Saturday, January 28, 2012

Year of the Dragon Definitely Won't Be A Drag

Craving a bowl of won ton mein, my roommates and I headed to our go-to roast duck and jook (sometimes referred to as congee by less cool people) joint Big Wong's in Manhattan Chinatown. Just our (bad) luck, Chinese New Year celebrations were going on, so the streets were littered with little kids, confetti and silly string. If I wasn't so hungry, the lion dancing and cymbal banging wouldn't bother me but it was preventing me from my noodles. It's a good thing Big Wong's is so quick at serving food. Instantly our won ton mein, char siu chong fun and jook was devoured and our bellies satisfied--all for only $15!

The Chinese New Year festivities reminded me that today is my brother Zadrian's 14th birthday!! Zadrian also lion dances and does kung fu in Hawaii and will be performing at the 63rd Narcissus Coronation Ball at the Hilton Hawaiian Village today. I'm so amazed and proud of how quickly he has learned the jongs--lion dancing on 8 ft. poles--you can watch his awesome performance from a few weeks ago at the end of this post. 

After grocery shopping, we stopped by Quickly's for some Bubble Milk Tea and mini cakes from the food stand outside.
The video below is of my brother Zadrian and his lion dance company Gee Yung at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. He's the head player in the pink lion. Warning in advance, my little sister Zoe filmed the video which explains the low angle:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Want to Work in Advertising? Here's 5 Traits You Need

Before I get into this post, I want to clarify that I'm not writing this because I think I know it all or claim to--I'm writing this because I want those who are passionate about working in the ad industry to succeed, and here are some tips I've gathered from my experience in the agency world:  

1. Question Wisely
At first I wanted to phrase this as "question everything". If you're on a call and someone is talking about implementing a "pixel" to a website for tracking purposes and you don't know what the hell they're talking about... speak up and ask. What's a "QSR"? Don't know? Then ask (QSR are quick service restaurants like Quiznos). No question is a bad question BUT the point is knowing the best person and time to ask. If you're in a 10-person meeting, it's probably not the best idea to ask every question. List them in a notebook and only ask the ones you can't ask someone after the meeting or google. You can't learn, if you don't ask.

2. Learn to Simplify
It's amazing how stupidly tedious certain processes can be because no one was smart enough to fix them or everyone was just too lazy. If a process is frustrating and unnecessarily time consuming, fix it. Find a way to make it easier for yourself and others. Also, we're in the business of getting a point across quickly, so we (myself included) should exercise some restraint and editing of powerpoint slides.

3. Keep Busy
Seriously if you're online shopping or catching up on last week's episode of The Bachelor on hulu, you probably should ask around for work. If your manager doesn't have anything and your team doesn't have anything--venture to a different department, consider submitting ideas to an open brief, research new business opportunities or "simplify" something. Boredom is a terrible thing.

4. Be Positive
Sounds simple but you'd be surprise how easy negativity flows through agencies. It's tough being the person to challenge creatives to see the opportunity in a low-fi microsite or work with a miniscule budget--but you just have to keep pushing for amazing work. And amazing work rarely happens unless everyone believes in it.

5. Be Fearless
Of all 5 traits, this one is most important. Dive head first into projects. Believe in something? Then just do it.

It's no surprise that most students out of college aspire to work for the Wiedens, Drogas, BBDOs and Crispins. I know I did and still do; however, it's not the agency that makes good people, it's good people that makes an agency. And good people are everywhere, therefore strong advertising can come from any agency. I'm grateful to wake up each morning hungry and happy about what I do and hope the people I work with are just as hungry and happy too.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Totally Late but Rooney Mara is My Best Dressed For The Globes

Overall, I thought most of the dresses at this year's Globes were boring and uninteresting (compared to last year's awesome Old Hollywood ensembles). My predictions were "weird holes" and "beading" which I did see some of and all on Zooey Deschanel. My favorite look of the Globes goes to Girl With The Dragon Tattoo actress Rooney Mara for her feminine goth inspired Nina Ricci dress. I absolutely like the cut-outs on the sides, mini-bows in the front and use of tulle to soften the dress. Her simple hair and make up went perfectly with the dress--not distracting and not too casual. Argue away but I was never a fan of the red carpet princess dress and this was definitely not it.

VW Proves You Can Pick An Un-related Theme (Like Star Wars) And Run With It

By now everyone has probably seen the VW "Bark Side" teaser commercial and thought to themselves this is frickin awesome. What most people aren't thinking is, "What does VW have to do with Star Wars?" or "I don't get how barking dogs has anything to do with German engineering?" The point is that IT DOESN'T MATTER. A good commercial or campaign idea that engages an audience doesn't always have to make sense for a brand, in some ways like VW, it's better.

This reminds me of two advertising lessons I learned at BU:
1. Make the ordinary feel strange and the strange feel ordinary
2. When in doubt, babies and puppies

Deutsch LA must have taken the same course because last year's 'The Force' commercial with mini Darth Vader was an instant hit and gained a ton of earned media mentions--morning show interviews, news articles, shares--and was one of the more memorable/talked about Super Bowl TV spots. This year, the 'Bark Side' teaser uses the "force" of dogs put us under a viral video spell.

The only similarity between 'The Bark Side' and last year's commercial is: 1) Imperial March theme song 2) Star Wars costume, and again  to VW, Cars or German engineering but still absolutely brilliant. I hope advertisers see that a strong campaign idea doesn't always need to stem from a theme or topic that is highly relevant to a brand. I mean, the only similarity I see between VW and Star Wars is the Passat is the color of the Death Star.

Watch 'The Bark Side' again below:
Rewatch last year's 'The Force' commercial and/or read my commentary post here:
While the Star Wars theme feel a bit "forced" (haha) onto the VW brand--see the Intergalactic Invite at below--I'm eating it all up. Can't wait to send out Star Wars invites to my possibly Star Wars themed Super Bowl party.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Don't Eat Chinese Often But When I Do I Eat At Cafe China

Chinese New Year is this Monday and since I am full Chinese and don't want to dishonor my family, I really should start consuming massive amounts of Chinese food. Thankfully my roommate Ben had his 25th birthday at Cafe China, located in the Midtown East/Murray Hill area, which served authentic Szechuan (the spicy kind!) Chinese food. I can't explain how extremely satisfying, delicious and spicy-in-a-good-way the food was. All the dishes were served family-style and everyone had a bowl of rice in hand; it was like eating a home-cooked meal.

My favorite part was the appetizers, which we ordered pork in garlic dressing, mouthwatering chicken, dan dan noodles and jellyfish in scallion pesto sauce (a personal request). For entrees, I recommend ordering the fragrant fish fillet, pan-fried lamb and braised pork (the pork belly!). Ugh, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

I rarely get Chinese food outside of Chinatown--with the exception of M Noodle shop across in my hood which has become the go-to late-night dumpling and scallion pancake joint by default--but I would actually venture to Cafe China on 37th between Madison and 5th Ave and that's saying A LOT. For those who like a little culture with their cuisine, Cafe China's decor is reminiscent of a Wong Kar-Wai movie and to top it off you can order an In the Mood For Love cocktail.

Hannah & Noah with the Birthday boy
Jason's rocking the pose
So is Sean but not Jack
 Ted and Gabs are so professional with their (wine) glasses
Sauteed String Beans and Pan-fried Lamb With Scallion
Chungking Braised Fish in Red Soup
Fragrant Fish Filet, Braised Pork Szechuan Style and Ma Po Tofu
Watch a quick clip about Cafe China from CHOW:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Deadmau5, Tiësto--Tech Brands Love Affair With DJs

Deadmau5's live 4D performance on the Thames River for Nokia and Tiësto's first ever live streaming concert on Twitter for HP and Intel proves that big name DJs are the next big super endorsers for tech brands, especially in America. Both of these marketing stunts are farrr from cheap, demonstrating the confidence brands have in DJs to give their products massive exposure and "cool" value. Today in the ad industry, DJs are to electronics as Basketball players are to shoes. If anyone's seen TRON then you'll know how electronic music can help push sales and/or save your product.

Benjamin Franklin Would Have Liked Our Golden Globes Eating Party

Benjamin Franklin once said, "There can't be good living where there is not good drinking." I learned this from one of those bathroom books I bought this weekend called Keep Calm and Drink Up. I won't argue with The Benj but I'd have to add "eating" to the quote as well. Last night, my friends and I somehow pulled out of our asses a really "good" Golden Globes dinner party on the inspiration of "appetizers" (we were too lazy to plan an actual dinner). The Benj would have been proud: we ended up drinking Manhattans and appetizing on two types of spinach dip, bbq chicken wings, fried cornishons, caesar salad, goat cheese brie and jam crackers, garlic bread bruchetta and red carpet red velvet cupcakes. All made from scratch and all delicious.

