Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Hey everyone, its been a while since I've posted because I've been busy writing/performing/recording new songs. I've started a new blog/mission statement called I am an Orchestra.

I'm working on final mixes of two songs right now, Alone Together, and Get Away. "til I found You" is next, a song that whose ending is somewhat inspired by the film "500 Days of Summer."
This album is a blend of my favorite things about music and steals heavily from my favorite artists in ways that may or may not be obvious to the casual listener.
I get tired of hearing people describe their music as something new and unlike anything else when at first listen their a bland copy of The Dave Matthews Band or yet another acoustic guitar playing loop pedal abuser.
I am listening deeply to music to find and learn to recreate the essence of what I love about artists like Cat Stevens, Dr. Dog, Spoon, St. Vincent, The Beatles, Counting Crows, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, Thom Yorke, Gavin Castleton, Danny Elfman, Elbow, and Elvis Costello.

here's some lyrics from the unrecorded gershwin-esque "The Right Combination"

I've tried candy, I've tried flowers, I've tried staying up all night on the phone for hours
but I still don't have the right combination to unlock your heart.

I've tried champagne, I've tried roses, I've been standing next to you striking handsome poses
but I still don't have the right combination to unlock your heart.

Was it two turns to the left, one to the right, or was it three?
Were my love songs out of tune, or did I just forget the key?
What were the secret words to make you fall for me?
Did I stutter "I love you," did I mutter "marry me?"
well, I still don't have the right combination to unlock your heart

I'll try begging, but not stealing. What's it take to give you that funny feeling,
cuz I still don't have the right combination to unlock your heart.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Valentines Day

I've been away from my blog for some time, but I thought I'd come out of hiding long enough to unveil our latest shirt. Just in time for Valentines Day!

I have been busy trying to become a Guitar Hero. Since I went to a well known music school to be a jazz saxophonist only to drop the sax, focus on songwriting, and change my prinicipal instrument to beginner guitarist, I never really went through the "learn to play smoke on the water/stairway/crazy train/(fill in overplayed riff based song)" phase that most teenage guitarists do. So at 28 years old I bought a book of transcriptions and I'm working my way through Queen's "Killer Queen," having finally mastered the classical intro to Heart's "Crazy On You" and Dick Dale's "Misirlou." I'm also teaching guitar part-time again, and my students want to learn to play things like "The Beast and the Harlot," "Pinball Wizard," or "Don't Fear the Reaper." That means I have to figure them out first. So if you don't see me on blogger much, thats why.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Woke Up Alone

I made my first short film/ music video, pairing a song a wrote on ukelele with a script I wrote. I was a bit worried about presenting it to my three classmates, because, although I knew one of them was into Eraseread (as am I), I didn't know how far I could push the envelope of weird and whimsical with the other two. It turns out they were all about it and aside from our actor having to cancel one day of shooting due to an emergency trip to Tijuana to bail his brothers out of a Mexican prison, the shoot went quite smoothly and the film turned out pretty much how we imagined it.

It started with the song and this papier mache' candy bowl kit by Martha Stewart, which I reappropriated into a mask.

Then when I really got the hang of making solid masks, I made these other two papier mache' beasties

This is the costume I donned for my performance as the band leader, obviously inspired by my love of day of the dead folk art

This is my favorite, partly inspired by the weird baby in David Lynch's Erasherhead, which I gave to Cameron, who played the drummer.

We also made a fake toaster with a working light that we timed out just right to look fakely realistic. Best of all, I got to use my Cassette Tape (a big inspiration in this project) from Etsy artist Analog Park ( Itraded a Spitting Image shirt for this awesome canvas tape):

We used lots of fake stop motion effects in which we made a filmed sequence appear to be stop-motion ever though it was shot in one take. For an example of this, watch the potted plant sequence. Its filmed in reverse, then sped up and frames are extracted from the sequence to appear choppy.

Theres an entire DVD worth of outtakes and bloopers which are probably only interesting to us so I'll spare you all. Without further ado, I present to you, "Woke Up Alone."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Best Bike in the Whole World SSS

Okay, it's not Pee Wee Herman's "best bike in the whole world," and it may not be my ultimate favorite bike, but it is mine, and I love it.

The Best bike in the Whole World

I have been wanting to post pictures of my new motorcycle, and these shadow shots for 2 weeks now, I just keep forgetting, so I'm postdating this blog to launch on next sunday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Les Films que j'adore

I'm not meaning to copy Hey Harriet with today's post, I've actually been trying to finish publishing a film blog for a while.

