Do you want sauce with that?

My friend Bryan and I tried to put this to right whilst waiting on the bus the other night.

One of the things you often get asked if you live overseas is “what do you miss from home?”. You know, the wee things that make life just that bit more tolerable. Or, something that’ll help you get from one ‘parcel’ to the next. I remember when I first came to Korea it was nigh on impossible to find or buy simple, everyday items like deodorant (Korean’s don’t use it), or spices for cooking, or for choice of a better word, Western-styled restaurant food (just for a change from Korean food). These days, different story. I don’t smell as much. I use celery salt, fennel seeds, and I don’t know what I’d do without the quintessential ground oregano when I’m following Jamie or Gordon’s shitty awesome recipes (yes, Ramsey and Oliver are both on TV here too). And of course, the vast array of foreign restaurants in and around Seoul is staggering compared to what it used to be.

That said, we decided that #1 on our list (for that night at least) would be the Fish Supper. There’s a new restaurant opened near my house, something like ‘Sydney Fish’n’Chips’. Ate their once, it was decent, reasonably priced, but something was still missing. Maybe it was in the name? Who’s Sydney?

As we stood there waiting, we regaled ourselves with where we could find the best one ( B-Anstruther -good- but over-priced. C- somewhere in Ayrshire- Girvan maybe?), and how there’s nothing quite like seeing it wrapped up meticulously in paper, then newspaper. Why you should never have condiments put on it before you get home (with the exception of salt and vinegar of course).  The waft of freshly cooked fish, the big fat chips, good but not too crispy batter, unwrapping the paper, then diving in. Simplicity itself.

With that sorted,  and it being the Festive season, we decided to see if we could find 3 Wise Men and a Virgin on our way to Itaewon. Not a chance. So we ended up in Stompers instead.

Over several beers , shots, and open-mic styled renditions of Xmas favourites, we then decided that we also missed the proper pronunciation of things. Ecclefechan, Culzean, Auchtermuchty, Tighnabruaich, Sanquhar, Scone, and, well I think you get the drift.  Feeling just a bit more self-righteous with ourselves, we left our drinking partners to muddle over the meaning of  shoogly, puggled and aufurfuksake and their apparent inability to make whole sentences just by using swear words.

There’s work still to be done…




Leading from the front

Ever thought what it’d be like to be in a powerful position? I don’t mean the run-of-the-mill kind of power. The telling kids to do this and that kind of power. Or shouting at the dog but he still gives you a look like you’ve just shown him a card trick power. I mean the leader of the country kinda power. Top banana.

I got up this morning to the news that North Korea weren’t happy with The South (and all their evil pals) as they were being sent anti-Pyongyang propaganda from across the dmz by balloon. Sounds like a more fun way to wind up your neighbour I must say. I can just picture the scene where the balloons will contain dvd’s with Chaplin-like skits (think ‘The Great Dictator’ meets Mr Bean – Korean’s love Mr Bean), and ribbons (they’re all the rage) with “KJI’s rubbish” or “My Hyundai’s better than yours…” on it. A bit of jesting, mild ribbing to the start the weekend with. That’s all it was, but then I saw this and thought they should lighten up a bit. No chance of that.

If it wasn’t enough to wonder why they couldn’t share a joke or a cup of tea (green or breakfast would do), then this was the straw the broke this camels back. Why don’t they save their idle (hopefully) threats for a Monday morning and just piss people off even more.? I mean, come on, lighten TF up!

So, as the day went on I got to wondering what exactly fills up the days of the great and the good, and I came across this and this 


Talk about far out…

I remember seeing Fats (we were on first name terms back then) Domino in a bar/club in Orlando, Florida in ’93 or ’94, but I never thought I’d see a world leader ‘covering’ his most well-known song in such a way.  What was worse were all the ‘celebs’ fawning over themselves and ‘really diggin it’. Kinda gave me the boak…

Food for thought don’t you think? Why don’t you write your local/regional/state/national representatives and ask them how they fill their days? You may be surprised.

Always on the hunt for something new to listen to and didn’t feel too bad when I saw the Guardian’s Top 40 list Albums of and I knew or heard or listened to 7 of them. There was probably a time when it would have been 33 and 7 but I guess it’s not that easy keeping up with the cool cats, hipsters, or muppets that write for The Guardian’s music section. (BTW, my numbers were 1, 4, 13, 20, 24, 29, 35)

Still, having heard of Janelle Monae, I felt good about that. Check out the video 

I liked the old school ‘concept’,  her voice, the (excellent) band, the routine, and a bit of an homage to James Brown towards the end (3:00 onwards), all good stuff.

Speaking of James Brown, there was a guy who liked to lead from the front. When he spoke everyone else listened. Even the French took heed 

Levez-vous my friends…

I’ll smash you in the face-book…

I haven’t read Time magazine for a very long time. In my last job we had a teachers room that always smelled of sour milk, kimchi, and spicy chickpea curry. It got worse when you opened the fridge door. A bit like that scene in Se7en where Brad wonders whats in the box?

All the teachers had a mailbox, and a seperate, sort of front-opening box where you could put your paperwork, supplements, and all the crap you collected over the months and years. In one of the extra boxes there was a huge collection of Time magazines. I guess the university subscribed to it? From time to time I’d peruse through them, pick something of interest from the tatty bunch, then bring it back the next week. I guess it was curiosity (and getting another perspective on world events) that made me pick them up, but I never really ‘got it’. Isn’t this kind of thing what newspapers are for?

Back then, the internet was not as super-duper fast and groovy as it is these days. There wasn’t as much content (at least the kind I was legitimately looking for) back then as the behemoth-esque creations Facebook, Google and Youtube were probably in their infancy. Nothing could be further from the truth today though. Time magazine have just named Mark Zuckerberg person of 2010, and if you don’t know who he is, let me ‘poke’ you in the right direction. Got it yet? Yes? No?

He’s the guy behind Facebook. In his own words, a socially inept loner and not a great people person. How cool is that? Creating something that you hate. A bit like Oppenheimer. He never won Time’s award. Did he?

Hey, I’m sure being a billionaire will help get over that part now, eh? Probably not? In fact, who cares. He’s created something that now has over 500 million users worldwide and employs over 1700 people. I guess he’s doing something right? Facebook is something that all of us will either use directly (or not as the case may be), or will at least be aware of. I don’t think it’s that bad and maybe use it for 10-15 minutes every day. It doesn’t influence my decisions on what to buy, who to talk to, or who to like. It’s just a social network tool that I use to look at complete strangers holiday snaps.

I’m sure there are more worthy winners of the award. The Chilean miners spring to mind. At least there was some humanity to that story, something we could relate to. Not just some faceless, Harvard graduate who ‘wants to  make the world more open connected’. If that’s the case, please stop sending me requests for Farmville, or Mafia Wars, or any other nonsense that you deem ‘entertaining’.

Coincidentally, this video has been doing the rounds the past few days and I thought I’d share it with you.

It was written by someone I know over here in Korea. He’s from Ballachulish and is a talented fella. I don’t think those two comments are coincidental. He’s giving you something to think about. Whether you want or need to get off Facebook (or anything else) is entirely up to you. This however made me cringe. Why would I feel the need to go to a Facebook (Korea) gathering? And I’m definately not going to a venue that has ‘Boutique’ in the title. And the music doesn’t look inspiring either. Enjoy!

Speaking of uninspiring, unimaginative retardation. How stupid do you have to be when it comes to thinking of a password? It seems that some of us have no creative imagination whatsoever. I’m thinking of adding it to the syllabus for next semester. It can only help. My password is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious just in case you were wondering?

Person of the year, this is for you…

The Hump

So it’s Wednesday, it’s freezing outside, the wind would cut right through you and I’ve set myself a time limit to see what I can get through in the next 10 minutes or so. Here goes…

Today, was one of those days when you wake up (albeit a wee bit later than normal), get your stuff done and head off to work. Weirdly, the rest of the day disappeared into the black hole that is grading. I spent about the best part of  4 1/2 hours putting all my grades into the computer system and all the jolly intricacies that entails. Well, I got it all done, had to skip lunch (never a good thing for me), had a few students stop by my office to plea their case for a higher grade (with mixed results – I am fair though), then I got home around 4pm.

Once the dog’s been fed and walked (briskly), it was Twitter time. Still sounds a bit rude, eh? I knew that today South Korea would be undertaking a huge civil defense exercise. If you’ve ever seen those public service announcement films from the 50’s where The Commies are going to blow us up, this is something akin to that, but with a better dress sense. On the dot of 2pm the sirens roared into action, and from my office on the 12th floor it was all hands on deck for the next 15  minutes (apparently that’s all it’ll take) as everything stopped.

I’m sure some people pulled over, others smoked outside their office, or like me you just looked out the window wondering if that rumbling noise you could hear was the F16 jets, or my stomach pining for it\’s lunch? You’ll be glad to know that it passed without a hitch, but if you’re ever at ground level when a drill like this takes place, take a step back and watch it all unfold before your eyes. It’s quite a sight.

Tonight we met for dinner, not far from our place, at my new favourite chicken hof,  ‘Born To Be Chicken’. I’d have loved to have been there when they were in the high-level marketing and strategy meetings before they opened. It’s actually a nice, big, friendly place, not far from Sookmyung University, and the chicken’s good too. Maybe one day I’ll get to the bottom of just how it got its name? Another one to add to the pile.

Something closer to home I noticed was this classy bird, her questionable drinking habits, and even dodgier choice of tattos. I think what’s scarier is that it’s in the biggest selling newspaper in Scotland as NEWS. Good work fellas!

I’d like to leave with a nice piece of music, but I found this instead. 

What I can only describe as Korean meets Argentine meets The Village People. Bonkers!



So, where have you been?

My old blog got zapped into near-Earth orbit or wherever it is they go, so I had to start from scratch. I thought today was as good a day as any.

I’ve actually been blogging 2 or 3 times a week on another site that’s work-related. I don’t have a textbook for any of my classes (they gave me the choice and I declined), and instead prepare all the materials, scan them and put them online for students to download and bring to class. They being Kookmin University that is. So, today was a good, productive day. Finished my grading, emailed folks that I’d had on the ‘to do’ list for ages, listened to lots of podcasts, took Ozzy for a good walk up Namsan (he was about one nip away from getting one of the rabbits today), made dinner, did a bit more work then thought I’d finish off with this. It’s great what you can pass off for work these days. I’ve also been using Twitter for quite a while now and it does have a certain addictive elements to it. I’m not big on following your celebs or non-entities who feel the need to spout whatever it is they had for breakfast, but I do use it mainly as a news feed. I’ve subscribed to a few newspapers, journalists, authors, musicians and the like and surprisingly there’s a lot of good stuff out there. Well, at least you get to syphon what you want…

Today, for example, we had the world\’s most odious man telling gay football fans that they should ‘keep it in their trousers’ during the Qatar WC in 2022. He really is a shit and I’m sure that the whole thing will be a complete Disney-esque nightmare. Russia, well that’s going to be a barrel of laughs as long as you\’re white.

Our Friends in the North also told us that if Eric Calpton wouldn’t play for Kim Jong-il then they were going to hit us with a nuclear bomb. No, really. To add more fuel to the fire the Korean Army Chief has just jacked it in because he didn/’t bomb them back hard enough. A lot of this stems from the South Korean President Lee Myoung Bak’s refusal to continue giving the North as many generous handouts as his predecessor had done under the ‘sunshine policy’.

On a cheerier note, one of the sites that sends me Tweets me (is that really a verb?) is The Independent. This time of year you get great lists to trawl through. Lists are cool. One of the best clips I saw today was this one from Sky. All coaches should do interviews in this manner. 

So, that’s it, the first one. Hope it’s warmer where you are…and Happy Birthday to my brother Iain. I know you know what a Blog is, aye? Cheers Big Man!