Saturday, November 30, 2013

Brooklyn Thanksgiving, Fourth Time's the Charm

The last three Thanksgivings at my Brooklyn apartment have been great, but this year was definitely the best. Why? Well, 1) I've become increasingly fond of cooking and any occasion to have a day off to cook sounds spectacular, 2) my high school friends Jared and Kristen have since moved to New York and would be joining Thanksgiving this year, and 3) most importantly, I decided we would all eat on a real table (read: throw an expensive table cloth over our beer pong table)! With age comes class and apparently more red wine. I feel so fortunate to be able to spend Thanksgiving with friends, especially with friends and a husband who are amazing cooks and put so much effort, love and heavy cream into their food.
Our Thanksgiving dinner consisted of Celery Root Soup, Butternut Squash Salad, Pepper and Lemon Curd Roast Chicken, Holiday Brisket, Chicken Liver Sausage Prune Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Carrots, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and the most amazing Pumpkin Pie. Thank you Jason, Jared, Kristen and Sean for cooking a kick ass meal.
Some things don't change, pre-dinner pickers. Guess who's guilty...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I Am Obsessed With Volvo

Volvo created one of my favorite video campaigns this year, which was Leave the World Behind featuring the DJ trio Swedish House Mafia. Timed perfectly to launch after their final world tour and the official split of the group, Leave the World Behind was a poignant and melodramatic portrayal of the life changes for these superstar DJs. Filmed in Scandinavia, there could be no better setting to contrast their previous life in the spotlight.
What I loved most about this campaign was the subtle and almost absent branding of Volvo. Besides the inclusion of the Volvo SUVs, there were no logos or lockups to disrupt the pristine quality of the piece.

Volvo's Leave the World Behind campaign was created by Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors who recently has done it again with another entertaining and powerful video--Jean Claude Van Damme's Epic Split:
There's a human quality to Forsman & Bodenfors approach to brand entertainment. These videos don't scream look at our celebrity spokesperson! or Hey, look at our product!, instead Leave the World Behind and JCVD's Epic Split is a celebration of the human spirit and achievement of greatness. Volvo's video collaborations scream one thing--we're a clever car company with bad ass ideas.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Brooklyn Art Library, the Best Way to Spend a Day Off in Williamsburg

My 15 year-old brother Zadrian visited me all the way from Hawaii this weekend, so I took Monday off to spend time with him and celebrate my birthday. I struggled to think of things to do that would interest him in the neighborhood, so I suggested we taste chocolate at Mast Brothers on North 3rd mainly because I was craving chocolate. After Mast Brothers, we stumbled on The Brooklyn Art Library just a few stores down. I remember walking in here a few years back when they only had a small 3 ft high shelf and now the walls of the room are lined with sketchbooks.

The library is simple, you sign up for a library card (your name, email and phone number) and then you use their online catalog to browse for sketchbooks by interest, profession, location, color, mood, etc. The "librarian" (read: tight jeans, henley shirt, facial hair) will then bring you two sketchbooks at a time. Most of the fun is not knowing who's sketchbook you are going to get, and each sketchbook is inspiring in its own unique way.

My favorite sketchbook was by local Illustrator Greg Kletsel (see below). Anyone can participate by buying a sketchbook that cost $25--I assume part of the cost goes to maintaining the library--or $60 if you want them to digitize it, and submit it to the The Sketchbook Project, which to-date has close to 28,000 artists' sketchbooks.

I ended up buying myself a sketchbook to fill and a Pattern Box of postcards by 10 contemporary female pattern designers curated by the Textile Arts Center in New York. I've been super interested in pattern making and am currently taking Joshua Davis' Skillshare class on Generative Art, so hopefully I'll have some work to fill into my sketchbook!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Budweiser Cares Where Your Bud Came From, Do You?

