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Thursday, September 25, 2008


I just watched about 20 minutes of Sarah Palin interviews here. Not a good way to set the mood for my day! Her inability to talk about anything other than opportunities we "cannot afford" to miss and to conceive of a scenario where things don't go exactly according to her(/God's) plan is breathtaking! Not in the magical pixar way, but in the "I've somehow been flung into outer space and the cold, heartless vacuum is sucking every ounce of life out of of me and I hope it's over soon because the pa[l]in is just that unbearable" kind of way.

She also apparently can't mention a single detail about any of her policies:

"Couric: When President Bush ran for office, he opposed nation-building. But he has spent, as you know, much of his presidency promoting democracy around the world. What lessons have you learned from Iraq? And how specifically will you try to spread democracy throughout the world?

Palin: Specifically, [emphasis mine] we will make every effort possible to help spread democracy for those who desire freedom, independence, tolerance, respect for equality."

Could you be less specific, please? HAVE YOU NO SHAME? It reminds me of the lowly sophomore (myself included) squirming in their seats trying to answer questions in Prof. Liebowitz's "H201 Intro to Modern Lit: Darwin and the Modern Ache."

But I digress:
"Couric: ....Why do you believe additional troops, U.S. troops, will solve the problem there? [Afghanistan)

Palin: Because we can't afford to lose in Afghanistan, as we cannot afford to lose in Iraq, either, these central fronts on the war on terror."

Huh? Troops will solve the problem because the problem needs to be solved? (Also, a "Central front" is a little oxymorinic, right?)

There was a similar moment regarding the bailout, but I can't find it in the transcript. The question - what will happen if the bailout fails? Answer: we can NOT afford for the bailout to fail! Ergo...er...huh? Is there some correlation between something being bad and its being impossible that I've missed out on all my life? Perpahs that's a corollary of believing you're doing God's work?

Please send this link to any of your friends who are terrified and not planning on being in the US come election day:


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

And the answer is: 은행나무!!

Extensive research has revealed to me that the old people are kicking "eunhaeng" trees. That happens to be the word for bank (the faltering sort, not the aquatic one), but in this case it means GINKGO BILOBA! I know that word from pharmacies and healthfood stores. Apparently doctors here tell old folks to eat somewhere between 5 and 20 ginkgo nuts a day, and they can be a little expensive, so people beat on the trees.

Unfortunately, it's illegal. I think maybe I'll go tell the police to do a little 6AM stakeout. That's what old people get for expecting me to insert honorifics and humilifics into my speech.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Something you've probably never seen

Last Friday, after finishing work at 10:15 PM, I went downtown to meet my friend Ashley/Insuk and some of her friends for her birthday party. The party was fun and we had a good time and yada yada yada, and I took a bus home at about 5:30AM. The bus dropped me off at about 6, and I was faced with about a 15 minute walk home. I wasn't particularly looking forward to the walk, given my utter exhaustion, but then something totally, unbelievably, life-alteringly awesome happened.

What happened was this. 6AM is apparently geezer-hour, when all those who have forgotten how great it is to sleep in decide to go out and walk around. Thus, I was weaving my way between grammas and grampses when I noticed that a select few were...uh...jumpkicking trees! For real!

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera on me to record the brutality in all its splendor, but, I kind of felt like I was in a David Lynch movie. Just imagine, a pudgy, scoliotic old Korean lady, with light puprle pants and a flower-print blouse, walking along with her cane, wearing some weird sun visor that makes her look like some lego spaceman. Now imagine her stopping for a moment next to a tree. You expect her to rest against it for a minute, or maybe just enjoy the dawn. Then, she grunts and delivers a roundhouse (the more incapacitated just looked like they were trying to kick the tree in the shins) blow to the little trunk. And then, imagine that you are walking home from a bus stop at 6 in the morning and you see 6 or 7 elderly warriors, each standing at successive trees planted along the sidewalk, alternating between kicking and panting. I am pretty sure that even if I were to take a bit of LSD, I wouldn't likely see something so whacky.

I am pretty sure I know the reason for this, but I'll let you folks make some guesses before I divulge! Maybe tomorrow, if I can manage it, I'll try to wake up early and do some stealth filming.

What fools!

Long-time readers of my blog may remember that I used to complain about the tribulations of procuring precious avocados here. Problems include: 1)costing 3 or more dollars each; 2)instantly transforming from rock-hard to mushy-rotten 3) coming in packs of 5, and therefore being impossible for me to consume without waste; or 4) just plain absence and blank stares from store employees when I ask them where last week's supply went, as if they had never heard of the fruit.

But this morning I struck gold! There's a discount produce rack at the store, for stuff that's bruised or poised to go bad. Usually the stuff's not worth buying, but because Koreans have no clue when an avocado is ready to be diced and then masticated upon, I got a pack of perfectly ripe orbs AT HALF PRICE. That means: today is officially a Good Day.

