From the Sky Down

From the Sky Down is no starmaker machinery, but the naked intelligence of four North Dubliners who earned billions and altered world events because they decided reinvention must keep happening. The construction of the song, One, is depicted over 12 concurrent minutes from a failed bridge in Mysterious Ways. The unadorned lead singer told TIFF, "No one wants to see how they make sausages," and it's perhaps untrue in this case because the audience understands that, at TIFF, stardom is identical to prices at Wal Mart and odour at KFC; it is a metal-desk trade show of film editors and screenwriters and other ugly, methodical, and disciplined people who shake like a wet dog when pixie dust is applied. He, the lead singer, said that Sid Viscious and all the others were products of art school. I don't know if I understand what that means -- Paul Hewson and company are products of places like Cedarwood Park, Ballymun. I spent my third birthday on that street. U2 was not art at all, but the musical version of Lance Armstrong's annual cycle of test mountains.

For some reason, Brian Mulroney worked the room.


An ode to Mr. Lonely

A blonde, bushy ponytail pulls his mop straight, revealing a pale forehead – a billboard endorsement for white-bread. His round glasses belong on the nose of a pre-Confederation country doctor. His hillbilly sideburns do not.

His name is Mr. Lonely and he plays a tinny piano for northern Ontario's most accomplished glam rock-star – an organist in a canuck-cabaret.

When he plays, it is as two parts.

His head is all-stoic. Far from the bawdy majesty centre stage, it sways and nods softly, channelling the two-dimensional spirit of Schroeder. But his concentration is no cartoon; his eardrums, his eyes, his throat – all go together as though joined with copper.

That part of him is as spiritually solid as a maple; as a tree whose crooked twigs skip and quiver with every rising wind.

Ten crooked twigs: tapping and sliding, stabbing and soaring. Their little frenzy powers the outward spectacle.

And then, when the encores are over and the bathrooms get busy, Mr. Lonely is often found near the door, fingers, hands, head, hair – all hopelessly lost amongst the glittery groupies.

-- Mr. Lonely, aka, Todd Lumley, is a Canadian pianist best known for his work with Hawksley Workman. In December 2001, I passed him on a street in Paris, but did not introduce myself. I wrote this in 2006.

Why haven't digital watches kept up with digital computers?

My 2009 Timex Ironman watch has two features that my 1988 version did not: an "Indiglo" back-light and something called an "occasion" tracker. What it does not have is a music player, Bluetooth/wifi/USB, a high resolution display, memory or apps. The price was about the same.

Over the same period, portable music advanced from the cassette-playing Walkman to the iPod Nano. I appreciate that one company might stick with its strong brand, but how can no competitor emerge over the same era?

I wrote several years ago my affinity for what I called "fridge books" -- tablets. I think watches offer an opportunity for innovation -- an unexploited piece of real estate on human flesh. As a micro-dashboard, these smart watches will connect to and complement smart phones, conveying information at a glance; when it takes a tenth of a second to look at something, withdrawing and unlocking your phone does actually add up. A smart watch may show:
  • The song you're listening to on your phone (and let you skip it)
  • Who is calling you
  • Which cardinal direction is your mapped destination
  • The next step in your route
  • The temperature
  • How far you have jogged
  • Who and what from your circle is close to you (4Square, Geodelic/Around me, etc.)
  • A pro sports score
  • News headlines
  • Where your phone is
It just seems silly that we don't have high-rez colour touch interfaces just to tell us the time; at least not on our wrist. Add in a new category of micro-push content, and demand for innovative new watches will be there.