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Flashback: The 2003 Playlist

Who knew we'd ever be this nostalgic for the 2000s so quickly?

But here we are, boys and girls. While the world becomes scarier, we continue to turn to sources of comfort and entertainment in any way possible. So let's travel back 17 years to 2003, the era of trucker caps, crappy Charlie's Angels sequels, denim suits, and the birth of iTunes and the Department of Homeland Security. It was also my first full year as a Los Angeles resident...but that is another story for another day that no one asked for.

@TheFirstEcho

Watch 7 Minutes of a Cute Nerd Explain The Benefits of Social Distancing

I'm only on Day Two of Working From Home while practicing social distancing, and I don't get those who are driving themselves crazy, worrying about the impending boredom of quarantines and lockdowns at the dawn of this new coronavirus era. As an only child, when I was 12, I had my fair share of spending entire weekends indoors reading R.L. Stine novels and writing short stories. It's like I had trained for a crisis like this. And I currently have a dozen neglected paperbacks sitting on my shelf that are about to get the attention they deserve.

Anyway, while some people continue to ignore the latest restrictions and advice from government agencies and medical experts (I see you, Karen, and karma is about to bite you in the ass and the rest of your immune system), I implore you to take seven minutes to watch the below video. It's from the PBS digital series, It's Okay To Be Smart. Bespectacled host Joe Hanson breaks down the basics of this global pandemic and uses l…

The Year My Childhood Was Literally Destroyed: Remembering Blessed Sacrament Elementary

2020 is already proving to be an emotionally challenging and bizarre year -- to put it mildly.

Barely three months in, our world is being filled with near-dystopian levels of absurdity. While watching an increasingly corrupt and inept administration fumble through the dawn of a global pandemic (the likes of which have already claimed the health of national treasure Tom Hanks), I recently learned that Blessed Sacrament Elementary, the school I attended from the ages of 4 to 14, will be demolished to make way for (what else?) modern, state-of-the-art residences. These sleek and stylish apartments (see a rendering below) are to accommodate the influx of Manhattan commuters who have been gradually populating the downtown sector of my hometown, New Rochelle, New York...which also happens to be the location of the first COVID-19 containment zone in the U.S.

But this isn't about the coronavirus and the panic it has rapidly spread, prompting everyone and their Boomer parents to go out an…

CASUALLY: The 2020 Spring Playlist

Consider this your post-voting stress reliever, a way to let loose and unwind on this pivotal day in American politics. Also consider this your soundtrack to being carefree (one of my best, if I do say so myself). I know I am. After all, we all kinda need it.

Hence this collection of tunes that will, to quote Khalid and Disclosure on track 8, "keep your head up." My 2020 Spring Playlist is an entire mood, and I hope it brings you all the feels as it has done for me during this season of light jackets, jelly beans, and freshly cut grass.

Cover art: Yoko Honda
@TheFirstEcho

Songs of the Month: March 2020

Sure, Lady Gaga's "Stupid Love" just dropped, but I'm kicking off my birthday month with the latest from Dagny, the 29-year-old Norwegian pop starlet who's known for producing unabashed bops that you can't get out of your head.

Case in point: "Come Over." This sparkly single premiered last month, and it is simply a breath of fresh, poppy air. It's also a theme song on the ever-shuffling soundtrack of my life, one that pretty much encapsulates the last several months of this grown-ass, lovelorn adult male who's been feeling ultra contemplative and sentimental. It's basically ripe for a YA rom-com on Netflix.

Check out the adorable music video:

Then there's "Some Kind of Wonderful" from MOBS, the Australian group I've been obsessed with ever since they dropped a pair of EPs back in 2017 and 2018. This track was my jam back then, but since dropping their original label, it was nowhere to be found, and I was properly devas…

The 2020 Oscars: An Ode to the Best Picture Nominees

Roses are red, #Oscars are gold.
1917 is a sight to behold.

While Parasite thrills and Joker upsets,
Award junkies gather to place all their bets.

For on this bright Sunday is an event so big,
But first, some justice for Greta Gerwig...

Little Women is divine, full of feminist glory,
While emotions run high in Baumbach’s Marriage Story.

The Irishman will sadly lose; sorry not sorry,
As will the all-male team from Ford v Ferrari.

Taika and Tarantino may be chomping at the bit,
But the former won’t be winning for Jojo Rabbit.

There will be opinions, and say what you should,
About Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

So let’s sit back and watch and see what’ll unfold,
Even though the Academy’s so white and so old.

@TheFirstEcho

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay': The First Great TV Show of 2020

Freeform, the network formerly known as ABC Family, which was the network formerly known as Fox Family(for those of you born before 2000), has gradually rebranded itself as an aspirational (and more importantly, inclusive) entertainment entity for Gen Z ever since coming out in 2016 with a whole new look and name. Back then, it was announced that it would establish a focus on "becomers," a group ABC Family President Tom Ascheim had tried to describe by explaining, "The most important question that young people ask themselves as they're going from high school to their thirties is, 'Who am I becoming?' So we call the life stage 'becoming' and the people going through it Becomers."

And therein lies Everything's Gonna Be Okay, which effortlessly slides into those network brand pillars by centering on a group of very likable and relatable "Becomers." EGBOK is a tender, funny, and unapologetically awkward comedy, the likes of which you …

The First Great Pop Song of 2020: MOBS's "I'll Be Back"

The Australian group MOBS just dropped their latest throwback pop track, "I'll Be Back," and it's a love song -- wait for it -- inspired by The Terminator.

The cover for the single even echoes the key art for the 1984 sci-fi thriller. And while the chorus uses the iconic catchphrase originated by Arnold Schwarzenegger's non-stop killing machine, the lyrics appear to take on a romantic perspective from the film's hero, Sgt. Kyle Reese, played by Michael Biehn.

MOBS is no stranger to infusing pop cultural homages with irresistible hooks. Last month, they released "Find Another You," written from the perspective of a character from a certain 90s teen rom-com (okay, it's She's All That), and earlier in 2019 they delivered "Say Anything," an emotional nod to the John Cusack film of the same name, and "Growing Up," a stellar, synth-and-sax-filled number inspired by 1987's The Lost Boys.

With "I'll Be Back," t…