Monday, May 31, 2010

Aline Morales Remix of Ontario's "There's No Place Like This"

I just saw this new Ontario tourism ad featuring percussionist and composer Aline Morales that has a great arrangement of "There's No Place Like This." I've blogged about provincial tourism ads earlier in the year, including an Ontario ad that ran heavily during the Winter Olympics that also used "There's No Place Like This."

I'd love to hear what she could do with Foodland Ontario's "Good Thing Grow in Ontario".

Twitterversion:: [blog] New Ontario Tourism ad features Alina Morales' Afro-Brazillian tinged arrangement of "There's No Place Like This" @Prof_K

newmusicmonday #45 :: Navet Confit

image:: Navet Confit, CBCr3

One of the things I wish I had more exposure to is francophone indie music. Part of the problem is my limited French, but there also is little crossover between anglo and francophone media. Marde. This week features Montréal's Navet Confit {MySpace}, a one-man band offering retro-tinged space pop who has a history of collaborating with fellow Montréal indie artists. Navet Confit is on La Confiserie, along with Émilie Proulx, who is also worth a listen if you're into indie folk.

To hell with the language gap, give him a listen and remember how the funky groovings of Malajube made you forget you haven't a clue what the lyrics are. "Samsam" from last year is a great song and I love the bizarre video that goes along with it::

Also check out the surrealistic imagery for "Automne", which has a harder-edged sound::

while "Asphalte" combines urban imagery set to an 80s new wave synth beat::

I like the manic sound of "Bébé Dans La Boîte", clocking in at 1:16, although the "stuttering" sound may annoy some::

Finally, here's "Denise" from a Radio Canada Bande à Part session.

I'm sorry I missed the Navet Confit show here in Toronto in March, but now I'll be on the lookout.

Twitterversion::  [blog+video] #Newmusicmonday feat.#MontrealIndie@navetconfit. Retro-tinged francophone space-pop w/feet squarely in 2010. @Prof_K

The Sestak-Clinton Smokescreen :: Whose Blowing It?

Originally posted on ThickCulture

Notes from North of 49ºN

The above AP video shows Pennsylvania House of Representatives member Joe Sestak, who beat White House supported Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary talking about an unpaid job offer discussed by Bill Clinton last year. The skinny is that Rahm Emanuel greenlighted Bill Clinton offering Joe Sestak an unpaid position of influence in consideration for not running against Specter in the 2010 primary. Sestak declined. This wasn't enough for Republican Rep. Darrell Issa or pundit Liz Cheney. Issa is claiming that this will be Obama's Watergate and citing 18 U.S.C. § 201 on bribery and wants an investigation. {As an aside, Issa was instrumental in the 2003 California Gubernatorial recall election that replaced Gray Davis with Arnold Schwartzenegger}. Cheney wants the same, accusing the White House of a smokescreen::

The U.S.C. bribery statute clarifies what consists of a bona-fide bribe, which hinges on the influence of an "official act". What is an official act? Here is is:
"the term 'official act' means any decision or action on any question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy, which may at any time be pending, or which may by law be brought before any public official, in such official's official capacity, or in such official's place of trust or profit." [*]
The idea is to limit influence on law, not a decision to run for office. While I'm not a fan of Emanuel or these types of tactics, I see this as politics-as-usual and within the scope of the law. I think pressing this one is a lost cause and more blowing smoke, but it may well be "run-it-up-the-flagpole-and-see-who-salutes" season. Happy Memorial Day.

And they call Toronto The Big Smoke.

Song:: Ben Folds Five-'Smoke'

Twitterversion:: [blog - #ThickCulture] Sestak-Clinton-@WhiteHouse controversy. Whose smokescreen is it anyway or much ado about nothing? @Prof_K

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Social Media Social Activism :: Greenpeace vs. Nestlé's Facepalm Moment

I was reading a Greenpeace Magazine article on Nestlé's use of palm oil in its food products, which is being attributed to rain forest destruction. The palm oil market is growing and its attractiveness is causing suppliers to level rainforests to create monoculture plantations. The above video, "Caught Red Handed" is meant to link the tasty treat of Kit-Kat bars to the harmful effects of palm oil demand on orangutans.

The story doesn't end there. The "Caught Red Handed" video was making the rounds, so Nestlé took action against the Kit-Kat spoof with a take-down request on YouTube, citing copyright infringement. Supporters started to post the video on their own accounts, posted the video on Vimeo, and took potshots at Nestlé with their own videos. Here's a jab using machinima::

Greenpeace UK summarizes Nestlés actions here, as of 18 March. Nestlé was clearly frustrated by the backlash on its Facebook wall and eventually responded by posting links to its new policies shifting towards sustainable sourcing by 2015. Nestlé was using Facebook as a PR channel and in my opinion wasn't prepared to have real conversations in social media. On Facebook, Nestlé posted this WWF palm oil scorecard only to get accused of deleting comments and greenwashing. The big problem I saw was that there was no conversation taking place, so the only communication was in the form of links to policies and requests not to use altered Nestlé logos as Facebook profile images. This caused them to go straight from palm oil to facepalm::

While this one's tricky since those complaining are motivated and vocal, social media also provides a venue to resolve issues. In my opinion, it helps to allow users to have voice and to engage in a dialogue on the issues. Unfortunately, I don't think many companies and organizations are ready to do this, in terms of policies or staffing.

Song:: Warren Zevon-'Leave My Monkey Alone'

Twitterversion:: [blog] Greenpeace viral video on Nestle palm oil sparks catfight & facepalm moment, despite changing sourcing policy. @Prof_K

Manchurian Candidate {2004}

image:: Liev Schreiber & Vera Farmiga, imdb

I just saw again Demme's 2004 version of The Manchurian Candidate, which may have been just a tad before it's time. It may have taken the financial collapse and the Big Recession for the mainstream to embrace the idea of sinister corporatist control. I thought the film was OK. There was something about the pacing that seemed to make it feel like it was plodding. The cast was fine {Denzel, Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep}, but something wasn't quite gelling for me.

I was looking for a song that sounded very familiar. It was playing during the victory speech/assassination scene, but more on that later. In my searches, I found this trailer from the UK for the airing of the film on Channel 4. I find it interesting how films are promoted overseas. I thought this TV promo did a good job of making the film seem compelling::

I recently saw Cameron's True Lies {1994}, which I remember taking heat for its portrayal of Arabs. I thought a good name for the film in the Arab world would be Crimson Jihaad, the name of the terrorist group in the film, but I'd imagine the film/DVD probably would be a tough sell.

At any rate, here's the regular US theatrical trailer::

I found out the song that sounded familiar in the victory speech/assassination scene was by none other than The Kinks' "Better Things"::

covered by Fountains of Wayne::

Twitterversion:: [blog] Demme's '04 Manchurian Candidate remake & cover of The Kinks' "Better Things". @Prof_K

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Night Videos :: Vancougar

image:: "Polaroids" from CBC Radio 3

I'm not sure if Officer M. is hip to Vancougar {CBCr3}, Canadian girl guitar indie pop quartet. This isn't a fluffy girl group stereotype. The band rocks. Upcoming live dates are 29 May in Gibson, BC; 20 June in Vancouver; 24 July in Portland, OR; and 7 August in Vancouver again. The first two videos are from November of 2008 in Madison, WI and the last video is from the Mint Records 2007 Christmas party.

Twitterversion:: [videos] #FridayNightVideos w/3 live vids for Vancougar. Canadian girl guitar indie pop that rocks. #rhizomicon @Prof_K

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Web 2.0 Wayback Machine :: Afghan Whigs on the Jon Stewart Show

Here's leather jacket clad Jon Stewart looking a lot like Andrew Dice Clay introducing The Afghan Whigs on his old MTV show, circa 1993-94. Greg Dulli is looking a lot like mid-80s Lloyd Cole.

Twitterversion:: [blog+video] #Web2_0WaybackMachine Afghan Whigs on the Jon Stewart Show on MTV, circa 1993-94. #rhizomicon  @Prof_K

Extreme Stunts & Social Media

Earlier, I was watching the Calgary feed of CTV and Dr. Phil is interviewing extreme teen underground stuntmen à la Jackass. I'm hoping each and every one of his guests thank him for the exposure and the increase in views from a Dr. Phil bump. Here's DoubleOAwesome's YouTube channel.

Dr. Phil's questions are classically inane like "what do you add to society with these stunts?" and just whipped out "it's stupid." Dr. Phil refused to mention one site where users dare each other to up the ante with stunts, but it was easy to find, since he mentioned the real name of one of the guys behind the site. Other guests include Dr. Travis Stork of The Doctors and a firefighter explaining what happens what could happen when fire-related stunts go awry. The "voices of reason" on the show were trying to highlight how these stunts can have serious consequences and Dr. Phil was telling the parents of the underage thrillseekers they need to put the brakes on their kids' behaviour.

The web and social media are creating a "market" for these stunts. I half expect to hear stories about a media outrage about extreme stunts, just like —which is a whole different Opra...Dr. Phil show, but I think that will likely happen if there's a fatality that gets media coverage. If the story gets more attention, I could see pressure for legislation on extreme stunt sites and content, which I think could set a bad precedent and may drive the content further underground. I haven't read the actual Ohio bill that just passed that bans underage sexting, but it makes me wonder if what makes the Internet seem so much more of a concern than the non-digital equivalent {e.g., Polaroids or analog photos} is the immediacy and the ease of transmission of digital content.

What's interesting to me is how parents need to be hip to what their kids are engaging in on the web, but I wonder what will happen as the mobile web becomes more and more ubiquitous.

Song:: G-Unit-'Stunt 101'

Twitterversion:: [blog] Extreme stunts get audience on social media sites.W/more coverage, future pressure for legislation like w/sexting? @Prof_K

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Is That Some Yuppified Blunt You're Smoking? :: Nicorette Inhaler Ad

I've been seeing a version of the above UK ad here in Canada. You don't realize it's a Nicorette ad until the voiceover at the end. The UK version have wispy text notices that the device is a "stop smoking aid", but I don't recall seeing it on the ads here. It's not too prominent in the ad above. Can you blame them? Big tobacco sold the lifestyle of smoking and now big pharma is selling the lifestyle of quitting. The oh-so-cool retro ads just may make some "unintended" converts along the way. The cartridges will set you back a little over a loonie apiece and "quitters" are expected to use between 6-12 cartridges a day.

I would laugh so hard if the nicotine for smoking cessation products were extracted from big tobacco's...tobacco.

It all seems like a joke to me. Like when Undercover Brother posed as a marketing guy pitching The Fatty::

One blogger likened the UK's Inhalator to a tampon. Now I have that visual in my mind.

While I have been tempted by nicotine products as a non-smoker in the past {I'm not the only one...Jessica Simpson copped to it too}, I think I'll pass on The Fatty, I mean the Inhaler.

Song:: Hooverphonic-'Inhaler'

Twitterversion:: [blog+video] If it worked 4 big tobacco..Big pharma's lifestyle ads sell the "quitting" of "smoking" w/ Nicorette Inhaler @Prof_K

Monday, May 24, 2010

Logan's Run

image:: vidcap of Logan's Run (1976) with Jennifer Agutter

It's Victoria Day/Fête des patriotes here in Canada and a nice 25ºC here in Toronto. The Space channel is showing oldschool cheesy sci-fi, including Logan's Run {1976}, based on a 1967 novel of the same name.

Unlike the ageless Michael York who stars as Logan 5, Logan's Run hasn't aged well, but is part of a string of dystopic late-60s/70s films, including Planet of the Apes {1968} and Soylent Green {1973}. It was released right before Lucas' "Star Wars" {1977} raised the scifi bar in terms of effects, so the look and feel is decidedly dated. There have been efforts to remake the film since the mid-1990s, but efforts have been stalled over the years. Supposedly, a 2012 release is in development.

Here's a trailer aimed at exhibitors::

the fight scene towards the end where a stunt cat earns her/his paycheque::

Farrah Fawcett's scene at the plastic surgery clinic::

and the iconic "carousel" scene::

Song:: Greyboy-'Logan's Run'

Twitterversion:: [blog+video] Logan's Run from '76 hasn't aged well, but production of remake stalled numerous times since mid-90s. @Prof_K

Newmusicmonday #44 :: Portico

image:: Portico,

This week's Victoria Day/Fête des patriotes edition of newmusicmonday features the Portico {MySpace, CBCr3from East Van. Their third album, First Neighbours, was released over a year ago to much acclaim. They craft songs with meaning, touching on socially relevant themes along with evoking a late-80s/early-90s vibe of alt rock. These two live clips capture that spirit::

The "Battle of Duck Lake" refers to the Métis resistance that began the North-West rebellion in Saskatchewan.
Twitterversion:: [blog+video+clip] #Newmusicmonday featuring #vancouverindie band Portico. Socially relevant lyrics with a neo-Pixies sound  @Prof_K

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wanda Sykes' Next Steps?

image:: Wanda Sykes, from morningbounce

I'm watching The Wanda Sykes Show on the Buffalo Fox affiliate here in Toronto. The ratings started out strong, but slipped over time and the show was cancelled last week. I was hoping the show would make it, but I'm not surprised given Fox's history and the ratings expectations of the major broadcasting networks. I thought she was hilarious on The Larry David Show when she accused Larry of having a racist dog that hated black people. 
"You got a clan dog.  Looking at me like I'm a fucking T-bone."
Unfortunately, the clips have been taken off of YouTube. Takedowns are killing YouTube. Well, killing my experience.

Here's a clip from November from her show with a bit on Tiger Woods::

My take? Well, I'm sure her people are probably talking to TNT, who now have Conan and George Lopez. I personally think the talk show genre is pretty stale and I'm not that interested in seeing "stars", but rather see interesting characters. I liked the panel on her show that talked about current issues and the stronger sketch comedy bits. With a bit of tinkering, I think Wanda could be a nice complement to the TNT arsenal—hopefully doing better than the standard fare of The Office or Friends reruns.

Song:: Yu Miyake-'Wanda Wanda'

Twitterversion:: [blog] Watching #WandaSykes makes me think about her possible next steps after being cancelled on Fox late night. @Prof_K

Separated at Birth? :: Nixie Pixel & Sarah Polley

This is an interesting morph via PlasmaKong2 going from Suicide Girl tech nerd idol Nixie Pixel to left-leaning, NDP supporting Canadian indie film darling Sarah Polley.

Song:: Sarah Polley-'Courage'

Twitterversion:: [blog+video] #SeparatedAtBirth @NixiePixel and Sarah Polley. @Prof_K

Old Spice Marketing to Homo Metrosexualis

I've been watching AUX this afternoon, which is heavily sponsored by Old Spice and I may have "Armpit Mountain" {above} memorized. P&G's Old Spice has been trying to hippen their brand and have enlisted Wieden & Kennedy of Portland, OR for the past few years to make it happen. While Axe may seem to have defined how advertising is done in the youth-oriended metrosexual mens' grooming market {$19.7B in the US in 2009 and expected to grow to $33.2B globally by 2015}, Old Spice is mounting a challenge.

Andy Wallman's blog describes & posts video clips of ads for Old Spice's Odor Blocker body wash, directed by Tim & Eric of "Tim & Eric Awesome Show" on Adult Swim. 

Here's a video on the making of those ads::

Selling to the metrosexual lifestyle is interesting, as is the entire concept. Metrosexuality is going increasingly mainstream, appealing to male vanity and perhaps challenging ideas and ideals surrounding masculinity. Naturally, selling products as accoutrements will have to be "on code" and fitting in with a concept of cool. Axe and Old Spice are using humour to sell, which is a safe bet for a younger male audience. The Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man" commercials are a good example of this::

In pop culture, it's funny how perhaps some of the best icons of metrosexuality are from a retrospective stance. I can't help but think of Christian Bale playing Patrick Bateman of American Psycho {2000}, as the 1980s embodiment of the name-brand dropping Wall Streeter with a fitness and skin care regimen {click to open in new window}::

Fast forward a better part of a decade to Jon Hamm's Don Draper in AMC's "Mad Men"::

Here's a response to Mad Men from way back in 2008 on BoingBoing::
"There's plenty to criticize about the show, but for me it's cut-to-fit: gorgeous, full-bodied women in painted-on dresses; whisky by the barrel, cigarettes by the carton, a steak on every plate; men's formal fashion at the turn of its last great change, affording older men to wear worsted three pieces and young bucks to sport skinny ties and sharkskin; a look at the office of the career man; swingin' New York, half beat poets and half modern opulence; all predicated with seething, soaking dissatisfaction for the post-war utopia they're living in. I'm not sure its message is terribly profound, but it is mid-century pornography that appeals to nearly all my sensibilities."
Which reminds me that it's time to hit the LCBO and stock up on my own metrosexual accoutrements.

Song:: Amandititita-'Metrosexual'

[blog] #OldSpice ads by W&K lending a hip & humourous air to metrosexual marketing twds Patrick Bateman & Don Draper set. @Prof_K

Friday, May 21, 2010

Web 2.0 Wayback Machine :: Comic Sans Tombstone

I just wanted to know if someone used the comic sans typeface on a tombstone. Sure enough, someone has. Here's the source, an Earz Magazine interview by Martin Skivington with one of the Ban Comic Sans proponents, Dave Combs. Here's the exchange regarding comic sans in the cemetery::
MS: I found a weird website on typography, it was written in Italian I think*, and had images of a gravestone lettered in comic sans. What does that say to you?
DC: That would only be appropriate if the deceased were a clown or comedian, but other than that, I’d come back to haunt whoever did that if I were the dead guy.
* Text on the tombstone is written in Dutch, though I believe the website was in Italian!

More searching found this covered by BoingBoing in late April of 2007, at the height of sans bashing. I wonder if Ms. Spans-Broere had an offbeat sense of humour. I don't use comic sans, but its use doesn't bother me that much. Then again, I'm the type of guy who forgets the differences between arial and helvetica. In any case, this made me think of this old Depeche Mode song...

Song:: Depeche Mode-'Blasphemous Rumours'

Twitterversion:: [blog] #Web2_0WaybackMachineRehashing comic sans bashing w/ image of a Dutch tombstone using the typeface. #rhizomicon

Friday Night Videos :: Hooverphonic

image:: Hooverphonic, via listal

Five {plus bonus} from Hooverphonic::

US version of "Mad About You"::

Twitterversion:: [video] #FridayNightVideos 5 fr. triphop Hooverphonic, incl."2wicky", "Eden", "Inhaler", "You Hurt Me", & "Mad About You". @Prof_K

OilCam Up & Running!

Watch live streaming video from wkrg_oil_spill at

Song:: Moby-'Oil'

Twitterversion:: [blog+video] Live feed of Gulf Spillcam back up & running. #oilspill #spillcam #fail @Prof_K

Social Media & the KFC Double Down

This Canadian health article stated that KFC's gluttonlicious Double Down is viewed as a social media success, due to Twitter reviews and YouTube feeding frenzies {hat tip LinnyQat}.

This top Tweet by @michaeljnelson is less than charitable::

The Tweet links to a MSN article that details how KFC's 6 week limited time offer sold 10 million of the ≈$5 sandwich that has two of everything:: pieces of chicken {grilled or fried} for bread, strips of bacon, and slices of cheese. The "original" fried version is on par with a McDonald's Big Mac, in terms of calories and grams of fat. The recent Tweets seem to be mixed, but I wonder how much of this is truly social media driven versus integrated marketing communications {IMC}, with advertising, PR, publicity, and promotions interacting with social media. Getting featured on The Colbert Report was bound to give the Double Down some buzz.

It seems like the post-Super Size Me climate is more critical of what is tantamount to stunt foods. In terms of a possible backlash for marketing a food that is seemingly outrageous, but akin to a Big Mac albeit with more sodium, I think it boils down to expectations and brand meanings. I think McDonald's walks a finer line because it so actively markets towards kids. KFC may get more of a pass by the general public, as the Double Down may be seen by many as not an "everyday food" because of the KFC's relatively lower salience, sales, and share of the fast food dollar.

While buzz may seem like a good thing, AdAge criticizes KFC's stunt food marketing for causing a lack of strong positioning and failing to turn around slumping sales.

Nevertheless, these videos do help to frame the experience of the brand::

Song:: Nouvelle Vague/David Shrigley-'What I Ate'

Twitterversion:: [blog] #KFC's latest stunt food, the Double Down, exceeds expectations & some credit social media FTW. The buzz isn't helping slumping sales. @Prof_K

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Toronto's Gardiner Expressway :: Foreshadowing Eventual Closure

image:: Toronto traffic on Lake Shore Boulevard eastbound at Jarvis near massive Loblaws, 16 May 2010

 I recently did a post about the future of the crumbling Gardiner Expressway in Toronto. The expressway was closed last weekend and while the Globe and Mail reported on increased traffic and cars overheating in the summery weather, what I'm interested in is how worse was traffic and what the economic impact was. While that information could be considered meaningless, as it's a one-off, a single data point that perhaps people have planned around, it looks like there will more opportunities to gauge freeway constriction::
"Motorists can look forward to further closings and restrictions over the next several weeks: From Monday to June 11, the Gardiner will be restricted to two lanes in both directions near Jameson Street in the west end; eastbound collector lanes will be closed from Kipling to Park Lawn Monday and Saturday.  
The Gardiner will be closed overnight June 12 and 13, and drivers have been warned to expect “delays and closures” from June 21 to 28, in the days immediately before and after the G20 descends on Toronto."
I thought Lake Shore Boulevard would be a parking lot, given a Jays home game and great weather. When I went by in the mid/late afternoon, I was surprised to see traffic moving. Front, Richmond, Adelaide, Queen, Dundas, and Gerrard all seemed to be moving. Bloor is hopeless these days—everyday.

Here's a clip that FreewayBrent uploaded of footage of a trip along the length of the Gardiner.

I'm still contemplating what the Gardiner/Lake Shore corridor would look like if it were turned into a boulevard, akin to San Francisco's decommissioning of of earthquake-damaged freeways. I'll be posting my thoughts and conceptualizations in the future, drawing upon ideas in Great Streets.

Twitterversion:: [blog] #Toronto's Gardiner Expressway closures may foreshadow life after "boulevarding" the crumbling behemoth. @Prof_K