Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Birthday Weekend

as promised, I will detail the happenings of my birthday weekend.

So after celebrating my birthday solo Wednesday & Thursday - the gang came to enjoy the festivities on Friday after school.

We met in "Kondae" which is the area that surrounds Konkuk University - and is considered one of the more vibrant areas in the city for younger people. However, it hasn't cracked into the mainstream places to go out for foreigners (Hongdae and Itaewon) and so there is still some mystery to it.

Mystery and a lack of white people.

We had a delicious and surprisingly lavish Galbi dinner (barbecued meat) and polished off some bottles of soju.

I'll keep the rest of the night undetailed here but it ends with my having chased after a Korean lady for some hours and her ultimately falling asleep on a chair in the bar. She must not have understood me when I told her it was my birthday.

40 times.

Saturday was the highlight though, the birthday gem, the gift that you don't need to wrap because it's just THAT good.

I knew I wanted to do something different for my birthday. Not to mention I had to compete with the previous weekend (New Years) and the coming weekend (Malaysia), so I summoned my powers of creation and birthed a Korea-style Scavenger Hunt.

I divided the group into 2 teams; flipped some coins to determine who was with who and gave some point value to certain challenges. I'll throw up a bunch of pictures because those tell the story better.

The pics are only of my team, as we promised not to show the other team pictures until we counted the score up and possibly made videos of our experience. These haven't been posted anywhere or seen by anybody, yet.

Also, I made a rule that each team had to have a mascot that was featured in every picture - which is why you see the tiny Cubs ball being held up in all of these........

AFTER the hunt (which my team most likely won) we continued on with the bizarre parade.

I had randomly done an internet search for interesting and unique things to do in a certain area in Seoul and came across a once-a-month art/clothing flea market that happens at night and in a storage/container warehouse.

typified unique.

oh, wow, i can't believe I forgot - they also have German beer on tap, hot wine and a scattering of other alcohols that aren't easy to come across here.

we shopped around and drank. hipsters were abound and a few of us managed to come away with some pretty sweet and ridiculously affordable garb. some, more than others - cough joanna cough -.

It was certainly different than what we were used to and we'll most likely be back again - assuming its a different sort of showcase each time.

Sunday we went to Costco - my first visit. Actually it was my first visit in my life.
I don't general like being in such large, out of focus, more-warehouse-than-store type places and so I had never been.

the group wanted pizza. pizza we got. decent. quinn's bulgogi bake (a sort of Korean philly cheese steak) might be the only thing that'd get me back there. that or an immense craving for more townhouse crackers.

After that the guys decided to skip out on basketball in favor for indoor screen golf. played the worst round of my life.

and had some friends stay over at my place sunday night and leave early in the morning - perhaps they were too exhausted to leave. perhaps they just love Guri City THAT much.

anyway it was a terrific birthday weekend that was as much fun as it was unique. one i will remember for a long time!

and now I have begun my packing for my three week excursion to SouthEast Asia. I leave Friday night but I'll drop a line here before I do.

thanks for reading.


Monday, January 10, 2011

miscellaneous monday

i need to upload some pictures from my birthday weekend.

it was fantastic and once i have the pics i'll do a post letting you all know about it.

for now, however, i can only provide mumbling facts, anecdotes and quotations to fulfill (most of) your Monday's with some offering.

On Books:

33% of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42% of college graduates never read another book after college.
80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57% of new books are not read to completion.
70% of books published do not earn back their advance.
70% of books published do not make a profit.

The Economist: "A lot of the people who read a bestselling novel, for example, do not read much other fiction. By contrast, the audience for an obscure novel is largely composed of people who read a lot. That means the least popular books are judged by people who have the highest standards, while the most popular are judged by people who literally do not know any better. An American who read just one book this year was disproportionately likely to have read ‘The Lost Symbol’, by Dan Brown. He almost certainly liked it."

“The prettiest dresses are worn to be taken off.” -jean cocteau

Strapped for cash in the mid-1950s, Kurt Vonnegut took a job at Sports Illustrated, though he “didn’t care or know squat about sports.”

They asked him to write a piece about a racehorse that had jumped the fence at the local track.

He fed a page into his typewriter, stared at it for several hours, typed “The horse jumped over the fucking fence” and left.

The Cat in the Hat uses 225 different words.

Dr. Seuss’ publisher, Bennett Cerf, wagered $50 that the author couldn’t reduce this total to 50 in his next book.

So Seuss produced a new manuscript using precisely 50 words, and collected the $50.

The book was Green Eggs and Ham.

“Oh, isn’t it a lovely sunset?” a young woman asked (poet) Robert Frost.

He said, “I never discuss business after dinner.”

my birthday resolution:

draw one self-portrait everyday. write one haiku alongside it.

...........I am trying to learn how to draw better (more responsibly, if you will)


lastly, it's strange how all of the sudden everyone knows the word "vitriol" - i've seen it pop up on news comment sections amongst people who tYpE LiKe THis.

that poor little girl, though? my god. had just won student council and wanted to go see a real politician.
i know the media likes to embellish these stories for emotional significance but this one played out for's sad fact that a mentally unstable person can walk into a Walmart and buy bullets, having both already easily purchased a gun for himself and having been already denied from a different Walmart across town.

what is it going to take for America to become sensible about guns?
-unfortunately, the answer is: more catastrophes like Tucson.


p.s. - i started a tumblr - a blog more focused on the immediacy of pictures. it's just a place to post things I find on the internet - not much "creation" so to speak.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

precursor to the birthday weekend

just ate a sleeve of Townhouse crackers - thanks mom - got some cleaning to do and then it's time to celebrate my 23rd birthday.

on tap:

- scavenger hunt

- drinking

- german beer & flea market (yes, these two things combined into one)

- mudfish soup (my favorite)

- drinking

- bowling, i hope

- eating more delicious food

- relaxing

- possible NCAA-tournament style bracket of the top 64 songs of 1983. do I dare? i do.

updates will come at the end of it all.

