Saturday, May 23, 2009

Behold the Modern Toilet

If being reminded of what your food looks like when it comes out while it's going in is your thing, then man-o-man is this the restaurant for you.

The Modern Toilet

Thursday, May 21, 2009


It's been about 2 months, but all I have are promises.

1. Pictures from the Modern Toilet. For those of you on Facebook, you probably have already seen them. But for those of you who are anti putting your business on the interwebs, I will post the link to the pics.

2. A Taiwan wrap up. I seriously sweat over this one. I still feel too connected to the experience, and too disconnected from my life in the US again to properly put it into a blog.

3. A new bloggity, blog, blog link about my not so Asian life.

Until then, much love and such.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'll miss you Grandpa

The dead are always looking down on us, they say.
while we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,
they are looking down through the glass bottom boats of heaven
as they row themselves slowly through eternity.

They watch the tops of our heads moving below on earth,
and when we lie down in a field or on a couch,
drugged perhaps by the hum of a long afternoon,
they think we are looking back at them,
which makes them lift their oars and fall silent
and wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes

Billy Collins.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Full of It

I'm so going here before I leave.

Oh, yes. The Modern Toilet. The ice cream names are my favorite. "diarrhea with dried droppings" (chocolate), "bloody poop" (strawberry) and "green dysentery" (kiwi) Mmmm, mmmm.

Who's hungry?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Someone did a google search for "Japanese bite penis" and got sent to my blog. hahaha

I'm in a bit of a funk because the school I work for, Kojen, is fucking with me. They took about a third of my pay check for breaking my contract, but failed to tell me that they were going to do this. They have a very liberal (not based on any sort of system) interpretation of the money I actually "owe" them. Another friend of mine who works for Kojen had her whole check withheld and then Kojen asked her to pay an extra $100 NT. She had to pay because Kojen was failing to give her enough hours. The whole thing is a bit ridiculous.

Kojen is notorious for messing with teachers who leave before their one year contract is up. They like to cancel work visas early or mark your visa as missionary (try traveling with a missionary stamp, ha!) and forget to pay your salary. I don't like it. And I don't like it mostly because it will take time to get them to unfuck with me, and let's face it, there's a million other things I rather do. Damn the Asian man.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Economic Crisis

For everyone, who is not my brother, and is feeling a little lost about what is happening in with our economy and the options available to us to fix it, This American Life, has been doing a series of really informative (and simple! and clear!) shows on the economic crisis.

There are 3 shows so far, the latest of which, "Bad Banks", was actually the one I listened to first. After listening, I think I am actually prepared to have an intelligent, although limited, conversation on the subject. Not that I am demonstrating this at all in this blog. But go listen, be informed, so you don't sound like an asshole when talking about the economy like your local representative.

Birds on the Brain

Before you begin, important Cultural Slang: Penis = bird , yellow = perverted (in Mandarin in Taiwan)

Speaking of the cultural implications of bird...

The book that we use for the upper levels at Kojen is American Shine. American Shine is an ok book. It is a book made by Brits teaching American English, so you'll often find random bits of British English, but that is forgivable and most likely useful to the students in the long term. The book is divided into 9 units with 4 lessons in each unit. After each unit, there is a running story, and some activities for the students to do. This all looks well and good, until you find out that the running story is called, "LA Bird"

The name is forgivable enough, but the story happens to be about a woman getting robbed. What did she lose you ask?

Her bird.

But her bird isn't an average bird, it is a big, expensive, special, yellow, and magical bird. So, of course, part of our job as readers is to figure out who would want her bird.

I've never seen a class full of mid-schoolers so happy to be reading English before.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Before you begin, important Cultural Slang: Penis = bird (in Mandarin in Taiwan)

Last week was my final week teaching my class of high schoolers from 3:40 - 6:30 pm on Saturday. Kojen is slowly phasing me out of the work force. I have been asking to dump this class for months. 3 hours + 15-yr-olds + overbearing parents forcing their children to study English + Saturday = FUN TIMES! I took this class over when I came to Taiwan. It took the students exactly 8 months and 3 weeks to warm up to me. We were just finding our flow when Kelly, my boss, told me that she was going to give the class to the new teacher. Poor girl, but I was/am not exactly sad that a) I get off at 3:20 on Saturday now b) don't have to spend 3 hours jumping around like a damn monkey trying to ascertain whether or not there is life in room 523.

