30 November 2007

"It's like Korea, only Japanese."

That's a direct quote from Cyndi.

We arrived in Tokyo. Yay! As Cyndi noted, Tokyo feels very similar to Korea, but is also quite different. I don't mean to offend the Motherland, but it's much cleaner here, and people seem to be much more polite. I haven't heard so many "Excuse me" (sumimasen) in such a long time. I guess I've become accustomed to all the passive aggressive pushing and shoving on the mean streets of Seoul.

This whole trip to Tokyo was sort of thrown together at the last minute. We've come to Tokyo with no concrete plan. In fact, Cyndi even bought a Tokyo guide book from Kyobo Bookstore called No Plan, No problem! Unfortunately, we lost the book at the subway station.

No worries though. We're doing surprisingly well, given our little knowledge of Japan and the Japanese language.

Tonight, we're staying at Capsule Inn Akihabara. It's pretty cool. I will of course, take lots of photos.

Soreja mata.

25 November 2007

Put some pants on.

Dear Ladies of Seoul,

Put some pants on.
As Gummy will attest to, it is far too cold to wear a mini skirt or hot pants.

Sure, I know you have your little sheepskin-lined boots on, but unless those Uggs go up to your thighs, there's no excuse for you to wear such mini articles of clothing. It is winter for goodness sake! Lindsey and Paris can get away with such foolishness, because they live in L.A. You, girlfriend, live in Korea.

I see you running around the streets of Seoul, pretending not to be affected by the cold, but, girl, who you foolin'?

I see you walking briskly, trying to act like you're in a rush, when you're really just trying to keep your legs from going numb.

I see you walking amidst large crowds, hoping that those bundled up strangers will block out some of the cold.

I see you trying to block the wind with your shopping bags.

I see you huddling with your equally silly girlfriends.

A good pair of tights may keep you warm, but not if you're wearing a mini skirt!

Despite all of that, I know how you're really feeling. I wear about five layers of clothing, and I'm still freezing my bum off. I am admittedly less tolerant of the cold than you are, but look at any of the gentlemen next to you. Do you see any of them in slippers and khaki shorts?

Even the dudes in Cake know better. At the very least, short skirts should be accompanied by a loooooooooooooooong jacket.

Seriously, put some pants on. You're making me feel cold.


23 November 2007

What!?! Thanksgiving?

D'oh! Korea jumped so quickly from Halloween to Christmas that I nearly forgot about Thanksgiving! Mmm....turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, Paula Dean's Butter Cake, turkey tacos... I'll just have to eat twice as much next year. Good plan, Annalog. (Sorry. The lack of turkey causes me to talk to myself).

Even though I may have my complaints, I am grateful to spend this year in Korea. Check out the end of the post to see why I am so thankful.

I miss Thanksgiving, but at least the Motherland celebrates my favorite holiday-- Christmas! Time to fill up the Annalog Musicbox (sidebar) with some holiday tunes! Let me know if you have any requests.

In case you're wondering, you can find all sorts of Christmas decorations on the cheap in Namdaemun.

Cyndi's ready to get her Christmas on!

Annalog Top 10: What I'm Most Thankful for in the Motherland...
(in no particular order)

  1. The phone calls, email, and blog comments from friends and family. Happy Belated Thanksgiving, everybody!
  2. My friends & family, who, despite my lack of email or phone calls, know that I am thinking of them and miss them.
  3. My 이모, 이모부, & 엄마, who all learned how to (sort of) use Skype.
  4. My cousin Cyndi, who decided to join me in my year long adventure in the Motherland, even though she is almost a 계란한판.
  5. Cyndi and her employer, for letting me freeload. Yay to rent-free accommodations!
  6. My sister, who will soon send me a mega package filled with all sorts of goodies.
  7. My cousin Daniel, who, despite continual attempts to extort us for money, has not turned Henney into the Humane Society. Or, at least I don't think he has.
  8. My Korean friends, family, and acquaintances, especially Heng, Nani & Thomas, June, Bo, and Cyndi's Busan clan, for making me feel so welcomed in Korea.
  9. The crazy Seoul moms who are a sucker for brand name diplomas and are willing to pay good money for their children's education, even if the teacher has little formal teaching experience and pays no attention to English grammar rules. :)
  10. The OnStyle Network and tudou.com
Hope you have much to be thankful for as well.
Thanks for reading. 감사합니다.

Also,special birthday shoutout to model/actress/bff IZZY:

20 November 2007


It's snowing!
Call me an ignorant, warm-climate baby, but is it supposed to snow before December? Shouldn't snow come after turkey and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? Does this mean that hell has frozen over or is this one of the consequences of all that global warming that those celebrities keep taking about? I better start driving an electric car and start wearing more green, stat!

The excitement of the first snow made me temporarily forget that I am freezing my booty off in sub-zero (Celsius) temperatures. I'll have to save my cold weather gripes for another day...

The snow is not very thick. It's more like a flurry of slush; similar to Ice Palace, except much, much colder.

Are rain boots appropriate for snowy weather?

Snow makes Cyndi want to dance. Quick! Someone play some "Tell Me."

Who do these little prints belong to?

It's Gummy, the jittery malteseish fashionista.

We are dog sitting for Cyndi's co-worker for the next two weeks. Gummy's dad found her a few weeks ago. It looks like Gummy was abandoned at the park. I know! It's heart breaking to think about the number of dogs abandoned once they've out grown their owner's purses. Dang, that Paris Hilton and her tiny little dogs! She's turned dogs into a trendy accessory.

Gummy is a little paranoid (abandonment issues and all), but she is well-tempered. Everyone say hi or 안녕 to Gummy. She's bi-lingual, and hopes to eventually pick up some Spanish.

Just to warn you, this blog will probably feature a lot more Gummy and a lot less semi-interesting activity. It's too cold to leave the apartment. Plus, I will be swamped with work for the rest of the year! (Sounds so much more dramatic when I put it that way).

16 November 2007

Heng & Joon Celebrate their Love on the Day of Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks

Why would anyone knowingly spend hours at Minto Communitas? To assemble a massive heart formed out of boxes of Pepero, of course!

11/11 is known amongst young Koreans as Pepero Day. Lotte, the makers of these chocolate covered pretzel sticks, have managed to institute a whole day that compels young consumers to purchase and give out massive amounts of Pepero as an expression of love. Pepero Day has become so popular that even bakeries have gotten in on the action by making their own version of Pepero. The one pictured is a loaf of French bread dipped in chocolate. How decadent.

Korea has all sorts of unofficial, yet popular holidays that are driven by some consumer action. Remember "Apple Day?" Created by concerned parents or concerned apple farmers? Cyndi's aunt told me that there's also a samgyupsal day. Now, that sounds like my kind of holiday!

We spent 11/11 celebrating the nuptials of our favorite 언니 in Busan. I know what you're thinking. ANOTHER wedding? What can I say? The year of the pig is apparently the year to get married, and people want to get hitched before it gets too cold. Anyway, you will probably recognize the bride of this wedding (though she may look a little different with her eyelash extensions ㅋㅋㅋ).

The wedding was lovely, but I did observe a few more wedding customs that I've only seen in Korea.

  • Incessant chatter. Throughout the entire ceremony, guests, particularly those standing in the back, gabbed on like they were at a baseball game. The chatter was quite distracting. American bridezillas would not have tolerated such a disruption.
  • The ceremony was officiated by Joon's former college professor. I couldn't understand the majority of what was said, but I did recognize the words, "IBM", "semi-conductor", and "Wi-bro." I wonder if he used those terms metaphorically? May your love prosper like an IBM compatible PC. May the future of your marriage progress like current developments in Wi-bro technology.
  • Bubbles and smoke. The walk down the aisle was further dramatized through the use of bubbles and an artificial smoke machine.
  • Joon and HY cut the cake at the altar, which to my great disappointment, was merely a symbolic gesture. The cake was fake. Fake cake? That's an intolerable cruelty!
  • Joon serenaded his bride at the altar. I once suggested that he bust out some Ne-Yo (because I know that he practices in the car), but he ended up singing a sweet Korean ballad.
  • This was the first time that we stayed through an entire Korean wedding ceremony. We didn't duck out early to eat as is the custom in Korea. That's because we respect HY... and know that she would kill us if we left early :)
By the way 언니, I apologize in advance for messing up the group wedding photos. I tried to take me and my granny coat to the back rows, but people forced me to stand in the front because I'm so dang short.

12 November 2007

"American Slang" - Definitions

Here are the definitions -- verbatim. Well, except for the comments in PURPLE.
  • sweet man (or papa) n phr esp black A male lover. Best be careful with your use of the phrase, "sweet old man", esp black.
  • sweat hog 1 n phr college students A heavy and unattractive woman 2 n phr A sexually promiscuous woman Unattractive, yet promiscuous? The ideal girl for sleazy frat boys across America?
  • Feeb or Feebie n An agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; =G-MAN: the agents of Federal Bureau of Investigation, whom they call "Feebs" --FC Shapiro/ our heroes, the feebs, however --Village Voice/ make sure the Feebies didn't get any credit for it --Patrick Mann I know that this slang was used before Friends, but do you think people in the 80's ever heard of the word "feeble".
  • jiggery-pokery n fr late 1800s British Deception; trickery; =SKULLDUGGERY: could have prevented most of the jiggery-pokery--New Yorker [fr Scottish joukery-paukery fr jouk "trick"] I always thought that Scottish was English with a heavy brogue. I never though of English words (albeit America-English) originating from Scottish.
  • double bagger n esp teenagers A very ugly person; =TWO-BAGGER [fr the fact that one needs two bags to obscure the ugliness, one to go over the subject's head and one over one's own head] Oh, snap!

This edition of American Slang was published in 1987. I was alive for most of the eighties. Granted that it was pretty unlikely for me to encounter slang like "sweet papa" or "sweat hog" on the playground, but I have never encountered any of these terms before. Have you?

Most of these terms are disgustingly derogatory, and I don't plan on using them. But, I have to admit that "double bagger" is pretty amusing.
Yo' mama is a double bagger. She's so ugly that she has to wear a paper bag on her head. Then, for safe measure, I have to put a bag over my head to block out all that ugliness.

10 November 2007

Who orders steak at a cafe?

Cyndi and I tried to eat at the new pho restaurant in our neighborhood, but it was closed by the time we got there. As we were leaving the building, we spotted a cafe/restaurant in the basement. We were intrigued by the cute hand drawn signs and the rustic decor of the entranceway.

The interior was quite homey, with cozy couches and shelves overflowing with books.

Note to self, never let decor let determine your source for dinner.

The Minto house tea tasted like barley at first sip, but left my mouth with an icky aftertaste. I think that this was due to the "minto" part of tea. Whatever it is, I did not like it. Isn't it pretty hard to mess up tea?

Against my better judgment, I ordered the steak. (Who orders steak at a cafe?)
I was filled with a sense of foreboding as I waited for my steak. Or, maybe that feeling of "foreboding" was actually just queasiness caused by all that "minto."

We were surprised when this drink was presented as the "appetizer." Maybe I need to watch more Top Chef, but as far as I know, appetizers do not typically come in a drinking glass. If they do, there's usually some shrimp involved. Sadly, that's not even wine that Cyndi's drinking. It's grape juice.

Before I could even ask, "Where's the beef?" they brought out the entree. The quickness of the service was a little disconcerting. I've waited longer for a hamburger at Arby's. I don't even know if the steak was real beef. I'm pretty sure that the chicken had seen the inside of the microwave at some point in its preparation.

Needless to say, the entree was probably one of the worst dishes I've had in Korea.

The only plus side to the dinner was that I came across an awesome book called American Slang, which according to Dr. Robert Burchfield, editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, the book is "American slang an its rip-roaring, zany, zappy best."

After a quick look through the book, I decided to "borrow" the book for the greater good of the Korean patrons of Minto Communitast. Before you judge my "borrowing" of the book, please take a look at a few examples from "American Slang":

cracker n late 1700s A Southern rustic or poor white
nigger 1 n fr early 1800s A black person 2 modifier: a nice nigger lady
nigger rich adj phr Having much money, esp. suddenly; I'm either nigger rich or stone poor.

The definitions are rather misleading. Can you just imagine a beginning English learner asking an American, "Oh, you're from the South. Were your ancestors crackers?"

I'm not going to even think about the damage an ESL student can unintentionally wreak with the n-word. Plus, the book refers to The City as "Frisco." This is why I've decided to hold on to this book for the remainder of my stay in Korea.

Plus, it will make a good bathroom read.

We're going to Busan this weekend for Heng's wedding, so I won't be posting for a few days. In the mean time, can you figure out the definition of the following terms? I will reveal the definitions when I return.

  • sweet man (or papa)
  • sweat hog
  • Feeb or Feebie
  • jiggery-pokery
  • double bagger

BONUS: Can you guess in what year this book was published?

06 November 2007

Insadong: Well-Being Soju and Batting Practice

이모부: 걱정하지마세요. 학교를 촣아해요. Just sometimes, 학생들이 귀찮아요.

I hate having such a hateful post at the top of my blog, so here are some pics from a recent late night trek to Insadong.

Insadong is well known for its trendy offering of traditional Korean culture. Full of galleries, antique shops, handicrafts, and traditional tea shops, Insadong offers traditional culture with a modern aesthetic. Unfortunately, we got there too late to appreciate any of that.

This is apparently the only Starbucks cafe in Korea with its name written in Hangul. The rest of the cafes feature the name in English.

We stopped in at a little Korean pub and tried some Daepo. It's vaguely similar to white wine, or as Bo unnie explained to me, it's like well-being soju and filled with flowers and ginko biloba... or something like that.

We also ordered a plate of seafood and green onion Korean pancake. I found a piece of plastic in the pancake, so the owner gave us a kimchi pancake.

I was kind of hoping for something a little more different, but who am I to complain about free food?

After eating all those pancakes, we made a quick stop at the batting cages. 500 won (approx. 50 cents) for each round.

Sadly, all that Wii Baseball has done nothing to improve my pathetic batting skills.

Cyndi is the queen of batting. You can tell from her proper stance that she means business.

I think that Bo would make a better outfielder. Or, she'd be really good at dodge ball.

Even though Heng is so gangster, she held the bat very delicately. I think someone's being a little 내숭...

02 November 2007

A Letter from Teacher Annalog

Dear Student,

I do not hate you. On your best days, you are bright, lively, insightful, and fun. On your bad days, too many days, you are duplicitous little mice, who make me regret giving you any cookies.

I hate that you tear at my heart with your pleading eyes and woeful sighs, begging me to give you just five more minutes to study the vocabulary you should have studied at home, or in the car, or while you were eating pizza with your friends. I hate that your stories about how you only got four hours of sleep or how you are overwhelmed with homework are evident on your weary faces. I hate that I inevitably give you your five minutes.

I hate that you beg me to play more games like hangman or watch movies in class, just like your old teacher used to do. I hate that I sacrifice precious, unpaid hours, researching and preparing lessons that are challenging, yet fun and interesting, instead of sleeping in, watching old Top Model reruns, making use of my expensive gym membership, or writing on my blog! I hate that I excitedly bring you a book that I think you'll enjoy because it's scary and has a lot of cuss words, but then you tell me it's too boring and too long after only reading twenty pages. I hate that I spend so much time looking for fun essay topics like, "If you could have any fictional character as your roommate, who would you pick and why?" and you complain that it's too hard because there are just too many options. I hate that I throw in a Mad Lib or a brief game of vocab pictionary when I know morale is low.

I hate that I go easy on you, because I know that your teachers hit you when you misbehave in your day school. I hate that you go home, and tell your mother that the teacher is too lax and does not know how to maintain order in the classroom. I hate that you are the very one who begged me to let the class play! play! play! I hate that you quit my class to go to another academy that definitely won't let you play!, play, or play.

I hate that I understand the parental and societal pressures that drive you. I hate that empathy causes me to focus on all your positive qualities, and positively spin your flaws. I hate that my generous evaluations lead you to believe that you are better than you are. I hate that you (and your mom) surreptitiously convince the front office to move you up a level, when I would have advised otherwise. I hate that you think you are advanced just because you can compose a sentence without error. I hate that you think you're capable of a harder class when you can't produce a proper thesis or analyze literature beyond the obvious. I hate that you want to run a marathon, when you're still learning to walk.

I hate your parents and cultural upbringing for instilling you with the belief that education is a means of getting ahead in life, and not that learning is a way of life. I hate that your privileged life has awarded you a sense of entitlement. Education is not your divine right. It's a privilege. I hate that I can understand why you are the way that you are, but that the American side of me won't easily let me accept that you're the way that you are.

I hate that my kindness and sympathy are seen as weaknesses. I hate that I seek your approval just as much as I want to be a good teacher.

On most days, I do not hate you. I honestly enjoy the challenge of getting you excited about reading and writing in English, and introducing you to new works of literature. On most days, I don't mind giving up sleep, Tyra, or yoga. Sadly, this is not one of those days.

I hope that one day I will be inspired to write you a love letter, but today, I wanted you to know that Teacher is disappointed and a little angry. What's that word I thought you the other day? Fuming.

fume [fyoom] verb to show fretful irritation or anger: The teacher is fuming.

Teacher Annalog