Monthly Archives: March 2012

Happy First Birthday, LifeAfterNirvana

Our first layout, gone but not forgotten.

It’s been a year. I can’t believe that this actually happened. Or that it’s been as successful as it’s been. Or that Vincent could still manage to keep pestering me all the way from Seattle. (You’re the best!) It’s been an insane ride, one that I’d like to continue for a while. We started with four bloggers, and grew to seven. We’re hopefully adding an eighth and ninth soon. (The goal is, of course, to add as many knowledgeable bloggers as possible so that you guys can have quantity and quality in your hopefully frequent excursions to LifeAfterNirvana.)

But for a moment, let’s not think about the future. For this post, I’d like to think first about the past.

Here are 105 important life lessons I’ve learned since we founded the blog (in no particular order). Some I’ve learned through the blog, some indirectly, and some completely unrelated:

  1. Vincent isn’t always right about music, but when he is, he’s spot on.
  2. Chris is always right about music.
  3. Taylor needs to post more.
  4. LA has a very different definition of hipster than Seattle does. LA thinks Fleet Foxes are hipster. Seattle thinks Fleet Foxes’ opening act is too mainstream.
  5. Apparently I’m a hipster.
  6. Sorority girls really like it when you know how to play “Call Me Maybe” on an acoustic guitar.
  7. Sorority girls are smarter than they appear. (Don’t judge a book by its cover.)
  8. Don’t date racist people.
  9. “True intimacy isn’t found in the backseats of cars, it’s found brushing your teeth together.” – Gabrielle Zevin
  10. “It’s time for a new breed of filmmakers. When I came up in film school, we hated all the previous directors, save for Alfred Hitchcock. No more remakes or sequels. It’s time to tell stories that mean something.” – Robert Zemeckis, paraphrased.
  11. I write dramedies, and my biggest influences are Aaron Sorkin, Diablo Cody and Paddy Chayefsky.
  12. Casting is a battle worth fighting.
  13. Scheduling is the hardest part of filmmaking.
  14. Sarah Huck is a goddess at both 13 and 14. And she is also my new best friend.
  15. Falling in love for the first time is a terrible thing…
  16. …but it is also a necessary experience.
  17. Everyone should follow @shelbyfero, @torriezaccor, @aldenderck, @susie_why, @lorganmutich, @mitchell_winkie and @kylebellar on Twitter.
  18. Taylor Dearden is an amazing actress who knocks it out of the park every time.
  19. Gus Bendinelli is a brilliant cinematographer who also happens to be the nicest guy ever.
  20. Breaking Bad is one of the best shows… ever.
  21. Everything is a choice.
  22. Nobody watches Sherlock or Parenthood but they need to.
  23. The West Wing is still amazing. And you need to watch that too.
  24. Network could be the greatest film of all time. The Social Network could also be that film. Not sure yet.
  25. Susie Yankou is an amazing musician.
  26. This isn’t a lesson, but here’s a list (likely incomplete) the amazing student filmmakers, writers, etc, that I’ve met at USC so far: Will Merrick, Ben Chance, Will Cherry, Shelby Fero, Alden Derck, Jack Bentele, Tommy Waas, Josh Rappaport, Conor Frank, Dani Goffstein, Kassidy Testut, Sarah Huck, Jordan Lyric, Jabril Mack, Maggie Admire, Sara Monge, Susie Y., Morgan Lutich, Elle Callahan, Laurel Kulow, Madeline Berger, Mike Effenberger, Sam Sandweiss, Michael Nader, J.T. Hagaman, Cameron Evans, Emily Kuperman, Cody Lawrence, David Gantz, Chris Velez, Kyle Bellar, Bubba Fish, Anthony DeCapite, Andy Gause, Michael Bugarin, Nakia Jones, Jake Leder, Jordan Weiss, Conner Vidano, Mattan Cohen, Radha Vishnubhotla, Kirsten Jakob, Ari Mostov, Sydney Ralston, Eric Parra, Bobby Browning, DJ Banton, Althea Capra, Zach Siegel, Harry Hunter, Jason Smith, Mitchell Winkie, Aaron Izek, Jake Hollander, Laur Tam, Miranda Due, Chris Carpenter, Terence Digan, Eric Walker, Amir Mojarradi, Jack Begert, Ben Mullen, Dennis Noack, Stephen Helstad, Sean Roth, Mike Roma, Max Palazzo, Arturo Thur de Koos, Kayla Carlisle, Catherine Chooljian, Trevor Taylor, Max Pittsley, Riley Pietsch, Allison Tate-Cortese, Rikke Heinecke, Rachel Scott, Michael Chasin, Ty Sheedlo, Taylor Dearden, Gus Bendinelli, Torrie Zaccor, Larissa Schiavo and Jeff Watson.
  27. There was a cinema before Michael Bay, and there was a cinema after Michael Bay. (jokes)
  28. #savecommunity:
  29. I love Mumford and Sons, but there are a lot of great, undiscovered bands that exist too that do a very similar thing.
  30. Same for Gotye.
  31. Letterboxd is amazing.
  32. I don’t care how out-of-style it seems to be at the moment, being a gentleman is always in fashion.
  33. Memes are going to be the new form of communication going forward and they are also hilarious.
  34. I am a postmodern baby and I am proud.
  35. My music taste is all over the map, but there are generally two rules: it’s played by real people with real instruments, and it’s intricate and passionate.
  36. This is how I interpret things.
  37. This is the story of my life. Except for the burning part.
  38. There are still evil people in the world, and we need to weed them out.
  39. A bad director can ruin a good script, but it’s much harder for a good director to save a bad script. Same goes for good and bad actors in relation to a good or bad script.
  40. There is always someone famous on the USC campus.
  41. Jennifer Lawrence could be the next Meryl Streep. Not sure yet.
  42. There are some really good actors at USC.
  43. Pacing and rhythm are a lot, but they’re not everything. Action helps dialogue. But dialogue is damn important.
  44. The words are music. In everything.
  45. Family is an incredibly important thing.
  46. Kleptomania is unintentionally sexy.
  47. is sometimes crazy right.
  48. Good writing is hard. Good rewriting is harder.
  49. This is for everyone: Guys (or girls) who are nice one-on-one but not when in a group situation are douchebags. No question. There’s something to be said of the men and women who are nice all the time.
  50. Empathy is the key to the ideal civilization.
  51. To celebrate Purim the Rabbinical way is to get drunk and have a good time.
  52. Character and narrative drive.
  53. Everything, no matter how intellectual, has to have a heart for it to be entertaining.
  54. Women only achieve orgasm 35% of the time. We have to do better, men.
  55. You should practice what you preach.
  56. If I was in a horror movie, I would be exposition guy.
  57. When you’re in love, the highs are astronomical. The lows are worse.
  58. The best conversations occur after one in the morning, as I’ve learned from Torrie and Sarah.
  59. Don’t smoke cigarettes.
  61. It’s legal in 29 states to fire someone because they’re gay. That’s not even close to OK.
  62. If you’re really in love with someone, you’re happy to see them happy, even if you’re not.
  63. I’m not scared of dying alone. I’m scared of living alone.
  64. The inherent problem with most high school teachers is that they themselves are not the standard the average person should aspire to be–they are the average person.
  65. I derive great pleasure from three things: intimacy, seeing the fruits of my creative labor when they are ripe and perfect and recognized by others as such, and seeing the ones I love experience a similar great pleasure as a result of something I have done.
