Saturday, June 25, 2011

Everland Tumbling: Viral Video; can't win for losing

This video of trampoline acrobats has been going viral in Korea - wifeoseyo just showed it to me after being sent a link by a friend.

It's awesome: watch what happens when the second guy gets called up.

Friday, June 24, 2011

R16 World B-Boy Masters Championship

I was offered free admission to this event, if I would promote it on my blog.
I won't be able to go, but B-boy is an interesting part of Korean culture (get on it! I KNOW you have Unesco on speed dial, Lee Charm), which offers a totally different look at Korea than you get from the tourist brochure.
So I can't but you should go. It's at Olympic Park.

click on the poster to enlarge.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nobody Owns Arirang

So China is ruffling some feathers by claiming "Arirang" as part of Chinese cultural heritage.

Arirang mass games.

And while it's true that some people in China sing Arirang (after all, there are TONS of ethnic Koreans in Northeast China), others suggest this is part of China's "northeast project" of co-opting Korean culture and history as their own, probably in order to legitimize land claims in the region.

A few things just to throw into the discussion:

Jang Sa-ik's Arirang. (which of these is the 'correct' use of Arirang? Who gets to say?)

1. Retroactively assigning Korean-ness to things that happened in the past is always problematic, as is  a group of people associated with a nation-state self-appointing themselves as the final arbiters of what is and isn't Korean, according to the current priorities, values and practices of their nation state.  Too often, such claims are made for fishy motivations relating more to current national politics than honest historical reckoning.

2. The idea of the nation state only came about in its modern form less than 200 years ago. Retroactively claiming that certain practices, foods, songs, dramatic forms, or whatever, belong to one, but not another group of (long-dead) people, according to border lines that were drawn LONG after the origins of those practices, foods, etc., doesn't make much sense.

Guy gets his grandparents to sing arirang.

3. As I argued in that seventy-five piece series that took me a year to complete: Nobody Owns A Culture. Culture is something people do, or practice, not own. UNESCO might be more useful at recording and preserving world heritage if it began finding different, more flexible ways of identifying origins of cultural elements, so that all this crap about "national cultures" don't have to get mixed up in cultural heritages that predate said nations. It annoys me when something like UNESCO, which is trying to do a good thing, becomes a battleground for national historical claims.

If Pumashock sings SNSD songs, she doesn't BECOME Korean, nor does SNSD cease to be Korean because an American sang it. 

This is also Arirang. There are tons of different Arirang melodies and versions.

4. China is a huge, amazingly diverse nation, and that diversity includes cultural elements that are not shared with the entire nation. Saying that "This is a song/set of folk songs popular with Korean Chinese in Manchuria" doesn't automatically mean that your average Han Chinese in Bejing, or Joe Chinese in Kunming will thenceforward stand up when he hears that melody, and say "That's MY culture," any more than Oregonians would say "This music defines me" about Dixieland jazz.

Jeongseon Arirang

5. Arirang has been sung in so many different ways, in so many different eras, by so many different groups, with different themes, that it's more of a form than a song. One could almost say it's more of a genre than anything else. (one of the first things I learned in trying to find out the history of Arirang, is that it was one of the most popular songs in Japan during the first half of last century... though that might have been for similar reasons to why Gilbert and Sullivan set their musicals in the far east - as an aspect of the colonizing gaze.)

Haeju Arirang... you get the point.

All this stuff about essentializing culture, and retroactively assigning it to nation-state regions that hadn't been defined as such at the time of origin, and then getting up in arms when others also say that they used it, in that region, is just a little specious.

can we at least be honest enough to acknowledge that this isn't about whether or not Manchurian Koreans sing or sang Arirang, but about anxiety over the "Northeast Project" and China's attempts to co-opt Korean culture into China's matrix, and then talk openly about that, instead of making fusses about non-issues like this?


Oh shit! The New York Philharmonic played Arirang on instruments invented by Europeans. It's American culture now. Damn you Americans! First you stole the Stanley Cup from Canada, and now this! Curse you all! (bit of sarcasm there)

There's a video of a Korean baby singing a British song that was a hit worldwide, popular on an American website. So, Hey Jude is now a Korean cultural heritage. China can have Arirang if they want.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Had to take a picture of this

clearing off a camera memory card (tons of stuff I have yet to post here... sorry folks. You don't get to be part of EVERYTHING I do)...

but I had to show you this one.

A little more than once a month, on average, Wifeoseyo's mom, Mominlawoseyo (see I don't like that: it's too much of a mouthful), comes over, and fills our fridge up with wonderful Korean foods.


It happens frequently enough, that a while ago, when I actually uncovered the back wall of our fridge, I had to commemorate it with a photo, which I'd like to share with you.

Sweet.  Do you see it there? In the middle shelf, beside the huge tub of (really good) kimchi and behind the small jar of salad dressing?

there's something wrong with the color scheme of this New York Yankees cap.

Wrote my last final yesterday. Drank beer at lunchtime, and had a hangover by evening. So that sucked. But beer was nice. I've been a bit of a teetotaler for the semester.

