Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Animated type is the new black

Some of you may remember the videos I posted back in May—one was all animated type about the Internet as tool for idea-sharing that will ultimately enable things that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, the other was the awesome “I Met The Walrus” animated short—both of which are really cool and use engaging animation. One animates type with no voiceover, the other illustrates visually the words being heard (in this case, and interview with John Lennon).

More recently, I posted a video called the Girl Effect. All animated type. No voiceover. Emotionally moving.

Earlier this month, Starbucks released an animated type spot that was a bit similar to the Girl Effect spot. It’s emotional and inspiring and promotes a good cause (voting).

Watch it here if you haven’t seen it already:

Now Ford has a new campaign for the F-150 that uses animated type in a style similar to what we’ve seen over the past six months or so. The animation adds a layer of content to the spots, does a see-say thing with the voiceover and animates in an engaging and playful way.

See one of the spots here:

What are we to think of this F-150 campaign? For that small group of us who are aware of the things that influenced it, it may seem like Ford is repurposing (for evil—sorry, I’m just saying it) some pretty cool stuff. Borrowing interest, as it were.

This is how fashion trends die and evolve. Some hot guy or girl wears something interesting. A few early adopters see it, buy in and follow along. Eventually some not-so-hot or not-so-hip folks become aware and join in. And just like that, the party’s over. No one “cool” would be caught dead wearing it.

It’s hard work, folks. And it makes me tired.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Oranges Band with A.C. Newman at the Bell House in Brooklyn, November 15, 2008

I’d never been to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus before last Saturday. I was early for the show and needed dinner and wandered through the industrial streets past the dark warehouses until I found a surprisingly nice little bar/restaurant that served up some great meatballs.

The Bell House opened in Gowanus in September and it’s a nice venue. It reminds me of the Showbox in Seattle, but is about half the size. I arrived and got a beer and waited for the opening act to finish up, which they did soon enough.

The Oranges Band took the stage as a three-piece to play “Ride The Nuclear Wave” “Open Air,” “Wild Ride” and “My Mechanical Mind” prior to hired gun Doug Gillard joining them to focus on new numbers. Speaking of new numbers, there are some gems here. I recognized many of them from their show in July and was anxious to listen to the new album.

Oh yeah, the new album! A bonus of going to the show was being able to buy an advance copy of the new record, Are Invisible. I’ve given it a few listens over the past week and I’m liking it a lot. Roman Keubler has said he wanted to write about the Baltimore scene on this album (“Gordon’s Nightclub” is a paean to a bar called the Rev, for example). My current favorite is “ArtStar,” which, thematically, reminds me a bit of the Long Winters’ “New Girl.” I love the art school insight: “They want to be known by everyone and / shown by everyone and / blown by everyone.”

But back to the show…

Roman Keubler is probably the least “rock star” of any front man I’ve seen. He has no stage persona separate from the playful and humble guy he seems to be all the time. (He invited his father on stage to shill product for the band, citing his dad’s opinion that they don’t promote themselves enough—a moment that made the show feel more like a gathering of friends than a gig.) I’ve never seen a musician smile as much as he does when he plays. It’s clear that he loves to “rock out” (as he says), but also doesn’t take it too seriously.

Near the end of the set, as they prepared to play “My Street,” Keubler said “It’s either that or ‘I’ll Never Be Alone,’” honestly opening the discussion to anyone who wanted to weigh in. (Is both not an option?)

About 30 minutes later, A.C. Newman, the night’s headliner, took the stage before an excited crowd. I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m not much of a New Pornographers fan. Given a choice, I think I’d have preferred Dan Behar instead (I find his stuff a little more oddly interesting). As such, I won’t even attempt to review the set (sorry, Ben). I’m just not the guy to do it. (Not to mention the fact that I only stayed for four songs before leaving.)

And now for the “thank God it’s Friday’s song of the day” portion of this post.

From the Oranges Band’s new album, Are Invisible, here is the aforementioned “ArtStar”:

Happy weekend.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A double shot of kindness

Did you see the heartwarming story about the drive-thru customers at Starbucks in Loveland, Colorado, “paying it forward” by purchasing, in advance, the order of the person in the car behind them? CNN.com has the touching story here.

It’s so great, especially in these troubled economic times, to see people extending goodwill in this way, isn’t it?

The driver pulls up to the window and is told that the customer before him paid for his order. “Zounds! Really?! Well then, I… uh, I’ll pay for the next person! Yeah, that’s it. I’ll pay it forward!”

Allow me to rain on this little parade. No one’s actually getting anything here.

No one, that is, except for the asshole who decides he’s totally stoked about the schmuck ahead of him who paid for his drink and everyone else can go to hell. Guy #1 pays for his own order and this idiot’s. Everyone in between just paid for themselves (in the form of paying for someone else’s, sure, but the transaction’s no different).

This same thing happened in Seattle last year and also got some local news coverage. I thought the whole thing had been set up as a PR stunt because Starbucks’ “Pass The Cheer” ad campaign—focusing on the spirit of sharing—was in market at the time.

And yet...

As I write this I must say I can’t decide if this whole “pay it forward at the drive-thru” is the dumbest thing—because no one really gains anything from it even though they feel like they do—or the greatest thing—because everyone feels better, everyone’s mood is brightened, at no expense.



Friday, November 14, 2008

Thank God it’s Friday’s song of the day

I'm not gonna lie. I'm posting this song without even having listened to the whole thing. I hope it doesn't devolve into a growling death metal orgy at the end.

You better listen to it all the way through to see if it does.

Oh, and for those scoring at home, the band is Los Campesinos! and the song is "You'll Need Those Fingers For Crossing."

Happy weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What the?

A picture you probably haven't seen before, right here.

(It's safe for work. I'm not that guy.*)

* Or am I?

Courtesy of Ffffound.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Design changes

You're not crazy.* I changed the font and a few small design things about the blog. I think it's an improvement. I hope you do too.

* I have no way of knowing if you're crazy or not.


In 1988, Miami hip hop act L’Trimm released “Cars That Go Boom.” Listening to it now, I’m amazed by how elementary their flow* is.

Tigra and Bunny’s delivery is extremely slow, their rhymes are rudimentary and their elocution is terribly forced. They enunciate like they’re training non-English-speakers how to rap. Check it out starting at the 36-second mark.

Today, a couple of 12-year-olds from white suburbs could put out a better song in a week.

Hip hop has come a long way in 20 years.

* That’s right, I said “flow.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Phoning it in (via the interweb)

Hey, if Ben Steele can do it, why can't I?

I love McSweeney's Lists and found this one especially appropriate given the current economic (and pharmaceutical) climate.

























Monday, November 10, 2008

Keeping it street

Google Maps? Awesome.

Google Street View? Awesomer.

Using Street View to create art? Crikey!

On May 3rd 2008, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley invited the Google Inc. Street View team and residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside to collaborate on a series of tableaux along Sampsonia Way. Neighbors, and other participants from around the city, staged scenes ranging from a parade and a marathon, to a garage band practice, a seventeenth century sword fight, a heroic rescue and much more...

The result of this endeavor, dubbed Street With A View, has only recently hit the web.

Check it out here, including all the scenes as well as videos of the shoot.

Via swissmiss.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thank God it’s Friday’s song of the day

Today’s song of the day comes from New York’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (a.k.a. TPOBPAH). I just recently stumbled onto these guys and really like their sound. It owes a lot to the distortion-dream quality of My Bloody Valentine and other shoegaze acts, but has a catchy pop sensibility those bands tended to lack. I also get hints of late ‘80s Jesus and Mary Chain in their song structures.

Their song “Everything With You” is certainly in the camp of Cut Copy’s “Unforgettable Season” and The Radio Dept.’s “ I Don’t Need Love I’ve Got My Band.”

TPOBPAH are touring in the U.K. in December. Here’s hoping they’ll have some U.S. dates when they get back.

Check out the Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s “Everything With You” right here:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More change

Drawing by Patrick Moberg. Hi-res version here.


From today's New York Times:

This is one of those moments in history when it is worth pausing to reflect on the basic facts:

An American with the name Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a white woman and a black man he barely knew, raised by his grandparents far outside the stream of American power and wealth, has been elected the 44th president of the United States.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I’m not voting*

The other day I was at Petco buying food for my cat. I go to Petco because I know they stock the food my cat eats. But the truth is… I hate Petco.

In Seattle, the Petco I went to never seemed to have enough cashiers for the number of customers attempting to check out. I mean, this happened every time.

I didn’t like going to Petco, but they had what I needed and it was convenient to my house.

In New York, Petco is worse.

The cashier shortage is a problem here as well, but it’s exacerbated by the fact that the cashiers all seem half-asleep. The Upper East Side Petco’s cashiers are the most sluggish, unmotivated, slothful bunch I’ve ever seen. These traits are so consistent among them you’d think “raised from the dead” was an application requirement.

I might be in the queue with ten other people waiting to pay so we can get on with our days and the cashiers will be taking their sweet time and jawing with each other, showing no sense of urgency about the situation.

I have a Petco frequent shopper card. Or maybe it’s some kind of discount card. It says Petco P.A.L.S. on it, but I have no idea what benefits membership provides. I never get mail from Petco alerting me to the number of P.A.L.S. P.O.I.N.T.S. I might have amassed, if such things even exist. So I have this card, with a membership number that I punch in at every purchase, and yet I have no idea why.

The final straw? It sounds silly, but I hate buying one item and getting a 13-inch receipt for it. What is this thing?! I bought one item! Save a tree!

As I left the store this last time I remembered that dollars are, in a sense, votes. I may hate Petco, but I’ve been voting for Petco for years, repeatedly, simply by continuing to buy things for my cat there.

But no longer.

When I left that day I vowed to find a new provider for my pet needs and to stop voting for Petco.

That’s change I can believe in.

* For Petco.**
** See what I did there?