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.

5 Things I’ve Learned About K-pop (and Pop) Concerts

I’ve decided that in lieu of doing two concert reviews that would just go on and on, I’m going to compare my Super M and Jonas Brothers’ concert experiences in one post that goes on and on. Since my experience with Western pop artists’ concerts is limited, take what I say about those with a grain of salt. Incidentally, both concerts were at the same venue only a few days apart, so it’s a semi-legitimate comparison, though I sat in two different areas.

  • K-pop concerts don’t have openers.

I’d basically forgotten about concert openers, because rather than openers, most k-pop groups use their music played in the background to hype the crowd. The closer it gets to concert time sometimes the music gets louder and occasionally they’ll start a VCR or something visualizations on the jumbo-tron. But when the lights go down and the bold music starts to play, fans know it’s concert time.

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Finding a non-sexualized image of her was hard, goodness.

The Jonas Brothers had two openers  – Jordan McGraw (Dr. Phil’s son, apparently) and Bebe Rexha. McGraw was fine (his band and back-up dancers outperformed him), voice was decent and lyrics as one might expect. Bebe Rexha gave a much better performance with a much stronger voice. She also performed Rihanna & Eminem’s “Monster,” which she apparently wrote.

 

  • K-pop concerts pretty much start and end right on time.

I quite enjoyed Rexha’s performance (barring a few elements) but I would rather that she and McGraw had not taken an hour each to perform. 

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Literally me complaining to C about it.

Maybe because the Jonas Brother’s are such a popular act they can afford to start two hours late; I, however, did not go to see Jordan McGraw and Bebe Rexha. I went to see the JoBros. I also wanted to get more than four hours of sleep that night, which did not happen. If they’d started at 7:30 as they were billed, we probably could’ve made it home by 11 PM but as it was…I didn’t get home until about 12 or 12:30. Concert parking lots are hell.

K-pop concerts spoil fans in the extreme – certainly, they might start one, five, or near ten minutes past the start time, but they start on time. C and I arrived right on the dot, maybe two or three minutes late to our second Monsta X concert, and the boys had just come out on stage behind puffs of mist. (It was a kind of magical image, actually, because this happened just as we walked in, and those were the closest seats I had at the time, and near the closest I’ve ever been.)

None of this “two hours late” business, which also happened 11 years ago at my first Jonas Brothers’ concert.

 

  • K-pop concerts have official lightsticks/cheersticks; U.S. concerts pretty much have cell phones/hands.

Lights at concerts are certainly not unique to k-pop. However, k-pop has certainly normalized them into something lucrative. They’re a part of k-pop concerts I particularly enjoy! Just not their price tag (anywhere between $30 and $60). These lights have different settings, from staying continuously on to flickering to fading in and out. These days they’ve made them Bluetooth capable so that, once turned on, they can all connect and be controlled to flash in the same way, and flash different colors. Fans usually hold these and bounce them to the beat. Now imagine five different groups’ lightsticks all at one concert, flashing different colors at different times for different songs….

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This doesn’t usually happen to them….the NCT-bong is an anomalous monstrosity (even the group doesn’t like it).

In the U.S., not often desiring symbols of collectivity, we use our individual cellphones, which contain perfectly serviceable flashlights. Some people did this at the JoBro’s concert, though mostly for opener Jordan McGraw, and at his bidding. It’s a different atmosphere and vibe to see cell phones used, and they’re usually used for slower, more specifically emotional songs. It actually was quite pretty to see all the cellphone lights. And instead of bopping lightsticks to the beat we just fling our flat palms down like we’re slapping a table (we do this in k-pop too, don’t be fooled).

  • U.S. artist fans seem to scream at more appropriate times than k-pop fans.

Though I so far prefer the overall experience of a k-pop concert, I appreciated that JoBro fans apparently know how to keep a respectful silence (or at least a gentle murmur) while the members are talking. They scream, but they also want to hear what the JoBros have to say, so they keep their mouths shut so they can.

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Me tryna shush fans at a kpop concert.

As I’ve lamented many times before, k-pop fans as a whole seem to have no such sense of restraint. Which to me is quite ironic, as this is fan’s only chance to hear and possibly understand their “idols” in person. Not to mention it’s even more frustrating than at a U.S. concert, because it takes longer since they often use a translator; and all the screaming can cow members more timid in their English to not even try it out.

  • Both concerts seem to have the same amount of ments (comments); kpop concerts might even have more sometimes.

However, despite sharing a native language with the JoBros, I found they made the same amount of comments as k-pop groups do at U.S. concerts – possibly even fewer.

This is somewhat skewed, of course – this was a JoBros comeback tour, with years and years of discography behind them and great expectations from fans to hear songs they hadn’t heard live in ten years. Perhaps they were focusing more on playing everything rather than saying everything, if you will. Western artists also aren’t subject to the same expectations of fan engagement that come with k-pop.

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Most k-pop groups that come to the U.S., on the other hand, have comparably large discographies but consistent annual or semi-annual comebacks, not ten year breaks. Fans don’t have the same expectations of hearing older portions of discography, but do expect to be able to film lots of cute, cool moments and ments since they may only see these artists once in their life times.

So overall, there’s few negatives to either sort of concert, and to be honest as actually annoyed as I become about the screaming while talking – I’d rather get to out of the concert on time and not be frustrated having to wait for the people I came to see to start. But both have been entirely enjoyable experiences, and seeing the JoBros again – it was quite the (good) blast from the past.

I’m sorry I’ve broken a thousand words here, but all in all I think I’ve done OK. Imagine it as two five-hundred word posts squished together!

나비효과(Butterfly Effect) by EXO

— 1 —

Maybe Saturday is a better day for this these days? I keep forgetting OTL

Here, have some of EXO’s new album. I actually like other songs better, but my two favorite songs on the album were ruined for me courtesy of Park Chanyeol – or whoever wrote his raps. I have a policy of avoiding any songs that take the Lord’s name in vain, and though I don’t lay as much responsibility at his door (it’s a standard thing to do in the U.S., in Korea it likely doesn’t have the same weight, perhaps even for Christians) but it frustrates me nonetheless. I still have two other songs I like from the album so there’s that.

— 2 —

Still coming to grips with the fact that I spent many formative years as a part of a cult, doing better now that I’ve finally gotten to talk to my therapist about it (who was sick last week, and it feels a month since I’ve been to therapy even though it’s just been a week).

But I had personal days to use before the end of the year, and my manager told me I should use them before they expire, so I have a long four-day weekend ahead of seeing Shakespeare plays, playing Super Mario Sunshine, and (hopefully, maybe, possibly?) playing some soccer.

— 3 —

What have and haven’t I talked about lately?? I don’t remember. Oh! I saw Frozen II the other night and quite enjoyed it. I was disappointed with it – it’s plot holes were at least as bad, if not worse, than the original’s – but at the same time I felt it had greater potential, even as an adaptation of The Snow Queen. It had a spark of fairy tale that had me excited – and Elsa’s new song “Into the Unknown” is much better than Let It Go.”

BBR: Raven Flight by Juliet Mariller

I finally finished the second book in Mariller’s Shadowfell series. As expected, it follows Neryn’s further questing to learn the best use of her Caller powers. This makes me like it neither more nor less than the first book. So far, the series just seems – meh.

raven flight

I still enjoy the setting but it’s – it’s a bit boring! It somehow lacks the wonder and engagement that I remember from reading similar stories in my youth. Neryn, the (sort of) chosen one, must journey to learn the use of her powers and defeat the evil king oppressing her world. She falls in love with a youth, but both believe their relationship must take a backseat to their rebellion. It’s quite the same as many other stories. Even Harry Potter features this narrative spread out over seven books.

Stories don’t need novelty. But where Harry Potter and even Mariller’s own Wildwood Dancing develop interesting, enchanting worlds using well-trod tropes, Shadowfell’s falls flat. The plot wants to hit every trope instead of existing as its own storyand because of this fails to create a world that truly captures attention. So what is it that Shadowfell is missing?

I can’t put my finger on it but I would say something that makes it it’s own story. Even stories with similarity to others, that sometimes seem cobbled together, can be their own stories and be interesting and fun. They don’t need to be the best or original to have such an existence. Again, Harry Potter and Wildwood Dancing borrow heavily from existing mythologies, the latter being based on a specific fairy tale.

Neither must stories be complex – we enjoy fairytales and myths of every culture which are quite simplistic and move very quickly. But Shadowfell lacks that spark they and other stories have. It may not be bad but it is a lesser book because of it. I believe I’m frustrated by that because after Wildwood I had higher expectations.

Perhaps it’s simply my age (and thus my nostalgia), depression, and disillusionment – but I think it’s also the change in modern writing style and aim. I don’t like it. A main aim of writing has certainly always been reaching your audience. As times change, how a writer approaches an audience changes. But more and more these days we seem to have exchanged beauty for economy and prize ease of expression over its breadth. Consumerism has infected even writing, and I’m sure writers are pushed to churn out work of dubious quality to fit a tight schedule – not to mention that since more and more people have the time and money to publish just because they want to or because someone (rightly) thinks they’ll make money (After and Fifty Shades of Gray, anyone?), we get so much slop published.

I didn’t intend for this to turn into this kind of rant – and Shadowfell isn’t even necessarily contributing to those problems. It’s just failed to be as interesting to me as other books have, comparatively. It’s still miles above certain other books I won’t mention. I’m also not trying to be elitist – I’m more elitist about books than about music (because the two different mediums hit different), but I also have very little room to be because I have read plenty of books of varying quality and enjoyed them immensely.

I simply worry that we’re focusing so much on use and practicality and escapism that we forget about beauty and excellence.

 

 

All My Lovin’ by The Beatles

— 1 —

I’m being sneaky here – I heard this version first and then the original, and prefer this one, but like both (the song ends at 2:10 in the video). And no, no one is actually playing an instrument except perhaps Chanyeol on the drums. He’s kind of an instrument boy wonder. I mean this is the person who pays thousands (millions?) of dollars for genuine-looking Iron Man and Deadpool costumes so he would be extra enough to know lots of instruments.

— 2 —

I know, a day late, a dollar short with my Quick Takes. But I had a four day Thanksgiving weekend, spent almost all of it with N and her family. Thanksgiving day was nice, although always awkward for me these days – I have no idea how to be sociable so I end up being quiet, or awkwardly make abortive conversation attempts. But I played Smash Bros. and Mario Kart so there’s that.

My car battery also died on me Wednesday night and this was on top of having (what to me felt like) made a lot of mistakes at work that day, and so the sweet release of my four day weekend seemed further away. Luckily, it’s been great so far, and I just now finished and scheduled three Brief Book Reviews.

So I’m not blaming myself too much for skipping Quick Takes on Friday and playing lots of Super Mario Sunshine instead.

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— 3 —

I also had my first real introduction to D&D Friday night. Not a proper one exactly – we did a one-shot campaign where our DM created our characters, and we had to find out who we were along the way. He did a wonderful job (it was superhero themed) and I had lots of fun. Apparently they don’t do D&D on the regular but I hope they make it more of a thing – I really enjoyed it.

Hesitate by Jonas Brothers

— 1 —

True to my word, I’m here with 3 quick takes!! And I just went to the Jonas Brothers concert, so yes, it’s a Jonas Brother’s song. But also because, though all their songs are perfect, they do have some good ones. Including this one, very much.

My second Jonas Brothers concert, 11 years apart. My inner 18 year old was quite gratified, and I forgot about songs I have not listened to probably since I was 18. I forgot just how much I liked those songs, and I realized one reason (other than kpop) that I haven’t listened to them is they’re all in my parents’ iTunes account.

As a teen I didn’t have my own, definitely not until I was at least 16 or 17, and I went through a few laptop changes and moving music files…so I lost things sometimes.

— 2 —

Super M was also great, though I wish they’d done an encore, and more of the usual VCRs you get at concerts. SM never delivered on the “Taemin as a chaotic Nick Fury gathering the others” because we didn’t get back story of any sort.

But at least they didn’t have two openers that took an hour each so the concert was a four hour event and I only got four and a half hours of sleep that night *side-eyes the JoBros.*

— 3 —

I’m coming to terms with the fact that my family was part of a cult for some of my formative years, and I didn’t realize the damage it did to me. I thought I was the least hurt of my family, that it didn’t really affect me at all because I was least involved, but now I know it doesn’t matter how much. And especially being at such a tender age….no wonder I struggle so much.

It’s made me much angrier. But in a good way. It seems strange to say that – I’m angry and that’s a good thing. It’s just the fact that I feel as if my anger is waking up, and that’s good. That’s an improvement. Because previously I would feel I wasn’t able to get angry about important things. I can get ticked off by stupid celebrity things or someone’s small idiosyncrasy, but not big things.

Didn’t mean to end on such a heavy note, but suffice to say I’m doing ok and I’m here writing Quick Takes, so that’s something!

T_T

I’m sorry again for forgetting my quick takes. I really did think of and was determined to write them Thursday! But I forgot about it both because A) my cough and sniffles started getting worse so I was determined to just rest and B) I had to pack for yesterday’s SuperM concert because I had to head straight there after work.

We had an EXCELLENT time at the concert – it’s the first time I’ve seen an ocean of fanlights in the U.S., and to think it’s made of about five different groups/subunits fanlights is crazy!!! The members definitely gave their all (though I sort of wish they hadn’t, as Taemin was apparently under the weather and Kai could barely stand up straight after “Jopping,” and I saw Baekhyun holding his lower back at one point), and I’m still processing that I managed to see at least some members (including my bias!) of two groups I will likely never see as a whole.

Each of the members performed solos as well. I wish my vocabulary had the same breadth as it used to, because I want to stop describing things as just “beautiful” or “amazing” or “lovely” or “wonderful” or “divine” or “ethereal.” But Ten’s performances especially were all that and different, too. How can one describe in one word a dancer’s exactness of movement that somehow couples with soft slowness, all executed gracefully?

I definitely don’t know. I know that makes him sound like the absolute best dancer in the world and while he’s ridiculously talented I’m sure there are many more so, but his dancing is beautiful so I was trying to go overboard in my description, to exercise my vocabulary. And I really couldn’t find a word to encapsulate what I wanted to express! Maybe gracefulness itself? Or perhaps passion or expression? I don’t know technical terms for dance so I don’t know what I’d even be referring to anyway.

Anyhow, I’m going to stop rambling about the concert for now. I’ve decided I’m going to shorten my Quick Takes to three in an effort to actually dash them off during the week, and build back up to seven. Getting sick really did put a damper on everything!

Ttfn!

Rewatching Old Favorites

I thought I had learned when I graduated college that I would continuously be learning and growing and changing and that humans can’t reach a plateau even if we tried. Guess I hadn’t. (I don’t mean we can’t plateau in action or mediocrity, so perhaps that’s incorrect to say but – we can choose not to be aware of change but it happens nonetheless.)

I’m finding this further as I rewatch Doctor Who. Ever since it left Netflix I sort of…forgot about it and just how much I enjoyed it. I’ve skipped over a few episodes I wasn’t in the mood for and am now at the end of Season 4. There was so much I had forgotten, and now my perspective has changed on a few things.

And stayed the same on others.

I still don’t like the end of Season 4 – Rose getting a Tenth Doctor stand in (he deserves to be loved on his own merits thank you!). But I do still love Rose and Ten together. But Rose isn’t my favorite companion anymore. That honor goes to Donna, probably due to the change in my state in life. And I appreciate Martha and River Song infinitely more than I did (though so far I still prefer Moffat’s one-off episodes to his arcs….we’ll see if that changes).

An idea that really surprised me (and should’n’tve) was that it’s not so much the Daleks physical indestructiblity that makes them terrifying – it’s their inhumanity and their persistence. This tends to be a major theme surrounding them, but for some reason it just solidified in my brain. Of all aliens the Daleks are alien – they can’t be appealed to or reasoned with, having been created with no emotions and one mindset.

Those are the villains that horrify me most, anyway. Like I’ve said before that’s why zombies horrify me more than vampires. I think my personality just rebels at the thought.

Anyway, them’s the Doctor Who thoughts so far.

Back to Earth by Steve Aoki feat. Fall Out Boy

— 1 —

I first noticed this as background music while watching a Super M behind video, and the MV itself is curious. The story it tells is sparse, but it’s cool because you can sort of fill in the blanks yourself.

— 2 —

It feels forever since I’ve written, and truly it has been. The past two weeks have been a bit of a blur. A mostly good blur – I started my job! – but an also frustrating blur, as I got sick my first day of work and had to take my second day of work off. I’ve been battling a cold for the past two weeks. It’s finally in the residual cough stage.

— 3 —

My job isn’t bad – repetitive, and a lot to learn! A bit back to the drawing board as I’m in a totally new industry now. But my coworkers seem nice and I have a lot of flexibility.

— 4 —

The Super M concert is next week and that still hasn’t registered. Baekhyun, Taemin, and Kai are not real. Taeyong and Mark are half-real because I’ve seen them before, and Ten and Lucas i somehow can accept their existence on principle. The older three, though….

— 5 —

I’ve left off reading partly because I’ve been sick. I do want to get back to it but my energy has just flagged. If you’d have asked me when I was younger if I ever thought I’d be too sick to read, I’d have said no. How times change.

But I have been watching Melting Me Softly, though I’ve put that on pause to watch The Tale of Nokdu which is an unexpectedly delightful saeguk so far. With an uncommon premise – a young man convincingly disguises himself as a woman to infiltrate a village and find out why his family keeps getting attacked.

— 6 —

C has been very kind while I’ve been sick, making me tea and hot toddies and such, so shout out to her for being a wonderful friend!

— 7 —

And thanks be to God for the changes in seasons – as much as I blame the change for my cold, I’m also happy to get the rain, and crunchy leaves, and deep somber colors.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Brief Book Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

As a teen, especially in high school, I spent a lot of time at the local library. I volunteered there as part of the Teen Advisory Group. Teens these days have it good – whole rooms dedicated to them and not just a few stacks!

In my time among the teen stacks I discovered author Neal Shusterman. I haven’t read much of his work, but I’ve enjoyed what I have read. So I decided to re-read the first of series of his that I’d never finished – the Unwind dystology, as it’s called. It’s a not-so-distant possible future wherein a second Civil War (called the Heartland War) is fought over abortion. Though compellingly written and very interesting, something about the whole concept feels….disingenuous. Or rather than disingenuous, sort of off-target.

unwind cover

I could, potentially, see the country coming to blows about abortion – except I think the future of civil wars, at least in the U.S., will be less all-out physical fighting and more psychological warfare and pockets of resistance. Also, the way it plays out in this world doesn’t seem to make much sense: the American military manages to stop the fighting between the pro-life and pro-choice armies by suggesting legislation called the Bill of Life. This states that a pregnancy can be “retroactively terminated” up to age eighteen through a process called unwinding, provided the person is not actually killed. What is unwinding? Harvesting for parts. Except done in a “painless” way while the victim is still conscious (and therefore technically not “dying”).

Horrifying. Especially as Shusterman actually describes an unwinding from a victim’s point of view. Literally sickening. This book is not for the faint of heart nor the younger set. Truly, I shiver as I write this.

Supposedly, the military suggested this as a ridiculous solution to show the country how ridiculous fighting about it was – but instead both forces accepted the compromise. I still think that’s a compromise so ridiculous it would’ve been shot down, especially as abortion is specifically killing a child in the womb and killing outside the womb is still killing! especially if intentionally! – but then again, decades ago I’m sure the majority would’ve said the same about abortion.

The worst part of the compromise is that parents and guardians can have their children unwound for any reason. Even religions have absorbed the idea so that certain children are raised specifically as tithes – to be unwound and sacrificed for God. However, most people sign the non-rescindable unwind order because they have “problem” children – children who are depressed or have anger issues or are kleptomaniacs or are just struggling.

