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Soda Bar anniversary, N. Scott Momaday and Coronado Island Film Fest

 November 9, 2023 at 1:41 PM PST

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on Kpbs. There's much to talk about on the arts and culture scene here in San Diego. I'm Jade Hindman. Here's the conversations that keep you informed , inspired , and make you think. San Diego's soda bar is celebrating 15 years. We'll hear from one of the co-owners.

S2: Soda bar , at this point is really like a club that's like run by musicians for the most part.

S1: Plus , author Scott Mamadi shares his cultural experience of living on a reservation , and Beth Accomando speaks with filmmaker H.P. Mendoza about his movie on grief and loss. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Welcome in San Diego , it's Jade Hindman. Our arts and culture show takes us to Soda Bar , where 15 years of putting local indie bands on stage is being celebrated. Then we'll talk to an author showcasing the diverse cultures of Native American people. Then a filmmaker explores grief and pain in a new movie. This is Midday Edition , connecting our communities through conversation. A beloved small music venue is celebrating a new milestone this Saturday. Soda bar is kicking off its 15th anniversary with a concert that will feature San Diego bands ranging from pop punk to progressive and indie rock. Corey Steer is the talent buyer and booker for Soda Bar. He's also a co-owner , and nope , he's also a co-owner of the venue. He joins us now to talk about the upcoming concert and what this milestone means to San Diego's music community. Corey , welcome. Hi.

S2: Hi. Thanks for having me.

S1: So glad you're here with us. So let's start with the anniversary concert.

S2: And you can expect , you know , it's a it's an indie rock show. It's a special night for us. They're all really close friends of mine. So yeah , I'm just so stoked that it came together. Awesome.

S1: Awesome.

S2: So I would say even like the song , it's called Atoms Smash.

UU: I think when sound got pushed away. Oh. Nothing more. Drink , drink. Take my time. Drink , drink , take my time. In the sky and the wind in the sky. Waiting for my life in. Smash.

S2: It's the first song on their debut record. It's just like indie rock , like jam. You know , they're one of my favorite bands , like , ever out of San Diego. So crashes.

S3: Into me.

UU: I'm lifted from my thrashing string.


S2: And it was initially owned by the same owners of Blue Foot that's in North Park. It was just like , kind of like a sports bar kind of music. They didn't really know what they were doing. And then eventually we just kind of went full on music , maybe 2 to 3 years into it. I became one of the owners , and we've just been doing the same thing ever since. Great.

S1: Great. And you've you've been booking talent at Soda Bar for more than a decade , right ? Right.

S2: Yes. It has been a while. It's been like 13 , 14 years. Something like that. Yeah.

S4: Yeah.


S2: Then that got into like , okay , how can I do this going forward , you know , and make it my job ? And so I thought , well , I might as well just book shows here and , you know , do that.

S1: And you don't just , you know , book bands. Like you said , you're a musician yourself and have been in a couple of bands like cults , which is an indie pop band , and you were also part of whether box , who will be performing at Saturday's concert.


S2: Yeah.

S4: Yeah.

S2: I did play with Weather Box for a couple of years and and it was amazing. Like , Brian Warren is a good friend of mine. He's he's the lead singer. He he is weather box and yeah , I mean I loved it. And as far as you know , the other bands that I played with , it's kind of just been a progression from , you know , one to the next , you know , misses magician cults. I still do , you know , play here and there , but booking shows and running this club is kind of my full time gig now. Yeah.

S1: Yeah.


UU: That's what they all do.

S2: It's it's kind of like a pop ballad. Every time we play it , like , you know , the crowd would go crazy. So it was. Yeah , that's probably my favorite song.

UU: That's not my my home. Right.


S2: It was totally crucial. You know , we got to play like so many venues , like small ones , you know , all the way up to theatres like through the years. And so I really got a sense of how venues run and , you know , how to do things right. And then to also see how things are done incorrectly. So , you know , like soda bar at this point is really like a club that's like run by musicians for the most part. So yes. Yeah.

S4: Yeah. Right.

S1: Right. And you know , the acts of course , again , range from up and coming bands to more established artists.

S2: We work with a lot of booking agents and so , you know , we really trust them and lean on them for , you know , like for any of the national acts that come through , as far as , you know , local bands , they're super essential. We just listen to a lot of music. You know , we just try to book the bands that we that we tend to like , you know , indie rock bands , electronic bands. We kind of booked the whole spectrum. And.

S4: And.

S1: This has been a really strange and difficult few years for live music and nightlife.

S2: You know , getting back to work after having , you know , almost a year and a half off , it has been it's been good. 2021 was strange. 2022 was really big. Like everybody went out to shows like it was probably our biggest year ever. And this year has been kind of up and down.


S2: You know , I talked to Tim often , and you know , they just they're like , top of the line , you know ? I think they're doing really well. I think some of the other venues , it's kind of up and down like as far as , you know , just people like having the money to go out and spend on entertainment. I think sometimes they have to be more selective because things are just more expensive now. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. And I would imagine you do a lot of coordinating with other venues and musicians.

S2: It's it's the never ending , you know , work's never done because of that. We're constantly , you know , booking , you know , show advancing , promoting , marketing. You know , it's just like a every day. It's a hustle.

S4: You know.

S1: It's it's been notoriously difficult to get tickets to big shows nowadays , as I'm sure you know.

S2: So I think that people are going to the smaller clubs a little bit less than they used to.

S1: And , you know , you've probably booked thousands of shows by now. And it isn't just the soda bar that you've booked at. You're presenting at other venues too.

S2: And they're from here in San Diego. We had them do a residency right before the pandemic. It was like January 2020 , and then through the pandemic , they just grew , got gigantic , and it's just been such a pleasure to watch them just get to the top of the ladder at this point.

S1: Yeah , yeah. And tell me about that. You know , because getting to the top of the ladder can be tough in particular for some of the local bands.

S2: It's like as a band , you just kind of have to like , you know , consistently put out music and like consistently create content and you just kind of put it out there into the ether and then it just kind of sticks or it doesn't. And so you can be super talented and it not work out. Or , you know , I feel like there's some sort of luck involved because there's been so many great bands over the years that I've been , you know , fortunate to work with or just see who just haven't made it. But there's been other ones who , you know , equally as great and they just completely took off. So there's kind of almost no rhyme or reason to some of that. It's it's just. Very strange , but I think that if you just continue to stay at it , you know , hopefully people will come around and find you. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. And what role does Ella play in this ? I'm curious , since we're so close.

S2: So then you won't have as many people. Yeah.

S1: Yeah.

S2: Yeah.

S1: Yeah.

S2: That's always been a challenge. Even more so today. You know , it's expensive for everybody. So. Yeah , I'm not sure. I think that that's that's something to keep an eye on moving forward , especially since it seems like rents are at an all time high. Um , you know , I hope , you know , artists here aren't looking to move , but if they are , I would fully understand.


S2: And then in turn , you know , trying to build an audience from the ground level. So the biggest challenge for us is to get the word out about us. And then the bands to college kids , people who , you know , young people who are interested in going out later at night. And so the biggest challenge is really just the amount of people , you know , like in the city who are into that sort of thing.

S1: And , you know , you mention young people coming out to more shows. How is the audience changing , you think ? I'm sure social media is a big part of bringing awareness and bringing eyes to the music scene. Yeah.

S4: Yeah.

S2: I mean , social media is really the place where you're able to like market. You know , unfortunately , we lost the city beat , which I felt was pretty crucial to like , you know , the local music scene as far as them showcasing , you know , different artists every week. They really I felt like the city did a lot for San Diego music and not having like a weekly beat like that has been difficult for , you know , at least marketing and advertising. Yeah.

S4: Yeah.



S2: Found I think we found a really cool niche at this point. I feel like we've established ourselves. You know , we're very similar to Casbah in the way of , you know , the type of bands that we book. And also , you know , they are partners of ours. So I think that we've we've done a good job at getting our name out there and creating a , a fun experience for people.

S4: Mm hmm.


S2: Yeah , there's not really a as far as , like , you know , expanding or anything. It's just kind of like a daily hustle of what we're doing now.

S4: All right.

S1: Well do your thing then. I've been speaking with Corey Steer , booker and co-owner of Soda Bar. Their 15th anniversary concert will take place this Saturday , November 11th at 7:30 p.m. tickets are $12. Corey , thanks so much for joining us.

