Those good good Beatles harmonies

Last week, after a particularly long bus ride in which I listened to “Yes It Is” (a severely underrated song, IMO) no less than five times in a row, I was inspired to compile the perfect playlist of Beatles harmonies. Or at least, perfect to me.

This is by no means comprehensive…just a few of my favorites, arranged (mostly) chronologically because I always think it’s so interesting to hear how the Beatles’ songwriting/recording techniques evolved over time. It’s like you can hear them getting more comfortable singing together with each song, until finally you get to “Because” which 100% always blows me away with those goosebump-inducing vocals.

(If you don’t have Spotify, I’m sorry. It’s impossible to make a Beatles playlist on YouTube.)

I had to include “The End,” because 1) the other Abbey Road songs kinda leave you hanging, and 2) they do sneak some great harmonies in there.

Also, yesterday was George’s birthday! Happy birthday, dear George.

geo-garden

friarpark1

tumblr_o3ae6cd7mb1sk9evxo1_500

February music roundup

All of these artist discoveries have been thanks to my latest A Song A Day curator (Janet Choi, YOU DA BEST). I’ve enjoyed listening to this music so much that I had to share some of it here.

Kaia Kater. Beautiful lyrics and Americana sound (even though she’s Canadian)! Love love love.

Jacob Collier. Holy smokes, this kid! Apparently he writes/arranges, records, produces, and performs everything himself. The song that got me hooked was his cover of “In My Room” but honestly, everything he does is pretty phenomenal.

The Lemon Twigs. I listened to their album Do Hollywood and concluded that they’re trying to be the Beatles, Queen, and The Who all at once, and it is great. Also, they’re only 17 and 19 years old!

MAGIK*MAGIK. Beautiful new music straight from San Francisco (well in this case, the Fox Theater in Oakland).

In which I try to understand science

Yesterday we finally experienced David Byrne and Mala Gaonkar’s Neurosociety project in Menlo Park (some context). It was pretty fascinating: part art exhibit and part science lab – 80 minutes in small rooms with 8 strangers.

Here are my rambly, non-scientific observations, for anyone interested.

Continue reading “In which I try to understand science”

Hello, my treacherous friends

Ok, so I’ve been seeing this Top 10 High School Albums thing circulating around lately, and since I’m all about lists…and albums, and high school nostalgia…I figured I should probably do it (and then not post it on Facebook, because wow, apparently everyone else had much cooler musical tastes than I did as a teenager).

You might think I chose period-appropriate albums when I could’ve actually named a bunch of 60s/70s albums, but in fact, I did listen to a lot of current music in high school. :P These are the albums that will forever remind me of beach bonfires, driving to the Krikorian, coming home from band tournaments with my CD player tucked in my jacket pocket…basically, a time capsule of high school in Southern California circa 2002-2006.

img_6827
Ahhh, so many awkward, acne-filled memories…
  • OK Go, OK Go. I think I listened to OK Go and Oh No equally, but picked the former because it has a cooler cover. One of the two albums was always in my car stereo.
  • Make Up the Breakdown, Hot Hot Heat. My pitfriends and I were really into this album during the summer of ’05 (I think Alie even made screen-printed Hot Hot Heat t-shirts for us, although maybe I’m thinking of OK Go). Whatever happened to these guys?
  • Give Up, The Postal Service. For when I wanted to feel moody and introspective.
  • Rooney, Rooney. One of those “all my band friends are listening to this so I’ll listen to it too” albums. It was my personal soundtrack to Hawaii ’05.
  • Live at Leeds, The Who. I went a little Who-crazy the summer before senior year (like, writing-fan-letters-to-Pete-Townshend crazy). This album is unique because 1) it’s a live album, and I’m not usually a fan of live albums, and 2) it’s one of the few classic rock albums that does remind me of high school. Still a favorite.
  • Hot Fuss, The Killers. This has senior year written aaaallllll over it.
  • Catalyst, New Found Glory. An album that I bought solely because my crush liked it. As a result, I listened to it more than I’d like to admit.
  • Ocean Avenue, Yellowcard. I mean, who didn’t listen to Yellowcard in 2004??
  • Strong Bad Sings (And Other Type Hits). My years in high school coincided with the golden age of homestarrunner.com. As a result, my friend Kyle and I both bought this album, and sampled it heavily in our Music Tech class. I still regularly find myself singing “The Cheat Is Not Dead” and the Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes theme song.
  • Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack. Not even embarrassed at how much I listened to this. Ok, maybe just a little.
To end with, here’s an 8tracks playlist I made a few years ago that pretty much sums it up:

The past harmonizes

Oh, hello. Apparently it’s almost 2017.

November and December sped by so fast that I wound up at home in Vista the week before New Years, feeling like the holidays never even happened. While I’m here attempting to soak up some Southern California sunshine, here’s a quick(ish) update.


It has been a strange year, hasn’t it? If you follow me on Twitter, I already mentioned it there, but I just finished Stephen King’s 11/22/63, a novel about JFK’s assassination and the consequences of time travel. In the book, the main character goes back in time to try and prevent Lee Harvey Oswald from killing JFK, but because the past doesn’t want to change, horrible things keep happening to keep him from doing it. And now I’m convinced that a bad guy has come back in time to 2016 to change history and make Trump president (what other explanation could there be??), and as punishment, 2016 is taking away all of our favorite people.

David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Glenn Frey, George Martin, Maurice White, Prince, Sharon Jones, Leon Russell, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Anton Yelchin, Florence Henderson, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Harper Lee, Elie Wiesel, Muhammad Ali, John Glenn…

The list, sadly, goes on.

Some of these deaths could be predicted, others were an unexpected punch to the gut. Especially David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, who each released incredible albums this year, and Prince, who was still performing up until his last days. What a simultaneously great and depressing year in music.

But let’s also remember that in 2016, the Cubs won the World Series, Leo won an Oscar, and my overcrowded, underfunded high school won a $10 million grant. This, plus the list above and the presidential election, goes to show that just about anything—no matter how unbelievable—is capable of happening. Hopefully 2017 gives us more of the good stuff and less of the awful.


On a personal note, 2016 was pretty surreal (in a mostly good way). I quit my comfy career in recruiting operations to become a full-time writer, which has always been my dream. I also started volunteering for the drum corps I was a member of in ’07-’08. Alex and I moved to the Outer Richmond, and as part of my work for Hoodline, I’ve gotten to know so many wonderful people in my neighborhood and throughout San Francisco. Instead of going to NYC in October as planned, we ended up spending 4 days in the hospital (don’t worry, all is fine now). And over Thanksgiving break, we adopted a 6-month-old kitty named Cooper (as with any modern cat, you can follow his adventures on Instagram). So it’s been a rewarding but extremely busy year! I have some personal projects I want to work on in 2017, and I can’t tell yet if that’ll mean more or less blog posts. Either way, this will always be where I go when I have a new obsession or want to fangirl over the Monkees, so you can at least count on a few new posts.

Byeeeeee 2016, we won’t miss you.

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?”

photo-gabriella-angotti-jones
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!

Confessions about Twin Peaks

twin-peaks-catherineecoulson

(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.

16
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.

tumblr_mvcgup0scz1r8swmoo4_500
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.

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.
color
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.

b24a1b32a9075c7e1f5666f992747b38
Thanks guys, you’re the best.

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.

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.

10550-john-george-ringo

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.