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.
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