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.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Joys of Webcomics

Wikipedian Protester


The Matches in the Chip Shop

This song has been stuck in my head during the first couple 12-hour days of RA training. This video just reminds me of the great memories I can cherish from my time in London this past summer.

Here is Matches lead-singer Shawn Harris giving some interesting background on this video.
"Serious bullshit is going down. I've been on the phone all morning (I do mean morning-- try 5am) with our label and the London Metropolitain Police (our manager is out of town). I'm told that the "clip" Yankee in a Chip Shop contains footage of us "engaged in violating British law" and that our rights of dissemination are in question. Serious bullshit. Public officers had taken our names during one incident on the shoot, which we kinda laughed off.. I seriously thought they were rent-a-cops. Apparently our files had been in processing, and had gotten investigated due to CCTV tapes of us running down the middle of the huge roundabout at Piccadilly Circus that was the video's finale. Funny thing is, Epitaph, who's under pressure here, didn't have anything to do with making the video at all. The only money spent on this video came out of my pocket-- I'd been saving up checks from art jobs just to shoot this second video for our new record-- one that there was no budget for in our recording contract, but that I was passionate about, and knew that people would be tickled to see."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


As I've been listening to more and more experimental and "indie" music (for a lack of better labels), I often think I am outgrowing a lot of the music I've really enjoyed over the last decade.
I'm afraid that one day I will wake up and no longer care about the type of bands that I was once so passionate about.

Part of it must be that long gone is the era characterized by the heyday of Drive Thru Records, (when they had such bands as Something Corporate, New Found Glory, The Starting Line, The Movielife, RX Bandits, Midtown, Dashboard Confessional, Finch, The Early November, and more...) and in its wake have been a scene populated by just terrible imitators such as Metro Station and Cute is What We Aim For. Just when I'm considering giving up on the pop-punk scene for good, a band like Valencia comes around. This band knows how to craft beautiful and catchy tunes perfect for a California summer (which I'd say lasts well into October, while other parts of the country are experiencing this odd season supposedly called "Fall").

Check 'em out:

Where Did You Go? - Valencia

Zack and Miri Make a Porno
The next Kevin Smith film with Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. It comes out Halloween and I plan on trying to catch it opening weekend.

Here's the first trailer, and since a red-band trailer, warning: it's NSFW

Here's an old teaser of the film (doesn't include footage that made it into the film)

An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube

I came across this great video by a professor at Kansas State University. He presented this anthropological introduction to YouTube at the Library Congress and I definitely think it is worth watching if you can find an hour to spare. It reminded me of why I originally thought it might be cool to be a professor of sociology or anthropology. I just love understanding how people interact, why things happen the way they do, etc...

...And The Battle Begun

I've resisted the urge to start a blog for a long time now because it didn't seem to make sense to me to be just another person writing personal, political, or philosophical thoughts on the web that no one will read. However, I decided that this would be a good way to keep track of all the interesting things I come across on the net or a place to document some of my more interesting experiences for posterity's sake.

Hopefully a few of my friends will also find some of things I find interesting.

As a huge music fan, I couldn't resist the urge to name the blog and url address after lines from a couple of my favorite bands.

The name of the blog, "Goodbye to Sleep" comes from the Brand New song "Degausser"

The URL "It's a pattern not a phase" comes from the Kevin Devine song "Ballgame."
"Cause when you realize it's a pattern and not a phase, it's what you've become and it's what you will stay, that's the ballgame."

Live version of 'Ballgame" by Kevin Devine with Jesse Lacey from Brand New.

One concert highlight of the summer was seeing Kevin Devine and Jesse play an acoustic show together at the Roxy on July 21. I love how I can easily relive some shows thanks to some quick searches on youtube. Here's Kevin Devine's "Cotton Crush" joined onstage by Jesse at the Roxy show I attended wtih my good friend AaronJ.