End of Year Playlist + A Few Musical Highlights

The other day my friend me sent me this article, which lists several reasons why twentysomethings should find and invest in a “side hustle.” That is, find some sort of side activity, business, or interest that will allow you to explore your passions, flex your creativity, and/or (hopefully) bring in extra cash, all while you buckle down and begin your journey into that scary world of first jobs and life without the safety nets of college and your parents. We were inspired after hearing how our other friend had made a shit ton of cash simply by operating her own little side business creating and selling these beautiful hand-beaded bracelets. While I doubt I’d ever have the artistic flair or patience to painstakingly put together something someone out there would ever pay for, our conversation and the article made me think of my own passions and interests. What could I claim as my own “side hustle”? I feel like I’ve dabbled in so many different things, but have never found that TRUE PASSION of mine. I’ve always had an interest in music, movies, and television, as well as the other aspects of pop culture, so much so that I’ve gone on to study media in grad school. But that activity clearly isn’t going to bring in the cash, at least, not yet. So while I continue praying that my get rich side hustle will easily fall into my lap, I will go back to blogging and exploring my interests without pay. To be honest, I do consider this blog, despite my inability to update regularly, my side hustle. I created this page in attempt to both create a “professional” web presence and an outlet where I could challenge myself to focus and discuss my interests without slipping into tangents about what I did that day or what my class schedule looks like (see: my xanga). So. I will now give my beloved blog the half-yearly attention it deserves and update it NOW.

Let’s start with this music round-up post for 2013. Firstly, here’s a nice Spotify playlist of my favorite tracks from 2013. I realize that some of these songs technically came out in 2012, but I complied this list based on what I found myself enjoying or repeatedly listening to this year (RIP repeatyoutube btw).

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“But it’s free!”

I’ve made a post in the past detailing how to take advantage of cultural happenings in San Francisco on a student budget (which you can read HERE) and now I’m going to try to do the same for New York City. I’ve been here for almost a year now and I don’t think I will ever get over how expensive and out of control some of the prices are here (this may be due in part to the fact that I’m on the hunt for housing right now and I just want to weep while scrolling through Craigslist; must avoid places like these listings). Almost everything here, from produce to housing, is a lot more expensive than I’m used to and as a result, I’m always on the hunt to save a few bucks here and there. New York’s crazy prices shouldn’t deter you from enjoying the multitude of events and activities the city has to offer, I tell myself. Personally, it’s pretty pricey living here, all the way across the country, away from my family, friends, cheap produce, cheap Mexican food, In-n-Out, and so on. I force myself to go out and really enjoy the city because not everyone can say they live in New York City, right? So I will now present a taste of some of the FREE (or super cheap) activities I’ve partaken in this summer so far.

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Happy Summer!

We’ve now reached the most joyous time of the year – no school, vacations, outdoor movies and concerts, ice creams, melting in the heat…So the last one isn’t so great, but it’s all I’ve been thinking about since returning to NYC. I am not sure how people who live here do it because all I want to do is shower. All time time. I feel sticky and gross and I’m pretty sure I’ve managed to sweat out most of the liquids in my body (seriously, how am I not dehydrated…yet?!).

I haven’t updated in forever because of school, but now that I’ve got more free time on my hands, I’ll try to keep up with this blog. There’s a bunch of that I want to commit to memory via electronic paper, so I will try my hardest to not be so lazy and actually write. In the meantime, here’s a quick little Summer 2013 playlist that I’ve put together of some of the songs that I have been enjoying for the past month or so!

Like I mentioned above, there are a bunch of awesome events going on in NYC this Summer and I’m hoping to go to as many as I can. Tonight I managed to catch Comedy Central’s Stars Under the Stars event as part of the NYC SummerStage series and it was great. Gabriel Iglesias hosted, while the main performers included Adam Devine, John Mulaney, Jeffrey Ross, and Amy Schumer. The other three were decent (Jeffrey Ross made the whole audience uncomfortable though when he started roasting two 13 year olds), but Mulaney was my favorite. He was absolutely hilarious and unlike a lot of comedians, did not have to rely on racial  or overly sexual jokes. Maybe I’m getting older (or my taste has changed), but I’m more impressed when comedians can do a great set that isn’t riddled with cheap jokes. Not to say that I don’t enjoy “low-brow” humor, because I do (just saying, I absolutely loved This is the End), but after awhile it gets old and feels lazy, as though the audience were stupid. Anyway, it was still lots of fun and I had a great time!

