Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Christmas spirit

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

EPIK Weeklong Workshop December 13th to the 17th

Last week I went to the EPIK additional in-service training program, held in an education convention center in the Bo-moon lake area of Gyeon-Ju. I'll address the in-service day by day. I don't think that it would be fair to completely blast the event, which is my initial instinct, being a married man who was forced to leave his wife for a week to go learn about Korean culture, but there will be a few barbs in the following commentary.

Day One Sunday:
The bus left the Jinju education office at ten o'clock in the morning. Other teachers on the bus seemed to have come from Hadong. I was expecting a direct route to Gyeong-ju from Jinju, but we stopped off in Geo-chang first. Gyeong-ju is northeast of Jinju, and Geo-chang is to the northwest. A two and a half hour bus ride, suddenly turned into a four hour bus ride. I really felt sorry for the people from Hadong.

It was nice to finally arrive at the hotel when we did, but there was no, going to the room to freshen up a bit before the festivities began, there was a nice cliche ridden opening ceremony about being professional and having wine glasses be half full. After that there was a nice PowerPoint presentation about modern Korean history.

The modern Korean history presentation was given after a speech about professionalism, by a guy in a purple sweatshirt who helped us answer the question on everybody's lips at the time, "Why do Koreans hate Japan so much, but are nice to Japanese tourists?" After that, we were permitted to go to our rooms, but we had only about twenty minutes to get back for another lecture about classroom management.

Unfortunately the classroom management lecture wasn't very helpful, but in the days to come I picked up some good classroom management tips from other teachers who were giving presentations. One highlight of the classroom management lecture, was the the near mental break down in front of 150 people by a guy who was alleging that he had been slandered on the Internet by people he worked with in Japan. I suppose that made everyone uncomfortable, but after that, all participants were supposed to compose and perform a song about classroom management in front of the a fore mentioned 150 people.

Dinner - Bulgogi

7:00-8:30 Korean language class -
Seriously? A Korean language class in two sessions? I enrolled in the highest level possible Korean language class. Part of the class was practicing easy use full stuff that everyone in the class already knew, and the other part was practicing a Korean song that was to be performed at a talent show on the last day of classes. (I'm starting to notice a disturbing trend that Korean seminars feature a talent show.)

After the Korean class I found out from students in the lower level classes, that their classes were actually much harder than the one that was supposed to be advanced. The first level students were given some half page of paper song about a guy in love with someone all in Korean, which I am sure most of the low level Korean proficiency English teachers couldn't even read. Korean educational management at its best.

8:30-9:00 A meeting with a Korean college student whose job it is to inform us of things.
This didn't go well. There was a failure of communication somewhere, and the girl had to tell a room of thirty or forty adults that we couldn't leave the hotel. Now knowing that South Koreans are close relatives to North Koreans, I checked the front and back doors of the hotel afterwards to see that they weren't chained closed. I understand that chaining 300 people in a hotel sounds crazy, but I used to work for a university, that did just that in its dormitories. Luckily the doors weren't chained shut so I concluded that what was said at the meeting was either a miscommunication or a bluff. Nevertheless, I frequently used the fire escape staircases, and tried to scope out all of the exits to the building. I also checked to see if there were security cameras. I think that checking security in a place is wise when living in Korea. Koreans still have a dictatorial streak in them, and lets not forget that North Korea, has in the past, kidnapped people. Checking the security of places, and using the big dipper to find the north star, is a habit that people should get into when in Korea, in case they are kidnapped by north Koreans, or forced into some kind of bondage by South Korean education officials.

Day Two Monday
This day was actually pretty good. Breakfast was pretty nice. Breakfast was followed by two two-hour lectures about education things, and then came lunch, and then came another two, two hour lectures about education things. I actually learned a lot of good ideas, and got some good advice. I learned about something called the online-stopwatch and how it can be used to make students calm down. There were many, many good things from this day.

After dinner we had another lecture and workshop about making lesson plans. Then around nine when everything was all done, I bolted across the street to the Hilton hotel lounge for some martinis and French fries. Also called the wife a good end to a good day.

Day Three Tuesday
Tuesday was a lot like Monday. It was actually pretty difficult to pay attention on this day. A lot of the lectures were pretty good and like Monday, but for fuck's sake, we just had a twelve hour study day. I am so glad that I did not go to school in Korea because Korean elementary, middle, high, and college students put themselves through this kind of bullshit everyday.

Day Four Wednesday
This is our day off kind of. Not a real day off where we can go home and do whatever they hell we want, this is a day where we were entreated to the riches of the ancient Silla kingdom that are all over Gyeonju. We went to Seokgaram, Bulgoksa, Cheomseomdae, and the national museum in Gyeon-ju. There was also a period where we had to make some ink imprints. This all would have been very fun if it were broken up and done on the lecture days, but instead all of Gyung-ju was seen at once, and participation was mandatory. I had already seen Seokgaram, Bulgoksa, and Cheomseomdae, so I was happy to see the museum. Before we left though, there was a girl who was sick and couldn't join us. We had to sit in the hotel parking lot for about a half hour waiting for her. She had to write a letter and sign it as to why she couldn't participate. Then later in the parking lot of the place where we had to make imprints, there was some other reason why we couldn't move so we had to stand around for another half hour in the cold Gyung-ju December. After all of that, we were given a buffet style dinner, after which as the talent show where people sang Korean songs, and some people performed things that they had volunteered to do.

I never had any intention of being in, or watching a talent show, so I just went to a dunkin donuts in downtown Gyeong-ju. I enjoyed a nice coffee. After that I hit up a P.C. room to get acquainted with the week's news and to check my e-mail facebook. My absence was very much needed for me to retain my own sense of freedom. I seriously was on the verge, and I really couldn't take a talent show. When I got back to the bomoon lake area I checked to see that attendance wasn't taken and went back out for a bomoon lake hotel lounge bar crawl. I wouldn't exactly call it a full on bar crawl, I had a Manhattan in the commodore hotel, and a martini again at the Hilton. I was just happy that the whole thing was over....kind of.

Day Five Thursday
Woke up on Thursday to realize that there was still another two hour lecture to go, and a time when we had to fill out some forms. The last lecturer was pretty good, but the topic was just about places to go in Korea. He had a power point of places he went and did a good job over all, but it was also a lot like seeing slides of someone's vacation photos. The night before, I found a place that served pancakes. I slipped out during the break time. I took a taxi to the dae myung resort where the pancakes were. The damn taxi driver didn't turn on his fee register and over charged me, bastard. (It was only a few hundred won though, but still, bastard.) Then I got into the pancake place, and learned that they didn't serve pancakes until 11. I pleaded with the lady that they should serve pancakes for breakfast, but she had none of that. I ended up getting a coffee, and going back to the lecture.

After the lecture was lunch, and then a bus ride home. Before the bus left, though, we sat on it for an hour in the parking lot for no particular reason.

Suggestions
Even though I learned a lot the first two days, overall, the training session was incredibly painful and if the English program in Korea is going to keep existing, there are many things that need to change. My roommate for the week, made the astute comment that these training programs should count for something outside of Korea. Perhaps university professors could be brought in to give the lectures and the training programs can accumulate into an accredited TESOL or TEFL certificate.

Most importantly though, is that the goddamn people in charge of the who deal should get together and make a curriculum. I learned that the EPIK program has been in existence for 14 years and the people in charge of the whole thing still don't know what they want their guest English teachers to do. The Korean government spent a lot of money to house, feed, instruct, transport, and entertain 300 people for five days, but they still can't find the time to sit down and think about what should be taught to the students. Anything, please, just tell me, just put it in a book:

Middle school first grade: Yes no questions, past tense,
Middle school second grade: Modal verbs.

Just make some guidelines like that so that we the NETs can figure out what to do when we get here. Don't tell us about Korean culture, we'll figure it out. Or if you want someone to teach about Korean culture, get an anthropologist, or some kind of scholar to do it, don't give me anymore cross cultural communication bullshit. That stuff breeds racism. And lastly, don't tell people that they are hostages in a hotel, get it through your brains that you can't take people from free societies and tell them that they can't leave a place. The biggest reason why Korea doesn't get any tourism is because they are afraid of becoming North Korean cannon fodder. A tourist in Korea doesn't want to be reminded of North Korea and civil war, if you hold a seminar somewhere for training professionals, don't act like North Koreans and tell them that they can't leave. Don't make a big deal out of giving everyone a gift bag with thermometers for checking temperatures in the morning to check for swine flu, and then make a person who is actually sick write a letter as to why they can't attend a bus trip and then sign the damn thing in blood.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Bonzai trees are here


In my opinion this actually turned out to be a pretty cool idea.

Damnit

I learned a few weeks ago that next week I have to go to an English teacher training seminar. I wouldn't have been so disappointed by this if it were for just a day or so, but it turns out that I have to go to a completely different city, and stay overnight for four days.


When I first took my job at the school where I work now, I nearly threw a tantrum when I learned that our school was planning a special meeting a day or two away, and that it was going to be at a mountain top Jjim Jjil bang resort (large sauna), and that after the meeting we were all expected to spend the night. Luckily I got out of the sleep over aspect of that but still I find it inconvenient to be asked to stay overnight away from my house for work.


Now this case is even worse by the fact that last October I got married, and I now have a wife that I don't like leaving behind.


But I think I'll used this opportunity to look at what the program is offering with some commentary, and then in the future I'll use another post to evaluate what I actually learned at the seminar.


Starting on Sunday, it looks like this will start out with an opening ceremony (Wonderful, I love opening ceremonies where I sit in auditoriums and listen to speeches in Korean by various heads of school boards.)


Then there is an hour and a half lesson that is an introduction to modern Korean history. (Could be interesting)


Effective classroom management. (10 to 1 says that this is some guy in the front of the class saying, So what do you think is effective classroom management)


After a meal is a Korean language class. (We get two of these through out the week, two Korean classes, I bet they will just say, well we're tired so why don't you guys just get some free time. I'm kind of hoping for that situation since it would be completely ridiculous to try and teach Korean in two hour and a half long lesson.

Lastly I'll finish with a discussion about the section in the pamphlet referring to Korea's ironic national past time of hypochondria (Ironic for people who share bowls of soup, and eat a wide variety of raw meats, but of course some old people think that if they eat boiled cat broth, it will help their arthritis because cats' joints are flexible). I'm all for preventing swine flu, as much as the other guy, but during this training program, it seems that I have to take my temperature every morning. It also seems that if I contract swine flu, I have to wear a medical mask. (If I get swine flu and happen to spend an evening vomiting and coughing up blood, I'll just go to the doctor.)

At any rate, as much as I hope that I learn something from this retreat, I would really rather not go. I don't exactly look forward to twelve hour days of tedious teacher training, but I figure that if I get one or two new good ideas for classes, then the trip won't be a total waste of time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Jim and Julia Project


I made this cake today from the Julia Child cookbook. Not bad. I wish it had more flavor, but It was a good start. I learned a new cake making technique, using whipped egg whites.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Excitement

I got paid last week, and quickly made three impulse purchases/or acquisitions that I hope and think will make for an interesting December.

Impulse Purchase 1:
Sunday set the tone for this week with me doing absolutely nothing. The day before I went for a bike ride, while on Sunday I didn't do anything. I got out of bed, around 11:30, walked to my living room and watched a movie. After that movie I ordered chicken and drank some beer and wine. Then after that movie I made some coffee and watched another movie. One of the movies I saw was "Julie and Julia," which encouraged me to order the Julia Child cook book.

Impulse Purchase 2:
A friend of mine is leaving town. Said friend has a Weber Charcoal Grill, that he needs to get rid of. Two weeks ago, he and I burned up some cheeseburgers and baby back ribs on that grill. I found the grill to be a fantastic tool that I want to give as a gift to the in laws for Christmas. Perhaps this gift is a projection of my own desires, but I want to use it to bring the holiday of Christmas to some well deserving in laws who probably wouldn't celebrate it. (They are Buddhists.) I'll use the thing to burn up some beer can chickens for them.

Impulse Purchase or Acquisition 3:
I'm not sure if I am going to have to pay for these, but the principal of my school has some land in the countryside where he grows Bonsai(Banseong) trees. (바성나무) My school had been doing some landscaping adding about ten to twenty pine trees to the school's grounds. One day I was walking and saw the principal. In the past he had told me about his land and how he liked to grow various shrubs, so on that day I asked him if the new trees at the school came from his land. I think he answered yes, but I'm not sure if he understood the question. At that point I thought to ask if he would sell me some trees from his land. I wanted one tree for myself to turn into a Christmas tree, and one to give to my in-laws as a kind of Christmas gift, and because my father in-law has a garden and seems to like to grow things.

Yesterday, I got out of school a bit early and went to the farm to pick out some trees. I'm not sure if I have to pay for them, but I chose two cute little things that I think will help make the holiday season a bit more festive. I realized that this is actually a pretty good idea, an idea that might be able to be exported.

Every year, around Christmas time, many Americans make the journey to a Christmas tree farm, or a parking lot that sells live Christmas trees. They do this because they want to have the authentic Christmas and pine smell experience, as opposed to the experience of having a fake plastic Christmas tree. Christmas trees can cost anywhere between twenty and two-hundred dollars, and can cause domestic squabbles in the set up, and take down.

This is why I am proposing the idea of having a bonsai Christmas tree farm. Most people think of Bonsai trees as being tiny trees that are purely decorations, but that isn't necessarily always the case. In Korea Bonsai trees are frequently up to twenty feet tall. Now I may be confusing my nomenclature in calling tall ornamental trees, "Bonsai trees," but yesterday at my Principal's tree farm I saw many trees that he called banseong, that were about as tall as I was, They were also trimmed in a triangular shape that would make a good Christmas tree.

Now, if one were to buy a moderately sized potted pine tree, and put it in their house during the Christmas season, and then keep it on a porch, or as part of a hanging garden during other months, it would defiantly save the hassle of trying to put a tree in one's car. Also, if one were to put down about $300 for a tree one year (or in the spring when they don't have to save money Christmas presents.) They could recoup their investment in a few years.

*Note I'll add pictures of my impulse acquisitions when I finally get the items.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Big Bike Ride

I've been bored all week since my wife has been away. I was so bored that I was compelled to take a bike ride. I wanted to see how far the Jinju bicycle path was so I decided to follow it to were it ended. Along the way there were some rather interesting sites. First were these weird ass huge birds in the river:I tried to go down into the river bed to get a better picture but they decided to fly away.
I got back on my bike. The a few minutes later I saw a guy standing off of his bike and looking towards the road. I looked too and saw a car accident. There was a red matiz up on the side walk and there was a guy on the phone. I looked closer and saw smoke coming from the matiz and didn't see anyone inside, and then I saw a lady laying in the street. I didn't stick around because there were already other people there on phones helping out, and there wasn't anything I could do, but on the way back I saw that pretty much everything was cleaned up. The lady in the street looked like she was in pain, but she was moving around a bit. Once again nothing I could do so I just left.

With that in the back of my mind I pressed on and the pink concrete turned to grey gravel beneath me, and about a half hour later I reached the end and took a picture of the Nam river.

My best Friend this Week


He was really there for me.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

섬 마을

Right in downtown Geumsan. There is a place in front of the bus station called Sum maeul. The place's specialty is fish shell noodle soup, but they also have other dishes as well.

I forwent the noodles, and had some Dol Seot Bibimbab. For 5000 won I was treated to a bowl of dwenjjang soup, two pieces of tofu, some seaweed stuff, some fried tofu stuff, and two brown pots of Kimchi, and oh yeah a piping hot stone bowl of bibimbab. It was all very surprisingly delicious.

The location of 섬 village is right nearby the main Geumsan bus stop across the street from G.S. 25. Perhaps due to it's location, I probably overlooked it for the past two years, but I am happy to have found it. Who knows, I might stop by for some seashell noodles some time (해물 칼국수, not my favorite meal.) All in all, a successful lunch.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kimbab house redeux (Or if this Post doesn't force my Institutionalization then Damn)

Through the clear haze of Beaujolais neuvou thoughts, I'm confronted with thoughts of past times. The song of autumn wind and smell of fallen leaves narrated the feeling of life that welled in the heart that powered the legs that pumped the bicycle petals that propelled me to the theater.

It was some time in October or November in the year 2002. I worked as a clerk in a news stand to subsidize the beers that helped my state subsidized studies. We all got the tickets to the State theatre that week. Barbarito Tores the Cuban lute player from the Beuna Vista Social club was giving a free concert with a band that he brought up from Havana to Kalamazoo.

Three guitars strummed with two drummers, a striking Cubano on Bass accompanied, the female vocalist who salsa'd and wailed that "This was a night for lovers and if you are person who is in love then you are a special person and this is a special night." I wasn't in love but I wanted to be.

I lived with seven other people in a house that was at one time a sorority house and under archaic Michigan laws, could be considered a bordello, since there were three single women living there at the time, but they couldn't understand, how could they? They thought that Robin Williams first said Chris Rock's Joke about Micheal Jackson being a poor black man from Indiana growing up to be a rich white woman. Lovely people but culturally not on the same page, or chapter or book as I was.

Up on my feet I tried to salsa to catch the eye of anyone watching the sad solo college student who had come to a free Afro Cuban Jazz concert all by himself, and just wanted a pretty face an sympathetic ear to hear the running monologue he had by himself in his car or when people weren't looking.

This was a hunger. A hunger for wanting to share these moments of extreme beauty. To sit silently and know that the other was enjoying the moment as he was. A hunger I miss, but fill during my lunch breaks from my job of trying to get middle school students to speak my native tongue.

I cherish solitude, but in moments of solitude I crave company. This makes me a frequenter of places. Places like coffee shops, or the Kimbab house. After every meal at the Kimbab house I feel grateful for having chosen to have had lunch at the kimbab house. It doesn't matter what I eat. I exit the door heading north and always say to myself, "Damn that was good."

Sunday my wife took a business trip for a week. She is a Guns and Rose's fan, and thinking of November rain, I think back to my serenade at the Kalamazoo State theater. The night I wanted to feel special by being in love. I remember the hunger that I had then and the hunger I feel now in missing her. I remember my bike's tires hissing the gentle shh, crushing wet leaves beneath them. The wind chilled my back through the wool of my pea coat. I wanted to put into words my feelings about what I had just seen. But no ears in my house could know the meaning of what I would say if given the chance, and no one could care.

But next Sunday when she returns I know my life long hunger will once again be quenched as if I had a million Kimbab house lunches.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vegetable soup

I figured out how to upload videos to youtube, and then have youtube videos come over here. So this is my Vegetable soup project.

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Blog!!!

I have created a new blog that explores martial arts training. This blog is pretty much specified to people who are interested in my philosophical develepment of various martial arts. (Very, very specified audience, I expect 1-2 readers) Check it out.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Girls Generation Chocolate Phone

Companies have always found interesting ways to hawk their wares. Way back in the day the Hasbro company brought us the great cartoon show, "Transformers," in order to sell their toys. These days in Korea, phone companies are using pop bands to sell phones. I think the first one was called the Samsung Anyband, and it featured prominent K-pop stars singing about and using the Samsung Anyphone. After that Samsung came out with the Amoled phone and took girl band "Afterschool," added Son Dam Bi to form the voltron head and created the Amoled band.

Not to be out done, LG decided to give me all kinds of queasy and uncomfortable feelings by dolling up 소녀시대 (Girls Generation) in all kinds of different outfits to sing about the new LG chocolate phone.

A few years ago, back when I was working in a box factory, in between stints in Korea, I remember how Verizon wireless was advertising the Chocolate phone. The chocolate phone was simply the free phone that came with the Verizon service. The commercial was in no way interesting, it was just a guy saying that when you sign up for the service you can get blah blah blah minutes free and take advantage of their 3g nation wide service, "Can you hear me now."

I can't help but wonder how the 30 second spot of the above chocolate commercial would go down back in some parts of the states. I would play this commercial mostly on CNN, FOX news, or MSNBC. Most of the commercials on those channels are for erectile dysfunction drugs, when they aren't commercials for other programs on their own channels. (Damn you CNN, I love watching 50 seconds of Anderson Cooper 360 then watching 10 commercials, one of which is a commercial for Anderson Cooper 360, eight other are for other shows on C.N.N, and then the only commercial that C.N.N. makes any money off of is for Cialis, great job guys.)

At any rate, the iphone is slow to come to Korea, and the Korea times has already started its doomsday predictions about how it won't be popular in Korea. For all of the fear of foreign competition I think that Korea should just boost its domestic cell phone ads in other countries in order to increase sales. Either one of two things could happen, people would buy more chocolate phones, or more people would associate their phone with sex and slink off into a locked closet every time someone calls them.

Actually I think the worst thing is that, I kind of like this song. The beats are kind of cool.

고집불통

Had lunch today at a place called "Go Jib bul tong" Once again I wish I had charged my camera battery because this samgyupsal place has a nice picture of a pig giving a thumbs up. I felt that having a full samgyupsal meal by myself for lunch would have been a bit extravagent so I opted to merely have a bowl of 해장국. The Haejang gook it's self was nothing to write home about. The pork tasted old wasn't very tender. The meal was passable though. I'll give it Two and a half ajosshis.

Monday, November 2, 2009

김밥 천국 2 부

Ladies, gentlemen, Romans, countrymen, I have finlay gotten around to writing a review for for the other Kimbab Chungook in Geumsan. Before I get started, I would like to thank reader .... for pointing out my mistaken Korean and lazy blogging. The franchise is not called 김밥청국 but rather 김밥천국. So thanks to .... for clearing that up.

At any rate the meal was very interesting because this was a different Kimbab chungook than the one that I reviewed before. Last time I ordered a tuna kimbab, a salad kimbab and some kimchi mandu. Last time I wanted some fried mandu, but it wasn't on their menu. Curiously, though, there was fried mandu at the kimbab chungook that I went to today.

Today I once again had a tuna kimbab as well as a bowl of 육게장 Yook kae jang. The service today was a bit late but that had only to do with the place being swamped during lunch hour, and there was only one lady cooking. (The other place had a lady making kimbab and the other making kitchen items.) It was quite a novelty to see this lady in her pink rubber boots slamming together lines of kimbab faster than the wink of an eye, and seeing her friend brow beat her husband the delivery man for being too slow and for answering the phone with a mere grunt rather than saying anyong hassaeyo kimab chungook imnida.

Slow as it was though, I was treated to a four sided plate of banchan. Present were some blanched potatoes, some kimchi, some kind of dwenjang and vinegar green thing which was quite delicious and some candied fish which I didn't touch. Eventually my kimbab came. I was pleased to find that the rice was a little warm. There existed some differences in the tuna from the last time though. Last week the kimbab's tuna went straight from can to roll, while the tuna today seemed to have some kind of tangy sauce mixed in it. Perhaps a miracle whip or something. This pate of tuna and special sauce fit nicely with the gentle sour of the 단부지. This is not to say that one is better than the other they are just different. Strangely different since 김밥천국 is a franchise, one would think that there would be some consistency in the recipes.

I polished of the kimbab in a few minutes before the soup came with a fresh plate of banchan and a bowl of rice. There isn't much to report about the soup. I wonder how they make it. I doubt that an instant place like Kimbab heaven would put time into boiling beef parts in order to make broth, so I wonder if the broth is from some kind of can or something. I enjoyed the soup, salty could describe it best. Surprised was the face of a customer who inquired to the lady about what I was eating. Other than that the soup didn't have much to offer.

Now I would like to introduce my rating system of ajoshis. Highest rating is the five ajoshi, which is the kind uncle who gives you money on holidays. Number four ajoshi is the guy who converses with you on the bus or subway and has interesting things to say. This could also be a taxi driver who takes you quickly to your destination and helps you practice Korean. Three ajoshi is the guy who gives you a nod and leaves you alone. Two ajoshi pees in the street. And the lowest rating of number one ajoshi is any drunk man who yells threats at locked up convenience stores trying to buy cigarettes at four in the morning.

The Kimbab Chungook next the D.C. Mart, and the Kimbab chungook on the other side of the mountain and next to morning glory paper supplies both receive three ajoshi.

Friday, October 30, 2009

김밥청국 1 부

Today for lunch I dined at the Kimbab Chungook that is next to D.C. Mart in Geumsan. Sorry no photos because my camera battery is dead and I only sort of suck as a human being.

Anyway I may have mentioned before in a post that there are two Kimbab Chungooks in Geumsan. My school lies between the two of them on an elevated piece of land that is not quite a mountain, but is a bit of an excruciating hill to walk up from each side. At any rate, today's lunch featured a dilemma as to which Kimbab Chungook to go to . A: Do I go to the one next to D.C. mart on one side of the land mass that I will refer to as 중학산 or do I go to the one that I have never been to before? I opted for the former and before I knew it I was greeted warmly at the door by the owners.

For my lunch I had a tuna Kimbab, a salad Kimbab, and an order of Kimchi mandu. Usually I am quite impressed with this branch's 단무지 or the yellow pickled radish that usually comes inside of a Kimbab, the 단무지 is usually crispy, but today it wasn't. I have to say that the kimchi mandu exceeded my expectations in that it was not too spicy and it also did not give me heart burn later.

I am sorry for this incomplete post but my computer keyboard is pissing me off. For some reason I can not type apostrophes so I am getting angry as I write this so tune in next week as I tackle the other 김밥 청국.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Geumsan Lotteria

Well everyone here is a post that is not in the chronological order according to the time and place of where I ate, but here is a review nonetheless of the Lotteria in Geumsan. Yesterday I had a nice Don Ggass at the Kimbab house, and I took some covert video of the experience, however I also couldn't find the power chord to my video camera and as the battery died, I couldn't transfer the video from the camera to my new computer so today instead of reviewing the Kimbab house I will review the Geumsan Lotteria.

Now the Geumsan Lotteria is a rather new venue. Last summer in the location where the Lotteria is, there was a soon dubu place called "Go Ga Nae," (Go family ........Nae) Go Ga Nae, made many fine things like a really nice dol sot bibim bab that came with many sides of Kimchi, Gak Ddooki, and a lukewarm bowl of seaweed and tofu. The drawback to the place was that it was kind of dirty, and the bathroom was kind of scary. (The faucet on the sink was attached to the pipes with a mountain of electrical tape.) Luckily for me I never got sick the three times that I ate there, and the last time I went, I found the place abandoned.

Then the Lotte Company came by, fixed the place up and turned it into a Lotteria. I was there for the opening and was treated to seeing the dancing girls that christen grand openings with some undulations to popular music in neon colored clothing. That day, like today, I had a Paprika Bacon Beef Burger. Apparently a paprika is a bell pepper (I think I may have been told one time that "paprika," is the word commonly used in Australia to describe Bell Peppers, the word is generally used in my parts to talk about the spice paprika, the stuff that people put on deviled eggs. I'm also not sure that I believe that bell peppers are called paprikas in Australia I stand to be corrected though.)

My dining experience today treated me to all of the wonders of a fine dinning experience, yet left me confused. I found it to be fine because at 12:30 in the afternoon the only customers were me and two motherly looking women eating chicken sandwiches. And that is what left me confused as well. I fear for the future of this Lotteria because during a peak lunch time, there were only three customers in the establishment!!! This is only after being in business for three months.

Now both Monday and Tuesday I went to the lake in Geumsan to enjoy some kimbab, and kimbab fried rice that my wife made for me, and I stopped by the lotteria on the way back to have cappuccino on Monday, and a Latte on Tuesday during my walk back to school. On both of those days, during a prime lunch period, the Lotteria was virtually empty as well. It really makes me wonder if this place has any hopes of surviving. I have been told that in the days of old there was another Lotteria that went out of business where a GS25 stands now.

