Feh you

August 3, 2010

Visited a family camp last weekend.

No swearing.

Feh. Feh that. There’s no fehing way I can go a whole weekend without slipping a feh into a phrase.

At first it was difficult remembering to replace bad words with other good words, but eventually all words just became bad by context. “glue” and “puddle” are innocuous enough, until heard in the context, “You’re a worthless piece of glue, you stupid mother puddle, why the feh don’t you do any puddle glue the way you’re supposed to?” Then what are we left with…? Glue sticks become naughty, mud puddles become aggressive inflammations, and nonsense phonemes adopt lazy anger. (Phrase used only for illustration; it was never uttered. Well, maybe it was, but only directed at my GPS).

Meanwhile, that sentence could have been said equally scathingly, perhaps more so, without any of the fehs or puddles of glue.  Sunday night I watched an unreal play/dance/light sculpture/performance by Joe Goode called Travelling Light, in which one pair of performers recounted their summer together in happy dulcet tones. As their modern dance became increasingly agitated and mean-spirited they repeated the same words, but the meaning was entirely different. The phrase “we always spoke frankly to each other” takes on an entirely different meaning when shouted with rage in the eyes.

So I’m going to try not to swear. If Will Smith can rap albums without a single feh, I can express myself equally successfully and likely more efficiently, without it.

Think I’ll be less cool if I stop? Feh you.

Post-hipster

August 2, 2010

photo by Lara

Introducing the ironic ironically-skinny jeans.

I’ve lived in the Mission for a month. Dudes here wear denim so tight that their man-ness has to enter negotiations with their kidneys for internal real estate because they’ve been evicted from the sweet exterior.

Those jeans are rull, rull skinny. They’re like skin, I thought. Might as well just be jean-colored tights.

Divine providence struck. Walking through walgreens this morning, searching for a replacement to my current paper-flat toothpaste tube, I found these (photo above). Skin-tight, denim-print spandex. Pre-cuffed. Two for ten or one for five.

Hipsters, the arms race continues…

Update: My initial thought when buying these dumb pants was that I was sticking one to those dumb hipsters by making fun of them and their dumb style. Recall that phrase, “if you can’t beat them, join them”? I thought I was definitively beating them by taking their dumb fashion to the logical (and absurd) conclusion — according to Lara and Tropic Thunder, I was going “full retard”. You NEVER go full retard. But Michael pointed out that by trying to beat them, I am joining them. You can’t make an artwork that comments on modern art without creating modern art. Hipsterism is a constant arms race to do dumber things and wear dumber clothes, to drink dumber beer and listen to dumber music. By doing something EVEN dumber, even if it is “full retard”, I’ve realised I’m not beating them at all — I’m joining them with my guns blazing and hipster flag waving proudly. Because the jeantights are a commentary on the skinny jeans, the joke wouldn’t exist without the initial skinny-jeans. In referencing those, it bolsters their existence. It requires their existence.

The only way to win against the hipsters would be to ignore them. But that’s not winning, that’s just not playing. And not playing is losing.

This is the last nudge I need to finally admit that I am, and have been for ages, a raging hipster. It’s nothing more than the attitude “wow that’s dumb. I’m going to show how dumb it is by doing something dumber. That’ll learn the dummy.” This is recursive. And the end case is…. something really really really dumb.

Watch out for me strolling through delores park next sunday with a bike slung over my shoulder that’s so impractical it’s actually a 3 year old’s Tyco tricycle, wearing a tshirt so dumb it’s actually a large bra, jeans so skinny they’re actually just paint on my bare legs, and “irony” tatooed across my face. That’ll learn them.

Hike

July 27, 2010

The sickest mini hike within an hour of SF is right here. You zigzag up the face of a mountain, getting higher and higher above the foggy horizon, clouds streaming above you and blending into the horizon. The waves at the beach an eternity below you crash in little white lines, as if arranged on a mirror by a credit card, just waiting for you to breathe them in. The curvy view-filled mountain suddenly explodes into a dense misty forest with ancient, enchanted trees. A small way further and there’s a natural window out of the forest onto the hill across the valley. From this vantage point we sat in silence. Time passed. Fog rolled. Hawks flew. Nature existed.

Bliss. Follow the road to Stinson!

Kingdom of Squiggles, by Wyatt Roy

Once there was a kingdom of squiggles. They looked just like hairs from the top of your head, but when they moved, they squiggled. They were a peace-loving people, too squiggly to get much done, but also too squiggly to care about it either.

One day a toothpick visited the kingdom. The squiggles didn’t know what to make of him. Try as they might, they could not teach him to squiggle. And try as he might, he couldn’t teach them to actually do anything.

They had a great feast in honor of their differences. The next day, the toothpick left.

DUH

July 23, 2010

I’m a little behind the curve on this one, but it’s so changed my recent life I had to write about it: The Hype Machine is the slickest.

Music blogs rule because they keep you in with all that sick new ish, those fresh soundwaves, and hook you up with the beats right there, often free.

They suck because there’s too many clicks between you, the millions of music blogs, and the music.

Hypem.com is the answer, and what what what what and answer it is. LOVE.

The thinker

July 22, 2010

A pack a day was exhausting her purse, until Celia realised she could probably just grow her own. She wondered if she’d put enough seeds in.

BIKELIFE

July 21, 2010

I’ve discovered a new limb on my body.

It’s my bike.

It’s different to my previous bike. In fact it’s different to any mountain bike or road bike.

Here’s how.

When I push the pedals, there’ no chain clicking, gear-shifter snicketing, thick tires squelching, like before. There’s just the cool silence of two spinning points of contact, rubber on earth. When I brake, I don’t send a signal down my arm to my hand to squeeze a lever to tighten a cable to compress a pincer to add friction to the steel rim of a wheel to slow its rotation. Now, I make the same movement as when slowing to a stop after running — I absorb the speed in my legs and slow down. No cables, handles, little pieces. Just me and my legs, and this new part of me that moves as I move.

There’s no coasting. When my body’s moving through the streets, my legs are moving. As it should be. It’s like running, but with no impact. Going ten times the speed. With one tenth the effort.

Actually, it feels like flying.

Before, if someone stole my bike, it’d feel like they stole a pair of shoes. Now it would feel like they’d stolen my feet.

What kind of bike gives such incredible feedback and sense of oneness to its rider? I’m sorry hipster-haters, I never understood it before buying this bike… it’s called a fixie.

BP gets a B- in PR

July 20, 2010

photo credit: http://www.americablog.com/2010/07/bp-photoshops-fake-photo-of-command.html

When I think “BP”, I immediately imagine dolphins and shrimp choking on oil, and a big corporation doing way too little about it, way too slowly. BP tried to change this sentiment with some positive PR about their command center that’s cleaning it up. What a mess. They photoshopped a lot. And really carelessly.

But I don’t think it was malevolent, necessarily. Just stupid. Here’s my professional opinion:

What they photoshopped here was because they likely used autometering on the camera (which probably was a point-and-shoot, or DSLR on “auto”) with a broad meter-mode to average the brightness of EVERYTHING in the frame. There’s a huge dynamic range in images with people sitting in front of projection screens — dynamic range just means “range of brightnesses” — so in these situations (in which I’ve done a bunch of photoshoots), the subjects of the photo end up getting underexposed (too dark) and the screens get overexposed (too bright). The photoshopper tried to extract the underexposed people and brighten them — I can tell because of the noise present on their faces (like “graininess”). This way, he/she’s creating a faux-HDR (or “high dynamic range) photo — a photo that compresses all the actual brightnesses of light in a situation into the smaller range of brightnesses that are displayable on a computer screen, or in a printed photo. It’s like this, where obviously the sky is brighter than the trees in real life, but in the photo both are visible, or this, where again, obviously the sky was brighter than the table under the tree (the sky was the light source!), but to make the photo aesthetically better and to display visual information more like how our eye naturally sees it, I compressed the range of brightnesses, making the bright things the same brightness as the shadows so you don’t have anything blown-out white or underexposed-black, and can see the whole image.

Bringing it back to BP, they must not have had anyone on the job who knew how to take an HDR shot (even if they did, HDR shots are also nearly impossible with moving things in them, like people, because they require 3 or more separate shots at different exposures to capture detail at all the different brightness levels). But BP knew that the photo would look better with more color/detail, so brightened all the people and darkening the screen, simply doing a dodgy job of extracting them with a really shoddy layer mask. Extraction’s tough though! There are no good automatic tools to do it — lots of tools to make it easier, but no tool will automatically “know” what you want extracted, especially not in the mixed luminance/color situations of those photos.

Taking a photo from 10 years ago and placing fake screenshots of a contemporary oil spill onto them is foolish, because it’s fiendishly difficult to make it look convincing. It’s also misleading and lying, neither of which I condone. But in their defence, it’s hard to obtain release forms from non-models, ie. the workers actually working in the real operations station. Especially if they’re working in a high-pressure, politically charged situation and don’t want their faces up on the internet.

So I understand how a series of small steps, from “make the photo prettier”, which made the photoshopper increase the dynamic range, to “release a command center shot” with none available and no ability gain permissions to take one, could have led to this. But it’s almost always stupid to lie, and BP definitely should have said “we’re unable to release photos of our command center/response team yet, we’re working on it — but currently all of our resources are devoted to cleaning the oil, not snapping photos”.

BP, call me.

Edit: On second thought, the photoshopper may have done all this dodgy work deliberately, to sabotage BP’s public relations efforts. I can empathize with doing this — and would find myself compelled to do it if I were in the photoshopper’s position. It is for this reason I can’t see myself working PR or advertising in the future — I don’t like the idea of being paid to convince people things I don’t believe (or on which I believe the exact opposite).  I’d make a terrible corporate whore.

I’m not sure which is scarier:

a) Someone designed socks for individual feet

b) I can actually feel the difference (it’s weird and strange, like putting your pants on backwards. What, you’ve never done it? Try it now. It’s weird and strange.)

c) One of them had a sex change.

But none of those things are as scary as how fast I go when I’m wearing these. These are patented Fast Socks. Eat my smoke.