Daehan Minguk

It’s about an hour and forty-five minutes before the World Cup match between America and Korea begins in Daegu.
The Korea Herald is reporting that about 150,000 Red Devils (supporters of the Korean team) are expected in the Gwanghwamun area of Seoul, near the US embassy.

“The police are worried that citizens might throw things into the embassy or set the US flag on fire if Korea loses to the United States or if one of the US players angers Korean supporters by taking a so-called ‘Hollywood action’ or exaggerated gesture, similar to the incident involving US speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno during the 2002 Winter Olympics.”

So let that be a warning to you, you Imperialist Yankee Footballers : no exaggerated gesures, or we’re gonna trash your embassy!


This is my work, my words, the years slamming the lines down hard as concrete hitting the pillow. After all the books, the chapbooks, the magazines…this is where I want the words to be.
Free. Accessible. In front of your face.
Rather than the lag time of a book – which is always a couple years – my stuff will be here within hours of being written. It’s “Smash Or Trash.”
This is the new small magazine, the new small press – your eyes will make it happen or disappear.
Oh yeah. I like that.
There is more on this site than any two of my books. I like the immediacy – you want it, you got it. Or. One click & you’re out of my world.
But I’d rather you hang on.
Fill up an ashtray.”

I like this.

Slicin' up eyeballs

Got me a movie
I want you to know
Slicing up eyeballs
I want you to know
Girlie so groovy
I want you to know
Don’t know about you
But I am un chien Andalusia
I am un chien Andalusia
Wanna grow
Up to be
Be a debaser

via bottomdwelling, Mena Trott relives Doolittle a song at a time.
Edit : Also from the same fine iNtarwEb publication, “What Are You, Drunk?”

The study is filled with similar facts, usually highlighted with scary italics like the ones found on Ed Wood movie posters: ‘Frequent binge drinkers were 10 times more likely than non-binge drinkers to have driven after drinking alcohol.’ Okay, but I’d also bet that frequent binge drinkers were at least 100 times more likely to tell you they love you. Man.

I Sing The Body Electric

While reading the recent posts from Mike Golby about the struggles with alcoholism buffeting his family, as well as being struck both by the bravery of his candor and the lucidity of his prose and wishing there were something I could do to help him in his dark times, I got to thinking about my own long and deeply intimate relationship with the booze, about the times I’ve been called an alcoholic, by myself and others over the years. This is hopelessly self-indulgent and journally. I thought I’d share, because that’s what it’s all about, right? I beg your forgiveness. Blame Mike for starting me on this train of thought.

Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but it only lasted a couple of days?
Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking?
Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in hope that you wouldn’t get drunk?
Have you had to have an eye-opener upon awakening during the past year?
Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?
Do you need a drink to get started, or to stop shaking?
Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?
Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
Do you ever try to get “extra” drinks at a party because you do not get enough?
Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking anytime you want to, but you don’t stop?
Do you have “blackouts”?
Have you ever felt your life would be better if you didn’t drink?