Two Photo Updates

I just added two new albums to the photo site. The first:

1) A few weeks ago, my friend Dylan finally graduated from university. He called me on a Sunday night at about 8 pm and asked if I was free. I was just sitting around the house, so I took a bus downtown to meet him. He was with two of his friends, and we all hung around at various restaurants and bars until about 2AM. Then we went to gyung-sik's house, since he lives close to downtown, where we continued chilling, listening to music, and chatting until about 5. Then we all crashed on the floor (gyung-sik doesn't even have a bed, he just sleeps on a blanket), woke up at 9:30, and headed out to school. Some random guy gave Dylan a suit to put on, and someone else gave him his diploma. There were no deans or shakings of hands or any other official ceremonious stuff. Just guys in suits, girls in dresses, and people carrying around flowers, mortar boards, and diplomae. After taking some photos, Dylan's parents took us out for lunch. Then I grabbed a bus home, caught up a little on sleep, and went to work.

2) About a month ago, my good friend Yuk-gi moved to Seoul. Back in March, he started taking some conversation classes at our academy, and, along with two girl students, grew to be good friends with me and George. He was in between jobs for a long time, so when he finally got a job (as a "Life Consultant" for Samsung, a pretty estimable job), we were all quite happy for him. After giving him a while to settle in to his new apartment and job and such, 3 of us (me, George, Ella) decided to go visit.

We took the train up to Seoul on Saturday afternoon, met Yuk-gi at a subway stop, and then went to dinner at the Lotte Department Store. Lotte is a huge chain in Korea, which dabbles in everything from Choco-pie snack cakes to amusement parks. Lotte, Samsung, and Hyundai combined probably account for about 60 percent of Korea's GDP. We had an awesome reunion dinner at a Bulgogi restaurant up in the department store, complete with purple rice served in golden bowls.

Next, we headed downstairs, outside, walked for 3 minutes, and found ourselves at the Lotte World Adventure Park. I had yet to visit a Korean amusement park, so I didn't know what to expect, but given that it was indoors, I imagined there wouldn't be any rollercoasters. Contrary to my expectations, it was totally gigantic. There were about 6 levels - starting with a food court and ice-skating rink at the bottom, then the entrance level, then 4 levels of rides and games and such.

We went in a bit late - about 7:30 or so - so admission was only 13 bucks. We wandered around a bit, played stupid dress up in a hat shop, and then made our way to the "French Revolution" rollercoaster. I have no idea why that was the name, but it was - again, contrary to my expectations - a decent ride. It was still disappointing, as it was much shorter and more compact than a typical american coaster, and there were some pretty cool parts where you're in a dark tunnel with no idea that a surprise drop is about to unsettle your stomach.

After that, we rode the "conquistador," one of those coasters where a viking-style ship swings back and forth, never quite going upside-down, but still freaking you out a fair bit. With all due respect, Koreans are apparently total sissies when it comes to this kind of ride. Aside from me and George, only about 5 of the 50 people on the ride took their hands of the safety bar.

Next was bumper-cars, where we split into teams and talked a bit of trash. Naturally, George and I crushed Yuk-gi and Ella, executing some super entrapment moves and just generally embarrassing them in front of their kinsfolk. Then off to "desperado," a game where about 30 people sit on mechanical horses, grab nintendo-style guns, and shoot at bad guys in the screen. The computers track your hits and score, and I wound up getting 3rd place after 4 or 5 rounds, due to the fact that I shot several rascal-varmint-scallywags in the face. We then went on one more ride, but it was pretty lame, so I'll spare you the details.

We made our way out of the amusement park, drove back to Yuk-gi's apartment, then went out for the entirely typical bar-songroom-earlymorningstroll routine, finally turning in for the night at about 4 AM. The 4 of us managed to sleep for a few hours in Yuk-gi's one-room studio apartment, then we woke up and headed over to the Hyundai department store, where Ella helped Yuk-gi shop for ties while George and I tried on 500 dollar Paul Stuart suede and velvet jackets. They also had 300 dollar umbrellas and 400 dollar suspenders. I never knew it was possible to spend 1 month's salary on a single outfit. 2 months' salary, if you want cufflinks...

After lunch at the department store Italian restaurant (extremely disappointing), we drove home. It was about a 3.5 hour drive, and I got to see lots of the Korean countryside, which I hadn't seen too much of before. It mostly consisted of mountains covered with thick, green forests. I taught the word game Ghost to the others, which we played in the car for a good while. I of course rocked everyone. Perhaps one could chalk that up to the fact that, of the other 3 players, only 1 was a native speaker, and he had never heard of the game before. Or one could chalk it up to exceeding cleverness on my part. I'll leave that for you to decide.