A few of my favorite things
I haven’t felt like writing, barely even journaling which we’re both things that got me through the pandemic. Although recent motivation has been lacking, at least I have enough confidence to just hit post, knowing that I am constantly growing and it’s okay to look back and say that sucked.
Side note: I wrote this on my iPad so I truly dont know how it’ll appear in your screen and this first video I linked isn’t loading. So apologies if this all looks wacky and I will fix it one day.
Now to the point: the inspiration for this post:
If you exist on the internet, I hope you’ve head of Abbott Elementary. It’s one of (if not THE) best sitcom on TV right now and it was created by meme icon Quinta Brunson. I initially followed after her 2018 Winter Olypics short - which if i explain why is funny will ruin it so watch it for yourself:
I was excited to see her on TV, and more excited to learn that she created the show, and even had published a book of short essays about her life - from growing up in Philly to selling a show to ABC. I immediately added to my Christmas list and received it from a friend as a secret santa gift. And then proceeded to read it in 3 days - which is a new record for me.
I love Quinta’s voice and it was amazing to learn more about her life, especially hearing about the time working at the Apple Store before being able to pursue comedy full time. What I thought was the most special was the 3 chapter insertions of ‘Quinta’s Classics’ short sections where she shared media that is meaningful to her and who she is today. This ranged from Even Stevens, multiple songs by Stevie Wonder, and Jurassic Park. With each she expressed her memories of them and why they’re meaningful. It reminded me of Bowen Yang and Matt Roger’s question to Las Culturista’s podcast guests on ‘What made you say culture is for me?’ Since in podcast format, guests only share one or two top culture moments or media, but I think the question can help express yourself through passions in ways I hadn’t thought about before.
Recently I’ve been so focused (and mildly irritated) at diverse representation in media and entertainment. The media we consume, even passively, impacts the way we perceive the world and it’s important that we’re seeing more voices represented over the predominantly white and male one that has traditionally decided the narrative (for every industry / documentation of history really). Anyways, tangent over because the point of this is to share my mainly American upbringing and what media made me say culture is for me. So I’m gonna go chronologically to show the growth / phases of Amanda in order
Put that thing back where it came from, or so help me
Pixar taught me how to feel and express my feelings better through every story. Starting with Toy Story, followed by a not so great first theatre moment at 3 watching Bugs Life (the grasshoppers still scare me). Then came my all time favorite Monsters Inc. This one taught me how to laugh. This was my early introduction to Billy Crystal, who’s iconic voice lent itself perfectly to the Mike Wazowski. I still sing ‘Put That Thing Back Where it Came From’ about once a month (along with Selena Gomez’s ‘what’s that? a hat?’). It’s so dumb, but this film introduced me to the concept of comedy. I learned that I love to laugh.
I too can’t believe I’m starting this post with Monsters Inc when I definitely have seen Pocahontas and The Little Mermaid 1 million times - but let’s tie all of these together into a pretty bow called ”the birth of loving romantic comedies - especially When Harry Met Sally“
Crazy in Love
The first album I remember owning was Beyoncé’s Dangerously in Love. I would leave it in my dad’s car and on trips with my whole family we would jam to her beautiful voice in the most 2003 album ever. One time, I removed the soundtrack from the car to place it in my pink bedazzled CD player and we set off to drive somewhere and everyone audibly sighed in disappointment that we wouldn’t be listening to Beyoncé for the next hour. Maybe it was just me sighing, but I think it felt like everyone. At 8 years old, I knew nothing about music, but I knew I loved Beyoncé. It’s funny listening back to it and recognizing that I knew nothing about what she was singing about, but it had meaning to me. It made me happy and empowered.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
In fifth grade I was struggling to find a book to read for my monthly English assignment. I loved my teacher for giving us the freedom to read and report on anything we wanted. So I turned to my parents who knew nothing about what a 10 year old should be reading and my dad recommended The Alchemist, which has gone on to be one my favorite books of all time. My teacher wasn’t sure about it, but it looked short enough so she let me read it. For my project I remember having my dad coming to the rescue again to draw a map of Spain and Northern Africa on a poster board to help me show the journey the lead takes.
I’m glad I read this book when I was young and that it still holds up when I’m 26. It taught me to dream bigger and to be flexible in my journey to any goal - to adapt and be open to the messages the world may give me along the way. As someone who always struggled with religion and the Catholic Church, especially at this point in my life, this book also taught me that spirituality isn’t mutually exclusive to the church.
I’ve consumed Disney Channel content since my Jr days starting with Out of The Box and Bear in the Big Blue House. As a kid I lived for Lizzie McGuire, then Hannah Montana, to Wizards of Waverly Place. And still at 26 I’m here to say DC is kicking and I live for Owl House. Okay so let me just dive first into the icon that is Hillary Duff - I love her so much and to be honest the Aaron Carter and Lindsey Lohan love triangle is probably the first celebrity goss that I followed. I will say that 2000s celeb gossip magazine culture is so toxic so not a great test to enter pop culture followings, but they were all stars.
Ok enter Hannah Montana - an even bigger star than Hillary and Lindsey in my opinion, also playing a literal pop star so you know I was immediately obsessed. As a Gemini I’ve always felt like there are two halves of me and this show focused in on that in a fun and straightforward way. The pilot is genius - your best friend discovering your biggest secret. What a way to start. I must have watched that episode 100 times. I have the scene where Miley is angrily eating a bowl of whipped cream which is pretending to look like ice cream. Miley was born a star and also broke the mold of the perfect pop star, the pressure of being every child’s role model.
She then passed the crown down to my queen Selena Gomez, who I truly grew up with. I had only seen Latinas in media a handful of times - Gotta Kick it Up, Spy Kids, but there was something in Selena that related to more than anyone else before. I always tell people I’ve never gotten into YouTube, but in writing this I am reminded that I was on Selena Gomez x Demi Lovato YouTube. And they introduced me to punk/rock music - starting off with Paramore. Growing up in public can’t be easy, but Selena did it gracefully and from my point of view, bringing more joy and positivity along the way. Seeing her in Only Murders in The Building and speaking out about her mental health journey makes me proud to call myself a long term fan.
Tumblr circa 2010s
I wish I could find my old tumblr site - it would be one for the ages. I joined Tumblr in late middle school, finding it as a way to express myself. It was like an ongoing collage that represented me at any moment. I would spend hours at night scrolling, keeping up with my feed & learning about culture all across the world. It was the digital journal and outlet I needed. It introduced me to more artists, like The Kooks, old movies that needed to be watched like The Breakfast Club.
In writing this, I dug back to my accounts. I didn’t find my first account that is probably linked to an AOL account somewhere out there, but I found my bracelet business account and another that I held until freshman year of college. It was like entering a time capsule of 17 year old Amanda. We’re so different now.
How I Met Your Mother
On Thursdays (total guess which weekday) after highschool I would marathon my recorded shows from the night before - How I Met Your Mother and Gossip Girl. Both NYC based shows, but very different. I was obsessed with both. I have to say HIMYM won out in the end as far as memorability goes. In a fun cross-over, Leighton Meester is in a guest role on the HIMYM spin-off series currently on air: How I Met Your Father. I must have been just the key target demo of HIMYM, because this spin off is seriously is everything to me - Hillary Duff in the title role and featuring her best friend a fashion-assistant Latina played by Francia Raisa. Say less. Already watched the first season twice over.
Little Bird - Ed Sheehan
Which brings me to British culture. I wish I did have a journal so I could connect all of these things. August 2010 -One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful music video came out. I must have watched it a million times. I fell in love with them. Then, I heard Lttle Bird by Ed Sheehan play at a Hollister (no lie) and there was a blog online that shared the Hollister playlists and I started following his journey into stardom. My favorite days on the internet ever were following with 1D tour in Australia. This must have been around 2012 - I just remember the community being wholesome and watching morning talk shows at night.
The Great Gatsbsy by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I read this book about 10 times due to writing my final IB project on it. I’m sure this IB Project had a name, but basically it allowed students to create a project on literally anything in any subject. So me being me - and of course I ended up working in entertainment after this - I wrote an essay comparing the book to the 1960-something movie with Robert Redford.
I just factory reset my high school laptop to donate so I’ll never know what I wrote. What I do remember is that I loved this book. I loved the tragic romance taking place in the 1920s surrounded by people so beyond privilege and attainment of ‘the American dream.’ The new film came out my senior year, once I finished my essay - and I hated the Crazy in Love version in it, but am still obsessed with Lana’s Summertime Sadness.
2012 Euro Cup
I have 2012 Euro Cup to thank for getting me back to watching soccer. It was always on TV growing up and I hated playing it growing up (generally my embarrassment of being watched by anyone doing anything was too strong). Of course in hindsight I wish I kept playing for the sake of my cardio. So my positive connection to soccer growing up was much more related to watching, specifically the World Cup or any Brazilian national game. It’s fun to watch a good team because it made for happy endings and celebrating with the entire community. And I mean this literally - My grandma lived close to Main Street and after the game everyone would come out wearing their brazilian colors cheering and celebrating - causing a ruckus and traffic.
In 2012 instead of getting a normal 16 year old job I decided to work alone and for myself, making and selling bracelets on Etsy. I will admit my first bracelets weren’t great - but I learned how to reiterate and build better and to have the courage and confidence in the value of my work. It was the turning point of knowing that I will forever want to occupy my time by crafting / building with my hands. I just finished crocheting a crappy shirt that I’ll never wear publicly, and planning a blanket next.
Back to the point - I spent the summer making bracelets while either doing 1 or two things:
Listening to Andrew McMahon’s entire discgropahy from Something Corporate to Jack’s Mannequin
Watching the European teams play soccer in that years Euro Cup
Every game was 90 packed minutes of pure skill and entertainment. After the Spain v Italy final I wanted to continue watching, so I turned on a game from the premiere league one morning, and recognized a handful of Brazilian players I must have just ingested from passive watching: Ramires, William, and Oscar (have to admire: my first real crush). They were all playing for a team called Chelsea, and that day I became a life-long fan.
March 2020 was a pretty bleak time. Without a doubt I can say that the past few years have been traumatic. I will never feel the same in a crowd, but I will never prefer individualistic vs community based culture again, and I will never take my health for granted. I say that with immense privilege and in a bubble I created for myself during this time. There’s also guilt that comes with sharing happy moments during this time. But we all got through it somehow, and I did so with the joy of listening to Las Culturistas every week. I finally found a podcast for me - comedy and pop culture. What more could you need? It reminded me of everything I read and loved about the entertainment industry, and how my passion for pop culture from when I was young was the big reason why I ended up in LA. Even as random or unplanned as it felt.
Even now, as I feel frustrated over slow progress in the representation in our media, I get to celebrate these guys - Bowen and Matt for being in one of the first main-stream gay rom-coms called Fire Island. A film that was so good and funny and that I don’t think would have ever been made 10 years ago or had the press tour and Hulu / Disney company support that it genuinely deserved.
This one is a shock to me in the sense that I don’t know truly if Kirby will mean anything to me in the future. But right now I’ve decided that if I want 1 word to define my brand that it be wholesome. I love being around others who are wholesome and I can’t think of anither way to describe it. The only way to describe it is the ways these things make me feel:
Small versions of things
Mimikyu the Pokémon
Focusing on Kirby for a minute - I remember playing the Kirby game on the game boy SP, then introduced to the character for the majority of my life solely through Smash Bros. I respect smash for introducing everyone to the plethora of game characters, but the games themselves are so different from smash. That’s what I got from the latest Kirby game on the Nintendo Switch. It’s so freaking cute, brings nothing but positivity into my life even when I die or get frustrated. I want others to get the Kirby game experience feeling from being around me
Burger King birthays and Backstreet Boy Albums
My Scene - Jammin in Jamaica music is still top
Paramore’s 2013 album Paramore
The Front Bottoms
Catfish & The Bottlemen
Duckworth / Spiderverse
Haikyuu! It got me over the edge to love anime and embrace reading manga
Hummingbirds - If I dont get this one tattooed soon I will be shocked
August 2022 edit: she got the tattoo