Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why Women Rule the Earth

Forget Women Empowerment! Women are Actually in Control

It was as I was looking at a pack of ribbed, glow-in-the-dark condoms in the supermarket last week that I discovered why it is that women rule the Earth.

Sure, Barack Obama and his male presidential brethren from around the world think that they run the joint, but they don't really. The condoms told me so. My lubricated friends told this little story which all starts when humans weren't even yet humans, but their distant ancestors were just starting to run on two feet instead of four.

It was around then that human sexual attraction evolved because of the need to keep both mother and father together to take care of human babies which are notoriously the most vulnerable and helpless young in the entire animal kingdom.

Without the protection of the stronger male (let's call him Adam after), the female (let's call her Eve) and offspring were easy pickings for whatever predator happened to be around. So Eve evolved to be sexually appealing the whole year round (instead of coming into heat once a year like other mammals), and Adam hung around her nonetheless. It stayed like this for a long time. Adam was getting a little slap and tickle; Eve was getting protection and baby (Junior) grew up happily. And then repeat from the top because as long as Adam was getting sex, Eve was having more Juniors.

It was the perfect arrangement. Until along came contraception and birth control (aha, my latex buddies come into the picture), together with, and part of, the movement towards women becoming the equals of men in the functioning of society. Which throws the entire thing out of balance because Eve no longer needs Adam to take care of her and having sex no longer produces Juniors.

So what happened was that, because sex was no longer primarily about reproduction, its role in relationships had to change. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised that in modern relationships it seems that sexual attraction has become 99.9 percent of the law.

We can say what we like about people's minds and souls and how much we admire the girl next-door's arithmetic, but do we have time to care anymore? A stimulating conversation over a cup of tea and a biscuits in the morning is worthless when contrasted with great sex the night before. It's the way things are these days, because long-term relationships are no longer so important.

Which is exactly why women hold all the power. Because no matter what any man says, what every one of us really wants (even more than becoming a famous Movie star or playing Cricket for India) is a loving someone to hold us tight and take care of us and cook us an egg for breakfast in the morning.

Evolution decreed that every man will grow up knowing that he needs a partner because that's how the species stayed alive. But in the greater scheme of things women no longer need us. Of course they are genetically programmed to know that they should procreate, but for that they only need a little sperm which they can get from one night of passion without needing any commitment.

So Adam is left wondering how he can make it so that Eve will still want him. And there's the thing - it's all up to Eve. Suddenly Adam realises that if he's going to get Eve to like him, he's going to have to do what she says and dress like she wants him to and not burp in polite company. Before, it was the other way around, when men ruled the world and Eve had to do her best to attract Adam.

And that is what I learnt from those ribbed, glow-in-the-dark condoms in the supermarket: if I'm going to find someone to cook me an egg in the morning, I'm going to have to polish my shoes and….

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Attack of the 6 Foot Banana Woman

With the last minute mad rush, Christmas is obviously a bad time for shopping, even groceries. I was at a supermarket yesterday, the hypermarket to be exact, when out of the blue, this 6 foot tall, frizzy-haired Amazon of a woman comes flying past me, trolley very obviously out of control, almost breaking the sound barrier and slicing off my toes in the process.

After ricocheting off the fresh fruit and vegetables section, I tried to get my bearings. The heel had broken off my new Nike sandals, and my basket was now empty and lying upside-down at the other end of the aisle. I watched as a lonely tub of tofu disappeared under the aisle division. The blood rushed to my head.

Grasping the weighing machine for support, I spotted her, submerged to the elbows in purple cauliflowers. She had a baby on her hip which was screaming its head off, its sticky fingers entangled in her over-dyed mop of blond hair.

Now as any self respecting woman knows, there's a bad perm and there's a BAD PERM. This woman definitely sported the latter, with pride. I strode purposely towards her, breathing deeply.

"Excuse me!" I said emphatically. She spun around. The baby promptly dropped its sucker into the mop. She didn't seem to notice.

"Can you not see I'm busy?" she yelled at me, juggling onions at the same time as throwing random bunches of bananas into her trolley.

She barely paused for breath before letting loose a storm of verbal abuse. Shocked, I backed off slightly. She continued to rant, frantically waving an oversized banana in my face. The sucker stick was now barely visible. I hadn't even said anything yet. This woman was clearly not well or I'd just interrupted a breakdown in progress. I backed off some more. The baby started to cry. A crowd was gathering in the aisle.

"Security, please report to Aisle Three" came blaring out over the loudspeaker. I looked up. Aisle Two flashed menacingly above my head. Banana woman was getting closer.

I started to panic and began my retreat. I backed into the Bakery section in my haste to get away. She was still coming. I heard the crowd murmur. I couldn't move. My fingers closed around a packet of doughnuts. I was just about to hurl it at her when the baby threw up. She was momentarily distracted.

Taking the gap in a desperate "you can still save yourself" attempt, I heard a smash emanating from behind the tins of baked beans. Turning, I caught a quick glimpse of a very blonde head, before it vanished amongst the display. Oh God, not another one. "Mummy!" yelled the blond head as it catapulted into the trolley. The onlookers scattered. Mummy was frantically trying to wipe the vomit off her bright red Levis T-shirt when security rocked up.

Trying to look inconspicuous, which wasn't easy with a shoe in one hand and a packet of jammy doughnuts in the other, I negotiated my escape. I smiled sweetly at the security guard, shrugged my shoulders and made "she's gone nuts" gestures with my hand as I passed.

Turning briefly I saw the banana woman sitting in a crumpled heap on the floor, holding a packet of frozen peas to her head, a concerned store manager patting her shoulder.

Isn't it amazing how a harmless act of grocery shopping can suddenly turn into a bizarre health hazard? Why does this happen, and what have we been reduced to as a race?

Mall rage definitely exists. It’s a fact. It manifests in many shapes and forms, and has different causes and effects for everyone. Today’s lifestyle commands a much faster pace than 20 years ago. From dual-income families to singletons living the high-flying career life, most of us teeter dangerously on the edge from too many multivitamins and artificially high levels of gym-induced serotonin.

In this “must try harder” society, harassed executives and junior yuppies will inevitably hit the aisles after work, or during their lunch hour. Well, mid day shopping is purely an exercise in frustration. From screaming around your office, running to and from engagements and meeting deadlines, it is virtually impossible to downshift to the pace required to follow a slow-moving family up an escalator, or bored housewives having a gossip session right in the entrance to the supermarket. So we’re in a bad mood before we even begin.

Saturday mornings or any day in the first week of the month, especially after payday, should be avoided at all costs. The parking is impossible, hoards of over-excited kids on sugar highs race around annoying the general public, while disillusioned mothers try unsuccessfully to control them. And what’s with those tiny trolleys for kids anyway?

Ditto with sale areas, and festival bargains. Fighting for the last “sale” under the harsh glare of the fluorescent lighting is enough to turn any normally sane person into a raving lunatic. Everyone knows fluorescent lighting increases stress levels, as does depleting stocks, narrow over-crowded aisles and ‘elevator’ music from the 1980s. Is that supposed to soothe us? So, karmically-speaking, we’re a real mess.

Then there are the queues. Why is it that after standing for 20 shoe-tapping minutes the person in front of you hauls out their credit card to pay for two trolley loads of groceries? Of course it doesn’t work.

Now the check-out assistants are check-out assistants for a reason, and they can’t possibly know why the credit card isn’t working. So we have to call visa or mastercard to get clearance (if its amex, its even worse). The clearance finally comes through after ten mind-numbing minutes, by which time you’ve polished off a tube of Rollo and half the queue has moved to aisle three.

Only the die-hards are left, waiting out the storm. And it’s still not that simple. Now the store manager – who happens to be on a smoke break – has to be called to provide authorization for this recently cleared, over-extended credit card. He finally strolls up to the till, and authorizes. Thank God.

By this stage, the collective beeping of 45 check-out machines has sent your mind into overdrive, and your blood sugar has leapt from dangerously low (pre-Mentos) to uncontrollably high (post Mentos) and unless you get out of this bloody shop in under five minutes you’re going to have to be institutionalized for life.

So, we ask ourselves, what is the solution? Kid-free time slots would be a good first option. These coinciding with prime shopping time for those of us with jobs and no free time.

Clear the aisles and let the efficient, the organized, the working people have free reign!

Make sure you have a list. You know what you want. You go in, you get it and you leave. This minimizes the "vacant-shopper" syndrome and reduces chaos.

Know your supermarket. You can weave expertly through the aisles, not having to double back because you’ve forgotten the tofu in aisle two.

And the golden rule: never shop when you’re hungry! Hyperglycemia is a very common, often misunderstood condition. Low blood sugar contributes to mood swings, bursts of outrage, dizziness and in extreme conditions can induce coma. When coupled with a chaotic environment and hoards of people, the inevitable outcome is “mall rage”.

Finally, if you know you’re a victim, you have a short temper, or you’re just a bad shopper, then get with the 21st century and shop online!

What more could you want? As a friend of mine once said, “Oh, I don’t shop, darling. I have PEOPLE to do that for me…” With wishes for a happy and peaceful shopping!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wisdom Sanctums for Lazy Bookworms and Others..

Finding Inspiration at your Local Library
A count of the books I had read for 2009 revealed a disappointing eighteen. A few minutes spent thinking about this and I had convinced myself bitterly that yes, only the privileged few can regularly afford the prices charged by hip and trendy bookstores-cum-coffee shops, with their shelves crammed with volumes of hard- and softbacks wrapped in funky designer covers flaunting the (sometimes-xeroxed) mugs of writers; the aroma of cappuccino hanging heavy overhead.

So, while not on my list of New Year’s resolutions, I made a concerted effort to pay my favorite local library, the British Council Library, a visit at the soonest opportunity in the new year. The proverbial door to a whole new world has subsequently been opened.

Also prompting my visit was my search for Marianna, the lead character in a good old novel I had read when I was a teenager, shrouded in a dark veil of teen angst and with a strong sense of anachronism that gave me a perpetual look of being lost.

Marianna was a girl going through the motions in the Sixties, who found herself overwhelmed by the camaraderie among the young and stoned at Woodstock, who became the inevitable university-dropout hippie who opted to travel through Europe and India instead, who did yoga and who never looked clean to her parents (no matter how often she showered). I had read the book non-stop in a few days during one of my winter school holiday breaks.

It didn’t help that I had met Marianna at a very impressionable stage of my life. Her experiences intensified my sense of anachronism; she fuelled my search for any remnants, even sneak peeks at the Wonder Years (remember Kevin’s sister, played by Olivia D’Abo, was a hippie), of that age.

My need to reconnect with Marianna was sparked by my own kind of 90’s Woodstockish Grunge experience (on a much smaller scale of course) over New Year – on a farm far away from the city with hundreds of other revellers, dancing barefoot in the rain in the mud for three days…

So it was in search of this Evan Hunter novel titled “Love, Dad” (after the way Marianna’s father ended correspondence to her) that I entered the British Council Library on a recent sweltering summer’s day. This library is a gem in the near morass of urban decay. Mosaic floors, colorful panelling along the walls, high ceilings with ornate cornices, slick computers, sunlight streaming in through sash windows, wooden-floored staircases, a pervasive atmosphere of old and wise, of being in the midst of a higher order… a sanctum of unexpressed exhilaration for knowledge.

I found Marianna easily in the maze of bookshelves zigzagging through the large fiction section. I zoomed in on the hardcover section and found “Love, Dad” sitting snugly between several other Evan Hunter novels. A quick scan of the rest of the shelf, something caught my eye… Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World”. There was a time when that book was on my "To read" list. I didn’t have such a list anymore, I realised. Now’s a good time to start again I thought to myself, getting all the more excited at the prospect of finding treasure upon treasure of books that I’ve been intending to read, but didn’t.

But these observations lost their haloed glow when the librarian informed me that I had to pay $200 worth of unpaid fines that had accumulated. I had to go back the next day. I discovered my card had also expired since my last visit over two years ago. This was effortlessly fixed. The experience left me warm. Libraries have only benefits to offer.

To summarise, I’d say:
  • You can save money by not having to pay for books (unless you’re a lazy bum and don’t return them on time). Latest releases can also be obtained.
  • By borrowing books you don’t clog up your own already-dense collection any more only to sell them to a second-hand bookshop a few years down the line.
  • It’s a peaceful and relaxing place to escape to for an hour or two given the spacious reading rooms. And the Art and Music section can be a sanctuary especially on a crazy Saturday morning.
  • It’s a great way to meet new people.
  • The British Council Library (and others) has an Internet facility and a Small Business corner for the business orientated.
  • Libraries usually have a community-based information database offering details on recreational clubs, support groups, book clubs etc.
  • Most Libraries facilitate literacy classes by offering reading space and books for new and early learners.
  • Libraries take special care to cultivate a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for children. It’s the ideal way to introduce children to books and encourage a love for reading.
  • It gives you a place to start to complete your "To read" list.

Having revisited Marianna in her ageless Sixties time capsule, I concluded that the read wasn’t as intense second-time around, though I understood why it had left the imprint on my soul when I had read it.

And even though I’m spreading the gospel of getting up and getting in touch with your local library, I know, there are just some books you have to have in your own collection, sitting on your own shelf. No doubt I’ll aim to double last year’s amount, hopefully at no extra cost.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Date Shopping @ Supermarkets!

Being single in winter is not at all the same as being a swinging solo player in the anything-is-possible summer months, when each lazy day at the beach or balmy evening hopping from cocktail bar to nightclub presents a myriad opportunities for flirting, dating and having a damned fine time.

No, winter, being generally cold and wet, tends to put a dampener on the more sociable habits of the human animal. Suddenly everyone is part of a couple. And suddenly, being available is no longer so terribly attractive. In fact, your once fellow lone rangers, now that they too have found winter snuggle mates, seem to have forgotten your existence, bar the occasional SMS inviting you over for supper ("there's too much food for just the two of us, anyway!").

Though it gets a bit infuriating being a tag-along, there's also little that's worse than pacing around your damp, quiet apartment (when you talk to yourself it echoes) late on a chilly Saturday afternoon - knowing that your coupled friends are out there playing, drinking beer and (you're certain about this one) getting a kick out of being so very, very cosy. Smug bastards!

While the virtues of being single are many, it really can be a little sad when you're the only one among your group of friends who seems to have no-one (except for your dog/cat/teddy/blankie) with whom to cuddle up against the hostile elements.

That classic axiom that goes "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" is all good and well when your pals and their new honies have a good supply of single men or women, depending on what the case may be, up their sleeves ("join us for drinks - there's someone we're dying for you to meet!").

But, unfortunately, it doesn't always work this way. The single girl or guy simply has to rely on being resourceful rather than waiting for introductions from over-eager friends - after all, what do they really know about your taste in men/women, other than what they think will be good for you!

There's nothing quite like a winter squeeze to get a person through all those bleak, potentially lonely months ahead. (If long-term is not quite your thing right now, then the same can be said for serial flirtation.) It's just a matter of finding that squeeze, that delicious single bloke or bloke-ette, amid the happy hordes of hand-holding couples.

At this time of the year, when the cocktail bars and nightclubs are all but empty, windswept reminders of wilder days, these locations should be shelved in favour of other, lesser known pick-up spots, such as the sports club (lots of hot, sweaty bodies), the cookery class (all those steaming pots and pans) and - yes - the supermarket.

Casually eyeing out the contents of a person's trolley or shopping basket can reveal vast amounts not only about their economic status or whether they're a vegan with a peculiar weakness for iced zoo biscuits, but also if they'll be eating alone this evening. It's very easy to divine if a dinner for two is on the cards - count the bottles of wine, for starters. And keep an eye open for any sign of dessert, like strawberries and cream or a generous tub of chocolate mousse (solo diners tend to opt for the dinkier tubs).

And if a shopper buys things like toothpaste and soap in bulk, or has one of those family packs of toilet rolls (or - an obvious one - disposable nappies!) swinging from his/her trolley, chances are there is a family lurking back home.

Being a trolley voyeur is also a good way to discern whether you and this potential pick-up share similar penchants in food, especially since a significant part of winter coupling involves getting cosy in the kitchen. Does he/she choose real butter over margarine? Is that olive oil extra virgin or a cheaper, generic version? Aaah, there go all the makings of a Thai green curry in that cute girl's/boy's basket!

Sometimes establishing whether the subject is attached or not entails trailing them (nonchalantly, of course) up and down the aisles of the supermarket. Sadly, doing so can easily result in disappointment, since there might be a girlfriend or boyfriend lurking in the cheese section where the lovebirds had planned to reunite.

But there are also those fortunate moments when trollies collide around corners, the perfect excuse to smile, apologise and establish that all important first contact. Hopefully it won't take too long to determine whether a particular person is available or not. If he or she is single, chances are you and your trailing have already been noticed, too - attached people make a point of making NO EYE CONTACT with anyone around them for fear of encountering potential supermarket flirts (like you).

The trick now is to ensure that you're standing in the same (long) check-out queue, where there'll be plenty of time and opportunities to exchange furtive glances or perhaps even start a conversation. If you're stuck on what to say - and depending on what he/she has in their basket - you can try something like: "My, but those are really enormous apples you have there!" or "Nice bit of sausage, that!" or "Oh, isn't smoked salmon just the sexiest food around!"

If your idle banter is well received by said individual, and if you're a brave sort, you might consider scribbling your phone number on the back of a till slip and secretly popping it into one of his/her shopping bags. And if you find your tin of hot chocolate and packet of cookies being sized up, invite him/her over to your place for a cuppa.

But whether the sparks continue to fly post-shopping or the excitement ends the minute you've loaded your groceries into the car and are headed home, there's still something to be said for the joys of supermarket flirtations.

The same can be said for any kind of flirting that happens in the safety of well-lit public spaces. Like the exchanging of meaningful stares while working up a sweat on the super circuit, or sharing notes at night classes at the Alliance Francaise, pottery course or gourmet cooking demonstration.

It's fun and it can also be quite funny - if the two of you hit it off, you'll be entertaining people with your tales of trolley trailing and squabbles over that last packet of fresh basil for years to come.

In the meantime, being a single shopper will never be the same again! Happy Shopping! Tags:
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Monday, December 21, 2009

What I Saw Last Night - Wag The Dog (1997)

Barry Levinson's Oscar nominated 'Wag The Dog' is a hilarious political comedy of reality, justice and special effects! Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman star as the spin doctor and the film producer. When 'Wag The Dog' was released in the US it coincided with the latest Clinton political scandal. When the conflict in the gulf region looked like a distraction to the president's image problems, life seemed to be mirroring art. For in the film we find that a political scandal is about to erupt - less than 2 weeks before Election Day!

Less than two weeks before Election Day, a scandal erupts that threatens to cripple the President's bid for a second term. But before the incident can cause irreparable damage, a mysterious fixer is called to the White House. The ultimate spin doctor, Conrad Brean (Robert DeNiro) has the uncanny ability to manipulate politics, the press and most importantly, the American people.

Anticipating the reaction of a frenzied press corps, Brean deftly deflects attention from the President by creating a bigger and better story a war. With the help of Stanley Motss (the t" is silent), a famed Hollywood producer and his irreverent entourage, Brean assembles an unlikely crisis team who orchestrate a global conflict unlike any ever seen on CNN. The eccentric Motss is played by Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman.

Wickedly fictional with historical overtones truer than many care to admit, 'Wag The Dog' examines the blurred lines between politics, the media and show business. A good watch it is.

Direct download Dvdrip Link -

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Special - Sade's Lovers Rock

If Sade was a World leader, then we would probably spend our time living in a golden age where only love and goodness would be the order of the day. But she isn't, and the closest we’ll ever get to that state of nirvana would be to listen to her humble offerings like this favorite of mine. 

This album “Lovers Rock” is simply Sade being Sade. This Nigerian born, British-bred soultress, Helen Folasade Adu, only creates music when she has something to say, and she rarely does interviews for the same reason. On her fifth album, three musicians once again joined Sade along with songwriting partners she took with her when she left the Latin funk band Pride in the early 80s.

Sade does stray away from the sounds "Lovers Rock", which has helped her sell over 40 million albums but manages to incorporate an element of freshness that aligns her with the current electronic music revolution.

The album's opening track “By Your Side” has a sweet acoustic sound and the lyrics are nothing short of pure, displaying the tensile strength of love. This is Sade at her best oozing with that morose and moody voice which we love.

"Lovers Rock" is heavily influenced by her previous albums “Diamond Life” and “Love Deluxe” but still remains fresh. This smooth operator knows exactly what she is doing on this album, which is nothing short of amazing - the groove is light, the voice is chilly, and the songs are as real as they come.

A few songs that really stand out are tracks eight and three, respectively “Every Word” and “King of Sorrow”. The rest are pretty damn good as well. Sade sounds like she had a cosmic orgasm twenty years ago and was recovering, catching her breathe over the grooves when she made the album. So, all that is left for you do with this album is to dim the lights and let Sade be Sade.

Sade - Lovers Rock - 2000 Release - 320 Kbps

Track Listing
By Your Side
King of Sorrow
Somebody Already Broke My Heart
All About Our Love
Slave Song
The Sweetest Gift
Every Word
Lover's Rock
It's Only Love That Gets You Through

Full Album Free MP3 Download Link -

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What I Saw Last Night - Quills (2000)

Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet's Provocative Masterpiece

The Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) has the dubious honour of giving his name to the act of gaining pleasure from inflicting pain on others: sadism. His writing depicts cruel behaviour, including vigorous portrayals of necrophilia, pedophilia and recreational disembowelments.

Adapted by Doug Wright from his Obie-winning play, “Quills” is a fictional account of the marquis’ final years, when he was imprisoned at the Charenton insane asylum for publishing his obscene novels. An immoral aristocrat and spoiled genius, De Sade (Geoffrey Rush) is allowed to stock his well-appointed cell with sexually explicit art, a four-poster bed, wine, books, a desk and plenty of ink and quill pens. His high life results from the tolerance of a kindly young priest, Abbé Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), determined to give the marquis free rein to indulge his talents as a creator of perverse stories. De Sade does just that, penning his twisted novels and sneaking them out to be published via a young laundress (Kate Winslet) who is infatuated with his fiction.

When De Sade’s novel Justine appears in Paris, it creates a social shockwave that ripples all the way up to Napoleon, and the emperor dispatches Dr Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) to take control of the asylum and silence the troublesome writer. Royer-Collard is the worst thing in the world: a sadist disguised as a moralist whom circumstance has endowed with some measure of power. Where the Abbé reaches out to his patients with understanding and humility, Royer-Collard simply tortures them until they relinquish their insane behaviour.

Thus begins a monumental battle of wills, a race to zero, as De Sade meets the doctor’s increasingly sordid violence with a determination to let no amount of deprivation or abuse still his voice. Geoffrey Rush’s larger-than-life performance of De Sade gains our sympathy even as we are revolted by his extreme and often perverse actions. Rush doesn’t overdo the character’s decadence or flamboyance, since he reveals small, subtle moments of genuine feeling (such as the moment his precious quills are confiscated).

Kate Winslet is impressive as the Marquis’ loyal supporter, and she and Rush attack their scenes with playful relish together. There's also fine support from Joaquin Phoenix as the humanitarian priest whose noble principles are rocked by the decadent charms of the Marquis. Michael Caine takes what could have been a predictable arch-fiend and turns him into a complex, firm presence - a steady rock who makes for quite a match against Geoffrey Rush's Marquis, though they share very few scenes.

With “Quills”, director Philip Kaufman has made the Marquis de Sade a poster-child for the freedom of expression. But the movie is far more complex than a simple liberal tract supporting free expression. “Quills” envisions the artist's imagination as an unstoppable force, one that cannot be controlled by traditional forms of punishment (when De Sade's pens and ink are taken away, he uses chicken bones and wine to write; later, he uses his own blood). “Quills” blurs the lines between art and being, and treats the act of creation as a compulsive part of existence, as involuntary as breathing.

The movie also suggests that real art - one unfettered by matters of taste or propriety - can be as dangerous as it is inspiring. In the wrong hands, it can be as combustible as a match to gasoline, and the movie plays out that possibility to a breathtakingly dark conclusion. “Quills” is a brilliant, adult movie. Highly recommended.

Blast From the Past - Madonna's Music

Whether you like her or not, there is no denying Madonna's staying power and her imaginative capacity to continuously reinvent herself. With her 2000 album titled "Music", she once again demonstrated the constantly changing dynamic of both her music and her image. This was Madonna's 14th album and its title track, "Music", her 10th number one single in the UK, making Madonna the first female artist to achieve this landmark.

The most prominent difference between "Music" and Madonna's previous albums was that she had written all but one of the 11 tracks herself. Recorded over an eight-month period, the album was a result of experimentation between Madonna and the French songwriter, producer and remixer - Mirwais Ahmandzai. Ahmandzai's task was to experiment with Madonna's voice, reinventing it with electronic effects and contrasting these new sounds with Madonna's natural, pure voice.

