Club Med Baghdad

My buddy Rob left a great comment to an earlier post, but I think it deserves stand alone attention:

Holy cow! Gabby Johnson is right, that’s an awful lot of Won for some Pyong…or is Pyong something totally different from what I’m thinking? Just kidding. You guys are suckers though. The Army sent me to Baghdad and they picked up the cost for the flight! They gave me some new gear for free! I was given half of a small trailer to live in that can’t be any less than 2 talk about a palace! Then these fools pay me extra money for being over here. The only thing they asked for in return was that I work 13 hour days, take one day off a month, and take my chances with incoming rockets, mortars, and gunfire…and any possible IEDs I may encounter on any patrols I go out on! Now that is a sweet deal. I can’t believe more people don’t leave their families behind for a crack at this fun. Well I’m off to buy a fan in preparation for the inevitible summer heat. They say it is just like the Bahamas here during the summer. Then I’ve got to get some of their awesome cuisine that is almost as good as chicken on a stick from Itaewon…delicious! Take care John…Rob!

Damn, and I thought things were tough in the sandbox. You know, Rob was one of the first friends I made in Korea and it really makes me happy to know he is keeping his sense of humor in difficult circumstances. I’ve almost forgiven him for buying me my first soju kettle. Almost. Anway, Rob is good soldier doing an important job and I am thankful for his service to our nation. Hang in there, man.

Pictures from our Independence Day party in 2005:


Rob cutting the cheese.


Me and my “little brother”.


Rob is also known as “Lucky”…

Anyway, you are missed and we’ll all be glad to see you home again safe and sound.

The walrus is dead

May my moustache rest in peace. 1978-2007.

Inevitably people might ask why?

Well, not to make too big a deal about it (editor: you thought it was a big enough deal to blog it!), but I guess it was more or less a symbolic act. A break with the past if you will. I’m really wanting to be a better person, to learn from past mistakes and hopefully build a happier life.

Not that my moustache was to blame, but it was easier than doing something really symbolic like cutting off my ear.

And that whole KFC thing was getting kinda old.

So, goodbye moustache, hello upper lip.


Rent’s paid

For the next two years. Handed over $109,000 cash. Hard to let it go, but it wasn’t mine anyway.

My buddy Rob who is currently spending his time in the sandbox (Iraq) sent me some tips on living a healthy life:

Q: I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that’s it… Don’t waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that’s like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can’t think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain…Good!

Q: Aren’t fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU’RE NOT LISTENING!!! … Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they’re permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy? HELLO . Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It’s the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and eating healthier.

And remember:

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways – Chardonnay in one hand – chocolate in the other – body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “Woo Hoo, what a ride!”

So based on this, I must be one healthy m’f’er. Glad to see Rob still has his sense of humor. I will take that as a good sign.

Blessed Bulls

Last night we got back in the winning mode in dart league defeating our neighbor bar, Bless U Pub.

I accepted a challenge from Craig, the Blessed Bulls top ranked player, and we went mano a mano in the first match. His version of events is already posted on his blog, but this is how it REALLY went down:

I won the opening diddle and chose cricket. We played it tight until the 17s, then I failed to close. We had talked about darts strategy before, so I was not surprised that he took full advantage and chalked up 34 points. I answered with a 5-mark on 16s, good to close plus 32 points. He hit a bunch of 15s to close and point but was a little off on his bulls. I threw two bulls then went to take care of my open 15s. Hit two and had a 3rd bounce out. That was the opening that killed me. Craig then pounded in 4 more 15s, and had me down by 72 points. I hit two more bulls, but by then had my opponent found his bulls and took the first leg.

I don’t recall either of us playing poorly in the ’01 game, lots of 60+ throws but there were no marks. We both came down to a shot at the out, but I got the double 12 to win.

Craig took the diddle for the third leg and chose cricket. He left 20s open after his first throw and I was fortunate enough to get the five mark and take an early lead on points. Craig had a slow start with a couple of rounds of one marks, but he came back strong at the end and made a game of it, but I held on for the victory. Great match, very intense.

We finished the night with a 13-6 victory, but it was closer than the score. You know, some teams are just fun to play win or lose. The Blessed Bulls (mostly Canadians) is one of those teams. Most of us hang out in both bars so we have played each other in a lot of friendly games. Last night was a good example of hard fought competition that does not trump good sportsmanship. Hats of to those guys and I know they will be looking for their revenge when we play on their turf, er, cork in a few weeks.


