How Did You Find Me?

Whenever I log into WordPress and check the stats on my website, I am often amused by what I find – especially the search terms that somehow led someone to my site. Two questions usually come to mind. 1 – Why was someone searching for that? 2 – How did that Google search lead someone to my site?

Here are some of the search terms I find most amusing and somewhat confusing…

Nathan Fillion
Someone once searched for “no a tv show i used to love,” a quote from Castle that references Firefly, a well-loved and prematurely canceled Nathan Fillion TV show. However, the sixth most popular search term for my site, “Nathan Fillion shirtless” is both amusing and confusing. I like that someone was actually searching for this, and probably was very disappointed when they landed on a blog/design gallery. It took me a while to realize they did a Google Image search and clicked on a picture of a shirtless Harry Shum, Jr., which I had included on my wishlist page. Sorry, folks. No shirtless Nathan Fillion here.

Wong Fu Productions
I met the guys of Wong Fu (Philip Wang, Wesley Chan, and Ted Fu) in April, and since then, people have ended up on my site after various Google searches related to them. According to the stats, “Wesley Chan” is even more popular than shirtless Nathan Fillion, coming in as the 4th most popular search term of all time. “Wong Fu Productions” and “Ted Fu” come in 7th and 8th, respectively. Sadly, “Philip Wang,” my favorite of the three, is only 19th on the list. However, one person did search for “Philip Wang Wong Fu Productions shirtless,” if that makes you feel any better. People have also searched for more specific items, like Wesley Chan’s resume or information about Wong Fu’s new office in Pasadena. The most amusing Wong Fu-related search, though, has got to be “Cindy from Wong Fu Productions.” I don’t know if they were looking for me, but I’ll gladly accept the title.

Kina Grannis
Phil, Wes, and Ted weren’t the only YouTubers I met in April. The day after seeing Wong Fu in Princeton, I met Kina Grannis in Philadelphia. “Kina Grannis” is actually the #1 search term for my site. With 70 hits just for Kina’s name, there weren’t too many other related searches. Several people searched for Kina’s braid while two people wanted to know what her favorite store is. Other people wanted information about buying a signed frame from Kina’s “Valentine” music video, an item I received as part of the Stairwells deluxe package. One person searched for “Kina Grannis song for her mom,” which was part of the Project 4 Awesome campaign, something I personally thanked Kina for doing. My favorite Kina search is “Cindy Agoncillo Kina Grannis.” Whoever Googled this – I have no idea who you are or why you were searching for me and Kina, but you’re awesome.

I’ve written a few blog posts about the TV show Glee, but I’ve also included specific mentions of Harry Shum, Jr., one of the show’s stars who also happens to follow me on Twitter. Many of the Glee-related searches are incredibly amusing. People either want to find out about the characters or the personal lives of the show’s stars. “Does Jenna Ushkowitz smoke?” “Chord Overstreet virginity.” “Harry Shum Jr. braids.” “Meaning of Glee quote ‘I looked under the bed…'” “What Glee characters are virgins?” “Chord Overstreet drinking.” “Harry Shum Jr smokes.” “Is Harry Shum Jr religious?” “So ‘woof’ on Prop 15 meaning.” “Harry Shum Jr is he half.” What answers were people expecting to find on my site?

I wrote a review of Adele’s new album, 21, after I received a copy from my roommate. My review included a transcript from Adele’s video of “Someone Like You,” in which she tells a story of the song’s inspiration. My search term stats are riddled with numerous combinations of words and phrases from this video as people try to figure out exactly what Adele is saying. It’s not exactly easy to figure out what she’s saying in the video, and I can’t even guarantee that people are finding an accurate transcript on my site. Not everyone was looking for an accurate transcript, though. One person wanted to know if Adele had been left at the altar, and another person asked, “Why are Adele’s songs so sad?”

Single Adulthood/Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
I’ve written a few posts about being a single adult, and I wrote a few more about biblical manhood and womanhood in response to a series of discussions my church’s young adult group has been having on the topic. I’m not surprised that these search terms ended up on my site, but I am intrigued that someone (other than me) is actually searching for this topic. Some of the search terms include “what is singleness,” “singleness struggles,” “single in the church,” “woman was created from the rib of man,” “redefining singlehood,” “biblical womanhood,” single woman dreading engagement ring blog,” “complementarian women in the workforce,” “John Piper, a woman with a male secretary,” “singleness bitterness,” “50s cake mom,” “do christian men prefer the complementarian view or the egalitarian view in church leadership positions,” and my favorite: “woman make me a sandwich.”

– “Superman” – I have a photo of Superman in my gallery, but I can’t begin to imagine how many pages of search results those people had to click through until they got to my photo.

– Anything with “Cindy Agoncillo” in it – It’s fairly obvious how searching for my name would lead a person to my site, but I’m more interested in knowing exactly who is searching for me! Even searches with “Cindy” in it make me wonder if someone was searching for me specifically. When someone Googled “Asian Cindy YouTube,” were they looking for me? Was “Cindy Hollywood and Highland” a search for my photo, titled “Hollywood and Highland”? Who exactly searched for “Cindy Agoncillo is a Filipino”?

– “Chinese chicken noodle soup” – I have a really great story about this, but I doubt that’s what someone was looking for when they searched for the phrase online!

– “annoying goody goody boy characters on television” – I don’t know who is searching for this, but they probably ended up reading my post about the absence of “good kids” in today’s media.

– “‘Sally Esh’ Amish dinner cost” and “Amish dinner with Sally Esh” – I once at lunch at the home of Sally Esh, an Amish woman in Lancaster County, PA. I don’t know how much the meal cost, and I don’t know why anyone else would want to know.


Missing from the Media, Part 2: Christians, or Why It’s Okay to Like Us

In my last post, I wrote about the lack of good kids in today’s mainstream media, and just overnight, I have gotten great feedback from other good kids. They agree that TV characters aren’t as responsible or well-balanced as they used to be (oh, ’90s family programming, we miss you!), and we’d like to see characters whose behaviors and life choices resemble our own.

Personally, I have chosen to be a good kid because of my Christian faith. Like most (if not all) of the people who connected with my last post, I try to abstain from certain activities, behaviors, and attitudes in order to live a life that is pleasing to God. The Bible tells us, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). I try to glorify God by reflecting his goodness and holiness in my actions and decisions.

As I wrote yesterday’s post and thought about my reasons for being a good kid, I realized that the media also lacks positive or realistic portrayals of Christians. Whether it’s a fictional character or particular Christian individuals or groups in news coverage, Christians in media rarely provide a positive representation of Jesus-followers. If people are basing their opinions of Christians and Christianity on the media, it’s no wonder why people hate Christians.

Marguerite Perrin, known as “the God Warrior” from Trading Spouses

When people hear the word “Christian,” they might think of the Westboro Baptist Church, who tote “God Hates [fill in the blank]” signs and use tragedy as an opportunity to condemn homosexuality, Judaism, Italy, or Barack Obama. They might think of Harold Camping, who predicts the world will end on May 21, 1988 September 7, 1994 May 21, 2011 October 21, 2011. They might think of Glee‘s Quinn Fabray, the deviously vindictive head cheerleader who balanced teen pregnancy with her responsibilities as president of the Celibacy Club. Or they might think of the sheltered and naive Rod and Todd Flanders from The Simpsons. Christians in media are seen as judgmental hypocrites or just plain crazy and stupid.

Mother Teresa

But what are Christians really like? According to the old song, “they will know we are Christians by our love.” We are not out to hate the world but to love it. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). Not only does God love all people, He has commanded Christians to do the same. So when the media shows people who claim to love Jesus but hate everyone else, that’s not an accurate representation of what faith in Jesus is supposed to look like.

In the area of morality, media struggles to find a balance in its characterization of Christians. Fictional Christian characters are either naive or hypocritical. On one end of the spectrum, they are goody two-shoes who have been sheltered from a world of sin. On the other end, they disapprove of others’ actions while they are up to their eyeballs in identical immorality behind a facade of innocence. Most people are somewhere in the middle. We are not perfect, nor do we pretend to be.

