3 reads

A Throne of Bones– a ripping good fantasy novel, is free for the next four days.

Not free, but a fun read: The Last Dragon Slayer, Jasper Fforde’s first juvenile novel (Fford wrote The Eyre Affair and other Thursday Next). The Quark Beast, is my favourite.

.99, The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is one of my favourite tales of Chivalry.


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K-Dramas since moving to the Philippines

Catching up on my dramas has been slow. On the plus side, we have a young neighbor who is Korean and teaches at our school, and we have him over for dinner a couple times a week, I’m honorary Auntie to another young Korean teacher at the school, my closest coworker (I’m at the high school library every day now) is Korean and gives me tips, 3/4 of the school students are Korean, there are Korean restaurants all over and a couple Korean stores, one of which carries K-dramas which even come with English subs, and there are Korean books at the library. My husband mainly works on the other side of the school and the teacher in the room next to his is also Korean (her husband has the room next to mine) and his co-worker and mine keep us in kimchi fairly regularly. My tutor for the local dialect (Visaya/Bisaya) also loves K-dramas so we get to chat about those every once in a while. It’s really quite lovely.

My young neighbor is male and he did his military service in Korea but in a joint exercise with the American military, so his English is pretty terrific.

Meanwhile, off the top of my head, here are some K-dramas I watched in the last seven or eight months:

Suspicious Partners: This was An interesting combination of funny, cute, romantic, and creepy scary, and lots of adorable.  The killer villain was scary, the other villain, an unjust official, was absolutely infuriating and obnoxious and there was absolutely no reason for him to keep being so awful.
Lead is the same actor who was in Healer (Ji Chang Wook), who is always adorable.

Nam Ji Hyun plays a girl who used to be a martial arts major who switches to law because she is upset about about the way there is one law for the poor and one law for the rich, even though she really doesn’t have a head for it and has to study harder than everybody else.  She is wrongfully arrested for murder and Ji Chang Wook’s character is the one who prosecutes her, but he knows she is innocent. He ends up withdrawing charges at the cost of his career.  Meanwhile, there’s a real killer and a bigger story than they know going on, not to mention the romance.  This one was nice for me with my bandwidth issues in the Philippines,  because episodes are only half an hour or so in length.

Chicago Typewriter-  Oh, this was so beautiful.  I could say that about three or four recent dramas- they seem to be getting really artsy and pretty, or at least more of them are.

Two boys and a girl are active in the Korean resistance during the Japanese occupation in the 20s or 30s (I forget).  In the current era, one of them has reincarnated as a gifted, driven, diligent, and successful author with a painful past (Yoo Ah In, and he’s wonderful and all is forgiven). The girl is now a vet (as in animal doctor) with a spooky past, a failed attempt at an Olympic Gold medal in shooting and occasional strange dreams where she shoots somebody and it’s the wrong guy.  Go Kyung Po is only a ghost.  He’s been trapped all these years in a specially made vintage typewriter with Korean keys (I covet that typewriter)  and he doesn’t know why.  They are reunited, although for quite some time only Ah In’s character can see the ghost, which makes for some hilarious shenanigans. To jog your memory,  Yoo Ah In played the rebel, masked resistance fighter in Syungkyungang Scandal, he was in Punch, and other things, including Six Flying Dragons and, regrettably, Fashion King.  He’s brilliant here and it’s a beautiful show, and was beautiful….
All the way to the end.  Wow.  Two or three caveats for those who care:  There’s a ghost, reincarnation is a major theme, and a kind of significant (and very annoying) continuity error/ contradiction in what the ghost says he cannot do and what he has already done, and some very maekjang elements.  But they are really unavoidable if you’re going to have anything at all about the Japanese occupation in your story.  For me, the reincarnation stuff was a constant irritation and annoyance, and it does kind of drive the whole story- there is no story without it.  So,  if you can overlook those, there is so much pathos and humor, warmth, thoughtful approaches to forgiveness and repentance and what happens when you cannot admit you are wrong, really terrific and cool stuff about being a writer and what that means-  and the acting, oh, my goodness.  The acting.  Yoo Ah In, about that Fashion King monstrosity, all is forgiven.  Im Soo Jung, who ordinarily I consider a negligible actress, made me cry more than once, and made me believe she was crying.  Well done.  Go Kyung Po is always delightful.   I said Yoo Ah In was brilliant- and he is, he is a polished, sparkling gem, glittering all over.  The writing is pretty fabulous, too. The music is gorgeous, the opening credits stunning, the cinematography lovely, and the story has oh so many feels.

Mystery Queen: Do not bother.  It had a good beginning, but one of the stupidest endings I have ever seen.  A housewife secretly studies crimes, and finds herself also secretly helping the police to solve local crimes while fielding calls from her mother-in-law, who really does adore her to death but is also quite self-centered and demanding. The crimes escalate, and eventually she’s helping to catch serial killers. This was a lot of fun at first, (except for the serial killing part, obviously).  I’m  at the point where I am concerned that the direction it’s going is going to result in her leaving her husband, and I won’t love it nearly as much.

Update: Oh, good grief.  This is so lame. It has the worst ending.  It just fizzled. We don’t ever really get resolution about anything, and it’s abrupt. It’s like everybody just threw in the towel and said let’s quit, and so they suddenly did and they made up the quickest ending they could on the fly on their way out the door in a race to see who could escape first.  Don’t even start this.

Goblin– Beautiful.  Funny.  Heartrending.  Adorable.  Hilarious.  The scene with the two guys and the green onions, oh, my, goodness.  You’ve got reincarnation stuff, a ghost or two or a hundred, fortunate telling, a weird (albeit kind of interesting) idea about God (or god? I was never sure), Angels of Death, especially one in particular, and this weird thing that ought to be disturbing but it works where a guy cursed to live forever and be a goblin until he finds his bride at least meets his bride, only she’s still a high school student and he’s 780 years old or something.  All the acting was fabulous.  This is one of my favourites.

Hwarang– lots of very pretty people and a bromance I could really get behind and appreciate. Fun.

Legend of the Blue Sea– Lee Min Ho,need-I-say-more-I-think-not, Jun Ji Hyun (My Love From a Star) and egad this gorgeous actress is funny!  Parts of the story line were lame, the villains were annoying and nasty, but the two leads, plus a fairly substantial  cameo from Jo Jung Suk (the much beloved earnest soldier in King 2 Hearts, the bashful singer with stage fright in What’s Up, and the nearly a gangster thug brother in the heartbreaking movie My Annoying Brother) left me satisfied, although I wouldn’t put it in my top 20.







Dramas I’ve completed, recommend, and reviewed: see here.

K-Dramas I almost liked– most of these are  darker than I usually prefer. Some are also-rans- I thought I was going to like them, which is why I started reviewing, but they there were just too flawed.

Things to know when watching a K-drama

More Things To Know

Addiction, and why I like K-dramas

You might be watching a K-Drama if….

Where to get your fix: Sites where you can find subtitled K-dramas (and dramas from other countries, as well. I’ve watched a handful of J-dramas (Japanese) and TW (Taiwanese) dramas, but I vastly prefer the K-dramas, even though I know more Japanese – I got an A in my Japanese 101 class back in the day, when we actually lived in Japan and once I even knew both hiragana and katakana- but still K-dramas interest me vastly more).

Need to read still more about K-dramas?


Dramabeans– must reading, as long as you can filter out the point that they see misogyny everywhere, but never met a scene with a girl kicking a boy in the crotch for no good reason that doesn’t make them chortle with glee.

Outside Seoul

Noonas Over Forks

Couch Kimchi

Learn more background stuff about Korean culture from askakorean

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I visited the Philippines over 25 years ago, when Clark Air Force Base was still controlled by the American military. I took Jeepneys then, and found it easy. This time back, the only jeepney I’ve taken in the seven months we’ve lived here is one that was ‘bespoke’ for us by a Filipino friend- he hired it for a single trip and we paid the driver. So it was not really the same. I keep thinking I should try again, but then i watch the loading and unloading and think about trying it with the Cherub and decide I won’t. I am now convinced this is a wise decision, not a cowardly one.

Oh- I kind of lied. We sort of rode a jeepney once from Crocodile Park at closing time out to the main highway exit= it’s not very far, and it was a free ride (everybody else was employed at Crocodile Park)= but it was very difficult with the Cherub, very cramped, and even though we were seated by the door when it was time to get out everybody else pretty much just jumped otu in front of us. It’s funny, because we were going to wait for them to get out first anyway, since she’s so slow and difficult about getting in and out of public conveyances, but we didn’t have a chance to show our consideration.=)

The thing is, we were getting off at a time and place where public conveyance to the next stop was going to be hard to find, and they all knew that. Half an hour later, more than half of the people who had been on the jeepney with us were still competing for taxidrivers or alternate jeepneys, but they were all full. We only got a ride because one of my guys had chatted up a Trike driver earlier, he was there at the park waiting to pick up his girl. He said he couldn’t give us a ride then, but if we were still around when his girl got off, he’d give us a ride, but she worked late. We were very pleased with ourselves and our foresight when we’d been breathing traffic fumes for half an house, had been unable to sit anywhere, and had waved fruitlessly at 33 cabs, and the Trike pulled up and the driver shouted “Oy, Marfori?” (the name of our subdivision), and off we went for less than cab fare.

But really, other than those two not quite normal Jeepney experiences, that’s it for us, and that’s probably going to continue to be it.

This is pretty funny, but it’s not really wrong, either.

And if you really want to know more about the jeepneys, you can read here. It’s true, I seldom see the really fun designs anymore. It’s just public transportation- transportation that works pretty well here, and it’s not exactly like a bus service in the US, and it’s not extremely friendly for disabled passengers who have trouble getting in and out. I don’t think anybody would be grumpy with us- that has not been my experience at all. The cherub is obviously disabled, and Filipinos have been universally kind and thoughtful and considerate (and Americans pretty much universally either oblivious or uncomfortable). But I would know we are seriously inconveniencing people and making them late and holding up the driver from picking up other fares and I would feel badly about it, not to mention hauling the Cherub up and down the Jeepney steps and stepping over people’s feet on our way to our sets is just not what I want to be doing. Ever. AT All.

Other things I have noticed: Here, the barangay or districts along their routes are painted on the side of the jeepneys, and while some are easier to read than others, I’ve only had to squint once or twice. They will stop within their districts almost anywhere for anybody- we get a honk and a raised eyebrow when we are walking down the road (eyebrows and lips are major communication techniques here). But if your district isn’t one of hte names on the side of the Jeepney, you’re just going to have to ride this one as near is it goes and then get off and find another that will get you there, or at least, will get you closer.

For a very long time I had no idea what any of those names on the side of the jeepney meant, besides Marfori where we live and work, and Matina which is just past where we go to church. I know a few more now, but it’s pretty complicated. There are 182 Barangays of Davao City. I have friends who take two different jeepneys and a trike before they get to my neighborhood. I don’t think I could find my way to theirs by myself.

Jeepney drivers are always men. So are the taxi and trike and bike drivers.

The drivers of all the public conveyances wear an arm sleeve or drape a towel over their left arms to block the sun. Nobody wants to get darker here, and they think it very strange that most Americans do. But also, even if they didn’t care about getting darker, not even in America to people want to be uneven, and a jeepney driver with unprotected left side would have his left side be not only burnt black after just a few days, but also dried up and leathery because the tropical sun is really nothing to joke about. There’s a reason the Brits wore pith helpmets and in the mdi-day here people drape towels, scarves, and their own t-shirts over their heads, or carry umbrellas (my choice) for portable shade.

Jeepney drivers, and this is one of my favourite things, carry paper money for change between their fingers, folded up like fans and fanned out between each of their fingers. I’ve got to get a picture of this sometime- it’s practical and no nonsense and handy (ha ha I made a pun) and also takes some skill.

Ooh- I found one!

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“Peace Through Violence”


Thugs and fascists protesting free speech.

Have you been listening to a single voice, imagining that one person of colour speaks for all persons of colour (but only so long as they hold the right viewpoint?)

Diversity is more than skin deep. https://twitter.com/mrdurtal/status/899153740694904832

This is who and what the left stands for, defends, and perpetuates.

A Missouri senator expressed hope for the assassination of America’s president. She hasn’t been made to step down.

Trump supporter wearing Israeli flag told to ‘get the f–k out’ of Boston by hecklers.

Notice to the easily confused, one track minded, or politically brainwashed- being opposed to the thuggish fascism of the above does not remotely = being in favor of white supremacism or other forms of bigotry.

Juliette Ochieng, who formerly blogged as Baldilocks: In addition, we deem the New Slavers — the modern-day Democrat Party and the Organized Left — to be our friends even though their ideological forebears were always the perpetrators of overt black American slavery and oppression. This sort of tribal pride blocks the ability to see what’s right in front of one’s face and the ability to accurately map out the future. It blocks reality.

This has been a decades-long process, concurrent with the Left’s agenda to hollow out the institutions of this country.
Through this mindset, black Americans have become the Organized Left’s shock troops in latter’s war against America and all too many of us have become the Left’s overseers, tasked to force the “deserters” back into formation using the tools of ridicule and shame.
I almost said that the Left was at war with black people, but the Left doesn’t esteem blacks enough to deem us as their enemies. We are merely tools to be used for the task at hand — to foment violent racial discord which will have to be put down using infinitely stronger government violence — and to be discarded when the task is completed, assuming that there will be any of us left after the New Civil War.

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Language Travails

On the one hand, we’ve now been here seven months and I feel like I should be a lot closer to fluent than I am, and what I am is not even managing some kind of understandable pidgeon version of the language most of the time. I’ll struggle and struggle to get out the words that will make my point understood, even in broken Visaya, and then five minutes after I no longer need them, they all come flooding back.

On the other hand, I have several episodes in church where I am listening very intently, pen in hand, writing notes of words I recognize and it will suddenly dawn on me that I just understand an entire sentence, which is very exciting.

Only, in the aftermath of my quiet and personal excitement I realize I have stopped listening and it’s two paragraphs later and the preacher is mentioning a Bible reference, but I missed the book and only know I’m supposed to turn to chapter 1 and verse 4 of one of the 66 books of the Bible.

Even when I know the Visaya word and I get it right, sometimes I cannot make myself understood. I negotiated a ride with a Trike driver recently. I said several of the right words- Eskwelahan, Sunod nga kanto, diha lang, duol, wala sa kanto… dili turquoise nga dalan (school, next corner, just there, near, left at corner, not Turquoise street) and the driver and his friend cheerfully let me in and then tried to turn the wrong way and were surprised when I insisted I really did mean him to turn a different direction- and when we arrived five minutes later at my destination light dawned on him and he pretty much repeated every single thing I had said, while laughing and nodding in an “Oh, I get it now!” fashion. I know it’s my accent. My language teacher kindly tells me it’s not only that, because for most of what I want to say she says my accent isn’t bad at all, but, she says, it’s that so few Amerikanas speak Visaya that they don’t really believe that I am trying to do that. Yeah, I’m laughing, because she is trying to be so kind, but I feel like if I were really good at this, they would realize what I am saying.

Trike: (it’s a motorcycle with a little side seat and two back seats built all around it, and it’s pretty cheap transportation and hand for getting the Cherub and I to the school every day).

A lot of times I feel like I am treading water and not getting anywhere, but then I look at what I know now that I didn’t klnow in December, I feel a bit better. I can do this because I kept a notebook in December of all the new words I was trying to learn, and I came across it recently and I actually know all of those words quite easily. It’s a whole slew of new ones that I’m struggling with (pronouns are killing me).

I was frustrated with myself and my slow progress earlier this week and I was feeling glum and wondering if I should keep spending money and time to learn this dialect that I will probably never hear again when I go back to the states, and then I decided as long as we can afford it, we’ll keep doing this because:
I can understand more of the Bible lessons at church now than I could before.
Again and again I have found that when I do try, even when I cannot be understood, it is an ice breaker. People relax and will try to talk to me more, and will offer their own pointers on pronunciation or word order.
Quite a few times I wll find that it’s a great social lubricant with somebody I did not think new any English at all because they have never tried it with me. I offer up my pride and botched pronunciations of Visaya, and they laugh and laugh- but then they feel a bit more comfortable trying out their English with me. After all, I guess, if I don’t mind taking the risk of humiliating by telling ‘just believe’ when I mean ‘just turn right’ (a difference of a faintly stressed accent on the first or second syllable), they don’t mind risking similar mistakes in English. Or else my attempts are just that bad that they realize their English will be far less painful for both of us.
And that works, too.

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