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Sipping Stars and Finding Soul

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Happy 2017 to my readers!

How many of you have heard music playing in coffee shops, pulled out your fancy smartphones, and used an app to determine the song playing? I’ve done it many times so I can hunt down the full song on YouTube or another platform for listening to the whole tune.

A quick stop into Starbucks this afternoon led me to hear the chorus for this gem, which resulted in a look up via SoundCloud to find the title for later.

A short snippet of piano hooks you in, later used as a foundation melody repeated in the background as more instruments build on it into the chorus. Instantly this small hook transported my mind to a smoky, seedy bar with neon lights flickering in the window with a handful of patrons – mostly locals. (Fitting as the first verse muses if the singer’s ex lover is out drinking and possibly free to hear her out one more time.)

The haunting vocals crooning this song of failed relationships and reminiscing about the good times belongs to fresh-faced LÉON, who hails from Stockholm, Sweden. In addition to this single, she has an EP titled Treasure out now and a full album on the way.

The combination of her delivery and instrumental music is refreshing for me in an era of electronica, fast-paced music, and heavy synthesizers. Something tells me that her star is going to grow brighter in the near future…

Flash! They’re Gone or Are They?

Remember when people were crazy about flash sale sites? I’m talking about Gilt, Hautelook, Beyond the Rack – did you ever shop from there? Why were they so hot back then?

Yes, I used a past tense for that last sentence. While the sites haven’t been shut down, many of them have changed ownership, now being bought out by bigger companies and merging with existing store discount initiatives. Hautelook being bought out by Nordstroms, now lumped with Nordstroms Rack easily comes to mind when one thinks about the fate of flash sale sites. Now Saks Fifth Avenue is looking to make Gilt their version of Hautelook to rival Nordstroms.

Going back to the question of why flash sites were the cheese to someone’s macaroni for sometime, I suspect a lot of it had to do with the thrill. It’s no secret that the goal of many retail stores, whether it be clothing or home decor want people to spend money at the end of their visit. Sales are alluring to many who don’t want to pay full price, especially if there’s the threat of a store being out of your size.

Video posted by Tucker Michaels

This old Gilt ad illustrates it very well – two shoppers eye an item, but there’s only one in their size. It’s down to speed and luck to secure the coveted item they want before someone else snags it. Many times we buy things because we convince ourselves “It’s my size”, “It’s on sale”, or “If I don’t get it, I’m gonna regret it.” Making shoppers fight to get the items they want heightens the thrill of shopping, in some cases it results in buyer’s remorse.

Years later, people aren’t willing to fight it out anymore or they are simply interested in different stores and brands, especially if there is an easy return policy. Sometimes it just makes more sense to drive to the closest store, return what you’re not keeping, and call it a day, versus packing the item up and paying return shipping in some cases.

While all of these flash sites hearkened to the budding trend of people preferring to shop online, it appears that many of them couldn’t adapt on their own to meet new demands from online shoppers. After all, while it can be fun getting a great deal, the return policy and process can look more like a hassle if its shipping returns only.

From Eating Utensils to the Building Blocks for Art

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Are you a master at using chopsticks? Sadly I would consider myself a beginner – I have the basic technique for holding them down but its putting it in motion to pick up food that is the challenge. (Especially without trying to cross the chopsticks while picking something up!)

While taking something small to make something bigger isn’t a new concept, Malaysian artist Hong Yi has transformed the traditional eating utensil into a hanging portrait of Jackie Chan. 64,000 chopsticks were used to create the piece. In addition to Jackie Chan, the artist has replicated several likenesses of other famous Western and Eastern celebrities in chopsticks.

Animated Traditions

I’ll admit watching the Charlie Brown specials is kind of tradition in my family. The Christmas one is the favorite in the family but I’ve always loved the catchy tune in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

I felt bad for Snoopy who has to struggle with the beach chair just to get it to open properly.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Some Laughs for Monday

Maybe I’m a little biased but I sense this one is going to be a great one. I was lucky to see the clip used in this trailer at D23 and everyone couldn’t stop laughing.

The creators behind Zootopia studied animals and their behaviors before assigning them roles in the fictional world of the film. I think its safe to say that they hit the nail on the head by choosing sloths for the DMV.

Because haven’t we all experienced frustrations while visiting the DMV?

Live or Recording?

Do many of you attend music concerts? Are you a frequent attendee or is it occasionally?

Sad to say I’ve only attended 2 concerts – one for the classical strings trio The Ahn Trio and the other a fair concert for the Jonas Brothers before their second CD came out. I did notice that true to the recordings, these musicians were able to perform their songs without needing to lip-sync or sounding vastly different from the recorded tracks. I always thought it was great seeing people in concert if they could match the quality of sound and music I heard on the recording.

Of course, there’s always the other end of the spectrum. It feels like many musicians these days prefer to use some kind of aid or tuner to help, which is apparent if they sing live and it sounds completely different. Am I disappointed when that happens? Yes.

Even with videos of live performances, one has to question if the musician is truly singing on their own or if they’re using something to help their voice sound closer to the original track.

For example, I’m about 99% this is all Weird Al singing in this video. Take a look and make your own choice.

Is it Good Enough?

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Before the dating sites and multiple methods of communication via technology, people have always been drawn to others, the initial interest stemming from physical appearance. It’s a known fact that most people are visual driven and something that looks pretty/interesting/appealing/etc. tends to catch their eye, making them want to dig deeper to learn more.

A recent article that surfaced on the Internet tested an age old question of whether too much make-up is a turn off to guys or sends the wrong messages. The author concluded that while she didn’t receive a negative response to her more heavily made-up face, she did call out the fact that her potential suitors were more interested in checking her out because of her pretty face. A stark contrast to the ones who responded to her when she sported no make-up and instead wanted to discuss her interests and befriend her, rather than ask for a one time hookup.

Reading the article reminded me of the song Looks are Everything by Rose Falcon. The singer talks about trying various things to become the perfect girl one sees in ads and billboards but fails, eventually concluding how it all seems so backwards.

To me, its interesting to look back at old magazines from my teen years where they talked to real guys and celebrities, asking what turns them off. Makeup came up as a popular one but its interesting to see how some have come to associate it as a girl who is trying to hide something or someone who exudes a confidence and maybe a wild streak that makes them want to pursue her for a night.

Where do I fit in? I’ve been told countless times that I look like I’m in my mid-teens when I don’t sport a bit of makeup. Even when I have worn a natural/light face, many still mistake me for a younger age. I find that I’m neutral about makeup – while I like wearing a bit to look a little more polished, its harder for me to like looking at myself with something heavier like liner and prominent colored shadows without cringing a little and saying it’s too much.

Will this fascination of ‘looks are everything’ go away? Probably not. Is it worth dwelling on? Not necessarily.