Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Best Thing Ever

Today was great, relaxing. I went to some bars and clubs in Hongdae last night, got home late, drunk, slept five hours, woke up and finally finished season 4 of The Office. Even though season 4 lacks the tension of the earlier seasons, it's still one of the funniest show on TV.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

The Infectious Allure of Vendor Swag

My contract at work requires me to teach an English class once a week to my co-workers. So my co-teacher sent everyone in the school (only about 20 people) an email asking if they wanted to be in my English class.

Today was the first class meeting. I expected maybe 2 or 3 people. Instead there were about 11, over half the school staff. All women! Almost all the women in the school are in the class, and none of the men. I don't know what to think about this. It sounds like a setup for a porn flick.

My social life has skyrocketed lately, meeting people all the time, getting phone numbers so often that people text me and it takes serious effort to remember who they are. Finally connecting with some native English speakers too. It helps my sanity. I don't get homesick but I get sick of feeling illiterate. I miss English. And English is everywhere! But it's Konglish (a real term used here), the mongreloid foster child kept in a cage and fed kimchi.

Last Sunday I met with a Korean guy who just returned from New York and we went drinking, having beer after soju MISTAKE. Almost sick, I wanted to call work the next day and say I couldn't make it. But I sucked it up, took aspirin, went without shaving, and somehow made it through my classes.

I really have no idea what these kids think of me sometimes. They still go crazy with the "HELLLO HELLO HELLO NICE TO MEET YOU!" when I pass in the hall. I thought that would have worn off after two weeks. I can be walking a hundred feet from the kids and I'll hear them say, "ATUM!" like I'm some endangered species they sited through binoculars. Two girls asked if I would meet them on the weekend... uh, NO. I would like to keep my job, thank you.

Lately I've become fascinated with south Pacific islands. I even plotted an imaginary course that flew me to Hong Kong, over land through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and then island hopping till I'm devoured by 19th century Joseph Conrad cannibals. Maybe I'll do that when I finish my year.

Tomorrow (Friday) I catch up on sleep. Then Saturday I lurch once more into Seoul, meet some girls (no, not my students) to help me shop during the day, and then Itaewon and Hongdae by night. Sunday will probably be my day of rest, as God intended. No more drinking on "school nights".


Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Just as I'm preparing to send a few thousand dollars back to the US next month, the Korean won is at a four-year low (vs. the US dollar). I'm imploring all my homies in America to do their best to devalue the US dollar in the next few weeks. Thanx.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Run Your Car on Tap Water

You know, I've found a lot of things online about running a car on water. But some of them are weird:


Will This Work?
These plans were sent to the Spirit of Ma'at anonymously, from someone who does
not want his or her name printed (for obvious reasons).

We have had them checked by an expert who believes that they are real.

We also have talked with another individual who has patented a similar device,
and we know by personal experience that the technology is sound.
So although we cannot guarantee it, we believe these plans will enable you to
build a car that runs on water.

If you test it out, though, do as the writer suggests and use an old car that
doesn't represent a loss of value if you can't make it work. And leave
everything intact so that you can always reconnect back to gas if you have to.
But if you do get it working, please send us your experience for our readers.
You could be a national hero and help save our country and our world.
We know for certain that an automobile will run on water. So this could be an
interesting project for you mechanical types, with a great reward of never
having to purchase gasoline for the rest of your life — and helping humanity at
the same time.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Favorite Quotes I Found Today

"Sentences are alive. We experience them in time."

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

Out of the 22 children on the flight, only three survived. Firefighter Francisco Alvarez was able to save one of the youngsters.

"I took one of the children into the lorry and he thought he was in a film. He asked: 'When will this film end?', and 'Where is my dad?' He asked if it was true, if he was in a film, but he wanted the film to end."


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I've been listening to an audiobook of Philip K. Dick's first published novel, Solar Lottery. I liked him better before he became popular and all his books came back into print, before they turned them into movies. In the 8th grade I got my dad a copy of The Zap Gun for his birthday or something, because I knew he liked Dick's books. But my dad already had it so I kept it for myself and read it. I only remember it was 8th grade because my English teacher at the time, Ms. Rothrock (sister of Cynthia Rothrock), asked me what I was reading.

The Zap Gun
was amazing. Dick called it a "pot-boiler", one of those books he cranked out in a couple weeks, and it used all this weird science-fiction language that I'd never seen in a book before. It's basically about these weapon designers during the Cold War who create weapons by going into a psychic trance and unknowingly steal their designs from a hack cartoonist (or something). I think there was a lot of sex in it too. According to wikipedia, "The conclusion involves an eclectic mixture of time travel, androids, drugs, toys, and comic books."

I don't think I'm necessarily recommending it.

I think Dick's strengths were creating alternate realities that felt weird but real, and cool titles, and character names that didn't seem right. Here's how I remember the novels I've read by Dick:

Mary and the Giant - early non-science fiction, nothing special
The Man Who Japed - don't remember
Dr. Futurity - don't remember
Vulcan's Hammer - don't remember
The World Jones Made - don't remember
Time Out of Joint - think I liked but barely remember
Confessions of a Crap Artist - better title than book, non sci-fi
The Man in the High Castle - one of his best, with one moment that really tweaked my head
Martian Time-Slip - like this one a lot too; distorts time as you read
Dr. Bloodmoney - another cool title but so-so story. Readable
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - tries to do more than it can completely handle, but still worth reading; ambitious
The Zap Gun - I like this one and would like to reread it.
Ubik - another interesting setup that doesn't quite finish right.
Galactic Pot-Healer - great start, weak end
A Maze of Death - I think this is one of his more solid books
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said - I think Dick's imagery gets better in his later books, his characters feel more real, but the plot kind of falls apart
A Scanner Darkly - bleh. And the movie's pretty boring too.
Radio Free Albemuth -
just go read VALIS, it's better and almost the same story
VALIS - pretty good, but slightly overrated
The Divine Invasion - weak "sequel" to VALIS that has none of the charm of the original.
The Transmigration of Timothy Archer - a good last book, not connected to VALIS at all (as some people claim)

Dick's big weakness was conclusions. They generally work too mechanically or smear all over the floor. But when he's good he's really good.

I can't imagine reading a modern science fiction novel. Let's just say R.I.P. THE SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL: 1895-1980.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008


This book looks quality.

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I feel like blogging but don't have much to blog about.

A lot of things happen in the next week. A friend of mine from the US is arriving to live in Incheon, pretty close to me. A girl I met in June who went to Europe for six weeks will be returning on the 20th. My school starts the regular semester and all the teachers and students return.
All Star Superman #12 is released, concluding one of the best Superman stories ever told. I get a paycheck that I really need - I paid $2000 on my student loan and kind of overreached myself, but that debt's down to $2300 and should have it paid by October 10th! Plus a "celebrity" commenter at Ninja-tek ("kev") celebrates his birthday.

While I'm living in "the Asia" I'd like to go see a martial arts competition (like
The Karate Kid).

Miya is going to Japan this week and wanted me to go with her - I might've but I had work to do. I'm tempted to travel beyond Korea in my year here since I'll have the vacation time. But the time off is in winter and I'll probably want to get away from these northern countries then. Odds are I'll just stay in Korea till next June and save my money, doing big travel in the aftermath.

I'm showing Pee-wee's Big Adventure to my kids at school. I was looking for a recent picture of Paul Reubens and did a google image search. My co-teacher saw the pictures of him being arrested and asked what he did. "Uh..." I said. "I... forget."

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rosetta Stone

Several months back I downloaded the Rosetta Stone software for learning Korean (don't worry, I didn't pay $219). Since then I finally started using it, trying to get through a lesson every day or two.

It seems pretty good for understanding Korean in an intuitive sort of way. There's lots of listening and clicking pictures. It doesn't seem like it would be good for learning to read Korean, but I already knew how to do that. There's also a speaking feature you can use with a microphone. I don't have a microphone.

I really want to keep using it because my lack of fluency is my biggest gripe about being here. Plus I think of the time I spend watching TV that I should spend studying.

Just being in Korea has improved my reading ability tremendously. I'm constantly reading signs and shit in Korean. But my comprehension has plateaued, and my speaking is virtually non-existent.

I'll give a more thorough assessment of Rosetta Stone in a few months. But it generally seems like a good way to start learning a language. Or as a supplement for a classroom. I can't say if it's worth $219. But it's worth free.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Strangers on a Twain

The electro-voices on the subway say "twain" instead of "train"...."The twain is now approaching"... now I have elucidated the title of this riveting blog post.

I vegetated Saturday watching tons of the US version of The Office (I'm at the end of season 2), so on Sunday I made myself get as far away from Bucheon as possible.

I hopped on the train to Seoul and heard three guys talking Mexican and I spoke with them in their madre (mother) tongue - from Guatemala... don't see many Hispanoids in Korea, and I'm still getting used to Koreans working at Mexican restaurants. Went to Hongdae and got nachos and a taco.

Then I went to the royal tombs which are at this pine forest and hills that are like 500 years old.

The contrast between forest and city is quite dramatic.

I was going to head home when I got a text from Miya so I trained down to meet her south of Seoul. On the train I talked with a teacher from England who said he was going to be a professional boxer when he was done teaching in Korea. He said when he came to Korea the school was angry that he was so much heavier than the photo he'd sent them. Can you imagine a US employer saying that? I asked him for his phone number when I left him on the train and he said he didn't have a phone (!). That's like social death in Korea - he gave me his email and I'll probably never email him.

Met Miya for drinks and dinner and I hadn't planned on contacting her again if she hadn't texted me. I'd only seen her once since I got back to Korea and it had felt like the chemistry was dead, but last night we seemed to click again. My general strategy these days is to see as many girls as possible and try to fuck them all. In the past several years I feel like I've been immunized against being in love. My friend Miguel said something to me once that I've thought about - he said that he would like to get married someday, but he's pretty sure the feeling always fades and that he'd probably cheat on the girl.

Today after work I was waiting for the bus and an Asian guy and girl said hello to me. I thought they were just practicing their English, but the guy was Chinese-American from L.A. "This is my girlfriend," he said.

She glared at him and yelled, "I'm your wife!"

He rolled his eyes.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Strange Overtones

You can download a new David Byrne & Brian Eno song called "Strange Overtones" at the website for their forthcoming album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. It's one of those albums without a record label that we're seeing more of these days. I'm looking forward to it.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Technology Has Not Been my Friend

I took a blogging vacation with my real vacation and now that I'm back working I'll start blogging.

I started my summer program yesterday. I started making Powerpoints and had three great lessons planned. Took them to work and all the computers there have Powerpoint 2003. I had saved them in 2007 format. So I couldn't use them yesterday. Boo.

So today I saved them in 2003 format and took them in. I was also going to show part of a movie. There are TVs in every class. I connected the computer and used my powerpoint first. Hmm, the image seems to be...

Yes, it was off-center to the left. My words were cut off! Faaack!

I bugged the other teachers to see if they could fix it (the TV only spoke Korean) and they couldn't. Alright, so we tried a different classroom. Connected the computer and... the TV image was yellow! WTF??!! Well, at least it's centered, so we could just watch the movie through yellow sunglasses. I moved all the kids to that classroom, turned off the air conditioning in the other class and turned it on in this one.

Then I turned on the movie. NO SOUND.


At this point I was mad at the school for their idiot technology that was supposed to me all modern-y.

We just played games instead of watching the movie, but you can only play so much Hangman.

And then as I was writing this post I needed a phone number from my email and fucking yahoo apologized for the inconvenience of not being able to access my account for like fifteen minutes.

Technology has been revolting today.

Ah well, quit my bitching, I'm only working two hour days for the next few weeks.

This is the kind of post I would delete if I was posting more regularly.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Family Circus Redemption Project #32