Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Old Year

2011 is ending the way it began for me - in a confused and terrified rage. Just like in late December of 2010, I have absolutely no clue where I'll be or what I'll be doing this time next year. Nothing would particularly surprise me, other than, say, toasting the Chiefs team that I personally coached to 16-0, looking forward to hosting a playoff game that we would invariably lose.

Lots of pretty cool shit has happened this year though. If 2011 happened to fall in the 90s, I'd probably rank it the best year ever. Last winter was arguably the best of my life, and the summer was no slouch either.

I had two absolute top-5 pantheon trips to the Philippines.

The Old Man visited.

I had cups of coffee (and beer) in Taiwan, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

I quit smoking. Hell, it was so easy to do, I did it several times.

You all know I hate meeting new people and making friends, but I've met more cool people this year than most 3 combined.

I walked to every Gu in Seoul, and then for good measure walked on to the suburbs.

I went 1-1 in Hongdae street brawls. To be fair, the one I lost was to like 30 dudes.

I was absolutely murdered on the girl front in a way that hasn't been seen in years and rendered dead inside, but bounced back.

Osama bin Laden, Gadaffi, and Kim Jong Il all died. Pretty much the worst humans alive that never wore number 7 for the Broncos. I didn't actually have anything to do with this, but I'm still willing to take credit.

This blog had it's biggest year ever, and by an exponential standard.

My fantasy football team in one league might win the championship. Somehow, I've never done that before.

I became a regular contributor to an actual print magazine. 10s of people have likely read my articles while taking a shit in an Itaewon bar.

All in all, the term "all in all" is a horrible transition into a conclusion, but I'm using it anyway. If 1999 was an "A" and 2005 was an "F," I'll give 2011 a B+.

Happy New Year all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Top 11

So it's come to this. The blog version of the clip show. In a totally subjective move, I'm ranking the top 11 posts for 2011. If you missed any of these along the way, they are all totally worth checking out. Or at least clicking on so I get the hit. Either way, Merry holidays and all, and enjoy.

11. Dork. Geek. Nerd. Wanker. Turdburgler. Etc... . I thought it was kinda funny, and it changed the course of this site, ramping up the hits.

10. Gobble Humbug. Complaining about Thanksgiving, which I maintain is a stupid holiday.

9. The Epikest Walk (so far) - a representative photoblog. I've done many. This was one of the better ones this year.

8. FB World - some solid jokes making fun of other countries
Internets Forget

7. Get off my Lawn! - I'm old.

6. ऍम इ अ हिपस्टर? - or maybe I'm hip.

5. Philipines Photoblog - A lifetime top-5 trip is in the top 5 for the blog year.

4. The Only Band That Matters - cuz I'll think of 2011 any time I hear SNSD.

3. The Internets Forget - last week's post was two months in the making. Google tells me you didn't read it, so check it out.

2. This One Goes Out to All the Bitches Out There (and harlots, hood rats, wenches, and gold diggers) - only because of the massive amount of hits this post gets.

1. The Gu Project -This is probably my best idea of the year. It is really 6 posts, but this is the introduction.


Good times.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Internets Forget

My youth is largely forgotten.

Sure, this is a common sentiment, but in my case, I mean forgotten by the internet. I can't be expected to remember everything. However, if iconic pop culture elements of my childhood and youth don't exist at all on the internet, how long will it be before they are gone forever?

There are a couple reasons for this lack of being able to dig up awesome nuggets on the web. For one thing, I'm old. Or I'm not. I fall into something of an online gap. The boomers have all of their memories covered on the web, since there are so goddamn many of them. The millennials do too, since they were able to create more web content. I'm in a grey area.

Another factor - I'm from Lawrence, Kansas. Sure, Larry is a great town and a stone's throw from the Kansas City metro area, but a lot of KC's non-coastal, non-Great Lakes collective pop culture memory simply does not exist on the web.

Finally - I'm weird. There's shit that sticks out for me that most people wouldn't care about.

Some things that do not exist on the web -

The Billy Smith professional tree climber PSA
. I don't know anyone from back home who cannot quote this spot verbatim, yet nary a Youtube clip exists. Anybody within 5 years of me from within a 100 mile radius of me certainly must know of the kid who climbed trees all his life, but never near overhead lines. Best I could find was a recent reference on Grantland.com.

Lazlo the Great, Teller of Fortunes
. I was so obsessed with this talking fortune telling machine that I actually created a cult surrounding it in the early 90s. Amazingly, the machine still exists. It is located in an Indiana Beach arcade in northwest Indiana. Tens of thousands of people go to IB every year, and many come across Lazlo. Somehow, on the entire Internet, there is one picture of him. One. There is more Lazlo media on my hard drive than on the whole of the internet. In all these years, nobody has decided to take a video of him and post it? There's no way that the company that built the Lazlo machine still exists, so it can't be a matter of Youtube taking down videos of him. Allow me to literally double the internets' Lazlo collection:



Quackers
. This is an awesome ball rolling game, also at Indiana Beach. Somehow, it's classic line of "Give it another quack" is not recorded anywhere online.

The Orient Express. For a couple decades, this was Kansas City's primary roller coaster. It was torn down in 2003. 2003 ain't that long ago. Sure, the internets has tons of information regarding the former coaster, but only one non-CGI first person recording of the ride exists on YouTube, and that single recording was from 1993 and is of putrid quality. People had digital cameras in 2003. How did nobody bother to record and post the Orient Express? Some rides are just rides. The Orient Express was essentially a Kansas City Bar Mitzvah. Once you ride it, you are a man. Case in point - I had zero friends who made it to second base before riding it. 


When I was a little kid, there was an alphabet learning 45 that I used to listen to. Well, "A My Name is Alice" does not fucking exist anywhere. It still pops into my head from time to time. "A my name is Alice, I live in a palace, and every afternoon at three my footman serves me tea." Go ahead, google it. There are articles, but no fucking recording. The real mystery - I was like three when I used to rock this on my Fisher Price record player. I didn't know what a footman was at the time. I doubt I knew what tea was either. How do I remember a lyric for vocabulary that I didn't have?

On slightly more recent music - good luck finding anything by the band Black Label online, or even anything about them. Yeah, they were a shitty local punk band in Lawrence in the mid-90s, but they were a pretty well known shitty local punk rock band. I may have the largest remaining Black Label collection in the world. My freshman year of college, the drummer, a sorta buddy of mine, gave me a copy of their new 7 inch because I had a radio show in Tacoma, Washington. I lost the 7 inch a long time ago, but I played a few of the songs from it on my show, and I recorded my show on a damn boombox at my dorm. I found those tapes a couple years ago and converted them to MP3. So basically, the only known extant Black Label recording was a record played over the radio, then recorded onto cassette, then converted to digital. As you may expect, it is not of high quality.


Black Label and kids songs aside, for me the holy grail of missing music has long been some random late 90's rock song that includes the lyric "You can call it familiarrrrrr...." While Black Label probably only got radio airplay on my show, this song was on legit radio all the time in Lawrence. It wasn't even that great of a song, I just want to find it to prove I didn't make it up.


Some of my internet gaps aren't even from America. It's not just a Lawrence thing. In my Euro days, I used to frequent a bar in Florence called Stonehenge, or Stonehenge Rock Club. Stonehenge was THE SPOT back in the day. Every other bar and club that we frequented was less awesome and often less busy, yet all of them have a web presence now. It was a bar with no sign on the outside, just a nondescript door. Keep in mind, this was before every other bar in Brooklyn adopted this model. Stonehenge required a membership, it is was rocking every night of the week until at least 5. I don't think we ever went there before 2 or 3. Maybe Stonehenge shut down in 2000 or 2001 and missed the true web explosion. Maybe they stayed underground enough to avoid any web presence. Still, if the Shenago Lounge in Lawrence can be easily googled, I would think anything could be.


