Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fall 2014 Tech Essentials

Summer's coming to an end, so enjoy the last of it (or the beginning of fall) with these essential gadgets (in no particular order):   
  1. Mophie space pack - battery + case + storage = Mophie space pack.  Not only does this case protect your iPhone, but it can also charge a phone up to 100% AND can add up to 64 GB of extra storage for more music, photos, and videos.  
  2. Danbo external battery - there are tons of options for external batteries for non-iPhone users, but this is one of the cutest.  The eyes light up in different colors to show the remaining power, and it has two ports to charge two phones at the same time.  One of the ports can even charge tablets! 
  3. GoPro Hero3 - with a waterproof case and built-in Wi-Fi, you can capture your last summer trip, party, or any upcoming music festivals (ahem, Austin City Limits). 
  4. SOL REPUBLIC DECK - finally a wireless speaker that doesn't sound tinny.  Indoors, the sound is impressive, but switching to Outdoor Mode really boosts the acoustics, great for BBQs and pool parties.  A fun feature is Heist Mode, which lets up to five people connect at the same time.  It's beyond easy to pair phones and immediately start playing music.  Plus the speaker lights up with different colors, so you know who's DJing.
  5. FlipBelt - okay, so this isn't really a gadget, but it's great for holding one when you go on a run.  Work out and listen to music without your phone / iPod bouncing around, weighing down one arm, or slipping out of your hand.    

SOL REPUBLIC DECK given to me for review. 

    Friday, July 25, 2014

    Dreamworks Animation Celebrating 20 Years @ Hollywood Bowl

    High Notes:
    1. Jack Black was a funny, energetic host and managed to recover quickly, and humorously, even when flubbing his lines.  Has he ever been considered to host the Oscars?  
    2. The amazing Judith Hill singing Prince of Egypt's "When You Believe".  Don't know how my friend's have never heard of this song, let alone the movie.  It was all over the radio and featured two powerhouse singers (Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston)!  
    3. The USC Marching Band lined up on stage to perform on The Croods. 
    4. Remembering how great the soundtracks were for Puss in Boots and How to Train Your Dragon.
    5. Getting to see one of my favorite composers, Hans Zimmer, live AND on guitar! 
    6. Awesome fireworks during I'm a Believer with Jack Black on vocals and all the Dreamworks composers playing instruments. 
    7. All the popular Dreamworks characters coming out on stage to dance to I Like to Move It.  Jack Black shimmying with Po (it's like he's dancing with himself!) and Shrek was particularly amusing.  Life-size Toothless was so adorable!


    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Evening of Chinese Splendor @ Hollywood Bowl

    High Notes:
    1. Not just one, but FIVE dragons before the show even started,  

      one dragon during the show, 

      and a flaming dragon with fireworks at the end of the show.  
    2. Perry So conducted the LA Philharmonic and looked unexpectedly young for someone so talented.
    3. The concert brought together generations with classical pianist Rueibin Chen, beloved folk singer Song Zuying, and pop star Wang Leehom.  The lineup made for a fun family activity. 
    4. Wang Leehom's cover of his uncle, Li Jian-fu's, hit song Descendants of the Dragon  
    5. All the performers on stage together for Time to Say Goodbye.  Wow, Song Zuying's voice is amazing 

    Low Notes: 
    1. I know it was an outdoor concert, so you can bring whatever you want to eat, but stinky tofu definitely should not be one of them.   
    2. So this is just a personal low note, but seeing Wang Leehom play piano, violin, AND sing really made me wish I excelled at something, anything!
    3. I've never seen so many Chinese people in one place outside of China.  Having been to China, I know people don't seem to follow any traffic rules (or rules of courtesy in crowds).  It was a pushy, rough herd of people.  First time I've ever gotten stuck in the tunnel while exiting...

    • Can Leehom Wang transcend China and America's pop cultures? - LA Times 
    • Wang Leehom's video diary of that day 

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

    Barry Gibb, Jared & the Mill @ Hollywood Bowl

    Jared & the Mill
    On the ride up to the Hollywood BowlJennio and I were the youngest people on the shuttle...not accompanying a parent (it's so sweet that these kids took their moms to a concert).  At the Bowl, we did see even younger people...working the event.  I think it's safe to say that Barry Gibb draws an older crowd.  So, I'm not quite sure how the opener, Jared & the Mill, was chosen.  Don't get me wrong, they were good, but their Mumford & Sons sound would've been a better fit at an indie music festival.  After reading their AZcentral interview, I was impressed to learn that Gibb selected them out of 70 acts.  The man recognizes talent.

    Barry Gibb
    Barry Gibb with son, Stephen
    When I went through a Bee Gees phase in my early college years, I never thought I would get to see any of them live, so I was excited when I heard Barry Gibb was touring and that there was a show at Hollywood Bowl (one of my favorite venues).  I mostly knew of disco era Bee Gees, so I was pleasantly surprised by their pre-disco hits (such as Spicks and Specks) and collaborations (like the album Guilty they did with Barbra Streisand).

    The concert was a family affair with a duet with his niece, Sammy Gibb (who I like to imagine is a punk rock jazz singer.  Her voice was amazing) and a performance by his son, Stephen Gibb (who has a gritty voice fit for death metal).

    Barry Gibb's voice, by the way, still sounds fantastic after all these years (zero old man voice).  And he has a sense of humor.  He put up a photo of him with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake on the Barry Gibb Talk Show skit (start at 4:22 to skip the weird Madonna part.  I wish he had actually been on the show and had a sing off with Fallon).  Then he went into Nights on Broadway.  The only thing that could've improved the already outstanding performance was if he had started the song with the skit's lyrics or shown the end song from the video.

    Photo via Dailymail
    The tour was a wonderful way to pay tribute to his brothers.  You could tell Gibb really missed them when he told stories while showing old family photos.  He even did a duet with Robin on I Started a Joke.  The video of Robin made it feel like he was there.

    The show was a brilliant display of the Bee Gees' extraordinary musical career.  I never knew they originated To Love Somebody.  Everyone knows that song, but that night was the first time hearing the original.  And Grease live was amazing.  I didn't even realize Frankie Valli sang it, but I'm not surprised that Barry Gibb wrote it, definitely has his sound.  So many of Bee Gees songs have been sampled and covered.  Islands in the Stream was used in Ghetto Supastar, for instance.  The only song missing from the concert was Emotion, one of my favorite songs (written for Samantha Sang and covered by Destiny's Child).

    More Reviews:

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Coachella 2014 Packing List

    Sadly, no Coachella for me this year, but since I saw so many Coachella packing guides going around, I figure I should add to them with something more than just "cute outfits".  These are the essentials I would bring to Coachella (or any festival).
    1. Vapur Bottle:  can be rolled up when empty and takes up way less space than a plastic water bottle.
    2. Mophie Juice Pack Plus:  protects your phone AND provides 120% extra battery to keep your phone functioning all day long.
    3. Phone charger:  With the above Mophie case, you can charge your phone and the case at the same time. If you're lucky there will be tents with charging stations like the amazing H&M tent last year with AC, cold water, outlets, sunblock, and wipes to clean your sweaty face. That tent was an oasis in the afternoon heat.    
    4. ETY Earplugs:  a friend changed my live music life with these earplugs.  They don't muffle the voices or instruments like other earplugs.  I remember using them for the first time and I kept taking them out to compare because it sounded like I wasn't really wearing earplugs.  The sound was amazing.  More details about how they work here.  
    5. Bundle Monster Waterproof Beach Blanket:  folds up into the smallest of pouches.  Doesn't take up much space in your tote bag and you'll be glad you brought it because the grass can get dry and itchy in the desert and at night you have no idea what has been tossed on the ground throughout the day.  Plus it's huge unfolded, could fit 2-3 napping people.
    6. Neutrogena SPF 100 Sunblock Spray:  yep, high SPF still exists and now in the form of a convenient spray!
    7. Eos SPF 15 Lip Balm  
    8. Hand sanitizer
    9. P-mates:  if porta potties gross you out as much as they gross me out (I've gone all 3 days without using them) then these are a precious commodity.  They look weird, but they work.  I've used them in Tibet and China where a hole in the ground is considered a toilet...
    10. American Apparel Thigh High Socks:  I tend to wear shorts during the day, so these are nice and warm for nighttime desert temps.  
    11. Bandana:  for the dusty walk to and from parking / shuttle and a little extra warmth for the cold nights.
    12. Fjallraven Totepack:  you have to have a bag to throw all this stuff in.  This tote bag converts into a backpack, which is great when you want to be hands-free while dancing.
    13. Comfortable shoes:  my black Converse are my go-to, but if you're old like me you might also want a cushy, lightweight sneaker, like the Nike Air Pegasus 83 (if I have to wear sneakers I like them retro), for the next day when your feet are in pain from Day 1.  

    Bands I would check out: