Saturday, March 20, 2021

Minari: what it means to be foreign

After I saw Minari, I told someone that I found it "generic".

I would like to take that statement back.

Minari is a 2020 film starring Steven Yuen, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Youn Yuh-jung.

A Korean family that moved to Arkansas from California to start a new life, along with their daughter and son. 

I see a dad trying his hardest to make something of himself. To have a new start. I see a mother trying desperately to keep their children safe and well. The clashes and fights that happen because of this. Hard to say, if there weren't any kids in the picture, if they would still be together.

I see a child trying to wrestle with his health, his bed wetting and his new grandma that came into his house.

It won "Best Picture - Foreign" at the Golden Globes.

Is it foreign because of the language that they were talking in? 

Is it foreign because it features an Asian cast?

Detailing their trials and tribulations, their fight for the American Dream. Is that foreign? 


I found it generic... because I've seen it, I've heard it, hell, I lived through some of it. 

Being so happy to the point of crying because of chilli powder? Been there with salt water popsicles. True story, I happily drove to a supermarket super out of the way to get that. Paid like 5x the cost. Best time ever.

A lot of the stand ups that feature immigrant comedians already covered these scenarios a lot. In my mind, I thought it was already well known. I realized then, perhaps the same as what I said in my writeup of The Farewell, people who understood the situation laughed because they could relate, people who didn't understand laughed because the situation described was just plain absurd to them.

What I realized... is that we downplay a lot of the experiences that we went through. We downplay them because people:

  • won't understand
  • can't relate
  • treat any experience that's out of the norm as foreign (and in turn weird, if not hostile)

The events of this week, the spa shootings and the subsequent coverage of said shootings, tells me that representation matters.

It's great that Minari is here this year, just as The Farewell was there 2 years ago. Stories, that are told, and shared, most importantly, recognized.


Minari is also a vegetable that's also used in Korean cooking. Known for its resiliency, and its ability to adapt and grow. 

Fitting that it is worked into the film and used as the title.

Resiliency. Adaptability.

Just like minari, we'll do the same.

Thursday, March 11, 2021


He was crossing the road, warm day, picking up some groceries.

He saw her. Though, she looked disheveled, unsure of her surroundings. Not going to lie, he thought she was one of the homeless wanting some change.

Unconscious biases can be tricky to dismantle, as he walked past she reached out to him, trying to flag him down.

In that moment, he stopped playing his music.

"Hi, can you help me take a picture?"

"A picture?"

"Yes, a picture with my cake".

She started moving towards her belongings, among them a cake bought at the local grocery store.

"Sure, of course."

She gestured to give him the phone. He thought about the pandemic and how this person was an unknown... then he saw the words on the cake. It read... "Happy birthday"

"Yes I just want a picture with my cake, it's my birthday."

"It's your birthday? Wow, happy birthday!"

"Yes, can you please take a picture with me and the cake in it? Please make sure to get the words on the cake."


Fidgeting around with the phone, he took multiple pictures of her with the cake, making sure that she had copies in both portrait and landscape. 

"Well, I did what I could." He hands her the phone back.

"Thank you so much."

"Happy birthday again!" He walks away smiling to her, then sighed.


If it wasn't for the current circumstances... would she have been standing alone in the street, asking a random stranger to take a photo of her with her cake?

Her name is Jenna.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

drivers license

Usually songs that have explicit versions and clean (Radio Edit) versions are either censored or edited to a way that's unnatural.

Take P!nk's "Fucking Perfect" vs "Perfect"


"Pretty pretty please, don't you ever ever feel, like you're less than, fucking perfect"


"Pretty pretty please, don't you ever ever feel, like you're less than, less than perfect"

The lyrics removes the burst of emotion in that part. That's the sacrifice you make for the radio edit.

Other explicit songs just does the bare minimum... Ariana Grande's "7 Rings" removes the vulgarities without replacing them.

Granted, I am unsure which method is better. The mind always fills in the gaps where the censored word should be, and when you're doing the sing along... you sing it anyways.


Then comes Olivia Rodrigo's drivers license

"Red lights, stop signs, I still see your face, in the white cars, front yards, can't drive past the places, we used to, go to..."


"cause I still fucking love you"


"cause you know I still love you"

Personally I downloaded the clean version of the song and had been listening to it, without realizing that there was an explicit version. I thought well, that's a sad song.

Then YouTube Music served up the explicit version... I thought, damn, that's a desperately sad song.

The clean version alludes to at least knowing the feelings of the breakup, that they talked about it and decided it was best to go their separate ways.

The explicit version... is so one-sided. unrequited. raw.

Fundamentally different songs.


Olivia recently appeared on Saturday Night Live singing Drivers License. And she did... well this...

For the second verse of the bridge she sang "I still... I still love you", this kept inline with the explicit version while still being TV friendly.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Playlist/播放列表: 5 Stages - Acceptance

Updated: 04/03/2021
Removed a song and added "Moral of the Story" - Ashe

Acceptance (接受)

Let Her Go - Passenger
还是要幸福 - 田馥甄
我很好, 那么你呢? - 王心凌
那些女孩教我的事 - 品冠
Already Gone - Kelly Clarkson
爱的代价 - 张艾嘉
开始懂了 - 孙燕姿
Always Remember Us This Way - Lady Gaga
我好吗 - 梁静茹
Moral of the Story - Ashe
如果这就是爱情 - 张靓颖

Acceptance in any way shape of form.
It could be bittersweet, could be liberating, could even be taking a deep breath.
It could be smiling, while crying, with snot running down your nose.

Truth is, you don’t really need a playlist for acceptance.

Acceptance is when you can listen to any of the songs in the playlists before, and maintain composure.
Maybe there is a hint of regret, a sight bitterness.

Remember, happiness is a choice.

Youtube Playlist

Tuesday, March 2, 2021


He brought along one of those smaller beer cans, ones that could fit into a soda sleeve.

Despite it being a good sunny day, the wind was still blowing strong, doubly so where we are. The ice, now broken up into large pieces by the warming weather, is moving along with the current. Two birds stood on top of one of the pieces, seemingly enjoying the trip they are on.

"There are 3 women I've ever loved in my life."

"Yeah?" I took a sip from my own can.

"All of them different from each other, and I love them all with my heart"

"What changed?"

He looked away onto the lake. Deep in thought. The sunset was happening on the horizon, half obstructed by the giant structure to our right. I could see partially the beauty of it through the chimney stacks and steel walls, piecing it together with the reflection of it on the lake.

There was suddenly beams of light coming towards us. How the police manage to drive their car onto a walkway near the water will always allude me. I guess... very slowly?

I shifted my can behind my backpack. It's always the small details that give it away, and I was not planning to get a ticket.

"So... then are you still in contact with the other two?"

"No. No... Heck no."


"I wouldn't be able to control myself."