Monthly Archives: March 2012
I know, I know – several of my friends have expressed to me that they don’t get my fascination with the “Chloe” videos mocking Chloe Sevigny. I just thinking making fun of pretentious people involved in the fast lane or fashion is fun. In any case, it has recently come to my attenshun that I love schhhhprrrring.
I’ll be clear from the start that spring is not my favorite time of the year. I love the flowers and the colors and the warmer weather, but especially in Changwon, there is one thing about spring that I hate more than just about anything else: the annual spring cold. It always sneaks up on me. I never think that I’m going to catch it and then, almost as if by magic, I wake up one morning with a terrible nasal drip, a sore throat, and no will to live. I’m still waiting, so spring hasn’t quite sprung yet.
It’s getting there, though. Last week, it was shockingly warm. Okay, it wasn’t that shocking, but it was better than scurrying along to work wearing various layers of under garments, sweaters, and wool. I’m down to a long-sleeved T-shirt and a sweatshirt on most days now. When the sun is out, it’s downright nice, in fact. Evenings are still cool, but hey, that’s to be expected, right? Then it started raining on Wednesday, and by Friday, a cruel north wind had blown down from the mountains. Korea is like that: obnoxiously windy at times. Suffice it to say that the wind cooled my hopes of spring being directly around the corner, the corner being Monday morning.
In spite of the pouring rain and ghastly wind in spring and fall, the pounding heat (and often rain) in the summer, and the blistering wind in the winter, walking to work affords a serious advantage that is somewhat missed when tooling around in one’s car, and that advantage is that you are keenly aware of the change of the seasons. This sounds silly, but when you can visibly see, almost as if by slow motion camera, the popping of the cherry and tulip blossoms and the first peep of the pussy willows, it feels somehow invigorating. It’s especially nice as winter gives way to spring and color begins to return to the world. You can see the mountains slowly renewing their green mantle and the parks coming back to life with bugs, wee critters, and flowers of various colors, sizes, and scents.
Also, weirdly, you know spring is coming when the “aju-mafia” is sent in to clean up the park. Our park has lots of shedding trees, and in the spring, the aju-mafia has to be called in to rake out the park, cut down the crazy, out-of-control bamboo forest growing, and trim back the bushes that have gotten too wild since fall. The result is that, within less than a day, the park goes from being a gardener’s worst nightmare to being a pillar of community cleanliness. There was even a new turtle in the pond the next day! (Frankly, I’m amazed that anything can live in that cesspool, but apparently there are koi in there, too.)
The best thing about Korean spring, as most Koreans would be somewhat likely to tell you, are the cherry blossoms. Korea (and Japan, too) have a mother load of cherry trees. Changwon’s Daero (alias the longest straight road in Korea) is completely lined with them. Our neighbor, Jinhae, is renowned throughout Korea for its annual cherry blossom festival, which begins next weekend, I do believe. For a sweet two or three weeks, the entire country will be filled with trees that look like cotton candy poof balls, tinged a pinkish-white color. Korea suddenly looks like a tangerine-sky, anime dream world where children have blue and pink hair, huge eyes, gigantic mouths, shapeless legs, and ridiculously short skirts, if they’re girls. Everything seems right and perfect, and people roam the streets with cameras, hoping to snap that perfect picture of the idyllic trees and flowers. You have to give Korea credit – it does have nice flora and fauna.
Still, the part that I like most is the incoming warm weather. The days typically aren’t that warm in early spring, and the nights can be downright chilly, but summer is on its way. By May and June, we are usually well on our way towards summer weather. And as the cherry blossoms drift lazily to the ground or are blown across town by spring winds, the green leaves pop out, leaving us with the lush colors of summer. It’s a nice time to be alive.
In any case, I’m ready for those pussy willows to pop, and I’m ready for our park cherry blossoms to strut their stuff. I’m done with the brown and gray tones of winter. Winter is passé now. It’s time for spring to, well, spring. I’m ready to head to the cherry blossom festival and eat the heck out of some egg bread (don’t ask it, it’s delicious), wander around Changwon’s flowers parks, and maybe hike up our local mountain trail and see if I can (finally) spot some wildlife. It’s official: I’m ready.
Those of you who know me know how truly and utterly into music I am. I’m not quite as hardcore as a few people I know – all performance music majors of some sort – but I fancy that I know a fair bit about what’s decent for someone who herself isn’t much more than a fair musician. I played bassoon for years and probably still could, if I’d bother to pick the instrument up once in awhile. I like to fancy that I have an ear for good melodies and lyrics.
Of course, musical preferences are totally subjective. I have several friends who are die-hard metal heads, others who are insufferable hipsters perpetually seeking to build their “indie cred” (okay, that was me in university), and others who are lovers of all things acoustic and folksy. For my own part, my musical tastes are somewhat diverse. I like just about everything from techno and electronica to folk music to pop and classical. (Isn’t classical music just pop from a bygone era? What if someday, someone thinks that Katy Perry is a genius classical artist? Dear God.)
I’m in no better position to recommend music to you than anyone else, but I like doing it. I enjoy making playlists for my friends when I see them, since most my friends are fairly into music themselves. I always appreciate a good music swap, and since I’m hungering for a new discovery myself, perhaps part of me is hoping that someone will come forward with a hot new recommendation for me. My ears are always open!
I wish I’d gotten into Ani when I was younger. I resisted her for years, and a big reason behind that was someone I know/knew who was obsessed with Ani. We didn’t get along all that well – frenemies might be a good way of describing us – and I held a grudge against Ani for years because of that. My friends Kendra and Julie finally got me to a live Ani concert – the only real way to be introduced to Ani – and I was hooked. I never looked back. I’m still kicking myself for allowing my opinion of someone’s personality to get in the way of listening to good music.
Part of the reason I’m including Ani in this list is because she just put out a new album, but I haven’t bought it and don’t intend to. I love Ani dearly, but I’m firmly of the opinion now that her best years are behind her. Her first album was released way back in 1990 (!), and she has been an extremely prolific artist, sometimes to her detriment, I think. Her earlier albums are her best, and they markedly different from her later albums. Her early albums feature more of her signature finger-picking, which is mind-blowing at times, especially if you really appreciate fast fingers in guitar work. Her lyrics are powerful and draw the listener in, and she is incredibly relatable.
Her new album is mostly political, and I even though I am a devoted fan, I have never agreed with Ani’s politics. I appreciate her, but a libertarian will never agree with a socialist or whatever it is that Ani really is. Her new album is relaxed, happy, and… Well, to be perfectly honest, Ani is at her best when she is angry. She attacks her guitar, and when she’s live, it’s amazing, the kind of rapport that she has with her audience. Those vitriolic songs are best when she has someone with whom to share that mass of emotion.
In any case, I wouldn’t recommend her later work as a starting point. Like most Ani fans, I would probably recommend Dilate or Little Plastic Castle, which are arguably her two best, most solid works, though Living in Clip is a great place to start too, as Ani is always at her best live. Dilate has always been my favorite album. I used to drive around my university town belting out Dilate songs. In fact, I used to consider the song “Dilate” to be my personal anthem.
I’m less dedicated about listening to Ani now, but like any good friend, she’s always there, and whenever I put her on play, it’s like we never parted. I shared some of the best and worst times of my life with her, and I still find her relatable. If you have never checked her out, do so immediately. You won’t be sorry, I promise.
Townes Van Zandt
If you are a country music fan and don’t know who Townes is, punch yourself in the face. Hard. Then go out and buy one of his albums. Any one will do. Townes Van Zandt is pure magic. That said, not everyone loves him like I do. My husband thinks he’s utter rubbish. My husband also thinks “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees is the best song known to man, so I don’t put much stock in his musical opinion.
Townes Van Zandt was an interesting character. His family threw him into a mental institution during his college years due to his struggles with bipolar disorder, and due to insulin shock therapy, Townes lost most all recollection of his childhood. He emerged a changed man and began writing amazing music shortly thereafter.
He had an up-and-down life that was mired with alcoholism and drug addiction, but he always managed to write beautiful, inspiring songs. Faithful fans have declared that he’s better than Bob Dylan (he is). His finger-picking ability is incredible, and his lyrics are moving beyond imagine. That said, he is not for everyone. Most of his songs are understandably tinged with melancholy. They are often deceptively simple, leaving your mind to wander and color in the missing details that lie just under the words. I’ve found myself able to more clearly picture scenes of Townes’ music more so than any other artist I’ve encountered. The downside to Townes, for some, is that his singing pretty much sucks. He isn’t an on-key crooner, but it is honest singing, and I find that I enjoy his older, whiskey-and-cigarette hardened voice more than I enjoy his technically “better” voice of youth.
My personal favorite song is “If I Needed You,” which literally brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it. Most of his songs are fantastic, but some of the most popular are “Pancho and Lefty,” “Waiting Around to Die,” “To Live Is to Fly,” and “Be Here to Love Me.” Lots of these songs have been covered by other, more well-known artists like Norah Jones, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Doc Watson, and others. Most people don’t know that Townes was the author, though.
As a side note to this post, Townes’ official record label is Fat Possum Records, which is my personal favorite recording label. They are home to other great acts such as Tennis, Dinosaur Jr., The Black Keys (very popular right now), and the Heartless Bastards. One of my friends knows the band members of Tennis, and they are well worth checking out, too. I just can’t hate a record label whose varmint of choice is a possum and whose slogan reads, “We’re doing our best.”
If you like Björk, you’ll probably like the Sugarcubes. The Sugarcubes were Björk’s first major project. They were big on college campuses back in the 1980s, but they never really went any further than that. They have a lot of Björk’s signature sound, but they aren’t quite as blatantly “out there” as Björk herself. I guess the best way I can describe the Sugarcubes is like Björk without the performance art side of what she does.
I’ve always felt that in order to fully understand and appreciate Björk, you have to embrace her videos and the performance art side of her music. Her work is very much a total package, I find, but that is not the case with this band. So if you have always wanted to like Björk but couldn’t quite get your head around her Björkness, this band could also work for you. That said, they’re still kind of weird. Whatever the case, I love the Sugarcubes. They’re fun and funky, and they were definitely different from most of the other acts out there at the time. Come to think of it, I don’t think there’s anything like them today, either.
This is Katie-Jane Garside’s latest musical project, having left Queenadreena behind. I still miss Queenadreena, and Ruby Throat definitely ain’t Queenadreena. It’s just KJG and a guitarist, so it provides a showcase of her unique vocals and interesting lyrics. For me, it’s very much mellow jam music. It’s not generally something that I would drive around listening to, since I find it rather relaxing. It’s nice background music for a lazy afternoon of reading or chillaxin’ around the house.
One thing I’ve always noticed about KJG’s lyrics are that they have the tendency to sound somewhat soft while being somewhat strange and even somewhat gory at times. She is able to create interesting visuals for me, at least. If you don’t like mildly pretentious artsy music, you’ll want to give Ruby Throat a miss. If you like weird indie rocker chicks singing quietly along with a guitar, this could be a winner for you.
Here is a video of the duo live in London performing “Bear-Baiting,” so you can get a glimpse of KJG’s full-on spritely weirdness for yourself. In the words of one of the YouTube posters, she’s a “beautiful mess.”
Jucifer is like a cross between Queenadreena and any of a variety of metal bands. Made up only of husband and wife team Edgar Livengood and G. Amber Valentine, I’ve heard Jucifer live described as a sonic onslaught. They came to my university town when I was still there, and I didn’t go because I wasn’t yet into them, and I’m so angry now that I didn’t go just for the sake of going with my friend. Ugh. Amber Valentine is supposed to be pretty dang bad-ass on stage.
Jucifer has been around since the 1990s, and they don’t stay anywhere for very long, just touring and such. They put out an album every few years. I’m not so much on their latest album, but everything before that was great. There are usually one or two songs on their albums that I don’t care for or that move too slowly for me. Jucifer is at their best in attack mode, more often than not.
Weirdly, they will often use historical themes, such as the Civil War or the French Revolution for their music. It’s different, but it works. The song “Antietam,” about a nurse working in one of the field hospitals, is strange and disturbing and yet thought-provoking at the same time. Yes, it’s a bit off that a metal band is giving a history lesson, but I enjoy it, and quite a few of my friends like this band, too, so it’s not just me.
Personally, I think their first two albums, Calling All Cars on the Vegas Strip and I Name You Destroyer are the best, although I also quite like L’Autrichienne (The Austrian, referring to Marie Antoinette) and If Thine Enemy Hunger, too.
This is a music video of “When She Goes Out” created and filmed by a fan. This song is from I Name You Destroyer.
The Jesus and Mary Chain
Love the Jesus and Mary Chain. They’re basically an electro-noise band. I don’t really know if that’s the technical term, but there is a lot of “fuzz” in the background of their music. It’s a chain-sawing, grinding sound, but it’s not an unpleasant sound. It’s reminiscent of the Cure and Depeche Mode, somehow, but I think they’re better than the Cure. My aunt once told me that it reminded her of something my cousin would’ve listened to when she was young.
The Jesus and Mary Chain reminds me of a memory that I don’t really have. If The Breakfast Club were an indie film classic, I’m sure this music would have been part of the soundtrack. To me, this music is perfect for those first days of spring and summer, when you can slip on your sunglasses and cruise around with the windows down and the sunroof back, music blaring, head bopping, driving slightly over the speed limit and hoping that no cops notice you. It just has that feel-good quality to it.
In the words of the Pixies themselves, “Try this trick and spin it.” The Pixies are amazing – always emulated but never copied, they were and still are their own thing, for sure. They influenced Nirvana, and they started off as nothing more than a garage band from UMass. The Pixies themselves were influenced by a variety of bands: the Beatles, Les Paul, Elvis Costello, Husker Du, Iggy Pop, Black Flag, Hendrix, etc. Their own sound comes off sounding, at times, like rock-and-roll, punk, alternative, and even some Beach Boys-esque surfer rock.
The Pixies weren’t the most prolific band, and Black Francis wrote almost all of their material. The band broke up after a few short years due to personal and artistic differences between Black Francis and bassist Kim Deal, who later went on to found The Breeders, which gained a fair bit of popularity in their own right.
My cousin saw them in Charlotte on their 20th anniversary Doolittle tour, and I’m insanely jealous that I was stuck over here in Korea. I would really like to see the Pixies before they decide to never get together again. They have no plans to tour this year, but I’m hoping that maybe next year… Or the year after…
Whatever the case, the Pixies are my band of choice for the summer months. To me, their music is the sound of cruising with the windows down. It’s drinking on a bar patio with your best friends and eating greasy appetizers. It’s having a BBQ and watching 4th of July fireworks. It’s going on a float trip. It’s getting wasted with your friends and doing stupid things that make for great stories later. The Pixies are the soundtrack to the best summer of your life. Every time I put on this album, it’s like turning on the sunlight and letting the good times wash over me. You can’t go wrong with these guys, a carload of friends, a few cases of beer, and a destination at the end of a long, dusty highway.
