Christmas in the ‘burbs

Merry Christmas to each and everyone!

Here’s some photos from my Christmas in Virginia:

The tree.
Preparing the feast.
Well, Carol SAID she liked her present…
Nolan definitely liked his…
Ashley and son-in-law Michael with some of their bounty.
Nolan and I have already been practicing our darts.
The old homestead decked out for the holiday.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…

Ok, that’s probably enough for now. Weather has been in the 50s, much warmer than Seoul. Leaving tomorrow for South Carolina to spend time with the parents, kids and that sweet granddaugther.

I’ll be back.

“The Seoul of Christmas”

Well, being back home on a Sunday means doing the things I can’t do in Korea. One of those is reading the Sunday Washington Post. And having a home cooked pot roast. But let’s focus on the newspaper for now.

Actually the Post, although not nearly as blatant as the NY Times, tends to piss me off with its liberal bias. But what are you gonna do? They have a decent sports section and the comics are good. Plus, you get the Washington Post Magazine as well. So there are things to enjoy if you are willing to look hard enough. Anyway, one of the writers I particularly like is Gene Weingarten. He is normally quite witty and I was looking forward to his regular column in the Sunday Magazine. Imagine my surprise and delight to find he had penned a Christmas play at the request of a reader who teaches English in Seoul. Here’s the link, but since I went to the trouble of finding the column online, I am going to take the liberty of reprinting it in full here. I’m thinking since I’m such a big fan Mr. Weingarten (and the Post lawyers) will forgive me if I have exceeded the “fair use” limitations. I hope you enjoy:


Three Wise Men and One Dope
Gene writes a Christmas pageant

By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, December 24, 2006; W36

Dear Gene: I have been in Seoul, Republic of Korea, for three days. I am here teaching English to 6-year-olds and have just been informed that I must write a short Christmas play for eight students. I must confess that I am a heathen and know little of this Christmas spirit. Can you help? There must be exactly eight roles.

— Onno Savage

“The Seoul of Christmas”

A Play in One Act

Cast: Mary, Joseph, First Wise Man, Second Wise Man, Third Wise Man, Little Drummer Boy, a Lamb and Frankenstein’s Monster.

Scene opens in a manger.

Mary: We have a baby boy!

Joseph: What shall we name him?

Little Drummer Boy: How about Park Kim Lee Ji-Soo?

Mary: That is a fine name. We’ll just call him Ji-Soo.

First Wise Man: Here is some gold, Baby Ji-Soo.

Second Wise Man: What are you, crazy? Who gives gold to a baby?

First Wise Man: Well, what did YOU bring, wise guy?

Second Wise Man: Myrrh.

First Wise Man: What is that?

Second Wise Man: It is an aromatic resin often burned at funerals to hide the smell of rotting corpses.

First Wise Man: Oh, that’s a LOT better.

Third Wise Man: Well, I brought this.

(Third Wise Man goes behind a tree, emerges with Frankenstein’s Monster. Sound of crying from the cradle.)

Second Wise Man: You idiot. It was supposed to be frankincense. Take that thing away.

(Third Wise Man exits with the monster. Baby quiets down.)

Little Drummer Boy: Behold, there is a giant light in the sky!

(All the other characters immediately dive for cover.)

Little Drummer Boy: No, it’s okay. We’re not being nuked by Kim Jong Il. It’s just a very bright star.

(Everyone gets up.)

Lamb: It is proclaiming the birth of a newborn king. Joy to the world!

Everyone: Joy to the world!

First Wise Man: (to Second Wise Man) Did you know lambs can talk?

Second Wise Man: No, but if you hum a few baas I can fake it.

(Little Drummer Boy plays a rimshot.)

(Third Wise Man returns.)

Third Wise Man: So why are we here, again?

First Wise Man: To adore the baby.

(Three Wise Men gather around the cradle.)

Second Wise Man: He’s definitely adorable.

First Wise Man: Yep.

Third Wise Man: He looks just like Winston Churchill.

(All the other characters stare at Third Wise Man.)

First Wise Man: Let’s hope he grows up strong and wise and just.

Everyone: Hallelujah.

Second Wise Man: And filled with peace and goodwill for mankind.

Everyone: Hallelujah.

Third Wise Man: With a really forgiving sense of humor.

Everyone: (loudly) AMEN!

Gene Weingarten’s e-mail address is

Still ten minutes to Christmas here in Virginia, but I’m staying up to see if Santa comes. I’ve been more nice than naughty this year. Honest.

What’s in your stocking?

Yep, still killing these early morning hours deep in the bowels of the ‘Net while the rest of the house sleeps. Check out these Ten Worst (as in dangerous) Toys of All Time.

Not to be missed is the Johnny Reb toy cannon at #8, complete with Confederate Battle Flag. You definitely want to see the commercial for this 1961 offering. Yeah, I remember the ad although at $11.98 it was out of my reach.

Safe and sound

I made it back to Virginia without incident, and that’s about the best you can hope for when it comes to air travel during the holidays. The planes were jam packed of course, but I had an aisle seat and did the best I could with the confinement that is steerage, I mean economy class.

The house is all decorated up for Christmas and looking good. Since my last visit Carol has installed hardwood floors and the place is looking a hell of a lot better than it did when I lived here. Have to give credit to the son-in-law who is quite the handyman.

You might have noticed that I’m posting this at 3:30 am–yeah, my body thinks it’s Saturday afternoon. Oh well, I will adapt to the time change–probably a day or two before I head back.

Got a nice cartoon from a former coworker (and friend) at the Department of Education. So, Jim you be careful should any altercations break out at Dolce Vita.

More later….

I’ll be home for Christmas…

Flying out this afternoon for a couple of weeks with the family in Virginia and South Carolina.

In other news, we suffered our first darts defeat of the year and were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. Alas.


Actually, that’s a picture from the CPAC Christmas party (although it probably does accurately capture my mood after the darts loss). Technically, this is after the party, I really did have a good time. The party was held at 3 Alley Pub, and there was good food, karaoke, and a Yankee gift exchange. I got drawn to make the first gift selection and snagged a nice set of wine and champagne glasses. Which my co-worker Corine promptly took from me when her number was drawn. I wound up with the Hickory Farms pack of sausages which was a little ironic as that is what I had brought to the gift exchange as well.

Seeing as how I was expected to take my turn at karaoke I needed to obtain the courage that is found after several mugs of beer. Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes enjoy the norebang experience after a night of drinking with friends, but singing in front of 50 people I work with is a different story. Unfortunately, my “big voice” was not designed to carry a tune or sing on key (whatever that means), but what the hell. I did a Beatles tune “All my loving” and did backup vocals for Leora on “End of the world”. No one said I did great but they didn’t laugh either, so I call that a success.

I really haven’t had much Christmas spirit so far this year but I hope to capture some when I get back home. Here’s wishing each of you of the happiest of holidays.

A clean, well-lighted place

I don’t know why really, but in my boredom this morning I am recalling a short story by Ernest Hemingway which not so coincidentally has the same title as this post. I was a much younger man when I had to write a paper on the story for a college course in American literature. I found it haunting then, but from the perspective of my advanced years I have a deeper understanding and appreciation for what Hemingway was saying. Of course, the paper I wrote is either long gone or in a box in the garage back home (I do tend to be something of a pack rat), but you can read a take on the story by Elizabeth Wall I generally concur with here. A teaser:

The main focus of “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” is on the pain of old age suffered by a man that we meet in a cafe late one night. Hemingway contrasts light and dark to show the difference between this man and the young people around him, and uses his deafness as an image of his separation from the rest of the world. Near the end of the story, the author shows us the desperate emptiness of a life near finished without the fruit of its labor, and the aggravation of the old man’s restless mind that cannot find peace. Throughout this story stark images of desperation show the old man’s life at a point when he has realized the futility of life and finds himself the lonely object of scorn.

Anyway, here in the real world I continue to plod (or maybe slog) along. Work was a little stressful this week. My boss was on leave the past couple of days so I had the pleasure of attending several meetings in her stead. Actually some interesting stuff going on but it’s classified so I’m not at liberty to talk about it here. I did have the experience of being grilled by a 3-star on a topic I was not as prepared for as I should have been. Not real pleasant to be sure.

After work yesterday we all went to the boss’ house for her annual Christmas gathering with the staff. She’s an excellent hostess and cook and it is always nice for everyone to get together outside of the working environment. I’ll post a couple of pictures of our group next week.

I got back home around 8:00 and it being Friday night and all I headed out to Dolce Vita. Duke and Lonnie had already left for Hongdae to play soft tip darts. Jim was there though and we killed a couple of hours at the dart board. Later June (I wrote about her once in a post called “Sodomy”) came in half lit and wanted to throw darts with us. Lonnie’s girlfriend Cindy was there as well and she was feeling like a darts widow (my words, not hers) so we invited her to join in for a doubles match. Jim and June prevailed in a hard fought match despite Cindy throwing an unlikely ton-17 (two double bulls!) in the ’01 leg.

I was ready for a change of scenery and Cindy asked if she could tag along. Cindy is a sweet Korean gal who has not had much exposure to Americans prior to hooking up with Lonnie (although I understand she did live in Canada briefly). I asked her if she had ever been to a country bar and she said no so it was off to Grand Ol’ Opry. Turns out she had never been up “the hill” either and she was quite taken aback by the prostitutes sitting in the doorways of the hooker bars as we made our way to the Opry. Somewhat surprisingly, the place wasn’t too crowded and we were able to get a table near the dance floor. She was quite impressed as she watched some pretty good country dancers. I introduced her to the Texas two-step and she did pretty good for her first time (especially since I’m a generally crappy dancer). At midnight, as is the Grand Ol’ Opry tradition, we all stood and sang “God Bless the USA” followed by “The Star Spangled Banner”. Not sure what Cindy thought of that, but I love the hell out of it. We watched a couple of line dances (which I DO NOT ever attempt) and having finished our beers departed.

On the way back down the hill we stopped in to see my friends at Debut. I’ve written about it before, just a small place filled with good people (at least most of the time), good music and friendly staff. It’s like an oasis in a desert of depravity and I will stop in once a week or so for a night cap as I make my way home. It’s definitely an after hours kinda place, doesn’t open till 9:00 and doesn’t get busy until 2 or 3 a.m. Anyway, Cindy caught the good vibes there right away and seemed to enjoy the cozy atmosphere. She was trying desperately to reach Lonnie on her cell phone without success, but I reassured her that he was busy with darts and likely couldn’t hear his phone.

Being the gentlemen that I am, I escorted her back to Dolce Vita so she could rendevous with Lonnie when he finished darts. It was almost 1:00 and all the soldiers were rushing out to beat curfew. Jim and YJ were there along with the bar staff, and Jim bought us a round of drinks. Lonnie and Duke arrived around 1:30 and I told Lonnie he owed me 20 bucks for babysitting his girlfriend all night. Of course, I actually enjoyed showing her a good time and since I never have an escort when I make my bar circuit it probably helped my image to be seen around town with an attractive Korean woman.

June came in around 2:00 about as drunk as you can be and still be standing. Actually, she was not standing long because next thing we heard was a big crash and we turned around to find her sprawled on the floor. Duke helped her up and into a chair where she sat for a few minutes before heading out. June is a really cool woman and it makes me sad to see her drink to excess. Duke says her problem is that she makes bad choices with men, gets her heart broken, and then drinks to get them off her mind. Well, there are lots of sad stories in Itaewon, that’s for sure.

The McDonald’s in Itaewon is now open 24 hours. It had been awhile since I had anything to eat and I got to craving some trans fats from Mickey D. Only the second time that’s happened since I’ve been in Korea. Duke agreed to join me, so we said our goodbyes to the Dolce crew and headed out. There was a light rain falling and out in the middle of Itaewon Blvd we observed June staggering about apparently trying to hail a taxi. Seeing as how it was just as likely that she would get run over as catch a cab, Duke pulled her out of the street and I took on the chore of finding a cab. Which proved to be unusually difficult. I guess because of the rain and late hour, everyone in Seoul had filled what is normally an endless supply of taxis. Meanwhile June was resisting our efforts to get her home safely and Duke had to physically restrain her, taking a couple of blows to the face in the process. As I looked down the street I could see several people also waiting for an empty cab. Realizing it may take an hour of standing in the rain before an empty cab got to us, I suggested crossing the street where at least we would be at the head of the queue. June was not happy about that insisting she wanted to go in the other direction. Well, there’s no reasoning with a drunk person so we manhandled her across the street.

About this time SongHee, one of the Dolce bartenders, got off work and she assisted Duke with controlling June while I continued my attempts to get a taxi to stop. Finally one did. We wrestled a reluctant June into the cab who was protesting that she didn’t want to go in that direction. She couldn’t grasp the concept of a U-turn apparently. So she’s in the cab but the driver refuses to take her anywhere in her inebriated condition. Out she comes, and we are back to square one. I’m a little pissed at this point and I tell her in my “big voice” that she is going to get in the next fuckin’ cab and go home. She nodded sheepishly and five minutes later we had her in a taxi and on her way. Hopefully she made it home without incident, but there is only so much you can do.

SongHee needed a cab too, but we invited her to join us at McDonalds. She thought that was a great idea and off we went to dine on burgers, fries, and sundaes at 3 in the morning. After our meal Duke headed home on foot and I managed to snag a cab for SongHee which I shared as far as the Cheil building near my villa.

Yep, it’s a wonderful life. Tonight I am playing in a soft tips tournament in Nowan (I have got to get out of Itaewon before I lose what is left of my mind). Tomorrow is another darts tourney at Dolce. Yes siree.

After re-reading the sad commentary above, I guess I understand why I’m in a Hemingway state of mind:

It was all nothing, and a man was nothing, too…Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it was nada y pues nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee…

I’m just too old for this shit.


My apartment has a key pad entry system. Tonight it made the tell-tale sound that means it’s time to change the batteries. Having had the misfortune of being locked out when the batteries failed in the past, I keep a supply of trusty AA’s on hand.

So, I replace the batteries but now the keypad is not working at all. At least I’m inside my apartment, but if I leave I won’t be able get back in. So, I am effectively a prisoner in my own home. At least until my landlord gets here in two hours. Nothing urgent tonight fortunately. Wasn’t even sure I was going to go out at all. But now knowing that I CAN’T I have the urge…

I will survive, but life is just a pain in the ass sometimes, isn’t it?

Finished with darts

Well, the regular season anyway. Playoffs start next week.

Last night we played at 3 Alley Pub against the Cunning Linguists and we were able to take the match 15-4 and finish our season undefeated. Tip of the hat to the CL team though, great sports who keep in mind the bottom line is to have fun. After the match shots were exchanged (the good kind) and they wished us luck in our playoff run.

We are going to need it. Our number two player Cuatro is going to be unavailable because of some soldiering conflict. We picked up Lonnie from the other Dolce team to give us the required four players, but we will all need to pick up our games in what is going to be a very competitive playoff.

I finally broke out of my personal slump and threw some decent games last night. I was on fire in my singles Cricket leg, and threw solid in ’01. 6-0 for the night and I am pretty sure that will lock up the third place ranking I’ve been vying for. My goal this season was a top ten finish so I’m actually very pleased. It’s also cool that my teammates Duke and Cuatro are ranked 1-2.

A highlight of the evening was meeting Neil. He introduced himself as a reader of this blog and said his favorite post was about my falling down and cracking open my head. Yeah, that was pretty funny wasn’t it? He also knows the guy I saw fall out of the cab. Anyway, we were chatting between throws in my singles games so I didn’t get much chance to find out more about him, but it was nice to meet someone who has stomach to follow my exploits here on LTG. Of course, meeting a reader also makes me feel guilty about not keeping the content fresh and interesting, but who knows maybe something extraordinary is just around the corner.

Anyway, cheers Neil. Next time you are in Dolce I will buy you a drink.

‘Tis the season

Damn, it turned cold in a hurry. All the buildings are decked out in Christmas lights. So, I guess its time to be thinking about the origins of all those old Christmas traditions. Here’s one I got on email the other day…

When four of Santa’s elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones, Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule.

Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her Mom was coming to visit. This stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where. More stress.

Then when he began to load the sleigh one of the boards cracked, and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys.

So, frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered that the elves had hidden the liquor, and there was nothing to drink.

In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider pot, and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor.

He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, and irritable Santa trudged to the door. He opened the door, and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said, very cheerfully, “Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn’t it a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?”

And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.