Saturday, February 26, 2011


"Search" is not a word I feel has much power. If you're searching for something, probability is not on your side. Misplaced your glasses, your wristwatch? Don't search for them; they're lost. You'll never see them again.

I didn't search for true love, I stumbled upon it, bumped into it in the middle of my life. By chance. Life is a lottery, and everyone wins sometime or another.

I was twenty-seven.

The Seoul subway network has nine lines, nearly three hundred stations, over four million passengers daily. I used to ride it every day, in the morning. Wake up at seven, shower, dress, break fast and leave home by eight. That was the schedule. There are a lot of people like me.

Perhaps I'm not properly evolved, but I've always been uncomfortable traveling above and below terra firma. Airplanes frighten the shit out of me, but subways...subways feel like a burial. If you've ridden inside an underground capsule shuffling bored people to and from places they'd rather avoid, you know what I mean.

It was on the morning of March 19, 2006 that I met the love of my life, however, and for that reason I have a fond interest in the metro. I remember it was raining. I held a cheap umbrella.

Like most mornings, I left my one-room apartment shortly before eight and headed toward Hapjeong Station. The driving rain drenched my soles, then my socks. I considered running into a convenience store for a sandwich, maybe some banana milk for later, but neither time nor the weather was on my side. Instead, I scurried like a rat in a drainpipe down into the bowels of the earth, took a free copy of Metro and waited for the train to arrive.

Standing on the platform as the train approached, I wished, hoped, desired that, instead of a metal locomotive, a fat, fire-red frankfurter would emerge from the tunnel. When the train pulled into the station and its doors opened to ejaculate bodies, I was disappointed. Real life is never as fun as fantasies.

It normally takes twelve minutes by subway, give or take, from Hapjeong to City Hall, but on that day (a Monday), there was a delay. The cars stopped between Ahyeon Station and Ehwa Womans University [sic]. Stuck in the tunnel, my skin began to crawl. Metal, cement, hot flesh -- they don't mix. Probably some asshole jumped in front of a coming train.

In any case, after arriving at Ehwa and experiencing yet another delay -- and the onslaught of a thousandfold delayed passengers -- I chose to foot it. I exited the car, stopped at a newsstand to buy a pack of gum, and climbed upward.

Emergence. Now there's a word that holds power. We are brought into this world through birth, and nothing, I am confident, is more empowering to the human spirit than reliving that experience. I walked up the subway stairs and came back to life.

Above was a gray scrape of sky. The rain had stopped, however briefly.

I looked for a bus. What I saw was an angel.

She was pink. The wind had died, but there she was, twisting and turning in her own breeze, all limbs. Positioned between two speakers in front of an electronics shop, her movements were magical. I stood in awe at her beauty, her height. Her wonder.

I was lovestruck.

To make a long story short, tomorrow is our second anniversary. Thing's haven't always been easy, but you know how it goes. Love survives even when feeling dies. Ups and downs. We're expecting our first child this May, a girl, and the sonogram shows that she has her mother's fabric.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Show Stopper

The dunk contest should be judged like figure skating.

I watched JaVale McGee take nearly two minutes to dunk three balls, and it was trying, son. Serge Ibaka had two tries to fetch a stuffed toy for Angelina Jolie's adopted kid. Blake Griffin jumped over the hood of a KIA. Yawn.

DeMar DeRozan, though, made his second-round dunk on his first try, and it was the best dunk in the history of the competition. Ibaka's first dunk from the free-throw line was classic, Javale's last one amazing (bonus points for the head duck), but what DeMar DeRozan did can't be replicated. And he did it on his first attempt.

Read all the papers and watch the tape: at first it appears DeRozan two-handed the ball. Nothing special, right? It's only upon seeing the second replay that you can see how he scooped it with one hand, brought it around himself while rotating, and threw it down.

On his first try, and fuck physics.

The dunk contest should be judged like figure skating.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bark, Bark

"You hungry, Skip?" Kevin Fields pulled himself away from his book of short stories to rhetorically ask his German Shepherd, Cleon, nee Skip. When Cleon-Skip offered no response save for the low, continuing whine that had interrupted Kevin from his reading in the first place, he added, "Of course you are," then got up to feed the poor old bastard. In lieu of a bookmark, he used a Bic lighter to save his place. Neat trick.

Cleon, dog of eleven years, Kevin's of four (inherited from his old man, who died of a stroke at forty-seven), was uncharacteristic of his breed. He detested going on walks, for one. For another, he was as timid as a snowflake. Kevin's father used to joke that not only would Cleon fail to protect the household should a burglary or home invasion occur, but that he would, in all likelihood, become an accomplice to the crime. (What Kevin Fields Sr. failed to predict before he died, however, was that there are easier ways to rob a house. You don't even have to break into one. You just have to work at a bank.)

