Friday, February 26, 2010

you are what you wear

This is a very delicate topic I'd like to talk about, and by delicate I mean that there is sooo much to talk about this.

I was watching an episode of What Not To Wear today on TV - because I have an essay to write about the show for my Popular Culture class. Me and my friend were watching it, and we couldn't help but watch the show in a very critical way and we ended up just talking about society structures.

What I am going to be talking in my essay is motly the idea that reality make-over shows like What Not To Wear show how now, that we are found in this post-modern era, the working class is erased into a middle class society; in other words, the working class has been given the opportunity of 'upward mobility', or moving up to the middle class. So this is basically how they work: the 'experts' find this working class men/women who are sooo into their work that they have no time to take care of themselves, and looking physically good for themselves, their families, their friends, or their workers. But that is about to change when these 'experts' who act like the great godmother from fairy tales or the angel of miracles appear to their lives. First, these experts examine the poor quality of their physique and critizise their poor and wrong choices of lifestyle. Then, the working citizen goes through an extensive and intensive transformation. After that, the moment of truth holds when they reveal themselves to their friends and family, and EVERYONE praises their changes and say how Much better they look compared to the old version of themselves. Finally, the contestant say a few words like "you have totally changed my life" or "now i have so much confident about myself" or "this is so much better".

Hmm...let me rewind a little bit. Before these candidates they must go through a phase of 'audition' where they or their families/friends explain WHY they must be on the show. And the worst cases are picked, in order to make a HUGE transformation (but at the same time it also has to be do-able). When the experts meet the contestant for the fist time, at least in this episode of What Not To Wear I watched today, they drown them with phrases like "you look like a geeky teenage boy stuck in their eighties like the New Kids On The Block", "you look like you're going to a funeral", and all these phrases that start with "you look like...". So they draw comparisons of their physiques with the most hiddeous images they can ever think of, humiliating them, dominishing them, putting them in shame, making fun of them, criticizing them. It is a kind of way to say 'sorry, looking like this, you will not be accepted in modern society". But it's okay, that's where the experts are here for, right?

Basically the solution to this big ugly problem is, well you guessed it, SHOP! You have an aweful wardrope. Shop. You have a poor collection of shoes. Shop. Your living room looks empty. Shop. Your face needs enhancement. Shop. You need to eat healthier food. Shop. Yeah, consumerism is the answer to all your problems! In What Not To Wear, contestants are given a credit card with $3000 to spend on clothes they would like to wear - considering their expert opinions on what they should be wearing. You see, in order to get where you want, you have to be the perfect consumer, spending lots of money on transforming yourself. Not just cheap accesory, they are usually the high class, label, fancy, expensive kind of accesories you can get similar anywhere else for a cheaper price.

To be brutally honest, I don't even like going shopping anymore. The clothes and stores I used to love, now they sell really poor quality stuff, and really, they are ALL the same in all stores! Take the example of what I call "gladiator shoes". seriously, why would anybody like those kind of shoes? They just look horrible! Yet, they sell those kind of shoes in all shoe store you can possibly find, from like $20 a pair to like $700 a pair. No, thanks. I will not pay a ridiculous amount of money for ugly looking shoes.

The clothes they sell now, are either extra thin you can see your skin pores, or the plaid shirts they really ran out of possible good looking color combinations so they just jumble all the colours in one. Don't forget that shirts are getting smaller and tighter. Jeans, they are made for one type of body. It is extremely hard for me to find clothings that I really like and at the same time they are of considerable pricing. Maybe it's just me, but the clothes they sell now are getting either more boring or more eccentric that I will not wear in a million years, not even if they paid me (well, maybe).

I looked into my closet, and said to myself a couple times "I need to change my wardrope. I need new clothes. Most of this I've had it for couple years." Yet, when I go shopping for clothes, I can hardly find anything that is my taste on clothes.

My worst case was when I went to Hong Kong this past summer. I was given the money to spend on clothes, and got the opportunity to go to explore malls and street stores. Let me give you an approximate figure: out of the 105 shops I walked by, I went into 15 of them, and bought a total of 1 dress. Seriously. There was just nothing I really liked, and clothes are the same everywhere! And that's where I came with my phrase that Hong Kong girls wear pijamas. Almost like 90% of the women wore the same thing: long white shirt with a random print (celebrity, Eiffel Tower, cat, etc), black leggins, loose vest, and boots. I felt tomboyish wearing jeans and vans.
Same clothing style, same hair style, they are pretty much products of cookie cutters. But that's just me and my opinion coming from a girl raised with western ideaologies going to Hong Kong for the first time since a baby, no offect intended.

