Archive for November, 2006

Exchange rate watch

1 GBP = 1,813.27 KRW

2,000,000 KRW = 1,103.04 GBP

Bonus Random Exchange Rate

1 GBP = 0.143455 ounces of silver (XAG)

As you might have seen on the news recently, the pound is strong at the moment, which means my wages are worth less (although not worthless). On the 15 November, my monthly salary was worth an extra 30 pounds. Still, when I was doing my research before coming out to Korea the exchange rate was about 1,850 won to the pound.

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As I took my toothpaste and toothbrush out of my bathroom cabinet last night I knocked my scissors off the shelf. They fell straight into the toilet. The lid and seat were raised because the last time I used the toilet was to urinate. And I don’t usually flush after peeing. Yesterday was no exception. I reached in to lift out the scissors and they came out festooned with sodden tissue. The tissue I’d masturbated into earlier on.

Nice, eh?

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Stephen Donaldson just answered my latest brace of questions to him.

Captain Maybe:  I’ve just finished watching the third season of 24 (only now because the BBC decided after day 2 that it was too expensive, damn them) and I realised that it reminds me a lot of my favourite series of books – the Gap sequence. It has that same breathless and brutal intensity, the convoluted plot and the reliance on technology; what it doesn’t have is the depth of characterisation.

I had a vague recollection that the programme had been mentioned in the GI so I did a search: you said that the actress who played Teri Bauer could just possibly play Morn. Which suggests that you watch the show – do you (still)? What do you think of it and do you see parallels with your own work?

My second question is related, so I’ll include it here. I also realised while watching 24 that something that film and TV can do very well is silence, the absence of anything happening, people just standing staring in shock, awe, grief, whatever. Prose can’t do this (it seems to me) because there always have to be words on the page carrying the narrative forward. My question: How do you, as a writer, handle silences, pauses, absences of action?


I do watch “24”. As a student of what I call “long-form storytelling,” I’m interested in almost anything that promises to tell a coherent and interesting story in more than 42 minutes (or more than 242 minutes, for that matter). The problem with “24” is that it seldom delivers what it promises. More often, it conveys the sensation that the writers and directors are scrambling, even floundering, in a desperate attempt to stretch their story beyond its natural limits. The result is more and more implausibility as the episodes go by. (Just my opinion, of course.) Years ago, I followed “Babylon 5” for much the same reason–and gave up on it when I began to believe that the wheels had come off.

Every storytelling medium has its inherent advantages and disadvantages. Visual forms like film and theater are especially good at silences–and gestures–and action of all kinds–and (since these forms usually include sound) voices. (Of course, “silence” can be seen as a sub-set of “sound,” but that’s not really the point here.) Images-with-sound allow the storyteller to communicate several messages simultaneously. They are not so good at managing emotional complexites–or at enlisting the imagination(s) of the audience.

It’s probably pretty obvious that I handle “silences, pauses, absences of action” by using those opportunities to delve into the hidden depths of my characters.


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Exchange rate watch

1 GBP = 1,804.66 KRW

2,000,000 KRW = 1,108.316 GBP

Random Bonus Exchange Rate

1 GBP = 47.1442 Uruguay pesos (UYU)

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Nearly but not

I went out with Sue a couple of times at the weekend. I’ve taken to thinking of her as my nearly-girlfriend, as there’s been absolutely no physical dimension to our relationship. Up until Saturday, anyway. We had dinner and then went for a walk. Sue showed me the big waterfall I’d seen from the top of a hill a few weeks ago – it’s a lot closer than I thought, and in a different location (which explains why I’ve never been able to find it on my walks).

As we walked back, she fell back a little and held out her hands, saying, ‘Drag me, drag me.’ So I did, and that was the first time we’d held hands. (She’s small, and it kind of felt like holding hands with a child.) I ‘dragged’ her back to my apartment for a cup of tea. She watched TV, mostly, but I got her to write down some Korean for me.

I walked her back to her apartment (that she shares with her sister, brother-in-law and their two kids) and tried to kiss her. She pulled away. Then she let me kiss her on the forehead (she leant forward too much and gently head-butted me in the mouth) and then said something about me shaving (I’ve grown a goatee).

I walked the 50 metres or so back to mine feeling somewhat confused, embarrassed and dejected. When I got back, I tried, fairly successfully, to dispel these feeling with Futurama – including an episode called ‘Where No Fan Has Been Before’, with guest appearances by William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols and a brilliant one-line part by Jonathan Frakes. (And if you don’t know who each of those is, I have no respect for you at all.)

Yesterday, on my way back from roleplaying, I texted her to apologise for making her feel uncomfortable and to ask how her day had been. I’ve had no reply.

So now I’m at home on Monday with no internet access because someone or other is digging up the pavements nearby hoping that things haven’t changed for the worse between us.

And now – I’m at home on Tuesday lunchtime, hopefully with enough time to post this successfully. I’ve seen Sue at work today and yesterday and said hello, exchanged a brief remark or two, nothing more. Which is pretty typical of our previous behaviour at work. I haven’t tried too hard to talk to her, to be honest, but we’ll see what happens during the week.

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Exchange rate watch

1 GBP = 1,802.53 KRW

2,000,000 KRW = 1,109.55 GBP

Bonus Random Exchange Rate

1 GBP = 1.93744 United States dollars (USD)

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The delightful Samantha

Towards the end of every episode of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, there’s a joke involving the fictitious scoregirl, Samantha – a joke of the double entendre variety. I’ve just listened to this week’s edition via Radio 4’s listen again website, and the Samantha joke was one of the dirtiest and funniest ever:

Well, I see it’s very nearly the end of the show, but there’s just time to squeeze in a round of Miser’s Film Club. Samantha has to nip out now as she’s off to see an elderly gentleman friend. She says he’s a bit of an old curmudgeon who doesn’t like spending his money, but Samantha says if she butters him up properly she can occasionally get him to splash out.

The laughter went on for about half a minute, during which Jeremy Hardy called out (about the presenter, Humphrey Lyttelton), ‘He’s 85!’

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Exchange rate watch

1 GBP = 1,799.29 KRW

2,000,000 KRW = 1,111.55 GB

Bonus Random Exchange Rate

1 GBP = 31,084 Vietnam dong

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Exchange rate watch

1 GBP = 1,787.62 KRW

2,000,000 KRW = 1,118.754 GBP

Bonus Random Exchange Rate

1 GBP = 14.5919 Guatemalan quetzales (GTQ)

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I made one of my female students of about nine or ten years old cry today. Kind of amusing. She can be annoying, although not in an unpleasant way. For instance, I’ve taken to adding -o to some of the students’ names – so Lily becomes Lily-o. Whenever I call her this, she goes, ‘Nooooooooo!’ in a rather grating voice. Sometimes she comes up and starts hitting me, too.

Today, I started drawing on her with my marker when she did so. When she kept on with her annoying ways – climbing on the table, rubbing off what I’d written on the board – I gave her minus points in the class’s scores. The combination of these three things had her in tears. But she cries easily, apparently – she’s a bit of a drama queen.

Yesterday, I made one of my kindergarteners cry by taking a book off him. He gets very sulky when I do things like that, but I was a little surprised to see him cry.

The day before, I was looking after a kindergarten class that I don’t usually teach. They seem to like me a lot more than my other kindergarteners, and they’re a little younger. I told them I’d eat lunch with them, but I didn’t because they hassled me the last time I did. Later, as I was finishing my lunch in the kitchen, some of them came to the door and said, ‘Sean Teacher, why you is liar?’ I’ll keep those kind of promises in future. Or not make them.

I had some other, rather more pleasant embarrassment that morning. In my classes I keep a running score – the kids gain and lose points for good and bad behaviour and winning games. For my favourite kindergarteners, I’ve also been including the other teachers that take them. One of these teachers is the girl I’ve been having dinner with.

Alphabetically, her name is at the bottom of the list, and, for humorous purposes, I gave the first Korean teacher ten points, the second 100 points, and Susan 1,000 points. When one of the students noticed this and asked about it he picked up on my slight awkwardness. Later in the hallway, he was cupping his hands to his mouth and calling out ‘Sean-uh loves-uh Suzhan Teacher!’ A couple of my Korean colleagues mentioned it, but I think they understand it was just childish teasing.

For the last couple of days, I’ve been keeping just the students’ scores.

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