“And when did you get so stupid?”

Michael Moore, well known as a fat weasel and faux documentarian, goes on the attack after some Canadian journalists have the audacity to question a basic premise of his new film:

Michael Moore received a standing — and sustained — ovation following the screening of his latest documentary, Sicko, at the Cannes Film Festival Saturday. But some critics suggested that in censuring the U.S. health system, Moore was overly generous in his praise of other countries’. At a news conference, Canadian journalists harangued Moore for, as Toronto Star film critic Peter Howell wrote, making “it seem as if Canada’s socialized medicine is flawless and that Canadians are satisfied with the status quo.” Apparently taken aback by the assault from the Canadian journalists, Moore said, “You Canadians! You used to be so funny! … You gave us all our best comedians. When did you turn so dark?”

Well, unlike many Americans, I actually know some real live Canadians, and trust me, they are not at all dark. In fact, they tend to be quite pale. Ok, so I’m not funny either.

But seriously, there are problems with healthcare in the U.S., no question. I was amazed when I visited a border town in Mexico last year and observed numerous medical clinics catering to American citizens. Not unlike what I understand to be the case in the U.S. cities along the Canadian border where folks from the GWN who can afford quality healthcare and don’t want to wait months to get it, receive treatment.

If I had been one of those reporters I would have noted that it is far better to be a “humorless”* Canadian than a fat** asshole. But that’s just me.

* Canadians in fact are very funny, check out their blogs if you don’t believe me.

** While I have no room to talk when it comes to being overweight, in comparison to Moore I am practically skinny. And I like fat people just fine, it is fat assholes that I despise. Actually, I don’t care much for skinny assholes either come to think of it.

We’re number 2!

Championship game against the Alley Ratz came down to the team game and we came up one dart short. We went down fighting though, and it’s hard to hang your head after a successful season and finals match as close as this one.

A recap:

and then the team game where both of us had taken shots at the out, and they got it first.

Lots of “woulda, coulda, shouda” but also some fine darts. We had to claw and scratch and dig ourselves out of a hole and gave them our best shot. We didn’t let them Take it Easy.

Congratulations to the Ratz.

Wait till next year!

Forsaken by the bulls blues

Tourney time this weekend. Yesterday was the SIDL singles tournament at Blue Frog. I had a bye in the first round, then faced Grant. He took me in ’01 (overcoming my T-35) and I was pretty merciless in the cricket leg, pointing like mad. I was up by well over 100 points, needed two bulls for the win, and could not connect. I probably average one bull per 3 darts. I threw at least 20 times at the MFer with nothing to show for it. So, I lost a game I should have won. I believe it was the most disgusted I have every been with myself after a dart game.

I took the next three matches in the losers bracket throwing pretty solid and actually getting what turned out being the high out for the tourney, a 78. Then I wound up facing Cuatro. In the first leg he schooled me in cricket (pointing me at every opportunity) and winning handily. I held on to win the ’01 leg, so it was back to cricket for the marbles. I put my schooling from the first leg to good use, and had a one point lead heading into bulls. And then I suffered the recurring nightmare of being completely unable to throw a GD bullseye. Arrgh. I hate to lose, but losing like that just makes me so aggravated.

The good news I guess is that I still managed a 6th place finish, good for W40,000. Plus, W10,000 for high out. And I was really pleased that Colin played so well yesterday, winding up in 4th place. I know he was jazzed about that.

Also played in the inaugural Dolce Vita Friday night tourney. Had a good partner, but we faced two other strong teams out of the box and just didn’t execute well enough to win either match, so suffered an early elimination. Still, Jim was happy that we had twenty players there, and I’m thinking YJ enjoyed a packed bar of hard drinking darts players. Craig and his partner Alistair won the tourney and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger grin than the one the Goat was wearing after that victory. Congrats again!

Someday I will post something here that doesn’t revolve around darts. But today is not that day.

A match made in heaven

Well, maybe not heaven, but I do believe last night’s playoff match against Sliders was the overall best I have ever had the pleasure of playing.

Sliders, the other Dolce Vita “B” team took first place in the East Division (we finished second in West) and had handed us our most lopsided loss earlier in the season when they took us down 15-4. So, we knew going in we had our work cut out for us. I was undecided how best to set our lineup and after discussing with the team we decided to do it the way we had done it all season, by random draw. In playoff competition, the first team that wins 10 legs takes the match and we felt we had to take at least 6 legs in singles to have a chance.

I was up first against Ray, a dangerous player who can kill you with triples when he is on. Fortunately for me, he was off his game a little and I had my darts working good enough to take a 3-0 win.

Lonnie was up next and he had the misfortune of drawing Alistair, the top ranked player in “B” league (who had lost 2 legs total all season). Lonnie struggled early in the season, but he has really stepped up his game in the second half, including throwing a 9-mark. He has been beating me regularly in practice ’01 games and playing with more confidence overall, but Alistair appeared to be a real mismatch. Lonnie was not intimidated and played a great ’01 game and just missed the double 17 out before Alistair outed on 4. The cricket game was not as close, but Lonnie hung tough and made Alistair work for the win. So, after two games we are tied 3-3.

Mario had to rush down from Uijongbu where he’s working this week to make the match, and he drew Jin for the third game. I think those two are pretty evenly matched, but last night Jin threw just well enough to take Mario 3-0, making it 3-6 going into the last singles game.

To reach our goal of winning six legs in singles we needed a sweep from Cuatro. He was playing Grant who has really been throwing great darts this season. Cuatro took a hard fought win in the first cricket leg, but Grant came back with a blistering ’01 game for the win. Cuatro won the diddle for the third leg, called cricket, and won handily. So, we stood at 5-7 going into doubles.

It was Mario and Jim versus Grant and Alistair in doubles ’01. We had to have one leg to get to the cricket doubles and to be honest I was not confident it was going to happen. Grant and Alistar have been pretty much unbeatable as ’01 partners this season and the way they played in the first leg it appeared the season was about to be over for Take it Easy. To their credit, Mario and Jim maintained confidence and focus and threw great darts to win that key second leg. Grant and Alistair recovered and took the third leg, leaving us at 6-9 heading into doubles cricket.

Cautro and I knew there was no margin for error, we had to take all three cricket legs to force a team game to decide the match. We came out smokin’ in the first leg and dominated Fred and Ray for the win. They jumped out to an early lead in the second leg, and we may not have caught them but for their inexplicable inability to close 15s. This allowed us to catch up and pass them in points and close 17s, our last open number. So, we had the advantage of 3 bulls to 5 and we took care of business for the sweep, leaving the scored tied 9-9 going into the team game.

During the season the team game (’01) is generally meaningless and consequently not taken too seriously. Not so last night, as players from both teams were quite intense and focused on getting the win. We built a hundred point lead which kept the pressure on them. We worked it down to a double 16 out and Jim (aka Mr. Closer) hit it with his first dart giving Take it Easy a sweet and hard earned victory. We now advance to the championship game next Monday against the 3 Alley Pub Alley Ratz.

Both of the Dolce Vita teams had great seasons, and it was nice that we played it so tight in our playoff match up. Hats off to the Sliders guys who have nothing to be ashamed of, our team had to throw some of our best darts of the year to eek out the win.

Thanks to YJ (Dolce Vita owner) for all the support she provided this season. She fed us all pizza last night and remained nuetral (even though her husband Jim plays for TIE), saying whoever wins Dolce will be playing for the championship. Thanks also to Colin and Scott from Blessed Bulls who came out and cheered us on. Your encouragement and support were really appreciated.

Had a tough negotiation with the Alley Ratz captain on picking the nuetral bar for Monday’s match. We wanted Bless U, they wanted Wolfhound. I nixed Wolfhound because there is only one board available there, so after much discussion we agreed to play at Friends Bar (halfway up hooker hill). Alley Ratz finished first in our division (finishing ahead of us by four legs) and we went 1-1 in head-to-head play during the regular season. They are an outstanding team and we should have a great match next week.

Win or lose, I must say this has been an amazing season in many ways. We lost our top player (Duke) early in the year but held it together to have a very successful and competitive team. And a team is what we became. We have a good mix of guys and we played through the good and bad nights without dissension or controversy. What mattered most was how we picked each other up, it seemed like when our top rated players were off, the other guys were always there to fill the gap. And that is what being a team is all about. I’m just proud to have been part of it.

First round victory

We took Shooter R Us tonight 10-3. No thanks to me. I took the first leg in cricket then let the ’01 game slip away. Then got blasted in the 3rd leg cricket game. Cuatro got us even with a 2-1 win, then Mario and Jim pulled out 3-0 wins to give us a commanding lead. Cuatro and I finished with a first leg victory in the ’01 doubles to seal the victory.

Thursday we have the other Dolce team, the Sliders. They beat us 15-4 in our previous game so we have our work cut out for us. Still, if we do what we are capable of we should give them a good match. Time will tell.

Strange happenings

I had a kinda weird night yesterday. It started out in typical fashion with me playing darts at Dolce Vita. I got there around 7 and left around 10. I had 3 (or maybe 4) draft beers during that time frame and also consumed 3 slices of pizza.

I walked home to the villa and as is my habit took the stairs from the basement parking garage up to my abode. Now, I live on the second floor, which makes 3 flights of stairs. Ok, sometimes I get confused and lose count. Like last night. So, I punch in my code on the front door keypad, open the door and step inside my apartment. Only, it wasn’t MY apartment. Which dawned on me pretty quickly when I noted the tasteful furnishings and lack of clutter, not to mention a barking dog.

So, I beat a hasty retreat but was more than a little astounded that the apartment directly below mine has the exact same four digit combination that I chose for my door (and just recently changed due to my having fired my now former housekeeper). What are the odds of that happening? (meaning the same combination, not the odds of me firing the housekeeper).

Shortly thereafter I needed to run a quick errand near the Hangangjin subway station. It’s only a few blocks away and I could have easily walked, but I didn’t. You know, one of the first observations most folks make upon moving to Korea is that traffic laws are very loosely enforced. Running red lights, driving on the sidewalk, illegal parking are all par for the course. Not that I engage in such practices, but it is a common enough occurrence as to not warrant more than a shrug.

The one exception I have noticed is drunk driving enforcement. Several times I have encountered the check points where the Korean police stop you and have you blow into a breathalyzer and then proceed on your way (provided you blow negative, which of course has always been the case with me). I support such tactics because it is insane to drive while drunk. When I’m driving in this wonderful country it often seems like even the stone cold sober drivers operate their vehicles as if inebriated. Maintaining strict situational awareness and exercising maximum defensive driving techniques is mandatory when sharing the road with insane cabbies, aggressive bus drivers, fearless motor scooter operators, and a generally clueless driving population.

Anyway, last night one of these checkpoints was set up right in front of the Hangangjin subway station. Now, I KNEW I was not drunk, but I also knew that I had never had anything to drink when I previously had to do the “blow and go” routine. Although I was not overly worried, I admit I was a tad disconcerted. So, I put my window down, the police officer sticks the breath detector in my face, I blow, and it beeps. He tells me to blow again, and I get the same result. At this point, another policeman, rather burly by Korean standards, comes to the window and barks “get out of the car”. I said, do you want me to pull over to the side of the road (this is a major four lane street) and he responds by yelling “GET OUT OF THE CAR”. So, I get out of the car and he gestures for me to go over to a police car parked at the side of the street.