If I could create a Christian character, it would be someone known for loving other people – all people. Someone who wouldn’t claim to be perfect but would still strive for moral integrity. Someone who stands by his or her convictions, whether it’s a matter of religious doctrine or moral standards, and respectfully disagrees with those who believe differently. Someone who is compassionate, generous, and kind. Perhaps someone who is passionate about social justice and doing something to change the world.

Apparently, Glee creator Ryan Murphy had plans in 2010 to create a Christian character for the second season. He told TV Guide, “We’ve taken a couple jabs at the right wing this year, so what I want to do with this character is have someone who Christian kids and parents can recognize and say, ‘Oh, look—I’m represented there, too!’ If we’re trying to form a world of inclusiveness, we’ve got to include that point of view as well.” Obviously, that plan didn’t come to fruition as fans prepare for the premier of the show’s third season, but Murphy hasn’t completely canned the idea. Winner of The Glee Project, Samuel Larsen, says that Murphy is considering casting him as an indie rocker that you wouldn’t expect to be a Christian but is.

If Christian characters on TV, like the one that Ryan Murphy might create for Glee, were more like the Christians I know (or what I believe a Christian to be), then people would realize it’s okay to like Christians. And if all Christians were more like the Jesus we claim to follow, then people would realize it’s okay to like Jesus, too.

Missing from the Media, Part 1: The Good Kid, or Why I Miss Chord Overstreet

Glee is known as a show that gives a voice to the outcast and underrepresented. The gay and lesbian community often praises the show for its positive and empowering portrayal and acceptance of homosexuality, especially in a high school setting. Thanks to Glee, I’m seeing more Asians on TV than I have since Margaret Cho’s short-lived All-American Girl was on the air. The Asian community, which is generally excited whenever a fellow Asian appears in mainstream media, is proud to be represented by Jenna Ushkowitz, Harry Shum Jr., Charice, and the Filipino half of Darren Criss.

Though Glee serves as “home” for many minority groups, I identify with one group that still struggles to find a place in mainstream media – even on Glee. The good kids. Nice kids. Teens or young adults who follow the rules and obey the law. People who stand by their personal convictions and principles. Frankly, we just don’t make for good TV, because everything that today’s shows are made of are things we try to avoid. We try not to lie, cheat, or steal. We don’t like gossip or petty fighting. We don’t smoke or do drugs. We don’t have casual sex. If we drink at all, we wait until we are 21 to start and don’t drink to the point of drunkenness.

Unless they are the subject of comedic ridicule or portrayed as religious fanatics, characters like this generally don’t exist. I can’t think of a character (on any show) who successfully resisted peer pressure (and wasn’t ashamed to do so) or whose decisions were shaped by principle instead of lessons learned “the hard way.” On Glee, characters either aren’t virgins or lie about their “v-card” status because they are ashamed of their virginity. Students and teacher alike pledge not to drink (until after their big competition, of course) only after humiliating incidents taught them the social consequences of alcohol and drunkenness. Chord Overstreet’s character of Sam Evans, whose v-card status is unknown, was probably the closest to a “good kid” I’ve seen on Glee, but with Overstreet’s departure from the show, good kids may have lost their champion.

I was a good kid in high school, and I maintain the same behavior as a young adult. I know I wasn’t the only high schooler who didn’t attend weekend house parties and raid parents’ liquor cabinets; I’m not the only young adult who chooses not to drink. And I’m not the only person with my v-card in tact. So if I’m not the only one out there, why are good kids hard to find in media?

Movies and TV have this great ability to let people know they’re not alone. Shows like Glee have shown people that being different is okay, whether it’s their sexuality, size, or skin color that distinguishes them from others. So why can’t Glee let the good kids know that their lifestyle is acceptable?

