Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Taxi Talk

I don't what it is with the taxi drivers here, but their line of questioning usually starts with asking me where I'm from, am I an English teacher, and do I live alone. When they hear I've only got a cat for companionship, they ask me if I've got a boyfriend.

"No? Why not? You're very pretty!"

My responses vary from a curt, "Ah, thank you." to "No I'm not. I'm a scary monster."
Bolder cabbies will then offer to be my boyfriend, and so I ask them how many babies they have at home.

"None? Why not? You're very married!"

The ballsy cab driver who chauffeured me tonight was so busy making googly eyes at me in his rear-view mirror that he wasn't paying attention when we rounded a corner and I had to point ahead of us and say, "Whoa! Whoa! STOP!"

A pretty woman with a big bouquet of flowers in one hand and a cake box in the other very nearly ended up as a hood ornament. Seriously, she jumped back with a look of terror on her face, and if she hadn't leapt in time we would have absolutely hit her. That would have been a crappy birthday present.

I've got to learn how to say "I've got a big huge boyfriend who would happily rip your head off for even asking me if I was single so eyes on the road, pal" in Korean.

Monday, December 29, 2008

And So That Was Christmas

And what had I done?

Well, not too much really.
Usually Christmas is a fairly tumultuous time in my head. I miss my friends and family back home in a way that makes me ache. I mean, I miss them all the time - but it's not nearly as bad as it tends to get around the holiday season. And I felt that familiar pain at times this past Christmas; I did. But, it was so brief and fleeting that it barely registered. Overall I didn't give a rat's ass that it was Christmas. To me, it just felt like a Thursday. (Although really it felt like a Saturday which pleased me to no end because I kept remembering that Saturday was two days away.) I love holidays. Not "the holidays" as they're known back home - but I love not having to go to work.

We started off the "holidays" by having "Market Day" at school on Wednesday. When I first started, we held Market Day every three months. I always looked forward to it, and the kids LOVED it! Over the past couple years our Market Days have occurred with less and less frequency, and so this past Wednesday's was the first one we'd had since the beginning of MAY! It was so "meh." I showed up late because no one bothered to tell me to come in early and I didn't even think about it. I wasn't assigned a job, and so I basically pretended to be your average Korean employee and tried to make it look like I was busy.

That's a lie. I half-heartedly pretended. I couldn't muster enough care to give a shit, really. I know I complained about my co-workers laziness at the Halloween Party, but I've jumped wholly into that Pool of Laziness it seems. Oh. I rented the movies that we played on the big screen in the TV room. Not too many kids watched anything, but I thought Kung Fu Panda was pretty cute.

Anyhow, my former boss Karen came for the day and I enjoyed seeing her. I miss her. I do really like my new boss, though - so I'm not complaining. I was wary of the new guy when I first met him because, well, that's the nature of this beast. But I've grown to like him the most and I feel almost protective of him. I want him to do well so I ramp up my enthusiasm on most days. Except Market Day.

We finished early on Christmas Eve and headed out to my boss's favourite down-scale "gogi-jip" where we ate so-so pork and even more so-so baby squid stir-fry. However, their kimchi (hand made by the owner's mom) is delicious. There is no better kimchi than that made by someone's mother. In fact, my boss gave me a massive amount of his mother's kimchi today. She's got to be over 70 years old. I can smell it through the container and I know it's going to be goooood. It will probably last me all winter. Num.

Ee-cha (2nd stop) Xmas Eve was my boss's favourite "hoff" (bar) where he got us a cake. Wheeeee!
Those big red balls on the top are tomatoes!

Sam-cha was the noraebang.
Sa-cha was just my co-worker and I visiting a foreigner bar downtown. We met up with other people. It was fun. I've got a fledgling relationship happening. Maybe. Perhaps. It's been a slow three year build, but I'm still not all in. But these beginnings of maybes and perhaps can be sort of thrilling, can't they?

Most of Christmas Day was spent cocooned with the cat. I managed to call my brother's house just as they were all starting to open their presents. I missed them with that ache until I was told they were too busy to talk to me, and so I cocooned some more.

I showed up to a feast on Christmas night at my friend's restaurant. Join me now in remembering the deliciousness.
First course was a whole lotta beef.
Sorry for the ratty picture, but trust me - this is some yummy meat. It's like a seriously fine steak sliced up and grilled for just a couple minutes. you can dip it ever so slightly into the wee bowl of salt and pepper mix and pop it in your mouth, or create a bundle of meat, wasabi-onion, red bean paste, garlic, and kimchi wrapped in lettuce and sesame leaf and CHOMP.

Second course was fish.
Thems raw fishes.

Have a closer look.
Dip it in a spicy red sauce and eat it up! Or make a bundle. Whatever you like.

