Seoul on the Big Screen, Finally!
I had a great day. Not only did I get to leave work early today, but I got to leave work early in order to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Yes, yes, I know it's not out in the US yet and I won't say anything about it, I just need you to know that this was way better than most Teacher Health Days.

The last Wednesday of the month is almost always designated "Teacher Health Day" which means the kids get to go home an hour early and we have mandatory staff bonding. Most of the staff bonding takes the form of lame-ass volleyball games in the school gym or occasionally we go on hikes but, once in a blue moon, we go out for coffee and a movie. It almost makes up for all the forced volleyball :D

Anyway, I won't rehash my tales of Teacher Health Days Past and obviously I'm not going to spoil anything about the Captain America sequel but I do want to talk to you about The Avengers a little (in a totally unspoilery way). Specifically,

OMG, They're filming part of Avengers II in Seoul!!!!! Yes!!!! Seoul!!! Finally!!! Here's an article in the Chosun Ilbo about it: Seoul Braces for Disruptions for Filming of 'Avengers' Sequel

I'm ridiculously pleased about this, and mostly for reasons that don't really have to do with the Avengers (although, eeee! Avengers!!!) and have more to do with my. . .second-hand Korean patriotism.

Guys, Seoul is an incredible city! It deserves an international reputation! It deserves to be in MORE MOVIES. I've expounded upon this issue in the past to anyone who would listen (most notably the two friends who have visited me in Korea) and finally, FINALLY a giant, international movie is being filmed here!

Seriously, why are James Bond and his pals always running through Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, etc but never Seoul??? Issues of orientalism aside, Hollywood if you're going to keep shooting those Asian city chase scenes, why not diversify your locations? Give China a miss for once and and check out Seoul.

Seoul has all the things you'd want from an action sequence in any of those cities but more so (okay, I don't have first-hand knowledge of China but it's certainly WAY more crowded and frenetic than Tokyo) with the added potential for some very dangerous restaurant chase scenes!

You've perhaps heard the term "Korean Barbeque?" Never mind that it's a catch-all phrase only used outside of Korea that smooshes together like 5 different types of Korean dining, let's focus on the fact that all those types of dining involve RED HOT COALS AT EVERY TABLE. Plus knives, industrial kitchen scissors, and BOILING CAULDRONS OF SOUP.

Nothing out of the ordinary here, just step one of dinner at a Korean restaurant

Think of the fight scene potential! I certainly always do. In fact, it's not even just a restaurant scene situation because where do those buckets of coals go after you're done eating? Out to the corner in front of the restaurant to cool off. That's right, flashing neon signs, ridiculously crowded streets where pedestrians mingle with cars and on every corner BUCKETS OF RED HOT COALS-- just your average evening out on any street in Seoul :) Why isn't every action movie shot here?

So yeah, Seoul, I love it dearly and I'm going to cry tears of uncontrollable nostalgia when I see it (probably getting destroyed by aliens) in the next Avengers movie.

It's a wonderful, crazy city that I am absurdly attached to and I hope this is the first of many big budget movies that feature it and eventually everyone will start thinking of Seoul as a hip travel destination. I'm certain this is exactly what the Korean government had in mind when they gave The Avengers filming crew massive permission to shut down incredibly busy and important roads and bridges in downtown :D

Look at it! Look at this incredible city! Don't you want to see action movies set here???

Notice the car in the middle of the crowd?

More PhotosCollapse )

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Apparently This is a Kpop Blog Now
I really thought I'd gotten all the Kpop out of my system for a while with yesterday's post, but then
 [personal profile]
   pointed me to an awesome, feminist-oriented introduction to Kpop girl groups and I HAVE to share that as part of my official Kpop posting. God, I love The Toast so much, but this came out while I was traveling a bunch and I missed it. Thanks eccentric_hat!
Anyway, I encourage anyone who's been reading my kpop posts to follow that link for some succinct contextualization, important critique of the industry and off-the-beaten-track lady-friendly vid recs.  I'd never heard of Brown Eyed Girls before and now I'm off to check out all their vids. The author shows a lot of love for Hyuna's music and while I don't think I can quite join her in that camp (I found Hyuna's voice annoying just from hearing the songs and THEN I saw the videos) I'm happy she's enjoying it.  
If you're looking for a sexy solo lady, I'd endorse Hyorin over Hyuna any day. Here's Hyorin's latest single One Way Love
I also got an email from my Kpop dealer/mentor, K.  in response to my post yesterday saying she was proud of me (aww) and pointing out a few more recs I should have included. 
How did I fail to mention that Rain's Back!!! Rain is the former king of Kpop, but he's been in the military for most of the time I've been here. Korean guys have to do two years of military service before they're 30 and two years is a freaking life-time in the Kpop industry!
Awww, Rain, you were the first Kpop star I ever heard of thanks to The Colbert Report. Many thanks to [Unknown LJ tag]  for reminding me last year about the Colbert vs. Rain Rivalry. I'm just gonna add these links even though they're tangentially related to the theme because they are hilarious, m'kay?
So, way back in 2007, when Rain beat Stephen Colbert for the top spot on a Time Magazine internet poll for "Most Influential Person" Colbert decided Rain was his nemesis and started issuing challenges. First off, he made his own music video titled "He's Singing in Korean"  (song starts at minute 4:00) with such memorable lines as "Girl, let's go for a drive in my Hyundai." My favorite bit is at the end when he declares, "Rain, I'm going to be all over you like egg on a bowl of bibimbap!"
Year 2: Colbert, once again trailing behind Rain in the poll, challenged him to a "dance-off, a cuddle-off or a spoon-off."
And finally, they actually had a Dance Off
Here's the complete chronological list of the Stephen Colbert vs. Rain Saga 
So anyway, Rain, he was such a Big Deal and now he's back and he's in his thirties and he'd like you to know that he's still sexy with his new single 30Sexy 
Okay, now I'm really done posting about Kpop for the present.  But, to quote K.'s email:
This year is going to be so epic.  Big Bang and Super Junior are both putting out music later this year!  What if they end up competing?!  Who will be crowned champion?!  What colors will each of the members' hair be?  ARE YOU READY?!
So yeah, look for another Kpop post later in the year, probably.
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KPop 102 (for Tuuli)
Okay, so I mentioned Kpop in this post last week, specifically how fickle my students are in their Kpop allegiances, which got me and [Unknown LJ tag] talking about Kpop, and I pointed her to my OLD Kpop entry (awww, from way back when I was still holding out against Kpop! Actually *writing* that post was what finally did me in. There was no going back after I spent a whole afternoon pulling up all those vids).

Anyway, two years later, I've apparently become a Kpop drug dealer.  She asked me for some more recs and as the list got longer and I thought more and more about how different this list will be from the one I posted in 2012, I figured it belonged as as a blog post rather than a comment or email.  

Alas, my Kpop dealer moved back to the US in August so I had to do some leg-work by myself to piece together the "current hits" portion of this post instead of just asking her :D  I mean, I hang out with Korean sixth graders all day though, so it wasn't that hard. They're the target demographic, after all. This list is an idiosyncratic mash-up of some of my favorites, regardless of how old they are, and some of what's currently big in Korea.  

Number Nine
 by T-ara
T-ara is my personal favorite girl group and this is their most recent single (it's few months old now, though). 
They're my favorite mostly because of this post-apocalyptic femslash epic music video from two years ago
Day by Day and Sexy Love (Complete Drama Version)  It's twenty minutes long. It's worth it. Chicks with swords, is all I'm sayin'.  
If you want those songs but minus the movie drama, here are the dance versions:
Step by Kara  The video's nothing special and it's ancient by Kpop standards (2 years old) but I really enjoy this song as it's at the beginning of the first Kpop mix CD I received and I often listen to it on my walk to work on Monday mornings for energy.
Also, here's a video of the guys from 2AM dancing to Step and "Be my Baby" , because everyone needs this in their life (and it's absolutely worth sticking around until minute 2:20 when they switch over to "Be my Baby")
Like Money by Wonder Girls ft. Akon.  I remember specifically thinking "Wonder Girls must resent Psy SO HARD!" when Gangnam Style first took over the world because Wonder Girls have been trying the hardest of all the Kpop groups to break in to the US market. I mean, come on, a WHOLE SONG in English plus Akon.
As I've already mentioned, Big Bang is my favorite of the boy bands and Fantastic Baby is my forever jam, but they haven't come out with anything new lately. The band members have all been releasing solo material in the last year but of all of it, I'm only really digging Crooked by G Dragon (boring video but cool song.) I can point you in the direction of the others though, if you're interested.
Here are some old school Big Bang recs:  
Don't Go Home by G Dragon and Top
Okay. . So what's popular right now?

Growl by EXO: I was mocking EXO in my most recent Kpop post, but they are crazy popular right now and this song's pretty awesome. If you're wondering why there are SO MANY members in this band (like, even by Kpop standards) It's because half the group is Korean and half is Chinese and they release Korean and Chinese versions of every song (which is pretty cool, right?). See, here it is in Chinese 
Girl's Generation has a new song out called Mr. Mr.  They usually drive me nuts but I'm digging this one. They've cut way back on the aegyo and I like it. I mean compare that to  Gee from way back in the day.

I'm not generally crazy about them, but 2NE1 is everywhere right now (new album out this month). Here's Come Back Home and Happy
Everybody by Shinee was super popular last semester but I don't particularly like it. The constant repetition of "everybody" in the chorus is EXACTLY the kind of thing that is impossible to get out of your head once it starts and I hear this song ALL THE TIME so it's a problem.  Also, for like two months, every time I said the word "everybody" in class my students started singing this.  I think I'm permanently conditioned to use the word "everyone" instead now. 
I had this same problem in 2011 of whenever I said "raise your hand" my students inevitably started singing "Hands Up" by 2PM (and I hate that song for the same reasons).  Anyway, for Shinee I prefer last year's Why So Serious?  and Sherlock from two years ago will always have a special place in my heart--I'm happy Shinee and I can share a fandom and I will forever be amused by the levels of wank the timing of this video coming out a few months after season 2 of Sherlock caused on the tumblr "sherlock" tag)
So yeah, that should get you started. . .
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The Singaporean Food Post
I go on a vacation, I post photos of food. You know the drill.

The Singapore EditionCollapse )</div> crossposted from

Introductory Lessons
Woo hoo, I'm done with all my introductory classes! They went really well, this semester's batch of kids seem less shy at the start than most. And they're so well-behaved and eager to please at the beginning of the year. Oh, they're cute now, but I know what those sixth graders will be acting like second semester. . . Haha, not going to be my problem though, I'm leaving after this semester.

I don't think it's an over-exaggeration to say that I've taught my introductory lesson HUNDREDS of times. I mean, I teach it dozens of times every semester.

I have two favorite parts. The first is when I illustrate how far South Korea is from the US by a) telling them how long the flight takes and b) telling them what time it is in America "Right now it's 10 am, Wednesday in Korea. If we called my Dad and asked him what time it was in America he would say 8 pm, Tuesday!" This blows. their. minds. "Teacher, What! Teacher, How! Teacher, Crazy! Oh my god!"

My second favorite part of the lesson is at the end, after telling them my favorite things (hobby, sport, food, etc.) we play "four corners" where I give them 4 options of favorites within a category and they have to go to their favorite's corner.

I love this part of the lesson for a few reasons. They get so passionate about which one is *the best* and also, I get to mockingly shout "What! You betrayed your country!" when, invariably, about 75% of EVERY class chooses fried chicken as their favorite food (with pizza as a distant second) and only a few kids pick bulgogi or gimbap.

The final slide, the one they get most excited about and the one that buys me the most "cool teacher cred," is "What is your favorite kpop group?"

I use the same powerpoint presentation for this lesson every semester but I constantly have to change this slide because Korean kids are so fickle in their k-pop allegiances. I used to think that kpop groups calling every one of their CDs a "comeback" was a Konglish mistake but honestly, even if you go 6 months without a new song, Koreans really treat it like a comeback "Oh yeah, Shinee, I vaguely remember liking them in the distant past."

Case in point, in the mere semester since I last updated this presentation, B1A4, last semester's big favorite, has completely fallen out of favor. "Teacher, EXO! Where is EXO!" And there was practically laughter when I suggested Shinee, Infinite and 2pm. Man, they ONLY care about EXO these days. I seriously had to run back to my office between 2nd and 3rd period today and change out B1A4 for EXO because the outcry was so great in the morning classes.

I'm sorry, school children of Korea, I'm just always sort of going to be biased against EXO. Dear EXO, if you weren't going to learn how to pronounce the word, then you shouldn't have named your song Wolf (also, everything about that song and video is ridiculous) And I mean, History was pretty good, but seriously, are you trying to bring hammer pants back? Do you think that's a good idea??? This is as bad as 2PM with the freaking bolo ties

I also know the kids have been really into Crayon Pop for the last six months, but I refuse to put them in my presentation because their songs make me want to stab myself in the ear. I mean, I thought it couldn't get worse than Bar, Bar, Bar but then they released a CHRISTMAS SONG! There's a limit to my pandering, the limit is Crayon Pop.

Well. . .that turned into a kpop rant.

So, anyway, today was my last day of introductory classes and it went really well (except for the EXO mishap). All my classes were in the morning and then lunch was AMAZING. It was bibimbap day! Oh bibimbap day, I look forward to you all semester :D As if bibimbap wasn't great enough, we also had my favorite of the school lunch soups AND there was kkakdugi (깍두기) a.k.a. "radish kimchi" a.k.a. "my favorite kimchi." Seriously, the only thing that could have made this lunch even better would be myulchi (멸치) my favorite side-dish (tiny crispy fried anchovies with nuts in a honey sauce, trust me, it's amazing) . I got so excited, I took a picture :D

Mmmm, best school lunch.

It really made up for yesterday's TERRIBLE lunch at my visiting school. We had "mud fish soup" (추어탕). It tastes about as good as the name would lead you to imagine. Yum, "mud fish." It's not just the name though, see, mud fish are really bony, too bony to eat like regular fish, so they puree it and use the paste as the soup base. I mean, it's not the WORST thing I've eaten, but even before I knew it was pureed fish (back when I thought it was some unappealing variation of soy bean paste) I didn't like it. And once you know it's pureed mudfish, there's no going back. They serve this about once a month, I don't know why the cafeteria staff at that school are so crazy about mudfish soup, most of my Korean co-workers don't like it either and we've NEVER had it at my main school.

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Little Did She Know. . .
Or, how an email chain that started out simply as [personal profile] epershand  and I expressing excitement over John Hodgman reblogging Marjorie's review of his book quickly morphed into a discussion about how we are all probably trapped within a double brain-in-vat scenario (or some of us are possibly fictional characters). This is quite possibly my favorite email chain of all time. Partly because I feel like only the three of us could ever have produced it and partly because it's basically an homage to John Hodgman with generous helpings of love for Community and about a dozen quasi-philosophical sci-fi tropes.

I decided that just thinking these thoughts wasn't geeky enough and I added hyperlinks to all the movie/tv/book allusions. This ended up taking more time than actually writing these emails. All the unlinked allusions come from John Hodgman's magnificant books of Complete World Knowledge: The Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That Is All. You should read them, they are the best.

Even if you're not going to read this exercise in Ridiculousness, you should know that JOHN HODGMAN LOVES MARJORIE! He "liked" her review of his book on Goodreads and then a week later he reblogged it on his website. They are now friends on goodreads!

Now, onto the discussion. I ask you, what if we are all prisoners in a fiction created by The Deranged Millionaire?

Also, here's a picture of ME sitting in the Food Court at the Mall of America reading The "Secrets of the Mall of America Food Court" passage from The Areas of My Expertise. This post, of necessity, focuses on Marjorie interacting with/fangirling it up about John Hodgman, but who do you think took all the photos? Who do you think made "reading about the secrets of the Mall of America food court while sitting in the Mall of America food court" her Number 1 travel goal for visiting Minnesota? That's right, it was me, back when I was still a real person (or at least more real than I currently am).
</user> crossposted from

The Full Tale of Amnesia Sandwich Day
What is this Amnesia Sandwich Day of which you speak?Collapse )

This entry really only makes sense read in conjunction with the post "Little Did She Know. . ." Well, you can read this on its own and enjoy a year-old tale of Marjorie and I having fun in Minnesota but if you want to know why I'm posting about this now and why I keep referencing Marjorie potentially being an evil scientist who drugged my sandwich and placed me in a fake world you should check out the other post.

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