Welcome!

Welcome to The Budding Philosopher!

Please enjoy my rambling and verbose posts. =) As my blog subtitle denotes, I post about a lot of different stuff. Have fun, enjoy, and if you want give me feedback!

Best,

Nami ❤

EDIT: I just published a post and found out that this blog may occasionally have ads because (understandably I guess) WordPress needs money to host blogs. I don’t have the money to upgrade to WordPress’s “No Ads” thing, so I just want to apologize for the ads and say their presence in no way reflects any endorsement on my part for what is advertised. If something comes up I find inappropriate I will do my utmost to make sure it’s changed or gotten rid of.

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Boy With Luv (작은 것들을 위한 시) by BTS feat. Halsey

— 1 —

It seems cliche to choose BTS’s new title song as the song for this week but I did it because of the Korean title – 작은 것들을 위한 시, literally meaning in English, “A Poem for Small Things.”

It’s about a lover who is entirely absorbed in their beloved and wanting to know everything about them. It’s not deep in the sense of being the most beautifully made iteration of this idea, but it’s a pleasant, joyous, euphoric one.  And despite what some It completes a logical progression  plot-wise from “Boy in Luv” and even through”DNA” and “Fake Love.”

“Boy in Luv” is the angsty adolescent love focused on self; “DNA” revels in the romance and speaks as if it’s fated, de-emphasizing choice; “Fake Love” reveals that destiny and feelings might not be the best way to determine love; and “Boy with Luv” is kind of reaching the point where you can be yourself with someone and truly choose to love them in all aspects.

The song demonstrates this best, I think, in some of my favorite lyrics from it:

But 너의 상처는 나의 상처
깨달았을 때 나 다짐했던 걸
니가 준 이카루스의 날개로
태양 아닌 너에게로
Let me fly

“But your pain is my pain; when I realized that, I promised myself, with the wings of Icarus you gave me, not toward the sun but to you let me fly.” These lyrics emphasize that it was a choice. And not just a choice – oh, I like this person’s face/voice/hair/whatever, but your pain is my pain. I’m choosing to love you. Which is, frankly, what love is about.

— 2 —

Not a very quick take, I know. *shrugs* Here’s a quick take:

Easter = This Sunday. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? HOW DID LENT PASS ME BY?

NCT127 concert = next weekend. HOW THE HECK DID THAT HAPPEN?

— 3 —

The Goose Girl post is coming along. Getting out of hand, spiraling into a veritable tree of, here’s one theme – which leads to this, which leads to this, which also has to do with THIS. Like my thesis did – once I had the motivation to write it. I wrote most of it three days before it was due and still managed to get an A. Not my best moment.

But hey, when you get depressed senior year because you’re leaving the place and people that have meant so much to you for four years and you’ve never stayed that long in one place before in your life? I think depression’s allowed. At least a little.

And also to be fair, they changed policy on us senior year in the English department – they got rid of comps (yay!) but then made it so that we could only write a thesis on a work we’d studied in one of our classes.

There went my plan to do a paper on the Welsh mythology I loved so much. I’d even borrowed some books already from my Irish history professor (Irish history and literally and Irishman). King Lear was fine and great and all, and I get the rational behind having undergrads do a work they’ve already studied but don’t pull the rug out from under us! Lots of us have already been doing reading and analysis all our lives because we like it! Not everyone is unprepared!

— 4 —

I’ve read a book on the temperaments lately (not the one by Art and Larainne Bennett), and it’s helped me to understand myself so much better. I would encourage it for everyone, if they find it helpful. If you don’t know what your temperament is, the best way to summarize: it’s not your personality – that can change over time – it’s the way you tend to think about and react to things. There are four temperaments: choleric, sanguine, melancholic, and phlegmatic. Everyone has a little of all four, but everyone also has a main temperament and often a secondary one that are stronger than the others.

I am a melancholic-choleric, which explains so. much. about me to myself.

Anyway, you should check them out!

— 5 —

I’ve kind of wanted to mention something, or articulate it in print so that people can see it, anyway. Many, many k-pop fans ARE in fact rabid, there’s no doubt about that. The fan culture that the South Korean entertainment companies created intentionally incites obsession. That’s what they want so they make money.

Personally I think it can be enjoyed without obsession (although I’m not the best example of that, but I use it as a crutch so again I am not the best example of not being able to do it either). But I know that a lot of fans expect people to love it, get upset when they don’t, get upset when people criticize the music or people at all in any way, and that’s not good.  They also get upset at every, little thing that foreign media might have to say about them, or get wrong about them. It’s immature whatever age you’re at.

But that’s not the only reason fans get upset – in many instances it’s also legitimate to be upset, just not to react as they do. For instance, that Mexican talk show host mocking BTS and calling them gay, Greek talk show hosts making fun of several k-pop groups; British radio host Roman Kemp calling BTS’ “Idol” so much “noise” – and he’s not wrong, but saying it condescendingly, and questioning whether fans like them for their looks or music; Ryan Seacrest interviewing them and asking them, “So do you guys dance?” as if he (or other assistants) hadn’t even typed their name into Google; and many other instances.

It’s not that there aren’t things to criticize in k-pop, just like in any other music. But people often criticize it just for being what it is because it’s different. They don’t give it a chance and automatically relegate it to inferior status because it’s different. And so many fans have a knee-jerk reaction even to reasonable criticism, dislike, or disinterest.

Condescendingly saying, “Oh my gosh those guys are wearing makeup? Ugh they look like girls!” or “You only like them for their looks” or “That’s just stupid pop and not as good as the real music listen to” and “Why would you listen to music in another language? You can’t even understand what they’re saying…” or “They must be lip-syncing” or “Those music videos are sooo weird” or “Haven’t you heard? Those guys are in slave contracts to their agencies, how can you listen to that?” (as if k-pop fans aren’t acutely aware of the industry’s problems, actually).

There are so many underlying assumptions and prejudices here. Again, not that there’s nothing to criticize – just as much as in the U.S. or any other entertainment industry. But just like anime, comic book, and video game fans used to experience (and maybe do still), so many people react to k-pop with a fundamentally unreasonable, unkind disrespect.

So please remember that if anyone is trying to share it with you – just be polite and kind about not being interested or not liking it, and at that point if the person gets huffy or rude or overbearing it’s entirely their problem.

— 6 —

I’ll get off my high-horse, I promise I just – wanted to get that out there. Remember that an increasing number of k-pop fans are actually mature and reasonable.

— 7 —

I’m awaiting Avengers: Endgame with excitement and trepidation. I would see it on opening day if it weren’t for the fact that I’m gonna have to sit in line from 8AM to get into this concert (more on that later).

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

In Which Our Heroine Attends Pop Concerts, Part the Third: Monsta X

Will I be able to fit all the rest in a part three? We’ll find out….

Spoiler! I’m not. I’ll just turn this into a concert series. *snort*

***Also I must preface this: you have to be careful with Monsta X. If you’re easily tempted sexually speaking, give them a skip. Give this post a skip so you’re not tempted to be interested. They more than some other groups seem to have more focus on sexuality in their choreography. At least, I have realized they can be more of a problem for me which is why I mainly stick to listening to their music and not watching their dancing so much (I can be oversensitive, but I know I’m not being in this case). So a caution for everyone out there – I don’t want to become a stumbling block to my brothers and sisters.***

We left off with GOT7, which I honestly had assumed would be my first and only k-pop concert – they tend to be expensive, and at the time were at least a five hours drive from me. However, I was to find it would not be anywhere near the last.

My friend C had gotten into Monsta X. I’d heard one or two of their songs but wasn’t as taken with them. But when she said they were coming while I would be visiting her, around her birthday, I was not about to turn down going to see them live!

We prepped for the concert (or should I say C had me prep) by watching their variety show “Monsta X-Ray” on the celeb streaming platform V-Live. Honestly, every season of their show is hilarious, especially because for the last few episodes they take all the popular drama plots from that year, mix it into one, and act it out. And yes, some of the guys dress as girls. And these pics below aren’t even the end of it.

So we went with cheaper $60 tickets, up higher and further in the back; and I came out just as jazzed as can be about Monsta X. They have an extremely….powerful style, different from BTS. (BTS has a special kind of presence I would also describe as powerful but it’s very different). It’s kind of…wild? Untamed. Primal, and I mean that non-sexually – although sadly they do have some of the more sexual choreography, or focus on sexuality at times. Wonho, no, we didn’t need to see you in a jacket with no shirt. You have abs, good for you, so does the rest of humanity.

Anyway, it’s kind of a loud, wild powerful style that’s very enjoyable and is PERFECT for concert performances. It’s quite easy to get pumped at their concert, honestly – C had me listening to their newest album on the way, and I had learned the refrain of one of the songs that played in the theater right before the concert started – appropriately titled “Ready or Not.”

monstax2

Ok so this is a bad picture to prove my point…but it was too cute not to use!

Thus this powerful atmosphere hyped up the audience, and it wasn’t long before the members came out and performed. They included not only their own songs, but special stages usually by groups of two or three members – similarly to GOT7. One of these was a particular favorite of mine, a never-before heard song called “From Zero” that had been co-written/produced/something by Wonho, who doesn’t usually participate in that. The performance ended up being a bit bittersweet, though – Hyungwon had been sick and so wasn’t able to make it to that tour, and this song was supposed to be a duet between the two.

(Incidentally, when it comes to k-pop groups, they are extremely aware of being a unit, so it was no surprise, and quite a comfort, to see how Monsta X left spaces in their choreo where Hyungwon would normally have been. That’s probably no mean feat, either.)

Shownu, Changkyun, and Minhyuk did a super fun cover of Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” while all wearing bright-colored Tommy Hilfiger. My favorite cover, though, they did was very, very cool duet between rapper Jooheon and main (power) vocal Kihyun (my bias!!) that was a cover and reworking of “Mirror” by Lil Wayne and Bruno Mars. I’ve never heard the original but Jooheon wrote his own personal, resonant lyrics, and his rapping combined with Kihyun’s singing were very moving. Seriously I teared up just looking at those because they really resonate with me dang it. Check out this performance, it’s really good!

Anyway, also like GOT7, they have some members fluent in English – Changkyun, who lived in the U.S. for a few years, and Jooheon (now his stage name is Joohoney, evolved from a fan nickname), who I don’t really know how he learned English. The other members have more trouble with it but they’re definitely improving (Kihyun’s pronunciation is excellent and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased).

This enabled them to banter a little bit more with the members and the crowd. They tried to get the members to “act sexy” or do aegyo (acting cute like a little kid) but Kihyun just ended up saying “I love you” in a super high pitched voice making it more hilarious than anything else.

Needless to say, I left extremely jazzed about Monsta X, adding them to my growing list of beloved groups.

The next concert I attended was, incidentally, the Monsta X concert that next year – they always come to the U.S. around the same time every year. This time there would be no measly mezzanine tickets for us, oh no. We were going big – we tried for the p2 tickets that came with touch, and we got ’em. We arrived a little late at the concert, literally right as they had lined up on stage and a bunch of mist cleared on stage.

We had such good seats we passed close enough to the stage to see them as more than formless blobs. I’m bad at describing venues so here’s a picture.

seatmap_18_web-7a39494464

We sat left orchestra I believe, maybe even towards the back of left front orchestra. It’s closer than it looks, especially when you’re walking to your

I actually don’t remember as much about this concert? Except for the fact that the performances were great as usual, and Hyungwon was actually here this time and we were all happy to see him. I think the concert itself sort of got a little overshadowed by the hi-touch. Which is fair, really, because most of the time you aren’t passing in front of several attractive people enhanced by the power of impossibly-airbrushed-seeming makeup (and occasionally surgery) and giving them hi-fives. Because that’s what a hi-touch is, they’re all standing on one side of a table, and then the line of fans comes down the side and everyone gives them a 5 second (not even) hi-five and says something – if they can.

To say C and I were a bundle of nerves would be understating it. Even thinking about it right now makes me feel a combination of excitement and nausea. Why? You ask. They’re just people!? And yes, yes they are. Some of them we probably wouldn’t like if we really knew them. But if you’ve ever had a crush, and you’re a melancholic like me, you will understand – even the small trivial things you feel deeply. So situations like this, presenting yourselves in front of pretty, talented, famous people you’re attracted to – it’s nerve-wracking. Delightful, but nerve-wracking. Did I mention their makeup is perfect and they look impossibly pretty? Like I don’t know how else to emphasize it besides repeating that they look like they’ve been airbrushed in real life. They look like their pictures.

Anyway, moving on.

I barely even looked them all in the eyes, it was so difficult. (I wish they’d give international fans at least more time, since we don’t get fansigns – it’s not like most of us will ever see them again and those tickets are expensive!) I remember first was I think Jooheon who just had a sweet smile and looked sweet, Hyungwon was next, and so tall he had to lean his arm on the table like he was arm wresting; then Minhyuk just opened his eyes unnervingly wide like the fae he is and stared into ours. And I have to confess I don’t remember who exactly came next. Wonho I’m sorry I don’t remember you much but I think you were smiling? You are very nice and sweet generally so I bet you were. Changkyun passed quickly because that’s his personality. THEN was Kihyun who said with perfect pronuncation “Thank you so much for coming tonight!” and didn’t just hi five literally took my hand in both his and I died. I made eye contact with him and to all of them said thank you in Korean. He looked kinda surprised when I said it and said it back!! That was the highlight. If I could’ve died right that moment and gone to Heaven I could’ve died happy.

Shownu was last and he didn’t even bother to say anything in English, he just say 감사합니다 (Thank you) back to me.

GAAAH I CAN’T WRITE MUCH MORE. Seriously. Thinking about this doesn’t always – ok let’s be real most of the time I get nervous and nauseated and….ashamed thinking about it. But not for what you might think – not because I think it was childish to feel or childish to do – but because I wish I could’ve said more than thank you. I actually knew enough at the time to say more, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep my head so I just kept repeating thank you in my head so it would come out of my mouth. I regret not getting to say more.

I shouldn’t though! I did just fine. C’est la vie.

Anyhow, that was, up to that point, my favorite concert experience for obvious reasons.

Want to find out my absolute favorite?

Look forward to it!

In Which Our Heroine Attends Pop Concerts, Part the Second: GOT7

You’re going to learn a lot today, but not much about k-pop. What little you’ll learn about that will be about one group only, because they were my first k-pop concert AND I went to two different events for them. Enjoy the flood of words!

As I detailed previously, my initial experience of Western pop-related concerts began around eighth grade and stemmed mostly from spontaneous invitations rather than any intentionality on my part.

When it comes to k-pop concerts, my attendance at which began in my post-collegiate years, everything has been very intentional. I’ve seen five groups in concert so far, soon to be six as of April 26 (Yo, NCT 127!) – but I’ve been to more than five k-pop concerts. And one GOT7 fanmeet –  basically a mini-concert with more interactive games and interviews.

In which tickets are purchased at great expense (that is, the expense of our heroine’s wits & sanity)

GOT7 had the dubious honor of being the very first k-pop group I saw live, and I’m dedicating a whole post to them. Although I’ve lost my fervor for them, they were my first after all – and the whole experience was special to me, not so much because of them but because of the people I went with.

See, after college, I moved home to a place where I knew no one. In an effort to get myself to do more than work and sit at home watching anime and dramas, I decided to start learning Korean – which I have done mostly by teaching myself because there aren’t a lot of cheap options available. However, during that first year of learning (I think I’ve even mentioned on this blog before) the local community college had continuing education courses. And for $99 I could learn Korean for 8 weeks, and meet other people who had a common interest. Sounded like a pretty good deal.Through these classes I met a good friend, B, who now lives and teaches in Korea – although I didn’t really start spending time with her until the second session of the class.

B had been steeped in Korean and k-pop culture for quite a while before I had, so she introduced me to a lot of it, including having been to some k-pop concerts. So in 2016 when GOT7 dropped their album “Flight Log: Departure” and announced a North American tour, she suggested we go – and I enjoyed them enough to decide it was worth spending $250 on tickets that included photo with them. And, you know, go to a concert with people.

got7flightlog

My other friend, C, who I had managed to enthuse about k-pop, decided to come with us as well. So I slept over at B’s house Friday night to prepare for ticket buying that Saturday. And sure enough, the next day at 10AM – which is the time all U.S. k-pop tour tickets seem to go on sale, it may be the same with all countries’ acts here –  the ticket war began.

I had been supremely confident that just because I had the money to spend on these tickets that we would, in fact, receive them.

Boy, was I wrong.

I figured that if both C and I were on our laptops and her on her phone app as well that we could easily secure them. But when we refreshed our pages at 10AM it was insane. Finding three Priority 1 (P1) tickets for three people proved impossible – I quickly handed my laptop to B and got on the phone with the automated box office and managed to buy some tickets through there, taking what I could get. We ended up with an assortment of five tickets, all separated and of nearly the lowest price. Meaning so-so seats and no photo.

As disappointed as I was not to get the chance to meet them, which I had been extremely hyped to do, I bolstered my feelings by keeping in mind that I was going ahgabongat all, and going with friends at that! So we booked a hotel – the concert was a five hour drive away – and pre-ordered our Agha-bongs* in preparation.

The concert date rolled around. C lived in a completely different state, so two days before, she flew in and the three of us stayed the night at B’s house. We drove out to the concert city, five people stuck in a sedan – B’s mom and brother came since we needed to do something with those extra tickets! After getting comfy in our hotel we explored the city for a while.

In which details of the concert are quickly passed over

The next day being Sunday (WHY a concert was on a Sunday?? I guess k-pop acts take what they get in the U.S.) C and I went to Mass, then we all checked out of our hotel and headed toward the venue. Nearby was an H-Mart – a Korean grocery store – so we stopped there to eat and look around. Inside most H-Marts (they are all around the country wherever there’s a large Korean population) there are also a few – or a lot – of other smaller stores selling various merchandise. So that’s where I bought, for the first time with my own money and not as a gift, a k-pop album, but I can’t remember for the life of me which one (and I remember how I got all my albums!).

I also utilized my then rudimentary Korean and the shop owners were impressed, thereby tripling the amount of free pens they had already given us.

Finally, finally we got to the concert, and it was as fun as expected. The downsides (let’s get them out of the way): sitting separately from each other;  the venue being in the round but the stage – and the walls around it – being square, so occasionally my view of a member was cut off by the wall; and the intense, unnecessary screaming and occasional obscene comment while the members or their translator was talking.

To that last point: I scream as much as the rest of them at these concerts. But even at Josh Groban, the JoBros, and Switchfoot/Relient K I didn’t encounter people screaming while the artist was talking. It’s disrespectful and quite frankly communicates – whether you intend it or not – that you see these people purely as objects, because what it does is effectively block them from speaking. It doesn’t matter what they want or what they have to say. You want to scream in a frenzy because they open their mouth? That’s not respect. At best it’s misguided enthusiasm; at worst slavish devotion and possessiveness.

Ahem. I’ll get off my soapbox. I’ll get on it again in a later post about one of these concerts because believe it or not there’s more to say.

On to the upsides!

GOT7 has two members who speak English fluently and a couple of others who are very good at it, so that added to the experience. Mark and Jackson could make jokes and help hype the crowd a bit more, and we didn’t always have to wait for a translator. They performed well, and at one point came out into the crowd! Unfortunately for C and I, though they passed near us we couldn’t see them super well due to being slightly towards the center of our respective rows. But we had fun waving our lightsticks around all the same!

The most enjoyable stages they performed were when two members paired together to perform never-before-heard songs, like “1:31 AM” and “WOLO.” My personal favorite was Mark and Jinyoung’s “Higher,” where they dressed in powder pink and blue suits respectively, and using heavily streamer-covered mics; making them look, as C put it, like anime magical girls. And she meant that in the most complimentary way possible.

markjinyounghigher

 

I had wondered if they would ever release it on an album, and was disappointed when their next two albums showed nary a sign of it. To my surprise I discovered it on their most recent release – they made us wait almost two years for all these songs they teased at concerts!

In which our heroine and her friends experience the rest of the day & night in a haze & she somehow manages to wake up covered in a blanket she most certainly did not fall asleep with

After the concert, we went to a Korean sauna/bathhouse/spa/whatever you want to call it (찜질방) for the first time ever, and it was fun. Sort of awkward at first – if you use the baths you have to be naked after all – but fun. The way they work is you go in and pay for entry good for 24 hours and are given sauna clothes (shorts and top) and an electronic wristband that looks like a watch – so you can add any other purchases inside to your tab. Then you enter the locker rooms and baths – separated, of course, by gender – where you can choose to use the baths or not, but MUST change into the sauna clothing. B’s mom opted out of the baths, but us other three decided to take the plunge, and after the initial awkwardness, enjoyed it immensely.

The actual room with the baths was echo-y and we got dirty looks when we spoke too loud (and they told us a couple of times, I think, to keep our hair out of the water? I had mine up in a ponytail but my hair was long and I am short – there was only so much I could do). And there were three baths – a normal warm one, sort of like a hot tub; a ridiculously hot one; and then a super, super cold one that ended in a wall with a waterfall. We decided to experience all three – but chose not to take advantage of the $90 massages (though I desperately want to do that and now actually LIVE near several saunas so I totally should try).

Then there was the sauna room itself. Actually, it was one giant area filled with smaller rooms. Each room had a different theme and supposedly got this or that toxin out of your body. While that’s pretty much balderdash – though there are health benefits to saunas! – the rooms were very pretty and the experience relaxing. They had all sorts of rooms – the Gold Pyramid, Salt Room, Amethyst Room, Charcoal Room, and the “Fire Sudatorium” at an insane temperature. My favorite, though, was the Ice Room, because a) the cool was a nice contrast to all the other warm rooms and b) it was lit with blacklights so our teeth glowed unnaturally bright and a little bit blue.

This place, giant as it was, also included a movie room full of recliners. Since B, C, and I didn’t go to bed until 1 AM (we didn’t get there until at least 11PM ok!!), we missed out on getting nice comfy recliners, and didn’t think to check upstairs for space because we didn’t know there was an upstairs (!). So we slept on awkwardly in giant chairs (B got lucky with a sofa).

And I woke up with a blanket I most certainly not had when I fell asleep so someone was very kind but also slightly creeped me out.

Some of us ate at the cafe there the next morning – yes, there is food. They just scan your wristband-thing, and when you leave you pay for whatever is on your tab. And then we proceeded to drive home and all went about our business afterwards.

Overall, then, for GOT7 themselves: they gave great, fun performances. But as with most concerts, there’s not a whole lot to remember about them – it’s more the memory of the experience being enjoyable, and it was.

That’s kind of GOT7’s characteristic! Not being bad or mediocre, not being the most excellent, but providing talent and solid good fun.

In which our heroine takes to this day the fastest journey of her life

Which is why 6 months later in January 2017 the three of us (just us three this time) found ourselves going to the GOT7 fanmeet on a Wednesday. C and I had to work the day before and after. No, no weekend leisurely trip was this – it was a night-before flight in for C and a day trip there and back in my new car. The first time I ever took a similar day trip but not quite the last.

Being in the same city as before and being only a five hour drive, we had some time to kill before the fanmeet, so we returned again to the H-Mart and stores within; once again purchasing, of course, certain merchandise. Mine at the time was INFINITE’s album “Infinite Only,” released a few months prior and my very first INFINITE album. The editing on that photoshoot was so bad even the members poked fun at it in an interview. Really, it’s like they edited the members to look like each other!

infiniteIOposter

If you don’t know them super well you might not be able to tell…but I think the editing is pretty obvious!

We went to a Starbucks as the sun went down to finish prepping for the fanmeet and open our goods – I to be disappointed by this awful editing, C to be amazed at SHINee’s “Misconceptions of Us” that was two albums in one.

Eventually of course it was time so we made our way over, and butted in line even though the security guard passive-aggressively called us out and glared at us. I’m not proud of it but I will make excuses: it was absolutely freezing out and the mass of people was not moving! They left ginormous three or four foot gaps between one set of people and the next because they were too busy talking. And quite frankly if you don’t care enough to pay attention, don’t seem to mind the cold, and we’re cold (AND we’ve all been assigned seats, this isn’t General Admission) it serves you right that us three would hop in.

Luckily, the three of us sat together this time and got to enjoy each other’s comments and reactions together. The fanmeet was fun, like the concert. It included some dance performances but a few interviews and games: for instance, interviews with fan questions on stick notes stuck to a board; and a Korean hacky-sack type game. At the beginning of the fanmeet they actually handed out tickets, and for this game called numbers – seven lucky fans got to partner with the members! I really wanted to be one (none of us three were) but at the same time I reveled in my disappointment because I was sure I would make a fool of myself up there.

The highlight of this event was Jinyoung using more English – his voice is lovely velvet as it is, and he had clearly worked hard to prepare a comment so we were all very proud.

After the fanmeet, we jetted out quickly so we could catch at least some Z’s eventually. After a while we stopped at a fast food restaurant to eat and watched the video GOT7 was streaming live from backstage after their meet-and-greet photo ops were done. They were tired but pumped, and I was chuffed because one of the members, BamBam, said he had eaten seollongtang (설렁탕) which I had also eaten for the very first time that day.

Somehow we made it home and slept, and C made it to her flight. And then we went right back to daily life.

And those are my experiences seeing GOT7 live! Probably should’ve called this “Sauna with a side of GOT7” but whatever.

We’ll see how long the rest of these posts are….

I Wanna Be by Key (feat. SOYEON)

— 1 —

So, I’m trying to get one quick takes written Fresh ™ every week, and then publish ideally twice a week in addition to that. But we’ll see. I’ve got two concert posts scheduled already! And I have two more posts in the works – sort of…..

— 2 —

This weeks Quick Takes title song!

Key (Kim Ki Bum) is a member of the now 4 member, always 5 member group SHINee. They debuted in 2008 and in my humble opinion are the overall best k-pop group, at least of their and the current generation. Musically, they switch between different genres of pop with ease, and tend to be more widely experimental than other groups; they each have their role in the group and always give a solid performance. There may be a song you don’t prefer, but I’m hard pressed to pick a bad SHINee song.

Just shy of their tenth anniversary, in December 2017 they lost main vocal Jonghyun, who committed suicide. (Requiescat in pace.) He excelled in all areas common to k-pop performing (except rapping as far as I know) – he was an extremely, extremely talented singer and songwriter who released two of his own albums while part of SHINee. He is sorely missed.

jonghyun

오빠~ 수고했다

But back to Key and happier thoughts. Key, known more as…well, I don’t know what he fits most in the group. He and Minho are the designated rappers because every k-pop group has at least one, but…..let’s just say Minho is no rapper (though he does his best), and Key is better but he’s no great shakes either. I think he’s more a jack of all trades. He pretty much does well everything he does. He raps well enough, is a great dancer, and has a unique vocal tone.

And he just released a solo album and its repackage! (In k-pop, to make more money, they’ll “repackage” an album, which is just a special edition of the same album featuring one or two more songs and a different photoshoot for the physical version.)

Not just because he’s my bias, I really like the album. But he probably released it now intentionally, because he just entered the army.

— 3 —

For those who don’t know about Korean law, I can hear your quizzical looks. Did he quit the entertainment industry??? You might wonder.

Not at all! But all able-bodied Korean males are required to serve in the military, usually between 1.5 to 2 years depending on the branch, between reaching the age of majority (19 in Korea) and their 28th birthday. It used to be their 30th birthday but a law was passed in the past year lowering the age to 28 – so we’ve got a mass exodus of k-pop idols and other entertainers finishing up projects and enlisting. So many of my faves! *sniffle*

A lot of regular citizens will enlist right out of high school or after college, and then rejoin civilian life. Entertainers operate a little differently, since their career is dependent on building up a fanbase – they use time first to use their youth to gain a fanbase and gain experience in different projects. Once their popularity has solidified, they enlist, so hopefully they’ll have a career to come back to.

— 4 —

I FINALLY sold my extra NCT127 tickets! For much less than face value…but at least I’m only losing out on like $200 and not $400. *phew*

— 5 —

I’ve been thinking about getting into copyediting, even just as a side-hustle. I love words, I love nitpicking details, I love reading – sounds like a match made in heaven. But I want to study up first – there’s a lot of grammar rules I don’t know, because i don’t know what today’s accepted usages are in publishing.

I know what I’d like them to be but that’s a different story. I’ve read enough I think I could do it well, but I need to be able to see where I’m wrong, where an author might be wrong, and be able to properly tell the difference between an error and stylistic differences.

But it’s a thought. So say a prayer for me as I look into it more!

— 6 —

I’m trying to do less k-pop – honest I am! But I have got to get these concert memoirs out of my system first and so that’s why –

— 7 —

*looks at phone to think of what to say next for #6 but gets distracted* What the frack? BTS x Ed Sheeran collab??? Who’ll be next?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

In Which Our Heroine Attends Pop Concerts, Part the First: Western Pop

***Sorry if the formatting for the pictures is weird on these posts…I’m trying to remember how WordPress works and deciding if I need a new blog theme, so it might look a little funky***

I’m no concert veteran, but I’ve been to more concerts than I thought I would in my life – mostly because of k-pop. Before going to k-pop concerts I’d gone to a total of maybe three pop/pop-related concerts, and hand’t engaged in ticket buying for any of them. The tickets had already been bought, not by me and from other people rather than through a website so at a lower price than otherwise might have been.

My body thinks ticket buying is hellish war and it kind of is.

You sit there, laptop and smartphone charged and prepped, tabs and app open to the inexorable countdown to final moments that will determine how much money you spend and how close to the stage you’ll get. Your heart beats exaggeratedly in you chest while a slight sinking, spacey feeling suffuses your whole body and you can’t eat anything no matter how hungry you are. (I’m getting nauseated just thinking about it.)

sweating bullets gif 2

And sometimes you win big, but at what cost?

I’m only saying that because I have four $200 tickets instead of just two because we found better seats AND there’s people selling tickets all over the place but no one wants the expensive ones….

Anyhow – with k-pop the concert experience itself doesn’t differ materially, but I thought it would be fun to recount my concert experiences here, and compare and contrast at leisure (meaning probably two posts at least).

