Monday, June 24, 2013

Stuck In My Head: Wolf

Warning: small tangent for the next few paragraphs.  Feel free to skip down to the Wolf section.

I like k-pop.  I hesitate to call myself a k-pop fan, though, since I don't feel like I really fit the demographic.  It seems that most people into k-pop latch onto a certain group (or groups) and become one of their fans.  Now that doesn't just mean that they like their music, but that they are dedicated to that group.  They have official names for fans of certain groups.  For example, Infinite fans are called Inspirits.  2ne1 fans are called Blackjacks.  U-Kiss fans are called Kiss Mes (yes, for real; but there are worse ones than this).  Anyway, the fans usually know all about the members, keep track of their activities, have fan club meetings, and support them no matter what.

That's...not really for me.  Sure, I like certain groups more than others, but I am not that dedicated.  I'm also pretty discriminating.  I think it's kind of hard for me to really be a fan of k-pop groups because they tend to change up their style and genre all the time.  While every artist evolves and changes, a lot of k-pop groups will have several different genres represented in the same album, and that makes it hard for me to whole-heartedly get behind them. I cannot stand ballads, and it seems that every group has to have some terrible slow song in there.  For example, I absolutely love B.A.P's upbeat, aggressive songs like No Mercy or Warrior.  But then there's Rain Sound and Stop It.  Oh my freaking gosh they're bad.  I just don't get it.  They're so good at being aggressive, so why can't they just focus on that?  Why make them act cutesy when they're clearly bad at it?

Because of the constant sound/image changes, it's hard for me to fully support a group.  But I do have lots of songs and videos that I like.  So I guess I'm a conditional k-pop fan?

End rant: back to Wolf

SOOOOO.....Wolf.  Exo is an interesting group.  They've only been around a little over a year but already have a large following.  SM is trying a new marketing style which I think is a good idea.  Exo is a 12-member group (I know, right?) that's split into two sub-groups.  They sing and perform the same songs, but Exo-K sings in Korean and Exo-M sings in Mandarin.  Really, that's a pretty good idea.  Then you can reach out to more fans with the same group but only have to work on one concept.

Anyway, Exo's Wolf came out not too long ago.  When I first listened to it, I was not a fan.  One of the current trends in k-pop is to take a bunch of random song bits and mash them together to try to make one song.  Personally, I'd prefer it if they just stuck with developing one theme well instead of jumping around so much.  I especially hate it when they have a piece of the song that I like but since there are so many parts that I barely get to hear it (ex. I loved the thirty-five second mark of Bilasa's What's Happening but it did NOT fit the rest of the song).  A good (or should I say terrible) example of this is Girls' Generation's I've Got A Boy.  Oh, it gets ugly.

So by all counts I should hate Exo's Wolf  And the first time I listened to it, I didn't like it.  But I listened to it a few more times, and a miracle happened!  It grew on me.  Before long I was going around singing, "Guerra 'olf, naega 'olf" and howling.  I love the chorus too.  It's very epic and spine-tingling.

The video is pretty awesome, so that also might have influenced me in its favor.  I love the shadow arm tree at the beginning and the flowing, jumping wolf pack and the cool member formations with wolf-boys breaking through.  I do have to say that it's a bit amusing to see them try to look fierce.  They're trying so hard, but some of them still just look cute.  Sorry guys.

I did watch the Mandarin version too, but it doesn't sound as epic as the Korean version.  That said, the Mandarin lyrics appear to be light-years better than the Korean ones.  I know, I know.  I never should have looked up the translation; I should have just enjoyed the music.  But I didn't.  Unfortunately, the whole first verse of the Korean version is terrible!  SO BAD!  Cheese?  Toenails?  Those really aren't the makings of a great song.  Who thought that was a good idea anyway?  With all the money they spent on making the video and marketing the song and everything, you'd think they'd have spent a little more time on the lyrics.  Sigh.  I guess it's not much worse than Katy Perry's "plastic bag" line.

Anyway, check out Exo-K's Wolf.  I strongly suggest you watch the video with it, or else you may never want to listen to it again!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Happy Saturday

I didn't really have any plans for today, a Saturday, but plans seemed to find me!  My friend Rebecca texted me in the morning and asked if I'd like to go have a picnic!  Of course I said yes.

Then someone else e-mailed me that they found a place that served chicken feet and egg tarts!  I had just been talking with her about Hong Kong food I like, so it was really sweet of her to let me know.  Since I'm carless at the moment, Rebecca picked me up.  She kindly agreed to take me by the Chinese place to pick up my picnic food.

Thank you, Charlie.

It took me a little while to make a decision, but I finally decided on chicken feet, har gou, sticky rice lotus leaf, and an egg tart.  For good measure I got some bubble tea, but it was just Thai tea.  I talked to the lady at the register a little, but unfortunately she only speaks Mandarin.  :(   As far as the food went, in case the suspense is killing you, it was fair to good.  The chicken feet were great and the sticky rice was good.  The egg tart was decent (a bit too sweet, I think), but the har gou wasn't very good.  It was mashed shrimp instead of whole, and it had this strange taste to it, so I didn't even want to finish it.  Still, overall I was pleased. 

The little lake we went to was a bit out of the city but worth the drive.  It was beautiful!  There was a cute little sandpiper that kept us entertained while we ate.  Lunch and a show!  A bunch of people showed up and started setting up a party, apparently a German party, so we didn't linger too long over lunch.  There was a trail nearby that looped around the lake so we decided to walk it.

There's not much else to say except that everything was beautiful.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.


Up the trail

Wild roses


Interesting foliage

After the successful, yet mosquito-ridden, walk, we went back to Anchorage and had some delicious frozen yogurt!  Rebecca was taking me home when I saw something was happening out in front of the Dimond Mall.  A Korean festival of some sorts?  She dropped me off and I went to investigate.  A bunch of churches had set up boothes and had food and such.  They had a stage too, but unfortunately I had missed the performances.  They were playing Korean music on the loudspeakers, and a Vixx song that I just bought came on twice!  I bought some Korean donuts and dukboki.  

I was eating at a table when I heard someone calling my name.  It was my boss's daughter!  I went over and sat with her and her friends while I finished my snack.  The festival was over and people started taking stuff down, so I decided to go in the mall.  I didn't see too much interesting stuff, but I did get a pair of much-needed black flats.  I also saw another friend who works at the mall.  It was slow in her store so we talked for awhile. 

Then I got a text from my life group leader.  My church life group was getting together to hang out.  We went to a high school to play ultimate frisbee and then volleyball.  I'm not good at either one, but it was still fun.  I actually even had a fun time playing volleyball, which is saying something.  

Afterwards we went to someone's house where they grilled some fish (halibut and salmon).  It was SO good.  Probably the best halibut I've ever had (although I haven't had it too many times, still).  They had some fun backyard games to play and we also talked a lot.  I played washer pitching, which I'm also not good at (do you sense a theme here?) but still had a good time.  I did get better towards the end!  

All in all it was a wonderful Saturday.  I didn't get much done in a productive sense, but that's ok.  After all, I have to enjoy my Alaskan summer!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

San Fran and Five Iron Frenzy!

Those of you who know me probably know that I love music. More specifically, I'm crazy about Blindside and Five Iron Frenzy.  I got to to a Blindside show a couple years back but Five Iron was still broken up then.  I thought my dream would never come true.  BUT.  Oh yes, there's a but.

They got back together again!  They've been making new music and playing a few shows!  Last weekend they had a show in San Francisco!  I didn't know if I should do it, since it would involve buying an expensive plane ticket, but after talking to my mom and some friends I decided to go for it.  After all, this has been a life long dream.  To make matters even better, one of my good friends from Hong Kong lives there!

I didn't take too many pictures, but I took a couple.

Dim Sum and friends!  Anchorage is sorely lacking in the dim sum department.

Bubble tea!  That's something else Anchorage lacks.

Besides having wonderful dim sum and bubble tea, I also got to eat HK diner food and have...HK style milk tea!  It's SOOOOOO good.  Oh man, I wish there were some in town.  I also got to practice a bit of Canto, which clearly needs a lot of work.  But at least it was fun.

We got to the show right when the doors opened, and there weren't many people there at all!  I was told that San Franciscans tend to plan tons of stuff for one weekend so they can't afford to be early anywhere.  Works for me!  We got a spot on the front row, right in between Reese and Brad!  I literally couldn't have had a better spot.  

They put on SUCH a good show.  They were funny and had a nice rapport.  They joked with the crowd.  They even played pretty much all the songs I wanted them to.  I wondered if they would play "You Probably Shouldn't Move Here" since it's about why you should leave California and move to Colorado (facetiously, of course) but they did!  So happiness. 

This picture cracks me up.

Reese and his dancing.

The wonderful horn section!

I even got a great video, although the sound is crap.  Here it is if you'd like to watch it, but I suggest muting it.  It was of one of my favorites, American Kryptonite.

With that, bye bye!