Christmas One More Time II

The second in our series of hand-selected and carefully curated Christmas Music Playlists. You can listen to the playlist via our friends at Spotify.

You can enjoy the entire playlist through the courtesy of our friends at Spotify via Spotify’s excellent web player. Special note: when you click the link, you will be taken to Spotify’s web player. There, you’ll have a couple of choices: sign in if you currently have a Spotify account; or signup for a free Spotify account (you’ll be glad you did) Here’s that link Either way, you should check it out if you like music, Holiday or otherwise. The holidays are a great time to discover a lot of great new music. Enjoy…and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to DJ Tschugge for compiling the list, along with the team at the Media Bunker. 

Christmas One More Time I(COMT I)

The Hunt For New (Christmas)Music:
For over a decade, I’ve been putting together a Christmas playlist.
The goal is simple: Introduce friends to new Christmas music they probably haven’t heard, or old Christmas music performed in a new version by a new artist or reprising some traditional holiday songs. In the spirit of Christmas, it’s time to share these lists, all of them, starting with the very first playlist. There are now 17 lists in total and they will be posted every few days starting on  December 1st. Along the way, we will toss in some Christmas classic videos, with music and videos and Christmas themed post running all the way up to Christmas day, 2019.
It’s the season for great music–Christmas and otherwise–so spread the spirit of the season by playing and sharing. These Christmas lists are are available for you to listen to now, on Spotify. Click the link and you can play from the Spotify embed.

 

You can enjoy the entire playlist through the courtesy of our friends at Spotify via Spotify’s excellent web player. Special note: when you click the link, you will be taken to Spotify’s web player. There, you’ll have a couple of choices: sign in if you currently have a Spotify account; or signup for a free Spotify account (you’ll be glad you did) Here’s that link Either way, you should check it out if you like music.  The holidays are a great time to enjoy a lot of great music. Enjoy…and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to DJ Tschugge for compiling the list, along with the team at the Media Bunker. 

Beazely Design Awards 2019

We have a long-standing love affair with all forms of design here in the Media Bunker, and in particular with architecture, graphic, and industrial design. So, it was with great joy when we noticed that the overall Winner of the Beazely Design Awards for 2019 was a map that explored the dimensions of Amazon’s rather amazing Alexa device, a machine that combines Artificial Intelligence, speech recognition, the internet, music, and several other capabilities into an easy-to-use device that can fill many of your daily needs, including a few you didn’t know you had.

As media pioneer, America’s Cup winner, and entrepreneur (and Media Bunker/Perception Engineering fav) Ted Turner once said, “it ain’t as easy as it looks”.

So, here it is: a map that explains the anatomy of an AI system.

Give it some time. We can almost certainly guarantee that the next time one of your friends wants to talk about AI or Alexa or any of Amazon’s “Echo ” devices, you will be the most prepared intellectually. Enjoy.

The Fine Print: Link courtesy of DesignMuseum.org, from the 2019 winners of the Beazley Designs of the Year. Photo courtesy of Getty News, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This photo has not been altered in any manner. We thank them for sharing. Post produced by the Media Bunker and Perception Engineering, with copyright (c)2019 held by Southchester Group LLC.

Can Colin Kaepernick Still Play In The NFL

Kap’s back. Or is He. Read FiveThiryEight.com’s reasoned, fact-based analysis of the activist/former QB

Last weekend, ex-NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick participated in a workout that was originally designed to showcase his talents for NFL teams that might need a quarterback, more or less immediately. Kaepernick, or “Kap” as he called by announcers and team mates, was staging the workout in conjunction with the NFL; he has not played in the league in three years and in the past has made a case against the league for “blackballing” him because of his political activism (i.e. he kneeled during the playing of the national anthem at football games to protest police brutality). Pretty heady stuff for a player who once took a team to the Super Bowl. Kap eventually filed a suit against the league for various grievances and it was settled in his favor (he got lots of money) and contends that he now wants to play in the NFL again, but is not being allowed to because of his beliefs and potential activism. His position on playing and the league’s reasons for him not playing are a subject of much debate and will not be taken up here, but it’s important to know that at the time he quit playing for the San Francisco 49’ers he had a contract offer on the table (he didn’t think it was good enough and so decided to see what free agency would bring). Which was nothing, partially because he could be considered “disruptive” to a team’s discipline but more likely because he was 1-10 won/lost in his last season as a starter for the 49’ers and so not exactly a sure thing winner.

There are lots of disputing viewpoints on how Kaepernick’s “tryout” went but the simple fact of the matter is it did not go well, did not take place at the schedule venue, involved a last minute dispute on participation waivers, and lost a lot of the scouts who had traveled to see it because of the location switch. So, on a lot of fronts and all sides–the NFL and Kap and his advisors–share some responsibility for an event that botched (amazing to me that his reps didn’t clear ALL the paperwork before scheduling the “workout”…something anyone involved with sports and events should do as a matter of professional guidance).

But no need to rehash the present with emotional viewpoints, but instead to get a totally unbiased, unemotional take on whether or not the guy can still play. For that, we turn to this video, produced by the gang at FiveThirtyEight.com (you need to follow them) which details how the former pro quarterback would rank with today’s QBs. Click the link above and enjoy an unsentimental look at a player whose time has probably passed.

The Fine Print: Video produced and courtesy of FiveThirtyEight.com via YouTube..this video has not been altered in any way; all rights belong to their respective holders. We thank FiveThirtyEight.com and YouTube for sharing. You should follow them–they have the numbers for the life we lead now and are masters of the art of statistics. Their take on Kap and his potential today is realistic and unemotional and intelligent. Well done. Post produced by the Media Bunker and Perception Engineering. donaldpierce.com is (c)2019, donald pierce.

Enough

Embed from Getty Images

Really–enough is enough. Here are some (but certainly not all) people, places, and things that have worn out their media/cultural/societal welcome. You may be familiar with some or all of them, but–even if not–take it from us, we’ve heard and/or seen way too much of them recently and they should bug off.

The current list:

Lavar Ball, Lonzo Ball, LaMelo Ball, LiAngelo Ball and the failed Big Baller Brand 

Rudolph Giuliani

CBS Morning News Staff Shuffles

Boeing 737 Max management team

“Breaking News” lead-ins

$250 basketball shoes

Any Kardashian 

Instagram “Influencers”

College Admissions Scandals

“Stable Genius” self-pronouncements (from those who can’t spell)

NFL Players Behaving Badly

Think how much better your life would be if you never hear of any of these people, places, or things again. Cut them out of your attention span. 

Enough.

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Thanksgiving is the favorite holiday for many Americans. While the common assumption is that the favorite holiday is Christmas, that’s not necessarily true. Although most of us love the Christmas season, the holiday itself –Christmas, The Big Day–is full of stress, expensive, all-too-often -demanding (on both diet and finances and travel) , something to be survived vs. enjoyed. The expectations are just too high.

Thanksgiving, however, is a totally different deal. You can enjoy a great meal with friends and family (just remember: no politics at the dining table), listen to the seasonal music and watch the seasonal TV shows, catch a great holiday sporting event, and emerge relatively unscathed from the event (except for a few extra pounds).

And so, in the spirit of brotherhood and fine food and wine, we have decided to promote a little Thanksgiving thought-piece: if you could have your choice of anyone in the world to share that once-a-year Thanksgiving meal with, who would it be. The idea is to gather a group of your own best and brightest and fill out the table. The format is simple: a dining room table with room for 8 guests. That’s a manageable number of guests. That means eight chairs to be filled. No relatives, please..you can see them another time and that’s too easy a choice for this project. Instead, make a wish list of the people you’d like spend a few hours with: entertainers, writers, leaders, businessmen, sportsmen, athletes, commentators, artists, comedians. It’s your table, you make out the list. Have at it and send your Ultimate Thanksgiving Guest List to us at the Media Bunker. (admin@donaldpierce.com).

The top 5 lists get published–judging is based on the thoughts and preferences and, dare we say it, intellectual bias, of the staff in the Media Bunker and at Perception Engineering. But–and this is important–every list will be read and pondered. A few ground rules: everyone you would invite has to be alive at the time the list is prepared, highly charged political figures are to be excluded (we get enough of that in daily life), and the invitees have to actually exist (i.e. you cannot invite a Chewbacca or some other tv/movie character). Your list should contain eight names, spelled correctly, with a note to the side about who they are–college professor, novelist, film director, writer, religious leader. All entrants receive a free, one year subscription to donaldpierce.com (which is, as you’ve noticed, already free but it does sound nifty. The form is below. Hop to it. To get you going, we’ve made up a few guest lists just as inspiration

A Sample Thanksgiving Guest List

Seth Meyers Late night TV Host

Warren Buffett Investor

Jose Altuve Professional Baseball Player

Roger Penske Entrepreneur, race team owner

Gloria Steinem Author, feminist

Reese Witherspoon Actress, Southerner

George Lucas Film maker (Star Wars, Indiana Jones )

Retired Admiral Bill McRaven Former top SEAL Commander, planned Bin Laden raid

Another Thanksgiving Guest List

Thomas Keller One of the top chefs in America

Paul Simon Songwriter, entertainer

Anna Wintour Editor of Vogue Magazine

Daniel Weiss Head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC

Bill Gates Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

Dr. Peter Mansell Immunologist, former head of Louis Pasteur Institute

Phil Mickelson Professional Golfer, 5x Majors Winner

Jeff Bezos Entrepreneur, CEO of Amazon

You get the idea…..the best and the brightest from a wide variety of fields and professions, to provide a once in a lifetime conversation that expands the boundaries of thought for everyone attending Got it? Hop to it. Look forward to seeing your thoughts.

The Fine Print: Send an an email with your eight choices, and the reasons why you selected them, for Thanksgiving dinner attendees to admin@donaldpierce.com . We will read all of them and, if past is prologue, will publish all of them on the site. Obviously rude, derogatory, or poorly mannered communications will be deleted. Image courtesy of Getty Images (www.gettyimages.com) , who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This photo has not been altered in any way. We thank them for sharing; donaldpierce.com is produced by the Media Bunker and Perception Engineering. Contents (c) 2019 donaldpierce.

The Performances: Camila Cabello on SNL

Great music performances, pulled from the archives of SNL, the Grammies, late night TV, and special concerts. Some of these performances are very new and some are very old. They are all very good.

Camila Cabello on Saturday Night Live, 12 October 2019.

The Fine Print: Video provided courtesy of YouTube and Camila Cabello. This video has not been altered in any way. All rights belong to the respective artists and rights holders. We thank them for sharing. Great performances posts are produced by The Media Bunker and Perception Engineering.

Life Lessons: Nina Griscom

I started to hear about Nina Griscom for the first time in the 1970s, when I was working in New York City. Since then, she’s always been on the media radar and social scene; you didn’t have to be in New York to hear about her, you would catch a media bit in New York Magazine or Bazaar, or Vogue. Her trademarks were visible even through the media prism–a sharp sense of humor, a certain blue blood grace and humility, enough energy to attend multiple social events a week and the type of easy, refined beauty that many aspire to but few possess naturally. It seemed a glamorous, effortless life from a distance, and if there were any dark elements, they certainly didn’t appear in public.

Nina had dipped out of sight until the other day, when I ran across a big article about her in the New York Times. The gist of it: no matter how golden your life, there’s always the chance of a downturn. And so it is with Nina, in her case a health issue. How she’s handling it (vs. how it’s handling her) is the basis of the story, and it’s worth your time. As my friend Miles Geauxbye, the Southern VC once said, “You never get another chance to make a last impression” and Nina is intent on riding out her fate with the same grace and humor that has marked her life. There’s a life lesson there and we should all learn it.

The Fine Print: Image courtesy of our friends at Getty Images (gettyimages.com) who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This image has not been altered in any way. We thank them for sharing. Link courtesy of The New York Times. Post text copyright 2019 donald pierce. Produced by the Media Bunker and Perception Engineering.

Get Back: Why Apple Should Return To Its’ Roots

Last week, Ewan Spence, a technology writer for Forbes and a specialist on Apple, wrote a powerful and very straight forward piece on how Apple was intentionally killing the Macbook Pro. Spence’s main thesis is one many have suspected, but few addressed so factually: that Tim Cook’s primary focus has been, is, and will be the iPhone and the associated ramp up of “services” that fill the created needs of iPhone users. You can read Spence’s article here.

All of what he says is true. My art director/writer/producer friends are all upset with the decreasing set of input/output ports on the new Macbook Pros. They could care less about the smaller size and lighter weight–to them, a Macbook Pro is a production tool, not a fashion accessory. Carrying one is not burdensome if it can produce what you need when you need it. But recently, advances in the Macbook universe of hardware and software have been small, barely noticeable. An iPhone is a small computer you make phone calls on, but a Macbook Pro was a small computer you could edit a video on or use to write your next novel or design/program your next app.

By moving away from the needs of the mobile creative (Apple is still trying to serve the needs of the stationery creative with desktops but that market is diminishing because American workers are not all that stationery anymore) Apple is failing to meet the needs of people who have built businesses and portfolios and services based on the capabilities of their Macbook Pros. On the other side of the operating system divide, Microsoft is pushing the Surface and Surface Pro to the creatives that Apple used to own (does anyone remember when desktop publishing saved Apple, the company?), a fact that is obvious by the TV commercials that Microsoft is running and the software they feature.

Tim Cook has ramped up the numbers for Apple, the public company, and the stock has done great, but he has not done much for Apple, the creative company, the cause, the “Think Different” company. By changing the business model to emphasize the iPhone and iPhone subscription based services, he’s put the company into a commercial lane that may go in a direction most Apple users don’t want to take. At one time, using an Apple computer was a statement, a commitment, a passion. When Steve Jobs ran Apple, you never felt like it was a giant company–under Jobs, Apple had personality and creativity and took chances. It was a little messy around the edges but it was exciting and they changed things, constantly. Apple was the closet thing in tech to what The Beatles were in entertainment. Every Apple new product announcement was a revolution, not an evolution.

Not anymore.

The lack of really innovative products–so new they have no precedent–at Apple is a bit shameful. Really, we don’t care about the width of the bezel–show us something that does things we’ve never seen before and helps us to think in different ways. At the very least, don’t take away the flexibility and productivity of the products from Apple we use every day, which Apple has done in designs for the Macbook, by making them virtually upgraded (parts are soldered in, embedded, so they cannot be easily replaced by newer or more capable ones…..good for Apple, bad for users). Really, it’s time for Apple to stop the all-bow-down-to-iPhone corporate culture and devote some attention and imagination to the Macbooks–Air, Pro, and other wise. As the great Texas football coach Darrell Royal used to say, “we’ll dance with who brung us”. Not a bad idea.

Maybe it’s time for Apple to take one more cue from The Beatles and get back to what built the company and their market. I think there’s a song for that. I think the execs at Apple should listen to it.

The Fine Print: Video courtesy of The Beatles and YouTube. All rights belong to respective rights holders This video has not been altered in anyway. We thank The Beatles and YouTube for sharing.

The Act You’ve Known For All These Years

The Hunt For New Music:

“It was twenty years ago today, when Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play”….
Sg. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Lennon-McCartney)
Editor’s Note: Actually, it was more than 50 years ago that “Sgt. Pepper’s” was introduced in America. In celebration of that event, there are several posts and interesting links to checkout and enjoy about the most celebrated album of our time. 
There is an exact moment when The Beatles started the transition that would move them from their position as the world’s biggest rock band into the dominant cultural and musical influence that they became after “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released.
That moment was 29 August 1966, when The Beatles played their last live rock concert, in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. The stadium was jammed and security for The Beatles was so tight that they had to be taken to the stage in an armored truck. One of The Beatles–looking out at the crowds and chaos that surrounded them–said simply “we can’t do this anymore”.
And after San Francisco, 1966, they didn’t.
As the band grew in popularity all over the world, the music was getting left behind. The screaming at the concerts was so loud that band members couldn’t hear each other, couldn’t hear their own instruments and, individually, they were getting restless–creatively, intellectually, musically. It was time for a change.
Ten months later that change materialized, in the form of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. It was the first rock concept album, a total break with The Beatles tight and carefully Brian-Epstein- groomed image, a reach in terms of music and technology and instrumentation, a musical composition so complex it could not be performed live and stressed the limits of the then-available recording technology, a very complete break from the past. Those paying attention to the musical evolution of The Beatles knew that their music was changing, becoming more adventurous and complex. It started with “Rubber Soul” and gathered momentum on “Revolver”, an album that provided an early test of some of the concepts and musical ideas (“Eleanor Rigby”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”) that would reach full definition in “Sgt. Pepper”.
To produce “Sgt. Pepper”  took 400 hours of studio time and 129 days–an immense amount of time for that period in popular music, but nothing compared to the amount of time it can take a 21st century band to record an album today. Working for The Beatles was their drive to change, to create, to push the boundaries, along with a team that included their legendary producer George Martin (later and deservedly, Sir George Martin) and recording engineer Geoff Emerick. Working against them was the technology of the day: all analog, a modest four track Studer tape recorder, analog audio tape, the limits of electronic recording technology and techniques of the time.
It mattered not. Through diligence and drive and experimentation–and listening to what each other had to say–The Beatles pushed through, expanded the very limits of what was possible in the studio, turning the studio itself into a musical and creative instrument, not merely a recording device, and produced the album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band”,  that Rolling Stone magazine has called the greatest rock album of all time.
At the core of the album’s concept was a step away from all The Beatles had been before and a step into what they would be going forward. Everything changed, from image and dress to composition complexity and musical density. The Beatles, in essence, created a band that could free them from the success and popularity of their past and give them again control over their musical destiny.
It was a risk. A massive, huge, intellectual, financial, business risk. If it went wrong, if their audience didn’t “get it”, if the album failed commercially, The Beatles could easily have been “over”.
But they did not play it safe, and that is the very greatest thing about “Sgt. Pepper’s”. They were fearless and opened a door into the future for themselves and for other bands by expanding the vocabulary of rock music. They elected to toss out the known for the unknown. Brian Epstein–their manager at the time” Sgt. Pepper’s ” was written, produced, and released–proved again to have perfect pitch for what to do and when to do it. Unlike other managers who  might discourage such an adventurous leap, Epstein–admittedly a little bewildered but totally committed to the group–backed the venture.
On June 2nd, 1967, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released in the United States. It was released in the “summer of love” and became the background music for a huge cultural change in the United States and the rest of the world. The album was loved, hated, revered, despised, analyzed, deconstructed, misunderstood, applauded.
But–it worked. “Sgt. Pepper’s” changed music and the possibility of rock; it also became the soundtrack the world needed at a time of volcanic change and international unrest.
There is a cost to change–there is always a cost to change. By August of 1967, Brian Epstein had died, the victim of “incautious self-overdosage” according to the English coroner. Friends of Epstein noted that he was worried if his management contract would be renewed, that he had been contemplating suicide for some time, that he knew his value as someone expert in staging large concerts and drawing huge crowds might be less valuable going forward when all the creative work would be done within the confines of the Abbey Road studio; that the band he had nurtured and grown into a worldwide phenomenon had, finally, and with his own urging, outgrown him.
By 1970,  after the release of  “Let It Be”,  it was over, as The Beatles, rich and famous and influential beyond comprehension,  lacking a centering influence (Epstein),  displayed signs of transitional difficulty from being merely the biggest rock band in the world to the dominant creative influence of an era, as infighting and self-absorbed musical and personal directions and personality conflicts mixed in with confused business activities and management, took it all apart.
What was left was the music, and in particular, this one rather spectacular piece of music, that changed everything.
The Fine Print: Image embed courtesy of our friends at Getty Images, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This image has not been altered in any way. We thank them for sharing.