CHOCOLATE POST

I love chocolate. And I brought a Hershey bar with me today. And so this is my chocolate post. Here are a list of strange and unsavory-sounding desserts that you have probably never heard of that are made with chocolate.

1) Chocolate beetroot cake…made with beets 

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2) Chocolate-covered sun-dried tomatoes

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3) Chocolate seafood soup

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4) Chocolate cauliflower cake

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5) Chocolate onions

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6) Chocolate covered squid

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My Favorite Strong Female Characters

Strong doesn’t mean leather-wearing, ass-kicking, weapon-wielding heart-of-stone heroines who are unemotional and unfeminine (because that is what media seems to think defines “strong” women). No, strong is being brave and courageous, facing your fears, getting up when you fall, making the right choices and decisions, and going on no matter how hard it is. Strong is everything that you take for granted in a male hero but is usually surprising (or absent) in a female lead. Strong doesn’t mean inhuman. It means you are human.

And with that note, this is my list of my favorite strong female characters that I absolutely love (in other words, characters I’d love to be best friends with).

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1) Hermione Jean Granger (obviously)-pretty self-explanatory. Bad-ass and feminine, logical and emotional, clever but sweet…not to mention Harry and Ron would’ve been toast without her, starting from way back in the first book!

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2) Allison Argent-she was the female lead of the supernatural show Teen Wolf from its first season to the third. She has since grown to be one of my most favorite people, and one of the reasons I loved the show. An archer who wore floral dresses and boots and dealt with guns and knives–heck yeah! Not to mention she died saving her best friend. She died for her best friend. She’ll admit how scared she truly is and yet she’ll go into battle fearlessly to protect her loved ones, and if that isn’t strength, what is?

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3) Rapunzel-I love how the filmmakers re-imagined Rapunzel in Tangled. Spunky, outspoken, unafraid and able to stand her ground–how can you resist her?!

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4) Gogo Tomago-One of the major characters of the new Disney-Marvel animated film Big Hero 6, she is just amazing–a daredevil, an adrenaline junkie and a master at witty one-liners and sarcasm, so even though she doesn’t say much, you’ll always have fun with her. Not to mention she’s a mechanical engineering student! Tough and science? Always a good mix. (Did I mention she’s Korean?) Plus, she’s fiercely loyal and understanding–can’t judge by appearance!

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5) Honey Lemon-Another major character part of the Big Hero 6 team, it is just hard not to love her–optimistic, bright, eccentric and highly-fashionable, Honey Lemon is super-sweet and quirky–but just like Gogo, can’t judge by appearance. She is a highly-intelligent chemistry whiz and runs an online boutique (and she’s Latina!). She loves chemistry, clothes, and her friends–she shows that you can definitely rock science in 6-inch platform heels!

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6) Misty-The original female lead character of Pokemon, I loved Misty while growing up–she was my childhood idol, and the first female character I really looked up to. I would even try to do my hair like her! She’s energetic, outgoing and determined with a softer caring side, and it was always fun to see her friendships with Ash and Brock. Her never-give-up attitude and emotional investment in her friends and in herself makes her a perfect friend.

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7) Geet Dhillion-the female lead in one of my favorite Bollywood films, Jab We Met, Geet breaks all stereotypes of a typical Bollywood heroine–she isn’t there to just serve as the love interest. Optimistic, impulsive, talkative, and always one to look on the bright side, Geet takes charge of her own life and speaks her mind about everything. Moreover, she isn’t afraid to be herself, and brushes off anyone who undermines her. She doesn’t fire guns or throw punches but she’s realistic, lovable, loyal, and of course, strong-hearted (and her spontaneity would make it so much fun to be her friend).

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8) Ananya Swaminathan-the female lead of another favorite Bollywood film, 2 States, Ananya is all for breaking societal stereotypes–she calls the guy out when he says things like “you’re supposed to know how to cook, you’re a woman” and she herself will throw sharp remarks like, “It doesn’t take a guy a second to jump into bed but the moment you talk about commitment, they need ‘time to think’.” I love Ananya because she’s strong-willed, bold, confident, thinks for herself, and takes matters into her own hands. At the same time, she’s caring, emotional and loves her family enough that she won’t leave or hurt them, not even for a guy. And that, my friends, is the kind of woman and daughter anyone should love.

 

The Power of Music (also known as my longest post on here so far)

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard at least once in your life that “music brings people together” (or something like it). I’ve read it on corny coffee mugs, decorative wall plaques for your living room, and quote blogs that aim to inspire. And yeah I believed it but didn’t really believe it you know, it was like something you see in rom-coms and Disney movies.

But now I think I believe it. Kinda?

Let me regale you with some of my music history: back in high school, I had two favorite bands, two bands that I absolutely loved and fangirled over like nothing else: There for Tomorrow and Tokio Hotel. Both bands helped me through lots of things, and I still remember which song got me through which situation. Moreover, I had a friend in high school who loved Tokio Hotel as much as I did and we bonded over the band and became really close friends, fangirling together, defending the band to others who had the audacity to make fun of them, and making Tokio Hotel gifts for each other. In junior year of high school, I saw There for Tomorrow in concert for the first time and got to meet and take a photo with every member except the guitarist (at the end of the concert, a machine went wrong and filled the room with smoke that left residue on my boots. I’ll always remember how Jay, the bassist, bent to brush it off my boots when I pointed it out to him–such a sweet gesture!!). It was a golden time.

Then things kind of cooled. My friend and I grew apart and stopped talking altogether; There for Tomorrow, whose last album came out in 2011, didn’t release any new albums for the next two years. They quietly did their own things, and it looked like the band members were growing apart; Tokio Hotel, whose last album came out in 2009, lapsed into an even longer silence and didn’t release any new albums either, though they did other things like judging a German reality talent show, and interacting with fans.

Finally, circumstances changed in 2014. There for Tomorrow self-released a new EP. And for the first time in two years, they posted a new photo of the whole band laughing together. Fans were elated–was elated. But then they posted an announcement, suddenly confirming their long period of inactivity and what looked like the band members growing apart: they were ending the band. They’d decided to explore new career options their music had opened up for them, and would be playing farewell shows in their hometown Orlando, Florida.

I was heartbroken to say the least. No more new music from a band I’d always loved. I wouldn’t even get to see their farewell shows, being here in NYC. But I was grateful for the fact that I had seen them live at least once before they separated.

At nearly the same time, Tokio Hotel, after five years, emerged with a new album and a new experimental sound, straying from their usual alternative rock to more electronic. They also looked different–Bill, the lead singer, is of course forever changing his appearance, but guitarist Tom and bassist Georg also had new looks (and looked 10 times more attractive because of it).

And then, my Tokio Hotel friend from high school, who I had not talked to for about four years now, suddenly sent me a friend request. Surprised, I accepted and sent her the video for the single, Run, Run, Run, from their new album, with the message “for old times’ sake.” She responded instantly and we talked about the new album, the band members’ new appearances and how cute they looked, their new music videos, etc and it was as if we’d never stopped talking. We just fell right back into the old rhythm and bonded again over Tokio Hotel. So the band brought us together (again) in a way?

Now that There for Tomorrow isn’t together anymore, I find myself leaning on Tokio Hotel for support. Here I am, crediting them for my friendship with this girl back when we were 14, and crediting them again now, because they’re the reason we’re talking so effortlessly again. I just feel so glad that, where my other favorite band has broken up, where almost everything else has changed, Tokio Hotel, a band that has been together since 2001 (2001 !!) has not broken up, are still together, are still happy together as a band and are still making music.

Some fans don’t like it when their favorite bands experiment with new sounds but I found myself actually liking the fact that Tokio Hotel was trying out something new. I appreciated the effort. Maybe because I’ve entered a new phase in my life? Maybe because I’m about to become a year older in exactly one month from now and still can’t wrap my head around it? Maybe because I realize things are changing little by little and these changes are just preparing me for the bigger changes that are coming? They’ve grown up and I’ve grown up, and I know what it’s like to want to try something new.

So I guess you could say that as Tokio Hotel understands me, I understand them.

 

Here’s the video for the single from their new album.

 

“Stories are Wild Things.”

Two nights ago, I stayed up in bed till 2am, reading A Monster Calls.

I read this book once, back in high school, and fell in love with it. The story is about a 13-year-old boy, Conor, who’s had a recurring nightmare ever since his mother started her cancer treatments. And then a monster comes walking, an ancient wild monster who wants the one thing Conor refuses to give: the truth.

I never got the chance to reread it. Recently, on an errand for Gotham, I found the book by chance, sticking out of a shelf in the YA/Children’s section of a bookstore, and as it was the only copy left, I took it as a sign to buy it. And so I did and took to reading it every night, when no one could disturb me (and also because reading alone at night helps me get into the atmosphere of the story).

Well maybe that was a mistake.

I’ll say this: a book has never made me bawl before. Bawl as in sob into your pillow like your heart has been broken to pieces. I suppose I didn’t cry the first time because I read the book while surrounded by loud teenagers and an ever-moving environment. But the story did lodge into my heart and stay.

And there I was two nights ago, reading the last few pages of the story, and it was as if instead of lodging in my heart this time, the story lodged in my throat like an Adam’s apple, and  I was crying, right onto the book and then into my pillow. I couldn’t help it. The language, the utter pain of Conor losing his mother slowly, the grief, the knowledge that no matter what, there are some things in the world you can never ever control, and one of them is bringing someone back from death, was just overwhelming. And I kept imagining my own family, my own mother, and like an idiot, placing myself into Conor’s sad shoes.

And for the first time, I positively bawled over a book. So thank you Patrick Ness. If I ever meet him, I will tell him that I aspire to write like him, that I aspire to be a cruel unforgiving writer who makes her readers sob and cry about the unfairness of the emotions the story give them. Maybe I’m too emotional, maybe I too easily allow for stories and films to stick themselves in my heart and torture me, but I guess that’s the point. “Stories are wild things,” the monster told Conor, and indeed they are.

 

A Rainy November Day and New Things

It was a very atmospheric day here at Gotham–it rained all day and is still raining. In the afternoon, it was raining so hard that the AC sounded like it was being battered. The sound of the drops constantly hitting the part of the AC that juts outside reverberated throughout the entire office so that we were obliged to mention how loud it was. I stepped outside the room for a minute and was amazed to hear how silent it was, compared to the ruckus of the rain inside the office!

I enjoyed it though. It was good background music and the first time since I joined Gotham it rained so hard. And for someone who likes rain, hey, I didn’t mind. I was just thinking how it would’ve been nice to play in that rain if it was warmer, which it’s not. Right now, it’s slowed down enough so that it’s like a simple and sharp tut tut tut on the AC. Rainy rainy November day.

On a less rainier side, yesterday, I watched Big Hero 6 in theaters for the second time! (I love that movie so so much.) This time with my best friend, who’s never seen it. She was all-out crying by the end of the movie so I believed I’d done my job. Afterward, we went to Chinatown, where I tried lychee bubble tea with tapioca balls, garlic-flavored popcorn chicken on sticks, a dish of lo mein and rice vermicelli on top of each other with vegetables, warm mini cakes from a small street vendor and sweet coconut bread bun–all for the first time! 

Yes, it sounds like a lot and it was a lot! (Gosh now I’m hungry just thinking about it.) If we get technical, the chicken was our appetizer, the noodles were the main dish and the sweet coconut bread bun that we shared was the dessert. The tapioca was too bland for me, and I preferred the lo mein to the vermicelli (I must get that again), but if we talk general, I loved just about everything, and I’m definitely returning! Plus, the prices are great.

I guess I forgot to mention that by the time we had the noodles, it was really dark and we ended up eating in darkness in a park filled with old people where we generally felt safe–but made sure we sat right by the entrance so we could book it if we needed to! We did book it eventually–but because I saw an enormous rat scamper across the park, looking like it was tiptoeing, and it pretty much freaked us out.

Quite an adventure for a Sunday! But I got to try new things, which I absolutely love doing. I’ve found that trying new food and new experiences help me become more open-minded, and I think it can help anyone become open-minded. This is just the start–I have many more new things to try.

The foods I tried in the exact order I tried them:

Around 2008 to 2010, the emo/alternative rock scene became pretty big, with many bands of such genres rising to the top and becoming popular. I’ve listened to a lot of these bands and I still love some of them. However, I realized that a lot of their songs have lyrics that don’t even make sense. Maybe you listened to them back in 2008 and thought, “Wow, that is so deep, it’s perfect, yes, that’s exactly how I feel” but now, you’ll probably think “What the heck was that even supposed to mean?!” So here I present to you a list of lyrics from certain songs by these bands that don’t really make sense to me now.

  1. The white on your nose is your secret to tell -“Built for Sin” by Framing Hanley
  2. I creep around over egg shells down at the start. -“WarZone” by Framing Hanley
  3. Towers won’t fit our view -“Clocks” by Versaemerge
  4. Cast about the night with your hands -“If You’re Wondering” by Eisley
  5. Your initial reply hit me undercover -“Remember When” by There for Tomorrow (I’m sorry TFT, I love you to pieces)
  6. Adulterous conditioned to a spin cycled submission -“My Blue Heaven” by Taking Back Sunday
  7. Flower tongue wilts with too much sun -Lonely Lonely by Taking Back Sunday
  8. Till every word I say is on waver -“Hell On The Throat” by Dashboard Confessional
  9. I taste you like a hammer through my teeth -“The Cheap Bouquet by Pierce the Veil
  10. I tried to settle for the taste of touching glass over the sound of answering machines- “The Sky Under the Sea” by Pierce the Veil

 

Animated Films (Well okay, actually Pixar/Dreamworks/Disney films)

Today, I am going to discuss animated films because over the weekend, I watched Big Hero 6 and now, lo and behold, I am in love.

Big Hero 6 was one of those films that I walked in knowing I would love even before I watched it. And I was right! (I know myself so well.) It’s my new favorite animated film and I can’t wait to get the DVD. That movie messed me up for good. Too many feels! I completely fell in love with Hiro and Baymax. Please give me my own Baymax!

The reasons I love Big Hero 6 is the reason I love animated films in general. The story, the characters, the feelings, the messages.

There’s a lot of animated films from Pixar, Dreamworks and Disney that I love, films I could watch over and over (I’ve watched Rise of the Guardians so many times now that I pretty much know it by heart). I’m sure that when I get the DVD for Big Hero 6 I will also know it by heart.

So here’s a list of my top favorite animated films, the newest of which is currently number one!

  1. Big Hero 6
  2. Rise of the Guardians
  3. Tangled
  4. Toy Story 3
  5. Up
  6. Finding Nemo
  7. WALL-E