“It’s been three months since I’ve had an orange”

I have a strange fascination with lives lived in extreme environmental situations — astronauts, submarines, and Antarctica.

In my defense, one of the greatest horror films of all time, inspired by one of the greatest horror stories of all time, is set in that cold, icy place.

Anyhow, this piece on what it’s like to be the head chef in Antartica’s Concordia Station is great:

“While [Chef] Ficara didn’t really expect to end up in the Concordia Kitchen, he turned out to be the perfect fit for the job given his diverse culinary repertoire. The chefs chosen by the PNRA must demonstrate not only proficiency as cooks, but also a robust knowledge of international culinary practices so that they can cater to the tastes of the 13-person Concordia winter crew, who hail from England, Switzerland, France, and Italy.

The winter-over crew at Concordia is living in near total isolation, their contact with the outside world limited to digital interactions during the eight months of the year when Antarctica is so cold that jet fuel turns to gel, prohibiting any visitors from reaching the base. In these isolated conditions, food takes on a special importance for everyone at the base. While the crew may be landlocked until November, Ficara nonetheless manages to allow his colleagues to return to their homes on a nightly basis, riding on aromas of Yorkshire pudding, foie gras, or chicken parmigiana.

In addition to trying to cater to the local tastes of the various crew members, Ficara also arranges for themed nights each Saturday, occasions for which he prepares some of his most lavish meals.”

This is palpable:

““Maybe you’d be surprised, but when we receive fresh vegetables, the most amazing way to eat them is in the natural way, to just take a tomato and bite into it,’ said Ficara, eliciting groans from his colleagues as they envision just how nice it will be to see fresh fruits and vegetables again in November.”

This makes being body-snatched by an Elder Thing just about worth it.

Posted in Books, Food, Mighty Cthulu, Places, Travel | Leave a comment

Your Ralph Nader Bumper Sticker Won’t Get You Into Heaven

Is it crappy of me to constantly remind people that not voting for Hillary next year is giving us the potential risk of Supreme Court Justice Ted Cruz?

Yes.  Yes it is.  It’s a shame that the “librul” choice is for a problematic candidate who 25 years ago would be considered center-right, if not ultra-right on national security.

But, um, just a reminder — Koch-annointed ultra-douche President Scott Walker nominates Ted Cruz for the Supreme Court around 2019 or so.

Good times.

Posted in America, Politics | 1 Comment

Live To Work

Another day, and another article on why South Korea is demographically screwed due to the lowest birth rate among 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  The main problem?  Korea’s workaholic culture and businesses who refuse to adopt a kinder system.  An interview with the OECD researcher who worked on the report:

How can we implement that system in Korea?

South Korea has the world’s longest working hours, which means that children must stay at day care centers for more than 10 hours. Simply expanding child care facilities won’t resolve the problem in this situation. Korea’s policies must be more sophisticated so that the child care system and parents’ working conditions can complement each other.

France’s birth rate increased because the government provided more family allowances. Can we use the French system as a benchmark?

France focused on a baby bonus, but it’s different in Korea. In Korea, private education expenses – which simply don’t exist in other member countries in the OECD – largely affect the birth rate.

What do you suggest for South Korea?

The labor market must change. And it’s important for business managers to recognize that and attempt to change the situation. They also need to provide paternity leave. Allowing only women parental leave stigmatizes investment in female workers. If men use paternity leave, it will reduce discrimination against female employment and balance out work and family life.”

This is exactly the same conversation that was going on when I moved to South Korea in 2008.  Which is to say, top-down government polices aren’t going to work if actual companies, big and small, won’t meet them half-way when it comes to a work culture that will punish you for actually wanting to spend more free time with your family.

Also, “private education expenses.”  Or, hagwon.

Posted in Korea, Kultur, Politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

“I’m Going To Hit These Motherfuckers”

Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No

I swear to the FSM that I posted this before, but it’s just as well I post it again — the story — nay, the legend — of Dock Ellis pitching a no hitter blasted out of his mind on acid back in 1970.

Anyhow, Deadspin has an excerpt from a book I really need to track down called Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball.  It is, of course, predictably amazeballs:

“‘Spring training had just begun, and I say, “You are scared of Cincinnati.” That’s what I told my teammates. “You are always scared of Cincinnati.” I’ve watched us lose games against Cincinnati and its ridiculous. I’ve pitched some good games at Cincinnati, but the majority I’ve lost, because I feel like we weren’t aggressive. Every time we play Cincinnati, the hitters are on their ass.’

‘Is that what the players are afraid of?’ I asked.

‘Physically afraid,’ said Dock. In 1970, ’71, and ’72, he says, the rest of the league was afraid of the Pirates. ‘They say, “Here come the big bad Pirates. They’re going to kick our ass!” Like they give up. That’s what our team was starting to do. When Cincinnati showed up in spring training, I saw all the ballplayers doing the same thing. They were running over, talking, laughing and hee-haw this and that.

‘Cincinnati will bullshit with us and kick our ass and laugh at us. They’re the only team that talk about us like a dog. Whenever we play that team, everybody socializes with them.’ In the past the roles had been reversed. ‘When they ran over to us, we knew they were afraid of us. When I saw our team doing it, right then I say, “We gonna get down. We gonna do the do. I’m going to hit these motherfuckers.'”

So, Dock Ellis decided to hit all nine Reds hitters.  He only managed to ding the first three of them (first two being Pete Rose and Joe Morgan) before the manager pulled him.

The Pirates lost, sadly, 5-3.

The whole psychological aspect of hitting batters on purpose, and the debate between “good guys” who never do it and the “bad ones” who do, and tend to help their team in the process, is fascinating.

Baseball should always be this awesome.

Posted in America, Baseball, Kultur, Sports | Leave a comment


It’s “Freedom of Speech,” not “Freedom From Consequences of Speech.”

Funny how Americans of all people, really don’t seem to get this.

Posted in America, Media, Politics | Leave a comment


I neglected to wish all of you a glorious Buddha’s Birthday yesterday.

Posted in Korea, Kultur, South Korea | 1 Comment

The Point Of It All

I just sat down with a student and spent 30 minutes telling him all about Seattle.  He’s going there this summer for a six week internship, so I told him about how he needs to buy a bike, do some some kayaking, definitely see Pike Place Market (I like the touristy shit, goddammit) and some other stuff.  (Visit Vancouver?  Definitely.  Visit Portland?  Well, maybe.)  I even broke out Google Maps to try and get him orientated a little bit (not an easy thing in that city).

This is by far my favorite part of my job – both prepping students for their visa interviews at the US Embassy and also getting them ready for trips abroad.  It’s nice that we send a lot of students to two US cities that I’m pretty familiar with – DC and Seattle.

I even think to myself how this could translate into a future job, either here or back in America.  I enjoy teaching English just fine, but the moments when I really feel like my students’ language skills are going to be put to practical use gets me really excited, because I know they’re going to have a great time and it’ll broaden their horizons and finally, after years if not decades, the usual tedium of what passes for ESL education in South Korea – endless tests and grammar reviews – finally translates into a practical skill, which is what studying a language is first and foremost about.  Or at least, what it should be about.

Basically, those moments when all the meticulous attention to grammar and such and dealing with students with zero motivation falls away and it’s like, hey, you’re going to have an awesome time and it’s thanks to the hard work you put into learning a language as difficult, maddening, and exception-ridden as English.

And now I’m craving a dozen fresh raw oysters and three or seven glasses of real beer.  That’ll have to wait until August though.

(And Portland is a great town, but with limited time and budget I’m thinking his one “big trip” ought to at least take him to another country.  Then again, strip clubs. . . .)

Posted in ESL, Korea, South Korea, Teaching | 1 Comment

“And off came those awful toe rings”

Stephen Malkmus, “Jenny & The Ess Dog” live on Letterman

Happy trails, Dave.  You brought some great music to live T.V. in a country that doesn’t do that kind of thing nearly enough.

Posted in kulture, Music, TV | 1 Comment


This Vice piece on New York Hardcore, narrated by Tim Armstrong, is cool enough by itself, but forward to 11:45 for a section on the hardcore scene in South Korea.

Posted in Art, Korea, Kultur, Music, South Korea | Leave a comment

Funk As Puck

Salad Days: The Washington, D.C. Punk Revolution trailer (website) Very excited for this.

And huh, Daniel Inouye’s son Kenny played guitar in Marginal Man.

Thanks, Wikipedia!

Posted in DC, Film, Music | Leave a comment