In dart league last night we played Dillinger’s Dill Pickles, the top rated team in Itaewon. The results were as one might expect, but to get beat and throw badly was not a pleasant experience for yours truly..
After the match two people I like very much got into a verbal altercation. It appeared to me to be a simple misunderstanding, but one of the two was drunk and he tends to be a mean drunk. I tried to calm him dawn to no effect and keeping with my “no drama” policy I got up and went to pay my tab. When I returned things had escalated to the physical and tables were being knocked over and beer glasses were flying. Soon enough some folks stepped in and managed to separate the combatants, but it was a very ugly scene. I left at that point not wanting to deal with the aftermath.
Fights are relatively rare in dart league, but I found the whole experience disconcerting, disappointing, and depressing. A sorry shame it was.
Another weekend, another farewell party. This time it was Tony and Mo saying their goodbyes to Korea as the Army has deemed they are needed in San Antonio. When I returned to Korea after a 13 month hiatus, most of the old faces were gone. Tony and Mo were amongst the new faces I met and enjoyed spending time with, if only for a little while. Such is the life in Itaewon I suppose. I will say they put out a nice spread of food and free beer for their friends and we all had a good time. I wish them both best of luck in the future.
As in the tradition at these farewell parties, a darts tournament broke out. Traditionally, the guests of honor do not win said tournament. Last night I drew up Mo as my partner, and Tony was paired with Dolce Vita proprietor Jim. And sure enough the four of us met in the finals, guaranteeing that at least one of them would break the tourney jinx and go out on a high note. After a long and drunken match in which none of us could hit the outs for which we aimed, I snuck in a double 1 for the win. Tony was philosophical about it, saying if I win Mo gets the money, if she wins she gets the money. So I guess it all went according to plan.
After the party I wasn’t quite ready for the subway journey home so I headed up Hooker Hill to a country bar I used to favor, The Grand Ole Opry. It’s been years since I was in there, but the ajumma who runs the joint remembered me as did the waitress, so that made me feel pretty good.
The guy in the cowboy hat was doing the Texas two-step and making the girls smile. There was a time when I fancied myself a pretty fair country dancer, but alas I was without a partner last night.
And since I promised Thirsty more posts about darts I’ll briefly mention Friday night’s action at Dolce. I teamed up with Shane and we both struggled all night, but somehow managed to make it through the winner’s bracket undefeated. We met Wan Jun and Steve in the finals and they dispatched us pretty quickly in the first set. We were down and almost out in the final leg of the match–behind on points and 17s wide open. We had bulls closed, and they needed one more bull for the win. And then I managed a double bull on my first dart which put us up on points, hit a double 17 with my second dart, and then a single 17 for the win. Yeah, I was lucky, but it was still a sweet finish.
Last night I had the pleasure of running into a long time LTG reader and old friend Neil Hirst (aka Thirsty) at Dolce Vita. I’ve been knowing Thirsty since we met at a dart match in December 2006 when he impressed me by recounting his favorite posts from the blog, including the time I busted open my skull and witnessed what turned out to be a friend of Neil’s falling out of a cab. And over the years he’s continued to read the blog and occasionally even comment! You can’t buy that kind of loyalty, but you can reward it with a beer. So I did.
Neil left Korea a few years back for Jakarta but we stayed connected via LTG. He then spent some time in China where he acquired a beautiful Chinese wife who subsequently provided him with a handsome son. Thirsty proudly reports the boy can cuss in three languages! These days he calls Singapore home, but a recent promotion will afford him the opportunity to visit Korea several times a year. So, I’ll be looking forward to our next chance encounter.
Speaking of which, there was a fair amount of kismet involved in my running into Thirsty last night. I wasn’t even supposed to be at Dolce Vita as I have a standing Wednesday night dart date at Bull and Barrel with my Canadian friend Craig Cowper. Craig had to cancel last night, so I made my way over to Shenanigans where I enjoyed some beer and conversation with a university professor who hails from Alabama. He wanted me to stay and throw some darts with him, but alas, I had left my darts at Dolce Monday night. So, I went to retrieve them and ran into a friend whose son was visiting from Russia and she asked if I’d give him a game or two. Which I did. He’s a fine lad and his game is improving, but let’s just say his missiles weren’t flying as accurately as Mr. Putin’s.
And then Thirsty appeared and we played us some darts, drank us some beers, and had us some fun. Oh, and Neil’s also a big fan of the Big Hominid’s blog and he mentioned that he enjoyed reading about me and Kevin meeting up a couple of months ago.
So, that’s the story of how I quenched my thirst for a good night in Itaewon!
Once upon a time I was a lowly caterpillar crawling through the muck and mud, lost and directionless, unable to find my way. And then one day I awoke to find myself a butterfly!
