May 192019
 

I came home on Friday after a relatively quiet, boring day, to find a package on the front porch. I thought it was probably another box of boringness for Amazon-addict Henry (j/k – everything he orders from Amazon is actually supplies we need for koi’s greeting card business but it’s still boring shit). When I got closer to the porch though, I SAW THAT THE BOX HAD A PICTURE OF WINNER ON IT!

It was from my Kpop-bestie Veronica! What a wonderfully unexpected surprise!

Veronica recently attended the Korea Times Music Festival in LA and got to swoon over Taemin for the both of us, and she picked up a t-shirt for me too! As of that wasn’t glorious enough, she even topped it off with an assortment of Kpop swag such as photocards, stand-up cut-outs, and postcards of some of my biases!

My fireplace mantel has so much beauty on it, I can’t even.

Henry tried to steal some of them for his desk at work, and Chooch tried to walk off with the TOP photocard. It’s hard being a Kpop family who hates sharing.

I love everything so much! I don’t have any other friends who are into Kpop so people are always sending me news articles and stuff on BTS because that’s all they know which is nice and I appreciate it, but to have a friend who actually knows which groups I’m bananas for feels like such a luxury!

Ugh, forever my ultimate. <3

Oh man, I am so grateful! Thank you so much, Veronica, if you are reading this! I have been re-looking at everything all weekend and giggling like a weirdo.

(As I’m typing this, Henry is watching Instagram videos of Taemin performing at the Dream Concert that happened this weekend in Seoul. Oh Henry.)

Then later that night, I splurged and bought Chooch and myself tickets to see GOT7 and Henry is too exhausted these days to even do the whole “shaking fist in the air” rigmarole that he used to when I had a impulsive ticket-buying spree. But I justified it by reminding him that this cost like, a quarter of what KCON tickets would have been had they actually released a lineup worthy of our money and travel this year but no, they didn’t. So now we will go see GOT7 in Toronto instead and Chooch is excited because this is his bias group and we missed them the last two times they were in the US because Kpop tickets are $$$$. Ugh.

The next day, I had a coffee date with a new friend I made on HelloTalk. If you’re not familiar, HelloTalk is a language-exchange app, where you befriend native speakers of the language you are trying to learn, and you help each other. It’s kind of frustrating though because even though there is a strict NOT A DATING APP policy, people are still trying to weasel their way in. This is actually how I made my first and only native Korea friend, Kyoung! We don’t use HelloTalk to chat anymore, just KakaoTalk, and he is very respectable and treats me as his noona (older sister).

However, just a week ago, some Korean man from Vancouver started sending me messages and I thought it was going OK but then he was like ADD ME ON KAKAO. I WANT TO CALL YOU. And that freaked me out.

Around the same time, I got a notification that someone named Jiyong added me on there. And then I saw that they live here in Pittsburgh! Finally, I thought, maybe I can make a Korean friend here who can help me learn Korean. Plus, Jiyong is also G-Dragon’s name so I felt like this was meant to be! The next day, we started to exchange messages and they asked, “So, you like Bigbang?” because I have that in my profile, lol #koreaboo.

Henry was like, “Please don’t embarrass yourself…”

(I was able to read this, because it’s Korean that’s relevant to my interests so I could figure it out, lol.)

But they seemed OK with chatting about kpop and they also weren’t asking me things like ARE YOU MARRIED ARE YOU SINGLE CAN I CALL YOU IMMEDIATELY SEND ME SELCAS so I felt good about this. I suggested that we meet up for coffee, because they were also looking for help with their English. Jiyong is from Jeonju, South Korea and moved to the US about 3 and a half years ago for work. Jiyong also lived in Hongdae, which is my favorite neighborhood in Seoul!

Henry kept joking that I was going to leave him, and I was like, “Hahaha, yeah but seriously will you drive me to the cafe and stay in the area in case things go awry?” And on the way there, I was starting to feel a bit of nerves and said, “I wish that it was a girl I was meeting. I would feel more comfortable if it was a girl, and this would feel less like a blind date.”

“You’re so awkward around girls, though,” Henry pointed out, BUT STILL, HENRY.

We had set 2:00pm as the meet-up time, and the cafe was only open until 5. I told Henry that I highly doubted we’d be there the whole time, probably just an hour, so he said he wouldn’t go far.

Anyway, he dropped me off and when I walked into the cafe, the first thing I noted was that there was a Korean woman sitting alone at a table. We made eye contact, but I started looking around for a Korean man when I realized that she was starting to stand up.

“Erin?” she asked, and that is how I found out that—PLOT TWIST—Jiyong is a girl!

YOU GUYS, I FELT SUCH RELIEF.

Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details of me interrogating her about the ins and outs of her native language (thank god she came prepared with a notebook because we used the hell out of it), but it was a really great time and I felt like it was hopefully the start of a new friendship! She was really surprised at how much I knew about the culture, like certain TV shows, food, locations of Seoul, and I tried to shrug it off like it was just a casual thing and not because I’m a fucking crazy lady who gets Korean news alerts on her work computer and watches about 90% full-Korean television programming.

She did mention at one point that her name is commonly only used for boys (NO KIDDING!) but that her grandma really wanted a grandson and already had the name picked out! It’s a good, strong name, though, and I think it’s beautiful either way.

The cafe we chose for our meeting was Arriviste and I had the most spectacular honey latte which honestly was just the cherry on top at this point.

The next thing I knew, it was nearly 5 and I had missed a text from Henry that said, “I guess it’s going well…?” Apparently, he was sitting in the parked car, watching The S.H.I.E.L.D. for three hours, LOL.

Jiyong took this picture of us, with evidence in the background that we were actually doing language things, lol. Also, #MyFakeSmile

We already have plans to hang out again in two Saturdays! I may be a lost cause when it comes to speaking Korean at this point in my life, but I’m hoping that I can get to the point where she can talk to me in Korean and I can at least understand her enough to answer her in English. I’m like, learning disabled in my old age.

What a great weekend so far! Hope Game of Thrones doesn’t completely ruin it tonight, haha.

May 092019
 

I love it when there is an incredible comeback on days when I’m working from home because I can fucking blast that shit full volume on repeat all day and answer to NO ONE. (Except maybe our next door neighbors when I wake up the babies.)

Today, the Chinese subgroup of the NCT conglomerate—WayV—released the MV for their new comeback song and I would say “I’m here for it” but I was doing a PopSugar workout the other night and one of the background broads said that an estimated 58 times and it was nauseating so now I’m trying to completely freeze that out of my repertoire. But, you get the idea.

I was not prepared to like it as much as I do! Halfway through the first viewing, I was struck by the Arrow of Obsession. I don’t delve into other Asian pop very much; I recently tried to watch a Chinese drama and couldn’t get hooked and I honestly think it’s because the reason I’m so into Kpop and K-dramas is literally because my ears are embroiled in a steamy love affair with the Korean language. It’s a linguistic thing, you guys. But WayV…I don’t know, maybe it’s because I was already familiar with some of these members because of NCT, or maybe it’s just because SM Entertainment is really that masterful at churning out polished hits, but something about this collection of talent really grabs my attention and it suddenly doesn’t matter to me that they’re not singing in Korean. I do like how the Chinese language (I don’t know the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese, so I’m not sure which this is) has a lot of “sh” sounds since “x” is so predominant in their words….OK, sorry, I got carried away with typing out the conversation I was having with my other personality inside my head.

My WayV bias is Ten and he is NOT PLAYING AROUND in this song, you guys. My favorite part of his starts at 1:37 and I also love the dance breakdown later on! I AM SO ENTHRALLED WITH THIS VIDEO!

I was going to write something deep and meaningful on here today, but my one-track mind is occupied with a train to WayV Town, so maybe tomorrow. LOL j/k, I never have anything deep and meaningful to share on here. I’m all roller coasters and Korea. Byeeee.

May 012019
 

I didn’t realize as I was hypnotizing Chooch into thinking that going to King’s Island for his birthday was his own idea, but the last time I was there was when I was pregnant with him! I mean, I didn’t know it at the time because it was like, right at the beginning (Henry kept saying he was conceived at King’s Island and I was like, “Please don’t ruin amusement parks for him, he’s the only person who will ride on coasters with me, thanks.”), and actually my only memory of my one trip to King’s Island was frantically checking for menstrual tendrils in between every ride I went on (which wasn’t very many because it was crowded that day and we were with ex-BFF and her psycho sister who kept starting fights with people in line).

Oh! And seeing a vagina.

So that was memorable.

It’s curious to me why we even went to King’s Island that day because as I remember, I went through a pretty long phase where I had no interest in theme parks or parking lot carnivals anymore and had somewhere along the way developed a crippling fear of steel coasters. But I obviously worked through those issues because now I’m constantly planning the next theme park road trip.

I hate hate hate anytime we have to go near fugly Cincinnati, but the pull of King’s Island’s wooden coasters was just too strong. I had no recollection of riding the Beast (Henry swears we did, but it turns out we actually only rode the SON of Beast that day) so I was eager to sit my fat ass down on that one, and also their new GCI woodie, Mystic Timbers. I would say that if I had to specifically list my theme park kink, it would be wooden coasters. It was darkrides for a bit (especially darkride/coaster combos—LOVE THEM) but something went off inside me last year when Chooch and I rode the T-Express at Everland in South Korea, and no, not just because it was a roller coaster in Korea! It was, at that time, the best wooden coaster I had ever ridden. (Google it, you guys, it ranks up there among the best coasters in the world.)

But then later that summer, we went to Holiday World and that was when I imprinted on a roller coaster for the first time, the VOYAHHHHHGE. After that, we went back  to Knoebels in October where I quickly remembered why the Phoenix was once my favorite coaster (don’t let those small, rural parks fool you — Knoebels and Holiday World have WORLD CLASS WOODIES). But the icing on the 2018 Coaster Cake was our late-season trip to Dollywood where we rode the infamous Lightning Rod and yes, it lived up to the hype. It was at that point that I realized I had become a snob for the wood and ever since then, I have been chomping at the bit to get back out there and ride more.

So for Part 1 of my King’s Island recap, I’m going to just focus on just the Beast, because I have not been able to stop thinking about this gnarly wooden hunk ALL WEEK. OK, Henry, you’re right — this is getting scarily close to becoming a fetish.

Ideally, Beast would have been my first ride of the day but instead it was the second because we got lost (yes, even with a park map, which Chooch always snatches up immediately upon park entry) so we ended up riding Vortex first (it was pretty awful). Henry bitched out so Chooch and I got in line without him. We only had to wait for about 10 minutes and then the line splits so you have to choose front of the train or back. We chose the back but there was a ride attendant assigning seats and she put us at the beginning of the back section, so we were essentially in the middle of the train. It was fine but I do prefer parks that let you queue up where you want (unless it’s super crowded, which it definitely was not on the day we were there).

Anyway, after taking one ride on the Beast, I could easily confirm that I have never ridden it before because you better believe I would have remembered that! WOW, WHAT A RIDE! I love the wooden coasters that make you feel like you’re out of control and this was definitely that. And it had numerous tunnels, which make me so giddy—something about them makes me scream my face off even harder than I would generally.

The trim brakes were a little disappointing but I know that they’re needed so I tried not to be a big baby about them, but that second lift hill and everything that followed made me forget about that minor gripe.

We ran straight to Henry afterward and heckled him for being too scared to ride it and he was like I AM NOT SCARED, IT IS TOO EARLY AND I HAVE A HEADACHE.

Mmm, OK.

I think we rode this about 5 times that day. We went back later in the evening and BitchBoy Henry actually got in line with us and we were like OMG HE MUST HAVE CALLED CHEETAH GIRL* FOR COURAGE.

*(That’s the make-believe stripper we invented for Henry to date in our imaginations. Sometimes we crack each other up so much with our scenarios that we make ourselves vomit.)

