timotheories 30 (Adele, 25 review)

I bought the third studio album by English singer/songwriter Adele at 30 years old. This post is titled as such because it is a reflection of the time of my life and frame of mind I was in when I wrote this post.

The post contains content which features some of my humour and musings, my thoughts on Adele and her record, and the occasional pop culture reference.

So I guess I’ll start of by saying “hello, can you hear me?” No? Can you hear me now?

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Adele – 25
released November 20, 2015
********** 10/10

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After she released her second studio album 21, Adele took something of a break from music. That break ended up being five years long. This is because while Adele had initially planned on using the hiatus to spend time with her son, when she did get back to work she wasn’t happy with the studio sessions and rescheduled several times before she finally found the material she needed to make something she was proud of. This happened in 2013, so it follows, that as per Adele’s previous two efforts, the album is dubbed 25. The content is thematic.

The album is incredibly focused, which is something we’ve come to expect from the singer at this point. She has become the queen of melancholy, and owns it rather vigorously.

The themes presented in the album can’t be said any better than by Adele herself.

My last record was a breakup record, and if I had to label this one I’d call it a make-up record. I’m making up with myself. Making up for lost time. Making up for everything I ever did and never did. But I haven’t got time to hold on to the crumbs of my past like I used to. What’s done is done. Turning 25 was a turning point for me, slap-bang in the middle of my 20s. Teetering on the edge of being an old adolescent and a fully fledged adult, I made the decision to go into becoming who I’m going to be forever without a removal van full of my old junk.

I read that statement and knew exactly what she meant. Having gone through my mid-twenties already and on the cusp of a new decade of life, not wanting to regret anything, but wise enough, humbled and  imbued with experience from my 20s, her heartache resonates with me on a very personal level.

I read a review on vox.com before sitting down to write this one, and in it, the author said that “By the time I finished listening to 25, Adele’s first new album in almost five years, I’d completely forgotten that I’d been listening to it.” I originally thought she was going to pull the old bait and switch and demonstrate that Adele’s theme is so therapeutic, you forget about it afterwards, which would have been clever.

I disagree and believe that Adele WAS being clever.

The album showcases that she is more mature and aware of the passage of time, with literally every song providing commentary of some sort. If you want a record to inspire you to make art about the concept of time, then this is great source material.

The painful clarity behind a breakup as it happens is powerful in All I Ask, and the somber thoughts of youth characterize Million Years Ago so well. Hello is the first single, and a reminder that just because you’ve ended a bad relationship, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t anguish and guilt that can follow.

I Miss You is a beautifully arranged tune that highlights the ache of being in love and how your heart can be afflicted with fear of separation even while in the same room. Listening to tracks like River Lea and When We Were Young remind me of how complicated emotions are and the challenges associated with perception.

Adele has a powerful and nuanced command of her voice and no matter what your favourite track, you will enjoy this one. I just hope the next record is called 30 and is released within 3 years.

 

 

 

I’m thankful to hear that Adele has joined the ranks of Neil Diamond, The Doors, Louis Armstrong, The Beatles, Oasis, Lionel Ritchie, Simon and Garfunkel and countless others with her take on greeting the world.

I hope you enjoyed today’s review my friends. See you tomorrow with a movie review about family.

Tim!

Mage User VS Art Producer (Artist As Genius)

Are you ready?

For this week’s instalment of Stimulating Sundays, I’m going to write about the fantasy genre and provide a relationship between it and the development of creative ability between family members, dear readers.

The story I’m about to weave could very well be rather complex or overly simplistic, the only way to know is to stick with me and see this through. I have no doubt that you will get there.

I also know that by the end of it, when all is writ and your minds are full, not only will you be satisfied with the results; you will be just a tad more knowledgeable and considerate about the subject we’re covering this evening.

That’s right, this is part 2 of last week’s entry on assumptions.

When I think of fantasy, I cannot help but stop to ponder the Vertigo comics title Fables – I was first introduced to these stories by my mom (who never reads comics) back in either the summer of 2004 or 2005, I can’t remember which, but that isn’t super important for the purpose of this point.

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It does provide a cool anecdote about the length this series has been in my mind though.

If you haven’t read the title before, I would highly recommend the series because it takes characters from the public domain of folklore and mythology and gives them a fun new twist. Regardless if you loved these kinds or stories or not growing up, one of two things will happen when you invest some time in the series (or possibly both). First, you will get reacquainted with familiar characters and have a grand time. Alternatively, you’ll enjoy the stories and the artwork, thus gaining an appreciation for their source material. Or as I said, both things.

So what does this have to do with artist families you ask? I’m getting there, I promise.

Now that I’ve got you thinking about magic, castles, princesses, and morality tales, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to bring up the concept of classes within the form. As we know, fantasy is a genre of fiction that uses magic and the supernatural to help tell a story or which features it in the theme.

The classes of fantasy are pretty straightforward, comprising fighter, magician, rogue, cleric, and ranger, with several variations thereof, as well as specific classes that exist in certain worlds. If you want a more detailed list – check out TV Tropes for more info. Just don’t get stuck there.

Great, so for the purpose of the remainder of this post, let’s assume that artists represent the magician class of a fantasy story, okay?

Which also helps because magic is central to the universe these characters inhabit.

Well, there are a number of reasons why people become magicians, and while most of the time it has to do with natural ability, authors recognize that said ability doesn’t just appear out of thin air. It takes significant time and/or another type of sacrifice in order to gain the experience needed to wield that ability.

Just look at this handful of resources I found about the topic. They all suggest different reasons for why creativity abounds in certain individuals, but the conclusions that nurture plays a role in the development of artists in truth throughout.

  1. Is creative ability determined by our DNA?
  2. Is Art Hereditary? The Mounts, A Family of Painters
  3. What Makes a Family of Artists
  4. Decoding Creativity – It’s In the Genes!
  5. Are some people born creative?

And just for fun, an article for you to check out and for us to come back to regarding artistic spaces. Cleanliness versus mess.

Article number 5 raises an excellent point about why creativity exists

But while creativity may appear to be a spontaneous burst of new ideas, it is really the art of deriving the new from the old – the relentless reassembly of information we already possess.

So for the sake of argument, maybe magicians exist in fantasy because that material needs to be assembled and reassembled, to be used in a way that it takes form and has function. Whether aesthetic or practical. It’s potentially an obvious association, but one that helps to tie back into creativity and why it continues to persist in our genetics.

We need people to exist who help us innovate and evolve. Who move us onward and upwards. As culture shifts, we need pioneers who can help define the way and take problems head on.

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Environments that produce generations of artists can provide that role, but the parents/predecessors need to be especially cognizant of their stake in the process.

I think we will also discover that out of opportunity do artists find ways to exist. For example, my loving childhood home of convention and specific moral qualities allowed not only myself to pursue the arts but both of my younger brothers. But that’s a theory for another day.

What do you think of that theory folks? That creativity harnesses from the created world and furthers the creative cycle?

Tim!

 

‘Tis The Season (Edmonton Winter Activities)

“I feel like I’m going to puke,” that’s what I kept repeating to myself over and over the morning after. I had told myself countless times that I would never go through this again. I told myself that I was going to change my lifestyle and become a different person. A different person, with different hobbies, ones that were less narrow in scope and so self-destructive.

Winter usually does that to me.

The cold air, the slow movement, the limited visibility. It reminds me of that overwhelming feeling of nausea you get right before you decide to puke from the exploits of a night of drinking.

Sure you get to pull out your cool couture with the accompanying cold weather – military jackets, headbands, heavy boots, sweaters, and peat coats. But how long does that tide you over, before you realize you are in this for the long haul, that warmth and light aren’t coming back any time soon? How long before you realize it’s game over!

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I can only blame myself. I don’t know enough about my hometown and as soon as the winter hits, I want to bundle up with a blanket and a dozen or two movies that I’ve just picked up after the Black Friday madness, and settle in for a long winter filled with craft beer and a carved beard. And not much else.

I’m not the only one who feels this way right? Edmonton sucks! Alberta is the worst! There is nothing to do here in the winter! Stupid trading post should’ve never took off and brought settlement along with it. People have a right to their warmth and freedom.

Wait, hold up a second!

I’m kidding, I hope you realize. Mostly kidding anyway.

Edmonton doesn’t suck at all. We truly are a festival city and there are a ton of things to do festival-wise or other in the winter. You just have to change your mindset, get out of your well-worn comfort zone, and expose yourself to new events and good people who host them.

And don’t worry, I’m gonna list a bunch of ideas off, in the hope that some will stick like wet snow, and you find something to do with your time this season, other than couch surfing.

It couldn’t be more timely, but here is the list of typical winter activities you can take up, and how!

 

  1. Get outside and explore our river valley and our parks. And either build a snowman and/or snow fort, have a snowball fight, go sledding, catch some snow flakes on your tongue, or collect some pine cones
  2. Visit a craft show for inspiration and then make some cool ornaments from stuff in nature and/or craft supplies. Or maybe buy some paper and make snowflakes and then leave them throughout the city. Post some photos and share them on instagram #yegwinterart might be a good tag
  3. Jump on zomato.com and try out a local eatery or bar/lounge which is new to YOU. It doesn’t have to be new to everyone, just to you.
  4. Pick up a copy of VueWeekly, Avenue, The Gateway, Edmonton Examiner, Journal, SUN or whatever and go and see something local made (a film, an art opening, a band, a lecture series). I’m not 100% how to get a copy of this online, but I’ll eventually link to some pictures from my hard copy for ease of use. Vueweekly publishes a Winter Guide every year and it covers November-February for a lot of cool events.
  5. Read some of the long lost books you’ve shelved. Grab your flannel PJs, a nice blanket, some slippers, and some hot chocolate spiked with peppermint schnapps OR eggnog OR champagne OR hot buttered rum OR mulled wine OR spiced cider. Visit the Reuse Centre, Value Village, Wee Book Inn if you want inexpensive gently used books.
  6. Join a winter sport. Whether it’s ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice sculpture or hiking. What about something more exotic like winter camping, winter cycling and climbing? You could also join a gym or take up swimming too.
  7. Take a day trip and tour a winery, brewery or distillery to learn about the process and have a fun adventure with your loved one and/or friends. That way you are supporting local business and getting to know areas of the city or the countryside which you probably never knew existed.
  8. Go and experience a different side of life by volunteering at a soup kitchen or donating food/toys/clothing to a local charity. You can clean out your house and help someone else in need at the same time. You could even learn how to make food and preserve it, effectively providing home-made gifts to people who don’t have the means to do so.

 

The best thing about a list like this is that it is totally up to you to decide what to do with it. Take responsibility for your life and try something scary this winter season! Don’t spend another 4 months of your life complaining about how boring this time of year is.

And if you are feeling overwhelmed by the options I’ve presented, don’t fret, dear readers. You can pick a few choice examples and try them out. One. At. A. Time. Because we can only form new habits if we stick to them for 30 days or more. Just kidding, it’s more complex than that. But 30 days is a good start. This is a  topic which I want to cover more in the future, but here is an article to give you a taste for now. But that’s just a theory.

What do you think? Am I suffering from hypothermia? Leave some comments, and let me know how you get through the winter.

Tim!

Where The Art Is (The Google Cultural Institute)

You ever watch those movie trailers, posters or commericials which start off by saying “since the dawn of time…”? I find them cheesy too, dear readers. But I want to try it out one time okay?

Since the dawn of time, mankind has created artwork and stored it in precious places. In other words, for what seems like forever.

What’s forever, precious?

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You know, FOR-EV-ER? Eternity? Infinity? Time without end? Even you can comprehend THAT Gollum.

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You don’t believe me, well that’s fine. I love pulling out my art history cap every now and again. Just give me a minute here to get down to business and find some images and links to get this party started.

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This image was one of the first cave painting images I ever saw when I was doing my undergrad, at the time it was considered to be one of the oldest images ever made (approx. 32,000BC – 30,000BC).

According to this article, a new theory has cropped up. Humans having been making art for about 42,000 years, which when taken along with the theory of evolution, means that humans have been making art for even longer than we’ve been thinking about things. Which is amazing to me, because I’ve always considered art to be a language in and of itself.

That means that we need art more then we need literature and speech, it’s something that we all can understand and relate to, no matter what the oral or sign language we subscribe to. And it’s foundational to who we are. That’s right, sign language is not universal to all creeds and ethnicities.

So visual language is something we can all experience and relate to, and one which is not interpreted differently in other communication styles. It’s fascinating, really.

Also, while I haven’t read this academic paper on comics, linguistics and visual language, just yet – I did find an interesting point made pretty much at the start of the paper which helps with my argument.

Many authors of comics have metaphorically compared their writing process to that of language. Jack “King” Kirby, celebrated as one of the most influential artists of mainstream American comics, once commented, “I’ve been writing all along and I’ve been doing it in pictures” (Kirby, 1999). Similarly, Japan’s “God of Comics” Osamu Tezuka stated, “I don’t consider them pictures …In reality I’m not drawing. I’m writing a story with a unique type of symbol” (Schodt, 1983). Recently, in his introduction to McSweeny’s (Issue 13), modern comic artist Chris Ware stated overtly that, “Comics are not a genre, but a developing language.” Furthermore, several comic authors writing about their medium have described the properties of comics like a language. Will Eisner (1985) compared gestures and graphic symbols to a visual vocabulary, a sentiment echoed by Scott McCloud (1993), who also described the properties governing the sequence of panels as its “grammar.” Meanwhile, Mort Walker (1980), the artist of Beetle Bailey, has catalogued the graphic emblems and symbols used in comics in his facetious dictionary, The Lexicon of Comicana.

You see, we need visual art just as much as we need other languages and the fact that so many people discard this skill for themselves, their children, their students, and the younger generation is frightening to me.

I’m generalizing here, which I hate to do, but so often I hear stories from people that made art when they were young, and then gave it up. We cannot seem to find value in learning the right skills needed to draw accurately, and attribute it to an ability which only some humans can possess. That is false and limiting behaviour.

But today’s Wisdom Wednesday resource is going to get you back to your roots, so to speak.

Alright, I have a secret to share with you fine folks today. Well, I wish it was a secret, because this is one of those resources anyone with an internet connection has had access to since 2011 and which I cannot believe hasn’t shown up more often in Facebook newsfeeds, on blog posts, and in cultural events.

The Google Cultural Institute is an amazing achievement in digital curation and one which features artwork from around the world, archival exhibitions, and three-dimensional recreations of world heritage sites.

You can navigate this content through Art Project, Historic Moments, and World Wonders, all from your main navigation menu. What I find especially cool is that you can take virtual tours of over 40 different museums, whenever you want.

The search terms are incredible as well – collection, medium, event, place, person, media type, date. And did I mention the Discover feature? It lets you explore related topics at the push of a button. And of course can share your findings with friends too.

But that’s not the best part. As an artist, this gets me the most excited. You can save your favourite items and create your own gallery.

Now tell me that that is not cool. Ha, I don’t believe you! Tell me what you really think! Leave some comments, share some thoughts, and I’ll catch you tomorrow for something timely.

Tim!

 

 

Stop and Start (Trainwreck review)

I often wonder how the writer(s) arrive at a title for the movie they are making, and at what point the production executive(s) step in and make alterations, suggest new titles, or farm it out somewhere else.

Anyway, this week’s movie review had me thinking about movie titles again and wondering if this was the working title or the final product of several alterations.

But you’ll see what I mean in a minute.

 

 

 

Trainwreck (2015)
Cast: Amy Schumer, John Cena, Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, Bill Hader, LeBron James
Director: Judd Apatow
released on blu-ray November 10, 2015
******** 7/10

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IMDB: 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%, Audience Score 72%
The Guardian: ***/*****

From the guy that brought you The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People, and This Is 40 comes resident funny director Judd Apatow’s 5th outing. People usually go to watch his films because they blend just the right amount of real life humour with clever humour and clever storytelling to be perceptive, but does this one work well or is it self-indulgent?

The film is mixed bag the more and more I think about it, the concept is interesting, and a lot of the jokes are clever, but let’s go over the story first and I’ll expand further down the line.

The opening scene shows, Gordon (Colin Quinn) having a chat with his two daughters Amy (Amy Schumer) and Kim (Brie Larson), about relationships and to explain that their mother and he are divorcing because “monogamy isn’t realistic.”

Fast forward to the present, we see Amy has taken that message to heart via a montage of her current life –  partying, sleeping with lots of guys, and in a gender reversal, booting them out every night. But she is also casually dating Steven (John Cena).

Amy works at a men’s magazine and after telling her co-worker Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) her most recent conquest, we see her boss Dianna (Tilda Swinton) ask the team for article pitches. When one of her co-workers is pitching an article about a sports doctor, Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), Amy loudly expresses her opinion against sports, and Diana surprises everyone by assigning Amy the article, even though she doesn’t want it.

We see Amy and Kim packing up their fathers house. He has been diagnosed with MS and moved to assisted living. Kim has a husband now and a stepson, who Amy teases. Kim resents their dad because of his lifestyle choices and thinks he is a bad father. Amy wants to make it work and tries to salvage his belongings. Amy later visits Gordon and shares with him that most of his stuff has been thrown away.

Amy then meets Aaron to align schedules and also meets his best friend, Lebron James. Aaron quickly learns that Amy hates sports. Later that night, Amy and Steven are out at a movie. He doesn’t like her drinking, and their fight gets him into a movie theatre fight. While Amy is outside smoking a joint, Steven confronts her about the numbers in her phone.  She admits they aren’t exclusive and Steven leaves, feeling betrayed. At brunch the next morning, Amy finds out that Kim is pregnant. They visit Gordon to tell him, and he’s thrilled to “finally have a grandchild.” This upsets Kim, but Gordon doesn’t believe Allister is really his, so after Amy teases the boy, Kim leaves, noticeably upset.

Next, Aaron is being interviewed by Amy, where she gets a text from her sister stating they should move Gordon to a cheaper home. She has a panic attack, Aaron calms her down, and suggests food. They hit it off. After drinks they get a cab, but Amy corrects the driver, that they only need one stop. And Amy breaks her rule of not staying the night. 

….And I’m gonna stop you right there, don’t want to give the whole plot away!

I have to admit, while I did enjoy watching it, it’s hard to tell if this is an Amy Schumer movie directed by Apatow, or an Apatow movie that starts Shumer. It feels very disjointed, and kind of aimless, which is typically his style, but it doesn’t really make a solid point which seems to be Shumer’s trademark. Having mentioned that, the themes start off interesting by dealing with modern relationship challenges, but it doesn’t pack the raunchy punch that I was expecting, almost like the jokes were there just for shock.

It’s interesting enough to warrant a watch, and people who are fans of Apatow and/or Shumer will enjoy it, but I don’t expect it be kept in any “best of” lists.

Pros: Bill Hader is definitely likeable as Aaron and Tilda Swinton is hilariously awful as Dianna. It is quite funny, and the jokes about interns, The Usual Suspects, and sports are all on point, among other pop culture nuggets.

Cons: The scenes seem to run on a bit longer than they need to and the drama often feels forced. Also the film as a whole is a little long for what it is.

Runtime: 125 minutes

Points of Interest: Chris Rock came up with several of LeBron James’ lines. Bill Hader lost 20 pounds for this role. Judd Apatow contacted Amy Schumer to make this movie after hearing her interview on the Howard Stern show. Judd was blown away by how funny and intimate she was while discussing the troublings of her father’s illness.

Overall, this is a good comedy, but not one of my favourites.

Having said that, I still think that the final name of the movie makes sense. We are looking at the redemption song of a person who at the start of the movie is a “trainwreck” and the movie functions that way too. But what do you think dear readers?

Tim!