The final class I taught was on adjective order. Opinion, size, age, color, shape, origin, material, purpose, etc, etc (there still seems to be some debate as to what the adj order really is, but I digress). As native speakers, we naturally put adjectives in the right order, but SLLs do not. As I was soliciting examples of each category from the class, one of my students tells me that Japanese women are the most beautiful, and then proceeds to crack up like he has just told the funniest joke in the world. We were going over the lesson and every time I would say Japanese the whole class would giggle. I was, as usual, clueless as to what was so humorous, so my student, said, "Teacher, you want to know why so funny?" "Sure, why's it so funny?" "You know English name for man bird?" "Ok, Brandon, we can talk about birds after class." The class had a good chuckle over bird, and then we returned to class.

At the end of class, Brandon explained what was so funny about Japanese. "Panese", he said sounded the same as, you guessed it, "penis". In Taiwanese, not Mandarin, Taiwanese, "ja" means "to eat", so Japanese, in the minds of trilingual Taiwanese 15-yr-olds, means "eat penis".

Ok, so maybe I will miss that class just a little bit.

Monday, March 09, 2009

A Turn for the Worst

Bissie's friend has started his very own comic. And, hey, what do you know, it's actually amusing. Check it out if you have been neglecting your Internet funny bone.

The Watchmen

Yeah, so I read this book and it took me about twice as long as it takes me to read a 300 page book. Material too heavy? No. Material not interesting enough? No. I loved the damn thing. Life distracting you from your reading? No. I live in a foreign country, and I have about 2 friends here. One of whom I live with.

It's just because I am a visual retard. It was my first graphic novel, and I am not much of a comic book reader, so the pictures where interesting and distracting. Instead of flowing nicely into the big picture, I had to micro analyze each box then revisit to grasp the overall picture. So, yes, a book that is 75% pictures took me f-o-r-e-v-e-r to see/read.

But the movie! Today! In the IMAX theater! Woot!

UPDATE and spoiler alert

The Watchmen was definitely an enjoyable viewing. There were a couple of scenes that blew me away, ie// the comedian getting pounded, but it fell short of my expectations. Not a big surprise. They stayed true to the book for the most part, but they sucked all the urgency and desperation out of the world. And in some parts, they stayed true to the book, but on film it just seemed silly. The quickness of the characters' decisions and the general lack of depth in all the main characters, except the Comedian, sucked the meat out of the mission. In my opinion, they focused way too much on the love triangle, but managed to only skim the part about humanity being important and worth saving in the eyes of the masked heroes.

I think Rorschach was well cast, but I hate how they handled his death. He was so weak at his demise. Wrong, wrong, wrong. His mask was awesome. The moving blots were a nice touch. I think he is such an interesting character, it would have been nice to see more of his story revealed, but I understand why they couldn't include it.

What I did enjoy was the new ending. I think it was really clever and kept the spirit of the ending in the book. Although in the book, I do like how he rounds up all the most famous artists and has them create the monstrosity and then kills them all. But, I was bummed that they left out the part where Veidt asks Dr. Manhattan if he did the right thing in the end, and Dr. Manhattan replies that nothing ever ends. They pushed it onto the Silk Spector taking about what John would say, which I thought was totally undercut the books' view on humanity.

Overall, I think they bit off a little more than they could chew. But it was good enough to be interesting to talk about after the show. I would, however, definitely recommend reading the book before seeing the film. I really don't know how I would feel about it if I had never read the book.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Ba Gua Kung Fu

One of my coworkers, Jeff, invited me to join his Bagua Kungfu class. He studied in the US, and it's one of the reasons he came to Taiwan. My legs are punishing me (They started shaking after the warm up. Wow, feeling a pinch out of shape here), but I was very happy with my Ba Gua Kung Fu class. It's like TaiChi and Kung Fu all mixed together, which means I still felt as though there was a possibility of me kicking someone's ass, but I wouldn't have been surprised if that person happened to be over 80. I'm definitely going back on Tuesday. It feels good to be sore and empowered to put the smackdown on the geriatric population. AND it's a great excuse to post this video.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cafe Gigi:Shameless Plug

One of our favorite places in Danshui (淡水, or Tamsui) is Cafe Gigi. On one of my sick days, Philip and his friend, who was visiting, were trying to find the Fort San Domingo 紅毛城. The fort was originally built by the Spanish in 1629. The literal translation of the Chinese name, Red Hair Fort, was in reference to the Danish, who took over the fort in 1642. Like always, when we try to find something, we rarely find said thing. Instead, they found the lovely Cafe Gigi. Cafe Gigi is like how I want my house to be if I was artistic, had any talent for decorating, or a green thumb. The tea is delicious and lovely, it has the only wine I've had in Taiwan that wasn't a little too well aged, and the food is scrumptious and filling. If you ever trek up to Danshui, you must stop here.

The first thing that catches your attention are the paintings on the crumbling stucco outside of the place. They are so not Taiwanese and stick out amidst the Taiwanese architecture. Taiwanese architecture is hard to classify. They seem to be going for the very boxy, stapled together, corrugated tin roof, and if you have the chance to cover things with pool tiles, you really should style. Needless to stay these paintings kind of stand out.

Also, you can't beat the patio on a sunny day.

The tea is yummy and brewed with fruits and roots and comes out looking beautiful.

The dinner selection is limited. There is curry (meat or not) and also the pork meatballs. Both are delicious, reasonable, and filling. She also has small, but tasty selection of wine.
In Taiwan, disgusting, big-enough-to-eat-tropical-sized-cockroaches, spiders mean good fortune. At the lovely Cafe Gigi, we were lucky to have a lot of good fortune on the wall 2 feet from our table, who-wa.
Getting there from Danshui MRT

It's pretty easy to get there in that impossible sort of way. Exit the MRT, turn left. The road you want is Zhongzheng Rd, but of course, that road sign is in Chinese. Basically, there is a fork in the road. You want the road to the left of the bank on the corner and to the right of Starbucks. Keep walking until you see the first temple on your right hand side, Longshan Temple. On the wall of the Longshan Temple you will see the Cafe Gigi sign. It looks like this:
Take a right, and head up the steps:
(handsome Filipino-American tour guide not included)

Follow the steps until you see another sign directing you to your right:
Take the right and walk up the ramp until you see the paintings. You will see the cafe sign just past the paintings. The garden entrance is on your left-hand side.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pingsi Lantern Festival

The lantern festival pictures are up.

This fest was probably one of the most beautiful things I have participated in. The idea is to write your wishes on the lanterns, then send those puppies to the heavens. The colors of the lanterns have different meanings. These seemed to vary depending on where you purchased your lanterns. The result is awesome (literal meaning, not Bill and Ted interpretation) - a sky illuminated by wishes.

*If you click on the slide show, it will take you to the Picasa album.

Home Coming

We have purchased tickets!

We'll be flying into LAX on April 15. From there, we will be driving up nothing no later than April 19th for Greek Easter celebrations. Plans, living situations, and whereabouts get a little fuzzy after that.

Originally, we were planning to fly into Amsterdam for a week or so, then head home. But we have decided to stick around Taiwan and really see the country here before we head out. I told the school I am working for that I am leaving, so of course they are taking away my hours like it is going out of style. (Bastards.) The good news is I have more free time to travel.

Behold the Taiwan Bucket List in no particular order:

1. Snake Alley
2. Alishan National Park
3. Taroko Gorge / Haulien
4. Tainan
5. Visit Josephine
6. Visit Tammy
5. Kenting
6. Scuba diving of some sort on Green Island
7. Ride the high speed rail
8. Ride a bus line to nowhere
9. Eat as many different kinds of snacks as my innards will take.
10. Take my bike down the bike path as long as my little legs will peddle me
11. Koashung
12. Yoali
13. Ride scooters up the southern part of Taiwan

Monday, February 16, 2009

This is what we are exporting

We get Tai-chi, they get Elvira. Behold, in all its glory.

Today feels like...

In case anyone was wondering, today feels like this:


Now, off to Chinese class, where I will finish off the day feeling like this:


I hope all is well with you. I love you and wish you all sunshine, puppies, and red wine that has not turned because it doesn't exist in Taiwan.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Next up...

Lantern Festival.

There are 2 options. The first option is this:

2009 Pingsi International Sky Lantern Festival

The second option is this:

Yanshui Lantern Festival also known as the beehive of fireworks. See the video at the link below.

I must be getting old because I don't really want someone shooting fireworks at my face. Pingsi it is.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Happy Birthday!

This one goes out to Grandma Frances. It's a little early, but hey it's a cool song.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Taichung and Changhua

I did my first real traveling within Taiwan this week. I went with Phil and Winnie (a reformed student, now friend) to visit Claire (yet another reformed student, now friend). We spent 1 day in Tai-chung and 1 day exploring Changhua County. It was a great little over night trip, plus we had authentic tour guides, so we got to try some new food and see old things in a new way (new being informed in this case).

More amazing, I am posting the pictures on my blog in a timely fashion. Holy crap. That IS amazing.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Guandu Temple

Humbled by their serenity, craftsmanship, and beauty. Temples abound in Taiwan, and I must say, I'm kinda sick of visiting them. But I bet you're not. Pics from Guandu Temple are up...

Guandu Temple

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I am back from Cebu, an island in the Philippines. It was a pretty amazing trip, and we got to do some pretty amazing things. Some on the morbid side of spectacular (cock fights and firing M-16s) and others on the more pleasant end of spectacular (snorkeling and island hopping).

Click the picture below to see more of the trip

Ok, now I am just being immature

Sometimes grading can be fun. See #5.