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What I Learned Over Winter Break

Because learning never stops OKAY

  • The Aladdin show at Disney’s California Adventure is still the best place to take a nap in the parks. It’s heated/air conditioned, dark, and has comfy chairs. Obviously this only applies when you have seen the show before because it actually is a really great adaptation of the movie and the guy who plays Genie improvises (I think) and it’s great. 
  • It’s a really bad idea to go to Disneyland without checking their Twitter to see if it’s a busy day. Imagine a normal day at Disneyland…then multiple that crowd by 10.
  • Davey Havok from the band AFI, or some guy who looks suspiciously like him, eats at Urth Cafe.
  • The new Ke$ha album is actually really, REALLY catchy.
  • Breaking Bad is really great and actually deserving of the hype.

  • Leonardo DiCaprio never getting awards/recognition is one of my favorite running jokes.
  • They still play Drake and Josh reruns on Nickelodeon.
  • Catfish is absolutely hilarious only because you sit there going “WHY DID YOU NOT USE SKYPE? DID YOU REALLY THINK IT WAS NORMAL TO NOT TALK TO THIS PERSON ON THE PHONE? GIRL YOU LIVE 15 MINUTES AWAY FROM THIS PERSON AND DIDN’T THINK IT WAS WEIRD YOU NEVER MET IN PERSON? HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF GOOGLE?!” and so on. Also it somehow doesn’t phase the Catfish people that some girl pretended to be a guy on Facebook for two years so she could distract her boyfriend’s other chick (hay Mhissy hay). Continue reading

Things I Enjoyed in 2012

I’m really bad with keeping up with this blog but figured I should post something before the year ends.

Since the last time I updated, I started my MA program at NYU and moved to New York. It’s been a huge change (one that was quite difficult at first), but it’s definitely been a learning experience. I’m happy to say that I’m enjoying my time there now and school has definitely contributed to my overall happiness. The beginning half of this year was possibly the hardest time period in my life – having to learn how to accept “no” as an answer multiple times, realizing that I need to stop acting entitled just because I have an expensive sheet of paper, learning how to be happy for other people even as my self-confidence dwindles, learning how to swallow my pride and face the fact that nothing is really “below my standards,” and so on – but I do believe I am a better person overall for having experienced it. Did it suck? Obviously. Would I do it again? Hopefully not, but I am, in a strange way, grateful for January – August because I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes and how to be satisfied and thankful for any opportunity that comes my way.

Now that I’ve explained my current and past mentality for this year, I’ll move on to much more exciting and entertaining things. This is a post about the pop culture-y things I’ve enjoyed this year – anything from movies, tv shows, music, YouTube videos, etc. I have to admit there isn’t anything groundbreaking here as I was/am a bit slow to catch onto things, at least for 2012, due in part to my lack of time and (mostly) in part to my laziness. Some of these items listed are things I’m sure most people already know about and may have even moved past or gotten over. Oh well!

So here are the things, in no particular order, that provided an escape, entertained me, or helped me procrastinate:

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A Summer Mix – JEAH~~~

A quick post (I still need to put together a post about the Olympics, which I miss everyday) for a very short mix of songs I’ve really liked or listened to a lot this summer. I haven’t made one of these in awhile and making this one made me realize I haven’t been listening to a lot of new music recently. If anyone has suggestions, please throw them my way!

Anyway, here we go:

living in a state of dreaming

1. The State of Dreaming – Marina and the Diamonds

2. Portions for Foxes – Rilo Kiley

3. What Makes You Da One (One Direction vs Rihanna) – DJ Nico (I think…I ripped it from YouTube)

4. Keep It For Your Own – POP ETC

5. Us – Azealia Banks

6. Lazuli – Beach House

7. Spectrum – Florence + the Machine

8. Radioactive – Marina and the Diamonds

9. Esta Noche- Azealia Banks

 

(I am also super excited that 8tracks mixtapes can now be embedded on WordPress! Maybe now I’ll make more mixes.)

