Merry Christmas

from Karen O.

Dear Michelle:

Boxing Day is just a little more than a day away. If you want to shop smart, know that women's wear is turning to the 70s for inspiration. Check out these Siwy (FLARED LEG) jeans that British Vogue is calling the 'it' denim style for 2009.


"Soul" Commercial from McD's

You could wrestle with this video a little and think about why you've never seen it in Vancouver, ask yourself, "Is this racist?" (as they are doing on Bossip), or just watch it for a laugh.

Early Christmas Present!!



Lockdown Shelter

team9 vs. Stereogum - Lockdown Shelter



Will return in 2009.

Athlete's World and Salvation Army

I am disturbed by the similarities between these two campaigns.


Alinea at Home

So it's the holidays and you might have a little time on your hands. If you're ambitious and want a challenge, how about baking some cookies? There are some other people who will take being a home gourmet to the next level like Carol Blymire, who, judging from her actions, I would consider to be clinically insane. In 2007, Blymire took on the notoriously complicated French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller and cooked every recipe in the book. This year, she's taking on Alinea by Grant Achatz. Achatz, a Chicago-based chef, is something of a wunderkind who was diagnosed with tongue cancer early on in his career. His treatment impaired his ability to taste tremendously. And yet, Achatz is one of the most celebrated chefs in the world. It could be hype ... who knows. There's a inspiring piece by the New Yorker about Achatz here with pictures of his food.

In any case, if you have a look at the food, you'll immediately have a sense of how stupid it is to try to replicate it at home. And yet Blymire has been fairly successful at her attempts so far in the past 3 months. See her culinary insanity here, where she attempts to make the hot mess of bacon, apple and thyme pictured above.

Obama logo contenders

The graphic design team behind the Obama campaign have posted other interesting mock ups for their logos here. The interview below is very cool, especially part two, which describes where the logo went after the firm handed it off to the campaign. Check out "Pirates for Obama" about 3 minutes in on the second video.

Part two


From Details
1. I don’t believe in playing around much with suit cuts. I like a fairly classic shape that gives a man strong shoulders, a fitted waist, and long legs. Classic simplicity always works.

2. Someone who is secure enough to be very present when relating to another person is sexy. In other words, a good listener always lands who he wants.

3. When mixing patterns, don’t think about it too much—just throw it together.

4. I hate the trend of short suit jackets. When a man’s butt is showing below the bottom of his jacket, I think it makes him look like a female flight attendant from the back—not my idea of sexy.

5. With jewelry, I actually like bracelets more than anything else, but they have to be small and simple. Cary Grant always wore a simple gold bracelet with his watch, and I think that was very chic.

6. If you’re careful not to overuse Botox, then yes, why shouldn’t you use it? A little bit of it between the brows can make you look less stern and more approachable. Who needs to frown, anyway?

7. Just like girls need to learn to be comfortable in heels before they go out in them for the first time, a man should try wearing a suit throughout a normal day. I do most things in a suit—and sometimes even in a tuxedo—and so I’m really comfortable in one.

8. When it comes to grooming, keep earwax out of the ears and keep stray hairs and flakes of skin in check and you should be good to go. In the morning, I put ice cubes on my eyes and use lots of Visine.

9. Time and silence are the most luxurious things today.

10. There’s one indulgence every man should try in his lifetime: If you’re straight, sleep with a man at least once, and if you’re gay, don’t go through life without sleeping with a woman. Either way, you might be surprised at how natural it will feel if you can get past the mind-fuck of stereotypes. In the end, it’s just another person that you are relating to in a physical way.

I think I know her...

Keanu Reeves's diverse role choices are detailed in a slideshow compiled by New York Magazine


Best Pun of the Week

Chinese girl gets 'kiss of deaf'

Three cheers

... for me! I've wrapped up the bulk of my last assignment and it will all be done on Sunday. I don't think I've yet realised that there will only be two weeks off before this starts all over again so I've set up an ambitious reading schedule for the holidays. There's a stack of books in my room that taunts me every day. Here's what's on deck for rest of 2008 (Gah, can 2009 really be less than 3 weeks away?)

* The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
(I got my hands on a hot little copy because no one at SFU reads, apparently.)
* Drown
(verdict so far: highly recommended)
* Selected Stories by Alice Munro
* The Uninvited Guest
* Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003
* Cold Spring Harbour
* Amsterdam
* My Name is Red
* Winner of the National Book Award

(yes, that's the name of the book)

Please feel free to save me from my reading list.

