The Sleeping Lion

I finished another painting last night. It is an interesting piece. I have never worked with pearls or beads. I thought it'd be a challenge. It was. There were several times when I thought the piece would turn to utter shit. I half like it though. Definitely different. Now, all I need to do is make a couple more.

Korean Christmas

In Korea, Christmas is more akin to Valentine's Day in the states. Couples usually reserve hotel rooms, catch a theater performance, or snuggle together at a ski resort. Family is completely ix-nayed out of the equation. 

This is probably a mathematical eureka for some of you. I am no different. Family protocol that is steeped in approval seeking or fallacious propriety does have an energy sucking effect that rivals any Hoover vacuum or J. Edgar pucker. However, I tend to find amusement in such masquerades. It thrills me to watch a family member display pretension at the first sign of another's bombast. I will often keep tallies of these affronts in my squash record book. On the winning side, I personify an angry pumpkin, while on the other is a losing and indignant eggplant who sullies its cartoon dialogue boxes with imprecations. My seasoned eyes are often unprepared for the surprising blasphemes that can fill an animated square with tranquil repose.

When I am not animating nightshades, I enjoy posing with complete strangers as my future children. 

So Gee, on the otherhand, gets her thrills listening to Boyzone. 

My father-in-law owns discussions on politics and healthy eating habits. 

My brother and sister-in-law like cookies. 

I like human beings who sit on carpets as a part of their natural culture. I find this much more civilized than chairs. 

My brother-in-law believes Christmas and birthdays need to be celebrated simultaneously. 

Burger King Creates New Fragrance

The newest addition to our growing posts on American history is a little fragrance broiled up by the fast food chain famous for their whopper. That's right. One would be sorely out of sorts if they did not try and pick up Burger King's latest fragrance, FLAME. Available at, the fast food chain boasts that the smell of meat can be quite seductive.

The tagline from the website: Set the mood no matter what mood you're in the mood for.

One wonders whether satire is necessary in this present age, as almost everything from Shikow's American History Week is almost as preposterous as my new novel.

Online Video Games: Shoes vs. President Bush

Loren sent me these video games of trying to hit or avoid President Bush with various pairs of shoes. I think these games are mildly amusing. They are a part of American history though, and I do like things historical. 

I like the second game better. You can find this little nook where none of the shoes hit you. I did this once and got over 60 seconds of game time.

The hitting game is not as good. I could only hit the guy nine times. 

J**z in My Pants

A music video by SNL comedians and friends: Andy Samberg, Justin Timberlake, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccome. Their album (Incredibad) will be released on February 2nd, 2009 under the band name, The Lonely Planet.

Audio Clips from the Last 4 x 4 Reading

Here are a few audio selections from the Four by Four Reading on December 7th, 2008
in Seoul, South Korea. 

Kenneth Drennen reads a nonfiction piece about practical jokes and Christmas gifts [4x4:12.7.2008].

Loren Goodman reads a series of his latest poems [4x4:12.7.2008].

Chris Brown tells a nonfiction tale of visiting a paid restroom on a backpacking adventure through China [4x4:12.7.2008].

NEXT READING: January 11th, 7:00 p.m., Beans & Berries, Sinchon

Pulp Christmas!

PULP CHRISTMAS! - watch more

Homosexuality in Asia & Other Student Presentations

I have just finished teaching my last semester in Korea. I am thankful for the experience. Everyone was very kind and open to my involvement. Who knows? Maybe, there will be an academic life in my future. You never know. For now, I can say I enjoyed helping students become more confident English speakers. It was fun to watch them plan a vacation to an English speaking country, debate, and make films as funny as "Dooyoung Blaine: Younger Brother of David" and "Does Bungee Jumping Make You Taller?" 

The humor was as fun to be part of as the many serious discussions we've had this semester, from the controversial image-based questions about why people follow trends and diet, to the problems with environmental pollution. Sometimes I brought these issues to the forefront; and, at other times, they were raised by student presentations. On one such occasion, Team Greunchel (pictured above), brought up the issue of homosexuality and its acceptance within Korea. Through a series of surveys and experiments, the team unveiled a country full of misgivings.  

I certainly didn't expect a conservative country like South Korea to rank high as a homosexually-friendly environment, but I was surprised to see just how far the country was from such a proposition. According to the students' surveys (pictured above), 87% of those questioned said no one among them was openly homosexual. In addition, 87% said they would not be able to be friends with someone who was a homosexual. To top it off, nearly 98% of students questioned felt that they would not be able to adapt within Korean society if they were a homosexual. 

Other presentations included impersonations of yours truly (see Seung Boom pictured above), personal love stories, and ten pieces that dealt with the pressures of Sooneung, sometimes referred to as the Korean SAT. 

"[South Korea] changes flight schedules, adds extra buses, and delays stock market openings [so test takers are not interrupted on the day of the exam]" Min Jeong, the narrator in the clip (above), explains."Some students even kill themselves trying to deal with the [stress of taking the exam]."

The Korean SAT, or Sooneung, is an exam that dictates the future school, status, and job a student will have upon high school graduation. Because it is so important, some students take off an entire year to study for the exam. To the truly hard-pressed or insane, depending on your perspective, there are also special live-in programs, where students lock themselves up until exam time. 

In the clip (above) a student breaks their right arm a week before the exam, and has to complete the entire thing with his bad hand. Students ooh-ed and aaah-ed over the presentation. The Sooneung exam is such a big issue in this country that a simple mention of it will draw sighs and empathetic nods of understanding from bystanders. Who knows? It might be a good topic for a film (wink, wink). 

