In December Jieun and I watched a remastered version of Singin’ in the Rain at the Stanford Theater. Apparently it’s a national rerelease – I saw it playing in Houston also. At any rate, it’s interesting seeing it on the big screen – for one thing, the colors pop out like crazy. Both Jieun and I noticed this right away. It makes the weirdo Broadway Melody part more interesting, because there’s so much color to grab your attention.

Anyway, the most interesting part about the movie was they showed some features before the movie, like they did in the old days I guess. Like they showed this Merrie Melodies cartoon. A totally random one.

They also showed like News Of The World, something like that, a bunch of news items of the day. Very very interesting. I did some web searches on the items and they’re pretty much current to the movie, around 1952-1953, so it’s possible it was the actual newsreel shown with Singin in the Rain at some point.

Anyway, the reason it was so fascinating is because every single news item stood in stark contrast to the way things are now. It was uncanny.

The most trivial difference was this report of Mardi Gras. It was called something like “The Gayest Celebration”. I just thought it was interesting because no one ever uses “gay” anymore except in reference to homosexuality. Certainly no one would call a public event a gay celebration.

Another newsreport talked about the world figure skating championships, and how, for the first time, an American female won. The narrator noted that there were strong hopes that she would someday win the first American Olympic gold medal in women’s figure skating. So different today, you know? Now Americans dominate figure skating. We don’t win all the time but we’re always highly competitive.

The difference in skating style was also interesting. The champion skated really simply, with wussy single jumps and stuff like that, nothing like the triple-triple combos women do today. Apparently that particular champion was really strong at the figures part. Do people even remember this? You literally had to skate figures on the ice. That was part of the competition. They got rid of it somewhere along the line but I remember Debi Thomas wasn’t too good at figures or something like that. The other crazy thing was that the competition was outdoors. I guess they didn’t have indoor rinks yet? Whatever, it was on a lake or something, and all the spectators were bundled up in jackets but the women were skating in skirts. Insane.

Another news item – Eisenhower had just been sworn in. And it was noted, he was going to hold back on tax cuts until he examined what effect it might have on the deficit. Again, really interesting in contrast to today. Eisenhower and Bush are both Republicans right? Or am I wrong? I guess deficit spending was a bigger no-no to Republicans in those days. At any rate, it was just interesting how relevant it was.

The last news item I remember dealt with Korea. The U.S. military commander in Korea was retiring or something, going back to America so there was this big ceremony and the Korean people thanked him and all this stuff, saying how grateful they were. Maybe made a monument or something? Not sure.

That also stood in stark contrast to today, when Korea seems to hate the U.S. Not thankful at all. Don’t even seem to want the U.S. military around. Signs of “Yankee go home.” I don’t know, it was just fascinating to me how different things were. That newsreel was about the most interesting thing I’d seen in months. Amazing how things change.

Speaking of Korea, I was reading Newsweek this week and it just depresses me. It’s like the Smurf Gnats episode – there’s just like no hope. I don’t see the solution. What do you do?

I don’t understand Kim Jong Il. What kind of madman can live such a luxurious lifestyle when so many of his people are starving? How is it possible to just have no sense of morality like that? I literally cannot understand it.

Anyway, I have no idea what the right thing is to do. But the article repeatedly ridiculed (my feeling) how the right-wing calls the policy of engagement “appeasement”. Agreed, calling all diplomacy “appeasement” is kind of absurd. But isn’t it justified in this case?

I dunno, I just wonder why people think diplomacy will work with North Korea when it clearly hasn’t in the past. They’ve used diplomacy and made empty promises to get aid and whatever, and then gone out and blatantly violated their agreements. So empirically, diplomacy hasn’t “worked”. Why do people think it will work now? I don’t know much about the situation so I’m sure I’m missing a lot, like Fareed Zakaria seems to support a diplomatic route when it was his thoughts on North Korea violating their agreements that made me feel diplomacy was useless in the first place. So I’m obviously missing something. But I still don’t get what the basis is for people thinking diplomacy will work.

But cutting them off could make them desperate and that has disastrous consequences also. So it’s just depressing. Given their history, if you try diplomacy they’ll make promises, take the aid, and then keep doing what they’re doing in secret. But go the isolation route and who knows what will happen, especially to South Korea. Depressing. I kinda hope that he just dies of natural causes really soon, since he has such an indulgent lifestyle, and that maybe his son, the one who apparently was educated in Europe, is more reasonable.

Anyway, seriously, South Korea, you’ve got to let certain things go. I’m talking about Apollo Anton Ohno and the short track speed skating thing. Why are they still holding on to that? Can that be any more ridiculous? It’s just a sport, and more than that, it’s just short track speedskating, the results of which seem to be largely random in any case. Let it go.

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