Media Log 2019

This year, I was inspired by my friend Ben Hong (who himself got the idea from Jen Myers) to track nearly all of the media I consumed, as a supplement to my movies and books recap. As I’ll be resetting the Media Log page on this blog, here is what I logged in 2019.Read More »

My TV Habit

For Lent in 2014, I gave up television.  (With a few exceptions.) Television has been a habit of mine since I was very young. Even without cable, I would spend hours watching PBS in the mornings, napping after lunch, and then watching hours of UPN and the WB. (Looking back on it, it is a little strange that I watched so much Barney & Friends and Martin! I guess.) My entire day was structured by my shows, and maybe that is where my intense need to stick to a schedule comes from.

At the back of my mind, I knew I watched too much television. (My parents would tell me so. Often.) In college, my TV consumption was reduced because I didn’t have a TV to mindlessly watch in my dorm room. My TV habit changed. I found myself furiously “catching up” on my shows on the weekends. Given that I spent a lot of time with campus organizations, this meant late nights and stolen nights to myself spent with my headphones on and streaming shows.

So. Many. Shows.

It was overwhelming and got to the point where I was begging for shows to end. (I’m so grateful that How I Met Your Mother finally ended, even though I was infuriated by the ending.) (But can Big Bang Theory stop already??) Catching up on shows started feeling like a chore, but I am so bad at quitting things that I kept watching. “I hate this stupid show!” I would shout while angrily tuning in to ABC every Sunday at 7PM EST.

Today… I don’t watch too many shows. I watch three HBO shows, which is definitely very different from how I used to watch television, given that I used to watch exclusively network television shows and thought paying for a premium channel was bonkers. I occasionally watch a Netflix show. (Have you watched season 2 of Master of None yet I really want to talk to people about the achievements in film that Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang have accomplished with it!) (But I haven’t finished yet…)

I feel so free. And a bit unfamiliar to myself. Who is this person who isn’t watching shows every day, or a week’s worth of shows in a day or two? I’m not sure, but I think I like her better than who I was before, watching hours and hours of television every day. I know that I don’t watch as much TV now because I just have other things to do with that time, and I’m really glad for it. I have never been one for idle time, but that is how my parents often saw my TV time – valuable minutes and hours that I was wasting away with my eyes glued to a screen.

In any case, if you want to talk to me about any shows, the ones I am keeping up with at the moment are:

  • Master of None season 2 (still working through this one, as its nice to savor and easy to not-binge)
  • Silicon Valley
  • Westworld
  • Game of Thrones

There are shows I want to revisit and catch up on, but honestly, since Ash Wednesday 2014, I am really behind on most of my shows. I never finished The Legend of Korra! But I get so overwhelmed even thinking about going back and trying to pick up where I left off, and even more overwhelmed thinking about starting from the beginning. And that’s just one of the unfinished shows I have.

Maybe part of why I see everything through rather than cut my losses is partially because how I watched TV. But I’m different now, and if I can watch less TV and be happier for it… I am hopeful about the other positive changes I can make in my life. Like exercising more. And eating fewer potato chips.


What shows are you keeping up with right now? Anything I should start getting into?

Are there any shows you actively quit watching? There is a show that I complained about all the time but kept watching, week after week. Ben had to tell me to just stop watching, but I still feel myself getting pulled in… It’s been hard to resist!

March Favorites

With spring kicking off in March, I have a rather long post for you all this month. Lots of good things going on is a good sign, right?

7 Minute Workout [App]

I’ve been trying to find ways to make it easier for me to commit to fitness. Right now, I’m really enjoying the 7 Minutes app (I use this one on Google Play, but there are many that have slightly different UIs and several available on iTunes as well). I picked this one over some other popular ones (like Nike’s N+TC) because I don’t need any equipment for the exercises as 7 Minute uses only body weight exercises.

Cover art

If you’re unfamiliar with tabata or circuit/interval training, the default 7 Minutes workout involves 13 different workouts that you do for 30 seconds each with 10 seconds of rest in-between. The science backing this workout says that intense bursts of activity followed by shorter intervals of rest are super effective in working your muscles, and you’re able to maximize the benefits of exercise in only 7 minutes.

As someone who often has a hard time committing to fitness regimens that aren’t a paid-for group class, finding 7 minutes to do something, no matter how painful those 7 minutes may be, seems much more doable than doing half an hour of exercise three times a week. I am trying to do as many days in a row as I can without taking breaks while completing one circuit, since the app tracks how many days in a row you’ve done the exercises, how far into the exercises you got, how many times (if any) you paused, and how many days of exercise you’ve done in the past 30 days. If you’re a fan of the “Don’t Break the Chain” method of forming habits popularized by Jerry Seinfeld, you’ll love that feature.

