What I’ve been doing …

What I’ve been reading …

  • Real World by Natuso Kirino

This was the last one of the physical library books I had checked out (since before the pandemic). Real World is an interesting novel about four teenage girls who get, by choice or by accident, involved with a teenage boy who killed his mother. It is a pretty deep look into what it’s like to be a teenager and trying to figure out your identity and a huge reminder that actions have consequences.

  • Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang

I absolutely loved this book! While on the surface, this novel is about living on Mars – it is so much more. It’s a book about humanity, about how ignoring the past does no one any favors and nor does avoiding the future. It’s about changing, it’s about finding your place in the world, and it’s about the importance of communication. I highly recommend this novel.

What I’ve been watching …

Movies:

  • Birds of Prey (HBO Max)
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (TNT/Hulu)
  • Casino Royale (Netflix)

Did some movie rewatches with my sister.

Birds of Prey was the second to last movie I saw before the pandemic (the last movie was Jojo Rabbit on my birthday) and it is even better the second time around. I have to admit that DC does female superheros so much better than Marvel. I hold out hope after Captain Marvel, but still – give Birds of Prey a watch, even if you’ve seen no other DC movies.

I still absolutely love The Man from U.N.C.L.E. I know a lot of people did like it, but it is perfectly cast and beautifully filmed and executed. As for the James Bond film – it’s … dark James Bond. I remember enjoying it a lot more when I saw it the first time. As I said to my sister, Daniel Craig’s James Bond reminds me a lot of Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor.

TV

  • Devs (Hulu) – This is by Alex Garland (of Ex Machina and Annihilation fame) and it is fantastic. Well – I thought it was fantastic. The reviewers are sort of in the middle about it, but I disagree. It’s eight episodes long and extremely gripping. It’s the story of Lily, who, along with her boyfriend, works at a tech company (think Facebook/Google/etc). One day, her boyfriend starts working for the Devs division of the company and ends up dead. The show is mostly about her tried to figure out what happened, but it’s also science fiction-y (more fantasy, but I’m giving it a pass). It has the surreal feel that Garland is so good at. Please, give it a watch.

I’m still watching Memorist and I’ve started Untamed. As for what English language TV shows I’m watching? I’m struggling to find something that clicks with me as much as Devs did and not finding anything. For now, tennis and cycling are filling the gap that an English language TV show would normally fill.

YouTube

Yes, I’m going to do it even though no one asked. Occasionally (or whenever I feel like it) I’m going to recommend a YouTube channel, video series, or whatever I feel falls under this category. So, let’s start it off in style!

Jill writes about fights in media (movies, TV shows, etc) using her experiences stage combat/fake fighting to discuss what works and what doesn’t work in many a fight. All of her videos are fantastic, but the one I would like to highlight today is about The Princess Bride. I hope you enjoy the video (and why not rewatch the movie while you’re at it (it is currently on Amazon Prime after all).

What I’ve been listening to ….

Not a lot recently, mostly because this past week I’ve been watching/listening to more sports than music. Once the Tour and the US Open are over, I’ll go back to listening to lots more music.

  • OnlyOneOf – KPOP band who just released two EPs
  • Davii – Korean rapper/singer/soloist
  • DAMYE – Korean singer
  • Maddox – Korean singer

Here’s your moment of calm:

Morning on the Dune (c) Tom Gill

Weekend Reads: 9/4/2020

Over the past week I have spent a lot of time watching sports – it’s a very weird feeling, because we’re in the middle of a pandemic but at the same time it’s a comfort. I’ve watched my favorite tennis player win on Monday and then lose, two days later (as he is prone to do) and have watched most of the first week of the 2020 Tour de France (I missed the first stage on August 30th).

Sports during a pandemic, as we all know, are strange. In particular because the Tour is in August/September instead of July, there are far fewer fans than normal (and those that are watching the race are almost all masked), and the riders are almost universally masked when not actively riding their bikes on the stage. It is strange because at the US Open there are no fans (aside from fellow tennis players, coaches, and the occasional family member and journalist), they are pumping in crowd sounds when there’s no action on the court, and displaying video screens with videos of fans cheering. It is unnerving, but it is also the world we live in.

I know it’s important to find comfort in familiar things when the world is burning around us, but we must not forget the fact that the world is on fire.

I wrote some original fiction for July’s Camp Nano (an offshoot of NanoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month) and, because I am always drawn to write post-apocalyptic stories, that’s what I wrote. It’s set about 30 after this pandemic, ten years after flooding (due to climate change) destroys much of the planet. My main character was born this year and she looks back at the pandemic and is appalled at the 200,000 deaths.

When I wrote that story, it was in July and it seemed we were doing better and maybe we wouldn’t reach that dreaded number of 200,000 people needlessly dying from COVID-19. It turns out that should I ever edit that novel and turn it into something that will see the light of day, I’ll have to adjust that section.

Why? Because it is highly likely that we have already passed that 200,000 death mark:

I am luckily, so far I have lost no immediately family members to the virus, but I know people who have. I am not alone, of course, but we need to remember that every one of those 200,000 deaths were deaths of human beings. Individual people. They are both statistics and more than just numbers.

Never forget that responsibility for each and every single one of those people’s deaths from COVID-19 lies squarely on the shoulders of the current administration in the White House. They could have saved lives, they chose to end them instead.

Last weekend, Detroit held a beautiful memorial/funeral for the thousands of Detroit residents who died from COVID-19:

What do 900+ people look like? They look beautiful. They are a reminder of everything we, and this country, have had stolen from us. Artist Eric Millikin created the mural below to represent all that we have lost:

So, as you’re enjoying your three day weekend, watching sports, and enjoying the nice weather – don’t forget what’s going on in the world. Don’t forget that 200,000 people in the United States have died. Don’t forget that you can help stop this virus.

Now, for the rest of your weekend reads:

When the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shows up at a peaceful protest in battle fatigues, it’s time to pay attention. (The Atlantic – $$)

At the Republican National Convention, Trump advisor Larry Kudlow said the pandemic “was awful.” On this week’s On the Media, why some politicians and educators are using the past tense to describe an active threat. Plus, how COVID could prompt long-term changes to American higher ed.

The acclaimed novelist lost her beloved husband—the father of her children—as COVID-19 swept across the country. She writes through their story, and her grief.

And, on the occasion of the loss of Chadwick Boseman to cancer:

Rahawa Haile considers how, by sliding between the real and unreal, Black Panther frees us to imagine the possibilities — and the limitations — of an Africa that does not yet exist.

And, lastly, enjoy this superbly choreographed dance by The Kinjaz.

Self-Care Friday (Week 5)

Sorry, this one is late due to many things.

Last week I talked about watching some musicals and one of those was Annie Get Your Gun. I knew, going in, that this musical was not a great one. I also expected it to be racist and sexist, but I honestly didn’t really know what I was in for. You can read my full review over on Letterboxd, but suffice to say that I pretty much only gave it one star because I like some of the songs.

Anyway, onto the actual, fun things.

What I’ve Been Reading:

  • Reader Harder:
    • Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel: The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles
  • Completed:
    • Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indriðason (audio book on CD)
  • Reading:
    • Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
    • The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu (audio book – on hold)
    • Chapelwood: the Borden dispatches by Cherie Priest
    • Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino
    • Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews
    • One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire (audio book)

What I’m watching:

The most recent two episodes of Voice have gotten really intense. There are only two more left. I can’t wait to find out what happens.

  • Voice (Korean drama)
  • Tokyo Tarareba Musume (Japanese drama)
  • Totsuzen Desu ga, Ashita Kekkon Shimasu (Japanese drama)
  • Cabaret
  • Camelot

What I’m listening to:

  • Women of Fresh Finds (Spotify Playlist)
  • Blade Runner OST
  • Arrival OST
  • Perfume – Tokyo Girl (theme to Tokyo Tarareba Musume)

  • Subin

And her new song:

 

C6jwPndXAAAggT4

This is Kihyun, of the boy group Monsta X. They are one of my favorite groups and coming back soon. I’m going to try to include pictures of some kind, from now on, that make me happy. This teaser photo of Kihyun is one of those images! Look forward (maybe … you may not be doing that, actually, but shhh) to more (probably kpop related) photos. 

Falling in Love with Robots

Notes: There are spoilers for basically everything I mention in here, but if you haven’t watched Big Hero 6, you may want to skip that section, which is toward the end.

In college, we had to do a big senior thesis project and I did mine on what it means to be human — if you’re not actually human. Among other media, I wrote about Blade Runner and Marge Piercy’s novel, He She & It and in both of those novels, there are characters who fall in love with robots (androids/etc) and I find this to be endlessly interesting. I’m not exactly sure why, but I seem drawn to this theme. I’ve written a couple of short stories along these themes and somehow end up reading/watching shows with this same theme.

A year or so (maybe more?) ago I watched a good (though not great) Japanese drama called Q10. Takeru Sato plays a teenager who falls in love with a robot-girl named Q10. I actually really loved the show up until the end (which was really dumb, but if you want to watch it, I recommend the show). I like the idea that in spite of the fact that Q10 isn’t actually human (as in flesh and blood), Takeru Sato’s character still falls in love with her. The same applies to the main character of He She & It (which everyone should read). The novel takes place in a far flung future where Shira falls in love with an android named Yod. But, like most of these stories, the love cannot ever really be. This is also true for Deckard in Blade Runner (the movie — the novel is a different issue).

Loving robots is never easy or acceptable — unless the universe you create makes it so. The friend who recommended Death Note to me also recommended a lovely manga series named Chobits which is about a young man who falls in love with Chi, an android. I really loved this series, so I’m not sure if my review can be unbiased (though is it supposed to be?) because I think that as soon as I knew what the story was about, I was going to like it. While Chobits is about more than just Hideki and Chi’s friendship and eventual relationship, it’s really central to the storyline. Like He She & It, there are two stories within the manga. In Piercy’s novel, Shira’s grandmother  (one of Yod’s creator) is telling Yod the story of the golem of the Warsaw ghetto as a parallel to his existence in Shira’s world. In Chobits, one of Chi’s creators is telling Chi’s story to her in the guise of a children’s book.

I find these parallels compelling for two reasons, one because creators take an interest in their creation — you see this in Blade Runner and, a little bit, at the end of Q10 (when you find out why the robot exists). But also because it gives the androids history and background, perhaps not of their creation, but a history that they can relate to. Yod’s not made of mud and Chi cannot remember her life before Hideki found her, but the stories they’re told define them all the same.

But as much as I love these stories about humans falling in love with robots/androids, it does ruin me for other things. For example, a few weeks ago I watched Big Hero 6 and when I should’ve loved it, I didn’t like it at all. There’s nothing wrong with the movie, not really, but instead I disliked the way the movie treated Baymax at the end of the movie. One of the things talked about in Chobits is the idea that the androids in that world can be reset and there’s character who fell in love with an android and she basically dies. Her husband (they were married), instead of having her reset, decides to treat her like you would a human and allows her to die without coming back. He doesn’t care that she could, in theory, have had all of their shared memories because he’d know she wasn’t the same. Hideki, toward the end of the series, has to decide if he really loves Chi and he has this same through process.

How does this relate to Big Hero 6i? Well, at the end of the movie Baymax sacrifices himself to save people’s live, including our main character, Hiro. It was clear that Hiro loved Baymax (who belonged to Hiro’s late, beloved brother) as if he was a real person (as far as a cartoon aimed at kids can go with that theme) and so when Baymax died, I was really, really upset. Even though I knew he probably wasn’t going to stay dead — and he doesn’t. In fact, we see that he passes along his chip full of memories to Hiro so that he doesn’t even die at all. Except to me, I felt cheated. You killed off this character who was an important character and who had developed into something of a person. Why kill him off at all? I know that I read too much into it and I shouldn’t care, but it’s hard not to when there’s this whole genre out there that I adore so much.

That being said, Big Hero 6 isn’t bad and everyone should watch it. I just hated it for very personal reasons.

And, with that, I’ll take any recommendations for people falling in love with robots/androids novels! And maybe one day I’ll finish reading David Levy’s book Love + Sex with Robots.

Kpop: Guilty Pleasures (or Why It’s Okay to Like Big Bang)

My history with kpop (aka Korean pop music, for those of you new around here) is short and full of 180s. The group that drew me in (Super Junior) is no longer a group I pay much attention to (save one or two of its’ members). The music I used to listen to (by SJ, ss501 and others) changed from the straight up boy band sounds (akin to Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC). I’ve only been a fan of kpop since October of 2011 (just over a year at the time of writing this entry) and the change from the generic boy band sounds to what I like now was a gradual process. If I took some time, I could probably even tell you when things changed, but that’s way more effort than I’m willing to expend.

It really started when I, for whatever reason, started listening to a group called CN Blue. The group is made up of four idols (popstars) who play their own instruments, but are in many ways just like the rest of the boy bands out there. What sets them apart, aside from the fact that they’re an actual band, is that their music isn’t just limited to four voices singing in unison most of the time. Once I realized how much I liked CN Blue, the more I couldn’t go back to the groups where every song sounds the same (I’m only exaggerating a little). I do want to say that there’s nothing wrong with liking boybands and the pop music they present. It was a nice gateway drug for me and I have no regrets. It was just time for me to move on.

And that moving on eventually led me to Big Bang. But first I need to back up a little. When I discovered that kpop existed, everyone was into Big Bang. They were this annoying group with this guy who had teal hair and I was having none of it. I ignored posts about them, I decided that I would never like this group and … well, that should’ve been a sign. But I ignored it. It wasn’t until the spring of this year (after my friend H discovered the wonders if Running Man) that I began to fall under the spell of Big Bang.

I could talk to you about how attractive some of the members are (and they are). I could discuss how much I love their music (a lot). I could even talk about how ridiculous the shows they’ve been on (as a group, in pairs or by themselves) have been. But I won’t. Instead I’ll tell you that I refused to like them. Even after watching their two (hilarious) episodes on Running Man, I refused. I don’t like them, I said. They’re kind of cute, but that’s it. I’ll tell you how I started waiting IRIS (and not-very-good-though-everyone-loves-it-but-me kdrama) not because of Big Bang’s rapper, TOP (no, really, are you saying you don’t believe me?) but because I wanted to watch it since everyone was talking about how awesome it was (it wasn’t, I can’t even bring myself to review it).

And then I can tell you that the true downward slide began when I started listening to Kang Dae Sung (aka Daesung aka my favorite person in Big Bang).  There’s something incredible about his voice. I can usually pick out his part in Big Bang songs, but I love his solo stuff the best (I want him to release a solo album, please). It was his newest song, Wings, that really won me over. It was the beginning of the end. I’ve come a long way. I own some Big Bang albums, I’m waiting for some DVDs and I have no regrets (again). They’re not really a guilty pleasure anymore (as they were when I started writing this entry over 6 months ago. Mostly they’re my favorite kpop group.

Enjoy Daesung singing Wings:

Back after a long absence.

Mao-The-Real-StoryI know, it’s been a while, but I’m back. I’ve scheduled a few posts that I’d written, but not posted, so keep an eye out for those over the next week or so. I do want to try to keep posting here regularly, so here’s my attempt at trying this again. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this up.

Currently reading: Mao: The Real Story by Alexander Pantsov and Steven I. Levine

I’m not very far into it, maybe 30 pages or so, but it’s pretty good. I photoed copied the pronunciation guide from the beginning of the book because I kept flipping back as I was reading. This’ll save both time and the book itself (I also, of course, made a copy for H, who is reading the book as well).

Music I’ve been listening to: Big Bang, 乔任梁 (Kimi Qiao), Céu, 方大同 (Khalil Fong), 周定緯 (Judy Chou), 許仁杰 (Stanly Hsu) and 潘裕文 (Pan Yu Wen).

It’s mostly Mandopop, with a couple others stuck in there. I’m awfully predictable.

What I’m watching: Time Between Dog and Wolf (kdama), Nice Guy (kdrama) and rewatching Story of a Man/A Man’s Story (kdrama). I’ve also watched The Hobbit (it was okay and yes, it was just okay).

And now, some links of note:

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Wednesday Nights: kdramas, martinis and Running Man

Starting the week after Christmas (last year), my friend (I’ll call her H) and I started hanging out on Wednesdays. We’ve been doing this every Wednesday (except for three: we missed one due to a family emergency and two due to illnesses) since that week after Christmas and it’s a lot of fun. It started out with us meeting at my job and going out to eat, then spending hours in Barnes & Noble. But after my bad experience with acquiring a signed copy of John Green’s A Fault in Our Stars (B&N never did send it and it’s still on my account), we stopped going there and instead spent time all our time at Starbucks. Until the day we decided to watch episodes of Rooftop Prince  (watch for free at DramaFever) together. We managed to watch one and a half episodes one week and then the wireless at Starbucks just couldn’t handle it. What did we do? Started going to my apartment.

One of the things I really love about getting into kpop/Korean culture/etc is that I’ve ended up developing a really great friendship with H. I forgot how awesome it was to watch TV shows with other people — in the same place (my sister and I watch Star Trek via Netflix and chat online at the same time, but it’s not quite the same). I used to do this all the time in college. We never went out Friday nights, because that’s when X-Files was on (yes, I was in college in the late 90s). And it’s so much fun to be able to do this again.

photo via soulbeats

We’re almost done with Rooftop Prince (by the time this gets posted, we should have hopefully finished it) and then who knows what we’ll be watching. But it’s not just kdramas we’re into. We spend a lot of time talking/fangirling/just generally having fun. But we also plan to watch some Chinese movies. Though at the moment, we’re both really into this variety show called Running Man. It’s so hilarious that sometimes I laugh so hard that my face hurts. There’s just something about Korean variety shows that makes them way more interesting than anything on English speaking TV (I mean, my reality TV shows in English are stuff like Mythbusters, Top Gear, etc).

I know what you’re thinking, what about the martinis? We both realized that spending so much money eating out and getting drinks was costing us and solved by making our own martinis. We don’t do it every week, but it’s fun. Especially since my mom gave us a recipe for the pineapple upside down martinis.

Moral of this entry? Hanging out with H, watching Korean (or Chinese or American or WHATEVER) is way more fun than doing it alone. I didn’t know I was missing this until we started and I didn’t realize how much I needed this every week until my family emergency. The best part is that we’re both doing something that’s fun and sharing what we love. There might be other problems in our lives, but at least we have our Wednesdays (at sometimes Thursdays. Or Fridays. Or Saturdays. Or Sundays ….).

Friday Links (are relevant to my interests)

I kind of hope this’ll become a weekly feature, but I’m just testing it out at the moment. The topics will change, from week to week, and so will the format, maybe (at first). But anyway, here goes.

Let’s get this party started …

Not that there’s a party to get started, but it’s about time I started blogging about libraries, books, and everything else I adore. I suppose I should do an introductory post first, so I guess this is it. I’m not entirely sure who is going to read this (if anyone at all, to be quite honest, but that’s okay — even if it’s just my sister reading (hi sis!), I’ll survive).

Hello, my name’s Sarah and I’m addicted to the internet. And also to books, Asian pop (mostly mandopop and kdramas at the moment) movies, tv shows and doing my job well. I know, that’s a lot to take in. And yes, before you ask, I am on Facebook (maybe I’ll link you, maybe not). I’m also on tumblr, twitter, LJ and a bunch of other sites — but no, you don’t get that info (unless you know me personally, and even then you are subject to my whims). Eventually there’ll be aclockworksub everywhere. I hope. If I don’t slack off like I totally did the last time.

So what else do you need to know about me? Oh, I don’t know. You can find out more in the about me section, but what you should know is that I like to read. No, scrap that. I love to read. That’s not, of course, why I became a librarian — but it’s definitely something that’s really helpful when you’re a librarian. One of my favorite things about being a librarian (teen and adult) is reader’s advisory. If you’re new to libraries, that means I get to help you figure out what to read next. And I love it, especially if you’re into or interested in getting into teen/ya books (I firmly believe that adult can and should read the shit out of YA — yes, the books are that good).

In my free time I watch a lot of TV (thank you Netflix and DramaFever), but I also watch some movies. I’m really lucky because I have three friends (two in the library world) who love to go see movies with me. Which explains how someone who doesn’t like the Twilight series has seen all the movies. Seriously. I have. I’ll write about that someday, too. I’ve also seen loads of bad stuff (seriously, who thought that Red Riding Hood was a good idea?), but it’s fun.

So, what’s the point of this blog? To write about shit. Lots of shit. YA books, bad movies and all sorts of stuff I love (and hate). Why? Because it’s time I did it again. Will I be able to keep it up? Probably not. But, hey, why the hell not?