Thursday, January 31, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ryan Howard Method

So before continuing (and concluding in the next entry, I swear) my Philippines story, it's time to get to this blog's roots, with a sports and girls story. This story concerns two people - the aforementioned Ryan Howard, and my buddy Don.

Ryan Howard, for those who don't follow baseball, is a promising young Phillies slugger. He has become known for swinging for the fences, for good or for ill. Last year, Ryan Howard hit 47 home runs, second in the National League. Perhaps more notably, he also struck out 199 times, a Major League record.

My buddy Don, for those of you who haven't read of him here before, well, is some dude. As his habit at the bars tends to be hitting on anything that moves, he too has a high strikeout rate, a practice that he refers to as the Ryan Howard method. While Don has had a good deal of success with the ladies this year, I have been witness to a huge number of strikeouts, occasionally with unspeakably ugly girls. Sometimes, even ugly girls aren't charmed by Don's favorite pickup line - "What - are - your - hobbies?"

Why do I bring this up now? Because on Saturday night, Don came up with a plan so brilliant, I can't believe I didn't think of it first. His plan and new goal - to break Ryan Howard's record. To strike out 200 times.

There are rules, of course. He is not allowed to make attempts at obvious, guaranteed strikeouts. That means no married women, no girls who are clearly at the bar with a boyfriend, no lesbians, and no female bartenders. Also, as baseball season is 6 months long, Don has until July 25 to reach 200 strikeouts. Finally, every strikeout must be confirmed via witness, either me or my buddy David, who was also with us on Saturday. Basically, this means Don's "games" are restricted to bar nights.

As for last Saturday - the kid started out strong, with 10 k's. Good times.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Van trip

I woke up on Christmas Eve with absolutely no idea what time it was. My room in the finest hotel in town lacked windows, so it was pitch black. I fumbled around for my watch. My watch is a fake rolex that I bought in Hong Kong last year, and for being fake has held up surprisingly well. It doesn’t keep the best time, but I set it off my phone each day in Korea. In the Philippines, my phone didn’t work, so my watch never really had the right time, it was just within half an hour or so of being right. That’s pretty much all I needed there. According to my watch, it was 9-ish. Perfect.

I went downstairs to the finest restaurant in town, and was excited to see French toast on the menu. I haven’t had French toast in a million years. It doesn’t exist in Korea. The restaurant had no syrup, but the French toast was brilliant. Good thing, because it would be some time before my next meal.

I had debated staying in Roxas the night before, to go to Crispin’s Christmas party. Well, if I did that, I’d have to stay in Roxas another two nights and leave on the 26th. Leaving on Christmas Day would just be uncouth. Seeing Roxas, by daylight for the first time, was enough to convince me to move on. If I had a month in the Phils, I would have absolutely stayed, but with 10 days and 5 of them burned, I wanted to be back on the beach. Lonely Planet had indicated the city of Calipan was where I needed to go next in order to reach Puerto Gallera.

I asked the hotel desk clerk where to go to catch a bus to Calipan. She told me that there was a van going there, and that I could catch it in front of the hotel. She actually made it sound too hard. I walked out of the hotel’s front door, and a man approached me. “Calipan? Puerto Gallera?”

“Yeah.”

“This van right here.” The van was parked next to the video games that the kids had been playing last night. I asked the man if I had to wait for the van to fill up, as he opened the front door for me to get in. Filipino public transit, in general, does not operate on a schedule, but leaves whenever it is full. The man opened the back door of the van, showing that it was already full. Kick ass. I hopped in the front seat of the van (the most air conditioned seat, at that) and the van left immediately.

As we left Roxas, I saw a sign indicating Calipan was 110 kilometers away. I assumed we would be there in no time, an hour, tops. Then again, my only experience in extended road travel in the kilometer-using world was in Europe, home of the Autobahn and Italian Autostrada on which I’ve cruised along at 180 km/hour. Hell, even Seoul taxi drivers take city streets at 120 km/hr or so on late night trips. Well, this road was no Autobahn, and really not even close to the quality of a Seoul city street. It was the major highway of the Philippines, the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (Goes from Manila to Davao - yeah, like it’s any surprise I know that) and thus easily the best highway on this particular island (Mindoro) by virtue of the fact that it was paved. Anyway, the trip was over 3 hours.

The ride was not boring. We passed through lots of small towns and plenty of countryside. I saw a ton of water buffalo - on farms, on the side of the road, and occasionally pulling a cart of people on the highway. The van would drop people off anywhere on the route they asked, there were no scheduled stops before Calipan. The van would also stop for anybody along the way that wanted to get on as well. The back got pretty crowded from time to time. I was happy to be sitting shotgun.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Comically rich

I think it's now officially my goal to finish writing about my Philippines trip before I start my next vacation. Writing here is slow going in the winter, when I can't go out to my precious convenience store table to do it. Anyway --

As I walked toward the Christmas lights, I passed a small store with a table out front and some people sitting around it. “Hey, where you go?” One of them shouted at me.

“Is there a bar this way?”

“No man, sit, drink with us.” Sounded like a plan to me. I sat down at the table with the large Filipino dudes, who were eating chicken and drinking beer and rum. The shopkeeper, a woman, brought me a beer. Crispin spoke the most English, and seemed to be the leader of the group.

I sat at the table with these guys, drinking beers and rum, telling stories about Korea and the U.S., while listening to theirs. The only light came from inside the store, a bare bulb. When I (or anybody else) had to piss, it was just a matter of standing up and turning away from the table and pissing in the road. There weren’t any cars coming. 3 or 4 vehicles passed in the time I was there, one old beater car and a couple motorcycles. All of them stopped at the store to shoot the shit. Everyone knew Crispin and the other guys.

We contined knocking down San Miguels. I was invited to their Christmas party, if I were still in town. The next day was Christmas Eve. I considered it, these guys were cool. I imagined that we could probably have crazed rum-fueled adventures the next day, riding motorcycles and shooting guns.

The store closed. I bought a pack of smokes on the way out. My total for the smokes and god knows how many beers - under 4 bucks. I suddenly felt almost embarrassingly/comically rich. I had told the guys about my continuing epic quest to the Taco Bell in Manila. They said they had been there and liked it, but Taco Bell was an extravagance, something they eat once every couple of years. They asked me how much I made in Korea, I lied and cut my wages in half, though they still thought it to be a large sum. It’s not.

We walked to the videoke bar. By this point, it was only me, Crispin, and one other guy who’s name I’ve forgotten. Videoke operates differently from either American-style karaoke or Korean/Japanese style noraebong. Like the American style, there is one machine in the bar, and one has an audience of strangers. However, there’s no showmanship whatsoever. The microphone has a really long cord, and you sit at your table rather than going up on any kind of stage. The microphone is set to such a level that it doesn’t pick up voice unless the voice is loud. Thankfully, none of the awful Korean reverb is involved. I had to try it, and ripped off a little Manilow - Mandy. It just wasn’t the same without going up stage and putting on a show. I cracked jokes between verses, but I think the language barrier prevented them from landing. That, and they were probably awful.

After the other guys did a couple songs, and a couple beers, and striking out with the surprisingly hot waitress, we left, and I made my way back to the finest hotel in town. I had to get up reasonably early the next day as I really wasn’t sure how solid my transit options to Puerta Gallera would be. I hoped it wouldn’t come to hitch hiking. I really didn’t want to follow the first rule of the road.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Quick Film Update

My short film, You Can't Outrun Bullets is almost completely shot. Just one more scene to go and it's in the can. I've already started editing, and it's looking good. Expect a full trailer in a few weeks.

Also, you 360 owners, if you haven't played it yet, pick up Mass Effect. It's a great way to kill a weekend.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I hate goodbyes

It's weird. People come in and out of your life everyday, but sometimes you don't realize how much you would miss them until they aren't going to be around anymore.