  66. Vegas is hedonism for hedonism’s sake. This disappoints me.
  67. Music shouldn’t have to be a fashion statement.
  68. Neither should taste in film.
  69. It is possible to hold the same person in your head as both incredibly nice and incredibly cruel. Doublethink exists.
  70. “If you don’t do something ’cause you don’t wanna, then I respect that. But if you don’t do something because you think it’s gonna be too hard or you think you’re gonna lose? Well, God, I don’t even want to know you.” – Mrs. Landingham (Aaron Sorkin)
  71. There isn’t a solution for every problem, but that doesn’t mean we should stop looking.
  72. “I wish I could just be like, we just made brief eye contact across the room, do you wanna have sex?” – Dr. Poonslayer, D.D.S.
  73. The Friend Zone is hell.
  74. “The world is my friend zone.” – Anonymous
  75. “High school makes us go through such unnecessary shit to prove ourselves to ourselves.” – Sarah Huck
  76. “Sex makes the world go ’round. The most civilizing force on this planet is not religion, it’s sex. We do almost everything we do to impress the opposite sex. If the world was inhabited by just one gender, the world would be a very cold, hurtful place.” – Hugh Hefner
  77. “You think the strike against me is that I’m the smartest kid in the class.”
    “It’s only a strike if you watch it as it passes by home plate.”
    – Jed & Toby (Aaron Sorkin)
  78. The seven-mile run from USC to the (500) Days of Summer bench is the best kind of run.
  79. “If it takes more than a fortnight to edit, you’re doing something wrong.” – Werner Herzog
  80. I do have a filter.
  81. “Liking someone is the most selfish thing you can do.” – Anonymous
  82. People are assholes, but they’re also amazing sometimes.
  83. Chris Reimann is a great roommate.
  84. “Since we are social beings, choice involves choosing for all mankind.” – Jean-Paul Sartre
  85. It’s not about what you actually feel, it’s about what you should feel.
  86. The showers in my dorm are disgusting, but they’re also the perfect place for inspiration and reflection.
  87. I have a certain ego about my writing. Might be a flaw, might be a good thing. Not sure yet.
  88. The Game might be the greatest invention of 2011.
  89. Getting fucked fucks up your fuckdar.
  90. “I Love USC And I Hate UCLA” – Aloe Blacc
  91. Never again should we be at the mercy of men just following orders.
  92. The best, most talented people are generally the nicest.
  93. Sometimes, the world provides you with unexpected happiness. More often, expected happiness gives way to unexpected sadness.
  94. In the day I dream of winning Oscars. In the night I dream of winning hearts.
  95. Take responsibility, or take a hike.
  96. “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, a hipster will buy the soundtrack.” – Peter Biethan
  97. Paris really is the most romantic city on Earth.
  98. I miss childhood, but I also know that adulthood is so much more fulfilling.
  99. The worst feeling in the world is knowing that people you aspire to be liked by are talking about you negatively behind your back and you can’t do anything about it.
  100. Harry Potter epitomizes our generation.
  101. Death Cab’s Transatlanticism is perfect for the greatest of all emotions.
  102. The only thing more tasteless and ignorant than laughing at an Anne Frank joke is not getting an Anne Frank joke.
  103. Katy Perry’s Breasts would make a great band name. Who wouldn’t wanna see Katy Perry’s Breasts?
  104. “You should marry a woman that is willing to change with you as you constantly evolve” – Anonymous.
  105. I have great friends. Vincent, Chris, Kevin, Taylor, David, Seth, my fellow bloggers… this is for you.

I suppose that takes us to the present. It has, indeed, been a year:

This song just seemed… fitting. Greg Laswell has been featured on this blog before, by me, and the straight 4/4 rhythm accentuated by percussion worthy of Mr. Trimis’ appreciation seems to just define how “sweet” the last year has been. Imperfect, sure, but always rolling.

The second song celebrates the birthday of LAN in a way Vincent would very much disapprove of. But it’s hilarious:

The final song I have represents the last year on a more personal level. Last January 20th, before the blog idea was even implanted in my head, I started a novel experiment. After every day, I recorded the “Song(s) of the Day”–the songs that I listened to most, jammed out to, had the most creative impact on my writing and my life.

It didn’t take careful analysis of the list to know that the song for this past year was “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab For Cutie, possibly my favorite song of all time.

This song was inspirational to me foremost in my creative endeavors. Some of the funniest jokes I’ve ever written came out of listening to this song sad late at night; some of the most moving dramatic moments I’ve ever envisioned came from a similar place.

This song has helped me let it out in every way I needed to, when I was at my worst and at my best. The song’s incredible, seven-minute build is both brilliant and awe-inspiring, at once both intimate and epic. It is bigger than it is; the whole is more than the sum of its parts. It’s just three simple chords, three simple notes in repetition, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an outpouring of emotion. The musical equivalent of sex. Like The Beatles’ best works, but produced and amplified for the modern age and lyricized for the young and less fortunate. Jason McGerr’s drumming is second to none. Ben Gibbard’s vocals exemplify the sadness and longing of a lost generation. Nick Harmer’s bass keeps things at a steady growth. And Chris Walla’s superb guitar and production arrangements could leave even the stone-faced listener weeping profusely.

This song is about everything. At its core, it’s about a long-distance relationship, a common theme on Transatlanticism. But it can be about so much more. It can be about the voicelessness of a young man adrift in an endless sea of loneliness. It can be about the primal desires of love and sex. It can be about the nature of relationships, of love, of the way we feel about each other. It can be about unrequited love. It can be about an individual’s sadness and the destructive cycle it can create.

So come on. Come on, come on, come on. This is it. Right now. Here’s the moment. What is it to you?

As I look on to the future of this in-retrospect-insane endeavor, I can only wonder what’s gonna happen next.

If it’s anything like the past year, I won’t even be able to imagine the heights this blog can reach and I’ll love every minute of it.

Right-click to download:

Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism .mp3

This Is An Early Favorite For Album of the Year

And I say that with Japandroids and Sigur Ros confirmed releases.


A review is forthcoming.


Scenes From This Afternoon

As I walked out of the School of Music today I passed a couple huddled together in the entryway. There’s a light sprinkle, but they weren’t avoiding the rain. They were sharing a pair of headphones, listening to something that demanded concentration. Neither of them talked.

I like to think that this is what they were listening to.

Is This Real Life?

This is the greatest thing that the YouTube generation has ever produced.

I wish I had this much #swagg when I was 12. People on the YouTube are hatin pretty hard but I think this is fly. Listen to that flow. Look at those dance moves. These kids must get so laid at junior high dances.

One Year Later: Life After Nirvana (I Can’t Believe It)

It all started because my computer could no longer burn cds. In 2009 I decided to stop by Dylan’s house unannounced and just chill with him. Well at least that was what I said to him. You see, I had a bit of a more devious plan when I came over that day. My mother had effectively shut down any possibility of my brother or I getting an ipod for fear of our liberal use of the headphones and loud music, so it was all about the 90’s and early 2000’s approach…burning cds. Everything was fine and dandy until my computer hard drive could no longer read the cds to burn. Just like that, my solution for my technological backwardness was wiped clean (well that and my mother deleted all the files off of my itunes library as punishment for misbehaving). It was off to the library and checking out cds to give to Dylan so that he could grab the tracks for his itunes, which would eventually provide enough tracks for me to continue my practice. It became a weekly ritual, where I would swing over for no more than thirty minutes, talking to Dylan about school and life while itunes was getting some new tracks. As the school year ended and summer began, I would come to visit Dylan nearly everyday, each time bringing new music along me. These visits became so frequent, that even my mother began to stop questioning whenever I went out for run in the evening (she knew where I was going).  Although the original purpose was to share music with one another, our interactions became much more than that. I can remember exactly how Dylan and I would spend time together. I would be sitting on the cheap ass, broken-down pool table while Dylan would sit in his brown leather chair. We would lament about our first world problems (relationships obviously), tease each other about the failings of our sports teams (seriously the Ravens are choke artists at the finest), and sometimes we would sit there and not say a word at all. However, we would always have music playing in the background, whether it was the sunny pop of “Lust for Life” by Girls, or passionate yelps of The Born Ruffians in “I Need a Life”.  Dylan and I turned to each other because we both had something to offer, but music was what helped us become pals to best buds. Eventually as the years went on, I finally got my computer fixed and upgraded to a more convenient way to gain access to new music: blogs. In particular, I showed one very important site to Dylan. It is called hypem. a vast collection of music blogs that constantly update and post new songs of all genres. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

It all started because of a facebook status. In early February of 2011, Dylan posted about his desire to create a blog that would give back as much musical content to hypem as much as he took from it. He asked if any of his friends were interested in this endeavor. Of course, given the nature of facebook, he had plenty of likes, but no one really commented to signify a shade of commitment. So Sir Dylan gathered a half-dozen names and sent a group message about the possibility of being apart of a music blog. Some the folks were inspired and went out to form their own blogs, while other people never did get around to committing to the work needed to get the project off the ground. Look, I get it. In a world already engulfed by excess, why bother caring about another music blog in a field already over saturated with them? Despite it all, Dylan did not relent even once. His enthusiasm and musical knowledge more than made up for the small group of people who signed up to begin Life After Nirvana. It took a lot of patience and hard work, but a year later we were able to celebrate the success of Life After Nirvana…via the blog’s own facebook page (Yeah yeah yeah we were very late to the party).

It all started because each and every single person on this blog is addicted to music in one form or another. For some of us, our relationship with music is physical, as we grip the tools of our craft, ready to produce sounds that will eventually be refined to become melodies. For others, the relationship is more mental, as we sit back and admire how these people work tirelessly to create art for our appreciation.  For all of us, we have an emotional relationship with music. The source we turn to when we can’t verbally articulate the emotions we are feeling at the moment. The medium that assists us in achieving catharsis. The unifying source that allows us to communicate with others despite the grand differences in our life experiences and expectations.

So what song can capture even a trace of what I am trying to communicate here? I think I got something here to capture not only the joys and frustration of blogging during this first year while still capturing the excitement that we still got for the future.

LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends (right click to download)

What a beautifully bittersweet song this is. The endless repetition of the same guitar, clumsy piano chords, keyboard  produce this jumbled loop that is one bad move away from becoming a convoluted mess. Kind of like the blog starting out (seriously, if you look at our early work, it is laughable). However, as the song builds up and leads to the mammoth percussion section and joyful guitar riff begins to change the song’s dynamics entirely, despite the core of the sound still being retained. Soon the imprecise sound of the piano serves not as a hindrance to the overall work, but rather as a reminder that the imperfections are basis of authenticity. Our blog isn’t the most polished one there is, but it is ours. Each mistake we make, each success we have, those are of our own. Nothing can take away from that.

While the song “All My Friends” maturely concludes with the acceptance of being older and moving on from past regrets, I hope that Life After Nirvana and its bloggers will be able to continue to share the music that they love, not only for the sake of our small but faithful audience, but to share with one another. It ain’t high school anymore, and though some of us are at the same college ( or will be), our different lives dictate that we won’t be in close proximity and constant personal interaction with each other as we once had back at Woodinville. What matters then are our sustained efforts to keep connected. It’s been a damn pleasure working with y’all. I think the last lines of the song say it best.

Where are your friends tonight?
Where are your friends tonight?

If I could see all my friends tonight
If I could see all my friends tonight
If I could see all my friends tonight
If I could see all my friends tonight

In concluding this post,  I want to give a shout out to my boy Dylan V (the only blogger not stationed in Washington because of his prestigious status as a USC brat boy majoring in film and screenwriting). It’s been ages since I last saw you and by god I miss you. Cheers friend, may our blog continue to hold up so that we can continue not only our love for music, but our friendship.

As an extra bonus, I went back and searched through the message archives of the initial message exchanges between potential bloggers. To be concise, a certain individual did not endear himself to the rest of the group and was asked not to participate. Read some of the comments left by this jilted lover.