I had an uncle Ron, who wasn’t really my uncle, but was the husband of the woman who took care of me when I was an infant, while my mother worked. About him (and about most of my childhood, if truth be told) I recall little but mental snapshots, with thick white borders and faded-to-sepia colours. In my mind, he has a perpetual 5-o’clock shadow, and wears the sort of white, sleeveless t-shirt with suspenders over the top in the hot weather that is iconic of the home-from-the-office man of the first two-thirds of the last century. If my memory serves, he had ruined his stomach with rotgut whiskey, and had taken to drinking his rye with milk. He was the first and only person I’ve known who did this. He was a kind man.
I recall one evening, my parents were sitting with Ron and Nina and their linoleum-topped kitchen table, drinking, smoking. It must have been 1969, or 1970, or somewhere around there. I was about 5 years old. Everyone would have been about 10 years younger than I am now, but they seemed ancient, Easter-Island monolith old, to me. I was tear-assing around the place, as usual. Ron stopped me up on one of my laps past the table, and I jumped up on his lap. Curious about the pungent smells wafting around, what the small city of bottles on the table meant, and why everyone seemed so animated and good-natured, I pointed and asked. Some meeting of eyes must have happened over my head, because to the chuckles of the assembled, Ron poured out about a third of a water glass of rye and handed it to me.
One of the few times I've ever puked blood was after a session with Captain Morgan. Scary, scary stuff.
I took the glass from him, drank it down in about 4 swallows, then hooted in rough-throated glee at the gobsmacked faces around. I remember running around some more, less and less steadily, giggling at the gravitational anomalies that had suddenly manifested themselves, before settling myself cross-legged on the floor in front of their big console TV in the den, and slowly toppling over backward as the Flintstones flintstoned and the lights went out.
I suppose, if one was to pick the very beginning of a love affair, the instant at which your eyes meet and those mental tentacles spring out and grapple greedily and invisibly with the object of your desire, well, that’d be it.
A decade later, I was a pimply teenager in a tiny town in the deepest northern interior of British Columbia, a town where the only real option for entertainment was booze. I was 15 or 16, and I’d finished a 26’er of rye with a couple of my buddies in the trailer out back of Leon’s house. For some reason, we felt it necessary to make the trek to Brian’s house, a hundred metres or so up the alley. And over the fence. I recall with a seraphic clarity — though it was two decades ago and I was piss drunk — that endless moment of teetering atop the man-high wooden fence behind Brian’s house, then falling like a rock and landing on my head. The moment of impact was a revelation. It didn’t hurt, not a bit. I was so astonished by this fact, by the sheer wonder of it, that I sucked in the summer night air like it was rocket fuel, jumped up with mud on my face and laughed and danced and whooped like a monkey.
My illness and pain the next day was my introduction to the wages of the drink.
It was a good while after that before I had my first real night out with the boys and, guilty but filled with the wonder of boozy camaraderie at the end of it, hauled my ass into my parents’ kitchen by the watery light of a northern BC dawn.
It seems like I’ve always been a drinker. By the time I was finishing high school, and had headed off to Vancouver for university, I had carved out an identity for myself, one that I came, I see now, from the marriage of a desire to stand out from the sea of small-town boors, to excel, to exploit the Big Fucking Brain I’d been gifted with and for which I’d been so lavishly praised, and the overwhelming desire to belong, to Be A Fun Guy, which seemed easy, and to Get Chicks, which seemed utterly impossible. In that tiny little town, the possibility of finding a high-school social milieu not intimately tied to the consumption of alcohol and the concomitant possibility of finding yourself a young lady with which to frolic pastorally and learn the ways of love, was, if not precisely zero, so miniscule as to be invisible. Which is to say: I didn’t get laid much, in those early days.
It turned out that my ‘Uncle Ron Experience’ as a child had been prophetic, and that I was capable, through sheer animal robustness if not sheer force of will, of swilling oceanic quantities of liquor, and never ever devolving into headbutting, gutter-puking beast mode. At worst, go-home-and-sleep-mode, but always: under my own power.
I was painfully shy as a teenager, until I found the drink. After the fencetop revelation, I consciously worked the booze and its magical inhibition-loosening properties, and zeroed in on people in a way I never had before. I was hungry, jesus I was ravenous for stories, for the meat of life. In a complete turnaround from my reticence to ever ask any questions of anyone, I would quiz people, girls mostly, about the most intimate details of their lives, and they would, without fail, tell me all. By the time I was in my early twenties, I’d heard so many personal tales of rape and molestation, of broken homes and familial violence, of harrowing pain and loss, and yes, of the horrors of alcoholism, that I sometimes felt like my eyes must glow in the dark. Times I felt guilty were few, because most of the people who spilled their stories to me eventually became intimate friends, and told me, at the gravel pit or the graveyard, how relieved they’d been to unload their burdens.
There’s probably some sort of unpleasant pop-psychology term for the way I behaved back then, but it filled the hollow at the center of my soul with stories, and it seemed to help many people who later became friends or lovers to get over childhood traumas of their own. Booze was the tool I used to grant me the unselfconsciousness to get into people’s heads, and let them into mine. I loved the stuff.
The drunk-on-life’s-joy, clever-though-smashed, writerly-but-boisterous persona worked well for me. I was popular, well liked, and socially successful. I had a group of close friends who knew me intimately, and trusted me implicitly, as I did them. I was reading voraciously all the while, and some of my favorites recommended to me a controlled madness that appealed, irresistably.
These last couple of years of teenagerhood and first few years of university saw the first few times it was suggested that I was an alcoholic, though. I would, like any boozy university student, go on binges. Mine, being as closely married to the bottle as I was, were perhaps a little longer or more intense than most others. It was still a competition to me – I was King Boozer, while also determined to get the best marks in the hardest field, to be the best lover, the wildest madman, and write the best damn stories too. I wasn’t entirely successful, but it was enough. I did some astonishingly silly things while drunk: ledge-walking on the 17th floor, driving while blind, the usual array of bad judgement calls that reformed boozers trot out to show why they eventually stopped.
Now, see this is the point in most people’s Tales of Booze where it all goes to shit, and they begin to outline their inexorable descent into alco-hell. I’m sorry to disappoint, but this didn’t happen to me.
I thought long and hard about those first few accusations of alcoholism, coming as they did from friends, often after my more spectacular examples of bad judgement. Mostly female friends, for whatever reason. But I just couldn’t see it, to be honest. (‘The alcoholic can never see it’, came the standard rejoinders…) My drinking clearly wasn’t affecting my studies. (‘You just think it has no effect’, sang the chorus) I did do some stupid stuff sometimes, but life without some danger was not worth it, I reckoned, all Hemingwayesque. (‘You’re rationalizing your dangerous lapses in judgement’, tra-la-la) I sometimes went for weeks without a drink, and didn’t miss it at all. I loved being drunk, not shambolically, mindlessly drunk but playfully, lightheartedly drunk. But if I were asked to choose, and I was, a few times, I would always say in an instant that I preferred to be sober. A life of constant inebriation would be hellish – a life of constant sobriety less enjoyable, perhaps, but no worse for it.
So I continued on in my boozy ways, graduating university and hitting the road. I’ve been wandering around the planet for more than a decade now, sometimes drinking, sometimes not. There’ve been a few times when I wondered if my drinking was unhealthy, or destructive, and stopped, effortlessly, for a while. Two decades after I started my career as an afficionado of the drink, three decades after my first taste of the stuff, I am happy, healthy, wiser, and if not especially wealthy, quite comfortable. Of the pure, heart-squeezing joys that I’ve felt in my life, those shivering moments of connection to other souls or to the world itself, many have happened when I was sober. Of the most memorable, ecstatic and monumentally fun moments so far, many have happened while inebriated.
I weave the drunken threads and the sober ones together, and the fabric is all the richer for having both. My life would be infinitely poorer for being drunk all the time, but would be very much impoverished too were I never to taste the sweet madness that the liquor brings.
I beg those of you who have made it down this far not to take what I say as in any way devaluing the stories from Mike and Mark and others about how much the liquor and the craving for it have damaged their lives. I mean no disrespect – just the opposite, in fact. I understand and respect their decisions to attempt to banish it from their lives : I’ve been close enough to the deceptive janus-face of it myself enough times to understand that as much as I feel it’s been a good thing in my life, it can be the Destroyer as well. Hell, it killed my father.
I tell this fragment of the story in part because, as many mature and beautifully-written tales about the horrors of the drink as I see, I see very few paeans to it written by anyone other than drunken frat boys.

