Sunday, 31 January 2010

This dog is me

Like Danny Glover, he's too old for this shit.

Good old Haenyo

These old lady divers are hardcore! The water is none too warm right now, but these 4-foot tall dolphins are in the water every day, all day long. Like the endangered Spoonbills I saw this weekend, I fear that in 20 years no more iconic haenyo will grace Jeju Island. Most haenyo are 60+, and there isn't exactly a flood of new recruits these days. I heard they opened a 'haenyo school' a few months back to boost their numbers, but I'm not sure how that went. See them now! Incidentally, a haenyo was attacked by a great white shark in 2005. In the shark's defense, I guess they do bear a passing resemblance to seals.
Personally, I plan on waiting until April before I hit the water, even in a wetsuit. Coabin and I are getting matching underwater cameras to go with our matching fish field guides. Fishwatching!
January flew by, thanks to fast days and fast weeks.
I plan on having a dry February, too many shenanigans lately.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Unicorns flying through the mist

Soggy 'til I die.

Fake Kentucky teardrop

Here she is. I saw the same mandolin sitting in a dusty corner of the one small music store in town (not counting the one in Home Plus) exactly one year ago. It hadn't moved, as there isn't a big community of mandolin players in Seogwipo. So I go in and ask the dude if I can have a look at it. He tells me the price, but says I can't touch it. Incredulous, I ask him how he expects me to buy it without touching it. I bitched him out and told him he was a simpleton, and ordered him to get it down and unwrap it. There were generations of actual spiders and spider webs set up amongst the tuning pegs. Long story short, I got him to come down on price and throw in a case and strings by telling him I'd just get one off the net for way cheaper if was going to be a wanker about it. He was probably sick of looking at the damn thing. I asked him how long it had been there, and he admitted "Since 1991." Cleaned and tightened her up, and played it 'til my fingers bled, it was the winter of '10. I can only hope my incessant plinky-plunky bothers my neighbor, who apparently does nothing but smoke cigarettes 24 hours a day. Oh, I'm never taking the Christmas tree down.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Mando Calrissian

I was gonna buy a mandolin a year ago when I first got to Jeju, but never got around to it, and got distracted. I'm buying one tomorrow. Playing music (badly) was something I used to be into in a big way from the ages of 15-25. Lately I've been into other things, and I stare at my dusty guitars and sigh. I got into the mandolin for a few months before my fugue carried me to Jeju. I can't wait to play 'The Witch' by The Sonics on a mandolin - that will rock nations.

Monday, 25 January 2010

The wisest dog in Seogwipo

I swear I heard this thing whisper “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.” as I walked by.
So I was like "What was that?", and it was like "Nevermind.", and I was all "That's what I thought you said, punk!"

#11 Taepo Makkolli

We didn't end up drinking this one, as we also plan on doing a separate great sampling session of '10 for makkolli. Shut up, it's winter, there's not much to do.

#10 O Soju

-->Name: O Soju
(We bought this one by accident, we're gonna do a separate great sampling session of '10 for soju.)

-->Alcohol %: 19.5%

-->Ml: 350 ml

-->Price: 3,100 won (expensive for soju...).

-->Color: Water.

-->Smell: Hint of paint thinner.

-->Taste: Rubbing alcohol, like bootleg liquor from a Native reservation.

-->Aftertaste: Medicated swab.

-->Celebrity that best personifies this alcohol: Vin Diesel at a strip club.

-->Would I drink it?: Not too likely.

-->If so, where?: On the beach, with Sprite.

-->Would foreigners enjoy it?: Yes, they seem to love the soj.

-->Vomit factor: 3.5/10

-->Overall: 4/10

#9 Yuhsong Chonyongsul

-->Name: Yuhsong Chonyongsul, 'Biannual premium sul.'

-->Alcohol %: 11.5%

-->Ml: 360 ml

-->Price: 2,400 won

-->Color: Dirty white wine.

-->Smell: Same feet and cheese reek as #6.

-->Taste: Like #7 but worse.

-->Aftertaste: Nice, warm, and nutty.

-->Celebrity that best personifies this alcohol: A swinging Carradine in a closet.

-->Would I drink it?: Nope.

-->If so, where?: Maybe in prison.

-->Would foreigners enjoy it?: No, unless...

-->Vomit factor: 2/5

-->Overall: 3/10

Sunday, 24 January 2010

#8 Taepo mindulae

-->Name: Taepo mindulae ("Looks ominous...")

-->Alcohol %: 13%

-->Ml: 330 ml

-->Price: 1,800 won

-->Color: Dirty water.

-->Smell: Paint thinner and vomit together.

-->Taste: Dirty water. Four things going on at once in my mouth, none overly good. Not as bad as it first seemed, grew on me.

-->Aftertaste: Surprisingly good - chocolatey and nutty.

-->Celebrity that best personifies this alcohol: Neil Patrick Harris.

-->Would I drink it?: No, not really.

-->If so, where?: If forced to, I'd drink it in a small town with a ragged old man.

-->Would foreigners enjoy it?: Not so much.

-->Vomit factor: 2/5

-->Overall: 4.5/10

#7 Jinro Maehwasa

-->Name: Jinro Maehwasa 'Let's enjoy sweet.'

-->Alcohol %: 14%

-->Ml: 300 ml

-->Price: 1,410 won

-->Color: Orangey white wine.

-->Smell: Capri Sun and Nyquil.

-->Taste: Light and sweet, but not too sweet. Balanced.

-->Aftertaste: Nyquil, in a good way.

-->Celebrity that best personifies this alcohol: Heather Graham in 10 years.

-->Would I drink it?: Yes.

-->If so, where?: A big silly unmanly picnic.

-->Would foreigners enjoy it?: Yes.

-->Vomit factor: 1/5

-->Overall: 8.5/10

#6 Gashiogapi traditional wine

-->Name: San Gashiogapi-shi Korean traditional wine. (Had an FDA seal on it...)

-->Alcohol %: 13%

-->Ml: 375ml

-->Price: 2,100 won

-->Color: White wine color.

-->Smell: Acrid ginseng tree bark and hobbit feet, mixed with expired yogurt. Dry heaved smelling it.

-->Taste: Tastes like old Korean men smell.

-->Aftertaste: Sweat and garlic.

-->Celebrity that best personifies this alcohol: Nick Nolte.

-->Would I drink it?: Never.

-->Would foreigners enjoy it?: Never.

-->Vomit factor: 6/5

-->Overall: 1/10

#5 Bokbunjajoo black raspberry wine

-->Name: Bokbunjajoo black raspberry wine

-->Alcohol %: 15%

-->Ml: 187 ml

-->Price: 2,500 won

-->Color: Dark opaque crimson purple.

-->Smell: Like sweet dry red wine.

-->Taste: Great - More liquid candy, doesn't taste like booze.

-->Aftertaste: Sweet, smooth, sugar.

-->Celebrity that best personifies this alcohol: Moon Bloodgood.

-->Would I drink it?: Yes I would.

-->If so, where?: A daytime walking-around drink for first-time visitors to Korea.

-->Would foreigners enjoy it?: Yes, especially upset Arkansans.

-->Vomit factor: 1/5

-->Overall: 10/10

#4 Mae Chui plum wine

-->Name: 'Korean plum wine Mae Chui'

-->Alcohol %: 14%

-->Ml: 187 ml

-->Price: 1,900 won

-->Color: Like apple juice.

-->Smell: Smells good but too sweet and cheap.

-->Taste: Too sweet.

-->Aftertaste: Terrible. Bitter and assy.

-->Celebrity that best personifies this alcohol: Juliette Lewis.

-->Would I drink it?: Not if I didn't have to.

-->If so, where?: In a brothel from the old west.

-->Would foreigners enjoy it?: Old British guys with giant eyebrows would.

-->Vomit factor: 3/5

-->Overall: 4/10

#3 Seoljungmae plum wine

-->Name: Special reserve (?!) Seoljungmae plus plum wine. 'Ume flower is the best one among flowers symbolizing love.' Had 4 small plums in the bottle.

-->Alcohol %: 14%

-->Ml: 380 ml

-->Price: 2,970 won

-->Color: Like apple juice.

-->Smell: Pleasant melted apple popsicle, sweet.

-->Taste: Thick sour apple cider, not bad. Liquid candy.

-->Aftertaste: Heat in the throat, pleasant.

-->Celebrity that best personifies this alcohol: Winona Ryder shoplifting.

-->Would I drink it?: Yes.

-->If so, where?: Staying up all night waiting for meteors by a campfire.

-->Would foreigners enjoy it?: Yes.

-->Vomit factor: 1/5

-->Overall: 9/10

#2 Sunsuyu rice wine

-->Name: Sunsuyu rice wine. 'Fruity scented semi sweet Korean traditional rice wine.'

-->Alcohol %: 13%

-->Ml: 300 ml

-->Price: 3,100 won

-->Color: Dirty blush orange, with suspended particulate matter.

-->Smell: Vinegar..."It's gotta be spoiled." Nasty.

-->Taste: Like drinking juice and brushing your teeth.

-->Aftertaste: Sick.

-->Celebrity that best personifies this alcohol: Kato Kaelin.

-->Would I drink it?: Never.

-->Would foreigners enjoy it?: Never.

-->Vomit factor: 4/5

-->Overall: 1/10

#1 Haji wild mulberry wine

-->Name: Haji wild mulberry wine, 'Odiju', "The gift of nature and Korean tradition."

--> Alcohol %: 14%

300 ml

--> Price: 3,100 won

-->Color: Purple burgundy.

