Monday, September 11, 2017

Preoccupations, Company Parties & Rick and Morty

Weekly Update 2017-37: Calgary-based Preoccupations rep the Canadian post-punk scene, how to sense the cultural climate of a company in a short amount of time, and finally falling victim to the awesomeness of Rick & Morty.

Music: Preoccupations
This band ran into some political trouble earlier in their career when they were denied shows because of their original band name as Viet Cong. The four-piece post-punk outfit from Calgary, Alberta has earned some mixed notoriety since their 2014 creation. All that aside, I think their music is extremely intricate, moreso with each listen. It's layered, it's textured, and one of their songs was featured in a dream I had last night. Literally not joking.

Check out the dream song Continental Shelf along with Bunker Buster, my original favourite and the first song I heard from the band.

Two big things this week – I'm starting the first class in the series called “How To Talk To People About Things” tomorrow night, and I couldn't be more excited. I've already completed the homework due next week because I am a keener. This series is a six-class workshop on better communication, taught by Misha Glouberman, the host of my favourite lecture series Trampoline Hall. I have always admired the way he fills a stage, makes a bashful yet pleasantly familiar stage character (though maybe that's how he is in real life?), and connects on a genuine level with guest speakers. I suppose the other accomplishment here is that I was accepted into the class, which must be difficult considering this was my second try for a spot. Luckily, my roommate was also accepted into the class and will be taking it with me.

The other thing is that I'm almost ready for my bat mitzvah! I've been studying my torah portion, as well as preparing my speech for the big day. The other two ladies and myself have the first of three rehearsals before we “perform” on October 11, so it's really getting close!

As mentioned above, I have a busy day tomorrow with the first in a series of instruction for both the communication workshop and my bat mitzvah, as well as further prep throughout the week.

I'm also going to check out Fort York library on Thursday, so maybe I can look into the 3D Printing facilities before then. That'll be ambitious, though.

Random Thought:
It can be difficult to sense the emotional/social climate of a company during a short visit. I've been meeting for coffee with various other designers in similar industries to mine, and taking note of the culture and cultural nuances of their offices. I would assume this to be helpful in sensing the cultural fit of an interview candidate with a team, so it's a good skill to have. It's sort of like reading people, but on a larger scale.

With startups and creative spaces, I've been noticing that cultural feel of a company often relates most reliably to its size, much like a house party. With only a few employees, the company is controlled, comfortable, everyone is on a first-name basis. Once a company passes the 100-employee mark, you may not even know what the party is being thrown for, or almost anyone there. You could bring a friend and no one would even notice.

Inspiration: Rick & Morty
After over two years of resistance, I got hooked on Rick & Morty this weekend. I feel like there are so many people still in the boat I just jumped out of, those who might say the show is too provocative or there's too much yelling and burping and farting. But this wacky cartoon on Adult Swim about a crazy, sadistic, super intelligent scientist and his jelly-spined grandson is much more than meets the eye.

Once you get three episodes in, you'll realize that under all the burps and fart jokes lies a few brilliant features of an extremely smart television show.

1) The art style is familiar, yet fresh
There's definitely a Simpsons/Futurama vibe here, but the attention to detail in some of the episodes is really insane. Especially character design, such as in the episode Total Rickall in which about 50 or so new characters are created, all with backstories of varying plausability:

There's also an amazing sequence created by 22 animators that showcases the two main characters in all sorts of situations on an LSD trip. It's bananas.

Check out the whole video below, and more about the project here.

2) The science of each episode is (somewhat) realistic
Yep, much of the science of the show, while extremely far-fetched most of the time, can usually be explained by some real scientific theory. From the way Pickle Rick was able to manipulate a cockroach's brain to which type of ant made up the superhero Million Ants, the show actually teaches us lessons about singularity, the universe, physics, chemistry, and the odd really obscure comedy reference as well.

Heck even this Comic Con special featuring the show's writers on the science of the show taught me a bunch of new things:

3) Character development
Yep, even with all the new and glorious worlds we can explore through Rick's spaceship, we still get to see how his dysfunctional family deals with his sadistic personality and each other. I honestly haven't seen such beautiful (and at times profoundly dark) character-driven storytelling in many other television shows, much less a cartoon show with so much gratuitous burping. There are lots of great articles around the internet attempting to explain the complex personalities of the show's main characters, including pity-inducing fail-father Jerry and ego-stricken, abandonment issues-riddled Beth.

With all that, not to mention the dark side of the internet I darenot go, where the Rick & Morty fandom is incredibly strong, this show is really going where no other show has gone before. I can't believe how addicted I've become!

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