Saturday, January 26, 2013

hartensteinabroad ep. 61 "The Bells at Skenfrith, Wales"

Hey Everybody...
Thanks for checking out my last video on the London Eye. I couldn't help it. If Tom Waits makes me cry, Warren Zevon makes me want to punch the sky. Please give this next episode a click, I'm backpacking and urban camping through Wales, stopping to explore the beautiful little village of Skenfrith and ... go in search of the bells at the medieval church. Laugh with me. Be well, everyone.

Friday, January 18, 2013

hartensteinabroad ep. 60 "Werewolves of the London Eye"

Hi Readers!
Well, teaching in Saudi Arabia slowed me down a little for obvious censorship reasons, but the little humble youtube engine of hartensteinabroad is back with our first episode in over four months. Last we checked in, I was riding motorcycles through Paris to the Eiffel Tower. Please check out this latest episode across the water in London as I ride "The Eye" and attempt to pronounce some of my favorite British Slang. Click the link above for hartensteinabroad episode 60: "Werewolves of the London Eye."  Enjoy, and laugh along with me!

Ashes of Time (東邪西毒) Wong Kar Wai

Whenever I think about Hong Kong I always think of Wong Kar Wai.  It’s his fault not mine.  Boy on the back of a motorcycle racing through an abandoned highway tunnel in the weird green light of night.  Girl on the subway watching the trains pass without moving.  Lovers in the red velvet room, one is on the bed, the other only a reflection in the mirror.

 Whether you've been to Hong Kong or not, the films of Wong Kar Wai stay with you forever.

It’s fitting, leaving Hong Kong and heading to Korea, because that’s where I first saw Wong's work.  Early movies like Chungking Express and In The Mood For Love and the monumental Fallen Angels.  Even movies like Happy Together, which although set in South America shows intricately the violent coupling of Hong Kong and China in bed with one another viciously.  

But it’s the cinematography that dazzles.  The camera angles and the lighting, perhaps dangerously because you then go to Hong Kong and try to capture it yourself, to live in a Wong Kar Wai movie… it’s impossible, yet?

My favorite of Wong's films is the underappreciated Ashes of Time (東邪西毒 Dōng xié xi dú).  It’s adapted from this crazy Jin Yong novel called The Legend of the Condor Heroes and the ebullient hero Leslie Cheung plays the “Venomous West” who banishes himself to the desert, hiring bounty hunters like “The Blind Swordsman” and “Girl with Mule” to enact his revenge.  It’s worth seeking out only because it’s so visually stunning.  You wonder what makes a guy write a movie like Django Unchained… well, you come and watch Ashes of Time, then make up your own mind.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Psycho Killer, Qu’est Que C’est (Hong Kong)

“I can’t seem to face up to the facts.  I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax.”  -Byrne

 -New Territories, Hong Kong: Here are some funny things I saw strolling around Hong Kong.  Above... the Joyful Cupids at Park Lane.  Yes, those are cartoon angels singing on microphones with red hearts.  God loves you, Asia!
“I can’t sleep ‘cause my bed’s on fire.  Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire.”  -Byrne

On the subway, an old woman clips her nails and just lets them fly... awesome!
“You start a conversation you can’t even finish…”  -Byrne

This was the door to a creepy elementary school I stumbled upon... Learning Tree?
“When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed.  Say something once, why say it again?”  -Byrne

Here was a poor old woman pushing a garbage cart.  Her back bent over like a question mark?  Nobody stops.  I've learned not to stop either.
“We are vain and we are blind.  I hate people when they’re not polite.  Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better…”  -Byrne

Funny Trojan Horse Head... reminded me of The Godfather.  I think it's time to leave Hong Kong and go home.

Killing Them Softly at 百老匯電影中心 Broadway Cinematheque

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world."  -Jean Luc Godard

-Prosperous Garden Block 3, 3 Public Square Street, Hong Kong:  Nothing better on a lazy Sunday then to slunk down in a movie theater and wile away the hours... (After a morning of church, that is...)
"Film lovers are sick people."  -Francois Truffaut

For movie lovers in Hong Kong, this little chic Broadway Cinematheque located in Yau Ma Tei, is perfect.  I went to see the Brad Pitt movie Killing them Softly...which, you know I kept hoping Roberta Flack from 1973 would show up but..alas!  (By the way... currently Brad Pitt has this hilarious fragrance campaign running all throughout Asia from Dubai to Vietnam to South Korea to Hong Kong called... Inevitable in which he looks all wrinkly like a soggy noodled hillbilly... WHO ARE THEY SELLING THIS TOO?)
"Drama is life with the dull bits cut out."  -Alfred Hitchcock

But the best part of Broadway Cinematheque, other than all the legions of old Hong Kong people (I mean wheelchairs and oxygen tanks, people!) who hoard space in there (Hong Kongers really DO love their movies!) is that the cinema is also a lending library with numerous out of print DVDs and hard to find releases.  It's totally a cool place.
"America's not a country.  It's just a business.  Now pay me my money!"  -Pitt, last line: Killing Them Softly

Broadway Cinematheque (百老匯電影中心)is located at Prosperous Garden Block 3, 3 Public Square Street, Hong Kong. Psst!  Keep it a secret, will ya!

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Hong Kong Evening

"Whose woods these are I think I know.  His house is in the village though."  -Frost

-Kowloon, Hong Kong(香港):  I had escaped Saudi Arabia, arriving from Dubai after sleeping on a rolled up styrofoam cushion on the floor of a wet and damp mosque.  A few months living and working there in the desert can deaden your mind, and now suddenly, I was in Hong Kong again and feeling alive.
"He will not see me stopping here to watch his woods fill up with snow."  -Frost

In the desert of Saudi, stationed along the Yemenese border, the earth slowly oozes a black oil onto the surface of dust.  Lumbering tanker trucks roll off into the black night and you walk along these roads facing the oncoming headlights of swerving cars with the sand seeping into your eyes and ears in deafening despair.
"My little horse must think it queer to stop without a farmhouse near."  -Frost

But that's how time operates, isn't it?  You close your eyes and you are in one place, close them again and you awake in another.
"Between the woods and frozen lake the darkest evening of the year."  -Frost

Walking through the frozen air of the Hong Kong street markets, stopping for steamy egg snacks and fishsticks, feeling the buzz of life around you.  Eyeing the people:  Two lovers holding hands pass, a boy in an Elvis jacket comes his hair in the wind, a mother sets her child onto a bicycle and looks up toward the night sky, expecting it to snow.
"The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep."  -Frost

Then you suddenly remember who you are, the past months dim in focus and memory, and you know you'll live to fight another day.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Calvin and Hobbes Have Left the Building

Calvin:  "Bad news Dad.  Your polls are way down."
Dad:  "My polls?"
Calvin:  "You rate especially low among tigers and six year old white males."  -Bill Waterson

- Kimhae International Airport, Busan:  This Calvin and Hobbes was in the China Post Daily.  I tore it out and carried it around in my pocket for a few days while running around Korea.
Calvin:  "The world bores you when you're cool."  -Bill Waterson

-Nampodong, Busan.  Under the Christmas Lights at Pusan International Film Festival:  Rebekah having a blast despire the frozen night.  Yes, she's riding a brass monkey.
Calvin:  "I can't tell if that's funny or really, really scary."  -Bill Waterson

-Chagalchi Fish Market, Busan:  We had a great time in Korea, visiting family and checking in and out of reality for a while.
Calvin:  "You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don't help."  -Bill Waterson

-Bexco Play Area, Haeundae, Busan:  But all good things must come to an end and now it's time to head back and finish the semester.  It will be Chinese New Year before you know it.
Calvin:  "They say the world's a stage.  But obviously the play is unrehearsed and everybody is adlibbing his lines."
Hobbes:  "Maybe that's why it's hard to tell if we're living a tragedy or a farce."
Calvin:  "We need more special effects and dance numbers."  -Bill Waterson

