January 31, 2014

Black is the New Black: H&M Haul

H&M bustier, H&M peplum top, H&M knit sweater
H&M peplum top $34.95 - H&M low-cut bustier $24.95 - H&M knit sweater $24.95
"You know you're a New Yorker when you need a flashlight to see what's in your closet" - Dress Monsta.
I admit that since two years ago, I could never get enough black clothes. Everything, from dresses, skirts, blouses to pants, tights and booties, just look better in black to me. Anyway I ventured to H&M the other day to spend my $50 Christmas gift card.
I hadn't been to H&M for two months (Foursquare told me), which is like 6 months in fashion year. Either this store near Bryant Park has really good stuff or H&M has improved the quality of their clothing. And there wasn't a huge tourist crowd like usual. Jackpot!!
I found three pieces that must be leftover from previous weeks' stock. In my size! So style. Much fortune. Wow.
I've been on a search for sexy crop tops I can wear in the club. Honestly I have a clubbing uniform, an outfit that consists of skinny pants/tights and a crop top, usually all black in different material. The reason I stick with this is because I feel comfortable and can show off my asset (thin waist). Bodycon dresses, while look good on me, are often too short and rise up when I try to dance or even walk.
1. The peplum crepe top in size 2 is a bit snug but it will do. In the back, it has three hooks and the peplum part is open. It is quite girly and flirty. I will need high-waist pants to go with it, although you can also style it with high-waist pencil skirt.
2. The bustier I got is actually all black, not pinstriped, and had double straps. Size 4 is pretty snug on me, which MUST be vanity sizing because I am barely a size 4 in tops. To clarify, this top is extremely LOW-CUT. It is even more revealing on me that on the model, and I have AA cups. Hmm, anyone larger than a B cup shouldn't attempt to wear this in public.
3. This sweater is a coarser, loose knit that has almost of a sheer effect when layered over something else. I got a similar oversize sweater of the same material in burgundy (unfortunately it became fitted after being thrown into the dryer load) and loved it. So naturally I have to get it in black. Size Small was a bit too long in the black, since this has a high-low hem, so I went for XS instead. This sweater can be paired with leggings and easily layered over tank tops or blouses.
This was quite a successful, stress-free shopping trip. Until next time, stay warm and wear black.

April 10, 2013

Why I Love "2 Broke Girls" (Plus Bonus Fan Art)

2 Broke Girls fan art
I've been watching 2 Broke Girls religiously for the last two weeks and got through every single episode 'till the latest one. I love it!
The show is hilarious and raunchy. I can see the Sex and the City glamour influence from director Michael Patrick King and the Brooklyn/trashy girl humor from co-creator Whitney Cummings.
Not only being broke is something many young women dwelling in NYC (namely me) can relate to, the show also deals with entrepreneurship, classes and sub cultures (upper class, working class, hipster) and female friendship.
And did I mention the fashion? I love Caroline Channing's signature pearl necklace and the color white - which symbolizes her wealthy past. Check out the posters I made using promo pictures, screen shots, the official logo and the font inspired by the opening collage (All Ages bold italic).


April 5, 2013

Great Interactive Ad by Red Bull and Pandora

Recently, Pandora has been rolling out a slightly updated layout that allows for more visible ad content. The player and search bar still stays on top for convenience, but the full album cover display, artist info/lyrics and station list was pushed downwards, making you scroll through the background ad.
What's interesting is that Red Bull has clever placed this interactive ad, introducing its three flavors - red, silver and blue. Users are instructed to "slide the can" on the scale, which changes the background to the corresponding image of the cranberry, lime and blueberry-flavored can. Even though I am not a regular Red Bull drinker, this brand has proved to be an expert in content marketing and produced multiple viral extreme sports events and online videos.
redbull interactive ad on pandora
In this Pandora ad, Red Bull is able to target customers by demographic info and taste in music. The eye-catching graphic strategically places the hashtags as an implied call to action - asking people to tweet it. Finally, the ad circles back wonderfully to its medium - Pandora. Listeners can click to listen to three custom stations - Red, Silver and Blue - which correspond to the brand and its products.
One word for Red Bull: genius. Do you think you're likely to be attracted by this type of interactive ad? Have you seen any similar examples recently?

July 26, 2012

Teen Sexuality through the Tragedies of Spring Awakening

In this entry, I'd like to change it up a little and talk about a theatrical production. When I entered college in 2008, I was randomly put in a peer group of theater majors and had a theater professor for an academic adviser (I later realize it was a mistake because I failed to "officially" declare the major I wanted - Communication - prior to entering).