During the World Series, Budweiser dominated the commercial airwaves with its catchy Miike Snow ball park spot and its new initiative "Track Your Bud". At, Bud drinkers can find out where and when their Budweiser or Bud Light was brewed by simply punching in the code from their can or bottle. The site serves as a digital brewery tour, first introducing you to the Brewmaster by full name (!!!) and then taking you through the steps of brewing your precious beer from milling to bottling. Each step has facts and a video, mimicking what a real brewery tour would be like.
So, why is this important?!
Yesterday, I watched the documentary The Naked Brand: The Future of Marketing, which features Alex Bogusky and various brands such as Patagonia, Under Armour, Unilever and Pepsi and talks about the need for brands to become more transparent about their products and business practices because the consumer feedback loop is instant. The quality of your product and story behind your brand is now KING when it comes to how consumers make decisions.

As for "the King" of beers, Budweiser's Track Your Bud campaign is an effort to highlight the quality and consistency of the All-American brew. The patriotic bottle is a reminder that Budweiser is America's beer, and now when you take a sip of Bud, you'll also associate it to a brewery within the states not so far away.

I've always been a fan of Bud heavy, and I actually appreciate this campaign because it recognizes Budweiser for what it is--a good 'ole American lager.

Monday, November 4, 2013

These TomorrowWorld Pics Cost Me $25

1 disposable camera ($12) + developing the disposable camera ($13) = 20 discernible photos (priceless)
There's something so satisfying about disposable cameras. That click! sound after you take a photo and the winding of the film until its taut. The need to ration your 27-shot camera across the course of 3 days, limiting you to roughly a photo an hour. But nothing beats the anticipation of receiving your photos weeks later in those paper envelopes, only to find out a third of your photos are just all-black because you didn't understand or forgot how to use the manual flash. Nostalgia is what the soft grainy quality of my glossy 4x6 photos feels like, and the imperfections of my TomorrowWorld photos is something no Instagram filter can replicate.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Oh Apple, What Happened to Your Commercials

Goldfrapp? That's so 2006. I love Goldfrapp's "Ooh La La" track and it still feels hip and relevant, but I expect more from you Apple. By this, I mean I expect Apple to surprise and delight me with a song I haven't heard of (remember that Feist nano spot?) or a classic that brings back pleasant feelings. Apple's latest spot for the 5s took the former route of using a classic, Goldfrapp's "Ooh La La" and the only feeling I had was disappointment. Watching the first few seconds of the 5s spot, I distinctly recalled hearing the same song for a Motorola Chocolate or RAZR phone ad--those ads had such high frequency that I remembered the brand--and so the 5s commercial just felt underwhelmingly familiar.

Check out these Motorola ads back from 2006 that defined the Goldfrapp track + cellphone model:

Seven years later, Apple releases this to introduce their 5s:

Not so ooh la la original right?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Dave Eggers' New Novel The Circle Will Give Us All Some Perspective

This Tuesday, Dave Eggers' new novel The Circle comes out. Without going into detail, I think anyone who actively uses social media or a smartphone (which is likely everyone) or works in the tech and digital industry should read the book. It's a story about a 24 year-old girl Mae who begins a job at a large tech company--one that closely resembles Facebook and Google (if those two companies merged). I found the book particularly relevant because the digital industry and work environment is one I'm familiar with--the subject of tracking user data, the free lunches and open bar company events. The Circle, like most of Eggers' novels, is a reflective piece and a page-turner that touches upon a lot of timely, controversial topics like NSA's Prism and the effects of social over-sharing on human behavior. I'd love to hear what you all think about the book, so leave me a comment if you read it!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Full Recap of TomorrowWorld 2013 [PHOTOS]

My final moment on the Chattahoochee Hills grounds in Atlanta, Georgia perfectly sums up my four-day TomorrowWorld festival experience: It was early the morning after, the sun not yet out in full view and the grass and car windshields still moist with dew drops. Our bus driver starts driving the coach to the airport nestled with quiet, half-asleep, worn out festival goers, first backing out of the dirt parking lot. Sitting in the front seat next to Sean, I could still see the festival grounds--the large inflatable rainbow entrance, the cotton candy colored carnival tent and staggered white cone shapes sitting peacefully on the lush rolling hills against a purple-tinted sky. My eyes took one last mental picture of the majestic view when my ears heard the soft sounds:

If I should stay, 
I would only be in your way. 
So I'll go, but I know 
I'll think of you every step of the way. 

