Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: A Year in Review

Thanks for joining me for the third year in a row for my annual Top 3 Faves Lists of 2008. It was an interesting year for sure. I was actually quite a bit surprised at my own results to be honest. I’ll admit, I’m a fairly predictable kinda guy, so I’m pretty stoked that some of my choices are a little off of my beaten path. Anyways, it was quite a year—so here we go!

Top 3 Favorite Albums

3. For Emma, Forever Ago: Bon Iver - This rad little album came out of nowhere with genuine listenability. For Emma, Forever Ago is on the same musical spectrum as the My Morning Jackets and the Bands of Horses albums of the world but with a bit more longing and reverence to it. Apparently these guys are so good, they managed to remain featured as Upto12’s most recent post for the last six months! They are definitely the best “Bon” band since Jovi. Their rad original album cover is what's pictured here. Standout track: For Emma.

2. Kala: M.I.A.
- If “favorite” album is gauged by what was in highest rotation for me this year, Kala by M.I.A. has got to be counted as one of the year’s best. There’s nothing like the lyrics to the Pixies’ Where is My Mind? juxtaposed with the combination of a children’s choir and the ringing of gunshots. Though released in 2007, it took a preview for a little movie called Pineapple Express to inextricably embed the track Paper Planes into our collective consciousness. Standout trailer: Watch it here.

1. Viva la Vida: Coldplay
- For me (and a lot of other really cool peeps) Viva la Vida is the album of the year. It’s anthemic, yet approachable. It’s striking, yet soulful. It’s epic, yet easy on the ears. In my mind Viva la Vida definitely elevates the good old Coldplays from pop phenoms to rock-n-roll torchbearers—able to draw together fans from all walks of life. They’re able to satisfy a majority of the indie crowd and the top-40 crew simultaneously. That’s a feat few bands are capable of. Standout track: Yes.

Top 3 Favorite Movies

3. Watchmen Trailer
- Whether you like it or not, one of the most cinematic pieces of the year is without a doubt the Watchmen Trailer that originally premiered right before The Dark Knight. This preview has been hailed as one of the best trailers ever. What makes this thing so incredible is that it demonstrates the maniacal lengths they’ve gone through to maintain consistency with the graphic novel. On top of that, it’s just a flat-out amazing music video. It’s cut to the tune of The Beginning is the End is the Beginning by the Smashing Pumpkins, which is ironically the B-side to a song they wrote for the worst superhero flick ever, Batman & Robin. Standout scene: The 145-foot Dr. Manhattan zapping a poor unsuspecting member of the Vietcong.

2. Kung Fu Panda /
WALL•E - So in the spirit of my last year’s Juno/Dan In Real Life tie for fave film, I’ve got yet another tie this year. Though these two flicks are extremely different in tone, delivery and style—they are inseparably connected by their profound adherence to their respective genres. Kung Fu Panda is an exceptional martial arts comedy that just so happens to be CG. WALL•E is a superb sci-fi romance that also just so happens to be CG (and will most likely win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature). What’s great about these films is that they’re both totally re-watchable in their own unique ways. Standout scenes: Ty Lung’s escape and any scene with EVE in it.

1. The Dark Knight
- No brainer, right? Well, not so fast. Compared to my prior years’ winners (all dramadies) an obviously dark, crime drama doesn’t really fit my mold for favorite movie of the year. But there’s no denying how radical this flick is. Thanks to Christopher Nolan’s relentless desire to ground this thing in reality and an indisputably jaw-dropping performance by the Heath, The Dark Knight is elevated from a mere super-hero flick to a full-on epic crime drama. Standout scene: Uh hello, the Joker in drag? Duh.

Top 3 Favorite TV Shows

3. Flight of the Conchords
- Though released in 2007 it took the combo of the writers’ strike, YouTube and a pretty sweet Podcast to mainstream Season 1 of this HBO hit. No one can dispute the hysterical hijinks of this particular couple of Kiwis. The tone, delivery and satire infused into every scene really gives you the “Who are these guys?” vibe and it’s fun to see just how far they’ll take it. And watch for Jemaine Clement in the next Jared Hess flick: Gentlemen Broncos. Standout episode: The If-You’re-Into-It episode, “Yoko”.

