Saturday, December 31, 2005

There's never enough

Music Music Everywhere

God-DAMN I love Music!!

I've been having the best night sitting here, drinking beer with Ian, and downloading and listening to music. It's been FABULOUS! It's been an eclectic music night to say the least. Here's a sample:

1. The Bay City Rollers - Be My Baby
2. Blue Oyster Cult - Hot Rails To Hell
3. Dream Theater - 6:00
4. The Beatles - Help!
5. AC/DC - Rock'n'Roll Damnation
6. Alice Cooper - Today Mueller
7. Magadog - Pipeline
8. Blondie - Dreaming
9. Southern Culture on the Skids - Carve That Possum
10. Danny Gatton - Land of Make Belive/Tequila
11. The Pogues - Bright Lights
12. Johnny Cash - A Boy Named Sue
13. The Danny Morris Band - Pills (Rock'n'Roll Nurse)
14. Nickelback - Yankin Out My Heart
15. The Porkers - Swingin' Nut
16. Forgotten Rebels - FMD
17. Billie Holiday - A Foggy Day
18. Heart - Barracuda
19. Foo Fighters - My Poor Brain
20. The Porkers - Buyer-Logical
21. The Allman Brothers Band - Change My Way of Living
22. Frank Zappa - King Kong
23. Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford, Howe - Themes - I) Sound, II) Second Attention, III) Soul Warrior
24. Freeze - Loading Zone
25. Spring Heeled Jack - Electric
26. Blondie - 11:59
27. James Brown - Hot Pants
28. Goo Goo Dolls - Another Second Time Around
29. The Nomads ft. Kissettes - I Remember You
30. Paul Kelly - Before Too Long

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Another hated team, another MUST win game!

It's been crunch time for my beloved Redskins for the past four weeks. How did they respond? They've gone 4-0; beating two mediocre teams in mediocre fashion (Rams and Cardinals) and two playoff teams convincingly (Cowboys and Giants). If those past four weeks were crunch time, they have nothing on this week. The Redskins win, they go to the playoffs. The Redskins lose, they go home. Simple as that.

This week it's the Eagles in Philly. The Eagles have self-destructed this year and are so far out of the playoffs it's ridiculous. However, as any sports fan can attest, Philly is the roughest, nastiest, most belligerent place to play (I don't care which sport you're talking about. I bet there are fights at senior night shuffleboard games in Philly). Philly fans, to put it in the nicest possible way, are brutal (They once booed Santa Claus during a Christmas Day game). There is also the fact that the Eagles have OWNED the Skins in Philly for something like 10 years. I fully expect the Eagles to come out gunning for the Redskins. The chance to keep a hated rival out of the playoffs when you yourself aren't going has to be a motivating idea.

If the Skins win, finishing the season with five straight victories, there's nothing they can't do. It's do or die!


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The year sputters to an end.

Tomorrow I start the slow meandering transition from vacation to work. It being a slow transition is a good thing. The main reason for this is that I have the opportunity to work myself back into a proper sleep schedule without any undo trauma. It's much easier to give up the habit of falling in bed at dawn and falling out of bed at 2 or 3 pm when you have a three or four days to work it out.

I'll actually be pretty happy to get back to work. For one, it gives something to do. I love Korea, but staying here for vacation is boring as hell. Maybe it's simply that I'm boring as hell. Who knows? Anyway, a little structure will be good. Plus, I do enjoy my job.

I was watching a movie tonight, Lord of War, which, while being a pretty good flick in it's own right, is a fairly cynical take on the world at large. It did make me think about a few things, though.

Not that long ago, maybe 10 years or so, I was a socially active person. I got out and volunteered for things. I drove a food van delivering food to the homeless living on the streets for a year. I volunteered at the DC Rape Crisis Center and the House of Ruth. I joined marches for issues I felt strongly about: the death penalty, a woman's right to choose, AIDS, and domestic violence. I did those things not because I was looking for kudos from people but because it felt right.

