Friday, April 18, 2008

Korea - The Wedding Itself

The Bridal Couple: my brother David, and Hyun-Mi. (photo by Karin Bryson)

During the wedding ceremony: Hyun-Mi looking beautiful, just as her name suggests. (photo by Karin Bryson)

Wishstones that fill an empty tree stump - Haeinsa Temple - pre-wedding, different location (photo by Kathleen Bryson)

Near Haeinsa Temple (a picture I liked that I forgot to post, pre-wedding, different location) (photo by Kathleen Bryson)

David and Hyun-Mi, after the wedding (photo by Phil Bryson)

Wedding ceremony with laden table and (live, and still alive) chickens... (shamanist ceremony) (photo by Pat Bryson)

The Wedding, with Mi's Japanese friends in formal dress in the foreground

The Wedding... (photo by Pat Bryson)

The Temple... (photo by Pat Bryson)

My Dad, Phil! (photo by Pat Bryson)

The bride Hyun-Mi and her sister Soo-Mi (photo by Pat Bryson)

Bride and Groom (photo by Pat Bryson)

Bride and Groom 2 (photo by Pat Bryson)

Bride and Groom 3 (photo by Pat Bryson)

Bride and Groom 4... (photo by Pat Bryson)

Here comes the bride (photo by Pat Bryson)

My new sister-in-law Hyun-Mi and me... (photo by David Bryson)

Family after Temple hike (photo by David Bryson)

My brother David growling with the bears. (photo by David Bryson)

David and Mi on Paradise Island - Odeo (photo by David Bryson)

David and Mi, Cavers! (photo by David Bryson)

Kaving in Korea... (my family decided that the word "cavers" was a lot more hip than the word "caveman" or "cavewoman", or the anthropological "cave-dwellers". We saw so many gorgeous caves - 5 or 6? Loved them. (Photo by David Bryson)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

South Korea

At Haeinsa Temple - me, Mom, dad, David and Mi.

The Tripitaka scripts - the Koreans invented moveable type several centuries before the Gutenberg press - they are housed in a special room by the temple at Haeinsa. (From Wikipedia: "It is the world's most comprehensive and oldest intact version of Buddhist canon in Chinese script, with no known errors or errata in the 52,382,960 characters which are organized in over 1496 titles and 6568 volumes. Each wood block measures 70 centimeters in width and 24 centimeters in length. The thickness of the blocks range from 2.6 to 4 centimeters and each weights about three to four kilograms.")

A particularly beautiful fountain on Odeo.

Odeo Island - the topiary looks like Dr. Seuss.

The temple was so beautiful...

At Odeo Island ("Paradise Island") - most of the statuary was Greek while the topiary was Korean, but this seemed a touch of the Americana to me.

My brother David and his fiancee Mi!

You can place a rock on top of the temple and make a wish...

First sight of Busan after 23 hours of flying - looked like a candy Disneyland with all the neon.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

All Bottled Up

Yay! I just got a message from my UK agent saying that she totally loves my genie novel All Bottled Up. I thought she would, since she adores Matchbox and it's similar in tone, but I hadn't heard anything for a few weeks. It's part of a trio of "lighter" novels for which I have written either the entire manuscript (The Matchbox) or the proposal All Bottled Up). The books are all linked, but they're stand-alone as well. It's kind of fun to write cheerier, slapstick stuff, though there is enough darkness/quirkiness in all three so that I don't feel like I've sold out. They're like Gregory Maguire's Wicked, I guess. Which is no bad thing. It doesn't have to be all angst and tenderness, all the time, and that doesn't mean it's being dumbed down, either. You know, I liked Stardust just as much as I liked Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and that's quite a bit.

The main character in All Bottled Up, Morgan Mothrey, is very fond of perfume bottles, and so that chimes in nicely with my most recent post.

Here is the synopsis:

All Bottled Up

Novel: 65,000 words. Setting: current-day Portland, Oregon.

Food tester and minor cable “celebrity” Morgan Mothrey invokes a genie, a good-looking fellow name of Jim Scox, who starts to fulfill all of her dreams, despite his great love of bad puns and anagrams. But soon she discovers that, as a textbook chauvinist pig, he has desires of his own, ones that she finds herself fulfilling as well. It’s the ultimate battle of the sexes, one that makes Taming of the Shrew look like I Dream of Jeannie, and one which turns the whole genie myth upside down and gives the bottle a few shakes to boot.

For as the gameplay and wordplay and stakes with Jim Scox grow higher and more complex, and her own ambitions and wishes ever more grandiose (Twelve swimming pools filled with green champagne! Six boyfriends slavishly devoted to her every whim who all can cook as well! Seven-league high-heels! A functioning remote control!), Morgan begins to realize that some of the power might be her own. And not just in a post-feminist metaphor way, but really her own: all signs are pointing to the fact that she is herself an incarnation of the well-known genie Gremory, who was depicted in 1583 by Johann Wier as “appearing in the form of a beautiful woman with the crown of a duchess tied around her waist, and riding a camel”. This troubles Morgan, to say the least. Particularly the camel.

It’s also troubling that Jim the Genie’s power seems to be waning as the perfume in his bottle dries up, and unless she figures out his latest oneupmanship battle-of-the-wits puzzle with which he’s been baiting her, one which involves a trio of his ex-girlfriends, the genies Wickifer, Djinnifer and Nancy, she’s screwed (back into her own bottle, it seems).

Most troubling of all is the fact that Morgan and Jim are falling head over heels in love. This is despite the bad puns and fierce rivalry.

Part fairy tale, part detective story, all word play, All Bottled Up reminds us in all the best possible ways that common anagrams for “I dream of genies” are “a fireside gnome”, “faerie smidgeon” and “maiden fries ego”.

Just as in The Taming of the Shrew, here’s to frying all egos, always sunnyside-up.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Confessions of a Perfume Transvestite

Perfume. We watched the movie two nights ago - the book was a birthday gift my girlfriend gave me after we'd been together a month. She is German and of course Patrick Süskind is a well-known German writer. I always loved it; it was so sensual and so twisted. I loved the movie as well. It was perfectly cast and they manage successfully to get the idea of scent across in a medium that lacks it. The lead, Ben Whishaw (?) was amazing and terrifying, perfect for the part. I would love to call him up and ask him if he wants to be in Spaceships Over Corvallis, a little later down the road, when we've had the kudos for The Viva Voce Virus buzzing in our heads and it's officially finished.

I have always wanted to be a perfumer (parfumier?) and indeed would organize perfume-making contests for my class when I was in fourth grade/ten years old. I remember judging one particular contest and awarding first prize - $2, maybe? - to another little girl who later admitted that she had used strawberry-scented shampoo as her "perfume". I had urged the contest makers to mix their mothers' perfumes with different vanilla food flavoring and peppermint extracts. The strawberry winner showed chutzpah, though, so I didn't think that she had cheated.

I got my first chemistry set around the same time, and I am fairly sure that the experiments I tried, after making invisible ink, were those where you were concocting rose smells and rotten egg smells. Probably that same year, my friend Melanie received a perfume sampler set from her grandma full of beautiful, differently shaped tiny bottles, and I coveted it dearly. I was always trying to get Melanie to mix some together to create an entirely new perfume, but I don't think she ever fell for it.

I have always been INCREDIBLY picky about which perfumes I have worn myself, with a few exceptions in the 90s where I just wore Gaultier, which I was neutral about, because I loved the bottles so much.

I am fairly sure that I have always loved musk, and therefore from my teens often preferred male colognes over overly sickly sweet fragrances. I recall borrowing my ex-boyfriend's Pierre Cardin and Lacoste colognes, and possibly even Brut, in the late 80s/early 90s. I have a feeling I would still like these were I to smell them again, if nothing else than for nostalgic attachments to particular colognes. My girlfriend (also a perfume gender rebel) wears Kenzo and Lolita Lempicka for Men and I like these on her a lot too, and wouldn't feel too uncomfortable stealing a squirt, but I am not sure I would seek them out and *pay* for them. I also prefer some women's perfumes even more than men's colognes (god forbid it should be the same word!), so I guess I am not really a perfume transvestite at all, but more like a perfume switch-hitter, a nefarious fragrance bi-scentual.

Here, though, is a backwards chronology of those perfumes for which I have laid out good money (or little money) in my time to purchase, picky as I am, alongside reviews of their qualities. I wonder whether I could concoct the perfect perfume all for me, using these descriptions, and having the expertise (which I clearly lack). Maybe I will mix them all together one day.

I am 18 - 22 years old. I have just left Alaska and moved to Sweden and fallen in love. I am introduced to "Paris" by my new New Yorker friend Georgia, a fellow exchange student who is my polar opposite (organized, preppy, ambitious in a Working Girl movie kind of way that I detachedly admire), but with whom I (flakey semi-philosophical punkish neurotic small-town Alaskan free spirit) inexplicably hit it off, becoming friends after she lends me her Egyptian-cotton towel after I realize I forgot my stained ratty one after an impromptu bikini dip in a cold Swedish lake. Obviously I managed to remember my bathing suit, but dismissing my towel as something less important seems kind of par for the course for me back then. Anyway, Georgia saved me from hypothermia and introduced me to "Paris".

"Aromatic, Floral, Fruity. Designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1983, Paris is an exquisite, floral fragrance. It is the result of the following top fragrance Notes: mimosa, orange blossom and linden. The middle notes are: moss, violet and ylang-ylang and the base of the fragrance is: amber, musk and iris. Paris is recommended for romantic use." - from The Perfume Emporium

I am 22 - 25 years old, living in Seattle. I have just finished college and can't find a job except telemarketing. I have realized I am bisexual. I am painting a good deal and just beginning to show people my writing. I am on the periphery of the Queer Nation/ACT-UP political movement. My friends are as messed up and lovable as I am. I am wearing the Body Shop's essential oil (for men) "Activiste" - also known as the less-Frenchified "Activist".

"Top notes of citrus, a spicy heart of cedarwood, ylang ylang and armoise, and base notes of sandalwood, patchouli and amber. Oriental in style, and active in approach." - The Body Shop International

I am 25 - 27 years old - I move to London for drama school, join Lesbian Avengers, fall in love, finish drama school and can't find a job. My girlfriend gives me the Body Shop's "White Musk" as a first Valentine's Day present and I love it.

"The smell of this perfume is really nice. White musk is really hard to describe but it has almost a talcum powder smell but more posh and strong - perfume experts must think I'm mad! It can be worn day or night, as it has one of those versatile scents that is suitable for all occasions which is why it is one of my favourites." - from DOO YOO

"Fragrance Notes: Top: Musk, Lily, Ylang Ylang, hints of Galbanum and Basil Middle: Musk, Jasmine, Lily, Rose Base: Musk, Jasmine, Rose, Iris, Amber, Patchouli, Vetiver, hints of Peach, Oakmoss, Vanilla" - from The Body Shop

I am 27 - 30 years old; I'm living in London, dabbling with Gaultier perfumes because of the doll-shaped and snowdome-shaped bottles, when I discover that I love the Body Shop's vanilla perfume spray even more than "White Musk". Why do I love it? Because it smells like Play-Dough. To my horror, after only several years of wearing it, it is discontinued! I buy up as many bottles of "Vanilla" as I can. I have started an MA and am working in a publishing company. I am still too broke to buy more than 6 bottles of "Vanilla" even at 75% slashed prices.

"A refreshing, non-greasy body mist that moisturizes and helps to soften the skin, leaving it subtly scented with a sweet, warm and spicy vanilla fragrance... Bergamot, peach, strawberry, orange flower, jasmine, plum, ylang ylang, vanilla, sandalwood, amber and musk... have been blended together to create the sweet, warm and velvety vanilla fragrance." - The Body Shop

I am 30 - 32, and have just finished my MA in film, and my first book Mush is coming out soon. After reading a description of "Hypnotic Poison" in a fashion magazine, I think to myself that that sounds like something I would love, and guess what, I do. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever smelled.

Here's what a customer reviewer on eopinions said: "A few months ago, after hearing so many raves and reading tons of rave reviews on the internet, I decided to go and test Hypnotic Poison by Christian Dior. It's been out since 1998, so it isn't anything new to the market, but it was new to me. I was so excited to test out this scent that was being reviewed and advertised as a man-magnet (not that I needed to be a magnet since I do have a boyfriend, but I was still curious to see what this thing was all about)! Jeez..I'm a girl and girls love to smell pretty to everyone around them, right? :)... So, I stopped by Ulta, and walked up to that red bottle again, and VERY LIGHTLY misted my wrist from a far, far distance. Wow..the air smelled SO GOOD. I thought it must've been something else sprayed by another customer. was just me there. I put my nose to my hypnotically poisoned wrist, and I felt stuck. My nose was stuck to my wrist. I was captivated by the way it smelled. But this was supposed to smell like a rootbeer float with playdoh on the side. I sprayed a paper card again to see if maybe this bottle might have been a fresh one and the one I tried months ago might've been old. NO! I smelled the rootbeer mixture again! This stuff really does smell different on SKIN than it does on PAPER, or even from the nozzle.

Hypnotic Poison, according to basenotes, claims to have: "..the result of the following top fragrance notes: bitter almond, caraway and jasmine. The middle notes are: moss, sandalwood and oakmoss and the base of the fragrance is: vanilla, musk and cedar." On my skin, I could smell the warmth of vanilla, but in a non-sugary, non-foody way. I could smell the bitter almond keeping this fragrance from turning sickeningly sweet. The rest of the ingredients mingled together to form this gorgeous, intriguing, alluring, and very sexy scent. It becomes a part of you when you put it on. I recommend that you please try this on your skin if you're interested in it. It smells completely different on my skin than it did on paper. After about 30 minutes, it just keeps getting better and better. The lasting power is AMAZING! At least 24 hours!

I am 32 - 34 years old, and encounter the amazing scents of Philosophy Baby Grace fragrance in Sephora in New York, and I am hooked. I think it smells better than anything I've ever smelled before. Clean, fresh, perfect, new. It's a new century as well.

"Baby Grace is a sophisticated, clean scent formulated for women who are young-at-heart. The perfect scent for those who love the way a baby smells... Notes: Poppy, Green Accord, Pink Mimosa, Pepper, Creamy White Woods, Musk. Style:Light. Clean. Slightly Sweet." - from Sephora

I am 34 - to present, and I am working on directing my first feature film. I move back to the States. I can't find a job. My second book Girl on a Stick and my third book He's Lucid are accepted for publication. I am reeling from culture shock after having been away a decade and then straight into the mouth of the Bush-culture beast. I am wearing... Karma by Lush.

"Complex citrus and patchouli spread light and love... Karma is a proper perfume, not an eau de toilette, so a little goes a very long way. It's made with patchouli to make you more objective and orange oil to revive you when you're frazzled. Lavender refreshes, pine brings happiness into your life, lemongrass lifts your spirits and elemi ought to make you feel joyful. Once you've sprayed a little on your wrists and taken a good sniff, dab it on everyone you know to spread love and light all over the place." - from the Lush website