You’re a nail-biter, and your mother never ever loved you.




I’ve just thought of the perfect Halloween costume.

Ok, tasteless stereotyping and ridiculousness aside…..MONKEEMEN! I mean, look at them, it’s perfect.

The reason I’m so excited? If you couldn’t guess, it’s the fact that I can wear my glasses for a costume and IT WILL LOOK 100% ACCURATE. My whole life I’ve dealt with the classic glasses-wearer dilemma: how to effectively pull off a costume when you don’t wear contacts and your vision is too bad to forego the specs. Over the years I’ve tried to brainstorm appropriate costumes for myself: Woody Allen (Alex almost agreed to be Annie Hall if I would go as Alvy Singer), Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords (that one actually turned out pretty well), Mike Nesmith and his groovy 60’s sunglasses.

But now I can be an even more fun version of Mike Nesmith!!!

Although, there’s a good chance this could end up like last year, when I was so excited to be the cover of Rumours with Alex that I put a reminder on my calendar 10 months in advance…but by the time Halloween rolled around we ran out of time and defaulted to Star Trek costumes.

But you guys, I really think I could pull this one off.

How to be a detective

Sherlock Jr. was the first Buster Keaton film I ever saw (shoutout to Professor Kuntz’s History of American Motion Picture class, 2008!), but it was grossly overshadowed by The Kid, which we watched in the same session. I became a hopeless Chaplin fanatic after that, and it took a while for me to get as obsessed about Buster.

tumblr_mntsy4zgLd1rkn3x5o1_1280But recently I re-watched Sherlock Jr. and fell super in love with it. There are so many wonderfully clever scenes, like Buster becoming part of a movie, demonstrating some sweet billiards moves, and this wacky motorcycle chase scene.

While we’re on the topic, I feel like it’s worth noting the constant struggle to find silent movie clips with acceptable music…there are lots of videos with weird experimental scores that I imagine being uploaded for beginners’ composition classes. Either that or videos with corny organ music and goofy sound effects. I’m not a fan of the music in the motorcycle scene linked above, even though it seems to be one of the most frequently used “soundtracks” for Sherlock Jr. I actually rather liked this version with the Can Can…and not just because the title says “good music,” haha. It makes the scene more epic (if not slightly Looney Toon-esque), especially when he finally realizes there’s no one on the bike. Side note: how did cars work back then? Did you not need a key? Could you just jump into any old car and turn it on?

Anyway, point of this post is, I’m back to loving Buster again. I’m re-reading his autobiography and spent an entire morning crafting a fangirly Pinterest board. There’s still so many of his short films I haven’t seen (“two-reelers,” if you’re in the know) and luckily/dangerously for me, they’re almost all on YouTube.

I’ll leave you with this mind-blowing fan video, chock full of awesome stunts:

I’m starting a countdown

I just read Joseph Fink’s review and I’m so so pumped for the new Mountain Goats album (and the accompanying Fillmore show in June!).

I don’t love wrestling. But I love that this entire album is about it. I love that about so many of the Mountain Goats’ albums: something was ingrained in JD’s mind—something mattered so much—that it warranted 12(+) songs.

Here’s one of them:

There are certain things, places, and people that I feel exactly this way about. Here’s the closest, most relevant example I can think of. If I were an able songwriter, I would probably have enough feelings about the 1998-1999 San Diego Padres to fill an entire album. I could romanticize the breathtaking field-level view at my first baseball game, or the time Bondy and I giddily met Bruce Bochy in person at Qualcomm Stadium (you’re looking at an O.G. Bochy fan right here), or being 10 years old and organizing Topps cards in a plastic binder. Phil Nevin’s lucky number 23. Hell’s Bells. Winning the NL Pennant. That heartbreaking 4-0 sweep. It’s odd that these things would stir up so many feels (especially because I am the least sports-enthusiastic person I know), but they are rooted so deep in my memory that just looking at a ’98 roster gives me the warm fuzzies.


The great thing about so many Mountain Goats songs is how they perfectly capture those little scenes from childhood, or whenever. All those little buried details, making everything feel so familiar even if you didn’t experience it first hand. To quote the above linked review, “I think that the entire career of the Mountain Goats has been about giving names to nameless bodies, and remembering unremembered rooms. I can’t think of a more worthy cause.”

I can’t wait for this album.

A Playlist & Another Movie

I’ve been listening to a lot of classical mixes lately, and I’ll be darned if it hasn’t turned my commute into the most lovely part of the day. I think this kind of music is especially fitting in big cities like San Francisco, where each patch of neighborhood has its own musical personality. Golden Gate Park is Satie. Duboce Triangle is a Mozart piano concerto. Downtown is Gershwin, because I’ve watched one too many Woody Allen movies (and that movie is Manhattan).

Everything seems a little bit more timeless, a little bit more deliberate: buses somehow look graceful when you’re listening to a waltz, and everyone steps off the sidewalk in time when the streetlights turn green in FiDi. I love how music breathes life into every part of the city.

(A work in progress)

[Not-so-sneaky transition:] Speaking of personal soundtracks, I finally saw Birdman.

Hey guys, remember when I said Boyhood was my favorite movie of 2014, then changed my mind and said it was Whiplash? Yeah, I might have to do that again. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a movie lover’s movie, and perfect in almost every way. I loved how it was funny and unnerving and the same time, just surreal enough to keep you on your toes, and super immersive (the whole thing is made to look like one continuous shot).

And the music! Really cool drum score, plus bits and pieces from Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Mahler. Ugh, so good. After we got out of the movie we walked down Castro to get food and there was a string quartet playing in front of Cliff’s and I felt like if I turned around there’d be a camera following us, and we’d start speaking in perfectly-timed dialogue. Life has been so musical lately; I love it!

“Not quite my tempo”

Remember when I said Boyhood was my favorite movie of 2014? Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t see Whiplash until now, because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since seeing it yesterday.


More on that in a bit.

I’ve been able to catch up on a lot of movies over the holiday break. It worked out nicely because when I went home for the holidays, all of a sudden there were half a dozen movies I wanted to see, and like half a gazillion free Krikorian tickets available for my use. I was able to watch a lot of them, although still need to see Big Eyes (Christoph Waltz!) and Birdman.

A few that are worth watching:

The Imitation Game. I’m aware that the writers took liberties with parts of Alan Turing’s personality and life, but that’s kind of a given when it comes to Hollywood. I’m just glad they made the movie, because it’s a story that should be more well known, and I’m sure has led tons of people to read more about Turing, myself included. Props to the movies this year that celebrated science and nerdiness!

The Interview. Like many Americans over Christmas break, I bought and watched The Interview online rather than seeing it in the theater. Which is good, because I doubt I would’ve wanted to see the movie for $12, haha. Nevertheless, I’m glad I watched it. It starts out funny and then just gets uber bizarre at the end. [SPOILER ALERT] Case in point: Kim Jong-un’s face getting blown off while a stripped down version of Katy Perry’s “Firework” plays in the background. I was thinking about how outrageous some of it was, then realized it’s not that different from what Charlie Chaplin did in The Great Dictator. Chaplin basically turned Hitler into a joke: a dictator with an effeminate salute who falls down stairs and climbs up curtains. It was a bold thing to do and got people talking, and the same can be said for The Interview.

Whiplash. This movie in one word: WHOA. I immediately wanted to see Whiplash after a coworker mentioned it the other day; how had I not heard of it before? It currently has a very limited showing in SF, so we decided to see it at the (awesome) Clay Theater on Fillmore. I think everyone who has ever been a musician, artist, athlete, or performer of any kind should see this movie. You will be on edge the entire time.

The whole thing brought back really distinct feelings that I haven’t felt since playing in an ensemble: the intense passion for wanting to be good at something, the nauseating anxiety of being singled out (just the phrase “down the line” made my palms sweat), the competition and heart-pounding relief of success. I obviously never experienced anything as intense as in this movie, but I know what it feels like to be pushed to tears over trying to get something right, and Whiplash hit it on the nose. There were people in the theater laughing at some of Fletcher’s colorful insults, and I have a feeling those were the people who have never been in a room with a teacher yelling at them while anywhere from 20-150 pairs of eyes silently watch. Because unlike what those few audience members seemed to think, this was one of the darkest, most intense movies I’ve ever seen.

Like the movie suggests, verbal (and physical) abuse is a messed up form of motivation. It shouldn’t be effective yet somehow it often is. I won’t lie, watching the movie made me want to practice again, for nothing else than that feeling of devoting so much time to something that it becomes 100% yours (there was a time when playing mallets occupied every hour of my day; it was my thing). I think personally I miss the challenge, I miss having a teacher, I miss the constant ambition to get better. It’s fitting that I should see this movie on the first day of the new year, because now it makes me want to dedicate 2015 to getting that back.

(For the record, I believe that a good mentor offers a healthy, not lethal, dose of intimidation. You can only bleed on your instrument so much, I mean geez.)