Working Double Time

UPDATE: Naked slideshow

Marley and Me co-stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston aren't really sharing the promotional work for the film. After Wilson's tumultuous year, studios have let him sit back and Aniston is graciously working double time, and the newsstands are plastered with her image. She's already appeared on the cover of Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, and the New York Times Magazine. Here she comes again on the Dec/Jan cover of GQ.

Don't worry Owen, looks like Jen's got it covered. NAWT.

Puns for everyone!


mmmmm... orange box

Warm and Fuzzies

"Stand By Me" performed by musicians all over the world from the doc Playing for Change:

The Ben E. King classic with clips from the movie Stand by Me (with River Phoenix, Keifer Sutherland and Jerry O'Connell) and a soundless children's choir. Totally weird:



One last thing

It's 11 and I'm ready for bed. Yes, that's 11 AM. Curse you, winter months.
But one more awesome piece of news: the Pulitzer Prizes are now accepting entries from online-only publications. The Pulitzers are moving into the future. Why can't everything else? I guess we all wish we knew. Besides economic troubles, why did there have to be Media Meltdown Monday? The only people that should lose jobs when we turn to web are printers (sorry, guys). Designers, writers, and editors alike should have a place online.

Still, folks are writing lots about the future of publishing and there's lots of wobbly knees at the offices of Big Media. Things aren't going so well.

Tip Sheet:
* Tina Brown 'gets it' and saves all the writers for herself. Good thinking.
* Great books on Nintendo. Holy Shit.
* September: New York Magazine gets us talking about "The End"
* Insightful solutions from the Urban Elitist
* December: Cuts at Random House, NYTimes asks for big money, Tribune Company declares bankruptcy
* James Gleik's poorly written Op-Ed for the NYTimes gets a lot of online attention
* The only way to save the industry is a pretty package? So says Good Magazine. Good luck, folks.
* Quill and Quire OMNI with a huge leak. The Globe and Mail scraps their standalone Books Section, arguably the nation's best, and folds it into the Focus section.

The last word: we will be fine. If there is a way to make money, North Americans will find it.

Editorial Cartoons

When newspapers start firing editorial cartoonists (soon), they can fill the void by reprinting things like this. Much better.

Peeps at Tumblr are awful good at citation. DO THEY HAVE A THINGY FOR THAT? Ish, I grabbed this from you.

Some Sexy Levity

And now for some Terry Richardson photos for laughs [from the Terry Richardson website]:

Material for The Onion or True Canadian Story?

Fatal knife fight over Pizza Pop nets Halifax man 5 years
"They reached for knives after a disagreement over how long frozen Pizza Pops should be cooked in a microwave oven."

What we must look like from afar

Ever feel like everyone else? Your intuition is on the money: You and your friends look exactly the same. This photo series is an impressive 14-year project from Dutch photographer Ari Versluis and profiler Ellie Uyttenbroek, following regional 'tribes' around the world.

Thanks, Matt.

Big Author of 2008: Junot Diaz

It's Diaz's year--in Canada at least. The straight-talking, Dominican-American author won this year's Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He made at least a few rounds through our country promoting The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and the CBC gobbled it up. There's a tube from CBC HQ into my brain. It's a bit deficient so a lot of things don't make it there but it also manages to block out the flow of other information. I should expand my horizons. But I digress. This interview with Diaz, following his appearance at the International Festival of Authors last month, is right up my alley and if you care for conversation about comic books and "literature", documenting trauma in fiction, and what it's like for authors to have their books into movies, read on.

Lynn Barber has something to say to you young women

Barber, regular contributor to the Guardian and former contributor to Penthouse offers her opinion.

I was brought up to believe, and still believe, that who you marry is the most important choice you make in life. Does that make me anti-feminist? I don't think so, because I believe it's as true for men as it is for women. You can't be happy if you're married to the wrong person.

Being older and already married, I could only watch with bemusement as feminism went through its florid evolutionary stages in the Seventies - the 'all men are rapists' phase, the Andrea Dworkin compulsory boiler suit phase, the bra-burning, picketing Miss World phase, the sitting-in-a-circle-inspecting-your-vagina-in-a-mirror phase. But I was very aware in the Eighties of the 'having it all' phase when women were supposed to 'juggle' career and motherhood. I was aware of it because I was actually doing it at the time but I never thought juggling babies was a good idea. What it actually involved was permanent exhaustion and permanent guilt.

The problem for young women is, as it always has been, an economic one - that just when they need to be pushing ahead with their careers and earning decent money is also when they need to be having babies. It worries me that so many young women now choose to defer the babies, thinking they can somehow magic them up by IVF when they are in their forties. Often they can't, so they have no children to console them when their much-vaunted careers end in redundancy. In an ideal society, I believe, couples would have children young, preferably in their early twenties, when they're energetic and flexible enough to live on little money, and then start the serious career-building in their thirties when the children are at school. The present recession might actually make that easier - if there are no careers for 20-somethings to pursue, they might think it is quite a good idea to have babies instead.
Excuse me, I have to go have babies now because I don't have a job.

The Defintion of a Control Freak

Madonna. Woman is all control.
She's 50, and she looks much, much younger because she works out like a maniac. She has two kids but not with the man she raised them with because that's the way she plays and that's what she wants. And when the Guardian went behind the scenes for her Louis Vuitton shoot, they saw a woman so conscious of the camera, she never stops vogueing. You won't break through her yoga-hardened shell! Absolutely fascinating stuff.


2008 Nobel literature prize winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio makes big news yesterday by suggesting that blogs could have stopped Hitler. In his Nobel lecture to the Swedish Academy, the author said an earlier introduction of information technology could even have prevented World War II.

Here's some bits from the AP file:
"Who knows, if the Internet had existed at the time, perhaps Hitler's criminal plot would not have succeeded — ridicule might have prevented it from ever seeing the light of day," he said.

Clezio noted that access to computers remains a luxury to many in the developing world and said eradicating hunger and illiteracy remain the "two great urgent tasks" of humankind.

"Literacy and the struggle against hunger are connected, closely interdependent," he said. "One cannot succeed without the other. Both of them require, indeed urge, us to act."

Le Clezio called on publishers to make books available to a broader public in developing countries and to publish more material in lesser-known languages.

"In Africa, Southeast Asia, Mexico, or the South Sea Islands, books remain an inaccessible luxury," Le Clezio said.

He will receive the Nobel Prize in literature at a ceremony on Wednesday. The medicine, chemistry, physics and economics prizes are also handed out in Stockholm, while the Nobel Peace Prize is presented in Oslo, Norway.
This guy is an optimist. On the whole, we haven't exactly been harnessing the beast to better humanity. But more literacy - I can get behind that.

Clezio, the author which bloggers argued was too obscure to deserve the prize. These were mainly Americans, embittered that they are no longer shoe-ins for the prize:
The award came wrapped in a fog of literary pettiness and backbiting brewed up last month by Horace Engdahl, permanent secretary of the Nobel Committee for Literature, who told the Associated Press that American literature is "too isolated, too insular," Americ an publishers "don't translate enough," and American writers are "too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture."

Better luck next year, John Updike. Maybe another time, Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo. The last American to win the li terature prize was Toni Morrison in 1993, and the Nobel committee appeared to be signaling that this hiatus was no accident.
Above: Le Clezio and his wife in 1940

Yellow Fever

Refinery29's big tip:
Pantone announced that Mimosa Yellow is the colour of 2009. Above is L'Uomo Vogue Editor Giovanna Battaglia. No one else should wear yellow pants!

Jimmy Fallon announces his house band

Jimmy Fallon on the Late Night will take off later next year when Leno's contract expires and Conan takes over. News is that Leno will be moving to a prime time slot.

In the meantime, Jimmy is publishing nightly vlog posts to make the transition between hosts--and coasts (The Tonight Show is moving back to New York, and Late Night stays in New York, of course). The first was last night when he announced his house band. It's a good surprise. Check out the video here:

Big News Day

Hi friends,

Today is a Big News Day, which means I stayed up prowling the Internet looking for stuff. That sounds gross but the truth is I have lots of goodies. Stay tuned.

Update: It's a huge news day around the world. Today, I offer the fluffier stuff.


We would love you to be there

Click to see bigger size



I am obsessed with comic book artist, genius, renaissance man, funny dude Chris Ware. Because I am young, (white), and read the NY Times, I also like This American Life. I planned to ignore the TV show indefinitely because we can't get it in Canada; I didn't really want to know what I was missing. But my curiosity got the best of me this morning so I had a look on YouTube. SO, guess how excited I was when I found these cartoons by Chris Ware interpreting Ira Glass's interviews.

The first one is quite cute. It's about the elasticity of our memories and also about how people get married and they can't separate their lives from their spouse's.

The second video is about surveillance and camera culture. It's a bit scary and timely in the wake of the online suicide of Abraham Biggs. The 19-year-old teenager in Florida committed suicide live on the internet as hundreds of web surfers watched - taunting him and offering encouragement.


I Need to Spend More Time at the Newsstand

It's been like this for more than a month but Rolling Stone magazine switched to boring "rack-friendly", letter size. I saw Britney on the cover yesterday and their pathetic shell of a magazine. The new format comes across as something between Time (nasty) and US Weekly (nastier). I remember the days when RS used to get awards for their layouts. It was not so long ago.

An IHT article is here to get you up to speed, if you are slow like me.

Tom is in good company

We all had our gibes but I think Tom Cullen, chef extraordinaire, gets the last laugh here. His ketchup on pasta recipe gets a big star endorsement. [no video, unfortunately].

Huff Po:
Sure she has an Oscar, but does Cate Blanchett have any taste in food?

On "The Tonight Show" Friday night Blanchett and Leno talked about their various food obsessions. She loves condiments, and eats sausages just for the ketchup, she explained.

She then said she eats "ketchup on pasta" sometimes.

Italian Leno balked and a serious back-and-forth ensued with the two talking about the difference between ketchup and tomato sauce and disbelief she actually eats the former with pasta.

After agreeing she'd be fine with "a bowl of spaghetti and a bottle of ketchup," Australian Blanchett backed off and claimed it "might be a semantic thing."

And the final word on Cate... she was in Lord of the Rings. (It came up in conversation many times this week. Tilda Swinton was in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and that movie with Gavin Rossdale.)
This is so well done... and informative too. Obama's first month in 2 minutes:


Vancouver’s Salvation Army targeted by thieves

Thursday, December 04 - 07:03:24 PM Jim Goddard
VANCOUVER (News1130) - Heartless crooks have hit the Salvation Army. About 80 boxes of toys, worth at least $25,000, were stolen from the Vancouver warehouse near Kingsway and Fraser.

Major Brian Venables says that's not all they took.

"Unfortunately, they also felt it was a good idea to steal some of the meat that we had in our freezer, and so they left the freezers open all night, so what they didn't take is now partially thawed out so we have to discard it."

Venables says the thieves targeted hard to get toys for teens like cosmetic kits, karaoke machines, MP3 players and headphones. He says if someone felt such an urgent need for a toy, they could have just asked for one. He says the crooks even used the Salvation Army's equipment to haul the loot out of the building.

Venables says the theft is especially frustrating for his staff because donations were up 40% so far this year, likely because people felt the need to help out during the economic crisis.

If you'd like to help the Salvation Army, go here.

CBC Food Bank Day

It's so important to give this time of year--and it feels so good. If you're in the Downtown area, please go to Waterfront Centre (Seymour and Cordova) and give. Online donations are also accepted at the CBC Food Bank Day website.


Dance Your PhD

Clearly I'm not busy enough because I was able to find Ph.D students do interpretive dance with their supervisor. I don't know what you did at your school but I remember there were a lot of jokes about doing your projects as interpretive dance. I think someone may have got away with it once... at least, I wish they did.

The GonzoLabs/AAAS Science Dance Contest takes things to the next level. The contest was open to anyone who has (or is pursuing) a Ph.D. in any scientific field or in science-related fields such as mathematics, engineering, linguistics, bioethics, the history of science, etc.

The winner of the best professor dance is below--an intepretation of hemoglobin interaction. The weird bearded man in sprinkling "frost", like a scientist freezing the molecules before further inspection. The John Hopkins U prof's study was titled: "Resolving Pathways of Functional Coupling in Human Hemoglobin Using Quantitative Low Temperature Isoelectric Focusing of Asymmetric Mutant Hybrids"

Nikon S-60

Detects up to 12 faces


Chrome by Scott McCloud

Above: my life

Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics and sometime personal hero, wrote a comic for Google explaining how their new web browser, Chrome, was developed. It's really lonnnnng though (39 pages) and I just don't have time for that right now (EXAAAMS!!!!! PANIC! ANXIETY!). If you do, enjoy! Page 3 (left) already made me laugh.

The link


51 Best* Magazines of All Time

Let the lists begin - it's December after all.
Of note: Graydon Carter (Vanity Fair) chooses his favourite magazines and Good puts them in order.


The New York Times Book Design Review picks the best book covers of the year. All impressive.