7 Minute Workout - screenshot

(Images from Google Play store)

Misfit [app]

Along the same vein, my boyfriend and I recently decided to give fitness trackers a try. Not wanting to commit a lot, we found one of the most affordable options out there: the Misfit Flash, which is a lower-end tracker made by the folks who also make the Misfit Shine. The tracker itself is whatever to me: it’s made of cheaper materials but gets the job done and has an option for you to clip it or wear it on your wrist.

The app is what I like. The UI is really nice, although I wish the Android one was as nice/robust as the iOS one. I can connect it to RunKeeper, for the handful of times I decide to run, and MyFitnessPal, because I understand that being aware of what I eat is really important to my overall fitness.

Misfit - screenshot

You earn “points” for your physical activity (so mostly for walking, as it counts your steps) and I like the social element if only so I can compete with my boyfriend. One thing I also like is that it shows how you rank with the average males/females using the app. “Missfit” is on my leaderboard and I think that’s a neat feature.

Also, we really wanted to look into sleep tracking. I used a sleep tracking app, but I don’t like keeping my phone on my bed, so this is a nice alternative. It has issues as far as not being able to track naps, not tracking if you wake up and go back to sleep, if you have irregular sleep hours, etc., but it’s a nice way to get more data about my sleep habits. And I’m all about dat data.

Misfit - screenshot

(Images from Google Play store)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 

I usually don’t watch super trendy shows (see: Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, etc.), usually because I don’t know about them when they premiere and then because I feel like I am being peer-pressured to start watching it. (Looking at you, Doctor Who and the Tumblr propaganda that eventually got me to watch.) This definitely applies to Netflix shows, because I don’t really like the idea of sitting down and binge-watching a season of a show the day it is released to the public. (See: why I don’t watch House of Cards despite the fact that, as a show about DC, I have friends who can be seen as extras.)

When Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was announced a short while back, I fully intended to not watch it. I like Tina Fey (the producer) and all, but I didn’t watch 30 Rock, I’m not a die-hard Tina Fey fan, I don’t feel anything about Ellie Kemper or Jane Krakowski, the premise was quirky but not enough where I felt really compelled to watch it… I just didn’t really have any motive to watch. But then I heard that Ki-Hong Lee was on the show… as a love interest, no less! I love Ki-Hong (his smile takes over his whole face… and yours) and I am all for Asian male love interests.

So, I sat down to watch the show and really liked it! It’s 30-minute episodes, which made the 12-episode season much more digestible than shows where the run-time lasts closer to an hour. It’s a light-hearted comedy, which meant that I was able to breeze through episodes not only without being stressed and tense for the next one but while laughing as well. It’s definitely a bit too edgy/quirky for television and perfect for the Internet. It’s super self-aware and smartly written. I recommend it if you’ve been wondering about this show.

23 Perfect Jokes From "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

Spring Cleaning

Even though it snowed half a foot the first week of March (… you think I’m joking), the weekend immediately following that storm gave us our first taste of spring weather. I had my windows open! The snow thawed almost immediately and left immense puddles everywhere! I went outside in jeans without a pair of leggings underneath them!

Cleaning my room has been on my to-do list for a while. When I started getting overwhelmed with my many tasks, I would feel worse about the fact that my room was messy and I hadn’t cleaned it yet. This would drive me into a guilt spiral that was further aggravated by the fact that I can’t actually stand messes. Evidently, my method of coping with a mess is usually to be driven so mad by it that I am reduced to doing… nothing, about the mess or anything else in my life.

But, on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, a breath of fresh air gave me the kick I needed to actually clean. I told myself I would only clean my room and save cleaning the rest of the apartment as a roommate activity, since I don’t get to see my roommate too often. But as soon as I broke out my vacuum, I wound up vacuuming the entire apartment and wiping down almost every surface. Oops! I even (finally) took down my Christmas lights that were in a Christmas tree arrangement and rearranged them in a non-holiday way, as I’ve always liked the look of rooms with soft fairy lights.

Now I walk into my apartment and my room and feel so at peace rather than irritated and angry at myself. It is one fewer obstacle to me actually doing things I need to do. This doesn’t mean I do those things, but I have one fewer excuse now.

Cooking

With the shift in the weather and a desperate need to do something productive, I have been enjoying cooking even more than I usually do. Not only have I been cooking, I’m cooking less familiar foods. This includes:

  • Pancakes from scratch and not from a mix! (I almost never have flour and this is my first time having baking powder in the pantry)
    • Banana pancakes
    • Ridiculously fluffy pancakes
    • Mickey Mouse pancakes!
  • Mac & cheese with cheese sauce from scratch (I had to purchase cheese???)
  • Scallion pancakes from scratch
  • Banana bread

No photos to share this time around, but let me know what you’d like to see me make in the future!

 “Chinese Female Bodyguards”

A friend of mine shared this VICE video on Facebook and I soaked up every single one of its 12 minutes. Because of the absurdly fast-growing Chinese upper class, which includes many powerful businesswomen, there is a growing demand for female bodyguards. Not only is it more practical and safe for women to have a female bodyguard, but having a bodyguard is, in and of itself, a status symbol, and the Chinese upper class is obsessed with displaying status symbols.

It resonated with me, personally, because the women are taught “feminine” things such as walking in heels and putting on makeup. This is not because they need to be “more feminine”, but rather, in China, wearing heels and makeup is a way to demonstrate your respect of other people. In this case, the trainees want to show respect to their clients and their clients’ colleagues.

Also, since assault weapons are illegal in China, bodyguards must be highly skilled in martial arts. We’re not talking Jet Li The Bodyguard from Beijing level skills, but those would be really helpful because bodyguards cannot legally carry weapons. (Side note: That is my mom’s favorite Jet Li movie and it’s a good one.)


The movie is from 1994… and it shows. But I love it. 

Late Night Happy Hours

I am all about happy hour for one main reason: excellent food deals. In fact, I am really baffled by people who only drink during happy hour? We’re in his bar from 6-8 and you don’t want to eat food? But you had lunch hours ago?

Anyway, what I’m really into right now is late night happy hours, since happy hour can be harder to coordinate in the DC area with folks living in Maryland, the District proper, and Virginia. A Friday night late night menu special is perfect for those situations. I went to the one at City Perch two Fridays in a row and really like the food. The service is another story but the food and drink specials are SUPER GREAT. I have definitely found myself suggesting this as an option more than once to my friends. This is a time in my life when I can really take advantage of the fact that I am more of a night owl, as I’ll only start wanting to sleep at 8 PM more and more as I get older.

Porchtta butter buns with fig jam yum!

 

But seriously, if you can tell me another place in the DMV where I can get oysters for LESS THAN $1 EACH, kindly let me know please.

I’ve been working on this post all through March and it’s hard to believe how long ago watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or stress-cleaning my entire apartment feels now.

April is shaping up to be jam-packed with lots of fun, and it’s BEDA so you are going to have random things to read whether they’re quality or not!

What were your highlights from March?
What are you looking forward to in April?

February Favorites

February 2015 Favorites

Our shortest month of the year seemed to pass even faster than usual, didn’t it? It was also a REALLY cold month for us: record lows across the board and the coldest February we’ve had in decades, with some broken outstanding records lasting over a century before being broken this year. Here are a few things I enjoyed during this cold, short time.

TELEVISION

You know I love TV. I was raised on television and it was getting so bad that I gave up TV for Lent last year. Because of that, I basically stopped watching most shows I had been watching every week and haven’t caught up since. (I still need to watch the last season of Legend of Korra!) Because I have this new void in my TV schedule, I decided to fill it with new shows rather than with something productive. The shows I’ve been liking with the new TV season are:

  • Agent Carter

    Tuesdays at 9 PM EST on ABC

    My FAVORITE new show this year, I cannot recommend it more if you like humor, action, good relationship-building between characters, Marvel, plain folk heroes (vs. superheroes), and good TV in general. The writing is great, the acting is good, and I want them to renew this show desperately. Season 1 was amazing.

  • Fresh Off the Boat

    Tuesdays at 8 PM EST on ABC

    Basically, every Asian person and any person who knows an Asian person has been watching this show, sometimes out of guilty obligation. Don’t worry, I understand. But you know why it’s good, besides the really funny writing? Two words for you: 90s nostalgia. We are a generation with a heavy case of 90s nostalgia, and this show captures so many of the things we loved about our 90s childhoods really well.
    (And also, the show is just legitimately really funny.)

  • The Flash 
    Tuesdays at 8 PM EST on CW

    Do I love Grant Gustin? Yes, yes I do. He’s a cutie. But in an age where too many studios are trying to cash in on “darker, grittier” superheroes (even though not every superhero is meant to be like Batman and in fact are not supposed to be dark or gritty), it’s nice to have a regular guy superhero with a show that just makes me happy. I’m invested in Barry Allen, I want to know what Dr. Harrison Wells’s deal is, and I care about these characters a lot. It’s really fun seeing how they write the villains every week, too.

  • Gotham

    Mondays at 8 PM EST on Fox

    Sometimes, though, a town like Gotham can only be portrayed for what is is: dark and gritty and broken. I have really been enjoying exploring Gotham and its inhabitants, many of whom are characters that we know from the Batman stories. (Also, I adore the young actor who plays child Bruce Wayne. He’s great.) The writing is really good in the pacing, within the episode and from one to the next.

Smithsonian Visits

Even though I have now lived in the DC metro area for nearly a decade now, I haven’t really visited the Smithsonian institutions properly! My first visit to the zoo didn’t even include seeing animals and I only saw the Natural History Museum for the first time on my anniversary. But then I got to see the Natural History Museum again at my first Instameet! And I visited the National Gallery of Art this weekend for a photo adventure with some of my friends from the short film I worked on a short while back.

A Degas sculpture

I’m going to go back one of these days and really take in the art. I am also going to make a stronger, conscious effort to visit al these Smithsonian galleries and museums because they are FREE to visit and just such an amazing resource. I should be taking advantage of the fact that I have free access to the biggest museum system in the world.

Walking concourse between the west and east buildings at the National Gallery of Art

Watching Musical Theater [at Warner Theatre]

I’ve had the chance to watch  not one but TWO musicals at the Warner Theatre. Prior to this month, I had never been to this theater. I saw 50 Shades! The Musical Parody, which was a romp for sure. I also saw Anything Goes!, which is more of a traditional (and I mean traditional in the sense that Cole Porter wrote the songs) musical. I’ll be doing a write-up of that soon, but I really loved it. Being at the Warner Theatre this past month has reignited my love for musical theater and really made me miss doing choreography and singing along with a chorus.

Our view for 50 Shades! the Musical Parody. Check out that gilding!

IGDC

I’ve just discovered the #igdc community on Instagram (InstaGram DC) and discoverd so many great photographers in the DC area, many of whom I was able to meet at my first ever Instameet. It’s been so nice to see these amazing photos on my Instagram feed as I slowly allow Instagram to be a social network that I use to follow more than just my friends. Plus, I’m learning so much about DC and the beauty it has to offer.

Follow @igdc on Instagram to see a daily featured photo and check out the #igdc hashtag as well!

Photobooths

I am such a sucker for photobooths. We have them at a lot of events in the DC area and I have gotten to the point where I have some standards now. Lazy photobooths (which I’ll still do and have fun with) will consist of a hung up cloth of some sort and someone taking photos for you. MAYBE they’ll throw in some props. We have a lot of companies in the area that set up booths, have a lot of props, and the lighting in the booth is actually really nice. I saw maybe the best photobooth I’ve seen yet in DC this week. It was amazing because they had so many awesome props for our DC-themed party! I was overwhelmed by the options, so we had no choice but to duck into the booth multiple times.

Shenanigans in this photobooth were the highlight of that party. Each frame tells a weird story XD

Family Group Chats

My extended family + my mom are all in China, so they use WeChat religiously. (Maybe a little too much.) (Definitely a little too much.) For Chinese New Year (holla at me, fellow sheep!), they started a giant group chat to include me, my mom, my dad, my mom’s 2 sisters, their daughters, my cousin-in-law (?), and my uncle. I had to mute it because they’re so active, but it’s nice to be in touch with my family on the other side of the world.

A struggle for me to keep up with because I still read Chinese slowly

 

The Oscars

It’s my favorite award show for a reason. I love the Oscars and I wrote a lengthy post telling you so, complete with a link to my live tweets. 2014 was a great year for movies so the Oscars are a great time to look back and kind of say “Wow, great job Hollywood”. Do they really need that affirmation? Nah. But they give it to themselves every year and we help.

Trivia Crack

The football does not treat me well. Everyone else: we coo’.

 

This is the only game app I currently have on my phone. I don’t really like having games on my phone because I try to keep the unproductive activity to a minimum. (Since I already waste more time on my phone than I’d like.) HOWEVER I do love trivia. I used to like playing QuizUp, which was great for proving how much Disney trivia I knew. But as my friends shifted from QuizUp to Trivia Crack, and I learned very late why my brother was always asking me random trivia questions, I had to indulge my trivia nerd. I used to be on a bar trivia team but we’ve been forced into retirement because of different circumstances. (Moving, our statewide trivia league ditching the bar we went to anyway, etc.

Even though Trivia Crack madness has been winding down, I did like it a lot this past month. It has been forcing me to scrape around my brain for accurate sports knowledge, but no one is challenging me on Trivia Crack and I’m starting to feel like that friend who is always starting new games. My bad!

Are you ready for March? How was your February?

Spring TV 2015!

Ever since I gave up TV for Lent last year, I stopped watching many shows that I used to watch really regularly and I haven’t caught up since. (I know how Legend of Korra ends but I have no real context for it and that kills me…) Instead of catching up on all the shows I stopped watching during Lent, I just decided to go into the fall 2014 TV season with a mostly cleared plate and ready for new shows that were all great.

In addition to keeping up with the shows that will be coming back in the spring (#BringBackSelfie), I’m looking forward to a few new shows that are slated to have their series premieres, with the spring premiere season starting TODAY:

Galavant 

Sundays at 8PM on ABC

Okay, I’m really scared this will be terrible. (Abby, tell me it’ll be okay??) The premise sounds too good to be true: it’s a fairy-tale themed musical comedy. Music by Alan Menken! I mean come on, it’s basically everything that I love in one show , so how could it possibly live up to the hype? I’m just going to keep expectations low so that, if it isn’t what I dreamt, I don’t feel crushing disappointment.

No, but really, this should be great. We have an Indian-Chinese actress who was described by her director as the “brown Jennifer Lawrence” (?!) and it’s a musical, you guys. This is meant to be the filler replacing OUAT (aka my guilty pleasure show), as OUAT doesn’t come back until March. So my Sunday 8 PM slot is still filled.

Galavant premieres Sunday, January 4th at 8:00 PM on ABC.

Marvel’s Agent Carter

Tuesdays at 8PM on ABC

So I never started watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (bad, bad Marvel fan) but I have been so excited about Agent Carter ever since it was announced. I loved the one-shot and the whole premise makes me so pumped. Hayley Atwell is great, Peggy Carter is a great character, and I’m just so ready for a story that focuses on her, a woman who isn’t a superhero but is super and is a hero[ine].

This is meant to act as the filler for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.(I am not going to do all of those periods every time, I’m sorry) before that comes back, so brace yourselves for this! Hoping Marvel has figured out how to better pace a TV show after what I heard was a kind of rough start to the pilot season of AoS.

Marvel’s Agent Carter premieres Tuesday, January 6 at 8:00 PM on ABC.

Fresh Off the Boat

The show I’ve been excited about for the longest is Fresh Off the Boat. Based on famous restaurateur Eddie Huang’s memoir, it will feature an Asian-American family that, with any luck, isn’t a caricature and will use humor that doesn’t come at the expense of an entire social identity, which I happen to be a part of. If you’re not familiar with the premise, think Everybody Hates Chris with a Chinese-American family that has moved from DC to Florida. Yup, you can see yourself laughing already.

Fresh Off the Boat premieres on Tuesday, February 10 at 8:00 PM (with a preview on Febuary 4) on ABC.

Clearly, I’m really happy with ABC this year and the new shows they are putting out this year, both for spring and in the fall. They’ve just been doing a lot of good things in the comedy space, upping their game and pushing the limits to see how much audiences can take. And audiences are ready for this. We can take it. We want this. Bring us moar.

A show whose season premiere I’m excited for is Hannibal on NBC!

Not too much confirmed for season 3 yet, so expect to see a lot of promotional materials come out soon.

 I really was scared to start watching this show, but it is amazing. If you loved Pushing Daisies, director Bryan Fuller returns with a visual scheme that is the same except the opposite chromatically. It’s a gorgeous show and seriously one of the best shows on television, I mean it. Even though it’s about serial murder and things can get rather graphic, it’s all done with this amazing visual poetry that I am able to stomach it. Me, ultimate scaredy cat. Plus, the food styling is so amazing on this show. You know it’s not actually human meat, so just enjoy how great all of this food looks. The food stylist even has a beautiful blog (courtesy of Janice Poon) and you can make non-human alternatives for the dishes.

Be excited. This is an excellent time to get caught up on the previous 2 seasons if you haven’t watched this yet. It is my #1 most recommended show. SRSLY.

What new shows are you most excited about this spring?
What season premieres are you excited for?