Today I tried out Spotify’s Discover Weekly for the first time. For the uninformed, it’s a music discovery algorithm that takes songs you’ve listened to recently, finds playlists containing those songs, then chooses other songs from those playlists and presents them to you in a 2-hour bundle every Monday. It’s a surprisingly accurate way of finding music that I both really enjoy and haven’t heard before. Kudos, Spotify!
Favorite discoveries of the day included “If I Stay Too Long” by The Creation (could totally hear this in a Wes Anderson movie) and “Boy Blue” by ELO (I have a feeling there are a lot of ELO songs I’ve never heard but would really love).
But the major discovery was this gem, which I thought FOR SURE was a Rolling Stones deep cut until I looked at the artist name:
Nope, not the Stones covering Dylan. Just a lead singer who made it his goal to sound EXACTLY like Mick Jagger.
I looked them up; they’re a Bay Area band from the 60s who had a decent amount of success. Who knew?
. April 16.Record Store Day/Playland Music Festival. Record Store Day is one of my favorite days of the year, as long as I’m not at Amoeba (sooooo crowded). This time, I’m gonna check out the mini music festival going on in my hood, and pop into Noise while I’m there.
April 29.Contemporary Color @ Proxy. It’s happening, and it’s free!! David Byrne’s collab with WGI (along with St. Vincent, Tune-Yards, Ira Glass, and others) was made into a documentary, and it’s being shown at Proxy as part of the SF International Film Festival (also being shown at SFIFF: Soundbreaking and a 30th anniversary screening of Aliens). I cannot wait.
What else is going on this spring?? Please let me know about any other local events, musical or otherwise. I WANT TO GO TO ALL THE THINGS.
Happy Spring! Here are a bunch of pictures of David Byrne riding bicycles:
Also, an update on Contemporary Color: the documentary film is premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival next month! I hope it eventually makes it out to the masses…I’d love to watch more DB geeking out over colorguard.
A few other things:
Check out Human Ottoman. They are a Portland group who have played with the Timeshare on a few occasions, including last week’s show at the Starry Plough. Cello/drum/(electric)vibraphone madness.
Recently I bought tickets to see Paul Simon and Bob Dylan at the Greek (not together, although the shows are within a week of each other). Both tickets came with a free copy of their new albums, because apparently both Paul Simon and Bob Dylan have albums coming out this year?!
Hello darkness my old friend December. I’m back and happy to report that I finished NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row! And this time around, I wasn’t sick of my story by the end of the month, yay! So I’m actually going to keep working on it, which is a good feeling.
Besides novel-writing, I did do a couple of other things in November, which I’ve deemed appropriate enough for this blog:
Obsessing over Mad Men. Disclaimer: I’m very reluctant to commit to TV shows…In fact I’m pretty sure the only shows I’ve ever watched in their entirety are Arrested Development, Star Trek TOS, Seinfeld, and the Monkees. All these “Golden Age of Television” shows that people keep talking about? No interest. Even with multiple people telling me how much I’d love Mad Men, I still resisted, until a few months ago when I was bored and watched the first episode on a whim. And, as expected, I immediately became obsessed with the period details (the 60s are my spirit decade, after all) and the strange, fascinating, hot mess that is Don Draper.
The cast and writers of this show are great. I appreciate the fact that one episode can be simultaneously delightful and devastating (S04E07 and S05E12, I’m looking at you), and that I still can’t decide whether to love or hate Don. Yes, I understand the hype now. With about one and a half seasons left, I’ll probably be bingeing extra hard.
Watching The Beatles 1+ Deluxe DVD/Blu-ray. The day this came out, I called every record+DVD store in SF asking if it was in stock (it wasn’t). I spent an entire weekend trying to find it, until finally the Barnes & Noble in San Bruno saved the day. I’m usually not a fan of compilation albums, but 1 has a special place in my heart, because it was the CD that introduced me to the Beatles’ music. (And to be fair, it’s actually a really worthwhile collection of Beatles hits, many of which don’t appear on any of their albums.) This new reissue of 1 is especially exciting to me because it includes videos for all of the songs (plus a bonus DVD!) in really freaking high def. For example,
Among the silliness of the Beatles trying to maneuver their horses through an alleyway and randomly flipping a table, I think the shots of John walking down the street are beautifully poignant. It seems like they were well aware that their music and image had changed pretty dramatically after they stopped touring, and this was their way of presenting the “new” Beatles to the world. This article captures it perfectly.
