Thursday, July 31, 2008

Totem Tales

I was at Olympic Park today, site of the 1988 Olympics. These heads are there on poles. Here's a few other photos from the last day or two.

Gay balls.

Giant curly fry.

My friend Sangmin and his cousin Ellen at a Korean fortuneteller.

Weird old men on weird old benches.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Ulm-blog

I haven't yet linked to John Glomer's new, new blog (forget the old new blog - that shit's for pussies):

Those in the "inner circle" call it the Glom-blog.

John, I hope my massive blog readership doesn't overwhelm the tubes and wires of your site.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"The Dark Knight" Review - REAL THIS TIME! **SPOILERS**

Last night I dreamt I saw The Dark Knight. Here's my review.

For the latest version of Batman, the dark knight battles not one but three villains: the Joker, the Penguin, and the Riddler. Dialogue is minimal; in fact, I don't remember anyone talking in the whole film. Christian Bale was virtually unrecognizable. He looks so old now, and I don't know why they decided to give him a skinhead look.

The climactic scene came when Batman met the three villains in a swamp. Batman pressed a remote control, the Batmobile fired something at his antagonists, and they succumbed. There wasn't much conflict, and absolutely no hand-to-hand fighting. WEAK!

So honestly, I don't see what all the big hoo-ha is about. People talk about Heath Ledger's tragic final performance blah blah blah... but I don't even remember it!

I'm just glad the film didn't drag on like so many Hollywood epics these days. I don't think it could've been more than a few minutes, all told.

So I'll be the first one to say it: The Dark Knight: THUMBS DOWN!!!

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Monday, July 28, 2008

The Humans are Dead

I'd seen episodes before but I finally got around to watching all of Flight of the Conchords. Love that show.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

11th Floor Dream

Yesterday I was telling my tutoring student how I used to sleepwalk. Even though I don't seem to do it anymore, I was concerned because I have stairs in my apartment, plus a window that opens on the 11th floor. I could see myself waking up as the wind roared past me and I plunged to the Korean sidewalk below SPLAT. The end of Ninja-tek.

Now it's the next day and I took a nap this afternoon. I had a dream as a napped. I was in my parents' house in southern California, and there were stairs that led down into the basement. I started walking down them, when I remembered my conversation with my student . . . and I wondered if I was dreaming . . . ? If I was, I didn't want to go near the stairs. The world mutated as I examined the stairs, and I decided not to go down in case I was sleepwalking.

I've had many lucid dreams over the years, but this is the first time I've shown concern that I might be sleepwalking. My waking mind might be more rational about it and say: Dreams and sleepwalking occur in different stages of sleep. You don't dream and sleepwalk at the same time.

But when I had the dream that was too much to remember (dream research is very murky anyway).

And besides, I'd rather be safe and not fall down the stairs or jump out the window.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Itaewon & Gangnam

Today I went to Itaewon. I've only been there once before, when I first visited Korea in December. After spending most of my time in Bucheon, anytime I head into the big city I feel like I'm trippin balzac. It's like I've forgotten there are other people besides Koreans. Going to Itaewon, the foreigner neighborhood in Seoul, is even more overkill. It's an international slice, but a very biased slice. A lot of the people look military, and even the older white women - you know they're military wives.

Interspersed among the military (mainly whites and blacks) you find Indians. I saw some Indian restaurants that I've got to try. I'm starting to forget things like Indian food.

But then you walk a little off the beaten track and suddenly there's a fucking mosque! WTF? Nothing looks more out of place in Korea. Also some Russian restaurants and other shit. I found the English bookstore "What the Book?" and bought a used Bill Peet book for my classes: The Caboose Who Got Loose.

But before I went to Itaewon I was in Gangnam and got . . .

Mexican food! Fuck yeah!

I had trouble finding Dos Tacos at first. Then I asked a white guy and he and his girlfriend went there with me. He was a Canadian, she was Korean, and I love that us being English teachers is enough commonality to hang out in Korea. I feel like I lose my uniqueness when I venture into Seoul, but it's still fun. The burrito and horchata were quite good - I've had better, definitely, but it was pretty good considering the distance from Mexico.

I also bought Korean condoms today, banana flavored:

"Ausung is not only for you, but also for the one most care. Ausung goes along with your responsibility, love, and pleasure. For our beautiful sex."

Everywhere I see horrible English like this. Yes, and it also says "concoms" on the packaging. Hmm.

Right next to the condoms was a bottle of liquid that looked like lube. I bought it, but when I got home and smelled it I'm not so sure. It smells like lighter fluid or something. I don't think I want it near my genitalia until I have it translated.

After spending a few days locked up doing heavy writing, it was good to tutor this morning then get out of the house. I want to go to Seoul at least two or three times this week. I'll try to post pictures.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I was thinking of movies that would probably be made in the next few years. For superheroes I thought, "The Flash" - there's never been a good Flash movie made. And for remakes I thought, "The A-Team" - that's begging to be adapted to film.

Then I looked on imdb and, of course, they're both in production. We're at the point where everything is converted into every medium and remade and recycled until it's soylent green all the way down.

Thank God.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Night of the Hunter

I'm on vacation the next two weeks and my body decided now would be a great time to get a cold. Ugh.

Last night I watched
The Night of the Hunter. The IMDB has it at #158, and I'm dumbfounded as to why this is. This movie's so boring! It's got Shelley Winters as a mother who gets killed by an evil stepfather, and she would reprise this role in Lolita.

What I hated most about this movie was the weird Christian ending. And the child actors. Horrible performances all around.

The other day I also watched Ricky Gervais' "Animals" - a standup comedy performance. It's uneven and has several weak points, but when it's good it's hilarious.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Review of "The Dark Knight" (by popular demand) **SPOILERS**

I have not seen it.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

So Close, So Far

Tonight I went to Hongdae in Seoul to meet with one of the Korean girls I knew in America. I specifically picked this neighborhood because there is a Mexican restaurant there, and I haven't eaten Mexican food in over a month (major tragedy). I got off work at 4:30 and caught a train, getting there half hour before the girl, scoping out the neighborhood. I found the Mexican restaurant and checked out the menu (made my mouth water), and couldn't wait to return with my friend.

I might want to mention that this girl hates Mexican food. I didn't really care about her opinion, knowing I could easily subvert her to my will. But then I got a text from her that says she's bringing a friend. I winced, feeling my plan crumble. One Korean I could convince to eat Mexican food - but two was probably impossible. Because Koreans are raised on kimchi and athlete's foot soup, their taste buds work as well as Stephen Hawking's legs.

The girls arrived and I tried to steer them to Dos Tacos (the Mexican place), but they weren't having it. I considered pretending to receive a text message - some sudden emergency - must leave immediately - and go to Dos Tacos alone. But I stayed and we ate duck and pork and soup - which was okay, but my stomach craves the texture of pinto or black beans. At the grocery store the bean selection is pretty 'tarded: either red kidney beans, what I usually get, or these heavily sauced pork and beans that just aren't my style. Or Asian beans. You get the point. I was really looking forward to a fat burrito, and now I'll have to wait for another day.


Today at work I was in the teacher's lounge alone. I'm usually the only one in the teacher's lounge because everyone else is downstairs at their desk doing shit on the computer or teaching a class. Not only do I like the teacher's lounge because of the silent, solitary atmosphere, but there's also a couch. This weather makes me feel like I'm constantly drugged - like I have the blunt senses of smoking a ton of weed - without any of the positive feelings. When I wake up in the morning it's like I'm floating through a warm sponge.

Anyway, so I like to lie down in the teacher's lounge on the couch, sometimes falling into a light sleep. I keep a piece of paper in my hand in case somebody walks in, and yesterday that's exactly what happened. I was just about to fall asleep when the door opens. It's one of the tech guys from next door. He sees me hard at work (just lying down) and says, "Lunchee?" - the perennial sign that it's time for lunch. "Oh yeah, yeah!" I said. "I was just about to head down." He goes to use the restroom. I go down to the cafeteria where some of the staff is eating. I grab a tray to get food. Then one of my co-teachers calls my name from the end of the hall. "Adam! You're supposed to be teaching a class!"

I put the tray down. Oh yeah, the schedule has been changed to shorten the days so the kids don't have to suffer in the heat of the classroom and the school doesn't have to waste a lot of electricity on air conditioning.

I followed my co-teacher to the classroom. What class is this? What am I teaching? Who am I?

Oh yeah, handwriting. Easy. Barely any talking to do. I teach them the cursive alphabet in a half-awake daze, and then I really get to go to lunch.

Oh, so back to my original point: I was in the teacher's lounge today lying down, when I hear voices in the hall outside. I bolt upright and look engaged in planning the summer program. The door to the lounge opens and a teacher comes in with three students (boys). The teacher points to a table across the room and the boys have to write a paper or something as punishment. The teacher leaves them there.

As they're working, I get a text message and my phone chirps or whatever the hell it does. The boys light up, realizing I have a phone (I didn't when I started working at the school). The boys take out their cell phones and come over to me: "What is your phone number?" they ask.

