21 August 2009


As of 11:30 AM Greenwich time, Justin and I are the proud new tenants of our very own one-bedroom flat! It has great daylight, at least as much as any place here will. The building is old, so it has nice architectural detail: window seat, fancy moldings around the windows and the chandelier base, built-in shelves, and wooden floors. It also has some nice new features, like double-glazed windows and gas radiators in every room, including the hallway. We have a bathtub, which I suspect will save my life in February, and the building has a back garden.

We will not have internet after this morning. We can come into the university library and use the computers here, but unfortunately we'll have to hold off on pictures until our own laptops are online. This could be a while. But I'll try not to forget to put up a virtual tour sometime.

Things going well today: signed for the flat, weather is beautiful (so far!), visited and liked the flat as much as we did when we first saw it, flat includes George Foreman grill left by previous tenant, lunch at the ridiculously tasty and inexpensive mosque cafeteria

Things not going so well today: Mysterious e-mail from shipper claiming inadequate customs forms (why is this stuff never simple?), bags still at B&B awaiting shlepping, strange green growth in bottom of new apartment freezer, which was supposed to be cleaned out but was not.

The more things change...

When my family first moved to the U.S. from Canada, we ended up living across the street from the Canadian consul general's house, and it took us a good month to realize that their was something weird about somebody flying the Canadian flag in Detroit: you get so used to whatever you've been surrounded by that you forget you're not there anymore. Such was the case this morning, when Justin and I boarded the bus and realized about two blocks in that the women next to us were speaking Korean.

Turns out they're here with the two Korean shows at the Fringe. The first is a children's story called, in English, "The Dandelion's Story," which is perhaps a more aethetic title than the original Korean, "Kangaji ddong," or "Dog poop." Yes, this is the story of an intrepid piece of dog poo, and I would love to be there when the theatre producer reads your resume and finds, under "Acting Experience," the words "Doggy Poo."

According to the brochure the women gave us, Doggy Poo suffers greatly:

[A] tree sparrow, a clod of earth, a hen, and everyone else said "You are
disgusting! dirty! useless! and didn't love the doggy poo. The doggy poo grieves
and asks, 'I am a dirty poo, can I ever be useful to anyone?'

But lo, there is hope! A dandelion comes to town, and we learn that the fertilizing powers of Doggy Poo will enable the dandelion to blossom! Talk about your feel-good stories!

Like all things Korean, of course, nothing is as meets the eye. First of all, a dandelion, in Korea, is thought to be lucky, not a weed - think four-leaf clover, not crabgrass. And "dog poo," or, more accurately, "dog sh*t," was an insulting slang term for the Korean low social classes, used to suggest that they were (again, according to the brochure), "both common and useless." So The Dandelion's Story is actually meant as a hopeful allegory, a story showing value and dignity in common things. The play's tagline is "Nothing God made is useless."

The other Korean play is an adult drama based on a letter from a widow to her dead husband excavated in a Korean construction project in Andong. Both this play, "A Love in Dream," and "The Dandelion's Story" are getting rave reviews across the Fringe. Korea has a strong history at the Fringe. The play "Jump!", at which we discovered that Justin was a martial arts master, came from the Fringe a few years back.

So once again we learn the same lesson we've seen over and over, which is that it really is a small world after all.

PS. We also learned that the Koren company, Modl Theatre, made sure to travel with enough Korean food to survive their run here - just like Justin's students, who took ramen and Spam to Shanghai. Koreans are absolutely famous for wanting Korean food when abroad. We tipped them off on the Asian grocery, which has both Korean ramen and soju, thereby doing our part for the arts abroad.

20 August 2009

Update: Flat Reserved; the Fringe

After a whirlwind 24 hours of apartment hunting and letting agent wrangling, Nana and I have a flat reserved on a quiet street near the university.

We move in on Friday, after which we plan on finally going to see some of this Fringe thing we keep hearing about. Some events we're considering:

-The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Survival of (R)evolutionary Theories in the Face of Scientific and Ecclesiastical Objections: Being a Musical Comedy about Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
-A Rap Guide to Evolution (yes, two Darwin musical acts!)
-The Importance of Being Earnestina
-Barber Shopera
-Tao-Samurai Magical Drumming
-The Canterbury Tales
-Broken Holmes

. . . and more!

Expect at least a post or two by the end of the weekend, at which point our 3G wireless runs out.

18 August 2009

Safely in Edinburgh

We arrived in Edinburgh around midday today after three thankfully uneventful flights. The bus ride from the airport was a little more eventful--we had to cram all our bags into what turned out to be a local bus, not an airport shuttle, then make a transfer in a brief rain shower--but by about 3pm we were settled in at Pringles Ingle in the Morningside neighborhood south of the city centre. (Yes. I'm going to type it "centre" now. I'm pretty sure our profs will expect it.)

Despite the jet lag, it's been a very pleasant evening--a long stroll around the Meadows park, some good pizza, and some last-minute finagling of our apartment viewing schedule.

And as you can tell, our rented 3G wireless modem is working like a charm! Expect a post about that (and about our rented mobile phone) sometime in the next few days.

In the meantime, wish us luck searching for our flat!