Sunday, February 14, 2016

encounter with a frog in a well

It was during my all-day session at KMA yesterday that I encountered a man who apparently sympathizes greatly with North Korea. At one point, during a break, he resentfully asked why America felt the need to force regime change on North Korea. I conceded that this was a difficult question, given the possibility of war, but I noted that no one really hates North Korean citizens: they hate the cause of those citizens' woes, i.e., the North Korean government.* Had I gone further, I would also have noted that North Korea has repeatedly threatened both Japan and the US with "sea of fire" rhetoric, which makes North Korea our problem as much as South Korea's. I asked my student whether doing nothing while North Korean people suffered could be considered moral. He had no answer.

To be fair to my NK sympathizer, he was probably focused on the issue of national sovereignty. From his point of view, America's actions—trying to pressure China to come down harder on NK, dialoguing with SK about installing a THAAD defense system, reinforcing UN sanctions that have already been put in place, enacting more sanctions, etc.—amount to foreign meddling. This is about as frog-in-a-well an attitude as is possible, given how it fails to consider North Korea in a more global context, but I can see where my interlocutor was coming from, blinkered though his perspective might be.

No one wants war. That's a given. But both North Korea, with its blustering rhetoric and escalating war-tech development, and China, with its recalcitrance at the UN and its enabling of North Korea, are forcing us further down that path. Something's eventually got to give. It might not happen for a few ears yet, but a sudden cascade failure up north seems very likely, and no one's going to be ready for it: not China, which is trying to clamp down on border activity, and which takes a hard line to NK defectors that it catches and repatriates; not the US, which doesn't have enough boots on the ground to do much in the event of a real refugee crisis; and especially not South Korea, which has chosen to hide in a corner, curled up in a fetal position, eyes squeezed shut and hands over the ears.

In that context, the closure of the Kaesong industrial complex is a welcome turn of events. I've seen a lot of weeping and wailing about this from softer hearts on Twitter (none of whom I'd want to have in charge of peninsular affairs), but as far as I'm concerned, it's the first hint of any spine from South Korea—a baby step toward dealing with North Korea in a firm and consistently principled manner. Some South Koreans want to blame Kaesong's closure on America and American pressure; ultimately, though, this was South Korea's decision to make. If America applied pressure, it was probably mostly rhetorical in nature: there was no brutal violation of South Korea's sovereignty, no Mafia-style strong-arming.

North Korea is being fed by all sorts of lifelines. China is the main supplier and supporter, but South Korea has been complicit, too, as it continues to bumble along the path described by the utterly naïve and misguided Sunshine Policy. The world at large is just as much a sucker: international NGOs do their best to supply food directly to the North Korean people, but the DPRK military is already there at the drop-off points, ready to redistribute those supplies to the military first, allowing barely a trickle to reach the people who really need sustenance. By closing Kaesong, South Korea removes one of many lifelines feeding the North Korean government—something that, by all rights, it should have done long ago.

My interlocutor was obviously blinded by his own weird admixture of nationalism and pro-North sentiment. He saw the matter too simply and superficially. He was also influenced by the natural Korean tendency to look askance at outsiders. Koreans often keenly feel the insider/outside divide even within the Korean social context: if two Koreans get into a brawl while inside a subway car, Korean witnesses will step back and give the brawlers room rather than try to intervene. "Not my problem; I don't know these people." Korean law also seems to reflect this value: would-be do-gooders who get involved in a brawl might end up facing legal action, a consequence that arguably causes witnesses to hesitate. Where's the motivation to get involved? With that sort of mentality being ambient in South Korea, it's not surprising that many South Koreans think the way my interlocutor does. Not surprising, and unfortunate.

*It might seem strange, at first, to dichotomize citizens and government: the government is, after all, composed of citizens, is it not? True, but in a place like North Korea, there is a divide so deep between government workers and regular citizens that it's practically ontological in nature, as if two completely different classes of beings lived in that part of the Korean peninsula. For that reason, I feel justified in positing this dichotomy.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

powerful words

From Thomas Keller, chef, in Tim Ferriss's The Four-hour Chef:

One day, I asked my rabbit purveyor to show me how to kill, skin, and eviscerate a rabbit. I had never done this, and I figured if I was going to cook rabbit, I should know it from its live state through the slaughtering, skinning and butchering, and then the cooking. The guy showed up with 12 live rabbits. He hit one over the head with a club, knocked it out, slit its throat, pinned it to a board, skinned it - the whole bit. Then he left.

I don't know what else I expected, but there I was out in the grass behind the restaurant, just me and 11 cute bunnies, all of which were on the menu that week and had to find their way into a braising pan. I clutched at the first rabbit. I had a hard time killing it. It screamed. Rabbits scream, and this one screamed loudly. Then it broke its leg trying to get away. It was terrible. The next 10 rabbits didn't scream and I was quick with the kill, but that first screaming rabbit not only gave me a lesson in butchering, it also taught me about waste. Because killing those rabbits had been such an awful experience, I would not squander them. I would use all my powers as a chef to ensure that those rabbits were beautiful.

It's very easy to go to a grocery store and buy meat, then accidentally overcook it and throw it away. A cook sauteing a rabbit loin, working the line on a Saturday night, a million pans going, plates going out the door, who took that loin a little too far, doesn't hesitate, just dumps it in the garbage and fires another. Would that cook, I wonder, have let his attention stray from that loin had he killed the rabbit himself ? No. Should a cook squander anything ever?


Friday, February 12, 2016

à propos du socialisme

A good read from Glenn Reynolds (a.k.a, the Instapundit) re: how Bernie Sanders himself, and probably not his socialism, is what's so appealing to the younger voting contingent.

Socialism usually starts with talk of “fairness,” but it generally ends in tyranny and poverty. As Alan Kors wrote back in 2003: “No cause, ever, in the history of all mankind, has produced more cold-blooded tyrants, more slaughtered innocents, and more orphans than socialism with power. It surpassed, exponentially, all other systems of production in turning out the dead. The bodies are all around us.

The piece also discusses socialism as it's instantiated in northern Europe and Venezuela. I agree with the article that it's not fair to call Scandinavia "socialist" as if that were the whole truth of the matter: the reason those countries are so prosperous is that they are, in large part, market economies. This makes them a bit like China, if anything: politically speaking, they may toe some sort of leftist line, but economically speaking, they know what actually works to maximize eudaimonia. Because they aren't stupid the way Hugo Chavez was.



As much as I loved my döner from the other night, I was also jonesing for some gyros, so tonight, Poison Girls, I made one. It was easy, given that I'd done all the prep over the past few days: it was simply a matter of pan-frying the naan a bit (I use naan in place of pita because most store-bought pita bread sucks and is no good for making proper gyros), reheating the succulent meat, and adding sauces and toppings. Here are two pictures of tonight's gyro—one of the gyro all splayed out like a fat man on a beach, the other with the gyro tucked nicely into a foil wrap, fast-food-style.


Wrapped up and ready to defend Thermopylae:

I had put some spiciness into the gyro: there was a bit of my smoky red-chili sauce on the naan, covered over by a healthy helping of tzatziki. There were also plenty of green-chili peppers stuffed in there as well, but strangely, when I ate the gyro, nothing tasted all that fiery. That's a good thing; my asshole could use a break.

The spices were done right, I know, because it's a couple hours later and I'm still belching them up. A good gyro, like a good döner, won't let you forget it that easily.

I've got enough for a few more gyros. How bad can life be?


Thursday, February 11, 2016

two dinners

A movie and dinner with Lig this past Tuesday. You've seen my review of "Kung Fu Panda 3," so we can move on to talking about dinner at the Jamshil branch of California Pizza Kitchen. Dinner wasn't bad, all in all, although I never got a single drink refill, which was saddening. Our meals came with the standard sides of pickled carrot, turnip, and jalapeños, none of which you'd ever see at the US incarnations of this chain.

While Lig and I were waiting for dinner (there was a 30-minute backlog), we stepped outside for a moment to appreciate the monstrous grandeur of the Lotte World Tower, which punched toward the heavens right next to us. We talked about what it might be like to jump off; I remarked that a jumper at the very top would end up hitting the building on the way down, given its outward-flaring shape. Lig blinked prettily and asked me whether I'd had experience with this sort of thing before. "Why, yes," I replied sarcastically.

We'd been given no pager to signal when to go back to CPK; I had simply set my phone's countdown timer. At around T minus five minutes, we headed back and were given a menu by the hostess. We perused it and were encouraged to order right then and there; we'd be seated, and our order would be passed along to the stove-and-oven proles. Lig, who eats like a bird, got a modest-sized cheese-and-spinach flatbread. I ordered the pepperoni as well as an avocado egg-roll appetizer for us to share. We ordered drinks once we were at the table.

The Southwestern egg roll was tiny but good. It came with two similar-looking, similar-tasting sauces. I could have eaten about twenty more of them. The egg rolls, I mean—not the sauces.

Below, we have Lig's plate. She and I traded slices of flatbread and pizza, which is why you see pizza on her plate. I think she might have been almost full after eating just that.

Lastly, a blurry pic of my pizza:

After a movie and dinner, it was time to shop. Lig accompanied me on my postprandial hunt for a slow-cooker, which I needed so as to be able to make pulled pork the following day for Charles. We looked at Hi-Mart inside the gigantic Lotte mall, and while we encountered a whole slew of shiny, unaffordable gadgets, there were no slow-cookers in evidence. An employee showed us some rice cookers that all cost from $350 to $500. Ridiculous. You can get a standard cooker in the States for under $25. $350 for a rice cooker is insane. We marched over to Home Plus, about ten minutes away on foot. Again, no luck. I realized that I had bought my original slow-cooker at an E-Mart down in Hayang, so I gambled that I'd find what I wanted at the Yangjae E-Mart next to Costco. Lig said it was getting too late for her to continue the search, so she and I went our separate ways. She lives in the Jamshil neighborhood, so all she had to do was walk home. I hopped into a cab and headed for the Yangjae district. And sure enough, I found the same model of slow-cooker that I had owned and then given to my buddy Jang-woong for Christmas. Third time's a charm.

The next day was all about prepping for Charles's arrival. He had promised to bring a set of slider buns to surround my pulled pork (talk of "buns" and "pork" gets rapidly Freudian). I cleaned my place—more or less—and went to Itaewon to look for naan, cilantro, and some other needful items. Didn't find the cilantro, so I bought coriander powder as something to add to my otherwise-fresh salsa roja. We compromise because we must.

Per Murphy's Law, work expanded to fill the available time. Charles arrived slightly early, while I was still chopping olives for nachos. It didn't take long for him to show me his luscious, perfectly round little buns, and not long after that, we were making sliders and photographing them. Charles went with cheese for his first slider; I went with my homemade cole slaw:

Charles is an avid baker, and while he's never presented me with bad bread, I'd still say that he's improved over the years, and he's gotten very creative along the way. The slider buns, in this case, were a combination of whole wheat and an ancient grain called teff. The result was a firm, almost perfectly spherical bun made shiny thanks to an egg wash. While not the standard white-bread roll, the teffish bun had an interesting and earthy flavor that I felt complemented the pork quite nicely. It was a weird sort of unintentional harmony (how could either of us know for sure how this pairing was going to work?), and the bread would have been great for noshing without any accompaniment at all. It was firm, but not dry or crumbly like a bran muffin, nor was it overly soft and chewy. Hats off to Charles for a job well done.

As for the pork: I had separated the tenderloin and the shoulder. They had slow-cooked together, but I sauced them separately and presented the bowls to Charles. Charles could tell right away which was which (to be honest, this was more a question of biology than of culinary aesthetics: the difference in the muscle fibers is screamingly obvious), so there was little point in making him undergo a taste test.

Charles ate three sliders; I had two. Phase 2 of dinner was nachos. I had cooked up some homemade chili (and for that pretentious touch, I'd even added a bit of chocolate) and prepped store-bought cheese and guacamole, chopped tomatoes, chopped olives, fresh chilis, sour cream, and homemade salsa roja.

The results in my bowl (also bought specially for this occasion):

I had wanted to move beyond nachos to Phase 3: gyros/döner kebab. We never got there, alas. Sliders and nachos had done their evil work, establishing firm beachheads in our respective gullets. We talked and digested—enough for me to bring out dessert: my "mouce" au chocolat. Poor Charles knew he wouldn't be able to finish—especially not a dessert that was little more than heavy cream and two forms of chocolate. Charles did comment that the dessert wasn't as oppressively sweet as he'd thought it would be (or as I'd led him to believe), and he ate as much as he could without turning eating into a chore. Personally, I found the "mouce" rich and creamy and heavy, but it was delicious all the same. I think I like this style better than Nigella Lawson's mousse recipe, which calls for marshmallows to provide the airiness and creaminess (see my old blog entry here, for starters).

Mon dessert, fait maison:

Lig has been to my place quite a few times now, but this was Charles's first time at my humble abode. He never once stepped into my bathroom, so he couldn't appreciate the full Lovecraftian horror of that part of my dwelling. Maybe next time. There's always next time.

I promised Charles that we'd do gyros/döner if we ever did this again. In an email, he said he'd like to shoulder more of the culinary load next time. That's fine. Even if he doesn't, that's also fine. I thought that having his bread was great, but I'm okay with cooking it all myself: it's a pleasure—at least when things go more or less right, as I think they did yesterday evening.

ADDENDUM: Charles's take on yesterday's meet-up is here.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

what's cooking?

My buddy Charles is coming over this evening, so I'm engaged in final prep for his visit. Tonight is primarily going to be a pulled-pork kind of night, but I've got a few other things on the menu, including nachos, gyros (I'm going full-on Greek), apple crumble, and chocolate mouce. I made a kickin' blended salsa roja for the nachos, but I didn't have any cilantro, so I have to go out and buy some from High Street, assuming they have any left (their stock of "coriander" was pretty low the last time I was there). I'd bought Doritos because they're triangular (better for nachos than circular chips, which overlap like scale armor and don't let any chili or cheese dribble into the cracks).

The pork is currently in the slow-cooker, cooking slowly. By about 5PM, it ought to be ready for extraction, broiling (for charred tips), and saucing. I need to finish up this entry, clean my place up a bit, then go shopping, come back, make the crumble and mouce, and make guacamole with the avocados I bought yesterday.


"Noah" and "Kung Fu Panda 3": two mini-reviews


2014's "Noah" is a strange effort by cerebral director Darren Aronofsky, who was also responsible for films like "Black Swan," "The Wrestler," "Pi," and "Requiem for a Dream." "Noah" stars Russell Crowe as the eponymous protag, a British-accented Jennifer Connelly as Noah's wife Naameh (never named in the Bible, but mentioned in a midrash, although it's unclear exactly who her father was: either Lamech or Enoch), Emily Watson as the non-canonical Ila, Ray Winstone as Tubal-cain, Douglas Booth as Noah's dutiful son Shem, Logan Lerman as Noah's son Ham, Leo McHugh Carroll as Noah's youngest son Japheth, Anthony Hopkins as Noah's grandfather Methuselah, and a slew of famous voices playing the Watchers—fallen angels cursed to walk the earth as living rocks for having helped primordial humans after their expulsion from Eden. Tubal-cain stands in for all of sinful, irredeemable humanity, and he works to seduce Ham to his cause. Noah himself comes off as a God-driven figure whose devotion to the Creator leads him to the brink of some truly inhumane acts. Unlike "Troy," which was a demythologized retelling of The Iliad, "Noah" takes a magical-realist tack, portraying any and all miracles as literally true. I found the film to be a bit of a throwback to the Cecil B. DeMille era—big spectacle, flashy effects, and world-shaking drama. I didn't find the effects nearly as powerful as some critics apparently did; the Watchers in particular reminded me too much of the lurching, clunky APUs from "The Matrix Revolutions." I suppose certain believers might have gotten a kick out of this film, but I really had to wonder what a director like Aronofsky must have seen in the biblical source material. This just didn't feel like something that should have fascinated him enough to make a movie.

"Kung Fu Panda 3"

This year's "Kung Fu Panda 3" stars Jack Black as Po the Panda, Angelina Jolie as Tigress, Jackie Chan as Monkey, Lucy Liu as Viper, Seth Rogen as Mantis, David Cross as Crane, Dustin Hoffman as Sifu, Randall Duk Kim as Oogway, JK Simmons as Kai, and Bryan Cranston as Po's biological father, Li Shan. Po reunites with his father and goes off to the secret panda village to learn what it means to be a panda. Meanwhile, the menacing ox (buffalo?) General Kai escapes the spirit world, where he had been banished by his former friend and ally Oogway, and begins absorbing the chi of every mortal kung fu master he meets. Chi is one of the film's major themes and tropes; another theme is Know Thyself, as Po is confronted, on several levels, with the question "Who am I?"—a question familiar to anyone who has studied Zen. There's less actual, physical kung fu in this film than in previous ones: the battles are more metaphysical than physical. The humor struck me as a bit thin and worn, and the movie actually dragged for long periods because it was so talky. On a philosophical level, I thought this film was fairly barren; the first movie takes the cake for containing many shorthand instances of Asian wisdom. Things didn't really gel for me until we were near the movie's end, and Po finally begins to realize just who he is. That said, I've had the feeling, ever since the second movie, that Po's mastery of the various concepts and skills mentioned in this series is largely unearned—a point that's emphasized every time Sifu grimaces when he discovers that Po has almost accidentally mastered something that Sifu had been studying for decades. Another implausibility is that Po asks Sifu, "What's chi?" near the beginning of the film. How could Po have undergone all that kung fu training and never once have heard of the concept of chi before? Highly unlikely. The issue of Po's having two fathers—the duck who adopted him and his real, biological father—isn't handled with much emotional depth, and the Furious Five are given precious little dialogue this time around. All in all, I found the visuals watchable, but I was left wanting more. Cute, but underwhelming.


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Dr. V on our electoral future

Dr. Vallicella's post on the unworkability of Sanders's socialism ends with some predictions about the near future:

But the question of Sanders' socialism is moot. He won't get the Democrat nomination. Hillary will get the nod. And no, she will not be indicted, no matter what further evidence of her wrongdoing turns up. It is really very simple. Obama will not allow his 'gains' to be overturned or be in any way mitigated by a Republication administration. The rule of law counts for nothing for those who believe that their ends -- noble and worthy in their own eyes -- are to be achieved by any means.

So it will come down to a contest between Hillary and Rubio, and Hillary will win. Cruz is a brilliant man and would make a good president, but he is not electable because of his personality. Rubio is more personable, more of a regular guy. Trump will flame out. He is essentially an empty suit riding a short-term populist wave, to mix some metaphors. In any case, there is no way the Republicans would allow his nomination.

Those are my predictions. I hope I'm wrong about Hillary winning. She is Sanders writ small, a gradualist Sanders if you will, who cunningly hides her true convictions in the manner of the stealth ideologue that Sanders is too honest to be. I am assuming, perhaps falsely, that Hillary has convictions and is not merely out for personal gain. It might be better to say that she either has no convictions or leftist convictions.

I take the above with a grain of salt, of course: Rubio has shown himself to have feet of clay; Trump hasn't "flamed out" yet, despite many predictions that he'd do so; Sanders is apparently now neck-and-neck with Hillary at a national level—i.e., not only in New Hampshire. But who really knows what the future will bring? If nothing else, 2016 is already proving to be a more-interesting-than-usual election year.

I will agree with Dr. V, though, that Hillary won't be indicted. She's above the law, part of a dynasty, and the media are in the tank for her. That said, I hope the investigations and probes wear down her electoral viability at least a little bit. Her Servergate will certainly come up as an issue when she finds herself face-to-face with a Republican interlocutor.


Monday, February 08, 2016


I've canceled my movie outing with Ligament today. Turns out she'd completely forgotten we were going out today, anyway, so canceling or not canceling wouldn't have mattered. (She's normally the one who buys movie tickets online.) But Ligament's forgetfulness wasn't the reason why I canceled: I've been traveling back and forth between my bed and my toilet all day. The euphemism for my current condition is "stomach problems."

Before you blame spoiled meat from yesterday's döner kebab, you need to know something about my recent patient history. The day I bought the ground lamb from High Street was not the day I cooked and ate it: I had also bought a bottle of honey-roasted peanuts from High Street, and I gobbled the whole bottle over the course of 24 hours. This was about as stupid a thing as I could have done.

Chewed peanuts shred your asshole on their way out. Peanuts don't normally digest all that well to begin with; chewing them gives them nice, jagged edges that rake the inner lining of your intestines. This effect is blunted if you've eaten other food during the day, but all I had had was peanuts and water. Peanuts also cluster together inside your trembling, frightened colon to form dense, large-caliber turds, thus forcing the asshole wide as they thunder out of you en masse like a crowd of big-bellied Hell's Angels escaping a burning bar. Having your saloon doors violently bashed open is no picnic, lemme tell you.

It was while I was in that state that I prepped my döner kebab. I knew full well that I would pay for eating such spicy fare, but at the time, I was too desperate to relive my past to care. So last night I downed two döner—two spicy döner—and thought nothing of it until this morning, when I awoke with an aching belly and a strong desire to drop some atom bombs.

That first session on the pot was bad. If felt as though Satan had dipped his dick in glue, rolled his member in broken glass, and then ass-raped me. Happy New Year! I thought sarcastically as I pushed out turd after painful turd.

But we weren't done. Oh, no, Precious—there was more. A lot more. Several sessions' worth, in fact. And as the shredding continued, amplified by the capsaicin from all the chili peppers, I felt increasingly like confessing something, anything, to stop the ass-torture.

It's 4PM as I write this, and I've only just now had a lull in the bathroom trips. I felt a bit hungry after all that self-emptying, so I helped myself to a bowl of lamb with only mild condiments and trimmings: tzatziki, olives, and feta. My digestive cycle, from face-sphincter to butt-sphincter, normally runs about six hours, so I can expect more fun later tonight. Ligament and I have rescheduled for tomorrow... I can only pray that I won't have to wear a diaper (or a tampon) when I meet her.


döner kebab!

Happy Lunar New Year! It's now the Year of the Monkey!

It took a while to prep everything, but the effort was well worth it. Was my döner kebab anything like the one I'd eaten in Switzerland all those years ago? Well... no. How could it be, really? I'm no expert at making this sandwich—I'm just a man with some vague intuitions about cooking. That said, my own version of döner kebab was pretty damn good.

Here's the story. With pics.

I was relieved to find ground lamb at the High Street Market in Itaewon. I had tried to hit Hannam Market, a place I used to frequent back during my Sookmyung days, but Hannam was closed by the time I got there at a bit before eight o'clock. I cabbed over to Itaewon and saw that High Street was open, so I went in, bought some essentials (wincing at the jacked-up prices), and buggered on out of there.

My first priority was to prep the meat. This meant seasoning and spicing the lamb with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and cayenne. I also added a bit of olive oil and mixed everything together by hand. I had intended to blitz the meat in my food processor along with some fresh onions and panko bread crumbs, but I forgot the onions and panko. No matter. I turned the ground lamb into something like a paste, then slapped it into one of my small glass casseroles and placed the meat in my oven.

Here's the meat, partway done:

Next, I set about making my tzatziki sauce. Happily, the downstairs grocery in my building had Greek yogurt, which is thicker than normal yogurt. Added in: some garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and cucumbers. I ended up adding a bit more lemon juice and black pepper to give some oomph to the flavor.

Here's a photo of all the chopping and slicing I had to do to make the sandwich trimmings—black olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, chili peppers, and homemade chili sauce:

Below, a closer look at the chili sauce. I saw this recipe over at the Livestrong website and decided to try it. It's extremely simple: cayenne, red-chili flakes, and oil. Fry 'em up, let the mixture cool. In my case, I also added paprika and sriracha. The sauce tasted and smelled quite good—a worthy addition to any döner.

The following two photos are of the trimmings again. I was a bit frustrated that my phone camera would darken the already-dark items, like the olives and the chili sauce, unless I held the camera very close to them.

Ah—finally! The meat! It cooked for probably a good hour; most of the luscious fat rendered out of it, but I had other plans for that fat.

I cut the meat into thin slices. This didn't exactly simulate gyro rotisserie meat, but it was close enough for government work.

I poured the rendered fat into my large frying pan and added a half-stick of butter. I threw in a spice combo similar to the one I used when mixing the lamb meat: cumin, curry, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, parsley, and a bit of allspice. I blasted the mixture on high heat until it began to sizzle; at that point, I added the sliced lamb chunks, lowered the heat to medium, and began frying the lamb, letting it darken to a more recognizable gyro-esque color.

I scooped the meat out with a slotted spoon and piled it on a plate with a paper towel to absorb the worst of the drippings.

Here, at last, is a pic of a completed sandwich: my döner kebab.

Everything worked together perfectly. I was ecstatic. For the above sandwich, I did it more Turkish style, i.e., I concentrated on meat, tzatziki, chili sauce, and chili peppers only. I looked around in my fridge for some naan so I could make a proper gyro, but there was none: I must've eaten it all some time ago.

Undeterred, I made a second sandwich, this time with a Greek twist: I added olives, feta, lettuce, and tomatoes to the mix. You see the result below:

This version was also fantastic. I've got plenty of meat, vegetables, and bread left over, so it's with great sadness that I must report that I'll be eating döner for the next few days. Damn my ill fortune.


the Rubio/Trump flameout

Marco Rubio, according to this article, "crash[ed] and burn[ed]" during the most recent GOP debate. It was Chris Christie, the portly governor of New Jersey and no slouch as a debater, who went after Rubio with guns blazing. Rubio has had to fight a reputation for being wooden and unspontaneous. During the debate, he failed miserably at dispelling that impression.

A malfunctioning Marco Rubio crashed as he was overloaded by attacks last night from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who tried to portray the Florida U.S. senator as a Washington robot pre-programmed by political consultants during a high-stakes Republican debate.

“See, Marco — Marco — the thing is this,” Christie said, “when you’re president of the United States … the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is at the end of it doesn’t solve one problem for one person.”

Rubio’s glitchy debate performance could be a game-changer just as independents make up their minds two days before the crucial first-in-the-nation primary. The first-term senator’s rivals have raised concerns he’s too inexperienced — just like, they say, President Obama was — and isn’t ready for prime time.

Four different times — often word-for-word and at awkward non-sequiturs — Rubio claimed Obama intentionally wants to make America like the rest of the world.

“Here’s the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he’s doing,” said Rubio, repeating the line for a third time in a matter of minutes.

“There it is. There it is,” pounced Christie. “The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.”

My own impression is that Marco Rubio's heart is in the right place, but as the critics say, he lacks deep experience and is little more than a good-looking talking head. His flip-flopping on immigration has made him some important enemies among his fellow debaters, and he's done little to shake the notion that he is a tool of the Republican establishment. (The term "GOPe" has become prominent online. It can mean either "the GOP establishment" or "the GOP elite." Either way, the term is used by grass-roots Republicans who resent the richer, more privileged, out-of-touch wing of their party.)

Donald Trump was the other casualty at the recent debate, and he arguably got it worse than Rubio: he was loudly booed at least twice by the audience. The first time was during a heated exchange with Jeb Bush about eminent domain (when the government seizes private property for public use, compensating the property owner). Trump, who has been loudly and rudely dismissive of Jeb Bush up to now, actually said "Quiet!" to Bush at one point, and this is what prompted the booing. A few minutes earlier, Trump had been interrupting Bush while Bush was trying to make a point. When Bush began interrupting Trump, using Trump's own tactic, Trump's "Quiet!" sounded petty and hypocritical.

Trump's second booing incident occurred shortly thereafter, when the business magnate cracked that the folks expressing disapproval were all of Bush's "donors and special interests." Trump claimed not to be liked because he was using his own money and wasn't beholden to anyone. More booing. There may have also been some booing during Trump's closing statement when he accused Ted Cruz of having cheated in Iowa (a 180 from his surprisingly gracious concession to Cruz earlier).

Rubio will eventually be seen for the substance-free candidate he is. If the world is just, Trump will, too. Ted Cruz is probably the winner of the New Hampshire debate; most of the candidates were focused on taking down Rubio, and Trump essentially tripped over his own dick. But Cruz isn't a winner in any positive sense: he just happened to escape that crossfire more or less unscathed.

Stephen Green, the rightie PJ Media commentator who was "drunkblogging" the debate (as is his tradition), expressed displeasure with the moderators' questions, many of which had nothing to do with any substantive issues. This seems to be a recurrent theme in the GOP debates: little of real substance gets debated, partly because the leftie moderators prefer to concentrate on topics that are of no interest to conservative viewers.

Trump still seems to be polling high in New Hampshire, but we'll know more after the primary. He shot himself in the foot during this last debate, and so did Rubio. Cruz might have an advantage right now, or maybe he doesn't. It's anybody's game. I'll also be curious to see what happens between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I expect Bernie to stomp Hillary pretty thoroughly in New Hampshire, but that landscape is going to change come Super Tuesday, when many primaries and caucuses happen at the same time.


Sunday, February 07, 2016

the meat before the meat

Before I slap up any döner kebab pics, with that luscious lamb, I thought I'd give you a status update on my left middle finger. Here's what it looks like with the bandage off after about 36 hours (good thing you can't smell this):

Look closely, and you'll see the vertical tear made by the doc's evil forceps. The finger is still a bit red, but the fingertip is no longer super-sensitive to tiny bumps and bangs. I'm taking antibiotics and washing the fingertip regularly, which I hope helps. Right now, I'm airing the finger out, but I'm going to slap a bandage on it momentarily, as I have to go out and do a bit of last-minute shopping.

Kebabs won't be happening until around midnight, I fear. Stay tuned.


culinary plan for today: döner kebab

North and south of the Mediterranean, there is a beloved sandwich that goes by at least three different names. The sandwich's concept and execution are so similar in this part of the world that I'm justified in thinking of the shawarma, the gyro, and the döner kebab as essentially the same sandwich. Think I'm crazy? Then compare for yourself.


Gyro (also called a gyros).

Döner kebab.

You'll have noted that the greatest variation among the three sandwiches occurs in (1) the bread used, and (2) the sauce or sauces applied to the sandwich. Aside from that, the meat tends to be shaved, marinated rotisserie chicken, beef, or lamb; and the vegetables tend to be lettuce, tomato, and onion, possibly reflecting the modern influence of the American hamburger. A gyro is more likely to have feta cheese in it, plus white tzatziki sauce. There might also be olives. A shawarma and a döner kebab will more likely have a spicy red-chili sauce in them, although there might also be a tzatziki-like yogurt sauce to moderate the spiciness of the red sauce. Gyros in Greece might also be stuffed with—of all things—French fries, making them heartily carby.

Because my boss quite randomly and generously got me four loaves of fragrant Turkish bread on Friday, I'll be making döner kebab today. The bread isn't really the type normally used for döner, but that's fine: if you click on the döner link above, you'll see right away that bread is a variable ingredient: some döner is made with bun-like bread; some is wrapped in pita-like bread; some is made with a hoagie-ish roll. Such variation makes me feel that I can take some liberties as to what bread I use for my döner.

My first-ever döner experience was in 1989, when I was living in Fribourg, Switzerland. Both Switzerland and Germany had been experiencing a strong influx of Turkish folk (I still don't know why), and the Turks generally made their presence known not by building mosques, but by establishing Turkish eateries. Two or three such eateries sat clustered right at the Sarine River's edge, close to downtown.

At the time, I was a college junior, and I had selected Switzerland as my study-abroad country. I was housed with a Swiss family, the Thalmanns, and I received a monthly "allowance" or stipend that I could use to pay for lunch, buy magazines, and/or make other small purchases. Early on, back when I was new to the city and still in exploration mode, I would walk right past the Turkish joints. The lovely smells and the displayed food caught my eye, especially something that I came to call petites pizzas—and the lady at the register never contradicted me. These little pizzas were essentially a type of soft bagel whose center was stuffed with rough-chopped sausage and some sort of cheese. No onions, or I would never have fallen so hard for those amazing little toruses. I swung by that place quite often, to the point where I became a regular, and the lady always knew what I would order: deux petites pizzas, s'il vous plaît. Two little pizzas, plus a drink and a banana and an orange, were my lunch.

Later on, I decided to zig instead of zag during my daily route (it was a 40-minute walk to the Université de Fribourg from where I was living in nearby Bourguillon), and this is how I discovered a bare-bones restaurant that looked like a butcher shop from the outside. Inside, it was spacious and nearly empty, with a Spartan display counter, white-painted walls, and a white-tiled floor. Very clinical. Behind the counter were two serious-looking Turkish guys whose mastery of French struck me as shaky at best. The menu on the back wall was in French where French was needed; otherwise, the names of the food being sold were all in Turkish. Not having any idea what a döner kebab was, I ordered one. One of the guys asked what I wanted in it, and I said, "Anything's okay, but no onions." He then asked if I was fine with spicy food, and I nodded eagerly.

What the guy gave me will always be my first love when it comes to döner kebab. I smelled it, and there was a familiar, gyro-like fragrance. But the bread wasn't a pita: it was puffy and thick, with a golden, spiced surface speckled with black sesame seeds. The surface also had regularly spaced indentations in it, making it look a bit like a shiny, golden pillow. (I'm not sure, but I might be talking about a form of Turkish pide bread.) Inside the bread was a veritable mound of shaved lamb, charred and crispy, yet also moist and succulent. Per the guy's warning, there was a slathering of red sauce and a handful of chopped green-chili peppers inside, too. Nothing else, if I recall correctly. The sandwich was simple and direct, every flavor element insisting upon itself, creating a chorus of tastes and aromas that were immediately addictive. Even by my standards, the sandwich was large and generous; European portions tend to be smaller and stingier than American portions (which likely explains why Europeans aren't as fat as us Yanks), but this was my first encounter with Turkish munificence. Every single bite of that sandwich was a joy, and although I realize that the passage of time has mythologized the sandwich in my memory, I know that, at the core, once we penetrate the myth, the reality is that the sandwich was awesome.

Pretty much every döner kebab that I've had since then has been a disappointment. In some cases, the bread was insufficiently thick and lush. In other cases, there wasn't enough meat, or the sauces didn't have the right kick. Short of going back to that spot in Fribourg to see whether that sandwich shop still exists, I have no way of reliving the experience of my very first döner.

Unless I try to make that sandwich myself.

And that's what I'm going to try to do today, using bread that, while not the same as that original bread, comes close enough to the original to evoke the past. I've got the lamb; I've got the rest of the ingredients; it's just a matter of prepping.

Stay tuned. Photos are on the way.


Saturday, February 06, 2016


Today's clinic appointment was a twenty-five minute wait followed by a quick change of bandages plus another iodine swabbing in the midst of the bandage-changing. I told the old doc what Ligament had said about how the first bandage job looked like the Pope's hat, and how Ligament wanted to draw a face on it. He guffawed.

And that was really about it. The second session was very brief. The only advice the doc gave was, "Try not to run." I patted my large belly and said, "I'm not the running kind."

Oh, yeah: I took a closer look at the "scissors" that the doc had used yesterday. As it turned out, the "scissors" weren't scissors at all, which explains why they weren't sharp: they were, instead, a sort of scissors-shaped forceps (here's a pic of the tool... the photo comes from a veterinary-supplies website), so yeah, I wasn't hallucinating the ripping and tearing. Imagine viciously plucking at your eyelid skin with tweezers; it was about like that.

I went back to the front desk once the re-bandaging was over; I paid my bill, collected another prescription—this time for several days' worth of antibiotics. I was given no advice on how long to keep the bandage on, and I didn't ask, so I'm just going to use my common sense. At a guess, I can take the bandage off in two or three days. Hell, I might even take it off tonight, given that it's a bitch to cover my middle finger in plastic whenever I have to shower. I have a box of bandages at home, so I think I'm covered.

It bothers me that this infection happened at all. I've had random eye infections before; they normally go away after I apply ointment and a dropper antibiotic. I've also got plenty of sores and scars on my skin—obvious places for bacteria to invade. But my left middle finger has never been cut or otherwise injured, and as a former employee of an infection-control company, I religiously wash my hands. I'm also not in the habit of finger-fucking my asshole, so I really can't understand where this infection came from. I'm just going to chalk it up to life's vicissitudes and hope this doesn't happen again.


old lady don't like young guy

Ancient Republican stalwart Phyllis Schlafly loved Marco Rubio... until she didn't.

Schlafly, who has spoken highly of both Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, slammed "the establishment's" determination to select the Republican candidate.

"They're the people who have been picking losers all these years, and we want the grassroots to have a crack at it," she said.

She criticized Rubio as just the latest front man for the "kingmakers" she has denounced her entire career.

The narrative of Rubio as the "establishment choice" is also becoming part of the presidential campaign. Ted Cruz, campaigning in New Hampshire after his victory in Iowa, slyly has portrayed Rubio as the choice of the elites rather than the grassroots.

"I understand that in the media newsrooms and in the Washington establishment circles, Marco is the chosen one," he said.

He also joked, "In the media's telling, bronze is the new gold," referring to the widespread treatment of Rubio's third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses as a great success.

Schlafly urged conservatives not to take any chances with the election.

"Just look at what [Sen.] Jeff Sessions said – this is the last chance to save the America," she said. "Immigration is the issue."

She dismissed any hopes Rubio could redeem himself to conservatives.

"As soon as he got in there, he betrayed us all," she reiterated. "Don't make it look like I'm supporting him now."

When it comes to menu choices, there's a lot more clarity on the Democrats' side. The Republican side is still a muddle—a reflection of internal disparities and rivalries and confusions. We've got a while to go before GOP choices are whittled down.


haircut + doctor + work = Saturday

Technically, I'm on vacation: it's the Lunar New Year weekend (Happy New Year! Year of the Monkey coming up, so get ready for a lot of public masturbation and shit-flinging). Seollal is normally a three-day holiday, but this year, the first of the three days falls on Sunday, which makes the weekend the start of my personal vacation. Our boss very kindly gave us Wednesday—an at-discretion holiday—off as well, so I'll be seeing Ligament on Monday (the actual lunar new-year's day) and my buddy Charles on Wednesday.

Five days of bliss en vacances, right? Well, not exactly. I have a KMA gig a week from now, and I promised to show my KMA boss my new, revamped Persuasive Writing course, which will essentially be a slightly collapsed version of the original course, with a new PowerPoint slide component added on to make the whole thing more multimedia-like. The course material is about thirty pages long; I'm going to spend a chunk of today at the office, condensing the course and creating a PowerPoint. I expect the PowerPoint effort to take up most of my day. (I can't do this at home because making PP files on a Mac results in skewed-looking slides when the Mac-made file is opened on a Windows machine. Better just to use Windows, which is why I have to be at the office.)

But even before I step into the office today, I need to get a dang haircut and then see my torturer, the doctor I saw yesterday. So it's looking more like a four-day weekend for ol' Uncle Kevin, not a five-day weekend. And there's a chance I might be in the office tomorrow as well; I need to catch up on my regular office work because I've fallen a bit behind on that.

Busy, busy, busy, as Bokonon says—albeit in a different context.


Friday, February 05, 2016

digital aftermath

Here's what my bandaged finger looks like. Ligament texted that it looks like the Pope. She wants to draw a face on it. My buddy Tom wondered whether my finger had joined the Klan.


I am Theon Greyjoy, turning into Reek

 photo 88fe4e19-ea1b-4bb2-8f22-2b1166ac8482.png

If you've seen HBO's TV series "Game of Thrones," you'll recall that Theon Greyjoy's story arc goes from delusions of grandeur to abject misery: Greyjoy, a ward of the Stark family who is lodged at Winterfell as a sort of guest/hostage/adopted son to keep his father, Balon Greyjoy, in line, seizes an opportunity to take Winterfell in the multi-king chaos that follows the death of King Robert Baratheon and the beheading of patriarch Eddard "Ned" Stark. Theon captures Winterfell through trickery, using only a couple dozen men to do so. Later on, Winterfell is taken over by the treacherous Bolton clan. Roose Bolton's unhinged son Ramsay Bolton straps Theon to a giant wooden X, then begins torturing Theon using the Boltons' favorite method: flaying. Ramsay starts with one of Theon's fingertips. HBO is normally not prudish about bloody violence and gore, but for whatever reason (some director finally decided that "Let the viewers use their imaginations" was a good aesthetic strategy), we never really get a decent glimpse of what, exactly, Ramsay is doing to Theon's fingertip that is causing Theon to scream and writhe as he does.

I had a little taste of fingertip torture today. I went to the internal-med clinic in the building where I work, filled out a first-time patient form and signed a private-info waiver, then sat and waited for my name to be called. I don't think I waited more than twenty minutes before my name came up, and I was directed into a side room where a stocky old doctor sat. He told me to sit down, then asked me what the problem was. I explained that my finger had gotten infected a few days ago, but that I didn't know how it had happened. I showed him the finger, and the doc made a sound that was a cross between a surprised "Oh!" and a stern "Tut-tut." (Imagine the interjection "Oh!" being said in a mildly scolding tone.) The doc told me to go wait in a different side room, so I gathered my things and moved.

In the new room, a nurse beckoned for me to sit on the cushioned clinical table. I looked around: everything seemed old, run-down, and a bit grungy. The nurse puttered around; at one point I heard her working with a whirring centrifuge, and I knew that whatever she was doing wasn't relevant to me: I had given her no blood samples to separate.

In time, the old doctor lumbered into the room, and suddenly everything got serious. The doc took out one of those peanut-shaped metal trays that you normally use to catch major fluid spillage, and that gave me an idea of what was about to happen. He motioned for me to hold out my hand; the nurse, meanwhile, had stopped puttering and was waiting for the doctor to tell her what he needed. He asked her for scissors; she gave him a rather evil-looking pair that looked like the curve-bladed cosmetic scissors my mother used to have.

Scissors in hand, the doc asked the nurse to hand him wad after wad of soaked cotton balls. He swabbed my fingertip repeatedly with them; I noticed, from the way the scissors tweezed the cotton, that those curved blades weren't sharp. The thought, Is he gonna tear into my finger with that? was just forming in my head when the doc stopped swabbing and started tearing right into the pus-filled part of my finger with those blunt scissors.

It wasn't painful at first, maybe because of the initial shock. It could also be that the pressure of the pus buildup had thinned the fingertip skin to the point where the skin was ripe for fairly painless ripping. And that's what this was: ripping, not cutting. The scissors darted into my finger, again and again, like a dog's long, bloody muzzle lunging and digging into a freshly killed carcass. The first bite of the scissors didn't hurt, but the next one did, as did the next, and the next, and the next.

There was a spectacular amount of pus at first. "Wow...a lot came out!" I remarked, and the doc chuckled. The metal peanut-shaped tray was doing the work it had been designed for, catching all the off-white goo ejaculated by my throbbing, tumescent finger. "I should be videoing this for my friends!" I said, to which the doc responded with a disgusted "Huh?" After the pus came the blood. Given that the doc had basically ripped the side of my finger open, there was a good bit of bleeding. I suppose the wound needed to bleed clean before we went any further. Throughout all this, I kept silent, gritting my teeth in agony but realizing that things could have been a lot worse.

The doc began another interminable round of swabbing, gradually switching from drenched white cotton balls to cotton balls soaked in a dark-brown liquid that might have been iodine or tincture Merthiolate. He would sometimes press his swabs mercilessly into my fingertip, making me wince inwardly. I had to figure out how to position my tongue inside my mouth so as not to bite it. Eventually, the swabbing gave way to actual bandaging, which is when I finally began to feel some relief. He laid some iodine-soaked gauze over my finger, then set to wrapping it with regular gauze.

"Normally, I'd ask you to come back two days from now, but we can't because it'll be Sunday, so come back tomorrow," the doc said. I asked him what time to be there, and he said to come around 12:30. I also asked what I should do when I showered or needed to wash my hands. "Don't get the bandages wet," he said unhelpfully. Having worn a plaster cast when I had broken my wrist in grade school, I knew the drill regarding plastic bags, so I could figure out for myself what to do. "Have to write you a prescription," the doc sighed as he heaved his large self to his feet. With that, he left. I put on my coat and scarf, thanked the nurse, and went back to the front desk to pay for the session and receive my prescription. I took the prescription downstairs, got a single day's worth of medicine, then made my way up to my office, where I've been secretly typing up this lengthy entry like the naughty boy I am.

Is there any care in Korean health care? As I thought about what had happened, it occurred to me that, in the States, I'd have been given a local anesthetic, and the doc would have nimbly lanced the finger before squeezing out all the pus—none of this barbaric, canine-style ripping and tearing. Of course, my bill would also have been way higher: probably close to $200 instead of the mere $6 that I actually paid today. You get what you pay for, I suppose.

So I can look forward to visiting the old doc again tomorrow at lunch.

Great. I'm very excited.


Thursday, February 04, 2016

on Cruz, Rubio, and other matters

Fascinating article by Spengler here. Way too much good material to excerpt, so I'll just encourage you to click the link and read the whole thing.

(h/t Instapundit)


gettin' a little pussy

Ouch. A pic of my finger infection, with Gordon Ramsay's lamb in the background. I must say, when your middle finger gets as sensitive as mine has become, you start to realize how much it bumps around randomly into almost everything. Amputation would be a mercy.


reasons not to like Korean health care

My left middle finger continues to swell, albeit slowly. Perhaps the witches' brew of garlic, honey, and cayenne that I concocted last night did some good. Hard to tell.

Samsung Seoul Hospital is located right up the street from where I live, so I decided to give the place a call to make an appointment with one of the hospital's several clinics. Conversation was difficult, given my middling Korean, and I got transferred twice before finally talking with a lady who was willing to set up an appointment. Near the end of our conversation, after having told me what time to come to the clinic (I didn't get to choose a time), the lady said I needed to bring along a "referral letter" from my boss. Huh? I told her I had an insurance card, but she said something about how referral letters were the standard, and how sometimes it was unclear whether insurance would cover a given procedure. I wasn't clear on how one thing related to the other, but I realized I was stuck in the typically Korean valley of We Cannot Color Outside the Box—a common problem in this country. If all the hospital has is round holes, and I come as a square peg, the only recourse is for me to round out my corners to fit: the hospital (or whatever institution) makes no changes of its own. As with kamikaze pilots, there is never to be any deviation from the plan.

Ideally, with clinics, you should just be able to walk on in with no previous appointment. It could be that this is, in fact, how it works at smaller Korean clinics that aren't affiliated with hospitals. I looked for such clinics during my lunchtime walk today, but saw nothing but Chinese-medicine facilities. No, thanks.

Won't be surprised if I leave tomorrow's appointment missing a finger.

UPDATE: my boss tells me there's an internal-med clinic inside our building. Just walk on in, no fuss, no muss, and they accept your insurance card without asking you for any bullshit "referral letter." So I'll be going there in the morning and, very likely, canceling my afternoon appointment with the bureaucratic nightmare that is Samsung Seoul Hospital.


Wednesday, February 03, 2016


I'm tired and I've got an infected finger that might require a doctor visit, so that's about all I'm going to write this evening. Sorry. I had hoped to write a big piece giving my impressions of HBO's "Game of Thrones," which I finished watching a couple days ago, but I'm afraid that that'll have to wait. For the moment, it's meds and rest.

ADDENDUM: I'm likely going to visit a doctor in a day or two, but in the meantime, I'm taking the meds I got from a local pharmacy, and I just filled my body with home-remedy antibiotics like cayenne pepper, honey, and garlic. Who knows—if the witches' brew works, I might not need to see the docs after all. (But I doubt I'll be so lucky.)


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Groundhog Day and the Iowa caucus

America is on tenterhooks as it watches an event with little to no predictive power unfold within its borders: the Iowa caucus, one of several hurdles that nominee-wannabes must jump in order eventually to secure the nominations of their respective political parties.

We've been here before. As a bent-backed part of the mid-forties demographic, as a part of the crowd that has seen its share of election cycles, I can say with assurance that polls mean little, and pundit commentary means shit. What will be will be. Granted, Iowa might have a certain amount of psychological impact—especially on a fool like Donald Trump, who seems positively obsessed with poll data. (He used poll data in a rambling answer to a question about how Republican/conservative he really was.) But even if Trump's nose is bloodied in Iowa, there are other caucuses and primaries for him to look forward to (see the 2016 schedule here), and a man with that much ego isn't about to let one setback, well, set him back.

My poor luck at predicting Oscar winners doubtless translates to an inability to predict caucus results. With that in mind—and knowing full well that I may, in fact, be jinxing certain candidates—I'm going to call Iowa for Trump by a less-than-comfortable margin because, at the last moment, people are going to pussy out and vote for Ted Cruz as a more "realistic" choice. As for the Democrats, I'm calling Iowa for Hillary by a very slim margin: the Bern will continue as grass-roots momentum picks up over the course of the election year, and as Hillary's email scandal continues to have a (mildly, mildly!) corrosive effect on her perceived trustworthiness—not that the corrosion will affect her core supporters in any way.

One way or another, the American samsara rolls on, just like Bill Murray's experience in "Groundhog Day." But this is one wheel from which only death affords a possible release. We'd be wise to remember what HL Mencken wrote about political campaigns.


Monday, February 01, 2016

Korean chicks react to Amurrican BBQ

"Reaction videos" have been a YouTube staple for some time. I remember first watching "2 Girls 1 Cup" reaction videos, which were hilarious (especially when they involved Grandma). Years later, we had "Red Wedding" reaction videos as people watched a crucial episode of "Game of Thrones," in which several major characters die. These days, there's been a bizarre interest, among Westerners, in Korean-chick reaction videos (I like this one, in which the ladies react to American porn). The mirror-image version of that, with Westerners reacting to all things Korean, has been rather lame and muted.

Over at Instapundit, there's a link to an article about young Korean women reacting to their first-ever taste of American barbecue. In the article is an embedded video of the tasting, with cute little graphics popping up now and again as the girls rate the BBQ from 1 to 10. As always, some of the girls were more perceptive than others. The video includes a bit of voiceover narration that describes, very generally, how each type of meat is made.

If you're interested in American reactions to Korean reactions, check out the relevant comments section at Instapundit.