Dec 17, 2006  •  In Art/Design, Music

Music as Visual Art

Are you a musician? Do you play a musical instrument? Do you know how to read music?

If any of these questions pertains to you, you might be interested in a composer named George Crumb. Crumb is famous for distorting his scores in shapes indicative of the mood he’s trying to set. Case in point, the spiral-shaped score for “Spiral Galaxy: Aquarius”:

Try playing THAT. I wish I had a piano handy.

A few more examples of his scores can be viewed here. (And if you can read Japanese, maybe you can tell me what the site says.)

Reading about Crumb reminded me of one of my favorite painters, Wassily Kandinsky. Considered to be one of the fathers of abstract expressionism, Kandinsky was fascinated with the emotional response evoked by music. He translated the essence of music as well as his theoretical reflections and insights from listening to music onto the canvas.

Dominant Curve, 1936.

Composition 8, 1923.

(Both these paintings can be viewed at the Guggenheim Museum in NY. Two must-sees for any Guggenheim visit.)

Can you see the music? The beats, the melody, the emotion? I can. :-)

Dec 11, 2006  •  In Art/Design, Marketing/Advertising

Olympic Mascots

Here are the mascots of the 2008 Olympics, which is being held in Beijing:

The “Five Friendlies” represent the largest number of mascots since the practice began in 1972. You can find out more about them at

The website includes a history of the Olympic mascot(s), and immediately my eyes were drawn to Hodori, the mascot of the 1988 Seoul Games:

I don’t think I’m being biased in believing that he’s the most charismatic, attractive, and well-designed of the 9 featured in the “Olympic Mascots of the past Olympiad” section. Which do you think is the best?

Looking at Hodori brought back fond memories. Hodori was everywhere right before I came to the US (my family immigrated in spring 1988). Thus, my fondest and most vivid memories of my former life in Korea include Hodori.

But where was Hosuni? Why is she not listed alongside Hodori on this Olympics page?

Hosuni is the female couterpart of Hodori. I remembered her as well, and became curious as to why she was not included. Another search told me that although Hodori and Hosuni were the official dual mascots of the ’88 Seoul Games, Hosuni was rarely seen due to marketing mistakes. Some authors even pointed fingers to Korea for being sexist.

I had trouble finding pictures of Hosuni online. Here’s one with both Hodori and Hosuni:

Yep, they definitely are the best Olympic mascots ever.

Dec 5, 2006  •  In Career, Personal

Corporate Slavedom

Yesterday I read an article which was linked on Slashdot. It caught my attention because I’m still in the process of paving a career path. In the midst of researching and reading up on the myriad of options that are available for recent grads who are still trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives, I have come across several articles of this nature. This segment in particular struck me:

Years ago if you put in long hours and worked hard for a company, you were rewarded with gradual promotions, longer vacations, medical insurance, and a healthy retirement plan. Most people expected to work 20 years or more at one company. Today to get ahead and save for a reasonable retirement, workers often must hop from company to company to get a promotion. Hard work and dedication to a job well done are no longer seen as ways to protect a job. Everyone is expendable, thanks to many employers’ short-term, economic goals. And there’s no incentive to work long hours. It won’t likely pay off for the worker in the long run.

This reminded me of two movies. The first, In Good Company, where Dennis Quaid plays an experienced, loyal employee who is replaced by a younger, less experienced worker due to a company takeover. An article I read last week asked the question “Why does your boss seem so stupid?” One of the reasons it gave was that nowadays, managers and leaders are hired externally. So, in a sense, the employees in the lower positions end up having to train their own bosses.

The second movie I thought of is Office Space, particularly the scene where Ron Livingston’s character Peter goes through an assessment, or, as the movie put it, “being interviewed for their own jobs”:

Peter: You see Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.

Bob: Don’t… don’t care?

Peter: It’s a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see another dime, so where’s the motivation? And here’s another thing, I have eight different bosses right now.

Bob: Eight?

Peter: Eight, Bob. So that means when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.

Reading this, you can see how the movie Office Space became such a hit among those who work the corporate life.

So what was the purpose of this entry? I’m not sure. Everything I’ve written above makes me a bit sad. But this is the way things are done these days, and I know I must accept it if I am to make it in today’s corporate world.

Nov 20, 2006  •  In Geek, Personal, Video Games


The Sony PS3 has been out for 3 days now but I will not be getting one. Why? The available game titles do not look too exciting. It costs an inordinate amount of money. Plus, the Nintendo Wii was launched just 2 days later and I had been drooling over it ever since it was announced at E3 2005.

I can go on and on about the superiority of the Wii over the PS3. Suffice it to say, Nintendo never ceases to amaze me with their creativity (look how well the DS is doing!) and marketing efforts. Nintendo has built up a community of die-hard loyal fans of all ages who have been interacting in all sorts of ways through the DS, and now they can build another macro-community through the Wii.

Not to mention, Nintendo fans tend to be a lot nicer than your run-of-the-mill PS3 fan, as illustrated by this week’s xkcd:

Yesterday, J, our friend BJ, and I woke up at an insane hour so we could make it to the Target in Columbia for the launch of the Nintendo Wii. We had been scouting the local Best Buy’s, Target’s, Toys ‘r Us’s, Walmart’s, etc. for days to see which would be getting the most units in on launch day, and the Columbia Target it was.

I stopped by my local Dunkin Donuts to pick up coffee for the three of us and to buy a box of donuts to be shared among the crowd (there you go – the friendly Nintendo mentality). However, this might have been a waste of precious time, by the time we arrived, there was already a line…

Notice that the actual entrance to the store is around the corner. There were tents set up at the beginning of the line. Oh em gee.

At around 7am, the manager of the store came out to tell us that they had exactly 120 units in stock. BJ quickly ran around counting. God had decided to play a cruel joke on us that day: we were numbers 121, 122, and 123.

We made a mad dash to the Toys ‘r Us that was across the street. Fortunately, the line here was shorter because the store wasn’t scheduled to open until 10am as opposed to Target’s 8am. Here is a shot of the people in front of us, which was only about 30:

We kept ourselves busy by chatting up our neighbors in line. We had also brought our respective DS’s and proceeded to kill some time by playing some rounds against one another. Our line neighbors even joined in for a few games! And, of course, I kicked everyone’s ass in Meteos. ;-)

Here’s a shot of us, looking like ass with so little sleep and waiting outside in the cold for hours:

They finally started handing out tickets at around 9:30 –

After that, they let us suffer for another hour while they SLOWLY let in groups of 2-5.

Unfortunately, being poor, I only got one game (Zelda) in addition to the console. I had been planning on getting at least one extra set of controllers but they’re sold out everywhere in MD!

It’s ok, because playing with it yesterday, it was definitely worth it.

Nov 15, 2006  •  In Art/Design, Colors, Personal

My Skewed Perception

When I was little I believed that some people were better at drawing because they had better motor skills. In reality, it has more to do with perception and brain functions: the ability to differentiate space, light, and shadows. Steady hands are a plus, but they are not required.

An old art teacher once told me that I had a rare gift of seeing color. She said that I was better at differentiating and mixing color than some of her former colleagues, who were professional color mixers. (Yes, this profession existed before the advent of computers.)

Now although I may not use this gift in every day life (dressing, makeup, etc), I often find myself staring at an interesting color and mixing it in my head. And I’ve given up describing colors as “cool purple with a hint of prussian blue.” Instead, I’ll save myself the blank stares and just say “purple.”

I can also tell when colors look “cheap.” For example, you can look like you shop at designer stores by wearing “rich” colors. Basically, “rich” colors are often mixed with expensive pigments and are more difficult to reproduce, as so many different colors went into mixing them.

Space and depth perception, light and shadows, color. It makes me wonder, do I see things differently from other people? For example, if Rembrandt woke up in his neighbor’s body one day, would he have seen the world differently? More blurred? Less vibrant? Maybe even a little skewed?

I should borrow someone’s eyes and brain one day. Now that’s a morbid thought.