Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cool Video By an ESL Teacher in Korea

Eat it Facebook. Cool video. Props for getting it up on The Daily Beast's website.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Home Alone

I've watched Home Alone about 20 times in the past two weeks. I think that it is a pretty great movie. Not many movies are like Home Alone anymore.

Home Alone uses a lot of short cuts and different perspectives to tell the story. Movies now days don't seem to do that so much, and they rely too much on special effects. I don't like how home alone uses the same gag a few times in the same movie. I don't like how the same gags are repeated throughout the sequels too.

Home Alone 2 was okay, but it was basically Home Alone 1 in New York. Home Alone 3 was okay too. Home Alone 4 sucked ass. I didn't even see 10 minutes of the movie and I can tell you that it sucked ass. It had French Stewart.

French Stewart was funny in a few episodes of third rock from the sun, but the guy is just annoying. He played the part of Marv in Home Alone 4. Why the hell would anyone get that Hack to play Marv?

Anyway I have a few ideas for more Home Alone Sequels:

Home Alone 5, successful family vacation.
In this Home Alone, the McCalisters manage to take a vacation together and they don't leave Kevin behind. The Family members are all nice to each other and everyone has a great time.

Home Alone 6, The Tale Of Kevin McCalister's Son Ollie
In this episode, a grown up McCauley Caulkin plays the role of Kevin McCalister as an adult. Kevin now works for a security firm that designs obstacle courses to train soldiers. He also sells security solutions to banks and diamond depositories. Kevin has a son named Ollie who he devotes all of his attention to. He is also sensitive to Ollie's needs and listens to any troubles that Ollie has. Unfortunately, Ollie isn't as creative or as capable as Kevin was when he was a kid, so when the McCalisters take a vacation to Germany, and Ollie gets on the wrong plane and ends up in Moscow, Ollie is easily captured by the Russian mafia after he accidentally shoots a low level mafioso in the face with an AK 47. Ollie is then sold to a Russian meat packing plant that is owned by Harry and Marv who were sentenced to Siberia after they were caught by the police in Home Alone 2. When Kevin finds out about this he tries to take a bullet train from Germany to Moscow that breaks down. Kevin is the rescued by some Russian tundra people who transport him to the meat packing plant via sleigh and reindeer. Meanwhile, Ollie finds that he has a knack for meat packing and begins to see Harry and Marve as benevolent grand dads. When Kevin arrives he rigs the meat packing plant full of elaborate booby traps that Harry and Marv fall into. When Ollie sees his elderly adoptive grandfathers get hit in the heads with paint cans, and sees Harry nearly fall into a giant boiler for rendering glue, he convinces his father to cease and desist the torture. Kevin, Harry, and Marv finally come to terms with the destructive relationship that they had, and unite to beat back a contingent of Russian Mafia members who storm the meat packing plant to collect a debt from Harry and Marv.

Home Alone 7: Angels with Filthy Souls.
Chuck Norris plays 1930's gangster "Johnny McCalister," Kevin McCalister's great grandfather. Johnny uses tricks and his Tommy Gun to get what he wants.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Public Service Post About The Weather

This post is a public service to new people in Korea about how to stay warm in the winter. I have lived in Korea for about five years. Even though I come from the state of Michigan, where winters can get well below zero, that is below zero Fahrenheit, which is different than below zero Celsius. Before I came to Korea, I didn't know how to deal with temperatures in the metric system, so here are some tips for staying warm.

1. Sleep under blankets. Blankets help you keep you warm by helping to retain body heat.
2. Turn on your heater
3. Wear clothes.
4. When you go outside wear a coat.
5. If you live outside, build a fire.
6. Eat cold soup. (I don't know why you should do that, but it sounds good.)
7. Go swimming in the ocean. When you get into the water it will feel really cold, stay in the water long enough to get used to the cold, but not long enough to die of hypothermia. After that go sit in a sauna somewhere or take a hot shower. Or just skip the swim and take a hot shower or go to a sauna.

I hope that other ESL instructors, from the Northern U.S. or Canada can find these tips helpful.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Geumsan Coffee Shop Review Fall Into Coffee

Trends in Korea tend to hit Seoul and Busan first and then filter their way down to the provinces. About five years ago I went to my first Starbucks in Korea, I think it was in Haeyundae or Gangnam or something like that. Seriously it doesn't matter Starbucks are usually all the same. Eventually Jinju got it's first Starbucks. Holly's coffee had been here as long as I can remember, but they only served espresso drinks.

If I wanted to get a brewed coffee I either had to go to McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts. The problem with Dunkin Donuts back then - and maybe now - is that they would pour a half cup of coffee and then water it down and add sugar, without asking. Also a long time ago McDonalds used to make some pretty great brewed coffee for only 1000 or 15
00 won a cup, but then they switched to that Lavazza shit and everything went downhill.

Then about three years ago, Jinju started getting coffee shops that would roast the coffee beans and make hand drip coffee. Those places were okay. The coffee tasted much better than Starbucks, not as good as Dunkin, - this is my opinion I really don't care what other people think - but at 4000 won a cup it usually wasn't worth the trouble.

Another problem that my school isn't in Jinju proper, it is in a suburb that has recently seen a small explosion in population due to farmers selling there rice fields to developers. The nicest thing about this place, Geumsan, is that it is quiet during school hours. I can go have lunch at a wide variety of places and be the only customer, or one of a sparse number of customers, so there had never really been a need for things like coffee or donut shops.

Last year a Lotteria opened, though. A long time ago there used to be a Lotteria in Geumsan, but that closed and became a G.S. 25. The place where the Lotteria opened used to be a soon dubu place. That place was good but it was dirty and the pluming in the bathroom was a bit suspicious in that the sink faucet was mounted with a pile of duct tape.

Lotteria provided me with passable cappuccinos, they weren't sweet and they tasted coffee like. Last month a donut shop opened. Ring Pang Donuts makes excellent Americanos, great cappuccinos, and I also purchased my favorite mug there. I bring that mug with me whenever I buy coffee there, and when I'm at home I drink beer and wine out of it.

Today or sometime last week saw the opening of "Fall into Coffee." This is the second proper coffee shop that I have seen in Geumsan. Before this place opened, there was another coffee shop that doubled as a dress shop. A student's mother also owned the place, and their house was above the coffee shop - they had an awesome house by Korean standards, it looked like an American house. I didn't want to go there for that reason.

Anyway fall into coffee reminds me of my coffee shops from my college days in Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo has the famous "Water Street Coffee Joint," which I would frequent throughout my college time, but the places that I went to to study and read newspapers were "The Space," and "Rocketstar Cafe."

The Space was opened by a collective of artists or - something like that - who would take turns volunteering to run the place. The coffee was great and they also had a stage for musical and dramatic performances. The place was pretty fucking awesome, but they had to close because they were next to a urology clinic that didn't appreciate the noise from the concerts. So the owners of the clinic bought the building and kicked "The Space," out. The Rocket Star was started by a guy who would occasionally work at the "The Space." This enterprising young man was also pretty big into the Kalamazoo moped scene and ran a moped sale and repair shop while running the Rocket Star. Unfortunately, the Rocket Star's building got condemned and they got kicked out, but that was after the original owner sold the shop and moved to a different town. Both The Space, and The Rocket Star had big windows and good coffee.

Geumsan's "Fall into Coffee," also has a nice view of Geumsan ro and some nice houses. The interior is cozy and feels like a great place to read a novel or chat with friends. The coffee was good as well. The owner definitely appreciates coffee. The process by which she made my coffee seemed a bit exhaustive.

I chose an Ethiopian Yrgachef coffee from a menu. She put some whole beans in a grinder and put the grounds into a melitta. The with the care of a tea maker warmed a tea cup with hot water from water heater. She then transfered some kind of special water that she had boiling in a small Gama Sot

She took this water and placed it in a brass teapot which she used to pour over the coffee grounds. The whole process took some time that they might find taxing in the future if they ever get super busy, but the resulting coffee satisfied my after lunch coffee jonesing. I don't know if I can frequent this place everyday, but I think I can divide my time between it and Ring Pang. Both places offer their advantages for when I where I want to eat lunch. Lunch at the Kimbab house can be serviced by a trip to Ring Pang while a hot bowl of pork soup or a plate of Chinese noodles can be followed by a fall into a coffee cup. I rate Fall into Coffee highly because it is the only place in Geumsan where I can get drip coffee. Also, in typical ajuma fashion the owner of fall into coffee gave me a second cup of coffee for free, and also offered me a free cappuccino, which I declined out of fear of a coffee stomachache.

Raw Fish

Had my first experience yesterday in going to a Hwe Jib. Usually when I go out for raw fish, the wife and I usually hit up some Japanese style place that serves bunches of side dishes first and then they throw in fillets of raw fish on gobs of vinegared rice (Cho Bab). After last Chuseok though, I started to develop a taste for the sour red pepper paste that Koreans serve with their sushi called cho jjang.

I enjoy the stuff immensely now. So yesterday in a fit of raw cuttlefish craving, we struck out all over town in search of a fix.

We didn't find a cuttlefish place. What we did find though was a place that had a 10,000 won lunch special.

And special it was. We were treated to a first small little plate of raw cuttle fish, some steamed flounder, some vegetables in red sauce, some vegetables in yellow sauce, some smoked duck, and some smoked duck. The lady then later brought out a little shrimp pancake with terriyakki sauce on it. Then came a plate of halibut filets, and some halibut on rice, then a plate of chap chae.

After that came the last course of soup and rice. The soup was a bit too salty but the rice was good. A freaking huge meal for two for just 20,000 won. I have been here for years and the amount of food you can get for super cheap still surprises me.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Once I wanted to be the greatest........greatest Taekwondo practitioner in Michigan. So in 2004 I went to Korea and trained with some high school kids for six weeks. When I went back to Michigan I found that what I did in Korea didn't really matter, so I decided to go back to Korea to make my Anthropology degree work for me by becoming an ESL teacher.

A few months before I went back I met the guy who would become my replacement. He was an 8th degree black belt in Taekwondo. He was also a Taekyon master. He eventually ended up stealing some money from our Taekwondo school and he made off with a dining room table that I let him borrow. He also teamed up with an American idiot to go start another school in a different town. He ended up stealing about twenty thousand dollars from that idiot. The idiot wiped out his kid's college fund to go do that. The Taekwondo and Taekyon master eventually bolted off to Canada.

While in Korea I started training Kumdo. Kumdo is pretty fun, but I never lost the urge to kick stuff. Unfortunately whenever I tried to go to a local Taekwondo school for training, I always found myself practicing with little kids.

Luckily, a week ago I was walking around my beloved Geumsan Myeon, when I saw a yellow van that had the phone number of a Taekyon Dojang on it. I had my #1 super wife call up the number. The next week (Last week as of the writing of this) I started doing Taekyon. After three lessons, I have found myself extremely satisfied.

The instructor is very patient and kind. The school is new so I have gotten private lessons with no kids. The martial art is also very gentle yet it provides a good work out in the places where I need a workout.

Taekyon focuses on intricate foot work and stepping patterns that force people to bend their knees and extend their abdomens. The foot work eventually builds power and adds a little extra umph to each kick. Youtube videos of people doing Taekyon show very fluid motions and people getting knocked to the ground with very simple techniques.

Korean Martial arts like Taekyon and Hapkido focus a lot of energy on a part of the body called the "Tanjeon" area. The "Tanjeon," area is located a few inches under the belly button and is supposed to be a place where a person's internal energy or "ki" collects. That may or may not be true, but if you spend twenty minutes or so doing some Taekyon hot stepping where you bend your knees and extend your stomach out over and over again, the next day you develop a nice sit up tummy ache.

So once again, I'm going to try to become the greatest.
Make my fists of solid rock, or at least I can have something else to get me out of the house.