Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Nuanced Acting of Yoo Ah In

I wrote this for a Soompi thread because we are rewatching and taking another look at Secret Love Affair. I don't usually put thread posts here, but since it took a while to write, I wanted it here so I could find it again.

The scene in the garage at the end of episode 3 was very powerful for me and stuck with me as a high point. It's one of the few scenes I can tell you off the top of my head which episode it is from, in fact. As I rewatch it, I think a lot of the reason is the body language and complex facial expressions of Yoo Ah In. No wooden faces for him. He stands in the entrance to the garage, but he's not just standing there. He's off balance, ready to move, full of potential energy. He looks dangerous to me, like a commando all psyched up ready to blow up a bridge. But when he walks up to Hye-won he becomes a little diffident, looks down, and opens and shuts his mouth without being able to say anything.

She asks him if he grew, and his expression lightens, he looks uncertain, and he says, “I do think I changed a bit,” with raised eyebrows and half a smile. When she asks if he read the book he raises his head higher and looks more assertive but withdrawn and a little hurt. This expression is hard to read but it is key because it shows the change in him. He's been through a lot and has been in hiding, but now he's screwed up his courage and decided to go fight for a life with her. But the expression is fleeting because he knows he has to be careful or she'll blow him off, so he's holding back. She tries to put him in his place, like he's a child - a student of hers - and questions him, and he goes back to diffidence. But when she asks, “how was it?” and makes him think, his mind goes to a painful spot. He goes through several expressions here; he purses his lips, then wrinkles his chin and moves his jaw sideways and his voice breaks. He is honest and admits he had given up but he was swayed. And using only his eyes he gives her the look of a dead man, because he knows he wants her but can't have her.

She says she can tell he's struggling and he gives an obvious lie that he's incredibly fine, grimacing to keep from breaking down. Then tipping his head up to look down his nose at her, he grasps at his pride to tell her not to send him anything again. Now he finds his feet. When she tells him not to lie to his teacher she can't disconcert him any more. With confidence he answers, “Yes it's a lie, but it doesn't matter.” His head is still tipped up and he cracks his jaw; only his eyes show he's keeping his distance but miserable. She puts her hand on his face for comfort and he is overcome and lets her at first, but then the corner of his mouth twitches, and pained, he says, “don't,” because it's a mixed signal. If she thinks she can pretend there's no attraction by treating him as a child she shouldn't have touched him, because it calls forth a response and he decides to cut the pretense and grabs her in a hug.

His forehead furrows and his eyebrows angle up as he squeezes her and then lets go and looks at her searchingly for a moment. This is a really memorable moment, and an important moment where he, full of kinetic energy, tips over the edge and gives the rest of the drama its velocity. Right here he gives her a chance to object if she wants to, but she evidently gives him an “I want you too” kind of look and he holds her by the neck and kisses her hard, even when she pushes back a minute later. IMO she got more than she bargained for and was surprised by the intensity. She didn't understand what she was stirring up. She gasps once and I don't know how she could with his full lips pressing so hard, but I bet she got a wet face because when they break apart, both gasping for breath, his lips are shiny. And he has a kind of “what was that?” expression.

The whole scene took only about three minutes and he went through 17 different identifiable expressions that I catalogued above; but I watched the whole thing in one go trying to count all the times he changed expression, and it was at least 25. If he doesn't get all the acting awards there are this year, it will be a gross miscarriage of justice. He carries you through so many nuances of meaning, and it all goes by so fast you can miss it if you are not paying attention. I can't imagine doing it on cue, several times, over and over for the camera. With a lot of actors you would be lucky to get one expression a minute and you would have gotten 1) Oh, hi. 2) Yes, it's a lie. 3) Don't touch my face because now I want to kiss you. This drama finished its run in the middle of May and now it's the middle of September, so that's four months. Most dramas I watch, I enjoy while I am watching them but the impression fades away before too long. This is one of the few that has stayed with me. And a big reason is Yoo Ah In's acting.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

High School King of Savvy: What Were They Thinking? Episode 17

 Episode 17:

High Points: Min-suk tells Soo-young that he might go to Germany and she blurts out that they should just get married. She changes her mind, but he thinks about it and proposes. Ok, I never like the getting down on the knees thing. Soo-young's mother comes to school and sees Min-suk in his uniform, which mirrors when Soo-young found out the same way. There is a scene at college where Min-suk's friends don't understand his PPT.  They think it is phys ed but it is really a presentation. That mirrors the time at the start of the show where Min-suk didn't understand a presentation either. The scene where the office workers find out is funny, as is the one where Yoo-ah talks their mother into agreeing. The couple come late to their own wedding, skim through the ceremony, and leave in a rush, which was actually very rude to the guests. After the wedding Jun-woo meets a woman who gets him to impersonate someone on her phone to get her out of a bind. Then she gets in his car for a lift to the subway and leaves her phone. All these things mirror his experience with Soo-young at the start of the show. Then we get a three-year time-skip with a peek at Min-suk and Soo-young as a married couple. The show ends with them walking on the stairs in the dark and standing under a street light while she gets after him and then he kisses her. Deja vu for the first time they kissed.

What were they thinking? Soo-young is giving Min-suk an out when she offers to break up, because she knows he is young and might want something different before too long. He decides he really wants her, and they show us it works out in the postlude after the time skip. The wedding, however, points up their immaturity. It was very rude of them to be late and make people wait, and then leave in a hurry. It was disrespectful of all the work of the people who set things up at the park, practiced the song, and took time from their busy lives to come show them support.

In general I felt that the last two episodes fell a little flat. It might be partly due to the one-episode extension. It might be due to the fact that I wanted more out of the show. In particular, I wanted more of hyung's story. I didn't want him to be a plot device like the twin brother in You're Beautiful, who was just an excuse for the silly plot set-up and made only a token appearance at the end of the show. Most of the show was really good, however. I laughed a lot, felt pulled into the story, and cared about the characters. The mirroring at the end was a great touch. It takes us back through the story and gives us better closure.

The thing that bothered me was that he was still a minor when they married. People have complained about the age gap all along, and I was one of those who said to chill. The actor in real life is  older, and I thought there would be a time skip before the wedding. At least let them both be legal adults first. In the end, it is just too squicky that he is only 17 in US age and the whole things kind of washed out on me. I would still recommend this for someone to watch. Other than that caveat about the end, it's a really fun show.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

King of High School: What Were They Thinking? Episode 15 - 16

 Episode 15:

High Points: Hyung has come back to Korea and sees his family briefly. He promises to take Grandpa to the aquarium and doesn't show, but Gramps is happy to have Soo-young take him. Hyung comes to work impersonating Min-suk impersonating Hyung-suk. No, he doesn't really try to impersonate anyone. He just acts distant. When he tells CEO Yoo that he has tricked him and now owns the company, CEO collapses and spends the rest of the episode in the hospital. Grandpa disappears. The rest of them go looking for him, but he has passed away.

What were they thinking? Hyung has been away from his family so long he is cold and embittered. He only sees them once. Min-suk has been living with a very caring dad and is a much warmer and happy person. Jin-woo has come to appreciate Min-suk and appeals to him for help but he's already talked to hyung and failed. Probably the only thing that could make a difference is the passing of the grandfather.

Episode 16:

High Points: We start with the memorial for Grandpa, and there is a heart-rending montage of scenes remembering him. Hyung changes his mind, returns the money, and heads back to Germany. Min-suk plays hockey again before he is completely healed, and gets permanently injured this time. Why on earth did his coach let him play? He and Soo-young meet her friend and go out to dinner, and she has to pay for him. She goes to take care of her mom and misses Dad's birthday and won't explain, so they get into an argument and he stalks off.

What were they thinking? Min-suk is feeling the impact of the age gap. He's only a kid and can't keep up with the adults. He feels bad that he doesn't have a job and money, and is hurt that Soo-young won't confide in him, but he couldn't help her anyway. He has a nice bonding scene with Jun-woo, but he still acts like a dongsaeng and pesters him for the last piece of fried chicken.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

King of High School: What Were They Thinking? Ep. 13 - 14

 Episode 13:

High Points: President Yoo goes to visit Dad at the dry cleaners and Dad throws him out. Team Leader Kim and Manager Han find out that Soo-young knows the secret, and they make cute plans and a team cheer. Soo-young makes up with her sister, who admits Min-suk never liked her and next announces that she will date his tall friend. He looks stunned but he has seemed to like her before. Soo-young finds Min-suk's photo album and fights him over a naked baby picture, resulting in overbalancing and landing on top of him. Oops! Elf-boy (his name is Jin-woo) sees Dad and finds out that Hung-suk is Lee Jung-soo's son and may be dangerous. He meets Min-suk at the elevator in his high school uniform and calls him by his real name.

What were they thinking? Dad and Grandpa are clearly still mad at President Yoo for whatever happened ten years ago when Mr. Lee drove into the lake. (It looks like he accidently caused Mr. Lee's business to fail.) Pres. Yoo looks like he might want to make amends. He seemed to be looking fondly at Min-suk during their dinner, so why is he so mean to his own son? Soo-young seems to be trying to solve the age problem by having boundaries and waiting. Min-suk, obviously too lively and impatient for that, is pushing her pretty hard.

Episode 14:

High Points: We get flashbacks showing Jin-woo following Min-suk around and discovering his secret life. When he meets Min-suk at the elevator he threatens him but says he won't tell yet. President Yoo yells at Jin-woo for being cautious in business deals. He wants to try to have branches all over Asia. Soo-young takes Jin-woo to the hospital when he faints from swallowing pills with alcohol. Min-suk comes to watch over him. (We were trolled by a bed scene in the previews, but it turns out that it was the two guys in the bed, lol.) He answers the phone and finds out that the president is Jin-woo's father. Their dirty secrets cancel out. President Yoo sells a lot of his stock and signs the business deal about the time Jin-woo is finding out that the other company lied to them. Min-suk is called to meet the head of the other company and finds out it is his hyung.

What were they thinking? The managers who know the secret are going a little crazy, Jin-woo is getting suspicious, and his father is greedy and rash in business deals - which is maybe what he did wrong ten years ago. Hyung-suk (Min-suk's older brother) has probably been planning revenge all this time and set up President Yoo to go bankrupt.

Monday, July 28, 2014

King of High School: What Were They Thinking? Ep 11 - 12

 Episode 11:

High Points: Popcorn (ok, her name is Soo-young) leaves without a word and Min-suk follows, eventually getting her to stop and talk. She uses banmal and asks if he is really 18. Then she walks off in a daze and into the street, where Elf-boy grabs her out of the path of an oncoming car. She has a great pillow-fight with her sister and escapes to her hometown to mope. Min-suk is pretty much numb inside and not much good at school or work. Elf-boy's mother attempts suicide and he visits her at the hospital. He is learning to stand up to his father and threatens to reveal their relationship. Stalker (Yoo-ah) befriends Elf-boy and gets him to go to the hometown, where Min-suk walks in on him hugging Soo-young.

What were they thinking? When Soo-young asks Min-suk if he is 18, he says yes, which means he is really 17 because of the Korean custom of counting babies one year old when they are born. Kdramas are fond of noona romances, perhaps because they turn the hierarchical social system on its head. The squicky part is that he is still a minor. He sincerely loves her, though, and she fell in love with him not knowing he was young enough to be off limits. It is proper for her to avoid him and to break up because of the age thing, and also because her sister likes the same guy.

Episode 12:

High Points: Soo-young tells the guys not to make a scene because this is a small town and if she is in a scandal she won't be able to get married. Haha! Min-suk entreats her not to quit her job and she makes a big point of getting him to call her “noona.” Elfie tells his dad that his mom is in the hospital and takes Soo-young to visit her. Min-suk is badly injured in a hockey game and told he can't play sports anymore. He reacts by pushing himself to exhaustion and crying in the rain, watched over by his two friends and Yoo-ah. Only then does she tell her sister about the accident. Soo-young meets Min-suk as he is leaving school to go to work. He can hardly believe she is there, as he walks slowly closer and she throws her arms around him.

What were they thinking? Soo-young wants Min-suk to call her noona because it creates distance and makes her an authority figure over him as a younger person. He resists because he wants her to see him as a man on the same level as she is. Everyone is maturing. Elfie is dealing better with his dad, telling him about the hospital but not begging for a visit. Yoo-ah realizes that it doesn't help to push herself on a boy who doesn't care about her and that the only way she can help him is to let him have the person he really wants. It's interesting that she doesn't argue with unni about moving. It's the hierarchy thing again, with unni having the right to make decisions. Soo-young is dithery when not sure of herself but firm when she is. She is kind to Elfie but takes no guff, runs the household but does everything she can to keep her mom and sister happy, and endures heartbreak in setting Min-suk free until she finds out that he really needs her. When she hugs him he puts his arms around her hesitantly, not sure what she intends. Then she lets go and explains and it is so fulfilling the way he hugs her again so tightly as though he will never let her go.

Friday, July 18, 2014

King of High School: What Were They Thinking? Ep 9 - 10

 King of High School: What were they thinking?

Episode 9:

High Points: Back at hockey camp, Min-suk has to do a million squats and then collapses on the ground giggling. CEO Dad asks Director Nam about Lee Jung-soo's chauffeur; he's seen someone like him lately. Elf-boy discusses investigating Min-suk with Director Nam and then gets Team Leader drunk and pumps him for information with no luck. Min-suk and Popcorn spend Saturday sightseeing on an island having a great time. When they get back she asks if he really likes her. He flips his arms open and she jumps in like she was pulled by elastics. Elf-boy breaks into Min-suk's office to look at his computer and finds an email from Hyung.

What were they thinking? Popcorn heard that boyfriends on trips finagle an overnight stay. She worries that Min-suk doesn't like her since he isn't like that. He convinces her he is crazy about her, which he is. He'll do anything to see her, even if his coach punishes him. Lee Jung-soo seems to be Min-suk's real father, who is dead. The chauffeur is Min-suk's adopted dad, who CEO saw on a bike. What does CEO Dad know about them?

Episode 10:

High Points: Before Elf-boy can read the email, Min-suk reads it and deletes it. Then Popcorn walks in on Elf-boy right when he is on his knees begging his dad to visit his mom. When she leaves work she sees him have an accident, and since he is obviously shakened by it, she drives him home. But when she hands the key back he grabs her and kisses her. Meanwhile, Stalker gives Min-suk an expensive pair of skates, hardly registering it when he tells her he likes another girl. Guitar-guy tries to keep the assistant manager from going out with Tall Girl, until she gets annoyed and complains at him. Then he kisses her, and we have a new romantic couple. An argument between Min-suk and Elf-boy erupts into a business reception and they fight it out and knock down tables. Popcorn takes Min-suk out and patches up his face. The next day there are parent-teacher meetings at school. Popcorn goes to see Stalker's teachers and walks spang into Min-suk in his student uniform.

What were they thinking? The ending to episode 10 is tense. It is the focal point of all the previous episodes. Everyone who has thought about how unstable the relationship is, or how the hyung can do this, or how Min-suk can keep up the charade, or how the sisters will feel, has been thinking about this point: when everyone starts to find out. Because we all knew they would; it was inevitable. We've been holding our breaths waiting to see what will happen, and now we will get to see. The rest of the show will be the fallout of this moment.

