Friday Videos - March 22nd, 2015

I'm off to Salem, MA this weekend to check out some witch stuff with my lady and enjoy the long weekend. If you have any suggestions, drop me a line. Enjoy this long list of distractions - you earned it simply by reading this.
  • Mad Men Series Finale Alternative Ending - no, this has nothing to do with the GIF above. And, yes, spoilers within if you haven't seen the finale yet.
  • Redrawing Taylor Swift - Shake it Off Rotoscoped - 49 students were given 52 frames of Shake It Off and redrew it in whatever style they wanted. Results are compelling just for the ADD nature of it all.
  • Maya Rudolph Commencement - a bit of an endurance challenge but the funny moments are pretty absurdly on point.
  • Bloodsport Mentos Commercial - I'll be honest, I've never seen Bloodsport and if you showed me this and told me it was an honest-to-god Mentos commercial, I'd believe you without hesitation. via Lee.
  • What is Dropbox? - yes, you know what Dropbox is but this is a nice new ad from them. Apparently worked on by some familiar faces.
  • Golden Age of Knowledge 2013 - this is a seven-minute commercial for a series of books. It's slow at first but it gets continuously more absurd. How is this real? How is it seven minutes?! via John
  • SHEER MAG - Fan The Flames - I've listened to this song a good 20 times this week. The distorted vocals are just fascinating to my ears.. and the visuals are unexpected and delightful.
  • Final Letterman Top Ten - Letterman's final show was the end of an era and it's good to see him going out on a nice high note.
  • Letterman's Final Thank You - to me, it's rare to see honest outpouring of emotions on TV. It's not exactly a medium designed for authenticity, so it's good to take in these moments. Letterman wasn't a big part of my life or leaving a hole in television / Internet viewing but I applaud him for all he's done.
If you still need more mindless entertainment, please point your browser to this mashup of Transformers ruining classic movies.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

A few weeks back I watched a movie described as The First Iranian Vampire Western - A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. I was floored by it. Absolutely loved it. To describe it, a black-and-white, Farsi language, innocent and honorable vampire love affair - really sounds like it could live at the fringe of pompous indie filmmaking. But it's accessible, relatable and just the right amount of creepy and gripping. It's also sweet and beautiful in its own way.

The film has been receiving plenty of press over the last few months and is available on Netflix now but I waited to write about it until it was available on VHX. Why wait? Because I enjoyed the movie so much I wanted to own it. I'm promoting the Deluxe Edition but, honestly, see it however you can. It's gorgeously shot, compelling acting and a fascinating balance of teenage emotion and sexual budding mixed with classic horror tropes.

Advice King: Dad Bod

Chris Crofton is many things - comedian, musician, curmudgeon and advice columnist among them. His ongoing series Advice King is always filled with just the right balance of vitriol and humor. The latest, Dad Bod is particularly great. The basic gist is how every news story seems to carry the same weight, however unfortunately. It's a little crass but that's what makes it work:
Remember when those children from South America were invading the United States? Remember the Malaysian Airlines plane? REMEMBER THE FUCKING ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE?? Every story is given the same amount of attention for the same amount of time, because the news has turned into Internet pornography. Not titillated by Ferguson anymore? Let's talk about Sony being hacked! When that's boring, let's talk about the Star Wars trailer! A black stormtrooper?! Wind up Wolf Blitzer and put the memory card in the slot in his back - that little fucker will talk about anything, from Taylor Swift to Boko Haram, with the same intensity level.
Maybe it's not for everyone but I'm a fan of his skewering as it often hits perfectly on the nose.

Simon Pegg: Big Mouth Strikes Again

I've been a fan of Simon Pegg since he unleashed Spaced into the world. His immersion since then into nerdy culture is rivaled by few others. So, when he spouts off on the state of "infantalizing consumers as a means of non-aggressive control" via popular culture, I tend to respect it a bit more. He's speaking from inside the machine, rather than outside looking in. This recent spouting off; entitled Big Mouth Strikes Again, seems best summed up when he's talking about "French philosopher and cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard" and his book 'America':
Put simply, this is the idea that as a society, we are kept in a state of arrested development by dominant forces in order to keep us more pliant. We are made passionate about the things that occupied us as children as a means of drawing our attentions away from the things we really should be invested in, inequality, corruption, economic injustice etc. It makes sense that when faced with the awfulness of the world, the harsh realities that surround us, our instinct is to seek comfort, and where else were the majority of us most comfortable than our youth? A time when we were shielded from painful truths by our recreational passions, the toys we played with, the games we played, the comics we read. There was probably more discussion on Twitter about the The Force Awakens and the Batman vs Superman trailers than there was about the Nepalese earthquake or the British general election.
Yes, it's wordy but really take that in. We are made passionate about the things that occupied us as children as a means of drawing our attentions away from the things we really should be invested in... That's a hard point to argue with.

Is the Internet creating a culture of meaningless passion? I don't think it's a black-and-white argument or should be boiled down to blanket statements about being Good or being Bad but I am intrigued by the idea that we keep ourselves in a perpetual state of childhood in order to avoid having to grow up. Thanks for the thoughts Mr. Pegg.

Jenna Bouma, slowerblack

I can't quite put a finger on what it is but the tattoo work of Jenna Bouma, aka slowerblack, is fascinating to me. The designs are simple and evoke a strange nostalgic feeling, to a time that I did not exist in. The work is also all "hand poked", meaning:
I don’t use a machine to tattoo, I do it by hand. No electricity, no power supply. Its similar to tebori and hand tapped tattoos. I hold my tool which has a needle on it, I use pressure and break the skin, the ink goes in, and then I repeat that thousands of times until you have a nice tattoo. ta da.
I don't think it's any one single aspect to it - the simplicity, the retro-ish style, the abundance of nudie lady depictions or badass snakes and knives. It really feels like what a tattoo should feel like. I've none myself but I can't stop looking.

Follow on Instagram and Tumblr.

War Stories

Just by happenstance, I've encountered two pretty fascinating war stories courtesy of 99% Invisible.

The first, Show of Force, tells the story of World War II artists that were recruited specifically to build a "false army" that would trick the opposition into thinking more troops and weaponry were present than in reality. Inflatable tanks is not something you typically think of when pondering warfare.

The second, Razzle Dazzle, explores the alternate camouflage techniques used for warships - painting them with zebra-like patterns, opposing blocks of black and white or just sea-like discolorations. At the very least, it makes for some fascinating looking mockups.

I'd heard of both of these before but the podcast really dives in a bit deeper and reveals some more relevant history and personal backstories to them both. So, even if these are old news to you, might be worth a listen.

The Mind Of Marc Andreessen

Despite working at one, I'm still a bit mesmerized by the world of startups, VC investments and the whole culture that goes with it. It seems very insular but also seems to reach far and wide when something works well. A large part of this world is the Venture Capitalists themselves - not just the companies they run but the actual personas. One of the more compelling is Marc Andreesen, of Andreessen Horowitz. He helped build Netscape and his investment firm has their hands in the likes of Bitcoin, Soylent, Oculus and more.

Anyway, if you're in the startup world, you know this. If you're not, you should read this great New Yorker profile - Tomorrow's Advance Man - on him. He has money, yes, but he also has a feverish passion for technology that will move the world forward (from his perspective). His history growing up rurally causes him to say things like:
Screw the independent bookstores. There weren't any near where I grew up. There were only ones in college towns. The rest of us could go pound sand.
Whether you agree or not, that's the quote of a man that is laser focused on technology bringing people together and granting opportunity to those that may not have ever had it otherwise. Oh, and probably some healthy profits too.

via Adam

Time-lapse Mining From Internet Photos

This Siggraph 2015 project - Time-lapse Mining from Internet Photos - is a bit droll on the narration side but the results are undeniably fascinating. Take a large collection of images culled from the Internet, sort them by time and apply the secret sauce (code) to stabilize them all. There are other methods that achieve similar ends but there's an interesting amount of stabilization and consistency going on with this technique. Watch the sample video and thank Mr. Felton for the heads up.

We Own This Town - Volume 67

For the 67th volume of the We Own This Town podcast, I asked Elizabeth Cameron of Forget Cassettes to select some of her favorite female artists from around the Nashville area. The results are an engaging 35 minute listen but the writeup accompanying it is probably my favorite part (read that below). You can stream the podcast here or download it here.