Fact: Asians Are Indeed Capable of Singing

As a not-so-ashamed fan of One Direction (I must mention that I bought a 1D notebook at Target the other day…best $2.50 ever spent), I will admit that in addition to listening to their CD and looking up pictures and GIFs, I also follow all of them on Twitter. Now, as I mentioned in my previous post, many of their fans display deplorable behavior; Twitter and Tumblr are cesspools of ignorance, racism, homophobia, and more. So I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised when I see a disappointing Tweet in response to Liam Payne’s Tweet of this really great 1D cover:

My initial reaction was disgust. Again, I really should not be surprised when these sorts of things appear online as I’ve learned this particular fandom is beyond help (keep in mind that many of 1D’s fans think it’s hilarious to make racist remarks about their very own Zayn Malik, who happens to be of British Pakistani descent). However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that while it’s possible this person’s reaction stems from their own ignorance, it could also be the result of a bigger problem in mainstream music/pop culture.

There aren’t many Asians in the mainstream US music scene.

I’m going to recount an embarrassing anecdote from my high school years, so please don’t judge me. During my freshmen year of high school, a UC Berkeley student known as William Hung auditioned for American Idol with his rendition of Ricky Martin’s ‘She Bangs.’ His audition was terrible and just plain embarrassing, and naturally, as a 14-year old I thought it was absolutely hilarious. I spammed my own Xanga (yes, this did take place in 2004) with GIFs of William Hung dancing and made all my friends watch his audition. Looking back now, I do believe William was sincere in his audition, but I can also say that his audition managed to push Asian Americans back a few years. William Hung became a joke and unfortunately, embodied the nerdy Asian stereotype to a T and managed to leave many Americans with the impression that Asians can’t sing.

Since then, there have been several Asian Americans/Asians who have tried to break into the US mainstream scene. Many of them have managed to find success, such as Far East Movement, who are the only Asian-American artists to have reached the Top 10 of the Billboard 100, as well as having a Number 1 Song. Jay Sean is also the first South East Asian artist to have a Number 1 Song in the US. And most recently, Jessica Sanchez, a Filipino American, was a runner-up on American Idol just this past Spring.

Earlier this year, KPOP girl group, Girls’ Generation (aka SNSD) tried to break into the American market when they came over and promoted their single on “Live with Kelly” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.” I’ve never been a huge fan of KPOP, but I started to root for them because I wanted to see more Asian artists in the mainstream music scene. Sure, they had a total of 9 girls in their group and sure, only two members were fluent English speakers. I still saw the potential for an Asian group to make it into the Billboard Hot 100. They were cute, they could dance, and they had catchy music. However, others insisted they wouldn’t make it simply because American audiences weren’t open to having Asians on their radio and televisions, especially if they couldn’t speak fluent English. It’s disgusting to even consider this a viable reason, but sadly, I do believe it plays a part. The above Tweet is just one of many examples of the xenophobia and close-mindedness that still exists in mainstream media.

That isn’t to say that Asian artists are few and far between in the overall music industry. Many are independent and underground artists on smaller labels or have yet to be discovered by major labels. And many more are finding success on their own without the help of the Billboard Hot 100. One of my favorite bands last year, The Naked and Famous, had a major hit with their song ‘Young Blood’ and their lead vocalist, Alisa Xayalith, is of Laotian descent. The Temper Trap had one of the most popular songs of 2009 with ‘Sweet Disposition,’ which would not have been as special without the vocals of Dougy Mandagi who is Indonesian.

And I would be amiss to write this post without mentioning the large numbers of Asian musicians who have embraced YouTube as a means to share their music. They have managed to skip the arduous process of hoping and praying for a record deal by simply uploading their own covers and music onto the web and many have become fairly successful, racking up thousands of views and fans.

Asians can sing. We are not all William Hung. Many of us can carry a tune, play our own instruments, and dance*. It’s a shame that mainstream media has perpetuated this stereotype due to its failure to fully embrace Asians/Asian Americans into pop culture (the severe drought of Asians in film and television is another issue as well).

*Sadly, I am not one of them (minus the instrument playing…my mom paid for 10 years of piano lessons and I don’t want to just write those off). Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy screeching during karaoke sessions or in the car though!