Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Money and Fame

Got a gig with the big Womans University here...... the faculty of Buddhist University and the big Womans University are slightly intertwined, at least in translation and the big Womans University translation unit needs editors.

I turns out I have skills in this area...

I turned out a massive intergovernmental project in a few days, and it looks (hard to tell because the people who send out the money info aren't as "Englishee" as the translators) that my first job will be about $1.6k.

This would help me and my enchanted bride in our trip to Oz....

Later, I got a call from a local TV station. They would like to interview me about my interest in Korean literature.

This sent me directly to the gym, as though one hour there per day could take away the pounds and ravages of the last semester. ;-)

Eternally optimistic in the short term, and dead pessimistic on the long haul. ^^

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Last Days in NZ

Ho hum...

Been lazy poster...

NOW the end of the New Zealand (LOL the imperialist Blogger spell check tool refuses to accept that "Zealand" could be part of the English language) trip.

Got up on Sunday to walk in for the session I was hosting.

This was a bit traumatic as I wanted a cup of coffee and at 9am on a Sunday THE STARBUCKS WAS CLOSED! Those of us who live in civilized countries will not believe this, so I snapped a photo.

Then it was performance time. Our little Ph.D. student did well despite the fact her English is difficult and that she held on to the podium like it was a life-preserver. In between was an SNU professor, and then my colleague showed the room what a second-language performance should be like.

It was a small audience, being that early on a Sunday, and I was able to be the avuncular host when questions came.

Then my Korean buds headed off to check out more of the town, and I waited around for my performance.

It was some stuff I've done before, and other than missing the "two minutes to go" cue, it went as it always does.

After, with the Koreans still on the town, I found a nearby bar with wireless and had "jug" of beer.

With that concluded it was off to the NZ house of Parliament, or some other important thing, where the conference had miraculously placed its dinner. The opening speech was by the minister of culture who amusingly apologized for his absence the previous day as he was also the minister of "redress" (or something like it) and had spent the previous day with the Maori, as NZ continues to try to sort out its relationship with them.

His speech was funny, he noted that there were many issues to sort out, and mercifully short.

The outside of the Parliament (or whatever) building looked like this:

And where we ate, like this:

The next day I dithered around in town, had two beers, the squirts, and a dwarf hooker, before catching the bus to the airport.

One hour to Auckland, and then a shuttle ride to my hotel. The hotel was surrounded by closed liquor stores (alas), so I couldn't get shitfaced and puke on my evolving memories of NZ.

The next day to the plane.. an uneventful ride home... LOL, since Korea is home....

and for that day? The rest was silence.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This little piggy Kiwi-wii'd all the way home...

Friday night I waited up until my Korean co-conspirators got in, talked to them briefly, and then went upstairs to watch stupid sports on TV. Saturday was a day to wander around. I headed down to the conference just to get registered. For the second straight day I was walking into a violent headwind. I made sure to hit just as the morning food break was put out, and after a cup of coffee and some nosh, I headed back out to check out the quays and the big museum.

On the way over I spotted the vessel the Steve Irwin, which was, appropriately considering what happened to him, all decked out in black.

The quays are beautiful and the water in the harbor was whipping itself frothy

I passed by something like a Korean outdoor/indoor market, a parking lot turned into an art market. Kind of cool, but not my thing, so I continued on to the museum without purchasing a single nicknack, gee-gaw, or nasty rubber novelty.

The museum was grand - 6 stories tall, of which about 4.5 were cool and totally free. I saw some dinosaurs, took a ride on the earthquake simulator, saw the bad news about the un-greening of New Zealand.

Then, exhausted, I went by the local for a “small” burger and a beer. The burger was, in fact, massive and the beer tasty. Then it was off to do a bit more book-shopping (alas, no books) and a nap back at the hotel.

Later on it was out again for dinner, and when I returned the Korean contingent were sitting in the parlor of the hotel, so we chatted for a bit and then retired. Like an idiot, once again, I stayed up late watching obscure Kiwi semi-sports. I would pay at 7:30 the next morning…

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It should come as no suprise...

That in a country not dominated by loathsome boy and girl bands?

The bar soundtracks are superior....

More news as I break it... ^^

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Escape From Fiery Death!

Speaking of bookstores… as I did last post…. There are some grand ones here. As soon as I got off the bus from the airport I walked by an enormous two-story used bookshop and even though I had my luggage, couldn’t help but go in. Unfortunately the fiction was not categorized other than by last name (i.e. any translated Korean fiction would be folded in with the rest). But my second question revealed that some collections were collected by region and a quick visit upstairs netted me a hardback 1974 edition of “Flowers of Fire” of which only one seems to be available on the intarwebs (LOL - I should snap it up to own then ALLZ!). I also found a 1974 UNESCO version of “Virtuous Women” of which 3 seem to exist?

A nice haul, but it probably means I’ve cleaned out Wellington since I’m sure no one else has ever looked for translated Korean fiction and that these two books are the result of decades of buying. Too bad I won’t have more time in Auckland, which supposedly also has some good used bookstores.

Just to alienate my lovely wife, I also include this picture of yet another used bookstore that I just walked by:

The hotel is in the hipster section of Wellington, with many music stores, bars, performance venues, art-stores, and holistic health type stores. It makes a nice contrast with most of Seoul. Still, too many shit tattoos. ;-)

After that, it was just wandering around, watching TV, and then sleeping.

Well, sleeping til about 5AM, when the fire alarm went off and the entire hotel was evacuated. It only took about 30 minutes, but it was a slight drag.

I grabbed my laptop and coat.. fortunately it was my ultracool Dongguk coat with Yvonne's camera in the pocket, so I took some out-of-focus "why the hell am I not asleep" photos, of which one follows.

Got back in the room before 6 and slept til 11. I pride myself on the fact that I touched nothing in the courtesy bar, because drinking at 5am would probably be a sign of something, narrow escape from fiery death notwithstanding...

Still, unaccountably, tired, but with nothing to do til Sunday, I should be able to catch up on my sleep.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Aukward in Auckland

In New Zealand, they wear their GWAR t-shirts without the slightest hint of irony. This goes for t-shirts of nearly any bad heavy metal band that you can conjure up a name for. The solution to male-pattern-baldness is to develop, long, lank, curly hair on the sides, and often to get a garish tattoo on your dome. In fact, just plain lots of garish tatoos floating all about. NZ kind of reminds me of Louisiana in the late 1970s – you can’t turn around without seeing someone who looks like a roadie for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then there’s the frank n’ beans for breakfast in the restaurant showing boxing at 10:30 on a weekday morning. The Wine of the Month is “Wither Hills!” The land is beautiful, but I’m not sure I’d like living here.

Not to jump to any conclusions, or anything. ^^

The plane ride to Auckland wasn’t bad, even counting the dickhead adjushi behind me who kept pounding on the back of my seat.

Only two things of interest in the airport… First, the name of a business that I might reconsider:

Second, a bookstore advertisement (constructed of books on shelves) at the airport that is kind of cute and advertises some service by which you can purchase bookstore scrip, more or less, for hundreds bookstores in New Zealand.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Once Again in Incheon Airport

After a trip in the featured every mistake I could make...

Catching a cab to Seoul Station in the middle of the biggest police action since the Mad Cow riots

Trying to catch the A-rex from Seoul Station that doesn't begin running til the 29th

Deciding not to catch the Airport limousine from either Seoul Station or Yongsan

Missing the express train on the 9....

No worries though, as Incheon is the most efficient airport I've ever been in, so now I'm nursing a quick beer before the flight.

The Lovely Wife came along for the train ride, and is now turning back towards the Outback in Itaewon..

For me - 11+ hours.. at least I got the last aisle seat!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Two shots of Namsan from my back window

Two shots of Namsan from my back window

Some days you wake up in winter in Seoul and it's like an old alliterative girlfriend of mine, icy cold but beautiful:

And sometimes it is just like me, foggy (if by fog you mean nasty particulate matter blown in from commie China) and confused:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mixed Birthday Presents...

1) The Beloved Wife took me to Danyang to go spelunking. +1

2) The City of Seoul gave me a FREE wake-up call, courtesy of early morning construction. -2

3) The EIT Department gave me a class cancellation to go see a poetry symposium. +.5 (I mean, a poetry symposium? How come this is never a scholarly introduction to the role of the tramp-stamp in post-modern pornography?)

4) The Uni just shut down heat in our building, despite the fact it is currenly 6 degrees. -3

Things are going to have to pick up around here!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

LOL.. that island is practically surrounded by NK...

Here's a map:

LOL at the S Korean left (semi-live blogging the war)

some dude tweets: 천안함 때에도,,,,오늘도,,,,대통령은 지하벙커에 꼭꼭 숨어라??

Which seems to be a rhetorical question blaming LMB for getting into the bunker under the Blue House....

Really? That's the best you've got?

I'd be in a bunker if I could. ^^

Life in Wartime?

A certain surreality pervades Seoul. I'm sitting in my office, as shells are falling on Yeongpyeong Island. Outside my window, students and faculty continue to walk around as though nothing were out of the ordinary. About three kilometers away, Yi Myeong-Bak is in a bunker under the Blue House wondering among other things, if the press reports here are accurate, if they should send a protest letter to the UN (wtf?). The ROK has scrambled bombers and fighters and while Lee says to "avoid escalation" I'm not sure that NK will see the planes as non-escalatory? I'm hoping the angels aren't ready to wear my red shoes. ^^

Me? There are two places I should go to in case of evacuation, but I'm certainly assuming it won't come to that. In fact, I think home is probably safest as, paradoxically, it is close to the US army base and if NK ever went for that things would be fully on, and Seoul would be the threatened "sea of fire" that NK blathers on about from time to time. LOL - and since those locations are listed on the US embassy website, they might make charming and known targets if NK wants to go all in

The news came in first on twitter - oh brave new world that has such things in it - and twitter is blowing up over here. Everyone is chiming in, though it is frequently the same posts being passed around again and again. The Honolulu Times is sending out tweets at an astounding pace, many of which are repeats and many of which are random and illiterate.

On expat Korean blogs things are only beginning to heat up..

the apologists are begining to come in:

I understand that people are hurt, but it’s not worth escalation. A strongly worded message is all they deserve.

And soon we will have the folks who blame this on S. Korea. There is a predictable trajectory (if I may be allowed that word when writing about artillery fire related trauma) to the political goings-on around here.

For now, my office is warm, outside is cool, and there is at least one corpse on Yeonpyeong with shells supposedly still falling.

I think I'll stop by the pub tonight and have a pint or two.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stanford beats Cal - great quote that could ONLY come from Pac-10

Stanfoo QB Andrew Luck knocked a Bear safety on his ass. After the game Luck's quote was"

On his long run, he said, "I didn't see (Cattouse) coming to hit me, but physics and inertia took over. Guys did a good job of blocking downfield. The O-line hustled their butts off. It was a good play to get things rolling."

LOL.. physics and inertia... you'd have to search the entire SEC (and I'm talking about their entire colleges, not their football teams) to find anyone who would put those two words together while describing football.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I need some backup singers...

Watching Cee-lo's brilliant "Fuck You" (I mean, the title alone, yeah?). It's a beautiful flashback to the Detroit sound or the Philadelphia sound. Being white, I get confused about these things.

The music is great and the video reasonably cute. But what it really makes me want, is some back up singers.... Anytime I said something I thought clever (which is very often, too often, probably), I could just gesture and they'd pop up and sing it as a chorus.

How cool would that be?

I would be the envy of all Korea.....

Now off to download the entire album.

(This post was completed in the time it takes to listen to the song once)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Looking Back, Bad Back, Baekchu

On Saturday we had a conference here at Buddhist U., and I was one of the lovely presenters. Did my new spiel about successes and failures of translation and it went over very well. I felt it was a bit scattered, as the room did not have a clock and I was trying to cut a few minutes off it (the previous presenter had gone a bit long). I met people from Ewha and HUFS, and they should be good contacts down the road.

Also. Seoul Magazine turned up an article short this month and put out a last-minute call for an author, which I jumped on as quickly as I could. 1,500 words on.. yes ... kimchi. Not exactly my expertise (other than eating the stuff), but exposure in the magazine is the best a foreigner can get in local mags, so it will be good in that way..

My back also started to tweak - symptoms like I had in my early 30's (5 years ago, I insist!). Taking no chances I immediately went to a 4-times a day stretching regime. Also, Yvonne has given me a gym membership for my birthday (a subtle hint^^) and running on the treadmill always loosens my back up. 25 minutes last night seem to have done the trick. I hope so, cause that last go-round was horrible and lasted months.

This weekend, I judge a speech competition and the division has another one of its lovely parties. Last year I won the "pop the balloon then drink the beer" contest, and I know all the young bucks are looking to dethrone me.

Won't happen!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Snapshots from Busan

A couple of weekends ago Yvonne and I went down to Busan. She went on Friday, and I went on Saturday (did a lot of grading on the train!). It was beautiful and we met with Yvonne's friend Katie:

That picture is of a place called 태홍대 (If I'm remembering the Hangul correctly). It's a bit outside Busan, but beautiful and we walked all around it, taking in a jazz concert along the way. Also, Korean kids were doing the wacky things that Korean kids always do.

As we came around the back part of the island, we saw off the port of Busan, which had a lot of moored ships.

Then it was back to Busan and a dinner with Katie and her parents, who were wildly friendly and entertaining. It's a pretty town.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dear Plagiarizer...

While it undoubtedly seems clever to plagiarize from the University's PR materials in a paper about why to come here? You might want to plaziarize from, and re-write, the Korean version.

Because given that I do ALL the editing of English promotional materials around here?

I'm likely to recognize that perfect English you're using as the result of my superior editing skillZZ!

And, you know.. plagiarism gets you an F.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

LOL.. Literature leads in to....

Last night I did another of my bi-weekly radio appearances on TBS eFM. We talked a little bit about problems with current Korean approaches to translation and publication. You can find that lovely bit of palaver here. It'll be the first sound file on the top of the page and you can drink (if ears can drink) your fill of my scratchy yet high voice.

What made me laugh was the song used as our outro. I'd never heard of it before:



Monday, November 08, 2010

weekend wastrelsy

Spent Saturday in the office working on various presentation things and getting my roll-sheets in order.

Saturday night was off to Sonofactory in Hongdae for a Nanoomi party at which I was also a presenter - giving my super-charged little speech on Social Media and the "task ahead" in popularizing Korean lit overseas. I was able to steal some slides from the presentation I'm preparing for next Saturday. Also, I'm a pretty good speaker now that I've been teaching the speech classes for a few years. A couple of tricks... put down the microphone, work the room, hold a glass of magkeolli. I made everyone shut up for the duration of my talk, which was more than the other speakers could do. ^^

That super fuzzy picture is of me in mid-rant.

Yvonne had a great time as well, she met the wife of my Radio-host-dude friend and they exchanged cards.

Yesterday was just about the lolling about......

Back to the grind today, it's cold and the fall leaves are swirling up off of Namsan like little red and yellow cyclones. Quite a view...

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Teabag, Teabagger, Teabaggest!

My wife......

Leaves her teabags about

Because the distance to the garbage can is too far:

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

'Modern Family' TV comment irks Peruvians ---- WHO?


Via SFGate...

Peruvians are miffed over a "Modern Family" episode in which a character suggests that the Andean nation is full of backward, violent people.

I didn't even know Peruvia was a country?

And a joke in a sitcom that goes like this:

"Now, maybe in Colombia ..." Jay (THE HUSBAND) begins.

"Ah, here we go," Gloria (THE COLOMBIAN WIFE) interrupts. "Because, in Colombia, we trip over goats and we kill people in the street. Do you know how offensive that is? Like we're Peruvians!"

is a tossoff joke..

but what really made me laugh in this article was this line:

Peruvian cyberspace lit up with criticism of ABC

Really? Both Peruvians on their 2400 baud, phone handsets in rubber receptacles emailed each other?

