Friday, February 25, 2011

Odds and Ends

-It's been a more than one year campaign but thanks to this blog, when I google myself, the name of a woman who is a registered sex offender doesn't pop up anymore.

-I'm envious of that Korean guy who made a blogspot blog about Blackout Korea. Appealingly you can get a lot of people to come to your blog by comparing people who take pictures of drunk people to prison guards at Abu Girab. I know that Fun Times in South East Korea hasn't chronicled very many "fun times." I also know that this blog is filled with awkward sentences and is over all just kind of boring, but come on, I have 229 posts on this damn thing. That guy has two. I'm just happy that I have been unsuccessful in getting "adsense" to work, because then I'd be really disappointed. On that note, I'm happy that Mr. Englishteacherout doesn't have adsense because that mother fucker would probably be rich thanks to all of the K-bloggers linking to his site.

-Fun Times in South Korea is still one of the few authorities on "Ring Pang Donuts," according to google. Now all that needs to happen is for Ring Pang Donuts to get more popular in Korea. The Geumsan RingPang Donuts go their act together. The donuts are pretty good now. Still no brewed coffee but the espresso drinks are still pretty fantastic.

-There is really nothing in Korea that I feel like writing about. I'm fucking pissed about what is happening in Wisconsin right now though.

-Oh hey I just thought of a pretty cool Korea related topic. Dudes check out Lussoso. Lussoso is this shop that makes custom tailored shirts for men. I went into their shop, picked out a fabric, picked out a cuff and collar type, and then they took some measurements and then I gave them 50,000 won and a week later they gave me a shirt. They also do suits, but thanks to the custom tailoring, the shirt is pretty damn comfortable. I've bought a lot of shirts in Korea that make me feel like the hulk, like my shoulders will just tear the damn thing apart, but my Lussoso shirt feels like I'm wearing air. Damn you adsense!! I should get some money from Ring Pang Donuts, and Lussoso.

Martha Rose Shulman

Two years ago I bought a book called "The Instinct Diet," This book was all about trying to change your cravings from eating unhealthy food to eating stuff that is better for you. The best part of that book isn't really the diet portion but more the recipe portion. There are some pretty good recipes in that book.

Last year I bought "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," by Julia Child. I learned a lot from that book. I learned how to make cakes from scratch. It's a pretty fantastic feeling to make a cake from scratch.

About a month ago I was reading the New York Times, and I noticed a recipe section in "The Well." The recipes are all by a lady named Martha Rose Shulman. I found out that she and The New York Times published a cookbook called "The Best Recipes for Health." I got that book last week. I haven't tried many recipes from it, but a notable dinner that I had last week was "Sweet and Sour Cabbage, with Tofu."

Basically you make a sauce out of rice wine vinegar and sugar. Then you fry some tofu to the point where it gets a skin and then fry it in soy sauce for a little while longer. Then you take the tofu out of the pan and fry an onion, a scallion and some garlic. Then you fry the cabbage and add the sauce. Fry the cabbage until it wilts a bit and then put the tofu back in. Taste it a bit to see if it needs a little more soy sauce.

I made this last Wednesday. I didn't execute very well on the tofu, but the rest of the dish was simply splendid.

In the book, Shulman recommends serving it over Bulgar wheat. I have small bag of bulgar wheat that I'm a bit scared to try to cook, so instead I just cooked up a medly of rice, brown rice, barley, Chinese millet, black beans, sticky rice, and brown sticky rice in the rice cooker. The dish is indeed sweet and sour, and the soy infused tofu adds a nice salty kick. Good stuff. Good for vegetarians.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Last Class at my Middle School

Well all good things come to an end. I hope that my choice of changing jobs will be a good one, but today was the last class that I will ever teach under contract at the middle school where i have worked for the past three and a half years.

I had to teach a three day mini camp for the in-coming middle school kids. Now to toot my own horn. It was a pretty awesome camp. I've done about seven of these little mini camps this was the best one. The kids were pretty awesome and I did a bunch of cool things with them. We made sock puppets, little sock puppet movies. We played outside. We had an awesome scavenger hunt. I'm kind of disappointed that I don't get to teach these kids.

I'm kind of disappointed that I won't have a reason to go to one of the most pleasant parts of Jinju ever again. My school sits on top of a mountain and has a nice view of everything. It's the best approximation of a suburb that I have ever seen in Korea. During the day there is little traffic and there aren't many people on the streets. Two majestic mountain peaks are omnipresent. The kids don't whine like kids from other parts of town, they have a fairly good character. I think I'll miss some aspects of working there, I won't miss others.

I've heard that they haven't found a new replacement teacher yet. That stokes my ego, I'm irreplaceable apparently.

No. In all seriousness. I spent three years there. I was the first N.E.T. at that school, so a lot of the schtick that I created was all me. Every year got better and better. The school made a bunch of changes. Every year there was something new, and the school deserves credit for changing and trying to get better.

So yeah. I'm just kind of hoping for the best for them. I'm also hoping for the best for myself, and I hope that I made the right decision to move. I guess I'll see.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cool Things To Buy at Home Plus

So last week I left a comment over at "What the Kimchi," in response to a guy who commented on the blog of a woman who was sexually abused. The guy said something to the effect that he didn't believe the woman and that that stuff probably doesn't happen in Korea. The guy left his full name on the comment which might indicated that he is either really brave, or is an idiot. I'm guessing that he's an idiot.

My comment had to do with the fact that self defense items are pretty hard to get in Korea. I've heard that tasers, stun guns, and pepper spray are all illegal. I don't think that they should be. I think that pepper spray should be as easy to get here as it is in America. In the Midwest there is a pretty large grocery store chain called Meijer. I remember a few years back, being at Meijer and seeing little cans of pepper spray for sale in the checkout aisles next to gum and candy bars. These were key chain bottles of pepper spray that had little key rings on them. I think I even remember seeing little stun guns that looked like cellphones. The type of cellphone that you clip to your belt.

Homeplus doesn't have anything like that, but surprisingly you can get aluminum Nanchukus.
Nunchukus are a traditional southeast Asian weapon. I think they came from Okinawa or something like that. I guess the peasants in Okinawa who trained Karate in secret to fight the Japanese, used nunchukus to flail rice when they weren't using them to bludgeon Samurai. These days I'm sure that Koreans see nunchukus as an exercise tool and not as a weapon. Indeed if you swing nunchukus around for about ten minutes nonstop, your arms get pretty tired. They also aren't really that practical for women's self defense since you can't really conceal nunchukus very easily, but it is worth pointing out that these things are illegal in many European countries, and if you smack someone in the head a few times with these things you can cause brain damage. Stun guns and pepper spray, not so much. That's why those things were invented, they hurt like hell but an attacker will probably survive. (Well you could cause a heart attack with a stun gun or taser but pepper spray is for the most part safe.) So I guess my question is this: why can you buy metal nunchukus at Homeplus and not pepper spray?

Shame on the American Government

Last December, President Obama and a cadre of Republican leaders negotiated a deal where the the current Obama administration extended George W. Bush's tax cuts. The Republicans threatened the Obama administration with a parliamentary action that would suspend the government until the administration would extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone in America, including people who make over 200,000 dollars a year. The Democrats wanted to extend the Bush tax cuts except for the 1% of people in the country who make 200,000 dollars a year. The rate would have gone from 36% to 39%.

Obama caved to the pressure from the right, and as a concession was able to get many important bills through congress and signed. A nuclear arms treaty was ratified with Russia. Gay people can now serve openly in the U.S. military. A fund for 9/11 first responders was set up so that they can get medical treatment for illnesses that have developed due to inhaling toxic fumes at ground zero. (Side note, you fuckers who held that shit up and voted against that deserved to get slapped. I intend to write a letter to my congressman Fred Upton, urging him to draft legislation to make a public congressional cock punch day for for the cunts who voted against the 9/11 first responders bill. These are the same cunts who overturned Washington D.C.'s gun ban. The same cunts who who love small local government, but won't let the citizens of Washington D.C. govern themselves. Fuck you guys)

Sorry to get carried away.

Well last November saw the Tea Party come to power. The Tea Party loved wailing against government debt, and loved to point to the unemployment rate when trying to prove their point, but the first thing that they did when they got into power was to try to overturn the health care bill, and they tried to make it illegal for rape victims to get abortions. (I'm not interested in having an abortion discussion on this blog, anybody writes anything pro-choice or pro-life will have their comments deleted.) All of this instead of trying to draft legislation to create more jobs and, there was absolutely no word from these people when the Republican leadership and the Obama administration decided to ad an extra trillion dollars to the deficit by not raising taxes on rich people.

