PopCornucopia is all about free associative pop culture tidbits as they strike my fancy, just like kernels of corn exploding into fullness at a random and unpredictable pace. And of course, the cornucopia is the horn of plenty.

Friday, June 24, 2011

City Hunter: It's Lee Min Hotter than July

I thought I could contain my L-O-V-E. But the dam has broken. I had to share so you can all catch the wave as its cresting.

Bursting forth, City Hunter is quickly skyrocketing towards being one of my all-time favorite shows. I'm on tenterhooks hoping the ride to the finale will take us into the stratosphere. I will seriously be crestfallen should this be Rocket Love like Daedalus and Icarus instead.

But we're flying high right now and I intend to keep it that way. This fan-freaking-tastic Korean Drama is on the air now, and I am constantly refreshing YouTube after it broadcasts, hoping some kind soul has posted it with English subs. Safe to say, I am full on addicted. No signs of relenting.

It has everything: compelling love interest, taut action, the tension between vengeance and moral rectitude, patriotism and honor, political intrigue, and complicated family relationships, especially twisted roots of paternalism. Not to mention, there's the right dash of comedy (of both the romantic and buddy varieties) thrown in for good measure.

Sure, as with any show, there are a few suspensions of disbelief required, and the interweaving coincidences can feel far-fetched at times, but trust me, this show does its thang so well, you'll pardon those instances. Its gripping storyline, pathos, visual palette, and solid directing make for the perfect all-in-one entertainment package. The venerable Dramabeans recaps tells it better than I ever could. Hit that up to get the premise, and some fab color commentary along the journey as you hop on this show's bandwagon, and never look back.

But I just have to put my two cents in on this one. First, the characters, oh the characters, and the actors playing them make me giggle with glee, clench my fists, and vibrate with emotional resonance. Not a bad apple in the bunch, but these are my fave performances thusfar. Really, more an excuse to rattle off some fun nicknames. Roll call please!

Mr. City Hunter himself, Lee Yoon Sung played by Lee Min Ho a.k.a. Moonlighting Korean Adam Lambert, a.k.a. day job: bein' smexy and employing superb histrionic abilities.
Good bye Goo Jun Pyo, hello tortured hero with complexity, compelling backstory, and total badassery. He's taking mega-smoldering thespian to the highest level possible in the KDrama realm. Okay, I'll admit it, I initially only tuned in for his unbelievable hotness, undeniable charisma, and clear acting chops. (Oh really, that's all?) But this is definitely LMH's finest project to date. And he's so good in this. Dark knight, stealth secret agent, cold womaizer/flirtatious playboy, hurt lovelorn puppy, passionate paramour, brow-furrowing caregiver, friendly joshing jokester, verbal sparing partner, childish brat; he pulls off every single facet without missing a beat. Chameleon skill in spades. Can we all just agree this is a tour de force?

I mean, before City Hunter, I would say this might've been one of his finer works:

Kim Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Means I love you, Kim Nana played by Park Min Young: Obvs our heroine. Judo champ, presidential bodyguard, Yoon Sung's destined ladylove. Sweetness and strength in one pretty and petite package. Irresistibly warm, but with tenacity. Self aware and owning her mistakes but still being able to muster moxie. Min Young, dearie, you're def taking this a notch up from the beloved Sungkunkwan Scandal. Though there's probably some carryover love from that time you turned yourself into a little kimbap sushi roll (3:43):

Prosecutie, Kim Young-Ju played by Lee Jun-hyuk: Shrewd and determined by-the-booker, he's got a good cop facade with a hidden guilt complex. He's the City Hunter's sometime nemesis, sometime ally.

Big Daddy Cane, Lee Jin-Pyo, played by Kim Sang Jung: Basically there ain't no half steppin' with Yoon Sung's adoptive father, hellbent on revenge. And he wants to get the job done. Kill or be killed is this dude's philosophy.

Ajuhssi Mommy a.k.a. Bae Man Duk a.ka. Shik Joong, played by Kim Sang Ho. Yoon Sung's surrogate mother figure in the shape of a hobbity home shopping man, displaying surprising gumption, tenderness, and just an occasional touch of mystique.

Now with a cast like that, plus some other steady showings from their colleagues, you cannot be led astray.

It was about as good a show could get. A riveting start, then further drawing me in, and amping it up at every step. And then in this week's episode 10, semi-SPOILER ALERT, they went and incorporated a major plot point that is so relevant to my own research it hurts. Ha, I guess that's only a spoiler if you know about my academic alias ;)

As if I couldn't love it anymore. Now, I might even get a chance re-watch(though I'd do that anyway) and analyze it in a scholarly capacity. It's like the writers wanted to give me a nice late Happy Birthday present. Too. Good. To. Be. True.

Thus, the dam broke. The enthusiasm overflows without shame.

For those of you who balk at my newfound obsession with KDrama, balk no more. And just watch this show. NOW, NOW NOW.

FYI: Press the cc for subtitles.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

NorCal to North Sea #5: Strange Fruit Salad in the Summertime

Summer is nigh upon us, here in the Northern Hemisphere, and with it, delectable seasonal fruit and festivals.

For Dutch friends, Rotterdam-based Strange Fruit, always puts on some great shows all year long. In particular, North Sea Jazz Festival is coming up, with a killer lineup as always. And the strange fruiters are just one of the participants in the adjunct festivities.

But for those of us in other non-Nederlands more Bay Area-like realms, an unusual cornucopia of a different sort is uniquely available to us. While many of indulge in the common variety of stone fruit, melons, and berries on offer, there are some off-the-beaten-path treats that I've discovered over the years. Pack these goodies in your picnic basket, and head to the FREE Stern Grove Festival in SF, where everyone from The English Beat to Chali 2na are doin' their thang.

Cara Cara Oranges
These are my favorite oranges, hands down. While blood oranges are more notorious for their color, I find their taste to not be the best balance between tart and sweet. Cara Caras achieve this balance and do so without fail. I've never had one that didn't tickle the sweet while still maintaining that lovely citrus tang. Not to mention, they're usually super easy to peel and boast a gorgeous blush pink inner flesh. Technically they are fading out by the time summer rolls around, but if you can catch some, grab 'em! And for you lucky South Africans they start emerging in August!

Via Apples and Onions

Hybrid Vigor
Mango Nectarines and Pluots are just two fine examples of hybrids or cross breeding that you'll find in California. The legacy of Luther Burbank lives on. For those of you not in the know, he was a famous horticulturalist whose plant breeds revolutionized agriculture. You can even visit the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens in Sonoma, CA, right over the Golden Gate Bridge, north of San Francisco. Anyone fancy a mini road trip? Screw the yuppies and their wine tasting weekend getaways, there's a wider world of fruity goodness and botany out there.

The mix-a-lot produces some seasonal magic that will surely delight you if you try it.

Here's a fascinating article on Plum-Apricot hybrids and their differences.

Rainier Cherries
Holy crap. Best cherries I've ever tasted. I was in Seattle last month, and boy was I sad these gems were not yet in season. But if you are in the Pacific Northwest anytime soon, get yourself a bag, or two, or ten. Not only do they have a rich golden-red exterior, they are firm yet sweet and juicy without being runny. And while I have much love for the classic Bing Cherry, not only because it's a California original, stamping the history of Asian Americans' agricultural labor in the Central Valley, it doesn't manage to achieve quite as clean and crisp a flavor profile as its above-heralded offspring. And the Rainier's ombré skin is too visually gorgeous to ignore.

Rainier Cherries from 3rd and 4th Generation Farmers from Tim Mar on Vimeo.

For more RC food porn, check out this blog.

Jenerik Plums

So, this was the only decent photo (top right) I could find of these. Is that because I spelled it incorrectly?

Snapped a few pics in the shop today: French macarons in prog... on Twitpic

These are my latest find at my go-to for years, Sunset neighborhood, locals only pride, 22nd Avenue Market. It's a great mix of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean and Asian selections (yeah there's halvah right alongside lemongrass, dolmas sharing space with rambutan), accompanying a great variety or California Produce(OMG purple kale and broccoli rabe) that is a gourmand's wet dream at take-home prices.

Featured in bags out front, I couldn't resist trying these little babies. They start with a initial burst of sweetness, but that almost immediately transitions into the intense tartness territory. Apparently, they are quite popular amongst Lebanese consumers, enjoyed with a dash of salt. Maybe I didn't get the sodium ratio right, but I like them fine pure and on their own.

Texture-wise and taste-wise, they're a bit like a cross between a very slightly sour barely ripe plum and a green grape. But if you ever liked Warheads, Super Lemon, or Sour Punch, then think of these as their healthier, fruitier, rounder cousin.

So friends, enjoy the bounty of summer. Your taste buds and tummy will thank you!!!!!

Take us out Corina!

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