Madonna has always been at the forefront of change, courageously delivering something pioneering to her fans - despite the risk of losing those who liked what she delivered before. Those who thrive on this quality will not be disappointed. This album is different. It is an eclectic mix of what seems to be an honest expression by Madonna herself. The album contains fun dance mixes contrasted with slower, more introspective ballads. The dance tracks are extremely catchy and like so many of Madonna's hits they stay in your head - making sure you're still singing them long after the music has stopped.

The CD's title track "Music" starts and sets the dance mood immediately. All of the faster tracks like "Amazing" and "Runaway Lover" are also dance tracks characterized by upbeat tempos, instrumental mixes and electronic effects on Madonna's voice. The slower tracks like "What It Feels Like For a Girl" and "Nobody's Perfect" reflect a softer, more feminine Madonna and both lyrics and music discuss Madonna's thoughts and feelings - almost a subtle observation of the world around her. In fact, this seems to be an apt description of the album as a whole. It is subtle and interesting, and coming from a woman who is arguably the biggest and strongest force in her field, this subtlety reflects a softness and melancholy in Madonna's creative spirit.

This album will certainly appeal to fans who thrive on her ability to surprise. For those who are not necessarily fans of Madonna's past experiments - take a listen - the album may reflect a side of her that appeals to you.

Now is your chance to relive the past using the following FREE MP3 link to the full album -

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blast from the Past - Creed's Human Clay

Last night, I was digging my old collection of rock CDs and I ended up listening to Creed’s Human Clay. Creed was a popular band in the late 1990s and early 2000s with three multi-platinum albums, grossing over 26 million records in the United States alone and an estimated 35 million records across the world. In spite of their massive success, they disbanded in 2004 but in early 2009, they regrouped and have released a new album ’Full Circle’ that I am yet to hear.

Anyway, the term "overnight success" is an overused cliché, but in the case of Creed, that classification is spot on. "Human Clay", the band's second offering, catapulted them to even greater heights, sending their sales to over 13-million units and Highs at the American Music awards.

Their powerful live performances and ability to produce finger-on-the-pulse music created a loyal and growing following for this Florida-based foursome. In 1995, the original four musicians Scott Stapp, Mark Tremonti, Brain Marshall & Scott Phillips honed their skills by playing cover songs (a favourite was Radiohead’s "Creep"). In 1996, the band members used all their savings to put together enough songs for their debut album "My Own Prison" which was released in April 1997. They became the first band in history to have four number one rock/radio singles from a debut album. The album sold over five million albums.

The first single from their already 9x Platinum album "Human Clay", "Higher", track number eight, broke the Active and Mainstream Rock airplay records for the most consecutive weeks at number one, holding the spot for eighteen weeks.

Creed can best be described as a Metallica-meets-Counting-Crows outfit with a hint of Nirvana. The lyrics to "Higher" and practically every song on the album are awe-inspiring. "When dreaming, I’m guided through another world/ Time and time again/ At sunrise I fight to stay asleep/ Cause I don’t want to leave the comfort of this place/ Cause there’s a hunger, a longing to escape." The band's intensity comes through in songs like "Higher" with Stapp providing the lyrics and the band providing the complementing sound.

The band's sixth number one hit came in the form of the very impressive down-toned "With Arms Wide Open" track number eight which stands out from the rest of the songs on this album. Its lyrics tell of a father welcoming his newborn son into the world and how scared he is of the task that lies ahead. "Well I don’t know if I’m ready/ To be the man I have to be/ I’ll take a breath, take her by my side/ We stand in awe, we’ve created life."

Not enough fuss can be made about the lyrics of the songs that are written by Stapp and Tremonti. They have a unique ability to bring across everyday struggles and messages in a highly intense and soul-grabbing way. "Wash Away Those Tears", track number 10, is a lush ballad displaying the band's eagerness to explore different sonic territories.

This album is a definite winner. Not only for the impressive guitar playing but also for the lyrics which tackle the rigours of the outside world. It’s not often that a band comes together with the ability to produce first-rate writing as well as supreme sounds. It came as no surprise to me when they were nominated for two Grammys: Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group and Songwriter's Award for "With Arms Wide Open".

You can now relive the past using the following FREE MP3 link -

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hope, Sea Dolphins & Electric Lemons

This is my first blog post after an extended 55 day break. And I have my reasons.

I had been working overtime on a big idea, giving life to an ostensibly brilliant scheme of mine (at least that is what I wish to believe). I wanted my idea to fly like the Wright Brothers' first home-made airplane but I am not building a new aircraft in case you were curious….rather something that would spawn employment, help the poor, save the planet and also generate a fairly decent amount of money.

Alas, not even a single investor (I met three) seemed to share my social entrepreneurial beliefs. They were okay with the money angle but not with the saving the planet thing or helping the underprivileged. Can’t blame though, they wanted to fund a money-making business venture and not a Mother Teresa themed non-profit as they misread mine to be.

After almost a year of refining my idea, getting the right people on board, fixing the maths and even micro fine-tuning my elevator pitch (that’s the presentation you make to your investors), I was obviously very disappointed. And it took me almost a week of introspection at a secluded beach resort to get through the disillusion.

Perhaps the azure waters of the sea had a reassuring effect on me or maybe it was sanguine hope of the touristy young kids I befriended at the hotel. Every day, they would wait with me on the beach front, waiting to catch a glimpse of the elusive dolphins the resort brochure claimed were aplenty there. That it was a gimmick was apparently evident but the kids believed anyway. While I would lounge on the beach reading Stephen King with Cold Play and Collective Soul for company, they would sit around with binoculars and digital cameras intently inspecting the sea, waiting for the right moment. 3 days elapsed but they never lost hope and impressed with their dedication, I didn’t wish to discourage them.

During sundown on the 4th day of my stay, their efforts paid off. In true Hollywood style that even astonished the resort staff, we were entertained with a breath taking spectacle of at least 9 to 10 small dolphins, frolicking in concert, around 200 meters from the shore. It was a spectacular show indeed but what made it more special were the kids who were relishing every moment of it, shouting and juggling their digital gadgets, completely satisfied at their 4 day wait.

This episode reminded me of a similar experience during my childhood. It is about an electric lemon experiment my friend Bobby and I attempted for our sixth grade science fair project. It sounded so cool. A lemon, the library science hobby book said, could put out enough electrical energy to power a small light bulb. We rounded up a lemon, a small flashlight bulb and some copper wire from a defunct radio the day before the school fair and figured we were all set to glory.

Our experiment was aptly named ‘Lemon Electricity’. On the day of the science fair, Bobby and I poked two pieces of the copper wire into opposite ends of the lemon and wrapped the other ends around the base of the light bulb holder as the book instructed. But nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. We kept jabbing the wires into the other end of the lemon and fiddling with the bulb, but to no avail. We thought our lemon might be a dud or maybe the bulb was dead too so, we used the additional lemons and bulbs we had bought along for backup but it still didn’t work. We became desperate, we asked around but of course, there were no fresh lemons or bulbs to be found in the school canteen. So, Bobby and I sat at our allotted booth with our punctured lemons and a wet set of bulbs demonstrating to the fair visitors how it was, well, supposed to work.

I still love the idea that a lemon can produce electricity. And over the years, I’ve become fascinated by simple people who have the optimistic resolve to ride out failures and the courage to push the damp letter out of the wet envelope. They are the generators of hope, ordinary people you’ll encounter who are pushing extraordinary ideas in different ways. There are some people I personally know who inspire me and push me to move on; calling to mind my favorite definition of Hope which comes from the American Heritage Dictionary “the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain..”

So regardless of whether it’s starting a company, passing an exam or marrying the girl of your dreams, its important to never give up Hope. After all, it is Hope that inspires you to dream and encourages you to follow your own electric lemons, dolphins or other ideas, no matter how big or small.

And by the way, Bobby and I did figure out a technique to get the lemons to work (you use concentrated lemon juice instead). It also won us a prize during our seventh grade science fair. If anyone of you reading this has gotten an electric lemon to work, I’d love to hear from you on how you did it. With lots of hope, tata.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bushisms : Hilarious DimWitted Wisdom of George W Bush

Listed below are some great tongue slippers from George Walker Bush - the former President of the great U.S of A during his history defining 8 year misrule. Its ironic to realize that in spite of being born with a golden spoon, educated at Yale and Harvard and hobnobbing with the best minds the presidency could buy, George Bush seemed to be so visibly poor in English, History, Georgraphy...well, almost everything!! Here are some of his most memorable mispronouncements (sourced from the Web, CNN, BBC and elsewhere).

"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound largemouth bass in my lake." --on his best moment in office, interview with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, May 7, 2006
"They misunderestimated me."Bentonville, Arkansas, 6 November, 2000
''I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe - I believe what I believe is right." Rome, 22 July, 2001
"There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on... shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again."Nashville, Tennessee, 17 September, 2002
"There's no question that the minute I got elected, the storm clouds on the horizon were getting nearly directly overhead."Washington DC, 11 May, 2001
"I want to thank my friend, Senator Bill Frist, for joining us today. He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me."Nashville, Tennessee, 27 May, 2004

"I'm telling you there's an enemy that would like to attack America, Americans, again. There just is. That's the reality of the world. And I wish him all the very best."—Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2009
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." Washington DC, 5 August, 2004
"For a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times."Tokyo, 18 February, 2002
"The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorise himself."Grand Rapids, Michigan, 29 January, 2003
"I think war is a dangerous place." Washington DC, 7 May, 2003
"The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the - the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice."Washington DC, 27 October, 2003
"Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat."Washington DC, 17 September, 2004
"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."CBS News, Washington DC, 6 September, 2006
"And they have no disregard for human life."—Describing the brutality of Afghan fighters, Washington, D.C., July 15, 2008
"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." --Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001
"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." --Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2001
"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." --Washington, D.C., March 13, 2002

"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"Florence, South Carolina, 11 January, 2000
"Reading is the basics for all learning."Reston, Virginia, 28 March, 2000
"As governor of Texas, I have set high standards for our public schools, and I have met those standards."CNN, 30 August, 2000
"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.''Townsend, Tennessee, 21 February, 2001

"You work three jobs? ... Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." --to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005
"I understand small business growth. I was one."New York Daily News, 19 February, 2000
"It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."Reuters, 5 May, 2000
"I do remain confident in Linda. She'll make a fine Labour Secretary. From what I've read in the press accounts, she's perfectly qualified."Austin, Texas, 8 January, 2001
"First, let me make it very clear, poor people aren't necessarily killers. Just because you happen to be not rich doesn't mean you're willing to kill."Washington DC, 19 May, 2003
"I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here." --at the President's Economic Forum in Waco, Texas, Aug. 13, 2002
"I don't think we need to be subliminable about the differences between our views on prescription drugs."Orlando, Florida, 12 September, 2000
"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country."Poplar Bluff, Missouri, 6 September, 2004

"Will the highways on the internet become more few?"Concord, New Hampshire, 29 January, 2000
"It would be a mistake for the United States Senate to allow any kind of human cloning to come out of that chamber."Washington DC, 10 April, 2002
"Information is moving. You know, nightly news is one way, of course, but it's also moving through the blogosphere and through the Internets."Washington DC, 2 May, 2007

"For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it." --Philadelphia, Penn., May 14, 2001
"I have a different vision of leadership. A leadership is someone who brings people together. Bartlett, Tennessee, 18 August, 2000
"I'm the decider, and I decide what is best."Washington DC, 18 April, 2006
"And truth of the matter is, a lot of reports in Washington are never read by anybody. To show you how important this one is, I read it, and [Tony Blair] read it."On the publication of the Baker-Hamilton Report, Washington DC, 7 December, 2006
"All I can tell you is when the governor calls, I answer his phone."San Diego, California, 25 October, 2007
"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office."Washington DC, 12 May, 2008

"This thaw—took a while to thaw, it's going to take a while to unthaw."—Alexandria, La., Oct. 20, 2008
"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."Saginaw, Michigan, 29 September, 2000
"That's George Washington, the first president, of course. The interesting thing about him is that I read three - three or four books about him last year. Isn't that interesting?"Speaking to reporter Kai Diekmann, Washington DC, 5 May, 2006
"Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. These immigrants have helped transform 13small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 people."—Charlottesville, Va., July 4, 2008
"Amigo! Amigo!" George W. Bush, calling out to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Spanish at the G-8 Summit, Rusutsu, Japan, July 10, 2008
"Your eminence, you're looking good." --George W. Bush to Pope Benedict XVI, using the title for Catholic cardinals, rather than addressing him as "your holiness," Rome, June 13, 2008
"I am here to make an announcement that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of Ronald Reagan Airport." -Washington, D.C., Oct. 3, 2001
"Do you have blacks, too?" --to Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2001

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clients, Wives and One Night Stands

Its Time to Nurture Clients as Family

Okay, let me tell you upfront that this is not a seedy take on extra-marital bang bangs but an allegory of client-agency relationships. As we move ever closer to the next frontier, there is no doubt that we are seeing a momentous alteration in the role of advertising and creative agencies. There are two key areas of change currently taking place. The first is, of course, the rising might of the New Media – read the power of the internet, social media, twitter, facebook, google, the eworks. The second and more understated, is the role ad agencies now play in developing a client's marketing and sales strategy and the growth of mature, continuing client relationships, like an enduring marriage.

The area of most spectacular change is, of course, New Media, as clients and agencies have become more adroit in using online advertising & electronic marketing as an effectual part of the overall marketing blend. Yet, many clients and many agencies are still not fully sentient of the opportunities available from marketing through the Internet and as time will surely tell, it will be much bigger and better than any of us can ever picture.

Lets now come back to our original reference of client and agency symbiosis. In the early days, agencies dealing with 'below the line' advertising or even conventional style advertising were driven by single one time projects or rather creative ‘one night stands’. Before and behind us stretched an apparently infinite set of very short term, tactical work, some of which might occasionally add up to something substantially larger and attractive, but still mostly one off projects. And customarily, the role of advertising agencies was to come up with the Big Idea first. Increasingly however, the spotlight now is to brainstorm, research, test and develop a longer term stratagem first. Once this is in place, the big ideas develop in tune with the strategy.

These long-term projects place greater importance on consumer research and the increased work put into client planning means that advertising & sales promotion activity has now become a much closer understanding of the consumer and the client needs. In turn, this has meant that strategic advertising and niche promotions have become more refined like a courtship, pregnant with unique dynamics that fit closely into the core offer of the targeted brand.

Many agencies fail to understand this and blame annoyed clients instead, reluctant to admit that something deep down in us still yearns for the good old one-time project days. We agency types just can’t kick the sales driven habit of running after those ‘one-night’ projects and as a result, our appearance at the client family table sometimes starts to look rather dubious. To continue the allegory, we may be pretending to eat, enjoying the food but apart, from that, our table manners still sometimes send out suspicious and wrong messages.

However, as caring wives, clients are increasingly enthusiastic to listen to what we have to say and welcome our participation as strategic advisers of the family. To improve that further still, we have to focus more on trust, building the business kindred links we have with our existing customers and ditch our ‘more orders, old sales’ unattached mentality. Unless we do that, the sound, valuable business advice and solid support we can give will go unheeded and a major opportunity to grow our business and industry will be mislaid.

We should not let that happen and break our client-centric families; the main reason because anyone who does continue to try to increase their business solely through new projects alone will find it more and more, difficult to grow. Clients are willing to work with us in new ways and the potential for significant growth and expansion is clearly still there. Perhaps, it's time to "say "adieu" to the one-off project and embrace clients as our newly wed wives. Shower them your love and they’ll love you back. After all, you are family.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Not So Secret Recipes For Employee Motivation

Recently, I was called to speak on “Employee Motivation” at a Business Luncheon organized by a Travel brand discussing ‘Innovation in Business’. Yes, the buzz term – “Innovation” is still very much in Business. The organizers wanted to know how my company with its little crew has been able to withstand the recessionary winds and continue sailing on while our bigger step brothers are almost on SOS rescue missions. Real innovation, hard work or sheer luck; what was our secret recipe? Maybe a mix of all but I would stress more on ‘Team Spirit’ of our small but extraordinarily motivated workforce.

As the advertising and creative industry moves into the next century, everything and nothing has changed for all those involved. And if this seems a rather incongruous statement, let us first mull over our parental ancestors - Adam and Eve. Way back before time began, Eve motivated and Adam succumbed to what could be described as the first incentive - the legendary apple.

