I recently had a conversation with a friend where we discussed if we could just claim that Christmas is now “officially” a secular holiday. While I feel that this idea is still premature, it didn’t stop us from talking about how Christmas has evolved over the years and has been adopted and celebrated by other cultures in new and rather interesting ways. Most notably Japan and their tradition of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas.
After this conversation ended, I pretty much went home and jumped down the YouTube rabbit-hole to see what exactly a KFC Christmas meal would look like and where the tradition came from. To save you the time, I’ve posted a couple of my favorite videos below.
Simon and Martina: Eat Your Kimchi
Simon and Martina have been living overseas and posting about their lives for 10 years now. Previous to living in Japan, they lived and posted videos from South Korea. I’ve been watching them for some time now and appreciate how they can be both upbeat and honest about their lives, even when things aren’t going well. If you like this video, I highly recommend you spend some quality time with their channel. If not just to watch videos of their dog, Spudgy (who sadly passed away not too long ago).
Abroad in Japan
A British gent now living in Japan, Chris Broad does a pretty good job at highlighting both his own culture shock and his desire to learn. He puts in enough research to add context, but if you’re looking for heavy cultural analysis, this might not be the channel for you. Instead, if you enjoy a rather snarky sense of humor and a healthy amount of self-deprecation, Chris is your guy. Think informative without the strange yelling at the camera or bouncing “walking while talking” you can get from other YouTubers. He’s got over a million subscribers for a reason.
Colonel Santa not your thing? Perhaps you’re in the mood for a different rabbit hole that’s also filled with holiday cheer? Might I suggest starting with this list of articles from our archives?
But regardless of how you celebrate (or don’t celebrate) the season, warmest wishes to you and yours. See you in the new year!
Much in the vein of our Netflix Hidden Gem series, this week I’m branching out to include Amazon Prime. Why you may ask? Simple. I want to talk about Studio Ghibli!
Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter (Netflix Original, Studio Ghibli)
Based on Astrid Lindgren’s novel, this series tells the coming of age of Ronja, the only daughter of a robber chief growing up in medieval Scandinavia. When Ronja becomes old enough to explore the forest on her own, she discovers that a rival robber clan and their young son are living quite close by. The two strike up a friendship, regardless of their parents’ wishes.
Photo: Amazon, Studio Ghibli
I was very excited when I heard that Ghibli was going to be releasing this series on Amazon and I started watching it not long after it was available. But here it is almost 2 months later and I’m only just getting around to talking about it. This is because it took me a long time to both finish watching it and even longer to decide how I felt about it. So, for the sake of this review, I’m going to simplify things. For better or worse, here’s what I thought. Spoiler alert: it’s kinda a mixed bag.
Confession time. I’m not a huge Christmas person. I like it fine; I’m not full-on a Grinch, but I don’t get overly excited about it. That said, there are a few traditions I enjoy, like cookie decorating, a yearly trip to to get my Drink on, and less-christmasy Christmas movies (it’s kinda like how I don’t care about sports but like movies about sports—eh, go fig). By this I mean movies where the holidays are in the background, not the main focus. I’m sure most of you know some of the more popular less-christmasy Christmas movies like Die Hard, Gremlins, and The Ref. In these movies, Christmas is the background character rather than the star.
This year, while we trimmed the tree (and yes, I do insist on a real tree because having a tree inside your home is cool), I suggested we delve a little deeper into the less-christmasy Christmas genre and watch Christmas horror! Am I a little one note? Maybe. But I watched these movies partially for you too, in the spirit of giving! So, get your eggnog or mulled wine, and buckle up those sleigh bells ’cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
WARNING: This post contains mild spoilers for the Netflix series Daredevil. While I won’t be revealing major plot points I will be talking about the series in terms of things I liked and or noticed about the look, feel and characters. If you wanted to stay 100% spoiler free, you might not want to read this until you have finished watching.
Netflix has figured out how to stay relevant in an ever-changing media landscape. If you have seen House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt you know that they have made some really good content that people want to see. They have also made it affordable (I think we pay $18 a month) and easy to do. If you are reading this post you are likely aware of the deal Netflix has made with Marvel to create various series featuring Marvel street level defenders Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage (Power Man), and Danny Rand (Iron Fist). With the first of these series now available for public consumption, fans have had the chance to see Marvel characters on the small screen outside of network television’s control. Continue reading