Intrepid Girl Reporter

Wednesday, 4/14: the land of pure imagination
May 14, 2008, 1:24 pm
Filed under: crushes, IGR Recommends, looks like, media

As a person who has never let actual constraints affect her imaginative powers, I’m often disappointed when I finally see pictures of the people I’ve imagined. Usually this applies to artists, as I don’t have a lot of other occasions to sit around and contemplate what people I don’t know look like. I love Mirah, for example, and Carla Bruni, but for whatever reason the image I had of them in my head simply doesn’t jive with what actually exists. Which isn’t to criticize them, of course; one can only change the way one looks to a certain extent, and the fact that Ms. Bruni isn’t exactly as ethereal and sad-looking as I might have thought doesn’t really mean that what she creates is any less valid. But still, I’m not going to deny a little bit of a letdown.

Perversely, however, Ira Glass is exactly as attractive as I pictured – maybe even a little bit more so – and that’s rather disappointing, too.

Figure 1: It’s a montage. (Or as close as I can get with WordPress.)

Part of me hates the fact that I love This American Life, the show so infamously described by one Summer Roberts as

…that show by those hipster know-it-alls who talk about how fascinating ordinary people are. Gawd.

There are times when I think the show would be perfect if it could just dump Jack Hitt and Sarah Vowell, two of the biggest perpetrators of the patronizing, ludicrously biased, unable-to-see-past-its-own-navel tone to which TAL sometimes falls victim. (Also, I hate hate HATE Sarah Vowell’s voice.) And then, of course, there are other times when it messes up all on its own.

Nonetheless, I love stories, and I love the idea of telling stories, and I respect the fact that – to a certain degree – the show tries to capture a wide range of stories in America. And I like the show, in general, period. It makes me laugh, and it’s interesting.

Still, though, it’s so cliche to be in love with Ira Glass. Couldn’t I have found someone less sort of isolated? Someone less likely to fall victim to all the accusations leveled at this demographic?

What I really want, I think, is to not want this. Because he does look exactly as I imagined, and I still like him.




I have a lot of quality student material to share and a lot to say about Japan, the reason for my extended hiatus, but not right now, which means probably never. Keep your fingers crossed if you like.

Friday, 3/7: in the octobus’s garden
March 7, 2008, 4:01 am
Filed under: actual transcripts, ESL, games, looks like, skool, students, teaching

Q: If you could be any animal, what would you be?

A: Octobus

– student 

Things I am already in trouble for, as of 9:02 AM:

  • wearing a skirt that is too casual
  • spilling water on said skirt
  • not wearing socks

2L – Guess Who?

  • I Want A Woman With A Kind Heart (we’ll call him Kind Heart), Danny*, that kid who looks like a teddy bear, the one who was too cool for 1-11, one of the sweet kids from 1-11 who looked alike (was he the one who cried?)
  • ❤ ❤ ❤
  • kids in back too chaotic, so maybe next time pass out papers when they’re still sitting down

2-I – Guess Who?

  • smart but too loud/verging on obnoxious
  • good: Monkey!*, Dwight Shrute*, my favorite kid from last year’s Tuesday classes
  • not so good: the kid with the crush on me (“Channing,”)*, Smartass, Smartass Accomplice, Tiny Tim*, the other lookalike kid from 1-11, TWO of my Thursday Nightmare Trifecta kids*
  • at Visiting CT (we’ll call him Co-Teacher F)’s suggestion, I just read the cards, and the kids liked it fine

2-E – Guess Who?

  • watch some girls – maybe more advanced than previously suspected?
  • The Cutest Student Ever and The Other Cutest Student Ever (who got a Magic Stick straight perm that makes her look like some sort of Beatle)
  • that girl who looks like Miguk Sister
  • the girl who said she was looking for a man as attractive as a teddy bear in her personal ad
  • pretty quiet but not dumb

It is impossible to eat chop chae bap, which is noodles and rice. Aside from the fact that it’s a double carb load, neither spoon nor chopsticks can be used successfully.

I should add at this point that PCT is GONE, which makes my life a lot easier. I will continue to refer to ACT by her given pseudonym, and the rest of the co-teachers will be Co-teachers B through F.


Danny, Monkey and Channing all have names that sound like their pseudonyms, and each of them resembles their name – i.e. Danny looks like a Danny, Channing looks like a Channing, and Monkey…well, a really smart-alecky funny one, but a monkey nonetheless.

Tiny Tim is at least six inches shorter than everyone else and used to hobble around on a wooden crutch.

Dwight Shrute looks like Dwight Shrute.

The Thursday Nightmare Trifecta Kids are the ones who were friends with Min Ho, except that, unlike Min Ho, they’re really good at English, which means that they tended to get less attention for their antics. No more.

Tuesday, 3/4: New York City, capital of the world

2D – Guess Who?

Lesson: Introduce students to each other through question-based guessing game

  • Teddy Bear Barrette has switched over to rhinestones
  • but she’s doing her work!
  • Eun Jeong actually competed for tickets today
  • Future Vet*, Good Twin*, Super Woman* all present
  • surprisingly well behaved
  • next time don’t have teams come forward, make questions more difficult

2B – Guess Who?

  • Help Woman*, Kind Mother*, Field Trip, that girl with the pink glasses
  • not too participatory but generally good
  • guessing game doesn’t work as teams, maybe have kids find matches

2C – Guess Who?

  • Bad Twin*…oh God
  • those girls in the front need to QUIT talking
  • one of the choir girls still wants to be “social poverty designer” (Catholic girl)
  • Canada, Lisa Loeb*
  • having kids practice easy questions with each other, answer hard questions, find random matches worked better
  • new co-teacher less effective

I moved gyomushil (teachers’ office) yesterday and it was TOTAL CHAOS. Apparently it had not occurred to anyone working at or affiliated with my school to, I don’t know, do this stuff sometime before the first day of school.

In this room I could practically see my breath and I couldn’t feel my fingers to type; the windows were open and no one would allow them to be closed, so we all stood there, huddled around an ancient freestanding gas heater with a teapot on the top. The teapot, in case you were wondering, serves as a humidifier. Those of us who were not gathered round the campfire were counting to eight repeatedly and shouting my name; evidently there was some discrepancy regarding the desk I was supposed to have versus the desk I actually had, and while I was supposed to receive the eighth desk, which desk became the eighth varied depending on where the person started counting. Meanwhile, the students, teacherless, roamed our dirty halls like packs of hyenas, waiting for the first of us to fall. Did I mention that the first graders weren’t even there? I kept asking people if I could help – I couldn’t figure out what to do on my own, as everyone simply seemed to be moving each other’s stuff around and back again – and no one would give me directions, so eventually I just sat at my desk. Meanwhile, the teacher with the broken arm had the papers and folders she was moving propped between her coat and her cast.

My absence from this blog would be inexcusable were it not for the fact that a) I’ve been working for Uncle Sam, who possesses powerful Internet monitoring superpowers, for the past month, b) the Internet at my house on base was more fickle than a Korean middle schooler’s chosen favorite singer, and c) I got a bead stuck in the optical drive of my MacBook and had to have it serviced. Oops.

But anyway, I’m back. And reasonably sure that I can never work for the federal government. To illustrate this point, I would like to offer a series of questions I received from children at the American Corner (like a mini-Embassy) in Busan, via teleconference, during a presentation on American Food: Diverse and Delicious, followed by both actual and given answers.

Q: Who were the first immigrants to America? How did they start American food?

AA: Well, in the seventeenth century, the white man came and pretended to be friends with the natives for a while, but then he killed them off, took their land, and shot the animals and grew the crops that would become the basis of American cuisine.

GA: Well, in the seventeenth century, many immigrants came from Europe. They made friends with the natives, and from the bounty of the land, they all cooked food together.

Q: Why is American food so sweet?

AA: Because Big Food is filling it with high-fructose corn syrup!

GA: Because we have many immigrants from Europe, where they make very sweet desserts.

Q: Can you tell me the story of how New York City came to be your country’s capital?

AA: No.

GA: No.

*These are obviously my actual class notes, with changed names. Hopefully soon I will make a glossary of pseudonyms. In the meantime:

Bad Twin/Good Twin: These girls are not actually twins, but they look like it. One is good. One is not.

Super Woman, Kind Mother, Help Woman: attended winter camp, created Super Woman, Kind Mother, and Help Woman, respectively

Lisa Loeb: v. smart, a little morbid, has dyed hair and Lisa Loeb glasses, as well as a general Loebian aesthetic; I wave at her in the hall and she looks at me and shakes her head

Future Vet: started emailing me because she has a cat (rare in Korea) and I have one too; originally wanted to be a vet, but because this may be too difficult, is currently planning on being a “pet beauty artist”

Monday, 1/21: Singapore, without a soundtrack
January 21, 2008, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Apple, host brother, looks like, travel

hi (IGR)! you are really go singapore… but I’m never lonely!!! because you are not here I can’t hear your noise and you are not disturb me. so now Iam very happy …… hope you are having a good day~~

(Host Brother).

(. .)

If I could review Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport as a place to sleep, it would compare favorably with (God forbid) Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson. Actually, I believe I will review it.

SLEEPING IN AIRPORTS: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi

The first thing to note about Suvarnabhumi is that it’s brand new. The second is that it’s full of backpackers who have the same idea you do, unlike certain other airports we could mention, which are full of homeless people who accuse you of nonexistent offenses. This means that there can be fierce competition for the cushioned benches – unsurprising considering the facts that the airport is also quiet and free of ugly carpet (are you listening, Atlanta?), has restaurants and Starbucks open 24 hours, and doesn’t smell. Aside from the absence of free Internet access and a few issues with climate control, Suvarnabhumi makes a fine place to nurse a 4AM Tazo Shaken Black Lemon Tea (Iced) before eventually passing out on a chair while you wait for your budget flight.

Singapore is humid, but thanks to the kindness of Hallim’s friend from college, we have a very comfortable place to stay, one in which Hallim is passed out right now. This is probably due to the fact that our flight left at 10:15 yesterday morning. We had some time to kill in Seoul, so we met Soccer, Quagmire, and another Program friend of ours I’ll call Earthy Fellow in Itaewon, a district in which I have no desire to ever, ever set foot again – it reminded me of Bourbon Street with a dash of colonialism, except much larger. At any rate we went to some place called Foreign Restaurant, which, as one might guess, was not any good, really. But the company was excellent. We tried to go see a movie, ended up browsing in some weird supermall, and took the metro back to Incheon, which was not, I discovered too late, the same as Incheon Terminal. Incheon Terminal is actually 40 minutes away from Incheon. We had to get on a bus, and then we had to tell the bus driver to hurry, and we ran through customs, etc., and then we discovered that the boarding time had been delayed. (Note: this was my fault. I should not attempt to navigate anywhere.) So we made it to Bangkok around 1:20, got our stuff, had some SB and crashed. Our AirAsia flight left around 7:30, and we were at Hallim’s friend’s apartment by 12.

We spent the afternoon in the Arab Quarter, which was lots of fun, aside from the fact that we ended up eating Malay/Indonesian food, which was good, but now I’m fiending for some baba ghanouj. At first I was being a bit too guidebooky, dragging Hallim to this street of hipster stores, before she pointed out that while they all differ, such boutiques can be found anywhere, and the kitsch was sort of what made the area unique. So we ate some baklava and found this place that sold telephone-shaped oil lamps and bags of old photographs of Singapore “ago,” as Host Fam would say. They bear a pretty strong resemblance to the photos we have of my father’s family in Saigon, and on vacation, and in Cali. So I picked up a few of those and wrote letters on the back, and then I found a Slurpee (!!! – yes, I am aware that these are not native to Singapore, but they are both hard to find and delicious), and then we went home.

The only downers so far: Rain jacket came out of outside of Scooter’s loaned backpack, i.e. is lost forever in AirAsia’s luggage claim, was rather expensive and more importantly a gift from Miguk Oma, and iPod seems to have stopped working. I’m going to try a few things with it, but I don’t think it’s under warranty, which means purchasing a new one, eventually. I had downloaded some Dengue Fever and White Shoes & The Couples Company, which I thought would be suitable travel accompaniments, but now I am forced to sing in my head.