Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 You Were...Well..

Wow! It is the end of 2011 already. I'm 30, single and the battery to my wireless mouse just died. This past year was marked by mild discoveries and accomplishments. For one I finally found a school I am comfortable working at and also a neighborhood that is nice to live in.

I got out and saw some nice places, one of which was the beauty that can be found on Jeju Island.

But for the most part I feel like 2011 was full of hard work and toil as I got use to my new job and working with 1st graders. Yet, knowing I succeeded and impressed people makes it worth it, I guess.

For 2012, I can already see the hard work ahead as I will be a team leader next year. I am dreading the notion that one will have to be "friendly" with the Korean staff so that all communication runs well. I mostly like to keep my head low and out of the way from the Korean homeroom teachers. So already next year that will have to change. But I think if I see it all in a "business" light it might work for me. Looking at things now I am on good terms with my current Korean homeroom teachers, but not on a deep personal one.


I forgot to mention ~ I finished planning all my lessons for the first semester next year! Yep I cranked out 4 months worth of lessons in about 2.5 weeks.

I will return to work Monday for 3 weeks of Winter Camp, and thankfully will finish at 12pm. However, I plan to spend my free time there making new materials for next year and getting ready to move my stuff into the 2nd grade classroom. Time is quickly kicking down this final semester. There are just 2 weeks left in Feb for teaching and then I'm off on my American vacation.

Anyways, I hope to get started on the 2nd semester for next year, but will go a bit slower as that is definitely further away.

Allright! 2011 you weren't really a big happy splash of a year in my life, but glad you weren't a complete bomb.

2012...bring it on!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

David LaChapelle @ SAC

There is an exceptional contemporary art show going on at the Seoul Arts Center featuring the photographic works of David LaChapelle. If you have ever seen the above photo at some time in your life than you might recognize other works such as:
(source) " Britney Spears: Portrait of a Young Pop Star on the Verge of Success" 1999

If not then let me reassure you that you likely have seen other works by him, as he was popular for a while creating over-the-top pop star shots.

But the show at the SAC is more like a retrospective than a showcase and through the weaving gallery path, you are taken through his most iconic works to ones that show his struggle with certain themes. Also there is a video screening room where you can see how he creates his photographs in a very artsy-video kind of way.

Overall, it is a must see show and I advise you to leave any conservative values you might have about full frontal nudity (both male and female) at home. Indeed, you are in store for some very blazon photography that is more satisfying to look at than just ordinary pictures of nudity. (Whatever those may be.. ;) 

In fact, the most enjoyable part of the show is watching other people look at the works. When I first came in there was a group of highschoolers, on a tour. After their guided introduction, they were allowed to walk around. Mostly the first set of works to see are large prints of celebreties in full nude or partially nude spreads. There were sheepish grins by boys and bugged-eyes by girls to be seen on their young faces.

But the rest of the show starts to calm down a bit from the overtly sexual and gets more into a refection of our contemporary world.

(source) "The House at the End of the World" 2005 

Clearly you start to get into his "world" and due to the large scale of each photograph start to see details and imagery that is definitely iconic and was not haphazardly placed. For the most part, his photographs, are stages that he created while using props and popular objects.  Spotting a loaf of Wonder Bread or a Taco Bell cup, is just a few examples of hidden pop-cultural items in some of his works.

For the most part you get a sense of the world as one run by popular culture and at the same time trashed by it. You leave feeling a connection to something greater but also a little bit more twisted. 

Again I highly recommend you get off your butt and get out to this show, as in my opinion, contemporary works such as these are not too often brought to Korea as they should be. Bring your date, wife or hubby and have a good thorough conversation afterwards. 

The SAC is located in the Seocho area of Seoul near the Nambu Bus Terminal or Line #3.
Take exit 5 and turn left at the nearest street crossing. Follow this uphill and slighty jeering path. You then find yourself atop a large road and across from you is the structure known as the SAC. Turn right and head towards the major crosswalk. 

The David LaChapelle show costs 13,000 won for regular adults and you buy tickets downstairs at the ticket kiosk area. Then you go upstairs to the Hangaram Design Museum, and proceed. 

There are several cafes within the SAC, some offering expensive morsels to dine on and others coffee and small sandwiches. Across the street is a Starbucks and CoffineGaru...(whatever it is called). Also along that crooked path to the SAC was spotted a cutesy cafe with a sign promising "panninis". Maybe check that out as well. 

Anyways, this cold season is good for warming up in a gallery or museum, so why not see this show? Certainly some of the more sensational photos might get you a little steamy. ;)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Vatos Urban Tacos: Yum!

Spotted on my to Vatos Urban Tacos, in Itaewon, was this "Burger and Dog" place that promised comfort food. Well I will certainly have to come back and see if they make the cut.

