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: