Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Do Not Have A Connective Tissue Disorder!

Easter Sunday was a complete blur, that began at church with my parents and ended watching an old high school friend in the national tour of Sweeney Todd. She was amazing.

Back in early October, my orthopedic diagnosed me as hypermobile with arachnodactly, which basically means that my joints are freakishly flexible and I have long fingers and toes. I also showed other symptoms that led him to believe I might have Marfans Syndrome. Marfans is mainly not that big a deal...except for the part where your joints basically fall apart due to looseness of connective tissue, and also your heart kinda explodes.

So this was something to look into.

I booked an appointment with a highly sought-after geneticist immediately after that diagnosis, and this geneticist was not available until today, March 25. That's a long wait to find out if you're gonna die soon.

After filling out an extremely thorough questionnaire (which I mailed in several months ago), with details on the history of my entire family, and another lengthy interview by a fellow today, the esteemed Dr. Rimoin entered the room, moved a couple of my joints around, listened to my heart, and basically gave me his blessing with a clean bill of health. That was quick.

He said he doesn't know what's going on with me, but it's not Marfans. And for that, I breathe a sigh of relief. Especially to know that I'm not passing it on to sweet little Noah.

And now, on to the next thing. At 7:45am tomorrow, I am to report for jury duty in the Los Angeles Superior Court. I really hope we don't go to trial, because I have to play the Kids' Choice Awards with Miley in a couple days. In order to avoid the jury, Ben says to be antisocial, creepy, and talk really slowly. Oh, also to glare at people like The Crow. I'm working on it. Something tells me "antisocial" won't be too hard at eight in the morning.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Yeehaw Y'all!

I'm back. I've been in the cave of The Samantha Murphy Show. I'm proud to say we all emerged with 7 days of awesome shows from South By Southwest. I hope you've all checked out the show (go to smtvmusic.com if you haven't yet seen me make a complete fool out of myself on camera).

Just before SXSW, the Miley/Hannah crew reunited in Houston for the livestock and rodeo show. It's was a much bigger deal than most of us expected. There were big music acts every night, and we were the only one that sold out. That was exciting, but on top of that Kay was super-psyched to see the cowboys do what they do.

We arrived all groggy around 10am at the venue, which was all dirt. Nobody wore the right shoes. A massive stage sat in the center.

We soundchecked for awhile, then decided to run the entire show. The stage was much smaller than we were used to, so the choreography needed to be adjusted.

We were told that the stage would be turning as we performed, so that everybody in the arena could see us. But we were assured that it would turn quite slowly.

This was not really so true. As we ran the show for two hours on empty stomachs, we noticed that the speed of the rotation was a bit undersold to us. It was actually kinda fast.

Also, the stage could only make three full rotations, because of cabling. Then with a lurch, it would spin in the opposite direction. Which of course meant that every minute or so, all the dancers would nearly get knocked to the ground. Fun! And I was kinda sick. A little nauseous.

To celebrate our quease, Candice, Jaco and I spent our couple hours off enjoying the carnival rides.

We also checked out the freaks and the farm animals:

The rodeo started at precisely 3:46pm. I don't know why. They run that thing like clockwork. We gathered out front to see all the calf-roping action up close. Kay quickly became disenfranchised by the violence of the act.

At 6:22pm exactly, they drove us out to the show in little golf carts, and the whirlwind began.

And just as quickly as it began, it was over. Miley and Billy Ray left the stage in a clearly marked Ford Mustang convertible, which we all thought was hilariously cheesy. I'm sure Miley an Billy Ray would agree.

Our sold-out show broke the rodeo's attendance record, which was previously held by last year's Hannah Montana/Cheetah Girls show. 73,000 cowboys and little cowgirls were present.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Big Payoff

I have lots of great pics and videos of the Houston rodeo, which will be up on the blog next week.

This week, I'm at South By Southwest in Austin. After months of hard work, the Samantha Murphy Show (which I'm directing and co-hosting) is finally premiering! It features great singer/songwriters and bands, as well as interviews with heavy hitters in music and technology. A new show will be up every night at smtvmusic.com. You can see two episodes as of this writing, and the third will be up in the morning.

We are spending every second shooting, editing and uploading. We're tired, we're sore and we're sunburnt, but if you enjoy the show, it's all worth it.

Here's the trailer:

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Music I've Been Obsessed With

Whenever I'm going through a hard time, it's nice to have some rich, complex music to dig into, to burrow inside of. The following are some records that have helped me, of late.
What: Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Why I Love It:
Ever since I picked it up that day in Minneapolis, I've listened to this at least once a day. Sheer brilliance in every second. It is at the same time raw and polished, simple and shockingly layered. Every time I listen to it, I find something new to marvel at. It just gets better and better. I am so incredibly excited to see Spoon play this coming week at SXSW. These guys are finding brand new roads through pop music, and that is far too rare nowadays. Genius. I am in love.

My Advice:
Buy it now! Your immediate favorite will be "The Underdog" (produced by Jon Brion), but all the songs will slowly reveal themselves to you.

Favorite Lyrics:
"Remember/the winter/gets cold in ways you always forget." - Rhthm & Soul

"I'm in need of someone/to take care of me tonight/as I walk into Dorian's/can you see it in my eyes?/my boots are on the mend/and they ain't walkin' home/street tar and summer/do a job on your sole." - Black Like Me

"I wanna forget how convention fits/but can I get out from under it?/can I cut it out of me?/it can't all be wedding cake/it can't all be boiled away/I tried but I can't let go of it/cause you don't talk to the waterboy/and there's so much you could learn but you don't wanna know/you will not back up an inch ever/that's why you will not survive." - The Underdog

Listen to the whole album now.

Buy it on
Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Bonus Track Version)

What: Suzanne Vega - Beauty and Crime

Why I Love It:
The first time I heard it, half-listening while walking, I thought the production was stronger than usual for her, but the lyrics were "meh." Well, upon further listens, I am happy to report that I was completely wrong. This is one of her richest, deepest albums. The record focuses on New York City: its charm, its sadness, and its many stories. She continues to write like an complete alien, which is a good thing. She objectively observes, and is as unsentimental as a human can be, but this collection of songs has a lot of heart. "Bound" is a highlight (and particularly resonant for me at the moment) in a sea of gems. The level of craft here is astounding. Oh also it just won a Grammy for "Best Engineered Album (Non Classical)."

My Advice:
Big surprise. Buy it now! Give it some time to sink in.

Favorite Lyrics:
"The way of the world/has taken its toll/ravaged my body/and bitten my soul./I am ruined by rain/weathered by wind/I've been invaded/without and within./And I ask/I am asking you/asking you if you might still want me./When I said 'I am bound to you forever/here's what I meant:/'I am bound to you forever.'" - Bound

"This time/when I go back to Ludlow Street/I find/each stoop and doorway's incomplete/without you there./Love is the only thing that matters/love is the only thing that's real/and when I think about you now/love is the only thing I feel." - Ludlow Street

"New York is a woman/she'll make you cry/and to her you're just another guy." - New York Is A Woman

Listen to three songs here.

Buy it on
Suzanne Vega - Beauty & Crime (Bonus Track Version)


There's more music to share with you, but we'll save it for another time. I'm still completely obsessed with both Kathleen Edwards records, and she released her third one this week. I must run to Amoeba and inject it into my veins pronto.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dining With the Dead

On Oscar Sunday, instead of going to an Oscar party (I was dying to watch the awards, but Tivo'd them back home instead), we went to a dinner party for members of the exclusive Pho list. I met tons of important people and embarrassed myself, as usual. The worst part was, the restaurant was playing the Oscars on all the TV's. And it was muted, with the captions on. So I would try desperately to avoid it, and then would accidentally catch a split second, and see the captions saying things like "and the winner of Best Costume Design is Sweeney Todd."

This happened more than three times.

By the end, I was exhausted from all the socializing (have I ever mentioned I'm a total introvert?), and dragged myself to bed...after taking one picture:

The Kabuki hotel really treated us well. And Monday morning, I woke up to this:


Monday brought the San Francisco Music Tech Summit, which was attended by many brilliant folks including the founder of YouTube, the former drummer from Creeper Lagoon, the creator of CDBaby and tons of musicians and web people. Quite a meeting of minds.

During the afternoon, we interviewed John Perry Barlow, one of the songwriters for The Grateful Dead. What a thoughtful, intelligent man.

