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The Public Ineffectual

For entertainment purposes only.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Pull Up A Trough

Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

My Roommate went to Costco...and all I got was this 4 kilo bag of pasta!

Actually, I asked for it but little did I realise what a mother trucker it was going to be. I shudder to think what their "value" pet food must be like.

Costco is a place that specialises in selling stuff in bulk. Its difficult to get used to these North American proportions, sometimes. Claire and Georgina went to the US together a few years back before coming to Montreal and they reeled in horror at some of the portion sizes.

So, you are all invited to dinner. Every last one of you. Guess what we're having?

Monday, November 29, 2004

Baby Lust

Originally uploaded by laurona12.

Someone once said to me that my love of dogs is sublimated baby lust. She could be right. But when I look at puppies, all I can think of is how much I love puppies. This one is so adorable.

As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. (Thank you, stevey.com, for the link above.)

Sunday, November 28, 2004

"Heeeeeeeeeey, I remember you!"

...were the unwelcome welcome words from the bouncer at Jupiter Room last night. I just popped my head in as I was walking home to see if I could catch a friend. Atomic and Bita can attest, the short time we spent there on Thursday night was occasion for a low personal watermark. A quote from Top Gun was swimming through my head all Friday: "Your ego is writing cheques your body can't cash."

I have, however, managed to settle a burning issue I'm sure has been hot on everyone's agenda - plans for New Year's Eve. I will, as I have done twice in years past, WORK. Its just easier that way.

I helped a friend on a philosophy paper last night on a book I've never read feeling like a fraud for I'm seemingly helpless to help myself on that score.

If you need me, I will be in my hole. *sigh*

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Chicks & Cars...

Chicks & Cars
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

...are a classic combination. This is as sultry as I could muster. The final result is rather more camp. (I'm trying...) Xi and I spotted this on our way to Blizzarts from the Green Room.

I should start a Volkswagon series of photos.

This is my new winter coat. I give it a 7/10. I have dubbed it "Big Pink".

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Oblivia's Net Worth?

Three Faces of Liz
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

Quite possibly - but that's not the point.

The point here is what you see here is three generations of CAD20 notes that came into my posession in the span of 3 days. They were spewed out of ordinary bank machines and became a serendipitous occasion that required a post.

It would be redundant to explain which is the earlier version - simply look at HRH Elizabeth II's face and you can figure it out.

I like money as much as the next person (perhaps even more). In my mind, I've been working on a paper FOREVER (as I have been in the habit of doing in Life) on money. But I should probably defer that to another post because the laundry in the washing machine is unbalanced and the machine is about to vibrate through the floor. Its creating a horrible din.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I Found It!

After scrounging around on the internet, I finally found it. Harnessing the power of google, I was able to find this charm who linked the video for Sometimes by Les Rhythmes Digitales to his blog (you will see my breathless comment there). You have probably heard me rant about this video in person and now you can see what I've been talking about (and quite possibly remain fixed to the idea that I need serious professional help).

It is one of the most bittersweet things in all creation. It wasn't on high rotation as far as I know and I was only fortunate enough to see it once on Rage with my mom and sister. We were all suitably impressed, as I remember it. (My family does have a very special relationship with plush, however.)

According to Nagl, it was directed by one Mike Mills - multimedia star . I will turn my attention to Mike Mills in the coming days, I think. In the meantime, click here and go fix yourself a drink because it takes a while to load.


On a completely unrelated note, only in a spoof article on the demise of the New York hipster could one Gavin MacInnes come off sounding so very reasonable.


Some random thoughts from last week:

Picture of Dominique de Villepin last Wednesday in Le Figaro really looking sexy for a man his age........Erin's Birthday party Saturday night in a loft of some kind run by an artists collective - photos of one of the first people I met in Montreal 8 years ago all over the walls.......Friday night I found out that bloggers CAN dance thanks to Nika's organising skills..........Roomie had her thesis defense and French champagne passed my lips for the first time since who knows when............

