Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Saturday before Easter.

Red Cave by Yeasayers

This is a live version of the song I wanted to play along with THIS post.

There was a recent story in the Korean papers about a family murdered. (actually, there's been a spate of kidnappings and murders and missing childrenings lately; it's getting so bad it's even being reported in the English newspapers in Korea, which usually kind of forget to print news that casts Korea in any kind of negative light -- "Korean Player Pitches Three Innings and gets One Strikeout in Major League Baseball's Spring Training" "murder? what murder?" "Korean Soap Operas are Popular in Indonesia!" "serial rapist on the loose in a suburb of the city where Anglophone female readers might want to use the buddy system for a while? oh. . . let's just bury that one and hope one of their Korean friends warns them. there's no more space after that full-page writeup on the popularity of Korean movies in Laos." [sigh] that's why I get my news from the Marmot.)

But back to the death of that family, on a very, extremely tangentially related, and much lighter note, I found this picture on the internet and it made me snicker.

I'm writing this on a subway, on my portable word processor (yay word processors!) and I just saw a group of three older ladies (ajummas) standing near the subway car door waiting to get off. . . but the exit was on the left, and they were standing on the right side. When these ladies get together, sometimes you'll have a pocket of ladies who gaggle exactly like a group of middle-school girls --that excited, high-speed yammer-- but with lower voices and more throaty hisses for emphasis. Anyway, the subway car stopped, and they in their gossiping, still hadn't noticed that there was no platform outside their door, and finally when the doors slid open, one of them realized their mistake and hauled the other three ladies out the right door with all the comic double-take timing of Buster Keaton.

Another old lady just came up to me and fixed my collar, which was tucked under my vest, before she got off the subway. I love Korea.

These are the dumplings I can by near my house for four dollars (less, now that the won is dropping)

They're filled with hot, savoury liquid, and they're made while you wait by two fat ladies from China who barely speak any Korean, even less English, and one of them has a permafrown. They're amazing.

The Maxx: volume 4: "Besides, even if you COULD move a glass of water with your mind, you'd still be the same screwed-up person you were before, right?"

Now I understand waiting in line for something good, and I believe that some things are really delicious enough that it's worth it to wait a little longer. . . but there has to be a threshold, you know, where you have to say "Yeah, these steaks are better than steaks from GenericFamilyRestaurant (tm), but are they actually thirty five dollars better? Are they actually waiting in line for an hour better?" -- I mean, you have to draw a line somewhere, don't you?

And maybe the food in this Pomodoro restaurant is good, but is it really waiting forty minutes for a table and lining up out the door better than the lineup-free Italian restaurant around the corner? Maybe it's the old sunk cost fallacy: "I've waited twenty minutes; may as well wait thirty more and get what I came for."

At least it's spring; in the dead of winter, there was a special street-food stand in Insadong serving cinnamon-filled cakes (heott-deok) where the lineup would curl around the stand once, and halfway around again; people would wait forty-five minutes for these confections, and yeah, they were great, better than the other heott-deok available at other street-food stands, but forty-five minutes shivering in line in the winter cold better? Seriously? Why not come back in the early afternoon, or on a weekend, when the line is shorter? I guess they can do what they want, and sure, the longer line adds a little prestige or mystique to what you're consuming (I firmly believe roller-coasters would be half as fun if you just walked onto them without waiting in line: watching others get on and come off, seeing the cars rattle around on the tracks, builds up anticipation, and anticipation is a great experience-enhancer), but waiting forty-five minutes in the cold is a bit like paying the hundred-dollar extra "just because Koreans are so brand conscious, so we can, and screw you if you don't like it" prestige markup on brand name handbags in Korea. You can if you want, but I'm not biting, anyway.

Insooni is a pop-star, as far as I can tell. This picture of the singer is simultaneously both the best, and the worst popstar publicity photo I've ever seen. I'm still confused by what I'm seeing, and why it's both appealing and awful at the same time.
Let's look, and be confused together.

This restaurant has a giant mask on it. I kept waiting for it to puff steam out its nose and bellow, "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! i am the great and powerful o-juh" (which is how Koreans, unable to pronounce the "z" sound, say "Oz").

Three-piece band. Sometimes I walk by them on my way to work. Yeah, I'm rubbing it in, but. . . What do YOU walk by on YOUR way to work?

Hee hee hee.

Today Seoul smelled very good. Walking around Seoul can be a smell adventure -- anything from boiling pig fat to spilled soju, fresh tempura street-food, raw sewage, garbage, garlic farts, cigarette butts or fresh bread and charbroiled, marinated beef can waft by and startle your nostrils at any given time, depending on the wind and such, but this weekend so far has been nothing but roasted coffee grinds, fresh belgian waffles, barbeque chicken, scorched rice (nurungji) and green tea everywhere I turn.

(if there were a function whereby I could apply a scratch-and-sniff patch onto your screen here, I would. And I'll be the first to buy a computer featuring such a feature.)

Oh yeah. and also spring. It's been smelling like spring more and more.


Happy Easter, everyone. It's the most important day on the Christian Calendar, and weather permitting, I'm gonna read the passion story on the top of a mountain tomorrow. That failing, I might even go to church again.

love you all.


jess said...

hey roboseyo,
I'm moving to Seoul to teach English in a few weeks and just happened to stumble across your blog. It's kept me entertained for more than a half hour-very insightful and informative. Keep up the good writing!

Roboseyo said...

hey jesseve. thanks for the praise; I'm glad you enjoyed my blog, and I hope you have a kickass time in Korea.

Search for "roboseyo" on facebook and drop me a line -- it sometimes helps to have a long-termer on the mailing list when you're getting used to a new culture. (PS: I'm a writer, too, and can hook you up with a biweekly writers' meetup in Seoul as well. What do you write?)