Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Top 5 things Korea will miss about Todd

1. All the camera’s he left behind.

2. Getting schemed out of a karaoke bar.

3. The pick up line: Hey baby, ever been to Mexico?

4. His ability to crash a scooter, and shadesville his way out of it.

5. Who knew one man could drink so much Soju? You have honored this beverage.

The Plan

Alright, so I'm coming "home". I said I'd say it here first, and I am. With my usual sense of gusto and timing, I was hoping to pull off some sort of surprise, but I fear the cat is destined for freedom from its bag-like imprisonment.

Why the quotes on "home?" Well, I don't exactly have one, since everybody is everywhere. In a lot of ways, I guess I'm leaving home, since here I have a place where my bed and TV are. Anyway, I didn't post tonight to wax philosophic, but rather to reveal my plan, so here goes:

On the night of December 19th, I will finish work and have a party, certain to be the social event of the season. The party will certainly continue well into the 20th.

On Saturday the 20th, I will fly to San Francisco (on Singapore Air! Yay!) at 5 p.m., throw back a bunch of Singapore Slings, and hopefully catch some sleep as it is an overnight flight. I will then land in San Francisco at 11 a.m... on Saturday the 20th. the fuck? My flight actually involves time travel. This is fortunate, as my buddy Wiley will pick me up at the airport, and we will immediately haul ass to Reno. I'm hoping said time travel will allow me to win big in the sports book. After a night of booze, blackjack, strippers, Taco Bell, and general debauchery in Reno, Wiley and I will drive to Lawrence, and we expect to arrive on the 23rd, or the 22nd if we make really good time. After 1 (or possibly 2) nights in Larry, I fly to Baltimore on Christmas Eve, just in time to get my Christmas shopping done.

Plans are far more tentative after that. And by tentative, I mean completely non-existent. I plan to go to the Inauguration (on January 20, duh) and I assume that I'll fly to both Chicago and Florida before then.

Anyway - Lawrence people (ie, Lawrence, Kansas City, St. Louis, Topeka, Wichita) - you know the bars I like - December 23rd - be there. Chicago people - I'll see you soon after. I suppose I should end this blog so that I can call my parents and update them on this.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stuff I'm not looking forward to in the US

-Douchebags. Sometimes I forget how much I hate generic white people that I don’t know. A couple weeks ago in Itaewon, I was in a full bar filled with whiteys, and I wanted to kill most of them. Frat boys, hipsters, hicks, they all suck. Some guy was wearing a Star Wars trucker hat. I thought about asking him if he wanted to be me Friendster friend.
-The absolute need for a car outside of New York and Chicago.
-Bitchy girls that dress badly.
-Jobs. There’s not a single job in the US that I could conceivably get that I would want.
-Health care. I mean, come the fuck on.
-Once again, 2 a.m. last call. Or, more like 1:15 for a 2:00 close.
-Open container laws. Walking down the street with a beer rules.
-Commercials. I can pretty much avoid them here, as Korean TV runs minimal commercials during a show and then a big block between shows.
-Smoking bans.

Hey, I'll be announcing what my immediate future plans regarding my return to the states soon - and in this space first.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stuff I won't miss about Korea

-Protectionism. I never pegged myself as a free-trader, but the protectionism here drives me crazy. Every western chain restaurant here is like double the price it is back home, except for good old McDonalds. Outrageous prices for computers (except Apple products, which are actually cheaper given the exchange rate), western-branded clothes ($150 for fucking Levi’s?) consumer electronics, cameras (having bought 5, I should know) and worst of all, airfare. The going rate for a round-trip flight from Seoul to Jeju, a Korean island, is $120, but the going rate for a flight to Fukuaka, Japan (equidistant from Seoul as Jeju) is $400! Seoul to Bangkok ($650) is about the same distance as Chicago to Vegas ($200). I know the international-ness plays a role, but not that much. Bangkok to Penang, also international and about the same distance as Seoul-Tokyo ($500) was 80 bucks.
-The won. I fucking hate the won right now. See Here. And it’s gotten worse since then.
-Points and stares from local kids... and adults.
-The language. I don’t know it.
-Christianity. Korean Jesus freaks (and there’s a lot of them, way more than you’d think - The Christian vote won the last election) are insane.
-The general craziness much of the populace - as witnessed during the insane anti-American beef riots last summer. I mean, if you want to be pissed at America, we give you lots of good reasons to do so, but to almost overthrow the government over beef imports? Really?
-Overpriced or rare staples, such as ranch dressing. Yes, that’s a staple for me. Leave me alone.
-Music - mostly. I’ll admit, I like more shitty K-pop songs than I ever thought I would. But, when there’s a BIG HIT (like The Wonder Girls’ “Nobody”) I hear it in every bar and restaurant and coming from every store and it’s every kid’s ringtone. Yet, once the BIG HITS go away, they’re never heard from again. Ever.
-Covering secrets, or rather, brushing over past black marks that aren’t necesarily secrets because everybody knows about them. For example, the National Museum at Gyeoungju (a lovely town I was in last weekend) had a large time line of Korean history, explaining the various empires and dynasties that ran the peninsula over the past 3 or 4,000 years, finishing with the Republic of Korea from 1948 to now. Yet, they called the period between 1893 and 1948 the “Korean Empire.” Of course, this was the Japanese Occupation. This would be similar to a “Cherokee Empire” established by Andrew Jackson, or a “French Empire” started by Hitler in 1940.
-Also, traffic sucks, but traffic sucks everywhere, so whatever.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Stuff I'll miss about Korea

-Soju. Getting plastered for 2 bucks is awesome.
-Short skirts, even in the winter. It’s fantastic, really
-Late night bars. 2 a.m. last call will be a rude awakening. I often don’t even go out until 2.
- Convenience store tables. This is a brilliant idea that every country should immediately adopt. Sitting at a table of friends out front of Mini Stop drinking beer and soju rules.
-Transit. There’s no need for a car in this country. The subway goes everywhere, taxis are dirt cheap and surprisingly honest (I’ve passed out in them and gotten home for a fair fare).
-In-country travel - There are cheap trains and cheaper nonstop buses leaving Seoul for every city of note in the country pretty much every 5 minutes. Once I get to wherever it is I’m going, I can get a decent motel room with a big bed, a big TV, a high-end shower and free porn in the center of whatever town I’m in for $30 a night.
-Easy to meet girls, and getting phone numbers usually just requires holding my phone out.
-Internet. Yeah, the internets are everywhere, but here there’s an internet cafe on every corner and free high speed wireless pretty much everywhere.
-Barbecue. The crown jewel of Korean food. Great to go out with a group of people and cook samguepsal over charcoals. Ssamjon sauce and soju just improves it.
-Time. I wish I’d done a bit more with it since I have so much. My commute is 5 minutes by foot, and last month, including prep time, I spent 30 hours a week in the office. When I factor in commute, meetings, and built in lunch breaks at my previous job in Chicago, I spend half as much time working here.
-Noraebang. It rules.
-Cheap smokes. 2.50 a pack, for every brand, at every store, even the airport. Plus, I can smoke them most anywhere too.
-Of course, my friends here. One of them even once got me Taco Bell. A cool bunch.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Well, my Korean time is nearing its end. in light of this, I've decided to make some useless lists. I'll start with the positive: Stuff I'm looking forward to in 'Merica

1. Taco Bell
1a. Taco Bell
2. Seeing friends, family, all that good stuff - preferably at the Bell

The others, in no particular order:
-Food variety in general (ie, not Korean, McDonalds, pizza, spaghetti, and cereal for every single meal)
-Easier access to, um, society?
-Cheap flights - I miss me some Southwest
-Music. I’m so out of the loop, I think I have maybe 20 songs on the pod that came out after 2006, most of which are shitty K-pop songs
-Pop culture in general
-Sports. I keep pretty damn up-to-date and I have a playoff-bound fantasy football team, but I’m excited to see live games at reasonable hours
-Sensible stores sell stuff I’d be interested in buying
-Regional variety - Korea is small enough that the weather is pretty much exactly the same all over the country all the time.
-Driers. I hate hanging my clothes.
-Ovens. They don’t exist here. Of course, I only use them for frozen pizza, but whatever.
-Karaoke - American style, where you sing to the whole bar
-Beer. Korean beer sucks and it’s overpriced at the grocery store

Friday, November 21, 2008


First off, I would like to congratulate J Hak for breaking records. Job well done.

Picks for this week. Oklahoma will win at home against TT. It’ll be close, though. I was wrong last week, but again I like KC to beat Buffalo at home. This is Herm’s last year…right? The Titans will stay undefeated, and the Giants defense will be too much for Warner (and God) to handle.

And finally, I’m adding to my list of people I can do without. The new additions are:
Baristas that are jerks because “it’s their thing.”
Jokesters that have a quip ready for everything you say, and it’s painful to hear.
People who sit next to me on the train when there are many open seats.
Anyone who thinks Ohio State still deserves to play for the National Title.
Anyone who is in favor of the BCS.