In real life, people try to make me feel like an oddity or try to make me feel bad about my life choices. They tease me about drinking and make me feel obligated to consume alcohol. They insist my standards are too high. They tell me I am not normal because of the way I live my life, but maybe if the media started to portray good kids more positively and more frequently, people would realize that this behavior is more normal than they realize.

P.S. I focused a lot on Glee in this post, because that show has developed such cultural significance for minority groups, but in doing so neglected one super awesome good kid on TV. Alexis Castle (Molly Quinn) on ABC’s Castle is so perfectly good (but not in an annoying, goody-two-shoes way) that viewers and characters wonder how she turned out the way she did with a father like Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion). She is responsible, mature, intelligent, and funny. She balances out the childishness of her father with a sensibility and maturity beyond her years. She is good, though not perfect (she once jumped a subway turnstile and tearfully confessed this offense to her dad). For good kids, Alexis Castle and Molly Quinn are like breaths of fresh air in the midst of a polluted Hollywood. I’m excited to have characters like Alexis Castle on TV and to have actors like Molly Quinn, who is also mature beyond her years, making a positive impact in the entertainment industry.

Next post: Missing from the Media, Part 2

Circumstances & Glee Episode 9: Wheels

The other night while driving through my neighborhood, I saw an old man, perhaps in his late 60s, getting into his car. He drove a dark green sedan, and on the roof of the car was a dimly lit “Papa John’s” sign. My first feeling was sadness as I wondered why this man had to deliver pizzas. Perhaps he was just laid off by the company he dedicated many years to, and in this rough economic period, pizza delivery was the only choice. Or perhaps he had retired last year only to discover that his pension is not enough to sustain him and his family. But then I realized, how can I make assumptions about this man’s circumstances? And who am I to pass judgment on the pizza delivery job as a “last resort” opportunity? I have no idea what this man’s story is, whether he drives that green sedan for extra income or for his own desire to spend his free time anywhere but in front of the TV.

People have their own stories, their reasons for what they do and who they are. There’s probably a reason why this one woman I know has been divorced at least twice, why that one boy at school always wears a super-long scarf, or why that beautiful girl everyone is jealous of thinks so poorly of herself. And from last week’s episode of Glee, we see that there is a reason why Tina stutters and why Sue would accept a girl with Down’s Syndrome onto the Cheerios (and perhaps a glimpse at why Sue is so negative and emotionally destructive).

Sure, things make a lot of sense when you hear the whole story, and that makes me curious about the big picture. But the bigger question here: should you treat others differently once you see the big picture? We might pity the boy with the scarf rather than consider him odd when the scarf transforms from a symbol of eccentricity to a memento of a lost loved one. Or maybe we deny Papa John compassion upon the discovery that his delivery job is an excuse to get out of the house and away from the family. Or we go from hating Glee villain Sue Sylvester to feeling sympathetic toward her. I guess what I’m really asking is this: If we loved others as we were called to love, why should circumstances change the way we view and treat other people?

*Sorry for not including quotes, as I normally do with my Glee posts. Having a job and being in the real world makes it harder to watch each episode at least twice, like I used to do.

Glee Episode #8: Mash-up

Word of the Day: Popularity. In “Mash-Up”, Finn and Quinn struggle with popularity, trying to figure out how to regain social status and whether or not it really matters. Or rather, trying to figure out what matters. This week, I’m changing things a bit in my blog. There were too many good quotes to comment only on the popularity-related ones.

“My weave!” – Mercedes
I laugh out loud every time I hear this line. Part of it is the delivery. The other part is my new understanding of Black hair thanks to Chris Rock promoting Good Hair on Oprah.

“Now that you’ve joined Lullaby Lees and sperminated the queen of the Chastity Ball and dropped below us hockey dudes on the food chain, it’s open season.” – Karovsky
It’s interesting how people think that having sex makes you cool. At the same time, though, teen pregnancy – one consequence of having sex in high school, can cripple a couple’s social status. And now that Finn and Quinn have lost status in the eyes of their peers, the hockey dudes finally find themselves as predators in the food chain. I like to think that there is something good in humanity that allows us to empathize with our fellow prey, but Karovsky proves that is not always true.

Emma: Yes, and Ken has convinced me that we need to at least be in the same room when the marriage is certified.
Ken: What can I say, I’m a traditionalist.
No Ken, you’re just normal and the only person in the relationship who actually wants to get married.

“This is a disaster. Our reputation as McKinley High’s ‘it’ couple is in serious jeopardy if we don’t find some way to be cool again, Finn.” – Quinn
The head cheerleader/football star combination is always the ‘it’ couple in high school. At my school, there was Craig and Ashleigh. I wasn’t friends with them or part of their crowd, so I don’t know how hard they tried to maintain their status. I don’t know if they felt their popularity was ever threatened. I do know that considering social status as most important turns something small like a slushee facial into a major disaster.

“There’s an important lesson to be learned with mash-ups. Sometimes things are so different they don’t feel like they go together. But the big difference between them is what makes them great. Like chocolate and bacon.” – Will
I enjoy a good mash-up, not just musically but also metaphorically. It’s like life, the way things come together and result in unexpected greatness. But I’m hesitant about chocolate and bacon. I’m tempted to try it and experience the big difference that makes it great.

“Status is like currency. When your bank account is full, you can get away with doing just about anything.” – Quinn
Money is currency. And when your bank account is full, you can get away with a lot then, too. Just ask all the celebrities who face no consequences for their offenses.

Finn: Totally! It’s like you can’t see their eyes, so they have all the power. I could be looking at your boobs and you’d have no idea.
Emma: Um, no – kids, look. The most important thing is that you be yourselves. Ok? So if people don’t like you for that, I’m sorry but who needs them?
1. It kinda creeps me out when I can’t see someone’s eyes through their sunglasses. And I am not surprised that Finn would take advantage of that and look at someone’s boobs.
2. Why is it so hard for people to be themselves? Is it the fear of rejection and judgment? I say that if people don’t like you for yourself, you don’t need their judgment. You don’t need to go out of your way to be what they want. But it doesn’t mean you don’t need them as a person since everyone has something to offer, and it doesn’t mean you should refuse to accept them for who they are.

“She didn’t wear it to her dance rehearsals, and the night of the wedding her husband kept stepping on the train. It was really bad. The fight was epic. The priest cried. They were divorced three months later. Actually, maybe I shouldn’t wear it.” – Emma
I guess Emma is hoping a bad dance will be her ticket out.

“I know. It’s whack. But I also remember what my history teacher told us last semester. Only Nixon can go to China. I have no idea what she meant, but it reminded me of when my family ordered Chinese food and sat down together for our traditional Simchas Torah screening of Schindler’s List.” – Puck
I missed the first half of this quote during the original broadcast of the episode because I was squealing too loudly and jumping up and down.

Puck: Are you questioning my badassness? Have you seen my guns?
Rachel: No. I’m sorry, but – your arms are lovely. But I just don’t see us working out.
Yes, his arms are lovely. And I will justify my crush on Puck with the fact that the actor, Mark Salling, is really 27. It’s like how everyone roots for Josie and Mr. Coulson to get together when they watch Never Been Kissed. It’s creepy that the teacher is flirting with a student who is supposed to be 17, but we think it’s okay because (dramatic irony!) we know she’s really 25.

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be popular. It just means you want people to like you. I think that’s healthy.” – Finn
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting friends. Friendship is healthy; changing who you are in order to form many surface-level relationships is not. There’s a difference between wanting to be liked and denying your true self to achieve that. There are people who are truly popular, who always act like themselves and have many friends. Those are the people who make me jealous. Not the stereotypical “cool” people whose friendships people use to climb the social ladder.

I hear people say, ‘That’s not how I define marriage.’ Well to them I say, ‘Love knows no bounds.’ Why can’t people marry dogs? I’m certainly not advocating intimacy with your pets. I for one think intimacy has no place in a marriage. I walked in on my parents once, and it was like seeing two walruses wrestling. So ‘Woof!’ on Prop 15, Ohio. And that’s how Sue “C’s” it.” – Sue
I find this more amusing than I should, probably because I just watched Jane Lynch in Best in Show, about dog competitions. And I’m about to finish my first week working for a company that produces dog grooming expos and magazines for dog groomers.

