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2015: The Year in Random Thoughts and Obsessions

For my yearly wrap up of 2013, I wrote, “All hail the return of the king – David Bowie – and the art of the music video.” And I included a link to his surreal collaboration with Tilda Swinton for ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’. Two years later and RIP, we’re talking and posting about how much we’ll miss Bowie. (My thoughts can be found here.)

Yes, the last year has been especially tough. I’ve lost friends and heard of marriages dissolving, read helplessly of terrorist attacks in France and the continuing assault on women’s rights in the U.S. Not to mention the masses of refugees desperate for safe havens and the innocent lives struck down by gun violence.

“Day In Day Out

Stay In Fade Out”

Yet, in the midst of everyday upheaval, small glories continue to reveal themselves. Glimmers of hope to remind us that we are not alone, that quite simply, wonders never cease. Here’s a small sampling of some of my favorite things from the world of popular culture:

lady story

Yes please! More stories about strong females. (photo taken at a shopping center in Sha Tin, by therockmom)

  1. Serena Williams tops my list for consistent awesomeness. What a joy to watch her match against Heather Watson at Wimbledon. I was with my daughters and nephews on a sunny summer morning, trying to explain the arcane scoring system. All of us cheered on Williams yet at the same time felt inexplicably proud that Watson could stretch her to three sets. Later in the year, the girls and I watched the marvelous doc, Venus and Serena, and although Williams didn’t get her Grand Slam at the US Open, we still knew: she is the greatest.
  1. In movies and television, we sought out strong girls and women and, even in the midst of the industry’s glaring inequalities, still found a few to shout about, namely: Kate (Emily Blunt/Sicario), Riley and Joy (Inside Out), Alex (Priyanka Chopra/Quantico), Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw/Beyond the Lights), Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska/Ida) and of course Rey (Daisy Ridley/Star Wars Ep VII). Recently I’ve had the pleasure of introducing my kids to The X-Files Season One and the complex relationship between Scully the scientist and Mulder the believer. As the new episodes remind us, the X-Files is just great storytelling.
  1. While I still can’t convince EO and YO of the wonders of Jane Austen, school assignments and various recommendations (not quite me shoving a book in to their hands and saying: read this! but close, lol.) have introduced them to classics by Harper Lee, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Golding along with plenty of Judy Blume.
  1. And in the Department of Obsessions, I still can’t get enough of Castle, Mesut Ozil (COYG!), Maneki Nekos and Justin Beiber’s (lack of) facial hair. Say what you want, go on, I can take it 😉

    Imagine Dragons & phones

    The lights! The sounds! The… phones. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. (photo taken at Imagine Dragons’ HK show, by therockmom)

  1. Last but certainly not least, music! Live highlights of the year were Clockenflap in Hong Kong and Taylor Swift in Washington DC. For Swift, it was the girls, Grandma plus me and my dear friend and her daughter. We sat (and stood) in awe at Swift’s seemingly effortless command of the stage. She is a Force, thankfully using her powers for good, not evil. However, due to her dissatisfaction with Spotify, she’s not on my playlist of the year’s best. Instead I’ve included Ryan Adams’ version of ‘Wildest Dreams’, which was my favorite song of hers from 1989. His cover is just okay, kind of standard, sensitive RA. As I listen I realize that his whole take on 1989 has missed the point entirely. The point is that these songs were written by and about a young woman and her very specific experiences with the push and pull of desire. So a guy in his ‘40s? I don’t think he can quite capture what she’s feeling, that moment in time. As much as I love Ryan Adams, he could have given this project a miss.

I’ll finish here with the playlist – 25 songs from fantastic recent releases and a few new-to-me-this-year discoveries (KING, Sun Kil Moon). Interestingly, over half the songs are from female singers/bands and women-fronted bands. Not that I was aiming for that gender balance, it just happened, but I’m pleased nonetheless.

So much good music out there – listen, discover, enjoy!

 

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Edward Snowden Gabs With therockmom: Why I’m In Hong Kong

For my Hong Kong peeps, both near and far, we interrupt our regularly-scheduled blog on music and parenting for a rockmom exclusive!

Not since Jean Claude Van Damme washed up on our shores to resurrect his career has there been so much excitement about a new resident. Yes, I’m talking about Edward Snowden – a bona fide breaking news sensation, living for the moment right here in HK. He’s all ours! Meaning we don’t even have to manufacture some weak connection to the media star, like we did with that Jeremy Lin fellow.

The big question, of course, is out of all the places in the world he could have chosen, why Hong Kong? Well, lucky for you dear reader, when I queried Mr. Snowden I got not one, not five, not ten but TWELVE reasons why he’s in the SAR. So now, here, in his own words:

EDWARD SNOWDEN TELLS ALL – WHY I CHOSE HONG KONG

12. The weather, of course!

11. With my white loafers, Dunhill shirt and man purse, I fit right in with the mainland tourists.

10. On my Bucket List: fish balls, chickens’ feet, hot Asian babes.

9. Golden Harvest promised that Aaron Kwok would play me in the movie. Massive fan. MASSIVE.

8. Actually, I thought I was flying to Japan. Common Yankee Error.

7. Found out your McDonalds delivers, 24-7. Sweet.

6. (Deleted by NSA)

5. Tiny hotel room + extortionist prices + sweltering conditions = trip of a lifetime 🙂

4. Because your kung fu is better than their kung fu.*

3. To hell with freedom, Zeman just gave me a lifetime pass to Ocean Park!

2. A certain Wendi promised she’d meet me here. WDM, I’m still waiting, x

1. The enemy of my enemy pays soooo much better.

Get used to it!

Better get used to it, Eddie! (photo by therockmom)

*Snowden says props to The Lone Gunmen, you guys were right on.