The power of a simple song!

I don’t quite know what it is about music. It somehow triggers emotions in the brain so easily and creates a feeling so quickly and so powerfully that it’s impossible to stop. I wish my brain could do this by itself as easily!

After listening to Tim Noakes speak in South Africa when I came back for a few days recently I’ve started to use my mind to visualize and be more focused on seeing things I want to achieve, mostly fitness related but I suppose there’s no limit if it works. For some reason I’ve been doing the opposite my whole life, I think I took the ‘a watched pot doesn’t boil’ a little too far. Of course the bloody thing will boil whether you watch it or not its simple science you idiot. Took me 30 years to work this one out.

I’m drifting a little.

It’s not easy to get your mind to see something that isn’t there. It’s not easy to focus your mind well enough that it can tell your body its not tired and hot after running 30 minutes in 40 degree heat but somehow music can transport you instantly out of a world and into a memory or a place, it can change your mood, make you smile and send a wave of invincibility over you. Funny how easily it does it.

I guess that’s the magic of music.

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It’s interesting how tough life becomes sometimes (the fact that its 40 fucking degrees outside everyday doesn’t help much) but some days work gets over loading, small things become big things and before you know it you’re screaming mad about something you’re not even sure is right at someone who you never even want to raise your voice to.

Sometimes I get to this point, I guess we all do, when things start to get more frustrating than we are used to tolerating and they build on each other until your default mood becomes aggressive for a while. Its points like this that music can so incredibly melt it all away and allow you to regain the power within that you are so used to.

It’s been a rather long preamble to this story but a few weeks ago I was in Singapore for a supplier conference (sounds so boooooorrrriiiinnnggg and yes these types of things usually are) but this was for one of the biggest consumer goods companies in the world and we were one of 70 suppliers out of 180 000 globally who were invited so the guest list of 350 people was really sexy (well as sexy as this industry gets).

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This client produces some of the most spectacular advertising on the planet (they just cleaned up at Cannes for one of their brands this year) and their intro video to the conference was about their strategy, their focus and their passion and this song was the backing track. It somehow struck a chord in me that ignited a feeling, I guess that’s what great marketers do. It set the tone for the next few days but more importantly it gave me a piece of music that could create that feeling of power that I’ve been lacking somewhat lately.

I recently rediscovered the song (coincidentally at the same place I heard Tim Noakes speak – we stole it for our own event). I think I’ve listened to it 100 times in the last few days and slowly it seems to be restoring my, well I’m not sure what its restoring but every time I listen to it, it gives me that feeling that everything is still possible, that I’m capable of anything still and the passion with which I believed I could make a difference on a global difference when I came here is still alive.

Yes a long preamble I know but turn the sound up, loud, and close your eyes and just embrace the power that this song resonates!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MS1a-SQd79w

 

How Iron Man 3 should’ve ended!

I love the Iron man franchise.

ironman3imaxrelease

There is no way around it. Everything from the toys (if you want to see the cost) to the house (if you want to buy it) to the suits to the the way the genius RDJ brings the character to life, it is all sensational.

There are few movies that get me as excited as Iron Man, maybe a new Bond but that’s about it. So when Iron Man is challenged on any level I get a little defensive, except when its done this well.

These dudes have managed to mock the movie is such a smart way I can barely complain, you just have to watch this.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUYW0JyzydA

(love the way the kids t-shirt says ‘target demographic’)

Animation . . .

So I don’t profess to be a dancer, know anything about dance, understand the moves or in fact get how any person can move their body in time to the music as well as these people do, but maybe it’s just cause I’m white?

I’ve written about So you Think You Can Dance Before, and while tracking back through my posts to find it I realized I have been sucked into a few reality shows along the way, however I haven’t stuck with any except this one!

Now I know this article is a little late, but I suppose you could think of it being very early for  the new season, and if you are only hearing about it for the first time you are about 9 seasons too late!

Now I know very season they have to bring a new ‘thing’ into it, a better, soppier story, a tighter race, more drama, it is a reality show after all, but this season there was a guy called Cyrus who was an animator?! If you’re first thought is WTF, then you would be in the same place I was a few months ago.

Here’s a taste . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5tINcRvc_8

In all seriousness, like I said in the beginning, I’m no dance expert but sometimes there are things in the world that are movingly beautiful and I find more of them on this show than I have on pretty any other much. The combination of magical choreography with perfect dance execution, judges that aren’t narcissistic self-righteous assholes (Gareth Cliff take note) and a host who is fun, smart and seriously hot, plus the best variety and quality of music around, all of this has got to add up to something outstanding . . . and it does.

If however you are not sold on the artistic and creative genius of this show then perhaps the allure of half-naked women with outrageously good bodies dancing is a better sales pitch? That, they have in magical abundance too!

