Saturday, October 27, 2012

"How's that working out for you...being clever?"

Fight Club - Being clever by peromocibob

Saturday, August 04, 2012


Doing a search on Caturday for "Obama cat" resulted in the above. You can peruse all of the offerings for pets here. I'll just stick to the marketing aspects. I find these designs to be boring. I think it's a good idea to market pet stuff, but this reeks of so much phoning it in. What was different about the 2008 campaign, which started in early 2007, was the grassroots feel and the spontaneous generation of catchy art and design à la Shepard Fairey. Maybe I'm too much a fan of the quirk, but how about an Obamapaw?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Olympic Politics of Québec

Roselin Filion and Meaghan Benfeito, bronze medalists in the synchronized 10M platform. 
Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois was quick to point out that the first four Canadian Olympic medals were from...Québec, pointing out how it could shine on the world stage. I've been reading and wondering about how separatism would fare post Orange Crush of last year's election and given that there was 15 years between the first two separatist referendi, the last being in 1995. I think Québec feels Ottawa is out of touch with the province and the nervous voting and policy détente between the federal Conservatives the Bloc Québécois, in my opinion, resulted in the backlash of May 2011 with the NDP/NPD reaping the benefits–an anti-Harper mandate.

I think it's too early to see how this develops, but what interested me was the comments in the Toronto Star on the issue. Here's a wordcloud from the comments::

Rather than being dismissive of Marois or the PQ, the sentiments are more along the line with "get the hell out you deadbeats and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out".

This article from this June shows that recent polls show that a large number of Canadians aren't that vested in a unified Canada. 
"The poll found that 49 per cent of Canadians living outside of Quebec agree (26 per cent strongly and 23 per cent somewhat) that they "don't really care if Quebec separates from Canada.
Similarly, half (49 per cent) of Canadians outside of Quebec agree that if Quebec separates, "it's not really a big deal" to them personally."
I don't think the people of Québec or the politicians at the provincial or federal level really want a referendum soon, as I think there are more pressing issues at hand. Nevertheless, it makes for good political fodder. Marois is using the Olympics to create a sense of nationalistic pride and link it to her party and her main opponent, Jean Charest of the Liberals can't really do anything about it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

newmusicmonday #104:: Dana Falconberry

Dana Falconberry c.2008, via Facebook
Eastbay based Antenna Farm Records recently signed Austin-based Dana Falconberry, which is quite a coup. Her earlier stuff has a clean, stripped down "blue-state folksy" sound like on "Blue Umbrella"::

and indie folk pop tracks like "Petosky Stone" from 'Though I didn't Call It Came'::

What caught my ear was "Lake Charlevoix", a track on her forthcoming 'Leelanau' album due out on October 9th.

The sound is lusher and the vocals remind me a bit of Keren Ann, {e.g., the "Not Going Anywhere" era.} In other words, chanteusey with a softness and an unmistakeable hook of cool.

Dana gets inspiration from her native Michigan, specifically, the Leelanau Peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan. Much of my experiences of the Great Lakes has been in Canada, along the northern shore of Lake Ontario and I remember a very long drive along Lake Superior in 1992 from Thunder Bay to Wawa. Being from California, it took me a long while to appreciate the Great Lakes and how their subtlety can draw you in. This characterizes how Falconberry's music strikes me...drawing me in with subtle details and her intricately crafted arrangements.

Why I might like this?
Sweet vocals and indie folk pop orchestrations that aren't overblown or pretentious.

What makes it cool?
It's indie folk that's been distilled once again.

Standout track...
"Lake Charlevoix"

Hipster quotient...
She's been playing SXSW since 2006 & has opened for Okkervil River, so you might be late to the game...better late than never.

Upcoming shows are here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

newmusicmonday #103:: Le Trouble

Another CBCr3 find, Le Trouble is anglophone Montréal indie pop that's quite catchy.

Why you might like it...
If you like Malajube, but get hung up on the fact that you can't understand the lyrics.

What makes it cool...
There's a nod to post punk and the Montréal indie scene.

Standout track...
Maybe "Pale as Rain"because it features Fanny Bloom {cbcr3} and I'm a sucker for sweet, female francophone vocals. "Mission Bell" & "To the Wire" also work for me...on Reality Strikes {on Bandcamp}, the more manic sounding, the better. Although, "Every Night's a Giant" is pretty good,

Hipster quotient...
You'll be the first of your friends to know about these guys.


Monday, July 16, 2012

newmusicmonday#102::International Zombies of Love

Greetings from the foggy hills of Berkeley with the latest newmusicmonday. I'd like to get back to regularly blogging, but let's just start with some baby steps. There are chamber pop elements to IZOL such as the use of french horns that I can't seem to resist. A CBCr3 find, the band is the latest project of Mike Farrell, known as the frontman of The Pariahs. I'd start out by checking out "Back to the Ball"::

I hear a hint of Patrick Monahan {Train} in the vocals {e.g., on "Laughing on Instinct"} that can veer into a Buddy Holly twang {e.g., on "Snowy Street"}, which isn't a bad thing, as I think it works with the band's sound. Here's a link to their Bandcamp player. I like how the lyrics aren't overwrought with cleverness and preciousness, but that doesn't mean the music's devoid of smart sentiment. This is summer music for me—enjoy, unless you're sleeping off the season.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Drums-"Money"

Infectious jittery Brooklyn indie pop that I just stumbled on. Enjoy.

Plus, 6 songs from a set at Amoeba:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It’s Three Years Before An Election…Time for an Attack Ad:: Conservative Party of Canada Attacks Third Party Leader

Originally posted on ThickCulture

While I'm in NYC these days, much of my social media still comes from Toronto & Canada. The Conservative Party of Canada is running attack ads against the third party. Not the opposition, but against the Liberal Party interim leader, Bob Rae. This ad came out while the official opposition party, The New Democrats, were choosing a new leader, who was chosen yesterday, Thomas Mulcair. OK, to further complicate things, Rae was once a New Democrat at the provincial level in Ontario and Mulcair was a Liberal at the provincial level in Québec. I know, you probably need a scorecard. Anyway, while there's no election in sight for years {barring a finding of widespread election fraud from the robocall scandal}, the Conservative attack ad slams Rae's record from his stint as Ontario Premier in the early 1990s. Last year, I wrote a brief analysis of the Bob Rae premiership on vox.rhizomicon, that explains how Rae inherited an impossible situation worsened by a macroeconomic perfect storm. In fact, Rae's policies had much more in common with—a fiscally conservative strategy.

John Ibbitson of the Globe & Mail thinks the Tories are scared of Rae and the resurgence of the Liberals. There may be something to that. They ran ads in 2009 against then Liberal leader, Micael Ignatieff, framing him as an outsider because of his living abroad in the past. Why not use the wayback machine to do the same to Bob Rae?

One could argue that the Conservatives have more money than good sense right now. While it's no secret that the Conservatives want to keep the Liberals down and replace them as the "natural governing party of Canada", the strategy has its risks. Sure, it will get the Liberals to spend money on return-fire ads, which the Liberals vow to do, but the ad concept isn't fresh and the content is dated. While Andrew Coyne think the Conservatives win either way, I think he's wrong. It's not an election and the negative ads on the third party leader can be viewed as playing unfairly, particularly in light of the robocall scandal. The main problem I have with the Conservative ads is they have tipped their hand. Bob Rae has them worried and they're signaling it. Unlike Ignatieff, Rae is a seasoned politician and a good communicator. Liberal support isn't dead and the ads allegedly boosted Liberal fundraising by $225,000 and Rae offered this soundbite:

"You can't just abandon the airwaves to the jerks on the right-hand side of the spectrum."

While the Conservatives have a majority in Parliament, they know that with Rae and Mulcair opposing them, they'll have their hands full with a war in the media and the court of public opinion. They'll want to discredit both, but let's face some ugly marketing truths. They're the majority party and should act accordingly. Attack ads now look desperate and mean. The Conservatives' main ace up their sleeves is "stay the economic course." They don't have a hot-tempered firebrand from Québec who makes the news by being the news in a Thomas Mulcair. They don't have an elder statesman who can effectively sound as if he's railing at the establishment in a Bob Rae. The Conservatives are selling "stay the course" and they don't have many degrees of freedom that can really energize the masses, while unemployment remains fairly high and a housing bubble looms. Their current positioning is fairly moderate, which is how they won the last election by taking Liberal ridings in Ontario {assuming election fraud isn't shown in the robocall scandal, which is probably a stretch}. It makes the most sense to build the appeal to moderates by building a case why the Conservatives are good for stability on positives, even if there isn't any "there" there.

It will be interesting to see how the Conservatives deal with Mulcair. I'm sure his dual citizenship with France will factor in, as the Tories try to question his allegiance to Canada. Given the NDP strongholds of Québec and urban centers, it won't matter much to the NDP base and pressing the issue could turn off the new Canadians that the Conservatives are trying to court.

