So Irritating

Finished watching season 3 of Mad Men on the train this morning. I was very satisfied with the finale & really the whole season.

The big disappointment - Sally lived. She is SO freaking annoying and I don't know why they (television folk) insist on having a significant part of any good tv show's plot revolve around the whiny little kids. Maybe it's because all talented writers had bad childhoods and they are taking the opportunity to project all of their pent-up angst through some talentless 12 year old. I thought that all the build up was because Don Draper was going to lose it on the kid in the finale. Spoiler alert: it doesn't happen.

The other irritating thing: all the fucked up relationships. Donald & Betty is one thing, but it just seems that every relationship is getting more and more complicated in that show. It's been way overplayed. I want to see more of the dynamics of the advertising industry and less of the common advertiser's marriage in the 60's.

First Dexter, now Mad Men. Fuckers.

Wet in Sevilla

I made it to Seville after missing the first train, and as soon as I stepped out of the station it started pouring. I stopped by the cathedral and walked around town for a bit, but really only managed to get soaking wet. With almost everything closed due to siesta, I'm back at the hotel drying off. Although, after reading about the snow storm that hit the east coast, I'm glad I'm not in NYC right now.

I got a great place to stay tonight and am hoping that it is drier tomorrow so I can go check out the sights. I noticed that there are a lot more tourists here, which actually might be a good thing. I'm hoping to find a good place to go to tonight, but in the meantime I'm cooped up in my hotel room - bored and wishing I brought another pair of pants.

On the Morocco front - my friend, David, mentioned that he knows someone that owns a Hummer and is looking to do a drive through Morocco and the Sahara. It sounds interesting, so I'm considering it and hoping that I'll hear some news about it when I get back to Malaga. Could be fun.

Seeing clearly today.

Keeping up the momentum from yesterday and it looks like some big decisions shall be made today.

First up is travel schedule. Over the next 2 weeks it will be Seville, Marrakech, Essiouara, and Fes. Barcelona in March. Gibralter in between.

Maybe my most productive day since I left...

New projects rolling this week for both Game Plan and 3.9 Marketing (Calgary Film Fest) and starting to put some thought in to what I need to get out of SXSW. It's nice to put some energy in to something productive & sustain it through a good 10-11 hours. I'm glad I got those naps out of the way yesterday and all that thinking in Granada has been paying off too.

It seems like a lot of this trip has been waiting for things to fall in to place and a couple finally did. Huzzah!

It's Crap Weather Everywhere

I'm trying to figure out where to go next, and would like to go somewhere by the end of this week. The problem is that almost everywhere on my high-priority list is experiencing shitty weather. I don't have a ton of time left here but couple of things have occurred to me over the past couple of days: (1) I need a few days at 'home' to get some work done, while momentum is rolling; (2) I don't have time for everything and maybe some things I'd rather do with a friend on a return trip; (3) having a bit of money for my return to the US would be nice. However, the time is now to book things and get a bit of schedule for my last few weeks in Europe.

So my list is below. Any suggestions on places to go would be lovely...

High Priority:
  • Barcelona
  • Sevilla
  • Marrakesh + Essaouira
  • Fes

Medium Priority:

  • Madrid
  • Cadiz (the Carnivale going on there right now is supposed to be top-notch)
  • Cordoba
  • Gibralter
  • Sahara Desert
  • Venice
  • Rome
  • Berlin (Berlinale is happening next week)
  • Lisbon
  • London
  • Cairo, Egypt
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia

iTunes on Random

I give my brother in law a hard time for liking ABBA, but I have more than a few songs that I love that people would give me a hard time about (doesn't everyone?). One of those songs is Steal My Sunshine by Len. It reminds me of one of the best summers of my life (1999). It was definitely overplayed and almost everyone I knew got sick of it by that autumn, but for me it seemed to be a reminder that everything was going well. It took nearly ten years (2009) until I got that feeling again & hope I don't have to wait another decade before it comes around again. In any case, I'm glad that iTunes decided to shuffle that one in there for me today. Muchos gracias!

(the song also reminded me of butter tarts - which I love)

Considering another festival

I'm adding speakers, films and bands to "My Schedule" on SXSW's website. I'm starting to get in to a good work mode and the exercise is partially to prepare for the interactive portion of the festival, but mostly it is helping me with the IA work I am starting for the 2010 Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF). On that note, there are a lot of things that I think that SXSW can improve on in their user experience. Much of their site is fragmented, with no real consistency between the film, interactive and music portions of the site - and it is really unclear as to how a newcomer should approach the festival.

Usability for "logged in" users (essentially: customers) was one of the biggest complaints for CIFF last year. This was something we recognized going in to the festival, and was something we couldn't help with limited resources. With that said, it is going to be a major focus for this year's festival, and we are already underway with our first component for the 2010 festival. This is by far the earliest we have ever started work on the film festival and we're hoping to make major strides this year! There are some great lessons to be learned for interacting with the SXSW site, and I'm sure I will learn even more at the event itself.

Now... with that out of the way, I can say that adding some of the bands to my schedule has really whet my appetite for more live music. In a quick first pass I've added the following:

Andrew W.K., The Antlers, Asylum Street Spankers, Attack! Attack!, Band of Skulls, Barcelona, Bear In Heaven, The Beatards, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Bowerbirds, Billy Bragg, Brasstronaut, Broken Social Scene, Caspian, Computer Club, Deer Tick, Dirty Little Rabbits, Drive-By Truckers, The Drums, Gay Witch Abortion, Geeks, Hole, Holy Fuck, Hot Panda, Japandroids, jj, Kittens Ablaze, Corb Lund, Neon Trees, Oh No Ono, The Raveonettes, The Rural Alberta Advantage, She & Him, Spoon, Stars of Track and Field, Surfer Blood, Ten Bears, This Will Destroy You, Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger!, The Uglysuit, We Are Scientists, Woodhands

It's a pretty decent list, I think. It features a couple of bands I've seen (BSS, The Drums, Corb Lund, Surfer Blood), some AB connections (Woodhands, RAA, Corb Lund), some favs (BRMC, Bowerbirds, Spoon, She & Him, AWK, Band of Skulls), and some new bands I wanted to see in NY but missed out on (Antlers, Uglysuit, Oh No Ono, Bear in Heaven).

With that said, I've had my eye on Coachella ever since its lineup was released. I REALLY want to go, and it kind of fits in to my schedule. I should be ending my stay in San Fran by that time and on my way back to NY. The tickets are still on early-bird pricing and the lineup is UNREAL!! However, this is something that I don't want to hit alone. I've mentioned it to a couple of people and there is still some decision making going on. I'm wondering if I should just get a pair of passes now and sell them if I can't find someone(s) to go with me.

This trip has taught me that there are things that are way better to experience when you're on your own (as a matter of perspective, reflection or not having to compromise). And then there are things that would be way better if you had someone to share it with. Coachella would definitely fit in to the latter.

I've also been thinking about Sasquatch (May) or Bonaroo (June), but those will both be happening when I'm back in Calgary, so are less likely to happen. Maybe Sasquatch because it's within driving distance.

Discovered a new cartoonist

When I was growing up my favorite comic was Far Side, followed by Calvin & Hobbes, Bloom County/Outland, and Fox Trot (in that order). All of them had the perfect blend of awkward social situations, nerdiness, and (with the exception of Fox Trot) complex questions made digestible by self-aware animals.

Not that I read a ton of comics, but those are still my all-time favorites... and aside from some funny stuff like xkcd and Bob the Angry Flower, I haven't really found anything that could rise to that level. Garfield minus Garfield definitely fits, but aside from the concept (which really is the funny part of the whole series), it is hardly an original piece of work.

A trending topic in Reddit this morning was the question of how many people under 30 knew (and loved) Far Side. That in itself is an interesting question. Comics which pre-dated my childhood, such as Archie and Peanuts, were still around when I was growing up - but those are comics that I still see in reprint today, unlike Far Side and Calvin & Hobbes (which I'm more likely to see resurrected in a powerpoint presentation).

Anyways, discussed in the Reddit thread was one of Gary Larsen's contemporaries & influences - B. Kliban, who was a cartoonist for Playboy and created the Cats cartoon which were on all the Hawaiian Crazy Shirts back in the day. Apparently Kliban invented the 1 panel comic which people like Gary Larsen and Jim Unger (Herman) made famous.

I looked up some of Kliban's shit - pretty impressive. I'm going to stick it in my humor section.