Josh Groban

Closer

closer album cover

The first ever pop-ish concerts I went to were Josh Groban’s. The very first was when his album “Closer” came out. My then-in-college sister had fallen for him and his wonderful voice, and since she had so had I. So she, and I, and her friend, all went to his concert.

Our seats were nothing to speak of, but since it was a stadium/arena type venue it didn’t matter all that much. I don’t remember too many specifics from the concert but a few things still stick out.

One was how his voice broke on his first few songs. I was surprised and a little disappointed, but when he finally made his first comments he stated he had a “frog in his throat” and couldn’t’ sing as well but didn’t want to cancel and didn’t want to lip-sync. Everyone cheered when he said this and I did too, thinking at the time that it was a noble mark of a true artist and nice sentiment for fans. I still think it’s a nice sentiment for fans but now my primary thought is, “Dude, no, you should’ve canceled! Take care of your voice!”

Two was that prior to the concert we’d been talking about how loud it might be and I was concerned about hurting my ears so I actually bought and used ear plugs – and to be fair, it got quite loud. (The earphones DID make the music a bit less euphonious so I was constantly taking them out.)

Nowadays I think about how I’ve been to k-pop concerts and that I’ve been to a BTS concert and I giggle fondly at naive teenage me.

Awake

awake album coverDuring his concert tour following his third album “Awake,” I ended up again randomly going with my best high school friend. Someone at her mother’s work was selling tickets they couldn’t use and she invited me along.

This concert was much like the first – he sang well, made fun witty comments; the videos and staging in the background blent pleasantly. The stand out event in this concert for me – besides him walking through the (sadly far from me) crowds at one point – was the fact that he sang “Not While I’m Around.” I had no prior knowledge of the Sweeney Todd musical but ended up loving his version of the song.

Overall, I enjoyed his concerts. Josh seems witty by nature so there was never a dull moment, and of course his glorious voice lived up to the hype.

Jonas Brothers

The second pop artist I saw live was the Jonas Brothers. Another concert I hadn’t really planned on attending – it just so happened that my cousin M was visiting me that summer, and one of my local friends, K, invited us to go with her. So K’s mom, K, M, and I all drove a few hours away to an outdoor venue. I wasn’t terribly hyped at first – not because I disliked the Jonas Brothers but because I had no particularly strong feelings about them one way or the other.

Once we reached the venue, though, the excitement infected me. We took a picture by their tour bus – might’ve even signed our names on it like many other fans had – and proceeded to buy drinks (I bought a random smoothie all for the plastic guitar-shaped cup) and any other merch we wanted. I bought a black-and-white henley I no longer own but can’t find a picture of to save my life.

jobrosburninupThe palpable excitement would not find any release for a while yet, however. We found a space on the lawn and waited for the concert to start. And waited. And waited. The given reason was that Demi Lovato, their opener at the time, was arriving late. At this point I realize it may have been at a time when she was struggling with drug use, so I’m much more sympathetic, but at the time I was rather frustrated. (It resulted in us sleeping in the car on our way back, K’s mom being the only one who could drive, and also required me calling my parents super early in the morning – or did I? – and worrying about waking them up or worrying them. We ended up arriving home at 7AM and then going to an amusement park later that day if I recall.)

Other than that there were no other particular events that stood out, except that it was the first true pop concert I properly experienced. Josh was sort of pop, but vocal pop, so didn’t come with all the staging bells and whistles other artists did. Jo Bros had smoke and rising out of the stage and all that jazz (and a feature by their little brother Frankie at one point).

That concert more than likely planted the seed of my love for k-pop today – prior to that, I had had no interest in boy bands specifically as boy bands or performance wise. I listened to the artists I listened to – mostly from my sister’s collections, as my parents had stopped listening to pop music in the 70’s/80’s; or Disney or related artists.

Switchfoot/Relient K

Almost ten years later, after my first k-pop concert, I went to a Switchfoot concert opened by Relient K – or maybe they were just doing the tour totally together? Either way, I had no familiarity with Switchfoot outside “Meant to Live,” “Dare You to Move,” and “This is Home.” Relient K had featured a little more in my high school years, so I knew them better. Who doesn’t jam to “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been?”

switchfoot_relient-event-2016

This concert was in a more gym-style community theater with folding chairs which, honestly, I think were responsible for my difficulty in hearing and appreciating the songs as much. My sister went with me as a birthday present because I asked her to, and while there I bought both groups’ most recent albums. Relient K played first, and their portion was by far my favorite because they were the ones I could hear best. They also had the most interesting stage set up – some kind of giant elephant statue – and Matt Thiessen’s big curly hair got me.

I enjoyed that but as I said, being towards the back and it harder to hear, especially when Switchfoot came on and everything became louder and less distinguishable just in general because it was rock.

In Summary

The main things to be taken from this, then, are: that I enjoyed these relatively spontaneous experiences; and that the only Western pop concert I have intentionally bought tickets for was Switchfoot/Relient K.

And so ends part one of the Concert Chronicles. I’m sure you’re all anticipating part two, in which I will detail my k-pop concert experiences, with bated breath.

기대해주세요~

 

Chilli (칠리)by Seventeen

— 1 —

Gonna try to do super quick takes today, not writing too much, but hopefully not too little. And at least this week they’ll be on a Friday LOL

OH! And I’ve decided that when I don’t know what to title these, in lieu of something boring like “Quick Takes #X” I’ll just put a song title that happens to come to mind.

Which means you should check out Chilli by Seventeen! It lives up to it’s name, and it’s just a very late-wintery groove.

s. coups cute

S. Coups because I can (and he the bias)

— 2 —

I have been MEANING to write and post more but haven’t gotten around to it. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. But!!! at least I’ve gotten this far. I’ve been posting about once I week since I said I would!! This quick takes might be all you get for a bit but if it builds my writing stamina, so be it.

— 3 —

As I’ve mentioned before I’m going to try to continue that “Girls with Guts” series I had planned previously, by re-reading childhood favorites featuring female protagonists and then reviewing them. Here’s a non-comprehensive list and crappy formatting because WordPress:

  1. The Goose Girl
  2. Books by Patricia Reilly Giff
  3. Middlemarch (which will be an Endeavour)
  4. Chasing Vermeer
  5. The Enchanted Castle
  6. The Rope Trick

— 4 —

I do actually have good reason for not getting too much writing this week. My aunt and uncle and some cousins unexpectedly came to town so I got to hang out with them Monday and Tuesday evening. I don’t see my extended family much at all, so when they’re in the area and they make the effort to reach out to me to come see them, I take them up on it.

Especially when I get to see my cute cousins all growing up and my one super lovely soft cousin who’s a year away from college but will still snuggle up to his mom and lay his head on her shoulder. He’s more quiet and soft spoken but lights up on his favorite subjects. A naturally more mellow temper but just – ugh I appreciate him so much. And i remember when he was a baby!! GAAHH!

Highlight of the past few days thought DEFINITELY was my uncle driving through grass downtown in a giant SUV. They were driving me to my car as it was about 10PM, and I responsibly had taken a picture of the address of my lot so I could find it. But because cities and maps and Maps, it took us to, essentially, nowhere. Then we had to rely on MY memory of where I’d gone and hope to goodness we found my car.

Maps told my uncle to make a u-turn so he did….turning on to grass and saying “It’s a lot!” and the rest of us saying “Um, no it’s not!”

Well, I was actually saying “AUGH! Oh my GOsh Oh MY gOsH!”

— 5 —

A bummer from this week: the Korean classes that I registered admittedly late for (by a week) but emailed and then a few weeks later called and left a message about, and shortly received a text message about literally a month ago, are starting up again in August.

The Spring semester started January, and if they’d gotten back to me I think I well could have joined (if they allowed) but no one got back to me. And then I could’ve sworn the next semester started in May but I was wrong. So now I had gotten my hopes up, and now am disappointed as I must wait four (4) more months.

But at least I did get a (detailed) email….eventually.

— 6 —

This….is too cute I must leave it here

s. coups cute 2

S. Coups again because honestly why not?

— 7 —

I am so tired, I can’t think of anything more. Hopefully will get to update this with gifs later but anywho. Happy Friday y’all!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

At Least This Is Something, Right? (And no it’s not Friday but IDK How to Change that in this Post)

— 1 —

In an effort to write more, here I am again! With nothing thought out, not a whole lot to say. I’m timing myself as I write each of these actually – no more than two minutes per quick take. Makes me wonder just how much I can churn out in two minutes. A bit, by how many words I’ve already typed. And that’s not even a full minute gone!

— 2 —

will get my concert post up soon I promise. I started it but right now it’s a big meandering mess and you’d hate to read it. It needs revamping – I’ll need to time myself for writing that one too.

On a related note, ticket buying WAS a success – almost too much of one, I have two extra (expensive) tickets I am now trying to sell….pray for me that I do sell them and don’t have to take too much of a loss.

taeil-nervous-gif

The tickets we got are pretty much right in front of the stage which is the first time that has ever happened for me so. Wish me luck and if you don’t hear from me afterward my cause of death was close proximity to talented attractive people.

(Such an occurrence, if you think about it, isn’t uncommon – we’re surrounded by attractive and talented people everyday we just don’t know who they are which is why celebrities get the attention and not them. Food for thought eh?)

— 3 —

I won’t lie I went over two minutes a little on the last one but not by much. Definitely not a full minute.

As far as the future of this blog and future posts besides kpop and concerts and such, I’ve decided to continue that Girls with Guts series I started, after a fashion. I’m picking a bunch of the books I read  as a young girl that feature young girls as protagonists, re-reading them, and reviewing them.

What surprised me most when I thought about things was that the books I remembered reading that didn’t feature romance (at least not as a main feature) were all books with male main characters and I was a bit annoyed by that. So I’m looking forward to revisiting these and seeing what I find.

— 4 —

I’m attempt to eat healthier, exercise, and lose weight – for health and vanity. Due to my move and a general depression, I gained thirty pounds. Whoopee. At least since I lost ten last year that’s ten less than I could’ve been.

The thing that gives me encouragement is to know that I can do it. I’ve done it before and can do it again, and I lost the weight in a shorter time than I gained it. So if I really dedicate myself, it can happen quickly as well.

Thought first I need to commit to getting enough sleep.

— 5 —

WHY in the world is it so hard for me to find things to talk about? I feel like a very boring person, you know.

I think I’m becoming that lady in Disney’s Atlantis – remember the older woman with the headset? Because that’s what I do all day. Take calls and become disillusioned concerning humanity’s general goodness.

Ok, not truly disillusioned but annoyed and unhappy. I used to work directly with customers face to face, and while there were plenty of times people got upset, their reactions – and my own – were mitigated by seeing each other and communicating with body language as well as words.

Over the phone, people easily become just another voice and just another call. I find myself too much playing on my cell phone even while on calls! I want to fix that.

Most disappointingly, I find the already easily irascible me more frustrated with people for not listening and for causing me to become just another voice on the end of a line. Do you know how many people will just hang up on you? And this isn’t cold calling, mind, they called in for something. But tell them something they don’t want to hear, wish them a good day after bad news because you have to in order to do your job, and people will be rude.

There’s a sliding scale of rude. There’s the person who responds “Yeah” or “Ok” after you say “have a good rest of your day” and then hangs up. Then there’s the person who gets upset verbally and hangs up. Most annoying is the person who hangs up right after you deliver the  bad news – as if you’re just some robot and not a human who also has dignity.

I get it. The business I work in – lending – is really important to a lot of people. Things can be made or broken with money, and finding out you can’t get that loan you were depending on can be devastating. But I don’t think it’s too much to ask to treat other people like human beings, even if you’re having a bad day.

And customer service is just hard to begin with. Sure, most people are pretty nice and they just have “bad days” but for customer service workers sometimes that means you get everyone else’s bad day in one day. And then you have to move on to the next customer as if nothing just happened.

It takes a lot of emotional energy and not everyone can do it. I’m surprised I can, to be honest. And kinda proud of myself too.

— 6 —

definitely went longer than three minutes for that one. But it felt kinda important. And I actually had something to say!

Oh yeah, another post that will problem come sooner than others will be a post on my Korea trip. The one I finally took. That was great. That was entirely too short and now I need to start saving to go back stat because I barely saw the country.

— 7 —

In the interests of getting to sleep at a (relatively) reasonable hour I’m going now! I apologize that these quick takes aren’t so quick, and are all over the place. But I guess that’s the idea – to make them MY Quick Takes, and not someone elses’.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

hOw the heck did i forget to title this what? sorry

— 1 —

So like the last time I posted was around this time last year too…Lord, are you trying to tell me something? Whatever. Lent is about nothing if not renewal and new beginnings, and I’m going for a lot of those in my life right now.

— 2 —

The biggest new beginning is that 8 months ago (what seriously it’s been that long help me), I moved!

Previously I’d been living with my parents, but it just so happened that a friend needed a roommate, my life was stagnant, and I had enough savings to completely move my stuff to another state. And so, I moved.

It’s been a good experience, so far. Difficult. Definitely difficult. I think I had the illusion that it would more easily jump start things in my life, which has not been the case – but things have been started. It’s just a slow, slogging, uphill battle.

dog struggle gif

The slowness, of course, often of my own creation.

— 3 —

To kinda sorta try to pick up where I left off – an unfinished Quick Takes I wrote in 2016, began like this:

This summer I was fortunate enough to attend my first (and likely only) kpop concert. July 4th weekend some friends and I traveled to Chicago to see GOT7. (That doesn’t stand for anything. It’s just GOT7. Because there are 7 members. Got it? GOT7? Ok I’m done.

nct mark laugh

Little did I know that was only the beginning.

I have now been to, what, 7 kpop concerts/events? Let’s see:

1.  July 2016 – GOT7 concert

2. January 2017 – GOT7 fanmeeting

3. July 2017 – Monsta X

4. May 2018 – The Rose

5. July 2018 – Monsta X

6. September 2018 – BTS

7. November 2018 – Day6

Hot dang, four last year. And one at least in 2019 if ticket buying next weekend goes well:

8. April 2019 – NCT 127

— 4 —

Ok wow, so one number won’t be enough to discuss that. Needless to say it has been a wild kpop ride so far – and if I’m honest I’m too obsessed with it. I’ve used a past-time I enjoy as a coping mechanism to run way from other things in my life, including God, and that’s bad. I’m working on (reluctantly) changing, because I don’t want to be enslaved to it.

There’s a big part of me that doesn’t want to let go of it in anyway shape or form, even a little. But I’m working on prying my fingers away inch by inch to focus on God and on other things, so that one day, after releasing my hold completely of this earthly thing, maybe I can enjoy it in a moderate fashion.

Or maybe I will never be able to. Pray for me that I may find that out, and do what God’s will is for me. Please pray for me to be open to Him in my life, open to seeing my flaws and trying to change them, and ultimately open to letting God love me.

Didn’t mean for that to get so serious. Honestly I want to talk more about the concerts here but that’s sort of a post of it’s own and these “quick” takes are in danger of getting too long.

— 5 —

I started re-reading The Dark is Rising Sequence recently. The books don’t capture me in the same way they used to – and now I can see many of the twists and turns coming from miles away. But that hasn’t made me appreciate the books any less.

the dark is rising

Part of the reason I appreciate them still is the nostalgia. I remember what it was like to first read them, the magic and the wonder. But at the same time it’s not just nostalgia and wanting that magic and wonder in reading back. I want to approach everything with that attitude, because I feel like in many areas my life is dry right now and I want that sense of renewal.

Also, this magic and wonder, and the sense of seriousness and weight given to these narratives is, I think, important. It impresses upon us the idea that there is Something greater to strive for; that this Thing can be both wonderful and beyond our understanding; that whoever we are, even if we’re children (or feel like children) all have our part in that striving. Even if it is mixed in with problematic or pagan ideas, a discerning reader and/or a discerning parent can use it to bolster such concepts in the right direction.

And also ultimately this series shows me how much I have grown – not merely in the sense of grasping plot direction, but in now thinking, “Eleven years old?? The protagonist is ELEVEN YEARS OLD? Get that baby in bed with a warm cup of milk right NOW what are they even doing outside the house much less doing magic and fighting evil what in the -“

— 6 —

Please pardon me if much of my blog, at least for now, is about myself. I am trying (perhaps not very hard, but trying) to escape myself, and escape talking about myself. Yet I am discovering for the first time, in a real way, that for many, many years I am the only person I have ever truly known, and I haven’t even known myself! So I’m learning to get to know myself and other people at the same time.

This may sound like some narcissistic selfish excuse and perhaps it is. But I am, sincerely, trying.

fake love bts mirror dance

나도 내가 누구였는지도 잘 모르게 됐어. 거울에다 지껄여봐, 너는 대체 누구니?? (Trans. Even I don’t know who I am. I babble at the mirror, saying, who the hell are you?) – Fake Love by BTS

— 7 —

To round it off – I went to see Captain Marvel recently and tremendously enjoyed it. Many of the criticisms leveled at it have been valid as far as it being mediocre and not the best Marvel movie, but due to the hype and the backlash against the hype I think it’s gotten an unfair share of both praise and excoriation. So, I plan to go see it again soon with all these new viewpoints on it swirling in my head, and pour out my thoughts in a review here!

In the meantime, the only thing I can promise for anyone to expect soon is a rundown of kpop concert experiences so far. I can’t believe I didn’t even just pop on here  or each concert to detail my experience. Probably because at that point I’d forgotten my password…and was blurting out my feels on Tumblr a bit more instantaneously….

That’s all, folks! See you on the flip side~

P.S. Did I mention I went to Korea last summer?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

Haha..hahaha..ha. Hi.

So. I still exist, I’m still alive, and I’m still on the internet.

After 3 years.

jhope gif 1

I know, I know, I’m really crappy about posting and writing and it’s because I didn’t have my life together and still don’t. And still don’t know what I wanna do with it – BUT.

I’m working on figuring it out.

I won’t promise to post regularly, but I’ll try. I need something extra to do. And if anything about this blog continues to interest anyone, thank you! And enjoy if you dare.

Also, changing the name from The Budding Philosopher to The Drama Llama. I’ve spent the last four years on kpop and kdramas – I intend to scale that back at some point but for now I’m gonna roll with it.

Expect a Quick Takes soon!