Robot girlfriends & spring cooking adventures

Why Shgun is smarter than Game of Thrones.

Hi friends!

Hows it going? Im doing pretty well. I hope you enjoyed last weeks Morning Diary from Meenakshi Ramamurthy! She is so effortlessly funny when not even trying to be funny. This is going to be a new series that will be in addition to my regular newsletters, not as a replacement for them. I hope you like them! Theres a new one coming on Friday that Im excited to share with you!

When I started writing todays newsletter, I was in the middle of a total Feral Girl Weekend, because my husband Ross was away in Colorado on a ski trip. He and I recently realized that the word Colorado is the most fun word to say in a Valley Girl accent. Theres a major street pretty close to us called Colorado Boulevard, and every time were driving together and turn onto it, we have a Coloradooo-off. Inside jokes! So funny when explained, yes?

Stardew Valley Simpsons meme

Fill er up!!

Rosss trip happened to coincide with the release of a major update to Stardew Valley, a farming game (available on Steam, Switch, PS4, etc.) which is like 30% of the reason why I survived the early pandemic. I have basically been playing it nonstop. The games developer, ConcernedApe, said there were so many updates, he recommended players start a new save, so I did just that. I was completely overpowered in my last save, in which I achieved perfection and logged about 700 hours to do so (sorry to make everyone so horny!!!). In my current save, I am but a humble farmer living from harvest to harvest. I have a chicken named Lady Gaga, a cow named Cher, and a duck named Sylvia Plath.

The funny thing about me being so invested in a farming sim? I am the last person on Earth who could ever run a farm IRL. Ive killed every plant Ive ever owned, including cactuses and air plants. My cat is 12 years old and thriving, thank goodness, but lets be honest, cats are low maintenance pets, and I love them for that. I cant imagine getting up early to milk the cows or collect the eggs or muck out the pigs or I dont even know what happens on a farm, truthfully. Im not cut out for rural life. I grew up in a pretty rural area and hated how far you had to drive to do anything. Even to get coffee was a 15 minute drive. Now I live less than a mile away from both a Starbucks and a fancy pour-over coffee place that people will line up around the block to get into. Modernity!!!

Speaking of modern nightmares, in the past week, I have developed what some people are calling smartphone pinky, which is a mild case of tendonitis that may or may not be caused by resting your phone on your pinky while scrolling with your thumb. I Googled about it, and some people have debunked that smartphone pinky is a thing, but then why am I randomly having pain in my pinky?? Riddle me that. Either way, it is a clear sign that I need to go outside more and touch grass.

Twitter meme

But maybe I also need to go back on Twitter?? It is something Ive been thinking about lately. I loathe the Musk man and I love the new sense of peace and quiet in my life that not being on Twitter has added (I left in November 2022), but other times I feel like I should be growing my platform (mocking double quotation marks!!). Im in the process of writing a book proposal for my book of humorous essays about my fucked up Millennial work life, and platform is a big part of selling a book. Ugh. And I do miss the community of writers there. Im up for a writing gig right now where I would need to be more tuned into the conversation online, so if I get it, maybe Ill go back.

Lets get into some things:

- I have a sizzling hot take here: I dont think Gen Z is very good at Instagram. When Millennials post, we curate, we caption, we contextualize; Gen Z will just dump a bunch of random photos or two-second clips on the feed and leave them. Wheres the story? Wheres the narrative? Wheres the who/what/where? They also tend to go for candids over posed shots, but not all candids are created equal. But then, maybe they think the way Millennials post is cringeafter all, nonchalance is always cooler than effort.

- Shgun, season one (Hulu/FX). My husband sold this show to me as the Japanese Game of Thrones, and I was so in. Like GoT, it is pretty violent, and there are a million characters and moving parts, which can get confusing. One thing you should know going in is that the majority of the show is in Japanese with subtitles. The rest of it is in English, but the characters are supposed to be speaking Portuguese. I told you it was confusing! I dont know how else they would have pulled off showing the language barrier while being inclusive to both Japanese and English-speaking audiences, but that aspect feels a bit clunky. Also, Ive realized that there is a difference for me between watching TV in English with subtitles (which I, as a Millennial, do all the time) and watching TV in a language I dont speak with subtitles. The latter requires a level of focus I dont always have during my end of the day TV time.

The sets and costumes and period details are all beautiful (the show is set in Japan in the 1600s), and its been really cool to see this vision of Japan from a different time after having gotten to travel there last December. One thing about the first episode, though? Literally everyone is threatening to do seppuku all the time! Made an awkward comment at a meeting? Seppuku! Realized youre not as good of a swimmer as you thought? Seppuku! Didnt know what seppuku was? Baby, you know its seppuku!

Yabushige Shogun

Yabushige is the one in the fabulous feather shrug.

I think my favorite character at the moment is Yabushige. Hes a total G. And a crafty motherfucker, too. If I had to compare him to someone from Game of Thrones, Id say hes kind of like Littlefinger, if he could fight like a younger Robert Baratheon. I dont know, now that Im thinking about it, there are so many dumb characters on Game of Thrones who make stupid, impulsive decisions. That whole show is just one person after another making terrible choices. The dumbest character on Shgun is the one English guy. Everyone else is pretty savvy.

- Physical: 100, season two (Netflix). Its back!! The South Korean reality competition show where 100 different athletes compete to prove who has the best physique has finally returned, with new challenges and much better dubbing! I love physical challenges on reality TV shows because I always think, Wow, I would never want to do that, and then I realize I never have to, and I sit back on my couch and feel great!

The one thing that is not great about this show is that female athletes are competing with male athletes all together, and that just doesnt seem fair. Whenever they have to pick teams, no one picks the women, even though some of them are super jacked or skilled or have amazing endurance! Its a bummer. Overall, though, I really enjoy this show, and its definitely improved a lot in terms of production from the first season. I also love that every athlete has a plaster bust of their own torso, and when they get eliminated, they have to smash their bust with a sledgehammer. The drama!!!

Annie Bot book cover

- Annie Bot by Sierra Greer. I gulped down this debut novel about the relationship between a sex robot with advanced AI and her owner. Im pretty surprised that it doesnt have better reviews (its a 3.89/5 on Goodreads as I write this), because I gave it a full five stars. I thought it was very well-written! You know how youre supposed to walk around sculpture to view it from every angle? Well, I feel like Greer really did that with this premise. She hit every possible emotional angle. Some reviewers were like, Why did the guy (owner) have to be such a loser? But lets think for a moment about the kind of man who would form a complex relationship with his sex robot. Hes probably going to be a bit stunted, right? I actually felt that his character was pretty grounded, and Greer didnt go for easy jokes like Cheeto dust, or even comment on his looks at all. If this concept intrigues you, I would definitely check it out!

- Daves Killer Bread Epic Everything Breakfast Bread ($4.99). Im friggin obsessed with this bread!!! Its super flavorful, with whole grains, those everything onion and garlic flavors throughout, and a yum seed topping on the crust. I dont know that it needs to be classified as a breakfast bread, though, because I have certainly had some for lunch as well. Lately I have been toasting it and topping it with garlic hummus, avocado, flaky sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and its divine! A real protein-rich, vegan meal or hearty snack.

- Cooking. When I was feeling a bit under the weather recently, I made this simple chicken tortilla soup, and it really hit the spot. I threw in a green bell pepper and a zucchini I had laying around to add some more veggies, and two chipotle peppers from a can for smokiness. This recipe made A LOT of soup, so be warned. I served it with toppings of chopped red onion, shredded cheddar, sour cream, cilantro, Fritos, and a squeeze of lime. We also had a Caesar salad to start. Ever since I learned that Caesar salads originated in Tijuana, Ive been serving them alongside Mexican dishes. If Im honest with myself, its really just an excuse to eat more of my favorite salad. I like to make mine with lacinato kale and chopped raw broccoli to make it a little more filling and nutrient-dense than the usual romaine.

Next, I made these dijon pork chops with an apple, arugula, and blue cheese salad. Ive been trying to make more dinner salads lately that dont come from a bag, and cheese and fruit pair so beautifully together. This recipe was delicious! I added a tablespoon of honey to the mustard sauce, because it was tasting a little sharp when I tested it, and I omitted the radishes from the salad, because that just seemed like a weird choice. I usually have a pretty good imagination for how different flavors will come together, but radishes with apples and blue cheese?? Ehhh, I dont know.

Dijon pork chop + salad

Then, this week, I made some super quick and easy cold peanut sesame noodles with tofu and veggies for dinner on Tuesday, and I can already tell its a recipe Im going to be returning to in the future. The great thing about that recipe is it can be a true clean-out-the-fridge meal, and you can throw in whatever leftover protein or veggies you have lying around. Next time, I want to try using broccoli and maybe some air fried chicken or shrimp. I used thin whole wheat spaghetti because I couldnt find buckwheat noodles, and they worked well. I will also note that my husband, who has an aversion to peanuts, liked this sauce. He seems to be okay with Asian-style peanut sauces, like Thai peanut sauce or Dan Dan noodles, but if you give him a delicious (I think) roasted peanut with salt, he will gag.

Finally, for Easter Sunday, I was craving my moms ham, but the idea of making a 10-pound ham for just my husband and me was absurd. Instead, I made a play on a quiche Lorraine: a pie crust filled with ham, cheddar gruyere, and some sauteed leeks and shallots. I served it with a salad of little gem lettuces, pecorino, crouton crumbs, and a lemon vinaigrette. It was festive and springy, and made a delicious Easter brunch! Why dont we do more brunch time meals when celebrating holidays? Imagine doing a big, Christmas morning brunch instead of a heavy dinner or lunch? Who even wants another turkey just one month after Thanksgiving? Not me!

- I keep forgetting to plug this, but you can read my review of the new documentary Fridaon the BUST blog (and in the current issue). Its a cool concept, the narration is sourced from Frida Kahlos personal journals and married with gorgeous animation based on her artwork, although I did think they played it a bit safe with which areas of her life they explored in depth. My Poor Things review is also online now, if youre interested. (I did not come up with the headline.)

Okay my darlings, thats it for me this week! Therell be a new Morning Diary coming to your inboxes on Friday morning.

If you have a second, Id love it if youd like or comment on this postjust click this link to go to the post page.

Until next timeseriously, should I go back on Twitter??

Love,

Liz

XOX

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