I’d started watching a YT channel called Ordinary Adventures because they were one of the few Disney Park vloggers who did a really detailed overview of Disney World’s new Star Wars Hotel, Galactic Starcruiser. I found Peter and Kitra utterly charming and relatable and I binge-watched more of their videos. So now I’m getting recommendations for other channels to watch and I’m actually enjoying some of the suggested videos. Bill and Lisa’s Food and Travel channel is my new favorite obsession. Oops, now I’m that person who watches YT videos with no intention of going to any of the places featured in the video.
I just like to watch.
Honestly, my subscription list on YT varies, from reaction channels to gamers to even the Try Guys and anime vloggers. I don’t know if this makes me easier or harder for the algorithm to cater to. I just find many of these shows relaxing and entertaining, which, I suppose is the point
Speaking of relaxing, I had a playlist of just nature sounds, white noise, and lo-fi music streamers just for when I was extremely stressed out, which, when J’s mom was in a terrible mood, was often. With her gone, I decided to delete this playlist. I don’t need it anymore. I still has stress, for sure, but I can manage it so much easier now that there’s not a person in the house who is screaming at 3 in the morning.
Last week, I’d decided that I was comfortable enough to go to work without a mask. After my migraine escapade, I felt like I needed to keep as unrestricted as possible, which turned out to be my downfall.On the second day of my mask-free escapade I had two encounters with two different customers which made me wary. The first one, unmasked, sneezed without covering his mouth. He just sort of, turned to the side and sneezed. (Have we learned nothing from this pandemic? Have we forgotten to sneeze into our elbow?) I swear, at that point, I was ready to run away from him.
The second encounter was with a smug little man who noticed I wasn’t wearing a mask and decided that somehow I was anti-mask? I mentioned that there’s no mandate anymore so we’re free to go maskless, and yet he had the urge to tell me that he was ready “just in case someone complained about it”. When I just fucking said that there’s no mandate. Like…he was fucking ready to flaunt his maskless face in other people’s faces and was all eager to get up in other people’s business about it. UGH.Anyway, all this culminated in me getting a scratchy throat, which led to a runny nose, which led to me taking a COVID test (thank you Biden, for the free ones). No, I do not have COVID. IT’s just a regular run of the mill cold, but now I’ve decided to wear my mask forever. Once bitten, twice shy…Also some people continue to be assholes.
What should I say about Turning Red that hasn’t already been said by many other women who saw their awkward 13 year old selves in Meilin? I’m amused by the negative reviews of the film which have said, among other things, that her fanart is inappropriate, as if no other young teen girl has ever drawn cringy fanart or written self-insert fanfic. As someone who was once a young, Asian, awkward, teen girl with secret obsessions I’d never tell my mom about, I found this film all too real.
I mean, I had created an entire alternate universe in my head by the time I was in 6th grade, an amalgamation of pop music and action-adventure. I concocted a band that was a cross of Kids Incorporated and future dystopia and time travel and somehow Spy Kids before Spy Kids was a thing. I was also obsessed with the Beatles at the time, and loathe as I was to write actual self-insert Beatles fic, I wrote scriptfic (before I knew the term, I just wrote whatever dialogue I wanted the characters to say, as if writing a play) where my original characters met and had adventures with the Beatles. Terribly unoriginal, but man I was obsessed with this idea. The kid band was obviously the best, most talented, and greatest group ever. Better than the Beatles because the Beatles wanted to play with THEM. Ugh, so wonderfully cringe.
I did write basically a self-insert fic inspired by Elfquest, however, where my friends and I ended up in the World of Two Moons. And it was for some silly English exercise for school. THe point is, I’m shocked that some grown adults have never accepted the fact that their teen selves were so damn awkward with their messy feelings and emotions.
I do have to laugh at this one Twitter meme I saw though. Ouch. Seriously. Ouch. LOL OUCH.
Let’s just take a moment to celebrate the fact that an Obi-Wan series starring Ewan McGregor exists (and hopefully will be better than Book of Boba Fett, because that show surely…was a show.) I’m also quite happy that the first trailer for the show has embraced Duel of the Fates for the banger it truly is.
