Monday, May 31, 2004

the loaf you pinch might be your own

A shockingly nice Korean ass appeared in front of me this evening-- small, tight, and thank God it didn't belong to a little boy. I was topping the rise of an escalator at the Korea University subway station when it hove into view. Clothed in dark blue denim. Accompanied by a very nice pair of thighs, and two swinging arms that were a credit to the Grand Sorority of Female Appendages. Shoulders that flared out without being broad, as is often the case with certain Western women who work out (the ones Tom Wolfe called "boys with breasts" in A Man in Full... I wonder whether Wolfe had been scouring the Web for "chicks with dicks").

Men are wired to zoom in on female reproductive checkpoints. There are leg-men. Ass-men. Breast-men. Men who can't wait to spot some camel-toe. Part of this is biology; part of this is culture. An American in Korea has to reorient a bit, allow himself to go native. Hips are slimmer here; asses tend to be flatter. Camel toe is very, very rare. It's never mattered to me much, but for leg-men, Korean women's legs can be something of a disappointment (unless you see one of those stilty supermodel wannabes swaying and swishing through Seoul). Personally, I don't mind stubby legs, so long as they're shapely. As far as legs go, I'm generally a calf-man, like the Maximum Leader.

Biology and culture come together to produce a certain objectification of the female form. For myself, though, I reject the idea that such objectification is inherently evil. If a woman wears clothing that reveals a healthy, bountiful cleavage (another rarity in Korea), she probably wants her cleavage to be seen. And why not? The same goes for women wearing tight, ass-revealing pants. Women who reject their own biology are simply engaging in another form of dehumanization. This is why I love Camille Paglia: she's a feminist who puts biological realities front and center.

So-- back to that ass. I wanted to breed with it. I wanted to make it scream things it's never screamed before. I wanted to knead it like a cat making biscuits with its claws. I wanted to--

And then the ass left my field of view.

And I promptly forgot about it until just a few minutes ago, when I decided to blog about the glory I'd beheld.

That ass now passes into the realm of myth. Hindsight reinterpretation of this moment will produce a faith-narrative that layers miracle upon miracle. The narrative begins with this blog, turns into oral tradition, then settles into written tradition. We've seen something like this before: the Exodus event. The birth narratives of both Jesus and the Buddha. This ass will be revered, in time, as the founder of a new religion. People years hence will read about how it healed the sick, preached compassion, and allowed itself to be licked, kissed, and fondled by grubby fat people for the good of all humankind. "Who created the universe, Daddy?" some child will ask in 3004. "The Golden Buttocks did, my son," will be the reply.

Let this blog stand as a shrine to that ass, whose perfect symmetry and sacred firmness have done Korea proud.

[post partially inspired by Andi's superlative post on feminism... and Lorianne, did you catch the Annie Dillard reference? hee hee]


OhMyNews reference EXPLAINED

The Marmot got an OhMyNews write-up, and a few fellow bloggers were mentioned in the article, found here. Ah, riding on the coattails of fame...


letter from home (and other things)

My brother David sends me an email. I now reveal to the world my intra-family nickname: BIRD. Sometimes BIRDY. This all started years and years ago, when David began making fun of how my hair resembles a bird's nest when I wake up in the morning. Imagine a really fat Harry Potter.* "Yo, where's my frickin' wand?" "Probably hiding under one of your enormous breasts, Potter. Ask a couple friends to lift it up so you can check under there."

Here's what David writes:



Oh no... new home? New nesties?


Bird nest?

I thought your whole block was being torn down... why are your neighbors above you staying? or ... HOW are they staying? will they float when the building is torn down?

OH NOooo...

biggest question -- is your newest nest air conditioned???


Yes, I forgot to blog about My Big Mistake. I obviously woefully misunderstood Adjoshi the first time he told me what was going on. I think I conflated what he said with what's actually happening in the neigborhood. Yes, buildings along my street are being torn down, and the renovation is progressing toward my erstwhile residence. But Adjoshi's request that I move was linked not to the street construction, which may or may not reach us, but to a renovation project uniquely for my old residence.

So no, the whole building isn't being torn down; they're renovating the lower floor, digging out and replacing old pipes and possibly fixing wiring and such to get things up to code. It's somewhat puzzling that they'd renovate only half the house, and it's doubly puzzling that they're doing this after having just renovated the residence next door to mine (new wallpaper, new kitchen facilities, etc.), but there we are.

To answer David's question: no, the new place isn't air conditioned, but it is sunk halfway underground in the style of the ban-jiha apartments (lit. "half-underground").

Korean residences are measured in p'yeong, a traditonal unit about 3.9 square meters in area. My new hasuk is, I'd estimate, about 1.5 p'yeong. Like I said-- a cloister. Except for all the material shit in it.

Speaking of shit: I had a perfectly normal one this morning as part of a perfectly routine constitutional. The only inconvenience was that the communal bathroom's ceiling is too low; I have to scrunch while shaving and showering. For those who don't know: many Korean bathrooms are laid out in such a way that the toilet hunkers next to a shower hose. There isn't necessarily a bathtub in Korean bathrooms, nor is there any demarcation between the toilet's floor space and the shower's. It's all one floor, with toilet and shower often very close together, so you end up living a life of water-spattered toilet rims and constantly-wet bathroom floors. Dainty and pampered American that I am, I can't stand this, nor do I like the "shower shoe culture" of Korean bathrooms: you're supposed to avoid the floor's filth (since the whole bathroom is basically the floor for the shower, and therefore the site of much free-range pubic hair) by wearing slippers. My brother David (he of the BIRDY letter above) is something of a germophobe; he warns me to be careful about hepatitis and the like, which is a legitimate worry. My other brother, Sean, who did his undergrad work at the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM, the #3 music school in the nation after Juilliard in NYC and The Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, is a single building appended to the campus of Case Western Reserve), told me a horror story about a Chinese student at CIM who apparently squatted down in the communal dorm showers and took a dump into the shower drain. Sean didn't directly witness this, I don't think (did he?). I can only hope this is an urban legend in miniature. Jesus Christ.

In other news: somebody visited my site today from OhMyNews. Uh-oh. It might be time to batten down for another blizzard of stupid-ass cyber-attacks. I hope not. Maybe this was simply a friendly perusal. I can't access the referring link since I'm not a subscriber, but if you are a subscriber, here's the link.

Joel writes:

Sometimes friendship in Korea with Koreans feels like an exchange of services rather than a friendship. I will take you out to a fancy restaurant, but you must speak English to my daughter while we are there. I have brought juice as a present, so will you help me do my term project of planning a vacation in America? Sometimes it’s hard to know those people willing to get to know you genuinely and those who see you as an invaluable resource in the many English problems that may beset them in the future. Don’t think that I am saying this about all Koreans. I have many Korean friends who have never asked me an English question in their life and those who didn’t ask until after we had gotten to know each other for a really long time (which is fine because I ask them Korean questions too.)

I've spoken with my mother about this before. Her feeling is that, at least among Koreans, it's best to look at friendship as a kind of mutual obligation. It often takes the form of meaningful material and non-material exchanges, but at its root, it's still friendship. The problem, of course, is that ritual gestures can take on a life of their own, creating "friendship" instead of simple friendship.

Dr. Vallicella and I disagree about some very basic matters, but here I offer my full support. He writes:

The fact that many analytic philosophers lack historical sense, knowledge of foreign languages, and broad culture is of course no excuse to jump over to the opposite camp, that of the 'Continental' philosophers. For lack of historical sense, they substitute historicism, which is just as bad. For lack of linguistic competence, they substitute a bizarre linguisticism in which the world dissolves into a text, a text susceptible of endless interpretation and re-interpretation. For lack of broad culture, they substitute a super-sophistication that empties into a miasma of sophistry and relativism. Worse, much of Continental philosophy, especially much of what is written in French, is just plain bullshit. Indeed, to cop a line from John Searle, one he applied to Jacques Derrida, it gives bullshit a bad name. I'll get around to substantiating this charge later.

Please do. I've been waiting for a truly substantive philosophical critique of PoMo to emerge from Camille Paglia's amazing brain, but she's a magnificent zigzagger and I don't think I can wait much longer. Paglia comes close to a substantive critique in one chapter of Sex, Art and American Culture.

And that's all I have time for during this lunch break. Back to our regularly scheduled tongue exercises.

[*For those who don't get the Harry Potter reference: JK Rowling portrays Harry's hair as untameable by any comb.]


Sunday, May 30, 2004

back to PC-bahng hell

I'm in a PC-bahng. The sounds of Starcraft and Warcraft are all around me. Aliens are dying everywhere, being sent to pixel hell for their soldiering sins. I'm not loving life: would much rather be blogging from the relative quiet of my abode. At least I'm at the Korea University PC-bahng, which is non-smoking. So I got dat goin' for me. Which is nice.

My new hasuk digs are extremely tiny; I'll barely have room to roll around epileptically on the floor. The place is still about half-unpacked; I'm going to take it slow, unpacking bit by bit over the course of this week. No need to rush; I'm not expecting any visitors anytime soon. The most important things right now are some clothes and my computer, so I can print out worksheets for my SWU students.

My cousin Kang-yeol came over to help me with the move today-- this despite my having told K'eun Adjoshi that I didn't need help from his sons or anyone else. As it turned out, though, Kang-yeol's help made the move much easier, and he also kept the yohng-dahl adjoshi from cheating me out of too much money. Originally, the cost for the move was supposed to be W40,000. This sounded suspiciously low to me, but K'eun Adjoshi's the one who spoke to the movers. The adjoshi hiked the cost to W60,000, which is about normal for yohng-dahl service. I was prepared to pay, but Kang-yeol argued the guy down to W50,000.

My upstairs neighbors at my now-former Jangui-dong residence expressed regret at my departure; they're worried that the next tenant downstairs won't be as well-behaved. I don't drink; I don't smoke; I don't listen to loud music or watch TV. All my vices are quiet: blogging and snacking. If I'm loud, it's because I'm laughing maniacally at something I'm reading/writing, or because I'm ripping out a particularly mean fart. And then laughing maniacally.

I'll definitely have to blog my first shit at the hasuk. I doubt it'll be anything special. It'll be Dogen's shikantaza, just-sitting. Or maybe just-shitting. Shit-kantaza. Just so you know: I'm the type who can poop more than once a day, so I'm predicting the shit-blog will occur at some point within the next twenty-four hours.

This week will be my final week at SWU. It's been fun; I've enjoyed my students, even though a lot of them have been slacking off. My class features no tests, quizzes, or even grades; there's no attendance policy. I can only assume that the students who come to class every day are either dedicated to learning English or think my belt-obscuring gut is the sexiest thing since bacon.

And now I'll going to go off on a tangent for no particular reason.

Andy the Yangban posts about the Ultimate War Sim, an article by David Wong. Wong's article is here, and I highly recommend it. Wong's a ferociously talented writer, too: I busted a gut reading the first chapter of a ghost story he wrote (see here), and laughed my sizable ass off at his review of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Wong's ghost story is several chapters long. I haven't read the whole thing, but here's a snippet from the first chapter, which is about two ghostbusters, Dave and John, who get a gig that involves visiting a supposedly haunted house. There's a problem: the seemingly innocent girl who led them to the house is actually some sort of demonic being who "bursts into snakes." Our two heroes have just walked into the house's basement to hunt for clues when the supernatural begins to erupt all around them. As any normal folks would do in the same situation, Dave and John decide it's time to get the fuck out of the basement.

We kicked through the slithering things and stomped up after her just as the stairwell door banged shut, completely on its own.

I reached for the knob at the same moment it began to melt and transform, turning pink and finally taking the shape of a flaccid penis. It flopped softly against the door, like a man was cramming it through the knobhole from the other side.

I turned back to John and said, "That door cannot be opened."

We stumbled back down the stairs, John jumping the last five and landing on the floor below with a smack of shoes on concrete. The snakes fled from the firelight, disappearing under shelves and between cardboard boxes.

That's when the basement started filling with shit.

A brown sludge oozed up from the floor drain, an unmistakable stench rising above it. I looked around for a window we could crawl out of, found none. The sewage bloomed out from the center of the floor, touching my shoes, rising over my soles to the shoe leather in a few seconds.

John shouted, "There!"

I whipped my head in his direction, saw him grab a little plastic crate from a shelf and set it on the floor. He climbed up on it, then just stood there with the muck rising below. Finally he looked at me and said, "What are you doing? Go find us a way outta here!"

As you might imagine, Dave and John escape the basement, only to be confronted by a reanimated beast composed of meat from the freezer and the pantry (imagine something walking on sausage legs and canned hams, with a turkey for a head and a half-frozen deer tongue hanging from the turkey to facilitate speech).

Before they encounter the meat-monster, though, they make it into the house's living room and realize that they don't know where their supernatural enemy is. Here's how they handle that situation:

In a few seconds we were both standing inside the living room, glancing around, breathing heavily.

Nothing. Just a living room.

A low, pulsing sound emerged from the air around us. An almost-human sound that was utterly without humanity. A laugh. A dry, humorless cough of a sound, as if the house itself was expelling the air with giant lungs of wood and plaster.

They love to play games, don't they? It's all they have time for.

We both knew the drill. We had to draw the thing out into the open again, get something we could see and touch and cut and set on fire. John handed me his lighter.

"You light some candles. I'll go stand in the shower naked."

Molly [NB: their dog] followed me as I went back to where we left the boom box and the other supplies. I lit a few candles around the house - just enough to make it spooky. John showered, I found another bathroom and washed the sludge off my shoes and feet.

"Oh, no!" I heard John say loudly over the running water. "The power has gone out and here I am in the shower! Alone! I'm so naked and vulnerable!"

Out of things to do, I walked around for a bit and eventually found a bedroom. I glanced at my watch, sighed, then lay down over the covers. It was almost four in the morning.

This could go on for hours, or days. Time. That's all they have. I heard Molly plump down on the floor below. I reached down to pet her and she licked my hand the way dogs do, me wondering why in the world they felt the need to do that. I've often thought about trying it the next time somebody got their fingers close to my mouth, like at the dentist.

John came back 20 minutes later, wearing what must have been the smallest towel he could find. He lowered his voice. "I think I saw a hatch for an attic earlier. I'm gonna see if there's room to crawl around up there, see if maybe there's a big scary-looking footlocker it can pop out of or somethin'."

I nodded. John raised his voice theatrically and said, "Oh, no. We are all alone here. I will go see if I can find help."

"Yes," I answered, loudly. "Perhaps we should split up."

Hilarious. The sheer fun of writing fiction.

Which reminds me--

Joseph the Infidel sent me a cordial email (thanks, man). I still think he needs to get his ass right back on that goddamn blog of his, and the above story reminded me of why: sometimes people write fiction just for the simple joy of writing it. Fuck everyone else; have fun!

OK... I can't afford to spend too much time in the PC-bahng, so I think I'll call it a night.


Saturday, May 29, 2004

my final post

...from this residence.

Yeah, you got scared for a second, there, didn't you.


A quick report:

1. Almost everything's packed. It took a bit longer than I expected, but I was also taking frequent breaks. I don't really have many possessions. They mostly break down into books, clothes, food, and toiletries. I'm happy to include, among those possessions, two wooden sculptures-- one of Bodhidharma with scarily huge eyes; another of some monk who's part of the "16 Na-han," or putative group of disciples of the Buddha (they're the "18 Lohan" in China). My Na-han looks like he's either screaming or about to puke tree bark.

2. My K'eun Adjoshi, who has gout, regrets being in too much pain to help me with anything. I'm not worried about that; I have so little stuff that it's no big deal to pack it all myself.

3. I'm leaving the computer on until Sunday morning, then I'm packing it away.

4. Adjoshi very kindly called a yohng-dahl service. These are small-scale movers who usually arrive with a midget flatbed truck to haul your mortal possessions to your next little cubbyhole. They're scheduled to arrive around 2PM, but Adjoshi warns me that they'll call before arrival. Guess I'd better be awake around 2PM, then.

In other news:

It seems Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire (link via Drudge).

Andi gets great mention over at Joe Perez's blog. I can't shake the feeling she's going to be famous. If she continues to make progress with her Korean, I could easily imagine her ending up on Korean TV. Maybe routinely. Maybe even authoring best-selling books on the order of Hyon-gak sunim's Man Haeng: From Harvard to Hwagye-sa.

The Marmot says what I want to hear: we may be shipping up to 12,000 troops out of Korea to Iraq. As one commenter points out, this is unfortunate for the troops themselves. I don't envy them their upcoming tour of duty in the desert badlands. At the same time, I see this as the inevitable wake-up call for South Koreans: you don't want us here, and we don't want to stay. So... bye!

Two blogger disappearances: (1) I can't find Annika, even though I've tried several times. (2) The Infidel seems to have vanished from cyberspace, but I suspect this is a deliberate move on his part. A shame: he'd just started blogging according to a schedule, and I was looking forward to a weekly dose of his fiction. I wonder whether this latest disappearance is the result of a dustup I saw over at Gweilo Diaries. Maybe; maybe not. Conrad and Joseph have had disagreements before, and Joseph's dealt with rough commenters before, so maybe this spat wasn't the primary cause for the blog-yanking. If it was, though, I disagree with Joseph's move to pull his blog. Why, man!? WHY??

Maybe the problem is that Joseph's ego isn't as big as mine.

See, Joseph, it works like this. At the bottom of the rung, you've got people with no ego at all. These people are so content that they have no need to say or do anything. They're like those pictures of Mahavira, standing still and naked for so long that they become entwined in the vines that start growing up their legs. That's egolessness.

Then you've got the people with a normal level of ego, and I think most of the blogosphere is in this category. They have something to say, they like knowing they're being read, but part of the pleasure is the ability to interact with their readership. These people retain enough of a sense of reality to like being in contact with others.

But rising above these two sorts of people are the idiots like me, whose egos are so inflated that any reaction, good or bad, is likely to inflate the ego further. What's more, people in this category live in such deep self-delusion that even a near-total lack of readership will somehow bolster their ego. I'm definitely in this category, what with my pitiful site traffic and paradoxically gleeful blogging. I write because I like the sound of my own voice. Or something like that.

So I suspect Joseph is in the second category. He actually cares. I could type my blog for monkeys and still be perfectly happy, but Joseph, as I recall, has wanted to (1) build community through a communal Koreablog, (2) cultivate a decent commenter culture on his blog, and (3) create a blog that offers a more rounded impression of who he is and what he can do. All of these are worthy goals; all of these require far less ego than I have. So if anything's doomed the Infidel, it's care.

My theory, for what it's worth.

Regarding scheduling out one's blogging time:

I'd like to think I began this scheduling meme back on March 1st, but I suspect there have been "schedulebloggers" since the beginning of the Blogging Era, and many people who've caught on to scheduling themselves since March 1st will probably claim they arrived at their decision on their own, dammit.

I'm in schedule freefall right now, but am mulling a move to a 10- or 14-day cycle to accommodate some other interests: along with forcing myself to write on Buddhism and interreligious dialogue, I need to do what the nice lady at Kangmi does, and display my own progress in both Korean and Chinese. If I'm too poor to take classes, the least I can do is review shit on my own and in public. I've also been mulling a reverse translation of Hyon-gak sunim's book back into English; it's not currently available in English, to my knowledge, and I badly need to improve my Korean reading ability. I'll do this as a simultaneous public service and copyright violation (actually, I should just walk up to Hyon-gak at temple the next time I'm there and simply ask his permission).

