It’s been a pretty eventful week.
For the past year, I’ve been using a Samsung Chromebook (see my review) as my primary computer. When it comes to computing, I mostly write using word processors, browse the web, and watch the occasional YouTube video. Overall, it wasn’t very intensive stuff. However, before I got my Chromebook, I’d been using a MacBook Pro circa 2010 — actually the second Mac computer I’ve owned — since my final year of undergrad. I had loved my first Mac, but I loved my MacBook Pro even more.
It was a total workhorse, able to handle any and every task I threw at it. My MacBook Pro continued to serve me well as I progressed through grad school and eventually returned home. Unfortunately, the screen went out after about three to four years of heavy use, remaining black even when the computer was turned on. I’m not sure if it happened on its own or if maybe it was damaged during one of my moves — the more I think about it, the more I think it’s the latter — but rather than spending several hundred for a new screen in an older computer, I decided I’d get a new MacBook Pro when I could.
It’s been about 14 months since my MacBook Pro died and I can finally, happily report that I’ve procured another. Just two days ago, I picked up a new MacBook Pro that’s a tad small than my old 15-inch MacBook Pro, but several years newer with significantly better specs in a sleeker, thinner chassis.
One of the first things I did after setting up my new MacBook Pro was download and install Adobe Creative Suite CS4. It may not be the new CS6 version that’s currently available, but there aren’t that many new features between CS4 and CS6 — that’s what I’ve read anyway — and this means I’ll have all those awesome, powerful programs at my disposal without having to pay anything for them. I’d say that’s a double-win.
In true Apple fashion, this MacBook Pro is an incredible piece of machinery. Unlike how virtually every Windows computer is made of cheap plastic that creaks when you use it, the MacBook Pro is made from a single piece of aluminum. The craftsmanship is simply impeccable. I must admit that I haven’t used Mac’s OS X since Mountain Lion, but El Capitan seems to have incorporated a few iOS characteristics here and there. As a former iOS user, I appreciate that touch of familiarity. I’ll be doing a full review of my new MacBook Pro in the very, very immediate future, but I just wanted to take a moment to gush a little bit.
On another note, this week has been eventful for a very different reason, one that’s very saddening: Late on Sunday, January 10, 2016, rock icon David Bowie died of cancer a mere two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his 25th studio album Blackstar.
David Bowie has been widely known for his theatricality, usually associated with the glam rock movement in the 1970s, which is when his androgynous alien alter-ego Ziggy Stardust emerged. At turns, he’s been credited as an innovator in music, fashion, and pop culture. Over the course of his lengthy career, Bowie pushed the boundaries of music and challenged himself to experiment with a variety of sounds — funk, classical, electronic, art rock, art pop, experimental, and so on — resulting in a very diverse discography. In fact, Bowie received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in February 2008 for his decades-long, awe-inspiring career.
You might even say Bowie was like a phoenix, repeatedly shedding his exoskeleton and emerging as something completely new. His constant reinventing and innovating can be seen in decades of his music. He introduced mainstream audiences to Philadelphia funk, Japanese fashion, German electronica, the merging of rock riffs with the heavy drum beats of dance music (“Krautrock”), and Mick Jagger-esque “plastic soul”. Often imitated but totally inimitable, some of Bowie’s most well-known and beloved hits include “Changes”, “Heroes”, “The Man Who Sold the World”, “Space Oddity”, “Life On Mars?”, “Lady Grinning Soul”, “Let’s Dance”, “Ziggy Stardust”, “Rebel Rebel”, “Diamond Dogs”, “Ashes to Ashes”, “Under Pressure”, and countless others in addition to his more recent work.
Eighteen months ago, David Bower was diagnosed with liver cancer, which he chose to keep to himself. Despite his illness, he continue working, including preparing Blackstar, which was to be his farewell and finale. Over time, he became unable to make it to his rehearsals and only those who were closest to the star knew what was coming. Then late on Sunday, January 10, 2016, David Bowie died peacefully while surrounded by his loved ones.
I’ve gone through several Bowie phases in my life, periods when I’ll rediscover some of his greatest music and be unable to get enough of it. For me, there’s always been something incredibly enigmatic about David Bowie, perhaps a little otherworldly. You can also see the influence that he’s had on other artists, even recent ones like Lady Gaga, who frequently credit Bowie as one of their musical inspirations. One thing many attribute to Bowie is bringing a certain sophistication and theatricality to rock music, bringing the glam during a time when rockers were unpolished with rips in their jeans and dirt under their fingernails.
It’s certainly a shame that David Bowie has passed, but he’s leaving behind a rather impressive legacy. There are few others who compare to the impact Bowie had on pop culture as a whole and music in particular. From his studio recordings to live performances, you could always count on David Bowie to bring the glamour and theatricality.
Bowie will surely be missed.
In other news, I recently finished a rather lengthy piece about the upcoming film Captain America: Civil War. It was intended to be a roundup of all the facts and information that’s been provided or leaked in recent months as well as some set photos, information about the storyline in the comics, possible outcomes of the film, and a thorough breakdown of the trailer.
I’ve got a few tentative ideas for new articles and some cool pieces in the works, which I’m hoping to publish in the next week or so. My time is getting more and more limited these days, especially since I’ve bitten off a few web development and coding courses from Udemy, but I’m actually really really excited about them. And Michael was saying the other day how he’d like to go to the movies soon, so I’ll probably have a movie review sometime soon as will.
That’s about all the info and news I have for today. I’m still just really stunned that David Bowie has died. Even being nearly 70, it’s always shocking for such a contemporary pop culture icon to suddenly become a legacy and part of history. I hope that everyone’s year is off to a great start, and stay tuned for lots of awesome content in the days and weeks to come.