Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Demystifying Victoria's Secret


Why a Woman's Lingerie is Not Just Underwear

It’s been said that you can tell a lot about a woman by her choice of intimate apparel; presuming, that is, that she shops for these herself and that the black satin Wonderbra or skimpy red Victoria Secret thong she’s wearing under her office wear is not a gift from her significant other, or lover.

While many women won’t settle for anything less than the luxurious feel of an expensive lace caressing their hidden skin, there are those who prefer the clean, clinical innocence of pure white 100% cotton or the comforting, girlish cuteness of cartoon-festooned knickers and colorful vests. There are those, too, who opt for sensible, neutral bras and panties in fuss-free tones of flesh that never ever reveal their existence even beneath the sheerest of chiffon shirts and skirts.

As there is a somewhat indefinable line that divides the girl from the “real” woman (it has nothing to do with age), there is also a point where underwear and lingerie seem to lose their common ground.

Lingerie, Lan-zhe-ray. Not just an exotic sounding word, it also has a certain intrinsic power, able to convey a multitude of seductive imagery, associations and feelings in both the men who admire (or shy from) it and the women who wear it – or would never - of all ages, castes and nationalities.

Since time immemorial the naked, natural female form has instilled both awe and fear in its beholders, who have concurrently worshipped its voluptuous curves and slender valleys while also denouncing them as the cause of all the world’s evils. Take for example, a woman’s bosom, while being revered by men for its “fruit-like” bountifulness and respected for its maternal functioning, it has also been hidden, bound and even denied its god given beauty.

Pity the Victorian English women who fainted with boring regularity under the severity of aristocratic conventions, corseted to the point of breathlessness, constrained behind painful laces and stiffly starched, unforgiving layers.

Throughout the greater part of the 20th century, women still had to contend with a certain shamefulness associated with their under things. Brassieres and knickers, always well-concealed beneath ultra-feminine, flouncy dresses, were unattractively bulky, clumsy and chafing.

The 2 World Wars brought inevitable liberation, with ladies sassily belted in hardy workers’ trousers as they toiled on the production lines of war factories. But it was those dirty-minded French who caused all the trouble, what with their seemingly loose morals and fondness for free flowing garments. It was then, in that foreign but eternally romantic capital, that the word “lingerie” came into being. Rather than believing the female form to be better off when “out of sight, out of mind”, the French, rather, pledged themselves to framing its loveliness – like a priceless work of art - in the most beautiful of laces and ribbons, satins and velvets.

Although the true inventors of fiddly, frilly women’s intimate apparel – the kind we know and, indeed, women love today – were the French; in the latter part of the last century, they had to contend with the entrepreneurship of their newly-awakened European and New World counterparts like Frederick’s of Hollywood in 1946 famous for the ‘Rising Star’, the world's first push-up bra and La Perla, the Italian underwear and swimwear house founded by Ada Masotti in 1954. Almost 50 years on, European women still associate the La Perla label with an almost noble glamour, frequently bankrupting themselves for the sake of experiencing the cool extravagance of a La Perla bra or chemise.

In the US, Victoria’s Secret is undisputedly the best selling lingerie brand and boasts a huge, immensely popular, online shopping presence. The creator of bras with intriguing names like the “Miracle Bra” the only bra that apparently adjusts to let you create three levels of cleavage at the click of a button and the “Seamless Natural Miracle Bra”, seamless, liquid-filled cups create curves that look and feel like your own; the brand is also revered for its bevy of shapely models who grace the glossy pages of its catalogues.

In England, things have certainly changed, too. Roam the high streets of the capital city and chances are you’ll come across London’s legendary lingerie company, the delightfully named Agent Provocateur, a brand now synonymous with seduction, pleasure and the provocation of the senses. Founded in 1994 by Joseph Corre and Serena Rees, the brand offers trendy ladies a combination of serious eroticism and naughty exhibitionism in its ultra-glamorous, custom-made items. Indeed, its wicked array of kinky knickers, hosiery and strappy boudoir sandals have been snapped up with relish by the fashion editors of high street mags like Vogue, Elle and many more.

Another hip British label, Gossard, the creators of the incredible Wonderbra once caused near-riots on the streets with its no-holds-barred, £1-million poster advertising campaign flaunting the bold pay-off line, “Find Your G Spot”. Calling it the most exciting bra advertising concept ever, Gossard targeted the modern, liberated woman with a wicked sense of humor, actively encouraging the fairer sex to take control in the sack (so to speak) and implying that their ultra sexy lingerie leads to sensational results.

Maybe, they wanted to imply that Lingerie is the ultimate in female empowerment, inviting women to make use of their imagination and slip into an achievable fantasy. All of which reiterates the much-researched fact that women wear sexy lingerie for themselves and not just for mankind – men need be afraid, be very afraid!

And perhaps, while Underwear is, well, just plain underwear; sexless sounding and full of practical, good-common-sense connotation; Lingerie, on the other hand, is a word that lingers, full of pregnant possibility, on the lips, bringing a hot blush to the cheek and, often, a sparkle to the eye, as its soft-spoken syllables are pronounced.

Move aside, Naomi Campbell, Heidi Klum and Laetitia Casta - it's time for all other gals to also have some fun!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Singles Night Out


If you're bored of being single, but haven't seen anyone you fancy in months, may be you should join a hip club and visit a Singles Night. Or at least that is what I advised a lovelorn friend of mine. And I did sort of help him find his love…I know it’s a hard job but someone's gotta do it.

You don't have to be sad and desperate to go to a Singles Night, you know. I know, because I recently did accompany my friend to an exclusive ‘VIP Only’ Singles Night party, and I am neither sad nor desperate. Most of the time, anyway.

Actually, this was a superior top of its class Singles Night. A joint venture between trendy cosmetic company and even trendier pub, our VIP pass plus a fat fun fee got me and my friend a plate of fish tikka, assorted chicken snacks, a couple of drinks, a host of singing waiters, masseurs, tarot readers and astrologers, good music and guaranteed up-close-and-personal attention from loads of (apparently) single women – young teens, 30 somethings, older goldies… the whole lot. Talk about value for money.

Red, amber or green stickers were slapped on to the guests as they arrived, supposedly indicating just how single they were, exactly. Most of the women opted for amber and most of the men (who were in minority) went for green. Which says a lot about the differences between the two sexes, really.

Throwing caution to the wind, we went for …amber. It didn't make any difference, to be honest. My companion and I had no sooner ordered our snacks and found a table, than a couple of young (and drunk) women scooted over to join us. And after that they just kept on coming' and comin.

That's the great thing about going to a Singles Night – everyone there knows that everyone else is there for the same reason as they are (if you know what I mean), so any inhibitions are merrily cast to the wind. There's none of those situations you get in bars, when you think you spy a half-sexy woman looking at you, but an hour later and she still hasn't come over or winked a eye And then you realize she's actually so drunk she's gone cross-eyed. Or maybe that's just me. Whatever. Getting back to the Singles Night, the key word here is talent. Or rather, lack of it.

You see, although there were lots of women there, none of them were remotely fanciable. Trust me. They really weren't. Maybe that's because this particular party was a bit too bad for my friend, so braces, bad make up and beer-guts were the order of the day.

Looking on the bright side (and I always try to) at least some of them were hot and I did manage to hookup one for my friend (but it didn’t last more than 10 minutes). So, on the one hand, is kind of a shame. But, on the other hand, not. Oh well. Anyways, I wish him better luck next time….

Friday, June 18, 2010

15 Minutes of Fame and Shame

Protecting Your Precious 15 Minutes!!

For a bohemian pop art painter Andy Warhol did a good line in quotes. His 'in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes' is a belter. Not strictly true, of course, but great all the same.

In Warhol's day fame was a tricky thing - we only had two TV stations, bands that went on for years and cinemas with just two screens. But he knew that fame would soon be as easy as falling off a log. Now we have countless TV programmes, films, magazines and pop bands, and, as all this crap needs to be manned, we have more famous people than ever.

In my circle of friends, I know someone who's just won a lottery and a free ticket to Disneyland, a girl who is acting in a bigbudget movie and an other who was featured in a magazine cover. OK, so it's not exactly A-list stuff, but its fame of a kind. And most of us know someone who knows someone that's been on the telly.