I'd also like to fit in a day or two for more humor writing, and while I don't think the comic strip has caught on with my readership (or, to be honest, with me), I might do some foul stories with illustrations. That tapeworm story was inspiring.

I might also want to fit in some extra "anything goes"-type days. All of this makes the two-week cycle (either 10 or 14 days) seem like a reasonable move to make. In fact, a 14-day cycle might fit nicely with the lunar cycle, come to think of it... will have to mull this over.

In geek news:

Check out for all the Star Wars-related news you can handle. The dude who runs GGNet goes by the handle "SuperShadow," claims to be a personal friend of George Lucas, but until recently has been bashing Lucas mercilessly. Why? Because while the third Star Wars film of the new trilogy (the movie's title is known to SuperShadow-- or so he says-- but he's not telling) looks like it's going to kick ass, Lucas is apparently introducing changes that will increase the film's overall EFF (Equine Fellatio Factor-- see here).

For those who follow Star Wars lore, and I'm only a low-level geek in this field of study, it's widely known that several things are supposed to happen in the final film of the new trilogy:

1. Luke and Leia, who are fraternal twins, have to be born, and their mother (Padme) probably has to die.

2. Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker have to have the major fight that results in both Anakin's disfigurement and his need for life-supporting body armor with that creepy breathing noise.

3. Luke has to end up on Tatooine, and Leia has to end up with a foster father on Alderaan (the planet that gets destroyed in the first movie of the old trilogy).

4. The Jedi Order has to be exterminated, and this will be done with help from Anakin.

The new trilogy gave us a few new characters as well as a younger, more vigorous Emperor-to-be in Darth Sidious (the same actor who played the original decrepit Emperor in "Return of the Jedi," Ian McDiarmid). The plots of "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones" therefore leave geeks with a few other expectations, almost all of them having to do with fights we'd like to see.

1. We know Mace Windu (Samuel Jackson's character) has to die. We know this because (a) the Jedi will be "all but extinct" by the time "A New Hope" begins, and (b) there's a "Black Guy Dies" rule in almost all American sci-fi movies. Things just aren't right unless the black dude gets it, and hopefully he gets it in a spectacular way, because DAMN, Hollywood fucking hates black folks.

[On a serious note: I do sincerely think Hollywood is one of our most racist institutions. Blacks are, for the most part, portrayed on screen as either great sinners or great saints/wisdom figures, with very few rules in majority-white films allowing them to be "normal." I think Hollywood stands as the ultimate symbol of Limousine Liberalism, which pays lip service to black causes but basically fucks black folks over like many other institutions do. You know-- like Texaco. If you think we live in a color-blind society... just trust me that we don't. Living in Korea as I do, and having experienced some form of racism here on a daily basis, I've begun to understand, just a weeeeee bit, what the black experience is like in America. It's easy to see why there's an Angry Black Man stereotype. Racism can piss you off after a while. Black folks have a reason to be angry, because racism's alive and well. This doesn't mean I disagree with Bill Cosby's recent speech; I think the man's on to something. But what we're talking about is a deeply rooted problem in our society. Thank God we're at least talking about it and trying to do something about it. OK, back to geekery--]

The rumor is that Mace Windu will face off against both Anakin and Sidious. Mace needs to shout the Klingon war cry, "Today is a good day to die!" That, or he needs to point at Sidious while screaming at Anakin, "Does-- he-- look-- like-- a-- BITCH!?"

2. Yoda and Sidious/Palpatine have to fight, because Sidious is going to reveal his evil designs and declare himself emperor, and who but the most powerful Jedi on the Jedi Council has the huge, green, two-ton testicles to stop him? We know how such a fight will end: neither party will kill the other. I'm hearing that Yoda might lose the fight, but I'm unclear on the specifics.

3. It's possible that Anakin, now Vader in black armor, will have a lightsaber combat scene.

Items (2) and (3) have caused an uproar in geekdom because, if I read the scuttlebutt right, Lucas has already "filmed" an amazing CGI fight between Yoda and Sidious... but is thinking about pulling it from the movie. The "mechanical Vader fight," as it's being called, is up in the air right now. Some fans are of the opinion that (3) is more important than (2), but I see it the other way: I don't need to watch a mechanical Vader in action-- if there is such a scene, the superior fight choreography by Nick Gillard will make the painfully slow fight scene in "A New Hope" look even lamer than it already does.

One thing we're all looking forward to is the titanic fight between Anakin and Ben Kenobi-- the highlight of the new film. We know Anakin's going to lose badly. We don't care. The rumor mill says that this fight scene will be not only the longest lightsaber duel in all the Star Wars films, but also the longest movie fight scene ever. The very thought makes my nipple hairs ripple and writhe like Sargasso seaweed. The fight is supposed to incorporate "several Jedi fighting styles," which means choreographer Nick Gillard has been working overtime to provide some amazing visuals. I think his work on the previous Star Wars fights has been superlative; I'd match him up against Yuen Wo-ping any day.

In fact, if SuperShadow's to be believed, the third film is basically a porn movie, with a series of major fights instead of sex scenes. The GGNet plot synopsis mentions the following fights:

1. Space battle featuring Kenobi and Anakin (on the same side) fighting the Separatists.

2. Anakin and Kenobi vs. General Grievous, an alien cyborg who isn't a Jedi but can fight with four lightsabers, thanks to splittable robotic arms.

3. Anakin vs. Dooku, who gets disarmed (literally) and beheaded.

4. Anakin and Sidious versus Mace Windu.

5. Kenobi vs. General Grievous, with Grievous getting killed.

6. Major ground combat on Chewbacca's homeworld of Kashyyyk.

7. Kenobi vs. Anakin, with Anakin losing big-time.

8. Mechanical Vader...?

End geekery.

So now this post comes to a close. I move into my hasuk-jip on Sunday afternoon, and will be blogging from a PC-bahng (augh!) unless/until I get DSL set up in my new cloister. I'm looking around my current digs now, and can honestly say I feel no great remorse at moving, aside from the fact that I won't have my own bathroom while in the hasuk. We coprophiles do our best rectal work in private and with no time constraints. My art suffers when I'm in the public domain. And when I suffer, you suffer.

One last note-- I lost track of American holidays. It's Memorial Day weekend in the States now. Take time out to spare some thoughts, and some silence, for those who've served and died. We armchair debaters have to remember who provides us the luxury to argue from the armchair. So while you're at it, spare some thoughts, and some silence, for those in the armed services who are alive and serve us still. All they ask is for us to be worthy of them and what they do.


the only argument you need

Why is capitalism better than communism? Take a fucking look. Guess whose lights are out.

bitch all you want:  North Korea SUCKS

It boggles my mind that people make excuses for North Korea, shifting blame elsewhere, blaming the weather for the floods and famine that have caused massive death there (as opposed to blaming a stupid administration and shot-to-hell infrastructure that would've made these deaths preventable), blaming the rest of the world-- including South Korea, mind you-- for not sufficiently feeding its ungrateful fucking face.

Just a friendly reminder that NK is living in the Dark Ages. Yeah, I'm directing this at you South Korean college kids who persist in the fantasy that those're your brothers up north. Take a look at the lack of electricity. Do you think your warm and fuzzy sentiments are sweeping over the general populace by TV and the internet? Yeah. Right. Ask yourselves why it is that the South Korean government (with the frequent collusion of countries like mine) dumps money, food, and fuel into a pit like North Korea and gets absolutely jack shit in return.

Just so we're clear: if the North gets desperate and decides the time has come to bum rush Seoul, this is one half-Korean who won't be opening his arms to his "brothers." No; I'll be looking for a firearm to drill as many holes in foreheads as I can. If you're a dove, I'm sorry to offend your delicate sensibilities, but I think being a dove is its own form of pernicious absolutism. If someone's about to hurt or kill your family, will you sit on the sidelines weeping, "Peace, peace, peace!"? Not me. I've got Korean relatives here worth defending. Korean friends worth dying for, too. There is absolutely no way I can equate the North Korean rushing at me with my relatives and friends. And I'll demonstrate the clarity of my perspective with my aim.


Friday, May 28, 2004

as my anus says: it all works out in the end

When I get angry, my ears and cheeks get red and feel hot. I think this happened this evening, even though I was perversely enjoying myself.

I've blogged before about Jang-woong's #2 older sister Mi-young, here and here. She's going to a conference tomorrow to hear some American academic spew more propaganda about how America's an empire. She printed out that academic's paper (Dr. Amy Somebody or Other, apparently big in her field, which appears to be American Studies), and asked me to read it over and help her develop some post-presentation questions (read: provide her with some questions) for the prof.

This was bizarre: I was being asked to do this despite the fact that Mi-young knows I don't agree with her political views. But she beamed and told me, "You're the perfect person to make questions because you're critical!" I didn't really buy that, though, and as time went on, I saw I was right: Mi-young and her mother (who speaks excellent English) got into a typical "old conservative vs. young liberal" debate, and at several points Mi-young groused to her mother that she wanted to be able to ask questions that reflected her own point of view. I stopped reading and told her that that was a good idea. Mi-young nevertheless wanted me to continue formulating critical questions.

Both Mi-young and her mother thought, based on my previous critique of Mi-young's own paper (see the links above), that I was a strong conservative (or "rightist," as both ladies said). I suppose I appear this way to people far out on the left, but I think of myself as either apolitical, or moderate at best. Tonight, it seems my views were closer to Mi-young's mother's than to Mi-young's.

