david byrne

On Neurosociety and Meeting Idols

The other week we got to see David Byrne(!!) and collaborator Mala Gaonkar talk about their new project Neurosociety. The discussion took place in a 100-person lecture hall at Stanford, and started off with David giving a short presentation about the exhibition. (Side note: I’m inexplicably delighted by the fact that I got to sit 20 feet away from David Byrne as he stood at the podium with his glasses on, clicking through powerpoint slides and explaining each one in earnest. If only I’d gotten to attend this lecture.)

The project takes various scientific studies and adapts them into a more theatrical, interactive setting. You’re taken through three different rooms in groups of 10, and basically become test subjects, although in a less clinical, more entertaining way. We learned more as the discussion went on, but David’s first explanations were perhaps the best (“…and here, you’re in the body of a doll…”). Apparently the first iteration that just opened in Menlo Park is a bit of a test run, with more locations and experiences to open in the future.

After a discussion between David, Mala, and two Stanford professors, there was a Q&A with the audience. I knew after the first question that there was no way I was going to embarrass myself by trying to speak up, even though part of me desperately wanted DB to acknowledge my existence. These audience questions were thoughtful, academic statements about cognitive biases, data analysis, science as theater, theater as science, etc. Given the chance to talk, I would’ve just blurted out something like “DAVID WHERE’D YOU GET THAT COOL VEST?”

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Either this picture was taken that same day, or DB just really likes that vest. (Photo: Gabriella Angotti-Jones)

I also had the realization that I’m terrified of meeting people I greatly admire. I could’ve very easily gone up to DB afterward, given him a handshake, and said a polite hello. But as a sweaty, awkward fangirl in a room full of scholars and scientists, I was verrrry intimidated.

I’m a little miffed at myself for not being more brave in a once in a lifetime (see what I did there) opportunity, but part of me prefers to not ruin the fantasy. I mean, instead of having the meaningful, eloquent conversation that I’d carefully concocted in my head, I’m pretty sure I would’ve mumbled something unintelligible and completely blown it (this is why I write words, not speak them). So for now I’ll keep admiring my idols from afar, dreaming about hanging out with them at the mall, hoping for the eventual chance encounter on the street where I might actually have the courage to say hello.

And as for Neurosociety, I was super excited to go to the opening weekend in Menlo Park, but received an email last week that my ticket had to be rescheduled to after November 22nd. :( So now we’re going on December 10 in case anyone else wants to join!

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tv, twin peaks

Confessions about Twin Peaks

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(Minimal spoilers ahead.)

• Prior to actually watching the show, I thought Twin Peaks was a crime drama that took place in San Francisco. I’d also never seen any of David Lynch’s work. That is to say, my background knowledge was pretty nonexistent.

• It wasn’t a person who convinced me to finally watch the show, it was Netflix.

• I haaaaated the first episode. Maybe it was because I didn’t understand that it was supposed to be a soap opera (a very bizarre one, but a soap nonetheless). Although, I’m pretty sure if I were to watch the pilot again, I’d still think the acting was overdone and the characters completely unbearable.

• I continued to hate pretty much every character throughout Season One. Yet I couldn’t. stop. watching. Kind of like the current presidential election. 😬

• The only character I liked right off the bat was Albert Rosenfield.

• After Leland Palmer “recovered” from his sorrows, I remember thinking, “Oh hey, he’s not so bad now.” I even thought he was suddenly attractive with his new white hair, in a silver fox sort of way.

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I deeply regret those thoughts.

• Certain episodes freaked me out so much that I made Alex sit in the bathroom while I showered at night, so I wouldn’t be alone.

• Characters I initially couldn’t stand but ended up really liking: Audrey, Bobby, Andy, Ben Horne. I was even rooting for Leo at the end, which is a real strange thing to say.

• I think I was supposed to feel bad for Harold Smith but, I didn’t.

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you sir, are a creeper

• The addition of Annie very nearly ruined the show for me.

• I couldn’t wait to finish the last few episodes because I wanted to go on Tumblr and see what the fandom was like. (Also, a Tumblr search for “Dale Cooper,” much to my bewilderment, resulted in a screen full of NSFW pictures because apparently our favorite FBI agent shares a name with a gay porn star.)

• I have shamelessly adopted Special Agent Dale Cooper’s overuse of the thumbs up, both in real life and emoji form. (I mean, Kyle MacLachlan does it, too.)

• I’ve gone to Amoeba probably ten times in the past month in an attempt to find the vinyl reissue of the Twin Peaks soundtrack. Last night I finally gave in and ordered it online.

• Things that Twin Peaks made me afraid of: chess, owls, spindly trees, mirrors, brushing my teeth.

• Things that Twin Peaks made me appreciate: the Pacific Northwest, diners, Civil War re-enactments, creepy synth music, Kyle MacLachlan.

• Sadly, I’ll never truly be able to relate to this fictional town’s love of coffee, but the pie I can definitely get down with.

beatles

Eight Days A Week: The Real Post

Ok, now for some real thoughts on Eight Days A Week.

When I first heard about this documentary, I was a little disappointed that there wouldn’t be a “studio years” installment, which in my mind would’ve been much more interesting. But after watching the film, I appreciate the focus on the touring years, because: 1) It reminds us just how nuts Beatlemania was, and 2) It’s super interesting to see how the Beatles affected everything that was going on culturally and socially in the mid-60s (their refusal to play segregated venues, the Jesus quote debacle, etc.). I mean, that continued into the late 60s too, but when they were touring, they were much more in the spotlight. Oh, and 3) The press conferences. So many zingers.

Here’s a rundown:

The good:

  • New stuff for die-hards. Although I’d seen most of the concert and interview footage over the years, it was nice to see some new material. Like interviews with fans (“George has sexy eyelashes!”), the German press conference where a reporter asked the Beatles why they’re so snobby (good job deflecting that one, Paul), and a fan’s home video of the ’66 Candlestick show.
  • Restored audio. I never really liked watching Beatles concert footage because the sound was so atrocious (it’s just…all teenage screaming). But Giles Martin a.k.a. Son of God worked his magic on the recordings and they actually sound pretty amazing.
  • The #dreamteam. I’m glad that appropriate tribute was paid to Brian Epstein and George Martin, and that Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, and Derek Taylor didn’t go unnoticed either. The Beatles had a surprisingly small entourage when touring the world from 1964-1966, and I’ve always admired how close they all were with these guys.
  • Shea Stadium. (You only got to see the whole concert if you watched the movie in theaters.) The shots of the fans are priceless and the Lennon antics are at an all time high.
  • George comparing the Beatles to rhubarb. He would.

The meh:

  • Questionable Lennon censorship. I thought it was kinda weird they corrected John’s lyric flubs for some of the live performances (personally, I think they’re endearing). Although it’s probably for the best that they edited out his clap hands/stomp feet routine…
  • Random interviews e.g. “we’re gonna bring in Eddie Izzard to talk about how the Beatles responded to media hecklers, and we’re gonna show him juuust long enough to make you think, wait, what’s Eddie Izzard doing here?”
  • Colorized film. Unnecessary. It makes everything look so fake and bad.
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whyyyyyyy

The film is available on Hulu, but seeing it in a theater of fellow Beatlefans was pretty entertaining, if you get a chance to do so. Like the audible horror at the colorized footage, everyone clapping along to “Eight Days A Week,” and the guy in the front yelling along with “GOOD OL’ FREDA!”

I think Ron Howard did an excellent job bringing Beatlemania back to life, while also capturing what made people like me fall in love with the Beatles in the first place: their wit, charm, and boundary-pushing music. Ending the film with the rooftop concert was expected, but it still made me tear up. The Beatles and their music came such a long way in such a short amount of time, it’s insane. Their fans grew up, too: from screaming, crying teenagers to young men and women quietly watching from rooftops across the street. Whenever I start thinking about the arc of the 60s and how the Beatles influenced it, I get all emotional, so I’m just going to stop right here.

TL;DR: Eight Days a Week is definitely worth a watch. There are some weird bits, but the great restored footage and cheeky interviews more than make up for it.

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Thanks guys, you’re the best.
buster keaton, silent movies

The Art of the Gag

It’s Buster’s birthday, and this was on the front page of Reddit tonight. I’ve never been so quick to subscribe to a YouTube channel after watching a video (well, except maybe this time).

I love the choice of clips mixed with the audio interviews with Buster (he’s from Kansas, can you tell?). I’m a huge believer that physical comedy, when done right, is a legit form of art. No one proves it better than Buster.

The guy who made this has done a lot of other really interesting videos about filmmaking, with topics ranging from the Coen Brothers’ use of wide lenses to temp music to “Bayhem.” A lot of the stuff I post on here is very specific to my interests, but man, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this guy’s stuff. 10/10 would binge-watch again.

beatles

Eight Days A Week: A Drinking Game

Sooooo, I’ve watched Eight Days A Week twice in the past 24 hours and have a lot to say about the film itself, but while I put that together, here’s a drinking game.

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One drink whenever:

  • A photo is subtly “enhanced” with moving cigarette smoke
  • Modern-day Ringo is seen wearing a peace sign
  • George waves awkwardly
  • The Beatles perform in a different country
  • Brian Epstein looks fabulous
  • Someone describes something as “mahhvelous,” “fab,” or “a laff”
  • There’s a cheesy reference to the Beatles’ haircuts
  • Georgestache
  • Paulbeard
  • A girl faints (it was going to be whenever a girl screams, or cries, but that is literally the entire film)

Two drinks:

  • For any B&W footage that is obviously/painfully colorized
  • Jimmie Nicol appears
  • Paul admits to being high during the filming of Help!

Chug:

  • George Martin is directly referred to as a god
  • John apologizes
  • “GOOD OL FREDA!”

Disclaimer: It’s possibly more fun to come up with these than to actually play them (see also: TOS 1TOS 2, and Pete Townshend’s autobiography). Really, all I’m trying to get you to do is watch the film.

tv, twin peaks

August was beautiful and so are you

The title of this post came from a dream I had last night. Except in the dream I kept trying to write out the phrase and couldn’t spell for the life of me, so actually more like a nightmare?


Some noteworthy things from last month:

ED RUSCHA AND THE GREAT AMERICAN WEST. We went to see this exhibition at the DeYoung and I could’ve stayed there for hours. It’s like walking through a museum display of True Stories: images of gas stations, parking lots, billboards, and flat western landscapes, accompanied by quirky titles and phrases.

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Maybe it was because I spent 5 years in LA (where Ruscha has lived most of his life) and grew up taking roadtrips through the Southwest that this exhibition was especially fascinating to me. In any case, I highly recommend checking out Ruscha’s works if your aesthetic is anything close to mine.

WRONG WAY UP. Been slowly delving into Eno’s discography through his collaborations with other people, and this one—made with John Cale in 1990—is absolutely wonderful. Listen here.

STRANGER THINGS. Man, supernatural 80s throwbacks featuring kids on bikes are so hot right now (see: Super 8, Paper Girls). But seriously, what a fantastic show. Also, the original soundtrack is really, really cool.

TWIN PEAKS. Previously, I’d never really been interested in watching Twin Peaks (too creepy? too weird? too dark?), but apparently it’s a natural progression after Stranger Things, or at least Netflix thought so. At this point we’re halfway through, and I find myself weirdly captivated despite totally hating it at first. We just finished the first episode of Season Two and it’s some of the best television I’ve ever watched. I love the bizarre, surreal scenes (and hate the melodramatic soap opera stuff, as self-aware as it may be). I hear Season Two is pretty hit or miss, so we’ll see what happens from here.

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In other news, it’s finally starting to get warm(er) in San Francisco and we are going to the Roots Picnic in less than a month! LILYAIG.

live music, new music

This week’s suggestion: listen to Fantasma

Writing this as Outside Lands goes on literally right down the street (yes, now that we live practically at the entrance to the festival, we opted not to get tickets this year). Listening to the music from the couch while wearing sweatpants is pretty cool, I must say…although I could do without the horde of drunk people outside the apartment at 11pm. I must be getting old.

OSL or not, it’s been an excellent week for live music. On Wednesday, The Spencer Owen Timeshare opened for New Zealand-based Andrew Keoghan at the Hemlock, and it was so much fun (also, I learned how to make Instagram stories, so y’all better watch out). Andrew Keoghan and his band were really great, and of course the Timeshare were on point too. Rumor has it this is the last show in a while, which makes me sad (but excited for potential recordings to come!).

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Then Thursday night we saw Cornelius at The Fox, which was incredible. I didn’t know much about Cornelius (real name Keigo Oyamada) going into the show, but was almost immediately won over by his eargasmic sonic landscapes (take, for instance, The Micro Disneycal World Tour).

I am a sucker for intricately choreographed shows (see: OK Go, Stop Making Sense, drum corps), so I was especially blown away by auditory/visual synchronization of this show. I have no idea how they do it, but the band manages to sync these crazy tight songs perfectly with the videos projected behind them throughout the entire show. This is a good example:

I did some reading up today and learned that Cornelius came out of the Japanese Shibuya-kei scene, described by Wiki as “a kitsch revival of 1960s culture” and by LA Weekly as having a distinct “’60s-meets-’90s vibe.” So basically, it’s the perfect combination for the 60s enthusiast in me, the 90s enthusiast in Alex, and the Japan enthusiast in both of us.

I can’t wait to listen to more. Also, I really really want to go back to Tokyo.