As a closer, I should mention the ultimate internet transgression. There are all kinds of songs, institutions, and roller coasters that I hold dear that don't exist on the internet. What have I forgotten so far? People, of course. Lots of people that I care about, or at some point cared about do not exist in any capacity online. I could go down an ex-girlfriend tangent here, but this isn't that kind of post. Perhaps the most inexplicable internet absence would be my buddy Stong. This is a cat that actually more than flirted with a congressional, neh, Congressional run a couple years back, yet does not exist online. A dude who essentially coined the phrase "some dude." Yet, Stong doesn't even have a Facebook or Twitter. A google search of Stong leads to dead ends, then back NES/NAS. For all you know, I made him up. If he didn't really exist, I probably would have. Only trick is, I can't come up with lines like "I took the uptown train, and she took the downtown, and that's the last I saw of her."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

HK PI



Rick Santorum will not be president. Greg Maddux was a good pitcher. Missouri is a horrible place. Only assholes wear stocking caps when it's warm. Communism didn't work. I've been on a lot of trips. You know all of these things already.

Some trips involve setting off to new places, crossing the unknown void. Some trips go backwards, retrace old steps, and prove that you can go home again, or you can't, whatever "home" may happen to be. Sometimes, like last week, a person such as me can get lucky and follow both paths. I headed off to Hong Kong and the Philippines, two somewhat known quantities for me, and in both spots I strived to check out uncharted territory while returning to old haunts. Both the road less traveled and the superhighway lead me in directions I never expected.

Enough. On to the reason you're here - cool pics of cool places.


The Harbourplace Mall entrance in Kowloon, Hong Kong. These are just figurines, they don't move or talk or anything. I have no idea why it draws such a crowd.



Jollibee in Kongers! The Pinoys are here and they're selling Champ Burgers!

I.M. Pei's Bank of China Building is the one on the left. Easily my favorite Hong Kong skyscraper.


Night View from Victoria Peak. I never made it to The Peak on my first trip to Hong Kong, even though I was there for four nights. No clue why, really, it's pretty much the most famous sight in town. Getting there was easy, no line for the tram on the way up. Getting back down was more difficult. There was a massive line. The line was only made worse by the fact that the Chinese (likely Mainlanders, I doubt many locals go to such a touristy spot) cut in line like crazy. This was a common occurrence everywhere I went in Hong Kong. It seems the Brits didn't impart any of their love of queuing to the locals.




The Koreans are here, and they're selling food with hilarious vaguely racist signs.



My crappy guesthouse room my first night. This was far and away my most expensive hotel room of the trip. The computer monitor there was the TV, and one of the 14 channels I got was a CCTV feed for the building. It was oddly hypnotic, watching random strangers ride the elevator and walk through the hall in real time.

One of the nerdy skyscraper websites that I frequent ranks the Hong Kong skyline at number one in the world, and Chicago at two. I may agree. HK is the only city that may, may have a better skyline than Chi-town, at least that I've seen.


The south end of Nathan Road in Kowloon. Nathan Road is a pretty amazing place. Hong Kong calls itself "Asia's World City," and I really can't argue. Nathan Road feels like New York or London - every nationality seems represented. The number of languages overheard while walking a block is mind boggling. The road is home to some of the world's finest hotels, and some of the world's worst.


Signs overhang the road all over the place in Hong Kong, particularly in Kowloon. From the second deck on a two-level bus, they really scream.


My second night in Hong Kong, one week after the first. This is a view from the Star Ferry, the best 25 cent public transit option in the world.

The gate to Temple Street Night Market.


Chinese knock-off Legos for sale at Temple Market.

More large overhanging signs.

Japan gets all the press for this, but I guess Hong Kong also gets A List Hollywood celebs doing ads. I feel like Korea kinda gets cheated in this regard.

Hong Kong is a great city, but it can be pretty lonely on your own. It probably didn't help that I was pretty much permanently hungover while I was there. Fortunately, I spent most of my trip in the much friendlier islands of the Philippines.



Alona Beach in Panglao, an island off Bohol. This was my first trip to Bohol, so it was cool to check out a new island or two. It was as hot as it looks.

Alona Beach.

A wider view of Alona.

Alona sunset. Sure, it's no Boracay sunset on a south-facing beach, but it wasn't without its charms.


A final look at Alona.

Robinson's Mall in Dumaguete. Strangely, the Robinson's in Duma is far nicer than the dump of a Robinson's in Cebu, though Cebu is a much larger city.

Pura Vida resort in Dauin, just outside of Dumaguete. Here's what I did that day in Dauin: Nothing. It was awesome.

Looking out at the dive boats along the beach at Dauin. I would have gone diving, but that would have required leaving the lounge chair. Who needs that?

Boats at the little wharf to the north of Dumaguete when I headed back to Cebu.

I took the bus to Cebu. That's it, on the left. It needed a little help from this rickety ferry to get to Cebu Island.


C'mon, like I wasn't going to finish with hilarious Engrish? I saw this sign near the Peak in Hong Kong. I still have no idea what it means.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November's Best Holiday

It's Salsa Rio Dorito day! So far, this may be the best Salsa Rio Dorito Day ever, and it's only 2 p.m. I'm on vacation, but fortunately I wrote something last week to post now.

My desert island, all time, top five most memorable break-ups, in chronological order:

Liz
Katie
Monica
Angie
Allison

The first names are real. I know Nick Hornby used last names too, but in this age of social networking, I obviously can't do that. Like in "High Fidelity," the early ones stick out. Sure, I've been involved with girls whose names I don't even remember for well longer than the four and a half days or so that I knew Katie, but I didn't meet them at an out of town amusement park over the summer between 8th and 9th grades.

I'm not here to talk about this top five. It's most likely inaccurate anyway. I'm here to talk about number one on the list - Liz. Like in Hornby, some kernel of every relationship I've had since then can be found in the first one .

Liz was a pretty, tall brunette who was in a couple of my seventh grade classes. I would have noticed her earlier, if not for the fact that 7th grade is pretty much the biggest clusterfuck of ongoing awe and bewilderment in life outside of infancy. Lockers? Class breaks? Wait, we have to shower in gym class now? Holy fuck, are there cheerleaders here? Are those breasts? Note to self - stop wearing sweat pants to class. 7th grade is an acid trip. Dude, it's a tree! Fuckin' A!

In 7th grade, I was first exposed to the concept of the school dance. I had no idea how to handle myself, of course. I worked up my "game" slowly, danced with friend girls, danced with non-threatening girls. Then I danced with Liz. She was a head taller than me, but she didn't seem to think that I was a total spaz. I danced with her again. I liked her. She was cool, and I liked talking to her. In between dances, I couldn't of course, because I was indeed a total spaz.

After the dance, in health class, she passed me a note. It was folded up in one of those ways that girls know how to fold. She wrote a paragraph or so. She asked my last name and phone number. It was pretty much the single greatest moment of my life up until that point until I realized that I would have to write a note back.

Liz and I exchanged notes regularly for the next month or so, though almost never actually spoke in person. Eventually, I felt like I had to up the ante. She wrote me a two page note about some dude asking her out, and how she didn't like him, and how she didn't think I liked her. This had to be a sign. She definitely like me, right?



I didn't have her number, because it never occurred to me to ask for it, so I looked it up in the phone book. I unplugged my phone and repeatedly practice-dialed. Eventually, I built up my nerve enough to plug in my phone and make the call.

Me: Is Liz there?

Liz: This is Liz.

Me: Oh hey. This is Jaehak, from school.

Liz: Oh, hey!

