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Showing posts from 2021

In Celebration of the Half-Asian Heartthrob

Growing up, I didn't think much about my mixed-race heritage. I grew up in the suburbs of New York City with a white mother from a large Irish-Catholic family and a Japanese father who emigrated to America in the late 70s. My childhood was, simply put, very American. I was obsessed with  Sesame Street 's Grover, Cookie Crisp cereal, and Waldo, that red-striped-sweater-wearing nerd of Where's Waldo fame. I had annual photo shoots at our local Sears Portrait Studio. I got creeped out when Cherie got locked inside that refrigerator on  Punky Brewster . And I, too, wondered what being "like a virgin" meant whenever Madonna's song came on the radio in between bites of my Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. But as I got older, I became more cognizant of my "other half," the part of me that remembered Japanese nursery rhymes my father narrated for me at bedtime ( something about an elderly couple adopting a baby they find hidden inside a giant peach on their farm

Thanks For Having Me

"Everyone's got a podcast nowadays," someone once told me. "First it was blogs, then it was Tumblr..." Truer words couldn't have been said, especially when it comes to my creative friends who are killing it lately with fun shows you can listen to right now . And yes, I may be using this as an opportunity to shamelessly plug the podcasts I've guest-appeared on, pretending to be the pop culture pundit I proclaim to be, but still, give 'em a listen, won't you? First, there's Very Special Television , where I join a panel of guys who bring on a special guest to cover "very special episodes" of sitcoms from the 80s and 90s. For my installment, we discussed "Crime and Punishment," the Season 5 episode of the Roseanne that tackles domestic abuse. (Poor Aunt Jackie!) Check it out here . Next up, on  My Vietnam Podcast , I chat with writer-director-producer Ringo Le, who is a champion for traditionally underrepresented voices. We

365 Days of Quarantine: Loneliness, Love, and Lessons Learned

"For me, the tools that I relied upon to feel well often looked less like treatment and more like the ingredients that make up a full, joyful life: the friends I saw for long, intimate dinners; the work events that made me feel purposeful and accomplished; even the affirming gym I went to in the mornings..." - Sam Lansky, Time , June 2020 When journalist and author Sam Lansky ( Broken People ) candidly wrote about his emotional experiences living in lockdown, he was three months into the pandemic, a global event that has now affected every human being in existence. Back then, it was reported that 40% of Americans said their mental health had been negatively affected by COVID-19. Last March, the call volume to the national hotline run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services jumped nearly 900% higher than the same month in 2019. Back then, people were already hitting walls, particularly those who lived alone and only had their personal demons to keep them company, tho

SHINE: The 2021 Spring Playlist

It's the soundtrack you'll need to help you get to that light at the end of the tunnel. Kicking things off is Nick Jonas's "This is Heaven," something I hope we can all proclaim once those vaccine rollouts finally kick in. And when you're done jamming out to the song's sax solo, there are new tracks from past spring favorites like Daya, Roosevelt, and The Midnight. No social distancing required. @TheFirstEcho

The 2 Best Films of 2020

     I'm a little late to the game, but then again, 2020 wasn't a typical year for movies.  @TheFirstEcho

Flashback: The 2001 Playlist

Ah, 2001. It's not just the name of Stanley Kubrick's space epic. It was the first year of the 21st century, a year of... so much . It was the year I got my first cell phone, the year I lived abroad in London and fell deeper in love with all things British, and the year that saw one sunny September morning change the lives of every American forever. But not to be forgotten, it was the last innocent era of pop music. 2001 was the year that introduced us to new adjectives ("Bootylicious"), new artists (Hey, Craig David), and newfound respect for Pink ( Missundaztood , anyone?). Here are the 30+ tracks that made my year (gulp) twenty years ago. @TheFirstEcho

Christopher Pike Dragged R.L. Stine on Twitter and 13-Year-Old Me is Geeking Out

If you don't recognize the two names in the above headline, then you clearly did not come of age in the 90s as a budding horror fan ... UPDATED: Back in December of 2020, R.L. Stine, the world-famous author of nearly a hundred scary novels for kids and young adults ( and one of my literary idols ), tweeted a photo of himself with a corny caption that truly demonstrated his dad joke game. The picture showed the 77-year-old writer sitting at his desk, announcing himself as the winner of a fake award: Then, at the beginning of the new year, Christopher Pike (real name: Kevin McFadden), the other young-adult novelist who also dominated teen bookshelves during the same decade (and elusive object of my journalistic obsession back in 2011 ), replied with a fun jab at Stine, sharing his own win. 9:10am UPDATE: And Stine clapped back!!! Needless to say, if this were 1993, my younger and much geekier self would spontaneously combust from a massive nerdgasm after seeing these two so-called