Chooch and I snagged the backseat this time and then doubled over in a giggle-fit when some kid slid in the seat in front of us, next to Henry. The kid’s friends were sitting in the car in front of Henry, and they were all talking to him which was KILLING US because we couldn’t hear what they were saying, but Henry was all, “Hyuk hyuk” and trying to act like he was all tough and was probably thinking of a way to mention that he was in the SERVICE or, I don’t know, rode a skateboard once.

Oh, and did I mention it was also raining during this particular joyride into the woods? Getting sprinkled with wet cloud-darts while careening around break-neck bends is next-level exhilaration, my friends. Chooch and I were laughing so hard, because of the rain slapping us and also because Henry had new friends, that I worried I was giving myself internal bruising. Look, I don’t know what goes on in there, OK?!

Apparently, the people manning the photo stations at King’s Island give zero fucks when people take pictures of the screens with their phones, so I snapped this one of Henry and his new crew. (Chooch and I got cut out of the photo!?!?)

#brosbeforehoes #friendsforever

Chooch rode the Beast several more times once the sun set, once in the front seat while some girl elsewhere in the car shrieked, “I THINK I SHIT MY PANTS!!!!” over and over, and then, “I CAN FEEL IT RUNNING DOWN MY LEG!” and it was all fun and games until we rolled back into the brake run and then someone got annoyed and screamed, “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” and apparently the “I think I shit my pants” girl’s sister or friend was sitting in the seat behind us so she tool offense to this and started screaming “EAT MY ASS” and then it was just really awkward and everyone hated each other so that was fun.

Our very last ride on it was in the last seat and Chooch accidentally hit me in the face when we were barreling through one of the tunnels, and that’s how you know a coaster is great, when you leave the park with welts and bruises.

I really love this ride — it’s powerful and the ride time is beefy – 4:10 (granted, the two lift hills are included in that). For a brief moment, I started to fret that Beast had edged out THE VOYAHHHHHGE from the #1 spot in my heart, but at the end of the day, I think THE VOYAHHHHGE is safe, although I told Henry I’mma need to go back to Holiday World this weekend to ride it again and verify. Henry laughed but it was devoid of humor.

Anyway, that’s all for this installment. Unless you wanna read more about the aforementioned vaginas and periods? Then here, have a 2005 LiveJournal entry within a blog post!

While I would love to sit around the campfire with hot cocoa, recounting tales of all my favorite rides at King’s Island (Son of Beast was the most funnest you guys), all I can really remember amidst the whirlwind of clanging metal parts and side-stepping fresh gum in my path is one thing: checking for my period.

I came prepared. The arsenal of tampons was just short of being strapped to my body like dynamite—I had one waiting in each pocket of my cargo pants in addition to a surplus of “just in cases” in my purse. If I had worn boots, I would have tucked one or two in there, also…next to my switchblade. Which I don’t have yet, but someday. Someday.

“Check me! Do I have stainage?” These were my pleas to Henry, Christina and Cynthia every ten minutes while we were held hostage in one line after another. Oh, how I yearned to make fun of others in my proximity, but feared to in case Karma came back to paint a large blood target on my crotch.

I got lucky when we disembarked Flight of Fear, an indoor ride, as no one was around me. “Block me,” I whispered hoarsely to Christina as I leaned forward and spread the legs of my pants apart nice and wide, to inspect for wetness. Doing this while keeping a steady pace walking down a slanted corridor takes skills. Skills which I possess. I like to compare it to performing magic amidst a ring of fire.

But something good came out of my obsessive bathroom breaks–the highlight of my amusement park junket.

Picture it: You’ve just emerged from a stall with eyes raised to the Heavens (bathroom ceiling) above and are silently praising the Lord Almighty for no blood stains on your panties (if you’re a man, picture it anyway. It’ll help build character). As you’re washing your hands real good because this place is dirty (and if you had a more accelerated condition of OCD, you probably would be convulsing and foaming at the mouth by now), you start to panic as you wonder when your next chance will be to “check.” Everyone in your group groans as you drone on and on about your need to “check,” but you can’t shake the paranoia and obsessive need to make sure you’re not drizzling menstrual blood down your legs; the fabric of your cargo pants is thin and blood will seep right through in no time.

You slowly snake the paper towel around your wet hands, sopping up the water and looking at yourself in the mirror, wondering when you became so uptight about the small things. You contemplate telling Christina you want drugs (ask and she’ll do it) so you can relax and if you end up floating around town with curdled blood around your thighs, big deal; you’re too busy goo-goo’ing and ga-ga’ing at the giant unicorn smiling down at you from a cloud.

And then you start thinking about unicorn porn.

Wait, where were you? Bathroom, hands, drying. So, you turn to your left and casually pitch the paper towel into the large garbage can, when you happen to get a glimpse of something extraordinary. So extraordinary it snaps you back to the here and now. No more unicorn.

The bathroom stall directly in your line of vision is slightly ajar, with its occupant standing hunched over, jean shorts and white cotton underwear down around her knees. Before you even have a chance to scold yourself, your eyes slip down a few inches and that’s when you see it.

Your second real life vagina.

And you don’t mean in general, because hello porn, but this is your second OUT IN THE WILD vagina-spotting. You feel your friend Christina tugging on your arm and saying in a terse whisper, “Erin, let’s go. You’ve seen enough” but you can’t pull your eyes away from the hairy mound of flesh ten feet in front of you. Your body slightly lurches as you feel the giddiness building up and you’re ready to explode into a conniption of giggles. Christina steers you to the exit and you run and tell your friends what just happened, waving your hands like you’re approaching the climax of a jazz dance routine, and rubbing it in their astonished faces. “You don’t know what you just missed in there!” you say smugly, trying to catch your breath. You feel like you’re on a safari. Then you make them stand around, in the way of hundreds of fast-moving patrons and strollers, so you can point out the woman whose vagina you saw. They don’t really care but you make them wait anyway, and when she comes out of the restroom with her kids, you jump and point and they shrug and start walking away.

And that’s my big exciting highlight. It would have been cooler if she was being scalped or having her face painted at the same time I saw it, but what can you do.

My second favorite moment was eating at the Festhaus. I had pizza and fries, but not just any fries: Fries with a buffet of condiments. I derived great, some might even say ecstatic, amounts of pleasure by deliberating in which pool of sauce each fry would be taking a bath: would it be the succulent marriage of ketchup and mayo, the tiny basin of honey mustard, or the thick and rich vat of creamy nacho cheese? My companions had long since finished eating and sat around idly while I dined on one single fry after another. It was heaven.

Lately I’ve been really into dipping things.*

*(Editor’s Note: Yeah because I’d find out a week later that I was PREGNANT. #CondimentCravings #PeriodNeverCame)

Jan 132019
 

What’s up, Diva cups, I’m checking in to show you the new non compos cards Valentine set for 2019. I have had this collection on the back burner for a minute now and am so pleased to finally have finished it this weekend.

The Cure is my all-time favorite band, as in: cash in your savings account and fly to Australia to see them after they hastily announce that they’re not going to tour again after that but that was in 2000 and you have since seen them like 6 more times because Robert Smith lied but that’s ok!

True to form, this is a cringefest so get your groans ready.

The set contains 16 different mini-cards, just like the kinds we used to pass out in elementary school except much cooler because, you know, The Cure.

Henry was like I DON’T GET IT and I’ll tell you why – it’s because he’s not actually a “fan” of The Cure.

This set is now available in my shop and I am so happy about it! Part of me wants to track down all my old friends from the long defunct chatroom I used to frequent in 1998/1999 called Darkchat and send them all one of these cards (and by frequent I do mean I used to stay up until like 5am private messaging with all of my goth paramours). God, those were the days! Now when I tell people that The Cure is my favorite band, the general response, “I don’t know who that is.” Well, just break my goddamn heart.

I think this set goes wonderfully with all the serial killer ones, the vintage porn star collection, the Golden Girls series and of course all the Kpop varieties in my Hello Hanguk shop too! I’ll repost all of those ones throughout the week in case you missed them last year. I love Valentines so much!

Interested in purchasing a set of The Cure valentines for all the lovecats in your life? Click right here!

Jan 032019
 

The best part about the end of December is that all of the major Korean broadcast networks put on these huge televised “song festivals” where the biggest songs of the year are performed and some of the bigger Kpop agencies put on “special stages” full of collabs and mashups, medleys and rearrangements. It’s really fun and some of the stages are CRAZY. I wanted to share some of my favorites here because I’m excited about them OK and I was a big advocate of “show and tell”  in preschool. SO LET ME SHOW AND TELL.

OK, first up is the one I have gone back and watched the most because it’s nuts. It requires some background info for any non-kpop fan to fully appreciate: So, one of the big Kpop agencies, SM, did this really genius thing where they created something more than just a Kpop boy band. They put together a literal LEAGUE of talent called NCT which stands for Neo Culture Technology and the whole point is to have members from various cities around the world (for instance: Johnny is from Chicago and Mark is from Vancouver). NCT is then split up into sub-groups: NCT 127 (127 is the longitudinal coordinate of Seoul on a map); NCT U; NCT Dream; NCT 2018 (features all of the members); and the upcoming Chinese subgroup slated to debut this month, WayV. I know, it’s kind of a lot to absorb and even I don’t fully know all of the members. For instance, Mark just “graduated” from NCT Dream and I don’t know what that means!? And I also just learned that the members of NCT U change based on each concept. IT’S TOO MUCH. But I think you probably get the gist.

Now, knowing all of this, one of the big stages saw each NCT unit performing a snippet of a song before coming together as NCT 2018 for the final song. It was so powerful and exhausting to watch, especially because Mark (the Canadian!) is in each unit and had to run from each stage to join the next group. There are days when I come home from work and don’t want to do anything but lay on the couch, but then I think of the NCT boys and I’m like, “Fine, I’ll do an old person walking workout or something, ugh.”

My NCT bias Haechan was sadly missing from this performance because he’s recovering from an injury. :(

Related image

This next one doesn’t really need an explanation because Kai’s rose-in-teeth dance intro is um, more than enough:

Mino, a/k/a G-Dragon’s apprentice, has killer stage presence, and Winner as a whole always put on such fun and joyful stages – how can you not smile during this?! (Also, that’s my bias in the YouTube thumbnail for this, le sigh.)

Seulgi (Red Velvet) and Daehwi  (Wanna One) joined Sunmi for a collab of her song Heroine and I felt it:

I know, I know, where’s the BTS videos?! They were all over the end of the year shows, but what I really liked the most, even more than the medley of old songs they performed, was that they each did a portion of their solos. I really like when they get to shine as individuals because that’s when the casual observer can really understand why Kpop groups have so many members sometimes: everyone adds something to the mix! They are so talented on their own, and this really shows it:

(Not to sway your decision, but J-Hope’s and Jin’s solos are my favorites.)

However, while we were watching these over the weekend, I couldn’t help but feel that there was something lacking, and then of course I realized it was BIGBANG. Ugh, I hate this military hiatus! BTS might be the current kings of Kpop (well, let’s just call them the princes) and you guys know I love them a lot, but IN MY OPINION, they don’t have quite the effortless stage presence as BIGBANG. When I first started to poke around the rabbit hole of Kpop, I was instantly snatched by BIGBANG. I remember thinking, “Well, I like them but I probably won’t like, ever know their names or anything.” LOL flash forward to me watching video compilations of G-Dragon eating, learning Korean, and booking a flight to Korea. BIGBANG was my gateway drug, you guys, and I miss them so much that I will put on old videos of their music show performances and cry (I was doing that this morning, you can ask Henry).

Also, BIGBANG is UNDENIABLY the best-dressed group in all of Kpop Kingdom.

I miss you, GD.

Well, there you go. Some videos to distract you from work or whatever boring thing you’re doing right now (watching your kids?).

Dec 012018
 

Some people at work kept asking me if I’m a big Dolly Parton fan, because they couldn’t understand why else I would make my family travel 8 hours to go to an amusement park in Tennessee. So then I gave them a condensed version of the explanation I’m about to pour great detail into below, and they were just like, “….oh.”

I watch a lot of theme park vlogs because I am a huge dork cool person with lots of various interests.  My obsession with amusement parks typically shapes the way our vacations are planned, too, and watching these vlogs is how I knew that when we were in Korea, we had to take a bus to Everland and ride the T-Express. I have always loved wooden coasters, and over the years, I’ve realized that the steel coasters do less and less for me, and I will take a big thick woodie (lol) over a coaster with 78792837 inversions any day. But it wasn’t until I rode the T-Express that something REALLY clicked for me — it was the wildest wooden coaster I had ever ridden at that time. It holds the #1 position in Asia for a myriad of factors, and was once even the top dog in the whole world. It still ranks in the Top 10 for a lot of different factors* though and it ignited in me a fiery urge to seek out more like it.

*(Per Wiki, as of this writing, it’s the world’s ninth fastest, fourth tallest, and sixth longest wooden coaster.)

That’s where Dollywood comes in. In 2016, they debuted the world’s first ever LAUNCHED wooded coaster. It’s also, at the time of this writing, the world’s fastest wooden coaster. However, it’s been plagued with mechanical problems since it’s debut and was shut down for most of the 2016 season. This season wasn’t much better with reliability, and the theme park blogosphere was flooded with angry posts from coaster enthusiasts who had traveled just for a ride on the world’s most infamously finicky woodie.

I developed a major obsession over it and NEEDED to stuff my ass in a seat on that plighted coaster. I kept stalking it online, checking tags on Instagram, and grew cautiously optimistic when I saw that it had reopened in October, with some slight barely noticeable modifications, and that is when I settled on Dollywood for our Thanksgiving Theme Park getaway.

Henry was less sure about this and muttered, “If we drive 8 hours and that thing isn’t running…”

I mean, if a real life Wally World sitch is going to happen to anyone, it’d be us!

The other factor was weather. Look, Christmas lights are cool, but that’s not why I’m going to a theme park, OK. I want to ride the rides. And coasters usually won’t operate below 40 degrees. I obsessively checked the weather (I added Pigeon Forge to my weather app — I still have Seoul and Busan in there too, ouch my heart) numerous times a day like I have a meteorology fetish, and it was looking pretty fucking good – low 60s and rain. Of course, the rain part wasn’t preferable but I was OK with it.

But it ended up being BEAUTIFUL on Sunday! A high of 66 and partly sunny! I demanded that we leave the hotel before 10am and Henry was like, “WE ARE LITERALLY FIVE MINUTES AWAY FROM THE PARK AND IT DOESN’T OPEN UTIL 11!?” He knows better than to try and reason with me when a day of FUN is on the line, so we piled into the car and drove literally five minutes, no exaggeration, to the Dollywood entrance and the lot was open already so Henry sighed, paid the parking lady, and we set off for Parking Lot B for Butterfly.

Chooch was just so thrilled.

(He HATES butterflies, lol.)

“I don’t know why we’re in such a hurry, the park doesn’t even open until 11!” Henry muttered again, so I said we could just sit in the car until the BIGBANG song we were listening to was over. (“Cafe”, never forget.)

On the short walk to the park, Henry sarcastically said, “Yeah, better run. All these people and their walkers are going to get in line for Lightning Rod before you.”

I mean, he wasn’t wrong to be sarcastic. When we lined up at the gate, I did a precursory glance around me and it was pretty much 90% elderly people. This is how it was the last time we were there too! I guess Dollywood is well-known for having really great shows or something, and that brings all the olds to the yard.

While we were in line, two women behind us from Texas were freaking out about getting their show vouchers, and one of them was annoyed that the other made her get there so early. “Now we have to stand here for an hour!” she cried.

But then an old person with a good hearing aid piped up and said that the park actually opens at 10:30!! I looked at my phone and it was already 10:10! I started to get really excited but also nervous because I get really anxious when it comes to beating crowds. Again, Henry mumbled that he didn’t think I had anything to worry about.

Right before 10:30, some weird quartet came out and sang the Star Spangled Banner. Most everyone took their hats off but I purposely kept mine on because fuck patriotism. I looked around and some people were legit crying, lol.

“Dammit!” I said later to Henry. “I should have taken a knee!!”

“Yeah, you’re in Tennessee. Those people would have killed you,” Henry laughed, but I could see that he was relieved that my idea was belated.

Once the gates opened and we had our tickets checked, Chooch and I took off to the right while honest to god, a horde of octogenarians clanked and wheeled their way straight ahead to the theater to maul the workers for their show vouchers. It was a spectacle.

And then, a minute later (I knew exactly where it was because I studied a map at work last week) we made it to the Lightning Rod. The doors were still closed because none of the rides opened until 11, but there were only about 15 people in line ahead of us. I started to get a nervous stomach—what if it wasn’t running that day?! I couldn’t see a sign that said anything about it, but I was still nervous.

Once the super annoying teenaged trio in front of us left the line, the rest of the wait went by pretty quick. Halfway through, a test train was sent out and everyone cheered when they saw it. And then, at exactly 11AM, someone came out and opened the doors.

WE WERE IN!

We could have potentially gone on the first run of the day, but there were only two groups in the queue for the front row so I was like, “Fuck it, we’re waiting for the front row.” Who knew what the lines would be like later?! I wasn’t blowing this opportunity.

Of course, Henry had to ride by himself in the second row, though, lol. In the bitch seat.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous waiting in line for a woodie before. I was doing the pee-jig, for sure, and when it was our turn to load in, I honestly thought I was going to start crying. As the car pulled out of the station and turned right, and that fucking dominating lift hill loomed ahead, I started having major doubts about my choices. Especially knowing that the launch was going to happen at any second, with the sounds of revving engines surrounding us on both sides of the track.

And then it happened. We were launched up that hill, and I’ll tell you what — no amount of YouTube videos could have prepared me for just HOW FAST that car was going to shoot us up that lift hill. IT WAS, in a word, HORRIFIC. I didn’t have enough things to hold on to. I wanted my stuffed dog Purple. A rosary. A parachute. It was that scary. And then you come over the crest of that hill, down a short dip, and right back up and over another crest where you goddamn PLUMMET down into the abyss of Dollywood and everything after that is a blur. I couldn’t figure out if we were going left or right, if we were upside down, still alive…I had no idea.

By the time we got to the much-anticipated quadruple down portion of the ride, I had been screaming SO HARD that I was having actual chest pains and wasn’t sure if I had broken my collarbone from all the vocal exertion, and was that even possible?

When we rolled back into the station after the last mind-bending bank that makes no sense to me when I look at that portion of the track, I had to wipe the tears off my face. Sure, most of it was caused by the massive amount of cold wind that continuously cold-cocked me through the duration of the ride, but I’m not going to pretend that some of that orbital wetness wasn’t actual tears.

Short version? IT WAS AMAZING!!

It felt like being in a cartoon, in some high-speed chase that’s humanly impossible in real life, and you’re going from A to B by glitching. It was insanely fast, but not rough – I’ve seen people online complaining about the restraints or bumpiness in the backseat, but I personally did not experience any of that, and I was hashtag-blessed to ride it FOUR TIMES that day.

Throughout the day, we rode it in the 6th seat (though in line, we had a FRONT ROW seat for some weird family feud that was happening in front of us) and the 3rd seat, which were equally as fantastic, leading me to believe that there just isn’t a bad seat on this ride.

Stoked for Lightning Rod! I asked him if he had anything to say for this blog review, and he started singing Papa Roach’s “Last Resort,” which is what he did on every roller coaster that day at Dollywood and it was infuriating because ew, Papa Roach, but also hilarious because how random.

Toward the end of the night, we wanted to ride it one last time but we got coaster-blocked by the dumb parade, ughhh. There was absolutely no way around it and no other way to get to the Lightning Rod without having to actually cut through the parade and I had a feeling that Henry would probably go out of his way to prevent us from doing that. So we had to wait “patiently” for it to end and Henry was like THERE IS NO TIME. THE PARK IS GOING TO CLOSE. YOU WILL NEVER MAKE IT but I guess Henry has never heard the saying, “WHERE THERE’S A WILL THERE IS A WAY.”

It’s a shame that I don’t live by that when it comes to other things in life, like I don’t know, a career.

When the parade ended, the crowd dispersed alright, but they were all flooded right in our direction, so now we were fighting our way upstream past all these Old Folks, but it was worth it because we fucking made it and there was hardly ANYONE in line! We ran straight for the back row, with only two sets of riders in front of us. I was so excited! Back row at night, it was going to be awesome!

After about 10 minutes, it was our turn. As soon as everyone boarded and the restraints came down, the ride attendant who was checking my restraint gave a thumbs down. Apparently, the red lights were going off, which meant that it was in need of a maintenance check. The ride operators didn’t seem too concerned about this, but still, everyone had to get out of the car and go back into the queue. They said there was no way of knowing how long it would take, and that we were welcome to stay in line. Most everyone opted to stay, and it was kind of exciting watching the maintenance men come off the elevator, like the Men In Black, and I was trying not to crack up because it’s probably the only time in their lives they looked cool.

Meanwhile, the ride attendant on our side of the car, a young guy named Kenneth, was SO NICE to us. He made casual small talk and asked Chooch and me if we wanted him to turn on the heat lamp. He said he just wanted to make sure we were comfortable!

Like, the legit embodiment of southern hospitality.

Look, if that’s me, and I’m standing there in a ride station in a theme park that’s due to close in 5 minutes and now I have to stand here even longer waiting for the maintenance men to fiddle around and make it go again, because we told these park attendees that they could stay in line, I would be huffing and puffing and fucking my life, you know?

But, after about 10 minutes and two test runs (one with a Dollywood worker who volunteered as tribune — Chooch said, “Let’s applaud if she comes back on it” and I was like I HOPE SHE COMES BACK ON IT!!), we were good to go! I was fucking scared to ride it after that, but I did it and it was the best ride of the day. We could even see the pretty lights of Dollywood for a split second but then I nearly whiplash when Lightning Rod yanked me in another ungodly direction.

(“Look at the pretty li—AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH@@#$$%%#$!!!” was all I was able to scream.)

Oh for God’s sake, that ride. THAT RIDE! Chooch and I were doubled over in laughter when we reunited with Henry on terra firma. It’s just that good.

***

I don’t know what it was about Kenneth, maybe the fact that I’m used to the teenagers at Kennywood not giving a fuck about anything, but it really stuck with me, so much that when I went back to work on Tuesday, I thought to myself, “I have to do something about this” so I went to Dollywood’s website and did the OPPOSITE of what I’m used to doing: I opened the contact form and tap-tap-tapped out a POLITE COMMENT, completely devoid of swears and threats, to let them know that Kenneth’s kindness really went a long way, especially since we were kind of freaking out about the fact that the ride went out of commission while we were sitting in it. He assured me that this was normal and that the only surprising part was that it had lasted all day up until then without this happening.

The next day, I received a response from some broad named Paula who does something at Dollywood! She said that she was so pleased to read my nice comments and shared them immediately with Kenneth’s supervisor, and that they have an internal employee recognition program that his name has been added to! IS THIS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE HUMAN?! I texted Henry and said, “I’m a nice person now!” and he was like, “LOL no your (sic) not.”

He didn’t care, but my co-workers did! (OK, Lauren did. Glenn was just like, “Why are you like this.”) The best part was the NEXT day when I was watching Lightning Rod videos like the completely normal person that I am, I noticed that KENNETH IS IN ONE OF THEM! I screenshot it and sent it to Lauren who was like, “Wow, look at him pressing that button! *swoon*” Lol. I also sent it to Henry who said nothing.

I was going to talk about this in a meeting on Thursday, but instead I said to myself, “Reel it in, Erin.”

I added all that stuff to the picture, in case you didn’t know. Lol.

This ride was 100% worth traveling for. I was so worried I had it over-hyped in my head, but no. It’s the real deal, man. Dollywood is officially on the map!

And for anyone reading this who might be interested, here’s a Lighting Rod front seat POV video:

Oct 192018
 

I had a different post in mind for today but then my cat Drew and I just spent the last hour being terrorized by a thousand-legger / whatever those quick-moving basement bugs are called, and I am honestly afraid to take my eyes off the floor for very long because WE LOST SIGHT OF IT AND IF IT CRAWLS ON ME I WILL HAVE TO SET MYSELF ALIGHT. It ran across Drew’s back leg at one point she nearly jumped through the ceiling while I screamed like I was in the ultimate haunted house, and Penelope slept through it all.

OMFG WHY DID I JUST GOOGLE-IMAGE THOUSAND LEGGER NOW I’M CONVINCED I HAVE 78 OF THEM CRAWLING ON ME, POINT ME TO THE NEAREST GASOLINE CAN, I’M TOAST.

I mean, what I came here to say is: here is another Halloween costume memory. This one is from 2016 when Chooch had the brilliant-to-him idea of being a bullet with butterfly wings, a la Smashing Pumpkins, and pretty much no one got it, just like the year before.

Enjoyyyyyy! I’ll just be over here holding a blow torch and flipping over furniture until I find that fucker, otherwise I will never be able to sit down on my couch again, OMG CHILLS.

*****************************

I can’t remember the exact moment that Chooch’s costume lightbulb went on above his brainy head, but it was definitely fairly soon after Halloween 2015. He was going through a Smashing Pumpkins phase, and casually decided that he was going to be a bullet with butterfly wings for Halloween.

At first, I laughed really hard and gave it my Great Costume stamp of approval. Also, what a novel concept – knowing what he was going to be with ample time to construct the costume. Had this ever happened before?!

NO.

But then reality set in and I remembered that perhaps not many people would understand it, you know, since it’s not 1995/1996. So Henry and I tried to subtly change his mind, and really—how shitty of us. I’m glad that Chooch was committed to his idea and didn’t let us sway him.

Flash forward 8 months. It’s a week before Halloween and Henry still hasn’t started working on the bullet. I kept saying things like, “This isn’t going to be finished in time, is it?” to which his response was supposed to be, “OF COURSE IT WILL BE, ERIN!” and not, “I don’t know. Maybe not.”

Spoiler alert: Henry worked a miracle and got it done! At the last minute though, he scrapped the paper mache bullet tip he made because it looked too dildo-esque, and instead opted for a large balloon (the punching kind) which he spray-painted silver. It looked much better!

We waited until the day before to get the wings. We try to be as DIY as possible when it comes to costumes, but I was willing to splurge on the wings because I just wanted this to be done. So we went to Party City after Chooch’s piano lesson on Sunday.

SIDE STORY, unrelated to Halloween:

For as long as I can remember, I do this thing where I walk into a store or restaurant ahead of Henry and pull the door shut on him. It’s like my thing, and it pisses him off so much.

And our visit to Party City was no different. I walked in ahead of him and, without so much as a glance behind my shoulder, I shoved the door shut behind me. I mean full-force, as aggressively as possible, I gave that fucking door a Hulk slam.

I heard Henry say, “Erin!” but it sounded further away than it should have. So I slowly turned around and realized that there was a small woman behind me, looking totally stunned from having a GLASS DOOR SLAMMED SHUT ON HER. Fucking Henry had let her go ahead of him and then stood back to see how it would play out, what a motherfucker!

So then I was put in this terrible social situation where I had to profusely apologize to a stranger while trying to explain to her why that happened, how it’s just what I do, until I heard the words I was saying and realized I was making it so much worse.

SO MUCH WORSE.

Oh, Henry loved every moment of it.

I mean, it was bound to happen eventually.

Anyway, Chooch got his wings but not the pair I wanted him to get but whatever, DON’T LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.

****

This year was Chooch’s last Halloween parade at school. I was kind of sad about it, but it isn’t how it was when I was a kid. The classroom parties aren’t shit because there are so many restrictions, and so many costumes are against school policy. So basically the parents gather around outside the school just to watch a 15 minute parade, where only some of the students are in costume because HALLOWEEN IS DYING, ISN’T IT?? Oh I just can’t stand it.

But, speaking of school policy, Chooch could 100% not dress up as a bullet at school. I mean, I didn’t need the rules and regulations paper that was sent home last week to remind me of that. So in my effort to find him an alternative costume that still involved his wings (they were $20 and I intended on getting as much use out of them as possible!), I found this lame social butterfly get-up, which I’m sure has been done to death at hipster Halloween parties, but it was a hit with the elementary set.

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So easy! And I can say that because I threw a huge temper tantrum Sunday night and went to bed at 8:30 on purpose so that Henry had to print all of the social media icons out, LOL I win.

Chooch loved it! Especially when he got to rip the musically icon off his shirt afterward and give it to his crush. Ugh.

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Meanwhile, this just served as yet another reminder that I will never fit in with other parents.

Oh! AND I GOT TO SEE HOT GYM TEACHER. Totally worth rubbing elbows with basic moms.

****

Later that evening, Henry came home from work and finally finished the damn bullet costume. I’m not exaggerating – it was 5 minutes to trick or treat o’clock and Henry was hot gluing one last thing to it.  Fucking amazing.

Originally, Chooch and Dimajio were going to go together but then Dimajio had to go over his cousin’s or something, I don’t know. I don’t keep track of kids. It was just as well, because Henry and I had to tag along with Chooch anyway because he can never Chooch a costume that doesn’t require handlers. We had to tie his shoes, make sure he didn’t fall down steps, get candy for him if it was in a bowl on the ground which required him to bend, fluff his wings, make sure he didn’t bust the balloon-top of the bullet….

It’s a tiring, thankless job.

It always puts us in the SMALL TALK crosshairs with other adults! That’s my least favorite part!

After a quick photo with the neighbor kid, we tentatively made our way down the street. I kept hissing things like, “This was a terrible idea” and “We should just go back to the house and he can wear the pig mask instead, we’ll think of something.” I was just so worried that he would get made fun of or just be completely disappointed that no one understood his costume.

But Henry assured me it would be fine and to stop whining before I gave Chooch a complex.

And it was fine! Papa H Knows Best, everyone! He didn’t get made fun of at all, and there were actually A LOT of adults who were like, “OH I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.”

It helped that he was also wearing a Smashing Pumpkins shirt and was carrying a portable speaker that was playing the song on a loop.

Even one of my mom nemeses started cracking up and said, “I get it. I love it.”

So he was pretty damn proud of himself.


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One guy was like, “Let me guess….Iron Butterfly?”

“Close! It’s a music reference but you got the wrong band,” Henry laughed.

This was actually a fun game! We were like a traveling quiz show.

“He’s a bullet….but I don’t know what the wings are for!” one old lady grunted to another old lady after Chooch left their porch, and I just started cracking up.

People were actually excited for him to finally get to their house so they could try to guess what he was supposed to be! “These are the best kinds of costumes,” one lady said in between sips of beer. “We want to have to figure it out!”

At one house, I told the people that we had tried to talk him out of this costume idea but he was insistent.

“Well, good for you!” the one mom said to Chooch. And she’s right—good for him! I never would have had the confidence to pull something like that off when I was his age, no matter how badly I wanted it. Chooch is my fucking role model.

He got a few people who said “this is the best costume I’ve seen tonight” and one guy gave him a knowing nod and declared Chooch the winner of Halloween.

I’m pretty proud of him for coming up with this and sticking with it. Even though we had to constantly adjust his wings and do damage control. Perhaps Henry could have SPENT MORE TIME working on the LOGISTICS of the damn bullet.

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A photo of Henry making sure Chooch doesn’t perish inside his bullet. 

But….next year, I’m handing him scissors and a sheet and telling him to go to fucking town.

************

We walked down the street to Eat n Park afterward for dinner*. “I Missed Again” by Phil Collins was playing, so of course I had to loudly announce this, as is my forever-custom when I walk into an establishment that’s full of the sweet note-blossoms that churns forth from Sir Collins candied-throat.

“Oooh! I should go as a Phil Collins song next year! ‘In the Air Tonight’ maybe?!” Chooch shouted excitedly, to which Henry and I were like:

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*(And yes, I pulled the door shut on Henry when we walked in. “You’ll never learn your lesson,” he sighed.)

Oct 082018
 

Today’s costume flashback is brought to you by the victory I received over the weekend when Henry caved and said, “FINE WE CAN  GO TO KNOEBELS FOR THEIR STUPID HALLOWEEN THING.” It’s from 2014, which was probably the most stress-free Halloween that Henry and I had ever since bringing Chooch onto the scene.

Here you go!

**********

Standing in line for Flying Turns at Knoebel’s two weeks ago, Chooch spotted a kid at the front of the line, wearing a bacon costume.

“Wouldn’t it be funny if his name was Kevin?” Chooch asked, laughing. “And he’s wearing a BACON costume?” He was beside himself with laughter at this point. “GET IT, MOMMY? KEVIN…BACON!?”

YES I GET IT! GOD.

He watched Footloose once last year so obviously Mr. Bacon has been on Chooch’s radar ever since. I mean, it’s Kevin-fucking-Bacon.

In fact, earlier that same day, as Henry was driving around the town of Danville, PA in circles, Chooch piped up from the backseat, “Don’t Kevin Bacon your way around.” It makes less and less sense the more you think about it, but goddamn did we laugh at the time!

And then, after seeing the bacon kid at Knoebel’s, Chooch said that’s what he wanted to be for Halloween: a bacon suit with a Hello My Name Is: Kevin name tag. You guys. Finally. A simple goddamn Halloween costume. With two weeks to go! No makeup needed! No DIY crossbows or cardboard boxes to turn to mush in the rain! No ONELASTTHING that has one of us running to CVS 15 minutes before trick-or-treating begins.

Last weekend, we went to the Halloween store and bought the bacon costume. I had no problem spending $30 on it because even though it seems like we’re being so economical with all of our DIY costumes of Halloween-past, all the bits and pieces that we have to collect from Goodwill and eBay add up, not to mention the stress of putting it all together. But the best part was the Chooch was so excited and proud of this costume! I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he’s not the first person to do this. But he might be the first 8-year-old to come up with the idea on his own!

**********

Halloween was a wet mess. It started raining late-morning and basically never let up, so the parade at Chooch’s school was moved to the gym. At first I was really pissed off about the parade in general because Henry kept saying he would probably be able to make it but of course at the last minute, his mistress showed up a truck driver showed up at work, so he couldn’t leave in time to make the parade. But then when I got to the school, I quickly forgot about being mad because THE GYM TEACHER WAS THERE AND I AM SO HOT FOR THAT GUY! So instead of sending Henry death-threats via text, I occupied myself with taking stealth-shots of my gym teacher crush while Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” played on a loop in my slutty head.

Don’t worry! There was still room for me to judge 3/4 of the parents in the room.

The parade only lasted about 15 minutes. Once the adults realized Chooch’s entire costume, there was a ton of snickering and he seemed pleased. I figured most people assumed this was a costume that his bossy parents forced on him.

“None of your friends are going to get it,” I told him the other day.

“No…but the teachers will,” he shrugged. Because that’s all he cares about: impressing grown-ups.

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***********

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It was still raining by the time trick-or-treating started and I was completely upset about it. Chooch didn’t give a fuck, but I was all, “HALLOWEEN IS RUINED! AGAIN! WAHHHH!” But really it was because I was mad that I had half-assed a baby doll costume (I was wearing a donuts-in-space baby doll dress, even) and then had to cover everything up with a rainjacket, ugh. I hate everything!

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Anyway. We wound up going around the neighborhood with our neighbor Sam and her son, Markie. Markie is kind of like the little brother that Chooch always says he wants until he spends too much time with Markie and then he turns into a little jerk-bully and it is so infuriating. I hate kids with superiority complexes and Chooch definitely has one that rears its head every now and then. I spent most of the time saying things like, “CAN’T YOU JUST BE NICE?! WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT TO MARKIE? STOP BEING A JERK.”

Ugh.

Stop making me be a MOM on HALLOWEEN.

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Henry was absolutely no help whatsoever.

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Markie’s mom has trick-or-treating on LOCK. She would quickly point out if they missed a house or if they only took one when the sign said TAKE TWO and she was on top of things when it came to crossing the street. Have you seen me cross the street? Thank god for Markie’s mom.

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A few Halloweens ago, Chooch completely bit it down a set of stairs not unlike these ones. And this year, he was practically making the trek in a DRESS. He did fall once, not down any steps at least, and Markie’s mom was on top of it. That’s just one of the reasons why everyone assumed she was my kid’s mom that night.

Sigh.

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AFTER THIS HOUSE GO TO THAT HOUSE. DON’T WALK THROUGH THEIR YARD! YOU MISSED THAT HOUSE! THE LIGHT IS OFF BUT THERE IS A BOWL ON THE PORCH!!!!

Ah, the sounds of hyper-bossy trick-or-treating parents. They should have their own show on TLC.

And I thought Henry was a candy-fetching militant.

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Seriously, Chooch’s costume. It’s like a breakfast gown. I had the ingenious foresight to pin it up, but that brilliant mom-idea came the day before, so by Halloween, I had forgotten to do it. But still, people freaked out over his costume. One lady even asked to take his picture. I was happy to stand in the background and not take any credit. This was all Chooch and I let him have it all. (There were times when people would laugh and say to each other, “Oh, he’s bacon, how cute” and, after fisting their candy bowl, he would snap, “I’m KEVIN Bacon” and then sauntered away while they let that sink in.

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Toward the end of the night, we parted ways with the neighbors, and if there was a house Chooch felt like skipping, we let him skip the everloving FUCK out of it. It was cold and wet and we wanted to go home and eat candy, you know? Leave us alone.

Sep 272018
 

Hi guys! I’ve been thinking a lot about the fast-rising popularity of BTS over here in America and while I am of course super stoked for them (and also 3 parts smug that something I have been trying to get my friends into has broken into the mainstream *blows on nails like it was all my doing* haha), I thought this would be a great opportunity to promote some of the other just-as-lovely Kpop boy bands that are working their asses off to bring us the quality bops & jams, daydream fodder, and music video masterpieces. (In Kpop land, we just call those MVs. Look, I taught you something!)

I have probably pimped a lot of these boys out on here over the last two years, but it’s always worth a revisit! I’m going to include two videos for each group and that’s not necessarily to say they’re my favorites, but mainly just the ones that I think would be a good introduction. Just be prepared to fall down the rabbit hole, and if you’re an obsessive personality like me, you’ll come out the other side straight into Korea. Aigoo.

(If you’re already a Kpop fan and don’t see your fave groups here, don’t kill me! There’s a ton more I wanted to include but then we’d be here all day and night!)

  1. EXO

These guys are arguably the biggest group in Korea at the moment, yes some would say even bigger and more well-loved than BTS, and this is all without having a single comeback since last summer. No, I mean LAST summer. 2017. Their fans are loyal AF! They’re constantly getting compared to BTS though and maybe it’s just because both groups debuted within a year of each other, but I really think that it’s apples and oranges. EXO can come off having a more late-90s R&B vibe, which really appeals to me. For starters, let’s listen to Ko Ko Bop and a live performance of The Eve so you can get a better feel for their beautiful choreo:

EXO is rumored to be working on a comeback here soon and I know at least one of my friends is chomping at the bit over this! It’s been a long time coming, so it should be exciting!

2. BIGBANG

So if EXO is arguably the biggest group in Korea, then BIGBANG takes the crown for Kings of Asia. You guys know that this is my ultimate #1, my hard stan of all stans, and that their leader G-Dragon is my forever-bias, so you might already know some of their music! BIGBANG had their last comeback toward the end of 2016, and then one of their members, TOP, enlisted in the military soon after. Three more enlisted last winter, and a single was released shortly after, which dominated every chart without a single ounce of promotions – that’s the power of BIGBANG. They still have one member left to enlist, their maknae Seungri, so we probably won’t see a BIGBANG comeback until 2020 (tears just spontaneously sprung from my eyes), but luckily YouTube is a freaking vault of BIGBANG history so maybe take a day off and dive in? That’s just my suggestion. I’ll even write you a doctor’s excuse.

OK, let’s start with my favorite video. I love the colors, the clothes, and of course the song. I think it’s the most easily-accessible one too, for anyone not familiar with Kpop. This was one of the few that all my co-workers all agreed was “surprisingly OK.” That’s practically a gold stamp!

Fun fact: I couldn’t read Korean yet when this video first came out, and then a long time later, I learned that each of their names is hidden in the background of certain scenes, and it was one of the best, most satisfying feelings when I went back and was able to read it!

This next BIGBANG video is maybe their most popular one? I’m not a big statistic person, so I’m just making shit up as I go along, but let’s just say my words are loosely-based on half-assed google searches. Anyway, this was the first BIGBANG song I ever heard, without realizing it was going to someday change (wreck?) my life, back when I first got into KpopX Fitness in 2015. I almost passed out after that workout video!

OK, if I don’t give myself a two-video limit, I’ll end up just posting their entire video collection here and you don’t want that – OR DO YOU.

3. SHINee

My #2 group! SHINee makes my heart go so soft, and now I’m tearing up just thinking about how much I treasure them. It’s also hard to find the words, and I think I’m going to break my rule and post more than just two videos for them because they’re worth it, and they’re worth your time. I promise! My #2 bias is the maknae (youngest) of this group, beautiful, precious Taemin. SHINee makes me so happy and sad all at once, because I can’t listen to them, think of them, see pictures of them, without thinking of Jonghyun, their member who took his life last December. I have never been that affected by a celebrity death before and it has been a rough time. So I want to include some videos from when they were five members, and then one from now, when they’re four +1 in spirit. Because they’ll always be five.

Let’s start with their debut video! There is this one recent live performance of Replay where Jonghyun is straight sobbing uncontrollably and this song never made me feel sad until I saw that. So now I sometimes have to skip it when it comes up on my playlist. :(

Taemin was like 15 there!

And this is one of my all-time SHINee favorites; it has such a mature sound and they all look so beautiful:

And because I love their live performances so much, here’s a recent one for a single of their first comeback as a four-member group (I can’t imagine the strength and courage that took):

I watched all of their comeback performances for this song constantly for weeks last June and it 100% brainwashed Chooch, who would walk around the house mindlessly humming it and probably had his dreams soundtracked to it, too.

Their leader, Onew, will be enlisting in the military very soon, so I feel very blessed that they treated us to so many MVs and promotions this year. Long live SHINee. <3 (You can tell me if you don’t like anything on this list today but NOT IF IT’S SHINEE because I am super protective of them and I’ll likely take out my anger on Henry SO THINK OF HENRY.)

OK FINE here’s a bonus Jonghyun solo video:

Ugh, the talent. </3

Please support SHINee. They have given so much of themselves to us.

4. Got7

SUPER UNDERRATED in my opinion, you guys. This boy group is so much fun to watch and they are just consistently great. They’re Chooch’s favorite Kpop group (Bam Bam is his bias) so he’s been pretty happy these last two weeks because they just had a comeback with Lullaby! Also, if you’re into fun facts about members, they’re a multi-ethnic group which I think is so cool because diversity: Mark is Taiwanese but from the US, Bam Bam is Thai, and Jackson is from Hong Kong. You’d have to ask Chooch if you want more facts about them, but I’ll tell you that my Got7 bias is Youngjae.

We’ll start with Hajima, because that’s the first Got7 song I ever heard (yes, courtesy of KpopX Fitness, thank you!) and it definitely stuck with me. Also, listening to this song now makes me realize that I have somehow learned more Korean than I thought?! And here’s one of those complimentary fun facts: the girl in the beginning of this video is Dahyun from Twice (I love her):

“Hajima” was one of the first Korean words I learned (after oppa, probably, lol) and I love to scream it at the cats.

And here’s their newest MV for Lullaby – look how much they’ve grown! I think the choreo is so tight for this song (if that’s your jam, check out one of their music show performances for all of it!) (Also, that’s my bias in the green pants lol.)

5. Pentagon

It was hard for me to choose a #5 because there are so many incredible and deserving groups out there right now – like Astro, who I will be seeing this Sunday but I just shared several of their videos last week so I figured I would give this spot to another group. I went with Pentagon because they need all the support they can get right now. I mentioned this on here recently, but one of the members, E’Dawn, has been essentially removed from the group after admitting that he’s been dating Hyuna, a solo artist from the same agency. It’s a major Korean scandal, yo. And other one of their members, Yanan, has been sitting out recent promotions due to health issues, so they just had their comeback as an 8-member group and it breaks my heart. These guys have such quirkiness, so much palpable energy, and loads of talent (they write their own songs, Kpop isn’t always that mass-produced hit-factory that it’s often mistaken for).

I’m gonna give you guys three Pentagon vids too because over here at Oh Honestly, Erin, we be makin’ rules just to break ’em. First up is “Shine” and if you don’t immediately smile when this one starts, then congratulations, you’re dead. (E’Dawn is the very first one shown, in case you were wondering. And yes, he’s my Pentagon bias. #GDragonVibes)

Isn’t this just one of the most joyful things you’ve ever witnessed? Chooch and I were screaming our faces off for them at KCON last June.

This next song came out a year ago and went largely unnoticed which is insane to me because the MV is dreamy and the song is strong as fuck.

Lastly, here’s a live performance of their latest E’Dawn-less and Yanan-less song, Naughty Boy. (There is a really great explanation video for this song by one of my favorite YouTube channels, DKDK, and I highly recommend it if you’re interested in learning about the creative word-play that obviously falls short on us English speakers and some insight on how Korean culture and social issues inspired the meaning behind this song, because it’s way deeper than just a quirky bop.)

Please support Pentagon! Watch their videos on YouTube, buy their albums, listen to them on Spotify – just give them your love! They’re going through some shit right now.

Honorary mentions: IKON, Ace, NCT (there are various subgroups for this one and they are all worthy of your ears!), Stray Kids, Monsta X, Seventeen and SF9.

****

And there we go, something to hopefully help you get through a boring work day, some new jams for  your workout playlist, or just some overall intensely sugared eye candy! If you found something you like, let me know! And let me know if you like these kinds of music round-up posts and I will try to do them once or twice a month!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and scream in a pillow because we’re seeing BTS on Saturday and I’m just ready for this. I’M NOT READY!

Sep 252018
 

Like pretty much everyone in  this country it seems, I have been interested in true crime for as long as I can remember. But my first true “killer” love was Lizzie Borden. I mean, her story had it all: the Victorian setting, the gruesome crime scenes, the mystery and intrigue, the…pears.

One of the greatest things Henry ever did for me was take me to Fall River, Massachusetts for my birthday in 2003 and we stayed overnight at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast. It was…SO FUCKING SCARY.  I mean, nothing obtusely paranormal happened to us, but aside from the summer caretaker (Mike, whom I learned several years ago perished in a house fire!!) we were the only guests there on that hot summer night.

It was one of the coolest experiences, even though this was back when Henry and I fought constantly because he was trying to hard to domesticate me.

Years later, we went back with Chooch. We didn’t stay overnight, but we did take a tour and visit the cemetery. Chooch was super interested and well-behaved during the whole tour so I was like TAKE THAT to the people on the tour with us who silently judged our decision to bring our  7-year-old but joke’s on them because he’s an ax-murderer too.

LOL sike j/k.

Recreating the crime scene.

So all of this is a big lead-in for my new serial killer birthday card! I know, I know, Lizzie isn’t exactly a serial killer, but she’s definitely an American horror icon so I do tend to include her occasionally in my cards. I felt it was fitting to have her play the role of the matriarch at the kid’s birthday party in my latest card, though, and I am so giddy about it! I think that this is my current favorite design in the non compos collection and I hope that my customers love it as much as I do.

The gang’s all here waiting for Lizzie to serve them up a scoop of sherbet! Can you name them all?

I felt that the image on this card was good enough and didn’t need to be cluttered with text, so I stuck with a simple “Happy Birthday” and then a short sentiment on the inside.

Serve this sucker up to your favorite murderino on their next birthday!

Or if you know someone who is just strictly a Lizzie lover, might you consider this festive design?

It’s a little known, oft-glossed over fact that Lizzie Borden was a gold medalist in the Fall River Birthday Cake Cutting Olympics. Funny how no one cared about her deft, hatchet-wielding prowess until she advanced from cakes to craniums.

Now we can help teach the world about Lizzie’s non-murderous talents, one birthday card at a time. THANK GOD.

This educational card comes with an envelope, because the last time I tried to mail something in an eggshell, it never made it.

(This is not true. I feel obliged to clarify because the last time I posted this on the socials, someone asked if it was true. I mean, maybe? But probably not  because I’m pretty sure I just cooked it up in my head because I have lots of empty space up there.)

The card has an inside and this is it.

I also have these fancy and sophisticated Lizzie note cards, the first note card set I ever offered in my shop! These are great for when you feel like practicing your calligraphy or owe your death row pen pal a letter but ran out of sheaths of the pig skin you would normally use.

“Pig.”

And I’ll leave you with this vintage snap of Henry reenacting the Borden crime scene during our overnight stay – look at him, still swathed in nondescript duds even back in 2003!

OK guys, this has been my Lizzie Borden interlude. Carry on.

Sep 112018
 

Hi hello. I want to be positive and spread joy today instead of succumbing to the sad Eeyore in my head, so here I am to ply you with some Taemin eye candy because SHINee just released a new music video yesterday, and I have already watched it 974932074 times and now you should too.

I love SHINee, all of the members….but Taemin, good god. His voice comes out like a warm blanket on a cold day (or, in a cold office, which is where I am now, with a blanket across my lap) and it brings me so much joy. I remember a long time watching an Eat Your Kimchi video where Martina referred to him as the G-Dragon of SHINee, or something to that effect, and I didn’t really get it then because I was thinking more comparatively and it didn’t make sense since they are VERY different artists; but over time, it kind of fell into place and I get it now. There are so many places his charisma can take him.

When he’s holding those flowers at the end, OMG, I just want to open a door and see him standing there, ugh.

The other night on Instagram, one of the Taemin fan accounts posted that someone was selling their “standing room” ticket for Taemin’s performance at Music Bank in Germany and I had a full-blown moral altercation with myself and had to physically grab my hand to stop from typing in “I WILL TAKE IT WHAT IS YOUR PAYPAL ADDRESS.” I reminded myself that I have a family that would probably not be happy about going without food for the next month, ugh fuck you, family.

Remember when I wasted like 8 years of my life fan-girling over unworthy Jonny Craig when G-Dragon and Taemin were out there all along? Ugh, to get that time back!

Here’s a picture of my cat Drew and me getting our morning dose of Taemin:

Wow, thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Image result for taemin countless video images

Aug 082018
 

For the last year or so I have felt like such a jerk every time I grab a straw at a cafe because I kept meaning to buy reusable straws – we always mean to do good things, don’t we? And even though the straw ban hasn’t fully hit Pittsburgh yet, I finally got off my ass and ordered a pack of reusables from Amazon. And by that I mean I complained to Henry about how we need to make a lifestyle change and then he bought some. He ended up getting the hard plastic ones and not the stainless steel which I was thankful for because I’m not sure how I feel about stainless steel straws and just thinking about one in my mouth makes me taste pennies.

YES, I KNOW PENNIES ARE COPPER, GOD!

The straws arrived over the weekend and I was so excited! Except that Henry apparently had only bought them for my use and had secretly planned to keep using throw-aways this whole time because fuck the environment, kill the sea turtles, right Hank?

Au contraire!

When we left the house on Sunday to go shopping, I realized after we got about a mile from home that we were probably going to stop for iced tea/coffee at some point because that’s usually what happens when you live on the edge like we do, so I screamed, “WE FORGOT TO BRING STRAWS!” to which Henry calmly replied, “Oh well, we’ll just start another day, I guess” and I was like, “THE FUCK WE WILL, TURN THIS BITCHIN’ CAR AROUND.”

And he did. And I ran in the house and got two straws for the road.

As expected, we stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts after he flirted with all the old lady cashiers at the craft store (they all know him in there because he’s there so often buying supplies for our greeting card line, if they only knew what we were actually doing* with all that cardstock, OH HA HA HA!).

*(Plaster it with the faces of serial killers and porn stars, natch.)

While Henry was placing our order through the drive-thru speaker, I kept hissing, “Tell them not to give us straws” but he refused. So then I was like, “OK well tell them at the window that we don’t need straws.”

And what did he do?

HE TOOK THE STRAWS FROM THE BROAD WHEN SHE HANDED THEM TO HIM.

“WE DON’T NEED THESE!!!!” I shouted, and I do mean motherfucking hollered, to the shock and horror of both Henry and the DD girl (as in Dunkin’ Donuts, not cup-size, come on now, guys).

“Oh,” Henry said in tone that quietly implied he was completely defeated in his home life. “We don’t need these.” He handed the straws back and the girl was like, “Okay,” in a tone that loudly implied she thought we were fucking weirdos with some oddball reverse hostage situation going on inside the car.

I gleefully slammed my perma-straw into my never-right DD iced “latte” and then we went across the street to the cemetery for a walk.

Of course, I finished my drink while we were walking and actually remembered to take out the straw so I didn’t accidentally throw it away. I rinsed it off using one of the cemetery water pumps (obviously I washed it for real when I got home! Stop lecturing me!) and then tried to get Henry to carry it.

“OH NO! I KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN! I AM NOT CARRYING YOUR FUCKING STRAW!” he yelled and I was like, “MY PAPPAP IS BURIED IN THIS CEMETERY SO YOU BETTER WATCH YOUR MOUTH HANK, HE ALREADY HATES YOU!”

Anyway, now I need to get a travel pouch to keep a few straws in but I haven’t found one yet that really calls my name (i.e. something that is totally obnoxious and looks like a pencil box for a 2nd grade Korean girl and yes, I looked into obnoxious pencil boxes but they all seem to be a tad too short, wah).

I don’t ever bring a purse out with me on my lunch break walks, so yesterday I had to openly carry a straw with me like a tiny baton, which I twirled back and forth across the fingers of my left hand, like some amateur majorette in a utensil parade. This was AFTER I put the straw in my gallon water jug*, thinking that it would be buoyant, but no, it sunk to the bottom and then I had to use chopsticks to fish it out because yes I keep a pack of super adorable chopsticks in my desk and use them whenever I’m eating something other than Cream of Wheat.

*(I’m also trying to find a really good refillable water jug. WHY DON’T THEY MAKE G-DRAGON ONES?!)

And this has been a story about straws.

And jugs (DD ones and water).

And chopsticks.

Yo, anyone reading this: Do you use reusable straws? If so, WHAT KIND OF STRAW SATCHEL DO YOU USE? Or do you just shove one in your pocket, lint be damned? I can’t decide if I want one that’s gaudy and immature as mentioned previously, or something like a small and mysterious cross-body pouch that will make passers-by wonder if I’m carrying secret papers from the ISA.

Aug 072018
 

Hi, I’m back with the shocking conclusion of my previous post, Being Tourists In Pittsburgh. WOW, HOLD ON TIGHT. Just kidding, feel free to flail around.

After we left the Heinz History Center, we walked Jessi back to the hotel so she could get started with her pre-Rocky Horror performance process. We didn’t want to be the ones responsible for jinxing her by pulling her away from that, so released her to the Omni William Penn and then continued walking to Millie’s because Bill said he was down for ice cream but I think he knew he didn’t really have a choice because I was like, “Millie’s is the best; we’re going.”

Look, Pittsburgh has got a lot of great ice cream options but Millie’s is the one that always wins a spot on my itinerary when I have out-of-town guests visiting. (So like, twice so far, lol.) They just make really delicious, fresh ice cream and sorbet made with local ingredients and they’re always getting involved with the community—you know the types! Just all-around great people and Henry loves it because you can buy little packages of waffle cone pieces which I think is genius because what else are you going to do when you’re making homemade waffle cones and one breaks? YOU DON’T THROW THAT SHIT AWAY.

Also, they plug the butts of the waffle cones with a marshmallow so you don’t get melted ice cream tracks running down your shirt and arms like I generally do everywhere else we get ice cream cones.

The main reason I wanted to go to Millie’s (I mean, other than to treat my awesome friends to some great ice cream!) was because they updated their Instagram that morning with a new flavor: BLUEBERRY PANCAKES.

The description is what really sold me though: fresh blueberry compote, homemade syrup from some dude name Paul, and, this is what sealed the deal for me: real pancakes from Square Cafe in Regent Square. I love Square Cafe and I love pancakes so I wanted to eat this on that day, it was imperative.

It also did NOT DISAPPOINT.

They actually ladle the syrup right on top of the scoop!

Chooch got his standard scoop o’ chocolate, which inspired Bill to do the same. Peer pressure, Bill’s got it. I always mock Chooch for having such a basic palate but Millie’s chocolate actually is indescribably perfect.

I forget what Henry got. One of the sorbets, I think. Who cares.

We went back to the Omni after that and Bill was dumb and invited us into their room without even bothering to squirt us with holy water first to make sure we’re not vampires. Jessi was still getting ready (she was being the Criminologist for that night’s show so she had a lot of costuming to do!) so we decided that we were going to investigate this so-called fifth floor that most of the elevators skipped over. Bill said he noticed that there was one particular set of elevators that actually had a button for the fifth floor, so we sought out that one and then held our breath while it descended.

However, when the doors opened, we were immediately disappointed. I guess I was expecting something out of Nightmare on the 13th Floor*, hallway all blood-red with fancy tapestries and gaslight sconces, Victrola music humming from behind someone’s locked door.

*(HAVEN’T YOU EVER SEEN THAT MOVIE?! It was a 1990 made-for-TV movie that USA frequently played and it scared the shit out of me. Look that up.)

But no, we could tell right away that it was just a floor full of offices.

Such a let down.

Then we went to the room where the convention was happening because there was a raffle drawing about to take place and Bill and Jessi had some stake in it.

“They haven’t checked anyone’s badge the entire time we’ve been here, so I don’t think it’ll matter if you guys come with me,” Bill assured us, and Chooch and Henry were like, “That’s cool” and never thought about it again, while I was being my typical “DEER IN HEADLIGHTS-TOTALLY SUSPICIOUS-LOOK AT THE SPOTLIGHT ON ME-I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE” self.

Henry said that there were some girls asking me about my purse when we walked in but I completely ignored them because I couldn’t hear them over the metallic ringing in my ears BECAUSE OMG ARE WE GOING TO GET BUSTED.

I felt like everyone knew we weren’t actually convention-goers and I was doing everything in my power to burrow myself into Henry’s armpit. I have many layers and one of them is that I HATE STEALING and I felt, in a way, that we were being thieves by waltzing into this convention without purchasing a badge. Granted, we only sat there long enough to watch some broad named MONTANA clean up on all the winnings.

Bill was irate.

We hated Montana after that! Plus, she wasn’t even present to collect her bounty! They should have tossed aside her tickets and drawn again! Don’t get me started on Montana.

Afterward, we went back to Bill and Jessi’s room. Jessi was nearly finished getting into her role by then, but Henry had just enough time to fall asleep in an arm chair.

His favorite thing! Sleeping in other people’s hotel room!

Then we piled into our car and drove back to the Hollywood Theater which is literally about a 5 minute walk from my house. The Hollywood is famous for being in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s also where the Rocky Horror Picture Show and the shadowcast has played for like, decades. Tonight’s show was special because it was going to feature an all-star shadowcast from different cities. Jessi had submitted an audition tape a while back for this and was accepted so when Bill asked us if we wanted to come out and watch her, how the fuck could I turn that down?

Henry and I had a brief parental powwow about whether or not we should take Chooch with us to this but then I reasoned that I was his age when I first watched RHPS. BLOG READERS, WALK WITH ME:

It was Easter of 6th grade (whatever year that was) and my BFF Christy (see also: Crystal Lite and Crystal McGoo-Goo) was sleeping over which meant we were in the market for some horror movie rentals. My aunt Sharon took us to Blockbuster (miss you, baby) and recommended RHPS to us. I mean, if one were to judge a VHS by it’s box, it did look like it had horror movie potential.

However, after watching it that night, we were immediately disappointed. It had it’s grotesque moments but it wasn’t the eye-covering 70s slasher film we were in the mood for. We grumbled about it for a bit and then went to sleep.

When we woke up the next day, however, I looked at Christy and whispered, “Do you want to watch that again?” and she was like “YES” and then WE DID and by the end of the second-viewing, we knew the Time Warp front and back, left to right, and I was writing diary entries entitled WHERE HAS TIM CURRY BEEN ALL MY LIFE. We were shook and hooked, you guys.

There was this one time when my mom hid the video camera inside the fireplace and recorded us doing the Time Warp. I texted her last week and asked her if she remembered this and instead of saying, “No, you must have dreamt that” which is her typical response when she doesn’t want to fess up, she said, “Lol, yes. Hilarious.” I’m sure that’s still floating around somewhere, along with footage of me dancing to Queen’s Radio Gaga with rollers in my hair.

We were so obsessed that we used to sing parts of RHPS songs as roller coasters at Kennywood would be carrying us up the first hill.

“I bet she doesn’t remember that,” Henry scoffed, knowing that none of my friends ever remember the things from our childhood that seemed like BIG MOMENTS to me.

But then I texted her and this happened, so fuck off Henry:

So, all of this is to say that I was pretty excited to be experiencing this all over again but with Chooch this time.

We arrived at the Hollywood before tickets went on sale, since we were basically the Criminologist’s entourage so Chooch, Bill and I sat on a couch in the lobby, where Chooch got his first taste at RHPS as all of the Columbias and Franks sauntered around before him.

He just kept shaking his head.

“You have no idea what you’re in for!” I laughed.

Pre-show selfie! I was so stoked for her, but also experienced sympathy butterflies.

Here’s a picture from the basement bathroom of the Hollywood which I have actually never been in, after literal decades of seeing movies there. I think it’s probably haunted. Anyway, I took this picture because my popcorn purse was getting mad love from all the RHPS convention attendees that day which made me glad that I splurged on this at Everland in Korea. I didn’t want the popcorn (although it ended up being delicious and banana-flavored, because Korea) but when I saw people walking around with it that day in the park I had mad visions of using it as a purse. I mean, it’s pretty clunky and only fits like, lipgloss and some change, maybe a tampon (I’ll have to try) but this bag is everything.

After sitting around for nearly an hour waiting to buy tickets (they weren’t being sold through the theater), Bill finally had enough and said, “THAT’S IT, WE’RE JUST GOING IN.” ANyone with a badge had free admission, so Jessi gave me hers since she was performing, but I still felt like, again, A FUCKING THIEF.

Bill reasoned that he and Jessi had given the convention people enough of their money and us not buying $15 tickets wasn’t going to hurt them, but I still felt so guilty and paranoid walking to the seats that Jessi saved for us. IN THE SECOND ROW. WE WERE PRACTICALLY SITTING DUCKS FOR THE CONVENTION PEOPLE TO SPOT. Chooch was oblivious and just sat there eating popcorn, checking out all the fishnets and corsets, but I was gnawing my fingers to the bone over this.

“WHAT IF THEY WALK AROUND AND ASK FOR OUR TICKETS?!” I hissed to Henry.

“Would you calm down?! They’re not going to do that.”

They didn’t do that.

It was fine.

We assimilated and no one gave us a second glance.

Bill bought Chooch and me prop bags, not considering the repercussions this would have on Henry, who ended up soaking wet and covered in covered by the end of the night. Also, as soon as Chooch was explained the concept of the prop bags, his attention was piqued and he was in it to win it.

Before the show started, they played the audition tapes of all the out-of-town shadowcast participants and we screamed our faces off when Jessi’s was on the screen.

Anyway, the show was fantastic and Jessi killed her part! Second to that, I had so much fun seeing this movie again through Chooch’s eyes. In the beginning, when all the RHPS virgins had to go up to the front and fake orgasms, Chooch was like SRSLY MOM WTF and Henry was just like FROWN FROWN FROWN GOOD JOB BRINGING OUR PRE-TEEN HERE, but then Chooch was so into the audience participation elements that he forgot he was witnessing age-inappropriate shenanigans with his parents and snapped his rubber glove with wanton abandon.

What a fucking awesome night with Bill and Jessi. I mean, all of our hangouts are totally memorable and hilarious, but this night is definitely up at the top. And I can’t think of anyone better to expose Chooch to RHPS than the people who played Cards Against Humanity with him when he was like 8 (and he won). And Henry only slept through some parts of the show, not all!

We went to Tom’s Diner afterward and Chooch had so many questions. So. Many. Questions.

He is in SO DEEP now that by the next morning, he had YouTubed all of the song-scenes, learned a bunch of call-backs, and is ready to go to Michigan to watch Jessi perform there with her cast.

I laughed a little bit to myself at work the other night because my boss was talking to me about Chooch and how many cool experiences he’s had in his short life because of Henry and me. “You guys are great parents! Taking him to all kinds of places that most kids his age don’t get to go!” and in my head, I was like, “Yes, like Rocky Horror Picture Show.” He is certainly well-versed in a myriad of pop culture categories!

***

A few days ago, he came home from the library and said that he was singing “Sweet Transvestite” and Liam and Markie were like, “What is a transvestite” so he explained it to them, and that’s my son, broadening horizons and opening minds.

***

P.S. Bill & Jessi ended up meeting Montana the next day and he said she was actually very nice so we felt for motherfucking her and all her raffle wins. OR DID WE.

Jul 292018
 

I keep putting off recapping Warped Tour for a couple reasons: it was the last one ever and I needed to let the feels marinate for a bit before spooning it into the thought pot, I’m really blog-ambivalent these days, but mostly because there just isn’t really that much to say this time.

This sounds like we had a horrible time and I can assure you it wasn’t that. In fact, aside from early morning sniping, it was actually the first Warped Tour since Chooch started going with us that we got through the whole entire day without even the TINIEST quarrel. Give us a fucking ribbon at the Family Behavioral Fair, motherfuckers.

It just very much felt like we were going through the motions. For instance, the gate we normally enter through didn’t appear to be open this year so we had to get in a much-longer line for the main gate and I didn’t even feel the tiniest bit anxious about this because it didn’t matter to me when we got in. WHY, YOU ASK? GOOD QUESTION. Because there wasn’t one single band in the lineup that I was super-stoked to see.

!!!!

Granted I know that I have been out of the loop for a year or two but even the old bands on the list were like Zzzzzzzz for me.

SO WHY DID YOU BUY A TICKET, DUMMYTURKEY?! Great question! Because I still love the atmosphere and the vibes and I wanted to see it through to the end. GOD DONT YOU READ MY BLOG I ALREADY WROTE ABOUT THAT.

One thing I want to want to mention before I move on to other things is that for as huge of a festival that Warped Tour is, we have never really had a bad “waiting in line” experience. The credit probably goes to the venue, but they do such a stand-up job getting everyone inside the gates at a speedy, safe pace. (KCON/PRUDENTIAL CENTER SHOULD STUDY THIS PROCESS!)

The whole time we were in line though, I kept checking the Warped Tour socials for the “magic word” to get the first 200 people free shit at the Vans tent but I never saw one! So that was kind of a let-down. I had notifications turned on for the Warped Tour app and never received a single alert all day long which was strange…this was one of the reasons why it just didn’t feel right this year.

Chooch got to play games so he was happy. That was all he was looking forward to since the lineup was so “meh” this year.

This was us sitting in the pavilion (all these girls at Warped Tour with their perfectly matte faces while I’m over here looking like I could moisten a whole loaf of week-old bread with my face), waiting 35 minutes for the Maine to come on which never happened because I didn’t make the connection that for the first time ever, there was only one stage under the pavilion?! Usually, it’s the Journeys Left Foot and Journeys Right Foot, but this time they were separated so only one of the “foots” was under the pavilion and guess what guys it wasn’t the one that the Maine was playing on so my tradition of going to Warped Tour every year and never seeing the Maine continued. It’s good to end things with a perfect streak sometimes, you know?

Also, there was a fifteen minute delay on every stage but I thought it was only on three of the stages because I didn’t read the inflatable schedule correctly and basically, if I had any vested interest in seeing any particular band, I would have probably been met with disappointment.

It was just weird how this day started off with CHANGES and that just led to a strong feeling of disorientation for the rest of the day.

If you know what I mean.

Do you know what I mean?

I’m the type of person who totally loses her mind when there is even a tiny sprinkle of aberration in a schedule.

But can I just say again how weird it was to not be literally sprinting from stage to stage in an effort to see all of my scene-faves? A Warped Tour without Emarosa is bad enough but there really wasn’t any post-hardcore for my soul that day.

We did accidentally see a hardcore band called Sharptooth though and I was immediately sucked in because the screamer was a girl and she was fierce as fuck. After the first song, she plowed right into a fiery speech about #MeToo and the crowd was backing her so hard with energetic cheers, and all I could think was, “Can we claw-drop all of the Ronnie Radkes on this tour into the front row and make them listen to this hard truth?” What irony, you know? This band promoting safe spaces, speaking out against domestic/sex abuse, rape, the mental illness stigma, while so many shitty bands full of shitty motherfucking abusers were running rampant on in the same venue because Kevin Lyman doesn’t want to lose money by banning their asses from Warped Tour. This strong, outspoken female could have eaten Jonny Craig alive and made Ronnie Radke shit his pants.

CAN YOU SEE WHY THIS WAS HARD FOR ME!? On one had, Warped Tour is supposed to be this safe haven for all walks of life, socially conscious with tons of really great (and I mean super fantastic) organizations there every summer spreading awareness for depression, suicide, LGBTQ, breast cancer. They have food drives at every city and a tent where you can get swabbed to be a bone marrow donor. (I almost wrote donater.)

But then it’s also a huge parking lot full of band dude debauchery, statutory transgressions and other things that go in on those tour buses that I don’t want to even think about because ew.

On that note though, I noticed a HUGE influx of families in attendance. This was usually not the case, so maybe it was all those grown-up punks wanting to revisit the scene for Warped’s swan song, but goddamn there were A LOT of children there. The first year we brought Chooch, it was 2013 and he was quite literally one of maybe three under-15 kids there, to the point where he was getting a lot of attention and double-takes (and a lot of free swag!). I remember getting a lot of shit from people who thought it was a bad idea for us to take him at that age (he was 7) but you have to consider the fact that Henry and I were already extremely experienced at this and Chooch was literally raised on this kind of music. I mean, he tell you the names of the singers of probably 15 bands that were there that year.

So this was another thing that made our last Warped Tour feel….sterile? Is that the word I want? Yes. Let’s go with sterile.

Also, Chooch is barely even a kid anymore! It’s weird that he won’t ever get to experience Warped Tour with his friends. We used to joke that once he was in high school and his friends finally started getting into this stuff, he would have already been to like 10 Warped Tours! But now I guess we’ll have to see what kind of thing makes a move on Warped’s demographic.

