Taking it to the next level

Last night I completed my first level in my ongoing effort to develop at least some ability to speak Korean. I know my “alphabet” and I can read Hangul now. Not that I know what the hell I’m reading means, but it is good to not be totally illiterate.

My level 2 text looks pretty interesting. I will be learning grammar and sentence structure. And the instruction will be more of a one-on-one format which should make it a little easier. I think my biggest problem is going to be understanding the spoken word. Well, practice, practice, practice is my plan.

What was lost has been found

Maybe. Finished up this months Challenge League last night with Grant and I taking 4 of 6 legs, good enough to clinch the championship. Still not where I want to be, but I did have a 7-mark, several 5-marks, and two ton-40s. Don’t know where those darts were Monday (or last Sunday when Grant and I went 0-6). Its a funny game.

This Sunday we will have the ending tournament and we will probably start the next round of Challenge League in a week. Craig, VJ, and Colin: I hope you guys can find the time to play. We have a lot of fun and it is a great way to get some really focused practice against a variety of players. Yeah, I know you are all busy and have family obligations, but even if you play all your games on Thursday we’d love to have you. That goes for any other dart players out there.

Leave a comment here if you are interested.

A full house beats 3 of a kind

I’m in a bit of a mid-season slump with the dart game these days. Sunday Grant and I lost six straight legs in Challenge League play cricket doubles. To their credit, Jim and Lonnie and then Mario and Jin took care of business, but still, losing sucks.

Last night in SIDL action we were playing the team from Shooters Bar. Mario and Cuatro are both military and because of the exercise they weren’t available for the match. We had 3 players, but it takes 4 to make a team. You can play with three, but in the vacant spot you play a “ghost” which is an automatic loss.

So we get to the bar (Friends, because Shooters is in an off limits area) and I ask a random guy sitting there if he wanted to throw some darts. He agreed, so we had our four. You know, at my age there are not many firsts left in life, but that was my first time picking up a guy in a bar. Hopefully my last as well.

Anyway, I’m up first and their guy takes the diddle, calls cricket and proceeds to throw a 5 mark on 20s. I answered with two pathetic 19s. Fortunately, the guy couldn’t hit a 19 to save his life, and I hit two four marks to get the points back. The point war was on, and we were both over 100 by the time we finished the 20s and 19s. So we played it tight after that, until he pointed the shit out of me on 15s. I was lucky enough to throw a 3BS (three single bulls) and then hit two more for the win.

The 01 game went down to the wire, but he hit the double out first. I took the diddle and called cricket and we had another nail biter that came down to me hitting enough bulls to close and make up the points to take the game and finish 2-1.

Jim dominated his opponent for a 3-0 win, and Lonnie followed up with a 2-1 victory. Vins, the guy I picked up played all right, but his opponent played better and got all three legs.

So, it was on to doubles. We were feeling pretty confident going in with a 7-5 lead. But Jim and Vins went down 0-3. I was teamed up with Lonnie for the cricket doubles and we really believed we would go 3-0 and win the match. Alas, it was not to be. We were both just enough off our games to lose. Kinda got snake bit, because one of the opponents couldn’t hit anything, except triples for points and double bulls for the win. Weird how that happens. So, we took a 0-3 drubbing and were pretty disgusted with ourselves.

Ah well, going in we thought we would be satisfied getting 5 legs with only 3 players. Vins lost all his games so it didn’t make a difference having him (although we really appreciated his willingness to fill the void). And we were in a position to take the match and failed to play up to our capabilities, so that’s how it goes. We just have to play better the rest of the way.

Next week we have our sister team from Dolce, the Sliders. Looking forward to that match. I just need to find my game between now and then.

In other news, I saw a movie Saturday: The Breakup. It was not as funny as the previews made it look to be, but Jennifer Anniston is easy on the eyes and the ending wasn’t typical Hollywood. I went with another Korean couple and afterwards they took me to a traditional Korean soju hut and got me drunk on my ass. Still, it was fun because it was different. I was the only foriegner in the joint and got a few stares, but what’s the fun in hanging out with westerners all the time anyway?

So that’s the story.


