Tuesday, November 30, 2004

belched Thanksgiving wishes

[NB: Sorry, but this was too good to pass up.]

My brother David called me up this past weekend by cell phone-- he got a really cheap deal for international calls, so he decided to take advantage of it.

We talked for a bit, and then David said he could send an audio message to Mom and Dad from his phone by email. I've heard of this feature plenty of times; it's been a commonplace in Korea for a while. So I decided to send the parents my Turkey Day wishes. David set his phone up to record. What follows is a transcript of the audio. After the transcript is a link to the actual message I sent-- the Hairy Chasms's first-ever audioblog.


DAVID (my little brother): Go ahead, baby.

ME: Hi, guys, this is Kevin. Just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and that I love you and miss you and hope you all are doing well. If you have a chance, send me an email! (pause)

DAVID: Eeeee? (This is a standard Davidism. I can have entire conversations with David in which not a single English word is uttered.)

ME: EEEEE. (My helium-voiced reply.)

DAVID: That it?

ME: Was that recorded, too? (The "EEEEE," I mean.)

DAVID: Yey-hey-hey. (A sort of tremolo version of "yeah.")

DAVID: Still recordin', baby.

ME: [belch #1] (I love the way my belch was distorted on the cell phone. I had no idea it sounded like that when I first made the recording. Sounds a bit like the last stages of a toilet flushing, doesn't it?)

ME: Did you get that?

DAVID: Yey-hey-hey-hey-hey.

ME: [belches #2-14*] (Intermittent chuckle from David during the belching. One of us starts laughing at the tail end.)

To hear the audio, click below and enjoy.


*Depending on how you count a particular pair of belches toward the end.


Sunday, November 28, 2004

my Thanksgiving: the untold story

It was unfortunate to have to keep blogic silence during Thanksgiving, but part of this past week was about seeing whether I could make it through five weekdays without blogging. I did just fine, though my site visit stats have taken a major hit. On the plus side, I suppose this means my readers are quick to adapt to adversity: they knew I wasn't going to be posting, so they went on with their lives (a hint of what the world will be like after I get splattered by a careening cement truck). This also means my readers take me seriously: they stopped coming because I told them not to expect anything.

That's power. The power of the dark side.

One of my closest friends sent me a triumphant email describing his new crapping prowess, now that he's on Metamucil. I did Metamucil while back in the States, and I can vouch for the power of that amazing, magical orange dust. You might have been shitting watery rabbit raisins in your pre-Metamucil phase, but once you start down the 'Mucil path, forever will it dominate your asshole. A single serving of Metamucil will produce shit that's denser than a neutron star. It's the kind of stuff Shakespeare would have written about, had Metamucil been available in the England of his day. Imagine shit that sinks immediately to the bottom of your toilet and stares evilly up at you, slowly breathing toilet water like a moray eel. Poke it once with a stick and it curls in on itself as a defensive reflex. Poke it again, however, and it leaps out at you in fury, going straight for the throat.

My own Thanksgiving, Metamucil-free, was nevertheless dominated by my asshole, which ruled the day with an iron polyp. After my morning shift ended I walked, alone, to the local Bennigan's (much nicer than the ones in the States, let me say), in the hopes that they might recognize America's special day by offering a one-day-only platter of turkey and stuffing and veggies and pumpkin pie.

No such luck.

I therefore opted for one of the lunchtime specials: the Southwest Sampler.

For those of you who don't know, the Southwest Sampler is a large appetizer, ideally meant to be eaten by several people. I'm only one man, but I too am large, and my stomach can easily store the screaming multitudes. All the same, the Southwest Sampler is a mostly-fried mess of greasy Mexamericana that will leave an impression on even the most inveterate glutton.

Undaunted, I ordered the Sampler and a Coke. I then followed this up with a Brownie Bottom Pie for dessert.

I finished the awful slaughter of my meal sometime around 1PM, got home, peeled off my skanky clothes, and then prepped myself for some Net surfing and a nap. Around 5PM I got up and prepared for the evening half of my split shift. I had to leave my place by 5:25PM to be on time.

Now that I'm 35 years old, I've got a pretty decent idea of some of my body's major rhythms. Digestion is a case in point. It takes roughly six hours for the food to do the Olympic bobsled ride from my mouth to my anus. My guts are pretty reliable on that score.

You see the problem already, yes? I'd made a costly miscalculation, having finished my meal around 1:00PM. My evening classes were to begin at 6PM, and I had a brief interval from 5:00 to 5:25PM in which to get dressed, brush my teeth, reinsert my contact lenses, un-muss my hair, and take a pre-shift shit.

That, friends, left about a 10-minute window just for shitting. Not much time for those of us who prefer to take long, leisurely dumps, the crap sliiiiiiding out of our asses like the Titanic leaving its berth. Compounding the problem was that only four hours-- not six-- had passed from mealtime to departure time.

So, based on what you now know: do you think the shit was ready to come out?

Aha, you guessed correctly!

Like the world's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, my shit was deathly afraid of its own shadow and refused to emerge from its burrow. But I was not to be deterred. Intestinal coaxing commenced. As a master of hangmun-do (the Way of the Anus), I'm able to manipulate the peristaltic process to some degree, and can produce a load of shit where others would simply explode from the effort. I grimly settled into the ancient breathing, tummy-rubbing, push-hrrrrrgh-push rhythm of hangmun-do's most advanced form.

As you know, forcing your shit out is never good policy; it produces hemorrhoids, distorting the appearance of your anus and making your girlfriend unwilling to take core samples of it with her tongue. "Eewww, it's like the Mars landscape!" she'll squeal. After all that grunting and straining, your once-proud "brown starfish" (as one of my other friends calls the anus) ends up looking like an angry vampire squid.

But when you've got only a few minutes, and you know that you're not going to have time to shit while at your job, you make the effort to launch as many glistening ass-babies as possible. I did so, and was rather impressed with the results.

So I skipped over to EC, blissfully unaware of the danger I was in. I had badly, badly underestimated the size and malevolence of the Southwest Sampler which, coupled with the equally evil (and aptly named) Brownie Bottom Pie, was about to wreak some major havoc on my evening.

Of late, EC teachers have all experienced a marked spike in student attendance. The Kangnam branch of EC isn't that old, and business is now starting to pick up. Way up. In July, when I first arrived, I could expect a few breaks during my evening, but now... it's routine to teach eight 25-minute classes in a row. If I'm lucky, I get a 5-minute break between classes, but sometimes I or my Korean partner teacher will run a little overtime, which means I occasionally have to teach nonstop.

Thanksgiving evening was an 8-class-in-a-row whammy.

The seismic activity started somewhere around the third class. I could feel it: something down there was screaming to get out, pummeling my poor hangmun with increasing desperation. Maybe there was a fire in the transverse colon. Maybe a fight had broken out between warring factions of E. coli. Whatever it was, the Brown Slug wanted out.

And now, a personal note: if you ever see me in a cold sweat when no normal human should be sweating, it probably means I'm trapped in a situation where I need to take a fucking shit and can't. Outwardly, I might appear mildly uncomfortable, or even a little sick. Inwardly, though, my mind and my ass are going:


I started sweating.

My student either didn't notice or didn't care to bring up the fact that I was suddenly looking mighty constipated. I was finding it hard to concentrate on the lesson, but somehow I managed. We finished a little bit overtime; I had about three minutes to flee to the restroom and let fly, but I knew myself: I would need at least five minutes for a proper shit and wipe-down, and there was always the possibility that not everything would come out at once.

Should I stay or should I go?

Should I stay or should I go?

This happens to me a lot. I often wonder if I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a condition that normally strikes women and is often linked to stress. I'll be sitting there on the crapper, the shit seems to be flowing freely, and then... nothing. I can feel that there's more to come, but for some reason, my sphincter has decided that it's Ian McKellen as Gandalf, screaming, "Yoooooooouuuu shall not paaaaaass!"

Consistent with this Tolkien analogy, the remaining shit acts like the menacing Balrog and waits until Gandalf has turned around before striking. I'll shit out a log, then wait... then suddenly the urge to shit will strike again a few minutes later. This cycle usually occurs in threes. When I talk about this problem with my little brothers, I call it "writing a novel," first chapter, second chapter, third chapter.

The timing of all three chapters was awful that evening, and none of my students cancelled on me, which meant I had to run to the bathroom THREE FUCKING TIMES to obtain temporary relief, as opposed to having a 30-minute break in which to proceed at a more leisurely pace. I faced the horrible command decision-- to shit or not to shit-- several times. The front desk ladies looked concerned. I told them I was a little sick. One shit session ran about a minute too long*, and a student had to wait for me.

By the time 10 o'clock rolled around, I was a beaten man. My ass had won. I could feel it vibrating in triumph, grinning that vampire squid-shaped grin.

And that, Gentle Reader, was how I spent my Thanksgiving. I've since learned my lesson: no more big meals between shifts. Luckily, I start a block shift on Wednesday, but now I'll have to persuade my intestines to adjust to a new rhythm. That ought to provide fodder for a few more blog posts.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Don't get trampled by the shopping hordes. Think about doing a lot more online shopping this year (hint hint).

And watch your ass.

*Ever had one of those unwipeable craps, where you're sacrificing sheet after sheet of toilet paper, but an equal amount of brown is being dispensed with every wipe? Those take time to defeat, and that's why I ran overtime.


freedom of-- or from?-- religion

Scott writes:

Hi Kevin,

Happy Thanksgiving from the USA!

I've got a religion versus establishment question for you. Please pardon my improper use of terminology, I'm out of my league here. But I would like your take on my basic question (the last line of this mail).

This week a San Francisco school principal said a teacher can't use documents in class which include reference to 'God' in them. In this case it was government documents such as [The Declaration of Independence].

Link to The Smoking Gun

Putting aside the issue of the teacher's previous questionable behavior and intent - is it possible to truly ban 'religion' in this case? The school wants to ban reference to 'God', and instead issue a decree that all students will follow the doctrine (and I believe 'religion') of "Anything But God".

Isn't the school's cry of "Anything But God" in-and-of-itself a 'religion'?


Scott's letter isn't concerned with the larger question of whether this story is bogus (see a liberal take here-- very interesting). Instead, his focus is on whether the "anything but God" refrain is itself somehow religious.

My instinct is to say it's not, because to me, a religious attitude entails some proper "disposition to the Real," as John Hick might put it (where Hick's Real refers to the nameless, ineffable ultimate reality that is mediated to us through personal experience and our culture milieu). Instead, "anything but God" is simply a reaction to the possibility of religious speech in the classroom.

I find such an attitude shamefully PC. Call me optimistic, but I think most public schools have a proper sense of boundaries when it comes to religious discourse. Most public schools do not advocate daily prayer in the classroom. Most biology classrooms teach the theory of evolution, and the ones that give air time to "creation science" do so without casting evolutionary theory aside. Yes, the name of God will be invoked at high school graduation ceremonies, but even here, this will often be watered down. When it's not, people notice, and they get angry-- as well they should! Example: I know that one girl from my high school alma mater, who graduated a few years after me, got into trouble for focusing too explicitly on God in her blatantly fundamentalist valedictory speech. Most high school communities have an innate common sense about how far you can push the religious envelope.

I also question the plausibility of completely eliminating religious speech from the public domain. As long as people both have religious convictions and live in a society that cherishes free speech, it's inevitable that folks will express themselves religiously. For me to say "Merry Christmas!" to someone at the workplace is not an act of oppression. The recipient of my well-wishes might not be a Christian, but surely they can make a distinction between a simple "Merry Christmas!" and the more sinister "Is the White Jeebus your personal lord and savior?" To study historical documents that mention God is to study history, not to proselytize. If people are serious about banning such documents, there's something seriously wrong with this picture. And if people are expected to keep their mouths shut about religious expression (as is apparently the case in France with regard to what a student can wear), then the "anything but God" wackos will have gained a huge victory.

Me, I'm a pluralist: I have no trouble hearing "Happy Hanukah!", nor do I mind being on the receiving end of a "Happy Kwanzaa!" I understand these utterances to be well-intended. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion, especially in the public domain, don't need to be mutually exclusive. Diversity should be valued by both liberals and conservatives, and we also need to trust that open, public debate about religious issues will keep society on the middle path, with religious sentiments being expressed, but not overbearingly so.

A linguistic note: we use the adverb "religiously" rather loosely to describe activities in which we participate with conviction, emotion, devotion, etc. For example, "I watch 'Friends' religiously." While I don't believe there exist any absolute boundaries between the sacred and the profane, I think it might be a little much to say that an anti-religious* mantra like "anything but God" is itself religious. It merely has certain superficial traits in common with a truly religious attitude.

Perhaps it's time to do a post on "What Religion Is." Hmmm. That's a post that might come under fire from all sorts of dissatisfied customers. Heh.

*"Anything but God" is anti-theistic in terms of how it's phrased, but the mantra arguably expresses a broader anti-religious sentiment, since the word "God" is a stand-in for all concepts of ultimate reality and the institutions devoted to those concepts.

I imagine some people might want to question whether "anything but God" is in fact anti-religious. "Maybe," such people would argue, "it simply expresses the wish to keep God in God's domain, which in America is not the public domain." The problem is this: the trend in the West is to privatize religion, i.e., to make it an increasingly private matter. Perhaps paradoxically, the only way to know someone's private convictions is for that person to express them somehow, in word and deed (say, by wishing someone a merry Christmas or by wearing a religious symbol). To my mind, such expression should be allowed, because if all external means of expressing religious convictions are disallowed, the only thing left is "thinking religiously while in public," whatever that might mean.

At the same time, I do think we need to keep an eye out for creeping theocracy. But we should go about this task openly, by the time-tested means of spirited discussion and debate. The way to deal with issues of religious expression is to view their resolution in terms of process, and not as a fixed end result. This question isn't going to go away, nor should it.


housekeeping notes

If you scroll back down to the "Two Assholes" greeting card image (in this post), you'll notice a slight change in the text by the cartoon Kevin's head.

I should also note that the "ass lion" scenario isn't new: I originally drew this as a cartoon I sent to a friend of mine-- Carpemundi-- almost a year ago, I think. I didn't keep the cartoon, so I had to draw from memory.

Not long after my previous post this afternoon about Mac word processors, I received an email from The Lost Nomad referring me to a couple Mac-ready word processors that are simple but efficient at what they do. I also discovered, to my delight, that OSX 10.3 already has a built-in PDF conversion option: it popped up when I hit "print" in my newly-downloaded Mellel word processor. This will save me from having to shell out for the full Adobe Acrobat suite, which I don't need.

Mellel can be downloaded for free as a demo; to keep it, you have to pay $39 to get the registration code. Not a bad deal at all, given that MS Word for Mac costs a ridiculous $190 at Amazon.com, and AppleWorks 6.2.7 costs about $70.

Now that I've got Mellel, I can do my word processing without having to flip back to my old OS 8.6. Switching between OSes is a pain; the less I have to do it, the better.


Ave, Rory!

An Aussie dude named Rory* has been visiting my blog with some regularity of late, so I've been returning the favor and checking his blog out.

Conclusion: highly, highly recommended. Rory likes posting about his wasted mental state, and he's obviously an artist-- not just with music, but also with food. His recent posts on "fusion" cuisine, in which he (1) makes a nuclear sandwich with quasi-Korean ingredients and (2) stumbles upon a spicy chicken recipe that is eerily similar to a dish my brother Sean makes, will be remembered as blogospheric classics. His latest food-related post showcases some food villains. Be sure to check out Kimchi Garlic Sludge, a.k.a. "Kimchi the Kid." I was rolling.

These posts establish Rory as the anti-Fatman Seoul. Whereas the Fatman is all about blogging the cuisine he encounters but never makes, Rory is more like a pervert doing Naive Art, an incarceration-addled Martha Stewart making rat-and-roach stew in her prison cell. Rory's a creator, not an observer. In the Hindu pantheon, he'd be a very happy Brahman on crack, reaching into far-flung galaxies, extracting disparate life forms, and smooshing them together to make some fucked-up aliens.

Rory is one of the liveliest of the "new wave" of Koreabloggers. While some of us older assholes are losing steam (maybe not the Marmot, but even he seems to have fallen back on group blogging to keep up the pace), the Koreablogger v2.0 generation-- not all of whom are young'ns, of course!-- brings a lot of fresh material to the table.

So even though I'm usually hesitant to blogroll newbies these days (like Kant in Königsberg, my daily cyberspace wanderings are fairly restricted in scope), I'm blogrolling Rory. The only question is whether his drinking habits will leave him enough brain cells to be blogging like this in a year's time. But before Rory's brain finally sloughs out of his ears, I'll enjoy every "Fuck, I still feel wasted" post he writes.

Then again, the brain-sloughing might not happen. Aussies are tough bastards. It's been said that, when an Aussie drinks too much, the only change is that he starts using American spelling.

Welcome to the blogroll, dude.

*Or maybe it's just Rory's disciples who've been visiting.


question for you Mac geeks

Is there no good word processor for a person using Mac OSX 10.3 (Panther)?

I just spent a few minutes over at Amazon.com reading some depressing reviews about Microsoft Word and Apple Works. Apparently, the newest versions are a letdown from previous versions, being buggy or just plain strange.