I appreciate what Shusterman tries to do – he presents various pro-life and pro-choice views, sometimes even mixed in one person, and makes them all sympathetic as people. And perhaps, as a vehicle for understanding each other’s viewpoints, the book could do good.

But he only makes one firm point towards the middle, in what could be seen as a throwaway conversation: one character, discussing when life and consciousness begins, says he doesn’t know, and that if more people were willing to admit that the world would probably be in a different situation. The implication seems to be that we should “stop fighting and talk it out and stop pretending we know what we should do,” as if the morality of the situation is so nuanced that it nuanced itself right out of existence.

I’m not saying there are no nuances to abortion and how society treats pregnant women in tough situations, especially for those who claim to be pro-life but treat pregnant women abominably through either misdirected compassion or anger and hatred.

But rather than saying people should admit they don’t know when life begins and start talking there, he should be encouraging us to get to the root of our disagreement. We should ask each other and truly listen to why we believe what we believe. Because as someone who is pro-life myself, I know – or to use more neutral terms, believe that I know, when life begins, just as much as someone who is pro-abortion perhaps believes that they don’t know (as far as I know, opinions are mixed but include that life begins at conception but that the child’s life is subordinate to the mother’s; as well as considering ending up on this side of the birth canal to be the beginning of life and humanity).

What people don’t understand is that, similarly now to the fundamental differences in Eastern and Western thought, Western society no longer has a common moral mindset or approach. Words used to describe moral concepts and phenomena no longer have the same meaning from person to person. So rather than saying, “Yeah, we all don’t actually know, we’re just pretending we do,” which while true for some is not true for all (humans are not always so wishy-washy for all that, we have beliefs whether we know them or not), we should say, “Let’s listen and probe to discover which mindset each of us is coming from.” Define our terms. Ask, “How do you define life? Why do you define it that way?”

Such an approach won’t cause a sudden agreement on abortion either way, but it will help us to understand each other and how to approach each other. And I say this in the spirit of desiring the truth – I believe that over and above what we want to believe truth is most important, so discussions and debates ought to be directed toward that purpose, and not for the sake of human pride or victory (though I am as guilty of desiring those as much as, if not more, than others).

But here, even, some will disagree because they don’t believe in objective truth, so our mindsets already diverge – and if they diverge on something so fundamental, you can see how differently our definitions must be, and therefore how wildly different our conclusions.

Lastly, Unwind seems to want to impress the seriousness of the issue on the reader; but in my view, by introducing unwinding, has created an issue that threatens to distract from its main theme. The two evils – abortion and unwinding – stem from essentially the same problem: human selfishness. But unwinding leaves room to object, “But these are already living people, of course we shouldn’t kill them, conscious or not; it’s pro-lifers fault for insisting we can’t abort pregnancies that we got into this mess,” to which anyone truly pro-life would say “we shouldn’t be killing them in either case!” It’s predicated on a whole separate conception of consciousness (assuming the possibility of one’s consciousness continuing to exist once one’s whole body – brain included – is torn apart) that doesn’t seem to bear much relationship to the topic of abortion.

(Even from this we can derive questions semi-relevant: does life equate to consciousness? How do you define consciousness? Simply, the question regarding abortion here would be does life require consciousness; whereas unwinding poses a question as to the possibility of consciousness in a state where consciousness, as far as we know, is usually terminated. Different questions.)

This is too great a subject to treat of in so few words, but I wanted to talk about it in the context of Unwind specifically, since this is a book review. And being quite the coward, but also conscious of the usual futility of internet debates, and this being my personal blog, I refrained from more strongly and confidently stating my views on the subject.

 

 

Happy All Saint’s Day!

I am sorry, again, about the lack of quick takes…..this was my first week at work and normally that wouldn’t be an excuse but it was my first week at work AND I got sick. I even had to take Tuesday off because I was sick. Probably should’ve taken Wednesday too but I didn’t want to seem flaky.

And since my brain has been a puddle of goo that’s been trying to concentrate on how to learn my new job, everything else has taken a backseat.

Next week! Next week next week next week. It WILL happen.