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.


oh yeah, people read this

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:37 am

Running into the rad Tarky on Monday reminded me that people read this and that there’s been a lot that’s happened since I really updated.


  • I live in one now, having moved in last week. It’s a 1 bedroom in an old building. I found a promotional book about it written in 1899. I believe the building is on the National Registry of Historic Places.


  • I wear jeans now. Weird, right?

Some things I like about Boston:

  • Friends. I have them here.
  • Beer bars. There are some great ones. The bar across the street (warning: link has autoplay music) has 31 beers on tap.
  • Walking. I walked over five miles yesterday just running errands. And I can walk around at night.


  • Since I got back to the US America, my route has been something like: Charlotte->DC->Philadelphia[1]->DC->Charlotte->Boston->New Hampshire->Boston->Philadelphia->New York City->Boston->New Orleans->Boston->Charlotte->Boston (via Philadelphia and New Haven)
  • I went to New Orleans for Gumbeaux’s wedding. It was a grand time. The wedding and the reception were in an old jazz hall. Fantastic food, good people, the whole lot. I wore my new suit (see below) and read Seamus Heaney’s “Scaffolding” at the request of the couple.
  • wedding suit

rural alberta advantage @ the middle east

  • Rural Alberta Advantage @ the Middle East 3/9–It was really great to see these guys again. They put on a super energetic set of their trademark earnest fuzz-folk. This is the sort of show that reminds me why I like live music.
  • Amiina @ the Middle East 3/19–Sigur Ros’ string section has their own band, called Amiina. They make really pretty music in their own right. The only problem was there was a loud show going on either at the Middle East Upstairs or TT’s so it disrupted the quiet music Downstairs a bit.
  • Matt Pond PA @ the Middle East 3/20–I hadn’t seen this band in 8 years but I went because my friend Shawn now plays cello in the band. And they were really great. Great mix. Great song selection. Just a show I was really glad to be at overall. And it’s also a thrill to see your friend play all these songs you know and love.


  • Blood Sweat and Chalk by Tim Layden — Basically a book about the development of modern football strategy. I haven’t read many books about football but I really thought this one was interesting. Chapters cover things like Cover 2 and Zone Blitz and really explains both how they work and how they came about. A worthwhile read for anyone who spends a lot of their time in the fall watching football on TV.
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen — Time’s “Great American Novelist” has gotten quite a lot of hype about this book. I liked Corrections so I wanted to read this one. It’s a very good book. Very good character development and it weaves together many different stories without making any of them seem superfluous. I wouldn’t call it amazing, but it’s worth a read.
  • I’m now reading Garry Wills’ Lincoln at Gettysburg and Junot Diaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Both are good so far.


  • True Grit — A very well put together film. I loved the acting, particularly by Jeff Bridge and Hailee Steinfeld.
  • Social Network — I finally saw it. Very interesting film. I know it’s not exactly true, but still gives some insight into how the whole thing came about.

[1] Philadelphia and Wilmington, DE in most cases


three day weekend

Filed under: — adrian @ 1:54 pm

When you’re not working, any weekend can be a three day weekend[1]. I decided this would be in–Saturday through Monday. It was a good one. Really good.

three girls in Khayelitsha


Saturday I did not expect. A friend of a friend asked me to help with a podcast that she helps with at a school in Khayelitsha. (She wanted my help because of all my experience in radio.) I helped with it; that was pretty good but rather straight forward. Then, it turns out, one students’ mom was performing a sangoma ceremony so we went as unannounced (but invited) guests. I’d been to a sangoma ceremony before on a township tour, but that this was genuine–that it was not done for tourists was special. Twenty, thirty people packed into a tiny house watching, singing, clapping, dancing during the ceremony.

After that, a kid of my parents’ friends was having a birthday party and I went. I met some cool people, chatted, had a couple drinks and some good food. I may have someone to watch some NFL with and some other people to play pub trivia with now, so that’s good.

Cape Town CBD plus Green Point (stadium, in construction, at left)


Sunday was clear–crystal clear blue skies–and warm for the first time in a while, so that meant going up Table Mountain by foot. After parking mid-morning, it was a beautiful but strenuous hike up. It’s just about straight up for 3km straight. There are more stairs (made of rocks) than switchbacks and it’s step after step, one foot in front of the others. At the top it was gorgeous, as always, but I think some of the best parts are on the hike up. I meant to take the cable way down, but the high winds forced its closure for the day, so hiking back down was the option and that’s what I did. I still ache…

the Atlantic plus wildflowers


Monday I went to the Postberg peninsula in the West Coast National Park[2] to see the wild flowers. The trip up there was wonderful: the R27–the West Coast Road as they call it–goes from city to nothing very quickly. It’s a dead straight shot with no buildings and nothing but plains and a glimpse of the ocean for most of it.

The national park itself is fairly plain, but it has nice unspoiled beaches and lagoons. The peninsula was filled abundantly with wildflowers of yellows, whites, oranges and purples. It was really beautiful and worth the day trip.

I didn’t really plan for a three day weekend or really any of this, but that’s how it turned out. Pretty nice, I have to say.

[1] It could be argued that it’s always the weekend in such cases, but I feel like that would require always doing weekend activities.

[2] Can you believe I got a card that will get me into every national park for a year for ~$30?? Ridiculous!


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.


finally, sxsw

Filed under: — adrian @ 8:42 pm

Two Sheds @ Beauty Bar

A few weeks ago I went to SxSW and saw 46 bands and 23 shows in 4 days. I recaped it at my music blog but I got a number of questions about what the highlights were, so here’s some of that.

Top five shows:

  1. the Rural Alberta Advantage @ Central Presbyterian Church
  2. the Wooden Birds @ Okay Mountain
  3. the Avett Brothers, the Wrens @ Radio Room
  4. Fanfarlo @ Central Presbyterian
  5. Tallest Man on Earth @ Red 7

Band that most changed my opinion about them: Mumford & Sons (I went from being blah to liking them)

Local band that I liked most: Two Sheds

Any questions?


bacon + sausage, white house style, sxsw and motown

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:10 pm

Some people took sausage and wrapped it in bacon and slathered it in bbq sauce. Does anyone really need to ask why this has gotten some attention?

I found this article about transitioning White House style interesting.

It has fun quotes, like:

In the West Wing, Mr. Obama is a bit of a wanderer. When Mr. Bush wanted to see a member of his staff, the aide was summoned to the Oval Office. But Mr. Obama tends to roam the halls; one day last week, he turned up in the office of his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, who was in the unfortunate position of having his feet up on the desk when the boss walked in.

I’m once again heading to SxSW, which happens in a month and change. The preliminary list of bands is dizzying. I’m looking forward to it, though.

It’s Motown’s 50th anniversary this month. Popmatters put together a good list of their 25 top singles. It includes a streaming music player. On my other blog, I put together my favorite Motown songs from 1959, their first year.


round the water San Francisco ride

Filed under: — adrian @ 9:29 pm

View Larger Map

I did my first long bike ride in a while yesterday and certainly my first new route in a long time. It mostly hugged the water around the bay and coast of San Francisco. It was based on the SF Chronicle’s “Outer Limits” ride. It ended up being about 27 miles.

It was a gorgeous day yesterday. Warm, but not hot, clear, even out by Ocean Beach, and there were some gorgeous views throughout. I also went through a number of parts of San Francisco that I’ve never seen before: the Presidio, Seacliff, Land’s End, Lake Merced and parts of the Marina.

I also missed some turns, went the wrong way and blew a tire (while riding without a spare for the first time I can remember) and so I almost got stuck out on the Great Highway (among all those ghosts). It’ll be better next time.


music music

Filed under: — adrian @ 2:08 pm

I posted my best of 2008 list yesterday over at the music blog. Executive summary:

  1. Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago
  2. J Tillman Minor Works
  3. the Rural Alberta Advantage Hometowns
  4. Horse Feathers House with No Home
  5. Two Sheds Two Sheds EP [EP]
  6. James Hunter The Hard Way
  7. Joe Pug Nation of Heat [EP]
  8. Silian Rail And I You, to Pieces
  9. Johnny Flynn A Larum
  10. the Dodos Visiter
  11. Raphael Saadiq The Way I See It

More description and mp3s over at the music blog.