And maybe I'll put something of what I wrote for my papers up on the blog. Maybe.

The problem with studying academic-y stuff?

Reading your blog friends posts and expecting the rigor you've been reading in research for your papers. And if you're not reading one or two particular K-blogs, you're probably not getting that.

anyway... more later readers. bye for now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Canucks vs. Bruins. Game seven debriefing from a disappointed fan, and some Chris Pronger hate

I'm writing this while I still have the gross taste of tequila in my mouth: the barkeep at Yaletown gave free tequila shots to Vancouver fans after the team went down with barely a whimper, 4-0 in game 4.

I consider myself lucky: I moved out of the Southern Ontario region when I was 14. One or two more years there, and I would have formed a lifelong bond of loyalty with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and if you know anything about their history since NHL expansion, that's like putting your hand into the grab-bag of "hobbies for life" and pulling out "putting tabasco sauce in your eyes."

So compared to that, being a Vancouver Canucks fan ain't half bad.

And Vancouver fans are lucky, too: no matter how much heartbreak they go through as sports fans, they still live in Vancouver, for the most part, so they've got that going for them. They can go work out their frustration with a long walk along the seawall, or on a bike trail, or this winter at Whistler, or by taking a drive up and down Vancouver Island. Or chill out by smoking some of the best weed in the world... decriminalized. It's not a hard life. Better than being an Edmonton fan if the Oilers are sucking, when the only thing to do is ride your dogsled team down refinery lane. (That's an exaggeration.) And let's not even get started on places like Detroit or Cleveland.

I'm a Vancouver Canucks fan. Definitely. Been rooting for them, hard, all through these playoffs.

So here are a few thoughts:

1. Boston has had a friggin' INCREDIBLE sports decade: they've had a championship in all 4 major sports. If I were a 15 year-old Bostonian, somebody would have to pull me aside and warn me, "It's not always going to be like this."

2. Boston has lost five consecutive Stanley Cup finals heading into this one: running into a dynasty, a juggernaut or a transcendent player who would not be denied, each time: The Broad Street Bullies, the '70s Canadiens, the Gretzky and then Messier Oilers were their last opponents. The only Hockey team that's been snakebitten more are the Philadelphia Flyers.

3. It hurts me to say it, but Vancouver did not deserve to win this year's Stanley Cup. Not the way they played in Boston. Not with a goalie who got pulled twice in the finals. Not with the Sedins and Ryan Kesler all going silent during the finals. Not with all the biting, barking, and gamesmanship they partook in. Not after taking Boston's top goal-scorer out of the series. This series was a lesson in class and sports karma. Sorry to say it, Vancouver. Comport yourselves better next year, and try again.

4. Tim Thomas deserved to win. I don't know about the rest of the Bruins, but Tim Thomas did something incredible these playoffs, and my hat's off to him.  Did he have a single weak game?  He also gave Vancouver and Roberto Luongo respect in his postgame interview (though not in the pre-game shootaround). He is officially in my good books, and I'll root for him any time he's not up against Team Canada, the Canucks, or a Canadian team. The most memorable moment of these finals was probably when he bodychecked a Sedin in front of the net. He owned, pure and simple.

5. Even if Vancouver HAD won, Luongo and the Sedins still would have faced question marks, given the way they played in the finals. If your superheroes don't step up, what did you think was going to happen?

6. I can never feel TOO bad when an Original Six hockey team wins a championship. That's good for hockey's heritage in the long run.

My hockey rooting hierarchy goes like this:
A. Canucks

B. Other Canadian Teams (in this order: Calgary [until Iginla retires/moves; then they'll move back into a tie with...] Edmonton, Leafs/Canadiens [tie] Senators/Winnipugs)

C. Original Six Teams (Red Wings, Blackhawks, Bruins, Rangers, in that order)

D. Hard luck teams that have earned some success by going through a lot of heartbreak [Flyers, San Jose Sharks, with the caveat below]; also: great players who have never won the cup can fit in here. I rooted for Ray Bourque... though not every player who jumps to a contender gets this free pass: sometimes they're front-runners and I root against them [see also: James, LeBron].)

E. The U.S. Teams my favorite Canadian players are playing on [Crosby's Penguins, Sakic's Avalanche and Yzerman's Red Wings as examples].

F. U.S. teams playing an interesting, exciting style of hockey, and whose existence predates 1990s expansion, and who have cool, knowledgeable fans.

And the teams I actively root against:
G. Sun belt teams. Hockey doesn't belong in Nashville, Atlanta, or Florida. California deserves one team, not three. Maybe two, if the fans are loyal and knowledgeable. I was SO choked when a Florida team took the cup from Calgary, and then a Carolina team took it from Edmonton, and then a California team took it from Ottawa, three finals in a row.  I get conflicted when Canadian players dominate on sun-belt teams (Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks, and Carolina Hurricanes' cup wins were cases of this; currently, the San Jose Sharks stir up mixed feelings in me) - why can't those boys bring their talents (and the cup) back home?  At least Vancouver lost to an original six team, and not to the Phoenix Coyotes, who stole their team from Winnipeg, or the Orlando WhyDoWeHaveATeamHere's, or the Mexico City Chinchillas.

