Sans Paroles

Dos, “Number Eight”

There are so many things right about this song and video it hurts, even though I’m more of a cat person at heart.

Basically, I wish Kira and Mike would adopt me.

Posted in Kira Roessler, Mike Watt, Music | Leave a comment

Hahoe Village, Andong



Some pictures from last year’s Andong Mask Festival.  Me and my friends started in downtown Andong at the festival grounds, but the real fun began at nearby Hahoe Folk Village.


I did my best to follow the story of this performance, which was a traditional comedy that involved freshly castrated bull testicles.  What I really enjoyed though was the music — very percussive and intense.


Another cool thing was the village itself, which is actually both a living history museum and a working set of farms.  The farmers did their best to obscure the satellite dishes on top of their straw thatched roofs.

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Posted in Andong, Korea, Photography, South Korea | 1 Comment

K-pop Kopy Kats

K-pop is awful and I hear entirely too much of it, even walking around my humble college campus.  That said, this story is awesome:

“On 26 April, a new, American-based K-pop boy band called EXP made their world debut in Long Island City. Like South Korea’s idol groups (the K-pop industry term for a meticulously groomed cadre of attractive, often barely-legal performers), the band was smooth and shiny. The six boys sashayed over the stage in form-fitting clothing, flashing Vaseline smiles and exuding gentle sex as they cooed about relationships in their English-Korean single, ‘Luv/Wrong.’

It was exactly what you might expect out of a fledgling group trying to hack it in the K-pop mold. Except for one little thing: None of the six members of EXP (Tarion Taylor Anderson, Frankie Daponte Jr., Hunter Kohl, Šime Košta, Koki Tomlinson, and David Wallace) are Korean. None of them even speak Korean.”

Good so far, but it gets better:

“After a few days, most of the internet copped on to the fact that EXP was actually a conscious project developed by a conceptual artist. Dreamed up last fall by Bora Kim, a Columbia University MFA student from Seoul, EXP (short for EXPERIMENT) is the centerpiece of a multimedia endeavor, ‘I’m Making A Boy Band’ (IMMABB), documenting her attempt to transform thoroughly American performers into prototypical K-pop boy-toy stars.”

K-pop is more about choreography than it is music, so it makes perfect sense.  Formulaic musical product is formulaic.  Plug in handsome dudes and/or pretty robotic girls, rinse, repeat.

No linky to their single, because it is perfectly dependable K-pop.  Which is to say, it’s fucking awful.

That said, the project is interesting and the interview with the band’s “founder,” Bora Kim, is fascinating.

The best part:

Kim: Korean society has that military culture. It’s really hard to explain that, and I’m sure it’s hard for people to believe that. But it is. Sometimes I feel that all relationships among Koreans are a bit S&M. Because if they are in any way above you—age, gender, class—you immediately lower yourself. And in the opposite situation, you have to perform that very strong or dominant act towards the other [person]. I think the K-pop world shows that aspect very well. You can see that in the product.”

Posted in Music, Korea, Kultur, South Korea | Leave a comment

Andong Mask Festival


South Korea loves a good festival, and one of the most famous is Andong’s Mask Festival, which is actually a dance festival showcasing both traditional Korean dance and more modern approaches.


These pics are actually from fall of 2014.


The festivities were split between two areas — the festival grounds here in downtown Andong city, and other events located at nearby Hahoe Folk Village.  (Famous for a visit from Queen Elizabeth in 1999, who reportedly called it “the most Korean place in Korea.”)

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Posted in Korea, Kultur, Photography, South Korea, Andong, Mask Festival | Leave a comment

Tragedy To Farce

Angry white men shooting up churches and movie theaters is a near-daily occurrence in America.

So if the wake of a tragedy is never the right time to “politicize” debates over gun control, then there is literally never a time to discuss gun control.

Well played, Republicans.

Posted in Politics, Kultur, America, Assholes | Leave a comment

The Unsightly Mandarin

Good news, my fellow Americans!  As global tourism continues to grow, the “ugly American” is being replaced by new, just as negative stereotypes:

“Not that the Chinese have a monopoly on grossly offensive behaviour. Last August, residents came out in spontaneous protest in Barcelona after three Italian tourists wandered naked through the La Barceloneta district. Last month, a British woman was arrested in Malaysia for posing naked on top of a sacred mountain. This month, it was the turn of a Bulgarian footballer on holiday in Rome, who was fined for gouging his initials into the fabric of the Colosseum.

Such incidents are extreme. But they focus attention on whether tourism on the scale that the world is now experiencing is the axiomatic benefit it has traditionally been depicted to be. Does it, in fact, broaden the mind, erode people’s belief in national stereotypes and introduce them to other ways of thinking? It is hard to make that case for much of the tourism to be found in Magaluf, Phuket or Cancún.”

So much of being a “good” tourist is simply acting like an adult.  And the inability of so many people to act their age extends beyond all national borders.

And anecdotally, having traveled through a bit of Asia, mainland Chinese indeed have the worst reputation for bad tourist behavior.  But it’s hard, if not impossible, to say no to people bringing economic activity to your country.

Posted in Asia, Travel | Leave a comment


This is sweet —  wild defensive shifts are becoming quite common in the Korean Baseball Organization (this season one manager shifted a third baseman to behind the catcher to avoid advancing on a wild pitch, but the umps didn’t allow it) and a lot of it has to do with the presence of foreign players (usually guys who didn’t quite hack it in the Major Leagues).  Here’s why:

“There is a reason why defensive shifts have become familiar in the KBO. Because of a rule change last year, each team has to have one foreign player position, and the imports are much more pronounced pull hitters than their Korean teammates.

And analytics have invaded baseball. In 2012, the SK Wyverns moved third baseman Choi Jeong further from the foul line against left-handed batters, following coach Joe Alvarez’s advice. He pointed out that there weren’t many left-handed hitters in the KBO who could send a line drive down the third-base line.”

When I came to South Korea and started following Korean baseball, teams usually tried to carry as many foreign pitchers as possible (three foreigners per team max).  Starting pitchers were also preferred.

It makes a lot of sense to diversify the foreigners though, so as to give Korean pitchers more chances to make the sacred jump to the American Major Leagues.  And hell, what’s more fun than watching a washed up, overweight foreigner dinging massive home runs in Korea’s relatively small ballparks?  (Nothing!  Nothing, I say!)

So anyhow, analytics and those damn dirty foreigners have once again spiced up the already cool game of Korean professional baseball.

Posted in Baseball, Korea, Samsung Lions, South Korea, Sports | Leave a comment

“nonexistent towns or mountains with the wrong elevations”

Ah, a map-inspired wikispiral leads to this entry on “Trap Streets”:

“A trap street is a fictitious entry in the form of a misrepresented street on a map, often outside the area the map nominally covers, for the purpose of ‘trapping’ potential copyright violators of the map who, if caught, would be unable to explain the inclusion of the ‘trap street’ on their map as innocent. On maps that are not of streets, other ‘copyright trap’ features (such as nonexistent towns or mountains with the wrong elevations) may be inserted or altered for the same purpose.”

Rad.  It’s like a “What If?” episode where John Ashbery became a cartographer instead of a poet.

Posted in Books, Maps | Leave a comment

In Soviet Russia, Map Uses You

A really interesting piece on the Soviet era culture of map-making:

“But they didn’t stop there. The Soviets made far more detailed maps of some parts of the world. They mapped all of Europe, nearly all of Asia, as well as large parts of North America and northern Africa at 1:100,000 and 1:50,000 scales, which show even more features and fine-grained topography. Another series of still more zoomed-in maps, at 1:25,000 scale, covers all of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, as well as hundreds or perhaps thousands of foreign cities. At this scale, city streets and individual buildings are visible.

And even that wasn’t the end of it. The Soviets produced hundreds of remarkably detailed 1:10,000 maps of foreign cities, mostly in Europe, and they may have mapped the entire USSR at this scale, which Watt estimated would take 440,000 sheets.

All in all, Watt estimated that the Soviet military produced more than 1.1 million different maps.”

Apparently, “Cartographic culture is to Russia as wine culture is to France.”

That’s awesome.  Maps are awesome.

Posted in Books, History, Kultur, Maps | 1 Comment

Protect And Serve

Re: the mysterious death of Sandra Bland, this a millions times:

“There are two things every law enforcement officer in this country needs to have explained to them before they work another minute. First, we are not obligated to kiss your asses or be nice to you. There is a good chance that if we’re dealing with you, our day has been or is about to be ruined. Assuming we didn’t decide to murder someone or rob a liquor store that day, it’s likely that you’re about to hassle us over some minor infraction – 7 mph over the limit…my god, I’m history’s greatest monster! – and hand us a ticket we can’t afford now that local governments have decided in the face of declining budgets that law enforcement is an alternate form of tax collection. We understand that there’s nothing to be gained by being rude, which is why most of use are curt but not aggressive when dealing with whatever crap you are about to subject us to. We are legally obligated to do very little – to provide identification, not to be violent, to comply with the handful of things you’re allowed to ask us to do when we interact. That’s it. Nobody cares if your feelings are hurt or if your ego reacts poorly to being treated with an attitude other than meek deference.”

Posted in America, Politics, Sandra Bland | Leave a comment