Friday, October 31, 2008

SCRAPS -Midterms; Editing; Language; Assorted

I'm not normally a big fan of bullets, but a couple of unrelated things:

  • I have a nasty cold which syncs well with the crappy grey and damp weather we are having around here. Thank God this will be a stay-in weekend.

  • In the course of one of the oral mid-terms I asked my students to describe their father. One of them did the normal thing "nice, etc." but then, struggling for something to add, said..."and.. and... he's a.... a supergenius!" I nearly fell out of my chair, but I was happy that at least one student listens to things I say. (Apologies to the only true superJenius, the MAF)

  • The BKF may have lined up a big project for us to work on. I hope so, since I've missed that kind of work. It's with Ewha, so it's prestigious, but it is also a lot of work for BKF, over a hundred pages, due in late November.

  • I have found yet another free Korean class which I will attend for the remaining four weeks of my five week plan to dominate 한국 말. It's on Monday nights from 7:30 to 9:00 and it is on campus.

  • Finally, I did get my holiday schedule, so I will be flying to SFO on January 24th and leaving from SFO on February 12th. Everyone alter their existing plans accordingly. ;-)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mens of Letters

Hehe.. got my first letter back from my penpal and it was excellent and humbling. The penpal is, by nurture or nature, a teacher.

I received some corrections and a letter back with some new verbs and very simple terms. I could figure it out (translation dictionary in hand), but it stretched me.

The humbling bit? Missing a marker like “에서” (meaning “from”). Crap, I’d just “learned” that one. ;-)

Yet, with that having happened, “에서” should now be burnt into my brain just above the spot where the lizard things end and where the pornography ones begins. Meaning, this marker should not be forgotten! ;-)

I will be, forever, a bloody 에서 (uh… you need to do that phonetically, and mispronounce it a bit, to understand the “joke”).

It’s all part of the five week plan.

Because that is as long as I can stay on one. ;-p

Not that I would stop trying to learn, but I hope this 5 weeks will demonstrate that I can learn something in a different language.

As it turns out (I await the “I told you so” guffaws)? I may be too stoopid to learn a new language. ;-)

Luckily, I’m not to stoopid for RawknRoll and so I’m off to the store to purchase a beer. Then back home to listen to “Tommy”.

I’m sure it will make me wish that I were Canadian.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


When I woke up on Saturday morning my "gout" was gone. So the OAF and I (fortified with half a pain killer) set out across town to find the "International Festival."

First we passed the "dead town" with its protective wall (when Koreans do re-construction they generally ring the site with a 20 foot tall metal fence, but for the day this fence was down).

I had to snap a pic, as I am obsessed (crap! MSM will think I'm abscessed!)

Further along the way we found an education festival and the OAF .. well.. the picture tells the story. Despite losing several positions in academia in the US, she was THE expert in Korea and held the surveyors rapt for some 20 minutes.

We wandered past another festival we were incapable of catching the meaning of. We were amazed at the line (at least 200 people) for free popcorn.

We got to the "International Festival." To call it a flea market would be like tarting Sarah Palin up to Nobel Scholar. It was a series of booths with second hand goods and other booths with food of suspect origin. Making, in total, about 30 booths.

The internationality of the thing was best represented by the book-sales booth, in which all books were Korean.

So we started walking back towards home. At a certain point we got tired and decided to take the bus. Alas, we knew not which bus to take. The good news was that we were on the main northern road along the top of east side of South Central (if that makes any sense). So we boarded a bus and sat down. As we did, I said the fateful words, "at least this bus can only go straight ahead or to the right."

The bus went about three blocks and then hard left.

At a certain point it became clear we were paralleling the freeway to Seoul. When we got to Sintanjin (the town Jong Geun took us for excellent duck) we knew we had gone astray. We hopped off of the bus and grabbed another one going back the other direction. It finally got us to a place I could recognize (the OAF is completely hopeless at location and/or direction) and we got home in one happy piece, watched a bit of TV and slumbered.

