Friday, December 16, 2011

Truth is timeless

Marcus Aurelius (born 121 AD):
"It is enough that we are comfortable in our own skin; that we lay our head on the pillow each night regretting nothing of our own making, that we feel as if we have somehow done some little thing to help this world be a bit kinder, to know we withheld our judgement and saw the better part of the situation, to have circulated our prosperity with gratitude. 

"To be able to let go of each day as if we had lived up to our highest potential is a rare thing indeed but not a bad aspiration. Living up to our true potential has nothing to do with worldly achievement. It is not about being famous for our work or becoming a billionaire entrepreneur. Our potential is an unlimited ability to love unconditionally, to see with compassion, to initiate joy, to express kindness, to count on our own creativity, to encourage optimism, to celebrate the temporary, to cultivate inner peace, to prosper benignly.

"If we lived up to even a fraction of our potential we would automatically contribute to the betterment of our shared human experience. It has always been that those who make a great impression on the rest of us are those who are about the business of being themselves. They do not need victims to help to feel worthy. They do not need validation for their generosity. They do not expect applause nor do they seek it. They are not out to get anything, they are invested in the fun of being alive."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11's twin

Question:  What do Jude Law, the United Nations and a little known film maker called Jeremy Gilley have in common?

Answer:   Peace Day.

Peace Day?
 In September 2001, the United Nations created an international day of Peace: a day where people made an effort to bring peace into their immediate environments.  The hope was that that these peaceful actions would emanate outwards, and be a step towards creating a peaceful planet.

Unfortunately the day this event was supposed to be announced was the day two planes were flown into the twin towers.  The moment Peace Day became more relevant than ever, was also the moment that real efforts towards peace fell by the wayside.

Today, Peace Day is a largely unknown entity.

The genesis behind the day came from a film maker called Jeremy Gilley.  In 1999 he began writing letters to the world leaders, calling for one day of Peace.

Aside from the obvious reasons behind undertaking such an initiative, it was also a way of estimating whether peace was even relevant anymore.  How open would the world be towards creating an international day of Peace?  Had it just become another word that we throw around?  This question was at the heart of his campaign.  Gilley documented his efforts, and with the support of Kofi Annan, the Dalai Lama (and a few celebrities) he succeeded in his mission.  His journey became a film called "Peace One Day".

In his recent TED Talk, Gilley stressed the importance of every individual doing their bit for peace.  Personally I think Peace Day is an amazing idea, and I think people should get together and have Peace Parties.  Even if this just takes the form of a bunch of friends sharing time, at least it's motivated by a desire for something greater than ourselves.  Coming together with that in our minds can't be a bad thing?

Peace Day is on the 21st of September.  How will you spend yours?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Natanel Araeha

Last year, in India, I was on the roof of my guesthouse when two musicians arrived.  One was carrying a tabla, the other, what appeared to be a guitar.  What they played touched me deeply, and that night will be etched in my mind forever.

The string-player's "guitar" was not a guitar, but a larger instrument which he designed, and then built from a tree he had felled.

His website has just gone up, and features his first album, and a collection of his art work, which has an 'other-world' theme.

His music is a blend of Arabic meets Asian.  It conjurs images of hot, dusty deserts, glittering cities, but speaks to something deep and dark in your soul.

Needless to say, you should check him out ;)

Natanel Araeha

Friday, September 2, 2011

Anti-Terrorist Colouring Book (this isn't a joke!)

As the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Americans everywhere are commemorating the event that rocked the Western world.
Determined not to exclude anyone (except the Muslims of course), Really Big Coloring Books have released a $6.99 book about "9 terrorist hijackers that came over here under the leadership of a devil worshipper, Osama bin Laden, to murder our people." 
Its first publication has sold out.
Children have a choice of scenes to colour in: take your pick from 9/11, or the subsequent hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Apparently it's not rascist or anti-Muslim
First Sarah Palin, now this. I'm beginning to think that America is actually a made-up country in a bad soap opera.
See Guardian article on 9/11 Children's Colouring Book here

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Joan Armatrading "Love and Affection"

Another one for the "simple , cheap and effective music videos" category, this was put together in 1976.  Although visual effects like these have been done to death now, the uncomplicated execution makes this video stand the test of time.

