Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best of 2008

The year is over. Time for some Best of Lists. Leave some comments in the replies if you think I should check out something I may have missed this year. Unless numbered, everything is in alphabetical order. 

Top 15 Albums
Bloc Party – Intimacy 
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago 
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound 
Gentleman Auction House – Alphabet Graveyard 
Girl Talk – Feed the Animals  
Jack's Mannequin - The Glass Passenger  
Los Campesinos - Hold on Now, Youngster... 
Lydia – Illuminate 
The Matches - A Band in Hope   
MGMT – Oracular Spectacular 
Phantom Planet – Raise The Dead
Radiohead – In Rainbows 
Right Away, Great Captain - The Eventually Home
Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell 
Valencia - We All Need a Reason to Believe

Honorable Mentions

Anathallo – Canopy Glow
Beck - Modern Guilt 
Colour Revolt - Plunder, Beg and Curse 
Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs 
Good Old War - Only Way to Be Alone 
The Hold Steady – Stay Positive 
Islands – Arm’s Way 
Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground – S/T 
Los Campesinos - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed 
Mates of State – Re-arrange Us 
Ray LaMontagne - Gossip in the Grain 
Thrice - Alchemy Index (3 & 4) 
Titus Andronicus – The Airing of Grievances 
TV on the Radio - Dear Science
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

Top EPs:

Manchester Orchestra - Let My Pride Be What's Left Behind 
Stars – Sad Robots 
Straylight Run - Un Dos Mas 
Thursday / Envy – Split 
You, Me, and Everyone We Know - So Young, So Insane   

Favorite Mixtapes: 
Diplo and Santogold - Top Ranking: A Diplo Dub 
Wale – The Mixtape About Nothing

I still have a list of about 100 albums to listen to that came out this year, so I imagine this list will change in a couple of months.

Top Movies

  1. Dark Knight
  2. Slumdog Millionaire
  3. Milk
  4. Tropic Thunder
  5. Cloverfield
  6. Iron man
  7. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

I’m usually behind on movies because I wait to Netflix most films. What should I add to my Netflix queue?

Top Tours:

1.  Say Anything, Manchester Orchestra, Biffy Clyro, Weatherbox @ Avalon 3/13 
2. Jesse Lacey (of Brand New), Kevin Devine, Brian Bonz @ Roxy 7/21 
3. RX Bandits, Kay Kay and the Weathered Underground, & Portugal. The Man @ Troubadour 9/16 
4. KROQ Almost Acoustic Xmas Night 2 @ Gibson 12/14 
5. Jack’s Mannequin, Eric Hutchinson @ Troubadour 11/4 
6. The Who, Flaming Lips, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Incubus, Tenacious D @ UCLA 7/12 
7. Person L, Anthony Green, Good Old War @ Troubadour 8/20 
8. Nico Vega @ the Hammer 7/3 
9. Titus Andronicus & No Age (Free) @ Troubadour 12/2 
10. Colour Revolt, Night Marchers @ the Echo 9/3 
11.  Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley) @ the Echo 9/12

Thing I Miss Most about Orange County:

1. Bagels and Brew in Mission Viejo and Lake Forest

2. Free Parking Everywhere

Most Anticipated Releases of 2009:

  1. Manchester Orchestra (Spring)
  2. Brand New
  3. Weatherbox (3/3)
  4. Say Anything
  5. Moneen
  6. Radiohead
  7. Arcade Fire
  8. Two Tongues (Say Anything & Saves the Day - Spring)
  9. Set Your Goals
  10. Kevin Devine
  11. Fun (The Format, Steel Train - February)
  12. Blikk Fang (MGMT & Of Montreal)
  13. Cursive 
  14. Jimmy Eat World
  15. Bright Eyes
  16. Saves the Day
  17. Against Me!
  18. The Dear Hunter
  19. I Am the Avalanche
  20. The Decemberists (3/24)
  21. Animal Collective (1/20)
  22. Ace Enders
  23. New Found Glory (3/10)
  24. Antony and the Johnsons (1/20)
  25. Morrissey (2/17)
  26. Battles
  27. Architecture in Helsinki
  28. Silversun Pickups
  29. Thursday (2/17)
  30. Tegan and Sara
  31. Four Year Strong (June)
  32. Biffy Clyro
  33. Mute Math (March)
  34. Fireworks (3/24)
  35. Lilly Allen (2/10)
  36. Portugal. The Man (June)

Motion City Soundtrack? The Matches? Radiohead? 

I also just want to say thank you to all of my wonderful friends. I have so many amazing memories of 2008 and it's because of all of you. Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe time rining in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Milk & Prop. 8

Today I went to see the movie Milk with my mother. Sean Penn gave a truly wonderful performance, and I was quite impressed with my fellow Bruin James Franco's performance as well. The movie really moved me (OK, I will admit it publicly here that I was in tears twice during the movie) and it led to a great discussion with my mother afterwards.

She goes to Saddleback Church (the one with pastor Rick Warren who has the left and the gay community all up in arms about being selected by Obama to give the invocation at the inauguration) and has had a difficult time reconciling what I consider her natural inclination to be an accepting person with what she hears at Church. Since she started a few years ago going to church functions several times a week, she's become much more conservative in her views. I try to avoid discussing politics and religion with her for the most part because I think her Christianity is a very important part of her life and her friends there provide a great support system for her.

When my mother came to visit me at school a few weeks ago, she wanted to discuss the election. To my surprise, she voted for Obama. She was upset with how the Republicans handled the bailout vote, and went to the public library and re-registered as a Democrat. When we got to talking about the propositions, she voted mostly the same as I did, with Prop. 8 as the notable exception. I shouldn't have been surprised that she voted for Prop. 8 since Rick Warren was very vocal about his opposition to the measure and has compared gay marriage to pedophilia, bestiality, and polygamy. Still, I was a little disappointed.

At first, my mother said that she voted for Prop. 8 because of the involvement of the courts. After I pressed her on that a little, she said it was a freedom of speech issue (some nonsensical argument Warren was pushing). After engaging in some detailed debate about these issues, I was surprised to see that I made a breakthrough with her. And it was simple. She said that she wasn't against homosexuality and wouldn't mind if I was gay. I immediately said in response, "So, you're OK with me being gay, as along as I didn't want to get married?" When she realized that this wasn't about some lofty discussion about technicalities but about real people, about sons and daughters, she started to rethink it.