Bittersweet red Bellini. Cobain: "Grape nail polish."

Tastes like cheap sweet wine. Burns the stomach, gross.


--> Celebrity that best personifies this alcohol: Dany DeVito.

-->Would I drink it?:

-->If so, where?:
If I had to, it would be in a hotel room, alone.

-->Would foreigners enjoy it?:
Broke lifers would.

-->Vomit factor: 2/5


The great Korean liquor sampling session of '10

Nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon than sample 11 different types of Korean liquor. It was terrifying. All of this swill only cost 26,000 won, which isn't a lot for 11 bottles of grog. Some of it was surprisingly good. Some of it was really really really really really really really bad. We definitely got some 'You're worse than Hitler' looks at the Home Plus, as we bought the crap.

Burning documents, as they do

This dude was mysteriously burning documents at 3 in the morning.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The Melvins - Hooch

I don't often post links, but this one has been my theme song for 2 weeks, smashing around inside my thin head. Still one of the heaviest songs ever written.
I saw these guys in 1995. Dance Vatek and I tried to sneak into the little club where they were playing - we'd played there before, so we knew about an improbable and usually unlocked side emergency exit around the corner from the sold-out show. Oh, before we broke in, we tried to replicate our buddy Jaro Tackson's legitimate stamp first with the lick/transfer method, then with a sharpie. The results were dubious. Jaro was in the club waiting near the inside door, which was locked, to let us in. Dance and I opened the unlocked outside door and crept up the stairs like nervous ninjas, in the darkness. At the top of the stairs, we looked through a small window, and saw Jaro coming to the door, then suddenly turn away, a scared look on his face. Five seconds later, the lights come on, and the baddest-looking biker-bouncer ever rips the door open and comes lumbering down the stairs towards us, murder in his eyes. My testicles hit the inside of the top of my skull, and we ran for life, but I couldn't feel my body. This dude chased us clean around the block before giving up.
Forty minutes later, an attractive female friend of ours passed by and asked us why we were sitting slumped and dejected on a stoop. When we told her what had happened, she laughed and dragged us through the front door. She was a foxy scenestress, so of course she knew the bouncer, who let us in with a smile a and a mischevious 'you little rascals' finger waggle. "You run fast", he said, glimmers of murder still evident in his eyes. We got in right as The Melvins were starting the last song of their encore, which was 'Hooch'. Fucking amazing.
After the show, we were eating a slice of 1.00$ pizza next door, when King Buzzo, the lead singer, rolled in, floating on a cloud of amazingness. We gushed and freaked, and he signed our shirts and told us about a secret free show the next day, at a record store. That too was fucking awesome. And that is my The Melvins story. Listen to it on 11.

Think you've had a bad day?

This poor bastard beats you.

Thursday, 21 January 2010


Oh, it just speaks to the malaise of modernity, and it's harshly beautiful...screw it, it's just sick, and awesome.

Chuja-do part 8: Blah blah blah

N: Seoul - 400.9 km.

NE: Busan - 284 km.

S: Jeju - 53.3 km.

Chuja-do part 7: Metallic ladybug

Wow, I was on Chuja-do for a day, but it's taking me forever to regurgitate my musings. Another little island is the plan for this weekend. Summer weather these days. Saw some off-duty Korean cops get wasted and try to start fights with any and everyone last night. Well done, off-duty Korean cops - way to remind folks why Korean cops, and a certain wide subset of agitated young Korean men, are held in universally low regard.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Chuja-do part 6: Pushing dead scooters and nightmare inclines

We charmed the scooter lady into giving us a significant discount, badass. My first scoot was a fat boy fake classic, and it broke down in a hurry, after making a series of disconcerting rattles and moans. And the hazards wouldn't stop hazarding. Luckily it broke down on top a hill overlooking the town where we picked up the scoots, and not on the remote far side. After rolling and pushing the fat boy back to the scoot shop, we found that the scoot lady was gone. Not a problem, as the fish-butchering guy (knife go in guts come out) next door got his fish hands dirty and got another scoot started for me (then went back to his fish gutting, with his scoot oil hands). This one was probably a nice ride, 8 years ago. It was a Taiwanese SYM 125 that reminded me of my old Taiwanese SYM 150, my metallic blue first love. Anyways, this piece of work made a series disconcerting growls and shrieks, and the brakes weren't too hot. It was disconcerting. And the decal was inaccurate. And the wheel-well grated menacingly against the tire at low speed. And the left turn signal was out. And the mirror was wonky. And then, NO AND THEN!
We headed up some steep-ass steep hills. I used to have a distinct re-occurring nightmare as a young pup about being parked on a steep hill, in the back seat of a jeep. As I sat alone, the thing began to roll backwards. Not good. Still in the dream rotation about once a year. Words and pictures can't explain what a ripping fine winter day for a scoot trip round a remote island it was. It was a fine day.