I finally got to watch Spielberg’s West Side Story (available on both Disney + and HBO Max, thanks to the vagaries of streaming rights) and wow. Wow. WOW. WoW.
I am, as the parlance goes, a theater kid at heart, and yes, West Side Story is one of my favorites. The melody to America will probably be stuck in my head forever. The original 1961 movie version of the musical is also considered a classic and not to be messed with. Still, I was extremely excited to see another take on this titan of the Broadway stage. After all, theater is a living art form that gets reinterpreted and reinvented with the times. Despite some people’s misgivings about another film version of WSS, I really wanted this new version to do well. As beloved as the original is, it has some glaring flaws, like the brownface. Oh that brownface. Oh and that stomach-churning thing they did to Rita Moreno, who had to endure darkening makeup so she’d match with the rest of the “Puerto Ricans” even though she herself is Puerto Rican and pointed out that they could be light skinned too.
As I mentioned, theater is a living art form, open to interpretation by more than one creative mind. We don’t, after all, bemoan the fact that modern stagings of Shakespeare lack the glorious details of 16th century Elizabethan England. It’s silly to think that WSS can’t be touched, that it’s perfect as it is. Theater touches upon the emotional threads that we as humans experience, and we will still find new things to pull away from WSS even now.
The race war between the Jets and Sharks is given needed context in the new version. We see the titular West Side of Manhattan getting gentrified, working class folks being paid off for their apartments and pushed out in favor of progress. The gangs are fighting over scraps, little pieces of turf they could still call theirs, even when in a few years, none of what they call “home” will exist and Lincoln Center (of all things) will rise in its place.
So this is the backdrop where Spielberg’s version takes place. One of America’s greatest film directors takes on one of America’s best loved musicals and what a glorious result. I loved it. I loved the new version. I actually didn’t mind Ansel Elgort’s Tony, though he was the weakest out of the cast. I had expected Russell Crowe in Les Mis level of “singing” but he was pretty serviceable and held his own during the dance sequences. (There is a pall over his appearance, however, since I already knew about the sexual conduct allegations made about him.) But Rachel Zegler is a fucking delight as Maria, and I loved that “I Feel Pretty” is staged in Gimbal’s, as a group of Latina custodial workers take care to clean up the spoils of rich American life. Maria, in the throes of young love, play acts at being rich and it works.
Rita Moreno. My god. Rita Moreno. She plays a new character, Valentina, created just for her, as the voice of reason and empathy and compassion. She’s seen what can happen when cultures clash, and she’s helpless to stop the violence from happening again but she’ll still be there to help pick up the pieces. I loved her.
Another interesting add-on to the 2021 film is the re-framing of the character Anybodys. Once a tomboy who is dismissed by the rest of the Jets for being a girl who wants to be one of the boys, he’s now most definitely trans. He’s still an outsider who wants to be a part of the gang, but that need echoes a wider need for him to be accepted for who he is. He and Valentina serve as the moral compasses of the piece, even as emotions bubble over and there’s the inevitable deaths.
But, I love the entire cast, mostly because of the authentic casting. Ariana DeBose is an electric Anita, and probably the best actor out of the lot, as she juggles her wants of a better life for herself and her loved ones even as racists threaten to take all of that away. What I find most interesting is that because Spielberg cast the movie authentically (with actual Latino actors playing the Puerto Ricans), he’s lent his movie a timelessness that the original ’61 version lacks with its brownface. I also adore that the Latino characters slip in and out between English and Spanish so effortlessly (and no subtitles needed, I think. Audiences get the gist.). It also lends to the authenticity and timelessness.
So yes, Spielberg’s West Side Story is a welcome and wonderful addition to the pantheon of great movie musicals and should be watched. Preferably multiple times.
I’m trying to get a sense of the timeline. J and I had just returned from a week in L.A. Going to Disneyland and Gallifrey One (the Doctor Who con). We’d met up with some friends we hadn’t seen in two years, and that was wonderful. We returned on Monday evening, Feb. 21. I returned to work on the 23rd. I actually had to go into work early because I’m taking some virtual classes/career advancement training and I needed to go in the morning rather than doing my closing shifts. On the 24th, I went into work at 10am and came home around 7. Took a shower, had a light dinner, and went to play Horizon Forbidden West. Around 8:30pm, J’s dad told J that something was wrong with J’s mom. She sat on her couch and fell asleep (it seemed) and wasn’t responding to anything. The ambulance came, took her to the hospital that night. J’s dad followed in his car, J stayed with me at home. J’s dad returned from the hospital around 1 am. And that was that. J’s mom was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, placed on a ventilator. There was just too much blood to operate on her, and her advanced age was also a factor. Even if they did it, there was a very slim chance that she’d recover anyway.
And then on Mar. 1st, some part of her brain broke its connection to the body (not a full on seizure, but a spasm? is how it was described to me afterwards). At that point, her body could not breathe on its own, the ventilator was breathing for her, and she was technically brain dead. They called the family to the hospital (as I was not family, I stayed home) and they made the decision to pull the plug. And that was it.
The sense of relief from her passing is ebbing, and now it’s being replaced by that gaping void that dead people leave behind. I really do wish we had more time with her. She was a wonderful woman, when her brain didn’t betray her and turn her into a raging monster. I had written her off when, a couple of years ago, she effectively ruined J’s birthday by complaining about the hush puppy J had given her after making a batch of chicken katsu. She suddenly snapped, angry that he’d given her bread instead of meat, unaware that she’d already finished off her chicken cutlet (and also shared a lot of it with the dog). She also was the woman who opened her house to me when I needed a place to stay, without requiring me to pay an exorbitant amount of rent, just utilities and high-speed internet.
I won’t lie, there were many times in the course of her life where I’d wished her dead, that when she was gone, everything would be better. I wouldn’t have to use earplugs at night anymore. I wouldn’t have to clench my stomach every time I came home from work, terrified that she’d be in the middle of one of her hours-long rants. And that’s where my relief comes from. But now she is gone, and the house is quieter, and I still feel loss.
Now, to deal with all the things she left behind. She had a penchant for buying things from catalogs, ill-fitting sweaters and oversized jeans, jackets and all manner of strange gadgets which supposedly make one’s life better. She’d purchase them, then never use them. Then sometimes forget she bought them when they arrived, then became angry at the companies which sent her these items that she never chose in the first place. It’s all the detritus of living nearly a century. And now it’s all just useless…stuff.
Another holiday season in the rear-view. Shoutout to my fellow retail worker warriors who had to navigate a normal buying season during a time when nothing was normal, juggling overtime hours and understaffed schedules and also trying to still make quotas. Many Americans seem to think that the pandemic is over and that it should be business as usual. Y’all are dumbasses.
I will not miss the constant questions of how long to cook our food for (it’s all precooked so you can reheat to 165 degrees however you wish, think how you’d reheat leftovers). I will not miss the phone calls to our front of house phone demanding to know if they can still order dinners because “it says sold out online and I was wondering if I could still order from you directly”. Each store was given an allotment of dinners to sell and we can’t sell any more. A ham recall severely curtailed the number of orders we could fulfill.
Shoutout to the person who ordered a $165 platter of sushi and never picked it up on Thanksgiving. We at the store appreciated that. Maybe there was a reason. There’s always a reason but I hope it wasn’t just that they forgot about it. Because if you can just brush that off if it were nothing then…I wish I had that amount of money.
For all the weirdness I will also remember the good. I’ll remember the customer who called asking if we still had our vegan gravy in stock because they’d called all over and no other WF store had them. I said that we had 1 tub left and I could pull it from the fridge for them if they’d come over (also we had more of our vegan gravy on our hot bar). So it was nice to help out someone like that.
Anyway, Happy Merry. But I’m so glad this year is almost over.
This morning I put a couple of slices of leftover pizza on the stove in a skillet in order to heat them up. I usually do it in the toaster oven but I was in a hurry. Had to catch an early screening of Encanto. Anyway, I walked out of the kitchen for a few minutes to allow the pizza to heat up. When I returned to my breakfast, one slice had gone missing from the pan. J’s mom was sitting at the table, munching on a slice of pizza. Not a word to me. And I was too tired to mention anything (what do you say to someone whom you’re suspecting is teetering from normal forgetfulness to dementia?) so I just tossed another slice of pizza in the pan.
Like, I would’ve happily shared the pizza if she’d asked. Sometimes I imagine that she dosn’t even notice I’m here. My workdays keep me out of the house until 10pm so I suppose it’s an out of sight, out of mind thing.
I’m just thinking about how much it felt like a scene from a bad sitcom. Mother-in-law steals piece of pizza from harried daughter-in-law. Hilarity ensues. *cue laugh track*
I need to find the humor in it because the real truth is that her mind is slipping and no one wants to do a damn thing about it. What did she think was the origins of the pizza? That she put it on the stove herself? That the pizza fairy decided to gift her with free hot pizza?
So yeah…now I’m going to use the toaster oven no matter what. Damn the time constraints. She’s never used the toaster oven for anything so whatever I cook in there will be mine.
I finished watching Netflix’s live-action version of Cowboy Bebop, and…I didn’t hate it! In fact, there were many many things that I enjoyed about it, which really outweighed any misgivings I had at the beginning. Cowboy Bebop is one of my favorite anime series. It’s many people’s gateway into the genre, but i sometimes think that it’s exactly the wrong title for this. Nothing else is quite like Cowboy Bebop, a show as eclectic as the jazz form pieces which partially inspired it. It has elements of noir, western, sci-fi, kung-fu, comedy, and tragedy. If you want shows like Cowboy Bebop, you won’t find them. No other show even comes close to being what Bebop was. And now, there’s a live-action version of it. I, like many others, had hated the idea of live action Bebop at first. There are many things about really good animation which can’t be duplicated in any other medium. So I’m glad that the 2021 version has decided to go for something new.
Good lord, I think the new one hits all of the suggestions I gave. The egotistical side of me wonders whether some of the production team actually read my ramblings and decided to address every one, to great effect. Probably not but it’s nice to think about.
Yes, this is not a shot by shot remake of the anime. It doesn’t have to be. The anime already exists. It is not perfect. I sort of love that the new show takes some of the details from the original and redoes them into something new. A remix. Gren, a character whose gender was framed as horror in the original (It’s really clear that the storyline was influenced by the “shocking” twist in The Crying Game), is now a proud (and GORGEOUS) queer, and their queerness has nothing to do with their storyline. Characters who were white are now POC. It’s effortlessly diverse, from the main cast, down to the background characters and I adore it. Faye might even have gotten herself a hot mechanic girlfriend and I’m all for that. Faye is even the one who saves the guys’ asses in the finale.
Julia, once the Femme Fatale who felt only like a prize to be won in the original, is given agency in the new version. She even might be more ruthless than Vicious. I’m not a Vicious fan by any means. I think his story was the weakest in the Netflix show. But I do appreciate giving him a backstory and reasons why he’s the way he is. (even if it feels more like the Malfoys at times.) Faye’s backstory seems even more poignant when seen in live-action, at least to me. Watching a pre-teen Faye cheering on her future self, it…it just punched me in the feels in a way that the anime didn’t. Maybe I’m a monster. Don’t know. I am all for Jet as an absent father trying to do right by his daughter. It just feels so Jet, who has always been the father figure for the crew. Mufasa Shakir as has the Jet voice down pat.
But this adaptation rests on its Spike and Jesus Christ John Cho delivers. He IS Spike Spiegel. He’s snarky and cocksure and pained and haunted. He is the one putting on a brave front while protecting his broken heart. Always a few steps ahead of his past and yet always looking back. (As an aside, I’m a little sad that Spike’s speech about his fake eye which only sees the past is not present in the new version. But I’m nitpicking. Not every beloved detail has to get translated into live action). It’s ridiculous that it took 20 years for John Cho to become a romantic/action/sci-fi lead but it works goddamn it and I’m thankful I’m alive to witness it. I remember back in the day, when rumbling of a live-action Bebop first came bubbling up, that Keanu Reeves was being considered. Which is FINE but I’m so grateful we got John Cho instead.
I also sorta dig how more connected this universe is. Ein has a literal one to Pierre LeFou. I’m fascinated that they switched out his fear of cats in the anime to fear of dogs, and Ein might have the traumatic memories of LeFou. (Also Faye’s reaction to LeFou’s message to Spike is wonderful and I love Faye.) My heart was only slightly disappointed that the climactic battle for this story wasn’t in a gigantic amusement park. Only a rinky-dink one, but it made ABSOLUTE SENSE that LeFou would remember this sad little park as his only happiness. It makes his regression to childhood so much more tragic. (Also, his read of the “Mommy it hurts!” line is another punch in the gut moment that hits harder in live-action than animation.)
Then there’s the Edward in the room. Yes, Ed’s intro is pure Ed! Ed talking a mile a minute and only making sense about half the time. There’s truth in the ramblings, but you have to clear-headed in order to hear it, and since our POV character for this is Spike (and he seems to be in the middle of a weeklong bender after the finale events and in no shape to understand much of anything) Ed comes across as grating and weird and cartoonish. But guess what? Ed IS grating and weird and cartoonish. The goofy tonal shifts is also very Bebop, and I’m actually looking forward to seeing more of Ed and also Ed plus Faye!
So, yes, I enjoyed it, and I understand why some might not. It IS a very well done fan film. But I woudn’t say that that’s a bad thing neccessarily. Better a fan film than a piece of work that completely misunderstood the original. (Hey live-action GiTS, I’m talking about you!) The Netflix series definitely comes from a place of love and reverence for the original. Them going out of their way to get Yoko Kanno to compose new music for the series cements that for me. And my take is, if live-action versions of anime must exist (and in this age of CONTENT, it must) then Cowboy Bebop is the best of the lot by far. I liked it. A lot. So there.
In an effort to make the most use out of my library card, even when I don’t really have time to go to the library, I’ve been using the Libby app to check out e-books and read them on my Kindle. Or at least I’ve been trying to. Work has been difficult lately. 5 coworkers out on leave at basically the same time meant that I’ve been doing 6 day work weeks for the past month or so. The extra money on every paycheck is kind of nice but the tiredness I’ve felt is astronomical. Anyway, my brain is gravitating back towards a mindset of “well you’re not enjoying a lot of the other things that usually make you happy so why not read more?”. And at least with reading I can sit down and read a chapter in about 10 or 15 minutes (according to my Kindle reading rate anyway) and I can budget my time very easily. My first dive into borrowing an e-book is Jo Koy’s memoir, Mixed Plate.
I think, as a first gen Filipino-American, I’m predisposed to like Jo Koy. It’s in our cultural DNA to celebrate any Filipino who becomes successful. I first heard of Jo Koy when he said how much he loved Zippy’s when he was on tour and doing a gig in Hawai’i. Ahaha, I thought, a plate lunch expert. I like it. The more I looked into his career, the more I responded. Here was a man, half-Filipino, who took the cultural specificity of growing up Filipino in America and turned it into relatable comedy.
also this video where he jokes about the ubiquity of Toyota Tacomas in Hawai’i.
What I didn’t realize was how much of a hustle trying to become a POC comedian became. Begging his mom to get HBO so he could study the greats. Making his own way in the comedy world because no one could figure out how to market him so he had to do it all himself. Doing open mics and gaining a reputation in Vegas. His Comedy Central breakout special and all that came afterward. It’s a Filipino story. It’s an American story. And I sort of love him for recording his own life in such a frank, candid, and laugh-out-loud funny way. For, as much as his mom and the rest of his family are a part of his act, he’s kept a large part of his personal life hidden from public scrutiny. His brother Robert, diagnosed with schizophrenia and always drifting in and out of the family view. Jo Koy idolized his cool older brother until mental illness took everything he ever loved about him and replaced it with a violent stranger. The nightly fights to try to calm Robert down took a toll on the family. Jo Koy’s biological father left the house one night after a particularly bad fight and never came back. It’s harrowing to read the passages about Robert, and it got me to thinking about the stuff all families try to hide from the world. It was relatable, everything was relatable. His relationship with his hard-working Filipino mom, who had to raise 3 kids (plus the one who bumped in and out of mental institutions and jail for decades) on her own and the toll it took. Resiliency is an immigrant trait, and I see shades of my own mom in Jo Koy’s mom, which, I guess goes for all Filipino moms.
And to imagine that if this one person could make it, achieve his dream, and try to make his family’s life better as a result, we then, I think there’s a lot of hope for the rest of us.