Coming to America…Canadian style

COMING-TO-AMERICA

from EW.com

Well, I may not be coming from Zamunda, but I am immigrating to the US for work for a while. I love living in Canada; I was born here, my family is here and a lot of great memories. Oh, and of course it’s nice to have things like free healthcare and gun control too. But, as many people who read the news out there know, things haven’t been great in my province for the past few years. It’s main source of revenue comes from Oil & Gas, and that industry has suffered greatly since 2012. With jobs becoming scarce and the high cost of living not leveling off, I’ve decided it’s time for a change.

I always wanted to try living in the US, but it just seemed so hard/impossible when I was younger. There just seemed to be so many requirements and stipulations, not to mention plenty of naysayers warning me that it was “so hard” and chances were “very slim”. I let that negative thinking pretty much kill that dream for many years. But then I got the chance to work for a company that was headquartered in the US, and with them, I was able to travel to the US for work (temporarily) and I found that I actually enjoyed being there a lot more than I thought I would. That job opened doors for me that would have otherwise have  been a lot harder and so I’m going to use that leeway while I can.

I don’t yet have a job, but I know I will get one. I’m one of those people who firmly believes in the Law of Attraction and I know that the right position is already making it’s way to me. Right now i’m going through the motions of getting prepared to relocate. I’ve chosen to try San Francisco for now for several reasons:

  • I work in IT and there is a plethora of positions in my wheelhouse available there
  • It’s a gorgeous city near the water with temperate weather
  • It’s closer to home so it’ll be more affordable to visit home frequently
  • I don’t want to stab myself at the thought of driving my car down there
  • Um. it’s freakin’ San Francisco!
sf.jpg

Look how gorgeous this city is! I can’t wait to make it mine

This is going to be a bit of a bold move for me  as I’ve actually never been in San Fran, but I have a number of friends who have and who currently reside there. All that I’ve spoken to thus far have sung the praises of that city and I’m eager to start this new chapter of my life. Of course, I know it won’t all be sunshine and roses, but I also know that my mindset will play the biggest part in my experience as a whole.

I plan on doing several posts about what I have to do and my journey so stay tuned. But for now, I’m super excited! Is there anyone else out there who’s moved to the US (or even specifically San Francisco) that has any advice or comments? Please let me know!

All the best with love,

~A~

Calgary Expo 2015

Gwendoline Christie being awesome - From the Calgary Herald

Gwendoline Christie being awesome – From the Calgary Herald

This past weekend, I attended my first ever Comic Con. It’s been something that I’ve been wanting to do for years, as soon I first found out that they existed. I remember thinking many years ago that these cons were only for hardcore comic fans, and that people like me who were more about the movie/TV scene (i.e. X-Men the animated series and the movies etc.) would be considered ‘posers’. But after seeing many videos on the bigger cons (i.e. San Diego CC) I saw that people of all walks attended these and that the fellow guests would be welcoming.

I am so glad that I got over my nerves to go despite the fact that I went by myself. I’m pretty much the only person in my group of friends that’s into ‘geeky’ stuff, so when I suggested this con, I was met with vague shrugs and “I don’t really think it’s my thing.” It was a bit discouraging to go alone, but I didn’t feel out-of-place or weird even for a minute. And I even cosplayed for the first time! My nerves were in my stomach as I walked down to the floor, but they disappeared as I saw others dressed up as their favorite characters or wearing t-shirts/hats/backpacks from their favorite shows/movies/comics. People had smiles on their faces, and were happily discovering all kinds of new and exciting things together in a non-judgmental environment. I can’t describe how great if felt to have people recognize my cosplay and some even ask for a picture! It was really one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

Highlights for me were:

  • Ivy Doomkitty – this woman has risen to internet fame with her cosplay. She’s a gorgeous woman with curves who unapologetically cosplays any and everything she pleases. What makes her a role model is the fact that she does this despite the (very wrong) stereotypes that cosplay is only for “skinny” girls or that you can only cosplay characters that look like you (i.e. are the same race/ethnicity). Ivy did a panel on body positivity and reinforcing the idea that cosplaying should be for YOU, not for anyone else. It’s impossible to please everyone, so don’t even try. Ivy has shown through her work that it’s about embracing your body and looks and making your costume work for you, whether your male/female, tall/short, thin/curvy, black/white/latin/martian, able-bodied/disabled. I think it was a great discussion for those who are still considering cosplay but have been holding back due to any of the above-mentioned reasons
  • Gwendoline Christie (Brienne – Game of Thrones) – This woman is SO AWESOME! There are so many things about her that I think make her a great role model. As a tall woman, I love seeing another tall girl  – Gwen is 6’3″ – killing it not only in modeling but in the acting world is very inspirational. But on top of that, Gwen landing a role like Brienne of Tarth, a strong, smart, dedicated woman with insecurities and a ‘soft side’ is phenomenal. During her spotlight, Gwen talked a bit about her challenges in finding work in her early years with being such a tall woman, and the fun she’s had with having such a badass role (her story about her scene last season against a LIVE BEAR was great). She’s very funny and a great storyteller. She seems fairly fearless when it comes to life. If you ever get a chance to see an interview or panel with this great lady, definitely check it out
  • Ming Na Wen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) – I’ve been a fan of Ming since I first saw her in the movie Street Fighter (the movie was terrible, but she wasn’t) and it was great to see her in a more laid back environment. She flew out to the con despite only wrapping her shooting a few hours before. She was loopy with sleep deprivation, but still super fun and intelligent. Hearing her stories of how she’s worked through Hollywood over the past 20 years, working against limitations for Asian actresses but still finding good, meaningful roles is inspiring. She also has a wicked sense of humor.  She may have convinced me to give S.H.I.E.L.D another shot
  • THE COSTUMES – I can’t say enough about the incredible effort that people put into their cosplays. I spent so much of the con oohing and aahing and giving myself whiplash as I took in all the costumes that I can’t even recall it all. If for no other reason, go to a con just to see the amazing things regular people do with time and determination. It definitely inspired me to work even harder on my costumes for DragonCon later this year

All in all, I had a fantastic time, and highly recommend attending one of these if there’s one in your area (or reasonably close). You don’t need to dress up, or even be a fanatic about anything geeky. Just come with an open mind and I’ll bet that you’ll have a great experience.

Comic Cons 2015

Comic-Con-logo

It’s a new year which amongst many other things, means NEW COMIC CONS!!! Yes, there’s a fresh new year’s worth of opportunities to geek out, cosplay and just generally be around awesomeness. There are literally hundreds of these types of fairs nowadays, but i only have so much vacation time, so I have to choose a select (and fun) few. So far, I’m planning hitting two or three of the following:

  • Paleyfest March 6-13 (this is still very much a maybe)
  • Calgary Fan Expo April 16-19
  • San Diego Comic Con July 9-12
  • Toronto Fan Expo September 3-6 (Based on how pricey Drag-Con is)
  • Dragon Con September 4-7
  • New York Comic Con October 8-11
  • BlizzCon *Usually around November

All of these have their own charms, but the ones I’m most stoked about are SDCC, Dragon Con and Paleyfest. I have only picked out two cosplay characters thus far, but half of the fun of these plans is to figure out which characters you can bring to the table.

Do you have any Cons on your list this year and if so, which ones?

Agent Carter: Marvel’s answer to Feminism

carter

Move over boys, there’s a new ass kicker in town. She’s not made of muscle. She doesn’t have any superpowers. She doesn’t wear skin-tight or completely nonfunctional négligée that’s passed off as a costume. She isn’t the descendant of a mega rich family with millions of dollars at her disposal. Oh yeah, and she’s a SHE. Miss Peggy Carter is just an ordinary red-blooded woman – who just happens to boot some major tail.

Haley Atwell as Agent Carter

Haley Atwell as Agent Carter

Last night was the series premier of the newest TV instalment by Marvel, Agent Carter. The show follows the adventures of Peggy Carter who was initially introduced to the world in Captain America: The First Avenger. While in the movie, she played much more of a love interest and emotional compass to Steve Rogers, in her self-titled show, Peggy shows just why she was chosen to help save the world from Hydra. The show starts off where the first CA movie ended, shortly after America’s hero crashed into the ocean and was presumed dead. Peggy has been sent back to America, where she’s unable to tell the world about the amazing things she’s done and is capable of. Instead, she is shoved back into the misogynistic mindset of the times, where she is told that her skills peak at coffee-making and filing.

She's killer, from the dress to her combat skills

She’s killer, from the dress to her combat skills

But this doesn’t stop our young heroine from continuing to save the world, sparked by a request from an old friend who’s in trouble. The 2-hour premier was executed beautifully, from the glossy HD cinematography to the flashy action sequences. Marvel spared no expense when it came to the special effects, and the attention to periodic detail made for a great escapism ride. TV vets like James Frain and Carlos Esposito made cameos which leads me to believe that like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. there will be many celebrity cameos from the Marvel movie ‘verse throughout the show. Thankfully the show is exciting and fun enough so far that it won’t need to rely on those cameos to maintain viewership.

This show is groundbreaking in a lot of ways. While it’s not the first show to feature a woman in the lead who happens to be pretty badass, it is the first to have a woman like this (and from the comic book world no less) truly represented in a feminist way. Peggy is very smart, but not stereotypically”nerdy”. Peggy is gorgeous, but doesn’t rely on her looks to do her job. Peggy puts on a men’s leather jacket and pants to go and fight crime, not a spandex cat suit and 6″ heels. Peggy sees a misogynist pig sexually assaulting a waitress and does something about it rather than just console the girl afterwards. And all the while, we see that she’s still human; someone who makes mistakes, gets over-confident, and suffers from heartache just like any other human. Peggy may be one of the first female “superheroes” that’s been treated like a traditional superhero (so far). She’s the kind of woman who I’d want my nieces and future daughters to see and look up to.

This one is a keeper, and I plan on tuning in to it and The Flash to fill up my Tuesday nights.

All’s fair in Kpop

Sex sells. This has been a known marketing tactic for decades here in the Western world, and it’s now making its way to more conservative countries thanks to music, television show syndication and the internet. But on western shores, it seems that by and large, women are the most objectified when it comes to the entertainment industry. We see it in magazines that are targeted towards women, in print ads, commercials, billboards, TV and movies and of course in the music industry.

I can easily call to mind examples of young, talented female recording artists who started out in the business with the intent of letting their talent be what propelled them to the top. But after a few years in the business (or far less), their clean and modest image morphed into skin-tight or barely-there clothing, wild makeup and suggestive lyrics. I can’t say that I’ve noticed the same trend – to that same degree – happen with male artists. It’s not to say that men never go the ‘sexy’ route to sell records or build an image (I find that in hip-hop, it’s almost part-and-parcel with male artists), but it certainly isn’t as prevalent as it is with women.

Leather and skin

Leather and skin

Just a bit more clothing here

Just a bit more clothing here

But that certainly isn’t the case with our Eastern counterparts. Perhaps it’s due to the conservative views that many Eastern countries still hold towards women, but there seems to be a much higher ratio of ‘sexy’ male artists and groups there than I’ve ever seen in North America. When I think back to the boy bands of my era – New Kids on the Block, NSync, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, etc. – sure, I remember them being on the covers of all the teen mags, some times sporting wife beaters and always having s sexy glare for the camera. But I don’t recall seeing their bare chests in almost every music video or slow grinding worked into every other dance routine. Girls of my generation had to use our imaginations far more when it came to the sensual side of most of our boy band crushes.

Quite the opposite overseas. I’ve seen more skin and simulated sex from Kpop and Jpop bands in the last few years than I’ve ever seen out of a Western boy band. Like, ever. *P.S. that’s not a complaint per se either* This could easily account for the worldwide phenomenon that’s occurred with these groups over the past few years. Us western girls just aren’t used to seeing men in, quite frankly, such an overtly sexual light. Western men are often only shown as being “strong”, “tough”, “rugged” and somewhat predatory. Women here are programmed to think that it’s only our job to be sexually enticing; that we should be the only ones willing to be vulnerable and/or seduce the nary attainable alpha male. For us to see these young, handsome, virile men not only dressing up to the nines for us – but then taking off said clothes and then actually putting on a show, allowing us to the have to power of watching them is….well, attractive.

Just a typical photo shoot for many male K-Pop groups

Just a typical photo shoot for many male K-Pop groups

Though some would beg the question: isn’t objectification still bad – no matter what gender you are? Shouldn’t we be upset that these Kpop boy bands are being trotted out in front of millions half-dressed and gyrating to satiate the hormones of fangirls?  Many women out there get upset when they see girl groups that are always scantily clad, dance provocatively and sing suggestive songs (In recent memory, there were many feminist rants about The Pussycat Dolls in their heyday), but do they jump on the same band wagon when they see Super Junior or Rain dancing topless (and somehow soaking wet) in almost every video? And to add more thought to that, many of these boy bands consist of members that have not reached the age of majority. People are ready to burn buildings at the idea of sexually marketing girls under the age of 18, yet overall there seems to be less issue taken with teenaged boys doing photo shoots in their underwear.

Is this more acceptable because it's a bunch of guys?

Is this more acceptable because it’s a bunch of guys?

Rain's signature 'half-removed' shirt

Rain’s signature ‘half-removed’ shirt

Conversely, some may still feel that the East is simply levelling the playing field. There are many cultures that believe that it’s the men that have the responsibility to impress/attract the women in their lives. Perhaps many feel that there shouldn’t be a difference in ‘sexy’ marketing when it comes to the sexes. Or even still, perhaps Japan, South Korea and China have simply out that there was a niche in the entertainment world that hadn’t been explored since ancient Rome.

Whatever the reason, I think it’s a tricky topic. My opinion has always been that if a person who is of age decides that they want to exert their sexuality/sensuality in their chosen art form, then have at it. Female artists like Cher, Madonna and Beyoncé have embraced the sexual side of their nature and have successfully married that with their musical talent. Male artists like Prince, George Michael and countless R&B artists and bands have also walked the sexy side and raked in the positive results. But, is it still wrong – even if an artist/band knowingly engages in being objectified? Or is it empowerment?