But how will these people be remembered by the world outside their circle of friends? Having more famous people means having more obituaries (I've been predicting the launch of a dedicated obituary weekly magazine for years. Suggested title: Goodbye!), so how will these pieces run? I remember ITV – the TV broadcaster in the UK which not prepared to wait until celebs have earned it, just went ahead and started a series called 'After They Were Famous' on the premise that once you've had your fifteen minutes, there'll be little chance of getting another shot. Dave Hill, the famous guitarist from Slade, the once famous English rock band was on the first program, so they did have a point.

Consider some more evidence. Has Monica Lewinsky done anything note-worthy since her sexcapades with Bill Clinton? Where's Lalit Modi nowadays? Or sexpot Pamela Anderson, the bumbling Sarah Palin or Britney Spears former husband - Kevin Federline? And by the way, where the hell is Britney Spears? What images spring to mind when you hear the names - Mike Tyson, Tiger Woods, Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian? They will be remembered for one thing, and one thing only.

Or take the case of the current FIFA 2010 World Cup. Robert Green, the English Goal keeper will be remembered lifelong for all the wrong reasons - his 15 minutes of fame and now shame being his unfortunate blunder during the England – US match.

I say all this in the light of a major celebrity's dress-busting show last week at an invite only private party that I was witness to. Years of good and perhaps daily workouts, successful motherhood and a happy marriage (forgive me if I stretch things a bit here, but she does looks happy enough) all down the ramp, because she forget to button-up properly. It was all hushed down and all guests including me were requested to keep it....you know private. So, I won’t name her here. But, she may have probably written her obituary - and she may have another forty good years ahead of her - which will include a reference to, and possibly a picture of her munificent assets hanging out on stage.

The lesson must be get in there, look good and get out quick. The longer you hang around the more trouble you're going to get in. So folks, look at your history and play it safe. In the future, people may only remember you for your famous fifteen minutes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Websnacker's Alternative Chillout Mp3 Selection


Chillout Mp3 Cuts with an Alternative Spin!


Here's a special selection of 17 awesome alternative chillout tracks for your listening pleasure. Apart from slow tempo alt rock tracks that progress into a beautiful crescendo, you'll also find some interesting electro pop and indie rock hits. Featuring music from Keane, Death Cab for Cutie, Pineapple Thief, Perishers, Owl City, Arctic, U2 and more including 2 great tracks by Weakling & King and Curve. Download, enjoy!

17 tracks in playlist, average track length: 4:17
Playlist length: 1 hour 13 minutes 3 seconds

1. Arctic - Some One Turning (4:34)
2. Cargo Cult - Alchemy (5:20)
3. Curve - Hung Up (5:55)
4. Death Cab for Cutie - Souls meets Body (3:50)
5. Emiliana Torrini - To Be Free (3:22)
6. Keane - You Don't See Me (4:03)
7. Late Night Alumni - Beautiful (3:58)
8. The Funny Bird (5:00)
9. Owl City - Fireflies (3:48)
10. Papertiger Sound - Magnetic North (3:44)
11. The Perishers - Weekends [alpha mix] (4:49)
12. Pineapple Thief - Everyone Must Perish (4:37)
13. Shout Out Louds - But Then Again No (4:19)
14. The Soldier Thread - The Silver (3:34)
15. U2 - Electrical Storm (4:16)
16. Weakling And King - Lightning Quick (4:22)
17. Xploding Plastix ft. Sarah Cracknell - 2-01 - Sunset Spirals (3:32)

Free Mp3 Download - 90.8MB Single Zipped Folder – Multiupload link -(links to Rapidshare, Deposit Files, Megaupload, Zshare, Hotfile and More)

IF YOU LIKE EM, PLS BUY EM!!
Music from the artists above available on Amazon, iTunes, eMusic and your nearest music retailer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What I Saw Last Week – 10 Movie Reviews

Here’s a list of my recent movie viewings (new and repeats) during the last 2 weeks with short reviews, my ratings and video download links (wherever possible).

