Mark James Russell

Books, blog and other blather

Month: April 2012

Bang for Your Buck — Korean Movie Edition

I’m sure the Rotten Tomatoes ratings for MY WAY and THE DAY HE ARRIVES will change soon enough — but for now, this is pretty funny:

Be sure to check out Manohla Dargis’s review of THE DAY HE ARRIVES.

BoA, Strange Voices, and Messing Around on Soundcloud

Apparently I am procrastinating. But in doing so, I swung by Soundcloud and started link hopping and came across some interesting music.

First fun discovery was Mimyo, who has apparently continued with his BoA obsession. Last year, he and inspired a whole bunch of indie musicians to record a bunch of BoA covers and put them up on Soundcloud, calling the whole project Model B. I guess that was not enough for Mimyo, though, because he also recorded a shoegazer version of BoA’s “Game”–and quite a good version, imho.

Plenty more Mimyo here on Soundcloud.

That led me (eventually) to the singer/group Hoegidong Danpyunsun (회기동 단편선, aka Park Jong-yoon).

You can read an interview with Danpyunsun here:

Oh, and just for fun, here is’s “Idiots”.

And a Jambinai dance remix? Really? How did I miss that? Not sure if I like it, but I certainly like knowing it exists.

UPDATE: Nearly forgot to mention Foundation Records is up to Vol. 20 now on its F.ound Tracks series.

Spain Economy Meltdown (Just the Previews for Now)

Always great to see Paul Krugman turning his eye to Spain, even if it is because the Euro crisis is spreading its way over here. As he succinctly says, Spain is no case of meltdown by excess spending: it was running a surplus in 2007 and its debt level was very low. What Spain did have, however, was a housing bubble–created in no small part by way too much cheap money from Germany.

I’m still amazed at how the PIGS countries are putting up with German-led nonsense about how to solve this crisis. Foolish Northern lending was as responsible for Europe’s current woes as anything, so it is not unreasonable to ask those responsible to bear a share of the pain of fixing the problem.

There is that old saying: If you owe the bank $1,000, the bank owns you; but if you owe the bank $1 million,  you own the bank. If I were Spain–and Portugal, and perhaps Italy (but not Greece: they really are messed up with excessive spending–I would be pushing back. Sure, Spain pulling out of the euro would create havoc here, but it was be just as bad for the rest of Europe. The threat would go a long way to righting the balance between Europe’s north and south.

For more information about the Spanish economy, there is always the wonderful Edward Hugh. He has a new interview up here. I wonder what Mr. Hugh would make of Krugman’s suggestion that Germany should raise its inflation rate up to 4% or so, while the PIGS are kept at 1%-ish, to help re-balance the north and south of Europe.

Brother Louis, Sister Choo-ja

I just found out that Kim Choo-ja recorded a version of “Brother Louie” on her 1974 album 가는 길 (Going Road). So much fun. If only Louis CK would open his TV show with it … just once!

(Sadly, this is the only version I could find on the Internet. The album version was much better, imho).

I should probably mention that Kim Choo-ja’s version is called “청개구리 사랑” — or “Green Frog Love.” I assume it is a reference to the famous Korean folktale about the frogs who don’t listen to their mother, except for one time after she dies, to terrible results (“Gaegu! Gaegu!”).

Big Changes in Barcelona

La Vanguardia had a really interesting article a couple of days ago about immigration in Barcelona since 2000 (sorry, only in Spanish, as far as I know). Considering how international Barcelona feels today, it is kind of amazing to realize how recent a development that is. Today, there are about 282,000 foreigners living in Barcelona, or about 17.4% of the total population, way up from less than 4% in 2000.

That’s actually down a bit since the peak in 2010, when there were 294,000 foreigners here. But it is way, way up from 2000 when there were just about 50,000 foreigners. From 2000 on, the growth was incredible, doubling every couple of years for five years, then slowing down but still growing until 2010. Not surprisingly, Central and South Americans made up a fair bit of that growth — from about 35,000 to 115,000. Africans are up a bit. But Pakistanis and Chinese have been the biggest sources of growth.

I cannot begin to imagine how different this city must have been back then (well, I can imagine a little, thanks for some good books like these). I have some American friends who have lived here since the late 1980s, and one Korean friend who came here in 1980, and the stories they tell make it sound like a much more difficult and xenophobic city back then. For sure, Barcelona has become a far more interesting city thanks to these changes. And, judging by the shops I go to, much more prosperous, too.

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