Monthly Archives: December 2008

Brush the Cobwebs Out of the Sky

I leave for Buenos Aires in less than 24 hours. We will fly for over 22 hours (not even including the time spent dinking around in airports in Dallis and Santiago.)

For the occasion, I created an iPod playlist that will last me a solid 12.1 hours.

Including Sigur Ros, Death Cab, the Velvet Teen, Broken Social Scene, Radiohead, Mozart, the Smiths and all other music that is appropriate for flying over clouds.

I am more excited than I have been in my life.

(I traveled on a plane for the first time in my life tonight. The trip from Yakima to Seattle felt like it lasted 5 minutes. I have never felt so enthralled.)



My uncle and I were talking last night about his increasing interest in weird music. Not necessarily Meltbanana weird, but weird for his established musical taste.

Weird like Fujiya & Miyagi. Weird like Sigur Rós. In particular, Sigur Rós.

They are ethereal and soaring. They’re Icelandic, but only sing in Icelandic half the time (which is a jarring enough sound on its own.)

The rest of the time, they speak in a gibberish that their singer has called “Vonlenska”, trying to match falsettos noise, coos and choruses to the transcendent orchestral mess they are frequently producing.

We were talking about Sigur Rós because we both like the band a lot.

I’ve been listening to them since I was in 9th grade, having caught the last 10 minutes of a horrific-looking movie called Vanilla Sky. There was a song playing, though, that caught my attention. Therefore I listened to the downloaded “Song from the End of Vanilla Sky Soundtrack” anonymously for a couple months before I finally figured out who they were.

And when I finally did, I wholeheartedly embraced them.

I had to warn my uncle: Don’t listen to them if you’re sad. They will turn a little bit of depression into couch cushion sobbing for hours.

He was unimpressed and moved on from the conversation.

Later on that night, feeling only marginally stressed out, I put on their album Takk… and let the tears roll.

There is something inherently tragic about the way this band sounds, even when the sound is joyous and first-kiss-in-the-movie worthy (assuming you’ve seen Penelope).

The trigger in the fake words and ones that sound made up attaches them to sad memories. Sometimes to memories so happy they are still worth crying over.

Then, this morning, sitting down to write this, I forgot how good of a job this band does of making someone cry for reasons beyond their music. They make up words to fit their music, but they also create images. Some of the most perfect images to be put to music.

I consider them the perfect soundtrack band, not just because of the unfortunate Vanilla Sky incident, which is the best compliment I could possibly hand out. I am constantly attaching them to places and people and movements.

They also do that for themselves.

I dare you to watch this perfect music video and not tear up. Or remembers things that make you do that anyway.



I think that if SNL (or Andy Samberg) ever release a CD of the increasingly wildly inappropriate songs that play during the “Digital Shorts”, I will buy it. And then I will rock out to it.

I would be loathe to actually post any of the shorts on here because the majority of them are raunchy as all get out. In fact, I think I can barely even type the titles of like three of them without blushing.

Rest assured, though, that is a sign of hilarity. I recommend that all people who enjoy dirty jokes go onto NBC’s website or Hulu and check out a couple.

Is it sad that the majority of the time, Samberg and Co. do a way better job of the music they are parodying than the artists who put out the bad music in the first place? They make cheesy 90’s R&B good and craptastic contemporary pop freaking fantastic.

Speaking of Samberg, apparently he is dating Joanna Newsom. This may seem like just an off the cuff sort of thing, but I am really weirded out by it. Joanna Newsom, for those who may not know, is called “Elf Girl” by my friends and probably anyone else who has ever heard her. She has this weird, fragile voice and sings about puppies and vegetables and mythical creatures. She is also an accomplished harpist and very pretty, though this essay I read by Dave Eggers once protested that her voice requires that she be ugly.

Andy Samberg is a cute, funny dude. They’re equally cool, but on opposite ends of the cool spectrum. I just can’t see it.

Since I can’t put on a short (but go watch them!), here is weirdo Joanna Newsom. She is so weird. In a delightful kind of way.

After the Curtain

I miss Yakima. It is something that I resisted letting on before I moved to my school in Seattle, and remains something that I am almost embarassed to admit now.

Certainly, there were moments of feeling utterly suffocated in that town. I know that I did not belong there (the verdict is still out on whether I belong in Seattle, even) but it was still the town that I grew up in and knew the best. There were parts I loved as passionately as the bits and pieces and sprawling objects that I hated.

I miss my family.

I miss my friends.

I miss the way that I could always see almost all of the sky, no matter where I was.

I miss walking around the area by Franklin Park, the quietness and the trees and the songs I’d blare through my headphones so I didn’t feel completely alone.

I miss driving with my friends and listening to Beirut.

We had discovered a year or so back that Beirut fit our town perfectly. Or this could just be me projecting my memories over their words.

Beirut sounded like quiet and like dust and like the sun and the sky reaching out towards mountains you could see from miles and miles away.

Beirut sounded like the roads in West Valley at night, the dark and the silence and the odd romanticism of it all.

Beirut sounded like clashing cultures and sad people. And funny ones, too.

Beirut had a sound that reminded of poverty and still pushed your heart forward in your chest because the music was beautiful.

Listening to Beirut while driving through Yakima was matching the music to the movements, seeing our town through a movie lens and trying not to admit that we really felt that way.

Beirut is music made by a boy from the Midwest who is only a few years older than me. He dropped out of school, unlike us. He backpacked through Europe, which my friends and I totally did not do (though Mina went to Turkey and I will go to Mexico.) He came home and made beautiful music which is the direct transcription of what I’m sure he feels within himself.

It’s the kind of music that sounds like a transcript of a soul.

So perhaps we did not travel, perhaps we merely left our homes to a city that felt more appropriate and less oppressive. A city that is still louder and bigger and utterly terrifying.

But Beirut still soars the way we do within ourselves.

I listen to Beirut to come home.

Some I Let Go

Speaking of M.I.A., I find it a pressing matter to assure everyone that once upon a time, my friend Bryan and I were the only kids in Yakima that listened to “Paper Planes.”

We listened to it all the time.

I bought the album Kala the summer before Bryan left for college and we cranked it in his car when we’d drive around aimlessly during winter break. Sure, she was known, but she wasn’t exactly popular. In fact, M.I.A. was kind of weird. None of my other friends really got it. But Bryan, he got it. He loved it.

We had both albums on a loop, listening to them every time I hopped into his car.

We dug “Paper Planes” the most. That, and “20 Dollar”. We sang both loudly (and poorly, I can’t rap to save my life) and had assumed some pretty crappy choreography that we both would perform if we weren’t driving on the freeway.

We saw her in May, right before that Pineapple Express movie trailer hit and everybody else became obsessed with her. Bryan, in fact, got to touch her:

Then, suddenly, the song was freaking everywhere. On the radio in the worst ever radio edit ever (They took out the shotgun blasts! Really?!?)

When I got to school, everyone seemed to have the song as their ringtone. Everyone. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the song in class (I myself proudly rock her “Bamboo Banga” on my cell.)

At first, I’d get excited.

“Woah! M.I.A.! I love her. I saw her a couple months ago. Do you like “Boyz”?”

“What’s that?”

At a group meeting we were killing time on a projector and I suggested we watch the video for “Boyz” (which is almost as awesome as “Paper Planes”). One gobsmacked kid in the room stated that he didn’t know that M.I.A. had other songs.


At this point, Bryan and I wear our awesome sunglass-sporting Maya Arulpragasam t-shirts with a little bit of shame, we don’t want to be confused with those other kids. Because, obviously, we totally dug her like more than a year before. We’re champs.

I know it’s kind of a rotten way to be to get defensive of having liked a band first. But, really. It’s pathetic and unfair. I love her. And all Vh1-worshiping,  Abercrombie and Fitch-wearing kids that I want to punch in the mouth better back the hell off.

I declare it, the 3rd of January, 2008: M.I.A. belongs exclusively to Olivia Hernandez and Bryan Bautista.

The end. No take backs.

Sitting On Trains

I am listening to M.I.A. right now because it feels entirely appropriate.

There is this movie out right now called Slumdog Millionaire. And I think every single person should watch it.

I am known for boundless enthusiasm when it comes to good music or good movies, the occasional good TV show. But really, for real, my enthusiasm about this movie is totally founded.

It’s a story about this kid who goes on the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

This kid grew up in the slums and has a will to survive on his own wits.

He is cute as a little kid, seems too small as a teenager, and is heartbreaking as a young adult.

He is fated into loving a girl he ran away from the slums with as a boy.

This kid, Jamal, ran around with his second musketeer of an older brother and landed himself one question away from 20 million rupees on this show.

The police think he’s cheating, so he is finally forced to tell his story.

This all leads up to the greatest all time use of M.I.A.’s nearly-ubiquitous song “Paper Planes”. She is probably beaming every time she watches the sequence because it is exactly what she imagined when she put the track out. It is perfect.

And so is the rest of the movie.

I was doing the belly shake of trying not to sob at the end, because my friends didn’t want to be sandwiching a cry baby in public.

Slumdog Millionaire is an amazing film that further cements my undying love for director Danny Boyle.

Watch it. It’s in Seattle, probably never in Yakima. It truly feels like it should be required.


P.S. for ladies: Cutest. Guy. Ever.