Friday, 29 July 2016

Toilet Humor. Literally.

Inside the subway trains in Seoul, there are seats reserved for the disabled, senior citizens, pregnant women, and moms with babies. 

And sometimes, the English translations for these seats are translated literally. I'm not really sure if it's Google translate, or someone didn't finish his English 101 syllabus.

But of all the English translations I read on Seoul subways and subway stations, this was the funniest. 

Sinyonsan Station, which happened to be in my neighborhood, closed its toilets a couple of months ago for renovation. So, when I was in the area recently, I just had to see the upgrade. 

Well, they look brighter and cleaner, but what caught my attention were these translations: 

I tried not to laugh as I walked out of the newly renovated restrooms, even as the cleaning ajumma looked at me weird as to why I was taking a photos of the new shiny signages. 

But we could no longer subdue our loud laughter as I shared the toilet joke with my friend Gail, whom I was meeting at the station.

So, to the vulnerable men and women passing through the Sinyongsan Station, you have newly renovated toilets just for you. Ha-ha-ha!

P.S. I showed the signage to my Korean friends, and even they were perplexed with the Korean version. I guess this is the station manager's version of toilet humor. :-)

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Reading The Amityville Horror And Other Scary Books

I read The Amityville Horror years before the 2005 film version came out. And when they screened it in the neighborhood CGV cinemas, I was excited to watch it. Unfortunately, my excitement turned into disappointment when, from my CGV seat, the horror film looked like comedy-slash-TV drama because, one, I knew Ryan Reynolds, the murderous dad in the film, as a comedian, and, two, the movie lacked the horror punch that would convince your wits to get scared!

Well, let's just go back to the book.

I remember reading The Amityville Horror when I was still in school. At night, I was only able to read more pages after studying my text books and doing my homework. It gave me a lot of satisfaction as, when I read a horror book, I read at night, just before going to bed until lights-out. The dark words and the world of scary thoughts and creatures of a horror book could only be brought to life in one's imagination when one was surrounded by darkness and silence. 

Turn off the TV, turn off the computer and stay away from your smartphone if you're reading a horror book. They are the like the advertisements that interrupt a show when you're watching TV.

Even during high school, when I visited that small bookstore in our city, I would always be drawn to the horror section. The Howling, a few of Stephen King's books and a few more titles I couldn't recall kept me company during the short rides to and from school, and even longer after homework and dinner.

And over the years after that, it seemed the when I watched horror movies, I didn't get scared anymore. Suddenly, I could tell when a ghost would appear on the screen, or from which corner a ghoul would await his victim. Perhaps I could direct a horror film of my own! Ha-ha-ha!

That's why when I saw The Others, the horror film starring Nicole Kidman, I was fascinated! The film didn't rely on suspenseful music and scary creatures, it simply revolved on a scary story! And great acting! The Others must be my favorite horror film of all time! It's not your typical horror film; that's why it's especially scary! I remember I recommended it to an aunt (Tita Helen). I told her it was a very good film; I didn't tell her it was a horror movie. Ha-ha-ha!

She thought the movie was about marital woes of couples. Ha-ha-ha! Sort of 'the other...woman', perhaps.

She brought along her husband, Tito Nemie, to watch it, and she must have been a little mad at me because, in the middle of the movie, she called me from her cellphone and asked me why I didn't warn her it was a horror movie! That day, she was watching it at a cinema in Bacolod City, and I was at work in Manila! Ha-ha-ha!  As we were talking, she told me that Tito Nemie was jumping from his seat every time a scary scene flashed on the screen. Of course, I was laughing at the other end of the conversation, while the poor, scared couple was trapped inside the movie house. Ha-ha-ha!

If you're reading a horror book these nights, I wonder if you're able to sleep after. Or perhaps, does the book bring you nightmares, just like scary movies?

I sort of 'graduated' from horror books and horror movies. The last movie that I could really describe as 'scary' was The Conjuring of 2013. And with the number of other scary movies like Insidious and Paranormal Activity, it seems that we're all being immunized from scare. Even the latest one, The Conjuring 2, seemed like a slapstick, complete with a ghost nun from Sister Act. For me, these horror movies aren't horror movies until they actually scare me. Ha-ha-ha!  I think The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins was a good scary movie. 

So, what horror movie or horror book you actually found scary lately?

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Pajama Party!

If it's your first time in Korea, don't be surprised if you see a person walking on the street while wearing what looks like hospital pajamas and pulling along an IV-drip stand. No, he or she isn't an escaped patient from an insane asylum. That just means there's a hospital nearby.

Yes, hospital patients in Korea are free to move around the neighborhood as long as they're not spreading any contagion and are ambulant enough after a surgery.
In my Hannam-dong neighborhood in the Yongsan District, there's a big hospital where I rushed to after I accidentally (and stupidly!) sliced open a part of my right hand. And almost every time I pass by the hospital, there will always be a patient in hospital pajamas navigating the sidewalk. The patients are usually just standing on a corner smoking, or on their way to a coffee shop, a restaurant, or a convenience store. 

Although they are hospitalized, I sometimes doubt if they are really sick. A few years back, I read in the news that some are just insurance scammers. They check themselves into a hospital, pretending to be sick so they can claim insurance compensation.

So, the next time you see a pajama party in the streets of Seoul, just remember they're having a break from their doctors in a medical center nearby. Although you won't be able to tell what they're in for, don't forget to tell them to get well soon!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

A Pinoy At The Movies: Samantha Morton, My 'Secret' Favorite Actress

                   (Samantha Morton in Elizabeth, 
                              the Golden Age)

I was flipping channels today and ended up at the Sundance Channel. While I didn't have any other option because, one, the news channels are reporting on a tragic terrorist bombing that just happened in an international airport, which is sad, and, two, the other TV channels are showing unrealistic Korean dramas full of mother-in-laws from hell and a bunch of Korean actresses competing against each other as to who has the most plastic surgeries.

So, I just stayed with Sundance Channel, and luckily, it was featuring an interview with the award-winning actress Samantha Morton.

Everyone has his or her favorite actor and actress. It's usually a famous Hollywood like Meryl Street, Angelina Jolie, or Cate Blanchett. But for some movie fans, they also have a secret favorite. And I think mine is Samantha Morton! And it's no secret anymore. Ha-ha-ha!

If you saw Minority Report, that Tom Cruise sci-fi movie about Precogs who were able to foresee a crime before it happens, Samantha was the Precog Tom Cruise dragged all over the city.  

But in Elizabeth, the Golden Age, she almost stole the show from Cate Blanchett. In this movie, Samantha was Mary, Queen of Scots, while Cate Blanchett was Queen Elizabeth I.  It would have been a cinematic gem that would have rivaled the Cullinan or the Koh-i-Noor diamonds in its brilliance if the two had a scene together.  Sadly, history has no account of the two being in a catfight, and Mary eventually lost the fight and with it, her head.

But Samantha Morton's scene where she, as Mary, Queen of Scots, was being arrested for treason, was memorable and impressive, with or without a crown on her head.  As the whole movie itself was brilliant, these fiery scenes made us all enjoy it even more. By the way, the diplomat in that scene, who told her she was being arrested, was played by Tom Hollander, the captain of the ship Endeavor, which the Flying Dutchman and the Black Pearl blew out of the sea in Pirates of the Caribbean.

So, there. The Sundance Channel just made me admit my 'secret' favorite actress. 

Who's yours?

Piss Me, er, Kiss Me In The Rain...

On some days, these drizzles in Seoul seemed like a shy patch of monsoon rain. In the Philippines, where I grew up, drizzles are hardly taken seriously. It's like somebody up there in the skies just decided to take a pee. And what came down was just a sprinkle of, well, something liquid. Ha-ha-ha!

But today's rain in Seoul is more than a drizzle. It's the real thing! A heavy, continuous downpour, much like the ones I used to enjoy when I was a kid! I remember, during monsoon seasons, my playmates and I would run around the neighborhood and play in the rain. Of course, I always would ask permission from my grandmother, or from my nanny, who both looked after me when my parents were not home. And most of the time, they said 'yes'! 
In my Hannam-dong neighborhood, I sometimes see kids running around during a heavy weekend rain. It's good to see them away from their computers and from their English schools. In Korea, kids spend most of their time studying, and they hardly enjoy their time being kids.  
And hopefully this weekend, the rain will continue to drench the city, which will be a fun idea for the kids to run out from their apartment buildings and enjoy their childhood.

In the meantime, perhaps an old Barbra Streisand song will ring in our heads again:

"Kiss me in the rain...make me feel like a child again...Bring back all those memories.

Kiss me in the rain...and make me feel like a child again...With the feeling that I get, I don't even mind if we get wet."