That Damn Dress

Over the weekend I found myself encountering a plethora of articles on #TheDress (not the one shown above - you know the one I speak of) and felt myself getting rather annoyed. Not because of the phenomena itself - that's fine - but because it stirred such a backlash ranting about the privilege of society or the viral bandwagoning it's sure to cause. Almost everything I encountered felt overblown and unnecessary. Soapboxes to say "this is such BS but I'm still going to chime in on it because I want to be a part."

But the very end of this Atlantic article did say something that I agree with and think we should keep in mind:
And what are memes if not games? They are small; they are low-stakes; they are often silly. (Sorry, #llamadrama.) But they are also communal. They invite us to participate, to adapt, to joke, to create something together, under the auspices of the same basic rules. That is not a small thing. That is, in fact, a huge thing - particularly when it comes to the very concerns the attention police like to remind us of. If we have any hope of solving the world's most systemic and sweeping problems, we will have to come together. Inequality, climate change, injustices both enormous and less so ... these will require cooperative action. They will require us to collaborate and compromise and value diversity. The dress makes a pretty good metaphor for all that.
As it says, "that is not a small thing." Social media is often absurd and low-stakes and ridiculous but it DOES bring people together. You can dump on #TheDress all you want but it's the same mechanism that causes people to band together over Net Neutrality, getting a candidate voted into office or raising awareness of god awful things like police brutality or terrorism against freedom of speech. We can't be serious 100% of the time and events like #TheDress help to bring people together over something trivial, which builds communication and the ability to act when it really does matter.

Men, Women & Children

Over the weekend I finally took in Jason Reitman's Men, Women & Children - an engaging tale about families and technology. For me, it seemed like a cautionary tale for parents and how they treat their children's technology, particularly when they don't understand it. Raising kids in the Internet Age seems very scary and being able to handle the proper amount of restriction and education does not seem like an easy undertaking. The basics - plot, acting, characters, etc - are all executed in a compelling fashion.

The real clincher for me was how the actual tech was treated on screen. The whole movie reminded me of this Tony Zhou piece on Texting and The Internet in Film. Most movies do not do this well but Men, Women & Children handled it in an incredibly simple and elegant way while keeping it informative. You can see a bit of it in the trailer but it feels a bit obtrusive there because there's so much of it back to back.. in the actual film it's much more spaced out and feels more natural.

Overall, big thumbs up. Go for the plot, stay for the pleasant effects.

The Jinx

Is everyone watching The Jinx? The story of multi-millionaire Robert Durst and his multiple murder involvements is absolutely bonkers. Director Andrew Jarecki has a lot of quality creations under his belt already (Capturing the Friedmans) and continues to craft a seriously WTF story. If you were into Serial, loving episodic content focused on How Did This Happen, you will undoubtedly love this - particularly because Durst is 1,000% more creepy and terrifying than anyone in those stories.

It's great and I highly recommend diving in. There's only six episodes in total but every single one has been fairly unbelievable.

Friday Videos - Feb 27th, 2015

This week was kind of huge - I'll share the news starting next week once the loose ends are all tied up but I had a helluva good time working with a great new client. Always nice when work is as satisfying as can be. Enjoy these distractions:

Sever

It's been awhile since some street art caught my eye but I'm loving what I'm seeing from Sever. There's a bit of traditional tagging work but always mixed with some rather incredible type work. The pop-culture character play is always nice - who doesn't love an obese Captain America?

Inordinate amount of things to see here, so really carve out some time to explore.

User Onboarding

Really enjoying these User Onboarding teardowns - walkthroughs of signup processes, their pitfalls and their successes. Enticing and informing users to a specific action is not a simple task and looking at these insights is certainly helpful, particularly in contrasting it with whatever you are working on yourself. I've been through the Rdio and Instagram studies and come away with plenty of good, useful, ideas.

Mike Perry Studio

It came to my attention the other day that Mike Perry is responsible for the branding and art direction on Broad City - a recent favorite. I've always enjoyed the title sequences and now can see that it's just the tip of the iceberg of enjoyable projects from Mr. Perry.

Do yourself a real quick favor and head over to his site, scroll down and take in the greatness of animated gif's depicting the range of title animations. Then dive into his other work and be amazed by his wealth of talent. It's a nice feeling.

TMBG, Alive and Kicking

I had the great fortune to see They Might Be Giants last night during their Brooklyn residency at Music Hall of Williamsburg as a belated birthday present (complete with a visit from best bro Cody). Huge compliments to Becky for the entire experience.

The show consisted of the band's entire first album and it really struck me how entertaining and energetic the songs were even after 29 years. The band wasn't tired of them and the audience was eating it up. If you have the opportunity to see them at any point, I suggest doing so as they really seem to be in revitalized place (or maybe I'm just paying more attention). They're also going strong with their Dial-A-Song service - a new song every week. It's hard to think of a band that's been together this long that never took time off and still manages to be as joyous and fun as these guys.

Friday Videos - Feb 20th, 2015

I'm not fully convinced my experiment was a successful one. I actually missed seeking out things to write about and posting about them - even if my pessimistic self doesn't think my writeups are really worth your time. I gotta do me for me, ya know?

Anyway, here's a playlist of distracting and amusing greatness. As usual, enjoy yourself.
  • Man keeps falling over while shoveling snow - I saw this in gif form yesterday and absolutely lost it. Is it fake? I choose not to wonder and embrace the insanity of it. Please watch at least 10x.
  • Sleater-Kinney - A New Wave - I don't have a terribly strong opinion about the song but I love seeing a good crossover between pop culture items, especially when it involves Bob's Burgers.
  • A Dog's Snow Day - strap a GoPro to a little pup and let them frolick in the snow. Imagine this when you've got your VR glasses strapped to your head.
  • Chmielewski Fun Time! - There's something strangely alluring about this dance. She isn't going bonkers but she is into it.
  • Freaks and Geeks - Uptown Funk - it doesn't sync up very well at all but Bill's dance is always worth a rewatch.
  • Garth Brooks First Facebook Post - the earnestness of this is way too much. God bless ya Garth but settle down!
  • Natalie Prass - Why Don't You Believe In Me - really enjoying this record and the simplicity and effectiveness of this video is spot on.
  • The Golden Egg - Short - a man by the name of Dave Cloud passed away this week. He was a Nashville gem - a strange character with a penchant for the audacious. He lived hard but made some truly excellent music. This short film showcases his personality pretty well - hard to understand and absolutely hilarious if you really get it.
If you still need more entertainment I dare you to watch this without skipping. No way you can do it.

Have a great weekend. Stay warm.

The .gifys

It's unfortunate that I'm using a still image to entice you into voting for The Gifys but there's just no way I can capture all the great animated clips in one contained image. Treat yourself and browse the categories - even if you can think of better candidates for every set you'll certainly enjoy the offerings they put forth. I mean, the "Animals" set alone is worth your entire afternoon.

Sim Chi Yin

Please take some time today to browse the portolio of Sim Chi Yin. The Burmese Spring set contains some unbelievable gorgeous captures.

Beyond that, there's also an excellent series on China's Rat Tribe - a collective of people that can't afford public housing and find themselves living underground. The name is certainly not a compassionate one because these folks are making it work but it's a sad state of affairs. Read more on it here.

via Becky.

An Experiment

So, for awhile now I've been running the sidebar blog over there - called the Syndicate that is a compilation of Youtube & Vimeo likes, Delicious "Quicklinks", MusicNews, Twitter Favorites and Posts and Soundcloud Likes. Visually, it needs some serious help but lately I've been finding that it's the most enjoyable and consumable part of the site. These main blog posts are nice but you don't need 100 words on why a photo gallery is nice.

So, here's my experiment. Over the next one to two weeks I'm going to write less here on the main blog and focus posts only on things that I've built or just showcasing a bunch of nice images. I'll post more on the syndicate and see how that feels.

How will I measure this? No clue. I've no way to know if it's actually a success or not except for feedback directly from readership.. which I realize is pretty low. Long story short, this site is supposed to be a fun outpouring from me, not an obligation. Hopefully refocusing some aspects of it will make it better for everyone.

do615

I recently re-worked the We Own This Town calendar to be powered by Do615 - an arm of Do Stuff Media that is laser focused on surfacing events for a particular region.

Previously, I was powering the calendar with Songkick and had enjoyable results but I felt like there wasn't as much automated surfacing of events as there could be for the Nashville area. Meaning, I had to input a lot of events that should have been there already. Do615 takes care of that issue for me.

All and all, it's a simple JSON feed based off of a single users "attending" flag. Easy to consume and redisplay as a curated list. The team has been quick and responsive to all my inquiries too.. so, that's a huge, gigantic, thumbs up for them altogether.

Friday Videos - Feb 13th, 2015

Quite a week this week. I hope you are all doing well and have a moment to spend time with loved ones this weekend, even if its not romantic. Plenty of good on the horizon. Enjoy these distractions: Have a good one.

Your Inner Child Is An Idiot

I recently started listening to Your Inner Child Is An Idiot, a podcast focused on time testing entertainment from your childhood to determine if you were, in fact, an idiot. Thus far they've touched on Thundercats, The Super Mario Bros Movie and Rainbow Brite. It's early days but it's looking like, yes, our inner children were idiots. Or maybe our adult eyes looking back nostalgically have a hard time. Whatever the case may be, the two hosts - DJ Phillips and Damon Xanthopoulos - are hilarious.

Listen here, on iTunes or just from your preferred podcasting app.

Jon Brion, Off Camera

The ongoing series, Off Camera with Sam Jones, is a series of simple, insightful, interviews with interesting people. To name but a few subjects: Jeff Bridges, Judy Greer, Sarah Silverman, Michael B Jordan, Will Forte and the latest, and possibly my favorite, Jon Brion.

Brion is one of those creative entities that you have most certainly encountered but may not be aware of his presence. He created the scores for Magnolia, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I Heart Huckabees and loads of producer work for the likes of Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright and Sean Lennon. Oh, and he has a solo album entitled Meaningless that I can't recommend enough.

Long story short, he's great. This interview only reveals his cool nature about the entirety of his life experience which, for me, makes him even better.

Seeing Networks

Seeing Networks is an ongoing field guide to network infrastructures - the hardware and markings all around us related to the technology systems we're all entrenched in. That sounds rather esoteric but it's true, we're surrounded by stuff like antennas, manhole covers, cameras and language that relate to an underlying machine. Don't miss out on the "CrimeEye Cameras" created by the "Total Recall Corporation" - that's an actual thing! Unreal.

The site helps to inform about those things. There's even a print version, if you want to walk around and read along. Right now the site is just about NYC but more cities are in the works. Maybe you can contribute.

The Trip Treatment

It's a lengthy one but this New Yorker piece, The Trip Treatment, does a deep dive on the history of psychedelics in medical treatment and the recent resurgence in investigating the usefulness of the drugs in cancer and anxiety treatments. The drugs are still classified as Schedule 1 (illegal) and sample sizes for recent experiments are extremely small so it's tough to really draw any sort of worthwhile conclusions just yet but that doesn't make the history any less interesting.

The piece is filled with a lot of great quotes - particularly from those who received the drugs in the late 60's - and some truly fascinating factoids, i.e. English psychiatrist Humphry Osmond coined the term "psychedelic" in 1957 within a letter to Aldous Huxley.

Lionshare Cycle of Life

I realize I posted about this just yesterday but I'm really smitten with this new Jasmin Kaset video for Lionshare. Having watched it a few times now I'm really taken by the idea that it's not just a compilation of pretty images and camera moves - it does a nice job of telling the tale of the cycle of life, in reverse. From taxidermy death to zygote, it's all in there. I know that sounds ludicrous but I'm not even reaching!

All that aside, it makes for some great gifs.

The Untold Story Of Shake Shack's Branding

This writeup on the $1.6 Billion Branding job for Shake Shack by Pentagram is pretty fascinating. The original undertaking was a pro bono job for the original Madison Square Park location for the Conservancy. The 1950's vibe that was embraced has extended far and wide into their growing franchise business. Despite going against what every project manager would have you believe, I really enjoy this quote:
In retrospect, if you’d done a million years of focus testing and consumer studies, you wouldn’t do a better job. It shows you the charm of the happenstance. - Paula Scher (designer)
Sometimes your gut just works.

Jasmin Kaset - Lionshare

Huge thanks to YVYNYL for premiering the new video from Jasmin Kaset. The "Lionshare" video was put together by 80JD and features absolutely stunning imagery from The Field Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Science and Industry, Brookfield Zoo and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL.

I think this song is one of the sleeper hits of the album, Quiet Machine, and this video does a nice job of setting the contemplative scene for enjoying it. There's a great balance between the sadness and fascination with these taxidermy diorama's - a feeling that isn't lost within the video. That being said, I like the hopeful lilt at the end that brings some life back into it.

Get the album here or watch the video as large as possible here.