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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday, but it’s definitely the most fun. Halloween is youthful, funny and creative and even when I don’t dress up or celebrate, I still enjoy seeing kids, animals and grown adults in costume – however cute, scary or offensive they may be. Fortunately, I did celebrate over the past few days and here’s a quick recap of my activity:

House parties
I miss a lot of things about college – I miss the freedom, I miss the meal plans, I miss having ample amounts of free time and I really, really miss house parties. House parties are a dying breed in my social life, presumably because a lot of my friends have moved to different cities or possibly because we’re gainfully employed young adults who can afford to go to bars rather than drink watered down kegs of Keystone Light via the iconic red Solo cup. Whatever the reason, I just don’t go to house parties very often – and I genuinely miss them. There’s a certain charm about house parties – the ridiculous drinking games, the playlists that can be changed on a whim, and of course, the watered down kegs of Keystone Light. I had the fortune of going to two this past weekend.

Whitman music video extras

Beer pong winners

On Friday, local band Whitman performed at an illustrious house party that doubled as a shoot for one of their upcoming music videos. Not only did I pound Miller High Lifes (Lives?) and play Tetris on Nintendo, I was a valuable music video extra! Can you spot me? Hint: I’m the tallest person in the room.

Mario, Luigi, Tim Lincecum

On Saturday, I rolled with a group of Super Mario characters to yet another house party. This party highly encouraged costumes, so obviously, I went for the cheap, comfortable and easy solution of being Tim Lincecum, relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. Comfortable and clever as my costume was, being Tim Lincecum was a little frustrating because most people confused me with your average Giants fan, which I am not. I am, however, an individual who strikingly resembles Tim Lincecum – hair and everything. Retrospectively, I understand their misunderstanding and most of my fellow partiers really dug my costume after they realized I wasn’t your average Giants fan and was, in fact, Tim Lincecum. I avoided future mix-ups by introducing myself as Tim Lincecum right off the bat and that really helped.

Found fellow pitcher, Brian Wilson

Halloween Traditions
On Sunday, I understandably took it easy considering my consecutive nights of house parties on Friday and Saturday. I lived on the couch watching football and cringing at Tony Romo’s remarkable consistency when it comes to throwing interceptions and disappointing his loyal fans. Sunday night, my friends and I decided to have a laidback, yet festive evening of carving pumpkins, brewing apple cider spiked with whiskey and watching AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

Radiohead pumpkin, Batman mouth, Brian Wilson again

I’ve never carved a pumpkin before. This is a racist statement, but I think it’s a white people activity. My parents would never condone the idea of buying pumpkins, making a mess in the living room and playing with knives for the sake of home decor. Though I was an apprehensive rookie pumpkin carver, I got surprisingly into my creation. My friends opted for Batman mouth and Brian Wilson (which provided a great opportunity to use the SF Giants hat that I’ll never wear again). My Radiohead pumpkin is far from perfect, but I’d say it’s pretty impressive for a first attempt.

LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL
I remember buying these tickets the day they went on sale about 6 months ago. I’ve been wanting to see Justice for years and they rarely tour in the States, so imagine the anticipation and excitement I felt yesterday leading up to the show. These guys were incredible, it was an hour and a half of booming beats and schizophrenic lights. They kicked off their set with hits, Civilization and D.A.N.C.E. they ended their second encore with a crowd surf that some would mistake for a zombie apocalypse. Wanting to celebrate the spirit of Halloween, but still wanting to wear a comfortable and breathable ensemble, I decided to accessorize as Rufio from Hook with red hair extensions, gobs of black eyeliner and feather earrings. Bangarang!

Justice – Austin Music Hall, Oct. 30

Rufio

Rufio and the Lost Boys

Crowd surf/zombie apocalypse

Spooky Songs
I spent a good half an hour compiling this playlist of Halloween-themed music on Spotify. No, it doesn’t include the Monster Mash. Yes, it does include Monster by Kanye, Big Bad Wolf by A-Trak and Zombie by The Cranberries.

Happy Halloween, ya’ll. Have a fun, safe holiday!

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I think there’s an inverse correlation between age and excitement about Halloween, which is to be expected. After all, trick-or-treating isn’t socially acceptable for young adults (or even high school students in my humble opinion). However, there is a charm in the youthful spirit of the holiday and in spite of the reasonable amount of effort required to think of a clever ensemble and assemble such a costume, I still love the holiday and probably always will.

Here’s just a quick series of macabre, yet tasteful things I’ve found that should ignite the Halloween spirit in you as you dress up, entertain and celebrate over the next few days. Common themes are skulls, skulls and more skulls.

