Monday, June 30, 2008

They Are Not So Bad with BBQ Sauce

It's no big secret that I've never been a fan of kids.

You might be asking yourself, why would a self-admitted child-hater take a job teaching the 7-14 age bracket. Well, I don't have a good excuse for my stupid actions, but I do know that if you hate children, you are occasionally surprised by a great show of character. A short anecdote, if you will.

Today, in 8th grade, I was teaching a few weather terms, and I got to hail. Now, you know I can't really speak Korean too well, so if I need to explain what a word means, it usually takes a lot of effort, or a picture or something, but this gets pretty difficult sometimes. (Example: How do you illustrate "independence"?)

Anyway, hail. Students, what is hail? Students: Uhh...

Ok, ok. I will show you. So I take a piece of chalk and break it into as many pieces as I can. Then, I select the "target student" and toss a handful at him.

Ohh, hail.

I knew it was coming, too. I was pretty much asking for it; I just didn't know in what manner the student's vengeance would be enacted. But as soon as I turned my back, a piece of chalk went sailing through the air and hit the chalkboard. I stopped in my tracks, put on my best "oh my god" face and turned around. Then I smiled. "You missed." Laughs all around. No big deal right?

At the end of class, this kid (whose name I unfortunately do not know, and is a great character flaw on my part) came up to me and said "I'm sorry." At first, I honestly had no idea what the hell he was talking about. Until he said "chalk" and mimed a throw.

I wouldn't even think about apologizing for something like that in my younger years. Especially if the throw didn't even connect. Especially if the teacher wasn't even mad. Especially if I knew I could get away with it.

I know they're not "my students" and that I only see them, at most, two times a week, and I know that I hate them because they are little and cute and not rational, but I couldn't help but feel a little proud today.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Korean Primer, Part the Second

Let's play with consonants.

The first thing to realize about Korean is that certain consonants are closer to others than in English. Wow. What a terrible sentence. Patience, please.

I think, if you were to ask most people what letter "B" is most similar to, they would respond with "D". How about "G"? I think most people would say "J", because of the way English is formed.

In the Korean language, there are a few sounds that are something of a "sliding scale" phonetically, and they share written letters. For instance, make the "G" sound (guh) and then make a "K" sound (kuh) and notice how similar they are when being formed. The same goes for "B" and "P", "G" and "K", "J" and "ch". That's about all there is difficulty-wise for Korean consonants.

ㅁ ㄴ ㅎ ㄹ ㅇ

These letters are M, N, H, L, and ng (as in "well-huNG"). They are exactly the same as English.

ㅂ ㅅ ㅈ ㄷ ㄱ

These letters are "sliding scale" and they are B, S, J, D, and G

ㅃ and ㅍ, ㅆ, ㅊ and ㅉ, ㄸ and ㅌ, ㅋ and ㄲ

If you say them a bit "harder" they sound like this. P, ss, ch, T and K. This is the kind've the dumbed-down version of how these sounds work, but that's the gist of it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Korean Music, Part the Second



This is Big Bang. They are a HARDCORE SKATING GANG.



More Seo Taiji. I love the shit out of this guy. I have no idea what a "Heffy" is.

(Do yourself a favor and skip the first two minutes of this video. The end is worth watching though.)



This song isn't great, but I had to show this video for the blonde guy in the beginning. This man is everywhere in Korea and always on TV, and he is exactly as douchey as he appears.



I like girls.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Wish This Would Happen to Me

I REALLY Can't Dance

I'm no African, but this election is bullshit.

It's difficult to really claim indignancy at the news of a Zimbabwe presidential candidate dropping out of the race. Firstly, and probably most obviously, I am not Zimbabwean. I'm not even African. I can't even dance.

Secondly, the race itself really doesn't mean dick. I mean, the Zimbabwean president could be murdered and replaced, and nobody would really notice, unless of course, he was murdered or replaced by a robot or a ninja. Or murdered by a robot and replaced by a ninja. No, I guess considering their respective specialities, the most efficient way would be to have the ninja do the killing and the robot do the replacing.

Thirdly, the guy that dropped out (we'll call him "Tsvangirai" for simplicity's sake), probably wasn't going to change the world, better or good. But he dropped and I'm pissed. What the hell is my problem?

What I think really bugs me about this is that this could happen in the US. Before we continue, let me clear something up real quick: I are not crazy man. I know that something like this happening in the states is very unlikely, and is probably the type of thing that we'll only talk about and never see.

What I'm getting at is if we had an election year where the opposition suddenly found themselves with 100 or so dead friends on their hands -- and blood on the incumbant's -- what would the potential candidate do? What would the citzenry do?

Our country isn't really formed like a democracy anymore, is it? We seem to have reliquinshed much of our responsibility to the government, while at the same time, blaming them for the wrong in the world. It's the way a child acts towards a parent. We notice when they ground us, never thank them for the things they do, and expect to be taken care of. In short, I'm saying that we do not deserve democracy. If Bush killed Obama's family, we would sit back and watch, just like we sat back and watched as he killed Iraqi families.

There's this level of self-governing that we're all so afraid of. We love preaching and praising our own democracy, but in the end, we don't really practice it. We're afraid of our own government, and if I had to guess, I would say that the government ain't so scared of us. They can do anything and as long as we're kept fed, we will never take to the streets.

How do you change that?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Korean Primer, part one

The Korean written language is easy as hell. I keep trying to tell this to people, and I don't think they believe me. This won't be a proper lesson in Korean, but it'll be enough to illustrate my point.

First thing, all the vowels are just straight lines, or variations on straight lines. Here goes:
ㅏ ㅓ ㅣ ㅗ ㅜ ㅡ

Those are, in order: A (short a, "ah"), EO (nasal a, "aw"), I (long e "ee"), O (long o), U (long u), and the last letter is EU ("uh").

Piece of cake right? There are a few difficult vowels, but there are only two important ones.

ㅐ ㅔ

This is just: AE (long a), and E (short e, "eh").

The other cool thing about Korean vowels, other than being able to instantly tell the difference between a vowel and a consonant, is that the vowels are all accented in just one other way. In other words, in the English language, if you see the letter "a", it could be pronounced several different ways and even more variations depending on if it's next to another vowel -- "language" for instance.

The vowels are all accented with an extra little line, and they all add a y sound.

ㅑ ㅕ ㅛ ㅠ ㅐ ㅔ

So: Yah, Yaw, Yo, Yu, Yae and Yeh

The language is so logical, it further adds to my theory that Korean people are ROBOTS. The consonants are even easier and I'll show those next week.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Konglish

Out of all the bad English that I see, the martial arts school with the slogan "We Need More Practice" is my favorite.

The t-shirt that says "Choose Your Own Gender" is a close second.

Friday, June 13, 2008

English is easy, see.

OMG No PoSt ToDaY SORRY lolz

On Fridays I have five classes at two different schools, and at one of the schools, today was "observation day". (You remember that shit don't you?) Everything was more busy than usual, and now I'm going to visit my friend Eun-Ok's class and make it fun, because I am a good friend and probably a few other reasons.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Had to Happen Sooner or Later

Alright, let's talk Korean music.



This is Seo Taiji. From what I gather, he's more or less the main "rock guy" of the country. I love the shit out of all his music, and he'll probably be my favorite Korean artist. Plus, his cartoon people are adorable.



This is Epik High. Everyone knows hip-hop ain't quite my thing, but I've listened to "One" more than any other song since I got here. The English subs are pretty handy too.



I love gratuitious skanky women.



This is SG Wannabe. This song cracks me up for two reasons. The first is that the title in Korean is "라라라" which, in the most literal translation, is "LaLaLa". The second reason is that Koreans don't realize that they're listening to the same style music as the rednecks in our country.

I guess if you were to put a gun to my head, I would also name a third, being that the video totally doesn't match the song. Ok, we have a country song named "LaLaLa". That just screams "horror movie" to me.

Monday, June 9, 2008

More Korean Questions

Movie theaters are just barely popular here in Korea, which astounds me.

The closest movie theater is in a city of 300,000, forty-five minutes away. And, in that city, they only have four cinemas. Even Macomb had two.

So I guess the question comes in two parts. The first is how often do you go to the theater, how often do you rent movies, and how often do you download? When I was in Seattle, I would go see an art film about once every other week, rent two or three movies every two weeks, and download probably around four movies a week.

The second part is how well do you like the movie theater as compared to watching it on a TV or a computer? Personally, I can't stand watching it on a computer screen. The difference between whether I rent a movie or whether I see it in the theater is how much the cinema experience impacts the movie. For instance, horror movies are always better in the theater, and so are action movies. Actually, I believe all movies are better in the theater, but those two genres lose the most when converted to other formats.

The second question I have is about beef. In Korea, the most important political debate for the past month has been over the importing of American beef. To put it simply, they are pissed about it. Koreans are more angry at their president for wanting to bring American beef into the country than we were when our President started a war in Iraq until false pretenses. It confuses the hell out of me, because the problem that they have is not the danger to Korean cow farmers or national pride, but instead it's health, specifically, the danger of mad cow diasese.

So the question is somewhat loaded. Has anyone ever, ever thought about American beef as being dangerous? This is the first I've heard about it.
"Seven Dead in Tokyo Knife Attack - I don't care what you say, that means "ninja" in my book.

Best. Title. Ever. - I think I want to give this name to my firstborn child. They probably meant to use the word "Gigantic" though.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Blog News

Alright, now that I'm starting to get the hang of my new job and new surroundings, I have a better idea on when I'll be able to get to a computer and update this blog. So from now on, look for updates on Monday morning, Thursday morning, and Friday morning.

Also, I just wanted everyone to be aware that you don't need an account or an email address or anything to leave a comment.

Why Emails Suck Balls -- A Thoughtful Introspective, by Kevin Warzala

Let me give you several reasons why letter-writing is a very worthwhile practice. Not enough people are writing letters, and this saddens and angers me, possibly to the point of rebellion. We will march under flags stained with the blood of email-users and cell-phone-talkers-slash-whores, yielding a new, harmonious era of paper and ink.

First, letters are nothing but masturbation, and everybody loves masturbation. The letter has someone else's name on it, and eventually it will be put into an envelope with someone else's address on it, but that's it. Every letter on every page is all about you. You, you, you. When writing a letter, you pick exactly what you want to talk about it. Sure, there might be questions about the other person written on the page, but they're the questions that YOU choose. It's like you're alone in a dark room, with a picture of yourself, yelling your own name. When you're done, you mail the finished product to someone else. It's a beautiful thing.

Second, it is one of the best ways to sort out your own thoughts. We speak our words so haphazardly, without thought, because we know we can get away with it. You can say something and then take it back, or pretend like you didn't even say it, or twist your own words to change the meaning. The sad thing is, those things aren't even necessary most of the time, because the person you were talking to either wasn't listening or was just waiting to speak themselves, instead of actually listening to you.

But not with letters. Every sentence, word, letter, dipthong, puncuation mark and coffee stain are right there, black + white, etc. Even if we make a mistake, we can't completely erase it, unless the paper gets set on fire or something. I guess you could pee on it. But that would only work if you had acidic pee. I wonder if xenomorphs have acidy pee. I bet they do.

Anyway, because of all this, letters are under intense scrutiny. If there is one thing we love, it's being vain, and if there's one thing we hate, it's being under scrutiny. I think this is a big reason why people don't write letters; Putting letters on the page is an open invitation to be judged. But scrutiny is good, because it forces us to work harder and better. Think of how much more work you would accomplish if your boss were directly over your shoulder for eight hours a day.

Before you put a word onto paper, you have to be goddamn sure that it's the word you want to use, because it will be there for a long time, and people will criticize the hell out of it. Before you can know what word you want to use, you have to know how you feel. Do you want to say "I miss you" or do you want to say "I'm thinking about you". Anyone whose ever had an insecure significant other (Yo.) can tell you that there is a big difference between the two. Most people don't know the difference for themselves whether they miss someone or if they're thinking about them; Letter-writing is the gun to their head that forces a decision.

And of course, these once carelessly used words carry much more weight, now that they are committed to the paper. It's like you woke up one morning and all the pennies in your pocket were suddenly 100 dollar bills.

And third, after converting those pennies into inky Benjamins, your mind becomes much more clear than it did before. It's like you just talked out loud, to yourself, but in a completely sane kinda way. The things that were on your mind two pages ago are no longer there. They're in the ripped-out pages of a notebook and can't bother you again, leaving you free to utilize your newfound intellectual and emotional clarity.

After writing all this, my mind is much more clear. I believe I will spend my time researching the chemical composition of monster urine.