5.20.2015

Currently...(5)

"Currently..." updates will be every other Tuesday, concurrent with Katy Upperman. (Except this week because I messed up - hence this Wednesday post.)

I found the Currently post at Kate Hart's blog, who got the idea from Amy Lukavics, who found it here.
Please join in and link me in the comments if you do!

Loving


Disneyland with my besties!
It's been such a long time since I've gone with a big group and with some of my favorite people. It was a blast, and the Sis and I think we did pretty good playing in both parks. Thanks friends for trusting our Disneyland skillz0rs and letting us boss you around the park.

This interview with Kaye (@gildedspine) as part of Kate Hart's Badass Ladies series.

Watching
Pitch Perfect 2 - enjoyed it, but I think the first was better. This one felt a little crowded, but I loved the music and the girl-focus.

TURN - this season is so good now that we're really into the spy and war stuff.

Orphan Black (finally) - still catching up on this, but have finally started watching this season. Tatiana Maslany continues to amaze with her acting ability.


Reading
Washington's Spies, though I'm taking a bit of a break at the moment to read Sarah Maas' adult fantasy A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES.


Thanks to Tracey and Lola for forwarding this ARC to me! I hope to get a finished copy soon. :)


Listening to
My friend (and one of the kindest, most thoughtful women I know) Erica produced this great episode for the Public Radio and podcast series State of the Re:Union about the region where we both grew up. It's a wonderful mix of slice-of-life, travelogue, history, and intersectional identity.

The episode is called SAN GABRIEL VALLEY, CA: SMALL TOWN, GLOBAL CITY. Highly recommended. (Bonus: the hot pot eating pics were taken by my other friend Gennia.)

I'm excited to check out the other episodes of State of the Re:Union too - telling the story of America, one community at a time.


Thinking about
Lots to digest this week, especially given all the media I consume. In particular, check out these entries:

Chuck Wendig's blog post We Are Not Things: Mad Max Versus Game of Thrones. (WARNING: Spoilers for both GoT and Mad Max: Fury Road & discussion of violence against women and female agency.)

Justina Ireland's post about female agency: The Curious Case of Lady Characters with Agency.

Feminist Frequency's (@femfreq) brief but thought-provoking discussion of Mad Max, popular media, and its conception of feminism on her twitter timeline.


Anticipating

The summer writing intensive Ready. Set. Write! (Click for more info!)

I'm also looking forward to seeing Mad Max: Fury Road. I had only a small interest in seeing this movie, but after hearing all the great reviews, I'm really want to see it now. Hope to get to it this weekend!


Making me happy
Long weekend! Upcoming second Disneyland trip!


Also, from a little while ago, Mother's Day celebrations. We took our Mom out to breakfast brunch, and then we made Loki take pictures with us. I love his expressions!


Update me on your currently in the comments or in a blog post!

5.05.2015

Currently...(4)

I will be posting a "Currently..." update every other Tuesday along with Katy Upperman.

I found the Currently post at Kate Hart's blog, who got the idea from Amy Lukavics, who found it here.

Please join in and link me in the comments if you do! You are free to use (or not use) any of the headers. I used all of them in my last update but won't be this time.

Loving
The housewarmings I went to for my friends. One of them just moved to their new place, which happens to be near some great food places! We had pizza and amazing donuts (Nutella! Green tea! Samoa! Lime!)
The other friends had been moved in but finally had their housewarming gathering. They had all sorts of cool Star Wars decorations, and we made magnets!


Also, I always love the Sister's hilarious imitations. Special Marvel edition: Daredevil and Thor.


Last week as part of a work trip, we went to visit the Huy Fong plant, which is basically sriracha sauce HQ. There are many brands of sriracha, but the most well known is Huy Fong (you may recognize the rooster brand). It was really cool to see the factory and learn a bit about the production process, and it's a California-grown and based business! It ended with a trip to a gift shop.



Watching
The new Avengers: Age of Ultron, which I liked! Of course, I had some nits to pick, but it was fun and it's always kind of awesome to see that cast together. Plus, the Sister and I won tickets to a pre-screening at IMAX HeadQuarters, so it was extra cool because it was in their private theater, in 3D, and giant. We also got a shirt after.


I also re-watched the old musical 1776, which I remember seeing in 8th grade. It was funnier upon this rewatch because I discovered so many things that went right over my head. Hah. For you Boy Meets World fans, 1776 stars a young Mr. Feeny as John Adams!


Reading
So many graphic novels - Vol. 6 of The Sandman Fables & Reflections and Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal!


Listening
Aluna George: went to a concert at the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Aluna was great, but not gonna lie, walking through the cemetery at night was a little creepy.



Anticipating
Disneyland and Star Wars movie marathoning - both hopefully soon! I'm also looking forward to more book mail thanks to my book-fairy blogger friend Jess at The Reading Nook Reviews.



Making me happy
My growing Loki stash. Though this new Avengers movie has nothing really to do with Loki, somehow I've gotten more stuff...? Our Loki likes the shirt.


Star Wars Day! May 4th is Star Wars Day! We celebrated by dressing up, of course. May the Fourth be with you! (And today is "Revenge of the Fifth.")



Q4U: Update me on you and/or have you seen the new Avengers movie yet and what did you think? (Mind the spoilers!)


P.S. May 4th was also the very last day of the Hamilton musical at the Public Theater. For my flail-y feels on the musical, see my NYC Trip: Part 3 post!

4.23.2015

Nerd Trip 2015 (Part 3): Hamilton the Musical

I'm BELATEDLY finishing up my NYC Trip Recap with my impressions of the HAMILTON musical, which was the main reason I did this trip. Saved the best for last, but March and April kind of blew past me. Sorry! I guess it's kind of fitting that I'm posting now as the musical's run at the Public Theater is coming to a close.



(Warning, wall of text ahead.)

We must go back briefly to late 2014, when I awoke to a Tweet from Sarah linking to an article about an upcoming musical about Alexander Hamilton. I honestly thought my half-asleep brain was making this ish up because... well, it sounds like something I might make up. And then to find out that Lin-Manuel Miranda was behind it and that it was a hip-hop musical?


REAL LIFE, people. From there, I made plans to visit Sarah in February and to see the musical because I would regret it forever if I didn't go. I also seriously underestimated the popularity of this show because I was thinking about it from the I love Alexander Hamilton side of things and not the Lin-Manuel Miranda is a big freaking deal in musical theater world side of it. So it was that Sarah ended up with tickets in early February (for previews), and I ended up with tickets in late February.

Early February: Sarah and her friend (both with open minds and no expectations) saw the show. She texted me late (for East Coast time) that night, and basically told me I was going to lose my mind when I saw it, and that my impromptu NYC trip is possibly be the best decision I'll make this year.


So, at the end of February, the Sis and I left balmy 80F Los Angeles weather for North-of-the-Wall-cold New York City. You know the rest of our experience from my previous posts on the subject: NYC Trip Part 1 and Part 2.

Aside from the busy-times of March and April, this last post in the series is late because I've struggled to describe how much I LOVE the Hamilton musical and how thrilling it is that it's getting the buzz, hype, and praise it is because it lives up to all of it. I've fangirled about it more than once. I've tweeted my immediate reactions...





A bunch of publications, shows, and fans have covered why this show is so great better than I think I could articulate. And obviously, I don't want to say too much because I think it's almost better going into this thing with as blank a slate as possible.

But I do have to say a few things about why I loved it so much and why I think work like this is so, so important and inspiring.

I've often been confronted by people's bemusement with my love of U.S. History (specifically the Revolutionary period) and Alexander Hamilton, probably because history is to a lot of people boring and irrelevant the older it is. On a family trip to Boston during my teens, my dad asked me (jokingly) "What is with you and dead people?" upon my interest in visiting a Revolution-era cemetery.

I think the reason for this interest boils down to the fact that history is story and I am nothing if not a lover of stories. History has the added draw of being real but sometimes encroaching into the territory of myth - especially when we're talking about something like the American Revolution. But this mythic quality can make it feel irrelevant to the present.