I guess what upset me was sitting face-to-face with someone who held the kind of views espoused by lefty papers like the Hankyoreh, listening to silliness like "America has killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein has," and so forth. It didn't help that the mother-daughter debate was happening while I was reading a truly frothing-lefty paper whose point of departure was the fundamental thesis, articulated by Edward Said, that the West's dominance is the equivalent of rape (read Said's Orientalism if you think I'm kidding, then do yourself a favor and read Bernard Lewis's critique of Said in Lewis's Islam and the West-- Chapter 6, I think). Dr. Amy Whatshername's paper was shot through with Said-isms, Foucaultian polemic about power, and that awful, awful swear word used by postmodernists to describe the problem with general conclusions, ahistoricality. Her paper also ranted on and on about empire, empire, empire, without once defining what she meant by the word. Sloppy.

A lot of tonight's discussion, which I got sucked into several times while I was reading Dr. Amy X's paper, revolved around Guantanamo. Dr. Amy makes the point that Guantanamo has become, for the rest of the world, a symbol of American injustices and empire. Dr. Amy concludes her paper with the mad speculation that the entire world might become one huge Guantanamo-- a sort of "ambiguous space" where it's not quite clear what the lines of authority and jurisdiction are, but nevertheless an area that serves the United States' hegemonic designs. I told Mi-young this was baloney. I'm not a fan of slippery-slope arguments, whether employed by the right (cf. my post on gay marriage) or by the left. Life doesn't usually occur at the extremes.

Mi-young spouted about how degrading it is, nowadays, that foreigners are having to be fingerprinted in America. I quietly (but gleefully, and with ears ablaze) noted that, here in Korea, foreigners who expect to get their residence cards are also fingerprinted, and that, years ago, I remember one American complaining about how degrading that experience felt (full disclosure: for me, when I was fingerprinted years back, I thought nothing of it).

Tonight, I was supposed to teach Mi-young's sister, Yeon-ju, the woman to whom I usually teach TOEFL English. But when I got to Yeon-ju's apartment this evening, she turned me around and sent me over to Mi-young's place (they live in the same apartment complex, but in different buildings). As I said earlier, this is the land of sudden changes in plans.

Next item:

It all works out in the end.

Earlier in the day, I did another walk-through of the area by Korea University and headed over to a hasuk-jip I hadn't visited before. The lady was very nice and took me inside to see two of her rooms, one upstairs on the fourth floor, and one in the basement. Both rooms looked mighty cramped, but that can't be helped: hasuk rooms are generally small.

I'll be paying W370,000 a month for my cubbyhole, and I was cautioned not to "leave at a bad time." Here's how the adjumma explained it: if I leave right as the semester is beginning, it's unlikely that students will come along and rent the room, so it'll be empty (and not earning any money) for a couple months. Students usually settle in before a given semester begins, with some time to spare. So she told me it's OK to stay for two or three months, but if I leave around late September or sometime in October, that's bad news. I'm welcome to stay until Christmas, though: that wouldn't trouble the adjumma at all.

I appreciated her frankness. She seems very nice, and so does the adjoshi, with whom I spoke on the phone. I'll be moving in on Sunday; I need Saturday in order to figure out how the fuck I'm getting rid of my huge refrigerator, and what I'm going to do with my large table-- the one on which my computer currently resides.

Hasuk-jip rooms don't come with their own bathrooms; the facilities are public-- showers, too. Luckily, I'll be living in the half-basement area, which has only four rooms in the narrow hallway, and two bathrooms. It shouldn't be that bad, so long as no one is a bathroom-hogger. To be honest, I might become the bathroom-hogger, since I prefer to take long, luxurious, stanky shits. My hallmates are gonna hate me. I need to give myself a nickname, something to lend a little oomph to whatever bad intestinal reputation I earn. Maybe "Blaster." Or maybe hang-mun ki-hap (i.e., anal kiai).

I'm going to try to prevail on the hasuk adjumma to allow me to have DSL in my room, despite the fact that I won't be there more than a couple months, tops. I'm hoping she'll be OK with this. She seems reasonable.

Once I got everything arranged with the hasuk, I called my #3 Adjumma and cancelled on her. She doesn't need to prepare for my arrival (I'm sure she's relieved), and I don't need to worry about a two-hour commute to work. I also called K'eun Adjoshi; he griped that I should've talked to him before drawing up a contract with the hasuk adjumma. I told him not to worry, but inside I was resentful: he gave me so little time to prepare for this move that I seriously doubt he could have found a better deal within a week.

So everything's set. By Sunday evening, I'll be in a new, cramped place, with boxes, suitcases, hanger stands, books, and bookcases leaving me barely enough room for a bed. I'll have to take some pics of my cloister. But while the living conditions won't be quite as spacious, at least I won't have to worry about hearing, "Turn your fan off! It might catch on fire!"

In the meantime, hats off to Wooj, who actually suggested that I should check into a hasuk-jip. It all works out in the end.


sudden change in plans!

No, I won't be staying where I am, but I'm still seeking something closer to my current location. I might end up stuffing my large self into a goshi-tel for a month or two (or maybe a hasuk, which is arguably better, but still not ideal), until I can find some real digs. The more I thought about it, the more I realized:

1. I'd really rather have my own space, even if it's a cramped and rented space.

2. I don't want to turn what is currently a 40-minute commute (a walk to Dolgoji Station, three stops on the subway, and then a 20- to 25-minute walk to campus) into a nearly two-hour commute by moving back down south to Karak-dong.

3. I've bothered my relatives too much as it is. My #3 Adjumma came through for me in the 90s by letting me stay in the empty rooftop apartment of her building (she and #3 Adjoshi are the landlords there); my #4 Adjoshi let me stay at his apartment in Suji for the better part of a year; and finally, my #1 Adjoshi is the one who allowed me to stay at my current abode for so cheap. Enough's enough.

I've got until about 4PM before I need to go teach some classes. I'm going to keep house-hunting, and might continue on Saturday. Although my search was fairly fruitless on Wednesday, I was also not really allowing myself the goshi-tel/hasuk options, hoping in vain that I might find a weol-loom (a "one-room," something like a studio apartment) that charged only a tiny deposit. Dream on, Kevin.

FYI: a goshi-tel is a dead-quiet, quasi-dorm environment for students taking major tests (goshi, with "shi" being the same character found in the generic word for test, shi-heom). Generally, the rule of silence is pretty strict, but I've never lived in one before, so all I know is what I remember from touring through some goshi-tel in 2002. Rent at these places varies wildly. I visited some goshi-tel where the rent was about W80,000/month for a tiny little room (barely enough room for a small bed, and floor space to turn around in tight little circles), and other places where a slightly larger room cost around W200,000/month. I don't know whether goshi-tel have rules about who can stay there-- one question I need to resolve is whether I can store my stuff in an extra room, or whether these rooms are reserved only for students. I saw some goshi-tel rooms in which the occupants had pretty much set up camp: huge piles of clothes and books everywhere, makeshift clotheslines to suspend drying laundry and various knick-knacks. It would be a cramped life, but it'd be only for a couple months.

A hasuk (or hasuk-jip) is a type of boarding house. Monthly rent (is "rent" the proper term here?) used to be around W350,000/month in the mid-90s, but I think it's closer to W500,000/month these days. A hasuk's owner, usually an adjumma, will provide meals (generally two meals a day) and laundry service for the price of rent. Not a bad option, and the room is generally a bit larger than what you'd find in a goshi-tel, though it's still pretty cramped.

Keep the tentacles and antennae crossed. By the way: if things look a bit zig-zaggy here, cut me some slack: I got my notice to move last week. As my brother David said, this is Korea-- land of sudden changes in plan. If you're going to adapt, you need to learn how to roll with it.



Best web site name ever.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

all life is characterized by missed punts

Check out this article in The Revealer on "The First Noble Truth of Charlie Brown," which covers Buddhist and Christian elements in Charles Schultz's oeuvre.


STENCH, redux

Justin Yoshida over at Cosmic Buddha wrote a superlative scatological post titled Stench. Here's the link. What I'd like to do here is outright thievery, but it's worth the bad karma: I'm going to reproduce, for your reading pleasure, the comment thread appended to Stench. Be sure to read Justin's post first, otherwise this will feel like an inside joke.

First, Justin's brother Adam writes:

This post has "Big Hominid" written all over it. It must have been quite a loaf for you to find it noteworthy. I mean, you didn't even mention to me that there were floating pieces of shit in the "ass washing basin" (they didn't have TP) after we used that toilet in rural Thailand, on the way to Laos. Now that was some fucked up repugnant shit!

Next, Justin responds:

Well, I did have Kevin in mind when I was writing it. It's half tribute and half prayer to the porcelain goddess to help him find a new home today. I guess we shall see if "brown power" lives up to its reputation.

Then I chime in:

The shit-kami were in good form, leaping across the ocean, ducking under Korean border sentries and guiding my fortune, blasting the demons of pessimism with Ultimate Brown Power. I now have a temporary place of residence at my #3 Adjumma's house (she's the wife of one of my mother's four cousins). So thank you for your asshole's warm and steaming prayer.

Yes, indeed-- this was a most worthy post. Most worthy. I just about shat in accidental tribute to your literary (and rectal) prowess.

But I've changed my mind about hanging out with you guys. If staying overnight at Justin's place means putting up with glowing, ki-infused megashit (I can see the animé dung monster in my head), I think I'd rather tuck myself into a cramped little kapsuro. Heh.

I read the post about rap, and just thought of a name for a Japanese rap group: ANAL KIAI.

Then Justin replies with a classic:

Good to hear you found a temporary pad, Kev. The power of poop never ceases to amaze.

Anal Kiai. Now that's fucking rad. I might have to cut a track with my pal Taro and name it thus.

Forlorn and forsaken, he walked the earth with nothing but his lucky marmot's foot and a pocketful of anal kiai.

I love it. The Yoshida brothers are fucking nuts. Yes, Garlic Eaters and Damn Japs can get along.