Great song too.  Tracy Chapman doesn't site Armatrading as one of her influences, but you can't help notice the similarities.  The genre, characterised by insightful lyrics with influences of folk, blues, jazz, rock, and international styles, was partly Joan's creation.

Joan Armatrading- Love and Affection '76 by rockderk

Friday, July 22, 2011

alex box

Anyone who grew up in the 80's surely saw at least one of the films from the series "The Neverending Story", but it was only last year that I discovered it was originally a novel by German author Michael Ende.  I just finished reading it, and it blew me away.

This "children's" book is an amazing work of imagination and adventure with a beautiful, profound theme.  Ende was clearly a very smart guy, and he draws on Anthroposophical concepts to create an escapist tale that simultaneously offers the reader a mirror to their own life.  As Bastian, the protagonist, changes, the reader changes.

(Anthroposophy is a philosophy that hypothesizes that an intellectually comprehensible world exists inside us, and that this is world can be experienced objectively if a person develops themselves internally). 

The films pale significantly in comparison.  Ende hated the 1984 Hollywood production of his work, which covers only the first half of the novel. Ende requested they halt production or change the movie's name; when they did neither, he sued them and subsequently lost the case.  After this came "The NeverEnding Story II" (1990), "The NeverEnding Story III" (1994).  Ende died in 1995, of stomach cancer.  I wonder if the 1995 animated series, the 2000 live-action series, or the 2001 video game would have appealed to him any more?

Perhaps the prominence of the films accounts for why the book doesn't have more of a cult following in the English-speaking world.  Rectify this wrong and read this amazing book!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shigehiro Okada

Shigehiro Okada is a manga artist from Japan, who also does individual illustrations. You can take a look at more of his work on his tumblr.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Crystal Castles "Pap Smear"

Love this video!

An example of how no budget, no frills, and a simple idea can work really well.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"The Pipe"

One of the best docs I've seen in ages.  Watch it here while you still can:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Short History of Modern Music

Using an interactive guide, Guardian and Observer critics chart the history of modern music, tackling a different genre each day and picking 50 key moments.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Top 50 Greatest Literary Adaptations

A few years ago The Guardian compiled this (pretty conservative) list of the Top 50 Greatest Literary Adaptations.  Where's 'Adaptation'??

Worth perusing nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Everybody loves the Sunshine

Not quite the weather for this tune here in London at the moment.... but here's hoping ;)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

More on late bloomers...

One of my favourite topics ;)

"Failed in business at age 31.  Defeated for the legislature at 32.  Again failed in business at 34.  Sweetheart died at 35.  Had a nervous breakdown at 36. Defeated in election at 38.  Defeated for Congress at 43. Defeated for Congress at 46.  Defeated for Congress at 48.  Defeated for Senate at 55.  Defeated for Vice President at 56.  Defeated for Senate at 58.  Elected President at age 60.  This man was Abraham Lincoln."

Friday, June 3, 2011

What to watch?

Wondering what film to watch the other evening, I stumbled upon this quirky site.  After creating a username, you're asked a series of questions that determine what kind of person you are / what films you like, and then you're given an unlimited number of recommendations.  It's worth checking out, even just for the random questions.!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Beautiful acoustic version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song", with an in-studio video.  Click here to watch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Around the World in 80 Documentaries

A pretty thorough list of docos, categorised by geography.  Many of them have links to the full film.  Enjoy!

Around the world in 80 documentaries

Monday, March 14, 2011

Short film "Signs"

One step away from imagining what toys do when you leave the room - what do Road Traffic Signs get up to?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Candy Flipping Strawberry Fields

Probably sacrilege to some people, but I really like this cover of the Beatles "Strawberry Fields Forever", by 90's duo Candy Flip.  (Who?)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Girl and a Dolphin

Here's something you don't see too often - a short cartoon from the heyday of Soviet animation (1979).  Love it.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Feel Good Films - list and links (1)

Apparently people who are happy are better at fighting off illness, so with this in mind I started to compile a list of feel-good films / comedies for a friend who's poorly.

Now I'm sharing the wealth :)  Enjoy!

(The secret when you want to watch a film is to type the title into google, and then type "watch online free".  You can generally find what you're looking for.)

"Beverly Hills Cop" -  Back when Eddie Murphy used to be funny.
Watch it here:

"Blazing Saddles" - (1974) (Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder) 

Read about it here: it here:

Little Miss Sunshine - (2006) (Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Steve Carell)
Read about it here: 
Watch it here: 

Planes, Trains & Automobiles - (1987) (Steve Martin, John Candy)
Read about it here:
Watch it here: 

This Is Spinal Tap - (1984) (Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer)
Read about it here: 
Watch it here: 

Groundhog Day - (1993) (Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott)Watch it here:

The Birdcage - ( 1996) (Robin Williams, Nathan Lane)

Watch it here: 

Ghostbusters - (1984) (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver)Watch it here:

Caddyshack - (1980) (Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight)

Watch it here:

"Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail" - (1975) (Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Eric Idle, etc.)

Watch it here:

"My Cousin Vinny" - (1992) (Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Fred Gwynne)

Watch it here:

"The Money Pit" - (1986) (Tom Hanks, Shelley Long)

Watch it here: 

"Trading Places" 

Watch it here:

"The Producers" (1968) (Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Dick Shawn)

Watch it here:

"The Big Lebowski":  directed by the Cohen Brothers. 

Watch it here:

"Before Sunset" 

Watch it here:

Watch it here:

"The Princess Bride"
Watch it here:

"Three Men and a Baby"
Watch it here:

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (the original!)
Watch it here: 

"Ferris Beuller's Day off"
Watch it here: 

"Babes in Toyland" - (1934) (Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy) 
Watch it here: 

"Three Amigos!" - (1986) (Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Martin Short)

Watch it here: 

Watch it here:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Reclaim Love

A worldwide get-together is happening on Saturday the 12th of Feb.  The purpose?  To celebrate Love.

Check out to see where it's happening near you :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Name that Painting!

Dear anyone-who's-ever-appreciated-a-painting,

This music video for "70 Million" by Hold Your Horses! is an art montage - with a difference.  Each painting is a recreation, with the singers popped into the mix.

List of paintings is in the comments.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Fun Theory

People often don't do what's best for them.  Would they if was fun?

That's the thesis behind The Fun Theory

This is actually an initiative started by Volkswagon.In one way I think it's fantastic that a corporation are making an effort to spread positivity in the world.  On the other hand, they're probably doing it to improve their company image and sell more products.

Your thoughts - does the end justify the means?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Labyrinth Ear

Labyrinth Ear are synth-pop duo hailing from South East London.

An amazing electronic cover of a Disney song was what turned me onto them, but because they're such a new band (formed last summer) there wasn't much info out there... So I dropped them a line to see what I could see.  (Interview after the tracks)

You can get their Oak EP free off their site.

"Snow White" (video is taken from the Betty Boop film of the same name)

"White Gold" (Video features puppet work of the late Czech animator Jiri Trnka)

"Wild Flowers"

"Navy Light" (video taken from the David Bowie film "Labyrinth")

Morning Parade - Under the Stars (Labyrinth Ear remix)

- How did "Labyrinth Ear" come together?

Tom had made music for a while but hadn't really shared any of his music with anyone before, I'd never planned to be a singer and was applying for university to study fashion design, then Tom played me a couple of his tracks he had made several years ago and I was stunned, they were really good and no one had ever heard them before, I encouraged him to start producing again and to look for musicians and vocalists to produce for, he was unable to find people, so I reluctantly offered to do some vocals for a couple of tracks he had produced, we uploaded 1 or 2 onto myspace and the response we got was amazing. We haven't stopped since then! I never knew how satisfying it was to produce music and to finish tracks, I now feel like this what I should have been doing all along! All I can say is if you think you can't do something, just try it and see.

- What are your influences (musically and otherwise). 

Our influences are very varied and vast, my taste is quite odd sometimes, most of my music collection is made up of film soundtracks, Tom has quite a big music collection, a lot of electronic stuff. A few influences we both agree upon would be Arthur Russell, Joanna Newsom and John Maus.

Non musically, we're both very much into art and film. I'm into fashion, you also might have noticed that we like cats.

- How did "Snow White" come about?

This was our first track, I'd never written lyrics or songs before so we decided to do a cover. It was my idea to do 'I'm Wishing' from Snow White, it seemed a bit silly at first, but we were delighted with the result and completely amazed at the response we had to it.

- You're a pretty new band - what are your hopes for '11?

Yes, we are quite new. We're really excited about 2011 - we have a lot of aims for the year. At the moment we're working on lots more tracks, remixes, music videos, and playing plenty of shows.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The making of "Wanderland"

Hermanos Ingleso are Belgium brothers, and an electronic music duo.  I recently stumbled upon this deadly tune "Wanderland", but I was even more impressed with the video, which was recently awarded "Best Belgian Music Video 2010" at the International Film Festival Leuven. 

In fact, I liked it so much that I dropped the directors, Kristof Luyckx & Michèle Vanparys, a line and asked them a few questions!

God bless Vimeo - it makes it so easy to connect with film makers whose work you like :D (Interview below the video)

- What was your creative inspiration for the video?

Kristof:  The album artwork of Hermanos Inglesos contained birds (from encyclopedia books), so I took this as a starting point.
The title 'Wanderland' and lyrics like 'take me to your dreams' inspired me to find an idea so we could show lots of "dream sequences". Or in this case a psychedelic trip. I had the idea of 'birds doing drugs', and then letting them hallucinate and have a bad trip and then an overdose. But because the song is rather positive and sweet, we decided to soften the idea and make it more suggestive. Hence the "magic berry".

Michèle:  Kristof was going mad with the delirious drugged bird :)
I knew Hermanos  would find this maybe a bit too much, so we softened it down.
And afterwards I think this was a better thing for the storyline.. 

How did you go about planning and making it?

Kristof:  Hermanos Inglesos approached Michèle. We had about 1,5 month to make the video. We had creative freedom, the only thing they asked was to include the two musicians. But we spoke with Hermanos Inglesos about the idea/style before executing the storyboard. And after getting the storyboard/animatic approved, we continued designing and animating.
It was very low-budget (like most music videos), but we did this for our portfolio and self-promotion (and do enough commercial work to compensate).

Michèle:  Hermanos contacted me, because they had seen a little test movie on my blog and they liked the `girly sweetness` in it ..  but they had no idea what they wanted to make... "something with birds" ..!

They had almost no budget either, so we had to come up with a style that was easy and quick, also because of the short deadline..

So I called kristof, who i`d knew as a great illustrator and graphic designer/motion graphics animator ..
and he was immediately enthusiastic, even do we didn`t really knew each other and i don`t think he really knew my work.
Because I had no time to work on it and we had the deadline ahead he started with the main idea and made the main style of the movie..

- What motivated you to work together, and what do you think the ingredients for a valuable partnership are?

Kristof:  Michèle asked me if I had time and wanted to direct the video. We knew each other, but haven't worked together before. But it went very well, we both concluded afterwards.

Michèle:  I liked his graphic style, very minimal.  And i had never directed a movie by myself (exept my graduation project) 
so, with the deadline and the opportunity that we could make  whatever we liked, 
I thought getting someone like Kristof on this project would make it .. better :)

And  once we went to a guitar movie together, so i knew, he had my kind of taste in music :) very important if you work together!

Michèle and Kristof are both based in Ghent, Belgium.  Anticipating great things from both of them in the future!  Check out more of their work here:

CREDITS:  Music video for Hermanos Inglesos feat. MeMe (Wanderland).

Directed by Kristof Luyckx & Michèle Vanparys.

Design: Kristof Luyckx & Michèle Vanparys
Art Direction: Kristof Luyckx
Editing: Stijn Deconinck & Kristof Luyckx
Animation: Michèle Vanparys, Michélé De Feudis, Dries Bastiaensen & Kristof Luyckx.

Friday, January 7, 2011

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