Singing the Praises of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Heyyyyyy… Remember when I made a New Year’s Resolution to write up at least one blog post per week and then didn’t put one up in the first week after said resolution was made??  Classic! 😛

At any rate, this past Sunday night was the Golden Globes ceremony.  I don’t put much stock into awards shows, and Sunday’s fare was pretty boring, in my opinion. But I did get super excited when Rachel Bloom won Best Actress in a Television Series Musical/Comedy for her work on The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend!

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Crazy-Ex Girlfriend is a strange little show that seems to have flown underneath most people’s radars since its debut last fall.  Bloom –who co-created the show along with The Devil Wears Prada writer, Aline Brosh McKenna — stars as Rebecca Bunch, a New York lawyer who struggles with depression and a sense of unfulfillment in life despite her successful career.  When she randomly runs into an old childhood sweetheart named Josh Chan (played by Vincent Rodriguez III), she impulsively decides to move to his hometown of West Covina, California.  …But not because Josh lives there!  It’s totally just a coincidence.  Yeah…

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M is for Mahjong

There are certain sights, sounds, and smells that remind me of childhood.  The smell of autumn leaves, the taste of blue moon ice cream, the exciting flurry of a first snowfall.  One of these sensory memories is the clattering shuffle of mahjong tiles heard over the laughter and cheerful conversation of relatives and family friends at parties held when I was young.

Mahjong is game that originated in China, but now has many variants.  The gameplay is similar to rummy in that a player needs to get sets of matching numbers or suits.  Filipino-style mahjong, the way I was taught by my lola (grandmother), is a much simpler form of mahjong than other variants.  In Filipino mahjong, only three suits are used: bamboo/sticks, stones/balls, and Chinese characters.  All other tiles are considered “flowers,” and are taken out of play as the game progresses.  (I’m sure anyone who plays any other form of Mahjong is shaking his or her head in bewilderment and horror right now.)  The goal of the game is to complete five sets of three matching or sequential tiles and one pair, or seven pairs and one set of three.

Mahjong tiles

I love playing mahjong.  My older sister, younger brother, and I were all taught how to play by our lola and our parents.  As such, the game is more than just a fun activity, rather, a piece of our cultural heritage passed down.  It’s also just a great reason to sit around a table together and have a relaxing time talking and having fun.

No blog post of mine about tabletop gaming would be complete without me going on about my love of components, and mahjong tiles have to be among my favorites.  I love the sound they make when you stack them together or shuffle them around on the table.  I love the weight and feel of them in my hands.  My lola (who, even in her 80s, can still beat the snot out of anyone in a game) can tell what tile is in her hand without flipping it over to look at it.  When she draws a tile from the stacked wall, she merely grazes the pad of her thumb over the etching, and can figure out what it is — it amazed me as a young girl and continues to do so to this day.  I suspect magic. 

Filipino-style mahjong is relatively easy to learn.  But it is still an excellent game of decision-making and strategy.  For me, it is also something more than that.  It is a game learned from family and for spending time with family.  When I hear the clacking shuffle of mahjong tiles, I’m reminded of my childhood, of my loved ones, of home.

K is for Kamala Khan

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.  I don’t know who I’m supposed to be.”

“Who do you want to be?”

-Ms. Marvel Vol. 3, #1: No Normal

I didn’t grow up reading comics.  Most of my knowledge of all the iconic characters came via television and movies.  I watched Batman’s adventures on film thanks to Burton, Nolan, and, yes, Schumacher; and watched Terry McGinnis take up the cowl every Saturday morning in Batman Beyond.  While I never actually read them, I remember flipping through the pages of my Wolverine-obsessed cousins’ X-Men comics as a kid, looking at the pictures.  Then the film came out in 2000, and I would race home after school to learn more about the mutant heroes via reruns of the animated series.  And now, like many people, I am currently obsessed with every part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

All that to say, I love the stories and mythology of superheroes, but haven’t really experienced them in their original form — comic books.  I’ve read one or two here and there, (The Killing Joke comes to mind), but never followed a full story arc.  As a bit of a completist, the amount of backstory I would miss by jumping in now is disheartening. Comic book characters and storylines are so intertwined; it all seems so daunting as a new reader.  Because of this, I have heretofore stuck with non-superhero, non-Big Two comics/graphic novels. (For the curious: I’ve finished Scott Pilgrim and Y: The Last Man, dabbled in Fables, and am currently working my way through Saga.)

But this past year, I kept hearing about a new superhero.  That is, a new person taking up the mantle of an established hero.  A new character that felt different and fresh.  All the reviews were glowing, and the excitement surrounding this introduction spread like wildfire.  I am referring, of course, to the new Ms. Marvel.  A superhero whose alter-ego is a teenage, Muslim, Pakistani-American girl from Jersey City — Kamala Khan.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 3, #1: No Normal (via Marvel)

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E is for Easter Monday

Happy Easter Monday, everybody! I hope that you and yours had a wonderful holiday!

As a Christian, Easter is a particularly special time for me and my family. On Good Friday, my home church had a special evening service. I’m such a mess of a human being, and it is always humbling to reflect on the sacrifice that Christ paid for even a fool like me. I don’t deserve His love, and am so completely wonderstruck that He chooses to give it to me unconditionally anyway!

On Saturday, I attended a Filipino cooking class at the local cultural center. Both of my parents are from the Philippines, but I was born and raised here in the US. So it’s always fun to learn more about my cultural heritage. After that, I went shoe shopping with my mom. I absolutely hate shopping. I don’t like crowds, and I’m not too interested in fashion (I would wear tennis shoes, jeans, and a t-shirt every day if I could. Curse you, social conventions!!). But I ended up getting a few new pairs in preparation for spring. I spent the rest of the day just hanging out with family — watched some tv, played some games (tried Hanabi for the first time; it was fun!). After that, I got some reading in before bed time (As to the book’s title, I’ll tell you this much: look for my review when we get to the letter O…).

Sunday was, of course, Easter. I helped lead worship at Church with my brother. He played guitar and I played bass. It was a good service; lots of new faces as regular attendees brought family and friends. While Easter is often associated with springtime and candy, to those who follow Jesus Christ, it is a reminder of our Lord’s resurrection and His power over death.

O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?
O Church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead
He’s alive! He’s alive!
– “Christ is Risen” by Matt Maher

After church, we went to my aunt and uncle’s house. We had a potluck style meal complete with ham, pork, salmon, egg rolls, macaroni salad, rice, vegetable soup, and more. It was all so delicious, and as per my own personal custom at holiday family gatherings, I over-ate.

I have a very close-knit family with many cousins, and we always get into some kind of foolishness whenever we get together. Our Easter tradition consists of double elimination, tournament-style foam sword fights and several rounds of Ninja. Did I mention that we’re all in our 20s and 30s? Yeah… Once we all get together though, we revert to our eight-year-old selves. We’re all such geeks. I love them so much!

Once our rapidly aging bodies decided we had had enough physical activity for the day, we went inside to play some parlor games. This year we mainly stuck to Celebrity (We play a three round variant where round 1 is any clue, 2 is a three word clue, round 3 is Charades only) and Telephone Pictionary/Telestrations.

All in all, I had a wonderful weekend with my family. I am so incredibly blessed to live so close to my parents, siblings, and most of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I love them all dearly and treasure the wonderful times we share!

How about you, dear blog friends? How did you spend your Easter weekend? Any fun family traditions?