This person is partially responsible for where I ended up. When I was still in High school, I auditioned and toured Emporia State. One stop along the way was to see Zoiks, the comedy-improv troupe, and I was immediately inspired to become a member. They had talent, and I wanted in.

This person was a mentor. Showing me the ropes, giving insight the teachers aren't going to spill, unlocking the secrets of the theater. Most importantly, they made the place feel more like home, while mine no longer existed.

They toured with me on my first real job in Chicago. Sure, it was hell, the producer lied to us, and the show was terrible, but we were in it together, which made it fun. Would we ever tour again? Fuck no. But we have those memories, and we can always look back and have a laugh.

I already miss my friend. Good luck, John. I hope we can hang out together again very soon.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The finest hotel in town

Roxas was dark. No street lights, and really no lights coming from any business in particular, other than my hotel, which was, again, the finest hotel in town. I ate a pretty decent Filipino/Chinese beef dish at my hotel restaurant, which I could only assume was the finest restaurant in town. I was the only customer. Beer cost under 50 cents a bottle. There was a carport-looking space outside the restaurant window, which had become a makeshift arcade. Kids were playing the 5 or 6 video games there. The games all appeared to be from 1995 or before, and the text on the game was in Chinese. The Philippines uses regular Roman letters in their written language, so the Chinese text on the screen undoubtedly meant as little to the kids playing the games as it did to me. One of the games looked a bit like Shinobi, but worse.

I considered lingering in the restaurant to get plowed for pennies, but being that I was the only customer, this seemed both a dull and rude option. I decided to go out. I walked out of the front door of the hotel. There was a security guard outside the hotel whom I had seen before, brandishing a small shotgun. “Where you go?” This seems to be a common question in my experience throughout Southeast Asia, but being that he was clearly not a tout or a taxi driver, plus he had the shotgun, I trusted him.

“Is there a bar near here?”

“Yes, go that way, past the church. There is a videoke bar there.” I’d heard of the Philippine love of karaoke, and being that Boracay is more “international resort” than it is truly filipino, I had yet to experience it. Plus, he said bar. I was on my way. I hadn’t actually been out, like all out, for most of the trip, so I was excited for any kind of night out.

I had a bit of a rough landing a few days before to start my trip. My first night in Boracay, I wasn’t out particularly late as I was tired from my flights and wasn’t on much sleep. I had woken up at 6 a.m., and was out far later my last night in Korea at the airport hotel bar then I’d intended to be because I’d met an old drunken Irishman who kept buying me beers and telling good stories. My first morning in Boracay, I woke up mosquito-bitten to hell, and I hit the beach for a lazy beach day. I got sunburnt in a predictably dramatic fashion. At happy hour, while I was knocking back cheap gin and tonics, I jumped from the bar floor to the beach, about a 1 meter jump, with no shoes on. I landed on my left foot, right on a huge, jagged coral rock that was buried a quarter inch under the sand, and sliced the middle of the bottom of my foot. Look before you leap, I guess. I could barely walk the next couple of days. Regardless, I went on a snorkeling trip the next day, all while the bottom of my foot was starting to turn purple, and somehow got a cold or some sort of sickness. The next two nights, I slept like 11 hours a night, but still couldn’t manage to stay awake past 10:30 or so, despite the abundance of clubs, bars, and partiers. For a little while, I thought I must have malaria or something and would probably die within the week.

I didn’t, of course. The sunburn subsided, I got some bug repellent, I wore proper shoes rather than flip flops for a day and my foot got better, and my sickness, as it almost always does, went away after 2 days. So last night, in Boracay, I was wallowing in my wold-be death bed, the next night, in Roxas, I felt like a million bucks. Or at least a million pesos. The videoke bar didn’t seem to be a bar, it looked more like a restaurant from the outside windows, so I moved on, assuming I must be at the wrong place. I walked down the dark road, seeing some Christmas lights in the distance.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Dead to me

Before moving on with my Philippine adventures, I need to comment on the current state of college football. The Kansas Football Jayhawks end the season at number 7. Number fucking 7.

Posnanski (KC Star writer) laid this out pretty well last week. THE Ohio State University loses to a crappy Illinois team at home for their first loss of the year, and the Kansas Football Jayhawks lose to a territorial, pro-slavery though (it pains me to say this) not horrible team on a neutral field for their first loss of the year the following week. After this loss, KU was number 5 and TOSU was number 3. Both teams are idle the next week, KU because one of the other 5 Big 12 North teams happened to be a top-5 team, and TOSU because the Big 11 doesn't have a championship game. Somehow, after both teams being idle, TOSU moved up to number 1 the next week, while KU fell to number 8.

The Kansas Football Jayhawks proceed to beat #3 Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, while TOSU gets absolutely murdered by a 2-loss team in the "Championship" game. 2-loss LSU ends up at 1, 2-loss Georgia ends up at 2 on the strength of crushing an undefeated though basically division-2 Hawaii team , 2-loss Southern Cal ends up at 3 after crushing the same mediocre Illinois team that beat TOSU (and in a virtual home game for USC, no less. Oh yeah, they did lose to god-awful Stanford at home, so anything can happen.) The 2-loss territorial slaveowners end up at number 4, but again, they were'nt horrible, so I can accept this. They should probably be higher, actually, much as I hate to say it. TOSU ends up at number 5, and 2-loss West Virginia, who lost to two terrible teams this year, ends up at 6. Unreal that the Kansas Football Jayhawks can't crack the top 3, much less the top 5.

So my solution to the BCS? They are now dead to me. That's it. They have pulled some horseshit moves over the years, but this one marks the end. They join the Baseball Hall of Fame (after their unforgivable, unredeemable snub of Buck O'Neal) in organizations that have no credibility whatsoever, for good or for bad. I have no idea who has entered the Baseball Hall of Fame over the last 2 years. Why? Because to me, it doesn't exist anymore. And after this year, I will never know who wins the BCS championship? Why? Because it's not a championship, especially when all a team has to do to win it is hold the number 2 ranking at the right time for a chance to beat the hell out of THE Ohio State University.

By the way, sports organization that is dangerously close to falling into the "Dead to me" category - The Kansas City Chiefs.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Boats and Touts

Sorry I've been quiet, but I have quite a lot of shit to post soon, it's just a matter of sorting it out. I just got back from the Philippines last week, and the trip totally kicked ass, one of my best trips in years and an absolute lock to win this year's roadtrip bracket. Anyway, the first thing I'm writing is also the longest, so I'll post the first part now-




Why did the chicken cross the road?
To send a Todd toward an untimely demise on a dusty Philippine “highway.” But I’ll come back to that.

I had a pretty hilarious adventure, traveling from the world class beaches and tourist haven of Boracay to the earthier, trashier diving resort of Puerta Gallera, Little Laguna beach specifically. Getting from Manila to Boracay required a $120, 35 minute flight on a rock star killer, which turned out to be the easy, safe way to get around. My trip from Boracay to Little Laguna (2/3 of the way back to Manila) required 7 different modes of transport, 2 days, and a cool $22.

I left Boracay two days shy of Christmas Day, first taking a tricycle (basically a motorcycle rickshaw) to the boat dock on the other side of the island, then a 10 minute boat ride in a small, crowded outrigger boat to Caticlan. Caticlan has the small airstrip I originally landed on, and it’s also the place to catch a bus to the larger airport in Kalibo or a fast boat to Manila. As I got off the outrigger in Caticaln, it would be the last time I would see a non-Filipino person for the next 2 days. I bought my ticket to Roxas on the island of Mindoro and had an hour to kill, which I did in a ramshackle lunch counter that, not surprisingly, served beer.