This came next.
I really don't remember what this was.
Did I mention there was a lot of free-flowing beer and soju? Yah. Lots of "gumbaes!" (Cheers!) Still, I remember asking what this was and I remember thinking "nooooo thanks" so I didn't taste it. Looking at the photo,....I don't know. Tongue? Penis? I'll ask my friend and update. **UPDATE** it was squid intestines. So my drunken "No WAY" was reasonable. And lookng at my photos in retrospect I was sure this was deep fried, but my friend swears it was just boiled. So, double ewww.

Third course. Yuuuuummmmm.
King crab, baby! There were three of these gigantic trays. Enough to fill all the spaces in your already quite full tummy.

Strangely, no one seemed to like the claws, saying they were "too much trouble." Puh-lease!" And just so you know, whereas most Westerners might stick to the legs and claws, my Korean pals ate everything, pretty much, of these crabs. Crack open the bodies and slurp everything out!

And to end off there was some cake. Cake bookends to this post.

I was supposed to work Friday, but I took the day as a holiday and spent the next three days in near hibernation. I liked it.

Meanwhile back home my mother bought my niece ice-skates for Christmas and they all went skating on Boxing Day. My mom fell down and broke her arm. It had been snowing in Toronto for days, and just after Christmas it warmed up and started raining. The ER doctors said they'd spent the whole day mending broken bones from people falling on the ice. It was the first time my mom has broken anything. Record over. I've never broken a bone either, despite having smashed myself up good numerous times. At least I survived Christmas intact.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I can't believe I've just recently tuned into "Brian in Jeollanam-do." Now THERE'S a good blog. Go now. Run away from here before something judges you. Oh whoops! Too late.
Big Fat Green Santa-Rabbit Thing Judges You!
You're slow. You could have been halfway through Brian's most recent post already.

Mostly though, Big Fat Green Santa-Rabbit Thing judges me because I haven't (nearly) finished my Christmas cards. Christmas is two days away and I have never cared less. Santa-Rabbit Thing judges me to be absolutely "bah-humbuggish." Just after I snapped Santa-Rabbit Thing's picture he screamed "YOU SUCK!" and gave me the finger. Hmph.

I told him his blue garbage bag belt sucks, but he did that "talk to my hand" thing, so I just went home to not finish my Christmas cards some more.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Has anyone else noticed that The Iceberg and John's Long Time Gone have disappeared? I could link to them in this query, but it just takes you to an error page. (Links are on the sidebar if you think I'm lying.) Where oh where have they gone?

**Update - Okay! Happily, John seems to be back!
**Double Update - Alrighty! Ice Ice Baby's back, too! (And he and his wife are going to have a little baby icecube!) Congrats!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's THAT Time of Year, Too.

Oh yah. Time for the ills. I started feeling not so great on Sunday, and by 5 o'clock Tuesday I was sort of wishing that someone would come along with a mallet and pound me unconscious. So I took myself to see the doctor, and guess what he told me? (Guess what he told me?)

Well, he didn't tell me anything, really. He said, "medicine - three day and injection." Did you know that "ass injection" is by far the highest googled term that leads people to visit this site? That, and if you google images for "fear face." I'm so pretty. So I shouldn't encourage the whole ass injection searching, so I won't say anymore except to say I got an injection today.

In my ass.

Lemme tell you, I do not know what the six little pills in perforated plastic houses to be taken three times a day ARE, but I can tell you they rock. I certainly don't feel GOOD, but I'm not feeling like I'd rather be euthanized. I sort of feel like I'm wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of doziness. I keep nodding off. Sweet magic little fuzzy pills, I like 'em.

You know what I don't like? These big stupid machines:
They're busy wood-chipping the lovely forest outside my window. They start up at eight in the morning. They need some perforated doses of "SHUT UP!"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

That Time of Year

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Well, it's not really, but the bakery that's kitty-corner to my school has a life sized Santa standing outside their place. St. Nick has a saxophone and every few minutes he starts to dance. Even at my age, it creeps me out. I'm fairly certain if I was a little kid it would traumatize me.

I'm sort of late, but I'm trying to get my Christmas cards out in the next couple days. Please, if you'd like a pretty card - send me your snail mail address!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


As noted in this Yahoo News article, the big bad full moon that happened last night here (or is just happening now if you're on the east coast of North America) was/will be the largest one of the year! The moon is currently 17,295 miles closer to us than its average distance! You can almost reach up and grab a handful of it to munch on!

See? It's just about the same size as the lamp attached to the bakery on the right hand side of my picture!
It was a good night to get werewolfy! Owwwwooooohhhhh!

Just After Sunset


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kevin's Pizza

My pal Kevin wrote up a little post the other day about a little pizza which got me thinking. For the first time ever in Korea, I actually had pita! My friend wanted to order some things to make Mexican food, and so I was browsing around the Internet with her. We settled on "Taco House" which offers a variety of food you won't find at your average supermarket here. The site's all in Korean, but have a look around if you're interested.

Kevin's pizza inspired me, and go figure - I had all of the ingredients on hand except for the feta cheese. So, pizza I did making. I don't have an oven, but I've got a little grilly cubbyhole thingie underneath my three burner gas stovetop. It cooks things fast, even with just the top element on its lowest setting, hence the too well-done "crust."
I only had small sized pita, and I forgot the olives, but it was delicious anyhow.
Thanks, Kevin!

Exchange Woes

I mentioned before how much the exchange rate sucks. Blech.

You know what's really making me sad regarding the piss poor value of the won against the US dollar? The price of books. Just a few months ago I was enjoying buying books from my beloved What the Book? at pretty much an even dollar to won rate. Their prices are in US dollars and converted to Korean currency. I don't know where they're getting their numbers from, but the $16.00 book I decided I needed yesterday is now a full 4,000won more than it was listed at this morning. (The US price always remains the same.) I guess I'm just going to have to keep checking their site every few hours and jump on a book when the price seems lower.

That SUCKS!!!!
If anyone wants to get me a Christmas present,....


Sometimes I discover I've forgotten about a particular food from back home. Radishes, small and red and zingy. Num. They remind me of my grandfather, who used to pile a tiny hill of salt on the table and dip green onions and radishes in there throughout dinner. I hadn't given them a thought for years. My memory was stirred when I encountered western radishes for the first time the other day. I wanted them, but there's no way I was going to pay over a dollar each for these two little babies.

And there was no way I was going to pay anything for these bad boys, either.

Strawberry pogos!

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Crocodile on my Head Judges You.

He still remembers when rock was young, but he says neither you nor Suzie are very much fun anymore.
In fact, he'd quite like to death-roll you. So you guys had better watch out.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Well, the opening of the "new" school was not as triumphant as I'd hoped. I was sort of lookng forward to grandiose bouquets of flowers and maybe some noisy dancing girls, but it wasn't like that. I offered to do a pom-pom dance outside on the street, but my co-workers just laughed at me.

I was actually excited to have the opportunity to be working with new texts and what I hoped was going to be a new teaching philosophy - or something, but it's not working out so well.

I still haven't figured out exactly what the big idea was, but we're only using FOUR different texts out of the, I don't know, FIFTY or so that are available within our new melange of books. These new textbooks are meant to be finished within a month, which is fine by me. With our old books, we'd take three months to get through which was fine as well. I've spent so much time using them I;ve got my lesson plans sorted, pretty much. I've got a couple middle school classes who are taking six months to complete their texts, (we're using Get Together 3) which is challenging for them. About halfway through the fifth month I'm so totally sick of it, and the students seem to feel the same way. So a new textbook every month is cool. Previously, we were using eleven different texts for thirteen classes. Now, other than the middle schoolers, we're using FOUR.

I've been told it's some kind of transitionary thing where they're hoping to combine classes so two of our four bodies don't actually have to teach any classes. It's not a terrible idea to try to streamline everything, but the reason we were using different books (my franchise's publication (total "Let's Go!" ripoff) and "English Time") was because our students varied in their level of English ability. Now we're using one book for the wee kindergarten class, and the next level up for the 1st graders, and the remaining students have been shoved into the remaining two text's categories, Low 1 and Beginner 2.

It almost seems like the Einstein who planned all this WANTS the mothers to call in and complain and then yank their children. On Monday we had a record breaking SIX students drop out. So much for glorious grand openings. I've got siblings in 6 o'clock and 7 o'clock classes who were previously nine months apart, textbook wise, and now they're studying the same book! I'm embarrassed about it, and feel like apologizing everytime I tell the kids to pull their books out. Whereas I've been consulted over the last many years when it comes to picking a new textbook, I had NO input in what's going on. It saddens me that there's no consideration for the progress my students have made, some of these kids have been with us for YEARS, and it seems we've stopped caring about them. If I were one of the kid's mothers, I would have pulled them out so fast,...so I'm not surprised we're approaching critical numbers. If we keep bleeding students, something's got to give - and I wonder if the axe might fall upon moi. Technically, my new franchise isn't even set up to have a foreign teacher. Most of the existing franchises don't. Perhaps I'll be the most expendable, which honestly wouldn't be horrible news - except it means I'll have to find another job and sign a new year's worth of contract. I was hoping to wrap Korea up in the summer and get back to Canada to enjoy my nieces growing up. Granted, everything's up in the air because the exchange rate is currently raping my savings.

Nothing's simple.

Meanwhile my boss has taken over the failed Music School next door and is remodelling it as a Math Academy. I met the new math teacher a couple days ago. She doesn't speak English and (forgive me) she looks like a witch. Not that she's not a pleasant enough person - have no idea. Literally, she looks like a witch. All that's missing is a cackle and a pointy hat. The Math School currently has five students starting next week. My boss is trying to go big,...but he might have a big BUST coming his way. One of the classrooms in the Math School is going to be styled for grown-ups and I'm going to have to start teaching adults the week after next. I haven't taught adults since I worked in Japan ages ago. They're going to be absolute beginners, so it's going to be a challenge. Truth be told, I'd rather not bother. It means me working late three nights a week. Blah.

Demolishing ensues on the music school.

Die, Music School,...DIE!

This apple is demolishing itself.
I walk to school while that apple gently weeps.

Speaking of weeping, that's all I wanted to do as I stepped into my last class of the week. I felt like a balloon that's had a slow leak and was finally just about deflated. Demoralized. Defeated. Deconstructed.

Luckily, I've got a weekend in front of me to decompress.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekend Update

So tomorrow should be interesting. I'm going to be working for a new franchise. I've been going over the new materials I'll be using in class, and it all seems pretty solid. We've already had a couple parents call in to complain about the new school, and I think my co-workers are doing a good job at assuring everyone that everything's going to be alllllright. We shall see, but I hope so.

I met my old manager Jane on Friday night and that went well. Grudges schmudges, I can't be bothered with them. It was good to see her and I had a fun night out. I was concerned with Jane's friend who came along. She was very stylish but absolutely skeletal. It wasn't hard to notice that she stuck closer to her shot glass and smokes than the chopsticks, and after a short while she was absolutely smashed. I thought as much, because she kept talking and talking, though no one seemed to be engaged in conversation with her. But then she got up off her stool and crashed to the floor. My co-worker helped her toward the loo and for the rest of the night one of us was in charge of holding her upright. Back in Canada this woman would be totally cut off by the bartender, but here,...well, not so much. She was having a good time and for the most part was aware of what was going on around her. She wasn't belligerent or weepy, and other than being unable to stay vertical she was ok. During one of my turns propping her up gravity got the better of the both of us and I've got a massive bruise on my shin as a result. She sat beside me at the noraebang and I spent most of the time with my arms out, trying to shield her from the dangerous shifting table and tilty floor. At least that's the way things surely were in her world. Still, she managed to elude my grabby arms a few times and she must have woken up completely black and blue on Saturday.

Still, it was an interesting night.

Apologies for lack of posting. I got a short list of sad news from back home this past week and haven't felt so, uh, blogivated.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday Stuff

One thing about living in a little town is I can often easily tell when something's going on 'round here. The sound travels through the air and bounces around off the mountains before wafting in through my screen door. Something was happening today at the bandshell in the centre of town. I don't quite know what it was, but for sure there were some people shouting through the echoey boombastic sound system, and that was interrupted by samplings of Wonder Girls and Big Bang. If I were to guess, I'd say that perhaps there was a Dance-Taekwondo demonstration going on. Something like that. I don't know because my curiosity wasn't even close to being great enough to drag me from the happy place I'd created in my mind whilst snuggling Mister Kamikaze and watching "The Weather Man" on TV.
Mister Big-Face.

When the things-going-on at the Bandshell concluded, they had a spectacular five minute or so long fireworks extravaganza. I took some shaky pictures from my balcony.
Bada Boom

Bada Bing


This upcoming week should be interesting. It's the last week I'm going to be working at my school!

Noooooo - I'm not leaving. But my school is leaving. My new boss has given up on our franchise association. In it's heyday it was very popular, but it's been sliding downhill for the last few years. There used to be eight franchises in the city, but after we close there will be only one left standing. We're joining in a new, and hopefully up-and-coming franchise and we're incorporating new texts and a whole new program. So far I'm completely in the dark about what it's going to mean for me. I haven't yet looked at the material I'm supposed to start teaching coming the beginning of December. So I anticipate being busy for the next little while.

There are some other disturbances in the work world here as well. My lazy co-worker doesn't want to teach any classes and instead wants to take up the managerial position she was promised when she was hired. Fair enough, I suppose. Thing is, the amount of students and managerial duties required at our school needed doesn't warrant a full time manager, so she'd end up spending most of the day surfing the net or using the extra time to increase her frequency of "Oh! I'm COLD!" complaints (though I can't see how that's possible unless she starts answering the phone with "Anyonghaseyo, Yongo hagwon emneeda, ah choowayo! Jinja choowa!") Everything she does - from working to sleeping to eating a cookie - is just a stop-gap between the hours she can spend at church anyways. However, her desire to do little to nothing for her paycheque is creating some bad feelings amongst my boss and co-workers. Three of us wish she'd just shaddup and work hard already.

In other news, my boss and other co-worker are losing their shirts in the stock market and aren't too pleased about that. Seriously. Most of their savings have gone down the toilet in the past few weeks. My boss is now trying to sell his recently purchased apartment and has a marital separation looming in the near future. Still, you might not know this if you were to visit the staff-room. So far everyone seems to be pulling through and slapping a smile on, which pleases me.

And for some reason, Jane - my former manager that I haven't spoken to in almost a year now called me out of the blue today. She made a lame joke about standing me up at Christmas last year, and then talked about meeting up next month sometime. Perhaps she wants to make the Christmas stand-me-up a yearly event!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bok Bok Moo Feast

Recently I had a feast with a bunch of fools friends. I had brought back some packages of Mesquite Marinade from Canada and decided to prepare some meat for my pals who own a BBQ restaurant here in town. So we headed to the open market on a sunny Saturday afternoon and I bought a couple chickens to add to my stash of ten breasts I'd already bought the day before, and a mess of samgyeopsal. I was going to feed about fourteen people. I also picked up a load of fresh vegetables, dirt cheap. I love the markets here, though if you go to the ones in smaller towns like mine, you're bound to get a lot of stares from the vendors. If you smile, though, you're bound to get a smile back.
Under the umbrellas ellas ellas.

Mmmmmm. Garlic!


I didn't have the balls to take a photo of the adjumma sitting on a platform, sleeping with her head on a stool, proped over bowls of hairless chopped up dogs she had for sale. I was getting some stink-eye from the neighbouring vendors for showing a bit too much interest in her stall. Next time I'll be more stealth in my secret undercover picture taking!

I came back to my apartment and hacked the chicken up into pieces, mixed up a big batch of marinade and dumped all the meat into various big zip-lock bags and containers.
Mmmmmmm. Marination.

Later, I got to vegetable chopping to prepare this "Oriental Coleslaw" recipe that I'd found online.
It turned out pretty well and there was loads of it, (another giant container as well as this big-ass bowl) so my friends ended up serving it as panchan to their customers the following day.

The staff arranged a variety of other panchan and sauces to accompany the mesquite-meat-feast.
See the ddoek? (Logs of rice cake.) That stuff is so yummy on a grill!

And so we got to BBQing!

Mmmmmm, chicken!

My friends really enjoyed the smokey flavours and it was a different take from the regular sweet-bulgogi or spicy yangyam style flavours. Yummy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Need to Jump Back in the Blool.

Well, the weather finally turned and today's temperatures required a winter coat. I like it. Tonight's temperatures mean mittens and a scarf even. Bring it. Last I checked, there was a 30% chance that we may even have some snow tomorrow night which almost never happens here. I'd like for it to just blizzard once this winter. I'd love to have a snow day. I haven't had one in about a decade or so.

I haven't felt terribly bloggy these days. Have you noticed? If I don't just dive the hell back in, this month's blog tally is going to be pitiful. So here's something that I was thinking about today.

While I was in Canada this past summer I got scolded at mealtime on more than one occasion. My gaffe was to serve myself up some food with the utensil that I had been using to eat with. *Gasp!* This gesture was something that I didn't even think about, so when I heard "Hey!" I didn't know what I was being yelled at for. I remembered all of that last night while I was sitting around a table with seven Koreans eating out of two big pots of delicious kimchi jjigae. The various bowls of panchan were all communal as well, and it was pretty common for our chopsticks and spoons to have traffic collisions. I can't even remember anymore if the spit swapping via utensils freaked me out when I first came here. it's probably not the best means of keeping oneself from catching a cold, but ah well. There is one cup at the water machine at my school and all the kids drink out of it everyday. I think the idea might be that you pour the water to your open mouth without actually placing your lips upon it, but I know for sure the kids haven't been taught this yet. So I wonder if my family would be freaked out having a meal over here.

A couple weeks ago I was sitting on a rock listening to some tunes and enjoying the afternoon sun. This grandmother was walking toward me and as she got close I smiled at her and she smiled back with a mouthful of gold teeth. I watched her as she passed by and it was only when she was a good distance away that I keyed into the fact she was carrying a massive red plastic basin on her head. I smiled and shook my head. This was definitely something I would have noticed first off years ago, my brain would have been "Wow, man - that's a big thing she's balancing on her head. I could never balance that on my head. I wonder what's in that thing on her head. Is it heavy? If I run up and tickle her, will she drop it?" But now I'm apparently not even registering the existence of strange big things on little grandmas' heads. I may be assimilating. I might be Borg.

But, not quite.
Sometimes I feel like I'm living in In-Between Land. I couldn't stop myself from acting different back in Canada. I caught myself smothering "anyong haseyos" on the way out of stores, and my friends teased me because my Canadian "eh's" have been replaced by Korean "uh's," (which take the place of "mmm's" and "mmm-hmmms" we use to let the speaker know we're following what they're saying.) I tossed my basket of whatever up on the conveyor belt at a couple stores and was served up with a nice "wtf?" look from the cashiers. I'd totally forgotten that the customer unloads their goods back home.

It's the little things that creep out unconsciously that I find pretty interesting. Or maybe it's just all the cold medication I've ingested. Damned communal cups.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Half a Month Ago

It was Halloween.

I was a cat.

I've been a cat for the last five years running. Bah.

I was going to write all about the Halloween party at school but I've lost my motivation in the meantime, so I'll summarize. My co-workers are pretty lazy. Half the activities I'd organized didn't get done. Whatever. Mid-day, kids were roaming around with nothing much to do except join the long line that was waiting for me to paint them. I sat down at 3 o'clock to do some face painting and I didn't, for the most part, stand back up until about 8:30pm. At one point I got up briefly to go into the Teacher's Room where my co-workers had been gathered for over half an hour to scold them to "get back to work already!" Ha!

My boss had decided to show a Halloween movie, and so I rented Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride," but the students had a hard time following it because we couldn't get the Korean subtitles going as the remote for the DVD player was missing. So that was a bust.

I didn't have any time to take pictures, really. These little taekwondo boys were my last customers of the day.
Up and coming wrestlers: El Gato Black-Belto and Le Tigre Féroce avec le Ceinture Rose.

I did not paint these faces.
Devil Woman and Scary Witch Clown Thing Girl.

Much candy was eaten by the little children. Volume: SUPER loud. The end.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I'm not ignoring you, Inner Nets. My PC is all brokeden down and I can'ts connect. We should see some resolution in the next day or two. Meanwhile, have fun.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Screams Judge Me.


"Why you not blogging about Halloween party? You so LAZY!!!"

Friday, October 31, 2008

Scream it Like You Mean It.

It's Halloween.

I put on some scary evil ghost clown mask when I arrived to work today and then snuck up to the window where my first class was studying with the Korean teacher. I knocked on the window and when the little kids looked up I screamed.

They screamed back, but not in the way I thought they would. Three of them were terrified. And, two of those three, when they stopped screaming, started to cry. I felt kind of bad. Then I remembered how I have to break them up from fighting and whining and shouting and running around chasing one another every day when I start work, and I decided I was going to have to get an inventory of masks and scare the crap out of them daily.

Korean folk do like scary stuff, though. Horror movies rank just below Steven Segal and Jean Claude van Damn-Wham-Bam-Thank-You-Ma'am flicks in popularity. I'm surprised by the ghoulish comics my little students like to read, and I know when I see one of them standing outside the TV room poking half their head in to watch the screen that there's a ghost story on, and they're too scared to have their whole body in front of the TV. So cute!

So I think Halloween could be a big hit here. The sugar junkie kids would sure go for the trick or treat aspect. By and large, though, K-folk just don't get it. I think it would be a very good thing if there were one holiday where people got to dress up as something else. It wouldn't have to be Halloween related necessarily. Just a "be something different for a day" theme would be awesome. I try to encourage my students to come to our annual party in costume. Some will, but most won't. If their parents are willing to shell out for a scream mask or a witches' hat, then sure. If not, they're going to show up as little Taekwondo-people, or in their usual costumes of lunch-covered sweaters.

When I was growing up I never had a store bought costume. Ever. My mom used to help us with out get-ups, and even sewed costumes a few times. One year she fashioned wigs out of red wool and made me an apron and bloomers so I could be Raggedy Anne and to my brother's Andy. We totally won the school's costume parade. I was a gypsy a couple years running. My brother would borrow a dress and sport balloon boobs and be a lady for a day. Once I wore a brown shirt and brown tights and stuck some leaves and a bird in my hair. I was a tree. My friend dressed all in purple and put a shoe on her head. She was grape gum.

So I wish my students would break out with a little creativity and wow me. We'll give out prizes for the best costumes - and I be the judge o'dat, so basically anyone who is "not-Scream" is going to win. This year, our Halloween party was completely organized by yours truly. I sort of had to hassle my new co-workers into even continuing the tradition of doing something special for the day, which is a good thing I think, since our student's have powerful memories and started asking about the Halloween party in the middle of September. Even though we've had a couple meetings about the party, I still don't think my boss and co-workers get it. At the end of the day today we had one bag of candy total - that I donated - and the loot bags I suggested got shot down because nobody wanted to take the time to make them. "The students can get candy if they win a game."

My boss rigged up the big DVD projector with stereo surround sound in the TV room and they decided to show a Halloween movie. I asked them which one, and was told "Scream." (Rated R for strong graphic horror violence and gore, and for language.) Ha! Poor students thought my mask in a window was scary,...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Little Girl Judges You


"Go get me some candy, ya giant."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Election Dancers Judge You

They think if you don't get out in matching outfits and dance for the candidate of your choosing, you're a bad citizen. So, screw you!

Little Wing

Little tiny wings attached to a little tiny bird. I passed the cluster of bright orange cosmos flowers I've been enjoying on my walk to work for the last few weeks.

They're actually on their way out now, with the chilly weather coming on quickly these days. But today there was a little thing flying from flower to flower. Can you see it?

It's not a bee.

It's a teeny wee hummingbird!
This would have been a very cool shot if I could have gotten my camera to focus quicker and the hummingbird wasn't being so frickin hummy!

There was a gorgeous green and purple hummingbird that would visit the garden most mornings while I was in Canada this past summer, but I never had my camera handy. This little Korean version was tiny though, about half the size of its Canadian cousin. Very cute.

***UPDATE*** Well, whaddyaknow?!?! My little bird is not a bird at all! It's a macroglossum stellatarum, otherwise known as a hummingbird moth! My astute buddy Joel suggested the possibility in the comments, and after googling images of the hummingbird moth, he's absolutley right. Good one, Joel! I'd never even heard of such a beast!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Triangle Face Judges You


You, and your giant oval head.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rocking Out

It was Friday night! It was time to Rock Out! What better way to party on down than to smuggle some frosty wobbly pops into the Noraebang? Time to get some singing on!

The "singing room" we went to was called "Demolition." It has a strange Alien/Predator thing going on inside.

"Hi! Welcome to Demolition! I'm your host and I'm here to eat your soul ensure you have an enjoyable evening."

There were only two of us Rocking Out yesterday: my co-worker and I, which was good - since there were only two chairs.
The wafer thin cushions made them extra comfy. Dig the skull arm rests?

But no time to relax, it was time to get to the singing. Enter into the singing room.
If you dare. Mwa ha ha haaaaaaaa.

No pictures of the interior, unfortunately. Microphone in one hand, beer in the other,...no third hand available to work the camera. But let me tell you, I Rocked it Out. I've been to many a noraebang in my time, and I always flip to the yellow section that contains all the English selections. The song choices are pretty pathetic. However, yesterday I discovered Noraebang Gold in the purple pages at the back of the book. There I found all the new selections divied up into categories of K-Pop, J-Pop, and a smattering of Pop Songs, all in English! I can't believe I never saw these options before. So I scored a triplet of 100's with "There She Goes" by The LA's, "The Scientist" by Coldplay, and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." Jelly got soul.

My co-worker would have had solid scores of 100's if we had gone to the Shriekaebang. Woman's a banshee, I tell you. We take turns singing, so she shrills out a Korean song and then I'm up - but she doesn't set the microphone down. Instead, she tries to mumble-scream harmony while I'm singing...but she doesn't know the words, melody, or song I'm singing. I could see she was trying to sabotage my perfect scores so I stomped my foot her way and X'd the air toward her mouth. Ha! Then I mished-mashed words and melody for her next hanguel ballad that I'd never heard before. "Blashihamneda shmika licka morrrraaae haaaayyyoooo!" Take that!

In the end, I won. The computerized singing judge did not award a single 100 to my partner in Plan Rock Out. There's a game some play where you have to stick a 1000 won note to the screen for every non-perfect score you get. The next person to get a hundred collects. We didn't play that last night. Pity, because I would have cleaned her out!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Clown Puppy Judges You


And the guy standing next to you, too.

The New Fashion

I saw these at HomePlus last night.

Look how curvy they're going to make your calves and thighs!

But fellas, what will you pair it with? An oversized belted Cosby sweater? Combat boots? Maybe a pirate shirt?!?! I wish there were round-the-clock reruns of Seinfeld on in Korea, instead of the constant loop of Sex in the City and Friends. I need some Costanza.

Monday, October 20, 2008

War of the Weather, Part Deux

I was so relieved when finally, sometime after the middle of September, it was finally cool enough to not have the air conditioner on all day long. I was almost more relieved to not have to battle my co-workers over the buttons on the good 'ol aircon. We could all finally relax with the windows open and the fans blowing the nice fall air around the classrooms.

I didn't mention it before, but there are some changes going on at my school as the new owner arranges things the way he likes them to be. He likes the whiteboards at the opposite ends of the classroom. He likes to switch up the cabinets. He likes a new computer in the Staff Room and the old computer in the TV room. He likes a DVD player and large screen projector in the TV room. I like these things, too. I hope he's going to eventually like to paint this place, because it's a rat-hole. I'd like it if he'd like to hire a troop of adjummas to come and give this place a good clean-down. Seriously. Rat-HOLE! I don't like, however, how he repositioned the fans in every classroom so they're right beside the windows. If you set them on rotate now, they're blowing out onto to street. I can't see how that's helping, unless, like - it's a very still day on the outside.