Here they are live in 1988 playing their most popular song, “Where Is My Mind?”
Yesterday on D-Listed, there was a hilarious video of a snowboarding opossum from Pennsylvania. It reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about in while: opossums are my favorite varmints. In fact, they’re one of my favorite animals, next to hedgehogs, porcupines, and the honey badger. Opossums are grossly misunderstood animals which live up to almost none of the preconceived notions about them.
Possums – let’s face it, nobody says the “o” and it sounds pretentious – are mostly thought of as nasty, aggressive creatures with vile temperaments and an even more loathsome appearance. Most of this, however, is an urban myth. I’m convinced that 98% of the shade thrown at possums has to do with their tails. Yeah, I know they look like rat tails. Rats are another one of nature’s misunderstood critters, but I don’t find them quite as endearing as possums.
In the first place, possums are not naturally aggressive. Yes, they have more teeth than any other mammal in North America. Actually, they might have more than any mammal in the world, but I’d have to check on that. Anyway, they have a mouthful of knives, and they look terrible when they open their scissor bills. Of course, all wild animals can and do bite. It doesn’t take a genius to work that one out. Yes, possums do bite, but so dogs and cats.
In fact, possums are so keen to avoid confrontation that their first line of defense is…. hissing and drooling. Yes, they drool uncontrollably when threatened. It looks repulsive, but it’s hardly something to haunt your dreams at night. They do this to appear rabid though interestingly, possums are extremely resistant to the rabies virus. Why is this? Their body temperature is too low for the virus to survive. Animals such as raccoons and bats, however, are far more likely to be carriers.
The possum’s second line of defense? Play dead and emit an offensive odor. Wow. Terrifying. I guess if you’re afraid of zombies or roadkill… The possum can fall into a self-induced coma for minutes to hours, depending on the amount of adrenaline produced by its system. This can lead to unfortunate accidents with cars or lead to the possum being eaten alive by a predator that isn’t scared of bad smells and drool. Still, when all is said and done, possums are far more likely to take a the coward’s way out than to fight for their lives. Most of them just want to run away.
Another common misconception about possums is that they’re dirty. Well, most animals that live outside won’t smell like a rose garden, but possums are no more or less dirty than your average critter. They have acquired this reputation because they will eat just about anything: bugs, fruit, cat food, carrion, and other unseemly tidbits. Possums are like one of nature’s garbage disposals. That is to say, they will clean up things that other animals won’t, and that doesn’t make them dirty; it makes them a useful part of the ecosystem and food chain.
Possums haven’t evolved much in the last 70 million years. They are extremely well-adapted for survival. There are possum fossils dating back to dinosaur times. They must be doing something right, or they wouldn’t have been around so darn long! They also have opposable thumbs on their back paws. They are great climbers, though past a young age, they can’t hang by their tails from trees like everyone thinks. Apparently, they are also good at killing real pests, like mice and snakes. (I actually don’t think snakes are bad, though I wouldn’t want them in the house unannounced!)
Some people have even been known to keep possums as pets. They are usually found as babies who have been injured or lost their mother. They are rehabbed and live an indoor life. They can be litter box trained, and they are not particularly demanding, although they live extremely short lives – about four years, maximum. They sleep most of the time. The rest of the time, they are looking for food. Once their caloric needs are satisfied, they will generally go back to sleep. They spend even more time snoozing than our feline friends, which makes for a pretty lazy animal.
In fact, possums have more to fear from cats and dogs than the other way around. As previously stated, possums are pretty docile creatures. They respond well to human contact when they become used to it, and they seem to enjoy cuddling and petting. Not exactly the stuff that giant rat-monsters are made of, huh?
Am I saying that you should trap and adopt a baby possum? No. Unless they are in need of medical attention, wild animals are best left in their proper habitat: the wild. However, I think it’s really sad that people abuse and kill these animals just because they have been trained to think of them as ugly, predatory, aggressive beasts that carry rabies and spread the plague. None of these things are true, and it is pointless to go around killing possums for sport. It is a waste of resources to trap them and bring them to animal control shelters, as there are other, more dangerous animals that pose real threats for which that money might be better used.
Yes, this is totally a pet cause of mine, but I like to think outside of the “statist quo,” as one of my favorite writers, Jeffrey Tucker, would say. You don’t have to believe something just because everyone says you should. Drink bourbon in your coffee on a Sunday morning. Turn your water heater up above the “safety zone” so that you get steaming hot water that actually cleans things. Be kind to your neighborhood possums. They’re not hurting anyone or anything, including your yard, your flowers, or your pets. In fact, possums are docile, timid creatures that want nothing more than to survive and coexist in their environment. And judging from the fact that they’ve been around several million years longer than we have, it sounds like they have the right idea!