That is something that I find interesting about Lotteria. That is that Lotteria branches go out of business. I think the McDonalds has a fail safe mechanism that ensures that it's branches stay in business, there is also a lot of market research that goes into an area in order to be sure that an area sees an adequate amount of traffic before the shovels even go into the ground. I think that can be seen in the relative numbers of McDonalds and Lotterias in Jinju. Jinju only has two McDonalds branches compared to Lotteria's eight.

The scant amount of people, though, is a definite plus in my book when it comes to lotterias. I have found that lotteria French fries are frequently cold. At the Jinju, Geumsan branch though, my meal was cooked to order, and I enjoyed some nice, hot fries. The same could be said for the burger too. The burger was cooked to order with fresh vegetables and was nice and warm. Comparing this to a much more profitable Lotteria next to Jinju's city hall, and also nearby a girl's middle and highschool where I can expect to be bothered by students of all variety wanting to know what my name is where I am from. (I usually tell them I am 구준표 from 강워도) Also at the city hall branch I can usually expect uncooked and soggy fries.

So to anyone who is out for a hike on any of the two peaks of wol ah san, and fancies having a prompt and fresh ticket to an upset stomach, please visit the Geumsan Lotteria (seriously before the place goes under, I give it five months.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Apologies for the Delay

I promised last week that I would be bringing you all restaurant reviews for the finest dining in Geumsan Myeon. Unfortunately I couldn't adhere to that promise so far since both yesterday and today I had lunches made for me by my dear wife of two going on three weeks now.

That said, I have to say that the lunches made by my wife were fine dining experiences in their own right. One might ask, "Why you crazy bird. You school provides food for you, why not just eat in the cafeteria instead of wasting all that time and money? Are you mad?"

In a word, yes. Yes I am a bit stricken with the vapors of Delphi, and my lunches outside of school grounds is nothing but pure tonic for the humors. It is said that the extroverted among us find solace in camaraderie and busy areas like middle school lunchrooms where teachers dine and police the area, ensuring that students with full trays or half empty trays don't bump into students waiting in line for their slop. Teachers also make sure that students don't mix genders in their seating assignments, and make sure that tables fill up with due efficiency and speed. It is because of this highly controlled, yet highly chaotic situation that I choose to leave school grounds after spending a few hours trying to control chaos in an incomprehensible language.

Both yesterday and today I retreated to the scenic splendors of Geumho lake seen at the beginning of "The Final Wol Ah San Video". (Not a video I recommend) Yesterday I heartily devoured some tuna kimbab 참치 김밥 made for me by my wife. While we are still trying learn how to use our rice cooker it should be noted that yesterday's 김밥 was extremely edible. It lacked the normal mayonnaise that normally goes into making tuna Kimbab, but that could be considered a heart healthy plus. I finished the Kimbab and two 귤 rather quickly and then I departed on the walk back to the school.

Today was a bit different. She had made some fried rice for lunch, using the leftover Kimbab ingredients. I worried about about the quality of the fried rice, but soon found that my worries were unnecessary, and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, once again while taking in nature and all of its glory. Unfortunately I hit a bit of a snag to day as well. I was thinking of this blog post today, and I fully intended to take a picture of my view as I ate, but instead of forgetting my camera today, I learned that the battery had died and needs recharging.

That only emboldens my plan for tomorrow.

1. Charge my camera battery.

2. Go to the 김밥 청국 that is next to D.C. mart, and in front of 농협 .

3. Get some 김밥.

4. Go to 금호지.

5. Wax poetic about the crispiness of the 금산 김밥 청국 단무지.

See you then :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Series of Blog Posts that Nobody could Possibly Care about Except Me

Hello Everybody. I have been gone for a while, I was spending a lot of time doing things like getting married, preparing to get married, and just being lazy and not writting in my blog. Now that I have completed all of those tasks, I plan on starting a series of restaurant reviews for the area of Geumsan myun in Jinju. 진주시 금산면. I don't know if I should include pictures of those places or not but I think the reviews will go in this order.

1. Kimbab House
(By far my favorite restaurant in Geumsan.)

2. The Kimbab Chung gook that is in front of Nong Hyub.

3. The Kimbab Chung gook that is next to the stationary store.

4. Ji Jung Hwan's Imshil Cheese pizza

5. And Finally lotteria.

For all of those people out there who do not know, Geumsan is a suberb of Jinju. It is a quaint area of farms and apartment buildings. There is almost no traffic there during the day time, and people are few and far between. On the other hand there are many somewhat new apartment buildings, an airforce base, a nice little lake, and a mountain that has two peaks called, wol ah san, 월아산. Honestly there aren't many culinary delights in Geumsan apart from Kimbab places and meat grilling places, (Too much grease for lunch) but I do enjoy dining in the Geumsan area. I figure next week I'll dine in each of the places that I mentioned before and give a little write up about them. I may edit the list though. I had some Carbonara in Ji Jung Hwan's pizza, and later that night I had a terrible headache. I am not saying the two are related but I'll have to see how I feel before trying that place out again. (They also surprised me with the bill, the lady pushed some pinaple soda on me when I was ordering, me thinking it was free, took the bait and was later surprised to find out that it cost me 1500 won, 참)

So see you all next week.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hey whose that guy with the hair cut and silk outfit?

Oh yeah, that's me, Jim Kruska, aka, James Kruska. That's right, still sayin it just to get my name out there.

Makin beer

video

Birthday steak

video

Here is an absolutely terribly edited video about my birthday steak. This turned into a bit of a disaster because the charcoal fire refused to start. Listen to this equally terrible song and replace the word "sex," with steak and you may be able to further celebrate my birthday which was about a week and a half ago.

Disapointing the Inlaws

video

A few weeks ago my future wife, father, mother, brother, sister in law, nieces, and nephew went to a river valley for a day of fun and barbecue. This was the resulting video. As you can see, I am playing around on a two year old's floaty toy. I'm not proud of the resulting video.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

If you live in Jinju.....

If you live in Jinju and want a nice (expensive) western meal, don't go to VIPs or Outback go to the Asia lakeside hotel, on Jinyangho. I am very serious about this. That place will be the location of my wedding this October, so we went there to have lunch today.

There are two restaurants there. One is Japanese, the other seems to be French and Italian. I had eaten at the Japanese one before, and found the sushi to be a cut above the normal sushi that you can get other places. A highlight of that meal was some kind of pan seared tuna like fish that they called an oil fish, that was great.

Today Gff/booin and I went to the western restaurant. I had a tenderloin and seabass combo, and she had some baked seafood spaghetti. Hers had some giant shrimp and other shellfish in it. Normally I don't like shrimp, but I tried one of hers and found it to be great.

My meal was excellent, the tenderloin was in a brown sauce that had some balsalmic. I cut the tenderloin with my butter knife. I had never tried sea bass, but this bass was served in a safron sauce that carried a nice mild flavor. Served with the meat and fish were some zuccini, a mushroom that i am forgetting the name of right now, in Korean it is called a Soangi mushroom I forgot the more common Japanese name, also a bacon wrapped thing.

To all folks who live in Jinju, if you want to go spend about 60,000 won on a meal for two, skip the Outback, and the Vips, go to the Asia Lakeside Hotel.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Taco Loco

video

Kruska has done it again. He has profaned the art of film making with another film that stains the craft. Another piece of excrement that requires the help of a plunger for it to go down. Five tomatoes were used in the making of the tacos seen in this movie, but I'm sure five million will be thrown at computer screens when viewing this blog.

Ironically, on the side bar of this blog, martial arts videos are promised, yet action fans are treated to nonsensical cooking programs. Kruska had better learn his audience and live up to his promises in the future. At least the last film had something of a sword fight in it with a cube of frozen chicken stock, in this film there is simply a running monologue about a Korean grocery store chain and a disturbing comment made towards two cloves of garlic.

To top that off, Kruska seems to sound needlessly defensive about his choice to add pinto beans to some taco meat. Who cares?

Once again there is a part that could use some explanation. Kruska drones on and on about going back to the store to get some more supplies, then there is a break and suddenly people start speaking broken Korean in the form of Moo han shiday, the Korean restaurant feature show that goes from town to town talking about the various novelty places in the countryside. Ai Ya Yai, this reviewer's patience is wearing thin for the films of Jim Kruska. Fifty four thumbs down.

Yeah FTISEK is now the first hit when you google "James Kruska"

Just googled myself and am happy with the results, I would like to thank my readers and everyone out there who have made this a success!!!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

How to become a Wine Person

Ladies and Gentlemen there is a new type of alcoholic out there. They are called wine People. Wine people constantly live in denial to the fact that they are indeed alcoholics, but like to hide their addictions behind full bodied adjectives and metaphors.

In the field of Anthropology, Clifford Gertz enjoyed using the term "thick description," as a means of talking about culture. However, in the world of drinking, wine people like to blow smoke up listeners' asses by making comparisons of wine to things that people have never actually tasted before.

As I write this I am drinking a Chilean Syrah that boasts a "black current and blackberry balance with a spicy note."

I must admit that this wine tastes exactly like what I had for breakfast this morning, which was oatmeal with black currents and blackberries topped off with some cajun seasoning.

All kidding aside I wonder how many people sit around and eat black currents? I don't even know what one looks like. (Okay, googled it, and I always thought that those things were poisonous.)

At any rate, tonight, I ate some baked spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. It was okay. I'll describe the wine that I had with it in wine person talk.

Tonight's wine had the complex qualities of an Asian pear/Service berry fruit salad. Jesus Christ, what have I done with my life?

The aroma brings to mind cherry blossoms in the spring with the subdued overtones of the atmosphere before a rain. What went wrong?

Yet there is a subtle earthiness. Much like the earthiness I tasted when I woke up this morning outside a Baskin Robbins with faint memories of singing Elvis Presley's "Its now or never," to a duck.

All in all, on a seesaw shared between an apple cured smoked bacon and wild pheasant miso casserole the scales were tipped more towards the smoke house than the house of a home cooked Japanese comfort meal. Seriously if you see me you can pretend like you don't know me, I'd do the same if I were in your shoes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jim Kruska's disapointment in the first hit on google when James Kruska is typed in.

Okay about 4 years ago I was working at a winter camp at Gyeongsang National University, this is the first hit on google that I get when I type in my name. Apparently some dude that I was working with (I'm not going to mention his name because I don't really know the guy despite him being seemingly a first name basis with me.) was taking some photos that he didn't want to be seen taking. Now I can't really speak too much to this guy's intent but the bars in the foreground are kind of disturbing indicating that the photographer was inside and then later uploading his personal memories of me standing around with a hockey stick next to some kids. I'm just glad that i look thin in this picture.

Jim Kruska's post about making Jim Kruska more Visible on Google

I Jim Kruska, am adding a post with my name to this website in an attempt to make my name more visible on google, Jim Kruska. When I google myself, Jim Kruska aka James Kruska, I get some disappointing web results. Finally the last post about the worst cooking show ever, gave both Jim Kruska and James Kruska some more visibility on the web. Unfortunately, also when I google myself, the name of some lady who was convicted of a dirty crime also comes up.

It is up to me, Jim Kruska, to make sure that my name appears in print enough so that when I Jim Kruska aka James Kruska google's myself Jim Kruska, that there is no confusion.

Thank you for listening
Signing off
Jim Kruska aka James Kruska

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Worst Cooking Show Ever

video

I searched my thesaurus, but couldn't find enough synonyms for the word bad, or one potent enough to describe Jim Kruska's latest foray into the world of film making. Other films by Kruska have featured him cast in the role as mountain adventurer, sword fighter, but in Kruska's latest project he plays the role of health guru/chef, and as a result viewers would be cautioned against dining in any establishment that features him at the helm in the kitchen. (As a freshman in college he anchored a kitchen of an establishment that went out of business after a malfunction of a walk in refrigerator.)

In standard vlog format, the film starts out with the custom vlogger pose of the person who thinks that the conversations one has with them self is interesting enough to film and put on the internet. However in Kruska's case, the fast eyes that dart about reminds viewers of someone on their first date. Indeed, one gets the feeling that Kruska feels anxious even when talking to himself.

The film then cuts to an unexplained shot of boiling chicken. One is later supposed to piece together that the shot following the boiling chicken is the frozen block of chicken broth that was the product of the boiling chicken from the day before. In the hands of a real film maker, this would have been explained.

The frozen block of chicken broth goes on to set the tone for the rest of the film and how appetizing everything looks next to a frozen block of chicken broth, which Kruska unfortunately refers to as a "chickensicle," and unsanitarly beats with a wooden sword.

As a taster, I would have to say that a saving grace of the film would be that the soup actually tastes pretty good, but as a film critic, I would say that Kruska's career as a film maker is going to be a short one.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Eatin Japanese food in Myeong Dong

video

I don't make it up to Seoul that often but last week I had some marital business to attend to at the American Embassy. When that was all finished we went to my favorite part of Seoul, Myeong-dong. We don't really go many other places in Seoul, the last time we were there we checked out Anyang and Myeong Dong, that was way back in February. At that time I shot some footage of Okonomiyaki.

Now Myeong-dong is famous in Korea for its ability to attract Japanese tourists who seem to like to go there and buy cosmetics, seaweed, and they also like to eat Korean style energy chicken soup. (Normal chicken soup made from a Cornish game hen prepared with garlic ginseng, a fig, a chestnut with rice cooked in the middle.) Naturally a place with so many Japanese people would also have Japanese food.

Okonomiyaki to me is usually a disappointing dish. It is basically an omelet with a whole bunch of stuff on it, cooked for a long time, and topped off with flying fish flakes and terriyaki sauce. Not bad with a beer but it also leaves me with a feeling of having wasted a meal. The Okonomiyaki in this video was no different, but it is kind of cool to film.

In the second part of the video you can see some Doan Ggass. Don Ccass is Korean for the Japanese Katsu Doan. This is basically a deep fried pork chop that is a Japanese dish that is also popular in Korea. It is served a few different ways. Japanese style is just a bare pork chop. A sesame/terriyaki paste is provided for dipping, and is usually served with a cabbage salad at Japanese style Korean franchises. Korean style don Ggass features the pork already covered in the sauce.

Both styles are okay. My favorite place for the Korean style is a small place near by my school called Kimbab house. There you can get a pork chop, some rice, a salad, a cup of broth some little fruit thingys, and the price is only 4000 won. The taste is great too.

For 7000 won in Jinju, you can get the same meal at a Japanese style franchise, with the taste being okay but nothing really that special.

But for 9000 won, you can go to Myeong dong and have specialty Myeong Dong Don-cass. Here the pork chop is nice an thick. It is also quite tender and served with some rice, a cabbage salad, some pickled raddish (danmooji), and some nice miso/dwenjjang soup.

The lady who was our waitress seemed pleased that I ordered a beer using the Southern Gyeongsangnamdo dialect so she replenished my salad, and danmooji, whenever it ran out.

I have never eaten Katsu don in Japan, but I did have Katsu donburi one time in the Japanese countryside. Katsu donburi, takes the same pork chop and terriyaki sauce, and puts it over rice with an egg. I have to say that the Myeong dong Don-cass rivals the quality of the Katsu donburi pork chop that I had four years ago in Japan. Unfortunatly Myeong Dong Don-ccas doesn't have Katsudonburi (Don-Cgass Deop bab) on its menu. But if you want to have Katsu don in Korea, Myeong Dong is the place to go.

Buying a Hanbok

I went Hanbok shopping today with my fiance and her family. Her mom seems quite chummy with the owner of a silk factory, so we went to the factory store to go pick out colors for silk. My fiance chose a pink color for the skirt and a yellow top. I ended up with burgundy pants, a white shirt, and a dark blue jacket. There is also a patch that has silver embroidery of fire breathing turtles. My fiance's sister in law, and mother also ordered some silk and had some measurements taken.

This will be the first tailored outfit that I have ever had. I'm quite excited, actually. The outfit is 100% silk, and it will be sewn by hand. I think it will take one month to make.

Another interesting point about the day was the fact that after my fiance's mom paid for the outfits, the owner of the shop took us all out for lunch. I thought that was quite nice.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I finally had shellfish that I Enjoyed

I can't believe that I have never done this before. Last night I had dinner at a shellfish restaurant that grilled shellfish. I have never enjoyed shellfish until last night.

It was in a tiny shack of about 7 tables. Outside were some tanks that kept some giant scallops, clams, sea squirt, abalone, and other stuff that I don't know what it was.

The meal began with a guy bringing yeon tan and putting it in a hole in the middle of a table. A Yeon Tan is an artificial charcoal that is made from petroleum products. He then put a grill in the middle of the table and proceeded to add the shellfish. Before he did all of that though he gave us our side dishes which were some shrimp, a canned peach, some peanuts, and some saucess. Also at the end of the table were some chillie peppers mached up with some garlic and some kind of sauce. That mash up went into a metal bowl with some water, along with scallop and some other shells.

That sauce became an amazing spicy garlicy broth, that simmered away at the table. Along with all of that was a giant scallop shell that had some foil and shredded mozzerella cheese that melted on the grill.

Other shells were added to the grill and were eaten with the various sauces. At the end of the meal we ordered some intant Ramen. The ramen came with some shrimp and other shells in it. This made for a wonderful broth.

I should try this kind of food again except next time take some pictures.

Missin Michigan

I love the time we live in now. I love how easily information can travel through the air and overseas. If I had to watch only Korean television shows I probably would have a much move vibrant social life, or perhaps would have taken up some new hobby. I would probably be fluent in Korean, and weigh ten pounds less. Fortunately or Unfortunately I can usually see whatever television program that I want to see.

Two weeks ago I was reading "The Daily Beast," and read a story about the real life of male prostitutes. The story was based on the HBO television show, "Hung."

Later that week I was able to watch the pilot episode of "Hung," and was drawn to the show because it took place in Detroit. There haven't been many shows that take place in Detroit. Haven't been many movies either, so when I a Michigander see things in Michigan, I always tend to shit myself.

It also helps that the show isn't too bad either. The show is about a high school basketball coach who becomes a male prostitute and blah blah blah, who cares, you can see the ruins of Detroit on full display, inland lake McMansions, and all the other highs and lows of everything that is both right and wrong with America.

On the one hand the main character "Ray," is a likable guy who seems to have strong family values, but on the other he is a male prostitute who is chasing after the dream of wealth. That is much like a lot of Michigan and America these days. In a lot of places in Michigan you can find places of utter desperation. Homeless people beg for hand outs by saying that they are out of gas, because people might be more likely to help someone out who can afford a car rather than some junky.

On the other hand you can find fabulously wealthy people who are the meanest dirtiest cunts that the planet has to offer. You can find people whose business have been failing for years, but refuse to change. You see that in hung. You see Detroit's abandoned sky scrapers, acre wide abandoned factories, with no one to accept responsibility for them.

But Michigan is also a land of plenty. Plenty of corn, cherries, and most of all water. Scenes of "Ray," living in a cottage next to an inland lake makes me miss the days when a good swim or fish was only a mile away. Seeing that show makes me want to start a fire, crack a beer, and become food for the mosquitoes as the sun sets.

Don't get me wrong, Korea has lovely coasts, but not the kind that can take a dock, or the kind that allows one to be alone, since in the most remote of places here you can always see at least 5 other people.

At any rate, "Hung," is a pretty good show, it is even better if you were born in Michigan.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Just What the Hell is Wrong with Rain?

Right I got to give this guy some props for having that dance off with Steven Colbert, but he has been going down hill from there.

First he planned a U.S. tour, then totally flaked on it, and has gotten the pants sued off of him for doing so. The picture above shows him outside of the Hawaii court where he got sued. At that place he got served with another lawsuit in L.A. and did the punk ass move of dropping the serving papers to the ground.

Hey Rain, guess what, they are still going to get your money, you should have just played the damn concerts.

Then came Megan Fox.
In a few interviews in Europe, Megan Fox indicated that she would like to meet Rain and that he was kind of hot. You see Rain played the bad guy in Speed Racer. When I was a kid I saw a few episodes of Speed Racer and wasn't impressed. However, Megan Fox was in Transformers and became a personal friend of Optimus Prime. How does someone turn down the chance of being 2 degrees away from Optimus Prime. Optimus Prime is totally awesome and can turn into a peter built truck and stuff. He also has a laser cannon arm and is a robot, and Megan Fox knows him.

So come on Rain. What the hell is wrong with you? You would think that after you screwed over all of your American fans when you canceled your tour, you would at least try to do something totally rad and meet Optimus Prime. Now instead of making every American man jealous and making them hate you, they just hate you the way Boston Redsox fans hate Bill Buckner.

Plan to rip out Nick Kune's Femurs



I may have mentioned this before but, I will be getting married in October. My fiance, has a schoolgirl crush on K-pop boy band 2 p.m. member Nick Koon, (I don't know how to spell it.) Anyway 2 p.m. will be coming to Jinju this Thursday. I think being jealous in this situation is healthy as a sign of my love, so I think a plan to rip out this guys femurs is well warrented. I'm only going to stick to this plan if he A: Shows interest in my love. B: Is rude to her in anyway, or C: comes within 20 feet with lust in his eyes. So here is my plan.

First step: buy some chickens.

I'm still failing the "Idiet," so I need some chickens to make chicken broth. Korea doesn't sell canned chicken broth so whenever I make one of those "Idiet," soups it is always an ordeal because if I want chicken broth, I have to boil a chicken or two for a few hours and freeze the stock, and then add whatever beans or tomatoes to it later.

Step two: Practice pulling the thigh bones out of the chickens without removing the legs. I swear if Nick Kuhn tries anything with my woman, I'm going to make him an excellent dancer. Without thigh bones he'll have more gumby like motions on stage. I'll actually be doing him a favor.

Step three: I'll invite him to a public bath, give him a forget me now and gentily turn up the heat in the water. Usually in chickens the thigh bones come out pretty easily after a couple hours of boiling.

Step four: Buy some boshin tang dogs.

Step Five: Rabid fans of 2 P.M. would probably be sad that one of their members is femurless and want to extract their revenge on me. That is were the soup dogs come in. I'm sure that the dogs that Koreans make soup out of would like to extract some revenge on humans some how. Now I know that dogs like bones so if a murauding horde of middle school girls were to attack me. Then I could use the dogs as a canine sheild by throwing the popstar femurs into the attacking host. This would give me an ample opportunity to escape, and to apologize to such a promising young man like Nick Kuhn.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What the hell happened to me?

Initial Hope
This post is more a reflection. I feel like Korea changed me a bit. I'm finally starting to realize it. When I stepped of that plane in 2004 I was a hopeful college student. I came here to develop some devastating Taekwondo skills, which I did to some extent, but nearly five (no exactly five F me) years later I'm not as lean and and nearly as mean as I was.

Please don't ask me Questions that I don't know the Answer to

My day at work started like this. It was 8:00 in the morning. I sat down in my chair an turned on my computer. One co-teacher approached me with a text book to see if the text book had a sentence wrong. I looked at the sentence. It seemed fine to me so, and said so. Then another co-teacher chimed in and started saying real conditional unreal conditional blah blah blah. I really couldn't take that at eight in the morning, so I gave a rather terse response, "It's really not that important, the sentence is fine."

That response kind of shut them all up but I feel bad because I can't really explain why the sentence was fine, and for the life of me I don't see why it is so important. It really made me feel like a bit of a failure, because after that indecent I criticized them in my mind. "Why the hell do you care about that stuff, I still can't have any kind of meaningful conversation with the majority of these kids." Then I felt disappointed in myself because I have been there for two years and I can't have an English conversation for more than twenty second with most of the student body. And frankly I don't know how to change things. I can type out worksheets, I can make Korean and English vocabulary lists (I learned a lot of Korean that way). I can search for and plan activities, but I'd say that only about 1/10 of the students honestly try. The rest either use my class to dick around, or they just can't. (Those kids that started middle school, not knowing how to read English...guess what they still can't.)

My school made a change in its curriculum. At the beginning of this semester I was designing communicative lessons that simulated situational English. For a while I was running some pretty good classes with that. Then the students seemed to get bored with it. Then the principal decided that the third grade students should use one of the periods that I was using to take practice tests to get ready for some big test that they have to take in October. I don't blame him, he has to boost the school's standing somehow. It actually made my life a bit easier, but it made my co-teachers' jobs a bit harder, because they also had to take on about 2 extra extra classes per day each. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays all feature zero hour classes, as well as seventh and eight hour classes. Some days my co-teachers are teaching seven hours a day. As for the students they seem to hate school now, which has made classes that I teach that much more difficult. I do thank my co-teachers for putting a few questions from my self generated material on the tests so they have to pay attention in my class.

05 Remembered
The second time I came to Korea I did a free tesol course. In many respects I got what I paid for, because I learned a whole bunch of games and activities that I can bring into a classroom, but I still don't really know that much about English grammar. Korean middle school text books don't make it very easy either.

When you try to come up with ideas for classes a government issued text book has stunning material like this:

Let's talk 1

Sujin: Minho do you think that we can save the animals?
Minho: I'm sure we can save the animals. What about you sujin?
Sujin: I don't think we will.
Minho: Cheer up Sujin, you should be an optimist.

Just what the hell am I supposed to do with that for 45 minutes?

The grammar part doesn't get that much better.

Language Focus

Can you tell me where the library is?
I don't know what the hell is going on with this text book?

There is no teachers edition of the text book in English to tell me what the hell the point of the exercise is. I spent about two hours on the Internet learning about adverb or adjective phrases, whatever, I don't know why this is important, and not many people can tell me. I just want to have something to teach to the student other than Minho and Sujin's opinions on whether or not animals will be okay.

Remembering Me
Back when I was in high school and college I was pretty awesome. A bit like Napoleon Dynamite, but in someways pretty awesome. You see back in those days I thought that if I developed martial arts and break dancing skills, I would be more attractive to women. I actually never got around to being a competent break dancer, but I tried, and I genuinely enjoyed dancing at high school dances, and for a while some kids would put together nice little underground dance parties in a warehouse that was next to a fruit market. More importantly back in those days I despaired a bit, because I had a lot of things that I wanted to say to other people, but not many friends, and especially a girlfriend to tell them too. My solace had always been my car that always pumped the hottest underground hip hop beats of the time. Talib Kweli would rap about America's hypocrisy, and how hard it was to stay strong. That time I was making $150 teaching Taekwondo seven days a week. I learned a hate for something I loved. From teaching all the time and not having any strong opponents, my skills started to decline.

But hip hop was the sound track to that time of my life. Mos Def and Talib Kweli helped me to feel the city of Kalamazoo breathing, chest heaving, against the flesh of the evening, on me. My car was the place where hip hop would soothe my soul.

This Afternoon
I don't know what happened with me and my relationship with hip hop. We grew apart I guess. Just last week I posted a video of 9 Korean teenage girls dressed as Nazis doing a strange dance and singing about how they will grant all my wishes. Why am I accepting this? Where is is my inner dead prez? Where is Jill Scott on "The Roots Come Alive Album," reminding me that she can still sing despite having on all of her clothes? Oh yeah, I'm forgetting it because I've got a nine to five now. My needs are being met. The only thing I have to worry about is why there is is past tense verb in a second conditional sentence that seems to be set in the future. (I also have to worry about a crazy fuck to the north with his bombs.)

I remembered all that hip hop this afternoon though on youtube. In a personal sonic combination of typing lesson plans, nodding my head and hearing the aural pleasure of Nas's Hero I felt the power and righteousness of 400 years of oppression and creative expression ripping the strings of candy shop pop music that tethered my soul. Just check this out. If freedom had a sound it would be that. Now pressure cookers tick, cultural pressure cookers sound and look like this, and if you add too much water or turn the heat up too high, they explode.