We filmed and filmed and filmed some more. Interviews and panels and behind-the-scenes, oh my! Samantha hosted a panel sponsored by Digital Freedom:

She also played a show at the end of the day for the hundreds of smarties. And afterwards, we were personally invited to join John Perry Barlow (of the Dead) and Claudio Prado, the Vice Minister of Culture for Brazil, for some Korean barbecue. To hear these two trade stories was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Over the course of the day, we heard tons of great ideas, brilliant internet strategies and genius theories, all of which I promptly forgot by the car ride home.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Night by the Fire

So, after the embarrassment that was the Jonathan Coulton interview, Saturday couldn't really get a whole lot worse. That day, I was scheduled to play Paul Schreiber's house concert. Paul works as a programmer at Apple, and he hosts these house concerts every month or so. He's earned quite a reputation as a tastemaker, previously featuring artists like The Weepies, Kyler, Adrianne and our very own Samantha Murphy.

He's also earned a reputation for being a ridiculously hospitable host. Paul spent the day preparing chocolate cake, donut holes and banana bread from scratch. This guy's not kidding around.
He set up his bedroom as the green room, complete with tea, magazines, paper and pens for my set list -- you get the idea. I felt very much at home.

And the place was packed. I played two sets of 45 minutes each. It was great fun to play for so long, because I was able to pull out some songs I don't often play, like "The Road" and "Ferris Wheel."

I got a great response from the audience, who were a great bunch of listeners. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a crowd is diggin' it, but they seemed pretty into it.

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Monday, March 3, 2008

I Am Not Stalking You

I realize that I'm way behind on my blog. So here's a little catch-up.

Last Friday, Samantha and I piled cameras, tripods, a keyboard, a guitar, suitcases, CDs, cables, a PA system, bags of videotapes and so much more into my tiny compact car for a business trip to San Francisco.

When we arrived six hours later, we immediately jumped into work. For the TV show, we were covering Jonathan Coulton's (or JoCo's) sold-out show at the Great American Music Hall. This show was quite important to him, as a massive and well-paid camera crew was filming it for his upcoming DVD, and we were filming the filming. Samantha and I are both big fans, and were very excited.

It was interesting to meet his fans. I wasn't surprised at all that they were all nerds, as his music is total geek-rock (and I mean this in the nicest way). However, Samantha and I were both very surprised that they were all rude. Not sure if it was a San Francisco thing, or a nerds-who-have-never-seen-sunlight-and-have-no-social-skills thing, but every single one that spoke to us was shockingly unkind.

Despite all the angry dorks (or maybe because of, who knows?), Jonathan put on a fantastic show, filled with references to robots, zombies, monsters and concluding with the announcement-masquerading-as-spectacle, where Jonathan and various popular bloggers played his song from Portal, "Still Alive" in Rock Band (surprise, everyone!). The collective geeksplosion of brain matter was sort of gross. But fun.

(A fan gave him this creepy doll, which they created, based on his song, "Creepy Doll." How nice...and obsessive.)

The whole night helped me realize that although I am a geek, there are perhaps levels of geekiness, and those people are on some crazy "we-go-to-Comic-Con-dressed-as-Joss-Whedon" level.

After the show, we headed backstage for an interview with Jonathan. At this point, I should mention that Samantha told JoCo in her previous interview with him (which you can now hear at smtvmusic.com) that I am a huge fan. I was not present for this. She went further, saying that I'm basically stalking him. She has continued to joke that I am in love with him every time she's talked to him in the months since then. She even put the horribly embarrassing picture from this previous entry on her Flickr page. He's a little freaked out, I'm guessing.

For the record, I like his music. That's pretty much it. I don't want him to do my dishes or wash my laundry or clean my toilets. I just want to listen to "Still Alive" every now and then.

That said, Jonathan seemed downright afraid of me from the word go. This made us both completely uncomfortable. But we did our best to create a little video content...

...that I probably won't be able to use. I'm scheduled to edit this footage tomorrow, and I'm honestly dreading even looking at it. Surely, I look like a complete idiot. Either way, you'll be able to see for yourself when it airs later this month. [Sarcasm activated] I can hardly wait. [Sarcasm deactivated].

Wow, I really am a geek.

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