UPDATE: Courtesy of the awesome Poop Report site and blog, this stranger-than-fiction account of what it's like to have a tapeworm living inside you... and then what it's like to go to the doctor, get some medicine, kill the tapeworm, and face the ugly task of removing the tapeworm from your person. I busted a gut reading this, and hope to hell I never acquire a tapeworm of my own.

Also, check out a Poop Report blog post on how to create a USB turd.


more jjang for the buck

Many thanks to the KimcheeGI, who provides me a link to Antti's blog-- the only post you'll ever need to read on the word jjang, mentioned in my previous entry. Looks like I was mostly right. Whew.


Who's a daddy?

Probably more apropos on NakedVillainy, but what the hell. The title of BH's last post got me thinking. MaxLead over at Naked Villainy and I both have arrivals on the way. MaxLead with his third kid, first son, in less than a month. My wife and I are expecting Kid#2 (daughter #2) several weeks later. SmallHolder's child #2 follows in the fall. I know Carpemundi here has kids too. Wouldn't surprise me if he has a package on the way too.

2004 is a fertile year. A Close friend led the way in November with his 3rd kid. This year many, many of our friends have procreated. I wonder what it is? Something in the water? were there chemicals in 2003 that made us hornier than usual? Rather, did something make our wives hornier than usual? Maybe last years batch of condoms were defective.

Who knows.

Carpemundi responds to AirMarshall: My son is about to turn three, and my daughter just turned 6 months, having been born on 12 November. I think all of us just got off to a late start with the breeding and are trying to make up time.

who's yer daddy?

I just walked in the door from my day at SWU. As I was schlepping across our itty-bitty courtyard, one of the girls from the house above where I live shouted out to me from her window, "Adjoshi! We saw you on TV!" I sheepishly responded, "Yeah, me and my bad Korean." But she was all smiles. "Where were you that day?" I said I was in Anyang, at the big Zen center. She smiled wider and said, "Adjoshi jjang i-ya!"

I'm not sure what the best translation of "jjang" is. I tend to think it's a slangy way to say "best." It can be used alone as an exclamation (Andi recalls hearing supportive cries of "jjang!" when she did well on her komdo belt test), and finds itself in other expressions like the recent "mohm-jjang adjumma," literally, "body-best adjumma"-- i.e., those women who are no longer in their twenties but keep themselves in scarily good shape (Brian had a great post on this a while back, with a photo of a woman I'd more crudely describe as a MILF-- a mom I'd like to fuck).

I guess a more or less natural-sounding idiomatic translation of what the upstairs girl said to me might be, "Adjoshi, you rock!", which doesn't sound quite as corny as "Adjoshi, you're the best!" I'll defer to the true Korean experts on this, though. I've never actually seen the word in a dictionary. Please write in if you've got a better rendering than "you rock," keeping in mind that my translation of "jjang" would vary according to context: I'm aware it wouldn't mean "you rock" in other situations.

Anyway, this TV thing... my infamy grows. Like an especially mean colon polyp.


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

caught between the sagging crone-tits of a dilemma

No, nothing deep-- I just happened to like that image. Other images I wish we used more often:

speared on the icy dick of fate

tossed about inside the ball-sac of chance

trapped inside the moist ass of confusion

suffocating in the vagina of doubt

impaled on the stiff nipples of inevitability

licked by the leprous tongue of poverty

skull-fucked by desire

smothered by the perineum of ignorance

beaten about the face by the clitoral hood of jealousy

smashed to pulp by the boulder-like testicles of predestination

Okay, maybe that last one was over the top.


stopgap measure

A brief conversation with my #3 Adjumma netted me a temporary residence and a place to put most of my stuff. I'm still looking for housing, am in limbo about Ehwa University and other job opportunities, and am probably going to be condemned to a PC-bahng life again for the duration-- at least until I get steady work. A university job would be sweet. If you know of a college that could use someone with my skills-- I can teach French and English, a survey course in world religions as well as courses on interreligious issues and religious pluralism (and I'd love to teach a course in "English through drama")-- give my fat ass an email. Adult students, please; I've taught children and teens in large groups, and would rather not go through that shit again.

Post scriptum: Today's wanderings took me to Bonghwa-san, Kon-dae, Go-dae, and right around my own neighborhood. Yes, there's housing available, but it's either too small and dilapidated or the rental deposit (bo-jeung-geum) is way beyond my means. I even stopped into a rental office that happened to be open (almost everything is closed today) while I was in the Bonghwa-san area. The guy heard my story and shook his head: nope. You need to be carrying about $4500 on you before you can even strike up a deal.

Anyway, thank goodness I have so many relatives here.


out and about today

...but first, some notes.

My centipede has company again: I found another centipede, one almost as big as my battle-scarred veteran. They haven't killed each other yet, but they obviously fought at least once while I was away: I saw a couple of legs scattered across the bottom of the plastic container. I did a leg count, and those legs all come from the newcomer. I repeat: my centipede kicks ass.

Today is the Buddha's birthday, seok-ga t'anshin-il (Sakyamuni's Birthday), or bu-ch'eo-nim oshin-nal (The Day the Buddha Came), and it's a national holiday-- even a Christian school like Seoul Women's University has the day off.

[Note to Joel: The "Big B" is probably around 2550 years old by Korean reckoning, plus or minus a couple years.]

Contrary to expectations, I'm not spending today going around observing Buddhist events. Instead, I have to hop all over town to view some possible properties. Timing on all this sucks major donkey balls, but there's little I can do about it-- I got the orders to move last Thursday; I can't afford to cancel any of my day or night classes, and I sure as hell can't wait until Saturday to check properties because I have to be outta here by Sunday. Today is my only free day to find a place to move. If I don't find a place, I'll have to leave my possessions with a relative and go live somewhere cheap, like a goshi-tel, until I find an actual place.

I'll be spending my evening finishing up some packing.

A quick parcours...

Dr. Hodges, who introduced me to Dr. Vallicella's main website, writes in to Dr. Vallicella's blog re: the flap over delicate sensibilities, scatology's compatibility with intellectualism, etc.

Folks (i.e., all y'all mothafuckas) just need to calm down. If people are offended by my blog's content, that's not enough to make me change how I blog. If they feel they're having to "pick through" the chaff to get at what interests them, then my response is that we do this all the time with most of our daily reads; there's nothing unique in this, so yes, in a sense one does have to "get used" to this situation. I don't read an entire newspaper; I avoid the shit that doesn't interest me. I don't always appreciate everything I see on other folks' blogs (I get impatient when Steven Den Beste devotes his energies to long-ass posts about animé, for instance), but if it's a blog I like and read often, I'm willing to put up with quirkiness.

So let's adopt a "warts and all" policy about the blogs we frequent: no blog will ever conform perfectly to my expectations, but if I generally like it (which of course isn't the same as agreeing with its content), then I'll like it warts and all. This is an overall liking, not an attempt to ignore bothersome details. I'm still entitled to despise a blog's warts, but if it's a blog I frequent, there's little use airing complaints about the warts. I can't change them; I can't get other folks to agree on how to define "warts"; and if they're part of the daily scenery, I might never come to love them, but I can at least learn not to bellyache about them. (It's a bit like forgiving your spouse's stinky morning breath, annoying habits, and that goddamn mole on her otherwise-sexy neck.)

[Dr. Hodges notes that he reads my blog daily. Thank you for your faithful readership.]

In other news...

Andi's adopted a cat, an act roughly coinciding with an increase in the number of pics to appear on her blog. Is she morphing into Korea Life Blog? Only time will tell! Have fun out at Musang-sa, Andi! And post pics of the kitty.

Andi also gives some major props to my buddy Mike and his blog, Naked Villainy:

Naked Villainy is a round-the-clock roundtable on politics. To quote the villainous mission statement itself: "A blog dedicated to the dissemination of the Maximum Leader's (and his Ministers') thoughts and comments. And the medium by which your Maximum Leader will begin the Mike World Order (or MWO)." Great stuff, a variety of political opinions from across the spectrum, and best of all: a villainous sense of humor. Yes! Bring on the Mike World Order! (BTW, Dad, I recommend you read this blog.)

I tend to think Naked Villainy is a more relaxed, friendlier version of Tacitus. Thanks to the Air Marshal's recent posts, it's also become quite the forum about alcohol.

Annika awards me my second Huge Comment of the Week Award (an oak leaf cluster next to my name, which I've promised to pin proudly to my scrotum). The award-winning comment is appended to this post.

Annika also links to someone claiming that the Chernobyl biker chick is a hoaxer.

A guest poster on Carpemundi's blog Cerebral Bypass, Brian, tells an excellent tale of adventure on the high seas: a child in danger, a lurking monster, and the classic threat, "I'm gonna break my foot in your ass."

Ryan warns us not to fuck with bodhisattvas, and has scriptural evidence for his warning.

OK, folks... gotta run. Probably won't be blogging any more today, except perhaps to give you a centipede update if something awful happens.


SBS offers a glimpse of Hominid

According to the KimcheeGI (and while you're at it, check out his Lotus Lantern Festival post and pics), I was on TV this evening (Tuesday, that is) and didn't even know it. I assume this Hominidal appearance was a snippet from an impromptu interview done at the Hanmaeum Zen Center on Saturday-- during the lunch recess, an unidentified dude with a camera caught me, Andi, and Andi's friend (so I assume Andi and friend were also on TV today). I can only apologize to all Koreans for my truly despicable Korean, and to all expats who watched my idiotic performance with more than a little embarrassment-- for themselves as well as for me. Just be happy I didn't pull any faces. Had I done that, one of you white folks would've tracked me down and killed me in a fit of "white-on-off-white" violence. Heh.


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

don't trust your fucking counter

It'd be nice to average closer to 200 unique visits a day, but I know I don't. I'm probably closer to the 100 mark. Today, my counter seems more fucked up than usual. Take a look at the numbers:

They never thought we'd get this far.

