adrian is rad


arts this week (IFFB, Archers of Loaf, Horse Feathers)

Filed under: — adrian @ 5:42 am

This past week and a half has been pretty busy, including seeing three movies, three bands and two baseball games. I won’t talk much about the games—you can find out what happened in the two games (Sunday’s 17 inning Red Sox loss and last Monday’s win vs Oakland)—but here’s what happened with the movies and bands.


  • Sleepwalk with Me was the opening night film for the Independent Film Festival Boston, where I saw all of these films. It’s Mike Birbiglia’s semi-fictionalized take on his life, sleepwalking, relationships and becoming a comedian. I liked his comedy for a while. And, really, what I mean by his comedy is his story telling style. I wasn’t disappointed. This is equal parts funny and thoughtful and I’d recommend it. My one fear with the film is that producer and cowriter Ira Glass will get a lot of the credit where most of the meat of the story come straight from Birbiglia’s comedy.
  • Knuckleball!: This is a documentary about the baseball pitch. Since about 1992, when I became fascinated with Tim Wakefield, I’ve liked the knuckleball and knuckleball pitchers. This game an interesting look at the history, some of the pitchers and the mechanics of the actual pitch. Most of the film, though, looked at the two pitchers who were still throwing it in 2011: RA Dickey and Tim Wakefield. (Wakefield has since retired.) I enjoyed it a lot, but I think it may only be for those who are interested in baseball.
  • Under African Skies is a documentary about Paul Simon’s Graceland with a large part of the film focusing on Simon’s first trip back to South Africa since the album was released. (He played in Zimbabwe in 1987, but not in South Africa itself.) He reunited with a lot of the original musicians and through and around them playing the album’s music together again, some of the story about how the album was made and the aftermath were told. I really thing Graceland is one of the best pop albums ever, so I wasn’t a hard sell on this movie, but I thought it was a really well-made film.


  • Archers of Loaf @ the Middle East: I’ve liked this band since I was 18; unfortunately they broke up when I was 17. Luckily they reunited last year and added a Boston stop to their tour dates this year. The show itself was great. It wasn’t just that they played all the old songs I loved, but that there were all these fans seeing the band they couldn’t see for all those years. It made for a fun atmosphere.
  • Horse Feathers @ Brighton Music Hall: I’d seen Horse Feathers before, in a small show in San Francisco almost four years ago. This time it was a Saturday night crowd in Boston and a sold out show. The band played well and from that aspect it was a great show. The crowd was very chatty, though, which distracted from the overall experience. I’ll never get why one would pay 15 dollars to see a band and then talk he whole time.
  • Feist @ House of Blues Boston: After all of the above Margaret and I were not exactly excited for another night out. Add to that that I’m always sceptical of large venues like House of Blues. Feist came out and started the hard, scattershot rhythm of “The Bad in Each Other” and we were won over. And, though it’s very big, House of Blues has good sound and decent sightlines.


custom cooke cutters

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:51 pm

Before Christmas I made and 3D printed three custom cookie cutters: one of Santa, one of my face and one of Pennsylvania. The outlines were the cutting part and then the inside was meant to emboss the shapes into the dough. They worked pretty well except the dough itself spread out too much when it was baked so it lost some of the resolution. More flour and less butter next time.


I’m going to make this shirt

Filed under: — adrian @ 7:18 pm

boston tech shirt

A nod to history, of course.

(Thanks to Dave for making the graphic look right.)



Filed under: — adrian @ 11:22 am

I lived with James aka ob1 for a year at ye olde frat. I knew a great many things about him: he was a triple major; had a fiancee; captained the gymnastics team; played guitar in a rock band; walked up the unstable banisters of the center stairwell on his hands; tried to imitate tricks he saw Jackie Chan do; was built from pure muscle. Then he went off to circus school in Montreal. What I didn’t know was that he’s a good writer, too:

Ten years ago: Circus school teaches me how to drink, how to smoke, and how to love a woman only until morning. My classmates and I are the shaggy, unshaved future of the circus arts, sleeping in the hardwood corners of each other’s apartments. In the candlelit Montreal winters we vow to fight the good fight together. “The future of circus,” we tell each other through late-night veils of smoke and alcohol, “is whatever we make it.”

Six years Ago: Our growing collective of circus artists dedicated to theatrical expression through circus arts has been tapped to receive funding and international tour support from the French government but is forced to disband when two of the four members accept Cirque du Soleil contracts.

Four years ago: I am homeless in the streets of Tokyo until an expatriate Flamenco dancer from Madrid takes me in. She teaches me how to seduce a woman and how to dance with her close. “You smell like cinnamon,” she tells me, and then, like a gypsy curse, “you will be the boss of your own company someday.”

Two years ago: I am the boss of my own circus company with projects in fourteen countries and annual revenues over 300,000 dollars. The future of circus, it seems, is business.

Three months ago: I drink absinthe beside Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River with one of my best friends, a French acrobat. Seven years ago we were street performers on the Ramblas of Barcelona. “The future of circus has forever changed,” he tells me. We are the last generation of artists who knew circus pre-Cirque du Soleil – just as the generation before us was the last to know the great circus families of Europe in their full glory. The trunk has been severed from its roots.

Last time I saw him was in Taipei in 2007–that’s in the “two years ago” section of the time line. It was surreal even then. I’d gone to grad school and worked in Silicon Valley. He’d gone to circus school, busked in Europe, started his own company and lived out of a suitcase. We watched football and played foosball in a sports bar in the Xinyi district of Taipei, not far from Taipei 101. In many ways we picked up where we left off, but our experiences were so different in between.

It’s worth checking out the whole article.


nerd-xing is no more

Filed under: — adrian @ 1:24 am

A friend just forwarded me this email I sent from the day before my 23rd birthday, just as I’m about to leave Boston. It displays my sadness about my favorite MIT dialup[1] server being retired.

(All of the MIT servers were named after hacks. I’ve linked the hacks below.)

From: bischoff@MIT
Subject: sad
Date: August 26, 2003 3:27:31 PM PDT

nerd-xing and cathedral-seven are no more. nerd-xing was my favorite dialup for a long time       25  TEST        contents-vnder-pressvre           3000       25  ATHENA-NORMAL  buzzword-bingo                25731       25  ATHENA-NORMAL  department-of-alchemy          25902       25  ATHENA-NORMAL  magic-pi-ball                  26066       25  ATHENA-NORMAL  biohazard-cafe                 26092       25  ATHENA-FTP  mass-toolpike                    26227       25  X           no-knife                          41390

(and mass-toolpike isn’t an express server anymore. it’s ftp!)


[1] Of course we didn’t actually dial-up to them, we just used our T1 and sshed in.


story week, part 7/ final

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:17 am

I’m going to tell you a story every day for the week.

I lived in a crazy communal house in college. On any given day, you might find people programming a laser-light show in one of the rooms (via the internet), disassembling a ’70s motorcycle, debating whether one can be truly selfless, building custom made Nixie clocks—”Don’t touch the back. It has enough voltage to kill someone”—or making plaster molds and subsequently casting wax copies of their genitalia.

The house was in the Back Bay, in one of those coveted brownstones and had been the home to MIT kids since the ’50s, which grandfathered in some lovely things like an open center stairwell. This feature lead to drops. A drop must be loudly announced with the name of what you were dropping; one would yell “laundry drop!” and drop his bag of laundry down four floors. It was a lot more than carrying it down.

While laundry was the most common drop, pennies, large rubber balls, bouncers (our name for Rubbermade polycarbonate mugs that did indeed bounce when dropped), printers and any number of other things were dropped.

The center stairwell was also a brilliant communication method. “Andy! Someone’s at the door for you!” for instance. One day I left my room on the fourth floor with the purpose of throwing away cottage cheese that for some reason came with chunks of pineapple in it and tasted simply wretched. Jesse was at the bottom of the stairs yelling: “Ian! Phone for you! Iaaaan!! Phooooone for youuuu!” Ian lived on the fifth floor which, was built after the rest of the house and was cut off from the main stairwell. Ian was not going to hear Jesse.

I saw my chance. “Jesse, I’ll get Ian if you try to catch my cottage cheese drop.” I’d save him walking up four flights of stairs, so it seemed fair. There was a slight pause. “Okay.” “You realize if you don’t catch it right, it’ll explode all over you.” “Yeah.” I wondered if the person on the phone was hearing all of this.

