Monday, October 29, 2007

Which Financial Suicide?

there's the Asian Studies route.. which wouldn't be nearly as painful if the dollar hadn't been shitcanned by two terms of the chimp.

Or there's the totally insane English route..

I tend towards the former, since it has absolutely no residency requirement and thus I could do it from Korea. Not to mention I've done my time in English.

As to Korea, I learn many interesting things at Dave's ESL Cafe, including the fact that there are more jobs than I am being presented by my friends in Korea. I have no idea why that is, but it is.

And there is a clear route, via University sponsored short-sessions, that I could take to

a) teach and,
b) get experience to move up to a really reputable Uni (say, National University, Seoul).

and then, presumably, move back here and be able to teach East Asian Studies or English, or not teach at all.

poi dog pondering...

Saturday, October 27, 2007


1) I inordinately love me that picture some.

2) I remember why it is I used to have a beard. My trip to MidWest City included the loss of my nifty Gillete multi-blade razor. So for the past few days I have been using the old single-blade kind. And 2 days out of 4 I diced my face up brutally.

Today I gave up and came to work unshaven as the gang is going out drinking tonight and I don't want to get a DUI because I'm a quart low on blood.

3) I love the word "punctilious" just because all those little syllables strongly suggest someone who would be fussily exact in the smallest particulars - it is a word composed entirely of them.

That will be all. ;-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

When Topsy meets Turvy

So.. now "real" work wants me just as my Korean friends seem to have no promise for me.

The President at Swamp Valley College has asked me to continue work there through our upcoming planning process. Part of his request is based on an understanding of what I do and part is based on a relative misunderstanding.

Many moons ago I wrote the only actual "plan" that Swamp Valley College has ever (so far as I know) produced. It had an internal and external environmental scan, demographic projections for the next 5-10 years, and a marketing plan to react to these. And it largely worked.

Which is the source of both his understanding and misunderstanding. I kind of like gathering data (particularly when it contradicts some of the chowderheads in instruction) and scheming off of that. On the other hand, my 'success' would be pretty minor in any other environment... it is only because no one here is intellectually curious about reality (as opposed, I suppose, to their academic endeavors and illy-lit offices) that the stuff I've dug up has any meaning. I mean.. all these clever laddies and ladies, you'd think they'd have seen what was happening around them..

Both points may add up to the same thing, but I think I will commit to this 6 months as SVC, particularly as all of the semi-promises about Korean University have coalesced into two job offers I haven't been suited for. This is sad, but perhaps another 6 months at SVC grinding away on conferences and reviews will break that logjam.

And I probably do have some bargaining stance at SVC for some small changes in condition.

We shall see. I have to bring this all to the president as a package and see what he agrees to.

Still.. it's nice to have a big hairy project to work on again... ;-)

Monday, October 22, 2007


Aaaah.. I'm back home and actually doing this from the Monkey Bar at the local airport. It was so tragic to miss this on the way out.

On Saturday I bailed on the conference and set out on a walking expedition of the park, which began with the zoo.

The zoo was clearly marked with a Stonhengian “ZOO” sculpture so even I couldn’t miss the entrance. It was a nice zoo, but it was also a Saturday so the place was full of kids. All having important formative moments, no doubt, but running around like the mad-chilluns they are. It reminded me of why I prefer the zoo during the week.

The zoo is free – a very nice touch - so you can wander in and out of it as you see fit. There is plenty else to explore in the park, my hotel guy said it is bigger than Central Park in New York. Having never been there I just nodded my head as though I knew what that meant.

I believe he thought I was a man with intercontinental experience.

That's the only way I can explain the fact he followed me to the men's room every time I .. er.. 'went.'

Anyway, I had “breakfast” at the zoo, a tasty hot-dog, a truly awful hot-pretzel (most of which ended up in the garbage) and a Bud Light of epic proportions. Because the Zoo is a semi-educational venue I should note that I learned something I never would have suspected. Turns out there is a “season” for cotton candy. And when the cotton candy fields lay stripped of their crops, a few forlorn cardboard stalks poking uselessly in the air? When the seasonal Cotton Candy pickers have packed up their jalopies, tattered belongings, and sad families to move farther south to pick the Kettlecorn and Corndog crops? The Zoo has to stop serving cotton candy.

Who knew?

I also spotted this water-fountain with a dedication that seemed strangely apropos. The water fountain was donated by the Sippy family, who do good the only way they know.

Also, they had been hard at work on the Blue-Monkey Extermination Project as dozens of the savage brutes were hung like bunches of fruit at each concession stand.

Then it was a continued walk down the hill. This was kind of interesting because I walked past probably a mile of unused street parking as people headed up to the $10/$20 parking lots. Oddly, when I finally walked back, I walked on the inside of the park, which was pretty jungular. Here, people parked at least a mile away from the zoo and happily walked to it. I guess it's the difference between walking alongside a freeway and walking in some lovely green stuff.

