Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bookworm in Busan: Gukdo Art Cinema

When I'm not reading, I enjoy watching a movie, which is actually another form of reading, isn't it?

One of my favorite places in Busan is the Gukdo Art Cinema.  It was difficult to find, (the map is unsatisfactory; I got lost several times and asked a half-dozen people) but well worth it.  GAC is a hidden gem for those who crave something other than big-budget action movies.  Every week, GAC brings in several films from different countries and usually shows one right after another.

Here are some directions I hope will be easy to understand.  (I've got some accompanying pictures, but am having trouble uploading them.  When I get them uploaded, I'll add them to this post.)

Directions to Gukdo Art Cinema:

1. Go out of Exit 3 at Dayeon station.  Immediately do a 180, walk a few steps and follow the sidewalk to your left, around the corner.

2. Stay on this sidewalk, walking for about 5 minutes.  You'll pass a lot of restaurants and a couple of hotels and a PC room.  The last thing you'll see is a big tire shop.

3. You will come to a huge intersection where you will see the U.N. Memorial statue.  Cross at the crosswalk.

4. Veering slightly to your right, cross at the next crosswalk.  It looks like a narrow red road framed in crosswalk/zebra crossing lines.

5. Walk along the sidewalk.  The sidewalk curves around the big parking lot of the Busan Museum. The U.N. Memorial statue should be on your right side.

6. Follow the curving sidewalk on around until you get to a crosswalk.  Cross here.

7. When you are on the other side, turn and go to your left.  Walk until you run out of sidewalk.  You will see a Hankook car repair place.

8. Turn right, and stay on the same side of the street, opposite the Busan Cultural Center.  Walk down until you see a coffee shop called MOZART.

9. Turn right at MOZART.  Make sure you are on the same side of the street as MOZART.

10.  After MOZART, you'll see a bricked archway.  That's not it.  Right after that, there's another entrance with  ART HALL written over it.  That's the place.  Go down the steps and into the small cinema lobby.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

All Day and All of the Night

Last Update!

End of Event Meme:
  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Hour 9 settled my hash for a while.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?  Roddy Doyle's quartet of novels about the Rabbitte family of Dublin -- The Commitments, The Snapper, The Van and The Guts.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?  No
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?  Firming up deadlines. Switching out hosts.
  5. How many books did you read? 2
  6. What were the names of the books you read?  Dispatches From The Edge by Anderson Cooper and The Homesman by Glendon Swarthout.
  7. Which book did you enjoy most?  The Homesman.
  8. Which did you enjoy least?  Both books were first-rate.
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?  N/A
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?  I'll be in a different place next spring, where people will be puzzled and/or offended that I would take 24 hours 'just to read books', but I am a bookworm, and bookworms always find a way.  I'm cooking up a scheme even as I write this.

5th Update:
Only 90 minutes left.  Powered by a chocolate bar, I just finished The Homesman, a deserved Spur Award winner back in the late 1980s.  All that reading's got me hungry.  I'm thinking about my homemade chili.


4th Update:
Mid-event survey:

1. What are you reading right now?  The Homesman, by Glendon Swarthout. 

2. How many books have you read so far?  I'm on book #2.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?  The Homesman is a little twist on the pioneer stories I love, and there's a strong female lead character, so I'm looking forward to finishing it.  Supposed to be a movie version soon.  Great!

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?  Conditions are ideal, but I got k.o.'ed by The Sandman for 5 hours.  I chafe at my limitations...oh well, this means I'll be sharp when others are weeping with fatigue.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?  Can't think of anything.  It's all good.


3rd Update:
SEVEN hours in?! Really!  I haven't read anything since my last update.  I haven't slept, either.  Just puttering around and charging my Kindle, which I forgot to do before we got started.  I also ate an apple. Now the Kindle is showing a green light, so back to reading.


2nd Update:
4 hours done.  I just finished Dispatches From the Edge.  Not an easy read, so I'm not sure what to read next.  I've got to make a decision soon, because I'm starting to feel the familiar tiredness. My mind and body are telling me to go for the pajamas.  They're telling me the softness, most snuggly pair.  No, I won't do it.