Ten Things

skallas seemed downhearted that there wasn’t a link, so I’ve written up Ten Things You Should Never Say To A Korean Girl (if you’re, you know, pursuing her). Note that I have said all of these things to Korean women at one time or another, basically because I am a Big Dummy.
*drumroll please*
#10. Your parents really suck.
#9. I’ve had quite a few girlfriends..
#8. You’re crazy.
#7. Drugs? Well, I’ve tried a few.
#6. Do your friends know about us?
#5. I’d rather be happy and broke than rich and miserable.
#4. Do you like dog meat?
#3. I think I prefer Japan to Korea.
#2. I don’t like children.
#1. Is that a padded bra?
Edit : big white guy has a more serious, but semi-related, story of his experiences here. It’s really nice to hear about the similar-but-different experiences of other waeguk-in/gaijin/gwi-lo once in a while.
Edit the second : Also, Memoirs of an Anti-Geisha.

To Live Forever

An interesting recent discussion at MeFi. The last few days have been good, there. My favorite comment from the thread, courtesy of vacapinta :

Each of us is an ever-changing chorus of voices, a small tribe of motivations, trying to advance their own desires. Nominally, one of those voices is in control but sometimes overthrows can occur as when we lapse into a cult or fall in love. A schizophrenic is not someone with “extra” voices”, it is someone whose voices have lapsed into anarchy.
I also dont believe that this “self” can be so easily transcribed into a simulation. It is not mere pattern (e.g. neurons+connections) but is deeply embedded into its physiological container. Our minds have deep roots in the soil of this reality with its electromagnetic fields and quantum quirkiness. Any computer that can truly create consciousness and not some cheap simulation will have to be as algorithmically complex as the universe itself. This is not bound to happen anytime soon, if ever. When I die, I die. Death is the absence of change.

