Angry Robot

While You Were Getting Worked Up Over Oil Prices, This Just Happened to Solar

Do Aliens Know It’s Christmas?

The New York Review of Video Games

Presented by Matter presented by Medium. I will get over my inchoate dislike and/or distrust of Medium long enough to grudgingly admit there is some good writing here.

Project Goliath: Inside Hollywood's secret war against Google

This will prove popular!

Another nutso Adult Swim infomercial thing

Paris mayor announces plans for a car-free city centre, plus €100m for bike lanes

60% of Parisians go car-free, up from 40% in 2011

An Auto-Oriented Manhattan

If there was no public transit, Manhattan would require 48 bridges and “in total a very conservative estimate for the amount of parking required is 2 layers underneath all of Manhattan”

If Popular Movies Were Named by Buzzfeed

“This Man Will Restore Your Faith in Human Centipedes”

National Shitty Novel Month is Over

Yup, that’s why I didn’t post here much. I suppose I could have warned you ahead of time, but that would have taken planning and foresight! Which I had just enough of for the novel, and nothing in surplus for the blog.

I had tried this once before, years ago. I didn’t have much of a plan back then – only the vaguest idea of what I would be writing. It didn’t work out very well. Failing at something big like writing a novel makes you think you’re not cut out for it.

Luckily, I forgot that thought. And wonderfully, completing a novel – even a shitty, nonsensical, and in-need-of-years-of-revision novel – makes you feel like a complete writing boss. Like, a complete champion. Like, you guys should probably fear and respect me. And call me Lord Wordgunnz from now on.

Anyway, here are some thoughts about what to expect if you have thought about trying NaNoWriMo, but haven’t yet.

  1. First off, have an outline. Maybe not for the whole book, but the more detail the better. You just want to have thought through certain issues first and not be doing them as you put words on the page. You absolutely do not want to change your mind about the direction of your book and need to rewrite something, because THERE IS NO REWRITING when you have to do 50,000 words in a month. There is no going back.

  2. How hard is it? It’s 1,667 words a day that you have to do. That’s about six or seven pages, depending on what kind of page you’re imagining. It sounds like a lot but it’s doable. I found it to be about two hours of work a day. I actually thought I’d get a lot done at work (ssshh), but that wasn’t the case. If I was lucky I’d get 500, which you can do over lunch, and the rest I’d do once the kid was in bed. I’d get a bit behind some days and then catch up on the weekend, because my wife was very supportive.

  3. Get ahead in the beginning. Go for it, hit the ground running, do Future You a favour. Future You will thank you. Bring your daily word total down to a cool 1,400 words a day, or less if you can.

  4. You don’t want to miss a day. You probably will (I did), but it sucks, because it means you have to do 3,000 the next day to get back on track – and that’s a lot of words. Even if you’re hung over, had 1 hour sleep and have meetings all day, you’re better off getting 400 words in on your phone on the subway than getting nothing at all.

  5. The muse is fickle, my friends. Some days you sit down and barf out 2500 words as quick as… barf from a sick person’s barf hole (sorry, used up all my similes on the novel). Other days, you are pulling words out like teeth and you check your watch and it’s been two hours and you have 78 words (true story). You can’t plan around that, you can just allot a certain amount of time, and spend more or less depending on the fancies of the muse. But I did find, if you had a lot to get through (aka it’s the weekend), it’s better to do shorter spells followed by substantial breaks rather than thinking you can churn out words in a solid eight-hour block like you’re working the night shift at the Hemingway factory. Short controlled bursts, like they say about machine guns.

  6. It should be obvious, but it’s important to not have any illusions about the quality of your writing. Your goal is not to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in a month, it’s to write 50,000 words. Most of these words will be shitty. Your novel will be shitty. That is just what you get. But the proverbial Shitty First Draft is a hell of a lot better than no draft. Don’t judge it, laugh it off and keep moving.

Final thought: the advice above is applicable to a lot more than novels, isn’t it? So whether you want to record a shitty album really quickly, or build a shoddy, unsafe house in record-breaking time, you know where to turn for hot tips!

Chris Rock on Ferguson, Cosby, and Obama

He is just so quotable in this.

There’s tons more.

Eric Wareheim on his insane new Mr. Oizo video and passing on “Turn Down For What”

With a bunch of his old videos linked up.

How The Magic Happens

“Once you get to a certain level… you can no longer depend on your “raw talent”. You have to admit to yourself that you want power if your goal is to rise in an organization.”

Jessy Lanza / Caribou, Live Nov 24 2014

Jessy Lanza looks like she is fourteen. She is slight, short and wearing a short skirt, with a mane of long wavy hair. She is dwarfed by the massive synth in front of her. She nods her head quickly, stoops to tweak the synth or the computer, and then lifts up the mic.

I recall someone’s review of Lanza’s album in which they say her slow jams work well, but the fast songs are duds. The opposite is the case tonight. Unfortunately, she has many more slow jams than fast; her relative immobility makes the slow tempo less effective at getting the crowd into it. But the fast ones really kick. I had actually rated the song “Fuck Diamond” two stars in iTunes, and I make a mental note to raise that to at least three. I make a second mental note that I could dance around with my daughter to this song, provided I tell her that Lanza is singing “fun dad”, not “fuck diamond”.

Lanza’s voice is amazing though; sweet and misty. Her production and palpable love of vintage synths are also great. Plus, did I mention she’s from Hamilton? How awesome is that?

Rating: three stars, would see again.

Lanza has been touring with Caribou for a month or two. It strikes me as Caribou begin playing: if Dan Snaith gave her such an opportunity, he should have gone all the way and given her access to his light show.

An aside about LED lighting. I had been looking into smart bulbs for a pair of lights we have in our living room and have been impressed by the capabilities of these little LED bulbs. Much more light from less power, dimmable, adjustable colour temperature, and controllable from a smartphone app. Sounds like fun! And when we were doing a colour correction session earlier that day, I was speaking to our director of photography about LED lights on film shoots. Big lights on film sets often require big power sources, so you might need a generator or a genny truck, which is massive and expensive. Plus, you have to worry about different colour temperatures; mixing light types can lead to nightmares of different shades of colour that you try vainly to get out in the colour correct. Sure enough, they are starting to use LED lights to great effect.

So when Caribou comes on, and suddenly there is a blasting throbbing temple of light in the air, made out of smoke, supported by pillars of photons, sweeping one way and the next, changing colour, timed to the music, silhouetting the band – I think, yes! LED lights. LET’S DO THIS!

Visually it looks a lot like an iTunes visualizer, except far more badass. (Far badasser, far badderass, far worseass?) Come to think of it, the silhouetted-band look is also reminiscent of mid-2000s iTunes ads. But again, badder-ass.

Dan Snaith himself looks a lot more like a tech mogul than a rock star: balding, white jeans, tight shirt. He could sing developers developers so softly into that mic instead of sun sun sun. He had Lanza back on stage to do the song “Second Chance”, which I have played 22 times in iTunes (make that 23 now, damn), and afterwards the stage lights came up a bit for him to thank her, as this was the last date on the tour and could be the last time they do that song together. We said to each other, “he’s so nice!” He used to be a math professor, and he probably was a very good professor – the sort of professor you could talk to about your problems.

So imagine, then, Mr Rogers popping a couple pills, firing up the smoke machines and the light beams, and taking you on a swirling light-tunnel journey of sound into the deepest corners of your soul. Musically this is some next level shit. Caribou sits somewhere at the intersection of rock, dance and singer-songwriter music. He’s playing with a guitarist, bassist and drummer. He’s singing in his wispy, meek falsetto songs of love. And underneath he is marshalling a tsunami of sound, all the thundering sonics that modern electro-acoustic science can bring to bear upon affairs of the heart.

He is master above all of the rise and fall. Mostly rise, not much fall. Songs start quietly and mount until you think they can’t mount any further and then they mount further and further. It’s present on the album from the first song on, but it’s all the more present live, where he – I should say they, it does seem like his fellow white-outfitted silhouette people have a say in the ups and downs of the songs – where they turn an arpeggio loop that lasts maybe four bars on the album version of “Sun” into a four-minute escalating odyssey. And those damn LED lights and smoke machine make you think you are a giant space robot from the future finally connecting to the Motherdome through your Lightcord.

Or maybe that’s just the drugs talking.

Rating: 10 to the power of 26 Lightcords

Darren Wilson was never going to be indicted for killing Michael Brown: Our courts don’t hold police accountable for using deadly force.

“Unfortunately, we don’t live in a society that gives dignity and respect to people like Michael Brown and John Crawford and Rekia Boyd. Instead, we’ve organized our country to deny it wherever possible, through negative stereotypes of criminality, through segregation and neglect, and through the spectacle we see in Ferguson and the greater St. Louis area, where police are empowered to terrorize without consequence, and residents are condemned and attacked when they try to resist.”

Former Jilly’s strip club site to become boutique hotel

Miles and Bill in Black & White

On the musically rich and racially rocky relationship between Miles Davis and Bill Evans

Meet Shingy, AOL’s “Digital Prophet”


Child poverty a better target for family relief

“Let’s imagine you’re a prime minister with $4.6 billion to spend. Do you:


Jian Ghomeshi allegations: I wasn’t surprised to hear them. Does that make me complicit in the alleged abuse?

Carl Wilson struggles with his complicity in the 2nd person. Also see this criticism of his piece, and Carl’s rationale.

How Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal became cities split by class

Richard Florida. Wow, the “Creative Class” doesn’t seem so nice now, does it?

If you can think of a better way to fill unsold infomercial inventory, I’d like to hear it.

Ford Nation was faltering well before the crack scandal

It was the talk of service cuts to libraries, day care etc.

Twelve visions of post-apocalyptic Toronto