Thoughts on Home

Without much commentary, because I haven’t really done much mulling-over of it, I wanted to include the opening words of Giles Morris‘ Read This First segment in this week’s C-ville. They just really resonated with me.

You can never go home again. The line expresses a quintessential sorrow embedded in the American dream. You move up and out. You can never go home again, because you left and became someone different. When you go back, no one will understand you, and the place you idealized can’t ever live up to the new tastes you’ve acquired. But is the message historical or progressive? Essential or didactic? Was it coined to communicate immigrant longing? Or as a warning to those who made the upwardly mobile journey from the provinces to the city? Or, more basically, does it say something about time and memory?

And since the phrase “American dream” found its way into the very first sentence (and since you know how I feel about media-less posts, and since I spent a good amount of time last week strangely engaged in this song) I’m going to throw in David Bowie’s “Young Americans” along with an insightful interpretation from (Haha I don’t know if I should be embarrassed by admitting that I find myself doing investigating on that site with relative frequency.)

all the way from washington, her bread-winner begs off the bathroom floor: “we live for just these twenty years… do we have to die for the fifty more?”

Several people have mentioned the allusion to the Beatles: “I heard the news today, oh boy.” …Remember the rest of the line? “About a lucky man who made the grade.” You see, Bowie’s song is about someone who has NOT “made the grade” that is collectively articulated as the American Dream. That, in a nutshell, is the point of the song: America bombards people with a litany of flashy expectations -Ford Mustangs, Barbie dolls, Daddy’s heroes (Sports, Hollywood, etc.) material success, etc., but the disconcerting reality is that few people ever attain this tantalizing vision of success, because it’s unrealistic, and when their adult lives turn out to be about divorce, alimony, and general failure, they are just confused. The speaker of Bowie’s song asks questions like “”We live for just these twenty years… Do we have to die for the fifty more?” and “Ain’t there a man who can say no more?” Because he is confused when he sees that a culture that only values youth and flashy things leaves everyone over 20 in the lurch. And there’s no Hollywood hero who will step in to save the day, because that’s just in the movies. In the final evaluation, those who fail to realize that the American Dream is, after all, a dream, will wind up in mid-life wondering what kind of meaning they were really supposed to have sought instead. The ironic part is that Bowie (who is British) is so smart that he manages to critique America without being obvious; most people mistakenly think this song is some kind of celebration of the American way of life. It’s not. It’s an intelligent critique of our shallow culture and the hollow expectations it encourages in place of anything that could actually provide meaning-religion, literature, learning, family, etc.

(Comment– which I don’t mean to say I relate to entirely, but certainly in some ways– by lazerpj. Full lyrics available here.)

But still a sick jam!

(Oh and don’t let me trick you into thinking I’m bummed out or anything… I’ve got housing sorted out for next year, I think I’ve got some second income about to kick in, and Foxfield 2013 begins in three days!!!)

Spring in Charlottesville

Almost exactly a month ago I announced that spring was springing!

spring is springing!But I… jumped the gun a little. It rained a lot, it sleeted a bit, it suddenly hit the 90s for most of last week… Spring seemed nowhere to be found in the mix.

I think it’s finally really here. I expect it’ll be short-lived, so all the more reason to enjoy every bit of these perfect temperatures and stunning colors everywhere we could choose to look.

cville spring downtown tulipscville spring trees skycville spring cherry blossom spudnutscville spring housecville spring purple flowers

i really want to eat the dandelion greens?

i really want to eat the dandelion greens?

the most epic game of hopscotch in the world

the most epic game of hopscotch in the world

cville spring red tulipscville spring petalscville spring birdhousecville spring pitbullcville spring cherry blossomcville spring pink tree skycville spring overhead tulip

oh yeah! and i made ollie a dog run out of a toilet paper roll and some duct tape. but then i just got him a longer leash haha.

oh yeah! and i made ollie a dog run out of a toilet paper roll and some duct tape. but then i just got him a longer leash haha.

Two years ago: Songkran

The City Market

I moved back to Charlottesville last December just in time to be able to attend the very last instance of the City Market for the season. I was both thankful and disappointed; the City Market was always something I was sure to include in any of my rave reviews of Charlottesville I’d impart upon any stranger I encountered in my travels who cared to listen. I didn’t like the idea of waiting all the way until April to shuffle myself over on a yawny Saturday morning to our splendid weekly Farmer’s Market.

But April is finally here!

charlottesville downtownI think today actually marked the City Market’s second appearance this year, but I wasn’t able to make it last week. All week I’ve been excited to walk Ollie over and check out the offerings, especially when I discovered that there would be something Tom Tom Fest-oriented going on as well.

Because apparently I’m just one hell of a curmudgeon these days I’ll lead off with the negative bits (but that means we end on the high notes!). They’re completely petty– the negative bits, I mean. Most of my pictures were pretty terrible and even the ones I managed to salvage leave a bit to be desired. But that was on account of the strong sunlight and I’d be a fool to complain about that. It’s obviously really early in the season so the selection was mostly limited to greens and herbs. But also, who cares, I got a basil plant and a dill plant, and some Swish chard, and some NoBull burgers, and some English muffins and had a great time. But I didn’t get a bagel as planned, because my silly dog started freaking out and barking at everyone and I had to take him away in shame. Lil pup got overwhelmed. Oh also I didn’t really notice anything that seemed to pertain to the Tom Tom Fest, but maybe my timing was just bad.

ollie city market

spot the scaredy pup

city market street

line out the door for the mexican food. (there was no door and it may not actually be mexican... don't hold either of those things against me)

line out the door for the mexican food. (there was no door and it may not actually be mexican… don’t hold either of those things against me)

brussels sproutstwin oaks ornamentals

turns out your business plan may have been sound, downing.

turns out your business plan may have been sound, downing.

city market plantsgrass fed beef

what is this, thailand?

what is this, thailand?

lots of arsty stuff as well... proper hippie get-up

lots of arsty stuff as well… proper hippie get-up

city market paintingscity market wrought ironcity market flowers

oh a jam saleslady at a farmer's market in a 4h tshirt... how cliché...

oh a jam saleslady at a farmer’s market in a 4h tshirt… how cliché…

city market crowns

crowns. because why the hell not?



okay maybe this is my favorite

okay maybe this is my favorite

the cville city market: where greenies and bbq can coexist peacefully.

the cville city market: where greenie’s and j&p bbq can coexist peacefully.

then i went home and made this nobull burger with sweet corn/sriracha hummus (corn+chick peas+tahini+olive oil+sriracha+S&P), herbed chevre (chevre+lemon+dill+pepepper), avocado and baby spinach on an english muffin.

then i went home and made this nobull burger with sweet corn/sriracha hummus (corn+chick peas+tahini+olive oil+sriracha+S&P), herbed chevre (chevre+lemon+dill+pepper), avocado and baby spinach on an english muffin.

Oh, and then I did see a bit of Tom Tom Fest stuff later anyway.

tom tom fest paramountlee park tom tom fest

Two years ago: The Waterfall Excursion
Three years ago: Huangshan Two (Or, a Journey through Middle Earth) (OR: “There and Back Again; A Hobbit’s Holiday”… I Just Can’t Decide)

Guerillas do Gorillaz; Flume does U Street Music Hall

Last week was a good week for me, musically. Awhile ago my brother was excited to inform me he’d been asked to play trumpet with local act Guerilla Tactics when they, appropriately enough, covered the first Gorillaz album (“Gorillaz,” as it so happens) for an April Fool’s Day show. Guerilla Tactics is generally a two-man operation: Tucker Rogers and Rob Bedford (aka DJ XSV), two old friends of mine from my first stint in Charlottesville. For this undertaking they obviously were going to need a little more than an acoustic guitar and some turntables (and a trumpet), however. Another old friend, Travis Elliott, took lead vocals; another Tucker and another Rob (Titus and Richmond, respectively), joined them on drums and bass, respectively; and the Bowden sisters rounded out the mix with Kristen on keys and Amy on violin (and kazoo!).

To the best of my knowledge this spectacle came together with precious few rehearsals and limited time (as well as a couple last-minute changes in the lineup) and I thought the results were well impressive. And despite being moved back from my normal Monday-night bedtime of 10 pm to the unthinkable hour of 11:30 in order to avoid competing with another show at the Jefferson that night, turnout was massive and, suffice it to say, the House was most certainly Rocked.

And… even with all the fun I was having I managed to take over an hour of video? That I’ve trimmed down into four videos and made a playlist from? Enjoy! (Video quality, as always, is definitely lacking but the audio’s decent enough.)

Track listing: April Fool’s Day “treat”, “Re-Hash”, “New Genius (Brother)”, “Punk”, “Sound Check (Gravity)”, “Double Bass”, “Rock the House” (featuring Aaron Ahlbrandt of Kings of Belmont), “19-2000”, “Latin Simone” (featuring Seth Green of Sons of Bill), “Slow Country”and the special encore, “Feel Good Inc.” (Also I apologize in advance for the nonsense chatter that, on occasion, can be heard in the background on my part… a friend and I decided that our only hope for remaining awake until such a late hour came in the form of $3 Jack & Gingers at the Virginian before the show…)

sibling shot! i love that i get to see these two so frequently :)

sibling shot! i love that i get to see these two so frequently

with the prompt 'pout.' (alas, i'm clearly far better-experienced in the ways of pouting than either of my brothers)

with the prompt ‘pout.’ (alas, i’m clearly far better-experienced in the ways of pouting than either of my brothers)

giving it another go

giving it another go

guerilla tacticsryan on stage

hadn't seen these lovely ladies in awhile!

hadn’t seen these lovely ladies in awhile!

having fun

genna matthew and ryan calonder... a match made in cville music heaven!

genna matthew and ryan calonder… a match made in cville music heaven!

Wednesday then found me saddling up to drive to DC to see Flume perform at U Street Music Hall with some friends. Flume (or “Harvey Streten,” as he may have once been known) is a 21-year-old DJ/producer from Australia that a friend had turned me on to awhile ago; U Street’s known to be a pretty dope venue; Nate said he’d take Ollie for the night… I couldn’t resist. And it was fun!

flume u street music hallI mean, there were a few drawbacks. He went on quite late and the set was fairly short (there were rumors that he’d come back on that kept us there later than we may have ordinarily stayed, but eventually we had to cut our losses). We also found ourselves musing that the first few tracks were sounding more or less like he’d just set his CD to “Play” (though even if this had truly been the case it still sounded extra-cool on the state-of-the-art soundsystem they’ve got there). And, this is probably my biggest lament, he didn’t play one of my favorite tracks, “Bring You Down”. That being said, before long he was doing some more novel and interesting things with both new and old songs, and all in all it was a right good time. (The same cannot be said for work on Thursday, but I suppose I was prepared for as much).

Here’s his most recent album:

(My favorites, in addition to “Bring You Down” are “Holdin On”, “Insane”, and “On Top”.)

One year ago: Ubud, Part One (and Getting There)
Two years ago: Krabi (yeah last week marked the two-year anniversary of my departure to Thailand!! So crazy…)
Three years ago: Hangzhou Two

The Bikram Post

I know this isn’t the first time you’ve ever heard of Bikram (and probably isn’t the second or twentieth either); I know everyone who reads this (all two of you) surely has their mind made up already about which side of the fence they’re on when it comes to Bikram Yoga. You either dig the idea of slowly and silently Vogue-ing in the strangest of positions for 90 minutes in a 105 degree room or you don’t. I’m not trying to make believers of anyone.

But (and I know you’re on the verge of confronting me with a, ‘methinks thou doth protest too much’ at this point, but it’s true!) the truth is that I really didn’t intend this blog to be one big collection of YouTube videos, at least not entirely. I wanted it to be a way to kind of… hold myself accountable for a sort of healthy, creative lifestyle through documentation. As far as pursuing creative avenues, I’ll admit I’m slacking. I drew one picture of a wonk-eyed prince (in the style of the great Australian painter, Samuel Condon), and play bad covers on an out-of tune guitar for about an hour every other night. Ooh, I do have one project I’m kind of working on but not in a very disciplined manner at all. But I try not to get down on myself.

From a health perspective, I’m doing alright. I get plenty of (read: so much) sleep; I think I succeed in eating well more often than not (last weekend’s pizza bender notwithstanding); and I get a lot of walking in, between taking What’s-His-Face on daily tours of Belmont and getting to and from the office. But one of the big things I’d wanted to start doing upon moving here was get back into Bikram.

Charlottesville’s a great place for Bikram. That is to say, it has an awesome studio. My good friend and former roommate, Julia, developed such a passion for the practice through them that she became a certified instructor, going on to teach first in Cville and now in the Bronx. Kathy also was a dedicated yogi, completing a 30-day challenge fourth year (and going nearly every day when she was just visiting here, none of which I accompanied her for! So bad!). I had expected that now that I’m a big workin’ girl I wouldn’t run into the biggest obstacle to truly becoming an aficionada I faced as a student: expense. But ay, that $15 an hour gets spread thin every week, and though I went I think three times right when I moved back, after the holidays my good habits were done for.

calonder burns yoga thanksgiving

oh yeah, let’s not forget the calonder-burns family hot yoga session in cary the morning after thanksgiving!

that's right, even the pops-es decided to give it a go with us at the indigo hot yoga studio (

that’s right, even the pops-es decided to give it a go with us at the indigo hot yoga studio ( also huge lolz to ryan in this picture…

But (and this is back on the subject of our studio here being so rad), good things come to those who make excuses for not going to yoga wait, and Bikram Yoga Cville had a great Valentine’s Day promotion: bring a date, sign up for an unlimited month, and your date gets one free. Or, as I interpreted it: steal your brother’s girlfriend for 90 minutes, and both-a-yas can split the price of one unlimited month, ya dig? So we went, both of us miserably out of practice in a fairly crowded session. The experience took its standard course for me: feel pretty hot, feel a little hotter, feel like I’m starting to tolerate it, get dizzy about halfway through the balance series, regain my composure around Triangle, wish the two-minute savasana would never end, lament my lack of back strength through the entire floor series (meanwhile wishing all the intermittent savasanas would never end), and feel like the limpest dampest rag that’s been wrung out a million times by the end of it. But in a good way, you know?

And now we’re both sitting on half-priced unlimited months! For added incentive, I made it this year’s lenten vow (haha) that I would go to yoga thrice a week (that and something about trying to eat vegan twice a week; totally doable, the only reason I wouldn’t would be laziness-with-a-hint-of-self-sabotage). My body (and miiiiiind) are excited for the new onslaught of exercise (yes, 270 hours a week is now an onslaught).

Oh, and here’s an article I’ve been sitting on for months, waiting to get into Bikram again and write about it! I think it’s actually the reason I wrote this post haha. It’s a piece called I Left the Room (so you don’t have to) from a blog I haven’t properly sat down to peruse called I Do Things So You Don’t Have ToThe author is prone to panic attacks and takes a humorous approach to having one that forced her to– gasp!— leave the room during one particular Bikram session.

A quick excerpt:

Oh, wait. That all happened to me. But come on. It’s still funny. You have to laugh, right? Anyway, it’s been quite a while since my ol’ friend panic attack paid a visit. But the day I signed up for my first Bikram yoga class, I had a feeling we might be meeting again.

You see, my young friends, the panic attacks were always triggered by heat and humidity and the feeling that you can’t breathe because there’s no air when it’s hot and you gasp and hyperventilate and OF COURSE there’s plenty of air but that doesn’t stop your brain from telling your body YEE-HAW! It’s fight-or-flight time, and you ain’t got no one to fight and there ain’t nowhere to fly.

And it goes on as such. Do give it a look:

"i left the room (so you don't have to)"

“i left the room (so you don’t have to)”

Oh and what the hell, I guess I’ll wish all you sappy fools a Happy Valentine’s Day as well. My date’s cashed out early, but sleep actually doesn’t sound too bad right now at all.

my snuggy valentine

my snuggy valentine

but don’t change a hair for me, not if you care for me, stay little valentine, stay…

“You mean that’s not just from a Kanye song?!”

One year ago: Valentine’s Cookies (ooh I miss these girls! I didn’t get to tell them goodbye:(…)
Two years ago: Tureya Ashram

The XX Lose Their Virginia-ty, Solar Bear Dominates Para Coffee, and… Something About Jeff Mangum

Perhaps you’ll judge by the fact that I’m posting that I figured out my incompatibility issues. (With technology, not men.) If anyone else ever runs into the issue of not being able to run or edit your .MTS video files from certain HD recording devices (in my case, a newer Sony CyberShot camera) on your Mac, I found this program (“ClipWrap” by Divergent Media) super helpful. That being said I’m only going to actually include videos of Solar Bear because a) there’s already plenty of good XX stuff out there and I’m scared of violating anymore copyright since my account already has a strike and b) we weren’t allowed taking photos or videos of any sort at Jeff Mangum.

street art a few blocks from the national

street art a few blocks from the national

polka dot street art richmondstreet art richmond

Anyway so yeah, last Tuesday Ryan and I saddled up when I got off work, drove to Richmond, got dinner with my friend Andrew, and met up with Ryan’s friend Chandler at the National. I’ll admit I was only even inspired to find out who the opener was that very morning at work, and so spent a good chunk of the day listening to the variety of Austra (pronounced “Ow”-stra rather than “Aw”-stra, apparently) offerings on YouTube. Though only days previous I’d made a mental curmudgeon-y note that it irked me when people and media try to call an artist “the New [insert other artist here]” I couldn’t help instantly drawing comparisons between Katie Stelmanis’ voice and that of my girl Florence Welch. Which I know is a bold remark to make indeed. But see for yourself:

The video I took of Austra did have Katie wishing her bass player sweet birthday wishes but again, cutting my losses.

katie stelmanis austra

austra katie stelmanis

Our late arrival and dinner meant we only caught about a song-and-a-half of Austra’s set, but I wasn’t too troubled by it. We grabbed a beer and settled into what we thought was a prime spot closer to the back, but whence we had a really good view. Unfortunately it doubled as the peanut gallery because there was a group of girls that apparently mistook the National for wherever it is they’d normally be getting trashed and catching up on every detail of the last seven months of their lives at the top of their lungs on a Tuesday night, but even this could diminish the greatness of an evening with the XX only so slightly.

the xx richmond

Chandler made the point that guitarist Romy and bassist Oliver are most definitely the face of the band, but that their producer/percussionist could certainly be seen as the glue that holds the group together (and his production might even be to thank for their sudden stardom). He’s even performed under the moniker “Jamie xx” for the past few years, and in other news you have him to [at least partially] thank for that Drake/Rihanna masterpiece. Anyway the whole show was rather exciting for me but I especially loved watching Jamie circulate amongst his array of instruments, at times using a brush on a cymbal with one hand while playing his drum machine with the other.

the xx richmond blue

the xx lights richmond

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the title of the post, after opening with “Angels” off their new album Coexist Oliver informed the crowd that not only was it their first show in Richmond, it was their first in Virginia. And I love the cheesiest of puns and the rest is history.

Not surprisingly, considering that they only have two albums and after watching their 45-50 minute live sets at Glastonbury and with the BBC Philharmonic (that second one’s really worth a listen, they sound great with the extra orchestration), their set was on the short side but with visualizations, crowd involvement, and of course a spot-on performance on their part that made it totally worth it. So I’ll close this portion with a segment of their Glastonbury show (with– surprise– Florence Welch!), and the video for “Islands” off their self-titled album, because it’s my opinion that everyone needs to see it.

xx richmond

So Solar Bear. I’ll paint you a picture of the rainiest of Charlottesville nights, where Ryan Calonder, Shivesh Puri, and whoever was checking their sound occupied the deserted loft of a local coffee shop. Shivesh manned a MacBook and a drum machine of his own, his acoustic guitar waiting patiently in the corner; Ryan had his new electric ukulele plugged in, its acoustic counterpart and a trumpet also at the ready. They’ve done small shows as “Solar Bear” a number of times, none of which I was able to see until this one. And on account of the rain, it was looking like it might turn into a private show for me until an assortment of adoring fans poured up the stairs at 7:15. In honor of the show we’d seen the night before they opened with an XX-inspired piece they’d put together that day (I believe). Ryan played an instrumental Beach House cover solo, then they rejoined to do one of Ryan’s originals, “Vagabond.” This was the highlight of the show for me; I’d heard the song before but never with their chilling harmonies. Oh and the lighting was really terrible… this videos are for listening to, not watching.

To reference the strike on my YouTube account yet again, I learned today that for the moment I’m not allowed uploading videos longer than 15 minutes :-/. So I had to cut out some stuff and break it into two videos. Shivesh played a number of solo pieces as well, despite what the videos might indicate (sorry!) and all-in-all I was well impressed with the way the two collaborated. Here’s Ryan doing his jam, “Summertime Girl” (I think is the name) and the two of them performing one of Shivesh’s originals.

Jeff Mangum!

There’s so much I want to say but this lavender tea is taking its toll and, not entirely unprecedentedly, this has gotten long. I think this more-or-less sums it up:

actually i WANTED a gif from earlier in the episode where april is surprised that he doesn't know her favorite band is neutral milk hotel and andy gets mad that mouse rat isn't her favorite band but, beggars can't be choosers. also thanks to this inspiration ryan rocked his mouse rat shirt at the concert, which i think was really an underappreciated touch.

actually i WANTED a gif from earlier in the episode where april is surprised that he doesn’t know her favorite band is neutral milk hotel and andy gets mad that mouse rat isn’t her favorite band but, beggars can’t be choosers. also thanks to this inspiration ryan rocked his mouse rat shirt at the concert, which i think was really an underappreciated touch.

A few months ago my friend Ben and I made an arrangement that he’d reserve his extra ticket to the show for me if I provided sleeping quarters for him and a few of his ‘idiot friends.’ I said he had me at ‘idiots,’ and so the idiot troupe piled into a car in DC post-Superbowl on Sunday to earn themselves a day of wine-tasting and gallivanting whilst I was slaving away in the office. Before long we’d enjoyed some of their souvenir wine, had a fantastic meal at Monsoon Siam (my first Thai meal since leaving Thailand, I realized!), grabbed a drink at the Box, and had headed round the corner to the Jefferson. It was my first show in the intimate venue (only opened after I graduated!) and I have to say I loved it. The sloped floors meant there wasn’t a bad “seat” in the house, the acoustics were good, and something about the place just lent itself to lots of crowd interactions with Mr Mangum himself. (He promised to sign someone’s album, he offered someone a prize when they correctly guessed “Oh Sister” was his next song… basically he was just great. He looked like a homeless person, but he was great.) I’ll admit to crossing my fingers for french horns and musical saws on stage, but there was something beautiful and simple about him commanding the stage with just a guitar. (Well, four guitars through which he rotated. And luckily! Because a string broke on one in the middle of one song.)

Again, no recording was allowed, but here’s a video of him playing at the Occupy movement in 2011 (at some point someone asks him to play Dylan and he says, “Dylan?! Haha, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I only know four chords…” or something to that effect, and it tickled me greatly):

Oh and I felt very drawn to one of the posters but we were in a rush to get out. Thanks Rob for hooking me up!

neutral milk hotel poster

This Week in Links: January 27-February 2

And wow, I think I officially have the lamest blog because in two weeks all I’ve had to write about were my favorite things I found on the internet. No, that’s a lie, Ryan and I went to see the xx on Tuesday and I watched him perform with Solar Bear the next day, but technical difficulties are preventing me posting about that. Why, oh why, in this day and age, would your standard HD video format on a camera be Mac incompatible? And why can’t I find a way to convert it to a format that either iMovie or FCP will import, and that is smaller than 15 gigs? (Why can’t we take cocktails to go? So many questions.)

Seriously though, if y’all have any insight into my barely-comprehensibly-alluded-to predicament please feel free to share.

So yeah, back to my exciting internet finds.

First and second up: On the very exciting subjects of work and retirement. The “secrets” in the first article are pretty self-evident, actually, but it’s a short and easy read; Daddy sent me the second and while I’m not quite in the “abiding by them” phase it does lay out some sensible rules to make sure we’re not all working til we’re 90. (I just shuddered pretty violently.)

secrets of america's happiest companies

10 commandments of retirement plannin

Many of you may have already seen that our dear little hamlet of Charlottesville got a shout out in this Huffington Post  list of ‘the country’s most restaurant-crazy cities.’

huffington post the country's most restaurant-crazy cities

Emilie sent me this beautiful, wonderful, linguistically fantastic collection of foreign words with no English equivalent. Why don’t we have a word for the sense upon meeting someone that you’re going to fall in love?! (And in how many languages is there a word for it?)

14 wonderful words with no english equivalent

And from that I found this one about twelve states that only almost were. (No, Puerto Rico is not on there.)

12 proposed us states that didn't make the cut

I’m not a very political person and I wouldn’t generally have my blog go in that direction but I figured this Mother Jones article would appeal to all my wacky liberal friends, anyway: (Bonus: at the end it, as expected, devolves into a good old-fashioned gun debate!)

10 pro-gun myths shot down

And guys, you thought Ollie was cute in a duvet:

ollie in bedollie in blanket

Doesn’t it just make you think, “Oooh, now if he were only in something a bit more… bespoke. I bet he’d sure be handsome…”?

Turns out you’re right. He’d be super handsome. It’s making me wonder if I didn’t have one of those sober, midday blackouts I’ve been having lately and sneak him into the Young Men’s Shop Downtown and have a photo-shoot. Thanks, Uncle Gary, for sharing the page that linked to this most amazing of Tumblrs starring Ollie’s doggy doppelgänger: “Menswear Dog.”


Yes, it’s got me pretty convinced that for being a “Thai street-dog mutt” (as I always tell people when they invariably ask. That or “Thai domestic fox,” because as David and I know, he looks like a medium-sized dog… but he’s a frickin’ huge fox.) he’s definitely got some Shiba Inu in him. And yes, I made a priority of subscribing to his Instagram as well.

Oh and today’s a good day for a Song of the Day. Phil and I were checking out The Nick Kroll Show (painfully funny, I thought) the other night and a trailer for Colin Farrell’s upcoming movie Dead Man Down came on (confession: I found it so ridiculous as to have assumed it was a Nick Kroll sketch when it started). By the end of the trailer, and with the knowledge that it’s being done by the director of the Swedish Girl With the DragonTattoo (It’ll be his first Hollywood foray, which I’m interested in because his GWTDT was very noticeably not Hollywood, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not.), I was actually kind of won over on the movie. But the most noteworthy part of it, for me, was this excellent cover of the Pink Floyd classic, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” done by a gal named Kendra Morris. While my favorite experience with “SOYCD” covers still has to be standing transfixed while Umphrey’s McGee did their awe-striking cover of the tune at All Good 2009, Kendra truly does it justice as well. See for yourself:

One year ago: The Story of a Passport
Two years ago: The Long Ride from Kolkata to Kodaikanal

In My G4 Over Da Sea (and Baby Bro’s 21st)

Whoa. You’ve done it again, Ben Holmes. I was out for my littlest brother’s 21st birthday last night, so you’ll forgive me not remembering opening the email when you sent it, but it was a nice little present to wake up to this morning, on my couch, with my feet perched comfortably on top of Ollie’s sleeping form.

Everyone, please enjoy this excellent version of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” remixed under the moniker Neutral Bling Hotel and retitled “In My G4 Over Da Sea.” Very good production and a brilliant choice of songs to mash-up. “Jesus Walks” with “King of Carrot Flowers Pts 2 & 3“? As Jeff Mangum croons, “I love you Jesus Christ!”?! Come on, people. It’s almost too perfect. By the end of the third track you’re wondering what these songs sounded like without a bit of bass and a sick flow over top. (Or, conversely, by the tenth track, what “Ice Cream Paint Job” sounded like without bagpipes. Okay confession, I’ve never heard that song before, thus really don’t know what it sounds like sans bagpipes.)

in my g4 over da sea

And since I mentioned the birthday party (at Nate’s apartment and the Biltmore):

mustache flaskme and nate

adam and matt

with my wingmen for the evening

with ryan and nate

birthday shots!

birthday shots!

even ollie gave him a card

even ollie gave him a card

So yayyy Nate’s 21, hip hip hooray!

One year ago: Nam Tuum!

Humpback Rock and Django

ollie on couch

I’m excited for this post because it’s finally a Thailand-esque one about, “Hey, I did this fun thing!” rather than, “Hey, I watched this great YouTube video!”

When my friend Kathy decided to come stay with me (and Caleb, technically) for two weeks between terms at Columbia Law, one of her conditions was that we hike Humpback Rock— a vantage point just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway (the equally beautiful, cheaper [read: free-er] version of Skyline Drive) not half an hour from Charlottesville. It’s a popular, relatively short, little trail that gets frequented as the weather warms up, and though both of us have our outdoorsy streaks, neither of us had ever been during undergrad.

Lucky for us temperatures reached unseasonable 70-degree heights this past weekend, and Sunday proved to be a most opportune day to hit the mountain. Even the Snug Pup got to come.

(We used the directions at the end of this blog post to get there and they served us just fine. An easy path off 64.)

humpback tree

woods into the woods overlooklooking out

friends on a mountain

friends on a mountain

only cuz ollie looks cuter here :)

again, only cuz ollie looks cuter here 🙂

he wants to go to there

he wants to go to there

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

observing his empire king olliesundown on the blue ridge

with an orb coming out of his head

with an orb coming out of his head

a portion of this will be my... fourth album cover.

a portion of this will be my… fourth album cover.

uni-brow-y? (me, not k)

uni-brow-y? (me, not k)


haha... this is such a weirdly proportionate picture

haha… this is such a weirdly disproportionate picture

colorful sunset

ollie and me

awkward family photo

awkward family photo

couple couple and sundown leaving the rocks sundown road and sunset

Then we met up with Phil that evening and went and saw Django Unchained.

Of course it’s a bit trite to say, but I do consider myself a Tarantino fan. Yes his films are vulgar and violent and yada yada yada but they’re also clever and funny and wonderfully stylized with the most memorable of characters and dialogue, generally with a relatively kick-ass soundtrack to boot. This was no different. It was simultaneously a hilarious (emphasis on hilarious. I was not expecting to be giggling the whole time, but I really was.) parody of and reverent homage to old Westerns (making use of quick zooms-in-and-out, “cowboy music,” and saloon-font titles for effect) that follows the plot of a German folk-tale set in the antebellum South… No one but ol’ Quentin could have come up with something like this (presumably over drinks one night after Christoph Waltz told him the story of Brunhilde in passing), but I’m so glad he did.

(On a somewhat-related note I came across this list of the 50 most controversial movies of all time in search of the title of DW Griffith’s 1915 “masterpiece,” The Birth of a Nation, which was eluding me in the moment. I was having memories of having learnt about it in one of my film history classes; how it was such a paragon, strictly cinematically speaking, in its day but unfortunately took the form of a heinously racist pro-Klan propaganda vehicle. Both films show slaves in a position to, how you say?, start some shit… But whereas Klan members are the heroes of Birth of a Nation, in Django one of the outright funniest scenes makes the most delightful mockery out of the white-sheeted vigilantes. Anyway, there are lots of interesting-looking films on that list so check it out!)

Oh yeah and maybe you’ve heard… Ollie’s antics have continued:

after eating the dictionary he's been confined to my room, where i thought i'd more or less dog-proofed everything. except i guess my most recent journal-- which i started on the plane leaving thailand-- was too close to the edge of my table. excellent, snugs. excellent.

after eating the dictionary he’s been confined to my room, where i thought i’d more or less dog-proofed everything. except i guess my most recent journal– which i started on the plane leaving thailand– was too close to the edge of my table. excellent, snugs. excellent.

I was sad and upset but of course knew I was also to blame, and realized I could maybe just maybe even patch it back up. Things were on the up and up almost immediately: the convenience store was out of tape but the guy behind the counter gave me the last of their tape-roll, saying they had more. Be still my heart.

Aaaaand, voila:

snugs and journal

such luck, the journal came with a separate elastic band that ollie managed not to destroy. it’s like it was meant to be!

Two years ago: October 22-23: Lobuche-Phunki Thanka-Namche
Three years ago: ANYTHING But My Google…