Life During Quarantine

A while back, out of nowhere, I got the urge to fill out one of those surveys like the ones that used to circulate in my Hotmail and Myspace inboxes back in middle school: you know, the 100-line long questionnaires with annoying font colors and *~*wRiTiNg LiKe ThIs*~*.

Mostly I wanted to have something to fill out because it’d be an interesting snapshot of Life During Quarantine. But that was back in spring when everything still felt new and weird, and by now (apocalyptic skies aside), this pandemic lifestyle seems like the new normal. Wearing a mask is as second nature as grabbing my phone and keys when I walk out the door. Running essential errands or going on walks are pretty much the only reasons we go out. Seeing people hug on TV shows makes me uncomfortable. I’d say we’re in it for the long haul.

My personal journal (the one not on the Internet) used to be where I wrote about vacations and get-togethers; now it’s where I document the Netflix shows we’ve gone through and new recipes we’ve tried. I figured I’d pull out some of those mundane details and compile them here in a non-comprehensive list: newish and relevant movies, shows, albums, books, and other random things Alex and I have consumed since March of this year. Use it as a list of recommendations if you want, but mostly it’s just here to serve the same purpose as those middle school surveys: as a time capsule.

Movies

  • THE VAST OF NIGHT. Quirky low-budget Amazon Prime movie with surprising shifts in pace and a couple of genuinely chilling scenes. The setting is in a small New Mexico town in the atomic age, which gave me real The Return Part 8 vibes (not a bad thing).
  • DA 5 BLOODS. Hard to finish, but worth it. Chadwick Boseman plays a central role even though you only see him for about 20 minutes total.
  • STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. Watched this one as part of a virtual movie night hosted by our favorite neighborhood theater, the Balboa. A thoroughly enjoyable Hitchcock film with an insane climax. (The experience of watching with a chat room full of people—and everyone pressing play at the same time—had a very 2000s feel to it.)
  • MOONLIGHT. I regret that I didn’t see this when it first came out. It’s everything I love in a movie: the slow unfolding of a character arc, extremely aware of its setting, sad and beautiful all at once.
  • THE CONVERSATION. Paranoia in 1970s San Francisco? Say no more!
  • SHIRLEY. I just love that this movie exists. Plus, Elisabeth Moss as Shirley Jackson is a mood.

Documentaries and docuseries

  • THE BOOKSELLERS. A documentary about antiquarian booksellers, how very up our alley.
  • THE LAST DANCE. I don’t like sports and I don’t like drama, but somehow loved this docuseries about the 1990s Chicago Bulls?? A+ editing and interviews. And Alex got to relive the height of his basketball card-collecting years by naming every player who appeared on the screen and their team.
  • 13TH. An essential watch and another one I wish I’d seen sooner. Can’t recommend highly enough.
  • TAKE THIS HAMMER (DIRECTOR’S CUT). This was my proper introduction to James Baldwin, which I’m very grateful for. It’s also an important glimpse into San Francisco’s history with race. (Warning: it’s not pretty.)
  • A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. I need to read this book!!!
  • REMASTERED: THE TWO KILLINGS OF SAM COOKE. I naïvely didn’t know any of the history behind Sam Cooke and his music. A fascinating and depressing story.

TV shows and limited series

  • DARK. Just a great mind-bending, post-apocalyptic German show to watch in 2020. 
  • GODLESS. A quick little miniseries featuring an intimidating Jeff Daniels, a bunch of badass women, and some excellent western scenery.
  • WATCHMEN. Perhaps the most relevant thing in this whole post, and also one of my favorites even though I was hesitant at first to watch it. (It helped that Alex could explain the nuances of the DC universe to me while we watched, but that’s not necessary to enjoy it!!)
  • RUSSIAN DOLL. V easy to binge. Relatable in the sense that every day lately feels the same.
  • MANIAC. Weird/spooky/good.
  • THE X-FILES. We’re currently on Season 6 (a very alien-heavy season so far) and it’s been a ride. Not gonna lie, I’m mostly in it for the fandom, and so I can watch supercuts on YouTube without spoilers.

Books

  • TRICK MIRROR, Jia Tolentino. A collection of essays that hit hard.
  • THE OX, Chris Rees. a.k.a. John Entwistle’s authorized biography. Nothing too groundbreaking, but some good stories to be told.
  • THE MADDADDAM TRILOGY, Margaret Atwood. I would highly recommend reading this in 2020.
  • THE VANISHING HALF, Brit Bennett. A character-driven story set in some of my favorite places.
  • THE FIRE NEXT TIME, James Baldwin. An important read. Baldwin discusses ugly topics more eloquently than anyone I’ve ever read.
  • LITTLE WEIRDS, Jenny Slate. An apt title, and the kind of book you can read in bite-sized pieces. Depending on my mood during each chapter, I either loved or hated it.

Albums

  • SONGS FOR PIERRE CHUVIN, the Mountain Goats. I feel like I’m not a real Mountain Goats fan because I’m not as into the early stuff, but this came out at just the right time (April 2020) and the return to lo-fi was so befitting while we all stayed cooped up in our homes.
  • FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS, Fiona Apple. Sonically transcendent.
  • WOMEN IN MUSIC, PT. III, HAIM. Every track is just so good. Snippets of Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow, Ace of Base, and Uncle Kracker(?!). Fun fact: When it comes to Famous People of Our Generation, I’m one degree of separation away from Este Haim, who was in my classes/Bachelor’s program/graduating class at UCLA.
  • SET MY HEART ON FIRE IMMEDIATELY, Perfume Genius. So dreamy. Will probably always remind me of cooking dinner with Alex and Coop (who likes to sit on the fridge supervising us), one and a half glasses of wine in, thinking about how even though everything else in the world was a disaster, our tiny little family couldn’t be happier.

I’ve been lowkey making a pandemic playlist on Spotify, which you can find here. It’s mostly stuff that has come out since March, but also includes some older songs by artists we’ve lost since then, and some others that for whatever reason remind me of these strange times.

Recipes

  • Red pepper, potato, and peanut sabzi. Bon Appetit may be cancelled, but I’ll be forever grateful to the Test Kitchen squad for introducing us to some great recipes. This one from Priya is SO GOOD.
  • Sourdough crackers and sourdough biscuits. Thanks, King Arthur Flour! And thanks to my coworker Alysia for sharing some of her sourdough starter with me at the beginning of all this.
  • Homemade spaghetti and sauce from the excellent Pasta Grannies book. Our ultimate comfort food.
  • Char siu chicken banh mi. Ever since we learned we could pickle food, the idea of making our own banh mi has been so enticing. This was so fun to make (and eat)!
  • Turkish couscous. A refreshing dish made during the heatwave in early September.
  • Soyrizo burritos. I’ve eaten…..too many of these to count. Basically just involves cooking up some soyrizo with egg and potato, sometimes adding rice and beans, and making a burrito out of it. 

aaaand just for fun…

New names we’ve developed for Coop

The nicknames have evolved so much that it’s impossible to try and explain them.

  • Samba
  • Cross Finster
  • Crossover
  • Combination Lock
  • Congo
  • Joost

As a bonus, here’s a snapshot of the view from my desk at 9am on September 9, 2020, the day that San Francisco skies were on fire:

Important Beatle People: Astrid Kirchherr

Astrid!

Photographer and lifelong friend to my favorite boys from Liverpool. I was so sad to hear of her passing yesterday, but grateful to see such an outpouring of love for her work. I’ve wanted to do a tribute to Astrid for a while now…along with Klaus Voormann, she played such a huge role in shaping the Beatles’ image, and captured them beautifully in pictures.


Astrid was introduced to the Beatles by Klaus when they were playing their residency at the Kaiserkeller in Hamburg. She asked if they wouldn’t mind her taking some photos of them (and thankfully for all of us, they agreed). The result was their very first photoshoot, which is, to say the least, ICONIC:

She fell in love with Stuart Sutcliffe (John’s BFF from art school and then-bassist in the band) and Stuart eventually left the band to live with her. They got engaged, but he tragically died of a brain hemorrhage at age 21. Astrid captured some beautiful photos of Stuart, and also of John and George in his studio after his death:

After Ringo joined the band and the Beatles became worldwide pop stars, they all remained close and Astrid took some wonderful portraits of them, when most others were either overly posed or just plain awkward. I also love the candids she shot. I’m sure they were more at ease with her than any other photographers, and it shows.

She hung out with them during their newfound fame, took behind the scenes photos during the filming of A Hard Day’s Night, and stayed friends with them long after the band broke up. (I love the photos of George and Paul on holiday with Astrid – and Paul’s derpy face, haha. She was so pretty!)

Astrid eventually traded photography for interior design and lived a relatively quiet life in Hamburg, although she did a few photography retrospectives in recent years, I think. She passed away yesterday, aged 81. If you want to read more about her, this is a nice article.

Danke schön, Astrid. JPGR were so lucky to have met you.

The Bookends Poster Saga

Today would’ve been Record Store Day, but just like all other notable “holidays” that I usually celebrate around this time of year—Pi Day, April Fools’, Charlie Chaplin’s birthday—it was overshadowed by this pesky global pandemic and I very nearly forgot about it. (Technically, Record Store Day 2020 has been postponed to June 20, so hopefully we’ll get another chance to partake in crate-digging soon.)

Anyway, in celebration of what was supposed to be RSD 2020, today I donated to my favorite San Francisco record shop, spun some vinyl while reorganizing piles of paper in my work-from-home office (Paul and Linda’s Ram and the Stones’ Goats Head Soup, because I will never grow out of classic rock Saturday mornings), and then wrote a rambly homage to my favorite record album poster, this absolutely iconic image of Simon & Garfunkel from Bookends:

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…featuring a Coop butt

I still catch myself marveling at the presentation of the record album in general: the fact that every cover is a mini work of art, every vinyl disc contained in its own sleeve, and every once in a while, they’re accompanied by a full sized poster folded up neatly inside, an added bonus you didn’t even ask for. And yes, I’ve blogged about this before, but here I go again!


We bought our copy of Bookends on a brisk spring day in Lausanne, Switzerland, at a used record shop called Belair. I say “our” copy because I seem to recall upon sliding the record out of its sleeve and seeing the folds of a mint condition poster inside, Alex and I looked at each other in immediate and mutual recognition, making a silent decision that this was something we had to have. This was our first international trip together, a Genco family vacation to Venice and Tuscany with a little bit of Switzerland and France sprinkled in—and my first international trip, period—so I’m sure my memories are colored in a bit of a rosy tint. I’m not actually sure at all if that’s really what happened that day in the record store, but that’s what I remember. It was 2011.

We exited the record shop, which was located at the top of a graffitied flight of stairs. Back outside, a group of street musicians sang and played guitar in a plaza that overlooked a sea of terra cotta roofs. Kicking down the cobblestones in my coat and scarf and boots, newly acquired record tucked under my arm, I felt exactly like the type of person who would buy a Simon and Garfunkel record in Switzerland.

Back in our hotel room, we pulled out the poster and admired it in its full glory: Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel floating in nothingness, their bodies becoming the 59th Street Bridge and East River at sunset (or is it sunrise?), a sprig of flowers artfully placed above Art’s shoulder. The bridge, the flowers, the turtlenecks: it perfectly embodied the aesthetic of late-1960s folky New York, a time and place I desperately wish I could’ve experienced.

When we returned from our trip to our little San Fernando Valley apartment, the carefully packed record and poster were waiting for me in my suitcase. Instead of buying a new frame, I repurposed a cheap plastic frame I was using to display another favorite poster: a black and white photo of the Beatles from the Mad Day Out session, the one of them huddled together in the London wind, their signatures scribbled below the photo in gold. The frame was very slightly too big for the S&G poster, so instead of having the cardboard backing peek out around the edges, I put the Bookends poster directly on top of the Beatles poster, which from far away made it look like it had a nice white matting. The bottom of the T in the Beatles logo peeked out from behind, along with pen strokes from Paul and Ringo’s signatures, but they were hardly noticeable.

Simon & Garfunkel, sandwiched between the Beatles and cheap plastic, have graced the walls of four apartments and one house since then. They presided over my cinderblock-and-wood bookshelf in the LA house Alex and I shared with three musicians, in a bedroom of Ikea furniture and tablas and a boxy TV with a rabbit-ear antenna. Then when Alex got a job in San Francisco and we moved into a tiny studio in Cole Valley, they were the first thing you saw after climbing up our stairwell, greeting each visitor to our cozy one-room home. They followed us to our Inner Richmond apartment, hanging prominently from a picture hook and fishing wire in our sun-filled Victorian living room. And when we moved to the top of a foggy hill in the Outer Richmond, they took up residence on a wall in our “dining room,” named that only because it’s where the dining table was, not because we ever ate there. They’ve made their way into the background of so many photos I’ve taken over the years that Google Photos includes both Simon and Garfunkel in the personalized “People & Pets” album that it created for me:

peoplepetsalbum

Now, in Bernal Heights, we’ve leveled up to a two-bedroom apartment. The second bedroom was originally intended to be a recreation room/guest room but now serves as a work-from-home office. I had grand ideas for the rec room when we first moved here, which involved framing and hanging all of our Fillmore concert posters, the enormous 2001: A Space Odyssey poster Alex got from an executive at his company, and the six Star Trek posters we bought online: one for each TOS movie. I didn’t get much further than the Fillmore posters, and then the record player got finicky, so we ended up spending less time in the rec room than we originally thought we would. In an effort to fill up blank wall space and keep the room from looking too depressing, I put our trusty Bookends poster above the futon, where it’s been hanging slightly askew for the past year and a half. As a result, S&G now watch over me every day while I work, occasionally making an appearance in a Zoom meeting, always there to transport me—even if for a second—back to another time and place where my nostalgia can run free.

It’d been a long time since I’d actually listened to the Bookends album itself, but one recent night (pre-quarantine) when I was home alone and accidentally got too high, I put on Side A and let “Save the Life of My Child” rattle my eardrums as I lay on the futon in a daze, staring up at the 59th Street Bridge and the East River as “America” morphed into “Overs” morphed into “Voices of Old People,” which seemed to carry on forever until I found myself in a silent room, the record having stopped 10 minutes prior. Listening again today, the album feels like a collage: snippets of sounds cut and pasted, images of park benches and Greyhound buses and Kellogg’s cornflakes, all of it glued together with the simple and heart-wrenching “Bookends” theme. I had forgotten how lovely it is.

I’ll be forever grateful to that record shop in Lausanne for gifting us with this album and poster. It’s not a rare album by any means (although it can be tough to find with the original poster in good condition), but something about the circumstances in which I came across it makes it feel more special than most records I own. I hope Belair is doing ok these days, and that record stores everywhere are able to come out of this in tact. It’s been a quieter RSD than usual, but I’m still thankful to be able to celebrate it.

Bonus material, thanks to Google’s People & Pets album:

Lost Highway / The Straight Story

Hello again!  I’m back because there are two David Lynch movie scenes I really needed to share somewhere.

Last week we went to a late night showing of Lost Highway at the Alamo Drafthouse (they were screening it as part of their “Weird Wednesdays” series), which in retrospect was a pretty bold move on my part. Before going to the theater, when Alex asked if we should bring earplugs, I scoffed and said no, it was a movie, not a rock show. An hour later, I was white-knuckling the armrests, frantically considering whether to run to the lobby and ask if they sell Hearos, or go to the bathroom and grab a bunch of toilet paper to wad up and stick in my ears. Confession: I was not prepared for David Lynch Sound Effects at movie theater volumes.

Anyway, you’re going to have to trust me that the movie is darker than this (keywords: “psychological mindf*ck”, “murder scene on staticky VHS tape”, “Rammstein”), but I sought out this scene afterward because it was such a welcome/bewildering break from the horror in the rest of the movie, and will forever be the scene I think of when someone’s driving too close behind me:

The other scene I wanted to share comes from The Straight Story, David Lynch’s wholesome Disney movie, which we watched to soften the blow from Lost Highway. People say this movie is such a deviation for Lynch, but I see so much Twin Peaks in it: it’s a slow burn that follows an old man as he drives from Iowa to Wisconsin on a lawnmower, full of long tracking shots and dialogue with slightly offbeat characters. As you might expect, I thought it was excellent.

Here is the most Lynchian scene in The Straight Story:

Bonus: This scene, in which Alvin buys a grabber at the hardware store, is positively perfect in every way.

For those following along, here’s my list of Watched David Lynch Movies so far:

  • Fire Walk With Me
  • Mulholland Drive
  • Inland Empire
  • Blue Velvet
  • The Straight Story
  • Lost Highway

Help us decide: between Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Dune, and Wild At Heart, which should we watch next?

The Return

Well, if this coronavirus scare is good for one thing, it’s forcing me to stay at home, sitting at my computer being bored and introspective to the point of reviving this blog. *dusts off WordPress dashboard*

To quickly summarize the last half a year in a nutshell: I started writing more for Hoodline (some recent stories I’m proud of can be found here and here), watched every Bon Appetit Test Kitchen video in existence and have expanded my home cooking repertoire by at least 2 recipes, and joined an all-women community orchestra in Oakland! It’s been a joy having weekly access to percussion instruments and the opportunity to play really cool pieces with epic chime parts like this one.

One of the pieces for our winter concert was Appalachian Spring, but as one might expect, the show was cancelled (thanks, coronavirus). So in honor of this famous piece I still haven’t played in concert, I wanted to share some other versions of Appalachian Spring.

A really impressive choreographed version by the UMD Symphony Orchestra:

1987 Cadets’ closer (good lord, drum corps crowds in the 80s were nuts):

Blast! (remember Blast!? The 2000s vibes are strong in this video):

EDIT: The musicians of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra playing their parts from home during quarantine. Amazing.

And, just for funsies, a different “spring” (YouTube suggested this video to me, and I won’t lie, it’s exactly the kind of content I want to see):

Death by time signature!

Ode to the CD-R

This post is about what happens when I go home to Vista and tell my mom I can help get rid of stuff, and then end up finding old things in boxes, getting all nostalgic, and memorializing them in writing instead.

One of the last times I went home, I found a stash of burned CDs in my childhood closet. It’s probably safe to say there were hundreds of them, organized into cases by time period or theme or vacation. One case had a bunch of mixes my friend Jen had burned for me in middle school: a time capsule of Y2K-era pop songs and sound bytes from Space Ghost Coast to Coast and The Osbournes. A separate case had all the Beatles bootlegs I’d downloaded from Kazaa: demos and alternate takes and obscure interviews (undoubtedly I included some of these in the mixes I made for Jen, even though she always made sure to tell me how much she didn’t like the Beatles).

Several other cases were full of the mixes I made in high school. There was a CD for pretty much every band tournament or trip I went on between 2002 and 2006. Most of them were a hodgepodge of whatever “songs of the week” I was into at the time, which almost always fell into one of two categories: early 2000s pop punk or 1960s classic rock. Besides the name of the tournament or trip, none of the CDs have their contents written on them, but most followed a similar structure: some rock songs to get me hyped on the bus ride to a show, then a whole slew of emo-adjacent songs in the middle that I typically listened to on the night ride home (hello Postal Service), then a few more peppy songs to even it out. I stuck to this pattern because it made it easy to skip the emo stuff if I wasn’t in the mood.

There were also two full cases of ripped drum corps shows and wind ensemble recordings, in case you ever doubted my band nerdiness. Another random stack consisted of maybe a dozen mixes I made in college (“Night Drives,” “Guitar Hero 2,” “S&G”), but by then CDs were becoming a thing of the past and we’d all moved on to that iPod life.

I played a couple of the old CDs for funsies—yes, we still have a stereo that plays CDs—and almost immediately cringed at the jarring jumps between decades/genres (no joke: The Who > Sum 41 > solo Mick Jagger > Avril Lavigne, yikes). BUT, it also made me remember how much effort had to go into the creation of that one cringey mix. Pre-iTunes/Spotify/YouTube, in the year 2000 AD, you had to obtain the songs you wanted usually by asking a friend if you could borrow a CD or finding/downloading songs from a P2P platform (shoutout to Kazaa and Bearshare)…then, once you ripped your CDs and downloaded your files, you’d take the songs you were into at the moment and organize them in some software like Nero, probably around 10-15 of them at a time because that’s all an audio CD-R could hold…then you’d put in an empty disc from the stack on the desk and wait for the computer to acknowledge it (sometimes it didn’t) and finally write your audio files to that flimsy piece of plastic, which would inevitably fail the first time and spin hopelessly and silently in your CD player until you tried again on a new disc, at which point you could finally, actually listen to your mediocre pop-punk-classic-rock mix in satisfaction. (Not trying to make excuses for my questionable music choices, but I do admire the patience of my former self for repeating that process literally hundreds of times.)

For every 20 CDs I burned, there were probably at least 10 failed attempts that ended up tossed in a corner somewhere. I didn’t throw them out because I thought maybe I could use them for a funky art project or something, but they eventually ended up in the trash along with any other CDs that got too scratched or held too many embarrassing memories. As for the rest, they were shuffled around in duffle bags and backpacks and car stereos for a good decade or so, until coming to rest in their clear sleeves in the cases in my closet. None are memorable enough to recreate (or even listen to again), but I don’t think I could ever get rid of them. So…sorry Mom, they’re just going to keep taking up space in the closet until one day I have my own house I can move all my old stuff into.

Anyway, I guess that does it for my short tribute to compact discs on a blog that at one point was all about records. Nostalgia is a funny thing.

Anime art appreciation: Your Name

Oh hey, just dropping in to share these beautiful screenshots from the anime Your Name (Makoto Shinkai, 2016). We watched this the other night and I couldn’t stop ogling over the artwork (the rest of it is good too, if you’re like me and love stories about fate and dreams and memory). I also enjoyed the original soundtrack by a band called RADWIMPS; it’s basically the same kind of introspective pop I liked in high school, but in Japanese.

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A Twin Peaks Pilgrimage, in photos

Happy one year anniversary of Twin Peaks returning to TV!

I guess it’s appropriate—but also completely coincidental—that last week Alex and I rented a car in Seattle, hopped on I-90 east toward Snoqualmie, and went on a day-long expedition to visit a bunch of Twin Peaks filming locations. (Alex had been in town for a work conference; I was just along for the ride.)

I took an abundance of pictures with my phone, so figured I’d put them here and try to match them up with stills from the show, because that’s what normal people do, right? It’s kind of fun to note that the original series takes place in February-March, so everything’s all barren trees and snowy mountains and trench coats…in contrast, we visited on one of the most beautiful days of the year: super blue skies, 75 degree weather, and abundant sunshine. As a result, here are some photos of David Lynch’s dark/moody Twin Peaks compared with our bright/sunny Twin Peaks.


First up was the welcome sign (or at least, the site of it—apparently there was a sign, but it got stolen 😢). This view actually faces away from the town, so you’d actually be driving into the mountains if you kept going.

Right down the road was Ronette’s bridge (the railroad tracks were added by Lynch & Co.). This bridge goes right over the Snoqualmie River and is a surprisingly beautiful place to take a walk, if you’re not Ronette Pulaski.

Another short distance away was the Sheriff’s Department building. In real life it’s a rally racing school called DirtFish. Ran into several other Peakies here (it was pretty easy to tell who was there for racing and who wasn’t).

We also went inside!

They must get this a lot, but the staff was totally cool with us taking photos. I know nothing about rally racing, but there was some pretty neat gear—and old cars—inside the building. Someone also decided to cater to the Twin Peaks crowd by parking this decorated Ford Bronco outside:

It’s weird how your mind fills in the landscape around all these fictional places. Case in point: for some reason I always imagined the Packard Sawmill at the edge of a forest bordering some water, when in real life it’s right down the street from the rally racing school parking lot, in the middle of a big field. Its real name is the Weyerhaeuser Mill, and it’s been out of service for 15 years:

By far the most touristy spot (for reasons other than Twin Peaks) was Snoqualmie Falls. It was a pretty impressive sight, but I don’t think I fully appreciated it at the time because I was very concerned with finding a bathroom (#girlproblems). The falls are featured in the opening credits of the show and any time you see an exterior shot of the Great Northern Hotel, which is actually Salish Lodge and Spa:

The interior of the Great Northern wasn’t shot at Salish Lodge though; you have to go across the bay (sound?) to Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo to see all the painted wood walls and giant fireplaces. Sadly we didn’t make it to Kiana Lodge but I really want to go there someday and dance in Ben Horne’s office.

After the falls we made a quick stop at the Roadhouse, located just north in the town of Fall City:

Then we looped back down to go to Twede’s (a.k.a. the Double R Diner) for lunch, obvi:

My favorite part of lunch was watching a group of people who were clearly fans of the show try to contain their excitement as they walked into the diner, because I’d done the exact same thing. It’s so hard not to squee when you feel like you’re stepping into the Double R!

The place definitely caters to Peakies (I feel like an unassuming patron would be confused at why half of the signs inside advertise a diner of a different name). But that aside, it’s just your average small-town diner playing country music from the radio. We were there at 12:30pm and I’m pretty sure the number of employees outnumbered the patrons.

For the record, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, lemonade, and a slice of cherry pie. Alex ordered a BLT and coffee. I messed up the pie order by getting whipped cream, so it wasn’t very photo-worthy. We’ll just have to go again someday….

I tried to find a scene that takes place at the same table we sat at (the center booth on the left side), but most important conversations seem to take place closer to the back of the diner. Here’s one though!, featuring everyone’s favorite giggling waitress.

Last on our itinerary was the infamous Palmer house. Although all of the above filming locations are within a few minutes from each other, the house is about an hour north, in Everett. That gave us plenty of time to listen to the Twin Peaks soundtrack, which I would highly recommend if you take a similar journey. It sets the mood perfectly, and gets you nice and psyched up for the moment you drive up to this place:

We parked across the street and were surprised to see that the front door was wide open. I’d read that the current owner of the house (who also made a pretty important cameo in the show *SPOILERS*) sometimes lets fans come inside, so after much debate, we finally decided we would peek in and see if anyone was home. Turns out the owner was home, but it was her daughter who came to the door, and told us her mom was on the phone and “it wasn’t really a good time.” She was super apologetic and nice, and told us we were welcome to take pictures outside. That was already way more than I was expecting, so we took our photos and went on our way.

From there we drove back to our Seattle Airbnb (which happened to be a haunted saloon and former brothel; a story for another post, maybe) and celebrated our successful day with fine craft beer from Fremont Brewing, an excellent dinner at Damn the Weather, and a few rounds of the Great Seattle Wheel at dusk. Now that I’m thinking back on it, it was a pretty perfect day, Diane.


In short, I’d highly recommend this excursion to anyone who’s a fan of the show. I wasn’t really expecting anything more than a fun photo op, but as it turns out, Dale Cooper’s fascination with this little corner of the Pacific Northwest was totally warranted. I had just as much fun exploring downtown Snoqualmie and all of its history as I did crossing off the pre-determined destinations on our map, which I’ll also include here for anyone interested (and for future reference, since I 100% expect to go back one day): Twin Peaks Filming Locations Map

To me, the world of Twin Peaks is about 90% of what makes the show so special. In the first two seasons, whenever the characters got unbearable or the story took a turn for the worse (I’m looking at you, Annie Blackburn), I could still revel in the magic of that little town in all its mysterious, scenic glory. And in Season 3, even though much of the action took place in other locations, every return to Twin Peaks felt oddly and wonderfully familiar.

I’ll leave you with this fan-made video of Dale Cooper’s first appearance in the show, intercut with some of Twin Peaks’ most iconic settings. A+ editing, one big thumbs up:

4 films that define you…go.

This made the rounds on Twitter earlier today, and it seemed like a fun thing to do. The challenge was to name four films that define you, in celebration of “the personal nature of cinema.” A worthy endeavor. It kind of evolved into people just posting four images or screencaps from their chosen movies, which is what I ended up doing too:

Pretty sure I’ve blabbed about each of these at some point on this blog, but here’s a summary.

Lost in Translation (2003)

The mood and music of Lost in Translation is basically my entire aesthetic. I love how Sofia Coppola captured the feeling of being anonymous in a big city, and the uncertainty of relationships caught in limbo, and the bittersweetness of not quite knowing what to do with your life. Also, Bill Murray is a national treasure.

Annie Hall (1977)

Liking Woody Allen movies is problematic these days, but that won’t stop me from considering Annie Hall one of the best films ever made. This movie assured me that being neurotic and awkward was ok, as long as I could find someone else equally neurotic and awkward to talk about it with (Annie Hall was one of the first things Alex and I bonded over when we met). Plus, it’s so packed with memorable scenes that I regularly forget that Paul Simon is in it, which is quite a feat.

Easy Rider (1969)

Easy Rider is the 1960s—my spirit decade—in movie form. It’s basically an extended road trip montage backed by an amazing soundtrack. And because the 60s weren’t all peace and love, it also gets pretty dark, a true period piece if ever there was one. Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper are great, but Jack Nicholson most definitely steals the show. I quote this film probably once a week at minimum.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

I was having a hard time choosing between this and a Chaplin/Keaton film, but went with Sunset Boulevard because it celebrates the silent era while also embodying the Hollywood of the 1950s, in all its noir splendor. And because glorifying the past is one of my favorite things to do. Me and Norma Desmond have a lot in common, as it turns out.


Putting this together made me realize that setting plays a huge role in all of my favorite movies. Tokyo, New York City, the American Southwest, Los Angeles…I have a personal connection with all of these places, and undoubtedly they are part of the reason I love each of these films so much.

For funsies, here are my runners-up:

A Hard Day’s Night (1964) – This movie changed my life (or more accurately, the people in it changed my life). It was a tough one to leave out of the top 4.
Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995) – Sigh. Mr. Holland’s Opus will always hold a special place in my heart for starting me on my journey to band geekdom.
Amadeus (1984) – I loooove the set design, and I looooove Mozart.
Sherlock Jr. (1924) – Ahhh, so many good visual tricks in this one. This one doesn’t really define me in any way; I wanted to include a silent film as a reminder that movies were on a completely different (and in many ways, more creative) level in the 1910s and 1920s.

Anyone else? Share your 4 films with meeeeee.

Music Sampler: Feb ’18

Last week we went to a super fun show at the Fox featuring Tune-Yards, Thao and The Get Down Stay Down, and Sudan Archives. (There was another opening act we missed and who I had a heck of a time finding online because the artist’s name is Siri…I’m 90% sure this is her, though.) Thought I would share some of the music with y’all, since it’s been floating around in my head ever since.

Sudan Archives is from Cincinnati and now based in LA. I can see why she’d be on the same bill as Tune-Yards; her performance was a mix of live vocals and violin over dope percussion loops. Here’s a taste:

Thao and The Get Down Stay Down is a San Francisco-based band who I’d heard but had never seen live (here’s a neat little introduction to frontwoman Thao Nguyen). After listening to a bit more of their stuff, I think I prefer some of the more recent/gritty songs, but chose this video from 2013 because it captures that fun point in time when both the old and new Bay Bridge existed:

Then there’s Tune-Yards a.k.a. tUnE-yArDs a.k.a. Merrill Garbus of Oakland, CA. The only other time I’d seen Tune-Yards was a free show in Stern Grove, a totally different—and equally awesome—experience. This show had fewer personnel: just Merrill, Nate Brenner, and a drummer (sorry I don’t know his name!!) and less live percussion, but way more visual pizzazz. I usually don’t care that much about stuff like staging and lighting design, but the light show kind of blew me away (a sample).

Tune-Yards have a new album out called I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life. It’s taking me a while to get into the album itself, but I really enjoyed the songs when they were played live at the Fox. Here’s the most recent music video; it’s got some pretty sweet dance moves:

While we’re here showcasing righteous female singers, I’ll include a few more for your listening pleasure:

In other news, it’s been raining a lot and I’ve been in a much more bloggy mood lately, so hopefully I’ll have more to share on here soon.