Monday, June 27, 2011

Mailbag 2

Dear Sir:

It was pretty much obvious that the previous post was a troll of some sort. Why did you respond to it? Also, why don't you write more about your experiences in the classroom?

Booger T. Batshitbottoms

Okay Mr. Booger. I'll do that. I'll also include the pictures and home addresses of all of the little ones whose lives I affect every day.

No seriously. Writing about experiences teaching English in Korea is boring. Writing about finding Doritoes at Homeplus is boring. Having the thousandth blog complaining about work is boring. Making blanket statements about Korea and Koreans is boring.

You know what is more interesting? Hot air balloon pirates and music bank. It's okay to bitch about K-pop and K-pop stars, and how fake they are, but they are doing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Much the same way that people who teach ESL expected their lives to work out.


I got this email from a reader:

Dude, why are you posting so many K-pop videos. I used to come to this site to learn about exciting places to eat in Jinju's Geumsan Myeon. I have been to the Kimbab house like fifty times since you mentioned it the first time. I also drank like three hundred cappuccinos from Ring Pang Donuts. I totally filled up enough punch cards to fill up my cupboard with Ring Pang Donuts cups.

I also love the Lotteria in Geumsan. They should rename Geumsan to Milf Island.

I hope you have a nice summer
Jazzy K. Jones esquire
Hot Air Balloon Pirate.

Well Jazzy, I'm glad that you have taken an interest in my blog, and thank you for taking me up on my Geumsan eatery recommendations. Let me explain to you how it is a few months after you have a kid.

You don't do anything, you stay home and watch T.V. In my case I watch hours and hours of Music Bank, Music Core, and Inkigayo.

Secondly I have to take issue with your choice of career. I have lost about three hot air balloons to pirates in life time. My current balloon has lasted for five years, and that is only because I have been able to best the many intruders through swashbuckling.

Jazzy, I hope that I don't have to ever cross swords with you.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How K-pop Boy and Girl Groups are Pushing the Genre of Boy and Girl Groups

Okay back in the day there was Menudo, then there was New Kids on the Block. That was the early era of boy bands. In the late nineties I got really pissed off the first time I saw the "Backstreet Boys." I have poor vision and and I thought that the MTV2 music video said "Beastie Boys."

I was like hell yeah Sabatoge 2 mother fuckers, but to a tenth grader the Backstreet Boys turned out to be like the corniest shit ever.

Fast forward to 2004. I lived in a dormitory with some Korean high school kids for five weeks. I had a hard time believing that they were serious when they asked me if I liked the Backstreet boys.

Fast forward again 2007. I tried to teach some middle school delinquents some English, but they would act...well like delinquents, and then when called out they would say "So sorry." This was all thanks to the Big Bang song about being so sorry about loving someone and then it was all a lie.

Well those snot nosed punks in Big Bang are now super mega famous along with Girls Generation. Girls Generation doesn't really have that much talent but if you get nine hot girls to assemble in any place, you sure can sell the shit out of anything from cell phones, gasoline, nasty chicken, and even dominoes pizza.

Then you have the Wonder Girls who really suck. Park Jin Young tried to pimp the shit out of these girls in America just for the sake of having a Korean band make it big in a big market like America, only to make it to a 70s position on the billboard charts and then get forgotten about in Korea.

Where did the Wonder Girls go? Who the fuck cares? They suck? If a girl band is going to make it big in the states it would probably be 2 ne 1. I'm not a big fan of Korean rapping since, Korean rappers rarely rhyme, and when they do it is usually with a word that they already said. Korean rappers are usually about as talented as the black guy in Rebecca Black's, "Friday." However, C.L. from 2 ne 1 has some talent. She also has tude. You need some swag to be taken seriously as a rapper in America, you can't always be like an emo Eminem.

In the English version of the song "Can't Nobody," C.L. says something about being Asian and taking over. I don't think that would hold true for many Asians, but I think that 2 ne 1 could at least have a hit song in the states, or at least be a one hit wonder. The wonder not.

In the domestic market though, the progression of boy and girl bands is kind of interesting.

These days there are girl bands out there who are doing some weird shit. Take Sunny Hill for example. They released a "goth" girl band song. Check out this video, it is pretty fucking weird.

It's like leather marionettes meet twin peaks. The song is pretty annoying but it is pushing the art in a different direction.

Another example of this is the creepy eyes wide shut stuff going on with Raina's Masquerade. Someone give these girls a cold shower please.

But, don't really find that much wrong with this. They can sing okay. What does offend me is the direction that "Secret," has taken. Secret came out last year with "Magic," and "Modonna." Both of those song were pretty high energy and they showcased some real talent for singing and dancing.

But now the Secret girls are back. They decided to become a 1950's doo wop band with, "Shy Boy," and then they decided to make them selves look like total retards with "Starlight, and Moonlight."

Starlight moonlight doesn't seem like a cutesy dootsey love song, it seems like a bunch of pretty girls pretending to be nice and then trying to do everything they can to keep people out of their country club. Kind of like the plot to High School Musical 2.

I've spent too much time on Girl Bands. I should mention some boy bands. I would love to be the lead singer of F.T. Island. That guy probably has a bunch of kids that he doesn't know about. F.T. Island is also a band that has consistently been a kind of dark horse. Also they seem to actually play their instruments.

Also Shinee is pretty good. Compare Kpop boy bands to like the backstreet boys. Just look youtube some bsb videos and compare the dancing. They backstreet boys look like they would hurt themselves if they tried some of the dance moves that shinee does.

Back the girl artists.

Jang Jae In. She was on "Korea Idol," or whatever the hell that show was called. She was kind of billed as an indy singer, because she wore petuli and sat on the ground while playing the guitar. What evs. Her toy soldiers song is annoying. Dear Fiona Apple, Cat Power, and Tori Amos, your shit is safe your jobs won't be outsourced to Korea.

Dear people who try to sell stuff by saying that it is "indie." Sometimes there are reasons why record labels don't go ape shit over hippies with guitars.

There are many good Korean indie artists though. Check out Gukasten, their shit is tight. So is Moomba trap. Also go back in time. Kim Choo Ja is pretty sweet.

I'm out.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

After School, and Why my Son is Awsome

My wife and I like to imagine that our one month old son is a fan of the K-pop band After School. Brian in Jeollanamdo has often described After School as being the Korean Pussy Cat dolls. If you look at their entire song catalog, nothing could be further from the truth.

My son has recently taken to smiling. He does little smiles every once and a while, but Friday my wife was telling me about how she was watching music bank, and how he was kind of calm during After School's performance.

I started ribbing the small boy about how he missed the good old days when the song "Ah," came out and and how the After School girls were kind of slutty back then. When I said "slutty," he opened his mouth and did the biggest smile. Now I already thought highly of the kid before then, but now I can say that my son is pretty cool. He smiled at the word "slutty."

Now I don't mean to call the After School girls a gang of sluts. I think they are pretty good dancers, and their first song "Ah," was pretty exciting. The music video had the girls attempt a gang bang on their teacher. Not that gang banging is cool, but the video was kind of funny and edgy.

These days though, After School is all emo. Their newest song, "Shampoo," is about how love can be like getting shampoo in your eyes. The video is also kind of weird too. A girl walks into a dance studio. She falls down a lot when she spins around, and then she is finally accepted too the pack when she dyes her hair blonde. As a blonde man, I could have just walked into the studio and owned the audition damn.

The beats don't even make you nod your head. This song feels like it is some kind of hippie dance performance. Anyway, enjoy:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Power of Loci

Last week was the last week of adult education classes that I had through my university. The subject for the last week of classes was based on an article that I read in the New York Times magazine called "Secrets of a Mind Gamer." The article is an excerpt from Joshua Foer's book called Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.

The article describes a memory technique called "The Method of Loci" The Method of Loci uses spatial associations to help memorize things like lists of words, people's names, or lists of numbers. You can visualize a room or your route to work and put the things that you want to memorize in the locations of things on the route.

I asked my students to give me a list of Korean words to memorize as I gave them my own list of words for them to memorize. None of them did the homework, but I was successful in memorizing the list of words that they gave me.

On my bike ride home I took the list of words and associated the words with buildings and things on my route home. I was able to memorize a list of 21 Korean words in about 15 minutes...or the time it takes for me to ride my bike home. I found that the method worked quite well.

I plan to use this to memorize Korean songs to help me study Korean. I figure if I remember a song by associating things line by line I might be able to memorize songs for singing in the 노래방. I figure that if I have a good song library I can impress Korean strangers that I might find myself in a 노래방 with. My first song will be 이승기's 내여자란니까.

This song haunted me the first time I came to Korea.

It was the summer of 2004. I found myself living in a high school dormitory for an elite Tae Kwon Do team. These kids lived at their high school. They woke up at six, ran around for an hour and a half, went to class, then in the afternoon they would kick the air as fast as they could for two hours. Later in the evening, they would have night training for an hour and a half. I trained with them for about five weeks when I was 23 years old. I had a hard time walking when I wasn't training with them.

At that time 이승기 was just becoming popular. The male students loved him. 내여자란니까 is a love song about a boy who falls in love with an older woman. I think that the song exemplifies everything K-pop. In addition to being a power ballad, the video is both cheesy and violent as Lee Seung Gi falls in love with an older girl who works in a 다방. His friends make fun of him, and the girl is strong enough to fight them off. When he goes to the 다방 to help his 누나 out; gangsters kick the shit out of him.

This is the song that I'm going to memorize:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Outback vs. Top Mart

When I was in college, I had some stupid room mates. I used to live in a house with 7 other people. I brought a gas grill. On that grill I would occasionally make things like steaks, burgers, or beer can chickens.

Two guys I lived with were convinced that making steak on a grill was some kind of refined skill. It isn't, you get some good meat, turn on the grill, set the meat on the grill, wait, turn it over, wait, eat, it is the easiest fucking meal to make.

Steaks in Korea are not cheap. Korean beef is pretty expensive, while imported cuts of beef that are good for steaks can be pretty hard to find. In Jinju, I found a place that sells, or sold American black Angus beef from Montana. This shit costs the same as the Korean stuff. For an occasional steak, biting the bullet and buying Korean beef isn't a terrible idea. A Korean tenderloin steak is actually like eating a nice plate of orgasms.

In Jinju, there are a couple of family style steakhouses, VIPs and Outback. I had a steak at VIPs once...Eh. I like to go to those places for their ribs. I can't really make ribs like that. If I could I'd just buy the meat. But these days Top Mart also sells those ribs for about 5000 won. Outback sells them for 33,000 won. Both Outback and VIPs sell steaks for as high as 50,000-70,000 won per meal.

Challenge: Go to top mart with 50,000 won. Buy an uncut Korean tenderloin 안심 with that much money and then cut it into steaks yourself. You can probably get about seven small steaks out of that. Make some mashed potatoes. Grill the steak if you have a grill. If you don't have a grill, fry it in butter. When the steak is cooked, take some minced onion and fry them in the steak's juices. Deglaze the pan with some white wine, and add some butter to make an onion wine sauce that you can serve on the steak. Take that Outback.

On Health Food

I have a rather neutral position when it comes to Koreans talking about how healthy Korean food is. I'll agree that Korean food is healthy. Kimchi is a healthy thing to eat. It won't make you immortal or somehow make you impervious to all sicknesses, but eating a few bites of Kimchi is probably better for you than eating a bag of cheetoes. Also when I compare my diet prior to coming to Korea, with an all Korean food diet prepared by my mother in law, I'd have to say that the later is probably a better bet for living past the age of sixty.

What I think is funny, though, is how Korean marketers market unhealthy food as being healthy. Take Don Ggass, for example. There is a Don Ggass delivery place near my house that calls its self "Well Being," food. A deep fried pork chop is not well being food. The only thing healthy about a don ggass meal the little cabbage salad that you get with it. Korean Don Ggass is probably a little bit healthier than it's American counter part - the country fried steak with sausage gravy, eggs, and hash browns - but taking breaded pork and dipping it in hot grease isn't a good preventative measure against a triple bypass.

My meal tonight though really took the cake. In the South Gyeongsang region of Korea, there is a wonderful chain of small grocery stores called Top Mart. Top Mart doesn't have all of the great imported things like E-mart or Homeplus, but they do have some nice vegetables and meats, that consistently beat the prices of E-mart and Homeplus by about ten to twenty percent. These days top mart has also been selling hot food items like baby back ribs, tang soo yook, or bits of sushi. (I had the ribs, they tasted about the same as outback ribs for only 5000 won.)

Recently, Top Mart started selling gigantic pizzas for 11,900 won. These pizzas are freaking huge 48 cm wide. The box was about two feet across. Another striking detail about he box was a drawing of a thin and sexy woman wearing hot pants. The message on the box said something to the extent that because some of the pizza dough incorporated 100% Korean rice, the pizza was actually healthy and could contribute to your "S" line....uh no.

Fact, eating a 2 foot in diameter pizza will not make you healthy. It will make you full. It might make you tired, the way that exercise makes you tired, but make no mistake, eating a two foot pizza is no replacement for exercise.

The last time I went to pizza hut, I puked because of pizza hut pizza grease. I also have exercise induced asthma. Sometimes if I run too fast, I puke. That doesn't mean that running is bad for me, but it also doesn't mean that pizza is good for me. Just remember that.