Is it safe to blog again?

Now that the traffic spike has passed and I’m back to my regular readership, let me give you some of what you came here for:

That's right... Hot hill action.

That’s right… Hot hill action.

After almost two years of near daily posting as a way to deal with my grief over being forced to leave my comfy rut in Japan, I’ve been doing some culling of my Flickr photos to emphasize my more fancy-pants shots. I’ve found that once you hit about a hundred images, you start to get that Second Page/ Too Much Scrolling problem of people not wanting to look that deeply. It often makes me wonder why some websites even maintain archives since they largely go unread. My feeling is that it’s one of those things that gets done because it’s a thing that has always been done. Like comments sections.

The result of this culling of Flickr means that a lot of the images used here disappeared. So those posts were culled as well. You likely didn’t notice due to the phenomenon I mentioned above.

Also, I can recycle all of those shots six months down the road because I’m not famous enough to not get away with it.

This is everybody else’s fault but mine

I was thinking about yesterday’s post… as I tend to do so I can obsessively edit them to death… and it occurred to me that my own bad behaviour gets worse after I visit Seoul.

I once stood where PSY would later shoot Gangnam Style. That's my lame claim to fame.

I once stood where PSY would later shoot Gangnam Style. That’s my lame claim to fame.

This led me to think about all of the bad expats I’ve met over the years. What they had in common? Lived in or next to Seoul.

The worst students I had? Seoul.

Worst employers I had? Seoul… and Incheon, which is basically Seoul lite.

Biggest illnesses I had? Well, Japan actually. But because the volcano dumped ash on me and that messed up my lungs which is like the air in Seoul. Also, kimchi kicks up my acid reflux I developed there so someone has to be responsible for that, and Seoul is looking pretty suspicious.

K-Pop? Produced in Seoul.

Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

Itaewon? Located in Seoul.

Who stole all of the fun from the rest of Korea making places like Gunsan deadly dull and that makes you want to go live in Seoul? Seoul.

I think the evidence is clear: Seoul is Korea’s David Koresh.

“But when I do it, it’s cute!” – The Long-Term Expat Credo

It’s Friday night/ Saturday morning and you’re only reading this because you’re a sad pathetic loser like me who has nothing better to do with their lives like being groovy and popular with the opposite sex and should be making sweet love to someone at this moment.

Unless you’re an excellent multitasker. In which case, I salute you.

Here’s an old Weezer song that sums up my life for the last… oh… two decades or so;

“Narr! Weezer isn’t good now as they were in Pinkerton even though I hated it when it came out for not being The Sweater Song. Narr!” – The Internet.

Anyway, it’s been four days since I last posted anything up because I’ve simply run out of interesting photos. I’ve used up all of my Japan-era images over the last year and a half. And the current Korea era-stuff is slow in coming because, like an idiot, I’m still using film. I suppose I could post up images like this…

Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Nyuck! Nyuck!

Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Nyuck! Nyuck!

… but since I’ve been too lazy to edit out the old URLs on these images I’ve always been afraid someone would be insane enough to plug it in to their navigation bar. I work under the assumption that every old URL I had in the past is now being squatted by some Russian virus-makers and your computer will explode the second you load it up. Also, kind of a touristy shot, isn’t it?

So, today I cut in front of some foreign lady at the Starbucks. Don’t judge me! Gunsan Coffee makes a far superior cup of joe, but Starbucks usually has a tasty sandwich to go with it and I was hungry. Getting back to the cutting in: I didn’t clue in to my behaviour until some ajushi literally pushed her aside to ask for a pen from the clerk. “Hey! What a self-centered asshole cutting in like and I certainly wouldn’t do tha… OMG!”

For those of you old enough to lose count of the grey hairs, “OMG” is young person talk for, “I’m an idiot.”

I tried to make up for it by making sure she was ahead of me in line to pick up the coffees, but she just smiled at me and gave me the “Ehn. Nah biggie.” wave. Between this and a number of other things, it’s become obvious to me that all of the bad behaviours that I didn’t want to pick up again (which is why I made the point to avoid hanging out with both Koreans and the expats here) I picked up anyway.


Pictured: Better human beings than you and me, Joe Q. Expat.

Pictured: Better human beings than you and me, Joe Q. Expat.

I suppose though, that we all pick up the habits of the people around us even if we don’t intend to. Humans are a pack animal after all. Doing things like bowing or elbowing your way to a seat on the subway when you clearly didn’t grow up doing these things are just the human equivalent of sniffing each other’s assholes and submissive urination. This stuff slips into your collection of habits without you even realizing it. If everyone around you is acting in a certain way, that means there’s no one to tap you on the shoulder and say, “Yo, yo. You need to check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

Unless you’re hanging out with Ice Cube. He’ll straighten you out. With a rap. He’ll probably say something cringingly homophobic while he does it, but the beats will be killer.

Anyway, I’m going try and be more mindful of this sort of thing on my part. You should try to do the same.

No. Shut up. You should.

Suyu Sixteen Nine

Suyu Sixteen Nine

This is one of those pesky shots where you see four or five different aspects of the scene that you want to highlight, but you can’t do it without cutting out another conflicting aspect. I wanted to get the dour woman in the shot in order to give the shot some human relatability. However, I also wanted to get the crowded wall of signs on that corner. The signs looked better in black and white, but the woman disappeared. The crossing added a nice direction to the woman’s motion, but then highlighting those loses the sign wall. I did try a portrait crop to get both in but then the woman’s forward momentum was cut off. Having everything I liked in left me with a very busy image. Beh.

This is the start of the “Can maybe tease a decent image out of the scan.” group of shots from the last collection of rolls. I have a roll making its way through a Holga 135. After that I’m probably going to stick with using the Pentax K-50 and my film work will be with the Yashica. As my good pal Greg has noted, film is getting too expensive and harder to find every day. And with developers falling one by one to the juggernaut that is the FaceBook post it’s becoming even more of an effort to use.

Unlike a lot of film-users, I don’t see it as a status symbol that evil DSLR users are threatening to take away from me. I use it because it gets me the soft-edged/ grainy look I like. I don’t mind digital at all, and perhaps in ten years filters will become good enough to look to part perfectly so it won’t matter if I can get film or not. Some apps do do a good job at it (I was fond of FilmLab because it did get a few of them right.), but for the most part they look every bit the overlay they are.

I just wish DSLRs didn’t put people on guard so easily. Walking around Seoul with the Yaschica got me a lot of smiles and appreciative looks. My theory on this is that people see you using film and think, “No need to fear this guy. He’s using film. He’s obviously an imbecile and thus quite harmless!” Even my white Pentax… Which from here on in shall be called Pentax The White… with the flat 40mm lens sends people racing for the hills. I hardly look like a paparazzo with it.

Such is life.