Thursday, December 31, 2009

filming The Road: locations

TIME has a really interesting photo essay about location scouting and shooting for Cormac McCarthy's film adaptation of The Road. The most interesting thing about it is that all the locations are real, and appear to be little altered for the purpose of the film (other than waiting for snow or ice to melt, etc.). For instance, here's the description of a scene filmed in New Orleans:
Viggo Mortensen says that filming in New Orleans was "very intense." But what better way to show abandoned urban life than the still devastated areas from Hurricane Katrina? "There are still parts of the city that haven't been touched," says Mortenson. "You still see the water-line marks on some houses. The marquee of the movie house still has the same movie that was playing that day."

via Dimension Films

It sort of hurts my heart to know that there are places in this country that can mimic a post-apocalyptic wasteland with little effort. It makes me wonder about the people who live there everyday, and how they feel about it.

my first concert

I did some scanning of old photos (passable quality, but not great) today. Here's a photo of me and my dad at my very first concert: James Brown, circa 1987. The Godfather of Soul signed my CD of greatest hits, which he claimed was the first CD he had ever autographed. He also kissed me on the cheek, which I promptly wiped off. Good times, rock star. Good times.

my dad and I

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

we're silly for sea lions

Oh, and that story about how all the sea lions mysteriously disappeared from Pier 39 that has been feverishly reported over the last few days? Apparently overblown. How about that for a shocking development?

Pier 39 sea lions

Red State Soundsystem, Ghosts In A Burning City

My favorite thing about coming back to Vegas is seeing what amazing things my friends are currently doing. My friend Josh Ellis, after years of hard work and sweat, finished his debut album Ghosts In A Burning City (under the name Red State Soundsystem). Because Josh has never half-assed anything the entire time I've known him, I'm really excited to dig into this effort.

I tagged along for the press photo shoot yesterday; you can find the very nice images (taken by Danny Mollohan) here. This is one I took of the process:

Josh Ellis photo shoot

Norwegian Wood film, December 2010

The film adaptation of Murakami Haruki's 1987 novel, Norwegian Wood is slated for released in Japan in December 2010. It will star Matsuyama Ken'ichi (Death Note) and Kikuchi Rinko (Babel) as Toru and Naoko.

Norwegian Wood is the novel that catapulted Murakami from a writer into a superstar, both in Japan and the rest of the world. His main themes are loss and loneliness. Even though he's not my favorite Japanese author (I don't love the way he portrays his female characters, who more or less function as plot devices), I find his stories beautiful and tragic.

Other works by Murakami that I recommend:
A Wild Sheep Chase
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Saturday, December 26, 2009

christmas gift coinkidink best friend and I got each other the exact same Christmas present: The Muppet Show on DVD.

Here's a clip from the first episode, which perfectly encapsulates all that I love about the show:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street

Speaking of awesome 1970s music performances on pseudo-children's television shows, here's a live version of Stevie Wonder playing "Superstition" on Sesame Street, circa 1973.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

stupid moth larvae and their stupid eating habits

Did you know that moths also like alpaca? I sure didn't!

I can't decide if I should try to salvage the remaining yarn, or just succumb to my ick factor.

Flickr: One wheel motor cycle

Maximum speed: 93 MPH. Rock on, Italy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

heading home...

I'm leaving for Vegas tomorrow, and will be there over the winter break. Looking forward to being with my family, karaoke with my friends, and avoiding the Strip by any means necessary.

Fremont Street, 1948. via UNLV Library

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

holiday house lights in palo alto

I bike past a house every day that goes all out for holiday decorations. Halloween was a veritable haunted house in the front yard. Thanksgiving was a cornucopia explosion of awesomeness. And this is what the house looks like for Christmas:

christmas lights
(because I don't have a panorama, I'm not really doing the house full justice to its presumably huge electrical bill)

Not to be left out of the fun, these are the decorations for the house next door:

christmas lights

Monday, December 14, 2009

Elton John on The Muppet Show...

...performing "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." Cannot believe how smoothly he transitions into those high notes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

gift idea: Bird

Andrew Zuckerman's coffee table book, Birds, is pretty much the most spectacular thing I have seen all year.

I pinch

I pinch

Boiled crab at our friends J+A's place in San Francisco.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent Day 10: Meet Me In St. Louis / The Wizard of Oz

OK. So I had a bit part in my high school production of The Wizard of Oz (I was a jitterbug, which is a scene that was cut from the movie, and also in the orchestra pit). The cast was mostly made up of kids from the school choir. The most difficult part of the production? The scene in Munchkinland: apparently, although you can be good at singing, it doesn't necessarily follow that you are good at timing. We must have rehearsed that scene for 3 days. The orchestra's frustration was to the point that we added in extra special emphasis at points when the next singer was supposed to come in, and would groan loudly in disgust when they didn't. Very supportive bunch, we musicians were.

The result of all this is that I know that part of the movie extremely well, even after 12 years. It turned into Munchkinland sing-a-long-of-one in that theater. I give my friends credit for their patience.

The Wizard of Oz was paired with Meet Me In St. Louis, which I've seen about 3 times at the Stanford Theater. Even though it's a slower movie, I prefer Meet Me In St. Louis to The Wizard of Oz because of Judy Garland. Every time I see The Wizard of Oz, I can't help but think about how she was getting pumped full of drugs and denigrated for her weight during filming. I also prefer the pacing and comedy in Meet Me In St. Louis more, and appreciate that this was one of Judy Garland's favorite roles. And also, this:

Monday, December 7, 2009

gift idea: illustrated diaries

These books aren't that new, but I've been picking them up and flipping though them for the last 2 years, so they at least have some staying power for me. I think I also find myself attracted to them because I would love to be able to sketch and journal together, but I can't really draw all that well. That's why I take photographs instead - to spare the world from my putting pen to paper.

1. Everyday Matters, by Danny Gregory.

Everyday Matters is, according to Gregory, "a memoir about my wife’s accident and how I learned to draw." After his wife was paralyzed from the waist down, Gregory began to illustrate his life in New York. Interspersed among musings of being a bike messenger and the Bowery are these really intimate, contemplative moments musing on the unexpected path on which he finds his family.

2. A Year In Japan, by Kate T. Williamson.

God, what I wouldn't have given to have had strong photography skills when I did live in Japan. Williamson's drawings are meticulous and neat, reflecting her subject matter. And flipping through her book reminds me of how new and exciting Japan was for me when I first arrived (now I look at it through a cynical, graduate-school-research lens). I also love how close her illustrations are to the actual thing, but not in that creepy photo-realism way. Beautiful.


japanese TV: human tetris

You know what I love the most about the internets? That I don't physically have to be in Japan to enjoy Japanese television. And now, human tetris:

Advent Day 7: photobooth

Taken at Rayko Photo Center, SF.

whit and me: photobooth

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Advent Day 8: holiday cookies

I may have been overly ambitious with the holiday cookie plan this year (specifically, attempting to bake 4 different kinds in one evening), but we had a pretty good start. Dough is prepped and chillin' in the fridge for pepparkakas and espresso-bean shortbread. Made and baked these pixies (or chocolate crinkles). Mine didn't seem to come out as dark as the author's, but still springy and light and delicious all the same.


wallpaper from

Something I noticed at Stanford Memorial Church on Friday night was their beautiful brocade wallpaper on the second floor balconies. I didn't have much luck finding something similar on a cursory Google search, but found these nice ones at

Saturday, December 5, 2009

gift idea: The Annotated Alice

When I was studying in Japan, and starved for books to read that didn't require 3 dictionaries, I checked The Annotated Alice out of my school library.

I usually have a soft spot in my English-major heart for annotated accompaniments to novels, but this one is spectacular for two reasons:
  1. It transforms Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass from eclectic, druggy nonsense into a logical and reasonable story;
  2. It gave me an appreciation for theoretical mathematics.

Here's an excerpt from the book, after Alice picks up the rabbit's white gloves and fanning herself (original text on the left; annotations on the right):

$19.97 from

gift idea: Blackbird Fly TLR

The Blackbird Fly is a plastic twin-lens reflex camera that takes 35 mm film. It can either shoot full frame, square frame (24 mm), or "large" full frame (which extends the frame out past the sprockets of the film).

birdfly, originally uploaded by vashremix.

SFMOMA museum store is selling it for $125.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Advent Day 6: Lessons and Carols

For Day 6 of Advent, W and I went to Stanford MemChu for "Lessons and Carols."

The Nine Lessons and Carols is a service that I hadn't been familiar with, not having grown up going to church. In addition, when I did start going to church in high school, it was a United Methodist one, which doesn't do the more traditional "English" services. W knew about it, since he grew up Episcopalian (he even sang the solo in one of the included songs when he was little). It's a nice, straightforward service - short on words and plenty of singing. And the organist - rocking out to Widor's Toccata at the end - was the cherry on top.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Metropath(ologies), Personas

My friend, Blake Charlton posted a link to Personas, which is a data mining and visualization project by Aaron Ziman, an MIT graduate student. From the website:
Personas is a component of the Metropath(ologies) exhibit, recently on display at the MIT Museum by the Sociable Media Group from the MIT Media Lab. It uses sophisticated natural language processing and the Internet to create a data portrait of one's aggregated online identity. In short, Personas shows you how the Internet sees you.

Enter your name, and Personas scours the web for information and attempts to characterize the person - to fit them to a predetermined set of categories that an algorithmic process created from a massive corpus of data. The computational process is visualized with each stage of the analysis, finally resulting in the presentation of a seemingly authoritative personal profile.

How to interpret the results:

MIT Personas - how to interpret

My search in process:

MIT Personas in process

My results:

MIT Personas result

My main categories, in order of "bigness" are: education, medical, music, sports(?!), family, online, religion, and aggression(!!).

Advent Day 4: A Muppet Christmas Carol

Tonight, I'm hosting a hot cocoa party and viewing of A Muppet Christmas Carol. This is my favorite song from the movie:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent Day 3: christmas tree

For Day 3 of Advent, W and I decorated our Christmas tree.

christmas tree

It's a living Italian stone pine, which will eventually get to 12-20 m unless I kill it first. This is the first Christmas tree we've had at our current house. I've been picky about ornaments, so we got some lights, a few glass balls, and one porcelain bird, which even impressed the hardened cashier at Target.

tree ornament