Friends Bar

Next up in the Dart Bars of Itaewon series is Friends Bar.


Friends is located about halfway up Hooker Hill on the right hand side above Old Town.

What can I say about this place besides it being just about my least favorite bar in Itaewon?  Well, the owner JJ and manager Jonas are both good guys.  And the walk up the hill can be shall we say interesting at times, in a Paul Simon kinds of way “just a come on from the whores on 7th Ave”.   Other than that, there’s nothing good I can think of.


The bar is dark and dingy.  Overwhelmed the flash on my camera dark.  I actually lightened each of these photos, otherwise there would be nothing to see.  I’m not kidding, when I had a couple of bounceouts I could not see my frickin’ dart on the floor right in front of me.


Anyway, the bar sports 4 dart boards.  These two are in the back alongside the bar and we play our “A” division games here.  The boards were in decent shape on Monday, but that has not always been the case.  The boards themselves have adequate lighting, but otherwise it’s like being in a cave.


These are the two front boards which also looked to be in good playing condition.  The problem here is the traffic as folks make the way to the toilet (unisex) and pool tables.  As you might be able to see, Friends has one of the few soft tip darts machines left in Itaewon.  Koreans are big on the soft tip, but it just never took off in Itaewon for some reason.  Fine with me as I really don’t like the game.


Here’s the backside of the bar.  Yeah, the bargirls were pretty cute so there’s that.  Then again, they don’t serve draft beer which I prefer.  You can get your favorite Korean brew in a large sized bottle for Won 5000 however.



Friends does have two pool tables which is pretty unusual.  Of course, that means nothing to me but I suppose the pool players of the world appreciate it.

I understand this bar caters to a younger crowd and gets very busy on weekends.  They generally play rap at loud volume and have music videos on the big screen, although the mix on Monday night wasn’t bad (after some friendly hints to the bar staff). 

As a darts venue, I just don’t like this place.  I think the general consensus of SIDL members is similar to mine. They do support two “A” teams and at least one lower division team as well.  Frankly, this bar is just stuck in the past and has been far surpassed by the Dolce and Sam Ryan’s venues, which are newer, cleaner, and well-lit.  Hemingway would hate this place and I grade it a “D” for darts.

Still to come: Scrooge Pub, 3 Alley Pub, and Manila Bar.

Heaven help us…

For an intelligent guy, The One sure seems ignorant sometimes.  Or maybe he was stoned during U.S. history 101…

On another front, asked to “define victory in Afghanistan,” Barack Obama famously said:

I’m always worried about using the word “victory” because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur.

(Emperor Hirohito came down?)
Via Althouse

A glimpse into the future…

Our progressive neighbors to the north (Canada, not the DPRK) are light years ahead of the USA in the health care arena.  But The One is single-mindedly driving us to catch up quick.  So, let’s dispense with all the political bickering and hear from a genuine Canadian on what we have to look forward to one day soon:

When the pain in Christina Woodkey’s legs became so severe that she could no long hike or cross-country ski, she went to her local health clinic. The Calgary, Canada, resident was told she’d need to see a hip specialist. Because the problem was not life-threatening, however, she’d have to wait about a year.

So wait she did.

In January, the hip doctor told her that a narrowing of the spine was compressing her nerves and causing the pain. She needed a back specialist. The appointment was set for Sept. 30. “When I was given that date, I asked when could I expect to have surgery,” said Woodkey, 72. “They said it would be a year and a half after I had seen this doctor.”

So this month, she drove across the border into Montana and got the $50,000 surgery done in two days.

“I don’t have insurance. We’re not allowed to have private health insurance in Canada,” Woodkey said. “It’s not going to be easy to come up with the money. But I’m happy to say the pain is almost all gone.”

Alrighty then.  Sign me up.  Besides, there’s always Mexico.

