Category Archives: Music

All the games I went to and didn’t blog


I’ve been a terrible blogger.  There have been 9 games that I’ve been to since last September that I didn’t blog, not including the two in the last two days, which will get proper blog posts.  Luckily, they’re all in the score book, so I’ll just run them down here for my own record keeping, even though I’m sure you don’t care.  (“You” being… my dad?  People who haven’t migrated from Google Reader yet?)  But if you read all the way to the end, you can hear me play clarinet on KQED, in a bonus thing-I-should-have-blogged-but-didn’t.

  • September 2, 2012 – Kansas City Royals 5, Cleveland Indians 3 at Kauffman Stadium: I flew in for the weekend to visit Jenn and knock off a stadium before she tentatively left after med school.  (Now that it’s the future, it turns out she’s staying in KC for residency, but I didn’t know that then.  Regardless, visiting was good.)  Kansas City is a great baseball town — I highly recommend the Negro League Museum.  Within Kauffman Stadium, there was a nice Royals museum and video that covered the history of baseball in Kansas City from the Monarchs to the Athletics to the current team.  They didn’t mention this George Brett story, but that is what the Internet is for (NSFW).  It was free blanket night and the blanket is currently living in my closet.  Apparently Cord Phelps hit a two run homerun for Cleveland in the 5th to tie the game, but the Royals came back in the bottom of the inning to score three more runs.
  • September 18, 2012 – San Francisco Giants 5, Colorado Rockies 3 at AT&T Park: I honestly don’t remember being at this game, but it was a Tuesday night game and Michael Cuddyer was in town, so I probably popped over after work wearing my Cuddyer Twins jersey.  Except that Cuddy didn’t get any playing time, it seems.  I made a note that Angel Pagan hit his 14th triple of the season in the 8th inning, which set the SF Giants record.  George Davis had 27 in 1893 and Willie Mays has the modern day franchise record of 20, but that was all in New York
  • September 27, 2012 – San Francisco Giants 7, Arizona Diamondbacks 3 at AT&T Park: I don’t remember going to this game either.  The note says it was the last home game of the regular season.  It was an afternoon game, so I probably played hooky from work.  The Giants had their big inning in the 2nd, scoring 6 runs with homeruns from Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro and an RBI double from Hector Sanchez.  Even Barry Zito got in on the act with a single (and pitched 6 innings, giving up 3 earned runs with 3 Ks and 3 walks.)  There’s also a note that this is the game where a guy was trying to show off his baseball knowledge to me and tell me what a shame it was that Kirby Puckett wasn’t in the Hall of Fame.  When I corrected him on that, he then tried to save face by telling me that it was a posthumous induction.  I had to correct him again, pointing out that I was actually at the induction ceremony and I was pretty sure it wasn’t a ghost talking.  Yeah, I remember being at this game now — these are not good ways to hit on a Twins fan, gentlemen.
  • September 30, 2012 – Oakland Athletics 5, Seattle Mariners 2 at Coliseum: There’s a giant mustard stain on the page for this game.  I must have eaten a hot dog.  This was in the midst of Oakland’s incredible end of the season run that eventually won them the AL West.  The game was tied at two from the 3rd inning until the bottom of the 8th when both Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick went deep for A’s, sandwiched around a Brandon Moss single.
  • October 3, 2012 – Oakland Athletics 12, Texas Rangers 5 at Coliseum: I blogged this game and it was awesome.
  • October 9, 2012 – Oakland Athletics 2, Detroit Tigers 0 at Coliseum (ALDS Game 3): I blogged this one too.
  • October 10, 2012 – A’s 4, Tigers 3 (ALDS Game 4): I can’t believe I didn’t blog this game — it was amazing!  (I recall racing to the airport to get to Ben and Caroline’s wedding in Philadelphia after this game.)  The A’s went down early, helped by a Prince Fielder homerun.  I remember that the energy amongst A’s fans was incredible and we were all sort of resigned that the Tigers were going to win the game (and thus the series) going into the 9th when the A’s were down 3-1.  But Oakland 9th inning heroics were the story of last season and this game was no exception.  Valverde came in to get the save, but instead started with two consecutive singles to Reddick and Donaldson, followed by a two run Seth Smith double to tie it up.  The stadium was electric!  Kottaras popped up to third and Pennington struck out and suddenly there were two outs, but it was a tie game with Coco Crisp at the plate.  On the very first pitch, he lined a single to center, which scored Smith… and I marked with four exclamation marks in the scorebook!!!!  The A’s won!!!!  Game 5 (which they would lose to Justin Verlander)!!!!
  • October 24, 2012 – San Francisco Giants 8, Detroit Tigers 3  at AT&T Park (World Series Game 1): I blogged this game, which Justin Verlander lost.
  • January 18-21, 2013 – The MIT Mystery Hunt: [The complete text of Atlas Shrugged] 1 coin, Other teams 0: This is not a baseball game, but it’s something I usually blog.  We actually won the Mystery Hunt this year.  It was long, I didn’t get nearly enough sleep, the only baseball puzzle was about the president’s race at the Nationals games, and now I’m in charge of writing next year’s hunt.  (Which I’d like to use an excuse for not blogging, but this was obviously an issue well before my free time became nothing but writing and editing puzzles.)
  • March 18, 2013 – Dominican Rep. 4, Netherlands 1 at AT&T Park (WBC semi-final): San Francisco hosted the World Baseball Classic this year… and tickets were very easy to come by off of StubHub, so I took in a game with my friend Paul.  The stadium was nearly empty and everyone booed whenever Hanley Ramirez (the hated Dodger) came to bat for DR.  Paul, a Dodger fan, loved it.
  • March 19, 2013 – Dominican Rep. 3, Puerto Rico 0 at AT&T Park (WBC final): I said WBC tickets were cheap and easy to come by?  I got this one for free!  I volunteered to help with the pre-game ceremony in exchange for a ticket.  (I’m the dot on the lower left of the Canadian flag.)  I couldn’t actually stay for the whole game, because I had a rehearsal that night,* but the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans were really into the game.  “This is the Giants-Dodgers rivalry of the Caribbean,” one Puerto Rican fan told me.  Samuel Deduno pitched a stellar game — which seemed great, given that he’s a Twins player.  But then he injured himself, so that was less great for Twins fans.
  • March 28, 2013 – Oakland Athletics 7, San Francisco Giants 3 at AT&T Park (Exhibition): A pre-season exhibition Bay Bridge series game.  The Giants gave away random grab bags of leftover giveaways from last season.  (Remember how I stood in line last season to get the Brian Wilson gnome?  Now I have two.)  It was pre-season, so there were player substitutions left and right and the scorebook is a mess, but the A’s more or less owned the Giants in this game.
  • April 12, 2013 – Detroit Tigers 7, Oakland Athletics 3 at Coliseum: It was Justin Verlander day and 2012 Western Division Champion blanket giveaway day.  So obviously I went.  JV wasn’t as dominant as I’ve come to expect, but 6 innings, 1 ER, 3 hits, 3 walks, and 6 Ks is nothing to sneeze at.  Also, Prince Fielder is a monster — he hit a bomb to deep center field in the 4th that must have been long because I drew it going outside the box for his at bat.   The other half of the Tigers offensive double threat, Miguel Cabrera, went hitless on the day.  Also, it’s incredibly weird to see Torii Hunter in a Tigers uniform, but I stood up and cheered for him when he hit a solo homerun to left in the 2nd inning.
  • May 21 and 22, 2013 – Minnesota at Atlanta: I’m not horribly delinquent on these.  They’re getting their own posts (with pictures!) shortly.  But I just want to emphasize that I really, truly despise the Tomahawk Chop.  There will be more on this.

* Other thing I didn’t blog: I was in a workshop band performing selections from Beck’s Song Reader.  We were featured on KQED.  That is my clarinet solo you hear.  I’ve been asked to make an official studio recording in July.  Baseball related thing: You can hear Amal yell “Kirby Puckett!” at the beginning of Old Shanghai, letting me know that he made it to the gig  just in time.


Happy Birthday, Mom!


My mother at her birthday lunch on Saturday... I don't really know what's going on this picture either.

There is one reader of this blog who dutifully checks in every morning, whether there’s a new post or not.  Now, this could be because she doesn’t know about RSS or that she could sign-up to get an e-mail every time I post something.  (Really, it’s an option when you leave a comment.)  But it could also be because she’s my mother and she loves me and kind of likes to stalk me.  And because today is her birthday, and I know she’s going to read this first thing in the morning…  Happy Birthday, Mom!  I love you!

Beyond just giving her her own blog post with accompanying bizarre picture courtesy of my sister, I recorded a CD’s worth of songs this weekend that, if my dad did his job right, accompanied her on her way to work today. And because some of them were songs that only a mother could love, I’ll spare the rest of you the whole list and just give you my two favorite tracks.  (Not including the Muppet track I posted three months ago.)

First up is a parody of “When I’m 64” rewritten as “Now You’re 59.”  I fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine and took the original Beatles score and taught myself all the clarinet parts.  The original turns out to be a horrible key for me to sing in, but I didn’t figure that out until after I had recorded the clarinet and piano parts and I wasn’t going to re-record them.

Second, and much more pleasant, is me singing four-part harmony with myself accompanied by my ukulele to cover Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s “Teach Your Children.”  I have half a mind to go spend a bunch of money on a good microphone to make this one sound even better… and fix the rhythm problem in the middle.  For Mom: “Just look at me and sigh… and know I love you.”

Dreams (of being a rock star… again)


Brandi Carlile played in San Francisco last night, but I didn’t go see her because I had my own gig to play at.  (On the other hand, I did see her in St. Paul over Thanksgiving.)  Instead, tonight my second Blue Bear band, Sleigher*, covered Brandi’s song “Dreams” which once again Dave recorded for me.  I have a cold and was a little worried about the high note in the second and third choruses, but I think I hit it.  I did, however, go all out doing so and cracked at the very end.  As a result, I think Oh Darling! was better (and the audio of the recording was certainly better… don’t get me started on my messed up monitor), but this one isn’t bad.  The video is better — it being my fancy camera and all.  Plus, I got to cover Brandi Carlile this time and she’s kind of my hero.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go drink a bunch of tea and honey.

* Get it?  Sleigh?  ‘Cause we’re a Christmas rock band… or something.  We did cover “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” but that came directly after “Dreams” to close the set and my voice sounds pretty ragged on it, and not in a good rock and roll way.  So no Christmas tune for you, even though we did look kind of fun in our Santa and elf hats.

Oh my wordy, look who’s… in total denial


Yep, kind of a big day.  I could be all depressed about turning 30, but that’s pretty impossible with how I spent the last few hours of my 20s.  (And I’m pretty sure my roommate thinks I’m insane.)  Last Saturday, my family went to the movies as kind of an annual post-Thanksgiving tradition, and this year we saw The Muppets.  If you want two hours of pleasant Muppet nostalgia that will have you laughing at fart shoes and spotting lots of random celebrity cameos (James Carville, really?) this is the movie for you.  Also, after the first few lines of the opening number, “Life’s a Happy Song,” I was convinced that it would be perfect for the ukulele.  However, as I didn’t have either of my ukes with me in Minnesota, I had to wait until I got back to San Francisco to test that theory.

Is it perfect?  I don’t know, but it kept me in a pretty good mood during the last few hours of my 20s, even if there wasn’t actually anyone by my side to sing along.  However, there’s a lot of words so I wound up recording the uke track (on my Lanikai LU-6) and the vocal track separately (in the bathroom!) and it shows at certain points.

If you’re not impressed with my version, check out Kermit and Bret McKenzie, of Flight of the Conchords fame.  I dare you to try and be in a bad mood after watching this video, even if you are turning 30.

Oh Darling! (or, I pretend to be a rockstar for an evening)


Since July, I’ve been going once a week to rehearse in a Blues band workshop through Blue Bear Music School in San Francisco.  As I’ve discovered, Blue Bear is one of these very San Franciscan things.  For the workshops, if you can show basic proficiency in an instrument, you sign up and they put you in a band with two guitars, a bass, a drummer, a keyboardist, and two vocalists. (If you’re me, you manage to play both vocals and keyboard.)  At the end of the session, the have a “showcase” of all the workshop bands at a local club.  Our band was called Blues Frog, named as an homage to Sad Kermit, who you should all go check out on YouTube.  As you may have figured out by now, our showcase was tonight at Cafe Du Nord.  There were even a few people in the audience we didn’t invite.  (Not that many… Monday’s a tough night to fill a club.)  Dave, who I did invite, was kind enough to record a song for me on my crappy camera… please enjoy as we attempt not to embarrass ourselves by covering the greatest band of all time.  I’m speaking of the Beatles, of course, and the song is Oh Darling!

Amal managed to give me the best compliment of the night: Value for dollar, we were better than Madonna.  (And there was a cover, so it’s not like it was nothing.)

Also, holy crap, that’s what I sound like?  I don’t sound like that in my head.

That concert atmosphere


While I was home, my dad and I went to see Stevie Nicks live at Mystic Lake in their outdoor amphitheater.  (Incidentally, my ticket was supposed to be for my mom, but I took when my mother failed to name three Stevie Nicks songs… actually, she failed to name even one.)  Before the concert started, when we were sitting in our seats, my dad announced that he knew his youth was over.  “How?” I asked.

He took a big inhale through his nose.  “Smell that?” he asked.

I smelled the air.  “No… I don’t smell anything but maybe a freshly mowed lawn.”

“Exactly,” he said, “I’m at an outdoor Stevie Nicks concert and the only grass I smell is the lawn.  My youth is over.”

Now, fast forward to tonight…

Brandi Carlile was opening for Ray LaMontagne at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, an outdoor amphitheater.  I wasn’t originally going to go, because while I’m a fan of Brandi’s, I’d only heard two Ray LaMontagne songs and all the good seats were sold out anyhow.  But this afternoon I found a seat dead center in the fourth row for face value on craigslist, so at the list minute I arranged to meet some strangers from LA whose friend had canceled on them and buy their spare ticket.

Brandi was great… played some new stuff which seems to be leaning more country than her old stuff.  Then Ray came on… and well, things got aromatic.  And it wasn’t just me who started smelling things.  After two or three songs, Ray started to talk and introduce the band, but quickly just started laughing, “Sorry, Berkeley, but all I can smell is your pot.”

So there you are, Dad.  Your youth might be over, but it’s alive and kicking in Berkeley.

And despite not knowing much about him past the two songs Pandora keeps playing for me, I’m now a definite fan of Ray LaMontagne.  In particular, I have new favorite song of the moment: Like Rock and Roll & Radio.  He played it as his final encore and I liked it so much I bought his new album.

Congratulations, Sarah and John!


I’m back in my old stomping grounds of Ann Arbor for the weekend, to celebrate the wedding of Sarah B and John.  The wedding was de-lovely; held at a farm outside of town with an outdoor ceremony, tented reception (just in time for the rain), and dance in a barn with a jazz band.

Also, there were puzzles provided by yours truly.  If you’d like to try your hand at them, they can be found here:

No knowledge of the bride and groom is required…

But back to the band… I heard them warming up, playing strands of De-lovely by Cole Porter, which I once arranged for SSAA and sang A2 on.  (I also knew it was the wedding song as I wrote a puzzle around it.)  So, I walked over and chatted with them for a bit where I learned that the Easy Street Jazz Band has been playing continuously as a band in some version or another for 40+ years and they were even nominated for a grammy in the early 80s, playing with Bonnie Raitt.  And they learned that I have some singing experience, especially with De-Lovely.

After that, I had a brief chat with the bride and groom, and the next thing I knew, I was on for singing with the band during the bride and groom’s first dance, entirely unrehearsed and completely sight-reading the second bonus verse written just for the wedding.  The key was a touch high, but I managed.  I got a few compliments — the biggest of all probably being from a friend who didn’t realize it was me and had just figured that the band had a vocalist.  Later I went back and sang Blue Skies in a key a bit more fitting for me.  It was a hoot… and the band leader actually asked if I live in Ann Arbor and wanted to come out to their regular Tuesday gig.  I’m a little sad that I don’t — that band is phenomenal!

So, thank you to John and Sarah for allowing me to indulge in one of my fantasies (just jumping in with a band like that) and for letting me be part of your wonderful day and your de-lovely moment.  Congratulations on a wedding I’ve seen coming for years and best wishes on what is sure to be a long and happy marriage!

The Time of Your Life


The server hosting this blog seemed to be down over the weekend, so this is the delayed updated from the Bay Area portion of my trip. Coming soon are my first impressions of Target Field…
I was hanging out with Amal, lalopez, Breath, and Resa in Half Moon Bay last Saturday and we decided to get some ice cream at M Coffee. By the time we got our orders, the place had officially closed and turned into a birthday party for one of the local musicians and her friends. They had a performance space set up and asked who wanted to play first.
Amal volunteered.
It confused nearly everyone in the place as they whispered amongst themselves to figure out who knew him and how he got there. But someone lent him a guitar, plugged him in, and the rest was history…

He didn’t suck.
The local musicians of Half Moon Bay remain confused as to who this mysterious stranger was.

Things I didn’t blog about this month


I will attempt to make up for more than month of blogging by trying to summarize things I would have blogged about had I remembered to.

  • Hockey at Fenway — Courtesy of Jeff Roberts, I got a ticket to see college ice hockey at Fenway Park. Unfortunately, Sheeva was coming in for a visit that night so I couldn’t stay to see the much touted BU vs. BC (men’s) matchup. Instead, I got to see UNH vs. Northeastern women’s teams play. And it turns out that not only is my sister right and women’s hockey is just not as interesting as men’s,* but the way they set up the ice at Fenway was to run it diagonal across the infield from first to third. As a results, there were literally no good seats as the only ones anywhere near the rink where near the ends and no one sat at center ice.
  • Mystery Hunt — This really deserves it’s own lengthy post, but I’m never going to get around it. That being said, much fun was had despite the fact that I lost my voice to the point that Sunday morning I was Skype chatting to people sitting next to me because it was easier and less painful than trying to talk. While going to sleep was probably the healthy option for me at that point, there were too many people around who aren’t normally and I figured I’d sleep when they left. And oh, did I! There were a number of puzzles I enjoyed, but the one best suited for a blog post was Peek Yrrej Tuo. Our task on this puzzle was to remake the Godfather without saying the title of the movie. (I misinterpreted that rule and made a silent film.) Initially a group of undergrads were set to make it on their own. However, when I went to check on them, it turned out none of them had actually seen the movie and they were basing it on things they had read on wikipedia. This was taking too long, so I jumped in to direct and made the masterpiece embedded below.
  • Cheese and Biscuits — I taught myself how to make cheese from a Minnesota State Fair recipe. It was kind of like cream cheese and I infused it with garlic and chives. When I was finished, I wound up with a bunch of leftover whey. From this, I made a ridiculous amount of biscuits: first a batch for a potluck and then multiple batches for an impromptu biscuit party I threw when Breath was in town unannounced. No one who has had the cheese has died and everyone loved the biscuits, so I call it a success.
  • The Vikings choking in the NFC Championship game — Actually, I don’t want to talk about this.
  • Brandi Carlile — I just got back from Portsmouth, NH where I saw Brandi Carlile sing for the second time in the past year. It was a sold out show, but I managed to grab a ticket from someone on Craigslist this morning. And it was an amazing show and so worth the hour drive. If her voice doesn’t give you chills, something is wrong with you. (I actually much prefer the live arrangement of “Oh Dear” with five voices and a ukulele instead of the more fully orchestrated version on the album.) In my fantasy life in which I became a singer instead of a scientist/engineer sort, I sound like her. After the show, I waited around and got her autograph and we even talked about the State Fair ever so briefly! Oh, and the opening act, Katie Herzig, was pretty good too.

Now, without further ado, “The Internet” presents The Godfather starring Harrison Bralower as Marlon Brando, directed by me (as you can hear at various points):

* It’s the no-checking rule.

A Beatle at a Ballpark


Holy crap.
I don’t care how awesome you think your Thursday night was — mine was more awesome. In fact, pick your best Thursday night ever and mine still beats it. Ask any one who knows me even a little what my two biggest obsessions are and they will tell you they are baseball and The Beatles. Somewhere I even have a 7th grade art assignment reflecting this. So, Paul McCartney at Fenway Park with a two and a half hour Beatle-heavy* set? Pretty much the most awesome thing ever. *(20 of 33 songs were Beatles, 6 were Wings, and only 2 were from his latest album. The man knows why people come to see him.)
A loud rocking and rolling shout out to Chris Morse for the ticket — who knew that Red Sox season tickets get you first dibs on rock concerts too?
Oh, and the drummer was amazing. Not only could he play the skins, but he provided some great backing harmonies too. Actually, the whole band was pretty great.
And finally, the full set list with any notes I remember about them…

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