Todrick Hall @ Fonda Theater

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I just got back from the Todrick Hall concert at the Fonda Theater in Hollywood, and wow my mind is blown by how great it was! I’ve been a fan of Todrick since his early YouTube flash mob days, so I was ecstatic to finally see him in person. After watching his documentary on Netflix last month, I had splurged on some tickets when I found out he was on his album tour and would be in LA in May.

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Kayla and I got to the venue early, which was a good thing because the line was almost wrapped around the block when we arrived. It wasn’t too long before we passed through security, got our wristbands, and made it inside the theater. First things first: we got double whiskeys.

We hung around in the general admissions floor as the other concert-goers started to fill the room. There were lots of people in costume, which was cool. As expected, Chester opened for the show with his new single. Then we were blessed with the first act of Todrick’s new album, Forbidden, which ran about an hour long. And let me confirm: Todrick. Is. A. Performer.

During intermission, I ran to the bathroom because I have the smallest bladder known to humankind. I had always heard about it, but I had a “drunk women supporting each other in the bathroom” experience for the first time to the fullest. There were lots of “oh my god your outfit!” and “women supporting each other, whoooooo!” and even some hugging. I love drunk women, and I was definitely one tonight.

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The second half of the show was even better than the first, which I thought would be impossible. I loved that Todrick ended with a few of the hits from Straight Outta Oz, too. I will remember this show for a long time. My favorite part of the evening besides the songs (which had awesome choreography, by the way) was the diverse representation in the crowd, which is not that surprising because that’s what Todrick has always done: bring together all types of people. Now excuse me while I rewatch all his videos on YouTube.

#ForbiddenTour2018

Chicago: Weekend Getaway

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April 20-22, 2018

Chicago is called the Windy City for a reason…and I found that out the hard way this past weekend. Spoiled by the year-round California sun, I felt like I was dying in 40 degree weather all weekend. However, the locals told me this was actually a great weekend because the sun came out. Apparently, until that Thursday, it was snowing!

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I have always wanted to visit Chicago, so tagging along to Angela’s Disabilities Studies Conference at University of Chicago was the perfect excuse. Every city has a unique feel to it, and this was no different. The first thing we did when we landed was hit Wrigley Field. This lifelong baseball fan fulfilled a childhood dream and couldn’t be happier about it.

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Since the Cubs were away that day, the stadium staff stood outside, offering tours. It seems like such a cool thing to do, but we had other places to get to that first day, so we hit a new BBQ joint right across the street.

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After lunch, we took the L train, which was not that hard to figure out, and went downtown just as people were rushing home from work. I specifically enjoyed the elevated train tracks that wove its way between buildings and through the city. Like any other major city’s public transportation system, there were a lot of weird people on the train.

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We walked to Millennium Park to take pictures of/at the Bean like every good tourist does. I saw the great Chicago skyline reflected off of it. There were so many people there though.

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After that, we took in the city by walking to the Riverwalk (but it was too cold and windy to take a sightseeing boat) and then across the Chicago River to the Navy Pier. About an hour before we got to the pier, a man had driven off the docks and into Lake Michigan, so when we arrived, there were lots of helicopters, paramedics, police cars, and news trucks around. I read today that the man was trapped in his car and died. We got there when the divers were going into the water to look for him.

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We walked the length of the pier and back again, which was a good 2-3 miles. The sun was setting by the time we were done and we got some great views of the Chicago skyline. We spent too much time afterward looking for a boba shop. Apparently there’s one boba place downtown, which is unacceptable. After we got dinner, I took the hottest shower ever and loved every second of it.

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The next morning, we got up early to get to the conference at University of Chicago. It was a pretty long day, but I learned so much more about people with disabilities, how I could be an ally in the community, and reflected on how my ableist privileges have allowed me to go through life without worrying about equal access to the simplest things, like never having to think twice about a building without a wheelchair ramp. The keynote speaker was also an anthropology professor at Cal, so it was cool to hear her speak about her experiences back in the Bay Area.

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I sat in on Angela’s panel and got a better sense of the academic world she lives in. I think academia can be a bubble though and some of the jargon in these communities can be exclusionary. Still, it was great to get another experience in this setting, after having accompanied Angela to a conference at UCLA about a month ago.

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Of course, a trip to Chicago would be for naught if we didn’t try the deep dish. Everyone recommended Giordano’s, so Saturday night, that’s where we went. It was so good but so filling! I only had one slice. Angela had two and a half. It was absolutely worth the 45 minute wait though.

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All in all, it was a fun-filled albeit quick trip to Chicago for the weekend. I did want to check out some of the jazz and blues clubs and maybe a Second City show, but we just didn’t have enough time. I’m not sure if I’d ever go back but if I do, it’ll definitely be in the summer because I’m a California baby.

Why is South Korea still so backwards on gender equality?

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On March 10, 2017 when South Korea’s first and only woman president, Park Geun-hye, was impeached, the country cheered in unison. This was a major victory for the hundreds of thousands of citizens who had peacefully protested for her removal in office. For three long months, South Koreans took to the streets to voice their distaste for Park, who had been found at the center of a criminal conspiracy scandal in 2016. Finally, justice had been served, and many people watching around the world commented, “Now that’s how you do a protest.”

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Reuters

It wasn’t long, however, before the finger-pointing and, more specifically, gender-blaming started. Among the sentiments shared online and on television, the most common ones were:

“Of course she failed. She’s a woman.”
“This is why women can’t run a country.”
“We should have never elected a woman.”

Park’s election in 2012 was a symbolic milestone for women in Korea. I, like many Korean-Americans, followed this election closely. After Park was voted in, people expressed surprise, and even envy, at the fact that Korea had elected a woman for president ahead of the United States.

However, with Park’s impeachment came deafening chants of “women are unfit to lead,” most notably from men’s right activists across the country. I believe that Park’s impeachment was the right move. However, she should be judged for her actions, not for her status as a woman. If a male president had been impeached for the same reasons, no one would say “See, a man is unfit to lead.” Furthermore, I was shocked to learn that many of my fellow Korean-Americans voted for Trump this past election because a racist pig is still better than “a girl president,” which shows us how badly Korea still lags on gender equality.

The misogyny in South Korea is intense. Korea is still a conservative society that is deeply rooted in the Confucian concept of nam-jon-yeo-bi, which translates to “man is higher than woman.” As outdated as it sounds, this is still the accepted social norm for Korean women. Additionally, the gender wage gap in South Korea is the highest among OECD nations, women drop out of the workforce in huge numbers after having children, and the country dropped to 118th among 144 countries in terms of gender equality in 2017. And last but not least, according to the NY Times, South Korean men hold the record for doing the least amount of housework among the men in the world’s most developed countries. That is just embarrassing, plain and simple.

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An ad for jaw surgery

I hate to say it, but what do you expect from a country that emphasizes the idea that a woman’s greatest attribute is her physical beauty? South Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world. One in five women in Seoul has had cosmetic surgery, and blepharoplasty, or double-eyelid surgery, is a common high school graduation gift for young women from their parents. Beauty privilege is real in Korea. In fact, it could be the deciding factor of whether or not you get a job. After all, some companies require headshots to be included with resumes when submitting job applications. In a country where good looks outrank talent, work ethic, and determination, it’s no surprise that women are often targets of objectification. You don’t have to look further than K-Pop celebrity culture to see this emphasized over and over again.

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World Politics Review

Luckily, change is coming, and it starts with this new generation of South Korean feminists. Although the older folks cluck their tongues and reprimand these men and women, telling them to step back in line, it’s only a matter of time before the country breaks through to the other side. On May 17, 2016, a young woman was stabbed to death in a bar restroom in Gangnam. The male suspect’s motive? Women have always ignored him and he was taking out his frustrations. This sparked huge protests across Seoul, with many women calling for an end to these types of sexist crimes.

More recently, the #MeToo movement has reached Korea. Celebrities (actors, musicians, entertainers), politicians, and writers are exposing and speaking out against their abusers. Of course, they’re met with lots of backlash and hatred (“They’re just overreacting”), but it’s a step in the right direction.

I feel extremely lucky and grateful to have been raised by my mother, one of the strongest women I know. My mom was raised by a single mother who ran her own business, which meant she was the sole provider of the family. As a result, my mom only knew that way of life, that women could run businesses and make their own money and didn’t have to depend on a man to survive. In this way, my mom grew to be independent in her own right and eventually moved to the United States to pursue graduate education. I come from a line of self-reliant and self-determined women, more importantly, Korean women, which is why both my sister and I continue to push our narratives out into the world every day to shed more light on this issue. And although South Korea still has a long ways to go to achieve greater gender equality, I’m hopeful that we’re on the eve of a major tide that will influence the future of many generations to come.

NYU Tisch Admission!

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Two years after my unfortunate experience with NYU’s Dramatic Writing MFA, I received my official admission to Tisch. After another phone call from Terry Curtis Fox, I was told I was admitted to the program with a $30,000/year scholarship. What a journey this has been…

Writing is all about resiliency. As writers, we hear “no” 100 times more than “yes.” But it’s how you respond to the rejections that makes all the difference. Getting this email today helped me reflect back on that moment I found out I would not be moving to New York. Although I was in a dark place for a good month or so, I pulled the trigger and moved down to LA. And honestly, that was one of the best decisions of my life so far. I successfully completed the Professional Program in Screenwriting at UCLA, which proved to be a stepping stone to getting into the MFA program there. I met a ton of great people, some of whom are now very close friends of mine. And most importantly, I had the chance to write uninterrupted for one whole year, which has led to some pretty exciting opportunities.

This year, I got into three of the four MFA Screenwriting programs I applied to. Taking that year to really strengthen my body of work paid off, and I am extremely proud in knowing I was a much stronger applicant this time around. Although I am partial to staying in LA and attending UCLA again this fall, this acceptance to Tisch reminds me to never give up my dreams and work hard to achieve them.

“America’s Got Talent” Taping Experience

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Season 13 of America’s Got Talent is taping around the country now and last night, Tim and I went to the one in Pasadena. Most important thing I learned? Don’t go if it’s pouring out cause you’ll spend most of the night standing outside in the rain, miserable and drenched.

I used to watch the show all the time back in college, so I realized there were many changes to it. First of all, when did Tyra Banks start hosting? On a related note, Tyra is my queen. She actually came out to push the Golden Buzzer for the very first act that came on stage, so it was a great start to the night.

We were seated pretty close to the judge’s table actually, which meant we got a front and center view of the stage. I can’t go into too much detail about what exactly the acts consisted of, but it was clear there are many talented people around the world…and many who are not. The judges’ buzzes are a LOT louder in person than on television, and I literally jumped out of my seat each time they were pressed.

The in-house entertainer was terrible. He only told jokes about relationships, was creepy and said “come to daddy” a lot, and danced like a dorky dad trying to embarrass his kids. He was giving out tickets to his stand-up show in April and yeah, I wouldn’t go to that even if it were free.

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I wasn’t a huge fan of how many times the male judges interrupted Heidi and Mel B. And how many times they said the phrase, “What she meant was…” like they were professional translators of Woman. But the thing that got to me the most was when Mel B was giving some constructive criticism and Simon drowned her out by meowing into the microphone. Then when it was his turn to speak, he basically said the same thing she did and took credit for the idea. And when Mel B spoke out about it and told Simon that’s exactly what she just said, he stated, “But I said it classier,” which got major laughs from the audience. And how everyone started booing Mel B but cheering for Simon. Jesus, the microaggressions women deal with on a daily basis… But you know, other than that, the experience was great, right?

Final thoughts and observations:

  • Every crewmember looked like Ron Swanson
  • The first few rows are on camera quite a bit so they do rearrange you according to level of attractiveness (of course they would never say that outright)
  • Some acts got my heart rate up to 105 (yes, I checked)
  • They should make two women’s restrooms for every one male restroom
  • Maybe don’t say “come to daddy” to young women when you’re a 45 year old man
  • Simon gained a lot of weight
  • Celebrity culture is stupid
  • It’ll take a good 20 minutes to get out of the parking garage after the show, so prep accordingly (aka use the restroom before you leave the auditorium)

Would I go back? Only if it’s not on the one day a year it’s raining in Southern California.

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