Tuesday, December 24, 2019

When the Camellia Blooms: Series Review

I'm moving ahead and calling this the best drama of 2019, and one that even long-time Kdrama retirees will lap up and adore. When the Camellia Blooms hits all the right notes, remaining uplifting, funny, edge-of-the-seat-suspenseful and romantic, while avoiding so many Kdrama plot traps and cliches. It navigates through its story with precision and ease, perhaps a bit languid at times, but never failing to pick back up and deliver its punches with whole-heartedness and tear-inducing heft. I love this drama, and can't recommend it enough.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Becoming by Michelle Obama: Book Review and Reactions

This was a marathon of a book, but after forcing myself to sit through all 15 hours of Michelle Obama's Becoming (the audiobook version narrated by her), I have at last finished it. I had hoped that Michelle's book may be more stimulating after hearing her interview on Oprah's podcast, but alas, the book falls into the same predictable narrative stream and carries the same self-aggrandizing tone that other recent famous-people-mid-life-autobiographies have done. It's not that it isn't worth a read, as there are plenty of juicy nuggets regarding life in the White House as well as thoughtful interludes and reflections on the challenges faced by minority groups in the US, but it's also more than a little long and meandering and surprisingly frustrating, ultimately not worthy of 15 hours of one's focused time. I can only recommend the audiobook, and only if you listen to it while doing something else. 

Below, I'll go through the main highlights of the book as well as my reactions to it (it was mixed to say the least), including what my key frustration was.

Why I will never take a Basic Economy flight again

Tis the holidays, which means lot of stressful travelers, packed airports, and congested roads and trains. It's within these conditions that I, through a series of inopportune developments, missed my Basic Economy flight on United and learned what the true costs are within the seemingly cheaper flights offered in this category. While a departure from my usual content, I figured this may be interesting or helpful for other travelers out there, so here goes what happened and what I took away:

Saturday, December 14, 2019

A Weekend in Austin, TX

Back in November I had a chance to spend a weekend in Austin, TX. It was filled with food, music and no shortage of sites and places to visit. Here's the itinerary we followed and all the stops we made:

Sunday, November 10, 2019

My Favorite Podcasts: Business Edition

I've been an avid podcast listener for a while now, and my go-to genre is business topics and interviews. Podcasts feel like an engaging and often enjoyable way to take in the latest developments and get the perspectives of experts. I can also listen to them while cleaning or doing work that doesn't require full concentration, and over time I've accumulated a list of favorites, listed here for those who may be on the hunt for something new to listen to:

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Hudson Valley Apple Picking: A Day at Harvest Moon / Outhouse Orchards

A popular New England activity that I'd never actually tried before is apple picking, which for New Yorkers means going upstate about 1.5 hours to one of the quaint apple farms and markets between September and October.

This year, I decided to brave the commute and headed to Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard and its neighbor conveniently across the street Outhouse Orchards in North Salem, NY. Note I don't have a car (as with most city-dwellers), so the ability to commute in via Metro North from the city was critical.

Below are my tips on getting in from NYC, as well as quick thoughts on both orchards.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Kingdom: Season 1 Review

Kingdom, written by Kim Eun-Hee of Signal fame, is one of the first fully Netflix produced Korean dramas, and is also one of the first thriller Korean dramas that I've completed in years. I don't consider myself a fan of the horror or thriller genre, preferring cheery and sweet romances to terrifying, action-packed fare, but Kingdom is one of the best dramas I've ever seen. It features an impressive cast (Joo Ji Hoon, Ryu Seung-Ryong, Bae Doona) and an ominous yet enthralling mythology beneath its horror story roots. To call it merely a zombie horror is to not do it justice, since the tale wraps around so many fascinating characterizations and layers of myth and ethos in its telling.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

A Day in Astoria, Queens NY

I'm starting a travel feature on this blog, as I've been making it a goal of mine to visit more spots across the US and sharing my real thoughts and itinerary. Hope this is helpful!

This past Labor Day, in the pursuit of a local and affordable day trip around NYC, I paid a visit to Astoria, Queens. Inspired by this post, I wanted to share my itinerary and experience for others planning a day here. Overall, while I was glad to have explored the neighborhood and broaden my familiarity with the different districts across NY, I wouldn't necessarily rate Astoria as a must-visit. It is a mainly residential area with older buildings, and the few visitor-friendly sites are fairly spread out, necessitating lengthy walks without much to see in between.

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Bachelorette: Season 15 Review & Reactions

I've been quietly watching The Bachelor and The Bachelorette for years now, and have seen so many of the tropes and dramatics that it's rare for any particular season to keep me engaged through its run. I dropped the franchise for a bit after the horrible bore and pointlessness that was Nick Viall's season (he couldn't even stay together with his finalist for a couple months), but then fell back in when I heard of the change-decision drama with Arie's season. After that, I sat through the retrospectively PAINFULLY BORING Becca season, the overhyped and very annoying Colton season (sorry, but never liked him or Cassie and never will, especially after seeing their very immature and fame-hungry Instagrams), which brings us to the just-completed season with Hannah Brown.

I have to say upfront, I was a believer in Hannah's potential as a lead from the very first rumors of her being the next Bachelorette. I don't understand how people could judge her so much for her toast mess-up with Colton, when she proved so real and entertaining the rest of his season (a bright light in a sea of rather superficial characters). I have certainly fumbled my share of speaking events, and related very much to the pain of it all. And as expected, her season didn't disappoint, though as with any season there were some draggy points in the middle when the Luke P drama overstayed its welcome. While I wouldn't call it the most watchable season ever (that honor belongs to either Chris Soules or Kaitlyn Bristowe), it was refreshing and pushed very much against the tropes that this show too commonly suffers from. The ending was certainly unexpected and Hannah was such a perfect lead for it all.

Monday, July 29, 2019

What to watch this summer: My Top 3 K-drama rom-coms

There are few better feelings than cozying up on a warm summer evening to a really good rom-com for hours on end. Since it's been so long since I've done a K-drama review, I figured I'd round up my top three rom-coms of the last two years into one post, for folks to watch (or re-watch) and enjoy while the air is hot and we are in the mood for heady summer romances.