Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mail-Order Integration

Seems marriage tours are "fueling an explosive growth in marriages to foreigners in South Korea, a country whose ethnic homogeneity lies at the core of its self-identity."

From the NY Times:

More and more South Korean men are finding wives outside of South Korea, where a surplus of bachelors, a lack of marriageable Korean partners and the rising social status of women have combined to shrink the domestic market for the marriage-minded male. Bachelors in China, India and other Asian nations, where the traditional preference for sons has created a disproportionate number of men now fighting over a smaller pool of women, are facing the same problem.

The article says that marriages to foreigners accounted for 4 percent of all South Korean marriages in 2000. In 2005, that figure was up to 14 percent.

Also interesting:

In South Korea, billboards advertising marriages to foreigners dot the countryside, and fliers are scattered on the Seoul subway. Many rural governments, faced with declining populations, subsidize the marriage tours, which typically cost $10,000.

The article also said gender-screening technology may play a part in all this, as it allows for a disproportionate number of male babies in a culture that values them over females.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Celebrities My Wife Doesn't Know

After about two months of living in here, my Russian wife still hadn't seen her first celebrity. "What are people going to think?" she said of her Russian friends. "I'm living in Los Angeles!"

I don't know if it was her desperation, or my eagerness to solve her problem, but in the next couple weeks we saw a rash of celebrities.

Unfortunately, they were celebrities she didn't know.

First came a guy passing us at the Sherman Oaks Whole Foods Market, a guy who inspired us to take a needless journey to the fancy cheese section so I could point him out crouching down in the frozen food aisle.

"What's he been in?" she asked, very skeptical. "I don't know him."

I tried to think of something. St. Elsewhere? Lots of television, I was sure. But movies? "Well, he's a very big environmentalist," I said. "Rides the bus. To meetings. A celebrity in LA does this. You know, I think I'm going to shake his hand."

That was well and good, but wife just reminded me we didn't need any cheese, and so the search continued. Who came next?

Kevin Kennedy. But while he stood in line behind us at the Circuit City in Warner Center, I couldn't even remember if he was the one who bored me to tears or was biased toward the St. Louis Cardinals. "I didn't even bother pointing him out," I said as we left. "But that guy in there, two places behind us, the one in the shiny sweatsuit with the word 'Fox' written all over it? Big baseball announcer. Definitely a celebrity."

My wife didn't even look at me as we walked to the car. "Baby," she said. "That doesn't count."

So that brought us to The Arclight Cinema in Hollywood this last Sunday, where I just sort of shrugged my shoulders when I saw some guy come schlepping up the stairs with a cohort only to be turned away by the usher and pointed back to one of the multi-plex's screens on the first floor.

"I'm sure you don't know him," I said. "The guy in the baseball hat? Adam Carolla. Some kind of funny man. Probably stoned. Look at him. I think he's gonna trip."

So the search continues, though in truth there does remain one sighting that's scored big, off the charts, in fact. It happened a few weeks ago now, and can be summed up with one word.


Problem is, it was at a Laker's game, we were in a luxury box, and after his smiling face appeared on the video screen hanging high over the court, I had to point to a small little dot of a man sitting in a chair court-side. "That's him," I said.


"To the left," I said. "That's Rob Reiner. Remember When Harry Met Sally? He directed that. Good actor in his own right."

It was celebrity overload. She was trying to focus on the one and only. "In the black?"

I nodded.

"Wow," she said. "Jack Nicholson. Wait till I tell everyone."


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bread Lines

I was in a very shee-shee part of Beverly Hills today, and across the street from the building where I had a meeting, I saw a line, stretching out the door of what appeared to be a bakery. A bread line, I thought. In the United States of America? But then, it didn't look right, certainly not soviet. The people standing in line all had on sunglasses and designer blue jeans.

They were waiting in line for cupcakes. The bakery sold only cupcakes, and people were waiting longer than an hour or more, standing out under the sun, in the harsh February heat of an indifferent Southern California winter.


I told the guy I was meeting, "I gotta my tell my Russian friends about this."

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