Six Samurai go for a Murphy’s.

Posted in Opinion on March 30th, 2014 by byronkho

The best beer commercial ever. Somewhere in Ireland… Six Samurai go for a Murphy’s.


C&H as Adults?

Posted in Opinion on March 30th, 2014 by byronkho


Dan & Tom Heyerman & Hazel Mae Donovan do Hobbes & Bacon.

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On Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea.

Posted in Opinion on March 28th, 2014 by byronkho

As much as I love Bioshock 1/2/Infinite, the Burial at Sea DLC and the character of Anna/Elizabeth, the establishment within this particular game universe of the many-worlds theory makes anything that happens kind of underwhelming. If Elizabeth has “seen behind every door” (thus knows what will happen in any reality she happens to be in) and can step from one plane to another via tears/Lutece devices/whathaveyou, then what is the purpose of doing anything in a reality where she is doomed to fail (ie. Episode 2)? As the player, I would ask that – and projected into the character, I’d also be asking that. It should be: “hmm, I already know I’m gonna fail so I might as well just stop here and jump to a reality where a) I save Sally and the other Little Sisters, and b) I don’t die.” So that, you know, my actions mean something to someone? But no, instead Elizabeth goes to a reality where she loses her powers, ends up dead and Sally gets taken anyways. Whoops.

I admire the writers for making a game trilogy that can inspire so much discussion and where it’s actually a tough mental exercise to consolidate the plot mechanics into one central unified theory (I’m sure it can be done!). Just try flow-charting it, I dare you. Don’t get me wrong: I actually did like the multiverse reveal. It made Bioshock Infinite a really resonant game… but only on its own. For the series, however? As soon as I saw that I was like: “uh oh, we’re not going to have an emotionally solid resolution to this series that ties up both Rapture and Columbia and has us genuinely involved in the fates of all of our characters.” ’twas a fun trip, though.

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Russian folk dirges in the street.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28th, 2014 by byronkho

Wish I’d been there for this last night at the Arden! There’s a fire scene towards the end of the Chekhov play Three Sisters and lo! the fire alarm coincidentally goes off in the middle of it, TWO times. (Phantom of the Arden, no need to be so heavyhanded with the dramatic underlining.) So tromp tromp tromp to the street and might as well finish the rest of the show right there on the sidewalk. So here they are singing an actual Russian folk tune that appears in the show. Of course for Russians, a song basically saying “heyyyyy girl” STILL sounds like a funeral dirge.

“A snow whirl is rushing along the street
and through the snow whirl there goes a beautiful girl.
You, stand still, please stand still, my beautiful girl,
my joy, please allow me to take a look at you!”

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Veronica Maggio and Arts Education.

Posted in Music, Opinion on March 26th, 2014 by byronkho

Veronica Maggio, jag kommer! All right, she’s Swedish, and a mere excuse to continue on an arts-education rant. Listen, read.

US schools that cut their arts-education programs: BOO HISS. You’re just importing jobs to Sweden. Also, as much as I enjoy a good marching band… WHY is it the focus of US music education? The short answer is that anything else is too expensive and requires a complete overhaul of the system – and that’s unlikely to happen. The US educational system is about training well-rounded people (and completely focused on meeting standards to receive state and federal money, so yeah, funding…) instead of training students toward specific vocations. So technical and magnet schools aren’t so widespread OR supported by parents even when they exist, and even having a “major” in high school is something you’d never see. Imagine your average high school principal thinking about buying DJ equipment and hiring more classical music teachers (c’mon, basics. Good musicians actually need that? If you want to hit it big, you need to get all the training?). S/he’s like… er, this has nothing to do with meeting our reading and math standards and we need that monnnnay, and the football team needs new shiny uniforms, and how will they even play if we don’t churn out more average clunky marching bands to pep them up, and the misfits around here will just destroy the turntables and spill Coke on the soundboard anyways. DENIED.

“IN THE 1940s, CHURCH leaders and cultural conservatives in Sweden rallied together around a solemn mission: to safeguard the country’s youth against the degenerate music—the “dance-floor misery”—that was being piped in from America. To combat this threat, the country built one of the most ambitious arts-education programs in the West. Municipal schools of music spread across the country, offering morally uplifting instruction in classical music. Many of the schools, which were often free to attend… Fees have become more prevalent over the years, and currently run about $100 per semester…. Eventually the aesthetics of Swedish music education came around to strikingly modern sensibilities. In the United States, the repertoire of primary and secondary music education still leans heavily toward the marching band. In Sweden, by contrast, rock and pop have been part of the curriculum in music schools since the 1980s, and in the 1990s courses in mixing and recording became available, too.” – from “Swedish Pop Mafia,” Pacific Standard

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London Grammar.

Posted in Music on March 25th, 2014 by byronkho

I love the desolation of London Grammar. They’re mildly Portishead-y, but infinitely more tragic and suicidal – their breakout hit, Wasting My Young Years, was based on squandered opportunities and the misery of a generation crushed by modern times. This one: a cover of INXS’s Devil Inside, and featured on a current GoT Season 4 trailer. Like most of their other tracks, they use a deceptively sparse arrangement at first, and that peculiar reverb that’s associated with empty halls – hollow, lonely, and a little otherworldly. Love the simple piano part, the decaying echo of the individual bass chords plunked here and there, guitar joining in later, all building up a fever pitch… then 3:43, when Hannah Reid’s powerful repetition of “Devil Inside” really makes you believe in possession. Reid sounds like fellow Englishwomen Florence Welch and Judie Tzuke (“Stay With Me Till Dawn”). Aside: Tzuke has co-written and performed with Morcheeba and Lucie Silvas, who happens to be one of my favorite singers from the British Isles (“What You’re Made Of,” “The Only Ones”). Finally: London Grammar is coming to Philly April 12!

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Bryce Dessner, Gorillaz, Jonny Greenwood.

Posted in Music on March 25th, 2014 by byronkho

Just discovered the National’s Bryce Dessner is also a classical composer and has done some stellar work for the Kronos Quartet. The song below, Aheym, traces his grandmother’s “homeward” (in Yiddish) transition from Russia to Queens in the 1920s. It’s constantly moving: the bass strings keep hammering below, and the other strings jump in and out with nervous pizzicatos and excited buzzing. It’s stressful and harrowing; the cross-Europe trip must have been quite a travail. Dessner is also releasing a dual album with Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, who composed the score for Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie There Will Be Blood, with the Copenhagen Phil under Andre de Ridder (who arranged and conducted a few of the bonus orchestral songs on the Gorillaz’ 2010 album Plastic Beach… Pirate’s Progress is amazing! And the tone of that whole album is just dope. White Flag, my fave song from Plastic Beach, features rapper Kano and the National Orchestra For Arabic Music.) performing. My favorite piece from Greenwood’s half is probably Open Spaces. Dark, haunting and lush, it uses a humming bass to create ominous tension, and soaring violin and reed lines to both relieve and underline the menace.

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Posted in Opinion on March 25th, 2014 by byronkho

Pretty sick prescribed burn… flying tumbleweeds, dust devils, slightly out of control firenado. Great stuff.


Kim Jong-Un selling kebabs.

Posted in History and Politics on March 20th, 2014 by byronkho

“A Chinese street food vendor is enjoying a boost in trade after customers noticed he looks exactly like North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un… [Says Manchu Tuan, kebab seller:] ‘I am pleased to say that business is really good since word got out about the fact that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is now selling kebabs here. The only drawback is that business is non-existent when I’m not here. There are simply no sales by my colleague.’” – Huffington Post


Grilled Honey Chipotle Wings.

Posted in Opinion on March 20th, 2014 by byronkho

Reading food blogs just reminds me of all the aborted attempts at gourmet dishes I’ve left by the wayside. Ima pour one out for all those fallen soldiers. That said… I want this NOW!