Saturday, August 27, 2011

Well-Read in Korea, Part One...

As mentioned in other posts, I read books. Lots and lots of books. 

It's quite possible that I have an addiction, though I would claim that it was a healthy addiction, as opposed to others I may or may not have.

I've started keeping a book journal of what I have been reading. Well, not so much a journal as a list. Luckily, these books are available on the Kindle, which makes it easy to carry a  whole bunch at once, so I rarely experience a delay between when I finish a book and when I start the next.

I am going to share the books I have read since the last week of June, when my books were almost all boxed up and I was ready to come to Korea.

Here is the list:
1.  A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

2. Eve's Diary by Mark Twain
3. Extracts from Adam's Diary by Mark Twain
4. If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell
5. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
6. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
7. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
8. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
9. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
10. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
11. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
12. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
13. Altogether Dead by Charlaine Harris
14. From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
15. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
16. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
17. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
18. River Marked by Patricia Briggs
19. The Godwulf Manuscript by Richard B. Parker
20. Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
21. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
22. The Lost World by Michael Crichton
23. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
24. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
25. The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
26. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

And that's my list. So far. Twenty six books in two months is a pretty good pace. Don't know I will keep at the same pace, but it seems likely. I read.

A lot.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

High School, Blankets, and Graphic Novels...

This past week I taught students from Yeonchun High School. Most of the lessons/activities I taught were the same as those I teach for other groups. There were just two big differences. At the beginning of the week, when the students had just arrived, I interviewed half of them to determine how fluent they were in English.  That was new. Then, at the end of the week, I helped them prepare presentations that they were to give in English. I also helped critique their presentations. That was also new.

When I found out that I was to be teaching a group of high school students, I wasn't all that excited. For the last month, I have been working the 1PM to 9PM shift, which means that my primary responsibility was leading group activities and games while encouraging the students to participate in English. One of these activities is a dance party, where the students learn many different dances, like the Macarena, the Cupid Shuffle, a dance to "YMCA" and many others. When I was in high school, I would not have wanted to have anything to do with that particular activity. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how much these students enjoyed the activities, even the dancing. Of course, the night previous to Dance Party, we had watched "Iron Man," but didn't have enough time to finish it, so I promised the students that if they danced, we would finish the movie.  That may have had something to do with their participation.

They were fun students and I am glad I got the chance to spend a week with them.

Quick side note: yesterday I bought a printer. It wasn't too expensive and I felt it necessary as when I write I like to edit my own essays on a printout. I felt uncomfortable with using the English Village's printers for this purpose, so figured a printer was a decent investment. End side note.

Every now and again I browse through Amazon's recommendations for me. This is generally rather amusing as my tastes are very eclectic, but now and then I find something I am excited about. 

I found out that Top Shelf publications just put out a hardcover edition of Craig Thompson's Blankets, which is in the running for "Adam's Favorite Graphic Novel" (not an actual prize). Yesterday I went across the street to the Village's bookstore and asked if they could order it in for me. Yes, I could have ordered it from Amazon, but I like supporting local businesses, and the bookstore, as far as I know, is not run by the English Village.

I am very excited to own a hardcover copy of this book.

When I say Graphic Novel, what I am referring to is a work of fiction related to a comic book. However, a Graphic Novel is a single work, generally much longer than a comic book. In the case of Blankets, the work is 600 pages long. It took Thompson years to write, draw and publish the book. 

So, in my definition, a Graphic Novel is an original work of fiction that is composed of two principal elements. 1: Pages composed of panels of artwork that tell a continual, visual (graphic) story. 2: Written elements that can provide insight into what a character is thinking, or provide additional perspective to what is presented in the drawings. Graphic Novels tend to come out once, unless they are released in series, which then are released often several months, or years, apart. Good examples, besides Blankets, include Stitches by  David Small, Maus by Art Spiegelman (which, incidentally, won a Pulitzer, if that sort of thing impresses you. It does me.) and Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel.

Comic books are serialized monthly, and these are most often 22 pages or story. The monthlies are (now) collected into volumes that usually include six issues. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Superheroes tend to fall into this category. Sometimes these collected editions of comic books are called Graphic Novels, but I believe this is misleading. They used to be called Trade Paperbacks, but they are now released in hardcover editions as well. I don't know that there is one perfect term to call them. I refer to them as Collected Editions. I'm working on a better title.

I believe that Graphic Novels frequently have profound artistic merit. Collected editions, not so frequently, but it still happens. 

But that's just my opinion...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Korean Name...

I actually had a good week. I was teaching elementary school students this time around. I rotated between three classes of fifteen students each. Classes 1 & 2 were the oldest. I spent the most time with them.

My favorite was Class 3. I spent my week looking forward to the next chance to spend time with them. Most of the students were eight years old, though there were two who were six. They were tiny and super cute.

I got to teach class three a lesson about tornadoes. After the lesson portion, we made tornadoes out of two one liter bottles, a connector, water and food coloring. The kids were fascinated by the spinning water.

In the evenings, all three classes were combined for activity night. We played games, watched a movie and had a dance night. Unlike my last experience with Dance Night, the students actually participated this time. And had a lot of fun. Near the end of the activity, I told the students to get in a big circle to have a dance contest. One of the six-year-olds walked up to me, pointed at my belly and said, "Big circle." I cracked up. I couldn't help it. The next day, she pointed and repeated the phrase. Cute kid.

Later in the week, one of the older kids in Class 3, who also spoke English better than her classmates, told me I had a Korean name. She said my new name was "Bathangthang." I had her write it down for me and say it several times so I could get it right. When I asked her what it meant, she giggled and wouldn't tell me. I asked around, trying to find out what it meant. I figured it couldn't be anything too horrible, as she was just a kid, and Korean kids are generally quite polite, especially to their teachers.

Turns out, my Korean name means "big, soft belly."

And that is pretty accurate.