30 May 2008

Banannalog Bread

Most Korean apartments (or at least officetels) do not have ovens. I have to resort to baking in a toaster oven. The toaster oven is great for my Pop Tarts, but it sort of takes the fun out of baking.

A few months back, Heng got a pretty awesome oven by Hauzen (Samsung). It not only serves as a electric oven, but it also can microwave, steam, and dehydrate food. It can probably do your taxes as well.

If my suitcases wouldn't be filled with clothes and Korean stationary, I'd seriously consider investing in a Hauzen oven.

Fortunately, Heng lives across the street from us, so we can bake at her house any time we want. Literally. Cyndi secretly memorized her pass code. :)

We decided to try out my cousin Nani's banana bread. Her banana bread was one of the best that I've tasted. The loaf had a nice crunchy crust, while the bread was soft and flavorful, without being overly sweet.

I asked her for the recipe, and it turns out that she bungled the recipe a bit. Nonetheless, the bread was delicious.

Heng didn't have any white granulated sugar, so we used brown sugar. This change in sugar altered the final product, but our version of the bread was still yummy, if I do say so myself.

The three versions of the banana bread recipe are listed after the video. I recommend Nani's version, but the Banannalog Bread ain't bad either.

Banannalog Bread from Annalog on Vimeo.

Original Recipe (as dictated to me over the phone)
  • 1 1/3 cup of flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 5 1/3 TBS unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of bananas (mashed)
Nani's Version
  • 1 1/3 cup of flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup of unsalted butter (melted)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas (mashed)
Banannalog Bread Recipe
  • 1 1/3 cup of flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup of unsalted butter (melted)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 ripe Korean bananas (mashed)
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (approx. 148 degrees Celsius)
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt), and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Combine the dry mixture with the butter using an electric mixture.
  5. Mix in 2 large eggs.
  6. Fold in the mashed bananas.
  7. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes.
The recipe is deliciously simple. It seems pretty hard to mess up.

Props to my sister for bringing me her handheld electric mixer. It makes baking a lot easier, but I do miss my Kitchen Aid mixer.

Joyce, you better be taking care of my baby!

29 May 2008

Cocktail on the Run

If you are in Kangnam and are in need of a cocktail on-the-go, or perhaps you're running low on vinyl zip bags, then you might be interested in a cocktail from Bomber's. Bomber's is like what we call a taco truck (or manapua truck) back home, except they sell cocktails.

As I mentioned before, there are no restrictions on drinking in public in Korea. You'd think that with the easy access to alcohol, you'd see a lot more public drunkenness in Seoul -- Oh, wait...

I'm not certain if they have a regular schedule, but you can probably find the Bomber's truck on the weekends, parked near Kyobo Tower. Cocktails start at 3000 won.

Ramen in Myeongdong

Cyndi and I finally found a decent ramen place. It just opened up in Myeongdong. The portions are quite large and the price of a dish averages around 8500-9000 won.

We also tried their donkatsu (pork cutlet). They use 목살. I believe that this is supposed to be a selling point, but I do not like neck meat. I can't imagine that anyone would prefer neck meat over the more succulent part of a hog. (Maybe a Cullen?)

If you'd like to check out the place for yourself, it's called Furusato (후루사도). It's above Missha, and right across from 명동교자.

This post has nothing to do with the Motherland.

I was hopping around youtube, when I came across this compilation of openings from popular cartoons in the '80s. I have a tendency to get very nostalgic and say that things were SO MUCH better when I was a kid. However, after watching this video I realize that I'm wrong. Cartoons from the '80s aren't superior to today's selection of cartoons. They simply hooked me at a time when I didn't know any better. In retrospect, cartoons from the 1980s seem like bizarre, overly complex commercials. Don't get me wrong. I still love my '80s cartoons. This realization wouldn't stop me from buying any of these cartoons on DVD. Rather, I'd just think twice before I made any of my future children watch these 'toons.

Who am I kidding? I'm so going to make them watch Jem.

There's also a video for cartoons from the '90s I'm not going to lie. I was still watching cartoons in the 1990s.

It's kind of ironic. Today, it's all about translating comics and animated series to the big screen. In the '90s, it was all about transforming popular movies into a cartoon.

I will conclude with three words for my sister: Samurai...Pizza...Cats...

Also, check out this guy's rendition of one of my favorite theme songs.

28 May 2008

Me Like Monster Diary

My friend Anonymous Monster Boy would like you to check out his Monster Diary. It's primarily intended for younger readers (so feel free to pass the link on to your homies still in elementary school), but it may be enjoyed by all readers -- at least, those who don't mind a little silliness and bad grammar.

Scaling for Men

Cyndi and I were due for a scaling, and Piliksu decided to join us. He actually wanted to go to the DMZ, but changed his mind when he learned that we'd have to trek to Seoul very early in the morning.

Tools of the Trade:
I bet you didn't think that a facial could be so involved.

The doctor lived in L.A. when she was younger, so her English was quite good. I finally got a chance to ask the doctor what "scaling" is. Scaling is basically a light Glycolic Acid mask. She says that the mask is slightly lighter than what you'd get back in the States because Asian skin types tend to be more sensitive. That's true. My skin gets very emotional when I watch sappy movies.

I don't really know any dudes back home who regularly go in for a facial (at least, they won't admit to it). I saw a number of men at the clinic, so I don't think Korean men feel as self-conscious about taking care of their skin.