-Bexco, Haeundae:  Besides... I'm totally wiped out.
Calvin:  "It's a magical world, Hobbes. ol' buddy... let's go exploring."  -Bill Waterson

-Naktong River, Kalag Town, Busan:  I need to get home, get my feet up, relax a little.  This chasing around kid thing has got me tuckered out.  Anyoung Keyse-yo!  Han Gook!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tin Man's Dance

“When a man’s an empty kettle, he should be on his mettle, and yet I’m torn apart…” - Tin Man’s Dance, Wizard of Oz

I’d crossed the desert by bus over an hour and was standing in the square classroom all alone in the morning light. There was a seating chart on the board and bright tapestries on the walls I’d bought in the market to liven the place up. A map of northern Africa next to one of the Kingdom, and another of some scarves I thought were cool. The students were arriving. I could hear them nervously outside the door.
“Just because I’m presumin’, that I could be a human, if I only had a heart.” -Tin Man’s Dance, Wizard of Oz

I’d been humming to myself the last few days preparing for this moment. The first day of school. And now it was here.
“I’d be tender, I’d be gentle, and awful sentimental, regarding love and art…” -Tin Man’s Dance, Wizard of Oz

This was my twentieth year as a teacher, and I mark these first days by singing to my students. I know not every teacher sings on the first day. Believe me, I know that no teacher in Saudi Arabia would be singing that morning. My voice bounding against the walls, falling deaf around my students faces staring back at me in bizarre wonder and through the open window onto the endless mounds of sand beyond. 
“I’d be friends with the sparrows and the boy that shoots the arrows, if I only had a heart.” -Tin Man’s Dance, Wizard of Oz

But sing I would. Nothing would stop me. 
“Just to register emotion, jealousy, devotion, and really feel the part…” -Tin Man’s Dance, Wizard of Oz

And all apologies to “Someday I’ll wish upon a star and wake up where the cloud are far behind me…” and perhaps the most beautiful lyric in the catalogue… “Where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops that’s where you’ll find me…”
“I could stay young and chipper, and I’d lock it with a zipper, if I only had a heart.” -Tin Man’s Dance, Wizard of Oz

In this place where art was illegal and movies forbidden, where books did not exist and songs were never sung. I sang that first day to those dusty glaring eyes. Sometimes there are no words and dancing makes you fall weakly to the floor. But other times… it’s the memories that count most.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Burt Reynolds in Hooper, Just for the Hell of It

-Nampodong, Busan:  Homeless man being kicked out of a stairwell violently by the landlord who was striking him and cursing him loudly causing a scene.  The man rode away on a bicycle... which is when I took this picture as he passed.  This was the same man I saw the night before on the frozen snowy street, passing I wondered, how is he going to survive the night?  But then I was off, chasing my daughters toward the big lit-up Christmas Tree.

-Dong-A University Main Gate, Hadan Busan:  This awesome mechanical robot was malfunctioning outside a 7-Eleven, jerking back and forth in convulsions.  I was shopping for mittens.

-Tae-Ti Market, Busan: This man was pulling a cart full of collapsed cardboard boxes and looking at the road, not making eye contact.  I was wandering around scribbling and thinking about this movie I'd seen the night before, Burt Reynolds in Hooper about the life of a stuntman in Hollywood.

-Shin Sae Gae Department Store, Haeundae Busan:  This sharp dressed man was perusing books, ordinarily I would have observed what he was reading, just for kicks... but I couldn't catch the title in Korean.
Anyway... in Hooper, Reynolds' mortality is confronted by this younger more daring stuntman played by Jan Michael Vincent.  The movie has amazing stunts, free falls, car crashes, motorcycle jumps.  The men are beat up and bruised, broken down, and in the end try to walk away but can't.

-Johnny Depp outside Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in Shin Sae Gae, Haeundae Busan:  Hooper got me thinking, I was talking to this dad the other day, somebody I respect, who has a seventeen year old son who suffered a head contussion while skateboarding.  He was telling me, the difference between being a good or bad parent often relies on how lucky or skilled your kid is at what they try.  If they are talented, you're a good parent for pushing them, but if they fail, the parent is always blamed.  He said he was thinking about this in the hospital room sitting over his son while the swelling in his brain subsided.  Hard nights, impossible nights, for a father on his knees beside the bed.
- Woman Without Neck on Sidewalk, Shin Pyoung, Busan:  Saw this lady while I was passing in a taxi and she made me laugh.  Burt Reynolds make me laugh too, just standing there mugging for the camera, stupid look on his face as if nothing in the world mattered.  Then in the movie, when the cameras started rolling and he was hanging from a high wire, suddenly this silly man had put himself in a life or death struggle.
- Men Watching Chess Game in the Park, Kalag Town, Busan:  What's it worth to make somebody laugh or think?  What's it worth to give yourself or another a thrill?

- Leopard Skinned Jacket Boy in Shin Sae Gae, Busan:  In Arabia, the boys cared nothing for their own safety.  They'd drag race cars, roll them, slam them like bumper cars on the highway.  They'd step out of moving cars speeding downt he highway and skate in their sandals along the road.  They'd flip the car on two wheels and surf on the hood while rolling down the highway in traffic.  It's on youtube, I won't provide the link.  My Arabian students thought it was the funniest thing in the world to die.
- Bundled Frozen Woman Walking, Nampodong Busan:  I don't think I'm giving it away but... in the end of Hooper, Burt Reynolds punches out the movie director that's been pushing him to do all these dangerous stunts... just for "the hell of it."

- Old Lady Waiting for Bus, Gu Po, Busan:   Am I too cautious now?  Do I need a little more Burt Reynolds from the late 70's in my life?  When does a person cross over from daredevil to wise old turtle?  Answer me that.  When does, just for the hell of it become... ah, hell no!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Da Dae Po Fishing Village: New Things to Do in Busan, South Korea

Da Dae Po- After strolling on the deserted beach, we headed into the little village beside the pine forest for some nakshi.
Thousands of fish are delivered every day and dumped on the harbor.  Hard working men and women box them in ice and load them on trucks for delivery.
There is a small fish market with octopus and eel, shark fin, tiger shark, salmon, urchin, blow fish, and squid.
You walk into the fresh fish market and the woman will scoop the fish right out of the tank, cut it up for you, and serve it to you upstairs with spicy sauces, barely tea, spirits, and delicious side dishes.
Although Chalgalchi Fish Market is Busan's best, and one of the best in the country because it is next to fun and crazy Nampodong, I was totally surprised by Da Dae Po.
It was modern with little boutique hotels, perfect for lovers on quick holidays.  There were small businesses and modern apartments and open areas for summer swimming and winter strolling.
Best of all, my daughters had a blast touching the fish in tanks and asking the old ladies about their shapes and colors.  You're always surprised in a Korean fish market.  Don't fight the crowds... try a secret hidden Busan spot.  Check out Da Dae Po fishing village in Sa Ha Gu toward the end of the Shin Pyoung subway line one. 

Lost Gloves, Broken Seashells, and Snow on the Shores of Da Dae Po Busan

Da Dae Po Fishing Village, Sa Ha Gu, Busan:  Took the Sunday afternoon and rode out from Shin Pyoung down the new highway along the Naktong River to Da Dae Po.
Cold frosty air and sand... reminded me of the Oregon Coast.

Reminded me of Arabia too.

There were little stone bridges and a hilltop forest.

A pack of boys ran in snow along the shore.

Xian lost a glove throwing sticks and we trekked back along the footprint trail to find them.  We talked about keeping valuable things together.
Rebekah pocketed a little handful of seashells but threw them all away because they were too sandy in her pants.  I went back and picked the prettiest one.  She doesn't know it yet, but I'll lay it under her pillow tonight while she sleeps.