Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012 in Retrospect

As is the custom, it is time for me to reflect again on the monthly highlights of the past year. Unfortunately, unlike the previous years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) since I started doing this, I have not been very good at chronicling my life, mostly because I've been working too hard, leaving me seldom in the mood for blogging. Hopefully I can recall the most significant events. But sometimes life is not about what happened, it could also be about the things that didn't happen. For instance, 2012 was the year in which I should have gotten married, but didn't.

January / February

January started with a trip to Hong Kong. This was my second trip to Hong Kong and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the previous one. I was there for only a few days but I did a variety of things and felt much more at home this time round. This time I got to see the fish, bird and flower markets which I missed out on the previous visit. I also went to some more of the artsy places and also went to a "blind"-tour which I highly recommend. Unfortunately I did not have time to look into the local martial arts on this visit. Hong Kong is definitely one of my favourite cities. From Hong Kong I continued to South Africa for my annual trip to visit family and friends.

My visit in South Africa was exceptionally exhausting as I traveled almost ceaselessly. Stops included Cape Town and surrounding areas, Vanderbijlpark, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Pinetown, Durban, Polokwane, Tzaneen and Potchefstroom. I did some touristy stuff in Cape Town while visiting with my brother and also met up with some friends whom I haven't seen in years, including doing some parkour for the first time in a very long time after I had hurt my knee. It was good fun. I also had a number of martial art stops, including a Kyukushin Karate school in the Cape Flats; and I present Taekwon-Do seminars in Pinetown, Pretoria, and Potchefstroom. My trip in South Africa furthermore included attending a family reunion in Pretoria with family members I had literally not seen in decades.

You can see some posts and photos of my journey in Hong Kong and South Africa, particularly Cape Town, here.

March

Birthday Photo
At the end of February I returned to Korea to start with the first semester of 2012, teaching six modules, of which two were new classes that I had not taught before: Short Stories and Proze Reading & Writing. March is of course the month of my birthday. I had the flu, but I nonetheless made time to meet with some friends for dinner. I was quite tired since the previous night I went to the wake of my Taekwon-Do instructor's father-in-law who had passed away. I stayed with Master Kim-Hoon until around 3am.

There was one other interesting moment in March. I had the opportunity to meet with a famous Korean actor that used to make kungfu movies in Hong Kong during the 70s, master Wang-Ho, founder of the “Heaven-Earth Martal Art Way,” that mixes traditional Korean martial techniques with some Chinese elements, and Korean cultural arts, such as dancing and calligraphy. It was truly a fascinating encounter.

April

April was a very strange month. Let's start with the non-strange. I had my annual health check and all seems fine. I attended an awesome Traditional Korean music and dance performance. I also attended a theater production of a friend of mine. Slightly strange was a student that acted terribly disrespectful. An interesting occurrence in April was when I met with a Professor at Kyunghee University to discuss the possibility of me doing a PhD there. Little did I realize the import of that meeting. (See December.) The weirdest thing during April was when a friendship suddenly turned head-over-heals and turned into something unexpected. Somehow all my precautions went out the window.

May*

In April I saw the amazing theater adaptation of the graphic-novel The Arrival. It was pure magic. Another highlight for May was when I modeled for the artist Jang Yeongdoo who exhibited his work during the 2012 London Olympic Games. It was a great experience. Also martial art related, I co-promoted two students to black belt. I furthermore attended a Taekkyeon demonstration and hosted a Jeet Kune Do workshop, presented by a Dr Zee, a doctor of Chinese medicine and Jeet Kune Do exponent. I also went on a very interesting Buddha's Birthday tour, visiting some of the most significant Buddhist sites in and around Seoul. Then there was also a trip to a farm in Heongseong with a Korean-American friend who came to visit her parents.

June

June was slightly less crammed. I visited the Seoul Flower Market for the first time, which was very nice and I hope to go there again, and went to a rather boring Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournament. I thoroughly enjoyed Ute Lemper's cabaret performance.

Also in June, I officially joined Facebook. #sigh#

July

July was a terribly sad month for me because my spiritual father Oom Andre passed away after a battle with cancer. At the same time one of my "mothers", Tannie Jenny, was in the hospital, also with cancer. I'm very thankful that she is still alive, although her struggle with cancer continues.

In July I did something interesting, I reviewed what I want in a partner.

As for trips, I went to Changgyeonggung Palace for the first time, and also visited Busan for the first time, even though it was a very short visit.

I think I wrote one of my best Afrikaans poems, "Boek en boekmerk", in July.

August

I was on vacation during August, but can't really say what I did during this month. There are very few photos in my August folder and my blog posts for Augusts reveals very little personal details. I know it was a very hot month and that I spent much of my time at home, probably just watching TV series on my computer. I know that I was close to burn-out the previous semester after those six modules I taught, so I really needed to just rest. I did start a new blog in August: "Korean Minute". One highlight for August was when I went to the National Museum of Korea to see the Ottoman art exhibit. I also went to some coastal town for a work "team building" trip. Each room had it's own en suite Jacuzzi, which was pretty awesome and my job gave all the employees a pair of Nike sneakers.

In August I bought a Horum Slow Juicer. I'm not sure if that is a highlight or not, but it does makes making nut milk much easier.

September

Starting with this semester I renewed my work contract for another two years, as of this new contract I was also promoted from Full Time Lecturer to Assistant Professor. The new title did not mean a raise in pay, however.

A nice September event was my tour of Buddhist sculptures at the National Museum of Korea. I also saw a number of performances: Pierre Rigal's "Theatre of Operations" and a harp recital.

October

My trip to Andong was definitely a Korean highlight for 2012, allowing for many great photo opportunities. A most unforgettable and magical production I saw was Murmures des murs by Aurélia Thierrée's.

November

In November I did capoeira for the first time. It was great fun. I also attended an anatomy drawing class. The theater production for November that I went to was "Opening Night" by the Amsterdam Toneelgroep. It was brilliant. I also saw three other dance performances, the most awesome one was by the Doo Dance Company founded by choreographer Jung Young-doo. His production "Forethought: Prometheus's Fire" was one of the most soul touching things I have ever experienced. It was soul-enriching. I know it sounds a little pompous to say that it was life changing, but I truly believe that to be the case. I walked out of the theater feeling as if I had heard the Gospel again anew.

In November, Guillotine, a literary publication I worked on as Creative Director and graphic designer went on sale in selected bookshops in South Africa. It was an exhausting but fulfilling project.

December
Standing in the snow

December was a busy month. As is usually the case at the end of the semester, I was very busy. I'm also teaching a winter class, Research Methodology, which kept me continuously busy even after the normal semester duties came to an end. In fact, I will be teaching the last class today, Monday December 31. This does not mean the end, as students will still hand in their final research papers at the end of this week which I then have to grade, so my holiday will only start well into the New Year.

Apart from being crazy busy, I did make time to visit with friends, particularly friends leaving Korea like Patricia, one of the first people I met coming to Korea for the first time in 2006.

Maybe the most significant thing that happened in December is that I received the news that I got accepted into a PhD program, starting next year, at one of the high ranking universities in Korea. The major is quite different from my previous fields of focus, so next year will definitely see a new chapter in my life. I'll still stay in Korea and continue my work at the same university that I'm presently working at, but I'm also starting my life as a PhD student in another major.

*Other

I'm sure I missed many other highlights. I know that I went to see some performances, such as a traditional dance performance at a palace, but I don't know when exactly it was. I also saw some movies that touched my deeply, like for instance Tree of Life and We Need to Talk About Kevin. Then there are other events that are too personal (personal in the sense that it is related to other people) so that I don't feel at liberty sharing it to the world, but which changed my life significantly. I mean significantly significantly, which caused me to re-evaluate my whole identity. 2012 was, in many ways, a shocking year for me. Unlike previous years where I had traveled to new countries, my journey in 2012 was a deeply personal one, taking me to new aspects of myself. I will always remember 2012 as a pivotal year. And, the world did not end.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts

I have a wonderful collection of music with many of the popular musicians, but also some much less famous artists. People sometimes ask me how I got to know about this or that obscure artist. In truth, it is often just by accident really. However, I will share with you one place that has introduced quite a number of interesting (usually American) musicians: NPR Tiny Desk Concerts.

Bob Boilen from NPR (National Public Radio) invites musicians to come do tiny concerts (around three songs) literally at his desk, in his office. These "tiny desk concerts" are recorded and shared on the NPR website and many can also be found on YouTube.

It was about three years ago that I started to listen to the Tiny Desk Concerts and one of the earliest performances I heard at the time was of The Avett Brothers after which I promptly got their album "Emotionalism".

The Tiny Desk Concerts are by there very nature (i.e. the very setting) often unplugged. This of course loans itself more to those types of music such as folk rock that can comfortably play with a guitar and some percussion, but Bob Boilen's office has hosted even some electro-gurus and brass ensembles. Below is a cheerful group making a merry Christmas noise. I won't be getting their album, but it was nonetheless fun to listen to.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Mmm . . .


I wanna have pride like my mother has,
And not like the kind in the bible that turns you bad.
And I wanna have friends that I can trust,
that love me for the man I’ll become and not the man that I was.

-- From "The Perfect Space" by The Avett Brothers

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Korean Indie Band 10cm / 십센치

As I've mentioned on numerous occasions before, K-pop isn't my cup of tea; however I find Korea's independent / underground music scene to be full of wonderful discoveries. A recent such discovery is the indie band 10cm.



