Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Cuthead, Time Dilation & Band in China

Weekly Update 2019-42: Genre-mashing hip-hop influenced beats from Cuthead, a look into time dilation (aka the real length of a microwave minute) and the South Park episode that was banned in China.

What's the real length of a microwave minute?

Music: Cuthead
Out of Germany comes Cuthead, a producer with old-school Hip Hop roots that show through under his genre-hopping, more electronic focused new work. Real name: Robert Arnold. Genre: Why pick one? Wonky, Dub, Dubstep, Techno, House and IDM/ Electronica are all at home in his music. All of that, mixed with interesting samples of vocals from musical eras past and present makes for an interesting soundtrack that works for a surprising amount of situations. I think it works pretty well as study music, too.

Oktoberfest is Wunderbar! Yes, my third season of Oktoberfest with Kaylin and Will has come and gone. We got to see the Thanksgiving Parade and attend two days of festivities.


And of course, no visit is complete without a trip to the Value Village to see if they have any vintage Oktoberfest pins. Kaylin found an absolute stunner of a two-piece:

Horse AND carriage?!

I made a lot of home improvements this week, notably finally cleaning my bathroom, repainting the wall where my collage mural used to be (it's really hard to get sticky tac oil off the wall) and repotted one of my monstera clippings. I'm a little worried I waited too long out of summer and into fall to pot this boy, but if it can make it through this winter it'll be a hardy Canadian plant!

Since my wall collage is down off the wall, I was finally able to hang this poster that I (finally) framed on the wall.

All that clean, blank wall around it :)

I bought this poster in 2016, and only framed it a couple months ago. This was a slow burn.

What an excellent weekend I have ahead of me, straight up marking BrainStation student project briefs from morning til eve. I have this cool idea that I'll get to work outside on the patio at my work (where it's quiet and nice) on Sunday afternoon and then play some drums as a reward. I haven't had any kit time in quite a while...the itches are happening for sure.

I am also testing out my Halloween costume at my friend Yuni's birthday/halloween party this weekend. I'm lucky enough to have three weekends of Halloween parties this year (the appropriate amount) so I'll get lots of mileage. Which means I can afford not to wear my costume while I have to teach UI Design on Halloween night.

Random Thought: Time Dilation
I learned something new about myself recently. One of the strangest side effects of fear is time dilation: the apparent slowing-down of time. It's a common trope in movies and TV, like the memorable scene from The Matrix in which time slows down so dramatically that bullets fired at Keanu Reeves' character seem to move at a walking pace.

That's all good, but did you know that people who live with anxiety can experience time dilation at a higher rate? Someone mentioned this to me in passing and it really rang true with me. When I feel anxious, I definitely notice time either slowing or speeding up, depending on the trigger. I am often able to feel the sense of time passing even when it dilates, and I can often guess the time within 3-5 minutes of accuracy. But when I am really off in my guess, that's sometimes a tell of a strong trigger for anxiety.

I do find time dilation really interesting in general. We all know that a microwave minute does not equal a minute of watching TV. A jogging minute definitely isn't equal to a minute of eating, and a minute in traffic is nothing like a minute spent on a roller coaster. That's specifically why I love the term "microwave minute" - once used in late 1940s-early 1950s advertisements for microwaveable food products. "Ready in only three microwave minutes!"

This was once a marvel of efficiency; to have a (somewhat) square meal, piping hot and ready in only three minutes. These days, I don't have three minutes to spend staring at a spinning block of ice in a box - I want my processed food now! Ah, the microwave minute. A perfect example of time dilation...over time.

Inspiration: South Park's Band in China episode
While I can admit that I had quite a heavy South Park phase in high school (as many do), I have since grown out of it and don't really make time for the show these days. When it appeared in one of my news feeds that the show's controversial topics were to include censorship in China in its newest season, my curiosity was piqued.

After watching the episode in question (season 23 episode 2) entitled Band in China, I must say the show is still taking some pretty interesting risks in the name of free speech and political justice. Specifically this episode tackles the absurdity of the Chinese government's censorship practices, and the growing power and influence they have over American popular culture (especially Disney) due to the massive buying power of their billion plus citizens.

One billion Chinese citizens only have access to whatever their government deems "suitable" for them, and American media companies are bending over backwards to the whims of Xi Jinping, China's brand new shiny dictator. Xi seeks to abolish term limits for presidency, effectively staying in his reign of power forever.

The South Park episode pokes at the fact that Xi has banned figures like Peppa Pig (a children's tv character) for associating with ideas of "mobsters" and even Winnie the Pooh himself because some people on the internet claimed Xi looks like him. Yep, some real dictator stuff.

In the end, the episode of the show was banned in China (no shocker there). Show creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker stand by their work, airing a fake apology to China in their next episode (lucky #300) after the story blew up on the internet. I was happy to see that the episode was still screened (illegally) on a busy Hong Kong street in Sham Shui Po district for all to see.

Highly topical, as China has since banned music producer Zedd for simply liking a tweet about South Park's 300th episode. And he's not the only one, the entire NBA is up in arms about Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeting in support of protests in Hong Kong. A week later, LeBron James criticized the pro-Hong Kong protest tweet sent by Morey. The NBA called Morey’s tweets “regrettable” and Morey later apologized for offending China.

Gone are the days when we as individual citizens can choose to be "not interested in politics". Not caring about politics is a luxury that only those with privilege can achieve, and it seems the price is a lot higher these days than it used to be. If you won't inform yourself, it'll come for you eventually.

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