• Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • RSS Feed

06 November 2014

Ballroom milestones

The ultimate milestone would be to dance like these two!

Competitive ballroom dancing, being quite a structured activity, has a natural progression about it. Dancers getting into this hobby experience many of the same breakthroughs or turning points in their careers. I was thinking about some of my own recent milestones and remembered all the steps that came before, and how they each gave me a sense of accomplishment that I was actually progressing and improving. Here are some big ones that most collegiate dancers will have to look forward to, in the rough order that I experienced them:

1. Your first pair of shoes
You most likely don't really know what you're looking for and without some able guidance, you might pick something weird or ill fitting, but yes! It's your first pair of real dance shoes! They're so shiny! (One practice later...) Omg they are all dirty already. =(
*Newcomers, please note: It is a BAD idea to buy 3" Latin sandals as your first pair of shoes, even if you are used to walking in high heels. Trust me, proper Latin technique is not quite the same as walking. Stick to 2-2.5"! 

2. Your first competition
Chances are that you're not 100% sure of what you're doing or what's going on, and you are a bundle of nerves and excitement. Nothing quite like the thrill of competition! You're in awe of all the higher level dancers and motivated to improve.

3. Your first final 
Some lucky people make finals very early on, and for some other dancers it takes a bit longer to get the hang of this whole ballroom dancing thing. Have no fear - in ballroom dancing, discipline and hard work can often trump natural talent. One of my favorite aspects of ballroom is that anyone can learn how to dance, and dance well. Hard work makes that first ribbon all the more glorious.

4. Breaking into silver
When you advance into the silver category, you are officially not a beginner anymore. You have an understanding of basic timing and how figures go together. You begin to focus on improving technique and exploring more complicated figures.

5. Your first private lesson
You're ready to move from figure-based group classes to more personalized and focused training. (Hold onto your hats, people, it only gets more expensive from here.) But with the help of your coach, you'll improve quickly and with a sound structure.

6. Your first costume
Time to kick it up a notch for competition and feel all legit and stuff in those snazzy Latin pants or shiny dress. Gone are the days of trying to find something off the rack that will be appropriate. Once you start competing in a costume, you pretty much don't go back. Feel like a real dancer yet?

7. Breaking up with your first real partner
...and the subsequent partner search. Breaking up is hard to do, but partners who stay together for more than a couple years tend to be the exception, not the rule. Life happens. If you've considered options thoroughly and it's not gonna work, it's better off for both parties to end it and move on. Cherish your first real partnership and the things you achieved together, and make sure to go forward with the lessons you learned from your partner. Coming out of each partnership, you learn a lot about what works for you, what you're willing to put up with, and what you're not willing to compromise on.

8. Breaking into open 
This is the big one. Finishing syllabus and starting to dance in the open categories signifies that you've made it to the major leagues. Now you get to explore your dance 'personality' through unique choreography and styling. The gap between gold and novice/pre-champ is usually pretty big, so you'll need to work that much harder to make those callbacks and wrangle a spot in the final. Getting to open comes along with a whole host of other little milestones too - more about that in a later post.

There are a couple little milestones along the way too, like getting your first tan or maybe getting your hair/makeup professionally for the first time. Or maybe stoning your own dress (and having it come out badly...that might just be me.) Another good one might be feeling comfortable social dancing for the first time. Oh! and starting to follow the professional circuit, i.e. learning all the pros' names. I also just had a dress made for myself for the first time so I'm excited to write about that soon.

What are your favorite ballroom milestones?

28 October 2014

If I could redo college

I've spent a lot of time recently reflecting on my college experience and how it's affected my life in the couple of years since I've graduated. I went to NYU, so from the beginning it was always going to be a less conventional path. The lack of a campus contributes to the lack of school spirit and fuzzy feelings of connectedness. At a school like that, you really have to make an effort to make friends because everyone is pretty scattered and off doing their own cool New York-y things.

Deciding to attend NYU, to my high school senior self, was basically deciding to focus my entire college career on professional development. I think I figured since I wasn't going to have the typical college experience anyway, I might as well put my all into getting internships so I could get a jumpstart on my career and land a perfect job in the film industry after graduation. So that's what I did. I prioritized getting as many different internships as possible, switching to a new company nearly every semester. I also took a full course load and had a work study job for 8-10 hours/week. As you can imagine, I was left with very little free time. And for all the emphasis I placed on internships, I didn't really know how to network (which at the time I equated with 'small talk' - I am horrible at that). So while I learned a bit about how to do 'intern work', I never really took advantage of the most valuable aspect of interning, which is connecting with professionals who are already working in the field. Now that I'm out of school and have some perspective from the workforce, I realize how much your network matters. I always figured that I could work hard and get recognized for it, which did happen sometimes, but I didn't realize that you then have to follow up with those people and create a further connection.

When I look back on what my life was like in college, it was basically a lot of running around between engagements, busting my butt doing unpaid internships, and finishing papers at all hours of the day and night. Those times were a world away from my favorite parts of college, which were study abroad and ballroom - i.e. when I was actually interacting with peers. So if I could redo college, here are the things I would consider:

1. I would seriously think about attending a different school. 
And that's not to say I blame NYU (though it has its share of issues), I just mean that putting myself in a more traditional college environment might have given me some of the things I now wish I had.

2. I would take my liberal arts education more seriously, 
either by majoring, double-majoring, or minoring in something like history or East Asian studies, etc. My media/communications major was more engaging and academic than I thought it would be, but ultimately a strong liberal arts education is the foundation for being an educated, thoughtful citizen of the world. I wish I understood more about politics and economics, things like that. (Though it's never too late to learn!)

3. I would get involved with more kinds of campus activities. 
I focused a lot of my 'extracurricular' time on professional interests, but I wish I had started competing with the ballroom team earlier, or joined a more tight-knit cultural club. College is such an amazing and important opportunity to make friends...it's pretty hard to meet people in the same way after college.

4. I would do fewer internships, and focus on longer stays at smaller companies.
This goes back to the networking thing. For an introvert like me who was hoping to forge my way forward with a good work ethic, the best environment I could have done that in would be a small company where each person has more responsibility and more visibility. Having one or two big/well-known companies on your resume is important, too, but I think getting to know colleagues and supervisors at smaller organizations would have been more helpful to my career.

Those are pretty much the big things that have been on my mind. For better or worse though, things have shaken out as they have shaken out..now it's up to me to forge onward with the lessons I've learned.

26 September 2014

Movie Review: Hector and the Search for Happiness


I have never laughed harder at a trailer than I did for Hector and the Search for Happiness. The trailer popped up before Boyhood at the movie theater, and I immediately knew I had to see it. Come on, that China gong/platter bit? At first I was all, "....are they really doing this...?" then I could not stop cracking up when I realized what had happened.

Undeterred by its mediocre-to-bad reviews from its UK release that resulted in a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, we headed to the movie theater on Saturday afternoon. There's no way that movie could be that bad from such a funny trailer. Granted, with a logline like this, it is pretty easy to stray into Clicheland - specifically in the Eat, Pray, Love neighborhood (which, for the record, I don't hate). The premise of the movie, based on a French book, is that Hector (the amazing Simon Pegg, who gets to show some of his dramatic acting chops) leads a ho-hum life as a psychiatrist in London with his gorgeous girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike). One day he realizes he's not actually helping his patients or contributing anything to their lives, and sets out to 'find out what makes people happy' by traveling around the world. Perhaps a particularly relevant subject matter for me as I'm in a minor quarter life crisis at the moment, but that's a topic for another day.

And I would, indeed, be more generous than a review aggregator for this movie, and score in the 65% range. It's not completely life-changing in the, "oh my god, I have to go to volunteer at a medical clinic in Africa" way, but it was a nice way to spend an afternoon. It got a few laughs out of me, and even almost some tears - two pretty uncommon reactions from me.

The movie benefits from a great cast with the likes of Stellan Skarsgard, Toni Collette, and Christopher Plummer, and the inherent visual interest of a hand full of exotic locales like Shanghai, Tibet, and Africa. Two of the standout scenes both took place on planes. The first is when Hector first meets Stellan Skarsgard's character (I am a big fan of the Skarsgard family), a filthy rich banker named Edward. The second is when Hector helps a terminal cancer patient become more comfortable on her last plane ride. The 'China gong moment', as I've dubbed it, unfortunately works a lot better in the trailer, but maybe it was because I was already expecting it.

Hector gets bogged down at some crucial moments in its heavy-handedness though. His realization that his young Chinese lady companion was actually a prostitute was so disappointingly overdone. Did she really need to be dragged away kicking and screaming by her pimp? Skipping ahead to the ending, another way overdone scene is when Hector is on the phone with Clara while Christopher Plummer and Toni Collette are observing his emotions on the brain monitor thing. It kind of felt like the director figured he had two great actors in the room so he should just give them a couple more lines to shout out, even though they were completely unnecessary. Overall I feel like the film, and especially moments like these, could have used a more gentle narrative touch. You don't always need to spell everything out for the audience - especially in a movie all about introspection and self-discovery. Hector also is constantly asking all of his new friends what makes them happy, in just about as many words, and while the movie does try to back up the statements, I wish he didn't literally have to pull out his notebook and say, "So, what makes you happy?" to everyone. Sometimes it works, sometimes it feels plugged in, like he's filling out a school assignment.

One device Hector could have made more use of was the illustrations. I personally love little narrative tools like this sprinkled in once in a while. In the first third of the movie, the audience is treated to little animations of the doodles that Hector draws in his notebook, as well as handwritten notes on his observations/learnings about happiness. The illustrations mostly disappear as we get into the meat of the film, but I think using them more with an editorial touch would have enhanced the whimsical and slightly dreamy qualities of the film, and showed us Hector's unique perspective more artfully.

In sum, please don't be put off by the low ratings and do check out Hector and the Search for Happiness, especially if you're into travel, or even just the idea of travel. It's a nice film and will certainly get you itching to pack your bags for a big adventure.

04 September 2014

Drama Review: Heartstrings


I had been meaning to watch this drama for a while now, especially after watching Jung Yong Hwa be a little bit boring in Marry Him If You Dare. I had heard mostly mediocre (verging on bad) things about Heartstrings (the Korean title is You've Fallen for Me) but I wanted something simple and not too involved to watch at night for fluff, and Heartstrings basically delivered all of that.

I'll preface the body of this review by saying I think I observe and care about very weird things in dramas/other shows/movies, but hey, if I didn't have anything different to say than everyone else, why write it right? Also, it has now been a few months since I've actually watched the drama so I have probably forgotten a lot of what I was going to say by now. #irresponsibleblogging

Anyway. Heartstrings. For those who are not familiar, it's set in a performing arts college. Park Shin Hye plays Lee Gyu Won, a traditional Korean music major specializing in the gayageum, which is a Korean string instrument. Gyu Won's grandfather is a renowned traditional Korean singer, so she has a lot to live up to. Jung Yong Hwa, who I always like despite his sometimes-subdued acting, plays Lee Shin, the campus rock star who actually has his own fangirls. But really, does that actually happen anywhere? Actually...I guess every campus does have that one really hot guy all the girls ogle a little bit. But not to the extent that the girls do in this drama.

There are a couple of side plots, including the romance of the hotshot record producer/guest school musical producer Kim Suk Hyun (Song Chang Eui) and dance professor Jung Yoon Soo (Yi Hyun), and dorky Yeo Joon Hee's (the hilarious Kang Min Hyuk) crush on campus star Han Hee Joo (Kim yoon Hye), but the main storyline is the school's big anniversary show, and how the characters all pull together to make it happen. And Gyu Won and Shin fall in love and stuff, giving a bit of closure to second-lead diehards from You're Beautiful.

I think the negative reviews I heard about this drama stem from the fact that it employs tons of cliches. As much as I don't want to just compare anything musical- and school-related to Glee... it's kind of like Glee, minus any gay characters and outcast humor. Instead, it does include Hee Joo's struggle with an eating disorder, and colors her story a bit to elevate her beyond just the school bully. (Instead, her mom is.)

Not sure if anyone is still dying to see this drama, so I won't go into too many more plot details I suppose, but basically it fulfilled my mood at the time for a fluffy, emotionally low commitment drama. I loved the overall look/style of the show, and the fact that it had a more realistic storyline in relation to many other dramas. No eyeball cancer or amnesia here. Not many dramas are set in college, either, and since I'm not really interested in high school dramas anymore (with Answer Me 1997 being the exception), it was nice to see the actors playing characters their actual age.

I always want to like Park Shin Hye more than I do. She's cute, and she always has such nice hair (see: this drama and Heirs). She also has really cute outfits in Heartstrings, and basically I just want to look like that all the time. But I feel like her acting is mostly a touch removed from the present, and she's kind of just smiling prettily, crying loudly, or pouting childishly. Honestly, for me, she was at her best in You're Beautiful, and her work after that has just been not that great. Jung Yong Hwa is also not the best actor there ever was, but he makes it work, and I find him pretty likable anyway. The chemistry between these two didn't gel all the way for me, though those coffee scenes were pretty cute. And of course, Yong Hwa gets to be a rock star in this drama, so he's on his home turf.

For those in the mood for some light, attractive entertainment, go ahead and check this out if you have the time. If you're looking for something that will really grab you and ignite them ~feels, you'll do better to turn elsewhere. Meanwhile, I'm just finishing up I Need Romance 3, so look out for a recap of that once I'm through!

Roommate: Because life is better with annotations by some Korean motion graphics editor

Those who have been following my recaps on Kaedejun know that I am really pulling for Roommate, SBS's variety show following 11 10 7 celebrities as they live together and get to know each other.

I've followed the show from when it first started airing this past spring, and gotten more invested as it went on. Even though the ratings haven't been too strong for this show (or SBS's Good Sunday line up in general...How could you not love Running Man though??), I've stuck with it. I've really come to be attached to all the roommates - even Min Woo has grown on me. I really do get a sense of warmth and friendship from this show - it kind of reminds me of summer camp, or study abroad, where you get randomly placed with a group of people and you end up becoming such great friends through a shared experience. Of course, a lot of the content on Roommate is contrived, but hey, it's TV after all.

Like a lot of viewers, I was initially interested because Park Bom was part of the cast. She was pretty much the only one I knew, besides having seen Lee Dong Wook in My Girl eons ago (his hair is much better now). Sure, the show started out with a somewhat awkward vibe, but I thought it reflected the initially awkward interactions between the roommates, who were strangers at that point. After a few episodes though, once they had gotten a little bit closer, I really began to look forward to catching up with the roommates every week. I'm one of those people who will stick with a TV show for a few episodes before deciding whether or not to continue on. Hell, Game of Thrones took me a whole season to really get hooked, but it's definitely been worth it. I feel like the beauty of television shows is that you get to see characters/people over a span of time, and see their journeys.

If I were to be really picky, I would say maybe eleven cast members might have been a bit much. Turns out to have been a good choice in hindsight, with so many people leaving now, though. The many cast members were balanced out by having group storylines though, and of course busier stars like Chan Yeol, Bom, and Dong Wook frequently busy. Makes me wonder why they and the PDs decided it was even a good idea to sign people to the show who would be missing so many episodes. I guess it does add name value and attract fans. Also we do get a glimpse of their busy lifestyles. I always did find 2ne1 TV really interesting.

The show has lately benefited from a shortened runtime, and more consolidated storylines. The producers are probably going to do a format change with the 'second season' starting on September 21. Not sure if they'll be able to get any top stars since the ratings are low, but maybe the producers will come up with some good ideas for a new format?

Anyway, even if the rumors about Roommate being a filler show until K-Pop Star are true, I'm going to stick with it until it ends, or gets quite bad. Or if any potential new roommates are boring. I still really enjoy watching it, and am a sucker for their little heartwarming moments.

Anyone else still watching?

05 August 2014

I'm alive!

There are a few new eyeballs coming in from Kaedejun! I have just started writing there about some k-variety, and I haven't updated this little blog in a while so I thought I would write a quick note to say I am here! I'm alive!

Yes, Big Bang said it best.

Lots has been going on lately and I still haven't managed to get into the regular habit of writing (clearly) but I am trying my best. More than halfway through the year and I still haven't made headway into those original new years resolutions =( I will work harder to finish off 2014 strong!! Meanwhile, welcome Kaedejun readers, and I hope to grace this page with more on dramas, variety, ballroom, beauty, and other such topics soon! Please check back =)

30 May 2014

Emergency Couple Final Thoughts

Credit: DramaFever

I know I am shamefully late with this post, but even though it's been almost two months I do want to finally throw a quick post up to wrap my Emergency Couple viewing experience. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this drama and I was sad to see it end (partially because the ending was kind of unsatisfying). To be fair, it would have taken a lot for me to not like this drama, considering I love both the leads. They both filled their roles very well and I thought they had pretty good chemistry. It was great to see both Song Ji Hyo and Choi Jin Hyuk play lighthearted characters for a change. The supporting characters were pretty good too - even Chang Min's mom grew on me by the end. Well, ok, she didn't actually grow on me, but she was less awful. I especially liked Professor Shin, and the most important side character in the drama, all the actresses' creamy orange lipstick...more about my crazy beauty products hoarding spree in a later post.

This drama did fizzle out a bit for me by the end, and I felt like they could have upped the dramatic stakes in the last two episodes especially. I guess the more realistic approach they took was much better than adding the typical drama ending with some crazy ailment befalling one of the leads, or a random and sudden study abroad trip that causes the leads to separate for three years and then reunite with slightly different hair styles to denote time lapse. Bah. Still, Emergency Couple was easy to watch, even if it lacked much of the heart-stopping ~feels typically associated with kdramas. I don't know if I'll be re-watching this one with so many other good ones out there, but I am glad I watched it as it aired and had the experience of writing for the DF Drama Club. (Check out all of the DramaFever Drama Club's posts at DF News.)

One more personal Emergency Couple-related note: I loved Ji Hyo's hair color in the drama so I decided to dye my hair a nice cool red shade too. It's been a bit of a journey to arrive at the proper care for my new color so I'll do a post a bit further down the line when I've actually figured it out for myself!

17 March 2014

Emergency Couple Midway Check-In

Credit: E News and DramaFever

Ok, this is a little bit past midway now, but time just seems to fly and before I knew it, we were at episode 14 and 15, aka 3/4 of the way into this 20 episode drama.

I gotta say I am loving this drama, which should come as no surprise given the fact that I loved both leads already, and how perfectly the drama fits into my self-made "urban professional romantic comedy" genre that I mentioned in my DramaFever Drama Club post. Emergency Couple is a little bit I Need Romance, a little bit Grey's Anatomy. After all those dramatic rich guy/poor girl dramas involving extraordinary/unrealistic circumstances, this quiet, grown up drama about divorcees finding their way back to each other and (hopefully) falling back in love is something different and a little more genuine and complex.

I am a little concerned though, because given the fact that we are 3/4 through with the drama, only 1/2 of the couple is back in love with the other. Chang Min's feelings for Jin Hee reawakened a few episodes ago now, but Jin Hee hasn't shown any obvious signs of reciprocating. In this week's episodes, she even outwardly told him they couldn't possibly get back together because of all the old fights and family feuds that would be restarted. Something about those close shots on Jin Hee's face as she remembers all the happy and sad times tells me that her feelings aren't so simple.

I've come to really like all the characters, even the ones who seemed to be annoying in the beginning. I thought the other interns would all be super annoying, especially the married couple, but they're actually turning out to be normal - especially Ah Reum. I thought she would be another crazy 2nd female lead, but she's actually been much more likable. The biggest surprise of all is Chang Min's umma - this actress drove me absolutely crazy (in the bad way) in Heirs, and also much of the first half of Emergency Couple. When she appeared in Emergency Couple I thought I was going to rip my hair out having to watch her play a psycho mom again. But then, a miraculous thing happened...last week, I actually felt bad for her character. Any drama that can lessen my annoyance with the psycho mom in general, and this particular psycho mom, is a well-done drama indeed. Jin Ae and Kwang Soo are turning out to not only be not irritating, but quite charming.

There's a lot of ground still to cover in the remaining four episodes of the drama. Jin Hee still has to come to terms with the fact that she and Chang Min are meant to be! Also of course there are some side stories. Hopefully Ah Reum gives Yong Kyu a chance, or he gets over her and empowers himself. And hopefully Jin Ae and Kwang Soo get on their feet too. And Chun Soo and Ji Hye need to get back together too.

I'll be watching faithfully for the next two weeks, clutching my Eeyore and teddy bears puppies! Can't wait to see how this drama plays out.

04 March 2014

My Liebster Award post!


Zombie Mamma, who I wrote with for the Marry Him If You Dare drama club on DramaFever News, tagged me for a Liebster Award!! I must confess, I haven't heard of this before but it's such a lovely idea so I'm very honored to participate. Here are my answers to the questionnaire =)

1. What was your favorite drama of 2013?
So...up until fall of 2013, I was a serial marathoner. I would wait until shows were completely finished, see if people still thought they were good months later, and then watch them. The only dramas I watched in 2013 that were made in 2013 were Heirs and Marry Him If You Dare - neither were stellar. Running Man isn't a drama, but it's the Korean show I became absolutely OBSESSED with in 2013, so I guess that's my best answer! 

2. If K-Pop is your thing, which artist/group is your all-time favorite? Which song and/or album of his/hers/theirs is your favorite?
I haven't followed kpop much, but I think the genre as a whole is pretty fun so I listen sometimes. I loves me some Big Bang. 

3. If you were to star in your very own noona romance drama, who would  be the younger man to steal your heart and how would he do it?
Hm. I think all of the actors I like/know are actually just about my age or older...I don't think I know any who are younger. 

4. Who is your all-time favorite K-Drama/K-Pop star/group? Why?
Favorite kdrama: Coffee Prince 4 lyfe 
Favorite kpop star/group: Big Bang

5. If you could spend a day hanging out with your ultimate bias, who would it be and what would you do?
Oh boy. I have never had to pick just one before. Maybe Hyun Bin? Or Gong Yoo because he seems goofier haha. It would be fun to just hang out in Seoul and do Seoul-ish things, like shop and go to a spa and eat and hang out in coffee shops. And cat cafes. All the cat cafes. Is that a boring answer? 

6. If you could visit South Korea, would you be more interested in exploring the country as a whole or would you rather visit all of your favorite drama locations? Why?
I was lucky enough to go to Korea last spring! It was amazing and I really want to go back again soon. I would definitely prefer to see the country as a whole, because you'll see many drama locations/places similar to drama locations along the way anyway. Korea is pretty small country, and they make a TON of dramas haha. 

7. Which do you enjoy more: Watching all the newest dramas, even if it means waiting a week to find out what happens next or waiting until a drama has finished airing so you can marathon the entire drama in one go?
As I mentioned before, I used to marathon, but recently started watching a couple series as they come out. I think it depends on what I'm going after - marathoning is a much more solitary experience. I go into hibernation mode and just watch all of it in my pajamas so it feels kind of like a mind cleanse. Watching shows as they come out is not bad, but it's most fun when you have friends watching it too to squeal about it every week. I must say, I missed the boat catching My Love From Another Star as it aired, and am really regretting it since everyone was talking about it and I had to remain spoiler-free. 

8. In your opinion, which K-drama has the best kiss scene and which has the worst?
Mmm. Best off the top of my head is maybe the piano kiss in My Lovely Samsoon? Worst is anything with Park Shin Hye. 

9. What is the most played song on your iPod (or equivalent) right now?
I've been playing a lot of Leessang lately because it's the newest thing I have. Listening to music in a language I don't understand is helpful for drowning out the noise/falling asleep on the bus 'cause I don't get distracted by the lyrics. 

10. If you could interview any Hallyu star, who would it be and what would you ask?
Uhmmm. Does the entire Running Man cast count? I would ask them if I could be their collective best friend/honorary 8th member. 

So the Liebster Award rules dictate I'm supposed to nominate 10 more people...but embarrassingly I actually do not know 10 more people. I know a couple, most of whom have already been nominated it seems. So...I nominate Sagedandconfused and The Bot Experience, my fellow Emergency Couple drama clubbers! And anyone else who is reading this who has a blog that's just starting up!

Here are the rules: 
1. Each nominee link back the person who nominated them.
2. Answer 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers.
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

My questions (some of which I have borrowed from previous Liebster questions because my brain feels drained at the moment):
1. How did you find out about k-dramas and what was your 'gateway drama'?
2. What Korean food do you always see in dramas that you really want to try?
3. What would be the first thing you would do if you had a day in Seoul? 
4. If you could travel through time to hang out on any drama set for a day, which one would it be?
5. Where do you think the kdrama industry has room to improve?
6. What impact has kdrama had on your life (besides hours of gleeful entertainment and eye candy)? 
7. Which is your favorite drama kiss?
8. Have you ever converted any of your friends/family into drama lovers?
9. If you were the star of a kdrama, what would the plot be? Who would be the leading man? The second lead? 
10. What other kinds of TV shows and movies do you like besides Korean stuff? 

03 February 2014

Emergency Couple Drama Club on DramaFever News!

The tvN drama Emergency Couple is going into its third week! I am currently writing for DramaFever's weekly Drama Club discussion on the series, so Korean drama fans can catch up with all of our posts starting here with week 1, part 1.

I've been excited about this drama ever since I found out Choi Jin Hyuk and Song Ji Hyo would be starring in it together (I'm still relatively new to the kdrama fandom so knowing and liking both the leads is new to me). I knew Choi Jin Hyuk from I Need Romance and Heirs, and Song Ji Hyo from my current obsession, Running Man (well, and Goong, but let's not talk about that). It's funny that I have been getting random pangs of nostalgia for my Grey's Anatomy days, and here is the perfect thing to give me a hint of the medical drama without the crazy musical episodes and plane crashes that kill of half the cast, or whatever. Having seen episode 4, the drama is definitely doing well so far and I'm looking forward to seeing how everything works out!

I'll generally try to save my drama raving for the drama club but I'll try to do a halfway and ending check in here at my home base. =)

02 February 2014

Ballroom for Beginners: 10 Things You Need to Know for Your First Comp

Spring semester is under way, and that means some of our NYU ballroom team newcomers are prepping for their first competition! Comps can be a pretty overwhelming experience to the uninitiated: loud music blaring, girls with crazy feathers/sequins/hair/makeup milling around, the MC saying things that don't seem to make sense (it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out what "Judges, recall 24 from two" meant...), and what seems like a million people competing on the floor at the same time. This all takes place in what is most likely a stuffy college gym with less-than-flattering fluorescent lighting. Revel in the experience (and slight kookiness) of it all, but don't forget these key tips to having a successful first comp!

1. Everyone else is in the same boat as you.
It would be weird to NOT be nervous, but just remember that the whole experience is new to everyone else you're competing with. And for that matter, every single competitor there has all gone through newcomer too, and made it out just fine.

2. Make sure your appearance is neat.
Judges look at all aspects of your performance on the floor. Present yourself at your best! Make sure your hair is pulled back away from your face, and your clothes are neat and fit well. Guys, baggy shirts DO affect your appearance and especially your frame (I'm talking about those dress shirts with inexplicably wide sleeves) , so if you can help it at all, get a shirt that fits! More on clothing and costuming in a future post.

3. Smile and look calm even if you're not sure what you're doing. 
I'm pretty sure everyone at some point has a) gotten off beat, b) given/followed a lead incorrectly, c) blanked out completely, d) forgot what other steps to do, or e) all of the above. Many times. I once started to do foxtrot steps out of the blue in the middle of a waltz. This was when I was silver. The best thing to do in any of those situations is to smile and fake it 'til you make it. 

4. Watch the upper level dancers.
Even though the silver, gold, and open dancers look impossibly better than you could ever be, again, at some point they danced exactly like you do now (possibly worse). With hard work and practice, you can advance as far as you want. Also, try picking your favorite couple in every round and analyzing what you like about their dancing. After a while you'll pick up on good habits this way. I picked up a lot of styling from watching the higher levels and seeing what I liked.

5. Support your teammates.
It's not only OK, but highly encouraged to loudly cheer on your teammates and fellow dancers by shouting their number out as they're dancing. =)

6. Eat food and stay hydrated.
Comps last all day and can be very draining, so make sure you're keeping up your energy. This is especially important for big comps, when you might be dancing a lot of rounds. Bagels and Gatorade work well for me, and I generally try to stay away from anything too greasy.

7. Don't expect to get much homework done.
Unless you are superhumanly diligent and focused, most likely you will have lugged along your heavy textbooks for no reason. Don't get me wrong, I have witnessed the occasional person studying in a quiet corner, but I personally never managed to get anything done. One time, I brought my clunky laptop to Boston with the hope of writing a paper. I barely got a chance to open it at the comp, then on the bus ride back, as I was starting to settle in to write, I started talking to the lady sitting next to me instead, because she was also a ballroom dancer. Yup. Paper writing did not happen.

8. Set your goals against your own progress, not others. 
It may be discouraging if you see others around you making lots of rounds or winning ribbons right away, while your results aren't as good as you had hoped. I think it's really important to set your own benchmarks according to your own partnership and not anyone else's. You never know if another couple has been dancing longer, or has had a lot of lessons, etc.

9. Look normal.
I'm borrowing this one from the NYU team's own president emeritus, Nicole. While it's important to look happy and somewhat enthusiastic on the competition floor, it's probably best not to experiment with anything TOO wild with styling and such. Keep to the basics: good posture, clean movements, nice smile. Relatedly, if any movement you're doing feels very uncomfortable, it probably looks uncomfortable too. You shouldn't need to be contorting anything too crazily.

10. Have fun! 
What's the point in partaking in this whole circus if you're not going to enjoy yourself? Savor the moment, keep a positive attitude, and you'll find great success in your competitive career!

Good luck competitors and see you on the dance floor! =)

26 January 2014

Ballroom for Beginners: So you think you wanna dance...


Matt and I with our first blue ribbon at the MIT Open in 2011.
Maybe you watch Dancing with the Stars, or have seen Richard Gere twirl across the big screen with Jennifer Lopez. Maybe your parents dance a little, or you saw the NYU ballroom team at Club Fest. Somehow or other, you found out about ballroom dancing and thought it would be fun to give it a shot. 
People often ask me how I got into ballroom. The truth is, I can’t pinpoint an exact reason or moment I decided to take the plunge. I think I had always had it in my head that such a glamorous, elegant way to move to music would be a fun and different thing to learn. That, and I did tune into Dancing with the Stars diligently every week. It was all so exciting and different, and I swear I got butterflies every time Jonathan Roberts swept his partner into a throwaway oversway.

I signed up for the ballroom team and club listserves as soon as I got to NYU as a starry-eyed freshman. The thought of competing intimidated me too much though, so I joined the much more low-key sounding recreational ballroom club, which met for a couple hours every Saturday afternoon to learn some basic steps. These lessons quickly became the highlight of my week, and I went back almost every week for two years. Eventually, after talking to some other people who were on the team, I realized that joining a competitively oriented team would help me learn how to do more material, and better. 

When I pictured the people I would soon meet on the ballroom team, I imagined very serious dancers who had been dancing all their lives. They probably wore all black, had stern expressions on their faces all the time, and vaguely resembled the guys from Center Stage. But when I finally got to my first team lesson, what I found was a group of people just like me, who had heard about ballroom somewhere along the line and were just interested to learn more. (When I first started practicing in a real studio, I did find aforementioned intense dancer people.) The rest of that semester was a blur of dancing and competing and making amazing friends (and yes, I met my current boyfriend too) and having the best time of my life. 

Steve and I at MAC 2014. Photo by Ryan Kenner Photography.
Thinking back, I can’t believe it took me that long to realize how much I loved this new hobby. It gave me so much more than just more dance steps – I gained a lot of confidence, the closest thing to a “real” college experience I could at NYU, and a hobby I can pursue for the rest of my life. I love also that the social aspect is built in – it is a partner dance after all, so meeting new people is kind of a given. Previously I had mostly kept to myself, so this was the kick I needed to “put myself out there”.

So if the thought had ever crossed your mind to learn ballroom, try it out! Get one of those endless Groupon deals for salsa classes and learn a few steps. It’s a great activity for couples especially. If nothing else, you’ll have a couple steps to show off at weddings. But maybe you’ll find new hobby that will enrich your life as much as it did mine =). If ballroom’s not your thing but you’re kind of feeling in a life funk, do try something new even if it scares you a little bit. Most things worth doing are a bit scary at first!

That said, one of the main topics I’ll be writing about on this little blog is ballroom – specifically geared towards beginners to the competitive scene. Competitive dancesport is pretty crazy and very different from anything I had ever done before so when I started I had a ton of questions. I’ll address things like costuming, hair and makeup, developing technique, attending a first competition, when to start getting private lessons, etc. I hope it can be of use to the newbies, and maybe some more experienced dancers can chip in too. I’m planning on posting at least once or twice every week.

Check back soon for updates!

21 January 2014

Making your blog snazzy: Step One

So you've just downloaded a generic-y, but somewhat neutral and pleasant new template for your nascent blog. What's the next step? Have something go wonky in the code and not be able to find it, of course...

My header is currently weirdly centered and hovering on top of the posts and it decidedly is not supposed to be doing that. Blankly poked around the code hoping there would be a section that popped out and said, "Hey, fix me here!". Alas. Will take to the experts in the next few days...

EDIT: Figured it out (on my own) after a couple of hours of farting around on Buzzfeed and Reddit!! Small victories. The header is now in place.

Watch This Space

The very first post I wrote on this blog in January 2010 was titled, "Watch This Space", and I wrote it while I was packing for my semester abroad in Florence. This blog was originally intended to be a chronicle of that experience - a hopeful blank corner of the interwebs waiting to be filled with amazing travel experiences and pictures and accounts of la dolce vita. I did actually write a few posts throughout that spring, but of course not as often as I had hoped (especially considering I had a solid 4 hour window every week that I killed time between classes in the campus computer lab, now that I think of it). I also tried to write a bit after I got back, but there never seemed to be anything to write about as I busied myself with "life as usual", i.e. classes and internships and such. It just didn't seem very interesting to me at the time. And so it went as it always seems to go: blogs started with good intentions but ultimately left un-updated for months and years at a time.

Since I've finished school and entered 'the real world', I've had a bit more time and brain space to think/interact with the world in general - just enough to realize that my education, in the general sense, has only just begun.  I've always liked having a space to ramble a little and sort out my thoughts, so I think it's high time to kick this little blog into gear again.

I've never been big on new year's resolutions, but as 2014 approached, I did feel that the new year would be a good marker to get some long-simmering goals in gear, for my own sake. We all have those projects we mean to get started on in the vague "future"/"soon", but as they say, there's no better time than the present, and I'm already three weeks behind now!

For posterity, the big-ticket items I have in mind are:

1. Write more in general (with the aim of improving and giving myself space to reflect on things).
2. Learn enough HTML/CSS to be able to build/update a basic site.
3. Learn Photoshop well enough to make basic graphics.
4. Brush up on my very, very elementary Chinese/French/Korean.
(*5. As an extra bonus goal, maybe I can venture into photography too? I've always planned to eventually get myself a Big Girl Camera and take fancy pictures.)

Bringing this blog back to life is the perfect fit to the first three, and I'm hoping more general proactiveness will bring about some progress on the fourth.

Most successful blogs tend to focus deeply on one topic, but as I'm not an expert in any one thing, I decided to write about all the things I'm interested in, so that this blog is like a collection of my thoughts and interest in a variety of topics that I occasionally mull about. This is liable to include any amount of random things, but major topics will include travel, ballroom, movies/TV, and college/career stuff. I'd also like to write about random news/current events, internet findings, and other errant thoughts. Occasionally, I blog for DramaFever News - inevitably some of that will leak over as well.

So this January 2014, I again ask you to please 'watch this space' as I hopefully make it much prettier and fill it with writing. Please check back and comment with your comments! =)

© 2012. Design by Main-Blogger - Blogger Template and Blogging Stuff