I and I

Taking a page from the Mighty Mighty Mike Golby (aka the Zimmerman Professor of Music and Poetics), some Dylan I’m listening to tonight :

Been so long since a strange woman has slept in my bed.
Look how sweet she sleeps, how free must be her dreams.
In another lifetime she must have owned the world, or been faithfully wed
To some righteous king who wrote psalms beside moonlit streams.
I and I
In creation where one’s nature neither honors nor forgives.
I and I
One says to the other, no man sees my face and lives.
Think I’ll go out and go for a walk,
Not much happenin’ here, nothin’ ever does.
Besides, if she wakes up now, she’ll just want me to talk
I got nothin’ to say, ‘specially about whatever was.
I and I
In creation where one’s nature neither honors nor forgives.
I and I
One says to the other, no man sees my face and lives.
Took an untrodden path once, where the swift don’t win the race,
It goes to the worthy, who can divide the word of truth.
Took a stranger to teach me, to look into justice’s beautiful face
And to see an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
I and I
In creation where one’s nature neither honors nor forgives.
I and I
One says to the other, no man sees my face and lives.
Outside of two men on a train platform there’s nobody in sight,
They’re waiting for spring to come, smoking down the track.
The world could come to an end tonight, but that’s all right.
She should still be there sleepin’ when I get back.
I and I
In creation where one’s nature neither honors nor forgives.
I and I
One says to the other, no man sees my face and lives.
Noontime, and I’m still pushin’ myself along the road, the darkest part,
Into the narrow lanes, I can’t stumble or stay put.
Someone else is speakin’ with my mouth, but I’m listening only to my heart.
I’ve made shoes for everyone, even you, while I still go barefoot.
I and I
In creation where one’s nature neither honors nor forgives.
I and I
One says to the other, no man sees my face and lives.

This is the first time I’ve ever read the lyrics, and for almost 20 years I’ve thought that it was ‘…justice’s pitiful face…’ Freaky.


I feel bad about disappointing Jonathon and Fishrush with my lack of Worldy Cuppy Updates from ball-kicking ground zero, but I really haven’t come across anything that was sufficiently out there enough for me to report (Me, not journalist be!) in the last couple of days.
Until the Korea-Poland game tonight, which was quite handily won by Korea. It was Korea’s first-ever World Cup win, and so a deeply emotional moment for the million or more middle-aged Korean women who have been instantly and miraculously transformed into rabid soccer fans, and will continue to be so until the Korean team is knocked out of the running, at which time they will spit and turn, with disgust and resignation writ large on their faces, back to their large plastic tubs of kimchi, muttering imprecations about how that foreigner coach Hiddink failed them.
But right now, the fever is up, and there are literally millions of women-of-a-certain-age in this country who would slip ol’ Coach Hiddink the tongue in a split second in an instant if they thought it would help The Team, butter-smell or no butter-smell.
The little bit of Korea-insider intelligence I thought I’d pass on this evening is this : it’s been reported that in the wee wee hours of this morning, outside the hotel at Haeundae Beach in Busan where the Polish team is staying, a large crowd gathered. A large crowd of Korean fans. They proceeded to make a large noise. In order to deliberately deprive the Polish team of their beauty sleep.
I’m not sure if this is standard procedure or not, for the supporters of the home teams in host countries to try to disturb the sleep of competitors in hopes of a small advantage for the home team. I don’t follow this soccer stuff very much.
Congratulations to the Korean team. They looked pretty well-rested out there.

Parse this, if you can

“Some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong. I disagree. Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities.”

A friendly suggestion : How about you take your ‘moral clarity’ and shove it up your ass, you simpleminded sack of sh-t? How’s that for clarity? Might be immoral to use such words, might even be wrong to call the Most Powerful Man In The World a simpleminded sack of sh-t, but I’ve got to call a spade a spade, you know?
I realize of course that overwhelming evidence would indicate that the Resident couldn’t string together a foreign policy more complicated than ‘George not like, George hate, George kill’, and that it would seem that most of the time (‘Do you have blacks there too?’) he’s not even sure whether that’s a horseshoe, a handgrenade or a crucifix he has jammed up his fundament, and further that the words he was reading in the passage quoted above were written by someone else.
Almost certainly that someone is not quite so simpleminded as Our Hero, and painfully aware that simple parables of White Hats and Black Hats will make Georgie clap his hands in glee and stop touching his penis quite so often, frantic as he is to reassure himself that it’s actually there. That speechwriter, whether he believes the words he writes or not, dutifully churns out on demand these slightly-veiled calls for Blood! Murder! (and this year’s top of the monkeykiller hit parade) Vengeance! that get the crowds on their feet.
You hasten the end of us all, and guarantee by raising the stakes the deaths of uncounted thousands, soon or later, when you put words like that in the mouth of the beady-eyed, murderous commander-in-thief, you speechwriting scum. People, simple common f–king people listen to that drivel, and believe it, and take up arms and kill after they hear it. God damn you to hell.
[Excised : A wish for the painful death of the speechwriter in question. I get carried away sometimes.]
Does that make me a bad person? Not to a utilitarian, perhaps.
(Edit : Even the Please Tell Me What To Do, Daddy brigades at MeFi are unimpressed, or silent. Rusty dreams a beautiful, optimistic, doomed dream, though, which is worth hoping for, at least.)

