Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Canada Day, Eh

Everyone's Favourite Prime Minister

Monday, June 29, 2009

Well, That Doesn't Seem Legal

Apparently Korean hagwons are quite concerned that all of us dirty foreigners are going to infect the Korean populace with swine flu. At first there were just some teachers in quarantine. Then there were the bosses who wanted their foreign staff to refrain from socializing with other foreigners. Now I've started hearing about schools who are insisting that they will fire teachers or dock their pay if they leave the country on vacations this summer.

Koreans are still going on holiday, of course. And my students haven't taken up washing their hands after they pee. But forcing teachers to stay in country during their incredibly short vacation time is totally going to save the country from a pandemic.

Perhaps the hagwon owners need to watch this.

Too Soon?

TJ Quinn Fox News Report: Michael Jackson may have been murdered. An all points bulliten has been issued to the Los Angeles Police who are now on the lookout for a Smooth Criminal...

Chad: or it could have been the man in the
Amanda: Billie Jean is still holding a grudge. She's got motive.
Eric: This story has turned into quite the thriller.
Katie: They say Janey had a gun... Oh wait .. wrong artist. :p

These are the kinds of emails I get from Hashers...

Missing, One bedpan, silver colored. Has beer and chicken stains. Names of known alcoholics on back. Last seen near bags during GS's on out run last Saturday afternoon. REWARD PAID IN ALCOHOL FOR PROMPT RECOVERY. No questions asked.

found on a blog page....... ""We were halfway down the yellow line at nine-o-clock when agargantuan foreigner draped in a multi-colored woolen poncho, cowboyhat, and known only as Bone, suggested having ..........."" Who could it be????

If you want, I'll lead the pack this weekend. I've never been to the spot, ran really fast or regularlly woken up sober on Sunday morning. If anybody else wants to join, let me know. Let me know either by email xxxx@hotmail.com, hand phone -010-xxxx-xxxx, DSN: xxxx-xxxx, snail mail - xxx-x Bonporo, Yongsan Gu,Seoul, ROK, facebook - xxxx xxxx, skype - xxxx80, hash space - !@*!?@*, super spy - chalked mail box outside front gate in Uijoenbu, spot light - giant upside down penis in the middle of a cloudy night or stripper gram - on my lap.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Today is 80's Themed

Facebook is my major source of news these days - it's certainly how I found out about Michael Jackson's death. Everyone is posting things, some of them commenting on his less-than-stellar aspects. Many people seem to think there is something bad about that.

But, you know, I'm reading 1984. And not just reading it, but teaching it, so I have to pay close attention and explain how the system in the novel works. One of the three main pillars is the mutability of the past.

Michael Jackson made some good music. Then he possibly molested a lot of children and did some very odd things to his appearance. Ignoring that aspect of him isn't polite, in my opinion, so much as it disrespects him by immediately trying to rewrite the past to be more favourable upon his death.

Criticism of public figures upon or after their death doesn't strike me as a negative. Far worse is to be silent about the bad things of the past, as that results in their continuation in the future.


My shoes match but there is cold toast sitting on top of my fridge at home again today.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why I Try Not to Work in the Morning

This morning I made toast that I forgot to eat.

Then I put on unmatching shoes. I didn't even notice until after lunch.

I need sleep.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


From my dashboard:
1,500 Posts, last published on Jun 23, 2009
I'm certainly not writing 1,500 things about me to celebrate!

I just laughed my ass off to this. And considering how little I have until payday...


Monday, June 22, 2009

The Evidence Doesn't Lie

I've been a reading machine in the past month or so. No Internet at home will do that to you (though I've been using other sources to finish off the latest season of Big Love and keep up with new Weeds and True Blood.) I have a ton of books to read for work and I've been trying to read lots of books before the move so that I don't have to haul them all up and down stairs (though since I trade them in at What the Book, that doesn't always make a difference.)

And lately I've been saying that I really want to read some more substantial literature - something with bite and depth. Some classics that I have always meant to read. Some serious non-fiction.

What am I actually reading? Fluff and lots of it. I bought two of my "vampire porn" books over the weekend (Lynsay Sands) - I found one after the book-club-meeting-for-the-book-I-didn't-read and the other was on order and arrived - and I read them both by Monday morning. I've also gone and ordered the rest of the ones I don't have, and can't find, here in Korea minus one that What the Book says is out of stock.

Just look what I read last month:
The Boelyn Inheritance, Perfect Match, Keeping Faith, Bite Me If You Can, Race Against Time, Dragonsblood, What Canadians Think (About Almost Everything), Son of a Witch, Ordinary People, White Tiger, The Other Boelyn Girl, Break No Bones, Cross Bones, Deadly Decisions, Bare Bones, Grave Secrets, Deja Dead Meiko and the Fifth Treasure, Superfudge, Ramona Quimby Age 8, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, The Magic Circle, Felita, Going Home, Daniel's Story, The Trumpet of the Swan
Children's novels, Bones novels, vampire porn and dragon fantasy books, Jodi Picoult books, and books about women in nice frocks. All very enjoyable, but the only slightly serious books I managed to read were Race Against Time, Ordinary People and White Tiger.

They always say that what you do with your time needs to align with your goals. Which means that I need to start reading all those books I buy and say I really, really want to read. Though once my order of vampire porn arrives at What the Book, I don't


If only my copy was here in Korea! I'd so be in. Maybe I can just start my own little fall reading.

I'll just test myself on these instead.