On the way down I passed a big old metal sculpture that would look tacky at the Tiki-Room in Disneyland and looked even weirder on the side of the road. I suppose it represents the brass balls, steel will, and iron determination....

...aah.. I really have no idea..

Another mile or so down the road is the Science Center which is on both sides of the freeway (the freeway is spanned by an enclosed bridge which contains several amusing displays including radar guns so you can actually put a number to the lawless driving of the unconcerned Mid-Westerners out here). This is a really cool place and you could spend at least a whole day there. They had a Gemini capsule and although I knew from high school textbooks that they had been small, standing in front of the thing was amazing. It looked like something from a carnival ride. Which, I suppose, is about right.

There were dinosaur exhibits, a massive Rube Goldberg device and probably hundreds of hands-on things for kids to do, which kept the ankle-biting down. A bunch of cool things cost money and were scheduled (they have one of those plastinated people exhibits) such that I’d have to wait around.

It also included the "ice cream of the future" which is (as I noted before) the inspiration for the add campaign of a competing college.

It was completely cool, but with a blister developing on my little toe (yeah, I'm a wimp) I decided it was time to start the hike back to the lovely half-price bar. It had been three or four hours of tromping, and I was ready for a chilly one.

Just a final note about that bar. I did all my eating and drinking there from Thursday night to Sunday morning (when, alas, it was actually closed!) and this totaled $64.00. The bartender says the owner is re-thinking the half-off policy and I can figure why. But I was lucky enough to be around while it was still ending.

The life I freaking lead!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Presentation.. OVAH!

And it went relatively well, the discussant and several members of the audience were English Lit instructors from Korean colleges. That gave me a moment of fear, but they seemed to like what I had done and one suggested that looking at KYI's reception in Korea might find similar critical responses as those here.. perhaps even stronger. It was obvious the moment she suggested it and I look forward to following it up.

Another presenter on my panel did a hilarious and sometimes sad presentation on the state of modern Thai literature in the world - basically trapped behind social and governmental disinterest (at best) and the lack of translators.

The great panel was the one before mine (ours) where two women talked about Japanese bodily representations of Koreans during the occupation period. One traced the career of a Japanese gynecologist who was attempting to prove that Korean women were husband-murdering freaks. His methodology was suspect at best - one of his classics was to diagnose husband murderers as frigid or too-easily sexually excitable. Perhaps. But to classify some of the women as both? This paper also included a drawing of a Korean woman with a prolapsed uterus that will put me off sex for a year.

The second paper traced Japanese responses to Koreans before and after a 1923 earthquake. It would have been funny if it wasn't sad. The government created a false taxonomy (kind of like the famous "know your Jap" poster the US did during WWII) which did pretty much nothing but create confusion (partly because it was internally inconsistent) and result in the murder of people of all races, including some Japanese.

In both cases the Japanese were stuck in the "colonized our own folks" problem. Like the British and the Irish, I suppose.

Then, I had to race back to the hotel.. because..

The walk to the conference also began with one step, but it was a faltering one. I walked from the hotel, just over a mile and once I got there I switched from tennis shoes to work shoes and went in search of something to eat. Found an enormously chatty wrap-maker and was all the way up to the cashier when I realized I had left my wallet at the hotel. Awkward, but the nice people let me have it anyway.

The walk was when it sort of hit me that I was in a different place. Airports, taxis and hotels are all pretty similar, though the Chesire is a different kind of hotel. How different? Because I was at the hotel everything in the bar and grill was half-priced. I had three beers and a pizza for just under $13. That’s a bargain and if I hadn’t been tired, I’d have done more damage to the alcohol.

Architecturally this part of the town seems like a mix between Indiana and Lousiana. Lots of big stone houses on plantation like grounds. I’m right by some kind of park and walked by what must be the ‘rich church ghetto’. Six enormous churches (from Vedic to Christian Science) on lush grassy grounds. All of stone, of course. At some point on the walk I could see the famous arch, and the park has a zoo that is supposed to be one of the US’s best and is also free. That might take up some of tomorrow and will certainly make me wish I’d brought my long lens.

Many of the conference attendees seem to be Asian.

Which is my “duh!” moment for the day.

My discussant and chair were both great and I need to email them tomorrow with my thanks.

Now I think I need to take some pictures of the hotel, which is kind of odd. ;-)

Friday, October 19, 2007


So I'm on my way to St. Louis for my conference and the journey of 1,000 miles begins with an idiot (not whatever the heck I said in that other post) and, as fate would have it, I am that idiot. Got up early and had the BAG drop me off at the airport. The early part was

a) so she could get to work on time
b) so I could get to the airport bar with two hours to work on my unfortunate state of consciousness.