Sarkozy takes Obama to school

Well, who woulda thunk the French would ever be in a position to lecture the USA on showing some backbone in the face of threats from tyrants.  Claudia Rosett reports:

The setting was the special, summit-level Security Council meeting Thursday morning, chaired by Obama, in which the official topics were nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament for the entire world — but with no focus on any specific country. The meeting was advertised by the White House as “historic,” if for no other reason than that no U.S. President has ever before stooped to chair the often feckless and at times just plain sleazy UN Security Council — where the 15 members currently include Vietnam and Libya. For this particular occasion, Libya’s foreign minister attended (thus sparing the Council the risk of a replay of Qaddadi’s 96 minute performance the previous day on the General Assembly stage). The rest of the table was filled with presidents and prime ministers.

They began with Obama’s pre-packaged deal of unanimously adopting a “historic” resolution, which Obama said “enshrines our shared commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons,” etc, etc. etc (All very nice, but what does this have to do with the real world?). Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon kicked off the ensuing round of official self-congratulatory huffing and puffing (”…a historic moment…a fresh start towards a new future”). The canned diplo-speak continued, as each member spoke in turn – Costa Rica, Croatia, Russia, Spain, Austria, Vietnam, Uganda, China … and then it was the turn of the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Here’s his wakeup call, in the UN’s translation from the French (boldface mine):

“We are here to guarantee peace. We are right to talk about the future. But the present comes before the future, and the present includes two major nuclear crises. The peoples of the entire world are listening to what we are saying, including our promises, commitments and speeches. But we live in the real world, not in a virtual one.

We say that we must reduce. President Obama himself has said that he dreams of a world without nuclear weapons. Before our very eyes, two countries are doing exactly the opposite at this very moment. Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council Resolutions. [Ed note: Sarkozy then listed international proposals for dialogue with Iran attempted in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.] I support America’s extended hand. But what have these proposals for dialogue produced for the international community? Nothing but more enriched uranium and more centrifuges. And last but not least, it has resulted in a statement by Iranian leaders calling for wiping off the map a Member of the United Nations. What are we to do? What conclusion are we to draw? At a certain moment hard facts will force us to take decisions.

Secondly, there is North Korea — and there it is even more striking. It has violated every Security Council decision since 1993. It pays absolutely no attention to what the international community says. Even more, it continues ballistic missile testing. How can we accept that? What conclusions should we draw? …”

Let the record show that from this day forward I have retired “surrender monkeys” from my vocabulary.

Letting the Left do my talking for me…

Lefty Howard Fineman in the leftist newsrag Newsweek has this to say about The One:

If ubiquity were the measure of a presidency, Barack Obama would already be grinning at us from Mount Rushmore. But of course it is not. Despite his many words and television appearances, our elegant and eloquent president remains more an emblem of change than an agent of it. He’s a man with an endless, worthy to-do list—health care, climate change, bank reform, global capital regulation, AfPak, the Middle East, you name it—but, as yet, no boxes checked “done.” This is a problem that style will not fix. Unless Obama learns to rely less on charm, rhetoric, and good intentions and more on picking his spots and winning in political combat, he’s not going to be reelected, let alone enshrined in South Dakota.

The president’s problem isn’t that he is too visible; it’s the lack of content in what he says when he keeps showing up on the tube. Obama can seem a mite too impressed with his own aura, as if his presence on the stage is the Answer. There is, at times, a self-referential (even self-reverential) tone in his big speeches. They are heavily salted with the words “I” and “my.” (He used the former 11 times in the first few paragraphs of his address to the U.N. last week.) Obama is a historic figure, but that is the beginning, not the end, of the story.

There is only so much political mileage that can still be had by his reminding the world that he is not George W. Bush. It was the winning theme of the 2008 campaign, but that race ended nearly a year ago. The ex-president is now more ex than ever, yet the current president, who vowed to look forward, is still reaching back to Bush as bogeyman.

He did it again in that U.N. speech. The delegates wanted to know what the president was going to do about Israel and the Palestinian territories. He answered by telling them what his predecessor had failed to do. This was effective for his first month or two. Now it is starting to sound more like an excuse than an explanation.