March 25th 2011

  • “hahahahahahahahahaha.How’s that music blog coming along? Lots of witty, insightful, generally wonderful reviews that I see on that non deserted wasteland of a blog.”
  •  Just looked at the blog today, saw there were no posts. I just found it funny that after all the prep, and planning and whatnot, it never came to be.
  • I await for the final and continuing product, and will humbly retract my statements once I see the completion of this blog.

May 1, 2011

  • “I humbly retract my statements.”

Oh buddy. If you did such when the blog was just starting out, I wonder what would be the reaction if you were to see the blog now? Eat crow fella.

Reintroducing The Morning Benders as POP ETC

Before I begin, I would like to show you all something. You may have seen this commercial before.

The song is “Excuses” by the Morning Benders…only problem is, they aren’t the Morning Benders

A few days ago, The formally known Morning Benders took to Facebook and Twitter, to announce that it would be “their last post/tweet as The Morning Benders”

Soon after that band announced on their old website that they had actually changed their name to POP ETC citing the following:

1. We simply cannot go on using a name that is demeaning to the gay community. The reason we are making music is to reach and unite as many different kinds of people as possible, and the idea that our name may be hateful towards anyone makes us sick.

2. In the UK and many parts of Europe the name has simply become too distracting. The MUSIC has always been our number one focus, and we want to present that to people in as pure a way as possible

I know that many people around the world have grown to love the name “The Morning Benders,” and understandably have memories and experiences associated with it. Obviously we can understand this, we’ve lived and breathed this band for 7 years. However, for those of you that know and follow us, you also know that we are committed to change. We’ve always promised our fans that we will never settle into a place that feels safe and easy, because that leads to boring art. It is true that we didn’t anticipate this specific twist in the road when we set out on this musical journey, but we still like to think of this as merely a further embodiment of our commitment to change. We believe that it will only lead to new growth and excitement.

Thank you for your attention, your love, and your support.

From henceforth we shall be known as POP ETC

In case any of you are confused, “bender” in the UK and Europe is a degrading term for “homosexual”, which makes this name change extremely thoughtful and classy. Following the announcement, the band  dropped a new, free mixtape,  “Mixtape”, which you can download from their new website. It seems to be a radical departure from the band’s previous material, so I guess the name change was both supporting the diversity of their fans and the expression of a new musical sound.

Pop Etc

So about that song “Excuses”…it’s a truly wonderful song. Check out a live performance here (start at the :50 mark)

American Reunion – Film Review

The American Pie franchise returns to respectability with this solid fourquel.

Though writer-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg are better known for their work with another storied franchise, the Harold and Kumar series, the duo manages to breathe new life into a franchise once determined dead-on-direct-to-DVD-arrival.

Everyone (and I do mean everyone) is back for this fourquel, which plays as both a brilliant inside joke and a fun standalone comedy. While I won’t give away too much of the plot, the story obviously revolves around the gang getting back together for the awkwardly-timed 12-year reunion (planned by one-half of the returning MILF duo, John Cho).

The film’s best comedy generally revolves around perennial douchebag Stifler (Seann William Scott), an annoying character in the original who here has been developed and made a much more interesting character, but the film’s heart lies with Jim (Jason Biggs), his former band geek wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) and, of course, Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy, still one of the funniest character actors in the business). It is from these two main plotlines that Hurwitz & Schlossberg milk the film’s best moments.

Don’t get me wrong, the other main characters have solid arcs, too. Finch (the underrated Eddie Kaye Thomas), Oz (Chris Klein) and Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) each have their moments, and there are some cool returning characters, plotlines and cameos. However, Hurwitz and Schlossberg smartly streamlined the arcs to make a compact, fun comedy that delicately balances humor and heart.

This balance is easily the film’s big success. I can only hope that it carries over to the inevitable fifth sequel. Until then, however, this is a worthwhile trip to a theater. You won’t be disappointed.