Urban Dictionary tells me that the word "Vatos" is Mexican for "dude" or "homeboy." This sets you up for the kind of Mexican cuisine that is Vatos Urban Tacos. Already, gaining great hype for it's unique Korean-crossed-Mexican flavor, I knew I needed to give it a try.

I for one didn't spend much time around Korean-taco trucks back home, but did find myself in a fair share of as-close-as-you-can-get Mexican restaurants in the SF Bay Area. Also I have a friend back home who was married to a Mexican lad, who at that time made wonderful carne asada tacos.

So my palette for more "authentic" style Mexican food is well developed.
The space for Vatos is a remodeled Villa home, complete with the brownish brick exterior. 

Once entering we were seated on the upper level, which is semi-outdoor. A nice clear-vinyl cover keeps one warm. Of course, the large heaters were helpful as well. The seating was quite interesting as our table was pretty high and the chairs quite off the ground.

I imagine a sultry Summer evening will be enjoyable up here or even Spring afternoons. However, this winter evening was quite pleasant on their roof-top dining area. The menu is simple and easy to read, along with being well designed.

We ordered Carnitas Taquitos and chips and salsa for starters. The taquitos were unfortunately overcooked, but otherwise had a spicy meaty interior that was delicious. The chips came as a few large tortillas fried. So you end up breaking off pieces.
For our main meal we both ordered the Classic Carne Asada, which were very tasty. The meat was plump and scrumptious with a good grilled flavor. The red sauce was at first a bit to get use to, but I warmed up to it later.
Prices were reasonable and there are more items to explore on the menu. For more check out Seoul Eats' write up.

Located in the new trending Alley way, I have discussed before, you can get here by going down the road from the Wolfhound Pub.

I can't wait to get back and try something new, maybe I'll see you there!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Current Show at Gallery Golmok

 "Welcome to Itaewon" But really I like to veer off the main road and go down the alleys. As you know Gallery Golmok has become a nice nook of a corner to go to in Itaewon. Recently they had an opening for the show, "Warmth."

There were featured an array of artists in several themes. But mostly what tied things together was the whimsical and cutesy-color palette.  I liked the following works because of the way they were framed. If you look closely the corners were sort of tied in there.

Cookies and hot tea were available, and while we were moving on to the other gallery space they were setting up chestnuts to be roasted.

Across from the main gallery is The Alley cafe, and if you go a little past this is attached Golmok's adjacent gallery.

Fun was had in the alley.
I enjoyed the glistening of Christmas balls hung up in the outdoor space.

Next time your in Itaewon why not stroll over to the gallery and cafe? Just veer down an alley near Suji's and you should find it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ho Ho the Snow

As far as snow goes, this isn't much. I've seen it way more piled up in Korea. So this Christmas Eve's Day snow is nice but nothing to rave on about. Checking the weather forecast it looks like it might not snow till January. If this winter is going to be a mild one, well then I welcome it.

Soon it will melt and become slush, ah the joys of snow in Seoul.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tom's Brother in for the Holidays

Tom's brother, Kaiju, is visiting for the holidays. His mommy is off on her own vacation. All is good, as Tom will need a place to stay come February when I go off on my adventure.

Kaiju is a well-behaved guest and certainly keeps Tom company.
Since I am spending more time at home these days, I get to see their patterns. For the most part they sleep during the day to occasionally get up to eat or play. They move to various spots, sometimes Tom taking the cat carrier and Kaiju the soft bowl.

When their not play-fighting they seem to share a sweet bond.
But I make sure they don't play too rough and it seems they are okay. I'm actually happy they play together, because it means less time Tom has to chew my legs.

Although they keep the end of my bed occupied at night, I did enjoy their wake up call this morning. Both sat on top of my chest and waited for needed petting. haha

:) Happy Meowolidays.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Have a Jolly Golly Christmas It's the ...

I'm currently on my Christmas vacation that will last till the New Year. To give the kids something special we (the English teachers) dressed up in a Santa outfit, played songs and handed out presents. The kids had a splendid time, except for a few that were displeased with their presents. Hey! It's not my fault kid! The presents were brought in by other students and randomly put into a bag.

To be honest, this year I'm not too much of a fan of this holiday. For one, I am reminded of my recent break up with Korean boyfriend #2 and the good times we had last year. You can see in these posts (here and here) that he visited me in San Francisco. As you can imagine, I am little beside myself this season just wondering why such a difference.

But life moves on and lesson plans need to get made, which is mostly what I am doing this Xmas vacation.

I think having this stable job and even just the promotion of going to 2nd grade and being a team leader, has me grounded. The work is keeping me busy and the good times had with the children are helping me feel the holiday spirit. But I'm hoping next year's holiday season will be a festive and warm one with someone to share it with.

Happy Holidays~
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