I think this is where the root of the changes, or not, in our industry lie. Certain fundamentals of human behavior always remain the same irrespective of time, fashion and history. There will always be a need for people to be motivated and rewarded in their personal and professional lives. So while the foundations of our whole business remain intact, performance is always influenced by behavior. It is all about stimulus and enticement to create the 'best' from people, which of course ultimately impacts organizational culture, brand success and ultimately, bottom line.

The changes that companies will experience, and my company is no exception, are the pace and way that we work. With the advent of technology and science, the physical 'make up' of staff performance programmes has of course evolved. Back in the 70's when new companies formed and management mantra evolved, employees may have aspired to be awarded a Polaroid camera or a Beegees trilogy, whereas today the sky is really and literally the limit. In fact, there is this incentive company which arranges space rides aboard experimental spacecrafts and even jet fighters for a price for your star performers.

Now, new technology and new products develop at such a rate that the challenge is too keep one step ahead and explore just what really is cutting edge and what will actually inspire. This is certainly true of companies worldwide as they strive to keep one step ahead of global product development.

The advance in technology also reflects the way that people have developed. Employees have become far more empowered, and expect to make an active contribution to the management of the organization they work for. Not surprisingly, with their participation and dedication increasing, so does their need for incentive and reward. A staff performance programme must understand what actually drives individuals, as a change in approach is the key to influencing a shift in long term behavior. As for the ongoing debate in the industry as to whether cash, vouchers, merchandise or indeed travel are the most effective mechanisms for a performance based incentive scheme, I think they all play an dynamic part.

We are a ‘incentive middle-of-the-road neutral’ company and actually try hard to implement schemes that will not only encourage staff but make sure that they are equipped with the right skills to get the most out of their individual and therefore total performance. We also spend a great deal of time and investment in inspiring our own people to commit to our brand and culture. It is absolutely crucial for our success, just as it is for our clients, that as an organization we have to have a well-trained, motivated, strong and devoted workforce.

At our company, we believe that whether you use a trip to Dubai, a custom designed IPod or a tailored incentive voucher scheme to egg on your employees, the end result remains the same. It is about identifying exactly what will keep an individual motivated to 'practice' the values of the organization he/she works for. Based on this behavior, lifestyle and aspirations, you can tailor a motivation programme that covers every incentive tool or just one, but it must be part of a clear strategy that encourages employees to take accountability for enhancing their company brand.

Let’s take a branded retail outlet for instance. The manager, the cashier, the merchandiser and the accountant will all have very dissimilar demands of a synchronized business performance programme. So that is where the challenge lies. In tailoring a programme which 'speaks' to everyone individually and yet at the same time, can potentially make use of every motivational and incentive element available. The programme must also understand how each of these people plays a critical part in their company brand culture.

As to the future of employee motivation, the logistics are certainly shifting - 'e' gifts and online incentive schemes have grown and matured to sophisticated limits, travel has becomes more exploratory, and employee lifestyles these days are increasingly urbane. However the nucleus of any business, and of course the industry at large, is about motivating people to give their best performance - to build triumphant brands across the world.

So, by 2100, staff will probably want a trip to the Moon, reward points to stay at an underwater deep sea hotel, vouchers to buy longevity pills, etcetera but these would be still just merchandise used to induce and incentivize employees as part of a staff performance programme. And I think this is what makes the business of employee motivation so interesting - the fact that we would have changed dramatically and yet, since the world began, NOT at all. Eve perhaps, has a lot to answer for!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Teenaged Randy Misadventures

I have always been a passionate guy. Oh yes, don't laugh, I have! Read on for a bit of adolescent passion from my teenage days: Grrrrrrrr!

See what I mean? I bet you're all of a tremble now. I have this effect on women. When a girl sees me, she instantly recognizes that I am what one of them described as a "powerhouse of passion!" Later, when we had a row, she said she called me that because there was steam coming out of my ears, but never mind.

Now passionate guys like me have to come to a very important decision early in our lives. Do we spend the rest of our days stupidly chasing after women, ruining our constitutions, abandoning our pride and covering ourselves in embarrassment? Or do we have a quick neat surgical operation and then take up coin collecting instead?

In my case this was not a difficult decision. You see, I don't like coins. And so, my career as a full-time passionate lover began without hindrance. I was nine at the time and fell madly and passionately in love with Maya (who was eight and a half). I sat next to Maya in class. Boys did not normally sit next to girls. But my teacher had put me with the girls as a punishment which tells you more about my teacher than it does about me.

There was something totally devastating about Maya. Perhaps it was because she was the only girl in class who didn't wear a brace on her teeth. Perhaps it was the casual way she tucked her shirt, perhaps... So, with tender innocence, I passed her a note declaring my love. Sweetly, charmingly, she told me she hated the sight of me.

Well, I did my best to win her love. I scrubbed my knees in the bath. I stopped scratching. I stopped sniffing. My mother couldn't believe it. But it didn't work. Maya would not admit that she loved me. I begged and I pleaded. I exploded with brutal masculine anger. I grizzled. I even tried bribery - half my chocolate bar at break! But nothing worked.

Eventually I resorted to the one weapon remaining to a pre-teen lover. I twisted her arm. Then, in the throes of both emotional and physical agony, Maya admitted that she loved me. What a fantastic moment for a passionate guy. The girl of my dreams had agreed that she was mine. Fantastic! Of course, I immediately went right off her.

That incident belongs to the days when I was school boyish young, sexually inexperienced and sublimely happy.

Let us move forward five or six years, to days when I was still young, still sexually green, and going steadily out of my mind with frustration. It was then that I met Julie.

Julie taught me that it is not a sense of moral values that keeps a girl, on the straight and narrow. It is not religious scruples either or fear of pregnancy, or ambition to ' be the ‘ Virgin of the Month’ awardee, or anything like that. It is her parents. Yes, wherever Julie and I went and whatever we did, we always had, this sort of sneaking feeling that someone was looking over our shoulder. And we were right, it was usually her Dad or in lesser cases, her Mum. Now this sort of thing couldn't go on for long without one of us breaking down, as the art mistress said to the gardener.

Julie was a good girl, too good a daughter. She would not even consider deceiving her parents. So I did the considering for her and very grateful she was too. Our chance came when, by a magnificent stroke of luck, one of her relatives – a great, great grand uncle died!

Sorry, but you have to be honest about these things. Julie's parents (who were apparently close to the great departed uncle) were immediately stricken with grief. Then right after that they were stricken with the idea of snaffling some of the family heirlooms as he was a bachelor. So they packed a case, took along an extra one for the goodies and left for the funeral. Some 400 long kms away.

Julie was left alone in the house. Alone! For about 10 minutes. Then I got there. Whoopee! A night of love and passion stretched before us. Only. . . the trouble is, you see, I was brought up to be a nice honorable sort of chap. And Julie had been put on her honor to behave and so somehow, after a brief cuddle on the sofa, we both felt so guilty that anything carnally else was ruled out of the question.

So Julie made up a bed for me in the spare room, and then we went and sat in the kitchen together - she in her satiny nighty, me in her father's night suit. She drank her cocoa while I had Coffee. And we talked and then the door opened and her parents, Yes, her parents walked in. Their car had broken down 40 kms out.

All hell broke loose. Her father threw me out into the street. Neither parent believed me when I told them of our innocent intentions. They didn't believe me when I said I wasn't going to touch their daughter. They didn't believe me when I said I was going to spend the night in their spare room, and not creep along into Julie's room in the small hours. They just didn't believe me. I don't blame them. I didn't believe me, either.

It was at this juncture in my life that I decided to surrender my morals in favor of my basic passionate nature. No longer would I listen to the still small voice of my conscience, or even to the loud nagging voice of my mother. Instead, I would do what I wanted to do. I would obey the dictates of my mannish urge. I would sup deeply from the Cup Of Life! Bottoms up!

The first girl with whom I attempted to take a swig was with the flamboyant Sara. One rather chilly winter night, I had a phone call. I was sitting at home at the time, idly leafing through my copy of "Big Chests Monthly." (No, no, no, it's about antiques.). The phone call was from Sara and she wanted to know if I'd like to go swimming with her. There and then. That night. At midnight. I was about to say no, because the water was cold enough to give a brass monkey distinct cause for testicular concern. But then Sara went on . . .

"I know this guy who has his own heated pool, no one's using it tonight. We could be alone there and swim together. What do you say?" Well, I said. . . well, what do you think I said?