Chalk it up to years of touring and being nailed to women-only bills, but I have a slight irritation of 'female centric' lists, line-ups, bios, and press. However, I do think it's imperative to point out that the gender gap is no closer to closing in 2015 than it was in 1995. The Guardian recently published this statistic: This year, 89.6% of the acts confirmed for Reading and Leeds are all-male. These are not the only festivals that seem to have a gender bias going on. Some execs have cited oversights, others have said it's just a matter of availability. With this kind of denial, we shouldn't be surprised that we're still dealing with women artists being 'othered' and treated as token minorities in mainstream music.

Here's my short list of some of Nashville's most talented ladies. I chose to stay in more rock/pop territory because I think Nashville is still pretty under represented when it comes to genres other than country, folk, and americana. In that case, I want to make sure I mention Margo Price, Caitlin Rose, Birdcloud, Those Darlins, Alana Royale, and Thelma and the Sleaze for working their asses off to make this town brim with great music. I'm also looking forward to new music by Adia Victoria, the Dead Deads, and Ariel Bui. Some of the artists I chose for this playlist are great friends, some are acquaintances, and some I barely know - but all I deeply respect for their artistry. Each of these songs are very special to me. When I was growing up here and starting to play music, I was aware of only a teaspoon of female musicians in this town. Today, Nashville has a healthy tablespoon. This progress excites me.

"We keep coming back to the question of representation because identity is always about representation. People forget that when they wanted white women to get into the workforce because of the world war, what did they start doing? They started having a lot of commercials, a lot of movies, a lot of things that were redoing the female image, saying, 'Hey, you can work for the war, but you can still be feminine.' So what we see is that the mass media, film, TV, all of these things, are powerful vehicles for maintaining the kinds of systems of domination we live under, imperialism, racism, sexism etc. Often there's a denial of this and art is presented as politically neutral, as though it is not shaped by a reality of domination."
-bell hooks

It's On Netflix For Free

Birth.Movies.Death ran this fantastic article - It's On Netflix for Free - that examines the history of traditional film and TV distribution through the various windows and how some key decisions by Netflix and Starz upended all that. Aside from being an pleasant historical documentation, it's also very insightful as to how it's affecting the headspace of viewers. Thinking that a movie or film is going to be available in a later window is nothing new ("I'll wait for the VHS" comes to mind) but with only one main distribution channel being that outlet, it really changes how much money could potentially be changing hands to get independent films made.

It's certainly not all doom and gloom but given how much focus is given on the Future of Video (see: Verizon buys AOL), it's certainly worth a full immersive readthrough.

#fortune

The #Fortune app is a pleasant little single serving app to brighten up your day a bit. Who doesn't like an app that consists of one large button and, mostly, nothing else? No one I know!

via Davis

Friday Videos - May 15th, 2015

I've been in TN all week and not spent a ton of time on the ole Internet. Hopefully this weekly dump of distraction serves its purpose properly and you find your mind wandering to more important subjects, like what are you going to do with your weekend?
  • Rick & Morty Simpsons Crossover - it's a great Adult swim gag that crosses over into the Simpsons universe and then into the Futurama universe. Should I be watching this show? I loved this.
  • Emotional Titanic Flute - the best part of this is that it's over 4 minutes long. That's a lot of emotion.
  • Better If You Didn't - Step Out of the Way - the first episode of my friends new skit show is up. If we're being perfectly honest, I'm not that keen on the intro so start here and enjoy!
  • Suturing a Grape - tiny, delicate, robot hands suture up a grape skin. I believe a human doctor is driving this thing but you can easily foresee a future where these little nanobots take care of us. We're basically indestructible now.
  • Guy talking Sh*t to a possum - I'm not a possum hater. I think they can be cute in their own way. Despite that opinion, this guy talking shit at one is pretty funny.
  • Edubb - Whooty - apparently this is what my girlfriend listens to at work all day. She really leads a secret life. ;)
  • Tim & Eric - Music is Four Songs - when you hear that Dell, you know.
  • Spoon - Inside Out - slow panning Spoon music video goodness.
Have a great weekend. There's more awkward treats awaiting you here.

Kings Of Power 4 Billion % HQ

Way back in 2008, I posted about my first encounter with the work of Paul Robertson. Since then, I've sung his praises in many forms and continue to love his work. So, when he recently posted the official high-quality version of the first piece I saw from him - Kings of Power 4 Billion % - it reminded me that the 12-minute epic entrances me as much today as it did seven years ago.

I would also suggest his prior film to that one, Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006 but my utmost adoration seems to fall squarely on the former not the later. Regardless, he's been doing incredible, fun, engaging, hilarious work for as long as I've been aware of him and I can't suggest keeping up with him as much as possible.

Junk Type

Nothing like a little inspiration from the days of yore. When men where Men and type was handcrafted! This Junk Type repository is a holding grounds for all sorts of inspiration culled from just about any old vintage source - usually found while junking around. I can easily foresee myself borrowing this for some future endeavor.

Web Design is Architecture

The title of this Medium piece - The Future of Web Design is Hidden in the History of Architecture - may seem a little esoteric (it is) but it's also sensible once you see the developmental periods side-by-side. Neolithic architecture as a direct metaphor for the first version of the web might seem like a stretch to say it aloud but once you see it you think "huh, yea, seems about right!"

The real question is being able to conceptualize what the next iteration of the web is and how it relates to future periods. Kind of hard to imagine a Baroque website but I'd love to see it.

Dare To Be Stupid Book

As I have mentioned before, I love the printed works of Ryan Duggan. I mean, anyone that offers a Shitting Dogs Print Subscription is going to win a lot of points in my book. He recently released the book Dare to Be Stupid that collects the first 9 years of his work. It's hard to tell from the previews but it looks like each print comes paired with a little insight into the work, such as "Here are two examples of human butts." Profound in just the right ways.

David Letterman Reflections

This NYT interview with David Letterman reflecting on 33-years in TV is a great read if you have not encountered it in your browsings. It functions as a nice exit interview of sorts, filled with gems of insight into the late-night business and his authenticity at being a somewhat self-deprecating "cranky" person. His frankness and clarity on the whole span of his career is quite refreshing. Maybe it's a personal relatability but I particularly enjoyed this bit:
How do you feel about your reputation that you simply aren't a warm person?

I understand that. I think it's genetic. I don't want to blame it on my parents and my grandparents. But you don't need to be all that warm when you're born and raised in Linton, Ind., and working in a coal mine. They weren't hiring coal miners on the basis of their personalities. Inside, I feel like everything's firing properly. And then when I look at a videotape, I just think, What the hell is Dave [angry] about? When in fact I'm not [angry]. We used to do that with my mom. We'd say, "Mom, are you all right?" Because she'd sit there looking dour. And she'd say [shouting], "I'm fine!" It's the Golden Rule. I try to be nice to people who are nice to me. I like doing nice things for people. It makes me feel good. But I think it's legitimate.

Friday Videos - May 8th, 2015

I'm off in New Orleans, posting this from the magical ether of Future Datetime Stamping. Pretty spooky, right? Hope your weekend is going well, I have high hopes for my own. Enjoy these distractions.

LoCrasto

Back in 2011, Jeremy Ferguson introduced me to the Frank LoCrasto album, El Dorado and I was instantly hooked. I think it's been in heavy rotation for the subsequent years. It sounds like it came from another time - often warbly, driven by keyboards and invoking a blissful mood. I always wondered if there would ever be another offering...
Fortunately, I no longer have to wonder as he has just released the follow-up, simply titled LoCrasto. I'm still familiarizing myself with it but the elements that I enjoyed so much from the prior release still seem to be present - mildly melancholy, breezy moods, warbly keyboards and piano - but also new things as well like more upbeat, loop driven tracks.

Huge stamp of approval for this artist. Please immerse yourself in both the new album and the prior.

Sabrina Ratte

I've been diving into the portfolio of Sabrina Ratte and I can't seem to select a solitary item that best represents the work. There's a mild 80's vibe, a serious glitch vibe and some serious ambient zoning out. This commissioned Cooly G or Thug Entrancer video are great examples but so is Activated Memory II piece, focusing on buildings as the jumping off point.

Long story short, there's a lot going on and it's all got a great vibe. Carve out some time to enjoy it. via 990000.