Soundtrack time: hit play and start reading.
Yo La Tengo
You Can Have It All
Here's a goofy Korean holiday for you to learn about.
So my Gmail account had a bunch of spam: all kinds of people seem to think I have various, um, manhood difficulties, and have decided that I deserve a personal e-mail with information on how to purchase viagra, other "love you long time" drugs, and even a few manhood, um, enhancing products.
They certainly didn't get that idea from those pictures I accidentally left in my shared folder in Dece. . . nevermind.
Anyway, the thing is, even though they want to sell me all kinds of nasty, look at the cool names they sport! I recommend that anyone who wants to be a fiction writer, scan the sender names in their e-mail spam folder before deleting. I know how hard it is to think up a good name for a character, but sometimes the spam folder is a veritable goldmine! Get a load of these (or if you don't care about junk like this, skip the next paragraph).
Madeline Crump; Dusty Bates; Helene Ladner (she's sent me a bunch now); Diego Yeager; Lakisha Henderson; Mai Conklin (love the last name Conlkin); Brandon Wood (great name for a viagra peddler); Flora Fink (great name for a spammer); Galen French; Damon Cole; Aimee Trotter; Madeline Daly; Clifton Koch; Enid Finley; Isaac M. Kiney; Celina Snyder; Anibal Hicks; Gabriel D. Kenney; Tristan Holt; Jay Cowan; Brian Grimm.
I had a game with one of my bright students where she'd make up a nonsense word and I'd make up a phony meaning for that word -- "greeble" - "Greeble sounds like a name for the bits of food that you can't quite get out of the pan when you serve your meal." It's fun to look at a name like "Mai Conlkin" and try to build a character around it. "Mai Conlkin sounds like the owner of a dance studio. In her free time she probably listens to classical music on the roof of her apartment building. . . (etc.)"
A recent development:
Actual large size drinks have started appearing in Korea! When I arrived in Korea, there were no smalls -- basically, a "large" was the size of a N. American "medium" drink, and a "regular" was the size of a N. American small. Look at this cup, the size of my whole hand! I could barely finish the thing! It was like when I first got back to Canada in 2004, stopped into A&W, and (because it can't be found here), ordered a large root beer, and gawked when they basically gave me two litres of fizzy liquid!
Burger Kings here have more atmosphere than a lot of the Korean food joints, where deco is very functional. It's kind of funny. Black and white pictures of celebrities and checkerboard tile floors aren't much, but they're more than soju posters.You'd expect to find this sign at a restaurant by a beach. . . but instead it was not far from downtown Seoul. "Sand" seems to be a new Konglish/English loan word, an abbreviation of "sandwich" (which is pronounced send-wee-chee in Konglish)
Ddong-chim pencil holder.
The Empror's new fashion line.
There's a chunk of the Berlin wall near Chunggye stream in Seoul, right between Jongno and Myeong-dong. David Hasselhoff's picture is not on the wall. I wonder how he feels about that.
A couple bears wandered into downtown Seoul the other night. Fortunately, nobody was mauled; they posed for a lot of pictures, though, and handed out flyer ads.
I like this baby's goofy smile on the ad.
Across the street from the only place in Seoul I know to find soy ice cream: the weirdest park bench I've ever seen.
I posted once before about the supersaturation of Starbucks in Jongno, Jonggak, Insadong, Myeong-dong, and City Hall. . . but I missed this one.
Hee hee. I wonder if they pay a royalty for this one.
A little Konglish for ya.
For the sake of journalistic thoroughness in my previous discussion of overly sexy ads for soju. . . two more examples of soju posters.
These days, waffle houses are popping up all over Seoul, except that they seem to make them with cake batter instead of waffle batter (darn adapting western foods for the Korean palate. . . which is an entire post of its own. Ask if you wanna hear). Anyway, Samchungdong, an old/new stylish neighbourhood, has been sprouting waffle houses like zits on a tenth grader, and in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, this waffle house offered some good-looking waffle options:
And also some, uhh, unconventional choices.Because, last time I was eating a waffle, sifting through fruit and sugary glazes and maple syrup, I thought, "Gee, what this waffle really needs is some sausage, or maybe some cheese," didn't you?
This made me laugh.
Rather than letting the word of mouth spread, or making his decorations parenthetical, displaying them modestly somewhere in his restaurant, this dude decided to just flash them out as brightly as possible. (this was on the outside of his restaurant. . . and actually has the opposite effect from what he intended, decreasing my desire to try out his joint, because maybe he's a good cook, but now he also comes off as a kind of self-aggrandizing smarm-farmer.)
Are you that insecure, cook man, that you have to show around your, uh, attributes, in the crassest way possible?Okayyyyy. . . moving right along.
In Park Chung-hee's days (Korea's old military dictator, plus the architect for Korea's current economic growth), he restored the Korean palaces, but built them out of concrete instead of the traditional wood.
He oriented them in relation to an administrative building the Japanese had built during the Japanese colonial period. . . I thought before that the Japanese had rearranged the temple buildings to mess up the topography and energy flow of Korea's power center, but those offending buildings in question were actually built by Koreans! (There goes that scapegoat!)
Note that beneath the traditional Korean paint, on these pieces of the old, gate, is solid concrete! (Gyungbokgung gate is currently being rebuilt in the correct place, according to archaeological evidence, out of original materials with original techniques -- authenticity over durability; take that, Park Chunghee!)
From the old, campy 1960s Batman: right over the top. does this ever happen to you?
"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!"
Goofy computer screens selling stuff today at lunchtime. I have no idea how they could see.
Yes, there are people inside.
Spotted them taking a break by Insa-dong. Their job must suck when it's hot.
There's a little alley like this near my house -- I've mentioned the good restaurants to be found in there before.
Now that it's spring, every night it's poppin' in there, full of people eating pieces of barbequed meat. (yaaaaayy redmeat!) The people always look really happy, and I love the ramshackle homeyness of the alley restaurants. Well on Sunday night I finally ate there.
Here's about what it looked like.And it was one of those perfect evenings -- as good as wine on the rooftop terrace the night before. I love where I live. Really I do.
A guy came by selling little snacky things. It's a bit of ddeok (rice cake) wrapped in a fresh leaf, and they're great.
Eating them made coworker Dani make this face.
Here's another old tea room in Samchung dong (been stomping around there a lot lately. It's really fun at night, but pricey.)
This is one of the old, one of the original samchungdong establishments -- before it was hip to go there.
They served Nok'gak daebotang, deer antler tea (didn't know that's what it was when I ordered it; I basically shut my eyes and pointed at the menu because none of the items were known to me), that is the bitterest broth I have ever tasted, dear brothers and sisters. I still feel like I have tiger balm on my tongue, a day later. It was wildly different from anything I've had before.
anyway, there's a bit more of what's been keeping a grin on my grill lately. it's late now. Pray for girfriendoseyo if you pray: things at work continue getting curiouser and curiouser.