Tag Archives: culture

tumblr: Irie man Sherwin, you never told me about your career as a party…

Japanese Party Wig at Daiso

Irie man Sherwin, you never told me about your career as a party wig model in Japan!

Seen at Daiso in Cupertino. I can’t tell if the guy is a light-skinned black guy, a dark-skinned Japanese guy (more likely a Korean or Pilipino model then), or something Blackface-like going on with the makeup. I also can’t tell if it’s racist or not. I just feel like it’s what conservative Japanese businessmen think of as a “crazy party wig” when most of us probably know at least one guy that just looks like that normally.

Or are one of the tons of guys that just looks like that normally.

Posted via tumblr: http://ift.tt/1oSTu9U published on March 24, 2014 at 12:55AM

tumblr: Public Restroom Mirror of Affirmation: An Unfortunate Series of…

Public Restroom Mirror of Affirmation: An Unfortunate Series of Events (a photo essay)

  1. When I got into the office on Monday morning, I was greeted by these Post-It shenanigans on my monitor (and yes, that reads #sorryimnotsorry because even on paper, we use hashtags in Silicon Valley). Nice cheerful start to the morning, right?
  2. Then, I walked into the women’s restroom around noon and found these Post-Its along around the mirror…
  3. “Be your own valentine all year round!”
    (Thinking: Okay, maybe just a stupid thing some sappy girl did for Valentine’s Day…)
  4. “Smile ☺ You Are L♥ved!”
    (Rather than a public restroom, seems like a daily affirmation more appropriate to have on the mirror in your own private home— you know, the one into which you say, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”— but okay, it’s still a nice sentiment…)
  5. “Bring one of these Post-Its to someone who needs it!”
    (Yeah, that’s not going to happen— I don’t do chain letters, even if they’re on Post-Its…)
  6. “Be so happy that when others look at you they become happy too.”
    Okay, now you’re just being unreasonable.

Posted via tumblr: http://ift.tt/1jAw6hq published on February 12, 2014 at 09:20PM

tumblr: Happy New Year All! Too bad I never want to crawl out of this…

Happy New Year All! Too bad I never want to crawl out of this lovely cocoon, bundled up inside one of my favorite blankets I brought back from NY. My grandmother originally brought it with her when she immigrated from Korea— you can maybe make one, but definitely can’t buy a blanket like this in America.

Posted via tumblr: http://sindyjlee.tumblr.com/post/71891023510 published on January 01, 2014 at 02:48PM

tumblr: Because of my carpal tunnel, I usually sleep with wrist splints…

Because of my carpal tunnel, I usually sleep with wrist splints on— plain black with velcro wrap-around closures. However, I forgot to bring them with me and since she had carpal tunnel surgery awhile ago and therefore doesn’t use them anymore, I’ve been borrowing my mom’s wrist splints while visiting home. For some reason, my mom’s wrist splints look like this, which we’ve decided look like:

  1. Some weird Victorian-age lace-up wrist corset contraption,
  2. If black, as if they would fit right into some goth club look,
  3. Or if a darker, more earthier/natural color, something someone would wear to a Renaissance Fair as part of their archer costume (credit this one to Sean).

Whatever— they still do the job 🙂

Posted via tumblr: http://sindyjlee.tumblr.com/post/71527500652 published on December 29, 2013 at 08:22AM

tumblr: One of the best parts of being home: by the time I get up and…

One of the best parts of being home: by the time I get up and come downstairs, my mom has already been up for hours and is ready with a list of breakfast options. This morning- 빈대떡! (Bindaetteok- type of Korean pancake; just Google it…)

Posted via tumblr: http://sindyjlee.tumblr.com/post/71422779750 published on December 28, 2013 at 08:46AM

tumblr: My uncle is quite a talented artist with no formal…

Cigarette Carton Floral

Magic Marker Diptychs

My uncle is quite a talented artist with no formal training— as is often the case, life got in the way of him possibly becoming a professional artist, but still, he often creates amazing drawings like these with the simplest and most inexpensive materials.

For example, the first piece above is around 20+ years old and you can’t really tell from the photo or even when it’s framed and hanging up on the wall unless you get up close, but there are a few horizontal creases because his “canvas” was the blank side of an opened/flattened cigarette carton. I even remember him creating a big, gorgeous watercolor on a cheap paper tablecloth.

The bottom two pieces were from a sketchbook full of drawings my uncle did with just whatever pens/markers were available while he was visiting my parents for a few days (I think to help them fix up the back porch/deck a bit— he’s also got some great carpentry skills).

Rather than try to align them perfectly for a single frame, I’ll probably hang the bottom two as diptychs, but either way, I can’t wait to get home and hang up all three!

