Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Launch of a New Era

It's time to say goodbye to you, dear blogspot readers. It was good while it lasted. We had some good times, shared some laughs, learned some new things. But now I move on to bigger and better things! has begun its reign of awesomeness!

What will you find on this new site?
---My movies!
---my photography!
---bigger and better podcasts!
---Don't Worry About It 2.0!
---and so much more!

If you still like reading my stuff (as much as I enjoy writing them), you'll definitely enjoy the blog, especially the last two posts.

Keep it real. Keep it simple. Keep it real simple.

---Kage (

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Roman Empire

My sweet internship has allowed me to obtain a lot of amazing music, so for the most part, these mixes are a compilation of some of my favorite songs from the new music I've listened to, and songs that you should be listening to. Enjoy.

Roman Empire: Hip-Hop and Electronica Make A Baby
1. Shimmy Shimmy Ya by Ol' Dirty Bastard
2. Regulate by Warren G feat. Nate Dogg
3. Charlotte by Booka Shade
4. Black Panther by Crystal Castles
5. Get Em High (Remix) by Kanye West, Common, Talib Kweli, & Ratatat
6. Everyone Nose (remix) by N.E.R.D. feat. Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco
7. Pela Janela by Thievery Corporation
8. Stuck (Hot Chip Remix) by Little Boots
9. D.A.N.C.E. (remix) by Justice feat. Mos Def & Spank Rock
10. Around The World (rap remix) by Daft Punk vs. Wyclef Jean
11. Go (S.T.O.R.Y. R.E.M.I.X.) by Common
12. Life of Clocks by Coldplay vs. Jay-Z
13. If I Never See Your Face Again (Swizz Beats remix) by Maroon Five
14. The Stars by Andy Caldwell
15. Alice by Moby
16. Juicy / New York New York by Notorious B.I.G. vs. Frank Sinatra
17. No One Takes Your Freedom (mash-up feat. Scissor Sisters, The Beatles) by DJ Earworm

Roman Empire: Chill Hippie
1. She's A Rainbow by The Rolling Stones
2. Amsterdam by Peter Bjorn & John
3. Right in the Head by M. Ward
4. Black River Killer by Blitzen Trapper
5. Sugar Man by Rodriguez
6. Skinny Love by Bon Iver
7. Mykonos by Fleet Foxes
8. Operator by Jim Croce
9. Tangerine by Led Zeppelin
10. No One Does It Like You by Department of Eagles
11. So Many Nights by The Cat Empire
12. Crosses by Jose Gonzalez
13. Run Thru (Okonokos live) by My Morning Jacket

Roman Empire: Play That Funky Music
1. Clocks by Rhythms Del Mundo Cuba & Coldplay
2. Gronlandic Edit by Of Montreal
3. Strange Overtones by David Byrne & Brian Eno
4. Bees by Caribou
5. The Steady Roller by Gold Animals
6. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan cover) by Funk.Soul
7. Crosswalks by Alias
8. If I Ever Feel Better by Phoenix
9. S.E.X.Y.R.O.B.O.T. by The Pinker Tones
10. One For The Cutters by The Hold Steady
11. Impossible by The Shout Out Louds
12. Things Ain't Like They Used To Be by The Black Keys

Most tracks available at my Project Playlist page here.

What'd you think? Any songs you'd like to share? Post them below!

And I Love Her

Happy Valentine's Day! Here's some sweet love music to make your sexy time even sexier.

And I Love Her: Side A
1. Fell In Love With A Girl by The White Stripes
2. Love You Madly by Cake
3. Valentine by Justice
4. And I Love Her by The Beatles
5. Lovestain by Jose Gonzalez
6. Lover by Devendra Banhart
7. The Mating Game by Bitter:Sweet
8. How Deep Is Your Love by The Bee Gees
9. Love Song (Acoustic Version) by The Cure
10. Once I Loved by Astrud Gilberto
11. I Need Your Love by Boston
12. Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen
13. As Lovers Go by Dashboard Confessional
14. Say You Love Me by Fleetwood Mac
15. You Sure Love To Ball by Marvin Gaye
16. Something About Us by Daft Punk
17. Donate by My Morning Jacket

And I Love Her: Side B
1. Dear Valentine by Guster
2. Think I'm In Love by Beck
3. Make Love by Daft Punk
4. I'm In Love by Moby
5. Something by The Beatles
6. Baby, I Love Your Way by Peter Frampton
7. Lover by Leonard Cohen
8. Love Her Madly by The Doors
9. She Will Be Loved by Rhythms Del Mundo Cuba & Maroon Five
10. Earth Angel by The Penguins
11. One Love by Bob Marley & The Wailers
12. Love Fool by The Cardigans
13. Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love by Coldplay
14. True Love Way by Kings of Leon
15. Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him by John Lennon & Yoko Ono
16. For Your Love by The Yardbirds
17. Valentine's Day by RX Bandits
18. Since I've Been Loving You (live) by Led Zeppelin

Any love songs I didn't put on the playlist? Post a comment with your suggestions!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Sundance Kids

Utah is a very interesting state. While it is totally gorgeous with its white crystalline snow, it took me a while to get used to the serene and tranquil atmosphere the mountains effused. One thinks of Utah and one immediately thinks, "Mormon." You know it's true (kinda). Upon meeting a Utahan (Utahian? Utahoan? Utah resident?), I learned about some very interesting laws:

A. It is legal to own nuclear arms as long as you promise not to detonate them.
B. Whaling is illegal. (Because there are so many whales in Utah, right?)
C. If you want to drink at a bar, you must either sign up for a membership or get sponsored by the local drunks.

I got to learn such fun facts when I attended the Sundance Film Festival 2009 this past weekend. I got to meet some celebrities (Joseph Gordon-Levitt! Michael Madsen! The Karate Kid!), check out some sweet bars and parties, and see some great movies. Here are some recommendations if you ever get to Park City, Utah, or want to see some great movies in the very near future.

1. Humpday
Directed by Lynn Shelton and starring Mark Duplass, one of the directors of The Puffy Chair and Baghead, pic focuses on the heterosexual relationship between two best friends, who get drunk one night and in full machismo masculinity, somehow challenge each other to create an art porno . . . starring them. Awkward hilarity ensues. I won't lie when I say that I was very hesitant to see this movie. It ended up being the first film I saw at the festival. And I loved it. Shelton handles the material subtly and earnestly. The movie is not a gross-out comedy but a hilarious testament to the loyal bonds of friendship. How far would you go to help out your best friend? Magnolia Pictures recently bought the picture for distribution.
2. Zombie Girl: The Movie
This film was actually submitted into the Slamdance Festival in Park City. About 15 years ago, Dan Mirvish, John Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn, and Peter Baxter got together to create a festival "by filmmakers for filmmakers." Apparently, that's not Sundance?+ Slamdance has spawned notable directors such as some people you may have heard of: Chris Nolan (The Dark Knight), Marc Forster (Monster's Ball), and Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite). Now, 15 years later, the festival still continues its tradition by showcasing this documentary about a 12-year old girl from Austin, Texas, who makes a feature length zombie film. She openly admits that her film sucks as it took her two years to make, but boy did I feel lazy after watching this! She shot, produced, directed, wrote, and edited the whole thing with the help of her very supportive mother. Speaking of her mother, the film's subtext is really about this mother/daughter relationship as they argue with each other incessantly and find inspiration in each other. Funny as hell, this doc was a rare find.

3. Art & Copy
A fascinating documentary about the evolving perception of advertisements as works of art. Doc chronologically charts the beginning of advertising to where it is now, with an optimistic emphasis on digital marketing. The film touches upon every facet from the relationship between copywriters and art directors to the conception and collaboration of creating concepts to the cultural impact advertisements have on us today. Inspiring and influential, this documentary is a must-see for anyone interested in entering the world of advertising.

4. Cold Souls
The feature debut from Sophie Barthes, pic stars Paul Giamatti as, well, Paul Giamatti: an actor so burdened by the world that he decides to pay a company to extract his soul. Then, a Russian soul mule steals his soul and takes it to Russia, so Giamatti follows her to the USSR to get it back. While not a film in which one could emotionally engage with, the film is thought-provoking as it raises several philosophical questions about the nature of the soul and what it consists. In the Q&A, director Sophie Barthes stated that the idea came to her in a dream, with the difference of Woody Allen having his soul extracted instead of Giamatti. An interesting unison of dreams and filmmaking I would say.

I also checked out some sweet bars, so if you ever get on Main Street, check out these places:

1. The No Name Saloon

Like the name, this bar is remniscient of those old cowboy saloons, stocked with modern alcohol of course. Pints are relatively cheap (around $6). However, the main staple of this bar is their world famous Buffalo Burgers. Served six different ways, the buffalo meat is leaner, more tender, and better tasting overall. I had the mushroom and sour cream buffalo burger and although my stomach went into a coma, I had "the hunger" for another one. Worth it.

2. O'Shucks
Apparently, this place was the "place-to-be." I say this because of "the list" one had to be on in order to enter. Fortunately, my dear friend O-Rizzle got me a hook with the bartender James and got us in for free. The bar is known for its schooners of microbrew beers. Schooners are basically huge fucking goblets of beer (it's nearly three beers). The place also had some really decent fish and chips. Adorned with Mortal Kombat and Safari Hunter, this place was a great party bar.

3. Cisero's
Just your typical Irish pub in Utah, complete with pool tables, two bars, large dance floor, and an Irish rock band named Swagger, who ended the night with the inspiring song "I Just Sat On Your Face." I had the pleasue of meeting the bassist after the show--a robust man with a mohawk and a kilt. When I asked him if he was cold because of the kilt, he responded, "Dude, I'm going commando. My balls are freezing."

4. The Star Bar
I had considered the option of going to Star Bar on my first night at Sundance because the Slamdance Festival was having their opening night party there, but I opted not to go because the cover was so steep. The next day I found out that I would truly regret it for the whole cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia was present and drinking heavily. Hoping to see them again on Sunday night, we all hit The Star Bar only to find that we were pretty much the only patrons in the joint. It was pretty cool to have the place to ourselves, but as stated in Swingers, "This place is dead anyway."

Sundance was an incredible experience, and the great thing is that it's open to anyone! I got to stay in a beautiful condo, met some really cool people, and really saw with my eyes what could possibly be the rest of my life. I definitely going to come again, but this time with business cards.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shapes & Colors

Here's a playlist I created for one of my editing assignments. We had to make a music video to any song we wanted. The only footage we could use were still images of shapes and colors. I chose Daft Punk's "Human After All." Cheers.

Shapes & Colors
1. Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles
2. Wordless Chorus by My Morning Jacket
3. Destination Overdrive by Chromeo
4. Human After All by Daft Punk
5. Sleeping Lessons by The Shins
6. Everyone Knows Everyone by The Helio Sequence
7. Ready For The Floor by Hot Chip
8. Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve
9. Bodysnatchers by Radiohead
10. Good Morning by Kanye West
11. Don't Worry Baby by The Beach Boys
12. Kids by MGMT
13. I'm Just A Singer In A Rock and Roll Band by The Moody Blues
14. We Will Become Silhouettes by The Postal Service
15. Loud Pipes by Ratatat
16. The Final Countdown by Europe
17. Time of the Season by The Zombies
18. Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt. 2 by My Morning Jacket

I just thought this photo was hilarious and had to be shared with the world.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mistakes and Mixtapes

I never really know what to do on a Sunday. Unlike most of my friends, I'm not really into the whole Sunday football thing. Sure, I appreciate it, but it's hard to get into football, especially when you're from a city that doesn't even have a team. So how did I spend my Sunday? Naturally, I went to the movies and saw Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

I'm pretty sure that Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist was written and made for me. It just hit all the high marks that a movie of my taste should have and then some: relatable characters, coming-of-age comedy, unrequited romance, drinking at clubs and bars, and an awesome soundtrack.

Based on the novel of the same name, Nick and Norah chronicles the fateful encounter of Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) and their wild, magical night in New York looking for the secret show of their favorite band Where's Fluffy. The movie played out like a modern day John Hughes film as it followed the triumphs and tragedies of our musical obsessionists. I actually read the book about a year ago too and was happy to see that the film kept the integral subject of the book while making changes I felt made the story better. For one, it changed the musical tastes from queercore punk to indie music in order to give the movie a sweeter and more lighthearted feel. Second, it removed the angsty tone of the book for a more jaded outlook. Finally, it changed the intimate scenes from one of spontaneous act to a more tender and heartwarming moment.

It is true: music makes the world go 'round. I believe that music has the power to inspire, create, and connect. This movie, while yes I know is a movie, demonstrates that music can bring people together.

Haven't you ever had that moment? You know the one I'm talking about. You're passionate about a band, a band that is so dear and special to you for a plethora of reasons. Then, you meet someone. Naturally, the conversation turns to music, and you begin judging each other based on your likes and dislikes. You decide to take a chance and ask that million dollar make-or-break question: "So, what do you think of _______?" A million replies run through your mind: "They suck. Fuck 'em. They're ok, I guess." One answer could possibly determine the rest of your night. And like that, it happens. That person says, "They are my favorite band of all-time!" Suddenly, you have that connection, and the world continues to go 'round and 'round. Soon enough, you're making mistakes. Soon enough, your'e making mixtapes.

The indie music of this film perfectly complements our awkward protagonists. Cera and Dennings have undeniable chemistry that ignites the screen. They relate to each other on the level of equals as they both are still hurting from severely unhealthy relationships and do not want to make themselves vulnerable to heartbreak all over again. Hence, bands like Band of Horses, Devendra Banhart, Vampire Weekend, and Bishop Allen set the playful tone for the quirky night full of randomosity, eternal optimism, and potential heartmend and heartbreak. This movie speaks to the music of our generation and its avid listeners as they live with generational musical iconography like YouTube, MySpace, blogs, mixtapes, and iPods. It also doesn't forget to pay tribute to the forefathers of awesome rock music as it namedrops everyone from The Cure to David Bowie and gives special attention via a lovely monologue about The Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."

I have to make a quick sidenote about the supporting cast of the film. Incredible! Aaron Yoo and Rafi Gravron as Thom and Dev, the two gay members of Nick's band The Jerk-Offs were great catalysts and the logical thinkers of the film as they force Nick and Norah to explore this potential love. Even better, they don't cater to stereotypical gay characters in a film. It didn't define them, it was just one part of who they were. Alexis Dziena and Jay Baruchel as Nick and Norah's exes, respectively, acted admirably as the assholes of the film. We kinda loathed them, we were kinda attracted to them, and everyone's met someone like them. And of course, the Best Supporting Actress goes to Ari Graynor as Caroline, Norah's drunken best friend who provides the film's best comedic moments with her uninhibited shameless drunk antics during the wee hours of Manhattan. There's one scene where, well, let's just say I'm never going to chew gum the same way again.

The film didn't shove their romance in your face. Of course, you knew they were going to end up together as it was a familiar concept we've seen countless times in the romantic comedies of the 80s and 90s. But it was subtle. It was sweet. It unfolded and unraveled in front of your eyes so naturally and magically that by the end of the film, you too had fallen in love with the characters and didn't even realize it, until it was over. Once those credits started rolling, I wished it would just go on repeat and keep playing over and over, like an infinite playlist.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Last Summer Day

And so summer officially ends, and autumn inevitably begins. No more blistering hot days, no more sweltering summer nights. No more just work and no-homework. With my 22nd birthday officially two days behind me, what better way to celebrate the end of carefree bliss and the beginning of reality than going to see My Morning Jacket at The Greek.

God, where to begin? It was amazing! spiritual! existential! out-of-body! FUCKING SWEET! After taking some detours along the way, The Cobra and I finally arrived at The Greek at 8:07 p.m. We heard "Off The Record" in the distance and were surprised. The ticket said doors opened at 7:30 p.m. This was not the case. The show started at 7:30 p.m., and there was no opening band.

Fuck, we already missed half the set!

An empathetic security guard heard our groans and assured us that we had not missed much, especially because they were playing a three-hour set! Oh, what bliss. The Cobra and I saw MMJ about two years ago at The Wiltern. This was at the time when she invited me to their concert and I went not ever having heard a single song. I left feeling blasted away by pure perfect music. That first MMJ concert, in the packed small venue on Wilshire and Western, was and is the best concert I have ever been to. The best performance I have ever seen, though, was MMJ at The Greek.

After getting some overpriced Newcastle, we made our way to our seats in South Terrace. They weren't bad as you could still see the band clearly from a high top right angle. We sat down just as they started busting out "I'm Amazed," the first single from Evil Urges. According to the gentleman next to us, we had only missed "Evil Urges," "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 1," "Off The Record," and "Anytime."

I feel like MMJ is a time capsule band. It's like they go through the history of rock in one set. They can be soft rock pansies, classic rock shred heads, psychedelic tripsters, alt-country stars, and something that can't even begin to have a label. And every song is always epic in its own way. They are at their best when the song starts out slow and and then builds up until they careen out of control and just pick at the guitar until their fingers bleed.

Jim James was a rock star god on stage. Not only can the dude play, he also performs. During his ambient, trippy songs such as "Gideon" and "Phone Went West," James would adorn his head with a towel, and he would just step into his zone, jamming and grooving. He was in his own world. On bring-down-the-house epic rock songs like "Anytime," "Mahgeetah," "What A Wonderful Man," and "Lay Low," Jim James and company were all over the stage. James and the second guitarist Carl Broemmel would dance around each other in intricate weavings and patterns. James would go to the crowd and just shake his legs and hips as if possessed by some dancing demon or channeling Elvis on coke. And nearly every rock-out-with-your-cock-out song had James and the band performing like they were all on acid. But they weren't. They were just having the purest fun you could ever have.

When they played their love songs like "Thank You Too!," "Sec Walkin," and "Two Halves," The Greek turned into quite the magical place. Around "Thank You Too!," their eighth song, I finally managed to take my eyes off the stage and look around me. The Greek is a fucking beautiful venue. It starts at the main stage and expands in all peripheral directions. The seats get higher and higher, but relative to the theatre, the nosebleed section isn't that far away. The entire theatre is surrounded by large, magnificent trees, silent mountains and the city's twinkling lights. We are completely encompassed by nature. It was the perfect setting for a band like this.

The best part of the show had to be the last nine songs, starting off with my favorite song of all-time "Dondante." I remember the first time I heard this song. The Cobra and I were pretty drunk at The Wiltern and the slow drum beat kicked in, grabbing our attention. It kept going and going and then we heard this almost trembling guitar wave come in. And oh, how Jim James sings in that haunting shriek of a voice. It just feels like he's crooning and howling in pain.

"In a dream I saw you walkin'
Like a kid, alive and talkin.'
That was you.

In the classroom you were teachin'
On the streets you were policing.
That was you.

To the one I now know most,
I will tell them of your ghost like a thing
That never, ever was."

On this second performance, he keeps it the same: he sings those first verses and then a little dancing guitar solo comes in, but it's fucking sexy. I'm just feeling this song, my body rocking back and forth, my head nodding to and fro. The guitar line picks up, playing faster, faster, faster, more intense, intense, intense, and then BOOM! a sound wave rips through the stadium, blasting me back in my seat, and I am cleansed and free. The first time I saw this song live, I was stunned. The second time I saw it, I was moved. Not only did they play the Okonokos live version, they expanded on it, adding a new jam element and more fury and anger. James was just slamming his guitar as hard as he could with his hand and pick as if punishing it for all the sins it had committed. It's time for the song to fade out, and Carl Broemmel brings out his saxophone. The sax sings the final sad notes to Los Angeles and finishes the song.

The Cobra and I knew at this point that we were a part of something bigger than ourselves. MMJ slowed it down after "Dondante" with the haunting love ballad "Librarian." People were falling in love all around us with the Greek, with the band, with James, with each other. We knew it was time to lighten up, and we did. Fate then intervened, and the eerie wahs of "Smokin' From Shootin'" rang through the crowds. Puffs of smoke from all places Greek floated above the crowd. I found that rather ironic.

"Do you feel my smokin guns? / They're smoking from a shootin, smokin from shootin / smokin from shootin / at everyone? / Do you live your life / on the road? / Yeah, losing that I'm loving / Askin for nothing / Running from something that isn't there."

With one comes the other, and "Touch Me I'm Going To Scream, Pt. 2" followed immediately. The band changed all their instruments and opted for synthesizers and other electronic doo dads that contribute to this song's awesomeness. What impressed me most was the light show that they had for this song, as if this is what the song is supposed to look like. The backdrop of the set were these large looming eyeballs in sideways wedding ring cases. The band had at least fifty lights shining on them, four circular lights behind the drums, and blasting strobe lights underneath the drum set. You just had to be there to see it. In a fading motion from left to right, the lights would light up consecutively to the beat of the opening synths. The song plays, and it's fucking beautiful, man. It goes on for what may be minutes but felt too short. Then the song reaches climax. James puts the synthesizer down, shakes his head, and sticks out his hand, The guitar is placed in it, and he tears through the strings by playing a power chord that rips through the stadium, popping everyone's ear drums. The crowd goes wild! Everyone tries to match James by singing at the top of their lungs. He lets out this high pitched wail that shatters souls like glass. They extended the song and gave it legendary status. The song wained and descended ever so slowly to a complete stop. The speakers sounded off with the final four second track "Good Intentions." A crowd cheers over the speakers, and Jim James' voice says, "Ok. Cool." The end. The show was over.

Until the encore ten minutes later.

I feel like a band always plays their best songs in the encore. It's the ones that they know the crowd will love, they personally love, or both. These are the songs that the band wants you to remember them by, because they are there for a reason. They engaged the happy crowd in a sweet sing-along with "Golden." They made us feel like we were on ecstasy or LSD through "Wordless Chorus" and its strobe-riphic light show. They made us dance with Satan on "Highly Suspicious." They made you cry with "Run Thru" and that piercing guitar. And they sent us to imaginary places with "One Big Holiday."

And that was it. The concert was over. Just like that. I've been looking forward to this show since I bought the tickets in May, and it was over in 3 hours. With the said and done, summer officially shed its last ray of light.

On the bright side, we had gotten out around 11:30 p.m. on a Sunday. I was still on a high from the show, and so was The Cobra. We were chattering about the show all the way down hill.

"You know, The Cobra, the night is quite young. What should we do?"

She seemed to have read my mind. "Hmm, we are in Los Feliz, and there is The Dresden."
"I think that sounds like a brilliant idea."

It was our first bar experience.

Inside, we both just looked around, taking it all in, and just reflecting on the experience. It was dark and quiet--the perfect setting for the songs to keep playing in our heads.

It still feels like the concert was just yesterday. It feels like it didn't even happen. But it did. It fucking did. That night was not real. It was as if we had gone to another place. When interviewed by Rolling Stone after their career-defining four hour set at Bonnaroo Festival this past summer, James recalls the moment he got his first guitar. "I was completely captivated by it, like it could take me to another dimension." My Morning Jacket has proven that music has the power to open up your mind, introduce new perceptions, and show you things you've never even dreamed.

Post Script:

Oh, we also watched this so bad-it's-kinda-good-but-it-was-4-bucks-so-who-cares-movie called Far Out Man starring Tommy Chong as a stoner burnout living in the 90s. I'm not going to talk about it just to save space, but here's a photo. Cheers.