Friday, October 14, 2011

You have to see it to believe it

Say hello to my little friend.

The lion, the witch and the wardrobe? Nope.
The scarecrow, the tin man and the cowardly lion? Uh uh.
Clapton, Lennon and Richards?

Sneaky, sneaky Hitchock.

From the minds that brought you Star Wars, Ziggy Stardust and The Muppets comes...

Don't quit your day job, guys.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

You. In 160 characters or less.

Maundering around the web as I am wont to do, I happened upon these "best" Twitter bios. I had to share.

@DianaSilvaSays — I love my husband, my dogs, all things marketing, three-day weekends, high-heels, reading, running, knitting, sushi, wine, long walks on the beach…wait, what?

@badbanana — Sometimes I just want to give it all up and become a handsome billionaire.

@smuttysteff — I tweet hard, fast, & often. I’m opinionated & swear CONSTANTLY. Don’t like it? Don’t follow. Otherwise: You’ll take it & like it.

@katefettie — You know the burnt-out college student in front of you in line at Target who was intermittently chuckling to herself? Nice to meet you, too.

@ZacharyColbert — S P E C T A C U L A R V E R N A C U L A R

@bgibbs73 — Currently working towards an MBA with an emphasis in fantasy football.

@TheBloggess — I have friends in spite of myself.

@cubedweller — Brand igniter, angel investor, public speaker, former Virgin.

@jpundyk — Nice guys finish lunch.

@cryjack — Fight stupidization.

@HotAmishChick — Will show ankle for five minutes of wireless

@JeffCThorson — I recently gave up Warcraft so my productivity, and drinking, have increased dramatically.

@wanderingbiker — Unemployed computer guy takes off on his motorcycle seeking fame, fortune and adventure.

@howardgr — A man of mystery and power, whose power is exceeded only by his mystery.

@ohyesshecan — social strategy & implementation. will work for shoes.

@radmul — If I could sum up my life in one line I would die of embarrassment

@nancyfalls — I’m @JasonFalls’s wife. I am not on Twitter. Go do something useful.

@QueenRania — A mum and a wife with a really cool day job…

@Glinner — I apologise in advance.

@oilman — Recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend things.

@TheMadHat — Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with, and then the different branches of arithmetic — Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.

@AllisonBatof — Naturally and artificially flavoured

@RebeccaWoodcock — I am a sample size of one, not statistically significant, nor representative.

@KRCraft — An ounce of perception – a pound of obscure.

@EzraButler — I’m the illegitimate love-child of Strategy and Creativity. Now neither parent admits to having me…

@cshirky — Bald. Unreliable. Easily distracte

Culled from The 20 all-time funniest bios (parts 1&2) and 20 Twitter Bios that Demand Attention. Nicely done.

Oh, mine?

@AnswerG — Wait. I'm still thinking.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ah, yes, I remember it well

  • Him: We met at nine
  • Her: We met at eight
  • Him: I was on time
  • Her: No, you were late
  • Him: Ah, yes, I remember it well
(If you’ve never seen the movie, you can watch the clip here).

Has this ever happened to you?

You know you were with the Johnsons when you got food poisoning.

Your spouse knows you were with the Macintyres, and in fact you’ve never even had Chinese food with the Johnsons.

Fear not. According to Dr. Steve Dewhurst from Lancaster University, memories, it turns out, are not faithfully recorded in our minds as we like to think, but are “updated each time we bring them to mind to fit our current knowledge and beliefs.” Yep, that's right. Memory is mutable.

The book The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us — the title comes from the famous, and infamous, Gorilla Experiment (I won't tell you any more, you can try it for yourself here... it only takes a minute) — explores these “everyday illusions of perception and thought, including the beliefs that:

  • we pay attention more than we do,
  • our memories are more detailed than they are,
  • confident people are competent people,
  • we know more than we actually do,
  • and our brains have reserves of power that are easy to unlock.”
One of the authors puts it this way:
“we assume that when we recall a personal experience vividly; that the richness of our memory means it must be accurate. The idea that we can remember our experiences as if our brain were a camcorder is fundamentally wrong.”

So the next time you remember a different when, what, where or who than your husband, wife, father, sister, or son — try remembering this: you could both be wrong!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

2011 Without Steve Jobs?

Can you imagine the world without the iPod? The iPhone? iPad? Pretty weird, huh?

Most people under the age of 30 probably won’t believe this, but... Apple did not invent the portable music player. That would have been Sony, in 1979, with something called the “walkman." Nor did Apple invent the laptop, the tablet, or the cell phone. In the last 10 years, under CEO Steve Jobs’ leadership, it only seemed as though it did.

Last month, Steve Jobs announced his resignation from Apple, leaving a legacy of breathtaking design innovation and juggernaut market dominance. Instead of invention, Apple focuses on transformation, impacting our expectations as much as, if not more than, our capabilities. Apple didn't invent those consumer products, it's true — what it did do was redefine them.

Believe it or not, it was only 10 years ago, in 2001, that Steve Jobs introduced the very first iPod. Which, with an LCD screen, a click wheel and a whopping 5Gb of storage, retailed for $399. (FYI, the current iPod Classic comes with a full color screen and 160Mb of storage — and retails for $249.) While Sony brought us a miniature version of our same music experience, Apple gave us an entirely new music experience.

The iPod was simple, slick and — with the iTunes 99¢/song music store — so easy, my grandmother could use it. As Steve Jobs put it, “design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but here are what a few analysts and reporters had to say about the device (from at the time:

“An analyst at NPD Intelect said that the iPod… may have trouble digging out a niche in the market.”

“An IDC analyst said Apple may take some heat for entering the consumer electronics market, which typically has lower profit margins than Apple gets from its computers… but… It's another incentive for them that can convince people to buy a Mac.”

Let’s see. Dig out a market niche? Check. Lower profit margins? Hmm… not so much; it’s estimated that Apple makes close to 60 percent profit on each iPhone. As for convincing people to buy a Mac? That may be so, but as of 2010, the iPod and iPhone accounted for twice as much of Apple’s revenues than the entire Mac product line.

And so the iRevolution began.

Author and consultant Simon Sinek, in his presentation at the TED conference, talks about what makes Apple stand out. Apple, he says, doesn’t tell you they make computers and music players and cell phone — all of which look cool and work great. No, what Apple tells you is this: “Everything we do – we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. We just happen to make great computers (music players, cell phones). Wanna buy one?”

Apple may not be responsible for inventing the laptop, the tablet, or the cell phone, but Steve Jobs is responsible for changing our perspective and raising our expectations of how those things should work — for us.

Don't you have to write it to own it?

In a seeming triumph of culture over commerce... of high art over pop art... of the little guy over the big, bad mogul... author Chinua Achebe has succeeded in forcing rapper 50 Cent to change the title of his upcoming movie.

As reported last week in the culture blog, Vulture (and HuffPo and EW, etc.) the facts lay out as follows:

In 1958, Achebe wrote what is widely acknowledged as the most read African novel of all time, titled "Things Fall Apart."

In 2010, 50 Cent wrote, produced and financed a film directed by Mario Van Peebles, about a football player diagnosed with cancer, also titled "Things Fall Apart."

In 2011, Achebe's lawyers contacted 50 Cent to rename his movie prior to its release. In response, 50 Cent offered Achebe $1 million to be allowed to use the title. Mr. Achebe's legal team refused 50 Cent's offer, saying "the novel with the said title was initially produced in 1958 (that is 17 years before [50] was born). [It is] listed as the most-read book in modern African literature, and won't be sold for even £1bn."

This is the point at which 50 Cent agreed to rename his movie “All Things Fall Apart.”

Were I 50 Cent, rather than acquiesce, I might instead have replied to Achebe's representatives, "tread softly, because you tread on my dreams," and then gently reminded them that Chinua Achebe took his title from a William Butler Yeats poem, "The Second Coming":

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world...

I might have gone on to note that 50-some years ago, when Mr. Achebe's novel was about to be released, Yeats' legal team evidently declined to ask Mr. Achebe to re-title it, nor did they point out that "the poem with the said phrase was initially published in 1920 (that is 10 years before [Achebe] was born). It was written by one of the most venerable poets of the 20th century, and won't be sold for even £1tn."

"The worst are full of passionate intensity." Indeed.

(This post is dedicated to my big sister, who introduced me to Yeats, and to Achebe and Didion, and to a whole assortment of great authors — and who can recite this poem from memory.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Tale of 100 Movies

AFI's 100 Greatest Movies: The Story You Haven't Heard

It happened one night that Lawrence of Arabia went north by northwest, following Sullivan's travels until he reached Casablanca. Arriving before the last picture show aired on the network, he began to tell a few good fellas the west side story, which goes something like this:

On a dark and stormy night, the general, the graduate — even the godfather! — went singin' in the rain on the waterfront. Entranced by the sound of music under the city lights, the wild bunch opened a swing time cabaret, where they planned to mash the grapes of wrath and drink all night, eat venison delivered by the deer hunter and serve duck soup at two temperatures because some like it hot. But then, in the heat of the night, Tootsie arrived with news of the gold rush in Nashville — and suddenly, they were all gone with the wind.

All was not lost, as the searchers managed to keep Schindler's list up-to-date: according to reports, one flew over the cuckoo's nest when Sophie’s choice meant saving Private Ryan and letting the others go. The midnight cowboy flagged a taxi driver to head over the bridge on the river Kwai. Bonnie and Clyde, still unforgiven, escaped the deafening silence of the lambs and fled to Chinatown. The blade runner, not surprisingly, took the maltese falcon to kill a mockingbird. Shane was last seen riding away on a streetcar named desire, gazing out the rear window at Sunset Blvd. shimmering at sunrise. As for that psycho, Annie Hall — she gathered 12 angry men and a raging bull to go after the treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid spent a night at the opera, hoping for a toy story featuring the Wizard of Oz and the Lord of the Rings. The fellowship of the ring, sadly, turned out just to be some pulp fiction all about eve, so they returned to the apartment, where the African queen was reading the Philadelphia story. She swore the sixth sense let her see Snow White and the seven dwarves, but Dr. Strangelove insists there is no such thing — all she saw was some American graffiti.

Tomorrow at high noon, Mr. Smith goes to Washington to ask "who's afraid of Virginia Woolf bringing up baby?" Going there is just step one, according to the godfather, part 2 is getting double indemnity, so he can ask whatever he wants. Also in our nation’s capitol, all the president's men decided finally to let yankee doodle dandy become a citizen. Kane made the French Connection by reversing his nouns and adjectives and presenting the easy rider with a clockwork, orange. King Kong ate Jaws and apparently ET (the extra terrestrial) sent Rocky back 10 years to fight in the Star Wars. Last we heard he was suffering from vertigo and writing his memoir, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The raiders of the lost ark were going to do the right thing, of course, and take a platoon to save the Titanic, but Spartacus, still stinging from intolerance, announced "these modern times call for an apocalypse, now." Luckily, Ben-hur and Forrest Gump, fresh from the Shawshank Redemption, were able to dissuade him, convincing him it's a wonderful life and these are the best years of our lives.

If you don't believe me, here's a hint: 9, 20, 25, 14, 19, 13.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Look, Ma! No gravity

Superlatives are the most overused parts of speech around.

Best Buy. The Greatest Story Ever Told. Droid Incredible. America's Most Wanted. The Supreme Court. The Biggest Loser. The World's Fastest Indian. The Genius Bar.

Really? A whole bar of geniuses? C'mon.

But... The League of Extraordinary Dancers... are extraordinary. Don't believe me? Check out this video from their performance on So You Think You Can Dance. No strings. No trampolines. No wires. Just... dancers. Extraordinary dancers.

(Note: video. And no fooling, you really, really want to click here - or even here - if you can't see it)

What is The LXD? It's Step Up meets The Justice League. It's Heroes — except in this war of good vs evil, the superheros dance instead of fly. As The New York Times puts it, it's "Jerome Robbins for the hip-hop age."

Start with a dash of Gene Kelly, a sprinkle of Mikhail Baryshnikov, a skosh of Eleanor Powell, a pinch of Ann Miller, a generous helping of Fred Astaire, and a whole lot of Michael Jackson. In a separate era, blend hip-hop, acrobatics, break dance, tumbling and krump. Mix well and cast absurdly good-looking, really, truly, ridiculously talented dancers. Drop 8-minute episodes on the web once a week.

(Seriously. Who can do that?)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The things you can do today

Something about this picture tickled my fancy.

I wanted to share it, so I went looking for the original — I saw this one on (a great blog on writing for the web, by the by)...

...though I have to say the post on which this particular image was included, "How to Read a 291-page Book in Two Hours" isn't one of my faves... I mean a) 291 pages isn't all that long and 2) didn't we graduate from CliffNotes? If you want to read something, READ it... otherwise, go see the movie. Not that I feel strongly about it or anything.

As I was saying, I went looking for the original and found... this (on Flickr).

The same, yet not.

Crazy what the average joe can do to a photo these days. Tilt-shift, anyone?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Mrs. Doubtfire or Mr. Mom?

Hollywood has always had a soft spot for fathers. From Spencer Tracy in Father of the Bride to J.K. Simmons in Juno, dads on film have always held a special place in our hearts. Here are some of my faves:

5. For his endless imagination and unflagging determination to give his son a childhood in the face of formidable obstacles, Roberto Benigni’s father in Life is Beautiful really is a thing of beauty.

4. Whether he belongs on the best housekeeper list or best Dads list, Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire undoubtedly belongs on a Top 5 list somewhere. Willing to go to any lengths to be with his kids, he eventually triumphs, gaining not only his kids, but also his own TV show.

3. When your mom dies and you have to travel five thousand miles to live with your dad, you really hope he turns out to be like Fly Away Home’s Thomas. What other dad would not only let you adopt a flock of geese, but build you your very own Ultralight (painted like a mama goose, no less) to migrate your flock hundreds of miles south from Canada to North Carolina?

2. I have always had a soft spot for Leon in The Professional. Just goes to show biology isn’t everything. Then again, what hitman wouldn’t want to adopt an adolescent Natalie Portman?

1. Was there ever a better father than Atticus Finch, as portrayed by Gregory Peck? “Stand up Jean Louise, your father’s passing.” Stand up indeed.

Whatever real life might have in store for you, the good ol' silver screen always gives you something to dream about.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

35 million views - for a reason

One of my all time favorite commercials ever. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. Like forever and then some. (No, seriously, I really dig this ad.)

There is a video clip here and if you can't see it, you're really missing out if you don't click here to watch it.

Not a word is spoken and you never see his face. And yet...

One of the few car companies to make commercials worth watching. I guess the force is with them.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Greek Yogurt + Green Goblin + Dr. Seuss = Magic

This is what it's like if Willem Dafoe reads you bedtime stories.

(There's a video here. It's short. And, if you ask me, it's worth watching, so if you can't see it, click here.)

Thank you, Mullen (an agency in Boston) for this treat. Their own Brian Tierney (@BCTierney) wrote the copy.

Looking forward to seeing (and hearing) this ad again? Check.
Remember the product it's shilling? Check.
Spectacular? Check.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sundays are ad days

For me, commercials fall into two categories: "spectacular" and "not".

What, you say? What about the terrible? The awful, the egregious, the outrageously bad? Settle down, I'm with ya. That is, you see, the beauty of the word "spectacular"— could be spectacularly good or... not.

Sometimes it's a whole campaign, sometimes it's just one ad... but I find it fascinating how much money is spent on advertising, and how many sadly mediocre commercials are produced.

Because a spectacular fail is better than a "play it safe and bore 'em to death." Don't believe me? Do you remember what Bjork wore to the 2001 Academy Awards? Bet you do. How about Julia Roberts? Or Catherine Zeta-Jones? No? See? Spectacular fails can still be marketing successes (along the lines of that old chestnut: "no publicity is bad publicity").

Spectacular Sundays are born: my weekly personal homage to the Clio (or Razz) worthy. Don't all clap at once.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

God has another most beautiful angel

When Audrey Hepburn died, Elizabeth Taylor said, "God has a most beautiful new angel."

Elizabeth Taylor died this morning, and as my friend Amy would say, "that's some heck of a team God is putting together up there."

If you're not an old movie buff like moi, your idea of Liz Taylor is probably incomplete. Husbands out the yin yang, weight gain, weight loss, weight gain, pills, rehab, crazy hair. Perfume shiller. Maybe you even think of her as an AIDS research advocate and fund raiser extraordinaire.

Personally, she was also known for being an extraordinary friend. By all accounts, she saved Montgomery Clift's life after his car accident near her home, climbing through a back window because the doors were too mangled to open and reaching into his mouth to pull out loose teeth that were blocking his airway. She continued to care for him, renting a suite at the Chateau Marmont for his recovery and doing her part to see that he continued to work in Hollywood.

Indelibly linked to AIDS and AIDS research, she was inspired to campaign for the cause when another friend, Rock Hudson, announced he was suffering from the disease. Against the advice of friends and publicists, Elizabeth went ahead and became the face and voice for a disease that at the time, no one wanted even to discuss, let alone acknowledge the scale of the threat it posed.

Professionally, Elizabeth Taylor won two Academy Awards for acting (for "BUtterfield 8" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"). One of the last fixtures of "Old Hollywood," she was almost so un-really gorgeous, it's sometimes hard to see her performances past her face, but they're there. Everyone has their favorites, but for me, it's

National Velvet (I don't care, I love that movie)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Paul and Liz in the same movie? Need I say more?)
A Place in the Sun (when Montgomery Clift was almost as beautiful as Liz)
Suddenly, Last Summer (though really, it's Katherine Hepburn in that movie who is so riveting — can you say twisted and obsessed? Brrrrr.)
and Giant. Not because I should, but because I actually do. And also because in it, Dennis Hopper plays Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson's son. Who knew?
(By the way, the average RT score for those movies? 94.4. Nice going, Elizabeth.)

Albert Einstein said "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." Feels like Elizabeth Taylor was here not even a minute.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Caution: Keep crust away from flame

Wow. Talk about learning something new every day. I can't wait to try this trick.

In my search for the simplest pie crust recipe to make with the fabulous E, I found a new secret to flaky, sublime, no-fail pie crusts. Vodka.

Ya, no kidding. Vodka is evidently all that stands between you and the perfect crust. This trick comes straight from Chris Kimball's epicurean mouth itself, and while Cook's Illustrated may not be the source for exciting or sexy new recipes, it is for sure the resource for perfected versions of your tried-but-not-yet-so-true cooking staples. You know, like pie crust.

According to the folks over at The Kitchn, "this baked dough (we had some scraps we baked and ate immediately) was the tenderest, flakiest crust we'd ever used in a pie. Delicious! (And no taste of alcohol, in case you were wondering.)"

That's enough to make me want to bake a pie right now. Or at least the crust. Besides, the way I see it, if the pie doesn't turn out, at least you can still get your guests drunk. And then no one will care about the pie.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

You've seen the commercial, now see the original

Gene and Donald...
They're sitting.
They're dancing.
They're sitting.
They're dancing.
They're sitting AND they're dancing.

(Yep, video here. Like dance? Can't see the video? Click here, it's worth it.)

And... if you haven't seen the commercial:

(Another video - only 30 sec. Check it.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Q: what channel is Mike Tyson's TV show on?

A: Animal Planet.

I laughed so hard when I heard that, I fell off my couch. Because, really, what other channel would his show be on?

But it got me thinking... slightly tangentially, as per usual. I'm not a reality TV show fan, at all, but perhaps, if some of them were tweaked just a bit?

Announcing this season's all new Reality TV shows!

Survivor, starring Donald Trump, hosted by Donald Trump, and guest starring Donald Trump. Guess who's not getting voted off the island?

The Amazing Race
, with Sarah Palin. "It's not how far she gets... it's what happens along the way!" (With guest appearances by Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee).

The Biggest Loser
, hosted by Bill Maher and featuring Glenn Beck, Mel Gibson, Dr. Laura, John Galliano, Michael Vick and several surprise guests. "After years of being themselves, eight people begin a journey together to become people worth knowing."

Desperate Housewives
starring Mrs. Spitzer, Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Ensign, Mrs. Letterman, Mrs. Gibson, Mrs. Sanford, and Mrs. Woods, hosted by Jesse James.

Maybe reality TV isn't so bad, after all.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Form + Function: The Light Dawns

The good news is that this seriously good-looking light bulb is actually an eco-friendly little fellow, using 80% less electricity to produce the same amount of light as a conventional bulb, and lasting 8 times as long.

The bad news is that it's currently (ha!) only available in the UK. But reports indicate that it's coming to the US... soonest.

In the meantime, congratulations to "plumen 001" for winning UK's Design of the Year award.