Let me cut quickly to the scene. There's me, in a little darkened room beside this impressive but deserted pool, ripping off my clothes with urgent haste, struggling with awkward buttons, in what can only be described as a lather of anticipation. Outside on the pool edge, I could hear Sara calling: "Hurry up! Aren't you ready yet? I'm ready!" And finally, so was I. I had cast off almost every vestige of clothing. Almost bare and unabashed, I leapt through the doorway with a Tarzan yell.

Suddenly, all the lights come on. The place was full of everyone I knew: Some were in the pool while the others were all mostly dressed (including Sara), holding drinks, and shouting: "Surprise! Gotcha!". I never spoke to Sara again. Well, would you? However, although these stories rightly portray me as a very second-rate Casanova, I would not like you to get the impression that I have never succeeded in winning a girl.

I’m not like my friend. He's hopeless. The closest he has got to a bird in bed was when the dude next door married. Yes, I've had my successes and one of them involved Dimple. Yet I cannot tell you about Dimple unless I also tell you about her best friend, Robin.

Dimple was the girl I fell for. Robin came with Dimple, like a job lot. Robin. .. I ask you! Is that a name, or a new sort of detergent?

I met Dimple on a beach resort. I was just sitting there, looking out to sea, and thinking about Life, and wondering if I could manage another drink, when all of a sudden there she was. She was standing with a crowd of others, but there was something about her that caught my eye. The thing about her was in fact her bikini top. She was putting it on and... well, have you ever tried to get a quart into a pint pot? Exactly.

I was on holiday, so had no time for the gradual decent dude approach. Indeed, there was hardly time for a straight chat-up job. So I didn't hesitate. I went straight up to Dimple, trod on her sunglasses and asked her for a date. Dimple smiled: "All right," she said. "But I'll have to bring my friend Robin."

Dimple proved to be as lovely as her first impression. In fact, both her first impressions. But Robin, well, she had all the sophistication and exotic charm of a cement mixer. She was dull, she was dim, she was dire. She was dreadful. She was the ultimate dead-head.

I should have blown both her and Dimple out. But I only had a week, and anyway Dimple had something extra that made her irresistible. It was easy to see. It stuck out a mile.

I hung on in there, taking them both out all week. On our last night I took the pair of them to a drive-in. I bided my time. And then, when I judged that, Robin was sufficiently engrossed in popcorn and how Harrison Ford saved the world, I held a secret conversation with Dimple. I'm ashamed to tell you what I arranged for us to do.Well. . . no I'm not.

I suggested to Dimple that she come to my room at 11 o'clock that night. And, after the statutory protests, Dimple agreed. Eleven o'clock came. I sat in the dark, trembling with anticipation. Would she come? The door opened quietly, and I saw her feminine shape slip into the room. I came to meet her and she folded into my arms.

She wore the flimsiest of dresses and her perfume filled the air. . . I don't think I'd better go on any more. Oh, I don't know – why not?

She felt smooth, exciting, wonderful. Her lips were soft and passionate, and when she kissed me it aroused a white-hot fire within my veins, and I pulled her to me and….. Sorry, my fingers are slipping on the typewriter keys. Believe me, it was a very, very passionate scene indeed. We were just about to pass the point of no return when there was a noise and the light went on.

The bright lights were blinding. Dimple stood in the doorway.

I was kissing Robin!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

45 Sure Fire Techniques to Get That Gal

She’s awesome, she's gorgeous. And single. One problem: she doesn't seem to know you Exist. Yet! Here’s how to make that spark happen the old fashioned way and get that girl.

[My last post on dumping expendable Girlfriends was a major hit. I am sure this one too will attract some bashing from my female readers.]

In Alphabetical Order

1. Accidentally-on-purpose happen to drop something in front of her as she passes by. If she’s a lady, she'll hand it in straight back to you. Cue: smile winningly as you gaze into her eyes and say thank you.

2. Alternatively, you could try being just dead friendly. Some women love to discover that not all guys are cheapos, and you could just be the one to prove it!

3. Ask her if you could taste your cherry lipstick. Yes, while she is actually wearing it.

4. Beg her home telephone number off a (discreet) mutual friend and somehow try to find the guts to call her. If you can't bear to ask her out, find a reason - any reason. Just make that call!

5. Casually mention that you often shop near her house. Then one day accidentally "appear" as she leaves the house. Bingo!

6. Challenge her to a race. Fall over her. Oops!

7. Check out who her buddies are and befriend them. You'll feel a trillion times more at ease around her if you're in a big group - and if her mates think you're cool, there's a darn good chance she will too.

8. Develop an interest in her fav band /sport/hobby. Even if you can’t stand it, at least don't sneer at it!

9. Ditch the Cricket finals and share the experience of watching a senti sitcom on TV - without once complaining - and she'll know she's met a soul mate.

10. Don't be afraid to disagree with her if you want to go. A guy with a brain and an opinion is one of the biggest turn-ons.

11. Drag her off to the local park for a lark on the swings and roundabouts. Childish, I know, but oh-so-much fun and oh-so-handy to show your hidden innocence.

12. Fake a car trouble and then impress her with your in-depth knowledge of the workings of a car engine and she'll think you're the Brain of the Country.

13. Fish out her ID and find out her star sign and learn all its characteristics by heart. Then you'll be able to appear uncannily perceptive about her personality next time you're in flirt mode. Instant bonding!

14. Find out which bus she gets to college or work, and conveniently position your self on the seat behind her every day for the next week. This girl would have to be blind not to notice you.

15. Flirt with her in secret. Catch her eye and hold her gaze, flash your perfect smile. Those private moments are just sooo sexy.

16. Forget that you fancy her. Wipe from your the mind the fact that she's the most gorgeous thing on two legs and you should be able to speak to her without going red, talking in a high-pitched voice are being sick.

17. Get a 'spare' ticket for the rock concert or the play (if she is the drama type) she's just been dying to see. Then mention that a friend 'tragically' dropped out at the last minute and the ticket's now going begging - how can she ever refuse?

18. Get her to learn in really close to you so she can give you her verdict on your new Gucci perfume. Proximity can be intoxicating.

19. Get some faith. If Brad Pitt managed to bag one of the sexiest women alive, why can't you? OK, you are not Brad Pitt but that's beside the point!

20. Get wet in the rain, look a bit shivery and borrow her jacket (a good way to cover up for the trembles!). Then you'll just have to pop round to her house or office to give it back, won't you?

21. If a Coldplay T-shirt seems to be permanently fixed to her bod, you don't have to be an Einstein to figure out who she listens to. Hey, what a perfect subject for conversation!

22. If she should ever happen to say you look cool, don't go into a three-hour monologue about fat, exercise and supermodels. Just thank her graciously and impress her with your calm self-assurance.

23. If she's the sensitive type, woo her with a romantic letter or poem. Or scribble down the best line from her fave song and stick it in her pocket when no-one's looking. Cute.

24. Ignore her. Well, not exactly, but being a bit aloof and enigmatic can actually work wonders.

25. Invite her over to your house for a candlelit nosh-up a deux. So what if you can’t cook? Dial a Domino or a Pizza Hut in!

26. It's a fact that friendly people attract others, so make sure you like you're enjoying yourself when she's around. And yes, it works better if you actually mean it.

27. Just 'happen' to stroll through the park when she’s taking her dog for a walk. Then, pick up a conversation and act as if you are the dog’s best friend.

28. Look trendy as often as possible when you know you might see her. No, I don't mean tart yourself up; just make sure your hair looks good, you don’t smell rotten, etc. Feeling confident will work wonders for your charm potential. And always carry a Rexona or an Axe roll-on!

29. Offer her a bite of a jammy doughnut. Then wipe an imaginary dribble from her chin, grazing at her lips. Super-sexy.

30. Really listen to her; pay close attention to the details, so you can stun her with the depth of your sensitivity to her innermost thoughts. She'll think you're tops.

31. Set up a marathon Spin-the-Bottle game. Get a trusty chum to rig it so the bottle always seems to be pointing at - quelle surprise! - You and her!

32. She’s got brown eyes? Tell her you love brown eyes. A freckly nose? You love them too. Curly hair? Your absolute favorite. And gosh, that sure makes her feel good.

33. Show great concern for the traumas in her life (failing an exam, a bad boss, a jealous friend, arguing with her dad, etc), and you might just end up becoming one of those people she confides in.

34. Smile mysteriously when you see her. She'll be intrigued to find out what you are grinning at and of course, you'll take your time telling her.

35. Suggest that she comes over so that you can revise together for your next history test. It' would not be the first time that hot romance blossomed over these finer details of the French Revolution!

36. Surround yourself with cooperative female chums. She’ll want to find out how come you've got so many 'admirers' and what it is they're attracted to.

37. Suss out her favorite chocolate, wrap one up and send it to her everyday for a week. She'll be so flattered she just won't be able to resist you.

38. Tease her: call her Helen of Troy and laugh at her silly walk. But be careful not to hurt that handle-with-extra care female ego!

39. Tell her jokingly that sleeping is your absolute favorite past time. She will probably be thrilled to discover that you have so much in common. Oops!

40. Tell her she looks just like someone familiar. Now what's her name? It's on the tip of your tongue. It's... it's... why yes; she does look spookily like??!

41. Tell her you're doing a survey, and 'interview' her with regard to her snogging and dating habits. Probe deeply, look dubious, and then tell her you may have to put some of her claims to the test!

42. Tell her you're feeling, a bit down cause you've got a crush on someone who doesn’t seem to be interested. She might just get the hint that it's her.

43. Throw a surprise party on her name and invite her and all her chums. Then play the perfect host and make a gooood impression.

44. When you're talking to her pause in mid-sentence to comment on the length of her eyelashes or the colour of her eyes in a gosh-I'd-never-noticed-before way, then go back to your conversation. Sheer bewitchment!

45. Women are vain creatures, so pay her a compliment or three but don’t go overboard.

All the Best! Amigos.. Tags:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Survival Of The Richest

I generally try not to focus too heavily on the business side of my vocation but you’ll agree that all vocations are ultimately about how much money we make (and whether we like it our not), have a significant impact on our lives. My vocation which incidentally is a rather fascinating blend of the creative industry with technology, marketing, publishing, social media, internet and old style consulting all mixed in - has been going through a untamed joyride for the last several weeks and months.

For the last one year or rather specifically, the last 6 months; I have been witness to the some of the most momentous changes in my personal and professional surroundings, both in my immediate circle and my extended entourage caused by the global recession and the consequent financial meltdown. Many friends I know have lost their jobs, some have been downsized or forced to take pay cuts. Worse is the case of a few schoolmates of mine who have lost their mortgaged homes and seen their savings wiped-out.

Many of our competitors have shut shop. Fortunately or perhaps, my good karma, we are still very much in business. And unlike other companies, we are fairly busy with sufficient orders that will last the next couple of months but things are still not what they seem.

Big transnational clients who used to pay us on time default these days at an alarming consistency, cheques bounce infrequently or we get requests to delay their deposits. One of our client, a large publishing house which has shut down owes us several thousand dollars while an other of a similar stature has gone bankrupt virtually guaranteeing no payment for the foreseeable future. Comparatively smaller customers and SME’s are on better league but want contracts to be reworked and rates reduced or politely tell us to look elsewhere. The only saving grace being a handful of old clients with solid fundamentals who seem to weather this storm and new contracts from agile start-ups who signed up with us in the recent weeks.

I have been to several business transformation seminars, especially the expensive ones at posh hotels where business gurus in fancy suits promise utopian formulae’s to cut costs and create profits; where celebrated business consultants and management experts talk about Darwinian “Survival of the fittest” - that all companies should “innovate”, cut “costs”, think “outside the box” and hire “the best talent” if they wish to weather this global crash.

What they conveniently ignore and sidestep is the fact that every god damn thing they talk about requires MONEY. For example, it’s impracticable for any company to retain its best talent that would lead the innovations when you have to thrive in a cutthroat atmosphere where it is critical to preserve liquid cash and cut costs. Bright employees deserve and demand more and if a company can’t fulfill their wants and needs, they would inevitably leave. No matter what many wish to believe, this recession want go away soon. It will accelerate the demise of all companies short on cash as credit is a now an expensive and rare commodity these days.

I can vindicate my argument. I personally know at least three companies including a loss making competitor who seem to be completely unscathed by the slump as they are well-funded and moneyed with cash. A former colleague - David works there. I recently met David who is now a Senior VP, and in all frankness, he admitted he was blessed enough to work there. Even though his company was unprofitable, he said their investors were still quite confident on a turnaround and were also willing to pump in more money if it warrants. Lucky them!

I was genuinely impressed by David’s candor. You don’t find many ex-colleagues who speak the truth especially when you are the competition. So without further ado, how should a company survive? Maybe, get fluky and win a lottery or go hunting for a loaded investor who can bail you out. You could then perhaps, write “Survival of the Richest”!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Beautiful European Pop Music to Download

Websnacker's Euro Hits Music Sampler

Lately, I have been receiving a lot of flak from readers of my former music blog. Many seem to be convinced I have completely deserted my music credentials, some caustically ask if I have chickened out (like so many other music bloggers across the web arena) while some (and i.e. a very few), plead me to restart my music uploads/reviews. I wouldn’t blame any of them cos they are all (to a degree) absolutely right. And besides, they had been solely responsible for giving my earlier blog the extraordinary popularity it received but probably did not deserve so, I give them all the freedom to complain. Anyway, before I begin this post, for all my readers, an immense thank you.

When you are young, you seem to have all the time in the world but as you age, grow older, time flies and soon, it’s never enough. I guess I have reached that period - one reason why I really don’t have the time to pursue my musical interests anymore in full speed. Nonetheless, like I always like to justify, old habits don’t just die hard, they actually never die. So, my dear friends, I will make an effort to kick start those MP3 genre samplers again and keep up the tempo alive.

And to begin this August month, I present you a MP3 sampler from my collection of beautiful non-English Pop hits from the world over but focused more on European pop music, mostly French/Italian Pop and French Pop Rock (though I have also added a sprinkling of other genres as well).

Here goes the sampler description. You’ll worship the first track – ‘Dragostea din tei’ also known as ‘Numa Numa’ - the super successful single by the Moldovan pop group O-Zone. This track was so popular that it rose to the No.1 rank on the Euro chart Hot 100 and solidly remained for 3 months straight in mid 2004. It also reached the number 1 spot in the German and French Radio charts, number 3 in the UK and a respectable 72 on the U.S. Pop 100.

‘Moi... Lolita’ sung by Alizée – a French singer is a popular track, which released as her first single from her debut album Gourmandises in 2001. France-born R&B singer Nâdiya follows with her best-selling single ‘Parle-moi’ which entered the French singles chart at number 79, moving all the way to number 2 in the next week and remaining in the French top ten for 9 weeks. Grand Popo Football Club soon join in. This is a French electronic music group comprising primarily of Ariel Wizman and Nicolas Errèra. Together, this electronic duo create superb Gallic pop that seems to equally admire and berate the music of senior peers like Daft Punk and Air identical measure.

And if you love Enigma, you’ll like Achillea’s ‘Amor Parte II’ as Achillea is the world music influenced musical creation of Jens Gad, the co-producer for the musical project, Enigma. You’ll also find the Italian compositions featuring Mina + Adriano Celentano and the Australian singer Tina Arena quite lovely.

Jean-Jacques Goldman’s ‘Sache Que Je’ needs special mention as he is or at least was the second-highest-grossing French pop singer, after Johnny Hallyday. Mylène Farmer, one of the most successful recording artists of all time in France with sales in excess of more than 45 million records is also worthy of a mention as she brilliantly compliments with Indochine, the French new wave/rock band in the duet rockish track – ‘Le Grand Secret’.

From Latin America, I have added Pato Fu, the Brazilian pop rock band plus the multiple Latin Grammy award winner Colombian rock musician Juanes’ double act with Nelly Furtado on ‘Fotografía’ which re-introduced Furtado to the Latin American market and paved the way for Furtado's eventual stardom.

You’ll also find other great acts like the Italian indie pop band - Baustelle, the French singer De Palmas, Michele Zarrillo and A Europa. As a bonus, I have also added a European sounding English track ‘Doot Doot’ by Freur, one of my personal favorites which you may have possibly heard on the Tom Cruise starrer “Vanilla Sky” soundtrack. Incidentally this was the only hit single of the band before they disbanded to eventually form the popular electronica band - Underworld.

These songs may not be in English but they are all great tracks that you'll love to hear. Try them out!

Free MP3 Download - Megaupload - 16 Free MP3s - 82.7 MB -
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