Thanks to everyone who trekked through the cold to make last night a success, unfortunately, I can't say the same for majority of the red carpet choices made at the Globes. More on that later, but for now, some food porn:

Another Post Dedicated To Marisa Lynn Star

I've been a very lucky girl recently because all my favorite people who live far away have made a stop in NYC. Last week was sushi, sake and dancing with Sindoni and this week my dearest Californian Marisa Lynn Star is here! Like the times she visited before, a weekend with Marisa is nothing short of "celicious" (you'll have to ask her what that means). Due to freezing point temperatures, we've opted to stay in Brooklyn--dumplings at M Shanghai, dancing at The Woods and brunch at Rye. Dumplings, dancing and brunch--how could that go wrong?

Photo recap:
Updated the scrabble message board just for Marisa
Awesome Beef (this really is what the dish is called) at M Shanghai
 Pregame at Sophie's
 Brunch at Rye! I was super disappointed they no longer have the pork belly sandwich on their menu :(
But they do have the Rye Benedict, which has pork belly
I demolished the House Smoked Sturgeon
 Ted photobombing
If you can't tell by our frigid expressions, it was pretty cold out.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A to Zeny Jewelry Piece No.2, The "Sophie" Bracelet

Happy birthday to Sophie, the first friend I ever made in college! Sophie always had the best accessories and is probably the most stylish person I know. So when I was brainstorming a piece to make her, I wanted it to be unique and sweet like her! The "Sophie" bracelet is made out of glass heart beads (no heart is the same), iridescent crystals and a braid made of the multi-colored knitted rope and suede. Hopefully Soph and I have the same wrists size because I kept cutting it shorter to make it fit perfectly around the wrist.

Can't wait to celebrate with my favorite German tonight in Brooklyn! The pic of Soph below is circa Sophomore year Toga party night... jello bowl, classy.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I Won't Be Watching Season 5 of Jersey Shore

Tonight was the premiere of MTV's Jersey Shore Season 5, as Snooki and crew head back to Seaside Heights to party at Karma and sell statement tees at the boardwalk, and I didn't care to watch it.

No, I am not a Jersey Shore hater and don't judge anyone who watches it. As matter of fact, I was pretty obsessed with seasons 1-3 (watched 4, not so obsessed) and even wrote a blog post defending and commending the Jersey Shore crew a year and a half ago. But since the Italy season, I started losing interest. Maybe it was because Sammie and Ronnie finally got along or there weren't enough grenades in Florence, but the show started to get repetitive and old. Team Meatballs' drunken antics were extreme but expected, you know, the Lady Gaga effect--when you consistently try to be over the top it gets tiring to watch at some point.

This combined with the fact that I recently turned a quarter century and am making changes in my life to grow up--the last thing I need is to watch a bunch of late 20 year-olds trying so hard not to. I have no doubt Season 5 will be entertaining, Deana will flash her "kuka" and Pauly D will coin some genius phrase ("Yeah Buddy!") but this is my sincerest farewell to my dearest Jersey Shore cast, it's been nice knowing ya. Stay classy Jersey Shore.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

From Indian to Beach, the 2011 Weddings That Rocked

I remember being a summer intern and my manager who was in his mid-20s told me how he was attending multiple weddings a year. There was something about his tone that made me think I shouldn't be looking forward to these "multiple weddings" when I hit my mid-20s; however, from my very first wedding in 2010 (Greg & Erin's) to the two I attended in the last two months--it is safe to say that WEDDINGS ARE AWESOME.

On November 5th, I attended my friend Jalpa's wedding in Virginia and experienced my first Indian wedding. I attempted to wrap my first saree (which I rented from Borrow It Bindaas), binge ate Indian food and danced my feet off. Everything about the wedding--the ceremony, family, music--was so lively and joyous... I can't wait until my other Indian friends get married!

Last Friday, my friend Peter graciously invited me to his sister Shelly's wedding reception in Hawaii. His invite said, "there will be a sand castle building contest" and "there's gonna be an adult pinata with adult stuff"--this was more than enough to convince me to go. Located on Kalama Beach in Kailua, the event was beautiful and low-key. I wore a tank top, shorts and slippers. Best part of the wedding was the bride and groom designed custom shirts that said "I Lava You", which everyone put on.

These two weddings are so different and unique to the two couples, but both were filled with so much happiness and celebration. I had an amazing time and very grateful to have been able to share the special moment with both couples. Congrats!

Jalpa and Amish's wedding in Chantilly, Virginia: 
David and Shelly's wedding reception in Kailua, Hawaii: