His Masters Voice (Goodbye HMV)

I fell in love with the girl at the rock show. With the girl at the rock show.

I’ll never forget tonight. With the girl at the rock show. I’ll never forget tonight. With the girl at rock show.

I’ll never forget, tonight.

Remember that song? It came out way back in 2001. The year that I first began to buy my own music and slowly building up my record collection (read: cd collection). From DMX, to Jimmy Eat World, Weezer (the green album), No Doubt, Nickelback and yes, Blink 182, this was a stellar year for me.

I can’t believe that I’m about to lose it on account of a store closing.

End of an Era

Here’s the thing dear readers, that record store closing is not just one store, but a chain of over one hundred stores across the country. The parent company will still be there when it’s all said and done, but for a number of reasons, HMV Canada, of HMV UK lineage will be gone after April of 2017.

Seriously though, I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that something which has been a central part of my life for almost two decades is about to go the way of the dodo. Something which allowed me to carefully collect almost six hundred albums by way of aisle browsing, slowly researching, and interacting with employees that each had a love of music all their own.

Seeing the engine of the closeout move at full steam ahead, via representations like the banner below on their website have continued to push my heart to break, because while HMV (rarely known as His Masters Voice) had plenty of deals, it was their broad catalogue of music and film which drew in true collectors and lovers of the treasure hunt.

Closing Time

I would spend hours perusing the stacks of the HMV West Edmonton Mall location, and as I got older, I started to branch out and visit locations in Southgate, South Edmonton Common, Kingsway, and Bonnie Doon to find albums I wanted but couldn’t afford at the time of initial release.

Youth of today are likely not going to experience music in the same way that I did, nor did I versus generation x’ers and baby boomers before me, and while that does make me sad in a way, I hope it opens us all up to a more diverse mix of music overall. Acceptance and celebration of cultural differences was accomplished for me by testing out new music regularly.

It can be difficult to “stumble upon” a random artist unless you are diving through the bins, but what’s a teenager to do when that option no longer exists? I guess you just evolve and start using Spotify, iTunes, and Google Play like the rest of the mix?

theories Summarized

This isn’t the first time I’ve said goodbye to something I loved, nor will it be the last.

Yet, there is a glimmer of hope.

The music junkie culture of years past is likely gone, but that doesn’t mean music consumption is altogether deleted. How we consume music is changing, there are more methods now, and buying online will likely be a primary one. But people still want a physical item, and Sunshine Records might have the cure.

I think this might be start of something beautiful, a resurgence of the musical treasure hunt, and this time Sunshine Records promises to offer a mix of vinyl, cds, musical merchandise, and apparel. Hopefully they’re not too late to the game. And that’s my theory.

Tim!

 

Films That Changed The Game (Cross Talk Ep. 15)

There is this phrase out there which tells us that history is written by the victors, and attributed to Winston Churchill. It’s a good quote, and the gravity of it is not lost on anyone. But the intent of the quotation and the reality of it are two different things.

If we stop and consider what that quotation is really saying, its that history is written by writers, and much like present day events, there are conflicting viewpoints on what went down, and over time the extremists viewpoints are taken out and we are left with a more generic set of stories that can be taken in by those with an interest in the past.

Movies Preserved By Collectors

Much can be said about the history of cinema as well. We pick our favourites and share those stories with whoever we will, sometimes movies make it into our homes and sometimes distributors stop carrying copies as technology improves. I’ve seen it happen with one of my favourite movies Anti-Trust. Nearly impossible to find on blu-ray, it was FINALLY released just over a year ago.

And carrying on that line of thought, there are some movie moments that have saved the future of cinema. Not in so literal a result, but by inspiring future directors to push the envelope in new ways. Many movies have their own unique examples that can stop a conversation in its tracks. The wood chipper scene in Fargo, the velociraptors in the kitchen during Jurassic Park, the box reveal in Se7ven, and The Pixies playing “Where Is My Mind” as the city blows up during Fight Club, are all iconic moments.

Whether these moments have taken good movies into the realm of great, or great movies into the exceptional, when it comes down to it, every year in film we get to see some scenes, technical achievements and themes which set new standards in film expectations. Making this art form still relevant and open for public consumption, but resulting in some ideas moving out of favour, ie the traditional western.

In fact, I like to think we prefer to think of film in this way. Quoting from Harry Potter, Dirty Harry, The Big Lebowski and Zoolander have become a natural process, because we embrace the new, though only when it is capable of enthralling us.

And so today, we share with you some of our favourite benchmark movie moments and why they are so incredibly relevant even decades later. Chris and I decided to share the couch with our friend André Lindo once more, and he brings some really cool examples to the room. This is episode fifteen of Cross Talk and it’s a thoughtful one.

Another day, another theory. I hope you enjoyed this episode creative cuties and that you have a fantastic week. Otherwise, please comment, subscribe, and share this video with friends. We want to hear your feedback!

Tim!

Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé… Olé… Olé (Goal Setting)

In December of 2014, I wrote about a longstanding goal of mine and efforts I had made to set it up so I could eventually achieve it!

That goal was The Watch List.

I’ve referenced this goal a few times on this blog, because it’s a fun topic and seems a little silly, but mostly because it directly ties in with my bigger and longstanding goals of writing about the connections between pop culture, human behaviour, and living a successful life (which I’ve slowly been sharing with you, but will continue to build on as we go), I decided it was crucial to become a proper cinephile in order to contribute to the conversation.

Hence I went through the effort of visiting lists of the most popular as well as the most critically acclaimed movies ever made and committed to watch the best of the best.

The conditions I set up for myself were to sample from every film genre known to man, and use IMDB as a reference point for genres – 22 of them to be precise.

I removed movies that I had already seen from the lists, and created my own list to avoid duplicates. How I accomplished building this master list was by identifying all categories for each movie as I added it, that way when I would move on to another genre and look at the top 10% or top 25 movies if the genre was smaller, I didn’t add a movie twice or three times by accident.

Now The Watch List makes just a little bit more sense, right?

Today I want to share with you some developments in this project and a particular component of timotheories – Theatrical Tuesdays. Theatrical Tuesdays is my opportunity to either review a play or piece of theatre I’ve recently watched, a film which is currently in movie theatres or a movie that has been released on Digital HD, DVD and/or blu-ray.

I am choosing to do this for a few reasons.

  1. I want to stay on top of culture as it happens,
  2. It’s important to provide you with my perspective on it
  3. This forces me commit to the practice of viewing new content as it comes out, rather than just watching or purchasing what I am comfortable with when I feel like it

Some of you dear readers might think that this is an easy process and does not take any effort on my part – trust me when I tell you that it does. I have to commit to being available once a week within a certain window of time so that I buy the film (and often the album for Melodic Mondays), and then committing to a window of time to watch the film, and finally setting aside the time to write about the film.

This means I need to maintain discipline and say “no” to certain activities OR prepare posts well ahead of posting time so that I am consistently releasing these posts on schedule. As a consequence, my personal film collection grows by at least 1 film a week. Which is cool, but doesn’t necessarily guarantee I am watching a film that fits into those top rated lists, especially because the content on webistes like IMDB are curated over weeks of time and the top movies aren’t necessarily in said list exactly when they are released.

And this process also fights with my progress on The Watch List. Which is why I only watched a handful of movies from the list in 2015.

Another challenge I face with completing The Watch List is that I purchase blu-rays en masse during Boxing Day, Black Friday and during closeout sales or special events where movies are on sale. At those times I am buying releases I missed over the course of the year and movies I want to add to my collection.

With those types of purchases (bulk buys, not weekly review buys) I have decided to file the movies away once I’ve opened them and watched them. That way I’m not only collecting, I am also making use of my purchases. Because of this method of collecting, my collection is currently sitting at about 650 movies, and approximately 350 of those are blu-rays.

Now you are probably wondering how many movies I own but have yet to watch correct? 89 of them.

One week has already passed in 2016, which leaves me with another 51 weeks left to watch those 89 movies – if I want to stay ahead of my bulk purchasing habits and have fresh inventory for 2017. So that means I need to up my game.

But that’s not what today was about, today was about sharing with you what is going on. You’ll have to wait until Sunday to see how I’m going to address this issue.

What a tease, am I right? It is Timely Thursday after all! So leave some comments, tell me what your goals are for 2016, and how you are personally impacting the arts. I wanna hear what you have to say!

Until next time, I’m out of theories for now!

Tim!

Licensed To Steal (Artist As Collector)

I’ve been thinking about what I should write for today pretty much all of my waking hours this past week.

Sometimes I chew on a theory for months (anticipating the date to share it with you), other times the theory appears in a flash of light. And sometimes theories just work themselves out naturally in the moment and I kind of surprise myself with the results.

It’s a similar experience that many artists have when they create work. Nothing happens perfectly, but relying on moments of inspiration is incredibly draining and risky in terms of output. That is why it is so incredibly important to set up a routine and a space that works for the individual, so that bursts of creativity can happen naturally and “seemingly” spontaneously and the disciplined efforts can cover of those moments of creative silence.

It really is amazing that our unconscious minds are working in our favour though when you stop to think about it.

We organize information, experience, and our interests to produce something special, and if we do it correctly, we create a work of art which looks and feels unique, whatever the source of inspiration.

The reason why I’ve been thinking about this process today is because I have this theory that all good artists steal ideas (not an original idea either), but the best ones steal from everyone and everything in their lives. They do this because of an honest appreciation for life and an attachment for what already exists in the world.

To put it simply, every artist is a collector. On the surface it could appear that they store objects, but the reality is that they have enduring love for the object(s) which house much more than the literal contents we observe in passing.

This TED Talk by Austin Kleon details the point quite well.

Nothing is original. All art, from the bad to the great, references what came before it.

So why do critics sometimes comment as if we should operate in a vacuum? I’m not entirely sure. I think it is likely that nuanced truths are harder to swallow than obvious ones, if I am being perfectly honest. Which can be a full blown topic for another Stimulating Sunday.

But that is not what today is about.

Today is about the theory of artist as collector. And the inspiration for today’s post is from a very talented artist who I am sure you have heard of at one point or another, whether you like their work or not.

Here is a sample of my favourite song from the record.

Walking through a crowd
The village is aglow
Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats
Under coats
Everybody here wanted something more
Searching for a sound we hadn’t heard before
And it said

Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

It’s a new soundtrack I could dance to this beat, beat
Forevermore
The lights are so bright
But they never blind me, me
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

I’ve highlighted particular lines because I think they are especially relevant for the topic at hand.

This song is from the album 1989 by Taylor Swift. Yes, that’s right.

But that’s not what I was listening to on the drive home to Edmonton from my girlfriend’s parents home in Lacombe today. I was listening to Ryan Adam’s cover album, also titled 1989, with the exact same number of tracks, with almost identical lyrics, in the same song order.

Let’s break this thing down for a minute.

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Taylor Swift, who is incredibly talented, let Ryan Adams, who is also incredibly talented, “steal” her work and create his own version of it.

In fact, she gave her instant approval, when he asked. She is a genius.

If you think about it for a second, there have been reviews claiming he did a better version of her work, and that he made it more meaningful.

I call bullshit on that. But not for the reasons that lots of people are.

He was a vehicle that proved how powerful her lyrics really are to everyone, whether people choose to see it or not, is a completely different matter.

This is especially important to note for those who don’t listen to her music and pass if off for cookie cutter pop. Taylor Swift is an incredibly talented songwriter. Period.

And, she gracefully pointed that out with her title track, without being a jerk about it.  Let me illustrate – while we might all be “searching for a sound we hadn’t heard before,” 99% of the time, the sound already exists. It’s because someone loved it, and made art about it, that we can appreciate it the new art. 1989 by Ryan Adams is a great album, but it wouldn’t exist without 1989 by Taylor Swift, and Taylor’s is definitely the better album because she made something “original” without making it obvious what she “stole” from to get inspiration.

And she understands that sharing is caring.

My girlfriend, who is a super fan of Taylor Swift, realized this brilliance of TSwift years ago, I’m finally starting to see it myself. I hope that other creative types make that leap sooner than later, and I also hope that everything I just stole from makes this post worthwhile. And that’s all of the theories I’ve got for tonight.

What do you think? Leave comments!

Tim!

 

The Darkest Timeline (Black Friday)

Have I mentioned how much I like Black Friday shopping to you guys and gals yet? I don’t think I have, but that’s what today’s post is all about. A way for you to prepare yourself in anticipation of one of the most wonderful days of the retail year.

How timely of me, you say? Why thank you, dear readers!

First I’m going to start off with all the essential information YOU need about the biggest shopping day one of the biggest shopping days of the year, what day it is this year, and maybe I’ll share some resources you can use to get the best prices and survive the ordeal.

So what is Black Friday exactly? Well, it’s a 24 hour sales period which takes place the day after the [American] Thanksgiving holiday, which is the 4th Thursday of the November. This year Thanksgiving is November 26th, so Black Friday is November 27th.

It’s starting to gain steam internationally, but is especially popular in North America. And gained it’s name for two reasons

  1. It is a heavily disruptive day for both foot and car traffic, and over 50 years ago Philadelphia police
  2. Retailers typically have their “Superbowl of Retail” in the final quarter of the year, with the month of December being the highlight of the books being in the black

The reason why it is acknowledged as a 24 hour sales period is because some retailers start their sales day at midnight in anticipation of online sales or to get people into their brick and mortar stores ahead of the competition. Of course, you will also see “Black Friday starts early” sales, but for the most part, everyone sticks to the actual day when it comes to their best product offerings.

But that doesn’t mean the best online deals are available on the 27th.

Nope.

If you haven’t heard of Cyber Monday before, do a little reading and educate yourself.

And you really need to have a strategy for this shopping event. Which is why I’ve given you a short list of key words below to prepare you for the day.

  1. Decide – You need to decide what you need and go out with the intention of sticking to your list. And have a budget too. For example, if you are like me and are planning on acquiring more blu-rays for your collection or picking up some bath and body products, then set your spending limit before you go out.
  2. Research – You need to be careful. Because the reality is that some stores are going to advertise their weekly 2 for $20 or 3 for $15 deal, or worse, raise the prices on their inventory for a few weeks ahead of the event, and then drop the prices back down as if they are doing you a favour. If there is something you want, make sure you know how much it is worth before you go shopping.
  3. Efficiency – Don’t spend hours in one store. Have a route mapped out, get in, and then get out as quickly as you can. Sure, you might find a surprise deal at a store, but if you’ve hit your route properly you’ll be better prepared for it and you won’t waste time in line or lost in the crowds.
  4. Adapt – If you can’t find exactly what you are looking for, and you know that the item(s) are rare, then accept a compromise if you can. Unless you know you can wait for the product and find it at another store.
  5. Cool – Keep your cool. This can be an incredibly stressful exercise, but you have the ability to step back or to walk away. You won’t make good decisions if you are irritated and you’ll regret an outburst. Seriously, it won’t be worth it to lose your temper.
  6. Think – It can be a lot of fun to bargain hunt and find a deal, but remember stores have sales all the time, and a lot of the time it’s to clear out old inventory. So the hunt might not be worth it after all. It could be one of those activities that isn’t for you, in that case, stay away.

 

Why did I decide to share this guide with you dear readers?

As you know, timotheories now provides weekly film and album reviews, and while I have been buying these items at full price to share new releases, I am a bigger fan of buying items on sale. My rationale for this is that I get to experience more movies and more music by paying less for the items. My collections are fairly sizeable at this stage as a result, and whenever I want to reference something, I own the copy and have a bit more liberty in using it to make art. I also like to use these items for my social content – who does n’t like movies or music, right?

And those are my theories on Black Friday. But what do you think dear readers? Are you going to be Black Friday shopping? What are your plans for the day?

Tim!