Good afternoon, February

I realize that it’s been two full months since I’ve blogged here. My ‘I’m busy and uninspired’ excuse is pretty stale but it’s the only one I have. But whatevs because I found these golden videos and I need to share.

My Home – GOT7 is pretty much the best discovery of last week. And this 360 degree video?? It blew my mind! I can spin the screen and look at ALL my lovelies?! Technology is so winning right now. Important observations: JB being all cool (swoon), JinYoung handsome-ing all day every day, YoungJae dancing/floating in his oversized sweater, Mark singing the bridge, Jackson being Jackson, and the maknaes being maknaes.

And in case you’re like me and can’t get enough of JinYoung being hyper and dancing on the road, this video is for you.

Other GOT7 songs that were previously not on our playlist but are now: Feels Good, She’s a Monster, Dreamin’, Mayday, Hey.

You Were Beautiful – Day6

JYP is really killing it at bringing good, new voices onto the music scene. We were video-surfing the other day and came across this video. This is not your typical Kpop group, by the way. These guys can sing AND play instruments. I definitely want to see more of them this year.

And in other news, my sister is loving TaeYang more than I expected. LOL.

That’s all I have. See you when I run out of excuses not to blog here.

Raine
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An ambitious friend

I was asking a friend how her violin lessons were going and she said that she learned how to play Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. She said that she surfs websites like http://www.musiciansfriend.com/ when she’s not practicing. I learned that she was interested in learning how to play a guitar and was looking into that. I wish I were that ambitious but these days all I’ve been doing is checking out stuff at Amazon.

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So long, 2016.

I wasn’t going to write this post even though I’ve been doing it for the last 3 years but lots of things can happen in one year so I’ll make this short and sweet.

2016 was rough, I’m not going to lie. It. was. rough. Most of it being in the 2nd half of the year.

Rereading last year’s annual reflection post was hard. I felt like someone else wrote that post. On one hand, I am proud of last year’s me and on the other hand, slightly jealous. I didn’t achieve as much greatness as I did last year. I didn’t do as much as I would have liked and I certainly did not grow into the person I hoped to become. I am filled with disappointment and regret which is honestly really sad but there’s not much to be done now that the year is over.

I interned over the summer and learned that I hate being stuck behind a desk. Then I went to potential future work places and realized that maybe being stuck behind a desk isn’t so bad. The honors program thingy? A total letdown, thanks to a bunch of empty promises made by an irresponsible professor. I worked hard to get into the program – nobody truly understands how much mental work went into simply applying for it – and in the end, it turned out to be like this.

But so as to not be ungrateful and unrealistic, good things did happen. 2016 was the year of discovering KPop. I discovered Teukie who needs to find me so that we can hold each other and have a heart-to-heart. Okay, more than that, I did meet great people (friends and teachers) along the way and I had some enlightening moments. I made mistakes but I will try to learn from them and push myself in the right direction.

We discovered Yogurtland and I ate a lot over summer. I lost a lot of weight but I put most of it back on – half good, half bad thing, I guess. I had some kitchen successes – making my own alfredo sauce, okonomiyaki, foil-wrapped everything aka easy cleanup. What else… More and more gingko trees are being planted on campus; I want to be engulfed in their blazing yellow beauty. Oh, and I did read some awesome books so I guess that’s a plus right there.

As for my birthday, I had cake, lunch at my favorite Thai restaurant, dinner at our usual dim sum place, and I got great gifts – a meaningful necklace from my mom and original artwork from my sister. Can’t complain.

I want to be kinder, I want to be more patient, I want to appreciate the little things, I want to remember that it’s okay to ask for help. I want to stop being so hard on myself, to stop comparing myself to my past selves/others, to stop giving in to negativity. I want to remember that I am responsible for my actions/emotions and that my emotions are not my enemies. None of that is going to happen by itself so it’s going to have to be me making the effort. Most of all, I want to tell myself that I am capable of all this.

I don’t have new goals or resolutions for next year.

Happy New Year. Hopefully you made it out of 2016 better than I did. Let’s take on 2017 together.

Raine
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The new year

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to write about the two people she became in one year. And here’s her story:

As usual, I wanted to talk about the second half of this year which was filled with a lot of negative things but then I remembered that there are positive things in my life as well and so I’m going to start on a good note.

The most memorable event that keeps coming back to my mind is of how my dad decided to take us to a dessert store at night when we were back for summer. It’s something we don’t do often so I thought it was fun and interesting. We ate matcha ice cream, hated it, and jumped to the other dessert shop where we discovered my new favorite dessert, Shibuya honey toast. Thinking about it makes me want to cry a lot… and that’s exactly what I’m doing right now.

Summer was wonderful. I have a lot of good memories that I often think about. I took a summer class (again), befriended some people, hated some parts of it, loved the rest of it. I ate a lot of good food that I am very thankful for. I bought clothes beyond my yearly quota and was pleased with the choices I made. I also discovered that I actually like driving, sort of. I listened to a lot of music, lazed around like a panda (hello, two months of jet lag), did my homework diligently, worked out to my favorite songs, discovered a Youtube artist who inspired me to pursue my dream again (thank you Alphonso) and drew a lot.

Around March or April, I started working out. At first, it was for fitness. Then it was to beĀ  lighter. Then it became a passion. I fell so in love with working out that I did not realize that I was hurting myself. I exercised for 5 days a week at first. Then I wanted a challenge and did 6 days a week. That was when everything changed.

I don’t really know how it happened but it’s been two months and I’m still suffering from muscle strains. I have been extremely upset about that. I’m still struggling to accept the fact that I have to take a break from exercising. I feel like I have lost a part of myself with this issue. I’m trying really hard to get back on my feet. It’s depressing for me to write about this but as always, I hope someone will read this and realize that they are not alone in fighting whatever difficulties they are going through. Our problems might be different but our fight is the same.

I’m usually aware that life has its ups and downs but I have been in great denial for this matter. I have been reading the book of wisdom that my sister and mom gave me last year and trying to lift myself out of sadness that I somehow keep wanting to swim in. A lot of the content makes me cry because it’s so raw and real and true to my feelings. One particular quote that really sent a ray of hope through my current hopelessness was this:

When we have an unpleasant feeling, we say to ourselves, “This feeling is in me, it will stay for a while, and then it will disappear because it is impermanent.” -Your True Home by Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s not an easy process, but I’m going to keep trying. And I know you will too.

“Onward to the next year with a shield and sword in hand!” -Myself in 2015

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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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