Intrepid Girl Reporter

Tuesday, 6/8: talking ’bout my generation
June 7, 2010, 11:20 pm
Filed under: actual transcripts, life progress, television

Just a few notes.

1. Today’s Slate was full of good stuff, including but not limited to this review of tomorrow’s Glee season finale that says everything I’ve tried (and failed) to convey to the haters. Here’s the show, in one sentence:

[The band] Journey operates at much the same emotional register as a show that respects both the operatic inner lives of adolescents and the intelligence of an adult audience that’s heard this one before.

And here’s a couple more, in case you’re not convinced:

Glee creator Ryan Murphy has tweaked the song’s theme of constancy to spotlight the sweet buoyancy of first love. The transformation is typical of Glee‘s enlivening approach to familiar songs, its way of recontextualizing show tunes and radio staples to go deep with old coming-of-age themes.

Plus, here’s a video from tomorrow’s show. SO EXCITED AND SO NOT EMBARRASSED ABOUT MY EXCITEMENT EITHER.

ETA: I should probably point out that I’m a bit biased here re: the music. My father, a man who essentially taught himself how to be American with cowboys and classic rock, has been playing me Journey since I was two years old. (To be fair, I didn’t get the appeal until later, which doesn’t give me a lot more credibility than all these Steve-Perry-come-latelys, but I can say that I’ve been listening to Journey for a lot longer than most of my generation.) Which fact further endears to me to a show that hardly needs more of my affection.

2. I’m moving home on June 30th. I have mixed feelings about this, as I’ve come to really love this city. But I mostly need to save money, especially as I’m spending half of July on vacation in Hawai’i with Miguk Fam anyway. What this means is that if you actually know me in person and you read this blog, we should probably hang out before I leave. Then: to Boston. More updates on that later, I promise.

3. I had this conversation re: the movie Babies with my friend Saken* that I feel is pretty indicative of the place I and many of my friends are in our lives right now.

IGR This movie is amazing. Also, there are multiple scenes where babies hit each other with plastic bottles.

SAKEN Who would want to see that?

IGR Everyone, because it’s hilarious.

SAKEN Are you kidding? I’d beat the shit out of my baby if she did that.

IGR And then you’d be perpetuating the cycle, and she wouldn’t know how to do anything but hit.

SAKEN [long pause] Man, I am so not ready to be a father.

*Real name. Sorry for being inconsistent re: pseudonyms, but I’m feeling lazy.

Thursday, 10/9: the other reason that “The Office” is brilliant, etc.
October 10, 2008, 4:55 am
Filed under: media, television | Tags: ,

I know, nothing for a week and then two posts in one day.

Sometimes I am very easily satisfied. For example, even though this particular phenomenon has jumped the shark, I take immense pleasure in the following image:

Therefore, I would probably have been happy enough if “The Office” had simply continued to display competency in the areas in which it has a record of doing well: clever writing, sharp satirical observations of American corporate culture, making John Krasinski look adorable and his relationship with Pam almost blinding in the jealousy it induces. I would probably have assumed that, yes, it too had jumped the shark, which was what the post-strike episodes of last season seemed to indicate. Conventional wisdom says that when you put the will-they or won’t-they couple solidly into will-they zone, the clock is ticking.

BUT ACTUALLY. I’ve watched both episodes this season, and while they do seem to be getting a little bit of their edge back, that’s not what I find most impressive. What the writers of the show have managed to do is shift the focus OFF of (Pam and Jim)* and ON to two other couples/potential couples/situations within Dunder Mifflin without losing momentum. The whole (Michael and Holly) and (Angela and Dwight and Andy) thing could have felt like a feeble attempt to revisit proven ground, but it doesn’t, because they’re different stories. In other words, the writers seem to be viewing “The Office” like an office, one that has more than two people in it. In other words, somehow, they strapped on their waterskis and went around the shark.

