Thursday, May 26, 2011

Apt Tourney

I’ve lived in a lot of places. More than I can count without sitting down and considering it for more time than I’m willing to consider it. “Live” is a slippery term, of course, because I’ve “lived” in lot of places simply because I didn’t live anywhere else at the time. For 14 or so uninterrupted years, I lived in a house with my family in Lawrence, Kansas. I got mail there. I did laundry there. All my stuff was there. If I made a trip elsewhere, it clearly wasn’t “moving,” it was a trip. For one night in 1998, I lived in the back of my car in the parking lot of the Hilton (if you’re gonna sleep in a hotel parking lot, why not stay in the the best in town?) in Grand Junction, Colorado. I didn’t do laundry or get mail there, and lots of my stuff was elsewhere. However, I didn’t live anywhere else but that parking lot at that time, thus I lived there. By this logic, I’ve also lived in tents, airplanes, and a questionable part of Hong Kong. For the sake of this particular project, I’m going to keep Lawrence and ignore Grand Junction, but I’m not exactly sure where the line will be.

Anyway, I’m bored with the real life sports world right now, so it’s bracket time. I’m no stranger to farcical tournaments, such as my annual road trip bracket. Since I recently moved to a new neighborhood, I want to see how it stacks up. Up for grabs tonight - the mythical “home” champion. Yep, I’m setting a number of my former abodes up against each other in a winner-take-all clash to the finish. To spice things up, I’m adding pictures. To avoid this post going on for 740,000 words, I’m starting at 16 rather than 64. Breath out. Trust me, if Grand Junction counts, I could get to 64 no problem.

First, the honorable mentions. These are places that I simply don’t have pictures of, or my pictures only include people. This ain’t FB, so I don’t want to include people in my pictures unless it’s completely unavoidable. Also, these places don’t have a chance in hell of winning anyway, so no reason to advance them to the large tango.

Rockford, IL - I lived there 3 years, but I was really young. I do remember that I had a 9 year old girl friend when I was three, so I was pretty awesome.

My buddy Doug’s house, Lawrence - I lived there immediately after the night I spent in Grand Junction, and stayed there a few weeks. I moved out the day that Mark McGwire set the home run record.

Tennessee Street converted garage, Lawrence - I lived there during the month between my California days and my Euro days, and then again during the winter after my study abroad. This was a horrible apartment, literally a former garage. My buddy/roommate Dylan chose it because it was the cheapest apartment in town. This apartment was famous for housing an amazing bender, when I would drink 18 packs of Milwaukee’s Best while watching The Price is Right rather than going to class. Nothing good came of this place.

Rhode Island Street studio, Lawrence - I actually liked this apartment. It had a great location right by the Replay Lounge. Unfortunately, I took 0 pictures of it. Also, when I lived there, I was working the morning show for Channel 49 and got up at 4:18 a.m. every day. It may have won a round, but it never would win it all.

Don’s Apartment, Bundang, Korea - this was a math thing. It didn’t fit into any regions well. Also, I didn’t have a bed. Don’s place was actually alright. I had my awesome Philippines trip while I lived there. I didn’t work. We went out every night. It was convenient to a lot of transit and restaurants. If Don’s made the field, it may have done alright.

Now, to regionalize. Nothing worked on a purely regional basis, so I ended up going with C1 (exotic college-era homes), C2 (less exotic college-era homes), M20 (places I lived in my mid-20s, largely Chicago-era), and K (guess). Seeding will be base on the amount of time I lived in each place.

Let’s meet the contenders.

C1 Region:

1 - Dorm - This was my one and only college dorm, located in Tacoma, Washington. I lived in it for 8 months, making it the least accomplished 1 seed. My dorm was, predictably, close to all campus amenities, though not close to anywhere interesting in town. It was small. I had a roommate. We eventually built a coffee table out of spare bed parts and duct tape. We frequently drank boxed wine and smoked weed, but never had any trouble from the RA since I paid him off with a burger from Jack in the Box.

2- Seal - This was my studio apartment for a summer in Seal Beach, California. Downside - I had a 30 mile commute to Hollywood. Upside - I lived at the corner of Ocean and Main. The beach and every bar in downtown Seal Beach was within 5 minutes walking. I lead a dichotomous life, split between my college-aged Hollywood buddies and my 30-something beach bum surfer buddies. Closest place to get a world-class burrito - 10 feet away.

3 - DuMonde - This was the hotel that I lived in during the Parisian leg of my study abroad. My room was tiny, and I shared it. It was in the far-flung 11th arrondissement of Paris. My roommate Cree and I had the only smoking room in the hotel, which meant we had far and away the most social room. Though it was a bit far from the Eiffel Tower, it was still in Paris, and it was close to two Metro lines.