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Civic Disobedience While You Still Can....or Welcome Wagon for GWB

Things have been slow on this blog and I apologise for my reticence. Lots of things in the flow at the moment but I will get to those later. This is time critical. For those readers in Montreal and would like to show their disappointment in continuing of imperialist ends of the United States of America, read on....

Put the "demos" back in Democracy; you need to register for transport to Ottawa tomorrow.


(organised by "Collectif Echec a la guerre")
DATE: Tuesday, 30 November 2004
TIME: 5:30pm
WHERE: Departing from Dominion Square corner of Peel and Rene-Levesque (Metro Peel).

- against the war, destruction, poverty, exclusion, racism and fear generated by the US policies - against the social and economic policies which are taking us down the same path in Quebec and Canada

(two demonstrations organised by the NO TO BUSH Committee)

(1) WHAT: Mass demonstration against Bush and for justice, freedom, and equality
DATE: Tuesday, 30 November
PLACE: Confederation Park (corner of Elgin and Laurier)

(2) WHAT: Mass demonstration against war
DATE: Tuesday, 30 November, at
TIME: 5pm
PLACE: Parliament Hill, with candles

Transport is being organised from Montreal by "Mobilization Montreal", and ad hoc group which has reserved a dozen buses and expects to have to book others...

DEPARTURE from Montreal at 9:00 am from Concordia, McGill and UQAM universities
DEPARTURE from Ottawa (returning) : 7:30 pm
COST: $ 5 for students, with valid card $10 for others

You must pay and chose your point of departure at the time of your reservation.

(no later than Wednesday 24 November)

(a) Pass by the offices of the Canadian Federation of Students 1500 de Maisonneuve West, # 405
Tel: 514-931-2377


(b) Attend the organization assembly in Montreal, this Tuesday, 23 November, at 6 pm
at 1710 Beaudry (metro Beaudry)

For any additional information: Tel: 514-931-2377;
email: montrealantibush@gmail.com

On November 30th, all out on the streets !

Friday, November 19, 2004

Thats Dr. V, to you.

Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

Congratulations F., on the successful defense of your dissertation!



Thursday, November 18, 2004

She's the one they call "Oblivia"...

Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

It was an just another ordinary day in this ordinary city we call Montreal.

Oblivia and Sniffles sat sipping and chatting at the coffee shop at the landing of the elevators just below Simons Department Store when someone coming down hits a snag. Literally. A woman gets her shoelace snagged in the escalators. Her three friends, slightly panicked and helpless, just stood there looking at the shoe, foot and leg suspended in the air tethered to the escalator. The snag-ee just hops in place trying to stay upright. Everyone turns around to see what the commotion is about.

Along comes Oblivia to swoop in and Save The Day. Not so much swoop in but rather calmly walk over and hit the red button labeled "emergency stop" right there. The escalator stops. Woman removes shoelace from escalator. Oblivia turns and walks back to her seat.

And no one took any notice. Not the snag-ee, nor her friends and not even Sniffles (whom I abandoned to answer the call of duty) until I told her. She responds with two words: "blog it".

This is a photo of the escalator I stopped. Look closely; you can see the "up" escalator on the right is still moving.

I suddenly want to see The Incredibles again.

Totally Tuesday

Slow Dance to Purple Rain
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

Totally Tuesday ended with a "slow dance".

This is the sum total of the dancing that is fit to divulge. *titter*

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Me and My Cousin, Minae

At the W
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

My cousin works in PR at Audi which is part of the Volkswagon Group. This is me and her at a work do at the W Hotel Walkerhill in Seoul for the launch of the New Golf.

The night before when we were making arrangements, she asked me if I preferred the A6 or the TT. Me: "???...Uh -you decide." I met her in front of the Galleria (department store in Apgujeong which is like Seoul's Beverly Hills) the outside of which was encrusted with round white disks that slowly morphed pastel colours. Quite beautiful really. Reminded me of mother of pearl. There she was, our little Minae, behind the wheel of an Audi A6 (on reflection, I should have said TT). I almost shed a tear. I got to meet her workmates who were quite cosmopolitan, in fact. Her boss, Janet, was the first genuine Korean hipster I have ever met.

After taking in the requisite unveiling of the New Golf (scantly clad girls and all that) and stuffing our faces at the buffet, we headed for the bar of the Hotel. They have these red and white pod like chairs suspended from the ceiling. They were really uncomfortable to sit in and engage with the rest of the group. They looked as though they might make for an interesting tryst with a lover though I don't think they're imagining quite this when they were installed.

Minae's work mates were really excellent company. Janet, of course, was friends with the DJ. The CEO is this frenchman whom people say has a "German face and a French height". Hee hee. That is so Korean. People say things about your appearance with very little sense of political correctness or censorship. To comment on my weight or the height of my forehead (serious) is not uncommon or even rude. It just Is.

Afterward, we went to a cafe called Harue, back near Apgujeong. Its one of the oldest cafes in Seoul and made up in the style of a French Brasserie (I felt like I was home again - sort of.) Cafes in Seoul are often like this. Cafes here are rudimentary restaurant-lite places, priced for daily use, relying on volume for their profit stream. Korean cafes are more like clubs insofar as they are gathering points but they are priced such that the drinks are very expensive but you are welcome to sit for as long as you like. I mean, this cafe had valet parking.

Minae is a total style maven. After ordering our drinks, she spots this woman at another table who is "the most powerful make up artist in the country". Everyone in the industry is trying to get her to say something nice about their product because they know they will have an immediate hit on their hands. My cousin also confessed to me that she has a blog and I told her about mine. We each promised we wouldn't tell The Adults. As she said, "they have secrets from when they were young too."

As we were leaving the valet said, "Were you the guest who arrived in the Audi?" It has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Fun night. Minae is adorable.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Neurotic City

Where I work is a spacious loft style office shared by a graphic design company and a multimedia company. Its open plan save for the nominal demarcation from one company to the other. Everyone communicates using iChat/ICQ/Proteus all the goddamned day. It seems eeriy locked down and quiet if you're not used to it. We even have the ringers turned off our phones in an effort to reduce stress. People are buzzing away in their own little worlds with headphones on, listening to music, chatting with each other occasionally getting up to pee or to eat. Sometimes people even talk to each other, face-to-face.

A work mate walked past and I gave him a smile. Not one of these: :) - a real one. Remember those? He walked back to his desk and promptly accused me (unjustly, I thought), via iChat of having "funny business eyes" i.e. being up to no good. What funny business could I possibly be up to when both hands are where you can see them in an open plan office, surrounded by accounting detritus???

Him: what kind of trouble are you up too !?! that was a trouble glance !!
Oblivia: ....nuthin'......you know, i'm always trouble...today is nothing new
H: heh
O: you are so suspicious of me....jeez
H: if i had no reason not to be. i wouldn't be .. but ...........
O: what reasons do you have to suspect me of funny bizness????
H: the funny business eyes !!
O: oh please, YOU don't get to see those eyes

Online communication has its merits and has its place in my life. But, a moment like this would have been impossible without good old fashioned co-presence. And, ironically, such a confrontation would probably also have been impossible without iChat. He might have come over to my desk and indiscreetly asked what was on my mind for everyone else to hear, but I doubt it.

So, at the intersection of mediated and immediated communication, I had a yet another realisation. The "funny business eyes" were brought on not by anything I was doing so much as what I was listening to. To paraphrase Frequent Visitor, Cow, for a second, perhaps I don't have the API for food or even romance (heh heh). But I think I may have it for MUSIC. If you're wondering, as guy above was, what I was listening to click on the link above.

If you see me in a club making "funny business" eyes don't be afraid. I'm just enjoying the music. In fact, come a little closer. I don't bite.

P.S. The "funny business eyes" might even come out tomorrow night at Totally Tuesdays, Bar Korova (above the Copacabana) from about 11 or so.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

SMS in the Wee Hours

Thanks Petra
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

I slept quite badly last night between the hours of midnight and 3am. I think there might be a pea under my mattress.

