Sunday, May 30, 2010

With joy. Always with joy.

Hello, readers.

I love Neil Gaiman. I also love Ray Bradbury. It also happens I love good coffee, curiously curly hair, and lost moons, but that's neither here nor there.

What's important is this article Neil Gaiman wrote about Ray Bradbury. Having just finished reading it, my general opinion of the world, existence, and other such things, is hovering somewhere between fantastic and not too bad.

That's what happens when writers you love write about loving other writers you love. It's a love-ocalypse.

Yes, I did just say that. No, it doesn't really make sense.

In other news, Lost ended, and I watched it, and it may, or may not, have made sense, but making sense has never been a requirement for me when it comes to narratives involving polar bears and time travel. While watching it, I had thoughts about things.

Here's a few.

1) Okay.

2) Sure.

3) Really?

4) It occurs to me, that Lost is not written with the sort of tight, witty, brilliance of some shows. It's written, I think, more like The Odyssey, or Indiana Jones, or maybe even, to some extent, as something like Star Wars. It's big and mythic and unwieldy and prone to tripping over its own ambitions in the pursuit of cheesy, spectacular melodrama.*

5) But on the other hand, it's always been about people more than anything else: who they are and why they do what they do, and, in that sense, it's a small show about small moments like two people's hands touching around a candy bar. And so, the alterna-flashes always worked for me, because it was just another way to focus on who the characters were, like putting mice in a different habitat and seeing how they behave different, and how they behave the same.*

6) And now there's crying.

6) "There is no" is perfect. Very Slaughterhouse Five, very Faulknerian as Barry Hannah would say, and very much what Lost, with its wibbly wobbly time has been saying for six seasons.

7) The closing shot is perfecter. Yay.

And now, here are pictures of Gandalf, the alien from Alien, and children.

Happy Sunday, readers.


p.s. Thoughts 4 and 5 are taken from an email written to someone I love, and so, technically, it's cheating to include them in the list of thoughts had while watching the show.

p.p.s. Except that everything is happening all of the time, so really I've always thought those things about Lost, even before Lost existed.

p.p.p.s. Nothing here makes sense.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Where was I again?

Hello, readers.

It's Wednesday in Seoul. That means, among other things, that I do not have an after school class. Those I have on Mondays and Tuesdays and, as much fun as they are, it's a bit odd getting home from school at 8:30 or so. Happily, the fun part makes up for the oddness.

Such as being able to watch The Princess Bride with the Tuesday class. But you already know about that, because of twitter and magic and what have you.

On Sunday, I watched the lantern parade held in honor of Buddha's birthday. It consisted of drummers and dancers and floats and people carrying, as you might expect, lanterns.

The drummers were decked out in traditional garb which was both colorful and dramatically wavy. The dancers were also pretty. They were also sometimes drummers. The dramatic waviness came into play here, with the spinning and jumping and drumming happening simultaneously.

The people carrying paper lanterns were sometimes monks and nuns, and sometimes just regular people who took the time to make a paper lantern.

The floats were very bright and usually in the shape of animals--most often elephants, tigers, or dragons--or of people--most often Buddha in his various shapes.

Before the parade, I had a very nice dinner at a traditional Korean porridge well-being fast food chain restaurant called, Bonjuk. I had the black sesame porridge. The chairs were very comfortable.

Below, are pictures of the parade.


Happy animals. Giant rainbows. Blue-haired ducks holding syringes. This float has it all.

ttfn, readers.

p.s. To those people waiting for me to write about my visit to Incheon, and my participation in art performances, I have not forgotten. It's just that I haven't written about it yet.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Trust your story. Also, Starship Sofas. They seem safe.

Hello, readers.

Three things.

1) Watch this. It's Neil Gaiman reading his poem, "Instructions," over a video of Charles Vess' illustrations.

2) StarShipSofa, a British podcastic science fiction magazine hosted by Tony Smith--and the first podcast to ever be nominated for a Hugo, made a brief mention of "The Blue Wonder" on their April 27th show. It comes up during the Fiction Crawler segment done by Mathew Sanborn Smith. In the description, Mr. Smith says many kind and thoughtful things about the story. Near the end, he describes it as perhaps being Post-Post-Watchmen, which, I think, emphasizes how important and awesome Watchmen is, that it, like Modernism, has now earned the distinction of being so definitive as to still be the point of comparison two posts into the future. Well done, Alan Moore.

And thanks to Mr. Smith for the thoughtful and kind words.

While you're there, don't skip "The Ray Gun: A Love Story" by James Alan Gardner. Not that you would, of course. How could you skip a story with a title like that?

3) Lastly, it's come to my attention, through failing to type correctly, that a one-day Gospel Music Archive plans on existing at this address: Just thought I'd give you a heads up.

Here are some pictures, some of which are of the new cedar bits previously mentioned.

There are many crosses in Seoul. Many of them outlined in red. Not all of them have cranes behind them, though, and so this one was special.

These two are from Namdaemun, a giant market, where I bought new glasses and shoes and avoided the copious amounts of fried goodness.

This would be from Cafe MMMG, which is a whimsical design studio/coffee shop where they sell journals, bags, post cards, and other things of their own design.

This is a jazz bar where, on Thursday night, a lady named Lynn Cardona sang jazz songs. After this, at another bar, she drank a very dirty Martini. I have no pictures of that, I'm afraid.

Cedar and books and spices.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Furniture and The Sound of Music

Hello, readers.

Today I bought a writing desk and a cooking desk. The writing desk is a 100 cm bit of cedar. The cooking desk is a 80 cm bit of cedar on top of a 70 cm bit of less than cedar in which there are doors and one shelf. The writing desk will be for writing. The cooking desk will, actually, not really be for cooking so much as chopping things, storing things, and taking up space in a hopefully pleasant way.

I paid 200,000 won for the pair, which equates to somewhere around $180 ish dollars. They gave me a deal because I live down the street.

It happens that in my neighborhood of Seoul there is a Furniture Arcade. Quite convenient, really.

The shop I visited was mid-way up a hill, and more or less the size of a small walk-in closet. It was run by a man and woman who were married.

The woman spoke very good English. The husband drew very good sketches of what my furniture would look like as per my desires as translated by his wife.

When the wife asked if I'd like a sheet of glass on top of my writing desk, I said no, I like the feel of the wood.

To which the wife said, we are the same.

When I asked her how she knew English so well, she said she had a passion for English. She did her thesis in college on The Great Gatsby. She's a fan of Dickens, even though his stories are not happy. "Most of my favorite stories aren't happy," she said. She is reading, right now, though, a book called The Little White Horse which is a children's book recommended by J.K. Rowling.

After the purchasing was done, the husband played for me "Amazing Grace" on his violin and also something Korean on his traditional Korean instrument that looked kind of like a flute, or a clarinet, in that it was long and had holes in it, but really it resembled nothing so much as a piece of bamboo in which someone had cut holes. Maybe this is what it was.

"The sound isn't good," the wife said. I think she was right. But it was still nice.

We also drank some Makgeolli together, which is a traditional rice wine.

"We don't do this normally," the wife said. "It's just that feeling that you've known someone for a long time even though you only just met."

We had our drinks and music in the furniture store, surrounded by desks on which were piled bookshelves, on which were piled smaller bookshelves. On some of the shelves were English books such as The Grapes of Wrath which the woman said she had read ten times. For comparison sakes, she has read Pride and Prejudice only three times.

I asked her if she had always lived in Seoul, and she said yes, that in fact she had always lived in this area. She said she was too timid to leave. That books were how she escaped.

She only just came to work with her husband two months ago to help pay for her son's tuition. He's studying to be a musical actor. Their daughter may end up doing something similar. She practices singing all day, the husband said. English songs. All day.

Earlier, when I had asked the woman why she loved English so much, she told me it was because of The Sound of Music. She saw it when she was seven.

I think, probably, I will buy more things from them. Maybe some bookshelves. It seems appropriate and also necessary, as, at the moment, my books are arranged into two main groups: one group being stacked neatly along the floor of one room, and the other group being stacked oddly inside a kitchen cupboard.

We do what we must, readers.


p.s. May the fourth be with you.

p.p.s. Could someone get this walking carpet out of my way?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ok Goldberg

Hello, readers.

I like puns.

Also, Rube Goldberg.

And, unrelatedly, Nickel Creek. I bring them up because Cafe Sakura is playing "Reasons Why" and hearing that breezy, golden, kind of sad sound in Seoul has surprised and distracted me.

That sort of thing happens a lot here. Not Nickel Creek so much--this is the first they've popped up--but me being surprised and distracted. Earlier today, for example, Snow White was standing in a room at the bottom of a department store escalator, saying goodbye to people as they returned to their cars. This surprised and distracted me so much that, even though I had no car to return to, I went down the escalator to hear her say goodbye to me. After which, I ducked around the corner, came in the opposite door, went back up the escalator, and exited through the front door.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes, Rube Goldberg.

I've always imagined him as a short man with very large glasses and a tendency to absurdism. I actually have very little idea about what the man really looked like. I would find out, but then I wouldn't be able to imagine him quite so well.

Here are two videos, one of which is inspired by Goldberg's Goldbergian systems designed to do simple things in the most complicated manner possible. The other is inspired by the video inspired by Rube Goldberg, and so, I suppose, you would say it is a Rube Goldberg inspiree, once removed.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Intro - Rube Goldberg Machine
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

ttfn, readers.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

On Dogs, Construction Concerts, and the Nature of Reality

Hello, readers.

Today may well find me at a sort of May-Day squat-in celebratory concert in which 51 bands will play at a construction development.

Here's some information. It's in Korean, but you'll get the gist.

I do not know what it will actually be like, but a friend has said I must go, and when people tell me I must go to concerts, I very often say yes. On a related note, when people tell me I must jump out of airplanes, or believe in any sort of objective reality, I very often say no, thank you, I'm good, thanks.

Usually these aren't the same people. The airplane and reality people.

Speaking of reality, today one of my Korean co-teachers, Fesbl, in fact, asked me if I thought dogs could understand human speech.

"My dog is bilingual," he said. "I taught him to sit and stay and roll over in Korean and English. Sometimes when I say other things to him, he looks like he understands me."

"Maybe he does," I said. "Sometimes when people speak Korean, I don't know what it means, but I understand, like what happened just before."

We were having this conversation at a Charlie Brown cafe. Above my co-teacher was a giant picture of Snoopy. In front of him, on the tray, was his chesnut latte on which there was not the design of a leaf or heart, but of Lucy. Beside him, was another teacher--one of tennis.

What happened just before was this: After Fesbl took a drink, and a bit of Lucy went away, the teacher beside him pointed at the cup, made some sounds, and began laughing. He said something along the lines of "You're going to drink that poor's girl face up."

It didn't matter that the words didn't mean anything. I understood.

"So, maybe dogs are like that," I said.

"Maybe," Fesbl said, and proceeded to drink Lucy away.

Poor Lucy.