Monday, August 30, 2010

Love, Chloé.

Choosing Raquel Zimmermann to be the face of Love, Chloé, was definitely a good choice. Raquel Zimmermann definitely has that strength of character that Ezra Petronio speaks of, and she does embody the spirit of Chloé.

Chloé never fails to assert itself as my favorite fashion house--over and over again. (This time with the making of video of "Love, Chloé.")

The Chloé woman is the ideal woman. Hannah Macgibbon and Inez van Lamsweerde describe the Chloé woman perfectly. She has natural beauty, inner elegance and loves life. Three of the most important aspects of the ideal character, I believe. And in my opinion--the Chloé woman is refined, attractive, and alluring, but not pretentiously so.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Is this a universal childhood theme that I missed out on or what?

My Amelie

If you have watched the French film Amelie before, you'd know exactly how delighted I feel right now.

But if you haven't watched Amelie...check this out:

This is the character Amelie (in her childhood) from the film Amelie.

It's so interesting. My sister has never watched Amelie before, yet...

The portrait I took of my sister was completely spontaneous. It was all my sister's idea--holding her hands splayed like that with globs of dough on each finger.

Like, oh my god, is this a universal childhood theme or something? Am I the only person who missed out on doing something like this as a child? (Did you guys ever do anything like this as a child?)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Familial ties are disintegrating?

As I read Japan, Checking on its Oldest, Finds Many Gone by Martin Fackler of The New York Times, I found it interesting that many statements in the article resonated with what I have been thinking about for quite a long time--but now more than ever.

"Or was the whole sordid affair, as the gloomiest commentators here are saying, a reflection of disintegrating family ties, as an indifferent younger generation lets its elders drift away into obscurity?
“This is a type of abandonment, through disinterest,” said Hiroshi Takahashi, a professor at the International University of Health and Welfare in Tokyo. “Now we see the reality of aging in a more urbanized society where communal bonds are deteriorating.”

It should come as no surprise that I ponder deeply about all aspects in regards to family. But through my observation, it seems to me that familial bonds presently, in the 21st century, are not as strong or important as they seemed to be in previous time periods. It saddens me to think that while my aunts, uncles, and parents gather together quite often (at least three times a month, if not every other week), I can't see myself having such frequent reunions with the family members of my generation (the F1 generation to be exact) in the future.

"Some health experts say these cases reflect strains in a society that expects children to care for their parents, instead of placing them in care facilities. They point out that longer life spans mean that children are called upon to take care of their elderly parents at a time when the children are reaching their 70s and are possibly in need of care themselves."

When I was younger, my aunts and family members would ask me if I'd take care of them and give them money when I grew up. Of course I said yes without hesitation. Now, I am sure that it still holds matter how strained our relationship. Because, unfortunately at is still family. But I cannot see myself living with my parents or anyone else in my family for the majority/the rest of my life. I would absolutely go insane. Another example that adds to my theory that family bonds are disintegrating. 


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Inception-induced dream regarding gorilla suits

I've no idea how exactly the plot of the dream came to be, but here's another one of my epic dreams that I had an hour ago while napping:

I can only vaguely remember the beginning--I couldn't see myself in the dream so it was told in third-person point of view. All I can remember is that there was a cruise ship coasting at twilight (as in between day and night) and on the deck of the ship was an extremely azure pool. Well, the water was really blue anyway. But the sky was a glowing dark blue and the waves were so dark blue that they were almost black.

That part is irrelevant, however, to what I remember consequentially:

Suddenly my dream cuts to an airport terminal. It reminds me of Dulles International Airport a lot. You know, the back of the terminal behind the baggage claim section on level three? Yes, that place. It reminds me of an exact, real memory I had of it--I had come home from Shanghai a year ago in the summer night, around 2 a.m. (yes, my flight was delayed by three hours), and I took note of how eerily quiet, dim and empty the terminal looked. So that exact memory somehow infiltrated my dream. Except, if any of you know what I'm talking about, a chunk of the Lotte supermarket (the food court, to be exact) near my house in real life also implanted itself into the airport terminal in my dream.

So I'm standing near this potted plant, and everyone in my dream (including myself) is wearing winter garb--tweed coats, cashmere and down jackets, etcetera. I was wearing a bulky white vest. I think I was actually wearing an assortment of all-white clothing. But anyway, I was standing next to the potted plant, just looking around the airport terminal as I watched hundreds of people eating in the food court. In the far left of the terminal, an automatic sliding door opens and this gorilla walks in. It is wearing a huge yellow t-shirt/jersey that reminds me of Brazil's futbol jerseys, because there are also two thin green stripes running down the sleeve of the yellow t-shirts. So it walks in unnoticed by everyone except myself. I look at it in horror. In the dream, I know that it is going to kill me/everyone, which I inform my friend "c-dawg" who happened to be standing behind me. Then I scream, immediately, and loudly. Everyone then notices the gorilla and starts panicking. I can't remember if anything happened after that, but my dream cuts to another scene.

