Thursday, May 28, 2009

Who doesn't love cheap coffee?

I know this is a bit old, but I dare say that this song's play count is slowly creeping up to my iPod's Top 25. I love that it's random-chirpy-and-pensive-in-a-bottle (for lack of a more sophisticated term), and that for once, I don't have to listen to someone whine sing about love, love, or... yeah, love, in the overtly-obvious-my-tears-are-falling-like-the-rain-on-a-wet-summer-day-sense, at least.

장기하와 얼굴들 - 싸구려 커피

Particularly fun are the lyrics, which I wouldn't have been able to comprehend without the help of Arirang Radio's translation (below).

싸구려 커피를 마신다
I drink cheap coffee.
미지근해 적잖이 속이 쓰려온다
It’s lukewarm and makes my stomach hurt.
눅눅한 비닐장판에 발바닥이 쩍하고 달라붙었다 떨어진다
My feet stick to the soggy electric heating pad beneath me.

이제는 아무렇지 않어
Now I don’t feel anything.
바퀴벌레 한마리쯤 쓱 지나가도
Even if a cockroach crosses in front of me,
무거운 내일 아침엔 다만 그저 약간의 기침이 멈출 생각을 않는다
Tomorrow morning I don’t even flinch.
축축한 이불을 갠다
I fold my damp blankets.
삐걱대는 문을 열고 밖에 나가 본다
I open my creaky door and go outside.
아직 덜 갠 하늘이 너무 가까워
The overcast sky seems so close.
숨쉬기가 쉽지를 않다
It’s not easy to breathe.
수만번 본 것만 같다
I think I’ve seen this millions of times.
어지러워 쓰러질 정도로~ 익숙하기만 하다
I’m so used to this it makes me dizzy to the point of fainting.
남은 것도 없이 텅빈 나를 잠근다
With nothing left, I lock myself away from the world.

뭐 한 몇 년간 세숫대야에 고여 있는 물
The water that’s been trapped in my sink for years
마냥 그냥 완전히 썩어가지고
Has almost completely gone bad.
이거는 뭐 감각이 없어
But I am completely desensitized to this.

비가 내리면 처마 밑에서 쭈그리고 앉아서
When it rains, I crouch under the eaves,
멍하니 그냥 가만히 보다 보면은
And just stare off into space,
이거는 뭔가 아니다 싶어
And I feel like something’s wrong

비가 그쳐도 희끄므레죽죽한
Even when it stops raining,
저게 하늘이라고 하기에는 뭔가 너무 낮게
I feel like the overcast sky is too low to be called the sky.
머리카락에 거의 닿게 조금만 뛰어도
Even if I jump just a little to the point where it grazes my hair,
정수리를 쿵 하고 찧을 거 같은데
I feel like I can almost touch the sky with the top of my head…
벽장 속 제습제는 벌써 꽉 차 있으나마나
The humidifier in my closet is all full…
모기 때려잡다 번진 피가 묻은 거울을 볼 때마다
And every time I see the mirror with the smeared blood of the mosquito I squashed…
어우! 약간 놀라
Oh! I get surprised…

제 멋대로 구부러진 칫솔 갖다
Even if I take the toothbrush that I bent myself
이빨을 닦다 보면은 잇몸에 피가 나게 닦아도
And brush my teeth until my gums bleed,
당최 치석은 빠져 나올 줄을 몰라
The tartar on my teeth never goes away.

언제 땄는지도 모르는 미지근한 콜라가 담긴 캔을 입에 가져다 한 모금
I take the soda can that I opened God-knows-when and take a gulp of it…
아뿔사 담배 꽁초가
Oh! A cigarette butt…

이제는 장판이 난지 내가 장판인지도 몰라
Now I don’t know if I’m the electric heating pad or if the electric heating pad is me…
해가 뜨기도 전에 지는 이런 상황은 뭔가
Why does the sun set even before the sun rises?

A few reasons why Korea is A-W-E-S-O-M-E

Courtesy of the always entertaining Simon and Martina of! This video rocks. Virtual high five!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Korean Fried Chicken, Oakland style

Mmh, fried chicken. Not just any fried chicken. Korean fried chicken.

Imagine my excitement after reading one Yelper's claim that this Oakland chicken joint put Kyochon to shame? That's bordering on KFC blasphemy, but I do give OB Chicken Town a thumbs up for their frosty cold beer paired with boneless soy-garlic "well-being" fried chicken (...because deep frying it in olive oil makes it healthy?)

