A-sa~~
Monday, November 13, 2006
  A Victimless Crime
By COY ASKEW
A-sa~~ Editor-At-large

What was once my heart is now a black, angry mass of bitterness and regret.

And all, of course, because of a woman.

Has it really been a year since that fateful night at Nori? The night we all came to think of as The Night We Lost Everything?

It boggles the mind.

Everything has change, and yet nothing has changed.

And it's all because of Janus Goodykoontz.

While one should never underestimate the power of a woman, Janus was particularly powerful on the part of the fate of A-sa~~. She forced us all the get our shit together and move into Seoul. Yes, no longer does the staff of A-sa mentally masturbate in Incheon. We now all work full time on A-sa. We print 5,000 copies twice a month! Of course, during the process of this growth Janus managed to destroy me, only to rebuild me in her own image.

In fact, Janus is now the editor of the magazine. She has such great people skills that I kind of just lurk in the background. Generally, no one likes me and I know that. So, I let her do all the people stuff. I just kind of grunt when something needs to get done that she can't use her black magic on.

But there is so much going on. It's hard to begin. Janus and I have a very complex relationship, to say the least. She is my rock of strength and yet she is my greatest weakness. She somehow manages to simultaneously to be the most delightful thing in my life while terrorizing me arbitrarily and capriciously.

It all boils down to her being both a dream and a nightmare. I have to work with her every day. I like her and she really helps me a lot when I need her. And yet, the closer I get to her, the less I feel I know her or can ever be her friend in the traditional sense. We work well together and there is a lot of positive energy between us. But whenever she senses I'm getting to close to her, I see the other, dark side of her. She continues to break my heart with a quirky, cute grin on her face.

Take, for instance, the most recent event.

She lives in Sinchon and I live in Haybonchon near Itaewon. Yonsi University is right across the street from her place and the A-sa staff often goes over there just to hang out. This particular night, it was just me, Janus and her male-friend-of-the-moment Fred. Fred and I were stretched out on her floor while she was on her bed.

"So, Janus, what we going to do for the picture of the next issue?" I asked.

"Oh. I don't know. I think one of my friends might come up with something," she said.

I was futzing with the staff camera the magazine had recently bought.

"Janus, have you been working on your astrological chart like I asked?" Fred said.

At this point, something in my unconscious mind led me to believe Janus was not thinking about magazine stuff, but rather the fact that two men were in her bed room, one of them being Fred..

Looking back, I should have just left at that point. Any time me staying in that room was like the frog that begins to get boiled but won't leave because he can't feel the slow increase in temperature. She couldn't help but thinking about the fact that Fred was in her bedroom. I didn't leave, in part, because Janus told me to stay.

"Uh, guys, you know, I think I'm going to take off. You two can hang out along," I said.

"Oh, Coy, what are you talking about? Stay and talk. We have so much magazine stuff to talk about!" Janus said, all but fluttering her eyes.

So I stayed.

Soon, however, the sexual energy between Fred and Janus was just too much.

She stood up and in her usually cute as hell manner, all but did a shimmy of sparkling sexuality on top of Fred's head.

Agasp at such rude behavior from such a usually adorable woman, I stood up and did a walk of shame to the subway.

I still can't believe she did that. What was she thinking? Could she not control herself or was she trying to prove a point? Was she trying to remind me, yet again, that no matter what she would never, ever be mine in the traditional sense.

Anyway.

At least we get 5,000 copies twice a month. Without Janus, that would never have been possible.
 
Friday, February 10, 2006
  Miss Bright Eyes Meets Mr. Dark Energy Man
By CALEB JONES
A-sa Staff Writer

It was really at The Bar where things went totally nuts. Soju was really on a tear the entire night. He really seemed like he had some issues he needed to get worked out through drinking vast somes of booze.

It was funny how when Soju came into The Bar that he tried to be all cool and bang knuckles with the DJ, but it all got mixed up. Soju came in for the knuckled smack, but the DJ thought he wanted to shake his hand and everything got confused. I couldn't help but grin at the stupidity of it all. Soju thinks he's all hip and stuff but he's such a screw up.

Anyway.

The place was pretty crowded, but a few people were leaving just as we came in, so the group of us were able to pretty much sit no problem. I'll try to tell you want I can remember. It's a blur now. Eve wasn't drinking that night, so that kept me a bit more sober than I would have been otherwise.

Soju was acting totally crazy, man. He kept ordering tequila shots. Soju has always been something of a lady's man so he started chatting up girls left and right. Once he gets some booze in him, just watch out. He's going end up touching someone inappropriately before the night's over. It's amazing he doesn't get smacked more.

"Do you know my grandmother was Korean?" he told a delightful young Korean girl.

"Really?" she said

"Yes, chin-cha!" Soju said. He had a crazy look on his face like he was going as far into oblivion as he could without killing himself or someone else.

Even in the darkness, I could see Soju was starting to touch the young lady just a little as they were dancing. Sigh.

"Dude, slow the fuck down," Coy kept saying to Soju.

Soju ignored him.

I don't know what is up between Soju and Coy these days. Soju's really been irritated with Coy of late. I think it's the whole helping him get extra money thing. I think how poorly he treated Shelly at the end is starting to eat away at him. Yeah, he got the money, but at what price man. What price?

Anyway, the evening starting rock soon enough.

That's when I saw it -- a girl was totally macking on Coy.

"Eve, do you see that?" I said.

"What?"

"That girl! That girl is totally luminous and she's talking to Coy. How is that possible? She all but sparkles and Mr. Dark Energy is getting some serious positive attention from her."

"Maybe they know each other from somewhere else," Eve said.

"Yeah. Coy is so damn secretive. I mean Naborat Jeebas, man." I said, eying the large collection of shot glasses around us.

"You ever wonder why Coy is so secretive?" Eve said.

"Yeah. All the time. I don't know. It makes you wonder. People who are secretive usually have something to hide."

"But could it be something else?"

"Like what?"

"Well, maybe it's not so much he has something to hide as it is he is projecting his own internal thought process on everybody else," she said.

"So, you're saying that maybe Coy knows how fucked up he is, so he's afraid that other people are just as fucked up and will use anything he says against him later?"

"Exactly, baby. I bet Coy doesn't really have all that many secrets, but I'm sure -- just sure -- his mind is one fucked up place."

Eve and I looked in amazement as this simply stunning young lady went in for the kill.

"Guys, get a room or something," I playfully whispered into Eve's ear.
 
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
  The Night We Lost Everything: Prelude
By COY ASKEW
A-SA~~ Editor

It's one of those things were you look back and you're not all that proud of yourself for what happened, but you admit that it happened nonetheless.

In the aftermath of Shelly leaving A-sa~~ we were all so emotionally drained that we decided we needed to do something to lift our collective spirits.

So we had a Christmas party in Itaewon.

It happened because we got a new guy, Orville Mulberry as our copy editor.

I have enough pull in my hagwon that the director pretty much lets me pick the new staff. And so when I saw Orville Mulberry's resume and mug shot, I knew he would be perfect for our hagwon. I took one look at him and knew this dude wasn't going to cause any trouble, unlike Shelly. This dude, I could trust to just be quiet and let me do my thing. Unlike Shelly, I could tell from the expression on his face that he wouldn't ask so many damn annoying questions.

I met Orville at the Starbucks in Bupyoung. I immediately took a shining to him. I didn't feel threatened by him at all. He's short -- even shorter than Shelly -- and he seemed like he would be a breath of fresh air compared to Shelly's constant know-it-allism.

I was so over joyed with Orville coming to A-sa that I asked our director if he would give us a few extra bucks so the entire staff could go to Itaewon and have a Christmas party. Given that our hagwon is all the way in Unyoung Dong, that is no simple request. It takes a long damn time to get to Itaewon from Unyoung Dong, so I was pulling my weight to get him to pay for all of it.

But he did.

I've looked at our school's books -- he needs me to keep the place going. I'm a damn good teacher and I could very well be the one thing keeping the place afloat.

I leave, and that's all she wrote.

So he looked at me, paused to calculate the risk of saying no to his bottom line and quickly said yes to my proposal.

So that's how it was that Orville, Soju, Eve, Caleb, Lester, the Korean staff and me all ended up in Itaewon this weekend.

We started in at Seoul Pub. I love the place 'cause its so dark and comfortable. Orville doesn't drink and he's kinda fussy about smoke, so I had to tell him to just deal with the situation. After I barked at him for being such a fuddy-duddy he was quiet.

Soju was in rare form. He seemed like he totally wanted to drink himself into oblivion. I think he's been dating someone and just hasn't told us. It hasn't escaped my attention how he's been going to the local Buy The Way three or four times a day. I think -- but don't know -- that he's dating one of the cute girls who work at the Buy The Way. I don't know why he would keep stuff like that from me.

I'm his friend, for Christ's sake.
 
  A Zipper Escapes
By BOBBY "SOJU" TUTTLE
A-SA~~ Sr. Reporter

Naborat Je-bass, do I hate Coy Askew.

He is so insecure and at the same time so controlling that he makes working with him virtually unbearable.

I say virtually only because the mofo has so much pull at my hagwon that he was able to get me a nice little raise when I re-negotiated my contract a few months ago. All I got to say to Shelly is -- sucks to be you, bunghole.

It's not like Shelly didn't have every opportunity to prevent himself from being expelled from our hagwon. If only he'd played his cards right. If he'd been a bit more adept at working his split tongued magic on Coy instead of his little lady, he'd still be here.

Dumb ass.

But back to Coy.

What's so funny about Coy is he did everything in his power to oust Shelly from the editorship of A-sa~, and then...nothing. He plopped his fat ass in the editor's chair and proceeded to do not one thing different than when he was copy editor. Hell, I pretty much run the damn newspaper these days. All Coy does is come in and futz with the new camera he bought. I haven't seen the man actually take one picture with the thing. It's a nice camera, too. A-sa would look a lot better if he'd get off his fat ass and take a picture now and then.

I kinda feel sorry for Shelly. After it became clear that he wasn't as good a teacher as Coy, everyone else on the hagwon staff was in such fear of Coy that we sucked on his man titties as quick as we could so we could keep our jobs. There simply wasn't anything Shelly could do but sit out the clock. No one talked to him near the end, even though all of us had something to say. We just wanted to make sure Coy was happy. When Shelly left that last night, I didn't even say goodbye. I still feel kinda bad about that. But the money, man, the money. Saying goodbye to that man could have cost me a few thousand dollars in the long run.

Having said all that, you can imagine how happy I was when Coy said something about us all going to Itaewon for a Christmas party.

The last few months I've not been drinking all that much -- I have a "secret" girlfriend at the local Buy The Way. She doesn't drink that much and she's been controlling how much I drink. We kinda sorta broke up in the last few months and so I don't have any reason not to drink as much as I wish.

I tried to keep her existence away from Coy given what a jackass he can be, but I don't know how successful I was. It's just one of those things.

Anyway, it was in the bathroom of Seoul Pub that it happened -- the zipper of my cargo pants popped off. I stared down at my crotch in disbelief -- how often does one's zipper pop off?

My mind began to race -- should I tell Coy? Could I tell Coy? Was there any way I could walk around without a zipper? What should I do? What could I do?

After a moment's panic, it occurred to me that the solution was simple -- safety pins

Of course, given how Coy had seemingly become the dark lord of the A-sa staff, I couldn't very well walk over to my co-workers and tell them I needed to buy safety pins so my willy wouldn't pop out of my now exposed nether regions.

So I quickly called my now ex-girlfriend and explained the situation. After a moment's chuckle she said sure and promised to call me after a few minutes.

I walked over to the rest of the A-sa staff, hoping they wouldn't notice in the the darkness of Seoul Pub that I was momentarily sans zipper.

It seemed like a lifetime before I felt my phone wiggle in my pocket.

"Well, guys, I gotta call, I gotta go outside and take it. Talk to you in a moment, ok?" I said, eyeing Coy to make sure he believed me.

Coy nodded his consent and I headed into the darkness, hoping I could find some safety pins somewhere.
 
Monday, December 19, 2005
  Of Course I Noticed
By Caleb Jones
Ahssa! Staff Reporter

Of course I noticed.

How I could I not notice that Soju's fly was open.

It wasn't just open, it was open and ready for business.

There was a grand opening, 20 percent off sale going on down there.

Despite the fact that Coy is always flirting with Eve, I didn't even put up a struggle when we got invited to the A-sa~~ Christmas party. Shrug. Eve and mine's relationship is strong enough that we should be able to handle stuff like that.

Things have really been changing of late.

Shelly's gone, we got a new guy and people have been "promoted." Not that it really means anything. I've just met Orville and already the guy is beginning to get on my nerves. He sounds like Elmer Fudd and is the definition of "meelie mouth." And he touched my girlfriend!

We were on the way to Seoul Pub when it happened.

Eve, being the friendly person that she is, was chatting with Orville. Orville had this big shit eating grin on his face.

"So, how long you and Caleb been seeing each other?" he asked.

"Oh, about two years. We met in university," she said.

"It's about time you two get married, huh," he said touching her waist.

I'm not typically a jealous guy, but that was just too much. Something about the way he did it rubbed me the wrong way. I let it go, though. Whatever.

I'm going to keep an eye on that little punk, though.

Once we got to Seoul Pub, our reserved spot was waiting for us and we started to settle down for a quick drink before we headed over to Itaewon's Greek restaurant.

I'm a pretty affectionate guy when it comes to Eve, so we sat next to each other. I'm really big into PDA. That's just me. Something about when I'm dating someone makes me want to feel brief touches of their skin here and there.

"I think Orville likes you," I whispered wetly into Eve's ear.

After a somewhat alarmed look passed her face, she lowered her head onto mine and giggled.

A few moments later, Soju came back from the bathroom. He'd gone to the bathroom for what seemed like a million years.

"What happen, did you fall in or something?" I asked him.

"No." he said.

I looked at Soju. These days he looks puffy and pale. He looks "dissipated" as my mother would say.

After a moment, his phone rang and he left to take the call somewhere a bit more quiet.
 
Sunday, December 18, 2005
  Apso on the safety-pin yo?
By BOBBY "SOJU" TUTTLE
A-sa~ Senior Reporter

Closing my phone after talking to my ex, I entered the darkness of Itaewon wondering where the hell I was going to get safety pins. The idea of putting safety pins so close to my tingly bits didn't really appeal to me, but that the hell else was I going to do? Walk around with my fly wide open?

I turned to my right and walked into the little store right next to the pub. A couple -- obviously GIs from the nearby base -- were walking around doing their little thing. They seemed like they might be at the very beginning of their relationship. She was cute. She was one of those women who was simply bigger than me. She wasn't fat, just bigger. Or, upon further reflection, she probably was just my size. But she one of those chyks that it would look odd if she dated someone about her height. She needed a big lug of a guy, much like the guy she was with at the moment. He looked friendly enough.

"....I was thinking of going to Yongsan and getting Mr. & Mrs Smith..."I heard him say.

"You're just want to see it for the babe, don't you," she said teasingly. "You might as well have said, 'I'm going to get a bootleg copy of a movie so I can ogle Angelia Jolie's boobies.'"

I was too busy looking for the safety pins to fully understand their relationship. Friends? Lovers? Co-workers? There seemed to be a lot of implied body contact, if not all that literal contact. In my mind's eye, they all but locked necks like giraffes or Canadian geese the way they were shimmering with mutual appreciation.

I remember having times like that recently. Those were the good olde days of my relationship. It was hard to believe that all that happened just a few months ago.

I walked up to the counter once the Cutie Pie & Boobie Ogler were gone.

"Do you have any safety pins?" I asked.

He just looked at me.

I tried to use my fingers to make safety pin like design with my hands.

He just looked at me.

After a moment, I said in frustration, "Apso on the safety-pin yo?"

Then, I headed to the next place a little farther away.

This time, I was in luck.

"A-sa~~" I chirped.

"Yeah, I was in the bathroom a little while a go and my zipper popped off my pants," I told the counter guy.

He could speak English. He seemed amused.

But where to put the suckers in? I couldn't very well go back to Seoul Pub and then again go to the bathroom. So I did the next best thing -- I walked over to Gecko's and put them in there.

I walked pass the Gecko's dartboard on my way to the bathroom and thought -- again -- how much I fear being given an impromptu lobotomy a la a lawn dart by some drunk GI mistaking my noggin for the board. I got into the bathroom and felt a pang of angst over how wide open my fly was. I hadn't been that open when the zipper popped off. I had been pulling the zipper UP when it happened, so at first the zipper was all but closed. Then, in a panic, I futzed with fly so much that it was wide open by the time it was over with.

I carefully opened the package and slipped the safety pins through the two sides of my own fly.

"Oh, Naborat Jeebas, please don't let me impale myself while dancing tonight. That would not be cool."

I looked down to make sure nothing was hanging out and opened the door. Who should I see but Bright Eyes Paulette. Paulette was one of those people that everyone in Unyoung Dong knew in some way. She was beautiful, her green eyes sparkled with mischief, she was great for a conversation on anything.

I saw her and her big smile and couldn't help myself.

"Hey! How's it going Paulette! I haven't seen you in a long time. I thought you left the country!"

"I did, I did. But I'm back now. What are you doing these days?" she said, the ever present evil little twinkle in her eye.

"Oh, nothing much. Just had to go to the bathroom. I'm headed back somewhere else to meet Coy and the rest of the crew."

"Oh. I'm here with Lorelei, can you stop by for a moment and chat?" she said.

Hmmmmm, Lorelei, I thought.

"It would be nice to see her and the rest of the gang again. Sure, but only for a moment," said.

We swung by the corner where Lorelei and the her gang were. It didn't take me too long to realize something: Lorelei was obviously having a good time, to say the least.

"Look who I found," Paulette said.

"Oh, Paulie, I swear that from now until the end of days I'm going to wake up and stick forks in your eyes for this," Lorelei said. Of course, she said it nearly at the top of her lungs and in such a drunked form of speech that you'd need one of those Star Trek universal translators to understand her. I, on the other hand, just have my personal Drunglish to English translator in my head.

"Huh? What does that mean?" I said, turning to Paulette.

She didn't say anything. She just smiled.

"I can't really hang out, I gotta get back to Coy and the rest of the guys. I just thought I'd say hi while I was over here," I said.

After some small talk, I headed back to Seoul Pub.
 
  The Fake Girlfriend
By ORVILLE MULBERRY
A-sa~~ Copy Editor

I didn't really set out to create an imaginary girlfriend.

It just happened.

Actually, it happened in bits and pieces. A misunderstanding here and question left unanswered there and before you know it you've not only created an imaginary girlfriend, you've given her a name, a history and a personality.

My fake girlfriend came about for a number of reasons. If you are old as I am and you have a very conservative family -- as I do -- then they're going to start thinking something is seriously wrong with you if you don't at least have a long term girlfriend floating around somewhere. Meanwhile, as I got older, I realize having relationship problems that I needed help with was a great way to make friends. You'd be amazed the time and effort people will put forth if they think they can help you solve a relationship crisis.

While it wasn't a conscious decision, by the time I hit 30, I had the whole scenario down pat. Whenever I started a new job, I would tell my new coworkers that I was on the cusp of asking my "girlfriend" to marry me. Over the next few weeks, I'd get everyone all excited about it. Then over one weekend, I'd ask her....only to be rejected.

I'd squeeze out a good two weeks of emotional intimacy out of my coworkers while I pretended to figure out where I was going with the relationship. Just under a month after I started a new job, I'd break up with my "girlfriend" and spend the rest of my time at the talking about how I couldn't start a new relationship because of my "heartbreak."

Usually, it worked like a charm.

Not that I actually kept the friends I made through this process. I have interpersonal communications that I am well aware of that tended to drive people away, but at least I got to experience the friendship while it lasted.

I didn't know what to make of the A-sa~~ staff when I first met them. They seemed well intentioned, but they were so drunk all the time it was amazing they actually got the damn newspaper out. I don't drink, so I came at things from a whole different dynamic. All they seemed interested in was drinking and staying out all night, talking in front of the Buy The Way.

The first few days I got there, I had this sense that I was entering a story midway through. There was a lot not being said. As best I could figure it out, there was some dude named "Shelly" who really -- really -- did not get a long with Coy. Coy seems like a nice enough guy, I don't understand what could possibly have happened.

Most of what I know now comes from the kids. The kids would talk about these two huge fights that Coy and Shelly had at some point over the last year. The kids didn't know what they were about -- they just knew they happened. Shrug. I don't know. This Shelly guy sounds rather unprofessional, is all I gotta say. Why was he so difficult to deal with?

The staff were still calling themselves "Ahssa!" when I first got there. That was the first decision I made as copy editor -- the whole name thing. I also knew I could probably get anything I wanted the first few days I started.

"Uh, guys," I said at the first staff meeting. "You know you have the name wrong, don't you?"

They just stared at me.

"Guys, the word is 'A-ssa~' or "A-sa~', not 'Ahssa!' I'm afraid it makes you guys look like dumbassas."

They just stared at me.

"Well I'm not calling my newspaper "A-ssa~" Coy said. "It's too much like 'ass" for my taste."

"Well, at least call it 'A-sa~~'" I said.

It happened...eventually.

Anyway, the only reason I went into Seoul with them was I wanted to seem cool. I hate drinking and smoky bars make me uncomfortable....but I had just started so I let it pass -- this time.

That Eve Royal is pretty hot. I get the impression that everybody has a huge crush on her. I wonder if she knows. I sure would like to make her my "real" girlfriend. But she and Caleb seem pretty content.
 
  Just One Of Those Things
By BOBBY "SOJU" TUTTLE
A-SA~ Sr. Reporter

You know, you don't really set out to do this kind of stuff.

The last thing I really remember that night was coming back to Seoul Pub. I remember Coy demanding I do tequila shots because I was so late. After that...I don't remember that much. It's just a black void. Yeah, I remember bits and pieces of the more notable stuff, but in general....it's just black.

It's really kind of spooky, too.

It reminds me of that Jane Fonda movie, The Morning After. She wakes up, and there's a dead body in the bed next to her. She doesn't remember what happen the night before.

I don't really know why I got so drunk that night. I think I had some issues that needed to work themselves out -- the whole girlfriend breakup thing -- and drinking a whole lot was one solution. It actually kind of helped, to tell you the truth. After I sobered up, I felt a whole lot better. I was even able to put up with Coy's egomaniac ways for a few days. Naborat Jee-bas, does that dude need a girlfriend. Too bad Shelly kinda stole the one he wanted.

Anyway, here's what I do remember.

Shelly was furious with me for being so late, so I had to do a few tequila shots. We hung out at Seoul Pub for about an hour, then headed towards the nearby Greek restaurant.

I remember Coy saying something mean to the folks behind the counter on our way in. The next thing I know, we're in Sinchon. That's when the real fun began!
 
An on-going Roman a Clef blovel About Life as American Expat in Korea

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A-sa~~ is a work of fiction. All people, places and events depicted here are the creation of the author. Any similarity to any individual living or dead is purely accidental This blog is the author's testing ground for his creative urges. He reserves the right to change anything at any time for any reason. Take nothing here seriously. Even the stuff that seems serious. He plans to begin a true "blovel" (blog novel) in the near future. You're going to have to search for the address, though. He ain't helpin ya. Mae-long.