Sunday, 7 December 2014

Put Your Hand In A Passing Wave ; New film soundtrack on cassette, Consumerism & Lego used to recreate movie scenes

From the age of 12 to about my late 20's, I used to regularly buy a brand of cassette tape for backups of my vinyl albums and cd's. This was done to facilitate playback on my various walkman's, and then later for the stereo cassette player in whichever car I had at the time.

There was a weird sort of payoff when you did this, as in your mind you knew you were degrading the quality of the signal but got a level of portability that neither vinyl nor cd could give you; car cd autochangers had a few more years to arrive yet. Of course by 2001, that became a thing of the past as mp3's and the variety of  digital music codecs became widespread within a few years.

However, there's always room for a (sort of) revival :-

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack will be released on cassette tape

Best get those walkman's and cassette/ radio players at the ready for this. From a technical perspective, I'm curious as to what type of tape they've used. I wonder if it's Chrome, Metal Oxide or..? 

Buying into a dream or the premise of a better existence, is a part of our lives en masse. We all look to see what we can get out of our existing array of clothes, shoes, gadgets and so on. More importantly, we're all wanting and needing things that we don't always have time to use.

I used to see friends of mine just buy up the latest gadgets and designer jackets and jeans all the time, then hardly every use them; they'd even leave the price tags/tickets on the apparel, as they loitered in their wardrobes, for months on end. I'd laugh at this, until I realised I'd started to do this myself. Then I knew it was time to start scaling back and I also went on a 'get rid of it' spree, which entails selling on ebay and giving things away to charity shops.

Consumerism is the name given to the constant need to buy, spend and amass more of everything :-

Thought-Provoking Video Explains How Consumerism Has Taken Over Our Lives

A sobering and thought provoking issue here, is that there are record levels of debt in the UK due to our penchant for 'the latest, the shiniest and the sleekest'. Exact figures vary, but the proliferation of 'fast loan' companies in the last few years is the greatest indicator of spending gone out of control. Some of the quoted APR rates by these firms, are close to 2000%.  That's both extraordinary and shocking.

It's easy to lay the blame for increased costs of living on the escalating prices of fuel and food, but that's an incomplete picture when looked at it more logically. Technology and marketing have both come a long way in the last 15 years, and they're almost bedfellows in how they're harnessing each other, in order to reach wider audiences.

Furthermore, the internet is faster than ever and continues to grow in speed and reliability across all manner of devices. This means more opportunities to 'push market' and 'direct sell' even whilst you're about to send that text, email or phone call on your smartphone. The obvious solution would be to switch all advertising off on your browser and phone applications, but it's not as readily available as a drop down menu option.

The other solution, is to use paid versions of applications for an ad free experience and also to switch out the advertising options each time you see them, if they're an unwelcome distraction. Ultimately, the decision is a personal one as to wether you are or can be affected by all this to the level that you just have to buy whatever it is you see, due to the visual bombardment of the item via an ad campaign. Exercising self- restraint and selectivity can do a lot for your bank balance and credit score in the long run. That's something my parents' generation were far better at doing than a lot of us currently are.

My father certainly wasn't a fan of being in debt for too long, and he still remains that way to this day. As he still iterates, survival and building a nest were the most  important for him back then. Coming from a foreign country with hardly anything in his pocket and just a lot of love and well-wishes from friends and family, he knew no one would bail him out if he'd fiscally fallen into a hole. Furthermore, the lack of easily available goods/services on instant credit terms, are what saved them from the currently mentioned cycles (and traps) of deep debt.

In essence, there's a lot to be said for drive, determination and prudence. Buying something that feels like it's more of a treat, rather than regularly being 'in the red' to satiate a momentary feeling, has more of a longer term satisfactory feeling built into the experience in my opinion.

Something that we don't see too much of these days, is children beyond a certain age playing with lego. I had a set when I was 6 years old, and it was my pride and joy until I was about 9 or 10. Then electronic games took over, which lead to my interest in computing and technology. Yet the days of lego are still fondest and warmest in my childhood memories :-

An Adorable Stop-Motion LEGO Animation Featuring 13 Recreated Movie Scenes

It's refreshing to see the level of work that has gone into this, and it reminds me of the local library play areas which are stocked up with lego bricks. Kids love lego, and rightly so. It's one of the best hand/eye coordination toy sets available in my opinion, and also encourages them to use their imagination to the fullest. I can remember it being more of a boy's toy experience in retrospect, but times have changed and there is a more fuller range of add-on bits and packages etc, which may be more appealing to both sexes.

It's fascinating to see how even though time has marched onwards, the pace of life seems quicker by comparison. Wether that's due to the full on effect of  the 'infotainment age' as I like to call it, with our perpetual need to be connected to the internet in some way or just a feeling that everything is running faster overall, is debatable. It just seems that more things are happening all of the time, whereas even a decade ago, 'stuff' was going on, but there wasn't such a constant buzz of activity en masse.

Looked at from a macro perspective, the internet and our connectivity to it is responsible to some extent. We're always communicating or on the verge of communicating. It's as if by not saying something, we'll be missing out. That needs to be worked on, and in the same way that it's good to go back to what happened before, with a view to being inspired by retrospect, it's also as good, if not greater, to stop and just smell the roses now and then. Cassette tapes needed to be wound forward and backward, which takes up time. And lego still takes a handful of minutes to set up, before you can be building and creating something with it.

In effect, you wouldn't have any way of filling that time, other than with silence. Unless of course, the t.v. or radio were on as a background accompaniment.  It was mostly a quiet period of construction, contemplation and innovation. That's when you'd get things done. And it'd be the same with board games, or getting a sketch or notepad out. You wouldn't have any distractions or more specifically, you wouldn't allow yourself to be distracted. Even if others were in the room, it'd be an unobtrusive ambience at best.

That's pretty close to how I still get more things done to this day. Once the noise levels are reduced to soft background musing or even silence, it's remarkable how much the mind just zones in to concentrate. Even if it's just for an hour, you can just forge ahead in some strange cosmic 'flow'.

It's almost like being in a meditative yet highly productive state. And that's the best place to be for any kind of work.

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