Greetings, dear readers, and welcome to a completely arbitrary update about my life, interests, hobbies, and thoughts. As you’re aware, the holiday season is upon us once again. It’s cold outside, and it’s even snowed a little here in Seoul. So, I thought this would be a good time to bundle up, find a cozy spot indoors, and update this here blog. Nothing terribly exciting, but stick with me for a few minutes. I’ll try to make it worth your time.
A Disturbance in the Force
For starters, there’s been a change in my plans for 2019. I had made arrangements to come back to the USA and write for a year, but those plans have unfortunately fallen through. (Long story short: trust no one.) I’m not exactly sure where that leaves me just yet, but I’ve got 2-3 months to figure it out. Wish me luck. I’ll update again when I know something more concrete.
Go East, Young Man
In the meantime, here’s some better news. My winter vacation plans are fully green-lighted and ready to go. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this year’s adventures will take me to Bucharest, Romania, then over to Budapest (via train), up into Poland, and finally to Moscow and St.Petersburg. I’ve got an amazing itinerary mapped out, but I don’t want to say too much about it, because it might ruin the element of surprise when I post my daily vlogs from the road. Be sure to subscribe to my fledgling YouTube channel so you won’t miss anything. (No joke, I’ll send postcards to all my subscribers.)
When in Russia…
On a related note, I’ve decided to end this year (and begin 2019) with something of a literary endurance test. Because I’ll be traveling in Russia and eastern Europe, I think now is as good a time as any to dive into Leo Tolstoy’s 1444-page magnum opus, War and Peace. My students were amazed at the size of this book when I brought it to class not long ago, so I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces when I tell them that I’m actually going to read it. I’ll keep you updated on my progress in the aforementioned vlogs.
Today is the Greatest. Know Why?
Speaking of great works of art, I’m extremely happy to report that the Smashing Pumpkins have just released a new album. It’s called Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol.1 and it’s pretty awesome. A lot of Pumpkins fans are happy that 3 of the 4 original members of the band are reunited on this album (and that is great!), but truthfully, I’ve enjoyed both incarnations of the band, so it doesn’t really make or break things for me one way or the other. I’m just happy to have new Pumpkins music in my ears.
If you’re one of those fans who tuned out after the Mellon Collie era, please allow me to suggest that you check out (if nothing else) Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, Oceania, and Billy Corgan’s solo album Ogilala. You can thank me later.
J-Jitsu: Legend of the White Belt
A couple of months back I mentioned something about starting jiu-jitsu lessons with one of my co-workers. I know it probably sounded like one of those crazy ideas I often play around with and then forget about, but nope: I have indeed started taking jiu-jitsu. I’ve only had five or six lessons thus far, so obviously I’m not what you’d call an expert. If anything, it’s only made me realize how clumsy and uncoordinated I am – and how I really need to get a better handle on my eating habits. (It’s no fun being the only guy who gets out of breath doing the warm-up exercises.) But I do enjoy it and a couple of people have told me they’re already seeing a little bit of progress in my technique. Honestly, it’s like a more disciplined version of the backyard wrestling I used to do with my buddy Jeff and the kids in my neighborhood growing up – minus the DDTs and elbow drops off the swingset, of course. I’ve had to sit it out for the past week or so due to a chest cold that started veering dangerously close to pneumonia (don’t need that sneaking up on me and ruining another vacation), but with any luck I’ll be back in the gi by the end of this week. We’ll see.
Taking it to the Next Level
The last thing I have to mention this time around is, of all things, the Heaven’s Gate cult a.k.a. those people who killed themselves so they could ride on the UFO back in 1997. Of all the crazy news stories the Nineties gave us, Heaven’s Gate was the one I was most fascinated with. Some of you might remember that I framed two issues of Newsweek about them and had them hanging on my bedroom wall. Others might recall that time I got in trouble for pulling up their website in our high school library. A select few might even have read the short story I wrote based on their ideology. It went over very well in my junior college creative writing class.
Well anyway, after years of only seeing their materials in snippets and highlight reels I was surprised to discover that almost all of the Heaven’s Gate videos, including the farewells they recorded before they “exited their vehicles,” are now available in their entirety on YouTube. Open rabbit hole. Insert J.
Tell me I’m not the only one who gets lost in this crap and I’ll write a more detailed post about it later.
For now, this is J signing off. Like I said, this isn’t the most interesting or well-written update I’ve ever posted, but I’m heavily medicated right now. Thanks for bearing with me.