Wednesday, August 31, 2005

hooray! new blogs!

Some new blogs join the Hominidal pantheon on the sidebar:

1. Liminality (finally): excellent, extremely well-written Koreablog. With Charles now on the roll, I'm wondering whether I shouldn't make another Koreablogger subdivision: Expats Who Speak Korean Far Better Than I. That list would include Robert the Marmot, Brian the Vulture, Joel in K/Gunsan, Jeff in Pusan, Charlie the KimcheeGI, Scott the Party Pooper, Captain Kirk, Peter the Oranckay, Charles the Liminal, Kathreb (I think, but she never shows off!), and possibly Gord and Rory, both of whom seem to get around quite well in Korean.

Wooj is, of course, a perfect Korean speaker, and he's technically an expat because he currently makes his home in America while being a Korean national, so I suppose I could slap him on the list as well, as a sort of Affirmative Action gesture, but he might not be happy with his "Token Asian Among Da White Folks" status. Wooj? What say you?

2. The Sanchon Hunjang: is this person Korean? American? Komerican? Male? Female? I haven't read thoroughly enough, but I know the blog is very interesting, insightful, and humorous. Kind of an "impulse buy," as I found the blog while following a link from Joel's site only today, but my instinct tells me it's a good investment.

And last but never least, I'm happy to welcome:

3. Just Another Human: the blog of a Kiwi wonjang-nim who's been my friend since the mid-1990s. John W. talks about politics, family life, and what it takes to run a hagwon in the land of flightless sheepfuckers. He promises to get me back for that hazing I gave him. Be afraid.

Images for the above blogs are pending. I have to find something especially cruel for John.

UPDATE: Joel writes in with a good point:

Charlie is Asian, right? Wouldn't Wooj just be the token non-American?

Damn, you got me on that one. Charlie the KimcheeGI is indeed ethnically Korean, though somehow he gives me the "white" vibe! In that case, since it's less a question of race and more a question of nationality, I doubt Wooj would care one way or another whether he's the token non-American. If anything, it might be a badge of honor for him! I can hear him now, speaking in a faux-French accent like the one John Cleese adopts in "Monty Python's The Holy Grail":

"Ha ha! I speet on you peeee-yoony A-merry-cans with your pisse de chat beer and your love of bad pornography! Korea ist eins! EINS!!"

By the way, Kathreb has a very good letter of appeal to the Australian government up on her blog re: human rights in North Korea. Give it a read.


the Ten Ox-herding Pictures

Joel posts what I originally thought was a Koreanized variant of the famous Ten Ox-herding Pictures, a sequence of drawings symbolizing finding the Way and transcending the self. Joel's pictures come from his trip to Beomeo-sa, a Korean temple. A commenter asked whether Joel had deliberately posted the pictures backward from their original sequence, and I added a comment wondering about why the ox was changing color.

This got me curious, and a quick bit of research revealed that the ten images comprising the Ten Ox-herding Pictures aren't the same for everybody: some sequences depicting the classic story do indeed show a color-changing ox while other versions don't.

Here's a link to the Ten Ox-herding Pictures in which color change doesn't figure. (You have to click the links to go from pic to pic. The intro is here.)

Here's a link to the 10-OHP in which color plays a definite role-- note also that the images are different, which significantly changes the story (or does it?).

Conclusion: Joel's photos depict the ox-herding parable as it's told in some versions. The story as it appears on Beomeo-sa's walls isn't distinctively Korean.


this Friday...

September 2 marks my second date with the dentist, this time for the "minor surgery" mentioned before. Sperwer informs me that the procedure won't be a big deal. I should try and take my camera along this time; might be cool to blog.

They're going to be peeling back my gum and digging out my wisdom tooth's roots. If it's like last time, I can expect there to be no pain, but we might get another whiff of that awesome burning smell coming out of my mouth. YEAH, BABY!

Foodnote: Instead of doing the shrimp thing, I simply reheated yesterday's leftover Chinese food. Did a couple household errands... am now contemplating going to the office to continue lesson planning.


ha ha! I'm an old fart!

Last day of August! As seems to happen every August 31, it's my birfday.

36 today. Three times around the Asian zodiac, dear friends! Haven't told my coworkers it's my birfday, and my Korean buddy JW never remembers the date (that's OK; I keep forgetting the date for his birthday), so today promises to be quiet.

I wish I had something cool to say about aging, something like, "I move slower than I used to," but as I always move slowly, lumber/waddling through life, that statement doesn't carry much weight.

I'm actually in the mood for some more of that awesome shrimp mix I made for the student bazaar, so perhaps I'll gallumph over to Lotte Mart near Seoul Station and pick me up some shrimp. Might want to pick up some fettucine while I'm at it, though I'm not sure Lotte Mart sells it. A trip to the overpriced Hannam Market is in order. Also have to get some butter. Hmmmm. Looks like I'll be making a day of it, just to find the proper ingredients for a Western meal. FYI-- frozen shrimp at Lotte Mart is significantly cheaper than it is at Hannam. But Hannam stocks real cheese. Yes, perhaps today will see some foodblogging.

Now, because I have no idea how to continue this post, I hereby present you two pics from my post-performance celebration, sent to me by a student just today:

All hail Mr. Pizza, the founder of our feast! (I had to insist on an onion-free pizza for my section of the table, which caused some bewilderment in this onion-loving culture. I'm OK with onions in Korean food, but can't stand them in pizza, spaghetti, and hamburgers unless they've had the hell cooked out of them and/or have been finely minced.)

My drama students-- the ones who showed up consistently for class-- worked hard. Even though the play was riddled with mistakes, the basic ingredient, fun, shone through during the actual performance. Everyone had fun: our meager Korean audience, our line-flubbing actors... even the expat English teachers cracked smiles when they caught some of the poorly pronounced jokes.

Special mention goes to Sujin, the student on the far right in both photos. The girl started off very quiet and shy, but got into acting as time went on. By the time we were ready to perform, she was doing slinky Yi Hyori impressions with gusto. Sujin gamely stepped up to take over parts dropped by students who abandoned the class. What's more, she's just an adorable person, one of my favorite theater geeks (well, she's more sprite than geek). I wish her the best with her studies.

In sadder news, our department head's mother passed away a few days ago. I found out too late to join the band of Korean teachers who went out to the hospital, sat with her, and then took her to a meal. This led to some interesting cultural static: I was in the teacher's office when the teachers came back from the meal. I told them I was hoping to give the boss a card and/or some flowers, and one of them furrowed her brow and asked, "Is that the American style?", to which I said, "Yeah, sort of." She said, "In Korea we have to do everything (daaaa heya d[w]aeyo, "eeeeeverything do have-to")." This gave me pause. Was I not doing enough? Would a mere card be considered insulting? Too late-- I'd already given it to the receptionist to give to the boss.

My mother wasn't very reassuring about the situation. "You should at least stick a couple hundred dollars in with the card!" she declared just this morning. Ha! As if I had a couple hundred dollars to spare!

I was shocked about this disturbingly Mammon-ic aspect of funerary custom and asked Mom, "Koreans give each other money when someone dies?" Mom was like, "Oh, yeah! Of course! Helps take care of funeral costs! Remember when Mr. Park died? His family got $5000!" Sorry, Mom, but I ain't got that kinda change.

Not quite sure how we segued from birfdays to DEATH, but I'm sure there's a higher meaning hiding somewhere in the above paragraphs-- a whole Da Vinci's Code of clues leading to some cosmic truth yet unrevealed.

But no time to speculate on that: gotta take a shit.

More later.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

time for a break, dammit

Had to attend a testing workshop for a few hours today. Have done a bit more lesson planning at the Smoo office, but I think I'm going to call it a day and get some damn rest. Perhaps a Namsan hike this evening.


how to calculate overtime pay 2: something weird

This is all very strange. I've been crunching numbers for a good part of the evening, and something's not right.


(SUBJECT, scheduled time, elapsed time x #times/week = hrs per week)

TOPICS, 7:40-8:50 = 1:10 x 4 = 4:40
CORE 2, 10:50-12:00 = 1:10 x 4 = 4:40
INTENSIVE 2, 1:10-2:35 = 1:25 x 4 = 5:40
INTENSIVE 5, 2:45-4:10 = 1:25 x 4 = 5:40
DRAMA, 4:20-5:50 = 1:30 x 1 = 1:30

ONE-WEEK TOTAL = 22:10 (22hrs, 10mn)


According to my contract, overtime is calculated as W20,000 per hour over 18 hrs/week worked. This is where the office got its 72 hrs/month figure.

For July, I worked:
Week 1 = 22:10 (i.e., 4:10 hrs overtime)
Week 2 = 22:10 (i.e., 4:10 hrs overtime)
Week 3 = 22:10 (i.e., 4:10 hrs overtime)
Week 4 = 22:10 (i.e., 4:10 hrs overtime)

Total July hours = 88:40 - 72 = 16:40
JULY OVERTIME PAY = 16:40 x 20,000 = W333,333
TOTAL NET PAY FOR JULY = 2,200,000 + 333,333 = W2,533,333

By this reckoning, I received too much overtime pay.

And now-- August:

Week 5 = 11:50 (missed 2 days for break; 0 overtime hours)
Week 6 = 22:10 (i.e., 4:10 hrs overtime)
Week 7 = 18:00 (1 day missed for break, 1 class made up; 0 hrs overtime)
Week 8 = 22:10 (i.e., 4:10 hrs overtime)

Total August hours = 74:10
AUGUST OVERTIME (a) = 74:10 - 72 = 2:10 (if calculated by month)
AUGUST OVERTIME (b) = 8:20 (if calculated week by week)

Notice a discrepancy? Makes a big difference whether you calculate by week or by month.

August overtime is EITHER
(a) 2.16667 x 20,000 = W43,333... or
(b) 8.33333 x 20,000 = W166,667

Note these proportions:

74.17 / 88.67 = 83.6%
(i.e., My Aug. hrs were 83.6% of my July hrs)

166,667 / 333,333 = 50%
(i.e., My Aug. overtime pay is 50% of my July overtime pay)

2,366,667 / 2,533,333 = 93.4%
(i.e., My pay for Aug is 93.4% of my pay for July)

I guess it all depends on how you play with the numbers. One could draw the conclusion that the office miscalculated in my favor, which is fine. But something still feels funny.

13.5 out 16 days in August is 84%... August overtime should, ideally, also be 84%, should it not? The only thing I can conclude is that, by substracting a fixed number of hours each month instead of working the matter proportionately, the overtime calculation gets skewed. By that warped formula, the office did give me too much, but it's still a formula that shortchanges me. Note, though, that the only way to arrive at a number close to the W220,000 figure given in my previous post is to calculate week by week, not substract 72 hours from the total number of hours worked in a month.

Any accountants out there have any input? Am I engaging in fuzzy math?

(By the way, the above calculations are all gross, not net.)


Monday, August 29, 2005

life lesson: how to calculate overtime pay

You'd think overtime pay would be easy to calculate, but no. I received about W386,000 overtime for the month of July-- this was for 16 days' teaching (four 4-day weeks). I divided by 16 and saw I was getting about W24,125 per day (about $24, US). For the month of August, I taught 13 days on exactly the same schedule. You'd think my overtime pay would be:

24,125 x 13 = W313,625 for the month.

What do you think? Think I'll be getting that amount?

Ho ho! You guessed it, boys and girls! The answer is NO! Instead, it'll be W220,000-- i.e., about W90,000 ($90) less than what I was expecting! Woo-hoo!

"How is this possible?" I hear you gasp. Easy! Calculate overtime by substracting 72 hours from the total number of hours worked, no matter how many hours you've actually worked!

Think of it this way: I'm your boss, and I put you on a weekly ration of pizza-- a week's worth of pizza given to you every Monday. You decide how to divvy the ration up daily. Sometimes your pizza ration is large; sometimes it's small. Them's the breaks.

Here's the thing: Let's say I also demand a tribute of X grams of pizza, no matter how big or small your ration is. The end result? Some weeks you're left with a bunch of pizza; some weeks you get diddly. Instead of demanding a percentage, I'm taking the same raw amount from you every time.

Maybe you're rolling in money and you don't give a fuck, but for those of us who have to watch every won, this sort of tricky bullshit is upsetting, to say the least.

Let's put it another way: I worked 16 days in July and got W386,000 overtime. I worked 13 days (on the same schedule) in August and will get W220,000. There's a 19% reduction in days worked, from 16 to 13. But note that there's a 43% reduction in overtime pay, from W386,000 to W220,000.

The process was explained to me step by step. Twice. Once I finally understood how I was being shafted, there was little to do but nod. Thank you, Smoo!

Funny-- the lady turned to me after her second run-through of the process and said, "You know... you should think about getting private work."

I enjoy what I do at Smoo, but things like this put a huge damper on the enjoyment. All of us teachers are already being paid less than we're worth. To be screwed over even more is just a reminder of what the university really thinks of our efforts. One of our colleagues has decided to move into a cramped little hasuk-jip to save money. I won't be doing the same since I simply have too much crap, but I can understand where she's coming from.


it's not just Korean Christians

This from Drudge:


SMYRNA, Tenn. (AP) - Members of a church say God is punishing American soldiers for defending a country that harbors gays, and they brought their anti-gay message to the funerals Saturday of two Tennessee soldiers killed in Iraq.

The church members were met with scorn from local residents. They chased the church members cars' down a highway, waving flags and screaming "God bless America."

"My husband is over there, so I'm here to show my support," 41-year-old Connie Ditmore said as she waved and American flag and as tears came to her eyes. "To do this at a funeral is disrespectful of a family, no matter what your beliefs are."

The Rev. Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist in Kansas, contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays. The church, which is not affiliated with a larger denomination, is made up mostly of Phelps' children, grandchildren and in-laws.

The church members carried signs and shouted things such as "God hates fags" and "God hates you."

Phelps better not come anywhere near me, or heaven help him.

(NB: This blog has dealt with Phelps before.)


this is a testis of the Emergency Broadcasting System

I tried making changes to my template, but they aren't registering-- this despite a "your blog published successfully" message. I also replied to a comment in a comment thread, but the comment wasn't emailed to me (Blogger automatically emails copies of all comments to the blog's owner, including those made by the owner). Strangely, the comment did show up on the blog.

Something up with Blogger?

Am now publishing this post as a test.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

how to leave comments on my blog

My blog is using a converted version of a very old Blogger template-- one of the first templates Blogger ever made. It's simple and it suits me fine, so I've kept it. The only problem is that the posts don't show an obvious comments link for the would-be commenter to click.

So lemme 'splain how to leave a comment on this antiquated blog.

1. Find the post to which you want to append a comment.
2. Actually read the post.
3. Go down to the post's time stamp link. Click it.
4. Scroll down until you see the "Post a Comment" link. Click it.
5. Excrete your comment. The process is pretty straightforward.

Questions? Either leave a comment to this post or email my fat ass. Email contact info is on the sidebar.


eating and suffering

Max Becker-Pos wrote me a while back with the following:

You wrote that bit about Buddhism and Jainism and the sanctity of life. That got my juices flowing (no, not those juices, you sicko!), because I often ruminate about the same topic. I have a couple points to make:

1. Since you are the comparative expert when it comes to religion, please enlighten me on something. My understanding of Buddhism is that monks are vegetarian simply because they don't want to destroy the life of a reincarnated human in animal form. Am I wrong? Or do Buddhists (and what about Jains?) not eat meat simply because they have a deep reverence for life? Also, how do the Jains function when it comes to bacteria, and fungi, etc? And what if they accidentally roll over in their sleep and smush a cockroach?

2. I agree totally about the quandary of living in this world. If you exist, you have to kill, whether it be shitting E. coli bacteria out your ass into a toilet that you then sterlize with bleach, or eating a hamburger, or a slice o' that triple decker Pizza Hut pizza, or even a plant-based diet.

One thing that bothers me about the organization named PETA is that their criterion regarding what foods to eat seems to center on whether the thing being eaten can feel pain or not. PETA says we shouldn't eat animals because they suffer. But like you said, even an ant avoids the death rays of the magnifying glass of a little Grade 3 twerp named Kevin.

Just because sheep bleat and cows low when in pain, that doesn't mean that wheat, corn, and alfafa willingly offer themselves up for sacrifice. I eat meat, and I am grateful to the animal for its flesh.

I have two important thoughts on meat-eating. One, the animal should be taken good care of, up until the moment of slaughter. Two, we shouldn't waste meat ("Finish yo' hamburger, bitch/bastard!"). The thing that bothers me about PETA is they have this unscientific/subjective/whatever-you-wanna-call-it approach by which they simply ignore that which they cannot explain or perceive. It suits the smug members of PETA just fine to say that it's OK to eat plants. But just because we don't have the scientific instruments to see how plants "feel" doesn't mean we can write them off as insensate. (I don't want this to turn into a rant against PETA, as they have done some good things, such as lobby KFC to improve conditions for chickens.)

Your thoughts?


I'm going to invite Sperwer to tackle the first question in my comments section, as he knows more than I do about the history of the vegetarian ethic in Buddhism. Sperwer will probably point out (as he has for me in private) that a lot of the meat-related dietary rules followed by certain Buddhists are post hoc accretions to the Buddhist tradition and not necessarily attributable to the Buddha and his basic teaching. (Sperwer, please elaborate!)

I'll note that vegetarian monks don't view their vegetarianism as a way of not harming reincarnated humans. Most Buddhist vegetarians-- monastic and lay-- will say they act according to the dictates of ahimsa (nonviolence, no-killing), which reverences all life, but especially the life of sentient beings.

A technical note as well: anglophone Buddhists would prefer to use the term "rebirth" and not "reincarnation" to describe the cycle of personal existence. Reincarnation has a heavily Hindu semantic field, and a major part of that semantic field is the notion that there is a permanent, unchanging, fundamental self called an atman. In the Hindu way of thinking, this atman passes from body to body.

Buddhists deny that there is an atman. They espouse the doctrine of anatman (no-self, known as mu-a in Sino-Korean), and therefore view the continuity of personal traits from life to life not as the transmigration of a solid self from body to body, but as the momentum-fueled (i.e., karma-fueled) procession of aggregates that have a certain coherence and continuity, but possess no fundamental soldity, no true selfhood.

Think about it this way: you see a stream running past you. You can point to it and say, "Dude, that's a stream." You can walk away from it and come back to it a day later, point to it and say, "Dude, there's that stream again." But if you were to break the stream down into components and sub-components, you'd have a hard time isolating the stream-ness of the stream. You're not looking at the same water, nor is the composition of the streambed the same, nor are the banks quite the same, nor is the surrounding forest the same as it was yesterday. Every aspect of the stream and its context is in flux. You can come back to "that" stream because the stream-process has continuity. But is the stream permanent? Was it there a million years ago? Will it be there a million years from now? Not at all. The stream isn't a reified thing so much as it's a process. There's no solid "streamness" to the stream that transmigrates into other discrete phenomena, no invisible Something that leaps from the dying stream into, say, a boulder, to start a new existence.

Back to eating. Korean Buddhist monks also generally follow a dietary rule that stems more from Taoism than from Buddhism: avoidance of vegetables like garlic and onions, which supposedly make you randier and therefore less able to concentrate on practicing the dharma. Dr. Robert Buswell, in his book The Zen Monastic Experience, writes (p. 122):

[Korean monastery] side dishes are seasoned with a minimal number of spices, the most basic of which is salt. Because of Mahayana dietary restrictions, monks don't eat the garlic or onions that are so ubiquitous in the diets of ordinary Koreans. Those spices are presumed to be mild aphrodisiacs, something celibates can do without. To compensate for the blandness of the food, the kitchen staff replaces the garlic and onions with lots of red pepper (koch'u), along with red-pepper paste (koch'ujang), brown sesame (tûlkkae), and white sesame (kkae).

You asked about how Jains function in daily life. I don't know much about Jainism (a decent article on it can be found here), but my impression is that Jains, who practice an arguably stricter ethic of ahimsa than Buddhists, have a deep reverence for all life and even the energies of inanimate objects, all of which are "elementals" that can be harmed. As the Wikipedia article on Jainism says:

Jains believe that reality is made up of two eternal principles, jiva and ajiva. Jiva consists of an infinite number of identical spiritual units; ajiva (that is, non-jiva) is matter in all its forms and the conditions under which matter exists: time, space, and movement.

Both jiva and ajiva are eternal; they never came into existence for the first time and will never cease to exist. The whole world is made up of jivas trapped in ajiva; there are jivas in rocks, plants, insects, animals, human beings, spirits, et cetera.

Any contact whatsoever of the jiva with the ajiva causes the former to suffer. Thus the Jains believed that existence in this world inevitably means suffering. Neither social reform nor the reform of individuals themselves can ever stop suffering. In every human being, a jiva is trapped, and the jiva suffers because of its contact with ajiva. The only way to escape from suffering is for the jiva to completely escape from the human condition, from human existence.

A jiva is a bit like a spiritual monad, an elemental. Everything that can be counted as a "being" in some sense or other has a jiva. Note, too, the somewhat Gnostic matter/spirit dualism of the Jainist paradigm, including the idea that interaction between matter and spirit is somehow harmful or corruptive.


The way to moksha (release or liberation) is withdrawal from the world. Karma is the cause-and-effect mechanism by virtue of which all actions have inescapable consequences. Karma operates to keep the jiva chained in an unending series of lifetimes in which the jiva suffers to a greater or lesser extent. Thus the way of escape must involve an escape from karma, the destruction of all karma and the avoidance of new karma.

In other words, your actions must be geared toward doing as little damage as possible to the world. And there's more:

The Jain is expected to follow the principle of non-violence in all his/her thoughts, words and deeds. There are some Jains who wear masks over their mouths and noses to avoid any possibility of breathing in tiny insects.

It would seem the Jain must be in a state of constant mindfulness, but also in a state of constant apology, as every action generates some amount of disturbance and suffering.

As for your point (2), Max, I agree with you that there seems to be something amiss about the vegetarian ethic. Do plants suffer? I think it's possible, but I'll eat them, anyway. No matter what you do, you've got to eat, which means you have to kill, either indirectly through participation in society's infrastructure, or directly through an activity like hunting. The human tendency to anthropomorphize makes us feel that animals are somehow "closer" to us than plants. The cute dog or rabbit is more like a little person than a meal-- especially if it's a pet and you've given it a name! Plants have weird shapes and no recognizable facial features, and they don't usually scream when you dump them in boiling water, therefore they must be OK to eat.

You're also right to advocate good treatment for animals destined for the slaughter. Maybe it's a bit ironic to treat an animal well before we kill it, but on the assumption that animal nervous systems are better-developed than whatever perceptual apparatus (if any) can be found in plants, I'd agree that minimizing animal suffering is the moral thing to do. I wonder how we'll treat plants if/when we discover that they do suffer at our hands!


in appreciation

Tangible gifts gratefully received from my intensive-course students and others:

1. a heavy gift bag full of goguma, or Korean sweet potatoes

2. a gift box containing the following: an obviously expensive, button-down, short-sleeve shirt; three tee shirts; a designer key chain; and a cute little cell phone ornament*

3. a large yellow poster on which everyone gave me a good-bye message

4. an impressive bouquet of roses and lilies (currently sitting in a 1.5-liter plastic bottle of water), given to me at the end of the Shakespeare performance

Gonna miss those students. Most of them, anyway.

*Grammar note: When writing out a series, one usually separates the elements of the series with a comma. Semicolons are permissible if one or more elements of the series contain commas for other reason (e.g., as separators for multiple adjectives).

Example: Under the Christmas tree he found a large, hairy, toy dog; a stuffed cat; an old, green sweater; and the Xbox for which he'd been pining.

One reference to confirm the above: here.



The Koram is outta there, just as Daehee promised. Now I gotta remove the link from my sidebar. Too bad; I really liked that blog.


Jesus will kick... your... ass

UPDATE: Cool exchange going on in the comments section. Check out Lorianne's and Sperwer's remarks by hitting this post's time stamp. Feel free to add your own comments.

[NB: Bloggers have been on this case for a couple days. Check out the Marmot here and Asia Pages here.]

It's Sunday, and I haven't done a religion-related post in a while, so I thought I'd comment on this nonsense.

The lowdown: a year ago, a young Korean woman in Australia was taken to a park and beaten by three Korean men, all of whom were members of a Korean Presbyterian church. One of the three men was an assistant pastor. The woman's crime basically boiled down to impiety: she didn't attend church frequently enough and she was "disrespecting her elders." The three men recently stood trial in an Australian court, pleaded guilty to charges of assault, and were sentenced to several months in prison.

Like many Americans who grew up in mainstream Protestant culture, I cannot relate to Korean Christianity. Korean Protestantism, which has a historical association with nationalism, literacy, and money, remains true to its Western missionary roots. Far from becoming moderate over time, the way Christianity did in Europe* (not even in Germany will you find frequent tent revivals in the countryside), Korean Christianity has largely kept-- maybe even sharpened-- its fundamentalist edge. Korean Presbyterianism, the strain of Korean Christianity with which I'm most familiar, bears little resemblance to PCUSA. The Korean church has much more in common, temperamentally, theologically, and sociologically, with American evangelicalism and stronger strains of Yankee fundamentalism than with moderate Western Christianity.

Korean Christians are, generally speaking, theologically exclusivistic and mission-oriented. Whereas mainstream American Protestantism and European Catholicism don't push the missionary aspect of Christianity nearly as hard as they used to (unless you live in the American Bible Belt, I suppose), Korean Christianity is crazy enough to send missionaries into war-torn Iraq to convert folks to the True Path.

Christianity, taken as a whole, is a money machine**, but Korean Christianity gets first prize when it comes to shameless financial displays. Korean Protestant church bulletins-- pamphlets handed out at the beginning of every Sunday worship service-- often contain a page or two devoted to noting the names of members who have contributed a large amount to the church's coffers. This is obscene, in my opinion. Money is a necessary element for the survival of any institution, but the Christian ethic also strives against money-obsession. The Church should, in my opinion, be on constant guard against the tendency to give the temple back to the money-changers. So far, it hasn't done a very good job of that, and the failure is especially acute in a place like South Korea.

This brings us to Jesus' temple-cleansing and the notion of a violent, ass-kicking Jesus.

While the scriptures provide evidence for a wide variety of christologies, the gospels don't provide enough evidence to support the notion that Jesus was a violent individual. The one time he is portrayed as truly flying off the handle is the temple-cleansing incident (Mt. 21:12, Mk. 11:15, Jn 2:15, etc.). Given the paucity of scriptural evidence in favor of such an image, is it tenable to live a life of imitatio Christi based on the violent-Jesus paradigm?

Images of a stern, physically combative Jesus may come primarily from the book of Revelation, and may be hinted at in the gospels (cf. Mt 10:34). But this belligerent Jesus is, to my mind, little more than a cartoon. Unfortunately, many Christians take the notion of an apocalyptic Christ seriously.

Imagine a pissed-off Superjesus descending from heaven wearing a jetpack, armed with a futuristic assault rifle and accompanied by throngs of similarly armed angels. The holy army makes planetfall and immediately*** starts mowing down the sinners. Explosions everywhere; Jesus radios various angelic commanders: "Target the Muslims first! Then go for those Buddhists! There's a Zoroastrian family huddled in a cave in Iran-- find 'em and frag their asses!"

The scriptures don't portray the earthly, pre-crucifixion Jesus as violent. Fortunately or unfortunately, religious traditions surpass their founders and accrete layers of doctrine, theology, cosmology, etc. Christianity isn't immune to this tendency, and it's easy to see how Jesus' message about the Kingdom of God, a message informed by the twin themes of peace and love, could get twisted or buried by his followers centuries after his death.

As a tradition evolves into an institution, it begins to bear the marks of all institutions-- in-group/out-group mentality, for instance, or the desire to suck in money and membership to maintain institutional viability. As I've written before (and the thought didn't originate with me), organizations act like living organisms. They have a survival impulse and need to feed. They also reproduce and compete with other, often similar, organisms in a Darwinian environment.

Along with interreligious competition there's intrareligious competition: churches of different denominations vying for prominence in the same city, missions from different Christian strains establishing beachheads on the same foreign shores. Some critics have attached the word "viral" to this sort of activity, but let's not get cynical about religion: memes are memes, and they're all viral, whether we're talking about an English-speaking meme or a jeans-wearing meme or an Allah-praising meme.

If we put the Korean incident into this meta-framework, we can see that such behavior-- beating someone up in the name of piety-- isn't surprising. On a visceral moral level, I find it repugnant, inexcusable, and shameful, but there's no doubt the behavior has its source in a form of "institutionalized" thinking: Bring the wayward sheep back into the fold! Preserve the in-group!

A constellation of factors were at play in the Korean incident, but not all of them can be traced to institutional Korean Protestantism, per se. Some factors were cultural. Koreans don't generally place the same value on individualism that Westerners do; their thinking tends to be more group-first than me-first. This is neither good nor bad; me-first thinking has its pitfalls, too. My point, though, is that physical coercion in the name of an institution makes more sense to the group-first mind than to an individualistic one.

Korean Confucianism also favors maleness, which might have made it easier for the three men involved to contemplate ganging up on a teenaged girl and beating her for two hours. This isn't to say that all Korean men view women as objects or chattel, but there's no doubt that Confucianism offers fewer benefits and privileges to women than it does to men. Some men, like the three in question, will take advantage of that fact.

Before I end this essay, I need to make clear that Korean Christianity is far from monolithic. My generalizations about Korean Christianity are just that-- true on the whole, but acquiring texture and subtlety as we zoom in from gross to fine. There are exceptions to the picture I've painted. For example: one church I know, Keumho Presbyterian Church, has been very friendly to me whenever I appear there. Although the congregants usually ask me some form of the "Where have you been?" question, they don't move from that to the finger-wagging "You should come here more often!" Keumho Church is where my #3 Adjoshi and Adjumma go. While the church has its share of theatrically weepy preachers, it also has a lot of good, decent folks. In other words, not all Korean churches have that creepy, cultish aura. (Many, however, do.)

I should also note that, while Confucianism is increasingly burdensome for modern Korean women, it isn't inherently evil. I wasn't implying above that Confucianism causes male violence against women, so please don't misinterpret me. By the same token, I wasn't implying that groupthink inevitably leads to violence.

The three men who stood trial may have thought they were simply acting the way a Korean Christian is supposed to act. It's my understanding that some Koreans-- specifically, those who followed the trial-- feel Australian law is cold, heartless, and makes no attempt to understand and respect Korean culture. Such a protest is galling on several levels, not least of which is the absurdity of demanding the right not to do as the Romans do when on Roman turf. Western societies are famously pluralistic, but they do share some basic notions about individual rights and freedoms. I side with the Western view in this case: beating up a young lady is not an expression of Christian charity. It's a violation of the lady's right to worship or not worship as she chooses. Western law is right to view the attackers' behavior as impermissible.

And from a Christian standpoint, the three men ignored the woman's free will-- a crucial factor in making an informed moral choice. Forcing someone (back) into a religious community isn't virtuous; it's reprehensible. Practically speaking, force achieves nothing. I doubt this lady ended up feeling greater loyalty to the church after her beating.****

To be sure, the Australian incident isn't representative of how all Korean Christians act. Some perspective is called for: a few Christian guys went to extremes, made the news, and gave their faith a bad name. In doing so, they gave us reason to consider the darker aspects of Korean Christianity, and to ponder what, exactly, is so Korean and Christian about beating up a putatively impious lady.

*You might argue that Europe had centuries for this to happen, which is a good point. But Christianity didn't come to Korea in the 1900s, either; it arrived significantly earlier, in fact, and has had time to let East Asian syncretism do its work. While Korean Christianity has indeed undergone certain syncretic changes, its general form is recognizable to American Christians, who wouldn't be far wrong to apply labels like "evangelical," "charismatic," or "Pentecostal" to large swaths of the Korean Christian landscape.

There's an interreligious factor to consider as well: Christianity came to dominate Europe, whereas Korean Christianity has had to contend with Buddhism, a well-established religion. Buddhism is losing ground but is still quite robust, and its competition with Christianity has forced both traditions to define themselves more clearly. This need for self-definition doubtless contributes to Korean Christianity's continued refusal to become more moderate.

**Fact: big religion is big business. Korean Buddhism is a money machine, too, and Tibetan Buddhism is lucky to have caught America's interest and to have a media-savvy guy like the Dalai Lama as its spokesman. As long as Tibetan Buddhism has stars like Richard Gere to bring the dollars in, it probably doesn't matter much whether Tibetan Buddhism's Sancte Sede (relax, I'm being facetious) is in Tibet or in Dharamsala, India. Sorry if I sound cynical, but I think the Dalai Lama has become a victim of his own fame-- and, further, he's aware of this and tacitly encourages the influx of money. Not a charge I can substantiate without research, but a feeling I have. What's undeniable is that Tibetan Buddhism is big money, and other Buddhisms are as well. This goes for other major world religions, too.

***"Immediately" is an adverb that takes a frequent appearance in the gospel of Mark, known to many Bib Lit teachers as the "hasty gospel." Unfortunately, no gospel has been nicknamed the "tasty gospel," which is really too bad.

****Interesting to note that the lady's parents argued on behalf of the girl's attackers and even paid their legal fees, according to the Marmot.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

the man who terrorized a galaxy

You know him as the horribly disfigured warrior who turned to the dark side of the Force and served as the right hand of Emperor Palpatine, evil leader of the Galactic Empire. Feared for his fighting skills and towering temper, he is the second-biggest menace to all that is good and true:

...but do you think you know the real John Williamson?

Now you can know everything, because he finally started his own blog: here.

In all seriousness: John is a good friend of mine who hails from New Zealand. Along with being an excellent (and well-certified) English teacher, John is a history buff (I think he was a double-major, in fact; if I recall correctly, he graduated from the University of Otago, NZ's ass-kickingest university). I met him in Seoul in the mid-1990s; we worked two hagwons together before I quit early and he found love in the arms of a fantastic Korean lady. They've got two kids now (are they working on a third, Precious??).

John, who's also got a great head for business, has been back in NZ for the last several years, where he heads up his own English-language hagwon (the link has been on my sidebar for ages).

Like many Kiwis, John probably doesn't have much love for American foreign policy, but also like most of the cyber-acquaintances I have, no matter their political stripe, John is eminently reasonable and not a frother.

Back in the 1990s, John introduced me to the Kiwi film "Once Were Warriors" (fantastic flick, but definitely not for kids), a brutal commentary on the life of modern Maori families. The film stars Temuera Morrison, whom everybody today knows as Jango Fett (and the entire Clone Army). Thanks to John, I knew of Temuera before Temuera was a global name.

I hope John will forgive me, but I have to relate one embarrassing story about him. Back in 1996, when we were both working at a hagwon in the Kangnam area, John ate a bad hamburger at Lotteria (some would say that the phrase "bad hamburger at Lotteria" is redundant). The next day, I walked into the hagwon... and into a wall of vomit odor. I didn't put two and two together at first: when we were eating our burgers, we had no idea that John's had been cursed.

I asked the receptionists who had puked. They made sad faces and intoned, "John." Despite the vomit smell, I had a good laugh. John filled in the details later: he'd been nauseous and had tried to make a run for the restroom, but didn't quite make it. Hence the redecorated hallway.

I'd love to re-create that scene in slow motion-- the look of horror, the full-frontal shot of John sprinting down a corridor, and super-slomo as the vomit began to erupt out of his face, all accompanied by Adagio for Strings, the piece made famous in the movie "Platoon." John's a stoic guy: there would have been no scream of horror, no groans, no retching sounds. The mere fact of the vomit would have been dismaying enough for him and for those who had the misfortune to witness the Korean pizza's liquidy birth.

Wait, here's another embarrassing factoid about the John of the 1990s: he was a swinging single back then, and had the imperialist Western habit* of making jokes in English to uncomprehending Koreans (full disclosure: I've engaged in this myself, and if you're honest, you'll admit that you have, too). Two of my favorites:

1. Occasionally, as John and I would be walking down a sidewalk, we'd see a stooped old grandmother. John would cheerfully command, "On your back, woman!" I know, I know-- the "comfort woman" issue is highly sensitive in Korea. But I found it funny all the same.

2. Back when we were working at that hagwon in the Kangnam area, John would see a particularly beautiful young student and starting singing, "Show me the front of your bum!"

John's married now, so I'm sure he can no longer do either of the above, though I'll be interested to see whether he uses his blog to confess a secret lust for Korean grannies.

Anyway, John-- now's your chance for revenge! Go ahead and reveal all the awful, shitty stuff I did and said ten years aigo!

NB: Mike met John in March of 1995, when Mike, my mother, and my brother David all visited me in Seoul. We three guys did fondue at the Swissôtel for John's birthday (March 13, yes?). A good time had by all, I thought. Mike and John had the chance to talk about history, their mutual love. Would be nice if we could all get together again, but those two gents are married, and plane tickets to either Dunedin or Washington, DC are kind of expensive. Bah... we'll figure something out in future, I'm sure.

Now that you've been properly hazed, welcome to the blogosphere, John!

Go give John's blog, Just Another Human (Nur Ein Mensch, "only a [hu]man," as his URL claims), a read. Force him to write more.

UPDATE: Some uplifting facts about John:

1. The man's done his share of hunting. He demonstrated on numerous occasions that he can move in absolute silence, and despite being more Aryan than Pope Benedict, he could blend in with a crowd of Koreans and blindside a Kevin on the lookout for him. This was, in fact, the way John and I would sometimes meet up: we'd pick a crowded area to meet, I'd arrive a bit early, and John would do his best to get close enough to tap me on the shoulder from behind without my ever having spotted him. John's powers of invisibility were uncanny: had I been a New Zealand sheep, I'd have been raped multiple times.

John once made an incredible claim and then backed it up. His claim was something to the effect that "hunters in the woods have to know how to sharpen their knives on any surface." I said, "Can you sharpen my pocketknife on this formica table?" John said, "Sure," took my knife, then used the table as a whetstone.

I accept only one proof of a truly sharp knife: if you can use it to shave the hair off your fingers, it's sharp. I scraped my newly sharpened knife across the backs of two of my fingers... the hair came off as if it hadn't even been attached to my skin. I was humbled.

2. John's a mountain goat. While I like hiking, John treats mountains the way I treat level ground: as no big deal.

One particularly embarrassing hiking excursion involved John, a few of our Korean students, and yours truly. John was impatient with the switchbacking trail and elected to scale the mountain straight up when we found a rock face that had about a 40-degree grade. John loped up the side easily; the students followed suit.

Soon, I was the only sad sack left at the bottom. I screwed up my courage and charged upward... but my fat betrayed me, and I lost momentum about halfway up. The grade was too steep for me to restart the climb, and steep enough for me to worry about tumbling backward and breaking my neck. So I hung there, immobile, trying to figure out what to do next.

The students were laughing. One compassionate student, a guy with the nickname Dragon (his real name was Pak Yong-pil, "yong" meaning "dragon"), scampered down with the same ease as John, grabbed one of my wrists, then helped me up the rest of the way.

It was a humiliating experience for me, but there was one cool aspect to that day: when we'd started the hike, two old guys pointed at me and muttered that I wouldn't be able to scale the mountain (was this Gwanak-san, John?). Thanks to John's shortcut, we made it to the top in record time. The old men, who arrived much later, were astonished to see me up there with the group. I simply leered at them. That's what you get for judging the book by its blubberous cover, assholes.

*Yes, yes, I know it's not just Westerners who crack jokes in their native tongue while in foreign lands. Shut up and enjoy the damn humor.


slice and dice, baby

Does anybody know where I can find one of these in Korea?


Hardyandtiny sez: Typepad no longer blocked!

Stellar work by the dude who brought us all those tittie pics. I've been given permission to reprint the following email exchange between Hardyandtiny (hereinafter "HT") and Kim Jeong-hun of Kornet.

First, HT writes in:

From: HT
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2005 6:27 PM
Subject: typepad sites are blocked


I cannot open any sites hosted by on my computer. (KT Megapass)

Attached is what the person from KT customer service told me to send to you.

Thank you

Kim replies:

From: Jeonghun, Kim
Date: Aug 26, 2005 6:57 PM
Subject: Re: typepad sites are blocked
To: HT

Dear Customer.

The site which you mentioned is not allowed to access for the terrorism issue of beheading last year,
by ICEC, Information Communication Ethics Committee in Korea.
Some of users had uploaded it to their blogs hosted by then
If you have any concern or questions, please contact ICEC :
Tel. 02-3415-0161~5

I apologize for any inconvenience may cause you.
Thank you.

Jeonghun, Kim
Kornet NOC, KT
Tel. 02-3674-5751
Email. /

HT writes in a second time:

From: HT
To: Jeonghun, Kim
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2005 7:27 PM
Subject: Re: typepad sites are blocked


Thank you, but then why are the websites available via Thrunet and Hanaro. Why is only KT blocking these sites?


Kim's response:

From: Jeonghun, Kim
Date: Aug 26, 2005 8:39 PM
Subject: Re: typepad sites are blocked
To: HT


All the ISP in Korea had been asked of the block by ICEC last year.
It would be illegal for Hanaro and thrunet, which are same ISP
to remove the blocking without indication of ICEC.
I will email ICEC to release the blocked if there is no harm any more.

Thank you for your information.

Best Regards.

Jeonghun, Kim
Kornet NOC, KT

[NB: Mr. Kim really did address HT as just "Dear." I didn't remove HT's name in the salutation.]

CONCLUSION: Oranckay was right. We won't really know what was going on. Mr. Kim seems to confirm my paranoid suspicion that this summer's blockage was ordered by the government... but the reason he offers for the blockage is a year old, and betrays a lack of awareness of how other ISPs have been handling blogs. The funny thing is that the blockage seemed to end soon after HT's email campaign: HT sent me the above exchange and then wrote this morning:


I can't believe this. The ban has been lifted.


Creeping police state or simple confusion? Grist for loopy speculation if nothing else.




The calligrapher I mentioned months ago had another "exhibition" up, this time at Sookdae Ipgu Station, not far from Smoo. I didn't see the man himself, but I recognized his work. As I perused his latest pieces, I saw this proverb (here rendered in my unprofessional hand):

I knew three out of the four characters right away (first, third, and fourth), and could guess at the mysterious character's meaning because it contains the "water" radical. Can you figure out what proverb this is? Would I be giving too much away if I said, mu han bul seong?

(If you can't figure the proverb out, comfort yourself by blaming my handwriting. Externalize your locus of responsibility, as your shrink might say.)


Ave, Lorianne!

One of the reasons why I read Hoarded Ordinaries-- for writing like this:

I've learned to drop whatever I'm doing and go walking whenever I see a hint of pewter light shining from the western horizon, for clouds move quickly and the sun sets suddenly. If you're in the middle of a flat landscape--like, say, at the municipal airport--when the setting sun is doing magic tricks under the edge of cloud-capped skies, you'll witness the most miraculous of phenomena: the earth itself aglow, like God's in the thing. It's a brief flash in the proverbial pan, that instant when the clouded sky is dark and the earth itself-- you yourself-- seem luminous, glinting gray beams that are best viewed askance, like ghosts. In an instant, the illusion is there, then gone, tree leaves no longer tricked in silver, the sky merely overcast, gloomy. But the ringing in your soul remains after that wondrous moment, the blood pumping in your walking legs as your heart remembers what it meant to be alive at the middle of the gleaming gray earth, aglow.

Visit that post and take a look at the photos accompanying it.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Ave, Adam!

Adam Yoshida (not the frothing rightie) has a great post on teaching and teachers. One notable quotable:

Teaching such young children is a greater responsibility than I had ever imagined, and it was only after I taught for three years in Japan that I was able to fully appreciate the education that I [received] growing up. Good teachers are [arguably] the most under-appreciated members in society.

Go read the post here.


hey, Korea! still wanna be a hub?

This off Drudge:

Al Qaeda May Hit Asian Financial Hubs-- French Judge

A snippet:

LONDON (Reuters) - Al Qaeda could be planning an attack on Asian financial centers to try to undermine investor confidence in the region, a senior French anti-terrorism judge said in an interview on Thursday.

Speaking to Britain's Financial Times newspaper, Jean-Louis Bruguiere said an attack on Tokyo, Singapore or Sydney would be symbolically important for al Qaeda.

"We have several elements of information that make us think that countries in this region, especially Japan, could have been targeted," Bruguiere said without elaborating on the intelligence or nature of the threat.

He said several Asian countries were less prepared for an attack than the United States or Europe, which have both been targeted by Osama bin Laden's network.


the bloody aftermath

Most of the students in the summer intensive program decided not to show up, which meant we had more players in the drama than people in the audience. I found that quite amusing, and I think it helped settle some nerves: my students had thought they would be facing a huge audience.

The play went about as well as could be expected. There were notable fuckups during the Titus Andronicus and Hamlet segments (in both cases, the leads forgot their lines and tripped everyone else up), but some of my actresses had the audience in stitches.

A lot of credit has to go to the students for their inventiveness. Most of the ideas that appeared on stage were not suggested by me. I'll take credit for insisting from the beginning that the students be creative (and I think Shakespeare-- who after all wrote few stage directions into his plays-- would have agreed that creativity is key), but the students themselves took it from there.

The audience clapped obligingly during the scene changes, and gave us a decent round of applause at the end. All fifteen people (heh) seemed delighted by the performance. We did a wave-style bow; the girls received roses, and I got a bouquet-- my first ever for a performance of any sort.*

The students also received a W70,000 (US$70) prize, which we promptly spent at a pizza joint this afternoon: two pizzas, two salad bar bowls, and several pitchers of Coke.** Seventy bucks for that. Scary.

The semester's over... but my fat ass still has proofreading to do. Then, during next week's "vacation," we've got a semester's worth of lesson planning to do and a testing workshop to attend. Woo-hoo!

On the bright side, I have time to restart my Namsan project, and perhaps I'll sign up for the Smoo gym now that it'll be open late.

*My brother Sean, a professional cellist, is well acquainted with receiving roses and applause.

**Ever tried to snort a pitcher of Coke? I don't recommend it.


at 1PM, it hits the fan

The program I designed:

Dress rehearsal on Wednesday was a royal mess, with major players constantly forgetting their lines. Today promises to be... exciting. For the director if for no one else.

But why worry? As Hamlet says in our production:

There are more things in heaven and earth, so piss off!


Thursday, August 25, 2005

board game cafe

Here's a pic from our student excursion a couple weeks ago-- the one to the board game cafe in the Hong-dae area:

It's true: expats are dorks who cannot survive in their home countries.


bazaar update

I think the Smoo student bazaar went about as well as it could have gone. My fusion crackers (as we ended up calling them) sold well: there's nothing left. I sat back from the main tables and quietly worked on bad calligraphy and brush drawings; the drawings (mostly of crazed farm animals) were a hit, as were my miniature Dalma-do, which in my opinion were little more than so-so. Some of my customers were a bit picky about what they wanted, but I tried to oblige even the weirdest requests (e.g., "I want you to draw me a sheep! But not a crazy one! And give it legs!"). While I worked on the brush art, my table was often surrounded by onlookers. As the drawings took shape on my hwa-seon-ji (calligraphic/art paper), their progress was accompanied by a stroke-by-stroke chorus of low oohs and aahs.

I'm hoping that some of my students will email me the photos they took; there was a lot of shutter-bugging because it's the end of the summer term. I didn't have a chance to take any pics of my fusion crackers, so you'll just have to imagine:

thin, crispy Scandinavian wafer (about 1" x 4"), topped with
tomato sauce, topped with
thinly sliced butternut squash, topped with
shrimp (cooked in a parsley-garlic butter sauce), topped with
my special three-cheese mix (feta, mozzarella, parmesan, basil, and olive oil to bind)

I didn't get to eat a single one of my crackers, though I did enjoy some student fare from other tables (brought to me by students; I felt spoiled).

Everyone seemed to be having a great time, this in spite of the weather. In all, not a bad day. Now I've got to finish grading some tests, then maybe I can enjoy an evening of terror as I anticipate tomorrow's play-- the main event at our mini-graduation. Gawd.

In other news, my teacher evaluations were again largely positive, so all's well in Kevinland.

Off to do some goddamn grading.


damn, forgot to invite you

If you're in the Seoul area and would like to visit our student bazaar, it's happening today from about 1PM to 4PM at Sookmyung Women's University (aka "Smoo" on my blog), Social Education Building (sa-hwae-gyo-yook-gwan), first floor. Freak my students out by speaking rapidfire English to them.

The various intensive classes are each preparing their own thing. My group is planning to sell Korean-style sausages, sandwiches, iced tea, fusion snacks (my own creation... I should foodblog this), and I'll also be doing some goofy brush art (possibly some calligraphy, too, but I haven't practiced in a while).

Other groups will be doing thrift shops or selling drinks. One group will be selling massage sessions and doing fingernail painting for the ladies. So come on over! Everything ought to be fairly cheap. Give the students a chance to practice their English skills on real, live furriners!

Also: tomorrow at 1PM, in Gemma (Jemma) Hall (B1 level-- near the Social Ed Building), we'll be performing our comedy, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), as part of our mini-graduation ceremony.

The play will be funnier for expats than for Korean students, I reckon. One problem is that the play contains a few swear words, but they won't be noticed by the Korean audience. Even native anglophones might miss them: some students' accents are so thick that it's hard to tell what they're saying. Another problem is the in-jokes: you've got to be somewhat familiar with Shakespeare and modern Brit/American culture to catch the reference (e.g., the Scotsman jokes during the Macbeth segment, none of which my students truly comprehend).

Admission to the play is free, though our troupe will be happy to accept donations to defray the cost of purchasing small props. See you today or tomorrow, I hope.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

go, goy, go!


Man with enormous foreskin takes up parasailing; Jews look on in envy.

(Props to my brother David for sending the photo of the Flying Prepuce.)


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Potter repost

Things are busy here, so I'll distract you with this repost of an oldie: my Harry Potter parody, written before the arrival of Book 6. Have fun reading...


An evening in April.

Harry Potter blew out his breath in satisfaction. He had just finished writing two entire scrolls' worth for a report on the Goblin Orgy of 1652. He was alone in the Shrieking Shack, having decided this would be the quietest place in Hogsmeade to study. Blinking the sweat out of his green eyes and absently scratching his forehead scar, Harry made his way blearily downstairs, where a six-pack of butterbeers was waiting faithfully atop an old, abandoned bar, kept cold by Hermione Granger's Chilling Charm (a female specialty, she claimed; the charm was a subtype of the dreaded Frigidity Curse).

As Harry reached for a butterbeer, there was a loud knock on the door. Harry jumped, then smiled, knowing this could only mean it was seven-thirty, and his friend Ron Weasley had finally tracked Harry down for dinner. They were planning to meet Hermione in town and try out The Dragon's Scrotum, a new wizard barbecue restaurant specializing in dragon steaks and something the local warlocks jokingly called "volcano oysters." Swigging his butterbeer and carting an extra one for Ron, Harry made for the door and opened it, smiling in anticipation.

But the smile left his face instantly. A gigantic, muscular man in sunglasses, wearing an open Hogwarts robe, was standing in front of him. The robe was far too small for the man, who-- to Harry's horror-- appeared to be naked beneath it, and completely oblivious to this fact.

"Harry Potter?" asked the man in a deep, Austrian-accented voice. It was more statement than question.

Harry, who'd been staring enviously downward, didn't realize he'd just been addressed. He blinked and looked up at the bizarre stranger.


The muscleman said nothing. Harry gulped, squinted past the man and looked down the road. "Did Ron send you? My friend, Ron Weasley? Is this some kind of prank?"

The man considered, head cocked to one side. Then he spoke.

"Is this Ronald Weasley?" His enormous right hand came up into view, clutching Ron's unattached head by his trademark red hair. Ron's freckled face was slack in death, eyes rolled reflexively skyward, mouth stupidly open.

Two butterbeers shattered on the floor. Harry screamed and stumbled backward. In that horrible moment, he realized: This guy's wearing Ron's robe!

Ron's head looked as if it had been ripped off, and not very cleanly. It was the most unmagical way to remove someone's head that Harry could think of. And judging by the intruder's fearsome muscles, Harry guessed the muscleman had done it by hand, without any twisting.

Harry's scream and backpedal had carried him into the Shrieking Shack's foyer. He plunged his hand into his robes... but his wand was upstairs, on the bed with his homework. Damn!

Without pausing to look back, Harry ran for the stairs. The wand was his only hope. Even though, at sixteen, his physique had acquired the same lithe muscularity as his father's, Harry knew he wouldn't stand a chance in hand-to-hand combat against this man, who was obviously extremely disturbed.

But when Harry was barely halfway up the stairs, something heavy and round hit him square in the small of the back. It felt almost like a Quidditch Bludger... but no: the muscleman had thrown Ron's head at Harry, scoring a direct hit. Harry stumbled on the steps, clutched the small of his back in agony and screamed, "HAVE YOU NO RESPECT FOR THE DEAD!?" The muscleman ignored this and advanced with an eerie, machinelike grace to the base of the stairs. In the semidarkness of the stairwell, Harry saw that the man's eyes glowed red.

Gritting his teeth despite the pain, Harry pushed himself the rest of the way upstairs and flew into the Shack's bedroom. He saw his wand lying next to his homework and grabbed it, his brain whizzing in a million directions. Who was this man? Why did he kill Ron? Why is he trying to kill me? Obviously, Voldemort sent him...

Harry's breathing slowed a bit as he realized the man had reached the top of the stairs, but hadn't tried entering the bedroom to confront Harry. Huh--?

Too late, Harry realized that, if his assailant had torn off Ron Weasley's head and taken his robe... he had probably taken Ron's wand. And sure enough, Harry heard an incantation in that man's deep, booming voice... but it was the strangest-sounding incantation he'd ever heard.

"Accio Phase Plasma Rifle With Forty-Watt Range!"

Harry gulped. And when the man did finally step inside the bedroom, the last things Harry Potter saw and heard in this world were these: a near-naked muscleman holding a huge, futuristic assault rifle; the high whine of a plasma charger; and the sizzle-roar of a directed energy burst.

Smoke. Ashes. Of Harry Potter, nothing remained save a black, carbonized spot on the floor. The Terminator lowered its weapon, mission accomplished. There was the sound of someone mounting the stairs. The Terminator turned. A thin, towering figure had appeared in the bedroom doorway, nodding in grim satisfaction.

"Well done, old boy," muttered Albus Dumbledore. "That little shit has been a constant annoyance since his arrival at this school. I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever have a chance to enjoy some peace and quiet. Very well. Back to the future with you." With a wave of his wand, Dumbledore dismissed the Terminator, who disappeared in a great sphere of chrono-energy.

Hermione burst in at that moment, her eyes bright with tears.

"Oh, Professor! I-- I found Ron's body down the road... then I... then I found his head at the bottom of the stairs! And-- Professor! Where's Harry?"

Dumbledore had been contemplating the spot where, only seconds before, Harry had stood. "Dead, I'm afraid. Vaporized by powerful magic. I don't know what to say, Hermione."

Hermione gasped and fell to her knees. Dumbledore couldn't help noticing how her robe failed to hide the beautiful curves of her now-womanly body. He leaned over and raised her to her feet, hugging her and stroking her long, wild brown hair. "It'll be all right," he whispered down to her, long fingers stroking lower, lower, lower.

Yes, indeed, Dumbledore thought with a private grin. Things were going to be more than all right.


lines to be uttered while frothing

Votre chair est opaque, opaque comme le boeuf énorme qui pourrit dans la lune!

I screamed the above line as part of a play called L'Aveugle (The Blind Man). Translation: "Your flesh is opaque, opaque like the enormous ox rotting on the moon!"

I like it, but it doesn't even touch the fuckedupedness of the rant by the character Lucky in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

(You may or may not be aware that Beckett translated his own plays into French.)


Monday, August 22, 2005


All y'all jus' chill.


Sunday, August 21, 2005

congrats, Justin!

Sincere congratulations to Justin Yoshida, who is now married! Go visit his blog and leave a note.


nice day

We've had a series of pleasant, not-too-hot, not-too-humid days here in Seoul, right after a bout of rain. I've been like a dog, excitedly sniffing the fresh air. Lately, especially during the cooler evenings, we've had hints of the coming fall. Not yet, of course; not yet. Korean summer's going to pummel us a little while longer, I think. But fall's on its way, and that's a relief. I can't stand hot, humid weather.