These are just two routines of the animator Cyrus which blew my mind but I suggest you head over to YouTube and go have a look at the madness of talent . . . this is SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8xh3xkuSUI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcD8mBv16jQ

TONY STARK is back baby!

I’m not sure what it is about Tony Stark, maybe it’s the toys (probably most of it is), maybe it’s his unashamed fuck you attitude to the world (the one where he just knows he is sharper than everyone else) or maybe it’s the suit (I doubt it) but whatever it is I’m obsessed with the dude (one of my very close friends even gave me a framed poster that says ‘Live everyday as if you are Tony Stark! Which, inspires me daily!)

If there is one fictional character I wish I could be it would be him without doubt and lets be fair when they cast Robert Downey Jr to be him they hit the proverbial nail on the head! The man oozes Tony Stark je ne se qua!

 

Now you can only imagine how excited I get to be able to see this imagined character come to life for a few hours every two years or so. It’s probably the only movie I think I actually get excited for (well that and James Bond – see a pattern here?).

So for all of you on the same Iron Man crack-like addiction here is the first real trailer for the new movie! Very dark and very cool – ENJOY!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EjG-1U3wqA

Music for the Instagram generation!

I’m trying to work out why I like this music video so much?

I mean the song is pretty good but I don’t even think I would listen to it without the video. The truth is I get bombarded (mostly self-inflicted) with so many images on a daily basis that I think I need to be over stimulated, visually, in order to actually be interested. I have to have a million windows open with Tweet deck streaming in the back ground and the ability to toggle between email, private and personal, web pages and anything sent or received while watching a presentation . . . that’s how I like to live my work day.

This video allows your brain just enough time to process the image before it takes it away and I just love how it continually keeps me engaged (plus the fact that it’s so intagram-filter-saturated that every single pic looks exceptionally fun just adds to it! Yes yes and okay the song is pretty damn cool!)

Enjoy!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zvzWsrS3JE&feature=player_embedded&noredirect=1#!

X factor will blow your mind all over the wall!

I’m not a big reality show person, in fact when I saw South African Idols was coming back I held a night vigil outside parliament to intervene (I almost got as many people as JuJu’s night vigil) but when I do get into one, like So you think you can dance, I get into it properly!

I was VERY skeptical about the new X factor. I mean if you put up $5mill as a prize, of course you are going to have a million audition-ers and of course you will, just by playing the odds, get some good ones and some very good ones. Then you add Simon Cowell, Paul Abdul who lets be fair do this kind of thing in their sleep (at this point we were just and American Idol carbon copy with more prize money) but then they added the delicious Nicole Sherzinger and possibly the coolest man alive LA Reid – so now we were getting somewhere.

They took a slightly different view by making categories rather than one straight road (Over 30s, Groups, Boys, Girls)and make no mistake this was not so you could jam to a bunch of different people, it was so they could sell more records to multiple target markets, that Simon is a smarty pants isn’t he?

Finally they gave each category to a judge to mentor – so now we have something unique in terms of show. The set looks like it cost more than the U2 360 tour set and the production value makes every other competition show like this, seem like it has been held in someone’s mother’s basement!

The question I still kept asking was why the hell must I watch a new group of people who will be as good / average as the last 5000 seasons of idols? So, I resigned myself to watching the auditions. If there was nothing that was blow-your-brain-all-over-the-wall-amazing I could end it before I got sucked in and still save some dignity!

Here’s what I found! (If you don’t want to watch them all WHICH YOU SHOULD! Then watch Drew – even though the first 30secs will kill you keep watching she is a musical GENIUS! Watch Melanie – she auditions a Beyonce song and sounds better than Beyonce & finally watch Brian Bradley WHO WILL become a hip hop giant!)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FbsmvXzMJY

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BWPbIdFlvs

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIoNP6BG7wU

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TanlK2J4eoA

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOPew2CfXKk

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqjroNlL4pI

Now tell me those don’t blow away, trash, kick the living shit out of any other FIRST auditions on any show you’ve EVER seen (well except maybe Paul Potts but that’s just the ‘life-time achievement award’ of first time auditioning! I just watched it again and started crying and got goose bumps – fuck I’m pathetic sometimes!)

This is probably the most diverse crowd of talent, outside of that fuckwit Piers Morgans America’s-got-freaks-but-we-already-knew-that-so-why-put-them-on-tv show, and has some of the most special musical abilities I have ever seen. In fact watching it last night I said I wanted the competition to stop and I chose three or four of them and said I’d be happy if no one in the world ever made music again except these people (maybe I got a little excited)

The fact remains that every.single.one.of.them is not good, not great but sublime! If you are not watching this show you are going to miss some of the greatest amateur performances of your life.

Hold fast to small victories South Africa . . .

South Africa is a tough place to live, if you are honest.

Don’t get me wrong, we love it and the lifestyles great but the truth is there are so many problems in this place that unless you try and block it out you tend to want to slash your wrists most of the time. I mean as I type this there are 10 000 unemployed youths following a dictator in training, down the streets of Joburg for a cause most of them can’t even spell (it’s for ‘economic freedom’) let alone try implement.

Now, if there are that many problems in that ONE sentence imagine the rest of it all.

I’m not writing this to make you cry in the fetal position in the shower but I find as a South African you need to cling to small victories because they give us hope, they make us feel happy even if just for a fleeting moment. Most of all they turn us into, a word that’s seldom used in this part of the world, PATRIOTS!

That’s why we smile when they mention our country in a random TV series, or the fact that the bad guy in the movie is from Joburg. That’s why we need Charlize to take over Hollywood . . .

. . . and when we see moments like this our hearts jump and our eyes fill with tears!

That’s why we hold onto victories for generations . . .

. . . because sadly we don’t get to be proud of our nation as often as we want!

Last night I had one of these small victories.

In the finale of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, two of the finalist got, what we affectionately refer to, as a gumboot dance (they seem to think it’s called STEPPIN – damn yanks!)

I thought for a moment we would get screwed as we normally do (cue Bryce Lawrence / Alan Donald run-out / Stephen Larkam drop goal etc) but the intro from the choreographer was absolutely spot on crediting the South African gold miners for inventing this style of dance!

You may think it’s silly or small minded but for the two minutes that these guys danced on a stage watched by millions of people, all over the world, it made me remember that feeling of pride, that feeling of the world’s eyes on us as their mouths start to crinkle up in a smile. It’s one of the greatest feelings you can have, so hold onto small victories South Africa, enjoy the moments of pride when we get them because sadly they come far more seldom than we would wish!

Here you go :)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfDXJTGPwxY&feature=related

How do you make opera interesting?

I don’t like Opera, well to be fair, I haven’t really given it a chance but the fact that my most vivid opera memory is waking up in the middle of Aida and looking left to see my father and two brother fast asleep (I remember this but don’t remember the story line?)

The reason I guess is I’m part of a generation that needs to be entertained – don’t blame us – the world made us into this! So when we go to a show, a movie, a play or even watch TV we need to be entertained! This doesn’t mean it needs sex, violence or mad action scenes (although these help) it means that we need to be encompassed by what we are watching. We need effort to be put into costumes, set, creativity in characters and plot. We need it to poke and prod at our senses, our minds and our subconscious all at the same time!

I digress slightly.

The reason I fear that I’ve hardly started to appreciate live opera is that it generally, in this country, is a little half ass. I don’t mean to mock but when I see things like this it makes me realize just how powerful shows out there are and I wonder if I were confronted with design and creativity like these – would I be engaged and would I be enthralled enough to grow to love it?

After you’ve seen a few of these you start to realize why I love, and write about, So you think you can dance. The reason is it combines music, song, setting, the body’s movement as well as storyline to give us a most entertaining chunk of creativity – mind blowingly so most of the time, tantalizing and delighting every part of our brains!. I think if I were to be confronted with a set and costumes like these I would be able to get into live opera a bit better!

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjIh-OrtIeg&feature=player_embedded

 From HERE!

 

Photos. Old and new.

When I was a kid, in fact all the way until adulthood, cameras were things that only really came out for special occasions. This all changed when things went digital. I remember getting a digital camera for my 21st birthday and at the time it was one of the first in my circle of friends and family. In a short space of time however they were commonplace and and with this change in photography came a shift in the number of photographic memories we were able to generate. If I consider the number of pictures my parents have from their twenties versus what the average twenty something has today, the difference is immense. Probably tens vs. thousands.

The reason I was thinking about this, in a somewhat round-about way I suppose, was because of these pictures taken by Irina Werning. The project is called back to the future and it’s effectively the recreation of photos of childhood pictures. Same setting, same clothes, different age.

Check out the rest.

Originality isn’t popular

You may have seen this clip before. The fact that almost 17 000 000 people have watched it on YouTube means there’s a decent chance that you’re one of them. And while it’s certainly entertaining, it highlights something about people in general – as much as we try to be unique, original creatures we’re actually rather boring and conform to popular ideas, beliefs and likes, regardless of whether they’re actually meaningful, real or any good.

Politics, religion, ideology, fashion, pop music etc. (as an aside I hate the use of “etc.” but in this case one could really go on) could all easily fall into this category of having mass popularity for often very unapparent reasons.

I think I lost my train of thought during the course of smashing a post-work dark ale on a cold winter’s evening so watch the video and think about it yourself. Although thinking’s not always a popular past time…

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pidokakU4I

Thanks Rich

The award for most likely to become annoying as hell goes to . . .

ALEXIS JORDAN!

I must say when i first heard this song i really enjoyed the tune, very catchy, very cool sound and good for a little summer drive home in the summer heat!

I then made the error of downloading it! You see this is just one of those songs that once you’ve heard it a few times it starts to stick in your head like a bad hangover and before long you are willing to tear your ear drums out to stop the pain!

So if you havent heard it . . . enjoy for the first few times!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi3PdnXYM08

Lego destroyed . . .

Im not sure if its the kid in me or the man that sometimes has an over whelming desire to break shit and this video just came along at such a superb time inline with the previous lego post!

It may be slightly immature but it would be seriously fun to take on one of those sculptures wiht this arsenal of guns (and its Lego vs Lego so its fair!)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrBW-nnRm1Y&feature=player_embedded

Life is not fair!

I spent last week in Mumbai visiting a business we have there. It’s the first time I’ve been to India at all and without question was one of the most humbling and inspiring four days of my life. I left India with a renewed energy that can only be given by a place that shows you just how hard you need to fight if you want to make something of yourself in this world.

At some point when I can collect my thoughts I will write about it.

One thing stands out in my mind and here’s why.

It started by hearing a song in the hotel car. Now when you stay at the Taj palace the driver wears a suit and white gloves. He has a set of ten disks in his car – one for every perceivable foreign speaking person that may be in his car. I happened to be English and so one of the songs on the disk was the song below. If you listen to the song as I did I tried to recall where I had heard it and I’m pretty sure it was SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE (i went to go find the link afterwards) and i found the song harrowing. Ive spoken about the combination of music, dance and emotion before on this show as it seems to introduce me to musical genres i would otherwise never make a connection.

As I lay back in the car listening to this harrowing song having just left the brand new AER Bar at the Four Seasons Mumbai where like a socialite glutton (at the time I must confess I loved it) drank Grey Goose vodka on the 45 floor overlooking Mumbai feeling like an international rock star.

The problem however is as I sank back into the chair and glanced outside I realised we were driving through a slum. Now the slums of Mumbai make those in South Africa look like the Four Seasons I had just left and it became more and more clear how sad and unfair life is. Here I was being chauffeured drunk on Grey Goose through Mumbai back to my exceptional hotel while these millions of people slept with no lights, no water and no form of civilization I could see or think of.

Now don’t get me wrong this isn’t the first time I’ve seen poverty nor the first time I’ve felt sympathy but the combination of alcohol buzz and the words and melody of this song conjured the most powerful of experiences and I realised why I have to remind myself everyday of just how lucky I actually am.

Close your eyes one night and listen to this song in the quiet darkness of your home and imagine the life both better and worse that you could have had . . .

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v_4O44sfjM

Lego . . .

When I was old enough not to swallow the pieces my mom gave me a massive wooden wine crate (we drink a lot of wine in our family so pretty much everything is in a wine crate) full of Lego pieces! It was the combination and remains of all the Lego sets owned, used and destroyed by my brothers almost a decade my senior.

It was probably to date the best present I’ve got from my parents, well maybe a car was better (albeit a car well into its geriatric phase) never the less Lego became a MASSIVE part of my childhood. I could create lands, time, vehicles and the stories that went with them. For a kid it’s probably the greatest ability to express their imagination (unless you use the bloody number by number instructions)!

Some kids I spose never grew up, or maybe they did, maybe their medium just became their childhood passion that they had become so accustomed to that they could sculpt anything, like Nathan Sawaya .

Genius can be found in many places and many shapes or forms but there are few that I’ve seen experiment with art this far out of the realms of normal and create something that is accessible and understandable by everyone.

His work is simple yet poignant and can express a range of emotions I have seldom seen in any other ‘traditional’ medium – just have a look . . .

Go see THE REST OF THEM?

Mime sucks . . . or does it now?

Since its been a bit heated this week and fortunately for all our sakes my partner reminded me just how glorious it is to sit back and enjoy something rather than ranting about it, I think its time to end off this week with some fun shit!

Now I find the best thing about ‘the next generation’ (in other words the generation following your own) is the fact that they take what the previous generation did and improved on it! So to give you an example, when I was in junior school and you said mime my brain automatically went to this . . .

And then because I hate those annoying white face painted idiots who cant get out of a box made of nothing but their bloody imagination (fine yes I had a bad mime experience once) my brain straight away went to this . . .

BUT we as a generation (well when I say we I don’t mean I because if I had my way they would all have been shot at dawn) realised that there was some entertainment value there only we need to get rid of the creepy ‘child molester’ vibe they give off and make it fun . . . a few practice sessions later and out pops pure entertainment genius!

The brilliance of David Armand or should I say Johann Lippowitz!!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glzkWmJgCgY

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zajDLCsDxeM&feature=related

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xp_hcJ-Sepg