People create books and books create people


Photo by mel-onni

Playlist and bonus material

Clematis whirly-wing seedheads
Clematis whirly wing seedheads – photo by JS

What: Host My Own Radio Show

When – date: Sunday July 30th
When – time: 4:30 to 5:00 EST (UTC – 5:00)
Where: FM 91.1 in the Toronto area or online anywhere in the world at
In choosing the five instrumentals to feature in my precious half-hour of airtime, I had three goals: put listeners in a happy mood; include tunes I discovered via Jazz FM yet heard only once or twice – rare gems; and introduce fusion pieces I love.
Special thanks to Dani Ewell and William Heaton for their help with the show!
Here’s my playlist, for your enjoyment:
  1. Out of the Cool, an Andrew A. Melzer composition played by Norm Amadio from his 2010 album, Norm Amadio and Friends
  2. Intimate Strangers, a Roger Chong composition played by The Roger Chong Quartet, from the 2013 album, Live at the Trane
  3. Glad, a Steve Winwood composition, played by Traffic, from their 1970 album, John Barleycorn Must Die
  4. Ryshnychok/Earthly Mother, a P.I. Maiboroda composition interpreted by CANO – Cooperative des Artistes du Nouvel Ontario / Cooperative of Artists from Northern Ontario, on their 1978 album, Eclipse
  5. The Aged Paulownia Hides Its Melody (Freestyle Ver.) (동천련로 항장곡 [산조 Ver.]) from The Painter of the Wind Soundtrack, 2008.
Bonus material
Track 1
Norm Amadio is a native of Timmins, Ontario, and Andrew A. Melzer is also the composer of Canada (we love you) / Canada (notre pays), chosen as theme song for Canada’s centenary in 1967.
Musicians on Out of the Cool:
Norman Amadio (piano)
Reg Schwager (acoustic guitar, electric guitar)
Phil Dwyer (saxophone) – not sure
Guido Basso (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Mat Pataki (percussion)
And possibly also bassist Rosemary Galloway and drummer Terry Clarke
Track 2
Roger Chong is a Hong Kong native who was raised in Toronto and trained musically at York University. Apart from playing the guitar like it’s an extension of his fingers, Roger is also a well-loved jazz educator.
The Roger Chong Quartet is made up of:
Roger Chong (guitar)
Denis Kugappi (piano)
Ken McDonald (bass)
Steve Farrugia (drums)
Watch the Roger Chong Quartet perform Intimate Strangers at the 2015 New Market Jazz Festival. BTW, love the man-bun, Roger!
Track 3
If you attended École secondaire Saint-Joseph de Hull in the mid-seventies you will surely recognize Glad from a dance routine choreographed by our gym teacher, Mademoiselle Turgeon. The upbeat piece gets deconstructed and built up again before veering into a slowed-down, dream-like outro. Cool, man! Oh, and listen for the oh-so-sixties cowbell!
Traffic is made up of:
Steve Winwood – Hammond organ, piano, bass, percussion;
Chris Wood – saxophone, flute, percussion;
Jim Capaldi – drums, percussion
Track 4
Ryshnychok / Earthly Mother is originally based on a Ukrainian poem by Andriy Malyshko in which a lyrical hero remembers his mother giving him a towel-cloth that signifies his life path.
The poem was later set to music by Platon Ilarionovych Maiboroda, Song about the towel-cloth (UkrainianПісняпро рушник; Pisnya pro rushnyk) also known as Ridna maty moya (My dear mother/Dearest mother of mine), which first appeared on the soundtrack of the 1958 Soviet film Young Years and was later popularized by Dmytro Hnatyuk.
Here is an English version on YouTube. See if you can hear the melody lines that inspired Wasyl Kohut and his band members in CANO for their prog rock interpretation! On the Eclipse liner notes, Ryshnychok is described as “a famous Ukrainian melody of immigration, loneliness and love.”
On Eclipse, CANO is made up of:
Rachel Paiement – acoustic guitar
David Burt – acoustic guitar, electric guitar
John Doerr – electric bass, trombone, programming
Wasyl Kohut – electric violin, mandolin and, for this track, a violin courtesy of Remedy Music in Toronto.
Michael Kendel – grand piano, electric piano, synthesizer, vocals
Marcel Aymar – vocals, acoustic guitar
Michel Dasti – drums, percussion
Eclipse is dedicated to founding member André (Dédé) Paiement, Rachel’s brother, who contributed music and lyrics to the project but was diagnosed with brain cancer before the band went into the recording studio (Eastern Sound Studio, Toronto). André opted to take his own life. The liner notes end with a hand-written dedication: “Dédé, cet album est pour toé, This album is for you.”
Track 5
This piece is played on a traditional Korean instrument, the gayageum, a zither with 12 or more strings.
Moon Chae-rim as Jung-hyang playing the gayageum
The gayageum soundboard is made of Paulonia, hence the title of the piece, The Aged Paulownia Hides Its Melody. Paulonia is an ornamental tree with foxglove-like panicles of flowers, and is considered the fastest growing hardwood. Its wood is light, fine-grained and warp-resistant.
This version, called “freestyle,” is from the soundtrack of a 2008 South Korean historical television series, The Painter of the Wind. In the 20-episode series, one of the thematic musical pieces is picked up by the strong-willed female entertainer portrayed on the left, a gisaeng, and spun into a decidedly jazzy interpretation.
The series is based on a bestselling novel by LEE Jung-myung that fictionalizes the rise to fame of mid-eighteenth century painter, SHIN Yun-bok, as s/he (in the fiction, the talented girl must pass as a boy) is mentored by another great painter of the age, Kim Hong-do.  This low-resolution YouTube video, set to the same music as my Track 5, introduces paintings from both masters along with screen caps from the series.
Most of the information in this post was pieced together from various wiki sites. Thanks, wiki contributors, from one of your supporters!

Tea Philosophy

Tea time 2016

Here is a slightly edited excerpt from Journey in Search of Korea’s Beauty, by BAE Yong Joon, containing an uplifting view on drinking tea. I have rendered the last sentence as a poem, although it appears as prose in the book:

The Venerable Choui, the Korean “sage of tea,” wrote in Ode to the Tea of the East that drinking tea alone was godly, as it was in the realm of the divine and the profound. Two people drinking tea was victorious, as it was refined and tranquil. Three or four people were “pursuing,” as it was in the realm of mirth and enjoyment. Five or six people were “wide,” and more than that were “giving,” as it signified the sharing of food.

I prefer to drink tea with at least one other person, a like-minded companion if possible. When I do drink alone, I do not go to great effort but if I have at least one person with me, I am motivated to put more care into conveying the flavor and aroma of the tea. I think that:

One person drinking tea can achieve meditation;

Two people, communication;

Three, shared sympathy;

And four, harmony.

        — BAE Yong Joon

More on tea, this time from me, in the months to come.

Which Palace? Or down the rabbit hole of research. Again.

Gate at the rear of Changdeokgung Palace

Which palace was used by the kings of Joseon[1] Korea in the mid-seventeenth century?

While researching this bit of information for novel 2 I came across the following pieces of possibly useful details:

King Injo (ruled 1623-1649):

King Injo as portrayed by Kim Jae-won in television series Splendid Politics
  • Grandson of King Seonjo, son of Grandprince Jeongwon, therefore not the son of the Crown Prince and not in direct line for the throne.
  • Came to kingship after a coup engineered by the ultra-conservative Western faction that resulted in dethroning King Gwanghaegun (reigned 1608-1623).
  • Injo had little authority during his reign, indebted as he was to the Western faction.
  • Reign marked by two Manchu invasions. The second invasion ended with Injo ceremoniously bowing to the Qing Dynasty[2] king and agreeing to send his first and second sons to China as hostages. They stayed there from 1636 to 1644, eventually bringing back to Korea a larger world view that included Catholicism and Western science.
  • Rejected his eldest son’s – Crown Prince Sohyeon – pleas for reform. Sohyeon died under mysterious circumstances in the king’s room, prompting many to conjecture that the king had killed him.
  • Injo appointed his second son, Bongrim, as Crown Prince rather than Sohyeon’s eldest son, Gyeongseon, a choice that had repercussions, including a heated debate on the length of time Bongrim’s (King Hyojon by then) mother should wear mourning attire after he died (more, indeed much more on this in Culture and the State in Late Choson Korea).


Crown Prince Sohyeon:

  • Converted to Catholicism while in Qing China.
  • His three sons were exiled to Jeju Island. Only one (not the eldest, Gyeongseon) returned to the mainland alive.
  • His wife, Crown Princess Minhoe, was executed for treason.

Mourning periods could be lengthy affairs in Joseon Korea and stretch to as much as three years during which mourners wore mourning attire:

  • untrimmed – coarse thick hemp (sometimes called burlap)
  • trimmed – coarse, loosely woven (thin) hemp
Funeral attire
From present-day traditional funeral

Photo found at

Seoul’s earlier names

  • Wirye-seong during the Baekje era (18 BC – 660 AD)
  • Hanju during the Shilla era (57 BC – 935 AD)[3]
  • Namgyeong during the Goryeo era (918 – 1392)
  • Hanseong during both the Baekje era and Joseon era
  • Hanyang during the Joseon era
  • Gyeongseong during the Japanese colonial era (1910 – 1945)

Palaces (finally!)


Gyeongbokgung Palace JYT 2015
Photo credit JYT 2010
  • Built in 1395 as the main palace of the Joseon kings, serving as their homes, the homes of their household and of the government.
  • Accessed through the Gwanghwamun Gate
  • Destroyed by fire (Japanese invasion) and left .abandoned between 1592 and 1867.
  • Rebuilt starting in 1867.
  • Demolished during the Japanese colonial era in the first half of the 20th century.
  • Restoration work has been ongoing since 1990.



  • Secondary palace established in 1395 to the east of Gyeongbokgung.
  • Destroyed by fire (Japanese invasion of 1592).
  • Reconstructed starting in 1609.
  • Burnt back down in 1623 during the coup that put King Injo on the throne.
  • Remained the site of the royal court and seat of government until 1868 (so I will assume that it was reconstructed soon after 1623)
  • Korea’s last emperor lived there until his death in 1926.


Huwon, the Rear Garden of Changdeokgung

P1050097 LR.jpg

  • 78 acres of landscaped lawns, ponds, streams and woods.
  • Also known as Biwon, or Secret Garden.


[1] The Joseon kings ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910.

[2] Qing Dynasty and Manchu can be used interchangeably from 1636 onward.

[3] The Shilla, Baekje and Gogoryo eras overlap and are known as The Three Kingdom era.


The Korean Hanbok

Two young women wearing hanbok Changdeokgun Oct 2015
Hanbok-clad women, Chandeokgun Palace, October 2015

Research or Procrastination?

Novel 2 is starting to take shape. I have narrowed down the location, Korea again, and the era, the Joseon dynasty[1], most specifically the first half of the 17th century.

I have even written 5 pages of the first draft, the one where I’m supposed to discover the actual story. No idea where it’s going.

My main character will be a woman, this much I know, and she will of course wear the hanbok. So, I’m researching hanbok styles and this has led me to think about other traditional dresses of Asia that are still worn today on special occasions: lush saris, colourful kimonos and classy cheongsams (qipao).

Period dramas, whether on the big or small screen, bring these fabulous dresses into our lives. Think of Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love and the slow, simmering and sensual— moody—relationship that develops between Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung’s characters in 1960s Hong Kong. Maggie wears no less than 21 cheongsams,beautifully chronicled by Foam of days blogger, Julia, in 2013. My favourite is the black (at times it looks like dark navy in the film) and white floral cheongsam Julia calls dress # 15.

Maggie Cheung In the Mood for Love Cheongsam #15
Maggie Cheung, In the Mood for Love

Cheongsams, it must be acknowledged, dates back only to the 1920s whereas the other dress styles have a much longer history.

The various pieces of the hanbok for women are described in this card:


A short video shows how to don the wrap-around skirt, the chima, and tie the ribbon of the jeogori and can be found here.

I wasn’t able to uncover much concerning undergarments (!) but I have seen simple white bloomers worn under, and at times in lieu of, petticoat.

Woman with a Red Hat Shin Yun bok 2
Woman in a Red Hat by Shin Yun-bok

This painting also shows how the skirt can be kilted up mid-body so it doesn’t trail in the dust. More on the painter of Woman in a Red Hat below.

On first seeing a woman wearing a hanbok, many people’s’ first impression is that the dress makes the female figure look shapeless, bloated and unflattering. Some hanbok variations  have chimas with wide bands tied around the breasts rather than on top. Supremely classy actress Lee Young-ae wears one such hanbok in this picture:

Lee Young-ae in hanbok
Lee Young-ae

In addition to painting Woman in a Red Hat, eighteenth century painter Shin Yun-bok, also known as Hyewon, gave the world the iconic Portrait of a Beauty.

Portrait of a Beauty Kansong Art Museum
Portrait of a Beauty by Shin Yun-bok

Here again the chima is tied around the breasts rather than above. How mysterious our Beauty looks as she ties her otgoreum! Arguably Korea’s equivalent to The Mona Lisa.

There is yet another, saucier way to tie a chima: below the breasts. Many a painter of bawdy books circulating in Joseon era Korea served up that particular version to the men who bought their one-of-a-kind offerings!

One of the fundamental differences between hanbok and sari on the one hand, and kimono and cheongsam on the other, is the extent to which they restrict the wearer’s movements. A woman wearing a kimono takes small steps and, in the context of traditional Japanese architecture, with low tables and no chair, sits with her knees folded under her.

Cheongsams are definitely not designed for sitting on the floor but they nevertheless impose restrictions to movement whether sitting on a chair or a sofa (or a bed!) – legs close together or crossed – and when walking – measured steps, never racing.

Maggie Cheung In the Mood for Love Cheongsam #14 showing full length
Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung, In the Mood for Love

A woman wearing a hanbok is freer to walk at a brisk pace. When she sits on the floor or on the ground, it is in the more relaxed cross-legged position.

Sitting in a hanbok

A variation on the cross-legged position is the cross squat as in this photo:

fusion hanbok cross squat sit photo(20)

It is often a position of power, such as when the female head of a household discusses family matters with her husband.

I confess not knowing much about the sari but a quick search shows that women can ride astride a horse in a sari. The same goes for the hanbok. Here again, the painting is by Shin Yun-bok and the women are riding on mules rather than horses, I believe.

Shin Yun Bok Painting Women on Mules
By Shin Yun-bok

South Korean President Park Geun-hye wears her country’s traditional hanbok for all formal occasions.

Park Geun-hye Hanbok Diplomacy
Park Geun-hye and “Hanbok Diplomacy”

Elements of the hanbok have inspired fashion in Korea and abroad recently, such as in this 2011 example from designer Carolina Herrera:

Hanbok-inspired Fashion Carolina Herrera 2011
Dress by Carolina Herrera

A particularly stunning hanbok-inspired dress was worn by Jeon Ji-hyun’s character, Cheon Song-yi, in a pivotal red-carpet scene in the final episode of television series My Love from Another Star.

Cheon Song-yi (Jeon Ji-hyun) in hanbok-inspired gown front view
Front view – Jeon Ji-hyun (Gianna Jun)
Cheon Song-yi (Jeon Ji-hyun) in hanbok-inspired gown
Back view – Jeon Ji-hyun (Gianna Jun)

Classic, yet so simple.

Ooops! No time left to work on the actual novel today.

Research … sigh.

[1] The Joseon dynasty kings ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910