I finally roused myself. I ate brie n' crackers in bed whilst sending email to Australia and SMS-ing Germany in the middle of the night.

This is what was returned to me a little later. Petra, darling, thank you. This is why I do what I do. Without you (and others like you), Oblivia is nothing.

Friday, November 12, 2004

File Under "Realisation"

Me and Whiskey
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

I've been taking pictures of dogs I meet on the street lately. They are much harder to photograph well than I thought. Their inherent cuteness is hard to capture fully.

Whiskey is just such a subject. He's even more gorgeous in real life.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

You Got to Know Your Chicken

"Dinner Interruptus"
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

This post is coming to you with the simmering of mushroom risotto in the background because I'm far from knowing my chicken. I fear my chicken.

In a move to preserve my manicured nails, I have been eating out at least 2 meals a day since I landed back in the city. This had to stop because if my wallet didn't give out, my pants would soon enough. So I went grocery shopping and bought the chicken breast pictured above.

Now, I've written about this before - how raw meat is a little too much for me sometimes. I put it down to lack of experience with meat. I just don't know how to handle it, how its cultivated, how to buy it, how to carve it and so on. I never really grew up with too much of it at home either and when it was around, it freaked me out then too. I pretty much refused to touch it.

I called on my sister for advice on how to cut it (via iChat) and she had nothing but taunts for me. "LOL have you ever cooked chicken before?" and "I hate it when you get to a tendon and it won't cut properly." She fully admits that she doesn't touch raw meat either. (see pic above).

Here's a word of warning. If you're called upon to eat at my table, expect that there is probably an alterior motive and bring your best chopping knife.

Atomic is came over last night and she/we prepared some sesame chicken and bok choy. She's a charm.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

"No money man could bring my love...."

The Carnage
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

...Its sweetness that I'm thinking of." *

The main business of the evening was to check out Anthony and Mark's new night "Totally Tuesdays" at Korova.

Me and my girls (Bita, Atomic and Sam) swore up and down that we would take it easy, make it an early night since we each had Big Wednesday Business to take care of. Then the night took on a momentum of its own.

Pictured above is kamikaze 4 of 5! What were we thinking??? Or, rather, why weren't we thinking???

* Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Writing on the Wall - Redfern Style

Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

Got this in an email from the same listerv as Mr. Jacques from yesterday's post. In case you can't read it clearly, it says: "If you voted Liberal...I will hunt you down....and KILL YOU...I don't know where you live but I'm very good @ research."

In the words of Bobby Bannerjee who sent it out:

the graffiti in the pic was spotted just after our elections on a wall in redfern, an innercity aboriginal 'ghetto' in sydney. redfern is also the
birthplace of the aboriginal land rights movement in australia. and as you may know 'liberal' here has the opposite connotation than its use in the states but basically they're the same bunch of fascist thugs that run this country as well.

'Nuff said.

Not the most charitable way of dealing with the Australian swing to the right but I must admit I am feeling it too. Also brings to mind something Jello Biafra once said about graffiti being the last bastion of free speech...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

*** Special Guest Post! ***

The American “election” results have brought forth much self-congratulatory feeling from Canadians with a distaste for the current loathsome regime. Anecdotal reports and common sense suggest that there will be a “reverse brain drain” from the divided electorate to the South (or perhaps its already started, MD?). If it all gets a bit much, however, Dr. Roy Stager Jacques (an acquaintance from a listserv I lurk on) offers some sound advice on how we might deal with the possible flood from the south of “bluebacks” drawing on the experience of the United States.

You may leave comments for him below or thank him directly on roystagerjacques[at]yahoo.com


It seems that Canada is poised for a demographic invasion across its Southern border, an invasion against which you Canadians may be ill-prepared. Since the end of the Viet Nam war, the only significant illegal traffic across these borders has been Canadians heading home from American malls and liquor stores so, having lived three years in Arizona, I'd like to share some of our experience with Southern invasions, in order to help our brethren to the North deal with this "blue invasion" in the spirit of compassionate conservatism.

1. Our border to the South is half the size of yours and we still can't police it effectively. Don't even try. Simply declare all Americans in Canada to be "illegal aliens" unless and until they spend five years studying for citizenship. Then deport them when they show up at citizenship classes. What the hell, they're illegal.

2. But during that time, be aware that they will attempt to steal the least desirable and lowest paying jobs from real Canadians. When you find them working illegally in Canadian businesses, take them away from their families and drop them somewhere in Northern Idaho or Montana (BTW, Is "Idaho" the feminine, first person of "he da man"?).

3. Build a 4,000 mile long fence. Sure they'll crawl through it, but it's a symbol. Of what? Let's say it's a symbol of welcome. Down here, we prefer wire, but you might consider cedar, since these actions will result in tariffs that kill your American market for cedar shingles.

4. Put just enough armed Mounties on the fence that "bluebacks" will have to hire guides -- you might choose to call them timber wolves -- to take them across. Sure, every now and then you'll come across a Dodge Caravan in Southern Manitoba with 23 human popsicles who were cheated of their money and abandoned by their timber wolf when the transmission blew, but democracy comes with a cost, eternal vigilance and all that. Besides, they don't vote.

5. Until bluebacks can earn citizenship, make it almost impossible for them to get a blue card allowing them to legally work in Canada. This will guarantee that you will have a compliant and dependable source of labor for your most menial jobs: salad prep in your restaurants, dry cleaning your suits with toxic chemicals, economically harvesting your crops (where 689 bluebacks = 1 combine), and, of course, day labor. When you see a cluster of people on a street corner wearing tattered $700 suits (CN$5,000), shouting brazos fortes at passing trucks, you will know you are heading in the direction of multicultural inclusiveness.

6. Regularly raid businesses known to employ bluebacks, not often enough to affect profitability, but enough that the workers are ready to run at a moment's notice. I don't know what you'll call the raiders; what's the English language equivalent of la migre? Such raids will help build a strong economy by offering employers the ability to hire workers at less than your minimum wage, to deny benefits and, when times are hard, to withhold paychecks entirely. Who's a blueback going to complain to, the police?

7. Once bluebacks are entrenched as an integral part of the economy, take back what is yours. Why should illegal aliens have access to your welfare system? If they need food, let them go back to Boston. Above all, ban bluebacks from your healthcare system. How do you think American healthcare became the most expensive in the world? No, not governmental incompetence, biotech greed or pork barrel politics to help the beleaguered drug multinationals. It was by treating poor people for morbidity related to poverty. Of course your fields are filled with toxic chemicals. If they cared about their health, why did they pick the crop? Why do they choose to live on cheap sugar, salt and fat. After they've destroyed their circulation by choosing Big Macs instead of Pacific salmon on a bed of mixed greens for lunch down at the car wash, are you going to pay hundreds of thousands of public dollars to solve problems that belong South of the border? Let the Blue States carry the blue man's burden.

8. Consider setting up a free trade zone between Lethbridge and Winnipeg, where blues without the aggressiveness to become bluebacks can make door handles for Ford of Canada and egg salad for Bob Evans restaurants for far less than overly-entitled Canadian workers would demand. In addition, such a remote blue zone, with workers dependent on two-hour van rides from settlement sites, would produce a loyal, dependable and intrinsically motivated work force. They can still send money back to their families in Berkeley so that their children will have a chance at success; the American Dream has always been multi-generational; what can you do about it?

This is your time, the dawn of the Canadian Century. Look at the glorious maple leaf waving in the breeze. That color doesn't run. Stand united (Ecoutez, Quebec!). God bless Canada. You have an obligation to lead the world. Don't fail us.

…but who wrote your national anthem, Leonard Cohen? Talk about slit-your-wrist music! Could you maybe get Celine Dion's people to punch it up a bit?

Atomic Mushroom Cloud

Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

The girl lands back in the city after a two month tour of duty in Iran working on out-of-country voting for the Afghan elections without a word of warning.

