Music Monday: Rediscovering Songs

It’s not really news that I grew up listening and watching Vietnamese music, that’s just how it was in our house. Vietnamese music has been the one thing that still makes me feel connected to my roots, culture, heritage, despite being born in Canada. My love of pop music stemmed  from my love of Vietnamese pop, which is not to say that I don’t like some of the more adult contemporary stuff, it’s just that I didn’t have much of an appreciation for it until later in life. One of the things that I did always love growing up were the French songs that got translated into Vietnamese. There were songs in other languages that got translated into Vietnamese, but French songs, especially the older ones, just have a really special quality to them.

So listening to these Vietnamese/French songs growing up and pretty much knowing those songs just as that, embedded in my brain since I was a kid, has amusingly led to a kind of music rediscovery nowadays. Much like watching an old movie or TV show and recognizing a now-famous actor, I’ve stumbled upon a few songs in English that I once only knew in Vietnamese or French (or both).

Megan Hilty recently released a new album called Live at the Cafe Carlyle. On it, Hilty performs a collection of standards, Broadway tunes, songs from Smash, and such. One particular song caught me by surprise when I heard it, and that was “Autumn Leaves.” As soon as Megan sang the first couple of words, I instantly recognized it as a Vietnamese song called “La Thu Vang” Honestly, I knew that song was a translated French song, but all my life, I have only ever heard it in Vietnamese and famously sung by Khanh Ha. It felt so different and weird hearing it in English, but I also became instanly obsessed with it, mainly due to the fact that it’s Megan, though it really is just such a beautiful song.

A couple of years ago, there was a movie that came out called Inside Llewyn Davis, starring Oscar Isaac. The movie itself was just okay for me, but I instantly fell in love with the soundtrack. The movie and soundtrack featured a song performed by Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, and Stark Sands called “Five Hundred Miles.” I remember hearing it for the first time and thinking “This sounds really familiar…” and me being me, it annoyed the hell out of me trying to figure out where I had heard it. I knew I had heard Vietnamese singer Thanh Lan sing it before, but it was me digging through my music library until I found it (it gets hard when all the French medleys are labelled as that, just different artists lol). But I found it, and it was just funny because again, all my life I only knew it in French, even though “Five Hundred Miles” is the original song that spurred multiple translations, including the French version entitled “Et j’entends siffler le train”

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Throwback Thursday: Dancing Days

Dance Crew, my second family during my high school years. Can't believe this was 10 years ago!

Dance Crew, my second family during my high school years. Can’t believe this was 10 years ago!

I have made it known how much I love dance, ever since I was a little kid. I remember just dancing around to songs and then finding every opportunity in school to make up dance routines. I never asked for dance lessons because growing up in my house, it never going to be an option. Parents put me into piano lessons (of course), but that lasted two years before it got too much for us. So my dance education consisted of trying to learn choreography from music videos and such; to this day, it actually still is. When high school rolled around and I found out about Dance Crew, I knew I wanted to try out, even if I didn’t know what to expect from it.

Me being completely unsure of my dance ability, I was in shock when I made it past the first cuts, and then eventually got through to joining the Crew. As you would expect from any Crew, though not necessarily normal for a typical school team, we did everything ourselves: scheduling practices, choreographing, finding a teacher supervisor. Everything was us and while most of the choreographing was done by our Captain, it was still very much a group effort. For me, I found a place to learn dance, from people who loved dance even more than I did, and a creative outlet that I never thought possible.

From year to year, unless you graduated, quit or there were serious issues which caused you to be kicked out, we all stuck together as a team. We became friends and we became a family – a somewhat dysfunctional family, but a family nonetheless. In my sophomore year, I was slightly more confident, but still very insecure about my dancing abilities, so I always felt like they let me stay because I was loyal. I caused no drama; in fact, I hated the drama that sometimes went on, but I was committed to the Crew. The one time I questioned my commitment was towards the end of junior year. I had already ran for Co-President of Student Council and lost; got over it after a day or so and chalked it up to a VERY BAD Friday the 13th. Now, our Captain was going to be graduating that year and we had to nominate/vote for Co-Captains next year; I had thought that being next in terms of seniority I would be somewhat in charge. Boy, was I wrong. I mean I knew I wasn’t the best dancer or choreographer in the Crew, but that’s why we were voting for Co-Captains and I would handle the logistical stuff. To be overlooked completely though? Yeah it hurt. Sure, it was just a title, doesn’t mean that I felt betrayed somehow, like my loyalty/commitment/care for the Crew meant nothing. I didn’t talk to any of them of a solid week and for high school, that was a long time. I remember needing to think things over and re-analyze my position in the Crew. It took some time but ultimately, I had to put those hurt feelings aside and realize that I couldn’t spend my senior year not dancing with them. They did kind of make it up to me when I graduated though.

There were a lot of good times and a lot of bad times, but when I said that we were like a family back then, I meant it. We had each others’ backs. The bunch of us may have gone our separate ways after high school, as often happens. However, the memories are still there, and even with everything that happened during my time, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Dance Crew made my high school experience better than what it would’ve been without it.

 

April (aka Birthday Month) Blogging Challenge

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Sometime last week, I had the idea of maybe doing something different for the blog. You see, April is my birthday month and I all of a sudden had this urge to challenge myself. In case you haven’t noticed, the regularity of my blog postings are intermittent at best; I think my longest streak of posting was 6-7 days and that’s pretty much every May, with me trying to cover TV Upfronts.

Now like I said, it being April soon (tomorrow), I wanted to give myself a blogging challenge. So for the next 15 days, I’m going to write and put up a new blog post every single day. Why 15 days? Well, my birthday is April 15th, so everyday leading up to it, I will post something. Plus, for me to go the full month, would be overreaching. Basically, this allows me to challenge myself to blog more, without feeling overwhelmed by it, and it’s something out of the ordinary for the blog itself. I’m hoping that it’ll ending up being a mixture of different lists (of the standard variety and of the musical kind), some of my usual opinion/”random thought” pieces, and maybe some personal stories. It’s sort of my way of opening myself up, and hopefully you’ll get a little more sense as to who I am. So bear with me as I attempt this.

Confessions of a Blogger

Credit to The Nerdy Girlie, Megan Gotch, for the graphic

Credit to The Nerdy Girlie, Megan Gotch, for the graphic

The Nerdy Girlie recently did a post entitled Confessions of a Blogger and called out the rest of us for our own confessions. So, as part of the Female Geek Bloggers community, I accepted the challenge!

1. Self-Conscious

I created the blog back in 2009, in my senior year of university, simply as a means to get my thoughts and opinions about pop culture out. I rant and discuss things with friends, but my friends don’t have ALL the same interests as me, and aren’t as crazy about pop culture as I am. Thus, Pop Cultured Randoms was born! I began blogging (and still do) just to get my thoughts out there, beyond the 140 characters of Twitter, and I never expected people to read it, but sometimes I do get a little self-conscious and wonder why I’m doing it at all if not many people read what I have to say.

2. There’s a Reason I Don’t Blog As Often As I Think I Should

I am keen on writing – in university, if I had the option to write a paper instead of doing an exam or to make a final exam worth less, I took it. But writing takes a long time…and I’m kind of a perfectionist…and I need to be inspired. I don’t like to blog about whatever; if it’s something small, that’s what Twitter’s for. If I have something I really need to rant about or just something I really want to share, then I’ll blog about it. Otherwise, I don’t want to blog just for the sake of blogging, ya know?

3. Multitasker

I always need music in the background, regardless of what I’m doing. I hate quiet – mainly because I’m already a quiet person, so I just need noise in general to fill my head. I do my best to actually sit down at my desk to write, but if you’ve read this blog, you’d know how much of a TV nerd I am and how much time that takes up. So more often than not, I end up writing on the couch, while watching TV. Not the best way to do either things, but I’m a person who likes to maximize my time.

4. I’m Still Learning

I’m not terrible with technology and I want to say I’m pretty good at working the internet (LOL that just made me sound ancient), but five years of blogging, and I’m still learning how to work with WordPress, graphics, and whatnot. For the longest time, I used a standard WordPress template for my background. Then I realized I should TRY to personalize my page, however much I could, to the extent of my abilities. So that’s when I finally made my own background, putting pictures of my favourite things together, and spending longer than I really should have with Photoshop. Like I said, I’m not terrible with technology but I’m not particularly good with technical stuff and jargon I don’t understand. Aannndd that’s why I’ve had the same background for like 2 years now.

5. It’s Pop Cultured RANDOMS For a Reason

There are lots of blogs dedicated solely to fashion or beauty or just one thing – good on you if you’re doing that. That’s not me. I’m interested in too many things relating to entertainment and pop culture to be bogged down by just one thing. If I’m REALLY into something, you’ll notice by the frequency I blog about or mention it (ie. my obsession with the show Nikita, up until the very end…and even now after it’s over). Otherwise, if I get inspired to write about something, I’ll do it. Simple as that. Plus, since these are my confessions, I feel like the “Randoms” part gives me an out to not only write about whatever I want, but also write whenever I want. Which again is just an excuse for me when I don’t feel compelled to write anything. But I am trying harder to write more! Proof: this post will be my third for the weekend!…which will probably be followed by two weeks of nothing, if my past habits are any indication.

And there it is, my blogging confessions!

SDCC Panel Wishlist

With all the shows getting renewed or picked-up by the network over the past couple weeks, it immediately got me thinking – what could show up at SDCC in July? I’m not gonna lie, my interest in SDCC is for all the movie and TV stuff because that’s what I geek out about. (I know, I’m part of the problem that is causing SDCC to get CRAZY popular.) With two months to go until the big Con, it’s as good a time as any to have some fun speculating what shows (old and new) the studios might bring and wishing for what shows will make their way to San Diego.

NEW SHOWS

STALKER (WB): I feel like it’s not a typical show that would appear at Comic-Con but Warner Bros. has brought another similar Kevin Williamson show, The Following, two years in a row, so it’s always a possibility. Not going to lie, I want them to bring this show just for another chance to see Maggie Q, though she’ll probably be there anyways for Insurgent, the next movie in the Divergent series.

SALEM (FOX 21): Salem, WGN America’s first foray into original scripted programming, has been a hit. Fox 21, which also produces Sons of Anarchy, would be smart to bring the show to SDCC. It’s already been renewed for a second season, plus it has already appeared at sister-con Wondercon in Anaheim, so I think it’s a no-brainer. Again, I’m kinda of being entirely selfish because I want to see Shane West and Seth Gabel.

12 MONKEYS (Universal Cable/Atlas Entertainment): This is a new show that will air on SyFy next year, so I’m not entirely sure of its chances of making an appearance here. Granted, a pilot’s already been shot, so it’s possible that SyFy will give this a promotional push at SDCC like it did for Helix last year. On the other hand, SyFy might instead bring their other shows, Dominion (which premieres in June) or Ascension (which premieres in November).

GOTHAM (WB): There is absolutely no doubt that Warner Bros. will bring this show to SDCC. It is the most anticipated show of the fall season, so I’m guessing Ballroom 20 and complete excitement over it similar to SHIELD last year.

THE FLASH (WB): Another show that will without a doubt make an appearance.

AGENT CARTER (Marvel): Seeing as how a pilot hasn’t been shot yet and recent news that it will only run for eight episodes, I wouldn’t be surprised if they pair Agent Carter with SHIELD for a Marvel TV panel.

CONSTANTINE (WB): The third of four DC Comics getting the TV treatment next season will probably get a panel at SDCC as well. And come on, like the other comic inspired new shows, it’s totally playing right into the SDCC crowd.

RETURNING SHOWS

ARROW: Following a FANTASTIC season 2, obviously the show’s gonna get another panel. I was there at last year’s panel and then saw Stephen Amell again at FanExpo in Toronto – I just can’t get enough of this cast.

SLEEPY HOLLOW: There had to have been some sort of scheduling conflict for me to have missed last year’s panel and I know people didn’t know what to expect from it. But now, with it being one of the biggest successes of the past season, it’s definitely going to move up the ranks in terms of panel size.

ORPHAN BLACK: Again, it’s another obvious choice to come back. I’ve told this story before but I can’t get over it – I vaguely knew about OB before last year’s Con, didn’t get a chance to watch it yet. My cousin had already seen it, went to their panel, tried to get wristbands for the autograph signing. When she couldn’t get the wristbands, we showed up at the signing, standing away from it and I was taking pictures of the cast for her. Little did I know that a week later when I sat down to finally watch it, I was gonna become obsessed with these people that I was taking pictures of. This year, I join my cousin in the OB obsession.

RESURRECTION: It’s a really interesting show that premiered on ABC in March and it deals with how a town reacts/deals with the return of people who previously died. As the short season went on, a lot of questions were asked and we were only given a few answers. I think it’d be cool if they had a panel and we could try to pry some answers out of the producers/writers.

I feel like those are the shows I REALLY want to see at SDCC this year. Of course, there are a few others that I wouldn’t mind seeing but aren’t necessarily at the top of my list. So with two months to go, what do you guys hope to see at Comic-Con? Which of the recently announced new shows do you think will make their debut in San Diego? Let me know in the comments!