There's this long counter where everyone is standing by, and the gorilla has a pistol in its hand, aimed at all of us. It tells us, "Give me $4,000 dollars each and I will let you free." Somehow everyone has received an empty white envelope where we are inherently supposed to put our $4,000 in. I look at my friend, who swiftly takes out a thick wad of blue coupons (they all look identical) and stuffs them into her envelope. In my dream, those coupons represent money. Everyone has coupons--except me. I look at her and say gruffly, "I can't afford $4,000--I don't have it! So I'll kill her [the gorilla]!" because it seems that there is a pile of kitchen knives on the counter in front of every person that couldn't afford the $4,000, myself being one of them. So I looked around me cautiously, making sure the gorilla wasn't looking my way, and chose two knives to stuff into my vest pockets. I tried to make it look inconspicuous because obviously you need to be covert to kill someone, but it wasn't really working considering the knives' handles were sticking out quite obviously. I then attempted to stuff another two knives into each of my pants' front pockets, but gave up on that. I suppose I decided that two knives would be enough to kill the gorilla, even though I was terrified as hell.

Everyone who had their $4,000 prepared then went to put it (the envelopes with the money) into a plastic crate. I think I just put the empty envelope in the crate but managed to pass it off as it being filled with the money-coupons. Then everyone lined up to go through this gateway that reminds me of the security sensor you have to walk through during security checks at airports. The gorilla was actually just a fully-body gorilla suit. A woman replaced its presence (the woman that was wearing the suit the whole time) and she turned out to be a stunningly beautiful (but deranged) femme fatale that was wearing a black/dark purple velvety body-hugging dress--it actually kind of reminds me of Mal/Marion Cotillard's dress in Inception.

But speaking of Inception, a certain song was being broadcasted throughout the speakers of the airport terminal. And I know that song is from the Inception soundtrack because I have it (lol).


The crazy femme fatale then demands that everyone each fill out a letter or something answering a riddle she proposes. I cannot remember what the riddle was or whether I even filled one out, because I was concentrating very hard on deciding when would be the perfect chance to kill her. But then my thoughts were interrupted in the dream when I wondered if she would kill me on the spot if she discovered that I didn't fill out the letter. When I finally approached her after lining up for quite a long time, her eyes immediately bore into mine and something was going to happen but I was woken up to real life by my mother, who said it was time for dinner.

I woke up and attempted to walk but ended up stumbling down the stairs with a raging headache.


Applying the Miranda Dream Theory (which means that the dream is a processing of memories, sights, sounds, etc. that I have recently experienced in real life or memories that have been lingering around my brain):

  1. The cruise ship (in the beginning of the dream) probably appeared because my aunt informed me yesterday night that my cousin and her family were on a cruise.
  2. Setting being Dulles Int'l Airport: well, I've been thinking for the past couple of days about the ending of Inception where Dom Cobb walks through customs and the whole setting is in the airport terminal, which is probably why the setting was an airport terminal. And it was probably Dulles to be exact because I am really familiar with Dulles airport. Plus travel is always on my mind.
  3. Reason for food court being present: well, today at lunch I told my mom about a funny story regarding Friday where I went to see Inception and bought a smoothie at the food court next to it (in Tysons Corner, there's a food court next to AMC theaters), so the food court thought was probably processed in my dream. But I can only conjecture why it was Lotte's food court--because I've seen it more than any other food court.
  4. Gorilla/gorilla suit: I can't say for sure why it turned up in my dream, but these are some theories at to why:
  • Yesterday I asked my aunt if she had seen my red pen anywhere in Cantonese. I had to ask her repeatedly because she wouldn't answer my question, but she finally said (jokingly), "Why are you looking for a red butt? Are you a monkey?" Explanation: "pen" in Cantonese sounds like "butt" in English. So apparently (some) monkeys have red butts. So maybe that's where the gorilla came in--being a type of primate and all...
  • This does not really explain why the gorilla/suit appeared in my dream, but I remember that the mask of the gorilla suit had eye holes and they looked like they were gouged out and it reminds me of this really creepy mask my dad has (it's either a werewolf or a really scary looking gorilla) which he used to scare my cousin and I when we were still little children during Halloween.
5. Christina/C-dawg's appearance in my dream: well, I'd always meant to watch Inception with her, but things never worked out... but since she's associated with Inception, that's probably why she appeared in my dream. She was the only person I could distinctively identify in the dream out of all the hundreds of other people.

