It’s the year of the rat, and with any luck we can treat this as the official start of the year instead of January 1, because my year began well enough and then started sloping gently downhill after the first week. 2020 hasn’t been particularly convincing so far, but the year of the rat got off to a solid start with the help of one of my favorite cooking blogs. If you don’t follow them already, gtfo my blog and go take a look at them because they’re seriously amazing.
In case anyone is wondering, this was the crispy scallion ginger salmon I was planning to cook for New Year’s dinner for the better part of two weeks:
And this was the I-Really-Really-REALLY-Want-Fried-Noodles-So-I’ll-Make-Those-Too-Because-This-Is-My-Dinner-Goddammit gai see chow mein that got added to the menu at about 11 a.m. yesterday morning because I make good life decisions:
Look, I can’t help it. They were delicious. They wanted to be made. My mom loves these noodles so much that she was stealing them by the handful and eating them straight off the platter before I’d even put the sauce on them. I have a jar of homemade chili oil in the fridge that goes really well with fried noodles and needs to be eaten. I’m Cantonese. I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY FOR MYSELF.
I was going to call this post 2019 Social Round-Up, but I Went Out and Didn’t Die seemed like a much more appropriate title. Picspam and my 2019 social calendar are behind the cut.
As much as I complained about 2019, it was a year of firsts. I co-launched the first blog I’ve ever been able to keep up with (more or less); I drew my first journal comic; I acquired a phone larger than my hand; I went to Awesome Con, which was the first (and so far only) convention I’ve ever attended in my life; I learned to cook rice noodles; I stayed at a resort; and I leased a new car for the first time in my life after driving my poor first car to literal pieces. (And, yes, I still feel terrible about that.)
Other things that didn’t get written about but still happened anyway:
As should be fairly obvious by now, I take a lot of pictures of my food. I was going back through my photos yesterday in search of photos for this post and found this photo from April, when I bought a ham and cheese calzone for lunch and then proceeded to do literally the most Asian thing imaginable.
To all the people who might be tempted to start bitching in the comments about how I’m perpetuating stereotypes: Fuck off. I have zero regrets. The other designers had ordered Chinese, one of them didn’t want her rice, I adopted it, it told me it wished to be eaten with my calzone, I have very limited willpower, and things just kinda snowballed.
Baby’s First Road Trip
I drove Prince Hector up to Boston for an interview that was ultimately unsuccessful, but still gave me an excuse to take a nice two-day trip. I would’ve flown, but ticket prices were sky high and I didn’t want to spend that kind of money getting to an interview for a job I might not get, which in hindsight turned out to be a very good decision because I didn’t get the job. On the bright side, I got to stay in this sweet hotel:
That bed was amazing and I could’ve lived in it all day :3 The drive made me intensely grateful I was making the trip in Hector instead of Veloce, because odds are she would’ve fallen apart on the road and not even duct tape would’ve saved her. I’ll admit I had some worries about Hector’s mileage, but my concerns were based on observations made while I was driving him around the ‘burbs, which automatically makes them slightly suspect, cus Little Boy Blue was feeling really, really good. We made the trip with only two stops for gas, and he got over 400 miles with each tank. It made me want to take him on road trips more often.
I take too many pictures of my dog.
I remembered I have panda slippers! I bought these last January
in a fit of insanity and occasionally remember to wear them.
Apple Owns My Soul
After spending years telling people I didn’t have the money to upgrade, I hit an Adobe ceiling when my 2011 laptop announced that it would commit ritual suicide if I attempted to install Adobe XD on it. This was about the point where I stopped thinking I don’t have the money and started thinking Fuck, I hope I have the money. It turned out I actually did have enough money for a computer with the specs I wanted, so I ended up buying my first desktop right before Thanksgiving!
I grew up with a desktop, but this one was particularly exciting because (1) I haven’t bought a new computer since 2012; (2) this is the first desktop I’ve ever actually chosen for myself, and the first one I’ve ever owned; and (3) LOOK HOW PRETTY IT IS ASD;JKFJFIGHHHHHH IT BLEW A HUGE HOLE IN MY BANK ACCOUNT AND I HAD TO SPLIT IT UP BETWEEN TWO CARDS BUT SERIOUSLY LOOK AT THE PRETTYYYYYYYY. Apple may have more shortcomings than I currently have time to list but holy fuck they sure know how to make a gorgeous computer. They get mega bonus points for the super nice associate who sold me said computer and even arranged for someone to carry it out to my car. (This turned out to be unnecessary because I dragged a friend along for the ride and she was able to carry the box for me, but I appreciated the extra effort nonetheless.)
Being Social Doesn’t Kill You
Blogging about it, on the other hand, probably does. I swear I was going to write about these things as they happened but then, I don’t know, the sun got in my eyes or something so I kept pushing them off and more writeable events kept cropping up and long story short they’ll all have to make do with a quick summary now cus I sure af don’t remember all the details anymore. This all ties into my 2020 goal of blogging once a week, which I really hope I can keep, but the year is young so I suppose we’ll see.
May: Popo’s 90th
My popo (grandmother) turned 90 this year, so we all flew out to LA for the party!
The party was actually a weekend-long affair, because Popo parties way harder than I do. On the first day we had a huge Chinese seafood feast, on the second we had a dim sum feast. There was one cake for each day, one chocolate and one strawberry, and they were both enormous. The dim sum and the post-lunch entertainment triggered a massive food coma that almost put me and my cousins to sleep at the table, after which we all escaped to the kitchen and ended up putting away the leftovers and serving the cake. Hey, at least we made ourselves useful. ?
Also my cousin Lisa and I totally thought we’d have an easy job cutting up the second cake but quickly found ourselves thwarted by huge tracts of strawberries which is why our entire family could probably hear us yelling “WHY ARE THERE SO. MANY. STRAWBERRIES?!” as we butchered the cake. It was not beautiful. Sorry, Popo. ?
July: The Try Guys
I’ve noticed that I’ve started going to shows a lot more as I’ve gotten older. This is a very good thing!!! I couldn’t have cared less about concerts and such when I was younger, but over the last few years I’ve gone to shows put on by Ray Chen, TwoSet Violin, and Tessa Lark. They were all amazing, and I plan to go to even more shows because they’re so much fun. Bucket list show goals: Chloé Trevor, Esther Abrami, and Sumina Studer. Of course, this is all tangential to the point, which is that I got to see the Try Guys live.
I am a Try Guys junkie. I’m not even embarrassed. I read their book and signed up for their Patreon, so it went without saying that I bought tickets to their first tour almost the second I found out it was coming to DC. I even managed to corrupt my friend Heather, who agreed to come to the show with me but got more invested after learning that their logo is a triceratops. After bingeing so many of their videos, it was almost surreal to see them on a stage.
A Few of My Favorite Things
The show was amazing but it was also six months ago, so here’s some quick highlights:
- Keith threw fried chicken into the audience. No, really. I didn’t catch any and it didn’t seem particularly sanitary but it sure made for a great segment!!!
- They reenacted their 50 Shades fanfiction video, which was A M A Z I N G. In the video they substituted “sandwiches” for inappropriate vocabulary, but here they asked the audience for a new keyword, which ended up being “ping pong.” The number of dirty ping pong jokes they came up with was pretty impressive.
- They invited an audience member onstage and played Marry Fuck Kill, with Ned acting as the game host. I don’t remember who got picked for what, but I’m pretty sure she chose to marry Zach, fuck Eugene, and kill Keith. Upon learning she’d axed Keith, she ran over to him and started making hacking motions. The guys said this was the first city where someone’s actually acted out the kill portion, to which I say well duh it’s DC we’re fucking crazy ?
- Eugene had a song and dance highlighting gay icons throughout history, and it was A. MA. ZING. Holy crap I wish I could watch that as a video it was so well done ?❤️
- They had a disco ball.
Final Thoughts + Miscellaneous Pics
I feel like I’m really easily pleased by live shows, but I genuinely enjoyed the Legends of the Internet show. It had a wonderful mix of new material and video references, which made it a lot of fun for both new Tryceratops like Heather and dorks like me, and, while it was more enjoyable if you caught all the references to their videos, you didn’t have to watch them beforehand to understand the show.
Oh, and the triceratops countdown and the colored smoke? Brilliant.
Yes, I suckered out and bought a tie-dyed T-shirt.
September: The Piano Guys
This one was a lucky coincidence, because Heather happened to see that the Piano Guys were coming to Wolf Trap and also happened to remember I was a fan. We learned about the show early enough that we were able to get amazing seats in the box.
- They opened with their Let It Go/Vivaldi mash-up!!!
- They played a number of songs I hadn’t listened to, including Peponi and A Thousand Years.
- They talked about their experience air-lifting a grand piano onto the Great Wall of China. After all that effort they didn’t just want to play a Beach Boys song, so they asked their sixteen kids, who rolled their eyes and said, “Dad, this is a no-brainer! You have to play Kung Fu Panda!”
- They started their channel in an effort to promote their piano store. As of the time of the show, they’d racked up millions of views and subscribers but still hadn’t sold a single piano.
- Steven (the cellist) had an AMAAAAAAAzing lead-in to Rockelbel’s Canon where he complained about the cello part of Pachelbel’s Canon and then fell asleep while playing it, while Jon (the pianist) had a grand time carrying the melody omg I really thought I was going to die laughing ? Steven says the cello part is boring because Pachelbel died after writing the first eight notes and whoever finished the piece just copied and pasted those eight notes for sixteen pages, which sounds about right to me. This was hands-down my favorite part of the entire show, and it’s still the part I remember the best.
- They played a Jackson Five song on a talk box and it was like they’d come straight out of the 70s.
- For the encore they played a mash-up between Viva La Vida and Love Story, which are two songs I would never have thought of putting together. I’m still laughing at the people who left before the encore, cus y’all seriously missed out. Viva La Vida has never been my favorite song but it was infectious and I couldn’t not sing along with the rest of the crowd.
- Jon played the piano upside down. I LOVE when people play the piano upside down.
I really hope the guys come back to DC/VA sometime soon. Their show was hilarious, loving, and deeply inspiring, and now I want to practice. I also seem to recall that that particular week was rather difficult, though I don’t remember which projects were ruining my life at that time, and this show was exactly what I needed. (It also happened to fall on the same weekend I drove off to Boston for my interview. Go figure.)
Halloween and Christmas: Spoons, Toons & Booze
A lot of my best events seem to happen when I have Heather in tow and I’m not mad ? For Halloween she heard about Spoons, Toons & Booze, an event where you literally show up in your sweatpants, eat cereal, and watch cartoons with a bunch of other thirty-year-old children. I’m not even joking.
The show was held in the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse, which has an ingenious set-up:
You guys. They had little tables with COMPUTER CHAIRS in place of traditional seats. This meant that (1) the seats were comfortable and (2) you could scoot them in any direction if somebody with a big head sat in front of you. I cannot overemphasize what a huge improvement this is over traditional theater seating. There was a full cereal bar with lots of different kinds of milks and cereals, many of them Halloween-themed, and you could also order real food, which we did.
They even gave me a Ring Pop lmfao I haven’t seen these things for years!!! One of the hosts threw this to me (don’t remember why, think it might’ve been for answering a trivia question?) but it fell way short, causing him to wonder if there’s a correlation between being bad at sports and hosting a cartoon show for grown-ups in your mid-thirties. For the record, no, I don’t see a correlation. ???
They also had a very long list of cartoon titles, which were all the cartoons they had on hand. Cartoon selection was random: audience members competed in trivia games, and whoever won got to pick what we watched. I was pleasantly surprised by the cartoons; they weren’t cartoons I would’ve chosen to watch growing up and some of them I had never heard of, but most of them were fun and easier to appreciate as an adult. We liked the Halloween show so much that we went back two months later for the Christmas one.
- Doug Halloween special
- Freakazoid Halloween special
- Cow and Chicken Halloween special
- The Powerpuff Girls Halloween special
- Rugrats Hanukkah special
- Hey Arnold! Christmas special
- Johnny Bravo Christmas special
- X-Men Christmas special
I’ll admit it. I liked Cow and Chicken. Heather said it made her brain hurt, which is fair, but I grew up with brothers and tend to have a higher tolerance for dumb slapsticky shows which is why I was really sad that nobody picked Invader Zim ? Freakazoid was a nice surprise too, even though I’d never heard of it, and Hey Arnold! went surprisingly deep with a helicopter scene lifted from Miss Saigon.
One Tiny Gripe
I can’t mince this. The X-Men Christmas special was awful. To be completely fair, I don’t know X-Men that well and I don’t have any background on Storm’s relationship with the Morlocks or on the Morlock people in general, so my analysis lacks the context of the rest of the series, which I now have no interest in watching because the Christmas episode was truly terrible. tl;dr: Jubilee drags Wolverine Christmas shopping, Jean Grey and Gambit squabble in the kitchen, and Storm is apparently Queen of the Sewer People. Meanwhile Heather and I were watching all this with increasing disbelief and going WHAT THE HELL YOU SAID THIS EPISODE WAS GOOD ?
Though the episode begins with Jubilee’s quest to experience a merry Christmas, it quickly turns into a study of the Plight of the Sewer People, who appear to be living in the sewers for lack of competent leadership. Storm, whom they regard as their leader after she defeated their previous leader in combat, has no interest in either them or their plight. In her absence they are led by Callisto, who deeply resents Storm for fairly obvious reasons. As I say, everything I know about Morlocks could fit in a saltshaker, so it could be I’m completely misreading this. The episode didn’t explain who the Morlocks are or why they’re so dependent on Storm when she obviously doesn’t care about them, but I kinda got the impression that they had been at least mildly antagonistic earlier in the series, which would account for how Storm treats them.
Whatever the case, the Morlocks get caught robbing an ambulance and lead Storm, Jubilee, and Wolverine to their sewer lair, where one of their children is fatally ill. Storm suddenly realizes that the Morlock people are, in fact, people and tries to guilt-trip Wolverine into giving the dying child some of his blood. Wolverine rightly accuses her of having been a neglectful leader. Storm acknowledges that the Morlocks would not be living in a sewer and scrounging for medicine if she’d taken care of them all along, like she was supposed to be doing. They summon Beast, who saves the child’s life, the Morlocks invite the X-Men to share their Christmas dinner, and Jubilee gives all the food/presents she’s bought to the Morlocks.
This is the part that made me go What the hell? because it makes no sense to me. I really thought Jubilee was going to invite the Morlocks to the manor, where there was lots of food and almost no one to eat it. Instead they all end up staying in the sewers and eating up what little food the Morlocks have. When Jubilee is appalled that the Morlocks have nothing, Storm replies that they have each other and that’s all that they need. Yeah, that’s great and all, but Storm is still living in a mansion and the Morlocks are still living in a sewer. Then she relinquishes her leadership to Callisto, who was already leading the Morlocks anyway. She does this in the snottiest way possible and acts like she’s solved everybody’s problems even though it’s not clear why she didn’t give up her leadership the minute she got it. It’s also not clear what problems she’s actually solved, because the Morlocks are still living in a sewer. Why did she become their leader at all if she resented the post enough to abandon them? Why didn’t the Morlocks give up on her? Were they magically bound to her when she defeated their leader, or were they just such a bunch of sad sacks that they couldn’t figure out how to live their lives without her? Why didn’t Callisto just take the leader post back when she was already their leader in all but name? Are/were the Morlocks actually bad guys? Did they kidnap Storm or murder somebody she cared about? Destroy Tokyo? Summon an army of the dead and rob all the banks? Where did they even come from, anyway? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.
November: Meeting Coworkers
Between other events (i.e., after I laughed my ass off at Cow and Chicken and before X-Men melted my brain), I got to meet one of my coworkers from our other office! She was in town for training or a meeting or something and suggested a team dinner, so a bunch of us walked over to Uncle Julio’s after work.
I’ve discovered a real liking for enchiladas over the last year or so. I’ve also learned that if you hand me something on a tortilla chip I’ll probably eat it, because this was the first time I ever tried guacamole and it was literally only because it came with tortilla chips. (Side note: They mixed the guacamole in front of us, it was really good, and I am currently wondering what I’ve been doing with my life.)
December: The Nightmare Before Christmas
The REACH at the Kennedy Center was showing The Nightmare Before Christmas, so I went (naturally with Heather). Unfortunately it was so cold that they started the movie a half an hour earlier than what they said in the Facebook announcement, with the result that I missed my favorite scene. All the same, it was free, so I guess I can’t complain too much.
Wow crap this got long.
Luckily I think I’ve run out of things to say and events to recount. That was my 2019 in a nutshell. Fingers crossed for an equally eventful 2020!