Another year older

So, I made it to and through another birthday. All in all it was a good one. While getting older generally sucks it beats the hell out of the alternative. And so I would gladly settle for a couple dozen more.

Anyway, there was a little party in my honor at Dolce Vita on Sunday. I tend to want to keep these things low key, but this was really very nice. Mostly my dart league buds, and of course we had a little tournament. Which I managed to win after a shootout with Colin that went down to the wire in all three legs. YJ had some good food brought in and I think we all had a good time. I know I did. Thanks everyone!

Last year I partied with Duke and Ji Young. His birthday is the 25th. He’s back in the USA now, but I was surprised to get a text message from him wishing me well. Thanks, man! I also got a text from Ji Young signed “your best friends girlfriend”. Heh, she most of heard me singing that about it her one drunken night. Anyway, I wrote back and asked her how her visit to America went and she responded that Duke proposed and sent a picture with a big diamond on her finger. Congratulations, I am happy for you both!

Monday at work the staff took me out for lunch at the Navy Club. They have a nice menu with various American comfort food. I had the pot roast and mashed potatoes. Excellent as always. That afternoon a package from my daughter Renee arrived filled with her favorite DVDs. Perfect gift since I never know what to buy anymore. And they ain’t bootlegged so I can enjoy some quality viewing for a change.

Last night was dart league and I didn’t let an 11-8 defeat to Eberhardt of Scrooge Pub get me down. I played fair, taking 5 of 6 legs. Lonnie took an ’01 game from the top ranked player. Jim lost a heart breaker in cricket, and Rick just flat off his game. Also, Cuatro was not available because of the military exercise. So, with a little luck we will turn things around soon.

Wanna see pictures from my party? Ok, here they are:

The gracious host and Dolce Vita owner YJ.

Leora works with me. That’s her hubby Dave.

Me getting a birthday hug from Yoon Jung.

Some folks from work, Dave, Leora, Corine and Diane.

Joon was pretty generous with her hugs, here she puts a smile on Jim’s face.

Bill and Se Hwa.

Eric and his lovely wife.

Joon saved a hug for her hubby Bill.

My Canadian buddy Colin and his squeeze Mi Young. We all went out after the tourney Friday and ate some Korean food, went to the country bar and then the noreabang. I think we had fun but that night is still a little fuzzy for some reason…

A couple of Korean cuties, Joon and Se Hwa.

Holding court with Leora.

Some BBQ goodness courtesy of YJ.

Rick (L) and Grant (R). I’m going to Grant’s wedding Saturday.

Yep, I got the birthday song and blew out some candles. The tall ones represent 10 years each.

My “big sister” Corine.

Three on a couch. An interesting tidbit about Mi Young: She’s a firefighter. A pretty rare occupation for a female in Korea.

My bud Lonnie. I understand he had a lot to do with pulling the party off. Thanks man, I appreciate it.

And thanks to everyone for coming out and making the night special and also for the thoughtful gifts. It meant a lot to me. Kamsamnida!


I’m not talking about tomato paste either. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, so I guess it’s time to play some catch up. Not that much has been happening mind you, but what the hell, that’s never stopped me before.

Last Friday I had some good darts at the Dolce Vita tournament. Two firsts and a second. Was feelin’ a pretty good beer high when I left, then stopped at a soju tent on the way home. A soju drunk on top of the beer was not the smartest idea I’ve had in awhile. Anyhow, got to talking with a couple of the trannies from a nearby tranny bar who were sitting there, which is always kinda interesting. I’ve seen some good looking lady boys on the street, but these “girls” would never be mistaken for anything other than men in drag. Don’t actually remember what we talked about, but I must have bought a lot of soju because I spent W60,000 which was equal to my darts winnings. Ah well, cruised on home about 0500.

I woke up Saturday a little after one, which would have been ok except I had to meet Grant, Rick and Lonnie at the Itaewon subway station at two. Grant is getting married on 1 September and the plan was to head on down to Songtan for a bachelor party. Well, I rushed around and made it, then we subwayed to Nambu bus terminal for the ride down to Songtan, arriving about 4:00.

Surprisingly, after 2 and half years in Korea this was my first trip down there. For those who don’t know, Songtan is the village right outside Osan Air Base. Which means there are lots of bars, shops, and other entertainment that caters primarily to a military clientèle. Kinda like Itaewon on speed.

So, the first thing Grant says is let’s get our hotel rooms. I said, excuse me, no one said anything to me about spending the night. Call me old fashioned but when I do an overnighter I like to carry a change of clothes and a toothbrush. Rick and Lonnie said they hadn’t decided whether they were spending the night yet, so we kinda just let it slide. So we hit the dart supply shop and stocked up some dart paraphernalia. Then we decided to eat. I was thinking a good burger would hit the spot, but the other guys wanted Thai. Just what my stomach needed after a night of soju. I got some seafood noodles at spice level 2 (out of 5) and they went down ok.

Notwithstanding my hangover we decided it was time to drink some beer and play some darts. So, we did a bit of bar crawling and there were quite a few dart bars along the way. There is a dart tourney in Songtan every Saturday night and I was up for playing, but Rick and Lonnie had other ideas. So, we put away the darts and switched to the entertainment bars. I can’t recall the names of most of them, but I do know the first one we tried wouldn’t seat us because the other guys were carrying backpacks (yeah, they brought a change of clothes). So we wound up at a place called UN Club.

Ok, it was a juicy bar. And in between buying W10,000 juice drinks, the girls would do a pole dance on stage. Sexy outfits but no exposed breasts or anything like that. Now, those girls shore were friendly and being that it was a bachelor party and all we let them entertain us for awhile (in exchange for us buying them drinks of course. The girl sitting beside me was covered in tattoos which is kinda of a turn off, but since I was not looking for love in all the wrong places it didn’t matter much. An unnamed guy (hey there is honor among thieves) and the girl he was sitting with were really getting along in an up close and personal kinda way however. After a couple of hours we were ready to move on and being as how there weren’t many other suckers, I mean customers, around they were probably sincerely sorry to see us go. Once we got outside, Grant brought up the hotel room thing again. By now Rick and Lonnie had decided to stay and the unnamed one was wanting to get to “know” the girl from UN Club, so he got a room too. I had no intention of staying and knowing I had to find my way back on my own dampened my spirits a bit.

But being the good trooper that I am, I decided to hang awhile anyway. So, we stopped at Mickey D’s for the burger I was craving then moved on to some “go go” bars. These basically featured cute (mostly) young Filipinas dancing on stage in mini-skirts. Guess I’m getting old, but it just didn’t do much for me. One young dancer (couldn’t have been more than 19) wanted to sit with me after her dance, but I sent her away to Rick instead. Just wasn’t in the mood for that kind of company.

So about midnight the guys decided they were ready for a return visit to UN Club. Which is when I said my goodbyes. I was as drunk as I wanted to be and unlike them, I still had to make it home. So, I found my way back to the bus station, and of course it was closed. So, I hailed a cab and asked if he wanted to take me to Itaewon. The cabbie agreed and we were off. Of course, after midnight taxi fares are higher but I was surprised at just how fast the meter was rolling off the Won. I checked my wallet and found W73,000, so I crossed my fingers that I would have enough for the trip. As fate would have it, when we he pulled up to my door 40 minutes later the fare came to W71,000. So, I gave him the W73,000, said kamsamnida, and headed upstairs. Yeah, I could have gotten a room for less than the cab fare, but I was glad to be home.

And on Sunday I rested (hey, it worked for the Lord). Watched a good movie called “The Departed”.

Monday was dart league. We played one of the weaker teams in our division, T.A.P. from 3 Alley Pub. We took them down 14-5, which is even more impressive than it sounds because our best player Cuatro was not available due to the military exercise. I went 6-0 with a few marks which will hopefully move me up from my embarrassing 14th place ranking.

I also found out Monday that my star employee Corine has accepted a job in Washington, DC. She is leaving at the worst possible time, but I can’t fault her as it is a big promotion. So, I am happy for her but pretty bummed to be losing her. She has been like a big sister to me and I am going to really miss her friendship as well as her stellar job performance. Anyway, I’ll say more about her later, I am really not wanting to think about it much now. She is here until 15 October, but I won’t be able to get a replacement on board before she leaves. My only other US employee (the one who had twins) is leaving next Friday. So, I’m pretty much fucked work wise, but that’s life.

Tuesday was my 3rd week of Korean lessons from my tutor. I have to give her credit, she does a lot of preparation for me. Makes little games so I can practice what she has taught me. Although it makes me feel like I’m in kindergarten, which is probably about the right assessment of my current skill level. Still, I am reading better and she says my pronunciation is good. At this point I am just building vocabulary, I am a long way from conversation. I’m enjoying doing the reciprocal English lessons I’m providing, although I don’t work near as hard at it as she does. She says it is helping and she seems appreciative, so I’m glad for that. I need to have her and her husband over for dinner one of these days. I’ve met him a couple of times now. He is a Korean rapper, apparently of some local fame (at least he has a weekend radio show). His stage name is “Rapatizer”, but I’ve never heard him perform. He dresses kinda urban and has a big afro which is a little peculiar looking on a Korean guy. Tells me he is going to get some corn rows soon. Ok, then.

Last night I got asked to pinch hit for a missing player on the Dolce Vita pool league team. I haven’t even picked up a pool stick for months. So, I had low expectations going in and I managed to achieve them. Well, I won one game when my opponent scratched on the 8-ball. Still, I guess that was better than a forfeit.

And so that brings us up to the moment. Glad we had this chance to catsup.

Mr. Know-it-all

Nobody EVER accuses me of that for some reason. But for those of you who know one, try these tidbits to shut him up (or her as the case may be):


“Stewardesses” is the longest word typed with only the left hand and
“lollipop” with your right. ?

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or

“Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters “MT”.?

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears
never stop growing.

The sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” uses every
letter of the alphabet.

The words ‘racecar,’ ‘kayak’ and ‘level’ are the same whether they are
read left to right or right to left (palindromes).

There are only four words in the English language which end in “dous”:
tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in
order: “abstemious” and “facetious”

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only
on one row of the keyboard.

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.?

A “jiffy” is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

A snail can sleep for three years.

Almonds are a member of the peach family.

An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.

Babies are born without kneecaps They don’t appear until the child
reaches 2 to 6 years of age.

February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

If the population of China walked past you, 8 abreast, the line would
never end because of the rate of reproduction.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite!

Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

The average person’s left hand does 56% of the typing.

The cruise liner, QE2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel
that it burns.

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and
a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely

There are more chickens than people in the world.

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies’ room during a dance.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

Now you know everything!??

A blessed spanking

Well, more accurately an ass kicking. The Blessed Bulls from Bless U Pub took us down last night 12-7. My game was definitely off and I was lucky to escape with 2 legs won (losing 4). Ah well, nothing to do but keep plugging away.

Congrats to Craig and the boys on a well played match.

Everyone is human

And it is human to error.

And as a boss once told me “you are the most human guy I’ve met.”

Anyway, just for the record I do know the difference between “through” and “threw”. I have no idea why I wrote that “Mario through a 7-mark…”

I’ve corrected the offending post, I just hope I caught it before Kevin at Hairy Chasms saw it. Bad grammar drives him wild sometimes. Forgive my punctuation and spelling because I know I’m sloppy, but I just don’t want to appear stupider than I really am.

Thank you for your indulgence.

Dog days redux

UPDATE: In the comments Nomad points out this excellent post from the Party Pooper which provides a very in depth discussion on the “virtues” of a dog meat diet. He even has pictures which may be more than most dog lovers can stomach (heh, a double entendre and pun at once). Here’s a PETA add I lifted from PP. As he notes, this may have not been the most effective anti-meat ad here in Korea.


The Nomad has an interesting post today concerning the alleged nutritional benefits of man’s best friend. Apparently the Western mind and modern science is incapable of comprehending these “facts”. Well, I do admit that I can’t grasp the concept of drinking dog penis wine even if it were proven to be a magic elixir of youth. I will continue to cure what ails me with kimchee, thank you very much.

And another one gone

It’s the time of the season again. Soldiers rotating out after completing their tour of duty in Korea. A good thing for them of course, but it also means saying goodbye to friends.

This time we bid farewell to Mario. A great guy who always wears a big shit eatin’ grin on his face and is quick to laugh and offer words of encouragement. He joined our dart team last year and really contributed to our successful season. Just an all around great guy who kept us loose and always found a way to keep it fun. He is missed already.

Anyway, we did his going away gig at Dolce Vita Thursday night. Lots of food and beer and a dart tournament called “Last Chance to Beat Mario”. I wound up playing against Mario and his partner. I admit to being somewhat conflicted because while it would be nice for Mario to take first in the tourney held in his honor, I only play darts one way–to win. So, we took the first leg in cricket, and they came back to take the ’01 leg. We jumped out to an early lead in the third cricket leg, but then Mario threw a 7-mark on 15s for points. Damn dude. We got beat fair and square and Mario wound up taking the championship match. And I got W5000 for 3rd. Perfect ending!

Mario’s next duty station is in Hawaii so don’t feel too sorry for him. Here’s some pictures from Thursday night:


Mario in action. Should have blinded him BEFORE that 7-mark!


Mario and Se Hwa.


Food, beer, and darts. Does it get any better than this?


Mario’s friend and teammate Lonnie.


Jun from Bless U Pub.


Me and my partner Mac. We gave Mario a good game, but in the end he was just too good for us.


Petro, the dart league president and a Korean guy I’ve never seen before.


Mario holding court. I think these are some of his Hash friends.


Jim, Dolce owner, teammate, and host of the event. Dolce kicked in W100,000 to sweeten the tourney pot.


Mario modeling our new dart league Jersey. Pretty cool, huh? Lonnie did the graphic design.


Bill and Joon. Got an invite to their wedding in October.


Mario with his share of the winnings from the tourney victory. Good luck spending that Won in Hawaii dude!

So, that’s the report on Mario’s big night. Dolce is going to be a lot quieter without you and here’s hoping our paths cross again one day…

Stranger than fiction

Nothing reminds me more about how out of touch with American culture I’ve become than when I look at the movies being sold by the street vendors in Itaewon. I swear, I’ve never heard anything about 90% of the offerings. So, it is always a hit and miss affair when I make a purchase. Most of the time I miss. Got lucky last year when I bought “Crash” (well before the Oscar nomination). And I just watched another good one called “Stranger than Fiction”. I wanted to buy “The Simpson’s” but it was sold out, so I picked up STF only because I recognized most of the actors in the film. Will Farrell, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Thompson were all excellent in a story that was quite different than I expected. Not really a comedy, although there were some funny moments, and maybe sappy in spots, but still very entertaining. It had a unique way of presenting the story that I won’t spoil here. Here’s a clue: I was reminded of the adventures of Gumby when he really got into a book. And I haven’t thought of Gumby for a long time. Probably longer than some of you youngsters have been alive.

Anyway, if you are looking for something to watch on the DVD, I can highly recommend this film.

Stars and Stripes Forever

So I woke up feeling patriotic. Sue me.

Let martial note in triumph float
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears ‘mid thunderous cheers,
The banner of the Western land.
The emblem of the brave and true
Its folds protect no tyrant crew;
The red and white and starry blue
Is freedom’s shield and hope.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with might endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

John Philip Sousa

Dog days in Korea

but as for me, I’m sticking with the samgaetong…

For those who might not understand the reference, some Koreans believe eating dog meat on the hottest days of summer is good for the health. I’ve actually not met anyone who admits to eating dog meat though, but I’ve seen restuarants that specialize in this delicacy and pictures of the dog meat market. Not to be culturally insensitive but I find it all pretty disgusting. Frankly, the Koreans I know are also revulsed by the practice. The alternative is samgaetong, which is a chicken soup-like concoction. Bascially a half chicken served in a boiling broth. So tender it just falls off the bone. Which is good considering how klutzy I am with chopsticks. It is actually quite tasty.

Anyway, it has been miserably hot here these past few days. Air so thick with humidity you almost have to be a fish to breathe. And we are still in the midst of monsoon season, which means daily thunderstorms. Doesn’t seem to cool things off much though, just adds more moisture to the air. Ah well, not much you can do about the weather.

Pretty good night at the Dolce dart tourney last night. Two seconds and a first.

And that’s about it from here.