Saturday, April 25, 2009

2009 Roadtrip Bracket!!!

Here we go, more proof that I’m nuts. The 2009 Road Trip bracket. I planned to write this in March, when it was topical, but in March I was in Lawrence re-establishing bar cred and focusing on that other bracket, you know, the basketball one. If you are unfamiliar with my roadtrip bracket, it is, quite simply, seeding 64 trips that I’ve been on and having them face off. For more details, look here, starting from the second paragraph. At this point, I’ve been on well over 64 trips, to the point that an annoying system of conference tournaments are required just to set the field. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you. In fact, to keep this post shorter than, say, the portion of the Vegas yellow pages that lists “entertainment,” I’ll skip ahead to the Sweet 16.

South Region (seeds in parentheses):

Malay (1) - My summer vacation to Bangkok for two days, then Penang, Malaysia for five, then one more night back in Bangkok. Read more about it here first, then here.

FL1/9 (5) - My January 2009 trip Florida, in which I spent most days at the beach. My more recent Florida trip occurred in April, and is not eligible until next year.

CR2 (3) - My second cruise, to Cozumel in 1994. I had a rum and Coke with the Old Man on my 16th birthday after going diving. Winner of the 1999 Bracket.

HK (7) - My Hong Kong trip in December 2006, my first trip “abroad” when I was in Korea. Booked it a day before I left. Won the 2007 Bracket. Read more about it here, then here, and finally here.

Midwest Region

Mis (1) - June 1996 trip to St. Louis with 4 buddies to see the Misfits. Features a hilarious story involving my buddy Anthony and homoerotic graffiti in a truck stop men’s room

190 (5) - My first big roadtrip without parents - when Daniel and I drove to Chicago in July of 1995 listening to 9 hours of punk rock each way.

Seoul (6) - We’re getting into technicalities of what a trip is defined as for the purpose of this bracket. Obviously going to Seoul was moving, not going on a trip, but it did involve a trip to get there. For the purposes of this bracket, the “Seoul” trip is considered to be from the moment my plane left O’hare until I moved into my apartment, ie, my first two nights in Seoul in a hotel. Read more about it here.

Euro06 (2) - My 2006 trip to Europe. This used to be broken into multiple parts, but as the years go by and trips add up, it got merged into one. The largest old portion won the 2006 Bracket.

West Region

LE REN (1) - May 1999 week-long road trip from Kansas to LA, via Reno and SF. Awesome trip that involved being down to my last $4 in Reno - with nothing in the bank - and winning enough cash playing blackjack to keep going to Cali. Won the 2002 Bracket

MIB85 (4) - My Michigan/Chicago/Indiana Beach trip in 1985. The Indiana Beach portion was the first without my parents, stayed with the grandparents. Fell for the girl next door in Indiana, but fortunately I got over it quickly.

IB92 (3) - Of the Indiana Beach trips that I took with my bro throughout our childhood/teenage years, this one was the gold standard. Inspired me to write a (horrible) book.

West (7) - A big chunk of my epic 2002 trip. Since the 2002 trip lasted 4 months and involved me moving to Chicago, it remains split into several parts. West was Wisconsin-North Dakota (after being kicked out of Canada) -Montana-Yellowstone-Seattle-Red Woods-SF-LA.

East Region

NYC (1) - My trip to New York, also part of the 2002 Road Trip, though I got there by train. Stayed 2 weeks with Dylan and Stong.

Lon (4) - My second Euro trip - with Wiley in January 2001, largely focused around London. Why no entry from my big 1999 Euro trip in the Sweet 16, you may ask? Because I was studying abroad, I “lived” there. Small weekend trips are eligible for the bracket, and in fact several made it, just not to the round of 16. The best parts of that trip were spent in Paris and Florence proper, which don’t count as trips, because I lived there. “Live” = cooking, laundry, getting mail, that kind of stuff. Plus, if I did count them, Florence would win this thing every single year, and this would be a boring endeavor. Well, more so. Lon won the 2001 Bracket.

BKK (6) - My August, 2007 trip to Bangkok. My first trip to Southeast Asia, unless you count Hong Kong as Southeast Asia. Read about it here and at several posts after that on the JaehakAsia blog.

Phils (2) - My Christmas 2007 trip to the Philippines, and also my longest Asia trip at 10 days. Winner of the 2008 Bracket. Lots of posts on the Phils, if you want to read them, start here. The next 6 posts after that are all Phils trip related.

