Friday, April 29, 2011
Last night, Mary, Sam and I had an early family birthday dinner in SF, because Sam has a birthday sleepover tonight. And we got the above dish: Chicken with Explosive Pepper. Yes, that is a GIANT plate full of peppers that you have to treasure-search though for chunks of delicious fried chicken.
I have a great job. I regularly meet people from all over the world and get to interact with them in meaningful ways. One of the surprising things I've learned is that many of our Chinese students have trouble finding authentic Chinese food experiences in SF, they head down to L.A. for it. (I know, right? As a stupid American - I thought SF had it.) However, one of my students mentioned that she had recently gone to the Szechuan Z & Y Restaurant in Chinatown and it reminded her very much of home. She brought some dishes to class, the one above and a Couple's Delight. Being Szechuan all the dishes we got had a "numbing spice" to them.
YUM. Being adopted Cajun, I'm a big fan of authentically-used spice. Most Cajun food outside of Acadiana tends to have a fake-level of spicing to it, like they are doing it for effect rather than flavor. Authenticity found.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Finally, I have a stand-up desk! There has been a lot of buzz about this again. I've actually felt strongly about this idea for a while. Like many people, this idea really rattled home for me over 5 years ago with discovering Donald Rumsfeld uses one. And say what you want about his politics - MAN HAS GRIT - and I respect that.
Recently, Dana (who I should also thank for the above links) decided she was going to make it happen, and above is the result. (I've since moved it closer to the body edge, but height is perfect.)
First week reaction:
+ I love it.
+ I find myself moving much more. I've always needed to move - I move my legs when I sit. I toss a baseball around (sometimes a cabbage patch doll head) when I lecture or converse. I spin pens in conference meetings. I pace when I'm on my phone. I move to think. Yes, this is a partial reason (but small role) for my failure to succeed academically pre-failing 10th grade. Classrooms and school schedules don't allow for continuous movement, just bursts. (Which is silly because we aren't pack animals - we're herd animals)
+ I'm fortunate to have a job that allows for lots of movement: classroom lecturing/playing. However, like many, I still spend lots of time on the computer. This week, there were times when I was working on the computer and wanted to sit down and rest a bit. So what do I do?? ... I sat down and rested. Took 5-15 minutes to chill. Today's phones allow for more than sufficient connection to the workspace. Or I read, or thought about things, or had a snack. And then got back up to work. This meant that sitting was for resting and not the default position.
+ I'm more present in conversations. I recently moved the desk against a wall, so that there stopped being a screen between me and my office visitor (this is as bad as a Cubs game playing on TV behind a date). But now I don't even have the option of sitting to chat with someone and being within arms reach of the computer. Be Present. Be Present. Be Present. My mantra moving into year 37...
BTW, I'm turning 36 - but that is all bullshit - you get that badge AFTER you've earned your 36 years - which is freaking me out a bit, because I just thought about that - so I quickly went from presently being 35 to heading into my 37th year next week over the course of a few seconds. I think I just lost 36.
Mary just noted that the NYT piece mentions research from Pennington Biomedical Research Center, where I worked while in undergrad. Somehow I kept reading over that - PBRC references tend to pass right by my consciousness. I've been meaning to write a post about all the stuff I learned at PBRC - so glad I worked there rather than interning at an ad agency or something like that.
"This April, Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, and Old Crow Medicine Show will embark on a tour unlike any in recent memory. Traveling exclusively in vintage rail cars, the three bands will journey across the American Southwest over the course of a week. The aptly titled Railroad Revival Tour will feature the three bands playing concerts at six unique outdoor locations along the route, beginning April 21st in Oakland, California." - RRT website
Well, we're 3 for 3 on ending the evening with big smiles and great appreciation for artists doing what they do. The Railroad Revival Tour is one of the hot shows going on this spring - and we were very fortunate to be a part of it. A couple of notes:
1) My pictures mostly stink (except I dig the train pic above). However, you can find some amazing shots of the evening in many places, if you so desire:
+ Rolling Stone has 10 beauties, especially the Edward Sharpe sunset magic.
+ Jason Holmberg caught this beauty of Edward Sharpe stage joy:
+ The San Jose Mercury has a nice set that captures the experience.
2) The whole themed experience was wonderful. The combining of "folk rock" or "folk & roll" with a railroad revival was quite appropriate. And kudos for the tickets. I think it is a shame that as technology has improved - tickets have become the most unsexy pieces of crap. Why is there so much investment in "virtual badges" - but a complete drop-off in authentic badges!? Well, not for this show!
Not only do you get a nice physical ticket. It is gorgeous. It is unique to the show - all 6 shows have an individual design. It has your name printed on it (fuck you, scalpers). It has a code printed on it - with this code, I will be able to go to the RRT site and download all the music from all the shows!! (As I mentioned with the Ben Kweller show - the more music figures out how to get us the "bootleg" experience the more win-win.) This show has done a better job of creating a memorable, themed-experience than most of the big festivals I've attended - WELL DONE.
3) What an ideal time to see Mumford and Sons. These guys are h.o.t. The Mumford/Avett/Bob Dylan performance on the Grammys created quite a stir - vaulting them from really popular to securely superstar. They have one album released - Sigh No More - which is one of those amazing accomplishments, where every.freaking.song is goosebumps good. But they are definitely working on the 2nd album. We got to hear 3 new songs, including the hauntingly sweet "Lover's Eyes" (working title) - and make no mistake, these guys are going to hang around as one of the best bands on the planet for a while.
After 3 weeks of a concert/week - I am excited for a week to rest - but also sad that we don't have a #rockcrowd show.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Just a quick note. We went to see Bright Eyes at the Fox in Oakland.
I've been excited about seeing Bright Eyes for a while, but then Conor Oberst decided he was going to retire the band/moniker and do some different things. I wasn't a huge fan of the different stuff. I REALLY liked the modern rock, angry, jumping, energetic, storytelling Bright Eyes. Luckily - he brought Bright Eyes back.
It was amazing. His energy and angst is authentic and washes over you in wave after wave. I am a big fan of the new album. However - the highlight was getting to hear the song I was most hoping to see live: Road to Joy, complete with guitar destruction.
Monday, April 11, 2011
OK, I really want to make sure I keep a bit of a diary about what I'm now calling our Rockcrowd Fest 2011 - as a homage to a song from our opening headliner, Pete Yorn. Given that Concert #2 is tomorrow - I better get this up!
Concert #1 rocked. Mary and I started with some delicious Moroccan food from Aicha Moroccan. (Try a B’stilla - for my Cajun readers - it is like a meat pie and beignet in one!)
We went to Regency Ballroom, showing up promptly when doors opened at 7pm. Mary and I always arrive early to concerts, because we are suckers for opening acts; we've been fortunate to have more hits than misses. However, we showed up especially early for this show, because we heard you could snag a great front-row balcony spot, and we are old. But the upstairs was closed. dang.
We walked into the ballroom - and it felt like prom: scattered people, a stage and hardwood floor. There was "Seating for old people" off to the side and in the back. Survey said "NO!" We headed for the stage. Mary was thinking about 10 feet back - I was thinking of hugging the stage. Not because I wanted to be groupie cool - because I was feeling sick and I wanted something to lean against all night.
The opening band was OK - The Wellspring. Pretty fun. They had this interesting promotion, where the tour travel was being provided by LastMinuteTravel.com, and the audience could text their email address to them that evening and someone was going to get a free ticket anywhere in the U.S. - the strange thing was they just announced the email to the crowd - hope that person didn't care about privacy! Nice to see a brand doing things FOR people rather than AT people.
Ben Kweller was next. Wow. I've been a casual fan of his since college, which is fascinating since he is 6 years younger than I am! His music is genre-bending. Quite simply- he does things that no one else does and appears to impress the hell out of musicians who know what they are doing. You know how sometimes it takes seeing talent appreciating talent to truly appreciate it yourself? (Kind of like how every musician calls Prince a genius, and most of us just like how funky he is...) So, Ben Kweller rocked and played some of my favorites of his. The price of admission was worth it just for his performance. I scored the setlist, see above.
Interesting side-note: They recorded the whole concert and made it available on CD as one-track right after the show for $20. Really smart. The music industry is trying to figure out how to get people to pay for music - this worked on me. I LOVE THIS. How many times do you wish you could relive the show? I can actually hear Mary singing along on the track! Very smart. Very good view of the future. Check out the "bootleg" CD in the above pic.
Pete Yorn. Rocking. It was an interesting concert format. He has a new album, which I like ... but he is also celebrating the 10th anniversary of his breakthrough album: Music For The Morning After. So he is doing a few of these "MFTMA shows" - where he plays all the songs from the entire album (including the hidden track.) It was pretty groovy - this album is a Mary-favorite, so I'm really glad she got the experience. It was definitely the music I knew best as well. And since he played my 2 "must plays" from the new album (Velcro Shoes + Rock Crowd - with Ben Kweller - awesome!) I was satisfied on new stuff.
So, we ended up standing for 5 hours straight - 7-midnight. It made me quite excited that most of our shows are sitting! Oy. I did end up getting pretty sick a couple of days later. Today I'm finely feeling normal - just in time for tomorrow's Bright Eyes show!!
Oh and the Rockcrowd Fest 2011 closeout show (Outside Lands) line-up announcement is about to come out!