Bowled over

I can’t remember the last time I bowled.  Well, actually I bowled Saturday night.  But before that I mean.  I played league in Prescott, Arizona in the early 80s, and I don’t recall visiting the lanes since.  Bowling in Korea is like bowling anywhere else I suppose, but the girls are cuter.


As is the tradition in bowling, prior to the game players spend some time searching for their balls.


Jee Yeun showing the form that garnered her 3 strikes.


When you’re old and fat you can’t help but look ridiculous most of the time.  That is especially true when rolling a bowling ball.


Jiwon and Sohee share a tense moment during the game.


When it was all said and done, we were finished.  Ahem.  A fine looking group to be sure but I don’t expect you’ll be seeing any of us on the pro tour anytime soon.  Still, a good time was shared and I suppose that’s the point.  Thanks to Koichi and Jiwon for having us out for a night on the town.

How ’bout dem apples?


When it comes to apples it is tough to beat a nice crisp, juicy, and sweet Korean apple.  We eat them by box.  Literally.  Today our second shipment arrived.  Forty individually wrapped apples ready to eat.  At W50,000 they are a bit pricey, but what here isn’t?


Yes sir, no matter how you slice them, they are tasty indeed.


They are even better with a nice slice of American cheese on top.  But then, what isn’t?

A peculiar threat

Got an email from a friend back home worried that I might be consumed in fire when the crazies up north reduce Seoul to ashes.  Ho hum.  It’s all so ridiculous and unsurprising.  I told him no one here takes DPRK rhetoric very seriously and it was tantamount to a spoiled child throwing a tantrum to get what he wants.  Sadly, it’s been a rather effective negotiating ploy as the ROK usually acquiesces with additional food, fertilizer and other aid.

I guess the only thing really interesting about this round of threats is they’ve moved on from “the sea of fire” imagery to the more creative special action that will “will reduce all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, (or) in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style”.

Good luck with that.  In the meantime, here in the world of reality we will continue to mock the ineptitude of your government while feeling sorry for the poor people who had the misfortune to be born north of the 38th parallel.

Just in case they really, really mean it this time, I’m set to go out listening to Johnny Cash.

In the Sin Bin


My dart league team, Ride it In.   (L to R) Jee Yeun Lee (head cheerleader, score sheet minder, and getter of drinks), Bridget Werner (Captain), Yours Truly, Jacob Leonard, Cory Clow, and Greg White.

Last night we took on the boys from Sin Bin Sports Pub.  I’m no hockey fan, but I understand “sin bin” is the nickname for the penalty box in that icy sport.  They actually have a penalty box sin bin built into the bar.  Haven’t seen anyone thrown in there (yet) though.  The pub also features a shuffle board, a bar game I haven’t seen since my childhood.  Yeah, when I was a kid my dad took us into the bars with him and we played while he drank.  Actually, I recall one night where he drank a lot and challenged some guy to shuffleboard for money.  And he lost all his.  The bartender slipped us boys a few bucks so we’d have gas money to get home.  Ah memories.

Anyway, we came out of the match with a 20-5 victory, the second week in a row we’ve achieved such a lop-sided win.  We need it though because our arch rivals from Gecko’s are hanging tough.  We meet them head-to-head in two weeks.  Not to sound cocky, but I’m smelling a championship in our future.

One of my goals for my return to Korea was to reinvigorate my dart game.  In the states I was playing one night a week and was lazy when it came to practice.  It was no surprise that my game had regressed significantly.  I’ve been throwing well of late, and came out of last night match with 13 marks, including a 5 bulls, 3BS, two 7 marks, and a couple high tons to go with a 7-2 performance.  A satisfying showing.  I just need to keep it up.


Sin Bin is one of the newer pubs in Itaewon and they’ve done a pretty nice job with their darts setup.  The Satan is saying “I’m a dart player, get me a drink” or something like that.

Spring done sprung


The view from the back door.

Had a nice weekend at Daechon Beach, although the drive down was quite the fiasco.  Apparently a large percentage of the Korean population decided to venture out on the highway with us.  Took a different route home and that proved to be a big improvement.

And really that’s about all that has been happening.  But stay tuned, you never when the next big event may strike.


Easter Sunday we went to the movies with Lonnie and Jaime to see The Hunger Games.  Everyone else thought it was great, I found it entertaining but not spectacular.  I hadn’t read the books but had heard some of the criticism that it was derivative of other works.  I’m not sure why that matters or how it differs from most movies which draw inspiration from numerous sources.  I won’t engage in spoilers, but from my perspective this future world is what we can expect when we become pawns of the government, an Obamatopia if you will.  I also noted that “the 1%” living in Capital City were clearly liberals because they dress just like many of the folks I’ve seen in San Francisco. Anyway, the future portrayed was like North Korea on steroids.  Enough said.

This is the first time I’d been to a Korean movie theater in several years.  The best thing about it compared to the USA is that it is relatively cheap.  I scored a large popcorn and large Coke Zero for W7,000, less than half what I would have paid back home.  I also like that you get assigned seating when you purchase your ticket.  I really should go more often.

We saw the movie in Myeong-dong and the theater was up on the eighth floor.  As we were coming down the kaleidoscope of escalators a voice called out “Jee Yeunah”!  It was our old friends Bill and June Rago from Nowon out for an afternoon of shopping.  Apparently, I stand out in a crowd of Koreans for some reason.  We had a brief visit and made plans for lunch on Wednesday.  In a city of 13 million it was quite a coincidence to encounter some folks I actually know that way.

Later on we walked around the shopping district looking for a place to eat.  As much as I enjoy Korean food, we all agreed something different was in order.  We settled on a place called “Pane Pasta” which none of us had previously tried.  And it was good.  The weird thing was after we got home we saw on Facebook that Jee Yeun’s daughter and friends were in Myeong-dong and they were trying a new restaurant–Pane Pasta.  What are the odds of that?

Last night was darts night and we took on the boys from Dillinger’s Bar.  I contributed an 8-1 showing in a 20-5 victory.  Our team is in first place and this win will go a long way to keeping us there.

We took the bus home and on the 40 minute ride I counted 7 Paris Banquettes and 1 McDonalds.

It’s raining today and that’s perfect nap weather.  I just woke up from mine.  And that brings you up to the minute on my fascinating life in Korea.

That’s close enough to perfect for me

I had a good Friday (ahem) but yesterday was really special.

It started with the mid-season dart tourney at Dillinger’s Bar in Itaewon.  I had the good fortune to draw Sam Heyward as my partner and to also throw a tad better than I usually do.  We had the misfortune to face Paul Winterburn and his partner who were pretty much unstoppable.  They knocked us out of the winner’s bracket but we fought our way back to face them in the finals.  Alas, we came up short and had to “settle” for second place money (W180,000).

I did have the pleasure of throwing a ton-80 for the tourney high which was good for another W20,000.  It was just a tiny bit sweeter because it topped Paul’s ton-50.  Paul got his revenge I suppose by beating me in the high mark shootout.

But the bottom line is I had a great time throwing against some outstanding players, hanging with some friends, and of course being cheered on by my number 1 fan Jee Yeun.

And that’s not all!

After darts we (the Werner’s, the Scheepstra’s me and my sweetie) went out in search of some food to mix with the copious amount of beers previously consumed.  The tables in the galbi house we prefer were full and none of us felt like sitting on the floor (I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to get back up).  So, we tried a new to us back alley barbecue joint and enjoyed some galbi, samgyapsal, ukgaejang, daenjangigae and the traditional sides.  Which we washed down with chungha and more beer of course.

The dinner table conversation (of what I remember) is not fit for recitation here.  Suffice to say the Werner’s were in classic form, Lonnie was instigating, Jee Yeun was telling tales out of school, and Jaime was quietly pondering what the hell she had got herself into.  In other words, we laughed our asses off.

But wait, there’s more!

After dinner, we trekked over to the local norebang to flex our vocal chords and butcher some popular songs.  I opened with the classic Bee Gees tune “I started a joke” and scored a perfect 100.  This, for some unknown reason, sent my counterparts into fits, screaming such nonsense as the “fix was in”, “no way” and “you’ve gotta be kidding me”.  (I was drunk, but I never forget an insult!)  Suffice to say, NO ONE sings the Bee Gees quite the way I do.

Anyway, for the rest of the evening the group tried in vain to beat that first 100 (heck, even I couldn’t replicate it).  Jaime came close with a 98 on a sweet Korean song.  Bridget and I were robbed on “Knock three times” (I know, I know.  But Bridget loves Tony Orlando and Dawn).  Lonnie and Chris were certain they’d hit it with the evenings final song “Hotel Califorinia”, but alas, they too fell short.

Oh, and we drank more beers.

Then we all managed to catch taxi’s with surprising ease and an almost perfect day (damn you Paul) came to an end.

Happy Easter!

Democracy is a loud bitch


Freedom isn’t free as they say.  But here in Korea it’s loud as hell.  Yes, once again it is election season and trucks like the one above are ubiquitous throughout this fair land.  Apparently, the only thing better than a strong campaign speech is one amplified at ear splitting volume.

The other morning some woman was yelling the virtues of her candidate into a microphone downstairs from my apartment.  It seems the configuration of these buildings in this complex creates the affect of an amphitheater.    Which is to say the sound reverberated through the walls.  From 0730 until 0800.  I know, because even with my head under the pillow I could not escape her piercing screech.  All I could do was watch the clock and pray for salvation.

Of course, I don’t have voting privileges here, but I can’t imagine being awakened from slumber would make anyone more likely to vote for the offending candidate.  Then again, I suppose all the worthy hard working Koreans are already up and about their business by 7:30.  And who gives a damn about some lazy miguk who wants to sleep in?

A far less offensive campaign technique are the folks who stand about smiling and proudly displaying the number of their preferred candidate.


See, as I understand it each candidate is assigned a number and come election day, you vote the number, not the name.  Which makes sense seeing as how in any given election you are likely to have multiple Kim’s, Lee’s, and Choe’s seeking office.


So, the political parties run from the conservatives (who currently control the National Assembly) to the extreme far left who are basically in league with the Commie counterparts up North.  From what I can tell, the conservatives would be slightly left-leaning moderates by U.S. standards.

I really don’t follow politics that closely here though.  I mean, Korea is my escape from the madness of the political shipwreck that is the U.S.A.  But as best I can fathom, the liberal parties want to unseat the conservatives so they can void the recently signed Free Trade Agreement, kick the U.S. troops out of Korea, and basically capitulate to North Korea.  Or something like that.

So as you can see election time is pretty serious business here.  Election day is a national holiday, which I think is an excellent idea that we’d do well to replicate in the states.

But I will be glad when it’s all over and I can once again be awakened by the loudspeakers of the fruit and vegetable vendors.

The results are in…


…and it appears that my impending death, while nearer, is not as yet imminent.  Which is to say that given my age and lifestyle, I’m not doing all that bad.

The best news is that I apparently have the prostrate of a 20 year old.  The not so good news is some blockage (30%) in one of the heart arteries, fatty liver disease, and some lung damage from my years as a smoker.  But, no cancer or anything that’s gonna kill me quick.

Doctor Yoo invited me to join the team.  As he put it, medicine only goes so far and the rest is up to me.  Apparently, he’s serious about me losing some weight and he thinks it’s time I got serious about it too.

I see a treadmill in my future.  Actually, I see a treadmill right behind me.  Now I need to see it in motion.

Hey, hey, what d’ya say?


Love the hubcaps!

Just back from a weekend excursion to Songtan with the Scheepstra’s and Werner’s.  Played in a tourney at Xenis Bar and it was two and done for me, although Chris and Lonnie did moderately better.

The women-folk shopped and I sat on a bench and people watched.  The Songtan shopping district is right outside the gates of Osan Air Force Base.  Unlike Itaewon, the majority of folks I saw were military related, with a dash of Filipino workers and a handful of Koreans mixed in.

I did order a custom made Gore-Tex jacket for a hundred bucks, even though I probably won’t have occasion to wear it until next winter.

Had some authentic Mexican food (they had a banner out front advertising genuine real-live Mexican cooks) this morning and it was quite good.

Took the subway all the way down, although I guess since we were above ground for a third of the trip it wasn’t technically a subway.  Two hours portal-to-portal.  Took the bus/subway combo coming back and made it in an hour forty-five.  The bus looked nothing like the one pictured above however.

Got home, took a nap, and now I’ve posted a long overdue update here at LTG.

And so it goes.