Lifestyle

Attack of the 50 ft. Virus

Whether it’s the rubber costumes and visible zippers in the good ol’ days of “”Godzilla”” and “”Creature from the Black Lagoon,”” the cartoonish, computer-generated imagery of modern horror films like “”The Relic”” and “”Anaconda”” or the cliched casts of dashing heroes, brilliant scientists and savvy female reporters, it’s hard to take a monster movie seriously. But with his latest romp, acclaimed Korean writer/director Joon-ho Bong doesn’t ask us to do so. Instead, he embraces the slapstick action and absurd heroism that most moviemakers try to disguise, resulting in what might be the most fun – and most honest – monster movie ever made. Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures To give the creature feature a fresh angle, Bong replaces the undefeatable monster with a clumsy animal and the dashing heroes with a family of buffoons. His clear affection for the genre spills into his work, adding an unabashed sincerity and that helps him bridge moments of terrible tragedy with campy comedy – a pairing that has rarely, if ever, been executed so successfully. But the emotional grip of the story never eases either, as one of the monster’s victims, a young girl named Hyun-Seo, struggles to survive in the sewers while her family desperately tries to find and rescue her. The family of half-witted protagonists is comprised of the genial grandfather, who runs a convenience store; his daughter, the bronze-medal-winning Olympic archer; his son, the unemployed grad student; and his other son, the half-retarded father of Hyun-Seo. When she’s abducted by the beast, the government is too inept and the community too paranoid to do anything to help, so the endearingly flawed family of underachievers sets out to rescue her themselves. Bong provides the film with an unflappable sense of humor, even amid the story’s most grim moments. Soon after the monster emerges from the Han River and abducts Hyun-Seo, a mass funeral is held. While her family is sprawled on the ground in wailing grief, crying her name to the heavens, wallowing in abject misery and surrounded by the grieving families of countless other victims, the mourning is interrupted by a loudspeaker announcement asking the driver of an illegally parked car to please come to the parking lot. Then, a government official wearing a yellow hazmat suit steps in to announce the quarantine of everyone at the scene – as if things couldn’t get any worse. But before the official goes in another word, he slips and falls – probably in a puddle of the tears from the bereaved – right on his ass. It’s a strangely comfortable mix of sweltering pity and Marx Brothers humor. Even the monster slips and stumbles in its pursuit of prey. And as the SUV-sized creature trips over its own feet, onlookers throw beer cans and government soldiers scramble to secure the quarantine, more concerned with containing any potential diseases the monster might carry than capturing or killing the ravaging beast. There are only three Americans in “”The Host,”” all of whom are quite blunder-prone: the environmentally callous mortician in the opening scene (who creates the beast by dumping hundreds of bottles of formaldehyde into the drain simply because the bottles were dusty), an American sightseer (one of only two people ever to confront the monster) and a cross-eyed U.S. official who wants to perform brain surgery on Hyun-Seo’s mentally deficient father because “”maybe that’s where the virus is.”” Bong’s film is more than a monster flick. It’s a spoof on global hysteria and our relentless fear of an ever-approaching apocalypse in one form or another. As the four pathetic protagonists struggle to find the missing girl, they pass through a crazy world of frightened citizens clinging to surgical masks and bumbling government officials more frightened of pathogens than of the monster itself. Every character, flawed to the core, seems to fail in everything they do, but it’s impossible to stop rooting for them. At times unbearably heavy – yet incredibly light-hearted too – Bong’s satirical monster action/horror/comedy is a rare treat. ...

Bear Gardens Merit Praise, but Council Work Remains

This year’s A.S. Council deserves credit for taking a cue from the Undergraduate Student Experience and Satisfaction report and making an effort to revive beer gardens. And the accompanying advertising campaign hasn’t been too shabby either, with plenty of high-visibility posters and even a Facebook group to get the word out. The price of success: a 20-minute wait at the door of the last Bear Garden, followed by an hour-long wait in line for your plastic cup of booze. With such a wait, students might as well pick up a minimum-wage job for an hour and spend the money they earn on a pair of pints at Porter’s Pub, which has a far wider selection of brews, far fewer rent-a-cops and practically no line. But the popularity of this year’s beer gardens – and the lack of disturbances at them – drives home two important points. For one, including booze at on-campus events actually does encourage participation. Administrators should consider this when they decide whether to allow alcohol sales at the RIMAC Annex. More importantly, the gardens show that with careful planning, UCSD can host wet events and still ensure student safety, assuaging the administration’s long-standing and completely understandable concern. With a year of positive experiences, the door should be open to slowly expand the Bear Gardens, maybe through finding a new venue or streamlining the current one. It wouldn’t hurt to bring in bands, either, like at the Thank God It’s Fridays of yore. With a little compromise and responsibility on both sides, the UCSD experience can be made far more memorable and special than it is now. ...

Currents

Two Arrested for Body Part Trading at UCLA The UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine has suspended its program for accepting donated human bodies in the wake of a discovery of illicit body-part trading. An employee of the school and an independent tissue broker are alleged to have used UCLA resources in order to supply body parts for various biotechnology firms and research institutions. Henry Reid, director of the program, was arrested on March 6 on charges of grand theft. He is suspected of allowing tissue broker Ernest Nelson to remove and trade the body parts of nearly 500 cadavers from the university over a period of six years, generating a profit of over $700,000. Reid was coincidentally hired by UCLA in 1997 to correct such problems in handling cadavers. University officials say they are now deciding how to compensate for the university’s loss of access to human specimens. Biotechnology companies and academic institutes use body parts for medical research and training purposes. Though the sale of human body parts is illegal in the United States, firms profit by charging to cover the costs of supplying specimens, which can run up to thousands of dollars for a single human body. Similar instances have occurred in the past decades at medical facilities at UC Irvine and UCSD. Attempts to enact stronger state and federal regulation are often hindered by institutions lobbying for ready access to tissue. UC Irvine Opens Hydrogen Fuel Station On Feb. 27, UC Irvine celebrated the grand opening of its automobile hydrogen fueling station. The station is the first in California capable of dispensing hydrogen at 700 bar, or the equivalent of 10,000 pounds per square inch. In some cases, this nearly doubles a vehicle’s driving range. The station provides the latest in fueling technology, meeting the demands of vehicle development programs directed by automakers Toyota, Nissan, Honda, General Motors and Daimler Chrysler. “”The world looks to California as the testing ground for next-generation automobile technologies,”” UC Irvine’s National Fuel Cell Research Center Director Scott Samuelsen said in a press release. “”The shift to a hydrogen economy is … a dramatic and fundamental shift in the way that individuals will operate their vehicles in the future.”” The emissions from a hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle contain only water vapor. Today, hydrogen can be produced from nonpetroleum gas sources, potentially reducing our current reliance on petroleum for the future. The facility looks similar to a gas station, with stand-alone dispensers delivering pure gaseous hydrogen. According to the California Fuel Cell Partnership, 23 hydrogen stations exist in California, with 14 more planned. Automakers say that they may begin selling fuel cell vehicles by the year 2010. ...

Year's Shortest A.S. Meeting Features Heavy DOC Talk

In the shortest meeting of the year, which lasted just 29 minutes, the A.S. Council moved to Porter’s Pub to allow “”Lunafest”” to occupy Price Center Ballroom. Eleanor Roosevelt College Senior Senator Erik Rodriguez-Palacios was the speaker of the council for the meeting, substituting for Earl Warren College Senior Senator and Speaker Michelle Yetter, who opted out of the session because she was sick. A.S. President Harry Khanna announced he was working with university officials to extend the hours of CLICS. He also proposed that the library be open 24 hours all of 10th week and during finals. Khanna is coordinating with the UCSD Police Department to ensure enough Residential Security Officers are present to accommodate the expected influx of students. Assistant Vice President of Programming Di Lam announced Head Automatica will perform at this quarter’s Thank God It’s Over concert. In her report, Lam said the last Bear Garden was a success, despite the “”foamy beer situation.”” Two more Bear Gardens are scheduled for April 13 and June 1. Assistant Vice President Local Affairs Aida Kuzucan, shouting over noisy diners in the pub, reported that she is working with other organizations in San Diego to pass resolutions against the construction of the Foothill-South Toll Road through San Onofre State Park. Next, Thurgood Marshall College Junior Senator Kyle Samia said he wrote a letter to the Marshall writing program, Dimensions of Culture, to disapprove of the direction in which DOC is headed. “”They responded negatively and a little abrasively,”” Samia said. He announced that DOC administrators are going to be present at the next Marshall College Council meeting to discuss the issue. Samia advised students not to attend, although the council meeting is open to the public. Marshall Chair Neetu Balram clarified the council’s position. “”The concern is that [DOC administrators aren’t] expecting such a huge turnout,”” Balram said. “”Things could get very intense and messy.”” She added that the situation could then become counter-productive. A.S. President Chief of Staff Emma Sandoe announced that a research group of San Diego State University students will survey UCSD student leaders in the coming weeks. The group is working on a project to determine the reasons student leaders choose to take their positions. She also announced that Revelle College senior Robby Peters was going to declare that he was entering the NBA draft. He recently became the NCAA season leader for the most three-pointers in one game. On a final note, Khanna described a run-in he had with Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. Fox reportedly called Khanna asking for a five-seat cart, however the council only owns a two-seater. “”We let her down,”” Khanna said in his report to the council. However, A.S. Executive Assistant Christopher Terry redeemed the council when he borrowed a five-seater for the chancellor from a college resident life office. ...

Asian Americans Unlikely to Seek Social Support

Asian Americans are less likely to seek out social support than their European American counterparts, according to a new study conducted by researchers from UC Santa Barbara. According to assistant professor of psychology and study co-author Heejung S. Kim, Asian Americans do not seek support because of concerns that it affects relationships negatively. Disclosing occurrences like stressful events can make others worry, or even cause the support-seeker appear weak. In contrast, the study found that European Americans view requests for support as a proactive and beneficial method to solve problems. “”Asian Americans seem to be particularly aware and concerned about these implications and therefore are more hesitant to seek social support,”” Kim said in an e-mail. The research found that Asian Americans still seek implicit help, spending time with family or friends without discussing problems, while still receiving some indirect support from the interactions. European Americans, on the other hand, explicitly deal with emotional issues, and are more likely to talk them over. The emphasis on collectivism in Asian cultures, Kim said, influences Asian Americans to value harmony more than individuals in Western cultures. Kim stressed that the study’s findings are not to be overgeneralized as a complete and total picture of all Asian Americans’ relationships. “”Our goal is to identify behaviors that tend to vary systematically across cultures, and bring forward cultural biases that implicitly exist,”” Kim said. Many UCSD Asian-American students said they saw the findings as representative of their experiences. “”I agree most with the idea of implicit support, that we use our social networks differently just by spending time with our families,”” Revelle College junior Malou Amparo said. “”We have different ways of coping and seeking help; maybe seeing a counselor or something isn’t very appealing for some reason. It wouldn’t be my first choice.”” Many students hesitate when turning to family for emotional support, some students said, and older generations expect a level of personal control. “”I almost feel as if it would be a sign of weakness if I were to not be self-dependent and be able to deal with things myself,”” Revelle College junior Kimberly Yu said. “”I don’t think this was explicitly said to me ever in my life, but I’ve always felt that way, especially about my academics and my career. I almost don’t want to fall into the stereotype, but those are the values that I’ve gained from my family.”” Sixth College junior Jennifer Wong said that if she were experiencing problems, she would not seek out help from a mental health professional. “”While some of my friends might go to a therapist, my first instinct would not be to go talk to someone about it,”” Wong said. According to Kim, the study suggests that groups using the culturally appropriate support system had lower stress levels than when they used a support system that didn’t match their cultural background. While many students express reservations about talking to older generations, students have an easier time connecting to peers with similar backgrounds. According to Amparo, she finds support in Kamalayan Kollective, a Filipino organization. “”A lot of the support I feel that I need relates to my Filipino and Asian identity,”” Amparo said. UCSD Asian Pacific Islander Student Alliance President Brian Kang also said that he finds support among his peers. “”I know that when I was first starting college, I wouldn’t ask for help a lot because I didn’t really feel comfortable talking to anyone, but in my experiences with APSA, it really brought that out of me,”” Kang said. “”I do try and stress that APSA is family to us. It’s like a second home for a lot of the members.”” ...