You have failed and now you must Daegu!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Quick update.

No real news to report, so I'm going with a funny anecdote.

We have a favorite fried chicken place here. It's double fried. That's right, two fryings for twice the flavor. No one knows the name of the restaurant so it has become Triangle Chicken.

The reason for this name is because MOST Korean guys are built like triangles. Broad shoulders and a narrow waist. Like a triangle, one could say. The guy who works the carryout window is a typical triangle. We refer to him as triangle chicken boy.

I told Eun Jung about this a few weeks ago. She replied, "I see. Matt, you are not like triangle, you are like box." Thanks?

Halloween was a success. The kids were insanely cute and I actually taught them a lesson in American culture that few will soon forget. There weren't any elaborate costumes. I was hoping kids would make ridiculous robot outfits, but I had to settle for disappointment.

I was working with a Korean teacher, she would help translate and explain. It was a HUUUUGE help. It turns out at least one of the Korean teacher's isn't completely scary.

We had ten minutes left with one class and we had exhausted the material available. She asked me if I had anything else to do. My response was, "Well, there is the song..." I taught a class of twenty Koreans the trick-or-treating poem. You know, the one with "smell my feet." They wanted to know about the second part. "I'll pull up your underwear." I had to explain a wedgie to twenty eager Koreans and one mortified Korean teacher, which led to a discussion on the atomic wedgie. I'm dreading the news broadcast. "A string of wedgie-related assaults have plagued Daegu for the past few hours. Torn underwear bands are littering the streets. The police have found the ringleader, a 26 year old ESL teacher from America."

I am convinced I will have kids come up to me for months yelling out, "Trick or treat!" I'll say, "trick," and then be a victim of an atomic wedgie.

I dressed up for the Halloween party at the apartment, but I just went with the light up devil horns during class. I'd turn them off and say, "Teacher happy!" Then the kids would start acting up, I'd yell out, "Teacher angry!" and proceed to terrorize them until someone turned off my horns. A good time was had by all.

My throat is still terribly sore from Seoul. I can barely speak and when I do I sound like a ten pack a day smoker.

I wanted to go to bed early, but I turned into Mr. Popularity. First, Maria called to confirm a lunch meeting(she's an education major and I wanted to discuss a few things with her), then my Korean homeboy Kee Young dialed me up to holla at me and finally Eun Jung called to either practice her English or flirt with me. I'm not sure which.

The Samsung(Daegu) Lions won the Korean series. Yeah, I'm a champion no matter where I live. I never thought I'd live to see the Lions win a championship. Never.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The weekend started with a meeting on Friday. They called in all the foreign teachers and Korean teachers who work for LIKE. We sat at one table, the Koreans at another. The first half was typical work bullshit. Then, the leader(Kim Hee Duk, the Kim family's youngest son) ordered the Korean teachers out and wanted to speak with the foreign teachers about discipline. Apparently, the biggest issues for foreign teachers here is a lack of respect from the students and difficulty being taken seriously by the Korean staff. Hee Duk promises changes, but offered little as far as substance. There was one answer that would have made most people tear their hair out. In response to a question about a little girl that one teacher believes is a victim of domestic abuse, "You can't change the world." I almost threw up. The biggest highlight of the meeting was Robert giving a demonstration on fire safety. He screwed up about two minutes in when he said, "Water is flammable." It went downhill quickly. I had my back to him, so I was able to hide my giggles, while others had to remain stoic. It wasn't easy for most. He made a worksheet with an acronym.

Work was fairly dull, except for some excitement for Physics Brian with the class formerly known as my hell class. The kid with the middle finger problem started swearing at him in Korean and Brian totally lost his shit with him. I saw a yellow shirt run past my door with something in its arms and I knew. The hell class was back.

After work, we had REAL Halloween party at the apartment complex. Things escalated quickly. We attempted to order pizza, but every pizza restaurant was closed at 11pm on a Friday. So, a group of us went out in costume to scare the locals and get some fried chicken. We ordered what we thought was three large boxes of fried chicken. It turned out we ordered three large boxes of chicken feet with hot sauce. I didn't try any, but by all accounts, they were repulsive. The party got out of hand as soon as we got back. There were people throwing up, people wrestling and true party veterans just watching others act like mutants. A good time was had by most.

Saturday was a dull day for me. I didn't really want to go out much because I had to be up way too early on Sunday for my train to Seoul. Physics Brian and I were invited out for something called "Pizza Pajan" by two of our female coworkers. Pajan is essentially a Korean pancake. I like Pizza. I like Pajan. I LOATHE them together. It was really repulsive, especially after one of our coworkers built it up like it was the greatest shit on the planet.

Sunday was a lot of fun. Vegan Brian, Hee-Chon and myself headed out to Seoul very early in the morning. Vegan Brian was really excited at the prospect of building a new desktop computer. I was excited about getting some new xbox games. Hee-Chon was excited about getting new DVD's. Hee-Chon and I are able to claim, "Mission: Accomplished," but Brian had a great deal of difficulty in getting his newly purchased components to work together. He believes the new motherboard he bought may or may not be fried. I also picked up a wedding gift for Hassman. It's perfect for the happy couple and if its not, good luck returning it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I recieved my first parent complaint this week. A kid turned his back to me, so I tapped him with a book and he complained. Also, my punishments are too severe. I make kids stand at the wall with their arms up. The complaint was that they're not studying. My response? They're not studying in the first place.

Strange week for me. Work has been reasonably good. I had a few "what am I doing here moments" and I got genuinely pissed off at Eun Jung and her friends. I don't mind being the topic of conversation, I do mind when its only in Korean.

I'm off to Seoul for a day trip on Sunday. Vegan Brian wants a new computer, Hee Chon wants DVD's and I want xbox games and toys.

Halloween is almost upon us. I found a sweet luchador mask and a plastic WWE championship belt, I will be a wrestler, but I'm going to wear it with a shirt and tie to increase the hilarity. Monday and Tuesday will be chaos here. I can't wait. I'm in charge of apple bobbing.

We had a meeting this week, but I'll save details for the big weekend update. Some real lip-biting moments at this one.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Two links of the day for KCNA aka the North Korean propaganda machine. "There's a man fer every job." - Harvey Pekar.

Bonus points for the insult generator.

We hear jetplanes every day now. North Korea may soon be a parking lot.

We have a student named "Han Solo." His real name is "Han Su," so we just made him Han Solo and he HATES it. He's also about the most obnoxious kid I've ever met and I take great joy in making him unhappy....and teaching him English at the same time. Whenever he acts up, I have an impression of his voice. He likes to shout broken English, so I shout back at him in the same loud, annoying voice. I also enjoy moving his seat, basically, anything I can do to torture this kid into shutting up, I'd be willing to try. His goal is not to learn English, but to prevent others from learning. He's also large enough to pose a problem for me should he turn violent(I could take him).

On friday, I hung out with South Korea's answer to gork(the fat trenchcoat-wearing moron from Calgary) and his lazy canadian whore friend Steph. (Yes, I name names) We were going bowling, the idea of seeing this putz flop all over himself while trying to bowl amused me, but the bowling alley was closed. On the walk back, they launched into their pro-canada rant. According to them, Calgary is the fastest growing metropolis on the planet(I thought it was a shithole truckstop, but what do I know?) and Canada is another word for Utopia. My exact words before going home, "If you like it there so much, why leave? You should definitely go back. In fact, I'm saving up every penny I have to buy a house in Calgary. You've convinced me." The response? "Matt, there aren't any houses available. Its growing that fast." I just shut the door behind me. The next night, while out at the one American-Chinese restaurant, I bump into these jokers again and they act like we're old friends that haven't met in years. I was stunned. Capt. Calgary launched into a painfully bad series of jokes before I walked away.

Last night was a birthday party for one of the lifers here. He's a guy who's been here for five years with no end in sight. I am terrified I may turn into him. He wore a shirt with no collar. Ew. He left around 2am. He couldn't walk and was shuffled into a cab. One of his Korean co-workers brought his 2 year old son to the bars. Yikes. It was indeed an awkward party.

