"True Men Aren't Afraid to Hold Each Other" or "Men Get Drunk to Hold Each Other in Public" or both.

I played more tennis this week. I'm starting to get all kinds of stiff. Ken and I played two sets and I felt like I was some kind of woodshed tool that needed extra WD40 and was married to the Tin Man. I think I'm going to have to start running on off days and do a bit of yoga to keep me limber enough to run with Dorothy.

Aside from tennis, I have started my Korean language classes. I have this great group of gals that are keeping me on my toes with all the multiple languages and wonderful wit and glamour they have among them. I had to work overtime just to try and take in the Korean alphabet and keep up with the Spanish, French, Cantonese, and Japanese that came my way. Add to that an instructor who takes to hitting me when I write a Korean character incorrectly and you have a recipe for something I might enjoy a little too much. 

"No," my teacher said, with a wallop to my shoulder. "Left to right."

I would have asked her if she had a whip if I had the Korean language proficiency to be that naughty. 

I took a bus this week. I was amazed with its efficiency. Who would think to have electronic fares that could be deducted from toll cards or magnetic strips attached to your phones? The Koreans are truly technologically advanced when it comes to cell phones and public transport. 

Buses are like their own subways - single seats line either side of the walkway to leave room for the standing-room-only passengers. I don't say a word. I put my head against the pane of glass to my left. I feel a draft from the sliding window pulled slightly open in front of me. I look at it and notice a small hammer above its latch. It's held into place by a circular fish eye. I can only assume it would be used to smash open a window should we be sandwiched in some car wreck that the person who decided all buses needed a hammer in this particular location could imagine. I try to envision this inventor's story. I think of Frida Kahlo. I see one of her paintings for a moment before Selma Hayack is waving at me.  A mix of pollution and cold air comb over my face. I breathe deeply. Korea, I think.

I was accosted by this drunk man on my way to meet Loren and Taka. I tried to get a picture of him and the friend that was holding him, but the friend bolted away when I pulled out my camera. It's a shame. I really wanted to make a tee shirt with their picture that said: "True men aren't afraid to hold each other" or "Men get drunk to hold each other in public" or both.

Loren, Taka, and I are not afraid of that. Well, at least Loren and I aren't. Taka was having a lot of fun on Saturday. 

If he was an actor in his dreams, I wouldn't be surprised. His facial expressions made me want to keep taking his picture. 

I like taking photos of So Gee and beautiful desserts. Each melts as easily as a Buddhist monk who shushes me when I talk in a Buddhist Temple.

This is the Abbot at Hwa Gye Sah. He is the first person I ever met at the temple. 

After meditation, I spent about a half hour watching a young girl and her father chase each other around a tree. The Abbot watched with me from a small, plastic chair that was situated at the front of the temple next to some spare remnants of ramen that may have fallen from a lunch devoured earlier in the day. I never spoke to the Abbot. He nodded to me at one time. Then he left. I was alone. I saw a pigeon. I thought about Stacy. I was like, "Wow, this pigeon is pudgy." Then I took its picture. 

It was really camera shy. I managed to get her good side though. It took a lot of bobbing and weaving. I felt like Boom Boom Mancini. He is a boxer from Youngstown, Ohio. Noah told me that. Loren was the one who told me that he's known for killing a Korean boxer. 

"That's interesting," I said.

I didn't say anything after that. We were at a restaurant. We were eating some vanilla and chocolate gelatos. I liked how they had a sprig of mint on each scoop. 

"How do they grow that?" I asked. "It's so little."

"I don't know," Loren said. 

I Don't Do Much This Week Besides Play Tennis, Take Subways, Ride Taxis, and Meditate Upon the Finer Things in Life Like Biodiesel

I had a nice time playing tennis this week. Kent, our resident professional, was able to point out that my backhand grip was a bit too open and therefore sucked.

"It really sucks, mate," he said. "If you don't correct it, you'll die."

"Die?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "I will pulverize you in every game of tennis you play."

"Okay," I said.

I changed my backhand grip after Kent's cordial suggestion. Now I am becoming more of a consistent and deadly player. In fact, after Kent told me how he was trained as a youngster, I suddenly felt more capable of destruction in a competitive tennis fashion.

"Yeah," he told me. "My teacher would show up with one ball to practice. At first, I would rip a winner. Then he would get all pissed and say, 'Now look what you did. I have to go pick that up.' So that's how he trained me - with one ball. After a month or so, he started showing up with two balls. I'd have to keep both of them in play. It was pretty hard, especially when he started making me run around my backhand to hit a forehand or vice-versa."

"Sounds great."

"It's a good way to learn."

"I feel more capable of being patient and destroying competitors."

"That is what I am here to teach."

Kent and I played a couple of old guys. I made fun of them before we played. I called them "nilly willy's" and then tried to spit in their drinks. Luckily, Kent stopped me before I made too much of a fool of myself. 

"That's not the way to pulverize competitors," he told me. "You need to show them your evil- death-grip-backhand."

"Okay," I said. 

I pulled out my death-grip. It wasn't even a competition. I pulverized them. Kent is a good teacher. He is making me a devilishly, wise tennis professional.

"That's the only way," Kent said

"Yes!" I agreed.

Aside from playing satan tennis, I went to Hwa Gye Sah for a little meditation. On the way, I was surprised at just how many advertisements are in this country. It's like someone threw-up a marketing folder over every building in Korea. I can't even exaggerate this image with some cute, demonic quip. It's just that (see visual) bad. 

While I was at the temple, I saw this quote. I thought about translating it into a better sentence.

I donated a dollar into the donation box instead.

I saw these little Buddhas in the bushes. I thought I was Alice for a second. I looked around for the rabbit. All I found was a beehive. 

Loren was the one who pointed it out. 

"Watch out for the bees!" he said.

"You see the Buddha?"


"That's weird. You saw bees. I saw the Buddha."


"Can I take your picture?"


I took Loren's picture. He stood very still. I thought he looked like an alien or a statue. I couldn't make up my mind. That's when he started doing the robot for a bit. I like it when Loren goes bonkers like that. It's good for our morale. We got to do things like that to keep us honest.

"I'm going to get a bracelet," he said.

"Okay," I said. "I'm going to pee."


"I'll see you down at the front of the temple."

I took a picture down at the front of the temple. It's very beautiful. The cars suck though. If I were the president of the galaxy and had control of Hwa Gye Sah, I would blow up the cars with pumpkins, zucchini, and other things that could be converted into biodiesel fuels. 

As we walked to the subway, I saw a love motel. This is where people do the deed in Korea. There are always these weird car-wash-drapes that hang in front of the driveway entrance to prevent people from seeing car license plates.

I have been to a love motel. They're actually nicer than regular hotels. They usually have 40 inch flatscreen televisions, a jacuzzi, and a big, fluffy bed. You're not really supposed to stay there overnight. Most are just in and out for as long as the deed takes.

I have only stayed overnight.

This is not a comment on my lovemaking skills. It's just a fact.


Loren and I took a subway to two different locations. As we rode in the same direction for a few stops, we witnessed the permissable violence that parents often impose on their children in Korea, as a grandfather smacked his five year old grandson in the forehead. It was quite shocking to behold, especially when the grandson started hitting the grandfather in return. For about three minutes, they exchanged blows. It was difficult to talk about anything as that was happening.

"So, uh..." Loren said. "Um..."

"Yeah," I said. 

"I would like to see how this would look on the blog."

"You mean take a picture?"

"No, talk about it verbally."


Meeting My Father-in-law, Fishing, and Chusook

So Gee told me I had to get gifts before I met her father. "I will buy the gift. Just come to the store," she said.

I came to the store. She bought some lotion for her dad. I bought some cookies for her brother and sister-in-law, who were also supposed to be there for the big meet and greet. 

"You don't have to buy them anything," So Gee harped.

"Okay," I said. "But this way it's like Christmas. I am Pirooz Claus."

So Gee told me to wear a suit to meet her dad. She said this was out of respect. I figured it was because of tattoos and asked her about it.

"Yes," she said. "That too."

I figured I'd go along with the charade. I got a bit grumpy though when the thermostat was peaking at 95 degrees.

"It's hot, " I said.

"I'm sorry," she said. 

When I arrived to meet So Gee's father, her brother was the first to greet me at the door. "You are in trouble, I think," he said, with a very distraught look on his face. I wasn't worried though. Her father seemed immediately a nice man. There was some confusion as to what would happen next, but before I knew it, So Gee grabbed my arm and said, "I think we need to bow to him."

"Okay," I said. 

So Gee's sister-in-law helped me make traditional rice cakes. 

"Spread them thin," she said. "Then put the sesame seeds inside."

"Your English is perfect," I said.

"Oh, thank you," she said.

"It's much better than my ability to make these rice cakes."

"You need to make it bigger," she said.

"Okay," I said. 

I told So Gee's father the history of my family and myself. I told him how I was in a rock band, got a degree in writing, produced television, and met her daughter. I didn't think about what I was saying. I just told him what I thought would be important to know about me. 

During one point of the interview (ahem), So Gee's brother looked at me incredulously and said, "You are a good boy," he smiled. "He thinks you are a good man. That's what he said."

"Good," I said. "I'm glad."

I think the whole event went well. Supposedly we talked for five hours. It seemed like a few minutes to me. I was making rice cakes one moment, and then being invited to future family events the next. 

"Do you want to come meet some of the rest of my family tomorrow?" So Gee asked me. "You are being invited."

"Okay," I said.

It was Chusook, Korean Thanksgiving. We drove to her eldest aunt's home. Then the entire family drove to a restaurant in the countryside. I was introduced as "OPIRUS" - the name of a car made by Hyundai. "Just take away the 'O', " one family member said to the other. 

That made me laugh continuously. "Yes!" I said. "Oh, Pirooz!"

The youngest of the family spoke English, but were very cautious about their new uncle. It wasn't until I sang "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King that they started to smile a bit more. 

"Why are you making animal noises?" one nephew said.

"I like to make animal noises," I said. "It's also easier than speaking English. We can just speak animal today."

I tried to communicate with the chickens near the restaurant. None of them wanted to run away with me. 

One of So Gee's cousins (above) is a producer of Korean films. I was invited to come to a production at the end of October. 

"I would love to have you there," she said.

"Yeah, it'd be great," I said. "Can I take pictures?"

"I'll clear it with the director."


Her daughter constantly clung to her mother's leg the whole day. 

"She is afraid of men," So Gee's brother told me. 

So Gee's mother and aunt had fun relaxing in the shade. Every once in a while they would make a joke about me and laugh. I liked that. I had no idea what they said. It made me feel like Kevin Costner in "Dances with Wolves". I liked that feeling. 

So Gee's father announced that his son and I would fish for the family after lunch. I tried to accommodate his wishes. They had no fishing gear, and I was ill-prepared in the shoe department. I cut my feet pretty badly on the sharp rocks in the river bed. I wasn't mad about the suffering I went through though. 

"Now I know to wear sandals while walking through a river," I told So Gee.

"Good," she said. 

My feet look worse. 

One of So Gee's uncles got a raw egg from the hen house. He poked holes in either side with one of my pens and drained it in "one shot". 

Like almost all of So Gee's family, he was a school principal before retiring. 

So Gee's uncle (above) is told that he must drink an egg by his wife (right). They are full of love and playful. In fact, these two seem to be my strongest supporters. The uncle spent some years in Iran, and seems to draw a connection with those times and the Persian he sees before him now. He jokes with me, while she often smacks my arm and says something I can only assume is humorous and playful.

One of So Gee's aunts is still a functioning school principal. She fell asleep in the shade. I couldn't resist doing strange hand motions around her head to bring her back from the dead. 

No one seemed to mind my reverent irreverence. 

Everyone soon took a nap once the fishing, egg drinking, and chatting had finished. I was asked if I wanted a beer. I said, "No." 

I think So Gee's mother was pleased with how the past two days had transpired. She walked me to a taxi and held my hand. 

So Gee called me later that night. "I am proud of you," she said. "Things went so well. I'm surprised. How are you? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," I said. "Your family is nice. I don't mind hanging out with them. As long as it's two hours at a stretch, I can handle anything."

"Well, you better get ready. We're going to have a family trip in October. That's three days with my family."

"As long as I can get a nap or do something different after a while, my body will be okay."

"Okay, babe. I'll see you tomorrow for tennis."

"Okay," I said. 

Married on Paper as of 9-11-08: Festivities Ensue

So Gee and I are now officially married on paper. We have no idea when we will have a ceremony. Our guess is that it'll happen once we get situated in Los Angeles. I have no idea though. I still haven't met her father. That happens tomorrow. Apparently, we're supposed to go mountain hiking. That sounds fun. I'm sure everything will be perfect as it is. 

As far as other festivities, we did get to hang out with some of our special friends in Korea during the week. 

Dustin is getting a book published. He also wants to be set-up on another date. "I promise I'll be nicer this time," he says. 

So Gee gets shuffleboard tips from David K - otherwise known as the "all knowing Oz".

I took this photo while standing on a sewer grate in Itaehwon. I like pictures like this. I like cities when they feel just like this.

We crashed a wedding. I was supposed to meet and hob knob with So Gee's best friends. I didn't know this. I talked to Loren about gambling the whole time. Then we gambled. I lost $100 in five minutes. Loren made $400.  

This past Sunday I had pancakes with walnuts and bananas. I have been eating a lot of desserts. I think they taste good. 

So Gee's favorite restaurant is a Mexican place near the apartment. I like it when they let me wear a sombrero. 

June and David are about to lose to So Gee and Seul Gi in a mad-crazy game of shuffleboard. 

Loren prefers Jenga.