The lure of the Monkey Bar overwhelmed my common sense, and I had the BAG drop me off at terminal 3. Which is where the Monkey Bar is and where I thought my flight was.

No such luck.

My flight was back at terminal 1.

So, on foot, I humped all my stuff back over there and was only able to have three beers and one increda-DRY™ sammich before it was flight time.

Good news for me, since that cost over 30 bucks, like I was at the Fairmont or something.

I managed to nap a bit on the flight, which was only half full. This was despite the requisite hollerin’ child 10 seats in front of me.

They put obnoxious pets into little (ventilated, VENTILATED!) boxes in the aft, or some other word for a place they store monstrosities (hold? cell? ballast?). Why can’t they do this with children under the age of five?

I pick the age of five because after that age the kid should be able to be cowed by the threat that other passengers will repeatedly beat him/her if noise continues. And if not, the beating is morally justified.

Once again, I have a bulletproof plan, and no one will listen

I write this at LAX, waiting for the next flight. On version 14 of my paper since I got my revision orders last Monday... Got all sneaky and read the papers of the other people and since I am going last I swiped quotes from their papers to use at proper times in mine.

it will seem like I was listening!

the hotel beckons...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A competing college has come up with a new advertising scheme. It is based on dots and a representative piece is shown to the left. The dots are on everything they do and take up at least 30% of each piece they do (In that thing to the left they take up the whole thing). The rest of the piece is normally a large chunk of single color with a single sans-serif font (Universal).

The designer, or the person who hired the designer, wrote an explanation of the dots to be placed inside their catalog which was the design kickoff. The person who hired the designer also held a college-wide meeting to explain what the design meant.

In that entire room, apparently, not one of these fine educators stood up and asked, “Hey, if you have to explain this to a bunch of eggheads like us, what are the chances that our potential students are going to make anything out of this?”

I showed the card that had been developed to the BAG. She picked it up with the dot-covered side up. She quickly flipped it over. She saw the unbroken green expanse with some small writing at the bottom. She flipped it over again, and once again. She looked up and asked, “which is the front?”

I laughed and said it was the dots. She shook her head in understanding and stared at it for about a minute. She shook her head and finally dropped it. “I don’t know, I just don’t see the word or picture in the dots.” I laughed my head off as I had tried to discover the same thing.

But, sometimes dots are just dots.

And if you have to explain a marketing approach to your audience? It just might be bad marketing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Save The Environment Blogger Day..

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

It’s “Relating to the Environment” Day over at Blog Action Day. And they’ve bought the stupidity, as evidenced in this quote:

“A blog about money might write about how to save around the home by using environmentally friendly ideas.”

WTF? What is an “environmentally friendly idea?“ The “environment” is just the system around us and it changes constantly. Anything that changes the environment is, by definition, environmentally friendly. Therefore anything you do is environmentally friendly. It’s a term without any meaning and it’s gonna be BIG… medium …. small.. unimportant… Al Gore didn’t get his Nobel Prize for cheesy thinking like this.. he focused on a specific thing that could decrease the quality of life for humans. So that works…

I, as a tree-hugging communist (and practicing abortionist), might say, “save the trees” or “keep Lake Tahoe Blue” for aesthetic as well as practical (we do need that pesky oxygen) reasons. But if Darth Cheney wins and the earth is reduced to a smog-covered grey tableau of pockmarked earth with grey waterholes, smoking tree-stumps, and factory chimneys smoking above hovels, but before dome-covered cities populated by the rich?

Guess what? That’s the fucking environment.

Stupid farking hippies.

Now, get out there and reduce pollution, or hug a tree, but don’t give a shit about “the environment.”

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hmmmology.. the study of uh.. uh...

My lovely discussant had promised to return comments on my conference paper by "this weekend" and as the weekend is almost over and I have heard nothing back, I think I shan't. Since she's out there in an expired time zone, I am even more certain of this conclusion.

There are several interpretations...

1) My paper is so excremental it can't be helped by comment
2) My paper is so brilliant she is slumped in her bathroom, under the sink, wondering why she payed all that money for her PhD when she just could have dated me
3) She's busy

Doesn't really matter...

I have another conference in my sights in January and will be sending off an abstract this week.

If the swine in Korea (who rather owe me, but who knows how that works with a Waygook?) won't find me a job I'll just keep plugging away here. Nothing else to do, really. Work for some big vacation time and try to do my research on vacations. I don't believe they'll let me down, but I have yet to see anything since Mr. Pak had something lined up for me last March.

The conference will happen, the reviews will publish, and I will continue to gnaw away at this thing....