Had an interesting evening tonight. My realtor invited me to a dinner show at the Walker Hill Shearton. Her way of saying thanks for renewing my lease (and her commission). Also, I am not a pain in the ass for them as I tend to take care of problems directly with the landlord. She is trying to get the owner to pick up my internet fees as part of the lease. Don’t see why he would do that now that I’ve signed, but we shall see. I might start being a pain in the ass in retaliation if they don’t want to negotiate…

Anyway, the show was surprisingly good overall. During dinner we were treated to some traditional Korean dancing and music, including a great percussion performance and some fan dancing. Quite pleasing to watch. The food was about what you would expect at a dinner theatre, but I cleaned my plate anyway (steak and sweet potato). No idea what the price was because of course she picked up the tab. She mentioned wanting to go to 3 Alley Pub, so I told her I would reciprocate by taking her there some time. I’ll come out ahead on that deal for sure.

So, the main show was called “Subway”. The premise was you followed a subway through several stops in various cities and the performers did song and dance routines from Broadway productions set in that venue. Started in NYC, then Chicago, London, Seoul, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janiero.

The performers were average for professionals (I’ve actually seen better in community theatre), but the stage props and settings were outstanding. I had seen the musical “Chicago” on Broadway, and the rendition of All That Jazz and Cell Block Tango were pretty disappointing by comparison. Still, they wore some damn sexy costumes so you take the good with the bad I suppose. For Seoul, they kinda wimped out and had some youngsters break dancing and then did some Abba numbers pretending it was a concert in Seoul. Talk about western cultural imperialism!

Ah well, it was free and it was different. And actually pretty entertaining for the most part. I’d give one thumb up and depending on what it actually costs to see the performance would recommend it as a change of pace.

On the passing of Cathy Seipp

A person I never met, but one who’s writing I admired. As she lay dying I was touched by the testimonials of her many friends and admirers. And I was reminded that to be truly loved is ultimately the greatest measure of success one can achieve in a lifetime.

Here’s a quote that I think captures her unique ability to cut to the heart of the matter in a concise and insightful manner that few writers ever master:

A society that allows Playboy is not a society that allows women to be stoned to death for adultery. Human nature being what it is, we’re probably stuck with either burkas or naked balloon breasts forever. I know which I prefer.—Catherine Siepp

Her good friend Moxie has a tribute here.

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

–khalil gibran

It’s a small world

I dropped into Debut the other night on my way home. Just one guy sitting at the bar. Before I could take my coat off, he bought me a beer. I thanked him and he said “how’s it going, John”.

I asked if we had met, and he said “no, but I have been reading your blog from day one”. That always trips me out when it happens. But it got weirder. He also worked at the U.S. Department of Education before he came to Korea. He got here a few months before I did. I don’t think we ever met at ED, but he worked with a guy I spent a lot of time with. Anyway, he knew my whole story, all the ups and downs of my experience here almost as well as I did.

I didn’t have much time to chat, but I left him an open invite to email me (or comment here) if he wants to get togehter sometime for a few drinks and talk of the old days.

It was a real cool experience though.

Who’s on first?

The other day I was talking to a Korean woman about something or other on the military base. She responded in Korean “wie” (why?), but I was hearing the English “where”, so I said Yongsan. So, she kept saying wie and I kept repeating Yongsan. Not quite as funny as this famous Abbott and Costello routine, but my ignorance of basic Korean is so astounding you just gotta laugh sometimes.

And that’s the way it was

No darts tonight, Jeckles from Gecko’s asked for a postponement because they were short players this week. Will have to schedule a make-up match, but it will be in a couple of weeks. One of our players is a soldier involved in the annual RSOI exercise.

Saturday night I wanted to avoid the St. Paddy’s day crowd in Itaewon so I went to a Sojo house in Hannam-dong with a friend. Had a couple of bottles of soju and and a shell soup (little crabs in broth). Tasty enough, but my limited chopsticks skills were severly taxed trying to pull those little suckers from the shell. Then we did the norebang and later wound up closing Dolce at 0330.

Yesterday I finally did the pedicure thing on post. My heals were severely callused, with these huge fissures, cracks, and chasms that sometimes bleed and make walking difficult. The poor girl assigned to me was quite shocked at the condition of my feet but her limited English skills prevented her from fully articulating her obvious disgust. She did say “you should pay double”. I guess she was kidding because I just paid the regular price ($20). An hour later my feet looked much better and I was amazed at the pile of dead skin on the floor. They told me I need to come back next week for further work, and then come on a regular basis thereafter. I felt so ashamed that I gave the pedicure girl a W20,000 tip.

And that was the extent of my exciting weekend.

Should I stay or should I go?

Hell, I am staying. Looks like I made it over the hump at least….

