Monday, June 28, 2010

Keepin' it real, and keeping count.

Days of teaching: 9
Days at school: 12
Days in Korea: 19

Days until Daejeon pension weekend: 4
Days until Fulbright Final Dinner: -2 (weird!)

I love Korea, and I'm sure I'll be superexcited to come back, but between ETAs starting to leave this week, lesson planning burnout, and constantly being sick this semester -- I'm ready for some time off in an English-speaking country. With TiVo, and my lovely friends and family, and the best cat in the world.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Drama drama drama about extending with my school next year.

Know what makes me feel better?

Counting from today: 13 days at school, 10 days teaching, and 26 days left in Korea.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June is Busting Out All Over

June in June. What a wonderful thing!

This weekend, we went to Daegu to visit the lovely and talented June Kim, Smith '08, former musical director of the Smiffenpoofs, and Daegu tour guide extraordinaire. She and her wonderful, generous parents treated us to a weekend in Daegu the likes of which I daresay few foreign visitors have experienced.

A major highlight of the weekend was getting to tag along with June and her friends as they watched South Korea kick Greece's well-shaped butt (I mean, didja watch that match? a few serious yummies on the Greek side) 2-0. The city exploded with pride and joy, and it was so, so cool to get in the middle of that. June led us out to the streets downtown, where there was an outdoor concert after the victory. Hundreds of people squished together in the square, laughing, jumping, dancing, and singing. Definitely not what you'd find in post-game New York.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lesson of the Day: yolking together of disparate elements - a bizarro combo of JJ's poetry lesson and world cup predictions (sort-of based on Libardoni's lesson)
Idiom/Video of the Day: "eenie meenie miney mo" / "Eenie Meenie" by Justin Beiber & Sean Kingston
Lunch: Samgyetang

This weekend, I'm headed to Daegu to see Miss June Kim. I don't have any actual classes tomorrow, but I still come in to work -- I can't wait for Thursday to be over so I can get down to see my Smiffenpoofs sista! I've been looking forward to that since I applied for this gig, over a year ago.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Cousin, the Opera Singer from Imperial Russia

I've just learned from my family that this man, Lev Sibiriakov (1869-1942) is my first cousin, thrice removed (that is, my great-grandfather's cousin).

He's fantastic.

Here's the description from the guy who uploaded the video:

"Born in 1869, Sibiriakov's involvement in music started early, and as a boy he sang in a synagogue choir. He travelled to Milan in his late teens to study with Lauro Rossi and, upon his return to Russia, began appearing in provincial opera houses throughout the country, including those of Baku, Kiev, Kharkov, and Tbilisi. In 1895 he was finally accepted by the Mariinsky Theater in his native St. Petersburg, and he remained a regular there until the Bolshevik Revolution caused his departure 22 years later. Sibiriakov was also one of few singers of Imperial Russia who performed abroad with some regularity, appearing in Italy, Boston (1910), Covent Garden (1911), and Berlin (1912). After 1917 he settled in Antwerp, where he continued his career and became a noted teacher. Sibiriakov also made a late debut in Monte Carlo at age 63, taking on the role of Baldassare in La Favorita (opposite Lauri-Volpi). His last stage performance, as Pimen, came in 1938.

And what of the voice? "Imposing" is a word that has been rather overused when it comes to describing singers, yet I can scarcely think of a better adjective to convey the instrument's grandeur. Unlike Chaliapin, Sibiriakov's voice was a yawning, wonderfully inky operatic basso profondo- rich and powerful, with spot-on intonation and flawlessly equalized registers. Indeed, upon hearing it, one gets the impression of having come upon a block of polished granite, burnished and massive. Sibiriakov's manner is straightforward but never vacuous; dignified but never dull. In contrast to Chaliapin's extroversion and histrionics, he comes across as much more even-tempered. And despite my admiration for Chaliapin's art, on a purely vocal basis I prefer Sibiriakov for regular listening, given my liking for profondo voices (sacrilege, I know ;). The recording here, "Pro Peccatis" from Rossini's Stabat Mater, was made in 1913 (a Gramophone record) and shows Sibiriakov in majestic voice, with a splendidly ringing top- no problems with the taxing tessitura here. Those who think that singers in the basso profondo category are a vocally inflexible lot would be well-advised to give Sibiriakov (as well as the great post-WWII bass Boris Shtokolov) a listen."

Here's another recording:

And last, but maybe my favorite, a little Tchaikovsky.
Youtube link

I like him a lot. Maybe I'll use some of my vacation time next year to go to Antwerp or Brussels and see if I can dig up anything on him!

16, 21

Counting today, I only have 21 school days --- and only 16 days of actual teaching -- left in the semester.

Pretty incredible.

Thinking about this makes me really glad I'm staying for another year. I'm also really, really glad to be going home for a few weeks this summer.
My students only get one week of vacation time, which almost makes me cry...

Friday, June 4, 2010

And in My Spare Time, I Bake for Orphans

Excerpt from a gchat I had yesterday --

J: Wow
you are making me feel like my job and life is of little social utility
You are a Fulbright scholar who bakes for orphans in her spare time

Well, okay, to be fair - I'm a Fulbright Fellow, not a Fulbright Scholar. It's an important distinction, as scholars do original research and publish actual books and articles, whereas my job involves things like teaching 15-year-old boys the fine distinctions between the early music of Destiny's Child and Beyonce's solo work, discussing why Tim Burton insists on putting Helena Bonham Carter where she doesn't belong, and pronouncing "Puck" correctly.

But point taken. My life is not only lots and lots of fun, but also doesn't look half bad on paper.

So here are a few pictures from yesterday, of the chocolate chip banana muffins I brought for the office staff and of playing soccer with kids from the orphanage

[Full disclosure -
time spent playing soccer: 5 minutes.
orphans whose faces I kicked a ball into: 1.
time spent repenting by letting 7-year-old Korean children climb on me: 80 minutes]

I mean, are they not the cutest tiny people you've ever seen in your life?

Bonus Link: today, my mom sent me a link to this site. She's an artist who makes babies out of marzipan. I can't quite figure out how I feel about where this falls on the adorable ---- disturbing spectrum...thoughts?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Banana Bread, continued

Today, I left work early so I could bake for orphans.

True story.

Banana Bread (recipe from JJ)

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
3 bananas
2 eggs
[1 tsp of vanilla]
[1 tsp cinnamon]
pinch of salt

1/3 stick butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tub of cream cheese

1. Cream butter and sugar. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients.
2. Mix dry ingredients, then slowly add to wet ingredients.
3. Pour half of the batter into a loaf pan.
4. Heat about 1/3 stick of butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar for about 4 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently. This should give you a thin caramel sauce. Mix it with a half of a tub of cream cheese, and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Put a layer of that on top of the banana bread batter (I suggest using a ziplock with a corner scissored off as a kind of pastry bag for this)
5. Pour the rest of the batter on top
6. Bake for 60 @ 175 C

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins:

Same as above, but minus cream cheese and + chocolate chips. I used 2 Home Plus 70g bags of mini chips.
Put in a muffin tin, bake for

Foods I Made in the Last 24 Hours

Foods I Made in the 24 Hours Due to the National Holiday Caused by Korean Local Elections: A List.

1.This cinnamon honey apple upside-down cake.
2. this banana bread with a ribbon of caramel cream cheese running through the center.

The end.