4 - Casine - This was my apartment in Florence. Cree also lived there, as did my buddy Jack. Of the Florentine apartments in our study abroad group, ours was the least convenient location-wise. We had an unexplainable fresco above the window. Though it was far flung, Florence don’t sprawl like Houston, so this shot of central Florence is only a 10-15 minute walk away.

C1 will be brutal, that’s a murderer’s row. Any one of those places could win the region and win the whole shebang. None of these places had anything to do with living a real life, all of them are pretty much fantasy. I miss them all.

C2 Region:

1- 3005, Lawrence - This was my childhood home. This was the only picture I could find that didn’t include people. When I was 14, I moved into the basement. Throughout late junior high and all of high school, I had the best room of all my friends. I had my own bathroom, a spare room (generally flooded) and a huge main room with a couch. I even had my own door that was unattached to the rest of the house. Needless to say, my friends came and went as they pleased at all hours of the day and night. So did I. Sorry Mom.

2- Michigan Street - I lived in this Lawrence apartment during the end of my college career, then lived here again after my Florida sojourn. I lived with my friend Ashly. Like 3005, my friends came and went as they pleased. Somehow, everyone had a key.

3- Ridge - Ridge Court is not going to win this tournament. This was my first real non-dorm apartment. Yes, Lawrence landlords are actually stupid enough to rent to three 19-year-old dudes. This apartment was famous for our love of Jerry Springer and Goldeneye on N64. Ah, the late 90s.

4- Florida - Wow, an actual house! How did I fall into this? My dad owned it, of course. Also, it’s not the best neighborhood around. One night, some crackheads knocked on my door late at night. For some reason, I answered it. I guess they could see I was there. They asked me if I had any Pepsi. I looked in my fridge, and was shocked to see that I did, as I never buy Pepsi. I gave it to them. I lived here while writing a 30 page paper for a college incomplete.

M20 Region:

1- Chi Studio - I was famously, historically poor when I lived here. This was my first place in Chicago. I had a great location, right by the Sheridan El stop, 5 blocks from Wrigley.

2- Argyle - This was my largest apartment in Chicago. It was also my least convenient Chicago location, a 10-minute walk from the Argyle stop with nothing in between. I lived there with my brother. I spent a colossal amount of money on rent, more than I should have. This apartment had more furniture inside than I’ve owned before or since.

3- Hermitage - This was the last place that I paid rent on, over five years ago now. The final 4 months that I lived here, I didn’t have a job. I went to Florida, Kansas, and Europe. During my last month, I launched a bender to rival the converted garage ordeal.

4- Balto - Living at my mom’s house in the Baltimore burbs was never an ideal situation. She lives a million miles away from anywhere, so it’s impossible to go out or have any kind of life. If avoiding life is a prerogative, and you know with me it is, then it’s not so bad with its awesome cable package, hot tub, and easy library access. Both times I crashed there, a shipping container in a parking lot where I slung fireworks was often "home".

K Region:

1- Starville - I lived in Starville in Eunhang Sagori, Nowon, Northeast Seoul for most of 2007 and 2008. My buddy Don lived two doors down the whole time. McDonald’s is around the corner. For a reasonably long period of time, everyone I knew in Korea lived within 3 minute walk. Starville was kinda like Dorms 2. I think 6 or 7 friends of mine lived in the building at one point. Work was a 7 minute walk away.

2- Doota - Doota-ville is two buildings away from Starville. My Doota apartment was far better than my Starville one. Better couch, better bed, better A/C, more channels, and with a convenience store right in the building. This was my home as recently as January. Of course, by the time I lived here, my social circle in Korea had grown much more complicated, and suddenly my friends lived all over town, neh, all over the country, rather than just in this little hood.

3- Now - My apartment is smaller and less equipped than my Doota home. I don’t even have a TV, so I feel like I’m in danger of being one of those guys who talks about not having a TV. I don’t have a McDonald’s nearby. That said, I have a far better selection of restaurants and bars in the immediate area. The subway is a 72 second walk from my house. Perhaps more amazingly, as of this week, Subway is also a 72 second walk from my house. I can walk downtown in less time than it took me to get there on the subway at my old place. All of the advantages of Seoul urban life are nearby.

4- Banpo - My first apartment in Seoul. Technically, as of this writing, I lived here for a longer time than I have in my current place, but only by a couple of days. In theory, this should be the 3 seed, but unless I get hit by a bus this week, it would move to the 4 in June. I didn’t have a bed, I had a mattress that I had to lift up in order to open my front door. This apartment did have a great location. I lived by the main bus terminal. I could walk to Gangnam in 20 minutes, or taxi to Itaewon in five. Since I left, this location has only gotten better, as the Central City Mall at the bus terminal is now one of the best in town.

