Titanium and Young and Beautiful - Looping Cello version

My latest looping cello video is some improvisation I did featuring themes from "Titanium" and "Young and Beautiful." Check it out!

'A Most Violent Year' Video Review


I really enjoyed J.C. Chandor's latest film, A Most Violent Year. I hated Margin Call but loved All Is Lost. It's been really amazing to witness Chandor's growth as a filmmaker and discover how each one of his movies is so different from the others.

All About That Bass - Looping Cello Version


I was so concerned with whether or not I could, I didn't stop to think if I should...

For more of my videos, go to DaveChenMusic.com.

My 15 Favorite Longreads of 2014

This past year has totally revitalized my "reading life." For the first time in many years, I've read entire books (not just longform pieces online) and it feels great. I've also discovered a love for Audible, which is fantastic if you choose works that are performed well.

All that being said, I thought was still worth sharing my favorite online longreads of the year, as I have in years past. Here they are, in reverse chronological order:

Justine Sacco Is Good at Her Job, and How I Came to Peace with Her  - Sam Biddle tells a personal, self-deprecating story of how the person beyond your computer whose life you're raging against online is likely a well-balanced, real human being. The internet destroys people's lives on a daily basis, often for no good reason. This piece is a good reminder of how senseless it all can be. There are a ton of quotes from this piece that I am going to return back to from time to time, including, "She knew the only divine truth of the internet: Do nothing. Never tweet. Never apologize. Never say anything at all. Be an inert bundle of molecules and let the world tear itself apart around you."

The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis - Jonathan Rauch explains some of the biological foundations of the "midlife crisis" and how to set yourself up for mid-life and late-life success.

I Regret Reporting My Female Boss for Sexual Harassment - Tana Yeşil describes, with great regret, an incident in which she had to make an incredibly difficult decision and the toll it took on her and her boss.

Big Sugar's Sweet Little Lies - The sugar industry has been trying to convince you that it's not killing you for many years. Gary Taubes and Cristin Kearns Couzens break down how we got here.

Amazon, Publishers, and Readers - Clay Shirky, a professor who I've been fortunate enough to be a student of, always puts out some of my favorite pieces, and this year was no different. Here, he explains why Amazon will win any dispute against publishers in the long term: because it has a vision for the future.

The Price of Blackness - Lanre Akinsiku describes the psychological toll of being black in a country that has seen numerous high profile cases this year of young unarmed black men shot and killed by police with no repercussions.

17 Things I Learned from Working on Other People's Films - It's been an enormous pleasure this year for me to get to know local talented filmmaker Megan Griffiths (you can listen to a /Filmcast episode we recorded together here). This piece on 17 things she's learned during her time as a filmmaker was useful for me to have, as someone who's in the process of making my own film this year. I've also enjoyed her writing on her personal blog as well.

The Greatest Story Never Told - I didn't even remember that Passion of the Christ was supposed to have a sequel until I read this gripping piece by Luke Dittrich. Apparently, there are pretty good reasons why it never happened!

The Trials of Entertainment Weekly - Few people write as intelligently about pop culture as Anne Helen Peterson. As someone who used to read EW quasi-religiously (before the rise of fan blogs like /Film), I found this to be a fascinating journey through the magazine's history that also functions as a commentary on the state of the publishing industry at large today.

The Day I Started Lying to Ruth - This is one of the few articles I've ever read that have made me openly weep. Peter B. Bach, a cancer doctor, describes his last days with his wife. That last paragraph will likely haunt me for the rest of my life.

How to Write - Heather Havrilesky has been one of my favorite writers on the internet for at least 7-8 years now, and this piece demonstrates why. I won't say anything more about it, except that it is delightful.

Amanda, @TrappedAtMyDesk on Twitter, Dies, Age Unknown - Content goes viral every day, but often, it's not real. Jennifer Mendelsohn dives deep into the existence (or lack thereof) of Twitter user @TrappedAtMyDesk, whose death was repackaged into a viral video earlier this year.

Street Fighter: The Movie - What Went Wrong - Absolutely hilarious and unfortunate story by Chris Plante (fast becoming one of my favorite internet personalities - see his video essay on the racism in Gremlins here). Street Fighter: The Movie needs its own Lost in La Mancha-style documentary.

The Prophet - Unfortunately, this piece by Luke Dittrich (his second entry on my list this year!) is no longer available for free. However, the way it explores the background of Eben Alexander (author of Proof of Heaven) is fascinating and revealing. I was particularly interested in how the piece described Alexander's own reaction to the forthcoming the piece itself that Dittrich was working on as he interviewed him. It's rare to get a peek behind the curtain like that in these features.

Almost Everything in Dr. Strangelove Was True - Eric Schlosser describes in excruciating detail how the events of Dr. Strangelove easily could've happened.

Adele's Someone Like You - Cello Version


There are roughly 8,291 covers of Adele's "Someone Like You" on YouTube. So I thought to myself, I should definitely make one of these!

The Top 10 Films of 2014


I really enjoyed counting down my top 10 films of 2014 with Jeff and Devindra on the /Filmcast. Check it out here! My list itself is below:

1. The Babadook
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
3. Birdman
4. Nightcrawler
5. The Raid 2: Berandal
6. Gone Girl
7. Under the Skin
8. Blue Ruin
9. Edge of Tomorrow
10. Grand Budapes Hotel

O Holy Night - Cello Version


I put together this cello rendition of "O Holy Night" in the hopes of bringing everyone some Christmas cheer. This video is dedicated to my mother, Marilyn, who gave me the gift of music. Can't wait to see the whole Chen family in Seattle in a few days!

This is my first cello video using pre-recorded loops. I liked how it turned out although the arrangement is very simple - hopefully I'll be able to play with some more complex rhythms in the future. Find the rest of my looping cello videos at DaveChenMusic.com.

I hope everyone has a happy holiday season this year. To those who've read this blog and supported my endeavors, you have my gratitude.

What 'Serial' Was Really About

As most-popular-podcast-of-all-time "Serial" finally comes to a conclusion, there've been a lot of pieces written to try and figure out what did this all mean? Many were disappointed with the show for a variety of reasons - this is natural, as any show that is so insanely popular is going to experience intense scrutiny.

One of my favorite writers, Jay Caspain Kang, wrote what was, to me, a fairly unconvincing piece about the show's "White reporter privilege." Justine Elias chided the show for being "slack and meandering."

But what I really appreciated was Sarah Larson's piece for The New Yorker on this topic:

Episode twelve conclusively proved that what we’ve been listening to is not a murder mystery: it’s a deep exploration of the concept of reasonable doubt, and therefore an exposé, if unwittingly so, of the terrible flaws in our justice system. Those among us who deign to be jurors, and don’t try to wriggle out of jury duty, too often don’t understand reasonable doubt, or can’t convince fellow-jurors about what it truly means. We convict people who haven’t been proved guilty because we feel that they are guilty. We feel that they’re guilty in part because they’re sitting in a courtroom having been accused of a terrible crime. In cases like this, the burden often ends up on proving the accused’s innocence—not innocent until proven guilty. And Adnan Syed is just the tip of the iceberg.

Even if the show doesn't accomplish anything in the legal case of Adnan Syed, and even despite its other potential flaws, "Serial" has highlighted some of the systemic flaws in our justice system to an audience of millions of people. For that reason alone, it deserves our praise.

Maverick was a phony

Right around when LA Weekly's Amy Nicholson was releasing her biography of Tom Cruise, we discussed how she might go about promoting it. Typically, an author will make appearances on podcasts or do Q&A's with various publications. I pitched the idea of a video essay instead, and Amy happily obliged.

Unfortunately, I got mired down in random things like a sinus surgery and completion of The Primary Instinct. But I was able to scrape together some time this month to finally put this together and give it the attention it deserves. 

I don't always agree with Nicholson, but I always find her viewpoints interesting and thought-provoking. I hope you will too.

Seattle Urban Craft Uprising 2014


I haven't been shooting enough recently. 

Between my full-time job, the new cello videos, and finishing up work on the film, and all the podcasting, it's been tough to find the time and will to get out there and do some photography. Thus, I decided to head to the Urban Craft Uprising today with my Canon 5D Mark III and a 50mm f/1.4 lens. I've been shooting a lot with the GH4 recently, but despite how convenient, portable, and fun that camera is to use, I occasionally crave the beauty of full-frame. 

It was pretty great seeing all the cool things that craftspeople from the Pacific Northwest came up with. Pro tip for these situations, by the way: Artists really appreciate it when you ask for permission to take photos. It's their livelihood you're dealing with, and they're graciously giving you control of how it's presented to the world. Tread carefully. 

Thanks to artists such as Clarissa Callesen and many others for allowing me to photograph their work today. You can find all the photos the photos from this set right here

[Side note: This photo set was made using VSCO's new Film Pack 06, their Cross Process collection.]