Runaway Future

23.1.2010

Be careful of what you do ’cause the lie becomes the truth

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 14:29

This blog post caught my eye a couple days ago.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller was released in 1982, which is now 28 years ago. It remains a solid album and the main tracks remain rather popular to this day.

Here’s the scary part though, in terms of time, listening to Thriller today is the equivalent of listening to Elvis Presley’s first album at the time that Thriller was released. (Elvis Presley released in 1956)

Now Elvis is widely considered to have been one of the first to bring the musical genre of rock and roll to the forefront, borrowing from black R&B and combining it with big-band. Michael Jackson is obviously Michael Jackson and his impact is just as important in music.

From Elvis to MJ, there was an explosion in musical creativity, with rock and roll, Beatlemania, disco, folk, punk and thousands of other musical acts and styles emerging.

Can the same be said from MJ to today?

I keep coming back to the timeline on that site I linked to above, because despite how much music has advanced from Elvis to MJ, it hasn’t come close to having a similar progression since then.

22.1.2010

come January we’re frozen inside

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 21:02

I always seem to delay writing these year in review pieces. It usually takes the better part of the month of January to drag the words out of me, to find me in a reflective mood. This year was a bit different. I woke up on January first and started scribbling notes on 2009. It just felt proper to let those thoughts simmer a bit before committing them to the ether.

So here’s my 2009 year in review.

To start, here’s my 2008 year in review. Perhaps my biggest failure was not being disciplined enough to keep with the idea of donating more over the course of the full year. I did end up committing a larger contribution then years before, but my original intended plan was to donate to a different charity every month and that got me until maybe April. I’ll ruminate on this a bit more below.

Other then that, writing has been a journey, I’ve been better disciplined or at least I feel like I have been. I started a Tumblr blog and through that I’ve been able to figure out a bit more purpose for this space. Now I feel that things I find interesting, stories, videos, music and so on, go on the Tumblr, while this space is more for the conversation, my thoughts, my views, my feelings on whatever is on my mind. Establishing that balance in my mind has allowed me to be a bit more productive in both spaces.

My resolutions last year were “to be more insensitive, immature, drink more, eat more fast food, less controlled and louder.” I kinda think I accomplished that, for better or for worse. I also resolved to get a submarine. That did not come to pass, unfortunately.

The main things I’ll remember from 2009

“Now you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows.” I ran two half marathons last year, one in February and another in May. It’s kinda funny, because running was such a huge part of the fall of 2008 and the spring of 2009 for me and I don’t have the same dedication to it now. I’m no longer “training” for something and so I only sporadically work at it.

I had a summer that began with people in Calgary comparing me to George Strombopolous and ended with me meeting him on the side of a race track in Ontario.

In that similar vein, I had the time of my life with the motorcycle races. It’s hard to describe the staff without relying on the overused idea of family. It solidified in my mind that THAT is what work should feel like. Hell, we’re four months from the last race and four months from the next one and one of them just checked in on me over Facebook to see how my eye is doing.

Speaking of eyes, that period in November was the oddest ever, where over the course of a month I went from being told I might be going blind, to I might have a degenerative neurological condition, to being properly diagnosed with something that could be fixed. It got fixed last week. I can wear contacts now, which might sound minor, but I’ve had glasses since I was 7 and have always been told I could never get contacts or get LASIK. The dramatic shuttering of doors closing and opening over the month of November was overwhelming.

I also got the beard. Since August, I’ve had facial hair. It’s been ranging from scruff to hobo, but it’s been there. I like it. I blame the beard for all my misadventures.

Things I want from 2010

I need to budget. I realise that that sounds small and annoying, but I need to control my spending a bit more and plan better. I think with some more financial sense, I can live up to the dreams of last year with donating money on a regular basis. I also think I can do a lot more. I’m jealous of Derek and his trips to Peru and Australia and India. He makes so much sense by saying that not going to the Oasis three times a week saves a lot of money. I’m jealous of Mel and her trip to Europe.

My excuse for not following those dreams has always been work, but that needs to become less of a leash on my life and more of a means to an end. I keep feeling like I’m on the cusp of something larger, something more.

In my original scribbles, I had pinpointed the apartment as being something I wanted to change. It might sound a bit crazy, but I swear that for the past two months there was this persistent buzzing or ringing or humming noise in my apartment. I originally thought it was just in my apartment, but then I swore I heard it in the entire building, which led me to think it was something with the heating. It was bad enough that if I woke up and the sound registered in my mind, I could not get back to sleep. Thankfully,the sound has recently disappeared just as abruptly as it began, leaving the apartment sounding that much quieter. It’s almost like I miss it.

Anyway, my apartment isn’t the best. The carpet is stained and gross (a lot of it from before I moved in). The ceiling fan is broken and the cold water tap in the bathroom leaks around the base. I’ve told the super about these things months ago and neither one got fixed. The entire bathroom probably needs to get redone. But, in the end, it’s livable. Rent’s great for the location and the location is amazing. Unless something changes, I think staying here isn’t a bad idea.

I do want to rededicate myself to fitness. I know that’s the cliche resolution, to go to the gym more. For the past two winters, I’ve dropped a significant amount of weight over the months of November, December and January. Last year, I thought it was because of the running,  but I’m not running as much this year and I’m still 10 pounds lighter than I was in September for no good reason. Anyway, I want to be healthier, I want to take better care of myself.

I’m finding I need more sleep. I’m needing to find more sleep.

It’s too loud to think it

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 20:09

On Wednesday, I went to a talk given by Frank Warren about the PostSecret Project.

At this point, I’m just going to assume that everyone knows what PostSecret is, if not, the link is on the right. People put their secrets on postcards and send them to this guy named Frank who then posts them on the Internet.

The presentation left me unfulfilled and I’m not completely sure why. There was a heavy tone of the after-school special messages to “be yourself” and “love yourself and others” that seemed far too sappy for my liking.

I felt at times that the talk did a bit of a disservice to the original senders of the postcards by always looking for a deeper meaning behind the words on the card. The people who sent these in were trying to share a part of themselves, to alleviate a burden they had been carrying, not necessarily inspire others.

A number of the cards contain messages that are powerful enough to stand on their own and be inspiring based on their own merit. That is, in essence, why the project has been so successful. In that aspect, perhaps the whole thing is better presented as an art show, something that has been done elsewhere, where people can derive their own deeper meanings and hidden messages from the cards.

At this point, I have to apologize if this post is a bit hacked together. I’m reconstituting the general idea from a text message conversation I had after the show. In the end, we agreed that there was a moral that can come out of the Postsecret project that is worthwhile: the idea that “you’re not alone because we’re all fucked up.” Which is an ever so eloquent way to say that the teensy little dramas or even the big problems we face are far from unique.

That concept marries nicely with another idea I got as I was walking out of the presentation. These secrets being shared could be of the utmost importance to the people sharing them, hell, there were a few girls who stood up during the presentation and admitted suicide attempts and self harm, powerful stuff. But at the same time, in the big picture, those same ultra important secrets don’t mean anything to you or I, the innocent bystander with barely a tenuous connection to the secret bearer. It doesn’t have any great bearing on my life whether some anonymous person has never admitted to her boyfriend her true age or whatever it might be. As important as that is to her, my interest is only curiousity.

Which I guess leads to the final thought I’ve had drumming in my head since the presentation: the idea of not letting your secrets bury you. It’s an admirable idea, to not be bound by what you hide, to be free and true.

Obviously, there’s the big battle coming to an end right now between Conan O’Brien and NBC over the hosting of the Tonight Show. Conan’s done tonight in fact, his last episode as host. It’s been the inevitable conclusion for a couple weeks now and despite this, he continued to do the show, in essence, a lame duck host playing out the rest of his time. Nothing that he did in the past week would really save his job, nor would it seal his fate anymore then it already is. The network is seemingly letting him do whatever he wants to finish off his run and that will be that. With that freedom, he’s probably releasing his funniest material right now. That freedom has truly set him free as a performer and he’s on, he’s in the moment, bringing his ‘A’ game to the stage.

Perhaps a similar effect could be achieved by taking down barriers that exist in life.

21.1.2010

My city’s still breathing, but barely it’s true

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 18:55

At the beginning of this month, news filtered out that a committee has been established to look at the size of the Halifax city council and decide whether it’s too large or too unwieldy. The common thinking is that, yes, it is too large, especially when you consider that similar cities (and even larger cities) seem to operate more efficiently and effectively with fewer councillors. The current Halifax city council is 24 members strong, with a mayor and 23 councillors and at times, the lack of progress in this city frustrates me. Time is wasted debating the affairs of chickens and cats, while actual issues like policing, tax reform and the sad state of affairs that is downtown Halifax are mired in debate, childish bickering and committees.

But let’s be honest. Nothing is going to change and here’s the three reasons why:

1. Pessimism – This is the feeling that persists with almost anyone I know who follows municipal politics. The idea that nothing gets done ever, which, in fact, is actually a strong argument for a smaller council, as there would be less debate and bickering and perhaps some actual decisions and advancements instead.

2. Politics – This is likely the reason that will be given when in a year’s time, council decides to throw out the anticipated recommendation for a smaller council. The idea that it would negatively impact the citizens of Halifax, by having them represent a larger area, having less of a personal touch. If my councillor has to represent half of the peninsula, it makes it harder for me to harangue her about the state of Barrington Street. This is a view that is supported by Tim Bousquet from The Coast. On the flip side, having a smaller council means that the voice and the vote of a single councillor is that much stronger at the table, so maybe that’s better?

3. The Truth – Here’s the real reason why, in a year’s time, council will throw out the recommendation for a smaller council. No one at that table will vote themselves out of a job. Each councillor makes over 65 thousand a year, while the mayor makes a little over 132 grand a year for their service. I can respect that it’s a difficult job without regular 9-to-5 responsibilities. But it’s a decent enough gig and I frankly can’t imagine that any of the councillors has the fortitude to put the city before themselves.

6.1.2010

Radio brand

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 22:34

Here in Halifax, among the many stops on the FM dial, there are two radio stations: C100 (C100 FM) and 101.3 The Bounce (CJCH-FM).

C100 touts itself as a Top 40 radio station. Playing the hits, or as they put it “Today’s Best Music”. It’s pretty much the regular station you hear in public in Halifax, like at the dentist or in a store. It fits in the niche in between a classic hits station like 96.5 Kool FM, easy listening like Lite 92.9 or 105.9 Seaside and the rock radio stations like Q104 or 89.9 HAL FM.

The Bounce (a relatively new station) angles a bit more toward the dance/club vibe, calling itself Halifax’s Hit Music Station. It’s focus is a bit of a younger crowd, placing it in competition with Z103.

Now both stations advertise themselves on TV and in some cases, these advertisements air one after another. This makes sense as the stations are both run by the same company, the CHUM Radio Network.

As radio advertisements often go, both feature clips of music that they would regularly play. In this case, they sample maybe five songs, combine that with talk about their station and clips of the city and the music videos associated with the songs they chose to represent their station.

Here’s where it gets interesting though: both TV commercials are almost exactly alike when it comes to what songs they chose to play. Both commercials begin with Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta Feeling and ends with Katy Perry – Waking Up In Vegas. I think one of the middle songs is also Lady Gaga – Paparazzi in both cases as well.

Now I’m not arguing that these songs don’t fit the general identity of both stations. All three songs can definitely be considered Top 40 hits with a bit of a dance or club vibe to them. I guess what gets me is that for a company trying to establish unique brands and identities for their radio properties, the decision to use identical songs (the precise bread and butter, the actual product that music radio puts out) is a bit mind-boggling. How can you establish exclusive distinctive brands by using the exact same material?

Frankly, it seems like a lazy decision and I’m surprised that whoever handles the marketing for CHUM let it pass.

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