Like the tailless rodent I am.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My Favorite Self-Absorbed Blogger

Is Namaste by a mile.. Check out this classic
Guapo, as he henceforth shall be called, lives on a side of DC that is in the process of receiving what some folks like to call a remedial "face lift". I, for one, happen to feel right at home here. The first day after my arrival, we bellied up to the bar for breakfast at a place down the street, where Spanish is the first and only language and the fried plantains are simply divine. Further down the street, we continued our feast on enchiladas and two Coronas at a place where the jeans are skin tight and even the jukebox speaks Spanish. Guapo laughs good-naturedly that between my bus trips and grocery shopping adventures, I have become a rather popular figure in the local community. Four months in the Middle East have me haggling with the street vendors for better prices on mangos, which Guapo patiently says has nothing to do with my popularity..
Classic stuff. Her topic, barely disguised by self-serving cultural analysis, is her own "popularity." And babydoll can turn anything into herself, normally with a beautiful slap at some sort of un-named class she can't stand for not being cool. After all.. "some folks" like to call things a "remedial 'face lift'" and those are the people who don't like Spanish, beer for breakfast and skin-tight jeans.

Do you get it. Really GET it? Those people aren't cool.

Heck (Hell, maybe!), Namaste digs the urban scene "I'm one of those people who actually finds the American suburbs more creepy and disturbing than the alley where the local drug users leave their needles." She is the loner! She is "radically different within." She is "not a part of a herd."

These 300 or so words of self-stroking are a two paragraph introduction to a substantially shorter section in which she admits she likes the United States.... because it is more convenient for her to shop there...

Namaste, Namaste, all is Namaste... ;-)

Friday, October 12, 2007

I suppose there's no backing out..

after you send an obsequious, yet begging, email like this:
Discussant REDACTED,

Attached is my paper, although I am still making minor changes to try to get it down to 15 minutes speaking time. Also, as this is my first conference, I am willing to make any changes you suggest. I suppose my main concern is that the work is more archeological than theoretical.

I didn't see, on the site, any preferences as to format for citations, or need for bibliography? If there is a standard, please point me to it and I will follow that standard.

Any other expectations a first-timer might be unaware of?

I look forward to meeting you in St. Louis (please send a return mail indicating you received this).


I hope I hit the right combo of suck up, deference, abject deference, and fearful moaning.

We shall see

40 Year Culture?

So.. after my "Get Fuzzy Thursday" I find myself staring relatively blankly at various blogs by folks in Korea and wishing I were there.

It occurs to me that the thing I'm really liking is generally the thing that is new to me. This is less than epiphanic. People like shiny new things, I have the attention span of a gnat with ADHD, and I have now been in my current job (if you exclude "boring drunkard" which, since I've never been paid for, I think it is fair to exclude) for twice the period I have held any other single job. I've probably only lasted this long here because I've worked at different locations and for about 14 different bosses in the six years I've been here.

But I also wonder if I'm bored because the United States has become predictable (stupid?)?

• Is there an active and shared culture in the United States or have contesting cultures retreated into vast mountain retreats from which the survey others with disdain? Politically this seems to be obvious. I blame the Ipod. ;-)

• Has culture become a Bloomian zero-sum game in which giving credence or play to one book or belief is to necessarily take credence or play from another book or belief?

• Is it moronic to try to judge the "culture" of a country that has only formally been in existence for slightly over 200 years? I mean, crap, I love England, but how many years did they spend painting their asses blue and fighting over dry waterholes, drier women, and wet tribal leaders? It took a few decades to get to Shakespeare, if I remember 11th grade cultural history correctly.

• If you don't become obsessed with one aspect of culture or another, is this a "40 Year Culture" in the sense that you'll pretty well have it figured out by that age and thus it loses lustre? And would that be any different in Korea or Sudan - I mean, I suppose most 40 year olds have their cultures pretty wired, no matter where they reside in those cultures.

It is the days that questions like this occur to me that I am thankful that I have never been a quitter. Specifically, I still drink...

Time to draw a red stripe over these freshman level questions.. ;-)

And I suppose I have answered my own question in a way. Any culture that can produce "Get Fuzzy" is still a valuable one.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Screwy in St. Louis...


it's fixed now. I have lodgings at the lovely Chesire Lodge and my flight is cleverly planned so that I need not wake up early on either departure date.

The lovely discussant promises her feedback on my paper by Saturday. The BAG fulminates darkly about how Koreans always "love to hold me up." Hey, sometimes I stagger baby, sometimes I stagger! And I think a six day turn-around on a conference paper, for a post-doc who is reading several others, is just fine. As far as I'm concerned it means I don't have to do any more work on the thing this week...

Work itself is oddly under control... all these events are unfurling as planned and I seem to be marginally better at planning them. One community event and one Major Conference Entertainment to go, but with luck these will be the last for a very long time.

On a more (less?) amusing note, one of the previous wives of the "Just Married Uncle" has had a stroke pursuant to surgery. The surgery had been scheduled on the same day as the JMU's wedding, which led to some speculation that it was a sort of dramatic "fuck you" to the whole day.

As I noted to my BS, if this were true, the ex-wife clearly hadn't thought her brilliant plan all the way through. A death the day before would have had some swing, now it becomes a very sad footnote. I wonder how the JMU feels? If this has any impact any longer...

Oh well... as I sit at the bar waiting for

1) My laundry to dry
2) The BAG to get here
3) Total Consciousness..

I don't wonder all that much.

Because I'm selfish.

And all I really need is a good reason. ;-)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What Would George Bush Do?

Adapted for reality from the otherwise excellent

Monday, October 08, 2007

Weddings simultaneously impress and depress me. The amount of optimism, joy, decoration and, of course, booze at the things makes me all misty. The amount of religious cant, denial of reality, and of course, the booze at the things makes me believe all mankind is insane.

My Uncle’s wedding was no different, though as always it was lovely to spend time with the “kids” in my generation. Spookily (that fucker tempus fugits) there is a new generation of kids below us who will no doubt some day come to our late-life events and sit at a table far in the back, drink our champagne, and honor and mock us at once. It is a ritual of premature burial that all generations are subjected to. It is just a shock that it might come to mine. ;-)

I woke up without the hangover I had hoped for. This was disappointing, as I had put the work in the night before. I was amused to see, as I searched for the coffee-maker, which was inexplicably hidden under the sink, that the tea-maker was on the counter, as was the automatic rice-cooker. I'm just guessing the hotel gets a lot of Asian Trade. The ride up to the church was brief and easy, and I arrived to quite a lot of people I didn’t know, milling about outside a church I was even less familiar with. The service was nearly endless and replete with the idiocies of two religions, Catholicism and Urantia. It is a point against the orthodoxic stupidity of Catholicism that the quotes from the Urantia Bible (Instruction Manual?) seemed the height of rationality compared to the “we betrayed God so in time he betrayed his son” babble of the priest.

As I thought this sort of thing throughout the entire ceremony, and since I did not have the cheat-sheet in the program (lyrics to songs, prayers, call and response shiat, and the like) I couldn’t play along, I suppose it is only due to Gawd’s mercy that I wasn’t smoten by a plague of some sort.

Still, the venue was nice, and whatever else you can say about my uncle, he is a creative mofo. In the last month before the ceremony he decided (perhaps his bride had a hand, or clenched fist, in the decision – there were various tales floating about the reception) to create some artwork for the wedding. He made 7 incredible fabric/painting pieces which you have seen strewn throughout this little post. Two are recreations of actual weddings, and the others are multicultural type representations of idealized weddings (though I can't say why he made the Thai wedding picture with George Bush's face?)

The pictures don’t do justice as the textural differences between the paint and fabric, and the richness the fabric brings the pieces, was quite amazing up close.

As mentioned above, the ceremony not only mentioned eternity, but also approached it. The head.. uh.. Catholic, did quote his “favorite theologian, Elton John” which gave me quite a start as I thought the Churches’ formal stance on the ghey was that it was only appropriate for priests and the like.

The words I have to say
May well be simple but theyre true
Until you give your love
Theres nothing more that we can do

Love is the opening door
Love is what we came here for
No one could offer you more
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen

You say its very hard
To leave behind the life we knew
But theres no other way
And now its really up to you

Love is the key we must turn
Truth is the flame we must burn
Freedom the lesson we must learn
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen

Just when I thought the long nightmare was over, the head dude called us back together for the “first eucharist” of the married couple. My uncle informed me this was not an event that should be photographed. This made me the only photographer at the event who wasn’t flashing away with abandon through the entire ordeal ceremony.

No matter, I was beyond bored at that point. I like me a little ritual, but for chrissakes.. the champagne out there at the reception might be getting warm, and the icing on the wedding cake running like it was abandoned in MacArthur Park. Think of my gross physical desires you great drunken pederasts, and get this wedding over with!

OK.. that sounded a little weird.

Anyway, we sat around for about 4 hours drinking champagne, red wine and coffee. The last two hours of this binge were spent discussing what our plans after the wedding should be. I made any such plans moot by choosing the wrong direction on the 110 when I tried to head back to the hotel. I was past downtown when it occurred to me that I was going the wrong direction, and at that point I just decided to keep heading down to the airport. It was a beautiful day in LA, the traffic was reasonable except around USC (Hah! USC went on to lose to lowly Stanford!) and I got to the airport, then home, with little difficulty besides the truly enormous woman who was in the seat beside me on the plane.

And since I may get home and never post to this topic again, I give you a sprinkling of photos from the blessed event:

The Headerast (of course that’s a totally unfair characterization. Duh!)



Wedded Bliss

Crazy Weiner Dog

One Ring to Rule Them All

Holy Crap.. As I sit here “Running on Empty” comes on yet again… it’s like a message from Jackson Browne, or something.

That message is.. ‘get drunk ya fat fuck!’

And so, with an hour to go until boarding, it is time for this little patriot to go salute his fine country the only way he knows…

Some Sam Adams Lagers, and then a wide stance in the airport restroom.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Pics from the Heat Of Los Angeles....

Want to go, go without a map
Far away, away, I won't get trapped
By the sound, a town, the sun beats down
In the heat of Los Angeles

Want to fuck, fuck, fuck this up
Gonna feel, feel, feel you up
Had enough, enough, enough's enough
In the heat of Los Angeles

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Consultation with MAF and BAG suggest I should approach tomorrow with a hangover.

I can't say "Mission Accomplished" (since a chimp has already ruint that phrase) but I can say one last trip to the bar on the 4th floor might help..


Belly, Beast, Beer...

LA is, as it always is now that I have the means to sort of enjoy it, a beautiful nightmare. My Mapquest directions, which I had plenty of time to read in the driving longeuers (that can’t be spelled properly) of the 110, included the odd advice:

Take the US 101 N exit…..(to) …. Merge onto US 101 S

This probably would have worked, but I got trapped in the right lane during rush hour and kicked off the freeway somewhere in downtown LA. By a stroke of luck some freeway shadowing led me to Sunset, which I know from my years of gay hustling as a youth, and I did a bit more highway shadowing and soon ended up on Los Angeles Street, which is where the New Otani Hotel actually is. And really, what could be more right, more ‘here I am in LA’ than being on Los Angeles Street, right off of downtown? If I only had some sunglasses to wear tonight.

After a false pass at the parking lot exit I was in to the hotel parking lot entrance and registered. The room was bit odd. I had trouble getting the light to turn on, and while I was bent over the switch, something lightly smacked me on the top of my head.

When the light did turn on, it became clear that what had hit my head was a bit of the near torrent of a leak coming from the air-conditioning unit on the ceiling. There was a nice little puddle, which wouldn’t have concerned me much. But there was also the steady dual smacking onto the carpet of nearly matched dual leaks in the conditioning unit.

Those who only know me for my crudity and insensitivity will be surprised to hear that sleep is my “Princess and the Pea” issue. I love sleep immoderately, but find it difficult to achieve. Any noise alerts me and I start predicting the local hell of regular noises. I’m sure this was a positive trait back when saber-toothed tigers were on the loose. I’d have saved the whole tribe several times over. But in this day of garbage collections, cars containing sound systems worth twice the value of the car and, not to be too blunt, the BAGs otherworldly assortment of snores, googles, hoots, and rumbles (most of which suggest the four horsemen of the apocalypse are losing a close football game to the Hell’s Angels)?

My asleep vigilance is a positive negative (which I leave to the mathematicians amongst you to sort out).

Anyway… I turned the fan on to see if it would cover the sound of the drip. It would not.

So, I went downstairs to request a room-change and, bango-bingo, mysterioso.. was upgraded to a lovely suite. Completely unimportant for a one night stay at a hotel (most of which has already been spent in the bars – and they have THREE bars here… I can be a “nearly” drunk three times while actually working on a staggering hangover for tomorrow’s wedding. If that isn’t a good vacation, I don’t know what is)

So I got all set up in the new room, and headed down to bar number one in the lobby. Two Mex-Am women already drunk and highly entertaining. A guy from El Salvador. Some woman (probably my age) in vast need of stick-reduction-surgery so her lower alimentary tract could relax and so she could shut down “Outlook” and at least touch the one light beer she had ordered.

A grand time was had by all, except the woman with the broomstick impacted fundament.

Then, as the lower bar closes at 10, I moved up to the upper bar.

Where I still sit, having left two messages for my alleged relatives, who are apparently off in Japantown eating at some restaurant that is soon to show up on “Kitchen Hell” with a floor manager pleading, “you can’t kill the cockroaches, we’d have to come up with a new ‘sweet and crunchy’ sauce.”

I suspect I will have one more beer, hook up to the tubes here (THEY FREAKING CHARGE BY THE MINUTE! THAT IS NOT A SIGN OF A QUALITY HOTEL!!!!) and then see if they have porno on the cables.

That should pretty much bore me to sleep.

And as I sit here preparing to go, I see something new.. the bartendress tosses a handful of the (hottish) party-mix (nuts, chex, that kind of thing) they serve into a Styrofoam cup and then pours diet coke on top of the thing. Is this a drink, appetizer, or emetic?

It shocks me so badly I order another beer.

Just for my nerves.

Which are also rattled by the effeminate faced and hair-doed Japanese guy here in suits sharper than razors.

But now it is time to focus on the Angels game. Since I’m here in the city of angeles and all.

HAH.. just as I typed that, some Red Sox dude with Predator hair hit a game-ending home run and totally bummed out this room….

It’s enough to give me hope --- that when I head up to my room and chew a half a sleeping pill it will send me to the Emergency Room and I will have an excuse to NOT attend my Uncles’ wedding in the AM.

I am never that lucky.

In The Outer Circulatory System of Darkness...

The journey of a one mile, much more the journey of one thousand miles (roundtrip, you skeptic), begins with a cocktail. This is folk wisdom I am sure I have noted elsewhere. And so it is that, yet again, I found myself in the Monkey Bar in the Big City Airport. This time I arrived at the airport sober, so I could actually make some judgments on the drinks. Well, the two I had, which were both margaritas. Excellent. Baby crushed the limes in front of me and I sat there working on my conference paper. The flight was a bit delayed, so I was able to order the second one.

When I got to the gate, the little Filipino dude who took about 30 seconds comparing IDs to tickets (yet oddly never once looked at the ID and compared its picture to the person presenting it) pulled out something like a mascara pencil and made big old circles around the two instances of SSSS on my ticket.

Turns out I’m a potential terrorist.

I always suspected this.

Sadly, as usual, I squandered any potential I had, and after something resembling a heavy-petting session with an even older Filipino than the one at the gate, I was let through. The nice woman at the gate warned me that this would happen again on my way back, as I had purchased my tickets within a week of my travel.


So terrorists don’t plan their attacks? They’re just sitting in the cave, partying madly for guys who don’t drink, do drugs, date women, or shave, and all of a sudden Abdul jumps up and yells, “Hey, Abdul! And Abdul and Abdul and Abdul and Abdul Mohhamed. Oh, OK, even you Abdul! Let’s get tickets on some planes, before the weekend, because my uncle Abdul is visiting on Saturday, and we’ll do some terrorism! Let’s go!”

That doesn’t make sense…

I realize that I’ve typed more than a page of academic text here, and all that tells me is that I should have had one more drink. It’s far too early in the day for me to get into any of the codeine or few vicodins that I have as a result of my various joint pains.

On the other side of this flight I have to pick up a rental car and part of my strategy there is to be able to speak and have control over my drool, bowels, and eyelids. Mixing drugs with these drinks would be bad (I hasten to add that they would be bad only because they would result in denial of my rental car. Let no man claim I’m against any kind of mixing of things that alter mood. All by responsible adults. Of course.).

But I swear to god.. if they push this flight back anymore than the 20 minutes they already have? I’m swallowing everything in my kit bag, including the shaving cream and slightly soiled thong underwear. And for those of you who are grossing out at the thong underwear? Of course I don’t wear the things. What kind of idiot do you think I am?

I found them in the airport parking lot.

And now, with the flight complete it is really only about a half hour late, not nearly as dire as the leaving an entire hour late might have suggested.

Friday, October 05, 2007

"SLO" Instructors? Redundant, right?

MCAA Conference paper is growing in leaps and bounds, since I am at a conference on "Strengthening Students Success." The conference is at the Moderately Nice Conference Hotel, and as a volunteer my only real job is to drink coffee and ensure that session evaluations aren't filled out by the session leaders.

About 200 educators are here from around the state, which virtually guarantees that Student Success will increase, at least for a few days, in their districts. The "theme' is Student Learning Outcomes (SLO), which is the flavor du jour in semi-administrative academia. It comes with the standard, "how dare you judge me?" reaction from faculty.

But all this nice time allows me to search the web for examples of conference papers (and boggle at how stupid I am - my writing style is linear as algebra compared to most of this papers) and lift little bits and approaches. Between this thing and a quick round-trip flight to LA this weekend, I should have the paper done by the weekend's end.

And the presentation I was going to wait for on Sunday seems to have been cancelled, which will save me the cost of another night in the Hotel. All goodage..

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Some pics from a trip up to the Mountains almost 2 months ago. Sorting through my laptop for things to toss out (you will erase my pornography when you pry my laptop from my cold, dead, and grossly gunky hands!) I came across these pics and liked a few.

The click to bigger versions....

The Bee and the Butterfly

Bird in Air

Down in the TrainStation at Midnight

I'm not sure I want to be my degree online.
Partly because I don't know what it means..

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bee-Movie Scenery

The Korean Embassy is normally a calm place (as that apparently placid picture to the left demonstrates). The BKF and JAE attend to common household chores whilst also making a meagre living selling jujubes and crude handmade crafts to soldiers. The Great Unifier is still far to young to marshal his powers and make us all his pawns in his single-minded drive to reunify Korea. At this point he can’t even control his bodily functions, so all is pacific. I might also note that he is, so far, not a complainer of any sort and that’s just the kind of kid I want for my Godson.

Mission Accomplished.