The whole power grid, all three batteries and the open coalfire... likely shut down...

the First of the Last Drafts!

It is the nature of the Korean Academic Beast that things will come up at the last minute and without a hint of warning...

About two weeks ago, my boss 'suggested' (which, in Korea, means 'ordered') that I put together some of the powerpoints I've been using in my graduate class to present at a 'small' conference that is coming up.

No problem, says I, and I cobble some stuff together and give it an ultra-hip "white text on black background' treatment, which screams, "hey, this presenter is not only criminally handsome and ferociously smart, but also handy with design. Perhaps I should hire him at higher wage than his current employer offers?"

Last week, in a casual conversational aside, I'm told, "oh, and we'll be needing a formal paper.. and a week before the conference." Seems the conference is actually rather official and features a conference document and everything....

So in the interstitial times (on the train to Busan, eating dinner, between classes) I have cobbled together a collection of high-velocity witticisms, brilliant apercus, and a pungent yet sensible conclusion...

Well, a first draft that someday might contain all that stuff. ;-)

Anyway... 12 pages in the hopper....

Now, off to watch my students do presentations on Korean culture (do you know Kimchi?)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Mui-do Part Deux

The next day I arose with the mogi, while Yvonne slumbered blissfully on til about 10. Then it was a walk back to the train station to get instructions on how to reach Wolmido. Wolmido had once been an island, which our travel book charmingly informed us had been “bombed to a flat pulp” just prior to the Incheon invasion in 1950-whatever. When we got to the train-station I noticed the signs that told us which way Wolmido was, and waited while Yvonne went into the knformation kiosk to get a map to replace the one she had lost the previous day.

Then it was about a half-hour walk to the island, which I had been to before. It has a couple of small amusement parks and a strip of restaurants, bars, and amusements, that faces the West Sea. Having arrived at this place, with a brand new map, Yvonne decided she did not want to stay, and that we must instead figure out how to get to Mui-do and Silmi-do, two islands that are connected by a spit of sand that is onoy accessible when the tide is out (thus leading Koreans to refer to it as the “Korean parting of the Red Sea,” the kind of ridiculous referential naming they do all the time). We learned that a ferry ride from Incheon to, well, Incheon, but this time the island with the airport, would take us to a bus, which would take us to a ferry, which would take us to a road we could walk to get to the beach.

All of which we did, making connections with alarming ease. As the bus took us through Incheon airport, we realized that there was a more direct way than we had taken, should we ever want to go back.

After the airport, it was 15-20 minutes to the ferry, which really only crosses about 300 meters of water, but is necessary to take the multitudes of cars that travel to Mui-do. The ferry, like most in Korea, was attended by hordes of seagulls – one of the “features” of a Korean vacation is feeding the wildlife, and at every ferry little kids clamor to buy chips and whatnot to toss to the voracious birds. Very different from the “hands off” attitude in the US, but also a bit more fun if you don’t mind encouraging the winged rats.

Once on the other side, the tide was out, but slowly coming back in. This revealed enormous muddy plateaus that were teeming with polliwog-like creatures where there were puddles, and crawling with thousands of crabs where there was mud. If you didn’t look too closely, it looked like the beginning of an acid-trip, when everything starts to move, oh so slightly (or so I’ve been told, of acid-trips!).

I hunkered down and took some shots, then we walked over a hill to the resort on the beach. It was really quite nice, and not crowded, for this is not the “resort” season. As we walking in, the nice guy selling tickets told us we would NOT be able to get onto the second island, as the tide was coming in and we would likely end up stranded. Instead, we grabbed some drinks, and sat on the beach and watched the water. It reminded me a little of some stretches of Mendocino – no rocks, and the waves here are puny, but the tree-ringed beaches.

Then it was off to walk to where the islands met and get something to eat. I found a place that had kalgaksu, which is always a safe meal, but Yvonne was interested in expanding our culinary experience. Everything was seafood (of course, it being an island) and so we ordered a kilogram of 족개 구이 (Grilled shellfish cooked on a traditional Korean barbecue grill, and we sat there eating it while the tide covered up the connection between the two islands. As Yvonne shoveled the clams into her mouth (the mussel had not impressed her) I asked if she liked it. She said, “we’ll know if I get sick,” and continued to shovel with a ferocity that would impress a backhoe operator. I thought a minute and asked back, “well, how do you know if you get sick because you eat too much too fast, or if you get sick because you don’t like the food?” She answered, “If my stomach starts too hurt immediately, I ate too fast, if it takes a couple of hours, it’s the food.” She gestured at the remaining clams, “put them on the fire.”

And she basically ate her way through them, though by the end we were too full to eat the oysters, and neither of us wanted to try the enormous snail-like thing that sate threatening us from the plate.

As this happened, we noticed a Korean couple on the other island.. a bit of a problem, since there was no longer a land-bridge between the two islands. They were forced to wade back in water that eventually became about chest-high. I snapped a few picture of them as they began this process. Fortunately, one of the two had noticed that about 50 meters from the “bridge” there was a high spit of sand and even though it was now covered, he/she knew where it was, and so did come across at the highest point.

They were good amused at their experience, and even stopped at the water’s edge to pose for photographers who had gone down to snap photos of them.

Then it was off to another section of beach to sit, read, and in my case take a short nap. An hour later, with the sun just beginning to threaten to go down, and the weather getting nippy, it was time to go back. We caught a bus back to the ferry, but still had a little bit of time, so took some stairs and an enormously steep trail to the top of a hill, where we sat as our sweat dried, and then headed back down. Then, ferry, bus to Incheon Airport, and we caught the Airport Limo to Itaewon, pausing to stop and help two kyopo whose unbelievably bad reading of Romanized Korean was flustering them and the bus driver, who couldn’t agree on if, or I should say couldn’t decide whether, the bus was right for them.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Brutal evidences of the changing of the seasons

It's actually still quite nice... crisp and clear.... but here in the Starbucks in Busan the "winter" treatment is on in full effect with the heat turned up to about 29 degrees AND WORSE? They are playing Xmas carols!

I'm about to go all full-Grinch up in here!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Man.. the first..

it is a very still life
prosaic not divine
a practical idea:
work shoes need to shine.

the very unknown famous man
snapped at a shoeshine stand
survives his gray homeland.

black and white portrayal
smudges even gray

that was once today....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Incheon Towards Oblivion Pt1

Last week, with substantial prodding from Yvonne, we (I) got off our butts and went away from Seoul. Well, kind of away from Seoul – all the way to Incheon, which is, admittedly on the Seoul subway system. We started mid-day with an unusual breakfast of fish and chips, which Yvonne insisted in. It’s a nice restaurant on the second floor, with good views of the largish intersection, and sitting there I snapped a photo of this fancy apparently on his way to audition for the role of guitarist in an AC/DC cover band.

I had to struggle to get my lens changed and he scooted around the corner before I could get a good shot of his haircut, which would have been somewhere between Rod Stewart's rooster cut, a tight perm, and something perched on the head of a madame in an old western.

He was tragically hip.

Then, we took a short stop at the bookstore, which is always fun because the ajumma, after initially believing Yvonne to be an international book-thief from the Philippines, had now come to love her without reservation, for all the money that she spends.

Sure enough, she spent some. I also picked up "Three Generations" which is an early-modern Korean classic and I'll have to review someday.

After a quick coffee it was off to the subway and Incheon. Incheon station is right at the foot of “Chinatown” so we began there. It’s rather small and can be canvassed in about a half an hour. Here is a picture of a bunch of Korean pretending to be Chinese:

And a picture of a random mask on a wall:

Behind (and up a rather impressive staircase) lies a large park largely dedicated to things having to do with the amphibious Incheon invasion that turned the Korean war in favor of the South. It includes a statue of General Macarthur staring defiantly off at the sea, or President Truman, or something. This statue is nearly always capped by a chubby pigeon, of which there are hundreds in the park, and this trip was no exception.

We wandered around a bit, randomly sightseeing, while Yvonne got busy with losing our map of Incheon somewhere between our trip to the general and watching some Korean kids play with the world's largest hula hoops:

This made our next steps suspect, but by following signs and a rough sense of where the shoreline was, we managed to find (DUH!) the used bookstores in town (on Baedari Street, 500 meters to the left of Dongincheon Station – if you are facing the station. So now you know how to get there).

Then it was a long ramble back towards the seafront, through a quite standard set of Korean neighborhoods. What was weird was that nobody seemed to be out and about, even though it was mid-afternoon/late-afternoon on a Saturday.

Upon finding the waterfront we turned to walk along it. At every corner Yvonne was amused that there were directional signs for the same 10 destinations. Incheon is small, and there really isn’t a ton to do there.

Which is not entirely fair to say, because there are several shopping districts, but I have never been able to classify shopping as a leisure time activity and it was no different in Incheon.

We found a love motel, and tucked in for the night, both a bit walked-out. The love motel was adequate, but had something I really don’t consider a grand idea – a bathroom with a glass door. Because nothing puts the “love” into a motel like catching an accidental glimpse of your mate at their evacuative duties, if you follow me there (and you probably shouldn't, because there's a glass door).

Then it was out for some really quite good and inexpensive Korean beef, and back to the motel to watch bad movies and brawl with the one extremely elusive mogi that managed to get in the room.

We went to sleep knowing that tomorrow would bring another day, and it would likely be tiring and expensive!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Daze..

Up early with a cup of coffee already in. It's a gorgeous day here - slightly crisp and the sun burning brightly in a clear sky. The leaves are just beginning to turn and fall, skittering around in the wind.

All of you suffering in the Bay Area can.. well.. suffer^^( and get back to me in December when it's so cold that only my undescended third testicle isn't frozen off).

One class left to teach for the week and I left my work shirt at home, so I get the bonus of teaching in a t-shirt and coat, which is always the best way.

Can't beat any of that any harder than a dog on the way to the bosintang bowl....

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Today.. in the cafeteria.. THERE WAS NO KIMCHI!

Darned Cabbage Shortage!

Also, and totally unrelated, I'm editing the sound files of interview with translators.... man.. they say "uuuh" a lot....

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Do a Colleague a Favor...

One of my colleagues at Dongguk is asking all and sundry to go his survey and answer some fairly brief questions about Yi Sang's "The Wings." You can do the man a favor right here:

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I'm Moving to Seattle

Because this is like my "wet" dream.....

Baby I'm a Star

The EIT division is having a one-day event in November with only one track. We are bringing in a speaker from Ehwa Womans University who is also a trainer for the Korean Literature Translation Institute. Right after that, they have just informed me, I will give a 3-40 minute presentation on translation from the perspective of the target culture...

This should be fun. Or career ending. ;-)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Listen to my Honeyed Voice

My last spot as a guest on the Blogger Roundtable at TBS - because the Korean Lit segment is much better.

Here is I:

It's nearly 20 megs.. so kinda slow..

Friday, September 17, 2010

At the Soccer Game

Shots from Seoul FC blowing Daegu FC out of the water. I went with my e-friend Tuttle, and had a splendid time. The stadium is great.

The inside is also pretty coo, but the rain scared away most Koreans (it was "foreigners" day)...And some wacky Adjumma decided to watch the second half from the rail, which blocked the view of most of our section!

Leftovers from Typhoon Kompasu

The typhoon two weeks ago beat Korea like a middle-aged wife (oooooouch~)...

The main gate of the school was closed because three trees had fallen across it, and as I traversed the bottom of the campus to get to the subway gate, there were three more trees down.

I got to work and talked to my boss, who had rushed in early that morning as she had left her car at the school overnight... She was pleased to see it had not been hit by anything and moved it to a place unencumbered by overlooking trees.

Then she went to get a relaxing cup of coffee at the on-campus Holly's. At which point an enormous branch snapped off above the Holly's, whomped onto the roof over which she sat, rolled back.. and came down balanced against the glass wall at which she was sitting, branch pointed as though a message from Mother Nature that you can run, but eventually you can't hide!

I, of course, didn't bring my camera til yesterday when everything was cleaned up except off-trail stuff at Namsan, which I took some pictures of.

Here is a standard variety tree fallen across a boy-scout trail.

Here is a more dramatic problem..

And today, when I hiked over to home? It was gone (And now you can see the lovely trees behind it in their "soon to be cut down for being tipped over" glory)!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Me, On the Radio

Take a wander over to KTLIT and click on the lovely link, to hear about a 10 minute interview with me...

Right Here!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Winn3rZ from WiNNrdom!

A grey sprinkly day here, but no so heavy that I couldn't take a ramble in over Namsan. The halmoni were out on the bridge from the Hyatt to Namsan Park, giving away free iced coffee. As soon as that got in the bloodstream the day took on a happier air. Because of the sprinkles, no Koreans to speak of were out (as tough as Koreans are about most things, if they can be sissies about the weather they will go full-sissy at the slightest opportunity).

Walking over Namsan there is a little break to the left with a very green meadow and for some reason it flashed an entirely different picture into my head - the Tuolomne Meadows as you start down towards Yosemite Valley. For the first time in a long time I felt a bit homesick. Can't wait to get back to The Empire in Decay (TED hereafter).

On the getting famous front, an article on me that was going to be in Koreana this fall has been pushed back to the winter issue. No sweat there.

I guest-starred on the maiden broadcast of a radio show called "Bloggers Roundtable" and this has apparently lead to my not only being on that show, but a segment (details are being worked out) on translated Korean lit that will air bi-weekly.

To add a slight frosting of powdered-sugar to all this honey, Kim Young-ha's translator is in town for a conference and has agreed to an interview with me. This will mean I'll have an interview with Kim himself, the review, and and interview with the translator.

If I can't turn that into a publication somewhere decent, I need to turn in my "Weasel: First-Class with Decorative Fringe and Extra Lube' ribbon.

For now, I think the search for more coffee must proceed.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


My students often wear English T-shirts that they don't quite understand, but this one was cute to me, because it is one of my favorite seminal bands..

LOL - I'm in class with 45 students...

Demonstrating how to use blogger. Thailand pics will go up tonight!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Summer Breaking.. Beauty!

It was hottish today, but windy and clear... a nice enough day to walk into work over Namsan which, despite substantial damage from the Typhoon, was green and practically glowing. The wind was pushing loose leaves, litte branches, dust and other detritus sprung loose by the Typhoon in little circles and then long waves down the asphalt... just a perfect fall day.....

And, my iPod was playing songs that sounded like they had been picked just for me! How weird is that.?

The semester is coming together well.. two classes are kind of cut and dried and the only trauma was that I was told that I was teaching a US/UK culture class when it turned out to be a class in Multi-cultural studies. So I'm kind of scrambling to get that one together, but it just means that I'll have another class totally prepped when this semester ends, since the US/UK one I prepared is pretty perfect.

I was a guest on TVS eFM last night (the English radio station here) and it seems it may lead to a regular spot doing a segment on Korean literature - it also led to a couple of people following me on twitter, which isn't really spectacular news, but it means that someone will be listening.

Now I have to figure out my flights to New Zealand for this December..

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chilling at the Coffee Shop, Watching the Umbrellas go by..

Still tired from two nights ago when the couple downstairs had a knock-down, drag-out fight for about 2 hours, from midnight on.

The wife is Korean and she doesn't handle alcohol very well. She was screaming shit, would run outside, slamming the door, then run back inside slamming the door and toss some of his stuff out the window. Repeat, repeat, repeat. At one point she pounded on their piano. Finally she went downstairs and for about 30 minutes rolled up then slammed down the corrugated metal garage door which covers our motorcyle parking area. All the time hollering incoherently until she finally screamed some understandable (on the language level) but uninterpretable (on the communication level) thing about a "computer" and "tomorrow" at which time she flounced down the rainy street in flip flops, a t-shirt, and her underwear (by this time I was watching out the window).

Yvonne was sick, so most of it passed her by.

Anyway, today the rain continues to bucket down, but as I have a meeting in Apgujeong I had to get out and vace it. Got to Apgujeong a bit early, so I'm watching the multi-colored umbrellas cascade by and enjoying a delicious cup of coffee.