And I will always love you. 
I will always love you... 

Wait, is that Whitney Houston I'm hearing? It is Whitney Houston. The entire bus breaks out chuckling over how fitting the lyrics are as we say one last good bye to one of the most unique experiences we'll encounter in our lives. Plus, after four days of womp womp, utz utz and electronic sounds, the soothing R&B tune of the late and great Whitney Houston was a stark contrast but a welcomed treat to our ears. And, this moment on the bus was the cherry on top of the most magnificent festival 140,000 revelers and I shared. Each and every detail, song, laser, smile, sun ray felt purposefully perfect and I thank the planners of TomorrowWorld for pulling out all the stops to deliver on the first TomorrowWorld festival.
TomorrowWorld has restored some hope in me that the American electronic dance music scene is not doomed. Reflecting back on my Electric Zoo post, I realize I was being a bit dramatic and was generalizing an entire scene on just the tristate area crowd. TomorrowWorld, thankfully, did not report any deaths or major concerns. And in all honesty, none of the annoying nastiness I felt at EZOO was at TomorrowWorld but the fratty-ness still remained. I mean it's Americuh.

Sean and I arriving at DreamVille on our first day
Our easy tent camp grounds, we lived in Madrid!
TomorrowWorld ca$h money (each token was about $2, cheapest beer cost 3 tokens)
As for music, I wasn't dissatisfied by the variety but was a bit disappointed in how many DJs played the same six songs: Animals, Booyah, Boneless, If I Lose Myself, Reload, Tsunami. No joke, I could check off this list for every set but I still went nuts every time. I guess the joke is on me. My favorite sets were Tiësto (redeemed himself from EZOO), Dillon Francis, Gregori Klosman, Kill Paris, Fehrplay and The Chainsmokers. My least favorite or most "meh" set was Hardwell.

Main Stage
 Trap Stage or what I called the Buddha Stage
Kitsuné stage
 The Gathering, Fool's Gold and Mad Decent Stage
 OWSLA Stage

Smash the House vs. Dirty Dutch Stage
Sean and I ate most of our meals on the festival grounds and at the DreamVille marketplace since we weren't able to pack a ton of food in our luggage. My favorite was the fried chicken and ribs dinner plates which came with slaw and baked beans or a biscuit. Breakfast was usually at the Australian bakery for meat pies, breakfast pies or Ned Kelly pie (seen in pic).
One of my favorite parts of the festival was the Breckenridge Brewery Craft Beer stand that sold four types of craft beer, one which was a Belgian brew specific for TomorrowWorld.
The International crowd made for a fun atmosphere. I met people from Germany, Japan and Mexico and less foreign places like Chicago, North Carolina, Alaska and Ohio. One thing I noticed and confirmed is that electronic music festivals in America skew heavily male. Based on the bathroom lines, I want to say it was 70/30 male to female ratio, which I also felt was the case at EZOO. I'm not complaining, but where my ladies at?!
My absolutely favorite part and the part I will miss the most is the scenery. Chattahoochee Hills is breathtakingly gorgeous from dusk till dawn. The lakes, trees, hills and sky enhanced the fantasy feel of the otherwise cheesy Disneyland-esque sets.
And last but not least, it's not an electronic music festival with out ELECTRICITY AND LASERS! So many lasers and fireworks. 

Sean and I bought our tickets back in April when they first went on sale because we always wanted to go to TomorrowLand in Belgium but it was just too expensive. After we bought our tickets, I had this terrible feeling and low expectations that TomorrowWorld wasn't going to live up to the hype. Now that it's over, I can say that it did, and I think it did it in a way that was uniquely American in the best sense possible. While you can't ignore the bro-iness of the American "EDM" scene, I think foreigners quite enjoyed playing flip cup and everyone was free of judgement to enjoy the festival however they liked--raging up front or chilling back on the hill. 

In the words of whatever mythical TomorrowWorld wise man: "Yesterday is history. Today is a gift. Tomorrow is mystery." Oooooo, I love mystery. Can't wait to see what next year has in store.