Lyrics from 2016 that I want to write down over and over again

A few years ago, I spotted my sister writing down the lyrics of Mumford & Sons’ “Little Lion Man” on a post-it note, something that I had also found myself doing previously. We had a discussion then, about how, sometimes, a song’s lyrics are so beautiful and moving that you feel the need to – as she put it – “do something with them”. Write them out, type them down, to make them tangible, anything but copying and pasting from Genius.

It’s something I can’t quite explain, but it’s exactly why handwritten lyrics line her sketchbook and entire pages in my diary, and why I occasionally find old notes on my iPhone with a single verse from a song I had painstakingly typed out, letter for letter.

These were lyrics that made me want to do that in the past year, inspired, in part, by Pitchfork‘s favourite lyrics of 2016.

 

“The Anchor” – Bastille

Let those fools be loud, let alarms ring out
‘Cause you cut through all the noise
Let the days be dark, let me hate my work
‘Cause you cut through all the noise

Bring me some hope
By wandering into my mind
Something to hold on to
Morning, noon, day or night

You are the light
That is blinding me
You’re the anchor that I tie to my brain
‘Cause when it feels like I’m lost at sea
You’re the song I sing again and again
All the time, all the time
I think of you all the time

“Gemini Feed” – Banks

And to think you would get me to the altar
Like I follow you around like a dog that needs water
But admit it that you wanted me smaller
If you would have let me grow
You could have kept my love.

“All Night” – Beyonce

“Our love was stronger than your pride,
Beyond your darkness I was your light,
If you get deep, you touch my mind,
Baptize your tears and wipe your eyes”

“Fake It” – Bastille

Melt me down,
I’m like wax to your jokes.

“On Hold” – The xx

“And every time I let you leave
I always saw you coming back to me
When and where did we grow cold?
I thought I had you on hold”

“The Sound” – The 1975

Well I know when you’re around
‘Cause I know the sound
I know the sound of your heart

“2Shy” – Shura

Let’s go find a corner we can sit in
And talk about that film instead of us
Even though throughout it I was thinking
I was gonna say I love you afterwards

“Glory” – Bastille

You make me laugh until I die,
Can you think of a better way to choke?

“Worry” – Jack Garratt

You came around to say that you’ve been away, as if I hadn’t known
As if I don’t wake up every day, not seeing you go
As if this moon of ours only shines a half to make me feel whole
As if I haven’t felt your breath in every step I take when the wind blows

 

*Sorry the list is, as expected, very Bastille-heavy. If Mumford & Sons had released an album this year, it’d be a very different story.

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Things I enjoyed in 2016

I really struggled to put this year-end roundup together this time around because I was really, very busy for much of the year. 2016 was a massive blur, and I can’t remember if I either consumed too much or not enough media hence the kind of shit list. But tradition is tradition, and if you’re willing to stick around for another year, 2017’s will be undoubtedly better.

Movies: SpotlightEx Machina, Dr. Strange

Oldies: Magnolia, American Psycho, The Deer Hunter, Shakespeare in Love

TV: Mr. Robot, The Leftovers, Atlanta, Marvel’s Luke Cage, Stranger Things

Albums: 

Honourable mention aka the album I forgot to include in my tweets: The Hamilton Mixtape

Singles (in no particular order): “Final Song” – MØ, “Love on the Brain” – Rihanna, “On Hold” – The xx, “Best to You” – Blood Orange, “Breathe Life” – Jack Garratt, “Cliff” – Lapsley, “Black and White” – Regina Spektor, “Friends” – Francis and the Lights feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West, “Dear Theodosia – Reprise” – Chance the Rapper, “Satsified” – Sia feat. Queen Latifah and Miguel, “One Dance” – Drake feat. Wizkid and Kyla, “Temporary Love” – The Brinks; “Boyfriend” – Tegan and Sara, “I Feel It Coming” – The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk, “Tilted” – Christine and the Queens, “Something For Nothing” – Rationale, “Bad Blood” – Nao, “Multi-Love” – Unknown Mortal Orchestra”

Great jams I listened to on repeat posthumously: “Space Oddity” – David Bowie, “Purple Rain” – Prince, “September” – Earth, Wind and Fire, “Careless Whisper” – George Michael

Gigs: Beyoncé @ Wembley Stadium,Chaos Planet (Bastille) @ Courtyard Theatre, Florence and the Machine + Kendrick Lamar + Jamie xx @ BST Hyde Park, Bastille @ The O2. Honourable mentions: The 1975 @ The Roundhouse, CHVRCHES @ Royal Albert Hall

Books: Ready Player One by Ernest ClineSalt by Nayyirah Waheed

Nights out: Lemonade by BLESS @ Birthdays, Breaking Bad-themed bar @ ABQ London

Places I randomly found myself in: Calais, France; Essex, England

Cities: London, New York, Taipei

Newly found appreciations: Hamilton, dogs

Articles I’m still thinking about:

Pieces I wrote:

Videos I made/took part in:

 

 

 

2016 Christmas Gift Guide

Aka my actual wish list. Updated as I continue to do my Christmas shopping.

Go Haim Or Go Home T-Shirt

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$25 from the Haim merch shop

The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost

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£16.99 from Waterstones

The Altar by Banks

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£9.99 from Amazon

Drink a Diamond Glass Set

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£24 from Urban Outfitters

The Holy Meme Bible

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$9.99 from the Meme Bible

Mochithings 2017 Planner

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$31.95 from Mochithings

J. Crew Signet Bag in Italian Leather

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£128 from J. Crew

Handmade Whale Mug

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£22.85 and up from Etsy

Lemonade Dad Hat

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$36 from Beyoncé merch shop

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Life can be so surreal sometimes.

While at Eslite looking for a new book today, I picked up Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers And Sons. I’d been hoping to read it ever since I took the Introduction to Russian Literature class with Professor Michael Henry Heim, a noted translator, during the first quarter of my freshman year at UCLA. That class changed my life.

I adored Professor Heim; he remains my favourite UCLA professor to this day. His lectures – the topics, the structure, the way he spoke – somehow put into words all the reasons I loved literature, expressed in a way I wasn’t able to my perception of the world and the role of literature in it.

I kept in contact with Professor Heim during my freshmen year, sometimes visiting him in office hours. We weren’t super close, but I remember him clearly and fondly, often seeing him walking around campus with his raggedy backpack filled with books. Professor Heim died of melanoma in 2012, when I was in my third-year. I had no idea he was sick.

Fathers and Sons was on the top of a list of recommended books Professor Heim gave us after the quarter was over, which was why I had wanted to buy it in the first place. And I almost did today, until I realized that I had no idea which translation to buy. I thought of Professor Heim then and wished he were still here so I could ask him.

Instead, I bought a beautiful paperback copy of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, without thinking twice about checking the translation as I was in a rush and sold by its beautiful cover. When I got home, I re-read a few of Professor Heim’s obituaries in the L.A. Times, the Daily Bruin, and I see this sentence in the New York Timesobituary:

He was known in particular for his translations of Mr. Kundera’s novels, including the original English-language editions of “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting” (1980) and “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (1984), which became a best seller in the United States.

I rush over to my newly-bought The Unbearable Lightness of Being book, flip it open, and what do you know?

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Best Things: 2013

I’ve been a bit swamped with work so the last few days of 2013 were a bit of a blur to me. When things quietened down over the new year, I wondered whether it would be too late for me to do my own best of 2013 list. But the opportunity only comes once a year and thus was too good to pass up, so here it is, four days late – my best things of 2013 (inspired by the lists of Ann Friedman and the Daily Bruin’s digital managing editor and my former editor Kate Parkinson-Morgan):

TV: Breaking Bad, Broadchurch, Doctor Who, Orphan Black, Sleepy Hollow, Once Upon a Time.

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Movies: Django Unchained (2012), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), About Time (2013), Gravity (2013), Frozen (2013) and Amour (2012). From the films I watched on my 1001 list: All About My Mother (1999), The Rules of the Game (1939), Winter Light (1964) and Breathless (1960).

Books: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

Short stories: The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Hemingway, The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl by Ray Bradbury.

Poem: Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden.

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Albums & Singles: Modern Vampires of the City (Vampire Weekend), “Unfinished Business” (covered by Mumford and Sons), Heartthrob (Tegan and Sara), Hummingbird (Local Natives), My Head is an Animal (Of Monsters and Men).

Articles:

As for my own writing, for my film classes, I wrote a paper titled “Dichotomies of Hope and Doubt in Ingmar Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly and Winter Light” and another re-examining the success of David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I live-blogged the UCLA Spring Sing for the Daily Bruin, dug around for trivia about Bruin Plaza and tried to explain binary code before bidding a teary farewell to the mobile journalism blog, Mojo.

Decision: Moving home, also discovering Sherlock and Doctor Who.

Websites & Blogs: Vulture, BBC America’s Anglophenia, The Atlantic’s Breaking Bad roundtable, 40 Days of Dating, What Would I Say?, TV TropesSelina’s blog that she kept for her classes with me.

People I’ll miss the most: My grandfather, Roger Ebert, Nelson Mandela, Peter O’Toole.

Places: Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia.

Ending: Graduating from UCLA.

Beginning: Landing my first proper post-grad job as a News Anchor and Writer at ICRT, Taiwan’s only English radio station.

Moments: Attending The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Oscar Nominees Night, getting cited as a reference in Wikipedia.

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Quote:

You must do everything that frightens you, JR. Everything. I’m not talking about risking your life, but everything else. Think about fear, decide right now how you’re going to deal with fear, because fear is going to be the great issue of your life, I promise you. Fear will be the fuel for all your success, and the root cause of all your failures, and the underlying dilemma in every story you tell yourself about yourself. And the only chance you’ll have against fear? Follow it. Steer by it. Don’t think of fear as the villain. Think of fear as your guide, your pathfinder — your Natty Bumppo.

J.R. Moehringer, The Tender Bar

WordPress, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down

I started blogging almost three months back but I’ve suffered a lot of restrictions when it comes to customizing my blog layout and posts, which is something I’ve liked to do ever since I started blogging in middle school.

Suffice it to say, one blog post would take me hours because I had to manually copy and paste chunks of HTML into every paragraph in order to change the font. While copying and pasting HTML is somewhat in the vein of things I enjoy doing for stress-relief – yeah, I’m one of those people who likes to manually type citations one by one – it’s prevented me from blogging as much as I would have liked.

After I made a teaching blog on Blogger and quite enjoyed the (customizable) experience, I temporarily decided to migrate my blog across from WordPress to Blogger, at least until I’m no longer a poor post-grad human being who cannot afford to support her own blogging endeavours by buying a pretty premium theme or to self-host her blog.

And then I went and changed my mind in the future on September 25, 2013 – “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” if you look at the date this post was published – because I realized I am much too lazy to start all over. Sorry boys, I’m soooo changeable.

I had actually figured out a way to publish old posts with the correct date though, because I’m sneaky and managed to travel back in time thanks to the help of a time-travelling humanoid alien named the Doctor. Okay, I wish.

But just to be clear, this blog is still very much alive and not on hiatus, says I on September 25, 2013. What follows in the next few paragraphs is a re-post of the single, pitiful post I wrote on Blogger on September 11, 2013.

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For my “re-introduction” post, I don’t know if I want to write about Breaking Bad, which I last wrote about two weeks ago. My response to “To’hajiilee” was pretty much the same as everyone else on the Internet – a huge O.M.G. and AHHHHH. Yes, “To’hajiilee” was so very clever, and that cliffhanger, man, I don’t even know.

I don’t think “To’hajiilee” quite matched up to the emotional depth of “Confessions” though, like I didn’t get the same pang during the Walt/Jesse phone call as I would have liked. I think I just like to have my heart broken when I watch a film or a TV show. If it makes me cry, that’s extra points in my book. Maybe that’s why I love Doctor Who so much.

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Speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to do a post about my favourite Doctor Who episodes from each season. I’ll get around to that when I am not spending my time reading short stories for kids and then again with kids.

Side note, this is the first time Jesse has called Walt by his first name. Pretty sure this is a nod to the changing power dynamic. I still kept hoping that Jesse would suddenly change his mind in the desert though, what with the camera continuously panning back to him (It turns out he was just really happy).

I also didn’t get a kick out of Hank’s “victory” as much as others on the web did. Sure, I don’t feel as attached to Walt as I did in the previous seasons, but I certainly am not on Hank’s side. That scene with Marie was kinda cutesy though. Hank said I love you, which is aww, but sorry buddy, odds are you ain’t surviving that shootout. Unless someone comes forth with a grenade and blows Todd, Uncle Jack and the Neo-Nazis to smithereens.

Oops, it seems like this post ended up being about Breaking Bad after all.

Side note part two, whenever I teach English, my own English deteriorates. It seems that teaching English always comes at the expense of my own writing and speaking skills. So please excuse any typos, grammatical errors and awkwardly-phrased sentences and blame it on my kids for influencing me to speak like them.

Home is Where the Heart is

I have saved in my WordPress drafts an unfinished story of my job search as an international student in the United States. I had started it in the hopes of finishing it once I successfully scored the job of my dreams. That draft will probably never be finished the way I had intended. 

Lately, I’ve spent many a sleepless night contemplating my currently non-existent career, my future and how I want to spend, well, the rest of my life. The thing is, I could never decide, and the truth is, I don’t know.

It was only during a long late-night Skype session with my parents last week that I realized that this is my life – it’s always been mine. I could either be utterly miserable or ridiculously happy. How I spend it is up to me.

And if there was one thing I knew for sure in all this uncertainty is that I haven’t been happy for a long time, holed up alone in my apartment in L.A. for days on end, waiting for an email that probably wasn’t going to arrive.

That night, I decided to move back home to Taiwan, where I have been since Saturday.

While I had doubts about my decision pretty much immediately – of course those eagerly-awaited emails would come flooding in once I bought my plane ticket – a friend said something that stuck with me. “You don’t have to make the right choice as long as you can make the choice right.”

And as I speculated about the future on the way to the airport, my other friend who drove me there said, “Choose whatever makes you happy. It always turns out that it was the right decision.”

I know now that it was the right decision as I have since dug myself out of what I thought was an endless black hole. This is not me giving up. This is just me finally taking control of my life. It’s time to write a new story. 

The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters. Audrey Hepburn

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Doctor Who, Depressing Books, Comic-Con & DineLA

Recap of my week, in which I consumed massive amounts of media and food, which are basically the same thing, right?

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Ughhhh, it happened. I finished series 2 of Doctor Who. Spoiler alert from seven years ago, it was devastating. There were tears everywhere – Rose’s, the Doctor’s, mine. Hearts were broken.

Safe to say, I am now in love with this show, and David Tennant of course. I mean, look at the man (and with them glasses on… swoon). But quite frankly, I’m continually astounded by the depth of this program, or should I say programme. It takes a while to sink in, but once it does, it’s breathtaking. It’s pretty rare for me to come across a show that so closely aligns with my own views on human beings, life, the universe and all that big stuff and helps me make sense of my world, such as my neighbour’s Wifi (Unfortunately, BADWOLF wasn’t the password)

… and the sources of some of the gifs in my gif collection that I’ve had for the longest time:

Some thoughts on my other favourite Doctor Who ep: Moffat’s “The Girl in the Fireplace”, which is based on Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife”, which was made into a movie that I don’t like to talk about except to illustrate a point. Today’s point:

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Was I the only one that felt that the two actresses from the film and the programme look very similar, or at least give off the same vibe?

Returning to “Doomsday”, I felt pretty empty after I finished it and instead of trying to cheer myself up, I decided to deepen my depression by finishing “The Bell Jar” – pun unintended – then break my heart even more by reading John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” all in the same day. Yeah, I was that broken. Queue: Lifehouse’s song of the same name.

Speaking of heartbreak, I’m pretty heartbroken I’m not at Comic-Con right now. Perhaps in an alternate universe… EW seems to have all the exclusive deets on it, and so far I’ve fathomed that the doppelganger theory could potentially be the explanation for how STOP, SPOILER ALERT Sherlock survived his fall, per Benedict’s troll vid. From what I could make out, there are two stuffed monkeys, some switching around, some sort of helicopter, Watson crying, Mrs. Hudson offering a cup of tea and two Sherlocks/Benedict playing another character called…? Could explain why the little girl started screaming when she saw Sherlock and why that wasn’t explained in the first place.

I have also amassed a bunch of trailers of films that I am looking forward to since I last posted The Counsellor, all of which feat my fav peeps like Fassy and Benny C. But I’ll save that for another day.