But in all seriousness, my political transformation was not this extreme but I can certainly relate to what the author is saying. My personal biggest irk is #4 and #5 on the list. The left tends to demonize contrary viewpoints by making shit up.
Sometimes I lose hope for my country, but you never know. People may actually wake up. And given the left’s tendency to overreach (the current border crisis comes to mind) maybe we’ll actually get the Change we were Hoping for.
Sadly, the Republicans aren’t much better than the Democrats, so I’m not sure that winning a Senate majority will make much difference.
But things will be different here as two, well technically three, old timers are moving on. Two goodbye parties yesterday made for a bittersweet weekend.
Doug is being returned to Columbus, OH after 21 years in Korea. He goes involuntarily having (finally) ran afoul of DoD’s “five year rule” which requires civilians to rotate out of overseas assignments after five years in country.
Bill and June are excited about their move to Vietnam after 10 years in Korea. Bill will teach at the international school in what appears to be an outstanding opportunity for the family.
.I wish them well and thank them for the memories.
So, I had my typical Friday night of darts at Dolce Vita although somewhat atypically I managed a first place finish. My nephew Justin came by the bar for a couple of beers and then we headed out to the samgyapsal joint I favor.
As is our normal practice the conversation soon turned to politics. And when I start getting wound up my voice gets somewhat intense. Not shouting really, just kind of aggressive. I was in this mode when the waitress came to our table and shushed me. Now, I was taken aback by this because it was just the two of us at the table surrounded by crowded tables of loud Koreans drinking and laughing and enjoying their grilled pork belly. Which is how it should be. I mean, this was not a fine dining establishment. And to be honest about it, I may have been talking louder than normal if only to be heard above the din of the surrounding crowd. As I looked around the room and noticed just how loud everyone else was being I got pissed off.
At that very moment the waitress who had offended me was serving the largest and loudest table of Koreans in the joint. So I turned around and said (probably shouted) “are you going to tell them to be quiet too, or is it only the miguks who aren’t allowed to make noise?” Of course, I said this in English so I’m sure she didn’t understand most of it, but it did appear from her reaction that she got my point. I turned back to my nephew and said “am I wrong?”. He agreed that we hadn’t been louder than anyone else but he said he was embarrassed by my outburst.
I guess in retrospect I am too. This is not the first time I’ve encountered being singled out for noise when Koreans are notoriously loud when dining (especially when soju is involved) and seem to be ignored. But responding to racism with rudeness is not the solution. I’m sure all I did was perpetuate a negative stereotype when I loudly confronted the waitress. I should have just let it go like I normally do I suppose.
I think it is also true that English voices tend to stand out in the crowd so to speak. I’ve noticed it on the subway myself that foreigners always sound louder when they are speaking together. Upon *ahem* more sober reflection perhaps I sounded louder than I was.
Meanwhile, I was again awakened early this morning by noise from the downstairs park. This time it was two ajummas shouting at each other. And so it goes.
Oh, I also doused my keyboard in diet Coke this morning. I did my best to clean it up quickly, but as I feared some of the keys are now not functioning correctly. Which made typing this post especially challenging. Ain’t life grand?
Things are pretty ugly in our nation’s capital. Via BuzzFeed comes this article chock full of pictures of some of the worst buildings in Washington, D.C. Well, I guess it’s only fitting that we house our crappy government in appropriately crappy office space.
I actually had the misfortune of working in two of them and had occasion to visit most of the others during my long years of government service. L’Enfant Plaza housed Postal Service Headquarters. I technically only worked there for a few months in the summer of 1998 during collective bargaining agreement negotiations with the National Association of Letter Carriers. Many other days were wasted there for mindless meetings with the HQ brass though. I also spent five soul-sucking years working within the walls of the Department of Education building. How bad was it? I preferred working in Iraq and actively pursued employment there, albeit without success. I did wind up in Korea though and that was almost like being reborn after all those hellish years in D.C.
Which is why catching the Virginia Railway Express at L’Enfant station for the last time filled me with unbridled joy…
This morning at 0600 I awoke to the sound of Amazing Grace being sung by one of the drunk ajusshis who frequent the park outside my apartment building. To his credit he could carry a melody. Although it must have been the only song he knew because he repeated it for an hour or so. The way our buildings are configured the park makes a near perfect amphitheater. And with the window open in deference to the July heat it sounded like he was in the next room. Which made going back to sleep impossible for a wretch like me.
According to this report smelling farts may help prevent cancer. I mentioned this to Jee Yeun this morning and she noted that that was only true in small doses. I’m not sure what she was implying, but I owe it to her to do everything I can to keep her cancer free.
Although apparently the science on this is not “settled”. And if we continue passing wind for the benefit of our friends and neighbors health are we not running the risk of increased global warming? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t I suppose.
…but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down.
AT&T won’t unlock. So, I bought a new phone. Actually, I got the new phone basically free with a two year service commitment. Which means I’m paying for phone plans on two continents now. Although SK is only charging me around $35 bucks a month. And I’m going to change my plan with AT&T and save at least that much.
It’s a sweet phone–Galaxy S-3 very similar to my US phone. So, I’m familiar with the interface at least.
The real reason for this post though is I signed up for Google Analytics (hey I was bored) and I want to see how (or if) it works.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I killed my phone last night. That was the Galaxy S-2 I inherited from my nephew. I am loathe to purchase a new smartphone, especially given the fact that I already “own” a perfectly fine Galaxy S-3. When I first got back to Korea I attempted to have SK telephone install a new sim card in my U.S. phone but was told it could not be done because the dicks folks at AT&T had “locked” the phone in a manner that could not be legally undone.
As our president has demonstrated on numerous occasions, laws are for the little people. And I am many things but little is not among them. So I set about trying to unlock my phone on my own. Found a handy website that offered step-by-step instructions on doing just that and I followed them to the best of my ability. Alas, the assholes geniuses at AT&T had apparently installed a block to the unlock, because the lock would not open in the manner the website had promised. I guess it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because after going through the unlocking process twice I discovered that the sim card from the S-2 doesn’t fit in the S-3.
What I find especially irksome is I’m paying AT&T a whopping $143.00 a month for the U.S. service I’m only using six months a year (that’s mine and Jee Yeun’s phone and data plan charges). I do this for the privilege of keeping my American phone number which I need to maintain for a host of reasons I won’t bother discussing here. But I’ve been on the AT&T plan for well over a year fulfilling my commitment which means I own the smartphones I bought when I signed up. Anyway, when I turned my S-3 back on after the unsuccessful unlocking effort, I got a message from AT&T welcoming me to Korea and advising I could set up an international plan by calling (for free!) a number they provided.
I don’t need or want an international plan, but I would like my phone unlocked. So I called. And the pleasant AT&T customer service rep advised that requests to unlock have to be submitted through the website. So that’s where I went and that’s what I did. And somewhere between two and five days from now I’ll have my answer. Which better be “yes” or I’m going to make some changes. To hell with the consequences, I will not be denied!
While Jee Yeun was still sleeping I went out to the local Paris Baguette and purchased a tasty birthday cake. That’s 4 tall candles and 9 small ones. You can do the math.
In the evening we ventured out to a small restaurant in Gangnam that had come highly recommended. We were not disappointed! They feature various cuts of pork cooked at the table Korean BBQ style. Although they actually supplied a cook to do the grilling properly. He even had a clever laser-like device to make sure the grill was the right temperature for optimum cooking.
All the cuts were tender and juicy. The “skirt meat” tasted just like beef.
We then cabbed over to a famous jazz joint called Once in a Blue Moon. I had the unique experience of drinking my first W17,000 beer which not so coincidentally was the cheapest beverage on the menu. The music was good and all, but the prices were too rich for my blood. Suffice to say I can only afford to visit this establishment once in a blue moon.
We decided that we could make our own music much cheaper, so we ended the night at a nice little norebang. I have some pictures, but I apparently dropped my phone at some point last night. I’ve got spiderweb cracks on the screen which is otherwise dark. I’m sure that faux pas is going to cost me more than the rest of the night combined.
Ah well, Jee Yeun said it was the best birthday she’s had this year. So there’s that.
Well, it’s the 4th of July and we all know what that means. Yep, my sweet wife is celebrating another birthday*. After she wakes up this morning I’ll be playing her traditional birthday song at full volume. Although she never seems to enjoy that as much as I do. Ah well, you gotta do what you gotta do.
* Jee Yeun’s passport says she was born on July 5, but July 5 in Korea is July 4 stateside, right? Anyway, I’ve made some special plans for her birthday tomorrow in Gangnam. And now she tells me she was in fact born on the 4th of July and that her passport is wrong. So, I’m covering all the bases here.
UPDATE: What, the USA is having a birthday too?! Well, what are the odds of that?
Jee Yeun tells me today that her daughter has a new beau. She was yammering on the phone to Sohee this afternoon and I ask what was that all about? Jee Yeun said she was getting the boyfriend’s birth date info. Turns out he’s 35 (Sohee is 26, but I can’t remember if that is “Korean age” or American-style counting). I ask Jee Yeun if that’s too old and she responds that she is going to find out. Next thing I know Jee Yeun is heading out the door and I say where are you going? She responds, “I told you, the fortune teller”.
But of course. No one invests much time in a relationship these days without the sage advice and wisdom of a seer. I recollect Jee Yeun dragging me in to see one back in our early days of dating. I thought at the time we were doing it as a novelty. But that was wrong. Had I not gotten the thumbs up from the fortune teller I would be but a distant memory by now I suppose.
Well, Sohee is a sweet girl. So I hope this new guy was not born in the year of the rat. Or snake for that matter.