Tuesday, 30 November 2010

My Alter-Ego: Dash Snow

Het jy al ooit jouself in iemand gesien? Tot 'n skokkende insig gekom dat daardie persoon is wie jy kon gewees het, maar eintlik bly is dat dit nie is hoe jou lewe uitgedraai het nie?

My ander-ek is Dash Snow, 'n Amerikaanse kunstenaar wat in 2009 op die ouderdom van 27(?) gesterf het. Ek lees oor die lewe van Dash Snow en ek sien hoe klomp geleenthede daar was vir my lewe om soortgelyk aan syne te kon uitdraai. Het ek drie of vier ander keuses tydens kneloomblikke in my lewe gemaak, was ek ook dalk nou al dood nadat ek 'n uitspattige kunstenaarslewe geleef het. Ek probeer nie sê dat ek ook so bekend en opsprakend wekkend as Dash Snow sou gewees het. Dit is nie die punt wat ek probeer maak nie. Wat ek probeer sê is dat ek ook op 'n stadium daardie tipe lewe wou leef en dat ek die geleentheid gehad het om in soortgelyke destruktiewe (kunstenaars/dwelm/ens.) kringe te beweeg.

Om eerlik te wees, partykeer dink ek aan van daardie keuses—daardie “sensible” keuses wat ek gemaak het—en ek wonder of ek die regte keuses gemaak het. Soms wonder ek of ek uitgemis het op iets. Oor party keuses is ek soms spyt. Maar meestal dank ek God dat ek nie sekere paaie langs gestap het toe die opsies daarvoor oopgegaan het nie. Ek is oortuig daarvan dat sekere mense se gebede, veral die van my ouma en ma, gehelp het dat my lewenspad anders uitgedraai het. Ek leef dalk nou 'n minder “opwindende” lewe, maar dis 'n baie gesonder een.

Daar is steeds 'n bietjie Dash Snow in my; my ongesonde alter-ego is nie dood nie, net relatief getem. Dash Snow steek nog steeds kopuit by tye, maar hy's redelik onderbeheer. Die mense wat my ken sal weet van daardie kant van my. Daardie eksibisionistiese kant. Daardie kant wat so maklik verslaaf kan raak en wie ek van byna elke gewoontevormingde ding weerhou. (Ek vermy dwelms, alkohol, sigarette, kaffeïen en selfs videospeletjies!) Daar is steeds 'n rebel, 'n anti-establishment drang, bietjie van 'n anarchis, effense paranoïa. Alles onderbeheer, maar steeds daar. Krokkedille in die onderbewussyn, soos Steven King sou sê.

Beny ek Dash Snow? Nee. My lewe is opwindend genoeg en ryk aan ervaringe. Ek het 'n vrede wat Dash Snow nie het nie. Daar is 'n stabiliteit wat ek nou het, 'n fokus, wat ek nie wil verruil nie. Ek is bewus van my blekke, maar is ook bewus van God se goedheid.

Life Clock

Apparently, if I go by the fact that I'm South African, I'm expected to live until around 58. That means that I've lived more than half of my expected life so far. If I pretend to be from another country, like South Korea, I can expect to live to around 74 or so. Not what I was hoping, but still better.


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Another Week

Another week has come to and end, another week ahead. Last Sunday I taught a Parkour workshop again. I enjoyed the group of people that attended, from various countries. They members also learned the techniques with a fair amount of ease, and after only about 30 minutes they were able to do a basic run.

On Thursday night last week the senior students, for whom the current semester is their final one, organized a banquet in honour of the teachers. In Korea senior students host such a banquet to thank their lecturers for what they have done for them during their years at university. As a teacher I can only say that it is a much appreciated gesture. This was the first such a banquet I've attended, and was definitely the best one so far. We were taken to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Kangnam, which included an excellent buffet.

There are only two weeks of classes remaining at the university where I work, which means that we are very focussed on finish the material in time. Of course this means that I've started doing lots of grading in order to finish the assignments and class tests before the final exams start December 13.
Saturday night I met up with a dance instructor focussing on Jazz and contemporary dance. We had a very interesting conversation, mostly comparing the similarities between dance and the martial arts. I learned a lot.

Today (Sunday), I attended a Taekkyeon tournament (as a spectator). Although I have seen Taekkyeon tournaments online, todays one was the first time for me to see in person. Most of the events were group events, with five members per group. If a fighter wins his bout, he stays on to fight the next challenger from the opposing group. In one of the sets, a girl stepped up and won against all the members of the opposing team. She was quite good. Of course, I enjoyed the adults fights much better, as they used much more intriguing techniques. I took my video camera with and will put together a video once I have time.

The tournament ended around 7PM, it was supposed to end at 5PM. Starving by then two of my fellow Taekkyeon mates and I went to Itaewon for dinner. We had fabulous Thai food, including tongue smackingly good Thai deserts. While having dinner it started to snow.

By the time I headed home it was snowing quite hard. At first I was tempted to take a taxi from the subway station to my house so that I do not have to walk to far, but then I decided to rather take the bus and enjoy the fifteen minute walk in the snow to my apartment. Although I've experienced it now for a number of years, snow is still a novelty to me—I grew up in Africa, after all. That white blanket that covers everything is to me a beautiful spectacle year after year.

Today America and South Korea performed their joint naval exercises in the West Sea; the largest ever naval drills.I guess they were pretty intimidating as North Korea didn't react much. Then again, there is still a couple of days to go as the naval exercises are planned to continue till Wednesday.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Round Midnight

I spend far too little time listening to jazz. And I spend far too much time being awake round midnight.

Natural Disasters and Other Calamities

My friend from Mjix sent me a link to the map below depicting natural disaster hot zones around the world.

You can see a big version of the image above here. A look at Korea on the map would suggest that Korea is part of a hot zone. (You don't know where Korea is? Shame on you. It the peninsula that protrudes from China on the east, with the Japanese islands cupping it on the right. You are not to sure where China and Japan are either?! . . .  Now that is sad. Well, they, including Mongolia, are all part of the "Far East." See a map here.)

Korea is actually quite safe as far as natural disasters go. There are no significant earthquakes plaguing Korea; it is Japan that suffer from those. Not only is Japan directly over the Sagami Trough (#25 on the map), an oceanic trench that is known for around 7.9 scale quakes, Japan has also a number of temperamental volcanoes. (South) Korea's only volcano is Halla Mountain, generally considered dormant with its last eruption in 1007. Mount Halla is on Jeju Island, so an eruption there, while serious, will not affect mainland Korea that much. Now, Mount Baekdu which borders North Korea and China is another story. Signs indicate that it is ready to blow and it is suggested that it will be more devastating than when Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted and darkened big parts of Europe for days. I've been hoping to visit Mount Baekdu, but since trees started to die there because of volcanic gasses, I don't think it is safe to visit it any time soon.

The only natural disaster that does seem to hit South Korea on occasion are floods during the monsoon season and the occasional typhoon, but South Korea seems quite capable of handling these.

South Africa seems like one of the best places to live as far as natural disasters go. Southern Africa do not suffer much from serious natural disasters, except an occasional drought, which are usually not as severe as far as droughts can go in other places, like droughts in Eastern Africa (#37 on the map).

But then, who needs natural disasters if an HIV/AIDS pandemic and violent crimes kills people annually at equal staggering rates? Seen in this light, South Korea is still much safer to live. Or is it?

Safety in South Korea is relative, of course. The DMZ, the border between South Korea and North Korea, is the heaviest military fortified border on the planet. And this coming Sunday's activities in the disputed West Sea (Yellow Sea) may be as cataclysmic as Mount Baekdu erupting.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my American friends and American blog visitors -- may you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving and may your recurring dreams be premonitions of positive futures.

My Brother's Work

I've mentioned in a previous post that I am jealous of my younger brother. He was in high school when he set his mind on becoming a video editor. Ever since then he has resolutely followed this dream and is working towards that goal. Unlike him, I'm still not sure what I want to be -- or to put it more accurately, there are too many things I want to do and be, causing me to be the proverbial Jack.

The video below is a reel that my brother recently made, showcasing some of the projects he was involved with over the last two years, including the work he did while interning at LifeStyleTV in Sweden and SID Media in South Africa.  My brother is establishing himself in the television industry, with special focus on Christian lifestyle programming, but he hopes to expand into film eventually.

He has set up a website for his freelance work that you can check out here: SilverSpark.

War in the Air? Part 2

So America and South Korea are planning another joint naval exercise in the West Sea this coming Sunday. Is it just me or does it really look like they are trying to provoke more reactions from North Korea?

I am not pro-North Korea. Far from it. I wish the dictatorial regime to come to an end as soon as possible. Still, the current South Korean government seems to be quite hard-headed and keen for war. I'm still not fully convinced that the torpedo that sunk a South Korean vessel earlier this year was indeed North Korean.

In the meantime, the American Dollar has strengthened since the recent attack. A Korean War, which will definitely involve America may actually strengthen the USA which has been suffering under the global recession and losing respect in the eyes of the world over the last few years. Here's the problem with these corrupt governments, be it North Korea, America or any other oligarchical system, once their power and popularity fail, they try to reclaim power through war. Most people were against George W. Bush, but then came 9/11 and people flocked to him like he was their saver, during which time he led America into two immoral wars. President Obama is losing popularity fast and many analysts predict some kind of war or terror event (whether actual or staged) is to be used to regain his popularity. Advisers have actually suggested that he should go to war with either Iran or Korea in an attempt to stimulate the economy. Might it be with North Korea?

May I remind you that my gut -- fuelled by a consumption of many independent and alternative news sources -- has been telling me that's something was coming and it is something I especially expected to happen in November. I wrote a post on November 11 with the title "We Are Waiting." Will this South Korea-North Korea skirmish-turned-aggressive-retaliation be the event that my and other open minded people's intuition have warned us about? I'm not sure, but it could possibly escalate into something of the sort. I followed that post with another one the next day titled "War in the Air?" Where can this lead? Well, if the ceasefire should officially come to an end, the USA will definitely become very much involved. Keep further in mind that China and Russia will feel highly uncomfortable with aggressive American forces practically on there doorstep. Basically, a Korean War will not only involve the Koreas -- it is inevitable for America, as well as the neighbouring countries (Japan, Russia, and China) to also become involved.

Read an interesting article in which America's involvement in both North Korean and South Korea is highlighted.

In the meantime life is continuing as usual for me. I'm making dinner, might grade some more papers and afterwards, as I usually do on a Wednesday night, I'm going to train Taekkyeon in Insadong under the instruction of this scary man.

Are You Joining BANKRUN2010?

Are you joining the Bankrun on December 7th? O, you don't know about it? Well, basically people are saying that they are disgusted with the corrupt banks and fraudulent monetary system and to show their protest they will withdraw all their money from the banks on December 7th, 2010. The problem I see is that banks do not have enough money in their vaults to pay everybody that will come on that day; a better strategy would probably not be a single Bankrun Day, but rather a Bankrun Week or Bunkrun Month. If you do go to the bank on 7 December and they are out of money, just go back the next day, or the next, or the day there after. The idea with the Bankrun, be it a single day or over a longer period is to send a clear signal to the oligarchy that we, the people, are still in control and refuse to be made into serfs. There are many protests groups that you can join in many different countries. See for instance this facebook page or the original Bankrun2010 French website (all thorough revolutions start in France!); the website has an English viewing option.

For an emotional appeal, watch the video below. (That is unless it is censored again.)

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

North Korea Strikes South Korean Island

So this is how I understand it. There is an area in the West Sea (often called the Yellow Sea) of Korea that is disputed territory between South Korean and North Korea. For this reason the area have been one of high tension, but also one of avoidance by the two Koreas over the last thirteen years. However, earlier this year South Korea and America have been doing naval exercises in this area, something that obviously had North Korea uncomfortable. North Korea warned South Korea than if they were to practise in this area again, they will be forced to see it as a provocation. Yesterday or earlier today (I'm not sure exactly) South Korea had another naval exercise which included shooting missiles into this area of the sea. North Korea, who claims that this area is part of their ocean waters, saw it as an attack and retaliated by firing dozens of shells towards a small South Korean island. Some houses were hit and South Korean civilians two South Korean navy soldiers were killed and injured. "North Korea is threatening to continue launching strikes against South Korea if it violates their disputed sea border . . ."

Analysts say that the reason for North Korea's attack is because of its "growing frustration toward the conservative South Korean government as well as the need to hold one-on-one talks with Washington for aid." I think it is much simpler. The South Korean navy did suspicious military exercises in waters they know to be disputed. Do they really expect North Korea to ignore such a blatantly arrogant move?

And now the the South Korean government announced that it may retaliate by shooting at the North Korean missile launch base. If this kind of tit-for-tat mentality continues it might escalate into something truly unpleasant. Since the current South Korean president has been in office, the tension between the two Koreas have risen uncomfortably. Is this part of some greater strategy he has? I don't think it is working.

As for my worried family and friends, do not stress too much.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Let Me In vs Let the Right One In

Last night I went to see Let Me In, the Hollywood remake by Matt Reeves of the Swedish film Let the Right One In, based on the novel with the same title by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

To be honest, I was disappointed. I've read the novel and thought that the script for the Swedish film was actually brilliantly streamlined, leaving behind a riveting story. I've written about the Swedish film before. The Hollywood version just did not have the same "innocent intimacy" that the Swedish film has. It is a little more bloody and the vampire-girl is actually scarier at times.

Unfortunately the Hollywood version lacks the fluidity that its predecessor has. Nonetheless, Let Me In is still generally a better vampire film than those disappointing Twilight-flicks, like New Moon.

Wait for the Next Version of the Galaxy Tab

In a previous post I mentioned how I'm drooling over Samsung's Galaxy Tab. Yesterday, however, I had the good fortune of meeting a software engineer with intimate knowledge of the Galaxy-products. Of course I immediately asked his opinion about the Galaxy Tab. Although he had favourable things to say about the hardware, he was quick to tell me not to go for this first version. There are still some software glitches, for instance with reading PDFs and the like. He said that hardware wise, the Galaxy Tab is pretty much the same as the iPad, using the same processor chip. He also mentioned that while the software is not yet up to standard, that the Android platform is progressing at such a pace that future versions of this platform is going to become the standard for tabs, smart phones and the like.

The video-series below compares the iPhone 4 to the Galaxy S.

The Galaxy S (smart phone) is quite comparable to the iPhone. I've had the Galaxy S in hand a couple of times; it seems to function quite smoothly and all the owners I've spoken to seems to be pleased with it. I also think that it being a Korean product it is more suited to my needs in Korea.

I guess, I'll wait a while before investing in a tablet. In the meantime, I'll see if I can upgrade my phone contract to a Galaxy S.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

'n Gedig aan my X

Toe jy verwagtend was

Ek wens ek was daar
toe jou maag volmaan rond
en vol lewe -- nuwe bloedjonklewe -- was
en jou borsies sappige geswolle
melkvrugte -- vrugte van die Boom van die Lewe -- was
en jou heupe oorlopens toe vol lewe was
en jy soos 'n amoeba te veel lewe gehad het
en twee lewens -- jy en 'n splinternuwe jy -- geword het.

Ek wens ek was daar
en dat ek daar saam met jou -- albei van jou -- gelewe het.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Common Fears in Korea -- A Small Sample

Today in one of my classes with about twenty students ranging in age from 21 to 25 we spoke about some common fears. I asked the students to tell me what fears they have. General fears like death, poverty, fear of the dark, fear of high places, natural disasters and so on got general nods of agreement. These fears were acknowledged as typical "common fears" that people might suffer from. There were, however, three fears proposed by some students that resulted in very verbal and animated non-verbal feedback.

The first fear that caused exclamations were a fear of castration. Of course, it were especially the male students that cringed at the thought. The second fear, which I'm still failing to understand and which must definitely be a cultural thing, is a fear of "smoking high school students." Why should university students, in other words, young adults, be afraid of high school students that smoke? I don't get it. The last fear, that created equal amounts of animated reactions, is the thought of an "angry mother."

Monday, 15 November 2010


Although breathing under water is wonderful, my actual goal for this summer was flying. I got my open water scuba diving license, a long time goal at last fulfilled. Yet I'm still a little disappointed that I did not do a course in paragliding over the summer as I had hoped. God-willing, it will be my goal to learn paragliding next year. South Africa provides wonderful locations to enjoy both these activities and when I eventually return to South Africa I hope to take them up on a more regular basis.

Friday, 12 November 2010

War in the Air?

I have another blog for my pessimistic rantings about politics and the like, but I felt, for some reason, that this quick post ought to be on Skryfblok instead. Probably because of the G20 Summit that is currently being held in South Korea.

It is not merely a return to the Great Recession as some has claimed, it is the Great Bank Robbery, and the robbing is done by the banks themselves. The trend forecaster Gerald Celente, in a recent tweet, said that as things are going, governments could resort to war. Panic stricken, over protective governments, and power hungry politicians will often resort to an "external threat" to retain their internal power. Is it then surprising that the media is full of talks about "currency wars"? "It's better to dialogue than to fight," said Brazil's president at the G20 Summit in Seoul, Korea recently.

In the meantime Russia has a rushed project to build 5000 more nuclear bomb shelters by 2012. Do the Russians expect a nuclear war? Who's to blame them? Just days before the G20 Summit took place, America tested nuclear missiles. Was this a pre-G20 Summit intimidation strategy? While Iran and North-Korea are being pressured for their supposed nuclear activity, the United States seem to flaunt their nuclear capability. With the Dollar losing its value fast, the only thing the USA still has going for it as a global player is its military strength. And is there any questions still remaining as to the cause of the continuous loss in the Dollar's value? It's simple -- if you keep on printing money without it being backed by some actual valuable resource, like gold, the currency loses value. America is doing pretty much the exact same thing that Zimbabwe did.

