Thursday, June 22, 2017

Best Before September 22 



This summer playlist has been inspired mostly by film and television. Everything here appeared in or was inspired by either Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Master of None, High Maintenance or Halt and Catch Fire. There has been plenty written about the Master of None soundtrack and its music supervisor Zach Cowie so I won’t retread that worn tire. Six of these tunes play a part in Master of None (marked MON) so I guess it was really on my mind and in that sense Cowie did most of the work for me. Don’t worry it sticks to the summer themes: love, loss, regret, hook-ups, lust, easy-going day dreaming, youth and so on.



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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Re-Overthinking Design


Another new concept phone slated for the heap of disposable ideas, image via abduzeedo.com

There's just one problem with this concept of a Digital Detox Phone - who needs a phone? I don't. The biggest problem I have with Canadian service providers is they are giving away talk time and long distance minutes as if it means something to me, but it doesn't. I need data. Data drives everything I do on a mobile device. The cost of talk and long distance minutes has reached the point where having a landline is meaningless (it's been that way for years). I get no value from extra talk time. My primary use for my mobile device is everything but talking. I regularly call my mom. That's it. The only other calls I get are from telemarketers, who I then block.

So why even come up with a new concept for a flip phone as a way to "digitally detox"? I don't have a better or more personal or more magical connection with people by voice than by text. A redux of a pager would make more sense to me than redesigning a flip phone, mostly because you can still buy any number of small (smaller than this design), affordable flip phones. I realize that 3D rendering apps plus the Internet have become fertile ground for any number of concepts, which is great but the fact that sometimes these ideas (which again, are all fun and great and exploratory etc) get enough traction to be posted, and reposted and shared until they show up in my newsfeed shows a profound lack of critical thinking. Let me expand on this.
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Seen in… May 


Aziz Ansari and friend in Master of None Season 2

In a month that began with Hot Docs Film Festival I watched exactly three movies, only one of which was a documentary. So much for best laid plans and such. It was a decidedly introverted month full of long work weeks, migraines, bad backs, knee and wrist sprains (update: chipped wrist bone, not a sprain).

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Seen in… April 


From War Games - NORAD wishes it were this cool

April was all about American crime stories. Traditionally, Hollywood likes showing bandits with guns as a sort of Robin Hood with a Smith & Wesson (try Smith & Wesson’s “Gun Finder” to find a weapon right for you and you will be shocked by the number of options). Yet these movies are more than that and run the gambit from serial killers, to fugitives in love, to a good man who makes a bad decision. To be honest, I’m surprised I saw anything at all. Several weekends I realized I hadn’t even turned on the television from Friday night to Sunday night. I wasn’t nobly reading poetry under an oak tree, or improving my 10-km run time but was more likely shackled to a computer working on one thing or another.
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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Seen in… February and March 

You know you're busy when you're too busy to write one sentence reviews of every movie you watched in the last 30 days or so. What happened to my priorities? Never mind all that, I've finally got around to this post by putting off my taxes.

HyperNormalisation
In this BBC documentary from Adam Curtis it’s hard to know what’s real and what isn’t, which I guess is the point. The film relates how at some point the citizens of the Soviet Union became so disillusioned by the deception and lies of their government that they stopped believing in anything but they played along with the lies anyway. Living in the artifice of society created by the government became normal, “The fakery was so real, it was hyper-normal.” The film traces a line between 1970s Syria and the debt crisis of New York City, the rise of Donald Trump and the obfuscation of Russian media manipulation. Released three weeks before the US election results makes this reasoning even more frightening especially given the suspicion of Trump’s administration and his campaign team’s connection to the Russian government. The mind-numbingly deceptive strategy of engagement known as “Hybrid War" invented by the Russians wherein you create control of a situation by essentially causing chaos and playing both sides while simultaneously acknowledging and denying your role has recently been identified as the former Soviet republic’s strategy in both the Ukraine and Syria (and has neighbouring Estonia worried it could soon happen to them). The crazier it seems, the more real it feels but isn’t that how every conspiracy theory begins?



The lovely Cléo from the film's title. Image via the Movie DB
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