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.