You have failed and now you must Daegu!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

First the link of the day, "I did so because I was hungry."

Last night was the "Retirement and Good-bye" Party. One teacher is retiring and 10(!) are changing schools. Most of the one's changing schools are just moving down the street to Igok Elementary School. It's maybe 10 blocks away from my school.

The party kicked off at five. I was allowed to leave school before two for some reason. I hit the gym and took a shower. I made my way to the party at exactly five o'clock.

It was held at the one big hotel in my neighborhood. The went all out for this. They rented a big hall and hired a DJ. The event was also catered with a massive buffet.

The first 90 minutes was filled with teary eyed speeches and pats on the back. Everyone leaving wanted to cry about it. Then, it was time for the singing contest. That's right. In a room with 100+ of my coworkers, we had a singing contest. Two awards were given out. One for the best singer and one for the best dancer(The Admiral Jason Zwirblis Award). I recieved neither.

They did make me sing. I did Piano Man again. I forgot how long that song was. Also, I was completely out of my league. When I say ,"All Koreans can sing," I mean it. Every single one of my coworkers can fucking wail. Even the Vice Principal that always looks like he's twenty seconds away from passing a kidney stone. They did make me dance. If there is video I will find the person in possession of the tape and give him a savage beating. Let's just say, The Bus Driver made an appearance.

The whole affair ended around 930. I wanted to go home and watch the soccer game. South Korea was playing North Korea(It ended in a 1-1 draw, the new South Korean coach is an idiot). On my way home, I bumped into the various principals again. They invited me for a few beers. I joined them. I can drink these guys under the table. Mind you, Mr. Lee is about 5'5 and 100 lbs. soaking wet, but I can pwn his ass at drinking! After a few rounds of beers with some of my coworkers, they announced they wanted more singing and I was asked to go to a singing room with them. I went, sang two songs(Jailhouse Rock, a lot harder than it looks and 99 Red Balloons) and ran out of there around 1130.

It was an interesting evening from a sociological standpoint. Supposedly an old Chinese word for Korean people translates to, "People who like to sing and dance." I can see why. It was interesting to see some of the most uptight people in our school actually let their hair down and have fun.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Graduation began at 1030 AM local time.

I wore a smart sweater and slacks instead of going with a tie. It was to be held outside and I wanted the extra layer of warmth, in case the forecast turned chilly.

The ceremony lasted about an hour. It was fairly straightforward graduation stuff. Speech, awards, speech, speech, speech, good-bye. The whole affair took about an hour. Some of the students said, "good-bye." It wasn't nearly as exciting as I thought it would be. I was hoping that each student would have to wrestle a teacher and the only way to graduate is to score a pinfall or submission.

In other news, I've joined a fantasy baseball league(The League of Dorks) through the East Windup Chronicle. I'm in the league with a few other writers and a few professional scouts based in Asia. It should be fun. I think we're going to have a 14 man league, so the draft is key. There's not going to be much left in the free agent pool. I can't wait to get started. I'll probably post more on the baseball blog. The guy who's serving as commisioner(this league's Ben) lives about an hour away from me in Busan. We'll try to watch a game together. It sounds like he's planning to use material from the league for a few feature length columns. Here's hoping I don't look like a chump.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Images from the sticker pictures Su-jin and I had made upon my return.

Pictures from last Friday. Just us hanging out at a coffee shop.

Manjiro with apples at my parents house. Apparently he had a few mis-adventures while I was away.

Quick update.

On Saturday, I had to go to a wedding. As some of you well know, I would do anything to get out of going to weddings. They're always painfully boring and usually a big awkward party. Not so in Korea.

The wedding started around 2 o'clock. I was exactly on time. The map I was given wasn't very helpful. The wedding hall was labeled as "wedding hall" without any other descriptive information. Also, I wore a tie. I had to tie it myself. This still doesn't go very well. I've had to wear a tie exactly 13 times in my life. When you multiply my number of years lived(almost 28) times days in a year and then divide 13 by that number, it equals 0.dick. One day, I will tie a tie quickly and correctly, but Saturday was not that day.

I took a picture with the bride(one of my co-teachers, Ms. Kwon) and gave her my congratulations. The wedding started shortly there after. The groom strolled out in a white tux and the bride walked down with her father. At this time I was told by my other co-teacher, Mrs. Kim, "Okay, let's go." My response was, "Go where? They're getting married right now." "Now is when we eat," she responded. I was taken to a cafeteria-like room next to the Wedding Hall. There was a large buffet laid out.

The tradition that was explained to me was as follows.

Only the family and close friends watch the wedding. Everyone else says congratulations, drops off their gift(money) and then heads to the buffet. The whole deal took 45 minutes. It was the most painless wedding I've ever been to. My thoughts immeadiately after the wedding were, "I put on a tie for this?" I was the Zwirb of this party. I was the only guy under 30 wearing a tie.

On Sunday, Su-jin and I tried a new(new to us at least) pizza restaurant. The pizza featured a chewy black rice crust. It was actually really good.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

No sooner did I get back to Korea, than this happened.

Korea's National Treasure #1 was badly damaged in a fire. The Namdaemun Gate has stood for over 600 years. Its withstood invasion, hardship and war, but it can't withstand one angry dickbag with a grudge.

I've only driven past the Gate in a taxi. I never stopped to take a closer look. I wish I had. It was an impressive sight, even from the taxicab window.

My first reaction was concern. I found myself thinking, "Please, anyone but a white guy." I probably would have been deported on the spot. It turns out it was an old Korean guy who was angry at the government over a land dispute.

The finger pointing has already begun. First, at the government for lax security at the landmark. Then, the fire department for not reacting appropriately(If The Capitol Building were on fire, I'm not sure I'd react appropriately either). It looks like the President-Elect is also taking some of the blame. The only person that isn't being blamed is the guy with the lighter, paint thinner and the ladder. I don't care how much money the government "owed" this guy. Burning down the countrys' most valued landmark is not an acceptable reaction. Here's hoping we get through the legal process quickly.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The galbi restaurant in my neighborhood. It's like going to a restaurant in Daegu.

The Seoul Market. It's across the street from Kum Kang San. They sell actual Korean noodle cups inside.

Sellers watching the Super Bowl.

Mr. and Mrs. Bradley J. Kotch. They're getting married this month. Congratulations!

Hassman pontificating. Actually, you could answer any question with this picture and the caption, "Who can tell?"

It was a full couch at the bowl. Rachel's leg, her husband Brad, Ben in the middle and Dr. and Mrs. Braddington W. Kotcherly.

Probably the best beer I had all vacation.

The "Wall of Beer" at the liquor store. Probably close to a thousand different beers. None of which were Korean.

Bong-pil attempting to steal a car.

Manjiro wants turkey!!!

Matt triumphant.

The front of my parents house, the mailbox and my mom. I'm surprised I left the house at all last week.

If there was one word to describe my trip home, it would be "snow." All shots of the backyard of my parents house.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I was told yesterday that we'd be teaching today. Since we are done with the book, Ms. Kwon wanted to have the kids watch a movie.

I would have loved to used some Justice League or any of the cartoons at my disposal, but most don't have English subtitles, let alone Korean subtitles. Ms. Kwon rented a VHS(yuck) of Robots. The only problem was it was a "Korean only" version. So, I got my wish. Justice League for all. The kids seemed to enjoy it. I think they just liked the battle sequences. Most of the vocabulary was a bit advanced. I showed them an episode entitled, "Hereafter," where Superman is thought to be dead. We attempted to do some questions after, but the bell had rung and the kids were running and screaming already. They graduate next week.

It's still strange to me that the kids go on vacation, then come back for a week to graduate the next week. Whatever. As long as the checks clear. Oh, immeadiately after class, I was informed that classes were canceled for the rest of the day(week?). This is going to be a long, boring week.

Quick update. The teacher that decided we were mortal enemies has left the office. For some reason, she came in on Monday and cleaned out her desk. I doubt she quit, probably just took another assignment in the school. Either way, the awkward party is over. I still have no idea why this was taken to the levels it was taken to. Whatever. She can continue to pout at her new desk.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I landed safely in Daegu around 9pm local time. I was greeted by a smiling Su-Jin. She hustled me to a cab, got me in my apartment and then took me to a local restaurant before I slept for 14 hours. She's terrific and I'm happy to be back in Daegu.

Pictures from my "vacation" to the US will be posted shortly.

Highlights from the flight include

¤Sitting in the middle of my row. On one side I had a handicapped guy(really friendly, except he dropped a lot of stuff) and a doctor(reasonably friendly, when he wasn't falling asleep on me). On the way to Chicago, I tried the "Spicy Noodle." It sucked. On the way to Incheon, I tried the chicken. It also sucked. Either way I would have tried both and both were bad.

¤Podcasts are fun. Bill Simmons is terrible. He has a voice meant for an internet column. It sounds like my mom's allergist talking about the greatness of the 07-08 New England Patriots. Stephen A. Smith was Stephen A. Smith. His podcasts are awesome. I also downloaded some Korean lessons. These would actually be okay IF the two hosts didn't try to banter in between dialogues. It's painful to listen to, especially since its crappy hagwon level conversation. Some of the podcasts from DC Comics were fairly entertaining.

¤Thanks to Hassman for getting me the Futurama movie DVD. Great fun. My batteries died before I could get to The Marine. I'll watch it as soon as I get my xbox back from Su-Jin.

¤ Very different feeling this time. My first time I took the trip to Korea, I was nervous. This time. Strangely confident. My only regret was that I packed my cigarettes in my suitcase instead of taking them with me. I needed a smoke in Seoul.

¤I watched Resident Evil: Extinction on the plane. Painfully awful. There's a sequence in which the group of heroes discovers a box in post-apocalypse Las Vegas. It's about the size of the back of a container truck. There are about a thousand zombies inside and it's obviously empty for at least five feet, so they're not packed in there. It was like a clown car. The monster at the end wasn't quite as bad as the monster at the end of the 2nd film, but he was still pretty lame.

I also watched The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford. It sucked. It was just a very slow paced, dull movie. Half the movies is guys watching other guys sleep and occasionally shooting them. Brad Pitt was a highlight as Jesse, but he couldn't help this turkey. Just a dull, subliminally gay film. 3:10 to Yuma is still the best movie I watched on the plane. Perfect for a long flight. It makes two hours fly by.