lately (12.11.18)

This post contains affiliate links, because I like money, but I s2g I wrote this post before adding the affiliate links and the monetization does not affect my opinions.

OKAY, PALS!!! Let’s set the scene.

I’m… crouched(?) on the floor of my bedroom (kind of in catloaf form but with sphinx arms; it’s very cute and sexy of me) blasting a playlist of EXO’s slow songs with my Frostbeard Rainy Day Reads candle burning atop my dresser.

The main development since my last life update is that I’ve gone whole-ass into K-Pop fandom, specifically the EXO fandom. I am now an EXO-L/Aeri. (You can witness my thirsty descent over on Tumblr, assuming I haven’t been banned for reblogging this screencap of Sehun and Chanyeol from the “We Young” music video, which was flagged, possibly because Sehun is wearing a suit that’s too close to his skintone. 🙄)

I’ve casually enjoyed K-Pop since high school, and I started getting into specific K-Pop groups around 2013 (namely SHINee and EXO, to the extent that I learned the members’ names and picked out specific songs (and faces) I liked), but it wasn’t until recently that I became obsessed.

It started when I was scrolling through this post by Tracy at fanserviced-b and decided to watch the “Love Me Right” music video. Incredibly, I’d already seen and enjoyed the “Call Me Baby” MV, which was released just 2 months prior to “Love Me Right” and which is also a visual stunner and a big ol’ bop, and I’d seen and reblogged “Love Me Right” pics and GIFs (#sad defeated asian boys in athletic wear), but somehow I never actually watched the music video itself.

And then I did.

And it was just… shot after shot after shot of practically everything I find aesthetically pleasing on men. Tailored suits! Above-the-knee shorts! T-shirts tucked into tight jeans! Exposed legs and ankles! Men in pink! Suspenders! Floppy hair! Beautiful faces in ugly glasses! Sports uniforms feat. shoulder pads! Dirt smeared on their faces!

It was overwhelming. It was like the first time I watched the “Growl” MV and lost my goddamn mind over SO many dancing boys looking like hooligans in dress code-violating school uniforms. (Please keep in mind I first watched this five years ago, when I was five years younger. I was and still am younger than EXO’s oldest member.)

The difference was that this time, when I lost my mind over an EXO music video, it was mere days before their comeback single, “Tempo”, was released, which was simply too much good content for my small decrepit body to handle in such swift succession.

“Tempo” involves leather jackets, ripped skinny jeans, military-inspired jackets, decorative chains, and Kai in a DISTRESSED CROPPED SWEATER, SUSPENDERS, AND LEATHER SKINNIES, and yet! It was a mere ten seconds of Baekhyun in an unbearably smoldery smoky eye singing and dancing (from 3:08 – 3:18, see the clipped video below) that BROKE ME!!!

So now I’m here, awaiting packages from AliExpress, for an unlicensed cropped EXO hoodie with cat ears, and Snapfish, for 25 glossy 4×6 photos made from HQ images I found online of Baekhyun, Sehun, Chanyeol, and Kai.

(For the record, I was briefly interested in BTS in 2015 when they were mostly still going by Bangtan Boys, but while I like their music and dancing from an artistic perspective (not to mention this A+ cover of the Biebz’s “Mistletoe” c/o @keisha_pl), I’ve always preferred EXO’s musical aesthetic, which leans more pop/R&B. I also prefer their vocal line (here’s a cover of the Biebz’s “Boyfriend” by D.O., who may just have the smoothest voice in current K-Pop) as well as their faces (I am deeply biased for many reasons, but the biggest one is that Baekhyun has really pretty hands and looks absolutely unreal in makeup), but both groups have their charms. For example, BTS has a stronger rap line and is waaay more accessible in terms of social media and general media presence thanks to Big Hit’s marketing. Anyway, they’re both great, but EXO came into my life first.)

But slipping down a fandom hole isn’t the only thing I’ve done lately. Since my last life update, I…

  • had various nose and throat problems for about a month and a half. I legit only started being able to breathe through my nose again around Thanksgiving. The smoke from the Camp Fire certainly didn’t help, but my boyfriend had surprised me with a Coway air purifier a week or two prior, since I’m allergic to the cat with whom we live, and it’s helped a lot. Now I’m just dealing with what seems like neverending post-nasal drip.
  • read some books and fanfiction that I will detail in a follow-up post
  • watched some movies and television that I will detail in a follow-up post
  • cooked some new things. Sometimes I enjoy cooking, but mostly I just cook out of necessity. Weeknights are especially tiring (or at least they were when I was working 9 to 5 with an hour-long commute each way), so I’m always curious what other people cook during the workweek. I’m aware of meal prepping as a concept, but throw in food allergies, specific nutritional diets, and a bit of environmentalism, and the appetizing options narrow significantly. Anyway, here’s some of the stuff I’ve made recently:

crispy oven baked honey garlic tofu (i am a food blog) - roast eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish (smitten kitchen) - crispy fried eggs (smitten kitchen) - spicy vegan jackfruit tacos (minimalist baker)

Left to right, top to bottom:

Crispy oven-baked honey garlic tofu, using this recipe from I am a Food Blog. I tried making this like 5 times in a row and I’ve decided that medium-firm tofu works best, as long as you press out almost all of the moisture. I also foolishly used aluminum foil instead of parchment paper at first, which just made the tofu stick to the pan. IMO, this is a really tasty way to make tofu, but it takes a while to cook, and it gets chewy unless you eat it right away. (Did I overdo it on the green onion? The answer is no.)