Right now, I'm watching my beloved soccer club, Arsenal, destroy puny Reading. Listening to new school punk rock on Yahoo's launchcast and generating random insults on the nk-news web page. Now for bed...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Strange morning. We planned a trip to CostCo to stock up on essentials for this morning. After a very late night, the trip hung in the balance, but came together in the end thanks to some pounding on doors and shouting. We hopped in a cab, but the driver was confused. Usually, in the USA, if a cabbie doesn't know where something is, he'll either make a phone call or refuse the fare. That is not the custom here. If a cabbie doesn't know where something is he will not admit it. No one wants to admit ignorance here. First, he took us to Outback Steakhouse. I guess he thought we looked hungry. Then, we called Mrs. Kim(our boss) on a cell phone and got him directions, then he spent the next thirty minutes trying to remember all of them. A ten minute cab ride took an hour. I was forced to ride shotgun next to this terrified joker.

We found CostCo and I am now stocked on all essentials. We even bumped into some friendly foreigners.

I've got to plan my sleep schedule very carefully for the next two days. I REALLY want to watch game 7 of Mets/Cards. Go Redbirds.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I gave the clock to Eun Jung and she claims she liked it, at least, she waited until she went home to throw it away.

Chan Ho Park's name sort of translates literally to iced pumpkin tea. Chan is cold water and hopark is pumpkin. Either way his name is actually written Park Chan Ho.

I may be spending Christmas in Cambodia. Take that John Kerry. I've been invited to go and as long as its only a weekend, I'm in.

I spent Friday night hanging with Eun Jung and her Korean friends. Our first stop was her favorite bar. A hip hop club called "Julliard." After a drink or to we headed to a board game room. I taught them Uno, they taught me Holly Golly(strange game that I can't possible describe here, I lost badly) and we ended with a game of Jenga. Then off to a Korean restaurant for soju and kimchi. It was here that things took a turn for the worse. They decided to comment on my lack of ability with chopsticks and inform me that I hold them incorrectly. I'm able to stuff my gullet with squid, as long as the squid gets there, I figure "mission accomplished." Jerkbags. Eun Jung did rush to my defense when it was obvious I was becoming irritated. She's awesome and hopefully going to assist me in getting these stupid pics off the stupid(amazing) cell phone next week.

On Saturday, other than working out, I stayed in. I had to stay up late because a mosquito(in Korean "moogey") was loose in my room and I had to capture it. This required me to stay up and play video games until I could ensure its capture. Today(Sunday) I just dicked around all day. I played chess against a guy who is around 1300 or 1400 in the world. He taught me a lot, then I thrashed him at Fight Night Round 3.

I'm prepping a care package of stuff for everyone in the states. Let me know if there are any(realistic) requests. No clothing. I'm not going to guess how fat Zwirb has become and wind up picking the 5X jersey instead of the 6 because he needs the extra material, otherwise the buttons will be all separated.

The only work story that I really have is that the hell class is no longer mine. I traded with Physics Brian. He gets the monsters now and I get his 5:15 class. He had the monsters on Friday and they were actually slightly okay. At least not tearing his room apart. I think this is all a ruse and I'm not falling for it. They want me to think that they're not that bad, so I'll go back to being their teacher. No fucking way. Also, everyone gets an "English name." Like in Spanish when I was called "Mateo" instead of Matt. I've taken some creative license with this. I've got a Nightwing, a Robin, an Aquaman and a Daredevil. Nothing makes me smile more than yelling out,"Nightwing, stop it! Leave Daredevil alone!"

I'd just like to make a suggestion for my posse back home. Timesplitters 2 is an underrated game and is worth a download for the multiplayer mode. Think halo except with weapons that aren't boring.

No new link worth posting. But I'd like to give a special shout out to my homeboy in the sticks, Paul. Someone close to him is going through an impossible situation right now, say a prayer for her if you're inclined.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I just had a class that was so awful I am convinced that these are not children, but evil midgets sent to make my life difficult.

Let me put it to you this way, I asked one little douchebag how he was. His response? The middle finger. He spent the rest of the class in the hall. Things went downhill from there. That's my only class that is that bad. Actually the rest aren't even close.