From there, I took a large ferry boat, with probably 1,000 people on it for the 4 hour trip to Roxas. A strange prayer video came on the screen in the room I was in. Most everybody in the room signed the cross. Pretty hard-core Catholic country, the Philippines. The other evidence of this was the insane number of kids that I saw everywhere I went. My favorite part of Philippine Catholicism? Unlike every other Asian country I’ve been to, there are no missionaries. It’s possible to walk through the center of town with out somebody wanting to talk to me about the bible and the churchy. Much like being in Utah, everybody assumed that I was a believer already and left me alone. Okay, the Utah thing I ripped off from Bill Bryson, who I was reading at the time I was on this boat.

After landing in Roxas, I was soon confronted by a tout. I have to say, I was shocked. I mean, I expected touts everywhere in Boracay and Manila, but Roxas? I was literally the only foreigner on this boat of 1,000 people, yet there’s still a shady guy at the docks whose bothered to learn enough English and develop a good enough western accent to fuck over travelers. It’s really the equivalent of learning Portuguese and hanging out at the Lawrence Greyhound bus stop, in the hopes that a Brazilian happens to get off the Hound in Lawrence that day. I told the tout I was going into town. He said that the hotels in town were closed, and that a tricycle ride at night would cost an extortionate 100 pesos. I found a tricycle driver. He drove me into town for 50 pesos, to the nicest hotel in town. TV, AC, in the center of Roxas for $12 a night. Not too shabby. I hate touts.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

MySpace and Mascots

Thanks for reading our 50th Post!

First off, I just want publicly state my favorite feature on MySpace. Whenever you read a bulletin, you might not notice it, but there are a two options at the bottom of the post. Option one, Reply to poster, Option two, Delete from friends. I love Option Two.

I love the idea that someone you probably know, or know well enough to have on your friends list can write a post on MySpace that can piss you off enough that you immediately want to delete them from your friends list. And this must happen often enough that there is a need for a button on all bulletins. I wonder how many friends dropped me from Bulletins I posted. Hopefully at least a couple. I know I've used it more than a couple times. Once, to test it out when I first noticed it. Really? Delete from friends? Okay... And, sure enough, they were gone. Sorry about that Davenport. Send me another friend request will ya?

So, I recently had a discussion with some friends about College Mascots. Both of them had the same mascot, being "the wildcats." First off, what the hell is a wild cat? Is that when a house cat becomes an outdoor cat or something? Second off, guess which two schools I was talking about? You can't do it. There are at least a hundred wildcats. It's unoriginal.

But...(you knew I was going to end up here)...if I mention a Mascot such as, I don't know, The Jayhawks, you're not going to say, "Oh, which one?" There's only one. It's a creative mascot. There's also The Illini, which I like because you immediately know which school I'm talking about. Other Mascots I like include The Cardinal (because it's so ridiculous with no S on the end), The Crimson (because the geniuses at Ha'vad couldn't think of anything else) and the Fighting Irish (that little prick will kick your ass...well, not this year. But I wouldn't want to run into that Leprecon in a dark ally).

Stupid Mascots: The Tigers, The Ichabods (Washburn bastards), The Sun Devils, and the Buckeyes. Well, that covers the BCS game Monday night. Go LSU...I guess.

Well folks, that's all I got. I'm finishing up shooting a short film this week, so I will likely be out of commision. Jae-Hak will have to take over this week. If you haven't watched the teaser for You Can't Outrun Bullets, watch it here. Vote for it on YouTube!

-Mr. Kickass

Oh, I almost forgot. The Tar Heels Mascot is fucking stupid. Stop wearing their shirts immediately. Thank you.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Oranges




Wow. KU won the ORANGE BOWL. Amazing. One of the best games I've ever seen. I was worried every second of the second half. But we were loose, and that was the difference. A few mistakes almost cost us, but the D came through.

I wish I was in Lawrence right now to party.

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK KU!
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