H. Teams that stole their franchises from Canada. Now that Sakic's not with the Avalanche, I wish them nothing but ill for stealing a team from Quebec City. Wayne Gretzky is diminished in my mind for taking part in Phoenix, a team stolen from Winnipeg. To a lesser degree, this also goes for the Dallas Stars, who stole their team from Minnesota, a state that deserves hockey. This one is mitigated by the fact Minnesota has a team again; I MIGHT forgive Phoenix if Winnipeg gets another team... but probably not Gretzky.

and most of all...

I. Whichever team Chris Pronger is playing for. I hate that guy, and I want to see his team lose. Every time I see him in a game (except when he's on Team Canada) I root for him to get injured in the most embarrassing way possible - to tear an ACL because his skate hits a groove in the ice, or to lose a fight to somebody half his size and break his cheekbone, or to break his hip while scoring an own goal - I friggin' hate that guy. Ever since he sold Edmonton out the offseason after they reached the finals, moved to California, and helped beat the Senators for the cup the next season, with his defection sending the Oilers (always a team I've liked) on a spiral from which they haven't yet recovered.

7. Canadian teams are now on a 5 finals losing streak: Since the Canadiens won in 1993, it's been Vancouver '94, Flames '04, Oilers '06, Senators '07 and Canucks '11. This is unfriggingbelievable. Next thing you know the Leafs are going to make the finals just so they can get their stomachs punched, too.

8. Vancouver's fans stayed in the arena to cheer for the champs after the game. Classy of them. Especially compared to Miami's fans, who were filing out of the arena with five minutes left in game six of the Heat/Mavericks final.

9. WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED TO THE RESILIENT TEAM THAT BEAT NASHVILLE AND SAN JOSE? Weren't, like, all the games in the second and third round come from behind wins? How did the team become so mentally brittle once they made the finals? Can't come from behind? Can't play a good road game? WTF, Vancouver?

10. I hope the Bruins have an escape route planned, that takes them directly from the arena to the airport. Sounds like things are getting a little rowdy in Vancouver.

It was a good season, and a great run. It's too bad things shook out how they did, and Vancouver embarrassed themselves in the finals, both on the ice, and in the press conferences. If I were Vancouver's coach, I'd demand all my players do a Mark Cuban next playoffs.  I'm sad Vancouver lost, but I'm glad they didn't win like this, and I hope they can pull something even better (and classier) together next season, before their window closes...

OK. I'm finished. I feel (a little) better now.

Great run. Here's to next season.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fermentation Celebration on Saturday

A friend of mine named Jason loves beer. He showed me the place that sells the best beer I've ever drank, and he makes home-brews that are quite good. But you shouldn't become his friend, because then he has more people to share his beer with, and less for me.

Anyway, a few months ago, at Craftworks Taphouse and Bistro, Jason got a bunch of his friends and connections together, who had been doing home brewing and the like, to hold a "Fermentation Celebration" - I went down with a mutual friend, and the place was so packed I couldn't even approach the tables and displays, and talk to the brewers.

Here's a video from that event:

Fermentation Celebration @ Craftworks from Scoby Cha on Vimeo.

Driven by that success, Fermentation Celebration II is spread out across several locales in Gyeongnidan and Haebangchon, so that it won't be shoulder-to-shoulder, the way the last one was.  It's this Saturday.

Fermented tea, beer, wine, makkeolli, yogurt, kimchi, cheese, pickles: all manner of fermented consumables will be there, and if you like food, you should be there, too.

The event map is here.

The Facebook page is here.

You can read about it in The Korea Herald here.

And here's the poster.
It's 20 000 won for the passport that gives you access to the entire event.

I love that events like this are happening, because I love seeing and hearing about, and meeting people who are trying to do something excellent, or become excellent at something, and they deserve your support, if you're in Seoul.

Disclosure: I'm writing this because I like Jason, but I haven't received any offer of compensation from him or the event sponsors. Maybe he'll put a thank you note on my facebook wall, or a link to the page of an excellent band I should know about, though.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I have this running through my head. So you will, too.

I mean... if you press play.

The Olympics are fascinating
"Hand in Hand" - the Official Olympic Theme Song of the 1988 Games.

one of my dogs has an ear infection she keeps scratching. So we put her in one of those cone things that would totally get her teased by the other dogs at the playground. Poor thing.

Also funny:

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Slideshow of Panels at Olympic Museum in Olympic Park, Jamsil, Seoul

Academic writing is way different than blogging, readers. It's like the difference between building something out of clay, and carving blocks out of wood in order to build it.

Here's a slideshow of the pictures I took of the text panels at the Olympic Museum, in Olympic Park, Jamsil. As I've mentioned, I'm writing about representation in the Olympic games, and how a country tells the story of an event... this makes these kinds of text panels very interesting to me.