Could be worse.

I could be in San Jose. ^^

Saturday, August 28, 2010

This is irony, tragedy, comedy, or some combination

As Elvis the Prophet once sang...

Stuck on the wall with a thousand faces
Unwanted posters of the haunted places

Roll up for the ghost train
Non-stop through the city
Step right up and show your face
We only want the pretty ones
Roll up for the ghost train
Non-stop through the city
Step right up and show your face
We only want the pretty ones

Which leads us to....

'Ghost train' hunter killed by train in North Carolina

A Tip for Terrorists

Flying in from Thailand to Korea we listened, for the 100th time for some of us, to the request to turn off our electrical devices as they interfere with instruments during landing (instruments that are apparently more robust when we are 35,000 feet in the air).

So.. next time you want to bring a plane down?

Just get about 50 of you on a plane, and just as descent (or take0ff begins)?

You all switch your cell-phones and iPods on at once.

You're welcome!

And if you see me on a flight I hope you will remember that I am working for you and your Muslin brothers, and bringing that flight down will stop me from further contributing to the cause!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sometimes Life Just Isn't Fair (and that works out for me)


Got back from Thailand just in time to open the file The Korean Tourist Conference sent to me and to discover that it was only two days away (I thought it was on the weekend). The conference was on the 26th and 27th (Thursday and Friday) but the the email also said we would "be on our own for dinner" on Wednesday.

Which implied, to me, they expected us Wednesday. Good, because Wednesday was the only night Yvonne had off. Bad because the clumsily worded email had only been talking about people who bused up from Daegu.

We got there to some consternation from the hosts, but they put us up in a totally killer suite on the 7th floor (lovely view of the surrounding valley). Then off to a very expensive dinner: 13,000 won for Galbi Tang! The soup was only average, but it was loaded with meat.

Then back to the hotel and watching TV and lolling.

Yvonne was called back to Seoul this morning and ran downstairs to buy us a quick breakfast of artificial orange-drink and sugar cookies!!!

She left and I cooled my heals until Boy Wonder Publisher/Friend showed up. He did and they didn't have his key ready, so we came up to my suite and watched TV.

When they did call, they told him his "shared" room was ready. He (rightly) was upset, and the conference officials acted like he was out of line. They said he should "understand," so he cancelled and went home.

His was the only presentation I wanted to see this afternoon, so after sharing a beer with him waiting for the bus, I am now in my enormous (solo) suite, while he is on the bus back home.

I'm watching TV, drinking beer, and waiting for dinner.

Soon I will start looking at the photos from Thailand....

LOL.. I'd feel guilty about all this, but I'm past that whole guilt thing...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Two odd things..

1) When we landed in Taipei Yvonne said, "Isn't that in Mexico?"

2) Tonight she asked if the people in Thailand spoke Taiwanese?

I do not know what to make of this!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thai'd to the Wheel

Saturday arose, gloomy, hot and humid, and we set off to try to find the Palace and Wat Pho.

I had a map and my innate sense of good directions. Consequently we got rather lost. We set off on a course just about 30 degrees to the right of where we should have been going. No biggie, except in sweat and Yvonne's panic, because we hit the river (kind of hard to miss) and I figured out that we had wandered about a kilometer off target.

We adjusted, and as we came to the bridge spotted two cool Wats (he's on first, you see!) which we checked out before walking across the river. Then, off to the left where we threaded our way through the SOME FAMOUS Market. The markets here make the ones in Korea seem limited (so many more kinds of food) but also make the ones in Korea seem spacious, as the walkway between stalls was often nearly indistinguishable from the stalls themselves.

It was godawfully hot and humid, and we each drank water continuously. After a breakfast/lunch of barbequed pig and pig-skin, we got to Wat Pho, one of the most famous of the Bangkok Wats. It has the famous Reclining Buddha which is epic (when I get back home I'll post pics) and tons of cute little semi-wild cats. What was kind of weird was that the further back you got into the Wat, the more epically the tourist count dropped off. This was less than a kilometer deep, but by the time you got to the back, you could take photos with no people in them.

Then it was off to the Palace, another "must see" for tourists. One thing we noticed was that Americans have fallen far, far back in the most obnoxious tourist competition. We are still the fattest by a country-mile, but Germans and French tourists were completely out of their minds. The Thai people want respect in their Wats and palace and have a dress code - some of the G/F guys were dressed like they had come through a shredder, and some of the women would have been propositioned on any major street corner in any major town. Kind of appalling.

There were several touts outside the Palace (the signs on the Palace warned us not to trust "wily strangers") and each time a tout spoke Yvonne was magically hypnotized and wandered over to them to talk. No amount of my hissing seemed to be able to stop her.

We walked into the Wat and were quickly overwhelmed. The architecture is interesting, but there is so much of it packed so tightly that its an overdose. The first spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, but the 20th spoonful induces vomiting. In one way it reminded me of Disneyland - if Disney and the Keebler elves had gotten ripped to the tits on LSD and gone mad with frosting and gold spraypaint.

This may be a result of having lived in Korea for so long - since Korea has very simple architecture even in temples, and much of the 'practical' architecture in Korea is simple to the point of verging on Soviet (USSR era).

Then it was in to the Palace, which was a bit more restrained, but many parts were closed off.

We got out of the Palace, and grabbed a tuk-tuk (little wheeled motorcyle cart) back to the hotel. It was more expensive than a taxi, but you kind of have to do it once in Bangkok or you haven't had the tourist experience: By which I mean spending 15 terrifying minutes careening through chaotic traffic, concentrating tightly (ahem) on keeping various body sphincters closed.

I was sunburned as could be, and we ordered in delivery food from a local A&W. Who knew?

Then it was off to bed - the hotel is minimalist, but very quiet, which is a darned fine thing!


Get away day was fine, except we got a bit lost at Yongsan looking for the airport limousine. After a few hectic, and sweaty minutes running all around, I spotted the sign (thank god for my limited Korean!) and we were off to the airport.

I've raved enough about Incheon, but this time I discovered and even newer great thing - NAVER has built a free internet cafe with about 30 laptops ... you can just walk in and use their computers for free. Totally cool.

We had Galbijim (or something quite like it) for breakfast and different lunches. I had a hotdog, and Yvonne, continuing to work on her case of adult onset diabetes, had two chocolate muffins. On the first leg of our flight, to Taiwan, we were fed a delicious meal by the airline. The other passengers were really rowdy, hollering and refusing to wear seatbelts. All Taiwanese, if language was any clue, but totally different from flying on predominantly Korean flights.

We had to offboard in Taiwan so they could clean the plane. A boring hour in a sterile room Because this was Taiwan, we had no currency to spend (they accept about 4, but not the won or baht) and there were no conversion kiosks in sight.

We got back on the plane and into the air, and some woman in front of us got really sick. They had to pull out the oxygen cannister and everything. Once that got settled down they offered us another meal. I was far too stuffed, but Yvonne, true to her form, ordered her 4th meal of the day and chowed it down. The only concession she made to being full already, was she didn't eat the octopus part of the side-dish, and ate out the pie-section of her dessert, leaving a little bit of crust behind.

We landed and cruised through customs - we had only brought carryon. In the airport lobby, Yvonne ignored my pointing out the free shuttle bus and headed us to the metered taxi. This turned out to be a little expensive, but worse, the dude just dropped us off somewhere "close" to our hotel. Thankfully, a super-helpful Thai guy gave us direction... we walked off and, just as we exited a 7-11 after asking for a second round of directions, the same guy drove by us on a motor-scooter going the other way and said "right there" and pointed to our hotel.

He had got his scooter, and driven up there to make sure we got to the right place!


It was raining and late... we went to the store to get water and beer and... oooops! Thailand is like England used to be.. they have "hours" for selling alcohol, and after 12 selling ceases. I'm assuming, given Thailand's party reputation for foreigners, this is only true of off-premises sales.

Anyway, there was beer in the fridge, so I had a couple and we passed out in a heap...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Perhaps my single favorite HST passage

“History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of ‘history’ it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened . . . There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning . . . And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave . . . So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

Monday, August 02, 2010

Planning? Wha?

Spent all day getting my materials together for Auditory II and burning a backup to DVD. A little bit of burnishing and printing tomorrow and I will have the entire classe done and in folders with a month to go before classes start.

Then it's on to Academic Writing - should be pretty simple...

Conversation is more of a wing-it class..

All that will be left are the two classes that scare me US/UK culture, and the dreaded graduate "Reading Korean Literature in Translation." I have a lot of lectures yet to build, there..

Monday, July 26, 2010

Whoa Nellie!

Kim Young-ha wants to have a beer with me..

I couldn't be a happier fanboy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Greek Love in Seoul

And that was just the men's room!

Actually, Yvonne and I headed to the National Museum because as part of an "International Arts" series that has truly rocked, the British Museum has sent some of its Greek collection over here.

We headed off on a stinky-hot (well, I was stinky and Yvonne was hot^^) morning and I got to use my limited skill in Korea banter with the cabbie, who was highly amused that I could speak any Korean. We got to the museum and it was spookily emtpy. The following picture is of the plaza before the museum, and on past visits it had been teeming with people.

Actually, that kind of looks like Greek architecture, as I look at it...

The exhibit was separated into 4 sections: Gods, Heroes and Outsiders; The Human Form; Olympia and Athletics, and; Daily Life.

They were all good, but if you looked at the brochure you had to laugh - every large sculpture is in the brochure and some of the small (and I mean, like, Barbie-doll size) figures are blown up to look a similar size.

Because of the distance, I suppose, most of what was sent to Korea was pottery or miniature. Having been to the British Museum, I was a little underwhelmed, but it was still cool and Yvonne seemed to dig it.

We were early enough that the Korean ankle-biters weren't out in force, which is always a good thing for health and sanity.

There was a rather blunt "erotic" section in "Daily Life," and as Ajummah walked their children through it, each kid taking copious notes in this section, as in every other section of the exhibit, I wondered if the Korean text was a explicit as the English - like when they talked about the Greek attitude towards sodomy/catamites (actually, this whole post was just so I could drop "catamite" into some kind of online discussion).

Later, Yvonne posed outside and we headed to Itaewon to get some Taco Bell. ;-)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Heavens to Murgatroyd!

Woke up this morning at 11:40 AM!

Haven't slept that late in quite some time...

Over the hill, here is the hottest new restaurant in Korea:
Yep.. that's an "out the door" line at a Taco Bell! Yvonne has eaten there twice, and there wait was about 40 minutes. 40 minutes out of my hair, as I think of it!

Then, on the subway, I see that SJECCD is out-advertised even in Seoul: