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Verge Favorites: Michael Shane

The Verge staffers aren't just people who love technology. They're people who love stuff. We spend as much time talking and thinking about our favorite books, music, and movies as we do debating the best smartphone to buy or what point-and-shoot has the tightest macro. We thought it would make sense to share our latest obsessions with Verge readers, and we hope you're encouraged to share your favorites with us. Thus a long, healthy debate will ensue where we all end up with new things to read, listen to, or try on.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L

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The professional Nikon camera bodies can see in the dark. They’re practically indestructible, and they can shoot like gatling guns. But they can’t use Canon’s finest glass, the L series primes. I’ve been shooting a lot with the 35mm f/1.4 L over the past few months, and it’s single-handedly ensured that I won’t be jumping ship anytime soon. When you put great glass on a great Canon body (like the 5D Mark II), there’s something about the images that just sings. The files are more organic and feel more malleable in post. Glass like the 35mm prime transforms a camera from a tool into an instrument, and that makes all the difference.

Rush — Clockwork Angels

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I catch a lot of flack for being a Rush fan. Most Rush fans do. But whatever you think of their virtuosic, multi-sectional, science fiction-infused prog rock odysseys, it’s tough to deny the trio’s staggering musicianship. With Clockwork Angels, the band returns to its prog rock roots: the concept album. The album tells the story of a young man’s quest through a "world of steampunk and alchemy, with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life." Clockwork Angels is at once contemplative and soaring, and while the mastering is admittedly unimpressive, the music-making remains peerless. If you’ve had enough of the monotony of common time and auto tune, spend an hour with Geddy, Alex, and Neil, and let them recalibrate your sonic barometer with a bias towards awesome.

Adventurebilt Hat Company Fedora

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The brown fedora worn by Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark is an iconic piece of headwear. I mention only the first Indiana Jones movie because fans like me – fans who are also nerds – notice that the hats in Temple of Doom and Last Crusade just weren’t quite the same. Dissatisfied with the Indy fedoras available on the market, Steve Delk started the Adventurebilt Hat Company as a one man operation that catered to an exacting group of fans, mostly through the internet. When the time came for Doctor Jones to return to theaters in Crystal Skull, Delk’s fedora was cast as the second most important character in the film. Steve makes every single hat from scratch by hand. It takes months. You could have an Indy fedora or you could have the Indy fedora. I don’t see much of a choice.

Crumpler Local Identity Bag

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When I was a kid, I dreamed of having one of those metal briefcases that people in the movies fill with money. Not because of the money – I just really liked the briefcase. These days I need a gear bag that’s just as rugged, but a bit more flexible. I use the Local Identity, made by Crumpler. The backpack weighs little but is hardy and durable. It’s got a laptop sleeve and an inner compartment that can be configured two ways. Multiple access points are key for me, and the heavy duty zipper, sturdy clasps, and folded design make it tough against the elements. I also love the subtle science fiction style. It stands up to all the punishment New York City has to offer and still looks great.

Samsara

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Samsara is a film comprised solely of moving images and music, without characters or a traditional narrative. It’s the newest addition to a genre that’s perhaps best known for Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi. The films’ common link is Ron Fricke, who was the cinematographer for Koyaanisqatsi and directed Samsara. Fricke’s latest work is one of only a few films shot on 70mm film in the past forty years, and the visuals are nothing short of uncanny. Highlights include unbelievable timelapse sequences shot on a rig built specifically for the movie and so much dynamic range that you may see photographers weeping in the aisles. And although there’s no narrative, there is definitely a story. Oh, and did I mention that the film pays homage to one of the most viewed viral videos of all time? Now you’re interested.

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