Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yakuza livers

Yakuza boss gets liver, donates $100k to UCLA Medical Center, people get suspicious.
Unfortunately that's really common in Japan. Bribing, err, making sure your doctor keeps treating you right by giving him/her lots of money. Don't worry UCLA, this just means he'll come back.

My on again off again affair with Brooklyn.

I almost miss the days when I didn't use photographs on the blog. If only because it made describing the ridiculous things I saw so much more entertaining.

Case in point: Skateboarders in South Brooklyn.

Now, I'm no Vanessa Torres, but I just name-dropped her, so I deserve at least some poser cred. And "poser cred" is all I deserve... because I LIVE IN BROOKLYN NOW. Skaters in Brooklyn look just like skaters at the Puente Hills Mall -- tools. The only thing that is supposed to make them feel holier than the 'burbs is the fact that you can see Manhattan in the background instead of a big ole car dealership.

On a nice sunny day, I'll go ambling through the neighborhood, when what to my pleasure, a pack of teens will be standing on skateboards, wearing some hard-core styles. Black cigarette jeans, distressed Misfits shirt, 10 gajillion dollar sneakers...

Now, see, I used to love watching skaters, if only because I dated one really bad one. Mostly I enjoyed watching him negotiate falling on his ass in front of his girlfriend. "Did she see that?"

So, I stand there and wait for any one of the eager looking kids to do something anything. Though I admittedly look and feel like the encouraging parent or aunt or whatever. Still, I expect their concentrated looks and group formation to signify that I should respect the trick-route that is to birth from the space between us. Fall, dammit. That would be good. If I saw them fall I'd actually clap (to myself). But 9 times out of 10 these guys are just "sitting" on their boards. When they do roll around, they look pissed because they've missed the opportunity to do something Thrasher-tastic, when really they're just scared to mess their hair up.

I hear the following in passing:

"Yeah, I got it for Christmas." (motioning to board)
"Aren't there like, none left?"
"Yeah. I try not to grind on it. (Pause in which they both silently acknowledge the fact there's no way this kid grinds)...'cuz you know, I got another board for that."

You just lost your right to wear that oversized baseball cap with the level bill, young man. Take that gold circle sticker, off...NOW! Until you actually rip something, you are forced to wear something else. A helmet maybe. Or better still, barrettes.

Whatever. I'm a poser too. Friends are going to tell me I doth protest too much. I am the queen of "buying a band t-shirt at a concert before I've heard their album." And you'll still find me defaulting to the only skateshop in South BK to get coffee in their adjunct espresso bar. It makes me feel ten years younger ok? Like the 50-something year old lady I saw in their the other day pimping fluorescent purple Nikes, mom jeans, and a TUCKED IN CARE-BEARS T-SHIRT! No joke I really saw that it was awesome high five.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Overheard on PBS

From News Hour:
Don Coover is a veterinarian and semen seller.

I thought there must be a better way to talk about his work, but no. Semen-seller.

Person I'm Glad I'm Not, Today (PIGINT)

Melissa Barton says Morningside Elementary teacher Wendy Portillo had her son's classmates say what they didn't like about 5-year-old Alex. She says the teacher then had the students vote, and voted Alex, who is being evaluated for Asperger's syndrome -- an autism spectrum disorder -- out of the class by a 14-2 margin.

(shaking head in hand)

Not Safe For Smelling

I know smells. I even love them. Someone once asked me "what's kimchi?" and I said: You know that smell you complain about when I open my fridge, that I refuse to do anything about? That's kimchi. I did not define kimchi in substance, no. I honored it in its odor. And yes, I love it.

I also appreciate human b.o. in moderation. In fact it seems wrong to me when someone smells overpoweringly of deodorant. As a friend once put it, "it smells of desperation, doesn't it?" I'll take an armpit taqueria over a miasma of Axe any day.

However, today on my way into midtown I smelled something that made me almost churl. For the first time in my life, I pulled over on the sidewalk and held my spasmodic gut (sober, mind you) as I recovered from a stink so vicious it ought to be criminalized. I was nasally raped.

I was walking atop a subway grate when a gust blew upward carrying with it the smell of human pus, if human pus were cooked in industrial vats under infrared lights by subway hobos who hadn't ever showered before.

You know that classic shot in The Seven Year Itch with Marilyn Monroe pushing down her white dress-skirt? Well I was wearing a dress too, and pushing down the draft with my eyes half-closed in poisoned delirium, but it was not sexy. I think I contracted Gonorrhea of the nostrils. Do you capitalize Gonorrhea?

Oh btw, there's this awesome profile of the guy who invented Wii (who also designed Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong and Zelda).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Isabella Rosselini. My new hero.

I can't stop watching this. It's the most amazing thing, ever.
Link from Sarah

Monday, May 19, 2008

It's funny because it's racist.

Definition of a love/hate relationship:

Saturday Night Live just isn't what it used to be. I mean, nothing beats early SNL. SNL sucks.
Did you see that thing on SNL? It was hilarious.

I for one dislike SNL mostly because their idea of "funny" is staging actors who think too highly of themselves being funny. It's like watching a high school talent show featuring the members of the drama club and football team portraying their favorite teachers. They are people who are un-challenged, and therefore unchallenging.

But occasionally, they get it perfect.

(link via Ryan)

Plug -- Translucent Tree

Don't want to say too much about this because I've interviewed the author of the thing in question elsewhere, but I wanted to make a public shout-out, since I probably won't get a chance to say much about the translation:

I voraciously read through a book translated from Japanese the other day that blew my socks off. And to be honest, normally I have a hard time reading translations when I've already read the original (which I had), if for no other reason than that I'm reading the same story twice; frequently worse for it. [Don't start with me, grad students.]

Anyway, frequent ill iterate commenter Deborah, is the translator of this very work! I thought that deserved mention.

The book.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Can't We All Just Look Alike?

I was riding the bus downtown yesterday when a middle-aged Latino man came up to me, totally unprovoked (i.e. no eye contact or brushing past each other) and asked:

Do you know how I can get money to China? You know, for the earthquake?

In disbelief, I blinked incredulously, but then said with no tone of offense:

I have no idea.

and turned 45 degrees away from him, with decisive annoyance. But! The guy confronted me again and repeated his question:

You don't know how to get money to the earthquake victims in China? My wife and I would really like to help them out.

And so now I'm feeling bad, you know. Like, "yeah, maybe I ought to know how to get money to China." This is what I wanted to say:

Why don't you just give me your money, and I'll make sure my people get it.

What I ended up saying:

Try the Red Cross.

On a related note, People magazine thinks all Asians look alike.
Mistakenly (but confidentally) identifying that Korean actor in Speed Racer as K-Pop singing sensation, Rain.

[To be fair, the producers of the film probably made the same mistake.]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The South Korea.

(picture taken at a noraebang that had tambourines, wigs, and...a chicken mask?)
Last post on Korea.

I frequently find myself in the middle of a convergence, and the trip to Korea was no different. It wasn't just that Korea has so much in common with the rest of the world I've seen (admittedly limited). It was that things went out of their way to answer my quiet questions. Things...facts, really.

I came into Seoul to see a friend get married, along with his college buddies. Two guys who grew up in The South and had more "Casian" and "Seoul food" jokes than I thought were mathematically possible. [My favorite neolo-pun though, was "getting Han jobs." But be careful who you say that to. One Korean dude thought we were serious and told us where we could get two minute rim jobs.]

Concurrently, this guy left an entry for my Dry T-Shirt Contest #2, which encouraged readers to come up with a new tourist slogan for Korea. His entry:

Korea: The South Will Rise Again!
(confederate soldier holding a Korean flag)

Moving on...

One thing I've heard from countless American women going abroad, and specifically, to Asia, is how frustrating it is to try on clothes. You leave New York a size 4 and end up in Seoul a size XXL. For my part, I'd already actually gained a chunk of weight this year, so I was prepared not to take the size discrepancies too much to heart. But I suppose it's especially heartbreaking for Asian-American women like myself, to have to keep up with the same exorbitant eating habits as the rest of the locals, share the same DNA, and yet, keep getting chunkier...something older women will say is "your body getting ready to have kids!" [Anne puts head in hand.]

So I came to the wedding mantra-lizing something about inner beauty, and left it at that. Mere moments after arriving at the wedding hall, a mentally retarded guest showed up. He immediately took to me and the other Americans. He kept trying to give me his handkerchief, asking that I promise to give it back to him at the end of the night. He kept apologizing for creeping me out. He kept taking my camera, then other people's cameras, to take my picture. I can't say I did the right thing (endear him), but I eventually took a picture of him.
Inner beauty y'all.

Concurrently, a woman seated at my table said through her bilingual boyfriend, totally unprovoked, "Anne, you are a perfect beauty. Your face is perfect." She said this almost as if apologizing for my insecurities. And she said it in a tone somewhere between the expectation of my reciprocating into small talk and likeminded inner defeat. But seriously. How do you respond to that? You don't.

