Summer is rolling in fast and even on the misty days I can feel the heat on my peanut. I really don’t like using sunblock. I sweat, it mixes with the chemicals and gets in my eyes. But I’ve never found a hat I was happy with. There’s no middle way between old man hats (I am not an old man) and inane baseball style caps that have all manner of ridiculous things lettered in bold on the front.
So I’m throwing it open to the floor. What hat for me? I am willing to order an Internet hat from mars if I felt confident it would fit, was comfortable and didn’t look too spazzy.

deung byo hye jang guk

In an effort to provide some sort of world public-service food shall now be talked about here.

Korean food is sometimes a little like Chinese food and sometimes a little like Japanese food and really quite different to western food. After eating the same thing regularly it can get boring but occasionally I come across new kinds of Korean foods that I like.

Last year I came across  등벼헤장국, pronounced deung byo hye jang guk. It’s pork, I think from the back, with the meat still on the bone, in a slightly spicy red soup-water. There’s a restaurant near my place that does it like so.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/4405449944/” title=”IMG_4945 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4070/4405449944_5b38236c06.jpg” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”IMG_4945″ /></a>

It doesn’t look that great, but I find it very tasty. After trying a few other places I found that my local place does it best by far. I think their secret ingredient is salt. People who’re totally adept with chopsticks pick the meat off the bone with them. I do a bit too, but mostly I use a spoon. There’s nothing wrong with that. Also with the main bowl comes a small bowl of rice, kimchi that you cut yourself, (it’s all the rage now) radish in a peppery garnish and some green peppers that I never touch because they look way hot. There’s also a small dish with a dipping sauce that’s a mix between a kind of brown vinegar and wasabi. You’re meant to dip the meat in it. I do sometimes.

The deung byo, while it looks hot, isn’t really. I like to get a little bit of the meat off on my spoon, get a little bit of rice on there and then get some of the soup on it too. The owners of the place just put the price of this meal up from 5500won to 6000, which works out as $5.60AUD. It’s still a pretty good deal.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/4404688113/” title=”IMG_4946 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2759/4404688113_2c9b23f4d5.jpg” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”IMG_4946″ /></a>

Other places I’ve had it at, like seen below, sometimes put a half a potato in there, or a bit more green vegetable matter (kind of like a weed) or make it a bit hotter (spicier).

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/4559546854/” title=”IMG_5223 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3369/4559546854_9be22586ac.jpg” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”IMG_5223″ /></a>

grand theft auto 4, opinion on

For better or worse, I did go out and buy a play-station on the weekend. I managed to find an older one that’ll play both PS2 and PS3 games, although it doesn’t seem like it was a very necessary move at this stage because there’s a huge difference in the level of sophistication and therefore enjoyment between the two. I’d just wanted to get a straight racing game, _Grid_ that I’d read good reviews of, but it’d gone out of stock long ago. Instead I bought _Grand Theft Auto IV_. Again, I was actually after GTA 3 because I’d read that Shaun Ryder, formerly of the Happy Mondays, had done a voice in it but it’d sold out years ago.

In Korean shops, being given something for free when you buying something is a good indication that you should’ve haggled. They gave me an XL-sized New York Yankees baseball jersey — very lol-worthy, but I was actually wearing it for fun last night while playing the game. This shopping complex is the closest to the US military base in the middle of Seoul and I bet those d00ds bargain hard as well as wear XL sizes.

And yes this game is highly addictive. Not surprising for someone with an easily unbalanced personality like me. But boy, is it interesting too. The level of detail is mind boggling. Most noticable at first is the audio. There’s 19 ‘radio stations’ each with roughly an hour or an hour and a half of music/talk on them. Each time you get in a car, the radio is set to a random station (which you can switch or turn off completely) that range from electro to hardcore to reggae. Iggy Pop DJs on one of the stations. There’s a lot of high-profile songs which must’ve cost quite a pretty penny to secure the rights to. The ambient techno station has tracks by Jean Michel Jarre, Phillip Glass and Aphex Twin! Bizarre. It’s like they raided my iTunes library.

There are plenty of detailed articles on the plot, like <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Theft_Auto_4″>wikipedia</a>, but basically, you play an Eastern European chap with a shady past who apparently has no qualms with stealing cars, running over pedestrians or shooting people. He can indulge in pretty much everything you would get in trouble for. But it basically sticks to the norms that Hollywood goes by; ultra-violence is ok, htero-sex with adults is ok, ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ drug use is ok.

From what I’ve seen so far, the game does work in a linear fashion. For the plot to progress there are tasks you need to complete. You can choose to take on side jobs, which help the character accumulate money, but it’s like treading water. Apparently, at certain places there are choices to be made, like with the first person you are sent to kill, Ivan (the not so terrible) you are given the choice to kill him (I did — pushed him off the fourth storey of a construction site) or have mercy on him and quietly let him go, _a la_ the situation with the hunter and Snow White, from the story <em>Snow White</em>.  I didn’t see that I had a choice.

Most of it looks quite good. The look of the envirnoment changes through the day and follows a steady time-scale moving from day into night and onward. It occasionally rains. As you’d hope, the vehicles move around in a realistic way and some of the ‘cutscenes’ show people moving around in an impressively realistic way. I’ve seen this before: cgi seems to do a really good job of animating the way the human body’s mechanics work but falls down heavily when it comes to the face and facial expression. GTA4 is no exception here.

Cutscene is the term used in reference to the short “watch only” pieces that move the story forward. These appear regularly when you complete a mission or come across a random character. They give the game a movie-like feel.

The clothing the main character wears can be changed. Extra clothing can be bought and mixed. Because it’s on a console, I can’t get screen-shots which is unfortunate. One of the early, easy missions is to go throw a rock through a shop-keeper’s window in order to extract protection money from them. It looks like a ceramics shop run by Korean immigrants and there’s signs in there written in Hangeul but eventhough I’ve living here for five years I still don’t know what they say.

So far, I’m stuck doing shit-kicking jobs like that, which doesn’t really inspire me to become a gangsta in real life. Although I have become a lot more wary of cars mounting the pavement and mowing me down for no reason. In the game, I’m currently stuck and unable to successfully murder (they use watered down, cool expressions like ‘take down’ or ‘waste’) a certain troublesome biker. Who would’ve thought riding a motorcycle at top speed in heacy traffic while trying to aim and fire a shotgun would be so difficult?

word power is job power

I’ve been thinking about buying a Play Station 3. I wouldn’t say I’ve been feeling consternation about it, which is to say, I haven’t been consterned, but it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I mentioned this to the g/f and she wasn’t impressed. She says it’s one of the things that she likes about me, that I don’t play computer games, a national scourge among men young and old on the peninsula. They’re like crack.   It’s like saying, well I have a decent job, I’m studying part-time, I have several healthy hobbies including growing cooking herbs and learning easy songs on the guitar like ‘Heart of Gold’, and Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’, but you know what? I think I’m gonna take up smoking crack.

Maybe I’m making too much of it. I’m telling myself I’m interested in studying the narratives embedded in the games. You know I could’ve even done my thesis on narrative in computer games. I like car driving games. And ones where you fly a plane.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/4590992285/” title=”oblivion by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4055/4590992285_f0a7418953.jpg” width=”500″ height=”271″ alt=”oblivion” /></a>

_”Soon, we will all have special names.”_

I watched _Videodrome_ (1983). The first third or so was pretty good. It was like Marshall McLuhan’s ideas combined with a William S. Burroughs plot. The last two thirds were more like _Nightmare on Elm St_ combined with nothing. It had Deborah Harry in it. She’s really gorgeous, but in a real, ‘I don’t bleach my teeth’ kind of way.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/4590992349/” title=”debharry by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4072/4590992349_e190722e5f.jpg” width=”500″ height=”281″ alt=”debharry” /></a>

*   *   *

Got to Jam with my old buddies last weekend. Played the <a href=”http://www.sunnybreaks.org/2010/04/17/deluxe/”>Tele deluxe</a> and my goodness it sounds good. I hit a chord and it goes, _”Klang!”_  Just a real bell-like Jang sound that I’ve never heard a guitar make except on records. So that’s its name now, Klang.


After a year of enforcing the draconian real name identification system, the Korean govt has given up and I’m now able to upload videos to YouTube and leave comments again. Sure it bothered me when they did it, and I did write a blog entry about it on sunny breaks but if I’d wanted to get around it there’s always proxies like tor. It’s just a pain in the arse to get the program going.

I guess the lesson here is that sometimes things happen in life that you may not agree with but it’s best to just do nothing about them — sometimes they will reverse themselves through processes in no way related to you.

two grim films

I think I’m done with this vein of movies for a while. That being apocalypsy. The first was _Fail-Safe_ (1964), a cold war film with Henry Fonda and Derrwood from Bewitched. Pretty good at creating tension considering it was all filmed indoors. The message was ‘let’s not drop the bomb’ although it was a fairly unrealistic turn of events where, because the US had accidentally let one of their bomber groups go nuke Moscow, the president, henry fonda, ordered the self-nuking of NYC as a show of good faith to the russians, and as a way of saying ‘we made a mistake’.  Somehow I don’t think henry fonda would’ve really done that in real life, although it’s funny to think of in comparison to the theory, ‘9/11 was an inside job’.   This film sits well with _The Bedford Incident_ which was another “Whoops!” cold war film.

The difference between film then and now ( _The Road_ (2009)); I wonder if it was just that cinema didn’t have the technology, or was it that the story writers literally couldn’t imagine the kind of horror portrayed in film now? Or was it that they knew what it’d look like but weren’t prepared to show it to the public?  _The Road_ was really grim. If that’s what it’s like to survive all out nuclear war, then I hope I get vaporised in the first wave. The way people became savages was scary, but it was the background detail, like how the forests were all dead, falling over and catching on fire, as well as the winter part of nuclear winter that really stuck in my memory. Viggo Mortensen looks like Dan from The Black Keys.