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.