Saturday, September 27, 2003

is this thing on?

I think we're back in business, after a few fits and starts. Until we hit the next bump in the cyber-road, that is. Please write in if you notice any more problems with my sidebar, or anything else.

AH, YES-- BEFORE WE BEGIN: I need to note that my sidebar's links to my "Sacred and Profane" posts are misbehaving, but not in an incomprehensible way. When I click any of the links, I get zapped over to some weird part of the archives and never land on target. Here's what you need to do when you're in that situation: from my blog's "home," you click the link to the post you want to read. Let it zap badly. Then, WITHOUT hitting the "back" button on your browser, scroll along my sidebar, find the same link again, and hit it a second time. You'll land right on target.

If you're trying to access a specific post of mine from outside the blog (e.g., if someone else provided a link to one of my posts), you're shit outta luck. I can only hope you arrive where you need to. Since I don't have a "search" function on my blog, you'll have to find my post the old-fashioned way. Sorry about that. I wish I knew what to do about Blogger's scrolling misbehavior, but apparently even that damn patch isn't enough to fix all the bugs.


We'll start off by noting that the Geum San Health Club owner, Mr. Heo (pronounce it somewhere between "haw" and "huh") called me two nights ago to ask where the hell I've been. I haven't been to the gym in a little bit, you see: I didn't re-register because I am one poor motherfucker (OK, OK, you're right, that's not a real reason to stop exercising). I can feel the fat cells, which had been under assault from all the training, peeking out and whispering: "Pssst! The conscience! Is it-- is it gone? Can we come out again?" So this week, I'm going back to the ole gym with a vengeance. Fat cells must learn exactly who is whose bitch.

Though, truth be told, I do find my breasts to be admirably huge; they're certainly larger than most Korean women's itty-bitty speed-bump titties. I'm thinking I should keep them. For posterity. Or maybe I should just make a plaster cast of Ye Olde Mammaryes before they melt back into the thoracic flatlands?

Around 6PM this evening, I found myself walking from the Chongno 3-ga station toward Insa-dong, the art district. I had only one goal: to get Mr. Seon of Dol Sarang to start working on those dojang, because yesterday, I got paid, baby.

But other people had other goals this evening: a demonstration was in progress on Chongno Street, making the normally-crowded sidewalk even more crowded. It wasn't a very big demonstration, by the looks of it, but it was big enough to warrant the usual police presence. Signs in Korean proclaimed, "America-- get out of Iraq!" and "Don't send our troops to Iraq!" Some white folks were in the group carrying signs as well. Their accents didn't sound American-- big surprise there. I'm not a dae-mo (Konglish for "demonstration") kind of guy: can't stand the herd mentality (I can hear other Koreabloggers snickering, "So what the hell are you doing in Korea, my friend?"-- my reply would be that I avoid such herds in America, too), so I pushed my way through the crowd, performed the Jedi Mind Trick a few times to move people out of my way, fired a few lightning bolts from my fingertips, and got out of there as quickly as I could.

I slipped through the demonstrators and made my way into Insa-dong. Found Mr. Seon, gave him my finalized list of monikers for the dojang: Kim Dae Gye (Great Precepts Kim) for the name stamp myeong, Chua Su Bul (Left-handed Buddha) for the nom de plume ho, and Dae Weon In (Big Hominid) for the head-stamp du-in. He seemed more than OK with my choice, and he laughed when I mentioned my confusion of right and left the last time I talked to him (I'd told him I wanted to be called "Usu Bul" for "Left-handed Buddha," but "Usu" is "right hand," not "left hand"-- my bad, but in my defense I'll say this a performance error, not a competence error, as they say in linguistics). Yes, Mr. Seon realized I'd made a mistake. I guess he was too polite to contradict me.

I paid the artist his pound of flesh (W150,000) and promised I'd make some calligraphy for him. He told me he'd make great stamps for me, and that they'd be ready on Tuesday. I also went around the shops to look for people who could frame my calligraphy or make it into scrolls. Some comparison shopping reveals the following: many art shops that do frames and scrolls charge the same price for scrolls, no matter the size-- about W30,000, or around $25-27. Frames, however, vary widely in price depending on frame style and size. To place something like the "dick proverb" in a respectable frame will cost somewhere around W50,000, or about $42 (Mike, if we hit Annandale in November, this is the price we should use as a point of comparison... $300 is just way too much).

I learned a few vocabulary words as I was comparison shopping. A picture frame is an aek-ja. A scroll is a johk-ja. A folding screen, whether tiny (so your mice can change clothes) or huge (so your mistress can change into her butt floss) is called a byeong-p'oong-- a wind-blocker.

My frequent trips into Insa-dong are becoming a sort of personal investment. Diplomatic capital, if you will. The shopkeepers and artists are beginning to recognize me, and they're starting to make the Korean gesture of offering me items for a cheaper price than advertised (I should devote a post to the issue of haggling, knowing more than a little Korean, being a foreigner, yet playing the race card to squeeze cheaper rates outta mah peeps). Beddy nice, beddy nice. I'm becoming a dan-gol sohn-nim, a regular customer.

More in a bit. Gotta make the cyber-rounds.

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