Just a news and update blog for friends and family overseas.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

I just got in to Jeonju from Seoul. I had a completely useless visit that I managed to salvage in a couple of ways...

1. I studied Korean more than I have in weeks. Good idea, that bringing a book along with me.

2. I practiced speaking Korean more than I have in months... a very friendly and talkative high school girl on the train, an off-duty cop showing me the way to where I had to go, and a kid on the bus all chatted with me at length. It was much better than I remember being capable of doing in the past, as in the topic strayed from them asking me the standard questions to me asking them questions about their life, work or study, and so on. It was cool. I kind of felt like Frodo Baggins, meeting all these nice and friendly and helpful people who gave me aid or at least asylum from the stupidity of the trip I ended up making.

3. I managed to meet one of my friends who lives in Seoul, Hyun Hwa. It was really good to see her and have breakfast together. Sadly we didn't manage to meet Sun Hwa, but we will all meet next time I go to Seoul.

4. I started to reconsider picking up that vocal effects pedal. If I wait a few weeks I may be able to just throw myself into buying a nice, small-but-powerful digital effects processor, and maybe that would just be the wiser choice, though I am leery about sinking more more into music gear. I need to do some more research about how I could set up controls on it, as I want something for performance and not just for studio work... pedals and foot switches instead of knobs and buttons.

5. I found a good saxophone repair shop in Seoul, of course at the Nagwon Shinjang. I switched repair shops to Mikwang Akgi, but I highly recommend nobody go there for repair work. Even though they had ample opportunity, they didn't let me know that they weren't fixing my damn horn, and moreover when I got it back from them, it was MORE damaged than when I dropped it off. However, I know a good place and can recommend it highly:Chun Il Musical Instrument Co., at the Nagwon Shijang.

Anyway... nothing much else to say. I'm on the Led Zeppelin Club's computer posting this while waiting for our rehearsal to start. We don't know when we are playing but the owner's being interviewed so we need to wait before we can start rehearsal. Anyway, tonight we play here with two other bands and tomorrow we'll be playing at 2 Be 1, opening for Cocoa along with, uh, I can't remember. Anyway, I'm gonna go warm up the horn.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

and now the week is done...
... and I find myself on the verge of an even more tiring weekend. I must go up to Seoul tomorrow to pick up one of my saxophones, which was being repaired, and test out a piece of equipment. I don't really want to leave my house this weekend, to be honest. My ear infection (which supposedly isn't an ear infection at all... actually, just isn't an ear infection anymore, is still lingering and no doctor will give me enough medication to deal with it permanently; and I am exhausted from the busy week I had; and I frankly just want to hole up and work on my website. But my band will play two shows in Jeonju this weekend, so I have no real choice... so Ièll go see the ENT again and bitch about this, and then come home and pack for my overnight trip to Jeonju enroute through Seoul.

Kazaa Lite
... keeps crashing on my computer for some strange reason. I don't really understand why, but it does.

... is short. So I have to go, again, of course.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

This week...
This week is still busy. I started teaching a new term this morning, and my two classes, both of which are pretty high-level classes, looke quite good. I already know what I have ahead of me for one of my kids' classes, but the other I don't know about. We'll see tonight. It'll be nice to be finished teaching at 6:30pm instead of 7:30pm.

The Ear
I finally saw an ENT today... an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. When he check my ear and told me there was nothing wrong with it, I thought for a moment that I was having another one of those cases where a doctor tells you that nothing's wrong when in fact there is. But after he explained what he meant, I got it... he was saying that the problem in my ears had cleared up and now the effects I was feeling had to do with an imbalance of pressures due to the inflammation that continues in my throat, where the infection spread to after the first week. He gave me amedications and told me that I should be okay in about three days. Unfortunately, he did that thing that doctors sometimes do here, where they give you only a few days' worth of medication instead of a full course of treatment. I tried to explain to him how bad that is, but he didn't get it. He just insisted I would be okay in three days. In any case, the visit was very very cheap... it cost me about $2 to see the doctor, as opposed to what I paid at the hospital, around seven times as much...

However, I am still required to abstain from swimming for a week more. I am starting to get antsy as they are working on backstroke and I am falling farther and farther behind. Argh!

My band, Dabang, is now working on some new songs and I need to get the ideas I have for that Jeonju Jew song down on paper so that I have it firmly sorted out for our practice on Tuesday night. We're playing two shows on the weekend, one on Saturday night and one on Sunday, and we're also practicing a couple of nights this week. Once I start swimming again, I will be very very busy. Eeeek.

The Dabang website still doesn't work, but if you want a sneak preview of it, you can look here

This weekend, I went to Seoul to drop my sax off at a musical instrument dealer's shop. They sometimes do repairs for me and while they don't always do a good job, they do ship my horn to me when it's done, and they were the only place I could get my sax to in time... I ended up going on a Sunday, not considering the fact everything is closed on Sundays, but I was lucky enough to find a security guard to give the horn to the right people. The only problem is, I called and couldn't understand exactly what the guy on the phone (not the usual person) was saying.

Anyway, during the trip up and back down, I read the copy of Noam Chomsky's 9-11 that I stole from the office. It was interesting, and Chomsky does make some good points. He's an intelligent man, I'm just not sure about his optimism. He believes that if enough citizens get together, at least in Western countries, that they can bring about change. I'm not really convinced that is true... I'm not really convinced we can hold countries like the USA or North Korea to standards of how countries ought to act, because those countries don't tend to hold themselves to those standards. China still executes criminals, and so does America, even though it's considered inhumane punishment, in fact barbaric, by most of the developed countries of the world.

Anyway, I am not saying Chomsky's wrong. I think he is right in many respects, that the US's policies and actions do themselves often use methods comparable to that of those they call "terrorists" these days. This does constitute a kind of terrorism which ought to be challenged and eradicated, as much as any other terrorism. The fallacies of the American government's logic are well uncovered. But the book is damaged by some of his rhetorical gestures (such as very often saying, "And this is just a minor example. The examples abound, and this is only an insiginificant one..." and a repetition that would have been understandable if these interviews hadn't been edited for publication (though, because they have, isn't understandable). I also think that the mass unwillingness to look objectively at things is something that prevents a book like this from having much effect... and unfortunately, Chomsky's reaction to those mainstream critics (the common people) is, as he states somewhere in regard to his less-well-informed critics, is to "ignore them."

Which amounts to preaching to the choir. You and I are smart and critical people, or we wouldn't be worried about this situation. But how do we get the mass of people to wake up and smell the coffee? That is one thing that Chomsky sadly seems unable to address except to present his fanciful notion that more people than ever are listening. I don't think that's the case at all. And getting into those peoples' mindsets and working change is exactly what I think is critically needed.

Indie Music in Seoul
If you had anything like my experience in looking for Indie music in Korea, you know how frustrating it can be. People in one shop in Seoul actually laughed at me when I asked about certain Korean musicians. Well, I found out where to go! The Youngpoong Bookstore near Kyobo Bookstore in Seoul has an actual Indie Music section. In it I found many CDs, including the Hwang Sin Hae Band (mentioned recently in this blog), 3rd Line Butterfly, and the newest Delispice, as well as some of the bands we saw at Ssamzie, like Lazybone and No Brains. It's not a big section, really, only one rack of CDs, but it beats Music City and the staff is also nicer. (And the jazz section is also not bad, with better selection for some artists than Music City.) It's a short walk from either Kyobo Bookstore or the Jonggak subway station.

Right, I must go...