Reading Season of the Witch. Oh wow, this is an incredible book about San Francisco. I originally checked it out from the library because I was interested in learning more about the city during the time that my parents lived there (it focuses on the late 60s, 70s, and early 80s). But it turned into a sort of holy bible for my NaNoWriMo story, which basically takes place within one block of San Francisco over the course of 100 years.
For being so gritty and dark (see: the Zebra murders, the Zodiac, the Peoples Temple, the SLA, Dan White), Season of the Witch was weirdly enlightening. I love learning the history of places, and in this case, learning about the people who helped shape San Francisco in the past half a century. Although the city has physically changed over the years and will continue to change, I think the heart and soul of San Francisco has stayed intact. It’s a place of ambition, eccentricity, and unrest. If there’s one thing I learned from reading this book, it’s that there will always be things worth fighting for in this city, and that’s what I love about living here.
For December, I’m predicting: lots of Mad Men feels, rain, novel-revising, and a new hair-do??!
Funny how the seasons change exactly when you want them to.
I was so ready for cold weather and rain and early nights, and now that it’s November, here they are all at once! My summer-obsessed self finds it hard to believe I could feel so happy walking down Market in my puffy jacket and scarf, carrying an umbrella just in case. Yet here I am, bundled up on my bus ride home, secretly enjoying the 5pm darkness because it means I can creepily look into everyone’s beautiful San Francisco homes as they start decorating for the holidays.
November also means NaNoWriMo, a.k.a. my attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in a month, a.k.a. my becoming a complete hermit for 30 days. So far, I’m staying on track, just barely:
I generally average just enough words per day before I reward myself with an episode (or two) of Mad Men because IT’S 2015 AND I’M FINALLY OBSESSED WITH MAD MEN. More on that later….probably in December.
Anyway, this was just a short PSA to let you know I might be on a month-long hiatus while trying to churn out a novel (or something like it). I’ll let you know how it goes.
Ok, clearly I am not interested in publishing blog posts in sensible intervals. Sorry for the rather spastic blogging recently, but certain things are really exciting me right now and I can’t keep it in. Namely, a collaboration between my most recent musical hero David Byrne, and an activity I love dearly: WGI.
To be clear, I was always involved in the percussion division of WGI, but winterguard is the OG “sport of the arts” and it’s so cool to see it getting some unique recognition!
When Byrne agreed to lend a composition to a high school performance team back in 2008, he knew little about the color guard phenomenon, which is wildly popular in high schools across the North American continent. … At the time, Byrne’s only request was to see for himself how his music was used. Upon viewing an electrifying DVD of the Winter Guard International’s World Championship, the creative seed for Contemporary Color was planted. “I was stunned at what I was seeing,” Byrne recalls, “and being a musician I naturally wondered to myself: what if these performances had really great live music? Wouldn’t that lift it to another level?”
You mean, like drum corps? :) Seriously, though, it makes my heart sing that he would be so interested in the activity to want to collaborate with WGI. It’s awesome that he asked to see the performance in the first place. I am almost done reading Byrne’s book How Music Works and it’s cool to see that throughout his career, music and the visual arts have been consistently intertwined. And that’s the special thing about WGI and DCI, it’s art and music and athleticism all at once.
“I’d never seen anything like it,” Mr. Byrne said. “Because it was in an arena, I could tell that this was a hugely popular thing, but completely unknown to 98 percent of New Yorkers.” – NYTimes
Story of our lives! Here is a throwback video of the colorguard I am most familiar with, Fantasia from good ol’ Riverside, CA:
I would love it if anyone could share with me their favorite WGI videos from the past few years. I’m still stuck in 2009. (PS – not every WGI show has a large monolith in it. I just happened to pick two monolith-centric shows, haha.) Anyway, I guess it’s unlikely that I’ll be in the New York area at the end of June, but if I am, you’ll know where to find me………
I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions. I like the idea, but it never really makes a difference in my short- or long-term goals. I guess that could be said for a lot of the things I try to get inspiration from (womp womp).That said, I still made plenty of resolutions this year (because I guess I never learn!). Many of them don’t really pertain to this blog. But, there are a few that I think are relevant, and I’m listing them here:
Read more. Somewhere along the line I lost the attention span for reading, which is a huge bummer. But I’m determined to get it back, coupled with my “spend less time mindlessly browsing the Internet” attempt.
Reading is important simply because: without a constant input of words, I lose inspiration and stop writing. And I don’t want that to happen! It doesn’t matter if it’s novels, short stories, biographies, news…I just want to read more, learn more, know more.
On that note, I recently used an Amazon gift card to get Mark Lewisohn’s Beatles biography, Tune In, and it has been amazing so far (944 pages focused ONLY on the Beatles before they were famous). If you ever wanted to know every single ailment Ringo had as a child, this is the book for you.
Listen to more records. Exactly what it sounds like, records being the key word. Alex and I have lived in 4 apartments together and each time our poor record player seemed to get less and less use (actually, in the last apartment it was never even set up; there was no room!).
But that ends now! We just recently put the finishing touches on our new system and finally pulled our records out of storage, and re-listening to all my favorites on vinyl has been one of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day.
Our trusty record player
Re-do the blog. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, but didn’t know exactly how to go about it. But now I have some concrete goals.
The first is to come up with a new name. “Electric Kool-Aid” is 60s psychedelia at its finest (look up Tom Wolfe titles if you are unfamiliar), but it’s a name that I picked over 5 years ago without too much thought. I’d like to find a name that’s a little less wacky, a little more relevant.
The next big step is to move to WordPress (sorry, Blogger!). Over the years I’ve found that Blogger is limiting in a lot of ways (mostly layout and formatting for me), while WordPress allows for much more versatility. Plus, WP is more sleek and sophisticated overall. I have no doubt it’ll be a tough move, but hopefully the end result will be much better!
And lastly, I want to write more in this blog, which is something that will happen if I succeed with all the above goals. I guess that gives you guys—my two/three readers—a way to track my progress. Feel free to keep me in check! I hardly ever get comments on this thing, so even a “HEY WHY DON’T YOU UPDATE ANYMORE” is welcome.
Note: This post is a slight deviation from my normal fangirly endeavors, so bear with me.
Tonight I watched a very interesting documentary called Happy.
It taught me—among many other things—that Denmark has the happiest people in the world per capita (reasons for this could be free education and health care for life, as well as co-housing, which creates communities through shared land and facilities). It also taught me that Okinawa, Japan is basically a paradise where old Asian grandmas live and I want to go to there:
Seriously, maybe I’m biased, but old Japanese ladies are just the best.
Okinawa is a surprising contrast to the unhappy culture of many other parts of Japan, where so many people die of work-related stress that there’s actually a word for it (“karoshi” – how terrifying).
By talking with people from all over the world, the filmmakers pointed out that the factors which measure happiness vary immensely from country to country. For example, a rickshaw puller in India explained how grateful he was to have a house that kept out the rain and neighbors he could talk to, whereas the average American with a steady income and 3 bedroom house might report being depressed or unsatisfied.
Anyway, Happy is an inspiring documentary. I imagine it’d be hard to make a film like this without crossing the boundary into “cheesy, sentimental” territory, but for the most part, Happy managed a good balance between the educational and the emotional (I still cried at parts, but whatevs). If you have Netflix Instant Watch, I would definitely recommend saving it to watch sometime.
This is the last song that plays on the last episode of Freaks and Geeks (which, by the way, is an amazing show – why was it cancelled??). I was already feeling all the feels because of everything that happens in the last episode, then they went ahead and played this song and I just melted.
If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung, Would you hear my voice come thru the music, Would you hold it near as it were your own?
It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken Perhaps they’re better left unsung. I don’t know, don’t really care Let there be songs to fill the air.
Ripple in still water, When there is no pebble tossed, Nor wind to blow.
Reach out your hand if your cup be empty, If your cup is full may it be again, Let it be known there is a fountain, That was not made by the hands of men.
There is a road, no simple highway, Between the dawn and the dark of night, And if you go no one may follow, That path is for your steps alone.
Ripple in still water, When there is no pebble tossed, Nor wind to blow.
You who choose, to lead must follow But if you fall you fall alone, If you should stand then who’s to guide you? If I knew the way I would take you home.
Fun fact: I literally live two blocks away from the Grateful Dead house and the heart of Haight Ashbury, and incredibly, I sometimes forget it. Now that the evenings are lighter and it’s finally getting to the point where I don’t have to bundle up in a gigantic coat and scarf every day, I want to spend more time out in the neighborhood, exploring the streets that made me fall in love with San Francisco in the first place.
Another fun fact: when I was a baby, one of my first “stuffed animals” was a plush Jerry Garcia doll, courtesy of my Uncle Bill (a close family friend). Does that automatically make me the coolest baby ever? I still have that doll somewhere….
So I didn’t get to watch the Grammys live last weekend (hooray for no cable), but I did come across this video and thought it was blog-worthy.
As far as I know, Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar have never really appeared together on TV (they are half-sisters who didn’t meet until they were teenagers). The result is an adorably heartfelt and awkward video:
Major props to Anoushka and Norah – I’m a big fan of both and I think it’s awesome they each went down very different musical paths and have been so successful.