Showing posts from 2007

Book 'em Danno

I forgot to tell you that I got the first 100 pages of my book printed. It arrived from the US the other day. I was surprised by the quality of the job. I've learned something about preparing covers - the title on the spine should read with the baseline at towards the back of the book. Other than that (and the fact that I haven't been able to figure out how InDesign automatically numbers pages (any advice gratefully received).

All in all, well pleased. Just like a bought one.
I'll let you know when you can order a copy.

What goes around…

I hope not.

The latest pimpwear from thre 1975 JC Penney catalogue

From Mom's Basement An Aladdin's cave of kitsch.

Pompous and circumstantial

The Queen of England gave her annual speech to 'her people' on YouTube this year.
I watched it and felt a renewed distaste for the concept of monarchy.

She talks about the disadvantaged in society and how it is the duty of us all to help relieve their situations. Of course she says so from a position of unearned privilege, is that a Ming vase I see at your right elbow ma'aam?

The concept of monarchy, divine right and fealty to an idea that is simply an anachronism in the 21st century is absurd.

I found it offensive that Elizabeth Windsor broadcast a message showing her soldiers in Afghanistan (and though the British Troops in Iraq have stepped back from a 'combat' role the imagery certainly is representative of the military presence of the UK in the middle east). She refers to the seriously wounded and killed in the service of her commonwealth but neatly avoids commenting on the casualties inflicted on the local population, many of them innocent non-combatants.

She ma…

Pulling back The Curtain

When I was a teenager I randomly chose to read The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera. It was a random choice in that I had no intention of reading anything in particular but had recently read the slightly disturbing book The Dice Man by Luke Reinhart (in which the protagonist - if I can describe such a vividly amoral character that way) makes choices with the roll of the dice. My intention was to read the first book whose cover I liked. From memory the cover of 'Laughter and Forgetting' showed an illustration angels dancing on the head of a pin.

The book made quite an impression on me at the time. My knowledge of the history of Czechoslovakia and the Russian occupation was virtually nil and so much of the political context and back story of the book was utterly lost on me. But wading in the shallows was impressive enough. I simply liked the way the stories were told - which may or may not be the consequence of having been translated from Czech to French and the…

And now for the news

Because I'm lazy and groaning under the weight of pointlessly consumed calories (happy birthday Jesus), I've dug out an episode of Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe that talks about television news and its origins. Brooker is very, very funny. But the trick is that his message is very, very serious. The only place you'll find more finely observed editorial commentary in from Graydon Carter in Vanity Fair magazine. Watch and weep ladies and gents. Watch and weep.

If you'd like to positively gorge yourself on Screenwipe a chap has assembled every moment of every series here.

Flights of fancy

I get a kick out of imaginative reinterpretations of old ideas. In the 1930s the Germans repurposed their Zeppelin technology from being a platform from which to rain terror down on London during the first world war to become a floating luxe hotel to cross the Atlantic with panache (or whatever the German equivalent of panache might be). The Hindenberg disaster put paid to travel by blimp, it's popularity going down like a flaming lead zeppelin.

The Manned Cloud is a very, very cool concept that could; by all accounts be airborne in as little as a year from now. Aside from the cool whale design of the blimp it would be able to circumnavigate the globe in as little as 3 days. I'd be inclined not to rush things.

The craft would be able to land in places where conventional aircraft would not - it doesn't need a runway and, like a cruise ship, the cloud is its own accommodation centre.

According to its designer, Jean Marie Massaud, this hotel-cruise-dirigible will allow the tra…

Overcoming inertia.

I think the measure of a great teacher is one who brings a topic alive. I was just reading in the NY Times about a physics professor at MIT who does just that.
. I won't reiterate the content of the article here, I recommend you read it and visit Prof Lewin's online courses to see for yourself the phenomenon…I very nearly became interested in physics. I never have been before.

And, if you doubted for a moment that living in the 21st Century is as good as it gets, MIT have free online courses here. Ignornance can run but it can't hide.

What is my motivation?

Ah, the voice over booth. The scene of many a tragi-comic exchange. Nicely captured in 'The Santa Sessions' (above) and in the trailer for Jerry Seinfield's movie 'Comedian' (below) - which is the best trailer for a movie I ever seen. Or, rather, the best trailer for a movie I've never seen. Was it released? (apparently so, it rates a 7.0 on the IMDB.

Google Omniscient?

The wires are beginning to fill with chatter about a new product from Google. The Knol. It will be an encyclopedia like Wikipedia - except the content will be created by expert authors accredited by Google. I don't have any issue with that. Students have been discouraged from relying too heavily on what they read in the Wikipedia because the source is unverified. It is, after all the work of unknown authors with axes to grind, agendas and, quite possibly, sketchy knowledge of the topic. Errors and omissions can be altered by others, making it an organic process.

I have read some criticism of the Knol suggesting that Google's success, in part, has been based on its independence from the content. With knol it will share revenue with the content creators from the Adwords panels that appear on the page. Knol would also, most likely, be given a priority in searches, pushing Wikipedia down the list of search results. That might be construed as anticompetitive.

Others have doubts ove…


I wanted a picture for the cover of my book. My way of working is to visualise things. Make things seem real even before they really exist. It's something I learned working in advertising. People are visual. If I was to present you with a long document you'd yawn and read it later. I posterise the idea and it's a whole different story. So I was thrilled when I found a perfect image on Flickr. Contacted the photographer and within days had a permission to use the image - in return for a credit.

So, thanks to Zoran Kovacevic, a superb photographer…and generous with it.

Never mind the icecaps

…Mr Whippy is melting.

A clever installation by the Glue Society "Hot with a Chance of a Late Storm" "a comment on global warming in which a melting ice cream van oozed across the promenade and onto the sand at Tamarama in Australia last year as part of Sydney’s Sculpture by the Sea event" via Creative Review Blog

Oddly enough I feel a strange craving for ice-cream…and gherkins. Could I be…no…

I shot one of the characters in Vanishing Act yesterday. We'll, I didn't but someone did. But who? Colonel Mustard, dining room, Colt 45. Have to decide whether he will survive or not. Oh, the humanity…

Everybody has to start somewhere

Let's have a McDonald's moment

Here's where it all began.

…Here's where it all goes a bit strange.

And here's a curio from 1973 when reporters smoked and Ronald spoke.I'm Lovin' it.

Articulated truck

I thought this might entertain you. A sculpture by Erwin Wurm found on fffound.


I had an idea a little while ago. What if there was a venue where creative entrepreneurs could exchange skills to get private projects off the ground? It came to me when I was listening (actually only half listening) to a presentation by Mark Wheldon of the NZ Stock exchange talk about the stock market - I think (I tend to glaze a little on these things). It was an Idealog function at the Hilton on Princess Wharf. Lots of suits. How did the creative economy get hijacked by the suits I thought to myself? Which naturally segued into Hey, how about setting up an exchange for us - the people who actually create things. We need to speed up the creation of IP; make money in our sleep from our fabulous endeavours.

So, today I launched the beta verison of the CEX - The Creative Exchange. It's rustic right now. I'm offering to trade some of my skills for some web development time.

Anyway, check it out

If you have a project and would like a hand to realise it - register yo…

Yorkie Brand Curio

I'm not sure if it would be legal to package your brand with this overt positioning in New Zealand. We're very PC here. Which is code for 'big girls blouses'.
Apparently sales of the enrobed chocolate bar from Nestle has increased since the 'Not For Girls' message began appearing on pack. Biggest increase in sales…you guessed it…women.

My friend Dr Gill Webster, the brilliant scientist who is working on a vaccine to cure HIV, told me the other day that the chromasome that makes men is getting shorter and that, soon, male humans will be redundant. Presumably women will find all the satisfaction they need from Yorkie bars.

The mind boggles.

Sage advice from Carl Sagan

The threat of nuclear war seemed to subside after the end of the Cold War. Nonetheless this presentation by Carl Sagan is as pertinent today as when it was recorded (seems to be a theme for the week). The threat to planet Earth might be different today - climate change and environmental brinksmanship have become our dread fixations - Though sabre rattling by the 'dim leader of the free world' about Iran may give us pause for thought if we imagine ourselves safe.

Via Presentation Zen

Going Green

More rubble. I found this snap of my old Willys truck and Sunbeam motorcycle. I guess I had a thing for green. Actually it was utterly random that I ended up with two old machines in kermit shades.

Both machines had a nice, cruisy quality. Little kids would wave and laugh. Mostly laugh as their mum's station wagon overtook me on the upside of the harbour bridge.

I made an idle remark to my first wife that I always wanted a cobb pipe like Eisenhower or the hillbilly bears in the old fashioned cartoon about, well…hillbilly bears. So she got me one. I have never smoked so it was an affectation to drive my old truck with my cob pipe clenched between my teeth and my big hairy dog in the passenger seat.

Those were the days.

True today as it ever was

I always liked John Webster's work - although I never found the Cadbury Smash Martians to be all that endearing.

If you look at the date on the lower right hand side of the clipping in the picture you'll see it was January 1988. I tore it out of Campaign magazine when I was a copywriter, working at an advertisng agency called Rialto. My office had a panoramic view of the Auckland harbour. When I wasn't looking out of it I was tearing things out of Campaign.

The interesting thing about the viewpoint by Mr Webster (sadly now deceased)is that almost everything he said back then, 20 years ago, is just as true as it ever was.

"Whoever it was that created the human mind designed it to respond to a set of basic emotions: love, fear, pride, envy, humour-things like that. Anyway, in the list of of priorities it's fair to guess "scratch video" came pretty low"

"Faced with the onslaught of computer-graphics, paint-on-film animation, grain and pop-promo look-a…

Clean up D&AD

I have been clearing out my books and the rubble that has accumulated over the year.
You might be interested in a couple of D&AD Annuals (if you live in Auckland - they're heavy to ship). I've listed them on an Auction. They are very rare. Not available retail (here in NZ at least).

Great thought starters for you designy, arty creative types.


Idealog #13 Column

Here's my column in the latest editon of Idealog Magazine:

How do advertising agencies differentiate themselves from their competition? “Easy!” I hear the cry go up “We’re more creative than them.”

If you were to rank New Zealand ad agencies on the basis of their creative output how would you do it? By the number of awards that they won in the previous year? Awards don’t all have the same currency. You might argue that prestigious awards like British Design & Art Direction or Cannes Lions have more gravity than, say, the kiwi Axis awards. The local award might be a more useful measure of ability because it is judged by peers from local industry. On the other hand D&AD or Cannes is more credible because it is not judged by peers in the local industry.

What happens if an ad agency has cabinets full of awards for advertising you think is bollocks? …scam ads or ‘ambient’ messages that were noticed by exactly seven people (two of whom were the art director’s dear old schizophre…

The tallest midget in the world

If you're going to do something, you might as well be the best at it.
I recently read Seth Godin's book The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). I'd been asked to review it. The interesting part of his short thesis is that not everything is worth doing. Knowing when quit is crucial. Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em and all that.

On that subject: The best ugly person in showbiz - the Pogues' Shane McGowan (Lyle Lovitt can only manage a distant second) singing the best of the worst genre in music: The Christmas Song…

Lady Toreth Hughes lies, dying…

I received this in my inbox just this morning.
You have to love the language (reminded me of the Ze Frank presentation to TED - see below)

52 Oxford Street,
Manchester M13 9L,

Here writes Lady Toreth Hughes, suffering from cancerous ailment. I was married to Sir Richard Hughes an Englishman who is dead. My husband was into private practice all his life before his death. Our life together as man and wife lasted for three decades without child. My husband died after a protracted illness. My husband and I made a vow to uplift the down-trodden and the less- privileged individuals as he had passion for persons who can not help themselves due to physical disability or financial predicament. I can adduce this to the fact that he needed a Child from this relationship, which never came.

When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of 20 Million (20 Million Great Britain Pounds Sterling which were derived from his vast estates and investment in capital market) with his bank here in UK…

Must have…

Have you ever nipped down to the shops to pick up a loaf of bread and some milk and come home with kalamata olives, stinky blue cheese and a six pack of Belgian heavy beer?

I guess that is what happened here. I was perfectly innocently looking for information about superyachts - research for Vanishing Act, my book - when I came across this baby…

The Dodge Tomahawk…8.5 litre V10

Ignore what I said before.

Dear Santa…

Ode to the amber nectar

There are very few international beer brands. Beer is a regional product. Partly because it doesn't travel well: heavy, subject to degradation from light…all sorts of reasons.

Perhaps the most obvious one is that beer is often highly partisan. When Steinlager, the premium New Zealand beer, was at its peak its advertising was closely linked with the brand's sponsorship of the All Blacks - when rules about not using 'heroes of the young' were like Italian speed signs,…guidelines. National pride was its selling point - if only by association. But beer is more regional than national. Waikato Bitter is not consumed by anyone in their right minds outside of the Waikato region. Lion Red was predominant in the north half of the north island. Wellingtonians had their very own sub species - Lion Brown and, of course in the south Speights Ale was favoured.

Times have changed recently. In the search for more exotic experiences an increasingly homogenised population turns to brands…

Your days are numbered

I have a friend for whom the height of Christmas cheer is to have a Blinky Bill advent calendar - the kind with a chocolate morsel behind each numbered flap. Not, I am assuming, to fetishise the countdown to Christmas, but to meter her chocolate consumption.

It fascinates me how attracted we are to lists. Turn them into a countdown and we go into a lather of excited anticipation…what will be number one.
I came across this little work on art out there in the wilds (via Laughing Squid). It is genius. The only reason for the inclusion of a movie in the sequence is its use of a number. My personal favourite is 35, a line from Harvey (I think), the movie where Jimmy Stewart is Elwood P. Dowd who has a 6 ft invisible rabbit as a friend:

"Well, I wrestled with reality for 35 years doctor and I am happy to state I finally won out over it."

Why Not call me Ishmael

Toyota are a company that proudly claims to be committed to the environment - as you'll see in their 'Why Not' campaign in North America. (Link via Another Planning Blog). It's a cute commercial - I used to have own a Fiat Abarth that looked like it was rotting before my very eyes at, roughly, the same speed as the one in the commercial.

Oddly enough I was thinking about Toyota the other day. They are one of Japan's biggest and certainly most high profile companies and the number one car producer in Japan. Their hybrid cars are the highest profile.

But there's a problem with Japan. It wants to slaughter whales in the Southern Ocean

"Japan has declared that for the first time it will kill 50 humpbacks, as well as 50 fin whales and hundreds of minke whales. The Japanese argue that the ban on whale hunting means levels of fin and humpback whales have recovered and they can withstand being harpooned again." NZ Herald

The Japanese claim the whaling will be fo…

Permission marketing 1.01

What happens when you click the 'Unsubscribe' button on an email from Nestle?
This is what:

Not acceptable.

Starck Raving

Philipe Starck has gone up in my estimation, having watched this video from the TED Conferences.
I have been a little peeved about the calibre of students at design schools M. Starck articulates the idea that design needs to move to a new level of inquiry.
Designers who are happy to make a decorative contribution will be left behind.


I want to share an interesting experience with you.

This evening I was reading a series of essays by Milan Kundera The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts I read this:

"While History (mankind's History) might have the poor taste itself, the history of an art Will not stand for repetitions."

David Byrne comments on his blog in a similar way:

Oddly, in the fashion megaverse and some other retail areas, a brand, design or image accepted and successful amongst a tiny (usually wealthy) social demographic means that it will inevitably be desired by those lower down on the social and economic ladder, either via logo imprinted items, knockoffs, counterfeits or copies. The fact that the hoi polloi will now be interested in the item makes it naturally less interesting to the elite. It will go out of favor, and becomes last year’s model, soon to be relegated to the closet or the giveaway pile. If it’s too popular, it can’t be cool anymore. As a result, the creative folks, the designers, f…

Are you insane man?

I have admired the campaign for mental illness that was created by FCB some time ago and which currently stars a former All Black admitting to having battled deppression.

It has done much to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. I understand sales have gone through the roof…but I feel this approach is better. If that gets you down, get in touch with the Mental Health Foundation and stop watching the news.

Women…for pity's sake don't drive

Whatever happened to Harry Enfield? Perhaps he was run out of town by rabid feminists?
I miss quality Bwitish comedy on New Zealand television.

If anyone knows where I can get a copy of the Harry Enfield Guide to Opera…for pity's sake, let me know.

Movember over - thanks.

Well Movember ended. Thanks to the friends who sponsored me. I am relieved to be able to have played a part in the fund raising for prostate cancer awareness but more relieved to have removed it. Until next year.

Couldn't make it to the Parte but I understand it celebrated raising more than $1.6 million dollars and, hopefully, encouraged more blokes to get their prostates checked.

Not buying into Christmas

At the risk of sounding akin to the Grinch: "Humbug".
I'm already thoroughly tired of seeing advertising for Christmas products and December has barely gotten out of the blocks.

This year I came out as a fully fledged atheist. Observing Christmas, therefore, is about as ridiculous as celebrating Ramadan. I don't know about Ramadan but I do know that most of the people who get swept up in the 'spirit' of Christmas probably have little genuine regard for its religious significance in any case. The inconvenient truth, I if I might borrow from the sage wisdom of Al Gore, is that Christmas - Xmas as it is repackaged to avoid the Christ allusion for those folks who like their religious festivities 'lite', is that the festival is one of consumption.

This year I think it would be useful to consider the following when you are exchanging gift on Christ's birthday:

1. Make it useful. Forget about stocking stuffers. You shouldn't have to overwhelm people you …

You are feeling sleepy....

I have never been able to see nudes in ice cubes. I've tried but have never had the pleasure. Subliminal advertising is curious topic. Most of the people who believe this insidious technique is being practiced on them are the same people who simply don't like advertising. While I agree there is much to dislike, the thought that advertisers can fool you into buying something without knowing where your motivation comes from seems to be an oddly paranoid theory. Unfortunately for advertisers most overt techniques don't work so projecting a logo on the screen for a micro second is hardly likely to have any considerable effect. In fact most ads appear below the threshold of normal awareness - they simply have no impact, often because they are not relevant.

Relevance is, I believe, the most important goal for advertising in the 21st Century. Flashing logos on the screen is an irrelevance and serves no meaningful function. If you can't engage with the brand what is the point o…

Firebrands reprise

If you like watching ads check out
I smiled at the name of the site. That was the name of my web business (Firebrands)before I joined up with another web business.
I like this commercial for Nokia for the reason it conforms to the idea of 'interestingness' which was the biggest thought I encountered in 2007.
Auspicious occassion. This is post number 800.
I have been a little lax. Trying to write my novel is taxing me.
Perhaps taking a little rest will give me 'fresh legs'?

I have seven chapters drafted. It's ticking along nicely.

A mind expanded… Widgets

New toy from Amazon…the reading list.

There will be a test.

Code Red

Had a catch up with an old school chum this afternoon - Phil Twyford, the boy who brought Wombles to the North Shore.

Now a full grown man Phil is the Labour Candidate for the North Shore of Auckland. he seems to have none of the cynical arrogance of the Cullen/Clark generation.

I copied him on a letter to the incumbent National MP (who should earn the title - the invisible man - has anyone ever seen him in the electorate or…heaven forbid…in Parliament? I have never heard his voice. He's been there so long the last time we heard him speak it was probably a choir boy falsetto maiden speech). Twyford replied and invited me for a beer. Mr Mapp ignored me. Hmmm

Anyhoo…Fascinating conversation. Got me thinking.

I like that.

There could be a more thoughtful post in the next day or so…bit I'm not making any promises.

I'm standing by my non partisan position. It's the Emersonian way.

But you gotta respect a 12 year old who can convince an entire school to pick up rubbish (that's…

Caveat Emptor

I sold my motorcycle a couple of weeks back. It went to a chap in Nelson. It seems to have been a touring bike after all, but with no one aboard. Actually it may be been cursed, a ghost bike. The day its new owner went for his first ride the clutch failed. Regular readers will recall the day I took my first ride the front brake seized - sending me ignominiously over the handlebars.

The buyer is grumpy. Understandably so. But the problem is that I didn't know about the clutch when I shipped it off to him. I would either have not sold it if I had known or I would have indicated in the advertisement on the auction site that the problem existed and would need a repair. I flagged the problem with he rear brake (which I told you about here).

If he lived in the same town he would have wanted his money back, or so he says.
It is a shame because he seems to be a decent, older bloke. We've corresponded on the matter. I've explained that I was unaware of the problem, that I had ridden t…

I saw stars at the Rialto Reunion

In 1986-88 I worked at an ad agency called Rialto. The agency collateral said that the reason for the choice of name was inspired by the Rialto Bridge in Italy. I knew that wasn't the case - I'd worked for Roy Meares who was one of the two founders and had heard his story about how he was trying to think of a new name for an agency he and David Innes had been backed into by Hylton Mackley of Clemmenger. Driving through Newmarket he noted the old theatre Rialto and thought it would make great premises - certainly better than the bland, multi-level prefab that housed the host agency Whitaker Advertising. They didn't score the building but did manage to appropriate the name. And what a bloody good name it is. Or should I say, was.

20 years later the reunion for Rialto staff was organised by Elliot Smith. He was courier in the last gasping days of the company after it had been dealt savage knocks by clients who couldn't pay their bills after the stock market collapse in 87 …

Serious about chocolate?

My friend Toni bought a business on the TradeMe website. Chocolate brownies. Hmmm, curious. It fascinated me that she would shell out a not inconsiderable amount of money for a really, really bad website, a cardboard box with some handwritten lists of customers, a brand name and some pretty horribly designed cards and a magic recipe. (Is this starting to sound like Jack and the Beanstalk?). The business is called Serious Brownee.

Once I had gotten over looking at her incredulously and repeating the words…"You didn't…" in that concerned, chuckling way that friends express incredulity - I resolved to do what I could to make myself useful. Now, I'm not much of a baker, so I applied myself to helping out with the marketing: positioning, packaging, webstuff.

Toni has done an amazing job of bring the concept alive. The recipe has been perfected (and she plans to develop limited edition - Gentai - versions. If you are serious about chocolate - get in quick).

With Christmas c…

Presentation Zen

Everybody in business should get better at presentations. I don't mean become more flamboyant - it might be simply a case of being more focused and organised so that I can understand what you want me to do.

One of my favourite sites on the web is Presentation Zen written by Garr Reynolds. The good news is that he has turned his ideas, experience and talent into a book. Sure to become a classic. Presentation Zen - I've Preordered mine - you should too…

Great quote on his latest post:

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” —Shunryu Suzuki

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter)


Teaching can be rewarding (though not financially). I recently finished my third year as a visiting tutor at Massey University's design school at the Albany campus in Auckland.

This year the experience wasn't very positive - or, perhaps, it was.

I am worried about the calibre of students. Universities have become very competitive in their drive to fill seats in classes. Students have become economic units - EFTs. As a result I believe the entry requirements are not rigorous enough and, as a result, graduating students are benchmarked against a low bar. Though my students are studying design I was shocked by their lack of literacy - by that I mean familiarity with contemporary and historical thought about the subject of design and its associated fields. With few exceptions the quality of written presentations was dire. I found little to enjoy whn marking essays or written assignments.

Perhaps most worrying was a lack of real inquiry. Often thoughts progressed little further than w…

Hamish Keith presents The Big Picture

For crying out loud! What is it with Television New Zealand?

Tonight was the premier airing of Hamish Keith's discourse on art in New Zealand called The Big Picture.

Here is TVNZ's own blurb about the show:

"Art is not made for museums - it's made to be part of people's lives," asserts Hamish Keith, iconic arts commentator and presenter of The Big Picture.

This series tells the story of New Zealand art from earliest rock drawings to the present day.

For the first time, viewers will be able to watch a substantial series documenting in detail some of the most significant art works of our history.

The six one-hour episodes, which were several years in the making,…"

I find it disgraceful that an important show such as this, well made, well researched and, dare I say it, IMPORTANT. Not only for people who are interested in art but also for people who are interested in what makes New Zealand what it is (yes, it is more than rugby and tourism). What makes it worse is…

Would you like fries with your hypocracy?

I have watched both episodes of the American television show Californication that have screened so far. I quite like it. David Duchovney does a good job of being a dissolute post-modern brat who makes the kind of arbitrary decisions that could only be described as amoral. Not immoral because, in my book, sexual activity isn't a moral issue unless it involves criminally indecent behaviour. Regular sexual connection between adults (over the age of consent) is just sex. Sex is good.

The widely reported withdrawal of advertisers responding to pressure from self-appointed morality custodians such as 'Family First' (a curious blanket term for neo-conservatism) is just plain weird. The funniest aspect of the whole scenario is that Burger King, the amoral purveyors of heart-choking food and drink (which I am quite fond of); who also promote their goods with nubile women in bikinis have joined the stampede. I can understand the government's Ministry of Economic Development (sou…

A common sense approach to copyright

One of the things about the TED Talks videos that interests me the most is BMW's sponsorship of the talk videos. Probably the smartest sponsorship I've ever seen. I hope it is working well for them - for purely selfish reasons - the library or speeches from some of the worlds leading thinkers is an amazing resource. It consumes a fair chunk of my bandwidth allowance but I make an allowance for the fact that it is a pretty cheap education.