Ok, at this point I am no longer disconcerted, I am actually feeling a fair amount of fear regarding the possible outcome and consequences of my first encounter with Korean law enforcement. I was quite confident I was not drunk, legally or otherwise, I’m a big guy and 3 or 4 beers over a 3 or 4 hour time period is just not enough to get me there. But that damn box I blew into seemed to believe otherwise. So the cop at the side of the road asks for my drivers license and asks if I speak hangul-mal. I figured if he heard my Korean he would definitely think I was drunk, so I said “annio”. About this time the burly cop walks up (he had moved my car to the side of the road) and asks for my license, and I indicated the other cop already had it. He took it, saw it was a SOFA license, and asked if I was Army. I said civilian. He then asked the question cops the world over must ask in this situation: “how much have you been drinking?” and I gave the standard response of “two beers” (yeah, yeah, not the whole truth but I was under a lot of stress).

The first cop then starts explaining the facts of life. Well, not explaining as much as drawing me a picture. On a piece of paper he wrote .5 with an arrow pointing up and .2 with an arrow pointing down. He pointed at the up arrow and said something about license and “100 days”, which I guess meant a suspension although in the back of my mind I was wondering about Korean prison conditions. I never did grasp the significance of the .2 and down arrow. Then he set up the high tech breathalyzer with a tube to blow in. They gave me some water and indicated I should gargle, which seemed like a good idea to me too. He patiently demonstrated how I was to blow into the tube, and showed me that the breath reader was set at 00.0. So, I blew. But the cop said “not long enough”. He reset to zero and had me blow again and I got it right this time.

Then we all stood there watching my “score” get tallied. It went 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and I was about to freak out until I realized that it was the number after the decimal. Whew. Then the big numbers came up, but thankfully stopped well under that ominous “5”. 2.5 to be exact, one half of the legal limit. So, I was vindicated. Mr. Burly Cop returned my keys and said I could go.

I must admit my heart was racing and I had to smoke a couple of cigarettes before I resumed driving. You know, I was not drunk but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t stupid. Stupid for putting myself in that situation. Stupid for driving after any drinking period. Especially when I know you have to have your wits about you whenever you drive the mean streets of Seoul. Had I been in an accident I have no illusions about who the courts would deem to be at fault.

So, that was my lesson learned and my advice to you wherever you may be is: if you drink, don’t drive. Nothing good can come of it.

The Grand Finale

We finished up the dart season last night against our neighbor bar, the Bless U Blessed Bulls. First place for us was not mathematically impossible, but we had to win three more legs than the Alley Ratz in the final game and we had the stronger opponent. So, we went in knowing every leg was important. Blessed Bulls had clinched the wild card slot so they were just playing for pride. And they are one proud bunch.

Cuatro got us started out right by taking his match 3-0. Mario was next and he has been struggling a little the past few weeks. He dropped the cricket leg, but came from behind in the next two ’01 games to secure a 2-1 win. Lonnie followed and had the misfortune of drawing Scott as his opponent. Lonnie threw some good darts, but lost two close legs, resulting in an 0-3.

I was matched up with Craig. We had also played when our teams met earlier in the season, and I had pulled out a 2-1 victory. He was looking for a little revenge last night I expect. Anyway, I managed to take the first cricket leg and was feeling confident going into the ’01 game. Confidence doesn’t take the place of throwing good darts however, and Craig punished me by outing while I still in the high hundreds. But that was nothing compared to the ass kicking I took in the third leg. Craig took the diddle and called cricket. He closed 20’s to start and I hit one. He threw a 19 and a 20 for points. I missed 3 at the 19. He hit 4 19s, I answered with 2 18s. Not looking good, but I’ve come back from bigger deficits. Craig then hit the triple 18, triple 17, and triple 16 for the rare and coveted 9 mark. And that was that. I did manage to throw three single bulls in a meaningless gesture prior to be dispatched by Craig.

Koichi and Craig then took Jim and Mario 3-0 in ’01 doubles, while Cuatro and I followed up with 3-0 win in cricket doubles. Which put us at 9-9 going into the team game. That game came down to the wire as well, but Lonnie managed a double 3 out which gave Take it Easy a 10-9 victory for the night. It doesn’t get any closer than we played it last night and we really appreciated the competition and sportsmanship of the Blessed Bulls.

Playoffs start next week….

Those wacky Canadians

One thing about the expat lifestyle is you get to meet and interact with lots of folks from other lands who are also on a quest of discovery. I have certainly encountered more Canadians here in Korea than I did in all my years of living in relatively close proximity to the Great White North. And having made some friends amongst these strange and mysterious people I have learned that the stereotypical view many Americans hold of our northern cousins just doesn’t hold up on close examination. In fact, I have found that Canadians are in many ways people in their own right. Go figure. (that was intended as satirical humor, just in case you missed it. Don’t want this post to be used as motivation to fire up the Blessed Bulls prior to our Monday matchup).

What prompted this post was a couple of things. First, I find this link to a story about a survey being conducted to determine “the worst Canadian of all time”. Seems that some folks want to establish that not all Canucks are polite, kind, and generous. The article says that Celine Dion and Shania Twain are in the running, but of course the leader is some hockey guy named Harold Ballard. And if you have heard of him, I expect you are Canadian (or at least related to one).

My vote, if I had one, which I don’t, being as how like most Americans I know little of that mysterious land (although I expect I could name at least five provinces if someone held a gun to my head), would be for the Canadian English teacher I encountered on last week’s river cruise. Now, this wasn’t really a hoity-toity affair, but most people dressed appropriately for the occassion. And the young cadre of ill-groomed, blue jeaned and t-shirted young people hanging out at the stern just screamed English teachers. Hey, live and let live and all that. I even borrowed a cigarette lighter from one of them. Now, they weren’t being particularly rude or loud or anything. But their wimpy facial hair and goatees just screamed liberal and their superior attitude reaked of disdain for anything as uncouth as an ignorant American. I knew they weren’t french (lack of capitalization intentional) as there were no berets and the women had shaved their legs and armpits. So, they had to be Canadian, right? Or maybe I just read too much into it. Whatever. (and yeah, I am still being satrical. Although, I guess if you have to continuously point that out, it nullifies the satire, doesn’t it?)

At the end of the cruise we had docked but folks were still milling about drinking wine, chatting and enjoying the fine April evening. Then one of the aforementioned individuals, a male in his early 20s, began removing his clothing. There were at least 50 people on the fantail plus another hundred or so walking along the Han riverside. He got down to his boxers, climbed up on the railing, and announced he was going to do a backflip into the river. And to the shock of the more reserved patrons and the amusement of his friends, he proceeded to do so. It was pretty insane. He swam around a little and I walked over to the rail and noted there was no way he could climb back on board and given the height of the dock (and lack of ladders) and the flood levee that constitutes the banks of the Han, he was going to have to be swimming for quite some time. Given his apparent state of inebriation I had visions of a tragic end to an otherwise pleasant day.

After 10 minutes or so, one of his friends climbed over the railing and perched precariously on the small outcrop at the stern and offered his arm, which was taken, and then another gent helped hoist him out of the water and back on board. The swimmer stood there grinning and dripping on the deck and must have enjoyed the attention, because he then jumped back into the river. You know, I’m sure he imagined himself the cool daredevil, but if he had heard the comments being muttered by the passengers standing near me, he might have been ashamed even in his drunken state of mind. Meanwhile, all these Koreans are lining the riverside snapping photos. God only knows what they were saying, but I don’t expect they were impressed. Eventually he was again pulled from the river and someone asked his friends where the swimmer was from. One of the gals loudly proclaimed “today he is an American!” Which kind of pissed me off and confirmed my earlier suspicions regarding his country of origin. I’ll bet he also has a maple leaf on his backpack.

But in all honesty I will say he is the exception to the otherwise fine cadre of Canadians I have had the pleasure of interacting with here in the land of the morning calm. So, here’s a shout out to Jenn of I’ve Got Two Shoes fame. My first Canadian buddy who I hope decides to stay in Korea, takes a job in Seoul, and joins the dart league. And Von Jackass, a smart and witty guy. Then there is Keel, the online novelist. Here’s a taste from Chapter 4 (which I hadn’t read before writing this post, but makes me feel less bad for good naturedly ragging on those who remained loyal to the Crown):

Although terrorism had not yet made a mark on Canada, it had sickened him to see what had befallen his historical brothers to the south – the brothers that had rebelled against the King – the black sheep of the family. They were still family though, even if they didn’t know it and acted like a spoiled kid sometimes. Keel had worked with American Special Forces in his past and had made lifelong friends with some of them. They were his brothers in arms and he felt the two countries were brothers as well. Brothers that had a common historical background, even if one had broken away from the empire at an early age while the other hadn’t.

And finally a guy I actually admire, The Goat. Of course, he is from Alberta which from what I’ve heard is not much like the rest of Canada, at least in attitude. You need to check out this video on his blog which is funny as hell and is exactly how I intended to introduce myself to Jenn should we ever meet in the 3D world.

The Goat is also a real creative guy and a fierce dart competitor. Leave a number open with him in cricket at your peril. His update of a Johnny Cash song (left in my comments to the previous post) is classic. In fact, it deserves posting in its own right:

(sung to the tune of “Don’t take your guns to town”)

A young shooter named The Goat grew restless on the farm
A bovidae filled with wonderlust who really meant no harm
He changed his clothes and shined his shoes
And combed his light hair down
And his wife cried as he walked out

Don’t take your darts to the ‘Twan babe
Leave your darts at home Goat
Don’t take your darts to the ‘Twan

He laughed and kissed his wife
And said your Goat’s a damn good man
I can shoot as true and straight as anybody can
But I wouldn’t shoot without a bet
I’d turn nobody down
But she cried again as he rode away

Don’t take your darts to the ‘Twan babe
Leave your darts at home Goat
Don’t take your darts to the ‘Twan

He sang a song as on he rode
His darts around his hips
He rode into the ‘Twan
A smile upon his lips
He stopped and walked into a bar
And laid his money down
But his mother’s words echoed again

Don’t take your darts to the ‘Twan babe
Leave your darts at home Goat
Don’t take your darts to the ‘Twan

He drank his first of many shots to calm his shaking hand
And tried to tell himself he had a damn good plan
A dusty expat at his side began to laugh him down
And he heard again his wife’s words

Don’t take your darts to the ‘Twan babe
Leave your darts at home Goat
Don’t take your darts to the ‘Twan

Filled with rage then
The Goat reached for his darts to play
But the stranger threw his darts and outed
Right away
As The Goat dug in his wallet
The crowd all gathered ’round
And wondered at his final words

Don’t take your darts to the ‘Twan babe
Leave your darts at home Goat
Don’t take your darts to the ‘Twan

So, who says Canadians don’t have a sense of humor?

UPDATE: Jenn contributes this interesting link of popular Canadian misconceptions…

Rollin’ on the river

Yes, I am alive and relatively well. Wanted to clear that up.

Saturday I took a wine cruise on the Han river. It was supposed to be a group outing with a bunch of people from work, but in the end there were just 3 of us. A good time was had and much wine was consumed. Which I guess was the point.

Sunday I took the cable car to Seoul Tower. First time I had been up there. A tad hazy, but still a spectacular view.

Last night we managed to take the Alley Ratz 12-7. That may have been enough to put us in first place by percentage points, but the Ratz still have a makeup game to play this week with the Blessed Bulls so that could change. We finish the year with the Bless U guys on Monday so they will be deciding one way or the other who wins the division.

Sorry I’ve been away this long. More sorry I still don’t have anything to say.