It's over three years until the next Canadian election and it's a tad early to start being tiresome.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Trace Buster Buster

Yes, The Big Hit was a stupid movie, but is it any lamer than The Whole Nine Yards, another hitman movie shot in Canada in the late 90s? If anything, it's a bit uneven, but this scene with Lou Diamond Phillips always cracks me up.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The TSA Patdown-SFO Style

Full Body Scanner at Charleston, SC
A few weeks ago, I had to fly from SFO to JFK, which was the first time dealing with security at a major airport since the new full body scanners were implemented. Now, given I parked my car in Orinda and miscalculated a bit how long it would take to get to the BART station to get to the airport, I was running 30 minutes behind my initial plan. I had my boarding pass printed, but I was still sweating it a bit. 

Well, I got to the terminal around 10 minutes before boarding and 40 minutes before my flight. I saw the security line wasn't too bad, so I breathed a sigh of relief. I saw people going through the new scanners, which reminded me of some kind of huge radioactive photocopier or worse...

I noticed how nobody was opting out. There were signs and messages on the large screen TVs saying you could opt out, but I don't think I saw one person do so. Now, I think the press and the TSA have been trying to tout these things as safe and it's clearly not as bad as "carousel" in Logan's Run::

or a disintegrator chamber::

so, I thought the compliance behaviors indicated that there was little perceived risk by my fellow travelers.

Now, I do know that there's some controversy with mammograms, in that high risk women for cancer might be increasing their risks with that procedure. While the dosages are low, radiation has a differential effect on people. In other words, your mileage may vary. Practically every study on the topic states that unnecessary radiation should be avoided at all costs. It should be noted that the probability of dying from a terror strike and from radiation emitted from the scanners is the same

There is a controversy with these full body scanners—the radiation risks are unknown and Senator Susan Collins {R-ME} wants to change that with new legislation requiring thorough tests of the devices. TSA head John Pistole originally told the Senate that he would commission more independent research on the risks, after Europe banned the machines, but has waffled, subsequently.

While I was pressed for time, I thought a few extra minutes of a patdown might be worth avoiding extra radiation {there's cancer in the family}, so I opted out. The security agent was a bit surprised that someone was opting out and it took a while for a male agent to set things up for my screening. I could have opted for a private area screening, but I decided to be the daily spectacle. The guy was professional and told me exactly what he was going to do, in great forensic detail. Lots of attention on the collar and belt. I think they might be deliberately steering clear of people's "junk" after the San Diego incident

So, was it that invasive? Well, I'm really not one who enjoys strangers touching me, but it really didn't bother me that much. Maybe because I was more concerned about boarding my flight that I wasn't perturbed, but I must say I'm still much more spooked by the scanners. I could see how shut-ins, touchy feely types, and, well, pervs, might actually like the contact.

I've blogged on the radiation technology on ThickCulture in 2010 and I pretty much stand by those thoughts. I don't think these technologies are making us safer, but are giving the appearance that something is being done to make us safer.

I made my flight, but now I'm facing the JFK version of the same—unless I manage to get a flight out of White Plains.

Wes Anderson from Above

via LaughingSquid & Moonrise Kingdom's Facebook wall.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

newmusicmonday #101::The Darcy's AJA

The title might seem familiar—if not, maybe some of these tracks will ring a bell::


Black Cow
Deacon Blues
Home At Last
I Got The News

The Darcys of Toronto and on Toronto's Arts & Crafts Records offer this homage to Fagen & Becker that's free for download. Lending their avant garde atmospherics to the wryness of Steely Dan works quite well. They will embarking on a North American tour [see CBCr3] starting this week and going through March, including dates in LA, SF, Vancouver -BC, Chicago, Toronto, Brooklyn, & NYC-Bowery.

Twitterversion:: [blog] #newmusicmonday featuring @itsthedarcys. Free download of AJA from @artsandcrafts {via @StickyMagazine} @Prof_K

Saturday, January 21, 2012

San Francisco 1955 in 'Cinemascope'

This was posted on Thursday on The Atlantic via BoingBoing.
"It's the work of accomplished amateur filmmaker (and expert tinkerer) Tullio Pellegrini, who combined a 16mm Bell & Howell Cinemascope lens with the wonders of Kodachrome and made this homage to the city of San Francisco. You'll see Playland, our oceanside amusement park which was closed in 1972, very rare footage of the SkyTram (an extinct ride over Seal Rocks and Sutro Baths), and a brakescreeching ride down the Crookedest Street in the World."—Rick Prelinger

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Meta Ad:: Family Guy & Wheat Thins

I was watching both Downton Abbey and Family Guy, but the above ad on Fox caught my eye. Adweek made it an ad of the day on Thursday. It's a seamless integration of pitch and content, playing on a joke from the series from a few years back::

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Music & the Ad:: Toyota Prius V & Eliza Doolittle

I saw this Prius V commercial for the first time, as I slowly get accustomed to having TV again here in Eastbay—I've been watching broadcast digital signals with a converted attached to a very low-fi set. Anyway. This quirky ad continues the Toyota trend for Prius spots and the firm is wise to letting people in on information on the ad and music used. Here's a link to the 411 on last year's ads, including the 'Harmony' spot. The agency is Saatchi & Saatchi LA and is selling the concept of a hybrid hybrid, a hybrid car that is SUV like.

The artist on the Prius V commercial is Eliza Doolittle {Eliza Sophie Caird} and the song is "Rollerblades"::

Rollerblades by Eliza Doolittle on Grooveshark

and I had a vision of Steven Morrissey unironically hosting a UK show called "Pretty Songs Pretty Girls Make", featuring catchy songs and the theme song would be an updated cover of this. Anyway. Here's a video for Eliza Doolittle's "Rollerblades". Enjoy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Whose Panopticon Is It Anyway?

In Ontario, Canada last year there was a story of the OPP using digital cameras to scan license plates on highways. While law enforcement touts public safety, it cannot be ignored that an expired tag fine for the Jetta mentioned in the article is $110. Questions arose regarding privacy have come up in Ontario, as well as how long data is kept and for what purposes.

Now, in California, law enforcement is using the same ALPR, Automated Licence Plate Recognition, technology to scan plates for alleged criminals. In addition, a private firm, Vigilant Video, is collecting data in its National Vehicle Location Service. Contributions are made by law enforcement, as well as private citizens. Again, questions of privacy are cropping up, as it remains a question who will have access to this data and for what purposes and Vigilant isn't talking. In an era when employers are using credit histories as screening criteria, I think we need to question the use and potential misuse of such data. The EFF agrees. Given that cybersecurity is hardly secure, as shown by "anonymous", illegal access to this information is also a concern. The simplistic aphorism of "don't be evil" and you have nothing to fear has scant weight when there's no transparency with respect to what's in the database and its quality.

Twitterversion:: [video] Whose Panopticon Is It Anyway? CBS-5 story on the collection of license plate data & privacy issues in Calif. @Prof_K

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Silicon Valley Vs. Alley

I've been busy, so I'm a bit behind in following startup developments. This is somewhat interesting and is a good overview. I'd be interested in how regional advantages are manifested in both à la Saxenian, but those questions are better left to those out of the trenches in towers, ivory and otherwise.

Via MBA@UNC: Online MBA

Twitterversion:: [infographic] Silicon Alley Vs. Silicon Valley via UNC @Prof_K

"Moonrise Kingdom" Trailer-Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson's forthcoming Moonrise Kingdom looks like a return to all things darling and twee. Anderson's earlier work {Bottlerocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic} create a strong sense of place and typically managed to immerse the viewer into constructed worlds in a way that the characters' quirkiness doesn't grate on one's nerves. I'm quite interested in seeing this film—just the diversity of the cast alone piques my interest. Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, and Bruce Willis are sharing the screen in Altmasesque glory. Also, the fact that Roman Coppola co-wrote this seals the deal, as I have a huge soft spot for his CQ.  This could be one of the ensemble greats and it appears that Wes is returning to his familiar theme of love amidst quirksterdom and dysfunction.

Twitterversion:: [video] Trailer for #WesAnderson's moonrise Kingdom evokes his earlier films of quirkster sensibilities.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Lux-"The Window"

Lux has new music and it's a Monday, but they were featured already as newmusicmonday #73. The Seattle fuzzgaze band had a successful Kickstarter campaign and these are the initial fruits of those labors. I love how the melodious vocals juxtapose the and complement the catchy noisepop.

Twitterversion:: [] New music on a Monday from @luxkidsmusic from Seattle. Melodious vocals +catchy noisepop. @Prof_K

Friday, January 06, 2012

Let Them Eat Veggies

A photo of a "buff" Michelle Obama as Marie Antoinette is making the rounds again, due to an upcoming iCarly appearance. On the Nickelodeon sitcom, Michelle is referred to as "your excellency" and "sort of likes it". The right wing is having a field day and the left wing is calling foul, saying it's racist and evokes the "uppity negro" stereotype. The 'Shopped version of Gautier-Dagoty's iconic painting {below right} dates back to the summer of 2010.

The deconstruction of the tropes of leveling Michelle Obama seems to be a part of a theme in the way she's serving as a lightning rod for pundits and journos. Hillary Clinton faces the same battles and Condi Rice was targeted with a mid-2000s spoof site that was something like, so this isn't a clear cut left/right issue. In all instances, there seems to be a theme of defeminizing them by making them mannish, angry, or otherwise unattractive. It's not enough to have the Marie Antoinette Michelle be a symbol of being out of touch, but the burly arm reinforces the point that she's threatening to a set of ideals.