So I drive down on a Friday. My relentless drive for success at work (for I am steely-eyed, slightly graying at the temples, rugged-chinned and intense) means that I have maxed out my vacation time. So I was able to take Friday as a vacation day and drive down to the embassy.

There is something very nice about bailing on work and taking a day off to drive somewhere. I was even unfazed by the fact that the splendid array of rock-songs-from-wayback-then that I heard on the way down, included the back-to-back combo (on different stations to boot) of “Time” by Pink Floyd and “Running On Empty” by Jacksone Browne. This is a terrifying combination of songs about age and lack of meaning for a man of 32 years old, much less for 41 year old (muscular and attractive though I am), but ruggedly handsome survivor such as myself.

Still, I made it down and much of the day was quotidian, even by cross cultural standards. The rice and beer of arrival, the telly-vision. and the attack of the killer bees.

The BKF is uncholeric by nature, and when he wandered back (from a bathroom break) to Mission Impossible playing in the living room he was preternaturally composed when he said… ‘AAAAAAIIIIIIIIIEEEE3EGHGHHH! THE BEES HAVE COME FOR MY CHILD!!!!”

Well, or asked “how do you tell if bees are trying to start a hive?”

As it turns out, I have some knowledge of this. When I was but a young sprout, a cluster of bees looking for a new place to chill came swinging through my elementary school playgound. This was at lunch so all the kiddies, young (me) and secretly homicidal (my sister) were watching. The hive was relatively spread out and I, and some other kids, took too running through it. We got through so fast no bee had a chance to sting us.

Except I was a stinking hippie. With long, flowing, honeyed locks. Filthy and down to my ass. My little statement of rebellion against the man managed to catch a bee.

Like the cheese-eating surrenduuurrrr(!) monkey I was, I ran whimpering out of the swarm. Towards my sister, hollering, “get it out of my head!”

To this day I’m not certain if my BS was trying to kill the bee, or the voices she surely believed I was in thrall to (Zepplin, man!).

But, responding to either call, she took the plastic pony she had at hand, and beat my head (not using the body of the horse, rather using the spiv-sharp front hoof of the thing) until no bees could possibly still be alive, and the buzzing in my head could not possibly recede.

Really, it IS all about family.

Once I was out of the hospital I went to my 5th grade teacher who explained that bees, sometimes, would move nests and it would be in a big old fly-by.

Which, after that long and completely supernumerary digression, is what these bees were doing.

BKF is un-Korean in some ways. He is the guy who introduced me to the “Why The Fuck” theory of Korean response to a problem. This is the reverse of the Mexican versions which means, ‘Why the fuck fix it?” To Koreans the question is “Why the fuck not fix it?” And like Mexico, Korea has plenty of workers. Unlike Mexico, their workers. Er…. Work…

But BKF was unimpressed, or nonplussed by the attack… he tried to figure out who you might call to respond to such and insect attack.

But JAE’s old man was entirely bored.

So that little bee problem you see above (First pic is long shot; second is where something with a bolt was pulled off the wall creating the hole; third a picture is of the hole crawling with the evil, stinking (Japanese or American, depending upon you Korean orientation) bugs that was gonna have to be fixed!


Take it as a parody, or take is as proof of the efficacy of the Korean “WTF” theory, but the pictures you see here document the short but deadly war on the bees.

The old man first had to gird his loins. In this case he donned a heavy coat, a mesh bag for holding vegetables, a plastic bag, and some dishwashing gloves which were pulled on outside of the arms of the coat. This process took about 20 minutes and the entire nuclear family was involved in it. It was something very Korean, and something I can’t quite categorize other than to say it was amusing to watch but something deadly serious for the old man..

Then came the machines of war. The old man marched off to battle with two cans of bug spray, stick, a tube of joint-compound, and an old table. The boys brought the table round and it was on.

The attack was frontal. Two handed spraying of the hole with the contents of the two spray cans (which certainly hadn’t been full to begin with, but the bug spray cascaded down the side of the house like a waterfall. When the cans began to run out of propellant, the first work was done and you could watch bees fly away from the wall in uncertain spirals, and then at a certain point fall out of the air. So much spray had been applied that I’m certain several of the bees died of drowning long before their central nervous systems began to fire uncontrollably. One of those pictures over there is of Jong Qu nervously watching this part of the spectacle.

Finally, came the salting of the earth. The joint compound and a stick turned the hole in the wall into an Apiary Cask of Amontillado. There were only two kinds of bees, the ones trapped inside the wall, and the ones trapped outside the wall.

After a short interregnum in which scairt and lost bees beat about the sealed wall, all was calm.

Until the ghosts of the bees trapped within the walls rise from their mortal graves, enter the home through the power outlets, heating vents, cooling system, and around the light fixtures.

Then they will kill and kill AGAIN!

And just because, a relatively high-res picture of the lovely infant himself..