Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Incendies: A beautiful and disturbing film

Based on the play of the same name by Lebanese Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad, Incendies was adapted to film by Quebec director Denis Villeneuve and received an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film in 2010.

The story is set in Canada and an unnamed Middle Eastern country where Moslems, Christians, “refugees” and “enemy war planes” fought each other in the seventies (hint, hint).

Incendies is a family drama that tells of the savagery of war and bears witness to the way in which personal tragedy leads to political extremism. The plot kicks into action when a pair of Canadian twins meet with the notary for a reading of their recently deceased mother’s will. She asks to be buried naked in an unmarked grave with her face down so she “can turn away from this world”. She also reveals to her children that their father, whom they’d always thought dead, was alive and also that they have a brother in the Middle East. Only if her twins can find their father and brother, she states, would they be able to give her a proper burial.

The plot shifts between the present-day story of the twins trying to retrace their mother’s past, and the back story of the mother herself. The painful discoveries, twists and turns are riveting and the Middle East imagery (filmed in Northern Jordan) provides a near-desolate, yet fitting, backdrop to this disturbing tale. I loved the fact that they kept the languages real: Canadian French or Levantine Arabic (with subtitles as needed), so the script felt genuine and resonated with me as a local of that region.

With two powerful plots intertwining, I was taken aback on a few occasions when the pace suddenly moved to a slower, “impressionistic” (as a review on Rotten Tomatoes called it) tempo, but most people seemed to like it because it reflects the mood of the original theater production.

Bottom line: if you haven’t seen Incendies yet, you definitely should. If it’s no longer playing in a cinema near you, get the DVD asap.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Vintage Madonna

The Queen of Pop as she prepared to take over the world way back when (and doesn't she totally look like Lola?)

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Note: I received this picture in an email chain so I'm not 100% sure of its credibility, although this does look like Her real Madgesty.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Rant: Corporate Jargon And Annoying Meetings

Don’t get me wrong, I like my corporate foibles as much as the next office drone. But on days like today, (caffeine withdrawal in an attempt to embrace a healthier lifestyle) my tolerance goes down to zilch. Or maybe I've sat in so many meetings and conference calls that I've developed mental allergies to corporate BS.

I'd love to know the psychology behind herd-like business behavior: Does using acronyms make us feel smarter? Or is it a sense of belonging since companies like to think they have created their own "dictionary"? Buzzwords are picked up faster than a high street dress photographed on Kate Middleton.
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website: customersarealways.com
More than the jargon it's also the behavior. Have you noticed how we all copy each other? Especially in meetings and on conference calls. It's like our vocabulary shrinks to only a few words and we all start our presentations and questions with the same expressions, body language and jokes (or attempts to joke).

Here’s my peeve list and what I think these expressions really mean:
Quick question.” It’s NEVER quick!
Let’s make this interactive.” When you hear this, get ready to be killed by PowerPoint and video.
How can my team help you?” Generally, this comes from people trying to justify their existence in the organization AND make themselves seem helpful. If you really needed them, chances are you both know how they can help you and therefore the question is not required.
We need to work closely …” As companies get bigger and more matrixed, this question is often the prelude to a whole bunch of people getting involved in everything and sending accountability flying out the window.
Let’s move on from this point in the interest of time.” I love it when people say this, it usually means that this topic doesn’t fit their agenda and they won’t waste their time answering you.
I will go on mute”. Heheh, this is where you know a person (including yours truly) will stop listening to a conference call.
I will go over this point very quickly.” If only I could claim back the time I lost sitting in presentations where people said this then went on and on for centuries. See point 1: it’s NEVER quick.
I am aware that I’m the only thing standing between you and lunch”. The first person who said this in a presentation must have been funny, but by now this expression is sooooo tired. Find another joke if you’re in a comedic mood.
Good morning, good afternoon or good evening no matter where you are in the world”. We get it, people have dialed into this conference call/webinar from all over the world, hardly a first. Why don’t you just say hello and get going?

-- End Of Rant ;)

Please feel free to add your own h8ted expressions.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Shoe crush of the month: United Nude

I’ve been crushing on United Nude Shoes since I got their Möbius boot this past winter. They have the most unusual fun designs, and I like the story behind the brand: It was founded when Koolhaas, “an architect with a broken heart” (as their website put it) who decided to create something innovative for women. Following a meeting with designer and entrepreneur Galahad Clark (of the Clark shoe dynasty), Koolhaas launched a new footwear company, United Nude, which produces shoes that that are inspired by modern design concepts.

Object of my covetousness: United Nude's Lemon Ultra Möbius Sandal

Each pair is inspired by an architectural object and uses different materials and colors: the first shoe created by United Nude was the “Möbius”, which was inspired by the Barcelona chair created by Bauhaus director Mies Van Der Rohe for the International Exposition in 1929. This design is unique because the sandal is characterised by a single strip that forms the sole, heel, foot-bed and upper of the shoe. The “Eamz” series is based on the aluminum office chair by Ray and Charles, and integrates in its heels a detail of the chair foot. Both the Mobius and Eamz series seem to suspend their wearer in mid-air, kind of like Gaga’s heal-less boots but in a more wearable (and actually quite comfortable and stable) way.
Here's a link to their website: http://www.unitednude.com/