That's long enough for one go. Coming up in a couple days - The apartments square off, a winner to be declared. Plus, I'll post pictures of all 16 contenders. This will prove to the internet once and for all that I don't just talk the talk when it comes to living like a cartoon character, I walk the walk. I'll also continue to write the hell out of some cliches like they're going out of style.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Here's an even easier post than a bottom five gimmick. This time, the writing has pretty much already been done, though to be fair, it was done by me.

It seems that I'm actually pretty famous these days. See, I write for even larger publications than good old NES/NAS, if you could imagine something larger than this, the most important blog in the world. Here's a link to my first piece in Korea's own 10 Magazine. I wrote it on Samseong-gung, a major complex in the mountains of southern Korea that just so happens to be the the subject of my most popular post ever. The link the the article is here.

Turns out, one dose of the Jaehak magic wasn't enough for 10 Magazine in my premiere issue. I also wrote about Bar Mojito. That name should be familiar to regular readers of this space, as it's run by Rain, the baller-ist bartender this side of the Pacific. I've written about Mojito and Rain many times before, most notably here. The link to the legit paper article in 10 Magazine is here.

Finally, I was recently interviewed by tour-de-force (ie HuffPo, USA Today, and indie) blogger and longtime buddy of mine Cryn Johannsen for her internet-large All Education Matters operation. You can find that interview right here.

Now all I need is for one of you to PayPal me one dollar to make me a real professional writer. Or a hook up with a real paid writing job. And an exit strategy. Maybe a girlfriend. If I can't get all that, at least hook me up with the bag of chips. Real person-hood is within reach. Baby steps.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Don't be a Hater Hater.

Time to talk about some of the dregs of life.

The five worst presidents ever:

5. Reagan. Fiddled while America’s cities burned. If you lived in central Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, et al in the Reagan era, there’s a good chance you were murdered. Funded Osama. Did other bad stuff, I’m too lazy to argue this, but you know I’m right.

4. John Adams. Alien and Sedition Acts. One of the most fascist moves in US history. Plus, he was a one termer between Washington and Jefferson and had far worse hair.

3. Grover Cleveland (first term). He made up for it the second time around though.

2. William Henry Harrison. Way to die in 30 days, asshole. This forced us into 4 years of Tyler-nomics.

1. W. I’m sure you saw that coming.

Honorable mention - Warren G. Harding, only because most historians claim him to be the worst. He didn’t make the list because his ineptitude was pretty funny.

The five worst Nintendo games ever:

5. The Legend of Kage. Horrible. 4 levels. At least it only took 20 minutes to beat the first time through.

4. RBI Baseball. It lead the way for lots of bullshit non-authorized games from Tengen and various Bible-centric companies. Also, My cousin Adam was really into it before I had a NES, and I was such a Nintendo obsessed little kid that I could watch Adam play games for hours. RBI Baseball was way more boring to watch than Zelda or Mario 2.

3. Goonies 2. There was no Goonies 2 movie, so why the hell was there a game? This game was completely impossible, the mazes never ended. Playing this game at my buddy Daniel’s house caused me to be way late getting home, and I lied to my mom blaming daylight savings time switch. Sadly, it was the wrong clock switch.

2. Ninja Gaiden. This game actually kicks ass, but the final boss is IMPOSSIBLE. When you lose to him, you go all the way back to 6.1. The first time this happened to me, it was the first time that I legitimately considered killing myself in real life as a result of a video game.

1. Deadly Towers. Were they even trying? Why did my brother an I rent this game so often? Stupid Funtime Video,

The five worst casinos I can think of offhand:

5. Monte Carlo, Monaco. One chip cost $90 on the low stakes Blackjack table. I only had enough money for one. I got 11 with the dealer showing 6. I couldn’t double down as I didn’t have another chip. I got a 10 of course. Bah.

4. The Venetian, Vegas - I just always lose here.

3. O’Shay’s, Vegas. This place is horrible. The opposite of Monte Carlo. I should have known what I was getting into when I played $1 Blackjack. Idiots splitting 10s, hitting a 15 against a 6, staying on a 12 against an ace, every bad move you can think of.

2. Argosy Casino, Kansas City. Maybe it wasn’t the best place to go the night after a break up. Whatever, I still blame the house.

1. Kangwon Land, South Korea. No booze. Not for free. Not for pay. Unreal.

The five worst U.S. states*:

5. Oregon. They don’t let you pump your own gas. That freaks me out. New Jersey doesn’t either, but it’s easy to gas up in Delaware and skip filling up in Jersey. Oregon is too big to do the same, you have to get gas.