Recently the Wisconsin state legislature decided to make public employees contribute about twelve hundred more dollars per year to their pensions and health benefits. This is twelve hundred dollars per year on salaries that average at about forty-eight thousand. These people are police officers, fire fighters, teachers, and other government workers. I understand that that these contributions are necessary in order to balance the budget, but what I don't understand is how people in Wisconsin let their government get away with this bullshit. I mean millionaires and billionaires could have tried biting the bullet for the country, while middle class service employees have to get shit on.

And this was in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is usually a pretty awesome Midwestern state that stands up for the middle class, but not recently. Senator Russ Feingold from Wisconsin got voted out of office, after he took the high road and didn't take corporate contributions to his re-election campaign. Russ Feingold was one of the guys who helped pass the McCain Feingold act that tried to get big money out of electoral campaigns. (The McCain Feingold act got repealed so now it's much easier to buy elections.)

I guess that I'm a little pissed at this issue because something similar happened to me in Korea. It was a factor that helped me to make the decision to change jobs.

I had worked at a middle school for three and a half years. I got up to an EPIK 1+ level which meant that I was supposed to get a raise from 2.5 million won to 2.7 million won. It turned out that the local education office and my school could only afford to give me 2.4 million won. I accepted that offer, but when I started to get the checks I realized the mistake that I had made. This cut would end up costing me 1.2 million won on the year. With a baby on the way I couldn't afford that. I ended up taking a job that actually pays less than 2.4 million won, but the new job gives me a lot more freedom to go find part time work (By moonlighting I might be able to double my salary some months F visa in the house.)

So yeah that's about all I have to say. Taking a pay cut hurts. It especially hurts if you don't make much money, if middle class people in America have to start paying more into their pensions, and have to start paying more for health care, then why the fuck can't millionaires and billionaires open their wallets a bit? Hell, the two richest men in the world, Gates and Buffet are all for the restoration of the rich people tax rate. Bill Gates's foundation is trying to help kids in poor countries get schools and immunizations, but it's also trying to help kids in America. How fucking sad is it that shit has hit the fan so hard in America that kids in America need charity support that would otherwise go to third world countries? Think about it. Sorry for the rant, I haven't had anything to do for the past few days so I've been letting myself get angry at shit I can't control. Goodnight.

Korea's New Tourism Campaign: Drunk Calls to People in L.A. Using an L.A. Phonebook

Phone rings

A: Hello?

B: Hello, is this Aaron Abrahamson?

A: Yes.

B: Do you know Korea?

A: Dude I'm sleeping it's like four in the morning.

B: Do you know Kimchi?

A: Yeah, I've had Kimchi. Come on man, I have to go to work tomorrow.

B: Oh you know Kimchi. I think you are almost like a Korean person.

A: Yeah whatever man. Bye.

B: Fighting!!

Another call. This time not L.A.

A: Hello.

B: Hi, do you know Korea?

A: Whose that?

B: I said do you know Korea? The country?

A: Oh yeah that place. There is like two of them. There is a good one and a not so good one. And the not so good one has a dictator who wears women's glasses.

B: Oh I think you are Korean. Do you live in L.A.?

A: No hun. I live in Baton Rouge Louisiana.

B: I don't get it.

A: There's nothin to get hun.

B: My map says LA

A: Oh you see sugar that's because I'm from Louisiana. Our state initials are LA.

B: Oooh. So do you know any movie stars?

A: No sug.

B: Do you know Angelina Jolie?

A: I just said that I don't know no movie stars.

B: I want to meet Brad Pitt.

A: You and half the women on the planet sug.

B: I think that you are very funny.

A: Thank you. Aint you just the sweetest lil darlin out there. Oh by the way why did you call me?

B: I'm from Korea.

A: Okay.

B: How's my English?

A: Yer doin fine sug. But what do you want from me?

B: You come to Korea okay? Korea is very funny.

A: I'll keep that in mind darlin. Good bye now.

B: Okay, I think you are very beautiful, bye.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thoughts on the Grammys

Thought 1. If you want to get nominated for some kind of rap award put Rihanna in your song. The common thread between Eminem and Drake was Rihanna. Okay so the Drake song was Rihanna featuring Drake. I thought it was the other way around. That would explain why during their performance Drake said a few words then left and then Rihanna just sang.

Don't get me wrong I enjoy the Eminem song. It was also pretty cool to see Dr. Dre again. He can still rap, and almost 20 years since the Chronic he's starting to look a little bit like Forest Witaker, but that's pretty cool. I mean the late 80's and early 90's was kind of when rap really started to get going, so now that it's pioneer artists are getting up in age it will be interesting to see how the rap topics will evolve.

I was also surprised to see The Roots nominated for best Rap album of the year. Well not surprised since the Roots are pretty awesome and they had already won a Grammy for "You Got Me," I just didn't know that they were nominated. The Roots are probably one of my favorite bands ever. I saw them twice live. Once was at the Chicago Tibetian Freedom Concert, and the other time was at Moby's area one festival at Pine Knob in Detroit.

I got ultimate concert souvenir there. The story starts like this. My buddy and I went to that concert. Originally our tickets were for the lawn area. That kind of sucked because it was way too sunny and I wanted to get up close. So I pulled out my credit card and went to the ticket booth and asked to upgrade my ticket to get a seat underneath the pavilion. We ended up three rows from the stage. It was expensive, but worth it.

So The Roots came out and play their set. They did a live techno version of "You Got Me." I nearly shit myself. They made techno beats without a D.J. At the end of the show their drummer, Questlove had drummed himself into a frenzy and decided to throw one of his drumsticks into the audience.

This other guy and I both went to catch it. I kept my eye on the drumstick and I saw that the other guy's hand had the high ground. Then it was like in slow motion. I saw his hand clasp around air and while in my hand I felt a solid cylinder of vic firth.

Later in the concert Outkast played and my friend managed to get one of Andre 3000's sweat towels.

Anyway back to the Grammys:

I thought it was interesting how blond the women nominated for best country album were. The Taylor Swift look must be popular down south.

Well everybody was pretty blond except for Lady Antebellum. They won a lot of awards. I can't say that I was that impressed with them. I like some country music. Dolly Parton rules. Johny Cash was great. Willy Nelson has to be one of the coolest senior citizens out there. But I'm pretty sure I could use that Lady Antebellum song that won so many awards as a good way to get some sleep.

B.o.b. and Bruno Mars' show was okay. Janelle Monae brought some much needed energy to their performance. I'm interested in more Janelle Monae now. When you live in Korea it can be pretty hard to stay current on what's popular in music. Unfortunately I know a lot more about Kpop than Apop these days. It's unfortunate because I listen to Kpop mostly so that I can make fun of it. (Again I'm not a Kpop hater, I like a lot of Kpop, just not most of it.)

Cee-lo performed "Forget You," with a bunch of puppets, and Gweneth Paltrow.

I was a bit surprised that Justin Bieber didn't win the best new artist. Somebody named Esperanza Spalding did. I'm not disappointed. Justin Bieber shouldn't be either. He could probably freeze the U.S. government if he ordered a million middle school girl march on Washington. I'm interested to see what Esperanza Spalding is all about now that she has crushed Justin Bieber.

Arcade Fire was kind of cool. I don't know if they had the best album of the year, but their show was pretty cool. Last year when I went to New York, "Empire State of Mind," defiantly hyped me up to go there. I'm glad that Lady Antebellum didn't win that one. I kind of got tired seeing them win stuff. The Grammy judges seemed intent on awarding bland shit this year.

Those are enough thoughts. It's Valentine's day and I have the day off. I should take a shower, clean the house, and buy my wife some flowers or something. So bye.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I celebrated the my last graduation at my school. I didn't feel sentimental at all. I didn't feel sad. I'm happy for these kids.

Let me rewind three years. I was seriously thinking about quitting three years ago. I kind of hated my job. Three years ago when I saw my first graduation at my middle school, I was kind of happy to see those kids go. There were a few who really sucked. To be fair, I kind of sucked at teaching three years ago too. It was a bad combination.

Then the kids who graduated this year came. These kids were awesome, I really enjoyed working with them. Sure it wasn't all roses, but teaching them was usually pretty nice. They made me want to try harder. They made me want to renew my contracts. And now they are leaving, and so am I. So good bye, I hope you guys have good luck in high school.

I'm leaving to go work at a university. I'm going to have another shot at the kids who graduated three years ago. I'm a better teacher now, and I hope that I can do a better job at the university. It's just time to go.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fantastic New Ab Workout

A: Forget eight minute abs. Forget Seven minute abs. Hell even forget five minute abs. I have found a modern secret from the east that can give you that tight tummy for bikini season.

B: What tight and toned abs? I must be joking.

A: No I'm not joking. That's right I'm talking about having a nice Black Swan ballerina body like Natalie Portman or Jersey Shore parm grater.

Yes that's right, with my simple three step ab plan, you can get a job as a cheese boy in an Italian restaurant in no time. Just imagine being hailed to a table where you take of your shirt to shave a little Romano off of your stomach to brighten up a Caesar salad.

B: What abs like a ballerina or The Situation? That's crazy I bet you have to pay over a thousand dollars a week to pay for a personal trainer who makes you where a wet suit while walking on a treadmill.

A: No all you need is about five bucks and a place to go.

B: Five bucks and a place to go? Now I really don't believe you.

A: Just follow three easy steps and you can both get to a destination and get a great ab workout!

B: But How?

A: Step one: Live in Korea.

B: Hey I live in Korea.

A: Step two: Hail a cab.

B: Okay.

A: Step three: Ride in a cab.

B: Now I'm confused.

A: It's really not that confusing at all. You see, in 1975 the Korean government consolidated the ministry taxi driving with the office of national health and wellness. The combination lead to the development of a driving style called pulsating progression. The principle is simple really. The cab driver gives the passenger a fantastic ab workout by tailgating other cars and breaking as frequently as possible. Now it might seem senseless to the uninitiated as to why someone in their right mind would insist on following other cars at a distance of less than a quarter a car length, or why red lights need to be accelerated up to for a quick stop, but they fail to realize the health benefits.

B: Wow I never thought of that.

A: Yes, studies have shown that riding in a taxi flattens stomachs more effectively than eating ginseng candy and clapping your hands to the front and back while walking up mountains.

B: No!

A: Yes.

B: Could it be more effective than doing arm and hip rotations in the park?

A: Yes even more effective than wearing exercise clothes and walking backwards.

B: No way.

A: Way.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ads in General

Okay maybe I portrayed Korean advertising ability in less than favorable ways in the last post, but that reminded me of lessons that I have done where I have made kids make their own newspaper or magazine advertisement. The kids really kind of take to that because they get to draw pictures, and they come up with some pretty good ideas. Konglish and poor grammar are actually pretty good for advertising because they make stuff stand out in your mind.

There is an on line shopping mall called 11st. That's a pretty good idea to put the st after 11, you probably wouldn't notice the ad if it was 11nth. As an English teacher in Korea, the first gut reaction that you have when you see something like that is (in the voice of a valley girl) "Oh my god, why didn't they get a proof reader when they wrote that." Then cameras get taken out, and the pictures go up on h websites, and then blam you have a viral meme.

Superbowl Ads

It's the bizarre one week of school between vacations. I've been spreading American culture by having classes where I show superbowl ads. (Thank you U.S.A. Today for posting fifty Superbowl ads on your website.)

I have a football that I found at Homeplus last year. I toss the ball around and ask the kids how their vacation was.

Then I mention that the U.S.A. had an important holiday last week the way that Korea did with the Korean new year. Superbowl Sunday.

I tell the kids that thirty seconds of air time cost companies three million dollars or 35억. Then I show the ads.

I like watching T.V. in Korea because there aren't many commercials. When you don't watch commercials and then suddenly start watching them you realize how effective they are. I don't often drink sodas anymore.

I stopped drinking sodas after I started drinking beer. I get my caffeine from coffee, so I just skip out on the empty calories. But damnit all after seeing a few coke commercials, I really wanted some coke.

The same thing happened while watching the new Conan O'brien show on the internet. They used to play this diet coke commercial over and over again. I don't even like diet coke, but I felt like having some.

So anyway, I hope I did my patriotic duty for helping the American economy by exposing impressionable young minds to advanced marketing techniques. I showed some Doritos commercials that were pretty funny. I haven't seen real Doritos in Korea until just a few months ago. However, I did my part in explaining what Doritos were to the kids, and where they could get them. (Korea has the little "나쵸" snacks, and tucked under a bunch of other stuff at Home Plus are real cheese Cheetoes and real cheese Doritos for 4 thousand something won a bag.)

All and all, though, it was me who was suckered the most by the ads. This year they made me see the genius of writing behind advertising. These guys have thirty seconds to convey a message. They have thirty seconds to get an emotional response, and they do it very well. I got addicted to watching this one ad for Chrysler with Eminem. I don't want to buy a Chrysler, but I'm kind of interested in their cars now. More than anything, this commercial made me want to got to Detroit.

That's why I think that the Korea tourism people should get a few Don Drapers to help them out with their commercials. I mean watch this sparkling Korea commercial with Rain. He says, "Korea is Sparkling...................Just like Me."

Also says that Korea is inspiring, exciting, and there is a lot of fast cutting footage of kimchi and and people drumming. The feeling I got at the end of this commercial was hmm, Korea sparkles like that guy. Korea sparkles like a man who doesn't feel strange about saying that he himself sparkles. That's interesting.

But then watch this Chrysler commercial. It has a lot of of the same elements as the Korea sparkling commercial. It has pictures of s city scape. It has a famous person (Emienem) and it has people acting musically (a gospel choir) But for some reason this thing hits emotional nerves and makes you want to visit Detroit. Detroit of all places. Think of Seoul and Busan for a second. They are very nice and new cities. As you could see from the Korea sparkling video they have a bullet train with old men using cell phones, while Detroit has the old Michigan Central Depot, the gigantic twelve story abandoned train station. Yet after watching this Chrysler commercial I just want to say Fuck Yeah Detroit!

So to the Korea tourism board, give the Wieden+Kennedy ad agency a call. Hell it just makes sense. Hyundai and Kia don't turn to the Korea tourism board when they make commercials and they have expanded their market share in America. Probably thanks to stuff like this:

I imagine a Hyundai ad from the Korea tourism board might be a bit like this:

Scene 1 a voice over says the word "modern," pronouncing the "o" as a long o. And there is a shot of a guy looking at a micro chip(Hyundai means modern in Korean, but of course nobody is going to explain that.)
Scene 2. you can hear the wonder girls singing "Tell Me, and the scene is a time elapsed shot of Dongdae Moon with cars driving around it.
Scene 3. Standard car commercial stuff with a car driving on a mountain or something.
Scene 4. Somebody being surprised about Kimchi.
Scene 5. A person in their car talking on the phone, the person says "Tell Me," in time with the wondergirls. (For no reason) (Yes the person will be in their car talking on a cell phone, despite all car companies these days making cars with hands free systems. )
Scene 6. Some more car footage. The voice over says that there is ten years of after service.
Scene 7. Finally you can see a Korean flag and slogan is "Hyundai Tell Me Modern." That's the slogan, not because anybody thought deeply about it, it's just a mash up of what was in the commercial.

Actually, I think I should make that commercial myself and post it on youtube for Hyundai's North American marketing department.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dear Retarded Fuck

I don't fucking know you. You have called my phone five times. Each fucking time I have answered in English. I have hung up on you each time. One time I tried telling you in Korean that you made a mistaken phone call. You called me once from a Gyeongi Do phone code, then you tried your cell phone. Both times I picked up the phone, said "hello," and got a moronic dumb ass speaking Korean. While speaking to you in English, you still didn't get the point that you were talking to a stranger and that you couldn't understand me. I find it entertaining that there could be such a stupid person in the world. I will continue to take your calls until you realize that the person that you want to call probably has a different phone number. Each time you call, in the future, I will speak my mother tongue in the hopes that by some divine inspiration you will get the idea that you have somehow made a mistake, or that the person who gave you my phone number probably doesn't every want to speak to you....and I can't blame them. If I spoke Korean better and decided to pursue a friendship with you, I'm confident that I would be in better conversational company with a box of cheezits. With that, I wish you good luck in the future, because I know that it is a miracle that you have managed to survive all of these years without drowning in the shower. Good day.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Korean New Year

About twenty of us scaled the steep dirt cliff. It seemed improbably that anyone in their right mind would have cleared that path, or used that particular path to carry a body for burial. Our party had everybody, the young, the old, people in suits, and this year around there was a foreign observer.

