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This Hour Has 22 Minutes does a nice job every once in a while. (For the record, Tempest is an astonishingly good album.)
Adam West’s Batman was light and fun and in stark contrast to Frank Miller’s turn on the character which launched the darker interpretations that we’re now used to (most notably in Christoper Nolan’s Dark Knight films.) Hearing West read Miller’s original groundbreaking comic should leave you with no doubt that Adam West is Batman, in all of his glorious incarnations.
In general, I quite like Apple’s Calendar. Compared to Outlook’s calendar it’s like a dream and don’t even get me started on Google…that’s a whole different thing.
Apple has a reputation for sweating the small details in interfaces, and while Calendar is pretty good there’s a couple of areas where it still comes up short. For one, the times of events can’t be entered in 24 hour time and there’s no indication of AM or PM when it pops up. This despite the fact that I have my time preferences set for 24 hour time and Calendar shows me the time of event in 24 hour time. Sigh.
There’s a more subtle problem when you select a date: I have my preferences set to start the week on Monday, which groups the weekend together at the end. This is actually an old habit from the days of carrying around a Filofax with week to two pages diary in it. The problem is when I select a date, the little tiny popup calendar doesn’t work that way—it runs from Sunday to Saturday.
This is a small thing, and it took me a very long time to notice it. It’s an interesting subtle miss though. If we were talking about a Microsoft product, I wouldn’t even be surprised but this is the kind of tiny detail that Apple has a reputation for catching, and they didn’t…and that’s interesting.
David Pogue (as usual) had one of the best reviews which concluded that “…the emperor had no clothes.” Neil promised us all a musical nirvana but, as it turns out, nobody could hear the difference (and if they could, they often thought the iPhone was better.) Go figure.
The Pono store’s been closed for a while online and the devices are nowhere to be found at retail. Neil Young’s most recent album can’t be bought for the Pono, and debuted on Tidal. Despite this, there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much coverage of the demise of Pono as there was of its rise.
At the end of the day Pono seems to have failed for the same reasons that a lot of things fail: a focus on building technology that people didn’t want or need. Ignoring the science tthat suggests that Pono’s “high resolution audio” claims provided benefits well outside the range of human hearing is one thing; ignoring the reality that most people aren’t focused on an “audiophile quality” portable solution is quite another.
Portable music needs to be good enough. What that means can change from person to person but look around at a world where people are using Apple’s bundled headphones (or Beats, and don’t get me started on those) and it’s hard to see a world where enough people are looking for an audiophile portable experience.
Need more evidence? Compact Cassettes were never fantastic for audio quality but their portability, durability and size led to the development of the Walkmen and the entire concept of highly portable music was born. I had thousands of Maxell XLII’s in the 80s (and, according to my friends, almost as many Walkmen.)
Pono? To even hear the theoretical benefits I’d have to repurchase all of my music at twice the price.
Pono was a product looking for a market. Sometimes, that just doesn’t work
(Inbox Negative One)
Apparently, I’ve read email messages I haven’t even gotten yet.
I actually find watching these types of effects reels a bit exhausting but this one’s Star Wars, so…here it is.
To be honest the best thing about this is that it shows how much of the film actually used CGI effects. There was a lot of press when the movie came out that focused on the fact that the movie relied on practical effects and the fact that made them “better” than the prequels. That may be partly true, but it was also a bit overstated.
At the end of the day movies rely on storytelling to succeed. The Force Awakens was no different, and it’s a better movie than the prequels because it had a better script and a better director—one who understands the fundamentals.
Great effects didn’t hurt though.
Kubo and the Two Strings is an exquisite movie to watch made with a story that’s just as compelling. The stop motion animation that defines the movie is so exquisitely well done that it’s easy to mistake it for traditional cel-based animated work.
The video above does a nice job of showing how far stop motion animation has come since the early days of film making. For what it’s worth I’d rather watch the original King Kong than that horrendous Peter Jackson remake from a few years ago any day.
Over the last few months I’ve leaned on my car more than usual for a variety of reasons—all of them good. Over the next little while it looks like that’s going to continue.
This makes these Swedish bike oriented apartments all the more interesting to me. It would be nice to see a project like this in Vancouver, but I think it’s going to take a good long while.
I joke, occasionally, about wanting to open a Jai Alai Fronton in Vancouver (or various other places that I visit) as part of a retirement plan. I had no idea the sport was in so much trouble. Gone are the heady days of Miami Vice and the Most Interesting Man in the World—Jai Alai, at least in the United States—appears to be dying.
Maybe…just maybe…it’s time for a revival?
As places go, Quarry Rock in Deep Cove ranks fairly high on the list of favourites. It’s a short, somewhat steep hike (one that, weirdly, I’ve always started from the top and not the bottom.) It was pouring in Vancouver today, so instead of the bike I opted to put boots to earth—a decision I haven’t made often enough lately. As it turns out, the smell of a wet rainforest was exactly what I needed.
New Multitudes is a couple of years old at this point, and it seemed to pass largely unnoticed at the time. That’s a shame, because it’s as fine a collection of previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie material as the Mermaid Avenue sessions and worth checking out. Jay Farrar’s vocals provide most of the highlights but there are fine performances throughout.
Every move that we make is thought of and rehearsed before, so it’s as safe as crossing the street.
I was at work yesterday when the news of Prince’s death broke—on my way to a meeting walking away from my desk when someone said it. I’m old—almost 45—at a company where most of my co-workers are in their 20s. One of the ways this manifests itself day to day is in their drastically differing musical backgrounds to mine. Some of them weren’t even born when the Joshua Tree was released and they have no way to understand the cultural impact that album had. When Bowie died, they didn’t even notice.
Not so with Prince. The rest of the day—at leas the parts I spent at my desk—saw this cross-generational company’s staff singing songs that were written before the Joshua Tree. Purple Rain featured prominently, but so did Little Red Corvette and 1999.
Prince was an immensely talented artist whose music left a longer footprint than most. That music was like nothing else because it took everything else, put it in a blender and came out the other other end sounding like something that was uniquely Prince, always interesting, radio ready but not boring sappy pop music.
Purple Rain was everywhere in 1984. The movie may be a mess but the album remains strong and vital and fresh over thirty years later. Put the record on and play side two, which runs rom When Doves Cry to Purple Rain—and I dare you not to play it again, and again. It shares that with a few albums—Springsteen’s Born to Run, The Joshua Tree, Hendrix’s Are You Experienced, anything Mile Davis ever released. That’s pretty rare company, and it’s company that Prince deserves to be in.
He was a restless explorer who didn’t sit still and who pushed at the boundaries. Those people aren’t suppose to die, but they do and he has. The world is a poorer place for it.
Today was one of those hard days—the kind of day where you feel like you’re floating listlessly, and nothing you do seems to bring you back to the place you want to be and you kind of just throw your hands in the air and give in to it.
The thing is, it had nothing to with me. Not, at least, in a direct way. These days things are pretty good for me. The end of last year was tough but right now I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. There’s lots of reasons for that but let’s just leave it with a simple one: things are going very very well, and I’m lucky every day to be living this little life I’m living.
This morning I got a couple of messages from one of my closest and oldest friends. The first note was the sort of thing that sets you up for bad news so I sort of steeled myself for a followup. My first instinct was to think that one of his parents had died. We’re the same age but his parents are quite a bit older than my mother so it wouldn’t be unexpected.
I was wrong. His parents are fine but his marriage is ending after something like 17 years. There have kids and while there’s a big part of me that recognizes that it’s probably better for them to be apart then to be together and unhappy in their lives it’s still a hard thing to hear. I love those kids, and his wife and my heart sank a bit at the news. There’s no single big reason: no easy infidelity or big lie to point to as the cause. They just drifted, which sometimes happens.
Marriages start and end all the time. Mine did so long ago that it’s mostly faded. I’ve other friends who’ve gone through it more recently, and I know that everyone will be OK in the end but today—for at least a day—I was just sad thinking about the end of something that started so well. They’ll be OK, and the kids will too—but it’s still a change. Life does that and the only option we have is to keep moving forwards through it.
They’ll wake up tomorrow staring into a future that was never planned for or invited into their lives, and one that’s not going to easy in the short term. One thing I know is that whatever my friends need is what I’ll give them and I hope at least one of them knows that right now.
“You can’t buy feel” Daniel Lanois’ has said on more than one occasion, and that explains much that there is to love about Rocco DeLuca musically. Their last Vancouver show ended with the entire band performing DeLuca’s Congregate and is one of my fondest memories of the last few years of many concerts. It made me put my camera down and just listen—and that doesn’t happen that often.
Dan Mangan’s Club Meds was a slow burn of an album. It was a dramatic departure from his earlier work—full of rich electrified sounds and as heavily produced as his earlier work was sparse, it was challenging for some of his fans. When I first wrote about it, I was vocal about the fact that I thought Vessel was a poor choice for a lead single. Forgetery was a standout track from the album, and it’s nice to see it still getting support in the form of a beautiful new video.
Birch Trees become a muse of sorts fairly often when I visit Ontario. We don’t have them out west—we have Aspects instead (or Poplars as they’re known in some areas.) Aspens are nice but their bark is more of a silvery grey colour and there’s something about the pure white of birch bark that I find appealing. I grew up around them, and they’re not really a part of my life anymore. I miss them some.
I’m in Ontario, and have been for a few days. As always, these trips are bittersweet for me.
As a society, it seems like the west has been looking to the east for a glimpse of our future for a long time now—most specifically, Japan. With a housing crisis in Vancouver and salaries falling below where they do in much of the rest of Canada, it may not be long before we see the same type of situation as this video describes. There’s already a significantly outsized working poor population characterized by shared accommodations and lives lived in single room occupany hotels that are meant for, really, short term accomodations.
The future doesn’t always seem so bright, does it?