Now that I’ve introduced the competitors, on with the show:


Malay defeats FL1/9 to advance to the regional finals. FL1/9 was fun, but St. Pete Beach never stood a chance against my awesome Malaysian beach hut/house. This one is a blowout.

Cr2 defeats HK to meet Malay. Cr2 won out because HK, while fun, was really un-social. Plus, sometimes it comes down to what can be done again. I could go to Hong Kong tomorrow if I really wanted to, and have a similar experience, but I can’t go on a cruise to Mexico with my family as a 16 year old.


190 defeats Mis to join the Elite 8. Both trips were similar in some ways, and happened a year apart, but 190 was a week and Mis was a weekend. Plus, 190 was first, and the focus result of a years worth of scheming/begging.

Euro06 trounces Seoul. These trips were only 8 months apart, but Seoul was 3 days and Euro06 was 3 weeks. Euro06 took me to Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Czech, and Italy. Seoul brought me to a questionable love motel in Seoul, and severe jet lag.


LA Ren clobbers MIB85. Yeah, I couldn’t go back and be an 8 year old kid at an amusement park again either, but LA Ren is a monster. I spent a day playing in the Rockies, cruised the Loneliest Road across Nevada to party like a rock star in Reno at its end, met Daniel in Oakland and caught a horrible Royals-A’s game, and finished off at the beachfront apartment in Seal Beach that would be my home for the summer.

IB92 takes out West, this time on the same sort of principle as Cr2 won with - I can’t do it again. I mean, I could try, but if I went to Indiana Beach now and hit on 14 year old girls, I’d probably be arrested. At least, I’d hope I’d be arrested, it is Indiana after all.


Lon beats NYC in an upset. This was a tough call, as the New York trip was awesome and I think I like New York as a city more than London. However, the London trip also featured forays into Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam to push it over the top.

Phils murders BKK. The Phils trip was only 4 months after the BKK trip, but it beat Bangkok in every category except food (and art and architecture and high brow stuff like that). Filipino food sucks. There is Taco Bell there though, so props for that. The Phils trip had way more adventure, plus the best beach I’ve ever seen.

On to the Regional Finals...


Cr2’s journey ends here. Malay advances to the Final 4 in its first year of eligibility. This trip blended 5 days and 4 nights of relaxing on the Malaysian beach, eating the best food ever, drunken jet skiing, scooter crashing, and jungle hiking with 3 nights of crazy partying in Bangkok.


Euro06 is just too strong for 190. The 190 trip was historic, and I love Chicago, but its tough for it to compete with Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Brugges, Ghent, Antwerp, Rothenburg, Munich, Vienna, Prague, and Venice.


In a brutal triple overtime affair (how do I determine such things? Clearly I just did) IB92 prevails over LA Ren. It’s tough to say that many trips had more influence on me than IB92. It changed the way I thought about road trips, girls, and eventually writing. Really, along with sports, those are the only things I ever think about.


When I went to Europe in 2001, I was trying to find a way to move there. This was supposed to be the scouting trip for that, though once I arrived in London, I quickly gave that up for the sake of the usual Eurotrip cocktail of museums and debauchery. When I went to the Phils in 2007, it involved moving as well - I took this trip instead of a free plane ticket home, and decided to stay in Korea for another year. Of course, that choice had been made before I left for this trip, but this trip was definitely the result of a “life choice.” I think I made the right choice. In London, I don’t think I did, and it resulted in 6 months in Florida hell followed by my poorly-thought out idea to throw in my lot with Sprint. Phils wins.

Final 4:

Malay, the only one seed to survive to the Final 4, takes out Euro06. Penang has better food than Venice, and Bangkok has better nightlife than Prague.

IB92, no stranger to the final 4, somehow comes up short again. I could put the same test on the Phils trip as I can the IB92 trip - and though I took the Phils trip under a year and a half ago, I couldn’t fly there tomorrow and have the same experience. I just ran in to too many funny, weird, and awesome situations to duplicate them. Plus, the Phils trip has more influence over my life *today* than the IB92 trip - it was my first Asian beach trip (not counting Busan), and I’ve taken a slew of trips involving the beach since. I love the beach, I can sit there for days.


Wow. SE Asia vs SE Asia. Two trips that came only 7 months apart for the whole ball of wax. For the 2009 Road Trip Bracket crown, the winner is... Phils! For the record, that makes Phils the first repeat champion and and the first two-time champion in this, the 11th annual Road Trip Bracket. See you next year! (kidding, no way will I subject you to this again next year)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Kickass, Indeed

The main purpose of this entry, for a change, bragging. I never do that.

First off, Dr. Kickass, my long-silent partner on this space and brother, is clearly living up to his moniker. He's too shy to pimp himself, so I'll have to do it. Check out his latest video here, or all of the videos at Seriously, all of them are funny, but the new one rules like crazy, and now you have a chance to be the cool one of your friends that finds it first and forwards it to everyone else. Either that, or be lame, since one of your friends will forward it to you eventually, and you'll be stuck thinking that you could have been the one to kick off the next wave in internets comedy, but nobody will believe you. Check it out, for the sake of your own street cred.

In a smaller internets related announcement, I just launched a new blog. It's at There's nothing new in it, basically just a listing of all of my Asia/Korea related posts from both this space and my old myspace blog, and it's in chronological order starting from October of 2006. There probably won't be any updates on it, just some more fine tuning here and there. It might be funny if you missed any of my old myspace shit though. I basically made it for resume purposes, so I can send prospective employers there instead of here so that they don't have to read about, say, drunken rambling in Florida.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Drunken Ramblings on a Brief Drunken Walk with an iPod

So apparently, after speaking with both of my parents tonight, neither thought it was a good idea to ride home 4 miles or so on a bike after 19 or so beers. I disagree. I’m a highly capable bike rider, and a highly capable drunk, so clearly the transitive property is in play here. So, to appease them, I decided to give the cab thing the old college try - i.e., I would stand on the street outside the bar parking lot for upwards of one minute . Amazingly - and I mean amazingly for New York or Chicago or Tokyo or any of those fancy cities I’ve been to - I managed to flag down a taxi within 37 seconds -in St. Petersburg, Florida. Not Even St. Petersburg. St. Pete Beach. So, whatever, I took it. The streets were empty. I could have ridden home on a Roller Racer and been fine. Bah.

I was a bit hungry, so I had the driver drop me at the 7-11, a 10 minute walk from home. Here’s where the drunk iPod-ing comes in.

Start - My iPod is halfway through a Bill Simmons podcast. I am unaware why it was playing this. I jumped to Playlists - then My Top Rated - then the magic Shuffle. Here we go -

Track 1 - UNKLE - Rabbit in Your Headlights - not in the mood - skip

Track 2 - The Doors - Take it as it Comes - already listened to the Doors today

Track 3 - Portishead - Glory Box - again, not in the mood

Track 4 - Dan Fogelberg - Same Old Lang Syne - That’s a bit of a downer - next

Track 5 - Radiohead - Backdrifts - not familiar enough, I still only know maybe half of Hail To The Thief

Track 6- Dr. Dre - Keep Their Heads Ringin - heard it like 5 minutes ago at the bar

Track 7 - Tom Petty - Runnin’ Down a Dream - meh - next again. At this point, I’m like 12 feet outside of 7-11, by the way.

Track 8 - Nada Surf - Icebox - Fuck yeah. I turn it up. I play air guitar with the down chords. I happily eat my Jalapeno Cheddar Chex Mix that I’d purchased from 7-11. I sing along a bit.

Track 9 - Paul Revere and the Raiders - Kicks - Fuck yeah again. Actually, I knew it was coming. I liked the idea of Icebox, but skipped to the next song to make sure it was one I wanted to listen to, and it was, so I skipped back to the beginning of Icebox. Anyway, during this song, I put away the Chex Mix, light a smoke, and do lots of fist pumping to the tune of the song

Track 10 - Keny Loggins - This is It - How did this get into my top rated to begin with? Stupid Yacht Rock. Skip.

Track 11 - Cake - The Distance - Not in a 1996 kind of mood. Skip.

Track 12 - The Mars Volta - Deloused in the Comatorium - Not in the mood for Mars Volta - skip

Track 13 - The Ataris - In this Diary - not that kind of night - skip

Track 14 - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Desecration Smile - probably not worthy of “top rated,” but I top rated every Stadium Arcadium song when I bought the cd so it would play more often - in 2006. I’ve since been too lazy to reduce the rating on the lessor songs. Skip.

Track 15 - Red Hot Chili Peppers - This Velvet Glove - Well, mow I’m in the habit of skipping the Chili Peppers, so I do it again

Track 16 - Tupac - Keep Your Head Up - Not really in the mood - skip

Track 17 - Chris Isaak - Go Walking Down There - a representative song from the year 2000, but having just watched Recount, I’m not really in a Year 2000 kind of place. skip.

Track 18 - Social Distortion - Untitled - I’m not in a 1996 kind of place either, see Cake. Skip.

Track 19 - The Cure - Fascination Street - It takes too long to get going, and I’m getting home soon. No need for a 9 minute song when I’ll be home in 5.

Track 20 - Elton John - I Guess That’s Why They Call it The Blues - no

Track 21 - Bjork - Human Behavior - go away, Year 2000. Yeah, I know this song came out before then, but that’s the year I was big into Bjork. In my book, all Bjork songs are year 2000. And Iceland.

Track 22 - Bob Seger - We’ve Got Tonight - It’s top rated for Wonder Years related reasons. Winnie Cooper, the faux-nostalgic ideal more so than the TV character, is the last thing I need to think about. Skip.

Track 23 - Lionel Richie - Running With The Night - for whatever reason, this works. It almost always does. I listen to it in its entirety. I almost always do.

Track 24 - Death Cab For Cutie - Summer Skin - kick ass. Two songs in a row that I can listen to in their entirety. Best of all, Summer Skin will finish the walk.
24 tracks in 10 minutes. Maybe 15. Ridiculous. If I hadn’t used the My Top Rated playlist, it could have been 50. Yeesh. I really need to reduce my ratings on like 400 songs.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The best/worst bar

Wiley asleep at This Bar

This isn’t too long, and its from like two months ago now. Anyway, I wanted to write about This Bar. I went there several times when I was out west visiting Wiley. This Bar (I’m obviously not using its real name) was, at the same time, my favorite bar in the East Bay and my least favorite bar ever.

Why did I like it? a), you could smoke indoors there. In fucking California. Unreal, and awesome. Also, the beer selection was not your average dive’s - the most mass-market product that they sold was Guinness. Plus, because my buddy William worked there some nights and my buddy Smurphy helped them close every night for the purpose of free wine, I never paid for a drink there. The rest of the staff was really cool as well. Some of the customers were as well. So, free beer, cool bartenders, some cool customers - what could the problem be?

The rest of the customers. I lived in Lawrence for 20 years, I hung out at the Tap Room occasionally, I thought I knew phonies. Oh no. To borrow a line, the phonies were coming in through the windows at This Bar. Upon walking into the smoking room one night, there was this British college kid - curly hair, ironic band T-shirt, corduroys, even a fucking tweed jacket. I shit you not. He was sitting on the armrest of a chair, legs crossed like a woman. To top all, he was holding a pipe, and said “It’s rather hard to get addicted to smoking a pipe” to whomever was listening - which amongst these phonies was everyone. On another night, I listened to a group of faux hippies talking about vegetables - like, where they buy them, boring trips they take into the country to buy specific organic veggies, this sort of thing - and it went on for twenty minutes!

I suppose this is what people talk about if they don’t follow sports.

Pic unrelated - psychedelic check-cashing joint on Haight Street, SF

Monday, April 6, 2009

Back to Work

Just callin' to say I'll call you later, Coursen style. I'm in Florida, at the Old Man's place, 6 weeks into living out of a suitcase (in Vegas, East Bay, Tucson, Lawrence, Topeka, St. Louis, and now Florida). Vegas I wrote about, the others I'll get to - soon. I also have a couple cool gimmick blogs in mind too, you will be entertained, I swear. Just not today. I plan to get a lot done, blog-wise, here in Florida. The Old Man's house has a pretty ideal set-up for my increasingly eccentric writing habits. I pretty much always write outside at night, and there's a table on my dad's back porch that's covered in case it rains, plus it's never cold out (Florida and all) and there's a fridge stocked with booze and beer conveniently located outside as well.

Before I go, I suppose I should mention basketball. Holy hell were my predictions bad. The three that I constantly preached were 1) KU won't lose to Michigan State in a rematch, 2) no one seeds will advance, and 3) North Carolina will lose. I should cease the Bracket Takes thing forever, a chimpanzee with a sharpie could make better picks than me.

Oh, and I wrote this for while I was in town, so I'll link it here if you want to check it out