I did end the day with my angels. 9 kids that actually want to learn English and are enthusiastic for it. I love those kids. They'll never know how much the last hour of the day meant to me today after starting with my hell class. I feel like Gene Hackman at the end of Hoosiers. "I love you guys."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Yesterday was payday. I've always wanted to be a millionaire. Now I am. Granted, its a million won, but either way, its nice to have fat stacks.

Some of the other foreign teachers and I went out for dinner. Towards the end of the meal, my Korean girlfriend came into the restaurant with one of her Korean friends and I was bullied into staying for drinks. We wound up having a lot of fun, her English is getting to the point that she can understand most of my jokes. My Korean is also slowly improving. I can read some of the signs now. You know, the ones that aren't in English.

After the behaviour of some of my classes and some sage-like advice from a few teachers who have been here forever, I've altered some of my attitudes towards discipline.

Now, if a kid misbehaves, first they get put on the ceiling. Then, stuck in the corner. And finally, threatened to be thrown off the balcony complete with me holding them over the side. I've also taken to picking on some of them who really ask for it. Boys don't like being told they might be queer. So, should they be talking or all up in each other's area, I say in Korean, "No kissing!" They lose it. Class has been much smoother since I started doing this. I also randomly throw things when kids get out of hand or aren't paying attention. Nothing gets them back into class faster than a flying marker wizzing past their ear. :)

Strange fact about Korea. They eat Ramen like popcorn...literally. Smash up a bag of Ramen, open it up, add seasoning, smash again and eat. It's not bad for a snack.

More mosquitos. I guess they missed me.

So the Bears are 5-0. The only thing this means is that 5-11 is still possible. Boo! Boo!

Care package #2 showed up today. Yay! Jerky and MST for me!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I've got Seoul, but I'm not a soldier.

My first impressions of Seoul was that it was dirty, crowded and had waaaay too many noisy tourists. I like the city, it has a big friendly subway system, but its so spread out. It' s like LA if it actually had a decent public trans system.

The first jokes made were about my bag. I pack like a woman. I currently have three bags in my possesion, my messenger, one large duffle and one larger duffle. I brought the large duffle and had it half full. The best joke was made by Brian's friend, Tim. "What's the matter little boy? Are you running away from home?"

We headed to Itaewon(the foreigner district) immeadiately. It was repulsively dirty and crawling with foreigners. It is entirely possible to spend days here and not hear a word of Korean. The favorite bar of one of my friends was a place called "Polly's Kettle." It sits on top of "Hooker Hill" and is about as in your face as you can get. There were at least five tussles, fights and shoving matches. It felt a lot like the old west. At any time, a bloodbath could erupt with the right combination of booze, testosterone and booze. The clubs were just a little too in-your-face for my taste. I'll take 10,000 bondage nights at Exit before I spend another night in Itaewon. I will go back for the Indian food. Best Indian food I have ever had.

The electronics district was mostly closed on Friday and half closed on Saturday. I picked up FIFA 07 and Fight Night Round 3 for roughly 20 bucks and an xbox with a modchip for roughly $90. The pirated stuff was a big highlight, remember, there are NO copyright laws here. I also picked up a bizarre clock for Eun Jung, here's hoping she likes it. Hee Chon thought she would and he ought to know, he's a real Korean.

We checked out the art district on Friday as well. It's much more laid back and featured mainly Koreans. I picked up a cellphone charm and had some the best tea I have ever had in a tea shop I couldn't possibly tell you the name of. The featured item was the "Chan Ho Park." It was an iced pumpkin tea. I guess his name translates to iced pumpkin or something. The apricot and persimmon tea were big highlights, but the best was the mountain dew. Amazing stuff.

It was at the tea shop that we were allowed to write on the walls, at Maria's request, we wrote "For a Good Canadian time, call Katie (It involves maple syrup :))" and then listed one of our Canadian friend's phone numbers. We then totally pranked her and she never figured out who did it. In fact, she thought it was a former teacher. :)

Then we headed back to Itaewon for Mexican food. I had the super burrito for roughly $10. It was a burrito, but it was hardly super. Then we hit the bars. By the end of the night, Brian and I gave two of our female travel companions piggy back rides down Hooker Hill while they kicked each other. Maria and I defeated Brian and Audrey. Yeah, things got strange.

The biggest highlight of Saturday was going to a bar called "King of Pirates" in a district called Sanbon. It was just nice to get out of Itaewon for a night. Seriously, anyone who ever goes to Seoul, go to Itaewon for lunch if you want excellent Indian food, but stay away at night. It's like old Vegas minus the charm and ten times the pollution. Anyway, at King of Pirates, you're given beer in ice mugs. The mugs are literally made of ice with a plastic handle and a plastic tube to hold the beer. after finishing a beer, the drinker is allowed to throw the ice at a target for prizes. I was given 8 throws, hit the target four times, hit the target well enough to make the board light up twice and won one free beer. Good times were had by all.

Actually, Seoul made me really miss Daegu. Daegu is cleaner, MUCH easier to travel in and there are hardly any stupid foreigners here. In Daegu, it's a thrill to see a foreigner, in Seoul, its strange not to. Seoul is just too polluted. I smoke the occasional cigarette and my throat was burning.

I was able to watch the baseball playoffs on Thursday night. Actually, I was able to flip between Kitties/Yankees and Arsenal/FC Porto in Champions League football. I also get not one, but two video game channels. I don't mean like G4, I mean channels in which they broadcast guys playing Starcraft, Warcraft and Winning 11 24 hours a day. It's strangely addictive.

Again, pics still need to be rescued from my phone. This could take a while.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Off to Seoul.

Hopefully I'll have pics when I get back. The only way to rescue them from my cellphone is to go to a PC Bong with a helpful Korean and attempt to save them.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

This will be a half-assed update.

Less than 48 hours until Seoul. I can't wait.

Kevin from the Hapkido studio is arriving on Friday. I'll try to meet up with him on Sunday when I get back.

My boss stood me up for a meeting today. He wanted to have a lunch meeting to discuss my lesson plans. I can put up with some bullshit for a free lunch, but instead I was given some sob story about one of his friends in a car accident in Seoul. Whatever. That guy didn't take a day off for his college graduation. I was more upset about having to pay for lunch today than I was about the meeting.

I tried Burger King here. Either I've already been gone too long or its the best burger I've ever had.

I hear the Bears are playing well. Everyone knows I'm Randy Quaid in Major League 2 when it comes to them. I've been hurt too many times. I just don't trust these guys. They don't have a single playoff reciever. Not a one. I also don't trust their so called running game. Cedric Benson sounds more and more like Curtis Enis. Thomas Jones is essentially LL Cool J in Any Given Sunday. I don't trust him at all. Then again, if this team stays healthy, they win the division and a first round buy easily.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Not much of an update today, but here goes.

I went to a DVDbong(DVD room), supposedly, what these are makeout rooms. I go with Eun Jung and there is no making out. To make things worse I let her pick some romantic comedy and SHE ACTUALLY WANTED TO WATCH IT. It made my eyes bleed. I got revenge, though. I invited her to my kids' stageplays yesterday. One hour of painfully bad stage plays read by people who barely understand the language. I have pics, but I have no idea how to get them off my cell phone. My kids did the best, but I'm completely biased. Most of the plays were barely audible, I was able to get my kids to project.

Then I invited Eun Jung to dinner with some foreign teachers and I. Make me sit through a romantic comedy will she. An hour or so with a few loud Americans and obnoxious Canadians ought to show her what's what.

Speaking of, I bumped into Korea's version of Gork. He's a douche bag from Calgary, but to hear him talk about it you'd think he came from New York or Paris. He started a sentance last night that began, "Well, Canadians are like Americans, except we don't...." I stopped him before finishing and he looked surprised. Either way, the wardrobe matches perfectly. Ill fitting shirts, pants in poor condition and the stupid fucking trenchcoat. He even plays Bomberman on Gamecube. No, I'm not kidding.

I don't mind Canadians, I really don't. I just want to know where they developed this sense of moral superiority over Americans. I really want to remind them that they are the bizarre nation of hillbillies and frogs whose money is worthless and are only good at swatting bits of rubber with wood and then tell them to get in line for the "free" healthcare behind the dozen or so immigrants who have shown up that morning in need of liver transplants. Jerkbags.

"Opinions are like assholes...and yers is wrong." - Pr0ff3ss0r F4rnsw0rth