Thursday, August 17, 2017

Baedari Bookseller's Alley in Incheon

I think this is a creativity-related post.Writers don't get far without readers so we need to encourage reading, right? Of course, I don't think authors make much money on sales of used books!

Let me argue this point a little. This post is creativity related in two ways. First, the area I will soon describe was once the main street of Incheon but is now a nearly forgotten backwater. The locals are trying to keep their community alive and also retain its soul. Some of their responses have been a little cutesy for my liking but I'm old.

Second, looking at the English language section of a used book store in korea is a great way to see forced connections between ideas. Books on Biblical subjects are next to one on traveling Ireland by mule-cart (these two concepts were in fact closely related), beautifully illustrated covers for Spanish and Vietnamese (they used a sort of European alphabet) are mistakenly stacked in this area because the text looked close enough, cooking is next science fiction, middle books in trilogies sit alone... Chaos in its third purest form!

Alright, I walked from Dowon station to Baedari Bookseller's Alley and saw this Wooden Knight on my way. There was also a sad robot. Closer to Dowon, I walked through 'Culture Street' with many artforms on display.

 As I wrote earlier, the neighbourhood is not what it used to be. The signs below tell locals to STOP the new improvements to the road that will destroy homes. This article from KoreaBizWire describes how a TV show had been set in the area and brought new life to it. For a little while, at least.

 There seems to be a lot to do in the vicinity.

 Cafe Oasia is in the middle of Bookseller's alley and there are several store on either side. This place seems more of a 'browse and choose books' than 'buy books the meter' as it seemed in Busan's used book store district.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Music of my youth, and a little more recent: Africa by Toto

I suspect it is just nostalgia that drives me but I am becoming more interested in music, and especially lyrics, these days. I hope to write about one song a week a while. I would not describe my musical taste as discriminating and many songs I am thinking about are obvious. Probably the others are banal. But they are my musical choices; make of them what you will.
A still from the video in the first link below.

Today's pick is in the obvious category: Toto's Africa. That site continuously plays that one video. I didn't expect books to play such a large part in the video.  Again, I've been thinking about music more lately, but this post on Salon convinced me to put fingers to keyboard.
[Verse 1]
I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She's coming in 12:30 flight
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation
I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say "Hurry boy, It's waiting there for you"
[Chorus]
It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never have
[Verse 2]
The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what's right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become

A later lyric changes "It's" to "She's" as in "She's waiting there for you".

Huh. I don't think it is the lyrics that sold me on this song. Most recently, it was this version, which is an acapella and a somewhat novelty take on the song. What do I remember from this song?

  • Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you.
  • Rain
  • Kilimanjaro.

The sense of a quest is entirely absent in my recollection. The drive to make a choice, to correct a wrong or personal demon is new to me as I read the lyrics.

There seems to be 'just enough' detail. A wannabe traveller like myself might want more detail and perhaps a more specific location than the second largest continent. I wonder if the song would do so well as "Tanzania" by Africa? ... Now checking that Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania... Anyway, the Serengeti is more than two hundred kilometers away so it would have to be a very clear day for the mountain to rise over it. Aside from that name, the atmospheric words are rain, wild dogs, drums and ancient.
I am  a socially awkward sort so this song has taught me more about 'wistfulness' than any other source.

So, ah, what is 'solitary company'? Romantic time? Are wild dogs all that romantic?

Time to enjoy this song again after finally paying proper attention to it.
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I plan to look at You're So Vain by Simon, Windy by Association, and The First Cut is the Deepest, probably by Cat Stevens. In less obvious, more personal territory, Cinderella by Doug and the Slugs.  I should add something from the J Geils Band and even the Nylons as well. Maybe a song from Ian Bell....


Monday, August 14, 2017

TWIC:bulwer, lytton, soviet children, fonts, art, podcasting, ideas

Via Kottke, the 2017 Bulwer -Lytton Fiction contest winners have been announced. Some of the Dishonorable mentions:

Follow either link for the winner.
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A different sort of winners - of The Hugos, can be found here.
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Also from Kottke, an archive of Soviet Children's books.
Why study Soviet children’s books? In the selections featured here, the user can see first-hand the mediation of Russia’s accelerated violent political, social and cultural evolution from 1917 to 1953. These conditions saw the proliferation of new styles and techniques in all the graphic arts: the diverse productivity of the Russian avant-garde, photomontage, experimental typography, and socialist realism. As was clear both from the rhetoric of the arbiters of Soviet culture – its writers and government officials – the illustration and look of Soviet children’s books was of tantamount importance as a vehicle for practical and concrete information in the new Soviet regime.
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Via Boingboing, Comic Parchment is a new font you can buy.
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A free Arabic font can be found here.
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I am paying more attention to art forms I didn't much care about a decade or two ago. Painting is one. Here is an article on Picasso's change in style as seen in self portraits.
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Despite my increased sensitivity to art, I don't really see this as art.
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In the course of writing a Science-fiction books, Rob Reid interviewed various thinkers for background information. Not all of those details made it into his book. But they did make it into his podcast.
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My handwriting is terrible. This might as well be magic.
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Another attempt to answer, "Where do ideas come from?"

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Gangwon Animals: Meles leucurus


I just finished working at an ESL/biology camp in central Gangwon Province, South Korea and will share a few animals sighted there over the next few weeks. Here are some Asian Badgers and they should be standing in front of their burrow. We have several minutes of game camera footage but I am not sure of the burrow is obvious in this still.

Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Suborder:Caniformia
Family:Mustelidae
Subfamily:Mustelinae
Genus:Meles
Species:M. leucurus
The honey badger of "don't give a f---" fame belongs to a different sub-family:
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Clade:Synapsida
Class:Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Suborder:Caniformia
Family:Mustelidae
Subfamily:Mellivorinae
[2]
Genus:Mellivora
Storr, 1780
Species:M. capensis
I remark on this only because it was a discussion topic at the camp.

The game cameras used are pretty cool: Moultrie.


Friday, August 11, 2017

TWIC: ideas, self-publishing, toronto library, crowded sky, 78s,

Where do you (or does N.K. Jemison) get your (her) ideas?
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Make a living as a self-published author. (10 tips)
I wake up at or around 5:00 AM every morning, without an alarm. Why would I need one? Even before my feet hit the floor, I’m excited to get started. I love what I do. My neighbors must wonder, Why is that man with the giant nose ALWAYS smiling?
This perfectly describes how I want to feel -and also my nose. When I am busy, I wake up already knowing what I will do that day. This feeling is both thrilling and exhausting. I think I need to find a balance between the two feelings. Usually, I feel neither thrilled nor all that tired.
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Toronto's science fiction library has a new head librarian (Check out the URL; I wonder what titles they were first thinking of to come up with that). I think it's cool that Toronto has a science fiction library even beyond that the head it changing. another reason to go home.
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I have in mind to try -some day- writing a story set in a 'crowded sky' as described on this blog. The blog post uses gas giants in the Goldilocks zone of a star to cram in many Earth-sized moons. They also place pairs of Earth-sized planets at the LaGrange points to eventually fit in 36 or more habitable planets. New Scientist offers a summary. Now, Scientific American offers news on how common - or in fact, not - moons are as observed around distant stars. This set of links in this post are mostly for my own reference, I guess.
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Another link not directly related to this blog's intended content: I often offer links to archives of public domain material and I am not sure if this qualifies but if it doesn't, I think it will soon. Archive dot org has 25,000 songs digitized from old 78 records. Kottke has a summary of what this means.
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Friday, August 4, 2017

Gangwon Animals: Steppe Rat Snake

Behold the beautiful Elaphe Dione:


This is an entirely non-venomous snake and I wonder if it is kept as a pet in Asia.
Found here.



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

TWIC: Leonardo, d&d, setting

I am using the spotty internet service at camp so although this link to Leonardo's notebooks digitized looks interesting, I cannot see them myself. As Boingboing points out, the notebooks are written in Leonardo's unique right-to-left style and in Italian.
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Escaping Prison with D & D. THe game itself requires creativity, but in prison it also requires creativity to acquire dice. Gambling is forbidden so dice are not allowed. Inmates use paper templates and origami to make their own and they even test them for randomness.
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Setting can be a character.  As a reader of science fiction and fantasy, I say of course but the best example I can think of is Tony Hillerman's series of books set on reservation land in the American south west. The location was a real but unobtrusive character. His daughter(? or wife?) continued the series and is a skilled writer but the descriptions of the setting seem more obtrusive to me.
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