Contingent Contemplation: Back To School

…for the last time!

Well, it’s finally here. My last term in school. Wow, I kind of dragged that out. That’s why I was adamant on going back to school shopping for school supplies, despite having many years worth of used binders, leftover looseleaf papers, and way too many pens and pencils.

I ended up going to Walmart to snag some cheap BTS deals, only to realize that I didn’t really have much to buy. I ended up getting 2 packets of lined paper. I had wanted a notebook, but even that I failed to get because I wanted one notebook that can contain 3 subjects. I’m only taking three courses this term, and by now I’m too familiar with myself. I take notes for about half a month into the term before I stop. So honestly, one notebook with three dividers is all I need. They didn’t seem to have that at Walmart.

hilroy paper

The only other thing I’d need is a backpack. I’ve used my currently backpack for about two years, and it can easily last the next 4 months. But again, this is my last back to school shopping, so I went and got a small Herschel backpack. I honestly didn’t want a Herschel, but that was all there was in every single store. That or Jansport. I’ve used Jansport for a few years and I don’t like its lack of support, so Herschel it is.

herschel polka dot

I can’t believe back to school shopping won’t be a thing I’ll be doing anymore. Or maybe I’m glad I won’t be fighting against the hordes of families trying to grab glue sticks on sale? But I have a feeling I’ll be feeling a little blue when the next back to school shopping season comes around…reminding me that I’ve got to face the real world now. At the same time, I’m kind of glad to be almost done. Give me that piece of edumacation paper so I can go out and do stuff!

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A very productive reading break

I spent my reading break up at Whistler at my boyfriend’s family’s cabin. I had wild visions of me finishing all my homework up there as well as getting my studying done. I did semi-start one of my presentations and then read one of the 20 readings I was supposed to do but otherwise, homework was not touched.

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We did, however, eat a lot. We cooked our own meals up there and I don’t mean to brag but they were all delicious. We’re master chefs (I say this, but at the same time we burnt our grilled cheese sandwiches not too long ago. How do you screw up grilled cheese??). A sample of some of our creations:

– Creamy Avocado Pasta

– Steak with potatoes and stuffed tomatoes 

– Pancakes with candied bacon and eggs

– Strawberry daifuku

We always cooked too much, and that puts us in a great spot for food coma-ing after dinner and into our bed with a good movie or two. We watched The Imitation GamePulp Fiction (finally!), and started, but never finished Selma. We also progressed in Firefly, which we’ve since finished. So glad we finished Firefly before going to Emerald City Comic Con since two of the leading ladies will be there!

It was great to be by ourselves for the week. Very relaxing! Of course, we did visit the Whistler Village. We did some studying at a cafe, ate at the Warehouse (a one hour wait in line…), but that was pretty much it. Snow was bad this year anyway. I had my first bubble bath in probably two years. Man, I wish we could take a Whistler reading break every month. Such a great de-stressor!

– Karen

Too old for Halloween

Hey everyone,

So Halloween just ended (you may have noticed from the sudden flood of Christmas products today), and it really made me miss the old days when I used to go trick or treating.

If you know my backstory, you’ll know that I was in Hong Kong for five of my teenage years, which meant I missed out on five years of free candy since trick or treating was not recognized in HK. If you knocked on someone’s door on October 31st there, pestering them for candy, you may get rewarded with your very own restraining order.

It’s not just the candy that I miss. I have always loved dressing up as someone/something else. I remember one of my first costumes was Sailor Moon. After that, I kept finding excuses to wear costumes. I discovered cosplaying, which was an outlet, but what’s so special about Halloween is that everyone can be in costume! Every year, I get my mom to make me a costume (she loves designing them), but sadly, I don’t have much reason to wear them. Unless I choose to go to a party.

A quick picture I snapped with my friend before the party. I was Mulan for the night!

A quick picture I snapped with my friend before the party. I was Mulan for the night!

Parties aren’t always my thing, but it’s one of the few ways someone my age can wear a costume. Last year, I chose not to go, so I missed out on dressing up. I chose to party this year, and while I didn’t really enjoy the partying bit, I was in costume. I guess you win some, and you lose some.

But what I’ve noticed is that at parties and on campus, very few people actually care about their costumes. Put on a pair of bunny or cat ears, and voila, costume completed. On Halloween day, I didn’t have the guts to wear a costume to school. I did in my first year, but it was quite embarrassing since no one else dressed up. But I saw a few people walking around with costumes this year, and it made me super happy. Huge props to them for being brave and throwing on a costume! It really takes more guts than you would think. I sincerely hope that they had a wonderful time being someone else for a day, and I could only wish that I had their courage. My blog gets a lot less traffic than UBC Compliments’ Facebook page, so I also posted something similar to what I said above there. Hopefully, my message reaches the people who dressed up!

So how was your Halloween?

– Karen

Musings After Sandman Volume 3– Gaiman’s Scripts

I felt the need to just ramble about how I felt after reading Sandman. And here are my unfiltered thoughts (though I edited for grammar)– just thought I would share it with you guys! You may notice it is a bit different from my usual style of writing, but that is because I was just pouring out everything that went through my mind after reading the volume!
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I have nothing better to do on this fine Tuesday afternoon. I have braved through all my classes, and am now waiting for my HR meeting.

Anyway, I was at the gym earlier (shocker!) and instead of bringing my usual iPad to watch an episode of Supernatural while I run, I read volume 3 of Sandman. The stories were okay. Like the first book, I found myself loving certain parts of the book a lot more than the rest. I remember for book 1, it was when we were introduced to the Sandman’s sister– Death. She is amazing. Dare I say perfect? We see her again in one of the short stories in this volume.

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I still don’t entirely get Sandman. But I respect Neil Gaiman as a writer– a lot. He has that dark vibe to him, much like how you would expect Tim Burton to write if you got a chance to read his scripts. What was my favourite part of this graphic novel was the very last section of the book. Gaiman told us he would allow us a peek behind the curtains of how he writes his graphic novels. Actually, I’m wrong in saying that. He explicitly told us that this was not the Neil Gaiman style of how to write graphic novels, but simply how he writes The Sandman.

I did not think that writing the script for a graphic novel would be so intense. It seems like it would take ages to finish a page (I’m sure it does). I know I breezed through the pages of the novel, spending 2-3 minutes max on them. But the effort it takes to write one of these pages is commendable. He included notes from both him and his artist, Kelley Jones, in the margins of the script.

Gaiman writes his script out in a manner similar to writing a letter. To introduce each page, he would write to Kelley how he wanted the page to go. Additionally, he would also add random thoughts that he happened to ponder on. One of these included how he had a strange phone call the night before and it freaked him out. I loved this. It personalized the script, and made it so much more inviting to Kelley (or at least I would think I would feel that way if I was him). You are no longer reading stone cold instructions, but something from a friend.

After taking Creative Writing 203, we were told that we were not supposed to give the artist too much directions in our children picture book drafts. I wrote my story (which I was not satisfied with– and neither was my TA judging from my mark), and the only instructions you could get from what I wanted the illustrator to do was which page I wanted the text on. It was important that you allowed the artist freedom. Gaiman’s approach was completely different..

If you could read how detailed he makes each scene, it really is amazing. He not only tells the artist roughly what he wants the character to be doing, but he goes as far as to say that outside the window, we should get a lighting that suggests “early summer or late spring”. Each page’s panels have about half a page of text instructing Kelley on what he should do. Gaiman also says that he’d send Kelley reference pics (which us as the reader does not get to see). Gaiman does say that he has to first know who his illustrator is before he writes his scripts, so I am assuming he keeps in mind what he believes Kelley can produce.
I think this is amazing, but of course, I am thinking through the mind of the author. I would love for my artist to paint exactly what I imagined in my head. I wonder how Kelley feels. I wonder if this is the approach many other comic book/graphic novel writers use when they write their scripts. Or maybe it’s because Neil Gaiman is a such a big shot, so he gets to do things this way. Or maybe it’s a neutral agreement between solely Gaiman and Kelley. It’s weird how I refer to Gaiman by his last name and Kelley by his first. But I like it like that.

Seeing the script, I no longer think of graphic novels as very short pieces with several hundred words. Sure, each chapter may come in a small little compact booklet, and yes, we may only see the few hundred words that the writer chose to express physically with words in font.
But it is so much more than that.

-Karen

Marketing Post #2: People Are Dying, It’s Time for Shopping!

Many companies know that in order to have successfully promote your products, you need to seize opportunities. So when Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc across the US, American Apparel leapt at the opportunity and chose to use one of the sure-fire channels of communication to reach their customers: the internet.

What exactly was American Apparel trying to communicate across? No, it had nothing to do with using the disaster to boost their image by urging people to donate to a relief fund, as many other companies jumped to do. Instead, they offered those who were stuck at home and ‘bored’ to discount codes for their online website.

The ad was met with criticism, and outrage from the public, especially when the death toll was climbing higher every hour during the hurricane. However, not only did American Apparel not apologize for their campaign, they went on to explain that it is “expensive to run a Made in USA brand like American Apparel,” so they were trying to make up for lost revenue.

They may have nailed it by getting an ad campaign up as soon as possible, seizing the situational opportunities of the hurricane, but in hindsight, did they really believe no one was going to get offended? The identified their target audience as those who were forced to stay home for safety reasons, but overlooked the fact that the US as a whole was panicking.

Another company who tried to make use of situational opportunities includes GAP. They chose to make a short tweet offering their concern for victims, but quickly moved on to promoting themselves not unlike what American Apparel did. However, they quickly tweeted an clarification to atone for their actions, which is more than can be said for in American Apparel’s case.

All the same, something can definitely be learned here. Sure, it is important to make use of any opportunities that come your way, but from what direction should you approach it?