Happy Sunday evening! I just returned from free dinner with my boss (great) and buying a new blender (excellent)! It has been a good day in Rainbowland.
I’ve been bugging Graeme about getting a blender for a while, but we never got around to it. After I watched the movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, I was sure that we needed to buy a blender ASAP so that I could start juicing our way to optimal health. As most of you know, I’ve been Somersizing for quite a while. I’ve lost about 120 lbs. to date, which is a-mazing, and I couldn’t be happier with my results. I am a low-carb convert. I would become a paleo-dieter, if I thought I had the willpower to ever truly give up sweets and dairy. (I know better.) Besides, life is no fun without a treat once in awhile, right? Just don’t go overboard…
Still, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead sort of gave me the boost to recommit to getting the rest of my weight off. I still have a long way to go, and I’m serious about wanting to get down to a thinner, healthier self. I’ve started going to the gym, using the treadmill, and lifting weights, but it’s not enough. I still feel like I haven’t gotten there yet. There are so many things I want to do to improve my health, and I feel like much of it is out-of-reach as long as we’re over here in Korea.
I’ve decided that I really want to do a cleanse at some point – okay, just start calling me Goop now – but I know I could do it, because I’ve done extreme diets in the past and had good success. Besides, when it is explained out, it just makes sense to me. I have a lot of faith in the healing power of the human body. We were made to heal ourselves naturally to a large extent, but what you put into your body plays such a large part in that, as I’ve come to discover. When I was younger, I thought the phrase “You are what you eat” was a lot of crapola, since I didn’t really feel any differently, regardless of what I ate. Now that I’m aging (bummer), I can tell the difference if/when I sit around and eat a bunch of junk. When I eat healthy meals and snacks though, I definitely feel much better. Sugar throws me into an utter tailspin anymore.
I’m not a very enthusiastic cook here, as I’ve reiterated time and again. I still blame my kitchen, although I’ve never been a champion chef anyway. It’s the clean-up I despise, probably because I haven’t had a dishwasher on hand in nearly 10 years. I always seem to live in places that aren’t self-cleaning, dang it anyway! In any case, I’ve decided that I would like to start trying to make some desserts that are sweetened with agave nectar, which is far lower on the glycemic index (40) than sugar (100). I’m also thinking about removing most gluten from my diet and/or replacing it with spelt. There are definitely recipes out there that fit these needs.
Does it sound extreme? I don’t feel like it is. The longer I’m in Korea, the more I realize how disgustingly bad for your health American food really is. We eat gobs of sugar, tons of gluten, mountains of processed foods and weird chemicals, and not nearly enough whole grains or fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else. Vegetables were never my favorite thing on the menu, and I’m still trying to get myself to enjoy them more. It’s been a struggle, but we’re getting there slowly. I make it a point to withhold meat at dinner now and replace it with vegetables, not because I don’t love meat – meat is delicious and amazing beyond compare – but because vegetables are healthier and lower in calories, which helps me lose weight faster and feel better.
Getting back to Buddy Blender though, I’ve already made my first fruit-and-nothing-but-fruit smoothie. Okay, there was some water thrown in so that it wouldn’t be like drinking cement. I might try throwing in some of that no-fat drinking yogurt that I railed against in previous posts. Perhaps I’ve finally found a reasonable use for it! Stay tuned. In any case, I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far by my fruit smoothie. It’s thick, it’s chunky, and it’s tasty. It’s like drinking fruit salad with one or two chews thrown in for good measure. Go ahead, laugh and say that I have to puree my food now, but that’s not it. I’m attempting to get a high volume or fruits and/or vegetables down the hatch in one relatively painless go. Sound nuts? I don’t think it is. I maintain that it’s a great way to trick myself into getting more greenage into my body without the crying, kicking, and screaming that naturally accompanies an increase in fruit/vegetable intake.
So tomorrow starts the great juice experiment. With the exception of my snack at work – I forgot to tell my boss that I don’t need anything this week – I’m going to drink/eat only whole juices made from fresh fruits and veggies for the next week and see how much weight I lose/how much better I feel. If I lose a good amount of weight, I might do one week on and one week off until, well, I get down to where I want to be. I find it hard to believe that I won’t see major results from imbibing only liquified fruits and vegetables.
Some people make the argument that the juicer is better for this sort of thing, but you know, I’m not sure I agree. You don’t get all of the pulp from the food, and it seems like it would be more nutritious and filling if you take in the pulp and stuff with it. Maybe I’m totally wrong, but whatever. For one thing, I can’t find a juicer here. For another, I hear the juicers are a serious pain to clean and, as I’ve stated before, I don’t do well with high-maintenance kitchen appliances. Rinsing and washing the blender and its accompanying cups is about as high-impact as I care to get with the sink, being as how I spend far too much time on dishes already.