The title of the song in the video above is "Kingstar". It is a humerous song about someone with a stalking fetish. Here is a translation of the lyrics courtesy of xxsashaxxx:

Big moist eyes, scattered red lips, breast that looks like it's going to burst,
I turn my eyes away calmly, to your stockings
The scent I want to touch, the sound of scarlet high heels,
my eyes are turned on sensually exposed thighs and ripped stockings

The more the skin gets exposed, the more my fantasies thicken, my senses are sharp like a pin
When the lights flicker and the ceiling collapses, my body goes numb to the tip of the toes
Even I pull my skirts together and straighten up, thick orgasm doesn't calm down easily
Your stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings

The wind blows when I go up the stairs, oh, my little fantasy
Dancing Marilyn Monroe, oh her stockings
While my lips get dry and the cigarette gets wet,
tantalizingly thightening my waist, your stockings

The more the skin gets exposed, the more my fantasies thicken, my senses are sharp like a pin
When the lights flicker and the ceiling collapses, my body goes numb to the tip of the toes
Even I pull my skirts together and straighten up, thick orgasm doesn't calm down easily
Your stockings

The panty hose on my body, all my senses are electrifying
When I get home I'll look at me in the mirror
Stockings on my body, stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings

Such lighthearted lyrics are typical of 10cm. The following song, "Americano" tells of the coffee drink and how it is a good choice in different situations: it's uncomplicated, it's relatively cheap, it quinces thirst, and so on.



10cm is a two member band with only two main instruments -- drum and guitar, giving them a very light unplugged sound. While the instrumentation feels quite simple, the overall sound doesn't sound lacking. In fact, it is a wonderful break from synthesizers, voice tuners, and all the other pop music gimmicks we are forced to listen to. Even when they do covers of pop music, it is with a gentleness that soothes the ears, rather than artificial beat pumping. Listen for example to their cover of "Hit Me Baby One More Time":


Here are links to some more covers: "Viva la Vida"; "Geek in the Pink"; "Sunday Morning".

Sunday, 9 December 2012

This is an advert . . .

So in this post I'm going to advertise two services that I really make use off and hopefully you can benefit from it too.


The first is iHerb.Com. Since Koreans are more prone to use Oriental herbal medicine, it is very difficult to find other natural medicines that may be very common elsewhere. Take for instance echinacea which is an awesome immune booster that is proven to cut the chances of catching a cold by half. While one can easily find echinacea tincture in any pharmacy in South Africa, it is practically impossible to buy in Korea. Similarly eucalyptus oil is not sold in it pure state--only as an ingredient in body washes or shampoos. And so the list goes on of herbal medicine commonly found in the "Western World", but not found in Korea, which one can order at iHerb.Com. But medicine is not the only thing one can get from iHerb.Com. I also typically order some mineral solutions including colloidal silver. Something I recently ordered which I have had no success in buying in Korea is coconut oil. The array of uses of coconut oil (see here and here) is just staggering, which makes it an indispensable commodity in any "natural" household. I especially use coconut oil for cooking; not only is it one of the healthiest oils for cooking, it also imparts a wonderful aroma to the food.

So if you do plan to use iHerb.com, feel free to use my discount code: KOL385. Any new customer that uses this code will get a $10 discount on their first order of $40 or more (or a $5 discount if the purchase is less than $40), and I will in turn get some credits with iHerb.com.



Dropbox is a cloud storage service which I have been using for years now, and it just makes my life awesome. Not only can I save important information securely online in case something happens to my computer, it also makes my most important information instantly available from any internet accessible device, like my smart phone. It is furthermore my service of choice to share files with my friends since it is so straight forward. The great thing about Dropbox is that it is available on all platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, even Blackberry, which means that you can use it from any device. Google Drive, for instance only functions on iOS and Android. Dropbox can also integrate with Facebook, allowing you to share files via your Facebook account on Facebook groups.

What do I get out of it? Well for every new referral that joins Dropbox through these links, I get 500MBs of extra free space. What do you get? 2GB of free start up space. Even if you don't think you are going to use it, you'll still do me a great favour by signing up for your free no strings-attached cloud drive, which will give me some space online. Also, Dropbox is very secure with a double security system. Of the current three common cloud services, Dropbox has been running the longest with excellent customer satisfaction and is therefore, in my opinion, the best option.

Well, that wraps up my adverts. :-D



Saturday, 8 December 2012

Tune-Yards' Whokill

I just got the album Whokill by Tune-Yards yesterday and I'm only listening through it now, but goodness what a feast! Every track is a carnival of sounds. I haven't heard of Tune-Yards until quite when I accidentally read through Times Magazine's list of Top 10 Albums for 2011, which included Adelle's enjoyable album 21 and PJ Harvey's Let England Shake, of which I have both. I liked how Times described Whokill  as an "experimental album by a woman unafraid to try something new" so I thought it worth it to try and get hold of it.



How I did not hear of this album beats me. It was listed by the Pazz & Jop Poll as the top critics' album  of 2011. It has been more than a year since the album was release in April 2011 and I only discover it now. I'm guessing that the weirdness of the album has made it disappear under the accessible sounds of other artists like Adelle, which is unfortunate because while Adelle is great, I think Merrill Garbus is awesome! Then again, I don't own a television and do not listen to conventional radio, and of course I live in Korea, so it is very possible that I should miss many things that is quite mainstream. My exposure to pop culture is very serendipitous. If I don't stumble onto something by accident on YouTube or some other such way, it may go by completely unnoticed. Which was almost the case with the Whokill album.

Whokill is an unusual album with a hodge-podge of genres and styles that I'm sure many people will find just too unconventional for their taste. But I guess this is the very reason I like it. Whokill isn't trying to conform to popular expectations. It is what it is. And what it is, is something uniquely fun, interesting, and creative.


Gay Marriage and the Separation of Church and State

Image Source


Gay marriage is a hot topic these days, in particular in the United States where the issue will be decided upon by the Supreme Court. So herewith, my two cents:

Personally I think this is a matter where there is confusion between the powers and authority of Church-and-State and that this issue is one that mixes Church-and-State. The United States was built on the idea of the Separation of Church and State, something I especially support. The history of mankind is full of examples of the evils that result when a proper distance between Church powers and State powers is not adhered to.

Why do I say this whole marriage controversy is a Separation of Church and State issye? I say so because there is confusion between the religiously sanctioned marriage covenant, and the state sanctioned civil union. See, in the past the clergy would announce something like this: “By the authority invested in me by God, I now pronounce you Husband and Wife.” The clergy has the authority to oversee a covenant between three parties: the couple towards each other, and the couple towards God. Their marriage is a covenant, a sacred promise, that they make to each other and to God. Somehow, this covenant became mixed up with a legal contract between partners that is enforced by law where a government official can declare: “By the authority invested in me by the State, I now pronounce you legally bound.” For some reason, the civil union became a “civil marriage” where the government official could “marry” couples and clergy could “legally bind” couples. It is this concept of a “civil marriage” which I disagree with because it brings together a legal contract (“civil union”) with a religious covenant (“marriage”) and pretends as if they are the same thing, which they are not. A civil union, which is a legal contract, is based on the authority of an earthly government, the State. While a marriage is based on the authority of a religious system, God. The two ought to stay separate functions.

How do I feel about homosexual marriages? Well, the same way I feel about heterosexual civil unions. They are two separate couplings (one being a legal contract and the other a religious covenant) that should or should not be obliged by the separate authorities that oversees such matters. You do not need one to have the other—i.e. you can get married during a religious ceremony or you can get a civil union by signing a legally binding contract, or you can do both. If you want to be legally bound to someone, then you should get a civil union. This is a legal contract between two parties and it doesn't differ in any way from any other legal contract between two parties, whether they are of a personal nature or a business nature. If you want to make a religious covenant with another person, then go to the religious authority that oversee and condone the type of covenant you wish to make, and if one sect (i.e. one denomination) doesn't condone your coupling, find one (another denomination) that does. And in truth, depending on your religion, you don't even need to have a clergy present. Two people can by themselves make a covenant between themselves and God—no clergy or government authority need to be involved—it is a matter of the heart.

In short: People, regardless of their sexuality that want to be legally bound to each other should sign a legal contract by getting a civil union. Similarly, people that want to make a religious promise of fidelity towards each other, should engage in a marriage covenant. Keep the Separation of Church and State by keeping these two matters distinct.

Read a thought provoking article by a gay man who is against gay marriage, here.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

So what do you think is happening over there with Palestine and Israel?


And what you hear in the news all the time is that Israel as a sovereign right to protect itself. From whom? And what about other nations?

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Diana Vishneva

The accomplished ballet dancer Diana Vishneva has won numerous awards and is known internationally for her grace and talent. You can find some photos and a selection of ballet videos at the BallerinaGallery.Com. She sometimes ventures outside of pure ballet dance, and when she does it is never any less beautiful than her ballet interpretations. In fact, some of her performances are hauntingly beautiful pieces of enchantment. This is one of my favourites:


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Korean Wave -- Korean Pop Culture


By now enough people have seen the "Gangnam Style" music video or at least heard the song, so that even those people that were not aware of the proliferation of Korean pop culture around the world are now also aware of South Korea's entertainment industry. (If you still don't know what I'm talking about, you must have been kidnapped by aliens or something. Read a synopsis the "Gangnam Style" phenomenon at The Telegraph, and see the music video here.)

I have traveled to a number of Asian countries and have always been surprised to see Korean pop: while sitting in a restaurant in Hong Kong I'd suddenly hear a K-pop song; while walking the streets of Bangkok (Thailand) there would be advertisements with an attractive Korean star; even while reclining in a hotel bed in Vientiane (communist Laos) I watched a Korean television broadcast (Arirang TV). Certain neighborhoods in Seoul are crawling with Japanese and Chinese tourists coming to buy fashionable clothes and memorabilia of Korean actors from Korean soap-operas (known as Korean dramas). Myeongdong in particular is such a touristy hot spot, and then, of course, for those who can afford it, there is Gangnam.

K-pop queen BoA
(Image Source)
Some of Korea's top musicians are superstars both locally and abroad. Psy with his silly "Gangnam Style" is just the latest of a long list of Korean entertainers to gain a fan base abroad. Examples are BoA (Kwon Bo-a), who is particularly popular in Japan and among the Asian community in the United States, but is also well applauded in Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. (Websites: KoreaUSAJapan.) Before, Psy, Rain (Jung Jihoon) was probably Korea's most famous male entertainer, known for both his hip-hop dance music and for his film career which included collaboration with the Wachowski Brothers (producers of the Matrix-films) on the film Ninja Assassin. South Korea is particularly known for their sexy gaggles of boy- and girl bands. The Koreans have mastered the pop industry. I'm not a fan of pop music, but that doesn't prevent me from noticing the high level of pop template mastery the Koreans have achieved. They have distilled the most prudent ingredients and follow the recipes to the tee. The songs are very catchy, with great hooks, awesome beats, and beautiful stars with knock-out bodies performing fantastically choreographed dance moves. K-pop is consumed throughout Asia and even in the rest of the world.