Me: Um, will you go with me? (note, in that particular year and in that particular postal code, the common vernacular for dating was "go with," rather than the more standard "go out with." By 8th grade, "go with" was eradicated from everybody's vocabulary.)

Liz: Um, okay, yeah...

Me: Oh, um, cool. Bye.

Thus ended my first ever call with a girl. I thought it would be all sunshine and roses after that. It was November 13, and I had a girlfriend. I literally leapt into the air and cheered once the call ended. I'd spent the last couple years focused on getting a girlfriend. Now that I had one, I had no clue how to, y'know, have a girlfriend.

For the next couple of weeks at school, we basically never spoke. What was there to talk about? Plus, I was too busy talking to my friends and acquaintances about how I had a girlfriend.

Liz was in a play. She had a bit part. I went, of course. Afterword, I saw Liz and said "you were really good," but in the lamest, shyest voice you could imagine. I called her for the second time that night, to say "you were really good."

A few days later, disaster struck. After gym class, in the locker room, Brad Hauber told me that he had heard Liz broke up with me. Poppycock, said I. Oh, and I swear I wasn't born in 1953. All of this note passing and school dance and locker room shit really happened.

I was dumbfounded. Despite the fact that I never spoke to Liz in class or in the hall or on the phone and that we almost never exchanged notes anymore, I was positive that our relationship was on solid ground. Why was Brad Hauber running his mouth in the locker room? And why did people that I trusted seem to believe him? Clearly, a third call was in order.

On November 30th, I called Liz up to find out what the hell was going on. I wouldn't take no for an answer. I was going to get to the bottom of this. Only a firm answer would let me sleep. We were together, or we weren't. Hopefully we were. Either way, it was time to put all the rumors to rest, to lay down the law, to prove the Brad Haubers of the world wrong.

Me: Hello, is Liz there?

Liz: This is Liz.

Me: Oh, um, hey, this is Jaehak.

Liz: Oh, hi.

Me: Um, so what's going on?

Liz: I dunno.

Me: I mean, like, are we still going together?

Liz: I dunno.

Me: ...

Liz: But don't listen to Brad Hauber.

Me: Yeah.

Liz: He's a liar.

Me: Yeah.

Liz: ...

Me: I have to go.

And there it was. In no uncertain terms. We may have still been going out. She didn't know. That was enough for me. I knew I was punching above my weight (and in 7th grade, that was literal, since I was 4'11 and 97 pounds). I didn't want to rock the boat. I still didn't necessarily not have a girlfriend. I went downstairs and ate some Salsa Rio Doritos, felling good about life, and Salsa Rio Dorito Day was born.

For 7 weeks, it went on like this. Neither of us knew if we were still going out.

There was the eventual hard out, of course.

At the January school dance, Liz avoided me all night. I suddenly had the gumption to chat, but she wouldn't. Instead, she danced with my buddy Daniel once to tell him to tell me that she was officially breaking up with me. In case I didn't get the message, she also danced with my buddy Shane to give him the same message to give to me.

Rough first breakup? Yeah.

It could have been worse tough. At least she didn't dance with Brad Hauber.



Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gobble Humbug

Thanksgiving is quite possibly my least favorite holiday.  I know this basically makes me a communist, but I have my reasons.  I'm a Thanksgiving Scrooge.  It's like I'm one of the Pilgrims, or the Indians.  Wait, which ones were the bad guys again?

I do think that my dislike of Thanksgiving comes from the very fist one.  When I first learned about the Thanksgiving origin story in early grade school or kindergarten or whatever, I remember thinking it was the most boring story that I'd ever heard.  Think about it.  It's a story about the single dullest group of Europeans that ever existed (the Puritans) and the least interesting indigenous people on earth (that didn't live in igloos) sharing a bland meal.  If the story would have involved a couple fistfights or at least somebody getting too into the firewater and telling off Prudence Goodwyfe, I may have been on board.  A story about two groups of boring motherfuckers sharing turkey and maize?  Wake me up when Custer gets pwnt or somebody bangs Pocahontas. 