If you know of a Mac-compatible word processor for OSX 10.3 that can do the following:

1. deal with multiple fonts
2. handle graphics
3. allow for footnotes and endnotes
4. convert the document to a PDF

...please give me a holler.


Saturday, November 27, 2004

even more inappropriate Christmas cards!

And finally-- the last two cards for the 2004 Christmas rush. Online shopping is big this year; join the wave and buy some dung-speckled goodness. Click on the images below to take the consumerist plunge.

The Ass Lion gets his own card:

new colorized cards!

I've been wanting to make my banner into a card/mug/mousepad design. Here's the card version:

new colorized cards!


newly colorized Christmas cards!

Take a gander at the newly colorized collection. ALL B&W CARDS HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED!

At CafePress, the cards are sold in packets of six. The cost is $12.99 plus shipping-- not a bad deal for original fart art.

Can't think of anyone who'd like a disgusting card?

Then you're not thinking hard enough, asshole!

Take a look at these cards and click on the images to go straight to my online store.

The Ass-flavored Christmas card:

new colorized cards!

The Phosphorescent Snot card:

new colorized cards!

The Pungent Genitals card:

new colorized cards!

The Rudolph card:

new colorized cards!

The Santa Didn't Come card:

new colorized cards!

The Gift of Pain card:

new colorized cards!

The Tongue Chomp card:

new colorized cards!

Do your friends a favor and buy some cards today.


Sunday, November 21, 2004

dog fart and Santa Christmas cards

You want these cards.

You need these cards.

You will buy these cards, not because the voices told you to, but because the gerbil in your colon has been rigged to explode the moment you click away to somewhere other than my online store.

Don't let that happen.

Order a set of cards. Order two sets. Click on the images below.

he knows when you've been bad or good...

all hail the ass gas


the bisexual Alexander

The old riddle goes:

Q: In Greece, how do they separate the men from the boys?
A: With a crowbar.

If you visit the very beautiful campus of the University of Virginia down in Charlottesville, VA, you'll see a statue of Homer (the poet, not Simpson) with his, uh, boy. This elicits snickers from some UVA students. It doesn't help matters that a nearby dormitory is named Balz. Walking through Jefferson's campus (yes, it's a TJ original), you might end up with the unconscious impression that most Greek men, from Homer on down, are a little light in the loafers.

Of course, Greeks aren't any different from other world populations in terms of the genetic distribution of homosexual propensities. In fact, when you add nurture (i.e., culture) to the equation, the entire issue of sexual orientation becomes complex. I think that, as a rule of thumb, most folks clearly fall into the "conventional" categories of homosexual and heterosexual. But this doesn't account for everyone.

Ask any bisexual.

As Robert Pirsig pointed out in his 70s classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, there's always that damn, category-straddling platypus who comes along and fouls up the taxonomy. Bisexuality, at this point, isn't an unknown phenomenon, but it still makes some people scratch their heads. It's a biological/sociological platypus.

Oliver Stone's new film, "Alexander," apparently suggests that the great conqueror batted for both teams, and today's Greeks aren't happy about the imputation (see here-- link via Drudge).

The movie's got more potential problems than the issue of The Great's sexuality, though: it looks like "Alexander" is going to suck some major donkey dong. I watched the preview trailers for "Alexander" and "laughed and laughed," as the Maximum Leader would say. Colin Farrell, whom I like as an actor, is the wrong guy to play the title role, being both too old and too goofy-looking with that bleached coiffe. Angelina Jolie, whom I usually consider a fantastic actress, looks and sounds ridiculous here. Val Kilmer, who should know better, seems to be doing a Popeye impersonation. The movie, which is being marketed as the next "Troy" (haw haw-- the music is by 80s-era milquetoast synth legend Vangelis, perhaps best known for his "Chariots of Fire" and "Blade Runner" soundtracks), shouldn't be taken too seriously.

The evidence for Alexander's bisexuality isn't beyond dispute, and certainly isn't beyond interpretation. Check out this Wikipedia article on the subject, before it gets Wiki-edited into unrecognizability.

"Alexander" will be coming to Korea soon; the posters have been up in Seoul for a while. I'm wondering whether the film will be edited/censored. Back in the mid-90s, I caught a showing of the late-70s classic "Midnight Express," a movie that apparently features a gay sex scene. I say "apparently" because, when I saw it, the scene was quite obviously chopped out. It was standard policy back then to snip out anything controversial in terms of politics and sexuality. I'm curious as to how much Korean sensibilities have changed since the mid-90s, given the number of Korean art-house flicks that have appeared in recent years.

Korean culture doesn't quite know how to handle homosexuality; as the Party Pooper pointed out a while ago, there's plenty of gayosity in Korean pop culture, but no one here calls it gay. The Mangina Syndrome is very much in evidence. Will South Korean theaters (or the SK government; it's hard to tell where one entity ends and the other begins these days) snip out all references to Alexander's ass-love?

Stay tuned.


ready to go

YES! The Tittie Christmas Card is now on sale! I'll be colorizing the other B&W cards in my shop over the next couple weeks. The dog fart card ought to look pretty cool when I'm done with it. Of course... if you're into B&W minimalism, you could always buy a set now...


Saturday, November 20, 2004

my still-misguided church

As I wrote a while back, the Presbyterian Church, USA-- my church-- has set itself against Israel by advocating divestment from it. In my previous post on the subject, I contended that this was a mistake. No change here: I still think it's a mistake.

My brother David just sent me a link to a Beliefnet article indicating that my church continues to be in error. Apparently, some church officials said the following: "...relations and conversations with Islamic leaders are a lot easier than dealings and dialogue with Jewish leaders." The Beliefnet article deals with the firing of two high-ranking members of the PCUSA who visited the Middle East to meet with-- get this-- Hezbollah officials.

I can think of some conservative members of my home congregation in northern Virginia who must be having a cow right now. I'm shitting hooves and horns myself.


driving you insane with sound

Kirk Larsen links to a well-edited juxtaposition of the guitar riffs from Boston's "More Than a Feeling" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Daehee links to an animated musical that started to drive me nuts even while I was laughing at it. I'm still not sure it actually ends.

A snake! A snake! Snaaaaaake! A snaaaaake! Ooooooooh, it's a snaaaaaaake!


back to being an asshole

buy a well-endowed card!

Available soon at a CafePress shop near you.


was I full of shit?

Brian takes me to task for what I wrote in my post-election gloat. Read his post, and you'll find my reply in his comments thread.

What disturbs me about the left's overall reaction to Bush's reelection is the depth of the emotion, as well as the continued denial. Instead of lefties adopting the Republican attitude of "don't get mad, get even," we instead hear them threatening to leave the country for good. I'd have to agree that such people probably should leave, since that'd give some breathing space to the more cool-headed liberals, who are poorly represented by the likes of Michael Moore and his Hollywood ship of fools.

If these potential émigrés thought more about it, they'd realize that it's better to stay at home and hash the issues out in the name of spirited debate than to give up and flee the scene. Flight is cowardice. Brian himself vows to fight on; I respect that, and hope his lib/Dem fellows take heed.


postal scrotum: superscrote edition

Lots of letters recently. I'll just slap them on up here.


I just read you latest post. Whatever compromise or solution you arrive at, please do not stop blogging. Your blog is one of the few that I read faithfully and regularly and I'd hate to see it go.

Why not blog if and when you have the time instead of holding yourself to a daily schedule? That way you could think about subjects during class/walking/whatever and when you have a few minutes, throw them on the blog.

As for walking, you don't need 3 hours of that for exercise. Trust me, I'm the "abs at 45" guy, remember? 30-60 minutes of powerwalking (not a leisurely stroll, but a good, brisk walk 5 days a week will give you plenty of exercise.

I jogged for years and years until my poor knees and ankles just couldn't take it any more and found the joy of powerwalking a few years ago. Now that my wife and I have joined a local gym, I hit the treadmill for 30 - 45 minutes at 6.2 kilometers an hour (brisk walk), then lift weights afterwards - a different body part each day. But enough about me, let's talk about you :).

At the risk getting too personal, if it's your weight you're worried about, the walking will help a lot, but the other thing is your eating schedule. Dinner at 11:30? bad, bad, bad. Is there any way you can grab something to eat during a break in your classes?

Bottom line is, don't stop blogging. I can't tell you how many time one of your posts had me googling all over creation to research the topic, or the laughs your posts have brought (the Daejon love motel is my all-time fave, a classic).




I understand. There are days when I am falling asleep at the keyboard while trying to create a post or read all the blogs I consider worth reading. Blogging, for someone with ideas and the urge to state them, is a passion and a draining one. It may well be that there must be a compromise. There have been days recently that I have left the computer off and slept instead. The world does not come to an end, but I worry it might. Far better that you blog irregularly (egad!, not you, irregular!) than to not blog at all. If you are at all like me (a most gruesome thought) ideas get built up and until they are communicated they just tie up thinking and leave no room for new. Or in more direct terms, better to shit once in a while than not shit at all. The latter state is usually equated with death.




Hi Kevin,

Re: "Yet the question lingers: why did Bennett swear off gambling only after the press made a stink about his vice?"

There's no question there - he 'quit' because he got caught. Giving him the benefit of a doubt...he might truly have been trying to quit. But let's be honest, I was 'trying' to lose weight the entire time I weighed 220lbs.

Bennett's only effective change of mind came after looking down the barrel of serious unemployment. That's not an intemperate thing to say, the guy simply got busted. Because if someone's trying to overcome lifelong addictions at the age of 50+...... trying hard isn't someone's strong suit.



"I also teach French every Sunday for about three hours, and that's for free."

you probably do this for a good reason (charity, family obligation, business obligation, etc etc) but just on the teeny tiny chance that its not a good reason, im writing to remind you that you should not be teaching french (or anything for that matter) for free.

if its not for a good reason, then ive freed up 12 hours a month for you!

otherwise, it sounds like a tough time. that freaking split schedule sounds like the shits...

hang in there...



I started taking walks fairly regularly a couple months ago and have been blogging a lot less. I've also been the busiest during this past month than I had been for a year or so. Interestingly enough, taking long walks improves the quality of my shitting sessions.

Just my two cents.

J. Yoshida

P.S. You didn't even consider the Bolivian marching dust option.
P.P.S. The dark rings under your eyes are quite fetching.


Hi Kevin,

Posts like your latest are why I read your blog. I don't understand or agree with everything you write, but you often make me think. You will probably be worthy of a link on the sidebar of my upcoming personal blog, thus offending untold others.

I'm currently reading Total Truth: The Transforming Power of a Christian Worldview in which the author strongly argues that there is no place for dualism in the Christian worldview. It's been an interesting challege for me, as I've questioned but never fully confronted my own dualism.

May you rest well during your own brief hiatus. Split schedules are a killer.



I have one word: Whew!

When I started reading your latest post, I was worried you'd made the decision to quit...glad you found a compromise!

Sleep tight and don't let the centepides bite ;)




First of all I am glad you have decided to blog part time as opposed to not at all.

With respect to being an Elder in the Presbyterian Church and all the rest you said on religion. Hi, fellow traveler.

I spent over 30 years as a hard-core atheist/agnostic. During that time I read though did not strongly study much about all religions and their traditions. For a while I had a lot of resonance with Zen. I loved the tiger koan. I still think it encapsulates much of my life. I have a great difficulty with the whole concept of Nirvana. Negation doesn't seem to be my bag. If you read my religious archive, you will see that I am definitely not a traditional theist. However, I am a member of the ELCA as is Lee (Verbum Ipsum), and am a member of the choir, soloist, and regularly am lector and liturgist and occasionally communion assistant. Just as they are vital to you, so religious questions are vital to me.

I have a mission or calling to witness to those who don't believe but are looking for some intellectual support for theistic beliefs. I have apparently brought one person from being a self-styled atheist to talking about believing in God. She has said my writings are important. I try, though I don't always succeed, to write a "Sunday Sermon". Lately it has been a Monday or Tuesday Sermon instead. The main purpose is to get my thinking down so I can think about something new. It is a way of creating new ideas or expanding or even destroying old ones.

I am in awe of the level of discussion that you and Bill Vallicella get into. When I can't follow it, I archive it for later study. I felt honored to be included in the three-way discussion you, Lee, and I had not too long ago.

With respect to the not-twoness of the sacred and profane, I have this idea that since God grew with people by the accumulation of good souls, that He is not nearly as judgmental as many would make Him. [See below] He is far more interested in the attitude towards people and doing good than the details of its expression or interests in the material things of the world. As long a material interests do not get in the way of goodness, they are unimportant even if some consider them offensive. One of my friends who is an ELCA pastor has pointed out that Paul was earthy. Where the translations of the bible clean it up, Paul actually said, "shit". My wife gets all over me sometimes for my earthiness.

I think a non-traditional belief that one develops for oneself is much more sustaining in adversity than a lay-on of traditional religion that cannot be questioned. I have a fundamental rule for living, ANYTHING is open to question and investigation. I also am willing to live with incomplete answers for very long periods of time. I have a whole part of my head that contains open questions that accumulate bits and pieces of data throughout my living. I just realized that the greatest enemy of wisdom is impatience -- the unwillingness to wait for the answer.

[I just saw the counter to my own argument that there is no Devil. If God is the accumulation of good souls, then there would be the possibility of a Devil as the accumulation of bad or evil souls. This implies that it gets real dicey when death occurs. How are things sorted out, and is there really a Purgatory after all?]



Thursday, November 18, 2004

take/make a decision

In British English, you "take a decision." In American English, you make one. The British expression is similar to the French construction, prendre une décision.

And it's time for me to decide how I'm to proceed with this blog of mine.

I didn't anticipate being this goddamn tired all the time. Part of this is my fault: bad eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, and The Will to Blog conflicting with The Need to Sleep. Part of this isn't my fault: my crazy split-shift schedule has completely destroyed my internal rhythms, and I'm a creature who functions best on at least six hours of sleep in a row (eight would be ideal).

I've thought about this a good bit today... and I'm not ready to abandon the blog. I will, however, be scaling way back on posting: the Hairy Chasms is about to become a Weekend-Only Blog. This is only temporary; I start a block shift at the beginning of December, so I'll have time to blog regularly for three or four months (as I once again adjust to a different sleep pattern). Weekend blogging is only for two weekends.

This will be awful for site traffic, but since my stats have never been impressive, I'm not saddled with the guilt that comes with letting down throngs of people. My regular readers number no more than a couple dozen-- probably fewer. I'm glad that, of my regulars, some have become correspondents. That's far more valuable to me than piles of commentators with whom I develop no real e-friendships. It's nice, for example, to have running discussions with Scott, and I'm always happy to slap up something witty from Justin, HK, Charlie, the Nomad, etc. Dr. Vallicella and I have exchanged quite a few cordial emails, despite our disagreements. Dr. Vallicella's friend, Dr. Horace Jeffrey Hodges, has also sent me some very insightful emails.

So it's time for a bit of rest and moderation.

And since this decision marks something of a blogological turning point, I'll reveal somethng about myself that might surprise you, enrage you, or make you shrug. It's time to come clean about my religious loyalties, and to explain why I've had an abiding interest in religious issues.

I'm an ordained elder of the Presbyterian Church, USA.

This doesn't mean my palms glow with Jesus-light. I can't touch a woman's chest and enlarge her breasts just because she's asked the Lord for bigger titties. Being a Presbyterian elder isn't the same as being an ordained member of the Catholic hierarchy; there's no real spiritual authority implied in PCUSA elderhood (some elders might argue otherwise; they're full of shit). An elder's most important role is as a voting member of the Session, the governing body of each individual church. I've served on my church's Session twice; in both cases, my tenure was cut short because I left the country (once to Switzerland in 1989; once to Korea in 2002). I'm currently an "inactive" elder, but once you're ordained, you're an elder for life.

Presbyterians are nothing if not orderly. This is probably why we've earned the title of God's Frozen Chosen. We also love food, which is fine by me. Very few church meetings occur without someone bringing something to eat.

But I've never felt totally comfortable inside the Presbyterian nomos. I'm more into cross-traditional connections, interrelationships, commonalities, grand themes. I chafe during monthly meetings of the Session; to be honest, I'm not a very churchy guy. As readers of this blog know well, I'm perfectly comfortable being nasty and foul in thought and language. Boundaries were meant to be violated; they don't mean as much to me as they do to other people.

Through it all, despite whatever irreverence you think you see, I'm an elder because I take the religious dimension of life very seriously. It might not look it, but there have been moments on this blog where I took it upon myself to try and provide something akin to ministry. It's part of my calling to, every once in a while, shake a finger at people and tell them to be good. It may be hard for some readers to see where I do this, but if my readings in Zen and sporadic meditational practice have taught me anything, it's that explicit, crystal-clear lessons are the easiest to dole out, but the least likely to be of long-term value. Value comes from wrestling with religious truth, whether this is Jacob wrestling with an angel, Jesus suffering on the cross, or the Buddha weathering the Mara's temptations under the bo tree. Truth often arrives in a mask or in a fog; it's hard to discern its shape. You have to squint and guess and conjecture; you have to step into the fog, pry off the mask. Sift through my blog and you'll find obvious instances of preachiness, but look again at some of the more shit-caked passages and you might see hidden corn kernels of elder-ish wisdom (wisdom? heh) winking out at you.

I didn't want to reveal that I was an elder for a couple reasons. First, I wanted my privacy. Second, I was concerned about whether people could handle the fact that an elder might be so enamored of his own asshole. This second reason, though, began to seem more and more like cowardice to me (as some friends already pointed out in private). If nothing else, I should, for the sake of honesty, let my readers know where I'm coming from.

Obviously, I've been engaged in a long and fruitful internal dialogue with Buddhism. I'm not a practicing Buddhist, but there's much I like about Buddhist ethics and metaphysics. I've learned a lot from reading, limited practice, and continued interaction with both lay and monastic Buddhist practitioners. It's a cliche to say that "crossing over and coming back" allows one to see one's home tradition more clearly, but it's nonetheless true: I've discovered close cousins to Buddhist truths right in the backyard of my own Christianity.

At the same time, I'm a scientific skeptic and I frown on superstition. As a result, I'm no theist (which will seem odd to people who can't understand how a church elder can be a nontheist). Traditional Christians will peg me as a flaming religious liberal, which I am. I don't believe in scriptural literalism, and I can't stand fundamentalist attitudes in any religious tradition. I believe in the power and efficacy of dialogue, am willing to grant that other religious ways are as legitimate as my own, and have little patience for displays of religious self-righteousness. At the same time, I don't believe that institutional religion is inherently bad. As the great Buddhist William Shakespeare said in Hamlet, "There is no good or bad but thinking makes it so."

My studies in Eastern philo and religion have led me away from a dualistic worldview. I don't see the necessity for absolute boundaries between certain types of thought and behavior, which is one reason why I'm comfortable moving back and forth between the scatological and the religious. These things are, as the Zennist would say, not-two.

So you'd have every right to ask me why, if I'm so comfortable with my own nondualism, I felt I couldn't reveal the fact that I'm an ordained officer of the church. Since there's no good answer to that question, I've decided it's better simply to drop the pretense that I'm merely interested in religious issues. Now you know: I'm not just a curious seeker. I have a vested personal interest in these questions.

As I said above, this might not mean much to many of you. But I hope this clears matters up for those of you who've wondered why I've spent so much time blogging on religious matters, and why I'm simultaneously able to rhapsodize about my ass-babies and women's nipples.

So-- that's it for now. More filthy material will come your way this weekend, and the following weekend. I start that block shift (2PM to 10PM) in December; we'll see where the blog goes from there, yes?


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

the to-do list: truth and consequences

Things I've been wanting to do, but haven't done:

1. Start cranking out a new line of Christmas cards for 2004.

2. Keep working on my ms for The San-shin's Tiger, a children's book (largely shit-free) I began brainstorming back around late 2002/early 2003.

3. Assemble and edit religion-related material from this blog to make a book I hope to sell through my CafePress store.

4. Start a story blog for my goddaughter (selfish reason: to help me practice writing in a children's story mode).

5. Start work on a book that uses scatology (cartoons and essays) to describe some basic Buddhist concepts. I'm thinking of making this book 108 chapters to correspond to the 108-bead Buddhist rosary.

6. Work on a paper that surveys and critiques various theories of religious pluralism, then offers an alternative proposal-- the "groundless pluralism" I've been talking about on this blog.

7. Slogging my fat ass over to the local hapkidojang and taking hapkido classes.

8. Taking long walks during my free time.

9. Tutoring on weekends to make extra money.

10. Catching up on sleep.

So far, none of the above is coming to pass. I wake up around 5:20AM, teach until 11AM or so, eat lunch, blog a bit, fall asleep (if at all possible), leave for my afternoon shift around 5:25PM, work until 10PM, eat dinner around 11:30PM, surf/blog a while, and get to sleep around 1:00AM. Shitty way to live. It's sucking all the creativity out of me (what little there was, anyway).

Blogging is itself part of the problem. The blog keeps me sane, but it also cuts in on crucial sleep time.

I'd like to be able to teach for money on weekends, but I work two Saturdays a month and cherish my Sundays. On my free Saturdays, I find I'm usually too tired to do anything meaningful. I also teach French every Sunday for about three hours, and that's for free. Hélas.

I'm beginning to think I may have to abandon the blog, but this won't be so I can pursue all the items on my to-do list: if I nix the blog, it'll be purely for the sake of item 10. Sleep.

They say that, if you need an alarm clock to wake up, you're sleep-deprived. By that reckoning, I've been sleep-deprived for months. Something's gotta give. If I give up the blog and start up the 3-hour walking routine I've been wanting to do, I can exercise and get about two hours' sleep in the afternoons, between shifts. The downside is that, with the blog being about the only thing between me and raving lunacy, there's a good chance my inner life will drop off like a leprous limb. That, friends, would suck. I have no intention of becoming a mere cog in a machine, a drone shuffling through his routine from day to day, like so many of the sleepy Koreans I see around me. There has to be more to life than this.

Hmmmm. I suppose a compromise solution is possible: I could blog only on weekends. Is this realistic, given the other projects I'd like to do? I don't know. Will have to mull this over. All I know is that I've been tired since I began this job in July, and I've got dark circles under my eyes every damn day now. Pathetic.


Bill Bennett in perspective

The Maximum Leader and Smallholder write about Bill Bennett here and here.

I paired Bill Bennett up with Bob Jones III, which was probably misleading in a couple ways. First, I made it appear that I think Bennett and Jones are equally poor representatives of the right. That's not true: I think Jones is far loonier and represents an actual danger. Bennett is simply unimpressive as an advocate of virtuous conduct. Second, I seem to have given the impression that I think gambling is immoral. I'm not comfortable with gambling, but I don't think it's intrinsically immoral.

I focused more on Bennett because, to me, Bob Jones is an open-and-shut case. He's a nut. He's rich, influential, and dangerous, but a nut all the same. A bit of reading among the online conservatives seems to indicate that even conservatives, on the whole, don't take this man seriously. Bennett, on the other hand, is saying many worthwhile things. I'm not ready to dismiss him as a loon, but he didn't help his image by crowing (along with many liberals) about the primary importance of values/virtues in the recent election. This was a mistake on his part.

It's very telling that Bennett has sworn off gambling. If we accept the Maximum Leader's spin, this is probably because Bennett knew that, as a public figure, he shouldn't indulge his vice extensively. Maybe the ML is right. I don't know. I'd like to think that Bennett knew he'd Done Wrong. If Bennett himself were only worried about his public image, that would simply add to the hypocrisy: virtuous conduct blossoms from within, not from superficial concern with public opinion. Yet the question lingers: why did Bennett swear off gambling only after the press made a stink about his vice? The timing is suspect. Surely the man had plenty of time to renounce gambling (or at least moderate his habit) beforehand.

Changing your lifestyle requires enormous self-discipline as well as support from friends and loved ones. Swearing off gambling is a herculean act of will. If Bennett has pulled it off, I can respect that. But I still think the conservatives have far better standard-bearers than Bennett in their ranks.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

postal scrotum: more on Bennett

Scott writes:

Hi Kevin,

Re: "in defense of Bill Bennett"

The relevant arugment isn't about 'casting stones', per se. It's about righteous indignation in the face of a hypocrite. Bennett is a hypocrite because he failed greatly, considerably and repeatedly - while railing against others who similarly possessed those 3 traits in the face of their own (repeated) sin.

As for Jesus' comment to the crowd trying to kill the adulteress, I think the translation lost something. I think he (quite likely) meant to say, "Whoever in this crowd hasn't tapped some sweet ass outside of marriage, may cast the first stone. You're all a bunch of hypocrites. You all are just glad the one who got called out wasn't you - because you're all adulterers. Go home. Losers."


Yeah; when you consider that Jesus' standard for adultery was strict-- it included the mere thought of committing the sin-- your second paragraph makes sense. Heh.


in defense of Bill Bennett

The Maximum Leader offers a quasi-defense of Bennett ("quasi" because the ML concedes that Bennett's gambling habit isn't admirable) here. He finishes his post with a question:

But is the Big Hominid contending that in order to be qualified to speak on moral issues one must be completely without fault?

Luckily, the answer to this has already been written, but gets routinely ignored by everyone, including yours truly:

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again."

--Jn 8:1-11 (NRSV)

Maybe this means I should go easy on Wild Bill. Maybe it also means Wild Bill needs to watch his own judgmental streak. The above passage indicates, pace current arguments that allow us to forgive ourselves our own faults, that we need to practice a great deal more self-criticality than we usually do, before we can begin to even think about taking on the role of moral pillar in society.


