Sunday, November 28, 2010

Life Without Limbs

I have times when everything seems like an uphill battle, and giving up on my dreams seems like the easiest option.  I think most of us have these.

That's why I think it's so important that people like Nick Vujicic are out there.  This is a man who was born without arms or legs, who wanted to commit suicide at the age of eight, who attempted it at the age of ten, but who's gone on to live an inspired life.  He has a degree, he plays sport, he's loved and lost.  He's now travels all over the world, giving talks about how anyone can take control of their lives.

I think it's his ability to laugh at his own disability is the reason he speaks to me.  I don't feel like he's trying to guilt me into feeling grateful for what I have.  He just shows me that it's never too late to achieve our full potential, or find meaning in life.

See for yourself.

Friday, November 26, 2010

National Geographic Photo Competition 2010

National Geographic's Annual Photo Competition is taking place again, and this article from 'The Big Picture' gives a selection of the favourite images so far.  Amazing stuff.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pale Man versus No-Headed Princess

You can't beat a good monster, and from the first time I saw "Pan's Labyrinth", I thought the Pale Man scene was one of the creepiest, and most original, in movie history.

But after randomly watching the 1985 film "Return to Oz", I'm not so sure.  Are these scenes similar or is it just me?

Stranger things have happened than a macabre film director being influenced by a Disney film!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rondò Veneziano "La Serenissima"

I absolutely love this little tune (and music video) from Rondò Veneziano.  They're an Italian chamber orchestra that play Baroque-period music, but fuse traditional instruments with synthesizers, bass guitar and drums. 

This song, "La Serenissima", was released as a single in 1983, but was later featured on an album compiled by the "Venice in Peril" Fund (a charity established to protect art and architecture in Venice against rising sea levels).  I'm assuming this is why the surreal music video features robots being submerged by water. 

Whatever the reason - it's unique and cool... and pre- Daft Punk!  Enjoy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Talk to Me (short documentary)

A man makes a documentary about his life by using voice messages left for him over a twenty year period.

When asked in an interview what the biggest lesson he learnt from making the film was, Mark Craig replied "Life's short, and nothing stays the same for long."

This made me cry.

Talk to me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


A few years ago on youtube I stumbled upon 'Alice' - a song entirely composed of sounds from the Disney film 'Alice in Wonderland'.  It was one of those moments where you feel you're experiencing something special.

Looking at his work is not only inspiring from a creative standpoint.  In these times of copyright/pirate warfare, Pogo seems to be giving massive corporations the finger, and getting away with it!  Read on...

Pogo (Nick Bertke) is an electronic music artist living in Perth, Western Australia. He creates music by taking chords, bass notes and vocal samples from a film, and sequencing the sounds together.  This sampling-and-remixing method of making music was first made popular in the 90's by House music producer and UK Garage influence Todd Edwards, but Pogo brought a new dimension to it by creating awesome electronic tunes from children's cartoons.

'Alice' is his most famous track (it's gotten nearly 5,000,000 views on YouTube) and since then Pogo has worked his way through the Disney films, producing tracks from 'Mary Poppins', 'The Sword in the Stone', 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang', and most recently 'Snow White' ('Wishery').

Interestingly, off the back of this "plagiarism", Disney/Pixar, contacted him and commissioned him to compose a track from their film 'Up'.  The condition was that he remove his previous Disney mixes from public view.  Nick adhered, and produced 'Upular', plus two more commissioned mixes from 'Toy Story' ('Toyz Noize' and 'Buzzwing').  When his contract with Disney ended, the old Disney mixes were made public again ;D  Which is great, because personally I think these commissions pale beside his self-inspired work.  (I quite like this one from TV series 'Dexter').

Not everyone is as sympathetic as Disney though.  When Pogo released 'Bangarang' - featuring footage and sound samples from 'Hook', Sony Pictures Entertainment freaked out.  Pogo responded, saying:
"My work serves as free viral marketing to the organisations that own the films I sample from. It's high time the music industry pulls its head out of its ass, and realises that today's remix culture is an asset, not a liability. To shoot down the potential here would be utterly illogical."
He removed the video, but several YouTube users protested by uploading their own, previously saved versions of it (the same had previously been done for 'Alice').  Amazingly, the outcry was loud enough to convince Sony that they had made a mistake, and 'Bangarang' was returned to YouTube within weeks.

Another commission came Pogo's way in the form of 'Pirates Of The Caribbean'.  He regards the mix as one of his best, but Jerry Bruckheimer Films decided they want nothing to do with it.  On his blog, Pogo says:
"The sad reality is, Swashbuckle was contracted work. I’d literally have to start saving the money that Disney would sue me before making the decision to upload it. But who knows? It might just come to that. My music is my mark in this world. If I have to pay to watch it entertain millions of people, then so be it."
What a cool guy.

He continues to inspire fans, who often make tribute videos to him, which he acknowledges and applauds on his blog.

And want to hear something that will make you sick?  He was born in 1988.  I need to find some more late bloomers ;)

I highly recommend checking out his website, where all of his tracks are availbale for download as mp3s.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Carpaccio Magazine

Cool online magazine for photography, art and design.

Adele - "Someone Like You"

Adele is the antithesis of a late bloomer.  The English singer-songwriter, at the age of 22, has already produced two albums (imaginatively called "19", and "21".!)

This is a track from her new album "Rolling in the Deep", which comes out in January.

I'm not a huge fan of her earlier stuff - a bit too close to Lily Allen for me, but this soulful riff is just beautiful:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

X's and O's

These days I write so many emails and text messages signed off with: Love, Yola xxo that I started to wonder where the X's (and O's) actually come from.  Good old Google gave me the following answer:
"How did X's and O's come to represent kisses? The common custom of placing X's on envelopes, notes and at the bottom of letters to mean kisses dates back to Medieval ages, when a cross was drawn on documents or letters to mean sincerity and honesty. A kiss was then placed upon the cross, by the signer as a display of their of their sworn oath. It was also used in early Christian history as much of a display of the same. Since most of the common people were unable to read or write, the 'X' was placed on documents, and a kiss placed upon it as a show of their sincerity, gradually, as it was used so often, the cross was hurried drawn and often resembled an 'X'. The 'O' is of North American descent, no one really seems to know how it was started. It has been said that when arriving to the US, Jewish immigrants would use an 'O' on documents, not using the sign of the cross, and shop keepers would often use an 'O' when signing documents, in place of an 'X'. Perhaps now it is used as the 'O' being rounded represents arms encircling another, as in an embrace."
 You never know what you might be asked during a table quiz!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Resonators

Saw these guys last night at One Taste Festival in Balham last night, and was very impressed.

The Resonators are a Reggae / Dub Step act.  Throw in a trumpet, a saxaphone, two soulful female vocalists, and four other musicians, and you've got one of the more original sounds I've heard in quite a while.

Creating fully live Dub, in addition they had amazing stage presence - every one of the 8 piece band bounced around and threw good vibes to a crowd alll-too-willing to accept them.  The result was smiles and dancing that I generally associate with day one of a music festival.  Good times :)

Highly recommended - check them out here:

Mandrake by Resonators

Sweet Love Affair by Resonators

Borderline by Resonators

Read more

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What's in a face?

At the risk of sounding like an episode of "Sex in the City" - do you really know what kind of romantic partner you want?

I just came across this interesting article at BBC Science.  You do a "Face Perception" test (where you choose 20 out of 40 somewhat-creepy faces).  Based on your preferences, they tell you what kind of partner you really go for.  

Intrigued?  So was I.  According to them, first impressions may be right.

In fairness, I didn't learn much from the quiz or article (apparently I go for faces that are 50% introvert, and 50% extrovert), but the quiz is kind of fun.

Thanks to Rofo at for sharing this info!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Pirelli Calendar

November may not be good for many things, but believe it or not, it's an exciting time in the fashion world.  Why?  Because on the 30th of November, a new Pirelli Calender is unveiled!

This year there's even more of a buzz, because tomorrow the first-ever documentary about "The Cal" ('The Saga of the Pirelli calendar' created by Emmanuel Le Ber) will be broadcast on the French TV channel Paris Premiere.  So I thought now would be a good time to trip down memory lane and revisit some of the Pirelli calendar's memorable moments.

Every year a renowned photographer from the fashion world is invited by tire company Pirelli (yes - tire company), to take a series of images that celebrate the female form.  Only 40,000 calendars are produced, and are gifted to celebrity VIPs and a restricted number of Pirelli customers.  Every calendar becomes a collectors item, and nearly every fashion photographer wants to be behind one.

So how does a tire company end up creating and sustaining one of the most coveted possessions in the fashion world?!

Actually, the Pirelli Calendar was intended to be an auto-garage pin-up "girly calendar".  Pirelli Ltd in the UK decided to issue a Calendar as a gift for their top U.K. customers.  In 1964 they got Beatle's photographer Robert Freeman to take the snaps.  The images were so beautiful that the calendar was released for distribution.  It was an instant sensation

Sonny Freeman-Drane, wife of Robert Freeman, and reputed lover of John Lennon.

The early editions had a European refinement:  they were sunny, simple, and almost wholesome.

Photographer: Brian Duffy, 1965

Photographer: Peter Knapp, 1966

Photographer: Harri Peccinotti, 1969

In 1970 French photographer Francis Giacobetti brought a new sophistication to the pictures.  Oozing sensuality, they were tactile, warm, and erotic.

The 1972 edition was the first to include topless images. Sarah Moon, a British fashion photographer, was a surprising choice: partly because no woman had been hired before, and partly because she was unpopular with journalists. Nonetheless, she took the calendar in a distinct new direction: choosing petite models, and creating delicate images filled with feminine intimacy. Many of Pirelli's calendar customers complained that the 1972 calendar had 'lesbian' qualities.

From here on, the calendar became as much about story-telling as sex.

Uwe Ommer, 1984

Bert Stern, 1986

Arthur Elgort, 1990

Clive Arrowsmith, 1991

Richard Avedon, 1995

Bruce Weber, 1998
Mario Testino, 2001
Nick Knight, 2004

Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, 2006

Patrick Demarchelier, 2008

Depending on how good (or bad) the documentary is, I'd like to revisit this topic, looking at each year in-depth.  The calendar reflects changing perceptions of beauty and taste.  There's a lot to discuss!

By the way, this post will feature tomorrow on Irish Fashion Blog What Will I Wear Today, where I've recently become a guest blogger.  It's a great site - check it out!

The 2011 Pirelli calendar was shot by Karl Lagerfeld in Paris earlier this year.  It features Isabeli Fontana, Heidi Mount, Bianca Balti, Lara Stone, Natasha Poly, Iris Strubegger, Elisa Sednaoui, Magdalena Frackowiak, Julianne Moore. It will be unveiled in Moscow on the 30th of November.




Monday, November 8, 2010

"The Adventures of Mark Twain"

Spooky and little-known animated film about Mark Twain and his journey towards death.

Mark Twain lived as he died - with drama.

He was born on 30 November 1835, exactly two weeks after a comet called Halley's Comet's came closest to the sun.  This comet only orbits the earth every 75 years, and Twain died in 1910 - the day after the comet returned.

The strange thing is that Twain predicted his own death.
"I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it.... The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together."
This quotation formed the basis of a little-known stop-motion animation, "The Adventures of Mark Twain".   The 1985 film tells the story of Twain as he attempts to keep his "appointment" with Halley's Comet.

Traveling on an airship with three of his literary characters (Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Becky), sketches from works such as "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", "The Diary of Adam and Eve" and "The Damned Human Race" form the basis of the film.

Watch the film here on youtube:  (go to the end of the page if you just want to see the most interesting scene.. starring Satan).

The freakiest scene in the film comes from "The Mysterious Stranger" - Twain's final, unfinished novel. The novel addresses his ideas of the "Moral Sense" and the "damned human race".  It involves the character of Satan.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Online Encylopeadia of Film

An A to Z of films, directors, actors, productions teams, plus criticism and film theory!  Great resource.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Children of Distance

Melodic rap - just the kind I like.

Check out Children of Distance's website at although it's pretty useless unless you speak Hungarian!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Random Studios: Possibly the coolest web design ever.

After mistyping a web address, imagine my surprise when I ended up on possibly the coolest landing page I have ever seen. (isn't the animation on the umbrella just beautiful?)

After a little bit of navigation, I proceeded to be blown away by the company's previous projects: web design with an interactivity that crosses into video-game territory.

Check out:

This interactive music video for Placebo's "The Never Ending Why"
This interactive online Exhibition at Tate Modern

I discovered that RANDOM STUDIO (based in Amsterdam) create interactive productions - both online and offline.  So not only do they do cool websites, they also build interactive installations like this one for Diesel. (Okay, it's advertising, but a person's gotta eat!)  Daan at Random Studio said "I'm inspired by intelligent, subtle design and interaction. I do not like most advertising because it always tries to stuff messages down people's throat. I like sites and applications that surprise people and put a smile on their face. Give and immerse - don't force anything on people."

So is this where web design is going?

The first decade in the 2000's was a time when people in creative spheres felt they had to be jack-of-all-trades.  Many people created websites for themselves.  Daan believes that now web design "will get better and more specialized. The overall quality is already improving."  With a greater emphasis on interactive video and applications, "The web will not only be a website but a tool that will be incorporated into daily life, all over the house. Designers need to think about different ways of interacting."

Thanks Daan for answering my questions.  Looking forward to seeing more of your work!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cover Junkie

For anyone who loves magazines more for their beautiful design than their content!

Cover Junkie

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