Saturday, January 31, 2009

Music Makes Me High

Today I went to the Samsung Plaza (A gigantic "department store" but what appeared to me to be more of a mall) to scope a bookstore that allegedly sold western magazines.  Unfortunately, the store had a pretty sparse and over priced magazine section, but it was however rife with amazing stationary.  The crown jewel of the stationary department was the "Music Makes Me High" memo pads.

  When I purchased this treasure, I was under the impression that the memos  would be in sticky pad form.  Little did I know.  When I came home and opened the memo's with the fervor of a 5 year old on Christmas morning I found out I was wrong.  The memos were in fact small pieces of stationary most closely resembling a business card or some other form of stationary unknown to me.  The front (excuse me, "Side A") features an image of an old school black cassette that proudly states "Music Makes Me High."

  "Side B) features several ruled lines on the bottom and a blank space on the upper portion.

  Personally, I think the best use for these little wonders is going to be as my own less than personal business card.  For a while now I have been wanting to commission a small run of business cards that feature only my name.  I figured I could use them to give people I meet my contact info and I've always thought that the most minimal of business cards were always the best.  Of course I can't really justify the expense as I really don't seem to meet that many people, at least these days, and everyone just seems to put each other's contact info on their cell phone/digi devices anyhow.  Regardless, I still like the idea.  Back to the point.  It is unimportant whether or not I will actually have the opportunity to hand these bad mothers out, I will still dutifully carry them along with my trusty pen, always ready for the chance to open up my cassette case and hand out my own little slice of personalized Korean stationary.

For more from the creators of the "Music Makes Me High" memo pad, please visit

Friday, January 30, 2009

An Ode to the Trapper Keeper

Ah, how I miss the Trapper Keeper, Meads solution to all of your back to school needs: It was successfully able to organize all of your school supplies, express your individuality, and make you appear as if you were on the cutting edge of cool.  Those patented butterfly folders gave a much needed update to the Pee Chee folder's old school, plaino vertical compartments, you know, the same type of folder technology that your parents used.  They made sure your irreplaceable 4th period English Lit homework was safely trapped and kept, that shit was going nowhere.

But what made the Trapper Keeper most memorable was not it's utilitarian specifications, it was the artwork, the shear variety and yet equally amazing designs that adorned this cutting edge binder/folder (excuse me, portfolio) technology.  All of the hundreds of individual Trapper Keeper graphics seemed to fit into but a few broad categories.  Frankly, I couldn't possibly begin to categorize all these portfolio classifications, I'll leave that to some more qualified scholar.  I will however, list a few of my favs.  You had your futuristic geometric patterns, the ones with three dimensional shapes floating in a black abyss highlighted by new wave color patterns and lightning bolts.  These were always my personal favorites and I sought them out with every anticipated trip to the Wallgreens, K-Mart, or Longs Drugs.

Then you had the fantasy psych girl designs, best typified by the Lisa Frank collection.  Lisa Frank single handedly brought to life the collective dreams and fantasies of the average mall going, baby sitter club reading, Tiffany listening cadre of femme petites.  She had a whole roster of established characters which adorned her line. There was Rainbow Chaser (the brown horse with the purple hooves), the dapper Hollywood Bear (decked out in a top hat and tuxedo), Max Splash (The Killer Whale who always seemed to be leaping over a beautiful rainbow), Echo the dolphin (duh), Skye (the Pegasus flying high in the Lisa Frank sky), Angel Kitty ( The winged cat with rainbow stripes), and of course Markie (the rainbow clad flagship fantasy animal- unicorn).  While I scoffed at such girly shenanigans in my youth I have come to acquire an affinity for these far out color explosions of fantasy psychedelia.  It's not hard to see why untold legions female youths proudly waved the Lisa Frank banner.

There were so many amazing Trapper Keeper designs that meant so much to so many people.  It's hard not to take a trip through Trapper Keeper memories gone by without feeling a bit nostalgic, without wanting to recapture the excitement and pride of carrying a brand new TP down the halls of your middle school.  I have attempted to mimic this sensation by acquiring thrift store Trapper Keepers... and I have been somewhat successful.  I am the proud owner a beautiful forest scenario Trapper Keeper, one that I proudly utilized during my first professional meeting at my first professional job.  But still, the pride I felt at that first meeting was not the same as the youthful exuberance I experienced walking down those 1992 school hallways.  I suppose some things are impossible to recapture, but it doesn't mean that you shouldn't try.  I leave you with a few of  my favorite Trapper Keepers, ones that would make any child of the 80's proud.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Latest and Greatest Here at the Shame Threshold!

One of my Super Friends sent this to me when I told him I missed the old Stars and Bars.

Mustaches, BBQ, Fireworks, Friendship, Bald Eagles, Boners, And American Flags.  Good Grief.

In an attempt to connect with more of my state side friends and neighbors I have established a new email address associated with this blog (located in the upper right hand corner and printed in hip pink).  I have been apprehensive of putting up my personal/professional email address as I don't want any unintended visitors from my work to happen upon this web page due to any nosey google searches of my email or whatever.  Maybe it's a bit of Dateline-esque paranoia, but fuck it, if nothing else it will be another avenue for people to get in touch with me, particularly if you don't already have my email address.  So if you have any inklings to get in touch with me over here in the far east, please don't hesitate.  Heckling, tips, privy info, or just news from your part of the world- It's all welcome at  Note:  All of the emails will be forwarded to my personal account, so if you already have that address don't feel the need to send emails to this here new fangled one.

I have also added a disclaimer to mitigate any potential legal problems the future may hold.  If you have any legal issues or otherwise with the content of this web page, please email me and we'll work it out real cool like.

I have also changed the settings on my comments section so now anyone who wants to leave a comment should be able to.  In the past, comments have been limited to other blog authors, but no more, now the masses shall have their say.  I really have no way of knowing who views this blog, so unless you leave a comment you will be forever anonymous.

Finally, in an effort to take advantage of the new comment policy here at The Shame Threshold I would like to conduct an informal poll, or guest log if you will.  I couldn't figure out how to add a gadget that would act as a guest book so hopefully this posting will:

Who is reading this blog?  Please let me know in the comment section along with any feedback  you might have.  What do you desire more of?  Less of?  Keep me posted


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sic Alps & Ty Segall

Most people with whom I regularly covort with, or at least used to when I lived in the US, are probably tired of hearing me harp on this band, but for the few people who read this blog who I haven't hipped, here we go:  Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite touring bands, the Sic Alps.

I first heard about these guys about a year ago from Scott over at Exiled Records (If you live in Portland please patronize these guys as much as possible they have THE best collection of psychedelic and lo fi music as well as super selective jazz, garage, international, and experimental music... Shit, fuck putting a title on it, they just have really great music and are always happy to hip you to some reighteous music).  He told me that the Sic Alps were a pretty small outfit from SF, a duo comprised of drummer Matt Hartman (Who briefly played with the Coachwhips) and singer/guitar Mike Donovan , that put out a series of small run 7'' and 12'' records.  I picked up one of the last copies he had of the "Rough Trade in Soft Form" and was immediately blown away.  The two stand out songs on that EP for me were "Speeds" and "Microcastles," A pair of rollicking, unpolished rock anthems that are equal parts noise explosion and boozy garage rock that leave you with the feeling that your ears have just date raped. .

Ed. Note: This is the first time I have attempted to put song downloads/links onto this page... All you're supposed to do is cut and paste the link into your browser and then wait something like 15 seconds.  You will then see a prompt to type in some coded letters and you should be able to download the song free and fast. I know it's a bit of a convoluted process, so if you know of a more user friendly way to link up songs, please let me know. Speeds.m4a Microcastle.m4a

I immediately set out on the single minded mission of acquiring everything of theirs that I possibly could.  Unfortunately, I found that all of their previous EP's were out of print and the few that were available on EBAY were floating at about 80-120 bucks for a 12''.  Yahtzee.  

Anyhow, lucky for you and I they have since rereleased all of their previous out of print ep's on a cd put out by Animal Disguise Records, which if it is not already sold out (I think they only printed 1000 of them) I'm sure is floating around somewhere on the internet in digital form.  This rosetta stone of the Sic Alps discography is titled "A long way around to a Shortcut.  Please try to buy it if you can, these guys definitely deserve your money.

Other release on the old CD format include their first full length album "Pleasures and Treasures," Which although is probably my least favorite of their releases, is still a gem in it's own right.  The album is incredibly low fi, sounding as if most of it was recorded in a refridgerator at the bottom of crater lake, but still manages to be compelling, stradeling a fine line between noise art cacophany and a beautfiul, albeit damaged tribute to the traditional song format.  My three favorites are probably the most traditional tracks on the album: "I Know Where Madness Goes," "Semi-Streets" and "Surgeon and the Slave."  All of these songs, despite their unpolished recording quality, will be vying for heavy rotation in the revolving door of your minds ear.  I have not included a track of Semi-Streets because you can just dig that in the music video section below. I Know Where Madness Goes.m4a Surgeon and the Slave.m4a

The bands most recent release is on one of my favorite record labels, the small press Siltbreeze Records out of Philladelphia, run by bastion of relevant recording artist, Tom Lax (check out his musical musings at  This record label has put out some of the best records of the last two years by artist such as Eat Skull, U.S. Girls, Little Klaw, Times New Viking, Fabulous Diamonds, Naked on the Vague, Pink Reason....shit, the list goes on.  Basically if these guys are putting out a record, an immediate red flag should pop off in your head: Buy this.  But I digress.  U.S. Ez is without question the most accessible album by the Sic Alps, opting for a more melodic, ethereal, and dare I say soft approach to their songs.  I found the album to be a bit pedestrian on my first lesson, but have found it to be a real grower.  With every listen I find myself liking the beautiful, understated songs  a little more.  They seem to resonate more and more, but resist drowning in the inevitable boredom of comfort.  It's just absolutely swell, a real swell album.

I'm just going to post one of these gems because I really want you guys to go out and buy this album if you don't already have it.  This song is my favorite, but the whole album is a roster filled with winners. Sing Song Waitress.m4a

Most of these video's are available in high quality... I suggest you watch them that way.

"Massive Place"
Siltbreeze Records

Ummm.  Bikini clad Babes cutting off a Long Hair's leg with a hack saw in front of an industrial porcelin background... yeah, that's pretty hard to fuck with.

Bells (w/Tremolo and Distortion)
A long Way Around a Short Cut (Originally released on the Description of a Harbor ep, 2007) 
Animal Disguise

Many of their video's feature amazing animation/video collage.  This is one of the finer examples for sure.  Just the best images, patterns, and colors.  Whoa.

Semi Streets
Pleasures and Treasures
Animal Disguise Recordings

And the award for both the best use of Maps and Kareoke Lyrics in a music video for the year forever goes to...  
Freedom well explained.

A Story Over There
A Long Way to a Short Cut (Originally on Description of a Harbor, 2007)
Animal Disguise Recordings

Sweet Stop Motion Animation

Arthur Machen
A long Way to a Shortcut (Originally on The Soft Tour in Rough Form 12'', 2006)
Animal Disguise Recordings

An absurdist dramatization of the song.  Brilliant

This fellow is Ty Segall, formerly of the southern california garage rock outfit Epsilons.  While upon cursory examination it seems that I am not a huge fan of his former work with the Epsilons, as they were a bit to power pop/garage for my taste (yet still pretty good), his recent solo work is promising.  He just put out a self titled album on Tom Dwyer's (From the Coachwhips and the Oh Sees) record label and is going to be the envy of every garage rock outfit west of the old miss.  This guy seems to be poised for Jay Reatard like popularity and it wouldn't surprise me if he is next latest rage among garage affcionados.  Don't quite know what his record status is as his myspace page says he is playing the Goner Records showcase, but he seems to be in that same vain.  I haven't heard his complete album, but from the tracks I heard of of his myspace page he has plenty of distorted, fucked out garage ditties with infectious tracks that leave their mark.  Check him out and let me know what you think.

For you readers lucky enough to live in the fair city of Portland, Ty Segall is set to play to Slabtown Bender.  He is slotted to play the daytime show on the 7th although I'm really not quite sure what time that translates to.  If you see this guy give me the low down and dirty business.

Here he is playing a rare three person set with the Sic Alps.  Dude, certainly seems to be keeping beneficial company.

Ed. Note:
I know this things is rife with typos, I promise to clean it up a bit soon.  Also, look for new Shame threshold additions such as an Email account for feedback from those of you who don't have a blogspot account and hopefully more music downloads/mix tapes. xoxo

Sokcho, Sorak San, and Lunar New Years

This past weekend Rachel and I had the good fortune to celebrate our first Lunar New Years, which is incidently the most widely celebrated holiday in South Korea.  We were given both the 26th and 27th off from our job and in addition a nice little holiday bonus from our boss: two free nights at a 4 star hotel in the Sorak Mountains (one of the most revered beauties of the South Korean landscape).  Before we left on our vacay, our boss was kind enough to type us up a very useful AND completely hilarious itinerary.  I have typed to unedited contents of said itinerary below:

Recommended Itenarary for Sorak MT

Introduction of Sokcho region

Sokcho city is located at the east coast of Korea.  Sorak Mt national park is large area which bigger than Sokcho city.  Sokcho city is the entrance of Sorak Mt. Sokcho city is famous of fresh fish, Sorak Mt, Several hot spring and Donghea (East sea of Korea).

24th Jan

1. Take a subway to go to Seoul express bus terminal.  At least 1hr 30min.
2. Find the gateway to Sokcho.  Get your bus ticket at the ticket booth of Sokcho.
3. Your arriving time at Sokcho bus terminal will be 1~2pm 24th Jan.
4. After arriving Sokcho bus terminal, go to Sokcho beach where you can enjoy the view of East sea shore and some coffee or tea at a cafe around there. 1~2 hr
5. Take a bus to Sorak park hotel.
6. Check in.
7. Visit the travel center and have dinner at restaurant around the hotel.

25th Jan.

1. Visit Shingeung temple which is located in Sorak Mt. 1~2hr
2. Ride Sorak gondola(Sorak cable car). 2hr
3. Visit Sorak waterpia.  It is a water resort, they have hot spring, wave pool and outdoor bath tub.  You need swim suit and water google.  At least 3hr,
4. Visit Sokcho city downtown and the fish market.
5. Big dinner at Korean raw fish house.  My treat. 7~9pm.  Cal me around 6pm and I'll pick you up where you are.

26th Jan

6. Check out
7. Take a bus to Sokcho bus terminal.  30min
8. Back to your sweet home.

Enjoy your trip~

For the most part, we stuck pretty closely to the itinerary that Mr. Y provided and his time tables were pretty accurate, apart from some unforeseen problems due to a heavy snow and traffic delays associated with the holidays.  Very pro, Mr. Y, nicely done.

Stock Korean Pose: Ass Out, Fingers Up

Rad Paper Lamps/Light Fixtures From Sorak Park Hotel

The View From The Room

Animal rights photo in our room.

Traditional Korean bed situation

Traditional Korean bedroom

Dude was 14.3 m tall.  Completely epic.

Korean Buddhist temple  (Shinhueng)

Views from the top of one of the mountains, ascended with the aid of a Gondola.

Don't even think about falling because there are no safety barriers between you and some cliff side tumbling.

Just some bear on bare love

Snowy wheel, duh

The powerhouse behind the gondola's upwards propulsion

Ain't no party like a gangsta party

For maximum punching force, choose black power.
They had another one of these with Ron Artest on the front.

The future site of the Korean counterpart to Alcatraz

Majestic sand dwelling dolphins

Snowy beaches, go figure

If you start drowning, this dude saves you...

More beach majesty

Korean cop sign. Don't get caught.