Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Refusing to be foot-soldiers in the socialist war on Christmas, Yvonne (currently sleeping on the couch) and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Yes, that is our lovely xmas tree with all the presents.^^ We miss all of you who are overseas and look forward to seeing you this summer.

For now, there are little pockets of snow on windowsills and in streetcorners and we are safely in our warm apartment with the a deceptively friendly sun shining on the trees and rooftops.

If I only had some eggnog.^^

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Something else not on Google...

"You look wasted. Look how still I am"

It sounds like poetry and came from one of my students...

now it IS on Google!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Isn't that sweet - deranged^^ student wants me as PhD advisor

No way the university will let a foreign devil (well, actually a non-tenure track lecturer) do such a thing, but I'm happy that my name comes up in that kind of discussion among students..

Monday, December 12, 2011

All you pieces of sh*t

who never told me about the Dropkick Murphys can choke on your Guinness!

Jesus, some of you fairies probably don't even drink.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Seasons Change and So Do I (mainly? I get older^^)

Had a lovely birthday a few days ago. The lovely wife took me to the local where one of the bartenders had created this lovely piece of art(?) in recognition.

Today.. the last day of formal instruction.. it finally began to snow, but so lightly it was more like fairy dust than snow. Here is the complete damage:

Next week, as soon as finals are over - Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Some updates..

My Yonhap feature on Chi-young Kim (a truly great translator) is published:

And today I got an award from LTI Korea for an essay I wrote about Kang Yong-sook's "Brown Tears." They gave me an Ipod Touch which I immediately donated to the lovely wife....

And vacation starts soon.....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

After the Fallout, Fallen, I Fall for you...

I have a $500 job for Daesan Foundation (screening some translated fiction) that I need to finish. so it was quickly up to the Hyatt to spend 40 bucks on a green tea, coffee, and apple-crumble and then a walk over the hill to work. There is still a substantial amount of Fall in the air, and I had to stop and take a picture when I spotted an ajjumah who had dressed to accoutre the trees.

Then, as "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" came into the earbugs, I turned the corner on the Dongguk Tomb (of the unknown student?), where I stopped for a melancholy meditation on mortality.

But it got a bit cold, so I moved on (LOL - the earth is, as Sydney Smith once said, a coarse enough place).

Now, with Elton John (flashback!) pumping on the speakers, I'm trying to do some work.

Sort of failing.^^

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall has Fallen - Shots from Namsan...

R I Famous Y3t?

LOL - just won 2nd or 3rd place (depending on whether or not the list is in alphabetical order) in the LTI Korea "Korean Literature English Essay Contest." The essay was on Kang Yong-sook's Brown Tears (despite what the page says), a really great story. LTI Korea doesn't allow deep linking, but the page looks like this:

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Down in Anseong in Fall

On a bus at 9AM on a rainy Saturday. The bus is sparsely populated with my students and a few professors, and heated to “boiler room of Hell” levels, a mode the interior of anything in Korea is switched to the minute the temperature drops below 20. We are headed to somewhere called Anseong (I think) In Gyeonggni-do for a series of career seminars for our students. I am along in some kind of show of foreigner solidarity, my foreigner counterpart having buggered off to parts unknown.

At least we are on a bus – leaving Seoul on a Saturday morning can be fraught for the individual automobile and as we passed over the might Han (a thing I never get tired of) the automobile traffic clotted like blood in my aorta. I have a kind of upset stomach as the lovely wife shifted last night’s dinner away from a healthy stew to a pepperoni pizza. She was very hungry, I guess, as when she landed home with the pizza and I left the bedroom to say ‘hello’ she hadn’t even taken the string off the pizza box but was already down to the crust of the two pieces of white-bread she had stuffed into her mouth as soon as she got home!

Anyway, one of the bad (are there good?) things about oldage is food that I like now routinely upsets my stomach, and pepperoni is on that list.

Let’s just say that it’s fortunate I have a row to myself, and leave it at that.

And we got kind of trapped on the freeway... so I snapped this lovely picture of a traffic sign to my old hometown, Daejeon.

Yeah, it was exciting.

But we did get there, and even though the outside looked like Shawshank Prison, the inside was pretty nice, and it was a free room with a TV.^^

One of the features on the inside was that all the coin-operated stuff was free. This caused me some confusion on Sunday morning, as I tried to find a coffee vending machine that would accept my money. Eventually, I figured it out and enjoyed a deliciously bitter coffee. Here are a couple of students enjoying the vibrating chairs:

While the kiddies were in their career-planning sessions I took the opportunity to sneak out and take a walk, since in this part of the country it was in full autumn and the trees were going completely insane.

Then, of course, because I work at a Korean university it was time for a quick, small dinner, followed by an epic drinking session with beer, soju and makkeoli (some slight anju as well). The students were still going strong, drinking with abandon, at midnight, when I decided to go to sleep. I told everyone present that I would miss breakfast the next morning in order to sleep in, but that didn't stop each individual student and professor from knocking on my door in the morning (beginning at 7 AM) and asking if I was coming down for breakfast.

I stayed inside.

Some of the students were also feeling it.

The kids had to go in to get some more (hungover) career counseling and I took another walk.

On the way home, we got the disco bus!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Back to the Future: 49ers Edition...

OK.. so maybe not.. but after yet another victory I actually dredged the old U2 song "Out of Control" up on iTunes as it was the song we played, one Sunday long ago, during a Super Bowl, every time the 9ers scored...


And you can see the game highlights on a "hidden" youtube track, here...!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Is it that big a victory? (Snoopy Dance!)

Oh man.. I've been trying to get the last book in the Modern Korean Short Stories collection for about a year. There are 10 books in all, and I've picked most of them up here in Korea at used bookstores.

The book is Early Spring, Mid-Summer.

Unfortunately, the only swine selling it wanted $318.50 for it, and when another copy popped up the other swine priced it at $318.51.

I see what you did there.

However, randomly cruising Amazon today, I seem to have found a victory.

3 Dollars.... if true, that's epic. I've ordered it and it is being sent to the BKF's house.

Crossing fingers!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It is nearly beyond belief

At about noon this morning (Sunday in the land of tomorrow) Yvonne and I and a friend who had spent the night headed into Itaewon for breakfast at Sam Ryans. It's a good place to eat, because you can order everything a la carte.

Which Yvonne took advantage of in spades.

Yvonne ordered...
4 eggs
4 pieces of bacon
4 pieces of toast
Large orange juice.

The waitress then asked if this was the order for both of us!

As it turned out, it wasn't enough, and Yvonne added another 4 slices of toast and two cups of tea (as they did not have hot chocolate) to the mix (there is the extra toast in the background):

The waitress asked Yvonne if she were pregnant, and came by after Yvonne left to call her a "really big customer."^^

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

LOL.. maybe it's true it's the students who keep you going?

My mystery ability to have birthday every day on Facebook causes a student to post this to me:

WoW! Happy birthday first before everyone else post on your wall!! wish you all the best!. I was talking about your positivity with other friends. how enlightening you are. great spirit. Thats what Koreans need..God bless you..!

Now.. that's either a student who really likes me, or one who knows how to get an A+!

Well, an A. There should be an apostrophe in "Thats." ^^

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yes, this means YOU!^^

Grandfather watches the grandfather clock
And the phone hasn't rang for so long
And the time flies by like a vulture in the sky
Suddenly he breaks into song

I'm waiting by the phone
Waiting for you to call me up and tell me I'm not alone
I'm waiting by the phone
Waiting for you to call me up and tell me I'm not alone

Hello, speak up, is there somebody there?
These hang-ups are getting me down
In a world frozen over with over-exposure
Let's talk it over, let's go out and paint the town

I'm waiting by the phone
Waiting for you to call me up and tell me I'm not alone

Cause I want somebody to shove
I need somebody to shove
I want somebody to shove me

You're a dream for insomniacs, prize in the Cracker Jacks
All the difference in the world is just a call away

And I'm waiting by the phone
Waiting for you to call me up and tell me I'm not alone
Yes I'm waiting by the phone
I'm waiting for you to call me up and tell me I'm not alone

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Puttering Saturday

After an awesome Friday and a night of sleep that was good except for.. well..

{Yvonne enters room at 3am}
Charles: "You're going to need to go out and get a blanket."
{Yvonne snatches blanket from off of Charles}
{Charles curses and snatches blanket back }
{making as much noise as humanly possible, Yvonne goes out and gets a blanket she tosses and turns for 15 thoroughly awakening minutes then leaves to sleep on the couch}
{Charles spends 2 hours trying to get back to sleep}

The good news is that I then slept til nearly 11! Then we both headed down the street to get a coffee (mine a delicious double shot) and shop for plants. I bought some green-looking one, for that is what I favor in plants, as well as some fertilizer (비료). The entire project looked like this:

With the project successfully concluded (use your imagination - it's that plant in a larger pot), nothing was left but to continue to monitor the chicken stock from Wednesday night's chicken dinner.

Yvonne is off to Gwangwhamun, so I'm at home to do a bit of cleaning, and write a couple of articles that are coming due.

Windows and shades open as it is a lovely day in Seoul...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Forget dogmeat.. eat a stupid horsie!

Over at Roboseyo's website, some cultural imperialists are arguing it is wrong to eat dog meat. These folks are mainly vegetarians (LAME!) and vegans (LAMEST!), who I will not judge, for judgment is wrong (THEY ARE LAME AND DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT THEIR TEETH ARE FOR!). Then there are the idiots who claim that dogs are different from other meat because they fetch our newspapers and can lick their own balls (these anthropomorphists, I believe, are jealous of that and thus over idealize dogs).

But forget dogs... you can eat an animal that is a pet, a source of travel and in Black Velvet.

Yup, on Jeju you can eat stoopid horsies!

We got in the restaurant accidentally, because it said "Galbijjim" (Imagine that in Korean, if you can). But we sat down and I noticed there were "course" meals that included all kinds of weird things that are NEVER together in a normal Korean restaurant: sashimi, galbijjim, some soups, etc). The galbijjim landed and was very gamey... I then looked over my shoulder and saw 말고기 (horse flesh) which is a way a live horse is never described..

Suddenly it all came together and I realized all the pictures of the noble horses running on the beach, nuzzling their puppies (or whatever little horses are called), and rearing up on their back legs?

That was to get my appetite going!

Yvonne ate it up like it was morphine-based candy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yvonne wAntZ dinARZ..

So, as we walk around the streets of of Jeju-si she asks if we can eat in the local restaurant.

Yeah, that's her food!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jeju Day Three

After our rainy walk on Udo, we set off on the first "proper" section of the Olle Trail. We grabbed a cab from the hotel, which took us back to where we had been dropped off on our first day (a story that the Blogger ate, which I will repost shortly.) There, a few feet from the bus-stop, was the entrance to the first Olle Trail. On the other side of the road from it, there is an information booth that also sells small things like energy-bars and water.
That lovely picture is the beginning of the trail, and off to the right you can see the first 오름 (or "parasitic volcano' or 'small inactive volcano'). We walked for a bit, and then headed up it for a total of about 2.9 kilometers in. The views were ok, but not as good as from the 오름 we would soon go up. It was through pretty land, pastureland really, with lots of greenery, and occasional rain and cows. Also, of course, cowshit. Tons and tons of cowshit.

After a walk through the valley of the shadow of cowshit, we headed up the second 오름 the top of which had a brilliant view of Udo and a massive geographical feature that we weren't yet familiar with 일출봉, or "First Sunrise Peak." We'll get back to that.

Here is Yvonne trekking up the second 오름

And here she is triumphant, unaware of the evil that is to follow.

The first evil was that I, in shorts, managed to slip on the way down a relatively easy dirt trail. This smeared mud on my left calf to such an extent that the next day I had a differential sunburn. I tried hard not to contemplate what the cowshit % of the dirt was, and soldiered on.

Then the trail wandered down to a small store and then a flatish area with the traditional stone walls of Jeju (which I will post below this, because they are everywhere and kind of cool) and various plots of land. We wandered through this for some time, our packs growing heavier at each step.

Finally, we broke out of this (think of hedgerows in Europe) and came to a small village, in which we promptly became extremely lost, but unaware of the fact. We did notice that we were no longer seeing any of the painted blue arrows, or blue ribbons that indicated the trail, but we were confidently following a Korean family that had been on the Olle with us. One thing about the trail, if you're a "spaceout" hiker like I am, you can miss changes in the trail direction.

The evil town in which lostness ensued!

Anyway, we eventually got to a ferry port which was quite clearly NOT on the trail. By comparing a Jeju map to the Olle map, I figured out that we were on the "Shore Road" somewhere, and that by heading down it we would either rejoin the Olle, or figure out where on it we were.

Yvonne violently disagreed with this conclusion (an annoying thing she did at every opportunity) and it took some convincing to get her on the tread again. We walked a while and, sure enough, we eventually saw the reassuring blue ribbons and paint that marked the trail. Part of the reason we had got lost is that ALL road features on Jeju are marked in blue paint (e.g. gas lines, manholes) so it is easy to see false positives for trail markers. I'm not sure why the Olle folks didn't choose a different color?

Anyway, we were now on the "esplanade,' which just means footpunding regular old road. We walked past a bunch of squid hanging up to dry, and stopped for a beer and coke at a lovely roadside cafe directly after an equally lovely statue of a Haenyo (female diver for which Jeju is famous.

Then we plodded on, with so-so views of the ocean to our left.

An hour or so later, I was amazed to discover we had done a big loop... we were back at the hotel in which we had stayed the first night. Even more amusing, the guy who ran it heard our voices as we passed, and leaned out a 2nd story window and said hello to us (this story will make a bit more sense when I repost the first day). We trod on, until it became clear that we we going to end up about 300 meters from our hotel, before we finished the last 3-4 kilometers of our day.

The temptation was too much, and we headed for the hotel. ^^

We had meat for dinner, as we did basically every night that Yvonne and I were together. It's her all time favorite Korean food, though it sometimes wears me out.

The next day, Yvonne was to meet up with our friend Joy (Of the "Foreigner Joy" website) and the big geographical thing we had seen earlier turned out to be right behind the hotel. So, we decided that our next day would be hiking up that, retracing out lost section of the first trail, and then continuing on to finish the last bit of it.

At this point, I had begun to develop some awesome blisters, and a semi day off seemed quite appealing.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Olle Trail 1.1

On day two we headed over to Udo island to walk a 15 kilometer "easy" course around that island. We grabbed a cab, which was a bit ridiculous, because the hotel was close enough to the port that we didn't even get the meter turned over for the cabbie. I felt bad enough that I tipped him to the next chun-won, which was still a pathetic 3 chun-won.

The ticket office was jammed, and we got our tickets and hopped onto the ferry, which took us to one of the two ports on Udo.

We went a lot of cool places, which I will talk about when I get home and can post pictures.. Mainly, as Udo is known as "mini-Jeju," it gave us some hint of what to come, including some brilliant basaltic volcanic stuff, more of which we saw as we headed up the Olle Trail. That picture, by the way, is Yvonne tramping up the butt of the cow (Koreans believe that Udo is an island in the form of a cow lying down, but you know, with cows, they can lie down a lot of ways).

But at a certain point we not only lost the trail (which was actually the second time we'd done so) but it began to rain in horrible shitty buckets. We cranked our way past the lighthouse and to the rather nice beach on the backside of the island. Unfortunately it was really pouring by now, and Jeju is quite windy, so the rain comes in sideways like bullets. While we were stopping so that I could take a picture of Yvonne in full raingear, a car with a young/middle-aged couple stopped to make sure that we were ok. More of that lovely Jeju attitude.

We trudged on until we came to three young girls on bicycles who had stopped by the side of the road to figure out where they were going to go next. They stopped us in the middle of the road and showed us their map, and where we should go. As it turned out, even on our lost walk we had pretty much followed the Olle trail (not unlikely given that it's a small island that you just kind of walk counter-clockwise on). We dried out in a bus stop with a halmoni, and caught a bus that sort of drove us back the way we had come, and brought us back to the port.

We returned to Songsan and our new hotel pretty unimpressed by what we had seen of the Olle trail. It had basically been on a main road except for some rather random and short excursions into horse-fields and meadows that then immediately dumped us back on the road.

Underwhelmed, we contemplated out plans. We decided we would do Olle Trail 1 the next day, and see if it was a bit better.

For dinner we had some of the fattiest pork we've had in Korea....

An unispiring day, and we were kind of beat down by all the pavement we had walked on, and all the camping equipment in our backpacks - and we hadn't seen a single site worth camping in.


Oh well, we had seen some cool basalt formations in the sea, some cool beaches, and at least gotten a start.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day One - getting there

WARNING: This post may contain incidents of extremely friendly and supportive behavior from total strangers!

Yvonne and I headed to the airport (Gimpo not Incheon, so much closer to home) on Friday morning, and boarded a Jeju Air plane to Jeju city. The flight was relatively boring, except for that bit where the waitresses-in-the-sky put on bunny ears and ran two games of rock/paper/scissors for everyone in the cabin. We had no idea what the gifts were, but by the second game Yvonne played vigorously but unsuccessfully, being knocked out in round number one.

Then it was out to hot and sweaty Jeju. We grabbed a local bus to the intercity bus terminal, and there grabbed a bus down to Siheung-ri, the bus stop from which we had been told we could find our hotel. The trip down was uneventful, except for the fact that there are two really similar busstop names and I freaked out for a moment when, 20 minutes into the ride that name came over the intercom. I raced out my map, and figured out by highway signs that there was no way we were close to our stop. So I could resume my typical near-coma state.

At this point, we began to get the notion that Jeju was very different from Seoul; in fact, much friendlier.

It became clear we were not going to make it to our hotel at the time we had agreed on. My lovely wife called the hotel and got the guy who knows absolutely no English. They confused each other for a while, during which time two young ladies got on the bus, one of whom sat next to me. I asked Yvonne for the phone and called the hotel. In my (what is more than 'broken?') Korean, I told him we were on the way, but used the wrong numbering system in talking about time. After I hung up, the woman complimented me on my Korean (in Korean, which is one of the few bits of business in Korean that I can now easily hear - it's all that follows that is gibberish to me^^). We then chatted for a bit before she opened her purse, pulled out a just-dead starfish, and offered it to me as a gift.

This was touching but bizarre. Without going into nasty detail, "starfish" is a word that some expatriates use to describe Korean women in a derogatory way when they are in, shall we say, compromising positions?

Still, she had sat down, started a conversation, and was just about to help us on the phone when the hotel guy rounded up someone with some English, who sorted things out with Yvonne.

When we finally did get to our busstop, and it turned out that all the Olle Trail busstops are announced as such in Korean, English, and Heathen Chinee, we hopped out into the middle of what looked like nowhere.

We wandered, tentatively, this way and that, but it was really in the middle of nowhere and there were no taxis (which is how the hotel had told us to get there).

So, before calling a taxi company, we talked to some people on the scene. One woman had no idea, but when we talked to two ajjumah getting into a car, they sprang into action. They called the hotel to find out where it was. We had communicated to them that the hotel said we should take a taxi, and when the first ajjumah put down the phone from talking to the hotel, she started rapidly talking to her friend in what was clearly disbelief that the hotel had guided us here.

So, she pointed to where the hotel was, and then put us both in her car and drove us there!

This meant crossing a highway, driving down a gravel road, cruising through a couple of of walled neighborhoods, and then dropping us off at the hotel, which, as a bonus had been renamed!

I simply can't imagine this happening in Seoul. Jeju is unbelievably friendly.

When we got to the hotel, the hotel guy was super sympathetic/apologetic that we had got lost, and helped us into the room. One look at Udo (the island offshore) and I began to change my plan. Udo has an "optional" Olle Trail, and I decided that would be a good way to start. So Yvonne went down to ask the hotel guy if we could get a second night.

Alas, the hotel was booked.

10 minutes later, he came up and knocked on our door.

He had begun calling other hotels in the area, and had found us lodging for the next night that was even closer to the ferry port that his hotel.

Again, an act of massive and gratuitous friendliness.

We walked into town and had some BBQ pig, then headed back to the hotel for some sleep, with the real fun beginning the next morning.

Hotel Guy

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

LOL at ITunes

When it gives me the Von Bondies "C'mon, c'mon" backed with the Buzzcocks "Hollow Inside" it seems to be asking me to do something with some particularly sharp cutlery and a few arteries. ^^

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rapture in the Hood

My new hero stands on the edge of the street with a bottle of beer in his right hand, and a bottle of soju in his left....

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Doctor, Doctor, Please.... Oh, the Mess I'm In... Part 1

Oh.. such a bad blogger and so much has gone on...

two nights ago I wandered into the local and ordered a beer. My friend, an army nurse/administrator was sitting there. He's a crew-cut and fit dude of roughly my age.. to the right of him were a group of younger men with the same look but a bit younger, some of them nearly out of swaddling clothes.

There was no room at the bar as they were drinking car-bombs, Jaeger-bombs, and beer. Much macho banter (which should be the name of a drink) filled the air. As the conversation at the bar continued these guys rotated in and out of the seats.

Until the point that the crippled one tried to get on a chair.

He was lanky and red-headed and had some kind of disease that hampered his ability to get up onto a bar stool. The bar stools at the local are particulary tall - the wife has to acquire the services of a sherpa to ... well enjoy sex... but also to get up on the bar stools.

I think I've said "stools" too many times?

But this dude had a right arm that was in some kind of curved rictus and I nearly got up to help him onto his barstool.

Which would have been wasted effort because the crippled lad bolted from the bar.. barely escaping the open glass doors to the right, to vomit profusely ... partly onto the shoes of his buddy

To the left of me one of this buddies said, "he shouldn't have had those two ambien."

Outside, the red-head vomited again.

His leaving had given me a chance to sneak up to the bar, rather quickish.

I asked my friend if these were his buddies, and he said, "no, but I know them."

Turns out they were the bomb squad (Hurt Locker, for you LA fucks)

For the rest of the evening (to be related next post) they played that macho game of dismissal/love/homoeroticism (in a thoroughly non-gay way)/brawl that all us boys love to play...

Ah.. yeah.. the wife and I also went to Hwaesong... google it.. or I may post...

It's totally cool..

the walls of a fortress include the cool full fortress part and a killer park. Then they lace through the community as well..

Come on over to Korea.... Yvonne and I will show you around!

all the wires are black! and tangled.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Didn't even see a berry flashing those high beams

Got to work and it was presentation day, which is always an easy one. I just sit there and grade them, and the grading is done by the time I leave the classroom. After that it was sitting around for 45 minutes waiting for the “teacher’s day” celebration of the English Interpretation and Translation Department.

This even is always super-fun as the students enjoy anything communal, and it involves cake. I was able to bust out about this much Korean when it was my turn to speak

Everyone, students and professors, welcome. That student (pointing to a guy who had spoken earlier) has good English. I have bad Korean. I will practice it (I botched that sentence badly!). I love teaching my students. Now, I will speak in English.

It was pretty ragged language, but students always like the fact that I even try – in fact Koreans in general will treat foreigners who know a little Korean better than non-speaking foreigners.
Once all speeches were done, the cake-candles blown out, and the pictures taken, it was time to call it a day. The video of the episode of the cake is here:

The day was too nice to go back home and after calling Yvonne without results, I headed down to City Hall Underground Shopping Center and bought a book I had been looking for and that seems to be out of print even though Amazon offers ‘new’ ones; Everlasting Empire.

Then it was up to City Hall Square where some enormous festival was setting up. On the side was the “adoption day” (입양 달) booth, and they had some cute kids drumming. So I took a lovely home movie which I have reproduced here.

It was still too nice to head home, so I headed for a Starbucks, relatively deserted by Seoul standards, and grabbed an Americano and typed all this.

My weekly three-day weekend begins tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Yesterday's Rain

The lovely wife came home for lunch (Monday is my day off), and after I hurriedly despatched my rentboy out the bedroom window, we headed over to Yongsan to get ink for our printer, and then took advantage of an empty restaurant with a wide open front, to snarffle down some tueji galbi....

A nice mid-day surprise!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Some Marriage Thing..

The sun struggles up, another beautiful day
And I felt glad in my own suspicious way.
Despite the contradiction and confusion,
Felt tragic without reason,
There's malice and there's magic in every season

So yesterday our friend got married and with all the best signs - free booze, barbeque, and the rain dissapearing into the ether. This last thing important for a wedding conducted on the roof of the Somerset Hotel (up there by Angguk Station). It all went well and it was free booze for nearly 5 hours, which has left me nearly unmanned today. ;-)

Still, a super event and I believe the picture below suggests a happy marriage will ensue. They are already ignoring each other, and he has a bottle of beer tucked into his elbow...

Nice-uh, as we say..

Friday, May 06, 2011

Seonyudos and Seonyudonts! Being part uno...

Last weekend the lovely wife and I both had Friday off as a result of a class-switching (I became toff) binge with another foreign instructor who wanted to go visit China to attempt to procure a mail-order husband.

So we decided we'd head down to the Gunsan and then catch a ferry to Seonyudo, which is one of three very small linked islands off the southwest coast of Korea. It's sort of an expat "todo" and by getting there on Friday we'd be in advance of any other tourists, which was likely to be a small number as this is not "island visiting time of year" (Koreans work to internal and unknown clocks that would be the envy of the Borg).

Consequently, we got up early on a day off and headed to Yongsan station to catch the Saemaul to Gunsan. This was good for me as I love the Saemaul ("New Village") and had work to do. The Saemaul has a totally cool club-car and I went in, grabbed a delicious sammich and coffee and worked on sound edits for all the way down. Yvonne, as is her wont, napped. As we crossed the river to the north of Gunsan I noticed a sign that said "Ch'ae Manshik Literary Museum" (Except, like the cool dude I am, I noticed it in Korean). Manshik is one of my favorite short-story writers and I put this away in my head in case I ever got back to Gunsan.

At Gunsan sation, while waiting for the bus, got bored and grabbed a taxi to the wharf. Probably a good move as it turned out, since it was a pretty long haul and the bus would have been even more boring.

When we got there, Yvonne talked to the ticket office which immediately put her on a cell-phone with an English speaker.

Drats and confounderation! Bad weather had stopped the ferries from running.

About 15 minutes later we headed out of the terminal and to the exact same cabbie who had brought us from the train station. He asked if the time had been bad ("shigan" something or other that was clear enough to me to answer in my shit Korea.... I answered the weather was bad and then sat sulking in the cab as I realized I should have said the sea was bad. I suck at Korean).

This time, since we had nought all else to do, we headed over to the Ch'ae Manshik Literary Museum where I got that treatment I sometimes get - Korean docent going mad that foreigner gives a crap at all about Korean literature.

The man, the legend!

This was wildly exacerbated by the fact that I accidentally had "My Innocent Uncle" (A work by Manshik) in my backpack. I spoke what little Korean I have and the docent went mad, chattering at me like a chihuahua with an amphetamine suppository in its ass. All, good... I got a bit of it and she was super happy to lecture, particularly about the museum's kind of cool map of Korea and regional authors.

The joint (on the river, so kind of nice)

Finally, we went out to catch a cab, but as we were in the middle of nowhere, had to hike back into town. Probably only an hour overall, but because we had supposed to have been at a beautiful island, I was dragging my laptop and all my camera gear in a backpack with only one strap. Then there was the shitty weather - which had halted our amphibious assault on Seonyudo. It sprinkled ever so lightly, but threatened consistently. I loudly, repetitively, and without much imagination, blamed Yvonne!

Once in town, we caught a cab from a cabdriver who couldn't understand anything I said in Korean or read a map (In Korean!). He left us on the bayline of Gunsan which is, to be fair, an absolute asshole of an area.

It is slated for urban renewal (apparently) and walking around it was spooky as all the stores are closed.. the houses broken. We could see no restaurants, and it took us a very long time to find a yeogwan. This was partly because when we were in an area with restaurants, Yvonne insisted we keep walking until we find a galbi joint.

Said "find" never happened.

Walking into the yeogwan the proprietors were on the stoop (all of a sudden this area is reminding me of bombed out areas of New York...well, you know.. minus crime, vandalism, or graffiti) and immediately ask me, in Korean, "do you speak Korean well?"

I laughed and said I spoke very little, but wondered what would have happened if I couldn't respond in Korean? What a weird question to ask in Korean.

Didn't matter.. for 30,000 won we got a very simple (large) but adequate room with a big TV and no computer. Also, it didn't have the usual "love pack" of condoms, lube, and whatnot, although we did get toothbrushes and a razor I wouldn't use on the corpse of Osama bin-Laden. Shortly, Yvonne got on the iPhone and hassled the help enough so we got directions to a galbi restaurant that was only about 10 minutes cab drive away.

To cool down we went to a "coffee/drinks" place across the street that was probably nice once. It was spacious and had big booths with couches, but also had no customers, plenty of flies, a weird smell, and a staff consisting of a completely bombed (but quite understandable?) Korean man and his wife who, once we were served, went back to their business of fighting with each other. One drink and we were out.

So we headed up to the galbi place, ate well, and came back for sleep.

Big slabs o' Tuegi Galbi

During the morning the promised storms came through.. rattling the metal rooftops of the surrounding buildings and with thunder crashing....

Yvonne, of course, slept through all that bit.^^

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Yvonne will have to drag me out of Seoul in various leak-free bags

Ship to ship, in and out,
I give and they take.
I punch that clock,
And punch it hard enough to break
So join the rank
This is the rank
We are the rank
Oh rank and file and there is no denial
Rank and file
Join the rank and file
This is the Rank and File
And there is no denial!

After a day like today I fear returning to that shite in the US^^...

Switched my evening class and tomorrow morning's class away to my co-prof who will need me to cover her classes next week.

Took the "best class EVAR!!!!" down to the park for pizza.. these guys are super-duper-stars and the weather cooperated. This picture was taken at a critical part of our little party as you can see there is only one ("1"!) piece of pizza out there. It lay there forever, with no one wanting to take the last piece (after a nearly magical disappearing act on the previous 5 pizzas) until one of my male students grabbed it so quickly that part of the topping slipped off.

It was funny to watch what got eaten.... the pepperoni pizzas were gone first (Yay Globalization!), but my students being Korean, the potato pizza was the next to go (Yay Korean Exceptionalism!), with the bulgogi (beef) pizza coming in a sad, but eventually digested, last.

The woman giving the peace sign and pulling the horrible face is probably my best student, and that is NOT what her face really looks like. The woman behind her is a crazy dynamo... all these students rock.

I should note that the class switching noted above will allow the Lovely Wife and I to head south tomorrow and check out Seonyudo.. three linked islands of Gunsan.

Then it was off to gwangwhamun to visit the Ilmin Art Museum and take in the Black, White & Pink ( A decent title for a porno movie, now that I look at it) exhibit and the Urban Depth (Holy cow, two porno titles in a row?) exhibit.

Both really great.. but you'll have to wait and go over to to hear about that.

Then back home to put the "Rank and File" music I've downloaded into Itunes. And, yeah, I paid for that shit when it was vinyl so I don't give a rat's ass that I downloaded it.

Cause I'm a rebel like that.

The song "Rank and File" may be the loveliest (and countriest) song of desperation ever. Well.. no.. of course Johnny Cash did that one. So let's just say it's the best country-punk song of the country-punk genre, with horse-gallop drumming, some of the coolest lead treble-chorded guitar ever, and the best melding of vocals Rank and File ever did.

Now chilling at a home that the Lovely Yvonne cleaned in expectation of the podcast boys tonite.. That will entail having a drink, and cavorting brain-wise.

Outside the window the sky turns increasingly blue and clouds from a finger-painting hang, merge and reform.

I may just take a nap..... ;-)

Thanks, thanks a lot
I got a broken heart
that's all I got
You made me cry
And i cried a lot
Honey, thanks
Thanks a lot

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weekend Wrapup

Spent Friday and Saturday morning prepping for my presentation at KATS (Korean Association of Trans.... something something) at Ewha. Hopped up on Saturday morning and ran to work, printed various things out, caught a cab and was at Edae in time for lunch.

Presentation went well.. I'm a bit off in the field, because I'm interested in data, marketing, and then there's that language I speak.^^ After I headed back on the subway and met my newish friend Paul, with whom I'm working on a new podcast project, The Korean Culture Report.

The rest of the day was spent chilling with him, then the lovely wife, and watching the Korean movie, Peppermint Candy (which will be reviewed shortly on the blog I just linked).

Today was spent working on the website, bookshopping with the wife, and relapsing on the cold front.

Anyway.. also looting the camera.. some pics of how beautiful the Uni is right now with the flowers blooming and the Buddha's birthday about to happen. The Uni ajusshi ring the Uni with lanterns, and as night fall it's something like Disneyland.

On the way to my office....

During the day...

As evening descends (like a SCYTHE!!! REAPING US ALL!.. ahem)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hey look.. I'm even more famous than EVARz!


I got a feature article on Yonhap, at any rate

Catching up on a busy weekend

It was a very full weekend. After two years of talking about it, we finally booked a tour and headed up to see the DMZ. This was not a USO tour, so we didn't get to Panmumjon, but in some ways that was better as we didn't have to catch the bus until 9:30 AM and we were back in downtown Seoul by 5:30.

The DMZ focuses on trains a lot - because it is still one of the ways that the countries are connected: This lovely train below is the "peace train" and I could almost hear Cat Stevens singing as it left the station.
Then there was the somewhat confusing "suicide statue" which apparently shows two intrepid explorers about to hurtle to their death.

There was also the requisite commercialism:

And two idiots who went about acting fools. I got back to work on Tuesday and one of my colleagues asked, "were you on the tour with the Russian idiots?" I initially said no, because these guys were on the other tour bus, but as soon as my colleague said a tour-guide had yelled at someone on our tour for inappropriate behavior I knew it was these guys. I hadn't got close enough to them to hear their language, but have to confess I was pleased to hear they weren't from the US.

Here is the lovely wife posing:

And a detail from a somewhat poignant piece of art (The cities are Seoul and Pyongyang) at Dorasan Station:

Sunday, based on a similar premise as Saturday's trip - that is that we had never made it to see the cherry blossoms in our 3 years here, we headed to Yeouido to check out the last day of the Cherry Blossom Festival. It was quite crowded, but also quite pretty.

We got us some food -

I ate this terrifying thing, which I will never try again. It's a corndog deep-fried in an additional layer of something nasty that seemed to feature coconut. It was greasier than a horny Italian.

Some of the park was lovely

And we ended up walking down to Hangang Park and watching families play and kites fly.

This is that time of year when everything is ridiculously beautiful... Namsan is girdled in various flowering trees.. and I'm glad its midterm week so I don't have to ruin it with any work.