You'd think that facials or scalings would be more popular with men. I mean, a pretty woman washes and massages your face. I thought men would find such an idea very appealing.

After the peel, they soothe your face with a mask that's appropriate for your skin type. I think they gave Piliksu a "whitening" mask. I'm find it curious that Shrek-green substance "whitens" your skin.

At the end of procedure, they subject you to some sort of laser light show. I'm not sure what it does. I'm hoping it's to the benefit of my complexion, and not part of some top secret science experiment. It took me four scalings before I even realized they did this. I'm usually asleep until the very end.

I've asked Piliksu to send me thoughts on the whole experience. I'll post an update, if/when he responds.

27 May 2008

Passion 5 (Bakery)

After some delicious sushi at Sakanaya in Apkujung, we went with our cousins to Passion 5, an upscale bakery in Hannam (near the entry of Itaewon, across from the Samsung Leeuem Museum). Earlier that day, we had tried Passion 5's lovely puddings. I'm not really into pudding, but between the flavors and the chic bottling, I was hooked. I also tried their "Classic Chocolate Cake" and was quite impressed by it's full flavor and smooth texture. It was definitely a step up above Paris Baguette (not that there's anything wrong with Paris Baguette).

Annalog Eats: Space Kimchee

Last month, South Korea sent its first astronaut to space. Along with Yi So-Yeon, they sent up some space friendly kimchee, because as most Koreans will tell you, it's not a complete meal without the option of kimchee. My cousin Nani had a set of Korean space food on hand, which she received as a "gift with purchase." Though we were a bit wary, we all were curious to check out this innovation in food technology.

I'm sure that Korean astronauts would be grateful for some food from the Motherland, but I can only imagine what foreign astronauts will think when they get a whiff of the kimchee.

Curious about Korean space food? Check out the video. Today's episode stars my lil' cousin Emi, with a cameo by her big sis' Jen. As is the Hollywood way, Cyndi better watch out. She's got competition from a much younger, rising star ㅋ ㅋ ㅋ

26 May 2008

Interview with Ian Oppa

As I mentioned previously, Ian Oppa came to Seoul for a two-week vacation. Given the fact that he was in Korea for a longer period, knows a little more Korean, and is generally more amiable than my sister, I thought he'd offer a different take on his time in Korea.

He's currently compiling his photos, but you can check out his interview below. My comments are in purple.

What was your first impression of Seoul?

Seoul??? I thought I landed in Los Angeles with the smell and the
haze of smog. Other than that, Seoul is like your typical "big city"
with lots of cars and people.

Given your Korean skills, was it easy to get around?
I was surprised that so many people spoke English (or at least
understood it). However, if you don't know how to read or speak some
of the language I would say that it could be pretty difficult to get
around. Because I spoke some Korean, everyone automatically assumed
that I was fluent (which I am nowhere near). I think it would be
better to feign ignorance and just speak English.

Were there any Korean phrases that you wish you knew how to say?
"Hey ajumma, why are you cutting in front of me?"

"Another bottle of beer/soju please." Oh wait, I do know THAT one!

What are a few sights that all first-time visitors should check out?
Everyone should check out Gyeongbokgung Palace because it's really
like going back in time. The changing of the palace guards is a must

Bongeunsa (Buddhist temple - near the Coex, across from the Intercontinental) was very spiritually uplifting. So much so that I now am studying Buddhism. I really lucked out that it was the weekend of Buddha's birthday as the temple was adorned with lanterns and the monks were busy chanting. (On Thursdays @ 2pm, for 10,000 won you can go on an English tour, meditate, and experience a tea ceremony).

What's also so neat about these places is that they are located smack
in the middle of the city amongst the highrises. You can truly see
how time has passed by in history.

How did you like your accommodations?
The Best Western Gangnam was very nice. I had a large single room
with an excellent view of the city toward Seoul (Namsan) Tower. The
restaraunt and bar staff were really friendly (I even made a friend)
as well as the ajummas who cleaned my room. However, that being said,
the front desk people were robotic and emotionless. I would still
recommend this place though because of the location. I just wish that
it was closer to the subway and not up that treacherous hill (my legs
hurt just thinking about it). Me too.

If you had more time, what would you have liked to done?
I would have loved to see the country outside of Seoul. I also would
have gone to the DMZ to look toward North Korea. Oh well, there's
always a next time!

If you had more money, what else would you have liked to buy?
Another suitcase full of UNIQLO!!!

How did it feel to be in the Motherland (or in your case, the Grandmotherland)?
I felt welcomed in Korea. I felt like I somehow belonged there. I
though that I would have experienced more of a "culture shock" but I
just blended in (well almost). Yup, extensive arm tattoos will get you a second glance. Props to you for being tolerant of the gawking.

Seoul versus Bundang? Thoughts?
Bundang (ha ha Bun Dang) was interesting because it has that big city
feel with a lot less people. I can see how people want to live there
because you get to escape the city while still having all the perks of
the city like restaurants galore and the shopping (except no UNIQLO).
Seoul can be daunting with all the people. We may not have a UNIQLO (yet), but we're getting a Din Tai Fong!

Any tips for dudes visiting Seoul?
The more metrosexual you are, the better.

What surprised you about Seoul or Koreans?
Most Koreans are really friendly and polite and I say most because you
will definitely encounter some rude ones. You just have to break
through the exterior of some people and they turn into the nicest

As far as Seoul is concerned, where are the frigging trash cans? I
must have seen about three of them the whole time I was there. I was
shocked to see all the trash on the ground everywhere I went.

What was your favorite neighborhood and why?
I felt comfortable in Gangnam because it seemed central to everywhere
I needed to go. There was shopping (a UNIQLO) and lots of places to
eat and drink. It is also a great place to people watch and see what
people are wearing and how they do their hair. When I would have to
wait for people (cough cough) (미안!), I would just park myself on the side
and watch people pass by. Gangnam has a good mix of people.

What did you think of Korean food?
In Korea, the taste of food is more simple and fresher tasting.
Korean food in Hawaii seems saltier and "thrown together". Except for
those noodles we ate in Hongdae (thanks Cindy) I found the food to be
less spicy than what I'm used to.

Try not to eat "American" food in Korea (i.e. McDonald's, Burger
King), you WILL be dissapointed.

What's with the sweet pickles??? Seriously, what's the deal?

What is your opinion of Korean fashion?
Where do I start? For the most part I think that Koreans are very
well put together. I hardly saw sloppy looking people (sorry to say
this but sloppy as in American sloppy). You can tell that by all the
people staring at themselves in any reflective surfaces, that most
Koreans care about the way they look. But...the dudes need some help.
As Anna says, those shiny business suits are REALLY shiny, almost
disco shiny if you know what I mean. You really have to see it in
person to appreciate what we mean. Unless I was crazy (which some of
you think that I am), I would not be caught DEAD in one of those
suits. As for the ladies, high heels are the norm and that
dumbfounds me. Seoul is not a flat city. Some of the hills and long
blocks give me an asthma attack and yet, there are women in high heels
EVERYWHERE. No wonder all the girls are skinny with killer calves (and corns).

Do you think you would have enjoyed Seoul if you didn't know anyone?
Hanging out with you guys was AWESOME, to say the least, and made my
trip the trip of a lifetime. I think that if I didn't know anyone I
still would have enjoyed the sightseeing , food, and shopping
(UNIQLO). You guys being there was just the icing on the cake. Yay! We were so happy that you could come out and visit!

What will you miss about Seoul?
I will miss hanging out with you guys first of all. There's nothing
like visiting a foreign country and having your friends there. I will
also miss UNIQLO very much (ha ha, I'm not kidding) and the sunglass
vendor in Gangnam. I'm sure that he misses you too. Now, he'll just have to stare at himself in the mirror to console himself.

Any other tips for travelers?
Korea is a country full of culture and a very rich heritage. Leave
your country's thinking behind and think "Korean". Study the language
and the culture because it will make your time there more enjoyable.

Get a T-money card as soon as you can. It is the utmost in
transportation convenience.

Any other comments?
The largest Korean won bill is 10000 ($10) so bring a really fat wallet.

Ian Oppa's Top Ten Highlights:

1. Hanging out with friends (old and new...Piggy included)
2. Bongeunsa temple
3. Changdeokgung and Gyeongbokgung palace
4. Watching drunk salarymen try to kiss and hug each other
5. Shopping!!!
6. Namsan Tower
7. Going to my first "pro" baseball game (our team lost)
8. Eating at "Imo chib" (Insadong)
9. Having my fortune read at a saju cafe
10. Korean Airlines (it really is a great airline)

The Lowlights:

1. The pollution in Seoul (on the streets and in the air)
2. Pushy ajummas
3. Eating beondegi (could also be considered a highlight)
4. Passing by a bosintang restaraunt in Hongdae
5. The men's room of some restauraunts (oh the SMELL!)

Doughnut Plant

I've been wanting to check out Doughnut Plant in Myeongdong for awhile now, though that was primarily because I thought it was called "Doughnut Planet." We went there rather late, so they seemed to have sold out a number of their flavors.

Perhaps the donuts that they had in stock where there for a reason, because I have to say I wasn't impressed.

I was greatly looking forward to trying the doughnuts, because the menu featured all sorts of interesting options like PB&J and Valhorna Chocolate. They even have square-shaped doughnuts!

For some reason, I decided to skip the doughnuts and try out the sticky bun. It was 땡겨ing me. Bad call, Annalog.

Cyndi had the "Blackout," inspired by the rich chocolate cake of the same name. It wasn't that bad. I think it tasted more like a cupcake. It definitely tasted better than the One cupcakes from Shinsegae.

I had the "Sticky Bun." It lacked flavor, and was a bit on the dry side.

Piliksu had the "Vanilla Bean" doughnut, the so-called no. 1 selling doughnut. For a ring of dough saturated in oil, it was very dry. It was possibly the worst doughnut I've ever tried.

After perusing the Doughnut Plant website, I realized why I did not find the doughnuts to my liking:


Despite the disappointing doughnuts, I'm sure that people will be be drawn to this hip-looking doughnut boutique. I saw another Doughnut Plant being built somewhere else in Seoul (Kangnam? Shinchon? I can't recall), so I think you can count on them to ride this current wave of doughnut mania in Korea, a trend which I hereby deem dollyu.

25 May 2008

"So Hot"

In case you're not in the k-pop loop, I predict that this will be the next big song. You better start learning the dance before it's all over youtube.

I'm going to even say that this song will be UBIQUITOUS. Koreans (not to mention the rest of the free world) love a beat that will get over-sexualized adolescents in minis to shake their booties.

Plus, the lyrics are just so darn cheeky.

조용히 살고 싶은데 에 에
다른 여자애들 처럼 엄 엄
엄마는 왜 날 이렇게 낳았어
내 삶을 피곤하게 하는지
I'm so hot
난 너무 예뻐요
I'm so fine
난 너무 매력있어
I'm so cool
난 너무 멋져
I'm so so so hot hot
This is sure to be the summer anthem for girls across Seoul. It's definitely Piggy's.

"So Hot" - Wonder Girls

23 May 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

The new Indiana Jones film premiered today in Korea. I've been a fan of the Indiana Jones films since my dad bought the VHS tapes at Burger King (Yeah, I know. Random.), so I definitely had to see Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in theaters. Perhaps Indiana Jones is just much more exciting on VHS, but I must regretfully report that the fourth installment was quite a disappointment.

Here's my synopsis (I don't know what you've read online, but I may reveal a few spoilers. Don't worry though. I won't reveal anything big):

The film starts off in Nevada, 1957. Soviet soldiers overtake a U.S. military base that has conveniently been evacuated for top secret weapons testing. The soldiers pop open the trunk of one of their vehicles to reveal Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford, duh) and his British cohort, George "Mac" McHale (played by an actor that I don't recognize). Both men are bound and bruised. The Soviet agents, led by a raven-haired Cate Blanchett, force Indy to track down a particular crate in a warehouse of thousands of crates. With the help of a mysteriously strong (yet selective) magnetic force, Indy manages to track down the crate. The crate reads, "Roswell" and contains a metal coffin. They open the coffin, and unfortunately, it's not Max Evans. Instead, within the coffin lies a mangled non-human corpse. Then, cue the theme song, and it's time for Indy's first big action sequence. Indy eventually manages to evade the grasps of those evil Commies thanks to a NUCLEAR BOMB!?!

Indy survives and is taken in for questioning by government agents in suits. Thanks to the big Commie Crackdown of the 1950s, Indy is suspected of being a Communist sympathizer and as a result, is asked to take an extended leave of absence from his teaching position. Now, this plot point I just described isn't very important, but they seemed to make a big deal out of it in the film, so I thought I'd mention it as well.

On his way out of town, Dr. Jones is stopped by a greaser on a motorcycle, named Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeouf; BTW, this kid is a total star.). Mutt tells Jones that Indy's dear friend, Professor Harold Oxley (John Hurt) is in trouble. Oxley, or as Mutt calls him "Ox," has been on the hunt for a mysterious crystal skull, but has gone missing -- but not before sending out a cryptic letter c/o of Mutt's mother. Indy looks at the cryptic message and quickly discerns that Ox went to Peru, possibly in search of El Dorado, the mythical city of gold.

Now, hold on to your hats. This is when the story gets a little more convoluted. Basically, Indy & his snappy new sidekick, Mutt trek through Latin America in search of Ox and his big secret find. Of course, you can't keep Cate Blanchett or the Commies down, so they are hot on Indy's trail. Essentially, all of these folks are after a creepy quartz skull that is supposed to be the key to all the knowledge in the world. Or something like that.

Cue the music, Mr. John Williams!

- End of synopsis -

As I mentioned at the start of the post, the movie is disappointing. Don't get me wrong. It was entertaining. The humor, action, and structural puzzles were all there. You should definitely see it. It's just that everything seemed over the top. Perhaps I'm waxing nostalgic, but the previous Indy films were fun, yet still maintained a sense of drama and historical resonance. Crystal Skull just seemed silly and rife with implausibilities (even more so than the previous Indy films).

I will probably continue to watch any film in the Indian Jones (especially if the rumors about Nathan Fillion are true), but I have to ask: Spielberg & Lucas, what were you thinking?

Here are my top 10 gripes about the film (in no particular order):
1) The font of the opening credits. I almost missed the title due to the lame typeface. What happened to the bold "Indiana Jones" font?

2) Harrison Ford is old! I know that it's been awhile since the last Indy film, but DANG! He's old. He did his thing during the action sequences, but I better not see him as the lead in Indy 5.

3) An uninteresting villain. Cate Blanchett was wasted on such a shallow villainess. First of all, what's the deal with a Stalin loyalist that's heavily into the paranormal. What is this? Hellboy? I thought that the villains in the first film were much more interesting. Remember the bald guy that pulled out people's hearts? Or, that conflicted blonde Nazi woman? They were dastardly, but interesting.

4) Mutt's hairdo. I understand that it's the 50s, and that lead characters need some sort of idiosyncrasies, but Mutt's excessive hair primping was distracting and cheesy.

5) Crystal skull? Enough said.

6) Creepy CG animal creatures. The gophers I could tolerate. The ants were kind of interesting. But, the monkeys? Oh, no you didn't. The monkeys were wrong. Like Jar Jar Binx wrong.

7) Three waterfalls? Can a boat-car of five people really survive three waterfalls?

8) The mythology. It was a little difficult to keep the facts straight. There were too many crystal skulls.

9) The big crystal skull scene. I don't want to reveal any more, but I'm sure you'll be rolling your eyes after the big scene. You sort of know where the film is heading, but when it finally gets there, you'll find yourself asking, "Really? This is it?"

10) The romantic ending. Gag me with a spoon. So out of character, Dr. Jones.

I will always be a fan of Indiana Jones. I'll just have to rank Crystal Skull as number four on my Indian Jones list.

22 May 2008

PMS: Thumbs Up!

Korean men are brave. American men tend to lay low when it's their woman's time of the month. Korean men on the other hand, have boldly decided to embrace the most sensitive time of a woman's cycle, or as we call it back in the homeland, PMS.

The poster says it all. When it comes to aches, moodiness, cravings, headaches, fatigue, bloating, severe cramping, and not to mention, heightened aggression, Korean men say, "Thumbs Up. We're here for you, babe."

I looked up this PMS, and it seems that PMS stands for "Pre-medical School," not "Premenstrual Syndrome." You'd think that a pre-med school would be familiar with premenstrual syndrome. On the other hand, according to a naver search, the Korean word for PMS appears to be 월경증후군. (Is that right, Heng 선생님?) That is quite different from "PMS."

21 May 2008

Saju Cafe: Your Destiny is written in a tiny little book

While Ian Oppa was here, we took him to a saju cafe in Shinchon. Saju means "fortune," so as you can probably guess, a saju cafe is a place where you order up a beverage along with your fortune. Or, more accurately, you are forced to purchase a drink in order to get your fortune told.

The fortune tellers are specially trained to read (interpret?) your fortune from what looks like a really worn book of Chinese characters. You must provide your birth date and birth time (Some fortune tellers will ask for your birth information according to Korean time). Then, the fortune teller scribbles down a few illegible characters into her notebook. From these few scribblings, she can then tell you about your personality, health, love life, and finances.

Cyndi & I have been to a couple of saju cafes (usually with Bo Unnie). It's sort of become a hobby. Some people golf. We get our fortunes told. Some people take fortune telling very seriously. I've determined that I go because I'm narcissistic and enjoy hearing about myself. I also believe, or would like to believe, that my birth date and time have some effect on the person that I am.

That's definitely how I felt when we got our fortunes told at Hera, a saju cafe in Shinchon. In addition to a tarot card reading, there are several saju options at Hera. We all debated between the one-year fortune (10,000 won) and the whole-life fortune (20,000). Ian-Oppa went all-in and decided to go for the whole-life fortune. After we heard the eerie accuracy of Ian-Oppa's fortune, Cyndi & I immediately followed suit.

I won't go into the details of Ian Oppa's fortune, but I will say that almost everything she said rang true. She even spoke of a few issues that Ian-Oppa had never even discussed with us. We kept staring at her little notebook and thinking to ourselves, "You got all of that from a few Chinese characters?"

My fortune was also quite accurate and in line with what I've heard from other sajus. I think what particularly stood out about this particular saju is her manner of speaking. She spoke with an authority, and offered more details than I've received from prior readings. Most of what she said were things that I already knew about myself, but hearing her say what she said without any prompting from me was still pretty trippy.

With the success of Ian-Oppa's reading, we decided to take Piliksu to Hera earlier this week. I don't think his reading was as dead-on as Ian-Oppa's, but it wasn't far-fetched either. Piliksu gave me permission to post about his reading, so chingus back home, you can tell me what you think about his reading.

Piliksu's Saju:
  • His face and fortune indicate that he is very lucky, particularly when it comes to money.
  • He is very interested in making money.
  • He gets bored with women very easily.
  • He is sensitive.
  • He's close to his mom. His mother brings him luck, so he should always be good to her.
  • He also has "wife luck." He will likely marry a woman that is older than him. His future wife will also bring him luck (e.g., money).
  • He needs a wife that will take care of him.
  • His future wife will be Asian-American.
  • He will have one son (The saju does not reveal if and how many daughters he will have).
  • He should invest his money (particularly in real estate) or else money will keep going out. His wife may be a big factor in this out flow of cash.
  • She could tell that he had started new job a year or to ago. His new job was a good move.
  • However, Felix will not be at this company long term. When he's around 35 or so, he'll want to venture out on his own, and perhaps get involved with trade or technology.
  • His body is weak, so he must exercise regularly.
  • He should also avoid drinking, because he has a weak liver.
  • Since he was born in the winter, his body seeks heat (i.e., alcohol). Thus, he can drink a lot.
  • Rainy days make him want to drink.
  • He should NOT live in China. If he lives in Asia, he needs to live in warm climates, such as Singapore or Malaysia.
  • She advised him to avoid lending money to friends. This will be hard, since he is a generous guy.
I can't recall everything that the saju said, but she did keep emphasizing that there was a lot of money and luck in his fortune. So ladies, if you're in your early 30's, are caring, and of Asian descent, please holla at our friend, Piliksu (Don't worry. That's not his real name)

As for the rest of you, if you're interested in getting your fortune told, Hera is located behind the Hyundae Department store, heading towards Edae and Choi's Tacos. It's in a building or two after Mr. Pizza. It's in the same building as Lovely Bar(?). Unfortunately, the saju woman only speaks Korean. Don't forget to pick up a stamp card. You get a free tarot card reading after six saju sessions.


Our friend Piliksu was in town for a couple of days. Following Heng's suggestion, (even though she has yet to see the show), we decided to check out Jump a "Comic Martial Arts Performance." To be honest, I wasn't initially interested in seeing Jump, but it was rainy and cold that evening, so an indoor activity sounded good to me. I'm so glad that we went. It was highly entertaining.

I'm not going to bother to give you a detailed synopsis of the story. You don't go to a "Comic Martial Arts Performance" for the plot line. Essentially, the show is a four act play that centers around a dynamic family of martial artists who welcomes a special guest to their home.

WARNING: The show opened with this really annoying old man character. He was the equivalent of that squirrel in Ice Age who desperately sought an acorn. You'll either find the old man's schtick amusing or incredibly annoying. If you feel the latter, don't worry. The show will get better.

The show has been compared to a sitcom, and I'd agree with that comparison. Based on what I saw on an episode of The Cosby Show (Dr. Huxtable takes Rudy & friends out for a fancy lunch and show), I'd also compare Jump to a long vaudeville act.

As the number of foreign tourists will attest to, you don't need to know any Korean to appreciate the show. The dialogue is very sparse, and when the characters do speak, they usually speak in simple English. The physical comedy is exaggerated and silly, but I have no complaints. The martial arts displayed on the small stage was also very impressive. The characters may be goofy and over top, but these performers are serious athletes.

Though there is a bit of adult humor (The mother character is quite frisky), this show is appropriate and enjoyable for all ages (Except for infants and toddlers. I don't think infants enjoy martial arts comedies unless a Teletubby is involved).

I also enjoyed the interaction with the audience. Pretty Korean girls and white males seated towards the front be warned. You may be pulled on stage. Don't worry though. Your bit is sure to get lots of laughs.

Tickets sell for 40,000 won or 50,000 won. The theater is small, so your seat shouldn't matter. With just 10,000 difference, we decided to go for the front seats.

According to the show's English brochure, you should "[g]o see this show and take all your family and friends too. They will love you forever." That's a pretty lofty promise. I don't know if Jump will solve all your mommy issues, but it is pretty enjoyable, so it's worth a shot.

Be sure to hang on to your ticket stub, so that you can get 20% off tickets for Breakout, an "extreme dance comedy." Oh yeah. I'm so there...

Also, you can stick around after the show for autographs and pictures with the cast. Cyndi & I got a picture with the burglar with the 'fro, who aside from the Mother, was my favorite character.

The IBK Jump Theater is in Jong-no. You can purchase tickets at the theater or call (02) 722-3995 for ticket reservations.

For readers back in the homeland, you can also experience Jump on Broadway.

Sticky Palooza

May seems to be the month of visitors. Unfortunately, neither Cyndi nor I are very good tour guides. Fortunately, we seem to learn a little more with each visitor. I'll be sure to post more about our outings, including visits to a fortune teller, a martial arts comedy show, and food!

We may not be great tour guides for Seoul, but Cyndi & I are gradually becoming experts on the art of sticky pics. As Ian Oppa pointed out, I have a tendency to fill the pics with all sorts of stamp vomit, but I'm learning to simplify.

Visitor #1: Cyndi's Bro, Dani Henney (I think that he vaguely looks like Korean actor, So Ji Sub. Of course, Cyndi strongly disagrees.)

Visitor #2: Ian Oppa was here for two weeks, so we made him take two sticky pics.

Visitor #3: Our most recent visitor, Piliksu was only here for three days, but we still made him a sticky pic. We also added an ominous message for our friends back in the homeland: "Coming Soon to America..."

16 May 2008

Cyndi Gets Lasek

It's been two days since her LASEK surgery, and Cyndi still seems to be experiencing some significant discomfort. She was instructed to keep her eyes closed as much as possible. That means she either sleeps or listens to the ambient noises of Bundang.

Cyndi eyes are quite swollen; probably because tears seem to flood out of her eyes every time she cracks them open.

I feel bad for Cyndi, though not bad enough that I didn't pester her for an interview immediately after her surgery...

One more note about the surgery: the doctor and nurse did not wear shoes while in the operating room. The nurse just simply wore her stockings. Is that typical in Korean operating rooms?

15 May 2008

Happy Teacher's Day to Me

I did not realize it was Teacher's Day in Korea until I saw all the flowers and gifts that my colleague received. My co-worker is an awesome teacher and she totally deserves all of her gifts, if not more. I can't say that I am as noteworthy of a teacher, but I definitely deserve at least a "Happy Teacher's Day, Teacher." Sadly, I received zilch. Those ungrateful little...

I've decided that I'm going to applaud myself: Good job, Teacher Annalog! You are awesome! I may not be the best teacher, but I'm certainly better than that old guy who whacks students with a ruler!

Thus, I've decided to post an excerpt from an email that I received from one of my students. (I should mention that I'm leaving my current hagwon, because my cousin has decided to open up her own hagwon.) This student refers to me as his "best teacher." I'm not sure what kind of monsters may have taught him in the past, but I'll take the title of "best teacher," no questions asked.

Big ol' pat on the back:

Teacher Annalog,
... I will miss you because you was the best teacher I have met since i was a baby. You were the teacher in ____________ Academy, and i was afraid at first. Maybe it

could be the feacher of American, but i liked your mind to accept all the idea of students even it is strange things. And you improved my mind also in accepting other's ideas...

The next time some kid refers to me as the devil, I'm going to stuff this email in his or her face and say, "Best teacher SINCE HE WAS A BABY! You better recognize."


As I mentioned previously, Cyndi decided to undergo LASEK surgery. In fact, she's having the surgery done right this instant! I just watched her get her right eye done, and the doctor is now working on her left eye. I was going to document the whole procedure with my camera, but the nurse wouldn't let me. Instead, I watched the surgery from the observation window. Here's what I saw:

As Cyndi lay quietly on the surgical bed, I watch the nurse prep. I see her fill up what looks like really gnarly looking syringe needles with some clear liquid gel. My heart immediately starts thumping. They're going to stick Cyndi's eyeballs with those really long needles? Ack!

First she wipes down the facial area near Cyndi's eyes. Then the doctor uses a scary looking clamp to hold open Cyndi's right eye. Next, the nurse grabs one of those horrific needles and holds it over Cyndi's eye. Fortunately, she simply uses the syringe to squeeze liquid all over Cyndi's cornea. Cyndi's pupil shrinks to the size of her mole. Then, they add more clear liquid. Now her eyeball is drowning in some unidentified liquid. I'm hoping it's some sort of anesthetic.

BUT THEN, the doctor uses some sort of metal scraping tool to scratch off a transparent layer which I presume is the clear gel that they squirted on a few seconds ago. However, it could totally be a layer of Cyndi's eyeball! I don't know. I'll have to ask her.

Once all the scraping is done, the lights dim and it's time for some laser action. I'm not sure what is going on, but I look at Cyndi's feet. She doesn't seem to be writhing in pain, so I'm assume the laser is all right. They seem to laser for about 30 seconds. Then, they quickly cover Cyndi's cornea with a damp cotton swab. Dab. Dab. Dab. Squirt more clear magic eye juice. Now, it's onto the next eye!

This is when I decide to somewhat live blog what I observed. I'm using the computer in the waiting room, but now my back is to the operating room. I don't know what's going on with the left eye, but I assume it's similar to what went on with the left eye.

If Cyndi's up to it, I'll get her to do a post-op video interview.

-Let me go check on Cyndi. The right eye took less than 10 minutes, so her left eye must be done by now -

Yup, she's done. Now they're just wiping down the exterior eye area. It's a good thing that she removed her eyelash extensions (even if her eyes look a little naked)

I have to go check on the patient. I'll post more later.

14 May 2008

Iron Man

Sometimes I’m a bit baffled by the choice of American films released in Korea. For example, the Don Cheadle flick Talk to Me has just made it to Korean theaters – a year after its original release date! Meanwhile, I have yet to find Forgetting Sara Marshall or Baby Mama on the streets of Kagnam. Fortunately, you can always count on mega blockbusters like Iron Man to pervade Asian theaters in a timely manner.

Iron Man was a pleasant surprise. For those of you who are living under a rock, here’s a synopsis:

Tony Sparks is an ingenious inventor who’s made millions of dollars selling his weapons of mass destruction to the military, or so he thinks. (BTW, He is also a 바람둥이). During a business trip to an arid (Is it politically incorrect if I say the Middle East?) terrorist country, he’s captured by an ethnically unspecific group of insurgents. The terrorists give him an ultimatum: Build us your latest missile, or you die. Of course, Sparks agrees to build the missile. However, while cleverly pretending to build the weapon—actually, he doesn’t even pretend. Rather than building the missile, he openly builds a protective suit that surpasses anything that Inspector Gadget could ever build.

I should also mention that during his abduction, Sparks had shrapnel lodged in his chest. Fortunately, an adorable little doctor manages to save Sparks by installing some magnetic generator thing in his chest, which Tony later replaces with a glowing orb. Anyway, I think the point of the glowing yo-yo in his chest is to power the iron suit.

Ok, let’s fast forward. With the suit, Tony manages to escape and set off a lot of bombs. The U.S. military then finds Tony. Tony returns to Malibu with a complete change of heart. He no longer wants to make weapons that will be used to kill people. Rather, he decides to build a titanium suit that will enable HIM to kill BAD people. As Tony tries to perfect his new suit, the terrorists back in the desert get a hold of Tony’s original designs (Dude, you couldn’t even burn the designs for your suit?) and set out to build their own iron suit.

I’ve sort of simplified the conflict a bit, but I don’t want to give too much away. All I have to say is, it is a general rule of thumb in action movies to be wary of bald men.

In case you’re not into action films, the movie also features a love story between Tony Sparks and army colonel Jim Rhodes, played by Academy Nominee Terrence Howard. Jim Rhodes is in charge of the weapons division for the U.S. military, yet Tony Sparks has sworn off creating weapons for the military. Will Tony’s newfound pacifism tear the bros apart? Will Tony’s secret push Rhodes away?

The film is quite entertaining. It’s humorous and action-packed, and features a winning cast. I especially like the robot characters. I’m normally not a Gywneth Paltrow fan, but she was quite likable as Tony Spark’s indispensable assistant. Her outfits were also killer. Though, I wish they did a better job with her hair color. Robert Downey is how he usually is: sardonic and charismatic, yet looks like he needs another stint in rehab. My only gripe about this film, and I suppose most other action films, is the big battle sequence. I hate it when the hero tries to save the world, while devastating half of the city in the process.

If you stick through until the end of the incredibly long credits, you’ll see a teaser for the next film. I’m not going to tell you what I saw, because, dagnabbit, if I had to sit through the whole credits, then, so must you! All I’ll say is this: Samuel Jackson.

I’m looking forward to the sequel.

12 May 2008

Thunder Burger

If you're craving an In-N-Out burger, you can get a rough approximation at Thunder Burger in Itaewon. I was pleasantly surprised. The burger is pretty similar, minus the annoying Thousand Island Dressing.

Get off at Noksapyeong Station. Take exit 2. You'll have to cross the street (the crosswalk should be to your right if you're facing the traffic). Then, walk up the street for a bit. It's next to the TACO restaurant.

If the taxi driver asks, I'm Japanese-Canadian

I usually try to avoid taking a taxi on my own, because inevitably I'll receive some form of lecture on how I need to learn Korean.

As soon as I open my mouth, the driver immediately knows that I'm not a native Korean. The first question is usually, "Are you Japanese?" When I reveal that no, I am from America, the ensuing conversation usually leads to fact that I'm ethnically Korean.

Of course, the driver will then ask me why my Korean is so awful. Then, in my limited Korean, I'll try to justify (to this complete stranger) my limited knowledge of the mother tongue. Ultimately, I leave shame-faced, with a stinging reminder that I must improve my Korean.

Though the tone of driver may range from well-intentioned to patronizing, I usually leave the cab feeling sheepish and disappointed in myself. :(

This is why I've decided to stop admitting that I'm Korean. I'm just going to speak completely in English. English will definitely squelch any possibility of dialogue (or in my experience, driver's monologue). I usually try to speak Korean for the driver's convenience, but I will do this no more. I will speak in long-winded sentences and make YOU feel uncomfortable and ignorant, Mr. Know-it-all Taxi Ajusshi!

Also, given the current hullabaloo over the importation of U.S. beef it's become imprudent to mention my nationality as well. Utter the words, "I am American" and it's likely that some irate taxi driver will launch into an impassioned lecture about the terrors of American beef.

That's what happened this weekend. Heng, Cyndi, and I caught a cab in Kangnam, and it was possibly one of the longest cab rides of my life. Before I go into the details, I should note that not all taxi drivers are like our driver. Korean taxi drivers can be very opinionated, but this man was particularly extreme. As Heng told me, "Ignore everything that man said. He is very uneducated." That's for sure.

When the driver heard Cyndi and I speaking in English, he immediately launched into red alert. When he learned that we are Korean, he immediately asked us why we weren't speaking in Korean. "You're in Korea. Why aren't you speaking in Korean?" he barked.

As I cowered silently in the backseat, Heng promptly responded, "They were born in America, so they speak in English." The man did not like this answer. He then launched into some rant about American pushing diseased beef on Korea, eventually concluding with the fact that America is violent and unsafe. (Yeah, much unlike the situation in the taxi).

I hate having this discrepancy between my speaking and listening skills. I understood the bulk of what the taxi driver was saying, but lacked the ability to respond. For example, when he asked us, isn't it true that there are protective barriers between the driver and passengers in most American taxis?", I wanted to respond, "Not in all cabs, but I sure wish we had one in this cab." Instead, I just directed some "stink eye" at the back of his head, while Cyndi politely answered his question.

Ignorant b.s. is universal. I'll find it at every point between the Motherland and the Homeland, but it's particularly frustrating when I'm defenseless and unable to respond to such hogwash. I would have loved to politely respond to his remarks, but my stock phrases of 괜찮아요 and 아니요 simply wouldn't have cut it this time.

Though these opinionated taxi drivers will forever be burned into my memory, I must note that I've also experienced a number of non-threatening drivers. These drivers should MYOB and drive in silence. Frankly, I rather have a driver who is distracted by the Korean drama streaming on his GPS system, than an attentive driver who tries to converse with me.

Though I am not a fan of their conversation skills, I will admit to one thing that I admire (and fear) about Korean taxi drivers. Foreigners are often worrying about getting swindled by a taxi driver who will take them on a roundabout route. I've never had to worry about a driver trying to extend the ride in an effort to raise the fare. In my experience, Korean drivers try to get to the final destination as quickly as possible. They run red lights, switch lanes like a maniac, and make crazy turns because they are VERY impatient. Their road rage may be frightening, but they can drive from Bundang to Kangnam in under fifteen minutes.

07 May 2008

Laser Hair Removal Update

Cyndi & I went back for our second laser hair removal treatment. I'm happy to say that it was not painful at all. Also, both Cyndi and I have noticed a significant decline in hair growth. My sister tried to scare me by saying that the laser could mess up the glands(?) in my under arm, but so far I haven't noticed any side effects.

The procedure may have also been less painful due to the use of a machine that blows cold air onto the lasered area. I sure wish they had this machine last week.

The only drawback to this whole experience is dealing with the poor customer service. These people are possibly some of the least friendly people I've met in Korea thus far. Typically, Korean customer service has been excellent, particulary in the aethetics industry. Unfortunately, these ladies are rough and gruff. I know I may seem very young, but it is still customary for people in the service industry to use formal Korean. The woman who was working on me used 반밀 (informal Korean). I was quite peeved. I am a paying customer. I better hear some ~iminidas or ~yos.

As exciting as it is to hear about the status of my under arm hair, I probably won't blog about the laser treatments until it's all said and done.

Speaking of lasers, Cyndi's going to get LASEK surgery done next week. I was considering the waveform LASIK surgery, but I chickened out. I'm going to let Cyndi try it out first...ㅋㅋㅋ

There's just something about Korea that makes you want to undergo cosmetic procedures.