When the lights came on at the end of the film, she turned to me and said that she wishes she could change her vote on Prop. 8. She saw a movie that showed these sons and daughters facing terrible discrimination because of who they were; sons and daughters who had to fight to keep their jobs, had to fight for their lives because of the same prejudices and fears that lead to the passage of Prop. 8. The movie even took a couple of shots at Orange County for being so homophobic in the '70s (not much has changed).

I highly recommend Milk for everyone. After the movie, I needed some lighter fare to lift my moods. The theatre here in Holden, MA is unique. It's got over a dozen screens like most places in Orange County, but it's got some decent food options inside. I grabbed some tasty chicken fingers and grabbed a big comfy chair there and thumbed through the New York Times and Wall Street Journal before heading into see Quantum of Solace. It was quite enjoyable, but average. I was happy, however, to hear that my mother also loved Slumdog Millionaire. So do yourself a favor and add Milk and Slumdog Millionaire to your must-see list because they are two of the best movies I've seen this year.

Round-up of Critics' Lists of this Year's Best Movies

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Day in Boston

After only a few hours of sleep, I dragged myself out of bed to take the commuter train into Boston with my mother. The train was almost completely empty (and super slow because of snow-related malfunctions), but this man set next to me and my mother and this woman my mother was talking to. I can only assume he didn't take one of the other empty seats because he was in the mood for company. I soon put down my magazine and took off my headphones to find out that he was a professor of political science and engineering at MIT. Really interesting guy and pretty awesome credentials. He gave me some advice on grad school (he did get his Ph.D in Poli Sci from Harvard) and was just really fun to talk to. Needless to say, this was a pretty good start to my day.

After I got into the city, I jumped on the T (Boston's subway) and headed over to Faneuil Hall to grab some of the best clam chowder I've ever had. The bread bowl at the Boston Chowda Co. filled me up and satisfied my craving for a taste of New England. After this unorthodox breakfast, I jumped back on the T to Harvard Square. After lots of walking around Cambridge, I headed over to the Kennedy School of Government for a nice tour individual tour of the campus by a current MPP (Masters of Public Policy) student. It's a beautiful area and of course the program sounds absolutely amazing. The tough question: Is it worth the $65k a year for tuition & expenses?

After the tour, I grabbed a sandwich and a cup of coffee at Crema Cafe in Cambridge. I had a tasty chicken sandwich with spinach and artichoke.

I then stopped by my favorite record store Newbury Comics and bought 7 CDs. Got some used CDs: 2 Straylight Run albums for $4 each, Silversun Pickups, Taking Back Sunday's Tell All Your Friends -their first and the only album by them that I still enjoy. Also got a couple of new CDs because they were $10 and included a live DVD: In Our Bedroom After the War by Stars and the Manchester Orchestra EP.

I did a little more exploring of Boston and took the commuter train back. Time to go back to researching public policy schools.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Economist Round-Up

On my flights from Orange County to Chicago to Providence, I was able to catch up on a few issues of the Economist that started to pile-up because of finals. Here are a few things that I thought others might find interesting:
Must-read: Where Have All Your Savings Gone?

Any American who has diligently put $100 a month into a domestic equity mutual fund for the past ten years will find his pot worth less than he put into it. The Asians’ parsimony made the Anglo-Saxons’ profligacy possible. Through their increasingly sophisticated financial systems, the Americans and British were able to borrow from the thrifty Asians to finance their spending spree. And, because their house prices were rising so fast, they had the collateral and the confidence to do so.

If savers treated financial assets as they do other goods, they would sell them when they are expensive and buy them when they are cheap. Actually, they do the opposite.
The average American scheme member contributes just 7.8% of salary to his pension scheme. His employer, on average, contributes only 4.4%. He has a pot worth only $68,000. A rule of thumb is that total contributions need to be around 20% of wages to match a traditional final-salary scheme. Inadequate savings, badly invested, are a problem for individuals and the economy. Cautious savers are putting their money in banks; banks are reluctant to lend; companies therefore find it hard both to borrow money and to raise equity capital. This timidity hurts companies and, in the long term, savers. Implausible as it may sound, right now equities and corporate bonds are a better long-term bet than cash.

Space Solar Power:

DNA Databases: "Of some 40 states that have their own databases, only California allows permanent storage of DNA profiles of those who are charged but then cleared"

Facebook Connect: "A new button is appearing on some websites. It says “Facebook Connect” and saves visitors from having to fill out yet another tedious registration form, upload another profile picture and memorise another username and password. Instead, visitors can now sign into other sites using their existing identity on Facebook."

I've been talking about this for over a year, but hopefully more studies will convince legislatures to alter their laws. Studies are showing that when people talk on the phone while driving, even hands-free, their driving is impaired. However, reaction times and driving ability are not impaired when talking to a passenger in the car, especially when the passenger can play a role by commenting on surrounding traffic.

Good article about the challenges facing Obama soon when it comes to the environment

One of the most chilling things I've read in awhile is from this article about preventing genocide: "The most upsetting sight was that of small skulls which, unlike the larger ones around them, were mostly incomplete. Babies’ jawbones tend to break off when clubbed."

Special Report on India:

"India has 60m chronically malnourished children. 40% of the world's total." It is also facing a huge demographic crisis. Every year, 14m Indians are being added to the labour market. Half of India's people are under 25 & 40% under 18. An underinvestment in education means most are unskilled and if India cannot find employment for them, then poverty will not be reduced and India will face instability.

Also, India's politics are a little insane to me. The current government was a coalition of about 13 parties. This still wasn't enough for a majority, so they recruited outside support from another 5 parties, including the "Left Front," a coalition of Communist parties. The Communists stopped everything, but they walked out of the government, but the polity is so fragmented that it is hard for them to get anything done.

