My visitor

I’m getting ready to head out Incheon International Airport to pick up my son Nolan. He plans to stay for about a month, but he’s welcome to stay longer if he likes it. This is my first visitor from the States so I’m pretty excited about getting to introduce him to Korea (or at least the little piece of it I know).

I’ve already bought him some darts ’cause you know he is gonna have to be doin’ that if he wants to hang with me. I haven’t made many other plans as yet. I know I’m going to take him to the War Museum because I want him to understand the history of why we are here. Then we will do the DMZ tour which I think is a must see for everyone who comes to this country. Nowhere else like that on Earth. I also want to take a trip with him on the KTX, don’t know where yet. Maybe just a day trip.

Otherwise I’m open to suggestions. Any ideas?

Oh, by the way, he’s 22. I expect he’ll find some things he wants to do that are more his age appropriate, but for that he’s on his own.

Once upon a time…

Kevin (aka Big Hominid) mentioned in the comments to the birthday post that the restuarant where I dined was named “Nolbu Myeong-ga.” He alluded to Nolbu being a character in a Korean fable and suggested that I have a Korean tell me the story. So, courtesy of Ms. Kim, Yong-im I share the following:

이제 내가 흥부와 놀부의 이야기를 들려 줄게~
It’s a story time. The story about Hungbu and Nolbu…

옛날에 흥부와 놀부라는 형제가 살았습니다.
Once upon a time, there were brothers whose names were Hungbu and Nolbu.
동생 흥부는 마음씨가 착했고, 형 놀부는 심술쟁이 , 욕심꾸러기였어요.
Younger brother, Hunbu, was very kind.
But older brother, Nolbu, was grumpy and very greedy.
부모님이 돌아가시자 놀부는 흥부네 식구들을 쫓아냈어요.
As soon as thier parents died Nolbu foreced Hungbu’s family to leave the house.
흥부는 자식이 많은데다가 가난하기까지 했어요.
Hungbu was very poor and had many children to feed.
흥부는 놀부네 집에 가서 보리쌀을 달라고 했어요.
Hungbu went to Nolbu’s house and asked some boiled rice with barley.
그런데 놀부의 아내는 밥주걱으로 흥부를 철썩 때렸어요.
But Nolbu’s wife slapped his face with a rice spetula.
결국 흥부는 빈손으로 터덜터덜 돌아왔어요.
So Hungbu had to come back home with bare hands.
따뜻한 봄이 왔어요.
Spring had arrived.
가난한 흥부네 집 처마 밑에도 제비들이 집을 짓고 알을 낳았죠.
Swallows nested and laid eggs under the poor Hungbu’s eaves.
어느 날, 제비집에 구렁이 한 마리가 나타났죠.
Oneday, a snake showed up to eat swallows up.
흥부는 급히 구렁이를 쫓았지만 새끼제비 한마리가 다리를 다쳤어요.
Hungbu shooed the snake but a chic had a broken leg.
그리고 흥부는 정성껏 보살펴 주었어요.
Hungbu took care of it sincerely.
가을이 되자 제비들은 흥부네 집을 한 바퀴 돌고는 하늘 멀리 날아갔지요.
When it came fall, swallows circled around the Hungbu’s house one time and flew away.
다음해 봄이에요.
It was next spring.
어디선가 제비의 노랫소리가 들려왔어요.
There was a bird singing somewhere.
그리고는 제비가 박씨를 떨어뜨리고 갔지요.
Then a swallow dropped a seed of pumpkin and disappered.
흥부는 박씨를 담 밑에 정성껏 심었어요.
Hungbu planted the pumkin seed closed to the fence.
며칠 후, 금세 박씨는 쑥쑥 자라기 시작 했죠.
Few days later, the pumpkin started to grow already.
그리고 커다란 박이 주렁주렁 열렸어요.
And huge pumkins grew in clusters.
흥부와 아내는 박을 탔어요.
Hungbu and his wife saw the pumpkin.
첫 번째 박에서 흰쌀이 쏟아져 나왔고, 두 번째 에서 금, 은, 보화가 나왔어요.
White rice was inside the first pumpkin.
Gold, silver and treaures were in the second one.
그리고 목수들이 나와서 대궐 같은 집을 지어주었죠.
Carpenters showed up and built a mansion for Hungbu.
그리고 놀부는 제비 다리를 일부러 부러 뜨리고, 제비의 다리를 고쳐 주었어요.
On the other hand, Nolbu broke a pwallow’s leg on purpose and cured it.
제비가 박씨를 가져다 주었죠.
The swallow brought a pumkin seed to him.
박이 열리고, 놀부 부부는 박을 탔어요.
It produced plenty of pumpkins and Nolbu cut them with saw.
첫 번째 박이 갈라졌는데 똥물이 쏟아졌어요..
When the first pumkin was opened, there was flood of dirty waste.
두 번째는 도깨비들이 나와 몽둥이로 마구 두들겼어요.
Spooky monsters came out from the second pumpkin strated to beat him with sticks.
그리고 세 번째 박은 마귀들이 나와서 집을 부수어 버렸어요.
Finally witches from the third pumpkin destroyed his house badly.
그리고 흥부를 찾아가 용서를 빌고 흥부와 놀부는 의좋게 살았다고 하네요.
Nolbu ran to Hunbu’s house and begged forgiveness.
Hungbu and Nolbu lived happily ever after.

