Quin's Progress


Some Stuff–Korea Edition

krlargeWrapping up almost two months in the “Land of the Morning Calm,” I thought I would start a tradition of saying goodbye to the lands I visit on my wanderings by jotting down some stuff that I saw/did/ate/learned during my time there that I will always remember.  So, in this, my 50th post on this site, I bid adieu to South Korea with the inaugural edition of “Some Stuff.”

Some Interesting Beauty Stuff

oliveThere have to be more beauty product stores in Korea than there are people.  Olive Young, Nature Republic, Skin Food, Etude House…I could go on for pages, there are so many.  They are often right next to each other, too, sandwiched between the endless sock and cell phone cover vendors.  I love potions and lotions and beauty gadgets almost as much as corndogs, and finding exotic ones always makes me smile, so I spent more than my fair share of time perusing these shops’ wares.  Let me just say, they put some fun stuff on their faces in Korea.

I saw a lot of these eyelid tapes and glues in various shops.  I was wondering whose eyelids were flapping around in the wind so badly that they would need to be glued or taped down.  But, it’s actually used to create an extra fold in the eyelid when the eye is open, to change the shape of the eye.  This made me a little sad.

Next time I go to Korea, I’m taking a suitcase full of Herbal Essences and Burt’s Bees products to sell on the street to finance my trip.  A regular sized bottle of that bargain basement shampoo that costs just a few bucks in the States will run you 13,900 Won, or about $14 USD, in Korea; a tiny tin of Burt’s Bees lip balm or cuticle cream is even worse:  about 20,000 Won, or roughly $20 USD.  I wonder if they know Burt’s Bees is owned by Clorox?

flush buttonThis doesn’t really fit into the “beauty products” category, but it is under the umbrella of feminine modesty and demureness, so I’ll just stick it here.  In some public restrooms, they have these little boxes on the wall with a speaker and a recording of a toilet flushing, that you can play while you tinkle so you can delude yourself that no one can hear what you’re doing.  Staves off the bashful bladder syndrome, I guess.  Saves water, too, by keeping women from constantly flushing the toilet while they’re trying to go.  This is not just in fancy public powder rooms, either.  I took this photo in the KTX train station in Seoul.  They also have panic buttons in there that you can press to summon help if you’re in trouble, like, if you’ve run in there to hide from someone trying to attack you.  Pretty nifty.

Some Stuff I Ate and Will Now Forever Crave

Galbi grill and a kajillion banchan.

Galbi grill and a kajillion banchan.

Oh, gentle friends, I could devote several pages to waxing poetic about Korea’s food.  I now have a number of new temptations to resist.  The barbecue, obviously, is out of this world.  Whether galbi (short rib), or samgyeopsal (pork belly), or what-have-you, the tabletop grill and scores of “banchan” (side dishes) make for a blow-your-mind meal.

Pork of "8 Kind Tastes"

Pork of “8 Kind Tastes”

I was just lucky to have friends to go with, as the tables are those giant, communal deals, and you never see anyone sitting there solo.



My friend Jung Eun told me on my first day in Seoul that, unless you have eaten Tteokbokki (also known as topokki), you can’t say you’ve been to Korea.  So, she took me to her favorite shop and we ate a pile of it.  I was skeptical at first.  The dish is described as “rice cakes and fish cakes in spicy sauce,” and that just didn’t ring any bells for me.  But, I’m a good sport, so I tucked in…and I loved it.  It’s sort of like chewy pasta in red enchilada sauce.  You see it a lot at street stands.  It’s cheap, delicious snack food.

Half jjajangmyun, half spicy seafood soup

Half jjajangmyun, half spicy seafood soup

There was a Korean soap opera I watched that was basically a Korean re-write of the movie “Overboard” with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.  But, since it was 16 one-hour episodes, obviously they had to expand the story.  Anyway, one of the little bits of the Korean version of the story that was cute was how the rich, amnesiac lady–who had been such a snob before hitting her head and forgetting who she was–wouldn’t eat anything except this cheap noodle dish called “jjajangmyun,” or noodles with “brown sauce.”  Well, apparently, jjajangmyun is to Koreans what mac n’ cheese is to Americans.  And it rocks, hard.  Comfort food in the extreme.  Salty, slightly sweet, savory…so perfect on a rainy afternoon.  It is also one of the few things I could order coherently when I was alone in a restaurant, so I ate a lot of it.  mcdonaldsAt Jung Eun’s house, we had it delivered in these little divided bowls–half jjajangmyun and half spicy seafood soup, the perfect combination–and after we were done, the delivery guy came back and took the dirty dishes away!  I love that.  (You can get anything delivered in Korea; even KFC and McDonald’s deliver.  Not that it did me any good; I couldn’t order anything over the phone because I don’t speak Korean.)

I don't know what these little pancakey things are called, so I'll just call them Heaven Puffs.

I don’t know what these little pancakey things are called, so I’ll just call them Heaven Puffs.

In every market, some vendor will have a stand selling these nutty little pancake thingies, serving them folded in half in a paper cup.  Just to look at them, they reminded me a bit of the round puffs in face powder compacts.  They’re about the size of the palm of your hand (well, my hand), they have a chewy texture, and are filled with brown sugar, sesame powder, peanuts, and any number of yummy spices that melt into the dough as it fries on the grill.  Er-mah-gerd, people, these things are addictive.


Patbingsu at Eskimo Hawaii

And then there’s Bingsu.  If “shaved ice with toppings” gives you visions of snow cones drizzled with syrups of colors that do not occur in nature, think again.  Bingsu is a whole different ball of wax…or, rather, bowl of ice.  Lots of places serve green tea flavored bingsu in a big, quart-sized Pyrex mixing cup, loaded with fresh fruits, mochi nuggets, and of course, the ever-present red beans (which makes it “Patbingsu”).  eskimoThat’s good, and much lighter than ice cream.  But the bingsu that will now forever come to my mind when I get an ice cream headache is from a place called Eskimo Hawaii.  Their “shaved ice” is made of milk that’s been hyper-frozen until it’s bone dry, and put through a shredder that makes it like sawdust.  So strange.  Then they top it with candied pumpkin, sweet rice cakes, and yes, red beans.  The milk flakes melt on your tongue and mix with the sweet toppings…it’s like milk and cookies all in one bite.

Some Stuff on a Stick

I love food on a stick.  Put anything on a stick, and it’s just better.  I think they should figure out a way to put spaghetti on a stick, I really do.  Korea agrees with me.  In every market and street food stall, there is no lack of stuff on a stick.



With all the pseudo-corndog teasing that I was subjected to, however, there was one cruel joke.  Long before coming to Korea, I had read about a mythical french fry-encrusted hot dog on a stick that was to be had in street food stalls Seoul.  Finding this unicorndog was on the top of my list of things to do while in Korea, understandably.  Accordingly, one day, I put on my walking shoes and set off to the big market in Namdaemun, vowing not to rest until I found it.  And find it I did.  And you know…it was just okay.  It needed salt, and it wasn’t as crispy as it either looks or should be.  Not at all worth a special trip.  Phooey.

Some Stuff I Ate and Was Surprised I Liked

fish intestinesWhen in Rome, as they say, do as the Romans do.  So, when in Korea, eat as the Koreans eat.  Some of that stuff can be pretty intimidating, though.  But, you know, if you just open your mind, and dispense with the preconceived notions, you just might slip one past your Western palate, and discover that you like fish eyeballs.  Yes, I ate fish eyeballs, and did not die.  They’re kind of like little savory raisins.  I won’t be getting into any slap fights to get my share of fish eyeballs anytime soon, but I can honestly say I didn’t hate it.  Also surprisingly good, the aforementioned sausages encased in fish paste on a stick.  It won’t be replacing the corndog in my heart, but they weren’t bad.  Fish intestine soup was pretty strange looking, but went down easy.

Those are not chicken breast tenders, they are fish egg sacks.

Those are not chicken breast tenders, they are fish egg sacks.

But the biggest surprise was pollack roe on rice for breakfast.  Had anyone told me a few months ago that I’d be happily nibbling on fish eggs and seaweed soup for breakfast, I’d have had them drug tested.  But, it’s true.  They marinate the egg sacks, and the roe takes on a smoky, very non-fishy flavor that, on rice, is about as close as Koreans get to lox and bagels.  I know you don’t believe me, but it’s the truth.

Some Stuff I Refused To Eat

Penis fish in the Busan fish market.

Penis fish in the Busan fish market.

I am a pretty good sport when it comes to most things, especially food, but even I have to put my foot down sometimes.  One of the things I just couldn’t bring myself to put in my mouth, was the penis fish.

Penis fish on a plate.

Penis fish on a plate.

Some try to make it better by calling it by its alternative name, the spoon worm.  Not helping.  In Busan, this creature is served live, sliced and still squirming.  Sorry…couldn’t do it.

silk worms

Boiled silk worm pupae (beondegi).

When I was in Mexico City earlier this year, I ate crickets (chapulines) and ant larvae (escamoles), and I won’t say I liked them, but I got them down without having to leave the table or spit them out in a napkin.  They eat roasted crickets in Korea, too, but I felt like I’d done my cricket duty in Mexico, so I politely declined.

Looks like I'm not the only one who had that reaction.

Looks like I’m not the only one who had that reaction.

But, when confronted with the Korean beondegi–boiled silk worm pupae–I almost threw up a little in my mouth.  This dish is common, too; you see it all over at street stalls.  The sight of it is bad enough, but the smell…oh god, the smell.  Imagine you’ve gone off and forgotten a load of laundry in the washer for a week during the hottest week of summer.  So very gross.

Umm...no thanks.

Umm…no thanks.

I know tomatoes are technically fruits, but before visiting Korea, I hadn’t seen them actually prepared like fruits.  Except, once, the Korean deli near my office in Oakland put cherry tomatoes in their fruit salad.  But, now I understand why.  Koreans treat tomatoes like the fruit that they are, making sorbet and sugary desserts and smoothies out of  them.  It just didn’t do it for me, though.


I don’t see any bandages over his gizzard….

Finally, there was dakdongjib.  Literally translated as “chicken shit house” in Korean, dakdongjib is part of the alimentary canal of a chicken, close to the exit.  There is some dispute about whether what is served is actually the anal sphincter, or rather, the gizzard.  I don’t know the answer to that, but the restaurant in Busan that serves it has this illustration as its logo, so you do the math.

Some Stuff I’m Glad I Got Off My Ass To Do

Woljeongsa Temple in Gangwon.

Woljeongsa Temple in Gangwon.

Anyone who has traveled in Asia knows what it is to get temple fatigue.  After a while, one temple starts to look like every other temple, and they all require you to hike up bloody steep hills to get to them, and then prohibit you from taking any pictures.  By the time I was in Busan, toward the end of my time in Korea, I not only had a bad case of temple fatigue, but my Achilles tendons were inflamed, and I was in no mood to hike up any more mountains to then climb up another dizzying staircase just to see another statue of the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion who, I’m sorry, if she was really the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, she’d have met me at the bottom of the damned hill.


Haedong Yonggungsa

So, it is all the more remarkable that I was even open to taking the bus 40 minutes north of Busan to see Haedong Yonggungsa.  But, I’m so glad I did.  For one, it’s the only temple in Korea that isn’t on top of a mountain; it’s perched on a bluff above the ocean.  The story goes that some ancient Buddhist monk had a dream about a sea god, in which he was instructed to build this temple by the sea.

108 steps.

108 steps.

But, that didn’t spare me climbing stairs, oh no.  There are 108 steps from the gate down to the bridge across the rocks to the temple.  The number 108 is a sacred figure in several eastern religions, including Buddhism, which holds that there are 108 human feelings, and 108 “agonies,” the latter of which inspired these steps, I can testify.

yonggungsa2But the effort was worth it; Yonggungsa is an ethereal place that invokes anything but a somber mood in its visitors.  It’s joyful and bright and leaves you feeling clean and light, even if you are not a particularly spiritual person.

Traffic Safety Pagoda

Traffic Safety Pagoda

There’s even a special pagoda for “Prayers for Traffic Safety,” marked with a truck tire.  Very practical, I think.  And since I was planning to rent a car the following week in Jeju Island, I threw a few Won into the box, lit a stick of incense, and said a silent prayer, just in case.  There are other well-worn prayer spots, too, such as a granite Buddha statue whose belly you can rub to ensure that your baby will be a boy–that one was rubbed smooth and shiny–as well as heavily attended shrine where folks can pray for “Excellence in Academics.”  But, not by me, I’m done with all that, thank goodness.

Some Stuff I Was Too Lazy To Get Off My Ass To Do

"Come have a slumber party with me!"

“Come have a slumber party with me!”

Read any information on how to make your trip to Korea authentic and wonderful, and you’ll run across information on doing a “temple stay.”  I read this stuff, too, and thought seriously about checking it out.  Temple stay is where you check in to a Buddhist temple for a few days or weeks, live with the monks, meditate, eat with them, etc.  It sounded like the type of experience that might be interesting, if not fun.  monk signSo, I investigated it at a number of temples, such as Woljeongsa in Gangwon.  It’s affordable, and I know I could do the required work, and the meditation. I could even deal with the all-plant diet and the doing your own dishes and the scratchy clothes.  But, then I found out you have to get up at 3:30 a.m. every day, and I said “Oh, I’m out.”  If anyone hears of a swing-shift temple stay program, let me know.

Some Stuff I Bought

I just wish they had printed it the other way around, so it would look like he is looking up at me when I have the socks on.

I just wish they had printed it the other way around, so it would look like he is looking up at me when I have the socks on.

I don’t do a lot of shopping when I travel, especially on this trip, where I would have to lug anything I got around indefinitely, unless I shipped it home.  But, I have picked up a couple of fun things.  My favorite Korean soap opera heart throb is Song Seung-Heon.  He’s stars in at least seven of the K-Dramas that I’ve seen–some of which I watched simply because he’s featured–and I think he’s just so pretty.  So, when I saw these goofy socks with his face on them, that say “I Love You,” well, I just had to have them.  Turns out, they’ve been useful, as I packed too few socks, thinking I would be wearing sandals more than I have been.

I love you even if you are doing weird.

I miss you even if you are doing weird.  I really do.

The other useful thing I bought is this cute utensil set with a spoon and pair of chopsticks in a pink carrying case.  I got it so I could eat yogurt or noodles or such in my hotel room, so I wouldn’t have to go out to eat all the time.  The case says “Lovely Friend” above the little bear with his cap on backwards, and below, it says:

“Naughty Bear

I’m really missing you, even if you are doing weird.  You understand me and take care of me.  So I thank you.  I wonder what you are doing now.  I think you every moments.  Perhaps, I like you.  I am your valuable friend.”

Even if I hadn’t have been in need of a portable utensil set, I think I would have to have bought it just for that inscription.

Some Stuff I Learned

My Kimchi Baby

My Kimchi Baby

One thing I was determined to learn when I went to Korea was how to make kimchi.  And I did.  I learned to make a number of classic Korean dishes, in fact.  I took some one-on-one cooking classes at Food & Culture Korea, with the beautiful and talented Jae Jeong.  I told her I wanted to learn techniques more than recipes, so I could really understand how the food is prepared.  If you know the technique, you can cook without a recipe.

All prepared with my own two little hands.

All prepared with my own two little hands.

She gave me exactly what I asked for, and now, I am equipped to cook you all an authentic Korean meal when I get home.  My dumplings may be ugly little piglets, as I lack Jae’s dumpling folding skill, but they will taste good.  I didn’t get to try the kimchi we made, though, because it had to ferment for a few weeks before it was ready.  But, my little ball of kimchi fermented away in my friend Jung Eun’s kimchi fridge, and when it was done fizzing itself to readiness, she informed me that it was, in fact, edible.  I am so proud.

The Billboard

The Billboard

Before I left San Francisco, I was driving back into the City over the Bay Bridge one day, and I noticed a big billboard right off the 80, just past the Fremont Street exit, seemingly advertising a vacation destination called “Dokdo Island.”  It had a beautiful picture of a rocky, exotic seaside and a lovely Korean woman, and a caption that read “Visit Beautiful Island! Dokdo, Korea!”  I had never heard of it, but knew I was headed to Korea, so I filed it away in my mental notebook of things to look into when I got there.  Well, I didn’t get to visit Dokdo, it was too out of the way, but I did learn something about it.  dokdoDokdo is the center of a brewing new dispute between Korea and Japan.  Dokdo is out in the East Sea between Korea and Japan, and apparently, despite centuries of settlement by Korean people, Japan has recently taken the position that Dokdo belongs to Japan.  This has Korean wigs in a major twist.  They are, after all, a tad sensitive when it comes to having their land claimed by Japan.  to NYTSo, there is a rather urgent PR campaign going on to make sure the world knows very well that Dokdo belongs to Korea, not Japan, and that the sea in which it lies is not the “Sea of Japan” but the “East Sea.”  That’s what that billboard was all about–planting in the minds of anyone who drove past the name of the island, and it’s association with Korea…just in case.

There is more…so much more.  My memory is full of vivid colors, wonderful people, funny signs, idyllic towns and oh so many teeny tiny towels.  Maybe next time, I’ll get to the bottom of why all the towels are so very, very tiny.  Or, I’ll just bring my own towel.  Either way, I am pretty sure I will be coming back.

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Bless My Seoul

seoulSouth Korea, baby!  I am here!  Well, I’ve been here almost three weeks already, and I’m just now finding time to sit down and write.

Seocho-gu, where I am staying

Seocho-gu, where I am staying.  The leaves are just starting to turn color.

I must say, my adventure has not had the easiest of beginnings.  Immediately after I got here, I threw my back out in a fairly major way.  Probably a combination of accumulated stress from getting ready to leave, carrying luggage while traveling, being crammed into various planes, trains and automobiles, and sleeping on air mattresses.  Whatever it was, “Joan”—the nickname I gave a long time ago to that area of my lower back that levels me every once in a while—made an appearance and hobbled me, but good.  Then, I woke up the third day I was here with a rabid case of that which attacks those of us with lady parts when our body pH gets thrown out of whack.  Lovely.  And, because of my bad back, I couldn’t even bend properly to apply the medicine I was eventually able to get by doing the most embarrassing mime show ever to a group of blinking, non-comprehending, non-English speaking, male pharmacists.  (Or maybe they did understand, and they were just too amused by the graphic charades performance to let on?)  Then, a couple days later, I fell on my ass running down a hill after my hostess’ kids, and sprained my wrist.  And finally (dear God, I hope it’s finally!), one of my toenails spontaneously fell off last week, presumably from all the walking I’ve been doing, but who knows?  Maybe it’s stray radiation floating over from Japan.  So, yeah, Seoul kinda gave me a one-two-three punch, right off the bat.  But, I survived it, in part, because I was lucky enough to land in the lap of luxury.  Not only does the place I’m staying have a Korean sauna (I guess, here, it’s just a sauna) IN THE BUILDING, but the home of my wonderful hostess, Jung Eun, is gloriously beautiful and comfy, and has the bathtub of my dreams, in which I soaked for at least an hour almost every night.  Ahhh…all is right with the world again after a good soak in the bathtub, no?

Kimchi Fridge

Kimchi Fridge

Another thing this household has, which apparently is commonplace here in Korea, is a dedicated kimchi refrigerator, out on the terrace, so the smell doesn’t bother anybody or pervade the other food.  This, I think, is brilliant.  Kimchi is, as everybody knows, an inextricable part of any Korean meal.  It’s on the table as a side dish—or “banchan”–and it’s often an ingredient in the main dish.  There are as many kinds of kimchi in Korea as there are types of potato salad in the west.  The classic is with Korean cabbage (like Napa cabbage) and chili paste, garlic, fish sauce, and other spices and aromatics.  But there is white, vinegary kimchi, radish kimchi, watery kimchi with pickled peppers, and so many others.  The word “kimchi” is a derivative of the original Chinese words for “salted, soaked vegetables,” so it doesn’t necessarily refer to just one thing.  And over the years, it has come to be a kind of umbrella word for a whole class of fermented vegetable condiments.  But they all have one thing in common:  they are fermented, i.e., the more delicious they are, the stinkier they are.  So, they get their own home outside.

Seoul and the Han River

Seoul and the Han River

Seoul is a dazzling city.  Much of it was built, or rebuilt, in the last 30 to 50 years, as the city was pretty much destroyed in the war in the early 1950s.  seoul streetSo, it’s very modern, especially the city districts south of the Han River, such as Gangnam, of “Gangnam Style” fame.  The historic part of the city lies north of the river, and includes all five of the royal palaces, the old Seoul prison, ancient city gates and remnants of the old city wall, and culture-rich neighborhoods like Insadong and Namdaemun.

independenceThe subway system is immense and fantastically easy to navigate, as evidenced by the fact that, on my first venture out in it, I was utterly and completely stoned out of my gourd on Mexican muscle relaxants due to my back spasm, and I still managed to get where I intended to go, without getting lost or arrested.  Now, that’s saying something.  Whether you’re lost or not, though, if you look like a non-threatening foreigner, like I clearly do, just appearing confused by the place will prompt any Korean grandma who speaks five words of English to come and grab you by the elbow and lead you, like it or not, where she thinks you need to go.

There's a revival of the "Mars Blackmon" look in Seoul right now.  I see this look everywhere.

The “Mars Blackmon Meets Sally Jessy Raphael” look  is big in Seoul right now. I see this look everywhere.

This has happened to me more than once, and I just decided to go with it.  Those Korean grannies are great in the subway; they will shoo the teenagers off the seats for you, and prattle away cheerfully at you in Korean, as though you know what they’re saying, the whole way to your destination (or the destination of their choosing for you).  My ample bosom seems to fascinate them, as they frequently gesticulate about it in ways that indicate they find it either most impressive or terrifying.  I can’t tell which.  Either way, I have decided to find this comical, and not get all self-conscious about it.  Although, the day after the first time it happened, I had a nightmare that I had forgotten to pack any bras, and woke up in a panic that I wasn’t going to be able to find any in my size here.

hulkporkyAmpleness, in general, seems to be a subject dealt with pretty bluntly here.  Koreans call a spade a spade when it comes to heft, and there doesn’t seem to be any sense that it’s a delicate subject.  If the Spanx fit, you gotta wear ‘em, right?

lipo2halflipo2For example, one day, I saw this advertisement on the video screens that are everywhere on the subway, in the trains and on the platforms.  It’s all in Korean, so I didn’t understand the words, but the video showed this computer-animated, corpulent alien baby sinking it’s tentacle-like appendages into the shapely extremities of a young Korean woman who was trying to jump rope.  I watched in horror as she tried in vain to wrench the globular creature off of her, only for it to hold on for dear life, its tethers stretching like taffy as she pulled.  lipo1lipo3Then, there’s a brief shot of her on the phone, and the next thing you see is the cutely horrible blob being dragged off, crying, by two faceless men to what looked like an asylum.  That’s when I realized…it was an ad for a liposuction clinic!

Look how sad he is!

Look how sad he is!

The ghastly alien baby was a representation of stubborn arm and thigh fat!  I double-checked this with my friends Yvette and Jung Eun, and they confirmed it, saying the ad was a mistake, because now you feel sorry for the fat, which is the opposite of what a liposuction clinic should be going for.  They’re right…I sort of did feel sorry for the anthropomorphized fat as it got hauled off.  He looks so sad….

Since we’re on the subject of excess, thanks to an introduction from a friend back home, I got to experience something I would never have gotten the chance to do in a hundred years otherwise: the room salon.  Room salons are a place where people—mostly men—go to drink and party in private, with professional party pals who drink with you, keep you company, and generally ensure that the atmosphere is lively and pleasant.  The establishment is like a hive of small, private, plushly appointed rooms, each with its own men’s restroom (ladies have to go out to the facilities in the hall, as most of the customers are men, so the rooms are appointed for men).  room salon 1Once you get situated, the manager brings in a lineup of about a dozen gorgeous, glamorous girls, and you pick the ones you want to hang out with, or, if you don’t like any of them, you ask for another lineup.  You can get a lineup of pretty boys, too, if you want male company. We got a couple of each.  It was all very Bunny Ranch, although, I felt so badly toward all the ones we didn’t pick, I wanted to run after them and apologize, and explain that it was nothing personal, and they were all very attractive.  That part was a bit awkward.  I asked discreetly if the girls and guys working there were, in fact, “working girls and guys,” but was told, not all of them.  Apparently, you can determine the ones who are by asking if they care to go for a “second round” after the party.  That’s the secret code word.

There's an electric guitarist to accompany you on karaoke!

There’s an electric guitarist to accompany you on karaoke!

Anyway, once the selection is made, the booze starts a-flowin’ and the platters of fruits and nuts and candies arrive, and every time you turn around one of the girls or guys is stuffing a grape in your mouth or topping off your drink with $500 a bottle whisky, and before you know it, you’re belting out off-key Kelly Clarkson tunes to a live electric guitar accompaniment while everyone dances around you like you were some kind of pagan fire goddess…or so I’m told.  I really don’t remember that clearly.  (By the way, thanks Yvette, for arranging that, I had the time of my life!  I think….)