What do you guys think?

The Surplus Princess

All Hail the Surplus Princess

The Surplus Princess

The Idle Mermaid or The Surplus Princess on tvN

I just started this drama a few days ago and it’s actually surprising me with how much I’m enjoying it. When you first look at the show’s synopsis – a mermaid falls for a human man and makes it her mission to make him hers – well, let’s just say, been there, done that, literally have the DVD. But this isn’t your average “Splash” with a K-twist remake.

Yes, the trope has been done, but what I like about this dramedy is that it’s not taking itself too seriously. Instead of a virtuous, golden hearted mermaid princess who screams innocence, we have Erin (or Aileen to some). She’s rude, selfish, conceited and just short of being a complete horn dog – pretty much a believable early 20-something girl. And instead of having a vapid prince who just falls for any woman who falls into his sights, we have a withdrawn young man who uses  arrogance as a shield to hide that he’s suffering from agnosia, which makes it difficult for him to even recognize people he’s known half his life.

The gist of the story is that Princess Erin has managed to turn herself into a human to be with the man she believes is her true love, but realizes afterward that she has only 100 days to actually find that true love otherwise she’ll cease to exist. There are many rather overt references to Disney’s version of this tale, with sprinkles of the actual mermaid story that didn’t have a happy ending at all.

The naughty mermaid

I’m inclined to believe there actually was tongue in this kiss

This drama takes a well-known, typical fairy tale and turns it on its head. The writers of this show made a smart choice in not aiming for the fantasy, but rather playing on the “what if mermaids actually did exist in 2014?” idea and all of the ridiculousness that would come along with it  (i.e. mermaid’s using cell phones since they’re waterproof now).

It’s also refreshing to see a lead actress who has a more natural look, meaning homegirl is shorter and actually has curves.  Jo Bo Ah has a natural way about her that makes her fangirly character feel a lot like the girl next door. Ahn Gil Kang is also ROCKING IT as the stoic, slightly creepy yet hilarious and big-hearted “Sea Witch” who serves as a sort of “fairy godfather” to our lost princess as she navigates her way through the human world.

Creepy Ahjussi

No really, he’s here to help you (die!)

Couple that with the adorable supporting cast, namely Kim Min Kyo who is doing a stellar job of providing comic relief (there’s a particular parody of G-Dragon he does in Episode 4 that left me laughing so hard I cried).

G-Dragon has competition

This man deserves an Emmy immediately!

As far as I can see, this drama is ticking all the right boxes as far as having the right mix of comedy, romance,  and drama with a side of naughty which makes for one entertaining hour of television. About the only complaint I have is that it only airs once a week which means it’s going to be a long road, especially with fall swiftly arriving and many of my must-see American shows coming back.

Have you had a chance to check out The Surplus Princess/The Idle Mermaid yet? What are your thoughts?

Language exchange – too risky?

I’ve just started my next level of Korean classes and if it made me realize anything, it’s that I still have SO MUCH practice to do in order to become remotely fluent in this new language. I mean, I’m understanding more and more, but to actually carry on a conversation…let’s just say that unless the party I’m speaking with speaks slower than a snail and is willing to repeat themselves, A LOT, I’m dead. So, reading other blogs about others who’ve learned (or are in the process of learning) Hangul, I saw many mention trying a language exchange to force me to practice speaking with native speakers.

No speaky fast

You wanna run that by me, three more times?

Now that’s all well and good, but there are a handful of sites out there as well as apps, and it’s hard to know which are good and which are, well, creepy. Interpals.net came up quite a few times as a way to meet and speak to language partners. But because the site is also set up to allow people to possibly start romantic relationships, as you can imagine, there’s tonnes of trolls who want to swap more than conversation. I find that it’s really hard to tell if people who message me are really trying to start an exchange or attempting to find a long distance relationship (or a free pass to Canada). As much as I want to trust this place, I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable keeping up conversations with people from there.

No, I said I want to exchange LANGUAGE!

No, I said I want to exchange LANGUAGE!

 

I’ve downloaded the Hello Talk! app which has been okay so far. The app was specifically created for language exchange and in its policies states that it’s not to be used to find your next boy/girlfriend. It even restricts users from being able to download or enlarge profile pictures in an effort to keep users’ minds on language and only language. I’ve been chatting with a few people so far, and I would say that the biggest challenge may be getting your language partners to speak Hangul (or whatever language you’re learning) with you. English is still the top on the list of languages that most other citizens want to learn. So as soon as they see that you’re a native speaker, especially one from North America, they tend to want to speak English more than not.

What sites/apps have you found work for language exchange? Ones where people are legit and not looking to hookup?