Duke is on his way home, so the long goodbye is over. We went out with a bang though. Wild night at the new Hooters Apujeong. Beer and shots and decent enough food. And oh yeah, Hooters girls. Ironically, I hadn’t been to a Hooters in the States for many years, just never saw the attraction. And seeing as how they don’t even have hooters in Korea, what’s the point. Well, boys will be boys and all that, so it was a Hooters going away dinner.


Our kind waitress, Jen. She was a good sport about putting up with all our shit.


How may I serve you?


What are you looking at Duke?


Some of our merry group…


Duke receiving one of his gifts, an autographed Hooters T-shirt. Well, not really autographed, more like a bunch of insults from the people who actually like him. God only knows what his enemies would have written…


I know we were getting ripped by now because the “quality” of my photography is rapidly diminishing…


Dukey got a nice baloon from the Hooters staff…


…and they did a little dance for him…


…and we joined in. Duke was standing on a stool and I cut his damn head off…


There he is.


Methinks Duke is going to miss the Korean ladies…


Those girls sure do work hard. Big crowd, people waiting to get in. We got there early to caputre two large tables… I think they made some money on us, but I don’t know how much because Jim generously picked up the tab. He would brook no argument about it.


Ahem. I can’t believe I took this picture. I was drunk, ok? Anyway, what the wait staff lacked in breasts they made up for with other, er, ass-ets. I apologize in advance to any reader who is offended by my objectifying females. But really, isn’t that the point of Hooters?


Party on!


Bill and Joon, soon to be married. She is a sweetheart and Bill is a great guy. I’m very happy for them…


Joon and her friend whose name I don’t recall. I do remember she had braces and wouldn’t give me a big toothy smile. Alas.


Oh yeah, the other gift we gave Duke was a day calendar chock full of raunchy-ass pictures and rude and crude comments. Poor Jen had her tender sensibilities rocked by what she saw. Probably emotionally scarred for life…


Time to go, and the girls graciously posed for a goodbye photo.


Duke had so much fun he decided he wanted to be a Hooters girl.

So, after the party we took taxis back to Itaewon and continued drinking at Dolce Vita. I would say we threw darts as well, but it was more like trying to hit the dart board as much as anything else.

For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to draw on Duke’s body:



Duke’s sexual orientation was called into question several times during the night’s events. Something about him kissing Nolan. Nolan, you never told me that story!

So, after closing down Dolce Vita someone had the idea of going out to Don Valley for a Korean dinner (or an early breakfast since it was 2 a.m.):


Yeah guys, flip off the photographer, all the cool kids are doing it…


“Fuck you”, “No, FUCK YOU!”


Me and Grant at the end of a long night. Good thing we were sitting down.


And so the evening ended with some tears and fond farewells. Duke is one of a kind and he is going to be missed by many. Especially Ji Young.

Today I was not worth a crap. Big surprise. I did go out and pay my car insurance. Last year is was $350. This year it was $420. I asked why the increase and was told that the Korean government now charges extra fees for those with SOFA license tags. Which really pisses me off, not because of the money but on principle. We are here to defend their asses, why rip us off in the process?

I decided to take a “short cut” home. Took a wrong turn and wound up going through the Namsan tunnel and paid a 2000W toll. Got turned around bass ackwards and wound up going through the other tunnel and paid the toll going in that direction too. Well, if that’s the worst that happens to me I guess I’m lucky. Because I did accidently run a red light and almost got creamed to boot.

I came home around noon and haven’t left the house. Yeah, me at home on a Friday night. Go figure.

On the subject of VD

I’m full of the spirit of Valentines Day this year (oh was the title of this post misleading? Sue me!).

Jenn at I’ve got two shoes has a great post about the bag one of her students used to bring candy to school.

Here it is:


If you can’t make it out it says:

“Loving You
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth”

A perfect Hallmark moment. It may not have the utility of “Bah Humbug” but damn if it doesn’t capture the essence of love.

And what is Valentine’s Day without poetry?

I ask but one thing of you, only one
That always you will be my dream of you.
That never shall I wake to find untrue
All this I have dreamed and rested on.
Forever vanished, like a vision gone.
Out into the night.

Alas how few there are who strike a chord in us
We knew existed, yet so seldom heard its tone
We tremble at the half-forgotten sound.
The world is full of rude awakenings
And heaven borne castles shattered to the ground.
Yet through it all our human longing vainly clings
To a belief in beauty through all wrongs.
Oh stay your hand and leave my heart its songs.

–Amy Lowell
Roger that.

Ain’t I the cats meow?

Tonight the current edition of the BUD challenge league concluded. Coming into the final day I was leading with 52 wins and Jin was second with 50 wins. I was done with my matches and Jin had 3 legs left to play against Rick. Rick took two, which gave me the Championship 52-51! As a result, I was both jazzed and 100,000 Won richer. Imagine my surprise at that outcome:


Woo Hoo!


Jin I am sure was disappointed. He played some damn good darts and I expect he is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future.


Duke was in the money with a third place finish.

With the regular season concluded, it was time for tournament. I drew Duke in the first round. He pretty much owned me in cricket, but I eeked out a victory in the ’01 leg. Duke then won the diddle and to my surprise called ’01 again. I threw a couple of high tons and a 97 late that left me with a 50 out. I sent my first dart at the double bull and hit the damn thing for a stunning victory.

I then beat Rick and Jin to finish at the top of the winners bracket and had about a 2 hour wait until the losers bracket concluded. Sitting at the bar I felt myself fading fast (with the late night associated with Duke’s party I hadn’t slept much). It was either coffee or a nap, and I opted for the later finding a relatively quiet corner in the bar to rest my weary head. I dozed for an hour and woke up feeling better, but still a little out of sorts.

Jin wound up coming back to face me from the losers bracket. He needed to win two matches to take the tourney victory. In the first leg of the first match, I squeaked out a cricket win. Jin then annialated me in ’01, hitting two ton-forty’s and a couple of more tons. I still had 300 points on the board when he hit his double out. He won the diddle and called ’01 again. Although it was much closer, he still pulled out the win.

So, it was the second match for all the marbles. I won the diddle and called cricket and pretty much dominated for the win. In the second leg, it was back to ’01 and we played it neck and neck all the way to the end. Jin had a 32 out and I was sitting on 24. Jin took three throws at the double 16 and missed. My second dart hit the mark and I was the tourney Champ. Made myself another cool 100,000W to boot.


I really was more pleased than I appear here. Just dog ass tired. Jin gave me everything I could handle and I was just drained.


Jin with his second place bounty.


Rick got 3rd place in the tourney. He had already gone home, so Grant stepped in and did his best Rick impression. Actually, not bad….

Here’s some of the motely crew who are regulars in the Dolce Vita dart circuit. Left to right: Colin, Lonnie, Mario, Duke, Jin, Me, Jim, Grant and Cuatro. We may not look like much, but we have a lot of fun and it is a great group of guys.

So, not a bad finish to the weekend, eh?

“Dukey” Vita

So last night was the going away party for Duke at Dolce Vita. In his honor we renamed the bar Dukey Vita.

Bottom line, we ate some good food, drank copious amounts of booze, and threw a bunch of darts. Rather than bore you with my written account of the evening, I will bore you with my photographic record of the events as they transpired. Here we go:


Duke and his sweetheart Ji Young.


Duke is the one who brought me into the dart league and really helped me improve my game. Sometimes now (a lot more than he likes) I kick his ass. And even when I don’t he has to work hard to win. Thanks for the lessons Duke.


And thanks for introducing me to your girlfriend. She shore is purty….


And if you don’t like me hugging on your girl, whatcha gonna do about it?


Lonnie made that tasty con queso dip. Jim made the spinach dip that everyone loved. I brought some deli cuts (ham/turkey/roast beef) and baked a carrot cake.


Duke, Lonnie and Jim chowing down


Duke and my coworker Corine.


I’m pretty sure Ji Young won’t like this photo, but it is part of a series. She goes from this…


to this…


to this. She recovered rather quickly though and was soon back in full party mode….


Lonnie was having a good time…


Duke and Grant. Not sure why Grant was practicing his Nazi salute…


one of the “hash house harriers” joined the party…


Corine was a good sport to hang in there with a bunch of drunk dart players…


Ji Young giving Duke some flowers. He is not going to San Francisco however. He’s on his way to Fort Drum, New York. Heard they had 110 inches of snow up there this week…


No Duke, we said stick the flowers up your….


Friday night Ji Young broght her brother, aunt and sister-in-law to Dolce. They didn’t speak much English, but the sister-in-law told Ji Young I looked like KFC. That’s like ten times that has happened to me now. I am either going to have to start taking it as a compliment or lose some weight. Kamsamnida!


Corine gets the obligatory hug from Duke….


….and seems joyous about having survived to live another day.


Song Hee and Hae Lee took good care of us all night. Thanks!


Coincidentally, Gina from Bless U was celebrating her birthday. She brought her entourage by and we merged parties for awhile.


I got Gina a hug (and a box of chocolates) for her birthday.


I think she liked my hug better….


Gina also brought along her bar’s dart league team…the Blessed Bulls. We have a friendly rivalry and will be playing each other in two weeks…


What the hell?


We had a little impromptu dart tourney…


And me and Scott took Craig and Colin down for first place. Craig is proudly displaying his second place winnings…


My friend Cindy who is going through some sad times right now.


Geez Duke, get a room!

Well, that was pretty much the going away gig. Everyone had a great time I think. Duke’s farewell tour continues today with the BUD Challenge League Tourney. I will also learn today whether I am the league champion. I am two legs ahead of Jin who has to play three legs against Rick this afternoon. He sweeps, he wins. Two legs forces a playoff. We shall see.

Tomorrow will be Duke’s last SIDL game with Take it Easy. Thursday is Duke’s last night in Korea and we are all heading out to the new Hooters for his farewell dinner. I really hate to see him go, but such is life in Korea.

I left Dolce around 1 and stopped into Debut, my favorite after hours bar for a beer and some Korean eye candy…


That’s Ji Young who had DJ duty last night. Ain’t she sweet?

I was sitting at the bar next to a New Zealander pacifist (is that redundant?). He wanted to talk politics so I indulged him for awhile. His world view is of course that America is evil and the root cause of all that is wrong. He actually advocated that Bush be assasinated. Seemed a little inconsistent with his professed belief in non-violence. I tried to talk some sense into him to no avail. The conversation ended when I called him a pussy who was unwilling to fight to defend the freedoms he enjoys in a western society. I told him not to worry because it was likely the USA that he despises would be there to bail out New Zealand when the Islamofascists come calling to impose Sharia law. What a fuckin’ weasel he was.

Oh well. So ended another night in Itaewon.


Everything is gonna be alright. Sometimes the silence is deafening, but if you listen long and hard enough you get a message that is crystal clear. Mere words lack that impact and can be ambiguous or misunderstood. Not so the uninteruppted quiet that tells you in the most eloquent way just how inconsequential what was once valued has now become.

I’m ok with that. What is to be gained from looking backwards? I’m finished with this.

Let it be forgotten
As a flower is forgotten
As a fire that once was singing gold
Let it be forgotten
Forever and ever
Time is a kind friend he will make us old

If anyone should ask
Say it was forgotten
Long and long ago
As a flower, as a fire,
As a hushed footfall
In a long forgotten snow.

–Sara Teasedale

Four strong winds

At Dolce tonight, feeling kinda blue.

This was one of the songs playing on the music machine:

Four strong winds that blow lonely
Seven seas that run high
All those things that don’t change
Come what may
If the good times are all gone
Then I’m bound for movin’ on
I’ll look for you if I’m ever back this way…

I guess that’s a Canadian folk song. The Neil Young version is what was playing tonight.

Things change, it is the nature of life. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck though.

Ah well. What’s done is done.

A good night for darts…

At least last night was. We beat our arch rivals Eberhardt from Scrooge Pub 15-4. Some damn fine dart throwing for Mario and Cuatro. Duke beat the guy he wanted in a grudge match and I threw a six mark and two five marks in cricket. Not too shabby.

Afterwards we went back to Dolce and did lots of shots.

And so ended another day in the life.

The more things change….

….the more they remain the same.

I guess the big news around here is that my good friend Duke is moving back to the States in a couple of weeks. Sounds like a good opportunity for him, but he will really be missed. One of the things I have had a hard time adjusting too here is the transient nature of friendships. I’ve been here two years and seen so many people I have come to know, respect, and enjoy pack up and move on. Yeah, it’s the nature of the expat lifestyle, but I don’t have to like it.

With Duke’s departure we have a big hole to fill on the dart team. Luckily, we picked up Mario. Good guy who hangs out at Dolce a lot anyway so he will fit right in. Duke was numero uno last year, so those are big shoes to fill, but if we all step up our games a bit we should remain competitive.

I’ve also assumed the duties as team captain. Mostly by default, but I don’t have a problem with it. Its mostly just setting the lineup and making sure everyone gets a chance to contribute, while still putting the best possible team on the line each week. I have two goals when it comes to darts: winning and having fun. So hopefully I can maintain the right balance and everyone will be on board.

We lost our first match 9-10 but came back this week and won 16-3. Real tough game coming up against Eberhardt from Scrooge Pub. There’s some bad blood from a couple of years ago (really just one guy on their team) so we are motivated. It will be interesting.

Not much else to say right now. Well, there’s more but I’m not ready to say it.