Thanksgiving is about tradition, and more importantly, 4 days off.  I haven't had a "traditional" Thanksgiving since the 90s, and my last 4 day break over Thanksgiving was in the year 2000.  A quick breakdown:

2011 - Korea
2010 - Korea
2009 - Korea
2008 - Korea
2007 - Korea
2006 - Korea (obviously, American Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Korea, so I work on Thursday and Friday).
2005 - Chicago, worked sales
2004 - same
2003 - same
2002 - same.  When you work in sales, you fucking work Friday.  You work early on Friday.  There's too much money to be made on Black Friday to not go to work.  I had family in Chicago, but I never spent Thanksgiving with my parents.  I never could have gotten the time off work anyway.
2001 - I was in Lawrence, my hometown, yet every member of my family no longer lived there.  I went to a buddy's house.  Pretty sure I worked Friday.
2000 - 4 days off school and I had no job.  No traditional table though, I met the Old Man and his girlfriend at the time for a whirlwind trip through Vegas, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, LA, San Diego, and Tijuana.  We got to enjoy watching the 1-15 San Diego Chargers getting their 1 win against the Chiefs at Jack Murphy Stadium.  Stupid Chiefs.   
1999 - Florence.  Actually, this was the best Thanksgiving ever.  I ate pasta.  No complaints.
1998 - No idea. I dont want to talk about it.
1997 - I worked on Thanksgiving Day, at a convenience store.  I thought I had it bad, then I spent the day selling single cans of Spaghetti-O's to random dudes.  I'm no fan of Thanksgiving, but I still haven't hit the level these dudes were at.

Thanksgiving is also about football.  Well, I don't care about the Cowboys or the Lions.  Sure, when I was in America, I would watch these games every year, and I know NFL Network has added a more interesting night game.  Maybe I'm a bit more grudging because Dallas and Detroit were both horrible the last few years before I left the States, which made the games lamer.  Living here, all Thanksgiving does is make fantasy football extra complicated during a critical week leading up to the playoffs.   

Mostly, Thanksgiving is about food.  I dig turkey sandwiches and turkey cold cuts, but I really don't give a fuck about a large roasted turkey.  If turkey was so good, Americans would eat it more than once (or twice with Xmas) a year.  If there were traditional Thanksgiving ribs or tacos or sushi or steak, I'd be down.  I'm also no fan of cranberry sauce.  I'm pretty sure I would rather eat goat feces than stuffing.  My three favorite Thanksgiving meals as as follows:  1999, the aforementioned pasta at Danny Rock; in 2002-2005, I ate a Thanksgiving spread at Beverly Country Club in Chicago and largely filled up on lox and bagels.  In 2010, I had a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and some traditional Thanksgiving Chee-tos. 

Finally, what does Thanksgiving really mean in the expat life?  It's mostly a nuisance.  The Daily Show and Colbert go dark for a couple weeks.  Podcasts are interrupted.  Facebook becomes insufferable.  TV shows essentially go on hiatus.  Once Thanksgiving hits, most of my precious, precious TV shows will run one Christmas episode some time in December, but other than that, there is basically no new content until mid-January.  I am forced to endure upwards of 7 cold, dark, lonely weeks with nary a new episode of Parks and Rec and the 22-minute postponement of the desire to shoot myself in the face that it would bring. 

Gobble humbug. 
                                                                                                                      

Thursday, November 17, 2011

This is why we can't have nice things

Thanksgiving is coming up. There was talk of some sort of Thanksgiving event happening in my apartment, as it is the largest and best located of teachers at my school The girl who had my apartment last year hosted a large and successful Thanksgiving event, and some want to keep the tradition alive. I'm fully in favor of this notion, so long as it doesn't involve me cooking, planning, decorating, or doing anything whatsoever to prepare for this event outside of buying beer.

Two girls, the previous occupant of my apartment and her best friend, essentially ran my school last year. They also put on all kinds of events and made Halloween costumes from scratch. I've hung out with both of them and they are both super cool, but they also, like, did stuff. Stuff isn't really my thing.

Now seems like a good time to provide an anecdote from the hazy Kansas days that made up my first year after graduating. It was basically my third senior year. My brother, Dr. Kickass as you may know him, was still in college. While in college, him and some of his fresh-faced classmates made a couple of movies. Dr. Kickass always seemed to surround himself with people that were, like, into doing stuff. The movies were good.

My buddies and I were inspired. We had a video camera. I can shoot. I had editing software. Several of us were good at writing and editing. Nobody could act very well, but whatever. After watching Kickass's movie and drinking some 40s of high gravity malt liquor, we decided to put our talents to use. We were going to make a movie too, goddamnit.

I should probably note that our group made the gang from Always Sunny look motivated, hardworking, and decidedly un-petty.

We decided to make a western. We got to work on a script right away. It had every character that a good western should have - The Sheriff, The Stranger, The Whore, The Piano Player.

Not surprisingly, this endeavor unraveled quickly. Every scene we wrote was fraught with arguments over the plot. Plus, every dude wanted to play The Stranger other than Brown, as he was clearly going to be The Piano Player. We never shot anything, and a couple nights into writing, the endeavor collapsed into a fistfight that was originally sparked from a disagreement on, if I'm not mistaken, French Revolutionary history. The project was never completed, nor spoken of ever again.

My co-worker Sandy said that the Thanksgiving thing last year was really awesome, and everyone had a good time, largely because these two girls worked really hard on it and put together a solid event. Sandy said that they were able to do amazing things like this since the girls were best friends and lived 5 minutes away from each other.

I still can't relate to that. My first two years in Korea, I lived next door to Don, one of my best buddies here. We generally spent our time together drinking beer in my apartment and watching Korean reality TV (TV Ngels, of course) or Borat for the 6,000th time. I also spent close to a year living across the hall from my buddy Martin, certainly my best friend here now, and we pretty much just spent weeknights playing Nintendo. We never made any Halloween costumes or planned any events or shot any videos. How could we? Mario 3 wasn't going to solve itself.

I guess the point is that some people are good at making, y'know, stuff, from whatever things are are around. I may have inherited the apartment, but I didn't inherit the motivation. Some people put on events. I'm not delusional. I know where my talents lie. I'm good at showing up for these events, and most likely making fun of them. That is, so long as there's nothing good on TV and I'm not on a later level of Zelda.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

John Brown

Looks like we gotta change the lyrics...



Fuck Missouri. Death to slavery.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Came All the Way From Taipei Today


Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei




Recently, I went to Taiwan with The Old Man.

Now my country list reads like this: 'Merica, Bahamas, Mexico, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Morocco, Monaco, Italy, Vatican City, UK, Denmark, Austria, Czech Republic, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong (China sorta), People's Republic of China*, Thailand, North Korea**, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan. 26 proper countries (20 of which could even be considred real countries. Sorry, Bahamas, Canada, Monaco, Vatican, Hong Kong, and Singapore), and two more (PRC, DPRK) that I've technically been in without clearing customs.

The Old Man kinda left me in charge of travel/transit related matters, and I learned something I kinda already knew - I'm the best.

As always, click on the pics to expand. Sorry about the lighting - it was raining 100% of the time we were there.






Honor guard at the shrine. These guys put the Buckingham Palace constables to shame. They were like wax figures.



Statue of Chian Kai-Shek. You can see the two honor guards in the foreground.




Taiwan is serious about squatters. This one was on the train. I opted out by loading up on Imodium every morning.




Something the Old Man is good at - thumbs upping a pic. This is the entry gate to the Taroko Gorge in eastern Taiwan.




Bridge gargoyles at the gorge. Try saying that 5 times fast.




The gorge from said bridge.




This temple was dedicated to the hundreds of people who died in constructing the first inland Taiwan highway - right through the gorge.




Pretty awesome little shrine inside a cave near along the gorge.




A shrine near the gorge. There were tons of makeshift shrines all around, this was one of my favorites.




A bridge over the gorge.





The Pacific Ocean, from the other side. I've been in Asia a long time, but this is the first time that I had seen the Pacific proper rather than an ancillary sea. Get a raft, sail due east, next stop Baja.




Longshan Temple, Taipei




Old Man at the National Museum. This was a pretty boss museum, said to have the greatest collection of Chinese antiquities in the world. I really felt like there should have been a large statue of a middle finger pointed at Beijing outside the museum. The museum had a really interesting take on history as well. It was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China, which was China proper until 1949 and has been Taiwan since Mao took over. No mention is ever made of the PRC at the museum. It's not Taiwanese history presented here, it's Chinese history from a Taiwanese lens.






These statues of dragons with a ball under their foot are everywhere in Taipei. I sort of wondered what they represented, but it was a 4 day trip so I couldn't be bothered to find out. My camera broke right after taking a pic of this dragon, I thought it may have been the finale of Camera Number Five.





It wasn't. Here's the first pic Cam 5 took after its resurrection.




101.



As you can see from the view at the top, construscting this sort of skyscraper in Taipei is kinda like raising this magnitude of building in Omaha. Taipei 101 is ridiculously taller than any other building in town.





Good to know.





101 at night.




Taipei at night.



Night market gate.




A stall at the market where we stopped to get a beer. I was happy to see drunks, gamblers, and whores at this market. Up until this point, I had seen zero vice in Taiwan. Taiwanese people are insanely nice, but I was starting to worry that they may be the Mormons of Asia.





Daan Station, where our hotel in Taipei was. I figured it would be pronounced Da-ahn since there are two Chinese characters, indicating two syllables. However, the locals all pronounced it "Don." Thus, these are clearly the Chinese characters for fail.




Look at the upper right corner of this vending machine. Chi-town represent!




This was a pretty cool pack of dogs we ran into.



Hey, you can't have a photoblog of a Chinese region without the requisite panda shot.




Endnote 1: So, why am I so awesome at travel? On our way out of Taipei, The Old Man and I got on a bullet train to the airport without really paying attention. After a few minutes, I read the list of stops on its signboard. The airport was not one of the stops. I acted quickly and got us out of the train. Once on the proper train, I noticed several locals who had been on our original train boarding ours.

From the train station, we took a bus to the airport. We didn't know if we were flying from Terminal 1 or Terminal 2. The bus driver told us to get out at Terminal 2 for Cathay Pacific. However, the sign on the bus and at the airport said that CX was Terminal 1. English signs at the Taipei airport only speak in airline codes rather than proper English names. I was 97% sure that Cathay is CX despite the bus driver's suggestion (and 3% sure it was CZ, which of course was terminal 2). Turns out I was right, as any airline nerd reading already knows. For the record, CZ is China Southern.


Endnote 2: Taiwan was solid. Maybe I'll move there. It felt more Southeast Asian than Chinese, and I love Southeast Asia. Of course, nobody would ever confuse Taipei's nightlife with that of Bangkok, Tokyo, Bali, Seoul, Hong Kong, or even Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Hell, from what I saw of Taipei, I'd rank its bar scene somewhere below Daegu. While chatting with an Aussie dude who lived there, he said (and I agreed) that the locals are nice as hell, and it rubs off on the foreigners, so most every foreigner is really nice too. I mentioned that Koreans are a lot of things, many of those things positive, but aren't exactly famous for being nice. Maybe there's a similar local influence here. Most every whitey I've met in the Korean provinces has been weird, and most every one I've met in Seoul has been a dick. Clearly, I include myself in this category as well.

In conclusion, Taiwan is a land of contrasts, or as the Indians called it, maize.
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