Thursday, August 16, 2018

All The Things I Loved About Crazy Rich Asians

*An overwhelming sense of Asian American pride you'll get from watching the film if you're Asian American
*Seeing white people watch the film and actually caring about your story
*How badass the opening scene is
*Ronny Chieng from The Daily Show as Edison Cheng
*Henry Golding and Constance Wu in the wedding scene
*The feels
*All the hot Asian men
*Astrid Leong (my favorite character from the books) & Gemma Chan
*Again, the overwhelming sense of pride you'll get from watching it if you're Asian
*Just how beautiful the film is
*The last scene in the end credits and its hinting of a sequel
*Oh I forgot about Kina Grannis' surprise appearance as the wedding singer!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Beyoncé and a Lesson on Accessibility: OTR II Review

On July 27, I went to see Beyoncé and Jay-Z on their OTR II tour at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. I thought about buying tickets when the tour was announced but wasn’t convinced until I saw Beyoncé perform at Coachella. I also didn’t want to go alone, but after Coachella, I had to go, so I bought a ticket for my sister as well. It was only fair since she bought my Reputation ticket.

Because of my moderately low income, I bought the cheapest tickets available. I don’t have a choice. This has been my strategy since I started buying any type of ticket. As a result, I fail to ignore the location of the seat in relation to the stage for concert tickets and the departure times for airplane tickets, which has caused some stress in the past, but when I bought my OTR tickets, I thought I did good: “$50 for Beyoncé AND Jay-Z?! What a steal!” Little did I know, how much these billionaires had swindled me because my seats, for lack of a better word, sucked.

Two weeks earlier at the Taylor Swift concert, my sister and I had scouted our OTR II seats and thought they would be nicer than our Reputation seats because well, we’d actually get a seat, as opposed to standing room only.

As a result, we were in positive spirits when we sat in our seats for OTR. We were even closer to the stage than last time. That all changed when opening acts, Chloe x Halle came on, and we couldn’t understand a word they were saying, which was really disappointing because I think they’re really talented and wanted to hear their music. Yet, my sister and I were still optimistic: “Okay, maybe their sound engineers just suck, but Beyoncé and Jay-Z, they’re experienced veterans, so they’re going to sound awesome.” We were wrong because I couldn’t understand a word Jay-Z said throughout the entire concert. I only understood Beyoncé because I was more familiar with her songs (I thought Jay would sing more songs from his most recent album, 4:44, which was the only album I had listened of his, but he only sung “The Story of OJ” from it. They also didn’t sing any songs from Everything is Love except for “Apeshit”).

We couldn’t understand anything because all the speakers were frontwards facing, and according to my sister, sound waves travel in straight lines, so our positioning for Taylor Swift, while farther, was better because we were facing the stage.

To make matters even worse, we couldn’t even enjoy the visual show because we couldn’t see anything. We didn’t see them enter the stage because they entered at the center of the stage, which was blocked off by the screens, which were also all frontward facing and partially covered by speakers. As a result, we didn’t even get a clear look of the exclusive images of the Carter family during Beyoncé’s performance of “Perfect” (My favorite moment of the night even though I could never love a man the way Beyoncé loves Jay-Z. I also enjoyed “****** in Paris” and “Apeshit” aka the Jay-Z songs I was familiar with. Everything else I couldn't understand or I had already seen from Coachella i.e. it wasn’t anything new).

Taylor Swift’s screens were curved for those on the flanks of the stadium (see below).

Alas, my sister and I weren’t the only disappointed ones at FedEx Field on July 27. Our whole section was silent for the majority of the night. The party next to us even left before the concert was over. I had wanted to get there early so we could see the opening acts and get the most of our $50 tickets, but the whole experience was a bust.

Together, Beyoncé and Jay-Z are worth a billion dollars. There is no reason why they can’t afford to make their stages, screens, and speakers curved so everyone in attendance can hear and see. This is what accessibility is: providing an equitable experience for all. If celebrities really cared about their fans, then they would do this, but all they care about is maximizing their profits, so they can provide better lives for themselves, not us. Otherwise, why would bad concert seats exist? They don’t care about us, which is why we need to stop worshipping them. While we may not have the same talents as Beyoncé and Jay-Z, we have the same capability to improve ourselves and make the world a better place for others. That’s the message I took from this concert: how to make the world a more equitable and accessible place for all.

TL;DR: OTR II sucked. We couldn’t hear or see anything, and they didn’t even play any new songs. Celebrities are cancelled because they have the money to do something about this inaccessibility, yet they choose not to. Also, if these artists really cared about us, then they would end their concerts before public transportation stops running, so everyone can get home in a safe and timely manner, but they don’t, so we try not get trampled as we fight for a spot on the last Metro [1] and wait two hours to haul an affordable Uber home. [2]

[1] OTR II was on the weekend so the Metro was still open when the concert ended.

[2] Taylor Swift’s concert was on a Tuesday so the Metro was closed when the concert ended. The whole transportation situation was a mess. First, we had no idea what direction the Uber pick up zone was. Once we eventually got to the pick up zone, we had to wait at least two hours for the surge to go down from $80 to its normal price of $15. Then, the stadium staff wanted the Uber drivers to park and then call their customers, but this was not clearly communicated, as the drivers wanted us to meet them where they were in the pick up line. As a result, there was a lot of yelling and annoyance. Thankfully, our Uber driver wasn’t difficult and getting a ride home was the only blip in our Reputation experience. I wish I could say the same thing about our OTR II experience.

P.S. Jay-Z wore a headband. It was cute.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

I Wore a Push Up Bra for 7 Days

My mind was awakened the day my friend Michelle went braless for an empire waist dress with a fitted bust.

Since that fateful moment two years ago, I’ve stopped wearing bras unless it was absolutely necessary to conceal my nipples. I’ve also abandoned my push up bras after realizing how much they cater to the patriarchy.

In the last year, I’ve essentially only worn three bras, which I would cycle through the week and wash every six months if I could even quantify it as such: a nude unpadded Hanes bra, which I stole from my mom because it was so comfortable, an old white Victoria’s Secret bra, and a more padded nude bra for when I want to feel “more feminine.”

I was wearing that bra when I humored my aunt and let her buy me something at Victoria’s Secret’s Semi-Annual Sale. Upon seeing the bra I was wearing in the dressing room-after I lazily asked why we had to try on the bras if I knew they were going to fit based on my size-she made me promise I would trash it.

It was like a real life episode of What Not to Wear, where I told her I wear whatever's comfortable: why wear a bra when I don’t have to? On this day, I happened to be wearing one because my shirt was thin. Otherwise, I see no purpose in bras other than to hide nipples and use them to make my boobs look bigger in order to attract men.

My aunt didn’t buy any of this, but I begrudgingly accepted because I’d be stupid not to accept two free Victoria’s Secret bras and because I had to admit, I did have a posture problem. Somehow, my aunt convinced me that wearing a push up bra would fix it. What better way to test this theory than to wear push up bras for a whole week. Plus, I promised my aunt I would wear the bras-otherwise she wouldn’t have bought them for me.

Day 1:

To start the challenge, I chose to wear my favorite, old mint Victoria’s Secret bra with lace details on the straps and bands, which I scored for only $15. However, I stopped wearing it because it was too pretty to wear, and I had nowhere pretty to go. Additionally, my lazy habits had caused it to become dirty, as I just threw it into the wash with all of my other clothes. To prevent it from becoming even dirtier, I stopped wearing it.

I felt my posture improve, and my heavy bag felt lighter than normal as I walked into work. Was it actually the bra’s magical work or the heightened focus on my posture? I didn’t have an answer at the end of the day, but I did successfully separate my pretty and everyday push up bras when I got home.

Day 2:

Suffering from the guilt of wearing a pretty push up bra to work the day before, I opted for a more everyday nude push up bra from Rue21. This was a newer bra I hadn’t really worn. I quickly remembered why: it’s too big for me. Another reason why I stopped wearing push up bras was because of the boob to push up bra gap. I didn’t like the idea of faking big boobs with air essentially.

Most push up bras don’t fit people with small boobs, even though these are the people who would benefit from them the most. Victoria’s Secret has done the best at catering to the itty-bitty titty crowd in my personal experience. The only positive from this new bra was the intact straps. At the end of the day, I decided to remove it from my closet. With two new better-fitting options, there was no reason to keep this one around. I now see the value of trying on bras and not buying them blindly simply because they’re in your size, especially when you’re trying a new brand.

Day 3:

Back to Victoria’s Secret, as a pink everyday t-shirt bra was appropriate for this day off from work. However, it seemed stupid for me to wear a bra at home under a t-shirt that completely hides my nipples. Nevertheless, I had to complete the challenge, so I re-adjusted the loose straps on my bra and sucked it up. I ended up taking a nap with the bra on, taking a shower, and putting it back on in order to film a video. Bras were never uncomfortable to me; I was just too lazy to wear one, especially when I didn’t have to. Although I do have to admit that it felt good to finally take it off. I also have to acknowledge that my figure did look better with a bra on.

Day 4:

Today, I wore the first push up bra I ever got: a hot pink and sequined 21st birthday gift from my friend Julie. I wanted to wear a pretty white lace bra, another new one from Rue21, but the straps were too short and the boob to bra gap wide. The nude one and this white one are from my mom, who bought them for me without realizing that not all 32As are created equal.

Both of my options were too pretty to wear on yet another regular day, but I was out of non-pretty push up bras. I still had my neon green extra push up bra, which I bought after my introduction to push ups, but it smelled and looked dirty, so I hand washed it with my two new bras: another reason why I stopped wearing bras; I thought they were such a hassle to wash. I was wrong though because I actually enjoyed hand washing them today. It was the first time in almost two years I hand washed something, and it was nice: I cleaned the bathroom sink, filled it with water and detergent, and Voila! Magic.

It’s a good thing I appreciate hand washing clothes now because the bra smelled after a day of cooking, washing dishes, moving and taking apart furniture as well as months without a wash. It was definitely too nice of a bra to wear with the same t-shirt I wore yesterday as well as do chores in, but it’s a good thing I did because otherwise, it would have never made it to the hamper.

Day 5:

I opted for the neon green extra push up bra from yesterday’s wash to match my teal Phofest shirt. Despite it being an extra push up bra, it was pretty comfy with only a narrow boob to bra gap. Good job, Charlotte Russe. Even though I just washed it, it smells bad again because I sweated simply from driving to the bank and the store. Posture update: it’s still pretty pathetic, so there goes my hypothesis.

Day 6:

I finally got into the new bras. I chose the soft pink one first because I love the double strap design and color. The second pair of straps are black with “Victoria’s Secret” printed in white. It is the first front-clasp bra I own. As a result, I had to drastically adjust the straps to get it to fit right. Do I just have an extra long torso or something?

My boobs definitely felt nice with the bra on, but I sweated just from going outside and moving my car. This is why I don’t wear bras if I don’t have to: I don’t want the extra laundry.

Day 7:

After yet another day from sweating, I was definitely over it because I didn’t put on a bra until 4:00 p.m., and I only did it because someone was coming to check out my coffee table. I probably should have done this challenge on days when I actually had to leave the house, but this new black one has a lattice racer back, so it’s definitely a more sporty and casual push up, perfect for days like this.

Bonus Day:

I had one non-strapless push up bra left and a day at work, so I wore it and lived to tell the tale of the Cosmopolitan black and pink embroidered push up bra with a front bow detail that makes boys think I have a B cup. The Victoria’s Secret sales associate who measured me when I was with my aunt also thought I was a B cup, so it’s not just boys who are clueless about bras and boobs. I knew the nude bra made me bustier. This black one makes me bustier because it is so friggin’ tight. As a result, my posture was slightly better because I had to stand and sit straight to keep the bra from suffocating me. It became more uncomfortable when I came home and started slouching. In the end, I was glad to rid my body of it and end my experiment.

I set on this challenge hoping to change my mind about bras and improve my posture, but the hot summer heat only made me want to wear less clothing. Push up bras do help me fill out my clothes and look more presentable like my aunt said it would, but I still haven’t found a good reason to start caring about my looks again other than to impress a man. Yes, I feel beautiful when I’m wearing a push up bra because they are undeniably cute, but I also feel beautiful when I’m not wearing one, and that’s what matters the most.

Femininity has a new meaning now, and it doesn’t have to include push up bras. Women want equal rights, and we’re going to get it without pushing our boobs together. Push up bra? Nah, I prefer pushing up the glass ceiling, but thanks, now I'll look damn good while doing it. I think I found my reason again.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Final Howl to Be Vegan

Happy new year, everyone: I'm writing this post to tell you guys that I've decided to leave Howl to Be Vegan behind in 2017 because I think my goal of showing the affordability and diversity of vegan food has been accomplished.

I hope you've learned that vegans eat more than salads. I don't even know the last time I ate a salad. There's so much edible plant foods the majority of the population haven't eaten tried. This is a great quote from Eating Animals, which I mention below: "Americans choose to eat less than .25% of the known edible food on the planet." Hopefully through this series you've been introduced to more foods like bottle gourd and colocasia gigantea, and hopefully I've dispelled the myth that eating vegan is costly. Yes, you can get a burger for $1 at McDonald's, but you can also get rice, potatoes, and beans for dirt cheap when you divide the costs per meal. Gary Yourofsky explains it perfectly in this video: (except I actually liked the taste of McDonald's). I'm paraphrasing, but "The same shit [but vegan] can be found at Taco Bell."

I'm also ending the series for selfish reasons because recording and documenting what I eat isn't really my forte. There are people who love doing this, but I'm not one of them. Nevertheless, you can continue keeping track of my restaurant reviews on my Yelp:

Additionally, once you know a few recipes, you can start repeating the same ones over and over again, which is totally fine. You should eat what you like, so ultimately it comes down to your preferences. One of Jenn Im's weight loss tips is to find the "healthy foods" you like and stick with it: you don't have to eat brussel sprouts if you don't like them. There are so many other vegetables for you to try. For example, I learned last year that I'm not really a fan of butternut squash unless they're pureed into a ravioli or something lol

If you want to continue hearing about my vegan experience, I have a playlist on Youtube called "My Vegan Journey," which I update with my own videos and videos from others that have helped me on my "vegan journey." There are so many great Youtubers you can learn from. One of my favorites right now is That Vegan Couple. They do a lot of response videos, and they're honestly so sassy: I love it.

Additionally, there are so many amazing vegan cookbooks, documentaries, and books you can use as resources. I recently received Chloe's Kitchen as a Christmas gift and watched What the Health and Forks Over Knives. If you find What the Health to be sensationalist, then I suggest Forks Over Knives. They're both available on Netflix. Some books I've read but haven't advertised on my social include Proteinaholic, Eating Animals, and How Not to Die. I didn't publicize them because I weren't big fans of them, but you might enjoy them. The one book I do recommend is The China Study, which I did post about on my Instagram, so make sure you follow me @justcallmechl_oe to see the latest.

This is not the end of my "vegan activism" if you want to call it that-it's just not very practical for me to record everything I eat - good and bad (because vegan food like all foods has the good and the bad). I like to enjoy my food in the moment and not think about how I want to present it to my followers - just because I didn't record it, doesn't mean it wasn't delicious. I have hope that you will find vegan food accessible, affordable, and enjoyable without my continued guidance, but if you need that extra push, follow my sister @luus_thebeef if you haven't already done so. Trust me, she's so much better at this than I am.