6. The blue coupons worth $4,000 dollars:
Right before I went to take my nap, I was looking at tips on using my Canon AE-1 and where to print and scan its film. A website mentioned Costco being a great place that sometimes offers coupons so you can get discounts on the prints. That's probably why coupons were the equivalent of cash in my dream, and considering in reality I was bummed that I didn't have any coupons for Costco, that's probably why I didn't have any coupons in the dream either.

7. Kitchen knives:
The knives I hefted in my dream looked exactly like these knives I was washing when I was at my aunt's house two days ago. I remember (in reality) that I was surprised to see the knives since they were pretty big and I had never seen them around the house before. No doubt my brain processed that into the dream...

8. Femme fatale (that reminded me of Marion Cotillard) beneath the gorilla suit: Well. I don't know. Maybe it's because Marion Cotillard is just that phenomenal.

9. Inception music: I WAS LISTENING TO THE SOUNDTRACK AS I LAY IN BED, and I still had my headphones on even when I woke up, which means I was listening to the soundtrack even as I fell asleep. This is the most profound part (I suppose) because it's pretty much just like how the song "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" by Edith Piaf was heard in the dream world in Inception. (Yes, it's the French song used for the "kick" if you know what I'm talking about.) I can't quite remember which song it was that pervaded my dream, but I definitely know that it was either "Dream is Collapsing" (ironic!) or "Waiting for a Train" because I clearly remember there were blaring horns at the end of the song in my dream. It woudn't be surprising if it were "Waiting For a Train" because that scene in the movie really impacted me and my favorite quote in the entire movie was: "You're waiting for a train - a train that will take you far away. You know where you hope the train will take you, but you can't know for sure. But it doesn't matter--because we'll be together."


Monday, August 9, 2010

First Look: Stefano Tonchi's September 2010 W

First Look: Stefano Tonchi's September 2010 W

"Tonchi plans to keep the usual cadre of W photographers and add a few new faces — the September issue has two Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott portfolios, a Craig McDean portfolio, and a story by Tim Walker, who has never before contributed to W. Terry Richardson was brought back to contribute for the first time in a long time for the August issue. "Paolo Roversi had a fantastic story in the August issue and wants to work for the magazine, so he will again," Tonchi says. "Steven Klein — we have not had a project for him right now, but we may have a good project for him. Juergen Teller — we’re going to work with him again in November, I think . . . In October, we have another Tim Walker story. We are doing something with Platon. Inez and Vinoodh shot this cover and they are going to shoot the next cover. They had a relationship with the old W, but I look forward to working more with them."

Well, I suppose I am quite happy with the lineup of photographers that will be shooting for the upcoming issues of W--that I certainly cannot deny.

As for the new tagline and italicized logo... I'm not too sure. I don't dislike it, but I feel hesitant of letting go of the former logo. You know, there is a sense of loyalty tied to the former W...

I suppose the only thing I can't see eye to eye with is the focus on actresses (even if they're not the most prominent). But oh well.

[fashion] Vogue Italia August 2010 cover/editorial of Kristen McMenamy by Steven Meisel

A couple days ago, I happened to come across Yahoo!'s homepage which featured this article from Yahoo! Shine about Vogue Italia's oil-spill themed editorial featuring model Kristen McMenamy shot by Steven Meisel.

The supposed controversy regarding this editorial has lingered in my head for the past few days, and I've been mentally running through my thoughts. Now is the real deal on what I think of this.

(Image via Fashion Gone Rogue)
I LOVE this editorial. It embodies what every magazine and photographer should aim to produce: an evocative cover that you absolutely cannot stop to look at; an image and theme that will linger in your mind. But this, this is so much more than that. It's ineffable. When I first saw the preview of this editorial from Fashion Gone Rogue, I was immediately drawn to it. No doubt, it was the sole preview that took my breath away.

Now, getting back to the Shine article, which I find extremely irritating...

Firstly, Joanna Douglas doesn't even have her facts right. In the first paragraph, she refers to this cover/editorial as part of the September issue of Vogue Italia. But it's actually the AUGUST issue. This error made me skeptical about her credibility/anything else that she was going to say, but anyway...

According to Joanna Douglas of the Shine staff, "Without question the photographs are beautifully constructed, and overwhelmingly dark. They bring about a sense of urgency that makes you want to educate yourself, donate money, or help in clean up efforts. But we do question the intentions of Italian Vogue, and whether or not they wanted to make a poignant statement or merely hoped to get attention by being provocative."

Well, Douglas, like you said, these photographs "bring about a sense of urgency that makes you want to educate yourself, donate money, or help in clean up efforts." So if that's the case, that is GREAT. I do not see why it is so important that we question the "intentions" of Vogue Italia. The ends justify the means. If these photographs really do instigate a sense of duty in us to contribute an effort in helping with the oil spill (which they do), it doesn't matter whether or not Vogue Italia was aiming for a poignant statement or hoping to get attention. And for heaven's sake--this is a magazine (but so much more than just a magazine, if I may say so)--it's pretty inherent that magazines would want to GET ATTENTION, because who the hell would bother picking one up and actually reading it if it didn't grab your attention?! If magazines did not "hope" to attract attention, then I really must say that this marks the end of the print industry.

And we shouldn't forget that "Water & Oil" was shot by Steven Meisel. Anyone who is going to write something related to fashion magazines should know that this man is one of the most highly-regarded photographers in the fashion industry. And it's not just because he has this star status that I respect him (I wouldn't if that were simply the case). It is that he is daring, innovative, and masterful at shaking the world with his craft: photography. He has shot many remarkably controversial editorials (many of which are some of my all-time favorites), but it's not controversial or striking because they're racy or anything like that--it's because his work makes you think, it opens up your mind and eyes, makes you consider things, evaluate, it moves you, it--words wouldn't do his work much justice coming from me. But you get the point. (If not, I suggest you check out his work.)

The man thinks. He thinks about his work. I don't know him, I've never spoken to him, but I implicitly believe and know that he thinks about his work, and what it does, and how it impacts viewers. He is a thinking artist, whose works have a motive. "Water & Oil," was shot both artistically and meaningfully--it is intense, stunning, eerie, fascinating, provocative, evocative. Clearly we see that the editorial stresses the aftermath of the oil spill.

(Image via Fashion Gone Rogue)

You can see the rest of the photographs from the "Water & Oil" editorial at Fashion Gone Rogue.
Earlier in the night, my aunt asked me if my uncle from my mother’s side of the family ever kept in touch with me. I said no. She said that she thought it was quite strange considering he and my mother were siblings, and thus very close, even up til her death. I said that it didn’t seem strange at all. I mean, I’m not my mother, so why should he bother keeping in touch with me? She then retorted, “Then why do I care about you and your cousin?”

Both my cousin and I lost our mothers and were largely raised by this very aunt, even though we had fathers. It isn’t a wonder why she is the most important and beloved person in my life.
It was 11 p.m. as my aunt lay on the sofa, when she brought up my mother’s last few moments.
She said that even though my mother was comatose, that she could not move or speak or open her eyes, and was nearing her death, it was as if my mother could hear that she was being spoken to—my mother’s hands twitched and tears rolled down her face from her eyes when she heard my aunt reassure her that she would take good care of me.

It was the first time I had heard about this. I was surprised to find a single tear roll down each side of my cheek. It happened so quickly. My father often told me (and he still does, once in a while) about how he promised my mother as she lay in the hospital bed during some of her last moments that I’d become a well-educated woman, but I never cried when he told me about that moment all those times. My aunt’s recollection of my mother’s final days added an even heavier weight on everything I had ever heard about my mother’s final days.

Something struck me deeply. It grieved me that even though my mother was unable to wake up, speak, move or open her eyes, and that she never would wake up…tears formed from her eyes. It turns out that it was not only my father that promised my mother something on my part—to make sure I became a well-educated woman—but also my aunt who promised my mother that she would always take good care of me.
I knew nothing about my aunt’s promise or my mother’s tears when she heard them.
Sometimes a single word will resound in my head bearing an emotion. It’s hard to explain, but it just crashes down on me. As shocking as this may sound, I’ve never felt this strongly about my mother’s death.


After birthing me on June 30, 1994, Tina Shen went into a coma thereafter, passing away on July 29, 1994.
Once in a while, I wonder whether things would have been different if I had never been conceived. I think that life would have definitely taken a different course.

Friday, August 6, 2010

a day of smuggling smoothies, straws, inception, mad dashes for the bathroom

Today was a wonderfully fun-filled day. Too bad I freaking forgot my memory card at home (plugged inside my computer) although I did bring my camera along. That's the one regret I have today; that I wasn't able to photographically document my experiences along with my friends.

During the car ride to Tysons Corner's AMC, I told random funny stories to Ariel (and I suppose the rest of the car listened in) regarding my Taipei experiences. Let's see... I can't remember what I said. I'll ask Ariel to give me a refresher.

