Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mozart, the Rock Opera!

A couple of days ago I got the chance to see 'Mozart, the Rock Opera' at the beautiful Keimyung Art Center. I love going to shows - plays, musicals, concerts, operas, ballets, recitals, readings - all of these wonderful creative performances make me feel inspired and incredibly alive. I used to do quite a bit of theatre back in the day and I miss it terribly. Everyone needs an outlet I suppose.

Anywho, getting back to the show. The overall look, including costumes, sets, and lighting, was stunningly gorgeous, lavish, colourful, unique, and quite magical. The 1700s exploded with colour and modern boldness. Some bits reminded me of Cirque du Soleil. There was plenty of glitter and the richness and vibrancy of all the colours made my eyes pop. It was a treat visually.

Even though everything was in Korean (the original version is French), I could still follow the story. More importantly, the music was so fun and most of the songs were combined with creative choreography so I never felt lost or bored. Some of the singers were very talented and there were several goosebumps-worthy moments.

Of course it's quite fluffy but many fluffy things are awesome. This show was pure fun and I could easily watch it again and enjoy the visual spectacle and catchy songs. It's kind of like Moulin Rouge in that way - over the top and magnificent.

Now, what can I watch next?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Last Day of Sweet Freedom!

Well, winter is just about over (though the weather disagrees)...which means that it's time to head back to work for one more semester of elementary school in Korea. Today is my last day of I will continue to watch gluttonous amounts of Parks & Recreation. I have now reached the glory of Season 4. The thought of finishing all the episodes and being unable to prolong my obsessive continuous nonstop viewing frightens me. What will I do with myself? Sigh. I wish I could work for Leslie Knope.

I'm now temped to go back and revisit all three seasons of Arrested Development. And perhaps try watching Community, I haven't gotten around to that one yet.

Sweet hilarious television, how comforting thou art! In the depths of winter, ice, and permanently cold feet thou provideth solace and joy. 

And now it's time to return to Pawnee.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Of Strawberry Croissants and Academy Awards

Paris Baguette is a bakery chain here in Korea. It's like Starbucks - ubiquitous and inescapable...but instead of boring coffee, it offers up oodles of delicious baked treats. And a couple of baguettes, which people rarely buy.

On this particular occasion, I wanted to try something from their Strawberry Festival selection. Apparently it's already strawberry season - all the markets are filled with big, juicy strawberries. This delicious croissant had some light not overly sweet custardy cream inside, along with these cute, bright little berries. Yum! Croissants are such a delightful treat.

This morning I'm attempting to watch the Oscars on my computer. At 8 in the morning. Hooray for major time zone differences! But I really want to see all the pretty dresses. No matter what kind of politics and campaigning and taking-things-too-seriously may be happening behind the scenes, I always enjoy seeing beautiful gowns. And there are always a few films I get excited about too. This year there's a bit of a French theme - lovely!

Time for some fashion fun!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Watching: Hugo

Speaking of magic, I just finished watching Hugo and it is stunning! As soon as it finished, I was tempted to watch it again. 

Visually, this film is so gorgeous, imaginative, and authentic looking that you just can't pull your eyes away for even a moment. I wanted so terribly to jump right in, wear my own 1930s costume, and walk around the train station, eating a croissant and carrying a fresh flower.

The story is quite unique and more intelligent than your average run of the mill stories for children. I also like the pace - it's not set at hyper speed, with meaningless brain melting action scenes thrown in. Rather, it's more old fashioned and the story unfolds piece by piece. Little discoveries are quietly made and relationships gradually form in a convincing way.

These days, it's hard to think of movies as something magical. Hollywood has become a factory producing the same uninspiring stuff just for the sake of money making. 

This film successfully reminds us of the magic of movies. Movies are like dreams brought to life. They are not bound by the limits of realism. They can surprise us, inspire us, move us, and make us feel electrically alive. Movies shouldn't be dulling our senses - they should be waking us up and making us see the world in new ways.

I loved this film. It's interesting that it came out around the same time as Midnight in Paris. Both films are so imaginative, nostalgic, and magical in their own ways. I think I'll be watching them both again in the near future.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty

One of my all time favourite books is The Borrowers by Mary Norton. I've read it many many times and just thinking about it now makes me feel tingly with excitement. 

I love fantasy and escaping into magical worlds that inspire imagination and make life super amazing and sparkly. I think the best fantasy novels are grounded in the real world so that they actually feel almost they could almost be true.

The Borrowers is definitely that kind of fantasy novel. It features a world exactly like our own, except there are tiny people called Borrowers living in people's houses and "borrowing" small items like hair pins and toy cups. These little people call big people "human beans" and they never reveal their existence to them out of fear.

Arrietty lives under the floorboards with her parents. She is fourteen years old and enjoys writing in her diary. If I remember correctly, her bedroom is a matchbox and postage stamps are used as paintings. The book is full of little details about the Borrowers' lives under the floorboards and all the little knick knacks they've managed to acquire. 

Eventually, Arrietty's mother allows her to go Borrowing with her father. Arrietty's interaction with the big outside world is a thrill to read about. Ordinary things become fascinating and at times threatening. 

This book is a real gem and great for Anglophiles as it is British to the core. And an extra bonus is that it's several decades old so there's no silly technology. 

Now I want to read the book again, and of course watch this brand new movie version. Amy Poehler did the voice of Arrietty's mother! The film looks gorgeous and the trailer suggests that they really captured the magic and spirit of the novel.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Watching: Parks & Recreation (aka Amy Poehler is my hero!)

I remember watching commercials for this show when it first came out and thinking that I absolutely had to watch it, but somehow that never happened.

Which means that I can now watch it marathon style. Sometimes I hula hoop while watching - super fun!

Amy Poehler/Leslie Knope is wonderfully hilarious but also just a great female role model. She seems a little silly and delusional at the beginning, but the more we see of her, the more we can admire her optimism, strength, feminism, and desire to help people. 

Despite being a sitcom (or because of it), the show makes super sharp and intelligent observations and criticisms of many aspects of society. 

But I don't want to dissect it here. The best thing is just to go and watch and laugh and feel awesome!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Winter's Almost Over!

I've had the pleasure of enjoying a looong winter vacation. Watching movies and awesome tv shows while sprawled out on my bed is, well, super fun. Eating ice cream and delicious Korean snacks, occasionally ordering pizza, and drinking ridiculous amounts of tea - all of these activities are super fun...but I am absolutely desperately longing for SPRING! 

As much as I love feeling cozy, too much of a good thing makes it less good. Rather than hibernating, I would love to run around outside, breathe fresh air, and see some gorgeous spring flowers. I cannot wait! Winter always feels like the longest season. 

In other news, I am getting ready to watch Season 2 of Downton Abbey. Now that it's all wrapped up, I can watch all the episodes in a somewhat continuous manner, without waiting too long in between. Hooray!

I've also been craving some classic film watching time. Maybe Roman Holiday + The Umbrellas of Cherbourg + Rear Window. And I still haven't seen The Artist, oh my!

Perhaps winter isn't quite so bad...there's no better time for oodles of film watching and book reading and conversation having :-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reading: Howards End

This little video reveals the whole story, so you might not want to watch the entire clip!

I started reading E.M. Forster's Howards End a while back, and now I'm finally down to the last few pages. For me, it wasn't quite as compelling as A Room With a View, but I still enjoyed it and found the idealistic and intelligent Schlegel sisters quite brilliant and unique. I would love to live in a cozy little house and always have people dropping by to talk about Love, Truth, Beauty, and Freedom (ummmm, maybe that part's not quite exactly in the novel). 

I love books that encourage believing in and pursuing a world of magic that is beyond everyday humdrum existence. Of course, the Schlegels are wealthy enough to always have one foot in the world of culture and bohemian ideals - they need not worry about food, housing, and basic survival...unlike their new friend Leonard Bast.

Leonard goes walking at night. He yearns for more than his everyday existence provides. Not money, but nourishment for his soul. He wants to feel alive, to feel fulfilled, to feel something bigger than him.

The Schlegel sisters are idealistic and give themselves wholeheartedly to a world of beautiful ideas. At least at the beginning. They connect with Leonard despite their vastly different socioeconomic status because of Ideas and Dreams and Humanity...but Leonard slips away and cannot stay in their world because he must find a way to just survive.

I think E.M. Forster really really wanted everyone, including women and people who are not at all close to rich, to have access to a splendid world. To feel welcome. To dream and to see more - because doing repetitive work, coming home to eat bread, and's not enough for anyone and everybody deserves more than this. Everyone is born with a soul longing for Love, Truth, Beauty, and Freedom.

I know idealism isn't exactly fashionable right now. Being cynical and ironic seems to be the height of sophistication. I think I can never outgrow or outrun my idealistic nature so I'm embracing it and not hiding the fact that I too long for something more.

