The Brilliance!

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#INTERNET Ah, we're back! Like we said, we were just "chilling out" for like 3 years. Feels good to have the team back writing. Still us three: Chuck, Benjamin, and Virgil. Got new interviews coming up, and hopefully we'll be posting on a regular basis, who knows. We also interviewed each other, check: CHUCK, BENJAMIN, VIRGIL...

Netflix: Rome: Engineering an Empire!

I rent documentaries from Netflix often. True story. I’ve taken quite an interest in Rome lately…figured I’d polish up on what I’ve forgotten from high school. While I’m no ‘buff’ on the topic, I thoroughly enjoyed watching “Rome: Engineering an Empire” last Sunday while enjoying a cold Coors Light. It’s pretty much unfathomable that these unbelievable structures were created so long ago, so precisely, so beautifully, and so quickly. I had no idea the Colosseum was built in 8-10 years. Thats just insane! The hospital they’re building up the street from me is going to take 4 years to complete. Now, granted, we don’t use slave labor of any sort, its pretty amazing that without any modern technology or modern tools…or even producing any pollution (!!) that something so massive could be created that quickly…and still be standing today. The stuff they cover in the DVD is pretty amazing…from the rise to the ruin of the Roman empire. I can’t say I find even 50% of what they did as a culture to be acceptable…quite an in-humane group of people…but wow, just amazing what they accomplished. Made me really want to visit Rome. So yeah, if you’re a Netflix user you should throw it on your queue instead of Beowulf. ***Ignore the negative nerd reviews…

Pitchfork.tv launches!!!

It’s things like this that we love at The Brilliance. Nice site design, good quality videos (YouTube? Gonna catch up soon on that…??), good content, nice execution, and videos of Radiohead with Thom Yorke on drums. Pitchfork Media is notorious for its reviews and its year-end lists (Hey Nigel - think either of us will end up on the “Worst Covers of the Year” again here in 08? Ha…) but Pitchfork.tv seems like a fantastic extension of Pitchfork Media that can put any of the wits of the 0.0 reviews aside and focus on great content. Live performance videos, interviews, and behind-the-scenes looks at all sorts of amazingly talented acts. I LOVE that when you click the links in the top navigation row it keeps your video playing and slides the content sections over. Very smooth… I was watching this Liars video, wanting to look around the site more and thought I’d have to go back to the video to navigate back to where I was before I clicked away but really enjoyed that it just kept it there. Such a nice little touch. I love that good ideas are flowing strong in web design today. It’s great when media-rich sites are simple, good looking, and friendly to use…I don’t think that’s an easy thing to pull off by any means. And it doesn’t hurt that they kicked off with Radiohead, Liars, and the Pixies either…Anyways, well done Pitchfork. I’m impressed.

Urban, 3D, farms!

I guess all farms are ‘3D’ by nature…but it makes the title a bit more interesting right? An interesting article on the Web Urbanist blog prompted my posting of this…the article talks about the concept of having actual farms in dense urban areas, but instead of the typical land mass that a farm today requires these ones would require very little by simply going up. Skyscraper acres if you will. Wow, I just came up with that…you heard it here first, ha. If anything, its just a fun concept to think about. And the pictures in the article certainly jog the imagination. The idea of a 100 story building that essentially doesn’t have walls and each ‘floor’ is an acre of corn, or soy bean, or potatoes, or lettuce, etc…with all sorts of clever ways to get the plants sunlight, water, etc. I love thinking about it just from an engineering standpoint. Lots of interesting potential benefits too: job creation in distressed urban areas, less transportation from the ‘field’ to the market/store, and fresher air maybe? All sorts of good stuff. Plus, doesn’t it seem like that would get us back into the ‘village community’ style way of living a bit more? The farms and the town all in one area…and in a much denser area. Seems like we could leave more of the earth ‘unspoiled’ by concentrating things a bit. Hmm…it sure would look crazy. Half the skyline of a city would be farms…ha, quite the the thought. It’s interesting, the first time I ever considered ‘stacked’ fields was during a conversation with my brother-in-law about how production of E85 fuel might prompt engineers to figure out ways to get more from an acre than just an acre…naturally stacking things comes to mind. Anyway, interesting article…interesting thing to think about. ***I can just see like a whole new genre of those city-hipster-hippie types…farming plays so well with their aesthetic, you know? Like, now you can have a loft AND be a farmer. Skin tight farmer overalls are about to be the next big thing, ha.

A great Reference Library!!!

I am not gonna lie…I need to step up my interior design game. The ability style ones place it just as fun as styling oneself. But I am still standing by my excuse that I am pretty much never at my place for more than quick stints of time. That’s still a lame excuse, I know. This realization is all stemming from this cool blog I stumbled across called the Reference Library…and that it is. A bunch of cool vintage pieces that I would never think to search for. I am super jealous of anyone that can use ebay effectively like this. This guy has mastered that vintage aesthetic that can take traditional or modern decor to that other level you always see in the magazines. I love everything about this blog, the typography, the voice its written in, the nostalgia. It’s funny cause if you look at my taste “Vintage/thrift store-dusty” stuff isn’t necessarily my thing, but nostalgia definitely is.

Muxtape! 2 things.

Like this app needs anymore press you know? Sheesh, everyone is vouching for this thing…like everyone. 2 things. #1 - Love the concept and execution. So simple…I love simple things. How many times have you been like ‘hey, I’ll throw a mix tape together for you’ and then you never follow thru with it cause you actually have to get a CDR, etc…or you have actually throw everything in a folder and send it over via senduit.com (my favorite). Those are nice, and then you have the music…but, what about house parties, etc? You don’t have all your music with you, so just make a couple ‘Muxtapes’ and pull them up when you get to the house or whatever…you know? I probably could of thought of better examples than that, ha. Whatever, its a really, really great app…works well. And I like it. #2 - The design…is awesome. Really, really beautiful and simple. Like Jason from 37signals said: “you-can’t-mess-this-up design” or something like that. It’s just dead simple…an example of form following function. I seriously can’t get enough of sites that work/look/feel like this. Give me more! #3 (bonus) - Muxtape made me realize how much it can suck to have DRMed music. I couldn’t upload like 75% of the music wanted to because I bought it on iTunes. What the hell is going on with the “music industry” right now…honestly, 18 months from now, where will we be? Anyway, enjoy the Muxtape I made below. ***I love, LOVE, how it doesn’t have some goofy flash embeddable player…or an embeddable player of any kind. I just don’t like them.

Push/Pull is PositiveCycling.com! A new project I’m part of…

I love riding my bike. Funny, cause things that are hobbies for me tend to turn into ‘businesses’ or ‘projects’ at some point. Push/Pull is just that…actually, its not at all my project, it’s the well crafted work of Neil Hubert who you may remember from this post I did a while back right here on the site talking about the now legendary Wednesday Late Night Downtown Grand Rapids bike races. He’s the guy who made those happen…and he’s making Push/Pull happen now as well. (I’m just helping Push/Pull happen from a funding standpoint.) Some comments from me on the project: Those late night races developed into a ‘scene’ if you will, a healthy one. And when scenes of that nature get developed its always fun to throw some products together that represent both the scene itself and it’s all important members…those that participate. That’s what this first iteration of Push/Pull is…a simple t-shirt line and a blog for the first season to simply display a scene, lifestyle, and aesthetic that ALREADY existed. I’m spending all this time explaining this because I think its critical that we mention that this isn’t some “t-shirt company” we started to create a scene…Push/Pull is documentation of a great, but small, scene of really positive cyclists here in Grand Rapids, and beyond, that love to ride. It’s t-shirts now, and we don’t even care about the American Apparel tags (!!), but as Neil points out in his post on the site titled “plans”...there is a lot more on the way. Some of the cut and sew stuff we are doing is going to be really great. And affordable! So yeah, welcome to a new project I’m a part of: Push/Pull! ***How perfect is the domain and tag line? Ha, I seriously love it.

It IS Always Sunny in Philadelphia!!!

We’ve mentioned a bunch of times that TV on TV is doomed, which makes it great that sites like hulu will be the norm. NBC Universal and News Corp. teamed up to put 400 different TV shows and full length movies in super crisp video format. (sidebar: why is youtube still so grainy??) Hulu is of course ‘internet’ FREE and fun to use. With the amount of time I spend on a computer I am way more open to getting into a new TV show on a computer screen, then every single Thursday at 8:00 pm. In the last 2 days I have watched like 6 episodes of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and I am hooked and I never would have come across this show in any other format. There are a few commercials but its painless because you know when they are coming and there’s a ticker that lets you know how long till its over. Good stuff.

Odds & ends…

Randomzzz, junk drawer contents, odds & ends, potpourri, a cornucopia of tidbits, etc.

-Dollar Artists. You know what they say about how some people have too much time on their hands…Yeah… But anyways, I really can’t argue with a Winged Dragon made of a dollar bill. I will say, while kitsch to the extreme, I would seriously love to know how to fold a dollar into a lot of these things. Imagine the reaction you’d get while hanging out with some friends, taking a dollar out of your wallet, and folding it into a perfectly crafted Velociraptor.
-Chad Robertson makes incredible paintings. I especially love ‘Set 2’ under the Artwork section.
-Erika Somogyi also is an amazing artist whose watercolor abilities I’m incredibly jealous of. Really some beautiful work.
-I love this site, I Love New Work. So simple, great design, clean, easy to use. The most important aspects of good web design in a nice little site that showcases all sorts of intensely creative, talented people.
-I am seriously all about Bubble Tea now. I am not a coffee drinker. I don’t care for coffee much and it’s not a part of my daily routine like it is for many people, but I could substitute one of these every morning if I really wanted to. Coconut is the best. And hey - someone in Grand Rapids listen up - I’m moving up there soon and as far as I can tell there are no bubble tea cafes. Someone needs to open one. Maybe I’ll do it.
-Speaking of ranting about Bubble Tea and artists, have you seen Stuff White People Like? Probably deserves its own post, but this will do for now. Brilliant.
-All this election drama is getting to me. Barack, Hillary, McCain, etc. etc. etc. I say, why not for the first time in US history elect 3 Presidents at once. Like a Presidential trifecta. Black guy, white guy, woman, everyone’s happy. Get an Asian VP, a Native American VP, and a Pacific Islander VP and call it a day. Everyone happy. Problem solved.
-Allegoric Space has some really nice original work for sale by a bunch of great artists. Can’t go wrong with Michael Genovese’ stuff.
-I updated NoPattern.com with 5 new projects for Nike, Burton, ‘Jumper’, Mountain Dew, and Zune. Check it out. Czech it out. Cheque it out.
-Ok.

I just flew back from SXSW, and boy are my arms tired!

What was that title???! Ha, my goodness. SXSW was a trip…I’d never been to Texas before, so it was a double whammy of new culture. Although, I’m sure Austin doesn’t usually have 87% of all the Wayfarers created, ever, on 6th street every night like it does during SXSW. I wear Wayfarers by the way…ha. I was actually there promoting INDISTR.com to a scene that was certainly in need of hearing about it, went pretty well. The music ‘industry’ is so wild right now…who’s idea is going to win? But yeah, SXSW was almost overwhelming…so many groups playing in such a sort span of time. I heard there are like 1,500 official shows and like 3000 other non-official shows?! Sheesh. My favorite sets: Diplo tore it down, done and done. MGMT was too good, my new favorites right now - thanks to Rob F. All the reggae groups at The Flamingo, too many names. N.E.R.D. did it up nicely too, quite few people in the band. The Virgins, so classic. Matt & Kim, never seen artists have that much fun before. But besides all the bands, swag, really good looking hipster girls, and free drinks…I had more fun than ever sneaking into these spots. Ha, seriously. I’ve never done so much funny stuff to get stuff for free, sneak into VIP, skip lines, get into the press area, etc in my life. Ha, seriously. I was running thru kitchens Stubbs to get to teh VIP section for a better view of N.E.R.D.‘s set, posing as a member of the clean-up team at the Nylon Party to steal beers for the whole crew (they were free, but the line was an hour!!), skipping a massive line by walking in with Michael Stipe - even though he has no idea who I am, ha, etc…too much. Ha, it was like a sport down there. I got busted a handful of times, which is even funnier. My advice to anyone hitting SXSW: don’t wait in line, just get creative…you’ll have a lot more stories. My other bit of advice, splurge for the hotel downtown…we didn’t and it was a mistake. I felt like I was going to be in a scene from ‘No Country For Old Men’ in our hotel. So yeah, it was a great time…super crazy. ***Best scheduling site ever for the event: sched.org.

Kid really is Outasight!!!

So I am in the famed Leaders1354 shop putting the finishing touches on a cool collab and were talking about the state of music and how non-obvious music is on the up swing. Marc’s contribution was this kid Outasight from New York. I know everyone always gets some myspace related music suggestions and it typically only takes 20 seconds to dismiss, but this kid is onto something refreshing. He is rapping, singing over Dilla-esque beats and it comes across natural and head nodding. Even tracks that start out mediocre turn into gems on the way into the chorus. The raps are real raps too! Please get this kid on radio in it last days of importance. Cool Pop music is all together on the upswing I’d say …the internet is the only record label you need nowadays. NY is making a come back and its not in hip-hop Santogold , Vampire Weekend and this kid, sheesh. Outasights’ EP is up there, finally get to updating your iPod.