DECORATE AND ENTERTAIN
Hypothetically, if I were a hostess ghostess with the mostest and enjoyed cooking, entertaining and picking up red solo cups the morning after my hypothetical (haunted) house party – I’d decorate and serve these things.

If you haven’t noticed, I really like skulls, morbid as they are. Obviously, these items would be appropriate Halloween decor, but I’d argue that some of these items could adorn your place year round.

I love painted pumpkins – they’re such a cute, easy spin on the traditional carved pumpkins which require a significant level of skill, patience and artistry. Painting pumpkins is an easy and tasteful way to decorate and be festive minus the time and mess; plus you have more freedom with the size and shape of the pumpkin as well as with the designs, patterns and colors you choose.

WEAR

PARTY


Doesn’t this Dada Life show look like a fucking party? They’re going to be in Houston next Tuesday, so if you live in the area, I’d definitely cop a ticket, rock a banana costume and rage.

*Most images originated from Etsy and Pinterest, click-through for original sources and where to buy.

I had the opportunity to network with a group of business and communications students after work today. As someone who hasn’t been apart of the workforce for very long, I’m always apprehensive about attending these types of events because in all honesty, how much sage wisdom can I really offer these eager, overdressed youth?

To be completely candid, I rarely look forward to these events for the usual reasons – my precious free time could be better spent, I don’t have time, I’m tired, yada yada yada. But every time I go, I always leave feeling extremely rewarded. These bright, appreciative students learn valuable lessons from me and my professional peers and oftentimes, I learn or realize something new myself. Tonight was one of those nights.

My first salaried “real world” job was a unique one – I was a traveling PR advocate and spokesperson for a major brand of consumer foods. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life and I am certain that I wouldn’t be the person or professional I am today without that phase of my life.

Whenever people learn about that job, the number one question I always receive is “Did you get sick of eating that brand of food?” In short, the question is no. I love that brand of food, I’m still loyal to it and encourage my friends and family to purchase it too. For the past 3 years, that has been the end of my train of thought. No one would ever question that response any further and I never felt the need to expand on it – until tonight when I thought about it a little differently.

In any field of marketing – sales, advertising, promotions, PR – one of the first cardinal rules they drill into your brain is know your audience. Who are you selling to? Who are you communicating with? How do I effectively reach them? What do they do on a daily basis? You can’t launch a successful idea and certainly not a high-budget integrated campaign without profiling who you want to target.

So with that in mind, I realized a critical flaw to that age old question that has plagued me for so long – “Did you ever get sick of eating that brand of food?” The question is still no – and here’s my reasoning: Everyone eats. People eat every day; ideally three times a day. People eat for different reasons – energy, fun, necessity – you name it. But does the average person eat only one thing? Does John Doe have the same meal three times a day every day of his monotonous life? Absolutely not.

Think of a family’s dinners over the course of a week – perhaps a casserole one night, spaghetti the next, ordering a pizza once in a while – why would food and beverage be a multimillion dollar industry if we didn’t have varieties and options to choose from? When put in that perspective, it’s ridiculous to think any individual would only eat one item for the rest of their life, so why would anyone assume that I would just because I represented a certain brand?

My role as a spokesperson, marketer and in an abstract way, salesperson for that brand was to give you reasons to buy it instead of other options. When you needed or wanted to buy a snack, my job was to communicate why you should buy our snacks.  I wanted you to buy our snacks because they were sweeter or yummier or healthier. I wanted you to buy our snacks because the brand made a positive impression on you or your kids or your grandkids and for that reason, you are likely to be loyal and buy it again. That’s the strategy behind selling something as common and every day as food – something so temporary and ephemeral, but terribly necessary at the same time.

This marketing formula isn’t static though. For the reasons I just detailed, the way we feel and behave towards food and drink is fickle by design. The average consumer consumes a variety of food and drink in their diets – different food groups (vegetables, proteins), different reasons (coffee for energy, soda for refreshment), different needs (fast food for convenience, a fancy restaurant for a date or family celebration) – the only common thread is the fact that everyone eats it every day.

But what about your smartphone? Or your car? Do you want consistency and reliability from those devices and machines? Absolutely. You can walk down a grocery aisle and try out a new brand of toothpaste or cookies – but would you waltz into Best Buy and drop a few bills on just any laptop or flatscreen? No, that would be ludicrous. What about your running shoe? If you train for a marathon and dedicate hours of your day every day for a substantial amount of time – that better be a damn good shoe. Say you want to do another marathon – how likely are you to stick with the footwear brand that got you through those 26.2 miles and helped you accomplish such a lofty, time-intensive goal? Would you be more inclined to buy their branded socks and sports bras or download their mobile app to track your progress? I’d argue that you would.

This way of thinking isn’t new or complicated – it’s common sense, really. Though we all know it, we rarely articulate it. On the surface level, I think we treat all marketing, advertising and PR two-dimensionally. After reflecting on my epiphany for a few hours, my biggest piece of advice for the promising youth I met today – is to think creatively, yes. Think big, yes. But first and foremost, think practically.

How appropriate that the impending Halloween season and the return of The Walking Dead have, resurrected, if you will, my WordPress. The past three months have extracted almost every ounce of energy out of me. So in true unoriginal, lazy fashion, I thought I’d provide a quick photo reel from my Instagram feed for you to feast your eyes upon. Enjoy!

ACL 2012 wrap-up post coming soon, I promise.

I went on a cruise.

One of my best friends got married.

I went to Madison, Wisconsin.

And Chicago, Illinois.

I went to four Texas football games.

And four tailgates…

I went to ACL.

It rained.

I ate a lot of barbecue.*

And drank a lot of alcohol.

The end.

*Barbecue in order from top to bottom from Franklin BBQ, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, The Salt Lick and Uncle Billy’s

Fall might be my favorite season. I love summer, I love sunshine and I love seeing people walking their dogs and paddle boarding on Town Lake, but I think Austin autumns still trump Austin summers (glorious as they may be) for two operative reasons that both start with F – Football and Festivals.

Though I’m not a student anymore, I still equate opening weekend for Texas football games with Christmas. The long-awaited season finally arrives, beers are cracked and the entire city is blanketed in an unmistakable shade of burnt orange.

My friends and I have attended every home game thus far; I believe there have been three. Two excellent wins and one devastating loss against West Virginia, the newest addition to our humble conference.

In addition to college football and the beautifully tolerable weather, the fall season beckons in Austin City Limits – quite possibly my favorite weekend of the year (SXSW doesn’t count since that encompasses a full 10 days).

Though it’s almost been a full week since ACL 2012, I still haven’t recovered from the exhaustion and euphoria of watching fantastic live music, tasting some of Austin’s best food cart offerings and pounding Bud Light tallboys. This was my third ACL and it certainly lived up to its predecessors, exceeded them even.

I’ll dedicate the next few posts to my ACL activities – lots of photos and (mostly) positive reviews of the bands I saw, so stay tuned. Until then, throw on a scarf, grab a cliche’d pumpkin flavored coffee and enjoy the most wonderful season of the year.

I’ve severely neglected updating this blog, and I know I preface almost every entry with that statement, but it’s a sad truth that also doubles as a sign of good things – I’ve been busy! My calendar has been packed with people and events, activities and engagements – rather than documenting them or writing out of boredom or introspection – I’ve just been living my life. I’d consider that a success, wouldn’t you?

However, today I felt compelled to write about an issue that has affected our country for decades and an issue that has affected me personally my entire life – that ugly issue being Racism. I guess what catalyzed this post was anger and outright disgust. Recently, students from my own alma mater have been culprits of some malicious pranks that could arguably be considered hate crimes. What century do these kids live in and what possibly could motivate such hateful, ignorant behavior? Let’s also consider that these fuckers are probably some of the loudest supporters of our cash cow of a football program that is heavily characterized and defined by its African-American athletes, trainers and coaches. Given the fact that it’s 2012 and that the University of Texas at Austin is known for tolerance, diversity and a generally liberal sensibility (quite unrepresentative of the rest of our Red state and other universities in the Big 12), behavior like this sickens and embarrasses me as an alum.

That overtly hateful behavior is what I consider “Obvious Racism.” Racial slurs and harassment towards people of color are blatant acts of racism, brimming with malicious intent. But what I wanted to talk about today is what I call “Discreet Racism” or perhaps, “Unintentional Racism” – and it’s a problem that I’ve faced my entire life as an Asian-American woman.

During my senior year, one of my cultural studies courses at UT created a fascinating discourse about my own ethnicity – in the media, Asians are either portrayed as a smart, hard-working “Model Minority” or as some strange, exotic, mysterious group. I grew up with stereotypes of excelling in academia (which I kinda did) and being a prodigal master of musical instruments (which I kinda was), but the operative word here is “kinda.” Though I was smart, I wasn’t Ivy League. Though I was musically talented, I wasn’t extraordinarily gifted. When society creates a Model Minority, it automatically disadvantages not only other ethnic groups by comparison, but also the comprising members of that exemplary group. I never knew how to respond when asked, “You can’t get a B, you’re Asian!” What was probably intended as some sort of convoluted compliment is still a racist statement connoting that I failed to adhere to a marginalized stereotype of intelligence and hard work. Even though those stereotypes are positive and commendable, they’re still stereotypes are they not? And how does it reflect on me when I fail to live up to these exemplary standards?

I also want to discuss another troubling subject pertaining to “Discreet Racism” based on two opposing views from two Asian-American women who have strong opinions regarding the boys who they date and the color of their skin. I understand where both of these ladies are coming from and acknowledge some truth in their arguments, but ultimately, they’re both equally oversimplified, ignorant and frankly, shallow:

Girl 1: Jenny An posits that she refuses to date Asian guys for a slew of reasons; she even shares data showing the high volume of Asians who marry people of different races and ethnic backgrounds. But her reasoning for not dating Asians is a personal one – she identifies more with Western culture and I can relate to that. I was born in Texas, my Spanish is better than my Chinese and my strongest (and arguably only) connection to Asian-American culture is a biological one – the fact that I am an Asian-American. Her arguments about wearing J. Crew and cooking non-Asian foods are more a result of personal preference and taste and have nothing to do with how white-washed she is – but ultimately, I experienced a similar identity crisis in my formative years when I realized that my genetic makeup was the only reason I was Asian-American and not just American.

I, however, strongly disagree with her complete refusal to date Asian men. Her arguments aren’t just self-admittedly racist; they’re sexist too. Who’s to say that there aren’t just as many Asian-American men who were born and raised in the U.S. who can’t speak Mandarin and struggle with the same Westernized identity crises that we do? Do Asian-American men not wear J. Crew and eat Mexican food? Plus, if the idea of “Model Minorities” grosses her out, how does exclusively dating people of the race who created that stereotype solve anything? It doesn’t.

Girl 2: Clarissa Wei argues that her Asian boyfriend is superior to everyone else’s boyfriends for equally shallow reasons, but her reasoning is more material. Her boyfriend happens to be smart, rich, successful and kind of a square. He doesn’t stay out and get trashed on weekends; instead, he showers her in gifts and tells her when she’s getting fat. I don’t understand how that behavior is indicative of Asians considering there are plenty of unemployed, freelancing and dare I say, dumb Asian-American men just like there are plenty of smart, rich, successful and square men of other ethnic backgrounds. Ultimately, Wei doesn’t really have an argument – she just has a compatible boyfriend who happens to meet her shallow needs and happens to be Asian. He’s obviously patient and tolerant if he puts up with her idiocy and vapid personality, but he’s also kind of a dick for telling her she’s fat. But just because her boyfriend is a good guy (by her ass backwards standards) and happens to be Asian, it certainly doesn’t make him superior to the rest of mankind. Her idea of superiority isn’t only shallow, it’s subjective. In my opinion, a superior boyfriend is sweet, creative, funny and interesting. I’d also rather have a boyfriend who stays out and parties and has fun on weekends than say a lucrative, but cold, rude, dickbrain of a guy. It’s also important to note that none of these character traits are mutually exclusive to Asian-American men or any type of guy.

These case studies exemplify what I consider “Unintentional Racism” – Girl 2 champions our race, Girl 1 dismisses it because our bloodlines shouldn’t matter and define who we date. But Jenny An and Clarissa Wei are still missing the point – It doesn’t fucking matter. I commend Jen of Disgrasian for shitting on both of these girls’ weak, close-minded arguments. Asian-American shouldn’t have to justify why they do or do not date certain people and they certainly are doing a disservice to themselves and our entire culture by marginalizing themselves and describing the pros and cons of dating a certain ethnic group.

Sometimes, I find the issue of “Unintentional Racism” a slippery one. When I’m asked “Where are you from?” and when I respond “Texas” and when the follow-up question is almost always “Well, I meant where are you from?” I know the questions are motivated by general curiosity, not derogatory or offensive intent. But by politely answering the question without correcting these harmless, well-intentioned people, I’m essentially okaying the general assumption that Asian and Asian-American are mutually exclusive words. Just because people are tolerant, doesn’t mean they’re right and I’m disheartened that this probably won’t change in my lifetime.

But just to set the record straight, when I do meet that special someone, I’ll date whoever the fuck he is for who he is and not the color of his skin and I certainly won’t write a blog post about why my decision was the right one.