The Monday after…

Actually, I’m feeling quite rested this morning. Last night I finished up my birthday weekend activities by playing some darts, including my challenge league match with Tom. I was behind the eight ball going in (don’t you love it when people use a metaphor from an unrelated sport?) needing to win all 3 legs of the game just to force a 3 game playoff.

Tom won the diddle and elected to play 501. I threw well and had about a 75 point lead when I broke 100. Then Tom threw a ton (100 points) which put him in the driver’s seat. I didn’t have an out, but left myself set for the preferred 32 out on my next turn. Which never came, because Tom hit his 34 out on his first dart. So congratulations, Tom.

YJ bought a birthday cake for me and Duke, so we enjoyed that with some beer and talk (86 candles between us, luckily we had the tall ones that count for 10).

Then it was home for me, in bed by 2300 and woke up refreshed and ready to go attack another week. Playing in a darts tourney tonight at Bless U so hopefully I can redeem myself.


Finished with Fifty

So another birthday has come. Older and maybe just a little wiser. Still refusing to act my age though, which for the curious is 51. No real insights or words of wisdom to offer up to you youngsters other than live each day with the goal of being happy. I’ve gotten better at that lately and I think accepting things for what they are helps me get by. There are many things in my life that would get me down if I dwelled on them. Like being here alone. But I choose to focous on the positives in my life and upon reflection I realize just how blessed I have been. My journey has taken some unexpected twists and turns, but from the vantage point of this milestone I recognize how lucky I am. Unworthy perhaps. Regardless, I’m holding on and enjoying the ride. I’m still curious and anxious to see what’s around that next corner.

I had a wonderful day yesterday (and into this morning) as my friend Duke and I celebrated our birthdays. I’ll share some tidbits and photos for those of you who are interested.

The birthday boys.

We started out at the National Theatre to see the stage production of Grease. I’d seen the movie a couple of times, but it was not high on my list of favorites. Duke had actually performed it in high school and college productions, so he was intimately familiar with the story and characters. Ji Young had no clue, thinking of Greece as opposed to Grease.

So, contrary to my earlier speculation the show was performed by Koreans in Korean. Since I didn’t really know the storyline nearly as well as I do The Wizard of Oz, I had a more difficult time following what was going on in the dialog. I had a general sense, but most was lost on me. Duke speaks decent Korean and he said they were generally true to the original. Ji Young really enjoyed it, saying the men in leather jackets and tight jeans were very sexy.

I of course could appreciate the dancing which was quite excellent. The songs were for the most part translated into Korean, but the music was the same. Duke said the translation was done quite well. Some of the songs were a hybrid of English and Korean. “Summer Love” and “Greased Lightning” were like that. I had to explain the meaning of greased lightning to Ji Young since the concept behind that idiom was unfamiliar to her. Oh they did one song that I don’t think was in the movie. Something about “sexy ass”. I surmised that from the ending of the song when the performer dropped his pants and mooned the audience. Strange that was.

The production values were very professional and it was kind of fun to see 1950’s American culture recreated on a Korean stage. There were murals of ’50s era icons, like James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, etc. The stage floor had a large emblem for Rydell High School, although it was written as Ry Dell High School. There was also a recreation of what looked like a ’57 Plymouth (with the chrome and big tail fins) that was nicely done.

Anyway, the cast was quite talented and the song and dance numbers kept me entertained. I had to laugh at some of the costumes though. Not a poodle skirt to be found, and the women’s dresses were as much 40’s and 60’s as they were 1950’s. Most of the guys were wearing jeans and black leather jackets, but at the high school dance scene I saw a lot of polyester and 1970’s disco outfits. Ah well, small quibble. I did enjoy watching these Korean actors portray American bad boys. Just like seeing Koreans dressed up all urban and doing rap music always makes me smile.

Anyway, that’s my review.

Duke and Ji Young on the steps of the National Theatre.

We didn’t have an invite backstage this time, so this is the closet we got to the cast of Grease.

After the play we were ready for dinner. I’m still bad about names around town, but the restaurant was across the river near the JW Marriott. We caught a cab right outside the theatre and headed over.

On the way to dinner I noticed this bus. Sometimes living in Korea is like being in an alternative universe where things are very much like home, but still different. I mean, in this universe I am functionally illiterate since I can’t read or write Hangul, but this bus seemed familar. Except it’s a grey lion instead of a greyhound. Just one of those passing observations which probably means nothing to anyone but me. But there it is.

We dined at a traditional Korean restaurant. So, yes that meant taking off my shoes and sitting my oversized body on the floor. Actually, I managed that quite well this time, and had room to stretch my legs out as the need arose. What was interesting about this place was they had traditional Korean entertainment taking place as you dined.

What was the name of this restaurant you ask? Read it yourself (and then tell me).

When we first arrived we were seated on these pads around an empty space on the floor. When the food was served it was carried out on the table and set before you. First time I’ve seen that done. While we were waiting for our food, I snapped some photos of the entertainment. (I took these from where I was sitting because getting up and down wasn’t worth the effort. Luckily, we were close enough that the pics are too bad).

This performer was “singing”, although it was more of a chant/storytelling kind of thing with occasional howls and moans. That’s a poor description, because it makes it sound unpleasant. It was not bad at all. She was also very expressive with her hand movements. She was accompanied by one guy with a drum, which he hit a what seemed irregular beats (I could detect no pattern at least) but apparently there was a reason for the drum strikes at various points in the song/story. If I could have understood the words it might have made more sense of course.

Next were the women doing a fan dance. Quite pleasant visually. Reminded me a little bit of the Whirling Dervishes we saw in Turkey. Well, not really but I don’t have any other point of reference.

Then we were treated to a small “band” playing traditional Korean musical instruments. What was especially interesting was their song selection. Like that ancient Korean standard “Ob la di ob la da”. You may recall the Beatles also recorded this tune.

And then our table arrived (literally) chock full of Korean goodness. Actually this picture doesn’t do it justice, and a couple of items arrived after the table (and this photo). That was a lot of food! And we ate pretty much all of it. Yum!

My dinner companions, Duke and Ji Young. Despite his appearance, Duke nor I had as yet had our first taste of beer at this point. But we were getting ready to make up for lost time.

After our meal we headed back to Itaewon and Dolce Vita. I didn’t have my darts, so I used a set of Duke’s. I played like crap all night. Someone took this picture of me pulling my darts after a failed attempt to close the 16. Nice memory.

Tom arrived at Dolce shortly after we did to join the party. We have a Challenge League match later today. Here he is telling Ji Young that all he has to do is win one leg to clinch 3rd place. Well, he might win his leg, but he will have to beat me to do it. Which I guess is obvious, but I’m just sayin’ talking ain’t gonna win it, he’s gonna have to do it on the dartboard.

After a couple of hours of throwing darts, we moved the party up the street to the Bless U Pub. Here’s a photo of what we did there. Shots. Lots and lots of shots. And beer.

This is the guy who poured all those shots. Jin, the barkeep at Bless U.

Gina is the owner of Bless U and she bought a lot of the aforementioned shots. After the birthday song came the traditional birthday kiss. Just to be clear it was my first and only kiss of the night….

Evie (you remember, the star of Dorothy) was there with a group of her friends and joined us for a round of shots. Then she posed with me for this photo. She’s such a sweetheart. She even remembered my name!

And that is where the batteries in my camera gave out. I might have been wise to take that as a sign (or omen), but alas the night (morning) was not yet to end. Around 0230, someone had the bright idea of going to the noreebang to do some singing. Being well lubricated I joined the group and participated in butchering songs for a couple of hours. Afterwards, Tom (who is temporarily staying in the dorm at Smoo University) asked to spend a couple of hours at my place so he wouldn’t have to wake someone to let him into the dorm. So, we walked to my place in the rain (no umbrellas) and he cooked up some eggs and bacon (I was not in the mood to cook and he was the hungry one). We ate, he left, and I crawled into bed around 0600.

And today I feel like shit. Imagine that.

That’s the story of my birthday so far. I need to play that dart match around 1900 but otherwise I am going to stick close to home today. It’s all good, right?

Ready for the weekend

Started this fine Saturday by making myself a hearty breakfast of steak and eggs. Now I’m fixin’ to carry my trash out and pick up my dry cleaning on post. Exciting stuff, no?

Actually, I do have some nice plans for the next couple of days. This afternoon we will commence a two-day birthday celebration. Today is Duke’s birthday and tomorrow is mine. Duke and his girlfriend invited me to tag along with them to see a theatrical production of Grease. I’m pretty sure this one’s in English, certainly the songs have to be. Afterwards, I’m taking Duke and Ji Young to dinner. I had suggested dining at the restaurant atop Seoul Tower and we made reservations. When Ji Young discovered the meals were 60,000 Won each she wouldn’t hear of it. Instead, they made a reservation at a traditional Korean restuarant that apparently has some type of dinner show associated with it. That’s all I know at this point, but I’ll give a full after action report next week. I’m just hoping that traditional doesn’t mean sitting on the floor. My old bones just don’t take well eating Korean-style. I love the food though.

I guess our plan is to party well into Sunday morning to ensure that both birthdays are appropriately celebrated. After some sleep and aspirin, I’ll be at Dolce Vita Sunday evening for the final day of the darts Challenge League. I’ve got one game left to play but because I sucked on Thursday its meaningless. I can’t catch the player in 3rd place so I won’t be finishing in the money this time. Ah well, it’s been fun. And the practice is paying off, I won 60,000 Won Monday night in a tournament and I’m holding on to the #5 ranking in B division (my goal is a top ten finish this year).

So, I’m looking forward to the weekend festivaties. I really dislike feeling like a third wheel when I hang out with couples, but I’m done with turning down invites to do things. Wishing my partner was here doesn’t make it so, and sitting around doing nothing is no solution either. I’m actually finding ways to have a good time and I have a generally positive outlook regarding the future.

You may have noticed I have a new best friend in the comments section. I can’t figure this Jeff guy out. He writes like an intelligent person, but he seems whacked in a Ted Kacynski kinda way. I tired of him pretty quickly, but I’m sure Carol is quite capable of defending my manhood from his spurrious insinuations. Really though, who cares what some loser who has nothing better to do than leave long rambling non-sensical comments on a little read blog thinks?

My other big news is I’m going to have a visitor from the USA coming in Thursday. More on that soon. Now, its chores and getting ready for tonight.

UPDATE: I just got sent the current stats for the challenge league. I have NOT been mathematically eliminated afterall. If I beat Tom all three legs tomorrow in our game, we will tie for 3rd place. Which triggers a three game playoff. Tom is an American, but he grew up in England and used to make money playing darts in the pubs. He’s basically been playing the game his whole life, versus me playing for just a year. He’s more consistent than I am for sure. I’ve beaten him before though, so I know it can be done. I just have to bring my best game and hope he is off his. Still, I prefer to have a shot at something rather than just be playing out the string.

Somewhere over the rainbow

Yesterday I attended the musical “Dorothy” at the Yonsei University theatre. It was my first exposure to the performing arts in Korea and I was very favorably impressed. It was a rather unique take on “The Wizard of Oz” story, recognizable but quite different too.

Of course, almost all the dialog was beyond my comprehension but the singing and dancing was very impressive. They did an excellent job with the costumes, and the stage props, while simple, were effective and appropriate. Not a Broadway production by any means, but very professional and entertaining.

I was curious how what had always struck me as a uniquely American story would translate for a Korean audience. Turns out, the tale as told in this interpretation was quite universal in its values. There were 9 in our group, 5 American and 4 Koreans. None of the Koreans had seen or heard of “The Wizard of Oz”. This surprised me because TWOO is one of the most popular movies ever made. Then again, I am still very much America-centric in my thinking which is something I need to constantly guard against as I attempt to engage Korean culture. It was my faulty logic that led me to think the story wouldn’t translate well. At least one of the Korean women in our group was crying while Dorothy said her goodbyes to Scarecrow, Tinman and the Lion.

So, for you TWOO fans, here is how they told the story in Korea (remember, I caught almost none of the

dialog, so take my observations with a grain of salt (hell make it a pound of salt). Or its metric equivalent (see, I’m trying).

It started with a “cat” (portrayed by a beautiful Korean woman in a skin tight leotard) doing some modern dance routine under a crescent moon. Very graceful and sleek, her movement was indeed “catlike”. And then a man in a chicken costume (assuming man based on voice) appears on stage. The cat stalks the chicken and after some back and forth captures the fowl and drags it off stage. Soon the chicken (much reduced in size (stuffed toy) is carried back on stage in a cage by the cat, who hangs the cage on the tip of the aforementioned crescent moon, which then ascends from view as the stage fades to black. I have no idea what that scene was all about, other than the cat had some magical powers (beyond the power of seduction). Well, I wasn’t technically seduced, so let’s rephrase and say I found the cat enchanting…

Anyway, the curtain rises and we see a telephone booth (telephone was written in English) and underneath the booth we see the legs of the wicked witch (of the East?). Then the Munchkins come out and discover the body which pretty much freaked them out. They weren’t “little people” like in the movie, but they were gaily dressed in colorful costumes and their antics were quite hilarious. While they were checking out the body to make sure their nemesis was indeed deceased, Dorothy pops out of the phone booth. Unlike the movie, she was already wearing the ruby red slippers (as opposed to taking them from the dead witch). Upon seeing Dorothy, the Munchkins freak out again, but finally they calm down and introductions commence (I understood anyonghaseyo). Then they break into a song and dance routine, although the song WAS NOT “ding dong the witch is dead”.

Soon the other bad witch (of the West?) shows up with the aforementioned cat. When this witch figures out that Dorothy killed her sister, her and the cat attempt to accost poor Dorothy, but the red slippers apparently act as some kind of shield and they are unable to lay a hand upon her. About this time, Glenda the good witch (from the North?) arrives and the bad witch and cat retreat. Quite a bit of dialog occurs, and then Glenda breaks into song. Didn’t understand a word of it of course, but that witch could sing! And then after some more chat, Dorothy heads off down the yellow brick road on her quest for Oz. She didn’t sing the “follow the yellow brick road” song, instead it was a catchy little tune with some “la la la’s” and “dee dee dee’s” that had the audience clapping along.

Next we see Dorothy in the forest and when she tries to pick an apple, the trees give her a stern talking to. There were three of them, great costumes and the Korean speaking audience was chuckling over whatever they were saying. In the background you can see the scarecrow hanging on his pole. To my delight, the cat shows up again in this scene and is soon attacked by the trees. Dorothy rescues the cat by tickling the trees until they retreat off stage. The cat seems rather ungrateful and leaves shortly thereafter. About this time, the scarecrow comes to life and does a little song and dance before he and Dorothy continue down the yellow brick road.

Soon they encounter the Tinman, rusted into immobility. With a little oil in the joints he’s as good as new, and he of course breaks into a lively dance, where he is joined by a group of female tin men (er, tin women). I don’t know what it had to do with the story, but they did a great robot dance set to rock music which was quite visually appealing. Yeah, they were also quite sexy. So sue me for being a man.

After continuing down the path they meet up with the cowardly lion. He was definitely the audience favorite. Don’t know what he was saying, but all the Koreans were laughing hysterically. Then out of nowhere, a whole bunch of cats show up. They are dancing around, mewing, and getting into mini-catfights with each other. You know I loved that part! The lion (or was it the scarecrow?) starts counting the cats “one, two, three, five, eight, ten!” which I think was the only English in the production and I thought it was funny as hell.

Continuing on their way the troupe is put under some enchantment by the evil witch and they fall asleep. The cats come and capture Dorothy and carry her off to the witch’s lair. When they awaken and discover Dorothy is gone some hilarity ensues while scarecrow and tin man convince the cowardly lion to join them in rescuing poor Dorothy. Which they do after fighting off the cats and melting the witch (Which witch? The wicked witch). Dorothy is watching the action from inside a bird cage, and of course when she is released it calls for a song and dance. Seems like the cats are relieved to be free of the witch and they are in a partying mood. Two of them were all over the lion, patting his fur and rubbing his paws. Lucky lion! When it was time to continue the journey to Oz the lion didn’t want to leave the cats, but eventually relented and joined his friends.

Once they get to Oz the guards won’t let them in at first, Dorothy cries and tin man gives the guard the witch’s broom and finally he relents. They did a pretty nice job with the wizard prop, and it was of course soon revealed that the wizard was nothing more than a little man behind the curtain. So he gives the scarecrow a diploma, the tin man a heart shaped clock, and the lion a medal. Tearful goodbyes are said, Glenda the good witch returns for another powerful song, and Dorothy gets in the balloon with the wizard. No clicking the heels three times and saying “I wish I were home.”

As I say, it was very well done and quite enjoyable to watch. Enough of the original where I could follow along, but different in ways that made it a new experience. I especially liked the updated music and dance routines. Wanna go? I think it runs through next Sunday the 27th, but don’t trust me on that. Check with Yonsei to be sure.

Oh yeah, afterwards we got invited back stage where we posed for pictures with Dorothy (Eun Guil who also goes by Evie which is good because I butcher the pronunciation of her name). Like the idiot I am I forgot to bring my camera but hopefully someone will email me some copies. I told Evie it was a great show but I had wanted to sing along with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. She said they had really wanted to include that song but could not afford to pay for the rights to use it. Another interesting tidbit, Evie’s boyfriend said Evie had never seen the movie either. Well, she nailed the part quite nicely and maybe not trying to do it the way Judy Garland did was a better approach.

Anyway, it was a great day and a good break from my Itaewon routine. I even took the city bus for the first time. Yeah, I’m quite the adventurer aren’t I?

Regarding comments

I love comments! I do not intentionally delete nor would I ever modify a comment. Feedback is a gift, and whether I like the gift or not, I’m going to thank you for it.

I am having a real problem with comment spam. Over 5000 as of this morning. Deleting 20 at a time is more than a pain in the ass– its torture. But some of the comments that appear in “the most recent” section of my sidebar are pretty vile, disgusting or plain ass embarassing. So, on occassion I do try and go in to delete (I spent 30 minutes this morning and barely made a dent). What’s worse, if I’m not very careful I delete a comment that is legitimate. Sorry, I nuked one of yours this morning Kevin. Nothing personal.

And what is really odd is I’m finding regular comments stuck in moderation. I have no idea why these get held and the sicko ones get through. I mean, if I had not checked this morning I wouldn’t have known about Jenn’s ragging on my diaper rash problem. Glad I found that one!

Then there was Jeff who took issue with Ranger Bill’s assessment from on the scene in the Iraq. I politely responded in the comments, and he wrote back to say I was ignorant. Which is ok, I’ve been called worse. But when that particular comment got caught in moderation and I didn’t see it in the sea of spam, he posted another comment accusing me of censorship and disparaging my genitals. Alas.

Anyway, I’m told if I upgrade to the latest version of WordPress I will have better commet spam control. Since I’m a techno-peasant I’m gonna have to pay my blog host for this service. But clearly I have to get some control on this spam. Bear with me for a few days until the fix is in.

Thanks for understanding.

A social life (of sorts)

Friday after work I joined a couple of co-workers for dinner in Itaewon. Had middle eastern cuisine. Don’t recall the name of the restaurant, but it doesn’t really matter because I won’t be recommending it. Not bad, but nothing to blog about either (which of course didn’t stop me, did it?). Anyway, afterwards we walked to my place. Had some beers, chips and cheese dip, and watched a couple of DVDs. Yeah, so what? Well, given that my life outside of work is almost exclusively darts these days, this event was sorta newsworthy.

Speaking of darts, partnered up with Duke on Saturday to take first place in the Blue Frog tourney. Sunday, I played 3 challenge league matches, losing to Duke 0-3, and taking Grant and Ji Young 2-1 each. Monday night in our league matchup with Jester’s I pretty much sucked, winning only two of six legs. Still, the team held on for an 11-8 match win, which keeps us undefeated and hanging on to first place by a thread.

One of the Korean players on the Bless U team is dating an actress. Not a big star or anything, but I understand she has done some dramas and commericals. I met her once, don’t recall her name right now but I do remember she is quite beautiful. Anyway, she is playing Dorothy in a stage production of “The Wizard of Oz” and I got invited to tag along with Duke and Ji Young this Sunday. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the wonder of Oz in Korean. Having seen the movie countless times I am certain I’ll be able to follow along quite well. It should be interesting to see how well this piece of Americana translates.

Otherwise not much else to speak of. Unless you want to hear me bitch about the heat and humidity. It has just been so damn uncomfortable these past couple of weeks. Anytime I venture out to the bars I arrive drenched in sweat. How bad is it? Well, let me put it like this: I bought some diaper rash creame the other day. ’nuff said?

Would you remarry?

I thought this was pretty funny…..

A husband and wife are sitting quietly in bed reading when the wife
looks over at him and asks the question….

WIFE: “What would you do if I died? Would you get married again?”
HUSBAND: “Definitely not!”

WIFE: “Why not? Don’t you like being married?”
HUSBAND: “Of course I do.”

WIFE: “Then why wouldn’t you remarry?”
HUSBAND: “Okay, okay, I’d get married again.”

WIFE: “You would?” (with a hurt look)
HUSBAND: (makes audible groan)

WIFE: “Would you live in our house?”
HUSBAND: “Sure, it’s a great house.”

WIFE: “Would you sleep with her in our bed?”
HUSBAND: “Where else would we sleep?”

WIFE: “Would you let her drive my car?”
HUSBAND: “Probably, it is almost new.”

WIFE: “Would you replace my pictures with hers?”
HUSBAND: “That would seem like the proper thing to do.”

WIFE: “Would you give her my jewelry?”
HUSBAND: “No, I’m sure she’d want her own.”

WIFE: “Would you take her golfing with you?
HUSBAND: “Yes, those are always good times.”

WIFE: “Would she use my clubs?
HUSBAND: “No, she’s left-handed.”
WIFE: — silence —
HUSBAND: “shit.”

What’s up?

Well, Sunday I had some company over for Mexican food. Burritos (beef and chicken), Spanish rice, and refried beans. Root beer floats for dessert. I overcooked for six, got four and had lots of leftovers. So, my coworkers enjoyed breakfast burritos this morning. Now, I am definetly not in the Big Hominid’s league when it comes to cooking, simple and easy is my style. But I guess it surprises people that I can even pull that off, at least based on the reaction of my Korean employees. Ah well, let them have their delusions–good for the image and all that. Anyway, it was fun. Sunday we ate, talked and watched a few episodes of Coupling. Too hot for anything else, and we had a good time.

Tonight was dart league, and I managed a 5-1 night and Dolce Vita remains undefeated. So, it’s all good. Such as it is….

Welcome home, Ranger Bill

I’ve occasionally shared emails from the former 8th Army Chief of Staff, Ranger Bill. He’s just completed 14 months in Iraq and I think his insights on the experience add some perspective to the daily dose of gloom and doom we get spoon fed from the MSM. He doesn’t sugarcoat things (as anybody who worked for him can attest), but he makes it clear which side is winning:

Hi Gang.

Left Iraq on Saturday, 29 JUL 06, and thought I would share some final observations as I look back on the past 14 months. I’m currently processing through Ft Bliss, and should be home on Thursday.

Al Qaida is wounded and is lashing out. Although not defeated, our operations have significantly degraded their leadership capability. They are having success in killing Shia civilians, which gives the Shia militias an excuse to murder Sunnis in retaliation. This sectarian militia violence poses the largest threat to the stability of Iraq, and therefore we are focusing much of our effort against the various militias.

Despite the impression given by much of the press, we don’t ride and walk around all day waiting to be blown up by an IED. Our intelligence enables us to conduct raids every day and every night to kill or capture specific targets, which in turn leads to more intelligence. Concurrently we are training the Iraqi Army, which is becoming quite good at accepting battlespace from us and taking the lead in the fight. We still have a number of challenges training the police. We turned over the security of the first province to the Iraqi security forces, and will steadily add provinces this fall.

Caught up in the day to day operations, casualties, and events of this fight, it is easy to become mired in the belief that we are not making progress. One has to occasionally step back from the current fight and assess how far we have come. Since my arrival in May 05, the Iraqis have written and ratified a Constitution, elected a government in a free, democratic process, and made significant progress in developing a capable Army. We have inflicted significant damage on Al Qaida and its leadership, and have prevented them from gaining the initiative. Much work has been done to rebuild the infrastructure that received no attention during Saddam’s regime.

However, we still have a tough fight ahead of us. We are focusing on disarming or destroying the militias and securing Baghdad, while concurrently continuing to pound Al Qaida. The Government leaders have said the right things, but now need to follow through with action. They must take concrete steps to unify Iraq and eliminate sectarian violence. They have about six months to get it right and show some progress. Our DOD, DOS, and DOJ advisors are working hard to make it happen.

I think it is important to remember that Al Qaida chose to fight us in Iraq, not the other way around. We are their main effort, and their senior leadership understands what is at stake in Iraq. It’s about defeating the United States and establishing a base of operations in the Middle East from which to continue their terrorist quest to establish a caliphate that reaches across North Africa and into Europe, increasing their chances for successful strikes against the U.S. homeland. America needs to wake up and understand that we have more at stake as a country in this fight than we did in WW II. Losing Iraq will provide Al Qaida a significant base of operations and the psychological edge to continue to attack America and enlist allies in their cause. Conversely, defeating Al Qaida in Iraq and establishing a democracy with an economy embracing capitalism will start to unravel the repressive regimes of the Middle East that provide the support base Al Qaida so desperately needs.

As I close out this tour, I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the great Americans carrying this fight to the enemy, GEN George Casey. In June he began his third year as the overall commander in Iraq. The continuity he provides in both defeating the enemy and building a democratic Iraq cannot be underestimated. He is shouldering a heavy burden for our country, and America owes him a heavy debt of gratitude. It was my honor to serve with him on both ends of my career. With him the entire tour has been another outstanding Soldier, CSM Jeff Mellinger, an NCO who truly exemplifies the NCO and Ranger Creeds as he moves around Iraq checking on the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who are doing the heavy lifting.

As I depart, I will miss the great young Americans who do our country’s tough work every day and every night. Their selfless service, dedication, teamwork, camaraderie, and humor in the face of adversity are beacons for all Americans to follow. I will miss the smile on an Iraqi child’s face when we open her new school, and the satisfaction our engineers have when they provide potable water to a village. I will miss the determination of the Iraqi people to risk death in order to exercise their right to vote. I will miss the NCO Corps, truly the backbone of our Army and the single characteristic that distinguishes our Army from every other army in the world. The NCOs guarantee us victory in every endeavor. I won’t miss the rear echelon military bureaucracy we have created to support this operation, despite the valiant efforts of outstanding staff officers and NCOs to fight through it and accomplish the mission. I won’t miss performing or attending memorial services. I thought I had attended my last one on Sunday, but we had another Soldier killed by an IED four days before I left. Losing these great young Americans has become progressively harder each of my 31 years in this business. I guess it has a cumulative effect.

We have made an astounding amount of progress in the past 14 months, and are on the edge of winning this fight. The next six months will be decisive. We will destroy the militias and continue to decimate Al Qaida. Our biggest challenge is to get this new Government to step up to the plate, begin cleaning out the corruption, and take decisive steps in securing its people. Concurrently we must help them fight the growing Iranian influence. It is a tough fight, but the Iraqis can do it as long as America does not lose its resolve. With what is at stake for us, we cannot afford to.

Thanks for the support and the prayers this past 14 months; they work. Please keep the kids I left behind in your prayers until we can finish this job and bring them home.

Stay safe.


Thank you for your service, sir.

Free again

At least one of my readers (which is approximately half of them) noticed that LTG had been “suspended”. That astute individual correctly surmised that my blog host and I had encountered some difficulty regarding the financial aspects of our business relationship, or as she put it: “What did you do, forget to pay the bill”?

Actually, it was more of a misunderstanding than forgetfulness. I pay the fee required to share my wit and wisdom (a.k.a. mundane details of a boring life) with you on an annual basis via PayPal. Seems the credit card on file with PayPal had expired, and I had ignored all the emails from PayPal assuming they were bogus “phishing” scams.

I do answer the emails from the fine folks at and the one saying my beloved blog had been suspended got my attention. After two days of trying, I succeeded in updating my PayPal account, and I’m back in business!

I might even having something profound to say. But not now.

damn it’s hot

Wish we could get some rain to cool things down!

Dart league tonight. I was a little off, lost two legs in singles, but pulled out three wins in doubles. Team won, and we are solidly in first place.

I have a telecon back to DC this morning (i.e. 0130 local time) so I am staying up waiting to call in. No easy task after the beers and shots I imbibed tonight. That’s it for now.