Hogwan Unfunnies: And I’m an Adult!

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , on May 27, 2016 by shenanitim

Yesterday, one of the lines the kids had to read from the book said, “He cuts the cheese on a platic board.”

It took ALL my self-control to keep from falling on the floor laughing.

I mean, I laughed (who wouldn’t?), but I managed to contain it to giggles and not full-on, uncontrollable, tears streaming from my eyes, prepubescent girl giggles. Probably the closest I’ve come to appearing human in the classroom.

갈 샌 이에요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , on May 25, 2016 by shenanitim


(Translation: It is brown.)

This week was all about colors. All seven of them. Or five of them if you don’t count black and white as actual colors. (I usually don’t; please see the Beastie Boys’ “Namaste” for the reason why.)

Now one challenging aspect this week was the class quiz. Mainly how I’m quizzed shortly after learning the new vocabulary. (I was given five minutes to learn these seven words plus three new verbs and three phrases.) What does one do when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds? Break out the old word association trick!

검은 샌 – “black” (com-un sek); was my the first association. Black shirts are painfully common amonst metal/punk rock fans, and hence the natural association.

파란 샌 -“blue” (par-ran sek); another easy one. My eyes are blue. I have parents. 파란’s syllabic breakdown almost matches that of parents making this a no brainer. Anyone without blue eyes will have to figure out their own.

간 샌 – “brown” (kal sek); my most amusing association. We had a belief at Target about what the ultimate call-out illness was. And without question it was diarrhea. You can’t control it, no one else wants to be around it (or share a bathroom with someone with it), and its essentially untraceable. If you call out and claim to have the flu, everyone’s going to think back to your last shift and try to remember if you seemed sick. All this condition needs is one piece of undercooked meat and you’re well on your way to food posioning! So “call sek” quickly became “call (in) sick.”

흰 색 – “white” (heem sek); was the outlier. The one word I couldn’t think of an associative link to, thus making it special in its own right. (For the record, I wasn’t ignoring 빨간 샌 (red), 노란 색 (yellow), or 녹 색 (green) on purpose, but I only had five minutes, which was just enough time to conjure up the four I had.

I also had my own “Who’s On First?” moment at work the following day. While reading through my Korean book, I saw a grammar rule pertaining to (basic) sentence creation. Namely, if you attach “이에요” or “예요” after an adjective, you’ll get “It is ____.”

Which is perfect, something eminently useful that I sussed out on my own! (Granted, there was a huge assist coming from the book. But I worked out the mechanics on my own.) So naturally I wanted to double-check my work at work today with our Korean teacher. To see if I was as smart as I was feeling.

Which is where we enter the “Who’s…” territory. Since I was unsure about my findings, I naturally asked the Korean teacher if “파란 색 이에요” means “It is blue.” The reply was that it was “Is it blue?” because the intonation given by me was one of a question. Starting the long unraveling process as I tried to explain that my question was intended as a statement, only sounding unsure because I wasn’t sure whether I was doing everything correct.

As you can imagine, the whole thing was as funny as Abbott and Costello’s original (boring) skit. To me, at least, as I think the Korean teacher found it all amusing.

Celebrity Love Skunk

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on May 21, 2016 by shenanitim

Success! Or even more success, if that’s even possible! Apparently Hurrican Jia is doing me proud; even when in someone else’s class.

Hurricane’s class was learning to use “over” as a preposition (“the pencil is over there”). But I had used it previously in class (probably their first introduction to it) as a phrase (“okay guys, class is over“).

So now Hurricane’s waging a war with the teacher over who’s correct; whether “over” means “finished” or as an indicator of a place. I almost feel sorry for the teacher here, as I named her “Hurricane” for a reason. This is a fight the new guy’s not going to win. While Jia might be domesticating slightly (becoming more “lady-like”), her world is still very black-and-white. And I’m still Tim Teacher. The sun rises and sets with me as far as these kids are concerned; a devotion that I can’t even fathom.

Speaking of unfathomables, why the new guy didn’t just tell them that over has two different uses is also beyond me. I do it all the time – “It means both. You can use it both ways. I know, I know, it’s confusing. That’s why English is so hard to learn, and why you’re so smart.”

욱, 칠, 팔, 구,십: A Success Story

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2016 by shenanitim


Pictured above is positive proof that my Korean lessons are working. And thus that this week’s homework is coming along nicely.

The soda above marks the first time since I’ve been in Korea that I’ve understood the whole price as the cashier’s saying it, “천 오 백 원.” (Chon oh beak won (₩ 1,500; ~$1.50).)

My homework this week was to become fluent, better acquainted really, with Korean currency and numbers. Mission accomplished! It’s only Tuesday, and I already have proof positive that whatever I’m doing is working.

욱, 칠, 팔, 구, 십

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on May 16, 2016 by shenanitim


(Translation: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

And then, just like that, everything was fine. Better than fine actually, even if I was disappointed by my lackadaysical study habits last week.

My weekly test went over well; I’m still the student who’s pushing himself way too hard. Have to be the best, I have to be the best. My new class mantra since I took some certification courses at SPC.


We covered numbers this week (well, half of the numbers), as well as Korean currency. Which will be extremely useful going forward. Granted, I’m docking myself some points for wasting this class period as learning the 2nd half of the Korean integers was actually a thought I had last week. (I had breezed through learning the phrases, so felt I should challenge myself with something more. But I never pulled the trigger on actually writing down the integers I didn’t know (6, 7, 8, and 9); so I effectively blew a chance to learn something new instead covering something that should’ve been done a year ago.

Live and learn I guess.

Learn faster than I have in the past. My introduction to Korean numbers and currency was literally my second day in country. My boss had one of other foreign teachers take me out to lunch. Along with giving me a crashcourse in chopstickery, the poor, unsuspecting teacher also tried to give me the low down on basic Korean number theory. 만 is ten thousands, 천 is thousands. Unfortunately, one’s second day in country is way too soon to start being concerned with reading prices. Especially since with debit cards reading prices is an altogether antiquated skill.

Not to mention that on day two of Korea, I was still facing down this beast:


Along with numbers and currency, I also learned that my teacher apparently has a fascination with making fun of me. She doesn’t understand why, and I’m cool with it because I can’t even tell when I’m being made fun of.  Maybe I’m too serious? Who knows?

And who cares? I mean, have you seen “the Haunted Stroller?” I have, in an actual theater. And there I was, projected huge on-screen, making an ass out of myself by flubbing my lines. Flubbing lines in a movie I helped write. So clearly my ego’s pretty malleable.

I was also taught my first Korean pick-up line (“Hello, do you have the time?”). Sadly this week’s homework wasn’t to go out, use it, and then report my progress. That would’ve been the perfect cap to a pretty great birthday week. As well as providing more jist for the humor mill.


Sadly, this week was the final week for someone who might’ve been the longest running member of the group. This is doubly bad because, as an American, he was someone I could actually talk to during the group’s occasional dinner. Plus he always had tons of questions about Korea, which provided me with an example of how students should (probably) be acting. Rather than my attempted approximation.

Now I’ll truly have to be the best student. Put up or shut up time.

안녕 히 가세요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on May 14, 2016 by shenanitim


: Goodbye (from a person who is leaving to a person who is staying).)

Aargh, two steps forward, one step back?

While I technically didn’t do “bad” this week, my Korean teacher’s homework expressly stated that I am to learn dialogue from my Korean textbook’s first chapter (no problem), be able to write said dialogue (natch), and also practice my pronounciation.


The added stress there, the fact that pronounciation was made a stand alone point, is going to drive me crazy all week. I should’ve studied harder, I should’ve studied harder

Granted, my teacher said plenty of times that I was doing good, and the only difficulties I had with words were, to my memory, words and phrases that we (myself and last week’s replacement teacher) didn’t focus on.

But still, not being in that elusive above 100 class percentile is going to drive me batty. Or motivate me to greater heights.  So maybe tonight will be remembered one day as the night when I redoubled my efforts.

Milk Soda!

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , , on May 9, 2016 by shenanitim

People who know me generally recognize two things. One, I love soda. I will drink it until I’m sick, and then switch to cider in an ill-fated attempt to ward off the sickness. Two, I can’t stand milk. (“Milk” in general, as I’m an unrepentant fan of banana milk, and also more recently watermelon milk.) I frequently paraphrase some quote I read a million years ago about how humans are the only animals who continue drinking milk waaay past their infancy stage of development.


It was with a mix of apprehension and bewilderment that I approached milk soda. It can’t possibly be good, can it? So we were at a stalmate. Neither side having a reason to move. Until finally a detente was reached.

See, recently I’ve taken to actually fighting low blood sugars the way my doctor’s had originally taught (i.e. eat and drink something). So I finally broke down and tried milk soda one day when my foot decided to stop functioning.


The verdict? Well, it turns out milk soda is a bit of a misnomer. It doesn’t actually taste like milk, or soda. In fact, I believe the stuff in this particular can was blue. (Obviously the drink in the plastic bottle was white colored, but I didn’t need that much mystery drink.)

Now, I’m not a farmer, I stopped drinking milk a long time ago, and I certainly had no friends in the 4H club, but I’m pretty sure milk isn’t blue. At least in the States, as I’ve had another bovine-themed drink over here (Slow Cow) which is also blue. But that hails from Canada (or 캐나다, as I learned in class this week!), and thus is beyond the scope of this particular review.

한국 말을찰몰라요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on May 6, 2016 by shenanitim

(Translation: I don’t speak Korean very well.)

“I want to go to England and speak English.” – dialogue heard in my class’ Listening book.

That’s a good goal, I thought. We ARE supposed to set “realistic goals” when learning a foreign language. Hell, my Korean teacher flat out told me that I needed to make one. Asked me what it was even! Then stressed the “realistic goal” part again after I replied that I “wanted to know everything.”

What can I say? I went to Neil Armstrong Elementary and the school’s motto was “Reach For the Stars.” Stars aren’t exactly low-hanging fruit.

My Korean teacher’s goal in learning English was “to be able to understand 80% of a conversation in English” when she visited the US. Mission accomplished as she speaks English very well.

So then I thought, maybe I could hijack this Listening book’s character’s goal and use it as my own. “I want to visit Korea and speak Korean.” Would that be a realistic goal? But wait, I already live in Korea. Crap, I’ve done this all wrong. The whole “cart before the horse” thing I used to read about. Back to the drawing board…

Would being able to properly use 안녕 히 가세요 vs 안녕 히 계세요 count? The first, 안녕 히 가세요, is used to say goodbye by the party who’s staying (i.e. not going anywhere). The other, 안녕 히 계세요, is (obviously) used by whomever is leaving. Basically, it amounts to a difference of “-kah” vs. “-kay” on a pronounciation level. And is infuriating to remember. (Kah vs. kay, kah vs. kay, Oh my God the transaction’s done and the cashier’s saying good-bye; which one?)

Would focusing on learning on how to say good-bye correctly be considered a full-fledged goal? Or is it more of a sub-goal?

I mean, my doctor had a mighty good time (and laugh) when I attempted to say good-bye properly to him. (In all fairness, I would’ve been fine had he not stopped and stressed his good-bye. Which made me immediately think that I had screwed mine up. Until he threw out that he was staying, which is why he said what he did. Argh, the one time a Korean talks slowly, and it (almost) messes me up! 

On the flipside, high from the (ultimately) successful doctor dismount, I totally bungled the following pharmacy dialogue. Rather than the kind hearted laughter I received from my doctor after hearing an unsure foreigner attempt to speak his language, I just got a “ha ha, isn’t that cute” stare from the pharmacy staff. Probably because I used the staying (안녕 히 가세요) version of good-bye.

Which is the equivalent of seeing a short kid reaching for that top branch apple that’s clearly still too far out of reach. But I have time, and plenty of people to practice with.

이거 뭐라고 헤요?

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on April 27, 2016 by shenanitim

(Translation: What is this called?)


So another week, and another Korean lesson. But a self-taught lesson this time, as last Sunday only my teacher showed up to the class. Leaving one teacher and three students with vastly differing skill levels. (Possibly – the one student is clearly more advanced than me, and I believe I’m more advanced than the other student. But that student’s writing a thesis on bio-technology or something, so he’s busy advancing his career. I’m just trying to avoid having to choose one.) So class was kiboshed and we were instead taken to Deokjin Park to stroll around. Which was strange because while it’s nice to hang out with people (I guess), I didn’t learn anything, review anything, and it all felt like being the 3rd, 4th, or 5th wheel on a date between my teacher and the hagwon owner/program director.

To make matters worse, my teacher (who’s a actual Korean teacher in “real” life) has some sort of school trip this coming weekend. So I’ll be paired up with a different teacher come this Sunday.


Refusing to accept fate’s hand, I’m using this week to continue practicing my 13 or so Korean phrases as well as add a few new ones to the mix. Because I’ll be damned if I’m gonna sit stagnate for two weeks.

Fun fact: my teacher did seem surprised that I have listened to as much K-Pop as I have. Though, really, knowing 2NE1 should be a given the world over, as Crush is amazing, and Boa who, while batting 50/50 on the albums of her’s I’ve heard, is still awesome enough for me not to give up hope.

The Future (Still) Sucks

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Oldies But Baddies with tags , , , , on April 26, 2016 by shenanitim


So approximately one billion years ago, or May 7th, 2014, whichever is closer, the Venture Compound had an art show called “the Future Sucks.” Clearly confused, they then asked Armzka Productions to participate. After all, Armzka is, at its core, one-half talented art guy and one-half loudmouth blowhard. Case in point – we agreed, and then had to work on an idea. I had none naturally, besides an overriding desire for the past 6 months to create and use a working greenscreen.

After a number of trips to Home Depot, tons of PVC bought, PVC cutters also bought, and a lazy Sunday afternoon spent waiting in line at some linen store packed with geriatrics, we had a workable frame and sufficient green cloth. I think we also bought some floodlights to augment what Leigh already had. And we were set!

For failure. It turns out while you technically can make a greenscreen for around $40 using a limited base of construction knowledge and a lot of trial and error, it’s not going to look that good. Not even good enough for Armzka’s level of “professionalism.” So Leigh ordered a real kit off of Amazon.


While we may not be proud of the process (or, at least,  I’m not), we are stoked with the results! So there it is in all its glory. We also had a television streaming the footage set up in the gallary so that your friends could stand around and laugh while you acted the fool in front of video footage (ripped and stitched together from archive.org) that you couldn’t see. Great times were had by all.

So here the night is, as chronicled by one of our friends as we were too busy running back and forth making sure all the pieces didn’t fall apart.


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