Speaking of insane, police are having a hard time dealing with the anarcists leading the riots in Greece. The reason: "The anarchists have also exploited a constitutional loophole that bans police from university campuses. As a result, demonstrators can regroup behind barricades at the Athens Polytechnic and pick up fresh supplies of petrol bombs before heading back onto the streets."

Happy Hanukkah!

This is dedicated to all of my Jewish friends out there. I wish I could make it over to Aaron J.'s this year because I have some good memories lighting my own menorah there and I am always in the mood for some good latkes. However, this year I at least get to celebrate with my good friend Andrey in NY (26-28). Hopefully we'll find time to see the lighting of the World's Largest Hannakuh Menorah. It's 32 feet tall!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Random Stuff

  • I've been into photography lately. Here's a cool selection of photographs from throughout the year
  • Oh, Australia: "After rude behavior in state legislatures, the call goes out again to curtail drinking and even to initiate breathalyzer tests for members of parliament"
  • Cool Video the History of the Middle East in 90 Seconds
  • International Council on Security and Development: "The Taliban, which controlled 54% of Afghanistan in 2007, now controls about 72% of the country"
  • Ugh. "Prop. 8 supporter Rick Warren of Saddleback Church will give the inaugural invocation." I remember going there when the church first started. It didn't even have a building yet, it was only a big tent. On Easter one year they had the adults outside and let the kids in the big tent for a magician show. My Mother still goes there & tries to drag me when I'm in town.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

KROQ Almost Acoustic Xmas

I was lucky enough to have been invited to Night 2 of KROQ's Almost Acoutic Xmas. Thanks to Aaron I., I was even able to get into the VIP section, grab a free drink and some finger food, and watch Death Cab for Cutie be interviewed on air. It was a great show and well worth making me getting an extension for my last final that was supposed to be due Monday at 3 pm. It was at the Gibson Amphitheater and the sound was great. I think the last time I was at a venue of that size was during the summer when I saw The Who with Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Incubus, Tenacious D, and the Flaming Lips. 

The line-up was as follows:
Vampire Weekend (Awesome way to start the show. This year's most buzzed about band)
Snow Patrol (Better than I expected)
Scott Weiland (Terrible. Most of the crowd cleared out to get drinks)
Franz Ferdinand (Fun live show)
Paramore (They turned me from a skeptic into a fan overnight)
Death Cab for Cutie (I'm glad that I've finally got to see them)
The Killers (Should of headlined because got the crowd going and high energy)
The Cure (Not the most engaging show, but great to see the legendary Robert Smith)

Aaron and I were trying to guess with a couple of people from KROQ management who the headliner would be because I guess this year they actually tried really hard to keep it a secret. Lots of names were thrown out (AC/DC, Axl Rose, Fall Out Boy, even Metallica), but we were all wrong. It was no other than Kanye West. I was pleasantly surprised because I'd probably never pay to go see Kanye live, but I've got a lot of respect for him and I greatly enjoyed his set. 

From the OC Register:

Surrounded by a four-piece band and eight Japanese taiko drummers, all dressed in riot gear, the hip-hop superstar set aside his rampant self-importance to earnestly dazzle with just four songs: the Daft Punk-infused "Stronger," and the lovesick regret that pours through "Homecoming," "Heartless" and "Love Lockdown," the latter two delivered much more vibrantly than on Kanye's one-dimensional breakup album, "808s & Heartbreak."

Other observations:
1. The guy right next to us asked his girlfriend to marry him during Snow Patrol. She said yes.
2. The douchebag guy in front of us (about 18 years old?) kept trying to stick his hands down the pants of the girl he was with. He also kept putting his arm around her, but mostly just kept hitting my leg with his arm.
3. Lots of high school kids being super annoying. Two guys kept trying to get these two girls they came with to make-out with each other. Instead they decided to freak with each other and be obnoxious. So many more stories I can tell about them...
4. The only people around us that weren't bothersome were the ones to our right, smoking weed throughout the whole night

What a great night.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Laptop

After 4.5 years, it's finally time to retire my Toshiba Satellite laptop. It's treated me well, but it sure is super slow now with no battery life. After lots of research and getting lucky with a sale directly from the manufacturer, I bought a Lenovo Thinkpad SL400. My friend Matt convinced me to max out the RAM and upgrade the processor, so hopefully this laptop will be good to me for the next few years. It's not the sexiest looking laptop, but it is supposed to be fast and reliable, especially for the price (Every review also mentions how awesome the Thinkpad keyboards are. Cool I guess?). 

I just can't wait until the mail room opens after the new year and I can start organizing and transferring over all my files and music. Finally I will have a laptop again I can take to class!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Prop 8 - The Musical

Starring my favorites: Neil Patrick Harris, Jack Black, Allison Janney & Sarah Chalke

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


The recession was officially announced today, but this is how I knew it was coming:

"You know times are tough when the rich start cutting costs on their mistresses. According to a new survey by Prince & Assoc., more than 80% of multimillionaires who had extra-marital lovers planned to cut back on their gifts and allowances. Still, only 12% of the multimillionaire cheaters said they plan to give up on their lovers altogether for financial reasons."

Richard Posner's summary of the problems facing current Conservatism:

'The financial crisis has hit economic libertarians in the solar plexus, because the crisis is largely a consequence of innate weaknesses in free markets and of excessive deregulation of banking and finance, rather than of government interference in the market. Believers in a strong foreign policy have been hurt by the protracted and seemingly purposeless war in Iraq (the main effects of which seem to have been discord between the United States and its allies, increased recruitment of Islamic terrorists, and the strengthening of Iran and of the Taliban in Afghanistan and of al Qaeda in Pakistan) and the Bush Administration’s lack of success in dealing with Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. And social conservatives have been hurt by the stridency of some of their most prominent advocates, who all too often give the appearance of being mean-spirited, out-of-touch, know-nothing deniers of science (e.g., evolution, climate change)."

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Came across this interesting idea:

Yesterday I called a woman’s spouse her boyfriend.
She says, correcting me, “He’s my husband,”
“Oh,” I say, “I no longer recognize marriage.”
The impact is obvious. I tried it on a man who has been in a relationship for years,
“How’s your longtime companion, Jill?”
“She’s my wife!”
“Yeah, well, my beliefs don’t recognize marriage.”
Fun. And instant, eyebrow-raising recognition. Suddenly the majority gets to feel what the minority feels. In a moment they feel what it’s like to have their relationship downgraded, and to have a much taken-for-granted right called into question because of another’s beliefs.
Recent Car Crash in LA:
"I know a lot of black churches take offense when gay activists say that the gay movement is somehow analogous to the black civil rights movement. And while there is some relationship between the persecution of gays and the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, I think the true analogy is to the women's movement. What we represent as gays in America is an alternative to the traditional male-structured society. The possibility that we can form ourselves sexually -- even form our sense of what a sex is -- sets us apart from the traditional roles we were given by our fathers."

And finally, do yourself a favor and see Slumdog Millionaire. Easily my second favorite movie of the year (#1 being The Dark Knight, of course).

Monday, November 24, 2008

RIP Phantom Planet

Phantom Planet announced today that they will be going on "indefinite hiatus" after their show at the Troubadour December 12. I really want to go to this show, but that's the day I have to close out the building for winter break and pretty much the hardest day to get off of RA duty. I saw them play for free at Bruin Plaza last year and their last album was great. They will be missed. Do yourself a favor and stream their lastest album.

In happier news: A deal for an Arrested Development movie is almost done.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Updated Indie Playlist

One Song Per Indie Artist That I've Been Listening To. Enjoy.

Favorite Musicals

List of Musicals I've Seen Live In A General Order of Preference (Excluding high school performances):

1. Assassins - "Everybody's Got the Right to be Happy"
Ballad of Booth w/ Neil Patrick Harris:

2. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
3. Rent
4. Avenue Q
5. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (with Sebastian Bach)
6. Urinetown
7. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (It's quite new)
8. Phantom of the Opera (several times)
9. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
10. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
11. 9 to 5
12. Side Show
13. La Boheme (Opera produced by Baz Luhrmann)
14. Cats
15. Spring Awakening
16. Movin' Out
17. Wicked
18. Jersey Boys

Favorite Musical Movie:
Fiddler on the Roof

Musical I Most Want to See:
Les Miserables

Worst Musical Movie:
High School Musical

Friday, November 21, 2008

An Afternoon at the Gym

I haven't been going to the gym as much lately as I would like. I need to go back to my schedule of going every other day. Usually when I go to the gym, I go straight to the weights. However, I look forward most to jumping on a treadmill, putting on my headphones (almost always with Set Your Goals playing), and just concentrating on the music and getting out of my own head. After 30 minutes or so, I start my walk back to the dorms and enjoy the runner's high.

Today, however, I couldn't get out of my own head on the treadmill. I couldn't help but focus on everything that's been on my mind the past few days whenever I got a few moments alone. I started walking up the hill to De Neve, enjoying the endorphins being released in my brain, and noticed the beautiful sky. I stopped by LATC to stare at the sunset, but it started going out of view so I continued my walk to De Neve.

I felt great from the run but still a little unsatisfied because my mind had been working too hard. I decided to walk into the De Neve quad to get a better view of the sunset. The buildings were obstructing my view a little, so I kept walking. I ended up walking all the way past Veteran, just trying to focus on the beautiful sky while still allowing myself to reflect a little. Aware of the combination of exhaustion and endorphins runnings its toll on my brain, I just kept walking in pursuit of the perfect view of the sunset. However, no matter how fast I walked, I couldn't keep up with the setting sun. I needed this time to myself, but I just wish I could experience this more often.

I didn't mean for this blog to always be about music, but it's hard when so much of how I deal with events, feelings, and thoughts are connected to music. Here is the Weatherbox song I listened to a couple times on my walk that helped bring me a short-lived sense of clarity.

The Clearing - Weatherbox

"10 picket fences for 10 perfect houses
with green little gardens lined up in a row
I walked past the gardens and into the trees
And I found myself rather lost
And I picked a nice clearing I dropped to my knees
I said I will get home at any cost

But they found me in the snow, Icicles on all my clothes
Surrounded in the splinters of 10 picket fences for 10 perfect houses
There shattered and scattered all across the road
I stand and I look at the wreckage around me, I whistle and turn
I start walking home

And it's back through the gardens and through the same trees
to the clearing I passed out in before
And I threw up my hands to admit my defeat
When the chemicals erupted once more
And the clearing grew and began to bend

And all the sun light started pouring in
And you walked up, all bathed in white
And you stripped me naked
You held me tight

But they found me in the snow
Icicles on all my clothes
Surrounded in the splinters"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tortures of the Damned

"I'm Burnt Out at 22"

"I've made mistakes, but I'll find my way. No explanation for the things I've failed at before. They can't hold my hand. It just hurts to be a man, through the tortures of the damned."

Tortures Of The Damned - Bayside

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Dreams

I put the Weatherbox record on today after Aaron J. mentioned it. Sometimes this record really takes me away to a different place, while other times it just helps me dwell on my day to day existence. One of my favorite lines on this record is from the song "The Dreams" (sidenote: I've also been having some really weird dreams lately).

"I can't abide by rules which are not my own"

The Dreams - Weatherbox

Lyrics | Weatherbox - The Dreams lyrics

Beautiful HDR Photography

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Say Anything Recording New Album

It should come as no surprise that Say Anything is still my favorite band. I have so much respect for lead singer Max Bemis. He wrote quite possibly my favorite record of all time (listen to the whole thing here by clicking on the album cover) and he is also a song-writing machine. He wrote 120 personalized songs recently for fans who sent in a couple of paragraphs about what they wanted Max to sing about. He charged $150 for each song. He also wrote a record with his musical hero Chris Conley of Saves the Day. The project is called Two Tongues and the recently-announced release date is February 3rd. Max announced moments ago that he is about to go into the studio to release a new album next year. Below is his announcement and is just another reason why I love him:

Say anything WILL be putting out a new album next year. we'll be recording it in L.A this winter and the record will be called "Say Anything." yes, self titled. the nature of the record has changed since we intended on calling it "this is forever", also these two dj guys put out a record called that and would probably sue us.

if any person has followed our band, they understand our albums tell the story of a simple dude (me) and his evolution in life. this is the part where, having gone through his "idealistic--yet-furious-virgin" phase (baseball), young "drunk-angry-pukey-sex" phase (is a real boy), his "reaping - the - benefits - of - years - of - self - abuse - by - being - stuck - in - a - terrible -relationship" phase (in defense of the genre), he is finally confronted with the question of what the point of all of it was. what is the moral of the story? why be in a band? why try to "get" the girl? you spend years bitching or hurting yourself and others until you realize there is really something to fight for and something to fight against and being a man means drawing the line. that, my friends, is where the real adventure begins.

this album is self titled for a reason; it will take all the musical and lyrical themes of every say anything song, and attempt to resolve them and infuse them with something pure and direct. i am not going to " brandon flowers it" and say this is going to be the record that saves rock n' roll, or makes finally admit we had it all along. those things are not only pre-packaged indie rock nay nay but are also pointless and fleeting. i don't know how far our album will get us commercially or even if all of you amazing friends will show up the day it comes out, say it blows, and change your " fatty max bemis with a cigarette" icon to a "hot picture of first-button-undone anthony green" icon. however, if my opinion matters to you, i promise that i love these songs to death. I REALLY hope you do too and that's all i can pray for. For those who thought in defense, while cool, was too long and serious; i see this next outing as more darkly humorous and concise. for those of you who dug is a real boy but appreciate our later maturity, such as the addition of real singing to the drunken sailor routine; this record looks like it will be even more of a step forward, without giving away too much.

We are so thankful for your love. I am constantly humbled before your appreciation and I never thought we'd get this far, so we NEED to pay you back with a cool album or we'll be doing carnival-cruise-line-emo-nostaglia tours with jefree starr by the time you guys are forty. We will work it to the bone to not let you down. Recording begins ths winter in Los Angeles, California.

Thank you.


Max Bemis Playing a New Song "Ahh Men" for the First Time Live at a Chain Reaction Show I Attended. It Should Be on the New Record.

"C'est La Vie"

This songs been on repeat for me today. I decided that I need to make a post (or a series of posts, I haven't decided) in the future about my favorite albums of all time, and The Format's Dog Problems definitely makes the list.

Dog Problems - The Format

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Random Stuff

Strange Buildings of the World
UCSD's Geisel Library made the list. There are some really cool buildings on there (I can only count a handful of them that I have been to. Kind of bummed that I didn't make it to the Kunst Modern in Vienna over the summer. Just made it to the original Kunsthistorisches Museum there).

The United Nations (the world organization) has found out about United Nations (the grindcore supergroup featuring members of Thursday and Glassjaw/Head Automatica) and had facebook remove their page. Favorite comment so far on "It's about time! The actual UN has officially spent more time on this band then on the genocide in Africa."

2012 Election Comic

Interesting NY Times Article on Stretching

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Quick Brag

I walked into my Charles E. Young class on Monday and was shocked to see Sidney Poitier and Walter Mirisch sitting there. They just listened to Professor Young's three-hour lecture and then took off, but not before I had the chance to talk to Sidney Poitier and shake his hand.

I love UCLA.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

2008 Election: My Thoughts As Said by the Economist

This Economist article pretty much says everything I have thought about this election. I highly recommend reading the whole article.

A few passages:

At the beginning of this election year, there were strong arguments against putting another Republican in the White House. A spell in opposition seemed apt punishment for the incompetence, cronyism and extremism of the Bush presidency. Conservative America also needs to recover its vim. Somehow Ronald Reagan’s party of western individualism and limited government has ended up not just increasing the size of the state but turning it into a tool of southern-fried moralism.

The selection of Mr McCain as the Republicans’ candidate was a powerful reason to reconsider. Mr McCain has his faults: he is an instinctive politician, quick to judge and with a sharp temper. And his age has long been a concern (how many global companies in distress would bring in a new 72-year-old boss?). Yet he has bravely taken unpopular positions—for free trade, immigration reform, the surge in Iraq, tackling climate change and campaign-finance reform. A western Republican in the Reagan mould, he has a long record of working with both Democrats and America’s allies.

...Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying. Once he reaches the White House, runs this argument, he will put Mrs Palin back in her box, throw away his unrealistic tax plan and begin negotiations with the Democratic Congress. That is plausible; but it is a long way from the convincing case that Mr McCain could have made

Our main doubts about Mr Obama have to do with the damage a muddle-headed Democratic Congress might try to do to the economy. Despite the protectionist rhetoric that still sometimes seeps into his speeches, Mr Obama would not sponsor a China-bashing bill. But what happens if one appears out of Congress? Worryingly, he has a poor record of defying his party’s baronies, especially the unions. His advisers insist that Mr Obama is too clever to usher in a new age of over-regulation, that he will stop such nonsense getting out of Congress, that he is a political chameleon who would move to the centre in Washington. But the risk remains that on economic matters the centre that Mr Obama moves to would be that of his party, not that of the country as a whole.

I am very happy with the Obama victory (I'm currently sitting in one of my two Obama shirts as I type this). I supported him in the primaries and my support never wavered in the general election even though I used to be a big fan of McCain's. However, I can't help but be reserved about my optimism and reign in my excitement. I think our country needs to make some difficult decisions in the coming years. We can not continue to run such steep deficits. At the current tax base, we cannot afford to continue to fully-fund Social Security, and Medicare, let alone continue our high defense spending and take on the costs of universal health care.

We need to cut down on spending or raise taxes. Neither decision will be pain-free. It's time that our nation begins a serious discourse about who we are as a nation and who we want to be in the future. The label "socialism" has been thrown around cavalierly in the past couple weeks. It has been dismissed as a cheap attack and not given much thought. I believe what many Americans want in this country is the safety-net and services of a socialist nation, but do not want to pay the necessary taxes for that to be sustainable. Interesting and troubling times are ahead, but at least for the rest of the night, I'm going to sit back, finish my beer, and enjoy Obama's victory.

Jack's Mannequin @ The Troubadour

Last week, I went to the Troubadour to see Jack's Mannequin again. This was the first LA date of his small club tour and it had the emotional impact on me that I thought the previous Jack's Mannequin show would have. I guess the show was special to me because I feel like I have a long history with the lead singer Andrew McMahon. Although I've never met him, I feel like I've grown up with him in a way.

My freshman year of high school, way back in 2000, Something Corporate played at my high school's Battle of the Bands. They were unsigned and unknown. I didn't go to the talent show because I wasn't a huge fan of Aliso Niguel high school and didn't know that such a talented band would be performing. The next morning my school played a clip of Something Corporate on the video announcements. I really enjoyed the clips so I went to the basic and plain SoCo web site that just had some contact info and links to download MP3s of their music for free. I downloaded the music, really enjoyed the songs "Babies of the 80s" and "Mulligan Goes to War."

Soon after, the band announced that they signed to Drive Thru Records. When it came time for them to release their first EP on Drive Thru, I e-mailed the band with questions about the CD release show. I heard back from them and sent a few volleys of e-mails back and forth. I couldn't make it to the show (no ride), but followed the band closely and picked up Audioboxer and later Leaving through the Window. I still remember quite vividly seeing SoCo play with Yellowcard and Rufio. SoCo became one of my absolute favorite bands.

When I started at UCLA, I saw on the Troubadour web site that "Jack's Mannequin (Andrew from Something Corporate)" was playing. I hadn't heard anything about JM (no one really had, I bought tickets before they played their first show) but I got tickets and got excited. The show at the Troubadour was among their first ever shows and it was their first sold-out show. At the concert last week, Andrew even mentioned that first show at the Troubadour and it really brought me back to where I was just a few years ago and how things have changed. When Everything in Transit came out months after that show, the themes really resonated with me. In addition to being about his break-up, Andrew said it was about "coming home, and having home be way different than I had remembered it [...], abandoning a lot of people, and things, that I had normally been so attached to [...], exploring and being okay with myself, and not having to make excuses for who I am, and accepting who I am."

Andrew grew up not too far from me in Orange County but decided to get away and move temporarily to Los Angeles. He went through a bad break-up and had to find himself. I knew how he felt. When I found out that he was diagnosed with Leukemia the day he finished recording his album, I was devastated. I found out the day before it was publicly announced during an interview. It took a lot of self-restraint not to tear up during the interview.

To end my rambling, I feel a close connection with Andrew and at the show I really had a chance to reflect on how things have changed for me in the past 8 years. It was great going with Aaron J. (as usual when it comes to concerts) and then seeing Aaron Israel, Danielle, Isidro, J.D. and Tracey all there. In addition to really enjoying opener Eric Hutchinson (I got him to sign a CD for me after the show), I just loved every second of Jack's Mannequins performance. There was a good mix of old and new songs and a great crowd (including Andrew's parents). This is a show I really needed and I'm just sad that I don't have any concerts coming up that I plan on going to. It's time for Manchester Orchestra, Brand New, Moneen, Anathallo, or any number of bands to roll through LA.

Here's a video from the show of quite possibly my favorite song from the new record:

"Hammers and Strings" at the Troubadour

These hammers and strings
Been following me around
From a box-filled garage
To the dark punk rock clubs
Of one thousand American towns

And my friend calls me up
She says, "How have you been?"
I say, "Dear I've been well
Yeah the money's come in
But I miss you like hell
I still hear you in this old piano"

She says, "Andy, I know That we don't talk as much
But I still hear your ghost
In these old punk rock clubs
Come on, write me a song
Give me something to trust
Just promise you won't let it be
Just the keys that you touch"

"Give me something to believe in
A breath from the breathing
So write it down
I don't think that I'll close my eyes
'Cause lately I'm not dreaming
So what's the point in sleeping?
It's just that at night,
I've got nowhere to hide"
So I write you a lullaby

These hammers and strings
Been following me around
Behind passenger vans
Through the snow, dirt, and sands
Of one thousand American towns
And my friend calls me up
With her heart heavy still
She says, "Andy, the doctors Prescribed me the pills.
But I know I'm not crazy
I just lost my will.
So why am I, why am I
Taking them still?"

To the sleepless, this is my reply:
I will write you a lullaby

Also in the crowd was industry insider turned blogger Bob Lefsetz.
Excerpt from Bob Lefsetz Review:

From an empty room on the first floor
As the cars pass by the liquor store
I deconstruct my thoughts at this piano

That’s what Andrew did. He sat at the lip of the Troubadour’s tiny stage and banged the keys like he truly meant it. He even stood atop the piano, not in a fuck you Billy Joel way, but in an expression of sheer exuberance. He’d written songs in his basement at sixteen, he was now thankful to be able to play rock music for a living. HE SAID SO!

From the corner by the studio
The gold-soaked afternoon comes slow
I deconstruct my thoughts and I am walking by
On Third Street, the freak show thrives
Santa Monica’s alive, but
Something’s not so right inside
Living with the news

These are not lyrics written by committee. So bland they can work in countries where English is not just the second language, but oftentimes the third or fourth, or completely unknown. This is directly from Andrew’s heart to you, you feel like he’s speaking to you. Yes, he’s cut all his records in that studio in Santa Monica, by the Third Street Promenade. It’s where he goes to be inspired, it’s where he concocts these numbers that mean so much to you.

The other classic track from "Everything In Transit" is "The Mixed Tape".

Where are you now?
As I’m swimming through the stereo
I’m writing you a symphony of sound
Where are you now?
As I rearrange the songs again
This mix could burn a hole in anyone
But it was you I was thinking of
It was you I was thinking of
It was you I was thinking of

Heartbreak isn’t about buying a new pair of shoes and sleeping with someone else. It’s about waking up with them still on your mind, just like when you went to bed. It’s wanting to close the curtain, shutting out the light.

Where do they go after you’ve broken up?
They should be dead, they can’t be continuing their lives. They can’t be talking to anybody else, they can’t be laughing, they can’t be going forward. Because you’re stuck. And the only thing that says exactly how you feel is music. The lyrics jump out of the stereo, from your earbuds, the singer knows you, exactly how you feel. If only you could send her this song, maybe she’d understand, maybe she’d come back, maybe everything would be all right.

