a brief history of some culinary practices in korea

Apropos of the last post, here is a brief history of korean culinary customs, as understood by Team Sunny Breaks.
Metal chopsticks instead of wood: One day a man came to visit the king to talk to him about insurance. The king invited the man in and ushered him to a seat at the dinner table without asking whether he actually wanted to eat dinner or not.
Half way through the meal the king felt the uncontrolable urge to go wash his hands, which he did. When he was out of the room, the salesman realised this was a good opportunity to switch the king’s chopsticks with some novelty joke-chopsticks that went floppy when warmed by the hand. This he did.

The salesman imagined how this would provide bulk laughs and then the king might buy some dental coverage. Unfortunately, the sticks were made in china and were coated in a rather nasty toxic stuff. The king got poisoned and had a terrible bellyache the next day.
So from that day on he only used metal sticks. His loyal subjects thought this was pretty hip and joined in, despite their finding it much trickier to eat.
For many generations, the food of the loyal subjects would slip from their utensils, which splattered stuff in their eyes, and got little stains on their clothes. It took so long to eat a normal meal that they all became fetchingly slim.

[The universal truth of this part of the story is: even if the culinary custom was to stick a plastic toothpick under the fingernail of the little finger, and another under the nail of the thumb — and eat that way — people would still get good at it, because people like to eat.]

Where did the knife and fork go?: Another time, the king was having dinner with another man; they were having steak and kidney pie. The man was evil because he was probably from japan. His evilness became readily known when he tried to assassinate the king. He took up the knife and fork he was eating with, and leant over the little table and made several stabbing motions at the king with the knife and fork at the same time

They got the king in the forehead and it hurt pretty bad. From that day on, knives and forks were banished from the castle. Again, the people followed suite. Steak and kidney pie also became extremely unpopular. In the castle, whenever someone would moan that they were having trouble cutting their bbqed beef, someone else would whine back, “ah just use your spoon. For fuck’s sake!”. But this wasn’t always practical, and in the royal kitchen the chefs would sometimes sneak the scissors out of the 2nd draw and cut stuff up with them.

* * *

In modern times, pragmatism crept in and people began using the fork for pork-uh cutret, but when they did they always thought of the poor king and how he copped one in the forehead.

east, to see what we may

I don’t exactly relish bus travel, but I still find it impressive that there’s buses running from everytown to every-othertown, every 5mins. This travelator is a neat thing for sorting yr shit out. I just wish they had toilets. Ten minutes after getting on I start obsessing about how I’ll need to go to the toilet in half an hour, imagine wetting myself – and all kinds of crazy head-screws.
So I just went the jaunt to Wonju, an hr east. Checked the skanky little bus terminal there and then jumped on another headed for Gangneung, although you say it gungnung, and really it’s written: 강 릉 — but then that thing that kinda looks like a digital 2 is usually an ‘L’ or ‘R’ — so go figure. I’m starting to realise that the transforming of mouth-sounds to 2D lines is as subjective and impressionist as painting.

The mountains actually start to look like mountains out along the way – a spot called Pyeong Chang — so a nice chap, business man from Uljin – daughter studying lingustics at the university of sydney, tells me that it’s getting the winter Olympics in 2014. By looking in the book I found out that Uljin, further down the coast, has 4 nuclear reactors so I might go visit sometime.

It was like a breath of fresh air getting off the bus in gangneung. No humidity at all, just a cool/warm spring ocean breeze. I got directions and caught buses for a while, but as often happens, as soon as the guided-by-PT bit finishes, I wander off in one direction or another and have no idea where I’m going. Like Columbus. I wound up in — of all places — E-Mart-uh, having udon noodle for lunch and resigning myself to the possibility that I might not see the sea at all. A little boy, obviously distraught with my chop-stick handling, brought me a fork.

[Conversely, I find it amusing to see folks using forks here. They’re given as standard with the dish, pork-uh cutulet, and I often see people hold it with a fist in a dagger-stabbing grip.]

I eventually did hit the coast, afterall, it is one whole direction out of 4, got the shoes and socks off and dipped in to the east sea. Bloody cold. Not much of a swell either, but dang nice to see a marine horizon again. The sand was much grittier than australian beaches, but then I wasn’t sure if they’d have beaches there at all.

There is a national fear of something crawling up out of the sea and laying waste to the air-breathers. So they put large fences with razor wire along most of the coast. Also there’s dug-outs ready for machine guns.
Gangneung is a really nice looking town – they actually have some architecture – and trees along the streets. It gets some tourism in summer. Military jets were tearing holes in the audio-landscape the whole day. I got the non-stop bus home, driven by Elvis, which only took two hours.

gratuitous dirty kitten foto

It’s enough to make yer puke innit?.

I’m having something of a pleasure overload because I just found out I have the next three days off due to mid-term exams. Not being told these things earlier is now the most I, the talking koala, can expect. And eventhough there’s a lunchy on Wednesday I have to attend, ruling out breaking for inner mongolia, I’m not complaining. Days of is days off.

I just nipped home to get the travel guide and found a bunch of girls squatting behind a shed and I think a couple of em were faggin’. Good for them. Nice to see a bit of werstern-style rebelion. Although I tremble for thee re: thee ass-whoopin thee’d get if caught by someone more authoritarian than mee.

– Background on nuke reactors in SK. It’s weird living on the same little strip of land along with 20 heavy water reactors (just right for harvesting weapon stuff) — SK, and 8 old-skool, chernobyl-style jobs in NK. 40% of this country’s energy comes from nukes. I haven’t pinpointed where they actually are, but I think I’ll go visit when I find out. Y’know, go take a foto of me out the front, have a little melt down of my own maybe.

something of the night about it

At 7:55 everymorning I sit down at my little table for two, munch on a piece of toast, sip some instant copy and look out the window — across the way at the Doosan. It’s a Kubrick style monolith. It’s big and it skews the perspective of distance from here to there. The scale is all wrong.
Sometimes I imagine a bomb or a missile landing at the base, then wonder how far it would come down toward me.
The whole situation leaves me quietly but intensely aware of frames. Frames, dividers, rectangles, boundaries, parallel lines and 90° angle corners.
This last five mornings a vehicle flashed it’s hazard lights eleven times at five-second intervals.

He quickly became poderous to me because on only the second occasion of our meeting, after a quick hello, he immediately asked if I had any gum and did so in a way that made me feel relieved to the very core that I did.
I’d ask, “So what you been up to today?” as I did of most people. Most people would say some thing or another, this or that, one thing maybe. I myself often reply to that question with, “this and that”. But this fellow would routinely list out in order the events of his day up to the moment — he would always end with, “…and that’s about when I got here”. These catalogues weren’t to the painfully minute detail, but they weren’t ‘this and that’ either.
He had this military-style buzz-cut which made him look like Neal Cassidy.

Once I told him that I’d just bought a vacuum cleaner, which was true. He told me that he’d once worked as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman for 2 weeks, selling machines (I forget the brand) that cost $1800 but had still managed to sell four. He’d throw salt on the carpet and ask them to pick it up with their present cleaner.

The days and nights are shifting faster than I ever thought was possible. I watch as sunlight fades and is haphazardly replaced by dozens of compartmentalised sets of flouro-tubes. Some come on, others off. Then most of them wink out and shortly after the sun rises.

Once it rained for a month solid. The gap from here to there filled up 12 feet high with muddy water. Someone lent us a dingy, so me and the old lady next door could get where we were going. A gentle nudge from the second floor steps was all it took to get going. The only places I ever needed to go were work and the autoteller. The old lady just went over the submerged road to the temple to click rhythm sticks with the monk. Her minidog would yap continuously, I’d pat it on the head, it’s quiet then start yapping again. Budda loved it.
Then one day night became stuck and permanent.

“Sometimes I get these random streams of words flow through my mind. They aren’t familiar – I hadn’t heard them earlier that day. I don’t fancy it was my voice saying them. More like a radio dial slowly twisted from one channel to the next.”

people lived in pits
lime scale

“I think they’re trying to tell me something.”

baby elephant song

The Worsley Institute of Blu-Tack Art

some dreams

There was some thing on the radio tonight about shaun ryder, happy mondays, black grape – and I missed it. The other day I was googling him and found that the BBC did some doco on him a year or so back, and boy was he looking wrecked after coming through the other side of detox/rehab. At least he’s still alive because I think he really is a musical genius.

My mum used to say Don’t fritter away your money on tapes, and to an extent she was right because all the tapes are stuck in corio, but my CD collection, which I brought, has been worth its weight in gold.
I was going to do a big list of my fav tracks from the albums I have, but it’s too much effort.
I will say that for an album produced in ’98, fatboy slim’s you’ve come a long way baby, is really good. Also in the good album category is Pills, thrills n’ Bellyaches — happy mondays.
Song’s that’ve just popped into my head without any prompt lately include: XTC’s making plans for nigel, Bob Mould’s Sugar project song, ‘that’s a good idea’ (okay, that one was kind of prompted — I’ve had to read out the line, “that’s a good idea!” all week. And Blue Oyster Cult’s don’t fear the reaper. And ‘that’s entertainment’ – the jam, and Dear God – XTC again.
So I schnaffled them off the file share.

For a city of 12mil+ there’s bugger all good music shops. I’m attempting to get a piece of plastic but it’s a pain get sorted from here.
I got some 3 disc live Led Zep thing but it was a bit hum.. the inside sleeve bit had a note from jimmy page saying, “I was cleaning up the studio and came across some old masters… then I remembered I needed a new learjet”.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find the nick cave & the bad seeds double – abattior blues + the lyre of orpheus — which I think is good, but for some reason the words used in the rhyming lyrics stick out as being really obvious .. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. I like the song, hiding all away.
As I heard someone say on the radio the other day, you’re pretty much asking for a kick in the spleen if you’re australian and start dissin’ Cave.
I thought it was weird the way Blixa wasn’t involved. I was day-dreaming, trying to imagine how nick and blixa would communicate (phone?) and what was said: “I’m workin on sme new songs, do ya wanna come over..?” “Ja er nein, eem a leetle busy right now…”

Calm Down Dear, It’s a Commercial!

Back a year or two when drum n’ bass was normalised and used by (the ad agencies working for) corporates like McDonalds et al. it made me wonder why someone didn’t use something a bit more thumping. Well, the answer’s always obvious — don’t upset the old folks. But then, why do those ads exist where a guys screams End of year clearance, all stock must go! and also a sound of a sledge hammer hitting metal plates.

Mentioned (left) but also here again for permanency’s sake — JakaZiD’s remixes of a couple of UK tv ads (via adland) – and hosted at Lucky Kazoo.
Cillit Bang has been stuck in my head all day. Apparently the original ad was cheesy-Just-right enough that it hit that likability nerve. I suppose a good ad can do that – be like an unfinished work – waiting for the audience/consumer to pick it up and complete it. Metaphorically of course, most times.
The happy-hardcore remixes really cap it though. I think if I was working on the cillit bang account, I’d be trying to buy (or rent or whatever they do) that trak and trying my damnedest to get it on telly.

It probably wouldn’t work for E-sure, being insurance and all; a shame, because I think it’s slightly more catchy.

* * *

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy editing their mid-term exams. I forgot that writing english is an entirely different ball game to speaking it.
Also, with half the results in, public opinion among the girls is definitely landsliding towards, “Abe Lincoln looks like a monkey” – and in some cases, specifically a chimpanzee.

‘They’re going to hang me, Doctor. They’re going to hang me and murder you’

So last Monday in the cafeteria I ended up sitting opposite miss yu — she’s hot! I says, yo doo! so how come you didn’t get to the flower festival with us yesterday?
“Churchy” she says.
This is one of the unsolved mysteries. What the heck can you do in a church all day long. Are you allowed to bring sandwiches? Maybe they bring their boxes and have a LAN party.
She has the most amazing set of teeth you ever seen. If she died in a car crash tomorrow it’d be pretty much a unanimouse decision that her teeth would be sent intact to the national university to be studid by the dental skool and gawked at by general publics as a monument to the perfection that teeth can achive.
Me n the gals from typing pool were going out for dinner last nite and miss yu was in tow. They were deciding on what to eat. “Do you like acorn jelly?” I said “Acorn jelly mm-mm my favourite. So we went to The House of Acorn Jelly. Actually I felt a lot better about the stuff when I found out it wasn’t actually reprocessed squid guts.
Anyway I really like her and I think she likes me. Well I think she likes me – theres a chance she want to use me to sharpen her speaking skillz to get back at her younger sisters who speak better than her.
I don’t mind and either way I’m going into this with my eyes open. Or maybe I’ll go into it with em real squinty so everything lookes elongated and trippy, I havent decided yet.
She’s the music teacher and is the one who’s driving the bus when I climb the hill some mornings and hear this eary host of angel voices hallejuhahing – scaring away ghosts and making tigers howl — minors hitting minors.
In chapel she conducts the choir and here’s the other thing I’m not sure about. What really is conducting except waving your arms around. Wouldn’t everything keep happening if you weren’t there, waving? Zen, baby.
Back at The House of Acorn Jelly, the food had hit the table and yus lowers her head and goes into prayer. I had to think quick. I really wanted to impress her, so I went down on it too.
I took a deep breath, scrunched m face up and started praying so hard that it felt like my eardrums were going to explode and blood would come pooring out.
I don’t know what happend but I got dizzy, tipped over and hit my head just above the eye brow on the corner of the table. But it was like those times in surgery when I was abducted when they thought they’d anethetised me and I was still totally conscious.
They thought I’d knocked myself out but I wasn’t and it must’ve triggered something because I started going ballistic auto at the mouth, and foaming too. They thought I was speaking in tongs — I don’t know. All I know is that later in hospital, and they were all standing around the bed, yus looked quietly impressed. I think we’re going to the movies. Or maybe ice-skating.

pete standing alone

Okay so there’s not boys at the school afterall, it’s the table-tennis team. It’s just that the other 99% of girls look so girly and the table-tennis team all have bowl haircuts and always wear tracksuits. One of them was in a class today, but didn’t say anything – because they’re training 24/7 — they don’t go to normal classes. That’s what robinson crusoe, the other whitey, told me. They just hang out down there all day – you can rock up and have a hit with them if you like but they’ll whip yr arse like you weren’t even there.
I feel a bit sorry for them really – not being able to lead a normal life and all. Dusk, alone, walking across the soccer pitch, dropping to knees and craning upward, beseeching, “God! Oh God, why did you make me this way?!? Why am I so good at table-tennis? I just want to be a like a regular boy girl!!”.

And really, if ping-pong is a sport then I’m a hamster thesis. Ping-pong is what you play in your auntie’s garage. The rule is, if you can hold a beer and a fag in one hand and still do it, it’s not a sport. Badminton sucks pretty bad too.

I’m not middle-aged, korean or a woman, but if I was I would dress in golf clothes. It’s a great look. I’d always look like I was just about to go play golf — but instead the main thing I’d do is solve mysteries.