Now, well, I do nothing. I'm sure that a bunch of the folks that read this blog will have a multitude of ideas for how I could get back in the game. It's not what I'm looking for. In order to be effective at those kinds of things, you have to feel strongly about what you're doing. I don't feel strongly about anything these days (unless you consider the Washington Redskins an issue, but that just proves my point). I won't start a volunteer thing with a half-assed attitude simply because I know myself too well. I'll think it's a good idea and then crap out halfway through. That's not fair to anyone. I guess the thing I want to know is how this change came about. That, I suppose, is something that I'll just have to figure out for myself.

Monday, December 19, 2005


The Redskins stomped, whupped, annihilated, destroyed, crushed, buried, beat down and left for dead the Dallas Cowboys today 35-7!! It's a beautiful day!!! For the first time in 11 years, the Redskins swept the division series against the hated Cowgirls and did it in such convincing fashion as to make it simply ridiculous. This game was huge! It puts the Skins square in the wildcard hunt with another monster game next week against another division rival: the New York Giants. Hallelujah!!!



Sunday, December 18, 2005

Grade Curves Suck!

There is one aspect of my job that I hate: grading with a curve. At CNU, any Freshman English teacher with a class numbering more than 14 students is required to grade the students on a curve. This, of course, means that only a certain number of students can get an "A"; a certain number of students can get a "B"; the rest have to get a "C' or less. This sucks.

I received an email from a student who had taken my class before and failed. This time around she worked extremely hard and finished with a 93% grade out of 100. Anywhere else in the world that's an "A". Not here. Because I had only 19 students in the class, I was allowed to give only 5 of them an "A". This poor girl is one of several "curve victims" this semester. She is getting a "B+", but she deserves better.

There are a number of things that bother me about the grade curve here. First, is the fact that it seems that our department is the only one that has to use the curve (The expats that teach the English majors don't have to use the curve, nor do the other major departments). The second reason is that the curve is simply unfair.

Some of my freshmen classes fit neatly into the curve because there are enough students that don't study or participate, and therefore have grades that suffer. However, some classes just rock. They are a teachers wet dream. All the students attend regularly, they are active in class and try hard. Those are fun classes to teach. The grade curve means that students who really put an effort into the class are not guaranteed the grade that they worked for.

I wrote in an earlier post about students who try to skate by and then expect a good grade. I don't help the apathetic. I demand students participate in my class. If a student asks a question (you have no idea how hard it is to get Korean students to speak out in class), they are going to get a better grade because they participated. They showed a certain degree of confidence. Here in Korea, confidence is at a premium. Those students that show initiative and a willingness to go against cultural norms deserve to be awarded.

My student, An Da Youn, deserves an "A" simply based on her improvement from last semester. She worked her ass off this semester. She gets screwed because there were 5 students who were as active but had better English skills than she did. Participation is the key to doing well in my class. You have to make an effort or you're going to fail. GPA is vitally important in Korea. An Da Youn deserves an "A". She might get screwed academically because I had to give her a "B". The curve fucks everything up. It's simply unfair.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

What the FUCK?!?

Hypothetical: You and your friend go out drinking. You get to the point where your friend is so shitfaced he/she has to go home. You leave the bar, only to find that it's snowing and things are slippery. Suddenly, your friend slips and does a headplant on the road. He/she loses consciousness and is bleeding profusely from his/her head.

What do you do?

Tonight: I went out to Santa's tonight with the express purpose of getting drunk. I figured I'd be out late, but, while I did get a good buzz on, I found that I just wasn't into the scene that was going on there. I paid my tab and walked out deciding that some food might be a good option.

I walked down the street to my favorite dakgochi stand (this place has chicken on a stick that is sooo spicy your head would explode). As I'm heading for the tent, I noticed two girls. One was laying on the street, the other telling her to get up. This is not such an unuasual thing in Kung-dong. It's quite common to see Koreans yelling at their drunk ass friends, who are so smashed they can't stand, and then picking them up and carrying them off. So, intially I didn't think anything of it.

I got my food and headed back towards the cab stand, so I could go home. I came across the girl and her friend in the same place; only now there was a guy holding the girl who was on the ground, but not picking her up. It's at this point that I noticed the puddles of blood on the ground. The unconcious girl's friend was standing there doing fuck all. The guy was holding the unconscious girl and getting bloody but not doing anything. I walked around to take a better look at the girl laying on the ground (take into account that this is about 10-15 minutes after I passed them the first time). I looked at them both, probably in shock, and said, "This girl needs a hospital!" THAT was when the girl's friend called for an ambulance.