Today was easy.

We slept in, in excessive fashion, and headed downtown for Galbi-Tang breakfast. I swear, when I'm back in the empire, I'm having the OAF cook up Galbi-Tang each and every NFL morning. It's the perfect breakfast if you are mildly hung over (or not) and want to chill for a few hours; nice and hot, sleepy-making, and filling.

Then she shopped while I headed up to the Cafe Idee for a glass of wine and to download the "Who" discography in a bit less than two hours.

Man, I love this place!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The third distinct season

Winter is cutting into fall here. Yellowish skies and warm autumnal breezes turn, in a snap, to cold and cutting gusts under scudding grey clouds.

One of my favorite times of year, actually, and Al Green plainting on the music box…..

I can still feel the breeze,
that rustles through trees,
and misty memories of days gone by
But we could never see tomorrow,
Would you believe that no one, no one,
ever told us about the sorrow..

A bit cliche on the (web)page, but infused with pathos when old Al did his simultaneous whisper/scream thing.

Things here in the land of the failing son are still going well. The lads in the Admin class took me out for sam-gyap-sal and vastly underperformed their national image as drinkers. Still, the restaurant was a grand one and they did pass along the good news that their class expects next Tuesday’s session will be the final one of this half-term. Not that these lads aren’t fine and doughty ones – indeed, they are good at both English and rude humour, and that goes a long way towards making class sessions a good thing. Still, these three—night—a—week night-classes are a freaking drag. A week or two off would be a special thing. ;-)

Last evening the OAF and I celebrated 11 years of mutually indentured servitude ;-) with a dinner, a quick visit to the 901 club (our newly crowned Social Director had rounded up some Pumpkin Pie – the OAF had doubles on that) and a quiet night at home.

Quiet except that I somehow managed to fark up the big-toe on my right foot and spent today limping about like Richard the III. I’m into some more sensible shoes this evening and hope that things are well enough in the morning that the OAF and I can still down to city center to see that thing… well.. that thing that was totally inevitable -----

----yes, Daejeon has tired of the pesky details attendant to the “International Bartenders Championship”, the “International Balloon Festival” and the “International Water Festival”.
The effort was too great and now they have trumped all of Korea’s attempts to go global, get hubbed, and be international.

Yes, this event is simply, and so inaptly, named the “International Festival.”

No more need for the titles to contain specific frauds, the big fraud is now the only important one.
Daejeon – it’s as international as kimchi!

Pictures will certainly follow, although if I need to gobble some pain-killers to walk, they may be even a bit more out of focus than usual.

And then “All the Young Dudes” rattles through the wires from the music box and all is well (escept my toe)…

Friday, October 24, 2008

In Which I Get an Overseas Penpal

Living in a far-away country like Korea, it has always been my wish to have a pen-pal in the United States.

Today I took the first step towards that, by sending my friend OX a letter. I've been staring at the written aspects of Korean for about 10 days now and thought it was time to take a shot at writing something. At the beginning levels, at least, the language seems very rational - conjugation is easy right now, but I suspect I'm not learning any irregular verbs and that as I go on things will become more murky. Unfortunately, my Friday afternoon free class canceled, but I have picked up a 1.5 hour lesson (with a previous student) on Thursdays, so I should still have Korean lessons four days a week.

I'll try to do something on Fridays, but I'll need to find yet another tutor.

Anyway, the letter is below and, at least, nothing should be misspelled as my Korean operating system and Word with a Korean dictionary kindly points out how poor my spelling is. I think this should actually help with it.


안녕 하세요,

나는 대전에서 너는 쓰고 있어요. 학생을 오늘 가르쳐요. 한국말 약간 쓸 수 있어요. 수주를 오늘 밤 마시고 있어요. 지금 가요. 피곤해요. ;-)

안녕 가세요,

OK.. not so many words, but my head started to hurt. ;-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fashion Critical for Upgrading Korea's Image?

