NPR's Tiny Desk Conert is the place to get music

A few good Tiny Desk sets.

NPR Music has a series named Tiny Desk Concerts, which is one of my favorites places to listen to music.

The artists play their songs in NPR’s small, cramped office, where the artists’ raw talents shine in the incredibly intimate sets.

I looked through the Tiny Desk Concert playlist on YouTube, and was again amazed with the collection of artists Bob Boilen and his team have gathered to their workspace.

Here are a few good Tiny Desk sets, in no particular order:


The Avett Brothers

Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros


Kishi Bashi

Lowland Hum from Greensboro :)

I seriously can’t do the series justice by posting a few videos on this blog. So please do yourself a favor, go through this playlist, and find your faves.

Manzai and conto in the US.

In Japan, there are two popular forms of live comedy: manzai(漫才) and conto(コント).

A real quick overview of some Japanese comedy terms:

Manzai (漫才): A standup act usually performed by two people. One is the boke, and the other is the tsukkomi(see below).

Conto (コント): A skit performed to tell stories to make people laugh. Derived from the French word conte, which means tale.

Boke (ボケ): A verb and a noun. As a verb, it is when the comedian does or says something funny. As a noun, the comedian tasked with the boke role. The joke can also be referred to as the boke.

Tsukkomi (ツッコミ): Again, a verb and a noun. As a verb, it is when the comedian interjects and hits the boke when the boke does a boke(I know, super confusing). The comedian tasked with the tsukkomi role is referred to as the tsukkomi.

Many Japanese comedians perform a mix of both manzai and conto.

I just saw a standup set on the Tonight Show which reminded me a lot of the Japanese standup style.

Here it is:

While the boke-tsukkomi relationship was lacking, the conto-style storytelling in the end reminded me of some good ol’ Japanese standup. I thought the set was quite funny, too. Naturally, the bros had good chemistry.

I haven’t watched a good Japanese standup set in a while. Time to dig into one of my favorite pastimes of high school.

Here’s a classic from a brother duo from Japan, the Nakagawas(中川家).


Over the years, in classic halfsie fashion, I’ve coined my own words when English became a bit too cumbersome.

Here are five Alexisms you should use now (some may be borrowed/stolen from others):

Ridiculous: Ridikilik. (It rolls off the tongue.)

Hilarious: Hilayray. (I have a feeling I stole this one.)

Redundant: Redundun. (A word that is what it means.)

Dumb people: Dumbos. (Inspired by the ear-flying elephant.)

Past-tense of sneeze: Snuz. (The most unsatisfying word to say. The key is to not add an “ed” at the end.)

Maybe one day, one of these words will make it to Oxford dictionary’s word of the year.

Now that would be ridikilik.

I know there are many other words I made up and use freely like a dumbo, so I will add them to this list as they come to me.

Let’s get crafty.

I’m not one to follow every whiff of trend that blows my way.

I never got any ear rings, I never got any tattoos, and I didn’t know what Lady Gaga was for a couple years.

I do, however, like the trend of people taking pride in being crafty and others appreciating the extra dose of craftiness.

You see it in Etsy, the booming craft beer industry and the artisan coffee scene.

I’m totally caught up in this trend.

Take making coffee for instance. Rather than just pushing a button without a thought as to how the coffee is made, I love going through each process manually, knowing what I do has a direct impact on the flavor I bring out. I am fascinated by the whole process and hope to learn more.

Pillows used to be something I bought once a decade. Now, they’re cute, fluffy things Jess makes with some fabric and a sewing machine.

I welcome this trend of craftiness. I think it’s great that people are getting their hands dirty and taking ownership over the things they make and consume. I really like the idea of infusing a little more humanity into everyday things. When I hand-grind the beans and make pour-over coffee, I invest a little bit of myself into that pot.

Take it from my friend Bay, who takes pride in every drip of coffee he crafts for his customers. If you’re in Chiang Mai, check out Bay’s Cafe. He makes great coffee.