exactly that

Posts tagged ‘accessibility’

The 60th Anniversary of The Korean War, Hillary Clinton Visits the Korean War Museum, and Some Musings on Classism and Disabilty…

A statue of South Korean soldiers poised as if fighting curved in the frame from front left back to right, ending in a line of what looks to be Korean civilins suffering from the strife of war.It’s the 60th Anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. The Forgotten War, as some will call it, but if you ask my Papa, and many of the other veterans, and many of the people living here in Korea today who are over 60, the will tell you that this war is not forgotten. It is a war that still simmers at the DMZ, where soldiers from both sides stand at the ready to fire upon anyone and anything they see moving, no matter what pretty message you may hear. For the younger generation of Koreans who live here, they seem to believe that there is a hope that there will be reunification with their fellow Koreans above the demilitarized zone. They believe the 38th Parallel to be a political boundary, and not a national one (true story, The Guy actually got into quite a heated discussion with one of his teachers over this, and eventually let the subject drop).

Secretary of State Clinton and Defense Secretary Bob Gates hopped over here for official talks with the South Korean Defense Minister, Kim Tae-Young, who used to be my neighbor, as a weird little “my world is so small” factoid. As a matter of honor, they did a ceremony at the National Korean War Museum here in Seoul. In a gesture I was delighted to read, the USAG Yongsan put up on its Facebook page that all family members were “cordially invited” to attend the ceremony.

Exterior of the Korean War Museum, showing a pond with small fountains, a manicured lawn, and many flags of the various nations that came to the aid of South Korea during the Korean war next to the flag of South Korea in a wide semi-circle starting from the front left and arching around to the back right.What a wonderful experience, thought I. The commemoration of joint forces by a laying of a wreath and a thoughtful gesture by these world leaders would be a beautiful thing to see. Kid and I decided to join a friend (who had called to let us know to check the aforementioned Facebook page for that information) and check out the whole thing. I thought it would be a wonderful gift for my Korean Veteran Grandfather, to send him some photos of this ceremony, of these people remembering his service and the service of countless others from so many nations, and from right here on this very soil who protected this country from being shoved off of the Peninsula.

But the information we were given was not very complete. People were turned away for improper attire. Sundresses and open-toed shoes, as it turns out, were not appropriate for attending this ceremony. Our bare shoulders were not appropriate and not to be in direct line-of-sight of Clinton and Gates and Kim as it turns out (even that was not uniformly enforced, as I saw a woman in a sleeveless t-shirt and flip-flops with three kids and a stroller leaving the ceremony later — a regular t-shirt, not a sleeveless shell). It seems that we just addressed the bare-arms issue when people asked if it was appropriate for Michelle Obama to attend official functions in sleeveless attire. (The answer? She said she would wear whatever she damn-well pleased to see her husband speak, and I agree!) As my mom reminded me today in a phone call, Jacqueline Kennedy wore a sleeveless dress to her husband’s inaugural address (bottom right of linked photo, Jackie is in a black sleeveless dress, and none of the other women are dressed so)… so it isn’t without precedent, which is what I wanted to tell the dude who told me that it is “common sense” to wear certain kinds of clothes to these kinds of things.

Which I thought was kind of an odd thing to say to someone … because I have a bit of trouble with my body self-regulating temperature at times. It was 95 degrees and ridiculously humid out Wednesday, and in Seoul, it is a good chance that I am going to be walking a good distance when going somewhere. We had on nice sundresses what covered our bodies in the socially acceptable way, but allowed us to sweat and breathe. In fact, I have worn the particular dress that I had on with black tights and dress shoes in the Winter with a sweater. It is a really versatile dress. I also wore the only shoes that I can walk in that don’t leave cuts and blisters on my feet right now when I have to walk long distances in this heat, which causes them to swell considerably for reasons I don’t wish to go into right here right now. I am really apologetic that they are Rainbow flip-flops, but they are well-made, leather, and fit and support my feet like I was born in them. The dress also has pockets, allowing me to carry a small wallet and my cell phone, and to hook my cane onto, freeing my hands for using my camera. It seems that I dressed according to my good sense for where I was going and what we were doing.

But people don’t really consider disabilities when they say flip things like that, and they almost always consider things like “common sense” in the scope of their own experiences.

An extremely cropped photograph of the National War Museum of Korea's front steps and main doors, with various Republic of Korea military standing at attention, and in the center, the very tiny figures of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, and Defense Minister Kim Tae-Young are walking down the stairs.So, as it stands, for the third time since I have lived in Seoul, Hillary Clinton has evaded me, and similar to my President Obama sighting, I managed to get a laughable picture to prove I was there.

Apart from everything else, I find dress codes for occasions like this quite classist.

Common people should not be denied the opportunity to partake in the events that their world leaders open up to the public simply because they don’t own proper shoes or more than one pair of pants. If someone shows up in blue jeans they should not be turned away. I doubt very much that Hillary Clinton agrees that proper clothes should separate her from people, and I have been advised by many people since Wednesday that writing to her would be a positive suggestion.

I live in a place where people wear blue jeans to work on a military base, and “peeky toed” high-heeled shoes are considered appropriate shoes, because they are the trend (and I noticed that they were allowable footwear, while flat-heeled sandals were not). It seems that the line is blurred, and left completely up to the discretion of whomever is standing at the door to decide who can and can not enter. Many people, especially people with children, or lower enlisted couples trying to balance budgets, don’t have the money to keep many sets of clothes just in case someone important visits. I keep my clothing utilitarian. I like it to be versatile and able to be worn through many seasons adding or taking away layers accordingly. I also like them machine washable and dryable. I just bought my first ball gown this year, which we saved up for with my writing stipend, and will attend my first Navy Ball this year (I was never able to attend them in years past because child care was so inadequate, so I missed the chance to be a sailor at a Navy Ball — something I will never get back /digressing). This was only available because we found a wonderful Korean tailor in Osan who made if for me and offered us a good price for paying in Won, being polite, and because my partner spoke Korean to her. Dress codes for civilian attire ridiculous.

This isn’t even to say anything about the fact that the Army did a poor job of disseminating information. If they knew ahead of time that people needed to be dressed a certain way then they should have put more than “families are welcome” or whatever in their Facebook blurb. And don’t even get me started on how awful it is to depend on Facebook to disseminate information. ACCESSIBILITY FAIL!

The important thing, however, is that we did visit and enjoy the museum, as did Secretaries Clinton and Gates, which I think are important and touching gestures. To acknowledge all that was lost in order to gain what was held on to. Later, when we stood in the halls with all of the names engraved of the people who gave their lives to hold onto the bottom of the Peninsula, I held my breath for a moment, and I wondered in my mind if my Grandfather’s feet may have passed under mine or my daughter’s. I paused, and thought of the troops we have elsewhere, and thought of them, and of the ones who will be names on walls. I thought of the Korean War Veterans of all the nations who fought here, who know that their legacy is to be of The Forgotten War. At least for a few minutes I became overwhelmed with it all.

Part of coming to Korea, while separating us from our family, has put a connection between me and some of my family; this ghost of a war still smoldering on the edge of two nations pulls me into a place where I feel this ache of loss for them. This connection. And yet, I know I can never really know.A pale Native American girl with short-cropped hair in a long purple and black maxi-style dress with a messenger bag slung over her shoulder and an umbrella in her hand pauses to look at the wall of names carved with names of those who gave their lives during the Korean war in a long hall of columns.

© All material Copyright Brandann R. Hill-Mann/Ouyang Dan 2010


Transcript and Video Description for Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice”

Here is a video description I did up for Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice with lyrics. I will probably send it to Anna’s transcriptions stuffs page soon, but since I just did some free work here, I need to get some actual work done now. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to link away to it or re-use it w/ attribution.

Video description for Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” (for the linked Dailymotion version):

Green screen w/ the following: Fatboy Slim: Weapon of Choice [Next line] Director: Spike Jones [Next Line] Album: Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars

Scene opens in a spacious lobby, what appears to be in a luxury hotel. The floors, walls, columns all appear to be marble. There are large planters with trees and large green plants in them, and a luggage cart is abandoned in the background. In a large, plush chair sits well-known U.S. actor, Christopher Walken, a presumably white male in a light brown suit and tie. He is slightly slouching and perhaps a bit bored. His overcoat and briefcase are next to him on the floor. It is silent.

Slowly the music to Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” rises into the audible range of Walken, and he perks up, and looks in what we are to presume is the direction from which the music is coming.

It appears that it is coming from a cart of the housekeeping personnel. Walken looks into the camera as if to share a moment of empathy, looks away, sighs, and then starts bobbing his head with the music as it swells slightly.

He slowly rises from the chair, stands straight and tall, takes two steps away from his chair, then busts into dance along with the music right there in the hotel lobby. I mean, Walken has some moves. The man twirls and spins around. The camera angle switches and he pulls some tap dancing inspired steps towards it, and jumps in front of a massive set of doors between brass columns and throws up some jazz hands to get them to open as if he is some kind of Jedi. He then dances backward through them, reaching over to hit the bell on the desk in time w/ the music. He dances back into the camera w/ a look on his face that I can only describe as a characteristic “Walken Stare” so I apologize for that, and the camera angle switches again.

Walken grabs a conveniently located abandoned luggage cart, jumps aboard, spins around, hops through and jumps off. He runs off as the camera switches again. He is now by the escalators! He hops aboard those too! While riding up the escalator he bops from side to side with the beat making great faces. About two thirds of the way up he starts to strut down in time w/ the music, then going faster in a faux-stumble. Camera switch!

Now he runs and jettes through an absurdly long hotel lobby, leaping quite agilely in ways that make me jealous, ending it w/ some very nice spinning, and a no-handed cartwheel, ending standing straight up and looking we the viewer right in the eye for a moment before moving on.

He does the nice jette thing again, only sideways, leaping up on a table to upset some papers and magazines that some housekeeping person is going to be upset about having to arrange again after this dude just danced through the freakin’ lobby! He stops and tap dances on the table a bit in a full view shot. We get a nice view of Walken’s face, w/ his tongue between his teeth, because it looks like he is having a good time just before he leaps off the table.

Now he is doing this thing that always creeps me out a little, w/ his hands in his pockets and leading his steps w/ them by jerking his pockets forward. Almost like a pelvic thrust in slow motion, leading into an almost “Thriller”-inspired zombie-bop. He busts a move and escapes the camera again!

He is now twirling through a carpeted room with mirrors on both sides, making it look like a fun-house full of Walkens! That would be fun! He dances his way across the room, narrowly missing a chaise and lamp, and as the camera catches him again he is in a long marble hallway dancing his way down. About halfway down he pauses, looks side to side, and reaches over to point at an elevator button in time w/ the music that magically lights up. Super Walken Powers! And he dances his way aboard the elevator.

The elevator opens and out he comes! Twirling away! He bounds over the railing! Oh noes! What is he doing?

But it is OK, because Walken can FLY!

He zooms around the room like Peter Pan, pointing one way and then another, gently bouncing off of one wall to zoom another way, and pausing to make his “Walken Face”.

Now he is floating over a wall-sized mural of sailboats on a blue sea, and he breathes deeply, raises his arms, and zooms forward, over a long table, does a loop-de-loop in the air, before landing, taking a deep breath, looking around, and walking back to his chair.

[Lyrics by Sing365] (more…)

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