It's been reading "0" since this morning, which simply isn't normal. I usually get at least one curious bungwipe per hour, if not more. It's possible that I really haven't had any visitors for a long stretch, but the probability is so low that I'm more suspicious of the counter software than of lackluster readership. Another reason for suspicion is the daily average. As you see in the above screen shot, it reads 161, but look at the graph of my weeky traffic:

They never thought we'd get this far.

Not a single peak in the graph goes above 156. How, then, is SiteMeter calculating a 161 average?

Don't trust your counters, folks. They mean very little. As a result, sites that rely on traffic counters and linkage data, like, are generally bullshit except for dealing with huge differences in traffic and links. If you've got a counter on your site that "ticks up" a point every single time you hit the "refresh" button on your browser, then you've got inflated numbers: your counter's making no distinction between unique visits and page views. SiteMeter, to its credit, makes such distinctions, but apparently it's having an off day today. Beware the data collectors. They skew perceptions.

Don't trust any program over 30K.


Dr. doCarmo strikes

My buddy Steve doCarmo (he of the tenure track position at a college in Bucks County, PA) wrote a novel a while back, and now he's got a sample of it online, right here. I had the privilege of reading his novel, The Shaker, during its draft stages, and even offered poor Steve a 20-page critique. Unlike me, Steve has no ego, so he took the critiques in stride, made some changes according to those critiques, then made a slew of extra changes, and is now shopping around for a publisher. I highly recommend that you give his sample a read, and if you're in the publishing biz, think seriously about taking a gander at Steve's ms. I found The Shaker to be quite fun, a wild goose chase that's as much inside the protag's befuddled, excitable head as happening around him.


Monday, May 24, 2004

pooling ideas

Anyone in Seoul got some idea where a guy can obtain the following?

1. studio apartment or "weol-loom"/one-room
2. own bathroom (not communal)
3. enough room for bed plus two tables and a few bookshelves
4. maybe some closet space
5. a kitchenette might be nice (plus fridge; if not, I've got a huge one)
6. rent WITHOUT key money (can't afford it)
7. rent no higher than about W500,000 a month

Feel free to write in if you think you know of a place. The thing that sucks most about this situation is the timing: I don't know yet whether I've got a job at Ehwa, so I don't know whether it'd be a good idea to move to that part of town (which isn't a cheap area). I'm scouring the Net now and will be talking to one of my dependable Adjummas tomorrow (Tuesday) for advice. She might know of something either near where she lives (way southeast in Karak-dong) or elsewhere. We'll see. Personally, I'd prefer not to move down to where she lives, but I might not have much choice. I have to be out of here by this coming Sunday. Hmmmmm. This is beginning to annoy me.


Sunday, May 23, 2004

"Troy": the review-- in one word



BH, English Teachers, and nastiness

Big Hominid rang some bells with his last post.

First of all, Dr. V in generall didn't piss ME off with his take on BH's humor. BH's humor is kind of out there, and for most people reading this, you know and love it. I suppose Dr. V pointed out there is a second class of people who read this blog for BH's philo/religions discussion. Fine. Get used to the nastiness. It's fun and liberating.

Take a random reader's review of BH's book taken from

This is arguably THE definitive work in the field of disgusting scatological humor. Nowhere else will the reader find the broad variety of takes on the field of poop and its impact on our lives, and the lives of those around us. If you laughed at Mr. Hanky, but wanted more, then this is the book for you. Strap yourself in, and prepare for a journey unlike any other. The author provides a unique perspective (usually from within the septic tank) that more adventurous readers may find refreshing. If your tastes run towards the "Family Circle" side of the spectrum, then you may want to think twice... or maybe not. Maybe this is exactly what you need to liberate your sense of humor.

The High brow and low brow is all part and pacel of the same package. If you have a problem with it, then it's YOUR problem, not BH's, and certainly not mine.

What got my goat was the boomercentric view of BH's humor. If it's bad, it must be because of Boomers and evaluated in terms of Boomers. Piss on Boomers. BH's humor has nothing to do with Boomers at all. Remember, this is the generation that gave us BOTh Bill Clinton And Dubya. Ooooh there's a wonderful track record. Piss on Boomers.

BH also touches on English teachers. BH and I were in mostly the same English classes throughout High School. BH remembers that Ms. Oxley used to laugh at his humor. The only thing I remember about Ms. Oxley is that most males were trashed in the grade book. I remember a string of B-'s, regardless of the quality I turned in. By the end of 10th grade, I'd whip something out in 5 minutes on my Atari PC at home, and turn it in, knowing I'd get a B-. Since a weeks worth of hard work would also result in a B-, what was the point. Most girls got A's in that class. Most of us with a Y Chromosome got B-'s or lower.

I also remember that BH served as a psuedo-TA in that class for whatever reason.

If memory serves, the individual who I think is Carpemundi here, as well as a third person and I, all tested out of the Vocab lessons, and were tested from the 11th grade book. Any English class where I am a track ahead of BH is screwed up royally. That, in and of itself, is argument enough against Ms. Oxley's quality as an educator.

I do remember a series of childish pranks in Ms. Oxley's class. Covering her chair with chalk, turning all the desks upside down, and having the entire class sit on the undersides of chairs, dangling books out of the window, writing nastiness on the chalkboards. Those are just the ones I was invovled in. A classmate named SAM, who was a close friend of Max Leader, BH, and myself used to help orchestrate pranks.

Ah, the good old days.

friend update

First item:

Good call, Carpemundi! In the post just below this one, Carpemundi, with the help of an online bug guide, conjectures that my little beast is either a centipede or a millipede, and probably not a silverfish.

The results are in: I've got a house centipede. If you click the links, you'll see pictures that show exactly what's inside my plastic container.

I thought I knew centipedes. One reason why I resisted the centipede label is that, when I envision centipedes, I usually think of them as "twistier" and "turnier" than what I have (see here and here and here, for example). My centipede tends to keep its body straight; it zooms and zips around like a silverfish when it's agitated.

Thanks for the online resource and research, Carpemundi. I'm going to stick that link in my sidebar (interestingly, the guide advertises itself as a reference for North American insects-- but it seemed quite helpful in identifying a Korean specimen).

Second item:

A positively thunderous response from the Maximum Leader re: Dr. Vallicella's answer to a reader, Mr. Mangan. The Maximum Leader makes reference to my previous post quoting both Mr. Mangan and Dr. Vallicella, and says the following:

Your Maximum Leader was not upset with Dennis Mangan, but with Dr. Vallicella. You see Mr. Mangan's delicate sensibilities appear to be unsettled when he reads some of the scatological writings of my good friend, Kevin. He states that Kevin's blog is "not a blog I want to read."

Fine. He looked over Kevin's site and decided that it was not for him. Great! But what really sticks in your Maximum Leader's craw was Dr. Vallicella's response. Your Maximum Leader will summarize it thus: "Yeah, Kevin is a really bright guy who can comment intelligently on philosophical matters. But, all this potty humour is better relegated to somewhere where I wouldn't have to sift through it to get the good stuff. And by the way, I only linked to him because he linked to me."

What a sad response.

It is as if Dr. Vallicella was embarrassed for providing the link on his site. Dr. Vallicella was apologizing for upsetting Mr. Mangan's sensibilities by providing a link to Kevin's site. And at the same time he was trying not to offend Kevin, who is after all just being authentically Kevin.

Kevin's site is Kevin's site. You take it for what it is, or you don't visit. One thing that is so appealing about it is the very fact that it is both highbrow and scatological. Your Maximum Leader cannot think of another site quite like it. And that is its charm. You read it (or choose not to read it) for what it is.

I really had no clue that Dr. V's quote would provoke such ire in my friends (though to be honest, I've heard the Air Marshal gripe about Boomers before, and maybe I should've known better). I want to thank both Mike and Dave for their responses, but I really wasn't offended by either Dr. V's thoughts or Mr. Mangan's sentiments.

A little history:

I started posting online in 1997, when I subscribed to AOL. There was an area in AOLspace called The Amazing Instant Novelist (keyword: NOVEL) that acted as a forum for writers. AIN was subdivided into message board areas like Poetry, Short Stories, Opinion ("the Soapbox," as it was called), and Humor. Back in 1997, AIN's message boards had a 4000-character limit and very archaic posting mechanisms. There were other constraints, too: the boards were policed by staffers whose screen names all had the prefix NOVL. AOL, for those who haven't realized this yet, is one enormous police state. Most boards on AOLspace are regularly patrolled.

I started off in the Poetry area, but my "decompoesy," as I liked to call it, earned the ire of the NOVL monitors and of fellow posters (most of whom were exhibiting the conformist, prisoner-like behaviors cited in the Stanford Prison Experiment). A lot of this was no different from the eye-rolling, prissy sentiments I encountered from various English teachers in high school, chief among them being Mrs. Jones, a very nice, somewhat prudish woman who, just like Dr. Vallicella, was convinced I was wasting my time (Ms. Oxley, on the other hand, busted a gut whenever she read my gross short stories). I've lived with such sentiments for years; at this point, they just roll off me.

[PS: I moved from the AIN Poetry boards to the Humor area, and found my home there. I still got my fair share of disparaging comments from the No-nut Gallery, but the ambience was much more welcoming.]

I've heard worse critiques than "not a site I want to read." Annika was offering jocular praise when she called me twisted (a high compliment), but I've had respondents who were quite sincere in labeling me mentally ill. One person read a particularly disgusting poem of mine (buy my book and read the poem titled "WOOF") and wrote something like, "I think you have done the things you've written about in this poem. I think you are very sick and in need of help." I thought this comment was extremely funny, because it's an indication of just how mentally cloistered some people are. I've been attacked by illiterate online trolls, ripped into by more literate opponents, and the whole mess has been an enriching experience. At this point, I've heard it all-- I'm condescending, I have a big ego, I'm a closed-minded bastard, and the ever-popular FUCK YOU.

The Maximum Leader also writes:

I (your Maximum Leader) have known Kevin for nearly 30 years. And I can say that I have in the past said that we needed to figure out a way to harness Kevin's powers for good. I admit that I feel a little guilty now about those words.

No need to feel guilty, Mike. I knew you were speaking jokingly; my own post didn't make this obvious, but in my mind I make a clear distinction between the joshing remarks by you, Annika, and others, and the more "serious" remarks by folks like Mr. Mangan.

I could quote Mike's post at length here, but instead I'll invite you to read it if you're curious. I'm grateful for his response, and for Dave's, but Mike is right when he says, "I know that this whole issue has likely upset me more than Kevin." I'm not upset at all, but I'm happy to see the loyalty of friends.

Friends who extol the virtues of the Devil's various brews.

Dr. V has an interesting post here re: the virtue of not wasting one's mornings, but it also talks about not wasting one's evenings. Dr. V quotes Alphonse Gratry on the relevance of one's evenings to good practice:

A very serious question of practice is involved in the use of your evenings, in respecting your evenings. We have just spoken of what can be called the consecration of the morning. Let us now speak of consecrating our evenings. It is at this point or never, that you must have the strength to break with your present customs. I declare flatly that minds are formed and grow, just according to the real organization of their evenings. (Logic, pp. 533-534)

I'm curious as to what style of meditation Dr. V engages in.



Check out the online bug guide for silverfish. I am going to say, based on the other linked photo, that your little beast is not a silverfish. Note that a silverfish is a hexapod- meaning six footed. I think that you have a millipede or a centipede. Examine the dude: If he has one pair of legs per segment, then he is a centipede. If more, then he is a millipede. If he has considerably fewer, then count the pairs of legs.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

some random Saturday notes

Adam at Higo Blog posts a neat picture of a bug that looks almost exactly like the creature in my kitchen. I've been calling this thing a silverfish, but I'm pretty sure that's not what it is. My bug is all gray, though; not nearly as colorful as Adam's.

I went to Anyang, just south of Seoul (two-hour subway ride!) for the international Buddhism conference, which focused on Buddhist nuns. Paper presentations were generally interesting, but I was bugged by one presentation that focused on the creation of a sort of "transcendental science" that would fuse Hanmaeum Zen Buddhist practice (Hanmaeum's founder is Daehaeng Sunim) with science. Way too many frustrations to get into in depth, but foremost among them is that neither the presenter nor the Buddhist nun who offered a critical response seemed to have a grasp on how scientists view science. It was a discussion that would have profited from the inclusion of scientists from various theoretical and applied fields, cognitional theorists, and plain old philosophers (including philosophers of science).

I also had the distinct privilege of seeing Dr. Robert Buswell, the prof under whom I'd like to study eventually, once my Korean's good enough. Dr. Buswell heads up UCLA's Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and remains in constant contact with Korea. He's a man on the move, a former monk (twice ordained; once in Thailand and once in Korea) who spent five years under the Venerable Kusan Sunim at Songgwang-sa. He gave the wrap-up presentation today, and was one of the better, more dynamic speakers. I caught him during the lunch break-- awesome vegetarian fare, by the way-- and he remembered meeting me in the summer of 2002: I'd flown all the way over to LA from the DC area just to talk with him for an hour.

I also got to meet the lovely Andi of Overboard. She's just as amazing in person as she is on her blog-- smart, witty, chatty; I was wowed. And damn, she's got a strong grip when she shakes your hand! I should let her and Dave the Air Marshal get into a handshaking contest. Dave's got an iron grip, too, even though he doesn't practice Korean swordsmanship. If I ever start up a death squad composed of throat-rippers, Andi and Dave will be the first recruits.

Andi was there with her friend (egads, I don't know her name! my apologies...), and they seemed to know half the people at the conference. Amazing. By the way, Andi: Neil Barker's started taking komdo as well. Any advice for him (not that he asked)?

Charlie the KimcheeGI of Budae Chigae couldn't make the conference because of exams, but I met up with him when I got back to Seoul. I ruined my vegetarian streak by chomping down some Taco Bell chalupas on base, and Charlie took a gander at the compilation of research papers from the conference.

I'm home now, settling in, not really planning to do much this evening except a little laundry (and I might just put that off until tomorrow morning, since it's 10PM). Tomorrow, I'm seeing "Troy" with Jang-woong and Bo-hyun, but before that, I might start packing up some books and other knick-knacks. Luckily for me, I don't have that many possessions, and since Adjoshi's planning on calling the movers after I find a new place, I won't have to worry about moving arrangements.

I got an interesting email from Scott, a.k.a. American_in_Japan:

Dear Mr. Kim,

I love your site! Don't sweat the folks worried about the scatological references. I sense they have...issues of their own.

I have a question about your recent post "my K'eun Adjoshi is a control freak". You wrote:

"...He keeps telling me that fan motors can overheat-- this despite the fact that, last summer, my fans were on continuously for weeks with no problem at all...."

Is there a wide-spread Korean perception that electric fans will suddenly start enormous fires? Or is it just certain (older) people?

Is the Great Fan-Fire Danger™ due to a history of poor quality fans? Fans which are no longer made - but once were commonplace? That is, are older folks re-living a history of poor quality fans which killed people years ago (in effect, now an Urban Myth)?

Also, is there a perception in Korea that sleeping with the air-conditioning running will result in the death of the people in the room? I encountered this line of thought in Japan - everywhere. Despite my being an engineer (at one time) I couldn't get the locals to relax about this "great danger."

Good luck with the job at Ehwa! You seem like just the person they will benefit from having on staff. And for what it's worth, I think your philosophical background makes up for your perceived lacking in political matters. At your second interview (which it sounds like you have coming) perhaps you could emphasize your religious understanding as a groundwork to greater political knowledge. That is, you know a lot about religion and can study up on whatever political details they want you to know. As far as I can tell, your philosophical background is harder to obtain than the political information they would like you to present in class.

Best regards,

Thanks for the kind words, Scott. I appreciate it. My buddy Tom was also reassuring: "Shut up, man. You got the job. The interviewer's son wants to go to Georgetown? You got the job. Now stop worrying."

As for the fan/AC thing... yeah, a lot of Koreans believe these items are somehow deadly, which fails to explain their popularity.

[NB: Back in the mid-90s, when I was in the middle of a stint as a proofreader at KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Co.), there was a power crisis caused by the sudden surge in AC purchases. Everyone simultaneously got sick of living in humid squalor. It's now 2004, and it's obvious that KEPCO (or whoever) has beefed up the grid; I don't think there have been any major power problems related to appliance usage for the past few years.]

When ACs became popular, there were a lot of cautionary blurbs about naeng bang byeong-- literally, "cold room sickness." Naeng bang byeong is a legitimate concern, in my opinion; in the US, this is often known as "sick-building syndrome." The sickness is linked to the dust and microorganisms that are blown out of the dirty filters of ACs. It has little to do with clean, normally-functioning AC units. I tend to agree that, generally speaking, the Korean paranoia about ACs and fans is little more than paranoia. Maybe someone died after turning his AC on to the coldest setting while sleeping in a small, damp room.

Wooj wrote in and mused that many Koreans might be making an associative connection between various disasters resulting from shoddy workmanship. He may have a point, but I still think Adjoshi (and others who think this way) are going a little overboard. I'd also want to check-- thoroughly-- those claims of death by fan. I've heard such claims from Koreans before, but can't buy into them. Fans are fans; if they were truly that deadly, we'd be hearing more about this in the US and other countries, I think. I have a feeling that asphyxiation is probably attributable to other causes than the fans. Until I find some hard evidence strongly correlating fans and the Grim Reaper, I remain a scientific skeptic.

Ah, before I forget: check out Wooj's "American Beauty" moment. No, it's not a plastic bag swirling in the breeze, but the tableau possesses its own strange, carcinogenic charm.

Check out a nifty pic of Horus over at Cerebral Bypass. And see if you have what it takes to crack the riddle only a kindergartner can solve.


Birdseye's revenge

Three Korean climbers are now known to be dead on Mount Everest.


Friday, May 21, 2004

goddamn, man

Judging by the tone of the post right below this one, I think it's safe to assume my buddy the Air Marshal's a weeeeeeee bit pissed off (am I reading this right?).

Although Dr. Vallicella can defend himself just fine, I'll note for the record that, based on my personal correspondence with him and on what he's written in his blogs and various papers, there's no way in hell Dr. V would be caught dead singing protest songs. I can imagine him contemplating a tree, but not hugging it.

To say it more plainly: I think he lumps himself with the Boomers simply because it's an accident of birth. I don't think he thinks like the Boomers. If anything, his claim that the Boomers will reap the whirlwind is actually supported by the Air Marshal's pissed-offedness. Indeed, the Boomer generation will have to sleep in the bed it's made for itself.

But then... every generation does that.



Boomers need to get over themselves and stop being so self obsessed.

I am afraid that what has happened is that Boomers such as myself have sown the wind, and now we are reaping the whirlwind in the generation right behind us.

I'm 34, right smack dab in the middle of the supposed Generation X. My parents are 81 and 73. (Both Nuclear Physicists for the record. Seriously). I attribute whatever successes I have in live to the fact that I wasn't raised by boomers.

If Boomers have taught our generation anything, it is that whining, bitching, and singing protest songs accomplishes very little. Gen-X isn't categorized by Kurt Cobain. Gen-X is categorized by lots of people quietly building very successful lives, raising good kids, and trying to do some good in the world.

Pre-geriatrix ex-hippies (at least those in America) need to realize that WE are gonna be supporting YOU when You retire. And WE are pissed off about it.

Now have a great day!

Hominid: a symphony of ME

My site traffic sucks, but I'm well aware that this is because of the "blogological" choices I've made.

Still, this lack of big traffic doesn't keep people from talking about me, and as with kimchi and opera, the reviews of BigHominid are mixed.

Annika engages in a paroxysm of Hominid-referral here and here, then calls me "twisted" here. I responded to this by asking if I could live inside Annika's thong. She told me to go shave my pubic hair.

Wooj devotes a post to his mother's and sister's reactions not only to Wooj's review of "Lost in Translation," but also to my foul prose-- apparently, words do have an effect on people, though I often wish they wouldn't. Wooj's sister writes:

[If] there are gonna be people like Kevin Kim leaving foul comments, there is no way that I’m going to keep a blog.

Just yesterday, the Maximum Leader joked that my reply to Anna's latest post was "too graphic" (this reply also featured a thong... I may have found a new obsession), and this selfsame Maximum Leader has shaken his head and mused, "We have to figure out a way to get you to use your powers for good."

Dr. Vallicella's blog has obviously taken off, because he's getting reader mail à la Keith Burgess-Jackson. But even here, I find fuel for my self-obsession: a reader, Dennis Mangan, writes to compliment Dr. Vallicella, then takes a moment to make a face at my stinkiness:

I can't resist noting that that Big Hominid fellow you link to has a very unhealthy obsession with posteriors and excrement. Not a blog I want to read.

Dr. Vallicella voices his own rectal bewilderment and proffers a doleful conclusion in response to Mr. Mangan:

I too am puzzled by the Big Ho's proctological and scatological obsessions. He needs to have two blogs, one devoted to the aforementioned obsessions, the other to serious matters, or as he might say, 'serious shit.' I linked to him to repay him in kind for linking to me, and because he carefully read and commented on one of my online papers on Buddhism. (I'm an egalitarian: I'll engage with any person serious about philosophy, regardless of whether or not he has any letters following his name.) The Big Ho is obviously intelligent and I would encourage him to put his talents to better use.

I am afraid that what has happened is that Boomers such as myself have sown the wind, and now we are reaping the whirlwind in the generation right behind us.

Is Dr. Vallicella suggesting that the Boomers shat out my generation? When they shat us out, did it happen with a boom, perhaps? Despite the apparent tut-tutting, I think Dr. V's actually giving us a view of his Inner Scatologist. Note two sly references to "wind" as well as a cognate of the word "boom" in the final sentence alone!

As for my love of scatology, well... isn't it obvious? Farts are hilarious; Hershey Squirts doubly so, especially if you're a guy. Come on, admit it. Unpucker that sphincter. Life isn't all about seriousness. Farting and shitting are perfectly natural occurrences, but the Good Lord has seen fit to make human digestion and excretion (and sex, come to think of it) as goofy as possible. Have you never laughed at an accidental fart? Sure, you have! Even been changing a baby's diaper, only to get blasted because Junior wasn't done yet? I have! Ever watched a zoo animal take a shit and then lick its own asshole? I've probably got pictures of this somewhere! Maybe it's just me, but these things strike me as hilarious, and I never tire of them.

Walt Whitman gave us his "Song of Myself," but one day I hope to write "Song of My Ass"-- and translate it into Korean for Wooj's mother and sister, so they can appreciate its beauty all the more!


Ehwa interview

This morning (Friday, Seoul time) I went to a brief and informal interview for a teaching position at Ehwa Women's University. Many thanks to the KimcheeGI for sending me the advert for the job.

They're all business at Ehwa. It was made very clear to me that Ehwa expects a lot from its teachers, and that the students "are easily disappointed" when teachers aren't up to snuff. My interviewer was very polite; she and her husband have lived in the northern Virginia area, so she knows all the same spots I know in DC and the DC-Metro region. Her son wants to go to Georgetown, so maybe I scored some free Hoya points there.

My interviewer asked me whether I'd be interested in summer work, and I said yes. It doesn't look as though Ehwa will be offering housing-- not unless they're going to offer me a permanent position, which is very much in doubt at this point.

As it turns out, I was the first person to interview for this position. I hope I set the bar high, but it was disconcerting to hear my interviewer say, "It's really amazing, the number of scholars who've answered this ad!" The Department of Interpretation and Translation is looking for scholars-- people who can teach advanced levels of English, teach writing, and speak on issues like politics and culture. I may have shot myself in the foot by being too honest re: my own lack of political astuteness (I don't remember exactly how I phrased it to her), but I gave my interviewer a research paper as a writing sample, and that seems to be just what the doctor ordered: she prefers samples of academic writing.

I think my students (assuming I get the job) will be graduate students. I was told that many of them speak English as their first language, and are brushing up on their Korean. I was also told that the DIT accepts only about 20-25% of Ehwa students into this program; the rest come from other Korean universities, as well as from countries like China and the US. "We're not that loyal to Ehwa here," my interviewer said with a smile.

I don't know how well the interview went. I heard a lot of rhetoric about "our high standards," which I'm assuming to be true, since Ehwa is the #1 women's university in Korea. I take that rhetoric as a warning: no slouches allowed. I think I'm up to the challenge, but I'm curious to know who the competition is, and whether I can track them down and kneecap them. At this point, I'm in limbo, and hopeful that the DIT will give me a call back for a second-- and probably longer-- grilling session, perhaps leading to full-time employment and a decent place of residence. BigHominid... assistant professor?

More on this as it develops.


my K'eun Adjoshi is a control freak

Yes, my K'eun Adjoshi's a control freak.

It's my understanding that this level of control-freakishness isn't common among older Korean men, so I won't make generalizations based on his behavior, but damn, the man loves to micromanage.

Have you read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix? One of the strangest characters in the book is Kreacher the House Elf, an old, wrinkled thing about the size of Yoda who does menial work around the mansion of Sirius Black, muttering fierce (and easily audible) insults about those around him, apparently unconcerned that they can hear every word he's saying. One of the questions in the book is whether wily old Kreacher is mentally unstable.

My K'eun Adjoshi seems to exhibit a cognitive dissonance similar to Kreacher's, though it's the other way around. He's constantly apologizing for how little he's been able to do for me, but every time he visits, he digs around my place and starts rearranging things. When my mother came to visit me last summer, along with my brother Sean and three relatives from Texas (Koreans and half-Koreans), the Texas relatives complained about how much of a control freak Adjoshi was. Me, I generally take his neurosis in stride, but there are times when it can grate. Now that I'm faced with moving out in the next 10 days, one of the things I won't miss is shit like what happened yesterday and today.

I got home from class yesterday and saw a note had been left on my ironing board. It said (in Korean):


*Remove all your cardboard boxes from the boiler room. (Danger of fire.)

*When you leave every day, turn off your fans-- danger of fire.

*I hope you'll call me.

This fan/fire issue has been a running problem between us, as has the cardboard box issue. Adjoshi doesn't like the piled boxes, but I know I won't be in one place forever, so I prefer to keep the boxes because they're perfectly good and therefore reusable. Why waste 'em? Also: where, in my tiny place, am I going to store them? The obvious answer is the boiler room. They're out of sight, and the boiler room is relatively pest- and moisture-free (dust is a different story). In this way, I don't crowd my living space.

Adjoshi came over today, obviously not satisfied with having prowled around my place while I was out yesterday. I'm sure that, if I hadn't been right behind him (I was coming back from my morning interview at Ehwa), he'd have gone in and started throwing out my boxes willy-nilly. Good save on my part.

Adjoshi is fixated on the possibility that my dwelling is going to be the site of a miniature inferno. He's absolutely convinced that Korean electric fans are crap, and that any day now my fans are going to start emitting showers of sparks. He keeps telling me that fan motors can overheat-- this despite the fact that, last summer, my fans were on continuously for weeks with no problem at all. Maybe my engineer buddy can explain this better, but it seems to me that a small electric fan motor can't really get that hot because (1) it's small, and (2) a fan's job is to move air. This would seem to cool the fan down.

Today, Adjoshi once again declared that I had to make sure the fans were off whenever I go out, and that I needed to get rid of my boxes. I didn't debate the fan thing, but I wouldn't budge about the boxes, some of which are specially-molded boxes for my computer and peripherals. We compromised by moving the boxes out of the boiler room and into a tiny storage room outside.

"Call me when you're ready to move," Adjoshi said as he was leaving. "I'll get the movers to come over. And throw that second fan out. It's old. I'll buy you a new one."


The situation's actually not as bad as it sounds. My K'eun Adjoshi's a good man, and he is concerned for me. I'm also more or less used to the invasions of privacy, because this is fairly normal behavior for older Koreans, and truth be told, Adjoshi doesn't visit me that often. Yes, such invasions annoy me when they happen, but I'm not going to blow my stack. The basic fact is that Adjoshi gave me a place to live in downtown Seoul, at a very cheap rent. I'm grateful for that... even if I think the man's a control freak.

[NB: K'eun Adjoshi might translate roughly as "big uncle." It's how I refer to the eldest of Mom's four cousins (all brothers). The youngest cousin, who's over 50, would be my "Ja-geun Adjoshi," or "little uncle." The other brothers, Cousins #2 and #3, are my "Dul-jjae Adjoshi" and "Saet-jjae Adjoshi" respectively-- "second uncle" and "third uncle." I also refer to them by name when talking about them to other people. I call them "Geun Shik Adjoshi" and "Geun Seong Adjoshi."

Adjoshi might refer to uncles, but it's also a generic term for older guys (even guys in their 30s can be adjoshis), just as Adjumma can be used to refer to women Of a Certain Age. In relaxed speech, you can call the taxi driver a "taek-shi adjoshi," for example; "taxi uncle" would be a silly translation for that term.]