After almost seven years I started college again this year, and I'm taking my Berklee College of Music credits and applying them to film music/ film production.
so I've been killing several birds with one stone (the murder of a murder crows I guess). By watching french classics like the "Ballon Rouge" by Albert Lamorisse (so good, I'm writing a separate post for it) or "Le qautre-cent coups" (The 400 Blows) by Francois Truffaut, I've been catching up on my french and enjoying my main obsession, which has been films/film music.

This is a scene from the 400 blows that made me laugh out loud. The main character sneaks out of school with his classmate and they have a some Parisian fun. I can't help but smile at the children in this scene as we watch them watch a play:

I go to the library weekly and check out 3 movies. So far I've gotten Psycho, Stranger's on a Train, Harold & Maude, the 400 Blows, Sunset Boulevard, Royal Tennenbaums, Citizen Kane, Steve Zissou, and The Third Man. I also have this book called "Cinematic Story Telling: the 100 film conventions every film maker should know." It shows all the important ways film can convey drama, emotion, language, etc. without words, then it gives a film example of each one, as well as the screenplay and accompanying shots from the film that exemplify this. For instance, in The Graduate, when Hoffman's character is running to stop his girlfriend's wedding, they use a telepohoto lens to add drama, because this type of lens flattens an image, causing him to look as though he is not really getting anywhere as he runs toward the foreground. A wide-angle lens, on the other hand, would have made him seem to run forward very rapidly.

Another common device is te have protagonists enter left to right because it is the direction we read and move our eyes in the most, and an antagonists do the opposite, because, subconsciously, it is a mild irritant to move our eyes right to left. You can see this in the beginning of Hitchock's Strangers on a Train.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pop Cannibalism 4

Even if Mortified hadn't sent us the following comment on our myspace page, I still would have gotten their book:

Dear uber talented siblings,You guys do really cool work. Congrats on being all cool and stuff. From the people who specialize in celebrating those who were not.We like you so much we'd let you go to 2nd. MORTIFIED

PS: We hope you enjoy our book... in stores everywhere. Our 2nd book hits stores this January.

If you haven't heard about it already, Mortified is a "Comic excavation of adolescent writing, art, and media." There's a live version of Mortified, parts of which can be viewed here. There are some wonderful elements of kitsch and nostalgia in the submissions and live readings, especially if you grew up in the 70's 80's or early 90's. The first book is a collection of diary entries from participants when they were 10-17 years old about relationships, "totally frenching," school, music, and even first boy-girl parties. Some of it is fan fiction about making out with members of Duran Duran. My favorite submission is from Adam Gropman's letters to his parents from a 2-month long summer camp when he was 10. I think they published the letter dates in the wrong order, but either way, here's an excerpt:

July 1, 1976

I am fine. Today I tried the swimming test. I only made it across the dock two time. Dinner is great here!

p.s. I made a lot of friends and one especially named Peter.

July 5, 1976

Dear Mom+Dad

camp is good! And the food is great! Also, when I said I only did two laps between the docks, I did four...and I practicid t do six!

P.S. I'm kind of homesick, so please visit as soon as you can.

July 11, 1976

Mom + Dad,

I have a very bad cold and I feel very sick. This is what's wrong. I have a bad sore throat. My nose and sinus are very stuffy. I have awful headaches. I feel very week. Everybody, except for two people in this cabin, are a#$holes. Right at this moment, while I'm writing this letter, someone's teasing me and saying I'm faking being sick...

Later that night:

Dear Mom + Dad

I can't hack camp any longer. I'm going to have a mental fit. by the way, what I meant by "take me out of tthis camp" is come up here in the car and take me HOME! I hate this ^%$damn cabin. I want to see our house and sleep in my nice, comfortable bed and sleep till 10:30 instead of waking up at 7:00!

July 13, 1976

Dear Adam,

I guess you have gone through some sad and difficult days. I think it would be best for you NOT to worry about your clothes and flashlight and things. As Alfred E. Neuman says, "Why worry?"

Maybe when you feel angry at the world, you could go to some private place in the woods...acd cry about it (that's good) or yell at the trees (they won't mind). And when you come back from hollering and hitting the groud with a stick, you won't feel angry.

Love, Mom

July 16, 197

Dear Mom + Dad

Camp is s^&** and boring. Everyting's been going wrong at camp such as:

Jason borrowed my red short-sleeved shirt and lost it.

My flashlight (still) isn't working

I got a cut on my penis when I flunked my canoe test.

I'm very homesick. I wish you could arrange so I can only stay 1 month instead of 2

July 14, 1976

Dear Adam, I'm sorry you hurt your penis. Does it still bother you?


July 19, 1976


I f&*(*&^ hate this bastard camp! You better *&^damn listen to this letter or I'm going to scream! As a matter of fact, I already screamed my ass off at everybody in this cabin today. I don't understand why you don't believe that I'm having a conniption! Now I know you hate my guts, because if you liked me, you wouldn't torture me. Come up here on Saturday the 24th. If you send me one more of those crap letters, I'll rip it up and burn it.

It gets better, but I don't want to spoil it. The book was like sneaking a peak at someone's diary, which is exactly what it is. I couldn't put it down. There's page after page of embarrassing pathetic stories about unrequited love, goofy humor, delusions of grandeur, and teen angst. One part of me was horrified by what some people would do and amused that they would reveal it for the public to read, and the other part of me related to the embarassing, mellodramatic, and dorky moments of teenage life. A few of these entries could have been pulled from my own diary.

Similar to one of the authors fake memo's as CEO of Chanel, Inc (at the age of 9), I recently found an unsent letter to the cast members of Saturday Night Live, circa 1992. There was a tone of familiarity about the letter, as if Mike Meyers, Dana Carvey, and Chris Farley and I were all good friends. I think I asked if Mike and Dana's necks got sore from head banging during Wayne's World because mine did.

There was another letter I found in which I was trying to pitch myself to Nickelodeon as a child representative on what we as kids want. I'll have to see if I can find them again and send them in to Mortified.

here's my mortified picture, rocking a spike mullet. luckily I didn't have the clip on tie this year(notice that we never bought our school pictures, instead we kept the original and never returned it to the photoghy company)

I'll leave you with a video from one of my favorite journal entries, "I Hate Drake."

Mortified: I Hate Drake

Friday, October 10, 2008

Socko Killer, Qu'est-ce que c'est?

At the suggestion of my sister, Amy,
I've decided to join the fun and try out my first Shadow Shot Sunday entry, this is my entry, which is a character from a film I shot but didn't edit. Here is my SSS entry:

I just participated in the OCC's 48 hour film festival. You get an envelope on Friday with your genre, theme, object, character, and line that must be included in your film. you must turn in your finished film by Sunday at 4:30.

I was a last minute addition and I was paired up with another last minute addition whose only qualifications were that he liked movies and had a film camera. We drew the following envelope:

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Theme: Murder

Character: Fraudulent Hypnotist

Object: Orchid

Dialogue: It's always worse afterwards

So I feverishly went to work, writing throughout the night, and came up with the following screenplay


Fade in to a glass door with "DR. W. BUFFALO PSYCHOTHERAPIST" stenciled on it. ECU to the words PSYCHO


our Neurotic (sock puppet Woody Allen meets Norman Bates) character lies framed upside down on the couch and rambles about loneliness and depression. He is a recovering serial killer.

CU to Dr. Buffalo's (a sock puppet with glasses, mustache, bushy eye brows and googly eyes)sketch pad, he is writing a grocery list that includes eggs, butter, bread, and Tinactin.

Buffalo: Have you tried taking up a hobby?

Norman Allen: I like taxidermy, its like Christmas everyday, only you stuff the stockings with embalming materials instead of small candies.

Buffalo: How about getting out once in a while, maybe take a stroll through the mall?

Norman: I've tried that. I wandered into a lingerie store, but they kicked me out. A saleswoman walked up and asked if I needed help, I said, " No thanks, I'm just here to feel up the mannequins."

Buffalo: Have you tried making friends with the opposite sex lately?

Norman:I've had dates, but it always ends up the same, one minute you're buying her flowers, the next minute you're dumping her body into a river. It's like an M. Night Shyamalan film: its great at first, but it's always worse afterwards.

CU of Dr's sketch pad, he is listing words that rhyme with murder: squirter, girder, hearder, frankfurter, and has crossed out James Thurber.

Buffalo: Let's try something new this week, I'm going to eliminate your urge to kill through hypnotherapy.

As we fade out, we close in on the shadow of a pocket watch swaying upon a framed plaque on the wall that reads "Certificate of Fraudulent Hypnotherapy"

Basically the rest was of the film was a music montage ( to make it more RomCom than creepy) of Norman posting a want ad, which is answered by a female sock puppet serial killer. They go to the park and do fun, datey things while trying to stab each other when the other isn't looking. They eventually realise they are alike in their blood lust and team up to kill a cheerleader sock puppet and eventually thank the Dr. for the inadvertent matchmaking by stabbing him.

After filming the whole thing on Saturday, we couldn't sync up the guy's camera to my laptop to edit it and I was so sick of the process and sleep deprived, we decided to chalk it up to experience and sleep in on Sunday.

So I bailed on the project, but I learned a lot. I kept the Dr. Puppet, whose photos grace this blog post. Best of all, I have extra socks left over from the package I bought for the puppets. Huzzah!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pop Cannibalism 3

I was not watching football yesterday when I looked up at the screen and was appalled to hear the chorus of sensitive, celibate, bi/gay icon Morrissey's sorrowful anthem, "Every Day is Like Sunday" used to promote Sunday Night Football. It wasn't sung by Moz, which may or may not have made things better.

I've seen several Beatles's songs get butchered this last year, namely the dozen variations of Hello Goodbye, but they were so far off from the original that it fortunately remains untarnished. Hearing "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys, on the other hand, will always remind me of Sunkist Oranges. The ad wizards won...jerks.

I understand that as artists, once we write something and release it, it no longer belongs fully to us, it takes on its own life and is open to new interpretation and meaning by whoever receives it, but seriously...Every Day is Like Sunday? This is worse than the Flaming Lip's anti political oppression song, "Yeah Yeah Yeah" being used for Kraft Salad dressing this past summer. Bravo football and salad, you've got that indie rocker demographic right in your cross hairs.

I would like to see the rest of Moz's song used over footage of football players trudging down the field:

"Trudging slowly over wet sand back to the bench where your clothes were stolen."

In Cultural Anthropology 100 I read an ethnography that stated that football was popular in America because of its homo-erotic overtones; men patting each other on the butt, grabbing the ball between their legs, piling upon each other in tight uniforms that accentuate the male figure.

If you think about it, the terminology of the game is also sexual, make a pass, score, go deep, end zone, go long, tight end, bump and run, chuck and duck, split end, man-on-man coverage, muff, slobber knocker, and penis.

ok, I'm kidding about penis, but slobber knocker is furreeallz, at least that is what wikipedia sez.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This sort of thing happens all the time!

When Samson and I finally got passed the gates of the zoo, we knew we were home free.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Weekend With the Sons of Anarchy

I went camping in the San Gabriel mountains this weekend with my in-laws and some outlaws -well, only a handful were real outlaws, the rest were Messengers of Recovery Motorcycle Club. The MoRMC is made up of recovering alcoholics/addicts. My father-in-law is a patch-holding member of the Riverside chapter of the Messengers of Recovery biker club. I had studied the ettiquette and protocol of Outlaw and AMA (non-outlaw) biker clubs and written a research paper on them a few months earlier for my Cultural Anthropology paper. Did you know that they never lock their bikes at a rally because it's an insult. It is like calling the other bikers thieves. Also, you should never touch another man's "cut" (vest with the club's patch, which has had the sleeves cut off). If someone loses their cut, it is a big disgrace. Worse than that is to lose your patch or be forced to surrender your colors.

Lately I've been following the new FX series Sons of Anarchy, a show about a fictitous California outlaw biker gang which co-stars Beast/Hellboy/City of the Lost Children/Harry & the Henderson's Ron Pearlman.
by the way, did you ever wonder if he might have been Tom Waits fraternal twin, separated at birth? It's a lot more believeable than Sczhwarzenegger and DeVito, but probable a bit less comical.

Many of Riverside MOR members have been in several of the shows, playing bit parts and extras. I heard stories about Pearlman dumping his bike so often that they just cart him on the back of a trailer to film his riding scenes. They hire porn stars for the party scenes, which the Messengers find amusing because, as I noticed, 99% of the women in the clubs are someone's "old lady(wife/longstanding girlfriend must earn old lady status by showing loyalty to their men- old ladies are not to be confused with 'mamas')" and have the complexion of a pair of leather boots with breasts that have surrendered to gravity long ago. Nothing like the plastic party girls with double basketball chests that you see on the show.

One of them said he gets paid just to have his bike placed in a shot, so he usually checks the scripts and shrewdly finds the best position to have his bike parked. They also got to shoot rowdy party scenes in which one of the bikers had to endure shooting 3 versions of being passed out at the bar while the others spilled beer over him and whatever else they dished out. They even get paid to eat lunch. It pays around 17.50/hr. for 8 hours of "work."

Other highlights of the weekend were the view from my tent, which I pitched right on the edge of the river, the sound of the river lulling me to sleep, running live sound for the hired band, and hearing the recovery story Paul McCartney's original drummer, Denny Seiwell. Apparently Seiwell was swindled out of millions of dollars of money owed to him for playing with Macca from the "Ram" album, on up the first few Wing's albums. Paul, as it turned out, had no idea this had occured over the course of more than a decade, and recently righted the financial wrong and restored the relationship with Denny.

I have a ton of shirts to screen for tomorrow's big show at the Glass House. I'll leave you with the view from tent: