Wednesday, 31 March 2010


My klankgedig "Spektra" (gebasseer op 'n vorige gedig met die titel "Spektrum") is nou beskikbaar op pypaanlyn.

50/50 Is Back in April

One of the great tragedies of the South African Broadcasting Company (SABC) was when they discontinued “50/50”, a program focused on environmental issues. “50/50” had been the longest running program (over 25 years!) of its kind in the world, up until it was taken off the air in 2007. My brother informed me just now of the good news that “50/50” will resume again. Read more about their comeback at BizCommunity and "50/50"'s website. We can only hope that "50/50" will live up to the standards it had set in the past.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Taekwon-Do Masters, Interviews, and Late Nights

A renowned scholar of Taekwon-Do history, Master George Vitale (8th Dan), visited Seoul last week to conduct a series of interviews. Master George is involved with a documentary in the making by director Luan Van Le, so both he and Mr. Van Le spent time in Seoul last week. On Thursday evening they booked a shoot with the chief ITF dojang where I practice Taekwon-Do in Seoul. Since they did not know where it is, or how to navigate the Seoul transportation system – especially at peak hours – I went to meet them at their hotel and escort them to the dojang. Footage was taken of the students training, of some of us doing patterns, and so on. Throwing techniques are a neglected element in Taekwon-Do, even though it is part of the system. Seeing that it is so uncommon to find someone adapt in throwing skills they actually requested me to demonstrate some throws. So far they have over 200 hours of footage that need to be reduced into a two hour film, so we will have to see if my throwing techniques will feature at all. After the training Master Vitale interviewed our instructor Mr. Kim Hoon, as well as myself and assistant instructor Anna. Many questions revolved around the prejudice experienced by ITF Taekwon-Do practitioners in a WTF-dominated country. There is an erroneous stigma that ITF is somehow North Korean. This is, of course, a false assumption. ITF Taekwon-Do started in South Korea and grew into an international system – it is as little (North) Korean as cricket is British. The interviews continued so late that by the time I went home the subway had closed and all the busses had stopped commuting so I had to take a taxi.

On Saturday evening I met up with Master Vitale, Mr. Van Le, and another friend. We had a nice evening discussing Taekwon-Do and its very intriguing history. Again, by the time the socializing came to an end it was again too late to take the public transportation back. So instead I stayed over in a motel.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Mushy Peas

One of my all time favourite ads.

Meredith Dittmar

Meredith Dittmar is another sculptor whose work I enjoy. Dittmar’s medium is clay – it looks like children’s clay – with which she creates exquisite fantasy scenes that are a peculiar mixture of steam punk and New Age anthropomorphic critters. I wish an anime feature film was made of her interesting characters and their equally interesting world. There is this little film short, but I mean something more sinister -- more like 9 than like Gummy Bears.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Patricia Piccinini

Yesterday I wrote about Ron Mueck. While Mueck’s naturalistic sculptures helps one to see our world with new eyes, there’s another artist that helps us see alternative realities. Patricia Piccinini’s work also has a naturalistic feel to it, but her novel creations makes one want to believe in other possibilities. I’ve always loved fantasy – I guess I never outgrew my love of it, like most people do when they become adults. This is probably the reason I find Piccinini’s work so appealing. It underscores my childlike longing for enchanted alternatives to an otherwise dreary reality.

Below are some photos of Piccinini’s art.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Ron Mueck

I enjoy sculptures. It is most likely the evocative work of Rodin that truly sparked my interest and that class in Three Dimensional Objects I did in the History of Art Department in my honours year at university just added to my interest in three dimensional art. However it is undoubtedly Maureen Quin’s series of sculptures for her “The Hunt” exhibition which convinced me of the power of sculpture to stir up emotions -- and so made me fall in love with this medium.

One of my favourite sculptors is Ron Mueck. He uses a hyper-realistic style, but changes the natural size of his subject, creating giant babies, or tiny old people. This change in size causes the viewer to reinterpret the subject relative to his or her own size; forcing the viewer to look at a “natural” subject, a pregnant women, and old man, a child, with new eyes.

The YouTube-video below depicts a number of Mueck’s work.

You can also see some photos of his work at LIFE.

Monday, 22 March 2010

pyp-aanlyn maak dat ek min slaap

Die nuwe pyp-aanlyn webbladsy hou my uit die slaap uit. Saterdagaand het ek eers om-en-by drie uur die oggend in die bed gekom, waarskynlik later. Sondag was ek die meeste van die dag uit, maar die aand het ek verder aan die pyp-blog gewerk.

Vanaand (Maandagaand) het ek eers omtrent agtuur die aand by die huis aan gekom nadat ek in gebly het vir my “day job” om vooruit vir die res van die week voorteberei, anders bevind ek myself in die knyp later in die week. Sedert ek by die huis is is ek nog die heeltyd met pyp-aanlyn besig. Ek het intussen ’n Twitterlyn begin wat outomaties "tweet" sodra ’n nuwe inskrywing op pyp-aanlyn gepubliseer word. Na ’n lang ruk se gesukkel kon ek toe ook ikone vir beide die Twitterskakel, sowel as pyp se Facebookgroep stig.

Ek geniet veral die interaktiewe aard van die hele projek. Hier sit ek in Korea waar dit sneeu en werk aan die webblad; gelyktydig sit Alwyn in warm Suid-Afrika en plaas artikels. Maar die slegte ding is dat dit hou my uit die slaap uit.

Gepraat van slaap...

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Introducing [Bekendstelling van] Pyp-Online!

It's been a couple of months in the making, but at last, Pyp-Online is active. Please go check it out, return often, and tell all your literary and artistic minded friends!

Na 'n paar maande se swoeg en sweet is Pyp-aanlyn uiteindelik aktief. Maak asseblief 'n draai, besoek dit gereeld en vertel al jou vriende met literêre en kunsinnige neigings!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Muscle Cramps & Aging

[Image Source: Lucky Vitamin Blog]

Last night something strange happened to me. I got a muscle cramp. I know it doesn’t sound very bizarre to the ordinary person, but to me it is exceptionally unusual. This is the first muscle cramp in my whole adult life. I’ve had one or two other anatomical spasms before in recent years, but never an actual muscle cramp pulling tightly for a couple of seconds as I had last night. In fact, as far as I can remember, this was probably only the third or fourth serious muscle cramp in my whole life! My calve muscle contracted so suddenly and profusely that it woke me out of a deep sleep.

My first thought, of course, is that I have a mineral deficiency. I know this since I’m a martial art instructor and had to tell my students the reasons for their anatomical clinks. So tonight I’ll be taking a calcium and magnesium supplement before I go to bed and I've been eating extra bananas today for potassium. 

The disconcerting (“disconcerting” is one of my favourite words) thing about the whole experience is that it might be a bad omen, reflecting my ever so steadily “maturing”. According to a quick search on the Internet I learned that the older one gets, the more frequent muscle cramps are. Aging have of late again been at the forefront of my contemplations, with having had my birthday recently and all. And muscle cramps are not a good sign.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Seks vir plesier

Van alle onwaarskynlike plekke het ek het op hierdie Afrikaanse elektro-pop liedjie afgekom op 'n blog wat fokus op Koreaanse musiek! Die komponis is Will Mono en die vokalis is Jan Joknie. Die musiekvideo vir "Seks vir plesier" neig aan grillerig, maar die song is nie te sleg nie.

Ek het tot 'n skokkende insig gekom; alhoewel ek nie van tipiese pop-musiek hou nie, geniet ek wel goeie elektro-pop, byvoorbeeld die Japanese groep Sakanaction waaroor ek al voorheen 'n inskrywing gemaak het. Sedert ek verlede Oktober Sakanaction se album "Shinshiro" gekoop het, luister ek nog redelik gereeld daarna. En dis seker ook onnodig (en jammer) om te sê dat Sakanaction se musiek aansienlik beter is as Will Mono en Jan Joknie se "Seks vir plesier". Die song is nie heeltemal sleg nie, maar ek stem glad nie saam met Musical Alliance Pact wat dit beskryf as "catchy electro genius" nie. "Seks vir plesier" is okay, maar dis nog nie geniaal nie.

Monday, 15 March 2010


In die vorige inskrywing is twee skakels gelys rakende nuus omtrent slaggate. Wel, tydens my kuier in Suid-Afrika oor Januarie en Februarie het ek die geleentheid gehad om sulke treffer slaggate, soos die een hieronder, eerstehands te beleef. Dit was omtrent opwindend om plek-plek soos 'n muis deur 'n doolhof te moet navigeer weens die toestand van die paaie. Die foto hieronder is geneem op die pad tussen Parys en Potchefstroom in die Noordwes Provinsie. Die slaggat is so groot dat 'n mens nie daarom kan ry nie -- jy moet letterlik van die pad af klim om dit te mis.

'n Seleksie nuus

My jonger broer stuur elke dan en wan vir my 'n keur skakels van dinge wat hy meen belangrik is, of dink my sal intereseer. Gewoonlik is sy seleksie inderdaad interesant. Die volgende is hoofsaaklik uit die Beeld en Rapport.
 Ek kan nie help om stil te staan op hierdie punt nie; en moet wonder hoe dit verskil van die tipiese Generasie X (waarvan ek 'n sprekende voorbeeld is). Een van my grootste oorwegings vir my huidige werk is juis die lang vakansie tye wat ek het (omtrent drie maande per jaar!), gepaard gaande met die interesante vakke wat ek kan aanbied. Ek kan werk by ander meer aansienryke universiteite kry met groter salarisse, maar dan is my vakansietyd aansienlik korter (omtrent vier weke korter) en moet ek vervelige klasse aanbied.

    Sunday, 14 March 2010

    Shakespeare & BunnyChows

    Last night I went to the "A Night of Shakespeare" again -- this time taking some students along. Fewer students showed up than expected; those that did come seemed to have enjoyed it. Seeing the various performances one cannot help but appreciate the power of the Bard. His stories are excellent, not to mention his fabulous play with words.

    Today (Sunday) I had some friends over for in celebration of my birthday last week. As soon as I got up this morning I started cleaning my apartment. By three o'clock in the afternoon I rushed of to a supermarket to get some last minute ingredients and supplies, rushed back and started cooking. As usual when I entertain people at my house I tend to run a little late. Nonetheless, the guests had snacks until the food was finished. It ended up being a great success. Like last year, I again made bunnychows. Since many of my guests are not South African I'd like to treat them with something from my home country. The problem is, however, that most of my friends -- like myself, most of the time -- is vegetarian, and finding signiture South African vegetarian cuisine is difficult. A been curry is, of course, an easy alternative and since bunnychows are so uniquely packaged, people seem to enjoy it. The original idea of having bunnychows for my birthday actually came from my friend Joa who did so two or three years ago.

    Some of the guests asked if they could bring something. I did not prescribe anything but was very happy at their suggestions. One brought Palak Paneer (spinich curry), for which I made extra basmati rice. Another friend brought two cakes -- a chocolate cake and an apple cake. Still another friend brought a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake. And another one brought a bowl of strawberries and kiwis. Obviously it is no secret that we all had too much to eat!

    Boobies & Kittens

    I feel better. I think it was the kittens.

    The Waltz of Death or Something Else

    The midi composition below is absolutely fantastic. It seems to be of Japanese origin although this video was uploaded by a Korean person who titled it 죽음의 왈츠 ("Waltz of Death"); the commenters, howerver, are of different opinions as to the actual title. Whatever the title, it is a mind boggling piece of music. It is impossible to play -- one person just do not have enough fingers or dexterity to pull it off. It probably needs to be played by a number of people, anything from four to eight, I would think. Still, if it is possible to actually play this thing, I'd really want to experience it.

    Friday, 12 March 2010

    Sel-Ca for the Masses

    This new advert of a Samsung digital camera is just an excellent example of "Korean Wave" (Korean culture promulgated abroad). A prominent part of Korean pop culture is “sel-ca” 샐카 (Korean slang for “self-camera”, which is Konglish that basically means, taking a picture of yourself using a digital camera, often that of your mobile phone). It's my opinion that this advert is primarily based on the selca phenomenon -- keeping in mind that Samsung is a Korean brand. 

    Combine the tips from Samsung's advert with the "Star Tips on Sel-Ca" from Pop Seoul, and you can't go wrong. And I, of course, believe that there's no need to be that good looking or even that great a photographer; the real trick to looking good in a picture is to take a number of photos, choose the best ones and then Photoshop them. That's what I do most of the time with my self-portraits.I know its cheating, but we live in an artificial age of digital manipulation. It's either that (inexpensive and pain-free) or plastic surgery (expensive and painful).

    Korean Band: Film Star

    The band The Film Star [MySpace] has been around since 2008 but only recently released their first full length album, Pop Sounds. I haven't heard much of it, but what I have heard is quite nice, and pleasantly different from Korea's typical "pop sounds".

    Thursday, 11 March 2010

    'n Dag in die lewe van...

    Nie te slegte verjaarsdag nie. Niks spesiaals nie, maar darem nie so 'n onaangename dag soos verlede jaar nie. Dit was 'n vol dag met baie klasse; nogals uitputtend. Na werk is ek Taekwon-Do klub. My afrigter het aan my 'n geskenkie gegee -- 'n besigheidskaartjiehouer. Dis dalk 'n teken dat ek meer met my besigheidskaartjies moet begin rondloop -- my werk het juis onlangs vir my 'n pak besigheidskaartjies gedruk.  Na Taekwon-Do is ek uit vir aandete met 'n handjie vol vriende -- nogals 'n vreemde kombinasie: 'n kollega, 'n voormalige buurman, en 'n student.

    Dit was ook my eerste "wit" verjaarsdag. Dinsdagaand se sneeu lê nog dik. Vandag het hompe sneeu soos plomp konyne uit die bome geploert. (Ek weet nie wat plomp konyne in bome sou maak nie, maar dis hoe dit vir my gelyk het -- konyne wat selfmoordpleeg en dan kamakazi vanaf die boomtakke af.)

    Die foto hierbo is van die Engelse departement waar ek werk. Die sneeu die laaste paar dae het die onlangse koue die moeite werd gemaak. Dis eenvoudig pragtig gewees.

    'n Interesante verwikkeling was toe 'n vriendin my kom vertel van 'n gemeenskaplike kennis ('n ander uitlander) wat gearresteer is omdat hy vermoedelik van sy (Koreaanse) studente gemolesteer het. Dit ontstel weens twee redes. Eerstens, natuurlik, omdat sulke dinge (seksuelemisbruik van kinders) my oor die algemeen ontstel. Tweedens omdat ek juis onlangs my ongelukkigheid uitgespreek het oor die Koreaanse media wat Westerlinge verkeerdelik uitmaak as almal pedofiele. Hierdie Westerling se gedrag bewys nou natuurlik die stereotipiese indruk wat die Koreaanse media van ons Westerlinge het korrek, en maak dit vir ander (onskuldige) onderwysers soos ek ongemaklik in my gasheerland.

    Maar dit tersyde. Hierdie week in die Shakespeare-film klas het ons na die 1996 film Romeo + Juliet gekyk. Ek het al vergeet watse lawwe, maar uitmuntende fliek dit is. In my poësie klas behandel ons tans William Blake en het vandag gekyk na "The Lamb", "The Tyger" en "A Poison Tree". Terwyl ons die gedigte behandel is ek net opnuut beïndruk met hoe 'n goeie skrywer Blake was. "The Lamb" is op die oog af so 'n eenvoudige gedig, maar eintlik is dit baie komplekser as wat dit lyk. Baie komplekser. Ek wens ek kon meer tyd aan daardie gedig spandeer het, maar die studente is nog nie bevoeg met die nodige vaardighede om die gedig te desekteer soos wat ek sou wou nie. Nietemin, dit is 'n wonderlike geleentheid om sulke waardevolle letterkunde te kan doen; en dit boonop op my verjaarsdag. In die British & American Essays klas het ons vandag 'n essay van Francis Bacon gelees. Wat 'n inspirasie! Die man was eenvoudig 'n meesterlike skrywer.

    Ek werk regtig baie hard en moet bieg dat ek pootuit is; maar ek het eintlik min om oor te kla omdat ek 'n werk het en dit boonop nog geniet ook! God is goed, Jesus leef -- wat meer is daar te sê?

    "At Seventeen" -- or Thirty-Two

    ...and while we're at it, here's my favourite Janis Ian song:

    Wednesday, 10 March 2010

    Child Sex Offenders in Korea

    This is NOT a photo of Korea. [Image Source: GameOPS]

    It would seem that Korea has taken a harder approach on child sex offenders, for which I applaud them. The man who raped and then murdered a 13 year old girl was caught today after the police sent out “WANTED” notices to all households in Busan, the biggest port city of Korea.[Read more at The Grand Narrative.]

    Unfortunately I cannot help to wonder how different things would have been if the girl was only raped, but not murdered. Take another recent incident of a man that sexually assaulted a 12 year old girl, videotaping it all and posting it on the Internet. This child rapist only got 30 months in prison.

    Korea’s laxity as far as child sex offenders go – sexual relations with consenting 13 year olds is okay in  Korea [read more here] – is one of the things that really disturb me about my host country. It especially disquiets me when the foreign community is often made out to be “perverse drug-abusers” by the Korean media when statistics would prove otherwise.

    March Snow II

    March Snow I

    Tuesday, 9 March 2010

    "Die oom langsaan is vermoor"

    Plaasmoordmonument in Limpopo.

    “Die oom langsaan is vermoor,” sê my broer toe ek nou net met hom oor die foon praat. Onmiddelik dink ek aan hoe onveilig my broer se plot is – geensins ’n fort nie. Dis met lendelam drade omhein. Daar is nie eens ’n slot aan die hek nie. Wat gaan ’n slot inelkgeval tot stand bring? Enige deugniet kan oor die hek, of oor die drade klim. Nie eens te praat van die traliehekke voor die buitedeure nie. Een wel geplaasde skop en die traliehek is uit sy skaniere uit. Die “waghonde” is twee plotbrakke met groot blaf en min byt. Die kans is beter dat hulle die plaasmoordenaars met waaisterte gaan groet as enige vertoning van intimidasie. Hulle gaan dit beslis nie regkry om gedetermineerde inbrekers te verjaag nie. Daar is min, buiten vir die Here se genade, wat staan tussen potensieële verkragters en vermoorders, en my arme broer en sy gesin. En my teologie is dit eens dat die Here nie mense se willens verander nie; ons het almal vryheid van keuse – ’n moordernaar wat daarop uit is om dood te maak, staan skuldig voor God, maar bly steeds vry om sy euwel daad te doen.

    Ek is nie in die buiteland omdat ek bang is vir die geweldmisdaad in Suid-Afrika nie. Dit sou niemand verbaas het indien ek wel so ’n verskoning gebruik het nie. Ek het groot geword met geweld as my buurman. Ek het op ’n plaas by ’n welbekende lokasie groot geword tydens die groot onluste van die 80s en 90s. Ek het gesien hoe mense op ’n man afstorm en met pangas kap. Ek het gehoor hoe ’n vrou skree wat genacklace word. Ek het beleef hoe voel dit as jou kar met klippe gestook word. Alhoewel my persoon nog nooit deur geweldmisdaad aangetas is nie – ek was al baie die slagoffer van inbraak en diefstal – het ek ’n pa wat deur misdadigers tydens ’n gewapende roof geskiet is. So ek weet van geweldsmisdaad en kan maklik daardie verskoning gebruik indien ek sou wou. Dis dalk omdat ek so gewoond was aan misdaad op so ’n jong ouderdom dat dit nie vir my genoegsaam bang gemaak het sodat ek voel ek moet die land uit weens dit onveilig is nie. Ek is in die buiteland weens ander redes.

    Hoe ookal, nou is ek hier; in, vir alle praktiese redes, ’n baie veilige land. Dis hierdie veiligheid wat ek beleef, gejukstaponeer met my geliefdes in Suid-Afrika se onveiligheid, wat my nogals ontstel.

    Die oom langsaan is vermoor. Dis die oom op die plot met die stewige heinings en die groot waghonde.

    The Prejudice of Alms

    A little white boy begging... From: Oliver! 1968 musical film.

    “Excuse me, Sir. Please don’t get upset or irritated.” This is how the Indian man approached me last month as I sat waiting for my bus from Durban to Vereening, at the inter-city bus terminal. Whenever a stranger approach you like this in South Africa they usually want something, probably money. My wallet is securely put away in a bag. I have no intention of taking it out and so revealing the contents to the prying eyes around me. It would be like inviting a robbery; shouting: “Hey crooks, look at all this dough; come and get it!”

    “Sorry, no.” I replied and tried to return to the book I’m reading. “Please support me by buying some bubblegum,” he continued and revealed a small tray with an assortment of chewing gum. “Sorry, no.” I replied. “Please Sir; at least I’m trying to do something.” True, he did have something to trade. Nonetheless, I wasn’t going to advertise my wallet.

    I’m a self-defence instructor and know all too well that self-protection starts long before any physical assault. It begins with adhering to safety habits – like not advertising the R100 bills in ones wallet. “Sorry, no; I cannot take out my wallet at this time.” “But Sir, just R3 will do.” “Sorry, no.” I repeated again. At last, seeing that I will not budge, the man walked away but sneered disdainfully.

    What irritated me probably the most about this encounter is the prejudice. I was the only white person in the terminal. The hawker did not approach any of the black or Indian people around me; only me. Why are they excluded as potential customers? Is he assuming that because I’m white I must have money? When I travel I do not dress in a manner that gives any indication of wealth – plain jeans and a T-shirt – another safety habit I keep. The scornful laugh he gave as he walked away, indicated his disgust with the white man who wouldn’t give. After all, isn’t it the white man’s responsibility to give? Isn’t he supposed to give?

    To this I reply “sorry, no” again. I’m not supposed to give purely on account of my race and skin colour. I did not contribute to the previous racist regime. Nor did I substantially benefit from it. If I did, I’m paying my dues already, seeing that I have to work abroad, since it is difficult to find a position in my field locally on account of affirmative action. University vacancies in South Africa are often advertised as “portfolio positions”, meaning that the department has to reflect a certain percentage of racial diversity and white men are not the “diversity” of choice.

    And don’t talk to me about poverty either. I know what it is to be poor – to live below the breadline. I’ve done that too. Probably still have some of the tattered T-shirts to prove it. I know how to live on one bag of potatoes for a month, with nothing else to eat, because that was all you could afford with your last R20. I know how it feels to trade in old glass bottles to get a couple of cents so you can save up to buy a bread. I’m familiar with worrying month after month how you’re going to pay the rent.

    Yes, I survived because of miracles and the grace of people giving me money. But never did I have the attitude that they have to give, that it is their responsibility, that they are supposed to on account of them being friends, or family, or white.

    If I had R3 in my pocket I probably would have bought the packet of gum even though I don’t like chewing gum. And he would probably have raised his price to R5, or tell me some sad story of how he pays for his five children in school and his sick mother.

    Monday, 8 March 2010

    Self-Portrait: Old School Pilot I, II, & III



    Planning a Birthday

    [Image Source: Party Planner Ideas]

    It is my birthday later this week. In celebration I’m thinking of having some friends over on Sunday afternoon for dinner. This, of course, brings with it certain challenges – who to invite? My apartment is not very big, so I cannot invite too many people. Should I invite colleagues? How about my fellow Taekwon-Do practitioners? And if I’m going to invite martial artists, why not include members of the Hapkido and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu clubs as well? Since I’m thinking of having the gathering on Sunday late afternoon (I already have another appointment on Saturday night) it sort of excludes friends whom live geographically distanced from me. My friends outside of Seoul are unlikely to make it. (If you are living outside of Seoul but think that you may be able to make it, let me know!)

    It seems that I will have to have at least two gatherings. Maybe one for a handful of local friends (and colleagues) this Sunday and another one for the Taekwon-Do group the following Sunday. I’ve been meaning for us Taekwon-Doin to go ice-skating; my birthday could be a good excuse to make it happen.

    Of course, according to Korean culture I’m doing it all wrong. In Korea one never celebrates a birthday after the event -- it should occur either before or on the actual day. My birthday is during the week, but I just don't have any time to do it during the week. To celebrate it on the following weekend(s) is unheard of according to Korean tradition. I guess I shouldn’t invite any Koreans then…

    Sunday, 7 March 2010

    Skryf-wat? Skryfkuns!

    [Image Source: How Stuff Works]

    “Wat swot jy?” vra sy.
    “Oe!, Skryfkuns! Ek het nog altyd gewonder wat mens se handskrif van jou kan verklap. Die waarheid is, my handskrif lyk elke dag anders. Ek het honderede handskrifte. Dit hang van my mood af. Kan jy na my handskrif kyk en sê wat jy sien? Jy kan mos, né!”
    “Skryfkuns is nie handskr...,” probeer ek maar sy val my in die rede.
    “Kyk hier’s papier, laat ek gou iets skryf.” Sy skryf iets. “Dé,” sê sy en gee my die papier met haar geskribbel op. “Wat sê dit vir jou van my.”
    Ek kyk daarna. “Jy’s flippen stupid,” dink ek, maar hou dit vir myself. “Jou letters is baie flambojant en kursief,” sê ek. “Dit beteken seker dat jy ’n sosiale mens is, waarskynlik nie skaam nie, moontlik emosioneel.”

    Wanneer mense my vra wat ek (ge)studeer (het) en ek antwoord Skryfkuns is die reaksie gewoonlik dieselfde. “Wat’s dit?” of “Nou wat kan jy nou eintlik daarmee doen?” Ek is al moeg om te verduidelik. Maar as ek nie verduidelik nie dan kom hulle darem met die vreemdste konklusies na vore – soos dat Skryfkuns eintlik Handskrifontleding is, soos in die geval van dié derde jaar Sielkunde student. (Niks teen Sielkunde studente nie!)

    Of hulle begin my uitvra oor grammatika en sintaks. Wat op dees aarde het grammatika met Skryfkuns uit te waai? Dis soos om vir ’n paneelklopper uit te vra oor enjins. “I’d prefer not to teach academic writing this semester,” erken ek aan ’n kollega. “But, you have a degree in creative writing!” spil sy geskok. Dis juis die punt – “creative writing” is nie “academic writing” nie. Ek kan “academic writing” gee, ek het die vaardighede daarvoor, maar bloot omdat ek ’n graad in Skryfkuns het maak nie van my ’n kenner in grammatika, of akademiese geletterdheid nie. Toevallig het ek ondervinding in hierdie ook, maar dit is bysake.

    Dalk moes ek iets anders geswot het. Argitektuur. Ek is seker argitekte word nooit gevra om handskrifontleding te doen nie.

    From Berlin to the Globe Theatre to Camelot

    Last night I went to Berlin, hopped in at the Globe Theatre for a little Shakespeare, and afterwards spent some time in Camelot. Okay, I did not literally go to any of these places, but I did in the figurative sense.

    There’s this café and lounge in Itaewon, Seoul, known as Berlin. A friend, Christine, had a birthday get-together there last night. I’ve blogged about Berlin before. It is undoubtedly one of the nicest lounge-bars / restaurants I’ve been to in the city. The quality of the food is superb, and at a very affordable price. It was an intimate group of people invited by Christine, so I think Berlin with its wonderful ambience was a good choice.

    Afterwards I went to A Night of Shakespeare performance by Seoul Players & Actors Without ‘Bard’ers at another bar in Itaewon called Roofers. It didn’t matter that I was an hour late and only arrived for the second act; the reason for going was to see if it would be appropriate to take my Shakespeare Film class to the second performance next Saturday night. And indeed, I will definitely do so. A Night of Shakespeare entails a selection of scenes and speeches from a variety of Shakespeare’s great plays, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III, King Lear, Henry V, Henry VI, Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, Othello, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet. I think this could be a good bonding experience for my class of fourth year literature students, and give them an opportunity to see the magic of Shakespeare when performed live.

    When I got home I went to Camelot. Or at least, I watched the final four episodes of the TV-series Merlin (the first season). The story deviates a lot from the original Arthur-legends, but it is still very enjoyable. The Merlin series is good family fun, and the two main characters, Merlin and Arthur, quickly grow on you. It is not very deep, nothing too serious (nothing like the great classic Excalibur), and I guess that is part of the appeal for me. After a long day of work it is nice to sit back and relax a bit, without having to think too much. I like fantasy, so it is a great escape to an alternate existence when swords and sorcery ruled the world, taking me back to my childhood when this alternate existence was often my primarily existence; I spent hours of my day there as a child. I'm a little sad that I've finished watching this season as I do not have access to the second season yet.

    Thursday, 4 March 2010

    Work, Work, Work

    [Image Source Unknown] 

    "To blog or not to blog" is not really the question; instead I wonder when I will have time to blog -- most likely only over weekends.

    Good grief! Is this how this semester is going to be?! This is the first week of the semester and I am beset with my busy schedule. Apart from Mondays, my other days are packed with either classes or preparation. Of course I’m not teaching the crazy amounts of back-to-back hours that a language teacher working at a typical English academy does, but then again, I don’t think they have the same amount of university level preparation to do.

    I just realized today that if I did not happen to have taught some of the same modules last semester that I’m teaching again this semester, it would have been practically impossible for me to be prepared for my classes. Luckily I have kept my notes from last year, so for a number of my classes I just need to review the work – if possible an hour or two before.

    On three of the five teaching days I teach four hours. Take Wednesday for instance, when I start the morning with a meeting, then 19th Century English Poetry (Romantics), followed by a consultation hour, after which I have a language skills class (Listening & Conversation). Thank goodness for a lunch break at noon! Luckily here is a class preparation slot, followed by two hours devoted to Literature & Visual Arts. Thursdays aren’t any less complicated. I start the morning with Basic Vocabulary, followed by a consultation hour. I’m forced to take lunch at 11:00. Next is British & American Essays, and a one hour break before two hours of 19th Century English Poetry. Finishing at four in the afternoon, that gives me just about an hour and a half to prepare for the next day – Thursday evenings I go to Taekwon-Do training so I cannot stay in to work too late. Friday morning I start with a faculty meeting followed by Research Methodology at 9 a.m.

    Luckily on Mondays I do not teach in the afternoon so I will try to get more of my preparation done then. Hopefully it will lighten the stress during the rest of the week.

    Be that as it may, I am teaching two of my favourite classes this semester, Romantic Poetry and British & American Poetry. I’ve also started with a new class, Literature & Visual Arts. The latter is basically an introduction to Film Theory, focussing on adaptations of Shakespeare plays to film. Luckily I had Film Theory and Critique as a subject in my honour’s year. I remember my academic advisor at the time frowning at my strange selection of subject choices – years later it seems that my idiosyncratic selection was not that peculiar (read: illogical and useless) after all.

    I’ve started blogs for two of these classes. You are welcome to follow us online.