Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Faces - Ooh La La


Hier soir un Fairy Pitta a sauvé mon âme avec sa chanson

Yes, a bird has saved my soul.  Not just any bird.  The bird.
My glass has been half-empty lately, in spite of someone's recent good advice to 'get a smaller glass'.  I've been twisting things around and looking at them from behind.
  Today started roughly.  Still shittily sore everywhere from the weekend volleyball marathon, I was woken at 8 a.m. on the nose by the lovely sound of chainsaws outside my window.  I was horrified to see the massive 5-story tree that stands sentinel outside my apartment being fucking chopped to pieces by little Korean assholes.  I mean, this massive tree was probably well over 150 years old.  It was always packed with a wide array of birds, which would wake me sometimes with their dawn chorus.  A better sound to rise to than fucking chainsaws.  A good number of birds nested in it too.  Well, I guess someone wanted some fucking wood, so now all I see out that window is more apartments.  Then, the memory card on my small camera died.  Great start.  Let the downward slide continue, to the dark side of twisted around. I was that close to whipping out my full-auto BB rifle and shooting their eyes out.
  Not wanting to stick around and watch the arbocide, I jumped on Whitey and headed to a nearby spot where I've been scoping for birds lately.  The bird.  The Fairy Pitta.  I've been trying to see this thing for over two years, unsuccessfully.  Extremely rare and secretive, the Fairy Pitta spends the summer months breeding in Jeju's quiet and rocky valleys.  It became my white whale.  I was always one step behind it, and I've heard it on multiple occasions, even found feathers, but never spotted it.
  So I got to my little valley, and walked up the dry riverbed for about 30 minutes.  Nothing.  Then, on my way back down to Whitey, I heard it.  I ended up tracking it unseen through the treetops (I wasn't in the treetops, it was) for well over an hour before I finally cut it off with some Seal Team 6 stealth and initiative.  It hopped down and posed for me for a few minutes, and now life is a sliver less pointless.

Thursday, 26 May 2011


Topical Storm Songda is gathering strength, but it looks like it'll sweep past Jeju this weekend, barely.  We'll see.  I'm almost over this weekend volleyball thing, could be fun if the whole deal was swept into the sea by a vengeful Poseidon.  Wrathful Proteus?  Furious Triton?  PMSing Calypso?  Grumpy Aquaman?

Dead Ghosts - I Want Your Love

Hey, sweet stuff from the west coast.  Songs really don't need to be longer than 3 minutes.  Any longer than that and it's just rude.
  I effed up my neck the other day waking up like a newborn giraffe, but it's mostly fine now.  I sure do enjoy talking about myself.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Fish soups, spicy and not

In fact, spicy.
I'm not a huge seafood person, but living on Jeju exposes one to the stuff regularly.  I have to say, fish soup made by Jeju's elderly Haenyo diving women with freshly-murdered fish is insanely good.  The spicy mini fish heads (10 o'clock on the bottom pic) however, were not really my cuppa pee.  Crunch.  Wince.
  Been watching a healthy amount of rock n roll movies and documentaries lately, does a psyche good.  There's a Mudnohey documentary coming out soon.  What!?  Perfect.  Perfect like a disapproving Korean frown.
  I'm number one!  I'm number one!

Helmet & House of Pain - Just Another Victim

I've been wronged!
I remember the Judgement Night soundtrack well.  It changed our young 514 lives.  I jumped off this guy Jared's basement couch repeatedly with a stringless bass on Christmas Eve, pretending I knew every bass line to every song.  The gathered rabble seemed impressed with my air-bass abilities, but it was a hazy night.  I still bluff my way through life most days.  The Mudhoney & Sir-Mix-A-Lot track is a must-listen.  Hell, so is the Sonic Youth & Cypress Hill song.  Just listen to the whole thing.
  Victim.  A funny word, a funny way to live.  Most folks do everything they can to avoid being victims.  Who wants to be a fucking victim?  Then, there are others who just love being the eternal victim.  They LOVE it.  Gets them the precious attention they need to live, like emotional vampires.  Or mosquitoes.  Self-fulfilling.  Splat!

"Cause in your eyes 
You've been victimized 
It's how you size it up 
You disguise it up 
And try to make it look real 
To cover up the low self esteem you feel 
And afterthought 
Swimmin' in guilt's your favorite sport"

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Birds of weekends

Chinese Egret

Black Paradise Flycatcher (check the tail!)

Black-winged Stilt

White-cheeked Starling
I helped guide an older Canadian couple around the northeast of the island on Saturday, along with my Korean birding buddy.  Saw some decent stuff, the Chinese Egret was a long-awaited lifer.
  In other news, still feeling boring.   A long and vitriolic rant bubbles just below the surface.  Soon.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Dione Ratsnake, all growed up

Holy crap it's windy out.  Fixin' to be a bit windier if Tropical Storm Songda keeps strengthening and heading north.  Hope it holds out until after the volleyball tournament next weekend.  My team this time round is called 'Covered With Bumps', I'm pretty proud of that name.
  Just restrung the mandolin, what an epic pain in the balls.

Ike Turner/Jackie Brenston - Rocket 88

Happy 60th birthday, rock n roll.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

It's my hooves

Breaking news! The Blue Rock Thrush makes the following sounds: tak-tak, ka-tchuc-tchuc, hee, chin, hee choicho peechiyo, hiyochee pee pipipi chuu, and tju-sri tjurr-titi wuchi-trr-trrt-tri.


It's Binch.

Scruffy Roe Deer

So, what's new?  Anything new with you?  How's stuff?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Random Jeju

  I just listened to the Alice in Chains album, Dirt, for the first time in ages.  Holy crap, that was a solid bloody album.  Damn.  All angry and shit.
  I have an uncomfortable and vivid memory of kissing a high school sweetheart just after I finished puking, while that album was playing.  Poor girl.  We can all laugh about it now I guess.  I'm talking right after puking.  Do people still say 'high school sweetheart', or am I just all kinds of old-fashionedy?

R.E.M. - It's the end of the world

Hey, I can see Marshall Applewhite from here!

I've often wondered what it specifically is about religion that makes a lot of people act so goofy?  Ha, whatever, man.  I'm so totally ready for the Rapture, I've got some cans of tuna and bottled water squirreled away, I'll be fine.  Extreeeeeeme Rapture, dude!  This is gonna be like Y2K times 2,011!

Too obvious?

Del Shannon - Little Town Flirt

Cheer up
Del Shannon was the man.  Ages ago, I got mixed up with a side-band that played oldies, and the plan was to wear matching suits, slather in the Brylcreem (I don't want no Fop, godammit!), and perform synchronized guitar dips.  We called ourselves 'Johnny Runpants', and we never actually played any shows.  We played a few Del Shannon songs.
  I've been involved with quite a few hypothetical bands that never ended playing any shows.  Notable was the band that was to play songs only about killing people in trench warfare I formed with a melodion-playing dude from Arkansas, and the band of completely incompatible non-musicians (myself included) that assembled in Taiwan to play rock classics sung in poorly-translated Chinese.  Not one of us could play our instruments, it was truly terrible.
  This pic is of a later Del (sweet Firebird!), about a decade before he killed himself.  He kinda looks like a guy I kinda know on the island.  I dig the low production values of the video, as well as the jaunty seaside a-go-go party setting.


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Chicken-y goodness

Spatulize it!




Liced up
Spicy chicken galbi is not a Jeju specialty, it's a mainland deal.  Towns like Chuncheon and Gangchon (party like it's 2006!) in Gangwon province, near the DMZ, are known for their chicken galbi.  There are a couple of places in Seogwipo that serve it, and I'd forgotten how awesome it was.  Extra awesomeness occurs when you a) get cheese dumped in it, and b) dump rice and crispy seaweed on the leftovers.  The putty knife adds that extra hint of class.  Dump!
  Grahhh, I mis-set my alarm this 'morning'.  Who knew that 'p.m.' is not the same as 'a.m.'?  Apparently not this rocket surgeon.  Feeling boring these days.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Old-school houses in Moseulpo

Jeju's west coast between Moseoulpo and Hallim is dotted with crumbling ghost towns.  I like them.

Abandoned school
  I fell asleep on the beach Saturday night next to a campfire, mandolin on my belly, under sideways and happy constellations.  I'll miss that, for sure.

It's birds!

Broad-billed Roller

Black Drongo

Yellow-breasted Bunting

Brown Shrike
Picked up four lifers on Saturday, good times.  On Mara-do I spotted a Yellow-breasted Bunting and some other good migrants.  On the ferry ride back, two ultra-rare Japanese Murrelets bobbed past at a distance of 20 feet, in bright sunlight.  Of course, my camera was safely and hopelessly jammed into my jacket to protect it from the bow spray.  I didn't get it out in time to get a picture, and it's gotta be my worst photographic fail ever.  I also picked up a Black Drongo on the back-roads of Mureung, guided to it by spider-sense alone.  This coming weekend is shaping up to be birdy as well, as I'll be guiding visiting bird folks around all weekend.  I like turtles.
  Sunday's plans to go birding on a small, untouristed island were scrapped after a bud and I went to four different port-towns without being able to find a fishing boat that was willing to take us there.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


This horse was chained up in a field, walking in circles.  I feel your pain, bro.  Did some super-solid birding this weekend, four lifers, pics soon.

All dead snakes, all the time

I spotted this unfortunate little guy on a coastal path, just after someone presumably beat it with a stick.  It was still moving a bit, but I hear snakes can do this for 20 minutes after death, I'm pretty sure it was dead.  Looks like it may have bitten itself in confusion as it was dying.  It's a Common Many-tooth Snake, aka Black-headed Snake.  Jeju is the only place in Korea where they can be found, and were only discovered here in 1981.  There is sand in my ears, but it will come out one day.

Thursday, 12 May 2011


         "A refreshing tangy sweetie flavor with slight sweetness"

Holy crap, I just googled this, and it turns out the sweetie, aka oroblanco, is a cross between an acidless pomelo (they love the damn pomelos in Taiwan) and a white grapefruit.  You learn something every day.  So I guess it doesn't sound as dumb now.
  I was watching a riveting episode of River Monsters where the stern and humorless Jeremy Wade is looking for the dreaded 'Ball Cutter' fish that has been mangling the bits n' bobs of African fishermen.  I enjoyed hearing him repeatedly say 'Ball Cutter'.

The (lucrative) destruction of Hwasun beach

Going...(Nov. 2009)

...going...(spring 2010)

...gone.  (right now)

It's fucking ugly and 90 feet tall, whatever it is.
The beach at Hwasun, just west of Jungmun, was always a quiet alternative to the tourist-hell-insanity of a jam-packed Jungmun beach in the peak season.  A nice little beach, if you remembered not to look at the power plant just due east.  There was also a nice large reedbed where a river emptied into the ocean, home to a wide array of reed-loving birds like reed warblers, small herons, and plovers.
  That was way back in sparkling 2009.  Since then, 'they' have steadily been eating up the beach and destroying the reedbeds with a large array of random bullshit associated with making the adjacent port bigger.  I fear that Hwasun is a harbinger of things to come on Jeju.  I think that when I come back to Jeju in 10-15 years, I'll be horrified but not surprised to find that most of Jeju's nicer and quieter spots have been ripped up by super-trails, hotels, speed-boat courses, 'mini' lands, and other hyper-tacky concrete and fibreglass touristy bullshit.  
  Oh yeah, and the 'eco-friendly' naval base they're in the process of building 20 minutes down the road oughta be great.  The 20,000-strong garrison will really boost the local economy.  The whore-house economy, that is.  Welcome to "Peace Island".  The chair-lift to Halla will be a real hoot too.  Ok, all of this bitter quotation marking is making me angry.  Peace out, word to the mom, peace in the Middle East, catch you on the flibbity-flop.

Truckloads of dead tourists

Ok ok, half-dead ones.  You can't fart around here lately without the fart warmly wafting onto at least 37 idling tourbuses.  My old band used to have a song called 'Truckloads of dead tourists', and it was great. The chorus went 'Make meeeeee, happy, happy, happy, happy!'

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Early May birds

Curlew Sandpiper

Black-tailed Godwit

Long-toed Stint

Striated Heron
A lot of migrating shorebirds these days.  Also, the Striated Heron that lives next door was hunting, and I watched.  I like to watch.
  I picked up some Australian cheese, and I'm about to eat it up by hand like it's a big shiny apple.