2. The Office
- It can’t not be here. Despite the writers’ strike, the producers of The Office managed to pull off some of their most brutally hysterical and uncomfortable episodes yet. From Creed ridin’ the Red Bull to druggie-Ryan’s ultra-creepy beard, late season 4 and early season 5 did not disappoint. I particularly applaud them for the surprisingly amusing addition of Amy Ryan, as Holly the fem-Michael replacement for Toby in HR. Standout episode: The Dinner Party: “Snip, snap, snip, snap!”

1. 30Rock / SNL / Tina Fey in general
- You knew it, I knew it. There was something in the air this year and it was the essence of Fey. She was everywhere and frankly—unlike some—I couldn’t get enough. From an award-winning sitcom to an uncanny resemblance to a particular Palin, Tina capitalized on it. She managed to blerg her way from Weekend Updater to possible political tide-changer. And she’s so hot! Between her SNL cameos and the strangeness that is Andy Samberg, as of this season, SNL is a whole new beast and I’m lovin’ it. The only question is: Can there be too much Fey out there? Standout performance: The Couric/Palin Opening Sketch.

Top 3 Favorite Cars

3. Audi R8
- When you think about it, supercars haven’t changed all that much in the last 20 or so years. I mean a Lamborghini still looks more or less like a Lamborghini, Ferraris like Ferraris and Porsches like Porsches. But the R8 is something completely different. It’s got the all-around performance to match a 911. It’s got styling that rivals the sickest Lambo and if Tony Stark can drive one—then Magnum P.I. can too! Standout feature: Soon-to-come ultra clean burning diesel engine.

2. BMW 135i
- Is it the reincarnation of the classic 2002? Debatable. But there’s no doubt about it, this car is a sick little pocket rocket. It’s a 300 hp bi-turbo shoehorned into a two-door without any other purpose than to go fast on a budget. With this power-to-weight ratio, you’re nearing M3 performance at a fraction of the cost. Granted a fully decked 135i can easily double the cost of a similarly equipped MCS or GTI, but if you wanna smoke some punk in a WRX, there’s not a more effective or elegant weapon on the planet at this price point. Standout model: The 1-series based tii concept car.

1. MINI Cooper Clubman S
- Okay, I admit it, this one is squarely on the beaten Kyality path. But the Clubman was made for me. I see it like this, if you drive a MINI, particularly a Cooper S, you’ve already proven you’re a savvy driving enthusiast. But when you’re rockin’ a Clubman you’ve now officially elevated yourself to driving connoisseur. The Clubman is an exercise in post-modernism, it’s the intersection of classic Bristishness and next-gen technoratism. Just don’t be too surprised if you see me rollin’ in one at some point. Standout feature: Double barn doors in the back, booyah!

Top 3 Favorite Designs

- Whenever a telemarketer from a cable company calls offering hundreds of channels, I always ask the same question. How do I get just one channel, so I can watch just what I want to watch. With Hulu, I may not even need that. Finally someone has figured it out. They’ve discovered a format that will give views/users the opportunity to watch hundreds of shows and movies both current and classic in fullscreen with limited commercial interruption. It’s convenient, guilt-free and most importantly it’s extremely well designed. I predict that Hulu will be a major entertainment game-changer. Now if Apple would just stream it through Front Row, we’d be set! Standout feature: The SNL page.

2. Apple MacBook and Macbook Pro - Say it with me now: al-lu-minium. Do this little experiment. Pull up a picture of the latest Dell, HP or Sony laptop and then pull up a pic of the new MacBook. Night and day. Thanks to Jonathan Ive and his crack team of industrial designers, engineers and innovators, we’ve entered a new era of computing function and form. There’s something pretty inspiring about working daily on a slab of aluminum and a pane of glass. The glass Trackpad in and of itself is a massive feat of elegant engineering. When you get a chance, wander into an Apple Store and take one for a spin and in the meantime watch Jony Ive get his accent on here. Standout feature: Seamless integration with the new LED Cinema Display.

1. The Obama Brand - The design world was dominated this year by the brand of a man named Barack. Creativity Magazine had a recent cover story with a headline that read: When a Brand Becomes a Movement. This couldn’t be further from the truth; it’s actually the exact opposite scenario. The Obama Campaign started as a traditional movement. Through the creativity of firms and folks like: SimpleScott, Sol Sender, MODE, Shepard Fairy and Scott Hansen—this simple movement became a hard-working, living, wearable, sellable brand. It’s proof that exceptional design can move and motivate. Let’s just hope and pray that it all pays off! Standout design: Scott Hansen’s Progress Print.

PS: Feel free to check out the reviews of 2006 and 2007!

Friday, December 26, 2008

And a Kyality Christmas to You!

Well, despite 3 feet of snow and more to come, Christmas was awesome this year. Mrs. Kyality got me some winners! The graphic above is a rad new tee she found on the Chop Shop. It silhouettes 55 classic rides from pop culture including some of my faves such as: The Delorean from BTTF, the General Lee, the A-Team van, the Mach 5, Luke's Landspeeder and of course, the classic 1955 Lincoln Futura-based Batmobile. Can you guess the rest?

I also scored this sweet scale model of a sooped-up MINI Cooper Convertible to replace the aging BMW Z8, which has graced the top of my dresser for years now. I totally dig the black rims and red Brembo brakes. And though I seriously doubt I'll ever own a non-S MINI or a convertible, I can still geek-out about them, right?

I saved the best for last... we found this piece for our home. It's a letterpressed print of the Salt Lake Temple designed completely from typography. Utah-based designer Cameron Moll created this limited-edition print and we were lucky enough to nab one of the last ones. We've been told for years to have a picture of the Temple in our home. Now we have a very inspirational pic—in more ways than one!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I'm a spoiled, spoiled brat.

Still gettin' used to the single button glass trackpad. But the raddest thing is that a brand spankin' new Apple LED Cinema Display is on order too. Booyah!

Monday, December 08, 2008

More MINI.

So I’ve lasted a whole month without writing a MINI post. And I’ll admit, it’s been tough. So sorry Team Boo, I’m back on the saddle. This weekend the MINIzilla reemerged for winter, just in time for the first decent snowstorm of the season.

Speaking of wheels, I’ve been curious if the two-piece rims that roll on in the summertime could successfully be disassembled, painted and reassembled. Then I came across these little photos. This guy disassembled the rims, rattle-canned them with five coats of paint, hit ‘em with some matte clear-coat, then reassembled them. The results are pretty amazing.

So now I’m thinking about painting the inner pieces of my rims the exact same color, Dark Silver, as the body of my rod. I just think it’d be a cool, simple way to make my rather common MINI extremely unique.
Here's my current rim, thinking I'm goin' grey!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Who Are These People?

When I was in junior high, I discovered SNL. My favorite things on the show were the commercial spoofs. The best usually featured Phil Hartman as some smooth salesman. One of his commercials was for a car that was luxury on the inside and jalopy on the outside.

Well, I think I've discovered a subculture within the Volkswagen enthusiast community who have taken this idea to the next level. It's a unique take on the concept of a sleeper. Basically you find a crummy old Rabbit or Golf, pimp out the engine and the interior, then trash the exterior and strap a bunch of old luggage on the roof rack. And voilĂ ! You've got yourself a super rad junker that'll take almost anything off the line. Seriously, if you know who these people are or what this type of VDub is called, lemme know!

Monday, November 24, 2008

To All You Coldplay Haters Out There...

On Saturday, the Coldplays rocked the Energy Solutions Arena (a.k.a. The Delta Center) in a manner that would do the great Bono Vox proud. The tracks from their latest album Viva la Vida were the standouts of the evening. The entire arena was brought into the action, whether it be through performances from up in the stands, remixes of their own tunes out in the crowd or via a blizzard of billions and billions of butterflies being blown from the rafters.

The show was straight-up surreal in a very, very good way. Granted Chris and company skipped the junior college-sized venues and went straight on to grad school-sized arenas, but they wore it well. Here's the hottest number of the night.

PS: And yes, my non-sexual man-crush on Will the drummer is alive and well.

Thanks For The Blingage.

As promised, HabbenINK came through with some out-of-this-world blingage for the good ol' BMW 2002. Click here to enlarge the spacey goodness.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Great Action + Good Design = Quantum of Solace

Two years ago, Casino Royale, the first installment of the Bond series reboot, ended with Daniel Craig’s rough and tumble Bond character capturing a mysterious man by the name of Mr. White. Fast forward to the now and we rejoin the action immediately thereafter within the opening moments of director Marc Forster’s follow-up—Quantum of Solace. It’s this very moment-to-moment, edge-of-your-seat mindset that makes this next flick in the new Bond series a winner.

Quantum is absolutely action packed. In fact, if I were to have any critique, it’s that there’s barely enough time to catch your breath. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Forster does a fantastic job of infusing drama and emotion into what otherwise could have been an adrenaline overload. Not to mention we finally get a proper car chase.

You may remember Marc Forster as the director of my 2006 Favorite Movie pick, Stranger Than Fiction. Well, he not only brought with him the same exceptional production value, he brought MK12 as well. MK12 is the motion graphics studio that executed all of the killer mograph in Stranger, they were also responsible for the gorgeous opening sequence in Quantum to the rad vocals of odd couple Alicia Keys and Jack White. You typophiles out there will totally dig the killer font choice and accompanying motion. You can see a music video of the Keys/White opening track, Another Way To Die, by clicking here. Though it's not the opening credits sequence, it's still a great little duet.

Speaking of typography, pay special attention to the location titles throughout the flick. Someone out there with some basic design sensibilities finally had the forethought to create some beautifully customized, superimposed typographic compositions for each of the locations in the movie. This simple, yet thoughtful detail adds volumes to the viewing experience.

Finally, what I love about this new Bond series is the genuine storytelling. What I mean is this. I have a friend who is a really good storyteller, mainly because he’s a top-notch exaggerator. When he repeats a series of events back to you, sure it’s very entertaining to listen to, but it becomes obvious that everything’s blown a bit out of proportion. I’d equate this to previous Bond series such as the Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan eras. With this new series on the other hand, it’s kind of like you’re hearing for the first time what really happened. And let’s face it there’s something intoxicating about hearing how it all actually went down.

PS: There's a killer new trailer for J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek movie, right before Quantum. Download it here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Killer Movie Poster

The documentary Dear Zachary tells the story of the 2001 murder of Dr. Andrew Bagby in a parking lot in western Pennsylvania. The prime suspect, his ex-girlfriend Dr. Shirley Turner, promptly fled the United States for St. John’s, Canada, where she announced that she was pregnant with Andrew’s child. She named the little boy Zachary.

Filmmaker Kurt Kuenne, Andrew’s oldest friend, began making a film for little Zachary as a way for him to get to know the father he’d never meet. But when Shirley Turner was released on bail in Canada and was given custody of Zachary while awaiting extradition to the U.S., the film’s focus shifted to Zachary’s grandparents, David & Kathleen Bagby, and their desperate efforts to win custody of the boy from the woman they knew had murdered their son. What happened next, no one ever could have foreseen… they commissioned a killer movie poster. Pun intended. Click here to enlarge the poster.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Long-term Update: MacBook Air

So it’s been just over 6 months since I first started rocking the MacBook Air and I think it’s about time to give a long-term update. Unfortunately, the news isn’t all that good. First, I’ve gotta say that obviously the Air’s design is top notch. Apple’s done an incredible job of designing a striking, stylish, compact computing machine. It’s ergonomic, it’s easy on the shoulder when in my messenger bag, and it’s beyond portable. The MacBook Air is the easily the leader in the ultra-compact category.

However, there are really two areas that I’m not so stoked on. The first is the straight-up hardware and performance. Unfortunately, I’ve already had to replace the Airport Card, antenna, and even the hard drive! Luckily the machine’s under an AppleCare plan and the doods at MacDocs had the foresight to do a quick Time Machine backup once the hard drive kicked back some unrecoverable errors.

Now I can understand a faulty piece of hardware, but I have to say, I’ve never had to restart, force quit, or watch the spinning-beach-ball-of-death more than with this machine. And this occurs frequently, even during basic browser surfing, or blogging. Yeah, it kinda gets old.

The other major struggle I’ve found is that this machine is from the future. Now it’s true that we’ve officially entered the future since we’ve now elected an African-American President, but the MacBook is apparently from an even more distant future. In the MacBook’s future, the internet is screaming fast, media can be compressed to miniscule sizes, and discs of any kind are non-existent. Though I look forward to this future, the fact of the matter is that it just isn’t here quite yet.

I’ve found myself continually flustered by my inability to rip a disc in a hassle-free manner. It’s currently very difficult to manage and transfer media files wirelessly. And unfortunately, most of the infrastructure outside of my office and home just isn’t Air-friendly and find myself defaulting to my iPhone more often than not.

The best part about the MacBook Air, is that it conjures up some serious wow-factor with clients, which is sweet. But more importantly, the Air is apparently the precursor to the new MacBooks. Prior to the Air, I at one point rocked the 12-inch PowerBook G4, and loved it. So if you’ve seen Jony Ive’s new 13-inch MacBook, I’m sure you can guess what my next computer will be!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Go Vote.

I don't care who you're for. Just go vote. But look at this rad fixie by Tristan Eaton.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Halloween From Kyality.

Sometimes a Cooper can pass for A. Cooper. Also, by popular request, I'll be focusing on some non-MINI related topics for the next little bit... sorry SouthernJ.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

No Tailpipes On This One.

This is happening… whether you like it or not. The first true electric vehicle to hit the roads for the masses (well sorta) is a MINI. Actually it’s the MINI E, not to be confused with WALL•E. The MINI E's electric drive train produces 220 Newton meters of torque and hits 6o mph in 8.4 seconds. Unfortunately, the top speed is electronically limited to 95 mph. But the MINI E does feature a suspension system perfectly tuned to match its weight distribution and obviously sports the brand's hallmark agility and handling.

The plug-in electric Cooper only has room for two due to its massive lithium battery pack which sits where the Kyality Kids usually do. The new MINI E motif seems appropriate when positioned next to the current Carfun Footprint campaign that Struck recently completed with BSSP. There will be 500 of these dark silver and yellow Coops leased this upcoming year in California, New York and New Jersey. And the best part is this thing literally kicks out zero emissions.

So rad. What’s next? Mr. Fusion?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Let The Chase Begin.

Lately, I’ve been way into cool pro cycling chase cars. Here are some of the sweetest ones I’ve found. At work, I’ve been trying to put together a sponsorship for the best cycling team in the state, the Ski Utah Cycling team. We’ll most likely be designing their next round of jerseys. Who knows maybe they’ll need someone to drive a Clubman chase car one day!

The Garmin/Chipotle team is by far the most stylish, gotta love the argyle motif.
The Mavic team is pretty serious about this sport.
Check out the BMW chase bikes.
Yep, MINIs work too!
Euro wagons are standard fare.
The Jittery Joe's team runs MINIs only.
Here's one for a Specialized team.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Too Little. Too Late.

During the 2001 autoshow season, Volkswagen mesmerized crowds with their stunning Microbus Concept. It was a beautiful and progressive reinterpretation of their classic VW Bus based on the original Beetle chassis. Everyone with kids who laid eyes on that thing said to themselves: Yeah, I’d rock that!

I’ve been waiting ever since then to write this, the review of the first VW minivan since the Eurovan. But alas, this is not even close to the review I was hoping to give. For the past couple of weeks VW has been advertising their new Routan; what’s being referred to their “German Engineered” minivan.

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only does this thing look like a Chrysler Town & Country, that’s precisely what it is. Yep, you heard me right. Apparently this “thing” is made in the exact same factory as the T&C. To be honest, referring to the Routan as a “thing” is giving it far too much credit—a Thing actually was a cool VW.

I once again, feel the need to reference Steve Jobs. In October of 2005, Jobs described to TIME Magazine a phenomenon he called the Parable of the Concept Car: "You know how you see a show car, and it's really cool, and then four years later you see the production car, and it sucks? And you go, What happened? They had it! They had it in the palm of their hands!”

Rather than giving us the family vehicle we all lusted after, the boneheads at VW gave us a watered down Eurovan in the form of the crappy Dodge Caravan that I already have. Do they not get that they could have easily been the driving force behind bringing us the first genuinely cool family mover? In the words, well word, of the great Liz Lemon… blerg.

PS: Perhaps MINI will seize this wide-open window of opportunity. I could definitely go for a MINIvan.