General Stuffings

Been blindingly sick, but only off-and-on, for a few weeks, which explains why I have posted so very little here. But it has not been a slow few weeks, at all:

  • I am finished with the albatross. No, Ringo and Paul, I did not declare, “I am the albatross” — I am no more albatross than I am walrus — I declared that I am finished with the albatross. The albatross being a project I should never have talked anyone else into, but I did, and thank heaven it’s over, and no, it was not worth it. In any sense. Especially now that the won is worth… oh, good grief, don’t even look.
  • I attended the Hub of Sparkle get-together thing. I’m way too ill, even now, to write about it, but one attendee, Danielle, wrote about it here. (More accounts linked from there and from where there linked, and pics here.) It was good fun, and I was blessed with a lot of interesting conversation, but I am still paying the price for being out so late. By the way, Matt, sorry if I lulled into quiet on the cab ride home. Reminder to self: when taking a cab home to Bucheon from somewhere in north central Seoul, pee first. (I made but, but just barely.)
  • I decided I needed a decent briefcase, and I’ve ordered one that cannot be bought in Korean stores. Yes, expensive, though at least I was able to use my Canadian funds and make it hurt less. I’m kinda-sorta justifying it in terms of the fact I made enough from fiction sales to buy more than a couple of those — maybe three — in 2008, and also on the grounds that my current briefcase, which cost me W100,000 (ie. $100 US) in 2005, was essentially coming apart at the seams by mid-2008 (and always looked somewhat cheap), whereas this one won’t come apart at the seams and by all accounts looks gorgeous… and is sure to last me more than ten years, again, by all accounts.
  • Lime’s been reworking her wardrobe, now that she (we?) can afford it. It’s kind of fun, including the part where she seeks my honest feedback, but I will add that shopping in Myeongdong is really, really stresseful. Not just the fact that people not only make no effort to avoid banging into you (or your bags) and the fact they never, ever apologize for it, but also the fact that the streets are insanely crowded and whatever it is you’re looking for is always at the tenth shop you check… never the first.
  • Though I’ve been doing fine in general with my Vibram Five Fingers shoes when off-duty (the Flow pair, with neoprene, have been pretty good even on cold days so far), and various of the dressier Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot shoes when I am working, the time has come.

    I need a pair of dress shoes. Lime and I stopped at a place in Myeongdong that claimed to specialize in extra-big shoes, but they had only six pairs in anything beyond average (ie. tiny) Korean sizes, and the few that fit were very hard-backed. I can’t wear shoes with inflexible backs because I have these crazy bone spurs on the backs of my heels, detached from the heel, and when they’re under pressure they move, and rub, and hurt my Achilles tendons. Like, injure them. Like, need physio afterwards. So does anyone know where nice pairs of big shoes are available in Seoul? I don’t mean Itaewon, I mean where Korean men with size 310 feet go to get themselves a proper pair of dress shoes.  And no, a cobbler is not out of the question, if he’s good.

  • Lime and I are watching the complete series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer these days. We’re on Season 3, which is a marked improvement over the previous two seasons. (Not that they were bad, but season 3 is so damned well-put-together!) I only caught bits and pieces of the series beyond Seasons 1 and 2 back when I was in Canada, and I have to say I missed out. Yes, it’s pastichey in a lot of places, but that’s part of the fun… for me, anyway, though Lime is missing the references since so much of what’s being nodded to never made it over to Korea. Anyway, we’re about 8 episodes from the end of Season 3. She’s watching The West Wing again, though, which frees up some time for me. I’m trying to catch up on reading the magazines I’m subbed to, as well as watch some of the movies I’ve accumulated — including, this weekend, the Kim Ki Young boxed set that Matt mentioned to me at the aforementioned HoS get-together, a copy of 301/302, The Barber of Hyojadong (to which my reaction differed from Matt’s, which is one of the reasons I picked it up), and a box office bomb based on a book I hated, by an author I otherwise have very much enjoyed: My Right to Ravage Myself. (I picked that up simply because I couldn’t find it anywhere.)
  • Schoolwork is intense. I have a comc book script to finish proofreading, a pile of writing assignments to work my way through, a very unusual final exam to plan (non-alcoholic cocktail party for the purposes of testing how students do working through small talk and also assigned tasks.

    The “video game” model of my Listening & Speaking class — the single “conversation” class I teach these days, where students have a set number of tasks to complete and the tasks completed determine their grade — has one fatal flaw, which is timing. Unlike in many video games, there was no time limit on tasks, so the vast majority took their time with all tasks. To the tune of three tasks finished by week 12. Which means they’re all rushing now, and trying to get three or four things done at once, with all the obvious side effects you’d expect. (And which, if you’ve worked in a professional capacity of any kind in Korea, will be alarmingly familiar.)

    I think next time, there will be a two week limit on all tasks, where after one week, you’re out of the running for a full thumbs-up, and after two weeks, you can only get a basic pass. (Which means moving to a points system, but what the hell — I was starting to think it was necessary anyway.)

    I have five courses next semester, though one of them is a repeat. Only one is a writing class, and a relatively more informal one, at that; this means four of my courses will involve minimal writing, which reduces the workload, but only somewhat: there’s going to have to be a lot of planning done ahead of time.

    But the classes for next semester look interesting, at least, and the schedule involves nothing too early, and nothing too late. Joy of joys! Even if my “prep day” (the professor’s day off) is Wednesdays and not the Fridays I’m used to, the next semester will be manageable. Especially with no albatross hanging around the old neck.

  • Have read a number of books whilst languishing, or on the subway, or in my office on breaks from grading. Will touch upon them soon…

10 thoughts on “General Stuffings

  1. You could order shoes online…
    This lists some, although I see that Zappos charges a ridiculous fee to ship to Korea.

    As to kinds, I like Ecco (in fact was online today looking at a boot I lust after), but I don’t know if they’re soft enough for you. Two possible options-“Ancona” in the casual section and “City Austin” in the business section might do, but might be too casual like the Terra Planas
    (warning- flash stupidness)

    Hopefully somebody nearer by can recommend a cobbler!

  2. I’m headed back to season three this week myself. Unfortunately, the teenagers of my acquaintance all seem to be caught up in Twilight fever, and they have no idea what they’re missing.

  3. Val,

    Thanks, but given the number of problems I’ve had buying shoes online — yet another WRONG pair was shipped to me, this time from Amazon, and I have to pay shipping back, and had to pay a tarriff on them too, so thank heaven they were on sale! — I think I’ll make do with what I can find in-country until my next trip to North America next summer. I’m sure I can find a Korean cobbler advertising online, if not by recommendation!

    It does annoy me that there’s an import tarriff on shoes into Korea (and clothes) given how hard it is to find decent bigger-sized items. By difficult, I mean endlessly infuriatingly hard. Ah well…


    Twilight as in Stephenie Meyer’s book/movie/whatever? I’ve pretty much heard nothing of that over here — seems less portable than Harry Potter somehow, and unsurprisingly. Weird, though: Meyer claims she was “inspired” by a dream in 2003. But this was a major plotline for the first few seasons of a major TV series in the 90s. It’s weird. She claims never to have seen an episode of Buffy, but… um… hard to believe. I mean, she claims never to have seen a single vampire movie, or even to have read Dracula. (She admits to reading Rice, though.) That’s kind of weird… so was she just never interested in vampires until she started cranking out novels about them? Or is this standard lawyer-dispensed advice being acted upon, to fend off the possibility of a lawsuit from Whedon?

    (And as an absolute tangent, I should add that I know it’s not fair, but I have a kind of nasty habit to judge people whose names are “properly” spelled in a way other than the usual one. “Stephenie” looks wrong, as does “Mandie” or “Laryssa” or “Ronnald.” Not that I blame the person stuck with the misspelled name, but I do kind of imagine doltish parents, and a correspondingly doltish upbringing. It’s not fair, I know. But I register the reaction here, as it predisposes me to question her claims as to total ignorance of all things vampire save Anne Rice and random Bela Lugosi clips.)

    Or maybe it’s just my indignation at the idea someone can write good genre work without, you know, reading from that genre. Scratch that, my indignation that readers would fail to see the difference between work written by someone versed in a genre, and work by someone who isn’t.

    Ah well… haven’t read the books, but I won’t be spending money on them, either. Any book of which someone can say, “Vehicles are also very important in the Twilight books,” where “vehicles” means “cars” (and not, say, other imagined conveyances, and where “important” means glamorized in that cheesy way that cars so often are in many American films) is unlikely to appeal to me.

    Maybe after the Twilight craze passes, you can entice them into the world of Buffy?

  4. Yes, that Twilight. I saw the movie opening weekend with a few fangirly teens (which, if you’re going to see a movie like that, is a good way to go). To the question “Would you rather be Buffy or Bella?” there were only two answers: “Bella” and “Who’s Buffy?”. I’m working the Buffy angle, hard, but I’ve got to tread carefully because of parents.

    I haven’t read the book yet, but it does seem clear from the movie that Meyer is unfamiliar with vampire lore, which makes the whole thing even more silly.

    And given my other interests, I’ll be interested to see how Meyer’s Mormon background shows up in her writing.

  5. Ah, the generation gap. Somehow, though, I would have thought Buffy’d be around in reruns enough to show up on everyone’s radar even now. Or have DVDs and reality TV pretty much done in the whole rerun market?

    Unfamiliar with Vampire Lore? Och, that’s sad.

    I certainly can imagine Mormonism + vampirism mixing well in the hands of someone who understands both, but when she only knows Mormon, I’m more, er… leery?

  6. The reruns in our area (if they’re still on) are at 7 am, so not prime viewing time.

    I’m probably going to have to give the whole Buffy thing some time, because they’re blinded by Edward’s sparkliness. :)

  7. Woah, reruns at 7am? I remember back in the good old days when reruns were timed to, you know, catch people. I’m pretty sure I saw a lot of X-Files episodes on rerun, only a year or two after they first showed.

    It may take them time to come around. But if you happen to have it on when they show up, maybe… :)

  8. I empathize with your shoe search.

    I think I have the answer for you: Kumgang shoe store in 강남. Go out exit six, and walk maybe 600 meters down the road. You can’t miss it. If you get to Kyobo Bookstore at the big intersection, you’ve gone too far.

    Big-size shoes are on the 3rd floor. They are nice people. I’ve shopped there for a few years and always get what I need.

    Good luck.

  9. UPDATE: Thanks again, Whitey, it did work out. It turned out my visit to the same shop in Myeongdong wouldn’t have been such a waste IF I’d tried on their shoes. Normally I’m 300 or 305 or 310 (ie. size 13.5 in Canada/US and size 13, I think, in UK shoes), but with Kumkang shoes the 310 were way huge, the 300 were a touch too big, and the 295 fit me very close to just right. It was a hell of a hike, but at least I didn’t come home empty-handed.

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