You are 74% ready to get out of Korea


You have them figured out. You know it is a 5,000 year-old shell game and there is no pea. You are already over the hump and can probably remain in Korea indefinitely without any permanent damage. (don’t make fun of the ESL teachers too vociferously because they still buy in to it all)

The “Is It Time To Get Out of Korea?” Quiz
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Hat Tip: I’m A Seoul Man


What would Gandhi do? Apparently surrender.

Fred Thompson, former Senator and current Law and Order actor, as well as the man I would love to see make a run at the Presidency has a great post about the Code Pink peacenik crowd and their love of Gandhi up at NRO. Check it out!

Whistlin’ Dixie

My daughters Renee and Avery have taken some umbrage at my negative reference to those silly girls who call themselves Dixie Chicks.

One of the things I liked about Team America: World Police was the way it lampooned entertainers who mindlessly mouth left wing talking points and expect their celebrity to somehow make what they say unassailably the truth. All it really proves is that you can be extraordinarily talented in one regard, and yet still be completely ignorant. The massive egos of these “stars” somehow leads them to believe that they are experts in matters of politics and foreign policy and the unwashed masses should unquestioningly heed the wisdom of their betters.


And my issue with the Dixie Bitches has never been about free speech. Yes, I believe it is wrong to trash your country in front of an overseas audience. A nation is a family and while I’m fine with vehement disagreements within the family, you don’t bring your neighbors into the fight. But that’s just me. No question, Ms. Maines had every right to say what she said. Just as I have every right to criticize her for saying it. And I can choose not to listen to their music or buy their CDs. And if I owned a radio station I could decline to add them to my play list.

What pissed me off more than what she said is all her whining about “censorship”. The Constitution guarantees that the state will take no action to abridge freedom of speech. I am unaware of any arrests or government intervention to stop these ignorant women from saying foolish things. What Ms. Maines really desires is freedom to say what she wants without consequences. She is all courageous up on stage mouthing her idiocies but doesn’t think it fair when people react by exercising their freedom to speak against her or boycott her music. That is just pure chickenshit.

Sorry daughters, but Dad is sticking to his guns on this one.

Dolce Dart Report

Last night both of Dolce Vita’s “B” Division teams were playing home games. Not a problem as the bar has 3 boards (although only two are “legal” for league play). My guys all arrived between 6 and 6:30 and encamped on our preferred board. The guys from Sliders arrived around 7:15 and it turns out they preferred the same dart board. It looked like it might get ugly because my first inclination was to be an asshole about it (squatters rights and all that), but after consulting with my teammate Jim (who also owns the bar) we decided keeping the peace was more important than any given board. So, when I relented they said that since our whole team was there already (they only had two at that point) we should keep the board we had warmed up on. So, a conflict was avoided and good will prevailed.

We had M&M from Blue Frog. One of those teams that can bite you in the ass when they bring their best game. They didn’t last night and we took the match 15-4. I wasn’t on my game, but played well enough to go 6-0, but I only threw one ton and one 5-mark. I am currently ranked first in our division, but that kind of darts won’t be enough to hold on to that lofty spot. It’s nice to see your name up there, but I know I’m far from being the best player. I am both inconsistent and lucky, but as long as Take it Easy keeps playing well as a team I am happy.

Sliders is really coming on strong and took down the first place team from 3 Alley Pub (Alley Rats) 11-8. That was big for us because it should be enough to put us back into the division lead by one leg.

We are looking forward to our head-to-head match with Sliders in three weeks.

Long Time Gone

My parents raised me tenderly,
I was their only son.
My mind got mixed with ramblin’
When I was all so young,
And I left my home the first time
When I was twelve and one.
I’m a long time a-comin’, Maw,
An’ I’ll be a long time gone.

On the western side of Texas,
On the Texas plains,
I tried to find a job o’work
But they said I’s young of age.
My eyes they burned when I heard,
“Go home where you belong!”
I’m a long time a-comin’,
An’ I’ll be a long time gone.

I remember when I’s ramblin’
Around with the carnival trains,
Different towns, different people,
Somehow they’re all the same.
I remember children’s faces best,
I remember travelin’ on.
I’m a long time a-comin’,
I’ll be a long time gone.

I once loved a fair young maid
An’ I ain’t too big to tell,
If she broke my heart a single time,
She broke it ten or twelve.
I walked and talked all by myself,
I did not tell no one.
I’m a long time a-comin’, babe,
An’ I’ll be a long time gone.

