Times, they are a-changin’

Oh look it’s another “new year, new me” blog article. I figured that since I haven’t actually updated this thing in aaages, I’d fill you all in on what happened this year, and where I hope the next one will take me. Indulge me.

A lot of awful things happened in 2018, I hardly need to tell you all that. But there was some good, a lot of personal growth happened. So I’m thankful for that.

I had to leave Korea because my grandmother was dying from multiple types of cancer and I had already missed the funerals of my aunt and great-aunt. I couldn’t miss another. I had been so removed from my family for years, living abroad. I had to go back. I had to set aside my own selfish desire to explore and stay out of country, because family was more important, and I needed to prioritize keeping in touch with the family I had left.

I’m still sort of bitter about it a bit, don’t get me wrong. I left a stable income, an amazing friend group, and things like health insurance behind. However, it was an inevitability. I was always going to leave at some point, because I wanted to get out of teaching. Unless I got myself wifed or magically became fluent– wasn’t gonna happen.

So I’m thankful for ultimately leaving because…

  1. It allowed me to say goodbye to my grandmother on her final day
  2. It pushed me to finally make writing and doing audio work for a living a reality

Since May I have been published on SYFY, FANDOM, Grok Nation, Polygon, VRV, Popula, INDY Week, GEEK, INTO, GO Magazine, and probably something I’m forgetting. All that in just over 6 months. I’m really friggin proud of myself.


I started to take myself seriously as a writer, was encouraged by amazing people in the Binders writing community, and worked for some killer editors who helped me along to find my voice & write some really fun pieces.

A major shout out to Allison Brandt, who posted the ad that the Calling Darkness Podcast was looking for an audio engineer. I took a chance and just by applying I not only landed the gig, but it’s lead to multiple other audio projects like Ghost Light Theater and the amazing crew there.

There’s a lot of things launching in 2019 that I am SO excited about, some of which I don’t think I can talk about, but it all stemmed from just taking a chance and believing in myself and hot diggity dog.

I lost 20lbs while in Korea and was so happy with it and felt pretty for the first time in a long time. But a lot of that weight loss was done because I was trying to impress someone else. It wasn’t a good life choice or life style. I’ve gained most of it back, but I’m now taking steps to lose again, but in a more healthy manner. I’ll be in a better head space hopefully; wanting to do this for ME, rather than for another person.


Other goals in 2019 are to pitch more, write more, and become full-time freelance by the springtime (or have a stable day job in my field). I also want to work on my own personal projects, the book series that swims in my head, the audio drama about two dumb time traveling ghost hunters that Sora and I have written about 500,000 words for, and more one-off pieces.

I have a bracelet on my wrist called a wishlet. You make a wish when putting it on, and when it breaks off, it’s supposed to come true.

I wished to be happy.

Here’s hoping 2019 grants that wish.


My First Time Cosplaying: DisneyBounding!

So what’s a girl to do when she’s never cosplayed before in her life and suddenly she has to find not one, but multiple outfits for nearly a week of filming and photography? Panic. Panic and go through every item of clothing she has to see if she has ANYTHING that is useful. I didn’t need full blown cosplays that take weeks to put together. Hell, I barely had a week to prepare! What I needed was something inspired by Disney characters. But how was I to do that?

The answer apparently is called DisneyBounding.


So what is DisneyBounding? The idea was started by Leslie Kay, who had been a long time Disney and fashion fan and wanted to combine the two in a fun and easy way. Her site disneybound.co even describes the idea as:

DisneyBound is meant to be inspiration for you to pull together your own outfits which work for your body and wallet whether from your closet or local mall.

And that’s it! It immediately reminded me of ‘closet cosplay’ in that you look in your closet and see what you have that reminds you of the character you wish to portray. And that’s exactly what I did when Alston told me we should match our outfits for all our Disney days. He liked what I was doing with The Nerdventurists and wanted to collaborate, I thought that was a great idea and we quickly got to thinking about what we could do. People dangerously left us alone and suddenly we had hatched out a plan to go to all the Disney parks around the world. Yurp. That’s a thing. And not only that, these Disney Adventures were going to be done in style. Cosplay DisneyBounding style.