Anyway, I’m really happy with the blender purchase. I’ll let you guys know how the whole thing goes. Fingers crossed!
I actually had the whole weekend off this past weekend. It was going to be glorious. I had everything worked out. I went to Busan to get my hair cut. Well, I asked for her to do it shorter,since I knew that I wouldn’t be back for a bit, but going shorter was the NOT the great idea that I thought it would be. My hair looks better a wee bit longer. Well, win some, lose some.
I came home to an empty apartment because Graeme was out having dinner with a friend. Great, I thought. An evening to myself. Not quite. Graeme and James came back here for a bit because it was a bit early to go to Jazz Bar. My dreams of a night watching crappy ghost hunting shows (go head, judge me, I deserve it) was ruined, at least temporarily. The boys had beer and, me being me, I stuck my snout right into it.
Long story short, I ended up heading to Changwon solo to go out to the bars. I spent most of the night at BK Bar (formerly Kevin’s Bar), and had a good time. Honestly, I didn’t drink all that much, but the big problem was that I didn’t eat any dinner. The boys came home before I could cook anything for myself. Big mistake. I really should have picked up something to eat. I ended up completely smashed and barfing on myself.
I am nearly 28 years old. This is hardly the first time I’ve had too much to drink. My year in Germany was populated with incidents like this. Well, except that I usually ate obnoxious amounts of food on top of the beer. The point that I’m making is that I’m certainly old enough to know better. I’d say that I’m still too young to care, but that’s not true, either.
Making an ass of yourself in public is not cool, nor is the 24-hour hangover that now accompanies such ridiculous demonstrations of my lack of self-control. It took almost 24 hours for me to feel better. My cousin Julie warned me that someday hangovers would last for two days, and she was right. I’m not 18 anymore, and I shouldn’t be running around town, carrying on like I am. It has been 10 years since I went to university, and it is time to get a new schtick. Drunk, dumb Margaret is going to the “27 Club.” She is no longer useful to me and, in fact, is an annoying distraction that detracts from my life. Simply put: I’m too old for this shit.
So I’m making a resolution: I’m not drinking anymore. I will allow myself two days a year to imbibe, and then not to tragic excess. For one thing, alcohol is all empty calories and sugar. With the exception of a red wine with dinner, Somersizing pretty much says, “Don’t drink; you’ll get fat.” Fair enough. I don’t care about having red wine with most dinners anyway, so that’s not much of a problem for me. Actually, not drinking isn’t much of a problem for me, since ordinarily, we don’t keep booze in the house, and I don’t really have the notion to drink that often.
Whatever the case, I’m doing it for my health. I’m on such a health kick with everything else, why not just eliminate the booze, too? It’s not that I want to be one of those teetotaler types who acts saintly about not drinking, because that’s not how I really feel about it. I like good (expensive) beer, and I like whiskey and margaritas. I can really take or leave most wines, as they generally give me headaches. I’d honestly rather just drink water or something. It tastes better, and it doesn’t make me feel like the living dead.
Bottom line is: I’m done. I’m done acting a fool. I’m just done. I don’t want to do it anymore. If I’m going to indulge in something ridiculous, I’d rather have a gigantic piece of dangerously chocolate cake or a freaking huge Chipotle burrito. Do you know what I would give for one of those burritos today? About $25. Normally, they’re about $8. That’s how much I love them, and that’s how much I wish they were available here. Mexican food. What a beautiful choice.
CNN had this mildly humorous, incredibly truthful article about what it’s like to return from a life abroad. I will co-sign pretty much everything in this article. Coming home is far worse than leaving, and everyone I’ve ever talked to who has been an ex-pat will probably agree with me. Coming home from Germany was one of the worst experiences of my life. It took me almost a year to finally readjust to living in the US again.
I think the biggest problem with coming home is that you expect everything to be the same, and you expect that everyone and everything will have paused while you took a big “time out” from your life in the US. The problem is that you can never step into the same river twice, because it’s always moving. … This might be slightly less true if you’re from bum-f**k nowhere like me. Jacksonville, Illinois, hasn’t changed much since, well, ever. I think the only major change has been perhaps in the demographic, as there seem to be more old people now.
Anyway, I found this to be a pretty humorous read, so if you, like me, have ever been an angry ex-pat who just got off the plane and can’t stand to listen to the American accent for one more minute, this article is for you. Man, I remember getting off the plane in Atlanta coming back from Germany, and having to listen to everyone’s obnoxious American English drove me to distraction. I wanted to punch everyone around me, except the travelers speaking another language. I think I’d gotten so used to being able to tune out the German, somewhat, that being forced to listen to my native language constantly was actually annoying.
This is another thing that most people don’t think about, but you really have to watch your mouth. I find that I develop a sailor’s mouth while I’m abroad, if for no other reason than most people in the new country don’t understand colorful English language. You have to really start watching yourself when you get home. On a similar note, you can’t talk about the people around with impunity, since everyone around you can understand you. I guess that means that you have to start speaking your new language whenever you want to throw shade at people. Good thing that I’m relatively confident that there aren’t many German or Korean speakers in downstate Illinois. Actually, I’m fairly convinced that unless they are of Asian descent, most Americans don’t have a clue about any Asian language, so there you go.