It's not funny to see a man impersonate a businessman. But a high school kid? It's the juxtaposition. We all know how calm and sedate a businessman should be, and when he starts to ignore protocol, and run, and ride freight carts into a presentation, it's weird. We know Min-suk is acting like that because he's a kid, but the people at work don't know it. The secretary falls in love with her boss, and she is expecting him to be finished with his education, have a job, and be ready to settle down and raise a family. The 18-year-old isn't prepared for any of it. That is what the contradiction and the tension has been about, the fun and the anxiety. Now we are going to see how it resolves.

The story has been excellent so far, and we are counting on the writer to have thought everything through and have something awesome in store for us. How people handle the shock, and what kind of excuse the hyung has for doing this, is going to make or kill the show. The prelude at the start of Episode 1 gave a glimpse of the secretary helping the kid manage his two lives. It will be fun to watch them doing more of that. What's going to happen? None of us have any idea. That's why this show is so good. It isn't predictable. So we are waiting for Monday. KOHS FIGHTING!!

King of High School: What Were They Thinking? Ep 5 - 8

 Episode 5:

High Points: Grandpa gets lost and Popcorn is helping him look for his house when Dad comes and finds them. Min-suk discovers that Elf-boy is behind Popcorn getting fired and confronts him belligerently every chance he gets, including getting into a fight at a company picnic. After having been very demanding for attention, Stalker-girl finds out Popcorn, her unni, got fired and touchingly cleans the apartment and does all the laundry. An employee makes Elf-boy cringe when he sticks a pen in his face to sign a paper.

What were they thinking? We find out that Popcorn had a warning dream just before her father died, so it's a talent. She also thinks she remembers Min-suk's dad. What connection can they have? Min-suk is increasingly upset over the way she is treated, finding an outlet in physical exertion. She is annoying to a lot of viewers because she is gauche and slumps and wears frumpy clothes. But being scatterbrained and less experienced than most women is why he likes her. They are pretty much at the same social level, and can connect; if she weren't like this, we would have no story.

Episode 6:

High Points: Min-suk hires Popcorn as his secretary and she does well, even chasing after him on a scooter to catch him for a meeting. Team Leader gets after Min-suk in the bathroom, who says he can't be caught and threatens to quit. Elf-boy overhears them and later meets CEO Dad in the elevator and tells him about his mother's bad health. Min-suk warns Popcorn about Elf-boy, but the elf is being nice to her. He finally meets up with her in the neighborhood and pulls her into a hug. “Give me ten seconds,” he says.

What were they thinking? Elf-boy becomes suspicious and investigates Hyung, finding out he was in Germany two weeks ago, after he started work in Korea. Dad is getting suspicious too, because he sent Hyung a package which was returned. Min-suk is becoming more irritable, but he doesn't know why until he figures out maybe he likes the girl and hugs her to find out.

Episode 7:

High Points: Elf-boy visits his mom in rehab and we get a flashback of his dad throwing things and knocking her down. No wonder she's alcoholic. Going on a weekend retreat, Popcorn gets left at a rest stop. Min-suk and Elf-boy drive back to get her and fight over whether she sits in the front, so she decides to drive and let them fight it out in the back. So. Funny. One of the men plays guitar, but no one pays any attention except a tall girl who takes him aside to listen. When they get back, CEO gives Min-suk a ride and admits his wife and two kids are busy and don't care if he is a workaholic. They see Min-suk's dad go by on a bike and CEO thinks he is familiar. Elf-boy asks Popcorn to spy on Min-suk and she says no. He has a broody shower scene. Min-suk finds her crying and takes her face in his hands and kisses her.

What were they thinking? Elf-boy's informant says that Hyung is an aloof perfectionist, nothing like Min-suk. He is definitely suspicious but his attempt to use Popcorn as an informant fails. Min-suk doesn't see him as a threat yet except over the girl. How does CEO Dad know Min-suk's dad?

Episode 8:

High Points: Min-suk tries to talk to Popcorn but she runs away from him and avoids him at the office. He promises to leave her alone and tries to cope by running, over-eating, and careening down the hill in a shopping cart. She doesn't recognize him at all and calls him a hooligan! She dreams of him bungee-jumping and sure enough the next day he hurts his arm at training camp. Elf-boy's mom comes to visit his dad at work, they fight, and Dad has her thrown out. Popcorn and Min-suk look for each other and he comes up behind her in a back-hug. Then he lifts his sling over her head and does a thorough job of kissing her.

What were they thinking? Popcorn is uncomfortable about going from one man to another so quickly, but decides she likes Min-suk. He throws himself with a huge amount of energy into everything he does, including falling in love. Elf-boy is furious because he is illegitimate and his father wants the connection kept secret. It's hard to know whether he is starting to like Popcorn or only wants to use her.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

King of High School: What Were They Thinking? Episodes 1-4

King of High School: What Were They Thinking?

Episode 1:

High Points: We see Min-suk in the preview playing Businessman and then taking off for school. He's a hockey ace who fights with the opposing team (his friends, Merry and Pippin, have to haul him away), is absently benign to the stalker girl with a crush on him, and tender with his senile grandpa who steals chocolate. He meets a drunk girl eating popcorn who borrows his phone.

What were they thinking? What episode was that preview from? It can't be literal because he couldn't really change clothes in the revolving door a la Superman. Is it just an impression, and not a peek at the future, like the similar scene at the beginning of Queen Inhyun's Man? And what about Hyung? He calls his dad to say he's coming that day, after having been gone eight years, and then suddenly changes his mind. His luggage was on the plane, but he doesn't come. What did he find out?

Episode 2:

High Points: Torn between hockey and subbing for Hyung, Min-suk ditches the bus and jumps the gate. When he calls his friends later, Pippin thinks fast and calls him “Mom” to fool the team captain. He meets the elf-prince director and has to fake knowing about the company, and comes across Popcorn-girl and has her fetch food just to see if she remembers him. (no) Stalker-girl follows him to work and chases him up the stair where he holds Popcorn's mouth shut with one hand while keeping Stalker out the door with the other.

What were they thinking? Elf-prince seems a little jumpy. He's probably been beat up. He flinches when CEO Dad waves his glasses too close. CEO Dad seems harsh anyway. It's interesting that Min-suk trusts Hyung and is following orders and keeping things secret from Dad, even though Dad seems perfectly trustworthy.

Episode 3:

High Points: Min-suk's routine of showing up at school, jumping out the window after roll, and going to meetings and inspections at work takes its toll and he collapses at home. Stalker-girl threatens Pippin and Merry to find out where he goes. He gets sympathy only from Grandpa, who cutely plays cat's cradle with him. He discovers that Popcorn has a crush on Elf-boy and makes them both annoyed by throwing them together, not knowing she was already rejected. He gets stuck with doing a presentation and only arrives in time from his hockey game by riding a freight cart up to the stage and making a dynamic entrance.

What were they thinking? Hyung sent in money for hockey, so he's still alive. We get a flashback to the first time Popcorn-girl saw Elf-boy. It was at a movie theater, and he was crying. She thought it was the movie, but it was likely his private life getting to him.

Episode 4:

High Points: Merry and Pippin follow Min-suk to work. Elf-boy sees them so Min-suk claims they are selling something and throws them out. That evening he tells them the truth, and they go on a high-spirited shopping spree with his company credit card. A rival company's boss takes them drinking and Min-suk's dad gets to feed them hangover soup the next morning and hit them upside the head. Elf-boy accuses assistant manager Sam Gamgee of selling out to the rival, but Min-suk defends him until it is proved that the problem was hackers. Stalker gets appendicitis.

What were they thinking? Popcorn-girl dreams of bungee-jumping and the rope coming loose, and the next day she is fired. Is there an element of paranormal to this drama? How big a part will it play?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Three Days: Yelling at the Screen

Having  been busy watching something else, we didn't watch Three Days when it aired. It did, however, feature one of our favorite actors, Yoochun. So when I read a review that the show was good except for a draggy part in the middle but had a good ending, we decided to watch it. Let me just say that we found ourselves yelling at the screen just about every episode.

Episode 1: Someone is threatening to assassinate the president. We knew that was the plot. However. Something that gripes us in any show is when a character Goes Off Alone into a dangerous situation. Come on. In real life you would get backup first. So easy to be deep-sixed when you are alone. DON'T GO! But yes, Yoochun goes alone at night into a house following a lead, and the Lady Cop goes traipsing around alone at night in the forest. Climbing that power pole. AHH!

Episode 2: The president goes to a country villa, and an EMP bomb goes off, which ruins all electronics within range. A lot of confusion and shooting. Yoochun get framed for shooting the president, which puts our perfectionist security guy at odds with the law. The security Team Leader is a traitor. We get the old Pause and Stare for the Camera bit. Why do Yoochun and Lady Cop stand out in the road staring at a truck careening towards them? MOVE! He did it in Rooftop Prince as well.

Episode 3: Yoochun runs around the villa, a police station, a train station, and a train,  just ahead of the guys who are trying to catch him. He figures out that the president fooled everyone and snuck out on his own. We get Cop Lady Going Off Alone to a deserted house in the woods and Security Lady Going Off Alone to search the bad team leader's office. NO NO! By and large though, this is the good part of the drama, reminding us forcibly of a Jason Bourne movie.

Episode 4:  We are saved from the Go Off Alone problem by the Don't Shoot the Leads rule. The Security Lady doesn't get shot; she is tied up and left to escape, a la Man From Uncle. Yoochun fights quite a lot of guys at once (HURRY - WATCH OUT - ohh) and is saved by the Magical Placement trick: he gets arrested, but out of all the cop cars available, he is put into the one driven by our friendly Lady Cop. She sneaks him the key to the handcuffs and he gets loose.

Episode 5: The Team Leader is trying to kill the president because he set up a mini-invasion by the North Koreans. The Prez is on a bus that overturns and he lands in the hospital. We get to YELL at the screen as Yoochun is chased through the corridors with a gurney, only to find that -WHEW- he was a decoy. Lady Cop had the president. This is one of the times we thought Show was dumb but turned out to be smart after all. We also get to YELL at the president when he insists on getting out of the ambulance to confront a shooter.

Episode 6: Another shooter tries to kill the president in an elevator. He is arrested and taken by one (1.0) agent outside, through a mob, to a car. WAIT! DON'T GO OUT THERE! It doesn't do any good to yell. The shooter is predictably killed. Is this called Gross Stupidity or Lax Security? The worst instance of Going Off Alone in the whole drama is committed by Cop Lady when she goes into a deserted mall to meet a "witness." Yeah. I thought so, too.

Episode 7: We find out how big a conspiracy this is when security cameras get wiped, and Cop Lady gets her report challenged and is suspended. Jason Bour- uh I mean Yoochun has an intense fight in the elevator and another in the hall, only to catch Chairman Bad Dude burning a secret document. He runs at him with a gun shouting, "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." The Don't Shoot the Leads rule is invoked again, and they let him go.

Episode 8: Lady Cop Goes Off Alone again and is caught by a North Korean Major who knew about the submarine plot. Yoochun rescues her and the N.K. Major decides to help the president. Yoochun takes him through a car chase and into a hotel for a press conference. We YELL again at Lax Security. It looks like they will be caught - there's no good reason for the baddies to talk instead of shooting. But Show surprises us again with the Decoy Trick and the prosecutor as a witness. Only - why didn't they record this and arrest Chairman Bad right there? Show now gets repetitive.

Episode 9: The N.K. Major starts to speak at the press conference and pauses. NO NO! SPIT IT OUT! Sure enough, the power goes out and he is kidnapped and killed. Ah! You can always tell. Why don't they just say it quick before anyone can do anything to them? They should have arrested Chairman Bad here too. But no. There are more episodes. Jason Bourne and Girl Friday break into Chairman's office to get at his computer. BTW we have now exceeded the three days.

Episode 10: Cop Lady has trouble downloading files. GET OUT! GET OUT! Yoochun lets himself get caught to give her more time. He sees Security Lady with Chairman Bad, they have a little talk and then Chairman totally lets him go again. Yeah. So likely. Cop Lady escapes by hiding in an air duct. Real handy, these big air ducts in movies. Next, Security Lady steals some papers and reads them while paying no attention to her surroundings. WATCH OUT FOR THAT CAR! Ahh... she gets hit and they steal the papers.

 Episode 11: The president goes to see Chairman Bad twice - TWICE. They trick him, but they don't arrest him. Why didn't you record the conversation? AHHH, I can't even. Keeps making same stupid mistake. A mole in the prosecutor's office sends fake cops to "guard" Secret Service Lady in the hospital. They try to kidnap her but Cop Lady steals their gun and fights them. You Go Girl! When Security Lady wakes up she tells them that the papers were a report of stolen dynamite.

Episode 12: The president restricts foreign investors so they can't profit from a run on the banks. Chairman Bad goes crazy and wants revenge if he can't have money. They stop the dynamite plot, but the last bomb knocks down both Yoochun and Cop Lady. They must teach yelling in first aid training in Korea, because that's what they do in dramas: 1-check the pulse, 2-shake the patient, 3-yell. The President goes to see Chairman Crazy in an empty stadium. HEY! How secure is that!?!

Episode 13: Not very. They foil a sniper. Yoochun gets a buddy to guard Cop Lady. She goes to the hospital to visit Security Lady and lets him leave. NO NO! ARGH! More fake cops (they never learn) kidnap the ladies. The president wants to go talk to Chairman Crazy AGAIN. What? Yoochun says he'll go. WHY, PEOPLE? They rescue the women, but Prez calls Crazy and arranges to get shot. He's been depressed, wanted to resign, now it's a death wish. Some president.

Episode 14: AH! We thought Show was majorly stupid, but it was being smart! A SWAT team takes out the sniper and arrests Chairman Crazy! FINALLY! The Prez makes a trip of condolence to the town where the N.K. sub was. Meanwhile, the prosecutor interrogates Crazy. Wait a minute. Don't they always have two-way mirrors so other people can witness the interviews? AHHH! The policeman in the room is one of Crazy's goons and stabs the prosecutor. At the same time another EMP bomb goes off and the president's group is attacked.

Episode 15: The president's security people try to get him out of the area, make a stand in a couple of different places, and go down one by one. Cop Lady catches the prosecutor's office mole in Seoul. Yoochun comes late and meets an agent he knows and we are all: CAREFUL! DON'T TRUST HIM! Because he is the blue house mole.  Crazy is in town with bombs and one of them goes off. It's majorly annoying to have him so single-minded when even his boss told him to quit and wait.

Chapter 16: The president gets a ride from a kind ahjumma. They find a bomb and he looks at it while Crazy thumbs his detonator. RUN! Lucky it was a different bomb -whew. Chairman Crazy calls the Prez to meet him on a bridge. What, are you crazy? I mean the Prez. Yah, he is too. DON'T DO IT! The townspeople are being evacuated in trucks and the ajhumma sees one of the bombs on the truck with her. Why doesn't she recognize it? TOSS IT! Yoochun says there are four bombs, but two blew up, the Prez has one, the ahjumma has one, and there is another one on an oil pipeline. Want to know the ending? -SPOILER COMING- Crazy blows himself up. Good. Go watch the real Jason Bourne.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Trial

 Chapter 10: The Trial
(Secret Love Affair - Alice in Wonderland Parody)

The prosecutors arrived at breakfast time with their ubiquitous blue boxes: tossing bedding and looking under mattresses, emptying out shelves and tipping over vases. When they had left and the lizard had gone to work, the fox went into the piano room and reached into an opening in the back of one of the stereo speakers. From it she took out a long white scarf, a bottle of ointment, a deck of cards, a packet of hairpins, and a toothbrush. Then she pulled out a small object wrapped in cellophane. It was a red USB.

She took it to the prosecutors. They were glad to have her turn state's evidence, but they had cleaned the laptop and were retrieving the data. All the files on the king and queen's chocolate factories and their dealings with the knave: dumping cocoa husks and byproducts in the river, price fixing, value inflating, and smuggling. It was all there.

“You can still read the hard drive?” she asked, amazed. “I bought three computers for nothing? One to drown, one for you to find, and a new one for myself!”

''Ah well,” he said tolerantly, “the general public has only a vague idea of these things.”

The case came up shortly in district court, and being very high profile, three judges were assigned. The king refused to appear, going around in pajamas and pretending to be sick. The queen agreed to testify but didn't help her cause any by repeatedly shouting, “Off with their heads!”

When the judge asked the fox to testify she slowly rose in the dock and adjusted the microphone. “I now intend to focus only on myself. The king and the queen, and the knave, who is leading the counsel, I'm not interested in what punishment they'll receive. Neither do I intent to seek favor saying I'm not the main culprit.”

Back at the college, Kang was finding out that Seon-jae had dropped out of school. “Didn't you hear?” his assistant asked. “I thought you knew everything.”

This dashed all of the lizard's plans for showing off his own protege. “No. You can go.”

In the courtroom, the fox was still speaking, “Every illegal act I've committed was never coerced, but was only by my choice. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”

Kang's assistant was telling him all the worst news, “He returned the scholarship papers, his student ID, and even the remainder of this month's support.”

At that Kang lost his temper and sent everything on his desk crashing to the floor. “Do you want to quit also? GET OUT!”

The fox was just getting into her stride. “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people...”

Just at that moment Seon-jae felt a very curious sensation. He was beginning to grow larger. He thought at first that he should leave the court, but decided to remain as long as there was room. “I wish you wouldn't squeeze so,” said the Dormouse, who was sitting next to him.

“I can't help it,” said Seon-jae, “I'm growing.”

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent...”

“I can hardly breathe.”

“Oh all right,” Seon-jae jumped up to leave but had gotten so large that he accidentally knocked over the jury box, upsetting all of the jury onto the court reporter's table. In his defense it must be admitted that he didn't expect there to be a jury box at all, because they don't have jury trials in Korea. “Oh I beg your pardon,” he exclaimed, and began picking them up and stuffing them back into the jury box as fast as he could.

“But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground.”

The center judge interrupted the testimony. “This trial can not proceed until all the jury are back in their proper places.”

“All of them,” added the left judge. Seon-jae saw that in his haste he had put the lizard in head downwards, and the poor thing was waving his tail around helplessly. This caused confusion later because the lizard hadn't been thought to be at the trial at all. Seon-jae put him back straight.

The right judge, who had been working on his laptop, called out, “Silence!” and read out, “Rule 42: All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.” Everybody looked at Seon-jae.

“I'm not a mile high,” he said.

“You are,” said the right judge.

“Nearly two miles high,” added the center judge.

“Off with his head,” the queen shouted. Nobody moved.

“Who cares for you?” said Seon-jae. “You're nothing but a pack of cards!” At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down on his head. He tried to beat them off, and found himself lying on the bank next to his brother, who was brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees.

“Wake up,” said @docster6, “what a long sleep you've had!”

“Oh no,” Seon-jae muttered, “I always hate it when it turns out to have been a dream.”


Thank you to Jung Sung-joo for writing Secret Love Affair, Viki.com for the English subtitles, Lewis Carroll for writing Alice in Wonderland, Project Gutenberg for easy access to the book, and Steve Jobs for inventing the iPad.

The Lobster Quadrille

 Chapter 9: The Lobster Quadrille
(Secret Love Affair - Alice in Wonderland Parody) 

In the early hours of the morning as the sky was turning purple, a dark figure in a hooded jacket and skinny jeans walked along the cement embankment of the Han River. Pink streaked the sky and reflected in shimmering blue water. Overhead street lights lit the bridge, where a few vehicles were crossing, although lights along the embankment path had turned off. The figure found a place where a slanted buttress met tiered cement blocks and sat down on the edge.

Taking off her backpack, she set it on the ground, lowered herself to the step, and pulled the zipper. A flash of light caught a laptop as it slid quietly down the buttress and disappeared into the water with hardly a splash, followed a moment later by a matching tablet. She zipped up her pack, looked casually around, and stood up.

“Look here, look here, what is this?” demanded a voice behind her. It was Kang, flanked by four policemen.

“This is cheap of you, Kang!” she cried.

“Penal Code 241, Dumping in the Han River,” intoned the Three of Clubs.

“You know how hard it is to dredge?” the Five of Spades demanded. “That thing is only eight feet deep!”

“You'll have to come along,” added Three.

Quite a crowd collected at the police station; the duchess got a call and came to enjoy the show. A few others were there, including Seon-jae. He tried out an excuse on the officers. “It wasn't dumping. She had a lobster trap.”

“We didn't see any lobster trap.”

“Maybe it came loose and floated off.”

“You can only catch carp and eel in the Han.”

“That's what people eat,” Hye-won put in eagerly, “but we weren't going to eat these. Haven't you ever heard of a lobster quadrille?”

“You form a line along the shore,” Seon-jae explained, (“Two lines,” put in Hye-won) “and advance twice, with a lobster as a partner. Throw them out to sea-”

“Swim after them and turn a somersault in the sea!”

“Change lobsters again, and come back to land.”

“You can do it without lobsters, but it is a very pretty dance,” ended Hye-won.

“All right, all right, enough of that stuff.” The lizard indicated Seon-jae. “Tell me truthfully regarding him. Are you perhaps in league with the griffin?”

“I'm not certain what you mean,” Hye-won replied, not looking up.

“Are you two inciting him to go overseas?”

“We never banded together.” He picked up a file and threw it, making her yelp.

“There, there, there. Please be quiet,” said the Three of Clubs. “Mr. Kang, please describe in detail what you saw.”

“Wait, whether I directly saw it or not is not important here!”

“Are you saying this has nothing to do with the illegal dumping of waste from a chocolate factory?”

“Chocolate factory?” asked Seon-jae, startled.

“Here, one moment please,” Hye-won interjected. “Can I call a lawyer?”

“Sure, go ahead,” said Three. She stood up to walk out, but the lizard grabbed her arm and jerked her back into her chair.

“Do it here,” he ordered. “You have an intention to flee!” He handed her the desk phone. She called the Knave of Hearts, and no one objected when she talked to him alone in the hall.

“Will you help me if I hand you over those files you wanted?” she asked him.

“If the queen is on the list of people to investigate, sure,” he returned. They shook hands and he got the charges dropped.

“What's this?” objected the duchess. “They're not going to jail? I thought this would be the end of the Love Affair of the Century.”

That night the lizard was insistent. “Just confess!” he yelled. “Then I will get a villa in Jeju and a lifetime pass for the Namsan cable car!” When she refused, he lashed out in frustration and knocked her cosmetics off the counter.

They didn't know until later that the laptop had been fished out of the river.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Mad Tea Party

 Chapter 8: The Mad Tea Party
(Secret Love Affair - Alice in Wonderland Parody) 

The interview was a mistake from the very start. Seon-jae hadn't wanted to go. The lizard patted him familiarly on the back and forced him to wear his scaly clothes. He could hardly bring himself to go into the lizard's room, let alone wear his shirt. He saw a book open to an underlined passage:

They told me you had been to her, And mentioned me to him:
She gave me a good character, But said I could not swim.

He wondered who had marked the book, and if it referred to him. When he went down the stairs their talk made his whole body cringe. Then they wanted him to smile and play something short and sweet on the piano. The whole thing culminated in an awkward Portrait of Parents With College-Age Child.

The griffin brought over a crowd of people from the mock @turtle1's farewell party. They scrounged fruit and kimbap from the kitchen and sat outside at a big table under a tree. The March Hair and the Hatter dispensed tea at one end of the table, while the dodo and the duchess set up a game of mahjong at the other. The Dormouse sat between the girls with his head on the table, and they used him as a cushion, resting their elbows on his back. “What is this?” he complained. “What about the gum and the hairpin? I thought you two were mad at each other.”

“Not any more,” answered the March Hair complacently. “She said she was sorry and called me unni.”

“You're the one I'm mad at,” the Hatter pinched the Dormouse. “What were you trying to pull? Where did you even get that car?” The March Hair snickered and stuck the lid of the teapot on his head.

“Ok, 418,” he sighed.


“I'm A Teapot." At her quizzical look he added, "HTTP code. They use it on April Fool's Day.”

The lizard made the fox sit next to him, draping his arm around her shoulders, giving her wine, and making her eat strawberries out of his hand. She escaped, sweating, to her room to find that Seon-jae had marked the book:

If I or she should chance to be Involved in this affair,
He trusts to you to set them free, Exactly as we were.

She was about to go back downstairs when she noticed her mirror going foggy. As it melted away, she saw peering through the silvery mist an elderly lady wearing a crooked shawl, with her hair in a sloppy knot topped by a silver crown. “Would you just help me through, my dear?” the lady asked, holding out her hand. The fox found herself supporting a bejeweled arm as the lady climbed over the counter and stepped onto the floor. “Thank you, that's much better!” The fox helped her straighten her shawl and pin it in place with a brooch inscribed "@mdj101."

The mock @turtle1 was improvising a jazz version of Swan Lake on the piano. Seon-jae, who had gone in to listen and get away from the party, blenched to see a flock of little girls in white swan tutus swarm down the stairs followed by a short plump lady also dressed in white. As the fox shepherded the little girls outside, the lizard yelled, “That's not even real jazz. Play something classical!”

The mock @turtle1 laughed and began with the famous:

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you're at!

He couldn't resist souping it up and ended in a Disney style, with a long run of flowery chords. The lizard tried to get up, but he had drunk a little too much wine. “Seon-jae! You show them too!” he hollered through the door. Seon-jae was already sitting at the piano. He began bright and brittle:

Up above the world you fly, Like a tea-tray in the sky.

But soon he morphed into a moody minor and then to a loud, crashing dissonance that ended with a one-finger dirge.

As the fox tried to find places at the table for the little girls the Hatter called, “I want a clean cup, let's all move one place over,” and poked the lizard. He tried to comply, but stumbled into the fox and made her upset the teapot in front of the duchess.

“Yah! How could you?” the duchess picked up a handful of mahjong tiles and threw them at the fox. As she pitched more tiles in increasingly random directions, the little girls began to screech. More people arrived, including @comickiwi, the soup ahjumma, and several guards headed by @diamond888 and @katchie82.

“Is the king here?” @diamond888 inquired in a formal voice.

The lizard tried to stand again. “That punk needs to hear what I have to say,” he yelled, and fell down. Seon-jae and the griffin tried to hold him up.

“We're here to investigate the king,” @katchie82 told them. The lizard slumped to his knees. The guards began busily looking behind bushes and knocking over chairs..

“No! Wait!” @comickiwi frantically waved her hands at the guards.

The fox broke a bottle and threatened them with it. “He isn't here! Out! That's the kind of noona I am!”

The soup ahjumma threw a cup of tea at the fox. “If you make a living of running errands for rich people, you should at least have listening skills!” she railed.

“Stop! Stop!” @comickiwi ordered. “I came to give you some news! ALL of you need to listen!” The duchess stopped throwing tiles, the little girls stopped screaming, the fox put down her broken bottle, and the guards quit knocking over furniture. Everyone held their breath.

“I have just heard from Seoul.” @comickiwi announced dramatically. “Kang the lizard has won the Baeksang Award for the best drunk scene of the year! He beat out Jun Ji-hyun!”

Everyone cheered. The guards hoisted Kang onto their shoulders and carried him around the garden. His health was toasted in orange juice. When the excitement finally died down they filtered out and piled into cars. @comickiwi went to find the mock @turtle1. “Have you seen the White Queen?” she asked.

“I saw her once, but I don't know where she is now,” he admitted.

“I wondered if she made it. I'm sure she'll turn up,”

When everyone else had gone, the earlier stress of the day crashed down on Seon-jae. He put on a fake smile, tried to cheer up the fox, and sent her to go sleep. He made it outside and then crumpled onto the sidewalk. One wrenching sob shook him but no tears came. He felt oddly disoriented. Someone touched his shoulder and he looked up to see the White Queen standing there. “That's the effect of living backwards,” she said kindly. “It always makes one a little giddy at first.”

“I don't understand.” A strange calm settled over him.

“You aren't going to cry now. All your tears are back in Chapter 2. @comickiwi asked me to do it.” Her shawl was slipping again so he straightened it for her.

“What does this say?” he asked, pinning the brooch more securely.

“101. It's HTTP code for switching protocols. That's how I initiated the backwards protocol.”

When he got home he found his copy of the book open to the last page.

Don't let him know she liked them best, For this must ever be
A secret, kept from all the rest, Between yourself and me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Queen's Croquet Ground

 Chapter 7: The Queen's Croquet Ground
(Secret Love Affair - Alice in Wonderland Parody) 

The @queennafre slid aside the art-glass door and walked across the bedroom to where the king was buttoning his shirt. “I'll do it,” she offered, taking a suit jacket from the Nine of Hearts, who turned and went out. While the king worked on his shirt cuffs, she felt a lump in a jacket pocket and found a diamond cocktail ring. She surreptitiously tucked it away.

“What's the @queennafre's schedule for today?” the king asked cheerily.

“I have lunch plans, but don't forget to meet me at the croquet ground in the afternoon.” She smiled and turned on the aegyo. “When the game is over, we can play, just the two of us.”

“He, he,” he chuckled. “Is today my lucky day?”

“How about this one?” she handed him a blue and brown striped tie.

“Whatever you choose.”

“Can I cancel one of the trust accounts?” she asked with extra winsomeness.

“What for?” he still sounded indulgent.

“For chocolates.”

The Dormouse went with the caterpillar to the student orientation. Becoming bored, he started checking out the girls and texted the March Hair, “They are rich here. One has a $300 knit hat and a $4000 bag.”

The March Hair's boss caught her texting and hit her on the head with a plastic bowl. “Get out. There is a customer who wants a shampoo.”

The lizard supervised concerto practice for the caterpillar. The fox played the orchestral part on a second piano while the lizard beat time with his fingers. “You've gotten a lot better,” he approved. “See you at the rehearsal tomorrow.”

“See you at the croquet game,” called the fox as Kang went out.

The @queennafre's croquet ground was a real showplace. The entrance was flanked by colorful flowerbeds and water fountains. The fox, one of the first guests to arrive, was surprised to see three gardeners picking the flowers off of a rose tree and dredging them in a chocolate fountain. “Watch out now, Five,” she heard one of them say. “Don't go dripping chocolate on me like that.”

