All stick and no carrot, since ought-three.
夕陽度西嶺，群壑倏已暝。 鬆月生夜涼，風泉滿清聽。 樵人歸盡欲，煙鳥棲初定。 之子期宿來，孤琴候蘿徑。
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Wed, 12 Nov 2003
I'm back. Uneventful flight. Must been downhill this way because it took about three hours less.
Arrive home, drop off my shizzle and wander over, unshaven and very smelly, to the Cantab where holy shit it's the Kruger brothers. Goddamn. Chill with the homies, leave and hit some late night Punjabi Dhaba and it's back to the house to play a little Xbox and admire my new teapot.
I must be getting old or womanly because I can't help thinking how nice it is to be sleeping on a bed again.
One last picture:Sun, 09 Nov 2003
Eventful day today. Went to the big electronics market, where four years ago I was run over by some crazy Korean lady (but unharmed) and bought:
Next came the Molotov cocktail part of the trip. On the way back home from the electronics market we realized that all the roads were blocked off and there was some kind of massive protest going on. Luckily it was not an anti-American protest (it was some kind of labor union thing, I think) so we felt more or less safe until we saw the regiments of hooded guys with big iron poles, getting ready to beat the shit out of the police.
It's pretty clear that every male in this country undergoes military training. These guys were very organized. First they sat in rows on the street, holding the poles upright. Then they started marching double-time, in formation behind someone with a flag. They would stop every one in a while, beat the poles on the ground in unison while chanting some kind of Klingon battle dirge, then continue moving closer to the police while dragging the poles on the street to create a mass scraping sound, foreshadowing, no doubt, the scraping of human flesh from the poles that they would be doing at the end of the day.
The whole effect was pretty fucking scary, fo shizzle, but I was somewhat mollified by the fact that everyone not in the protest was treating it was a fairly common event—building guards were nonchalantly cordoning off the entrances with red tape, people were having dinner on the side of the street, etc.
Anyways, we fled the scene before the Molotov cocktails actually started flying and happened upon a tea shop with a decent selection of teapots and shit. We went in and chatted with the owner for a bit (old Korean guy) who made some tea for us. He overheard us conversing in Chinese and lo! it turns out he speaks Mandarin and that he studied calligraphy and art in Taiwan for twelve years—at the same university we had all been to. Pretty amazing. He had been so enthused by the Taiwanese tea stores that when he came back to Korea he opened one of his own.
So we stayed and chatted with him for a long time in Chinese about tea and Buddhism and his time in Taiwan and whatnot and I ended up with yet another teapot. Then we ate a lot of intestines for dinner (at my behest) and came home, the end.Wed, 05 Nov 2003
This laptop is the best investment ever. I'm getting a ton of stuff done.
Some pics of Korea: http://www.masanjin.net/gallery/korea2003/.Tue, 04 Nov 2003
As I remember from the last time I was here, the guys are, by and large, large and tough and (if they're young) angrily anti-America. This is important to keep in mind as you watch them standing in front of the mirror at the subway station fixing their hair, a Gucci purse clutched under one arm. Bizarre, but apparently that's the fashion and it's ok here. At least the "extremely long pointy elf-shoe" look has died down in the past four years, replaced by more normal shoes, though you still see a few here and there.
If you see it from above, the most striking thing about Seoul at night is the prevalence of glowing red neon crosses, spread like glistening salmon roe across the grey backdrop of the buildings. The Christian sect here is apparently quite aggressive and evil, and, like Sith disciples naturally gravitating towards red lightsabers, they instinctively choose the most evil color possible for their crucifixes.
We came across a little protest the other day on behalf of the Buddhists who had their temples and statues etc. defaced by enraged Christians. Club Anti, they're called. Many photos of statues with their faces torn off or defaced by spray-paint crosses (red) and ransacked temples. Very Crusades.Sun, 02 Nov 2003
Welcome to Korea, where all the food is spicy, all the women are beautiful, and all the weather is just great. After being in the land of the Puritans for so long, I almost forgot what it's like to be in a civilized country again—you can smoke in bars, buy liquor on Sundays (in the convenience stores, even), and walk outside to find food, drink, and lots of people milling about, even past (gasp) 10pm.
The women make people-watching ever so worthwhile. Ever girl under 18 walks around in a schoolgirl outfit. The next two decades are the "sexy business suit and high heels" era, aka William's Ideal Outfit, and I'd say about 90% of the women in this category would classify as head-turners back home, meaning I've now become inured to beauty to the point that the women who DO turn my head are just stunning. The only disconcerting thing is that come age 40, every single woman seems to immediately transition to a short, pear-shaped, perm-haired old ladies with an exaggerated willingness to shove you aside in pursuit of their subway seat, cabbage, or what have you, making me wonder if there is some kind of large-scale hormonal synchronization thing going on here.
Despite my enthusiasm for the women, I have determined that there is no bluegrass in the entire country, meaning I could never live here. I do miss my fiddle.
Anyways, we've been doing the usual thing; visiting temples, eating lots of red stuff, drinking weird liquors (there's a traditional rice wine here that's kind of like an unfiltered, slightly carbonated sake, which is delicious—the name escapes me now but I will ask tomorrow). I am so exteremely jet-lagged that I can only sleep between the hours of 8am and noon, which is making things a little difficult, but it's kinda cool to always be up for going out at night.
It's now about 1am so I will try to get some sleep.Wed, 29 Oct 2003
Frantically running around trying to assemble everything I need for this trip. I have to leave my car at work (another Somerville fucking double-street-sweeping week ahead), take the bus back home tonight, then take a cab to the airport at 4:30am tomorrow morning, so I basically have to get everything in my life organized NOW while I still have a car.
Bought Quicksilver. I know it's too early for a paperback, but Jesus Christ, does the thing have to weigh ten pounds and fucking take up more space than my laptop? I was really tempted to get some other paperback book instead, but nothing really caught my eye and I wasn't willing to gamble too much with eighteen or whatever hours of flying ahead of me. Last time I accidentally bought a book I had already read and was forced to spend the entire flight thinking, which always leaves me in a hyper-depressed state.
Bought lots of coffee and red Twizzlers to trade with the natives for food and shelter.
(Side note: despite it being pretty crappy weather outside, the view from my office window reached its peak of autumnal beauty today and I gaze at it contentedly as I ponder the next mot juste.)
Got a call from security because I parked my car on the grass. I was like, "Bitch please. If you hadn't cordoned off a huge section for a 'training exercise', whatever the fuck that is, I wouldn't have had to park on that nasty-ass mud patch you arbitrarily decided not to pave over ten years ago which you now, in a laughably poetic turn, call 'grass'." But all that really came out was like "Oh, that's not cool? Ok, I'll move it." So I drove and bought Quicksilver.
Set up my xscreensaver with jcreed's phosphor trick to annoy my blog-hating officemate in my absence.
And with that, I think I am prepared.Wed, 15 Oct 2003
Looks like I'll be going to Korea—just bought tickets for a week and a half in Seoul, starting at the end of this month. Gonna visit my friends, visit obscure Buddhist temples hidden in deciduous foliage on craggy mountain peaks, and eat lots of spicy salty meaty things. Extremely excited.
Gift requests, anyone?Sun, 17 Aug 2003
And very tired and very jet-lagged. The air travel aspect of the trip has been extremely exhausting—a result of the power outage, I imagine, as the ex-strandees all try to get home alongside me.
I had a good time and decided I wanted to write a bit about the experience but I'm a little burned out now. Maybe I'll have the motivation to write in a few days time.
For now, I do have pictures for you to enjoy.Mon, 11 Aug 2003
I have spent the last week in the dark heart of Africa without electricity and obviously without internetivity. And now sit behind the hell that is severely time-lagged vi to say: please hold, and the much of a muchness will resume in a week when I return.
You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write. -- Saul Bellow