Other things I am enjoying and/or have a strong opinion on today: 1) the Daily Intel makes the mistake of asking, “Why is he so popular?” with regards to Ryan Reynolds. I will tell you, New York Daily News: because Ryan Reynolds is awesome. He was popular with me long before it was popular for him to be popular, probably because I was one of the few middle schoolers (/viewers) in America who regularly watched “Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place.”** Also because of his underrated cameo in Harold and Kumar (natch)***, the fact that I really enjoyed Definitely Maybe more than I had anticipated, knowing that had we gone to high school together I would have had a big crush on him, the fact that he dated Alanis Morrisette,**** et al. NYDN eventually comes around to my point of view, citing his essay in the Huffington Post re: the NYC Marathon; okay, he’s not David Sedaris, but he IS funny, thus confirming what I’ve always secretly known*****. Most people who meet me assume that I have the good judgment to stay away from this cocky sort of man, and always, always they are proven wrong.

2) my college has, as one of their freshman bloggers, a hapa whose father is Asian. A) It is nice to know that there are more of us out there, B) it is nice to know that they are in Kentucky.

3) La Sister came home last night for fall break, pulling into the driveway mere minutes after my mother and I. I am happy she is here.

4) the Esquire 75th Anniversary Issue is worth purchasing. Not just because of the flashing cover either.

5) This American Life also recently did a story on (recurring theme alert) Geoffrey Canada. Duh, I recommend it.

*When I was growing up, our neighbors – they were good friends with my parents, we were tight with their kids – were named Pam and Jim. It was difficult for a while for me to hear those names together and not visualize an Italian-American podiatrist and his wife.

**My affinity for crappy sitcoms being well-documented, and probably worth exploring for the insights it might provide into my psyche.

***Aside from the fact that this movie is awesome for all the reasons I have named in past posts, it also deserves credit for having really great cameos. Like, you know, NPH.

****I was really into Alanis Morissette around the same time I was watching “Two Guys.” Because I always sort of pictured Mr. Reynolds as out of *my* league, had I been of age etc., but I also always sort of identified with this whole sort of angry vulnerable feminist thing that Alanis had when she first came out, their dating appeared to be the equivalent of the captain of the soccer team falling in love with the editor of the literary magazine; even though at the time of their relationship I was sort of over them both, it raised my opinion of him.

*****It’s such a strange phenomenon, the way we subconsciously create these conceptions of what famous people must be like based on the limited information we’re given by their performances. For that reason, I find it gratifying that – while I had never considered what an essay by Ryan Reynolds might sound like – it sounds like what I would have imagined.

Saturday, 5/24: a laundry list of my obsessions
May 24, 2008, 3:26 pm
Filed under: IGR Recommends, Jeju crew, media, music, reading, television, Uncategorized

In which we take a break from our regularly scheduled programming of constant complaining about all the stress in my life and examine a few things that I really, really love. It’s a special Super Size version of IGR Recommends.

When we were in Japan, I discovered a heretofore unknown fact about Soccer: given any iteration of the game “Would You Rather,” wherein one option is anything in the world and the other option involves Billy Crystal, she will always choose the one featuring Billy Crystal. This is a rule I like to think of as “Soccer’s Law.” At first I thought she was crazy. I’m not going to say that I suddenly had some sort of epiphany about my feelings towards Billy Crystal – they still remain in the indifferent-to-occasionally-annoying range – but I do, now, understand where she’s coming from.

I went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull* with some of the Jeju crew and Co-Teacher D, and I was trying to explain to CTD how adorable I find Shia LaBeouf and why. As it happens, I had also been discussing my love of the show “Cupid” with Oregon and Arkansas earlier, which is another relatively obscure thing about which I am passionate. I’ve also been listening to more Korean psychedelia lately. These three seemingly unrelated occurrences helped me to realize that I, too, have a lot of things I don’t necessarily think are the best in the world, but, given the option, will always choose for whatever reason. These strange little obsessions are itemized for the first time here.

Note: the following list doesn’t include obvious concepts like “favorite artist,” and it’s not comprehensive. Also, most of these do not reflect very well on me.

Note 2: if you have known me for longer than six months, you have probably heard me talk about at least one of these.

Note 3: My sister shares a lot of these. I’m not sure why.

1. “Sesame Street”

I love “Sesame Street.” I have always loved “Sesame Street,” and I probably always will. It still makes me laugh, and not in the “oh that’s so cute way,” more in the “Grover why did you bring out a grapefruit on a hot dog bun” kind of way. I love that it doesn’t talk down to kids, that it features characters who aren’t always sugary sweet to each other, that it takes on Hemingway and Hitchcock. If I create something with as wide an impact – if I even created something nearly as entertaining – I will be very, very proud.

Arrivederci, frog.

2. Shia LaBeouf

When I was in high school, I used to watch “Even Stevens” with my sister specifically for the purpose of seeing Shia LaBeouf. If “Even Stevens” was interrupted by “Lizzie McGuire,” I would complain loudly until that Hilary Duff monstrosity had ended and “Even Stevens” was back on again.

I totally want to hang out with him. I think he is absolutely adorable. I thought so when I thought he was like six years younger than me and he seemed to be the kind of kid I would have loved if he were my age, and I think so now that I realize that he is, in fact, my age. I like the fact that he broke into the movie business in an unconventional way and that he chooses a wide variety of movies. Also, he seems to have trouble with women, which if you know me at ALL you will realize that this, to me, makes him even more endearing. I would date him as well as hang out with him. Just saying.

3. Korean psychedelia/folk

I bought an album by Shin Jung Hyeon yesterday and it’s really good. I also want to listen to more Kim Jung Mi. I can’t believe I didn’t know about this stuff before. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Big Bang okay, but this is a total scene that apparently disappeared and was replaced by NOTHING.

4. My Co-Teacher, ACT

ACT is the most awesome woman on the planet. She hugs me and listens to me rant about things she can’t do anything about. Right now she is in Seoul protesting the Lee Myung Bak administration. I asked her what they were going to do in the demonstration and she said, “Shouting.”

5. KoreanAir

Consistently nice, always helpful, everyone speaks English.

6. Jeremy Piven

No one ever knows who Jeremy Piven is. Which is too bad, because I love Jeremy Piven. I have loved him ever since I watched “Ellen” with my mother when I was in elementary school. I loved him in “Cupid” (see below), and I love him in “Entourage.” (Note: this is a key distinction between the items on this list and actual normal things I find attractive. Adrian Grenier is much, much more attractive than Jeremy Piven. I realize this. I find Adrian Grenier incredibly beautiful. But I would not necessarily go see a terrible movie featuring Adrian Grenier. I would do this for Jeremy Piven.) I think that I associate him in part with this sort of nostalgia for the mid-90s, when I was first starting to imagine myself as something more than what I was then, and the media I consumed featured adults living these lives that were possibilities for me. Also, I watched these things with my parents, and that was fun.

7. “Cupid”

“Cupid” was canceled prematurely. “Cupid” is one of the cutest shows ever, and I mean that in the most positive possible way. Jeremy Piven played this guy who was convinced he was Cupid, and Paula Marshall played this psychiatrist who was convinced he wasn’t and that love was all about science, and they wrestled with it as he tried to hook up every single person in the city, and I was twelve and really wanted to fall in love. Theme song by the Pretenders, which added to the awesome, as I also wanted to be tough like Chrissie Hynde.

8. My father’s boss and his wife

They ply us with delicious baked goods and have really adorable Nova Scotian accents. They are older and, we are sure, make wonderful grandparents. Cute dogs round out the package.

9. GS25

10. The book Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Highly recommended. Totally different from the movie, as previously discussed.

11. Blessid Union of Souls

Again from the mid-90s. Lyrically terrible and incredibly catchy.

12. Men’s style magazines

Esquire and Details feature authors I actually like reading outside of magazines (ex. Chuck Klosterman, Nick Hornby). They also write as though they are speaking to an audience older than tenth grade. While I’m not a fan of the way the dating articles occasionally veer into misogyny, they are far more entertaining than their female counterparts. The only comparable women’s mag would probably be Jane, but Jane was a) a little full of itself, b) targeted towards women who wanted to make it known that they read Jane, and c) halted sometime last year, which means I can no longer subscribe.

13. Reusing and making stuff

My father is a pack rat. So am I. He and my mother are also both bargain hunters, a trait I have inherited. Also, I have always liked making things, as my mother can attest, when she used to take me to the craft store as a treat. As a result, my rooms wherever I live are always cluttered with projects in process.

14. Social marketing

I did my thesis on this. I love good marketing. I’d rather be convinced than preached at.

15. Thomas Haden Church

There was a summer when I was moving and everything I owned was in a box, which meant that the only thing I had available as entertainment was USAm, the USA network’s feeble attempt to recycle old programming for the unemployed. I got really into “Ned and Stacey.”

Look at those crazy antics!

I actually think that “Ned and Stacey” was a good show for what it was – the writing may not have been top-notch, but Debra Messing is kind of endearing. More importantly, Thomas Haden Church is both full of himself and completely unashamed of being crazy, which seems to be the role he fits in the best. (Also, I’m a fan of mid-90s sitcoms that weren’t very good. Don’t even ask me about Caroline in the City.)

My sister understands this, as she watched a lot of Nick at Nite during this time and went through a similar phase with “Wings.” We also both enjoyed “Sideways.” Thomas Haden Church seems to be crazy in the same way we are, which is to say that I suspect that if we played “Would You Rather” with him long enough, we would find his Billy Crystal, so to speak. And isn’t someone we can play such games with what we all want, in the end?

*SPOILER: I briefly entertained the notion that the UFO was there, and looked incredibly cliche, as a sort of tribute to these sci-fi movies of the time period when IJ is set, but Oregon disagrees with me here, and I think she might be right. It’s difficult for me to say, anyway, because I’ve never seen the rest of the movies (don’t start on me). Also, CTE is lots of fun.

Monday, 4/14: two stones in my pocket
April 14, 2008, 2:27 pm
Filed under: blogz, host mom, IGR Recommends, life on Jeju, movies, okay seriously Korea, television

Ordering t-shirts in Korea is a nightmare. You can get them in student (miniscule) or adult (too big for most people who would fit into a small, but still not big enough for those who would need an extra-large). Bless her heart, ACT came with me to the underground mall in Jungangro, which is more like some sort of hamster maze than an actual mall, and translated all my unreasonable demands, like having navy shirts (nope) and scaling the picture for different size shirts (also nope). Um, I really hope they come out.

The good news is that the shirt sale has raised around $100 for the book club, which we will use for expenses like paying for books for students who can’t afford them, having some sort of end-of-year party, etc. – i.e. stuff that either we or the students (probably us) would end up paying for out of pocket. So a giant thank you to all the Program kids who are supporting both us and Quagmire in his run for mayor of Scranton, PA, in 2013. I think I speak for both parties when I say: You won’t regret this decision.

We had our regular book club meeting on Saturday, of course, and I’m quickly realizing that the only regret I have about this club is that we can’t fit anyone else. I can think of a number of kids off the top of my head who would be amazing and who really need it, but I didn’t realize it in time to invite them instead of the kids we already have. I’m a little bummed. But we did have a great discussion as always, touching on racism (black people are more widely accepted in Korea now thanks to Beyonce and Ne-Yo, according to the kids), corporal punishment, and karma. We also had the palindrome contest; our students had been asked the week before to think of as many palindromes as they could, and SDY came back with twelve. I could not have been prouder.

This weekend also featured viewing of two movies: “The Two Faces of My Girlfriend,” a Korean film, and “Definitely Maybe,” which I saw with two girls from 2D. Unlike everyone else in Korea, I absolutely HATED “My Sassy Girl,” largely because I felt that the Sassy Girl in question had basically no redeeming qualities. Also, that movie is one million hours long. “The Two Faces of My Girlfriend,” which featured a girl with two personalities – a nice one and a mean one – was way ahead of “My Sassy Girl” in my personal rankings for the first, oh, hour and fifteen or so, until –


it is revealed that the reason she has two personalities (actually, it turns out to be three) is because her ex-boyfriend died rescuing her on an Antarctic expedition. It’s the classic romantic comedy formula – boy meets girl with two to three personalities, boy falls in love with one of those personalities while fighting off one of the other ones, boy discovers that those personalities were invented to help girl cope with tragedy of losing ex-boyfriend in polar accident. Anyway. I liked it a lot less after that.

“Definitely Maybe,” on the other hand, was one of the better romantic comedies I’ve seen in a long time. It fell under what I consider this sort of classic romantic comedy genre, in that there was a certain sense of escapism – unlike, for example, “Knocked Up,” where the characters are grotesquely and grossly real, the characters in the movie weren’t perfect, but they certainly didn’t face the same sorts of consequences or deal with the same sorts of body odor. There was a sort of gloss over New York City, that made you want to inhabit it, and I guess you could say that the characters had the same gloss. And of that genre, it wasn’t quite as good as, say, “Love Actually.” But it was good. It was funny, and endearing, and what I think I liked the most about the whole thing was how it showed a variety of different relationships and why they worked and didn’t work and changed. So in that sense, I felt like it was pretty realistic. Also, Ryan Reynolds is very attractive. (And he also cameoed in “Harold and Kumar,” like all true stars.)

I’ve also been catching up on American TV, namely “Top Chef,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” and “The Office.” Not going to lie: last week’s episode was not top-notch. But it wasn’t too bad, and I have high hopes for the rest of the season.

Lest my readers think I do nothing but stare at various types of boob tubes, other things I did this weekend: hit up Artspace C in SinJeju for an opening by this artist Mario Uribe (which, excitingly, featured both saucisson and hallabong), bought Korea Unmasked at BookTown, went out to dinner with The Teacher Formerly Known as Visiting Co-Teacher, who is now Hallim’s official co-teacher. She lives in a two story house. This is the Korean equivalent of, I don’t know, having your own private movie theater. Host Mom also took Hallim and I out to Hamdeok Beach, where we played on the rocks and ate some killer haemul kalguksu, which is a seafood soup with homemade noodles. Poor Hallim.

Tonight on the way to the screenprint shop ACT’s daughter (fourth grade) gave me some rocks she had collected in a river and then painted. She wanted to give me all six, but I told her they were lucky stones and so she had to keep some of them. Therefore:

Neil Halstead – Two Stones in my Pocket

My other recommendation for today is the blog of the divine Mindy Kaling, aka Kelly Kapoor on my favorite show.

Things I’ve Bought That I Love

“[The sandwich] is totally expensive…[But then] you will think, If this is highway robbery, let me always travel at night, and let me always get burgled.” Have truer words ever been spoken?

April 10, 2008, 3:56 pm
Filed under: IGR Recommends, movies, music, skool, students, teaching, television


2A – How Nice of You

  • not v. participatory
  • do they not want to shower me with compliments? investigate

1K – Break it Up

  • absolutely awful (why? testing/rain?)
  • better attitude from the kid in the Carlton sweater today
  • struggled with vowels
  • did NOT get to Sudoku wksht

I’m doing a lot of side projects right now, including applying for jobs (does that count as a side project?), so I’m a little stressed. Therefore, today’s entry is going to consist entirely of recommendations.

1. Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. My only real dream in life is to be a contestant on this show. Living in Korea, this is my primary source of news (I am not joking). And while no week is ever a bad week to start listening, I highly recommend this week’s podcast, which features none other than – you guessed it – Neil Patrick Harris, along with Mo Rocca as a panelist and a story about our very own Quagmire’s much-beloved hometown, Scranton, Pennsylvania. (The story involves cat litter.) My primary reasons for loving NPH were his roles in Doogie Howser and Harold and Kumar (please see below), but it turns out that he’s also really funny, and he starred in Cabaret on Broadway. Miley Cyrus, I hope you’re paying attention. (Note: the best shows feature any of the following panelists: Mo Rocca, Roy Blount Jr., PJ O’Rourke. Actually, anyone who’s not Paula Poundstone.)

2. Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. I am only on song #6, but I am already wondering how I have never listened to this album before. Fun fact: Stevie Wonder’s real name is Steveland.

3. Changing Cleveland, Ohio’s name to Steveland, Ohio.

4. Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. Widely perceived to be a dumb stoner movie, H&KGTWC is actually rife with absurdist humor and sharp racial commentary, while at the same time presenting two ethnic characters as real people from real (okay slightly exaggerated) backgrounds. It also has a lot of dumb stoner moments. AND a sublime bit part by NPH. Sequel coming soon.

5. The Office. I cannot believe I am not back in America to watch this.

Friday, 12/21: I GET WHAT I WANT
December 21, 2007, 3:47 pm
Filed under: host fam, IGR Recommends, music, television

It’s been a while since the IGR threw her (admittedly influential) weight behind anything, but I’ve finally found something worth plugging. It’s also about two years old, thus proving that I am destined to be terminally uncool, like you didn’t know that already.

Ted Leo – Since U Been Gone

Oh my.

Ted Leo is an artist who is perpetually on my “To-Listen” list. Perhaps this will push him up. I do need something to occupy me during that 12-hour plane ride on Sunday.

Speaking of which: I was mo unhappy that I was not available to leave today, thanks to the school festival tomorrow, at which both HS and my presences (?) are requested. However, Soccer and Scooter were both scheduled to leave today and, thanks to bad weather at Gimpo, missed their flight, which means they are paying to crash in Seoul this evening. Besides, if I had gone today I would never have gotten to sing the Kelly Clarkson version of the above-mentioned song at noraebang with Host Fam. (I did upset the kibun a little bit by putting in “Stairway to Heaven,” though, because somehow I forgot that it’s eight minutes long. Oops.)

Enjoy the link above – I obviously fancy myself a combination of mp3 blogger, lesson plan blogger, Jeju blogger, and juicy personal life blogger, although the reality is that I’m not very consistent with any of those things. And I’ll sure never have the layout of Music For Robots, which is my second plug for today. Okay I’m done.

PS: Steven, why did you have to go and get yourself kicked off Project Runway. Yes, your dress belonged at Goodwill, but you seemed to have a good grasp on the surreality of the whole thing, and I would totally have been friends with you in real life. Which puts you in stark contrast with Ricky, whom I would probably punch for crying all the damn time.

December 2, 2007, 2:35 pm
Filed under: host fam, television, U S of A

Oma just revealed the present she bought for Apa in Seoul: a sweater with leather trim. Yes, leather.

Poor Apa, for his part, mostly likes to wander around in soccer shorts, or, if it’s a special occasion, dress pants and a soccer shirt.

Watching “Project Runway” with Oma, this explains a lot.

Speaking of “PR”: I agree with some blog I read – I thought it was GoldDigger but evidently I was wrong – that menswear is kind of a stupid challenge in that it’s nowhere near as hard as, say, making a dress out of groceries. I understand that suit making is hard and that I could never do it and blah blah blah, but when you’re living in or in close proximity to Asian countries where people make suits in, like, an hour, it’s hard to sympathize.  Also, Carmen, really? Aside from the total absence of a shirt, your relentless attempts to be loud and funny were getting kind of annoying anyway. I’ll miss your hair though.