Members of Obama’s own party know who Obama is not; they still sometimes wonder who he really is. In Washington, the appearance of uncertainty is taken as weakness—especially on Capitol Hill, where a president is only as revered as he is feared. Being the cool, convivial late-night-guest in chief won’t cut it with Congress, an institution impervious to charm (especially the charm of a president with wavering poll numbers). Members of both parties are taking Obama’s measure with their defiant and sometimes hostile response to his desires on health care. Never much of a legislator (and not long a senator), Obama underestimated the complexity of enacting a major “reform” bill. Letting Congress try to write it on its own was an awful idea. As a balkanized land of microfiefdoms, each loyal to its own lobbyists and consultants, Congress is incapable of being led by its “leadership.” It’s not like Chicago, where you call a guy who calls a guy who calls Daley, who makes the call. The president himself must make his wishes clear—along with the consequences for those who fail to grant them.

Will someone stick a fork in this guy?  Once he loses the press, what’s he got left of the left?

And the walls come tumblin’ down…

A big night for Rubbies

Well, we faced off with the league leading gents from XOX at Friends Bar last night.  It was a bit of a grudge match for us as they had destroyed us 28-9 earlier this season.  We came out with a 20-17 victory which satisfied our thirst for revenge. 

I contributed a 6-6 effort, which although middling, I feel pretty good about.  I drew YK, their top ranked player, in both of my singles matches and came out 2-4.  For the most part I threw strong darts, but YK is tough to beat when he is on his game, and he was pretty much on his game last night.

The highlight of my night was in the final mixed doubles (501/cricket) match.  Dan and I took on HK and Mr. Lee and we beat them at their own game.  That is to say we pointed mercilessly in both cricket legs.   XOX is a Korean team and their style of play is more aggressive than most.  Generally speaking, most players will not continue pointing after they have a “comfortable” lead.  For me, that’s one bull (25+ points) for others it’s a two bull lead.  The XOX guys will continue pointing until you’ve closed the number.  I’m not sure it is a good strategy (although as mentioned, XOX is leading the league), but it can be damned disconcerting if you let it get into your head.   So, I think we surprised them a bit last night by giving them a taste of their own medicine. 

Anyway, it was a sweet victory indeed.

I said in my earlier post there was a lot of darts on tap this weekend.  There was, but not as much as I had anticipated since our Sunday make-up match against Kaibigan was once again postponed (this time at the request of Kaibigan).  The cancellation did not occur until game time, and we had been warming up at Gecko’s for over an hour so that kinda sucked.  Since the Rubbies were all dressed up and ready to play we played a little 301 game amongst ourselves.  DIDO, but with a little twist in that once you were under 100 points you had to double out on one throw.  Failure meant going back to 301 and adding another thousand won to the pot.  I really hated that game after a couple of hours of frustration.

Saturday’s league doubles tournament was a bit of a disappointment as we only had 8 participants.  So, the league leaders decreed that we would shift to a round robin format instead of double elimination.  That meant we got to play more darts which is a good thing.  Even better, all four teams would finish in the money (1st=120,000, 2nd=80,000, 3rd=60,000 and 4th=40,000).  The teams were David and Lonnie, Seung Youb and Chris H., Mike and Ron, and me and Lucky.  It turned out to be a very competitive match.  Seung Youb and Chris finished with 6 legs won and 1st place, while David and Lonnie and me and Lucky had 5 legs each and a playoff round for second place.  Which we won 2-1.  Yeah baby!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention we picked up a new player on Rubbies to take the recently departed Dave’s spot on the roster.  While Dave was and is irreplaceable, we scored a major coup by picking up a former Rubbie–Billy.  He is a great darter and more importantly a good and comfortable fit for our team.  We are all feeling and playing with more confidence and have high expectations for success in the playoffs.

And that’s the way it is darts-wise.

Darts on tap

Busy darts weekend in store.  We have the league doubles tournament today, a make-up game with Kalbigan at Friends Bar on Sunday, and our regular Monday night game against XOX, also at Friends.

Pretty nice night at the Friday Dolce Vita tourney yesterday.  A first and a second place showing and some very competitive matches.

I had a rather unusual request from a reader the other day.  Seems that in one of the pics in the Wolfhound review included he and a young woman in the background.  As he wanted to avoid any potential unpleasantness should this woman’s husband happen upon the photo, he asked that it be deleted.  You know, I accommodated his request, but really I couldn’t see anything identifiable in the photo.  Plus, although I have a cadre of loyal readers, it’s not like random jealous Korean husbands drop by with any regularity. 

And that was about the extent of my excitement this week.  Wish me luck today.  As always, you can check back here for an update on the outcome. 

Bricks for the Brits

Well, we have all seen the positive response of “respected” world leaders in Libya, Venezuela and Cuba to the new guy in the White House.  Meanwhile, across the pond the Brits aren’t feeling the love.  From The Guardian:

The juxtaposition on our front page this morning is striking. We carry a photograph of Acting Sgt Michael Lockett – who was killed in Helmand on Monday – receiving the Military Cross from the Queen in June, 2008.  He was the 217th British soldier to die in the Afghan conflict. Alongside the picture, we read that the Prime Minister was forced to dash through the kitchens of the UN in New York to secure a few minutes “face time” with President Obama after five requests for a sit-down meeting were rejected by the White House.

What are we to make of this? This country has proved, through the bravery of men like Acting Sgt Lockett, America’s staunchest ally in Afghanistan. In return, the American President treats the British Prime Minister with casual contempt. The President’s graceless behaviour is unforgivable. As most members of the Cabinet would confirm, it’s not a barrel of laughs having to sit down for a chat with Gordon Brown. But that’s not the point. Mr Obama owes this country a great deal for its unflinching commitment to the American-led war in Afghanistan but seems incapable of acknowledging the fact. You might have thought that after the shambles of Mr Brown’s first visit to the Obama White House – when there was no joint press conference and the President’s  “gift” to the Prime Minister was  a boxed DVD set – lessons would have been learned. Apparently not. Admittedly, part of the problem was Downing Street’s over-anxiety to secure a face-to-face meeting for domestic political  purposes but the White House should still have been more obliging.  Mr Obama’s churlishness is fresh evidence that the US/UK special relationship is a one-way street.

Hope and Change.

A public service announcement

Take care of those boobs!  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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Althouse doesn’t think that a good cause warrants such blatant sexism.  Me?  I just like boobs.

Although as I watched this I couldn’t help but think of my dear friend Linda.  She was convinced that her breast cancer and subsequent masectomy was God’s punishment for her vanity over her boobs.  I’m pretty sure she was being ironic, but then again, she was Catholic.  I think she would approve of this PSA.  Rest in Peace sweetheart.

Not ready for prime time…

So, Obama made a fool of himself at the UN this week.  Or as Rich Lowry puts it, he came across as a “gullible sap”.  Same, same.

Has an American president ever expressed such implicit hostility toward his own nation’s pre-eminence in world affairs? Or so relished in recalling its failings, or so readily elevated himself and his own virtues over those of his country?

Between America and the world, Obama adopts a happy medium. It is in this sense only that he is a centrist.

“For those who question the character and cause of my nation,” Obama said, “I ask you to look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months.” In other words, he’s the redeemer of a nation sunk in war crimes (we condoned torture), high-handedness (we ignored the United Nations) and hypocrisy (we promoted democracy selectively) prior to the ascension of his blessed administration.

Read the whole thing.

Wolfhound Pub

Last night’s dart match was postponed until Sunday so I used the offnight to visit Wolfhound Pub.  This is a venue I do not regularly frequent, but it was the only place in town that was not hosting a league match headed over for some practice with Tom, the only other Rubbie who did not attend the Charlie Daniels concert on base  last night.  We played 15 legs and Tome took me 8-7.  What can I say?

Anyway, it gave me the opportunity to do my next “Dart Bars of Itaewon” review.


So Wolfhound is in the alley behind Seoul Pub.  Just walk past Gecko’s, turn right and about a block up the alley you wil see the Wolfhound signs. It’s the only Irish Pub I’m aware of in Itaewon.  Tom lived in Great Britain for a number of years and he said it had the same “feel” of Pubs he used to frequent.


 It has nice touches like this throughout the place.


There are two floors of goodness at Wolfhound.  This is the “first floor” bar (on the second floor of the building), it is also a pretty spacious dining area.  Wolfhound has a nice menu of Irish specialties and other offerings.  I had the fish and chips which was well prepared and plentiful at a fair, if moderately high, price. Talk around town is that the entire menu is quite delicious.  Eh, I don’t mean the actual menu, but you get my meaning.


The upstairs bar is where all the darts action takes place.


Plenty roomy with ample seating for players and spectators.  Same menu as downstairs.  Service was prompt and efficient, although it seemed a little impersonal.  A warm greeting and a smiling welcome to me is a good thing, but nothing I’ve experienced in my few visits at Wolfhound.  Not sure that is a fair criticism, because if I went there often enough to gain “regular” status I’m pretty sure I’d been treated like, well, a regular. 


Anyway, here is the dart board set up.  As you can see, the bar features two boards.  I’ve not played in competition here since my “B” division days.  That was pre-remodeling when there was a single board in the downstairs bar.  So, this is at least twice as good.  Tom reminiced that it was here where he hit the winning dart in a championship game.  I recalled that I had my first ever 9-mark at Wolfhound

On the plus side, the boards are well lit.  We played the left board last night, and there was plenty of room at the oche.  The boards were in good condition and they played well (not too many bounce outs).  On the down side, the board was not mounted tightly, which meant we had to frequently center the 20 between throws.  Another issue was that the oche was not centered on either board (it was lined up for a non-existent center board).  Also, there was no out chart.  Technically, this means the bar is not up to league standards and requirements.  I know that Wolfhound has a lower division team, so I guess no one has complained.

Those are all easy fixes though.  It is otherwise a nice venue and warrants a solid “B” rating as a darts venue.  So, if you got a hankering for some Irish cooking and ambiance, head on over.

Are you a racist?

Well, if Jimmy Carter is to be believed, the majority of Americans (those of us opposing Obamacare) are definitely blinded by racism.  Why else would we be opposed to an unprecedented intrusion of government into our freedom to choose medical care?

Here’s a handy chart to help you discover whether you are a latent racist:


Hat Tip: Powerline

The Book of Genesis


As seen by R. Crumb.

It’s really kinda funny because my brother Keith and I were big fans of underground comics back in the day, especially the work of Mr. Crumb.  We got to talking about it last week during the family reunion and we both remembered some of favorites, like The Adventures of Jesus.  So, I see this today and just had to laugh.  You can view a sampling of the work here

Hat tip:  Althouse.

Bel Air versus Malibu

No, I’m not talking about the comparitive quality of life in those fair California communities.  The video below shows what happens when a 1959 Chevy Bel Air meets a 2009 Malibu head on.  It ain’t pretty folks, but the point is well taken.  When it comes to automotive safety, we’ve definitely come a long way baby.

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Home again

Arrived safely back in the Land of the Morning Calm.  Pretty uneventful return, although I was delayed for an hour in Columbia which made my Seoul connection tighter than I was comfortable with.  I figured my bag wouldn’t make it or else it would be one of the first off the plane.  Turned out to be the latter.  Sailed through immigration and customs, then frittered it all away by taking the Airport Limo, which took an hour and a half to deposit me  in Hannam-dong.  Next time I’ll spring for the cab fare.

Good to be back.

Last day in the colonies

Wrapping things up here in South Carolina.  It’s been a nice visit and great to spend time with my kids and family.

As promised, here are some photos.


Son Kevin and daughter Renee…


Kevin’s sweetheart, Lauren.






Brother Keith.  My other brother, Greg, was unable to make it which was disappointing.  His sons Joshua and Justin were his proxy.


Kevin’s dog Boss.


Tried to capture the sunrise but did not get a good shot.


View from the porch.


Hangin’ out on the front porch.  We spent a lot of time out here, including a pretty wild and extended night of drinking on Saturday.  I bailed at midnight, but the youngins kept on till around 2 a.m. (I could hear them from my room).


My sweet granddaughter Gracyn.  She’s a bundle of energy and this was one of the rare occasions when she was sitting still.


The newest addition to the family, grandson Alex.


We spent some time out on the lake on a pontoon boat.


Lake Marion.


Kevin initiated the tubing (an event I wisely chose to decline participation.)


Lauren then joined in the fun.


Son-in-law Mark handled the Captain duties…


While Gracyn and Kevin kept an eye on the tubers.


Gracyn joined Lauren on the tube for a spin around the lake.


A bird, a nest, a tree, a lake.


Me and Alex.


Smile and the world smiles with you.


Mom and Dad will be celebrating 60 years of marriage which was the impetus for the family get together.


Cedars in the lake.  Prior to damming the Santee-Cooper river to create Lake Marion, this was swampland.  Students of the American Revolutionary War will recall that this is the area where the “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion harrassed the Redcoats. 


The marina.


Our lodging for the week.


So, the kids and nephews started pulling out Sunday night and Monday morning, leaving just me and Keith and the parents.  We figured burgers were a good idea for dinner last night.  After putting them on the grill, we discovered we lacked a spatula.  So, Keith improvised with a fork and spoon.




So, we encountered a bit of a problem with the grill.  It lost a leg and spilled hot coals on the lawn.  It could have been worse as we had just pulled the burgers, dinner was saved (then served).  Tonight I’ll be going to Maurice’s for some South Carolina style (meaning mustard based) BBQ. 

So, that’s the reunion in pictures.  Early in the morning I will begin my long journey home to Korea.  See you on the other side of the wide Pacific.


Remembering James Raymond Coyle


I am participating again on this grim anniversary in Project 2996–a memorial tribute to each of the victims of the cowardly attack on 9/11/01.

In truth, the person I was assigned to honor was not a “victim” of 9/11. Rather, he was a true hero, and lost his life in an effort to save others.  You see, Jim Coyle was a firefighter.  An off-duty firefighter who did not hesitate to answer the call when the World Trade Center was hit.

It is hard to imagine the kind of courage it took to enter that inferno, but whatever quality it is that makes men like Jim Coyle respond the way he did, Americans will always be grateful for his devotion to duty and for his sacrifice.

Here is the tribute published in the NY Times:

James R. Coyle wanted to be Luke Skywalker. But because of certain difficulties in pursuing that career path, he decided to do what he thought was the next best thing, which was fighting fires.

Sure, there was no flying across galaxies or rescuing princesses, but joining the New York Fire Department had its own rewards.

Both of his grandfathers were New York firefighters. Firefighter Coyle joined the department’s cadet program while studying at Brooklyn College. He was 22 when he graduated as valedictorian of that program on a wet June day about four years ago.

For the next three years, he worked as an emergency medical technician. He delivered a baby in the back of an ambulance. He ducked bullets in crime-ridden neighborhoods.

Last December, he completed training in the fire academy and joined Ladder Company 3 in the East Village. One grandfather gave the firefighter his old fire hat.

The last glimpse his mother, Regina Coyle, had of Firefighter Coyle was on her television set on Sept. 11, when a local television station was doing a morning show on cooking in the firehouse. He had just finished a night shift, she said, and he was there to eat meal before heading off to Chicago on vacation.

James was only 26 when he died that fateful day.  And yet, during his short time on Earth, he touched so many lives.  Please take a moment to read the comments on his legacy guestbook from friends, family and strangers.  So moving.

I obviously can’t do justice to the memory of this man that he deserves.  But I can say to Jim and all those who knew him:  You have not been forgotten.

God bless James Raymond Coyle and God bless America.