And oh yeah, the thing about constantly comparing America to the other countries you visited? Americans absolutely don’t give a shit. They don’t. America is too geographically isolated for Americans to care about anywhere else in the world, I’m convinced.
Ah, reverse culture shock. Can’t wait!
As most of you know, there are a lot of things that I hate. In the words of my girl-crush and Queenadreena front woman, Katie-Jane Garside, “I know what doesn’t drive me mad, more than I know what I like.” Maybe it’s because it’s a holiday and I don’t have to work, so I’m feeling more forgiving than usual, or maybe I’m just in a good mood, despite having a nasty head cold and having head a rather up-and-down week. Anyway, I was nosing through iTunes to see what new stuff has come out, and I was pleasantly surprised to find something I didn’t hate. Long story short… Well actually, it’s a short story made longer by the fact that I’m writing about it. In any case, I thought I’d do a post about things that I don’t hate.
I just stumbled onto this new band, which consists of two alt rap guys named Kid Cudi and Dot Da Genius. I don’t have a lot of faith in music these days. Everything is so commercial, and it seems like the sheer love of creating something inventive with an interesting perspective has sort of gone out the window, as far as pop culture goes. When you turn on the popular radio stations, it’s all Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Wayne and whoever else is popular right now.
I go through phases with rap music. On one hand, I despise the misogyny of the genre, as well as the emphasis on guns and violence. That said, one of my favorite artists ever is a rapper, Tech N9ne. Tech has legitimate lyrical talent and amazing – amazing – rap ability. This guy is so fast, your head will spin. I mean, he’s awesome. What’s even better is that he has great respect and love for his fans, and he has yet to put out a weak album. He’s been at least a bit underground for most of his career, and I selfishly like him there, because that way he can do what he wants and continue to make rhymes that I actually want to hear.
WZRD is definitely not Tech N9ne. I wouldn’t really call WZRD rap. It’s lyrical but melodic. I wouldn’t really even say that so far the lyrics are that great. Frankly, I think it’s hard to find great lyricists these days. You have to go to the indie genre if you want that. That said, their production is excellent, and isn’t that what pop music is all about today – production? Their sound combines older influences like Nirvana, but mixes it with a dash of hip-hop. I almost want to say there’s some 80s electro-pop in there somewhere, but not quite. Lord knows I’m a sucker for a synth. But the delivery of their lyrics is truly reminiscent of the alt/grunge rockers of the late 80s and early 90s.
As I’m listening to it, I find myself amazed that people expecting rap are buying this album. iTunes has it labeled “alternative,” and there is almost nothing rap-like to be found here. The more songs I preview, the more shocked I am that it was put together by rappers. It is so inspired by alt rock. It has that melancholic, intense sound of the drug-addled and depressed – a sound that, might I add, is near and dear to my heart. The more I listen, the more I love it. It’s completely different from anything I’ve heard in the genre lately. I heard that Lil’ Wayne (gag) tried to make one of his albums with a “rock” sound, but it didn’t go down all that well in execution. Not that I’m surprised, since I personally think Wayne sucks.
I suppose I can’t say that the individual parts of their music are anything new and different, but I suppose music is never truly anything new and different. The bottom line is that I like the way this album is put together. I honestly like it. I really do. It’s grungey and trippy and electric, and it feels like something I could listen to in the car in anticipation of warmer weather and better times to come. Hopefully, we’ll be hearing more of these guys.
This is such a guilty pleasure, and it has occurred as a direct result of being a teacher. I love Rilakkuma. Rilakkuma is this bear character from Japan. He has two friends, Co-Rilakkuma (that’s what my kids call the white bear) and Chick. In Korea, they’re cute, irresistible characters. Apparently in Japan, the chicken kills Rilakkuma and traps his spirit in a bear suit or something sick like that. I’m not totally sure that’s true, by the way. My students aren’t always champion truth tellers.
They love Rilakkuma and Angry Bird stickers, and I hook them up with some whenever they have good tests. The top students get pick of the biggest, best, and cutest stickers. This wouldn’t work for $h!t with American kids, but Korean students are so competitive that it works a treat. Status is recognized at our academy by the size and presence of many stickers. It means that you rock way harder than other kids and have more sugary-sweet mounds of cuteness stick to your books, pencil cases, and sticker books. Yes, many of my girls collect stickers.
Why do I like Rilakkuma? It’s hard to say, other than I find it so damn cute. That pink squirrel kills me. That’s how you know you’ve been in Asia too long – you’re starting to have a seriously large, soft spot in your heart for weird, oddly adorable anime characters. I’m strongly considering putting a big ol’ Rilakkuma squirrel sticker on my Mac as declaration of my love for this bear and his friends. Maybe I’m just jealous that they eat sugar all day and never get fat, because seriously, they are always eating honey pancakes, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and bread and never gaining an ounce. That is simply not fair. You can’t be insanely cute and not have to worry about your weight! God, I love Rilakkuma.
