Mark James Russell

Books, blog and other blather

Category: Random Stuff (page 1 of 7)

Getting closer…

Sorry for the extended radio silence. A new job and the usual life stuff makes it harder to find the time to say much worthwhile. However, that could be changing soon.

First up: Pop Goes Korea update. Yes, I’m actually making progress. In fact, there’s just one more chapter to update – unfortunately, it’s the music chapter, which definitely is going to require the biggest update. But that’s okay. It’s all pretty fun stuff to write about. Oh, and I’m hoping to add a couple of Q&As, just to add some other people’s thoughts and experiences to my overview of the Korean entertainment and media scene.

Of course, even when the writing and editing is done, I’m going to have to figure out e-book publishing on all those online stores (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.). That might take a bit of figuring out. But hopefully it won’t take too much longer.

In other writing news, my publisher tells me that my new novel is supposed to be ready and in the world in June. So that’s pretty exciting, too. I was lucky enough to meet the cover artist, Eric Belisle, in Tokyo a few weeks ago, and in addition to being a fun and fascinating guy, Eric also came up with a couple of fun changes to the cover based on our chat. I’ve seen an early version and I’m pretty happy with it.

So, it looks like the next few months could be fun and productive for me. I hope you enjoy the results!

Picture this

Okay, so the revamp of Pop Goes Korea is taking a lot longer than I anticipated. Sorry about that. But I will try to have the new edition up as an e-book before too long, so people needing it for this semester at university will have time to read.

On the plus side, one reason it is going slow is because I am happy with the new material and all the good feedback I’ve gotten from people. It’s been a pretty crazy 8-9 years for Korean pop culture since the book was published, and there’s a lot to cover.

In the meantime, here are some more fun pics from around Seoul. A nice sunset from up high in Myeongdong.

myeongdong-sunset-170105

And a shot from down on the streets below (well, Euljiro, but later that same night).

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

I used to live right here in Donggyo-dong, back when this park was a train track. I remember the day they pulled up the tracks and started digging down to build the airport express line. It took forever for the city to finish the train line, and then for years this land was just derelict. But now, it is quite a nice park.

donggyo-dong-park

Here is an image from Sangil-dong, where developers are tearing down nearly all the old apartment blocks. Coming soon, towering apartments, 25 stories high or more.

sangil-teardown-2017

And here’s a fun one from a nearby forest, when the air cleared up and it was a nice 10 degree day in January.

Sangil-forest-Jan2017

2016 is winding down

Another year is nearly done, and once again I find my life strangely in flux. There’s a new job about to begin in January — in a totally new part of town I’ve never really hung out in before. I think it is a really good-looking job, but I will miss working in the old, run-down Euljiro part of town. It had a lot of ramshackle beauty.

Euljiro3ga-night

Meanwhile, I’m still at work on POP GOES KOREA, 2nd Edition. So much has gone on with Korea’s entertainment scene since the first edition, revising it is turning into a bigger task than I envisioned back in October. But I’m still hoping to get it done in time for the start of the next semester’s classes (for students who might need it as a resource).

Oh, because the weather is so cold at the moment, here are a couple of photos of Okinawa from a recent trip there. Sunny, warm Okinawa…

Okinawa1

Come on in, enjoy the nice warm water. But btw, here is a small list of the local critters that might maim or kill you…

Okinawa2

Oh, but here’s something from the sea that we killed first. Justice!

Okinawa4

 

Talking music on the radio

My good friend Shawn left Korea last year after seven years there, most of that spent immersed in the local indie music scene. Since moving to Hamilton, Ontario (that would be Canada), he’s had a weekly radio show about Korean indie music on McMaster University radio, CFMU.

As I am currently visiting family nearby, Shawn invited me to join him on last week’s show. It was good fun. For an hour, I shared some of my favorite Korean music, and we chatted a bit about music things. You can listen to the results on Mixcloud. (I also briefly wrote about it over on the Korea Gig Guide).

 

Not a bad weekend …

Friday, the brutal month-long heatwave finally broke, as temperatures dropped into the 20s and nearly all the pollution just disappeared. The result was some of the best weather I can recall in Seoul in ages. Just great for sitting outside or having a picnic or whatever. And Sunday night—bonus—a rainbow.

Misari - Saturday morning

 

Gangdong Sunset

 

Gangdong Rainbow

 

Tim Duncan retires!

Duncan

Sad to hear Tim Duncan is retiring. While there have been plenty of more explosive or exciting players in the NBA, there has never been any player I respected more.

Duncan-Robinson

I mean, take a look at his stats, especially the per-36 numbers and the Advanced — they barely budged for 20 years. Just excellent right up until the end.

TD5

Warm weather in Korea

After the smog of April and before the hot and miserable weather comes, we are in the middle of some pretty nice weather. Here are some random pics of life in Seoul that I’ve encountered lately.

First of all, the green view from where I live.

Apart - May

It wasn’t so long ago it looked like this:

Gangdong-snow4

Down by the Cheonggyecheon, lots of people were taking photos and fixated on something. What? Why?

Cheonggyecheon1

Ah, some kind of heron, hanging out in the stream.

Cheonggyecheon - bird

And I recently went up to the Shilla Hotel, for the first time in ages. Got lucky with a great moon and some moody clouds.

Shilla hotel night - april

Last snow of the winter?

It seems like most years in Korea, you get that one last big snowfall in late February or early March. And once again, the weather obliged.

Gangdong-late-snow3

Gangdong-late-snow

Gangdong-late-snow2

And an hour later:

Gangdong-snow4

 

Another new year is already underway (lunar edition)

We had a late Lunar New Year this year, coming the week before Valentine’s Day. So welcome to the year of the red monkey (丙申年). To celebrate, here’s a look at a pretty Seollal sunset through a dirty subway window.

seoul sunset

For reasons I do not quite understand, my old post about Hongdae coffee shops from 18 months ago appears to be getting more interest. But of course, being Korea, 18 months is a long time, and most of the post is now out of date. So if you’re looking for good coffee in Hongdae, check before going anywhere.

In particular, Coffee Me is gone, having shut down last summer. Cafe Belief still exists, but it has moved to the Hapjeong area, behind the Mecenatpolis

Anthracite has apparently had some issues with its workers, but they seem to have solved those problems are going strong still. Yri and Jebi are still good, too, if you’re in the Sangsu area. On the Donggyo side of Hongdae, Gabia is still your best bet (imho), and Cafe Libre in Yeonnam-dong.

Anyhow, happy lunar new year.

 

Autumn arrives

After weeks of the clearest fall skies I can remember in Korea, the smog finally rolled in last week, turning everything all throat-scratchy and post-apocalyptic. But last night it rained and cleared everything out, at least for a little while. Plus the leaves are finally turning colors (it’s been pretty warm all October), so everything in Korea is pretty lovely at the moment.

Autum Apt

Autumn Apt2

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