Posted via tumblr: http://sindyjlee.tumblr.com/post/71335658801 published on December 27, 2013 at 12:17PM

This is why people hate us

This stupid hoax reminded me of a real incident/interaction with a Google employee:

Back in September, I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Oddball Comedy Festival when it came to the area, specifically at Shoreline Amphitheatre, literally a stone’s throw away from the main Google campus (or headquarters, for grown-ups and/or people outside of tech) in Mountain View. I got to sit back and just focus on laughing for several hours after what has been and continues to be an incredibly difficult year. It was great, point blank, period. (Especially Chris D’elia, whose Comedy Central special recently premiered.)

Afterwards, my friend and I calmly strolled out of the outdoor venue, along with the other 22,000+ people that were there. As we were leaving, I commented to my friend that I was impressed with how orderly and efficiently such a large number of people were emptying out into the parking lot, streets, and other surrounding areas and it reminded me of how New Yorkers made me proud on 9/11 by just starting to calmly walk north as Armageddon was practically unfolding around them. A nearby woman who apparently overheard me turned to me and said, “Well, a lot of us are from Google, so we’re really smart.”

I just ignored it and started walking away from her, pushing through the crowd a bit to hasten the process. About 10 minutes later– during which my friend and I had fallen silent– I turned to my friend to comment on how obnoxious that woman and her comment was and how I couldn’t get it out of my mind now– he concurred. Now, my friend and I are both Stanford alumni, just like the Google founders and an overwhelming percentage of their employees, with him also having been a star NCAA athlete and me having been plenty recruited by Google, but both of us were just disgusted by the whole exchange. We still can’t get it out of brains.

So FYI, to anybody who has ever been lucky enough to be part of any type of “elite” group– this is why people hate us. Stop being assholes about it.

2014-01-07 UPDATE: I realize that potential future employers, including Google, may find this post and other tweets and such where I lament the “tech dude/brogrammer asshole” culture that has become somewhat of an epidemic in Silicon Valley. Whether you’re a recruiter, engineering team manager, or CTO of the hot new startup, if you’re turned off by this post and think I’m being overly negative, then we probably wouldn’t work well together anyway. When you are lucky enough to become part of any “elite” group, there will always be people with a chip on their shoulder for whatever reason and therefore find some excuse to hate on you. However, perpetuating whatever negative perception people already have by intentionally boasting about your elite status and/or even just encouraging a mindset that would result in thinking the above comment is a natural and appropriate thing to say, especially to strangers, is definitely NOT something of which I want to be a part. If you work hard and get the word out while still exercising humility, your work should be able to stand on it’s own– you shouldn’t have to get on a soapbox to tell everyone how great you are. Believe it or not, you can be confident and proud of your accomplishments without being an asshole.

Dark Knight Rises, Colorado Shooting & Violence in Entertainment

I loved The Dark Knight Rises— I thought all 2 hours and 45 minutes of it was gripping and had great twists and turns, surprising even someone like me who has been keeping up with all the pre-release buzz, news and teasers. Overall, it was an excellent finish to an excellent trilogy. (And I hope all the talk about rebooting the series already is just that– talk. Can’t we just take a moment to enjoy the long-awaited arrival of this film?)

However, the recent shooting at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises at a suburban Colorado movie theater raises some interesting questions– and not just about gun control. It’s hardly worth a “spoiler alert” to say the movie contains a lot of violence– if you’ve been paying any attention to all the press for the movie, you’ll know the much-advertised, primary antagonist of the film is the diabolical, masked Bane, one of the most violent, cold-blooded and ruthless villains in the DC universe (and the wonderful Tom Hardy’s portrayal of the character is much truer to the comic book and therefore, much more frightening than the almost farcical version in 1997’s Batman & Robin). As comic book fans know, Bane’s intelligence and cunning only make him that much more terrifying and dangerous– after all, he’s the only man to have “broken the Bat”*. His role in the story and the sheer scale of his nefarious plans up the ante considerably when it comes to violence.

So, there was one particular scene in The Dark Knight Rises where guns are being wildly shot in a crowded place during which I couldn’t help being reminded of the shooting in Colorado (there’s more than one of these scenes in the movie so I can’t even remember which specific one it was– just my immediate reaction). I don’t really subscribe to the much-debated idea that violence in entertainment somehow promotes violence in real life, especially among young people (think video games like Doom and Marilyn Manson being blamed for the 1999 Columbine High School massacre), but those who do often blame and point out the popularity and commercial success of movies like those in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy or, little more than a decade ago, The Matrix films. They say that, in addition to the large amount of it, the way in which that violence in such entertainment is depicted glorifies it and thereby promotes it. For example, Batman may have a strict “no guns, no killing” rule, but certainly those around him don’t always follow that rule, so there’s always plenty of both– and often more. And though Batman isn’t an alien or superhuman– ridiculously athletic, highly trained, and combat clever as hell, but still just a “normal” human being– he’s still kicking a lot of ass and taking a lot of names. After all, despite their efforts at diplomacy (how many times have we seen the “Superman achieves global nuclear disarmament” storyline?) and the admittedly key ability to outwit their opponents, superheroes ultimately win through the use of physical force– not non-violent protests, marches, or civil disobedience. And in the end, watching superheroes like Batman– the very definition of the “good guys”– beat up a bunch of bad guys is incredibly violent, but also incredibly satisfying (hello, they’re the bad guys?!) so there is certainly some glorification in that.

But long before there were riveting “Army of One” commercials, even before someone hit someone else for the first time so they could steal the Coke bottle to mash up their vegetables, humans have been telling fantastic tales of battles, wars, and ultimately, warriors– both fictional and real. And while violence continues to exist as part of the human condition, we will need warriors– in fact, heroes– to meet those challenges to not just protect themselves, but those around them as well. They fight so we don’t have to and certainly, there is and should be glory in that and those stories should be told, including on the screen. Of course, not every movie is so cut and dry on X being good, Y being bad, and therefore, standing on moral high ground when it comes to X having to beat the crap out of Y, not to mention all the collateral damage. And of course, with media, a lot of it has to do with context and tone: do we see at least some of the ugly, bloody, grotesque side of violence or do people bounce back like cartoon characters? Is the music– or any music at all– appropriate for what’s happening on screen? A violent rape is graphically depicted in the 2002 French film Irréversible, but I don’t think anybody who has seen it– and it is so powerful that many cannot tolerate just watching it– would say the act is in any way glorified. Even in comedy, violence can be put into a context in which we know not to take it as seriously, that we don’t have to be realistic here because the entire situation is absurd.

I suppose the real question is whether highly increased, repeated exposure to such violence in media– all of it or just the stuff you think glorify it– desensitizes us, especially people like teenagers who are either too young or otherwise so impressionable that they become swept up in romanticized depictions of violence and suddenly, moral high ground isn’t so important anymore. How exciting was it to watch Neo and Trinity blow that building and those Agents to pieces to rescue the beloved Morpheus? Yes, even in the fictional sense, they didn’t really do that since they were in the Matrix and nobody really died because those Agents were just computer programs, but that kind of goes along with my point, right? Such key plot points allow us to justify and reconcile such violence by “good” people. So, if we consume more and more of such violent media, does that subconsciously encourage us to lose touch with the horrifying reality and consequences of such events, thereby, if not promoting, at least justifying and distancing ourselves from the reality of more and more violence?

Yet, as I watched The Dark Knight Rises, rather than distancing myself from it, I felt like the realism provided by the high quality of the production intensified the seriousness and impact of what we were seeing. Perhaps more than any news coverage short of actual footage of the shooting could, the added drama created through movie magic somehow makes up for the fact that you’ve temporarily suspended your disbelief. You know it’s just a movie, but what you’re seeing is such a well-made dramatization that the terror of such a moment is really driven home and has the added benefit of not requiring the exploitative and tasteless showing/viewing of the tragic and ugly deaths of real people. Essentially, just the news of the shooting still fresh in my mind changed my visceral reaction to seeing the fictional presentation of a similar event– while I might have been more apathetic or, for the most part, unaffected by such a scene before, the experience and perhaps my outlook on such violence were fundamentally changed, much like how most of us felt and perhaps still feel about anything related to airplane/air travel safety and terrorism in the wake of 9/11 (think how sensitive Americans were about just seeing or not seeing the Twin Towers in the New York City skyline in movies released shortly after the attacks).

In the end, it’s a bit of a “chicken or the egg” problem– does watching “glossy” depictions of violence in popular entertainment and media promote violence in real life? Or do such realistic and/or dramatic depictions discourage such violent acts by giving us a “harmless” way to experience the severity and horror of such events? Considering all those “bombs bursting in air” in the lyrics to our national anthem alone, from music (in addition to the obvious, think lyrics to the popular French-Canadian children’s song “Alouette”) to movies, from books to TV (they get away with showing some truly sick stuff in countless police procedural and “true crime” shows), from Internet videos to even commercials (think the heavy amount of cartoonish violence in Super Bowl commercials), one thing is certain: depictions of violence are an essential part of the human art of storytelling. While some may like to think of violence in entertainment and media as something new– an unfortunate sign of modern times– we’ve actually been riding this cycle of violence from the very beginnings of human history and culture.


* On the name “Bane”: the film’s timing provides a nice little accent to the amusing coincidence that the character’s name is a homophone of Bain Capital, the frequently mentioned center of the Romney news story that just won’t die– with a pre-emptive apology for the pun, some might say one of the “banes” of the Romney campaign.