Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Cake, Trend Spotting & Kensington Winter Solstice

Weekly Update 2018-52: The last update of the year! Music provided by Cake, required skills to be a trend spotter and Kensington Market's 29th Annual Winter Solstice Parade.

Music: Cake
A band I have loved forever, but never seemed to move past their 2001 album Comfort Eagle, Cake is a band with which I am going to start my 2019. Literally every song on Comfort Eagle is extremely catchy and I never tire of hearing it, so why not try out the rest? Lead singer John McCrea's sarcastic lyrics and monotone vocals are the signature Cake sound against their wide-ranging musical influences including country music, Mariachi, rock, funk, Iranian folk music and hip hop.

I've seen them play at TURF in 2015 and with a new album on the way for 2019 (the first in eight years), I'm gonna be ready when they tour Toronto.

I recommend you start with Comfort Eagle, and then go wherever you want - I'm gonna listen on full artist shuffle.

As a sort of ritual, I created a personal Google Map for all the awesome DesignTO Festival events going on. The fest runs from January 18-27 and the schedule has been released. I am planning to visit four neighbourhoods across four days (and I still won't be able to see it all). You can check out my map here.

After Bunz trading for a few Larabars of different flavours, I have become obsessed and decided to make my own. They're a fruit and nut bar whose main ingredient is dates - it makes for a wonderful firm-yet-mooshy texture with crushed nuts and dried fruit mixed throughout. I've never used a food processor so much in my whole life.

They definitely have that "homemade" look but they taste awesome.

I took my free afternoon on Monday and went skating at Sid Smith Arena again. It was much busier than last time (I forgot the kids are off school!) but it was nice to get some alternative exercise.

Amidst the holiday chaos, I received my contract from BrainStation and will be teaching my very own class come January 17! I guess it's time to edit my LinkedIn profile again...

I've been brewing some thoughts around using my Smart Plug - setting the heater to turn on based on outside temperature and proximity to my phone.

IF outside temperature < 0 degrees
AND Chloe's phone < 10m away
THEN turn Smart Plug on

Now I just have to redownload IFTTT and write a recipe to do it.

I also want to make a little plant ladder for my Hoya based on this idea I saw online. I think it'll give it some vertical appeal.

I want to make time this week to see Interstellar in IMAX at the Cinesphere. I've seen it before but I'd relish the opportunity to see it in IMAX for a second time - it's the perfect movie for it. Plus the venue is so iconic and I don't think I've ever been there (before or after its reopening). If I really wanted to be an overachiever I would bring my skates to the rink there as well, but that might be too much excitement for one day.

Random Thought: Trend Spotting
When I used to have the time and inclination, I often felt that I was good at spotting trends before they became mainstream. I found my talent specifically in the two creative fields I consider hobbies: music and fashion. Unlike other predictive measures or the difficult task of actually setting trends, spotting them early is really not very difficult. All you need to be is passionate and detail-oriented.

For the fashion example, I like making mental notes on interesting fashion trends as I walk down the street or browse an online store. The detail-orientation is the secret sauce: being good at googling things, recreating looks, noting when trends are starting to move toward a specific style or colour palette. I sometimes wish I worked in a company where I could make more edgy fashion choices in my daily wardrobe, but I do still dress somewhat expressively within reason to match this.

When it comes to music, it's easier to be ahead of the curve when you’re naturally detail oriented. I always have Shazam open and love to discuss new music with friends (and strangers). I remember once hearing a song at a corporate holiday party and walking across the room to ask the DJ what it was. That was the first time I heard Little Dragon, maybe 2012 or 2013.

Of course, there are lots of misfires in my guesses. I imagine it's similar for tastemakers - fire off a bunch of ideas and see what sticks. It feels a bit like a numbers game; the more details I make note of, the bigger a sample size I have from which to carry a trend into popularity. Well, now you know my secrets, so go spot your own trends!

Inspiration: Kensington Winter Solstice
An event I have been meaning to finally attend, Friday December 21 marked the 29th annual Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade. In true Kensington fashion, freak flags were flown amidst the crowded streets of costumed people and papier-mâché lanterns of ever-increasing craftsmanship and detail. I was extremely lucky to have Zack Fridlyand as my personal photographer for the evening so that I could take it all in and report back here.

Run by Red Pepper Spectacle Arts, it was a true party in the streets that culminated in a huge performance of round dancers, fire breathers and a huge burning effigy of an open hand.

On top of the beauty and community atmosphere, I especially appreciated a non-denominational way to celebrate the season. Christmas is really rammed down everyone's throats these days (which I don't have any big problem with) but it doesn't leave much space for varied celebrations. Many cultures and people came together to celebrate in a highly inclusive way.

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