Nonsense, horsefeathers, and idle musings from a decade in South Korea (2002-2012).

21 May, 2005

Personal Junk

By Aaron
21 May, 2005

"Into the sick mind of a clown..."

What the hell was this clown trying to imply?

We're going to need a flux capacitor, what with the way we're stepping back in time today.

Here we have an old site that I did in high schoool, my first foray into HTML. Now, high school was one of the more tedious periods of my life. It wasn't difficult and it required me to be in one place for large chunks of the day (rather like working for a living now, actually). To break the monotony, my friends and I used to sit around in class and make up lists of any topic that came into our heads. We had lists of teacher's quotes, ways to be jerks, tips for showering with friends and so on. Not the most productive use of our educational tax dollars, but it sure as hell beat listening to the teacher prattle on about The Scarlet Letter for the twelfth day in a row.

Evidently, that site got quite a few hits when I first put it up. A friend who worked at this ISP told me it got the most hits of any site on their server, which isn't much to boast about, but it might be the only time I was ever at the top of any (good) list.

20 May, 2005

Git Away from My Trailerhouse!

By Aaron
20 May, 2005

Go on! Git!

For my own amusement, I've taken to reading the News-Register (or News-Resister, as my father always called it), the local paper of McMinnville, Oregon, the town where I finished high school. And believe me, it offers amusement a-plenty.

Today, we have
this convuluted story of two Vietnam vets involved in a minor gun battle in the town of Grande Ronde, Oregon.

Tubbs told investigators from the county's Major Crimes Response Team he thought he heard Mahan laughing. He told them he thought he saw Mahan, an acquaintance, stick a handgun out the window and point it at him.

"So I shot him," Tubbs said. "I fired two rounds from the shotgun. I dropped it and fired two rounds from the .38. I had a chance to defend myself and that's what I did."

It's stories like this that make you love America. I mean, where else would a paroled Vietnam vet with a post-traumatic stress disorder be walking around with a shotgun and a .38? I don't consider myself an anti-gun person and wouldn't propose banning all firearms. I am, however, an Anti-Moron-With-Gun advocate.

Honestly, I could barely follow the trajectory of this story, what with people claiming to be held hostage, talking of mental wards, and saying the Mafia had taken over their homes in Grande Ronde, Oregon. Now, trust me on this one: Grande Ronde is one of the last places that the likes of Tony Soprano or Michael Corleone would want to set up shop. My vision of the Grande Ronde mafia is one of a bunch of incestuous hayseeds sitting around on the porch of their trailerhouse trying to do Marlon Brando impressions between rounds of chaw.

19 May, 2005

Old Seoul News: Escaped Elephants

By Aaron
19 May, 2005

This is old news, but I just came across the video and thought it worth posting.

Last month, some
elephants escaped from the Seoul Zoo and dawdled about the suburbs for an afternoon. The linked article has a funny description of the whole spectacle:

The elephants were on a parade led by mahouts outside their enclosure inside Seoul Children's Grand Park in the east of the city when one was apparently startled and bolted, a zoo official said by telephone.

The five others followed "because they have the tendency to do that", the official said.

Don't they, though?

Or this...

Firefighters and zoo keepers, helped by police, cajoled five of the elephants back into the zoo. A police officer said a sixth was at a police station and would be sent back to the zoo soon.

Why was that sixth pachyderm being held? For fingerprinting? Questioning?

Klansmen in the Beaver State

By Aaron

I'm going to catch some fire from certain persons - and you know who you are - for posting an article by Elaine Rohse, but I'm decent enough to admit when she's written something interesting, something that extends beyond the bowel movements of her husband, Homer, or Mr. Papendrou's temperature upon arriving at the doctor's office.

In this case, she provides a
quick history of the Ku Klux Klan in Oregon, which is now one of the more liberal states in the union (well, the western half of it is, anyway). 'Twas not always true, I'm afraid:

All across Oregon, Klan events drew spectators like a Blazer playoff game. In June 1924, when Eugene Klansmen staged a large parade and initiation, "Hundreds of Klansmen and their families from Portland, Grants Pass, Ashland, Medford, Roseburg, Salem, Corvallis, Albany, McMinnville and other towns drove to Eugene in car caravans, while dozens of others arrived by trains." Thousands of spectators watched the downtown parade of some 400 Klansmen as a fiery cross blazed on Skinner's Butte.

In the spring of 1922, Klan lectures in the 5,000-seat Portland auditorium were so popular that overflow crowds posed serious civic problems. When the auditorium was oversold and more than a thousand were unable to gain admittance, the crowd surged up and down Third Street, requiring 83 policemen and 14 deputy sheriffs to restore order. An outraged Catholic delegation officially protested further Klan use of public facilities, but Mayor George Baker, "himself rumored to be a Klansman, refused to take any action."

While racism is still tripping along in the United States, the Klan has thankfully declined in its influence and stature. I attended a protest against the Klan in Annapolis, Maryland back in the '90s and the KKK was far outnumbered by the protestors, so much so that the police had to protect the Klan from the angry mobs who wanted nothing more than to tear the white-hooded fellows limb from backward limb.

I'd like to think that the Klan is on its way out, that it's more a joke and a parody of itself than anything else, but I wonder if this overly-optimistic on my part.

18 May, 2005

Today in History...

By Aaron
18 May, 2005

Today's 18 May, 2005 - albeit not for much longer - and that means it's been a full twenty-five years since the Gwangju Massacre/Uprising of 1980. You can check out the link and brush up on your Korean history, but essentially what happened fits into the whole Prague Spring, Paris Commune line of human events. Folks had their fill of military dictatorships and went nuts after newly self-elected (i.e. a coup) president Chun Doo-Hwan put the kibash on student demonstrations. The local university students rose up against the local police, who then had to call in the military to save their asses and kill a few of the aforementioned protestors (at least 200).

If, by some strange coincidence, you ever find yourself in Gwangju, there's a large memorial to the event.* If you do make it to Gwangju, I recommend a trip through Jogyesan Provincial Park, one of the finest hikes I've taken in Korea and with female monks at the Buddhist temple to feed you bibimbap.

But back to the subject at hand...I should point out that the Marmot's got his annual recounting of the events. A better guide than mine, to be sure.

*And just so you know, the Starbucks near the bus terminal doesn't open until about 10:00 AM if memory serves (WTF?), so don't be expecting any coffee before you visit the memorial.

17 May, 2005

Diplomatic Whoring

By Aaron
17 May, 2005

We all know that Kim Jong-il is a sadistic tyrant, but who knew he was also a prostitute? Well, today in Aaron's world, we find ourselves wondering why North Korea thinks its company is so damned precious. For ten months they've refused to show up at the bedraggled Six Party Talks (with Japan, China, South Korea, Russia, and the United States) unless a litany of conditions were met: Direct talks with Washington, baboon bartenders and an opening concert by Air Supply. So now, in an effort to get the North back to the table, South Korea has evidently offered to send a few much-needed items north of the border (hey, it wouldn't be first time). The South has not specified what exactly these items might be, but the North has apparently asked for rice and fertilizer - the latter of which seems symbolically appropriate, given the amount of shit spewed forth by both sides of this neverending saga.

We all know, of course, that no one would want to hang out with Kim Jong-il and his cohorts if he didn't possibly have nuclear weapons. As it stands, though, he might have the power to ruin all our Sundays and, in the interest of preserving our afternoons with the NFL, I guess we have to talk to the hateful bastard. But, just for the record, the South is really getting jipped on this deal, and in more ways than one. I mean, they don't even get to shoot the breeze and do soju shots with KJI. They have to sit around and bicker with his underlings. A truckload of manure is about all I'd pay for that. The only other thing South Korea should really consider sending is a shipload of what I call Darth Visors, worn by the local middle-aged women to hide from the vitamin D (see above).

Regardless, all this set me to thinking: With whom would I pay money to hang out? I couldn't really think of anyone, though. Maybe Willie Nelson - and god knows he could probably use the money for back taxes, a new tour bus or a bigger bong - but Willie seems like a guy who would just chill with you for free. How about Boutros Boutros-Ghali? We could talk about what folks in the West think of his name and the idea that "all art is repetition and variation." I imagine he'd have some insightful comments on this notion. It all seems a bit too close to prostitution to me, however, and I can't come up with anyone who would get my money for their social time, least of all Kim Jong-il.<>

14 May, 2005

Confessions of a Cynical Mind

By Aaron
14 May, 2005

I'm rather ashamed to admit this, but I ate at TGI Friday's yesterday.

The waitresses all had individually stupid hats on their heads and plenty of "flare" on the suspenders holding up their black mom-shorts. TGI Friday's is one of those places where they train the staff to squat down lower than the seated customer when taking food orders and it only succeeds in creating a grating, faux-personal atmosphere. If one waitress did it, I doubt I'd notice. But when you see all of them doing it, you know they've been trained to their ingratiating ways. I want a waitress who towers over me, snaps her gum, and says "what'll it be?" while rolling her eyes impatiently and tapping the "no substitutions" notice with her three inch press-ons. Screw this service-with-a-smile nonsense.

I know what you're thinking. And no, I don't know what my problem is. I just don't like people who are cheery all the time. That's my problem, I know, but I'd rather not have sunshine blown constantly up my ass. Besides, what's wrong with a healthy dose of cynicism, pessimism and doubt? Optimism, as a professor once told me, is just a lack of information. But he was Czech, and they've got their own reasons to be moody, so perhaps that doesn't mean much to us here. As far as restaurants like TGI Friday's go, the overly-friendly atmosphere is no more authentic than those "cultural artifacts" they've hung about the walls and no more satisfying than the average entree, but at least in Korea I know they're not angling for tips with the pasty smiles and "how's your dinner?" every two minutes.

The only reason I went to TGI Friday's, for the record, was to get a burger - something better than Burger King or McDonald's. And you know what? It was a good burger, probably the best I've had in Korea to date (which isn't really saying much) and worth hassles of a happy waitress.

13 May, 2005

Pasties: Kim Jong-il at the Bada Bing

By Aaron
13 May, 2005

Christ, I'm determined to get back into this thing full force. Seems every time I want to update it, though, Blogger acts a bitch and I can't upload anything. Not that you're all missing anything - my life has essentially ground down to sabotaging the computer at work with fart sounds at start up and shut down. One of my fifteen year-old students recently told me that I was - "what's the word?" she said - childish.

That - as pathetic as it is - fairly well summarizes my life at this moment.

One problem is that I'm presently in a holding pattern with regards to...well, everything. I've got exactly six weeks left at my current job (about six weeks too many, if you ask me), but that's still too soon to put my name down on a new job, apartment, sheep ranch, etc. None of these issues will too terribly difficult to resolve, if only I could actually boogie down and actually take care of them.

I'll say one thing, though: the North Koreans continue to keep life interesting in this part of the world. I don't know what I'd do without those Stalinist wingnuts up there. They've lately been threatening to do a nuclear test in June, just to prove that they, like George Clinton, actually have Da Bomb. For a number of reasons, I'm hoping the Norks don't go through with this - i.e. I'm not too keen on any potential whiffs of fallout drifting southwards into Seoul (I don't trust the North to plug that hole properly). Furthermore, such a test would rip hell into the South's economy, propped up as it is by so much foreign investment, and I don't want to see the Won start trekking to the back of the bus with the US dollar just yet.

My solution in these times of trouble and woe? Watch the first (and only) five seasons of the The Sopranos. Pop culture goes down so much easier than the thought of nuclear Armageddon.