Archive for the 'Just for fun' Category

One for tonight

(Photo Spapax)

“New Year’s Kiss” by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone:

From Etiquette.


Now that Gibbard’s out of the picture…

This is far too adorable for words. Just look at those dimples! Gah.
I’m not really into She & Him, but this… I can’t say no, and I can’t turn away.


Reason #27 JFran and I should be BFFs

I went to hear Jonathan Franzen speak as part of the New Yorker festival yesterday.

Someone in the audience asked him about his relationship with music.
Here’s his thoughtful response:

This is perhaps one of my favorite Sufjan songs (and songs in general). Nice, JFran.

Not sure if this is the Cocteau Twins song he was talking about, but I always have liked this one.

Summatime mix

With record-breaking temperatures across the country, I thought I’d put together a little summer mix. These songs aren’t necessarily new, but they do seem appropriate given their names.

(photo Liz Kasameyer)

1. “Heat & Hot Water” – ARMS
2. “Dye” – Eternal Summers
3. “Meet Me By The Water” – Saturday Looks Good To Me
4. “Coma Summer” – Weekend
5. “103” – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
6. “Summer Holiday” – Wild Nothing
7. “Sunlight” – tUnE-yArDs
8. “Sun” – Caribou

Stay cool, kids. And remember: Hydrate or die.

Wait. Didn’t We Just See That? Why It Doesn’t Matter that Natalie Portman Already Made that Movie.

I interrupt the normally scheduled music posts to bring you some thoughts on another topic.

Before she had even taken home an Oscar for her performance in Black Swan, Natalie Portman played Ashton Kutcher’s friend and—you guessed it—love interest in the formulaic rom-com No Strings Attached. This Friday, Portman’s former on-screen rival, Mila Kunis, is starring in version 2.0.

Whether due to prevailing cultural trends, mysterious economic forces, or pure coincidence, Hollywood is of course notorious for churning out transparently similar movies in quick succession. But this time around, the similarities are even more pronounced than usual due to the Portman/Kunis connection. Before it came out, Portman’s version was even temporarily named Friends with Benefits (after the MPAA shot down the original title, Fuck Buddies).

During January release, No Strings Attached did fairly well despite lukewarm, and in many cases, downright negative reviews. For its opening weekend, it was the highest-grossing movie ($19.6 million). And if early buzz is to be trusted, Friends with Benefits has the potential to do even better than its predecessor. Let’s be honest. It would be hard for Kunis and Timberlake to have less chemistry than paper-thin Portman and Kutcher. And it doesn’t hurt that there are rolls—albeit small ones—for Patricia Clarkson, Emma Stone, and Woody Harrelson, and Richard Jenkins.

Even though FWB triggers some serious déjà vu, when it comes down to it, the shameless lack of originality won’t affect its overall success. People will still buy tickets, and they will do it in droves because against our better judgment, we can’t help but wonder how the ‘relationship’ will unfold, who will be the one to get hurt (my money is on Timberlake’s character), and who will make the initial push for reconciliation.

Faced with the other two options: the loneliness of the single life and the potential heartbreak of love, it’s natural to long for the sweet spot—that elusive third option that is repeatedly depicted in pop culture despite the fact that deep down, we know it’s not really a good idea. In a recent interview with GQ, even Kunis herself came out against the eponymous arrangement that her character Jamie seeks, saying:

I can give you my stance on it: It’s like communism—good in theory, in execution it fails. Friends of mine have done it, and it never ends well. Why do people put themselves through that torture?

Sadly, in some regards NSA and FWB will fall short. While they have the potential to offer a truly groundbreaking and provocative analysis of a widespread cultural trend, the beauty of movies like these is that we already know how they’re going to end. And although unoriginality is a major complaint lodged against mainstream Hollywood, the irony is that Friends with Benefits will succeed not in spite of its predictability but because of it.

Because if we’re honest with ourselves, we won’t be watching the movie with Kunis or Timberlake in mind. Instead of the two Hollywood leads, we’ll see versions of ourselves and our own desires on that screen… and this time, we can at least bank on a happy ending.

With the typical chick flick/rom-com, the audience naturally roots for the two main characters (who are no doubt gorgeous, intelligent, and of course witty) to end up walking down the aisle as the credits roll. But in this case, we’re rooting for an idea—and one that we’re led to believe is infinitely safer and sexier than its potentially devastating counterpart, love.  Constant late-night hook-ups, a familiar face, and none of those pesky emotions? Sounds good, right? Of course, unlike Jamie (Kunis) and Dylan (Timberlake), we know that these things are rarely as easy to pull off in real life as they are in the movies. According to a recent study involving college students (arguably the largest demographic to opt for the FWB scenario), only about 10 percent of relationships blossom into long-term romances. Another quarter of people formerly in a FWB relationship lose both the sex component, and more tragically, the friendship.

The trick, at least with Jamie and Dylan, is that their relationship is unfolding in a controlled environment. So no matter how risqué the sex montages are or how raunchy the dialogue gets, it’s painfully obvious that the movie will ultimately champion good old-fashioned monogamy, which—although arguably a missed opportunity to really explore a complex social issue—is the best thing that director Will Gluck can do to ensure a commercial success.

As I watch the trailer for Friends with Benefits, I can’t help but shake my head when—fresh from a recent break-up with her boyfriend (played by Andy Samberg)—Jamie lashes out at a Katherine Heigl movie poster for the unrealistic expectations for romance that traditional chick flicks like hers create. But for as much as the producers want you to think the film is edgy and unique, the major story arc seems to be anything but mysterious.

Poor Jamie and Dylan. They try so hard to avoid the Hollywood clichés. Too bad they will inevitably become one.

Contribute to science… and hear new music!

I stumbled across a fun little music game today. And by participating, you’re actually helping to further technology’s understanding of music.

Here’s the info, straight from

For several years scientists have been trying to extract meaningful information about music directly from the audio data in a track. […] For a while researchers hoped that it would be fairly easy for a computer to analyze an audio track and transcribe it directly to sheet music notation, recognising instruments, voices, and all the notes they were playing.

This was quickly found to be a much harder problem than expected, and a new field of research grew out of the failure to conquer this challenge.

So basically, there have been some technological innovations geared to help automatically transcribe the audio into sheet music. The problem is, it’s hard to know if the new software is doing a decent job at the task. That’s where we come in.

Lend them your ears!

They’ll give you a short clip of a song, and you determine the tempo and tap out the beat.

It looks something like this:

The best part? You get to hear stuff you would normally never listen to… like this:

Nice, right?

So get to it. And let me know if you discover anything good.

A surprising cocktail of sound

I’m sure it’s happened to you. Your browser unexpectedly closes, and when you decide to restore all your tabs, you’ve got a sudden influx of sound coming from multiple places. Maybe it’s that Netflix movie you were halfway through, some random YouTube video, or a song. Due to my habit of having maybe 30 tabs open at a time, it becomes this mad scramble to figure out where the sound is coming from and to slowly restore silence.

Well that happened to me this morning. But instead of being annoyed, I found that the combination of videos was actually quite pleasant. They were two things that ordinarily would never be together: an Audacity instructional video and Bon Iver’s new single, “Calgary.” But for some reason it worked. (That Audacity woman has such a soothing voice, no?)

Here they are.  You can play them at the same time or separately. Your choice. I’d recommend clicking play on Bon Iver and then immediately clicking play on Audacity. I just wish they were the same length!

"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being