The girl's friend was pretty hysterical, so I figured I'll run down to the local police station and get some help. It's a 5 minute walk. I got to the police station, and there were two cops just pulling out of the station. I knocked on the window of their car and, in broken Korean and English, tried to explain that there is a hurt girl on the street. The cops smiled and said, "Arrayo, arrayo", which means we know. I thought to myself, "Cool. They're going to go help." The cops pulled out of the station parking lot and drove off in the opposite fucking direction!

I headed back down the street and found that an ambulance was coming and people had moved the girl off the road (thinking that moving her was not such a great idea). The ambulance got there and the friends loaded the girl into the vehical (I've been in a Korean ambulance with a hurt friend, and it's down right scary, but that's a story for another time).

I've seen some pretty fucked up shit in my life; things both stupid and tragic. This was one of those things that a little fucking common sense would have made things much better. Maybe this kind of thing happens everywhere. People in a crisis not reacting to the situation. I only hope the poor girl is OK.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What The Hell Are They Thinking Dept. #425

The semester is over, the grades are posted, and the calls from students have started. Today I received the first in what will probably be several calls from a student who was unhappy with the fact that I gave him an "F" in my class. Why did he fail? HE NEVER ONCE CAME TO MY FUCKING CLASS!!!! I haven't any idea what this guy even looks like! Yet, this pillar of educational brilliance still expects me to give him a passing grade. His problem is, if I don't pass him, he can't graduate. Guess he should've thought about that.

This is a surprisingly common phenomenon here in Korea: university seniors who get jobs halfway through their final year, never come to class, never make an attempt to contact the teacher, and yet expect not only to pass, but TO GET A GOOD GRADE! This guy (who had his friend call me, by the way) wanted me to give him a "B". HAH! My friend Ian had one of his students show up at the office last week with the assitant director of the English Dept. AND his mother in an effort to get his grade changed. Well, I've pretty much had enough. I'm being a hard ass this semester. You want a good grade? You have to graduate? You should have come to fucking class or talked to me at the beginning of the semester.

I had a student this semester who got a job and couldn't come to class. However, he took the reasonable approach. He came to me two weeks into the semester, explained his situation, and ASKED ME WHAT HE COULD DO TO PASS THE CLASS! I told him to send me an email every week telling me about his job or how his week went. He did it, and he's getting a "C". Seems to me to be a pretty simple process. Another of my students got a job that he had to start a week before the final exam. What did he do? He asked me if he and his group could take their final a week early. I had absolutely no problem with that. It shows initiative.

Most of the teachers are pretty flexible about this, but the student has to be pro-active and responsible for his/her own actions. You can't come to me a week after the semester ends and beg for a grade. I'm not going to help. Maybe that sounds harsh, but frankly, I'm sick of this shit.

{Hah! I just got a call from the English Dept. I guess the guy went over there to plead his case.}

I told the English Dept. that I'm unwilling to change the grade. What will happen now? The English Dept. will probably go into the system and change the grade so that the guy passes. I'll check later. If it's changed, the folks at the English Dept. are going to get a visit they're not going to like. CNU needs to stop molly-coddling these kids. This guy made his bed, now it's time to lay in it.


Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys

Where: Fed-Ex Field, Washington, D.C.

When: Sunday, Dec. 18, 4:15 pm EST

What it means: I have to get up at 6 am on Monday.

For the first time in God knows how long, the Redskins are playing a meaningful game in December. Add to that the fact that this upcoming game is an absolute must win for the relatively mediocre 7-6 Redskins. In addition, we're playing the hated Cowboys. This is a time for Redskin fans the world over to start collectively wringing their hands and biting their nails. To put things in perspective, the Redskins must win their last three games, all against tough division opponents: Dallas, NY Giants, and the Eagles, if they want any hope of making the playoffs. If the Skins lose to Dallas, kiss the season goodbye.

The Redskins beat the Cowboys earlier this year in a stunning 4th quarter comeback in Dallas (the first time the Skins have won in Dallas in the past 500 years give or take). That victory sent Skins fans, myself included, into spasms of joy and gave rise to typical "We're going to the Superbowl" euphoria. The Skins, in a fashion that has become all too familiar in the past 14 or so years, quickly squashed the enthusiasm by playing just well enough to lose in subsequent games; snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in several games they were squarely in control of going into the 4th quarter. While I am cautiously optimistic of the Redskins chances to pull out another win at home over the Cowboys, Mark Brunell's tendency to throw the ball to members of the opposing team (three times last weak against a really bad Arizona defense) has me a bit worried.

So, I'll spend the next few days worrying, drinking, and sporting Redskins gear in a vain attempt to influence the Gods.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Make a Jazz Noise Here

It's Saturday, day 2 of my vacation. As seems to be the norm for a Saturday, I'm very hungover. So I present you with a mix to soothe the savage soul.

1. New York Ska Jazz Ensemble - Bob Barker
2. Eastern Standard Time - Tick Tock
3. Joe Pass - Daquilo Que Eu Sei
4. Miles Davis - Sanctuary
5. Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygene 2
6. Thelonious Monk - Body & Soul
7. Kitaro - Straight Away To Orion
8. Enigma - Modern Crusaders
9. Miles Davis - Change It
10. The Beastie Boys - Groove Holmes
11. New York Ska Jazz Ensemble - More Whiskey
12. John Coltrane - Blue Train
13. Oscar Peterson - A Wonderful Guy
14. Squirrel Nut Zippers - Got My Own Thing Now
15. Modern Jazz Quartet - Tears From The Children
16. Billie Holiday - Stormy Blues
17. Wes Montgomery - People
18. Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - Stompin' At The Savoy
19. Dave Brubeck - Rotterdamn Blues
20. Duke Ellington & Count Basie - Segue In C
21. Ray Brown Trio w/ Gene Harris - Teach Me Tonight
22. John Coltrane - Giant Steps
23. Gerry Mulligan - Go Home
24. Oscar Peterson - Reunion Blues
25. Andre Previn, Joe Pass & Ray Brown - I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good
26. Wes Montgomery - Satin Doll
27. Duke Ellington & Count Basie - Jumpin' at the Woodside
28. Miles Davis - Moon Dreams
29. Modern Jazz Quartet - Bluesology
30. Pat Metheny - Turnaround

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hindsight and a Much Clearer Head

Reading the posts that I put up last night (I vaguely recall writing them before I fell asleep in my computer chair) leads me to a couple of questions:

1. Is it time to up my meds?

2. If you saw a leather-clad, snow covered guy sporting a maniacal grin and singing at the top of his lungs at 3am in a snow storm, would you want to have a snowball fight with him?

I forgot to add...

I'm gonna punch holes in things. I'm drunk off my ass..can't find a decent snowball fight... and pretty much so pissed that it's a great fucking effort not to throw some heavy object through a window. Maybe I just need a another beer. What I'll give y'all is a drunken pissed off mix:

New Model Army - Nothing Touches
Jethro Tull - Bungle in the Jungle
Bad Religion - All Fantastic Images
John Mellencamp - Deep Blue Heart
MDC - Kill The Light
Iron Maiden - The Thin Line Between Love and Hate
Paul Desmond & Gerry Mulligan - Stnad Still
Type O Negative - I Don't Wanna Be Me
Southern Culture on the Skids - Chicken Shit Farmer
Frank Zappa - The Idiot Bastard Son
Savatage - Back to a Reason
ZZ Top - Nasty Dogs and Funky Kids
Neil Young - Don't Let It Bring You Down
Planet P - Only You and Me
Neil Young - Wrecking Ball
Tenderloin - Time Bomb
Green Day - My Generation
Danny Gatton - Quiet Village
Regatta 69 - Virtual Brain Boy

What's it worth?


Can't find a fucking snowball fight!

In my search this evening for a snowball fight (yes, it snowed in Korea) I managed to freakout some Koreans, break my fucking camera, and finally find a group of Chinese students who were willing to enjoy snow as it is meant to be enjoyed. I attacked them all. At least the Chinese fuckers were game. 1 against 15 seemed to be a fair fight.

The best thing was that I got one guy to stand up and duel. A snowballs at 5 paces. It was fun.

I love snow, I love snowball fights (they're harmless), and it's fun fucking with folks.