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Popgirl — #12

Writing my second recap in mere days, *Carrie Bradshaw voice* I couldn’t help but wonder… are monthly recaps the only type of writing I’m capable of?

I know I can write actual articles and essays, but I haven’t flexed that particular writing muscle in quite some time. Part of it is that I am too lazy to think of creative ideas, and the other part is that I’m too lazy to write them out once I do think of something. Maybe a self-imposed writing challenge is in my future? Who knows.

Whatever writing may come, for now, you’re stuck reading the latest issue of Popgirl. This one is 2+ months in the making, so buckle up.

Buttered

As sweet and satisfying as a boba drink.

Art Museums
Spending a few hours enjoying the work of extremely talented humans? Can’t imagine a better afternoon. I’ve visited three separate art museums in the last month alone, all of which were either free or less than $5 for entry. (Thank you, Asia). So, this is my PSA to check out an art exhibit sometime soon. It’s good for the soul.

The 2019 NBA Finals

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Once upon a time, I was really into watching Lilly Singh (you know, the only woman hosting a late-night talk show on network TV) and her daily vlogs. As part of that venture, I learned many things, from the right way to pronounce “Toronto” to why the color of your towels is important. Most of all, I learned about the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors are the scrappiest team in the NBA, from my vantage point. They represent not just Toronto, but the entire country of Canada. They have been a team for over 20 years but it wasn’t until this year that they finally advanced from the playoffs into the finals. The six games they played against the Golden State Warriors were all equally stressful and exciting. I’m not usually a big sportsball person – you may recall my Superbowl experience this year – but I’ll always love basketball. And it was immensely gratifying to watch a team with a lot of heart and skill win the NBA Finals. #WeTheNorth 🙂

Picnics
You know what’s not overrated? Eating food outside in a scenic setting. I almost can’t believe* I lived nearby the BeltLine for so long and never once thought to order a pizza and just hang out there. Since moving to Korea, I’ve picnicked by the Han River twice now. It has been such a treat to rediscover the simple pleasures a picnic can provide. *Okay, I can believe it. But my indoor kid tendencies really betrayed me in this instance.

What I watched
Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella (2015). Honestly, I am not sure why I didn’t see this movie sooner. Unlike other Disney remakes we’ve seen recently, Cinderella goes the road less traveled by its unimaginative counterparts. The writing is lovely, the costume department shines, and Lily James is a phenomenal Cinderella. The overall message of the movie is every bit as beautiful as the costumes: Have courage and be kind. Good Omens (Miniseries) – before jumping into this, I was a skeptic. After all, the miniseries is based on the hilarious and compelling novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. But they did it justice, y’all. As a lapsed Whovian, I delighted in David Tennant’s appearance on principle, but quickly found that he and Martin Sheen were ideal scene partners as Crowley and Aziraphale. I was so pleased to see my doubts were unfounded, the performance and writing in each episode is top-notch. Oh captain, my captain. Shortly before leaving the States, I traipsed to my local dollar theater to finally watch Captain Marvel (2019) and I can safely say I would like Carol Danvers (read: Brie Larsen) to murder me, thanks. On a real note, this movie completely delivers. I know it’s crazy, but I’d like to see more female-led superhero flicks. Stranger Things (S3) also happened. Look, I love Stranger Kids. It’s a fun show that can simultaneously gross and creep me out while also making me laugh. Was this my favorite season yet? Not quite. But the 80’s summer nostalgia, complete with a shopping mall, was a dream. Fleabag (Series) Hello. Like Taylor Swift and white women everywhere, I too, love Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She is a gift that keeps on giving. The second season of Fleabag is a wonderful example of just how *much* she gives. For in-flight entertainment, may I suggest the pitch-perfect King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)? Guy Ritchie banter just does the heart good. And finally, RuPaul’s Drag Race (S11). Not watching RPDR when it’s airing? To quote Scarlet Envy quoting Julia Roberts: “Big mistake. Huge.” One of the most enjoyable parts of this show is watching other people share their reactions and opinions online. That said, I genuinely liked most of these eleven-gendary queens and was thrilled with this season’s winner.

What I listened to
Orla Gartland’s Why Am I Like This? EP.

‘Worlds Apart’ by Joshua Radin. What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress because Colleen Ballinger is currently playing Dawn in the musical Waitress and listening to Sara belt out ‘When He Sees Me’ is my chosen coping mechanism for not being able to see her perform. This playlist, which is full of indie gems that make the perfect background music for any commute. Sing to Me Instead, a gorgeous album from Ben Platt – I especially love ‘Grow As We Go’.

What I read
My Prize Winning Hair, an enchanting personal essay by my dear friend, Simoa. The funny and heart-warming Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, for patriotic reasons. Rich People Problems, the final installment in Kevin Kwan’s deliciously dramatic CRA trilogy. An unexpectedly hilarious read, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. I never knew what the next page held and I loved every second. My summer crush is this flawless line from Hanif Abdurraqib: “I have a crush on too many sentences in too many books by too many people to name.” This Brain Pickings article, featuring excerpts from A Dream About Lightning Bugs, a memoir by the inimitable Ben Folds.

What I wrote
Three meager attempts to become a travel blogger: I answer questions about moving to South Korea, look in from the outside, and steal Vitamin C lyrics for a blog title.

Stale

I don’t *hate* it.

Four Weddings and a Funeral (2019)
Full disclosure: This limited series is still ongoing. As it stands currently, I’d rate the show a solid medium. It’s not bad, it’s just not great, either. I can’t decide if the improv from Guz Khan and overall great acting outweigh the mediocre writing for the series. On that note, who’s up for a Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) rewatch?

Burnt

Like an app for dedicated Jeremy Renner fans.

Not Recasting for the TV Adaptation of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye

Aw, coffee, no. When MCU announced they were adapting Hawkeye into a Disney+ show of the same title, I was thrilled. However, my delight over Fraction and Aja’s well-deserved recognition was soured when I realized Jeremy Renner would still be portraying Hawkeye. You only have to read one panel of Hawkeye to see that Renner’s characterization is nothing like the lovable idiot in the comics. Also, Max Riemelt is right there.

Pop of the Month

“For an artist, art is what happens when you let your bizarre, unbidden, unpredictable life steer you into creating things that you weren’t expecting to make.”

Amanda Palmer

I stumbled upon this Amanda Palmer quote (thanks again to the thoughtfully curated Brain Pickings newsletter, this one featuring Palmer on “making art when life unmakes you.”) The entire article is worth the read if you have the time. Palmer’s quote struck me because I read it as I was riding the train into Seoul one day, a fresh American transplant exploring a new city. My life is currently even more bizarre and unpredictable by choice, so I can only imagine the weird and wonderful things I’ll create in this time. What will you make?

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Popgirl — #9

February is over and according to some, we’ve entered the greatest month of the year. To celebrate, let’s reminisce about all the hashtag content I experienced in Febs:

Buttered

I’m tickled pink over this stuff.

The Americans (S5)

When I first started watching The Americans, I was still in college, and though I’ve since graduated, I have yet to complete my education in Russian espionage. Despite my lackadaisical viewership, I genuinely love The Americans – and I cherish Erik Adams’ A.V. Club reviews of the drama just as much. I can’t decide if the penultimate season is my favorite, but it is definitely a contender. Kerri Russell and Matthew Rhys are undeniably electric on-screen. I know the show is long over, but I want Russell to win every possible award for her portrayal of Elizabeth. I don’t think this is too much to ask.

John Wick (2014)

I don’t know why it took me five years to watch John Wick. After all, who doesn’t enjoy watching Keanu Reeves doing things? In this instance, he’s driving fast, having mumble-offs with Willem Dafoe, and killing bad dudes with athletic finesse and untempered aggression. I loved it.

Wok of Love

In the Wok of Love synopsis, viewers are urged to tune in and “learn about the passion and love that can be found in the hectic working environment of a kitchen.” It’s perfect. I realize that with every new drama I watch, I say ‘this is my favorite drama,’ but WoL is just so good! The comedy is on point and I fell in love with every character, especially the suspenders and sunglasses-wearing loan shark. Very on brand.

Music

After I finished WoL, I was made to watch this art and I think you should too, for scientific purposes. Because February is all about love, I indulged in a few listens of this Valentine’s inspired playlist. Sara Bareilles released not one but two music videos in anticipation for her upcoming album. ‘Fire’ features the beautiful sounds I’ve come to expect from the artist while also delivering something altogether different. I fell hard for Superfruit’s cover of this 80s classic:

On Being with Krista Tippett

I think we’re such Pavlovian creatures, and we thrive on constant positive reinforcement. We live in an era where the tangibles of that have become very readily available. You can see things like Facebook likes and retweets. And it is so tempting and so easy because they’re concrete. They’re concrete substitutes for things that are inherently nebulous. It’s so easy to hang your sanity and your sense of worth on them. I have certainly suffered from that earlier on when these metrics first became available. They’re right there, and I think it takes a real discipline just to not hang the stability of your soul on them.

Maria Popova

It’s no secret that I love podcasts, and I usually gravitate to the comedy genre. Early on in February, I came across Krista Tippett’s “On Being” podcast, and it quickly became a favorite of mine. Krista is a warm yet sharp interviewer and her guests often bring new and interesting ideas into focus. Here are a few episodes I enjoyed most:

Stuff I Read

A page-turning (er, scrolling) look at book covers that do it for the ‘gram. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, for those who revel in the essential mess that is life. I dipped my toes into fantastic realms with Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and an indulgent re-reread of A Series of Unfortunate Events. “A passing glance at this peculiar genealogy reveals how deeply these women’s faces and voices are integrated into technology, even as their names and thoughts and lives are so often ignored.” The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and a color story on Navy Blue that describes the former as Morrison’s meditation on beauty and pain. I cringed and laughed my way through the painfully realistic portrayal of teen female friendships in Not the Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi.

Listening to Popova’s “On Being” interview made me curious for more, so I’ve joined the Brain Pickings newsletter list. It’s quite dense for a newsletter, but every issue I’ve read has been worth the time-suck. Here’s a small glimpse at what she delivers each week: on art and technology, Popova writes, “Murdoch counts among the ‘multifarious enemies of art’ not only the deliberate assaults of political agendas and ideologies, but the half-conscious lacerations of our technology — that prosthetic extension of human intention, the unforeseen consequences and byproducts of which invariably eclipse its original intended uses.” 

PS. I’m halfway to my goal to read 52 books this year. You can follow along on Goodreads.

Stuff I Wrote
A writeup on my experience at the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit. At HUM, I talked about the best free tools for entrepreneurs and my Valentine’s Day marketing tips.

Stale

Like Pop Rocks without the pop.

John Wick: Chapter Two

It’s not that I didn’t like John Wick: Chapter Two. It’s just that I enjoyed John Wick much, much more. Though it was cool to see him fight off multiple offenders with a f’n pencil.

Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet by various authors

The TL;DR review: Dead family members is a *very big thing* for the authors of Meet Cute. I found this anthology just okay, although some stories were very sweet, Nicola Yoon’s “The Department of Dead Love” and Nina LaCour’s “Print Shop” were two standouts and the others sort of faded into each other.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (S2)

If you’re familiar with ASP & co.’s fast-talking, coffee drinking mother/daughter duo in Gilmore Girls, it should come as no surprise that I sought out her latest venture. I celebrated the success of Maisel‘s debut and cheered when it was met with all the awards. However, in season two, Midge’s stand-up and many parts of her personality became unfathomably tedious. I began to look forward to the respite of whatever hijinks Tony Shalhoub’s Abe or even the unlikable Joel was getting into. It was a treat to witness a broody Zachary Levi surrounded by the pastel perfection of the Catskills; but when the best part of a sophomore season is the introduction of a new character in an entirely new environment, something is not quite right.

Pop of the Month

Nike’s “Dream Crazier” ad.

I’m not saying a footwear corporation made me cry, but I’m also not not saying that.

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Popgirl — #8

Raise your hand if it felt like January simultaneously lasted sixty seconds and six hundred years. Anyway, glad that’s over.

Segue! 

Buttered

They hit just like Ariana’s whistle notes in ‘Imagine’.

The Fyre Fest Documentaries

My favorite January story is that Hulu and Netflix both planned to release docs on the same subject this month and in a sneak attack move, Hulu dropped “Fyre Fraud” days before “Netflix’s Fyre Festival: The Greatest Party That Never Happened”. Delicious pettiness aside, the Fyre Fest docs provide plenty of entertainment and eyebrow-raises. Personally, I am of the opinion that you should watch both. Each one explores a different side of the story in perfect contrast with the other. Do it. Right now.

RENT: Live

Sure, it ended up being more like “RENT: Only a Little Bit Live,” but I loved it anyway. The entire cast shined in both the pre-tape and live editions of the show. I sighed wistfully with every appearance of Jordan Fisher, sang along to every single Roger song, and watched Vanessa Hudgens opposite Kiersey Clemons with rapt attention. In the words of my friend Kathleen, “RENT: Live was good, you guys are just mean.”

Speechless

Since its unceremonious move to Friday nights (aka where shows go to die) I can only assume Speechless is circling the drain, which is a shame. I love the DiMeo family like they are my own. We’re three seasons in, the writer’s room keeps delivering one hilarious, heartwarming moment after the next. Plus, Minnie Driver’s perfectly styled curls continue to be an inspiration.

The Good Place (S3)

My official, TL;DR review? The Good Place is the good place.

In this season, we were witness to such greatness as Ted Danson flossing, Chidi and Eleanor falling in love (again), D’Arcy Carden delivering a pitch-perfect imitation of Manny Jacinto and all her other cast-mates, more horrible yet delightful puns, Kristen Bell saying the line “I’m a legit snack” (she is), and dozens of other astronomically great moments in TV history.  In summary:

While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping has everything: beautiful leading actors who see each other in their dreams, murder investigation plot holes, and Kim Won-hae, a fixture in practically every drama I’ve seen. I was completely blown away by a major reveal at the end of the season, a twist that secured the title of ‘favorite K-Drama of all time’ in my heart.

A Conversation Between Bill Simmons and Aaron Sorkin

In 2018, I rewatched every episode of The West Wing (well, except for the 9/11 one, sorry guys) so when my brother suggested I give a listen to Aaron Sorkin’s interview on The Bill Simmons Podcast, I didn’t think twice. Most of the sportsball discussion went over my head, but I did get a kick out of hearing Sorkin essentially out himself as a serial plagiarist. Skip about 55 minutes in to circumvent the sports talk.

Music

In January, I was wooed by sirens of YouTube. Aside from dodie’s latest EP and the colorful, haunting ‘Monster’ music video (directed by one PJ Liguori), I’ve also enjoyed Orla Gartland’s ‘Between My Teeth’, selections from moody pop queen Maisie Peters, and ‘Bad Ideas’, a recent Tessa Violet single.

Stuff I Read

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, a touching coming of age story that tackles issues of family, faith, and grief. I learned a new term for the thing I do at work every day in “The new rules of eating al desko”. With my historical fiction fix for the month, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah  though equal parts spy and romance novel, for me, the real theme was the complicated yet enduring nature of sisterhood. And a piece I suspect was written to re-affirm my break from social media.

PS. I’ve challenged myself to read 52 books this year. You can follow along on Goodreads.

Stuff I Wrote
A fun blog on sweater weather. While it’s not necessarily new content, I also reorganized my site so all my writing projects live in one place. Check it out.

Stale

A solid medium.

Friends From College (S2) 

Full disclosure: I actually enjoyed this season more than its debut. It was weirdly refreshing to pick up with these characters a whole year after the first season ended in flames, and I felt true kinship with Max trying to write. That said, overall, Friends from College lands somewhere in the middle for me. The Friends try too hard to be on the same trashbag level as, say, Jimmy and Gretchen of You’re the Worst, but they never feel quite genuine enough to be likable characters that you want to root for.

The Slack Rebrand

You can tell I’ve been in marketing for a few years because I now geek out over things like a software company rebrand. Speaking as a slack user and design dabbler, I’m not a huge fan of the rebranding, but I did thoroughly enjoy the article they penned on the logo change. Again, marketing nerd.

Burnt

Total duds.

Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour

In a perfect world, Netflix and TSwift would have partnered up during the 1989 era and we’d all be spared the gratuitous snake imagery and “look, I can dance!” choreography. Admittedly, I had lukewarm expectations when I pushed play on Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour. The concert missed the mark for me, but then again, so did the vast majority of the Reputation album – ‘Delicate’ and ‘Getaway Car’ notwithstanding. Taylor’s enthusastic backup dancers and rainbow sequined dress made entire thing watchable.

The Girls by Emma Cline

This book was a choice. I can’t believe WaPo praised it with “Debut novels like this are rare, indeed.” The 20 horrified minutes I spent reading Manson’s Wikipedia page years ago was far more suspenseful than anything occurring within these pages.

Pop of the Month

“When you find yourself jolting awake in the early hours of the California morning, just know that you have helped mold the world that people like me were born into decades later.” Stephen Aichele to Duane Sherman

Duane Sherman, World War II veteran, received over 50,000 birthday cards after his daughter asked Facebook friends to send a card. Sometimes the internet gets it juuuuust right.