One new addition to people I can do with: Anyone wearing a monocle.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lost weekends

It got cold in Korea. Like yesterday. I’m already pretty sick of it. My favorite watering hole, a plastic table outside a convenience store, is now essentially worthless. C’est la vie, I won’t be here too much longer anyway. My flight out is scheduled to happen, well, it’s not scheduled yet, I could be leaving here anytime between last Thursday and February, I’ve been told pretty much anywhere in that range. The main thing, I guess, is I’ll be on an outbound flight soon, to Baltimore. Or Chicago. Maybe KCI. Could be Florida. Vegas isn’t off the table. Then, there’s always New York, LA, San Francisco, Istanbul, Bali, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Guadalajara, or Boracay. I suppose the point is, I have absolutely no idea when I’m leaving, where I’m going, and what I’m doing when I get there. I’m okay with this. Sure, I can’t sleep at night, but that’s where our good friend alcohol comes in.

And oh, our friend has been friendly lately. Over the last 4 weekends, I’ve been good for one low-key night (no black-outs, spending under $30, home before 5) and one borderline catastrophe each time. The catastrophes have taken place all over town - Hyehwa, then Itaewon, then Hongdae, and at my home bar of No Block.

Hyehwa was a humdinger at a bar that features $3 whiskey shots in a town where they usually cost 7. My group ran up a $240 tab, though it was a large group. A noraebang was later involved. When I got home, I took a look at my loft, where my bed is. No way I was gonna climb the stairs/ladder up there, too plastered. I looked at my couch. It had my backpack and coat on it. No time to clean up all that mess, too plastered. Nope, in the classiest move possible, I grabbed my couch pillow and the blanket that covers my chair and hit the floor.

Ladies love the noraebang!

So does Martin

Itaewon was a halloween disaster. In a brilliant mobilization, I managed to recruit a large group of my neighborhood buddies and co-workers, even the guy that works at my local convenience store, and managed to get them to congregate at one bar. Amazing. After weeks of planning, I could only get 5 people to go out for my birthday, but on Halloween, I wrangled like 20 people out. Highlights of this night include my “incessant hitting on” of the co-worker chick I dig. Not my words, but those of a witness. Apparently, I also had some sort of drunken “why don’t you like me?” speech directed at her. I believe this was shortly after I had a long argument with the bouncer at Spy Bar about why I shouldn’t have to pay a cover, and how I wasn’t like these other people. Neither conversation resulted in the end that I was hoping for. Fortunately, I don’t remember any of these things, therefore, they never happened and did not count. If they did, I’d certainly be embarrassed. I do remember leaving the taxi at my house and going to a convenience store, where I made the guy working there make my some instant ramen, as my motor skills had regressed beyond the point of doing such things at the time. Then, I woke up on my goddamn floor.

Danger lurks for Don

Sadly, I also lost the horse mask. Here is its last picture.

Hongdae was far less eventful. I discovered my new favorite bar, a van on the street that sold drinks to go, Khoa San Road style. Plus, the drinks were cheap, refills were half price for one, and the guy had a heavy pour and served all kinds of fun ridiculous drinks like mojitos, mint juleps, and Singapore slings. Sadly, I was dragging in Hongdae, as I’d been walking all day and was tired, and I got fairly plowed by 11 yet stayed out until after 5. Highlights included texting the co-worker girl at 2:30, which I remembered doing; and possibly texting a former co-worker that I was all about for all of 2007, but haven’t contacted at all this year. You see, I have an old phone, and it doesn’t have the memory to save outgoing texts, only incoming. Thus, I’m completely unaware of anybody that I may drunkenly text unless they respond, which I’ve determined may not be a bad thing. After all, if I send an embarrassing text at 4 a.m., if the recipient responds, it’s cool. If they don’t, I’d rather not know that I ever sent it. Anyway, the reason I think I may have sent 2007 girl a text is that she called me clear out of the blue the other day, and she mentioned me sending her a text a little while ago, and this seems like the only time I would have done it. Whatever, she called, so if I did it, it worked.

Me with my Korean friend.

Last week, a large group of us went out to No Block. I left my apartment to buy a pack of smokes, ran into a couple people on the street, and ended up being out for the night. As like the other weeks, a lot of drinks were served. I’d had 3 Long Islands at No Block when we left to check out another bar, and the bar charged me for 2. I actually argued with them that I owed them more, because I can’t try to pull one over at my home bar, but they insisted we were square. Rain, everybody’s bartender hero, even gave my buddy and I free to-go cups of this new drink he had just concocted. That covered the grueling 2 minute walk to the other bar. Nothing much happened all night, but I did succeed in losing my keys and becoming temporarily homeless, which was awesome. For a while I thought that, like Nelson Muntz’s father, I had gone out for cigarettes and would now never return home. Fortunately, I managed to get in the next day.

Rain - the best bartender in Asia

That was Friday night. I haven’t really had much beer since then. It’s hard to sleep with all the future unknowns hanging over my head, but I’ve found completely ignoring them and playing Ninja Gaiden (NES version) gets me through the day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You Know Who’s Worse Than The DMV?

The post office. More specifically, the closest post office to my apartment. But, I think in general, yes, they have taken the crown away from the DMV to become the worst place you have to go. In case you were wondering, the top 5 worst places to be are:

1. The bottom bunk when your roommate thinks you are asleep and decides now is a good time to have sex with your (ex) girlfriend on the top bunk.
2. Post Office
3. DMV
4. Dentist
5. A pity invite to a Thanksgiving Dinner…but you actually show up, making for an awkward moment, and then on top of that the food is bad so you have to spit it into your napkin and feed it to the dog. Not that I’ve been there.

So there you have it. The post office is above the DMV, mainly because of…well…How often do you really have to go to the DMV? Probably about as often as you go to the dentist, or graduate high school – every four years. (I’m about to start my 3rd High School!) The post office? At least once a month for something. And it doesn’t matter what time you get there. It’s always bad, and they don’t care. There’s always three people working, and only one spot opened. I don’t know what the other two people do, but they aren’t helping you, and they don’t care.

At least when you go to the DMV, you can expect a fight. You know what you’re up against. You know it’s going to suck, and if you happen to get out of there in under an hour, chalk up a win and use those extra 3 hours on catching up on the latest internet porn, or pop in that “Pool Tricks to Impress The Ladies” DVD you bought at a Walgreens for 2.99 three years ago.

When you go to the post office, for some reason I feel like there’s false hope. When you walk in, you think, maybe today the line won’t be so bad. It’s 10AM on a Tuesday. Who’s at the post office? Everyone. 1PM? Everyone plus their family. It doesn’t matter. I swear I’ve even seen a few tents camping out the night before.

I suggest making post office employees work for commission. How ever many people you get through, that’s how much money you make. People would be busting their ass to get through their lines. I recently had to go to the post office 4 different days to accomplish one thing – turning in my passport application. I wanted to get the ball rolling before November 4th, just in case I had to bolt to Canada.

Congrats to OBAMA. And how about a little love for our 100th post at Sports That Are Right? On that topic, I have a few upsets I’m picking this week. The Chiefs will get over the hump and beat the Saints, and Dallas will come out firing and beat Washington. Keep an eye on Baltimore at NYG, will be closer than you think. Titans will stay unbeaten.

In case you missed it, check out my latest trailer: www.bathroommovie.com

Monday, November 3, 2008


Well, today's the big day. I know I'm a little late in this, but Nintendo is Right, Nascar is Wrong is pleased to endorse Ron Paul for president. We feel that the only mistake his noble campaign made was in failing to select Sarah Palin as his running mate.

On a serious note, if McCain wins, then make sure you download Skype, because that's the only way you'll see me for the next 4 years, unless you make the trip to Asia.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

10 years

Disclaimer: no jokes today. If you don’t care about fantasy football, please bear with me and read anyway.

I’ll start on a light note. I lost to my brother in fantasy football, which cost me 50 bucks. On paper, I had the better team and the better match-ups, but he beat me, again. I think that’s 6 in a row now. It wasn’t a good day in fantasy football. Still, it wasn’t my worst day in fantasy football. Not by a long shot. See, my worst day in fantasy football also happened to be the worst day of my life. It was 10 years ago today.

My opening fantasy football season was in 1998. I actually bought a book, an honest to god book, about the 1998 fantasy football season prior to draft day. In those days, fantasy magazines were rare and websites were unheard of. I co-owned a team with my buddy Doug. Doug and I were friends since high school, and we had worked together at Kwik Shop, having already worked together at McDonald’s. We joined the league through our boss, and his middle-aged son Mark was the commissioner of the league. With no internet help in those days, poor Mark had to tabulate each week’s scores via the USA Today’s Monday box scores and run it on an Excel spreadsheet, which, I shit you not, he actually mailed, like, through the postal service, to each player in our league every week. Mark was a dentist, so I don’t know how he had time to tabulate every score and mail it out to 12 guys each week, but he did.

Doug and I were all fantasy football all the time in August of 1998. I was between apartments at the time and living at Doug’s, in his second bedroom, which we had dubbed “the war room.” The whole room was decorated with Kansas City Star sports pages from the Chiefs’ dynamite 1997 season. Yeah, we were geeks. We both memorized the starting quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and tight ends of every NFL team, and would constantly quiz each other in preparation for the draft. Clearly, we were well prepared come draft day, a live draft at some guy’s house in the Kansas City suburbs. It was the only way to do it in those days - there were no internet leagues and nobody had a cell phone. For the record, Terrell Davis fell into our lap in the second pick, after the overall number one draftee foolishly picked Favre.

