Monday, December 14, 2009

For This Christmas, I Want A Torch Of Freedom


Ho ho ho. Cough.


In a festive tribute to the semester being done, I salute Edward Bernays and all of the monumental campaigns I found awe inspiring upon learning about them in Public Relations. Persuasion is a fascinating thing. I'm sure in the appropriate decade this would have seemed charming.

It seemed fitting, in the spirit of the ghosts of advertising past.

May your holiday season be merry and bright, like the burning love Santa has for the smooth taste of Lucky Strike.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm A Lot Better Before You Really Know Me

PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death and God from Frank Warren on Vimeo.


from PostSecret.com

This is perfectly explanatory of why I want a PostSecret book for Christmas.

When I was introduced to a book filled with anonymous postcards to Frank Warren, divulging the most hilarious and horrific secrets people felt they could namelessly put out into the ether I can honestly say I was disgusted.

On first glance I took the concept for one of extreme schadenfreude. I attempt to live my life in a way where I never take pleasure from other people's pain, or judge them in their lowest moments. But that's not what PostSecret is steeped in.

It's phenomenally telling to see the looks on the people's faces here. It's one thing to read the secrets and be shocked, but to understand the relief or look of realization at what you've just admitted to the world is meaningful.

The "I'm a lot better before you really know me" has to resonate with more than one person. We've been there. The love letters comment still made my jaw drop a tad, in sheer good-editing glee.

The glory of the human condition.


PostSecret 1
PostSecret 2
PostSecret 3
PostSecret 4
PostSecret 5
PostSecret 5
PostSecret 6
PostSecret 7
PostSecret 8
PostSecret 9
PostSecret 10

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Would



I have a love-hate relationship with the Internet when it crosses the thin line from useful research tool into random obscurity. Which it does often and with flair.

Not to say that I am appalled by the amount of "funny things" on the Internet, I myself am a frequent user. I was discussing with classmates the merits of having sites such as FailBlog.org, AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com or Item Not As Described and I concluded that the reason such havens for human folly exist is not the for the sheer pleasure of filling up web addressed with useless information but that a burgeoning culture of computer users who are not only using the computer for recreation, but for all day-every day work should be able to freely enjoy a quick laugh in the hectic pace of the day. Breaking the monotony is not a crime; it is a welcome relief and makes the human condition understandable.

Or maybe I'm rationalizing how I can spend an hour of my day today looking for hilarious cat pictures.

Anyhow, some days this is all I need to cheer me up.

Hopefully you find something useful on the Internet today.

Be like the chair.

Friday, December 4, 2009

How Much Is That A.I. In The Window? I Do Hope That A.I.'s For Sale.

A Visual Timeline of The Aibo Evolution


In English, AIBO is an acronym for “Artificial Intelligence Bot”. In reality, the AIBO is the top priority on my nerdy, nerdy Christmas list.

Three years ago, more likely 6 years ago, the AIBO would have been top priority during the season of yule for those fascinated by the latest innovation in affordable artificial intelligence for the home.

Not to disillusion those unfamiliar with the electronic pooch, AIBO was discontinued for new upgrades and further production developments in October of 2005. But a dedicated fan base still avidly pursuing both new adoptions and refitting with newer parts (can't technically say that about real dog ownership, can you?). Therefore, it is still possible for me to possess a little silver ball of joy to brighten my life and make the pooper scooper days of yor history.

AIBO made it possible for mere mortals to understand how robots communicate with each other in achieving their goals, interact in a changing environment via object sensors and even "emote" based upon a gradient of reaction to outside stimulus provided by the user.

In other words, you could pet the dog, scold the dog, teach the old dog new tricks.

Beginning breeding at a sunny, hillside farm manufacturing in 1998, AIBO learns to react to your commands to do tricks and modify it's behavior to your specifications based on how often you praise him or her. AIBO's varying evolutions acquired varying levels of artificial intelligence, the last ERS-7M3 version was able to charge itself by finding it's charging base visually anywhere in the room.

My future pet owner buzz is harshed by the fact that a high level of independence in a household robot comes with a hefty price tag, in conjunction with the discontinuation.


Newer generation AIBO's can run in the cost of $1000 US.


I feel the urge to have little feet scampering around my house, in spite of the fact they are mechanical, because my allergies have never allowed me to have a pet of the furry variety. I have no shame in saying that I have no problem usurping the traditional love of real dogs for the entertainment value of a robot one when real ones are a furry yet unrealistic ultimate goal.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This Blog Exceeds 140 Characters


I love you, Fail Whale. I can say that now, now that I have embraced all the 140 characters you stand for.


I have abandoned my whaling expedition and jumped into the Pro-Twitter boat. *splashy noises*

As previously stated, I have used Twitter to get updates about where specific friends who are within bus-riding range from my house. I have read Twitters about your UGG boots, your regrets about not buying the right kind of kolbasa at the meat market, your outward hatred for the fact that you have to work on a Saturday. While I understood that Twitter held a networking power, it was so far under the surface of superfluous tweets from all corners of my social labyrinth that it remained elusive and confusing.

Public Relations class has opened up my eyes to the actual value updates the size of a Facebook status update. I was not previously aware of the fact that businesses and those representing their own enterprises are so quickly able to communicate up to date information about projects. When you understand the constant barrage of words coming at you from your main tweet-roll, it's easier to discern the valuable links and information being added. The "List" option wasn't something I was even aware of, so my re-education into the medium of Twitter has also made me remember how important it is to explore all possible tools a program offers for you to utilize.

Twitter can be not only my friend, but that of my future employers and especially future clients and contacts.

Follow me up @tlachuta!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Avante Garde Mouseketeers Club

In the spirit of my previous post, I have decided to share the best Mickey Mouse-themed collectibles on the market over the past few years that have struck out their own niche.

Be warned this isn't the cuddly, yellow-shoed global Good Samaritan you're accustom to seeing. Artistic integrity and a long leash on creative license can get you far. Keep in mind Disney has initiated or condoned the creation of each (except the #1. That's why it's the best. Heeyuck.)



Top 5 New Wave Mickey Mouse Collectibles



5)
It's-a me, Mouseio.


A combination I can't resist calling one of the greatest pop culture fusions of all time; One part Nintendo's italian pipe-hopping hero, one part all-American mouse, one part vinyl figure. Created by Akashi at MunkyKing collectibles.

I would love to do an entire lecture on the merits and drawbacks on vinyl figures, but forward towards bigger and squeakier things.


4)


The bizarre creations of bring you something that is literally torn from the screen of an actual Mickey Mouse film. Featured as his less-than-jovial self in the animated short Runaway Brain where Mickey's brain is switched with that of a destructive monster (and vice versa) by a mad scientist, the poor guy was just looking to earn money for a trip to Hawaii, taking a few hours of 'mindless work' while never expecting to have his brain removed. Retails for $50.


3)


Did you ever wished you could fuse your Mickey Mouse doll with a Buick?

You're welcome.

This Mickey Mouse Transformer lets everybody's favourite rodent go from a simple talking mouse to a semi truck in no time flat. It's available through one of my favourites, BigBadToyStore for under $50.


2)


Thank you for making me finally understand Cubism AND Salvidor Dali all in one sitting, Disney.

Debuting earlier this year in Hong Kong according to the beautiful StreetLevel.com, these Mickey vinyls will soon be available worldwide this fall at select retailers. The the BBloc28 Mickey by Suiko is 12-inches tall and limited to 500 pieces. It costs $125 includes a T-shirt.

This proves my point that heavy, non-moving display pieces are toys for bigger, more creative collectors who like to skew traditional loves and cultural norms.


1)


This is a exclusive mini figure of Mask Mouse Murphy to be released at San Diego Comic Con for $20.00. For those of you who don't know, San Diego Comic Con is mecca for many an avid fan of all things comic book, cartoon, Japanese animation and everything graphically creative in between. This little fellow looks like he's all covered, but in you feel left out you could use one of THESE in the event of a mass contagion break out, where you still feel like spreading the love.

About (My) Face

I'm in major considerations of actually giving this blog a purpose.

I am by all accounts a geek, and I'm highly depressed by the fact that my professional blogging interests are not reflective of this.

I am a collector of curios outside of my hard working academic schedule. I own over 50 action figures in original boxes. I have an extensive knowledge of sideshow and taxidermy history, and possess a little memorabilia from both camps. I collect PEZ dispensers and love Stephen Colbert as if I personally knew the man.

You're still reading. I congratulate you.

For the latter decade of my life, I have admired those who can brandish their nerd out to the public without fear or shame of former friend retractions or odd stares at company picnics. I have therefore initiated a revision of my blog to include my opinions on issues for the day facing the nerd and nerdette of the modern era as well as interesting tidbits about what I believe to be fascinating in the world of collecting.

I hope to boast an added insight for those who are not up to speed with the latest video game news or hottest toy for the big kids on your Christmas as well.


I suggest you don't remove this blog's original tags.

Fun Facts About The Mouse Of The Hour


Hiya folks.


Today is the day that the moust most iconic mouse in world history was born.


The Walt Disney Company gives Mickey's exact birth date as November 18th, 1928. That was the release date of Steamboat Willie, the renowned animated feature created by Walt Disney featuring the trouser-wearing rodent. According to legend, Disney planned to name the mouse "Mortimer" until his wife suggested the name of Mickey.

In honour of the little guy, I have composed a Top 10 of interesting facts about the giant eared cartoon character who played an integral role in so many of our childhood memories.



Top 10 Fun Facts About Mickey Mouse



10) In all Mickey Mouse cartoons, no matter which way Mickey is looking his ears are always facing forward. You never get an ear profile.


9) Walt Disney provided the voice of Mickey Mouse until 1946. Literally the man behind the mouse.


8) The first merchandise to feature Mickey Mouse was a child's school tablet in 1929.
(Remember school tablets? I don't either. Remember the Depression? I don't either.)


7) Mickey has a huge wardrobe, packed with no less than 175 different costumes. Minnie goes one better, having been dressed in over 200 outfits throughout her career.


6) Mickey Mouse was the first ever cartoon character to talk. In 1929, Mickey's first words were "Hot dogs!".


5) There was a 30 year gap between Disney movies featuring Mickey Mouse, marked by The Simple Things in 1953 and Mickey's Christmas Carol in 1983.


4) According to Walt Disney, Mickey and Minnie Mouse have never been married on screen.
(They sure seem to have a fantastically long courtship however. Oh Minnie- will your dreams ever come true?)


3) During World War II, when the Allied forces invaded Normandy on D-Day in 1944, "Mickey Mouse" was used as a secret password between intelligence officers.


2) The first two Mickey Mouse films that Walt made cost the studio $2,500 each.


1) In 1935, The League of Nations (later to be replaced with the United Nations) presented Walt Disney with a special medal, in recognition of the fact that Mickey Mouse was a symbol of universal goodwill.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Buyer Beware - LA Weight Loss & Herbal Magic

Have you ever wondered if popular weight loss programs are actually effective?
Have you questioned how healthy their methods are?
Have you doubted the claims that you can lose 10 pounds in a week?
Have you wondered how they’d melt away that spare tire?

My research group for a recent Buyer Beware project asked ourselves these exact same questions, about the legitimacy and potential health risks posed by weight loss programs. We wanted to see what programs like Herbal Magic and LA Weight Loss would offer us as potential clients, and then assess their selling methods and their program’s chance of taking off the weight for good versus a healthy style of living. Our proposal states it best. Amanda, Tammy, Melissa and myself conducted:

A comparison of the selling tactics at both Herbal Magic and LA Weight Loss centres to determine whether or not each business is operating legitimately. Also, to determine whether or not each company is up front with pricing, product, and program information. The overall goal is to prove to consumers that using a weight loss program such as Herbal Magic or LA Weight Loss is not the healthiest way to lose weight, and that each company is intentionally deceptive in order to make money.


Appointments were set up for us to go to a consultation at Herbal Magic in pairs, at LA Weight Loss as a “bridal party”. We wanted to see what they were really saying to women and men trying to lose weight and whether or not they were pressuring people into joining to fulfil their bottom line. We also created posters put up around the Red River College campus advertising our need for testimonials about either of the programs; we offered a short, confidential survey where former/current customers could tell us about their experiences.

All four of us participating in the consultations are definitely at healthy weights; therefore it would be wrong for the centers to put us on diets of any sort.
The results were not surprising, but disturbing nonetheless.


First we learned as much as we could about their supplements, their evaluation process, and what results they claim we could achieve.

My precursory belief that someone’s BMI is an indicator of how healthy they are was blown out of the water. More specifically, Body Mass Index is a number calculated from a persons’ height and weight used as a screening tool to determine whether an individual is underweight, average weight, overweight, or obese. I was fascinated by Melissa’s research on our own/classmates Body Mass Index; I have a BMI of 21, and the potentially "healthy" weight range is between 18.5 and 24.9.

The problem arose when we asked four healthy, physically fit looking male classmates to participate in a BMI calculation. All were considered “overweight”. Keep in mind that all four guys are muscular, and muscle adds to total body weight. Looking at their height and weight below, it’s easy to picture how the BMI can give you a quantitative sign of your health but how in reality the numbers don’t prove anything.

• Emmanuel at 5’1 and 130 lbs
• Steve at 5’7 and 177 lbs
• Mike at 5’10 and 175 lbs
• Neil at 6’ and 200 lbs


Regardless of what the media portrays in advertisements for weight loss companies and products, there is a limit to how much weight a person should lose in period of time. A Registered Nurse explained that, “1 to 1.5 pounds a week is the standard amount of weight a person should lose. Anything over that is not healthy for the body.”

During our consultation at LA Weight Loss, it was made very clear that on their 1200 calorie-a-day diet I could lose as much as 7 pounds on the first week.
The maintenance period for both programs ran close to a year, and it quickly became clear why. You lose the majority of your “goal weight” baggage rapidly because the food you would normally be eating is literally cut in half. The rest of the time is spent adjusting your metabolism.

According to a survey respondent, after losing their goal weight over 2 months they quickly gained it back when the money ran out and maintenance fees became too much to continue paying ( $900 for Herbal Magic, $700 for LA). They gave us a great insight into how both programs push customers’ “goal weight” over the top when an infamously hard to lose last 10 pounds refuses to go away. They were put on a “cleanse” (a diet made up of liquids like meal replacements) and the last few inches hanging on melted away.

Side effects of stopping rapid weight loss programs can include gallstone formation, gallbladder disease, dehydration, digestive problems, and lack of nutritional balance in body which must be gradually fixed.


When Tammy asked to see the supplements to check of a supplement at Herbal Magic to compare her list of allergies to the ingredients, the information was noticeably lacking. The problem was that neither Herbal Magic nor LA Weight Loss provided details upon consultation about their supplements. Herbal Magic provided a leaflet containing names of the products and descriptions, and listed some non-medicinal ingredients, but no medicinal ingredients.

LA Weight Loss would not even provide a leaflet, and needed an individual to sign up for the program before learning more. Both Herbal Magic and LA Weight Loss products have been renamed to fit with the overall glorification of the weight loss program, and include titles such as “Lean Extreme,” “Platinum 2000,” and “Gluco-Shield.”



Our visits to the centres opened my eyes the most to how persistent and obliging the consultants are, disregarding your overall health for the goal you want to achieve:

Herbal Magic: They measured my wrist and compared it to my height in a BMI-style calculation. I did not qualify to go on the entire program, as I was within my “healthy weight range”. I pressed that I needed to lose the weight (5 pounds) before Amanda’s “wedding” in December, and our consultant said I could go on their WM-4000 Ultra supplement which works just as fast. I was able to escalate the amount of weight she could lose from 5 lbs, to 7, to 10 without the consultant mentioning that would bring her below her healthy weight range.

I would still have to pay $700 for a year. Each time I would come in for a weigh-in (an advised three times a week) I would have to pay an undisclosed amount. When I inquired what would happen if my money ran out, I was told after some pressing that “the supplements would be out of my system in ten days”.


LA Weight Loss: Measured on a scale, I was told I could lose 10 pounds. All four of us were told we could lose 10 pounds. Despite our very different body shapes, we were all told we could lose 10 pounds and LA Weight Loss could help.

For a food journal of recipes, it would cost $200. The diet information restricts you to 1200 calories. It has a portion on how to feel better about yourself, as well as a restaurant guide. The entire program would be in the range of $750, not including supplements and protein bars.

The consultant spoke about the 52-week plan with a restricted diet that allows one portion of milk, two starches, two proteins, two fats, two fruits, and two vegetables (an augmented version of the Canadian Food Guide, which could never meet the recommended daily intake of the actual guide). There are certain vegetables that a person can have unlimited amounts of, such as celery.

Liquor was welcome, but we would have to tell our consultant so they could factor in how much extra carbohydrates and/or fruits to take out of our allotment.

The consultant told us she saves up her fruit credits through the week so she can have sangria.


At this point I started to get wary. I asked about my medical problems, including a mild heart problem and recurrent lung infections when my immune system is low.

Should I get my doctor’s approval before starting the program?

I was told it wasn’t necessary to contact my doctor.

She would cross-reference my medications with dietitians.

Not only is not consulting a client’s doctor dangerous, it’s irresponsible and makes the company liable. It made me feel unsafe and as if LA Weight Loss was going to make me succeed at any cost.


Children as young as 12 can start the program, with parent’s permission. The body’s metabolism can take up to the age of 18 to regulate, therefore it was our opinion that no child under the age of 18 should be allowed on any such program.


The conclusions I drew from our experience can be summed up in points I believe all potential customers should think about before beginning a program that will drastically change the way your body metabolizes food:
• Both programs lock you into a $700+ commitment.
• LA Weightloss = $200 down payment
• Must be on the program for a year maximum.
• Uses coercion to sell products and programs.
• Unethical by playing on people’s insecurities.
• Dangerous to overall health by not considering pre-existing medical condtions (LA Weight Loss)
• Overall health compromised by the goal to get the customer down to their desired weight
• Results not long lasting

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Some People Call Us Crazy/Singing Out Loud Like We Do Here On The Street




In the crush of the ever-rolling ball of work piling up for Red River College students, as we reach the beginning of the trench that consists of midterms and larger end of term assignments, I figured it would do some good to blow off steam on a music post.

I'm not musical by nature. When it came time in junior high to audition for instruments, I was the kid who was unable to play anything. I played triangle. I played it well.


There are no "bad" musical genres to me; I prefer certain sounds over others. I find this a handy approach when picking what I "like" over what I do not. For example, I enjoy dancing to techno because I'm a fan of having a driving beat in a song but when I dance for the sake of dancing I'm not a fan of having any lyrics behind it.

I was born and bred by a blueswoman, so I have to give credit where credit is due. From the time I could walk, I would dance with my mother around our house to whatever John Lee Hooker album was playing. She was one of the founding members of the Manitoba Blues Society, so I have some large boots to fill if I want to even talk about a driving love for music. She gave me the love of Colin James, Billie Holiday, Sam & Dave, John Hammond and so many more artists integral to the blues and soul scene of a hundred year span. This is a forewarning of the little inklings of blues that work their way into all of the artists I enjoy today.

I take lyrics and metaphors in songs very seriously. My favourite singers are singer-songwriters who's writing is either steeped in hidden intentions through cleverly phrased words, or clearly worked in.


The most important element highlighted in the artists I'm hoping to introduce to readers (or reintroduce to your surprise and delight) is voice. The style of singers tend to I fall in love with regularly ranges from folky dirges to bluesy lamentations. If their voice seems to soothe over the lyrics like it hasn't taken enough out of them personally to come to fruition, I don't form a connection with it on a deep enough level. I trip into songs where the lover is never able to fully bring about their idea of love, and the subject of the song is always an outcast somehow. I like the struggle; the struggle of the words out, the struggle of the characters in the song, the struggle of the idea to come through. Often I find, after research, that the songs I'm attracted to come from people who have come from unturned stones.


Paolo Nutini: He made his first demo, getting him signed to Atlantic Records in May 2005, shortly after his 18th birthday. He dropped out of school at the age of 16 to become a roadie, born the same year as myself in 1987. He sounds like a old man out on the moors. What's fascinating about him to me is how unlikely it is to hear such a classically Scottish voice getting radio play in North America. His beautifully pale features are accented by his father's Italian descent, ad his style is notably hard to nail down at this early stage in his career. The more contemporary Last Request and his Sunny Side Up album's No Other Way suffer a huge dichotomy, not to the detriment of his very individual voice however. His raspy voice makes the waver in his chords even more fantastic. His style was unlike anything I had heard outside of Celtic music. I remembered it over the course of a few years until I was able to search him out. A sign of a noteworthy artist is memorability based upon a specific instance in which you're struck by them.

Paolo Nutini doing incredible cover of Trouble So Hard.





Ray Lamontagne: My favourite singer. His style comes off as so earnest, his voice constantly on the brink of an emotional breakthrough but always contained to the point of frustration. His guitar playing is the rock through all of his songs, the majority of his tracks on all three albums he has produced solo efforts. He performed on Saturday Night Live on March 7 of this year; despite being in front of a television audience of millions he looked no less sedate and heavy-lidded than he does in the video above. Gorgeous. He's so soft spoken and his lyrics seemingly come from a place where he's reckless.

According to his biographical information left here and there, he spent his childhood reading fantasy novels in the woods and ditching high school as a disinterested party to the process. He worked a job at a shoe factory in Lewiston, Maine, where he worked 65 hours a week until abandoning it all to become a singer. I have no real desire to know anything about him. He's uncomfortable talking about himself, and the fact that he loves to write songs is what I'm interested in.

I frequently step into these type of tall tale-sounding stories, as truthful as they may be. I like to hear those sorts of stories retold in song, so I suppose those types of lyrics can only come from a life interestingly/hard lived.

The breathiness lends itself so well to a rugged frontier blues style heard in one of my favourite songs, Crying Shame (Henry Nearly Killed Me).





Martin Sexton: Martin Sexton is the king of hard lived. All of his songs hit very close to home for me. I've been listening to him since I was 8 years old, and his album Black Sheep has been with me through many different stages of my life and changes in taste, but never has his soul-sound gotten away from me. His album Black Sheep will be around when I get my first apartment and will be in my house, I guarantee.


He's humble. It's a quality which comes across only if it's earnest. His music comes from the road. He has a huge musical soul to house all of his rambling life experiences. He sang classic rock and roll in his migrated home of Boston, where he lived on the streets and sold 20,000 copies of his album In The Journey out of the trunk of his car. He recorded it on an old 8-track in a friend's attic. His popular song Candy was about a prostitute he knew from frequented corners where he'd sing.

I saw Martin Sexton for the first time this year, my mother for her third. I chose a classic Martin Sexton-style live performance to demonstrate what I love about him because when I sang with him at the beginning of Black Sheep I teared up.

Martin's the best live performer I've ever seen and hope to see. It's tragic when "mainstream" musicians don't perform to their album standards, but Martin's so filled with different influences and powerful harmonies that hearing your favourite song is welcomely different every time you hear it. His solo performances are stronger than hearing an entire band at times and if you're a fan of his music it's phenomenal to hear him riff live.


When looking for new and interesting musical experiences, my own have taught me to look toward the raw and unpolished, the old and the new. I'm always pleasantly surprised with what I find.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Can Do Zat


"I can do zat!"
Pavel Andreievich Chekov saved my blog.



I am under the impression that I have fixed my Blog.

I was having a major problem where the comment code couldn't be reached, but I changed the dimensions and according to the lovely people who sent me advice I'm pretty sure I've fixed the issue.

Link: There, I Fixed It

Friday, September 25, 2009

Art In Our Time

"Our intention is to affirm this life, not bring order out of chaos or to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we are living, which is excellent once one gets one's mind and one's desires out of the way and let it act of its own accord." -John Cage






I think art has a place in our society.

After attending several sessions of the Winnipeg Writer's Festival at the campus, I am at a point of acceptance with the idea that art has an indefinite place in our society that is hard to pinpoint. Art can be a multitude of things; a poem, a spraypainting, a photograph of strategically placed items, oil on the floor, plants climbing a wall. Art is used for so many purposes from inciting anger and happiness to perpetuating propaganda in well designed posters for dictatorial magistrates.

Art and I are odd friends. I've gone through phases where I did not consider painters worthy of government subsidy in place of research committees and other more "logical", institutional pursuits. It's taken time for me to realize that everything I do from putting an unfortunate amount of thought into song order on a CD I'm burning to painting on rocks for my Grandmother's garden is artistic. I enjoy drawing in my free time, but always considered it a silly pastime that never amounted to my success in the professional world and should be ignored. Again, it took time until I realized that graphic designers are professionals. They are professionals in an artistic world full of artists and art.

I recently saw The Tragically Hip in concert. They're one of my favourite bands because of their lead singer Gord Downie. When my mother saw them in the 1980's, she said Downie had a habit of rolling around on the ground while singing. I would consider him an artist. The lyrics of his songs are some of the most cryptic in popular music and often reference popular culture, obscure Canadian history and geography. His movement when he sings is free. It's like he's in a trance. Tiger The Lion from the band's Music@Work album discusses what has become the main tenant of my theory on art.


John Cage was an experimental music composer who attempted to put Zen Buddhist beliefs into practice through the music he composed. His most recognizable piece of music is his 4'33 which consists of almost 5 minutes of silence in three movements (the first being thirty seconds, the second being two minutes and twenty-three seconds, and the third being one minute and forty seconds). It invokes an appreciation for the sounds around you, when you are in the presence of other people and when you are alone with your own thought. It also hammers home his idea that any sound, or lack there of, constitutes music.

His book Silence became a critical success, and Cage believed that theatre was the closest route to integrating art and (real) life and read his short stories to music or dance. Cage's artistic life went through a crisis in mid-1940s as the composer experienced disillusionment with the idea of music as means of communication: the public rarely accepted his work, and Cage himself, too, had trouble understanding the music of his colleagues. He would rejoin with his understanding of art in the 1960's, when his freedom of thought would be better embraced.


Sometimes art can be dynamic beyond control. I'm never sure if children understand this better than all of us or whether or not they put no specific meaning into their actions that we might regard as artistic. I appreciate the free style of avant garde art much more when I began to understand that art is not striving to complete your masterpiece of work which inevitably consumes or takes your life from you. Life is art, as everyday actions, unstructured, reflect my artistic self.

It's interesting to break out of my daily routine and contemplate how I was creative each day. I can contribute a reawakening of my creativity to CreComm, and I'm grateful for it.



Link: A site of John Cage's short stories titled Indeterminacy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Walking The Dog



Charlene Adam of the Winnipeg Free Press has been discussing Winnipeg's usage of city parks and designated areas for dogs as of late in her pet columns.

I adore dogs. I know my dog breeds. I know my dog training techniques. TV's Dog Whisperer and I are good friends through the magic of TiVo DVR. We eat lunch together (mostly where I eat lunch, and he continues doing his job through the glass). Unfortunately, I am allergic to dogs. Therefore, I am everyone's designated dog walker, by my own recommendation. I am yet to experience walking a neighbour or family member's dog in a public park, but understand the plight of the pro-dog space individuals wanting to expand the city's dog friendly parks.

The city of Winnipeg hosts a total of eleven parks where registered dogs can roam and play off-leash, but a recent issue with humans playing and frolicking in an area leased and restricted off by a sporting group in Maple Grove Park has the resident dog owners' fur up. If the owners and their four legged friends are being further restricted by sporting and recreational activity, I would assume the only fair solution to be to create another area with a larger range for owners to take their pets. Adam raises a point of interest that humbled my view; the consensus is not 100% in favour of dog parks as their are individuals in every community who are either afraid of dogs or uncomfortable with them being off-leash. If owners are not as diligent as is necessary, messes ensue. Large messes, considering the size of some dogs. The selection and number of off-leash areas has to be delicately decided.

I believe a happy medium can be found. Not all dog parks have to be created within conventional spaces. Like the off-leash area behind the Humane Society, there are fields unused near industrial areas throughout the city. Twice a year the city plows a path for easy access at the Humane Society location, and there is no conflict between other venues or activities as there are no ball parks, soccer fields or houses backing onto this space. It is within walking distance of many homes, but the only downside becomes apparent during the spring thaw when much of the ground becomes a muddy landslide. Winnipeg weather can be the total undoing of good intentioned areas and create a nightmare for owners who abhor muddy paws.

Winnipeg could potentially designating space for a dog park specially alloted for service dogs, such as fully trained guide dogs, in a bold move following a new trend. Halifax opened up such a park on September 8th, and it has been heralded as both a financial and responsible land usage success; building the fenced-in area only cost the city a few thousand dollars. I believe that to be a small price to pay for an area free of obstacles the dogs' owners would normally encounter in a public park. Plus, these dogs deserve it. Halifax currently has the only park of this type in Canada or the United States.


Whatever the conclusion of ongoing debates, dogs have to run. People will find spaces, and compromises will be made with hairless hominids throwing Frisbees in the grass. I, meanwhile, have to go watch Caesar Milan discipline naughty terriers.

Winnipeg Dogs @ Blogspot.com
Caesar Milan's Official Site

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Introductions

"The casual conversational tone of a blog is what makes it particularly dangerous." -Daniel B. Beaulieu


Through the expansive list of outlets I am learning to express my writing through as part of the Creative Communications program, I didn’t expect to have a blog. I have established blogs for personal informative purposes, where you can learn the tawdry details of how many packages of tube socks I’ve recently purchased (on sale, mind you). I have established blogs to provide updates on fandom and interests, but never as a professional channel to showcase writing.

I find it refreshing to be able to utilize the immediacy of blog posting to write about something pertinent at the moment of discovery, which put in to an essay format could become invalidated by new information. Being able to update and edit at will are friends of mine, in particular when dealing with current events.

I’m open to topics.
I’m mentally Rolodexing through my interests to find topics.
The thrill of blogging is the ability to have an idea strike at any moment, therefore I’m open for business.



Next: A discussion of what the Winnipeg Free Press’ Charlene Adam can’t fence in.