Always outnumbered. Generally overdresssed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas with Mr. Creosote

I went into HMV in the Westfield yesterday night.

Britain's last entertainment retail chain is apparently on the rocks. It's interesting to watch because businesses of this size seem to go through a period just before they die where they become grotesquely inflated versions of themselves. Like stars, or Elvis.

So HMV now looks the way that it might if it had been laid out based on a description of HMV given over the phone by someone really out of their mind on cocaine.

Just shitloads of CDs and DVDs and shit everywhere, piles of the fucking things all up the counter in sort of like drifts. An loads of people an babies crying an vomiting.
Look neither to left, nor to the right

The queue to pay is corralled into an S-shaped rat-run lined with consumer sweeties like burnable DVDs, copies of Up In the Air and the new Take That documentary, and rubber earbud ends.
The counter is constructed entirely from Inception DVDs.

Inception is the perfect supermodern film, confusing and larded with special effects so that every one that saw it in the cinema felt like they could maybe do with watching it again. No one really needs to see Inception again, you won't learn anything from it, and the film's internal logic loops pointlessly back onto itself to deliberately confound sensible interpretation. It's not profound, it's just facetious. Like that joke 'what would you rather be or a wasp?' but told to you and then explained in arcane detail by a frowning Leonardo DiCaprio.

If you manage to get out without a copy of Inception you have won.

This retail experience, which is the kind of 'things you might like' cross-selling you get on the internet but made physical could be applied to all kinds of funnelled crowd. So if you forced all the people getting on the tube to walk through a tunnel filled with products some of them would definitely take something even if they weren't 'shopping'. The fact of the thing's merely being available is advertisement enough. All we need to do is streamline the process of paying for things so that as soon as you pick something up, you have already paid for it.

The idea of ' shopping' is sort of old fashioned anyway. We're always shopping, even when we're at work.

Ten years ago we might have said that the Internet was like a big department store, in fact what's happening is that big spaces like the Westfield are becoming a sort of physical version of the internet  'events' and curiosities with shops in between.

PS: I've been blogging about 2 years now. That's weird isn't it? Check out this post from 2008,when I thought the world was about to end.

PPS: Tits and Bums Magazine have posted my Will Self piece in full. I still have the transcript of that interview, which I might put on here next year, if you're lucky.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fakin' Bacon

This is like the Jack Black reality nexus but done with a bit more style and a better script. It won't be long before we do away entirely with the concept of 'characters' in films (ie actors playing other people) and all screenplays will be written around the behaviour of celebrities. So Pirates of the Caribbean would be a film about Johny Depp playing a pirate in the film called Pirates of the Caribbean.

In fact, here's a mediocre article about the very same phenomenon.

Black Ops

I spent the weekend playing Black Ops in the shadow of my 8ft Christmas tree. You know you have a problem when you start leaving parties early, claiming you have a self-help group first thing, in the certain knowledge that you're really going home to kill Swedish children (online right, Jeez, Thames Valley Police).

If anyone wants to form advertising clan, my callsign is NotVoodoo.

That's a great little video isn't it?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Inconvenience: the new convenience

I just bought an ancient iMac so that I can write in the mornings without web drift. It has no internet connection, and makes weird clicking and whirring sounds as the hard disk drive spins. I think there may really be cogs in there.

The iMac runs OS9, but to run the edition of Word I like I need at least OS10. In order to update to OS10 you have to update the firmware, in order to update the firmware, you have to update the OS to 9.1. And to find any of this out, you need to spend a great deal of time searching arcane retro Mac forums. Which you can't do on an iMac which is not plugged into the internet.

Yes, but it was fascinating right. Not just because I'm likely to find any procrastination ritual around writing wholly absorbing. It was like a problem solving treasure hunt.

Also ...

This agency is on an eco kick at the moment, and they've installed these kettles. If you consider a kettle as a labour saving device, these are shit kettles, in that they make it harder to boil a cup of tea. They have two chambers, so you have to fill one chamber, and then pump the water into the other chamber to boil it. The mechanism forces you to actively choose how much water you're boiling. They also sometimes squirt boiling water out of the spout when turned upright, which I think is just an unintentional piece of design, rather than a ploy to put you off the whole idea of drinks served at boiling point.

Also ...

Video games too, have this same balance of toughness and easiness. Part of their appeal is to allow you to achieve virtual mastery of very hard things on a much more forgiving learning curve than in reality. Think the scene in the Matrix where Keanu Reeves masters kung fu in 5 minutes. Or Guitar Hero. They are designed to be just hard enough that you keep playing, but not so easy that they're no fun. Essentially they're designed for difficulty. Overcoming the difficulty induces satisfaction.

Design used to be about making our lives easier. But now our lives are easier I reckon DESIGN IS ALL ABOUT THE PROPER ACTING OUT OF OUR FUCKING NEUROSES.

Right, I'm now going to get dressed up as Victorian dandy and go the office Christmas party.