Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Social Networking v. Social Networking

Take a moment, if you like, and think back to a simpler time. No, not stories of your grandfather's cotton gin or stoking the fire in a secluded log cabin in the woods, but a time still somewhat recognizable from our current technologically-dependent day.

When I say the phrase "social networking", what comes to mind? You're probably thinking about those websites we all visit much too often, like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, the now-deceased Myspace, etcetera. It's not really your fault, kids, that's just the way you were conditioned by others like yourselves.

I looked out the window of my room the other day, onto my considerably suburban street. I was reminded of when I was much younger, and all the kids would go outside to play after school. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a life changing experience fraught with the most fun I've ever had, but it was how we socially networked back in the day.

And for people in generations older than my own, there was meeting people in real life, going to box socials (or what-have-you), being sociable in actual, face-to-face methods, hanging out the old-fashioned way. We still have these methods today, but they seem almost a dying art to me. Even when I want to hang out with friends, we often end up using Facebook or some other technology to include others into the social event of the day.

There is definitely something to be said of the value of communicating face-to-face. I find technology very impersonal and a crude way to convey emotion and feeling. Here I am, telling you about my experiences and opinions, and what kind of message are you absorbing in the cold light of a computer screen? Blogs are good because they are accessible by many people all over the world, but what if I wanted my opinions and writings to be seen by a select few? Wouldn't that make the message all the more pertinent than being in a public forum for every Joe Schmoe to see?

I think it's time that everyone (or at least myself, for a start) make a conscious decision to enjoy the finer aspects of face-to-face social networking. Go outside, feel the warm sun on your face, and have a chat with your neighbour. Don't search your facebook friends for someone who absent-mindedly clicked "like" on the topic of pets. Go walk your dog, iguana, or mutant space rat and meet someone else who loves pets.

This, children, is the lost art of the real social networking.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ontario Electronics Stewardship

The coolest commercial for minor environmental change that I have ever seen:

Talk about a boring topic suddenly becoming the coolest thing ever! Techno beats and bright neon colours = both very trendy right now, not to mention getting rid of your old electronics for new ones with bright, shiny colours?

I am a somewhat young individual and I love this campaign. It's nice to know that in such a fast moving technnological age, we can find ways to make our waste less...wasteful. I am very interested in environmental concerns relating directly to things that I can do in my daily life, and this campaign certainly rings the bell. Not only did the commercial offer me a way to help the environment, but it was so catchy and eye-popping that I remembered the name of the organization and googled it later. Upon that googling, I was somewhat disappointed.

When I visited the website of the organization, I was dismayed to see an outdated, plain green layout. The website was not interactive, much less catchy and even less eye-popping. I wondered why they had chosen to revamp themselves (much needed at that) only through commercials and advertisements and then stop there. Did they think that once they hooked people enough to visit their website, that would be enough to keep them there?

And then I thought about the fact that young people these days need strong design and creative advertising in order to remember products and services. Even though something may be as important as recycling old electronics (otherwise the landfills will be full of outdated computer monitors...oh wait, they already are), I was disappointed by the plain website and promptly lost interest in the idea altogether. Does that make me a bad person? In this generation, why must something stimulate our brains to the nth degree before we choose to care about it? Maybe I'll go and give the website another look.

You should, too.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Past, Present, Future

Have you ever wondered what the world will look like in the future? The end of our existence (12/21/12) is looming ever nearer, we are getting fatter and stupider at an exponential rate, and soon robots will probably enslave all of mankind. At least we can enjoy cheeseburgers and steaks in pill form! Yum yum, medicinutrition!

And for those of us born without the creativity gene, have you ever noticed just how much speculation there is in the media about what the future will be like? Let's review some examples.

1) The Jetsons
Genre: Television Cartoon
Created: 1962
Based on: 2062
Notes: Hanna-Barbera, the other-white-meat mastermind of cartoons for audiences of all ages, created The Jetsons as a counterpart to their hit cartoon The Flintstones, which was based on prehistoric times. The Jetsons was created to be the model of a futuristic utopia of elaborate robotic contraptions, aliens, holograms, and whimsical inventions, but nowadays, it is apparent that the styles and themes of those times are reflected in this version of the future. In the following picture, the most obvious detail is the style of clothes and hair depicted on Jane, the mother of the family. Her style is clearly based off of 60's fashion. Jane is also a stay-at-home mother, but as they are a somewhat well-off family, she does nothing but lounge around and visit the beauty parlour while the maid, Rosie the robot, cleans up after the family. Rosie's voice, while rather metallic, is loosely based off of a black woman, who in the United States at that time, would commonly make her living as a maid to a rich white family. Even the build of Rosie's plump form and maid's uniform give away the racist stereotype shown here. Perhaps not the most accurate depiction of the future. Plus, I really don't think we are so ready to give up our precious ground yet. Ending note: the fiftieth anniversary of this gem in popular culture lands in 2012! Spooooky.
The Jetson family (clockwise from upper left) — Rosie (robot), George, Jane, Judy, Elroy, and Astro the dog.

2) Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Genre: Book (turned movie)
Created: 1948
Based on: 1984
Notes: We all read this famed novel in high school, and we all analyzed it until we were blue in the face, but I'm going to take a more simplistic approach. The novel outlies a dystopia in which we are all controlled by an overseeing 'big brother' who watches our every move and manipulates our minds with ceaseless propaganda spouted from every nook and cranny. No one has any real freedom, even though they are hypnotized to believe that they are free to do as they please. The protagonist, Winston Smith, is a civil servant responsible for perpetuating the Party's propaganda by revising historical records to render the Party omniscient and always correct, yet he is eventually pushed to the breaking point of seeking rebellion against the government, eventually leading to his arrest, torture, and reconversion.

I'll make a simply statement rather than going into the gory details as we all have so many times before. Just how similar to our present day is this novel? Don't answer quickly, think about it. No one accuses us of 'thoughtcrime' in this day and age...or do they?

3) En L'An 2000 by Villemard
Genre: Art (Postcards)
Created: 1910
Based on: 2000
Notes: Even postcards can predict the future, if they so choose. A little background information from BoingBoing:

The Bibliothèque nationale de France has a wonderful gallery of illustrations by Villemard from 1910 imagining what life would be like in the year 2000. It's part of a larger exhibition titled Utopia: The Quest for the Ideal Society in the Western World. BB's Paris liaison, Alex Boucherot, editor of Fluctuat, kindly provided a rough translation of the Villemard gallery description:
These labels, most probably intended to be found in food products, were presented on panels of a dozen little scenes. They illustrate the way our grandparents imagined the year 2000. The inventions meant to improve everyday life are seen side by side with more erudite or searchful vocations, but curiously the clothing fashion remains that of the Belle Epoque!
I hope they're not an idealized society today! It seems that the general opinion of fashion sense has not changed one bit. Let's have a gander.
But how does the boy cranking the wheel gain his knowledge?