Thank you, Japan, for inventing strange, kooky, appealing characters for me to stick on my personal items and look like I have a strange fetish for Asia. Next I’m going to have to start dressing in Harajuku fashion…
This sounds like a strange thing to say for me, since I normally despise socks. They make my feet sweaty, and I just don’t like them. I like my feet to either be clad in sandals, heels, or flats, none of which require socks. Unfortunately, those aren’t so much an option in the winter when you have to walk everywhere, and your feet are frozen even in the best of times.
Still, I have found an uncommon number of hilarious/cute socks in Korea, and I’m starting to love them. Putting “F**k You” socks on or Jjangu socks makes it all better. Jjangu is another anime cartoon from Japan about this naughty little boy. He drops his pants, draws elephant ears around his man-parts, points to his junk, and swivels his hips singing, “Ele-phant, ele-phant!” One of my kids stood up in class two years ago and did this, minus the pants-dropping part. I’ve been doing the elephant dance ever since, to great effect. I totally have a pair of socks featuring Jjangu with his junk out, elephant ears boldly painted on, penis swinging in the breeze. Dirty, yes. Hilarious? You betcha!
I found a new email client, Zoho. I think it’s more commonly used for businesses, but they have a free individual platform. I will freely admit that it isn’t as user-friendly as Gmail, and it isn’t as pretty. You know what they don’t do, though? Ask for private information. They never know your name. You just set up an account and that’s it. You need a pre-existing email to do it, just to have a user name, but then it’s done, and you only use your new ID. I love it. I’m deleting the Gmail account as soon as I get all of my stuff like this blog and other things changed over to Zoho. Screw you, Google.
Beverly Hills, 90210
I’ve been watching the first season of the old 90210 a lot lately. I guess I’m feeling nostalgic for 1993 or something. I totally remember watching this show on Wednesday nights before Melrose Place. Shannen Doherty/Brenda made my life. I never understood why people thought she was such a bitch. I mean, her best friend stole her man, her dad was always on her ass… She was just telling it like it is. I always liked Brenda for sticking up for herself. If that’s bitchy, I guess I’m a bitch, too. Besides, Shannen was one of the Hollywood bad girls at the time, and I have a soft spot in my heart for bad girls. I always thought the show went straight down the tube after Shannen left the show.
I mean, let’s be honest here: Kelly was a back-stabbing C U Next Tuesday who was about as interesting as vanilla pudding. Donna was too goody-goody. Brandon was always trying to save everyone. Dylan was a string of bad choices. Steve was a Holzkopf. David Silver was just… ugh. Oh, and there was Andrea/Gabrielle Carteris, who looked 32 from the first day of filming and never made a convincing teenager. It probably didn’t help that she was playing the mentally oldest character on the show. Brenda Walsh made that show. She was the only one who seemed even a little real to me – probably because Shannen Doherty had the most talent of anyone in the cast.
The whole problem with Shannen/Brenda was that Shannen had such a strong presence off-screen that I think her real persona started to overshadow Brenda, and then Brenda finally became Shannen. Whether that was intentional on the part of the writers or not, I will never know. What I do know is that Brenda was friggin’ rad, and I was so sad when they wrote her out. I will never forget the scene when Kelly and Dylan tell Brenda about their fling. Loved the outfit – so trashy and bad-ass. Dylan and Kelly = selfish, waffling morons. Brenda was better off without them.
Recipes that I will mostly never use
I go on sprees with cooking sometimes. Mostly, I don’t cook that much. My excuse now is that I don’t have a decent oven to use, and my kitchen is so small and ridiculous that cooking is a pain, rather than a pleasure. There isn’t enough counter space in my kitchen to make cooking easy or enjoyable, although I will say that compared to most kitchens in Korea, I’m not doing too badly. Still, I would prefer a place where I didn’t have to sit on the couch to mix the dough.
I guess I’ve been yearning on some inner level for a real kitchen, because I’ve been saving recipes from Paula Deen’s website like crazy and reading this blog that Beth clued me in to, So Delushious. It’s written by Chrissy Teigen, supermodel and fiancée of John Legend. She’s freaking hilarious, and her recipes are oh-my-gosh-amazing. When I want humor, I read Chrissy. When I want butter-slathered goodness, I go to Paula. Of course, I save these recipes, dream about them, and then never use them. I tell myself that it’s because my kitchen sucks, and the ingredients are mostly unavailable. I guess one excuse is as good as the next, but I swear that I’m going to start cooking when we have a real kitchen. I don’t want to be one of those women who can’t cook for shiz.
I guess if you go by this latest list of things that I love, I should logically be spending my holiday baking a Rilakkuma cake in my socks while either listening to WZRD or watching 90210. I can’t say that it wouldn’t be a day well-spent, but it’s not going to happen, unfortunately. Oh well.