LOL, Henry put so much effort into his Warped Tour outfit.

He was so funny on the way there that morning. Traffic was super backed up as we got closer to the exit for Key Bank Pavilion (will always be StarLake to me) and he was like, “Oh hell no” so he morphed into Professional Driver Henry and cut in front of every car sitting in mile-long Warped Tour traffic, drove over DO NOT CROSS lines, and slid right into a small opening in the front of the line and then said “I literally do not give a fuck.” He just wanted this day to be over, guys. It was actually super impressive.

Full disclosure, I had never heard of the band Lighterburns before but when I saw this sign, I screamed, “YES, I DO AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT” and promptly whipped out my credit card and by that I mean I had to chase after Henry who was pretending not to hear me and then shake him down for money because like why would I bring my own stuff lol.

Yeah, you do.

Anyway, after that I felt I would be remiss to not check out their set so I went back to the small stage that the lesser-known bands are relegated to, and I really liked them! I wish they had been able to accumulate a bigger crowd, but Warped Tour is a crapshoot like that sometimes. Anyway, here is one of their videos, go support them because they’re fighting the good fight.

Hahahahahahaha, probably my favorite picture from that day!

Chooch is too cool for the big slip-n-slide now I guess, even though he practically got pruned skin from the amount of time he spent in it at his first Warped Tour!

Seasoned veteran at age 12.

Since there were no must-see bands for me, I was able to meander about leisurely and just soak up the vibes, which actually was the best way for me to have closure. It was nice to just listen to all the screaming, get in some prime people-watching, and check out all the merch, like Choonimals! We of course bought their special edition Warped Tour design and said a sad goodbye to Chad, who takes Choonimals on the road with Warped Tour every year.

“This sucks, I feel like this part of the Warped Tour tradition for us, buying a Choonimals shirt,” I said to Chad and he admitted that he has no idea what he’s going to do with his summers now, but assured us that Warped Tour would still be around in some capacity. It sounds like it just not going to be a cross-country tour anymore, but that they will still have events. Maybe something like a west coast and east coast festival? I probably wouldn’t road trip for it, because I can’t imagine any bands in the scene right now inspiring me to travel, so this probably was my last Warped Tour.

Chad gave us all high-fives and thanked us for supporting the brand all these years. I’m not going to lie, I AM TEARING UP RIGHT NOW AS I TYPE THIS. Go check out Choonimals, their shirts are top-notch and the designs are just really great. I guess I’ll be buying all my future Choonimals online from now on, sigh.

Truth is always making people stop and play their dumb games which is right up Chooch’s alley. He always gets free shit from them every year and this time he played some stupid ninja game and chose yellow sunglasses as his prize because they reminded him of the $230 pair of Gentle Monsters that we wouldn’t buy him in Korea, lol, keep dreaming, kid.

Gonna miss sitting on this hill. Gonna miss these tents. Gonna miss the sunburn and the how amazing it feels to take a shower after enduring the heat all day. Apparently, it was so hot that day that the local EMS was calling it a “mass casualty incident” and it was all over the news. I had no idea about any of this, but it explains why three different people at work the next day were like, “I was so worried about you, there was a mass casualty incident!” and I was like, “Wow, how weird that all of these people are using the same word for it.

Then I found out that the singer of Waterparks, Awsten Knight, saw the news crew and ran over to give a statement, but he said he was Kyle Fletchers from December’s Tragedy and this is so fucking hilarious to me to think of people watching this and wondering if their kids like that band. Henry thought it was stupid but NO HENRY, YOU ARE STUPID.

Warped Tour apparently made him a new tour badge after that, hahaha. Oh, Awsten. We fucking missed Waterparks because of how the schedule was jacked all day and they were honestly one of only 4 bands I had any desire to see that day.

We stuck around long enough to 3Oh!3’s first three songs, because it felt symbolic since they were at the first Warped Tour that Henry and I attended together in 2008 (10 years ago! in case you can’t do math). They were largely unknown at the time and I remember thinking at first, “These guys are stupid” but half a song in, I was trying to get them to play at my imaginary prom. I remember exactly what stage they played on that year too, it was one of the ones under the pavilion, where the smaller bands performed back then. Katy Perry performed on that stage that year too and they both exploded into the mainstream right after that. It was nuts.

So even though we were all super fucking hot, tired, and hungry, we stuck around long enough to see some of their songs (“Oh, I know who they are now!” Chooch cried almost immediately after he kept insisting that he didn’t) and then we all decided to throw in the towel by 7pm. I mean, I certainly didn’t want to stick around for shitty Falling In Reverse and I gave no shits about any other band playing after that anyway.

I thought I would be OK, but I still found myself stalling, knowing that once we exited those gates, that was it. The Book of Warped Tour was closed. I know it probably sounds like we had a not-great time, but the fact is that it was just right. I didn’t have high expectations going in so I wasn’t let down. I knew the line-up and wasn’t shocked that there wasn’t anyone I was dying to see. I bought all the merch I needed. None of us fought. Chooch spun wheels and won things, Henry fell asleep.

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Nap time. #kingofsleepingatWarpedToursince2008

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It was enough for me. And it made me appreciate my new lifestyle even more, because I just connect with the Warped Tour stuff anymore and that’s OK. Maybe if they would have recreated the 2008 lineup, or the 2012 one, I would have been more stoked. There was a post-hardcore void, and it’s obvious that the kids are moving away from that genre, so it was another reason for me to make peace with the end of an era.

But I will tell you one thing, later that night, I lost all control of myself and started sobbing into Henry’s chest because it finally hit me. I know that this wasn’t something I did in my childhood, but it still had that feeling to it! Like it was some weird delayed coming-of-age moment for me, lol, I don’t know. Warped Tour was a big part of my life for many years and I will cherish those memories forever. But now I can fully embrace this new season of life I’m getting into, without having one foot stubbornly stuck in the old one.

Warped Tour, you will forever have a place in my heart. <3

Jul 202018
 

Can we pretend like we’re besties on a telephone call? OK great! I’ll let you talk in a minute (x87).

This week has been extremely draining. It all started Monday with Warped Tour which was exhausting for a myriad of reasons (it was so hot that day that there were mass casualty plans in effect, apparently) and I just never really regained any of my mental stamina after that. I’ve just been in some frustrating post-Warped Tour fugue state that I’m hoping to finally shake today.

This week wasn’t bad at all by any means though. There were so many awesome comebacks in the Kpop world — they do things a bit differently over there and release several small albums a year, each one paired with a comeback which means: at least one new music video, fan engagements, promotions (making their rounds on all of the weekly music countdown shows), and if we’re lucky – appearances on variety shows!

This week has given us new Triple H (Henry’s review of this was “How has Hyuna not gotten kicked out of Korea by now?” Lol #provocative), Chungha, Ashley, Hyolyn, and MOST IMPORTANTLY: The Great Seungri, BIGBANG’s maknae! His first solo comeback in 5 years is happening right now and you better believe I woke up before the alarm to watch his video and it’s safe to say that it was worth the wait! It’s so different from everything else out there right now and the video is just crammed with that Seungri charm. I love him! I miss BIGBANG so much (the other 4 members are in the army) so this made my heart swell. Thank you, Seungri. You did well!

Here, watch this. HEY, YOU ANSWERED THE PHONE WHEN I CALLED SO JUST FUCKING WATCH THIS WITH ME NOW, UGH:

I just want to share all of the videos on here but I will abstain. I should probably just start a separate music blog at some point so you guys don’t have to have this stuff shoved in your faces anymore; 11 years of post-hardcore, screamo, and sadboy music, and now this!

What else has been happening this week…Oh! I had an annoying trolley experience yesterday after a fairly decent streak of non-issues. But then yesterday, some delusional dad had his kid on the trolley IN SOME TYPE OF OBNOXIOUS TRICYCLE THING.

WITH A BELL.

THE OBNOXIOUS TRICYCLE THING HAD A BELL.

Now, I’m of the mindset that children shouldn’t be allowed on the trolley at all, so you can imagine how incensed I was when that little fucker started RINGING HIS BELL. It was the really loud, alarming kind that’s like TRRRRRRRRRRRING! TRRRRRRRRRRRRING! all metallically. I found myself sitting there, all tense and clenched, bracing for the next ring which actually made the base of my skull ache. It sounded worse than the sound of the imaginary rotary phone that rang when I called you.

Halfway to work, some dumb bitch got on the trolley and sat across from Dipshit Dad and Tricycle Tot.

“OH THAT’S A GREAT BIKE YOU HAVE,” she croaked in a typical Yinzer accent around 50 years of nicotine buildup. “WHY DON’T YOU RING THAT BELL” and to the imaginary friends in my head (not you, the other ones), I asked, “Is there a camera on me? Is my whole fucking life just one episode of Punked now?! AM I MAKING ASHTON KUTCHER RELEVANT AGAIN?!”

So this bitch keeps making the kid ding the damn bell and I’m like internalizing seizures three seats away to the point where I got off FOUR STOPS EARLY AND WALKED ACROSS A FUCKING BRIDGE just to get away from the insanity. I called Henry and he was like, “WHAT? WHAT’S WRONG!” and then I started screaming about how bad my day was going and he was like, “Oh.”

MAYBE I SHOULD HAVE JUST CALLED YOU INSTEAD.

And I had my big water jug in my bag for all of this so my shoulder felt terrific.

Oh, how’s my jug, you’re wondering? Let’s talk about that! I’m still chugging that  hard, y’all.

*(Korean for “water.” Thanks for not laughing at my pronunciation.) 

One day last week, I was sitting at my desk when Jill stopped over to talk to Regina in her office.

“Wow! That’s a lot of water,” Jill exclaimed. “Are you seriously going to drink all of that?” I assumed she was talking to me and was getting ready to answer, when I heard Regina say something about trying to drink more water.

I started to shift in my seat, wondering how much more water than me Regina was drinking. Did she have a vat? Should I upgrade to a barrel? COULD THAT BE POSSIBLE? YES, WITH A SMALL FLEET OF ST. BERNARDS!

I waited for Regina to leave her office and then I ran over to peek. Lori’s office is right next to Regina’s and I didn’t want her to think I was being a creep so I quickly filled her in. “And I just wanted to see if her water bottle was bigger than mine. Don’t worry, it’s not,” I assured Lori.

Lori laughed. “No one’s jug is bigger than yours, Erin!”

And that was the moment I realized I had a problem.

A competition problem.

“THAT was when you knew?” Henry scoffed when I called him on my lunch break walk.

Anyway, drinking water is such a chore. I guess Instagram knows about my new lifestyle because I keep getting ads for designer 1 gallon water jugs. MAYBE I’LL BUY ONE, INSTAGRAM. YOU DON’T KNOW ME.

Ugh, except that you do.

Speaking of Henry and water, I was obsessing over boats capsizing today while I was walking by the gross river because I’m halfway to a paranoid schizophrenic diagnosis so I asked Henry how a lake could have waves since that duck boat tragedy is all I can think about today.

“Well, it’s like a bathtub…” he started to say, and that’s all I heard to be honest.

I think that’s all I have to talk about right now. Um, I’d love to hear how your week was but I have to hang up now because I have to eat dinner. Ciao for now! OR SHOULD I SAY CHOW FOR NOW, OH!!!

Maybe we’ll talk about Warped Tour next time, OK!?

Proof that my dinner is here:

I told Henry I wanted a ton of vegetables so that’s what I got. Ordering food is easy at Cafe Henrique.

Wait one more thing because this just reminded me. There’s this reality show we’re watching called Roommate where 11 Korean celebrities live together and one of them, the oldest, is this Korean singer who’s in his late 40s and he has a beard and looks all tough but he loves to cook so the housemates nominate him to be the official cook and they call him Shin Omma (Mama Shin) and it reminds me so much of Henry so now I think we should all call Henry “Henry Omma.” Ok let’s.