“It’s a pen I want, not Le pen” #JesuisCharlie

#jesuisCharlie

My artistic contribution following the Charlie Hebdo massacre. #JeSuisCharlie
BTW The image of the boy on the right was derived from Calvin & Hobbes. See the Gawker story of its origin. The fountain pen is a gorgeous Classic Pens LB2 Kimono Daichi (from Collectors Weekly). These Maki-e pens are hand-painted in Japan with a gold and lacquer process.

black_ribbon #jesuisCharlie

 

Here is a second cartoon: “Rather Draw than Withdraw

BBC Oops – the irritating rise of websites that… cc @BBCNews

I was intrigued by the BBC OOOPS this morning!

Words and images that catch the eye

The BBC’s front page this morning has an intriguing side story (in the far right column): “OOPS, the irritating rise of websites talking to you like a friend.”  Find it?  Well, when you click on it, you get… (see below).

BBC front page oops, The Myndset Digital Marketing

Ooops, I missed again

Here is a a close up of the H3 title

BBC oops, The Myndset Digital Marketing

404

And the link goes to a 404 (“page not found”)!  And I sincerely thought it was a joke. Ooops, is right!

BBC 404, The Myndset Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy

Fortunately, the tone and timbre of this 404 didn’t sound like they were trying to be my friend.  But, seriously, don’t you find it irritating when a link goes to a 404 page?  If the BBC can get such things wrong, just imagine the amateurs.  Of course, in this case, I consider it a rather funny error, so I chose to blog it.

UPDATE AT 9:03AM (28 Jan 2013)

The 404 has been now fixed.  You can now visit the real Ooops article if you are interested!    The section I liked best about this peice on the rise of unwanted and OTT familiarity (which I agree can be rather ‘grating’ at times):

“Computers were like bouncers. You were the three-sheets-to-the-wind punter swaying glassy-eyed in front of them pleading to continue. They remained impassive saying, “I don’t have to give you a reason. You’re not going into that file and that’s that.”

That’s the funny thing.  The internet is becoming deeply personal.  It is difficult to remain impassive in front of your computer these days!  And for marketers (and digital marketing in particular), brands need to know how to interface with each one of us according to our whims and mores if they want to “connect” with us.  Alternatively, you pick a style that suits your community and those that don’t like it, shove it.  Now, there’s a familiar term!

Funny Video: Have Glass, Will Squash. Remi Gaillard the prankster

Mario Kart a la Remi Gaillard

Not heard of Rémi Gaillard? If so, the chances are that is because you still only believe in mainstream media (MSM), i.e. you watch television, read newspapers and surf only the established sources on line.

Rémi happens to be the most watched humorist in the world — and that is ONLY on line. A comedian-hooligan-prankster from Montpellier, France, Rémi is a rampantly anti-mainstream media comedian.   But, he definitely has the internet working for him. Continue reading

Love to laugh – Why we should all be doing more of it!

I love to laugh!

Don’t we all? Trouble is, as we grow older, the opportunities to belly ache, hoot and laugh out loud seem to diminish. It is said that kids on average will laugh 80 – 100 times in a day. Little children can laugh up to 400 times in a day. From Sixwise, in an article that discusses how to reduce stress (always necessary), there is a section on the benefits of laughing.

“By the time we reach adulthood, we laugh only 5-6 times per day. You only need to watch children to appreciate the relationship between humor and enjoying life. Children will laugh at anything! If you ask them, ‘what’s so funny,’ they may say something like, ‘he looked at me!’ says Barbara Bartlein, R.N., M.S.W., a motivational speaker and consultant.” [BTW I also particularly like tip #15: To drive courteously. Isn’t there enough stress without having obnxious, selfish and dangerous drivers on the road?]

Calvin & Hobbes LaughterThere are apparently many purported health benefits to laughing, including helping to heal cancer & depression. From Nurses Together, laughter apparently also “lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, improves lung capacity, massages internal organs, increases memory and alertness, reduces pain, improves digestion, and lowers the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenalin.” And, here is a recent study (April 17 2009) as reported by Health on the Net (HON), saying that laughter increases good cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart attacks for diabetics. Bascially, laughter would seem to be the panacea for many ailments; maybe we should all be prescribed tickets to see hilarious theatre?

One of the downfalls of smiling and laughter is the creasing of the face (evidently not appreciated if you have had plastic surgery, for example). The wrinkles that mark time on our faces also carry the history of how much we may have spent laughing and smiling as opposed to frowning and smirking. I would be easily led to believe that those who know how to laugh liberally tend to have a more positive outlook on life. On another level, for those whose humour involves self-derision, there is an equally appreciable sense of humility. Different from comedians who have the knack of helping us laugh, I am just more likely to gravitate toward those who are given to laugh, without shame. BTW, did you ever stop to consider if having a sense of humour refers more to the ability to make people laugh or the ability to laugh oneself? In effect, a sense of humour is about both per dictionary.com: “The trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous…” In either case, it is a wonder you never see “own a sense of humour” on the CV.

So, in an effort to increase those smile wrinkles, to bring a smile to your face, and even encourage you to laugh, not just now as you watch, but every hour of ever day, here below is a five point bulletin designed to set your course straight and wiggly.

First, the classic from Mary Poppins, written By the Sherman Brothers (1964).

2/ Ok, Mary Poppins doesn’t make you laugh necessarily, but it sets the stage for a good smile. Now to do some laughing. Here is 1″40 of sheer enjoyment.

A good followup act is here with this little kid that has a funny, deep laugh. Just being around carefree babies is enough to bring smiles to all in proximity (although the parent may at times gain immunity!)

3/ Try this laughter yoga video, hosted by John Cleese. You can find out if and where Laughter Yoga clubs are near you at LaughterYoga.org. We had one dinner party where we began the dinner by all laughing for 10 minutes. Made for a super energy for the rest of the meal.

4/ I invite you to pop over to watch a short video podcast from ABC, broadcasting a report by the BBC, about the contagiousness of laughter. Watching a few babies giggling is bound to break out a smile. Visit here.

5/ And, fifth, I am glad to report that there is an official Global Belly Laughter day which happens to be my son’s birthday: January 24th. May every day be January 24th.

To close out this post on laughter, here is a wonderful Laughing and Smiling Oath:

The Laughing Oath
I do solemnly swear from this day forward
To grease my giggling gears each day
And to wear a grin on my face for no reason at all!
I promise to tap my funny bone often,
With children, family, friends, colleagues and clients,
And to laugh at least fifteen times per day.
I believe that frequent belly laughter
Cures terminal tightness, cerebral stiffness,
And hardening of the attitudes,
And that HA HA often leads to AHA!
Therefore, I vow, from this day forth,
To brighten the day of everyone I meet,
And to laugh long and prosper.
from:
The Laughing Classroom
by Diana Loomans and Karen Kolberg

Have a GREAT and LAUGH-FILLED day!

In case you didn’t know about the Woman with the Longest Nails in the World

Lee Redmond Longest Nails in the WorldA woman, named Lee Redmond, with longest nails in the world suffered a bad car accident over the weekend and lost all her nails.  It is hard to imagine, but she had not cut her nails since 1979.  The combined total length was nearly 9 metres, with the longest a thumb nail at 90cm.  The Guinness Book of World Records will need to find her successor.  (The GBWR site doesn’t allow you to search for more details).

Apparently, Ms Redmond was not the only Salt Lake City long nailed woman.  Here is another “famous” SLN (Salt Lake Nail, as opposed to SNL) case:  Barbara Wing Long Nails.  And there is quite an underworld in the long nail community — whose existence had completely skipped my attention previously.  Read here for more of the famous women, long in the nail.

Not sure that Chanel is ready to switch ad campaigns just yet, but points for originality.  All the same, I hope that Ms Redmond has a speedy recovery.  I am sure that the trauma of having normal-length nails will be hard to contend with: imagine the world of unexplored opportunities that will lie ahead of her, such as dialing the telephone herself, putting her fingers through the coffee mug handle, and so on…

You Started It! — Fawlty Towers and Wars Declared by US Presidents

You started it!

Series 1 Episode 6 – The Germans, Fawlty Towers
—————————————-
When Sybil is out of action in hospital, Basil is left to cope with his shabby hotel (in Torquay) in her absence. What could go wrong when there’s a fire drill scheduled, a moose’s head to hang and a party of German tourists due? Quite a lot really, but it will all be fine as long as… you don’t mention the war.

Many people quote “The Germans” as their favourite episode of Fawlty Towers and, while I would pick another (The Rat), those sequences between Mr Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) and the German tourists are certainly among the most memorable of the series.

Direct quotes from this episode:

Basil [who keeps making Freudian slips about the war]: Is something wrong?
German Guest: Will you stop talking about the war?
Basil: Me? You started it! [referring to WWII]
German Guest: We did not start it. [referring to the conversation about the war]
Basil: Yes you did, you invaded Poland.

Speaking of starting it, I was challenged in a conversation a little while back as to which political party in the US was more responsible for starting wars. The supposition was that the Republican hawks were more prone to engage in war than the Democrats. When I mentioned a few top of mind wars (WWI, WWII, Korea…) as having a Democratic president at the outset of the war, it led me to investigate further. In the last 38 years, each significant engagement/war has indeed been started by Republican presidents (you also have to bear in mind that a Republican president has been in office 28 of those 38 years).

There should be at least four qualifiers before attempting to come to a conclusion. (1) What would be more interesting perhaps is to look at which party was dominating Congress at the times when the meaty decisions/approvals were made… (2) A second consideration is whether the war can be judged to have been a “good” or “necessary” war. (3) What was the outcome? And (4), who was responsible for carrying out and/or ending the war?

Anyway, I have put together a list of most the more significant wars since the 19th century (and I have chosen to include all the recent wars). A more rigourous and comprehensive study would have to go into all the wars (definition of “war” needing to be clarified). I have not touched the wars with the Indians for example. The list of all military wars/engagements involving the USA has been made over on Wikipedia here. In any event, if you look at the associated presidents below, it is not exactly conclusive as to which party is more likely to declare war.

War of 1812
Begun and ended 1814 by James Madison (Democratic Republican, precursor of Democratic Party ironically)

Mexican-American War 1846-1848
Started and ended by James Polk (D)

Spanish-American 1898

Started and ended by McKinley (R)

Philippine-American War 1899
Started and ended by McKinley (R)

WWI 1914-1918
Started and ended by Woodrow Wilson (D) who declared war on Germany in April 1917

WWII 1939-1945
Started under Roosevelt (D) 1941
Ended under Truman (D) 1945

Korea 1950-53
Started and ended by Truman (D)

Vietnam
Started officially in 1959 under Eisenhower (R)
Escalation under JF Kennedy (D)
War ended by Nixon (R)

Invasion of Grenada 1993 under Reagan (R)

Persian Gulf War 1990-1991
Started and ended by Bush Sr (R)
(note bombing of Iraq in 1993 by Clinton)

Afghanistan Invasion 2001-
By Bush Jr (R)

Iraq or Second Gulf War 2003…
Started by Bush Jr (R)

The only conclusion I feel like making is that, despite all the civilizing that we human beings have been doing, the net net is that military conflicts, whether borne of need for power, zeal or fear, are an ugly and consistent part of our existence. And, for sure, there are necessary wars. If the world were run by women, would it be entirely different? Female Presidents, Prime Ministers, Queens and Empresses throughout the ages have been known or associated with wars (see here for a list frm womenhistory.com). Solutions to avoid an escalation in wars would include heightened education, international integration and, most importantly, increased prosperity. However, given the current and foreseeable economic crises and the hardships and pressures that will inevitably arise, it would seem more likely that we are in store for more conflicts than less in the near future. And, that’s when I take refuge in Fawlty Towers, and return to viewing Manuel being clobbered on the head about his Siberian Hamster [aka rat].

Your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Spamalot Monty Python Review NYC

Monty Python Spamalot on BroadwayQuick Review of Monty Python’s Spamalot on Broadway, NYC

Spam, spam, spam, bacon & spamalot – internet emails meet On Broadway ?

While in New York, my wife and I had a 4th July evening to ourselves (celebrating our independence) and decided to hit Broadway. Our choice: Spamalot at the Shubert Theatre, NYC. It was a gamble. On the one hand, I am a die hard Monty Python fan (and my kids are fast joining the band) ; on the other hand, such British humour was likely to be difficult for Yendi, my French wife (although her English is fully fluent).

Directed by Mike Nichols and based on a book by original MP star Eric Idle, Spamalot features an entirely new score (by John Du Prez and Eric Idle). Running since March 2005, it has won three Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical of the 2004–2005 season.

The irony of the play was that it was a hit with my wife and less so for me. The story is fun and certainly is loyal to spirit of the mythical 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. The tagline says that Spamalot is “(lovingly) ripped off from the motion picture.” However, Spamalot is also a substantially watered down version of Monty Python humour, replete with wildly « easy » moments. Among the more « interesting » moments, however, was the song entitled, “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” that features the line « You just won’t succeed on Broadway, If you don’t have any Jews! » How true — especially in New York.

Wikipedia comments on the views of the original MP team with a wide array of opinions. Cleese, who gave his voice to God in Spamalot, apparently was favourable. However, Terry Jones who co-directed film with Gilliam, said in an interview with Entertainment News, “Spamalot is utterly pointless. It’s full of air… Regurgitating Python is not high on my list of priorities.” Evidently, there was also a feeling of bitterness regarding the unshared commercial success (to Eric Idle’s benefit).

Plabill spoof – a highlight

Meanwhile, the Spamalot Playbill features a surprising hoax section, where all the normal information is transliterated into a Finnish version of the musical (“Finns Ain’t What They Used To Be”). Particularly impressed by the EVP, Vlad the Impaler Wankel. This part of the Playbill was apparently written by Michael Palin (who gave the musical a less-than-positive review himself). The Finnish section also advises “Patrons are asked not to smoke or speak Swedish in the theatre. Please use cell phones whenever possible.”

Spamalot is currently also running in London, Las Vegas and Melbourne (where it is apparently flopping), with a Spanish version in the works. Clearly, it is doing well — bringing a “democratic version” of Monty Python to the masses. And, there is some kind of international competition — verified by the Guinness Book of World Records — on the world’s largest coconut orchestra. The new record was set when 5,567 people, led by the cast from the London production, along with the two Terrries (Jones and Gilliam), armed with coconuts performed “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” in Trafalgar Square. Will the folks down go nuts enough to break the latest record?

In an era of changing and updating the initial film, I missed the opportunity to link the spam skit to the internet spam.

Overall, I give Spamalot a notawholelot rating and a 2.5/5.0 star review. Anyone else have an opinion to share?

For a few reviews: try New York Times, Popwatch Blog (some good comments), and a fun blog called Dressing.

Life in the Fast Lane and Hooters

Eagles Life in the Fast LaneI would like to share with you with a little thought today.

There used to be a time when I thought it desirable to live life in the fast lane. What does that mean? Well, by my understanding it means living with time whizzing by, memories blurring, names & faces forgotten and years merging into decades. Surely, going to lose your mind… Oops, might have plagiarized that from somewhere (call it my Eagle eye).

Now, for many of us, life in the parking lot seems to be all we canHooters Girls Calendar 2008 handle. Between having to crane your neck (it’s so stiff) around as you reverse in the ever smaller spaces and watching out for the piping hot coffee in your lap, while answering the cell phone and inserting your earpiece and, simultaneously, turning down your music… life in the parking lot is sometimes as fast you might want life to be.

Then again, life in the odd lane might be the more fitting route these days. The search for the rarity and the personality. I came across this charming site, typically Canadian in a way, Life In the Fast Lane.ca. And what is quirky in this “Life in the Fast Lane” post is that everyone is walking with heavily laden horses to visiting the Hukuo Waterfalls of the Yellow River in China. And while I’m at it (nice one Deborah), here is a hoot: The new Hooters Calendar 2008. I attach this month’s oogle hooter to ogle.

In terms of riding in the fast lanes in cities, it does seem that the special bus or taxi lane is getting slower every year. As much as the traffic jams get worse, the fast lane slows down too. In large part, that is because there are too many deliveries and odd obstacles in the special lane, not enough police patrolling of the civilian infiltrators and, finally, because the special lane must Happy Easter Chick 2008merge with the plebeian (normal) lanes all too frequently. Enough to say, that life in the fast lane isn’t what it used to be, certainly not what it is cracked up to be and should be fastened onto memory lane, so that we can,–slowly and deliciously–enjoy our every day at the speed we can handle.

If you are needing a mundane definition of the idiom: try here: life in the fast lane.

Now back to my piping hot coffee. Have a great day. Oh yes, and Happy Easter 2008. (Don’t mind the Easter Chick).