Many times by the highwayside,
I tried to flag a ride.
With bloodshot eyes and gritting teeth,
I’d watch the cars roll by.
The empty air hung in my head
I’s thinkin’ all day long.
I’m a long time a-comin’,
An’ I’ll be a long time gone.

You might see me on your crossroads
When I’m a-passin’ through.
Remember me how you wished to
As I’m a-driftin’ from your view.
I ain’t got the time to think about it,
I got too much to get done.
Well, I’m a long time comin’
An’ I’ll be a long time gone.

If I can’t help somebody
With a word or song,
If I can’t show somebody
They are travelin’ wrong.
But I know I ain’t no prophet
An’ I ain’t no prophet’s son.
I’m just a long time a-comin’
An’ I’ll be a long time gone.

So you can have your beauty,
It’s skin deep and it only lies.
And you can have your youth,
It’ll rot before your eyes.
Just give to me my gravestone
With it clearly carved upon:
“I’s a long time a-comin’,
An’ I’ll be a long time gone.”

–Bob Dylan

I actually took the Long Time Gone moniker almost 20 years ago when I played in the CompuServe chat rooms. It was inspired by the Crosby, Stills, & Nash song of the same name…“it’s been a long time comin’, it’s gonna be a long time gone…”. Just wanted to be clear that I have no association with the Dixie Bitches song. But having found this Dylan tune by chance, I must say it is a good fit and henceforth it will be the “official song” of LTG.

Just so you know.

Home is where I am

Still too cold for my taste. Even got a nice dusting of snow this evening. Good night to stay home a practice my Korean. Yep, I am finally resolved to learn to speak the language of the natives. More or less. There is no excuse for being here over two years and having a vocabulary of 50 words. Pathetic really. Anyway, I am back to taking classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays on post. Real basic at this point, just relearning the alphabet and writing in Hangul. The instructor won’t allow using the left hand since it apparently is disrespectful. Seeing as how I write the characters equally bad with either hand (does that make me ambidexterous?) it is no problem for me. Apparently I will actually be able to read after 4 weeks, although I won’t know what the hell I’m reading.

I’ve also got access to the Rosetta Stone program through Army Learning Online. I did the first lesson on there tonight. I actually did pretty well at recognition, but my pronunciation is an embarassment. Ah well, got lots of time on my hands, and it feels good to do something relatively productive with it.

Spent last night recovering from my Monday night over indulgence and I’m thinking I will reserve my Tuesday and Wednesday nights for hanging out at the villa. Monday, Thursday, and Sunday I have darts. And Friday and Saturday are Friday and Saturday…although I hope to spend at least one of those out of Itaewon.

Best laid plans and all that.


Maybe my best night overall in darts yesterday. Threw my first Ton-80 in competition and had several 5-marks and tons. We took Cake Mix from Wolfhound Pub 12-7 in a hard fought match. They are the first place team in their division and gave us all we could handle.

It was a rather bizarre match. They took the first singles game 3-0, we won the second and third game 3-0, and they won the last singles game 3-0. So heading into doubles we were tied at 6 legs each. Jim and I were paired up for the 701 game. As good as I threw in singles I was just a tad off in doubles, hitting triple one’s and triple five’s instead of the 20. And I threw back to back 7’s. Luckily, my partner was on his game. Still, we were sitting on 140 and our opponents were shooting for a 16 out. I finally hit a ton and on his next turn Jim hit the double 20 out for the win. We took the second leg too thanks to Jim hitting another double out, which put us up 9-6.

Cuatro and Mario lost a tough first leg in cricket doubles, but took the next two to secure the match victory. Jim hit yet another out to win the team game for us.

Afterwards there were many, many congratulatory shots. Tequila, Jagermeister, blow jobs. Potent mix that had me staggering home and spending time hugging the toilet. Well, it was just one of those nights.

In other news it turned damn cold here literally overnight. We had an incredible February, almost spring-like. Even the gaenalee is in bloom. Yesterday we had some light snow flurries along with a biting breeze. Today is sunny but in the 20s.

What else, I have a new cell phone that I can actually hear and be heard with (a Motorola Razr if that matters). And I finally went to see a movie in a Korean theatre (it was next door to the phone store). I saw Music and Lyrics which was pretty lame, but the moviegoing experience was very good. Unlike the States, you get to pick your seat in advance. The other big difference was there was no price gouging on concessions. Large popcorn and coke for less than W5000. Now that I’ve gotten over my phobia I will definitely be seeing more movies.

And that my friends is all I have to say for now.