Walking at night, under the glorious cannot help but feel that the world is far more magical than the office at work misleads you to think...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Watching: Friday Night Lights

My most recent obsession (or at least one of them) is the TV drama Friday Night Lights. It's not a new show but I was never particularly drawn to it before since it's about high school American a small town in Texas. Things that I am not familiar with in the slightest. However, I kept hearing about how amazing and fantastic it is so I gave it a chance, and I was completely hooked from the very first episode.

The show isn't so much about football as it is about the people living in this town and their relationships, goals, fears, etc. The portrayal is so realistic, it feels like you're also part of it all, experiencing all the highs and lows along with the other townspeople. 

I also like how the female characters are portrayed in this drama. My favourite character is the coach's wife, Tami. Instead of being sidelined while he takes the glory and makes all the big decisions, her part is equally important and her voice is always heard and respected. She is never subservient and she also makes a big impact through her role as a guidance counselor at the high school. And she's kind of tough, which she has to be in order to be the coach's wife, but also her own person. Their daughter is also very smart, independent, and sure of herself in a good way. She is self reliant and confident without being self-centered and idiotic, as teenage girls are often presented. So far, I have agreed with all of her choices and admired her for standing up to her father. Although his point of view is also understandable and one we can sympathize with. Ahem. Moving on...

I can't wait to watch the rest of the show. It's so compelling that time always flies by and before I know it, I've watched 3 episodes in a row. But that's the best part of watching TV shows after they've already finished - you don't have to wait a week for the next ep, just dive right in and turn it into a mini marathon. Make sure to include some popcorn, tea, and a blanket :-)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Girl Music Video

This show never fails to brighten up my day. I'm so happy that there are now fantabulous Lady-centric shows to watch. It may be fluffy, but some fantastic fluffy positivity combined with a few dashes of golden truths and a solid foundation of female solidarity makes for a very good thing.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters...

This is one of my favourite songs. Now it feels like the most perfect February melody. Listen and repeat (repeat repeat...)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Playing Catch-up

This week was marked by a few notable events.

Event the 1st: I moved into a new classroom at school, hooray! My new room is much more spacious and it has windows! With a view of the mountains! Natural daylight and fresh air, here I come!

It was actually quite fun being back at school. There was plenty of tea time with other teachers, lots of catching up, and yesterday we all went for a delicious sushi lunch that wrapped up the week quite nicely. 

Event the 2nd: Valentine's Day. Not really a huge event, but fun in its own way. In Korea, only women give presents/chocolates on Valentine's Day. Then one month later, on March 14th, it's the man's turn to give something to the woman who gave something to him. Oh, and it has to be something white since the official name of this little holiday is White Day. I gave chocolate to my bf and we went to our fave restaurant for dinner. I also made him a card...I made it at school and attempted to use crayons...which is not as easy as it seems. I prefer pencils.

Anywho, lots of people complain about Valentine's Day and its commercialization and various other things, but really - it's a day to celebrate love and tell the people around you just how much they mean to you. Yay!

Event the 3rd: My one year anniversary living in Korea! I arrived exactly one year (+ a day) ago and the year went by incredibly quickly! Now I have less than 6 months left and I want to enjoy them to the very fullest! I can't wait for spring!

Here's to more fun, laughter, chocolate, sunshine, and spring flowers in the very near future!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Watching: New Girl

It's been a fun week of teaching playing with the kids and now I'm enjoying a cozy, relaxing weekend.

Like this cheerful latte in a bright red cup, New Girl is a show that always brightens up my day and makes me smile. Pretty much ALL television these days is full of cynicism, negativity, pessimism, Kardashians, etc. so I was so delighted to find a show that is the opposite of that.

Characters similar to Jess are usually portrayed as fools who are not really in touch with the realities of life. Here, however, Jess is shown in a very positive light. She sincerely believes in the goodness of others, she's optimistic, she's childlike in a good way (as in not jaded and skeptical of everything). Basically, she's still in touch with the magic of life and refuses to have her world view darkened by others' negativity. (Also, she's funny and wears the most wonderful clothes.)

Most female characters on television are extremely different from this. And I can't think of anyone more 'girly' than Jess. I for one am grateful to have this kind of character on mainstream television. It's important to show that there are many ways of being female and that feminism does not require us to act in masculine ways and leave girlishness behind. 

I'm proud of being a girl. I enjoy being a girl. I also tend to see the world through rose coloured glasses. And there is nothing wrong or demeaning about that. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teaching English again + bear pyramid of love + keep your ear muffs on!

It's back to school time for me!

For two weeks I'm back at elementary school teaching English to cute little kids. Then two weeks of vacation. Followed by a brand new semester with shiny new faces and freshly sharpened pencils. 

As cute as the little munchkins are, teaching leaves less time and mental energy for other things, so I won't be able to post daily, boo!

But that's okay :-) And look! Who doesn't love a bear pyramid that celebrates Valentine's Day? The most luxurious department store in Daegu is now featuring this lovely display and I can't get enough of it. The bears also move and wave their arms (rather slowly) so it's super festive and fun.

In other news, it's super cold and I almost got swept away by the wind today. Most of the teachers are wearing their coats at school, eek! I really hope spring rolls around soon. I'm sure we're all ready for it!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Of Cabin Fever, Mozart Rock Operas, and Nut Tea

February is a bit of a funny month for me - from the 6th to the 17th I will go back to work at Youngshin Elementary School. During this time the kids will have a graduation ceremony but besides that there's nothing to really teach so hopefully I can think of some fun activities to do with them. The rest of February is vacation time again (yay!) and then a brand new school year with shiny new students starts in March. I hope it will be awesome.

I've definitely been feeling cabin feverish and restless lately. Vacations are one of the best things ever and I'm super lucky to have such a long winter vacation...but since I didn't really travel anywhere and the weather is quite cold, it's been very much an indoors make your own adventure kind of situation. Even though I am armed with a decent imagination, nothing compares to running around outside, breathing fresh air and feeling freeee! 

So, a couple of solutions to this abundance of indoorsy-ness. First, my bf got us tickets to the Mozart Rock Opera, oh yeah! Just looking at those costumes makes me happy. We're going at the end of this month, during Part 2 of my super long vacation.

And when you can't run around outside or watch rock operas, why not relax with a cup of delicious nut tea? I've only seen this in Korea and it is SO GOOD! I love this drink, there are even pieces of nuts and seeds in it. It tastes deliciously nutty and wholesome. It's more substantial and less watery than normal tea, which makes it very satisfying and comforting. Yum!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Baked goods in Korea - tasty bread!

An interesting example of tasty baked goods in Korea.

This is sweet potato and garlic bread! The outside is so fresh and warm and crispy, and the inside is sweet and soft, and then there's some garlic thrown in for good measure and a bit of a "surprise!".

Yesterday was a bit of a lazy day so these cute little snacks made a perfect addition to the coziness. 

I also finished watching the documentary Senna. I know nothing about Formula 1 racing but enjoyed this film simply because this man was extraordinary. He lived so fully, passionately, and without ever compromising. He had amazing charisma, a special kind of energy, and couldn't help but express himself honestly through every action and word, even though his sport was tainted by politics and behind-the-scenes drama. He really lived, and he was an inspiration for so many people.

Lastly, today is the day! The day for submitting my application to grad school. And go! :-)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Books: Cranford

I've almost finished reading Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford, an immensely delightful and cozy read. This is basically a collection of stories centered around the small-town lives of Cranford's ladies. These ladies are unique and interesting because for one reason or another they haven't married and remain independent (and convinced that women are superior to men). 

That makes is sound as though they are grown up Emmas - well to do ladies who govern mansions with the tips of their fingers. In fact, these lovely women are not rich at all and they spend much of their time together, sharing their lives with each other and relying on talk, tea, and card games for entertainment and sparkle. It's almost like a sisterhood, and this closeness makes them seem younger and spunkier than their actual age.

At first I was disappointed that there weren't more younger characters. As I got to know the Cranford ladies better; however, I grew to admire their spirit, humour, and loyalty. With each story, they became more and more interesting to me and I couldn't stop turning the pages.

This is a much lighter read compared to North and South and Wives and Daughters. While Gaskell always provides substance and realistic characters, there is a lot more humour and simple coziness in this book. 

Gaskell remains one of my favourite authors and I can't wait to read more of her beautifully written works!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Paper Heart

Making this little paper heart was so fun! I found a great You Tube instructional video that was super easy to follow and only about 6 minutes long. 

Now my mind is on other things - mainly, applying to grad school. I made a last minute decision to apply and have to get everything together efficiently as the deadline is March 1st. It's exciting with a pinch of stressful and a dash of hopeful.

In other news, it's currently -12 degrees outside, eek! A great excuse reason to stay inside and drink hot cocoa. And maybe make some paper hearts.