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.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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!


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?


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


"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".