As Far As I Can Tell

Paris, I love you

Paris, je t'aime Movie Poster
On Friday I saw the film Paris, je t’aime (Paris, I love you) at the local Manor Theater a few blocks from my apartment. Although I didn’t realize it at the time the American premiere was also in town a few months ago at the University of Pittsburgh.

The movie is made up of 18 autonomous short stories created by a different directors with different actors. Each represents an arrondissement of Paris (there were a full 20 but two were cut) and are thematically tied together by place and the theme of love. The result is actually quite wonderful and not as jumbled or tiresome as one might expect. The time constraint placed on each director seemed to focus them on making a singular point well, with the bulk of character details left for the viewer to fill in. Like the best short stories, most of the vignettes started in the middle and ended with enough ambiguity for a discussion of possible futures.

Paris, je t’amie plays well within the current trend of micro-format media. These stories would truly work well as a video podcast and I can image watching one per day during a morning commute. The length of each story is similar to the user generated videos on YouTube but the narrative quality and production values remind me more of the advertising experiment The Hire, where BMW commissioned well known directors to create short films staring their cars but with few other constraints. For this film the assignment seemed similarly loose: use the backdrop of a great city to explore the complexity of love between people and with their surroundings.

It’s not a wide release in theaters so look for this one on DVD and if the directors are smart perhaps someday as individual story downloads on iTunes.



Chicago to Pittsburgh on one tank of gas

Last week we were in Chicago to find an apartment and ended up with a great duplex near Damen and Division in Wicker Park. It’s the second and third floor of a coach house with two bathrooms and four (!) entryways. We looked at lots of places but most seemed like college crash pads, trashed by the previous tenets with liquor bottles and filth everywhere. Finally, the second to last place on our list was an apartment we could picture ourselves living in.

We also bought a new car, a first for me since I’ve had pick-up trucks since I was 15. Our reasons for switching included wanting to haul friends more than stuff, easy parking, and fuel efficiency. The last one was a key point for us not only on economic terms ($3.90/g for gas in Chicago) but for our environmental conscious. The only car that made sense was the Prius and luckily it’s not only the most fuel efficient car in America but has some fun ways of interacting with it as well. The key is RFID-based so you can keep it in your pocket and just press a button to start the car, the doors unlock automatically for you, it has Bluetooth integration so we can make phone calls hands free from our cell phones, and a touch screen handles all car controls so the dash isn’t cluttered.


The core feature of the car, the hybrid engine system, is even more impressive than I expected. We drove from Chicago to Pittsburgh, nearly 500 miles, on a single tank of gas. It shows you what MPG the car is achieving in real time as you drive so you can begin to learn how to drive in the most fuel efficient way. That gauge is a key part of the Prius innovation since it begins to teach behavior change instead of just acting as a technological cure-all.

I really love this car; you can see more photos on Flickr.



Hey, welcome back! I used to live near Damen/Division too, what a nice corner of the WP.

Posted by: Craig on June 7, 2007 8:49 PM

I like that you accentuate the extremely geeky features in the justification of buying a car. Sure, it’s fuel-efficient but it’s also has BLUETOOTH. I’m kind of interested to see the long-term security of the RFID key system considering they can capture those signals by walking around and searching for them. In fact, I plan on doing so when you pick me up from the airport tomorrow. I wonder what the gas mileage will be like from Pitt to Philly. I’ll be sure let you know.

Posted by: jake on June 8, 2007 9:51 AM

Hooray hooray! I cannot think of a more suitable car for you to buy. I hope you two develop a great relationship with it. And also - hooray hooray! You’re coming back! We’re very excited at the prospect of seeing you more often. Don’t hesitate to call us if you need help on moving day.

Posted by: andrea! on June 18, 2007 1:15 PM

Nice. I tell you what… if you ever rent a car and they try to offer you a Dodge Caliber… refuse it. This Transformer-esque piece of crap is the worst gas-guzzling four-banger I’ve ever set ass to seat in. The only thing that was even slightly appealing about it was the color. Word on the street. Kalamazoo will be a ghost town by the end of the year.

Posted by: e_prime on June 19, 2007 9:06 AM

awesome! i drove all the way to toronto from chicago on one tank when i had my beetle TDI—i thik i got 550 miles on that tank! diesel burns hella dirty, though.

Posted by: jim on June 21, 2007 1:27 AM

Hi Simon. Every now and then I check in on my former classmates. Congrats on the great new job, car and moving to Chicago. I miss the big city sometimes, but Montana is pretty awesome too. Good luck! Big ups to Wicker Park. It’s my old hood. Sara (Russell)

Posted by: Sara on July 24, 2007 4:24 PM

Wisdom from Sagmeister

I love watching TED Conference sessions while easting my breakfast and this morning I ran across Stefan Sagmeister’s talk from 2004 entitled Yes, design can make you happy. He discusses other people’s projects that have made him happy but also shares some insights in the form of lists that are worth repeating here.

His first list is a distillation of what he likes about his job, what he strives to do more of in his professional life:

  • Thinking about ideas and content freely, with the deadline far away.
  • Working without interruption on a single project.
  • Using a wide variety of tools and techniques.
  • Traveling to new places.
  • Working on projects that matter to me.
  • Having things come back from the printer well done.

I interpret the last point broadly as being satisfied with with quality of your finished product. He also shared a longer list taken from his personal diary of the lessons he has learned so far in his life:

  • Complaining is silly. Either act of forget.
  • Thinking life will be better in the future is stupid, I have to live now.
  • Being not truthful works against me.
  • Helping other people helps me.
  • Organizing a charity group is surprisingly easy.
  • Everything I do always comes back to me.
  • Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.
  • Over time I get used to everything and start taking it for granted.
  • Money does not make me happy.
  • Traveling alone is helpful for a new perspective on life.
  • Assuming is stifling.
  • Keeping a diary supports my personal development.
  • Trying to look good limits my life.
  • Worrying solves nothing.
  • Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small does.
  • Having guts always works out for me.

Sagmeister has illustrated some of these lessons as magazine spreads and billboards, which can be seen in his Ping Magazine interview or SVA exhibition.



I don’t know why, but I’ve seen a number of these philosophies on life posts recently. I like a couple things above, mostly because I agree completely and either practice them or wish I did, especially, complaining is silly and worrying solves nothing. If only I could learn not to do either. I disagree with “trying to look good limits my life.” But maybe the problem is “trying.” Looking good tends to open up doors.

Posted by: Jamin on June 6, 2007 6:22 PM

As far as who can tell?

Chicago, IL

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