The future is not all bleak. Nor all sunny. That's life, I guess.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

We Are Waiting . . .

What will it be? Another 9/11 type terrorist attack? A natural calamity like Katrina? We're not sure, but it's coming and November seems to be highly charged for such an event. Something that will cause the global economic collapse the power-hungry oligarchs are waiting for. We live in interesting times.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Father of the Bride

Sunday I acted as "father of the bride" and walked a beautiful bride down the aisle to her smiling groom. I met her mother a couple of years ago as we worked at the same language school. She adopted me as her son and I've felt quite blessed by her care and friendship. Her children also accepted me into the family, so while I was a little surprised when they asked me if I will walk the bride down the aisle I was not completely shocked. I felt quite honoured to act as her older brother and take my seat next to "our mother."

I doubt that I will ever have children of my own. I therefore do not expect to have a daughter to one day walk down the aisle. For this reason I'm happy to have had the privilege to do so once in my life. It is not something I ever imagined doing.

The wedding was a wonderful mix of Western and Korean traditions, with a touching sermon, great food and beautiful music. It was indeed a lovely celebration of two people coming together and family and friends united in their love. (I can't believe how terribly soppy and sentimental that last sentence sounded! Goodness, I didn't know I had it in me to come up with such floral clichés!)

I didn't take any pictures, but will try to get hold of some from other people and post one or two.

Friday, 5 November 2010

my vrou is 'n boervrou

my boervrou spit in die tuin
sy spit die aarde in klowe oop
groot vrugbare oopwondklowe
met haar groot ysterspit

soos Agdistis is my vrou
my boervrou bevrug Moeder Aarde
kloof haar oop en stort haar saad daarin
my vrou is 'n vrugbaarheidsgodin

Sweet Child o' Mine

Just one of those all time great metal classics by Guns 'n Roses:

And some covers:

The following nostalgic version is by Taken by Trees, with Victoria Bergman, former lead singer of the Swedish indie-pop band, Concretes:

My favourite cover is probably the one by Sheryl Crow:

Acoustic guitar player Trace Bundy's cover is something truly exquisite.

Adam DeGraff of The Duelling Fiddlers does a mind-blowing violin interpretation.

Following is an advertisement using sitars and in an Indo-Asian style. I wish they had made a complete version of the song. I think the singer is supposed to be Ali Akbar Khan.

New Age pianist Scott Davis does a beautiful piano rendition:

And just to prove that this song is inherently so resilient to corruption, it can even make that precarious transition to electro-dance remixing, here is a Flat Pack version featuring Katty Heath:

Then again, some dance versions ought to be avoided.

And for a little comedy, that cringing scene from the movie Step Brothers:

I'm sad to say that this scene has gone viral.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


I love dance. I'm not a great dancer myself, although I do enjoy the act of movement. I guess that is part of the reason I do martial arts. When I say that 'I love dance', I specifically mean that I love to watch a beautiful dance performance. I enjoy to see the human body in motion. Probably the best dance performance I've seen is the following one, entitled "Äffi" by Marijn Rademake, choreographed by Marco Goecke.

The emotional intensity of this performance mesmerises me every time I watch it.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Back to the Future Trilogy

Saturday night I went to a midnight screening of the the three Back to the Future movies starring Michael J. Fox. Do you remember them? If not, I'm assuming that you are were born in the late 80s or 90s. I think that my younger brother who was born in the late 80s probably missed out on them--quite unfortunate.

Watching these three Steven Spielberg movies back to back on the big screen with a full theatre of other people that enjoy their quirky humour and fantastical (but wonderfully crafted) plots was one of the greatest fun I had in a long time. The audience would spontaneously applaud at key points in the storyline, laugh and cheer.

Part of the enjoyment was that I haven't seen these movies in probably 15 years, which means that I had forgot big chunks from each, so it was nearly as if watching them for the first time again, but at the same time getting a whiff of reminiscence. I highly recommend it.

The screening was part of an international sci-fi festival currently happening in Seoul. I went there with some members from my sci-fi writers crit group. The first movie started just after midnight and the last one finished around 7am Sunday morning. I left for the showing at 9pm the previous night and arrived back home at 9am the next morning and did not have an opportunity to sleep during Sunday. Although I got a good night's rest last night, I can feel my body not being to happy today. Maybe attempt a siesta after lunch.