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Urghhh, Sherlock and Orphan Black, just get on with filming already. Even though my withdrawal symptoms aren’t going away any time soon, to help ease the pain, I have started watching Benedict in his Emmy-nominated performance in BBC’s Parade’s End. All I can say right now is that Rebecca Hall’s character is making me dislike the actress even more (I don’t know, I was just never a big fan).

Oh right, I forgot about food. This week’s dining options via iPhone & Instagram: Palomino, Yojie Japanese Fondue for DineLA. Not featured: Fogo de Chao for DineLA. 

Finally, I have successfully convinced multiple friends to watch Sherlock and Orphan Black. Soon, they will become as obsessed as I am and join with me in my love/hate relationship with the BBC, who likes to torture me with its TBD air dates.

Until then.

Hanging out with Superman

On Tuesday, I visited the Warner Bros. lot for the first time to speak at a mentor/mentee event. This is the exciting craziness that ensued in which I geeked out like a true film freak.

After lunch in the executive suite where famous peeps dine and whatnot, I was treated to a trip to the strictly-no-photos-allowed Warner Bros. Museum, where I saw the original costumes and props from some of my favourite films and TV shows including Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. I got sorted into Slytherin by an automated Sorting Hat and saw some of the costumes used in the deceiving trailers of Man of Steel and The Great Gatsby.

I was so excited I would’ve played “As Time Goes By” on the piano from Casablanca if it wasn’t locked in a glass case and squeezed into one of Audrey Hepburn’s costumes in My Fair Lady and danced and sung “Wouldn’t it be Loverly?” if the security guard hadn’t been staring at me suspiciously. It’s only the costume that my idol Audrey wore in one of my favourite musicals of all time.

On my way out, I strolled by the set where the last scene of Road to Perdition was filmed and the Clint Eastwood Soundstage where he produced the music for Million Dollar Baby and all that. Sadly, Clint wasn’t there when I walked by or I probably definitely would have fangirled and died or cried or, I don’t know, squinted and quoted Dirty Harry or something. I did get a picture with Superman though.

All right DC, I guess you ain’t that bad. I’ll stick with you a bit longer.

For My Students

A few weeks ago, I was asked along with talk show host and former CNN anchor May Lee to speak at a Women in Journalism event to empower high school girls.

On Tuesday, I went to the Warner Bros. lot for the first time for the mentor/mentee event, which was held by the Studio City Youth Chamber of Commerce.

Over lunch, the girls, May and I chatted about college, journalism, the future, and of course, high school drama and Gossip Girl. May told us stories about anchoring for major news outlets and hosting her own talk show, sprinkling them with wise advice. May’s main message she wanted us to take away was that it’s not physically possible for anyone to do it all and that is quite all right. Know that you have options, she said.

Although I do not claim to have sorted through this complicated thing called life, I am grateful for the chance to provide my own advice of sorts. As someone who decided to graduate a year early on a whim, there are things I only learnt in the past year that I wish I had known earlier. Being able to pass these lessons on to younger generations to come is important to me.

As a journalist, I am used to chronicling the stories of others. Sharing my own story and imparting “wisdom” is at once exciting and frightening. Everything seems infinitely interesting as a recent college graduate, and I am probably as unsure about life as I ever was.

But I see younger versions of myself when I look at my students and mentees – shy, unsure but ever so ready to go out and change the world. I wouldn’t trade this optimism for the world. Or the look on their faces when we both know they’ve struck on something great.

It’s true that no one knows what the future holds, but it’s also true that I know my generation and those of my mentees’ will play a huge part in shaping what it becomes. There is now so much information at our fingertips. With technology, the potential is limitless. So as with all my students, I encourage my mentees to be passionately curious and to dabble around with a bit of everything.

To my students and mentees reading this – to Lian (yes, you included), to Adrienne, to Alyssa, to Elizabeth, to Diana, to Selina, to Vivian, to Peggy, to Brian, to Ethan and to Curtis – my hope for you is that you continue to dream and to follow these dreams. Aspire for greatness. Find your passion and pursue it with all your might. Create, learn, and listen to your hearts. Most of all, believe in yourself. The future holds great things for you, so go out and explore. I can’t wait to see the wondrous things you’ll do.

And I can’t think of anything more fitting than to paraphrase Pa Kent from Warner Bros’ Man of Steel, “You’re going to change the world.”

Many special thanks to Alyssa for organizing the event and Michael Chang for this photo, organizing the event and the WB Museum tour