Friday, July 29, 2011

The Social Life of Trees

mycorrhizal networks in forests
Suzanne Simard at UBC is heading up research examining fungi networks in forests. The fungi have a symbiotic relationship with the trees, connecting their roots and facilitate the sharing of resources. The trees supply carbohydrates and the fungi supply water and nutrients from the soil. The networks enhance survival under stress, e.g., drought or climate change, growth, and resilience.

Twitterversion:: [blog+graphic] The Social Life of Trees @Prof_K

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Redistricting California Style

CA-9, held by Barbara Lee [D], has only minor changes in its boundaries

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission has released its final draft of the Congressional district map [type in address & select map at top]. I found the address finder on the map to be intermittently buggy, so it might be better to click on a location. The shapefiles and databases are located here. According to the LATimes the Commission is charged with::
"It is charged with keeping together neighborhoods, ethnic groups, socioeconomic groups and other 'communities of interest' without regard to their party registration or any risk to current officeholders."
The last round of maps was roundly criticized. The commission is the result of 2010's referendum, Prop 20, which sought to depoliticize the drawing of boundaries for the state senate, state assembly, board of equalization, and federal congressional districts. There was a "poison pill" opponent, Prop 27, that lost. The NY Times had an article on the man behind the initiative, Charles Munger, Jr.

The more gerrymandered congressional districts appear to have lost their appendages and tails when compared to the current lines. Three of California's congressional districts {11th., 18th., & 38th.} made it on Slate's top 20 list in 2009.

Twitterversion:: [blog+link] Final draughts of California citizen-driven redistricting maps & shapefiles published. Whither gerrymandering? @Prof_K

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Separated at Birth:: Assy McGee & Canadian Mr. Mini-Wheats

Mini-Wheats "Walking" vidcap

Assy McGee vidcap

I saw the recent Kellogg's Mini-Wheats ad for Canada, "Walking", featuring a rewrite of the disco anthem, "In the Navy", by The Village People.

MINI-WHEATS Walking from Pascal Blais Animation Studio on Vimeo.

The Mr. Mini Wheats character with its disembodied hands and feet reminded me of Assy McGee, a 2006 12 minute animated show that aired on [adult swim] and had difficulty getting sponsors, initially. More on Assy and Clambake Animation on this link. Upon closer inspection, Assy has legs and feet, but doesn't have visible hands. Nevertheless, he can shoot a gun and drink hard liquor as if he did.

The Canadian spots are done by the Pascal Blais Studio in Montréal and I noticed with the 2009  blueberry muffin spot [Fr] that there was a Disney vibe going on, which is pretty far removed from Assy McGee. Assy does/did have an action figure {left} and I'm not sure if Mr. Mini-Wheats does, but he should in this era of brand communities. It appears that the Mini-Wheat character dates back to at least 1988, evident in this Canadian ad for the Québec market.

The trend with these Mini-Wheat ads is to adapt existing songs, which I think can be hard to do and still be "on code" symbolically and seamless executionally. The blueberry muffin spot used "Galop Infernal". The jingle in the first ad I saw for Vanilla Mini Wheats has an earworm quality, based on Black Lace's "Agadoo"::

MINI-WHEATS Vanilla from Pascal Blais Animation Studio on Vimeo.

Monday, July 04, 2011

newmusicmonday #100:: Louise Burns

Louise Burns from her Lillix days,

Genre indie pop
Members Louise Burns    
Base Vancouver
Label Light Organ Records; Recent Release:: 5 April 'Mellow Drama' [CD], iTunes Canada
Tour DatesJul 05 The Fez Saskatoon
Jul 07 The Club Regina
Jul 08 The Rock Bar Winnipeg
Jul 15       The Waldorf  Vancouver


The Polaris always vexed me, as I never understood the logic of giving established bands cash prizes. I'm not sure how much of a shot Louise has, but she's on the long list and I'm hoping she at least makes the short list due out on 6 July. Louise was the bassist in the ill-fated teen pop group Lillix, which was fodder for the music industry machinery after being signed by Madonna's Maverick Records. The Globe & Mail provides a history lesson of Louise's earlier days, but listening to her recent material {she has a recent release 'Mellow Drama'} it's clear that her pop sensibilities, retro 50s-60s leanings, and time spent in the Vancouver rock and punk scene are gelling. The songs from 'Mellow Drama' {streamed on Soundcloud & avail for purchase on link above} are based on the Maverick days and her CBC Radio 3 bio explained what that experience did to her::
“Basically we were trained to write for radio, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can really fuck with your ideals and what you think is good and what you think you should be writing. That tremendous pressure just ruins it for you. I hated music for so long after that, and I hated the idea of writing. But at the same time I’m really grateful for the perseverance that I developed. Now I have a really high standard, before I even show anybody a song. I am grateful for that part of it.” 
There a hint of darkness in the vein of Mazzy Star {as opposed to Fiona Apple dark, which has more of a quirky factor}, but her music remains accessible in the best of ways. Her cover of Cohen's "Gypsy's Wife" is a good example of this::

 11 Gypsy's Wife by Louise Burns

She has a knack for interesting arrangements and her often sultry vocals are a draw and she doesn't fall prey to overproduction. "Ocean Grey" is a slower track that draws the listener in with catchy hooks::

 12 Ocean Grey by Louise Burns

I'll leave you with the single "What Do You Want to Do?" that's a catchy homage to pop eras gone by::

 04 What Do You Wanna Do by Louise Burns

Twitterversion:: [blog] #newmusicmonday {Nº 100} feat. folksy/bluesy indie pop of Louise Burns ex of Lillix @Prof_K