I should note, though,

22 - graduated college/earned my degree. won my first fiction prize ($500!), first time visiting Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Norway. revisited Germany and Costa Rica. got my first post-grad job by becoming a teacher. moved to south korea to do so. kept in touch with dear old friends, made amazing new ones, loved my family more, and read more books than ever before.

23 may have a hard time competing. then again, i've always been a one-upper. bring it.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"you bad in hallway!"

this'll be a multi-topic post. bear down and bear with it.

first off, the holidays. thanksgiving, christmas and new years were spent in the company of pretty much the same people.

the same awesome people.

being here, a group of us have grown into quite the quasi-family and in just four months it seems that I know them better than I many other people I've met in my lifetime.

perhaps it's due to the multitude of "would you rathers", a game in which everyone reveals interesting truths about themselves and the ever-so-favorite "how much would someone have to pay you to ___________"

after telling my buddy brian that the only hip-hop act I knew anything about these days was Ne-Yo he took it upon himself, as my secret santa, to go into Seoul and get me the artist's new CD "LibraScale"

we did Christmas in my town and though my apartment got clobbered on - as did the apartment unit's trash area - (see below) it was well worth it.

surprisingly, the club we went to after our gift giving as packed.

also, i experienced what I could only determine to be the first migraine headache of my life. symptoms have not returned - fingers are crossed.

new years was spent in Hongdae, a neighborhood in Seoul known for its art, coffee shops and party mentality. it did not let us down. we got fancied, boozed and korea'd UP.

what did let us down was our beloved Badgers. we woke up around 6am to go watch the game and were severely let down by the outcome but enjoyed our time watching.

since i decided both not to bring a change of clothes to Seoul and not to go home once I was already in Seoul, I had the distinct pleasure of wearing the same thing for almost 48 hours. although as it was pointed out by my friend Nate - if you are going to get stuck in one outfit, a suit is probably a good way to go.


now, winter camp has begun at school.

everyday i sit at my desk from 8am-2pm. i surf the internet, read my book and/or pick up some korean from the other bored teachers around me.

from 2pm-3:50, I teach the same kids. my class is supposed to have 26 kids. the first day there were 11, the second 14, the third (today) 9. i've already made Simpsons promises.

a list of their chosen english names is forthcoming - although not as comical as my after school kids were.

what is more personally exciting is my birthday fast approaching.

thanks to my college roommate John Collins I learned that it is perfectly acceptable to celebrate your birthDAY for the 4 or 5 days before it happens. I started today.

= Golf & Galbi day.

played a round of screengolf after school, where I am officially known by the entire staff by name.
got delicious dwaejee-galbi at a place near my house.


the title of this post comes from when I stopped at my house inbetween.

a bit of a story.....

I live in an officetel. It is designed for both living & working. There is a second floor but the ceilings are only about 3 feet high - which makes it ideal for really only one thing - sleeping.

When I arrived, the awkward and much-disliked Englishman had preferred to sleep on the first floor and had left the loft to be of no use. Pity.

After a few months I decided I would move my bed. I did. Of course, it fits just fine up there and now with the winter bumping its cold ugly rear end everywhere, it's nice to be in a warmer area for sleep.

But I had a large bedframe and headboard that were now just taking up space in my apartment.

We have wide hallways I thought, I'll just stick it out there until I figure out something to do with it.

That was November. The next day the amazingly, like awfully nice, security guard (who takes care of my dry cleaning bless his heart) told me that the building manager wanted me to move it.

I stalled and said that my school was going to pick it up soon. I just didn't know what to do with it and I figured by Sunday I could get a friend to help me take it to a garbage area or something. It's not heavy.

It's also like $30 to get it taken out and removed for you. NOT going to pay that.

Anyway, I put it back in my place because I couldn't get rid of it.

Then Christmas came and I needed room to host people so I threw it/them back outside in the hall.

No word from the apartment people.....

Until today when I was greeted with "you bad in hallway" and had just noooo idea what the hell he was talking about.

of course bad=bed and bed=bedframe and hallway= well hallway=hallway.

I would bring it back in today but I have my piano waiting in the middle of my tiny hallway (actually IN my apt.) to be taken away. This, the piano being taken out, was promised the first week I came here. It's now month 5 and they told me the other day, as I had begun growing used to it, that they would remove it. 3 days have passed since then and nothing.


i'll drop 3 songs down here. all of much different genre.

Lost in the Trees - Song for the Painter

Nyle - Let the Beat Build

GD & TOP - High High (fyi: THIS is KPop)


Monday, January 3, 2011

K-Pop CNN article

just wanted to share this article.....

k-Pop is korean pop music and is a large force in the country and the continent.

korea is one of only two countries in which citizens invest more in the domestic entertainment industry than in American (the other is india)

k-pop is a phenomenon well worth it's own blogpost and perhaps it shall soon get one. but for now, this.