favorite things this week #3 – MUSIC EDITION

Hi there, folks, and welcome to another riveting episode of “My Favorite Things This Week!” I know, it’s been a while, and you probably forgot I started making these silly little lists last year. However, now that I have the time (bless) to enjoy things again, these lists will be coming back in full swing each week. This one is going to be short & sweet.

1. KAYE – “Honey”
I discovered Charlene Kaye’s music back in high school. I was at the peak of my Glee phase, and found her duet with Darren Criss, “Suit & Tie,” while looking for super obscure Darren songs and covers on YouTube. For the longest time, I wanted that song to be the tune I’d dance to on my first date with someone during a picnic under the stars…okay, TMI. Anyway, after that, I was immediately hooked on her music. She sort of took a hiatus from solo projects for a few years when she joined San Fermin as their lead singer, but recently released a brand new single. “Honey” is, to me, truly the song of the summer due to its infectious beats and empowering lyrics. The song has only been out for a few days now, but I’ve definitely blasted it in my car with the windows down multiple times. The queen is back, ladies and gentlemen.

(Other songs to check out: Woman Up (feat. Kalae Nouveau), Animal Love II, her cover of Beyonce’s “Rocket”)

2. Yuna – “I Wanna Go”
Yeah, I know, this song was released a few years ago. (Cue shouts of: “Sam, you’re late!”) Sue me. Why didn’t I discover Yuna’s perfection earlier on? I first heard of her through my friend Lena, who had attended one of her concerts in the Bay Area. Apparently, she had performed a Lemonade mash-up…and y’all know how much I love Queen Beyonce. I have yet to check out Yuna’s actual medley, but my friend’s Instagram post sparked my interest. Thanks, Lena!

3. Chloe x Halle – “Drop”
I’ve got Beyonce to thank for this. Two years ago, she posted a video of two sisters singing an absolutely beautiful cover of “Pretty Hurts” from her self-titled album. Now, Chloe x Halle are signed to her record company, Parkwood Entertainment, and have released their debut EP, Sugar Symphony. The contrast between their voices, and the way they blend so well is everything to me, and I can’t wait to see them continue to slay.


favorite things this week #2

A cool new EP! A comic series that isn’t published by Marvel! A manga series I thought I’d never read again! Enjoy.

1. Hayley Kiyoko’s EP, This Side of Paradise (iTunes | Amazon | Google Play)

I haven’t bought an album so quickly in a long time. Hayley Kiyoko’s (of Lemonade Mouth fame and one of the stars of the up and coming 21st century adaptation of Jem and the Holograms) EP, This Side of Paradise is fun and fresh, bringing together a mix of vibrant, infectious beats and some really, really good synth. I came across the first single off the EP, “Girls Like Girls” on Tumblr last week, and fell in love with it. Here’s what Kiyoko says about the song and the meaning behind it:

I wrote the song a little over a year ago and it kind of started in a very lighthearted place. There are so many songs about guys stealing other guys’ girls and all that kind of stuff so I just thought it’d be a really fun song where a girl steals another guy’s girl. I just loved that confident perspective that I feel like isn’t really out there as much. – Hayley Kiyoko (x)

Looooooooove it. The video is also very aesthetically pleasing (with soft, warm color palettes) and feels very Sofia Coppola-y. As of now, it has more than a million views on YouTube – a great success for Kiyoko as it was her first time co-directing a music video. Another great song on the EP (but let’s be honest, everything on it is great) is “This Side of Paradise” – the EP’s namesake. Please do check out her music! You won’t regret it.

HIGHLIGHTS: Already mentioned above, but I am so in love with the Sofia Coppola aesthetic – female centric, soft palettes (those warm tones woooow), even the song (“Girls Like Girls”) seemed like it could be in The Bling Ring or something. I don’t know, man, I love it.

2. Alex + Ada by Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna, published by Image Comics

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 10.44.18 PM

I was looking for comics to add to my “Comics Wish List” on Amazon two weeks ago and decided I should branch out and read/purchase comics that aren’t published by Marvel. I’ve been interested in Image Comics’ lineup for quite sometime. My roommate, Ivy, introduced me to The Wicked + The Divine (which deserves a post all on its own when I get my own copies of the first two volumes), and I was hooked. I wanted to read more from this publisher, because they are pretty much the Netflix of comic publishers — and I love Netflix. (I will explain this some other time.)

Alex + Ada is set in the future where robots and artificial intelligence are essentially a part of our everyday lives. Alex is your average joe (…but in the future) who is going through the motions of his everyday life after a pretty devastating breakup. For his birthday, his grandmother bequeaths him with the latest in realistic androids, a Tanaka X5. Androids in the future pretty much eat, sleep, and can do the things normal people do, but they have more restrictions due to a massacre that occurred at an AI factory, Nexware, wherein an android killed people. Alex is a bit wary because, a) yeah, there was a massacre and androids are kind of scary when sentient, b) androids are not necessarily good company because they are androids.

I’m not going to spoil too much, but he realizes that she is definitely more than a robot and should make her own decisions, and he ultimately makes a decision that will change his and her life forever.

The art is extremely simple and beautiful, and explores what it really means to be human/real. I finished the entire first volume in less than 20 minutes because I was hooked. I’m definitely going to buy the second volume when my local comic book store puts it on the shelves.

COOL ANECDOTE TIME: Sarah Vaughan, one of the authors of the series, is married to Bryan K. Vaughan, writer of Saga, another fantastic series published by Image. ALSO, special shout out to the staff of my local Comics ‘N’ Stuff – y’all are great. 

3. Naruto Gaiden (Read on MangaMint

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a young girl named Samantha Andico told herself that she wouldn’t get sucked back into Naruto. Well, fast forward many moons later and here she is, reading Naruto again and nitpicking at it even though she hasn’t read the manga or watched the anime since she was 15. She will forever be Naruto trash. The end.

Just kidding. Well, I’m not kidding about the part where I kinda stopped reading Naruto for about six years. I did stop. I used to be extremely obsessed with anime and manga – and hey, that’s not a bad thing at all – but I stepped out of that phase, mainly because it seemed like Naruto wouldn’t end any time soon. I think I stopped reading during the arc after Sasuke forms Team Taka. Damn, that was a long time ago. Well, anyway, I found out that the series ended last fall, so I read the last chapter for nostalgia’s sake and cried like a baby (see my Parks & Rec finale post for more on this), got mad at things, thought of different ways I would have ended the series, and yeah, I basically went through all the motions one would after the end of a series that played a huge role in their life. And then I found out Naruto Gaiden was a thing and freaked out because it was a next generation thing (DAMN IT, KISHIMOTO, DID YOU GO ON FANFICTION.NET AND STEAL IDEAS FROM UNSUSPECTING FANS?) and of course, as I am a complete sucker for next generation stories and because I suck, I started reading it.

Basically, Gaiden focuses a lot on the next generation while still giving us little glimpses of our favorite characters and what they’re up to. Naruto is Hokage (finally), Sasuke is a dad (uh, I don’t even know what Sasuke is doing), Sakura is still a badass ninja and also a mom, everyone is married to each other (see “Highlights” section below), blah, blah, blah. For some reason, Konohagakure has become a lot like our world. They have cell phones. They have computers and tablets. What? I was mostly sucked back into this mess because of Sasuke, Sakura, and their daughter, Salad (a.k.a. Sarada. I just like calling her Salad) and the unnecessary drama Kishimoto has drawn up for the three of them. God, I love drama. Read to find out what happens next! Yeah! Believe it!

HIGHLIGHTS/WEIRD STUFF: I don’t even know what to put here. Oh, wait: a funny thing happened while I was writing this blurb. After typing Sasuke’s name for the first time in this post (paragraph three, to be exact), the inevitable squiggly red line of doom appeared under his name. I right clicked it and one of the spell check options was “Seasick”. I can never un-see that now. Also, InoSai. What the heck? I also read a very cute short about Akamaru and Kiba from Akamaru’s point of view. It’s gold. He says “F*** cats, I am a dog!” at one point in the one shot. While I do not endorse animals degrading each other, that line was pure gold. Good job, translators! Also, if you’re a fan of the manga, check out Kishimoto Masashi’s “Uzumaki Naruto: Illustration Book” – it was published earlier this year. I don’t think it has been released in the U.S. yet, but I managed to nab a copy at Anime Expo last week!

Also, I started re-reading Naruto again because according to my brother, I missed a lot. Oops. 

NEXT TIME: Fandom and the Pursuit of Passion / Anime Expo Day 1 Recap

favorite things this week #1: finals edition

Welcome to Finals Week, where procrastination rules and sleep is but a figment of your imagination. No one likes Finals Week. It’s that period at the end of the quarter or semester (whichever system your school follows) where you are either doing something or you’re not. I go to a school where there is no “Dead Week” (about a week between the last week of actual instruction and exams, designated for studying), and right after the last day of classes, we are thrown into the gauntlet.

And let me tell you: the gauntlet feels more like a slow drag through gravel. You either have in-class finals or take-home finals, or a nice and deadly combination of both. I have that combo this quarter. Take-home finals are the absolute worst. You either finish them right away or you take…days…to…finish…them.

To help me get through these tough times, I take many study breaks to make sure I don’t pull an Ultron and destroy the world as we know it. During these study breaks, I either read, scroll through my phone, or watch videos on YouTube. Here are some of those things – a.k.a., my favorite things this week:

1. Star Wars (2015) comics by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, published by Marvel

AVENGERS...ASSEMBLE! Wait, wrong series.

AVENGERS…ASSEMBLE! Wait, wrong series.

It’s no secret among my friends that I am a huge Star Wars fan. I was that annoying kid who walked around the halls of her elementary school breathing like Darth Vader. I attempted to write a Star Wars play in the fifth grade with my friends and demanded I should play Luke Skywalker (the play never pulled through but I still have my dreams). When Disney announced their merger with Lucasfilm, I kind of got really excited because, hey, more Star Wars movies! A bigger Star Wars presence at Disneyland! Yay!

With this merger with Disney came the erasure of the Star Wars expanded universe developed between the original trilogy and the prequels and continued even after the Revenge of the Sith in 2005. Thankfully, I wasn’t too well versed in the expanded universe enough to have extreme emotions about this, but I was still really bummed that my favorite Clone Wars cartoon on Cartoon Network was no longer considered canon (I am sorry, Genndy Tartavosky. I still love you).

However, as Disney and Marvel are good friends, they released a new series this year written by Jason Aaron. There are currently six issues. This series takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. I always wondered what happened between those two movies. There are also two other series that are running concurrently with this one – Princess Leia (another great read) and Darth Vader (which I plan to read this summer). 

This is a big year for the Star Wars franchise (I MEAN, EPISODE VII COMES OUT IN SIX MONTHS. HOOPLA), and re-establishing Star Wars as a part of Marvel was a great idea. These comics are definitely a breath of fresh air and gives fans a chance to jump back into the universe. I felt like I was at home as soon as I saw the first two pages emblazoned with the phrase “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” and saw my favorite characters in action. The art and writing are spectacular. They’re just a great tie-in to the Star Wars canon.

Yeah, Chewie, we’re home.

HIGHLIGHTS & SHOCKERS (with some spoilers): Luke vs. Boba Fett (LUKE FIGHTS HIM AFTER BEING BLINDED BY A FLASH BOMB Y’ALL), Leia throwing Corellian wine in Han’s face, Sana Solo (I mean whaaaaaaaaat), Vader finding out that Luke is a Skywalker, Luke vs. Darth Vader, Ben Kenobi finally communicating with Luke before said battle before Darth Vader, HAN AND LEIA DRIVING AN AT-AT

2. Watching the “Disneyland: Forever” fireworks…on YouTube

'DISNEYLAND FOREVER' SPARKLES IN THE NIGHT SKY -- 'Disneyland Forever,' a new fireworks spectacular at the Disneyland Resort, illuminates the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle. 'Disneyland Forever' transports guests into the worlds of beloved Disney and Disney•Pixar films through traditional pyrotechnics, innovative projection mapping technology and surprising special effects. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

‘DISNEYLAND FOREVER’ SPARKLES IN THE NIGHT SKY — ‘Disneyland Forever,’ a new fireworks spectacular at the Disneyland Resort, illuminates the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle. ‘Disneyland Forever’ transports guests into the worlds of beloved Disney and Disney•Pixar films through traditional pyrotechnics, innovative projection mapping technology and surprising special effects. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

I’m definitely one of those people who cry while watching theme park shows. I don’t know – I just get overly emotional about them. The first time I watched World of Color at California Adventure, I was a sobbing mess. Thankfully, I got splashed with enough water (I was in the very front row) that my tears were obscured and I saved myself from embarrassment. I just can’t help it. I even cry whenever I watch the Shamu show at freakin’ SeaWorld.

That being said, I was a mess while watching the 60th Anniversary fireworks on YouTube.  Not even at the actual park–on YouTube. It’s a beautiful tribute to the work of Disney Studios, and everything about it from the projections on  Main Street and the Matterhorn to the fireworks is simply spectacular. The Imagineers really stepped up their game this year! Without spoiling too much, I just want to say that the Lion King and Winnie the Pooh parts are probably my favorites.

Other things: PROJECTIONS! The music! Under the Sea! RING. OF. FIRE. I really can’t wait to watch it live this summer.

I am always so floored by the extreme attention to detail at Disney Parks. If I were a computer engineer or visual arts student, I would definitely apply to be a Disney Imagineer…but I’m not.

SIDENOTEUnfortunately, I can’t really say the same about World Of Color: Celebrate (except for the Star Wars segment and other stuff). I mean, what was the purpose of “Let It Go” besides pandering to Frozen fans? I mean I am a fan of Frozen – I saw it four or five times in theatres, but really? In World of Color at a point where it is not even relevant to the overall plot line of the show which already leaves much to be desired? Let it go. Honestly, I know I’m gonna cry anyway when I get to see World of Color: Celebrate live because I am a huge sucker for heart-wrenching music and COLUMNS OF FIRE.

3.「ねこあつめ」(Neko Atsume, or “Cat Collector”) | (On the App Store & Google Play)



I am allergic to cats, but I really love cat-related things. While scrolling through Twitter one day, I saw a tweet made by one of my favorite artists, Kate Leth. She posted a picture of a cartoon apartment FILLED WITH CATS. I had to seek out that app immediately. Thankfully, someone posted a link to download it from the App Store, and I downloaded it as soon as I could.

Neko Atsume, or “Cat Collector” (thanks to my friend Anna for the translation), is exactly what it is: you run a small little cartoonish apartment, buy things that cats like (food and toys) using sardines as currency, and attract an array of adorable looking stray cats to your humble abode. One thing, though: the app is entirely in Japanese. I could read some of it (because I did take some Japanese classes before), but not all of it, so I pretty much guessed my way through the app until I figured out how to use it. You can even name all of the cats! Needless to say, I named them all after Marvel characters. I have all but four of the cats in the guidebook. I’m ALMOST THERE. Tiana, give me strength.

Puny humans. I named this one Thor, but now that I think about it...this should be Loki.

“Pitiful humans. Feed me.” I named this one Thor, but now, after some thinking… I think this should be named Loki.

There are so many different cats. There’s even a cat that looks like Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. It can only be summoned to your apartment with an expensive plate of sashimi and a gold and red hammock. Hilarious. Take a look:

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What a queen.

The main reason why I was so attracted to this app was because I used to be obsessed with an app similar to it: Kawaii Pet Megu, a modern-day alternative to Tamagotchi. It shut down last year. Rest in Peace, Kawaii Pet Megu. You were such a good app. I miss you, my Megu. Never again will I see you wear your perfect smile.

HIGHLIGHTS: Anna Wintour Cat, the really, really catchy music, the art of the game in general. It’s a good stress reliever, unless you are like me with my “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” attitude and really have to make sure you get all of the cats in the guidebook.

Well, there you have it – my first “Favorite Things This Week” post! Good luck on finals, quarter system people. May the Force be With You.