This Blog Earns Its Name

The World's Best Ever with Kate Moss Thursdays

The Monty Python Channel

on YouTube

Good to Know

Good magazine on the Greenwash

X-Mas At My House

I forgot how much I like this song

Also, doesn't she remind you of an Irving Penn model?


It Keeps on Giving

...but I don't know if I'm thankful. A surprise at the Macy's Thanksgiving parade

Po-et-ry at Geist

More Than A Coat of Paint

Calendars designed by yours truly are on sale at vancouverheritagefoundation.org. Proceeds go back to the True Colours program
TRUE COLOURS is an exterior paint granting program of the Vancouver heritage Foundation in partnership with Benjamin Moore & Co. Ltd. for designated heritage buildings. The colour schemes are chosen through visual and historical analysis to match the home's age and architectural style.

TRUE COLOURS is a granting and education program that assists heritage building owners to paint their homes in authentic and original heritage colours.

Summing up the Hallelujah Chorus

Daily Dish

Cruel Bryan Appleyard

Writer for the Times says, "Canada, as ever, doesn't get it"--"it" being why obese passengers should get additional seats for free when flying.

But, but, but, the Vancouver Sun (gasp!) intelligently notes why WestJet et al are in the right.


RUMOURS: "Anna Wintour Said Replaced By French Counterpart"
on Gawker

NB: In September, Wintour's replacement was said to be Vogue Russia's telegenic editor Aliona Doletskaya

Not OK

Ads on tests add up for teacher
By Greg Toppo and Janet Kornblum, USA TODAY
Tom Farber gives a lot of tests. He's a calculus teacher, after all.

So when administrators at Rancho Bernardo, his suburban San Diego high school, announced the district was cutting spending on supplies by nearly a third, Farber had a problem. At 3 cents a page, his tests would cost more than $500 a year. His copying budget: $316. But he wanted to give students enough practice for the big tests they'll face in the spring, such as the Advanced Placement exam.

"Tough times call for tough actions," he says. So he started selling ads on his test papers: $10 for a quiz, $20 for a chapter test, $30 for a semester final.

San Diego magazine and The San Diego Union-Tribune featured his plan just before Thanksgiving, and Farber came home from a few days out of town to 75 e-mail requests for ads. So far, he has collected $350. His semester final is sold out.

That worries Robert Weissman, managing director of Commercial Alert, a Washington-based non-profit that fights commercialization in school and elsewhere. If test-papers-as-billboards catches on, he says, schools in the grip of tough economic times could start relying on them to help the bottom line.

"The advertisers are paying for something, and it's access to kids," he says.

About two-thirds of Farber's ads are inspirational messages underwritten by parents. Others are ads for local businesses, such as two from a structural engineering firm and one from a dentist who urges students, "Brace Yourself for a Great Semester!"

Principal Paul Robinson says reaction has been "mixed," but he notes, "It's not like, 'This test is brought to you by McDonald's or Nike.' "

To Farber, 47, it's a logical solution: "We're expected to do more with less."

The National Education Association says teachers spend about $430 out of their pockets each year for school supplies. This semester, Christine Van Ruiten, a teacher at E.C. Reems, a charter school in East Oakland, has spent $2,000. She scours Craigslist for free supplies and posts requests to DonorsChoose.org, which matches teachers with donors.

Founded in 2000 by Charles Best, then a Bronx teacher, DonorsChoose has funded about 65,000 projects totaling $26 million. Best calls it "a more dignified, substantive alternative for teachers than selling candy door-to-door — and certainly than selling ad space on final exams. That's crazy."

Naomi Wolf on the Third Wave


Support World AIDS Day

Vive La Vie

Found on Vanity Fair.com:

When Diane Von Furstenburg retired as the face of DVF, she brought on (princess) Natalia Vodianova to give the brand new life. DVF also hired photographer/artist François-Marie Banier to shoot Vodianova and create an intimate, easy and colourful campaign. No makeup, hair or stylists.

The result was Banier's beautiful portraits using photography, paint and writing, which have now been compiled into a book of 50 photographs, Vie La Vie. The writings on the website suggest a spiritual connection between the model and photographer--the kind of relationship they call "artist and muse" but this connection seems to run a little deeper or the marketing folks got a little carried away.

Gorgeous photos anyway; outtakes like the one on the left can be seen at the website.


More Holiday Delights

Brilliant hostess gifts for a designer.


This video of kids playing video games was created by Robbie Cooper, a British photographer who employed a Red camera — a very-high-resolution video camera — and then took stills from the footage. Cooper, who says he was inspired by the camera technique that Errol Morris used to interview people in his documentaries, arranged his equipment so that the players were actually looking at a reflection of the game on a small pane of glass. He placed the camera behind the reflection so that it could look directly into their faces as they played. Cooper and his collaborators, Andrew Wiggins and Charly Smith, videotaped children in England and in New York.
--New York Times Magazine

What are the Dr. Dre Rules (of your Interracial Posse)?

An important question posed by Chris Rock at 3:30 in this clip from Kill the Messenger.

On a similar note, Andy shared this edgy (yes, really!) piece with me from GQ called "Will You Be My Black Friend?":
"Sure, [Americans elected] a black president this month. And yeah, Oprah has all kinds of white ladies in her audience. But in real life, it seems the older you get, the less chance you have of being friends with someone who is not in your racial demographic. Can a nice white boy make some black friends if he puts his mind to it? Devin Friedman posts an ad on Craigslist to find out."


My first post in September was a Chris Rock clip on Larry King promoting his HBO special Kill the Messenger. It hit Canada this just week so the entire special is now online in eight parts (Canadians seem to be especially diligent about putting television online). Filmed in New York, London, and Johannesburg, Chris Rock does what nobody else can do and yells a lot (but--and let me make this clear--not like Dane Cook). I don't know how long this is going to be online before HBO catches it. Get it while it's hot.

Part One

What Michelle Means

A problematic cover story about Michelle Obama from Newsweek. It also talks about the skin whitening creams which, unbeknownst to me, are hugely prevalent around the world.

Ricky Wong, Ching Chong Ding Dong and other Oriental Delights

I'm synching with Tom and Kat's blog or something but they're in China and today I offer some hilarious Chinese humour. Or rather, it's borderline racist humour directed at Chinese people but I laughed so it must be OK.

Firstly, Ching Chong Ding Dong, which the Comedy Network has decided to omit from their website. It's offered on Comedy Central's website and Colbert Nation but Canadians can't view the streaming clips because they're blocked. But I digress, Ching Chong Ding Dong is a character by Steven Colbert, who was discovered through a satellite intercept before an interview with Bradley Whitford in November 2005 ("Pthoo-hoo, I rove tea! It's so good for you! Come here pretty American girl, kiss my cup and make it all sweet. I don't need no sugar when you around. Come crimb into my rickshaw and I give you ride to Bangkok! Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo !"). Unfortunately for Colbert, Ching Chong Ding Dong was brought up when Colbert was vetted for a position on the Obama transition team. See it here at 5:35. After the "discovery" of Ching Chong Ding Dong, blogs like Angry Asian Man, Hyphen's and the now-defunct Asian Media Watch freaked out. I don't consider it particularly offensive but I will respect the fact that some people might. They might not want to continue reading this.

This past spring I was flew Cathay Pacific to New York, which offers better taste and entertainment than Air Canada. On board, I got my own little entertainment console, which was delightful. TV highlights included Summer Heights High, written and directed by Chris Lilley. I watched the whole series last night. My eyes have that weird burning sensation but I think it was worth it. Summer Heights High is a mockumentary set in an Australian high school and follows the lives of three characters all played by Lilley. I'll let the LA Times fill you in on the characters. They are:
the drama teacher Mr. G; Ja'mie a rich, private-school girl -- she first appeared in "Nominees" -- who is spending an exchange term in public school; and Jonah, a 13-year-old Tongan disciplinary problem.

Both Mr. G and Ja'mie are grotesque, self-involved, self-dramatizing, self-aggrandizing characters who see themselves as basically, even immoderately, good. "I come from one of the most expensive private girls' schools in the state," Ja'mie tells a school assembly by way of introducing herself, "but I'm actually really cool. Please don't be intimidated by me. People always quote, 'Private schools create better citizens.' But I would say they create better quality citizens."

Mr. G (whom Lilley first developed on the series "Big Bite") uses his drama classes as a stage for himself. He dreams of building a towering campus performing-arts complex, bearing his name, and when a student dies of a drug overdose, he hijacks the tragedy as a subject for his next school project. "She's been sent by an angel to give me an idea for a musical," he says holding up the dead girl's picture with a smile. "So I'm just over the moon."
I love this show and now it's on HBO Canada. Hurraaaay!

Lilley's previous show, We Can Be Heroes, has a similar premise. Heroes was about the search for Australian of the Year and also featured Ja'Mie. Lilley plays all 5 finalists, one of them being 23-year-old physics student Ricky Wong seen here:

A Preview of Summer Heights High:

Mr. G



And now for a series of commercials I absolutely loathe. LOATHE. In fact, it makes me want to hit something and scream. There is an Indian and Chinese version of these. You can't really tell what's going on in the Chinese one because it's so absurd so I'll show you episode one of the Indian version.

Ponds has a SKIN WHITENER cream that is extremely popular in China and India. In India it's called White Beauty and in China it's called Flawless White. Surveys state that two thirds of women in these countries bleach their skin to achieve a "pinkish, white glow" because darker skin is considered undesirable. Men surveyed have suggested that they prefer lighter-skinned women to darker women. Lighter skin has traditionally been associated with wealth and aristocracy. And it's not just women who are lightening their skin. The trend is catching on with men as well.

Ponds is advertising their disgusting product via the story of "Karan" and "Ria". There are five episodes. This is the first and you can click through to see the rest but maybe you won't want to.

The Return of Phoebe

I like commercials next to never but this is cute. Nintendo DS is trying to win over girly girls with a series of commercials featuring Liv Tyler, Carrie Underwood and Ugly Betty. They're all on Youtube:


Driving School

click to see full size


Smells Funky

From Lynda Barry's "Common Scents" (a.k.a. your house smells too):

Studs Terkel

I heard a couple of these extraordinary interviews, with Americans who lived through the Great Depression, on This American Life a couple weeks ago. Considering the moment, the interviews are made all the more meaningful:

Studs Terkel interviewed hundreds of people across the United States for his book on the Great Depression of the 1930s, Hard Times. In 1973, he selected several interviews that were included in his book to be broadcast in eleven parts on the Studs Terkel Program on WFMT radio (Chicago, IL).

Studs Terkel (Trivia: whom I share a birthday with) was an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster based in Chicago. He passed away last month at 96 years.

Bill Gates Style

Sam Bayless is a friend from waaaay back when. We've known each other for 10 years now. I met Sam at a district enrichment program where we were both selected to compete as part of the 'elite' team for an international problem-solving competition: they present you with an apocalyptic scenario in the future and you develop solutions and strategies. It sounds nerdy and it was. But we rocked and we invited to go to Maine to compete. For various reasons that didn't really work out.

In any case, we are now travelling down different roads and Sam is on his way to fame and glory, Bill Gates-style. The other day he sent me a link to an incredible game he developed over the past year. I don't know if I will do it any justice but trying to explain myself but it's kind of like Lego on ecstasy.

Here's a demo video. Says Sam, "Its a tank tread that Jake [his younger brother] built using my program. Noah [his even younger brother] composed the music, and David [his youngest brother] designed the tank... or at least decided that he wanted to have a tank, and made Jake build it. Its great to have little brothers."

Download the beta version at GolemGame.com
"I think we already have a Green Revolution. I separate my plastics and I eat Kashi cereal."
--Stephen Colbert responding to Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded

The Pretenders

In honour of the release of Chinese Democracy, I bring you "The Pretenders" by Chuck Klosterman about a Guns N' Roses tribute band.

New Covers for Coupland

Harper Perennial releases daring new covers for Douglas Coupland's Microserfs and Girlfriend in a Coma:

Bad Literary Sex

From AP:
John Updike has been awarded a lifetime achievement prize of bad depictions of sex in his novels, although his entry this year, The Widows of Eastwick, did not win.

Updike, who has a long and graphic history of detailing coupling on the page, won a lifetime achievement award Tuesday from judges of Britain's Bad Sex in Fiction Prize, which celebrates crude, tasteless or ridiculous sexual passages in modern literature.

The judges, editors of Literary Review magazine, said Updike had been shortlisted for the prize four times in its 16-year history.

America Imitates Japan Again! (Sex, Part 5)

Below, I posted a story regarding the Japan's efforts to booth their reproduction rates. A couple weeks ago, a pastor in Dallas challenged his massive congregation to a 7-day sex challenge:
November 24, 2008
Pastor’s Advice for Better Marriage: More Sex

GRAPEVINE, Tex. — And on the seventh day, there was no rest for married couples. A week after the Rev. Ed Young challenged husbands and wives among his flock of 20,000 to strengthen their unions through Seven Days of Sex, his advice was — keep it going.

Mr. Young, an author, a television host and the pastor of the evangelical Fellowship Church, issued his call for a week of “congregational copulation” among married couples on Nov. 16, while pacing in front of a large bed. Sometimes he reclined on the paisley coverlet while flipping through a Bible, emphasizing his point that it is time for the church to put God back in the bed.