We've been here before

Pravda quotes a US soldier who apparently took part in ground engagements in Eastern Afghanistan :

“We were told there were no friendly forces,” said Guckenheimer, an assistant gunner with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum. “If there was anybody there, they were the enemy. We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them.”

If more mechanical and less evocative, this puts me in mind of the following quote from one of the soldiers who were present at what is being referred to as the ‘Incident at Nogun-Ri’ during the Korean War, which I talked about here a few months ago :

“There was a lieutenant screaming like a madman, fire on everything, kill ’em all,” recalls 7th Cavalry veteran Joe Jackman, “I didn’t know if they were soldiers or what. Kids, there was kids out there, it didn’t matter what it was, eight to 80, blind, crippled or crazy, they shot ’em all.”

Killing civilians : a long, noble and continuing tradition in America, as elsewhere, it would seem.
Edit : The Pravda piece is a mirror of an article from the Ithaca Journal, here.

Beer Consummation

From an MSNBC handwringer about some trailerpark-special TV craptacular called “Beer Games” :

“Glorifying beer drinking is just another example of irresponsible marketing and promotion of beer consummation,” says George A. Hacker, director of the Alcohol Project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C.

You reckon he meant to say that?
From the same article :

If you are kid in a classroom with 10 other children and need the teacher’s attention you raised your hand,” says Prof. Robert Thompson, director for the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University. “But if you are in the classroom with 500 other children you may have to jump up on the table, drop your pants and say a naughty word.”

Does anyone edit these things? Who are these halfwits they’re dredging up for quotes? What the hell is happening out there? Thank crikey I’m not a journalist, say I.


Just as Mark was discovering that I oughta be one of the people in his social network that he doesn’t yet read, I was implementing his LINK tag, in part because I felt a little bad that I mentioned at Phil’s how cool I thought Andy’s linkback thingo was (after Phil in fact mentioned the thing at Mark’s), having forgotten that I also saw that very same thing at Mark’s and thought it was indeed whizbang. Funny how that works.
I’m dizzy.
Big-ass Edit : There are more people than I knew talking about this manufactured serendipity instant feedback stuff that linkbacks or backlinks (or whatever you wish to call them) imply.
deus_x says here, for example :

Referral-driven linkbacks on all pages on my site do this. If you post to your weblog and include a link to me, then I hear about it the first time someone traverses that link. This, to me, is even better than the comment feature. And, as Mark Pilgrim observes, this is better that a single referers page because these linkbacks appear in context. The conversation is built up from links in place and on topic and where the action is.

I won’t go as far as ranking referrer feedback over comments – I’d like to bring comments into the whole picture, bring them up front and center dynamically, when appropriate, and tie them into the linkbacking too. I’d like to see weblogs where the comments threads offer more value to some visitors than the actual posts, while others never hit the comments at all and still derive value (I’m slipping back into my old corporate-speak, sorry) from their visit. Not unlike the way some folks go to Metafilter for the links, some for the convo, but both groups get what they want from the place. I’d like to be able to follow both speakers and topics (based on permission being granted) around blogspace, depending on the mood I was in. I want my MemePop thing. And I want a pony!
As you can tell, I’d like to tie all this in with the half-assed thoughts I’ve been having recently about following conversations in the blogosphere, but I haven’t thought it through yet, really, as is probably clear.
The word that’s bouncing around my brain right now is ‘swarming’, but that’s not right, either. I’m not much attracted to the ‘news aggregator’ take on all of this, but then I haven’t played much with that sort of thing yet. I will, soon.
Cool – I always like new toys to play with.