2.5 hours in.  Page 125 of Dispatches From the Edge.  It's not a long book and it's written in straightforward language, but Cooper's themes are personal loss, war, natural disasters, starvation, and disaster, so it's not the sort of book one breezes through.  I decided to stop and make myself some tea, which somehow became hot chocolate.


OK, now it begins!  Here's the opening meme from the Readathon hosts:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?  Busan, South Korea.  It's 9 pm, straight up!

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?  Not sure yet.  I'm beginning with Anderson Cooper's memoir "Dispatches From the Edge".

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?  Apples...and chocolate.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!  Oooh, having an attack of shyness.  Don't know what to say!  I'm a longtime Readathoner, since the days of Dewey.  I still miss her.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?  I've been having trouble staying awake the last few Readathons, so I banned pajamas and a pre-Readathon hot shower this time.  And bananas.   Maybe that'll help. ETA: I'm also doing updates on Twitter for the first time @susanandbooks

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Which Coco Bio?

I don't know what comes over me, or why.  Book madness, I suppose.  Bookstruck, as if I'd stood and stared at the spines on the shelves for too long without blinking.

Somehow, I got it in my head today that I wanted, no, that I must read a biography of Coco Chanel.   I went charging off into the internet only to find that there are a great many books about her.  A dazzling array.

Now I'm confused: Which bio should I buy-o?

Maybe I should just dab on some perfume and lie down until this mood passes.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Readathon My Mind

It's getting closer and closer...the Readathon is almost here!  Next weekend.  Awkward start time for those of us in Asia, but you know what?  After all these years, I'm starting to develop an affection for beginning at 9 pm on Saturday night.  When I move back to the USA next spring, it won't feel natural to pry open my concrete eyelids at what?  5 am?  On a Saturday?  That's some hardy stuff.  I'll have to get in touch with my inner pioneer.

Meanwhile, that will be then and this is now.  This time,  I'm going to change up how I do the Readathon.  This may hurt, but I've decided to provide myself with healthy snacks.  It's funny; just as I put this down, the longing for combination pizza pierced my soul.  There's a growling -- oh wait, that's my stomach.  Since this is something that doesn't come easily, I'm taking suggestions for healthy snacks.  Don't get too California with me, because it has to be a snack that is procurable, and there's only so much healthy that this poor body can take. Thanks in advance.

My other big change for the Readathon is that I'm not going to do a bit of it in pajamas.  Pajamas are sleepwear and sleepwear leads to sleep in most cases.  I have found myself nodding but not reading as early as 2 am (remember my awkward start time?) and it could be that I'm just a little too comfortable.

 Ditto for the pre-Readathon shower and shampoo.  Although clean hair makes it feel as if the words are getting into my brain so much more efficiently, there seems to be a relaxing side effect that comes back to haunt me when I wake up from an unexpected snooze with my nose in a book tent.

I had considered going in the opposite direction and dressing up as if I were going to work (even shoes, jewelry and makeup) but that seems too extreme.  Besides, if my beloved St. Louis Cardinals are still in the championship race, I'll need to wear my baseball shirt.

As always, what to read?  What are other people going to read?  I made a reading list for fall, but am feeling the urge to deviate from it.  Saturday morning will probably find me at the Busan English Library making a stack.  

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Misplaced Bookworm: A Failure to Communicate

In this day and age of social media, how could I possibly lose track of someone?  It seems that I have done just that. To compound my shame and annoyance, this person is MALE, so I can't blame it on she-got-married-and-changed-her-name.

I've lost all my contact information for Pablo, my bookish co-worker from Gumi.  I wrote about him regularly in this blog.  During those first few years in Korea, if I hadn't had him to exchange books and movies with, life would have been -- well, I don't want to over-dramatize, but it would have been a lot less nice.  A lot less civilized.  He left our workplace and I followed a year or two later, leaving town.  We met up once after that, and exchanged a few emails.  Then, nothing.  That was five years ago.  Social media isn't Pablo's thing, so I don't think I'll find him on Facebook, Twitter LinkedIn...

Carelessness and complacency.  I allowed a perfect storm of old phone numbers stored in lost old cell phones and a couple of defunct email accounts to sever the last links.  I relied on our mutual buddy, CanadaBoy to always keep this information, while he was relying on me.  I was so sure I had Pablo's email.  I would have sworn to it in court.  The whole mess boils down to a failure to communicate, and not just on my end.  I cared, but I was busy.  I have a hatful of crap excuses.  The truth is: I wasn't paying attention.

This is even more maddening because just last spring, Pablo popped up in the comment section of  my post about oatmeal.  I was feeling frustrated about not finding it in the grocery stores here, and he offered advice:

Try Googling Nice Deli Korea for your oatmeal fix.They're based in Pusan I think and will deliver.
Came across your blog purely by chance and surprised to see you're still in Korea!

I followed his Blogger link, but no joy.  No blog.  I guess he just uses his account to comment on the odd blog here and there.  He wrote that he came here 'purely by chance'.  So does he read me regularly now, or was that a one-off?  Is there any hope that he'll pass this way again?

As for going to Gumi and hunting him down, I don't remember exactly where he lives.  I don't remember the name of the bakery where he went/goes every week to get 'proper' bread.  He's not much of a social butterfly either, so I can't go downtown and poke my head in every bar looking for a 6 ft. 4 Welshman who likes Jim Beam or Jack Daniels or one of those liquors with a first name and a surname.

Korea's in my rearview mirror come spring, and there's a small list of people that I want to see once more before I go.

Pablo, where are you?

Found him!  Luckily, I was a little slow to technology, and I used to write everyone's contact information in a journal.  It was just a matter of locating the journals and laboriously paging through all my cringeworthy entries.  And there he was.  We've talked on the phone, and he and CanadaBoy and I are planning a reunion.  I am very squeeeeee!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

September 2014 with Books

A satisfying month for reading:

1. New Grub Street - George Gissing. Novel.

2. Hometown Appetites - Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris. Nonfiction.

3. The Lost Art of Dress - Linda Przybyszewski. Nonfiction.

4. Yes, Chef - Marcus Samuelsson. Memoir.

5. The Lifeboat - Charlotte Rogan. Novel.

6. Grammar Slammer - English Teacher X. Nonfiction.

7. Audrey Hepburn - Barry Paris. Biography.

8. Eve's Ransom - George Gissing. Novel.

9. Black Water - Joyce Carol Oates. Novel.

10. Fun Home - Alison Bechdel. Graphic Novel. (re-read)

11. Are You My Mother? - Alison Bechdel. Graphic Novel. (re-read)

Top Favorite:  The Lost Art of Dress.  I love this book.  I want to buy a hard copy.

Other Favorites:
Audrey Hepburn   
The Bechdel books
New Grub Street
Black Water

Not all I'd hoped for, but OK:
The Lifeboat
 Eve's Ransom.

Looking forward to October.  I'm doing the Readathon.  Watch these eyeballs go into overdrive.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bukowski Night

Since I moved to Busan almost two years ago, my friend Val has been after me to go to the Wordz Only event. Since she doesn't live here, I made up flimsy excuses not to attend.  I imagined (One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Imagination working overtime!) going and sitting alone and feeling bashful, awkward and decrepit as the spotlight shined like the sun and moon combined on the talented but haughty and exclusive Busan equivalent of the Algonquin Round Table.

Val gave up trying to persuade me or perhaps she was just taking a break.  Whichever it was, in that interval a notice came up on Facebook that the next Wordz Only would have a theme: It would be Charles Bukowski night!

My timidity and reserve melted.  Bukowski Night!  O Hank!  I would be there.  Furthermore, I was going to read something.  If invited. I would not intrude. (introversion + being from the Midwest = hellish repression)

Last Saturday, I prepared for the evening by showering (probably not very Bukowskian) and watching a bit of Barfly.  I also practiced the short poem I would read.  Damn my voice!  I needed to borrow someone else's larynx.  Something deep, husky and velvety-raspy.

Oh, that's right:  In all these years of blogging, most of you have never heard me speak.  In pitch, intonation, and even syntax, I sound a lot like Sarah Vowell, AKA Violet from The Incredibles.  Don't get me wrong; I love Sarah Vowell to bits, but for Bukowski Night, it just wouldn't go.  Oh, well.  I'd jockey for a position under the air-conditioning vent on the subway. Maybe I'd develop bronchitis en route.

The event was being held in the perfect venue -- a bar.  Anywhere else would have been absurd at best and dishonest at worst.  HQ Bar. Not as dive-y as I'd hoped, but I'd seen it from the outside the previous Sunday morning, and with the full and bursting trash bags nestled against its base, it looked and smelled every bit the shithole Bukowski would have required.  It pleased me.

 Walking in, I ordered a glass of red wine (should have been beer, should have been rye, should have been scotch and water...oh well).  I almost said, "Hey, Barkeep!" when I asked for a refill, but I didn't.

So...awkward for a little while, but then K, the longtime organizer of Wordz Only came in, and I screwed my courage to the sticking-point and introduced myself and he was really nice!  He asked if I was going to read!  I told him about Val starting a Wordz Only in Cheonan as a tribute (tributary?) to the one in Busan, and he really liked that.  K. didn't wear a beret!  He didn't blow cigarillo smoke in my face!  He was playing Tom Waits before the event started!  I was starting to relax and enjoy myself.  I ordered a plate of french fries so I wouldn't get too stinko and do something stupid like start singing He's Me Pal then throw up on the floor.  That would be a little too Bukowskian.  There's such a thing as overstating your theme.

Each reading was better than the last.  Some people read Bukowski, and others riffed off of Bukowski, and their efforts weren't half-assed.  I was impressed.  Literary!  Erudite!  Articulate!  I was falling in love.  One guy read Raymond Carver's You Don't Know What Love Is: An Evening with Bukowski.  Smitten doesn't even cover it. I wanted to freeze time and have it be Bukowski Night at the HQ Bar for all eternity.

So what did I read?  I decided to read something by Al Purdy, a Canadian poet Bukowski admired: "I don't know any good living poets, but there's this tough son-of-a-bitch up in Canada that walks the line."  I could feel all the Canadians in the room filling up with happiness as I read Purdy's poem:

Home-Made Beer
I was justly annoyed 10 years ago
in Vancouver: making beer in a crock
under the kitchen table when this
next-door youngster playing with my own
kid managed to sit down in it and
emerged with one end malted—
With excessive moderating I yodelled
at him
          ”Keep your ass out of my beer!”
           and the little monster fled—
Whereupon my wife appeared from the bathroom
where she’d been brooding for days
over the injustice of being a woman and
attacked me with a broom—
With commendable savoir faire I broke
the broom across my knee (it hurt too) and
then she grabbed the breadknife and made
for me with fairly obvious intentions—
I tore open my shirt and told her calmly
with bared breast and a minimum of boredom
          ”Go ahead! Strike! Go ahead!”
Icicles dropped from her fiery eyes as she snarled
          ”I wouldn’t want to go to jail
           for killing a thing like you!”
I could see at once that she loved me
tho it was cleverly concealed—
For the next few weeks I had to distribute
the meals she prepared among neighbouring
dogs because of the rat poison and
addressed her as Missus Borgia—
That was a long time ago and while
at the time I deplored her lack of
self-control I find myself sentimental
about it now for it can never happen again—
Sept. 22, 1964: PS, I was wrong—

I think it went well; I tried not to hurry in my nervousness.  I was on a microphone, and I could hear my Sarah Vowell voice, but I just decided to rock the squeak.  

All the people whose readings I had enjoyed came up to me after Wordz Only was finished said they liked the poet/poem I'd chosen.  K. shook my hand and asked me to come to the next event.  I was so happy.  Too happy; I had to get away before I burst from it. 
 So how do you like that???  I'm mere months from leaving Korea, leaving Busan and I finally find what I feel like is *my* tribe.  It figures. Shoulda listened to Val.