I sort of panicked. I have never cosplayed before. With curly hair and glasses, there aren’t a lot of options open to me, so I had never really bothered. Alston on the other hand had done amazing cosplays of various sorts, always looked nice, and I was going to be an embarrassment in all our photos. He assured me that I wouldn’t and eventually I sent him a photo of a 1950s red dress I had. Minnie Mouse, maybe? He agreed and a few days later we were off to LA.

DisneyBounding - Very Nerdy Curly - www.verynerdycurly.com

I was so nervous at first. I kept straightening my dress, fixing my ears, and generally felt super self conscious. But then people kept coming up to us saying how cute we were, they were taking photos of us taking photos. I didn’t feel as weird. I felt cute instead. Yeah, I was a fucking adorable Minnie Mouse-esque lady! We were practically oozing adorableness, we should embrace this! And so we did. By the end of the day I had “got” it. I knew why people cosplayed; point blank, it’s fun! You get to sort of become a character, you get to look good and people tell you that you look good/cute/amazing/insane/etc. Who wouldn’t like that? But at its core, it’s just a really fun time.

DisneyBounding - Epcot - Very Nerdy Curly

So when it was time for Walt Disney World in Orlando, I didn’t have nearly as many reservations. We were going to Star Wars it up by being BB8 and R2D2. The first day was the more casual of the two, and ht eonly thing I had to do was find an orange dress (which was surprisingly not as hard as I thought, and I found this cool sorta military/sciency esque number on sale, hollah!) And even better, Dapper Day was happening while we were there. The level of excitement Alston had couldn’t be contained and he quickly MADE ME A HAT so I could be a 1920s BB8. HE MADE ME A HAT.

Dapper Day was an event in itself because so many people were just dressed SO BEAUTIFULLY!  That whole self consciousness came rolling up again, but I quickly ignored it because I had an amazing hat and felt freaking amazing this day. Even if I was really really hot under that (synthetic) fur. Alston did have a hat… he just lost it on Splash Mountain (RIP R2D2 fedora). But the fact was, we had a lot of fun, people recognized what we were trying to do, and I really just felt quite good about myself. Which is always nice.


I have a lot of respect for people who do this constantly and more extensively. I was stressing out just from this, I cannot imagine having to actually construct outfits and sew them and try and find replicas of things. I am immensely in awe of all of you. I hope one day I’ll graduate from closet cosplay to something bigger, but until then, I’ll have fun with this and see if I can’t do some more of it.

If you want to keep updated on Disney Adventures, head on over to The Nerdventurists, my travel site. Things will be rolling out across the summer for sure. In the meantime, have a funny photo when I got scared shitless because storm troopers snuck up on us.


Noriko Sugiura was our amazing photographer and camera lady and we wouldn’t look nearly as good without her mad skillz. Also make sure to check out Alston’s fashion site!

The road so far… why can’t I keep up with TV shows?

For the LIFE of me I do not understand why I am currently in my 5th hour of Chopped re-runs on The Food Network, yet I haven’t watched any of the final season of Da Vinci’s Demons. You know, that came out in October… OF LAST YEAR. I was practically begging STARZ to livestream the season straight into my brain, yet when it came out… nada.

The road so far... why can't I keep up with TV shows? www.verynerdycurly.com

What was keeping me from a mostly shirtless Tom Mison with long flowing locks and a smile that turned my legs into jelly? Why wasn’t I immediately bathing in the production values of this god damn pretty show? I dunno. Suddenly it seemed like too much effort to marathon it and make myself an emotionally available Hallmark card because it was the final season and I wasn’t ready? Maybe. Or maybe it was just easier to see which house a fiendishly annoying middle-class couple would choose on this episode of House Hunters, which I’m pretty sure I had already seen.


When did I become such a passive viewer? I am the bane of the television world in that I never watch live and it takes me weeks… months… god even years to catch up on an episode or season that I let slip by. And I honestly don’t understand why.

I have a very addictive personality and part of me wonders if that’s why I try not to binge watch anything anymore (except apparently EVERYTHING on the Food Network and HGTV, I swear I’ve gained 10lbs just watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives). When I first started Game of Thrones I watched three seasons in a week. Like, I lived and breathed that show when I wasn’t in class or at work. I was left destitute after I’d finished because it would be a whole MONTH before Season 4 started. I managed to keep up with it, but I still haven’t seen Season 5 beyond the first two episodes. Why? Too much effort? I don’t actually want to be Khaleesi??

The same goes for Supernatural. I was determined to finish the ENTIRE SERIES SO FAR before San Diego Comic Con… two years ago. I was making pretty good progress. The first five seasons went down like a fine whisky (because they’re the best, let’s just be clear on that), but struggled through season 6 and I’m still stuck in season 7 purgatory two years later. Season 7… that really did get to be too much effort.


I got so into those two series as I dived in, that I think I drowned a bit. It became too much and I had to step away. It just seems that I just kept stepping away… until I was about thirty miles away with car keys in my hand ready to drive to Tampa. But then it happened with new shows that I was really excited for. Remember all that stuff I wrote about The Librarians? The review, the lists, the interviews with the cast and crew? I was keyed in to that and the fandom from the get go, I could have had a great run with that content wise and I loved the premiere. It was everything I wanted in a television show.

But I still haven’t seen all of the first season.


Yeah, and it’s myself. WHYYYYYY, KRISTINA?! WHYYYY?

I was afraid of getting sucked in I think. I was worried my excitement would switch ovre to it and leave everything else I was already excited about all the time. Maybe?

I was so excited for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor that I fell off the bed when he walked out during the announcement event. I wrote about him quite a few times, gushed about his work, and actively reassured people he’d be fantastic. I still haven’t seen ANY of the last season. Though honestly I think a lot, if not all of it, has to do with Clara and that I despised her and didn’t want to deal with her seesawing characterization and the fact it wasn’t Doctor Who anymore but Clara What.

The road so far... why can't I keep up with TV shows? verynerdycurly.com

There’s a few reasons for all of this apparently, and yet not really a common denominator. Do I just not care anymore? Are my fangirling days and anxiety waiting for the new episode to air over? Or am I just in a (very long) slump and things will pick up again?

If you were expecting this to end with some sort of philosophic claim about the human mind in an age of technology and having too many choices and thus diminishing our desire to become properly engaged with our media, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’m sure that’s a think piece somewhere and it probably has a great deal of merit.

Meanwhile, if anyone has any tips for me, I’d love to hear them because people are being stupid on The Food Network.


You Can Now Have Your Dragon Age Decisions (& Mistakes) On Your Wall

I swear, every time BioWare comes out with something new I make a sound that only dogs can hear. You can now log into the Dragon Age Keep, where you record all the decisions you’ve made from all the games, and PRINT THEM OUT. BioWare has partnered with CanvasPop for this and good golly they look gorgeous.

Yes, you can now have a poster/canvas/MURAL of all your decisions in the beautiful Dragon Age Keep artwork. You have the choice between all your games being shown, or just one or two. You also have the choice between a canvas print or a framed paper print. Just log in to The Keep, load in your chosen world states, and then click Print. There’s also a helpful tutorial when you log in now.

Screenshot 2016-02-26 15.38.37

I went through a did this, curious as to the process and the price. Also it’s funny to see how much MAGE TRASH I am. Look, I wish I could use magic. So I will always play a mage as my canon whatever. If you’re curious, here are my canon world states.

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I clearly have a thing for suffering blondes as well…

So I clicked print to see what was up and my full timeline came into view.

Screenshot 2016-02-26 15.42.34

It’s quite neat to see it all laid out like that. Now, once you get to CanvasPopyou can move things around, choose different images to represent various things, etc. The possibilities are endless and there’s numerous layouts to choose from. The cheapest I could manage was $88 (ouch). Then again, I didn’t think this would be cheap anyways. At least we know the images will be hi-res and beautiful, but I’m interested to see how these turn out to whoever orders them!

In the meantime, I’ll go cry over my bank account.

Review: The Shannara Chronicles 1-5

This year’s cable fare has been kind to fantasy fans. Hot on the heels of AMC’s Into the Badlands and FX’s The Bastard Executioner, and running simultaneously with Freeform’s new Shadowhunters series, MTV has recently unleashed its own contender in the genre: The Shannara Chronicles. What sets The Shannara Chronicles apart from its immediate competition, however, is that it is neither high Medieval fantasy nor futuristic fantasy. Rather, the series cleverly hedges the divide by solidly staking out territory in both camps.

Based on the book series by legendary fantasy author Terry Brooks, The Shannara Chronicles takes place thousands of years after the downfall of mankind. Its characters are divided up amongst the standard races typical of the fantasy genre: elves, half-elves, trolls, demons, and, of course, humans. With magic believed to be long-dead and the War of the Races decades in the past, the elves hold dominion over the Four Lands, disliked and feared by the rest of the world’s population. A series of chosen guardians from among their ranks protect the Ellcrys Tree, a twist on the mythological Tree of Life, which guards the gateway between realms and keeps the Four Lands safe from demonic invasion. However, at the start of the series, the Ellcrys is dying. One of the Chosen must purify its seedling and plant it in its forbearer’s place before the demonic army of the corrupted, exiled druid Dagda Mor can conquer the Four Lands and destroy all who live there.

The Ellcrys Tree standing sentinel over the Four Lands, safe-guarded by the elven Chosen
The Ellcrys Tree standing sentinel over the Four Lands, safe-guarded by the elven Chosen.

The plot which follows is easily recognizable to any D&D campaigner worth their salt. Elven Princess Amberle, a member of the Chosen, must team up with half-elf mage-in-training Wil (who also happens to be a member of the ancient Shannara dynasty) and the roguish human rover Eretria to carry the Ellcrys’ seedling to its purification site and save the day. Along the way, they must battle the evil forces of the Dagda Mor and hon their skills, learning how to function as a team and growing steadily stronger in their own abilities. The fact that all three members of this unlikely trio have their own agendas, and that they wind up forming an inevitable love triangle, hardly gives this standard fantasy plot an air of mystery. Long-time fan favorites to the genre (John Rhys Davies, Manu Bennet) are joined by a cast of up-and-coming Hollywood stars (Austin Butler, Poppy Drayton, Ivana Baquero), and the acting is predictably uneven across the board. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the show as a whole tends to get a bit carried away with the ‘epicness’ of its own storyline. One hardly needs the sweeping fanfare of its over-the-top musical score as a reminder.

However, the series earns back points for its gorgeous execution. While the CGI graphics are on the better side of typical for made-for-TV entertainment, the show’s costuming, set design, and prop construction are truly noteworthy. Nature has reclaimed most of what the ‘ancient humans’ built in the legendary past, but some signs of their forgotten crafts still linger. The landscape of The Shannara Chronicles is littered with a host of mysterious, abandoned vehicles and the concrete and iron skeletons of once-impressive buildings.

The futuristic fantasy landscape of the Four Lands.
The futuristic fantasy landscape of the Four Lands.

This post-apocalyptic fantasy conceit works well on the macro level, but it is even more impressive on the micro level. Trolls wearing gas masks, rovers with tribal-esque braids in their hair; The Shannara Chronicles does an excellent job of blending the supple, flowing fashion usually associated with high fantasy with the darker, more primitive grunge designs often favored by futuristic epics. The Four Lands may have been shattered and remade in the aftermath of the War of the Races, but audiences can still take their expected cues from the social markers found in each character’s wardrobe: Princess Amberle is resplendent in her intricate jewelry and flowing robes; Eretria’s earth-toned clothes and motley assortment of leather make it clear that, despite her beauty, she has not had an easy life. And Wil, half-human, half-elf, appropriately wears the more subdued clothes of a character caught safely in between the other two.

Princess Amberle and her unique, lovely elvish ear cuffs
Princess Amberle and her unique, lovely elvish ear cuffs.