"Uhhhhhhh..." I say, unsure of the protocol behind this. Do teachers in Korea give students their cell phone number? "Later," I say. "Finish working."

I'd planned to ask the other teachers about it because it wasn't the first time the kids have asked for my cell number. I asked my Korean friends at dinner tonight and they said it's normal.

However, the kids treat me different from the other teachers. I can't walk down the hall without them shouting my name, waving, telling me I'm handsome and that they love me... and many other things that would freak me out in America but which are normal here. I'm the only teacher they do this for, and I thought it would wear off after a week or two, but it hasn't. Maybe it's because I'm the only teacher that doesn't punish the kids Korean style. The worst thing I do if they're messing around is drag them to the front of the class and have them act as my helper, or test them on the check board. They hate going in front of the group like that, but at least I don't rap them on the skull or make them hold a soccer ball above their head for ten minutes or hit them with a stick. All the other male teachers do some kind of archaic punishment, and some of the female teachers too. I also don't talk down to the kids the way they do. There's something very 1950s about Korea. I can't imagine what it will look like in fifty years.

So the point: I don't want kids calling me all the time!

Anyway I'm rambling and have a headache and it's hot and I'm going to bed to end it for a while.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Disney Back Then

This early Mickey Mouse cartoon from 1931 had me trippin. Mickey carries a rifle and Pluto talks with a weird voice. Hard to believe that before it became the hundred-limbed monster, Disney was pretty cool.

I also love that it's completely devoid of morals.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Adam West Head

Humor Me

I watched the first season of Mr. Show and I didn't really like it. Weak sketches, however much I like seeing David Cross act. I probably won't watch the rest of the series.

Also saw Harold and Kumar 2 finally (waited for a DVD rip) - certainly not as good as the first, but watchable.

More humor! Recommend something!

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

So Hot

It's been humid and hot. I can barely lift my fingers to press the keys.
I haven't been homesick at all in Korea. I don't think I will be. The time has flown and I'm always doing something social and meeting new people. I don't have a chance to care about the past.
By my calculations I'll make a fat payment on my student loan in a few weeks and have it paid off even earlier than I'd planned. Not paying rent is awesome.
I don't like the phrase "around the world" because it implies a starting point, an inside and an outside, as though you're outside of the womb when you're away from your "home" and things will not be as comfortable until you're back in that womb.
Today in the hall after lunch I saw eight boys with their hands and feet on the ground, each hunched over in the shape of an arch. The P.E. teacher was yelling at them, and as he walked along he punched each one in the back and the boys grunted. Not a light smack, mind you, but a distinct CHUD that I could easily hear 50 feet away. Day in the life of Korean corporal punishment.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Animation That Models Thinking

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Modern Guilt

New Beck! Modern Guilt!

One listen has me generally liking it.

I've looked over some best of '08 lists and I guess I haven't been following music because I either don't know the bands, heard them in the past and don't care, or listened to their album once and found it hollow. My favorite song this year has been Bun B's "Pop it 4 Pimp".

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Craigslist Seoul

"God has managed the amazing feat of being worshipped and invisible at the same time." -- Deepak Chopra

Here are two gems from Craigslist Seoul, apparently transmitted from the Californias:

Mrs. & Mr. Jan Adams to be (Laguna Beach, CA, USA)
Reply to:
Date: 2008-06-28, 2:42AM KT

Dr. Adams, Plastic Surgeon, would you take this oppertunity to marry? The answer was Yes by one of white boy and mistreous oldman witnesses. It was done at the Star Buck Coffee, 3rd Street, Promenade, Santa Monica, CA, USA. Due to the Groom to be was in jail, the certificate is being delay. Mrs. Tessmer, was now Mrs. Adams. AYCO.

Homestay-California, Huntinton Beach-Orange County (Huntinton Beach)
Reply to:
Date: 2008-06-26, 5:58AM KT

Hello, I live in California, Huntinton Beach-Orange County with my native English speaker - White husband, 1yr old son and a big dog.
We're considering a guardian to who want to study here from Korea.
I'm Korean and our family is very good for home stay because of below reasons.

1. My husband doesn't speak Korean at all and he is very conservative, opinionated, so it's good environment for Student.
2. We take security and safety seriously because of my husband's job- Investigator.
3. I speak Korean perfectly, so I can help student well to adopt America's life smoothly.
4. We live in very good school group area.- ORANGE COUNTY !!
5. My husband work at home, so we can provide more guardianship.
6. Our son stays at baby sitter's house Mon-Fri 8:30-6:30 and he goes to bed at 9pm. So, there is very little interference.
7. The dog with us is black Lab which most friendly dog for family. And she's trained as police dog and she's a very calm dog.
8. I cook Korean and American food 30/70% ratio. It can be changed.
9. Room will be equip with bed, tv, personal refrigerator, wireless internet, cable and A/C with restroom.

e-mail &
tel: 1.213.550.8314 - me Janny/ 1.213.305.8807-my husband Andrew
fax: 1.310.473.7159
name: Janny & Andrew
address : 620 22nd St. Huntinton Beach, CA 92648
P.S. If you need a picture or more information, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Price - about $2500.00/month

I have no idea what the first one is trying to say. As for the second one - only $2500/month to live with an opinionated conservative? What a deal!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

2 Blogs

If you're looking for more narrative from teachers in Korea, here are two I've been enjoying:

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Karate Kid

I can't wait to get in the classroom again. Testing this week means it's pretty much an office job right now and I really don't need this much time to prepare. I could never work a straight-up office job again. I almost wish I had more than 4 classes a day so I could have more personal interaction. I don't want to use the internet! At my house I use the neighbor's wi-fi and probably won't get my own because I'm trying to stay off it, since I have it in abundance at work.

I want a purely social existence with minimal media. I can't even remember the last time I read a book. I've been reading Final Crisis, and I'll probably read the next Seaguy, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Frank Miller Batman when they're released, but otherwise I don't read comics. It's nice to have access to it in an international setting though via torrents.

I've been listening to an audiobook of Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman, which is equal parts Alice in Wonderland, Crying of Lot 49, and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It feels like a dream that he expanded into a novel. Some of it I like.

Last movie I watched was Hannah and Her Sisters. Nothing special.

Yesterday I left work early and went for a random walk around my neighborhood, winding through a bunch of discount shops and ending up inside a tennis shop. I asked the clerk (with gestures) if she could direct me to a local tennis court and she pointed so I wandered more and found a court but it was full. I don't know if I'll take up tennis here. Probably not. In the early evening I see lots of people doing their daily exercise on this outdoor exercise equipment and it looks like they're maintaining cars. I don't feel like I have the time for tennis right now, either. I'm still not settled yet.

When I walk around in Bucheon everyone is Korean. I can't imagine growing up in a place where everyone is one ethnicity. I know people look at me, although children are the only ones who sometimes stare and point and giggle if I say hello or wave. My brain played tricks for a while, scanning a crowd and expecting to see different ethnicities. Eventually it gave up and realized everyone will always be Korean. I'm the last caucasian on Earth.

Same thing with language. I'd hear voices in the distance and the intonation led me to believe it might be English. When I got closer the truth revealed: eternal Korean.

It's very insightful to be a foreigner, an outsider.

Looking over the English textbook used at my work, it says that if you cross your index and middle finger at someone it means "good luck". What a load of crap. The book also has an American who interacts online with Korean students. His name is "Cyber Bob". Here is a pseudo-IM interaction straight from the book. Snow White is a Korean:

Snow: Hi, Cyber Bob. What's your favorite subject?

Cyber: I like math. Do you like math, too?

Snow: No, I don't. I like English. I like my English teacher, too. He is very nice and smart. His name is "Michael Jackson."

Cyber: Does he look like Michael Jackson?

Snow: Yes, he does. He sings and dances well, too. Next time, tell me about your favorite teacher.

Cyber: Okay. Bye.

Perhaps the implication is that Michael Jackson is now teaching in South Korea.

There's a picture of Cyber Bob at the front of the book and he looks like William Zabka, the Aryan bully who Daniel-san KO's at the end of The Karate Kid.

Got off work at 1 because of the testing, yay, met Sangmin, a language partner from San Francisco, and we went to lunch and then Toona (the clothing mall across the street) where I got pants and two shirts. Then to E-mart to find a cable to connect my PC to TV and my TV doesn't have the right outlet so I have to get another thingy and then back to my neighborhood and another restaurant for fried chicken and beer and then Sangmin went home, I stopped at the bakery for bread and then home to come down from my first alcoholic buzz since I returned to Korea.

I had mustard on fried chicken for the first time ever. It was surprisingly good.



A question I hear a lot here, and a question I usually repeat back in a gay ESL sort of way, is: "What is your hobby?"

I usually answer with generic things like traveling, reading, hiking, and tennis.

When I ask the question back to them they say something like, "Alcohol. I drink soju every day."

Country of alcoholics.

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