Some sort of building on wheels? Looks like a clunkier version of a train to me.

Why haven't we invented these machines yet?

I don't think this will catch on. People just aren't comfortable
with machines grooming them, even in this technological age.

Some sort of motorized bicycle...yeah, we have those.

Look, Walter, flying machines!

I won't even touch on this one. Moving on.

So there you have it. Having read this blog post, you can now effectively predict the future. Congratulations! Don't use this power for evil, though, because after all, we may never learn how to make motorized roller skates or racist robotic nannies. Such a sad outlook on the world I have! Never you mind, of course we will. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Desert Island Mix

You're stranded on a desert island. You probably know where this is going...but wait! A twist! Instead of bringing three items with you, you can only bring ten songs with you. Guess we're going without television, food, and personal hygiene for a while, ladies and gents.

Okay. In no particular order, here are ten songs I can't live without.

1) Satellite by Guster
This is an amazing band from California and I fell in love with them on a roadtrip to Quebec a few years ago. Best song, hands down. For some reason, they've been playing this song more and more in shopping mall P.A. systems over the past few years. The song is already seven years old!

2) Hard Times by Ray Charles
Ever just wanna listen to some sad, sad music? Ray Charles is a freaking genius. That is all I have to say about that.

3) Parting of the Sensory by Modest Mouse
There is something indiscernible about the voice of Isaac Brock, the lead singer of Modest Mouse. He has this weird lisp-y thing going on, it's addictive. This is probably the best song about the relationship between life and death ever made.

4) The High Road by Broken Bells
Can you get any better than James Mercer, god-like lead of The Shins and Danger Mouse, original half of Gnarls Barkley with Cee Lo Green? Well, you can try, really really hard.

5) Courage (for Hugh Maclennan) by The Tragically Hip
Theeeeee ultimate travelling song. At least, in my family it is. We always listen to this song in the car stereo when we're driving somewhere. Which lasts about ten minutes before my dad puts something old and lame on and we all put in our headphones. But, for four minutes, there was some quality family time in there. Plus, what's more Canadian than The Hip? I'm sorry, the answer is NOTHING.

6) Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix
There are three ways to listen to this song. 1) Listen to it plainly and enjoy the awesome sound. 2) Look up the lyrics and make your own guess as to what the song is about. 3) Go onto song meaning websites and laugh at silly people and their 'subliminal messages'. Hahaha.

7) The Geeks Were Right (Boys Noize VS D.I.M. Remix) by The Faint
As if the original wasn't good enough, we now have a crazy five and a half minute dance party. I love when good electronic songs become great electronicA songs. The A matters.

8) Spoonful by Howlin' Wolf
Parental influence...sorry. This is a great intro to blues for anyone wanting to pick up a nasty habit. Remember to repeat every lyric twice. That's what makes it blues, children.

9) Blue Monday by New Order
Why bother looking for dance music made in this decade? The eighties have everything you need. This is a great song because I really believe that it is impossible to get sick of.

10) I Don't Like To - Shad
My favourite rapper. He is from Toronto and he is a teddy bear. And he doesn't rap about bitches or glocks! Amazing! Did you know this kind of rap existed? He he he...this is the first time I've actually seen the video...oh well, don't let that sell you. Listen.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Who's Smartest?

Children, put away your books and separate your desks. Here come the two most hated words in the English language, POP QUIZ.

Question 1)
What is 5 to the power of 10?
a) 5
b) 50
c) 5,000,000
d) 9,765,625

Question 2) What is the population of China? (as of 2009)
a) 1,000,000,000
b) 10,000,000,000
c) 9
d) 1,331,460,000

Question 3) How many divots are there on a standard-issue golf ball?
a) 307
b) 250
c) 456
d) 411

Question 4) What is the longest flight time for a chicken?
a) 60 seconds
b) 3 minutes
c) 6 minutes
d) Thirteen seconds

Question 5)
Upon the googling of "George W. Bush", what is the first item shown on the list?
a) The White House Website
b) Monkeys of the world unite
c) Largest failures of the United States
d) George Bush Wikipedia Page

So...the answer to all of these questions was D. Now, I don't really care what score you achieved, you little brown-noser, go tell your mama. The point of this little exercise was to see how you answered the questions. If you're reading my blog, you're obviously connected to the internet, so the answers are right at your fingertips from the get-go. But, I want to know what kind of technology you actually used. I feel like these days, so many people that I know (who will here be considered as the young adults of metropolitan Canada) have smartphones. Did you use your smartphone or other large-brained handheld device? If so, I have some bad news for you.


So it seems that we have harnessed technology and made it miniature so we can carry the entire encyclopedia of human information in the butt pockets of our Levi's jeans. To be honest, I'd be kind of embarrassed for you if you got any of those questions wrong.

Imagine forty years ago, when our smartest scientists were building the first computer. It was as large as a house, and probably had about enough RAM to win a game of tic-tac-toe (the trick is to start in the corner, not the middle). Can't fit that in your pocket...even if you're on Atkins.

So I have an idea...this is gonna be crazy. Why don't we dumb down our phones? What would happen if everyone carried around these things that just answered calls? They wouldn't do anything else, they wouldn't play games or answer skill testing questions...they would just be phones. They wouldn't be smart, they'd just be. Everyone is throwing away their regular phones for smartphones, but if we did that to our friends we'd be called some very mean names and maybe even have some rotten produce thrown at us. 

So maybe, next time you're looking for a phone, you'll keep in mind that there are some normal average-I.Q. phones that need a home in your pocket too. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Elections 2011

As many other citizens aged 18+ across Canada recently, I have contracted a small case of elections fever. I was so excited for the chance to vote in an election where something could actually change this time around. For example, the man running for the Liberal party in my riding has been the elected candidate since 1997. Everyone I know votes for him, and he does a good job. But now, no one wants the Liberal party leader, Michael Ignatieff, to run the country, so they are saying sayonara to Mr. Loyal Riding Leader in favour of the Conservative riding chap. I certainly don't know anything about him or where he came from, and I don't really believe that anyone else does either, but they have all decided that they care more about their vote towards the Prime Minister than they do about who runs their riding.

Personally, I hate the fact that everyone says they would rather "throw their vote away on the Green Party", because they seem like the underdog who never gets his bone. I don't know how Elizabeth May would do in office (after the shock wore off, of course), but no one else does either and we will never know until we start taking the party seriously. And why not have a woman in office? A refreshing change in this young voter's eyes. In any case, I didn't get my way but I am certainly relieved that Ignatieff is not running our country.

I have heard some of the young voters say (via twitter, etc.) that they are voting NDP based on the fact that Jack Layton is attractive to them. I just don't know what to do with this information. But in any case, I'm glad to see another party in the running for the money other than the Liberal and Conservative we know so well. Whether this is based solely on his (questionable) good looks or otherwise.

There was a lot of buzz over the fact that the Conservative party used the NDP as the basis of their attack in a commercial. As anyone with a television in Canada knows, the Liberals and Conservatives are constantly taking shots at each other this way, so I guess that the Conservative Party feels that the NDP is so much of a threat that they need some attention too. Jack Layton must have been rejoicing when he saw this ad.

That's a pretty good photoshopping of Layton "whispering lovingly" into Gilles Duceppe's ear. How quaint. I think I'll send it out as my christmas card this year.

Anyway, so I figured that if I was already in this deep, that I would just go all the way, and I got a job on elections day (May 2). I opted to be a Poll Clerk at a high school in my riding, and it was somewhat eventful. I certainly got an inside look at the voting process, and a little bit of stupidity on the part of our dear voting public. Out of the 190 ballots I received with my Deputy Returning Officer, only one rejected ballot - all of the parties were "x"ed off. Why would you vote if you're just going to check off everyone's name on the ballot? Even if we were able to count that ballot, it would just raise everyone's standing by the same amount, therein doing nothing. In any case, your voice was not heard by anyone except myself, my DRO, and anyone reading this blog. Hope you feel like you made a difference to your political representation.

There was actually quite a varied demographic of people doing the tasks that I had come to do, such as some 60 year old ladies, other young voters such as myself, and even some middle-aged people. I guess everyone was interested in seeing how these things work.

After two hours of training, twelve hours of sitting at a desk crossing names off a list, and a very intense hour of the Ballot Counting Extravaganza, I think that although some say this election was a waste of money, it allowed me to benefit both intellectually and monetarily. I had a good time watching our election system at work, and I would probably do the job again. I'm calling another election!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chaaange Plllaces!

Logos are crazy little things, but they're very powerful. Even when we don't realize it. When I say Golden Arches, what comes to your mind? Mmmm, time for a cheeseburger, I think. They're these tiny little designs that look like they took no time at all to create, but really they are some of the most carefully planned pieces of design. For example, did you know that the reason why McDonalds chose red and yellow for their brand was because those are the two colours that make us the hungriest? Don't paint your bedroom red or you'll be waking up for a lot of midnight snacks.

One of my favourite logos is the new Baskin Robbins logo. The company has been around since 1945 and both namesakes were actually real people, but this logo was created in 2006, when the company changed corporate hands. Half of the B of Baskin and half of the R of Robbin come together to create a logo within the logo: the fact that they have always served 31 flavours. I also like the word "flavourite". Too bad it isn't catching on in everyday speech.

"Hey, Jimmy! I bought some Ketchup chips for your party!"
"How considerate of you, they're my flavourite!"

There was quite a kerfuffle over the change to the Gap's iconic logo in late 2010. The old logo was reinstated only a week after the new one was introduced, and the new Gap logo was never to be seen again (except in disgruntled blogs all over the internet). Note: I enjoy the use of Helvetica in their new logo, attempting to be hip to the American Apparel crowd I would assume.
iTunes also changed its logo recently in its 10th interface update, which I assume only scared some users of the program because there are always bugs popping up in any major changes to the program. It is for this same reason that I wait a long time to download new iTunes interfaces. Yes, I am one of those iTunes OCD-ers who needs to have every single piece of album art and album title correct, and I change all of the un-capitalized words to capitals too. Don't judge me, I just don't want three years of work to be deleted by a bug in a "fixed" program.
Via Hipster Runoff's costume contest of 2010, one dude sure does love his new iTunes logo. Good on ya, man. Rock on.

It kind of seems like logos these days are taking a turn for the simpler, versus say, 5-10 years ago, when everything was shiny and bubbly (like the old iTunes logo and to a lesser extent, the new one as well). For example, I clicked the Google Chrome Quick Links icon to open a new internet page, and I thought that my little icon looked a bit different. After some googling, I found that the logo had indeed been changed without my knowledge!
Yes, blown up, of course there is a difference, but when they're really small, I cannot be held liable for not noticing a small change (the colours are still basically the same). This is what I mean by shiny and bubbly (case one) becoming simplistic and colour-blocked (case two). I really like both logos, and I definitely like them better than both the Internet Explorer and Firefox icons. Have you noticed, though, that all three contain a blue sphere being encircled by an ethereal...thing? Seems like the Earth has a lot of internet-related energy floating around it, which, if you think about it, is kind of true! Funny how they're all very similar though.
Logos are invented (hopefully) to be around for a long time. They give a feel to your brand, they market it to certain types of people, they remind people of the brand/product, and they can even be a way of life. Re-inventing a logo can go horribly wrong (see: Gap), sending a company back to the drawing board with its tail between its legs, or it can be successful and make the product more successful as well. If a logo is good enough, it will stick in your mind and nag at you to go purchase its product over and over until you give in. I could certainly go for some Very Berry Strawberry Ice Cream right now, I can tell you that. Maybe I'll go get some...

And so we end with this, a piece of nostalgia for you. I give you, the birth of the Google Chrome logo of old.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Seven Deadly Sins in Media

I'm sure you've heard of the seven deadly sins. You know, those pesky little attributes that everyone is supposed to shy away from in order to live a life bound for heaven when we die. Of course, I don't ask you to believe in these things and to each their own, but I ask you to make some connections with me between these ways of life and media as we know it today.

We all know that we should try to give in to these vices as little as possible, but media makes it so much easier and attractive to lose our way. Here are some connections I have made between the deadly sins and media-related trappings.

1) Gluttony - Epic Meal Time
As our geography teachers and mothers constantly remind us, there are starving children in Africa! And yet we have so much food in the Western world that we can afford to make grotesque "feasts" out of large amounts of food, not to feed ourselves or to gain sustenance, but for the sole purpose of Youtube views. What a world.

2) Pride - Facebook
Finally, a social place where those who are vain enough to stare at themselves in the bathroom mirror for hours can allow us to do the same! Facebook users have gone out of control with this incessant profile-padding. I don't need to be assured of how "hot" someone is, or how many friends they have, or just how straight they can get their hair with fourteen hours of hot-ironing. And I definitely don't need to know that your so-called "father" is listed on Facebook as your friend named Katie. Unless that is true. In which case, I retract my comment.

3) Sloth - Online Gaming
I don't know that much about these kinds of games, but I have seen firsthand what they can do to your average human male aged 12-40. These are the events that take place (in roughly the same order each time a new game comes out).
  1. Discover future release of game
  2. Pre-order game
  3. Obsess over release of game
  4. Buy new television, cancel work shifts for next four months
  5. Buy game
  6. Play game for 36 hours straight
  7. Bathroom break/Food eating (optional)
  8. Play game until sleep/death sets in
I have never seen Cooking Mama Cook-Off do this to anyone. JUST A HINT.

4) Envy - Better ____ (Fill In The Blank) Magazines
You have seen them on the newsstands, Better Living, Better Kitchens, Better Cars, etc, why do we always feel like we need these objects that will "make our lives better" such as new blenders or electric foot baths. I dare the people who read these magazines not to buy a single item for a whole day. What a challenge!

5) Greed - Advertisements
There are so many advertisements all around us, all because corporations just want to get richer and richer off of our stupidity and lack of self-control. We have advertisements in our movies, email, breakfast cereal, milk cartons, even in places where we don't even know we're being advertised to!
Exhibit A)

Did you notice the iPhone in that picture?

Exhibit B) The judges of American Idol always have Coke glasses (in their iconic shape) in front of them, with the logo just-so partially showing to the camera. This is all purposeful.

6) Wrath - The Art of Suing and The Impact of Violence
I have two schools of thought for this one, and they kind of blend into each other. We have all become so incredibly desensitized to violence, whether it be in video games, action films, rap songs or anything else, that when we see violence in real life, we don't even blink an eye. Not only that, but the problem has escalated to the point that we are actually copying the things we see in these violent video games, for example, and we are causing real-life harm to ourselves and others.

Furthermore, everything in media has a name-tag attached to it. Everyone wants their credit (whether it is due or otherwise), and we will do anything to get it. That may mean suing others because they came up with an idea that, in some small way, relates to an idea we "say" we came up with first. We feel that we are entitled to some form of the compensation they are earning, things just escalate from there. And, in a horrible mix of these two things, many people are suing video game companies because their children are emulating the things they see when they play the video games. The whole thing has spiraled out of control and I think everyone needs to just calm down.

7) Lust - Sexually Inappropriate Song Lyrics or Music Videos
I just don't even know what to do with this.
I really like the song. It's good. Don't get me wrong. But this video, what is the message here? I completely understand if you didn't watch it all the way through. I didn't want to. Nothing really needs to be said about the video that you can't glean from watching it, so I'll just leave it alone.

Well, there you have it, you now know exactly what to watch out for in these technological days of yonder. I hope you are able to use this handy guide in your daily life, and if you want to know more about the seven deadly sins, you should watch the movie Se7en. It's a great take on the sins as represented in our modern times.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Clever Advertising

Today, I was on Facebook. Now, don't look at me like that, I don't normally use Facebook for more than 15 minutes a day, if at all. But this was a scientific experiment you see. My friend mentioned to me a while back that apparently, Facebook takes all of the information you put into your "Info" area of your profile and provides specific ads on the sidebar which relate to the information you have shared. Can you believe the incredible craftiness of that? I mean, first, I didn't believe this to be true. Then, I promptly forgot about it, and then, I remembered it and went on Facebook to see if it was true.

First, I looked over the information I had provided to Facebook. There wasn't a lot of it, except for a few art-related hobbies and other things. I have never really seen a point in keeping up with my "info" page because no one really reads it anyway and if anyone I have on Facebook wanted to gather information about my interests, I hope they would just ask me in person (which here means posting on my wall, of course). The only area that I keep up to date is the music section, because it is linked to an application that tells me about upcoming concerts near me. Handy, right?

I made a list of all of these interests and miscellaneous things, and then I surfed Facebook with no real purpose but to take careful notice of which ads appeared on the sidebar. Here are my findings.

I don't know how I feel about this! I actually found some really cool links through these ads, like Modcloth Clothing, and a now-extinct indie dance game site LoudCrowd, but is this a misuse of the information we post on Facebook? Should the fact that our info is used in this way be more circulated? I didn't know about this until a month ago and I have been using Facebook for five years. Now that I think about it though, if I had been more observant, I might have been able to spot it. I remember once seeing an ad for a fashion surveying company, seeking females exactly my age. After my birthday passed, I saw the ad again, with the age changed to fit my new age. I have also been seeing a lot of formalwear ads, so I wonder if Facebook takes into account that I am a senior and assumes that I am shopping for a dress for May/June.

If you want to test this theory (as I have no proof...yet), try putting really obscure things into your Information and see what ads Facebook provides you with. Or better yet, make every single topic (activities, interests, music, books, etc.) the same thing (i.e. sauerkraut) and see how many ads come up with a relevancy to preserved German foods. Remember to report back!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Decline of Board Games

I don't know about you, but I love board games. And I don't mean playing board games, I'm saying that I love the whole idea of them. The mix of tactile sensation of all the little pieces and cards and dice, some friendly competition, and inclusion of your favourite people all gathered around a small, flimsy piece of cardboard keyed up with bright primary colours.

Back before video games and television primetime, what did people do? When families used to actually have conversations, what did they do to pass the time? They played board games! These days, no one really appreciates them as much as they used to, even as much as ten years ago, when there was a steady pace of board game commercials on television as well (and not lame ones, either, but actual, honest-to-goodness well constructed board games).

I think we need to penetrate the 'gaming' market again with board games. As opposed to video games, they are great for bringing people together socially and actually stimulating conversation and companionship. The only conversation that video games establish is when you scream curses at your teammate at the top of your lungs for accidentally shooting you instead of your opponent. And more often than not, you don't even know your teammate because you're talking to them through the magic of internet from halfway around the world. If people actually forged relationships this way, I might see some benefit but all I have ever experienced through these inventions is either pranking or just plain cruelty for the fun of it.

The way I see board games, they are very inviting. No matter what your skills and weaknesses are, they are usually manufactured in a way to allow anyone to win. Even Trivial Pursuit (my arch-nemesis in board game format) is designed to cover a wide variety of topics so as to provide an even chance of winning to everyone. And in my experience, by the end of the game, no one remembers who won anyways. It's one of those "not the destination, but the journey" things.

One store downtown has the right idea. Snakes and Lattes Cafe is self proclaimed as the "first board game cafe in Toronto with 1500+ games and specialty treats". The website has a catalog of all of its boardgames on file at the cafe, with stats like playing time, minimum and maximum players, and lots more info so you can make an informed choice. The cafe itself has all the classics as well as a lot of rare/old board games from exotic countries that you may never have heard of before. For example, I found "The Settlers of Catan,"
 a game of German origin which has not only won Game of the Year in its own country in 1995 and in the U.S. in 1996, but it is also continually rated as one of the "best games ever" by, who describe the game as this:
In Settlers of Catan, players try to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads. On each turn dice are rolled to determine what resources the island produces. Players collect these resources to build up their civilizations to get to 10 victory points and win the game. Multi-award-winning and one of the most popular games in recent history due to its amazing ability to appeal to non-gamers and gamers alike.

And, as a special bonus to you readers, I have compiled a nice reference for you to better choose your next board game to play.

1) The Classic - Monopoly
# of Players: 2-10 (depending on whether you're okay with using a penny or ring as a playing piece)
Time: 180 min
Special Skills: Monopoly is the all of the entrepreneurs (both realized and at heart), you'll ahve to be a shrewd businessperson in order to succeed! Or blow all your money on Oriental Avenue. Teal is a pretty colour. Don't eat the pieces, they're made of metal!

2) The Realistic - Game of Life
# of Players: 2-6
Time: 60 min
Special Skills: Spinning that dial is all in the wrist! But, as life itself, this is a game of complete chance. Try to use your psychic powers. And always go to college. You'll pay off your student loans by your tenth turn!

3) The Stressing - Operation!
# of Players: 1-6
Time: 20 min
Special Skills: No room for tremors here! Bring your dexterity and maybe a little extra for the guy over there with the shaky hands. Practice is recommended with the buzzer turned OFF before the game is attempted. Sidenote: this game will quickly and effectively determine your aptitude to become a brain surgeon

4) The Social - Guess Who
# of Players: 2
Time: 20 min
Special Skills: This game is lots of fun, just make sure your racism is in check. I have seen it get pretty ugly, pretty fast. Playing in public places adds a whole new level of fun in comparing the faces to actual people walking by or sitting near you.

So why not try playing a board game? Let me summarize those pesky facts:
  • obviously, they're fun!
  • your eyes won't burn into the back of your head from staring at a digital screen
  • no batteries, controllers or connection cables needed (usually)
  • better friendships with your friends/family
  • expand your skills in fine motor skills, knowledge of useless trivia, etc
Are you convinced yet?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Passover 2011 = Social Media

I have found the best video on the internet. Here, Oh my word.

For those who know the story of Passover (old traditions) and use a variety of social media (new traditions), this is the funniest video I have seen in a long while. I myself grew up with the story of the Exodus and Passover seders (usually on birthday, causing a quite atrocious Passover cake of the jelly roll variety) and, being a teenager, I find the mash-up of these social networking websites and a new coming of the Exodus to be a very clever way of relating old and new.

Passover is, in my opinion, a very tedious holiday. We read a very long and dryly written history of what happened when the Jewish people were forced out of Egypt, which is actually not done the least bit of justice. The story really is a very exciting one; complete with murder, water turning into blood, the parting of an entire body of water, and even some cool cracker-type things, but it isn't really something I would sit down and read on a rainy afternoon. So for people like me, as well as those who don't know the story of passover, a condensed version that is more relatable (word of the day) to topics and ideas that we are used to, is a refreshing change.

Can I add God on Skype? Does he have a webcam? What is his display picture? Maybe he is a plain Skype logo kind of guy. Who knows. All I can say is, Pharaoh never answers my wall posts. Even when I'm not asking him to let my people go. He must not use Facebook that much.

Based on my Facebook Un-friends post in March, what kind of Facebook friend do you think Pharaoh is? Does he answer your wall posts? Or does he just "like" all your statuses but never actually post any comments, like a creeper? Based on the story of Passover, I bet he is a Trigger-Happy Facebooker. The more Facebook friends he has, the more potential slaves he has, right? Makes sense to me.

But what about our old traditions? Let's not forget about those. No matter how much knowledge you have of this holiday, do you think that this video's use of modern technology to explain the story of Passover is disrespectful to the ancestors who actually trialled through these hardships? All in all, the Jewish people went through quite an expanse of hard luck in those times (to put it lightly) and even though we have a lot of good humour about it, it still is meant to be remembered as a time of strength in the face of adversity. So, is this kind of humour downplaying the actual seriousness of the events that took place?

And in every piece of media that plays down the seriousness of a situation in light of a humourous approach, is it better to learn about a terrible time in history through the use of misplaced and inappropriate humour than not to know of it at all? I think there are lines that shouldn't be crossed in using humour to bring light to serious historical situations, and sometimes those lines are too easily crossed. Maybe it all depends on our upbringing and our own personal experiences. Maybe we become less sensitive to these things as we grow older, or as new generations arrive. Maybe we become more sensitive. I want to add God on Skype. I bet he would always be online. And he could have infinity conversations at once without his computer lagging.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

We're Fans Too

I am super happy about the comeback of records that's happening right now. Modern-day bands are releasing vinyl along with mp3 downloads and those old dusty CD's as well, which means album art ain't dead yet! Again with the touchy-feely, I love the whole idea of records and their big, glorious, clunkyness makes me very content. Putting a record on a turntable and playing it is a whole experience. Playing a song through your computer or iPod dock isn't even comparable to lining up the record hole with that little knob thing in the middle and placing the needle ever-so-carefully on the record. Who really knows where it will end up? You count the patterns in the grooves and try to place it on the song you want, but if you're a little off, you just listen to whatever starts playing because there just isn't a song on that entire album that isn't worth listening to. This is all a very experienced event, something done in a certain order for a specific outcome.

Maybe it has something to do with muscle memory, completing a physical action over and over so much so that even when you haven't completed the action for a long time, the next time you do, you remember exactly what to do.

Either way, records have a much better sound quality than any CD player or iPod dock I have listened to, something indiscernible but undeniably present in the music that just doesn't happen through any digital speaker. One mash-up of this near and dear topic and creative advertising is the new (old) Boom 97.3 radio station ads which have been popping up in bus shelters near you. 

A visual representation of the feeling that these people get when they listen to their favourite record. Their music embodies them, and here is a photo which further emphasizes that message. I love everything about these ads, and here is a list I have compiled of their awesomeness.

  • they promote the awesomeness of classic rock/'old' music (let's have no more of this Ke$ha character, okay?)
  • they promote the also awesomeness of vinyl (aforementioned)
  • album art may have arguably met its peak at the height of popularity of vinyl, and is here appreciated yet again
  • this is such effective symbolism of connecting individuals with their favourite music, and in a graphic and creative way to boot
Because I love them so much, I ventured into the basement depths of Sonic Boom and did a couple of my own versions.

Did you know that cellphone cameras are not of the best quality? I was shocked and appalled!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beauty Born of Use and The "New" Old Object

As per a cutout courtesy of Toronto Life Magazine, I have been itching to visit the Textile Museum for some time. Finally, this weekend, the little scrap of paper on my refrigerator came to fruition.

Textiles are one of those peculiar human inventions which allow us a visual story of our past, present, and future. They are so versatile in that they may be created to fill a need, an installation of art, or simply to adorn ourselves. During my visit, I was lucky enough to be able to view exhibits highlighting each of these topics.

The exhibit which struck me as most interesting was entitled Beauty Born of Use: Natural Rainwear from China and Japan, which was incredible to experience both visually and intellectually. According to the exhibit's reading materials, these special rain capes have been handmade since before the Ming Dynasty in China as well as in Japan. They are made of completely natural fibres even today, woven with bamboo and straw. The exhibit describes these capes as a personal thatched roof, the picture of rainwear in design.

To me, they seemed rich in culture, beauty, craftsmanship and water resistance. These capes felt as though they were actually living, woven directly of the fibres of the culture who use them to this day. These garments actually take quite a long time to make, approximately four to six days (working straight) depending upon the size of the cape. The makers of the capes would travel from village to village, rarely taking time to rest at home throughout the rain season. When they found work, they would stay with the family who employed them until the job was finished. I imagine this would allow the maker of the capes to understand the trials and tribulations of family life all the better, and be perhaps better equipped to offer services more than that of a cape-maker while staying in a family dwelling. The roles of these craftsmen seem that they must have been revered at the peak of their time, and held at a high level of appreciation.

Much as our own culture tends to turn these days, these capes are becoming irrelevant in the face of modern technology. The availability of "yellow raincoats" is becoming a much easier and cheaper alternative to these rain capes, which are now mostly made as a decoration or wall covering. Young people are now uninterested in learning the trade of these magnificent capes, and so the craft may soon die out.

This is such a sad thought, as I have found that newer generations are taking on a habit of replacing old and worn objects instead of repairing them. There is a certain feeling that I have when I put on an old sweater or use a bowl inherited from my grandmother. Those items carry a history and a value, whether sentimental or otherwise, and should be cherished. If that old sweater were to sustain any sort of injury, I would do anything in my power to repair it for further use by myself or someone else who also appreciates its value, but I fear that not many other people of my generation agree with me.

Those who sustain a behaviour of replacing before repairing are an interesting folk. They prefer to buy something new, but they still possess a penchant for the seasoned or vintage product. For example, I was walking around in an Urban Outfitters and I saw at least eight different items that were made of new materials, but that I had seen an almost exact replica of at a church sale a mere couple of days prior. Isn't it interesting that some of these people would rather have a replica of the feeling that I get when I use an old item with a history, than to actually enjoy the real McCoy?

The above pictured raincape was labelled as such that it was purchased on Spadina Avenue in Chinatown. I plan to venture out there myself and see if I can't find a raincape of my very own. If you would like to learn more about these lovely garments or the museum itself, follow this link.

"Repair before you replace"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Music Gathering Pie Chart

Okay kids, this is gonna get a little bit mathematical on you and for that, I apologize. But will it make things better if I note that this is all very music related? As you may know, I don't really like to listen to a lot of the so-called "popular" music these days. I really like what's been going on in the alternative/electro/synth beats/pop/lo-fi/whatever scene for the last while, and people sometimes ask me where I get my music from. Usually, they are asking in a mocking way, such as, "Jeez, I've never heard of this band, where do you get all this random music?!" or "Chloe, your music is so lame, tell me where you get it from so I know never to waste my time with that source!"

So, all you haters and lovers, here is a nice little pie chart for you to read/denounce/eat/love/set as your screensaver.

Complete with 3-D effects and everything! Pretty suave, I know. Let's break it down.

Podcasts are just great. There are so many different kinds of them, and listening to them while I am on the go is an added plus. I listen to a bunch of alternative music podcasts like PMAcast, GROOVELECTRIC and IndieFeed. It's a great way to screen new music in a compilation without going into iTunes and buying every song. Because I know that's how you all get your music, right?
Music Website Recommendations, like those little icons on the bottom of an album page in Amazon Music that make recommendations based on what you're searching for. They seem lame and annoying, but really they are usually dead on. If you like the sound of a certain band, search for it in Amazon Music or the iTunes store and you will be shown a list of bands that sound similar to that band. Ahh, the magic of internet.
The Wedge (and Much Alternative) through Rogers on Demand (or on the internet if you're not lucky enough to have a Rogers Box) are really in sync with new Canadian indie bands. I found Glasser that way and then only three days later, her music was playing over the soundsystem at the Gladstone Hotel restaurant! I felt very in-the-know, I can tell you.
Music blogs are the obvious ones. I guess this blog has turned to somewhat music-related topics (certainly not on purpose)! I love Stereogum and Hype Machine, but the little ones are good as well, like The Culture of Me. International blogs especially, show you cool music from different places in the world. Such as how I discovered the magic of Swedish music!
Good music magazines are sometimes hard to come by, but if you care to venture downtown, you can find magazines for every possible genre. It's actually kind of crazy, how many I found in this one store downtown. SPIN Magazine is the obvious choice for mainstream alternative music of course, and I also love Under the Radar Mag for the more obscure music.
If I try to lord my music over other people, they usually try to lord their music over me. So I usually listen to what they like just to shut them up, and sometimes it actually does turn out to be good. Even my parents used to listen to some good music at one point or another. Surprising, right? I still can't get over it.
T.V. Commercials, on the best of the best days, play some super-amazing music. And I don't just mean the Apple commercials, either. I remember the way I found one of my favourite musicians, Joel Plaskett, was through a Zellers commercial. A good way to find a song that you hear on a television commercial is to either a) remember the lyrics and google them, or b) google what the commercial was advertising. There is a really good website made just for finding music used in advertising here.
Sometimes, the opening acts for bands that I see live are just amazing. When I went to see the Decemberists, I forgot to check who the opening band was, and they turned out to be incredible. Their name is Wye Oak, and I love them. I actually find that listening to the opening band online before seeing them at the show sort of ruins the experience for me, because listening to them for the first time in a live setting has some sort of magic to it or something. These things can't really be explained, I guess.
Did you know that you can find some really awesome music at your local public library? That sounds insane, I know, but it's completely true! Ever since I got my first library card in wee little grade one, I have been combing the racks of broken jewel cases for cool album art. Don't judge me. They always said not to judge a book by its cover. Nothing in there about CDs. More often than not, I find these albums to be amazing, and I even come across a band I've been meaning to look up but haven't gotten around to yet. My first big find at the library was...The Trews. In 2004. So there.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Being the type of person that I am, I sometimes find myself at a crossroads. By that I mean, sometimes there comes along a product (the birth of consumerism) which has become so popular and so then has been revised so many times that it has reached perfection in the task it was originally made to accomplish, that I feel the need to obtain it for myself, even though I know that my owning said product will turn me into a braindead consumer as well as shepherd me into the flock of sheep currently large and still growing.

The most obvious example is the iPod. I love music as much as the next person, and was certainly finding it cumbersome enough to carry around a so-called "non-skip" clunky CD player and case of 24 CD's. So when I gave in to the iPod craze on November 9th, 2007 (Nano 3rd Gen in Black of course), I declared that I would find some way of making my iPod different from all the others in the world. And a lot of people bought that Nano, I can tell you. Who wouldn't want a cute little square iPod? It was very enticing.

I truly loved that iPod. My best friend gave me a rubber skin for Christmas of that year, after it had already slipped ever so many times out of my hand or pocket and scratched itself on the floor (bad iPod!), and I liked it but it was just plain blue and it didn't do a very good job after the small rip it sustained began to grow at an alarming rate.

And then, I found the answer. Where, you ask? What a silly question. Why, Urban Outfitters, of course! I was perusing the housewares and among the owl mugs and moustache flasks I came upon the most life changing item I had ever seen in all my years. It was a skin for the very iPod I owned, paper thin and plasticized. It boasted a brightly coloured background with snippits of paper and fabric in a collage-esque style. The back of the package laid claim to a scratch-free iPod, with style to boot! It was $14.95 CDN and I never looked back. Here is the sweet little skin.

I assume you can see the appeal. The skin did and does continue to protect the iPod from scratches (and possibly E. Coli. poisoning when I dropped it behind a very gross refrigerator once upon a time), well, as far as I can guess, because I haven't taken the skin off the device since I spent 30 minutes getting it exactly straight. When I was gifted with a new iPod Touch, I visited the website to find (to my delight) the countless designs available for a very wide range of devices. I ordered a skin for my new iPod and for my netbook.

The website also promotes artists through their designs made for the skins. The artist who designed this particular skin is named Colin Johnson and I never would have known about his work had it not been for gelaskins. All of the artists showcased on the website have amazing portfolios, so my artistic background was also satisfied.

I have noticed that these skins are of much better quality than those found at, say, a mall kiosk, and that most other skins do not provide a design for the track wheel and center button as these do. I have received countless compliments on my iPod and I find that it allows me to showcase my tastes in an exterior way as well as in the interior contents of the device, which is less accessible to others. Much as the Apple brand would have you believe that their products promote originality and the value of being unique, I find that these skins do a better job than the Apple advertisements in allowing me to express myself.

The website, found here, also allows you to use your own images as a skin for any of their products. I really recommend it if you dislike the bulk of rubber cases.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Over-the-top Pop Culture

Why is it that we will buy into any random item we see that is plastered with the logo of our favourite team/band/celebrity/whatever? Celebrities are paid millions and millions in royalty money just to lend their trademark to the newest toothbrush, christmas ornament, canned lunchmeat, and pretty much everything else. Case in point, the Rolling Stones. They were and continue to be so popular to this day that they still earn royalty money today for the ridiculous things plastered with their iconic lips and tongue.

And so I present to you:

The Rolling Stones Urinal.

Just when you thought you were safe. Walk into the bathroom, lock the door. You’re alone in here, at least. Right? NO. Staring you in the face…and your…other body parts…is the giant mouth that you will soon be peeing into.

Oops, sorry. Didn't see you there. I'll turn around while you do your business.

The one thing I can’t understand is why they didn’t think of the fact that some people probably have fetishes for these kinds of things…right? Or maybe they did think of that. Either way, I think this is pretty gross. Even the most obvious problem: the product is attempting to promote the band by having the population urinate onto its logo. Isn’t that usually a negative action?

I have to ask though, and you will forgive me: why didn't they include the tongue in this captivating design? Somehow, too raunchy perhaps? Or maybe it just didn't make ergonomic sense. Who knows. I certainly can't be held responsible for understanding the inner workings of the minds of the people who come up with these things.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


When I was young, we used to watch movies on these things called VHS's. They were kind of like blu-rays and DVDs, but they were these big clunky black plastic boxes with some black tape inside on two reels. A machine would read the tape while it spun from one reel to the other. Weird, right?

Anyways, my parents had this VHS of some cartoon shorts from this little known place called the National Film Board of Canada, or the NFB for short. The VHS included all these cool cartoons like my personal favourite, "The Cat Came Back". You can watch it here. The comments are actually pretty funny, too.

After doing some online searching of the film board, I came across this video from 1971.

This animated short by Norman McLaren features synchronization of image and sound in the truest sense of the word. To make this film, McLaren employed novel optical techniques to compose the piano rhythms of the sound track, which he then moved, in multicolor, onto the picture area of the screen so that, in effect, you see what you hear.
This short, like the others on the site, features work made completely by Canadians. Some are acted in real life, some are animated, and all are awesome. Norman McLaren was here able to create the perfect marriage of sight and sound, and it is very interesting to watch the evolution of rhythm while we hear it. Personally, coming from a drumming state of mind, I am a rhythm fiend as well as an amateur art buff and find this short to be very informative by way of explaining the intricacies of rhythm to the visual mind.

My parents have instilled in me the importance of supporting Canadian made...everything, and so I can really appreciate that we as Canadians have much talent and success under our belt, especially by way of film. The NFB supports these Canuck filmmakers in various ways, as does the Canadian government who funds some of the NFB's endeavors.

If you want to find out more about Norman McLaren and his part in the NFB, start by watching his most famous film, Neighbours.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Juno Block Party

Upon reading the Toronto Star a few days ago, I happened upon an insert displaying the various events being held around the city in celebration of the 40th Juno Awards this year, hosted once again by our glamourous, if a tad snooty, city.

Most of the concerts and gigs were taking place in seedy bars, often late into the night, some 19+ and all costing some sort of cover charge. Much as I do enjoy some of the showcased bands, I concluded that watching the awards themselves would just have to do for this year.

Just as I was about to recycle the paper along with its bright Juno companion insert, I noticed that there was to be a free concert outdoors on Thursday March 24th at Metro Square. I thought that this would be an interesting way to see some great Canadian music, and noticed that City and Colour would be headlining, along with my favourite rapper, Shad. I have seen City and Colour twice before, at the Rogers Picnic in the summer of 2008 and again last summer at the Molson Amphitheatre, both outdoor venues if you will note. He is a marvellous live musician, never disappointing in comparison to my horrible headphones, and a delight stage presence to experience. Shad, I had seen once before in January of 2009 at Nathan Phillips Square as part of the WinterCity festival, and I didn't want to break my tradition of being his outdoor-Toronto-free-numbingly-cold concert groupie.

And so off I went, bus to subway to our most honourable PATH system, up through Metro Hall, and into a swarm of a crowd, ten minutes after the show was scheduled to begin. There were a lot of booths around the stage, selling various foods and Juno merchandise, which was also peddled by the MC of the night, Andréanne Sasseville.

We wedged our way into the crowd apologetically (as my fellow concert companion stated to be very "Canadian" of us) and waited apprehensively for Shad to make his way to the stage.

The specimen pushes its way into the crowd, but apologizes while doing so. It makes polite chitchat with other patrons, so as to further itself into the crowd even more. The specimen does not care for the well-being or viewing capacity of those around it, but is somewhat appreciated all the same.
Annoyance factor: 20%

All three of us were there to see him, and we were not disappointed by his surplus of charisma and energy. We seemed to be the only ones, though, because everyone was either too cold to appreciate his music or didn't think much of him.

The specimen has made its way to the concert solely to see the headlining act, and although it knows full well that it could have attended the show at a later time in the evening, it asserts its usually large stature into the middle-somewhat-front of the crowd early on in the show and stands aloof with a look of disinterest in its eye. This look does not leave the specimen's eye when the headliner appears onstage, but the specimen does appear slightly less aloof as it sings along to well-known songs when it thinks no one is looking at it.
Annoyance factor: 85%

The person standing beside me would not stop smoking cigarettes through what came to be almost the entire show, and the wind was blowing right at me. Since when did people forget that if you must inhale gross things during a concert, you're supposed to tilt your head back and blow the smoke up into the air, not directly into the face of an unassuming girl trying to enjoy the show?

This specimen is a slightly rare breed, only being found at outdoor shows. The specimen is addicted to nicotine and cannot spend the better part of an hour without its fix. It is very disrespectful to those around it, and reflects all dirty looks and rude comments directed at it like a funhouse mirror. 
Annoyance factor: 35%

As I motioned towards this human chimney to my friends, we started to laugh, as did the girls behind us. We shared some snide comments about the offenders with them, and started to chat about the show and other things. The girls were also on the shorter side, so we did our best to make appropriate space between our shoulders for them to see.

The specimen initiates contact through a positive or accidental way (such as stepping on one's foot), followed by chitchat discussing opinion of the talent/appearance/relevancy of the performing act. If the specimen's opinions are interesting or mirror one's own opinions, concert friendship is achieved. The specimen will now have one's back if "sh*t were to go down", and will protect one from any and all heavy crowd surfers, where applicable.
Friendliness factor: 75%

We moved forward in the rush between Shad and the second act, Hannah Georgas. One of my friends is not as assertive as my other friend and myself, and so she was pushed a little behind the two of us, but still in sight. Luckily, the man sandwiched between us allowed her to go in front of him, for which she was grateful and I was surprised.

This is also a rare specimen, the polite concert goer. The specimen's mother raised it with strong morals, and it knows when it can do something nice for those around it who are in need. It gains as much enjoyment from ensuring the enjoyment of others as it does from the show itself.
Friendliness factor: 60%

Hannah Georgas was allotted much more time than was ever necessary. I had not taken the time to listen to her songs at home before I went to the show, so that may have accounted for my mild dislike of her slow and repetitive songs, but it seemed that the rest of the crowd was much less forgiving than myself. No one clapped and there was dead silence between the songs, and she seemed to go on forever. By the end, people began to boo at her to get off the stage. They may have disliked her music, or they may have been cold, or they may have just had a really big crush on Dallas Green, or maybe it was a mixture of all of those things, but I think the crowd was much meaner than it needed to be.

The specimen takes concerts very seriously and generally has high expectations of life. It has little to no shame and will make catcalls if it feels they are necessary. The specimen has no patience for underground, little-known, or indie performers, and will not hesitate to shatter their self-esteem into tiny little pieces.
Annoyance factor: 50%

We moved close and closer to the stage throughout, so that by the time City and Colour came onstage we were about four heads from the front. Not shabby, considering we arrived 10 minutes after the show began, to a crowd full of people. Simply trying to pass the time that Hannah Georgas was taking up with her...performance, we started to feel the cold more and more. My friend had the stroke of genius thought that we should take advantage of the excess of tall people in the crowd and crouch down so that our heads were at their chest level. A mere 10 inches lower to the ground added about 10 degrees to the atmosphere, and we made jokes until Dallas Green chose to drag his arse onstage.

Finally, at last, it was time for City and Colour. He played an amazing show, and it was time for the entire crowd, friend or foe, to unify and belt out the popular songs along with Dallas. I don't think he minded much. Everyone was having a really good time (on our side of the crowd, anyway), until he abruptly stopped playing in the middle of a song. He motioned for his band to stop as well, and stared out into something on the far side of the crowd that we couldn't see. Then, he said, rather sternly, into his microphone, "STOP F***ING FIGHTING! THIS ISN'T A SLAYER CONCERT!" And we just about died laughing. As per my friend, if City and Colour is staring you down through his hipster spectacles with a look of vague anger in his smouldering eyes, you had better stop what you're doing to piss him off and stop it right quick. He just kept staring, and apparently the people who were fighting did not move (they were probably mesmerized by the amazingness of the event occurring) and he told them that he was not going to finish the song until they left the crowd. At this, the entire body of people started to chant, "LEAVE-THE-CROWD! LEAVE-THE-CROWD!" You just know, when the crowd turns against you, there is no hope. They left, and he played his last song with a little more intensity than I can recall from last summer.

This specimen feels the need to become incredibly inebriated either before or during each and every concert it attends. It cares little for the talent and love of music usually found in the average concert goer, and simply attends these concerts as a change of scenery instead of getting wasted at home. More often than not, the specimen will make a spectacle of itself by either starting a fight, passing out, making rude remarks, or other unwelcome behaviour.
Annoyance factor: 95%

All in all, as any concert is, this show was all about the Canadian music, and it delivered quite well for a free show. I can say that the three of us enjoyed ourselves very much, and watched the Junos from the safety and warmth of my house, where we allowed ourselves to be as annoying and crazy as we could be.

I leave you with one of my favourite songs by Shad. He is one of those gems in the rough who can actually rap (well!) about things that matter like civil wars, sexism, and a clever take on living at home well into your thirties.

"He held a tough job down, held my mother's hand; 
handed down proud roots from my motherland"