“some weirdo from Korea who dances like a horse”

Nice article on Psy’s recent rise to fame <a href=”http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_entertainment/553444.html”>here</a>.

And an even better one that takes a closer look at the video <a href=”http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/08/gangnam-style-dissected-the-subversive-message-within-south-koreas-music-video-sensation/261462/”>here</a>. It was coming across that that made me take a second look and see, as they say, that it’s satire (oh my gosh! in korea?). Which is really cool. It’d be nice if Koreans could develop the ability to have a bit of a laugh at themselves.

The area of seoul called gangnam is shown briefly in a few shots in the video, but it makes me wonder what people overseas must think the place is like. Because, just like every other part of seoul, it’s an overcrowded, noisy, trash-strewn cement jungle. BUt satire is always a double-edged sword, it makes fun but it also promotes the thing it’s making fun of, especially to people who are new to it.

Psy’s playing at my one-horse college tonight. Since we have no one to actually ask how such a thing came about, me and the co-works guess that he was booked last year or something. I would go, but I’m sure it’ll be bedlam since it’s free to get in.

The Timbuk2 classic messenger bag: a review

As part of my birthday jamboree week a while back I bought a couple of things to try an fill the void in my life where meaning should be. And so, why not pass on some of that info to the internet?

I needed a bigger bag and I was sick of backpacks. I looked around on the internet and came across this company Timbuk2 by way of amazon. They have some premade, and a bit cheaper there but I found that on the <a href=”http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/custom”>timbuk2 website</a> they have a webapp thingy where you can customise a bag — and that’s even better than actually having the bag.

I’ve been trying to think long-view with buying a few things lately, and so thought it might be worth it to pay a bit extra and get it in the colours that I really like. I was (and still am) hoping that the extra cost, compared to budget branded messenger bags, will be worth it in the end. So far, so good. It’s nice that they make their products in (large 1st world country) too . I’m sure the giant roles of nylon that it’s all made from are manufactured in the chines but you gotta expect that.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/7703417370/” title=”Hear the funky drummer by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8430/7703417370_d3479de731_n.jpg” width=”320″ height=”320″ alt=”Hear the funky drummer”></a>

I got the large size, mostly with this here laptop I’m tappin’ on in mind. It’s large. I actually wonder if a 15″ screened laptop like this would’ve fit in the small sized bag, regardless of what they recommend on the website. It’s heavy duty nylon, and the shoulder strap is heavy duty. I got the ‘grab strap’ thing so I can hold it ‘like a brief case’ but with the large size at least it doesn’t really work. The bulk of the bag makes it misshapen in a way that makes the hand-holder seem like it’s in the wrong spot. Either that or the weight of the bag when stuff is in it make it not feel appropriate to be using the hand holder since I almost never use the plastic clips to properly close the lid. There’s velcro there too, and for me, so far, that’s enough for keeping it closed. Although the velcro will die in the long run.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/7703417828/” title=”Hear the funky drummer by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8423/7703417828_2e3d02cd4e.jpg” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”Hear the funky drummer”></a>

Since it often ends up sitting like this (open) at home, I wonder about the durability of the inner lining (here, orange) too, but it seems stong and not likely to go brittle and rip the way some plastics of this kind do. They have some neat ideas that’ve bubbled up from real-life cyclists like the cross-strap and the quick-release buckle. And while I’m not game enough to ride a bicycle in this city, I’m sure the bag would do well for cyclists as much as pedestrians. The hidden bonus for me is that the total length of the bag is the same as a subway seat, ie. wider than me sitting down. So when I have it sitting on my lap on the subway and some joker tries to invade my personal space with their elbow or leg then they brush against the chunky strap or the nylon of the bag.

If you start messing around with that design a bag thing you’ll probably end up buying one.

update: I found that there is a retail outlet for Timbuk2 stuff in Seoul. It’s in the shopping complex bulit over the top of wangshimni station on the green subway line. Unfortunately I can’t recommend it. The staff are rude arseholes. Two young guys in a shop the size of a shoebox. Sure, it’s one thing to not know English. I don’t judge shop-assistants on that. It’s another to immediately treat customers suspiciously and like they’re an inconvenience. It seems to be a fairly common thing in these shops where someone has bought into a franchise as an investment: bought the rights, signed a shop-lease, stocked up on merch and then installed a couple of university dropouts who invariably come with the attitude that they’re too good for retail. They get no commission and they don’t understand that they’re writing their own redundancy slips when the shop goes tits up because of lack of customers. Lazy boss, lazy employee.

Plus, the stuff there was _expensive_. There’s no financial benefit in buying there. Buying directly from the Timbuk2 website, including shipping is narrowly cheaper than what you’d pay in this shop. The only diff is you’d have to wait a week for it to arrive.

Update 2 (20/10/12) I liked the bag so much I bought the company.  No, wait, I just bought another bag. For my sweety, for her birthday.  I mentioned the idea of earth-colors and she liked it. So I went chocolate-red devil – barley. Interestingly, I had to just look it up again because I couldn’t remember the exact middle colour, and ‘in the flesh’ the red devil colour looks darker — more like plum. Whatever it is, it looks quite nice. I like the three colours and I think if I could redo my own blue-yellow-blue I would go for three different panels. Hers is the small size, and of course the first thing she tried to do was ram her 15″ brick IBM laptop in there — it just fits but makes the whole bag a bit tight for other stuff. When choosing the size I didn’t think she was going to use it for a computer.

Also, because it was a gift I tried using the little function they have on the webpage where you can attach a personalised message, but the message wasn’t included with the bag. Don’t know what happened there.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/8104989919/” title=”New bag by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8464/8104989919_1074622a72.jpg” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”New bag”></a>

monster island

I noticed on the google earth that near the namtaeryeong (남태령) station on the line four there is this plane of quite large proportions. And there is no landing field there. It’s not one of those shots where a plane flying overhead happened to get in the shot either, as the plane has been there for some time.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/7123141867/” title=”plane-1 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8152/7123141867_1013c1730a.jpg” width=”500″ height=”294″ alt=”plane-1″></a>

Check out just down and to the right of the cursor sitting on the subway icon.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/7123133415/” title=”plane-2 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7190/7123133415_2eaf2a13c7.jpg” width=”445″ height=”291″ alt=”plane-2″></a>

We went on a mission to go strolling around the area to see if we could see what it was all about but went slightly the wrong way and ended up walking up a track where some light construction or terraforming was going on. It seemed that this is one of the areas where some of the land-slides happened last rainy season, so the govt is putting in some water drains. Re the plane, there is some army headquarters in that area of the city’s south, so my guess is that the plane’s got something to do with that. Maybe they practice high-jacker situations with it. At least the old style ’70s high-jacker style where the terrorists kept the plane at the airport and waved their guns out the pilot’s window.

day at the rat races

What I’m enjoying this week: Bald Guy brand Chinese pickles. Only available: from china. I love tearing open a new packet and getting that limey chinese pickle smell. J-e is in Tsingtao for a few weeks for work and has promised to bring back a big haul of bald guy pickles. There’s four variations. I like them all.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6975298739/” title=”Untitled by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7180/6975298739_46d6878a25_m.jpg” width=”179″ height=”240″ alt=””></a>

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6975299253/” title=”Untitled by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7190/6975299253_cee80c28c4.jpg” width=”500″ height=”374″ alt=””></a>

There’s a little nugget of wisdom from the eastern mind. Although what it fails to consider is the anti-carb lobby that has been waging a propaganda war against the potato for some time now, in the west at least. I tell ya though, what the west does take for granted is the price of potatoes. Damn expensive here. I don’t really know why either. The carbohydrate-food lobby needs to get together with the gluten-food lobby and form a united front the way red meat & eggs have, in the west at least. People love gluten here. You can buy star-shaped gluten treats at Dunkin Donuts.


Live from a wintery bunk-bed

We moved to central-south seoul yesterday. It was a long day but not impossible. For an old guy, the moving man was quite friendly, and the land lord seemed friendly too, even if the real-estate agent wasn’t.
There’s a bunch of things we need to get sorted out, like the heating. Like most places in Korea, it’s floor heating but it’s an unusual, antiquated system where the heating is on only between 10pm and 8am. For the first few hours last night it wasn’t on at all but them by about 4am it’d started to warm. Hopefully it’ll kick on right from 10 tonight. The heat kind of sustains itself through the day but I’d say that you need it on for the whole night and not just a few hours unless you want to be sitting around at dinner time with cold toes.
Also the door security system is a bit screwed. The alarm goes off every time we open the door. And the hot-water system was leaking drops of water onto the floor of the upper mezz (bunk) last night but then it mysteriously stopped. There’s no curtains so we have to get on to that soon. I suspect a good chunk of the warmth is seeping out the windows. Some of the contact on the cupboard doors is pealing and needs to be super-glued back down. In the shower this morning I found that the water pressure is really low but I imagine that’s something I’m going to have to adapt to since I don’t imagine it’s easily fixed. The traffic noise is something else I’ll have to get used to. It’s not really really bad. In the day it’s not a problem. Just at night it’s a bit noticeable. It’s just the sshh of tires on the road that can be heard rather than engines.

When standing on the lower floor there’s a nice feeling of head-space. The ceiling is high. The area seems good. There’s no piles of trash all over the place and there’s a load of restaurants close by. The prices are a little more expensive than cheongju but I also notice that a whitey like me can fade into the background, or at least not be gawked at. It’s funny, but I happened to be perusing entries of this weblougue from six years ago, and back then that didn’t bother me.
So anyway, on a day when I don’t quite have the motivation to start the process of unpacking, it’s good to be reminded of a couple of the good things about the last place, like the shower and the amount of closet-space, but let’s not forget:

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6683936087/” title=”HIP_348038648.747583 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7160/6683936087_37c93faa25.jpg” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”HIP_348038648.747583″></a>

_Naedok 2-dong’s incomprehensible trash mountains. Third-world living with first-world delusions._


<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6062505208/” title=”Chevrolet ad by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6066/6062505208_058b555d55.jpg” width=”500″ height=”374″ alt=”Chevrolet ad”></a><br/>_Pronunciation: no one does it right except me_

As you know, there’s no differentiation between the ‘L” and ‘R’ sound in Korean, with results often turning out hilarious. And I could forgive this full-size neon ad I saw in the subway if they’d been translating a strange word never seen in English. But it’s right there in the bottom corner!

osmo, sis

Here’s a hot tip from your pal YS that is of especial relevance to people living in Seoul. If you are like me and come from a land with low population density, and additionally, if people periodically drive you nuts regardless of who they are — then I have found the place for you. The <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seoul_National_Cemetery”>Seoul National Cemetery</a> is next to dongjak subway stn on line 4. It’s a huge area and when I was there, last Monday, there was almost _zero_ people there. It’s difficult to appreciate how unusual this is unless you’ve spent time in Seoul and know how almost every part of the city is peopled-up 24/7.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5467608594/” title=”IMG_0190 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5012/5467608594_1f85a2a322.jpg” width=”500″ height=”374″ alt=”IMG_0190″ /></a>

No _bon daeggi_ sellers, no troupes of rambunctious hikers, no noisy families — no one! So if you’re about to flip out and push someone off an overpass then this is a great place to chill-out.

Right up the back is a new-looking crypt (?). They must’ve run out of holes in the ground because this place is slowly filling with jars.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5467608810/” title=”IMG_0191 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5053/5467608810_a3f7baca51_m.jpg” width=”240″ height=”179″ alt=”IMG_0191″ /></a>

buy 1 get 1 free!

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/4559548770/” title=”IMG_5229 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3479/4559548770_edcab8d449.jpg” width=”375″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_5229″ /></a>

“What do you do?” “Oh I’m an artist. Y’know, like, an art artist.”

Went to an art sale/exhibition in Seoul last weekend. I have this terrible attidtude toward korean art. I know that ultimately it’s no good but I can’t seem to let it go. Whenever I see art here it just looks derivative and uninspiring.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/4558918091/” title=”IMG_5225 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3228/4558918091_96e164ea1a.jpg” width=”375″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_5225″ /></a>

However, I should say it’s hard to impress me with  visual, 2D or 3D, non-cinematic art from any country. But whenever I see korean art my first thoughts are a) it looks like wallpaper, or b) they’ve copied it from someone in Europe or NY. B is no doubt influenced by the knowledge that in Eastern (mostly korean and chinese) philosophy, copying — or emulation — isn’t considered a bad thing, whereas my own personal philosophy sits it alongside ‘pathetic’, the kind of things kids do _because they are kids_.

And don’t give me the ‘oh it’s the war’ thing and korea is doing well considering it was bombed to smithereens in the 50s because that doesn’t really factor into it here.

Walking around the art show, I got to thinking how artistic thought, technique and endeavours are kind of like technology. To be at the top of the game, a country has to be pushing hard into the field for a long time. And for a long time, in korea, being an artist wasn’t considered a very noble thing. In the west, you’d be pretty happy if your son grew up to be <a href=”http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/200706/r151479_540039.jpg”>Brett Whiteley</a> (apart from the heroin) but in korea you’d be proud if your son grew up to be steven smedley the pencil-pushing public-service accountant.   The point being that with art, korea will always be playing catch-up, and even the traditional stuff like those whacky tiger paintings are influenced by chinese art.

But I can’t finish this off without at least a glimmer of hope. I did like this.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/4559548420/” title=”IMG_5226 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3503/4559548420_ab8a22ef11.jpg” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”IMG_5226″ /></a>

It was a mechanical thing that flapped wings when it detected the movement of people near it. It made a lot of whining mechanical noises which were cool, and I fancy the idea of someone who has an apartment that’s only 5x5metres sticking one of these big-block installations in the middle of it. Art isn’t meant to fit conveniently with your lifestyle.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/4558918717/” title=”IMG_5227 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3593/4558918717_4bc5743904.jpg” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”IMG_5227″ /></a>

kimchibilly night @DGBD

I went to watch some live music last night. Korean rockabilly bands. It was pretty okay. Missed the first group, but the other three I did see got progressively better as the night went on, finishing up with the main act, the <a href=”http://www.rocktigers.com”>Rock Tigers</a>. They seemed pretty well drilled and I would guess, have probably toured OS. The two guitarists had these gorgeous Gretsch guitars but I kept thinking that it’s kind of a loss because they’d sound pretty much the same.The lead singing woman was really cool and had a lot of charisma.

I was kind of hoping I would see some Teddyboys there but the only people who were dressed in theme were the people in the bands. There was a few yahoos in the audience who wanted to mosh but the music really wasn’t up to that speed, nor was there the audience capacity, so all they managed to do was get some other people rather pissed off. A scuffle almost broke out. I kind of wished it had because while the music was nice, it wasn’t totally doing it for me. Nobody did, Brand New Cadillac, which is what I would have done had I been playing.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/3476193570/” title=”IMG_4121 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3564/3476193570_ae9f67b677.jpg” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”IMG_4121″ /></a>

serious business

It occurred to me that I better write something here now or a whole month would slip away with no entries, which causes havock with the archives page. Been mostly busy with procrastinating about study — hard at it, sometimes spending nine or ten hours a day, thinking about how I should be writing essays.

Not much else of note. Obsession with effects pedals, guitars and parts of guitars continues unabated.

Chuseok was earlier this year than it was last year – that’s the lunar calendar for you. Managed to get out for one day and ticked off another destination on in at that big map in the inner landscape. I intend to eventually hit both ends of each subway line here in the metropolis. PAL-DANG: done. Not much there. There was lots of hiking, bitter middle-aged on their way to a nearby mountain. It’s near one of the arm of the han river, and over the other side of the river was more city – so didn’t feel very far out. We had duck for lunch.

I changed my mind about line one though – I do like it now. It goes though a lot of down n out areas, there’s always weird people on the line and the carriages smell funny. It above ground. Some of the stops before PAL:DANG! looked more interesting than Pal himself. Je manages to catch me in one of my charming looks.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/2873799949/” title=”Je always seems to catch me looking my best by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3250/2873799949_b6545b49b2.jpg” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”Je always seems to catch me looking my best” /></a>