Second month of 2019 is pretty much done and dusted! It seems to have absolutely flown by (unmistakably the shortest month of the year) and I’m reaching a very important stage of my PhD candidature. This month has been pretty slow in terms of progress, but I have (guiltily) taken some extra time to chill out. I think it’s doing me some good, honestly, so let’s recap what’s happened this month:
Won the poster award at the local conference!
Submitted an important report for an upcoming milestone
Took some really beautiful photos on the microscope
Things I’ve watched
I made the mistake of getting Netflix and have fallen into an endless hole of sitcoms and kdrama.
The Good Place I’d been wanting to watch this series for the longest time, so of course it would be my first pick after getting Netflix (≧∀≦) Smashed through 3 seasons in record time too. What a breath of fresh air!
One Day At A Time If you’re looking for something to watch that is equal parts hilarious and wholesome, look no further. Finally got around to finishing season 1 and completed season 2 just in time for season 3 to come out!
Memories of the Alhambra This one was also a great choice. So nice to see a different concept like this and the plot definitely kept me on my toes.
Strong Woman Do Bongsoon My first time seeing Hyungsik act and was not disappointed! Kung Fu Hustle meet Criminal Minds, this drama did so well balancing comedy and an intriguing plot.
Things I’ve read
I haven’t been very good with my reading this month. I had initially picked up The Color of Lies by C.J. Lyons but have since put it aside. I’m only about a chapter in, but I feel that it’s definitely written for a younger teen audience. It’s probably that now is not the right time for me to pick up a novel like this, so for now it’s shelved as on-hold.
I did also start Antigoddess by Kendare Blake, after having watched The Good Place and felt itchy to read something mythology. This one fits more with what I needed to read at the time rather than The Color of Lies, but then managed to get distracted by Netflix. It’s definitely not unusual for me to cycle through reading-watching-playing different things, so I will come back to this eventually!
Things I’ve listened to
While backtracking music, I came across 내비게이션 (Navigation) by Pentagon’s Hui. I’m a huge fan of Wanna One’s Energetic, which is also one of Hui’s songs so it made sense to look for more! This one was a great find.
And of course, MONSTA X dropped their comeback album We Are Here, full of quality songs. Definitely MX style and the B-sides are incredible too!
Some fun things
Worked an easy cover shift at my tutoring job and had a nice lunch with a friend from work
Caught up with the girls from high school over a night in with pizza
Felt alive again after doing an exercise class I haven’t done in around a year and released what “no pain, no gain” means
Celebrated the completion of 2 PhDs in our lab!
Things I’m looking forward to in March
Getting over this confirmation milestone so I can move on with my life
(Getting over this confirmation milestone so I can start a new drama)
Getting started with this pilot study so I can move on with my life
Putting in some applications for some important programs/events!
We’re about to officially step into autumn, but ironically the 1st of March will be a toasty 37°C… Hopefully the weather is a bit kinder, and may we all have an enjoyable month!
If there is one thing you must know about me, it is that I have a deep appreciation for stop-motion animation. More specifically, for the works of Laika Studios. Travis Knight is the mastermind behind the production of these animated masterpieces like Coraline, Paranorman, and The Boxtrolls. The most recent film was 2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings. These films are small in number, but epic in production quality.
Kubo and the Two Strings is the first Laika film to be directed by Travis himself and goodness what a beautiful story it tells of magic, family and memories. It follows Kubo, a performer who brings his stories literally to life with music. This piece is truly complete with stunning visuals, elegant music and a unique story.
These films can be quite dark!
I’ve grown up with those around me firmly believing that anything ‘cartoon’ or ‘animated’ is merely for children. Having more and more exposure over the years, works like the Laika films completely banish these ideas! Kubo and the Two Strings, particularly, is more suited for a mature audience. I mean, the sisters manifesting from the river?! That scene chilled me to the very b o n e. The story also has such great contrast between dark and light. One moment the story is completely horrifying, then next, beautifully colourful and cheery. It’s work like this that makes me believe in magic.
Paranorman was more comedic but it also boldly touched on some issues that many family films tend to skim over. And all that really needs to be said about Coraline is: The Other Mother.
Laika studios has really evolved…
Through the years, we’ve really seen Laika animation technology blossom. Starting with Coraline, which was an incredible feat at its time, stop-motion animation has become almost flawless. Libraries of thousands of unique facial expressions, tens of large detailed sets, the many, many frames that go into making a single sequence! So much effort goes into creating these pieces and it is not appreciated even nearly enough!
For Kubo and the Two Strings, I especially appreciate the thorough research into a culture that probably not many of the designers were familiar with. Every fabric pattern, details in the towns, every element was so well-researched.
Not too long ago, Laika had an exclusive exhibit at the Portland Art Museum showcasing more of the behind the scenes. (Also the Laika x Nike collaboration? Those kicks looked awesome!) I’m so glad it existed, although I couldn’t go there myself. Hopefully in future they have another exhibit! I hope that more people are able to realise the beauty of stop-motion. It truly has a special charm unmatched by any CG animation.
Where to from here?
Laika has a film set for release in April, The Missing Link. Judging from trailers, this one seems more light-hearted! I’m really excited to go and see it.
And just some fun facts…
I was just having a look at Travis Knight’s profile and before becoming an animator, he started off as a rapper (Chilly Tee).
His father is a co-founder and current chairman of Nike. This explains the Laika x Nike shoes!
Travis also recently produced a live action film – the newest Transformers film. I still need to see that one.
On the wavelength of stop-motion, there are a couple of other non-Laika honourable mentions:
Mary and Max (2009)
Anomalisa (2015): This one, I’ve had a friend rave about. I’ve only gotten as far as the trailer so far but wow, quality!
There’s still a lot out there I haven’t seen or even heard about before, so long way to go! May we discover some more gems down the stop-motion rabbithole.
I c a n n o t believe it’s already time to say goodbye to January. I’ve been back at uni since the second day of the year, but somehow, things have felt pretty stagnant! I know in my case (and definitely not uncommonly), I am much harsher on myself and expect much more compared to what I expect from others. I’m still coming to terms with being satisfied with how far I’ve come, and reflection is a big part of this process. That being said, let’s see what I got up to this last month!
Made my first poster for a local conference
Took on a new leadership position for a student association
Smashed through a series of experiments with our post-doc, E
Found out some really interesting results!
Things I’ve watched
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse
After hearing A absolutely rave about it in the lab, I went to see it with a few friends and was completely blown away by the animations!
Currently watching: Duet Song Festival I’ve seen plenty of amazing performance cuts on Youtube (like this one and this one) and decided to start watching episodes in full.
Things I’ve read
Picked up my Kindle again sometime in December and read steadily into the new year!
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
This one was a reread. I picked up this series initially probably 10 years ago!
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Followed through with Book 2 from The Iron Fey series ◝(●˙꒳˙●)◜
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Got ~70% of the way through this and couldn’t read any more.. I wrote a few things about it here.
Currently reading: The Color of Lies by C.J. Lyons Reviews are a little mixed but I’m giving it a go!
Things I’ve listened to
APink’s title track응응 (Eung Eung) from their new mini Percent dominated my top tracks in the first half of the month! An absolute jam ✧ω✧
Then second half, ASTRO came back with a full album All Light and I fell down a rabbit hole (note my Youtube history consists of a bunch of their fancams, live performance vids, and the iconic Catching Cicada video). 전화해 (All Night) is a true masterpiece. Congratulations to the boys for their first music show win with this album!
Aside from these songs that I put on repeat 741,879 times, there are some other picks for the month.
Some fun things
Testing my green thumb and saw my first seedling sprout (am likely to win a challenge against our post-doc, N)
Established a culture of playing Monopoly Deal during lunchtimes
Things I’m looking forward to in February
Crunch time with new experiments
Long overdue catch-ups with a variety of friend groups
After listing all these things down, I realise I did quite a few things after all! (≧∀≦) May Feb be even better!
I can no longer remember which novel started it all, but one of my most treasured friendships blossomed in the realisation that we shared a common taste in urban fantasy. Back then, my dear friend raved about a series: Guild Hunter by Nalini Singh.
Finally.. after about 10 years.. I have started it!
Now, this book is a bit far from what I usually read. It is without any faery magic or paranormal beings. It is raw and encapsulates the American college student culture that I cannot even begin to understand. It is dirty and disturbing in ways different to the horrors of dark fantasy. Buckle up, because I have a lot of things to say.
So, starting up a WordPress blog, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do with it. I was under the impression that most have a designated theme, whether it’s life advice, a platform for news, a photography portfolio, or just sharing recounts of everyday life.
Being a research student with a number of side interests, I thought maybe I’d blog about one of these things. Maybe a blog to share my thoughts on books I’ve read. Some attempts at higher level thinking. Maybe some snapshots of what life is as a PhD student. Or even just a place to recommend music, film, etc.
Unsurprisingly, after much deliberation, I couldn’t choose and so I decided actually, I won’t choose!
This blog is therefore a mishmash of things that are me.
Don’t hesitate to drop me a message. Who knows where this blog will go, but let’s find out together! ٩(◦`꒳´◦)۶