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Well folks, I’m finally back from my nearly 2-week vacation in Taipei, Taiwan. It was kind of an interesting trip. It started off with my mom getting severe jet lag almost immediately upon landing at Taoyuan International Airport. Then upon checking in to our hotel, my mom got a nasty cold (which she suspected was the result of sitting on a 12-hour flight full of recycled air & intense air conditioning). She tried to muddle through the rest of the trip, but it was obvious that she was just completely drained of all energy & enthusiasm during the first full week.

By the time the second week came around, my mom was pretty much burnt out from the Taipei city environment & ready to go home. On top of that, my aunt was also ready to head home. She spent most of her days holed up in her hotel room, due to her tired & sore feet. My aunt had originally planned to visit Taiwan, not to take a stroll down memory lane, but to get a cosmetic spa treatment; then she chickened out at the last minute. After that, she was pretty much over her trip & wanted to head back home.

Jian & I had a pretty fun time during our stay in Taiwan, but by the end of the second week, we were also feeling a little burnt out as well & definitely looking forward to heading back to the comforts of our own home & bed (& definitely ready to get out of the constant rain). Of course we didn’t relish having to burst our cozy little vacation bubble, but it was time to face reality & the real world again. We definitely stuffed ourselves silly with good food & some delicious cocktails, & squeezed in a good amount of shopping. We also got a well-balanced taste of Taiwanese culture, historical landmarks, & city living. Here are some of the highlights of things I learned from my trip to Taipei.

things i learned tpe.png

01. The taxi drivers in Taipei are the worst. I’m sorry, but they are just horrible, plain & simple. The taxi drivers are equally rude & mean…& I mean it. (No pun intended.) Here are two prime examples of how badly the taxi drivers suck:

  •  A.) On the day it was raining the hardest, my mom & aunt wanted to go back to our hotel to rest up before dinner with my uncle. My mom was feeling tired from her jet lag, & my aunt was feeling burnt out from department store shopping. They had planned to take a taxi from the giant department store we were at, but when they told the taxi driver their destination, he flat out refused to take them as customers. He angrily told them to get out of his car all while proceeding to scold them about how he did not want to drive all the way to the neighborhood where our hotel was located (which was actually not very far from the deparment store we were shopping at).
  • B) There was one day when Jian & I had planned to take my mom out for a nice Taiwanese breakfast (& let my aunt sleep in). Jian went online & found a small breakfast shop near our hotel to take my mom for breakfast. We originally planned on using Uber, but we decided not to wait for an Uber driver, & tried a cab instead. Here’s where the story takes a nasty turn. First off, the cab driver got upset when Jian didn’t immediately tell him where we wanted to go (no exaggeration). When we told the cab driver the name of the café we wanted to go to, the cab driver claimed he had never heard of such place, & it didn’t exist. Jian continued talking to the cab driver & gave him a specific address. The cab driver then said that that address (specifically the street name) did not exist. Jian tried to describe the location by giving the name of a nearby hotel (or some sort of landmark), but the cab driver continued his “that doesn’t exist” rant saying that neighborhood had nothing. So basically, that cab driver gave us a bullshit story so he wouldn’t have to take us to a neighborhood he didn’t want to drive to. At that point, my mom was extremely annoyed, plus it was raining fairly hard…so she gave him an equally snotty attitude, & told him to take us to a place he would recommend. He then brought us to a nearby shop that was about to close for the day, not bothering to mention that they only operate super early in the mornings & close early (we got there at 10am). When we told the cab driver the place was closed, he ignored us & made us exit the taxi anyway. Jian & my mom were so pissed at that point we took Uber instead to the original café we wanted to go to. The Uber driver was so much more helpful & friendlier. He knew exactly the café we wanted to go to, & even talked about how popular it was.

These two experiences turned us off from ever taking taxi cabs again in Taiwan. From that point on, we exclusively used either the metro or Uber as public transportation.

02. The MRT in Taipei is so easy to use, & such a convenient way to travel around the city. Just like the subway system in Tokyo, the metro in Taipei is efficient, on-time, clean & relatively cheap. Plus, it’s a great way to get around town without having to walk in the rain. Jian & I practically used the MRT the most while we were in Taipei. For certain destinations that were a little too far from a standard metro station, or if it was late at night, or we were too tired, we would then use Uber.

03. Speaking of Uber, this is also a great way to get around town. The Uber drivers are very friendly & easy to talk to. The cars are relatively clean (some cars we rode in smelled like tobbacco &/or beetlenut pulp), & they’re also efficient. Using Uber in Taiwan is the same process as it is in the U.S.. The only thing I would suggest is to make sure you put a travel notice on the credit card associated with your Uber account, so your payments will go through without any problems. Quite a few locals had warned Jian & I about taking taxis, more specifically about how taxi drivers will sometimes scam you by purposely taking a longer route just to get a higher fare. As for our experiences with Uber in Taipei, we were fortunate to have not experienced any scammers (knock on wood).

04. Disclaimer: Looks can be deceiving. The architecture in Taipei, from the outside, looks very outdated & stuck in a 1990s time warp. On the inside, the decor looks quite modern. There are quite a few modern & contemporary structures dotting the Taipei skyline, but for the most part, the city feels a little dingy & past its prime. There’s not a lot of old historical architecture either. Even though Taipei shows a lot of its Japanese influence, it is definitely not as modern looking as Tokyo.

05. Continuing my architectural theme, Jian had made a very keen observation about the buildings in the city. He mentioned that he had noticed that many of the buildings in the city were either giant shopping malls/department stores with huge food courts, or they were hotels. The other third of the buildings in the city were convenient stores or restaurants. During our 2-week stay in Taipei, we were getting pretty sick & tired of seeing the same old boring department stores or touristy hotel chains everywhere.

06. One must-try food when you visit Taiwan is the quintessential shaved ice (& new Korean trend snow ice), especially with fresh fruit. Taiwan’s national fruit is the mango, so the traditional shaved ice with fresh mango (& a scoop of ice cream) is the most recommended dessert. My favorite shaved ice toppings are red adzuki beans & condensed milk. It’s what I’ve known & have eaten since I was a young girl. These shaved ice treats are great to cool you down when it’s hot outside. They’re also just as good to eat when it’s been raining throughout your entire stay on the island.

07. A new trend I saw popping up all over the city was churros. Yes, you heard me. I said churrrrros! Those cinnamon-sugar coated fried sticks of delicious dough. But, wait. These aren’t just any churros. They’re churros formed into the round shape of a doughnut. Two of the most popular shops in Taipei are Street ChurrosChurro’K. These hot & crispy treats come with a variety of ooey-gooey, sweet dipping sauces & toppings. Now that I’m writing about it, I kind of wish I had tried these churro rounds when I was in Taipei, but I was trying to balance out my diet & not eat too many sweets (which I tend to do when I’m on vacation). Plus, all the food we were eating at every meal made me too stuffed to even want to eat dessert.

08. Oooooh! I have quite a few things to say about the emerging craft cocktail scene in Taipei. When Jian & I first visited Taipei four years ago for our friends’ wedding, there weren’t that many places to go chill out & have drinks (like old fashionedsgin tonics). Now, there are more & more cocktail bars & lounges opening up all over the city serving up innovative concoctions as well as the “classics”. The two of us had the best time discovering a few awesome (& some rather unique) cocktail bars. I’ve listed some highlights below.

  • The very first cocktail bar Jian & I visited was called Dig Out. It’s a very small 10-person space, located a few minutes drive outside of the Mitsukoshi shopping square/complex/park. The bar’s atmosphere is very cozy with leather furniture, comfortably cushioned bar stools, with a very rustic, vintage, & wood decor. The bartender we spoke to could speak a little bit of English (& we can speak a decent amount of Mandarin), so we were able to chat with each other & really have a fun time. The bartender was very skilled at twisting classic cocktails into creative new drinks. The most memorable thing for me about Dig Out was that they used little, novelty, dessert spoon sized metal shovels as stir sticks, for a fun & cute nod to their name.
  • One other highly memorable bars we visited was called R and D Cocktail Lab. Started by a French man, you’ll find tons of ex-pats & foreigners frequenting this bar. This place is located on a quiet street, but is pretty roomy in terms of capacity. You’ll definitely find your standard fare of classic cocktails as well as house-made cocktails (on tap), & other delicious libations concocted by the very-skilled & highly knowledged bar staff. The proprietor of RnD, “Frenchie” (as he so nicknamed himself), is very warm & friendly, & he likes to mingle with the guests almost as much as he loves to create delicious, refreshing, yet strong cocktails. Jian & I met a really cool guy named Ben on our second visit to RnD. We exchanged pleasantries (he’s from Chicago, & we’re from San Francisco). He talked about his business trip & first time visiting Taipei, & we ended up giving him our travel guide book. We hope he actually used it, & maybe one day he will pass the travel book on to someone else he meets on another business trip.
  • I never thought I’d end up drinking very boozy cocktails with my retired mother & her sister (imagine Grace & Frankie from the Netflix TV show) while on vacation. My mom & aunt can sometimes be a little “frisky with the whisky”, & other times they are very conservative & will only have a small nip of a glass. On this trip, I was surprised that my mom & aunt happily & eagerly joined us for a drink or two. We thoroughly enjoyed Backyard Jr., a whisky-centric cocktail bar. With over 2,000 varietals of whiskies, bourbons, & ryes, we had a great time sipping our Hot Toddys, Old Fashioneds, High Balls. Of course Jian had the most fun chatting it up with all the bartenders. He always has a way to charm the bartenders & is able to talk with them for hours on end about cocktails, spirits, & the cocktail drinking experience. My mom, my aunt, & I enjoyed the plush decor & soft jazz music, & we all truly enjoyed the food!
  • One drinking experience we had in Taipei that both intrigued us & baffled us at the same time, was when Jian & I visited Wa Shu. I’d call it an experimental cocktail bar. This minimalist bar was started by a Japanese ex-pat, who also happens to be a very strict taskmaster when it comes to keeping his bar staff in line. We heard him on several occassion openly scold his staff for various tasks he felt were not done to his exact standards. Here’s where things get a little confusing for us. This bar doesn’t have a standard drink menu. Instead they have a menu with a list of flavors, fruits, & taste profiles for you to choose from. You tell the bartender what types of flavors, fruits, &/or taste profiles you prefer, & they will create a drink for you. (You can’t just order a plain ol’ martini or whiskey sour.) Also, this bar does not carry standard spirits. All of the spirits they use to make cocktails are infused with some sort of experimental recipe, or some unique herb or barrel wood. It was hard for us to grasp the concept of telling the bartender what flavors we liked because most of the flavors we like, within the spirit-forward cocktails we often drink, were not listed on their menu. It was also hard to describe our taste profile because this bar only makes light & fruity/herbal drinks, but they don’t really understand how to make spirit-forward drinks. Let me just sum this up by saying cocktails in Asia are by far much “lighter” than the “stronger” cocktails over here in the States, & we sometimes struggle with grasping that concept.

09. Amidst all of the tall skyscrapers, shopping malls, & very 1990s designed apartment complexes, there were lots & lots of greenery dotted all over the city. It was surely a welcome sight in contrast to all of the chaos that surrouned us daily. Everywhere you turn, there’s always construction happening somewhere. So, it’s nice when you can find a small park here & there, or when you are able to walk down tree-lined streets. If only the greenery could help lessen the pollution in the city, but there are just too many motor bikes & motor scooters clogging up the streets with their nasty exhaust. On some days when it wasn’t raining, we were able to enjoy taking a stroll in the park, or in the small garden next to a museum.

10. Lastly, I will end this list with food. Oh man, I didn’t even notice this until the last couple of days of our vacation, but Jian had pointed out that all we’ve been eating throughout our entire trip were starch-filled foods. All the vegetables at the places ate at were so bland & over-cooked that we ended up not really eating much of it. Besides, since they were over-cooked, the veggies pretty much lost all of their nutritional value anyway. Most of the dishes we ate consisted of some sort of green onion (a.k.a. scallion) pancake (always made fresh), a rice bowl meal set, soup dumplings, a bowl of noodles, or some sort of steamed bun filled with meaty delights. It was practically rice on top of noodles on top of bread. Towards the end of our trip, Jian & I started drinking more pressed/blended juices just to get the fiber from the fruits, & we tried eating whatever veggies we could (bland or not). We wanted to re-balance our bodies again before flying home as two human-sized dumplings. I think I had the hardest time eating in Taipei. Whatever I saw, I wanted it all. I could not decide which of my childhood favorites I wanted to eat first. On the flip side, I thought my mom & my aunt were going to go buck wild eating all of their childhood favorites (since they actually grew up in Taipei), but they ended up being the most finnicky about food out of our entire group & didn’t really go wild with the food. Jian tried to keep up with my eating habit, but he ended up feeling very bloated & unsettled towards the end of our trip. By the end, we were definitely ready to go back home & eat a classic hamburger.

Well, this is the end of my first Taiwan blog post. If you want to see photos from my trip, you know, to get a better grasp of the time I spent there, the food I ate, the places I visited…please check out my Instagram feed (@mel__senpai). My Instagram feed is my most active social media account, & the best place to follow me & to contact me. Until next time, 干杯!

Today’s song of the day:

“Let Me Show You” by Kero One ft. Azure

let me show you kero one

Even as a young child my tastes & interests were pretty much all over the place. I liked things both girls & boys liked. I wasn’t a tomboy by any stretch of the word, but I wasn’t feminine/girly either. I’m not sure how best to describe myself other than to say that my interests were split right down the middle. I can’t say that it had turned me into a balanced person, but it opened my eyes up to new interests. Let’s take a look at what I was into when I was a little tyke.

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  1. One of the first toys I remember playing with as a young child was LEGOs. I remember my mom had bought me a bucket of miscellaneous pieces, & I would sit in my room & build stupid things. Not things like cars or houses like most normal kids. No, that wasn’t me. I clearly remember one time when I built a toy gun. I thought I was being badass & rebellious at that age (I was probably about 6 or 7 then). I was being really secretive about it, & when someone would pass by my room to check on me, I would pretend that I was making alphabet letters or random shapes. I was so scared that one of my siblings would notice I was making a toy gun & tattle tale on me to my mom. After building my toy gun & feeling so smug that I had made a weapon of zero destruction, I quickly took apart all of the pieces to hide the evidence of my not-so-nefarious creation.
  2. When I was a kid I used to be utterly obsessed with the cartoon character Strawberry Shortcake. I loved her, & I wanted to be just like her living in a cute house next to all of my friends with cute fruit-y dessert sounding names. I always hated it when the Peculiar Purple Pieman came to ruin all the fun & happiness. I don’t even remember how I got introduced to Strawberry Shortcake & her sweet friends. All I can remember from my childhood is that I used to own a few VHS tapes of the show & a vinyl record of the Strawberry Shortcake theme song. My aunt even hand sewn a red security blanket for me with a huge Strawberry Shortcake pattern on it. I still have that blanket to this very day, & it looks just as new as the day my aunt gave it to me. I rarely used it as a security blanket. I mostly kept it folded up & tucked away so I wouldn’t get it dirty or worn out. (So typical of me!)
  3. I remember playing with Transformers when I was a little girl. I didn’t own any of the robo-toys myself, but there was a Japanese boy who lived up the street from me who owned a few of the Japanese versions of these awesome toys, & we used to play together while our moms hung out like two chatty 「おばあさん」(Sorry, mom). This boy let me play with his Optimus Prime, while he played with his other much cooler Japanese robo-toys & kaiju toys. I also used to enjoy watching the American cartoon on TV. I didn’t understand, or care to understand, the rivalry between the Autobots & the Decepticons. All I cared about was how cool it was to have a car that morphed into a talking robot friend. By the way, my two favorite characters when I was a kid was 1. Optimus Prime because he was the cool leader, & 2. Bumblebee because he was a small-ish yellow car, & I was a small kid. 
  4. When I was a little kid, we had a male teenage cousin living with us for a couple of years. My cousin was super awesome & cool. He was like a big brother figure to me (aside from my actual brothers), & we used to play together. This cousin used to collect G.I. Joe action figures when he was younger along with MAD Magazine comics. I wanted to play with him & my older siblings, so I got into this line of toys so that we could have a common interest. Of course, I wanted to get all the female action figures, even if they were on the enemy Cobra team. My cousin had tons of these action figures, & I only had one…the lady with the white ski outfit & the removable skiis, which my cousin always reminded me not to loose the skis for my action figure or else he wouldn’t let me play with his G.I. Joe figures anymore. I don’t know why I chose that figure in particular. I just wanted something I could play with alongside my cousin. Did I mention that I also watched this cartoon as well? I used to watch tons of cartoons as a child. My family, especially my generation, revolved around the television set.
  5. My sister’s (biological) dad used to work in the import-export industry, & he used to work with Sanrio, the company that started the Hello Kitty trend. My sister’s dad used to send her a bunch of free Hello Kitty stuff like stationery & toys, & when she got older, she would pass down her stuff to me that she didn’t want. That’s partly how I became utterly obsessed with all things Sanrio. It also helped that my aunts & uncles in Japan would send my dad care packages & include a few Hello Kitty toys for me. I loved watching the Hello Kitty & Friends TV show, & had a few VHS tapes of the movies. Then, when I was in Kindergarten, I met a Japanese girl in my class who had the same interests as I did. She lived in my neighborhood, & our parents became close friends. Since both of our dads were Japanese living in an American suburban neighborhood, they were able to speak Japanese to each other, & that brought our families closer together. This girl quickly became my best friend & our mutual love of all things Hello Kitty strengthend our bond. Even after my friend moved back to Japan in the 3rd grade, our families still keep in touch. 
  6. Go Bots is like the red-headed, black sheep, wannabe, lesser counterpart to TransformersTransformers fans absolutely crush Go Bots to oblivion, & it’s kind of taboo to say you like both toy/cartoon franchises. I liked Go Bots about as much as I liked Transformers. I loved how cars & other vehicles could morph into talking robots. Like I mentioned before, I was super into watching cartoons when I was a kid, so it was only natural that I watched this cartoon as well. I pretty much watched all of the cartoon hit shows.
  7. I really liked Rainbow Brite. I had a Rainbow Brite doll, & I loved braiding her yellow yarn string hair. I also loved her rainbow colored outfit with the pink-ish/blue-ish iridescent colored skirt, & the cute little star tattoo on her cheek (like a little beauty mark). I was into Rainbow Brite around the same time that I discovered the TV show Punky Brewster. I loved how they both wore colorful clothes & went on awesome adventures. I used to play with my Rainbow Brite doll & pretend that she was my little sister.
  8. How did I ever discover Thor, of all characters? This was right around the age when I started to have crushes on boys & was practically infatuated with any male star on TV (like actor Scott Baio when he appeared on Happy Days as Fonzi‘s cousin Chachi). I think I had somewhat of a crush on this beefy, blonde Norse god, but I was mostly envious of Thor’s winged helmet & powerful hammer, which I used to call a mallot (don’t ask me why). I sooo wanted a winged helmet like Thor’s helmet . There’s not much else I can say about why I liked Thor of all the action hero characters from the 80s and so on. I just thought he was super cool, & I kind of wanted long, shiny hair like him.
  9. OK. My love of Care Bears is a whole lot easier to explain. All the kids in my family loved Care Bears. When my siblings, cousins, & I were all younger kids, I’m not sure who decided this, but we were all assigned a specific Care Bears character to be our personal mascot. Mine was Friendship Bear, the bright pink bear with the rainbow 🌈  on its tummy. I loved how cheerful & happy this character was. (I’m like my 9-year old nephew in a lot of ways, mostly because we don’t like sad or negative scenarios. We like happy endings & positive scenes.) When we were all younger, each of us kids had our own Care Bears stuffed animal & toys, & some of my cousins also had Care Bears security blankets & stuffed pillows sewn by my aunt. All of us as kids watched the Care Bears movies & TV shows. We played with all of the posable action figures & Play-Doh putty kits. It just became our “thing”. I’m not sure of the origins & how this all came about, but I remember this Care Bears theme running in our family when we were all young kids.
  10. So, for this explanaition I’m going to lump He-ManShe-Ra together. Yes, they go together anyway since they’re both siblings. However, I will confess that when I was a little kid, I thought He-Man She-Ra were boyfriend & girlfriend. I had no idea until I was a teenager that they were actually brother & sister. When I was little, I pretended that He-Man She-Ra were dating. Well, I ended up scratching that childhood memory once I learned they couldn’t exactly date each other. I loved He-Man sooo much when I was a kid. I guess I had a thing for blonde super heroes because I also really liked He-Man‘s blond hairstyle in this cartoon. The bowl cut reminded me of so many Asian boys that went to my primary school. My favorite Masters of the Universe character had to be Cringer at the time. He was such a wimpy lil’ chicken shit, & I could totally relate to that because when I was 8 years old, I also was way too wimpy & mousy to do anything outside of my comfort zone. (That’s also probably why I loved Scooby-Doo because he was a wimp too.) I also was super in love with She-Ra‘s horse Spirit, but especially when it turned into a rainbow-colored magical unicorn (a.k.a. Swifty). I remember having a He-Man & a She-Ra action figure when I was a kid. I wanted a Battle Cat figure, but my mom said it was too ugly, plus I didn’t like Cringer’s face, so I ended up getting a Swifty figure instead & was so pumped when I could play with it in the bathtub & pretended it was a swan that could swim. Yes, I was a weirdo back when I was a mere 8-years old. (I once also jumped into the bathtub with my socks on when my sister dared me to do it. If anyone tried to dare me to do that now, I would probably scream bloody murder & physically attack that person for even suggesting such an aggregious act of barbarianism.) My most fondest memory of my childhood was one time when I forced my parents to take me to the event center to watch He-Man On Ice. I also made them buy me a light-up plastic He-Man souvenir sword that would say “By the power of Gray Skull…” when you pressed a button on the hilt. I also got one of those souvenir flashlights with the fiberglass strings at the end that spun around when you pressed on the button. Looking back on my childhood now, I can’t even begin to decipher why I wanted to be like He-Man (& not She-Ra). I wanted to be a blonde buff guy with a bowl haircut & a wimpy, chicken shit green tiger sidekick.
  11. Last but not least, I had to say one of my most favorite toys was a pair of expandable plastic roller skates that weren’t even real roller skates at all. They were clip on roller skate wheels that you attached to your shoes & could barely  skate around the concrete patio in your backyard. I found a great commercial on YouTube to show the awesomeness that were Fisher-Price roller skates (a.k.a. “practice skates”).

I would put on these skates every day & ride around in my backyard, pretending I was cool & like I was in an imaginary race with other skaters. I wore these skates out. I was so excited when I found out they were adjustable & I could expand them to fit my growing, yet still small, feet. I wore them until my feet could no longer fit in them. Then my mom gave them away to a lady she knew who had little kids of her own, but couldn’t afford to buy toys like this. When I wore these Fisher-Price roller skates around my backyard, I thought I was so badass doing some sort of extreme sport. That just goes to show how crazy my imagination was, even at such a young age.

You see, even at a small age, I was able to stretch my imagination, even if it was beyond far fetched & dumb. I’ve always said, especially to myself with my own inner thoughts, that I have an overactive imagination. That’s what fuels me to write. It’s what motivated me to start a real blog. Many moons ago, I used to have a failed LiveJournal account. I also tried to start a so-called blog on Facebook when they once had a notes feature. At least on Facebook, I was once able to write 100 consecutie notes in a daily challenge I set for myself. It’s all of these things from when I was a kid that propelled me to where I am today, writing this blog post for you. I hope you enjoy, & this somehow takes you back to when you were a child & gets you to think about what kinds of toys & characters inspired your inner child. Until then, cheers mates!!

Today’s song of the day:

“Wait for the Moment” by Vulfpeck

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I don’t think I’ve ever written a full bucket list before. I decided recently to write one out to see what I could make out of my jumbled thoughts & hair-brained ideas. This below, is what I came up with. Please read on, & cheers mates!!

Today’s song of the day:

“Stray Cat” by Vickeblanka


I love to watch movies. Oldies, newbies, you name it. I’ll probably watch it, or at the very least try to watch one time. I really have to thank iTunes movie rentals & Netflix for helping me expand my movie genre interests, & for urging/pushing/encouraging me to watch movies I would have never thought to watch on my own, like various foreign movies for example. Also, my aunt has been vacationing at my house for the past month, & almost every night after dinner we’ve been renting classic/oldie movies from my cable provider’s On Demand movies list. It really got me thinking about all of the movies I’ve watched in my life & how would I categorize them.

My taste in movies is a little bit all over the place. I’m not a dedicated fan to just one genre, or movies from a certain decade. Most of my family & friends are super into current blockbuster movies, & also pop culture movies (usually ones that have some sort of connection to San Diego Comic Con). I love all sorts of movies, from 50s/60s classics, to musicals, to foreign, to box office bombs, etc.. (I guess you could say that my haphazard taste in movies is the same as my mixed taste in music genres.) Many times, I’ll mention my interest in a movie that would get my friends & family to scratch their heads. OK, so it’s mostly Jian that says I’m weird for liking certain movies. Here, I’m going to explain these such movies, these “guilty pleasure” movies that I don’t like to talk about with other people. Having to explain why I like these movies to most other people…well…it’s just too much for me to say in one blog post, so I’ll just get on with it then.

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  1. Ever since I was a young teenager, I’ve been extremely fascinated with Drag Queens. I don’t even know how I got introduced to the whole world of Drag, but once I learned about this style of entertainment, I’ve been a fan ever since. The first movie I ever watched with predominantly gay main characters was To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar. As a wide-eyed teen, I didn’t understand the stories behind the gay characters at all. All I cared about was that there were straight guys, acting as gay men, dressed in women’s clothes. I mean, I was excited to see Patrick Swayze dressed as a woman. (It’s waaay cooler than Dustin Hoffman dressing as a woman.) Of course, there is a deeper meaning behind this movie, & I totally understood the hard times these characters had to face after watching this movie a second time. I love the stay strong spirit behind this movie, & the fact that a whole town can turn their bigotry frown upside down, & learn life lessons on tolerance & acceptance.
  2. OK, I’m more of a “Tom Hanks in an action role” kind of gal, rather than a “Tom Hanks in a romantic comedy role” girl. However, this movie gets my heart fluttering every time. Maybe it’s because Meg Ryan is so cussing cute in this movie. I seriously envied her sweet character owning a small generational mom-&-pop bookstore in the heart of the big city. Yes, falling in love with a guy you’ve only IM’d with on the internet is creepy, but I like how they get to really know each other first before seeing the other person’s face. It’s like a relationship version of The Voice. Also, I think it’s cute (albeit outdated) when they chat with each other online & send each other regular emails. Nowadays, people don’t email or write to each other. It’s all texting, emojis, animated GIFs, & dick pics. My favorite aspect of the movie is that Tom Hanks’ character & Meg Ryan’s character really get to know each other before they find out they’ve been anonymously chatting with each other online the whole time. The part where Meg Ryan tells Tom Hanks that she wished all along that he would be her online crush gets my heart fluttering every time I watch this movie.
  3. When I mention to people that this Japanese cult hit is one of my all-time favorite movies, they either automatically scratch their heads from not recognizing this movie, or they just don’t understand why I love a movie with so much blatant & extreme gore/violence. This movie was not made with the intention of being overtly gorey or violent. This movie was made to convey a serious social issue in Japan. During the time of the movie’s release, there were many teenagers who were expressing apathy towards their elder generations, & were showing their lack of respect to their elders. These youth were becoming increasingly lazy & disinterested in changing the environment around them. The adults were fed up with the younger generation. So this movie got everyone’s attention. What would you do if you were put in a “kill or be killed” situation that you had no way out of? Would you save yourself, or would you band together to help your friends? Would you wake up & change your situation/environment? One such character in this movie, who had a chip on his shoulder from being shuffled around in foster care, was once a lazy apathetic teenager coasting through high school, but rose up & fought for the greater good of his fellow classmates. He fought to avenge the death of his best friend. He fought to protect the girl that he loved who had a pure, kind heart. He fought to avenge the unnecessary deaths of his fellow classmates. He rose up & fought to change the course of his life, to change his situation, to change the environment around him & not sit idly by while the world kept spinning without change. This movie really made me fall in love with the actor Tatsuya Fujiwara‘s acting. He is such an incredibly talented actor, & he amazes me every time I watch him on the big & small screens.
  4. In my community (a.k.a. my circle of friends & family) it is taboo for me to express my interest in the actor Jamie Dornan. I get laughed at every time I  talk about him. So, I keep my interest in Jamie Dornan super private. Many moons ago, Jamie Dornan acted in this movie set in a pretty little town in Belgium, where his character (pretended to) was learning about his family’s lineage, & trying to broker a deal with a professional racing bird breeder. This was a pretty casual, lighthearted, romance genre movie, which is kind of a different direction for this actor. There were no heavy military storylines, or action-packed love scenes, or thrilling cat & mouse chases. This movie was just good, clean fun to watch…& just to see a younger Jamie Dornan act in something that didn’t involve evading the police, serial murderings, war & guns, or bondage & spankings. I will declare here & now that I’m a huge fan of Jamie Dornan. I really enjoy his acting style/skills, even though I don’t really find his American accent appealing or believable, & often sounds forced. Also, I will “Plead the Fifth” on whether I find Jamie Dornan physically attractive or not. I try to not focus on that when I watch his movies or TV shows. He’s more than just a pretty face with 8-pack abs & rippling biceps, you know.
  5. This movie starring Hugh Grant & Drew Barrymore is so cheesy, but I love it’s ability to poke fun at itself…well, mostly it’s Hugh Grant’s aging pop star character. I love the self-depricating demeanor of Hugh Grant’s nearly washed up has-been pop star character. Drew Barrymore is also cute as & an insecure writer working for her sister’s weight loss company. I really enjoy the chemistry between Drew Barrymore’s character & Hugh Grant’s character when they come together to write lyrics for a new pop song together for a young rising pop singer. The young pop singer character is sooo annoying in this movie, but there is truth to her character as so many pop singers today display the same level of self-serving diva attitude. Kristen Johnson’s character is also really cute as the fangirl to Hugh Grant’s character, especially when she finds out that Drew Barrymore’s character (her in-movie sister) gets to work with Hugh Grant’s character. It kind of reminded me of when I was a naiive teenager who was infatuated with my favorite teen pop idol. I’m not quite sure, however, that this movie acurately depicts how difficult it actually is to write song lyrics. You can’t just sit down at a piano with your temporary house sitter & bang out a chart-topping pop love song in a day.
  6. Cannibal is a beautiful, unconventional romance set in Spain. How’s this for a plot twist? A woman falls in love with an introverted, quiet man who murdered her sister AND ATE HER HUMAN FLESH, all while she is in the midst of searching for said missing sister. I’ll admit, I was attracted to Antonio de la Torre‘s mysterious character from the very beginning. Hey, my paternal grandfather was a tailor & maker of fine gentlemen’s suits. So, when I saw Antonio’s character making men’s suits, that piqued my interest. However, it was his character’s mysterious & meticulous nature that really attracted me to this movie. I’ve seen movies & documentaries that featured cannibalism before, so I wasn’t too shocked to see Atonio’s character casually eating human flesh like a regular pork chop for dinner in one scene. What truly got me hooked on this movie was the fact that even though Antonio de la Torre’s character is killing women, he can’t seem to kill Olimpia Melinte‘s character. He is growing more & more attached to & in love with her as the movie progresses. Even though Antonio’s character lives a very strict & extremely organized life, he still lets Olimpia’s character enter in to his home & into his introverted life. Of course, as predictable movie plotlines go, Antonio’s character does try to keep Olimpia’s character at a distance, not wanting her to get too close to him, both emotionally & investigatively. My favorite scene in the movie is when Antonio’s character invites Olimpia’s character to his vacation cabin/”chop shop” with the intention of killing her (as well), but instead spares her life & ends up sleeping beside her on the sofa in a rare act of intimacy, which is unusual for his character who is mostly emotionally unattached. Of course, as you would expect, Olimpia’s character goes berserk once Antonio’s character confesses all of his serial crimes (including her sister) & his particular culinary appetite, but when Antonio’s character breaks down & emphatically professes his love for Olimpia’s character, my heart melts. Obviously I cannot go around & freely announce that I love a romance movie featuring a murderous flesh eating main character. That’s why this is my secret guilty pleasure movie on Netflix.
  7. Now, I’m not explicitly saying that I secretly like bondage & domination, or that I’m some pervy voyeur. I love the romance in this movie plain & simple. James Spader plays a cold, dominating, fiery lawyer. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays his timid, wide-eyed, submissive secretary/personal assistant. Just like in the book trilogy that got turned into a blockbuster movie franchise, both of the main characters teach each other valuable lessons on life & love, & also help one another open up their hearts & minds to enrich each other’s lives. Of course the steamy themes make this movie much more exciting & enticing to watch than your average romantic movie, but that’s just a tool to explore the many facts of love & relationships. Also, I remember when I was a kid, I wanted to grow up & become a secretary who typed on a typewriter, answered the telephone, & sent out hand-typed letters from the boss. This movie combined my childhood career fantasy with my adult romantic fantasy. I mean, wouldn’t it be so cool to pick up the phone & say, “Hello. You have reached the office of E. Edward Gray!
  8. I love the older works of actress Helena Bonham Carter, like: Lady Jane & A Room With a View. She just looked to fresh faced & angelic in those movies with her wild, curly hair, rosy cheeks, & child-like smile. This movie is one of my all time favorite romance movies. It’s so innocent & pure, & I could watch this movie a hundred times, & it will make my heart litter-patter every time. Having the city of Florence as the main backdrop only adds more charm & even more romantic feeling to this movie. After watching this movie for the first time, I was totally infatuated with Julian Sands‘ character. At the time, I thought he was so handsome, & Helena Bonham Carter’s character was so pretty & sweet. I was cheering for their characters to fall in love with each other from the beginning to end. I sooo wanted Lucy Honeychurch & George Emerson to fall in love & get married. The first kissing scene in the Italian meadow makes me blush fiercely every time I watch it. Also, it makes me so frustrated when George tries to kiss Lucy on the tennis court, & she quickly pushes him away. I wish he could’ve grabbed her again & held her tighter while kissing her more, not to force himself upon her, but to make an unmistakable declaration of love. I would like at least once to be pulled in close & passionately kissed by the man I love.
  9. This movie is part sci-fi fantasy, part romance. I can’t imagine having my soul so intertwined with another stranger’s soul that I can actually feel what the other person is feeling & to be able to see what they see through their eyes. It also doesn’t seem scientifically plausible, but it does make a cute movie plot. This movie vaguely reminds me of You’ve Got Mail, where the characters interact with each other by talking & getting to know each other before meeting in person, but to be able to talk to each other through telekinesis, that’s a bit weird. However, I do find it kind of cute & cool how the two main characters can see what the other person looks like  when they each look into a mirror. I love the initial awkwardness of Michael Stahl-David’s character. Of course there are some obvious themes in this movie such as: the guy who’s down on his luck with a rough past falling in love with the sheltered well-to-do gal. Both of the main characters in this movie have complicated pasts & hard futures ahead, but they both push through those obstacles to find each other & run off into the sunset (on a commercial freight train).
  10. Okay, I’ve saved the corniest/cheesiest chick flick (or bean flicker, as Jian likes to call it) for last. This movie franchise seems to be getting a ton of exaggerated negative reviews by movie critics & the general male population. However, the diehard fans of the book series seem to genuinely like the movies that have been released so far. This is the one movie franchise I straight up refuse to talk about with my friends & family because they immediately make fun of me for liking any aspect of this franchise (book, movie, or anything related). I don’t even know how to properly describe what I like about this franchise. There are many things. However, let me set one thing straight once & for all. I AM IN NO WAY INFATUATED WITH THE MAIN MALE CHARACTER. No, I do not wish to be swept off my feet by some extremely handsome billionaire to his seductive castle in the sky. My eyes are wide open here, & I know that this scenario is unrealistic & will never happen to me even in a thousand different lifetimes. I have no illusions, or shall I say delusions, here. I understand my reality, but I am a fan of this book series & its story. It’s a great literary escape to a fantasy scenario, & I think the movie adaptations of the books were pretty good considering all of the various restrictions (i.e. time-limit, how many scenes they can cram into one movie without overloading or making them spseem forced, etc.). By the way, I just watched movie 2 out of 3 last night, but I had to wait until everyone in the house was asleep.

Ok, that’s all I’m going to say in this blog post. I hate writing endings to my posts. I don’t know how to properly write a closing note. So, I’ll just say, Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Baby’s Wearin’ Blue” by BOSLEY

On my eldest niece’s last birthday (she turned 23), I got her the “The 52 Lists Project” book by Moorea Seal. The salesman at the shop sold me on buying the book, saying it was a very popular item. Then, I started seeing this same book pop up all over the place. Luckily my niece exclaimed that she loves writing down lists & journaling, so I was relieved to have picked this book for her birthday gift.

I, myself, had glanced through the lists in this book & had come upon one list in particular that I quite liked. It was List 2 titled “List your favorite characters from books, movies, etc.”. I started to think about what my picks would be, & originally I had chosen this list because I thought it would be easy to answer. I was so wrong. I had a difficult time choosing my answers. I was very consciously trying to not be so clever that it made me appear phony, or like I was trying hard to sound cool. I really truly wanted to choose thoughtful, meaningful answers to this list. I gave myself an extra challenge by changing the list to only female characters. That made my discisions even more difficult, but I think I’m happy with my final list.

list

Today’s song of the day:

“My Kind of Town” by Frank Sinatra *in honor of the 2016 MLB World Series

my-kind-of-town

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