She is dutifully posed here with a "khomeini" - a 10 000 rial note. A natural companion to beer and cigarettes, if ever there was one.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Could this be the luckiest man in the world?

The Incredibles
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

Or just Michel flanked by Jen and Oblivia at a screening of the Incredibles?

Go see it. Its soooooo good. If you're beginning to get the idea that I only watch animated films, you're about 80% right.

I've decided to try my hand at being more "high maintenance". We found the girl I should be "understudying" in the food court. Some preliminary observations:

1. If you have a lifestyle accessory, like a digital camera, make sure its frosted pink.
2. When your man tries to kiss you after you apply lipstick, you should sneer and hit him in a limp-wristed-ultimately-non-threatening way.
3. Poise is everything.
4. Handbag (fake kidney shaped Dior, especially) should rest on table, never tucked away from view.

Hmmm. This is more complex that I first thought.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Kung Fu Hucksters

Kung Fu Hucksters
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

I went to buy tea with the parents in this complex dedicated to tea, somewhere near the hotel. Its all a bit vague when you're not on your own. The tea sellers were arranged around two paved over courtyards with open fronts like this. They sell all manner of chinese teas including the prizedbuoy-cha which is pressed into bricks and aged sometimes for decades. You always discard the first brew of this tea to kill the mould. It is, um, an acquired taste. My mom's favourite is "monkey tea". Named, not for the astrological sign or the symbolic value of the monkey but for the fact that it is hand-picked by trained monkeys.

You always taste before you buy so you sit down with the shopkeepers and drink tea out of these tiny little cups everywhere you go. Thinking on it now, people showed very little curiosity about us. Why do we look Chinese but require an interpreter? Where could we be from? Why would we be here? Nothing really.

At the first tea place we went to, my eyes were fairly riveted to the televsion. I was still in shock at the fact that China was nothing like I was expecting it to be except for, maybe, full of
Chinese people. I think I understand what the New China is all about in an abstract sense - economically capitalist/politically communist - but have no idea how its going to play out. Places like Guangzhou remind me of Seoul in the eighties. When I said this to a longtime Korean resident of Hong Kong - and lately, Shenzhen - he agreed. He added that fifteen years ago, Shenzhen looked like post-war Korea. Now it looks like Seoul in the eighties and in a couple of years time, its going to look like Seoul in the nineties, perhaps. There is an accelerated pace of change that Canadians/Australians just have no experience of.

These guys in grey came into one of the tea stores and were just sort of poking around. I thought they were monks at first but they didn't quite have the right garb on and I played with the notion that perhaps they were in their civvies. Then I saw them again in this tea shop. Just before this guy strikes this pose above, he does this series of kung fu moves with his arms to summon the healing power of ki and then puts his hands to the affected area. I encouraged my dad to undergo "treatment" (couldn't resist a photo op like that) but sadly, Kung Fu guys had left the vicinity.

If you look in the background, its all tea.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Big Cuddles!

Big Cuddles!
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

This is in the showroom of Mr. Choi's factory in China. The factory employs some 700 people. Adjacent to the factory is a dormitory where non-local employees are housed and fed lunch and dinner plus congee when work finishes around 11pm. No joke. This is very much the norm.

Godzilla looks like he's ticklish or something. Maybe they should write that into a storyline so they can stop using these stupid "masers" that have been useless to stop him since he first crawled out of the ocean in the sixties.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Judes Made Me Do It

Oblivia and Judes in Kangnam
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

I don't usually do the "v" thing. He's been hanging out too much with pre-teens, obviously.

How cute are we!?! Not half as cute as our photographer, right Judes?

People of the United States of America...

...face that corner and have a good long think about what you've done. Ugh. You disappoint me again. Bad nation! BAD NATION!

Oil is back up over $50 per barrel and the markets are firm and steady.

Thanks, J, for the image.

What the hell kind of world do we live in?

If there isn't a riot, pronto, I will be very very pissed off.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

My Last Day in Seoul

I'm back in Montreal, but my head is still elsewhere. These stories will spill forth in the weeks to come. I'm going to catch you up little by little starting with my last day in Seoul.

Dongdaemun Shijang
After the last morning ki massage I went out in the afternoon to Dongdaemun Shijang (market). This is the market that is renowned for its fashions and being later in the day on a Friday, there were throngs of young people (high school and University students) there as I was spat out of the subway system. Outside the market I was visiting was a stage with a breakdancing performance - I hear thats what the kids are into these days. The market isn't quite as tradtional as Namdaemun and these days tends to be a series of multi-storey mall type affairs full of booths loosely arranged by merchandise (shoes, accessories etc). The clothes really were spot on and I regretted not shopping there earlier but hey, at least now I know for next time. I really had no time to do much shopping anyway. I had a dinner date that I will get to in a second...

I went to the basement level and a booth specialising in handbags caught my eye. A little note about Korean shopping is that shopkeepers can be quite agressive and outside of a department store or a restaurant, almost everything is negotiable. You are also expected to be quite impulsive - I've gotten nasty looks from people for trying things on like shoes and refusing to buy them because they just didn't fit right. Seems like a good reason to me not to fork over $180.

Anyway, this guy was trying to interest me in his merchandise, asking what i was looking for etc etc. When I continue to be disinterested, he says to me in a lower conspiratorial voice and a little nudge: "Imitation?". Me: "?" Him: "Imitation?"

I learned from my aunt and cousin a few years back in New York's Chinatown, the difference between a "copy" and an "imitation" as it applies to handbags. My cousin, Minae, was genius. "That bag is a Prada shape with a Louis Vuitton fabric....this one is a Coach bag with a Loewe fabric" and so on. These are the degrees of difference that make them essentially legal to produce however much they may look like proper designer bags. "Imitation" is when they are the same as the original on every count and these are the real deal black market goods.

So, back to Dongdaemun....I'm getting interested. I don't much care about authenticity as it pertains to handbags but the whole cloak and dagger business had me intrgued. I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I heard that this stuff happens but this was the first time it was happening to me! Hurrah! I think he fingered me for this because of my newly manicured nails (which is another story entirely). He ushered me into one of their stalls where I sat down on a stool shielded from the peering eyes of the world by a wall of handbags. He hands me a catalogue and instructs me too look at the Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci which is mostly what they do. I told him I was interested in Hermes and he said they don't do it. Given the notoriety of the Kelly bag and the ferocity of the design's policing, its not surprisng they don't.

I point out a bag and say "how much?" and he evades the question by telling me that he will give me a "very good price". Repeat several times. Before we proceed and I feel obliged to buy, I would like to make sure I have enough cash to pay for it. Clearly, they expect to charge a premium for imitation goods. I pick out a few bags from the catalogue and he sends someone to the warehouse to fetch them. While we wait, I essentially play "hard to get" as I had to feign a level of disinterest to make sure to get the best price. He makes small talk until the bags arrive. One bag he wanted some 180 000 won ($257). Uh, no thanks. I bargained with him over 2 items he was asking 100 000 won for. I offered 60 000 and we settled for 70 000. I'm now the proud owner of a new "Prada" bag!

My Dinner Date

I saw Judes Dickey for dinner. He and I are acquaintances one degree seperated by, roughly, 180 people so in Montreal terms, we're practically related. All I knew about Judes is that he's patently one of the funniest people you're ever going to meet. I still laugh when I think of the time we were at Anne's drunken sushi party (we consumed 1 bottle of sake per head) where he did an impression of some Quebecois boxer ("Champion du monde! Champion du monde")!

The first time I called him, he answered the phone Korean style. That startled me into thinking I had the wrong number and when it was indeed Judes, it made me laugh. I could hear screaming children in the background - he was at work teaching english. Childish misbehavin' is an international language as far as I can tell. I committed cardinal sin #1 of city living in choosing Starbucks at Kangman station as a meeting place. Never EVER do this. Starbucks' predatory corporate strategy has always been and continues to be to choose a corner, open up three of their outlets until all mom and pop shops die and then close down their excess, if necessary. I darted between 3 different Starbucks until I found Judes in front of one of them - not the one I meant in the first place but no matter, all's well that ends well.

As soon as we met, we did the kiss-kiss-on-both-cheeks thing and he exclaims: "Its been so long since I've done that!" We go around the corner to a little beer and Western food place just cause it was close. For the record, a pitcher of beer costs 2000 won (CAD2.50) and we chit chat, catch up - I gorge myself on salad and nachos. He impressed my very much with this easy command of the Korean language and his deployment of words like weh-guk-in which translates into foreigner but is one of those words that is somehow more expressive of the creature of he speaks of in Korean. The weh-guk-in is a whiney, pathetic creature who sees neither the forest NOR the trees and every country has them. Weh-guk-in, if you want all the comforts of home and you're not a fucking refugee, keep your goddamn trap shut and leave post haste. No one has any use for you. We discuss our observations of Seoul like the culture of vanity, the spoiled children, the driving (much improved from my perspective, utterly insane from his) and some personal stuff about where our respective heads are at. It was nice to have some normal conversation. Apparently, some friends of ours told him that he would be treated like a rock star but apparently, pussy hasn't been raining down from the trees. Shame, our Judes is a quality man.

My uncle, the eldest of my mom's siblings, and his wife came to see us at the apartment for our last night. My cousin also came to stay with us because he had an interview with LG's cell phone gaming department just nearby the following day. This kid has succeeded in making gaming his life. He reviews games all the time, taught game design in Shanghai over the summer and even wrote the book (literally) on Playstation in Korea. (Woo-suk, I hope you kicked some LG ass.) At around midnight, we left for the noraebang (karaoke in private rooms, literally "song room") around the corner. My uncle, who had been shuffling along with the rest of us suddenly picked up the pace and accelerated ahead. They wanted 20 000 won an hour but he protested that it was too much. So settled for 15 000 for 2 hours thinking it would be too much but it wasn't enough in the end.

I never quite realised what a musical family this is. My uncle, as it turns out, used to be a professional singer, and even after much smoking and booze, he still has a magnificent voice. Woo-suk is also an amazing singer and furthermore, a performer. He and I did a rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" that was so awesome, they were asking us if we had practiced beforehand! At one point, my mom and aunt Lorraine were dancing to my rendition of "Proud Mary". We got back in around 3am - just enough time for me to pack and say my goodbyes.

I got into a cab then onto the airport bus. My eyes were welded shut for most of the ride to the airport and when they did open as we approached, the first thing I saw was a statue on the median strip. The visual language of the statue was much in the vein of communist revolutionary public art. It would have looked more appropriate with a hammer or sickle. It was a statue on a plinth of a hand holding one of Samsung's newest generation phones - a flip phone where the screen actually pivots sideways. Viva la revolucion, indeed.


I'm having a bit of trouble.
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.
Making the transition from summer to winter wardrobe is more complicated than you can imagine.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Got My Nails Did...and then some

Oui, c'est moi
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.
Walking around Kangnam, where I stayed in Seoul, clearly did something to me. I love the whole "square nail" look though roomie says it looks sort of porn star-ish when they get really long.

If you look closely, you can see the rose "art" (read: sticker). Nail ajumma wanted to do 3, I wanted 1, we compromised at 2. I'm sporting butterflies on the other hand. Am I slowly morphing into Mariah Carey?


Pretty Boy

Pretty Boy
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.
I went to Chinatown for Dim Sum (Yum Cha for those in Australia) and saw this little one out of the corner of my eye. He was so adorable, I had to run over and take a photo (because I could). It appears as though he was dining out with Grandma, Grandpa and Great-Grandma.

I was observing from afar and this kid was cool. He was totally clued into the world around him observing and reacting. See? He already knows that taking a 3/4 shot of the face is not only flattering but makes you look honest. So young, so clever.

I'm not big on children per se but I like them best when they're at the pre-verbal stage. They're like bald puppies, really.

I don't know his name, I don't know his number.