Gandalf might ask if this is a day to be good on. I'd say it is. Hard to imagine being bad on a day like today.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

the miracle of life


"Please... I need raw meat."

The post's title isn't a zombie-flick version of Oliver Twist's request for more food: it's a line from a student skit performed in my class on Thursday afternoon.

Over the past week, I'd given the students in both my intensive classes the assignment of teaching the textbook lessons. The Wednesday lesson in my advanced class was well-planned and well-executed. The Thursday lesson, however, was memorable because it began with a hilarious skit, followed by a discussion.

The skit and discussion were based on some sort of Korean TV show in which a panel of lawyers discusses a controversial scenario that is reenacted for the TV viewer's benefit. My group performed the case of a photographer who was luring restaurants into selling him raw meat. The photographer would take a clandestine picture of the sale, then tell the local authorities, who would swoop down on the restaurant and charge a steep fine. The question: was the photographer guilty of defrauding the restaurants?

Two students played unwitting restaurateurs, and Kyong-sang, one of only three guys in the class, played the photog. This was done to hilarious effect, though: instead of sneaking pics with a tiny cell phone camera, Kyong-sang dragged out an enormous Polaroid-style monster and clicked his photos with that. The victims, true to the skit, had to pretend not to have noticed the gigantic camera in their midst.

Before Kyong-sang whipped out the camera, though, he had to persuade his marks to give him the incriminating raw meat. This was accomplished in the following subtle manner:

KYONG-SANG: Excuse me. Do you have... raw meat?


KS: Please... I need... raw meat.

RO: Why?

KS: It's for my wife. She's pregnant.

At this point I was on the floor. I don't know of any special connection between raw meat and pregnancy. This wasn't so much a skit about controversial legal cases as it was a Monty Python number.

Kyong-sang next broke into tears.

KS: Please! PLEASE! It's for my wife! She neeeeeeeds it!

RO: But it's illegal to give it to you. Oh, well... let me see what I have in the back.

I thoroughly enjoyed this production. Thinking about it makes me hungry for some steak tartare.


Friday, August 19, 2005

undiplomatic catheter

tube shoved in
where the stuff comes out
no dee-bate
just my screams and shouts


paging Dr. Jung

I dreamed I was a goldfish with enormous horse testicles. This in itself isn't particularly noteworthy; plenty of people have that dream. What was different was that, in my dream, my testicles were covered with iron spikes and I was thrashing them wildly about during some pitched land battle-- maybe somewhere in Mongolia. I don't remember how I was able to crush so many skulls, though. I was a goldfish; I didn't have legs. Where did I get my elevation?



alas-- bloggers still blocked from access

I've got this theory: TypePad-based Koreabloggers represent the ultimate threat to South Korea's government. This explains the continued censorship (or whatever it's being called).


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Thursday dress rehearsal

Today, our drama class rehearsed in Jemma Hall, an auditorium on the B-1 level of our complex. I'd cajoled and threatened and ranted at my students for two days, Tuesday and Wednesday: "Dress rehearsal Thursday! We're doing it in the actual auditorium! Bring all props, all costumes-- everything! And all lines memorized!"

And you know... the students came through.

Rehearsal wasn't perfect by any means, but our production actually looked like a play for the first time. Somehow, we managed to accommodate the schedules of all the itinerants, including the girl who claimed she had to leave 20 minutes into rehearsal because of her part-time job.

In reality, today wasn't the real dress rehearsal: the real rehearsal's next Wednesday. We still have a few logistical difficulties to sort out: coordinating our goofy PowerPoint slide show with the action, and perhaps adding some canned music to aid transitions from scene to scene. I'm hoping that those are only minor difficulties, but I could be very, very wrong. We'll soon know, won't we!?

Lots to do, lots to do.

My weekend will consist of (1) hunting down a family-size picnic cooler for my advanced-level students (our intensive classes are hosting a bazaar on the 25th, you see), (2) crafting the much-awaited PowerPoint slide presentation, (3) figuring out what sort of music-- if any-- can/will be played during the drama production, (4) finishing a massive proofreading job I should never have said "yes" to, (5) crafting review sheets and final exams for my intensive students for the coming week, and, lest I forget, (6) getting a damn haircut.

I normally sleep in a bit on Friday mornings before heading to campus for my one-on-ones, but I'm having a make-up class tomorrow morning at 7:40AM, I so think I'll end things here. I was in the office until 10:15PM, so as you can imagine, I'm a bit tired.


Chewey Defeats Truman!!

The Nugget Maven was kind enough to provide me with this link. If you enjoyed The Darth Side, you'll probably enjoy Chewbacca's blog.

(NB: Huuuuuurrnnnnnnnnnnn is not by the same dude who wrote The Darth Side. Not by a long shot. In fact, it looks like it really was authored by a Wookiee.*)

*My spelling of "Wookiee" (as opposed to "Wookie") defers to the spelling found in the vintage 1976 Star Wars, the novelization of the 1977 blockbuster by George Lucas. Although Lucas is currently listed as the author of the novel (he's definitely the movie's screenwriter), the rumor has long been that sci-fi veteran Alan Dean Foster ghost-wrote the book. I tend to agree: the novel's prose feels too much like Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye, and having read Lucas in his own words for months now over at, I assure you there's no way in fucking hell he could have written Star Wars the novel. Star Wars is a Foster child.

Speaking of shitty writers, it's always fun to pick on James Kahn, the idiot who wrote Return of the Jedi, the novel. Kahn is so lame that he gets kicked around by us geeks for his bad prose. Go to Amazon and flip through the book for yourself. Then, while you're clutching your scroties in horror, ask yourself why Kahn rendered Artoo Detoo's dialogue so literally. Chewbacca's fine blog can be interpreted as one long, spiteful parody of Kahn's writing.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Ave, Sluggy!

I've been reading Sluggy Freelance, one of the biggest online comic strips, since 1998. I don't normally link to Sluggy because Pete Abrams, the guy who draws and writes the comic, constructs long, plodding plot lines. Linking you to a particular day of Sluggy would be about as kind as starting a Seinfeld DVD episode ten minutes in: you'll have missed all the initial jokes to which the rest of the plot refers.

Today, however, Abrams has drawn a cool, perhaps unintentionally stand-alone Sluggy strip.

Enjoy the Fate Spider.


long day at the office

We're coming up on the end of this amazingly topsy-turvy semester. I'm convinced my drama production is spiraling toward its fiery doom, but my other classes seem to be going pretty well. Am still at the office at 8:50-something PM... is there an end in sight?


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

block lifted?

As of 7PM, I can access my blog directly from the office. Does this mean the block's been lifted? It would seem to fit the theory that blockage was all about Independence Day and the North Korean delegation. If so, then...


Thank you for your time.

We now return you to your normal broadcast, already in progress.

...horrible ripping sound, his anus gave birth to the largest toilet log I'd ever seen. It burst out of his asshole like a runaway train, like a one-ton exclamation point, an overfed caterpillar straight from the mind of Satan. Before I had time to think about moving aside, before I had time even to draw breath and utter a final, desperate war cry, the foul, roiling brownness was upon me. As I was buried beneath that stinking mass and my consciousness began to flicker and dim, I had time for only one thought:

"This, O gods, is power incarnate."

(A dramatic reading by Sean Connery from Diary of an Arcturian Slave Mollusc of Female Persuasion)

FUCKDATE: Block not lifted. Typepad blogs still not accessible.


Monday, August 15, 2005

my undiplomatic email to the MIC

[I've BCC'ed this message to various bloggers and news sources. Feel free to use it however you like.]

ATTN: Mr. JM Ryu, Ministry of Information and Communication
FROM: Kevin Kim
RE: blog censorship

Since Friday, August 12th, 2005, I have been unable to access weblogs (blogs) hosted by BlogSpot ( and Typepad ( I suspect that these domains are being blocked, and further suspect (along with several other people) that this blockage has something to do with Korean Independence Day and/or the visit by the North Korean delegation.

I am writing to your office to protest this blockage, which has been reported and confirmed by a number of people. The blockage brings back memories of a similar act of censorship last year following the Kim Sun-il beheading video (early summer 2004). Is the government planning to make such blockage a yearly summertime event?

Controlling access to information is shameful, especially in a supposedly open, democratic society like South Korea. Freedom of speech is a basic requirement for a healthy society. The government has no right to control what people say, nor should it (within limits) dictate how people should act.

Censorship is rooted in fear and mistrust. It assumes that citizens and residents have no idea how to care for themselves, and that "government knows best," which is an insulting attitude. What does the government fear from expat bloggers? Most South Koreans aren't fluent enough in English to read the expat blogs, and besides, most expat blogs are far from extreme in nature. In fact, quite a few bloggers take the time to express their love for and admiration of Korean culture.

The funniest thing about the current censorship is that it has failed to block the most popular expat blogs. Having learned from last year's lessons, many bloggers have shifted to their own private domains to escape repression.

As a matter of public relations, censorship works AGAINST the South Korean government, making it (and the rest of South Korea) look clumsy and stupid to much of the rest of the world. Perhaps the South Korean government feels that such repressive measures will endear it to China, which also has little respect for the rights of its citizens. Perhaps this censorship is a tribute to the repressive tendencies of North Korea. In my opinion, South Korea can be better than this: it can lead by example, by never again seeking to repress online activity, whether of expats or of its own citizens.

Freedom involves risk. Some people will take advantage of a free and open society; they will push the boundaries of good taste in their efforts to shock and degrade. But we can't afford to fear these dangers if we are truly committed to the ideals of free speech, the free exchange of ideas and information. A shock can be beneficial; it can rouse people from their complacency. A society that allows no such freedom will stultify and wither.

I would like the MIC (or the ISPs answering to it) to end the current blockage immediately. I am not alone in deploring this shameful situation. End the censorship NOW.


Hyeon Gak sunim et le bouddhisme coréen

Interesting French article from 2001 found here that talks about Paul Munsen, a.k.a. Hyeon Gak sunim, arguably the most famous foreign Zen Buddhist monk in South Korea. Watch this space; I'll provide a translation later.

[NB: I believe the surname is actually spelled Muenzen; perhaps the article is using a French version of the name (e.g., switching Steven to Etienne). Odd, but possible.]

UPDATE: Here's the translated article:

SOUTH KOREA (16 May 2001)

For the first time, a foreigner is placed at the head of a South Korean monastery.

This past April 22, taking over as head of Hyeonjeong Temple, a Buddhist temple located 150km south of Seoul, an American, 37 and a Harvard graduate, became the first foreigner to be named the superior of a Buddhist monastery in Korea, where Buddhism has existed for seventeen centuries.

Paul Muenzen, whose dharma name is Hyon Gak, received his new responsibilities in Yeongju as part of a ceremony where thousands of the faithful had gathered. "This is a significant event for our Buddhism," declared Park Hee-sung, spokesman for Chogye, the largest branch of Korean Buddhism. His [Muenzen's] ordination must still be approved by the association, but as Park noted, "It's only a question of time because this man is respected by many Buddhists. This nomination signifies that Korean Buddhism is open to foreigners."

Paul Muenzen-Hyeon Gak was educated in Roman Catholicism in New Jersey, in the United States, and he studied at Yale University and Harvard Divinity school. His life was transformed in an unexpected way after meeting a Korean Zen master in 1989 after a conference at Harvard. The following year, he left to discover Korea and became a monk in 1992. "I want to show that a foreign monk who knows little about Korea can still function well in a Buddhist temple," declared Hyeon Gak to the daily Chosun Ilbo. Lamenting the fact that Korean youth care little about their traditional culture and identity, he also noted that he wanted to "set up a program to help young people become more aware of the grandeur of Korean Buddhism." Hyeon Gak's autobiography, From Harvard to Hwagye-sa, is a best-seller in Korea, with 500,000 copies sold in 1999.

According to government statistics, South Korea has 10 million Buddhists and 10,000 monks (of whom 50 are foreign).


bonne fête!

August 15 isn't just Korean Independence Day: it's also the Feast of the Assumption for Catholics.

My previous Assumption Day post can be found here:

[Link severed; please "repair" when using it. Or, if you want, try clicking the link provided. Unipeak users will note that the active link's URL is scrambled.]

Your Assumption Day miracle: I'll keep the comments up for as long as people are willing to post civilly and constructively.


reactions to the blockage

Check out Joel's post here:

...and the Nomads's post here:

[I severed the above link; please "repair" it when you use it. Long links screw with my blog's main column/sidebar format, which is why I slice 'em.]

...and EFL Geek's post here:

[Link severed; please repair when using.]

Time to go write some more letters.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Korean govt censorship generates
huge wave of blogger apathy

A blogger who shall remain nameless writes in:


Once again, there seems to be a general apathy among fellow Korean bloggers about the blockage and I'm a little confused by the lack of curiosity and coverage. Are we all so much into our own thing that we don't care what's going on or why? I noticed the same thing the last time this happened - you and a very few others were the only ones who protested about it. Everyone else seemed ok with it and went on their merry ways. I find that a bit odd, don't you?


Last year, the Infidel noted the apathy of the Western press after the Kim Sun-il beheading and subsequent, extensive censorship by the South Korean government. There was very little Korean and international media coverage (exempt from this complaint are the journalists I met/spoke with last year; they did write about the problem-- e.g., Todd and Mark et al.).

This year-- zilch from most of the Koreabloggers, too, excepting those who felt burned last year. I'll be curious to see how the bloggers who started their blogs after last year's censorship decide to handle this. Will they curl up into a little ball? Pretend nothing's going on? Or-- I hope-- get pissed off and stick it to Da Man?

I haven't verified that the Korean government is in fact enacting a ban, but the signs are there.

1. Blocked blogs are accessible through Unipeak, meaning the access problem didn't originate with the blog service providers.

2. Blockage is patchy. Last year, we discovered this was because the government had asked the ISPs to enforce its ban (this after initial government denials that there was a ban at all), and the ISPs had adopted different methods for doing so. This year, like last year, some people haven't noticed any problem at all. Great for them, sucky for the rest of us.

3. Blockage is of entire domains-- in this case, it's apparently Blogspot and Typepad (not This is basically what happened last year.

Perhaps there's something to the theory that the Korean government wants us to shut up this weekend. Perhaps this muzzling is linked with Independence Day, or specifically with the visit by the North Korean delegation (who can slurp my cheesy nads, by the way). Perhaps the censorship will end this coming week.

No matter: send in a complaint to the government. Keep it politely worded or you won't be listened to.

And now, Dear Reader, it's time to go through the attic and pull out some cobwebbed relics. Here's the URL for an old post of mine about last year's censorship (deliberately left un-linked because Unipeak scrambles links):

A reminder about the Sacred Principles of FUCK:

The MIC Fight Song:

Some contact information for you:

Director Ryu Jae-myung (MIC Policy):, (02)750-1411

Or snail mail re: MIC policy:

Cooperation Planning Division
Telecommunication Center Building.
Ministry of Information and Communication 13F, 100 Sejongno,
Jongno-gu, Seoul 100-777, Korea

(I'm not sure you should expect a speedy response from these geniuses.)

Try writing OhMyNews English:

To contact journalist Todd Thacker, who was great last year, find one of the articles he wrote ( and use the "contact reporter" link to send him a message. While I have his email address, I don't think he wants it made public.

Todd's article about me and mein Kampf:

[NB: You'll need to "repair" the above URL, which I severed by hitting "return."]

Try writing the Korea Times:

Or the Korea Herald:

[Contact info is listed at the above URL.]

Or the Chosun Ilbo:

As I recall, other bloggers did great work finding more email addresses to which to send letters of protest. I hope they'll dig back through their archives and post those once again.

Also, I'm afraid I now have to drag out the old banner. Heh. Look up top.


blogger fiction

Annika recently wrote about her first day on a firing range. The photo shows a pretty impressive grouping, though some of her male commenters are demanding to know how far she was standing from the target. In tribute to her, I left the following comment, reposted here [slightly edited] for your entertainment:

Now it's time to graduate to the .44 Magnum Automag, the gun favored by Mack Bolan the Executioner and, in "Sudden Impact," by Dirty Harry.

It's kind of cool to imagine Annika blowing a much larger man's head off with that gun. We should start a round-robin crime blog-novel: Avenging Lawyer.

I used to write Mack Bolan-style short stories in high school. It'd be a cinch to re-adopt that tone for the blog novel:


Dirk's meaty hand was wrapped around Annie's throat, and he was squeezing. Chunk was closing in behind, ready to help Dirk out.

Annie hit Dirk with an atemi strike to the corner of the forehead, just enough to make him loosen his grip slightly. The moment his hold slackened, Annie seized Dirk with a wrist lock that caused him to yelp involuntarily in agony. She continued to twist until Dirk was bent nearly double; Annie's foot lashed out and caught him in the teeth, smashing a few back into his throat.

Chunk saw his buddy was in trouble and closed faster, hoping to surprise the lithe attorney, but Annie had already smelled him. Controlling an already-prone Dirk with the wrist lock, Annie reached into her enormous purse and brought out Cassandra, her huge, silver-plated .44 Automag. She looked at Chunk for only as long as it took to find the bridge of his nose.

Annie squeezed the trigger, and Cassandra sent 240 grains of death at almost 1100 feet per second straight into Chunk's face. At such close range, the burly man's head behaved no differently from a watermelon shot by the same weapon. Chunk's head, true to its owner's name, disintegrated into wet chunks and his body slumped to the ground with a gruesome thud.

Annie swung Cassandra around and planted her muzzle at the base of Dirk's skull, right next to the foramen magnum-- a straight shot into the brain. Dirk got the message.

"Another move, asshole, and you're next."

Dirk, in shock and thoroughly beaten, nodded vigorously.

Annie leaned close. "Okay, big boy," she whispered. "Let's talk."




Sticking bloggers into fictional adventures might become a new pastime.

Then we've got Rory, who needs no fictionalization.


postal scrotum: fart story

T. Spettel writes:


Liked your post on the 6th. it made me remember when i was in this seedy bar in Naples, Italy with a bunch of squadron mates (i was in naval aviation at the time). we were the only four in the bar at the time. we just wanted to have a couple of beers... then came what we used to call the wine girls, oohhh man...

these girls are employed by the bar and are there to get you to buy them as many bottles of very expensive cheapy wine as they can then they make tracks for the door. well, we didn't want these bitches around and they thought they could play us for a bunch of suckers, buuuuuttt we had a counter trick up our sleeve-- or better yet up our jeans: one of the guys said he had a fart brewing. I looked at him and said, "sweet, light it in front of these bitches," so he slouched in the chair and lit that sucker.

ooooohhhh man that fart not only had an eight inch blue flame, but it had fantastic tone, quality and duration, and to boot it reverberated of the marble floor and walls, too!! while laughing our asses off we heard the click of high heels on marble flooring and all the girls said, "eeeewwwww!!!!!!"

hope you can get a laugh out of it, Kevin

T. Spettel
Denver col