Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Thin Mind, Active Listening & DesignTO: Week 2

Weekly Update 2020-05: A new album from an old favourite Wolf Parade, thinking about how best to display listening skills and my final victory lap for DesignTO.

Music: Thin Mind
It's not every day I get to talk about a new album from one of my all-time favourite bands, Canadian indie post-punk revival rock band Wolf Parade. My boys Spencer Krug, Dan Boeckner and Arlen Thompson are at it again with another absolute gem of a record Thin Mind. Now let's be real and say that it can't knock Expo '86 off the top for my favourite album, but it's every bit of what I love about the band. Both Spencer's and Dan's vocals are extremely weird and unique in their own way, and they keep reinventing ways to mix their sounds within songs as they began experimenting with in sophomore album At Mount Zoomer.

Songs like Julia, Take Your Man Home and Forest Green are instant hits to me, and it's pretty cool that I got to hear them live at the Danforth Music Hall before they were released. It's another winner for me! If nothing else in 2020 can be good, let it be the new music that brings us joy.

First class of the semester is complete! This class is a little smaller than the last one, plus we're on the fourth floor this time which, while definitely getting me out of breath on all those crooked wooden stairs, is giving me really good feels with its unique plain white wall where there are bricks on other floors. I'm really digging it. Plus, this class seems pretty cool, always a great mix of professions and backgrounds of people to meet.

I got some quality time with Ashleigh, my friend from Bike Raves, to wander around the Japanese neighbourhood at Dundas and Bay and sample some of the famous asian pastries and savouries. My personal favourite was the Yuzu Sencha Matcha hot green tea, which made me think I probably would enjoy hot bubble tea, if only cold bubble tea ever became less alluring. Probably not gonna happen though.

DesignTO has come to a close for another year - though the exhibit in my work building will stay around until after I leave for Brazil which is nice. Read about my last week of exploring below.

My Brazil trip is really creeping up now and I'm freaking out juuuuuuust a little. I might have more time to freak out if work weren't killing me. So I only have time to focus on the positives:
  1. My parents helped me figure out the logistical issue of transporting a drum home (yay, thank you!) and my dad shows again that he is a master packer of all items and instances
  2. I had a small glimpse of pure sunshine on a bike ride the other day (it felt like this Portlandia sketch) and realized that I am feeling extremely sun deprived right now - can't wait for that sun. I can't wait to be so hot that I want to come back to snow.
  3. I found a cool bug spray with icaridin that's supposed to be the most effective according to the Bloodsuckers exhibit I visited with Sasha back in December! Here's a photo of the exhibit that I found on Google Photos while inside Shoppers Drug Mart, and then located a nifty 100mL bottle of it! 

This week I'm going to check out Spelling Bae in its new venue at Pennies on Strachan, it's been a while since the last one I attended!

Vena is sponsoring ElleHacks at York again this year, I don't have as much time to visit but I am stoked to meet the cool young hackers of Gen Z and all their cool ideas. It's also in my old school building at York this year, which is going to be a trip. I always end up going back there to visit for some reason or another. Maybe next time I'll go see how Scott Library has changed...I've been curious about that!

Sunday is my band's fundraiser show at Lula Lounge - I keep joking that there is only a small overlap between fans of Brazilian percussion and fans of the Superbowl - and that overlap is all my friends and family. Still, I've got two confirmed people: Kaylin and Eric are in for a treat!

Random Thought:
This week is a doozy - I've got four interviews for our new designer position. Among the more important aspects of evaluation, I'm taking it as an opportunity to better myself as well. Honestly, I find so much communication comes through body language, and I want to practice my listening face. I noticed in this video of AOC from MLK Day that her counterpart in the interview produced a few too many sounds of solidarity ("mhmm", "yeah") and it detracted slightly from AOC's message. I vow not to be this person:

Wonderful speech, as always from AOC, on how Billionaires can only take from others.

I think a simple nod every now and then is more than sufficient, focusing on what the other person is saying rather than putting too much effort into portraying listening visual cues. We'll see how it goes, since I'll get the chance to try it out over 6 working hours of interviews this week.

Inspiration: DesignTO Week 2
The second of my two weeks of DesignTO was simply lovely. On Tuesday I went to a talk on Canadian furniture design in the hip EQ3 Liberty Village - which allowed me to bask a little further in the joy of working in a neighbourhood that pays homage to the festival.

The talk was somewhat interesting, dissecting the meaning of Canadian design in a multicultural and cross-pollinated world, but honestly I found people in the crowd to have bigger personalities than the panel. An exuberant gentlemen in a fancy suit and interesting eyeglasses seemed to feel the Q&A questions weren't hard hitting enough and threw one out from left field on the panel speakers, which they scrambled gleefully to answer. One woman in the crowd went on a very long diatribe (regrettably as the final question of the Q&A) about urbanism and the overall crumbling of our society, and the poor moderator didn't have the heart to interrupt her, until the previous fancy suited-man actually did so with a large "excuse me" and that ended the evening. Hilarious.

More soul filling than humourous was my Saturday walk along the curve of Dundas toward Roncesvalles. This crawl is my hip new yearly addition to DesignTO since last year's walk, following a visit to Stamen and Pistil Botanicals to make a Kokedama as a gift from Erika. That year was memorably extremely snowy, though I definitely made it out there and even all the way over to MOCCA into their delightfully SAD-curing white-light room.

This year was certainly easier to navigate with much less snow on the ground, and less of a biting cold. I truly enjoyed the exhibit at the shop Easy Tiger Goods near the start of my crawl. The window was filled with the window display - three items for "purchase" for when the world's supply of oxygen becomes too depleted. A mask to cover one's face (we all know what that's for - though this was pre-coronavirus!), a mouth instrument that blocks air to train the lungs to be able to work harder, and a perfume that smells like oxygen (because it will become such a luxury).

The store also had a simply wonderful array of funky objects, from blobby, brightly coloured candles to weird-shaped pipes and smoking glassware to handmade pottery. I had a nice chat with the owner about her particularly inspsired collection of items as well as the store decoration itself. Check out that radiator!

After that it was a zig zag across Dundas all the way to Roncesvalles, and down to a hip little shop called 313 Design Market to see a window display and exhibition made out of lego bricks. It was at once so fun and so serious in the way the blocks were laid out in different colours. The artist suggests that all the supposed "perfect cities" of our history have failed because they lacked one thing - a sense of playfulness. That is definitely showcased here!

The store itself sells a curated collection all kinds of cool, high-end designer goods for kitchen and home.

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