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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Red Like Roses (RWBY Vol. 1 and 2)

RWBY, pronounced as “Ruby,” is an animated webseries developed by Rooster Teeth, the production company behind the Halo machinima Red vs. Blue and various other web shorts.

Often described as “an American-made anime,” the series takes place in a sci-fi/fantasy world with elements based on Grimm’s fairy tales, The Wizard of Oz, and various other legends & mythology.  RWBY is animated in a cel-shaded, 3D style that evokes video games like the Tales or Final Fantasy series, especially in the kinetic fight scenes that are the hallmark of RWBY creator Monty Oum. Continue reading

Musical Monday/Happy Labo(u)r Day

Happy Labor Day to my fellow Americans and a Happy Labour Day to our Canadian neighbors!  Hope you all have an enjoyable day today!  To start off your free day, here’s some music from a new obsession of mine, Run River North:

Run River North, formerly known as Monsters Calling Home, is an indie folk rock/pop band from Southern California.  The group is comprised of Daniel Chae (vocals, strings), John Chong (vocals, drums), Joe Chun (vocals, bass), Alex Hwang (lead vocals, guitar), Sally Kang (vocals, strings), and Jennifer Rim (strings).

The LA-based, Korean-American sextet has a great sound.  I would liken them to fellow indie folk artists Of Monsters and Men or The Head and the Heart.  The band’s line-up of multiple vocalists allows them to create lush harmonies that create a beautiful wall of sound behind lead singer Alex Hwang.

In addition to their musical style, I was initially drawn to Run River North by their poetic lyrics.  The band members come from a Christian background, and many of their lyrics are tinged with biblical allusions and spiritual metaphors.  As evident by some of the other bands I’ve highlighted on the blog, I really appreciate musicians who are willing to be upfront about their faith without giving up their own artistic integrity, and Run River North does a great job finding that balance.

As an Asian-American Christian with a love for indie folk music, Run River North is right up my alley.  But even if I wasn’t either of those things, I would definitely still be a fan.  With a rich musical sound, poetic lyrics, and a great group of talent, there is certainly much to be enjoyed from this terrific band.

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Musical Monday/Coffee Time with Wise the Simple

Hello, friends!  Hope you all had a wonderful Father’s Day with loved ones.  Sorry that I’ve been AFK for awhile.  While I drink my morning coffee, here are a few things that have been happening on my side of the blogosphere:

  • I was sick for a few days last week.  I used to never really get sick, but lately my body has been doing this thing where I have a cold for two days and then a lingering cough for weeks.  Not cool, respiratory system…
  • A large portion of my week was dedicated to Ingress.  You see, this past Saturday was the Persepolis Anomaly event in Milwaukee, WI. So this week was dedicated to “farming,” i.e. Hacking high level portals to stock up on inventory for the big battle.  I’ll write up a post about the event to be published some time in the near future.  I currently have a backlog of quite a few posts I have promised you in days long past, but I’m on an Ingress high, so this one will likely come out soonish.
  • I, along with the rest of the entire human population, saw Jurassic World on its opening weekend.  It was enjoyable.  Good, even.  Sure it had story problems and a lot of flaws in character development, but it was still fun.  I wasn’t let down by it or anything — it was exactly how I imagined it would turn out.  All in all, not a great film, but not a horribly bad one either.  It’s an entertaining flick meant to be a popcorn movie and nothing more.
  • Father’s Day was a laid-back affair at the Simple household this year.  We had a cookout, watched some movies and the U.S. Open golf tournament, and just hung out together.  Sometimes big celebrations aren’t necessary — sometimes playing fetch with the family dogs, eating ice cream, and simply chatting to catch up are the elements needed for a great summer day.

And now for some good music to start your week off right —  Jamie Cullum is a jazz-pop pianist and singer-songwriter.  I had the good fortune to see him live in Chicago a few years back, and he is not only an incredible musician, but an amazing performer as well!  Here he is performing a cover of Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” at Jazz à Vienne in 2014:

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Musical Monday (Also, an apology and note on promises)

Eesh.  I am not good at keeping my promises, am I?  I feel like the majority of my posts lately have been me making promises and then me apologizing for breaking the aforementioned promise.

The post I alluded to last week will now go up this Thursday.  It’s taking me a lot longer to work it into what I want it to be.  But I’ll try to have it done later this week (and will have a fun post tomorrow as well.)

I’ve come to realize that I need to stop making promises I cannot keep.  I know it comes from a good place (in that I’m trying to force myself to keep to a blogging schedule), but I feel awful whenever I miss a deadline.  So for now, no more promises.  I intend to keep posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I’m going to stop with the incessant apology posts that I keep making every time I falter from the schedule.

I realize that this non-committal attitude is a terrible way to run a blog — “Mehh, blog posts will go up wheneverrrr…”  But it’s kind of what I need to maintain my sanity right now as I juggle this and a handful of other creative endeavors.  I just don’t want to disappoint, so I’ll set the bar incredibly low.  Again, a terrible attitude.  But it is what it is for now.

To try and make things up to you, I thought I’d share some awesome music to make your Monday a bit more exciting.  So here’s a performance of “Stairway to Heaven” as performed by Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart and Jason Bonham in tribute to Led Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012:

Thanks for stopping by on our first Musical Monday.  Will this become a regular feature?

(via tumblr) Legend of Korra is property of Nickelodeon

Lake Street Dive Goes Down Smooth

I first heard of Lake Street Dive when they did a live set on NPR’s World Cafe last year.  I was driving home from work when I caught the beginning of their interview and the first song.  My ears instantly perked up at their harmonies and unique sound.  As soon as I got home, I ran from my car and quickly flipped the radio on to catch the rest of their performance.  I was an instant fan.

Lake Street Dive is a jazz-pop quartet featuring Rachael Price on lead vocals, Bridget Kearney on upright bass, Mike “McDuck” Olson on trumpet and guitar, and Mike Calabrese on drums.  The four met while they were all studying jazz at the New England Conservatory of Music.  Now, as Lake Street Dive, their style ranges from jazz to pop to folk, from ’60s soul to rock-and-roll.

The band came to prominence when their cover version of The Jackson 5‘s “I Want You Back” went viral.  And deservedly so!  Have a listen:

From there, the band booked several televised gigs on late night talk shows, as well as being asked to participate in the T Bone Burnett-curated concert, “Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis.”

When I get into certain bands, I will put them into rotation on a constant loop for weeks, or even months.  Lake Street Dive has received continuous play from the first time I heard them last year.  They are truly fantastic musicians!

Go check out their newest album Bad Self Portraits, a compilation of cover songs called Fun Machine, or their self-titled release.  Better yet, give all three a listen.  I promise you won’t regret it!

S is for Scott Pilgrim

Scott Pilgrim is a six-part graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, which was adapted into the 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  The titular Scott (portrayed in the movie by Michael Cera) is an unemployed Canadian in his early twenties who, at the start of the series, is dating a high school girl named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong).  As a slacker, a mooch, and all-around self-centered young man, Scott’s relationship is one of convenience rather than a true emotional connection.  His life is turned upside down when he meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the girl of his dreams… literally.

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