The Brilliance!


We’re really internet and we’re really back. A website about things Benjamin , Chuck , Virgil , and various friends & guests think are interesting. Little-to-no specific focus, a bit odd, speling errors, and incredibly culturally relevant.

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37Signals on the DRUDGEREPORT®‘s design!!

I’ve been a long-time fan of the Drudge Report. Even as an Obama supporter myself and with his obvious slant against him during the general election, I didn’t care. I knew I could consistently depend on Matt Drudge to have the biggest and best headline of the moment front and center. And if it wasn’t front and center, it would be later in the day, as most other news channels and sites would follow his lead.. Jason from 37Signals (who we apparently are very fond of as of late on here) has written a brilliantly accurate article on just why exactly, despite it’s aesthetic ugliness (which is also debatable), the Drudge Report is one of the best designed sites on the web. Ben just sent this over to me and I was so glad someone had taken the time to put a spotlight on this. I’ve always felt like the Drudge Report worked so well because of how simple it was. Jason’s first point is that it has staying power which, if you ask me, the entire article could focus on that alone. He says “It’s generic list of links, black and white monospaced font, and ALL CAPS headlines have survived every trend, every fad, every movement, every era, every design do or don’t. It doesn’t look old and it doesn’t look new — it looks Drudge. It hasn’t changed since at least 1997…” He is so right on with this…it is not old, it’s not new. It’s a true example of ‘it is what it is’. When we were working on the design for the Brilliance, Ben and I went back and forth a lot even talking about Drudge and its effect on how we might approach this site. How it could just last throughout time, which is difficult to think about in terms of the internet considering what’s cool now is not cool 10 minutes from now let alone years from now. Anyways, this is a really great writeup you should check out. Really helps to understand how something can be good design even if it’s not “good design” at first glance…hence this statement from Jason that “A few thousand bucks a year in overhead that generates a few million a year in revenue. That’s good design.”

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Paper Route Recordz, Fear and Loathing in Hunts Vegas!

I posted about the PRGz (Paper Route Gangstaz) a while back - about their super weird track ‘Woodgrain’. Loved that track. Yeah, that was quite a while back - in fact I think I remember them only having like 5,000 plays on their myspace when that track dropped. Other than that track and few remixes Diplo has done - its been pretty hard to come by music from them or their camp - until today… DJ Benzi and Diplo of Mad Decent have dropped a mixtape/album of all their stuff - new remixes, etc. Tons of stuff. And…it’s pay what you want, I paid for the upgrade to 320kbps - come on, $5, have to do it. I’m actually just listening to it now…the production is super fresh, totally different - I imagine thanks to Diplo and the gang. I’d call it ‘tweaker rap’, weird but a bit refreshing. A nice side-step from current hip-hop, which I hardly listening to anymore anyway. If it’s your cup of tea check it out, there are some throw-away tracks but I know I’ll be playing a few at the next house party I hit. Do I still hit house parties?!

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Game changers: RED digital cinema cameras!

Alright, I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about video editing, cameras, or anything to do with film-making. I do have some friends, Dot&Cross, here in town that are quite educated in it…and a while back they’d mentioned to me this company called ‘RED’ that makes unbelievably high quality digital video cameras for equally unbelievably low prices. Allowing film-making shops to literally own the digital equipment at prices they were paying to rent real-film equipment for a week. The prices were still far beyond what the average consumer could afford - so aspiring, and starving, film-makers weren’t really effected by this…just the smaller/mid-sized shops. That was true until last week when RED, after taunting the public with teasers, finally announced their new Scarlet model which shoots big-screen, cinema quality, footage and will cost just $2,500. Literally, a true game changer. I think it was on TechCrunch where they mentioned the absolute fear this must have stricken in Sony and Cannon, etc. There is just simply nothing that competes with it. And their catch-phrase that they ‘render obsolescence obsolete’ in that every part of the camera is modular and works with any new products they might develop, etc. And similar to the iPhone, all firmware upgrades are free for owners. Pretty amazing. I really don’t have any interest in owning one - I may purchase one to rent out to local hipsters (ha, for real though) - but I love, LOVE companies that just shake their industry and literally create a whole new playing field. Always inspirational. What iPods are to music players I imagine RED will be to digital video. They’re branding and physical product design is well done too…very beautiful looking machines. Also, check this video shot using a RED. Awesome. ***Again, I’m not very educated in this stuff, so if I have anything wrong, shoot me an email!!

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Inspiration: Birch tree forests!

One of those I’m-going-to-post-something-random posts. And actually, I’m probably signing to the choir with our design-focused readers. These trees are like the Nelson Bench of landscaping. But anyway, I think its fun to find really, really specific inspiration in things and nature seems to be a never ending resource, you know? I think my last post similar to this was about space, specifically galaxies…but this time around its Birch tree forests. I don’t know if any of you have ever searched Flickr for ‘birch tree forests’ before but its pretty amazing man. Something about the super white, often super straight trunks contrasting with their orange leaves in the fall or just the forest floor - really beautiful. What prompted me to do it is Rosa Parks Circle here in downtown Grand Rapids that has a bunch of birch trees that are framed by our amazing new art museum. Quite a sight. Well, thats it…a ‘far out’ post by Benjamin. Hopefully it inspires you too, one of my favorite examples at the link below.

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Quantum of Solace. Sorry, I couldn’t end it with the usual exclamation!

Ha. So I was all excited to go check the new Bond flick, got the tickets ahead for the 12:01AM show, opening night, etc. I was a huge fan of Casino Royale - an awesome new direction for Bond. It poked fun at some of the old traditions but almost giving them a nod rather than just omitting them and trying something totally new. Anyway, Quantum of Solace just…maybe went to far in that direction. Chuck asked me (he went too) what my thoughts were this morning. I kept it simple: ‘it was too dusty.’ Ha, thats my honest reaction. Yes, James messes up his suits, gets in fights, gets beat up, get a bloody noes, etc, it happens in all the classics…but he’s not like totally disheveled the entire time, right?? This Bond was just too much action, too much rock-em-sock-em fight scenes, etc. Casino Royale had that, but he still looked sharp, switched his suits, etc…he’s James Bond, the fashion is part of it! Beyond that, there were no gadgets except a fake iPhone with GPS - like a total ‘movie phone’ you know? Only one scene with an Aston Martin. A plot that was super difficult to follow - the bad guys had ‘people everywhere’ it makes it super easy to twist the plot on a whim. Lots of stuff was left unexplained, like how did he just get a Range Rover Sport out of no where? No gambling. No Bond song in the intro?? A slightly anti-climatic ending for a Bond film. Eh, I don’t know. It was a really entertaining movie…but it just didn’t feel very James Bond. Although the Gold Finger reference with the girl covered in oil was nice, well done. I’d still tell people to check it…but I walked away kind of like, ‘meh’.

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Jason Fried of 37signals, from the stage!

You may not like this guy - in fact, I personally wonder what he’d be like to hang out with, like just grab a beer with - but he’s co-founder of one of my absolute favorite companies and really knows how to communicate/manage/expand his own personal brand and the 37signals brand. I’m a big fan of what he does. Check out this video linked below… It’s a quick 15 minute video of him kind of ‘keynoting’ his thoughts on educating your consumer instead of marketing to them. Pretty insightful stuff…kind of common sense after you hear him explain it, but I guess thats what makes 37signals successful - boiling things down. Also really cool to hear him candidly talk about their income. Hmm…thinking about educating your consumer rather than marketing to them…makes your mind wander on what business could benefit from this more than others, especially the large failing ones here in the US right now. ***And am I the only one who thinks kind of looks like Aaron Bondaroff?

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Blog: The Dieline!

I love this site. Funny how many blogs there are on the net, yet I feel like I don’t have good ones to check out that don’t just show the same things every other bog shows…you know? Anyway…I ran across this blog after linking to it from I love good packaging - The Dieline is almost an overwhelming amount of examples, or at least studies of it. What Engadget is for time wasting looking at electronics, The Dieline is for wasting time looking at packaging…mostly food/beverage. And, bonus, it has a pretty good commenting user base…I usually hate blog comments, you know, the typical super cynical, say stuff you’d never say in real life, super hater comments - none of that here. In fact, it looks like a bunch of industry types with actual experience in what their commenting about. Either way, its a great blog - and well named, check it out. ***Their logo was super hard to cut into our 100x100 image size, sorry, ha. And speaking of packaging, the mountains are no longer blue on this Coors Light I’m drinking…bummer.

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A Modern President!!!!

Crazy right. Super cool. Makes me proud. I am fully inspired. I am glad there’s a general consensus the country to believe in HOPE and the idea that a positive campaign reigns above all. America truly is walking the walk. I have always thought of our site, THE BRILLIANCE, as a time capsule…something for us all to look back on years later and remember the important small things of our time. This post is hopefully a marker in THE BRILLIANCE timespan when a campaign, our government and the voting process became as cool as the newest smartphone or cool website. Now back to your regularly scheduled program of random posts about super cool phones and stuff!

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Dov Charney in Portfolio Magazine!

A true ‘business character’...and I say that in a positive light. As I read through this article I couldn’t help but think like…‘its almost supposed to be like this, aren’t all successful niche brands helmed by a bit of a character like leader??’ Maybe thats just my opinion…and its important for me to disclaim that I do find some of the things he’s done to be offensive. Either way, I really enjoy reading about American Apparel as a company and how Dov has brought it to be what it is today…and Portfolio always has the killer interviews, so well done. They do a good job focusing on his work ethic, which as you might imagine is pretty intense. I like how he’s involved in almost every aspect of his business - the design, the branding, the plant floor, the health-care, the legal stuff, etc. He’s certainly not the aloof CEO…not the fat-cat. For example, he’s out on the streets of LA personally handing out fliers to hipsters and the homeless about job openings at American Apparel…have to admire that. This quote from him probably sums it up: “I do this every day. I do it on Sunday. I don’t even remember when it’s Friday. One day it’s Saturday, and one day it’s Monday. I just keep going and going and going.” I love how he calls himself an industrialist. Check out the article below. Big thanks to JVH for sending this over.

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Would you buy a Hyundai?

I don’t watch much TV…but I’ve seen quite a few of these new commercials for the Hyundai Genesis. May have even seen some on Hulu as well. Car commercials in general are usually pretty boring, even if they are ‘high impact’ they all seem to follow the same model…curvy road, shiny wet roads, maybe even the driving thru perfectly placed fall leaves on the road that spin up as the car speeds past…or the ever-present body color painted licenses plates…right?? And to be honest, these Hyundai commercials aren’t terribly different - but they are being a bit more…almost like David and Goliath where David is kind of overly confident, maybe snobby. So they’re not just copying the big guys…they’re throwing down some pretty hard hitting facts about their car. The zero to sixty times in real time, nice touch. The sound system that is only 2 cars, theirs and a Phantom. Their comparison of braking performance in that it bests a 5 series from BMW. As they say, the space of an S class at the price of a C class. How it corners better than an E55. Etc…the list goes on. And usually, I’m turned off by comparisons…your product should speak loudly on its own. But, they actually don’t mind admitting that, yeah…its a Hyundai, and their previous brand image is that of ‘cheapness’...not even affordable, just simply cheap. They do so at the end of the commercial called ‘Twist’ (see the site). They don’t mention the name Hyundai at all in the commercial until the end…at its presented as the ‘twist’ itself…as in, ‘yeah, this is surprising, we know’. Their whole spin on this entire car is that its probably so affordable, yet so luxurious that its in a class by itself and its simply the best option. And to be honest, I think they did a pretty good job. Other’s in their arena have tried, and it usually comes off forced…not so much with this Genesis. Will I buy one…hmm, honestly probably not. But I’m not a huge fan of cars anyway.