Then we went to the food court so Cindy could go grab a bite. Ariel and I had already eaten a bit of lunch before we got picked up, so we decided to go to Coldstone's to buy a drink for ourselves. As I was scanning the smoothies list, Ariel remarked something about the smoothies being '110' something to which I naturally assumed she was speaking about the price range. I found it quite strange, so I immediately said, "REALLY?" She gave the affirmative. I balked at her.

"I thought it says that the Like it size is $5.49!" I exclaimed.

It indeed was $5.49. It was just that Ariel was talking about how many calories the smoothies contained. Miscommunication resolved. Not. Finally, when we got to the cashier to pay for our drinks, the dude naturally assumed I'd be footing both of our tabs. We told him we were paying separately. So then he also got the change mixed up. That was pretty confusing. I had no idea what was going on. After we finally paid for the drinks, I brought up a recap of a McDonald's experience of mine.

It was my first time paying for myself at any form of a store, so when I went up to order and pay, the cashier, a Hispanic lady with a heavy accent, said something about the price but I couldn't distinguish what she was saying, so I said, "What?" about three times. Oh, how mortifying.


After that... we walked over to the movie ticket counter to redeem our AMC coupons. It seems that both Cindy and Ariel also kept their AMC coupon from a birthday party we all went to two years ago. We all somehow decided to use it on this occasion, which was pretty cool. We hadn't even planned on that happening.

Finally, we neared the entrance to the actual movie theater, but I spotted a sign that said "No Food Or Drink Allowed." Ariel and I still had our smoothies, barely touched. I didn't want to was my $5.49 so I started to chug the ice cold smoothie. Ariel seemed to have a little more difficulty finishing off her smoothie. She jokingly demanded that I help her. Cindy said she could help out... so I said, "Aw geez, if only we had extra straws..." to which Cindy responded, "I do! Four, actually." Wow. Funniest thing ever.

Eventually Ariel and Cindy still couldn't finish Ariel's smoothie, so we deliberated whether to throw it away or somehow smuggle it in in her bag. She put it in her bag. The straw was still sticking out. I pointed out that it was really obvious. Eventually I decided to help out by lending her my black sweater, which was hanging around my arms. I ended up subtly wrapping the smoothie up in my black sweater and put it snugly under my arm. Ariel remarked that I looked like I was holding a baby. I laughed. REALLY LOUD. I think she did, too. Eventually Cindy told us all to calm down as we approached the ticket person. I passed through without being stopped.

I'm an experienced spy. I can smuggle smoothies right under my arm into movie theaters.

The whole movie lasted at least 2.5 hours. At the point when Fischer approached the safe in a totally dramatic, cinematic manner, I muttered under my breath, "Geez, can he walk any slower?" Inception was really good. After it was done, I stood up and walked quite awkwardly...because I really needed to pee. Turns out Ariel needed to, too. I told her to walk faster and we cracked up the whole way out the movie theater and into the bathrooms. We left Cindy behind in a hurry, haha! We both admitted we were squirming and shifting uncomfortably the whole time we were watching Inception.

Awkward place to end this post, but those were the highlights of my experiences today.

Oh. I just ate a scoop of ice cream the size of my fist. REGRETS.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

[photograph] when you smile in a family photo...

You know it was taken right. Because the memories it held--you remember them fondly.

Aunt Lily, Aunt Donna, Me
Capitol Hill in the distance

I must admit, I was not the one to take these photographs. It was my cousin's uncle who was visiting with his wife (my cousin's aunt, to the right of me above) that took these photographs with a Leica M8.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

toad + ham & egg sandwich = great start

Sunday, August 1, around 10 a.m.

I was woken up against my will, but I suppose it was not all that bad since I ended up cooking myself a delicious ham and egg sandwich. Mm. I can't remember the last time I actually cooked for breakfast, so it was a good morning in that respect. 

But before that--the whole reason I was woken up by my sister was because she came running into my room yelling at the top of her lungs something along the lines of "A FROG IS ATTACKING!" 

Of course I woke up immediately then (though I was quite groggy) and stumbled down the stairs, following her to the patio at the back of the house.

My aunt pointed at a piece of carpet lying on the patio. She lifted it gingerly, revealing a toad. 

I think toads and frogs are quite cute. I slowly got in front of it, camera in tow, and crouched down. We stared at each other for goodness knows how long. It was quite frightened, because I think I could see its skin quivering to the beat of its heart. Finally, it cautiously turned around and made one hop to its left. 

 I continued to take photographs of it. I wasn't able to get as close to it as I had wanted, but oh well. 

Interesting morning.