cutting up with his kid.) Sorry it took me so long to get this done.
  • If anyone wants to keep track of how I am doing or be a writing buddy, my NaNoWriMo user ID is, surprise surprise, funkywoodjam.
  • Happy Halloween!
I think that is pretty much it.

Wish me luck cause here goes nothing.

(1,254 words.)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

FWJ - Fashion Plate

I have always suspected that Christina Aguilera's latest song, "Ain't No Other Man," referred to me, but I was a bit skeptical about the line discussing style. Then I read this column in the November issue of Details (yes, I read Details. Shut it.)

Take a closer look at #3, thoughtfully magnified for you by yours truly:

That's right, according to Isaac Mizrahi I might actually be hipper than I knew. I thought it important you all know this so you can treat me with the appropriate amount of deference.

Tags: FWJ, MyWorld

Friday, October 20, 2006

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 10-18-2006

I am almost all caught up with comics so you know what this means? Still no commentary for you! My brother is coming to visit this weekend and I still have too much to do to get the casa ready so I haven’t been able to read enough. Maybe next week.

  • 52 #24
    • Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid, Writers
    • Keith Giffen, Art Breakdowns
    • Phil Jimenez, Penciller
    • Andy Lanning, Inker
  • The Authority #1
    • Grant Morrison, Writer
    • Gene Ha, Artist
  • Batman and the Mad Monk #3
    • Matt Wagner, Writer & Artist
  • Birds of Prey #99
    • Gail Simone, Writer
    • James Raiz, Penciller
    • Robin Riggs, Inker
  • Catwoman #60
    • They’re still doing f-ed up credits so you’ll get none and like it.
  • Checkmate #7
    • Greg Rucka, Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir, Writers
    • Cliff Richards, Penciller
    • Bob Wiacek & Dan Green, Inkers
  • Conan #33
    • Timothy Truman, Writer
    • Cary Nord, Artist
  • The Flash, The Fastest Man Alive #5
    • Danny Bilson & Paul Demeo, Writers
    • Ron Adrian, Penciller
    • Alex Lei & Rob Lea, Inkers
  • Highlander #1
    • Brandow Jerwa and Michael Avon Oeming, Writers
    • Lee Moder, Artist
  • Queen & Country #31
    • Greg Rucka, Writer
    • Chris Amnee, Artist
  • Red Sonja #15
    • Michael Avon Oeming, Writer
    • Mel Rubi & Stephen Sadowski, Artists
  • Rex Mundi #2
    • Arvid Nelson, Writer
    • Juan Ferreyra, Artist
  • Robin #155
    • Adam Beechen, Writer
    • Freddie E. Williams II, Artist
  • Shadowpact #6
    • Bill Willingham, Writer
    • Cory Walker, Artist
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four #35
    • Mike Carey, Writer
    • Pasqual Ferry, Artist
  • Union Jack #2 (of 4)
    • Christos N. Gage, Writer
    • Mike Perkins, Penciller
    • Andrew Hennessy, Inker
  • Wildcats #1
    • Grant Morrison, Writer
    • Jim Lee, Penciller
    • Scott Williams, Inker
  • Wolverine #47
    • Marc Guggenheim, Writer
    • Humberto Ramos, Penciller
    • Carlos Cuevas, Inker
  • X-Men: First Class #2 (of 8)
    • Jeff Parker, Writer
    • Roger Cruz, Penciller
    • Victor Olazaba, Inker

Tags: Comics

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Opiate Goes World Wide

Today was a red banner day for visitors from other countries here on the Opiate. In addition to the usual mob from Texas that reads I had visitors from Japan (Hi Corey!), Mexico, Hungary, China, Norway, Spain, and Canada. On top of that I learned that the Opiate placed second in the Google search for "birthday parties opiate of the masses" (you can view the results here) and third in a Google search for "is Kim Jong a crossdresser" (results here). My question to the person from Pennsylvania wondering about the Dear Reader's dressing habits is, "Do we really care? He has nukes and we're represented at the UN by this guy."

Something about glasses houses and throwing stones. Anyways, I just wanted to share.

Tags: Opiate

The Military Commissions Act of 2006

When I read about Bush signing the Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law I tried to dig up some outrage. I looked down in me and found I really had nothing but an acute sadness. George Walker Bush managed to join a select group of Presidents which includes such luminaries as Franklin Delano Roosevelt (and here) and John Adams (and here), a feat of which I, quite frankly, thought he was incapable. While inaugurating himself into this august company President Bush also took the largest step in conceding the “War on Terror” to the terrorists. The best piece I have seen so far is this from Keith Olbermann:

He pretty much said everything I was thinking and I was a little down about it. Then I read this:
When, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident: that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence indeed, will dictate, that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
In the 230 years since those words were written they have become one of the sacraments of liberty and they make me tear up a little every time I read them.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What're the Odds?

My whiney bitchfest continued today at work. I managed to whinge to Nikki via IMs for about 30 minutes. Most of the ground I covered in last night’s depressed-fest so I will spare you the gory details however I did some thinking about dating, or more specifically how I behave while dating, that I felt worthy of sharing before we actually get to the point of today’s post. When I start dating someone I want to spend all the time I can with them however I happen to have a lot of free time and therefore have to fight the urge to call/email/text the person to see if they want to hang out all the time. I don’t want to come off as overly needy and/or pushy. So I successfully fight the urge to do this and then I start to worry that I might be coming off as stand-offish or disinterested. Can anyone answer this particular conundrum?

Okay, on with the post. So part of my complaining to Nikki was that my life is really stuck in a bit of a rut right now. I went on and on about it and eventually got cheered up by taking cheap shots at people and cities who think banning smoking in bars is the Right Thing to Do™. (More on this tomorrow.) Once I felt better about myself it was time to surf the web where, from parts unknown, I stumbled across xkcd.com which tickled my funny-bone so I settled in to read it all. 137 strips in I stumbled across this gem, the major text of which is:

The infinite possibilities each day holds should stagger the mind. The sheer number of experiences I could have is uncountable, breathtaking, and I’m sitting here refreshing my inbox. We live trapped in loops, reliving a few days over and over, and we envision only a handful of paths laid out ahead of us. We see the same things each day, we respond the same way, we think the same thoughts, each day a slight variation on the last, every moment smoothly following the gentle curves of societal norms. We act like if we just get through today, tomorrow our dreams will come back to us.

And no, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know how to jolt myself into seeing what each moment could become. But I do know one thing: the solution doesn’t involve watering down my every little idea and creative impulse for the sake of some day easing my fit into a mold. It doesn’t involve tempering my life to better fit someone’s expectations. It doesn’t involve constantly holding back for fear of shaking things up.

Once again my wanderings on the Internet have offered up some bit of advice addressing my crisis du jour. I felt the need to share.


I totally do this:

Tags: FWJ, Dating

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"Its not like me I'm DEPRESSED!"

Okay, so it is like me. I managed to fend off my annual birthday funk until almost two weeks after the fact. I would like to thank the Korean Krud I managed to come down with after my visit there and all the people who showed up at my place Saturday night for one of the rockinest parties I have ever had the honor of co-hosting for the help. But now all that is behind me and for some reason today was just the day that it decided to rear its ugly head. Tonight I took myself out to dinner at Auntie Chang's and then over to Downing for a couple of Monte Cristos and Kronenbourg 1164s. While at Downing I wrote several pages in my journal which I kind of intended to just scan and post here in lieu of actually writing anything for the Opiate ('cause Lord knows I don't have enough stuff on my plate to write about already, travelouges, three or four book reviews, my thoughts on the couple of new shows I am watching this season, and the DPRK's preparing for another nuclear test). Then I was thinking about what I wrote and I can really sum it up for you in one fairly simple sentence. I am a whiney little bitch who feels alone in the world and wanted to cry about it tonight. Oh well, I will spare you the whining and promise more entertaining content tomorrow night. Until then have a good one!

Tags: FWJ

Monday, October 16, 2006

What Pyongyang Really Wants

Guess what? I was thinking about the Korean situation a little more the other night and it has occurred to me what the leaders in Pyongyang really want and I thought I would share my revelation with you. I believe their demands could really be boiled down to that they want to sit down with the United States one-on-one to talk. Why is this so important to them? Particularly in today’s world where there are plenty of other nations out there willing to work with them just to spite the United States.

In order to answer this question we have to dig back a couple of years. It is important to remember that this is something we have been dealing with since 1989 when satellite photos indicate new construction at Yongbyon which leads U.S. intelligence analysts to believe that North Korea is in the early stages of building a nuclear weapon. North Korea signed on to the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) in 1985 but had yet to allow international teams to inspect its nuclear facilities. Inspectors are not on the ground in North Korea until some time in 1992 however they are quickly rebuffed and within a year Hans Blix admits that the inspectors cannot assure the rest of the world that North Korea has suspended its nuclear programs.

North Korea has had a nuclear power program since 1965 when the Soviet Union assembled a IRT-2M research reactor in Yongbyon. By 1980 the North Koreans had begun construction on a 5MWe reactor and by August of 1985 this reactor was on-line. Why did they wait until 1989 to start a nuclear arms program?

Of course the argument could be made that they had not waited at all and have been working on atomic weapons all along. I believe if this were the case, or rather if they had been making a serious effort before 1989, we would have heard about it by now therefore I feel safe making the assumption that any nuclear program in the country before 1989 was not a serious, concerted effort. This brings us back to the question of why wait until 1989? They had the material and, presumably, the knowledge in place since 1985 to begin a program.

I believe the answer lies in events that were taking place on the other side of the world. With Mikhail Gorbachev’s ascension to the post of General Secretary of the Central Party of the Soviet Union the world began to see a radical shift in the balance of power which found its ultimate expression in November of 1989 when the Berlin Wall was torn down. What this indicated was that the Soviet’s, the primary patrons of communist states around the world including North Korea, were turning their eyes inward to deal with their internal problems. This effort would ultimately “fail” resulting in the dissolution of the Soviet Union a mere two years later. This retreat from the world left several states in a state of limbo, notably North Korea.

Why was the Soviet Union so important to North Korea, particularly considering the close ties they have had with China? According to Don Oberdorfer’s book The Two Koreas the regime in Pyongyang became very adept at playing China and the Soviet Union off of each other after the Sino-Soviet split. This gave North Korea a degree of power in the region that was completely divorced from any economic or other considerations. They were able to provide the Soviets with information or not provide the Soviets with information and this made them powerful. Therefore in the years from 1989 to 1991, not only did they lose the financial support provided by the Soviet Union, but they were reduced to a Chinese client state, a geopolitical reality which terrified the regime in Pyongyang.

Ultimately North Korea wants to be our “friend” so they can continue the game they have played since the late ‘50s however instead of pitting Moscow against Beijing, they want to pit Washington against Beijing. Still unsure? Read this quote from an unnamed North Korean official:
It would be good for the United States to have us as a neutral buffer state in this dangerous area. Who knows, perhaps there are ways in which the United States could benefit from our ports and out intelligence if we become friends.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Last night we had a party and I am VERY hungover today therefore in lieu of any actual content I would like to offer this video of my reaction to a truly foul drink Scott inflicted on me on my birthday. Have a good one, I am headed back to bed.

Okay, while I was logging on to YouTube to get the links to my video I found this:

I haven't even got the words.

Tags: FWJ, MyWorld, Music

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 10-11-06

My backlog of reading continues.

  • 52 #23
    • Still the same group.
  • Annihilation #3 (of 6)
    • Keith Giffen, Writer
    • Andrea DiVito, Artist
  • Battlestar Galactica #2
    • Greg Pak, Writer
    • Nigel Raynor, Artist
  • DMZ #12
    • Brian Wood, Writer & Artist
  • Fables #54
    • Bill Willingham, Writer
    • Mark Buckingham, Penciller
    • Steve Leialoha & Andrew Pepoy, Inkers
  • Gen 13 #1
    • Gail Simone, Writer
    • Talent Caldwell, Penciller
    • Matt Banning, Inker
  • Green Arrow #67
    • Judd Winick, Writer
    • Scott McDaniel, Penciller
    • Andy Owens, Inker
  • Green Lantern Corps #5
    • Dave Gibbons, Writer & Penciller
    • Michael Bair & Keith Champagne, Inkers
  • JLA Classified #28
    • Howard Chaykin, Writer
    • Kilian Plunkett & Tom Nguyen, Artists
  • Legends of the Dark Knight #211
    • Bruce Jones, Writer
    • Ariel Olivetti, Artist
  • Powers #20
    • Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
  • Tales of the Unexpected #1 (of 3)
    • David Lapham & Brian Azarello, Writers
    • Eric Battle, Penciller
    • Prentis Rollins, Inker
    • Cliff Chiang, Artist
  • Ultimate Power #1 (of 9)
    • Brian Michael Bendis, Writer
    • Greg Land, Penciller
    • Matt Ryan, Inker
  • Uncanny X-Men #479
    • Ed Brubaker, Writer
    • Billy Tan, Penciller
    • Danny Miki with Allen Martinez, Inkers
  • Wolverine Origins #7
    • Daniel Way, Writer
    • Steve Dillon, Artist
Tags: Comics

Friday, October 13, 2006

Alocohol - The New Republican Excuse

I think we all know that deep down inside I am not a good person. (And anyone who wants to buy me this shirt is more than welcome too. Remember I wear a 3XL. DAMN THEM! They don't have it any more. Oh well.) I am also pretty sure that we are all aware of my fondness for a bit of the drinking. Therefore it should come as no surprise to any of you that I chuckled a little when I heard Mark Foley was trying to foist the “I have a drinking problem” excuse off on the public as some flimsy defense for his jackass behavior. Seriously, I have been D-R-U-N-K a few times in my life, debilitating so on a couple of occasions. Not once in the depths of my drunkeness has it occurred to me that I would like some of that sweet, sweet underage page.

I agree that people will do dumb things when drunk. Heck, I do SPECTACULARLY dumb things when I am drunk. Ultimately there is a limit to what you will do when drunk. There is an old saying, in vino veritas, which means “in wine there is truth.” This is meant to speak to the effect wine or alcohol has on people’s inhibitions. Taking it a step further it also means that when you do something while you are drunk that thing was already inside you.

Today I read this article and find out that Bob Ney is attempting to use the “I’m a boozehound” smokescreen as well. Is this the new Republican plan? The plan from the people who have for the past several elections held themselves up as the party of traditional values? I know this might not fly in Boston, but my version of traditional values does not include using the excuse “I have a drinking problem” when faced with accusations like sending dirty messages to children or selling my office and integrity to Jack Abramoff.

I know one with any pull in the Republican political machine reads this blog, however I am going to say this anyways. In order to prevent the upcoming election from becoming a rout Republicans need to start standing up and accepting their misdeeds. I have far more respect for a man who will stand in front of me and say, “Yes, I took the money and I knew it was wrong when I did it,” than I do for a man who tries to shuffle the blame around to some other problem. My basic advice to Republicans? Be men. Own your misdeeds and be contrite in public. I think you will find your base much more forgiving than you give the credit for.

Oh well, I meant for this to be funny, not all ranty, so I will close with this quote from the February 28th episode of The Colbert Report:

“Wanna prepare the perfect Truthtini? That’s two parts vodka, no part fact.”


Thursday, October 12, 2006

White and Nerdy

I found that I do not have the emotional wherewithal to write about the situation in Korea today. I have started a piece several times however I find as I read through my source material and look at the pictures I was going to post I end up being too sad to really write anything. Well, not too sad, but 50% sad and 50% ready to go kick someone in the Dear Beanbag. In order to make myself feel better I decided to take the White and Nerdy quiz to see if I am unhip enough to roll with Weird Al’s crew. Here are my results:

You are 56% white and nerdy.
How White and Nerdy Are You?

I am not sure what 56% indicates above and beyond the fact that I did not score as high on this as I expected. Of course the questions steered away from my particular nerd-space.

I found that this exercise did not cheer me up as much as I hoped so I went to YouTube.com, where I recently created an account to increase my nerditude, and watched some Celebrity Jeopardy episodes. These were the grade A prime rib of Will Ferrel’s tenure on SNL. Then I found this:

Celebrity Jeopardy makes me happy. Weird Al makes me happy. The two of them together? This borders on nerdgasm.

There we go. I am in a much better mood now. Tomorrow I will see if I can tackle a slightly more serious subject as promised.

Bonus Content

It occurs to me that some of you out there might not be quite as up to date on the whole Weird Al experience. Therefore I would like to offer you this, his latest video, which will make the quiz that kicked off today’s post make a bit more sense.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Nuclear Notes

I don’t have another long post about the Korean situation in me today. I am kind of tired about thinking about the whole mess however I have found a couple of items worth sharing.

1. This article by Selig S. Harrison has some interesting things in it, including validation on my thoughts on the current political dynamic in Pyongyang. It is nice to be right.

2. This article which is the first in-depth look I have seen dealing with the effect the test has had on North-South relations on the peninsula and how it affects people. I will be quoting from this in tomorrow’s piece where I discuss my visit to the War Memorial of Korea and my hopes for Korea and her people.

3. More jackassery from North Korea. These guys really f-ing piss me off. Despite my gloomy outlook on things in yesterdays post I am wondering what these people are thinking. Do they really think they could win a war?

4. Speaking of yesterday’s post I meant to briefly discuss how the North Korean regime would be able to unify their population for short-term military adventurism however it slipped my mind. During my first visit to Korea I was inspired by the South Korean’s quiet confidence that one day Korea would be reunified and I came away with the same quiet confidence. Once I was home I began reading about Korea, wanting to learn more, and I began to understand the depth of the division which has been created between the two Koreas. The central pillar of the North Korean cult of personality is the concept of juche (or here), which can be roughly translated as self-reliance. (I find it interesting in juxtaposition to the unofficial motto of the USFK (United States Forces Korea)/CFC (Combined Forces Command) which is “We go together” or “Katchi Kapshida!”) Considering Korea’s history with its neighbors, particularly the Japanese occupation of the peninsula from 1910 through the end of World War II, the ideal of self-reliance would be very attractive to Koreans. When you couple this with the almost complete control the regime in Pyongyang has over the media consumption of its population and the fact that, with the regime having been in control since 1948, you have a few generations who have grown up under this complete control, you have a recipe for a populace which would be amenable to this sort of action, at least for a short time.

Tomorrow more on the situation in Korea combined with a bit of my travelogue.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Worst Case Scenario

With North Korea’s little test coming at the time it did, with my brother stationed in South Korea for another five days before he musters out of the Army and rejoins civilian life, I think it goes without saying that I have been watching and thinking about the situation more than I normally would. On top of that I have friends in Korea and, quite honestly, have fallen in love with the country during my two visits. Therefore it was a bit of trepidation that I wandered down the thought process I am going to share with you here.

The key assumption in this scenario, and I feel this is a fairly good one, is that the fact that the DPRK performed the nuclear test indicates that Kim Jong-Il is listening to the more hard-line elements in his government. I believe the fact that they carried out the test so soon after making the announcement, which did not have time to really play and mature into options on the table with the international community, merely reinforces the fact that conciliatory parties in Pyongyang are on the margins of current decision-making.

The first action from the international community is going to be a severe reduction in the aid which flows in to North Korea. To be honest only three countries, China, South Korea, and Japan, need to cut off their aid to North Korea to cripple the country and Japan is already taking measures to isolate North Korea. The cessation of aid from these countries will put the administration in Pyongyang in a tight spot. Winter is rapidly approaching and China has just turned off the pumps which provide the DPRK with 70% of its fuel supplies. This means the DPRK either needs to bow to international pressure and sit down at the table or they have a very limited time before their ability to do anything but wither and die evaporates. Really the only thing they have to offer the international community are the lives of the civilian population, which by this point is flooding into China seeking aid, and their nuclear program. Add to this the fact that we have hard-liners advising Kim Jong-Il. The hard-liners might think they need a better position from which to bargain with the rest of the world.

Now lets take a look at the geography of Korea and the disposition of military forces across the peninsula.

The Korean Peninsula is basically a spine of mountains with narrow coastal plains down the east and west coast. This forces the majority of the population of South Korea to concentrate in a few urban areas, with Seoul being the crown jewel. Almost 40% of the population of South Korea lives in the greater Seoul metropolitan area, a metropolitan area which is only 30 miles from the DMZ which divides the country. The ROK, US, and DPRK have all positioned their military forces accordingly. According to the summary of OPLAN 5027, which is the US-ROK Combined Forces Command basic war plan for a second war on the Korean Peninsula, on GlobalSecurity.org:
Pyongyang can credibly threaten the prompt destruction of Seoul with conventional arms alone…North Korea has about 500 long-range artillery tubes within range of Seoul, double the levels of the mid-1990s. Seoul is within range of the 170mm Koksan gun and two hundred 240mm multiple-rocket launchers. The proximity of these long-range systems to the Demilitarized Zone threatens all of Seoul with devastating attacks…Without moving any artillery pieces, the North could sustain up to 500,000 rounds an hour against Combined Forces Command defenses for several hours.
Kind of scary, isn’t it? In addition to the threat to Seoul, again representing close to 40% of the population, there is the wider threat that the DPRK could, “…attack with minial preparations. This means a surprise attack on South Korea is possible at any time without a prior redeployment of its units,” and, “…a war could explode after a warning of only a few hours or days…” (Again from the GlobalSecurity.org summary of OPLAN 5027.)

Now we have a group of hard-liners who feel like they are in a “use ‘em or lose ‘em” scenario. They have a hard winter coming and very limited supplies of food and fuel. They have a target approximately 30 miles away which will give them 23 million or so lives with which to bargain with. While it is a gamble, it is not a completely unreasonable idea that the DPRK could invade the south with the limited objectives of capturing Seoul and the Han River Valley. The reading I have done indicates that most military planners accept that the North Koreans would see some success in the initial thirty days of a broad offensive. How much could they improve their chances by concentrating their attack on the one place that matters?

The current situation with the United States military just adds to the incentive for North Korea to do this now rather than wait. OPLAN 5027 is predicated on the forces currently in theater to fight a defensive campaign against the invading North while U.S. forces are brought in from the rest of the world. We are currently having trouble meeting our needs and commitments due to the number of boots on the ground in Iraq. If North Korea starts a war right now I believe we would have trouble mustering the troops to push them north of the DMZ. Add to this the fact that North Korea might be banking on China’s fear of a U.S. client state right on its doorstep for some sort of regime preservation and things could get very messy in Korea very quickly.

You’ll notice that I did not mention the North Korean nuclear threat in this scenario. This is because, as I have stated previously, I do not believe the North Koreans would use nuclear weapons on the peninsula, particularly against urban areas such as Seoul. The amount of arable land on the Korean Peninsula is very limited and I believe this would be a major factor in the North Korean plans. This does not mean the North might not attempt to use nuclear weapons against U.S. forces stationed in Japan and Okinawa. In fact that is the perfect place for them to be used. They would eliminate the first round of reinforcements which would be brought to bear on the Korean situation and as Japan does not have any real offensive military power, its not like they can strike back in any meaningful way. Of course then you get into the question of how could the DPRK deliver these little care packages which, while possible, would be iffy at best.

Ultimately I do not believe this is how things will end up happening, but I found it to be an interesting mental exercise and thought I would share some of my thoughts with you kids. I promise I will bring back the funny at some point this week, but I think tomorrow’s piece is most likely going to be my thoughts on what this is doing to the Korean people, a story which, so far, has been under-reported.

Monday, October 09, 2006

"So do I get a jacket?"

I could not help but think of that 1986 classic The Manhattan Project when I read a headline stating that “North Korea Joins the Nuclear Club” or some thing along those lines. And here I was all set to drop some funny on you guys to start the week and then everyone’s favorite funnyman Kim Jong Il, aka the Dear Reader, decided to clear up his soju induced hangover by blowing up vast quantities of dirt.* I have struggled over what to write about the developing situation on the Korean peninsula but, to be completely honest, I am just tapped out about it. My brother and I have been talking about it since the DPRK announced their plans to perform a test detonation on the 3rd and we expected a test to come in a few months, if at all. I have struggled to write something, either a post here or a comment on Barry Eisler’s superlative blog The Heart of the Matter, and I just can’t find anything inside me except a deep sadness and worry for my friends, family, and acquaintances in Korea. Then I stumbled across this on the CNN website and decided that the best way to get back in a good mood about this whole thing is to viciously mock idiots who feel the need to express themselves on the Internet.

First up we have David Justin Lynch from Palm Springs, California opining that:
The entire international community should impose economic sanctions. No food, no medicine, no fuel, nada. Yes, refugees will stream across the border into China. The international community can then mount a foreign aid effort. Then the regime will collapse. The United Nations then moves in and installs a caretaker government, followed by free elections to install a democracy.
Yes David, this is exactly what should happen except that we have seen that the international community does not have the stomach to punish a civilian population for the misdeeds of their leaders (please see any number of articles on the effectiveness of sanctions against Iraq after the first Gulf War.) Should we go far enough to concede that the fall of Kim Jong Il’s regime can be brought about by sanctions then we have the UNs enviable record of nation-building to deal with. The best option at that point would be to allow the Korean people to vote on a reunification referendum which I think would pass with an amazing majority. The trick at that point would be to convince China that they want to allow a U.S. client state on their border which, when combining South Korea’s business sector and North Korea’s under-utilized markets and natural resources, would become an economic powerhouse within a decade. Somehow I think China might not like this therefore we would have to settle for a North Korea which is a Chinese marionette; not too different from the situation we have today.

Then we have Judith Shade from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina:
This will probably get me on an even higher “watch list” but, after being a very successful parent, I know that one must back up one’s threats with action. These two-bit dictators have been taunting us and we’ve done nothing – worse than sending a kid into ‘timeout.’ We need to do the equivalent of spanking their little behinds…drop a well placed low level nuke real close to two palaces – one for the fruitcake in Iran and the other for the cross dresser in North Korea!
I think I could whip a little pop-psychology on Ms. Shade and spend a couple of hours tearing this one apart. First off do we really trust her that she is a, “very successful” parent? What are the criteria for that? Not raising a mass-murderer could certainly be one of the criteria but then that often takes some time to tell. Any of her kids want to let us in on how successful a parent she might be? Also what frackin’ watch list does she think this jackass opinion of hers will land her on? Hell, she’s advocating what G-Dub really wants to do here, however he is actually held back by the reality that if we dropped a nuclear weapon on Pyongyang the approximately 23 million civilians in the Seoul metropolitan area would be in immediate danger. The minute we start throwing nukes around is the minute that Kim Jong Il and his boys realize they have nothing else to loose and they would begin their assault across the DMZ. Of course they would be reticent to use nuclear weapons on Seoul and Inchon as the Han river valley is some of the best farming land in Korea, which is something on the order of 80% mountain so you don’t have a lot of arable land to waste. This does not exclude conventional attacks on just under half of the civilian population of South Korea, all within easy reach of the SCUD-C and Nodong missiles currently in North Korea’s arsenal. On top of that we would then be engaged in a war which we almost lost the first time around when we were not engaged in major combat operations anywhere else in the world. Finally we have to worry about what China might think about us tossing nukes in their back yard. Yes, clearly the “Nuke ‘em till they glow” approach is going to work well here. Oh yeah, and one more thing, the “fruitcake in Iran” is, much like Hitler and Bush, a democratically elected leader.

Tom Cox from the Great White North (that’s Canada) says:
Do unto others before they can do unto you. Do you really think during World War II that the Japanese would have hesitated to use a nuclear weapon on the U.S.A. if they had it in their arsenal?
First off I would like to say that this was much more aggressive than I was expecting from our first Canucklehead. Secondly I have to wonder whether Tom really thinks the current situation in North Korea and the situation the Japanese were in during WWII are comparable? We won’t even get in to a discussion of the differences in culture and so on that make the comparison a bit suspect, and probably irritating to my friends of Korean descent, and focus on the geopolitical realities of today and yesterday. Japan’s casus belli in opening a campaign against the United States was that we were putting the squeeze on them economically, particularly on the fuel front. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? Can we all say the word ‘sanctions’? I thought we could. To answer Tom’s question, of course the Japanese would have used a nuclear weapon on the U.S. Hell, they would probably have used a nuclear weapon on their own soil to prevent a U.S. invasion, but you know what? At the end of the day the Koreans, even the ones from the north, are not the Japanese and despite some common factors the world in 2006 is a bit different from the world in 1941. Besides, I do not see how the United States can justify another preemptive war when we have not managed to handle the one we started, and won according to some, in Iraq.

Hashim Muk restores my faith in the predictability of Canadian public opinion with:
If the U.S. can have 5,000 plus nuclear weapons, then everyone should have a right to develop nuclear arms to protect itself from U.S. and its allies.
Ah yes, my peace loving friend, the “well everyone else is doing it so we should be able to, too” argument; an oldie but goodie and one I do not wholly disagree with. Except when it comes to nuclear weapons. To date all of the nuclear arsenals in the world have been used exactly twice. Once in Hiroshima and once in Nagasaki. Since then the world has been to terrified of what the end result of nuclear arms are to actually use them again. If this was not the case why did the U.S. not make extensive use of tactical nukes during the Korean War? That certainly would have put the Chinese in their place and the Chinese bomb was still about a decade away. Even the closest we have come to war, the Cuban Missile Crisis, was averted at the last moment by men who were so terrified of the eventual result of their brinkmanship that they worked a last minute deal, even against the advice that many of their advisors were giving. Personally I believe the United States should give the same assurance to the rest of the world that China did in their statement of April 5, 1995, which reads, in part:
China undertakes not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States or nuclear-weapon-free zones at any time or under any circumstances. This commitment naturally applies to non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Treaty or the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons or non-nuclear-weapon States that have entered into any comparable internationally binding commitments not to manufacture or acquire nuclear explosive devices.
We have the bomb and, quite frankly, we have no need to use the bomb. Ignoring the incredible destruction we can whip out with conventional weapons with out the environmental issues from going nuclear on someone’s ass, world opinion would not stand for it. I realize this may seem like a weak argument with this crowd in office, however it still stands. There are limits to what these people are willing to do to piss off the rest of the world and dropping nukes on people is somewhere, perhaps barely, over that line.

Barb Homoki from Union City in Michigan adds:
Use diplomacy only. We’re already spread too thin with military in Iraq, in lives lost, injury to both sides and the outrageous cost. We need to call our military back to this country and stop being the planet’s enforcer/bully. Did someone “win” the last Korean War?
I agree with Barb on most of her points, although she sounds a little too isolationist and “we’re taking our toys and going home” for my taste however I thought it important to answer her question. Yes, someone did win the Korean War and it was China. Despite the fact that their involvement very well may have quashed Chairman Mao’s plans to invade Taiwan, the end of the Korean War provided them with a client state which is a buffer zone between the West. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, North Korea has come to play an even more important role in the Chinese approach to international diplomacy as it gives them a boogey-man they can use to scare other regional powers as well as tying down a substantial contingent of the U.S. military which could otherwise be used to defend Taiwan in case of an eventual attack there.

Michael Lunn of California has one of the more sensible posts when he says:
Well you don’t threaten a madman with military action. Because he’s just liable to blow up South Korea or Chinese soil. And the Chinese aren’t going to look too kindly at our “shoot him up” president causing a nuclear war. He wants one-on-one talks with the U.S. Give it to him. He’s a desperate man, and we have sanctioned his country to death. Diplomacy is the only way to deal with a madman. Threats and sanctions have not worked.
If Kim Jong Il is a madman, and while he is not completely sane I doubt he is barking at the moon insane, then why will negotiating with him work any better than threatening him? If he is insane then why should we trust what he says at the negotiating table as he might wake up the next morning and be off his meds, as we like to say. Of course the crux of the problem is that we can not give him what he wants, which is one-on-one talks with the United States. Then we are basically telling Iran that they need to build a nuke before we will listen to them. While there were steps we could have, and should have, taken years ago to avoid this mess, that is all water under the bridge now. We cannot give in to what Kim Jong Il so desperately wants and we cannot afford for a war to break out on the Korean peninsula. Where does that leave us?

Jeremy Norton from Rockmart, Georgia seems to know:
The world has no right to involve itself in this matter. Only powers such as South Korea, Japan, and China should worry themselves over this issue. Did the nuclear tests of India and Pakistan lead to the White House calling them a provocative action, no. The president should take no action on this matter, and deal with the messes he has already gotten us into. Not jump on to another one.
You’re right Jeremy. Nuclear proliferation is not a global issue and North Korea really just wants to be left alone to play with its toys which is why Pyongyang keeps demanding to have one-on-one talks with the U.S. And the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan did call down some condemnation, though not as much since this was actually the second round of tests India had engaged in, their first being in 1974. To be honest I have advocated a program of studied disinterest where the regional powers, including Russia and the U.S., feign complete and total disinterest in ANYTHING Pyongyang has to say that does not involve returning to the table for the six-party talks. “We’re going to test our nuclear weapon?” “Oh? Really? Let us know how that works out for you.” “We tested our nuclear weapon and it worked!” “That’s very nice for you.” And so on and so on. Ultimately North Korea’s misbehaviors are an attempt to get the attention of the world and say that they still matter so any attention we give them is a reward.

On the other hand Anthony Borelli from Land O’ Lakes (Isn’t that a kind of butter?) Florida thinks:
We should destroy their nuclear facilities by whatever means necessary. If we wait until they can put one of these weapons on a missile, they will blackmail is and the world over and over again until we are forced to fight…and risk absorbing a nuclear missile attack. We must strike now when they cannot strike back at the U.S. directly.
Oh shut the hell up. While North Korea has a missile program, as their test in July demonstrated they have some work to do before they can threaten us but ultimately that does not matter. What matters is that should we strike at his nuclear facilities we are, as I stated earlier, inviting the North Koreans to rain death and destruction down on the roughly 50% of the South Korean population that lives in the Seoul metro area. That’s about 23 million people. This doesn’t take into account what they might be able to do to Japan, where Kim Jong Il might be more willing o use nuclear weapons since he would not be destroying land he could conceivably control. The time for limited strikes is over. It is an all or nothing game now as far as military options go and I am betting on nothing.

Trevor Talbert from Garland, Texas has an interesting thought:
North Korea needs to be heavily sanctioned, and then open its borders to U.N. inspection, not only for nuclear arms, but for all banned weaponry. Hopefully, China will drop them as an ally, and they will be forced to comply or starve. North Koreans deserve a leader with their best intentions in mind, not one that simply beats his chest waving his manhood around. His power is fear, and fear is no way to govern a nation.
Very good Mr. Talbert. This is exactly the way this needs to play out, although I think we will be looking at sanctions so severe that the Kim regime will fall rather than buckle. I guess it is a manhood thing. However your final sentence sounds like something that our own nation is just now waking up to with the upcoming elections. Since 9-11 we have allowed an atmosphere of fear to drive our voting and public policy.

I tire of mocking people on the internet so I will leave you with this final thought from Chris Giarratano from NYC:
Each country should disarm their nuclear weapons.
Amen Chris, amen.

Oh yeah, and I would like to take a moment to open up the Opiate of the Masses first official pool. The question is:
How long until the Republican noise machine attempts to blame the Democrats for the timing of North Korea’s test?
Also if they attempt this tactic, which I am sure will come from Robert Novak, does this mean that they are admitting that under the Bush presidency they have lost control of the proliferation issue? If this is the case, and appears it is, the Democrats should run with it as a counter to the “Republicans make you safe” mantra which has been Karl Rove’s weapon of choice over the past six years.

* I so want to make a joke about Kim Jong Il’s love of the cinema and a desire to reenact some of the lamer parts of the lamentable Vertical Limit in which someone blows up some snow (and by snow I mean frozen water not cocaine) however I am not feeling up to the challenge.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Asian Bird Flu

Sorry for the lack of updates this week. Above and beyond having to deal with returning to real life after my week-long vacation, combating the jet-lag that comes with having adjusted your body to a time zone 14 hours ahead of your own, and partying it up on the 4th in celebration of my 33rd birthday (pictures of which can be viewed here), I have also managed to be dog-sick this week. Of course since I am what can be kindly referred to as a jackass and I just returned from Asia, I am telling everyone that I have come down with the Asian Bird Flu. Regardless of what you might think this is funny, funny stuff. So I was talking to my dad on Wednesday when he called to wish me a happy birthday and made the ABF joke. His response, which was the best so far, was to ask if the Asian bird was worth it. And my answer should have been she certainly could be, but we’ll have to see what, if anything, comes of it. Of course one or two of you might be wondering, “Asian bird?” What the hell is James talking about? Clearly he has finally gone off the deep end (which I typed as depend, make what jokes you will) and wandered in to complete incomprehensibility. This could not be further from the truth. The secret knowledge that my dad has that you people lack is that I got asked out on a date while in Seoul.

That’s right. I got asked out. By a girl.

I met Joo Young in a bar the first night we went out in Itaewon and, to be completely honest, was a little besotted with her. We chatted for far too long and then again when Charlie and I went back to the same bar the next night. This sort of chatting is always a bit comical for two reasons. First I have trouble hearing where there is a lot of background noise, even if the noise is at a fairly low level, and guess what bars tend to have in abundance? That’s right, background noise. The second, and more important reason, is that I have trouble understanding people with accented English. No matter how good their English is, until I am used to their accent, I generally understand about every third word and just try to fill in the blanks. This usually works, however couple the whole accent thing with the pronunciation difficulties some Koreans have with English words and this inability of mine becomes almost debilitating. Thus I am sure some things were said that I completely missed. These issues notwithstanding I really enjoyed spending time with Joo Young and was completely surprised when she informed me that she wanted to take me out to lunch.

I don’t think I have ever been asked out before in my life. Usually women are much more subtle and being the barely self-aware lout that I am, I am not often aware enough to pick up on their subtleties. But enough about that, lets get on with the date!

The morning started with a bit of trepidation. I am always a nervous wreck before a date. The primary reason for this is that I feel like I have nothing interesting to say. I get very nervous around women I find attractive and when I get nervous I clam up. Apparently in Asia, when coupled with my stature, comes off as being a tough guy rather than a nervous wreck. Thank God for cultural miscues.

First we met at the Starbucks in Itaewon (I am somewhat bothered by how ubiquitous Starbucks and other American chains were in Asia). I was a little nervous as I might have been a little intoxicated the two times I had seen Joo Young AND the lighting in the bar was, well lets just say it was a bit dark in there therefore I was hoping she would recognize me as I could not be certain of my ability to pick her out of a crowd. Then she was about ten minutes late which allowed my nervousness, which was at the “Butterflies in the Stomach but I can manage this” level to advance to “Gordian Knot and I might crap my pants” level, more commonly referred to as Defecon 2. I went ahead and ordered a drink in order to cover up my loitering and wandering through the seating area. Besides Chai tea always helps clam my nerves a bit and having a drink in hand allows me to cover up an uncomfortable silence by taking a drink. Oh well, she eventually showed and the date was on.

Initially I was going to write a detailed account of the date. Let you know where we went (Deoksugung Palace) and what we saw (an exhibition of art by Edvard Munch and Felicien Rops and the National Museum of Art) but you know what? None of that really matters. All that matters is that I really enjoyed the time I spent with Joo Young and there is a foolish part of me that wonders if we could have anything more.

This brings us back to the question, “Was the Asian bird worth it?” And the answer is an unreserved of course she is. Regardless of what else happens I will always have the memories of that afternoon and in the end that will have to be enough.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Republican Tomfoolery

Initially I was going to steer clear of the whole Tom Foley emails suggestive things to underaged pages imbroglio however last night I was talking to Charlie and it occurred to me what an idiot Dennis Hastert is and how his behavior bodes ill for the Republican Party (not that this is a bad thing in my mind.) When this scandal broke and it became clear that Hastert knew about Foley’s behavior he (Hastert) should have immediately called a press conference and fallen on his sword. The reason this scandal continues to get so much play in the news is because the Republican leadership knew about Foley’s behavior, chose to do nothing, and then begins playing rhetorical games and lying in order to cover up their own negligence.

I do not think it is too large of a logical leap to say that unless the Republicans put some MAJOR spin on the whole scandal, the longer this plays on the news, the more advantage the Democrats can reap without actually doing anything. While Hastert and several conservative media figures (most notably Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly) have been struggling to spin the scandal and throw mud on the Democrats (O”Reilly even going so far as to label Foley a Democrat on the graphics on his show), I think the effort is doomed to failure. Due to the amount of immoral behavior we have seen out of these chuckleheads their lame attempts to point fingers at the Democrats and say, “But they knew about it too,” is not going to serve as a distraction any more.

Imagine what would have happened if rather than engaging in bad politics Hastert conferred with the Republican leadership and then made the following announcement:

In 200* my office was made aware of a complaint which had been lodged against Representative Foley regarding some emails which at the time were characterized as over-friendly however due to the concerns of the persons involved in the matter I did not pursue it at the time. Additionally since I had not received any further information regarding this type of behavior on Representative Foley’s part I believed this to be a one-time indiscretion and therefore put it from my mind to continue with the business of government. Therefore it saddened me to learn over the last few days that this incident was not isolated but rather part of a pattern of behavior and in light of this I truly regret that my office did not take further steps to investigate the original complaint. Regardless of the wishes of the parties involved this failure to investigate was my decision and my decision alone, thus it is with a heavy heart that I must announce I am stepping down as Speaker of the House. I cannot continue, in good faith, to lead the House under the onus of my inaction and Representative Foley’s actions. Furthermore I will be canceling all of my planned public appearances so I can take some time to consider my future as a representative of the people of Ohio. However in the end these are just gestures, many will say empty gestures, and nothing I can ever do can illustrate how truly sorry I am that this was not addressed years ago. Thank you.

While this statement would have been shocking because it shows a politician standing up and taking responsibility for something he did or did not do, it would have taking the wind out of the scandal’s sails. Yes Foley would still be in the hot seat, however by merely stepping down as Speaker of the House, Hastert would have limited the usefulness of the scandal to the opposition and thus limited the damage to his party. Heck, after a statement like that I think a lot of people could have forgiven Hastert and anyone else who knew about it. We all make bad decisions and mistakes and the boys parents had given the leadership the out by saying they did not want an investigation, all someone had to do was admit to a mistake and appear to be apologetic rather than go on the offensive.

Besides, I have a feeling Hastert is not going to be Speaker of the House for much longer anyways, this seems like the perfect opportunity to give up nothing for some political gain.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 10-4-06

With the addition of the books listed below my comics to be read stack reaches the magical number of 62. I don’t know what is so magical about the number, but I felt it needed some embellishment. This being the case I am not going to be offering any commentary on comics for what I guess would be about the next month.

  • 52 #22
    • Guess who? You’re probably right.
  • Agents of Atlas #3 (of 6)
    • Jeff Parker, Writer
    • Leonard Kirk, Penciller
    • Kris Justice, Inker
  • All-New Atom, The #4
    • Gail Simone, Writer
    • Eddy Barrows, Penciller
    • Trevor Scott, Inker
  • Battler Britton #4 (of 5)
    • Garth Ennis, Writer
    • Colin Wilson, Artist
  • Criminal #1
    • Ed Brubaker, Writer
    • Sean Phillips, Artist
  • Detective Comics #824
    • Paul Dini, Writer
    • Don Kramer, Penciller
    • Wayne Faucher, Inker
  • Doctor Strange: The Oath #1 (of 5)
    • Brian K. Vaughn, Writer
    • Marcos Martin, Artist
  • Giant-Sized Wolverine #1
    • Some people
  • Leading Man #3 (of 5)
    • B. Clay Moore, Writer
    • Jeremy Haun, Artist
  • Mystery in Space #2 (of 8)
    • Jim Starlin, Writer
    • Shane Davis, Penciller
    • Matt “Batt” Banning, Inker
  • Nightwing #125
    • Marv Wolfman, Writer
    • Dan Jurgens, Layouts
    • Norm Rapmund, Finishes
  • The Other Side #1
    • Jason Aaron, Writer
    • Cameron Stewart, Artist
  • Outsiders #41
    • Judd Winick, Writer
    • Matthew Clark & Ron Randall, Pencillers
    • Art Thibert, Inker
  • The Winter Men #5
    • Brett Lewis, Writer
    • John Paul Leon, Artist
  • X-Men: Phoenix – Warsong #2 (of 5)
    • Greg Pak, Writer
    • Tyler Kirkham, Penciller
    • Sal Regla, Inker
Tags: Comics

Monday, October 02, 2006

FWJ World Tour Asia Wrap-up

I tried to write this yesterday, my eternal Sunday which, accounting for time difference, lasted about 32 hours, however at the Inchon airport I was a little too emotional and then I was just too strung out from traveling and attempting to reset my internal clock. An attempt which failed miserably as evidenced by the fact I slept through my alarm this morning for a new personal record of two hours. Anyways here is a brief recap of my time spent in Tokyo and Seoul:

1. Navigating the Tokyo subway and rail system is much easier than I anticipated. In fact I got to the point where I did not even need to use the English maps to navigate the system.

2. Korean women are more beautiful than Japanese women. I think part of this is due to the influence of hip-hop style on the Japanese fashion sense. Quite frankly most of the time hip-hop fashion does not work for the Asian set. Oh yeah, and the thing they are doing where they are bleaching their hair to be a kind of brownish color? Pretty much ick. Either stick with jet black or go for over the top holy crap what happened to your head primary colors. Blue is a personal favorite of mine. I had far more moments in Korea where I did the double-triple-take than I did in Japan. I think another part of this is that Korean women dress up a bit more than their Japanese counterparts.

3. I cannot afford my vices in Korea and if there was ever a place created to cater to my vices it would have to be Itaewon. Heaven forbid I ever go to Vegas.

4. The world is a retardedly small place. While at the Senso-ji shrine in Tokyo my tour guide informed me that she had a friend in Spring, Texas, which for you who don’t know is about ten minutes down the road from where I grew up. While in Seoul I bought some cigars and realized I did not have a cutter with me. The cutter I subsequently purchased was printed for a place in Fort Worth, Texas. What are the odds?

5. My English is terrible but I am pretty sure we all already knew that.

6. In Asia my shyness around beautiful women combined with my physical size has me coming off as a tough guy rather than shy. It is awesome.

7. Asian ladies love the bearded Wood Jam. Make what jokes you will.

8. Tigers baseball rocks.

9. I am in love with the Orient.

10. I am fairly proficient with chopsticks. So much so as to elicit compliments from an elderly couple with whom Nobuyuki and I shared a table at a soba joint. I then couldn’t pick up jack when I was on my date with Joo Young. Go figure.

There will be more later as I recount specific adventures I had during my the Funkywoodjam World Tour ’06, “Large, White, and Drunk in Asia.” Until then you will have to satiate yourself with this picture of the best North Face advertisement possible:

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 9-20 and 9-27-06

  • 52 #20
    • The usual suspects
  • 52 #21
    • Yeah, them again.
  • Albion #6 (of 6)
    • Alan Moore, Leah Moore, and John Reppion, Writers
    • Shane Oakley, Penciller
    • George Freeman, Inker
  • All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #9 (of 12)
    • Pretty much everyone
  • Astonishing X-Men #17
    • Joss Whedon, Writer
    • John Cassaday, Artist
  • Batman #657
    • Grant Morrison, Writer
    • Andy Kubert, Penciller
    • Jesse Delperdang, Inker
  • Batman and the Mad Monk #2
    • Matt Wagner, Writer and Artist
  • Batman: Journey into Knight #12
    • Andrew Helfer, Writer
    • Tan Eng Huat
  • Birds of Prey #98
    • Gail Simone, Writer
    • James Raiz, Penciller
    • Robin Riggs, Inker
  • Bite Club: Vampire Crime Unit #5
    • Howard Chaykin and David Tischman, Writers
    • David Hahn, Artist
  • Captain America #22
    • Ed Brubaker, Writer
    • Mike Perkins, Artist
  • Catwoman #59
    • They did stupid credits in this issue so I am not going to bother.
  • Checkmate #6
    • Greg Rucka, Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir, Writers
    • Cliff Richards, Penciller
    • Dan Green, Inker
  • Conan #32
    • Kurt Busiek, Writer
    • Greg Ruth, Artist
  • Conan and the Songs of the Dead #3
    • Joe R. Lansdale, Writer
    • Timothy Truman, Artist
  • Daredevil #89
    • Ed Brubaker, Writer
    • Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano, Artists
  • Deadman #2
    • Bruce Jones, Writer
    • John Watkiss, Artist
  • Exiles #86
    • Tony Bedard, Writer
    • Paul Pelletier, Penciller
    • Rick Magyar, Inker
  • Flash, The Fastest Man Alive #4
    • Danny Bilson & Paul Demeo, Writers
    • Ken Lashley & Sal Velluto, Pencillers
    • Wong, Thibert & Leisten, Inkers
  • Ion #6 (of 12)
    • Ron Marz, Writer
    • Greg Tocchini & Tom Grindberg, Penciller
    • Jay Leisten, Inker
  • Jack of Fables #3
    • Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges, Writers
    • Tony Akins, Penciller
    • Andrew Pepoy, Inker
  • Justice League of America #2
    • Brad Meltzer, Writer
    • Ed Benes, Penciller
    • Sandra Hope, Inker
  • Loveless #11
    • Brian Azarello, Writer
    • Werther Dell’edera, Artist
  • Moon Knight #5
    • Charlie Huston, Writer
    • David Finch, Penciller
    • Danny Miki with Crimelab Studios, Inkers
  • Nextwave #8
    • Warren Ellis, Writer
    • Stuart Immonen, Penciller
    • Wade von Grawbadger, Inker
  • Robin #154
    • Adam Beechen, Writer
    • Freddie E. Williams II, Artist
  • Secret Six #4 (of 6)
    • Gail Simone, Writer
    • Brad Walker, Penciller
    • Jimmy Palmiotti, Inker
  • Shadowpact #5
    • Bill Willingham, Writer
    • Steve Scott, Penciller
    • Wayne Faucher, Inker
  • Teen Titans #39
    • Geoff Johns, Writer
    • Tony S. Daniel, Penciller
    • Kevin Conrad, Inker
  • Ultimates 2 #12
    • Mark Millar, Writer
    • Bryan Hitch, Penciller
    • Paul Neary and Bryan Hitch, Inkers
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four #34
    • Mike Carey, Writer
    • Pasqual Ferry, Art
  • Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #3 (of 8)
    • Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, Writer
    • Daniel Acuna, Artist
  • Union Jack #1 (of 4)
    • Christos N. Gage, Writer
    • Mike Perkins, Penciller
    • Andrew Hennessy, Inker
  • Usagi Yojimbo #97
    • Stan Sakai, Writer and Artist
  • Wetworks #1
    • Mike Carey, Writer
    • Whilce Portacio, Penciller
    • Trevor Scott, Inker
  • Wolverine #46
    • Marc Guggenheim, Writer
    • Humberto Ramos, Penciller
    • Carlos Cuevas, Inker
  • X-Men #191
    • Mike Carey, Story
    • Clay Henry, Penciller
    • Mark Morales, Inker
  • X-Men: First Class #1 (of 8)
    • Jeff Parker, Writer
    • Roger Cruz, Penciller
    • Victor Olazaba, Inker

Tags: Comics