Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This One Goes Out to All the Bitches Out There (and harlots, hood rats, wenches, and gold diggers)


Bitch

Ah, the inevitable sequel. Hey, any time I put up the hottest post this space has ever seen, I gotta give the people what they want. Plus, I don’t have time to write a real post this week.

In case you missed the last post like this (and I don’t think you did), the rules are simple. Google an insult, and post the first usable pic on Google Images. Like last time, I avoided memes and celebrities, at least to the best of my knowledge, and tried to avoid any picture that looked professional.

This was a lot harder than the first time around. Turns out there’s kind of a dearth of good female-centric insults. Hell, most insults that directly involve female genitalia are generally directed at dudes. I’m no misogynist, so I feel like we need to invent more. From the obvious department, a female douchebag should definitely be a snookie. Also, the Korean word “boji” (pussy) should be brought into the vernacular, and should absolutely not be relegated toward male-centric insults. Anyway, on with the show.



Harlot



Hussy



Skank



Hood Rat



Slut



Gold Digger



Ditz



Crack Whore



Bimbo



Ho




Butterface



Wench


Cooze



Fat


Full disclosure - I actually had to cheat and google “fucking bitch” for the title picture because the images for “bitch” fail for being memes, celebs, or just plain stupid. Standards like "cunt" and "whore" also proved to be impossible. On Google moderate safe search, the images were just horribly lame. On safe search off, well, take a guess.

Until next week. I'm going to Taiwan.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Only Band That Matters



Fair warning: this post will change your life, at least for a little while. If you are outside Korea or the K-Pop universe, continue at your own risk. Or maybe I’ve just lost my mind.

For the last week or two, Girls’ Generation songs have been running through my head pretty much 97% of the time, awake or asleep. Shit is catchy. I’m well aware that shit might be shit too, but we’ll get to that.

Much like chess, or the Korean script that Girls’ Generation members actually write in, this is a band that's easy to learn but near impossible to master. To kick off, they have a ridiculous 9 members, none of whom play an instrument. However, they are so crazy popular and prolific on the K-Pop/Korean Wave scene that each member has her own Wikipedia page... in English.

Becoming a Nirvana completionist (which, for the most part, I am) is a reasonably easy endeavor. Doing the same for, say, Bob Dylan or all jam bands takes a considerable degree of effort. To own every Girls’ Generation recording is next to impossible. K-Pop is an insanely fluid medium, chock full of remixes, EPs, and of course Japanese imports. According to Wikipedia, Girls’ Generation boasts 3 studio albums, two repackaged albums, 3 EPs, a live album, and a single in Korea, plus an album, an EP, and three singles in Japan. Yet, they’ve only been releasing music since 2007. That’s 15 recordings in one way or another. I downloaded nine, and they don’t match up with those 15 at all, and all nine are all from 2008 or before. Plus, this doesn’t even count commercial music that, like, they literally make for commercials, which themselves are massive hits here.

For a seemingly simple girl band, this is just the beginning of the mystery. Girls’ Generation, of course, is not their only name. In Korean, they’re called 소녀시대, which is romanized as Sonyeo Shidae. They are also abbreviated as SNSD, or as Soshi (소시). Having a Korean name is no surprise for a Korean band, of course, but most K-Pop bands are called the same thing in English and Korean. To make matters more confusing, Girls’ Generation not only has two self-titled albums, they also have a song called, yes, “Girls’ Generation,” of which there are several different versions that appear on multiple recordings. I suppose to keep all the loose ends straight, one could visit soshified.com. This website is dedicated to all things SNSD, and has been updated every day, sometimes several times a day, since 2008. They have 82,000 Twitter followers, including me as of right now, and Twitter is still in its infancy in Korea.

So why them? Why now? Did spending all this time in Korea finally make me crack?

SNSD hold a lot of potential appeal. If you watched the video at the top of the page, I don’t think I really need to explain. Yet, Asia is dripping with sexy girl pop groups, so why fall for this one?

A. Girls’ Generation are totally real. They put together interesting videos. The one at the top is one continuous shot, but, like all things SNSD, there are other versions of the video. In their recent, catchy-as-fuck Run Devil Run video, they even glance at their own dark sides, away from their usual saccharine oeuvre. Of course, the “good” side ultimately wins, but come on, they aren’t 2NE1, that’s the way it had to go.




B. Girls’ Generation are totally fake. Rumors of plastic surgery are widespread, including stories that they had their calf muscles surgically altered. None of them play instruments or write songs, at least so far as I know. They change their hair so often and look so similar that only Soshiefied message board nerds and Korean middle school girls can tell them apart. I sure as hell can’t. That kind of plastic is kind of refreshing, for some reason. I was a little heartbroken when the Reverend Horton Heat did a car commercial, though I know they deserved the payday. SNSD makes no qualms about selling out. As I mentioned, at least two of their largest hits were originally jingles for LG cell phones. Thus, I can never be disappointed.





C. What, are you a NES/NAS n00b? There has never been, nor will there ever be a “c.”

To continue to explain the “why them?” factor, I should mention two other things that I like - cute girls wearing shirts with numbers on them, and good old mysteries. Here, in the video (one of the videos) for “Oh,” we see both. (BTW, notice the beginning of the light side/dark side battle at the end of the video here.)






As we can see, the girls are all wearing jerseys or tank tops or whatever with a number on it. Why? See, I covered both the cute girls in numbers and the mystery factor there. Fortunately, the internets has answers. According to blog.ningin.com, there is a reason. Taeyeon (the leader) is 9 because there are 9 girls in the group. Sooyung is 24 because she loves her fans and wants to be with them all day (sure). Seohyeon is 11 to be number one in all things (then why not 1?) Tiffany is 0 because of a printing error. A printing error! Apparently, she wanted to be 01. Jessica is 22 for her age, but almost all of them are the same age, so that’s kinda weird. I guess Yuri was 21 at the time, so she went with that. Hyoyeon took 32, because it was her favorite number. Too bad she didn’t pick 34. Maybe she respected Walter Payton too much to rock his number. Sunny is 12 because her favorite numbers are 1 and 2. That seems really suspect, especially since 12 is a fine number on its own, particularly for those of us who didn’t grow up with the metric system. Yoona is lucky 7, which means she’s at best a beginner at craps.

Mystery solved, right? Then what the fuck is this?




Yep, in this video, they were wearing sweatshirts with their names and numbers on them, but with different numbers. I guess we'll never really get to the bottom of this.

As for the other argument, the “did Korea finally make me crack?” aspect, there’s another reason for liking this band.

Korea is a wonderful country in a lot of ways, particularly Seoul, but there are times, many times, that it just drives me nuts. Often times, there is no escape. You can’t get to any other country overland, so it’s not like I could flip out and drive to Mexico like I could back home. I’ve learned to appreciate the differences in Korean cities and regions, but they are still a whole lot more the same than they are different. On top of that, there’s no drugs. Fucking Tylenol isn’t available outside of pharmacies, Ny-Quil is prescription, and real drugs simply don’t exist.

Essentially, there are only two ways to alter your reality. Booze of course, but that can get annoying/fattening/boring/routine. The other? Pop music, of course.

Pop music is escapist and other-worldly most everywhere, but the only places I can really compare for living are Korea and America. American pop is certainly not grounded in any sort of real life, particularly the more pre-fab top-40 sort. Then again, America is so vast that one could imagine NSYNC living out the false universe that they created in Orlando or Orange County, and more recently, one could imagine somebody living some sort of Lady Ga Ga existence in Manhattan. Nobody could live an SNSD video in Korea. It would be hard to pull off in Narnia. It’s pure aural drugs of the highest grade.

To sum up - Girl’s Generation is a group of nine leggy girls that don’t wear much and ride the line between real and fake as well as between fantasy and reality. They deliver ocular heroin with ridiculously catchy songs that they didn’t write. They are unquestionably the most popular girl group in Korea and form the very core of what modern Korean pop culture is, yet at the same time they are the single most escapist entity available in a country of 50 million in which over 30% of the populace has the same surname. They are at the same time imminently mysterious and lowest-common-denominator approachable. They are concurrently worthy subjects of a doctoral dissertation and dismissible by the most base of music critics. To come full circle, with apologies to The Clash, they are the only band that matters.

You want more? Here’s a couple bonus videos.







Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Seoul Walks

If there’s anybody who has walked around Seoul more than me, I commend him or her (no way it’s a her though). I tend to doubt any such person exists. I’m sure plenty of people have walked more cumulative miles than me about the city, but this would be based on some sort of necessity rather than my particular brand of insanity. In my case, I genuinely like walking. I also have an eternal glut of podcasts that I need to listen to. I hate most types of weather, but I’m willing to walk under almost any weather conditions. I have no fear of getting lost, and rarely do. Probably more than anything, it’s the travel thing. I love seeing new things and finding new places, and treating one of the world’s largest cities like it’s Holcomb Park is a boss way to do that.

Tonight, I’m throwing up some pictures I’ve taken around town of weird or interesting shit. I’ve posted a couple of these on FB before, but most are new. By the way, Zuckerberg, I know I’m now officially violating your intellectual property rights, as the pics that I took with my camera and then posted on FB are technically yours. Come after me, motherfucker.


This is pretty roadgeeky here. This lane says “Busan” in Korean, Korea’s second city on the other side of the peninsula. Long commitment for downtown Seoul. This is like if the George Washington Bridge had a lane saying “San Francisco.”



Yo, Seoul summer haters - this is what you have to look forward to. Trust me, it sucks.




The East Coast isn’t the only place that can flood. This is a good 30 feet above the river’s usual banks. This is last year too, not even the major flooding from this year, which I was too lazy to investigate.




How epic are my epic walks? I walked to the fucking airport. Gimpo though, not ICN. One day though...




Another spot showing how pretty this town can be.




If there’s one spot you don’t want a bad design....




Sometimes, I aimlessly end up in places like this - Noryanjgin Fish Market, Seoul’s largest. I was just trying to get to Hongdae.




A McDonald’s drive-thru in Seoul? So far as i know, this is the only one.




Yoon Seok Min, my favorite Korean baseball player came out of nowhere to throw a one-hitter. Every paper in town gave him props. Kia!




Just last week, I walked from Ilsan to Seoul. I came across a country area chock full of these spiders. They were everywhere, and they build huge webs that spanned trees.





Here, you can see how big they were. They were easily the largest spiders I’ve seen outside of Malaysia. I’ve never seen spiders like this in town or on any mountain or countryside area in the country. On this mile-long or so stretch between central Ilsan and the Seoul city limits, they were everywhere.




Outer Goyang City, between Ilsan and Seoul. I didn’t expect this. Pastoral landscapes, right within the second most-populous urban area in the world.




I ended up gate-crashing a large Christian rock concert. I was easily spotted, since I was the guy holding a beer.


In conclusion, Seoul is a land of contrasts. Walking rules.

On this topic, I had an even crazier walk over the long weekend. More to come, most likely.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chuseok

Sorry, I had something chambered for this week, but I still don't like it.

It's Chuseok this weekend, Korea's largest holiday. It's a three day holiday that corresponds to the lunar calender, so it's not on any set date. Sometimes it results in a 5 day weekend. Sometimes, like last year, it falls on a Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, which essentially forces most schools here to close for the whole week. In 2008, it was Saturday-Sunday-Monday, so that sucked. Then again, if a solar calendar based Korean holiday such as Children's Day or Independnce Day happens to fall on a Sunday, everyone is fucked and nobody gets an extra day off.

This year, Chuseok causes a 4 day weekend.

Normally, I have some sort of plan for Chuseouk. Last year I parlayed it into an America trip. I've also done local trips and a Tokyo trip back in aught seven. This year, I've somehow managed to avoid planning anything. I've got 7 hours until this vast unknown weekend.

Here are some options:

1. Fly somewhere. This one is DOA, because flights cost too much last minute. Plus, I'm going to Taiwan in a couple weeks anyway.

2. Take a domestic trip. I haven't traveled anywhere in Korea in a few months, so I'd actually be really into this. Unfortunately, Chuseok is a horrible time for domestic travel. Trains are all sold out, and the traffic jams on Saturday and Tuesday will be mammoth.

3. Go to the beach. I may do it, but it's supposed to rain all weekend. Of course it is.

4. Check into the Hilltop Hotel in Itaewon and spend 4 days drinking at Polly's Kettle House. This one holds some appeal, although it would be kind of silly to stay in a hotel that's a 15 minute subway ride from my house.

5. Walk walk walk. Maybe attempt some sort of 4 day epic hike to say, Daejeon. It would be really difficult and the rain may get in the way, but this option is sounding more and more appealing, given the others.

6. The usual. Go to my usual bars, eat at the usual spots, take a couple shorter walks, spend a million hours on the internets hungover. The odds-on favorite.

7. Check into a 5 star hotel in town, just for shits and grins.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thanks 1000



I have three fresh posts in the hopper that still need a little finesse before they are ready to go live. For now, I’ll ignore them and throw together a quick gimmicky post on my favorite gimmick - this very blog.

First off - huge love to you. August was the most trafficked month in NES/NAS history. Before that, July was the biggest month. It’s been a steady climb, but August had nearly three times the traffic than March did. I’m especially appreciative to those of you who have reposted this blog on their Facebook pages, blogs, or on message boards. Thanks for being rock stars, and for making sure my mid-week drinking and writing isn’t in vain.

I discovered something fun today. When checking my stats, I saw that some people found this blog by googling “dork.” Turns out, on Google Images, the picture of the gentleman that led off my post last week no longer links to wherever it used to go when I found it - now it links here! I also googled “scumbag.” The scumbag image that I used last week is now the number 2 image for the term on Google, and that image also links here. Woot! NES/NAS is changing the internets.

I wrote a post a few months ago called Spy Bar Itaewon Russian Girls, because that was a keyword search that somebody used to find this blog. I’m happy to report that, if one were to google that now, this post is the number one hit. Googling “Nintendo is right” also brings you here if you're feeling lucky. So does “Mount Barmore,” though to be fair I invented the term.

Anyway, I could go on and on about these stats, but as a thank you to everyone, I’ll give you the greatest gift of all - an abnormally short post.
Google