Dedicated to the Iranian Protesters

It Could Have Been Me

It could have been me, but instead it was you
So I'll keep doing the work you were doing as if I were two
I'll be a student of life, a singer of song
A farmer of food and a righter of wrongs
It could have been me, but instead it was you
And it may be me dear sister and brothers
Before we are through
But if you can work for freedom
Freedom, freedom, freedom
If you can work for freedom, I can too

Students in Ohio, at Kent and Jackson State
Shot down by a nameless fire one early day in May
Some people cried out angry
You should have shot more of them down
But you can't bury youth my friend
Youth grows the whole world 'round

It could have been me, but instead it was you
So I'll keep doing the work you were doing as if I were two
I'll be a student of life, a singer of song
A farmer of food and a righter of wrongs
It could have been me, but instead it was you
And it may be me dear sister and brothers
Before we are through
But if you can die for freedom
Freedom, freedom, freedom
If you can die for freedom, I can too

The junta broke the fingers on Victor Jara's hands
And said to the gentle poet, "play your guitar now if you can"
Victor started singing, until they brought his body down
You can kill a man, but not a song
When it's sung the whole world 'round

It could have been me, but instead it was you
So I'll keep doing the work you were doing as if I were two
I'll be a student of life, a singer of song
A farmer of food and a righter of wrongs
It could have been me, but instead it was you
And it may be me dear sister and brothers
Before we are through
But if you can sing for freedom
Freedom, freedom, freedom
If you can sing for freedom, I can too

A woman in a jungle, so many wars away
Studies late into the the night
Defends a village in the day
Although her skin is golden, like mine will never be
Her song is heard and I know the words
And I'll sing them until she's free

It could have been me, but instead it was you
So I'll keep doing the work you were doing as if I were two
I'll be a student of life, a singer of song
A farmer of food and a righter of wrongs
It could have been me, but instead it was you
And it may be me dear sister and brothers
Before we are through
But if you can live for freedom
Freedom, freedom, freedom
If you can live for freedom, I can too

-Holly Near, 1974

I can't recall where I came across this, but a big thanks to whoever posted it for me to find.

"Monthly" Update

2. Read 101 books. (65/101) The Boelyn Inheritance, Perfect Match, Keeping Faith, Bite Me If You Can, Race Against Time, Dragonsblood, What Canadians Think (About Almost Everything), Son of a Witch, Ordinary People, White Tiger, The Other Boelyn Girl, Break No Bones, Cross Bones, Deadly Decisions, Bare Bones, Grave Secrets, Deja Dead

3. Read 50 children's books. (27/50) Meiko and the Fifth Treasure, Superfudge, Ramona Quimby Age 8, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, The Magic Circle, Felita, Going Home, Daniel's Story, The Trumpet of the Swan

8. Read all the magazines in my place.

I read the one I bought this month...

9. Read Man Booker Prize and Pulizter Prize winning book from the year of my birth. (0/2)
Man Booker Prize (1978)
Winnder - The Sea, The Sea, Iris Murdoch
Short List: Jake's Thing, Kingsley Amis; Rumours of Rain, Andre Brink; The Bookshop, Penelope Fitzgerald; God on the Rocks, Jane Gardam; A Five-Year Sentence, Bernice Rubens

Pulizter Prize (1978)
Fiction: Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson
Drama: The Gin Game by Donald L. Coburn
History: The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business by Alfred D. Chandler, Jr.
Biography or Autobiography: Samuel Johnson by Walter Jackson Bate
Poetry: Collected Poems by Howard Nemerov
General Non-Fiction: The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan
12. Complete a month of posts each year (NaBloPoMo or other month.) (5/3)

14. Send 60 handwritten letters or postcards. (10/60)

19. Be able to label a map of Africa.

I have one in my drawer at work. I look at it during tests and stuff.

23. Win at any of the quiz nights.

We're winning non-stop lately! Woot!

57. Eat at 25 new restaurants. (11/25) Namaste!

60. Visit a new continent (South America, Australia, Antarctica, Africa.)
61. Visit 5 countries I've never been to. (0/5)
65. Go canoeing or kayaking again.

Plans are in progress! Yay!

68. Go to a sporting event, a play/opera/ballet, a museum, and an art gallery. (3/4)

SK vs LG baseball game!

76. Take the subway to or from work once a week. (25/38)

80. Explore 12 new places in Seoul - one for each month. (3/12)Olympic Stadium

84. Finish all my multivitamins.

Working on it. I take one whenever I make coffee at home. Otherwise, I forget.

90. Go to bed by midnight thirty times. (3/30)

91. Start and stick to an exercise routine.

I've started. I'd like to be going more often per week. Also, since I'll be working mornings and evenings for a month, if I'm going to keep it up, I have to find a gym near work.

95. Make one day a month internet and TV free. (15/30)

99. Find a charity I believe in and donate/join a protest for a cause I believe in.

With PMS, I'm doing some fundraising for a charity called CHILD.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Busty Answers

1. Who is the star of the TV Show My Life on the D-List?
Kathy Griffen

2. In what country do the Bulabi Gang dispense vigilante justice in pink saris?

3. What is the name of the Fair Pay Act that Obama recently signed in the US?
Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

4. On which island can you find Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand?
North Island

5. Who wrote The Vagina Monologues?
Eve Ensler

6. Which music group is made up of Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Brian Chase?
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

7. Which artist is known for the albums I Feel Cream, Impeach My Bush, and Fancypants Hoodlum?
Peaches (aka Merrill Nisker)

8. Who was the first woman to serve in the American Senate in 1922?
Rebecca Latimer Felton

9. What American city hosts the South by Southwest festival?
Austin, Texas

10. Who wrote the 1962 bestseller Sex and the Single Girl and went on to work for Cosmospolitan Magazine?
Helen Gurley Brown


Facebook keeps asking me if I'm a fan of Starbucks. I'm torn. Back home, I prefer more eclectic, local coffee shops. In Korea, while there are plenty of Korean places, they are mostly all Korean chains and Starbucks makes the most coffee for the least amount of money, plus the quality is sometimes a big better.

I'm not sure I have any liberal principles left to lose if I click that little button though...

Friday, June 19, 2009

100 Influential Modern Novels Written By Women

Erica Jong did a survey in 1996 asking thirty prominent male authors to put together a list of 100 influential female writers, in contrast to the male-majority Modern Library list. This is just a duplication of it. The title was originally: "100 Influential Modern Novels Written by Women." Why they asked male authors, I haven't a clue, but it was an embarrassing list to go through as not only have I read very few, there are some titles I think I might have read, but I can't recall and I never actually finished To Kill A Mockingbird because I have an instictive rejection of any book I've ever been told I had to read.

Books I've read are highlighted.

Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
Anne Rice, Interview With the Vampire
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Virginia Woolf, The Waves
Virginia Woolf, Orlando
Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth
Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome
Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness
Nadine Gordimer, Burger's Daughter
Harriette Simpson Arnow, The Dollmaker
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
Willa Cather, My Ántonia
Erica Jong, Fear of Flying
Erica Jong, Fanny
Joy Kogawa, Obasan
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child
Doris Lessing, The Grass Is Singing

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time
Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres
Lore Segal, Her First American
Alice Walker, The Color Purple
Alice Walker, The Third Life of Grange Copeland
Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon
Muriel Spark, Memento Mori
Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
Susan Fromberg Shaeffer, Anya
Cynthia Ozick, Trust
Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
Amy Tan, The Kitchen God's Wife
Ann Beattie, Chilly Scenes of Winter
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Joan Didion, A Book of Common Prayer
Joan Didion, Play It as It Lays
Mary McCarthy, The Group
Mary McCarthy, The Company She Keeps
Grace Paley, The Little Disturbances of Man
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart
Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood
Mona Simpson, Anywhere But Here
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
Toni Morrison, Beloved
Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm
Sylvia Townsend Warner, Mr. Fortune's Maggot
Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools
Laura Riding, Progress of Stories
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Heat and Dust
Penelope Fitzgerald, The Blue Flower
Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits
A.S. Byatt, Possession
Pat Barker, The Ghost Road
Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle
Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac
Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca
Katherine Dunn, Geek Love
Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Barbara Pym, Excellent Women
Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony
Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
Anne Tyler, The Accidental Tourist
Nancy Willard, Things Invisible to See
Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry
Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Disturbances in the Field
Rosellen Brown, Civil Wars
Harriet Doerr, Stones for Ibarra
Harriet Doerr, The Mountain Lion
Stevie Smith. Novel on Yellow Paper
E. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News
Rebecca Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem
P.D. James, The Children of Men

Ursula Hegi, Stones From the River
Fay Weldon, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil
Katherine Mansfield, Collected Stories
Rebecca Harding Davis, Life in the Iron Mills
Louise Erdrich, The Beet Queen
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
Edna O'Brien, The Country Girls Trilogy
Margaret Drabble, Realms of Gold
Margaret Drabble, The Waterfall
Dawn Powell, The Locusts Have No King
Marilyn French, The Women's Room
Eudora Welty, The Optimist's Daughter
Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries
Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John
Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle
Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
Iris Murdoch, A Severed Head
Anita Desai, Clear Light of Day
Alice Hoffman, The Drowning Season
Sue Townsend, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole
Penelope Mortimer, The Pumpkin Eater

I Had Almost Forgotten About This

In my old bookshelf, no less! 8/12 isn't bad, but I intend to get through all 24 by the end of the year and 8/24 at six months isn't quite as fantastic. Here's what I've gotten through:

1. At the Point of a Gun, David Rieff
2. How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster
3. Ordinary People, Judith Guest

4. The Yacoubian Building, Alaa Al Aswany
5. The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan
6. Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Carcia Marquez
7. Race Against Time, Stephen Lewis
8. The Gate, Francois Bizot
9. The Truth About Stories, Thomas King
10. The Ethical Imagination, Margaret Somerville
11. Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi In progress
12. Swann's Way, In Search of Lost Time Vol. I, Marcel Proust
Alt.1. In Search of Lost Time Vol. II, Marcel Proust
Alt.2. In Search of Lost Time Vol. III, Marcel Proust
Alt.3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
Alt.4. My Name is Red, Orham Pamuk
Alt.5. What Canadians Think, Darrell Bricker & John Wright
Alt.6. Crimes Against Logic, Jamie Whyte

Alt.7. Riotous Assembly, Tom Sharpe
Alt.8. Epileptic, David B.
Alt.9. Navigating the Golden Compass, Glenn Yeffeth
Alt.10. Pyongyang, Guy Delisle
Alt.11. The Essential 55, Ron Clark
Alt.12. Bodily Harm, Margaret Atwood

I'm a wee bit more behind in the Themed Reading Challenge. I only have a month and a half left, during which I will be doing a lot of extra hours at work and hence be reading a lot for that and I'll be tired as shit. To make it worse, I've ordered the middle book in the trilogy that Friends and Heroes is after and I'm going to want to read that first. Plus, I have no idea how long it will take to arrive. And Jonathon Strange is a gigantically long book. I'm going to have to get cracking to finish this one up in time.