“Today we’re beginning this sexperiment, seven days of sex,” he said, with his characteristic mix of humor, showmanship and Scripture. “How to move from whining about the economy to whoopee!”

On Sunday parishioners at the Grapevine branch watched a prerecorded sermon from Mr. Young and his wife, Lisa, on jumbo screens over a candlelit stage. “I know there’s been a lot of love going around this week, among the married couples,” one of the church musicians said, strumming on a guitar before a crowd of about 3,000.

Mrs. Young, dressed in knee-high black boots and jeans, said that after a week of having sex every day, or close to it, “some of us are smiling.” For others grappling with infidelities, addictions to pornography or other bitter hurts, “there’s been some pain; hopefully there’s been some forgiveness, too.”

Mr. Young advised the couples to “keep on doing what you’ve been doing this week. We should try to double up the amount of intimacy we have in marriage. And when I say intimacy, I don’t mean holding hands in the park or a back rub.”

Mr. Young, known simply as Ed to his parishioners, and his wife, both 47, have been married for 26 years and have four children, including twins. They have firsthand experience with some of the barriers to an intimate sex life in marriage, including careers, exhaustion, outside commitments, and “kids,” a word that Mr. Young told church members stands for “keeping intimacy at a distance successfully.”

But if you make the time to have sex, it will bring you closer to your spouse and to God, he has said. You will perform better at work, leave a loving legacy for your children to follow and may even prevent an extramarital affair.

“If you’ve said, ‘I do,’ do it,” he said. As for single people, “I don’t know, try eating chocolate cake,” he said.
--New York Times


The Sex Files, Part IV

Daily Telegraph:
A new study by Dr. Kunio Kitamura has revealed that more than one third of all couples in Japan have effectively given up on sex, with most complaining they are too tired after work or that it is "boring."

"The results are a surprise because the numbers keep going up each year," said Dr. Kitamura.

In 2004, 32 per cent of Japanese admitted to not having sexual intercourse in the previous month. That number has now risen to 37 per cent, according to a report that will be presented to the Ministry of Health and Welfare next year.

"Of course, if people are not having sex then there will be fewer children," Dr. Kitamura said.

Japan's birth rate stood at 1.34 in 2007, far below the replenishment rate of 2.08 babies that is required for a stable population.

The country's population, which peaked at around 127.7 million in 2006, is predicted to decline to 95 million by 2050. And if drastic measures to encourage people to have more sex and more children don't succeed then there will be a mere 47.7 million Japanese at the turn of the next century.
A fix:
Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Keidanren, Japan's biggest business organization, is worried the nation's workers aren't having enough sex.

The group urged its 1,632 member companies to start so- called family weeks that give employees more time for playing with the kids and having more children to reverse a declining birth rate. A survey by Japan's Family Planning Association of about 3,000 married people under age 49 shows couples are having less sex because long work days leave them with too little energy.

In a country where people over 65 will outnumber children two-to-one in five years, companies say they eventually won't have enough workers. Japan's birth rate has been falling since 1972 and threatens to shrink the labor force 16 percent by 2030 from 66.6 million workers in 2006, according to the health ministry.

``You must go home early,'' Nippon Oil Corp. President Shinji Nishio told staff in a speech for the company's two-week family campaign, which ends Nov. 22. ``The dwindling birthrate and the aging population, along with the responsibility of educating the next generation -- these aren't just somebody else's problem. We expect all workers' active participation.''

What I'm Reading Today: "The (Mostly) True Story of Helvetica and the New York City Subway"

An answer to the 2007 film Helvetica at AIGA

The First Cover of New York Magazine

The Face

On Flickr

How Did I Miss This?

This technology cost a quarter million dollars. Gross.

Legendary Esquire art director, George Lois responds:

Lois, 1974:

Custom Typefaces for British Vogue

Why I love Christmas:

96 point for the fourth time

A bit late but from: Mag Culture, November 5:

I was beginning to worry I wouldn’t find the right story with which to mark this weeks’ good news. But here it is, courtesy of Design Observer.

The front page, above, is only the fourth time the NYTimes has used a headline at 96 point, placing Obama’s election alongside the first man on the moon, Nixon’s resignation and 9/11.

Men of the Year

Mark Seliger, forgive me, you are one hell of a portrait photographer. Obama looks good in this picture from a shoot that was only 1 minute and 45 seconds.