Today is a nice day. It's really not autumn weather by my Canadian instinct. It's more like early summer save for the leaves that are changing colour instead of blooming; it's currently 26 degrees (79 Fahrenheit) under sunny skies, 42% humidity and a nice 14k/hr breeze. On the other hand, Monday afternoon in my hometown of Toronto is forecast to be 13 degrees (43F) under cloudy skies. Now that's fall!

Today I walked into the Teacher's Room to start my work week and something smelled funny. Burney. Electrical. "What's what smell?" I asked my boss. He said "huh?" and I said "oh yah, you don't speak English hey?" So I went to investigate.

Lobby: negative, classrooms: negative, hallway: negative, Teacher's Room: smokey-burney-sockety....and the I spotted it: the portable electric heaters we roll into the classrooms in the winter. It was out - sitting beside the new teacher's desk - and IT WAS ON!!!

"You are SHITTING me!" I said to the heater, as if it had rolled itself out from storage and flipped it's own switch. I reached around and turned it off. When the new teacher - sporting a coat zipped up to her chin - came back into the Teacher's Room I said "I turned your heater off." She said she was freezing and showed me her goosebumped arms. I told her she should bring a couple blankets to wear, because if we had the heat on I was going to die. I don't know what's going to happen, but it might come down to me not spending any time in the windowless Staff Room, which is already the warmest place in the school by far. I still haven't busted out a fall jacket to wear in the evenings when it's still about 14C overnight, and my delicate co-worker is wearing coats and wants to ride around on the wheelie-heater? Damn, I'm in trouble.

Friday, October 17, 2008

World Music Festival

The weekend before last I ventured out to the Ulsan World Music Festival. I'm not sure how long that there link is going to last, but if you click it and it's still available, you'll be able to hear some of the performers.

The weather was overcast but nary a drop of rain reigned o'er us. We were a bit late to the festivities because I am an idiot and didn't print out the directions to the venue. On the internet map, the bus station and train station were noted with the location of the festival off toward the (east? west?) left. I don't know what I was thinking,...we'd just listen for music and follow it? I guess I somehow thought festival intuition would lead us there, magic, like. Yep. I'm not too bright. Eventually we located the Ulsan Culture and Arts Center in Munhwa Park. Various bands performed at three venues - an indoor hall, an outdoor small bandshell stadium, and a stage set up on a backstreet. We must have just missed a parade, because we passed small floats parked on the street as we headed toward the street stage and the fireworks that were going off.

Parade People hello!

And goodbye!

Some pretty Bellydancing Belles in the audience watching the show put on a show of their own, shaking their tresses and jingly hips.



I never did find out who was onstage there and we only caught the tail-end of their performance, but they were hopping. Nice brass section!
(Brass section not pictured.)

We sauntered past the various tents offering stuff for sale and a smattering of International food. A tiny smattering. There was döner kebab served in a pita, (chicken, I think) and a Vietnam stall offering pho and spring rolls,...and that was pretty much that. There were quite a few K-food stalls with quite a few K-food-people eating at them.

We headed back to the bandshell stadium and caught the end of Gipsy CZ's (from the Czech Republic)show. Very energetic and fun! Next up was David D'or, a countertenor from Israel. Man, that guy had some pipes! I actually took another friend the following night to catch him perform inside at the King Theater because I was pretty awed by his voice. Did you know Freddy Mercury was a countertenor?

*Here I'd post a picture of David D'or, but my pictures suck so hard they'd hurt your precious eyes.*

The highlight of the night, and perhaps the whole festival, was Bajofondo Tango Club, a group that hails from Argentina and Uruguay. They rocked it. Did you now they won two Oscars for the soundtracks from Brokeback Mountain and Babel? Forgive my dinky little camera's video quality, but here's a sample of the show:

And because I love you, here's another one:

You can notice a guy in the first video off to the left on the stage. A dancing guy. I loooooved him. He helped shift the instruments and equuipment between songs, and otherwise danced his head off for the entire show. He's very prominent in the second video. Again, my videos don't do the sound justice, but let me tell you it was outstanding. The crowd upfront was raring to get up and dance, but the Peanut Gallery adjosshi's and adjummas in the stadium step-seats would scream at them to "ANJA-RA!" (sit the hell down) and they actually obeyed for about the first third of the show. I'd never seen such a thing before. Toward the end of it everyone was on their feet, and there was a really wonderful vibe. Not bad at all for fifty dolla oh, wait a minute! It was all free! FREE, I say! Well, you can't beat that with a stick, can you?

If you get the chance next year, I highly recommend a visit. I think this festival may go the way of PIFF (The Pusan International Film Festival) which started out all rinky dink a number of years ago, but has since become the largest film festival in Asia. I've said already in the "Pho" post, but as Korea continues to open up it's world view, I'm sure this festival's just going to get bigger and better. Oh, and it's FREE, remember?