4. Ohio. Contributed a lot of bad presidents. Always takes longer to drive across than it seems like it should, and the drive is always really boring. Ohio’s only good contributions? Skyline Chili, roller coasters, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and my buddy Eric.

3. North Carolina. Everything it knows about basketball was learned or stolen from Kansas and Indiana. Yet, somehow, it remains the superior Carolina.
2. South Carolina. A state who’s primary tourist attraction is a giant truck stop that sells fireworks.

1. Texas. What are you dickeweeds gonna do? I’m messin’ with ya.

- Honorable mentions: Alaska (that woman), Hawaii (hippies), California (secret homophobes), Nevada (almost elected that psycho), Wyoming (Cheney), Utah (Malone), Idaho (Craig), Arizona (old farts, batshit insanity), New Mexico (there’s a New Mexico?), Oklahoma (meth heads), Colorado (yuppies), Nebraska (traitors), Alabama (only pronounce 2 syllables of their state), Mississippi (#50 in most every US state ranking), Tennessee (killed MLK and Elvis), Kentucky (birthplace of school shootings), Wisconsin (only because of the ketchup thing), Georgia (Newt), Florida (2000), Delaware (state of DuPont), New York (99.9% of the state’s landmass doesn’t matter), Connecticut (maybe #6, fuck them), Vermont (Canada), Maine (too many white people), Massachusetts (Sawks), New Hampshire (There’s a New Hampshire?).

* As Grandpa Simpson said, Missouri is not a state. Missouri can take pride in being wanted by neither the Union nor the Confederacy. Fuckers burned my town because they thought owning people was cool.

Five worst bars:
5. John Barleycorn, Lincoln Park, Chicago. I went to this bar with (over 21) kids from Michigan, Iowa, and other midwestern states. Everyone was carded. All the other out-of-state peeps got in fine. I got stopped with my (legal) Kansas ID. It was scanned, photographed, and various bosses had to come check it out, like I was trying to to get in with a Liechtenstein ID. Once I got in, it was douche central.

4. Padonia Station, Baltimore burbs. The Baltimore burbs are a terrible place to try to meet girls if one is over 22. 104% of the single, college graduate, attractive girls that hail from suburban Baltimore move downtown, or to New York or DC by age 22 and a half. Sausage fest every night.

3. This joint by the Hofbrau Haus, Munich, Germany. I don’t remember its name. It sucks, and it costs like a million dollars to drink there. Stick to HB.

2. Quinton’s, Lawrence, Kansas. In 2009, I did a Mass Street tour, where I hit every downtown Lawrence Bar in one go. It was a hell of a run. It turned out that, in the right state of mind, even bars that I presumed would suck (like Fatso’s or the Taproom or Joe Schmoe’s) could be fun. Quinton’s was the one exception. I felt 100 years old, and I feel like I would have felt that way if I were 19.

1. Metropolis, Seoul. I haven’t been in a year. Of the five bars I mentioned, it’s the only one I wouldn’t step foot in now.

Top five worst fast food joints:

5. Hardee’s. For being so delicious, yet so rare.

4. Burger King. Never a fave of mine, yet if it’s the closest fast food joint to me, I’ll eat it, which sucks.

3. Quick Burger. It isn’t.

2. Lotteria. Horrible burger. Bad fries. Wretched ketchup. Good chicken strips though.

1. Long John Silver. Seriously horrible.

Good times, eh? I predict a sequel at some point.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Trump Sucks.

Trump just fucked up in a big way.

A lot of bad shit went down in my Chicago Era. I moved into town flat broke and left 4 years later thousands of dollars in debt. Not surprisingly, I spent a good portion of those years dirt poor. I worked for a pyramid scheme and sold art out of my car. I made decent money slinging phones for 3 years, and hated every single day of it. My dinners would often consist of a Big Grab of Flamin’ Hot Funyuns, a Skor bar, a sixer of Old Style tall boys, a pack of Camel Lights, and nothing else. The Kansas Basketball Jayhawks lost not one, but two first round NCAA tourney games. It was not uncommon for me to wake up hungover, shocked to be in my own bed, only to remember that I never left my apartment the night before. I don’t even want to talk about the girl situation.

Fortunately, the Chicago Era didn’t leave too much of a legacy. Sadly, one major scourge remains.

See, I spent a good portion of the time sitting in my lawn chair watching a 13 inch TV built by a company called Curtis Mathis. I didn’t have cable, I didn’t have money for new video games, and I had a shit internet connection. I would watch, quite literally, anything that was on, short of CBS. I watched The Simple Life. I watched Joe Millionaire. I even watched regular season hockey from time to time. It was during this time that I took up watching The Apprentice. How was I to know that I’d be stuck with it now?

The Apprentice was trash TV, but it had its moments. Season 1 was something of a juggernaut. I remember that the Redeye or one of those Chicago tabloids even had CHICAGO VS NY as the front page on the day of the season finale, when Bill Rancik defeated Kwame Jackson to become the first winner. The show got progressively worse, of course, but it still kept some of its pop. It was well shot, well edited, and Trump got progressively more ridiculous.

Then, they invented the Celebrity Apprentice. A part of my soul died that day. Did I turn it off? Of course not! Not when I can watch a lesser Baldwin argue with the guy who played Big Pussy. Strangely, the winner of the first Celebrity Apprentice was Piers Morgan, who at the time (like many contestants) was by no means a celebrity, but actually is now. It’s not often that this sort of reality show catches somebody on their way up.

Sadly, the first season of Celebrity Apprentice worked and NBC had nothing new in the hopper *cough* Leno *cough* so the viewing public was stuck with more. Things continued to decline. Now, the candidates no longer lived together, taking away a fun domestic aspect of the show. Even worse, the show went to two, sometimes three hours long, when the original one hour format had contained plenty of filler. It was now impossible to watch without skipping over huge parts of the task. The age of up-and-comers winning died as well, as the next two winners (Joan Rivers and Brett Micheals) hadn’t been relevant since the late 80s.

Last fall, Trump kicked it old school. He returned the show to its roots, with real people as candidates. The show also reverted to 60 minute episodes. It worked again. It was unquestionably the most entertaining season since 2005. It wasn’t what America wanted though. Ratings were abysmal. America wanted Sinbad and Sharon Osborne. Trump had to act. Just like his hilarious meta presidential campaign, he had to give the people what they wanted. The horrific carcass of Celebrity Apprentice was exhumed.

And lo does the corpse reek. This season is a new low in negative Q factor. Richard Hatch. That old chick from Psychic Friends. Niki Taylor: Supermodel (in 1991). Jose Conseco. Famously, Busey.

The women’s team had become unwatchable . The last women alive on the show were Star Jones, NeNe Leakes, Marlee Matlin, Hope Dworaczyk, and La Toya Jackson. I took to rooting for the men’s team, as I am delighted to see any of these women given the boot. In order of least obnoxious to most -

Marlee. I have no real problem with Marlee, but I don’t like the dude who signs for her. He’s annoying, and it’s almost like she gets a bonus player, which isn’t really fair.

Hope. Every Celebrity Apprentice, Trump brings in a playmate. I appreciated the sentiment, this show (and this women’s team more than others in the past) needs the eye candy. Ivanka can only do so much. However, the playmates are always way overmatched, always do poorly, and always dress in frumpy concealing clothing. What’s the point?

NeNe. NeNe has no business being here, because she isn’t famous. She’s from the Real Housewives of Atlanta. If I’ve never heard of you and have never heard of your claim to fame, you don’t belong.

Star. Jesus fucking Christ. Not even the chicks on the View like Star Jones. Still, I would rather share a studio apartment with Star than deal with...

La Toya. It’s not her attitude, though I don’t care for it. It’s not her voice, though that adds to it. It’s her face. I know that’s a cold thing to say, but some people are too hideous for TV. Some people are born that way, La Toya made herself that way. I don’t know how the rest of the cast can avoid turning to stone. This season of Celebrity Apprentice is the first time in my life that I’ve ever been glad to not own an HD wide screen. In fact, I should invest in Samsung, because I don’t know how anybody watching this show in the US can avoid throwing a large remote through the screen during a 60 inch HD closeup of that mug. Blue Waffle is less revolting. (By the way, NEVER google that).

Now, we come back to Trump’s fuckup. Two weeks ago, La Toya got fired. I actually cheered. In the ensuing episode, Trump brought her back! This has never happened before. When you’re fired, you’re fired. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve long known Trump was a bad person, a bad candidate, and a bad television producer. Now, I feel like he’s attacking me personally.

At least if he runs for president, there won’t be a Celebrity Apprentice next fall.

Why do I keep watching? Maybe it’s to remind me of the mistakes of the Chicago era. Maybe it’s because I still hate myself from that time. One thing’s for certain - I don’t want to watch anymore. I need it to go away. Run, Donald, run! The campaign will be for more entertaining than this show. Just know, once you run, that the full force of this blog will be after you. You brought back La Toya. It’s not business anymore. It’s personal.