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Category Archives: fun

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

Consider this one the take a break from work edition. It is perhaps a bit New York City centric but the spirit of it applies universally. If you don’t take the time to experience things outside the realm of your day to day work you are severely cutting your ability to be inspired. In addition, as Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons convey in their book The Invisible Gorilla, if you are hyper-focused you are very likely to begin experiencing a psychological phenomenon that renders you unable to see things that are right in front of you, in a kind of blindness that compromises your intuition.

With that in mind here are a couple of suggestions to clear your mind and perhaps lead you to new experiences:

Viral video kings OK GO have developed a collaborative dance piece with the fantastic Pilobolus dance company. They are in residence at The Joyce Theater until August 6 with the band dancing with the company on July 25 and 27. If it takes OK GO to get you to see dance at The Joyce Theater, the home of dance in NYC, then so be it. Your creative life will be richer for it.

• British company Punchdrunk has developed an extraordinary new work called Sleep No More. They company have taken over three warehouses and transformed them into The McKittrick Hotel. You arrive, meet at the bar, and then a strange character hands you a mask. For the next three hours, in silence and while wearing the mask, you traverse the hotel exploring complexly designed spaces and follow the actors as they re-enact a version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Everything, from the sound to the objects in the rooms, is tone perfect. You are free to do as you please and explore. In a recent performance I followed Lady Macbeth and watched her wash her bloody hands. Characters sometimes use the audience to pass notes to other characters.

Sleep No More is wordless Shakespeare, living film noire, the best of contemporary dance, true augmented reality, masterful storytelling, respectful homage, detailed design and that is not even taking in consideration the technical requirements needed to produce and perform such a “play” every night. Punchdrunk have taken the performing arts and remixed them creating something completely new, yet familiar, and absolutely spellbinding.

• And speaking of Shakespeare, you have not experienced New York completely until you have attended Shakespeare In The Park, produced by The Public Theater. It consistently presents some of the best Shakespeare productions with Central Park as the backdrop. This year’s productions are The Merchant of Venice and The Winter’s Tale and they run until July 30th.

• Now until July 24 is restaurant week in NYC, with dozens of restaurants creating prix fixe menus that are affordable and a great way to discover new cuisines. Have a decent meal with friends for a change and for goodness sake, no talk of work.

• Looking for something that you can explore at your own pace? Starting July 24 and running until November 7 The Museum of Modern Art is displaying Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects in the special exhibitions gallery. From the exhibition description “Talk to Me explores the communication between people and things. All objects contain information that goes well beyond their immediate use or appearance. In some cases, objects like cell phones and computers exist to provide us with access to complex systems and networks, behaving as gateways and interpreters. Whether openly and actively, or in subtle, subliminal ways, things talk to us, and designers help us develop and improvise the dialogue.”

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, at The Met until August 7, will make you question everything you know about fashion and art and their roles in your life. It is a glorious tribute to an artist gone too soon. A friend recently described it as “the most lavish and gorgeous visual concert ever produced” and I have to agree.

• Can’t attend any of these this weekend. Well, iTunes has Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 available for $.99 rental until next Tuesday. Revisit Part 1 and then head to the theater to catch Part 2 as the Harry Potter movie saga comes to an end.

• For those of you that have not read the Harry Potter books, let me try to entice you to read them with the words of Stephen King “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity.” J.K. Rowling single-handedly got a generation of children to read and at over 3000 pages total across seven books that’s a lot of reading. She changed the publishing industry. The recently announced Pottermore is set to change publishing once more as she releases the novels in ebook format. But the main point here is not the praise or the business, the point is that a single mother, during tough times in her life, had a singular vision and worked very hard to create a world were hard work, loyalty and persistence pay off. So go right ahead, take a break from work, dive into the series, you may not like it, you may love it, you may be re-reading it, but above all you may learn how to apply that same level of creative detail to your own work.

There you have it, no excuses, walk away from the screens for a few hours and fuel your creativity with something unknown.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

• Hashtags: worth a thousand pictures, good for branding and ready for the mainstream?

• What happens when a geeky comic meets a funny geek? They upstage all the suited, corporate talk at NExTWORK and in 45 minutes provide an irreverent and insightful view of technology today. Watch and you’ll see Jimmy Fallon in conversation with Sean Preston. You know it is going to be a good conversation when Fallon, having just met Preston, opens with “how did you write Sexyback?”

• And speaking of NExTWORK, two new words heard during the conference: #intercloud and #intracloud.

Everything is a remix.

• Do you remember these 12 designs that changed the web?

• We want one of the world’s first QR coins.

• JK Rowling announces and possibly changes book publishing and reading (again.)

Dutch lawmakers adopt Net Neutrality law: “The Netherlands on Wednesday became the first country in Europe, and only the second in the world, to enshrine the concept of network neutrality into national law by banning its mobile telephone operators from blocking or charging consumers extra for using Internet-based communications services.”

• And lastly, developing your creative practice with some tips from Brian Eno.

While strolling through Noho the other day, I was stopped in my tracks by the recent Batman: The Dark Knight movie poster. The image of Heath Ledger as The Joker, with his shoulders hunched, dark coat and white face paint immediately called to mind one of my favorite movie characters – The Crow.

The similarities in the graphics and toys from the two movies are striking.

Besides the obvious visual examples, there are notable common elements regarding the characters and actors. Although the characters are on opposite ends of the “good vs. evil” spectrum, they were both profoundly affected by losing someone they loved, resulting in the need to transform their appearances and seek revenge. The most startling similarity, of course, is the shocking deaths of both movies’ stars. Neither Brandon Lee nor Heath Ledger lived to see their films released. Both died tragically at age 28.

So what do you think? Did Batman’s marketing department intentionally mirror the graphics with the goal of subliminally tapping into the cult phenomenon of Brandon Lee’s Crow? Or is it just an eerie coincidence?

Sharon Terry is a marketing and public relations consultant at theMechanism, a multimedia firm with offices in New York, London and Durban, South Africa. She’s partial to Batman even though she married a joker.

Download Day 2008 Help the Firefox community set a Guinness World Record for the most software downloaded in 24 hours by downloading Firefox 3 on Download Day (some time in June).

You can pledge and get buttons and banners at the Download Day Headquarters.

Update 2008-06-12: The date of the download day has been set: Tuesday, 17 June 2008. While you wait, check out Deb Richardson's Field Guide to Firefox 3 to get an overview of all the new features and improvements.

Update 2008-06-17: Today is the day, but Firefox 3 won't be available until 10 am PDT.

Jeffrey Barke is senior developer and information architect at theMechanism, a multimedia firm with offices in New York, London and Durban, South Africa.

In pursuit of finding some free fonts to load onto the new iMac, I stumbled across The Rather Difficult Font Game, which proved not to be toooo difficult, but there were some challenging ones in there. If you think you know your typefaces and are in need of some validation that you’re as awesome as you think you are, give it a go!

After being slightly bitter about my score of 29/34, I decided to search through the rest of the I Love Typography website, and it really has a lot to offer. The blog posts are thorough, and they’ve compiled a significant amount of typography resources that are worth checking out. But for now, I’m going to go study some fonts so I can get my score into the Hall of Fame!

The Rather Difficult Font Game

Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a comedy sketch show broadcast by the BBC from 1969 to 1974, was conceived, written and performed by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Little did they know how ahead of their time they were with their homage to SPAM, a canned & precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation.

Revisiting this sketch this morning made me further appreciate the sketch’s melodious repetition as I deleted another 1575 Spam posts from my email box. If you get a lot of Spam, I highly recommend watching this video. It will ease the pain of dealing with this unruly menace. If you’re on a Mac, I recommend SpamArrest, which does a pretty good job of learning (with your assistance) what to keep and what to mark as Spam. Finally, if you’re eating dinner, I recommend feasting on anything other than SPAM…

Dave Fletcher is a Founder and Creative Director at theMechanism, a multi-disciplinary design agency with offices in New York, London and Durban, South Africa. He admits to having tasted SPAM as a youngster, but cannot recall how sick it made him.

For the love of Suprema…

August 24th, 2007  |   fun

As anyone who frequents theMechanism in New York knows – Friday is “pizza day” for the famished denizens of the Creative Bunker. And anyone who knows a little more about the inhabitants of the Creative Bunker, appreciates that we dig our pals at Pizza Suprema at 413 8th Ave, New York, NY. (212) 594-8939. Not only do they spin a particularly toothsome pie, but they also are always sure to send their best regards to Jeffrey and Dave, and a kindly joust at Josh Ingber (who enjoys the pizza, but doesn’t share the same nearly religious love for the “Suprema” as Jeffrey and Dave).

With all of that said, we want to give our pals at Pizza Suprema a nice shout out – because when our savory and saucy cheese pizza arrived today, there was no charge. Pretty cool considering we live in a city of roughly 8,008,278 and these pizza kings manage to make us feel like we’re living in a small town with the fast service and familiarity.

Next time you’re anywhere near MSG in Manhattan (Suprema is one block South-West from the Garden), we implore you to stop in, order some za, say “Boo-ya!” and tell them that the theMechanism forcibly commanded you to do so.

Bon appetit…