The initial climb only took about fifteen or twenty minutes, but I had never been more happy to see a grave in my life. When we finally got to the top, candy was unwrapped and thrown around, alcohol was poured in offering and money was displayed. Then we all took two bows and headed back down the trail.

Little did I know that this ceremony would happen three more times. At the second grave, my father in law told me that his great grand father was buried there. The first grave could have been a great great grandfather or a great great great grandfather, I'm not sure because I don't speak Korean that well. We visited some others. We visited a grandmother who was about a kilometer down the road and about a half kilo up a mountain.

Not everybody in the party went to visit the grandmother. Many stayed at the base of the hill where somebody else was buried, I accompanied my father and brother in law to that one, there were also a couple other relatives there too. When we got back down, we greeted the person at the bottom of the hill, and then another person who rests about ten meters above.

The weather was warm and sunny, as it is about ninety percent of the time in Jinju. I enjoy visiting my wife's ancestral land. I think they can account for thirty generations of relatives who had lived there. The quaint and well kept rice fields can attest to their diligence in maintaining the land.

I've never visited the graves of my great grand parents, and I don't even know where my grandparents are buried, but now I'd like to know. I quite enjoyed the whole ordeal. In my mind I asked the dead to look after my unborn son. Maybe the ghosts can whisper inspiration into his ear sometime. I'd like to think that.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kitchen Nightmares

Sometimes I like to watch Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. The American version lead me to believe that American people are kind of stupid.

There have been nearly fifty episodes of this show and every week the show has been the same. There are some shots of some restaurant that's in debt. Chef Ramsey comes in, tastes the food, says it's terrible, watches the dinner service, people yell, Ramsey throws a new coat of paint on the place and tells them to make a smaller menu. At the end people cry. Every single episode the formula stays the same.

The British version followed the same formula, but he also showed people how to run a restaurant. My impression of the situation is that Fox thinks that people are too stupid to follow anything other than the raw emotions of anger and feel goodery.

I just watched an episode of the show where a couple ladies were a million dollars in debt. The show followed the formula and at the end everybody thought everything was going to be fine. I hate to break the news to everybody but you have make a million dollars to be broke!

Did Ramsey give these people any kind of business resources that teaches them how to run their businesses better? Did Ramsey give them any tips about how to update their menus periodically to keep the regulars interested? Did he teach them anything about marketing so that they can keep the chairs full? If he did, then why doesn't Fox tell that story? Why is it such blasphemy on television to try to educate a little bit?

Anyway watch my new videos that I posted under this post.

Park Bom, The Jinju Lantern Festival, and Me Doing Some Martial Arts

Okay so the last time I did a tribute to my Tae Kwon Do instructor, I left out another form he created called 42 basic motions. About once or twice a week I go down to the river side in Jinju to do some push ups and to practice Tae Kyon and Tae Kwon Do forms. Last week I filmed myself doing 42 basic motions as fast as I could. I also filmed myself doing a Karate form called Nihanche 3 as fast as I could.

The resulting footage made for only about forty seconds of film. That was too bad since I wanted to put Park Bom's You and I in the background. (The music will probably get taken out by youtube sooner or later.) So in editing I added some footage from the Jinju lantern festival, and for no reason at all footage of a water fall on Jiri mountain, and footage from the top of Cheong Hwa Bong on Jiri mountain. I've decided to call the resulting piece of video a trailer for a fake movie staring me and Park Bom.

The movie is about a river spirit - Park Bom. The river spirit is sick because of the pollution from the Shin Moorim paper factory. (As seen in the background.)

I play an eccentric guy who tries to fight against pollution...literally. When my modern martial arts of Tae Kwon Do fail to work I try the traditional Tae Kyon. A fire breathing dragon tells me that that won't work either. So I call on the spirit of my birth year animal... a chicken with a sword. He said that pollution can't be fought with martial arts.

In a last ditch attempt to save the river, I try to fight pollution with a Karate form, but then I give up to go watch fireworks. The end:

*Sorry that the idea for my fake movie borrows a lot from Spirited Away.