Six Zero here, with a very special edition of…
This feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog
and beyond. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get
to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on
their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
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(Scroll down to the MGoProfile section of the User-Curated HOF).
SIX QUESTIONS WITH CREX
WARNING: If you are not well versed in the phenomenon known simply as the CRex Saga, drop whatever you are eating, holding, working on and/or breastfeeding and READ THIS IMMEDIATELY. Upon completion of the first tome, feel free to follow it up with subsequent entries of CRex and Koreans, the memorable CRex visits Mongolia, The Wedding Part I, The Wedding Part II, and the most recent CRex Does China.
In short, if you're a reader of MGoBlog and you don't know who CRex is and what he does... well then, you probably don't read MGoBlog enough. As the writer of possibly the most famous OT post in the history of the blog, CRex graciously chose to share his own personal adventures with all of us during the tumult and uncertainty of the 2010 transition between the Rodriguez and Hoke regimes.
But enough back story-- you know the guy tells a good story, and you can be assured he makes for an equally compelling interview. So sit back, my friends, and enjoy this exclusive interview with everyone's favorite Korean-loving Ginger CRex...
1. Few diarists at MGoBlog have had as loyal a readership as you. For a time, the drama of your relationship and life was simply must-read entertainment for the entire MGoBlog community. What originally moved you to share the story with the blog in the first place?
It's hard to pinpoint one specific reason, rather it was a number of them. While the surprise visit was stressful to say the least, I knew it was going to be one of those things that years later I'd look back on and laugh about. Writing it down provided me with a way to step back and pretend it was years later and laugh about it. I was able to do some venting and gain some perspective while the rest of the community got to have a laugh and some drama, so it was win-win. As for why I picked MGoBlog as opposed to some other venue, I figured that given most of that offseason's topics centered around our head coaching issues everyone would welcome a laugh. I was kind of fed up with some of the threads that kept picking at old wounds, so a chance to post something Michigan related that was humorous just seemed too good to pass up.
We’re all collectively grateful you did. When did you know that your simple tale had become the epic "CRex Saga," and how did it affect interactions in your real, non-virtual life? Have you ever been outed as the "infamous ginger CRex?"
I know M-Wolverine spotted me at a Michigan football game. Beyond that as far as I know I've never been outed in public, although I'm honestly not sure if I'd notice. I'm still surprised how many odd glances mixed race couples get in Ann Arbor, so I just tend to assume that people who are staring at me are looking for that reason as opposed to any form of recognition. For me, since I work for the university and am surrounded by coworkers who read MGoBlog, a lot of my focus is making sure they don't out me. That means I creatively edit dates a little so they can't line up my vacations to the stories and things like that. Also I have to keep a straight face when someone sends me the link or calls me over because a new installment of the C-Rex Saga went up and it is 'pretty good'. Or when I step into an office to talk to someone and see them commenting on an entry. I did tell one of my coworkers who also has a Korean wife who I am, but for the most part I keep it private. I normally hope someone has also posted a big stats-laden diary right before or after me so I can just tell people I was reading the latest by LSAClassof2000 or Mathlete, as opposed to wasting my time on that OT K-drama diary crap!
Also, for a time your wife's identity was compromised after the story broke. Obviously some candid details of her life and her interaction with family were really put out there for our enjoyment. How did she handle your ascension into MGo-Immortality, and what does she think of it now?
A couple of my wife's students did figure out her identity somehow which got me in some hot water and put an end to the stories for awhile. I didn't have to sleep on the couch, but she wasn't happy to say the least. That led to that infamous suspension of the stories where I had to go dark. Eventually we worked out a deal where I'd agree to alter certain facts and she was happy, especially once she graduated and moved on. Thankfully if her adviser reads MGoBlog he never connected her to the diaries or at least never said anything to her, because if he had, I'd have been found floating face down in the Huron River. Beyond that, my wife thinks we're all crazy. She can understand the excitement for gameday and how the blog gives us all ties back to Michigan, but the fact we do this kind of stuff 365 days a year is an alien concept to her.
Wives. They actually believe the world doesn’t revolve around Michigan football. Okay, now on behalf of all of MGoBlog, I feel it’s my journalistic duty to move on to a more pressing and paramount topic…
2. Little sister. Discuss.
Little Sister and one of her minions, err a friend, came over this year and we went on a road trip across America. That lead to enough material for at least one diary, but I've been slow in putting it together. My wife and I are in the process of relocation so my writing schedule has fallen behind and off topic season is now over. So that would move it back to the 2014 offseason. In larger scale news, the relocation likely means Lil Sister will not be a Michigan Wolverine, as with my wife and I leaving the area, my in-laws know better than to drop Lil Sis off in Ann Arbor without someone to monitor her. After all, she might come back with a white boyfriend or something. For all her trouble making, Lil Sis's test scores are outstanding and she's going to have her pick of the litter in terms of schools. Although her dreams to walk onto the Michigan Football team are likely over and it will be a major setback to the program, she had the potential to perform those "Crable Noooooooo" type hits and then just unleash the cute little girl smile so the ref would just pick the flag up.
We’ve got some pull with the staff—maybe Heiko can get her a tryout. You've since married your girlfriend and are linked forever with her South Korean family. You seemed to have won over the father on the initial trip, but things were dicey for awhile there with the mother. How are things with the in-laws now?
We're now firmly in the "Where the hell are the grandchildren? Make with the grandchildren already." stage. It was inevitable I suppose. The in-laws relationship really improved with the wedding as they could now explain their daughter was married to me as opposed to randomly living with some American dude, so that was a major step forward. I've also advanced my career enough that my mother in law can now brag about me to her exercise group, which was a bunch of old women who walked around the city park. The minute my income set the record for son in-law income within that group, my popularity skyrocketed. I'm now considered tall, handsome, and a perfect match based on the numbers I type into my 1040 form. Ironically, of course, my wife (who clears significantly more coin than me) is criticized for not contributing enough to the relationship by her parents (read: not having kids). I've debating trying to adopt Lil Sis and just pay for her college to get the parents to lay off the kid thing.
3. Since your ascension into MGoBlog lore, you've visited Mongolia, took part in the traditional Korean wedding, and had many other exciting adventures. We've watched you grow and evolve into a cosmopolitan man and a purveyor of multiple cultures both Eastern and Western. Did you ever see yourself growing up to be the man you are today? And if you'd never met your Korean wife, who would CRex be today?
Not at all, I was from a very white area of the country. Out of my high school graduating class of ~440, only 40 or so were non-white and just 3 Asians. My sole international experience had been a senior trip to Western Europe, which I considered a major culture shock at the time. I never had much of a desire to leave the country; my vacations were centered on visiting all 50 states and Canada. If I hadn't met my wife I'd likely own a house somewhere in Ann Arbor, have started a small business of some sort, and settled down. As for how it has changed me as a person, I came to Michigan right in the middle of the Affirmative Action lawsuits and my personal beliefs led me to favor admission based solely on scores over any kind of desire for diversity. Looking back now I can't imagine how boring it would have been to come to a college version of my mostly white high school. I wish I'd met my wife earlier and been able to experience more while on campus. If this had been High School 2.0, I'd just be a better educated version of my high school classmates who never went to college, never really went out into the world, and now, based on their Facebook posts, must be bored to tears half the time.
The other interesting, at least to me, question to ponder is if I'd be married. I was what you would call an underachiever with the girls in high school. I started out strong in 9th grade and made a name for myself when I obtained a prom invitation from an older girl. However, midway through my sophomore year I came to the conclusion that high school girls are incredibly boring and the bullshit you had to put up with was not commiserate with the benefits. During my junior year the principal actually called my parents to express his concerns I was gay, complete with an offer to invite me to his church where the gay could be prayed away. Much of my relationship works because what might sound like "Omg not this again, why does every girl whine about this?" to a Korean guy, doesn't even show up as a blip on my radar.
My view on Michigan's whole commitment to diversity has also changed. When I first came here, I tended to roll my eyes and mutter something about "PC Bullshit" whenever diversity came up. After meeting my wife and getting to know what she went through to obtain her PhD here, I'm honestly amazed at how bad Michigan is at supporting diversity. Michigan offers some intro classes to all international students and the support pretty much ends there aside from whatever the International Center can offer (and they're not always trustworthy sadly). Beyond that you need to hope your adviser or department is supportive; my wife's first adviser actually dropped her after telling her he only wanted to support her working on crunching for his numbers, but not contribute to theory because Asians are good at math but not new theories. Luckily one of her other committee members felt bad for her and supported her. When I first walked around campus I thought Asians were cliquish and didn't want to associate with Americans, but as it turns out much of that isn't necessarily a desire to be exclusive so much as a need to form social support groups with other people going through the same thing.
I've discovered how elements of Michigan bureaucracy simply don't bother to properly handle requests from Asian students because they assume Asian students aren't confrontational and don't know how to complain even if they want to. I actually managed to get someone fired after she repeatedly lied to my wife about sending out forms from the department my wife needed and had the audacity to lie about in repeated emails and when confronted directly. Of course, the moment the angry American-- who knows how to complain and who to complain to-- shows up, people suddenly get rather cooperative. It seems like every time I sit down for dinner with a group of international students, I'm amazed at how they don't know about a certain service offered by Michigan or channels to file complaints through, which I just took for granted. I could just rant on and on about this, but really at the end of the day when someone at Michigan starts talking about diversity, I roll my eyes for entirely different reasons now.
After reading the above, my wife did want me to add in that she really did enjoy her time at Michigan and how anyone who gets into Michigan is privileged with all the resources and status they're granted simply by attending Michigan. She holds no grudges and recommends Michigan to her friends. I also to admit that many levels of bureaucracy have been helpful in addressing in problems, but I tend to get my Irish temper worked up whenever someone starts preaching how great we are at diversity and supporting an international community, when really we have a long way to go.
To borrow from Wilber, your perspective borders on kosmocentric. Most of us have lived a considerably sheltered life in comparison to that of an international traveler like yourself. In your own words, CRex, tell us what the world is all about.
The world seems to come down to how people aren't that different, but the variations in culture can create seemingly great differences. Plus when you talk in language barriers, weird foods, and phenotype differences the world really starts to look like a crazy place. I've been amazed at how if you put me in with a group of non-Americans, I'll feel like in a group with a bunch of aliens, but if I spend time talking to each of them one on one, suddenly the differences aren't so severe. This can range from social norms, such as I do X to show respect to my parents, but someone else does Y to show respect to their elders. It seems different, but at the end of the day it really isn't, to the fact that some of my Korean friends grew up playing Street Fighter. That was always kind of a shock: two kids on opposite sides of the world, growing up in different culture systems, but we both have the combo for E Honda's Super Head Killer Ram programmed into our muscle memory.
Even so, though, individually nice people can come together or be forced together to form unpleasant organizations or societies with unpleasant cultural norms. There are a lot of countries out there that aren't lucky enough to be bordered by two large oceans and Canada, leaving them with only one border that leads to issues. You stand there at the Korean DMZ or the Sino-Viet Border (second heaviest fortified border in the world after the DMZ) and you realize the world is not a nice place and a lot of people are forced to make decisions that impact their survival everyday, not just in terms of personal survival and welfare, but in terms of how cold wars can turn hot. Not to mention how people in large groups do stupid things due to cultural norms or the fact that they're just dicks.
A lot of times when you travel, you find yourself confronted with both realities everyday. You'll see some amazing things and discover how some people have cultural practices and values that might be superior to your own, and sometimes you'll hop on the plane thinking "You know what America needs? More carrier battle groups and strategic bombers, lots more." End of the day you'll likely find yourself having a lot in common with many individuals and sometimes confused by how you can be so similar one on one but your cultural institutions differ so drastically from theirs.
4. Yeah, I feel the same way about New Jersey. Upon my first reading of the saga, I, in no uncertain terms, publicly suggested that you take your story and storytelling talents to Hollywood, perhaps to sell it as a screenplay, become a sitcom writer or something to that effect. (If anyone doubts my assessment of his writing prowess, just wait until you get to the perfect meal question below.) If they ever made a CRex movie, who would you want to play the title role?
Dave Chapelle, without a doubt. I might go as far as to have a rider in the project that it only happens if Chapelle can be secured for the role. He's perfect, he has Midwesterner roots and is in a mixed race marriage, so I think he'd have the perfect prescriptive to play the role. Of course he's retired and I'm not sure if he can ever be lured out, but I can dream. If this ever was turned into a movie, I'd see it being done Pulp Fiction style in terms of the scenes and I think Chapelle's history with sketches would play well there.
A Ginger Chapelle?? I'm game... can I be played by Charlie Murphy? You in fact were once a writer for the Review as well, and certainly have shown the chops for weaving an interesting tale. What other sort of writing do you do? Do you still write, or have any aspirations to in the future?
I come from a family of writers who made their money elsewhere, both my parents have English degrees but made their money in the construction industry. I've always enjoyed history and writing, but stayed in the computer field because that is where the money is. For awhile, when I had a World of Warcraft addiction, I used to write the lore for our guild, turning all the heroics and raids into epic tales and posting them on the forums. Now that I've broken that addiction, I write short stories now and then, some fantasy, some sci-fi, and some humorous modern. My goal—the one I keep failing at— is to produce say 100 pages worth of short stories with some kind of common theme and publish them as an E-Book. Right now I'm telling myself that after I'm settled at my new job I'm going to take one hour a day to write and edit. A lot of what I enjoy writing centers around world building, writing alternative history or building some future world. I think this comes out of my political science interests and how much I loved books like The Prince. I've honestly never really considering turning the C-Rex saga into something larger, I've never really had the personal belief it would play well outside of a Michigan crowd that had an automatic link to my writing simply because they loved the school and Ann Arbor.
5. Hey, man, believe in your craft-- you're a legend. So what do you do for a living?
I'm an automation programmer. I come into another environment and figure out their workflow. From there, my job is not simply to automate it but to analyze the workflow and challenge why X,Y, and Z are done instead of A,B, and C. After that we shape a new workflow and automate as much of it as possible (or as much as their budget allows). My career path focuses on doing this for large academic institutions since it will let me move around with my wife as she potentially relocates to different research centers. This is the kind of job where every time I think have some time to write, I end up getting some extra contracting work and shelving it.
And when you’re not contributing to the future autonomy of SkyNet, what do you like to do for fun?
Before I met my wife I was a huge gamer and was excited to have a partner who is also a gamer. However I've found it is rather depressing to play games with a girl who was competitively ranked in Korea for Starcraft. When we were playing Starcraft 3 v 1 (with her being 1) she was getting up and going to the kitchen for drinks, and still kicked all our asses. Currently we both play Kerbal Space Program, although considering her degree is in aerospace, her rocketry program is to mine as NASA is to North Korea. She's also accused me of not playing Kerbal Space Program but instead playing Kerbal Murder Simulator (I fry my Kerbals more frequently than Russia fried cosmonauts early on in their program).
My main hobbies are motorsports, target shooting/hunting, and kayaking. My big project right now is doing a modernization to a 1969 Pontiac Firebird, a modern LS7 V8 engine, heads up display, touch screen navigation, and all the goodies that will make old guys scream about how I butchered a classic. Of course I'll just crank up the sound system and blast K-Pop so I can't hear them. I'm still debating if I want a Screaming Chicken on the hood or a Hello Kitty. I think with the latter I'll be able to make Mustang owners swerve into bridge pillars and kill themselves out of shame when the Hello Kitty Pontiac pulls past them. Except when it’s just me in the pink Hello Kitty car and I'm cruising around with the top down, I assume AAPD will just drag me out of the car and beat the hell out of me on the grounds that I'm probably a pedophile. The engine mounts to get an LS7 into that car are a real pain though.
Sounds like a future entry into the odyssey of CRex. Describe the perfect meal.
On an island just south of mainland Vietnam. It's been hot all day, with only the sea breeze to break it up or the water. Now though the sun is going down and the storm clouds are rolling in. Off at the edge of the horizon it is pitch black and the wind is picking up, blowing your wife's hair all over her face. You can hear the surf pounding against the rocks as the tide comes in and the oncoming storm supplements it. The trees are starting to bend and you hear the occasional thud as a coconut is blown off the tree and lands on the ground. There is still some warmth in the air, but it is slowly being pushed out. You sit there on the patio as the lights come on, but every time there is a gust of wind they flicker. Dinner itself is simple, local beer, fresh grilled sea urchin with spring onion and oil, grilled calamari with salt and pepper, a bowl of pho. All the seafood is well seasoned with a clear French influence and fresh, a boat pulled into the hotel early in the day and delivered it. By the time pho comes out the rain is pounding against the patio and despite being less than 30 feet from the high tide line, you can't see the ocean, except for when the lighting flashes across the sky and you can see the the ocean with its wind whipped waves for just the briefest second as a frozen image before the darkness returns. You sit there with the pho and a second beer, sipping at the pho and marveling at the complexity of the broth, but really just staring out towards the ocean and waiting for that next flash of lighting and listening to that unseen surf pound against the shoreline. When dinner is done you linger on one of the worn old couches for a time before you need to run through the rain and back to your cottage.
In a word… perfect. I’ll never attempt to find this place or eat this meal, since reality could only taint the amazing image you’ve just painted in my mind’s eye.
6. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I was raised to be one. My family has a long legacy of attending Michigan and from day one I grew up with Michigan gear and watching Michigan football on TV. My parents met here, my uncle met my aunt here, etc. The yearly family reunion was in Ann Arbor. There was never really any question where I was going to school and Michigan was the only application I sent out for college my senior year. If I didn't get in, I just would have worked for my father, polished up my volunteer work, and tried again in a year.
Hail. Finally, who’s your all-time favorite Wolverine?
I grew up watching Woodson on TV and if I could pick any Wolverine to have a second coming of, it would be Woodson without a doubt. That said, Marlin Jackon and Lamarr Woodley are tied for my favorite Wolverine. I watched both of them play in the flesh from the student second. The CMU game where Woodley sacked the QB, forced the fumble, and then got up to get into the scrum and retrieve the ball, the 2004 destruction of Stanton, when Sparty led by double digits, guns don't kill people, Lamarr Woodley does, etc. Same with Jackson, I lost count of how many times some WR thought he was open and signaled for the ball only to see it come flying out of his hands a second later when Marlin delivered the hit. I still remember that in 2004, when he was a senior, his side of the field was only targeted 14% of the time and they threw to that side, someone ran the risk of dying.
I must confess-- when the MGoProfile series originally began back in 1954 (that sounds about right?), the aura of CRex had already ascended and his name was on my original short list. In fact, if I recall correctly he was contacted for inclusion about this time of year-- but it was around the same time that some of the disclosure mentioned above was creeping into his everyday life and general happiness. So, in the interests of self-preservation and anonymity, CRex respectfully declined.
I don't know what it is about the guy-- we do share some common traits in our past and upbringing that we've discussed off the record-- but I get CRex. When I read his stuff, I feel like it's someone I actually know, or have known for some time. So perhaps that's what makes his posts so interesting-- I could read countless books about journeying to the inner confines of Asia, but reading a CRex post is more like hearing an old friend tell it from his point of view, a perspective I can relate to and understand. He's also got a sense of humor that keeps the story going regardless of its length-- these have got to be some of the consistently biggest posts on here, but they never hurt for page hits, up-votes, and approving comments.
Finally, CRex contacted me yesterday to express that he's been called on an unexpected business trip today. As such, he'll be unable to read and respond to your comments until later in the day, presumably once the workday is over. So go ahead and post as you always would, but know that it will not be until later in the evening that he'll be able to read and respond to them. Thanks and 22 DAYS until Michigan Football!!