Cleon. He hated leashes, would turn into a pacifist whenever a collar was put around his neck, would rather be dragged up the street paws first than to wear that bitch bracelet, and good luck trying.

But his intentions were pure. He wanted to befriend everyone he encountered. Without fail, though, his exuberance was met with shock and fear from strangers. One time in the park, Cleon went running up to a mother pushing her baby in a stroller. It didn't matter that all he wanted to do was sniff the pretty lady and maybe Eskimo kiss her baby; the mother saw a 90-pound hulk of a dog -- a canine colossus -- locomoting toward her and recoiled in abject terror.

The police came.

On another occasion, Cleon had worms and was taken to the vet. Panic ensued: parents and toddlers and dogs alike running for shelter as though Cleon were Godzilla, they denizens of New Japan. I think only the president survived.

Poor old Cleon, only wanting love, always met with abhorrence. Kevin thought it wrong to anthropomorphize the old soldier, but he couldn't help comparing him to Lenny in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. He also considered Cleon naive, and imagined that if it were possible for dogs to fall for Nigerian e-mail scams, Cleon would be an easy mark. The easiest.

But Cleon wasn't without sense. The dog had a way of telling who did or didn't want to be in his presence. He understood that he was imposing, that he intimidated most children, their parents, their parents' veterinarians. When Cleon's enthusiasm was met with fear or hostility -- and doesn't pepper spray sting like a motherfucker when all you want to do is get a closer look at that beach ball? -- he'd stand down, sulk for a second or two, and look for another trajectory toward something that looked just as fun.

Nor was Cleon without wits. In that way, he was smarter than a lot of Kevin's friends and most of his family members, many of whom had little or no understanding of social niceties, let alone the norms. Cleon knew not to throw up on the carpet; Kevin's friends didn't. If you gave Cleon a treat -- a chew toy, some Ruffles with ketchup, a teddy bear that he could tear the shit out of -- you were his friend for life (unless you threw up on the carpet). When Kevin's late mother and father got into a row on Thanksgiving of 2003 and started throwing turkey then lobster then dishes then cutting knives at one another, Cleon hid in a corner to avoid the chaos. "Because Cleon knew it was better to let them kill each other rather than to interfere in their petty bullshit," Kevin would say.

Good dog.


"Skip! Hey, Skip!" Kevin called to Cleon from the laundry room. "C'mon, Skip! Hot food, don't waste it!"

When Cleon didn't come, Kevin reentered the family room to rouse the ancient specimen. "Get up, boy. Time's running out. Last warning before I throw it away for the crows and the raccoons..."

Cleon was gone. Skip was gone. All that remained on the carpet was a depression in the shape of a German Shepherd.

Neat trick.

[Note: No pets, real or imagined, were harmed during the writing of this story. Also, the image accompanying this post was painted by Igor Lysenko. It's called "Disappearing Dog," and you can buy it here:]

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Basketball Diary, February 14, 2011

I am a big fan of Miami Heat Basketball, and have been for years. The thing, though, is that my status of soju-ourn as a resident of Korea makes it hard -- because of the time difference -- to watch most games, and near impossible when, like today, one is scheduled for Sunday at 1 PM EST, 3 AM here in ROK-and-roll high school. But it's against the Boston Celtics, a team the Heat currently lead in the standings yet have lost twice to this regular season. Chances are, they'll meet in the playoffs this spring; and if the Heat can't muster a win today, their postseason outlook doesn't appear good.

So here I am, dazed after going to bed very early and waking up at two in the morning. The game starts in just under an hour, and because I'm a masochist, I'm writing my thoughts here on this hallowed blog. Pray for me.

- Time for coffee. My wife, currently suffering from insomnia, stirs upstairs. I'm sure she thinks I'm a madman. She wouldn't be incorrect.

- Well-being coffee, you say? Had me at "well," packet of instant-caffeine crystals.

- It's a good thing I don't have to work today, otherwise...wait. Shit. I do have to work today. On my awesome smile.

- Just burned my tongue. I don't like what this portends.

- I am genuinely nervous about the outcome of this game. When the Heat played the Lakers on Christmas Day, I felt likewise, although Miami managed to embarrass the Lakers on their home court. Now? Not sure I'm confident they can recreate that magic. The Big Green Bully is a menace unlike anything in professional sports. It inspires fear.

- This post is brought to you by Parliament cigarettes.

- Game on. This coffee tastes like battery acid.

- There's a drunk guy yelling to himself outside, and that alone has vindicated my decision(!) to wake up early. Kudos, crazy drunk man. That's Greek for "cheers."

- I love the smell of Mike Breen in the morning.

- I have a feeling Kevin Garnett is about to go off the deep end, sort of like D-Fens in Falling Down. Easy, ref, it's only a squirt gun. He just wanted to get home for his daughter's birthday.

- Annnnd, the Internet has just cut out. What cruel fate, this.

- Back again. Mark Jackson says you have to stay attached to Ray Allen's body. Ray Allen's appendages agree.

- The audio on this stream is a few seconds ahead of the video. Good when the Heat make a basket or collect a rebound, bad whenever the Garden crowd cheers.

- We are all LeBron being screwed out of third consecutive MVP.

- Milk carton: Carlos Arroyo.

- After one quarter, it's 20-15 for Miami. Yet I can't shake this lurking fear that a tranquilized giant is about to rise.

- Mike Breen sums up Kendrick Perkins beautifully in a word: ornery.

- This is getting painful to watch. Mercifully, it's 43-39 Miami heading into Zebrahead.

- Happy Valentine's Day to all the beautiful women in my life. Thank you for putting up with my antics throughout the years. You are loved.

- Continuing the love-in, my affection for Jeff Van Gundy knows no bounds.

- Rajon Rondo shoots free throws like old people fuck.

- 51-44 Celtics, Miami takes a TO. I have a bad feeling about this.

- "I remember how to kill you" is simultaneously one of the worst and most awesome movie quotes ever.

- It's getting chippy in Boston!

- After a D-Wade flagrant foul, Miami is down by 11.

- Make that 13. An ad for Big Mama's House 3 is the capper on this shit sandwich. Now I remember why I'm a misanthropist.

- Still down 13 heading into the fourth quarter. The refs are screwing over the Heat something fierce.

- Okay, no more coffee. I feel like I have lockjaw.

- Welcome back, Dwyane Wade.

- Four-point game. Here we go...

- 18.2 seconds remaining, Heat down 2 points. About to have a heart attack.

- Gotta make the three to tie, gotta make the three to tie, gotta...

- Didn't make the three. Mike Miller will haunt my dreams.


Yesterday, my wife and I took in a movie at the new cinema that recently opened over on Haddon Ave. A matinee. It starred Liam Neeson as an ex-CIA operative kidnapped and then brainwashed to assassinate the newly elected American president. I'd give it three stars (out of four). It was what it was, and it did what it was supposed to. My wife called it "political exploitation porn," and maybe she's right (matter of fact, she definitely is, because she's a Republican), but I kind of liked it. It didn't insult my intelligence, was aptly directed, and contained a number of -- three or four, I believe -- big-action set pieces that reminded me of early John Woo. Minus the doves.

Coming out of the theater, a woman behind us groused to her date -- husband, boyfriend, or brother, I have no idea -- that she was starving. An innocuous statement to be sure, but it set off in me such a wild flurry of bad memories that, for the remainder of the day and all of this one, I haven't been able to relax or stop thinking about my awful past. That a random quote from a stranger should set my nerves aflame must be explained by the partial subject matter of the film I'd just watched; for I have been kidnapped, and during that horrible encounter I nearly starved to death.

Five years ago, I worked at a publishing house in Portland. Our bread and butter was tech manuals, but occasionally we took on small-time ad campaigns. Flyers, mostly, for furniture stores and pizza joints. Sometimes sex-toy shops. I didn't exactly loathe the work, but neither did I love it. It was a vacuous form of livelihood that took more than it gave, and after only four months I was ready to call it quits. I handed in my resignation shortly thereafter, and Paul, my boss and bi-weekly drinking companion, said he was sad to see me go but wished me luck in future endeavors. Paul was the best.

On my last day, I turned down co-workers' offers of dinner and carousing to instead head home and lose myself in the ether of a Michael Crichton novel. At least that was the plan. I left the building at 7:02. By 7:05 I was a missing person. Over forty-eight hours later, I was declared as such.

To this day, I have no idea as to my captors' motive. The last thing I can recall about that fateful evening was stepping out from under the building's canopy and into the moonless, rainy night, to look for a cab. Then, I suppose, I was tasered and taken off in a vehicle. That's what my mind has recreated about my abduction in lieu of actual memory. Since then, I've been trying to make sense of what, no matter how hard I consider it, seems senseless.

I woke up -- or regained consciousness -- blindfolded. My legs were tied taut to the legs of a wooden chair. My arms were similarly bound behind me, the chair's high back cutting into my shoulders the further I struggled. I learned not to do that much.

Hours passed. I would shout "Hey!" and when that didn't work opted for a more polite "Hello?" Never did my abductors speak a word to me, but I often heard them talking to each other, whispering away from me, their words heard yet impossible to decipher.

I was indoors, that was for sure. No wind blew save for the rush of air that would brush my face following, almost as an afterthought, my tormentor's fists, which came in hourly spurts. I think I was in a basement. The air seemed damp, cool, and reason told me no one would kidnap a person and torture him in broad daylight. I certainly wasn't in Times Square.

My nose was broken beyond repair, I knew, and my face was so swollen that I assumed I was rendered unrecognizable to friends and family. The word "punishment" holds a very special place in my lexicon in that it sounds, to me, as bad as it feels. I was punished, friends, and I wish I could say I got used to it. I didn't.

But while the violence inflicted on me was horrifyingly painful, it paled in comparison to the abject torment that would come. If I was tortured for as long as I believe I was, it amounts to no more than three or maybe four days. Afterward, I guess my band of ersatz terrorists knew they were being hunted and fled, leaving me alone, because for days I remained unmolested in my chair, immobile and without nutrition, my cries for help unheeded.

Water. I wanted water. God help me, when I was at my thirstiest, I bit my cheek, hard, to drink my own blood, which makes me a self-cannibal, but that's what people in desperate situations are forced to do. I suppose. I've never met anyone who's had an ordeal similar to my own.

My hunger would ebb and flow. It would roar like a caged animal, then it would lull. The minutes between, when I wasn't hungry, were peaceful yet far between, and when the pangs would reawaken I became nearly apoplectic, unable to sit calmly despite my inert position. It got easier to deal with as time passed and I grew weaker, though, until I forgot about it altogether and realized I was dying.

"I'm pretty tall for my height" is a malapropism my brother, a professional volleyball player in Korea, said once during one of our many cross-state trips through New England as kids with our parents, and it's one we revel in laughing over when we meet up. Which hasn't been as often as I'd like. But the resonance of that statement has stayed with me over the years. For two weeks my body literally started eating itself. And when there was no more to consume, it shut down. But I guess it stayed tall for its height.

I don't know how or for what reason I was kidnapped, but I do know how I was found, although it wasn't from memory but rather newspaper articles. There's a photo from the Portland Press Herald in which I look like a skeleton exhumed from an ancient crypt, and every time I look at it, it always makes me shudder. I weighed 48 pounds. My wife scolds me, telling me to leave the past behind and not to dwell over old ghosts, but it's easier said than done.

I have demons. And those demons won't leave me alone. No matter how hard I try, they always force their way back.

They're pretty tall for their height.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

San Simeon

I have a sandwich named after me. It's called The Siren. Several prime ministers and presidents from various countries have tried it, apparently, and -- this might be complete bullshit -- it appears to be very popular in South Sudan and New Burma. I read that on its Wikipedia page, but the article is rife with "citation needed" tags and seems to have been written by a third-grader, so the article is far from accurate, I suppose, but the sentiment tickles me.

It made me smile. Remy showed it to me when he came to visit. I haven't been able to lift my arms -- nor hold down food -- for a while now, so he held his iPad 7 in front of me and scrolled down whenever I blinked twice. I sneezed and he scrolled all the way to the end by mistake, lol.

Back in 2015, as our fame was rising but prior to when we started trading publicly, everybody knew who we were. Stan was the handsomest, so of course he got the most pub, but I and Remy fared pretty well, too. Of course we did. We were barely out of adolescence and had discovered a cure for cancer. Remember cancer? Probably not, but at one time it was a pretty big deal. You can look it up on Wikipedia. I cured that.

Initially, our plan was to breed dogs and foxes. We tried, and not always through legally approved means. Screw the law, we thought, let's make doxes! And it worked. To this day there has been no officially confirmed sightings of a dox in the English countryside, but they're there. If you are so inclined to look, they're all over the fucking place.

It was by accident that we discovered the cure for cancer. Remy's the chemist, so he can explain it in much further detail than I ever could, but what the formula amounts to is, I believe, dox stem cells and gasoline.

This discovery didn't come easily or without fatalities, however. Stan was shot, dead, coming out of a 7-Eleven; the FDA scoffed at our findings; and I, ironically, have cancer. It's easier to eradicate a disease with a stolen cure and make billions of dollars than it is to cure one of its forefathers, I've discovered.

Good night, people. I'm too tired to continue. I'll see you in Hell or Heaven.

(Unless I see you first.)

I'm comforted in dying because I have a sandwich named after me: The Siren. And I get to see my grandparents!

Why "The Siren?" A tale for another time.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Kid the Max!

Further proof that polar bears rule - kids' programs included.