I love this piece (above) about a young lover being inspired by the film, "Men of Honor". It was thoughtful, well-delivered, and honest. A common theme among a majority of the presentations this semester. It makes me want to give everyone an A. Who knows? Maybe, I will.

Four by Four Reading Brings Out All Sorts

 There was snow and frigid temperatures, so I was surprised if we would even get three people to show up. Thankfully, So Gee's fliers and the featured readers' industrious e-mails got the word out for a bunch of people to show up. 

The proprietors of Beans and Berries gave us this private room on the third floor, where the heat was blasting a little too high, and some elevator techno was on a continual loop in the background. It made you feel like you were in a space station that was about to land on some desert terrain.

"Nice music," Ken said. 

"The best," Dustin replied.

"So who's reading?" I asked.

"I don't know," Dustin said. 

"Should we wait for Loren?" Ken asked.

"Maybe," I said. 

We did end up waiting for Loren (above). We also managed to keep the low-key, natural flow throughout the night. Nobody felt pressured to read, and we weren't waiting in the dark while someone read from a lectern. It definitely wasn't an academic environment. We just sat around this white table reminiscent of John Lennon's white piano, and shot the shit, read, and then shot the shit some more. It was almost like a workshop, but we didn't even have people in the same genre or a specific leader. We just rolled from one thing to another. I really liked that setup. In fact, I don't think I've ever been to a reading like that.

At one point, Chris Brown (above), told an impromtu story about a trip to China, and how he paid to use a restroom, where the toilet consisted of a very public hole out in the middle of a tiled floor without partitions, while a running trough extended beneath him, and a group of Chinese spectators watched.

"They were saying something in Mandarin. I think I caught something about "come watch the American". I thought about telling them I was a New Zealander, but I decided to finish what I had started, since I was making some progress at that point."

By the end of the reading, we were all hugging and planning the next event. I think the tentative date is January 11th. I'll try and send out fliers for those who want to attend. It'll be at Beans & Berries in Sinchon at 730 p.m.. Who knows? We might be able to get them to turn down the heat. 

Research for Filming a Feature in South Korea

I have been doing a bit of research for writing and filming a feature film in Korea. Thus far, I am pretty clear that I would like to do a piece on the youth of Korea and their secrets. The film is scheduled to be shot in the Summer of 2010. I have already recruited several people to help me bring this together while I'm in Los Angeles. 

Aside from producers in Korea and New York, several Yonsei students volunteered to provide me with a real-life-experience. 

"You need one," they told me. "You live too much in your head."

"Okay," I said. 

"You need to listen to Korean hard core music," they said. 

"Is there such a thing?"

"Yes," they said.

They took me to several music clubs in Hong Dae. I was surprised. There were a lot of emo bands. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but I could tell that they were trying to express pain and confusion. It made me feel like I was at a museum for human beings. 

This video is of the group, APOP, shot in the SPOT - a trendy hard core venue (filming costs $300/night).

I watched four bands perform. Most were a bit too watered down with trying to please an audience. APOP was different though. They were more about the music. The lead singer just did the songs. He looked disturbed and unhappy. The audience responded to him by shaking their fists. There wasn't any moshing. That is not a concept that is known or even permissible in Korea. 

Later, we went to some folk rock act on the southern end of town. It was in a coffee shop atmosphere. I didn't catch the name of the venue, but the music was bad enough for me to not ever return. The singer was a cross between being a bad Joan Baez and K-Pop wannabe.

Marc and Charles (above) were unable to standstill throughout the night. I tried to take their pictures, but they were always out of focus. That's okay though. I was appreciative of their guidance throughout the night. Whenever I got sad or started to tear up because my life was meaningless, they would remind me that it doesn't really matter because who said life had to have meaning.

"Yeah," Charles agreed with his cohort. "What if there is no meaning?"

"I don't know," I said.

"Then what's the point in crying?"

"I don't know."

"So get with the program! Take us dancing!"

"Okay," I said.

 I tried to take them to an 80s club called The 80s Club. We must have walked for about a half and hour in circles. I finally gave up. It was cold.

"Sorry, guys. I can't find it," I said.

"Aw, man," they said. "You suck!"

"Yeah," I said. "Life might not have any meaning."

"You suck!!" they said a bit louder.

"Yeah," I said.

"Let's go to Buster Red," Daniel said.

"Okay," I said.

We walked to Buster Red. The 80's Club was next door. 

"Oh, look!" I said. "There it is!"

"Yay!" the kids said.

Then we danced. 

4 x 4 Reading Series

Four by Four Reading Series

Sunday, December 7th

Beans and Berries, 3rd Floor

(near Yonsei University's Main Gate)

7:00-8:30 p.m.


We will have

four featured readers

and four open readers.


The featured readers are

Loren Goodman, Dustin Hellberg,

Ken Drennen, and Pirooz Kalayeh.


If you are interested in

being one of the open

readers, submitting a video,

or need directions, 

please contact 4 x 4.


Essayists, fiction writers,

interviewers, comic book artists,

filmmakers and poets welcome. ^ ^


Jen Nally

Sad Kermit

Alzo sent me some Sad Kermit videos. This one was my favorite of the bunch.

This is how I feel every morning. It also reminds me of the acid trip where I thought I could tap dance.