It is indeed what you wear that matters. You are what you wear. By wearing a certain style, it is almost impossible not getting judged by other people, or getting tagged by other people. It's called branding, when a certain label carries a certain image. For example, if you wear American Eagle you are preppy. If you carry a Louis Vutton bag, uou must be rich. If you are a guy who wears Hollister, you must be gay. But really, these are all stupid stereotypes. I remember when I used to be "emo" or "punk", and I searched for photos of them and kind of assimilated that image of them: black clothes, belts with studs, bracelets, wristbands, fake piercings, black nail polish, etc. I considered myself "one of them". I came across various people, who were dressed like that, but they claimed "not be be emo and don't wanna be tagged as being 'emo'". But seriously, if you don't want to be judged or tagged for that, then why in hell would you dress like one? Individuality is not an excuse. Cookie cutters again.

But the worst is, when people try to be so fasionable. I remember this comic from The Excalibur (campus newspaper) of a 'typical' girl at York (given that York is considered as a fashionable university, where hallways are like catwalks). She is wearing a coat, a shirt, pants, shoes, bag, and they all come with like the Mastercard commercials ("TNA purse: $75 -I am making this up as I have no clue how much they cost but I remember them being expensive). And at the bottom it says: "Paying lots of money to look like everyone else: priceless" I almost cracked laughing when I read that because it is so true. And nothing annoys me more than those HUGE TNA bags or purses everybody carries. They are GINORMOUS!!! What do they carry in there? A corpse? Their whole house? And they annoy me when I am walking behind them and they poke my chest or my face.

It is getting late now, and I am getting kind of tired. So I will wrap up by saying that I need to change my wardrope to different kinds of clothes. Not because I want to, but because I am forced to. Fashion changes so fast. Next year, i will be throwing out my new clothes and exchange them for even uglier ones. Not able to find clothes that are my style and fitting to my budget is so sad it makes me wanna cry. I hope next fashion will be counteractive to this one and changes into something I would actually like, please.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

well mannered pigeon

this just made my day (or night)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Is Canada Well Represented In The Olympics?

While watching the opening for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and checking Facebook at the same time, I saw this comment that caught my attention. My friend Jason said:

"The Opening Ceremonies' celebration of Aboriginal culture is beautiful, but I can't help but notice the irony - so many of our Native people have been negatively impacted by the Olympics."

which I totally agree with. And here's a response he got from his status:

"Good point Jay; here is an interesting argument;
“The colonization of the native cultural heritage reflects the political attitude of the Canadian government towards First Nations people and our land, and ultimately affects our basic human rights. Talk about the ‘inclusion... See more’ of a native heritage implies identification with the dominant culture, and some benefit to who or what is being included. Yet this ‘inclusion’ denies the existence of systems of signs encoded in visual images, dress, language, ritual, that have specific sociopolitical and religious meanings for specific nations of people. The colonization of images in order to create a new Canadian mythology is parasitic, requiring that the first-order meanings within native communities be drained. This is not an inclusive act, but an act predicated on our exclusion, of ‘otherness’…”
- Marcia Crosby

Personally, I think they are totally right. I mean, the celebration of aboriginal people and native roots was stunning and impressive to say the least. But I can't help to think, what was left out? Was that an authentic aboriginal celebration? by what means they agreed to go on the Olympic show? what do tribes actually think about that? how does the Olympics game affect them negatively? Wasn't white colonisation enough for them? now the whole world is 'colonizing' them. It's kind of a multiple colonisation.

We watch the aboriginal people show through eyes of the dominant white northamerican point of view. It might not be the way they want to be represented, but how the Canadian Government wants to represent them. But who are they to have the say? Just because they organized the Olympic games? But most viewers see it as an act of inclusivity. But really, they are just being excluded by doing so. There is 'us', and there is 'them'. Oh yeah, Canada is also populated by native people, we must include them in our showcase for the world, so that the world doesn't think that we discriminate native people. That is, of course not the case. Take this as an evidence, when they were doing the native dance, did you see any white people mingling with them? No, because the whites and natives are being distinguished or divided. And it is not that they distinguish the various groups of native groups, they are kinda all mushed together (well they did divide them in four categories I can't remember, but still).

What is Canadian identity anyways? Canada is composed of so many cultural mosaics that it will take too long to represent them all. The point is, people are so unique and so is hard to make EVERYONE happy. But at least I'm glad that Canada at least tries.

Rock & Roll This!

As a music listener, I think that musical talent is not enough to consider someone as a 'musician'. Music is more than just making money by playing songs in a public. Music is, as it has been since it's earliest history, part of entertainment. Music serves for the major part, to entertain people. A musician is not only a musician, but is also a performer. Therefore, music talent is not enough for a musician, but must be also a performer.

There is indeed lots of musical talents out there. But only a selected few of them really know how to perform on stage. Sure, it is nice listening to the music you like. But the experience is enhanced and enjoyed even more if the musician performs an act of entertainment. How do you like going to a concert where the musician only plays the music and doesn't talk to the audience or interact with it? What about a musician who plays jokes before playing a song?

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Eric Hutchinson, if you don't know him already.

His website describes him as "the kind of guy you can trust – honest, approachable, somehow familiar". He began writing song as a kid in Maryland, and now he is touring around mostly North America but also does touring in Australia, and Europe.

His songs are characterized with the everyday freshness, inspired by random conversations he has, street observations, and the randonmess, yet nothing out of ordinary, of everyday life. Like in this lyric of "Oh":

met an acquaintance we were reintroduced
with more in common than we had in our youth
she told me "you look the same" i said "i'm now a new man"
she asked me "how does that work" "i started giving a damn"
and i said "oh!"

A lot of his songs also come with life lessons he has learned along the road, and he reminds us of the simple things in life we tend to forget, like in "Ok, it's alright with me":

Ok it's alright with me some things are just meant to be
it never comes easily and when it does i'm already gone

His great voice, his talent playing the guitar and keyboard, his good looks, his lyrics, and his personality are just few reasons enough to inevitable fall in love with him. He is perfectly charming on stage and his jams keeps the people moving along with the rhythm. More than a musician, he is also a performer.

His great humor on stage makes me wanna hire him for my wedding day (that if I am not marrying to him!)

The way he acts on stage blends well with the audience's experiences and relates back to them, one of the reasons why people like him.

He doesn't only blend in experiences with the audiences, but he also has the talent to blend songs together like this one, especially if you like 'My Girl' and 'Ignition':

Check out his official "Rock and Roll" music video if you have read this far and you like him as much as I do.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Onion Rings Rule

There's a recent Onion Ring phenomena going on out there, and by 'out there' I mean Facebook. It started all from this guy called Toby Brittan who decided to make a facebook group called "Can this Onion Ring get more fans than Justin Bieber?" And to that question, Yes, yes it is possible for a simple insignificant onion ring get more fans than the so-called music artist Justin Bieber. Now that they got more fans than Justin Bieber, they are going for exceeding the numbers of fans of Miley 'Circus' and Jonas 'Bros', which they did it successfully in just few days.

You see, nothing against fresh Canadian artists, but, c'mon...Justin Bieber? He was discovered on Youtube making cover songs from Usher and Justin Timberlake. I can find 1840 YouTube performers who are way more talented than him. I am not wholly convinced by the baby-faced boy with a hair bigger than his face singing with a girly undevelopped voice and doing this whole 'gansta what what up and down signs'. And it's funny because, if you search for him on Wikipedia, his page has been locked from editing because there are so many vandalism occuring on his website, saying that he's actually 9 years old, he is dead, he is gay, etc.

Let's see if his lyrics of "One Time" make any sense:

Shawty right there She's got everything I need and I'm gon' tell her one time (one time) Give you everything you need Down to my last dime She makes me happy I know where I'll be Right by your side cause She is the one

Hold on...did he just say "shawty" in his song? really, Justin??? What do you know about 'the one' when you're 15 looking like 12?

What's gonna happen to his career when his puberty hits him and he loses the voice that made him oh-so-famous?

Where has all the talent gone? Miley Cyrus? Jonas Brothers?

Now I can stop listening to mainstream music. Thanks Justin Beaver!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Forget about sleeping

The reason why I don't spend much time writing on this blog:

Today I spent $6.60 to print 66 pages I have to read on top of another 32 more pages for an essay proposal due next Wednesday.

When I signed up for full-time student I didn't know it meant being a student FULL time, as in 24 hours, 7 days a week. Like you literally go to class, and then come back from class to study even more. It's like studying all the friggen time! Unlike working, when you come back home, that's it.

With all the amounts of readings to do, I don't think it is physically possible to finish them all without staying up all night, every night.

Now I can forget about sleeping and read until my eyes start to bleed.

Virtual Pilot

I think I just *might* need to polish my geography knowledge

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dear Ashley (my guitar)

Dear Ashley the guitar,
Sorry I haven't been able to hang out with you more often, thanks to all the school work. Sorry I have abandoned you lately. You are a great friend.

It's been a while since I have played my guitar. In case you didn't know, my guitar is very appreciated by me. I even named it Ashley, named after Ashley Parker, ex-singer from O-town whom I had a crush on when I was younger. I used to watch Making the Band on MTV (plead guilty!). Ashley was gifted a guitar on his bday by a music teacher when he was younger. From then on, he played the guitar. When he auctioned for Making the Band, he broght his guitar and played his own song, instead of just singing a cover like everyone else did. And I can tell that he's really passionate about music and playing the guitar; he made great songs. So I guess I can say that Ashley Parker was my inspiration to start playing my guitar when I was in grade 7.

Now, it's been and on and off relationship between me and my guitar. I started when I was like 13, my mom bought me a guitar from a music place in downtown as a gift for my birthday (or something like that). I have had two music teachers since then. One of them was a Cuban classical guitar player. He was really good, and he taught me great techniques. As a treat for practicing at home, I could bring any song I wanted and I would learn how to play it. Awesome.

Then grade 11 and grade 12 I kinda stopped playing guitar. For one, I really hated that my mom kept pushing and insisting that I should practice the guitar. And I always hated that my mom used to tell me always what to do (I was a rebel, you see). For another reason, I was swamp by school work to do. Lots of exams and studying, and I had no time for practice. So i quit.

When I moved to Canada, I didn't bring it with me because I already had too much stuff to bring. That was the time when I began to miss my guitar. In university I know friends who played the guitar, and they would always be jamming, and in the end of the year there was a Talent show hosted by my college, and I soooo, but soooo wanted to play my guitar so badly.

It wasn't until two summers ago when my dad came visit Canada and help my sister's transition to Canadian university and I told him to bring my guitar back, which he did. Ever since then I have been playing it a lot. Last year I participated in jam nights in residence, and the end of year Talent Show. I played For the Nights I can't Remember by Hedley and Apologize by Timbaland. I forgot the lyrics to the last song, but I recovered from it after a while. It wasn't bad, but I could have done it a lot better.

To this date, one of my biggest wishes is to be GOOD at playing the guitar. Right now im Meh. I know lots of chords, but I don't have good techniques or rhythm. Right now I have a classical guitar, and I'm looking for an actualy acoustic guitar. It's nice sounding, but I guess it feels different. There are so many chords I wanna learn, but they seem to be so difficult, especially those with the index finger on a whole fret. My fingers are short, you see.

This is a video of my playing guitar. Don't laugh. I'm kinda embarrased. Sorry for the bad sound quality.

And my favourite thing about youtube is that I can search for people who play the guitar so well. And what I like the most is when people grab a song - like from any genre like hip hop, electronica, metal, or whatever, and convert them into acoustic. And you know I love acoustic.

My all time favourite guitar player on Youtube is Brad Doggett. He's got crazy covers of like Britney Spears, Chris Brown, Coldplay, John Mayer, Rhianna, Justin Timberlake, Sublime, Outkast, Weezer, Bob Marley, the Beatles....HOLY!!! He's my favourite!! Not counting the fact that he's extremely good looking and has an amazing voice. He also has a lot of singles. Here's my favourite one:

Gawd, I love him!!

In today's world, everybody has talents. We're in an era where everyone plays the guitar. Hope one day I can be labeled as "good guitar player".