Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Yung Bae, BTZ & Oh Joy Sex Toy

Weekly Update 2018-15: Portland producer Yung Bae takes us on a future-funk disco journey as we explore Bunz' new cryptocurrency and Erika Moen's revolutionary take on sex education through her webcomic series Oh Joy Sex Toy.

Bunz is now a purveyor of their own cryptocurrency - the BTZ. Cute animations explain the transformation from Polyester Studio. Read more in the Random Thought section below.

Music: Yung Bae
I shouldn't be surprised to learn that Yung Bae is Portland-based after seeing this media photo.
I have no words for this.

Spinning and sampling all sorts of musical styles from disco to R&B to funk and my personal favourite Japanese city pop, Yung Bae creates a dance party that just makes me want to wiggle. I guess it's one part very danceable and happy music, one part nostalgia for songs from 70s, 80s and my personal favourite - 90s and 00s music that reminds me of elementary school dance parties. Plus it's fun to guess what songs he samples and mixes together! Take a listen and you'll see what I mean.

Favourite tracks include It's a Party and Ain't Nobody Like You.

Want more? Yung Bae is playing a set in Toronto at the Baby G on July 28.

I have been hemming and hawing about a lot of stuff lately, feeling like I've been in an excuse-making rut. I keep thinking about doing things and then rationalizing that I'm not ready yet because x-y-z. Looking back on the past year or so, pretty much every time I have decided to say "fuck it" and jump into something before I thought I was ready, it has worked out in my favour. This is the first time I am really realizing that what they say is true - you'll never be 100% ready to do anything, so just do it. I know it sounds so obvious, but it didn't really sink in until I saw it in a meme group last night. Pathetic, I know. Anyway, I learned from it.

As French author André Gide said, On ne découvre pas de terre nouvelle sans consentir à perdre de vue, d'abord et longtemps, tout rivage. Or in English, One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore. I'm beginning to accept the fact that new experiences sometimes scare the shit out of me, but I have been overwhelmingly successful at throwing myself into things without overthinking them and I need to remember that!

Specifically, we had a pretty successful Dungeons & Dragons session last week in which I showed off my high accuracy with a longbow, and I checked out OCAD's Sunshine Eaters exhibition before it closes this Sunday. (You still have time and you should go!)

Shary Boyle's work is so beautiful.

Last but not least, we welcomed a new roommate to the Noodle this weekend - meet our new fluffy boy Ario Speedwagon (or Ario for short).
He is a furry boy and I love him.

This was within ten minutes of Erika meeting him!

The true accomplishment here goes to my roommate Erika, who said she was going to get a dog, and then went out and got one. She did the research and has been putting in the time this week to train Ari and build their bond together! I am just the cool aunt this time around, but I hope to pick up her methods for when I eventually get my own dog.

The weather is (sort of) getting nicer which means it's almost time for Jane's Walks - my favourite series of free walking tours in the city! I'd like to see what's being offered this year and make some picks for the weekend. It's pretty far off (May 5-6) but some walks require reservation, and I just plain can't wait to see what's going down this year.

I'll also be visiting my parents on the weekend to do another workthrough of all the crap we have in our house, for Bunz, donation or our upcoming Garage sale.

Random Thought: Bitcoins and BTZ
Like many others, I have been waving to this trend of cryptocurrency as it passes by. It's not that I think it will ever fully fade away, but I suppose I'm not quite ready to dive into it with my wallet before I truly understand how it works and see a drop in volatility. Meanwhile, instead of me searching it out, a cryptocurrency found me. Yes, my beloved Bunz - the barter system of the future - has taken on its very own cryptocurrency. The BTZ (pronounced bits) is a new currency that can be used to even out the value of item-for-item trades, and can be used in the real world at various goods/services establishments around Toronto. One of such establishments is my favourite bar Northwood, which also happens to be the closest bar to my place. On top of that, Bunz has given every user 1,100 BTZ to start off - which is about $11 worth of real-world goods. I haven't done any trades for BTZ yet, but I am definitely open to the idea. Especially since I already have enough for a free cocktail!

This video explains BTZ.

One definite bonus to the addition of BTZ is that when TTC tokens are phased out in 2019, we won't be left with only tall cans of beer to use as currency. 

Inspiration: Oh Joy Sex Toy
I completed a very worthwhile Bunz trade last week for a couple of graphic novels I have been looking to own for a while. Ever since I visited the sex-positive Portland sex store She Bop last summer and found them on the shelves, I knew these were a very important read.

Erika's husband Matthew Nolan is a recurring character (of course).

Erika Moen's Oh Joy Sex Toy is a revolutionary read that manages to fill in all the gaps (ha-ha) of sexual education that one may have missed along the way in their own journey, while managing to be extremely charming, unapologetic, non-shaming, and just plain interesting to read, no matter what you (think you) know about sex and everything that goes with it. The project began as a webcomic series that Moen still updates weekly, and has now been published in book format (I traded for the first two volumes - I believe there are four total at the publishing of this post).

I suppose I am biased because I already have a soft spot for the comic format, but I think the illustration style and light, celebratory and humourous mood of the project really lend themselves well to soften the stigma around talking about sex that we have developed in the Western world.

I have been hearing about this series for quite a while, many modern sex educators recommend it as required reading (including my favourite Dan Savage of Savage Love). I am about halfway through the second volume and I simply must agree - it's required reading for life.

Check out more about Erika Moen (and buy these books!), or catch her weekly webcomic series - updated every Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Softwar, Consumer/Creator Relationships & Winter Stations

Weekly Update 2018-14: The sun is beginning to shine brightly again as the days grow longer and I no longer feel Vitamin D deficient! This week we move softly so as not to miss any beauty. Listening to Softwar while I try to be an active member in my internet community and enjoy some outdoor art at Winter Stations.

A beautiful spring illo by Mary Kate McDevitt (via Portland Lettering Collective).

Music: Softwar
The days are getting longer and I'm feeling the sunshine on my face again. One of the specific electronic genres I have been gravitating toward lately totally matches that vibe - 90s happy house. Softwar is a a duo from Sydney (Myles du Chateau & Jeremy Lloyd) who have been revisiting this merry chapter of music in the last few years. There are very rarely any lyrics beyond hazy, repeated bars of the same unintelligible note sequence, but honestly that's what makes the music so good - for writing, concentrating, or doing repetitive tasks like cleaning. I imagine it would be very good for dancing when one is very drunk and can't handle any sudden changes in music, either. Nice and slow, sunny and breezy music. What else can one ask for?

Favourite tracks include This Time Around, Darker, Believe and One Day.

This week marks my favourite Jewish holiday - Passover. What a way to spring into April, eating tons of matzah balls and beef brisket and potato kugel. And what's even better than all three of the above items were made by my sister, my mother and myself respectively. Yes, my mother is an amazing cook but does not enjoy it as much as her daughters, so we helped out and all made a different part of dinner. It was the first time I ever made kugel:

They're like potato brownies. 

I attended three different kinds of seders this year, which really filled my soul up quite deeply. It was lovely to get a chance to hang out with family and friends that I don't get to see very often. Here's the third “unofficial” Passover dinner last night with my immediate family:

You can see my mother's brisket in the middle - so tasty.

Depending on how good your design eye is, and how long you've been reading my blog, you may notice a few typographic changes. I've been trying to improve little things here and there about the reading experience, and actually had a big aha moment last week. I am really frustrated with how little Blogger has changed in the past few years and how its author-based user interface (my side of the controls) seems to be stuck in a simpler era (2008 A.D.) In this moment of frustration I wondered aloud if Google even supports Blogger anymore, and decided to Google search just that. Give me some answers! Anyway I found some answers: Blogger maintains a highly active Help Forum.

Within about a day of asking my question (about the italics of my blog looking like the screen had just crushed the letterforms sideways), I got several replies, one of which escalated magically somehow to a Google employee who troubleshot and solved my problem for me. So now, you see proper italics!

I'd like to reflect on the seders I attended this weekend and think about how I want to represent them in my Holidays book, and take in some art at OCADU's Sunshine Eaters exhibit. It's pretty close to my office and open until 7:00 on some evenings...and I want to check out Assembly Chef's Hall again for dinner too. Gotta have a full stomach to absorb the beautiful art. I can't wait to check out more of Shary Boyle's art.

We'll be beginning our Dungeons & Dragons campaign at work this week, I'm pretty excited to test out my character. And if all that weren't enough, I'll be roadtripping to Ottawa on Saturday to pick up my roommate's new puppy!

Random Thought: The Consumer/Creator Relationship
I sometimes write abstractly on my blog about a recent hobby I have taken up that's been a growing part of my life. It all started when I joined a Facebook group called Young Urbanists League, which I definitely suggest if you're into new urbanism and/or Toronto culture. Public Facebook groups can often be intimidating places, seemingly over-controlled by members who have too many inside jokes and underhanded references for a new user to ever feel welcome, much less want to make a post themselves.

I mention Young Urbanists League specifically because it created an atmosphere where I felt comfortable to post something, which led to my move from consumer to creator in many other Facebook groups. I know it may seem trivial, but these groups of various topics from human emotions to amateur culinary skills to trains and their enthusiasts (with people from all over the world) have made me feel at once more connected to people who share some of my weird interests, and inspired me to change my outlook on many things. Most importantly, they're actually full of people who don't mirror my opinions and don't make me feel like Facebook is an echo chamber. I've made an effort to see other people's point of view on tons of different things, and it's made me a better person.

I read a statistic somewhere that 90% of social media users are consumers who rarely, if ever, post any content, leaving the remaining 10% creators who provide for the consumers. I have always felt like a consumer throughout my social media journey (I don't count the blog because I write it for myself - consumption) until I joined these groups. I have started to post more and become an active member, which has helped me to strengthen the bond and connection I felt. I give and get advice, learn, ask questions and post photos of food I've made. I've made jokes about the TTC with people from Boston, explained poutine to a European, and I've even invited some of my real-life friends to join and share in these communities as well.

I suppose Reddit is the true, unfiltered version of Facebook groups, but having this interface as a part of Facebook (which I already use to keep in touch with friends) where people don't hide behind usernames is actually a huge bonus in my eyes.

Inspiration: Winter Stations
Outdoor art exhibits are the best. There's something really special about enjoying art in the open air and sky that takes it to a whole new level. Outdoor art is also usually more accessible than indoor art (because there aren't any walls - duh) and is often free of charge. Such was the case for Toronto's fourth installment of Winter Stations - a lovely display of sculptural installations around existing lifeguard stations on Kew Beach. 2018 brought us seven installations that I visited last weekend with some friends. It was a lovely overcast day - great for pictures.

A view of all seven stations (and C.N. Tower!)

A cute little message someone wrote on the installation. Of course I am not for defacing art, but this seemed to fit with the piece's message.

I like taking candid photos.

Pussy Hut by Martin Miller & Mo Zheng

Action shot: skipping stones.

One of the many statues part of the series called Revolution by OCAD University -
Ben Chang, Anna Pogossyan, Amr Alzahabi, Carlos Chin, Iris Ho, Tracee Jia, Krystal Lum, Adria Maynard, Purvangi Patel, Judiette Vu.

Obstacle by Kien Pham - This one was really fun to walk into and be enveloped by.

Wind Station by Paul van den Berg & Joyce de Grauw

Make Some Noise!!! by Alexandra Grieß & Jorel Heid - turn the crank to sound the siren!

As you can see in the photos, this installation brought a lot of people together which was amazing to see. There was even a community piano beside a little beach bonfire that two kids were playing on. So sue me, I took a picture of them, too. It was cute and I had my DSLR.

Learn more about Winter Stations on their website.