HAMILTON recognizes both these things - the power of story but also the need for story (of whatever kind) to be relevant to its audience, and it addresses this beautifully by shifting the focus to the level of the individual and emphasizing the humanity of the participants and the broader strokes of the American experience. This is the Revolution told through the personal lens - through the dreams, fears, clashes, and ambitions of people. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr (and to a lesser extent, the other Founders) are brilliant and still glimmer with that mark of destiny, but they're also clearly fallible humans with ideals, desires, insecurities, great big hearts, and petty rivalries.

What's more sympathetic and relevant than the struggle and striving of people in ordinary (and extraordinary) circumstances?

Not to mention everything about the production itself is so fresh and makes the history, people, and conflicts so accessible. The contemporary music and dynamic choreography infuses the Revolution with life, transporting and translating the vitality and energy of that time to the stage. As Lin-Manuel Miranda has said, it's "the story of America then, told by America now."


Which brings me to the diverse cast. How wonderful was it to see a cast that looks like the multiracial landscape of America now bringing the founding of this country to life? I still get these ridiculous, happy feels as I type this because it's such a statement without being a statement. The diversity is a given as if to say that the Revolution centuries ago also belongs to the people (whatever their background) of our nation now.

This laying claim to American history is something I've thought about in passing. My love of history aside, I know there's sort of a dissonance between my fondness for this time period dominated by white men (and to the men themselves in some cases) and my ethnic background. Like as the daughter of Taiwanese immigrant parents, why do I care so much about something that seems so unrelated to my life? What is my stake in this, and sometimes, what is my right to it?

It's the same breed of discomfort as feeling like an outsider because you either are or are perceived as one, even though this is the place you consider home or is the only home you know. It's the annoying feeling of having to defend your participation in something you considered to be yours. (Super weird and coincidental that in my Hamilton biography reread last night I read about how people perceived Hamilton as an outsider and foreigner, and therefore thought his motives could never be purely patriotic - and that Hamilton was especially sensitive to these perceptions of him and they plagued him. To some extent, I get this.)

So to see a cast like this implicitly saying that yes, this national history - regardless of who the original players were or what they looked like - belongs to everyone who is part of this nation now was incredibly important and affirming to me. More so than I thought it'd be because I didn't realized that it would mean something until I saw it.


And getting back to the man himself, I latched on to Alexander Hamilton in high school because he was such a complicated, fascinating figure. He lacked a bit of the flaw-hiding shine we tend to give the Founding Fathers, and then, you know, he died in one of the most dramatic ways possible - a pistol duel with sitting Vice President Burr. The Ron Chernow biography made me into more of a fan with all the new things I learned, but the play's framing of Hamilton as an immigrant and writer has endeared him to me even more. It's kind of magical that I'm finding now I can sympathize with this long-dead man in these new ways. It's another inventive aspect of the play, how it frames and reframes the Founders and history as we were taught it.

And lastly, I love stories about stories, and huge themes of HAMILTON is legacy and narrative.  The tagline for the musical's run at the Public Theater is "who lives, who dies, who tells your story." While that most obviously applies to Hamilton  (he's both a prolific writer and kind of obsessed with his reputation), it also applies to everyone in the play. There are stories we tell ourselves, the stories we tell others, and the ones that others tell about us; and only so much of that is in your control.

Any of you who have read my book reviews knows that I love it when themes are explored in-depth and done well. So you can imagine how delighted I was (and am) with HAMILTON's.

Lastly (for real this time), I have to say the songs are so, so good. They run the range of smart, funny, catchy, clever, inspiring, and emotionally honest. They also teach a lot of history; for example, distilling down 1790s politics into potent rap battles. I mean, what is this brilliance? Cabinet meetings as rap battles. Think about it. This awesomeness does not let up. It is non-stop (like Hamilton).


I'm going to end here because I've basically written you an essay. (One of the very few things I have in common with A. Ham is that I am wordy as hell.) So TL;DR - I loved HAMILTON. It is probably the best musical I have ever seen, and to paraphrase my dear friend Sarah, I think it is impossible to over-hype. Thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda for this wonderful, inspiring play (about some of my favorite dead people)!

Next time, I'll just post a sequence of key-smashing and flailing gifs because that would also be an accurate depiction of my feels.



Go see the show if you can; it's opening on Broadway in July. History is happening in New York!

P.S. Hamilton is my bae, but Washington's a bamf, Lafayette is my fave, and Eliza, oh Eliza! Her kind of "strong female character" is underrated and not praised enough. She is quiet strength, compassion, and love. She was Hamilton's "best of wives and best of women," and my freaking hero. Thanks for honoring her, LMM!

P.P.S. Read the book if you're at all curious about Alexander Hamilton. It's a daunting 700-some-page read, but it's a compelling narrative and just so, so good.

4.21.2015

Currently...(3)

Before What's Up Wednesday (which has now concluded), I used the weekly update format of "Currently...". So I'm going to go back to that and will be posting every other Tuesday with Katy Upperman.

I found the Currently post at Kate Hart's blog, who got the idea from Amy Lukavics, who found it here.

Since I'm going back to this format for the 1st time in a long time, I'll use all the headers - in case you want to join in (please do!). You are, of course, welcome to use and not use whichever headers you want.

Loving
The epic fun times I've been having in April.
  • 2 weeks ago I went to my first Coachella ever, and while there were some truly infuriating (i.e. the uber rude staff person and "parking lot" from hell at an off-site party) and grating (i.e. terrible allergy attack aka "desert sickness") moments, there were also really great and magical moments.
    Loved spending time with my girl friends under the California sun, sitting on the grass and listening to music.


  • This past weekend, I went to the LA Times Festival of Books and hung out with tweeps like Sarah Enni, and I finally met the stupendous Kate Hart! Bonus: briefly met Kirsten Hubbard and the adorably sweet Emery Lord.

  • Also, we made the Jon Klassen signing at the Gallery Nucleus booth, and as always, he was the coolest guy ever. He even drew the Sis an extra doodle in her book because he couldn't pass up the opportunity to draw a cat for Cat. (The book we had signed at this bookfest is the doodle in the top left - with the dog and cat. The others were from a previous signing.)

  • The fan-freaking-tastic new STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS teaser trailer they released last week! No details in case there are those among you who want to go into the movie as un-teased as possible, but it was so good. It felt like a Star Wars movie (the original ones), and I cannot wait until December.


Watching
Game of Thrones is back and man, has it felt like forever. So excited to be back in Westeros! Since I've been riding a wave of US Revolutionary History geekery since February, I am thrilled by the return of TURN: Washington's Spies. This season promises to be much more exciting than the last with more spying, more Washington, and the introduction of Benedict Arnold! Of course, Orphan Black and Outlander are back as well - need to catch-up with those.

I am also, of course, semi-binge-watching Marvel's first Netflix show Daredevil, which I am loving! I like that it operates as its own thing instead of overlying on its connection to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe (which I think Agents of SHIELD does too much, though some of that can't be helped given the fact that it's about SHIELD), and I love how different it looks and feels from the movies. Daredevil is what Marvel TV should be - edgy, clever, engaging, thrilling, and complex. Even my friend who isn't a big fan of the MCU is into this show!


Reading
A Darker Shade of Magic - yes, still! I'm going at it slowly because 1) I've been way busy, 2) it's just so good, I don't want it to end, and 3) I'm reading another book too.

The other book I'm reading is Washington's Spies by Alexander Rose, and it's about the spy ring that helped win the Revolutionary War. The AMC show TURN is based on this book and this bit of history.


Listening to
James Bay, George Ezra, Hozier, and Florence and the Machine.


Thinking about
A trip I'm planning for the Fall. I hope I can make it happen! Fingers crossed. Anyone good at planning road trips?


Anticipating
The next big thing on my list? Avengers: Age of Ultron! I can't believe it's already time for another Avengers movie. This is the age we live in, geeks!

(We already have our Casual Cosplay ready.)

Oh, and I'm looking forward to the next Geek Girl Brunch! The first one for the Los Angeles chapter was at the beginning of this month; casual cosplay was the theme, hence our outfits above.


Wishing
I still had summers off. People still in school, CHERISH these built-in vacation months! As usual, the struggle is time and lately, energy! I am so exhausted recently.


Making me happy
The sunshine! I'm a summer-child, so I'm always happier when the sun is out. It means more ice cream and more puppy play time.
I'm also happy to be seeing my friends more often, and of course, all the tweeps I've been finally meeting up with!

Update me on your currently in the comments or in a blog post!