Giant Robot Store and GR2 News

The world is in mourning. The passing of Apple founder Steve Jobs is truly a tragedy on a personal level; yet, I can’t help but reflect what his life’s work represented on the international stage. “Innovative” is the recurrent description attached to Jobs by various news networks. However, if he were known for just that trait alone, then he wouldn’t have superseded America’s creative reputation. America is the land where technical innovators are born. Whether it’s Henry Ford, Thomas Eddison, or even Bill Gates, that’s what America is known for. It’s what made companies like Apple the envy of nations across the globe and continued to persist after the current Great Recession. In a Giant Robot interview with Shuji Iwai, the dirctor remarked over Japan’s economic and creative slump. He idly commented how few products turn the world the way Apple does. Even executives and employees of Sony boldly strove to compete with Apple’s products during Jobs’s renewed tenure. CEO of Chinese computer company Lenovo, Yang Yuanqing, voiced similar sentiments at the news of Jobs’s demise Creations aside, Jobs’s most recent achievement was a simple one. He preened and maintained America’s stature as innovators of tomorrow. Whether or not this belief of American exceptional is a myth or reality doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that people both abroad is what counts. Steve Jobs has died, but one can only hope that he didn’t take this perception to the grave.
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Homeboy is Cray Cray. “What the hell is goin’ on?” you might ask…  I’m not quite sure- but he and his family were feeding the raccoons. After a long first day of getting into Montreal, my hosts Li Li and Jeff took me up to Mount Royal to check out the view.  We drove up, saw the beautiful lights of the city- but it was upstaged by the most random scene…  a family- two parents and a little girl, about 7 or 8? feeding a horde of Freakishly Large  Raccoons.  I was fearing that something really bad was about to happen, but fortunately it- never escalated… even when the mom was kicking some of the bigger raccoons out of the way so the babies could eat. If you watch the video- you’ll see there’s like 30+ of ‘em swarming/begging for food like dogs.  Strangely, they were really gentle and seemed almost domesticated…very at ease around humans.  Maybe because they’re Canadian?  All the American Raccoons I’ve encountered are mean and aggressive. [youtube]NVmKmLDTo60[/youtube]
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I went to Montreal for the first time last weekend for a screening of Surrogate Valentine and a small coffeehouse gig at the Pop Montreal festival.  The five day music/film festival sprawled across 58 venues with about 450 artists, including big names like  Arcade Fire, Stephen Malkmus, and Kid Koala. I flew in from New York, which was merely a 52 minute flight… pretty painless other than waiting through customs lines and lack of sleep after a whiskey party at my host’s abode before the 4am trip to the airport… but that is a tale for another time.

Let’s talk about Poutine.  Say it with me:  Cheese Curds, Gravy, Fries.

I was in Montreal for three days, and somehow I ended up eating it every day.  I tried not to, but it just sorta happened.  How I managed to survive, I don’t know.

Poutine #1:

My hosts in Montreal picked me up from the airport, and after a croissant and a 2 hour nap, took me out to get lunch. We sat down at this Poutine place called Banquis, and I thought we’d share a plate, but it was every man for himself.  Believe it or not, this is the smallest sized order.  I struggled to eat half of it.  You can’t really see the cheese curds, but they are there.  Chillin’…under the gravy…and fries… and onions… and mushrooms, bacon, peppers, and more fries and gravy.  This thing weighed as much as a child.  Homeboy across from me ate his whole plate- it was the same size sans fixin’s.


I’ve had it before, about 6 years ago in Toronto, but according to my hosts it’s not the same there.  Montreal-eans get all protective about their poutine.  To be honest, I forgot what it tasted like- but I felt like these cheese curds were more firm and chewy.  It was pretty good, but the portion and thought of eating that much alone kind of turned me off.  That’s a lot of heart attack right there.  I vowed not to eat any more cheese on this trip.

In the middle of eating this, I got a call from Kid Koala, who Eric Nakamura put me in touch with since he’s based in Montreal.  He was amused, and perhaps slightly worried that I was eating Poutine so early in the day.

“that stuff’s for late night, after drinking…”

He invited us to come by his studio, which was a mindblowing experience, but I’ll save that for another post.

Kid Koala in his natural habitat.

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There’s a long list of things that you should never call your lover. A slut is one. A racialized equivalent is another. For people that don’t know, a Yellow Cab is a stereotype ascribed to Asian or Japanese women by Western (White) men. It suggests that they’re sexually available and actively seek foreigners out of dissatisfaction with their local men. The direct meaning of the term implies that they can be “ridden anytime” and for a price just like a cab. Common sense dictates that it would be a very bad and very stupid idea for a boyfriend to call their ethnically sensitive girlfriend that. Mark, up there, didn’t read the memo. The moral of the story? Don’t date a girl because you’re desperately lonely and believe a certain stereotype. In turn, it’s an equally dumb idea for a girl to date someone of a particular nationality because they ascribe a lower degree of chauvinism and misogyny to their boyfriend’s birth place. And lastly, don’t publish your drama for the entire world to read. Facebook is growing lame enough as it is.
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I was hanging out by the JANM about a month ago and was approached/suckered into “auditioning” for a Vonage commercial by a lady with a clipboard. She said there could be some money involved. I had just come from a bar after a few beers and figured “why not?” She explained the premise of the commercial to me: A conversation between a Japanese musician calling his friend in Japan from his tour bus, explaining how great Vonage international calling is. She had me read some lines from a script: “Hey, How’s Tokyo?” “Just kicking’ it on the tour bus” “I’m still using Vonage, but now I can call you from my cell phone with my International Rock Star Plan!” “Yeah, you hear that? Just some groupies…” “Yup, loving’ it. Every night. Bright lights, Big City!” The lady seemed nice at first, but the more I read, the more annoying she got. I have to admit, any enthusiasm I had dissipated after reading it the first time, but she got more and more aggressive and bossy each time. She somehow got me to read it about 5-6 times, recording each take. I was trying to be a good sport about it, until I saw the top of the page: “to be read in an accent” I stopped her and said “Woah. Accent? Sorry, this is a deal breaker. I’m wasting both of our time if I have to do some horrible accent in the actual commercial.” She apologized, and said that she understood. My friend, who had been watching from afar and heard the whole thing go down recently sent me a link. “Hey, remember that annoying Vonage lady and the commercial?” [youtube]60ceHuueMUw[/youtube] I have a lot of thoughts about this commercial, you can probably guess them. The whole thing reminded me of the hilarious movie, “Hollywood Shuffle” by Robert Townsend. It came out in 1987 and blew my mind as a kid… and with that, I’ll leave you with this clip: [youtube]xKX4LktBI5o[/youtube]
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