Books by female authors in which the time period is key to the storyline. And here they are:

1. Cafe Europa, Slavenka Drakulic (Eastern Europe, post Communist)
2. The Devil's Arithmetic, Jane Yolen (Poland, WWII)
3. Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky (France, WWII)
4. The Great Fortune, Olivia Manning (Bucharest, WWII)

5. Friends and Heroes, Olivia Manning (Athens, WWII)
6. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke (England, 1806 - Napoleonic Wars)

February 1, 2009 - July 31, 2009: The Themed Reading Challenge is a six month challenge designed to help readers clear books from their to-be-read stacks which center around a common theme or themes. Here are the “rules”:

* Books should be chosen from the reader’s TBR pile (this may be an actual physical pile or a virtual pile).
* The goal is to read 4 to 6 books linked by theme.
* Overlaps with other challenges are allowed.
* Readers may change their list of books at any time.

Readers may choose three different levels of participation:
Read at least 4 books with the same theme.
Read at least 5 books that share at least TWO themes.
Read at least 6 books that share MORE than two themes.


Thanks to Sarah, I've learned about a new cloud.

Korean Trivia

1. There are several franchises of convenience stores quite popular and visible around Korea. Name three of them that don't have a number in the names.

2. Seoul has several wonderful palaces, dating back to the Joseon Dynasty. Name two of them.
3. The KTX is the fastest train in Korea, but could use some work on the seats. As of today, how much does it cost to ride the KTX from Seoul to Busan on the weekend? (Consider your answer correct if it's 3,000 over or under)

4. The Seoul subway system is the most extensive in Korea, and one of the largest and longest in the world. What is the most expensive paper ticket you can buy for the longest trip on the subway system (not including the AREX train)? Bonus points: how long will that trip take? (Consider your answer correct if you're 300 won over or under, and plus or minus 5 minutes)

5. Name three K-pop bands or singers with English names.

6. Hangeul (or hangul) is considered one of Korea's greatest inventions, whether or not it was invented by King Sejong or someone else. How many consonants are there? (No peeking at your keyboard! Be sure to include the double consonants too.)

7. What is Dongdaemun famous for?

8. Who or what is a Haptic?

9. The Korean political system is a mess - but can you name the two major Korean political parties? (Bonus points if you name more than two!)

10. There's been some talk about bringing Korean food to the tables of people worldwide. What is the Korean term for Korean food?

11. Who or what is a Ghana?

12. The Seoul subway system is always growing, and the newer subway maps show the planned lines as well as the current ones. Including the currently planned subway lines and/or extensions, name one of two subway stations that will eventually be a hub to four different lines?

13. What's so special about orange taxis and red buses? (One point each)

14. Name three Korean banks. (Banks headquartered in other countries don't count!)

15. Name three of Korea's provinces OTHER than Gyeonggi-do.

Trivia answers for round 1:

1. Buy the Way, Family Mart, and Mini Stop were three that came to my mind.
2. Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Deoksugung are the most tourist friendly, but Gyeonghuigung is also nice.
3. 47,900 won during the week, or 51,200 won during the weekend. Use Korail's website to search for yourself.
4. A 3,600 won ticket will take you from Soyosan to Sinchang, and it'll take you 218 minutes - over 3 1/2 hours on a subway. It's 3,500 won if you use your T-Money card. Source: http://www.smrt.co.kr/Train/Subwaymap/Eng/Subwaymap.jsp
5. TVXQ, Super Junior, Big Bang, Epik High, SS501, Wonder Girls, Rain, Se7en, Jewelry... the list goes on and on on this Wikipedia page
6. 19 (including ㅇ, which can mean 'ng'). If you guessed 18 give yourself half-credit.
7. Shopping!
8. A type of touch-screen cell phone.
9. The Grand National Party and the Democratic Party. Give yourself half-credit if you guessed the United Democratic Party (the former name of the Democratic Party that changed their name as of July 2008). Give yourself an extra point if you also knew about the Liberty Forward Party, the Pro-Park Alliance, the Democratic Labor Party, or the Creative Korea Party (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_South_Korea)
10. hansik
11. a chocolate candy bar, kind of like a Snickers.
12. Wangsimni - current subways that run here are the Jungang line, line 2, and line 5. It will also serve as the northern terminus for the Bundang line once extended. Give yourself a point if you thought of Gongdeok. Line 5 and 6 run through here, and according to current plans the AREX train and the Gyeongui line will both run through here... eventually.
13. Orange taxis were recently started as a more foreigner-friendly option; red buses transport you to other cities and areas around Gyeonggi-do.
14. Hana, Shinhan, Woori, and KEB are the larger ones. Minus one point if you named Citibank, minus two points for AIG.
15. Well, there's Jeju-do, Gangwon-do, Chungcheongbuk-do, Chungcheongnam-do, Jeollabuk-do, Jeollanam-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and Gyeongsangnam-do. You win the gold star if you could name them all without peeking at a map.


My fourth grade ESL class has read an abridged version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in the past two weeks. For each book we read, there are some discussion questions and an activity to be done in class. This is what they gave me:
Many critics describe Captain Nemo as one of the greatest villains in literature. Do you see him as only a villain? Why or why not? Use incidents from the book to back up your opinion.

Choose and analyze three or four episodes from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in which Aronnax behaves as a man of intellect and Ned Land behaves as a man of action.

Some writers have seen Captain Nemo as a man who defies God. Did you take any theological implications out of this book? Explain your answer.

What is the meaning of Captain Nemo's final words, "Almighty God, enough! Enough!"?

Discuss the environmental concerns expressed in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Have you read any other science fiction that had valid predictions for man's future? Discuss the inventions first appearing in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and other science fiction that later became realities.

Is the contradictory Nemo believable? Was Verne right in defending his creation against suggestions of playing down or rationalizing his character?
Beyond the fact that the abridged version doesn't een contain Captain Nemo's final words, seriously folks? My students will not understand 75% of the words in the question, much less be able to come up with an answer. In fact, the only one I can answer using only this abridged book is the last one and the only deep insight I came up with while reading it was that the difference between Ned and Aronnax's response to being in captivity is that since the mind itself can't be imprisoned, Aronnax doesn't feel as captive as Ned as long as the scientific discoveries, exploration and studies keep him busy.

This is going to be an interesting class and to top it all off, I have so many books to read for all my classes I was up until 3 A.M. reading and then had to set the alarm for 7:30. Granted, I'm getting paid to hang out with five hilarious fifth grade boys and basically shoot the shit and to read great books with two smarth tenth grade girls, so I guess I can't complain too much.

*Chinca: Korean for really?

Thursday, June 18, 2009


So much for doing any book reading on my long breaks, perhaps. The only way out of my addiction was having the free internet turned off at home.

To Tide You Over

Until the next Transformers movie comes out (and no, I have no idea why I loved the last Transformers movie so damn much, but I did.)


I went to the bank today to set up the ability to transfer money to Canada through the bank machines. I tried to do this several banks/years ago and got a run-around about how I had to go to the head office several hours away and sign over my first born in order to do it, so I gave up. Downstairs, the lovely KB people handled the entire deal in all of about ten minutes and in perfect English. Genius.

However, they also issued me an International Card. An International Card that doesn't work outside of Korea.


I don't get it. Is it me that makes it International?

Also, somebody is going to need to by me some Cheetos lip balm.

Dudes, I'm Just Chillin'

It was pretty bright, up on the rainbow bridge tonight
I could see into your window although you’re far away
You were racing in a car
Beside a boy, you just don’t know
If he is up for what you have in mind
If he is up for what you have in mind

Change is on the cards, but this time it will be hard
But I never want to leave you
We’ve never had a fight
You should never split a pole
You should never split at all
I wish I had two paths I could follow
I’d write the ending without any sorrow

I will say a prayer, just while you are sitting there
I will wrap my arms around you
I know it will be fine
We've got a fantasy affair
We didn’t get wet. We didn’t dare.
Our aspirations are wrapped up in books
Our inclinations are hidden in looks

Summer’s hastening on
I’m trying to get a feeling from
The city, but I’ve been unfaithful
I’ve been traveling abroad

We’ve got a fantasy affair
We didn’t get wet, we didn’t dare
But the fantasy remains
You better come back to earth again

Our aspirations are wrapped up in books
Our inclinations are hidden in looks
I have seldom had such a pleasant day at work. I mean, I know the evilness of some of the classes to come, so there is that. However, so far I've taught two classes full of the kind of students that make me remember why I like teaching, had Indian for lunch with a coworker (and bitched about our hagwon, but really, that's sort of fun), spent a half hour with the most serious and sweetly-dedicated kindergartener, went to the bank and had it take less than 20 minutes, walked down through along the tree and plant lined streets in the sunny listening to Belle and Sebastian to pick up my third coffee of the day.

I'd Rather Be...

... playing beer pong with Betty White.

Children Have Complex Thoughts!

That makes me sound like an asshole, I know. However, when you teach ESL to low level students, it's easy to forget that younger children do have complex thoughts that they merely lack the vocabulary (and in Korea, the time) to express them. I remember going home last year and staring at my three year old niece like she was some sort of alien or the next super genuis.

But now I have international school intensives. Sure I have to work between 9-9:30 (though I have a couple of breaks during that time, so I'm not actually working more than 9.5 hours a day), but my students can have real conversations! They can make connections between what they read and their lives or movies or whatever. It's soooooo fascinating to get to see that again!

Plus, I really like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and now I'm being paid to read it. Woot!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Keep Puffin'

University of Andy

I loved both True Blood and Weeds.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Should Be...

... reading book club novels. It just hit me that by Friday I need to have read Rabbit Hill, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and A School Story and I HAVEN'T EVEN STARTED ONE! Then by Tuesday, Bride to Terabithia, which I am at least 3/4 of the way through. By next Friday, 1984.

But what I'm actually reading is how 30 Rock (which I still haven't seen, sadly) is a rip-off of the Muppet Show and the funniest book review I've read in a long time, by an unemployed geek.

Criticism Can be an Art Form

Go read The Thirsty Gargoyle's posts on Amazon Reviews. Hilarious!

My favourite:
The Holy Bible: King James Version
'For those of you who don't know, this is God's second novel after the Old Testament. It's a marked improvement, in my opinion. He got rid of a lot of his previous angst and scorn, and has really begun to show some of the maturity present in his later works. He's become a much more loving and kind God, and, noticeably, he doesn't throw nearly as many tantrums as he did in the first book. '

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Weekend Flies By

My weekend involved an awful lot of reading and lying around in bed. In fact, I didn't go out on Friday or Saturday night - instead, I got a lot of much needed sleep and read a bunch of books. Oh, and I watched Kinsey. I really liked it.

I did do two things over the weekend - I went to GS's On Out over at Olympic Stadium area. I didn't get there in time to hash, but the Down Down was awesome. An incredible amount of singing and food. Plus I got all hopped up on Coke. The drink, sillies, not the drug. After the hash, a bunch of us went to a baseball game - my first in Korea. I still find baseball kinda boring, but in Korea they have cheerleaders and Hello Kitty, so that's fun. Plus, Half an Angry Pirate (gotta love hash names, really) decided to streak at the game! He didn't get all the way naked (we didn't think that would go over well at all), but he jumped on the field from right field and made it all the way over to left field, waving his shirt around his head. Security tackled him and took him away. We were all talking about a hash fund to post his bail when we bumped into him in the subway. Apparently, he's not to do it again - but they were cool, as he said he did it because he loved the LG Twins so damn much and right after his stunt, they hit a home run and went on to win the game.

Sunday I went to the PMS meeting, which is basically a setting of dates and discussing a lot of things we could silk screen (bras, t-shirts, tanks, bags) or embroider (bag tags, patches, socks) with our hash names all over them. Oh, and I finally have a happy coat to put my patches/name on (well, ok, I'm going to pay someone to sew them on for me, because I'm waaaaay lazy and hate sewing), though it's a Southside coat rather than a PMS one. After, we went for Indian food at Namaste, which was delicious, and went to the Korean dollar store.

BUSTy Quiz

Since we won another trivia and have to make up yet another quiz, I thought I'd make mine all about things I found in this month's Bust Magazine. I have no idea if these are hard for the general quiz-goer or not, but I don't find half of them at all difficult, so let's hope...

(I'll post answers later in the week, in case you all want to play along!)

1. Who is the star of the TV Show My Life on the D-List?

2. In what country do the Bulabi Gang dispense vigilante justice in pink saris?

3. What is the name of the Fair Pay Act that Obama recently signed in the US?

4. On which island can you find Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand?

5. Who wrote The Vagina Monologues?

6. Which music group is made up of Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Brian Chase?

7. Which artist is known for the albums I Feel Cream, Impeach My Bush, and Fancypants Hoodlum?

8. Who was the first woman to serve in the American Senate in 1922?

9. What American city hosts the South by Southwest festival?

10. Who wrote the 1962 bestseller Sex and the Single Girl and went on to work for Cosmospolitan Magazine?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Grumbling Should Be My Middle Name this Past Week

Dudes, I'm in a seriously bad mood lately. I need a freaking vacation.

50 working days to go. Meh.

I watched Very Bad Things. That was one fucked up movie. This is what comes of inheriting movies from others, I guess.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Why do I have to have no internet when the sexiest woman on TV is back???

Friday, June 12, 2009

Go Look

I Am Doctor Tiller

This Has Been One Hell of a Long Week

And yet, I don't even know why. I think I need a countdown already to vacation, just to keep me going. I now understand why teachers back home get long summer vacations - frankly, you need them!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Most Fun I've Ever Had...

...in Fun & Activity class was today. Because it didn't happen! In fact, it's over and instead I spent that extra hour in my day sleeping off my hangover. However, my late days are at an end for a bit, as I now have a 2:00 class with Sang-yoon.

We won Alex's last trivia, Sharlene and I had a big fight, I drank way too much and got too little sleep. All in all, a normal Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sums Up My Wednesdays Nicely

"DAY, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent. This period is divided into two parts, the day proper and the night, or day improper - the former devoted to sins of business, the latter consecrated to the other sort. These two kinds of social activity overlap." Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Good - I watched 21 Grams and really liked it. I've had that movie for almost two years and just finally watched it. The plan is to watch all my DVDs before I move, so I can ditch any I don't like.

Bad and Ugly - I wasn't impressed with Taken and it was a shitty copy. Dad didn't visibly do anything to help any of the kidnapped girls beyond his own and frankly that annoyed me. Should the experience open his eyes to the worldwide problem?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

My Shower Smells Like Vacation

I'm sure that sounds entirely odd, but I've started using the same conditioner that I did back when Ortencia and I went to the Philippines.

I finally have an approved, for sure vacation. I'm off the last week of August and all of September. Now all I have to do is renew my visa, get visas for Ghana and Togo, buy a round-the-world flight, get some shots, find a new apartment and move, find out when the hashes are in Toronto and Ghana, try and figure out how and with who I can fit in some canoeing, and read as many books as possible so as not to have to move any that I will just end up trading in at What the Book.

Easy, right?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Noisy Mornings Should Be Illegal

All I wanted to do this weekend was get a little sleep. I've given up on getting a lot of sleep on weekends, or even enough sleep. But a little would be nice.

I didn't go out Friday, but I still stayed up until about 5 a.m. F is leaving soon and we've been spending a lot of time together. So when the air raid siren went off at 9 a.m., I was not a happy camper. In spite of North Korea's recent posturing and the fact that the normal tests for the air raid sirens are on the 15th, I was too tired to wonder if I should worry, even though the sound of planes filled the air next. Turns out it was for a holiday - some sort of Independence Day. (I should know that sort of stuff, shouldn't I?)

I went down to Songtan (though I did keep my clothes on)* to hash OBH3 and I actually ran almost the entire thing. I'd be feeling prouder if it weren't for the fact that my damn shins hurt. I think it might be time to buy new running shoes. Then DSD and I came back up to Seoul for Alex's goodbye party. We didn't make dinner because nobody wanted to smell us, but after showers we met the group at Queen. I partied for the first time in HBC on a Saturday night, spending most of my time in Ssen eating a blowpop.

Sunday morning, after maybe two hours of sleep, I was rudely awakened by a jackhammer. At 8 in the morning. Evilness! However, I sort of drifted in a semi-sleep state, before finally giving up and going to Itaewon. Visited the bookstore (that book ban has failed about twenty times so far!) and then went to Wolfhound where we won the trivia. Woot! Glad I know my playwrights.

*That's a reference to a hashing song.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

So I Guess I Move to Montreal Next?

When I was last in Canada, Michael Ignatief was a dude who wrote books and lectured. I'm not entirely sure I know what he's up to exactly these days, but from what little I hear, it's apparently quite a change.

I am very out of touch with Canada. I last lived there in 2002/2003, in Vancouver, which to be honest I didn't particularly like. So, since I've had this book called What Canadians Think (About Almost Everything) by Darrell Bricker & John Wright of Ipsos Reid (I had a principal called Mr. Wright and I just thought I'd mention that; moving on now), I figured perhaps I could read it and get reaquainted with the homeland. That decision led to a couple of hours of me going, "What the fuck?!? 85% of Canadians are complete freaking idiots!" or alternately thinking that I'd rather like to move to Quebec, if people there wouldn't hate me for my poorly-accented French and rather spotty vocabulary.

Within the first chapter I got my first chance to think WTF?!? Apparently a majority of Canadians (59%) say they oppose the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Robert Latimer's mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prision. Which really does make a majority of Canadians idiots, as I am not in the slightest chill with the idea that that many of my fellow citizens think it's not so serious to kill disabled children. Canadians, fucking hell. Not ok AT ALL, people.

The book says in its introduction to trust in today's society that: "Unfortunately, many humans richly deserve the suspicion with wihch they view each other. Their capactiy for deceit and betrayal and violence, to say nothing of shoplifting, fraudulent bookkeeping, false advertising. legal caviling, pool sharking and the failure to return library books in a timely fashion, seems limitless. It's a wonder we trust at all." Now it doesn't seem so bad that I overspend on novels, right? At least I'm not eroding society's trust by failing to return my library books (and folks, I hate to say it, but that is very much one of my faults.)

The percentage of Canadians who dread going on vacation because of the volume of e-mail they will face upon return is at 34%. I have to say I wonder who the hell these people are. Now, going on vacation these days for a week would likely leave me with about 150 emails on return and a Facebook notifications list that would possilby hit 4 numbers. And yet, I can still manage to happily envision myself on a beach, getting a massage, and drinking a rum something-or-other with an umbrella in it. (Which part of the world has beach drinks with umbrellas??? I've yet to encounter any.) I'd like to meet these people who'd rather stay at home and check their email and help them get the therapy they need. Or point out that even in Cambodia I've managed to find Internet access, so maybe they should just chill out a bit and dedicate a half hour or so to checking their shit while relaxing. After all, if we're Facebook friends, I'd be curious to see the odd status update on the cool fish you saw today while scubadiving.

I'd also be curious to meet the Canadian households with a car who indicate that during a typical year their cars are washed on average three times per month. Either my parents had strong environmental beliefs as regards to not wasting water for cleaning their car or I come by my laziness honestly, because I can't really recall car washing happening more than two or three times a year in my house.

There are less atheists and way more people who believe that the devil is active in the world today (1 in 2) than I would have thought. Fellow Canadians, the 27% of you who believe you can chanell or communicate with the dead, and 40% of you who believe in out of body experiences and that 29% of you who believe in past life regression - you all freak me out, just a little bit. I'm going to have to go and read some Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens just to calm myself down.

The section on gardeners provoked some unexpected laughs: "Let's assume that gardening is not a solitary endeavour - and keep in mind that we aren't talking about nude or contact gardening." Ninja Gardeners, Competitive Gardeners, Gardeners with Bored Spouses - as subheadings go, those kick some ass.

Apparently only 37% of Canadians could identify the first line of our national anthem. As the book says, "To answer our question correctly, you must memorize only two words, one of which has one letter in it, and the other of which is the name of the country you live in. It can be done." And I thought I was bad because there are two lines in there that I can't pull off well in English, as I always sang them in French.

One of these days, I'm going to return to Canada. I suppose I could make more of an attempt to keep up with the news back home. Maybe I'll start reading a Canadian newspaper online every day - although the odds on that are less likely than me getting a hickey from a gay man on a Saturday night, most likely.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Just In Case

On the off chance that I am ever called upon to run through a city with a cube while being chased by alien robots, I think it might be time to start going to the gym more than just 3 times a week for 45 minutes. And maybe less Toblerones. Just a thought.

Transformers is a pretty fucking cool movie.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Idiot Questions

Amanda teacher, can you teach Social Studies more slowly? No, goofs. YOU set the curriculum so I have to teach it AT THAT RATE. If you want to slow it down, then change it!

Amanda teacher, can you make the Social Studies vocabulary easier? No, goofs. I didn't write the textbook, so I can't change the terms they use. There is nothing I can do about the fact that even though the kids live on a peninsula, they can't seem to grasp what one is.

I'd love to teach the class more slowly and that would certainly make it easier to cover the vocabulary more intensively. But it isn' UP TO ME!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

It's a Quizzing Kind of Life

We've been doing a lot of pub quizzes lately. Tuesdays we go to the one at Orange Tree, where you can win coupons for sushi at Indigo. So far, between the seven of us, we have $50. Not too shabby.

Then we won last week at Phillies, so we had to host yesterday, which means a small free bar tab (and with $1 rum and cokes, you can make that go far). The quiz went over well, which is always a bit of a relief. I managed to not stay out late, but then went home and read drunk (always an odd experience) until about 4 a.m. I'm reading a trashing vampire book right now and I intend to finish it off tonight.

And of course, there is always Sunday trivia at Wolfhound (the one I've been going to the longest.) Alex is leaving Korea for Columbia, though, so Sharlene and I are going to have to find some new teammates. It's the end of an era, really.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Books are Better than Movies

I read a book this past weekend that made me cry. Ordinary People by Judith Guest is a novel about an ordinary family and how they respond to a death of a child and a subsequent suicide attempt by their other child. I haven't read a novel permeated with that much sadness in some time, in spite of the relatively happy ending.

Then I watched the most absurd movie ever, called My Sassy Girl. Guy's cousin dies, cousin's girlfriend recreates her relationship with guy to get over cousin, finally they fall in love themselves. Who thought that up?

Brushes with "Fame"

If you are going to be an expat in South Korea, it's quite key to have opinions on things.

Why might one need more opinions here than anywhere else, you might wonder. The answer to that question rests with whatever idiot university and high school and middle school teachers have decided it's a great thing to give their kids an assignment to interview foreign people. None of the expats of my aquaintance have ever admitted to doing such a thing. And if it isn't the kids, it's the TV people. Before I moved here I had been interviewed all of twice: once in high school about drunk driving by teens and once in Scotland by BBC radio regarding the peace demos preceeding the war in Iraq (I'm pretty sure they were hoping I was American).

Since getting here, I've done two TV interviews. The first was in Hongdae during my first contract. It was nominally about interracial dating, but the questions were definitely skewed. They seemed to want the two foreign chicks to say that foreign guys take advantage of Korean women; however, they did kindly buy us some coffee after we attempted to diplomatically answer their questions. The second interview I conducted in an incredibly hungover state and was asked what I thought about intellectual property rights as they relate to the AIDS crisis in Africa. No, I'm not kidding. Not something you really feel prepared to answer on a hungover Sunday while heading out to get pancakes.

More commonly, though, are the student interviews. Generally they are about Korean food or the tourist experience in Seoul (which I'm not sure I have much to say about, actually). Now these interviews are generally quite annoying. Without fail, they always occur when I'm running late or something.

Last night was the most interesting interview I've had so far. It was a group of four university students and they interviewed me about homosexuality. If I'm going to be stopped on the street for looking like I speak English, at least this was an interesting set of questions to answer. It wasn't an extensive set of questions - just what did I think of it (it's normal), did I have any homosexual friends (umm, yeah), what did I think of Korean conservative attitudes towards homosexuality (Canada was conservative once too, and I hope things continue to liberalize here as they did in Canada) and what I thought of gay marriage (I'm for it.)

Then they took a picture and we all threw up peace signs. As you do.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I was wrong.

It wasn't all downhill after finding the fifty bucks, but it will likely be all downhill after spending my fifty dollar windfall. I didn't mean to spend the fifty in a single day; it just sort of happened.

It started because I had an errand to run in Itaewon.

(Buying the newest issue of Bust is too an errand.)

(It is! Stop laughing at me!)

Anyway, I had some used books to trade in (Does it count as an errand if I managed to get hold of a book club book used? I'm hoping to make it to the Sappho Sisters meeting this month) and there was the new Bust. That accounts for 13,000 won and another 5,000 on the taxi that got me to Itaewon before What the Book closed.

Then, there I was in Itaewon, the neighbourhood of good food that doesn't require me to do any dishes afterwards. And I was hungry. The next 30,000 went on the best chicken and cashew in any of the four Thai restaurants that Itaewon boasts. It was delicious and I have more than enough to take to work for dinner tomorrow.

I walked home from Itaewon and stopped by the Kubawoo. Mr. Lee was his usually hilarious self and I picked up a bottle of red wine (which I managed to cork, dammit), a Toblerone (bad call - it's less fun when you can't snap off the triangles and I have no intention of waiting while it rehardens in the fridge - it's way too hot here already), and two small cans of Canada Dry Ginger ale.

Then I threw on a movie, poured a glass of wine so big that it's half the bottle, and attempted to eat my melted chocolate with a minimum of mess. Fabulous evening.

And that is the tale of the fifty thousand won. My money and I apparently prefer short stories to novellas.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Probably Only I Will Find This Funny

Or maybe you will too if you're an expat who's been to Korea...

It's Likely All Downhill Until Friday Now

I've started this week out on too much of a high, caused by the fact that I had a restful weekend (PMS Hash, lots of reading, good quiz) and then found 50,000 won in a book. It's in the old Korean money which I almost never see anymore and it's from at least a year ago, though judging by how long I've owned the book, it could be two years old. Either way, why I couldn't have found this last week when I was broke and not three days after payday, I don't know.

I don't have to work until 4 tomorrow! Woot for extra sleep in time before the gym, errands being run and taking the subway to work. Or that's the plan, anyway...

That was Odd...

Facebook Quiz: Are you on a boat?

Result: You're on a boat.

You know what your talking about. When you tell people you're on a boat they had better look hard, because you're on a boat.