Monday, November 15, 2004


So much time has passed since this first appeared, but lest we forget:

The Gollum Rap (The Towers Are the Players)

Now enshrined on the sidebar.


clash of civilizations?

The Lost Nomad writes:

Hi Kevin,

With you having studied religion, I'm curious what your take is on this:  Article Link

Touchy subject (for some), I know, but you hear about the divide between Islam and the West (Christianity?) more and more.  Makes me wonder if this could end up being the catalyst for the next world war...far fetched?  I don't know if it is, at the rate this is going.

Lost Nomad

Bernard Lewis, in his Islam and the West, notes the asymmetrical nature of the dichotomy, "Islam versus the West." The West includes areas with a heavy Muslim influence, and much of the Muslim world has absorbed Western memes. Also, the term "West" is cultural and political, while the term "Islam" is, arguably, religio-political (at least from the Western perspective). Lewis notes further that Muslims and Christians use terms familiar to the other, like "infidel." Each knows what the other is charging; each understands the other's exclusivistic language.

I tend to think, especially now that we're focusing on the question of theocracy, that whatever huge conflict lies in store will be between religions, not between the awkward dichotomy of Islam and the West. Nigeria, with its extensive interreligious conflicts (Christian-Muslim), is an example of what may be ahead. The Third World is likely to be a missionary's battleground, and to the extent that America allows itself to be charmed by visions of Christian theocracy (I don't see this happening anytime soon, but do think it should be dealt with now, before it becomes a real problem), the First World might see its share of religious strife, too-- though I think this will flare up in Europe far sooner than it will in the US.

I have no idea what shape the conflict will take, but it's a good guess that it'll be almost the exact shape of the geographic borders of the Muslim world, especially as long as the moderate Muslims continue their silence. The Nomad's linked article, on Thailand's growing Muslim problem, talks about the growing rift between moderate and radical Islam, partly attributable to the rapid spread of ideas through modern communication technologies. The article, disappointingly, doesn't explore the question of why moderate Muslims are largely silent about religious violence.

Speaking of silence and moderates: are mainstream Republicans disowning Bob Jones III?

How about Bill Bennett?

I doubt they'll disown the latter; if Dr. Vallicella's recent post is an indication, admiration for Bennett is alive and well in the GOP mainstream. I'm sorry, but I don't find the pro-Bennett arguments convincing: Bennett's life doesn't appear to conform to the virtues he advocates. While I agree with Dr. Vallicella that people too easily use the word "hypocrite," I think it does apply to someone like Bennett. Bennett's gambling wasn't a one-time thing: it was a vice. His repeated inability to admit the true extent of the vice was telling, not to mention contrary to the virtue of honesty. These aren't "wobbles"; they're indications of an enormous internal disconnect between what is preached and what is practiced. Bennett is the parent who admonishes, "Do as I say, not as I do." If you're a public figure advocating higher standards of behavior, it's only natural that the consistency of your own conformity to those standards will be scrutinized. Bennett, in my opinion, has betrayed people's trust. His message might be a good one, but he's an awful messenger.


Sunday, November 14, 2004

Bob Jones: FUCK YOU

A huge middle finger to Bob Jones III, who wrote a congratulatory letter to George Bush that was dripping with theocratic intent (see here for the full letter, with comments). As I mentioned before, my arguments about theocracy were restricted purely to the question of what mattered this election. This doesn't mean I'm unconcerned about the power of the religious right. "Theocracy" might be an awkward buzzword for what worries many liberals, but it's an adequate descriptor for the agenda of people like Bob Jones, who'd like to see This Great Land of Ours awash in gentle Jesus-radiation: a Bible in every pot.

Think I'm kidding? Here's an excerpt from Jones's letter:

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

Had your opponent won, I would have still given thanks, because the Bible says I must (I Thessalonians 5:18). It would have been hard, but because the Lord lifts up whom He will and pulls down whom He will, I would have done it. It is easy to rejoice today, because Christ has allowed you to be His servant in this nation for another presidential term. Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years—a brief time only—to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God. [emphasis added]

Please read the italicized portion over and over again until it sinks in. That's what theocracy is all about, folks. If you don't see it there, you're in deep denial. It's incumbent on more rational conservatives to distance themselves from people like Bob Jones. It's incumbent on liberals to aid the process by dropping their overemotionalism and regaining a measure of rationality: dKos and Atrios and Michael Moore shouldn't be your spokespeople; a left wing full of Kevin Drums, however, would be welcome.

I've argued before that secularism is the neutral ground that allows our country to enjoy a largely harmonious religious pluralism. Buddhist temples and Christian churches can be found next door to each other in many cities. High school students form circles of friends who come from many different backgrounds. Such diversity gives us strength. Ideological homogeneity leads to ideological inbreeding. Both liberals and conservatives should do what they can to promote diversity not only as a fact but as a value, as something to uphold and cherish.

Lee at Verbum Ipsum makes a good point in a recent post about secularism: in truth, it's not really neutral; secularism is itself founded on values. I agree. When I use the term "neutral ground" with regard to secularism, I know full well that there are different secularisms, and they aren't neutral in an absolute sense. Saddam Hussein's secularism isn't the same thing as American secularism, for example. So treat the word "neutral" with some caution, but remember that it does make sense within the American context: our secularism is a latticework woven through the American sacred canopy, ensuring both a religio-cultural cohesiveness and religious distinctiveness. Secularism is crucial to the functioning of American culture as a whole. Without it, things fall to pieces. Can you name a single country founded on explicitly religious principles that enjoys an American level of religious diversity and overall tolerance? Too much theocracy is bad for the national health.

Bob Jones? Meet Bob Smith.



The French word "putain" literally means "whore." Une prostituée. It's also one of the strongest utterances in the rich and varied lexicon of jurons (swear words) the French possess. It has about the same impact as saying "fuck!" in English.

A new student of mine works for the French company Carrefour (it's hard to get used to the Korean bastardization of this: gga-reu-p'u-reu). His bosses are French but speak to the Korean workers in English... except when they're pissed off, which is, apparently, often. My student told me with a smile that his bosses were always saying, "Putain! Putain!" during the work day.

When I told my student with a laugh that "putain" is a lot like saying "fuck!" in English, his smile faded immediately and he became gloomy. Apparently, the "putains" were being directed at the Korean workers as much as at the general circumstances. The student hadn't realized just how strong that language was.


the newest mousepad

Nature is red in tooth and anus. I've converted the Ass Lion image into a mousepad I think you'll enjoy.


buy a mousepad, dammit

Visit my CafeShops store and buy yourself a jen-yoo-wine Ass Lion mousepad. Shop around for some other gift items while you're at it. Christmas is coming. Someone you know has a disgusting sense of humor.


Saturday, November 13, 2004

Darth Vomitous

According to my contract, I have to work two Saturdays a month. While I usually start at 7AM on weekdays (entailing a 5:00-5:20AM wakeup time), Saturdays are late days: the foreign teachers start at 10:30AM, and we all do a solid 8-hour block until 6:30PM.

I had an interesting surprise on my way to work this morning. I normally stand at the spot for subway car #9 at Nakseongdae Station (Line 2 subways are ten cars long), because this puts me close to the exit stairwell when I reach my disembarkation point, Kangnam Station. Specifically, I stand at location 9-2 (i.e., car 9, door 2).

The subway arrived; door 9-2 opened, and I was immediately hit by the stench of fresh vomit.

The vomit had been covered with newspaper and appeared to be sleeping, uncannily replicating the drunken behavior of the stupid bastard who'd yacked it onto the floor. I assume the newspaper was there to prevent the vomit pool from spreading. It was impressively sized, that pool, measuring about 1.5 meters along its long axis. The newspapers gave it the appearance of some amoeba-like, homeless alien trying to protect itself from the cruel terran elements.

I remember a Polish joke from long ago. It required visual aids: you needed a bowl of water, some black pepper, and a drop of dishwashing liquid. You lightly sprinkled some black pepper into the bowl of water, covered your index fingertip with the soap, then said, "Here's a swimming pool. Everybody's minding their own business, when suddenly... the Pollacks jump into the pool!"-- at which point you jab your soapy finger into the water. All you chem and physics majors know what happens next: the black pepper zings immediately away from your fingertip to the bowl's interior perimeter, like people scrambling to get out of the pool.

That's what Car #9's passengers were doing. The vomit was our Pollack.

I was running behind, so I couldn't afford to move to another car. I therefore endured ten minutes awash in vomit stench as we trundled to Kangnam Station.

And I did it all for you.


your Saturday dose

From my brother David comes this followup to his previous opus:

sequel baby

i ask




Last comes first here


and warm.
slip in, you're dead

filled trenches

on your head.


"True-filled and warm" is a good description of the chunky goodness I produce in the bathroom.


The Shaker

My buddy Dr. Steve has put his novel, The Shaker, online. You can read it here. I'll be linking to it on my sidebar as well.

Now if only I could get Steve to link to my blog from his homepage...


it runs in the family

My brother David has a rare gift: he can write prose and poetry that will slowly drive you insane.

The following arrived in my email box a few minutes ago. It appears to be a poem in honor of my recent ass-lion post, but it takes on a life of its own. By the way: the first line, which contains the phrase "Take eht," is a sly reference to a running joke among us three brothers: we always laugh at that goofy scene at the beginning of "Terminator 2," in which a naked Arnold Schwarzenegger beats the hell out of a burly biker dude after demanding his clothes and motorcycle keys. The actor playing the biker is cowering on the floor; his trembling hand holds out the motorcycle keys; he moans, "Take it! Ugh!", then throws the keys to Arnold.

That scene never fails to amuse us, especially the theatrical "Ugh!" as the guy chucks the keys over.

Enjoy the poem. Then ask yourself why my brother doesn't have his own blog.

OH NOOoooOo take eht

ass lion dances while

roman guard prances

those that take chances will

last long in my pants-ez

true though it may be

you're chirp free as a bee(-lee?)

and has it been said

that your dung has been fed

so when one romances

it shows up in dung dances

up to faux phances

loaned down through your man-sez.


I have no clue what this poem means, and it's probably better not to ask. But I'm proud to share this work with you all.

If David were a mental patient, he'd be the kind whose insanity is harmless but acutely discomfiting to those around him. Imagine a patient who likes lifting his hospital gown to expose his genitals, all the while shouting, "Yeah, baby! Pork and beans! Pork and beans, baby!"


Friday, November 12, 2004

talcum toes

My feet are large and they stink like hell. This is why I thoroughly bomb my shoes with baby powder twice a day (I'm on split shift, so I have the chance to come home in the early afternoon and re-talc the shoes). I might be laying it on a bit thick, though: for the first ten minutes after powdering the shoes, my feet emit little cocaine-puffs as the talc escapes through seams and around my ankles. Formerly black shoes end up looking almost gray by the time I reach the EC office. I have to grab a tissue and wipe my shoes down to get them back to a semblance of blackness. I've noticed, however, that this is becoming harder to do: the talc residue is beginning to build up on the outside of my shoes. I'll need to start using a brush or something.

But at least my feet aren't asphyxiating my students in class.


Arafat's gone... NEXT!

I'm rooting for Castro to be next in line. But I'm apprehensive: CNN has been covering Arafat nonstop today (we're tuned to CNN all day long at EC). We don't need the same for Castro.


Ave, Kilgore!

Easily one of the most original minds in the blogosphere, Kilgore Trout tops himself with this pulp fiction narrative.


it's finally nipply

Today marks the first truly cold day here in Seoul, by my standards. As a long-time hater of the heat and humidity of Korean summer, I welcome the transition to winter, and fume when I think about the number of warm November days we've had so far.

Here, then, are some haikus in honor of the cold weather:

Old Man Winter comes!
But that's rude! He really should
spoo the other way!

joyful beginnings
ruined as my toilet log
freezes in my ass

kitty lost his teeth
tried to bite my scrotum, but
it was rock solid

I'm in a pickle
tried to suck her nipple hard
--now I'm stuck to it


Dr. Steve on George Lucas

My buddy Dr. Steve sent me an email. In it was the following comment:

I followed your link to the trailer for the next Star Wars. I saw nothing in it that gives me any hope it'll be better than the last couple turds. Lots of spectacle, little to nothing by way of CHARACTERS. It blows, man, watching the legacy of one of my keenest childhood pleasures being raked over the proverbial coals by the same guy who GAVE me those pleasures.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

wonders of the world

Even in these modern times, nature can surprise us.


A word about the picture: it was drawn in about ten minutes while I was sitting on the pot and dropping a hefty load today, after which I scanned that puppy, Photoshopped the colors, and slapped it on the blog.



1. Arn's having a birthday. He celebrates by writing a great little essay about the elite's tendency to, uh, misunderestimate Southerners. Give it a read.

2. P'ansori is Korean epic opera-- intense, minimalist, and sung with a voice that sounds like it's been torn to shreds. P'ansori evokes the tragedy and bitterness of Korean history, and has even moved foreign audiences to tears. Gord Sellar of Eclexys gives us a link to a mutant strain of Korean opera: StarCraft p'ansori, very much played for laughs. It won't make sense to you if you don't understand Korean, but try to imagine a tragic song about a video game battle. If you're having trouble with that, imagine a Western opera singer bellowing about the pain of Brazil waxing.


Wookiee vs. Klingon redux

I found the grudge match. It's been there for a while:

Chewbacca vs. Worf

You can guess who wins.

Scroll down past the results of the match to the comments section, and read the Silver Medal winner's brief comment. I was rolling.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Revenge of the Shit?

Star Wars, Episode III, coming to a Temple of Cinema near you next summer.

Will it be full of Sith or full of shit? We'll soon know.

Over at the Sheep, Captain Kirk posts his thoughts on whether George Lucas will fuck up yet again. He links to Daniel Drezner's reaction to the new "Revenge of the Sith" teaser trailer (they cram a lot of visuals into about forty-five seconds of screen time; almost half the preview is clips from previous Star Wars films-- view it here). Kirk pronounces himself, like Drezner, tempted.

Such is the power of the dark side.

The arc of all six films mirrors George Lucas's own descent into the dark side of the Force: watch in despair as Young George goes from roguish 70s filmmaker, creative and rebellious, to the old, stultifed maximum leader of his own techno-empire, his avarice-clawed hands thrust puppeteer-like up the asses of rabid lawyers who would sue you as soon as look at you.

An old Time Magazine article pegged him back in the 1980s: Lucas "affects the heart rate but not the heart." The heart is Steven Spielberg's department, which is why many of us geeks were ululating in agony when we learned that Lucas would be directing "Revenge of the Sith," just as he'd directed the two previous films in the new trilogy.

I followed Kirk's link and watched the "Sith" preview several times. Of note:

Anakin seems to acquire Darth Maul's eyes. No, not from Darth Maul's corpse-- I simply mean that his eyes become Maul-colored. I could almost imagine him growling, "Senator Organa, please don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

There's a cool shot (for maybe a quarter-second) of a nasty-looking Palpatine swinging a lightsaber. This is a hint of the titanic mid-film battle that's supposed to happen between Darth Sidious (a.k.a. Palpatine) and Yoda. Yoda is destined to lose this battle and eventually will go into hiding on Dagobah, there to bide his time.

We get a glimpse of the raging finale of the Clone Wars over Coruscant, the city planet that is the galaxy's political center, a close cousin of Isaac Asimov's planet Trantor in the Galactic Empire of his Foundation series. The brief space-battle shots I saw didn't exactly wow me; they looked little different from the magnificent invasion-and-repulsion scenes in "Starship Troopers," where we see the Roger Young get demolished. But there's one quick shot of a ship-to-ship exchange that will please fans of naval battles: you can almost imagine two frigates going at each other on the high seas, cannons blazing.

A few tantalizing frames of Yoda and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson, currently voicing Frozone in "The Incredibles," which I'm impatient to see) will whet your appetite. As everyone knows, this is the movie where Mace goes to his reward, in keeping with the time-honored Black Guy Dies Rule of American cinematic science fiction.

There are a couple shots of the Kenobi-Anakin duel that occupies some 10-12 minutes near the end of the film-- supposedly one of the longest (if not the longest) movie fight scenes ever.

We also get to see Wookiees*. Wookiees with clothing. Wookiees carrying weapons. Armed Wookiees can only mean dangerous Wookiees, and Wookiees trump Ewoks and Gungans any day of the week in terms of coolness. I wonder whether Grudge-Match.com has done a "Wookiee versus Klingon" match yet.

There's a quick shot of what appears to be a Star Wars version of a fire truck (it flies, and it pisses like a racehorse). This was jarring to me, for some reason.

Although a new bad guy, General Grievous, is supposed to figure prominently in the film, I don't think I saw any shots of him. Hmmm.

Then, of course... there's The Armored Suit with the hooooo-perrrrr breathing.

I'm surprised Lucas showed this moment in the preview; it's kind of a downer to know, already, what that moment will look like. A fully-suited Anakin, now Darth Vader (voice of James Earl Jones again), is on a recumbent platform that tilts and lifts him to his feet. For whatever reason, Anakin's wrists are shackled to the table at about shoulder height. The effect is bizarre: Darth Vader's genesis is an S&M tribute to the Frankenstein monster.

Go view the trailer. And if you're dying to know what will happen in every single scene of the upcoming movie, visit the greatest Star Wars spoiler site of them all: SuperShadow, and find the scene-by-scene plot summary.

ADDENDUM: A blow-by-blow explanation of what the teaser trailer shows is available from SuperShadow here.

*I'm using the Alan Dean Foster spelling instead of the more widely accepted "Wookie."


on the bright side

Conservative pundits are moving quickly to disown the whole theocrat meme. I'm glad. I think Bill Bennett was out of line to make his claim, which was, after all, unsupported by the evidence. If, however, the conservatives continue to spin this as a purely liberal strategy designed to make the GOP look bad, I'm going to have to remind people of Bill Bennett at inconvenient moments. Don't force me to do that, guys. Own up to your man's mistake, and cut him off from the conservative mainstream. A compulsive gambler should not be the spokesman for your moral platform.

The question of theocracy (see Dr. Vallicella's recent posts on the subject for further clarification) has been around since long before this election. I agree with liberals who feel there's something to fear; those liberals aren't so far apart from conservatives who are also nervous about the influence of the religious right on politics.

My dismissal of the "theocracy" meme is tied specifically to the claim that this election was a referendum on values, as if gay marriage had taken precedence over terrorism in people's minds on November 2. I don't mean for my dismissal to apply more widely to the ongoing values discussion. It's right and good for us to have that discussion; the dynamic tension it creates is healthy.

So when Smallholder posts this disturbing newspaper article about anti-gay sentiment emanating from the religious right, I think he's right to point out exactly the mindset that needs to be combatted. I don't, however, take that article as evidence that the religious right's agenda will inevitably triumph. The current overall cultural trends seem to be away from social conservatism, even among self-described conservatives. Our salvation will be the young and open-minded... though perhaps not today.


the Nomad's sidebar image

The Lost Nomad's an avid fisherman, so I decided to stick with a fishing-related image. It's probably disappointing, after all that buildup, but I do like the fish's Howard Dean-like facial expression.

we eat the stupid

The notion of being a lost nomad called up some bizarre "fish out of water"-themed images in my head as I was mulling logo ideas. Among them: a shot of a camel, with Bedouin rider, tramping through a forest of gigantic female breasts-- the ultimate contrast between Muslim prudery and the fulsome, lactating Goddess. I decided to ditch that image in favor of the fish because the Nomad's blogged his daughter. I don't think I could live with myself if a pic of his daughter ended up cohabiting with a bunch of adult titties.

Anyway, Nomad, here ya' go.


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

they are among us

They hate our way of life.

They want us dead.

There is only one solution.

[Credit must go to the Maximum Leader for the first link, which he gave me years ago.]


The Konglish Turing Test

I mentioned the Turing Test once before on this blog. The basic idea is to test whether a machine can produce linguistic behavior (spoken, written) indistinguishable from a human's. If indistinguishable, the machine has passed the test-- i.e., passed for a human being.

A trip over to the Party Pooper's blog proves that the Party Pooper is able to write in a Konglish style that is, by my lights, indistinguishable from Konglish written by a home-grown Korean. I had a great laugh at this post, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out he's been tomatoed by angry Netizens who will spam his comments threads with cries of "You are motherfucker bitch!"

Go read.

ADDENDUM: Before I, too, get tomatoed for appearing to sneer at my Korean bruvvaz, I should note that my own Korean skills are way too poor for me even to think about attempting to swear creatively in Korean. French is a different matter.


fuck the MIC

Here we go again.

I don't have much desire to see pro-NK information disseminated in the South, but I think a free exchange of ideas is a good thing (not that it's going to happen anytime soon in Korea). Such an exchange would involve pointing out NK's many flaws, and would, I hope, lead to putting NK, that stinking shithole, back in its place.

God damn the censoring bastards at the MIC.

In case you missed the blog censorship that went on not so long ago in response to the beheading of Kim Sun Il, start with my post here and work your way forward in the chronology. And cheer yourself up with a re-reading of The Sacred Principles of FUCK.


Monday, November 08, 2004

Atrocious Jeff: milbloggers in Iraq

Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities posts links to a ton of milbloggers blogging out of Iraq.


the diarrhetic torrent:
yet more fucking politics

The Infidel quotes a great article from The Economist about liberalism, noting that no one seems to represent true liberalism at the moment. The article ends with this line:

"All we need now is the political party."

Slam dunk.

I'm increasingly disenchanted with our (effectively) two-party system. We need a bit more chaos in the ranks, not to mention more palatable options that actually reflect where people stand. If we had more political parties, one of the first casualties, Allah be praised, would be the milquetoast (and largely dishonest) centrism that affects so much of current politics. Politicians from many parties would be able to argue for their agendas with far more conviction and far less pressure to compromise their principles, which would be based on narrower party platforms.

The intensity of political crossfire in such an environment would be, in my opinion, therapeutic (at least until small parties started to form huge coalitions, leading us back to something like a two-party system again).

Today's politicians are called on simultaneously to play to their constitutents and to skew centerward. The constitutents themselves (i.e., we, the people) are ideologically squeezed, especially in the Democratic party, where a single nominee is somehow supposed to represent all the diverse interests under the "big tent." None of this is salubrious for the nation, in my opinion.

So, yeah-- another major political party (or two, or five, or ten) might be nice. Do you, Dear Reader, think it'll happen, or are people too damn loyal to their elephants and donkeys? And another question: if we had more political parties, do you think it'd be harder for a presidential nominee to argue that his views represent the most people and/or the best course for the nation? While I'm in favor of diversity (whether we're talking politics, art, or cheese), I'd also like to explore diversity's limits.

Switching gears...

The Marmot picks up the "values" question as well. In his recent post on the subject, he recoils from the Christian right and from Bill Bennett's virtue-claims. He writes:

Granted, people have been warning of the great Christian coup since Reagan, and while I've been back to the States only once in the last eight years, last time I checked, A Handmaid's Tale it wasn't. For that matter, we survived eight years of Clinton without the nation becoming a people's republic or Roman orgies in the streets. I'm going to assume for now this is nothing more than post-election gloating from some quarters of the GOP (who probably had a lot less influence on the election results than they're given credit for) and scare-mongering from some quarters of the Democratic Party.

I'm glad to see that conservatives are disengaging themselves from Bennett's claim and keeping the focus where it rightly belongs: on the war. None of this is to suggest that values played no role in the election, but I think they were over-hyped by this whole exit poll nonsense.

I'm leery of liberal generalizations that lump conservatives together in the "dumb hick religious bigot" category. I think there are some dumb religious hicks among the conservatives, but they aren't the whole story. I'm just as leery of the conservative attempt to paint liberals as over-idealistic religion-haters. Considering how hard-fought this campaign was by both sides, it should be obvious that the liberals include among their number quite a few well-grounded pragmatists. It should also be obvious that, while the black vote skews almost totally lib/Dem at election time, many blacks are, in fact, religiously conservative. The lib/Dem camp isn't entirely composed of religion-haters. All generalizations should be taken with a grain of salt-- including the one in this very sentence!

Annika gives me the shout-out and writes:

The truth is, though traditional "values" motivated a lot of Bush voters, the argument that "values" won the election ignores young conservatives like me. i recognize that gay marriage prohibition will likely die a natural death within my lifetime, and i'm more focused on the fact that there's a bunch of people out there who want to kill me. That, more than anything else, was why Bush got my vote.

And now: the postal scrotum! (That's "mail bag" for you linguistically uptight fuckers.)

Scott emails:

Hi Kevin,

You're right, I think I over-read your points before regarding "values and ownership". I think we are in heated agreement the claimed ownership is, at best, a red-herring. Or broadcast masturbation used to fill time. A surprise, I know, that the tv news would waste our time. But still....

Here is perhaps the best explanation of the voting turnout for Kerry (and Bush) so far:

The article that Lee references says that the over- and under-educated voted for Kerry (Ph.Ds and high-school dropouts). Everyone else voted for Bush*.

Back to 'values'. The hippies in my town had a tantrum/protest on Nov 4th. "To do what?", you might ask. The answer is, "Throw a temper tantrum in public."

The Most Telling Quote came from an interviewed hippy**. When asked to explain why the hippies were stopping downtown traffic during the evening commute, Mr. Tantrum explained why he was being an ass. "Because I have a right to be heard." That's right - not just a right to speak, but to make sure he's heard.

The right to swing your fist stops right at my nose. But with hippies like this, THEIR right to act out any impulse has no such limitations. And the hippies wonder why folks cheer when they get "beaten" by cops who are clearly holding back.


* - Paraphrased, of course, but we all get the point.
** - I don't have the link handy at the moment, but the tv footage was

All for now. Stay tuned.