“I couldn't help it,” said Five in a sulky tone. “Seven jogged my elbow.”

“Would you please tell me,” asked the fox, “what is going on here?”

Five and Seven said nothing, but Two began in a low voice, “Why the fact is, ma'am, these ought to have been chocolate roses to match the fountain. We put in a real rose tree by mistake, and if the @queennafre were to find out, we should all have our heads cut off.”

At this moment Five called out, “The @queennafre! The @queennafre!” and the gardeners threw themselves prostrate on the ground. A procession came up the walkway, a troupe of little girls in ballet costume in front, then a string quartet from the school, several ajhummas with refreshments, and finally the king and @queennafre followed by a crowd of guests.

Seeing the rose tree, the @queennafr exclaimed, “What HAVE you been doing here?”

“May it please your Majesty,” began Two in a humble tone.

“I see,” she said, examining the roses. “Off with their heads!” The procession moved on to the playing ground.

The griffin stayed behind to talk to the fox. “I watched your video of the caterpillar,” he said. “It sounds good, but it's no help at all. It only shows his head, never his hands playing. You can't tell anything of his technique.”

“Humph!” sniffed the @queennafr, who had quietly returned, holding a flamingo under either arm. “I can tell you why.” At his questioning look she went on, “she thinks his eyes are cute.”

“Uh,” the fox hurried to change the subject. “Are you going to the concerto?”

“What would I watch for? I have an important meeting with the dodo. We don't do things unless photos are taken.”

“Since you are head of the music sch-” started the griffin.

“Either you or your head must be off!” She exclaimed, thrusting one of the flamingoes at him. When he had gone, she showed the cocktail ring to the fox. “Seeing that it's without a box, he might have given it and taken it back. Did you know about this?”

“No. Not at all,” lied the fox.

“It's a dereliction of duty. Take care of it. And the chocolate mess too, or it's...” she threatened, and walked away.

“Off with my head,” the fox finished.

The Dormouse brought the $300 Hat girl to the concert, meeting the March Hair at the entrance. “Say hello, this is my friend,” he introduced.

“We're friends from high school,” the March Hair let out, much to his chagrin.

“A vocational high school? I thought a lot of things were strange about you,” the Hat girl said to the Dormouse, walking out in a huff.

“That's the Hatter, huh?” the March Hair asked.

“That's the Mad Hatter,” he corrected, chasing after her.

The concerto was wonderful, and the caterpillar did a great job. He only had the audience worried once, when he paused and seemed to forget what he was doing; but he came in on cue after all. They couldn't find him for the celebratory party afterwards. Although if there had been a security camera in the backstage storage area, it would have picked up a pale caterpillary wriggling motion. In the dark. Before the lizard came through, hollering. Then it went away. The only one who saw it was the @crazycat, or at least its grin.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pans and Pepper

 Chapter 6: Pans and Pepper
(Secret Love Affair - Alice in Wonderland Parody) 

Seon-jae stayed up half the night playing the grand piano and slept in late, so when the March Hair came to see him, the ahjumma told her not to wake him. “I'll just peek at his face and go,” she promised mendaciously. But the first thing she did was chuck her backpack at him and yell, “Yah! You jerk! You should have called me!” She jumped on him, grabbed his ears, and pulled his hair. He coped by pushing at her face and getting her in a head lock. Suddenly she collapsed into tears.

“Geez,” muttered the ahjumma, and then called out, “You kids want to eat?” They did. Which was good. She liked to see young people eat well.

“I got my necklace fixed,” the March Hair said cheerfully, waggling it in her fingers. “The Dormouse did it.” It looked uneven. Seon-jae gave her a suspicious look and reached for some more kimchi.

Hye-won had gone to eat with the King of Hearts at his favorite place for ox-bone soup. The air was full of smoke. The soup ahjumma was leaning over the fire, stirring a large pot. “There's too much pepper in that soup,” Hye-won said to herself, sneezing. There was certainly too much of it in the air. The only ones in the room that weren't sneezing were the the soup ahjumma and a large cat that sat on the hearth grinning from ear to ear. “Please would you tell me,” Hye-won asked,” why your cat grins like that.”

“It's a @crazycat, that's why,” she returned shortly.

“I didn't know that @crazycats always grinned; in fact, I didn't know that cats COULD grin.”

“They all can,” retorted the soup ahjumma, “and most of them do.” At this point she took the kettle off the fire and began throwing everything within reach at the customers. The fire irons were first, and then a yellow saucepan and a teakettle.

“Look at that ahjumma! Oh please, watch out!” cried Hye-won.

“I'm looking,” agreed the king. “Find out what days she has off.”

When the ahjumma brought their orders he tried to get her to talk, but she just said, “Tell me if you need anything.” The door creaked open and she wheeled and sent a blue-and-white bowl through the gap. There was a thud and the door shut abruptly.

“I will.” He winked.

“I guess I'll be going,” Hye-won put in hastily, as the ahjumma started to lift a large electric dakgalbi pan.

The afternoon she met Seon-jae at school to practice the Rachmaninoff was the day he left his jacket in her office. That was the time he didn't realize he had no key until he was standing in front of his house unable to get in. He called her for help only to discover that she had found the key and beaten him home. This was when we were treated to the view of the electric meters in the hall, the fluorescent light, the blue-and-white bowls in the sink, the teakettle and yellow saucepan on the stove, and the round dakgalbi pan on the bottom shelf. We saw the bottles of cooking sauces and oils and the jar of toasted sesame seeds. But we didn't see when the light blinked and went out, or when the largest bottle rattled and burst its lid open.

We saw the two of them sitting on the roof looking at the moon and then scrambling to hide when the March Hair and the Dormouse arrived unexpectedly. He went to face them, she hid in a storage shed under a tarp. A couple of alley cats attacking each other just outside her shelter made her jump and scream, knocking over a box and dropping dust and cobwebs on her head. She was at least as loud as the cats. The Dormouse charged out to chase them away. “Go! Go! You little!” One fled to the next roof, the other just disappeared.

The Dormouse went back inside. The March Hair was trying to wheedle Seon-jae into buying her a new chain for her necklace. “Knew it!” he exclaimed. “I knew there was... well... I have something to tell you guys.”

Hye-won thought she was safe when the Dormouse left, but one of the cats startled her again by suddenly appearing on top of a pink duffle bag. It was the @crazycat. “What ever happened with the soup ahjumma?” it asked.

“Oh! Uh... she's going to see him.”

“I thought so,” it said, slowly disappearing, starting with the tail and ending with the grin. Then the head came back. “You found out when she has off?”

“Second and fourth Mondays.”

“Ah,” the head evaporated except for the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. “Well!” thought Hye-won, “I've often seen a cat without a grin, but not a grin without a cat! ”

The Dormouse walked the March Hair home. “I thought you'd cause a scene at least,” he admitted, throwing his arm around her neck. “About that chain...”

Seon-jae went out on the roof, to find Hey-won dirty and a little shell-shocked. “I hate to tell you to wash your head, but...you need to go wash your head.”

The next day the duchess was in a bad mood as usual. “What's with you, Oh Hye-won? Where's my @crazycat?”

“What? The soup ahjumma's @crazycat?”

“Soup ahjumma nothing. It's supposed to be my @crazycat. It was supposed to be me sitting with the @crazycat feeding my baby.”

“Sneezing at the pepper? I don't know where it is; it disappeared. But... what do you mean, baby?”

“You're so annoying!” the duchess slapped her. “You've seen him. Woo-sung. With the plaid suit.”

Hye-won took a deep breath and held her cheek. “Eh-h. Your hands are really strong. THAT baby?”

The @queennafre made her day by piling it on. “What's with your face? You should fix her habit of hitting people.”

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Rabbit Sends a Little Lizard

 Chapter 5: The Rabbit Sends a Little Lizard
(Secret Love Affair - Alice in Wonderland Parody) 

From a distance Seon-jae saw the March Hair talking to someone, gesturing to that confounded necklace. When he looked again she was coming down the path towards him. He bent over and took another shovelful of dirt, trying not to catch her eye, and tossed it into the wheelbarrow. “Hey,” she called, “Can you look at this necklace for me?” He stood up. He saw that the other person was Hye-won, and that she was now talking to the white @luvhollanlop rabbit.

That the one you had before?” he asked. “It's broken. Just toss it.”

But it's pretty.”

Ask Kang then,” he replied, gesturing to the lizard, who had the other shovel, and turned back to the pile of dirt.

Hye-won had thought it was funny that the March Hair had tried to hide the necklace. “It's ok,” she had told her, “I'm pleased you like what I used to wear.” She had headed up the path again but was stopped by the rabbit.

Why @mariannavishniakova, what are you doing out here?” it asked. “Run home this moment and fetch me another bow-tie. Quick now!” She was so startled she went off at once without trying to explain the mistake it had made. She went in without knocking and went up the stairs. The first room she looked into was full of little girls in pink tutus doing ballet exercises. To a very badly played piano. In the second room she found, on a table by the window, several bow ties and a dish of celery. Almost without thinking, she picked up a stick of celery and took a bite.

Kang put down his shovel and held out a hand. “I'll take a look at it,” he offered. Seon-jae hacked at the dirt to break up the clods and threw another shovelful into the barrow. He looked up at the house. The sound of the piano, with many wrong notes and off rhythm, filtered out of the window. It was just about more than he could stand. He stabbed at the dirt some more and looked at the sky as if to say, “Why me?” In another moment he had thrown down his shovel and was stalking towards the house.

As soon as she swallowed, Hye-won began to feel strange, kind of sick and bloated; but she didn't realize what was happening until her head hit the ceiling. “I'm getting bigger?” she thought, as she knelt down on the floor. In another minute there was not even room for this, and she tried lying down and wedging one elbow against the door and the other arm out the window, with her shoe in the fireplace. She heard feet pounding up the stairs and supposed it was the @luvhollanlop rabbit, coming to get her.

She was wrong. It was Seon-jae. “Stop torturing me, seriously!” he raged, shaking the pianist and knocking over the piano bench. The little girls screamed and fled down the stairs and out of the house. “I can't stand hearing it any more!”

This guy is crazy!” gasped the accompanist. “Someone report this psycho!”

Anyone would go crazy, listening to this every day!” he shouted. “Try it the way I tell you!” They grabbed him by either arm and dragged him down the stairs as he gave his last shot, “Your posture is incorrect to start with!”

By this time they had discovered the giant hand sticking out of the window. The rabbit wanted it taken away as well. There was a long silence. Hye-won could only hear whispers now and then, such as, “Do as I tell you, you coward!” At last she spread out her hand and made a snatch in the air and heard a shriek and a fall, and the crash of broken glass.

She heard the murmur of many voices talking together and made out the words, “Where's the other ladder?”

Kang's got the other. Kang! Fetch it here!”

No, tie 'em together first!”

Who's to go down the chimney? Kang!”

Oh! So Kang's got to come down the chimney, has he?” thought Hye-won. “This fireplace is narrow, but I think I can kick a little.” She drew her foot as far down as she could, and waited until she heard scratching and scrambling about in the chimney close above her. Then she gave one sharp kick.

The first thing she heard was a general chorus of, “There goes Kang!” Then the @luvhollanlop's voice calling, “Catch him, you by the hedge!” And then a feeble, squeaking voice.

That's Kang,” thought Hye-won.

Presently she heard rustling outside the window. The rabbit's voice came in clearly, “A barrowful will do,” and a shower of small red objects came rattling in, followed a moment later by something that looked like a half-empty wineglass until it hit the wall and shattered into a thousand pieces. Hye-won picked up one of the red things. It was a cherry @ktomato.

Considering what the celery did...” she thought, and popped it into her mouth. As soon as she was small enough to fit through the door she ran out of the house, passing the crowd waiting outside. The poor little lizard, Kang, was being supported by the @Llamaesque, who was giving him something out of a bottle. Seon-jae was nowhere to be seen. Hye-won ran on down the path and disappeared into the @greenwood96.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Advice From a Caterpillar

 This chapter comes a little out of order according to Alice, but it needs to come here according to the SLA cannon.

Chapter 4: Advice from a Caterpillar
(Secret Love Affair - Alice in Wonderland Parody) 

Hye-won wandered away to where an @ash623 marked the beginning of the @greenwood96. A large @ktomato was growing there, about the same height as herself; and when she had looked around it to the right and around it to the left, it occurred to her to see what was on the top. She stepped back to get a better look and was surprised to see a large caterpillar playing a spinet piano.

It stopped playing to take a look at her. “Who are YOU?” it asked.

“A piano teacher,” she answered.

“Not a ballet teacher? I can't abide ballet.”

“It's the accompanists,” she sympathized. “They get lazy. Come play for me. I have a concert grand.”

“A grand.” He wiggled down off the @ktomato.

He liked the padded door to her piano room. “It's nice in here,” he said. “It's like a cocoon. I could stay in here all day.” They did. They played solos for each other and duets by @chingulinka, @kalidreamz, and @suchadiva42; and were only interrupted once, when the duchess came by.

“Set me up with HIM!” she exclaimed, side-stepping a bevy of little girls in pink tutus that ran through screaming when she opened the door.

“Out!” roared Hye-won.

“Not ballet!” shrieked the caterpillar.

They didn't even eat. The ahjumma brought a them a dish of celery and they didn't want it. “I thought a caterpillar would like celery,” she said.

At the end of the day, Hye-won pinched the caterpillar's cheek and said it was a special compliment. The next week she invited herself over to the @ktomato to watch him play the spinet. Climbing up on top, she stepped on something that burned her foot. “What is this?” she yelped.

“Glu- glu- glue trap!” the caterpillar sputtered.

“Why does this hurt so much?”

He grabbed some leaves and tried to pull it off. “It will hurt a lot. Endure it a little bit.”

“It'll hurt a lot but you want me to endure it only a little bit? Oh – ahh!” as he jerked harder and it came off. And then she yelped again as he picked her up in all his many arms and carried her down the @ktomato to wash her feet with soybean oil.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Caucus Race

Chapter 3: A Caucus Race
(Secret Love Affair - Alice in Wonderland Parody) 

They were indeed an odd-looking party that assembled on the bank, all dripping wet and cross. The dodo took charge. “The best thing to get dry,” it said, “would be a caucus race.”It took off running.

“I don't know though, Dean,” called the @queennafre as she followed the dodo at an increasing pace. “Wait, I need to talk to you.”

Catching up, the duchess objected, “you're not getting any of my admissions spots.”

“I only need one, just one,” Kang the lizard panted, falling behind.

They came to @threemaples growing at the edge of the sand and began running around each other and the trees, watched by a @junebugg and a @fireflygal buzzing high above. The lizard came around a tree and found himself facing the duchess. “You what – where do you think -” she kicked him in the shins. “Give me the nominees list,” she cried, throwing water in his face.

“Yah!” he sputtered, catching her handkerchief to wipe with. “Why would I plan with you if you're being like this?”

“If I call the gryphon now will you join hands?” He tried to grab the phone from her but she bit his wrist and beat him over the head as he tried to ward off her blows with his hands.

“What are those two doing?” wondered the @fireflygal.

“They always play like that,” sighed the @junebugg.