Pan’s Labyrinth – #357/365


Not long to go now before I complete my 365 things for which I am grateful.

If you’re a newcomer to this blog, at the beginning of 2014 I decided to embark on a project that highlighted just how lucky we, in the ‘West’, are in comparison to many other people around the world. And how much we take for granted – such as running water, a roof over our heads or food in our bellies.

Today’s offering is a magical movie directed by Guillermo del Toro, called Pan’s Labyrinth.

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It’s the story of Ofelia who travels with her pregnant mother to meet her sadistic step-father, the brutal Captain Vidal, at his base in the north of Spain where he is fighting the post-civil war rebels.

Once there, she is befriended by a maid by the name of Mercedes who is helping the rebels with medical supplies, information and such.

ofelia_reading_a_storybook

One night, a fairy comes to Ofelia and takes her to meet a faun in a secret labyrinth. Now, when I say, ‘fairy’, don’t be thinking of Tinkerbell or some pretty, pink fluffy thing with wings. This fairy bears more of a resemblance to a flying stick insect than a Winx Club. (Which prods us to wonder if this is all just in Ofelia’s imagination to help her through the violence and misery of her surroundings.)

Once in the bowels of the Earth, the faun tells her that she is the princess of a long-forgotten kingdom and, if she is to meet her real father – the king – ever again, she must complete three grizzly tasks to prove her loyalty.

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Of course, Ofelia is well up for it and goes about her task with such vim that an I’m a Celebrity contestant would only balk in horror at.

Meanwhile, her mother is a sickly lass and has taken to her bed. The vile Captain Vidal has his hands full torturing and butchering rebels and has no time for Ofelia.

pans-labyrinth

It all comes to a head when Ofelia kidnaps her newborn baby brother to protect him from his evil father. Unfortunately, Captain Vidal, who only has eyes for his son and heir, has other plans for Ofelia…

"A little off the top?"

“A little off the top?”

Pan’s Labyrinth is spine-tingling  fairytale for adults.

Exquisitely filmed and beautifully acted, the film is both horrific and enchanting. And, I for one, am grateful that I got the opportunity to see it. Several times.

Here’s the trailer, but you can actually watch the entire film on YouTube if you like. Don’t know what the quality’s like, mind.

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Things for which I’m grateful #356 – Advertising.


Yes, advertising. Nike,1990s,UK It’s hard to think of an industry more vilified by the general public than advertising. With the possible exceptions of bankers and estate agents. Oh, and insurance companies. We’re all wankers in the public’s eyes. It’s true that I’ve met quite a few charlatans in my time but I’ve also met lots of lovely people whom I admire, respect and have maintained long-lasting friendships. Advertising has given me many happy years coming up with ideas for stuff. Then having them bludgeoned to death by account handlers and clients. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some fantastically talented directors, photographers, illustrators, writers and art directors. I’ve also had the good fortune to have gone on the odd exotic TV shoot. come-along-gentelman In my 30 years in the ad industry I reckon I’ve only had three decent jobs out of about – actually, I genuinely can’t remember how many jobs I’ve had. The three best agencies I’ve worked for were BRAHM in Leeds, Owens DDB and Chemistry, (both in Dublin). They probably account for about 10 out of my 30 years in advertising. That’s a long time spent working in crap agencies. Of course, young hipsters will think someone like me is past it. I’ve heard a few digital johnnies bleating on about how traditional advertising doesn’t engage in a dialogue with consumers like online media can. Bollocks. As soon as you get a customer thinking about your ad you are engaging in dialogue. Whether that’s via the medium of television, press or on a billboard. Think_Different_poster_billbernbach Just because you have the capacity for a customer to literally respond to your message on social media doesn’t mean you’ve entered into a dialogue with them. In fact, judging by the mass majority of offer/promotion-based ads on social media, I would argue that this is monologue, not dialogue. The key to a successful engagement with a customer is to have an idea that resonates with what’s going on in their life. Without an idea, you have nothing. And, what digital johnnies lack is the ability and experience to come up with big advertising ideas. Of course, there have been one or two great online campaigns. (Old Spice springs to mind.) But not enough. And ad agencies today need to go back to the old ways of doing things but with today’s media and technology. Is it just me, or is there a dearth of good advertising around? interbrew-sheep-small-51151 Advertising is very simple: A great idea should contain two things: An insight into your target audience and a brand/product truth that will match the consumer insight. For example: If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen.

  1. A) ‘If only everything in life…’ = Life is full of ups and downs (consumer insight).
  2. B) ‘…was as reliable as a Volkswagen’. = If all else fails, you can rely on your Volkswagen. (Product benefit).

A + B =     Ta-dah! (Told you it was simple.) It’s often overcomplicated by people using big words to make themselves look more intelligent who try to portray it as a science. Great ideas come from great propositions. Here are a few straplines from yesteryear, when advertising was great. See how many you can match to their brand. (And they’d all translate brilliantly to online media.)

  1. Probably the best lager in the world.
  2. The world’s favourite airline.
  3. Think different.
  4. I bet he drinks…
  5. Good food costs less at…
  6. It is. Are you?
  7. …refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach.
  8. Australians would give a … for anything else.
  9. Beanz meanz …
  10. The Ultimate Driving Machine.
  11. Just do it.
  12. Vorsprung durch technic
  13. Reassuringly expensive
  14. It’s a new toy every day.
  15. We try harder.
  16. Happiness is a cigar called…
  17. The cream of Manchester.
  18. Hello Tosh, got a…
  19. You know, when you’ve been…
  20. I smoke ‘em, cos my name’s on ‘em.

That doesn’t mean that every ad campaign needs a strapline. (The Economist being a good case in point.) What a great strapline does is encapsulate the client’s strategy, which each individual concept/execution has to fit into for consistency of message. cream-of-manchester   So my advice to any young whippersnappers out there thinking of a career as an art director or writer is, whatever you do, don’t rock the boat. Tip the fucking thing over. There are too many safe-sailor-suits and bland-brand-bosuns as it is. N.B. None of the examples of great work I’ve shown here are mine.

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The ‘alternative’ George Osborne speech.


The Chancellor, George Osborne.

The Chancellor, George Osborne.

NSFW or kids.

In today’s Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne has [allegedly] admitted that he’s made a ‘right, royal cock-up of the economy’. In a speech to the House of Commons, Osborne [allegedly] said that he ‘couldn’t give a rat’s ass’ about the consequences, as it would only affect snivelling little poor people anyway.

‘I’m not arsed what these scroungers think,’ he [allegedly] said. ‘I’m fucking minted! And they’re hardly going to contribute to the coffers in my retirement. It’s the bankers and top business people I need to keep sweet if they’re going to pay for my mansion in Cheshire. That’s why they’re getting all the tax breaks. And who’s going to pay for it? Why, the poor of course. It’d be tragic if it wasn’t so fucking ironic.

‘I saw this great documentary the other day called, “The Hunger Games”, and I thought we could introduce something similar over here, where dole dossers and people on minimum wage have to battle it out for grub. Last family standing gets first dabs at the Foodbank. Besides, there’s too many of the fuckers, and none of them vote for us, so it’s a win-win.

‘And don’t get me started on the ‘bedroom tax’. I can’t believe anyone fell for that bollocks. We’re thinking of introducing a ‘bathroom tax’. Those dirty bastards never wash anyway.’

Asked why Britain’s deficit was growing rather than shrinking, Osborne [allegedly] said, ‘Shut the fuck up, you plank. Those fuckwit voters haven’t noticed that the economy is stagnant and that austerity measures have utterly failed to reduce the deficit or kick-start the economy. People are more skint now than they were when we took office. Well, except for me and my rich mates, of course. We’re fecking coining it in.’

When quizzed about the reduction in unemployment figures, he gave a wry grin and [allegedly] said, ‘IDS has played a blinder there. He basically gets people off Jobseekers by getting Atos to register them as self-employed. They still sit around all day doing fuck-all but they get Working Tax Credits instead of JSA. It’s great for the stats.

‘But there’s always the parasites who say they’re too sick to look for work. IDS just sends them back anyway. If they don’t go, he slashes their benefits in half. One bloke he’d kicked off sick benefits had the audacity to get his missus to ring up and say he was dead. Fucking dead! Can you believe it? Sheesh, some people will do anything to get out of work. IDS must be doing something right though, even the bankers think he’s a heartless twat.’

‘Right then, piss off, I’m late for a champagne breakfast with Merrill Lynch.’

Of course, this is all hearsay and has yet to be confirmed by official sources. Our chief reporter has it on good authority that it was said by some blood-sucking turd, who was seen draining the life out of a pensioner, and we just put two and two together.

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Cantankerous Yorkshireman wants to be ‘liked’.


Dear Fellow Bloggers and Followers,

I wanted to ask a favour…

Hello?

Where did everyone go?

I’ve finally gotten round to setting up an author page on Facebook and I’d be very grateful if you could pop along and ‘like’ it for me. Here’s the link:

https://www.facebook.com/thereisnocavalry

What’s in it for you?

Well, you’ll get to hear the latest about what I’m working on. (Big deal.)

A sci-fi short story called 'Little Snow'.

A sci-fi short story called ‘Little Snow’.

I’ll post some funny stuff about writing. (Meh.)

Tell it like it is.

Tell it like it is.

There’ll be some words of wisdom and encouragement from famous writers. (I have a Pinterest account too, you know.)

Aaawww.

Aaawww.

Let’s be honest, it’s really just a vehicle to promote my books. So, if you’re not that interested in novels, short stories, poetry or screenplays written by a cantankerous old Yorkshireman, then it’s probably not for you.

Buy my book!

Buy my books!

 

 

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The Universe – Things for which I am grateful #355/365


galaxy

Sometimes, I find it utterly extraordinary that any of us are here at all. How we have come to be in this chaotic universe is nothing short of miraculous. Imagining all of the things that had to take place over the past 14 billion years in order for us to exist are almost too enormous to comprehend.

Then, on other days, I just think we’re randomly floating around space on a giant ball of muck.

spiral-galaxy

I am in awe of our universe and the secrets hitherto unanswered. Who or what created it? Is there life after death? Are there parallel universes? Is there life on other planets?

amonite

What else I find mesmerising about the universe is how what is going on out there in space is mirrored down here on Earth – down to the microscopic level. Whether we’re looking at a spiral galaxy or the fractal patterns on a leaf.

plant

Scientists estimate that there are between 4.2 and 5.3 trillion habitable planets in the observable universe. It’s hard to fathom that we are the only planet to have evolved intelligent life. If that is the case, what a waste of a universe that would be. Mankind has hardly showered itself in glory this past brace of millennia.

river

tree

fractal

From macro to micro – The scale of the universe. (Click and slide.)

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This short film about the nature of space/time will blow your mind. If this is true then’s there’s no point us worrying about the future – it already exists.

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Love – Things to be grateful for #354/365


Where’d we be without Love, eh?

Here’s where.

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Not a pretty sight.

What kind of love am I talking about?

I think there are five basic types of love:

1. The love of one’s family.

2. The love of one’s friends.

3. The love of one’s pets.

4. The love of one’s children.

5. Romantic love.

The love of family, friends and pets are pretty similar in some respects – when, no matter how big a dick you are – they still love you despite all your shortcomings.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 00.02.37

True, your friends get to choose you, whereas your family and pets don’t have an option. Still, it’s always reassuring to know that someone is there for you even if it is only a disgruntled pooch.

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Romantic love is a biggy. It’s probably the most euphorically ecstatic feeling a human being can experience. (Apart from synthetic drugs.)

It is also the most agonisingly painful when it isn’t reciprocated.

I suppose some people never experience true love. And that’s a tragedy. Some people do, then lose it. That’s just life.

I have been fortunate to have experienced love a couple of times, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to share that feeling with another human being.

love3

Of course, none of those relationships lasted and some were mind-meltingly painful to recover from. (Or was that the synthetic drugs?) But I’m still glad I got the opportunity to experience that sensation of pure bliss.

Finally, the love of one’s children. I was a very late starter. I had children in my early 40s. And something changed inside me. Literally. Chemically. I imagine it sounds quite odd to someone who doesn’t have them.

I have never known love like it. I would die for them. I would kill for them. Love is utterly unconditional. Non-negotiable.

Of course, they can be little shits at times too. Then again, so can I.

naughty

Love can save your life.

When you’re at your lowest ebb, contemplating the futility of existence – it is often the thought of the people we love that can help save us from the abyss.

So, for all of those types of love I am very grateful. I know that if I never experience romantic love ever again, I will always be satiated by the fact that I have the other four. Well, the cat’s a bit shady, so maybe three.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 20.29.00

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Glory, glory, Leeds United! #353/365


smiley

Not many posts to go now before I complete my 365 things to be grateful for so I shall have to be selective.

It’s been a while since the once mighty Leeds United gave me anything to be grateful for. We’ve been languishing in the lower leagues since 2004. Scandalous really, when you think about the size of the club.

team

Leeds United is the benchmark for how not to run a football club. And the new owner, convicted tax dodger, Massimo Cellino doesn’t appear to be fairing any better. We’re already on our fourth manager this season.

But one can’t simply change one’s allegiances because the team is going through a sticky patch. Admittedly, a decade-long sticky patch.

Supporting a football team – or any team for that matter – is an act of basic tribalism. And, as we all know, a tribe is for life, not just for Christmas. So we have to take the rough with the smooth. God knows we’ve had our fair share of rough. Even more than Wayne Rooney.

'ave it.

‘ave it.

Most of Leeds United’s success came in the late 60s and early 70s before I started watching them in the mid 1970s, just as they began to decline. Though, I did get to see them win the old first division title in 1992 before it changed to the Premier League.

To pay homage to that team, I have to give mention to our outstanding midfield quatro of: the combatant David Batty in the middle, partnered by the graceful Gary McAllister. On the right, the feisty and mesmerising Gordon Strachan and the on the left wing, the beguiling Gary Speed. (May the gods rest his soul.)

speed

Honours

We won the league title three times in ‘69, ’74 and ’92.

Won the FA Cup in 1972 thrashing Arsenal 1-0. Alan ‘Sniffer’ Clarke scoring the only goal.

Won the League Cup in ’66. (Beating Arsenal 1-0.)

Won the Charity Shield in ’69, ’74 and ’92.

Lost 2-0 in the final of the European Cup in 1975 against Bayern Munich. Though we did have two penalty appeals turned down and a goal disallowed even though the ref initially gave it, then changed his mind after a lot of badgering from Franz Beckenbauer.

Billy Bremner being a perfect role model.

Billy Bremner being a perfect role model.

Won the UEFA cup in ’68 and ’71. Beating Hungarian team, Ferencváros and Italy’s Juventus respectively.

Lost 1-0 to A.C. Milan in the ’73 final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup final.

Champions League semi-finalists in 2001.

We’ll have to wait patiently until a chairperson with integrity and vision comes along to change the fortunes of the great Leeds United. And come it will, one day.

Meanwhile, here are some of their highlights.

 

FOOTBALL LEAGUE

1968-69 First Division champions

1973-74 First Division champions

1991-92 First Division champions

1964-65 First Division runners-up

1965-66 First Division runners-up

1969-70 First Division runners-up

1970-71 First Division runners-up

1971-72 First Division runners-up

1923-24 Second Division champions

1963-64 Second Division champions

1989-90 Second Division champions

1927-28 Second Division runners-up

1931-32 Second Division runners-up

1955-56 Second Division runners-up

2009-10 League One runners-up

 

FA CUP

1972 FA Cup winners

1965 FA Cup finalists

1970 FA Cup finalists

1973 FA Cup finalists

 

FOOTBALL LEAGUE CUP

1968 Football League Cup winners

1996 Football League Cup finalists

 

CHARITY SHIELD

1969 FA Charity Shield winners

1974 FA Charity Shield runners-up

1992 FA Charity Shield winners

 

FA YOUTH CUP

1993 FA Youth Cup winners

1997 FA Youth Cup winners

 

EUROPEAN CUP

1974-75 European Cup finalists

1969-70 European Cup semi finalists

1992-93 European Cup second round

 

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

2000-01 Champions League semi finalists

 

EUROPEAN CUP WINNERS CUP

1972-73 European Cup-Winners Cup finalists

 

INTER CITIES FAIRS CUP/UEFA CUP

1967-68 European Fairs Cup winners

1970-71 European Fairs Cup winners

1966-67 European Fairs Cup finalists

1965-66 European Fairs Cup semi finalists

1968-69 European Fairs Cup quarter finalists

1971-72 UEFA Cup first round

1973-74 UEFA Cup third round

1979-80 UEFA Cup second round

1995-96 UEFA Cup second round

1998-99 UEFA Cup second round

1999-00 UEFA Cup semi finalists

2001-02 UEFA Cup third round

2002-03 UEFA Cup third round

 

LEAGUE HISTORY

1920-24 Second Division

1924-27 First Division

1927-28 Second Division

1928-31 First Division

1931-32 Second Division

1932-47 First Division

1947-56 Second Division

1956-60 First Division

1960-64 Second Division

1964-82 First Division

1982-90 Second Division

1990-92 First Division

1992-2004 FA Premier League

2004-07 Championship

2007-10 League One

2010- Championship

  • Record all-time goalscorer : Peter Lorimer 238
  • Record appearances in league matches : Jack Charlton 629
  • Record all-time appearances : 773 Jack Charlton/Billy Bremner

 

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