S2: Thank you.

S1: Coming up , we'll hear from an author whose words paint a vivid picture of his life on a reservation and the culture of his Native American tribe.

S5: We have so many different cultures , and now many of them are coming to the Ford. We're understanding more and more about Native America , and that's important.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. Welcome back. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman , Native American author. In Scott , mama has celebrated the traditions of his Kiowa ancestry in his prose , poetry , essays and playwriting for more than six decades. His 1968 novel House made of Dawn made him the first indigenous author to win a Pulitzer Prize. It led to a breakthrough for Native American literature into mainstream recognition. I spoke with Scott Mamadi earlier this year ahead of his appearance at Point Loma Nazarene University's Writers Symposium by the Sea in February. I started by asking about how his spiritual connection to the land impacted him and influenced his writing. Here's that conversation.

S5: I grew up on Indian reservations in the southwest , and that's become an important subject for me. So the influence has been very great.

S1: An oral tradition and storytelling plays a major role in the preservation of native culture.



S5: So that experience has been very valuable to me.

S1: I wonder how you connect with your Kiowa ancestry through writing.

S5: Well , as a matter of fact , I'm writing now about the prehistory of the Kiowa tribe from I'm dealing with their migration from the far north. And of course , there are no written records of that. So I'm having to use the oral tradition as best I can and use my imagination.


S5: But that's the primary challenge , I think. And I'm doing that. But it's it does take work and it comes slowly.

S4: You were awarded.

S1: The Pulitzer Prize for your 1968 novel House maid of Dawn.

S5: The prize came as a complete surprise to me. I wasn't expecting it , didn't know I'd been nominated. And so it was a very important thing in my life. It changed my life in certain , in certain ways. But it's , you know , the question is , how did it how did I feel about it ? How did it come to me ? I got a call from my editor at Harper and Rowe , as it was called at the time , and she said , Scott , are you sitting down ? And I said , yeah , I wasn't really , but I said , I was. And she said , you've won the Pulitzer Prize. And I said , yeah , tell me , come on , I'm busy. Fran , don't bother me. Took awhile for it to sink in. And when it did , it was wonderful.

S1: And your book , House maid of Dawn. It's been described as the beginning of the Native American literary renaissance. Did you intend for your work to open the door for other writers ? No.

S5: My intention was to write a book and and to write it. Not for anyone in particular , but just for the sake of writing. So Ken Lincoln , who who had a book , published a book entitled Native American Renaissance , gave me credit for starting something there. And I think it's true that that there are two books that come to mind. House made of Dawn and and Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee , which came out about the same time. Those two books were very influential in in calling attention to Native American writing.


S5: You know , the American Indian experience is really wonderful , wonderfully dramatic and full of good things , that is , things that are appropriate to the telling. And I think , you know , the Native American has always had to work against a language barrier that is slowly being overcome. So there are more and more now , native young lady American writers who are coming to into the spotlight. And that's a good thing. It'll continue to grow and it'll be an important part of American literature as it already is. I think it's in some ways , but it'll continue to grow.


S5: She , she there were always books in the house , and she was always telling me stories and reading things to me. And , and , and when I came of age suggesting things for me to read. So she was a major influence. And otherwise it's just something I wanted to do from the time I was eight years old or something like that.

S1: You've published both prose and poetry. Your poetry contains these raw , impressionistic descriptions of the native. Of American experience , while your prose blends memoir with folklore. I wonder if you can talk about how you approach writing differently with these two genres.

S5: Well , poetry to me is is the crown of literature. It's it's the best possible way to express yourself in language. So I consider myself a poet. I'd rather be a poet than a novelist or or anything else. It happens that I have dabbled in a lot of things. I've tried many forms. I've written plays and travel , literature , novels and poetry , of course. So , you know , it would be hard for me to to list them in , in the order of importance. But I do think that poetry is far and away the most important kind of writing for me.

S1: And you've been writing for more than six decades.

S5: It's changing constantly. And as I say , we're getting more and more Indian writers , Native American writers , and that's all to the good we have now. I'm no longer the only Pulitzer Prize winner and among Native Americans , and things are happening and it's a good thing.

S1: And as you know , San Diego is home to a number of different tribes , the experiences , traditions and art of which are also uniquely different.

S5: We're getting voices from all over the place , representing many different kinds of culture and experience , many different languages. So yes , diversity is crucial. And and we're still finding that out. That's going to be an important part of the literature.

S4: Now why do you.


S5: It's we've got so many different cultures and now many of them are coming to the Ford. We're understanding more and more about Native America , and that's important. There's an awful lot we don't know about , you know , early experiences before before contact , white Indian contact. But since then we've made great strides. We've been given citizenship for one thing , just to mention political aspect. And all kinds of different things have been coming to the fore. And we are beginning to appreciate them , to evaluate them and to understand where they where they belong. In our general experience , do you think.


S5: Yes. We you know , we are now plagued with fake news and and so on. So it's censorship has been a problem that we have had to deal with for , for a long time from the beginning.


S5: We haven't we haven't yet realized what what we can do with it , how how important it may be. But certainly it is important. And I think it will become more and more so as we go along , I hope.

S1: That was author in Scott Mohammadi speaking with me about his work and Native American literature. Coming up , Beth Accomando speaks with filmmaker H.P. Mendoza about his movie on grief and loss.

S6: This movie is grief release. We've all been packing it in and it's been pent up and we're just looking for excuses to let go.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. Welcome back. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. The Coronado Island Film Festival kicked off last night and will run through Sunday. One of the closing night events is an encore screening of The Secret Art of Human Flight , a comedy drama about grief and loss. Audiences are lucky to have a second opportunity to see this film after its Southern California premiere at the San Diego Asian Film Festival last weekend. Kpbs arts reporter Beth Accomando spoke with its director , H.P. Mendoza , about making the film. H.P..

S7: H.P.. You have a new film called The Secret Art of Human Flight , and this deals with a young man who has just lost his wife and is trying to overcome his grief. You had a very successful screening of this film at the San Diego Asian Film Festival recently , and since then it has gotten picked up by the Coronado Film Festival , and they will be screening it on Sunday. So San Diego audiences will have a second chance to see this. So give us a little background on how the film started.

S6: Well , this script came to me through Richard Wong , who is my oldest collaborator. We worked on Columbia the Musical together. He wanted to run. This script passed me called The Secret Art of Human Flight with Grant Rosen , who he had directed in Come As You Are. And I think he came clean and said , listen , I think this is kind of more your thing. And I said , well , what makes you think that ? He says , it's very genere. And I read it , and I remember one of my first thoughts was , this is a genre. All right. Like what ? What even is the genre like ? I can't really pin what the genre is. And I and I said , you know what this is ? This is pretty cool. What's your take ? He says , dude , I don't have a take. What do you think ? Do you think you'd want to direct this ? And I'm always looking for outs. You know , when people like give me opportunities , I'm always looking for outs for two specific reasons. The first reason being that everyone's busy , right ? Like , I'm always looking for free time. But the second is I'm also very insecure because I had never directed anything I hadn't written. I had only ever done cheapie independent films for queer people of color. And here I was , you know , getting the chance to direct Grant Rosen Mayer. And I said , okay , well , I have another out. This is a very quirky film about death and grief and loss , and I had just lost three friends in a row to Covid. This is smack dab in the middle of the pandemic. We were all losing people. I feel like these days , you know , while we're all in lockdown and we're all dealing with all kinds of horrible things that you scroll past during your insomnia at night , I don't know , I just kind of want to lean into authenticity a little bit , sort of the way that you had a bunch of people wanting some sincere Busby Berkeley numbers during the war. I think right now I kind of want to make something a little more authentic to how I feel. Yeah. By the time I said yes , we had planned to live with each other. Me , Grant and producer Tina Carbone were all living in that house that you see on set , and we were just figuring out , okay , so how do we make this film ? And we took off from there.

S7: Now this film deals with death and grief and trying to work through that grief , but it's a film that is remarkably funny also.

S6: I thought , well , we're all going through something right now , but I never want to be the death guy. I don't want to walk into a room and say , hey , everybody , let's commiserate about how horrible the world is. I will always attack everything with humor. So it's not I'm not making fun of anything. I think I'm honoring real feelings , but in that way that you know you're going to be okay when you're at a funeral and somebody cracks the first joke. I mean , the movie opens with a wake. It opens with a shiva. And within like three minutes , people are laughing and I'm thinking , you know , if people laugh within those first 3 to 5 minutes , then we're doing something right.

S8: Tell me what you're feeling. Bad. You feel bad. Reveal.

S9: Reveal. Bad.

S8: That's good. It's good that you feel bad.

S7: And what was it like making this film coming out of the pandemic ? I mean , it was hard to kind of get back into filmmaking and to kind of hit that groove again.

S6: I mean , it still is hard. And maybe that's because we haven't really lifted out of a pandemic , and we were smack dab in the middle of it. So we had to have a Covid officer. We all stayed in the summer camp. You know , we took over all the cabins. So we had that was our Covid bubble. The script kind of lent itself to that kind of filmmaking , because for as aspirational as the film is , really , they're never really more than two people on screen at one time. And I think what's great about this is we were all kind of pouring our hearts into this. Lucy DeVito was pouring her heart as Paul Raci was pouring his heart into this. Speaking of which , by the way , the day before Paul Raci showed up on set , we had just gotten everything into place , and I got a call from my mom and it was like the last thing I expected to hear. My mom calls , she says , HP or your dad died. And I thought to myself , boy , now I'm the death guy. You know , like , I just , I don't want to make things heavy , but I wasn't the only one going through this. And then I also had to think when this film comes out , we'll be showing it to people who also were going through something similar. So I part of my 30% rewrite was I wanted to have that monologue in there , where the lead character says , I just don't know what's happening in the world anymore. That would be a line that could resonate with anybody , no matter where they are right now.

S7: Well , I think one of the things that came up after the screening at the Asian Film Festival was this idea of grief release.

S6: It reminded me of those movies from the 90s that were all about flight. You had like Radio Flyer , and there were these stories about flight that really were not about flight. They were about something else. They were all about release. So what's interesting is that Liz Raci , who is Paul Raci , his wife , came up with this idea or this phrase that this movie is grief release. We've all been packing it in and it's been pent up and we're just looking for excuses to let go.

S7: Well , and since you brought him up , Paul races character is a very interesting. He's kind of ill defined and is left for you to figure out whether he's a con man , a genuine mystic who knows but talk a little bit about his character.

S6: Well , I love that you said that his character's ill defined , right ? We kept designing him to be that way. Like with every day that passed.


S6: I said , we need like a Paul Raci type. Someone who can , you know , who has that edge but could be a guru , but could also not be someone with gravitas who could pull off this and the humor.

S10: Where you're about to do what I've already done. Defies everything we've been conditioned to believe is possible. Once upon a time , the earth was flat. The sun orbited around us and CPR was done with a tobacco enema.

S6: And one of the things I said is that I would love for this movie to be as ambiguous as possible. I think , like the obvious and easiest way to make like the ambiguous character is to make him someone that vacillates between being evil and benevolent. And then finally , there's that three quarter mark in the movie where he becomes completely evil. And then there's the redemption , you know ? And that's not not this movie. But I thought to myself , well , it has to be a little bit deeper than that. And the way you make it deeper is by removing words. Right ? I said , let's make him say less. And I got to rewrite some of , like the guru speak to be a little more ridiculously eastern. You know , a lot of it kind of feels like stuff that you would you don't know if it came from a self-help book or a fortune cookie. And I love that Paul can just sell it. So with every day that passed , Paul would say , like , I don't know if I would say it this way or I don't even know who I am right now.

S10: These tasks are your pots and pans. You're your oven. Yeah , I get it.



S6: In the prices of him figuring out who Mealworm was. We were also figuring out who mealworm what Mealworm meant to Ben , the lead character. And I think that really did add to the sense of danger. Right ? Because I think the one thing that everybody thought was , this will be like elf or this will be like any of those movies where you have like the straight man whose life is invaded by the wacky guy. And I'm thinking , yeah , he's wacky , but he should also feel threatening because this is a deathly movie.

S7: Well , one of the things that I really liked and something I could really identify with , which is Ben's just lost his wife and his wife's friend comes over and her advice to him.

S12: You need to find a thing. Something , anything can be mundane or.

UU: It can be insane. But.

S12: You just need to find a thing and see it through. Okay.

S11: Find the thing and see it through.

S12: Find a thing and see it through.

S6: And what's great is that wasn't actually the line that was written. Maggie Grace showed up on set , and she knew everything that I'd been through. And she knew things that had been happening to people on set because we were all talking about it so openly and just being able to sit with Maggie Grace and talking about this , you know. You know , she was talking about her losses and we were all talking about our losses , and we were all talking about how , you know , the only way out is through. Yeah. The idea that the only way out is through is accepting that , that there is another side to this. Right. So in the meantime , do something else. And that's when I think , just between me , Maggie , Grace and Grant , we were just sitting there on the porch and trying to figure out exactly what should that last line of that scene be , because , remember , it's the last line of the scene. And so that's how you remember it. And it ended up becoming pick a thing and see it through. Sometimes these things that may seem cliché end up resonating in a viewer's mind. May be decades later , right ? Like , if you are too cool for school , you might watch that scene and say like , oh yeah , sure , whatever. That's probably out of some self-help book. You know , Oprah probably said that. But when you get there , when you experience your loss and you do pick that thing and you see it through , hopefully it'll resonate.

S7: This film also has a San Diego connection in the sense of how you got some funding for this.

S6: Yeah , in more ways than one or more people than one. The main person whose presence we were celebrating at the San Diego Asian Film Festival was Steve Alexander , who lives in Coronado. And the other person was Steve Wagner , who's a producer on the film , who's from San Diego. So it was really nice to have him be on stage and address , like his community , who was all there. That was that was really nice because Steve Alexander is somebody who always wanted to make a film. You know , one thing he said was as much as he liked the magic of movies , he knew that he had the resources to make it. So that way he can just give somebody a top hat , a magic wand and a rabbit. Could they make magic ? Not necessarily. And he. No , he couldn't. He knew he couldn't either. So this was his in with his resources to get that hat in that one. And that rabbit , he made it happen. You know , he he he and he and he showed up on set. So yeah , we're super grateful that Steve Alexander was one of the people who got to bring this movie to life.

S7: And you mentioned that you guys moved into a house to shoot.

S6: This is this is weird because I feel like I don't know if it's any different from what I'm used to. Like the first time I directed Fruit Fly was like , that entire film takes place in three bars , a nightclub , a smoking patio and an apartment. And all of those locations were my apartment , so. And and it's where I live now , and everything I've done has been in locations that I've known. The difference now was it was a location. So I think the innovative thing for the team was , hey , isn't that cool that we get to move into this location beforehand ? And I'm thinking , yeah , the only difference is that , like , we're paying rent for this now , as opposed to this being my actual apartment. So it didn't feel any different from like previous films , I had done it just , you know , there's just , you know , we're still raising money. There's just like ten times more of it. Like , this movie could have funded all of my films twice. So all of these things felt like innovations of the day. But really it was just it was textbook guerrilla filmmaking.

S7: And how would you describe this film to people ? Because you mentioned the idea of genre , but it's a film that kind of crosses genres , mixes genre , bends , whatever you want to call it.

S13: Yeah , right. Oh yeah.

S6: I mean , oh boy , what do we say ? What do we say ? Because , you know , we do have to have an answer. Like the easy thing that we have been saying is , oh , it's a comedy , comedy , drama , fantasy. And after a while when people would say , like , you know , is this a horror film ? Is this a joke ? Is this a comedy ? What is this ? The answer was just yes. You know , whatever you think it is in the moment , it's that. Because the truth is , if you just say it's a comedy drama , that's that's fitting. But there are some supernatural elements to it and there are some really trippy things to it. And I think instead of saying that this is a genre film , I like to saying that it's a comedy drama because there are some people who probably would never watch a genre film that will get introduced to elements like that for the first time.

S7: It is hard to find adjectives to describe your film because it feels unique. But there's also something that comedy doesn't quite cover , which is this sense of like whimsy. There's something that's. Indescribable and just kind of surprising. Also like unexpected turns.

S6: It's true because The secret Art of Human Flight I don't think it's a laugh out loud comedy. I think it's funny. Yeah , the whimsy that makes people chuckle or laugh isn't necessarily comedic. Right ? Like I think a lot of this is it's a kind of unexpected lightness that you wouldn't expect to feel amongst all of that death. So yeah , I think , yeah , thank you for that. I'm going to take that from you and I'll , I'll attribute it to you. But I think , I think you kind of gave me the language to talk about that now.

S13: Well , it , it.

S7: Also has and it also has a real sweetness to it because there's a sadness to it. It's like this aching sweetness where you really feel you like these characters so much , and there's a real appeal to them , but yet you feel their pain too. Yeah.

S6: Yeah. You know what's funny ? That sweetness that you're talking about. I think that's something I've always been trying to imbue into all of my films ever since comedy , the Musical. Because when I did comedy Musical in 2006 , I was working with Rich Wong , who's like one of my oldest friends , and we went to college together. And one thing we always talked about was how irony can be tiresome. And the one thing that I always wanted to make sure is that for as much irony as there was in Columbia The Musical , I wanted to make sure there was as much sincerity to someone accused me of being the kind of writer who just will do anything to make you feel good. I'm like , is that so bad ? Like , is that so bad ? Then don't watch my movie if you want to feel bad. And I feel like the secret out of human flight already had that baked in. And so what I did was because I gave all the actors , like , free rein to play with lines like , I would always ask each actor , I'm like , does that feel right coming out of your mouth ? And often they'd say , it does to an extent. Can I can I tweak it a bit ? And like every actor , I got a chance to tweak it to what they needed to make it feel authentic to who they are. And I thought that the only lens I wanted to give them was like , you know , I just want to make sure that there's a there's an authentic sweetness the way people treat each other. Because now I feel like this neighborhood , this story lends itself to it.

S7: All right. Well , I want to thank you very much for talking about the Secret Art of Human Flight.

S6: Thank you for having me on.

S1: That was Beth Accomando speaking with filmmaker H.P. Mendoza. His film , The Secret Art of Human Flight will screen Sunday as part of the Coronado Island Film Festival. We want to thank you for listening and giving us your feedback. Here's what one listener had to say about our show earlier this week on the historical trauma behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Quote , this discussion is the best I've heard or read so far on the current war. They went on to thank the two professors we interviewed for , quote , conducting themselves with restraint and courtesy for candidly detailing the Jewish and Palestinian histories , viewpoints , and traumas while still listening compassionately to each other. End quote. Thanks for your feedback and for listening. Our phone lines are always open. Give us a call (619) 452-0228. Leave a message or you can email us at midday at We'd love to share your ideas here on the show. The roundtable is here tomorrow at noon and you'll hear from military reporters on veterans issues.

S14: We're really lucky in this area here because there's so much of the military military influence kind of in the fabric of our community.

S1: That's tomorrow at noon. Don't forget to watch Evening Edition tonight at five , and you can always find the Midday Edition podcast on all platforms , thanks to the team who makes this show happen every day. Producers Giuliana Domingo , Brooke Ruth , Andrew Bracken , Laura McCaffrey and Ariana Clay , contributors Beth Accomando and Julia Dixon Evans , and technical producer Rebecca Chacon. The music you're hearing is from San Diego's own Surefire Soul Ensemble. I'm your host , Jade Hindman. Thanks to all of the veterans for your service. Have a great weekend.

Soda Bar, a live music venue and bar in City Heights, is shown in an undated photo.
Cory Stier
Soda Bar, a live music venue and bar in San Diego, is shown in an undated photo.

The small music venue Soda Bar is kicking off its 15th anniversary with a special indie rock concert. Booker and co-owner Cory Stier joined Midday Edition to talk about Soda Bar's place in the San Diego music community.

Plus, trailblazing Native American author N. Scott Momaday sat down with Midday Edition earlier this year to talk about his career and influences. We revisit that conversation.

And KPBS Cinema Junkie Beth Accomando spoke with filmmaker H.P. Mendoza about his latest movie, "The Secret Art of Human Flight," which will have an encore screening at the Coronado Island Film Festival.


  • Cory Stier, booker and co-owner of Soda Bar
  • N. Scott Momaday, author
  • H.P. Mendoza, director of "The Secret Art of Human Flight"