Rain: Singer / Actor / Model
(Image Source)

South Korea's extremely popular and boarder-hopping pop-culture is known as "Korean Wave" or "Hanlyu" (pronounced: hah-lyoo). You can download a small booklet on Korean Wave here. For anybody that is intrigued with Korean pop culture, I highly recommend it. I believe, as I suggested before, that Korean Wave is doing more towards destabilizing North Korea than all the political strategies, posturing and international sanctioning combined.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Opname oor Afrikaanssprekendes in die Buiteland

Daar word tans statistiese navorsing gedoen oor Afrikaanssprekendes wie nie (meer) woonagtig is in Suider-Afrika nie. 

Daar sover 1200+ persone aan die aanlynopname deelgeneem vanuit oor die vyftig lande -- van Afghanistan tot Australië, van Ierland tot Israel, van Spanje tot Suid-Korea, van Viëtnam tot die VSA, en vele meer lande.

Die statistieke sover is insiggewend. Meer as 50% van die deelnemers meen dat die veiligheidsituasie in Suid-Afrika 'n hooffaktor is hoekom hulle tans in die buiteland is en oor die 40% voel dat daar nie meer 'n toekoms vir hulle in Suid-Afrika is nie. Nie een van hierdie twee redes was 'n pertinent rede hoekom ek die land verlaat het nie. My kruisie is gemaak langs: "'n Aantreklike werksgeleentheid is in die buiteland vir my aangebied," waarvan oor die 20% deelnemers gemotiveer is om die land te verlaat.

Hierdie is natuurlik nog net voorlopige stastiek, aangesien die opname steeds aan die gang is. 

Indien jy 'n Afrikaanssprekende is wat in die buiteland woon, vul asseblief die aanlynopname in:


Daar is ook 'n geaffiliëerde Facebook-groep wat baie aandag trek:

Friday, 23 November 2012

Mmm . . .

"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing." -- Florence Foster Jenkins

What a great philosophy to live by. Do what you love no matter others' opinion.

A boring assignment

A grammar exercise for my students requiring them to use their "own ideas to complete these short dialogues." As I was bored in class, I decided to answer them myself.

1.

A: When we go out later, let's get a taxi.
B: Or . . . we could always hijack a car instead.

2.

A: What an amazing little car - I thought you like big cars?
B: I do, but they use a lot of fuel. However, . . . this one has a built in missile launcher.

3.

A: We're nearly home -- I'm starving.
B: Me too. As soon as we get there, . . . let's slaughter a cow.

4.

A: Here are the last two suitcases.
B: I'm afraid the boot's already full. So . . . let's blow these up instead!

5.

Passenger: This area is very remote, isn't it? When did regular flights start?
Tour Guide: Not until the 1990s. Previously . . . people just came here by astral travelling.

6.

A: Can you drive for a while?
B: Do you mind if I don't? I'm exhausted. Besides, . . . you know that I had crashed the two other flying saucers already.

7.

A: It was a shame we were too late for the film wasn't it?
B: Yes. All the same,  . . . it is not as if any of the Twilight cast can act, so I doubt we missed much. In fact, it may even be a blessing in disguise!

8.

A: I don't want a meal out. I'm not hungry.
B: Well, . . . how about we go to Vegas, dress up like Elvis and Marilyn and get hitched . . . instead?

9.

A: It was strange that she didn't invite us, don't you think?
B: Yes. After all, . . . when our spouses turned into zombies and we blew their infected brains out, we invited her for the party, didn't we?

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Things I'm thankful for -- the list continues.


While I don't celebrate Thanksgiving in the typical American fashion (I'm not having a turkey dinner with family), I do take this time of year to contemplate the things I'm thankful for—a ritual I have been doing now for a handful of years. I'm still pretty much thankful for the all the things I was thankful for on my two previous lists (2009 & 2011), so this year's list is also merely an addition to the lists that preceded it.

81. I'm thankful for my friend Joa. I sent her a text message last night to tell her so.It really is a blessing to have someone to confide in, someone that one really trusts. I'm convinced that God has made our paths cross for we have helped each other through so many issues it's hard to count them all. And I'm terribly thankful to her partner who accepts our friendship.
82. Google Translate has improved my quality of life tremendously. As an expat living in another country and with just lower intermediate Korean ability, Google Translate has made my life here significantly easier. And I don't only use it for Korean either.
83. I was thinking about books that changed my life and I've come to the conclusion that the little booklet Steps to Christ dating from the early 1900s has done more for my worldview and faith than any other book. [Download the PDF.] My religious views have changed a lot since the first time I read this little book, but the framework it established is undeniable. I have returned to this book many times over the years and am always amazed at both the depth and the simplicity with which it outlines the Christian paradigm.
84. Zinc and Vitamin C. I struggle with trouble skin and this mineral and vitamin definitely helps to alleviate the problem. I haven't found a cure yet, but that doesn't make me any less thankful for Zinc and Vitamin C supplements.
85. [Dark] Chocolate. I think most people would agree that the world is a better place because of cacao. It is after all Theobroma, i.e. “food for the gods”.
86. My mothers. When my own mom died over a decade ago, many other older women stepped forward to love me maternally. Of course none of them can replace my real mother, but the love and friendship I've been shown through the years are absolutely heartwarming. I'm awfully blessed.
87. My older brother who takes care of our invalid father—his sacrifice is allowing all us other siblings the luxury of living our lives. It can never be taken for granted and I sure hope my other siblings realize the sacrifice that is being made on our behalf.
88. Self-confidence that comes with age. While I wish I had been more self-assured when I was younger, I'm very happy that growing older has its benefits. With every passing year I'm more confident and just more stable and secure in who I am and what I believe—it's awesome.
89. I'm very thankful for being a man and I'm not saying this in some kind of misogynistic kind of way—I'm too much of a feminist for that. I just really think men got the better end of the stick; for example, we don't get painful, hormonal disrupting cycles and we don't have to stand in endless lines at public restrooms. These are indeed things to be thankful for.
90. A salary. 

My Tomato Plant


My tomato plant which I grew from a little seed stands now over a meter and a half tall. It has this one little tomato swelling among a cluster of flowers. There are quite a number of these little flower clusters but since about two weeks ago when I took this photo no other tomatoes have started forming. Since the plant is inside my house, I wonder if the problem is not a lack of insects to help pollenize the other blossoms. In any case, it is growing healthily and gives off a wonderful gardeny aroma whenever I accidentally touches it.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Liewe Heksie

Ek het sopas na hierdie eerste episode van "Liewe Heksie" op YouTube gekyk. En dit was nou 'n fees!



Ek onthou hoedat ek gereeld na Liewe Heksie gekyk het toe ek 'n tjokkertjie was en onthou ook toe hulle op 'n keer aangekondig het dat daardie aand die laaste episode van Liewe Heksie was. Ek het snot en trane gehuil en my ma het hard gesukkel om my getroos te kry. Sowat 30 jaar later sit ek nou in Korea van alle plekke en kyk na Liewe Heksie. Hoe wonderlik!

Buiten vir hierdie eerste episode, het SABC ook agt ander episodes van Liewe Heksie op hulle YouTube-kanaal gelaai.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A Weekend of Dance

I was lucky to receive a complimentary ticket through a friend of a friend to attend the annual Seoul Choreography Festival last night. The festival brings together the best dance choreographers in Korea for a dance competition that stretches a couple of days. The viewing I saw last night included two outstanding performances under the title "Blue Blood".

This morning (Sunday) I went to train in capoeira the Afro-Brazil fighting dance. I'm the organizer for a martial art group in Seoul that meets roughly every second Sunday to train in martial arts. I try to get as varied a selection of instructors as possible and this weekend we got to train with a great capoeria instructor from Jamaica. Capoeira requires lots of rhythm and part of the lesson we had this morning involved Afro-dance sequences to help us loosen up our bodies in order to move smoother during the "fights". It was lots of fun.


Then in the afternoon I went to the LG Arts Center again, this time to watch yet another dance performance. Jung Young-Doo, founder of the Doo Dance Theatre, choreographed probably one of the most beautiful performances I have ever seen. I truly feel that my soul was enriched from this performance. The production is called "Forethought: Prometheus's Fire". The ticket sales website reads: "Forethought - Prometheus Fire is an interesting reflection on Prometheus who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals in Greek mythology. How has mankind interpreted and utilized this special gift? What have we lost and gained from it? Are we happier and liberated with the power? JUNG Young Doo will look into these questions exploring human evolution and civilization."

After the dance performance I quickly went to see a friend of mine who owns a lounge-disco in the area. On Sunday nights they have an informal church service, basically just a group of friends coming together to worship. Because I live rather far and had been away from home since 8am (and it was after 8pm already) I didn't stay for the whole service, just for the praise section. I was really impressed. I particularly liked the name of their "church", namely Sinner's Church. Here we have in the middle of Gangnam (yes the neighbourhood made famous by the infamous "Gangnam Style"-song) a small group of self-confessed sinners having worship in a nightclub. I liked the unpretentious, honesty of it all.  These are just friends, people that work or hang-out together, who also happen to want to share God together. It was a nice break from the formal church setup that has become the custom. The Sinner's Church is much more inline with the apostolic movement that Christ and the apostles established -- informal congregations that met in houses, rather than temples. If Sinner's Church had an English service, or if my Korean was better, I would definitely have joined them as one of the ways for me to "dance" with God.

Friday, 16 November 2012

About Eve


The last two nights I had the strangest dreams, both regarding a college sweetheart, whom for the purposes of this post I will call Eve.

In the first dream, two nights ago, I dreamed that I was flirting with Eve. Trying very hard to get her attention romantically. Although she was very cordial towards me, she just didn't show any romantic interest at all. An interesting fact is that while at university Eve was very much in love with me. However, in this dream there was not a single drop of interest.

Then this morning I dreamed of Eve again. In this dream Eve was a divorced single mother and she, her son, myself and a number of people were gathered for a social event--something like a Sunday luncheon. We were sitting at the table when Eve's boy who was around four or five years old, was behaving badly. I can't remember exactly what he did, but let's for the sake of the story say that he was banging his cutlery on the plates. I looked at him seriously and sternly said "no!". At this the boy started crying, and caused Eve to be very upset with my. "You don't have the right to discipline my child," she told me and the whole atmosphere at the social gathering suddenly became very tense, so much so that I decided it is better if I left.


I need to add that another reason these dreams are so peculiar is that Eve has been dead for a decade now. She was killed in a car accident, so we never had an opportunity to further pursue our potential relationship, and neither did she have a chance to get married and have children. An interesting side point is that my previous girlfriend is in fact a single mother. So my subconscious is here mixing two of my previous relationships, that of Eve and that of my X. The theme of the dreams is my attempt at being close to Eve, but in both dreams she pushes me away.

Eve was my first "relationship" as an adult. I had some girlfriends as a child, but Eve is the person I consider my first true relationship, even though our relationship was a little bit of a roller coaster. That my subconscious should evoke Eve to the forefront must be significant, particularly so long after her passing. But what exactly is the significance of Eve. I've come to some preliminary conclusions and am quite curious as to what is happening in the secret passages of my subconsciousness.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Mmm

"Do not retell in mediocre verse what has already been done in good proze." -- Ezra Pound

Monday, 12 November 2012

Benedikt Sebastian

My broer stuur nou net vir my die skakel vir hierdie YouTube video van Benedikt Sebastian (wat 'n koel naam!) se nuwe treffer "Los uit my taal".



Ek is nie bekend met Benedikt Sebastian nie en is altyd gretig om nuwe Afrikaanse musiek te hoor. 'n Vinnige besoek na sy YouTube-kanaal toon 'n hele maar elektro-pop danssongs met heel interesante videos. Dansmusiek is nie heeltemal my koppietee nie, maar Benedikt Sebastian se musiek is geensins 'n slegte wending in Afrikaanse musiek nie. Ek vind Benedikt Sebastian se snitte is baie meer luisterbaar as die tipiese Afrikaanse danstreffers (grillerige sokkiemusiek) of (naarmaak) ligte Afrikaanse musiek. Benedikt Sebastian se lirieke is, tipies aan dansmusiek, nie baie kompleks nie, maar dis ook nie eenvoudige niksseggend lirieke nie. Daar is 'n verassende diepte, 'n inteligente boodskap. Jy word vinnig bewus dat die liriekskrywer sowaar iets van waarde het om te sê, en dit laat jou baie maal terugsit en peinsend dink (dis nou as jy nie reeds op jou voete is en dans nie). Sy stem is ook verbasend ryk, en herinner bietjie aan die ouer Steve Hofmeyer.

Buiten vir sy webtuiste en YouTube-kanaal waar jy meer van sy musiek kan hoor,  het Benedikt Sebastian ook 'n tumblr-rekening.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

"Murmures des murs" and "Opening Night"


I few weeks ago I went to see Aurélia Thierrée's production "Murmures des murs". It was fantastic. And magical. Aurélia Thierrée, following in the foot steps of her mother, takes you on an enchanted journey of theatre illusion, slight of hand, costumes, smoke and mirrors, and fine story telling. Do watch something by Thierrée if ever you have the chance, you will not be disappointed. 



Then just over a week ago I went to see "Opening Night" by the Amsterdam Toneelgroep (Theatre Company). If I take into account the script, staging, acting, lighting, visual media and what not, this was probably the best theatre production I have ever seen. Just brilliant. I wasn't sure how much I'd understand, seeing as it was all in Dutch, but it just took me a while to get accustomed to listening to Dutch and towards the middle of the play I guess that I understood 90%+ of the dialogue. The story really touched me as well, as I'm slowly becoming aware of my ageing and mortality. A wonderful script, and a production I highly recommend. 

"Fight for Rainbow" by Eastern Sidekick

It is well known that I'm not a fan of Korean pop music; and surprising as it might sound, I only listened to Psy's "Gangnam Style" a few times. Once to see what the fuss was about, and other times by accident when it played in shops or wherever, and I happened to be there. But this doesn't mean that I don't enjoy Korean music. I quite often listen to Korean music. I regularly listen to Korean traditional music, but also to contemporary music, particularly Korean indie music.

Eastern Sidekick is an indie Korean band that I recently got introduced to. I haven't heard much of their stuff, but I have heard enough to know that I like them. Below is the imaginatively titled song "Fight for Rainbow".

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Beth Quist -- "Grace"

One of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. Orgasmic! The track's name is "Grace" from the album Silver by Beth Quist.