This talk from Larry Lessig (Stanford law professor) is excellent he has a very well rehearsed presentation style and fantastic visuals.

Learn more about his views on Copyright and the Creative Commons at

Coolaboration 2

I like surprising collaborations. Here's a Doozy. Robert Plant, the iconic singer from Led Zeppelin and Alison Kraus, bluegrass engenue collaborating on an album produced by T Bone Burnette. Robert Plant & Alison Kraus - Raising Sand
I've ordered my copy. Right now I'm waiting to take delivery of the soundtrack to the Bob Dylan tribute movie I'm Not There. Heard a preview on RNZ's show The Sampler…full review to follow.

By the way. I apologise to Neil Young fans for my previous commment. Apparently his music is better than it sounds.

Storywrighting - the plot thickens

I've been busily stealing time to write my novel 'Vanishing Act'.

It is harder than I thought. I don't want it to be at all 'literary' (which, given that I am barely literate, will come as a great relief, I'm sure).

The process is interesting. I have a basic story idea that I am quite clear on.
I really don't know what they will think or say or how they will act until it is laid out on the page.

It reminds me of the endless hours I have spent in darkened video editing suites trying to composit a story that makes sense from scenes that seemed perfectly sensible in a script but take on a completely different aspect once they have been shot; shuttling backwards and forwards, making transitions, clipping dialog, adding effects or music. Yes, I'd say writing fiction is very much like that - in fact I 'see' the action in my mind's eye. When I get stuck I just move on to another part of the story. Who said a good story has a beginning, a middle …

Forever Young

When I watch my kids doing whatever my kids do, I hear Bob Dylan singing:

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Then I rewind and hear Rod Steward doing an altogether more nostalgic version (and hope never to hear Neil Young's of key tremulo e…

Elam School of Fine Arts show

On the weekend I visited the showing of 4th Year and masters students exhibition and the Elam School at Auckland University. My general impressions…overall, indifference is the adjectve that comes to mind. I suppose 'fine arts' is a take it or leave it kind of thing versus creating ideas for a market. I felt the exhibition lacked any kind of unifying cohesion - the work was displayed in the rambling studio complex throughout two buildings. Some effort at signage or information architecture would have been helpful, as would a gogent system of identifying who the artists responible for the work were - both next to their exhibits or as a catalogue of the event.

My impressions of the works themselves? There were some interesting pieces. Nothing breathtaking. I like painting but there were few examples of painterly craft. Came away feeling rather flat and uninspired. In other years I have wanted to buy some of the works but I didn't this year.

Mind you, I struggled to feel very …

Will work for beer

When the Internet was in its infancy I caught the bug. I created a site called eMale - a men's interest site designed to be a Trojan Horse for men's health. It generated a lot of traffic but not a bean from advertising. When I joined Lion Nathan as creative director for their online brands I closed it down to focus on the job at hand.

One of the ads I made to promote the site to advertisers read: "Will work for beer", hand written text on a torn piece of corrugated cardboard box. The objective was to promote the site as engaging and fun. I should have picked up the phone though. I had a target audience of exactly 2 people. Lion and Dominion Breweries. Ah the vanity…(the truth is I thought it would make a nice ad).

Today I was driving through Auckland city. Went to the Auckland University Elam School of Fine Art's graduation show - fourth year and master's. I'll make a separate post about that. I have pictures to show you. At the bottom of town, by Victoria …

Top 5 Movies

As it is Friday night. For entertainment purposes only:

1. The Duellists - Ridley Scott's first movie - because Harvey Kietel is better talent than a beer ad.
2. Moulin Rouge- For it's mad originality
3. Fight Club - Ditto and for the Pixies' track in the denouement
4. The Usual Supects- Because I didn't pick it
5. Big Fish - Because it was sweet without being saccharine

Others I like:

In Cold Blood
My Life Without me
Three Colours Blue
Henry V(Kenny Branagh Version)
It's a Wonderful Life

My favourite song at the moment is the idiotic fun of the Barenaked Ladies "If I had a million dollars". I may be wizened and cynical at the best of times - but lock me up in my old Volvo and turn the volume up and the truth will out. When I get sick of playing it over and again I move onto Country Joe's 'Kiss My Ass', a light hearted protest song which I think he played at Woodstock. As I'm in the mood for listing things - my third choice is 'Coma Girl…