Shawol forever

I take back what I said about Shinee not being close as a group. I have watched enough of their interactions to say that they are, undoubtedly, close. And yes, I have a favorite. Taemin forever because I’m secretly still 16 at heart. And turtlenecks on Taemin forever.

Other members: Proud mama JongHyun when talking about/watching Taemin perform, kind-hearted flaming charisma Minho, dork tofu leader Onew, and fierce dancer/fashionista + say-it-like-it-is Key. I will go to a SHINee World concert after I go to my first Super Show whenever that may be lol.

Here are some of my favorite songs:

Don’t Let Me Go – SHINee

Favorite song right now. I’ve been listening to this a lot.

Feel Good and 1 of 1 – SHINee

Winter Wonderland – SHINee

Your Number – SHINee

The song that started it all. This is one of the first few SHINee videos that I watched and thought, ‘this is pretty good’.

Enjoy their fab dancing, especially Key’s.

Raine
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Assassin’s Creed movie review: A hit or miss?

The Tuesday I have been waiting for arrived yesterday. We went to watch Assassin’s Creed, the movie adaptation of a popular video game series that blends science with historical fantasy themes.

It was our first time going to the theaters over here so we were pleasantly surprised to find no lines and that it was totally okay to buy your tickets 15 minutes before the movie began. The nice and sunny morning was destroyed by my awkward mumbling to the box office lady who asked me to repeat myself.

We went inside the building, gawked at how different it was from home, stared at the ridiculous popcorn prices, took a few pictures outside the auditorium and went in, ready to watch our first movie in what seemed like years. It felt strange that we got to choose our own seats and that it was so darned bright inside. Even the ads were sectioned into fun facts and then other movie trailers (and I swear there’s a sequel for Planet of the Apes every other year).

You don’t know how tempted I was to start my post with “As a fan of Assassin’s Creed for EIGHT years…” but I figured it would be too cheesy, too boring, too pompous. I have not played a video game in more than a year until last week, a shocking comparison to my high school days (video games, I love you), so you could say that I didn’t think too much about what the plot was going to be like and that I didn’t have many expectations.

This is the part where you look away if you hate spoilers!

As a non-gamer looking for some good entertainment over winter break, the movie was decent. As a gamer, the movie was mediocre at its best. There wasn’t enough action at all. The three times that the main character went into the Animus was all we got. And if you’ve never played the game, Assassin’s Creed is 90% historical and 10% modern day. The way important moments in history are intertwined with an entirely fictional storyline is part of what makes the game so rich and so compelling. And the movie was quite the opposite – 80% modern day, 20% historical.

There was far too much focus on the modern day story, which, I suppose, was used to appeal to a wider audience and not just those who have played the game. Some parts could have been shorter. It was obvious that the movie was only building and focusing on the main character, Cal, to set up a nice background for its movie sequels. The huge miss for me was that Aguilar, the assassin from 500 years ago, did not have a story of his own. The appeal of AC games lie, as I mentioned earlier, with the historical scenes and characters. We don’t care about the main character but we care about his ancestors.

With that said, I loved how dedicated Michael Fassbender was to this adaptation. In 2011 or something like that, I read he was attached to the project and was very surprised that he did not drop out all this while. I was glad because I thought he really looked similar to Desmond Miles (main guy in the modern day part of the games) and his acting was great in X-Men. He was successful in creating a great character out of Cal who seamlessly fit into the AC universe unlike new characters in movie adaptations of video games or comics who often seem out of place. I thought the other actors/actresses did a great job as well. Some part of me wished that they had kept the original modern day characters like Lucy, Shaun and Rebecca, but oh well.

I also did not expect the historical scenes to entirely be in Spanish. It certainly made it more realistic and interesting but there was something lacking about it. I figured it was because the characters didn’t have enough lines. It made everyone seem really stiff because there was less talking so the characters were either nodding or staring at each other with intense gazes.

The cinematography was messy. I thought the Prince of Persia movie did a better job at recreating the feel of the games. I could barely see the parkour because the scenes were cutting wildly from spurring horses to wide angles of mountains to dark silhouettes and blinding white lights. The eagle was iconic but there was no need to keep following it around because it made the panoramic shot of the city lose all its magic (it’s freaking magical in the game). Another appeal of the games (because I can’t help but compare) is the beauty of the historical cities. With the lack of exploration, there was nothing to appreciate about the dusty and poorly lit locations.

While the movie’s Animus didn’t make me cringe as much as I expected to, though there were cheesy sci-fi elements about flying around with metal arms and football field lights, it was extremely distracting to have the scenes cut from the past to the present just to capture Marion Cotillard’s wide-eyed look of anticipation. It made it more difficult to get immersed in the action that was happening in the historical timeline.

I’m glad they did not throw romance into the storyline. I thought Aguilar and that female assassin were going to have a scene together or something but it didn’t happen, thankfully. That would have racked up the cringe factor. I hope that they won’t in future sequels because that would turn it into another romance/action/sci-fi thing. What they should add is some wit and humor but just a little. Like, really little. Too much would take away its essence. In the game, Desmond Miles was a crappy character but his sarcasm made up for all that he was lacking. At the same time, I suppose the serious tone in the movie wasn’t all too bad either.

I enjoyed the soundtrack. I actually thought Jesper Kyd (musical genius who composed the soundtracks for the games; this might be a bit outdated since I only played until AC3) composed it because it sounded similar, but it wasn’t him. It was good though. The rock music at the beginning was also very AC-like because all the game trailers have really awesome non-mainstream songs that sound epic.

Overall, I would give this movie a 7/10. It was a hit AND a miss for me. Would I watch it again? Probably, because Fassbender’s sport shoes and sweatpants look is fab! Just kidding. I wouldn’t mind watching it again but not so soon. People actually clapped after the movie was over! I didn’t yawn or complain which tells me that I found it entertaining. It was nice to be reunited with in-game jargon and understand all the references. I would probably watch the sequel. I was mostly disappointed that people who have never played the game did not get to experience the feeling captured through AC’s use of history as its playground because it was, and still is, a great feeling that inspired me to delve deeper into the subject of history and see video games as a wonderfully unique form of art.

If you want a great story, play the game (preferably, most definitely, infinitely, the second game, AC2) but if you’re not picky and got about 2 hours to spare, I would say give the movie a try.

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Post-Thanksgiving shopping

My sister and I just agreed that we’re excited for our Black Friday packages to arrive because it means that we’ll be able to buy more stuff. Kind of like an advising hold before applying for classes. It’s a nice thought and a girl can dream (even with a tight budget), right? It’s nice to be able to see, hear, smell and touch stuff that you buy online. The beauty of online shopping. The wait is what gets to me. I’m usually not very excited when I order stuff online (because money, guys) but as soon as the arrival date gets closer, I realize that it might all be worth it!

I’m already starting to look at music instrument websites and other Christmas deals that are starting to pop up. Who said that winter is just about freezing in your sweatpants and sleeping in like a hibernating bear? There’s stuff to be bought! Sales to go to! Research to be done!

My tip for online shopping for those with a narrow wallet like mine is to think of how you’ll be able to buy something better in the next season. Fashion is always changing so even if you really wanted that pair of harem pants that all your friends are wearing, something new and even better will be popular the next time. Plus it might look really good on you! And it’s not just about clothes. Kitchenware designs, watches, earrings, printers! So don’t fret!

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Still GOT7 week

I wanted to write about my week and tidbits on what has been happening on this end lately but I’ve calmed down a bit so I’ll turn this post into another GOT7 appreciation post. Hooray!

I love Jackson and JB but right now I love Jinyoung. He’s good-looking and I like his voice *_* He dresses well but I think he looks better dressed down… that’s just me though.

What about the others? Youngjae is so adorable, especially when he tries to mimic Mark or Jackson’s English. He’s like a sea otter, I have no idea why. BamBam seems like the mild type and he balances out the AmeriThaiKong (Mark, BamBam, Jackson) part of the group so well. Mark is unexpectedly quiet and easygoing, and it’s hard to tell that he’s the oldest.

It’s interesting to see every KPop group’s maknae (the youngest member) because you never know what kind of maknae they are until you watch their videos. Poor Yugyeom, the maknae, gets pranked too many times for their hidden camera episodes but I think he’s definitely got a bit of the evil maknae side haha.

I LOVE the mini episodes that they film for each album release. I’ve jumped here and there and I’m currently watching Real GOT7 season 2 but I’ve watched all the GOT7ing episodes. I tried to pace myself – 1 video on day 1, the rest of the videos on day 2. Pretty good, right?

Observations: these guys can eat A LOT. And they need to stop showing us all the delicious food they eat in all these episodes.

I love ‘A’ and the fact that this is the first GOT7 song my sister listened to.

You’ve probably seen enough ‘If You Do’ in the last post but I haven’t seen this one so here it is. This is eyeliner version.

Love the song and the video. Dorks.

So fun to see them relaxed/horsing around in their dorm (I think). I feel like the saying ‘boys will be boys’ fits this video.

The dance at the chorus and the baseball concept got me hooked.

Bonus:

GOT7 at a Korean BBQ where you can see firsthand the boys eating a lot! The first 1/3 of the video is Jinson (Jackson + Jinyoung) arguing over Jinyoung’s never-ending complaints about Jackson only taking BamBam out for meat lolol. But then they finally eat meat together here so hopefully all is well now.

And that is all. I’m craving Korean BBQ now.

Raine
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SHINee and GOT7 week (I realize that’s a lot of capitalization)

It’s only been ONE month since I fell head over heels for Big Bang (TAEYANG IS MY EVERYTHING). I have spent a lot of time listening to their MADE album from start to finish and even though I previously didn’t like Zutter, I have ended up listening to it anyway. There have been more discoveries lately so here’s a post about that.

But first, I have something to say. I read a blog (I think) where two people were ‘reviewing’ the members of Big Bang and they were absolutely tactless and ruthless in attacking TaeYang’s looks and character. It was painful to read, mostly because I felt sorry for the authors. I hope for their sake that their thinking matures and they see how unnecessarily mean they were.

Somehow that’s an awkward paragraph to transition from but I’m going to try my best to mention female groups in this paragraph. If you couldn’t tell, I’m the one who digs for male groups while my sister is all about the girl groups. She has been trying to get me to watch some videos but I think my problem with female groups is my preconceived ideas of what they have to offer. So it’s on me to get over that and just try watching their videos.

Anyway, I found this video below and that’s how I’m listening to most of Taeyang’s Rise album. I thought I only liked Stay With Me and Ringa Linga (please check out the dance practice video which is the most music-video-like dance practice video ever) but Taeyang’s live performances have won me ovvver.

Omg, the way Taeyang twists the mic stand at 0:52. Part of the basis for this post was writing about the small yet oddly significant things Taeyang does during his live performances. Like the way he likes to tuck the hem of his shirt very slightly into his jeans and his signature poses. In the words of a 21st century teenager, Stahp, I can’t even. His harmonization is always on point and can we just stop to appreciate his cute swag factor?

Taeyang can sing and even though his hair styles are always questionable, he’s got a heart of gold and is probably as sweet and humble as his members say he is.

So who’s first on the new favorites list? Shinee!!! It’s stylized as SHINee but let’s just go with non-capitalized in this post.

shinee-the-saem-eco-soul-bb-cream-2015

L to R: Onew, Taemin, Jonghyun, Minho, Key

Here is what we’ve been listening to/watching:

1 of 1 is off their newest album which is 90s-inspired. Their fashion is A+, also something I don’t think I could ever pull off but props to their stylists for letting them rock ugly turtlenecks, leather vests, and classic denim.

I’m surprised that we have become Shinee fans because when a friend said she loves them, I was like, yeah okay they’re not bad. The one who didn’t want to watch ‘View’ with me – cough my sister cough – is now the bigger fan. Shinee is fun to watch onstage but as a group, they’re not very close and don’t mesh well so their interviews can be dull and awkward. I find it a shame that they’re not close but I guess there are reasons for that?

Next up: GOT7. I’m the only one on the IGOT7 boat right now but I’m having so much fun. I watched them on various entertainment programs like Weekly Idol then I watched their interviews before I started listening to their music. I like their personalities, that’s why I ventured into their music.

got7-1

L to R: Yugyeom, JB, Jackson, Jinyoung, Mark, Bambam, Youngjae

ALSO CAN YOU SEE THE HAIR ON THEIR LEGS?!!!!! Never seen before (at least, for me) – body hair on male KPop idols. That’s what I wanna see.

JB comes across as a responsible but caring leader, like Teuk. The difference is JB can sing (sorry Teukie, you’re a wonderful DJ and MC with your silky voice but your singing is like umm, hahaha). YoungJae has a nice voice, too. There’s never a dull moment where Jackson is involved and the others seem decent. I think it’s great that they are a multinational group yet they function so well and seem close to one another.

Look at how dorky they are. I want to see Super Junior have a pajama dance party like this too. And just for extra measure, here is a video of them dancing to ‘If You Do’ at 2x speed on Weekly Idol:

Oh, and a fun fact I discovered today while looking up GOT7 member profiles is that only ONE of the members is older than me. That tickled me. Ahh, I can call them kids, right? Stay humble, kids.

As for BTS or Bangtan Boys (I had no idea they were the same), if you’ve been reading my tweets, I have dipped my toe in the water but I’m not convinced. I watched them on Weekly Idol out of curiosity and the member who stood out the most to me was Suga. Call it instinct or whatever you like; I can recognize my kind when I see them. And that is all I will say about this.

