December 17, 2008 by Colin
It’s like Daft Punk or Kraftwerk had written a paen to me!
December 17, 2008 by Colin
I am a giant technology nerd. And an old one at that. When I spotted this poster at the corner of Bay and Wellington in Toronto, I had two thoughts: “Is this a WiFi hotspot? Out here?” and “What’s so special about Personal Digital Assistants that they need a designated zone?”
And then I realized that no-one has called them Personal Digital Assistants in at least three years. PDAs, to me, are what we used to call our Palm handhelds and Franklin-Covey digital organizers.
Which makes me an old nerd, clinging to comfortable and out-dated acronyms.
(It’s actually produced by Nando’s, the chicken chain, promoting personal displays of affection)
December 13, 2008 by Colin
“Disney’s Tomorrowland is deeply, thoroughly, almost furiously unimaginative. This isn’t the fault of the “Disney culture”; it is the fault of our culture. We seem to have entered a deeply unimaginative era.” (PJ O’Rourke in the Atlantic)
Obviously, O’Rourke has some significant issues with the redesign of the venerable park, inflamed by an Associated Press story about the redesign that originally ran in February and confirmed during a visit to Disneyland with his family earlier this year.
This is not a new topic: Tomorrowland was originally built in 1955, rebuilt for the 1967 season, “renewed” in 1998, and new components were unveiled earlier this year.
(flickr is strewn with pictures from all three eras: pre-67, pre-08 and today)
“In updating Tomorrowland these days, where thematic concept has gone off-track – - for the original Disneyland anyway, as Walt had a specific vision for his work and park that should be maintained – - is to discard the idea of utopian modernism.
When Imagineers turn instead to recent trends in fantasy-science-fiction, Hollywood (Star Wars), eco-futurism (agri-future gardens), dark apocalyptic vision (Alien Encounter), cartoon franchise marketing (Buzz Lightyear) or nostalgic pre-modern futurism (Jules Verne, steampunk), it no longer feels like Walt Disney’s Tomorrowland …
Disneyland should always be a complementary platter of Past, Future, Fact and Fantasy, Nostalgia and Challenge in all its angles, a unified timeline with a running theme. The recipe for the future is on the dedication plaque.
Go back? Go forward?
It’s easy to decry a lack of imagination or reliance upon corporate sponsorship on Disney’s part, especially if a portion of your childhood memories are vested in the fantastic and seemingly unattainable technologies first imagined and sold forty years ago.
With the acceleration of personal technology, Disney executives recognized ten years ago that all of Disney’s vaunted imagineers and the displays at Tomorrowland would never be able to outrun the work of millions of nerds, techies and scientists.
“Nicholas Negroponte, [former] director of the media laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of whose sponsors is Disney, thinks that the company has realized that the future, as it unfolds today, is no longer good entertainment.
”The story line just doesn’t carry with it the same sort of punch as going off to the Moon,” he said. ”Things like highly personalized information services and computer agents that do things for you just don’t make a good story.” (NY Times, February 1997)
*”Technical Difficulties” hed lifted from a Wired article about the rationalization of the Imagineering team.
December 12, 2008 by Colin
Can I just say, Retrontario has a fantastic YouTube channel? Wendel Clark and Lloyd Moseby pass along a typically Canadian wintertime public service announcement.
December 12, 2008 by Colin
That’s Gary Schyman, folks. He’s composed snippets of music for video games like Resistance:Retribution and my favourite, Destroy All Humans. He’s also worked on the sound for classic television shows like Magnum P.I, the “A” Team, and Greatest American Hero.
Ah, the irony. The only person whose career survived and even flourished after that swath of early eighties advernture hijinks was a guy who worked behind the scences.
December 8, 2008 by Colin
Ooooh, lingonberry. You tart little condiment. Most people know you from the lunchtime special at the regional IKEA, but you’ve become a shorthand reference for nearly anything Scandinavian (witness this article from the NYT: “Death Metal Sweetened by a Taste of Lingonberry“).
In my cupboard, I have two varieties of lingonberry jam: one from IKEA, one from President’s Choice. I bought one, and the other came in a nice little holiday gift package courtesy of PC as part of an effort to promote their 25th Anniversary Insider’s Guide.
Would you like the results of the taste test?
IKEA: round distinguishable berries, slightly sweet taste (more sugar, according to the nutritional label), bouncy and firm jelly.
President’s Choice: slightly mushier berries, a touch of saltiness (borne out by the nutritional label), and a less firm consistency.
Both are easily spreadable, make a nice contrast to meatballs or potatoes. I’d have to say the IKEA lingonberries look better as an individual dollop, simply because of the berry size and condition (how’s that for obsessive? I’ve spent a lot of time at IKEA).
Lingonberry, open faced sandwiches and a bewildering array of pickled herring may be the culinary markers that fix Sweden in our minds, but the Swedish government has far greater designs:
“Perhaps Sweden isn’t the first country that comes to mind today when you think of food and food tourism. And that’s what the Government wants to do something about. As the Government sees it, Sweden has every chance of becoming Europe’s leading food nation.” (Sweden: the new food nation, August 2008)
December 7, 2008 by Colin
Yeah. Christmas not looking like a big family day for you this year? Anticipating being kicked out of the dinner festivities and wondering where you can get something to eat? Or maybe you expect the turkey to be dry and inedible, just like every year?
Don’t worry – McDonalds is making plans just for you.
On a similar theme, please enjoy Patton Oswalt’s riff about KFC’s “failure pile in a sadness bowl.”
December 2, 2008 by Colin
As the NYTimes notes in its obituary, Bill Drake introduced innovations in radio formatting that now seem commonplace. A profile first run in Time Magazine’s August 23, 1968 edition gives us an idea of how ground-breaking his innovations truly were:
“Once new jocks are hired, they are drilled for a couple of months in the Drake style. The big idea is to unclutter and speed up the pace. The next recording is introduced during the fadeout of the last one. Singing station identifications, which sometimes run at oratorio length elsewhere, are chopped to H seconds on Drake stations. Commercials are reduced to 13 minutes, 40 seconds an hour—about one-third less than the U.S. average. Newscasts are scheduled at unconventional times, such as 20 minutes after the hour. Thus, when the competition is carrying news, Drake-trained deejays run a “music sweep” (three or four recordings back-to-back) to lure away dial switchers.”
“Should he hear a disk jockey he doesn’t dig, Drake gets on the blower (he has 21 phones around the house, including one in each of the five bathrooms).“When that phone rings,” says one old jock, “you know it’s death time, man.”
“Sometimes he will go unannounced to the town of one of his clients and just check into a motel, dial-hop around the radio, and then decide how to beat the competition. For example, the program director of Memphis’ WHBQ says that his Drake-ordered strategy is to go for “the schoolteacher who lets her hair down, forgets the Mantovani, and swings a little.” (Time Magazine)
November 30, 2008 by Colin
That would be “Cowboy,” from the Blastoids (MySpace). Liberal use of old wrestling footage, perfectly clean yet strangely erotic clips from “Twenty Minute Workout” alongside the wholesome “You Can’t Do That On Television” – the Ottawa-based home of the green slime head dump.
Oh, and a little too much footage of roller blading douche bags.
November 29, 2008 by Colin
On the occasion of Claude Levi-Strauss’ 100th birthday, a quote about the great anthropologist:
“Roger-Pol Droit, a philosopher who read from “Tristes Tropiques,” said that he “would have loved a text from Lévi-Strauss today saying, ‘I hate birthdays and commemorations,’ just as he began ‘Tristes Tropiques’ saying, ‘I hate traveling and explorers.’ “
“This is all about the effort of making him into a myth,” Mr. Droit continued, “because that is what we do in our time.” (NYTimes)
November 27, 2008 by Colin
November 24, 2008 by Colin
November 23, 2008 by Colin
There’s some construction underway at the Eiffel Tower- work that apparently requires a three story stack of construction office modules. Some forethought in placement and decoration mean that the heritage feel and tourist charm isn’t harmed – very much.
November 22, 2008 by Colin
November 17, 2008 by Colin
Spotted in the 16ieme arrondissement – a design adaptation meant to protect this car from the close parking and bad driving of fellow Parisians. That’s a mint Mini. Tied to the back bumper? Two hard plastic bumpers normally found hanging off the gunwales of small boats.