All that to say I gave off major psychic vibes and they were all answered across oceans and across tables, across words and images.

Lastly, my favorite convergence:The look on the Korean man eating his ice cream is priceless, made more so by the fact that we American tourists later replicated it eating silk worm larvae.

Korea, Bowls

Don't open your stoner eyes just yet. I mean bowls like "bowl cuts."

A few months ago a KA friend of mine got a bowl cut that I thought was cute, but was ultimately misunderstood. I concluded that Asians had a harder time rocking the nerd-core look; bowl cuts and thick glasses are construed as sincere until you put on five billion dollar sneakers or a big red plastic brooch in the United States.

But then I came to Korea, and there were bowl cuts. Everywhere. On everyone.

Exhibit A: Traditional Bowl Cut Nouveau:
This is the bowl cut you saw most frequently around Seoul. I for one can tell it's hip, but I'd understand if this noona got big mouthy "hello"s from servicemen.

Exhibit B: Matching Bowl Cuts:
Boyfriends and girlfriends matching their shit up is not uncommon here. Case in point: lingerie. Yes, I said panties and bras. They sell matching his/her panties at the local equivalent of Spencer's Gifts/Claire's Accessories. So why wouldn't you get a haircut to match the one you 're boning? [This couple was really cute, but I couldn't help thinking they looked a little related (she's wearing a plain white shirt under that black cardigan)]

Exhibit C: Born-Again Bowl Cut:
This is me at the wedding. I went in for a "trim" and came out with a bowl cut. Go figure...It's kinda ok though. I think I'm pulling off the ajumma-core pretty well without giving off too much Han.

Exhibit D: OG Bowl-Cut, aka the Bowled Over:
Undoubtedly my favorite -- the bowl cut that can't help itself. Years of bowlish habitude have forced him to dig deep in the back of his head for something he can comb over...or maybe it's just a toupee.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Korea Trip, Teaser Post

As if to counterpoint a week spent in a dorm suite with four other people, a backed up sewage drain and a functionless telephone (i.e. almost total radio-silence), the last couple of days of my trip to Korea were spent at an uber-luxuriant mega-complex known as The Lotte Hotel in the heart of Seoul.

We're talking serious extravagance. I mean, I would guess someone who actually ASKED for more would have their world rocked into a new dimension. As it was, I went in meek as a foreign mouse, and got a french press, fresh grounds, ridunculous furniture, a full set of real glassware, remotized everything, every bathroom product imaginable, Venetian showers (is that what it's called when the 12-inch diameter head hangs from the ceiling?), and get this...complimentary access to an indoor friggin' driving range, equipped with clubs, gloves, gear and all.


So it should not have come as any surprise to turn on the TV and get this:
Have you ever seen so many adult movie options on a hotel tv? I mean, what's an "all day adult movie," and why is that different from "on demand"? Of course, I was doubly blown away by what I perceived to be a "disabled adult movie" option. That's disable, as in porn starring the handicapped. When I showed this picture to a friend, he shook his head and said, "Anne. It says 'disable adult movies,' as in the option to turn off all those movies."

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dry T-Shirt Contest #2

Alright. You guys didn't vote for any one DRUG acronym en masse. Y'all voted for different people! And I admit most of the entries were in fact equal in quality. So here are the runner ups, and I'm going to try this again. Vote...or as Puff once said, die.

Don't Rape Underaged Girls, Silly
Don't Repent Unless God Says
Doped Regularly, Ultimately Gonads Shriveled

Special dibs go out to this gem of dialogue:

Gerry from PDX's entry: Damned Rand Upsets Grumpy Socialists.

Email response: Who's the smart-ass with the "Damned Rand Upsets Grumpy Socialists"? (...)Rand jokes aren't funny(...)God, I hate Rand.


On that note: Dry T-Shirt Contest #2!!!

In light of the fact that I'm going to Korea all of this week, I'd like to see your best tourist slogan for the Peninsular Paradise. [strictly forbidden: blatantly racist jokes. I will cut you if you try anything lame.]

Winner gets their slogan printed on a T-shirt!

BTW everyone, prints in and of themselves are free for anyone who wants one without entering my stupid contest. "Maine, I wanna live there forever...I'm gonna learn how to fly (fish)" and "Don't Seattle For Less" are both available for free provided you send me your own shirt and a SASE. I mean, you probably got some danky ole shirt and a buck fitty lying around your house right?