Ch-ch-ch-check it out.

October 29, 2009

An amazing, inspirational, unusual, beautiful, clever and stunningly brilliant hip hop video.
It’s a collaboration between Scratch Perverts, Shlomo and Foreign Beggars.
The video is on a site titled Neurosonics Audiomedical Laboratories, and was shot by Chris Cairns through a London-based production company, called Partizan Films. They edited it at the Mill, again in London, which has the reputation as being one of the very best post-production houses available.
And you can tell that they’ve used the best from the very first frame.
You can check out the credits on the site, and use the links to visit the individual sites of all those involved.
It starts off looking like a normal pre-gig sound check, but then it starts to become a little more unusual.
Here are a couple of stills to give you some idea of how great it looks.

Full Neuro Set

Live on stage

Twin head turntable 2

On the decks

It’s dynamite. I’m not able to do it justice by describing it, so do yourself a favour and check it here. C’mon drop the beat.
It’s only 2 minutes 42 long.
But it’s 2 minutes 42 that you’ll want to enjoy over and over again.
Press rewind if I haven’t blown your mind.

Here’s how ingenious they have to be in Gaza to get round another restriction placed on them by Israel. The Marah Land Zoo isn’t allowed to import any animals so they’ve used their imagination. So they’ve created ‘zebras’ by painting stripes onto a donkey.
Which is a clever solution, but it’s sad that they had to do it in the first place.
Here’s what a wonky looks like:

One of our monochromatic friends

One of our monochromatic friends

Still, the children at the zoo seem pretty happy to see the donkey/zebras. Watch their reactions here.

And, as a positive footnote, the mayor of an Israeli town has offerd to send two real zebras to the zoo.
So the donkeys can stop looking like horses in stripey pyjamas.

This is a story that reinforces all the negative stereotypes about estate agents. And is another reason that their profession almost always sits at the top of polls to find the least trustworthy businesses.
The advert offers an “exceptional fisherman’s cottage” in Romney Marsh in Kent. They point out its proximity to a nature reserve and also that it stands in rural isolation. Which all sounds very nice.
What’s not so nice is the fact that they omit to mention that it is right next door to Dungeness A and B. Or, in simpler terms, a nuclear power station. And we’re not just talking close, we’re talking in the back garden. As you can see below.

Some rooms with no view

Some rooms with no view

The power station also has planning permission to create a third nuclear facility, Dungeness C. So it’s likely that you’ll have them as your neighbours for quite some time to come.
And here’s what I don’t get. I understand that they want to sell the house, and that the power station might put people off. But they’re hardly likely to be happy when they turn up and discover the truth. And that’s where these estate agents fail to understand their target market (or human beings in general). They don’t enjoy people taking advantage of them. Or trying to pull a fast one on them. They’ll still reject the house for the same reasons as they would have if they’d known about it earlier. They’ll just hate the estate agents (Geering and Colyer, in case you were wondering) even more.
And there will be no sale. And the next estate agents will have a harder time as some people have already been lied to. And so on. It becomes a vicious circle.
Read the whole story here on the BBC site, and marvel at the superb reveal that shows just how big a compromise living in this cottage would be.
I’d advise any estate agents reading this to check the tagline at the top of this page: “Practice truth. Fear nothing.”
It means if you tell the truth from the outset noting can come back and bite you on the ass. Like a huge nuclear power station in your proposed new garden.

The fun theory.

October 12, 2009

This is genius.
They’ve proved that making something enjoyable and fun to do means that more people will do it.
It’s a lovely demonstration of what I’ve called ‘common sense’ for years.
They carried out an experiment in Stockholm where they tried to make more people use the stairs by making the stairs more fun to use. And they did this by turning the stairs into a giant piano keyboard. Watch the fantastic results in the film below.

They noticed a 66% rise in the number of people using the stairs. Which shows that their theory certainly deserves more attention. And the same rule applies with advertising. Make it fun for people to watch and you’ll probably do OK. Try it in whatever you do for a living.
Imagine the difference you could make to peoples’ lives.

This is a beautiful film by a great British designer called James Jarvis. It’s supported by Nike. Which I guess means they paid for it, cause they thought it rocked. Watch the full four and a half minutes of beauty below.

I’ve kind of known about his stuff since the mid-90s when a few friends of mine worked at Slam City Skates in London. They were one of the main distributers of Silas clothing, who were the company that James worked for at that time.
He created a huge number of toys for the company, sort of by accident. He created the first ones as a promotional tool to introduce the new range of clothing. Soon they realised that the dolls were taking off in a big way. So they set up a separate company to make them. I’ve got an original King Ken, which you can see below.

King Ken in his original glory

King Ken in his original glory

I still have the box, but he roams free in my flat. What’s the point of having something ace if you can’t look at it and enjoy it?
Which brings me back to the film. The character in it is unmistakably created by Mr Jarvis. It has his mark all over it. The film also shows some lovely touches of humour and insights into the life of the obsessed runner.
And it has very low-key Nike sponsorship. Hats off to them for knowing a great piece of work when they see it (no surprise really, they’ve got lots of form for great work). And hats off to Mr Jarvis who has created something really beautiful and unusual looking. Visit his site here and check out more of his stellar stuff.
And then stick on your sneakers and go onwards.

This is the story of a shop in Lincolnshire that went on fire, causing £250,000 worth of damage.
The loss adjusters examined the evidence at the scene and had expert testimony from fire investigators to determine the cause of the fire. And they concluded that the only possible explanation was that a bird had brought a lit cigarette back to its nest.

Smoking can damage your wealth

Smoking can damage your wealth

You can read the whole story here.
Any cynics who think that it’s just a guess on the part of the loss adjusters should notice the end of the article where it says that 35 different cigarette ends were found in various sparrow’s nests in the roof space.
And, even though no one was hurt, it’s a salutary reminder that smoking can be very bad for you.

A very unique skill set.

October 9, 2009

Here’s a Chinese acrobat/juggler/supreme balancer showing just how amazing humans can be.
She manages to balance on a 7-foot high unicycle whilst piling china bowls, one on top of the others, on her ‘free’ foot.
She then throws them all, with a deft flick of her foot, onto her head.
It’s mind-blowing.

Don't try this at home

Don't try this at home

Watch her performance here.
It was part of the enatertainment at the NBA game in London, where the Bulls beat the Utah Jazz 102-101. Seems like it was a pretty good game. Must have been top notch to have been more impressive than the juggling/unicycling lady.

As someone who commands huge acclaim, and also huge prices, I would have thought that most of the Western world would have heard of Banksy by now. I would have thought that a team of council workmen in Hackney, in east London, whose job it was to clean graffiti from buildings, almost certainly would have heard of him.
Apparently not.
The Banksy image in question was the spoof tagging he did of the Royal family.

king graffiti

King graffiti

The image was put up by Banksy so that it could be photographed for the cover of the Blur single, ‘Crazy Beat’. The owner of the building gave her permission for the image to be painted. It is a private building, not owned by the council. But (and I know most of you will find this hard to believe from one of our normally oh-so-efficient councils) the council sent the letters informing the owner of their intentions to an address that was 25 years out of date.
And that’s part of the problem. No one at any point in the whole shambolic episode has taken any responsibility for what’s happening. They’ve done the absolute minimum possible to cover their own backsides. They’ve defended themselves by saying they sent out letters. But did anyone at the council bother to check why there was no reply? Did anyone think that, as this was a privately owned building, they should get permission before they defaced the building?
I saw this on the BBC site. You can check it here.
Here’s how it looked when she finally managed to get them to stop.

king workmen

king workmen

What’s even more galling is that the workmen smiled and laughed as the owner pleaded with them to stop.
I reckon that, as penance for being horrible, lazy and, ultimately, for breaking the law, the workmen should be forced to allow Banksy to tag an image onto their homes.
See how they like it when the boot’s on the other foot. Even better, don’t bother telling them. Just turn up when they’re at work and stick a 20 foot square mural on the front of their house.
Sweet.

NASA have released some more amazing images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Originally launched in 1990 it was initially beset by problems, the most difficult of which saw the discovery that the main mirror used for gathering images had been incorrectly ground. This severely compromised the telescope’s ability to capture images. However, all the hard work and patience have paid off as it is now sending back unbelievable images.
This image resembles a cosmic butterfly.

The universe is a beautiful place

The universe is a beautiful place

From the NASA website:
“This celestial object looks like a delicate butterfly. But it is far from serene.
What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to more than 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas is tearing across space at more than 600,000 miles an hour – fast enough to travel from Earth to the moon in 24 minutes.”

Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe. It’s a hugely important project that continues to help us understand more and more about this crazy universe in which we live. See more of these amazing Hubble images here.

The images remind me of the Aurora Borealis, or northern lights. I’m amazed by these celestial lights and am planning on visiting the north of Scotland a lot this winter to try and see and photograph these phenomenal natural light displays. Here’s a shot of the Aurora Borealis that shows what I mean.

The awesome beauty of nature

The awesome beauty of nature

Here’s an unusual shot of them, taken from onboard the International Space Station.

Hauntingly beautiful

Hauntingly beautiful

These colourful displays are caused by an interaction between the Earth’s magnetic field and solar wind. They’re another fantastically beautiful natural phenomenon that we spend far too little time studying and paying any attention to.
So, go outside and look for the lights in the sky.
Because they are, truly, things of beauty.