That does not mean, however, that the costuming is without its eye-pleasing subtleties. The neon cords braided into Eretria’s hair bear the faintest reminder that The Shannara Chronicles is not an epic straight out of Ye Olden Days. Amberle earns her right to be a member of the Chosen by running a gauntlet in what looks suspiciously like a long-sleeved, silk-screened t-shirt (and then celebrates the evening after in a gorgeous gown that any modern-day fashionista would be proud to wear.) The Elven king displays his official rank with the slim silver crown one would expect, but he also wears a sash much more reminiscent of a modern day statesman. When Amberle journeys to visit her aunt, a self-exiled elf living on the outskirts of the kingdom, she finds her dressed in a fascinating blend of homespun and well-worn regal garments. A good deal of thought has very obviously gone into each character’s unique wardrobe, as well as into the environments from whence they came, and it pays off. Their personalities, and the story as a whole, are richer, more vibrant, and more readily believable for it.

Rover leader Cephalo and his daughter, Eretria
Rover leader Cephalo and his daughter, Eretria.

The conceit behind The Shannara Chronicles is not original, but it is atypical enough to leave its audience pleasantly in the dark as to what happens next. The show’s impressive attention to detail enables viewers to look past its occasionally heavy-handed attempts at ‘epic fantasy’ and see into a well-crafted world of subtle detail and intriguing personalities. And while the men and women laboring behind the scenes on costume and set design may be the real unsung heroes of the saga, the main characters remain interesting and diverse enough to carry home the series’ central storyline. Medieval fantasy and futuristic fantasy fans alike can find something worth grabbing on to, here; the show is five episodes into the first season as of the writing of this article, and it is already clear that MTV has found a rich world capable of appealing to both sides.

The Shannara Chronicles airs on Tuesdays, 10/9c, on MTV.


CHenBioCrescenda Long is an amateur Medievalist, aspiring novelist, and part-time book reviewer for High Voltage Magazine.  When not working or frittering her life away on Neko Atsume, she can most often be found reading, writing, or gesticulating wildly about Japanese rock music.  She doesn’t bite (unless provoked); feel free to say hello via her twitter  or on tumblr.


If you would like to guest post for Very Nerdy Curly, please get in touch!

Pikachu… the Great Detective

Just in case you were worried there wasn’t enough nerdy content on this blog, we’re going to talk about Pokémon. You know it, I know it. The pocket monsters from Japan were my generation’s first great obsession. And the world’s.

My sister and I were enamored, and frankly are still; I got her Pokémon earrings for Christmas for Charmander’s sake! It was something we both really enjoyed and consumed at an alarming level, like most kids our age. We watched the anime, we collected the cards (she still has a binder full of holographics), and we both still play the games on our DS systems. I beat her all the time in Pokémon Stadium on N64 and she’s still angry about it.

It’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it?

One of my crowning achievements, to this day, was when I went to see the Pokémon movie in 7th grade with friends; it was the black out just before it started and in an impulsive move (quite shocking for very shy and awkward 12-year-old Kristina) I went “PIKACHU!” in a perfect impression of the electric mouse. Everyone cheered and clapped. They thought it was part of the movie. Nah. It was just me. I’m still proud of that.

So with the 20th anniversary of the franchise this year, I am excited for all the ridiculousness that will be coming, and I mean that in a very genuine way. The fact Pokémon Go, where you can use your smartphone to see, battle, and catch Pokémon out in the wild, is a thing still blows my mind. And with the first Superbowl commercial being released being a very epic Pokémon one… I’m expected great things.

As I’m sure many of you know, one of my great loves is Sherlock Holmes. Soooo, when images and the trailer for Great Detective Pikachu: The Birth Of A New Duo dropped, I may have gasped.


In a deerstalker!


Great Detective Pikachu: The Birth Of A New Duo won’t be getting a 2016 release in the US, considering it’s only just being released in Japan on February 3rd, but I expect hilarious things.

Watch the trailer below to see what I mean.

For one… Pikachu talks! As in, he has a seiyuu and has a surprisingly deep and smokey voice. There’s some relief in that there’s another Pikachu who blurts out its name like what we’ve expected and heard for twenty years. But hey, this isn’t Pikachu Pikachu, this is Great Detective Pikachu, and it seems the latter is just more… eloquent. And slightly scary. But that’s cool.

Also it seems GD Pikachu is a coffee drinker.


The music in the trailer definitely has some elements of Sherlock’s soundtrack, doesn’t it? I wonder, given all the new Holmes out there, that the Pokémon peeps wanted their iteration to follow in the same footsteps and be an anti-hero. I mean, I wouldn’t want to piss Pikachu off, he can electrocute you dead. But hey, let’s hear it for Pikachu Cumberbatch, eh?

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credit: melon-con-carne.tumblr.com

Whatever Great Detective Pikachu: The Birth Of A New Duo brings, I look forward to it. It’s gonna be the very best… see, it’s stuck in your head again!


Cosplaying With Your Grandma


Howl’s Moving Castle is one of my favorite Ghibli films, it gives Princess Mononoke a good run for it’s money. It’s a movie my college roommates and I would watch quite often (and my bestie and my’s sneaky way of getting them to watch anime muahaha). So it has a special place in my heart. I have always had a soft spot for cosplay from it. So when I came across Taiwanese cosplayer Hizuki Aya’s cosplay of herself as Howl and her grandmother as Sophie, I about melted into a pile of goo. Aya is better known as Yao in cosplay circles, and she does most of her work with her friend Alma on their cosplay page.

For those who don’t know, the story is basically a young woman named Sophie is magically aged by a woman known as The Witch of the Wastes, transforming her into an eldery woman. She leaves her home to try and stumbles across Howl’s Moving Castle, a crazy steampunk castle-monster-thing and home to the infamous wizard who is rumored to eat the heart’s of beautiful women. She poses as his new housekeeper and is brought into the crazy world of politics (there’s a war going on and the king is calling all witches and wizards to come to the country’s aid), Howl himself (he can turn into a giant bird, but turn too many times and you’re stuck forever), and the fantastical mismatched family he has (a young apprentice, a fire demon for a fireplace, and more). It’s a really lovely story and basically it’s a tale of seeing the inner beauty rather than the outer and it’s a magical tale that has Sophie discovering love, family, and herself. And of course it’s beautifully animated.


Just looking at the images above, the pair make a fantastic Sophie and Howl. They’re practically perfect in every way actually. But moreover, what I love the most about this cosplay shoot, is the fact it’s a family affair. Here you have a granddaughter participating in her favorite thing with her grandmother, involving her in something that she loves. Likewise, you have a grandmother supporting her granddaughter in a beautiful way.

Not to mention they’re just. so. perfect!

Do check out the rest of Yao’s cosplay because it’s AMAZING. Seriously. Girl’s got skills. Check out her Facebook.

Onwards To The Land of the Morning Calm

So I’m moving to South Korea.

For those of you who have been following along here on Very Nerdy Curly and on twitter won’t be too surprised I think. I’ve talked about it before, quite seriously actually. I’ve tweeted in mini essays about it and why I think it’d be a great idea and your feedback has been lovely. In the end I was just making sure I was convincing myself… or rather, I was letting myself realize that it was the right choice.


I’ve found myself in an odd, but not terrible situation. I’ve been getting more writing work, which has been wonderful, but also means I don’t have to be in any specific place. Granted, my on-air show at the local station is at stake here, and I do love my radio family, but I only have a show one day a week and  I’m very interested in the English language radio opportunities in Korea. There’s also internet radio, so I could just start up my own show in the land of the Morning Calm. I’ll be teaching English again, something that I did in Japan once upon a time, though I’ll be busier and teaching more often… which will be a great improvement.

One of these things is not like the other...
One of these things is not like the other…

When I told my sister, the first thing she asked was: why Korea? Other than the reasons mentioned above, the main reason is the ability to make and save some money. I’ve been thinking about the best way to go about that. I have quite a few friends now in Denver where the economy and job market (especially in tech and creative works) is doing really well and I’ve been seriously entertaining heading there, but I wanted to do so feeling secure. I can’t do that at the moment. I know any one of them would be willing to put me up until I got a job and got myself situated, but it’s a point of pride and self-reliance that I want to do it on my own. I’m determined really. So while I tried to find something local, I even went the retail route, nothing was coming up.

However I knew I could get a job teaching English. I’ve done it before and have multiple teaching and childcare credentials to my name. It makes sense. The Korean economy isn’t in the best of shape, no, but I also know how to live frugally. Any graduate student becomes more than efficient at that before long after all. So while my salary may only be around $2k a month in Korea, I should be able to save at least half of that every month as my housing will be paid for by my school and expenses won’t be too high going by what I’ve researched.

Also there’s the creativity aspect. The last time I lived and worked in Asia, I wrote a book. I really want to get back to creating, and every time I’ve been in Asia, be it visiting or living there, I have found myself immensely inspired. I don’t know what it is, but I like it. And I intend to use it.


So that’s the grown up plan. Go to South Korea doing something I will enjoy, broaden my horizons a bit, live responsibly, CREATE, save money, and do things on my terms. Will I stay a year in Korea? Probably. But I could stay longer. It’s hard to say now when I still have lots of steps to go through before I head out.

The first time I went to Korea it was the summer of 2010 and I was finishing up my contract in Japan. It rained pretty much the entire time. I 34319_541674772841_5522780_nwent with a fellow JET and we did all the touristy things like the DMZ tour and palace hopping and the folk village. We got new glasses Namdaemun and ate more kimchi than we knew what to do with (especially since our taste buds were so use to Japanese food which, while delicious, is not spicy at all). It was only a three-day-long trip and I immediately yearned to go back. After finishing The Mongol Rally I finally got that chance, and I won’t lie, a large part of me wanting to head back to Korea after the rally was to gauge if I did want to move there. I’ve been writing about that trip in detail at The Nerdventurists, but in short, I found myself aching to stay longer. Korea is a country caught in rapid constant change. It’s modern and not afraid to affiliate itself with the Western world, but also it is fierce in keeping to its traditions, especially when it comes to food. It’s not as intense about it as Japan, which I find interesting from a cultural standpoint, but I also understand it given the two countries’ history.

It’d be remiss to talk about reasons I have been drawn to Korea without mentioning their pop cultural exports: KPOP and KDrama. Two years ago I had no idea about the Hallyu craze. I wouldn’t have been able to name a single Korean artist or actor if you paid me. But in my YouTube roulette looking up versions of a song I loved from a German musical (look, I’m super nerdy OK?), I came across a Korean version and immediately fell in love with the singer’s smokey voice. That singer turned out to be Kim Junsu, a legendary figure of the KPOP world and former TVXQ member (the first Korean boy group to break into Japan). Little did I know it would be a slippery slope and I discovered his discography and music videos and the rest is history.

I’ve talked about my battle with depression and panic disorder here and there, but I had never tried any sort of music therapy before. Despite working in radio, I’m not much of a music person. I mainly did talk radio. If someone had asked me my favorite band a few years ago I literally wouldn’t have been able to tell you; not because I couldn’t choose, but because I simply didn’t have one. But there was something about Junsu’s voice, his passion, and frankly his killer dance moves that helped me. His dance tracks help me feel energized and happy, his ballads can comfort me or help me cry when I need to and the tears won’t come.

Through discovering him I discovered his new group, JYJ, and other artists. I got introduced into Korean Dramas and found many of my friends were also fans. It was a new world for me and one that just genuinely made me very happy. It’s very unlikely I’ll ever be able to see Junsu live as he has to enlist in mandatory military service this year, but his work alone has done wonders for me. I wish I could explain it better, but I invite you to watch the two videos above to see sort of what I may be talking about. Or at least enjoy the show.

In my planning to learn Hangul, I came across a proverb that I thought was quite apt for this decision and going forward.

가려운 곳을 긁어 주다


Galyeoun gos-eul geulg-eo juda. It literally means “you scratch where it itches.” Moving to Korea has been itching my brain for ages. I kept going back and forth, back and forth, but it’s time to scratch that itch. I know I’m still young and that there’s no rule saying you can’t keep bouncing all over the world as you get older, but I want to do this now before I do get settled somewhere (if I ever do, let’s be real). It’s time to scratch that itch. And so, 가려운 곳을 긁어 주다!

Living and working in Korea will bring a slew of challenges, but I am ready for them and am excited for them. Now to get all that paperwork done…

There’s Rey

Despite being the main character of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rey has been very absent from most of Hasbro’s tie-in merchandise. They’ve had every sort of excuse for that from saying they didn’t want to reveal spoilers than she was important (heaven forbid people learn a WOMAN is a main character in a franchise) to that the toy set in question didn’t need her. Right.


Not only is she the main character, she’s a fierce young woman who is strong, independent, and relatable. She’s a great role model for children and adults alike and she’s been inspiring more than one girl who has exclaimed in joy at seeing a woman kick ass on screen. You hardly need me to tell you this.

Sites had to go out of their way to find Rey merchandise. This shouldn’t have to happen, but at least the internet has the ability. Consequently you can find such a list here.

Hasbro promised more toys in the future after #WheresRey gained traction online. The hashtag came about as people, especially young girls, realized they couldn’t find any Rey merchandise in stores. Female action figures and toys from films are notoriously underrepresented and you’d think with how big Star Wars was that Hasbro would capitalize on the fact people would want Rey merchandise. But apparently not because… boobs.


The latest, and perhaps largest, outcry came from Rey being excluded form the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Monopoly edition that was released. There was no Rey figurine but there was a Darth Vader piece… who isn’t even in The Force Awakens.

Fans took to twitter and Facebook in annoyance, anger, and exhaustion to chide Hasbro for omitting her. They came back saying they didn’t want to reveal her as being important enough to the movie, which is an excuse that is both hysterically idiotic and telling of how much Hasbro doesn’t think people want female merchandise. I could continue ranting about this, but the power of social media has spared you because #WheresRey has worked.

Hasbro will be including a Rey game piece in Monopoly going forward. Granted it’s later this year when they make a new run of the game, but it’s something, and proof that if you’re upset about under representation in merchandise, you can say something about it and something may actually happen.

Thank goodness.

Oh The Places You’ll Go.


I was sorely tempted to just write a thousand words on my immense Star Wars feelings, but the last thing the world needs at the moment is yet another Star Wars review. In short, I loved it to pieces and beyond and I cannot properly express my delight that the largest film at the moment (and possibly of all time if projections are correct) stars a woman, a black man, and a Hispanic man. Like… that’s amazing, and how much I reacted to Rey and how empowered and happy I was after my now two viewings of The Force Awakens speaks volumes of the importance of representation in media. Especially epic franchise media. Also BB-8 is the cutest and purest thing in the world and I NEED ONE.


But that’s what I’ll say about Star Wars. Perhaps in the new year I will solidify my own theories about who is what and what is going to happen, etc. In the new year a lot of things will be happening. And that’s why I’m going to take a step back for the rest of the year.

I’ve been trying to find out my place in time and space the past few weeks, most in terms of work and thinking about what I really want for the future. I think I have a plan and I’ll know better before the end of January. But for now I am going to decompress.


There’s only a few days of 2015 left and as always, tis the time of contemplation. 2015 was good to me more or less: I became a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, I graduated with a master’s degree, I got a job on-air in radio, I did the Mongol Rally and drove across 17 countries in 33 days, I raised a bunch of money for charity through various events, and I actually get paid to write things now with a fantastic group of people. 2015 was very good, but I want 2016 to be great. I want to take what this past year has given me and apply it to my future. I want to create again, I want to save money, I want to keep exploring, and I want to be excited.

I want to keep going.

This morning on my show I told people to get a head start on their New Year’s resolutions, to start now instead of waiting. If you’ve already got 11988317_786218729872_9167482284402599353_nsomething in your mind, just take that step in the moment. Don’t wait. If you wait it’s less likely you’re going to do it. Find a way to do it now. I started. You should too. No matter what it is. Do it now. I realize a lot of this is quite cryptic, but that’s because my plans aren’t 100% set in stone. Also I’m down and out with a cold sinus-y… thing so nothing totally makes sense at the moment. But what I am clear of is that we are all responsible for our own destinies as it were. Things can knock us down, drag us down even, but we have to push ourselves and make the choice to keep going and to go forward. Sometimes we’ll have friends, old and new, that will inspire us. Sometimes we have to chart that journey alone. So whether you’re Finn, afraid and unsure, or courageous Poe, or Rey, independent, brave, and yet still wary… know that you have it in you to do whatever you want to do. It may take awhile, but the journey has to start somewhere.

So May the Force Be With You (and also with you… you can leave the church but damned if that phrase will never leave you), and come on 2016… I’ve got expectations of you.