“george clooney debates zombies”—one of my roommate’s students, when trying to describe the plot of from dusk til dawn. she unknowingly stumbled onto what may be the best movie pitch that will never be made.
i talk, or more accurately, ask questions for a living. right now, im teaching english in south korea; a job that requires little to no training or expertise outside of the ability to carry a conversation moderately well. the goal of these conversations is generally to keep the student talking as much as possible so that i can catch and correct casual grammar and usage errors along the way. certainly there is a skill to doing it effectively, but for the most part its kind of like being on a bad date everyday - the conversation is usually stunted and awkward, so you end up just asking alot of leading questions that are more or less just different versions of, “…and how do you feel about that?” or, ” hhmmm, interesting. how was that?”. if you have any genuine interest in people, however, it can be a gold mine of stories and perspectives, which is why ive taken to the job like i have. however much i might dread those few panicked minutes before a lesson - the ones where i convince myself that somehow this lesson will be different than the 3 or 10 before it, i’ll suddenly stall, and the student and i will be left staring silently at one another, marinating listlessly in the awkwardness (not unlike a few of my dates sans the 4 dollar coffee) - i usually enjoy most of the students and what they have to say.
the only problem is that since i basically spend 8 hours a day mentally mapping and anticipating conversation, ive taken a horribly analytic approach to it. now, even when im having the most casual conversation with someone, especially native english speakers, i find myself using the same techniques that i do in my classes. this has freaked me out in a number of ways, not the least of which is the fact that im now not sure how to ignore the flow charts im constantly making in my head and just relax when im talking to someone. its a very weird feeling. to everyone else, im sure it looks like ive cashed in a good bit of my admittedly paltry english for the dozen or so correct korean phrases i know (putting the verbal exchange rate horribly in favor of korea), but really my mind is just screaming, “what the fuck do i ask next?!?! just keep them talking!!”. its a problem. hopefully, ill be able to strike a balance soon. i dont think it should be a problem; at least i hope not, cause when i move back to the states in a year or so the fact that i can speak english wont quite be the bargaining chip it is right now.
my friend laila told me yesterday that they were having open auditions for beverly hills ninja II yesterday in seoul. and i missed it! it got even worse when i found out that the man filling chris farley’s very particularly sized shoes is none other than michael knight himself - david hasselhoff.
i have 2 projects in the pipeline that i think have some real potential. they are:
1. a reality show that follows around british actor and eternal second fiddle to hugh grant, colin firth. with his patented disarming charm, he bumblingly shows the audience wonders such as his apartment, and maybe that one indian restaurant where he totally ate with julia roberts that one time. the title - planet firth.*
2. this one is pretty simple. a bust of don cheadle made entirely out of cheetohs. the title - don cheetoh.
just when i get to thinking that i have a degree, a decent job, a little bit of intelligence, and maybe a slight handle on this whole maturity thing, i read a bbc online news story about north korea and laugh out loud to myself at the word ‘taepodong’. illusion shattered.
astroland has been closed! fortunately i got to make the trip last fall when i was interning in new york, but its still sad that this place is no more. i say that now because my broken ribs from the cyclone have long since healed.
after having spent a few weeks here, i think ive had a fair sampling of korean food and on the whole, i have to say its incredible and very reasonably priced. theyre a very bacon-heavy culture, as evident by the universal bonding experience that is sam gyup sal (a group of often sweaty people huddle around a table, the centerpiece of which is a gas powered grill. you fry bacon, garlic, onion, gkim chi, and whatever else is brought, dip it into a sesoned salt mixture, wrap it in lettuce, and consume. its exactly as delicious as it sounds). this is often paired with large amounts of soju (a bland rice liquor whose alcohol percentage, around 19, fails to register, and it does so with a punch, until you actually stand up from the table). its a great group dinner choice because it will cost you 10 bucks, but you get a full meal, alot of booze, and early onset heart disease.
one of my more consistent, and definitely most shameful stops of late has been a place up the street from me called mr.wow. mr. wow consists of a closet-sized restaurant and accompanying street cart that shell out the most delicious sausage you will ever taste. i would describe it as a hot dog but that doesnt begin to describe the magic they put on that bun. it has the perfect amount of spice that, when coupled with the strange korean coleslaw and mystery sauce they slather on the bun, just works. a beer with any flavor could easily quell the heat of the sausage, but since all korean beer is the color (and strength) of welch’s white grape juice, the flavor of the sausage sticks around just long enough. the only problem is the name. my roommate drew and i feel that mr just doesnt do this place justice. so we are proposing possible name changes; ones that reflect the genius and respect this place deserves. the top contenders thus far are: prof. wow, admiral wow, secretary of the interior wow, and (my personal favorite) poet laureate wow. lemme know what you think.
on a side note, on saturday night drew and i finally caved to the ‘crazy homemade liquor guy’. let me explain. my neighborhood (sinchon) is in between 3 universities (honggik, yonsei, and ewha women’s) and as such, has a pretty vibrant nightlife. one weekend staple of sinchon is a middle aged guy teetering down the street behind a giant flat cart. balancing on top of this cart are a few dozen bottles of liquor he makes himself; a milky, chalky concoction that resembles a glass of water a forgetful grandparent mixed a little too much metamucil into, then left overnight. it has a certain familiar ‘old sock’ sort of aroma and is a pretty unique experience. anyways, he especially loves americans and will hound you all the way down the street if you dont at least drink a glass with him (that glass will run you just under a dollar). he sold us three big bottles for 5 bucks and as of press time, we’ve made it through about half of one. i wonder if that crap has an expiration date.
alright thats my food update for now. hopefully ill supplement these descriptions with a few pictures/videos in the coming weeks. stay up player.
a mispronunciation of scintilating by a korean english-language student which was coopted by a group of snarky english teachers (otherwise known as me and my coworkers). when trying to explain the joke to some of the native korean teachers, chris ( a generously proportioned hilarious australian korean guy) self applied this word and like a light bulb, no more explanation was needed. as chris always says (in his surprisingly proper queen’s english), ‘its all about the money and respect’.
im pretty sure that lindsay, meg, and winona are the only ones reading this who will care (or at least understand why im posting this) but i had cuttlefish for dinner tonight. and it was fucking delicious.