The blog has been ill-attended these last few weeks, with the move to India. Several grand projects are already underway here, but we’ll have to keep those hush-hush for the time being. But in the meantime, we did manage to escape the craziness of the city for Bangalore’s First EVER Comic Con this weekend!
It was tiny — the space was the size of a high school basketball court — but it was slammed with fans. And a few of them even thought to dress up.
“You ever feel like you’re stuck in a wind-up music box?” Michelle asked. The walls were pink. The waitresses were dressed as dolls. Piano keys tinkled softly. There were balloons and glitter and an off-season Christmas tree. We were trapped in a music box.
That’s how Hello Kitty wants you to feel.
Welcome to Hello Kitty Dreams.
Chefs wear toques under Kitty-dressed walls…
Surfaces are pink or padded or bedazzled or glow…
And little girls pose dutifully over and over again.
The frilly Antoinette cuteness only gets cuter from there. His ‘n Hers Kitty-cupped cappuccinos, flecked with powdered likenesses.
A greasy chicken curry watched over by a plonk of Kitty-rice. Eyes of bean, nose of corn, bow of strawberry jam. (What culinary kawaii kitsch!!!)
And the strawberry mousse? Completely Kitty!
“Where do I start,” worried Michelle. “The ear? The bow tie?” She plunged into the cheek, a triple-stroke of chocolate whisker. Soft sponge deliciousness! And those plates? To die for!
The wonderful Sienna wrote in City Weekend, “They could serve poop, and we’d still love it… Unfortunately, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.” I was sad to read this. But on returning to Beijing, I was thrilled to find their act was perfected. This meal was glorious. Sure, no Maison Boulud… but what do you expect from a Japanese cutesy cat in a Chinese shopping mall?
Bangkok is awesome. Pad thai, ping pong balls, reclining buddhas. But nowhere is sweeter than this hidden corridor of Central World Mall, where crowds of high school kids practice their sweet dance moves every weekend. Each gang brings their own routines and own MP3 players. Any reflective surface–shop windows, aluminum panelling, fire extinguisher cabinetry–stands in for a mirror. And the moves? OMG. It’s pure coordinated secret wonderfulness. Justin Bieber, eat your heart out.
You’ve seen those sexy collectable figurines around Asia, right? You know the ones… in Singapore malls, Beijing shopping centers, all over Japan? Nervous kids and creepy adults browsing the aisles… subtly saucy…
I love obsessions, and Myong-Hee Bae is obsessed. She’s a freak for owls.
Her home is crammed full of 3,000 owl-y items. Clocks, quilts, paintings, stamps, cut-outs hanging from the ceiling, mugs filled with steaming hot tea, candles, toys, and rugs. It was weird. And absolutely wonderful.
“Her love of owl started when she was in 2nd grade,” a clumsy document she printed out, then handed to me, read. “She was very much attracted by the big eyes of the wooden own sculpture and became owl mania.”
She spoke no English besides “tea?”, and we spoke no Korean at all, so this document was all the info we had to go on. She wouldn’t let us take a photo of her.
But everywhere she went, she sought out owls. Everyone who visited her brought an owl. Before long, the bizarre collection included owls from across the globe.
She reminded me a little of Paul MacLeod. He was obsessed with Elvis. He shared this obsession with his son, Elvis Aaron Presley MacLeod. Paul told me, years ago, that his wife left him because he was too obsessed with the King. She set down the gauntlet, and said, “It’s him or me, Paul.” Paul made his choice, and she moved out.
Myong-Hee Bae’s husband didn’t fight it. He brought her even more. And when they married, this bird of prey collection was considered the family jewel. Now that’s romance.
Shoved in a back alley of Seoul’s hip Hongdae neighborhood, sandwiched somewhere between “Luxury Ho” Bar and the “F**kFake” Designer Boutique for Men (asterisks not included in actual name), Hello Kitty lives on. Or her cappuccinos do, at least.
Wandering the streets of Seoul’s hipster haven, Hongdae, you’ll find a treasure trove of awesomeness. But one of the first things to strike you on emerging from the Sangsu subway is this Super-collection of feisty videogame plumbers. They’re all here: Mario, Luigi, power-ups and bosses, too, painted on every telephone pole for blocks. If you run fast enough, humming the theme and blinking your eyes madly, you’ll look like a fool. But it’s still pretty fun.
I was a little confused about the Tokyo airport when I flew through there a few weeks ago. It seemed so… rundown. Ceiling tiles missing, chairs blocking entrances, stores closed. And then I saw this sign. Uh-oh. What had I missed during my media blockout?
Turns out the third reactor was about to go, so I did what any slightly-nervous very-jetlagged consumer might do. I bought Kit Kats. Lots of them.
You probably already know that Kit Kats are the lucky treat in Japan. The local name for them, kitto katto, sounds an awful lot like the pre-exam expression of goodwill, “kitto katsu,” which means “win without fail.” (Sweep the leg, Johnny!) So they’ve got a lot of them. Before every exam, everyone gives out kit kats. Woo tells me there are 80 200 different flavors.
Sorry for the silence. China got wise to the VPN, and issues had to be resolved. But we’re back. Hopefully for a while, at least.
While we pop the bottles of silkworm baijiu and seahorse bourbon, here’s a photo from last night’s dinner at Beijing’s newest maid cafe. (Sure, Japan had sexy 19th century French maids a decade ago, but in China? Well, they’re still an untapped welcome trend.)
Siam Paragon Shopping Mall’s elaborate (and incredible) Blythe exhibit offered up some leading costume designs for the creepy oh-so-slightly-pedophilic 1972 Kenner doll, which has captured the hearts and sewing skills of, well, at least a few dozen fans. From Wikipedia, “There is a network of hobbyists who customize the doll for resale and create clothing and shoes for Blythe. Enthusiasts share photographs of their work and their dolls on the Internet.” Well, this was the Epcot Center of it all. Continue reading “Bangkok Loves Blythe”