Thursday, September 12, 2013

What I'm Digging - Summer 2013 Review

This summer has had some entertainment highlights for what I've been addicted to, listening to, etc. that shouldn't be kept to myself.  From k-dramas to inspiration for new foods, this is my summer entertainment list:

Shows I've Been Glued To:

High Kick Through the Roof

This show is, in one word, HILARIOUS.  Karl even started watching it with me after he'd seen a few bits of it here and there as he'd pass through the room.  Now he's even more addicted to it than I am, which is another small win for the dark side.  mwhahaa.

The story starts when a pair of sisters travel from the mountains to Seoul city after their debt-ridden father runs away from the collectors, leaving them to fend for themselves. Due to the sisters living their lives in the mountains, everything in the city (outside world) is new for them.  The older sister gets a job as a live-in maid, and she and her sister live in a storage room of the home of their employer, a rich family that have a host of personality problems and family politics.

We finished watching the entire series a few weeks ago, and I must say a word of advice: don't watch the last 8 episodes.  It will ruin the series for you.  Otherwise, we're still able to go back to other episodes in the series and re-watch them and find them still very funny.  I read that the director was having disagreements with his writers towards the end and hijacked the show.  From what happened in those last episodes, I think the director must have had a personal vendetta against the writers...and the audience.

But don't let those few episodes keep you from watching this sitcom, because there are still 100+ episodes to enjoy.  You can find the series available for free streaming on Crunchyroll.

Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
The theme is: Life isn't easy.  It can be brutal and ugly.  But there is also beauty and courage.

Oh.  My.  Gosh.

The best anime to come out this summer, let alone in the last few years imo.

If this series doesn't have you reacting to what you're seeing unravel on the screen after the first episode...then I don't know what would.

This anime is masterful.  Harsh.  Gritty.  Raw.  Heartfelt.  Beautifully animated.

From the moment the opening song and intro begins, you know two things:

1) you've never seen a show with man-eating giants attacking cities like they're Godzilla
2) you're in for a ride.

Watch the opening song here:

The story drops you into a world where humanity has lost everything but the will to survive.  Remnants of the world's human population live inside cities that have towering walls designed to prevent Titans, huge giants who eat humans, from attacking them.

One-hundred years have passed since humanity has secluded itself into walled cities.  We are introduced to Eren and Mikasa, and their friend Armin, who yearn to learn about the outside world beyond the walls, a taboo subject.  Their wish does comes true, however not in the way they would ever want when the sudden destruction of their walls and an onslaught of Titans breaks the peace they have come to expect.

We watch them grow from being kids to hardened young adults, but we also see them mature and display resilience as they go through more hardships in their new reality.  Hope in the face of disaster.

There are many mysteries about this world that you slowly get answers to along with the characters; questions still remain though about how the Titans came to be and what the Titans are.  Many good twists and bumps along the way, and unlike a lot of stories, main characters are killed (and not in a cheap way to just get your emotions up either; I flat-out hate stories that do that).  The reactions of Mikasa have especially had me happy; though she has an Achilles heel, she is atypical as a mentally strong, self assured, quiet girl, and a brilliant fighter with leader qualities.  Even in the midst of her worst nightmare come true, she does not let her emotions get the best of her until after the battle at-hand is over.

It's ironic though how many fans seem to seek ways to laugh at AoT, which keeps things healthy after watching the characters waver between hope and despair for 22 minutes.  SO many parodies have sprung up from it at a pace I have not seen before, creating a subculture of fans.

The above video is a parody of the opening song with 'my little ponies'....yeah, they went there.

It's also started the photo trend of "gianting" - much like the previous trends of "planking", "hadokening", and "pottering".  Pretty funny.

If you want to get cracking on watching AoT, you can watch all the episodes starting here.  The show is still running with new episodes out each weekend.

Take Home Chef

I found this show on Netflix and have been addicted since.  I've learned a lot from the chef, Curtis Stone, a totally approachable guy who explains things in layman's terms.  Through this show I've been inspired a lot to try new dishes, meats, and techniques, such as a simpler way to cut parsley, roasting lamb or the best cut of meat for burgers, melting chocolate without burning it, or how easy it is to make french onion soup.

Highly recommend this show to get the creative juices flowing for meal ideas or to build on your existing cooking knowledge.


This is a funny, playful webseries made by fellow alumni of my film school, Adam & Melanie Hall of Mildly Fearsome Films.  I've been following them since the making of their top-notch comedic musical short film, Sudden Death (the tagline is "Finally, a musical where everyone dies").

Research is a comedic romp with episodes lasting around 5 minutes each, and includes an especially wonderful episode done as a musical (think of the Buffy musical episode).  It takes place in a research and testing facility for new drugs, but that's just the backdrop.  The real story is the characters, ranging from a self-proclaimed genius to a young lady who'd rather be a housewife with an intimate knowledge of kitchen blenders than have to be an independent working woman.

The first season is done.  I'm not sure if they're planning a second, but it is well contained if there are no plans for a 2nd.  I believe you can watch the full season in under an hour, so click the video above and begin!


As the majority of American pop songs seem to be anything but good in the past few years, I've been sticking to my indie and rock artists and giving very little interest to the pop scene.

This past summer I have found a few new-ish artists, some of which are now starting to get radio play.

First up is New Zealand native, Ella, known as Lorde, with Royals, who seems to be as disenchanted with the bombardment of idiotic lyrics in american pop songs as I am.

Can you believe she's only 16?

Kodaline is a band from Dublin that doesn't disappoint.  Their songs are poignant with powerful and beautiful instrumentals.  The MV in the video below is their song All I Want, and portrays a story set to the music that I just adore.

Lissie is a gal that I've been following for a year or two now.  She has a beautiful, raw voice and always looks like she rolled out of bed and started singing in her videos.  Her no-maintenance look and talent is still as refreshing with her new single this past summer, Further Away.


My girls of 2NE1 are back this summer with two singles Falling In Love and Do You Love Me.

They're displaying a more playful and girly side from their usual tough and rockstar image this time around in both of their latest MVs, which is a cute side that we usually only saw before in their realty show.

Dara is especially coming into her own, looking very self assured and beaming brighter than the rest.  Love seeing her like this.  They're all so talented and it's great seeing them being more comfortable in the spotlight.

My alter-ego, CL of 2NE1, also debuted her first single, Baddest Female, which is "not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good you know".  I admit the song had me wondering whether or not I liked it the first time I finished listening to it, but I played it again to see, and then again, and again, liking it more and more each time.  Now I see it as a rather brilliant piece of music - there's so many levels at work in it.  The MV is also chock full of eye candy and fun dance moves.  Overall a very strong beginning for CL.

G-I-Z to the I-B-E, now do the Unni, heeeey....

We also have newcomer, Ailee, cranking it out with her single U & I.  I still wonder where her voice comes from.

EXO-K continues to impress with Growl.  With a seriously catchy tune and solid dance choreography mixed with some neat camera/editing work, this video is gold.

F(x) comes out with their summer single once again, and spin out a great track called Rum Pum Pum.  Really, why is this tune so freakin' addicting?!

Shinwa came out with This Love in late spring, but I'll still count it because it hasn't gotten old no matter how many times I hear it.

Oh, and major props to them for managing to make camouflage-patterned suits look sexy.  Duck Dynasty would be proud.

Pleasure Reading:

Dog of the North

Step from Heaven

The Greatest Generation Speaks

I picked up all of these books at a "fill a bag for $5" library sale, choosing them because they looked interesting. Step from Heaven was a different style of writing I don't believe I've been exposed to before, based on fleeting observations and emotions of the main character as her family deteriorates.  Dog of the North was a story of revenge that I still turn over in my head a bit from time-to-time, and Greatest Generation had personal accounts of brave men and women who did what they could in WWII.

Looking now at these titles, it seems I had a trend of all good stories, but also bittersweet.  Hm.  Didn't plan that.

Online Gaming: 

Salty Bets

While researching cars, thanks to my sis I've been having fun watching Salty Bet, a place where gaming, anime, cartoon, and even random made-up characters battle on a live-feed in Street Fighter style, and you bet pretend money on who you think will win each match.

For realz.

Some epic battles have been:

link vs. winnie the pooh
sailor mercury vs. popeye
beavis vs. superman
shaq vs. vegeta (dbz)
eriol hiragazawa vs. ishida (this one broke my heart, lol)

This summer list should keep y'all busy for awhile.  If at least one of these things stood out to you and got you digging them as well, then I'm a happy camper.

What about you'ins?  What have you guys been into this summer that you'd like to pass along?  Do share!

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