Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

Not being Jewish I'm intrigued by JDate. There are other target-specific dating sites out there, but JDate has a different aura to it and it seems those who I have met who confess to being members approach the use of it with vigor and intensity. Most of what I hear is negative, but the fact that its use is popular suggests that it's a more effective tool than what the stories I have heard make it out to be.

This week's couple met on JDate when they were both on the verge of canceling their memberships:

Briana Goldfein and Matthew Holden

He's a lawyer. I'm sure mother would approve.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Song of the Week: "Lay Your Head Down"

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Download: Keren Ann - "Lay Your Head Down"

We're back! After a brief hiatus due to moving and simply being busy, we have a brand new song of the week.

Keren Ann's beguiling "Lay Your Head Down" charms the listener right from the start with its guitar/handclap intro, and only becomes more seductive when her vocals come on inviting you to lay your head down in her arms. It's a gorgeous song for a breezy summer day spent on the grass with someone you love.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

FREE! Sea Wolf at Hammer Museum Tonight

Sea Wolf, originally uploaded by savemejebus.
Just a reminder that tonight is the final night of Indie 103.1's "Also I Like to Rock Series" at Hammer Museum. Sea Wolf and Midnight Movies will be performing.

It has been a great series, but as much as I like Sea Wolf I doubt they can top the Little Ones' exuberant performance earlier this month, but they are certainly worth checking out.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

This week's couple met in a Columbia University elevator:

Phyllis Chiang and Christopher Higgins

Not to overanalyze these things, but Mr. Higgins's final quote, "Thank goodness for slow elevators," is a reminder of how in being in a constant hurry all the time, we may miss out on golden opportunities. Mr. or Mrs. Right may pass you by just because you were in a rush. As Barbara Walters says, take the time to enjoy the view.

Congratulations to the happy couple. I'm pretty sure "Love in an Elevator" got some airplay during the reception.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Food Run

The last few weeks I've been running after work on Wednesdays with Frontrunners in Santa Monica. They're a fun bunch and last night they had their monthly potluck after the run. I brought Diddy Riese cookies to the mix and I expected the fare to be of the chips-and-dip variety, but I really should have expected more from a bunch of gay men. There was not a bag of chips in sight. Instead, for example, Jeff, who I had the privilege of running with last night, made a terrific tabouli salad and baked a blueberry pie. Someone else made a nice tossed salad (har har) and someone else brought a couple bottles of shiraz. This was no simple potluck. My contribution looked paltry--a small bag of cookies--but at least it was quality cookies. I'm going to have to bring my "A" game next time and whip out something impressive.

As for the run, I covered the 4.3 mile loop twenty seconds faster than last week at about 34:16. I believe that's under an 8 minute pace.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

NY Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

This week instead of highlighting one couple, I thought I would highlight what I saw as the trend of the week: elementary school teachers getting hitched.

Cara Gearty and Scott Douglass
Alexandra Flood and Samuel Alcoff
Benita Gold and Rudy Schaeffer
Danielle Morris and Daniel Stern
Laura Worth and Phillip Ingle
Alison Cupp and Richard Relyea

Now that school is out it seems as if teachers are getting married in droves. For the first time since I can remember, teachers outnumbered bankers and analysts in this week's announcements. Bankers will likely return to their rightful place atop the wedding announcement pile, but for this week alone teachers rule.

I also noticed that a couple of the newly married teachers will not be going back to their jobs. It does not appear to be a case of "Woo-hoo, I'm married and I don't have to work anymore!" but rather they are taking the opportunity to earn a masters degree and move on up the educational ladder, but I do wonder whether the old-timey notion of teaching as a temporary career prior to getting married still prevails. Are single girls (as the notion goes) biding their time at the little red schoolhouse until Mr. Right comes along?

In any event, elementary school teachers are the Newlyweds of the Week!

Monday, July 16, 2007


I've slacked off on posting a Song of the Week, but I will have a new one this week and the NY Times Wedding Announcement of the Week will soon follow. Work has kept me busy the last few days, but to add to that I've been in the process of moving. As of yesterday I am now in Hollywood. The move went smoothly enough with the help of my brother

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Photos: The Little Ones @ the Hammer Museum

Photos from the Little Ones show at the Hammer Museum on Thursday, July 12.