“Your commitment to football is about as long as your pants.” – Will
I was just thinking about Ken’s short shorts. Isn’t it supposed to be cold in Ohio?

“You and I and the whole world knows that I am just a consolation prize. How do you think that makes me feel? … Emma is settling for me, and I love her so much I don’t care. But it doesn’t mean I appreciate you coming with your Gene Kelly charm and getting high off of her fawning over you.” – Ken
I feel such sympathy, and sometimes empathy, for Ken. He’s really a good guy, so why doesn’t Emma see that?

Puck: No one deserves this feeling. You know what the worst part is? It’s not the burning in your eyes or the way the slushee drips all the way into your underpants. It’s the humiliation. I feel like I could burst into tears at any moment. Rachel, I’m sorry, but today when the clock strikes 3:30…
Rachel: You’re choosing football over glee, which means we probably can’t be together anymore.
Puck: Yes. Damn, I feel like such a bad Jew.
This scene (the whole episode, really) continued to melt my heart for Mr. Noah Puckerman. The sensitivity, the understanding, the vulnerability… *swoon* But my favorite part was at the end when he whipped a yarmulke out of his pocket.

Rachel: Are you sure about this, Noah? I mean, choosing us over the team means you might get a slushie in your face every day.
Puck: Bring it.
Artie: Where’s Finn?
Oh, Noah Puckerman. Such bravery and maturity in risking the humiliation that makes him want to cry. And Artie. The delivery of his line was subtly brilliant. It carried the perfect amount of sadness and naivete, like a kid eating steak, wondering where his pet Bessie could be.

Finn: If I don’t do it, the guys on the team are going to kick the crap out of me.
Kurt: Well we can’t have that, can we?
Finn: What are you doing?
Kurt: It’s called taking one for the team. Now get out of here! And take some time to think whether or not any of your friends on the football team would have done that for you… Someone get me to a day spa, stat!
Kurt, this is why everyone loves you. Such a good lesson about friendship.

Rod: You didn’t think that we were exclusive, did you?
Sue: That’s the only way I do it, Rod.
For some reason, I wouldn’t expect this of Sue. But I suppose if Sue wants something, she has to be the only one who gets it.

Will: These are the moments, Finn. The crossroads. The ones you look back on when you get old and think, ‘What if’.
Finn: I don’t buy that. I don’t think any one decision makes your life. Unless you accidentally invent some kind of zombie virus or something.
Will: No, you’re right. Life’s a series of choices. A combination of moments. Little ones that add up to big ones that create who you are.
In high school, I used to put too much emphasis on the weight my decisions had on my future. I stressed out about choosing classes and whether or not I could get a job if I took art in 9th grade instead of Spanish. But every moment is a part of who you are, whether it’s something life-changing or mundane. Unfortunately, I missed the poignancy of this scene when watching it on TV, because we were viewing it on a standard definition screen. On the wide shots, both Will and Finn were off the screen. We could hear the voices but could only see the goal post.

“If it is one minute late, I will go to the animal shelter and get you a kitty cat. I will let you fall in love with that kitty cat, and then on some dark cold night I will steal away into your home and punch you in the face.” – Sue

Will: I just can’t get those two songs to go together.
Emma: Yeah, it’s because they don’t. We both know that. They’re both good songs, though.
Will: Great ones.
If Emma could only see the value of the “Thong Song”, then maybe they could make it work! Try harder to make it work, Will.

Rachel: They’re delicious.
Kurt: And filled with empty calories. You know why they’re called slushees, don’t you? Because your butt looks like one if you have too many of them.
You are what you eat, I suppose.

“You’ve never been hit by a slushee before, Mr. Schue?” – Artie
The best part about this line is the way Artie slowly rolls his wheelchair toward Will as he speaks.