And this is my mixed tape for her
It’s like I wrote every note
With my own fingers

That’s the power of music. And last night at the Troubadour the music was quite powerful, enough to sustain a life, keep a person going. It wasn’t for you, but for those in attendance, it was…everything.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Razia's Shadow: A Musical

I just ordered Forgive Durden's new album Razia's Shadow: A Musical. Forgive Durden released their first full-length two years ago. I heard decent things about it, but not enough to really give it a listen. I heard it was very derivative of Gatsby's American Dream (RIP) and just sort of ignored it.

Then I started hearing a lot of buzz about the new Forgive Durden album. It became impossible to ignore this time around because it is not only a musical (I'm a sucker for musicals), but also features guest vocals from a lot of singers that I love:

Max Bemis (Say Anything)
Shawn Harris (The Matches)
Chris Conley (Saves the Day)
Casey Crescenzo (The Dear Hunter)
Nic Newsham (Gatsbys American Dream)
John Baldwin Gourley (Portugal. The Man)

As well as other singers I don't listen to as much:

Aaron Weiss (mewithoutYou)
Danny Stevens (The Audition)
Brendon Urie (Panic at the Disco)
Daniel Young (This Providence)
Greta Salpeter (The Hush Sound)
Lizzie Huffman (Man in the Blue Van)
Kris Anaya (An Angle)

Short description of the album: "The album tells the story of a world divided in two by the selfish actions of a powerful and egotistical, yet insecure angel. After generations of darkness, the world is eventually brought back together by the love and sacrifice of a couple brave enough to fulfill their destinies."

I ordered the album because it comes with a script of the musical. I'm pretty excited to give this a proper listen with the script. In the meantime, I am streaming it while I write my boring paper for Charles E Young. If you give it a listen, let me know what you think. I have a feeling it is going to take quite a few listens before I understand it properly and can adequately evaluate how much I like it.

Stream it here and check out all the characters in the musical here

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jack's Mannequin

After an incredibly long week that feels like it was a month ago but actually only ended two days ago, I went to a secret Jack's Mannequin show. It was a warm-up for his upcoming tour where he plays the entire new album all the way through. It was at the very intimate Viper Room and half of those in attendance were friends and family of JM.

Having my good friend Aaron J. pick me up after I attended the vigil for my resident that was killed earlier that week and taking me to an amazing show was just what the doctor ordered. Luckily concerts are a relatively cheap way for me to take a mental health holiday.

Not only did Jack's Mannequin play all of the incredible new album The Glass Passenger, he played an old song from his former band (Something Corporate's "Cavanaugh Park') and a cover of a MGMT song (I've been spinning MGMT a lot this week). I can't wait to see JM again at the end of the month at the Troubadour.

Jack's Mannequin Covers MGMT's "Kids"

Jack's Mannequin plays SoCo's "Cavanaugh Park"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Top 25 Films About Los Angeles

I came across this list of the top 25 films about Los Angeles in the last 25 years. It was posted in the LA Times with the subheading: "The city has been a main character in many films. Our film crew picks the best. It's a tough list to crash."

I've seen most of the movies, but there are a few I need to throw on my ever-expanding Netflix queue.

Here is the list, but I'd recommend reading the full-article to read some interesting tidbits about each film.

1. L.A. Confidential (1997)
2. Boogie Nights (1997)
3. Jackie Brown (1997)
4. Boyz N the Hood (1991)
5. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
6. The Player (1992)
7. Clueless (1995)
8. Repo Man (1984)
9. Collateral (2004)
10. The Big Lebowski (1998)
11. Mulholland Drive (2001)
12. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
13. Training Day (1991)
14. Swingers (1996)
15. Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)
16. Friday (1995)
17. Speed (1994)
18. Valley Girl (1983)
19. To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)
20. L.A. Story (1991)
21. To Sleep With Anger (1990)
22. Less Than Zero (1987)
23. Fletch (1985)
24. Mi Vida Loca (1993)
25. Crash (2004)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

End of Summer: Concert Recap

I had a pretty amazing summer. In addition to going to Europe for 3 weeks, I went to quite a few cool concerts.

7/3: Nico Vega @ the Hammer
7/12: The Who, Flaming Lips, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Incubus, Tenacious D @ UCLA
7/21: Jesse Lacey (of Brand New) and Kevin Devine @ The Roxy
8/20: Person L (ex-TSL) and Anthony Green (Circa Survive, TSOAF, ex-Saosin)@ Troubadour
8/27: Kay Kay and the Weathered Underground & RX Bandits & Portugal, The Man @ Troubadour
9/3: Colour Revolt, Night Marchers @ the Echo
9/12: Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley) @ the Echo

Names in bold are bands that I talked to after the show. Everyone was down to earth and really cool, but I especially liked talking to Kenny of Person L who used to be the lead singer of the Starting Line, as well as the guys from Kay Kay (formerly in Gatsby's American Dream).

Here's a little mixtape for your listening pleasure of bands I saw over this summer:

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

Friday, September 12, 2008

Admissions Background

I've been officially confirmed as one of two student representatives to the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools (CUARS), a committee of the UCLA Academic Senate. Now is an exciting and controversial time for CUARS and UCLA's admission policies. I decided it would be a good idea to collect some background information on the committee and controversy.

Professor Groseclose's Resignation Report
This fairly long report is what started the controversy. Shout out: A letter by my good friend Aaron Israel is included on page 31 of this report.

Then Professor Groseclose did an interview with the OC Register that was picked up by AP and then showed up in papers around the country.

Gloseclose said he wanted to use statistical analysis to study the probability that students were being admitted by race. He asked for 1,000 student files, including essays, with the names removed. Campus officials refused to provide them, saying privacy issues prevented their release.

Gloseclose said he actually favors the idea of offering preferences to bring in more black students, but he is unhappy at what he calls a "lack of transparency" in the process.

Discussions within the admissions committee, he said, led him to believe his probe was being deliberately stunted.

UCLA officials have complained in the past that private universities such as USC and Stanford can "pick off" the best and brightest black students, because they can offer better financial aid.

Groseclose said that, at the same time black enrollments went up, low-income Vietnamese enrollments went down. Low-income Vietnamese applicants are typically among the most disadvantaged, he said, because few had parents who attended college and they often overcome grave hardships to enroll.

Here is UCLA's response on the admissions as well as a short letter by Chancellor Block.

The Los Angeles Times printed two Op-Eds about the admissions controversy. One by UCLA Professor Darnell Hunt (who will be serving on CUARS this year) and another by Heather Mac Donald who is a contributing editor to the City Journal

I also found this just-published profile of Ward Connerly, the champion of Prop. 209 (banning affirmative action in UC admissions), pretty interesting:

The now-banned affirmative action system has been replaced with other official policies. There is the Connerly-championed “comprehensive review,” which takes a holistic view of students. “We look at what school a student attended, what courses were offered, what courses you took, your socioeconomic conditions, whether you had a parent go to college,” Connerly explains. Also, the top 4 percent of California high school graduates who have taken the required courses are guaranteed admission to the UC system. In schools that are de facto racially segregated, diversity will be achieved in a way that doesn’t use quotas and is more palatable to conservatives. A third Connerly-backed pathway to the UC schools, through California’s community colleges, is supposed to further mitigate the effects of the ban.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Last Lecture

During RA training, they decided to use Randy Pausch's "Lest Lecture" to begin a discussion about student development theory. Someone asked if they were going to show the whole thing, and the presenters said "Of course!" Then they proceeded to play the full 10 minutes that he did on the Oprah show. Not exactly the same thing.

So below you can find the whole thing. It's long, but I figured some people would be interested to watch a piece of it since of all the buzz around his book that has firmly planted itself on the best-seller list.

Amendment to Be

Today in ORL training, the department made a valiant effort to parody the Schoolhouse Rock song "I'm Just a Bill." Although it didn't go as well as it could have, it reminded me of one of my favorite Simpson's clips: "An Amendment to Be." Unfortunately, Youtube doesn't have a clip showing the animation but the song is below and you can watch it here:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Guns N' Roses: How to Sell it?

Linked below is a great post by Bob Lefsetz, music industry insider about how Axl Rose can make a few bucks off the new Guns N' Roses album.

An excerpt:

1. Name your own price

Dumb. Already done by Radiohead. Unsuccessful with Saul Williams. If you’re going to stunt, you’ve got to do something original, you’ve got to do it FIRST!

2. Newspaper cover mount

This is a good idea. De rigueur in the U.K., it hasn’t been tried in the U.S. I’d say this is a natural for Tribune. For the Sunday edition in all of their papers. Got to be ten to twenty million in it for the band.

3. Wal-Mart

What are the odds of "Chinese Democracy" passing the Bentonville censors? This is a natural fit. Blue collar denizens, those who shop at Wal-Mart, are hard rock’s core. But we live in a society where children must be protected and the truth must not be uttered. So, "Chinese Democracy" would end up a ten minute EP. Then again, would that be as laughable as Axl Rose’s appearance on the VMAs?

Wal-Mart will guarantee product one way. Significant tonnage. Because it gets people in the store where they buy other things.

As for screwing indie stores… If indie stores want to cobble together a twenty five million guaranteed offer, I say they should get an exclusive on "Chinese Democracy". But this is not a building band, it’s amazing this record is even coming out. The indie stores won’t cough up the dough and their whining can be ignored. This is business. One time event business. It’s not about keeping retailers happy, but making a ton of money for Axl Rose.

4. Other physical retailer

This is a good idea. The only question is whether they can pony up enough bucks. Target? The promotional value is astounding. The media will cover this like the second coming. For a week anyway. Before reporters move on to something new. So, to get all that name recognition and then the additional revenue from people buying other product in your store is worth it. At a price. Twenty five million dollars? That’s what it’s going to take. Axl’s got to get his bread back, this product needs to be shipped one way.

As for Best Buy… They’re never going to pony up. They expect exclusives for BUPKES, if anything at all!

5. Online retailer

Steve Jobs will never pay. It’s against his equitable/level playing field philosophy. But how about Amazon?

Amazon is the number one online retailer. If it finally wants to boost its music store, this is the opportunity. It’s kind of a Michael Cohl deal… How many copies does Amazon expect to sell, if it has a monopoly? Two and a half million? Then it’s worth twenty five million dollars. Even if all the albums are not sold. Because people will come to, interact with the site, and buy other stuff. Furthermore, Amazon can sell both physical and digital product. The company is a natural.

6. Advertiser giveaway

This is what G N’ R should do.

The biggest problem G N’ R has is releasing "Chinese Democracy" and finding out nobody cares. And believe me, very few do. Because years have passed and nobody gets that much attention today. Mariah Carey is plastered all over the media and can’t even go double platinum. Almost no one can. So how do you deliver this album so IT SEEMS like the second coming and the public buys it?

By giving it away.

Yup, one single advertiser. Either super-rich, like Coke, or looking to make its name, like Napster was when it bought those Super Bowl ads. They pay their twenty five million AND THEY GIVE "CHINESE DEMOCRACY" AWAY ON THEIR WEBSITE!

The publicity will be amazing. First, when the deal is announced. Then, when it happens. The return on investment will be better than any TV advertising. Assuming the corporation can pay the freight.

G N’ R needs a stunt. That generates incredible publicity, that puts its music in the hands of the most people, so the act’s image can be burnished and beaucoup bucks can be made on the road.

The silver lining is G N’ R CAN STILL sell CDs, can even sell on iTunes, if they give the album away. Look at Radiohead. Look at P2P. Everything’s free, yet people still buy. Free for a month only. Maybe just a week. With a live album of greatest hits thrown in two weeks later if you donate your e-mail address.

Universal just can’t deliver "Chinese Democracy" to the usual suspects and expect it to sell, not in any prodigious amount. Don’t worry about the indie retailers, don’t worry about Best Buy, don’t worry about iTunes. Go to the big kahunas, the ones who truly have the money/advertising budgets. They won’t bitch, they won’t say they’re cash poor, they’ve just got to decide whether to buy in. Or not. Look, Dr. Pepper is riding the "Chinese Democracy" bandwagon FOR FREE! You’ve got to charge for this privilege.

And don’t tell me about cred. Axl lost it years ago.