You have failed and now you must Daegu!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Posted at Dave's ESL cafe. I understand everything written, but I am very, very confused.

Have I been gone too long? Am I stupid? Would anyone in their right mind sign up for this? Are these people sitting in a room wondering why no one has submitted a resume?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Me cheering on the Samsung Lions. Notice the small stadium and the dude wearing a paper hat.

A Samsung Lions Hello Kitty that I bought for Su-Jin. The problem is that Hello Kitty can only speak Japanese. Conversations have been difficult.

Me after work and Manjiro after finding out there aren't any apples in the apartment. OTL

Little Manjiro and a little apple charm.

The Cass Beer Red 6.9 car. Cass is a Korean beer maker. Their newest concoction is Red 6.9. it has 6.9% alchohol. It is disgusting.

Sorry about the lack of updates. The "new" has been giving me a hard time lately. Especially since everything is in Korean.

This will be a mega update. Get a cup of coffee now.

Last weekend I caught two ballgames. I split the weekend. Dropping a 5-3 snoozefest to LG and then watching my beloved Lions pound the tar out of them the next day with a 9-0 final. Fun weekend.

The biggest announcement was StarCraft 2. There wasn't any rioting, but I'm a little worried about this game being released here. People in the US take the day off for Madden releases, but this country will essentially shut down for about a week. If I were planning an invasion of South Korea, I'd do it the day this game came out. No one would notice for about a week.

I discovered on Monday that the deadline for applying to public school jobs in Seoul is 5/31(I didn't know there was an application, let alone a deadline). So, I quickly filled out the app, found two people gullible enough to write two reference letters, tooka passport photo and mailed off my app to the recruiter in Seoul.

The biggest highlight was the passport photo. The photographer thought I was taking a wedding portait or something. As long as I don't look like a Wicker Park homeless guy, I couldn't care less about the photo. He had me posing for ten minutes, I finally suggested he take the photo when he attacked me with a comb and I stopped him.

The post office was an adventure. I wanted to send the package express with a tracking number, but the woman at the desk flew into hysterics when she saw English on the envelope. I have to plead ignorance. I'm getting better with reading and writing Korean, but I have no idea how to address an envelope in Korean. Here's hoping it gets there.

I saw the two coolest things I have ever seen on TV last night. First, a StarCraft battle that ended with a nuclear strike. We rarely see advanced units on the StarCraft channel, let alone a nuclear strike. Having a StarCraft battle end with a nuke is like a baseball game ending with a triple play. Then, I flipped over to one of the late night breakdancing shows. The battle I saw is linked below. This is how all disputes should be settled. Well, this or a Blitz battle.

The best part is the doo-rags.

It was a fairly tame week as far as classes go. People keep telling me I'm going to miss the monsters at LIKE when I am gone. I will not. I got in trouble for that this week actually. So, when kids run around my classroom screaming, I can't call them monsters or monkeys any more. Whatever.

I was talking with Patrick this week, we were talking about how screwed up things are at LIKE. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result each time. The books haven't been updated in thirty years, they've gone from over twenty locations to 6 in the last few years and classes are shrinking. Who do we blame for all of this? The foreigner who shows up early, tries to actually teach and gets irritated when his boss throws him under the bus.

I have 66 more days at the work. Monday will be the day of the mark of the beast.

We have a friend here nicknamed Dr. China. He's a Chinese executive. His family is fairly wealthy. He speaks Chinese, FLAWLESS Korean and enough English that he can be understood. He has a strange problem. Only about 70% of what he says is true. Now, there's no malice behind it. It's likely the result of too many languages, booze, drugs and well, putting undue pressure on a structure that isn't exactly up to code. For example, when we ask him what he's doing, he'll tell us things that he'd like to do. For example,

Patrick: Where are you?
Dr. China: Crew pub.
Patrick: We'll be there in fifteen minutes.

Patrick goes to Crew Pub.

Patrick: Is the Doctor in?
Bartender: No, we haven't seen him.

Fifteen minutes later.

Dr. China enters.

Dr. China: I've been looking for you!
Patrick: Me too.

The problem is that he's leaving Daegu for China in July. We have to hold auditions for the new Dr. China. Are you Asian? Check. Do you have wild hair? Check. Can you not know where you are 75% of the time? Check. Can you send confusing text messages? Check. Congratulations. You are the new Dr. China.

My favorite Dr. China story? I told him I'm really good at NBA '07. He claims that he loves that game. He plays with Houston so he can use Yao Ming. He wanted to play me until I asked what level he plays at. I played this game A TON before I had a girlfriend. I can thrash the computer at Hall of Fame level with just about any team. Using Atlanta against, say, San Antonio is difficult, but doable. He only plays at Superstar level. He was too intimidated to play me and now refuses. I beat an Asian guy without ever playing. I'm putting this on my resume.

Obligitory White Sox rant. Wow, we start hitting when the Thominator returns to the lineup? Should I be surprised? As long as the pitching holds up, I expect this team to be in the hunt come September. We need another outfielder. Badly. Getting by with clowns like Mackowiak, Ozuna and Terrero is okay for about a month, but we need a MLB level OF soon. I like Ozuna, I like Terrero, I even like Mackowiak(a little), but I like them on the bench. I don't want to see these guys everyday. Especially Rob Mackowiak and his Assbat.

The Colonel and my mother land on Tuesday. They'll likely meet Su-Jin on Wednesday. I'm a little worried. It will likely go something like this...

/Su-Jin meets Matt's parents.

Su-Jin: We need to talk.

/Matt's head explodes.

Manjiro: Now who will feed me?

Manjiro is a blue stuffed elephant pillow that Su-Jin gave me. He guards my room when I'm gone. His goals are to eat and sleep as much as possible. He is a source of a lot of entertainment for Su-Jin and I. His favorite foods are red apples, pineapples and anything that I buy.

I saw Pirates of the Carribean 3 on Friday. I thought it was fairly boring for an action movie.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Just when I think I have things figured out here, everything gets strange again.

I start all my classes essentially the same way. "Hello, hello , hello! Welcome to class! Welcome to class! Hello! Hello! I have one rule, one rule, one rule. Only English, no Korean, please."

I said this to the class(this class is lower level middle schoolers and, well, lower level elementary schoolers). I made eye contact with one of the girls, it was clear that she understood. Within .00000002 seconds of me saying this, she turned her head and started to chatter away in Korean. I considered this incredibly disrespectful and rude. This is not the first time she has done this to me. I not so politely asked her to leave my classroom. She did with little argument. I guess she took, "Get out," as "Get out of the building," and she left. Her friends asked the secretaries where she went to. I guess Mrs. Kim overheard their conversation and questioned me about it. It went something like this.

PaymEeTaeSoon: Matthew, did you make her leave your class???
DeForeskin: Hell yeah!!!!
PaymEeTaeSoon: You cannot do that. What if the parents complain???
DeForeskin: Tell them that she broke my ONE rule and was asked to leave because she was rude.
PaymEeTaeSoon: What is that rule?
DeForeskin: No Korean.
PaymEeTaeSoon: What!?! You can't expect them to speak only English. What do you think this is??? Some kind of 'English School?'
DeForeskin: Yeah, actually.
PaymEeTaeSoon: No, they cannot do that.
DeForeskin: Yeah, god forbid we actually make them practice their English. They might, you know improve and then how would we keep them paying for classes? Teach cooking???
PaymEeTaeSoon: Starting next week you have to teach western cooking. Go to the corner conveinience store and buy the finest, cheapest items you can find. Tell them its a hamburger.
DeForeskin: Are can't be...are you serious. Is this some kind of joke???
PaymEeTaeSoon: NO!!!!

We had a disagreement first about kicking kids out. I have no manager, no detention room and no assistance from any of the Korean staff that I can count on. I told her this and I told her as soon as I'm presented with a better option, I'll do it, until then, "NO SOUP FOR YOU!" Then we had a disagreement about my, "No Korean" rule. It's not rigidly enforced. What I do, depending on the age of the students, is I either draw a smiley face or three slashes and each time they speak Korean, I erase a little. Should there be so much Korean that all of it is erased, I start adding minutes. Personally, I think this is a great way to run a classroom. Whatever. She can go fucking scratch too. I think that she lost a fight with Robert. They had a big argument and it was clear she didn't get her way, so I think she chose to tear into the quiet midwestern kid. The thought process has to be, "Hmmmm, Robert got the better of me.....what will amuuuuuuuuuse me now? I know. Bring me DeWoskin. He hasn't suffered enough this week, muahahahahaha!" 3 1/2 more months until I can go to Seoul and get a public school job. Then this is someone else's problem. I can barely look Mrs. Kim in the eye any more. It's just the same nonsense EVERY DAY.

Attached is the only video that can make me smile. "I DO COCAINE!!!!!!"

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I attended a Lions/Unicorns game yesterday and felt like I must blog this experience immeadiately.

That's right, there's a team here that calls themselves "The Unicorns." In the competition to have the least intimidating team nickname, the Hyundai Unicorns have built a large, large lead. When the Expos and the Mighty Ducks hang out, they giggle about these guys behind their backs.

The lone wolf had to fly alone yesterday. Everyone ditched me. Su-Jin was taking care of her sick dog, Jerry disappeared(his whereabouts remain unknown), Daren overslept and Tall Brian politely bowed out. I walked from my apartment to the game in about 30 minutes.

The cheering section was mostly full, but the outfield seats were completely unmolested, so I headed to centerfield to get the best view of the action. I sat next to a security guard and the camera guy. I figured they were the least likely to want to have an awkward English conversation with me. I was 100% correct. The seats started to fill up in the 2nd inning. A teenager sat in front of me with a friend and his girlfriend. The entertaining part was that soon after sitting down, the teenager donned a gardening hat. Picture a hat that you would expect Jason's mom to put on while tending the garden and that was what this guy was wearing. For the entire game. I freely admit, that it was in fact sunny and it was a good idea to cover up, but come on. If I did that at a Sox game, what are the chances that I make it out of the stands with the hat intact? 1%? Also, if Koreans forget their big, floppy sun hats, they buy large paper cones to put on their heads. Again, the purpose is to keep the harsh Daegu sun off their faces, but why do the hats come in light blue with white polka dots? I saw several guys in oversize shirts and jeans with large necklaces wearing these. Awesome.

The first batter of the game for the "Unicorns" hit a leadoff homerun. Things did get better. The Lions took the lead and eventually won the game. Oh Seung Hwan came in to nail down the game and put a large smile on my face. At one point, before he started warming up in the bullpen, he was just jogging to loosen up his closin' muscles. When he'd run past the cheering section, they'd start chanting his name. I want this to start at my job. I start prepping for class and my kids come into the computer lab chanting my name and banging the goofy balloon stix. I'd be so pumped that I'd headbutt Mr. Kim while walking the walk of inevitable triumph.

All in all, a fun day was had by all. I even got to see a perfectly executed Suicide Squeeze play. Suicide Squeeze is when the runner at third takes off before the pitch is thrown and the batter bunts the ball. It makes a play at the plate impossible, but it can be difficult to execute. The Lions nailed it yesterday.

Next weekend the Samsung Lions take on the LG Twins in Daegu. I'm just assuming the Twins are completely evil. Any team named the Twins is out to frustrate me as a fan. The Twins of Minnesota are exhibit A and my closing argument. I'll do my best to attend, but it seems like every time I try to go to two games in a weekend here, something goes awry and I only make it to one game. Rain, for example this weekend.

In other news, I got new glasses. Glass, two boxes of contacs and an exam cost about $100 American. I don't know why Americans pay through the fucking nose for this shit. It's just plastic and metal, but I guess optometrist's have to make boat payments.

I found this in Wikipedia. Interesting.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The top 3 English phrases that are incorrectly taught in Korea and are slowly driving me insane.

3. So-So. If I hear, "Teacher, I am so-so," one more time, I'm going to puke. The correct phrase should be "I'm okay," or "I'm alright," but for some reason the word "so-so" caught on and EVERYONE knows it.

2. Just because. This one is just infuriating. "How are you today?" "I'm fine." "Why?" "Just because." The sad fact is I know who teaches this. Mr. Kim and his Ivy League educated son, Hee-duk. They talk like this at Columbia do they, Mr. Kim? It's just a rotten, lazy answer to a question.

1. Not delicious. When you say something is NOT delicious that means its just okay or "so-so," but this phrase means "doesn't taste very good," in Korea. Su-Jin and I make fun of this whenever we can. If we walk past someone wearing a ridiculous t-shirt, we say, "Wow. Not delicious."

Honorable mention: "I will explain in the paragraphs to follow." If I have a student write this in an essay, I tear it up. Maybe I'm a hardass, but that is painfully lazy writing and it doesn't fly in Mattu Teacher's essay class. I try to get my kids to be a little more creative than the paint-by-numbers method of essay writing taught by the Kim's.

I woke up this morning and I felt like a bad teacher. I have no idea why. Yesterday was fairly tame and most of my classes were actually a lot of fun. There were a few problems that caused a couple of classes to start late and I did recieve a complaint, but other than that, the day was fine. The complaint was that I didn't let a late student into class. This bozo shows up twenty minutes late and told me that he was eating. If the kid wasn't a complete brat, I might've let him in, but he is a complete brat. The only reason he comes to class is to speak Korean with his friends. His mother claims that the reason that he's late is because his math academy goes until 6pm. My class starts at 6pm. If he would knock and my door and apologize for being late, I wouldn't have a problem, but he comes into my class and is disruptive as soon as he steps through the door. Whatever. The kid and the parent can go fucking scratch as far as I'm concerned.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I made a student cry for the first time in two months. I was starting to think I lost my touch. She kept chewing gum and blowing bubbles. I told her to stop and she continued. So, I popped one of the bubbles. She started bawling. I rolled my eyes and then gave myself a mental high five. I don't enjoy making children cry, but it is nice to get one for the away team on occasion.

Robert(a teacher who has been with LIKE for 3 years) is on vacation this week. I get some of his classes. Next week, I'm actually working 40 hours. Classes are fairly tame, but the fact that no one at my school cares about learning or teaching English is starting to get to me. It's frustrating as hell to know that I'm the only one who actually wants his kids to succeed. I want my classroom to be as disciplined and organized as possible and that's hard to do when the kids realize that it doesn't matter if they do any work or not. I can only do so much to punish them, it would be nice if one of the Koreans on staff would stop picking their asses for two minutes and actually give me some help. Maybe call a parent? "Hey, by the way, Ji Won was swearing in Korean instead of reading English." Maybe I'm asking too much. I can't wait until I move to Seoul. Then, my monsters will be someone else's problem. Poor bastard.

Apparently Andrew(my nemesis) was close to getting fired. He had recieved over 30 complaints, including, but not limited to, hitting a boy on his cast. Mrs. Kim was actually interviewing students and had talked to other teachers about taking over Andrew's classes. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. I guess now the Kim's are stuck with him because if they can him, they'll lose is girlfriend, too. I guess it pays to bully your girlfriend into coming to a foreign country for a job she doesn't really want.

The White Sox are showing signs of life for the first time in weeks. I'm turning into a huge Ryan Sweeney fan. He plays hard. He has speed. He makes contact. He's not Rob Mackowiak. If he gets sent down instead of Terrero, Kenny Williams has lost his mind. Sweeney should be playing everyday with the big club, at least until Scott Podsednik gets back from injury. Let's go over the left field options again. Rob Mackowiak. Yikes. Pablo Ozuna. Yikes. Luis Terrero. Yikes, but he did homer in his first at bat. Ryan Sweeney. What do we have to lose? Maybe I'm just starved for competent outfield play, but another month of this and I'm going to buy a jersey.

I'd use this space to rip on Darin Erstad, but he's leading the team in hitting, but that's like saying you made the world's best bad movie. So, I guess he's the Hackers or Street Fighter of baseball. I'm really worried about the White Sox all of a sudden.

I'm going to try to catch Samsung Lions games in Daegu this weekend, but it looks like it will indeed rain on my parade. Wow. That line was absolutely gorktacular. The Lions are struggling. I guess they saw my White Sox hat in the stands, checked the team out on the internet and decided to emulate their approach to hitting. It's hard to win games when you score five runs in a week instead of in a game.

Apparently, Brad has been contacted by David Grelck. For those that don't know, we had to "break up" with David five years ago because he had become such a lousy friend that none of us wanted to attend his wedding. Jason has been contacted, Brad has been contacted, when do I get a fifteen page email about how much he misses me? Maybe I should be careful what I wish for.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The biggest highlight of the Mayweather/De La Hoya fight. The postfight interview between Larry Merchant and Floyd Mayweather Sr.

His name is Dr. Rockso. He does cocaine. That's all we know.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I'm sorry I haven't updated, but I usually watch baseball when I update the blog and it's hard to type when the screen is covered in vomit. The team picture for the White Sox this season should be a frozen turd on top of homeplate. If the team plane crashed on a desert island, they couldn't build a raft out of the bats because if thrown into the ocean, the bats wouldn't hit water.

This might be the worst White Sox lineup I've seen in the last five years. Our outfield the other day was Luis Terrero, Darin Erstad and Rob Mackowiak and our DH is Pablo Ozuna. Yikes. I need to take a break until we get some players back from the disabled list. However, I will be watching more Brewers games this year. First team to 20 wins and the best record in baseball. Go Brew Crew!!! I'm one more good month away from ordering a jersey.

The Samsung Lions have been equally putrid. Oh Seung Hwan blew a save the other day. He gave up a two run homerun to the Korean AJ Pierzynski. To say this guy had a bad body would be like saying Tall Brian is a little tall, but he put every bit of his 500 lbs. frame into an Oh Seung Hwan pitch and crushed it. Not a fun time to be one of the few White Sox/Lions fans in existence. Next weekend I get to attend games. Yay!

Classes have been fairly tame this week. We had a little celebration on Thursday and Friday for Children's Day(Buddha's Birthday). I gave out candy and took a class or two out for ice cream. I also received a letter and pictures from my mother's students and had each class answer a few questions. The kids broke a window in my school on Friday(In one of the Korean teacher's rooms). Nothing happened. No parents were called, no one was even given a stern talking to. They were allowed to get away with it. I don't even think about the discipline problems any more. I just shrug now.

Saturday was actually Children's Day in Korea. Patrick and I took some of his students to a PC room for a StarCraft battle. We held our own. Patrick is an awesome player and I'm at least competent. Two of the students were a legitimate challenge and the other two had no idea what to do. Numbers were the only thing that got the better of us. That and stupidity by me. We had a crowd watching us for a bit. When I built my first Barracks they started cheering, when I made a mistake one decided to loudly suggest a new course of action. Patrick used his awesome Korean skills to pacify them and get them to shut up. At the end of the day we were about .500 for the afternoon. We didn't embarass ourselves and we gave as good as we got.

I had some shirts handmade for about $40 each this week. They fit like a giant man-glove. Great tailoring. I can't wait to got back at the end of my contract and get some more made.

Top t-shirts seen this week. A girl waking around in a shirt that claimed "I'm Great in Bed" and a boy walking around in a bright pink polo that had the image of a girl putting a boy in a garbage can. The caption read "Dump Him." Awesome.

I saw Spiderman 3 on Friday. Based on reviews, I expected something like 75% action, it was closer to 40%. There was a five minute montage of Peter Parker walking around trying to act "evil." I'm not sure if its bad acting or just purposefully silly. It wasn't quite as bad as Christopher Reeve acting "drunk" in Superman 3, but it was really stupid. My final thoughts on Spidey 3? Venom was awesome, but barely in the movie. The Sandman wasn't as stupid as I thought he would be. The story was actually fairly compelling, but something was missing. I have no idea what, but I left the theatre a little unsatisfied.