ENJOY!!! And yes, this blog has been taken over completely by Korean music fans.

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On the topic of K-pop girl groups

The thing I like about our connection – us as the bloggers and you as the reader – is how quickly we acquaint you with our interests. It’s amusing to me, horrifying to you maybe, but it has always been this way since the day this blog was born. If you’ve been keeping up or if you need a refresher, we recently got into K-pop. You might have seen a few hints here and there, which led to the ultimate reveal that inspired several more posts.

To start off my HeeChul ramble (because HeeChul is best known for his girl group mania that is not too far off from my own), I started off my K-pop adventures with one girl group and that spawned a musical expansion into other girl groups. From the vibrant stage outfits to the outrageous hairstyles and hair colors to the catchy and modern songs to the impressive and effortless dancing, K-pop was so darned appealing that I couldn’t help falling into the spell that captured the hearts of other young people all over the world.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I was initially hesitant about getting into male groups because I didn’t want to feel weirder than I already was if I were to, let’s say, fall for some cute K-pop dude with thick eyeliner, blue contact lenses, bleached blond hair and flawless foundation on his face (of course my worries were not uncalled for and that’s the truth now, HAHA), so I listened mostly to girl groups. I even have ‘biases’ a.k.a favorite members for each group. I’ll go ahead and introduce them to you now:

aoa

Choa, Chanmi, Hyejeong, Seolhyun, Yuna, Jimin, Mina

1. AoA

Having glimpsed the word ‘AoA’ on a friend’s Twitter update before a long flight, I found myself listening to my first ever K-pop album, Like A Cat. I was hooked after the first listen and danced all the way until touchdown in California. It was no surprise that I was curious to see who these girls were. Song after song, I was impressed and completely captivated by the dances and fashion. It didn’t help that there were so many dance practices out there. This is random but I wanna know what hair products the members use and what I can do to get hairstyles like that.

Favorite member: ChoA. Favorite song and dance: Like A Cat (Fun fact: I listened to this song more than 100 times within the first month I discovered it).

mamamoo

MoonByul, WheeIn, Solar, Hwasa

2. Mamamoo

After much dabbling, I discovered a group that did not fit the mainstream girlish or sexy image that the K-pop scene was overflowing with. When I think of Mamamoo, I always think Christina Aguilera. Strong vocals, jazzy music, and fabulous dance moves. While I’m not a fan of the rapping in their songs, I’m a big fan of their energized performances. They always look like they’re totally into their dancing. They also seem to have genuine camaraderie, which is evident in their on-stage interactions.

Favorite member: WheeIn. Favorite song and dance: Piano Man. Special mention: Mr. Ambiguous.

iu3. IU

It took me a while but I warmed up to IU’s music after listening to her latest album, Chat-shire. She has a whimsical and girlish style and very unique voice, and her music is what I would describe as ‘fairytale’ genre. That’s not even a genre but if you listen to her songs, you’ll see why. I think she pulls off simple and casual fashion very well, nothing too bright and bold yet nothing too plain and boring, and it really suits her image.

Favorite song and dance: Twenty-three. Special mention: Glasses.

dal-shabet

Subin, Ah Young, Serri, Woohee

4. Dalshabet

They had a few controversies with their dance moves previously, but I think they are doing pretty well now. I was first introduced to the genre ‘jazz swing’ through one of the songs, and now every time I see any song that has ‘swing’ in it, I catch onto it and devour all that musical goodness.

Favorite member: WooHee. Favorite song: Someone Like U (love their suit jackets). Favorite dance: Have, Don’t Have (The crazy fashion and makeup describes everything I love about K-pop styles). Special mention: Ya Heart (their latest song and so good!!)

apink5. APink

I was searching for 80s-inspired K-pop songs and found APink! I love the music in all their songs and I also love their girly image. They recently released a new song and the maturity is obvious in their dancing and fashion. Fun fact: This is the first girl group my sister has actually listened to more than twice.

Favorite member: Eunji. Favorite song: Only One.

girls-generation

Yuri, Sunny, Hyoyeon, Yoona, Taeyeon, Sooyoung, Tiffany, Seohyun

6. Girls’ Generation

What would this list be without the female counterparts of Super Junior, right? I initially wasn’t a big fan of theirs. Gee was my first ever K-pop video in school which I quickly forgot about. Like SJ, everyone around me talked about them but I didn’t really think too hard about who they were. I actually heard their songs in Daiso this summer and somehow recognized Taeyeon’s voice even though I probably only listened to one of her songs. I just knew she had a strong voice and sorta guessed it was her? Anyway, their songs made me want to dance badly and dancing is a good thing so that’s how I ended up liking their songs.

Favorite song: Galaxy Supernova. Favorite dance: Mr. Taxi (my summer workout jam!!). Special mention: Mr Mr. I don’t have a favorite member but…

I watched several of Taeyeon‘s videos during summer and kinda liked her song called ‘I’, came back to that song after summer, ended up watching more of her videos, and falling for her other song ‘Why’, which introduced me to another genre known as ‘house’ or ‘tropical house’ that is apparently all the rage now (where, though? The radios are congested with mainstream pop?).

Favorite song: Good Thing. Favorite dance: Why (When I think of the dance, I think of the word ‘contemporary’, I don’t know why but I love the dance at the second verse and especially when the male dancers lift the female dancers up and they do that cool kicking thing that suits the song so well; you can tell this is my favorite of all favorites because I’ve become super wordy).

Well, that’s all I have to say about girl groups. I feel like their music has really diversified my taste. When I first started listening to K-pop, I felt really special because the songs were totally unlike the Japanese and English songs I like. It has really opened my mind to a lot of genres and, musically, I really love that.

But wait…

I have a surprise on this list?!

shinee

Jonghyun, Taemin, Minho, Onew, Key

SHINee is my latest male group muse. It was unexpected but it’s great! Another name I’ve been hearing for years yet did not think too much about. I actually thought they were Japanese before this (check out Jonghyun’s Ring Ding Dong era hair). My sister and I tried to watch their videos but I was having a mini K-pop burnout where pretty much everything I listened to sounded the same. Then I was at a point where I was looking for new music and saw that SHINee was having a comeback and somehow I had a sixth sense that I would like their new song. And I did!

I’m finally understanding what a SHINee trend is because I’m totally in love with their fashion sense!! If I were a guy, I’d be making fashion choices based on these guys’ casual and colorful styles. I don’t have a favorite member as of now but Key seems cool and I really really like Onew’s voice.

Favorite song: 1 of 1. Favorite dance: View. Special mention: So Amazing.

It’s been so hard to choose between all the songs and dances because I really love all of them and I’d love to share all of them with you. And I’m sorry, not sorry that this post totally gave away my taste in fashion. I’m working towards being more carefree about my own opinions but that’s a story for another day.

As I’m proof-reading this post, I realize that I have a thing for main vocalists and that most of the songs I’ve mentioned I’ve spammed the repeat button for days and weeks. That means I’m recommending good songs, guys!! I hope I helped someone find new music, if not I’m just pleased that I managed to write about something I like.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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Awkward Encounters: the apartment on the second floor

You know the basketball player I successfully had a conversation with last semester? I meant to wish him good luck in his future endeavors since he was graduating at the end of the semester. Well, as it happened, I only ran into him once and I was in a rush so I simply and breezily said hi to him. He said hi to me and that was it.

I went home for summer and he graduated. Summer went by and basketball season seemed like years ago.

Two weeks after returning to our apartment, we were outside one day giving the car interior a quick antibacterial spray. We heard someone’s door opening and closing then two people talking.

We are, um, rather antisocial neighbors so we try not to bump into anyone but if we’re forced to, we’ll just exchange greetings.

I looked up and saw that there were two people coming down the stairs from the apartment opposite ours. My eyes couldn’t believe who I was seeing but yes, it’s true. It was him – the basketball player. I mean, our new neighbor. He was with his girlfriend.

My eyes couldn’t believe it but my reflexes were quicker.

“OH MY GOD, IT’S HIM!” I think I whispered to my sister.

“WHO?” She tried to look over her shoulder.

“GET IN!” I dove into the backseat and pretended to be busy digging for something.

We both were lying across the seats and had our legs flailing outside the car (obvious dramatization) but better than an awkward situation where we meet each other’s gazes and he recognizes us and is like, wth??? No, no, no.

So yes, hello, new neighbor, how bizarre.

He spotted us last week. He seemed confused and surprised and probably doesn’t believe that it’s us. Same. Well, I’m over my reluctance to run into him but still, the initial surprise lingers because how the heck is the world so small?

Not sure if we’ll see him at this season’s games as an audience member but until then…

He has a small dog and lets the little thing run around and does its business on the grass between the apartments. First off, that’s not considerate and second, THE SMELL!!!

Maybe we need to have a word soon.

Raine
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