I got my own apartment after the first week of the season, and my old man had Chiefs tickets in those days so I went to all the home games. When the Chiefs were on the road, I always went to Doug’s to watch the games and so we could follow our team as best we could, which meant watching the Chiefs, and whatever game (that was broadcast in our region - no DirecTV in 1998) had the most relevance to our fantasy team.

The team was really more Doug’s than mine. I mean, I certainly cared every bit as much as Doug did, and we always discussed any free-agent or other moves that we made with the team, but Doug put up the money. Thus, Doug was the one who actually called in our starting line-ups every week. Again, in those rudimentary days, we had to actually call Mark to tell him who we were starting, and the call had to be in by 9 a.m. on Sunday, despite the fact that games didn’t start until noon.

After week 6, we were 3-3, and Doug was going out of town for a few days with his sister on a road trip to Utah. We played some Tecmo Super Bowl 3 and went to lunch at El Mezcal to discuss - what else - fantasy football. It was up to me to put in the call that week, so we agreed on a basic framework of who we wanted to start, but as Doug would be out of town, I had the final say based on potential injuries.

I woke up early on my old man’s 49th birthday, Sunday, October 25, 1998 to call Mark. I was a bit nervous about my bold call to go with J.J. Stokes over Terrance Mathis as the third receiver, but San Francisco had the better match-up. (or something, I don’t actually remember. I just know I didn’t want to make the wrong pick).

“Hey Mark, this is Jaehak. I’m just calling to put in our lineup.”
“Yeah, Jaehak. Doug’s out of town this weekend, so...”
“You didn’t hear.”
“Hear what?”
“There was an accident.”

I can’t do this in dialogue.

Doug was driving home from Utah through Colorado, 30 miles east of Denver or so, at mile marker 312, and likely fell asleep. Doug could always fall asleep anywhere. His sister was asleep too. The car rolled into the embankment. She was wearing a seat belt. Doug wasn’t. She survived. Doug didn’t.

We won our fantasy football game, largely due to the heroics of Terrell Davis in a game in Denver. TD never knew how much he meant to a kid that died a few miles away a few hours before. I went to Doug’s funeral. His mom called me earlier in the week to see if I wanted to get anything I may have left behind at Doug’s apartment. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go there. I couldn’t deal with it. I wanted to speak at the funeral, I had something prepared, but I couldn’t do it. Other than his sister, I was the last one to see him in Lawrence. I played him at Super Tecmo Bowl 3 less than an hour before he left on his fateful trip.

We won the next 9 straight and made the playoffs as the top seed, mostly due to the heroics of Terrell Davis. I hate the Broncos with a passion, but I’ll always appreciate Terrell Davis. We lost in the first round of the playoffs though. I really wanted to win for Doug, but fantasy is a fickle game, and sometimes you run into a young Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison buzz-saw.

I still think about it all the time. I think about how Doug never did anybody wrong in his life. Everybody says that about dead people, but in this case, it’s true. I’ve done lots of horrible things, as have all of my friends. Doug never did. Maybe, when dead at 21, he never had a chance to. I think about how awful that time was for me. The remainder of October and then November of 1998 was unquestionably the worst time of my life. All of my friends lived out of town. All I did was sit and watch TV. I didn’t go out, I didn’t socialize in class, I just went to class, did homework, and watched TV. I think about what an utter flake and failure I was. I didn’t hang out with Doug’s other friends, I didn’t do anything in particular to help his mom or his sister that was goddamn on the scene. I wanted to cut myself off from everybody that was close with Doug instead of trying to keep his memory alive. I was a selfish asshole and I couldn’t be bothered. At least, I think that’s how I was. I know I didn’t drink a lot in the weeks after Doug died, but I remember almost nothing of it.

More than anything, I think about how I miss my friend, Doug Eaden. I still do.

Monday, October 20, 2008

World Series

I gotta say, the baseball gods surprised me on this one. For the first time in 15 years, I don't have some sort of personal vendetta against either team. I was certain after game 5 of the ALCS that Boston would be in it - and win it - again. Overdramatic comebacks is just what they do, like the Elway of baseball. Yeah, everyone loves a comeback, but in those cases, I hate the Red Sox, and I hate (not hated, still hate) John Elway.

X-Sports Korea (playoff baseball is always broadcasted on cable TV here, though at strange times) certainly thought Boston wold win. After the game, they showed highlights while playing the Dropkick Murphy's song Tessie, a song about the Red Sox and used in the horrible movie Fever Pitch (It was on HBO, I was in Baltimore with no money and nothing to do... shut up), clearly not thinking to change the song to something Tampa/St. Pete related (Glen Miller?) because to the Korean producers of the telecast, a western baseball song is a western baseball song. I gotta say, I loved listening to a song praising the Red Sox while watching highlights of them lose.

The only problem with two likeable teams - who to cheer for? Usually, this would be a no-brainer. The Phillies are a long suffering franchise from a real city with rabid and loyal fans, while the Devil Rays are a recent expansion team from a fake city in a horrible state with a domed stadium and legions of bandwagon fans, plus they changed their name to appease the religious right. They are more obnoxious than the Rockies in some respects, except for the fact that Colorado people, for the most part, are even more ridiculous than Florida people, and the fact that Rockies fan, by and large, like John Elway. Yet, I worked for the Devil Rays and attended over 50 of their games, including the last MLB game that I saw in person. Plus, despite their horrible previous records, they didn't just come out of the ether like last year's Rockies or the 2003 Marlins. They had been improving for years, despite their awful record.

Am I annoyed and perplexed that all 4 recent expansion teams have made it to the World Series while the Cubs keep getting swept and the Royals keep falling well short of the playoffs? Of course. I suppose, however, that I can bitch about the Royals ineptitude later, and the Cubs ineptitude for the rest of my life. Today, I'm just glad we have a series with two fun teams.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

With appolopgies to the Ryan Howard Method

I fail with girls a lot. Almost certainly more than you do. I fail for a plethora of reasons. I come on too strong. I come on too weak. I come on too slovenly. I come on too handsome. I come on too drunk. I fail because I don’t call. I have no fewer than 20 girls numbers in my phonebook that I never called a single time; at least 10 of which I have no memory of who they even are. Why don’t I erase them? Obviously, that takes effort, and the English menu on my phone is quite cumbersome and illogical. The only numbers I’ve erased were done publicly, to prove some sort of point. I fail because I call too much, though less often here as I’m pretty quick to quit. Hell, sometimes I even fail recreationally. One time, I used the winning line “hey baby, you ever been to Mexico?” This was to a random girl on the street that probably didn’t speak any English.

The point of all this? I really don’t get upset about failing with girls anymore. Right now, I am, in some capacity or another, talking to 5 different girls. Sorta. Last week, 3 of them were sitting next to each other at the bar, so I played it cool by completely ignoring all 3, though I should have talked to them. It’s not often I get the opportunity to fail with 3 chicks at one time.

Since I arrived in Asia 2 years ago, I’ve dug or hit on something like 17,000 girls, and obviously failed with a large majority of them, well over 16,000. On all but three cases, I haven’t cared at all. On three occasions, I have. One of those times, perhaps the most severe, happens to be now. While I’m not officially out of the game with the current object of my affections, I’ve been doing this for long enough to know when fail is in the air. This isn’t pessimism, it’s logic and experience. Same way I knew the Cubs were finished after game 1. Yeah, there’s two more games to play, but there was no reason to pay any more attention. If you have any doubt, here’s a complete and unabridged account of out conversation at work today:

A little before 3 p.m, when she arrived at work

Her: Hello
Me: Hello
7 hours later, when I was leaving
Me (to a group of three people): Bye
Her (in chorus with said group) Bye

Anyway, make sure you come back for my post in 10 or so days. It won’t be upbeat, but it won’t involve silly girl shit, and I hope will be well written.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fun Web Searches for Our Site

So, I just recently (like, an hour ago) found a way to look at some stats for our lovely blog. There are a list of key words that people search for, and it shows you how many times somebody clicked on our google search link. The biggest traffic we get? People looking up the diggery do. Go ahead. Search for it. We are the number 3 slot that comes up. And if you search digger do instrument, we are number one.

Other funny search phrases that we get associated with:

myspace mascot
1974 baseball playoffs
3 different searches for "11 up"
nascar shit
air asia stewardess (okay, I'll fess up to searching for this one)
nintendo impersonators

and, my personal favorite, "dropout life ruined." I'll be damned if someone searches "happy flower paradise" and can find Nintendo is Right, Nascar is Wrong.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Economy Minus

So, I’ve had a couple good adventures the last couple of weeks. The Saturday before last, I:
  • woke up to a text from a buddy telling me a girl that I thought was a lost cause dug me
  • stumbled upon and attended a K1 kickboxing event
  • somehow lost my camera at that same event, or in a taxi, while sober - that's #4
  • got news from the same buddy that he’d miss the evening’s bar plans, as would the girl
  • went to a party at an all-you-can-eat-and-booze-for-3-hours joint, ending sobriety
  • stole additional booze from the restaurant, drank it on the street with buddies in transit
  • met co-workers at a bar across town, including a girl I’ve liked forever
  • finally got her number shortly before she left for home
  • drunkenly went with Don to a local bar - the venerable No Block
  • met two girls at the bar, but Don was passed out and couldn’t wingman.
  • left No Block with the hot girl I’d been talking too the last couple hours
  • made out with said hot girl in front of her (and her parents’) apartment
  • got home at around 7 a.m.
Then, last weekend, I went to Busan with Don, and as Busan trips generally entail, the weekend involved boozing, gambling, clubbing, fireworks, sushi, and Mexican food. Busan doesn’t disappoint. We even had a couple forays on to Texas Street - the seediest street in all of Korea, populated by dockworkers, Russian mafioso, and whores (complete with a giant banner over the street proclaiming “Welcome US Navy”). Korea is a country pretty much totally devoid of guns, but the word on the street is you can get anything you want on Texas Street within 20 minutes if you know who to ask. We were there, of course, for beer, a rare brand unavailable in most of Korea.

The funny thing about these two events weekends was that after them, Don was in hock to me for about 700 dollars. Really. Although, not exactly, which is my really reason for writing tonight. See, Don owed me (he paid me back) 700,000 won. One year ago, one dollar was worth 900 won, so at that time, 700,000 won was about $777. As recently as March 1, it was 940 won to the dollar, and on July 28 it was about even, $1 = 1,000 won, so that 700k truly was 700 bucks. Today, it’s a ridiculous (and decade or so low) 1393 won to the dollar, so that 700k is worth $500! So, ever “dollary” (1,000 won) that I have has dropped to under 72 cents in a couple days over two months. And that’s the dollar, the whipping boy of the currency market.

So, for those of you who may be considering visiting, come out! You’ll be ridiculously rich. There’s never been a better time to visit Korea. For people like, uh, me, who are looking to leave the country in a couple months (for the U.S. job market! Everything’s okay there, right?) it’s a bit less awesome. Better enjoy these ridiculous drunken adventures and the relative life of luxury that I’ve grown accustomed to now, since I presume life will be considerably worse when I’m crashing on people’s couches and begging one of my bosses from one of my many illustrious $7.50 an hour gigs for my old job back. Or I should stay put and ride it out. Or, everyone’s favorite Plan B: Mexico.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

노래방 파이팅!

Every now and again, a normal night out at the bar turns epic. You know this. The change can be shocking. Last Friday, I was at my usual haunt with the usual crowd, ordering my usual drinks from the usual bartenders, and chatting up the same questionable blonde girl that I see at the usual bar every single time I go there. She is, to some extent, a human B.A.C. machine, commencing conversation with her (as I do every damn Friday) pretty much means I am no longer capable of driving, if driving were an option here. Then somebody, likely me but maybe one of my friends, mentions the noraebang. The night just got interesting.

I’ve spoken of the noraebang before, and if you are familiar with the concept, feel free to skip this paragraph. Noraebang (노래방) directly translated means “singing room.” It is Korean karaoke. However, unlike karaoke bars in the U.S., there is not one bar with a stage, but a series of private rooms that hold anywhere from 2 to 20 people. Unlike the rugged individualist West where one could walk into a karaoke bar alone and make a drunken ass of oneself in front of a large group of strangers, the collectivist East runs rooms like these, where one goes with a group of friends to make a drunken ass of oneself in front of only one’s friends. Noraebangs sell beer, but it is outrageously overpriced, so nobody (at least no westerner) goes to a noraebang before getting railroaded, and everybody smuggles booze in and the guys that work there never try to prevent this, despite the fact that the customer obviously has 6 litres of beer under their T-shirt.

Anyway, only three people, all dudes, were in to the noraebang idea, so clearly it wouldn’t due for us to get our own room to serenade each other. I suggested we that we crash one, thus making our noraebang adventure much more interesting and cheaper, ie, free. We headed off to a nearby noraebang (they’re on pretty much every corner in this country) and attempted to walk through to the hallway to the rooms. Unfortunately, as we walked the wrong way at first, the guy that worked there was on to us instantly. He asked us in broken English which room we were in. We ignored him, and started walking down the correct hallway (taking our shoes off before entering the hallway, of course, we aren’t jackals) to the rooms. He followed us, still asking where we were going. Our plan seemed doomed to fail.

My buddy Martin, in an absolutely brilliant move, whipped out his phone and started pretending to talk to a nonexistent friend that we planned to meet. The noraebang guy kept asking us where we where going, but Martin, in an Oscar-worthy twist, held his finger in one ear while yelling repeatedly into the phone “I can’t hear you. What room number?” Two random Koreans, on cue, walked out of a room just in front of us, and Martin said, “Okay, I can see you now,” and hung up the phone.

As the strangers walked out of the room, we walked in to a large group that seemed as excited to see us as we were to see them. The group accepted us instantly, and Martin and Ryan offered to go buy some booze, which the group of Koreans were also happy to hear. Probably happier than they were to hear our renditions of American rock songs, as none of us have much aptitude for K-pop. After a half hour or so, most of the Koreans still in the room were asleep, so we took our leave. Still, I’d like to think that while making our night with silly random drunken party-crashing, we also made the nights of the crashees.

These people are all total strangers

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Somebody owes me whiskey

Airport security, in case you haven’t been paying attention, is completely absurd. The goals are utterly reactive, always trying to fight yesterday’s threat, and the methods for checking said threats are spotty at best. So far as I know (and TSA-wise, I’m a bit out of the loop) the newest wrinkle is still the liquids thing, due to the attempted terrorist threat in London just over two years ago. The key problems, in my view, of the liquids thing is that a) the “terrorists” (assuming the morons that attempted the London plot could even be considered this rank) would not be trying the same thing again - they’ve proven to be pretty adaptive and forward-thinking; and b) the London plot, from what I’ve read, had next to no chance of success, even if these people did get onto the plane with their explosives. So, as a result of this, we are only allowed 100 ml worth of liquid per bottle on a plane, so long as the liquid is in a plastic bag.

Since the London threat, I’ve been on several flight segments, no fewer than 20 in Asia, and I’ve never checked a bag. Obviously, as I travel with tooth paste, gel deodorant, and other liquids, I smuggle this contraband onto every single flight. Up until my last flight, I had never been caught. If an idiot like me, who is more often than not two-thirds in the bag by the time I go through security, can get away with carrying liquids onto planes over 95% of the time, then how the hell does airport security intend to catch an actual terrorist? At the very least, even the laziest terrorist would be sober when passing through security, giving them a distinct advantage in surreptitiousness.

I’d had a good run at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on my recent trip. I had to pass through it 4 times, and the first three went without incident, it seemed much better organized than before. (If you want to read my thoughts on this airport last year, AND you are my Myspace friend, you can go to myspace.com/helluva_lawnmowers and click on the blog link) The fourth time, it got me. It was fate.

Like countless other fliers, I was carrying liquids in my carry-on, as I was only traveling with a carry-on. I had a pint of Thai whiskey and some sunscreen, amongst other things. The whiskey wasn’t for the flight, as Asian carriers serve free booze anyway, and it was sealed. The sunscreen was a half-empty 125 ml bottle of Nivea. Nivea has a strange sunscreen monopoly in Asia, and costs over $10 for a small bottle, even in cheap countries. The rest of my items were deemed kosher by security, but they stole my whisky and sunscreen, because they exceeded that magic 100 ml mark, despite the fact that the whiskey was sealed and there were no more than 70 ml of sunscreen remaining.

I was pissed, to lose my overpriced sunscreen that can only be replaced in Korea by overpriced sunscreen, and especially to lose my Thai whiskey, which cannot be replaced at all. Why didn’t I just check my bag at security, you may ask? At most other airports in the world, this could be a solution. However, at Bangkok, one passes through customs, but not security, to get to the secured airside portion of the airport. All of the restaurants and duty free shops and smoking lounges and whatnot exist beyond customs, but before security. One only passes through security right before arriving at the gate, so beyond security, there is nothing to do. Nothing. Steel Chairs and a bathroom. Not even a vending machine. Having been to BKK airport before, I knew this, and thus didn’t go through security until final boarding call, making it too late to check a bag. Somebody, be it Thai airport security (just following orders, chief) the terrorists (not bloody likely to buy) or the crazed fear-mongering securinati, owes me a fucking bottle of whiskey. The sunscreen I’ll chalk up to experience.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jae Hak's Summer vaction part 2 - Bankock Boozing

I returned to Bangkok. When I left Bangkok a few days before for Malaysia, I was road weary, sans camera, and a little hungover. Upon landing and having a shocking 3rd easy run through what I had thought was a horrible airport, I was ready to rock. I returned to the same hostel (I knew I wasn’t going to need a comfortable or even private place to stay after 5 days of being rejuvenated on the beach, just somewhere to pass out) and immediately made friends with some random people. After having a couple beers with them at the hostel, I headed off to nearby Patpong. Bangkok has a curfew, all the bars are theoretically supposed to close at midnight or 1, and when I stayed on Khoa San last year, that was very much the case with most every bar. Soi Patpong seemed to survive in a bubble where no such laws applied. Even convenience stores in Bangkok stop selling beer at midnight, but on Patpong, make-shift stands with ice buckets sell beer on the street at 7-11 prices until, well, fortunately I never had to find out, they were always around when I needed them.

Patpong is most famous for two things - its night market, and ping pong shows, which creates an insane and surreal mix of sex tourists (easy enough to spot, as they all tend to be the cliche you would expect - middle-age to old German guys with mustaches) and families. At little road side food stalls, at one table will be a family of Australians or something, mom, dad, 2 little kids, on vacation and going shopping. At the next table will be a 57 year old German guy with a Thai whore too young to be his daughter. Plus, the street has tons of bars and clubs filled elbow-to-tit with late night Khoa San backpacker refugees and drunken English teachers such as myself. It’s awesome.

While sitting at a bar that proved to be my Patpong home, an outdoor bar adjacent to a large open-air club (but with breathing room and cheaper beer) I watched the whores hanging out just outside the bar. Apparently, like vampires, they cannot enter the bar area, despite the bar’s open-air nature, unless they are invited in. I noticed one, who was a total knockout, get invited to one or two tables, then quickly jettisoned to orbit around the bar once more. I began to wonder why, as a couple random 57 year old Germans with mustaches were sitting next to much uglier and whorier whores. When I went to the pisser, I walked to her orbit and asked her why she kept getting expelled. “I don’t know.” she said, in Barry White’s voice. Ah. Good thing I’m not in the market for “her” services. I can usually spot a ladyboy/drag queen at 50 paces, but “she” had me tricked. At least after 97 beers.
A bartender at my home bar took me to a ping-pong show after another beer. I’d always wanted to see one, but nothing could prepare me for how awful it actually was. The bartender told me it was the best one on Patpong. I wouldn’t want to see the worst. Ugly, overweight (Asian!?) girls who seemed really bored and begged me for money every three seconds like it was a Greyhound bus terminal. I left after 5 minutes, and I only spent that long to drink my 750 ml beer that I paid 9 bucks for (an outrageous price for a beer in Thailand under any circumstances).

I went to a lame normal club, and entered junior high. The girls in the club (all of them western tourists) were on the dance floor, and all of the dudes at the club (again, all western tourists) were sitting at tables. I went to the pisser, which had a bathroom attendant, whom I laughed at when he asked for a tip. I fucking hate bathroom attendants. I am much more likely to give money to a panhandler than a bathroom attendant. Get a job, or do something respectable, like panhandling. I went back to the junior high gym. Nothing had changed. I sat down at my table. A girl beckoned me onto the dance floor. She was not cute. If I had to choose between going home with her or the ladyboy I ran into before, at gunpoint, would be a tough call. Fortunately, I had no such dilemma. I could go to one of the cheap roadside beer vendors, and go home alone, which seemed the thing to do at the time.

I drank my beer at the hostel with a bunch of people that dwindled to me and this Aussie-Brit dude. I considered going to sleep, it was after 3 and I was trashed, having begun drinking at 8 p.m. or so, but he suggested splitting a bucket. Buckets being coke, red bull, and a pint of rum, served in, well, a bucket. I considered balking. “I’ll buy” he said. Shit son, you remind me of my high school drinkin’ coach. Now, let’s drink. And so I worked on my half of the bucket for the next couple hours, as we hit on every questionable to ugly backpacker girl that happened to walk in or out of the hostel.

Overall, a great trip. I’d been on a falling plane, para-sailed, crashed a scooter twice, drunkenly jet skied, hiked through the jungle and encountered wildlife, touched a king cobra, and had a run-in with a ladyboy. Easily top 5. It certainly makes me want to go back to Thailand and hit up Indonesia this winter.

Vacation Cat is on vacation

Bank Islam

Protip: when you come across a restaurant that is both packed and serves only one thing - eat there. This chicken joint in George Town (Malaysia) kicked ass.

Standing Buddha Temple, George Town

The largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia, so the say - Penang

The king cobra that I touched

Patpong debauchery. To the right, we see a sex tourist, and to the left, a whore. Will a connection be made?

How did I end up in Harajuku? Thai Cos-play kids hanging out in front of the mall for Japan Fest
Japan Fest from the subway, I ran into this boy band in the bathroom a couple hours before - they were obsessing over their hair

Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 or 8 near-Deaths in Southest Asia (1 of 2)

I’m a little late in putting this up - been spending far too much time on searching the internets for election-related stories, and of course fantasy football. Since this is a “sports” blog, i really should write about my fantasy draft, though sadly I was unable to attend as I was somewhere in Southeast Asia when it occurred. Of course, this resulted in me scoring my best opening game in years, and all my players did well except for the free agents that I had a roll in acquiring.

I’ve tried to write this blog a couple times already, but I kept getting interrupted by random buddies showing up at the convenience store table where I wrote and wanting to booze. Today, I’m ready to go, as I’ve found a new fortress of solitude in which to hammer this thing out - at a different convenience store table, of course. Anyway, I’ll try to throw down all my trip stories in one blog, so that I can write on more topical things - like the election and fantasy football - next week. I’ll put the stories on the top, but if you are not inclined to read them, you can scroll down to the disjointed pictures in the latter half. But you shouldn’t.

I flew to Bangkok on a Saturday night, and got loosened up for the trip by a terrifying dive that my 767 took somewhere south of Taiwan. Even the stewardesses seemed a bit rattled. Not good times. I had just ordered a gin and tonic, and it had just been delivered when the plane dropped - as did the G and T, in one gulp - and I was sober at the time. I did as well as I could for the remainder of the flight to not be. Fortunately, on the flight a couple days later on an Air Asia flight to Malaysia - on a ghetto, old, clearly second-hand 737 (the signs inside the plane were in Spanish for fuck’s sake), there were no such incidents.

After going boozing my first night, I did what I came to do in Bangkok - ate tons of Thai food, bought some cheap clothes and a Malaysia Lonely Planet, and hung out on Khoa San. In doing this, I somehow lost my camera. Apparently, cameras are the new sunglasses for me. I bought my fourth camera since arriving in Asia, fifth if you count the at-the-time high end cell phone that I brought here with me from the states and lost in the spring of 2007. Worst of all, when losing or breaking all five cameras, I was as sober as a Republican when the cameras were on. I haven’t been losing my cameras because I’m a miserable drunk - that I could accept - I’ve been losing them because I’m an idiot. True story - the day after I lost my last camera (earlier this summer), I somehow lost a pack of smokes that I bought at a store that’s next to my building. Only I could lose something when a) I didn’t stop anywhere to lose it, and b) I was walking 30 feet, tops. And no, I didn’t leave them at the store, I checked.

Anyway, after buying my new camera in Georgetown, the main city on Penang Island in Malaysia, I decided I had no reason to stick around in town, and hopped on a non-air conditioned bus to the beach. Despite no AC, the bus was fairly awesome, since it cost like 60 cents to ride to the other side of the island and you could smoke on it. I didn’t, but just knowing I could was cool enough for me. I settled into my hotel, and after a couple nights of hostels and clubs and drinking an aptly-named “bucket” and shady Bangkok taxi drivers and airports and haggling for cameras and horrific in-flight dives and un-air conditioned busses, I finally felt like I was on vacation. My hotel was nowhere near 5 star, but it was perfect. AC, cable, fridge, and right on the beach. In that, I mean that to leave my room and it’s sweet deck, I had to walk through the sand to get to the road. I ate dinner at a beach bar, went to sleep at like 11 p.m. and woke up at 10. Vacation.

I spent my first day on the beach pretty much doing nothing, the farthest I went from my hotel was wherever I cruised out to on a jet ski. The next day, I rented a scooter, which I then proceeded to crash. Twice. It turns out that simply driving one in Grand Theft Auto doesn’t make me particularly qualified to drive one in real life. In my defense, the roads were really twisty, plus people drive on the wrong side of the road there, so it wasn’t like tooling across Iowa. After my first crash (a very minor one about 30 seconds after I got the scooter, that required me to pay some guy $7 for cracking his rear light) I practiced a bit, then headed to the national park to hike through the jungle. Unlike a Korean national park, there weren’t a million people everywhere. I was out hiking 3 hours and saw a total of 4 people. I found a secluded beach, and saw a freaking monitor lizard along with the ubiquitous monkeys.

Malaysia seemed to be quite advanced country - much cleaner than Korea (but so is LA) and much better organized infrastructure-wise than, say, Thailand. Still, there’s lots of fun stuff that you could never get away with back home other than smoking on busses. When I returned my twice-crashed scooter to the internet cafe guy that rented them (the second time I knocked both mirrors off and shattered one, but had it fixed up at a nearby bike shop for 8 or 9 bucks) the guy didn’t even look at the scooter. He just said, “Oh good, you’re back in one piece,” and gave me my deposit back no questions asked. Later that day, after drinking a bunch of Thai whiskey on my deck, I decided it would be a good idea to go jet skiing again. There was no deposit, no paperwork, nothing, I just haggled with the guy then paid him. Jet skiing is fun, but jet skiing while drunk is unbelievable. For some reason, I started loudly singing Doors songs and had a couple unspoken races with this Saudi couple (the dude driving of course, and the woman in full burka. On a jet ski.). Being that there were two Saudis, likely sober, and only one of me, I won the races pretty easily.

On my last day in Malaysia, I hired a taxi to go sightseeing around Penang before moving on to the airport. It was very cool, but I won’t bore you with most of it, I’ll mention the snake temple. It had a snake farm, which turned out to be pretty boring, just a bunch of smaller snakes in 10 gallon aquariums, like the reptile house at any zoo. I saw a large cage in the center with 2 enormous snakes in it, but the snakes didn’t move at all. There was a mouse in there, running all over the snakes’ heads, and I kept waiting for them to eat the mouse, but they didn’t move at all. I mean, even for snakes, they were totally still. I assumed that they must be rubber fakes, so I touched the tail of one of them, and it moved it’s tail. Okay, fair enough, they are real. Then, I noticed the sign on the cage indicating what they were. King cobras. Oops.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Malaysian food. It doesn’t get much press, and I’d never eaten Malaysian food other than once in Hong Kong. I loved it in HK, but it was also my main HK going-out night out when I had it, and I probably would have enjoyed microwaved tree bark at the time. It turned out my drunken Hong Kong taste buds were right - Malaysian food is the best. I cannot understand why there isn’t a Malaysian restaurant on every corner. It’s Asia, so it’s all rice and noodle based, and it’s something of a mix of Thai, Indian, Chinese, and Arabic. Had there been a Taco Bell on Penang, I doubt I would have gone. On the other hand, I love me some Thai food, but had there been a Bell in Bangkok, I totally would have gone. In fact, there was a Mexican place down the street from my Bangkok hostel, and I did go, and it wasn’t even the Bell.

Anyway, so much for this one-blog idea. I’ll post part 2 in a couple days, with more pictures

Batu Ferringhi Beach, from just outside my hotel

My hotel, photo taken standing in the same spot as the last one

My sweet ride

Lonely jungle beach (though WiFi on my iPod worked here)

Click and zoom, monitor lizard going for a swim

The beach from my deck before a 5 minute rainstorm

Old looking monkey

Maybe the best sunset ever

Me at the same sunset

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Leavin Town

I’m off again. Back on the road. I know it seems it’s all I ever do, but I’m still pretty excited about this trip. First, I’m going back to the BKK, then jetting off to Malaysia for 5 days as well. Flights to Bangkok were amazingly cheap last minute (don’t get me wrong, any air ticket out of Korea is a huge rip-off, but one must pay a huge premium to leave this Indiana-sized country. Then again, a drink at an airport bar is a huge rip-off as well, but I pay it, as boarding a flight sober is about almost as unpalatable as spending a week’s vacation at home) and I found an actual cheap flight from BKK to Malaysia. I had more written about this, but it was lame and dull so I cut it. Anyway, it’s my 8th and maybe final (for a while) international Asian trip, and also my most ambitious with two countries involved. This will either be a warm-up for a potential mega Southeast Asian run this winter, or a grand finale of sorts. Either way, I plan to do it up, and thus finally have something to write about.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Korean Randomness and more Olympics

First off, a couple pictures from walking around in Seoul

Those are always the best. Why haven't I been to this bar?

Nothing says Sicilian like sweet potato (the yellow stuff around the edges), mayonnaise, and, as always, corn.

Now, on to the Olympics. There are good and bad aspects of watching the Olympics in Korea. Due to my lack of knowledge in the local language, I don’t know the tumultuous back-stories to any of the athletes. That kicks ass. I don’t need any soap opera with my Olympics. Korea also broadcasts the Olympics on 4 different channels, rather than NBC’s monopoly, thus theoretically allowing for variation i n events. I’ve also enjoyed watching weird-ass sports that we never see in the US, like handball or soccer. Judo has been pretty interesting as well, along with weightlifting. The US sucks at all of these, but Korea is pretty good (well, maybe not at soccer) so they’ve been on a lot. Even badminton has it’s moments, although it seems strange to have a backyard barbecue sport as an Olympic event. I mean, why not ultimate frisbee too?

On the bad - those 4 channels showing the games? 90% of the time, they all show the same thing. One channel sometimes varies (SBS Sports, but it’s a sports channel) but the three major Korean networks pretty much always show the same thing all the time, same camera angles and everything. Not surprisingly, they replay Korean victories - a lot. I saw Park Tae Hwan’s gold in the 400 meter freestyle about 30 times. That one I understand, because it’s Korea’s first ever swimming gold, and the race is only 4 minutes long or so. But, they will also replay women’s basketball games or archery matches (which last roughly 9 hours) in their entirety as well. This brings me to archery. Apparently, Korea is phenomenal at it. Korea beat a German archer named Hitzler, so there’s that. Archery has too be the dullest television sport I’ve ever seen. That, or air pistols, which of course Korea also excels at, leading to roughly 5 or 6 hours of coverage a day of fat bastards shooting fake guns at targets 10 meters away. Korea’s women’s teams have been a disappointment looks-wise as well, especially considering how much foxy talent I see here every single day. Korea isn’t any good at sports that draw babes I guess, no Korean beach volleyball team or anything. On the badminton, basketball, archery, handball, and, amazingly, the field hockey team, there’s not a looker among them.

Before moving on with non-Olympic Korea stuff, I’d like to send out a special “fuck you” to NBC. I have no clue why they black out their online Olympic coverage (or any online programming, for that matter) outside of the US. Plenty of American channels don’t, But, the fact is, it’s both pointless and harmful for NBC. The Korean channels didn’t show the US-China basketball game live (no surprise, there were archery matches to replay after all) and I can’t watch the feed on NBC. Of course, I was going watch the game, despite being a fairly mediocre internet user, and after a couple of minutes I found the game on a Macedonian feed. That’s right, Macedonia. The feeds are out there, and NBC are idiots if they think people outside the US won’t get them through another source if we can’t get them from NBC. If NBC allowed the feed outside the US, I would have been exposed to their advertising and would have a positive opinion of the network. Plus, if I were in the US, I’d either watch the game on TV or Tivo it, I wouldn’t watch it online. Also, after the US comeback in the 4x100 relay, I had to search for 20 minutes to find a video, but I still saw it. Sort of funny how everybody’s talking about China and their ridiculous internet censorship, when NBC isn’t much better. This isn’t a law thing, as I said, other US networks show sports and programs on the internet outside the US, and NBC doesn’t just block the Olympics, they block all their shows. So NBC, fuck you. Rant over.

Funny Korean things in class - I’ve been giving tests this week (speaking tests, one on one with hundreds of students, it’s awful) and have gotten some pretty awesome answers from, uh, not the brightest kids in class. I asked one student “Do you play a musical instrument?” (and slowly annunciated each word) and he said, “Yes. I play soccer.” I asked another student, this time a middle-schooler, to name a type of food that came in a bag. His answer? Water. Pretty much the most wrong answer possible. Speaking of which, on Wednesday, I asked a student what date it was today. Granted, about half the students confused “date” with “day,” an understandable mistake, but not so much when he answered “Saturday.”

Anyway, as you made it this far into this post, which ran longer than I intended, I'll post another sweet Konglish pic. When translating to English, sometimes "C"s and "K"s can be fairly interchangeable. After all, seeing Korea spelled "Corea" is quite common. Of course, lots of times, it does matter which letter you use.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympics: Good

I love the Beijing Olympics so far, despite the fact that they kept me from visiting Beijing. I love seeing the events live, which I haven’t in forever. The Korean announcers kick ass. Every local announcer is biased, but the Korean announcers cheer and celebrate openly on air like a high school broadcasting team. It’s awesome. Imagine Bob Costas cheering out loud at a US win - that’s pretty much Korean Olympic coverage. Best of all, since I don’t speak fluent Korean, I can’t understand what the announcers are saying when they are giving the tragic back-story of each athlete. That definitely rules. Plus, I watched something like an hour and a half worth of live Olympic coverage this afternoon (fencing, women’s weightlifting, judo, some sort of unidentifiable indoor soccer-lacrosse hybrid, and other events) with exactly zero commercials.

So, you don’t follow me? You want more awesomeness to Beijing 2008? How about this - a US basketball team that should goddamn win the gold (and our first likable team that I bothered to cheer for an follow since 1996). I also love the Olympics being in Beijing (this year, at least.) It’s been since the Olympics were in this fair city (Seoul) that we’ve had such a fitting “Evil Empire” Olympic rival as China. Over the last 20 years, the Olympics have been sorely missing the USSR and the East German “women’s” team. After watching women’s weightlifting today, it’s good to see China bringing it back.

For the record, regarding team sports, I’m pro-USA basketball, but I’m cheering for Korea in baseball. The US team is only AA players or lower, and I’ve not heard of a single one. On the other hand, 2 of Korea’s starting pitchers come from my beloved Kia Tigers. In soccer, as always, I’m pro-Italy (who Korea starts against) though I hope Korea does well for the party in the streets factor. Plus, it would be nice to see Koreans take to the streets for purposes other than protesting beef or because of a couple of uninhabitable rocks in the middle of nowhere.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Birthday That

In honor of Dr. Kickass now being in the rock star death age, and for the sake of stealing jokes and getting back on the blog horse, I'll share what I did on each July 25th (or thereabouts).

1981 - Stopped being an only child, moved down a peg in my parents' esteem.

1982 - dreaded the impending move to Lawrence, as I had three girlfriends at the time. Plus, they were like 9 or 10, and I was 4, so I was pretty awesome. Seems I peaked early.

1983 - Went down to the creek with Daniel, had a couple beers, smoked some weed.

1984 - Caught what remains as the only fish I've ever caught in my life.

1985 - Watched my cousin cry because she got 7-Up birthday cake instead of a vastly inferior theoretical pink cake.

1986 - Wore a Royals Championship hat and a Bears championship shirt most every day. My sports teams were bound to remain relevant forever. See 1982.

1987 - Immediately refined and improved my headlock technique, so as to avoid any future golf club related incidents.

1988 - Re-read the Sports Illustrated "Oh, Danny Boy!" issue for the 437th time.

1989 - Bought an 8 bit Nintendo, took it to Michigan, and killed 89% of the vacation indoors playing Ninja Gaiden and Rush N' Attack. And I'd do it again.

1990 - Mowed the lawn. As I did maybe 4 times a week that summer in my glorious quest to save up for a 13 inch Toshiba TV. It seemed I was brilliant at saving money. See 1982.

1991 - Rocked out to Janet Jackson, MC Hammer, and C and C Music Factory. Good times.

1992 - Shortly after leaving Indiana Beach, spent $30 on a ring for some girl. It remains the most money I've ever spent on anybody for any reason.

1993 - Beat my brother at Mortal Kombat in the Indiana Beach Arcade. I was the only one to do so who was not nicknamed "The Legend."

1994 - Created a needlessly complicated plan with my brother to have him play lookout on the driveway in the guise of shooting hoops so that I could sneak a girl into the house.

1995 - Road trip to Chicago, my first big one. Went with Daniel. Kicked off the trip by going down to the creek for a couple beers, and to smoke some weed.

1996 - Also hit on cousin's friend. It didn't work out. The video, by the way, is somewhere in Balto.

1997 - Wasn't in Seattle in July of 97. I don't know who Joe Kickass was hanging out with. I was staying up until 7 a.m. every night playing Chrono Trigger.

1998 - Working at Kwik Shop. For some reason, I was egged.

1999 - On the verge of finishing my Internship at Entertainment Tonight, on the way to a well deserved vacation in Mexico. My ability to open a beer with a lighter would never be the same.

2000 - Called in sick to work in order to perfect a game that required bouncing a ball off of my coffee table and my walls in a certain angle and order.

2001 - Living in Florida and working for the Devil Rays. If this was a good night, Boston or New York were in town, and I made $50 in tips pouring Chardonay for cougars that relentlessly hit on me, then spent every penny of my tips at Ferg’s sports bar. If it was a bad night, then I drank water all day after not working for 8 days and spent the evening listening to Loveline on the radio - whilst drinking more water, my only calories of the day.

2002 - Driving from SF to Hollywood, where I would drink Yeltsin Vodka with my buddy Mike. In the midst of a four-month, 22,000 mile road trip.

2003 - Did a roady with my brother from Emporia to Balto. Spent the night in Kentucky and West Virginia. the first time I’d slept in either state. The hotels in both required my brother and I to provide documentation that we were in fact kin. Rode the Beast at Kings Island, perhaps the best roller coaster ever, and Son of the Beast, perhaps the worst roller coaster ever.

2004 - Shortly before the 25th, was at Indiana Beach with my brother and Njoroge. Saw Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. Even when drunk and watching on replay at 3 a.m., it was awesome.

2005 - Went to Joe’s (semi) Kickass party at Holiday. Hard to judge the funness degree as the drunkest person there.

2006 - Upon recently finishing my lucrative position in the retail explosives industry, I embarked on a career in the exciting world of food delivery driving. Also, applied for some job in Korea, though figured fuck, it Japan’s where the real action is.

2007 - Diligently involved in the process of finding a flight for my summer vacation. Ultimately, I buy a ticket to Thailand

2008 - Diligently involved in the process of finding a flight for my summer vacation. Cebu? Manila? China? Vietnam? Cambodia? Taiwan? Hong Kong? You’ll know shortly after I do.

Anyway, happy birthday, Dr. Kickass. Enjoy being old. I could recommend a good brand of canes. You’re only 1 year short from being as old as Stong was when I met him, which makes me roughly 1,000.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Birthday This

I will now try to dive back into my memory and share with you what happened on each year’s July 25th.

1981 – I was born. That was cool.

1982 – I think I said the word “Key.” I was trying to unlock some shit.

1983 – I had to up and move to Kansas from the home I made in Illinois. Lost all my friends. Broke up with my girlfriend. It was rough. I was two.

1984 – Grew my hair out. Hippy.

1985 – Broke my leg.

1986 – I was still Celebrating the Bears Superbowl victory and doing the superbowl shuffle.

1987 – I hit my brother in the shin with a plastic golf club. It was, and still is to this day, the best shot I ever had on him.

1988 – I was in Michigan celebrating the Kansas Basketball Jayhawks victory with cake and ice cream. Thanks Frank. I also grew attached to a mini video golf game that was lying around…

1989 – Birthday Party at Le Mans. Me and Njoroge beat TMNT.

1990 – Another party at Le Mans. This time we beat The Simpsons Arcade Game.

1991 – Birthday party at Alladin’s Castle (formerly Le Mans). This is what I did. I was 10.

1992 – I went tubing on Lake Shafer, and rode everything at Indiana Beach.

1993 – I nearly got arrested for throwing a peanut from the skyride at Disneyworld. I think my picture is still up “behind the fence” where security officer John brought us.

1994 – I got my first zit. Welcome to the teen years.

1995 – Got together with friends from the Varsity South Junior High Basketball team. Go Cougars. There’s a great picture somewhere…remember yearbooks?

1996 – Went to my Aunt’s house in Virginia. Hit on my cousins’ hot friend, who was apparently a model. That didn’t work out. But we did make a kick-ass video. What ever happened to that, by the way?

1997 – I was in Seattle visiting my bro at college. I drank my first beer at 16.

1998 - Hung out with Jason, Kris, and Will. There might have been an egging.

1999 – Partied like I just graduated High School…with beer stolen from parents’ fridges. Cause I’m 18 and I just don’t know what I want.

2000 - Just finished summer theatre in Emporia. First party at the Purple House. Trashcan punch party. Bring a clear liquor or something fruity.

2001 – One night left of summer theatre, we went to Desperados for Karaoke. I shared a birthday with the director. We got loaded. It was a great time. Kristen parked her car at my place (thanks for the ride home) and I told her she could leave it there, blocking the sidewalk. She got a ticket the next morning. I still feel kinda bad about it.

2002 – Twenty First at midnight. Saw Leader of the Pack at ESU Summer Theatre, then had one last illegal beer on our porch at 11 PM. Went to Babes at Midnight, and had 21 shots bought by 21 different people. A great time...till they caught up with me. I remember trying to play pool right before they closed, and not being very good at it. Some pictures to follow, thanks to Tara for bringing a camera. And thanks to Justin for keeping me alive.

2003 – Grew my hair out again. Hippy. On my actual birthday, I went to Town Royal with some friends. It kinda sucked. I turned 22. Not nearly as exciting as the year before.

2004 – Birthday in Baltimore. More drunken pool. Arminious dared me to pee on a tree (at least that’s the way I remember it…it might have been more like, “Hey Armin, do you dare me to pee on this tree? Cause I’ll do it.) I don’t take dare’s lightly on my birthday. Then we hit up the T-Bell. Great time.

2005 – 24. Entering the Mid 20s in Chicago. Played in a Steppenwolf Softball game. Partied at the Holiday Club. Bartender Dave was working, luckily. Craig tried to ride his bike even though he was laying on the ground. Somehow I think I avoided the photo booth…or I lost the pictures. That seems more likely.

2006 – 25 on 25. Bash at Dave and Busters (Le Mans / Alladin’s Castle with a bar). Julia met us there for dinner first. Fun night. Nobody was able to beat me at racing. Somehow Michelle ended up with 100 thousand tickets. They let us stay after they closed to play with the golf simulator. Me, T-Mac and C-Bear.

2007 – Dave and Busters part 2. See a pattern here? The more we change… We closed the place out. Again, they let us stay well after they closed. Me, T-Mac and C-Bear were on hole 12 when they turned the lights off. Couldn’t leave before hitting it in on 18. The guy who worked there ended up watching us and getting into the game. I think I took it down…but my perception might be off.

2008 – The story hasn’t been written yet. But lets assume it will involve drunken pool and video golf.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tour This

I love Chicago in the summer, but man, I hate all the fucking tourists it brings. And, I want to be crystal clear in my definition of tourist here, because I like to travel, I know you like to travel, and this is what separates us from them. You might be a tourist if you have 5 of the 10 following qualities:

1. Tourists wait in line for Garretts popcorn. Long lines. It’s popcorn. One tub costs like 60 bucks. For popcorn.

2. Tourists have 2.3 kids that take up more than one seat on the bus/train, and even though the kids are at least 10 years old they each have a stroller ready, folded up in a seat next to the parents. So, 4.3 people are taking up 8.5 seats. Don’t do that.

3. Tourists ride the bus during rush hour (Can’t they shop any other time of day?) with 6 kids under the age of 5, and give each of the kids 2 dollar bills to stick in the slot so they can pay on their own…because it’s “fun.” I’m usually stuck behind them.

4. Tourists walk 8 people wide, at a slow pace, wearing matching shirts.

5. Tourists carry at least 3 bags per person, so it takes them a good 20 minutes to find their map.

6. Tourists spend 90 percent of their time downtown, (50 of that 90 being at Navy Pier) and the other 10 percent at Wrigley Field or the Zoo. They don’t go to neighborhood because those are scary.

7. Tourists literally run into the closest Walgreens if it’s even slightly drizzling and buy up all the overpriced umbrellas and rain gear. I saw a group freak out last week. My shirt was dry by the end of the block.

8. Tourists wear fanny packs. Some are pretty sneaky, and you might not recognize it at first. They might be wearing it over their shoulder, but if it’s a small bag that looks like it was made to go around the waist, you have a fanny pack.

9. Tourists take the bus one stop. Literally. One. A half block. They try to blend in when they should be looking at their map.

10. Tourists feel really smart when they tell another tourist to get off at Addison for Wrigley Field, since they just looked it up on google maps with their blackberry. Or they are a total fraud and overheard another tourist ask someone else.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Major Douchbag

I'm about as douchy as they come at this particular moment. I'm writing on my laptop, at Starbucks. The only thing that could up the douchy quotient would be an iPod touch, flip flops, and a Harvard t-shirt. Whoops, check, check, and check. I kick ass.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Serious Business

I pretty much decided when I renewed my contract last year that I would spend 6 months fucking off and trying (occasionally) to learn Korean. After that, I would spend the next 6 months, you know, trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life, or at least what the hell I’m doing with January, 2009. Somehow, that second 6 months is starting in a couple weeks, when I’ll have to buckle down for some Serious Business. As I’ve finally got a proper vacation set up for the end of August (yay! pretty sure I’m going to China), I have no great office battles left to fight, it’s time to start looking at the future.

There are endless possibilities for someone like me, entering my prime earning years. I could move back to Chicago/Lawrence/Baltimore/Florida and buy a car, crash somewhere until I get on my feet, and take some horrible job that I’ll invariably hate. Then again, I could skip the car, couch surf in Chicago/Lawrence/Baltimore/Florida and kill time until August, then go to grad school for two years and acquire a bunch of debt before landing a horrible job that I’ll invariably hate. Of course, I could always skip the car, move to New York and live off my Korean savings for a couple months before scoring a horrible job that I’ll invariably hate. I can’t leave out option D, in which I cruise down to Southeast Asia to dick around on the beach for a month or two (or three) then return to the US to dick around for a month or two (or three) before coming back to Korea for another year (or two) to save more money, before reverting to options A-C that result in the horrible job and inevitable hatred. Other options, a bit more far-flung, include going to Budapest to get a relatively cheap CELTA certification that would allow me to make Korea-level money teaching in more interesting countries, like Argentina or Thailand, or to make tons more money in Korea than I do now teaching at a university, with 4 months of paid vacation a year; or actually finding some sort of legitimate job in the states that I actually like. There’s always the lottery too.

There’s plenty more Serious Business that I’ll discuss later. It may seem, from this blog, that I never actually do any work, which is only partly true, and I’m working on something about my school. Plus, politics is Serious Business, as are riots, which are pretty much the order of the day here in the Dynamic Sparkle, though I think I may do some actual reporting on the ongoing Korean cow riots, which will include pictures. I know what I want to say on this issue, but I want to (maybe) check out Seoul’s nightly protests that are now approaching nightly riots. Should be good times, assuming I don’t get killed

Monday, May 26, 2008


On my second consecutive 3 day weekend, I headed to the beach. Koreas’s east coast (on the East Sea, or as you may know it, the Sea of Japan) is supposed have some of the most beautiful beaches in the 4 distinct-season enjoying world. At least according to Korea, which also calls its Jeju island (on the same latitude as Oklahoma) “The Hawaii of Korea.” Both claims, of course, are false.

The trip got off to a rocky start. The internets had told me I could catch a bus at 2:20 from a bus station a few miles from my house, but only after buying the ticket did I discover the bus left at 4:20 (dude), so I had 2 hours to kill in the dullest neighborhood in Seoul. The bus was supposed to take 4 hours, but ended up taking 6 due to shitty traffic. I got to Sokcho (the coastal town that would be my home for what turned out to be 36 hours) at 10 p.m.

Due to the late hour of my arrival and the holiday weekend, hotels were charging way more than normal. One, that looked decent, wanted just under one million dollars per night. I checked out a number of love hotels, my bread and butter in Korean travel, as they invariably charge $30 a night. After all, my awesome love hotel in the heart of downtown Gwangju on last week’s holiday weekend was, as always, $30. Annoyingly, every love hotel I went to wanted at least $70 a night, just ridiculous highway robbery. I honestly thought about catching bus back to Seoul, at this time, there wouldn’t be any traffic. Still, I’d come all this way, and I’d always wanted to come to Sokcho, so I did the only thing that made sense. I went back to the expensive hotel. If I was going to get ripped off, I was going to do it in style. When I returned, the price for a night was now $20 more expensive than before. I haggled a bit, and got 2 nights for just over one million dollars complete with a balcony and ocean view. Easily the most I’ve spent on a two-night stay in Korea, and almost certainly anywhere. I had some money in my US account from Christmas and my birthday as well, and I figured this would be the only hotel in town to take US plastic.

Sunrise view from my balcony

The next day, I headed off to Seorksan, one of Korea’s largest national parks. Seoraksan is a mountain range only a couple miles inland from the coast, so the views were pretty stunning. In no mood to repeat last week’s walking uphill challenges, I took the cable car most of the way up one of the peaks. My buddy Don is anti-cable car, saying there’s no challenge in it. Of course, this is a reason I’m pro cable-car. Plus. had I walked to the cable car’s altitudal (a perfectly cromulent word) terminus, it would have been hours of walking uphill with zero views, just trees. The cable car, on the other hand, offers brilliant views and dropped me just below the tree line, right in time for the actual fun part of mountain climbing - the climbing part. The part where I could actually use my hands to negotiate bare rock, with a clear 270 degree view around me the whole time. Plus, instead of running on fumes during the best part of the hike, I was fully rested.

When I got to the top of the mountain, there was one other dude up there - a whitey. We did the head-nod thing, and then I went to the other part of the peak, to sit alone and enjoy the silence. Of course, this lasted about 5 minutes, when a group of loud Koreans invariably arrived, punctuated by this girl’s phone loudly blaring Korean pop for at least a minute before she got around to answering it.

I like this sign. Really, the peak is up?

I went out to the beach. It’s what I went to Sokcho to do, which was good, because there’s nothing else to do at night anyway (downtown Sokcho was beyond dead). I met three Korean girls within 10 seconds of getting to the beach. None spoke particularly good English, and you know about my Korean, yet it was reasonably fun. One of them (the hot one) seemed to dig me. I bought us all some soju. There were toasts, and the hot one kept sort of hugging up on me, and things were going swimmingly. Then, all of the sudden, she said that I had to go. She and her friends were leaving as well (though not with me) but she was insistent that I go home as well. Kicked off of a public beach. Korean girls don’t make a lick of sense, even beyond the language barrier. I got her number (she lives in the Seoul burbs, almost 2 hours by subway from me) and, about 57 times, she made me promise to call her. I won’t, of course, because she lives to fucking far away, but she was hot.

Throughout this weekend, I was reading “The Catcher in the Rye,” for the forth time or so. I hadn’t planned to, but because my original bus fiasco took so long, I ended up finishing the other book I was reading, Catcher was my backup, as it is small and easy to pack (and carry around, for that matter). Anyway, Sokcho beach has all these benches on it, and I sat in one to read before my bus home. Unfortunately, I sat a little too far to the right, as before I knew it, this cheesedick whitey and his girlfiend sat on my bench. The fuck? Find your own bench, buddy. And given that he was actually wearing one of those Izod/Lacoste alligator polo shirts (the kind I used to wear when they were cool, and I was 7) it was clear that the phonies were indeed coming in through the window.

Sokcho - thumbs up? Not so much. Plus, as you can see, cold and windy.

I can truly say, not sarcastically, that the highlight of the trip was the bus ride home. I was glad I didn’t take the midnight bus that I considered on the first night though. The bus ride home really was sweeping, along two lane roads through pristine mountains. Easily the most beautiful countryside I’ve seen in years. Northern California beautiful. Now, I’m honestly considering coming back to Sokcho, lame as it may be, in October just for the sake of seeing that road when the leaves change.