Solar Flares and Natural Disasters

Days before last years major earthquake that resulted in the terrible tsunami that hit Japan, the sun was unusually active emitting solar flares. While the link between solar flares and earthquakes are still controversial, I am leaning towards believing in this connection.

Currently the sun is acting up again. "The sun belted out the most powerful type of solar flare Monday night, known as an X-class flare," according to the Washington Post. The report added that "the X-class flare was not directed at Earth. But space weather forecasters caution the very active sunspot region - known as AR1598 - responsible for these flares is slowly rotating towards Earth in the coming days."



Current scientific consensus generally only accuse such solar flares with causing beautiful northern lights, interfering with radio signals and at words messing with electronic devices. While yesterday's solar flare report was not aimed at the earth, the current rotations will put us in the path of these active sun spots within the next few days. If there is a connection between solar activity and natural disasters, particularly earthquakes, and if AR1598 stays active during the coming days -- which it probably will, we ought to see an increase in natural disasters, particularly an increase in earthquake activity in the weeks to come.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Nobel Peace Prize -- Shameful

I don't usually use this blog for political comment. I have another platform for that. However, I'm just aghast with the direction the Norwegian Nobel Committee is moving in. It is as if they have completely lost their moral compass. How can they offer the peace prize the European Union? This is the same organization that is run by the international bankers who are basically enslaving Europe, where independence and democracy has practically become non-existence. The real democracy we are seeing in the EU are the millions of people rioting in the streets against the crisis created by the banking oligarchs. And when the people protest they are bludgeoned by riot police. Is this the type of peace the Nobel Peace Prize is given to? Apparently the prize was given to the European Union for its commitment to peace in Europe; clearly a very myopic view of peace, for how dare we forget the powerful EU countries that have been involved in wars over the past decades. Is France and England's involvement with the United States in the ungrounded attacks on Afghanistan so quickly forgotten?

Of course, after the previous rediculous nomination of the Peace Prize to someone that has not yet contributed to any actual peace, what can we expect?! If the Nobel Peace Prize stands for anything of value, it ought to revoke President Obama's Nobel award, for not only has he failed to discontinue the wars he promisted to bring to an end, he has actually increased America's wars -- starting one in Lybia and expanding one into Pakistan.

Clearly the Nobel Peace Prize has become nothing but a sham. Maybe this is what it had been all along, I was just too enammered with the idea to see it before. But after the last two laureattes, even the blind can see that the Norwegian Nobel Committee are merely acting as spin doctors for a global elite.

I'm disgusted!

I promise my next post will be on something of little consequence. Like the concerts I attended this past week.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Such Brave Macho Policemen

I remember when I was in school—probably the early years of high school—we had to give a presentation about the occupation we wanted to pursue one day. I wanted to be a nano-engineer. My best friend at the time, Keith McKenzie, wanted to be a microbiologist. “Small things interest great minds,” he used to say and one doesn’t get much smaller than microbiology and nano-engineering.


But there was a clear pattern I recognized in what the other boys wanted to be, particularly the bullies, delinquents, and the generally scholastically inept boys: they wanted to be policemen. Reading the news, I have to conclude that a noticeable percentage of the type of people that goes into the police force is indeed these types of people—people driven by their lust for power over others, people that want to be in positions of authority in order to continue their bullying.

Image Source


Take these examples from the news: In England police tasered a blind man, in America an 8-month pregnant woman was tasared after using expletives towards a cop, and lets not forget the cop that kicked a pregnant women recently after she complained when her sibling got tasered. Oh, and did you hear about the man that got tasered for having a seizure?! The police commanded him to keep still, but having a seizure attack he was obviously not able to do so, so they just went ahead and electricuted him. The victim (and I'm using the word "victim" deliberately) suffered a heart attack and brain damage from this ordeal. Wow these are such tough strong manly men. They taser blind people, the pregnant, and the sick. They really make me feel safe now! Thank you brave Mr. Policeman for protecting me from those dangerous blind, pregant, and physically ill people! (Pardon my sarcasm, but this is really getting to me.)

Then there are all the police brutality towards protestors around the world (e.g. Greece, Egypt, Kuwait, Kosovo, Indonesia, Multan, and many other places). South Africa, my country of origin, has made the headlines recently over police brutality during a protest by miners that turned violent. (Here is a synopsis of the mining unrest in South Africa; and here is an overview of police brutality in the South African context.)

There is much that can be said about police brutality—there are many contextual factors that should be kept in mind. I'm not saying that police ought not at times opt for a more hands-on, i.e. violent, option. However, I honestly think that one variable that cannot be ignored is that a significant percentage of the people attracted to this career is not in it because they have a profound sense of justice and wish to keep the peace, but rather because they have a power fetish and get off from exerting their authority over others.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Andong -- More Photos from Andong

Some more photos from my Andong-trip this past weekend.


















Andong

Ek was die naweek wat verby was bietjie weg op 'n toer na Andong, 'n stad en area in Korea bekend vir baie historiese artefakte en gebruike wat behoudend gebly het vanaf die Joseon Dinastie. Hier is 'n klompie fotos.