With gusto previously unparalleled in a drop announcement, I yelled, “Cottage cheese drop!” and let it go. The container accelerated down four stories at a rate that could be approximated as 9.8m/s^2 if you ignored the effects of drag. In retrospect, Jesse never had a chance. Jerry Rice couldn’t have made this catch. There was an explosion and cottage cheese was everywhere.

I ran up to the fifth floor. I’m not sure Ian could even understand what I was saying through my laughter or, if he did, I’m sure he had no idea what was so funny about there being a phone call for him.

[Epilogue: Yes, I helped clean up the cottage cheese.]


10 years on…

Filed under: — adrian @ 2:09 pm

August 19, 1999. People celebrate anniversaries of graduations, but that date changed my life far more than the graduation three months before. It was the day I left for college.

My mom had taken me to the airport and my friend Mike met me at the gate—remember when you could still go to the gate to see someone off? I’m still not sure why but in those days Mike loved going to the airport so I told him when my flight was thinking he might come. He did. (Thanks, Mike.) As the gate attendant took my boarding pass for that US Air Pittsburgh-Boston and I looked back at Mom and Mike, I didn’t cry; my eyes didn’t well up. I didn’t know how to cry in those days. It was another six months before I learned again.

But I was frightened. I knew I wouldn’t be a big fish in a small pond anymore. I had no idea what size body of water was coming or anything else.

It wasn’t the ten years I imagined it’d be, but it’s been good. I’ve lived all over the place. I’ve had great opportunities. I’ve met lots of great people and made great friends. I’ve worked on interesting projects. I gained and lost confidence so many times I can’t remember. I’ve gone through phases and hobbies and crushes and and and…


The require readings of 21L.002

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:43 am

I was thinking about this yesterday. The require readings for 21L.002: Foundations of Western Culture II were pretty tremendously varied and interesting.

When I took it, they were:

  • Bernardino, Fray The War of Conquest: How It Was Waged Here in Mexico
  • Blake, William Songs of Innocence and Experience
  • Card, Orson Scott Ender’s Game
  • Card, Orson Scott Speaker for the Dead
  • Machiavelli, Nicolo The Prince
  • Ondaatje, Michael Anil’s Ghost
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Voltaire, Francois-Marie Candide
  • Whitman, Walt Civil War Poetry and Prose
  • Williams, Helen Maria Letters Written in France

And selected parts of:

  • Cortes, Hernan Letters from Mexico
  • Levinson, Sanford Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies
  • Lowell, Robert “For the Union Dead”
  • Walcott, Derek “A Far Cry from Africa,” “Ruins of a Great House,” and “Season of Phantasmal Peace”

What a ridiculous range of stuff! I’m glad I took it.


on race and baseball and coincidental encounters in south africa

Filed under: — adrian @ 1:41 pm

Three unrelated topics that are on my mind.

On race: I forgot how blunt people[1] can be about race in South Africa. Having lived in places where mentioning race is equated with racism, it’s a bit shocking. I wouldn’t say these people are racist just for being aware of race–it’s simply a nation that’s very conscious of race as it was a very prominent difference for many years. There’s still racism, of course, it’s just not always the same as the blunt language.

On baseball: I watched a baseball game this afternoon. ESPN World replayed last night’s BoSox vs. Tampa Bay game. I didn’t realize they aired baseball in this market–though I do remember them airing pennant-hunt and playoff games in Asia when I was there in the fall a couple years ago, but those markets are much more interested in baseball than this one. I also saw an ad for Sports Center, though it’s the world edition so we’ll see how it is. Maybe the top 10 plays will still be good.

On coincidental encounters: Yesterday at a small shopping center, I passed two American girls (judging by accents), one of whom was wearing a University of San Francisco sweatshirt. Not only is that that town I just came from, I was on the USF campus the day before I left. Not in South Africa, but there was nevertheless an odd coincidence on Tuesday. We ran into a friend of my aunt’s while out on a walk with her dog in a small town outside London and it turns out she’s about to go to San Francisco to visit her brother. Her brother lives in Noe Valley on 26th St., which is probably within five blocks of where I just lived in SF (also on 26th St.). And I’ve undoubtedly walked by his house as I used to walk up 26th when I needed some peace and quiet.

[1] By “people” I mostly mean people of my parents’ generation. I have had few lengthy conversations with people my age in South Africa and their attitudes are possibly/ probably different.



Filed under: — adrian @ 8:36 pm

yellowed page out of my circa 1992 Tim Wakefield scrapbook

Here’s some baseball stuff that I’ve seen recently.

Tim Wakefield, who, yes, I’ve followed since his Pirates days, had a no-hitter through 7 1/3 last week. He’s 45, has been in the majors 17 years and he’s never had a no-no, as they call them. Watch the highlights or read more.

A Ranger named Ian Kinsler had a 6 hit game including the cycle last week. Highlights. He has two singles, two doubles, a triple and a home run. How’s that for a good game?

Do you realize the Pirates are 0.600 and are a game out of first? Crazy. Can it last? We can—and should—hope.

The new Yankee stadium has overpriced seats and the four games in there are already empty seats.


trip (and other) photos up on ghm

Filed under: — adrian @ 2:48 pm

I’ll be posting a lot of my trip photos–and some older photos too–up on the collective photo blog over the next week or two. Check in there for new photos. Here are a couple so far:

You Go Girl, Brooklyn

Monk outside Snake Alley, Taipei


adrian tries to fit 12 days of travel and vacation into one post [explicit lyrics]

Filed under: — adrian @ 10:49 pm

I don’t know how to do this at all in one post. I spent the last 12 days in Boston, NYC and DC.

The best part was seeing people I don’t get to see very much. Everything else places after that.

Tourism and whatnot:

  • New York Transportation Museum is awesome. It’s in a 1930s subway station. On the tracks are 20 or so vintage subway cars from across the history of the New York subway. It’s pretty great.
  • Brooklyn Museum is pretty good. A decent collection but definitely a second tier museum
  • Coney Island is a lot of fun. The Cyclone’s first drop is heart-stopping and the sliding cars on the Wonder Wheel are pretty amazing.
  • Baltimore Orioles vs. Texas Rangers. We had good tickets (3rd row of the bleachers). It was a good game and Camden Yards is a pretty great ballpark.

Music and Film:

  • My friend played backup as part of My Brother the Welder‘s first show ever. It was a good time. Good tunes and impressively precise for a first show ever.
  • Lars and the Real Girl is an amazing movie. Touching and hilarious and awkward all at once. I really liked it.
  • American Teen is a documentary following 5 people (and a handful of their friends) over a year at a midwestern high school. I found this very compelling and I was totally engrossed in each person’s stories. It also serves as a lesson in parenting–many of the parents in the movie just say horrible things.
  • Shaun of the Dead. I managed to see this as part of an afternoon of TV. It was good, but I think I liked Hot Fuzz better.
  • At my friend’s mostly-traditional Indian wedding, there was a really good dhol drummer providing a beat for dancing and the procession. It makes me want to learn yet another Indian double barrel drum.
  • Other Music is a good small record store. I liked their selection and the people working there seemed pretty knowledgeable.

I ate so much food. Where to start:

  • Hallo Berlin is still really good for sausage and fine beer.
  • Patsy’s Pizza might have drugs in the slices they’re so good.
  • Horace and Dickie’s is a fish and chips/ chicken shack that serves ridiculous portions for next to nothing around the corner from the Red and the Black (see below). I liked my crab cake sandwich ($4.80!) and their sweet potato pie was delicious.
  • Three brunches in two days: because vacation is for overeating.

Pure ridiculousness:

  • At a sports bar in DC on Sunday night, two guys were watching the PGA Chamionship. They were more into the sport than anyone I’ve ever seen. Our dinner was oft-interrupted by cheers or jeers. One of my favorite moments was near the end of the event: “FUCK! FUCK YOU, SERGIO!”
  • On the 6 line in NYC, a 30-something black woman got on at one stop and proceeded to preach Jesus (in a pretty compelling and rousing style) for one stop. Then she sat down and read a book.
  • While my friend and his girlfriend were disagreeing about something, I asked them if they were fighting. They responded that if they were fighting they would be yelling into each other’s mouths. They then proceeded to demonstrate: they opened their mouths wide, locked them together and proceeded to scream. I fell off my chair laughing.

Okay. That was the trip. Or some of it, at least.

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