The corn cheese could use a little work, as could their slightly limp mu. But I'd probably come back again if I were in the neighborhood.

6101 Telegraph Ave (between 61st St & 62nd St)
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 595-5338

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Weekend trip to Los Angeles

Took a weekend-ish trip to Korea(ntown) and here are the quick highlights, drumroll please!

#6. Holly's Coffee. A trip down Sentimental Lane. I <3 you, sweet potato latte.

#5. Cafe on 8th and Hobart (I don't recall the name). A bit pricey, but I've been told that any cafe in K-town is pricey. The outdoor deck is charming, and I can imagine it'd be really romantic at night.

#4. Chosun Kalbi. Can you believe I forgot to take out my camera?! The mul naengmyeon was one of the best I've ever had, and Sam and Carol seemed to like the kalbi, too. I think you pay for the upscale ambiance here.

#3. Mapo Dak Kalbi. This hole in the wall will set you back about $40 for two, but it's the only dak kalbi place I've come across stateside. There are no menus, and they didn't give us any banchan (or water!) until we asked in Korean. Once they found out the hapa could speak in mother tongue (gasp!), service took a dramatic turn for the better... in fact, they were downright friendly.

#2. Gaam. Introducing fruit soju and the concept of anju to friends is quite entertaining. As is walking into this place in general... it's what Tao might look like if you stepped into Korea. Ok, maybe not, but I kinda like this place - it's clean, modern, filled with good looking people, and heck, isn't corn cheese reason enough? The only downside? Cigarettes!

Before: OMG, we just ate dinner and we're stuffed, how are you expecting us to eat that? Can't we just drink?

After: Anything's possible.

#1. Ssa Rit Gol. The service kinda stinks, but the ono eats make up for it.

Thanks to Janice and Nhu for resisting the urge to knock me over the head in the midst of my giddy K-town excitement, Anna for being just as excited if not more, Sam and Carol for introducing me to the yummy spots, and 성희언니 for making me feel like I was in Korea again...

The toilet doesn't like toilet paper

Sure, it took a little time to get used to, but I eventually came to accept the wipe but don't flush concept in Korea. But in Los Angeles, California, USA? Are the pipes smaller in K-town? A result of habit? Attempts to conserve water?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Korean Heritage Night with the Giants

It was Korean Heritage Night at AT&T Park, hence the Korean head gear and inflatable sticks.

Truth be told, I was hoping for a little more than Korean drums to showcase "Korean heritage"... but oh well. At least we got to bang those blow up sticks really really loud.

(My alternative to blackout boxes and blurs. Because not everyone likes being tagged on the WWW. ^^)

A lesson in Korean: bbang bbang!

I believe I was watching 미녀들의 수다, a program that features foreign women chatting about everyday life in Korea, when I came across the word 빵빵하다 (bbang bbang hada). I could guess what it meant based on the context and sound, but it was nowhere to be found in the dictionary, so I decided to ask a friend.

He couldn't help but laugh, but after the hilarity (or absurdity?) of my question subsided, he decided this would best be explained using visuals.

What the...?

Can you guess his name?

Um... 빵빵 Bbang Bbang?

No, but close. It's 호빵 맨 (Ho Bbang Man). Doesn't his face look like it's about to explode? So now you can imagine how we'd use this word. 엉덩이가 (butt) 빵빵하다. 가슴이 (chest) 빵빵하다.

Then I recalled CY teaching me a similar phrase (쭉쭉빵빵) months ago... why, I don't recall.

And of course there was Royce's Korean book of everything...

If I were a guy, I'm sure I wouldn't have let this slip my memory so easily! Hmmph.

Airplane food in Suwon

My friend Young Sul sent me this link earlier this morning. It brings airplane food to a whole new level.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

쉐리 vs 하늘... What's in a name?

My friend 구현 was the first person to inform me that I'd been named after a laundry detergent (see above). After what was probably a bad soap joke, I then remember him mentioning that 구현 also stood for "implementation" so I shouldn't feel so bad.

Truth be told, I never really took a liking to my name. I didn't think it suited me, and I'd scribble a variety of alternatives, testing each one against how well it meshed with my last name, as well as how good it looked on paper, in both print and signature form. I never really had a problem with my family name, appreciating the way it rolled off the tongue and the fact that it was atypical, for America at least. That is, until last year, when I discovered that it's actually one of Japan's most common surnames. Ouch. I'm no longer unique?

I've got a variety of nicknames, but the only ones related to my first name are "Cher," "Cher Bear," and "Cheri Berri." I particularly recall one kid in elementary school who had it out for me one day and consequently wrote a jingle. It was actually pretty catchy, and I still remember the melody. Cheri Merry Muffin. She cooks. She bakes. And she smells stink too. The fact that his grammar sucked made it less scarring, and besides, I could think of worse things to rhyme my name with.

What really irked me was the mispronunciation (Cherry? Sher-ree?) and misspellings (Sheri? Sherie? Sherry? Cherie?). Not a single soul at Jamba Juice or Starbucks has ever gotten it correct to this day, FYI. I remember my friend Jihey once went so far as to telling the clerk her name was Kim Chi, because what's the point, they were probably going to spell her name wrong anyway. Luckily, it seems that most people (with the exception of my Korean side of the family, who insists on calling me "Selly" on some days and "Shelly" on others) have since caught on, and these days, it's my last name that people are having trouble with - likely a result of having moved from majority-minority Hawaii to the mainland.

After having lived in Korea, I took my long-neglected Korean name out of my back pocket, and have since started the debate.

쉐리, the laundry detergent or 하늘, translated as "sky" in Korean? If you could guess my sister's Korean name, you'd think my mom had a thing for astronomy. Truth be told, I guess it doesn't really matter. You can call me anything you want, as long as it's not 아줌마 ajumma.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The F4 Encore

I never thought I'd be able to appreciate a man-pama (perm) until I met Goo Junpyo.

Let's cue the cheesy music and enjoy...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chapagetti (짜파게티)!

There are moments when I enjoy a bag of Chapagetti or Chacharoni over "real" jajangmyeon...


Friday, March 13, 2009


Goshitel's a pretty fun word to pronounce in a bad American accent. So what is a goshitel? Simply put, a goshitel is a cozy little closet that some people call "home" and others call "storage space." More nicely and appropriately put, it's an inexpensive living alternative similar to a dorm, usually for university students looking to get their study on.

I can't speak for goshitels or goshiwons in general, but from my personal experience (see video above), it was really clean and well-kept, always well-stocked with free rice, eggs, kimchi, and ramen, and aside from the occasional slamming door, very quiet. I definitely didn't get that homey community feel I got from my hasuk-jip, but I did run into a couple nice people in the kitchen-dining-laundry room from time to time. And you know what? It was kind of neat being able to reach everything I needed within comfortable arms' length. :)

The reason I moved into one for a few months last summer was simple - I wanted air conditioning! My friend scared me into believing the horrors of living AC-less in Korea (dying of heat and being bitten alive by mosquitoes), and I decided straightaway that I wouldn't be able to handle anything remotely close to that. We went searching for an AC-ed hasuk, but none of them met my cleanliness standards given the short turn around time. I was slightly worried that I'd develop claustrophobia, but surprisingly, I rarely felt that way, maybe because I broke up weekends by crashing at relatives' and tended to not stay in the room for long periods at a time. :)

P.S. In case you're curious, here's the "well-being tel" I bunked up in: My room went for about 350,000 won, but it was window-less (yeah, I don't recommend that), while some of the ones with bathrooms in the unit were as high as five or six hundred thousand. On a side note, when one of my friends came to visit, she stayed in a room with a bathroom, and unfortunately, the ventilation wasn't so great, which kind of gave the room an interesting funk. On another note, goshitels are also great low-cost alternatives to hotels, especially if you don't plan on staying inside much - her room cost about $100 for a week!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lotteria's Rice Bulgogi Burger!

I don't eat beef burgers, but MC does, and last year, he gave Lotteria's rice bulgogi burger a generous 5/10 rating. I managed to take a bite of the rice "bun," and you know what, it wasn't half bad. I bet this thing would sell pretty well in Hawaii, home of McDonald's Portuguese sausage, eggs, and rice breakfast!

PS. Is it just me or does the burger wrapper seem a little... inappropriately amusing?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Eating at Sanchon in Insadong

I'm not much of a meat eater so I may be a bit biased, but this is definitely a place you should try at least once - its extravagant spread of vegetarian temple food, clean flavors, and decor warrant a visit - and it's a particularly good experience for out-of-towners.


Dragon beard candy in Insadong (인사동 꿀타래)

Mmh, nothing like 16,000 strands of stretched out sugar wrapped over nuts to satiate your sweet tooth!

You can find these 꿀타래, or dragon's beard candy, stands in touristy areas like Insadong and Myeongdong; they can draw quite a crowd with their enthusiastic cries of candy making joy in just about any language you please. (Well, for the record, I've only heard it in Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese.) Is that really 16,000 strands, you say?!