I’ve also posted my best concerts of 2008.

My Blackdrop Portraits series has reached 22 photos of musicians. Here’s one of Justin Ringle of Horse Feathers

justin of horse feathers
Justin of Horse Feathers by Adrian Bischoff


three scenes from San Diego

Filed under: — adrian @ 9:46 pm

1. Coronado, a beach near the Hotel Del. Mid-afternoon. Walking across that area of sand that’s firm because water has run over it recently and dipping my fingers into the chilly Pacific and pondering aloud if the military planes roaring overhead on their way to the base were Harriers. I don’t think they are.

2. A bar in South Park. Night time. Between local bands giving it their all on a small stage in the dark club and packed in among the local young hipster population, discussing merits of a variety of many recent bands on the scene with a new friend.

3. Balboa Park, near the Moreton Bay Fig. Late afternoon. Lying on my back on the slightly damp grass, staring up at the deeply saturated sky, talking about finances and how it’s strange to be an adult with an old friend.


back from “south by”

Filed under: — adrian @ 9:20 pm

I just got back from “South by” as some (silly) people call it.

I saw around 38 bands in 5 days. It was pretty crazy. Some amazing stuff (like J Tillman (listen in, Tarky!), Two Sheds, and Fanfarlo) and some not so great stuff, but overall I was pretty thrilled with the stuff I saw.

But it got me thinking about music. I mean, even moreso than normal. After all, I had five days to basically only think about music. Here are some thoughts:

  • label: seeing so many great bands that are unsigned or not signed in America got me thinking that maybe I should start a label. I don’t know the second thing about starting a label, though–I know the first thing, the first thing is that it’s a time and money sink–so I’ll need to talk to some people and get a better idea of what’s involved if I’m serious about it.
  • self: I want to start recording and playing more music. I was even thinking about trying to get enough tracks together for a demo and maybe try to play a show sometimes. I don’t know what instrument I’d use. Maybe Wurly or banjo? I’m not sure. I need to get better at instruments as well.
  • self, pt 2: I think I ought to get decent at trumpet again and ply my trade to the bands of SF to play for them.
  • blog: I spend a whole lot of time on that thing. Is it worth it?
  • presents: I should present more shows, I think. I was even thinking it’d be cool to be involved in a party/ showcase at SxSW next year. I’ll need to talk to some people about how to go about this.



Filed under: — adrian @ 11:07 pm

I’m in Austin for SxSW. You can follow along at my other blog or my other blog’s corresponding twitter feed.

David Bazan recommended some nachos to me tonight. This is the sort of life I lead.


taiwan debrief

Number of days: 112

Number of days or parts thereof spent traveling: 47 (3 to/ from, 7 intra-Taiwan (3 Kaohsiung, 2 Taroko, 2 Kinmen), 37 intra-Asia (7 Indonesia, 5 Thailand; 15 Hong Kong, Macau, China; 10 Japan)

Number of countries visited (since moving): 6 (Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Japan, U.S.) + 2 special administrative regions with separate border controls (Hong Kong, Macau)

Number of countries visited (year to date): 8 (above + South Africa, Swaziland) + 2 S.A.R.s

Number of flights (since moving): 14 (SFO-> TPE-> CKG-> DPS-> CKG-> TPE-> BKK-> TPE-> HKG-> TPE-> NRT-> TPE, TSA-> KNH-> TSA, TPE-> SFO)

Number of flights (2007): 31 (SFO-> CVG-> IAD-> JNB, DUR-> CPT-> JNB-> JFK, BOS-> JFK-> SFO-> BOS-> DFW-> SFO-> HNL-> LIH-> HNL-> SFO + above + SFO-> CLT-> DCA)

Miles flown (since moving): 27,406 miles (44,106 km)

Miles flown (2007): 63,569 miles (102,304 km)

Number of high speed train journeys: 4 (Taipei->Kaohsiung->Taipei, Tokyo->Kyoto->Tokyo)

Number of train journeys: 6 (above + Taipei->Hualien->Taipei)

Approximate number of km ridden on scooters: 225

Best hotel (overall): Kamandalu Resort, Ubud, Bali. A connection to the cousin of the owner opened the door for staying in this swanky place. Gorgeous surroundings and really nice rooms. Private verandas looking over rice paddies. The service was also excellent. We went out riding bikes around the rice paddies one day and came back sweating. Pretty soon after we entered the lobby we had cool moist towels to wipe our faces with. Perhaps the only nicer place I’ve stayed is the ridiculous Schlosshotel Veir Jahrezeiten (Four Seasons Palace Hotel) in Berlin. (They had a Ferrari convention while we were there and it didn’t seem out of place.)

Best hotel (value): Hirano Guesthouse, Kyoto. 3500 yen a night in Kyoto is very cheap and besides a nice place to stay, the owner was very friendly, helpful and accommodating, making us tea when we came home for a break in the afternoons. She also made us breakfast every morning, let us use her bicycles and computer/ internet. Oh and there was a candy bowl and after we ate an unreasonable amount of it, she didn’t complain, she just refilled it.

Number of American chain stores patronized (not counting convenience stores, exact): 3 (2 Subways-Taipei, 1 Denny’s-Kyoto)

Number of American chain stores patronized (counting convenience stores[1], approximate): 22.2 (the above + Circle K‘s in Taiwan, Bali, Thailand, ampm‘s in Japan, plus 0.2 for a Mister Donut in Japan[2])

Oddest food obsession: Harbo’s Happy Cola gummy candies

Most common food eaten: rice (~ >1.5 servings a day)

Most common food product eaten: Kinder Chocolate (~ 0.6 a day)

Most “exotic” foods eaten: crickets, silk worms, frog

Number of Dr. Peppers consumed: 2 (one in Japan, one in Thailand)

Foods most missed: good bread, good cheese, Dr. Pepper, good beef, shelled shrimp, deboned fish.

Number of Hello Kitty products seen: in the thousands

Number of Hello Kitty products purchased: 1 (alarm clock, convenience store, Japan)

America: so quiet, so dark, so many English speakers, so many whites/ latinos/as, blacks. big supermarkets. low population density.

Least useful piece of clothing: dress shirt (the greenish one, never worn, given away at the end)

Most useful piece of clothing: shoes (the brown Adidas, nearly daily)

Most useful piece of clothing out of its original purpose (and new use): board shorts-style swimsuit (exercise shorts)

Piece of clothing I most immediately realized I’d forgotten: navy blue cotton boxers (that I use as warm weather pajama bottoms)

Number of books read: 5.75 (2nd 0.5 of Slow Man by Coeztee, Love is a Mixtape by Sheffield, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: a Story of the Hip Hop Generation by Chang, Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Klosterman, Born on a Blue Day By Tammet, You Don’t Love Me Yet by Lethem, first 0.25 of About a Boy by Hornsby)

Number of concerts attended: 3 (Emily the Band @ Underworld, Apples in Stereo @ the Wall, Sugar Plum Ferry @ the Wall)

Number of CDs purchased: 19 (5 in Hong Kong (Monitor), 5 @ WWR (1st trip), 5 @ WWR (2nd trip), 2 @ IMPO, 1 @ FINAC, 1 @ Roses(?))

Number of pieces of mail received: 6 (3 packages of promo CD(s); 1 each from Ian, Lauren, Gumbeaux)

[1] This is tricky because things are confusing. 7-11 is Japanese for instance.

[2] Mr. Donut is an American brand but the Asian stores are run by Duskin Co out of Japan under a licensing agreement.

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