Friday, June 7, 2019

Kdrama Review: Her Private Life

Drama: Her Private Life
Genre: romantic comedy
Starring: Kim Jae Wook, Park Min Young, Jung Je Won
Rating:❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

A very fun premise about a career girl who is still, even in her VERY OLD 30s!!!, fangirling over the dreaded KPOP IDOL GROUPS! GASP!

So she is in love with a particular group (a fictional group played by the real life IN2IT that I, um, love. Yes.) and especially in love with a particular member of that group...also fictional (meaning not part of IN2IT) and played by the lovely rapper One (aka. Jung Je Won).

Turns out she is SO into this group and this idol that she is actually the masternim of one of his most popular fansites.. .and so she dresses up in black with her big camera and "stalks" him at all his events and appearances, taking amazing pictures and posting them to her site and then moderating the group chats and forums, etc.


By day she is an art curator at an art museum. And one day when she is out trying to buy some paintings, she runs into a dude named Ryan Gold and they fight over the same painting. He wants it because he is drawn to from his memories, she wants it because her idol has just posted that he loves this artist. :)

And then suddenly this Ryan Gold, from America (but yes Korean) ends up as the director of their museum. And they don't hit it off very well.

But THEN... he wants to do an exhibit highlighting these paintings he loves, and he learns that the idol has the biggest collection of them, so he is going to commission him to be part of the exhibition. And takes our fangirling girl with him. To the IDOL'S HOUSE! And she freaks out and there is a mishap and now everyone thinks wrong things and to cover it up she and Ryan Gold now have to pretend they are dating... to throw the spotlight off SiAn (the idol).

"Pretending" 

And THEN, they suddenly realize they are actually extremely attracted to each other......

And it's a fabulous love story from there and I loved it! It's just so much fun! And these characters are the best. Loved loved loved.

HOWEVER, I'm still a bit sad at how the fangirling is portrayed. And how the fans of the idol are portrayed. And yeah. The stereotyping is just really frustrating and annoying. The idea that one should hide it, that's somehow embarrassing to love and idol group. Yeah, all the same old same old.

But our lovely main dude character, played by the beautiful Kim Jae Wook ,  is very accepting of this part of her life. (Because spoiler, you know he figures it out....) And THAT is shown beautifully.

He's perfect for this part.

Anyway. It's a fun one!! Park Min Young gets ALL THE GOOD ONES! And she gets all the awesome kissing dramas! (This is one of the best kissing dramas I've seen so far, in case you wondered.) What is UP with that???


A fun trailer with an interview and bloppers:





The song:

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Reading Recap: May 2019

The fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas


The books I read this month!

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: A family saga covering Sunja's family as they move from Korea to Japan during the Japanese occupation, through WWII and into modern times.

Educated by Tara Westover: The author's memoir documenting her strange life growing up as the daughter of a father who wanted to live off the grid, including not having his kids go to school... and how she left and ended up getting a doctorate from Cambridge.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: A re-read of this one of my favorite books about a girl who is famous online for her web comic, but a misfit quiet girl in real life.

Mercy by Rebecca Lim: Mercy wakes up in Carmen's body and has to figure out how to survive once again and figure out what she needs to do to end this cycle. Maybe if she helps this family solve the mystery of their missing daughter?

Favorites: Educated and Pachinko both top the list. Re-reading Eliza was also enjoyable.

Book Challenge Progress:

Pachinko: National Book Award finalist
Educated: book with a strong female character
Mercy: book from the customer recommended shelf

June Goals:

  • do a buddy read with my son of Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson (except he already finished)
  • read the book club book
  • maybe start another book for the challenge

How's your reading going my friends?




Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Book Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Book: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Genre: YA SF
Rating: ★ ★

I picked this one up at the bookstore from the "customer recommended" shelf because, for the challenge this store is doing, one of the categories is to read something from this shelf.

Well. I must say. I was not impressed with this one! Dang it! :)

It's about a girl who wakes up and finds herself yet again in someone else's body. So, as she has had to do over and over, she quickly figures out her situation and adapts to survive whatever life she is living this time. We as the readers have no idea why this is happening to her, or what she is, just that she is an entity that is now in someone else's body.

So the girl she is now being has just arrived at a sort of exchange program for the high school choir she belongs to. And she is given to a host family that seems to be dealing with some sort of tragedy. And suddenly she takes it upon herself to help them solve this mystery. Mostly because she is attracted to the brother. Hmm.

It was just a weird story. And kinda of boring until the end, as some of these books go... a lot of set up and then the end gets good and then it's over and then you have to read the next book to see what happens next. And while I'm usually okay with set up, I just didn't feel it this time. Like while we are setting up the plot, let's also get us invested in characters too. Yeah? For me, it didn't happen.

From the book blurb and etc. we know that she is a fallen angel, but that is never really explained in this first book. There are other beings we meet that make us wonder, hmmm, what is going on, but nothing is really explained. Despite the set up feeling. It's just... all weird.

Luckily it was a short and easy to read book. It was a fun experiment to grab some random book off the shelf to read based on some stranger recommendation. But I wasn't hooked and will most likely not be reading anymore from the series.








Sunday, June 2, 2019

Concert Review: STRAY KIDS in LA May 17, 2019


Changbin, Hyunjin, Woojin, Lee Know, Seungmin
I.N, Han Jisung, Felix, Bang Chan

After the fiasco of the ATEEZ concert in March, I was very nervous about this concert. I knew it HAD to be better because we all had seats. No pit at all. But I was still nervous about if all I would see would be phones. And if the sound would be okay such that I might actually hear the songs just a little. Or would I only hear screams?

Anyway. We (I took Adia and Leila with me this time) traveled to LA (actually Pasadena which is not quite LA) on the Thursday before. We drove through nice awesome gusts of wind and one dust storm that was pretty scary there for a second. Rain threatened the whole way, but never really dumped on us, so that was good. We arrived to an overcast and chilly California, but was greeted by the hotel front desk dude who asked what we were there for. When I said, a concert, he said, "Oh, the Korean band?" I was like "yeah, but BTS was here LAST week!" He was like, yeah, and THAT was insane! :) I was happy to know that he knew there was yet another Korean band besides BTS gracing their lovely city. LOL.

On Friday we made our traditional concert pilgrimage to Choice Music in Koreatown (very much LA now) and spent a ton of money on albums. We had beverages at the nearby cafe and opened them and filmed ourselves a bit. A very nice old Korean dude watched us the entire time, fascinated. Finally stood up and asked us what we were doing. We explained it all and he loved it. He explained that his wife was a famous singer too in a big fancy choir and even went to Julliard. He told us he was 90 years old. He was adorable and cute and so happy to chit chat.

We then ate lunch at the food court. I was not brave and ordered simple rice and chicken. It was good. But huge and I barely made a dent.

Then we went back to our hotel and got ready for the concert. We arrived more than four hours early even though we had assigned seats! It's part of the experience to just go hang out with the crowd and be part of the excitement. So we did!

We stood in a short line to get our P2 (hi touch) wrist bands. Then a long line to buy merch. (Well, I didn't but the girls did.) Then another short line to get batteries for the lightsticks they bought. Then we just waited until security let us in. Which happened about an hour before the show.

Once inside and I saw where our seats were, I was devastated. They were close, but as far left to one side as you can go, which meant that we could really only see half the stage. Unless they stayed all the way to the front. And we truly could only see half of the screen (video presentations are a big part of kpop concerts... not just for jumbotron type viewing)

I was so bummed.

But the girls were still very excited and seemed not bothered, which made me feel better, and I just hoped for the best and that the boys would come to the very front of the stage.

Finally, it started, and can I just say, the beginning of these concerts are seriously the biggest adrenaline rush. I have no words. Best thing ever. And this one was no exception.

And when they came on stage... WE COULD SEE THEM!! YES!!

And we only had one or two awful phone people in the way! By awful, I don't mean people who film because... I film I have my phone out, I mean, you have to have that memory preserved. By awful, I mean people who hold their phone up at complete arms length for the ENTIRE time... and film EVERY SINGLE THING! Like, seriously. BE IN THE MOMENT!!! UGH!!!

But I could see around my problem person, for the most part, and managed to get a few clips myself (not at arms length!) and the tried to remember to be in the moment and watch with my own eyes.

And they were as amazing as expected. Dang, these boys are good. They truly blow me away with their talent despite how freaking young they are. I loved every minute of it and was sad when it had to end.

(At the end, the problem girl stood on her chair and then she totally blocked the view of all of us behind her... finally I got her attention and said in my best mom way... GET DOWN! She crouched a little then, but still stood on the chair. Seriously. I wanted to lecture her afterwards, but refrained.)



Here's my video of our experience if you are interested. I skipped their long comments at the end and put them here in their own video. Every single one of them talked to us in English whether they could or not. It was awesome. Two of the boys are actually from Australia, so they have that most awesome accent and of course can talk to us a ton.

(Reminds me of when NCT was in NY for an interview a month ago and the interviewer said to Johnny "Wow, your English is amazing!" and Johnny said back. "Well yeah,  I'm from Chicago." He was so annoyed!!!)

Afterwards, we waited in the theater with the huge crowd that had paid for a hi touch. At one point, Adia saw Woojin peeking his face out of the back stage door... and she said all calmly... omg that's Woojin.. then she yelled "OMG THAT'S WOOJIN!!!" The whole crowd then turned just as Woojin lead the whole line of them out the door and up the side of the theater. We stood and cheered and they smiled shyly and cutely as they tried to sneak through us all to the hi touch spot. LOL. One of our favorite moments.

Finally it was our turn. They threatened us with our lives if we tried to film it. But Adia still tried... putting her phone in her front pocket. So just as we got to the first boy, security stopped us and reached over and took her phone. She was mortified, since Lee Know, first boy in line, saw the whole thing. And then we had to quickly recover and go on with the high fiving! Sigh.

So it was one of those hi touches were there were about four security/staff people behind us the whole way, yelling and pushing us along, distracting us from our tiny little interaction moment. I HATE THAT SO BAD! Anyway... so the first half I was trying to be in the moment, but the second half I was so annoyed with staff that I can't even remember the boys. I'm so bugged.

But Jisung was as enthusiastic as expected and had a comeback comment for everyone. (to my simple "thank you" he said "YES!!" back to me. Lol. To Leila's "your awesome" he said back to her, "No, YOU'RE awesome!" Stuff like that... for everyone.) Bang Chan was good to look in our eyes and say thank you very deliberately. Felix was so beautiful I forgot to breathe. I.N was just so so cute. AH! And then... I can't remember Woojin or Changbin or Seungmin... and I sort of remember Hyunjin because he was at the end. Also very very beautiful. But... all I could think about by that time was how I wanted to turn around and tell all the staff to shut up. Sigh. DANG IT! I need to learn to just tune them out and ignore them!!

I shook my head at the staff directing us out and said "that's just not right" or some such stupid thing. She's all... I know. I think she thought I meant how fast it is, but whatever. That's annoying too, but it's the fact that the yelling staff makes you forget to actually enjoy the moment.

They all have such soft, delicate hands. I just have to say. And they didn't really high five us, after HUNDREDS of people, i think they get so tired holding their hand up. So it turns into a bit of a high hand shake.. .or quick hand grasp. It's all quite awkward actually. LOL.  Next time I might rethink my strategy and not do a grasp OR a high five, but simply just place my whole palm to theirs and just hold it there for a moment.... not hold on, and not hit like a high five, but just put my whole hand on theirs.... things to ponder.....

In the end, the hi touch thing is a bit of a let down, but also so much fun. I have mixed emotions about it! I decided you have to have a certain personality to make them succeed, and I don't have it. It scares me WAY too bad. And for most of the boys (I'd say half of a usual group) they feel so awkward too... so it's all just weird. Some boys love it though. So...it's fun to see which ones are which when it comes down to it.

We got a Lyft ride back to the hotel and then as is usual after concerts, talked and watched our videos and pictures for another hour or so before we could settle down to sleep. Seriously. The high and energy from concerts (that are fun and not fiascos) are amazing and why I continue to pay the money to make them happen. It will never get old.

Then we got up the next day and drove all the way home. So tired. But all worth it.
Our view of the stage

With Leila and Adia

Stray Kids 



A favorite moment I managed to capture

Saying goodbye :(

Next concert? Hopefully KCON in August. And then I have Pentagon tickets in September (back in LA) and tickets also in September for a music festival in Las Vegas where Monsta X well be showing up. So... it continues.

Concerts I've missed that make me so sad: NCT, Up10tion, BTS, and a festival where Super Junior and Taemin played. During April and May I could have happily gone to LA every weekend for something or another. It's so crazy. How did this happen?


Bonus: My favorite Stray Kids song (I think... there are many) with lyrics if you are interested. I've probably shared this already, but here you go again:







Saturday, June 1, 2019

Kdrama Review: My ID is Gangnam Beauty

Drama: My ID is Gangnam Beauty
Genre: Romantic comedy
Starring: Cha Eunwoo, Im Soo-hyang, Kwak Dong-yeon
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤


This one is about a girl who was ugly in middle school and high school to the point that she had no friends and everyone made fun of her. So the summer before she goes to college, she has a ton of plastic surgery done and comes out beautiful. She's ready to start a new life in college.

Much to her dismay, at orientation, there's a guy in her class/department who is from her middle school. And she she is scared he will figure out it's her. Of course, he does and things go from there.

It's about the hang up we all (and especially Korea) have on outer beauty. And how that is truly not the important thing at all. This drama deals also with bulimia as another character struggles with that. There's also much to be said about bullying. And sexual harassment too. Lots of that sort of thing, all under the umbrella of a cute love college love story.

When this first aired, lots of people were talking about Eunwoo's acting abilities. I've seen in before in The Big Hit and thought he was awesome. So when he was getting criticized for being too stiff and too bland, I was like... seriously? But it made me leery and I put off watching this one for quite awhile.

But I am happy to report that I loved his acting and thought he was totally adorable. He plays a character that who has cut himself off emotionally from everyone, and thus the stiffness. In other words, he nails this gig! And then, when he starts to loosen up... you feel it. Those last few episodes when he starts letting his smiles out are absolutely lovely.

I laughed out a lot a lot at this one. Some of the silly situations they get themselves in and the awkwardness they deal with is the best.

The side characters were also a ton of fun in this one. I was rooting for everyone to have their happy ending! I also loved seeing Kwak Dong Yeon in a nice boy role. Is he in a leading role, anyone know? Because I need to see him as the lead now!!!



P.S. Did I tell you Eunwoo is in Astro? Yeah. He is. Yet another idol actor!


Trailer:



 Clips with the song!

 

Friday, May 31, 2019

Book Review: Educated by Tara Westover

Book: Educated by Tara Westover
Genre: memoir
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

I've been hearing about this book for quite awhile now. When it lost in our book club voting I decided to not wait any longer and just read it now. And once I got started, I pretty much devoured it.

It's a story about the author's strange and crazy upbringing, and how she escaped it to finally go to school, and then she becomes an amazing scholar breaking all odds to even get a doctorate from Cambridge.

She grew up on a farm and junkyard in Idaho where her parents, but especially her dad, had some crazy ideas that included doomsday thoughts, paranoia, literally translations from the scriptures, and no fear of danger. They didn't believe in doctors, school, or things like getting birth certificates. Basically, he wanted to live off the grid where the government couldn't find him and stock piled food and weapons for the day they did.

The problems arise when he or someone in his family gets gravely injured and they just hope they get better with no help from the doctors. It happened so many times. Also, there's the issue of physical abuse from her brother which no one would believe. (She actually didn't tell anyone about it until later, but they all knew it was happening and just looked the other way.)

So when she was about 16 she decided she needed to get out of there, and the only escape was to go to college. So she studied on her own, stuff she'd never learned up till then, so she could take the ACT. And she need. And she passed. And she got in.

Coming to college was like stepping out into a completely different world and it took her a long while to adjust. But once she did, she embraced this new life, and would have liked to figure out how to mesh her two lives, but it turned out to be pretty impossible. She documents her struggle with that and how for nearly a year she did nothing but watch TV in the midst of her depression over it. So sad.

So, like I keep saying... it's very fascinating and there's so much to think about and talk about, but it's also quite depressing. It's hard to read about the rift between a daughter and her family... even if that family is crazy!

Among all the crazy things, it's a bottom line tribute to learning and how we have an innate desire to learn. And how if we don't go to school, at some point, we crave it. And how some people will do anything to get the education they want so bad.

I'm kinda sad our book club decided not read it because I've been so compelled to talk about it and everyone here is getting sick of me now!! LOL! I'm sure our book club discussion would have been quite interesting.

Let me know if you've read it and what you thought and if you too needed to talk about it a lot afterwards. :)


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Kdrama Review: I Hate You Juliet

Drama: I Hate You Juliet

Genre: romantic comedy with a fantasy twist
Starring: Lee Hong Gi, Jung Hye Jung
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤

I watched this one only for Lee Hong Gi, amazing lead singer of the band FTISLAND. And also amazing actor. It was a short cute little for fun drama, with not a whole lot of meat to it. (It was 15 to 20 min long episodes... 16 of them in all. Short!)

It's about a girl who goes to art school. There she meets up with a celebrity dude who is also going, a bit grudgingly. They end up in the same group to do the year end project, so they have to work together a lot. The guy is conceited and mean. The girl is very very naive. Somehow they end up hitting it off.

Well, the guy is quite intrigued by her because he can her her thoughts. But only sometimes. He goes crazy trying to figure out why this is and what sets it of. So between that, and being together a lot. He ends up realizing he is falling for her. But no way is he going to admit it!

I love his face.

Eventually, they learn their moms were friends a long time ago but became estranged because of some misunderstanding. So they help bring them all together again.

Anyway. That's really about it. But it was fun to see Hong Gi in another fun role. The other ones I've see him in, he's always so sweet and fun loving and cute and happy go lucky. This dude was a bit more closed off and not as smiley. But still, in the end... very very sweet. :)

Gah. He's the best.

Here's the song (and clips) from the beautiful voices of IMFACT:

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