Raised Fist
New Recruits
Dance Party VI
Dance Party XI

More photos HERE.

Someone posted a video on YouTube of the encore. Experience some of the joy and energy of it by watching it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Running Update and the Little Ones

For what was initially a running blog I really haven't been writing much about my running of late. Partly it's because you can only say so much and another part is that I'm not really training for anything. My only scheduled race is the San Jose Rock n Roll Half Marathon in October. I am thinking of doing America's Finest City (EDIT: Just found out the half is already full...wahwahwah) again in August but I really do have to cut back on my race spending. I'll save my moolah for a marathon-to-be-named-later by the end of the year.

I've been running, though. Last weekend I ran with FJ and Andy for six miles. I haven't gone farther than eight since the San Diego marathon, but I've been running regularly. I've started running on Wednesdays with Frontrunners in Santa Monica, and I'm running on my own--often at the gym--two to three times a week. Early on in my running, if I wasn't training for anything, I would let my training slip. It's easy to get lazy when there's no motivation. But I guess I've been running long enough that it's become a habit. Even with no race in sight I'm keeping at it, but admittedly the dream of six-pack abs is helping drive it.

Last night I decided to do a speed workout at Drake Stadium intending to do mile repeats at a 7:12 pace. I wasn't feeling it during the warm-up but that's often the case. It takes me a while to get going. However, within the first lap of the first mile, I knew I wasn't going to make it, so I switched to Yassos instead using my mile repeat pace. Even though I stepped back to Yassos it was still a rough go. I did six Yasso repeats and struggled with all of them even though I hit my marks. This was a pace I had an easy time with only a couple of weeks ago. I'll attribute the tough training session to having run hard the night before with Frontrunners coupled with lack of sleep all week. Or it could just be one of those days. I'll switch the speed workout to a different day. Mondays might be the best time.

* * * * *

After my run, I headed to the Hammer Museum for the Little Ones show. The Pity Party opened, a duo (female drummer/keyboardist/vocalist and male guitarist/vocalist). They were messy and rough and had some nice moments, but I tuned them out for the most part.

The Little Ones, though, were no less than brilliant. I try not to speak in hyperbole but it's impossible not to in discussing their performance last night. If the Hammer Museum courtyard had a roof they would have blew it off. They closed with "Lovers Who Uncover" and left with the crowd asking for more, so they came back on for an encore. They invited a couple of deliriouly enthusiastic fans onstage to dance around, who in turn invited half the audience to come join them onstage. These are probably the same people who, when invited to a private party, tell everyone else about it until you wind up with your mother's best china all over the kitchen floor. Soon the tiny, makeshift stage was filled with over a dozen fans dancing as the Little Ones played and looked on at the scene they had created. It was a mad sight but all in good fun. All the flailing bodies onstage added irony to the song, which I think is called "Isolation." It was glorious. I got some great pictures and was hoping to post them today but I fell asleep from exhaustion. I'll post them soon enough, though.

But the message is clear: everyone must see the Little Ones.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A "Little" Night Music

Don't forget, the Little Ones play a free show at the Armand Hammer Museum tonight in Westwood as part of Indie 103.1's Also I Like to Rock series. Also performing is the Pity Party. I'll be there. Buy me drinks!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Awesome! I Shot That!, Part 2

I guess there are no other photographs of Dutton's available on the web because after being published on Curbed LA, my pictures of Dutton's now appear on LAist.

Monday, July 09, 2007

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

Apart from Andrew Solomon's (The Noonday Demon) union this week to John Habich, the 07/07/07 lot of wedding announcements were an uninspired bunch. They seem to get drier and drier each week. I really expected more from the 07/07/07 bunch. I really feel bad for those who have their anniversaries on 07/07/07. Think of the dinner reservation nightmares next year when a whole bunch of them celebrate their first anniversary.

For this week's announcement I chose one I have a distant connection to:

Jana Gasn and Kyle Beauchamp

I worked for a couple of years in the same company as Mr. Beauchamp's father. I never worked with him directly but we would exchange pleasantries at the coffee room. He was known for bringing his adorable, albeit large, golden retriever to work. The dog was the most docile dog I've ever seen. He would just lie by Tom's desk while Tom worked. When Tom got up, the dog (whose name I've forgotten) would follow him lazily through the maze of desks. I never heard him bark and never got in the way. Other employees brought their dogs and other pets to work but none were as adorable or well-behaved as Tom's.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Awesome! I Shot That!

Look! I'm a published photographer! A photo I took of Duttons' courtyard is on Curbed LA. It's not even the best picture of the courtyard I took either. I prefer this one:

Duttons Courtyard

Bits and Pieces

-The one thing everyone learned from Albert Gore III's arrest: The Toyota Prius can go over 100 mph.

-07/07/07 is going to be one of the busiest wedding days ever. Everyone wants to get married on Lucky 7's.

-Oh, how fun would it be to have Paris Hilton's old phone number...on second thought, I would hate how often it must ring in the middle of the night.

-A historic Victorian house on Angelino Heights was damaged by fire yesterday. I hope it's not this one:
Beautiful Victorian House

-The first night of "Also I Like To Rock" at the Hammer Museum in Westwood was last night with Foreign Born and Great Northern performing. Good stuff from both. Next week: THE LITTLE ONES!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Song of the Week: "Bad Reputation"

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Download: Freedy Johnston – “Bad Reputation”

Freedy Johnston’s “Bad Reputation” is on the short list of my favorite songs of the 1990s. I would describe it as the gateway song of my development as a music fan. Prior to this I wasn’t listening to much indie rock but exposure to short-lived radio stations like KSCA and the still-thriving “Morning Becomes Eclectic” slowly exposed me to music beyond Hootie and the Blowfish.

“Bad Reputation” registered with me while driving back to school after a weekend at home. The song came on the car radio and there was something oddly familiar about it. Where had I heard it before? The chorus felt right and I hoped that the DJ will tell me who it was and perhaps answer where I had heard the song before. Freedy Johnston, said the DJ. I had never heard of him but vowed to look into him.

My research eventually reminded me where I heard the song before. I had just been to a screening of Noah Baumbach’s seminal post-grad life film, Kicking and Screaming, and “Bad Reputation” was the song that played in the end when the screen goes black. The song also appeared on Johnston’s terrific album, This Perfect World, which I purchased immediately.

The most remarkable thing about “Bad Reputation” is the level of poignancy it achieves, which results from Johnston’s ability to create a complete and empathetic character within the first verse:

I know I got a bad reputation
and it isn't just talk, talk, talk
If I could only give you everything
You know I haven't got
I couldn't have one conversation
If it wasn't for the lies, lies, lies
And still I want to tell you everything
'till I close my eyes

We see here the push and pull of love as the speaker confesses his flaws and imperfections to the one he loves and thinks does not deserve. The second verse is even more devastating as he meekly pushes her away (“Don’t try to be an inspiration”) but underlining each verse is the realization that he doesn’t want to let her go.

“Bad Reputation” isn’t a song about love conquering all or how the love of a woman can transform a man. That’s the territory of lesser songs and songwriters who simplify what it is to be human. Rather it’s an unresolved song about the difficulty of changing even for the one you love. It’s about stubbornness that gets in the way of happiness. Yet it’s also about patience and understanding and the ability of love to make us want to be better people.

Adding to the poignancy is Johnston’s plain, unremarkable voice. It grounds the song in the realm of the ordinary man (physically speaking, Johnston too is ordinary, balding and weak-chinned). He’s no great lover; he’s just a man struck by love and unsure of how to deal. When Johnston gets to the wonderful chorus, it’s quite a revelation. “Suddenly I’m on the street/ Seven years disappear below my feet,” he sings, summing up the transformative power of love. But sure enough he catches himself and asks the question, “Do you want me now?” That question, sung in Johnston’s unadorned voice, sounds like a plea as well as a dare. He wishes she does but challenges her that it won’t be easy.

So does she still want him? We don’t know. Johnston certainly expresses himself so deeply and so powerfully that I can’t help but be moved. Perhaps the more pressing question is whether it will all work out even if she does. Will it be worth it? That’s another song altogether.

Monday, July 02, 2007

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

I generally want to stay away from choosing the featured wedding announcement, but I did so this week because I wanted to illustrate an annoying tendency in the NY Times announcements with regards to Los Angeles couples.

Jordan Roter and Guy Stodel

Any references to Hollywood or Los Angeles it seems like on the New York Times is a jab at how superficial and shallow it is. Check out this opening:

THE Hollywood dating pool has never been known for its deep end. After years of paddling in place, a smart and spirited woman from New York might even be tempted to hang up her suit.

Heaven knows there are no "smart, spirited" people from L.A. New York City sends out volunteers to the west coast just so we can have a supply of sophisticated people to grace us shallow, dull folks with their presence.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I suppose there is something romantic about a love connection forged by the presence of Jordana Brewster on the set of the ultra-bloody movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. Till death do us part, indeed.

Here are pictures of the couple at a book party thrown by Jordana Brewster in honor of Ms. Roter's book, Girl in Development.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

2007.5 - The Half Year in Music

If there's one thing I've learned in almost three years of running it's that running after a night of drinking will always make for a terrible running experience. I was tired, dehydrated, achy and felt just crappy while running. Fortunately I only ran six miles. It also did not help that I was running with two fast women.

The 4th of July is a prime day for 5K/10K races. I'm not going to run in any of them, though. For one thing I need to start watching my spending, and for another, I don't want to give up my day of sleeping in. I have work all the other days of the week, so I'm not about to wake up at 5AM on my one day off.

* * * * *

It's July 1. We're halfway through the year, so as can be expected it's time to take a look back at the semi-year that was in the world of music. The following is my list of favorite albums from the first half of 2007. I didn't put much thought into this list, and I'm sure the placement of the albums relative to each other will shift at the end of the year.

01 Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I've said enough about how much I love this album. It's a deeply affecting album that can be playful at times and heartbreaking at other points.

02 LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

For an album I admire so much, I'm surprised I haven't listened to it a lot. Perhaps it's because "All My Friends" took my ears hostage for several weeks. The rest of the songs here, though, are also terrific. It almost made me get up and dance.

03 The Shins - Wincing the Night Away Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The first half of this album is just about perfect. It suffers at the end with a couple of lesser songs, but the first two songs alone--"Sleeping Lessons" and "Australia"--make the album a worthy purchase. Throw in one of the Shins' best songs yet in "Turn On Me," with its opening that recalls "Then He Kissed Me", and you have one of the best albums of the year.

04 Feist - The Reminder Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Lovely and amazing.

05 Elvis Perkins - Ash Wednesday Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Much like Sound of Silver, a couple of brilliant songs on Perkins's debut have taken up most of my attention, but oh, what songs! "While You Were Sleeping," a song I've already chosen as a Song of the Week, and the title track pierce the heart with their indelible expressions of courage in the face of grief. A professor of mine once told our class that there are no such things as depressing books. The only depressing books are bad ones. Ash Wednesday is far from depressing. It's pure catharsis.

06 Arcade Fire - Neon Bible Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Its spell has worn off a little, but Arcade Fire's follow-up to Funeral is still a powerful work. It may move back up my list if I take some time away from it and listen to it later, though.

07 I'm From Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It's an album I turn to when I need something giddy and sweet. It's like the happiness of children distilled and packaged for hipster consumption.

08 Bright Eyes - Cassadaga Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Connor Oberst is more mature and a more sophisticated songwriter in this one. He is also still as preachy as ever, which is a problem only when he resorts to clunky lyrics. "If the Brakeman Turns My Way" has a chorus to die for, but it's also tethered to some weak verses. Enough with the Babylon references.

09 The National - Boxer Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It's not as pleasing as Alligator and too moody for my palate, but the National are certainly here to stay. I'm loving several of the songs, but all together it's a bit monotonous. "Apartment Story," "Start a War" and "Fake Empire" are must-hears.

10 Lavender Diamond - Imagine Our Love Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I still can't pinpoint why I adore Lavender Diamond so much. I've only listened to Imagine Our Love a few times, but I already know my affection for it will grow and grow. I still see why some would see gimmickry in Becky Sharpe's ethereal vocals, but to me it feels like a warm blanket around my heart.