Roasted eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish, using this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I’ve only eaten this with rice, not the suggested couscous, but the flavors are strong (and delicious!!!), so it’s a good idea to serve this with a plain starch. This is hella good, but it involves a lot of cutting.

Crispy fried eggs, using this recipe/guide from Smitten Kitchen. I don’t know how you can make this without a splatter guard, because it’s VERY dramatic, but these are fantastic over fried rice or with chopped parsley sprinkled on top.

Barbecue jackfruit taco filling, using this recipe from Minimalist Baker. I made this exactly once, and it took SO long to prepare the jackfruit that I will never do it again. Does it looks arrestingly similar to meat and have an appealing texture and tangy flavor? Yes. Is it worth the ridiculous amount of time it takes to deseed and cut/shred the canned jackfruit? No. Plus, jackfruit isn’t a good source of protein, so while I’ll gladly eat jackfruit tacos at a restaurant, I don’t think it’s worth having to prepare both the jackfruit and a protein (e.g. beans) for a nutritious vegetarian meal.

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book, movie, and fic reviews (10.11.18)

As promised, this post is dedicated to books, movies, and fanfiction I’ve consumed recently (and not so recently). I’ve got 23 books, 16 movies, and 6 fics in this post, so I’ve put most of it under a cut. Let’s get started.

BOOKS I READ

chaotic good - whitney gardner - princess academy - shannon hale - daughters of the dragon - william andrews - anothertoast book reviews

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner (Amazon | Goodreads) –  I was kind of disappointed the main character turned out to be cis and straight considering how important crossdressing is to the plot, but this book does a good job of exploring sexism and gatekeeping in fandom and geek culture, cyberbullying, costume design and construction, and the magic of Dungeons & Dragons. Also the illustrations are used really well.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (Amazon | Goodreads) – This is a middle grade book that’s cute, fun, low-key feminist, and a little bit magical.

Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews (Amazon | Goodreads) – This is a good book that was really hard to read and which I never want to read again. It’s about the Korean “comfort women” who were forced into sexual slavery and repeatedly raped by the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII. The Japanese government refused to acknowledge it happened at all until 1993 and continues to downplay this horrific part of Japan’s history.

beauty queens - libba bray - the secret history - donna tartt - rich people problems - kevin kwan - anothertoast book reviews

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (Amazon | Goodreads) – A bit heavy-handed and clumsily written, but the premise is so damn good: Lord of the Flies but the plane that crashes is carrying beauty pageant contestants.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Amazon | Goodreads) – This was my first Donna Tartt book and my GOD it did not disappoint. I loved the prose, especially the physical descriptions of people and the environment. Francis “Asparagus is in season” Abernathy is a precious gemstone, and I was so into this book that I read it between sets while crushed in the pit at a Dua Lipa concert.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (Amazon | Goodreads) The 3rd and final installment of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. Trashy, entertaining fun.

room - emma donoghue - ship it - britta lundin - the raven king - maggie stiefvater - anothertoast book reviews

Room by Emma Donoghue (Amazon | Goodreads) – Honestly this was kind of excruciating to read because it’s written from a 5-year-old’s point of view, but once you get used to it, WHAT A STORY! It is about abduction and abuse but also hope and resilience and adaptability.

Ship It by Britta Lundin (Amazon | Goodreads) – I loved this book. I love that the main character is afraid of and confused by her own queerness, I love that she falls for someone who is so sure of her own queerness that she doesn’t leave room for those who are questioning, I love that there’s a bi character who’s not 100% sure about her sexuality despite being comfortable with herself, and I love that the main character gets called out for not caring about minority representation that doesn’t directly affect herself. A+

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (Amazon | Goodreads) – I was loath to read this because I wanted The Raven Cycle series to go on forever, but I was in such a bad headspace re: work that I gave myself permission to escape to Cabeswater. It was super effective, and as soon as I finished reading, I immediately started looking for fic because I love all of my nightmare children so much!!!

the gentlemans guide to vice and virtue - mackenzi lee - sophia of silicon valley - anna yen - circe - madeline miller - anothertoast book reviews

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Amazon | Goodreads) – This book really needs a trigger warning for physical abuse and period racism, but if you love gay-ass Victorians, sass, and character development, you’ll have a good time with this one.

Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen (Amazon | Goodreads) – Amusing, but disappointingly blasé about sexism and racism in the tech industry. This book was based off the author’s own work experiences in 1990s Silicon Valley, but I feel very strongly that if a book about the tech industry published in 2018 mentions sexist and racist behavior, it should also call it what it is: a systemic problem.

Circe by Madeline Miller (Amazon | Goodreads) – I decided to read this because I loved The Song of Achilles so fucking much, and it did not disappoint. Madeline Miller’s prose has this sort of timeless cadence that works particularly well in the context of Greek mythology, and it’s so beautiful it makes me want to both weep and swoon. This story is about Circe and WITCHCRAFT and POWERFUL WOMEN and (thirsty Spongebob voice) YOU. NEEEED IT!!!

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