Anyway, I had the opportunity to see the musical at the Ahmanson theater in downtown LA. I have to admit that I had never been a theater fan or known much about the productions, but I remember enjoying the show a great deal. The emotions were so raw, and I absorbed the energy even though I was sitting from very far away (discount tickets!). After four years, I don't remember the story very well so I did some research to joggle my memory.

Spring Awakening is a rock musical adaptation of the 1892 German play by Frank Wedekin. Taken the time period into context, you can understand why the topic of teen sexuality is so controversial. The whole musical is strung with tensions. The main characters, the teenagers, are growing out of childhood and into puberty. They develop strong sexual desires but are often in the dark about sexual anatomy, how to express the feelings or the consequences of acting them out. The matters are worsened because the adults refuse to give them information to make wise decisions.

Wendla & Melchior
- The female lead Wendla (played by Lea Michele), for example, doesn't know where babies come from, and her mother is intent on keeping it from her. Later, Wendla ends up having sex with Melchior despite her initial reluctance and lack of knowledge on the matter. She is astonished to find out that she's pregnant. The abortion that her mother forces her to get results in her death. (In the play version, there is a clear indication that she is raped by Melchior).

- Moritz is an intense and nervous young man because he can't make sense of the erotic dreams he has. After being educated by Melchior's essay with illustrations, his dreams become even more vivid, which Moritz believes is a sign of insanity. Later, he is unfairly failed by teachers and resorts to suicide because he has no way out. The teachers blame this death on Melchior's sex essay.

- The musical also deals with homosexuality/bisexuality in a scene where a student, Hanschen, seduces a delicate classmate, Ernst.

This musical is a frank and intense critique of a dogmatic society that inhibits sexuality. It has some graphic scenes and sexual content, and is recommended for older teenagers.

June 5, 2012

Mean Girls portrays teenage sexuality fearlessly

This has to be my most favorite post so far because it is about Mean Girls (2004), one of my all time favorite movies and one that I know the lines to. This should also be an interesting take at teenage sexuality because of the movie's colorful and humorous portrayal of the issues.

Mean Girls revolves around Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan), an American girl who grew up in Africa, has been home-schooled all her life and, thus, is completely ignorant about the way an American high school works. She is thrust into the chaotic social scene and has to make a hard choice: identifying with the beautiful but mean, superficial Plastics or with the real, accepting social outcasts.

Teenage sexuality is present in many details through out the movie. For example, a scene of the Sex Ed class shows coach Carr warning students to not have sex or they would contract chlamydia and die. At the end of this irresponsible speech, he hands out condoms anyway, acknowledging that the students are having sex despite such preaching. Ironically, despite being a promoter of abstinence, coach Carr engages in a sexual relationship with an underage female student. (This has a very serious implication despite the joking way it was treated by the movie.) 

The biggest lesson from Mean Girls, however, is the fact that a student's sexuality defines his or her social placement. You may recall the infamous scene where Cady is introduced to the cafeteria. Students divide themselves in distinct groups and sit exclusively together:  "freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, J.V. jocks, Asian nerds, cool Asians, varsity jocks, unfriendly black hotties, girls who eat their feelings, girls who don't eat anything, desperate wannabes, burnouts, sexually active band geeks."
Regina has all the boys at her finger tips
- The Plastics are the most popular girls in school because they are beautiful and have expertly use their sexuality to manipulate people. The person who excels at this is the antagonist Regina George:

- Regina takes back her ex-boyfriend Aaron just because she doesn't want Cady to have him. Aaron is hot and popular; Regina maintains a high social status as a result.
Regina makes out with Aaron in front of Cady to show her power
- She cheats on Aaron by hooking up with Shane Oman in her house and above the auditorium ... just because.
She two-times Aaron because she can
- When Janis, Damien, and Cady want to take down Regina, they secretly try to make her gain weight so that she her status will dwindle.

On the opposite side of the coin, being out of the heterosexual norm or the traditional "hot" ideal guarantees that you'll be an outcast:
Janis & Damien: being gay or lesbian makes you unpopular and weird
- Janis is considered a weird freak by the school because Regina has made up rumors about Janis being a lesbian.
- Damien is among the outcasts because he is "too gay to function."

Mean Girls is successful in giving sarcastic and poignant lessons by portraying an amusing, ruthless high school environment. Its biggest target is to tackle superficiality and instill the idea that people are much more than how they look or who they hook up with. I greatly recommend it to teens and adults alike.

May 25, 2012

Smallville: Too much sexual tension and too little resolution

The Smallville series finally closed in May 2011, ending its tenth season and 10-year run. Personally I think the show was too overdue. I stopped watching it a long time ago despite being an initial enthusiast. However, I would still like to discuss what took place in the first three seasons.

TV shows use sex to sell, and Smallville is not an exception. Well, it would indeed be a waste with such an eye candy leading man like Tom Welling. For the first three seasons, Lois Lane - Clark's destined partner - hasn't even been introduced. But the show does not lack juicy elements.
Clark & Lana
Clark has simultaneous sexual tension with his best friend Chloe and girl-next-door Lana Lang. Both of them are alluring: the former smart and adorable, the latter beautiful and vulnerable.
Nothing even happened between Clark and Chloe (despite many compromising scenes like this one) because the feelings came only from Chloe's side. For Lana, what constantly stood in hers and Clark's ways were his secret and her various suitors (Smallville wikia). Even when they express their feelings for each other, Clark's super power makes consummating their relationship problematic.
Clark's and Lana's first time (Click for clip)
An older blogger from Cheap Sex and Other Stories observes, Lana and Clark have a problem that is similar to that of Edward and Bella:
If he's 'faster than a speeding bullet/more powerful than a locomotive, then surely his ejaculate would shoot right up and through her. Killing her.
Cleverly enough, the writers arrange for them to have sex during the time Clark loses his super power in season 5. They actually lose their virginity to each other, which is really sweet (and quite unrealistic considering how many boyfriends she's had). Later on, they are able to do it again when Lana gains super power. And their combined strengths render seismic tremors all around town - just a superman version of rocking the bed.
Their earthquake-rendering sex (Click for clip)
In my opinion, the series progressed too slowly, leaving the sexual tension between these two unresolved for seasons. And it isn't just the tension that keeps the audience on edge. Their on-and-off relationship was also constantly stormy until her tragic death in season 6. I understand that the producers have to employ this tactic to keep the show going for 10 seasons. However, it's quite ineffective in keeping a loyal audience interested in the long run.

May 14, 2012

Gossip Girl: The novel vs. the TV show

I read the Gossip Girl series in high school (circa 2007), and the Gossip Girl series on CWTV ran throughout my college career. Both creations have received much criticism for the sexual content that is too explicit for its teenage audience.

Naomi Wolf of the New York Times critiqued the Gossip Girl novels in 2006 in an article titled: "Young Adult Fiction: Wild Thing." She wrote: "sex saturates the "Gossip Girl" books ... This is not the frank sexual exploration found in a Judy Blume novel, but teenage sexuality via Juicy Couture, blasé and entirely commodified." Then Wolf went on to quote a passage from the 8th novel "Nothing Can Keep Us Together," where Nate takes a Viagra and gets it on with Serena in a Bergdorf's dressing room. Ironically, this is one scene that I do recall from reading the series five years ago:
Nate was practically bursting as he followed Serena. . . . He grabbed her camisole and yanked it away from her body, ripping it entirely in half. . . . 'Remember when we were in the tub at my house, the summer before 10th grade?' . . . 'Yes!' 'Oh, yes!' . . . Nate began to cry as soon as it was over.
Promos for the movies are stills from sex scenes dubbed with negative reviews.
As for the show, the Parents TV Council gives it a "red light" rating because of occasional "graphic simulated sex scenes" and "plenty of provocative kissing scenes, erotic situations, and skimpy clothing." But it is not the graphic sexual content that makes the series reprehensible. Common Sense Media points out the the sex is not graphic but that "it isn't always equated with love." The Parents TV Council that the sexual content in the Gossip Girl series is often "gratuitous" and the characters appear to be promiscuous.

Besides sex, there are also depictions of unhealthy and un-teen like behaviors such as rampant alcohol and drug use.  New York Magazine points out the lack of consequence (in the novel) that serves to glamorize these negative actions: "kids have sex without pregnancy scares." The Parents TV Council concurs, saying the characters in the TV show often "play musical chairs with their sex-partners, but suffer no physical or psychological ramifications."

As an audience of both, I definitely prefer the wit of Cecily von Ziesegar's prose to the childish drama in the Josh-Schwartz-and-Stephanie-Savage-produced show. The latter seems to drag on forever, replaying the same Blair-Chuck (nicknamed Chair) over and over. At some point, the unthinkable manipulation employed by the characters wears out its charm. The fact that everyone hooks up with everyone, breaks up and hooks up again (!) makes it get old really fast. As the producers run out of ideas for controversy, they arrange for Blair to become an item with Dan, the existence of whom she has spent most of her time either abhorring and ignoring.

To reward your patience for reaching the end of this post, here are some bonus sexy scenes from the show: Blair and Chuck having angry sex and showing off undies. One of Blair's and Nate's rare hookups. Serena's & Nate's drunken first time and fooling around in the kitchen, and an implied threesome between Dan, Olivia & Vanessa.