I conjure up the colors in your eyes
Alfa released a new music video April 12 for “Round and Round,” a track on June 2017’s album Spark & Fury, which you should totally check out if you haven’t already heard it. I think it’s an interesting choice for a music video since it’s not one of the more memorable songs on the album, but there aren’t any bad tracks here, so why not? The video is “directed by my hubby,” Rob Bieselin, she says on Twitter.
The one who’s on your mind
I only became aware of Alfa a couple of months ago, so something is definitely wrong with my music radar, because she should have crossed my path ages ago. She has a voice with flavors of Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlett’s I’m-being-coy-but-I-could-get-psycho-on-you-at-any-time delivery, plus a little bit of Natalie Imbruglia. The easiest comparison (‘though not on this song) is to Ingrid Michaelson’s ukulele-driven, playful, joyous thoughfulness, but I hear a pleasing edginess that makes Alfa more interesting.
It’s a pretty good video. I’m fully down with the video-projected-on-and-past-her device, and except for the creepy eyes on both sides of her body part, I like the choices. Alfa occupies the same spot in the frame throughout the song, so we get movement mostly from her body angle and the shifting light from the projected video. I could do without Alfa’s actual spinning, which I find heavy-handed. Cuts to different angles work for me, though.
The song’s theme is pretty heavy, and Alfa has nice screen presence, so at first the clips where she’s messing with her hair disappointed me. In these shots where she’s not singing the words, it would have been bolder to let her just look into the camera without distracting hand movement. However, we do get that long, lonely gaze at the end. I really admire this decision and the video works better without preludes to it earlier in the sequence.
Those last fifteen seconds make the video for me, and I like the song quite a bit more than I did before I saw it.
Keep on going
Alfa’s YouTube stuff is great. I love the acoustic living-room-type versions of her recorded music (including “Round and Round”), but this kazoo tutorial is my favorite.
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ICYMI: Senator Tammy Duckworth gave birth to her second child, a girl named Maile Pearl, April 9. The junior senator from Illinois is the first member of the Senate to give birth while in office. This past Wednesday, the Senate changed its rules to allow infants on the Senate floor during a vote, enabling Duckworth to stick close to her child while sticking close to the proceedings.
There’s some confusion out there about Maile’s name, and the explanations floating around are only partially correct, so here’s the straight dope. Duckworth and Maile are going to pronounce it “MY-lee,” which sounds exactly like Miley Cyrus’s name, as explained in a pretty good Bustle article last week. However, a few gaps are worth filling.
It’s a fairly common name in Hawaiʻi, where Duckworth earned her high school diploma and her bachelor’s degree. Every year (except one, for some reason) between 1967 and 2012, it was a top-100 most common feminine baby name in the state, usually ranking in the 60s and 70s. There is pretty much nobody in Hawaiʻi who doesn’t know a few Mailes.
The name is the Hawaiian word for alyxia oliviformis, a twining, flowering plant in the dogbane family. It’s native to Hawaiʻi and used to make leis.* A lei is not necessarily the flower garland you see in Elvis movies; leis come in multiple variations. Here’s a photo of Daniel Dae Kim wearing a maile lei at the blessing for the sixth season of Hawaii Five-0, and here’s some video of Hawaiʻi Senator Mazie Hirono honoring the late Senator Dan Akaka, with a maile lei draped across her lectern.
And speaking of Akaka, Duckworth says the name was suggested by him.
Bryan, Abigail and I couldn’t be happier to welcome little Maile Pearl as the newest addition to our family and we’re deeply honored that our good friend Senator Akaka was able to bless her name for us—his help in naming both of our daughters means he will always be with us. https://t.co/KXyNf65KxA
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) April 9, 2018
Note that Maile is different from Malia, the Hawaiian name Barack and Michelle Obama gave their firstborn child. Malia is the far more common name (in 2016, the 46th-most common feminine name in Hawaiʻi).
While “MY-lee” is the common pronunciation, the Hawaiian pronunciation is closer to “MY-le,” where the /e/ sound is like the E in “keg.” You don’t usually hear someone pronounce it this way, but when someone does, nobody corrects it because we all know that’s how we should be saying it. Maile Duckworth can pronounce her name any way she wishes, of course, but hopefully her mommy will make sure she understands its linguistically correct pronunciation as well. I’m certain Dan Akaka would be proud.
* The use of the plural form “leis” has fallen out of favor in Hawaiʻi, as there is no plural form of the word in Hawaiian. However, I insist (against massively popular opinion) that I’m not speaking in Hawaiian when I say it; I’m speaking in English, using a borrowed word, and will therefore use English language conventions. Boy, do people get mad at me for this.
A friend of mine, Steven Lee, who is a Palo Alto resident and involved in city government is helping to raise a scholarship fund in memory of Fred Yamamoto and provided a prepared statement:
“As a 3rd generation Chinese-American and a Palo Alto Human Relations Commissioner, I was strongly in favor of the committee’s recommendation to name a school after Fred Yamamoto, and was disappointed by both the opposition raised by certain members of my Chinese-American community as well as the decision by the school board not to name a school after Fred Yamamoto. We have to move forward, however, and I am committing myself to be part of the larger and continued discussion, which this incident exposed, that we disparately need in this community, to listen certainly, to educate and correct unconscious biases or historical prejudices when necessary, and to ultimately take action when needed to keep Palo Alto a truly safe, welcoming and inclusive community, where no one is unfairly judged by their name, ethnicity or their other identities, even when such action may be deemed “controversial” or “divisive” by those who oppose such action.”
“Backlash to a proposed name for a Palo Alto middle school has provoked surprise and confusion among Japanese-American residents who don’t see the connection between Fred Yamamoto, the Palo Altan who was held in Japanese internment camps and later died in combat, and Isoroku Yamamoto, the reviled marshal admiral who ordered the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Tamie Yusa-Ogawa, a Mountain View native who now lives in the Los Angeles area, called the protest “racism, plain and simple.”
“Yamamoto is an extremely common name. I understand why these people don’t want a school named after Isoroku Yamamoto, but Fred Yamamoto shouldn’t lose out just because he has the same last name,” Yusa-Ogawa, a Los Altos High School graduate, told the Post.
Several dozen parents and residents, including many from Chinese communities, spoke out against renaming Jordan or Terman middle school after Fred Yamamoto at a meeting of the school district’s Recommending School Names Committee on Monday.”
When I had heard about this, I was completely dumbfounded, but not totally surprised. I know some first generation Chinese Americans that harbor anti-Japanese feelings due to World War II. However, first and foremost, Fred Yamamoto was born-and-raised in the United States and is an American of Japanese decent – and died in combat for our country. As far as I’m concerned, Yamamoto is an American hero.
I think a lot of Asians in Asia and Asian Americans still confuse or conflate race with nationality. Fred Yamamoto was not related at all to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. I’m sure most Americans don’t even know who Admiral Yamamoto is! My Japanese and Japanese American friends noted that Yamamoto is a very common Japanese last name.
“At the close of the 2017/18 School Year, we will use the donations to award and recognize a student (or students) who have demonstrated civic leadership, inclusion and service reminiscent of Fred’s spirit. (Depending on the sum raised, we might be able to keep the Scholarship active for more than one year.)
We believe this is an effort many in the community can come together to join: those who supported Fred’s nomination and those who opposed it. For anyone who was inspired by Fred Yamamoto’s service and sacrifice and wants to work to keep his memory alive: Thank You!”
Please consider donating here:
Gingee released her new EP Island Blooms last month, right at the spring equinox.
According to her Facebook bio, Gingee (Marjorie Light) is a DJ, producer and vocalist from Los Angeles. DJing and producing since 2003, she is known for her unique take on electronic music, which blends elements of global bass, world music, and hip hop. Her work is a reflection of the sounds and cultures she has been exposed to growing up in Los Angeles as well as the musical world of her ancestors and beyond.
From the percussive rhythms of instruments such as the Filipino kulintang, kettle drum, and cowbells, to synths, turntables, and rapping, she seeks to speak the language of music and poetry and use it to communicate a message of empowerment and celebration. She has performed at Coachella, South by Southwest, Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture, Calentura, and Magic Garage, an art and music festival she founded.
Despite growing up in Waipahu and living for 20 years in Kalihi (a reference for my Hawaii peeps; they’re two of the most Filipino neighborhoods on Oahu), I can’t pretend I know a darned thing about Filipino music, either contemporary or ancient. Still, Gingee’s grooves sound tribal, hurricane-beaten, humid, and warm. She will remind you of M.I.A. for sure, which already makes her pretty cool, but Gingee’s definitely got some sounds and beats all her own.
I’m sharing this photo, which I’ve stolen from her FB, because it looks like the kulintang is part of her live show, something that has to be unique in her genre, right? I mean, I’ve seen video of EDM DJs doing their thing, and they never play instruments live, let alone a set of gongs from ancient Southeast Asian cultures.
The first track, “Coco Water,” is fun and celebratory, and it will make you want to get up and shake your thing, if you’re the type to shake your thing. I’m not, but I did find this some really nice music to listen to while writing. It’s the highlight of the three-song EP, but all the songs are groovy.
The highlight for me begins at the 1:15 mark in the second track, “Ilha.” Four measures of a long siren sound kick in. They’re followed by the same tone, but broken up in a quick staccato, then followed again similarly, but even more rapid-fire, then again, this time not broken up, but faded back and folded over itself, in kind of a multi-voiced chorus at 1:30.
I didn’t comparison-shop. It’s $2.97 for the whole EP on Amazon, so I didn’t waste any time and just purchased it.
See the Sun
also: Gingee played Coachella in weekend 1 and is back for more in weekend 2, beginning this evening. She writes, “I’m playing 4 sets this week at Coachella! If you’re around come thru w your amazing self!
I’ll update this post with video if any gets posted!
Someone’s waiting there for me; I know it
Meiko released “Back in the Game” March 16. “I wrote this song as a ‘going-out anthem’ for the broken-hearted,” she writes on her website. You know: brush your knees off, get back in there and kick some ass!”
I don’t really care if you believe it
It’s been a while since I last checked in with Meiko (she pronounces it “Meeko”) and I regretted my being out of touch within five seconds of hitting play on my first spin. The lyrics are positive, but the tune has a dark, echoey, I-may-be-lost-in-a-parking-structure vibe I totally love. Block out the vocals and you’d feel pretty confident guessing this is a Raveonettes song.
The chanting quality of the chorus goes really nicely with the droning rhythm, and I dig the nice color added by the strumming acoustic and those nice electric guitar fills. The build-up at the end, especially where Meiko turns her vocals up and out rather than down and in, gives the song a final, uplifting momentum. No Raveonettes feeling at the end for sure.
I’m back in the game
Who doesn’t love Meiko’s voice? Add this track to your why-am-I-still-up? playlist. It’ll make you keenly aware of the loneliness of insomnia but it’ll make you feel like it’ll be okay in the morning, if morning ever gets here.
So let’s play
also, this wonderful cover of the Cranberries’ “Zombie.” Meiko says she’s releasing a covers album this summer, and this is going to be on it.
Though I Get Home by YZ Chin is an intricate series of short intertwined vignettes following a small host of characters tied to Malaysia. Isabella Sin’s time in a notorious prison. Grandfather’s stories about working for a white man when Malaysia was still Malaya. Howie Ho in Silicon Valley. Howie Ho in Malaysia looking for a wife. Isa at a protest. Bets predicting whether the monsoons will come. Ibrahim on patrol, on a mission.
Threads weave through the stories, often invisibly. Together, they offer a deft commentary on life in Malaysia, on individuals living within a globalizing world and a country on the precipice. Some stories occupy just a few pages, others stretch out. Each unfolds carefully into the nitty gritty of humanity. Chin does not shy away from exposing tensions within attitudes about race, democracy, class, family expectations, the state, and more.
I confess, I was often unsure where the book was headed, but found the ride intriguing. Here are ordinary people in all their oddities, trying to make sense of and make decisions in a world that is changing on many dimensions. They are not glamorous, the picture painted is not flattering, and in this there is something fresh and refreshing about Chin’s writing.
There he sat, and there he waited, to see if anything could truly happen to anyone.
Buying a house and applying for a mortgage can be a complicated and intimidating process, but Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans is supposed to make the mortgage part easy:
“Megan may have confidence in the courtroom, but when it comes to her mortgage, she’s in a hairy situation. Luckily for her, there’s Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. It lets you apply simply and understand fully so you can mortgage confidently and get approved in minutes. Find the missing link in your mortgage by visiting http://www.RocketMortgage.com.”
Given all the paperwork and signatures I had to go through to get my mortgage and home, I really do wonder how easy Rocket Mortgage does simplify the process. Buying a house and applying for a mortgage is intimidating. I’m for anything that makes the process easier to understand.
I used to stand inside the gates
Priska premiered her new single and accompanying music video last Thursday, following its launch party and performance the previous Saturday.
I became aware of her when I reviewed Voices of Our Vote a year and a half ago. I wrote that among the 32 artists in the anthology, her “Don’t Go Quietly” was “my favorite vocal on the compilation, and my favorite lyrics, too … Think Sarah McLachlan after a few drinks, with an acoustic guitar and just enough harmonica to make you want to call your ex.”
Last week, I said one of the tracks on Jennifer Zhang’s new EP would make you want to text your ex, leading me to think I may need to confront myself about an issue I seem to have with wanting to reach out to former girlfriends. For now, I’m going to call it a favorite literary trope.
Running toward the boundary line
If the video doesn’t remind you of Fleetwood Mac’s “Hold Me,” you’re probably much younger than me, because I thought of it several times. The mirrors in the desert concept is fine, if slightly baffling for this video. However, the red thread theme is pretty cool, bringing to mind Theseus and his escape from the Labyrinth, which has an extra layer of niftiness since the Labyrinth on Crete was designed by Daedalus, who escaped with his son Icarus, and this song is called “Fly the Coop.” Serendipity, baby! Or maybe not serendipity at all, but still appealing.
It doesn’t please me to say that Priska’s acting in this video is awkward, but I honestly don’t care because her singing is good. It’s fine when she’s singing the words, but that running round in the sand doesn’t work for her, although I admit I don’t know how awkward anyone would look running through sand while wearing a nice dress. The edits are nicely done. Honestly, I might have preferred just a straightforward concert video.
Tonight I fly the coop
Hello! Can we just meditate on that last high note Priska hits on “coo-oo-oop” at the beginning of the chorus? And the note on “you” in “catch me if you can” in the second and third choruses?
Her singing style reminds me of a more soulful, better-voiced Edie Brickell with its sense of longing where she breaks certain lines into thinner vocals, although Priska has a lot more substance in the lower notes and a purer tone in the higher notes. I am a fan of her singing. I also admit I don’t know a lot about singing and if you hear something different, I’d love to know your thoughts.
Buy the music here on Amazon. It’s also available on CD Baby but if our referral link is still working, maybe you can throw a few pennies at your favorite editor.
I know there’s more for me
And this super nice cover of “Rewrite the Stars” from The Greatest Showman, which if you haven’t seen you really must.
I’m a big fan of Stephen Colbert and saw that Jimmy O. Yang, of HBO Silicon Valley fame, was going to be on the show, I was curious as to learn more about him. As I’ve blogged before, I am not a big fan of his character on Silicon Valley, but I was open to learning more about him and was pleasantly surprised that he came to the U.S. at age 13 from Hong Kong, was not a model minority student, and had no idea what to do with his economics degree from UCSD, which took him five years (and he didn’t get into UCLA or USC where he wanted to go, and certainly not Yale, where the previous guest had gone). He was pretty personable and funny during the interview – his first ever on a late night talk show (though he did a stand-up act once on Arsenio Hall).
He talked to Colbert about how he got into the industry and that by coincidence, Mike Judge, one of the creators of Silicon Valley was his commencement speaker and he eventually got his break because of Judge.
Yang was on the show to promote his new book:
Here’s the promotional video he put together for the book:
Best of luck to Yang and I hope to meet him one day! You can learn more about him by checking out his website: http://www.jimmycomedy.com/
The Prince and the Dressmaker is a delightful graphic novel about friendship and secrets and identity and love. Prince Sebastian is supposed to be looking for a bride. But at night, he secretly dons fashion forward dresses and emerges as the mysterious Lady Crystallia with the help of his friend and dressmaker, Frances.
Set in Paris, Jen Wang has created an extraordinary array of imaginative and beautifully drawn dresses and costumes that pepper a story full of heart and growth. What lengths will Frances go to to protect her friend’s secret? And at what cost to her own dreams? As Sebastian and Frances’ friendship evolves, so do the complexities of their choices. Though set in another time, in another place, the two are eminently relatable and lovable for their flaws and successes. Who do they want to be? Who will they be? Neither is perfect. Each encounters obstacles–the weight of expectations, the burdens of secrets, the freedoms of self-expression, the limitations of what looked like success. Together, and individually, they find a way through and the journey is truly charming.
The Prince and the Dressmaker is a book to get lost in for an afternoon. A curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and go from one cover to the other. One huge, satisfying whirlwind ride.
Shohei Ohtani, the “Japanese Babe Ruth,” made his Major League debut Thursday for the Los Angeles Angels against the Oakland Athletics, the American Yakult Swallows. Ohtani went 1 for 5 as the designated hitter, batting 8th in the 6-5 loss to my favorite team on Opening Day.
Ohtani was the most talked-about player in the off-season. MLB announced his eligibility to play for an American team in November; he signed with Los Angeles two weeks later, and speculation about how the Angels would or should use him has been non-stop ever since.
Ohtani is a unicorn in the Majors: the first player expected to see regular action as both a pitcher and hitter since Babe Ruth in the 1930s. As a pitcher, he holds the Nippon Professional Baseball record for the fastest pitch ever thrown (102.5 MPH). As a hitter, he hit a respectable .286 over five seasons with 48 home runs.
He had a less-than-impressive spring training at the plate and on the mound, leading many to suggest that the Angels were hurrying him along, at least in their expectation to use him as both a pitcher and a hitter.
While Ohtani was in the Opening Day lineup as a DH, he didn’t bat Friday against the left-handed Oakland starter Sean Manaea (Ohtani throws right-handed but hits left-handed), and he’s not in the lineup for today’s game, since he’s scheduled to pitch Sunday.
At least for now, this seems to be the Angels’ plan. Ohtani is fourth in the pitching rotation and will be eased into his role as a hitter, most likely as a DH but not on days before he pitches, and perhaps with limited action against left-handed pitchers. Slotting him eighth in the batting order further decreases the pressure to become acclimated to American pitching.
However, pressure will undoubtedly be a constant all season as the Japanese media gives him the Ichiro Suzuki treatment. Most American fans won’t be watching quite as attentively, but until he explodes into stardom or fizzles as a disapointment, he’ll remain one of 2018’s big stories in the Majors.
Sunday’s game against Oakland is at 1:05 p.m. at the Oakland Coliseum.
I can’t recall having brought my lunch to work and having it taken. However, in this McDonald’s commercial, that is the premise of this commercial:
“Check out the new $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu if you have coworkers at your office stealing your lunch. Choose from McDonald’s menu items like the McChicken® for one dollar and top it off with any size soft drink for only a dollar!”
Paul’s lunch has been taken, so he goes off to McDonald’s to get lunch.
Except for Chicken McNuggets, I don’t go out of my way to eat at McDonald’s unless I’m pressed for time (as In & Out, you do have to wait – but can taste the difference in the burgers).