Nov 292019
 

Every time I sit down to write about this night, I drift off to my own version of La La Land that’s located on a soft, velvet cloud floating right above Seoul. I told Chooch to make sure I actually get it done this morning for real though because we’re going on two weeks now but don’t worry, it’s not like I forgot anything — I watch YouTube videos from the show every single day.

I’ve made Henry watch them.

And Janna.

And my mom.

I tried to get Chooch to make Blake watch them too but I don’t know if that ever happened. I figured it would be a nice change from Boss Baby, which Calvin makes Blake put on 24:7, apparently.

The concert was at EagleBank Arena, which was George Mason University’s basketball arena. It was a nice mid-size venue and I was cool with that because the other closest show we could have attended was at Madison Square Garden, and I didn’t want to deal with a concert of that magnitude. (Also, please note that SuperM is the first Kpop group to ever play at MSG aside from KCON, which is an entire convention! Usually kpop groups play Newark for their “NYC” date.)

Speaking of, the first night of their tour was in Ft. Worth, but the members kept calling it Dallas throughout the night and some asshole sports writer who was probably just surly because he was assigned the show to review, wrote this totally curmudgeony piece berating them for “insulting” Ft. Worth, flailing on stage trying to stay in sync (dancing, I think that’s called?), and not having a backing band (hello, most kpop groups do not bring bands on tour with them; yes, G-Dragon and BIGBANG do, but certainly not a brand new group who basically had a whirlwind tour thrown together seemingly last minute and real kpop fans aren’t going to concerts to hear the music stylized by a live band – we’re there to see our idols sing and dance, so HUSH YOUR BITCH AS MOUTH, SPORTS WRITER). The worst part was then he proceeded to then tweet that kpop is music for thirteen-year-olds, and anyone over the age of 18 who likes it should reconsider their life. Excuse me, sir? I have liked many different genres of music throughout my life and got trashed on by co-workers and friends for every single one, so this was nothing new to me. But it still pissed me off because let people listen to the music they want to listen to! This guy got DRAGGED on twitter by journalists who actually are employed to write about kpop (h/t Jeff Benjamin) and and this guy named Jack Phan, who is a CEO and tech entrepreneur who accidentally went viral a few months ago by asking “What is MOMO?” when he was shocked to see that #momo was trending at #1 and not Apple. 

Look, I have seen bands tweet about coming to Pittsburgh and half the time, they spell it without the “h,” or when we see shows 45 minutes away at our outdoor pavilion concert venue which is closer to West Virginia at that point than Pittsburgh, bands still say “WHAT’S UP PITTSBURGH” and NO ONE CORRECTS THEM BY SAYING, “Sorry, Marilyn Manson, but this is actually Burgettstown.”

Furthermore, these seven guys are from South Korea and just know that they flew into Dallas/Ft Worth, so lay off.

Jesus, why are middle-aged men SO THREATENED by kpop?!

Anyway, Mark referred to the area as DMV several times (DC/Maryland/Virginia) so nice save, Mark!

Our seats were on the floor and Chooch was like, “Wow, these seats are great!” at the same time I was crying, “WE ARE NOT CLOSE ENOUGH!!”

“You could be in Taemin’s lap and that wouldn’t be close enough for you,” he sighed.

Anyway, the stage had a catwalk with a smaller stage at the end, which that security guy in the yellow shirt is standing next to in the picture above. So anytime the guys were on that part of the stage (which thankfully was a lot!), our view was divine. But when they were on the main stage, we had to rely on the screens at times. Which was fine, I guess. IT WASN’T FINE. I AM NEVER HAPPY.

I brought my Taemin lightstick from his Japan tour! No, I wasn’t at any of the shows, but someone from a Canadian Shawol (SHINee fan club) group was selling an extra one that she had left over from a group order and I was like WHY NOT I MIGHT ACTUALLY NEED IT ONE DAY but never thought I actually would!

Oh, and guess who was sitting next to us?! The older woman who was in line behind us when we were checking in earlier that afternoon! We started talking and she’s actually originally from Pennsylvania and works remotely from a Pittsburgh-based company! What a small world. She is also a huge Taemin stan, so I was in good company. She was wearing a Taemin headband and I had major remorse for not making one, or at least a sign, like I kept saying I was going to do. Why am I so lazy!?

Well, friends, here is the part where I lose my mind, forget that I’m a 40-year-old mom, and become the best version of my 16-year-old self that will never be put to rest because I’m pretty sure that’s when I peaked.

I honestly wasn’t sure how I was going to react when they took the stage. I have all kinds of different concert personalities: leaning against a wall in quiet introspection, sitting at the bar being too-cool-for-school, standing in the back with my arms crossed, in the middle trying to dance/jump/something, paralyzed and crying.

When I saw G-Dragon, I was “paralyzed and crying.” Literally just stood there, stunned, mouth agape, staring at the stage in disbelief for two and a half hours.

So I wasn’t sure which Erin was going to be present on this night, until the intro video ended on the screen and SuperM rose onto the stage amidst the fog and flashing lights, and I saw Taemin for the first time in real life and not on a screen. That’s when the rare “FULL-THROTTLE SHRIEKING BANSHEE ERIN” came out. I couldn’t stop it. It just happened. It was like this, “Oh….MY….GODDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHYWQIOR9328492!!!!!!”

I was a motherfucking mess. Chooch was like, “Here we go” and I’m not being hyperbolic at all when I say this, but he had to grab my arm twice because I was screaming so violently that I was knocking the wind out of myself. That couldn’t have been healthy but ironically I can’t remember when I last felt SO ALIVE.

I managed to avoid (most) setlist spoilers so I didn’t even know that their first song was going to be Can’t Stand the Rain, which is THE JAM. However, right after that, the lights went down and I was like, “OOH WHAT IS GOING TO BE NEXT??”

Taemin’s motherfucking solo, that’s what! I WAS NOT PREPARED. I really didn’t think this was going to happen so soon into the concert! I heard people in line outside saying something about “Sherlock,” which is a SHINee song, so I was confused and thought they meant he was going to perform that on his own, but what actually happened was that he did his debut solo song, “Danger,” with elements of “Sherlock”* – it was so good and the whole time I was blinking back tears and thinking over and over, “Holy shit, I’m watching Taemin dance. That is LEE TAEMIN dancing a few hundred feet away from me. How did I get so lucky?!”

*(Some parts of “Sherlock” were swirled into “Danger” and it was brilliant, really.)

And then the next song he did was “Goodbye,” and that choreo is legendary. I did cry for this one. Like, full-on scrunched up my face and let the eye water run like a faucet. Oh, I was a mess.

Here is a good video of it:

After that, Taeyong came out and performed his brand new unreleased sole “GTA.” Like I said, I did a pretty good job staying ignorant to the set list so I had no idea that new songs were prepared for this tour, so I was excited to hear them for the first time since I avoided it all on Instagram and YouTube!

Next, Mark, Taeyong, Ten, Baekhyun, and Taemin came together for “Super Car” which features Taemin’s legendary “vrooom”:

I COULDN’T STOP SCREAMING MY FACE OFF.

Next, Ten graced us with his effortless dancing when he performed his two solos, “Dream in a Dream” and “New Heroes.” I yelled, “I LOVE THIS SONG!!!!” at Chooch’s bleeding ear when “New Heroes” began. Honestly, even if Taemin wasn’t in SuperM, the chance to see TEN would have had me tossing my wallet into the sky and dancing beneath the raining credit cards with wanton abandon.

This one is actually my video:

Next, we had Chooch’s highlight of the night, Lucas’s unreleased solo “Bass Go Boom,” which was adorable and entertaining (I only know Lucas from NCT reality show-type videos on YouTube so I don’t have a very good feel for him as a performer – this was a really good showcase for him!), and then Baekhyun came out with “Betcha” and “UN Village,” which I love and the whole time I was thinking, “Wow, this is really Baekhyun.” I have never seen EXO and at this point, I’m starting to think I’m never going to now that a bunch of them are in the military and for some reason, SM Entertainment likes to deprive America of their artists.

I’ve said it hundreds of times, but I think EXO deserves more attention and accolades than BTS, the group they are always pitted against. Seriously, those two fan bases harbor extreme feelings of hatred for each other, it’s chaos.

Afterward, the whole group reconvened and hit us with an acapella intro to their new song, “Dangerous Woman,” which I am desperate for them to record and release because I think it’s my new favorite SuperM song!? Also, that dick-noodle sports writer who said SuperM lipsynched through the whole concert can suck a dick, because they were clearly singing. Granted, I will admit that there are times where they rely on the backing track but that’s because they’re busy dancing their fucking faces off. We made Janna watch one of their videos and she was like, “Whoa, look how sweaty they are!” YES JANNA IT’S BECAUSE THEY ARE WORKING HARD TO GIVE US THEIR ABSOLUTE BEST BECAUSE THAT’S HOW DEDICATED THEY ARE TO THEIR ART, GOD!

This song is EVERYTHING to me. Watching Taemin sing so joyfully, so close to us, it just sent me over the edge. I had the vapors. Pass me my fainting couch, thanks.

Next was 2 Fast, and then Ten and Taeyong performed their NCT U duet, “Baby Don’t Stop,” which I totally called months ago when this tour was announced! The one thing I also called that I’m really shocked didn’t happen and really think SM slept on a golden opportunity, was to have Taemin perform “Pretty Boy,” one of his solos which features Kai! WHY, SM?!!?

Mark got to take the stage next with his brand new solo “Talk About” and Chooch went nuts because Mark is his bias. Mark is so talented! SM had him in every NCT subunit and there was this joke when it was announced that there would be a Chinese unit that they asked Mark to say hello in Mandarin, and that was enough for them to put him in WayV, lol. Shockingly though he’s not actually in WayV!

Kai also got a brand new solo to perform, “Confession,” and when he coyly lifted his shirt at one point, I was like, “OH DAMN HENRY IS REALLY MISSING OUT!” I did get a short clip to send him though and he was like, “Wow, thanks” afterward. He won’t own up to the fact that Kai is his bias but I think it’s cute because TAEMIN AND KAI ARE BFFs.

“No Manners” was next and I died because they performed this on our part of the stage and prior to the concert, it was my favorite song on the SuperM release!

AGAIN, CAN I PAUSE TO SCREAM MY FAT FACE OFF???

Ugh, these boys! My heart! They have it! They took it back to Korea! OH WELL, GUESS I’LL HAVE TO GO BACK AND FETCH IT.

Another new song was next, they were really blessing us hard with the new-new. This one was called “With You” and it was so uplifting and light-hearted! During this song, they each had a basket full of balls that they were tossing out into the crowd and I wanted one SO HARD. Here’s Chooch’s instavid of this song and it’s hilarious how fast he put his phone away once he realized it was the FREE SHIT portion of the night:

WHEN TAEMIN DOES THAT CUTE HIP SWIVEL OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG.

Breathe, Erin. You can do this. You made it this far! One more song!

The finale of the show was obviously a performance of their big single, “Jopping,” which I will admit I wasn’t SUPER BLOWN AWAY WITH when I first heard it but goddamn if that song didn’t grow on me faster than the 11th toe I picked up from that one time I accidentally dipped my foot into the Trump supporter gene pool.

This isn’t the greatest, but here’s someone’s recording of the big screen during “Jopping.” I just can’t enough of this choreo….and Taemin in those plaid pants. There was this girl who came over before the show started to talk to the girl next to my new friend and she had recreated his outfit from this song sooooo perfectly. I complimented her on it and in hindsight I wish I had asked to take a picture of her because it was pretty impressive.

That’s some dedication!

And that was it – an hour and a half of pure Korean bliss. My whole body was buzzing and Chooch and I were smiling so big by the time we met up with Henry at the car that we probably looked like our faces were splitting. I can only imagine how deranged we looked!

I wish that I had been able to also go to the NYC show,  or that any of the shows on their second leg of the tour were close enough for me to attend. I would just get cheap seats! I don’t care! I just want to be there again! I heard that they slipped during the NYC show and said something about seeing us again in the spring….so maybe there’s hope after all?!

Oh my motherfucking sweetly-spanked Mussolini, I can’t believe that I saw Lee Taemin. I saw him in real life, his precious angel baby face, and I heard his smoky vocals and saw him dance like the devil himself had stepped into his body. Holy fucking shit, I will never stop being grateful of this moment in my life.

“I was trying to get Taemin to wave to me just so I could say ‘haha Taemin waved to me and not you,'” Chooch said at one point on the way home and I was like fuck off, nerd alert.

****

We were supposed to spend the night in Fairfax and hang out in DC the next day, but dumb Chooch told us a few days earlier that he had PSATs on Monday and that nerd was actually crestfallen when I reminded him  that we weren’t going to be home, so that is why we ended up canceling the hotel, making a quick stop at the local Fairfax H-Mart for makgeolli and other Korean goods, and then driving straight home through the night.

Henry ended up going to work that next day, but I kept my day off and spent it lying around wistfully with an arm slung across my forehead, watching videos from the concert and sobbing to the point where I had to take my contacts out. It was a bad scene.

Then Chooch came home from school and screamed, “OMG THE PSATs WAS THREE HOURS LONG! IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!”

Get the fuck out of here.

No really, you can go now. Until next time!

Nov 262019
 

After lunch, I wanted to go back to the George Mason campus so we could walk around and digest which really just means I wanted to burn off all the nervous energy I had coiled around every last muscle in my body. YES EVEN MY TONGUE, YOU DON’T KNOW.

We were creeping near the basketball stadium where the concert was being held because we saw all the tour trucks. Look, I’m sure motherfucking Lee Taemin was not skulking around the loading dock, hauling amps out of the backs of the trucks, BUT YOU NEVER KNOW – maybe he wanted to step outside and breathe in the basic Virginia air!? Chooch got a bit too brave and one of the security guards was like YOU CAN’T CROSS OVER HERE YOU GOTTA GO AROUND and Chooch was like, “yeah, I knew that, I wasn’t trying to do anything funny MY MOM MADE ME DO IT I’M FUCKING SORRY OK.”

Whatever, there were gaggles of girls standing across the street being just as creepy as us, but at least they’re in the proper demographic I guess.

We had to walk over to this one pond—I guess it was like the “centerpiece” of the campus—just because there was duck floating in it. Just the one. But Chooch has to talk to any duck he sees, so there was no way around it.

Somewhere by the pond, Chooch found a stick and wtf is it with boys and their constant need for walking sticks!? Like, when does he outgrow it? I guess never because don’t grown men like sticks too!? Anyway, he was annoying me so badly with this jackass stick that when he eventually dropped it (this part is always inevitable) and it started to bounce down a set of steps, I raced him to it, got there first, and stomped on it with my foot.

The sound of splintering wood was so satisfying!

Would you believe me if I told you he made himself cry over this? Probably. You know he’s my son, after all.

He wanted to buy glue so he could repair it, LOL I love doing mean things to Chooch. I MEAN, LIGHT-HEARTED MEAN THINGS.

God. Whoever called CPS on me in 2011 probably has a publishable log kept on me at this point.

Chooch was obsessed with these adorable robot food deliverers. Some COLLEGE GIRL caught him chasing after one and waving, and she smiled at him which made him blush. The last time he was at a college was a few weeks ago with his school when they visited IUP and he said some college girl acted all disgusted and scoffed at him in the cafeteria when he exclaimed, “OOOH, PIZZA!”

I mean, I can only imagine how annoying he was being.

Then Henry had to “go to the bathroom” and found the student union building, so Chooch and I sat on a couch and talked about how embarrassing Henry is, shitting at a college, and for some reason I was telling Chooch about the time that me, Janna, and our friend Wonka went to Buffalo, NY and Wonka and I tucked a phone book under Janna’s mattress while she was in the bathroom to see if she noticed and the verdict was:

SHE AIN’T NO PRINCESS YO.

I don’t know why, but Chooch and I got super giddy in this place and couldn’t stop laughing and then Chooch got the hiccups so by the time Henry was DONE, we were walking over to meet up with him and Chooch hiccuped SO LOUD and people were like, “the fuck. get out of our college.”

Anyway, I really want Chooch to go here now because guess where else they have a campus? OH, INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA, BOY.

By now, it was almost 3 so Chooch and I decided to walk back to EagleBank and get in line for check-in.

Thankfully, the line wasn’t too long, and we were entertained by chatting with the friendly people around us, including a woman even older than me who also loved Taemin! Every once in awhile, we would see people go running frantically through the courtyard because someone would appear and begin handing out freebies. I kept using Chooch as my runner so we wouldn’t lose our place in line. Once, he came back with a little package of Taemin stickers. I sent him back to get some for the lady behind us but they were all out by then; he said people were like mobbing the girl handing them out and screaming, “DO YOU HAVE BAEKHYUN! KAI! TAEMIN!” K-pop is a real scene, you guys.

Another time he came back with a homemade “SuperM” bead bracelet, which he said he was keeping for himself. Rude. We also got a banner for Baekhyun and Mark, made by their fan sites.

My other scene was not like this at all. Granted, we used to get a lot of free swag at Warped Tour, but that was mostly from local bands giving away samplers or clothing companies doing contests, etc. This is all stuff from fans, and it’s so awesome. I love how much the fans love each other and their idols. Especially in this case, with SuperM bringing together 4 different fan bases.

When he wasn’t being lackey, Chooch stood quietly in line, reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which is a real uplifting read.

Anyway, the doors opened promptly at 3:30, which I loved, and we were inside at the check-in table in no time. I loved how organized it was! Once we claimed our VIP merch (a collectible VIP lanyard, canvas bag, bandana, hat, and a reallllly high-quality tour poster that I would classify more as a print and is going to get matted and framed here very soon), we got to go to a special merch booth to purchase additional goods without having to wait in line with the common folk, lol. Chooch really wanted the official SuperM lightstick and I really wanted him to have it because it just feels wrong going to a kpop concert without a lightstick, but it was $60! It pained me, but I bought it because, I don’t know, YOLO or whatever. We wanted to show our support for SuperM so it was worth it in the end!

On the way back to the car (Henry was like, “Fuck no, I’m not waiting out there with you”), soundcheck started and we were able to hear part of Can’t Stand the Rain and Jopping! This is Chooch’s “Hark, is that Mark’s part I hear?” expression. We were REALLY GETTING STOKED NOW!!

But…we still had two hours to kill. Henry suggested we walk across the street to Dunkin’ Donuts, so we hung out there for a little while with some other SuperM fans pre-gaming with Coolattas and breakfast sandwiches. I kept trying to get Henry to buy himself one of the single nosebleed seats that were still available, but even the $50 tickets came out to be almost $80 by the time Ticketmaster was done inflating it like a trendy unicorn pool float. I think he was beginning to feel a bit of FOMO because no matter what anyone thinks, Henry likes k-pop and SuperM and yes, Taemin singularly too.

By the time we got back to the EagleBank parking lot, I was ready to keel over with nerves. Chooch and I ended up getting in line around 5:30 and of course the dumbest duo of moms waddled over behind us and proceeded to say, “THEY NEED TO JUST OPEN THE DOORS” and “WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO LET US IN” and “THIS IS RIDICULOUS” back and forth to each other like some weird SNL skit that forgot to be funny and I was like, “Doors don’t open until 6, though?! It clearly stated that on the tickets? Why is this confusing?” I swear some people get off on complaining. We are such an angry nation.

Guess what time they opened the doors? 6:00. BOOM.

NEXT POST: THE ACTUAL CONCERT OMG HOLD MY HAND AND TELL ME IT’S GONNA BE OK.

Nov 222019
 

I woke up Sunday morning sick to my goddamn stomach. 100% pre-show, I’m-seeing-Taemin-today wad of electric nerves in the pit of my gut. The last time I felt this sick before a concert was in 2017 when I saw G-Dragon, and the time before that was in 2000 when I saw The Cure in Australia.

So, now you know.

The concert was in Fairfax, Virginia. I got ready, put my Taemin socks on, stuck my arrived-just-in-time Taemin “Jopping” pin on my sweater, and we were out the door by 7AM.

The pin is based on this frame from the “Jopping” video – Taemin’s signature King of Dance pose:

I always forget how close the DC area is to Pittsburgh, I guess because we typically find ourselves going east into New York or west into Ohio/Chicago for concerts or whatnot, and rarely south. I wish more Kpop concerts played DC because I would gladly choose those ones over fucking NEWARK, please Lord don’t give me any reasons to travel to Newark in the near future unless it’s something that I can’t deny, like a Taemin solo concert. I’d become a Newark resident if that’s what it took for me to see Taemin again, and that’s maybe a tiny bit hyperbolic, but YOU DON’T KNOW ME AND MY SNAP DECISIONS.

Step off!

Our drive was pretty uneventful. We ate a sleepy to-go breakfast from Sheetz, Chooch slept, and I kept chanting “omgomgomgomgomg” while Henry drove with glazed-over eyes.

I took a mirror selfie in some truck stop gas station so I could always remember what I wore when I saw TAEMIN FOR THE FIRST TIME HOLY SHIT. I’m not then type of person who gets all slutted up for concerts or wears band shirts or whatever. I wore the aforementioned Taemin socks and pin and felt that was sufficient, although I did have remorse for not making a Taemin headband like I had briefly considered, especially after we got to the venue and I saw so many various bias headbands and wow, I’m a terrible kpop stan.

Also, “stan” is such a fucking stupid word, isn’t it!?

We arrived in Fairfax, Virginia around 11, I think. Check-in for the VIP tickets was at 3:30 so we didn’t want to go to DC or do anything else too involved, in case something went awry BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW. So we went straight to the venue to scope it out (it was at the basketball arena on the George Mason University campus) – there were numerous parking lots and they were all free so Henry was extremely stoked about that.

I was so excited to see that some of my kpop brethren were already gathering around the arena gates and then the waves of acid in my stomach went from “baby splashing in the bathtub” to “FAT GUY JUST BELLY-FLOPPED IN THE POOL.” Look, it was really hard for me to enjoy any of the minutes preceding the concert because I was in this nervous haze, my heart rate was up (FitBit told me so), and I had the sweats. Maybe similar to the meat sweats? I DON’T KNOW, I DON’T DO MEAT.

Do you get like that before a concert, ever? I very rarely get THIS WORKED UP, but I would always accumulate moderate pre-show nerves, especially ones that I was going to solo. People will tell you that after you do it for awhile, you get used to it, but those people must be way more numb inside than me because I never got used to it, although I was always OK once I got inside the venue and staked out a spot. But man, those moments leading up to that were stressful and semi-sickening.

But this one…this was so different. I never thought I would get to see Taemin in real life, and I know I keep saying “Taemin Taemin Taemin” like he’s the Marsha of SuperM, and I do feel bad about that, because SuperM is dope for real and even if he wasn’t in it, I still would have got tickets to this show. But Taemin. I would pay the price I did even just to see him walk out on the stage and wave for a minute and leave. Just to know that I was in the same state as him, the same building, under the same roof, breathing the same air. He is just such a brilliant artist and I go on about him so much on here because I think everyone should know about him!

After scoping out the venue, we decided to get an early lunch even though food was the last thing on my mind which happens very rarely so you know I had it bad. Come back later for a LUNCH REVIEW. Annyeong.

 

Nov 162019
 

Tomorrow night, I will finally be in the same room as Lee Taemin, under the same roof, BREATHING THE SAME AIR. This has been my dream for quite some time now and while I’d have preferred to see him with SHINee or solo, seeing him with the other 6 members of SuperM is just as wonderful and I feel so grateful for this opportunity!

I’ve been trying to not binge on SuperM in the days leading up to the concert — this is hard considering I follow a ton of SHINee & Taemin accounts on Instagram plus the Taemin hashtag so my feed is full of videos from the shows that already happened this week and it’s killing me not to watch them! But I want to be surprised! I don’t want to know what else is going to happen in addition to the SuperM songs but I do know that there will be at least one Taemin solo and it doesn’t matter WHAT song it is, I am going to lose my goddamn mind.

I usually have a playlist of all his performances on the TV for background noise when Janna is over here visiting and she has even admitted to getting distracted by his mesmerizing (OMG I had to look up that spelling, I am really suffering) moves and vocals. He is really so much more than just “Kpop.” He is a dancing genius, and his voice is so distinct.

We were watching some of his live performances last night, and through tears I blurted out, “Taemin’s voice is like the sizzle from the flames of the fire you set to painful memorabilia.” Henry gave me the “okayyyyyy” sneer, but I stand by this comparison. His sultry vocal husk is warm, cathartic, satisfying.

Other things I have compared Taemin’s voice to:

  • the fog that covers the road on a late October night while you’re driving with a date through the woods to a haunted hayride;
  • an opulent, ridiculously expensive rich old lady’s shawl from the 1920s, mauve with various elements of silk, crushed velvet and lace. Delicate, but will keep you warm while making you feel pretty.

So, in honor of finally seeing this beautiful artist tomorrow night, I would like to share some of my favorite live solo performances of his and I really think everyone should watch them because he is A DREAM.

“Rise” is in my Top 3 favorite Taemin songs and if I ever got to watch him perform this in real life, I might not survive. It’s one of those times where a song truly transcends language – the first time I heard it, I obviously had no idea what he was singing about, but my heart and brain knew to be moved to tears. This song. This damn song.

It took a minute for “Artistic Groove” to really hit me, but once my mind caught up, I couldn’t stop listening to it and watching every single music show performance of it. The choreo and his sweet baby angel vocals are like a baseball bat to my knees. He is really really putting out some sick 1980s jazz vibes and no one else comes close to matching this! So really, we need to stop calling Taemin “kpop.”

I watched this Music Bank performance approximately 87,000 times during November 2017 and I now associate Thanksgiving with Taemin’s glorious hips. I mean….But in all honestly, this was the song that REALLY MADE MY EARS PERK UP to his unique, smoky voice and who needs turkey when you can just fill up on Taemin’s vocal feast. Keep the mashed potatoes, give me more pelvic pops. I mean, velvet vocals.

YOUNG TAEMIN. This song makes me feel like I’m in high school again, falling asleep to Quiet Storm on WAMO after talking to MY FRIST LOVE JUSTIN on the phone (sorry Henry). I made this comparison once and Henry was like, “THE FUCK” but Taemin’s voice in this song reminds me a bit of Anita Baker. There, I said it, and I will defend it.

“Day & Night” WAS SO UNDERRATED AND UNDERHYPED. Why did so many people seem to sleep on this song?! When I was looking for this video on YouTube, I saw a comment that said so many general kpop fans pass Taemin by, but all of the other idols gather around the stage to watch him record these music show performances. He is a living legend among his peers, you guys.

This was my first favorite Taemin solo song, and I know for damn sure I have posted the actual MV and various live stages of this because I love the dance so much, but this one really shatters that misconception that “kpop idols can’t sing.” Um, plus the end where he takes off his jacket.

OK, I could do this all day but I’ll wrap it up with this medley that Taemin showcased at the 2016 MAMA Awards. I honestly can’t watch him dance to “Goodbye” without silently crying. I am obsessed with people who can express such strong emotions just by moving their body, and Taemin pretty much pens an entire romance novel with one goddamn hip swivel, how does he get away with doing this to us?!

BONUS! Here is Henry’s favorite live performance of Taemin!

I wanted Henry to write two sentences — JUST TWO — about why he chose this video but he’s being a dumb moron about it, and all he will say is that he likes Taemin’s full, plump lips.

So on that note, please enjoy these beautiful performance art pieces from my beloved Lee Taemin.  <3

Oct 262019
 

I’ve been counting down the days for G-Dragon’s military discharge, well, since February 27, 2018 when he went in. Haha. I knew that I wanted to do something to celebrate, but that aside from Janna and those two that live with me, I probably wouldn’t be able to get anyone to join me. Lame!

But then last month, my work friend Margie was showing me pictures of cookies that her daughter Shannon made and they were so GOOD. Shannon went to school for this and is skilled at cake and cookie decorating, so then the antique oil lamp above my head lit up and I yelled, “COULD SHE MAKE G-DRAGON COOKIES?”

Margie shrugged and said, “Probably. I could ask her.”

So I ran to my desk and found an image for her to base the cookies off of, and Shannon came back and said YES.

And this is how it started: a way to drum up some business for Margie’s daughter while also celebrating G-Dragon, because what better place to have a party for him than at THE OFFICE where people could be forced to join in!?

So what started out as 2 dozen G-Dragon cookies to be causally laid out on the snack table at work turned into Henry making “G” and “D” cookies and also the Peaceminusone (GD’s clothing line) one-petal-missing daisy cookies.

And then I needed to make GD photocards for my co-workers. And a “Welcome Back” sign. I managed to find the leftover sheets of craft foam that we used in 2007 for Chooch’s first birthday invitations, and while I was cutting out letters, I decided that Henry should go to the party store and grab a “G” and “D” balloon because that would make it look cooler and also I didn’t feel like cutting out more letters.

Then I was like, “WE SHOULD ALSO GO TO THE ASIAN MARKET AND GET KOREAN BEVERAGES” and Henry was like, “WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY” like I had just hired some goon to baseball bat his knees or something.

Basically what I’m saying is that, in typical Erin-fashion, it turned into a Thing.

During one of my order-barking phone calls, Henry mumbled that this was almost as involved as the Pie Party which I opted to stop having because “they’re too involved.”

“I don’t care! Our king—”

“—YOUR king,” Henry calmly cut in.

“—is coming back and this has to be perfect!”

And then Henry gently reminded me that it’s not like he’s ever going to know we did this but I don’t care. I have so much love for G-Dragon, his music pulled me out of a dark place, and I like doing things like this! I also thought it would be a fun thing for my co-workers, even though they’re not into Kpop, to end the week with some treats and frivolity.

Henry spent Thursday night baking the rest of the cookies, and then we took them to the office, along with all the drinks, because there was no way I was going to be able to carry all that stuff on the trolley. Plus, I had some various memorabilia to take in as well.

I woke up extra early yesterday morning and got to work an entire hour early so that I could start decorating. Marlene, who works an earlier shift, was like, “Oh hello, what the hell?” and then I had to explain to her what was going on and she was like, “……….” but she happily helped Margie blow up the G and D balloons and made sure everyone knew it all day long!

When Henry was at the store procuring said balloons, he texted me: Gold or silver?

I thought it was pretty clear but I texted back, “Gold for our king.”

“Your king,” Henry replied.

As I was spreading everything out on the table, Margie was just like, “Wow, OK…” because I might have failed to mentioned that this had morphed into a Big Thing in my head and I needed to execute it exactly as my visions showed or I would never be able to live with myself.

This is what it’s like being a Leo.

DID YOU KNOW GD IS A LEO TOO??

I even wore my special Lip Service dragon blazer that I bought when I was 18 and kept for 22 years even though it didn’t fit me for 20 of them. Thank you, Jillian Michaels, for helping me fit into it again or else this day wouldn’t have been as elaborate!

Margie let me borrow one of her sunflowers to put in the empty G-Dragon iced tea bottle (BIGBANG used to be the spokespeople for a Chinese brand of tea called Nongfu Spring and I went crazy trying to collect them all, you have no idea) and I put my GD heads-on-sticks in the other bottle. Then I filled my GD bowl with Korean peanut balls (such a great snack!), which I made Henry buy specifically so I had something to put in my GD bowl.

Oh, and I brought in my GD painting too!

These are the Peaceminusone daisies — icing cookies is hard and I hate it!

After an hour, I was satisfied with the spread, so I sent out the department email letting everyone know that there were cookies in celebration of GD’s military discharge. I purposely left Glenn off the email because he’s mean to me about these things and kept yelling, “No one cares!” every time he heard me at Margie’s desk talking about it.

Each photocard had some information about GD on the back and I was super pleased to see that they were mostly gone by the end of the day!

It was so much fun watching people’s reactions, especially the ones who I don’t talk to much because they had NO IDEA what the fuck was going on. The one guy was like, “Wait, what is kpop?” and I was like, “OMG LET ME TEACH YOU, GRASSHOPPER!” I saw him come back to the table later, laugh to himself, and then grab a cookie.

I was moderately concerned that our boss would be not thrilled that I did this without asking her, but I swear to god it wasn’t going to be all this at first and the it just spiraled and by then I was in too deep and didn’t want to say anything to her. But then Jeannie walked in and was like “OH MY GOD” and I was like, “Shit…..is it too much?” because this is the table that our boss uses for her snacks and I totally usurped her territory.

“No, it’s actually really impressive,” Jeannie said. And then she reminded me that I have done way more questionable things in the past without getting in trouble, so she thought I should be fine.

“You mean like when I had my desk decorated like a serial killer’s office for an entire month and someone complained that it was a hostile work environment?”

“Yeah, that’s one example,” Jeannie laughed, and then walked away without taking a cookie or a photocard!!

Guys seriously, the piece de resistance. Shannon did such an amazing job! Hilariously, no one would touch anything on the table for a good hour after I sent the email because they didn’t want to mess it up. This platter of Jiyongs (GD’s real name) looked so adorable, and they tasted even better!

I wanted the G and D cookies to have Asian flavors, so Henry went with black sesame shortbread and matcha (with white chocolate chips) shortbread. They were OK but honestly their only purpose was to display his initials, lol.

Nate was really into it.

And the our boss arrived and I was like, “OH GOD OH GOD” but after a second, she just started cracking up and then she said, “I can’t stand it” and went to her office. However, she did go and tell Glenn to come look at it and I was like, “NO SUE! HE’S NOT INVITED!” UGH!

Of course he happily took a cookie and a pear juice, but I made him pose for this picture as payment. What a jerk.

Into it.

Later in the afternoon, Megan took some “mingling” pictures so I could prove that people cared, lol.

I got some texts and emails throughout the day from co-workers who were either off or working from home and they were actually sad to be missing this! It warmed my heart. I love GD so much and I know he’ll never know that some random broad in America made her coworkers celebrate his military discharge, but I was so excited about it and I cannot just sit alone with excitement exploding out of my heart — I need to share it with people and I feel super appreciative that I work in a place where this can happen.

Even the mail room lady—Betty—was like, “OK WHAT’S GOING ON HERE” and then me, Carrie, and Marlene filled her in and she was skeptical at first because she knows I’m the girl with the weird foreign candy and doesn’t trust me (she said she wants to know where I get my candy so she can give it to her grandkids so that they won’t like candy anymore, lol) but the more she looked at the GD table, the more intrigued she became.

“I’m going to look him up when I get back to my floor,” she said.

But then came down later and asked, “What is that man’s name? Johnny D?” and there was a unison of “G-Dragon!”s through our quadrant. So she was like, “OK, I’m going to remember that. G-Dragon.” And then as she rounded the corner, I heard her walking away, chanting, “G-Dragon. G-Dragon. G-DRAGON. G-DRAGON.”

Jana came out of her office and said, “That was my favorite part of today!”

It really was super adorable.

Betty came back down later and decided she was ready to take a cookie and a melon Milkis. Then she was like, “And who painted that?” pointing to the G-Dragon portrait.

“I did,” I said. “That’s how much I love him.” So now Betty is basically my manager, even though I’m retired from art.

You guys, I love my co-workers. Even when Missy was like, “I like that song with Halsey, is that BIGBANG?” committing the biggest party foul, even bigger than when Sue invited Glenn! When Missy said that, Carrie was like, “Hnnnnnggghhh” because she knew I’d get bent out of shape, lol.

Megan and me! Also, I realized 3/4 of the way through the day that I never changed out of my tennis shoes, way to violate the dress code, Erin.

Here I am with Carrie, holding my G-Dragon bowl. I’m just really proud of it, OK?!

I don’t know if you can tell, but I was also wearing a DG pin and my red bull clip that came with my VIP package for his 2017 solo tour!

Speaking of, let’s pause and watch this video Henry took of the highlight of my whole life:

I was two heads back from the barrier during this and my legs shook so bad that Henry had to take my phone and record for me. I was a MESS.

I had the photocards displayed on my BIGBANG candy tray that I made and that MY CAT DREW BROKE so now it looks like shit because Henry glued it back together with weird, gummy glue.

I guess Glenn feels dumb now since people clearly cared!

All of my favorite G-Dragons. I loved his “FXXK It”-era green hair image the best.

Oh, and if it was any wonder, I was also wearing my GD socks yesterday.

Then last night, I watched all the live streams of Jiyong’s official discharge and felt ALL THE EMOTIONS (I’m crying right now thinking about it). I don’t know what the future holds for BIGBANG with Seungri retired from the industry and by that I mean chased out for something that wasn’t even proven but we won’t get into that here because it makes me so angry, and TOP alluding to the fact that he no longer wants to perform. But Daesung and Taeyang get out of the military next month, so we’ll see. If anyone can save BIGBANG and YG Entertainment, it’s G-Dragon.

I wish I could have been there. Welcome back, King!

Oct 162019
 

Hello and welcome to my love story about Millie and Steve, two rollercoasters that the general public may know as Millennium Force and Steel Vengeance. I will try to keep this PG, only because I couldn’t get Fabio to pose for the cover.

I’ve always been super into amusement parks (and county fairs until I almost died at one) but even though I like roller coasters, I never really considered myself an ENTHUSIAST. Then I rode T-Express at Korea’s Everland and, for a wooden coaster, that thing impressed me more than any crazy-ass steel multi-inversion Jojo-rolled contraption ever has. It made me want to seek out other crazy wooden coasters, because up until then I equated wooden coasters with rickety old back-breakers. I started binge-watching rollercoaster videos on YouTube, becoming more and more obsessed. That’s how I started learning about the different manufacturers, but the one that stuck out the most to me was Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC). I was fascinated by the way they take old, rough woodies and refurbish them into these head-spinning feats of engineering magic. The first one I got to ride was Lightning Rod at Dollywood and it was a game changer for me, I have been on a mission ever since to ride all of the RMCs. I am an RMC fan girl all the way.

Look. When I find something that I like, I don’t just LIKE IT: I LIVE IT, I BREATHE IT, I DREAM IT. And, I watch YouTube videos until my Roku crashes, I read Wikipedia and personal blogs, I search Instagram hashtags, I adjust our budget so we can do weekend amusement park road trips (STOP GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE, HENRY – WE DON’T NEED FOOD WE NEED COASTER CREDITS. THIS IS THE GREATEST DIET EVER). It becomes my driving force, the thing that gets me through the work week and gives me something to anticipate.

I never had much of a burning desire to go to Cedar Point until last year, when RMC refurbished the old Mean Streak into Steel Vengeance. So when we finally went a few weeks ago, I was practically salivating on myself at the thought of riding this bad boy.

Because this coaster is still new-ish and world class to those who know some things about the coaster scene, the line for this was between 90-250 minutes all weekend. We kept putting it off and putting it off, but finally, around 8:00pm on our first day there, I told Chooch, “Look, if we want a night ride on this bad boy, it’s now or never, bud.”

I think it said it was an 80 minute wait when we got in line, because by that point, all the haunt attractions had opened so most of the people in the park were in line for those things. Well, 80 minutes was a lie. They must have changed the sign to 120 minutes as soon as we walked past, because we stood in that queue—which winds around underneath the tracks so you’re like, majorly cut off from the rest of civilization when you’re in that line—for so long that I started to forget what Henry looked like (he opted out) which is either good or bad depending on what kind of day I’m having when you ask me.

Luckily, they have TVs in the line, so we got to watch clips of horror movies, fight with each other over trivia, and watch random music videos while eavesdropping on people around us playing Heads Up (this one girl was SO LOUD and also extremely stupid—some of the things she couldn’t figure out were maddening to us bystanders). There was a mom in front of us with her elementary school-age son and an older boy who I think was in college and also may be have been a Spanish exchange student? Look, we had a lot of time to spy on people.

So yeah, after standing in line for…I lost track but I want to say it was about 90 minutes, then it happened.

I will never forget it because we had made it to the last part of the serpentine path, all the twisty-windy parts of the queue were behind us, and we were finally on the lone path to the station. (Granted, that lone path still had some turns, a metal detector, and steps, but still!) We were standing right next to the giant billboard that had the Steel Vengeance character on it along with all the record-breaking stats.

This is where we were standing when the dreaded THIS RIDE IS CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE announcement came out of some hidden hell-speakers and we could barely hear it over the loud roar of idle conversation around us, but it didn’t matter because we KNEW.

“Huh, that train didn’t have anyone in it,” the guy behind us noted as an empty train soared past us. We were in the part of the line now that had an excellent view of the first drop.

Yeah no shit asshole, if you would stop talking about dumb video games for a second, you’d have heard the announcement! As people finally started to figure out what was going on, a small exodus happened and because of this, we kept moving further up in line.

Chooch and I kept waiting for the other to cry uncle and suggest to leave the line, because neither of us wanted to make that call. All I kept thinking was that it would be our luck that it would start running again after we got out of line.

Long story short (LOL yeah like my stories are ever short), we opted to stay in line and after about 30-45 minutes, the damn thing started running again and everyone cheered and fuck if it didn’t feel like we were REALLY A PART OF SOMETHING, you know? Like, the Donner Party.

No, not the Donner Party.

Maybe a hostage situation, though. But then the hostage guy ends up having a squirt gun so we can all laugh about it later as the popo haul his soiled ass away.

Something like that.

Anyway, we rationalized that we had moved up in line just as far as we would have if the ride hadn’t broken down, so it was all the same, really.

The ride attendant at the top of the steps was assigning people seats but we thought, Look, we stood in line for this long, what would it hurt to just ask if we could snag the back row?

So we asked.

And the broad was all, “Eh, sure go ahead.”

And we had the most epic, glorious, whirlwind night ride on what is now my TOP ROLLERCOASTER BAE OF ALL TIME. I’m not even going to try and describe it other than it whips you around with ungodly force and everything happens so fast that you can’t even wrap your mind around the logistics of it and then when you think you’ve gotten your bearings, you’re suddenly being lurched through an inversion that makes you feel like dish water being sucked down a drain, and then suddenly you’re back in the station, fingerbrushing knots out of your hair and looking at your riding companion like, “IS MY FACE IN ONE PIECE!?”

Chooch actually ran his hands through his hair and made this wild-eyed I’VE HAD AN EPIPHANY expression like he was about to convert to the Kabbalah or some shit, and honestly, I personally nearly wept.

It was that good.

I felt like Steel Vengeance had actually rescued me from a burning building or something and then, oh god, oh no, was I getting a crush on Steve?!

Meanwhile, Henry was sleeping on a bench like a regular old back-alley wino, just kidding, he was actually awake and not at all concerned even though we had been missing in action for two and a half hours and he had our phones so we had no way of telling him what was happening, but since this was Cedar Point, he assumed that the ride had broken down because that’s what rides do at Cedar Point. So I guess he probably just ate a bunch of soft pretzels and scrolled through Reddit on his phone, because somewhere along the way I didn’t pay enough attention to him and he turned into the type of person who loses himself in asinine threads of Internet memes. Coo-coo-cool.

We were just like, “O-M-G YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW FUCKING SICKENING THIS RIDE IS, HENRY! YOU MISSED OUT BIG TIME! GOOD LUCK SLEEPING IN THAT BED OF REGRET TODAY!”

The next day, Henry wanted to see if Steve was all that we made it out to be, but as you might be aware, our plans of getting in a morning ride on this bad boy before the crowds rushed in was dashed when Steve was closed during early entry.

And then he proceeded to be down for most of the day it seemed. We kept tracking him through the Cedar Point app and sprinted over to him as soon as the status changed to “open.” It said that the standby time was 45 minutes.

LIES. LIES LIES LIES.

We 100% stood in line for nearly as long as Chooch and I did the night before. This time, right as we shuffled past the Steve billboard thing, an announcement came on.

WE FROZE.

But it turned out that it was just a “slight delay” while they added another train.

We exhaled.

Not more than 10 minutes later, another announcement cut through the gaggles of groups engrossed in Heads Up and the weird mom and son who were arguing with each other the entire time they were in line.

IT WAS FUCKING DOWN AGAIN.

“You have to be fucking kidding me!” I cried dramatically. I could actually feel the synapses firing inside me and I imagined peeling my skin off and shooting into the air using nothing but the sheer force of my anger.

“You guys can leave, you’ve already ridden it,” Henry said calmly, but I noted a twitch in his ‘stache. “I’m invested at this point.”

Well, I wasn’t leaving! I had major FOMO just thinking about Henry riding Steve without me. So we all opted to stay in line. People started exiting in small waves. A ride attendant walked past us, en route to the entrance where a CLOSED sign needed to be erected (lol). “Just so you know, this isn’t just a small problem,” he monotoned to everyone within earshot. “It’s probably going to be at least an hour.”

We all exchanged looks. Even more people left, so we moved up significantly in line and shrugged.

Henry and Chooch argued about every single thing.

Arguing.

But then, less than 30 minutes later, they sent a test train. Everyone cheered. Then, they sent a fully-loaded train, and everyone REALLY CHEERED. The line started moving for real. Of course, they opened the Fast Lane right so loads of people filed through on that side and I was SO PISSED because the rest of us had demonstrated extreme levels of patience and endurance by waiting this out and Cedar Point could have rewarded us by at least keeping that line closed off for a few more minutes, goddammit.

I have never been the type of person who would stand in line for THAT LONG for a RIDE so I must really be thirsty for Steve and his wood. Henry and I snagged the back seat and as we buckled ourselves in, I yelled, “YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE THIS!” and he was just like, “WE WILL SEE ABOUT THAT” because Henry does not know how to have fun or display any sort of emotion aside from exhaustion, irritation, and disgust. Maybe envy whenever he sees someone wearing a better beverage t-shirt that him.

But when we hit the midcourse break run, he looked at me and mouthed, “WHAT THE FUCK” and I was like, “RIGHT?!!!?” Holy shit, this ride. It’s everything. I was so fucking annoyed every other hour during our weekend at Cedar Point, but THIS RIDE was redemption. I would go back to Cedar Point every fucking weekend and be jerked around by the shitty operations if I knew I could ride this at least once each time.

It’s that good.

It’s world class.

There is a reason why so many of the experts and enthusiasts rank this as #1.

I AM TEARING UP JUST THINKING ABOUT YOU, STEVE. WAIT FOR ME! I’LL BE BACK.

Meanwhile, Chooch’s favorite ride that weekend was actually Millie, a/k/a Millennium Force, though he said it was difficult to choose between the two. The first time we rode Millie, on our first day at Cedar Point, we had the back row and I experienced a pretty good greyout, to the point where I ran down the exit ramp in search of Henry, who had ridden on the train before ours, just to excitedly scream, “I GREYED OUT, DUDE!!!”

I have never greyed out on a ride before, and it was so awesome!

Millie is pretty fucking beautiful. My favorite things about her, aside from that wicked first drop, was the cool 1970s space-y soundtrack that plays in the station, and the killer views of Lake Erie that the lift hill offers. Honestly, for as many times as that park let me down that weekend, I can’t deny that the atmosphere is unbeatable. I mean, it’s not at DisneySea’s level of beauty, but it is pretty fucking close. Oh, and the ride operators on Millie were phenomenal. They were entertaining (on our second ride, one of the operators asked, “Who knows the manufacturer of this ride?” and Chooch and I screamed, “INTAMIN!” before anyone else could answer even though we knew there wasn’t a prize but we were born to be first, OK; the ride operator was like, “FRONT ROW GOT IT!” and we rode that wave for a good 45 minutes) and super efficient. They had three train ops down to a science.

Chooch and I had a good ride in the front row on our second day, but I think I preferred the back. We are definitely backseat riders for the most part, on most coasters, but I do really love front row at night. We unfortunately didn’t get any night rides on Millie, so clearly we have to go back at some point. Like, this weekend. OK, probably not this weekend. I think Henry will murder me with his eyeballs if I even ask, lol.

I think I actually might be in love with Steve. Sorry, Henry.

Chooch just ran by and I said, “Chooch is there anything you want to say about Millie?” and he said, “Uh yes!” in a way that I expected a saccharine sonnet to come wisping out of his mouth, but instead all he said was, “It was good.”

WOW. Just so you know, he teared up looking at it from the car window when we drove away, so.

Jul 072019
 

One of the biggest downsides to being a kpop fan (and avid kdrama-watcher) is that eventually your faves are going to have to enlist in the military, which is mandatory for Korean men regardless of celebrity status. Being American, this was maybe one of the biggest culture shocks when I started really deep-diving into all things Korea and while it’s a HUGE reminder that the Koreas are still technically at war with each other, it’s also refreshing to see that at the end of the day, make celebrities are still Korean citizens who are required to serve their country.

4/5 of BIGBANG have been in the military since 2018, but TOP was the first to enlist in 2017 so he actually was just discharged yesterday and friends, what a big fucking sigh of relief.

TOP is better than entire rap-lines of other groups put together and his talent transcends kpop and Korea entirely. FIGHT ME.

The Korean media is always seemingly routing against BIGBANG and loves to drag their name through the mud. And TOP had a big drug controversy shortly after enlisting. Allegedly, he had smoked pot at his home with a kpop trainee a few months before enlisting and “someone” narc’d on him later on, causing him to have to leave the military and go to court (marijuana is a big deal in Korea) and then he ended up in the hospital after taking too many pills so this is how stressful and high-pressure it is to be a celebrity in Korea. In America, no one would give a shit if they found out their fave was smoking! But it’s a different culture and as an American, who the fuck am I to judge.

Thankfully, TOP recovered and the military accepted him back as a civil servant, but his discharge date was pushed way back to make up for the time he missed. It was really sad and scary, not knowing what was going to happen to him and I was so afraid he was going to try and commit suicide.

Because of this, the korean media has been rabid about his discharge and a huge crowd of them surrounded the facility he had been assigned to, waiting for him to come out. What they didn’t know was that one of the BIGBANG fansites has arranged a secret meetup between VIPs and TOP, who snuck out through a back door, totally ditching the media, and arrived at the secret location where he greeted the special group of fans who were privy to this! I watched a bunch of videos of it and it was so fucking heartwarming!

My favorite Kpop group’s fandom did this. They came together in an intimate, organized manner, gave the man his space while showing him support and love at the same time. VIPs are so amazing.

Now that TOP is back, I hope he takes as much time for himself as he needs, plus some. And then when G-Dragon is discharged this fall, I hope the two of them pair up and deliver the biggest clapback that Kpop has ever seen.

Jun 292019
 

Thursday night, SOMETHING HAPPENED.

Chooch and I went to the CVS a few blocks away from our house. I walked, and he rode his bike, which was whatever except that I got stuck carrying the bags (we bought a big jug of water plus some bottles of iced tea so it was HEAVY) because he was all, “Oh, I can’t carry those on my bike, sorry bro” and then pedaled off into the sunset.

Also, our least favorite cashier* was the only one working at that time so Chooch and I couldn’t play our desperate game of “PLEASE LET US GET THE OTHER CASHIER” where it’s like a secret race that the two cashiers don’t know they’re playing and I fucking swear our least favorite cashier ALWAYS WINS because some asshole in the other line has to start disputing prices or something, ugh. But on this night, the lady in front of us was like a verified meth head who had to stand with her legs staggered in horse stance just to stay upright, so she actually made Laverne seem normal.

*(I call her Laverne because she looks like someone named Laverne who lives in a trailer park but now I call her 1212 because one time I was there with Henry and our total was $12.12 and the way she said “twelve twelve” was so monotone and Laverne-ish that it just took a life of its own. I was fortunate enough to be clandestinely recording this and I thought it was greatest thing ever and kept using the hashtag #1212 when texting Henry after this monumental occasion and I would randomly blurt out “twelve twelve” in conversation until finally Henry asked me why I was doing that and WOW I GUESS THIS ONLY HAD AN IMPACT ON MY OWN LIFE, SORRY THAT I THOUGHT WE HAD SHARED SOMETHING SPECIAL TOGETHER IN WITNESSING LAVERNE SAYING OUR TOTAL WAS 1212.)

None of this is important to the main story, but I just had to share.

Anyway, I had to walk home alone in the dark and it was also starting to rain so that was really awesome, and the bags of beverage were ripping my arms out of their sockets, but that’s fine. I’m fine. You do you, Chooch.

Right when I got to our block, I noticed a shape looming under a tree. I jumped a bit when I realized it was a man, shuddering and murmuring to himself, but I didn’t stick around long enough to get a better look, figuring it was one of the people who work at the mental house on our street, because sometimes they stand on that corner to smoke cigarettes.

But just then, Chooch came zooming up to me on his bike.

“DID YOU SEE TOURETTE’S?” he panted.

Now, Tourette’s is this older gentleman who has been carousing around Brookline for as long as I’ve lived here. He actually used to live a few houses up from us but moved years and years ago, though he’s still somewhere in town because we freaking see him numerous times a week. I call him Tourette’s, which is terrible, I know, because he is always walking alone and blurting out swears. Like, he will often walk down our street, shaking his fist at all of the houses, screaming, “YOU MOTHERFUCKERS.” One night a few weeks ago, we heard commotion outside and I was like, “Oh god, is it a fight” but I looked outside, exhaled in relief, and said, “No, it’s just Tourette’s. Everything’s fine!”

If you’ve been around on this blog for awhile, you may remember my People of Brookline postcard series – he was on one of them!

Lately, I have been making some headway with him. For instance, sometimes I will pass him in the mornings when I’m on my way to the trolley and I’ll say hello, at which point he will say, “Good morning good morning good morning” in a sing-song way and it fills me with joy. Sometimes he’s even been on the trolley with me and we got off at the same stop downtown! I wonder what he does downtown!??!

So now Chooch and his friend Marky have been making a point of saying hello to him too and it seems to have been going well….

OK, where was I…Chooch asked me if I saw Tourettes. I said no, I hadn’t seen him, no one had passed me on my super sad, solo walk home from CVS.

And then Chooch just started blurting out frantic words and what I was able to get from it was that he was riding his bike home with no bags from CVS when he noticed Tourette’s walking up the sidewalk by our house, and Tourette’s wasn’t paying attention so Chooch had to veer around him. While doing so, Chooch decided to also say hello to him, since they’re like bros now or whatever.

However, since Tourette’s head was up in the motherfucking clouds, Chooch’s salutation startled him.

“WHAT THE FUCK! ARE YOU INSANE?! ARE YOU CRAZY?!” Tourette’s allegedly shouted loud enough that Henry, who was probably in the middle of erotically masticating a banana, looked out the window to see what was going on—or as we say here in Pittsburgh, TO NEB.

I just asked Chooch what he said in response and he said, “Nothing, I just rode away like ‘wtf, no you’re crazy.'”

Meanwhile, Psycho Asscrack was outside of his house (THEY ARE IN THE PROCESS OF MOVING, AND SO WE REJOICE) and as Chooch was putting his bike away, Psycho Asscrack glared at him and then asked Tourette’s if he was OK and Tourette’s hollered that he was FINE.

“Psycho Asscrack sided with Tourette’s!?” I yelled with faux incredulity.

“I don’t care!” Chooch cried. “I don’t want that asshole taking my side, anyway!”

That’s when I realized that the shadow-shape I saw under the tree must have been Tourette’s, trying to calm down after BIG SCARY CHOOCH startled him by audaciously saying hi.

For something that I didn’t even witness with my own two eyes, this whole thing is relentlessly hilarious to me and I almost fell to my knees in laugh-tears when I was telling Glenn and Todd at work on Friday.

“You can never move,” Glenn said.

I KNOW! There is too much free entertainment right in front of my house.

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.)