That alarming looking fellow on the left is "Andre" (안들래?) Kim and he is according to the Korea Times, a key part of Korea's international branding effort.

Which really shows the thing up for what it is.

It begins with that navel-gazing thing, "He has created a unique image and brand name instantly recognizable by Koreans." Which is great, but really doesn't do a thing to create that international brand. And then the claim that Kim is "Korea's first male designer, Kim is a trailblazer in the fashion world." seems pretty weak sauce and completely unaware of the Versace's and Gucci's of the world. Congrats to the man for breaking whatever barriers he did in Korea, but really?

And, of course, there are also the classic elements of wishful Korean journalism - it straight-facedly drops lines like this:

Kim, who has, perhaps singlehandedly raised the international profile of Korean fashion design in the last four decades

Foreign audiences, according to Kim, were very impressed with his designs.

To be fair, this piece is written by an English speaker (Maybe, her name is
Cathy Rose A. Garcia, but that could be the result of a marriage). Contrast her approach with this:

In 1997 he was presented with the Presidential Culture and Art Medal for his contribution to the fashion industry. In 2003 he was awarded Italy's Cultural Merit Award and was elected as UNICEF's goodwill ambassador.

In November 2006, Kim showcased his costumes representing the beauty of Korea at Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Cambodia. The show titled "Fashion Fantasia: Angkor Watt" is the first of its kind ever held with the ancient temple as a backdrop

Sounds like the guy deserves some props (and it is worth noting that this write-up clearly was done by a Korean) and has had some international presence, but if this is what you're reduced to writing about to support your international branding effort? And your writing is this teeth-grinding style of unsupported claims mixed with toadyism, and it's published in Korea?

It probably isn't helping.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just another day in the park

Sunday was lovely walk to the park day. The OAF and I slept in like gadabouts, so we were a bit late getting started. On our way to 남선 ( "Namsun" and yes, there will be a test) park, we ran across Boris, a rather large type of spider which is all over 데전.

We also passed by the ghost-town that ADAM and I had photographed (here and here) right after the mass evictions. This lump of earth is where the road used to be and offstage-right some enormous earth-moving machines were pushing dirt from here to there.

We had breakfast at about 1:00 – a delicious 갈비갈 (Galbi meat) with some of the tastiest side-dishes I’ve had in 데전. The park was cool – as usual, scads of families out there doing wholesome family things. Also the inevitable packs of ajummas in full-body track-suits, cotton gloves with pink rubberized palms, baseball hats and masks, all walking around the park but doing everything possible to make sure that not the slightest particle of nature could conceivably contact them. These ajummas walk relentlessly, almost grimly, normally in some variety of a circular pattern (depending on the trails) and they never seem to look up from the ground directly in front of them. If they are in pairs, or packs, they almost never talk with each other, instead circling and circling and then, soundlessly, wandering off whence they came.

After a while we sat down in a lovely little glade and chatted and watched folks walk by. Then it was a walk back down the Daejeon river and into downtown where we sipped beverages and then parted ways. Being an idiot, I bought a bottle of soju on the way home and felt a bit worse for it this morning. ;-)

At least I did my laundry.

This weekend the OAF and I went out a couple of times. Both times we were in boites populated primarily by ajummas. For two Calis it is bracing to watch ajummas out with each other. They seem to return to the skinship of their youths.

I suppose another way to say this is that they party and cling.

Well, in our small sample.

I suppose this is a goddamned reductive way to look at fellow humants. ;-)

In one case the ajummas were at the Pirate Bar and drinking with Betty, the proprietress. In the second case they were at a new chicken restaurant that opened up down the street, right across the street from where I used to live.

There is a lot of talk, probably most of it palaver, about how Korean marriages stay formally intact while the husband and wife withdraw from, even hate, each other. The story goes that Koreans are forced into marriage after childhoods in which they never interact in meaningful ways.

The women are princesses and the men are princes. I mean “princess” and “prince” in the most exactly bad way that those terms can be used. The girls are spoiled and the boys are spoiled more. Thus, the argument goes, Korean women expect Prince Charming while Korean men are something more like ogres who cannot see beyond their own needs. This is a perfect non-reflection of Confucianism. ;-)

This construct is discussed a great deal in the expat community. It seems based on some truth, but even as I type that I also see it as the expat community risking elbow-dislocation as it pats its own cultures on their backs. After all, we would never be so barbaric. We’ve always treated women according to their skills and means.

Heh, I kill myself!
well.. someday

I should also note that this construct is primarily discussed among older expats who are.. eh… to put it politely, struggling for relationships. So let’s call it a cross-cultural thing in which long entangled relationships can become long estranged.

Which is a long introduction to how we viewed this wonderful ajumma thing… a bunch of old broads drinking, eating chicken, and pouring themselves all over each other. It seemed a public, yet intensively personal, demonstration of friendship and allegiance.

When one of the ajummas started missing cups when she poured beer?

She still got to pour beer, but her hand was guided.

Now that’s farking love.

I suppose, tangentially, this recognition of kinship in the “other” is a recognition all of y’all I miss.

Pour my beer, biatches! ;-)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It really isn't the time of year for this..

And it's emblematic of the grit in my brain.

There isn't supposed to be shit like that floating about at this time of year.

Last week was flatish.. The BKF did not win the contest he was in. I had to retool what I was doing in two classes, though in the adult class that means a change to a drinking expedition with them each Friday - which should help me learn Korean in the way the BKF has always suggested .. in a bar with some guys. Finally, my ongoing competition with the "butt-smell" that comes from the drain in my bathroom continues to drag on with no clear winner.

Still, I think I've lined up a student to help me with my Korean, and two of my classes are cancelled this week.

Had a lovely walk with the OAF to the big park in the center of town.

So, why am I whining?

Cause I GOT that!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I are Konfuzed...

Explain this for me.

First a bit of explanation.

All the Miguk shows on Korean TV have been chosen to scare the shit out of Koreans about the US. We have all the CSI/slasher shows, all the criminal prosecution ones, and Monk which has an advertisement showing a cow with a flower (Amurican BAD Beef icon) and presents the hero as insane.

Oh, that kind of show and Wrasslin’! So it ain’t all bad...

But I’m watching CSI:NY4 and every character is a super genius (not like MAF, but maybe close). They can solve a crime with the slightest bit of evidence – they can see through any ruse – they can profile a killer based on two words used in a High School yearbook.

And yet, they go to a doctor’s house, cleverly subvert the lock, and walk in with their flashlights on. OK, perhaps that’s a bit more subtle than turning on all the lights and cops might do it this way. But it turns out, of course, that’ it’s a crime scene.. all lovingly detailed in flashlight beams as they discover it. Nothing but corpses here, my friend.

In the door, across the hall, up the stairs, into the bedroom, all by flashlights.

Then they explore the entire crime scene by flashlight.

When they leave the crime scene to return to their lab, that scene of brilliantly intense and gory explications (verbal and scalpel) of the "body" of evidence?

Flashlights still on.

Why didn’t one of these geniuses turn the lights on?

Surely it would have been easier to find that all important evidence?

I’m confused.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Internationale...

The Balloon Festival was, as I had predicted, “international.” Also, as predicted, some Korean lads tried to rap and … well .. just check out the “A Flock of Seagulls” hairdo on the one kid,

Compared to the bartenders’ championship, though, there were actually some other internationals at the event and the name kind of made sense. One of the balloon operators had even been flown in from Texas. The Chinese students from the “BPU Nearly a Bizness Skool” were nowhere in evidence. As usual Student Services had picked them up at 9:30 in the morning and dumped them off at the festival site. Someone needs to alert them that nothing really starts at any festival till mid-afternoon and thus they are boring the students to tears by dumping them into empty venues.

I walked over to the park, which took about two hours, and when I got there things were just beginning. The OAF had been sick, so she took public transportation to the event. We were both starving and ate some 닭길비 (Chicken Galbi) that was nothing like any other Galbi I’d ever eaten and was mainly notable because it didn’t seem hot at first, but kind of crept up on you as you ate the stuff. Here is OAF, happily shoveling it in (Please note her “drunken-master crossed chopsticks” style).

Then the water-droppin helicopter came by and left us a lovely rainbow.

The balloons started to go up, but emblematically, the “It’s Daejeon” one got started, and the collapsed back to the ground, the victim of an unseated valve somewhere at the top of the balloon.


And brutally down

Then it was off to the “Bio-Sphere” where the “mini-massage” fish worked on the OAF’s tangled cuticles.

Finally, a long (and mainly hopelessly lost) walk to the Weizen House where we ate bad German food and I drank beer along with many other BPU staff members. This long walk finally concluded when we found a PC Bang and I looked up the email about the location. On the 103 bus line, said the invite. So we wandered around (this whole lost process took about an hour and a half), found the bus line, hopped on the bus, and 2.5 blocks later and one right turn we were at the restaurant. I felt relieved AND retarded.

A taxi home, a visit to the Pirate Ship bar next door, then off to bed.

Today we head to downtown South Central to see a band with some of our friends in it. I need to stay undercover, since I got a pretty good redneck sunburn yesterday.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This and that

Patience is a virtue, but I lost my virtue long ago...

These multiple Korean classes have combined to make me muuy (Korean for “very”) confused. LOL.

And the Dongguk job seems to be sort of fading off into the distance - one of the positions has already dissapeared and my second meeting in a row has been called off.

I hope that will sort out, but don't anticipate a problem getting another job whatever turns out with Dongguk.

Today we head out for the Balloon Festival downtown. Being that it is in Korea it will undoubtedly be called the “International” balloon festival and necessarily feature Koreans trying to rap and a bunch of dance troupes of varied skills.

Korean rap is ridiculous to anyone who grew up around the US version. The essentially foppish style of the Korean young man doesn’t work for rap. Seeing four spindly dudes with hairstyles from “America’s Next Top Model” try to act ghetto is amusing mainly for how far it is from the real mark. There’s also the fact that the ‘real’ rap moves, like profanity, swearing, crotch-grabbing, tattoos and drug and alcohol use, simply aren’t allowed onstage in anyplace in Korea that I’ve been. So you get this really silly version of rap that makes the wiggas back in the US seem completely OG.

But, as I’ve mentioned before, the B-boy dancing here is world-class and always worth watching. The traditional dances are pretty good as well and when the inevitable group of Korean pre-teens playing drums and gongs comes out I’m, well, I’m hella down. ;-)

Korean attempts to do “International” dance leave me cold. I suppose this is partly because it is almost always expressed in belly-dancing. There is something odd about Korean women trying to belly-dance. I can’t put my finger on it, but it looks wrong and that isn’t about ethnicity – the style is just slightly off somehow, but I can’t get in touch with my inner gay-choreographer to figure out what the problem is. It’s just there. I suppose part of it is that Korean women are slim-hipped and generally small-breasted – you don’t get that feeling that you’re watching the in-between space above hips and below breasts.

Still, Koreans come at these things with considerable enthusiasm and that always makes festivals fun. The rapping and belly-dancing may be wildly misguided to a Western eye, but the enthusiasm is contagious and the desire to share public moments is a very refreshing change from California.

With that said, I guess I need to start walking towards Expo Park.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Not only did I receive news that ALL classes are canceled next Wednesday, but I just received a call that my Admin class tonight is canceled!

To the bar!

Blast from the Past

Man.. saw this on the Gomushin Girl's website - you have to love the "Lucky Pierre" reference tossed in there:

Defeating the Lazy

Ah.. the things I do to get work done.

While searching the internet for literature supporting my next abstract I came across the perfect book on Questia. I snagged about 50 pages of it onto my thumb drive, but made a deal with myself that I couldn’t look at it until I had finished/started several things I needed to do today.

First, I went to the evening Korean class. Very difficult – most of the students are above me, but it is also going to be very helpful if I stick it out. Then, after reading “organization” posts over at Reassigned time (here and here), I decided that I needed to organize and catalog all these various articles, journal articles, and the copy-right infringed cool books I had copied by printers here. This is pretty much done, if you accept the dodge of all the articles I put in the folder called, “Need to Sort.” ;-)

Also labeled all the CDs and DVDs I’ve burned and tossed out all the detritus. Cleaned the house a bit.

Now I have 50 pages of killer copy, two beers I just snagged from the store around the corner, and no classes until 6:10 tomorrow night. Mega-bonus.

Tomorrow I will get 50 more pages of the book, but the price of admission will be my Korean homework in both classes, as well as finishing up the article archiving (it’s all going into Excel) and a bit of necessary shopping (shoelaces, earbuds, and a .25 to .25 inch speaker cable.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Learning Korean: Now it Begins?

Today should be the start of a leap in my Korean speaking ability as I have put together a nifty little schedule of instruction.

On Tuesday I have the beginner class offered by BPU to foreign staff. About an hour and a quarter of really basic stuff.

On Wednesday I have a two hour class with some instructors here, one native and one not. This will probably end up being two hours a day.

On Thursday I will meet with my tutor whenever I can. One and a half hours here.

Friday I go to the restaurant and take an informal lesson from the bosses' wife. This will probably end up being 45 minutes or so.

If I keep this up (unlikely?) I should improve my Korean at least a little bit. Which would be a good thing as it is currently shit.

One class down and three to go for this week..

Monday, October 06, 2008

Back in the Saddle?

I’ve been a bad blogger. Between the end of the conference last Monday and the rush to get my second paper (for the World Cultural Tourism Association) off by last Wednesday night, I was in a haze of writing, reading, and re-writing. After that got done the 901 club turned into a norae-bang fest and as a consequence I was up until 2am Friday morning. This, or course, wrecked Friday.

Saturday was the “International Daejeon Bartender’s Chanpionship” in the Convention Center downtown. This was surprisingly entertaining, although the only international thing about it was that I was there (One miguk), the OAF was there (one little Indian) and BPUs business school bussed in a load of Chinese students. One of the judges was from somewhere in the UK and, true to his culture, spent most of his time acting drunken and over-familiar.

The contestants were all from Daejeon and all seemed to know each other. The competition was sloppy but fun. Every contestant dropped something at least once, and some were like the proverbial manna from the sky. There were a bunch of decent individual gags, but the flow was pretty bad. This was exacerbated by the fact that most contestants stayed behind the bar and the images of them that were projected onto the screens were from the same perspective as the crowd already had. Thus it was hard to see what was going on.

The one guy who was clearly the best (we didn’t stay around for the judging because they brought out dancers immediately after the competition – Korea loves its dancers at ALL public events) technically was also the best in showmanship, and was clearly also some kind of athlete as he, compared to the other contestants, bulged with muscle.

At halftime of the competition I went around and sampled the (sample-sized) samples of the vendors. BV wines was there, completely ignored by the Koreans, and it was nice to taste a semi-decent wine. The lowlight of the vendors was some awful hooch mixed from an energy drink and Jagermeister. Sure, I drank it, but man was it foul!

I’d like to see what a real “international” bartenders championship looks like, because even with the flaws, this was fun enough that the OAF (and therefore I) chose to skip the free bus back and watch the completion of the finals instead. We ended up walking back home, which took a couple of hours, and dining on French fries and fruit, with a dessert a few hours later of fried sogogi..

Thursday, October 02, 2008


One of the real joys of living in Korea is reading the surreal and often incomprehensible "Ssomi and Hobo" by Artier Lee. This one seems to have been loosely(!) inspired by the Chinese space walk, but it's kind of difficult to tell.

Word on the street is that the translation is bad (it is apparently done in Korean), but I kind of like it. It's a good cartoon to read when you're hungover and nothing makes sense..