The Black Widow (Bob Rafelson / 1987 / Thriller) – Women as purveyors of sex and death gets a contemporary reworking by veteran Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces). Theresa Russell is the elegant blond bombshell whose husbands drop like flies and Deborah Winger () is the spunky sleuth who gets herself deeply entangled in Russells’ sticky web. Substantial chemistry between the two compelling female leads gives this occasionally implausible movie its retaining juice. Don’t miss Dennis Hopper’s appearance as one of Russell’s unlucky hubbies. Websnacker’s Rating – ***

Clash of the Titans (Desmond Davis/1981/Fantasy) – Not the overblown 2010 3D remake that’s currently playing at your nearest theatre but the original fantasy super hit which was released way back in 1981 and incidentally which went on to become the 11th highest grossing movie of that year. Featuring the heroic adventures of Perseus as he battles magic, monsters and ancient gods to rescue beautiful Andromeda from a primeval sea horror. The stop animation special effects by Ray Harryhausen (his last movie) may look cheesy now but remember this is the original. With Harry Hamlin, Laurence Olivier and Ursula Andress. Websnacker’s Rating – **

Free Download DVDrip Video Weblink - Megaupload

Daybreakers (Spierig Brothers / 2009 / Science-Fiction / Thriller) – With a spectacular concept, a decent budget and big names like Sam Neill, Willem Defoe and the handsome Ethan Hawke for support, I was hoping for a grand ‘Vampires vs Humans’ thriller with a sci-fi twist. Boy, I was completely wrong. As one reviewer put it, Daybreakers has a explosive premise that's utterly ruined by a poor screenplay and a weak plot. Considering the fact that this was made by the same Spierig Bros’ who made the nifty little zombie gem “Undead”, this is a huge disappointment. Websnacker’s Rating – *

Defense of the Realm (David Dury / 1985 / Thriller) – A gung-ho reporter for a British tabloid (Gabriel Bryne) exposes a member of Parliament in a sex and KGB scandal but the story goes a lot – a lot deeper than that. An engrossing, extraordinarily dense thriller that may remind you of the Parallax View, this movie also raises lots of dark questions about covert operations and how deeply the press ought to dig into them. With Greta Scacchi, Bill Paterson and the ever-dependable Denholm Elliot. Recommended, but pay close attention. Websnacker’s Rating – ***

The Eagle’s Wing (Anthony Harvey / 1980 / Western) – An eerie, haunting account of greed, violence and desperation set in Mexico. Told almost entirely in visuals, the story involves a white adventurer (Martin Sheen) and a Kiowa Indian warrior (Sam Waterston) locked in a life and death struggle over a fabulous white horse. The action is punctuated with sudden, gripping moments of violence (some of it surprisingly subtle as well as brutal). Harvey (Lion in winter) deserves kudos for daring to tell a two-hour story with barely a hundred words of dialogue. Superb photography by Billy Williams (Gandhi), a fantastic John Barry score and scripted by the Gandhi author, John Briley. Websnacker’s Rating – ****

Gotcha (Jeff Kanew / 1985 / Action / Comedy) – Kanew’s follow-up to the phenomenal 80’s hit “Revenge of the Nerds” is a diverting exercise in campus hijinx, international espionage and sexual discovery – a sort of Private Lessons meet James Bond. Anthony Edwards is engaging as Jonathan, an easy going student vacationing in Europe who is lured by a mysterious woman (Linda Fiorentino) into romance, action and a transcontinental chase with a KGB assassin. Jonathan relies on his skills at a campus stalking game called, (you guested it) “Gotcha” and a friendly street gang to overcome all the odds. Campy 80 style teen fun. Websnacker’s Rating – ***

Free Download Video Weblink - Stagevu

Kiss or Kill (Bill Bennett/1997/Thriller) – I have been wanting to watch this AFI award winning Aussie ‘road thriller’ since 1998 when I read its review in a nondescript pulp magazine. I got to watch it last week when a friend from Sydney gifted me its DVD. With great acting especially from the two leads - Frances O'Connor and Matt Day, beautiful photography enhancing the gritty Australian outback and a natural feeling ambient background score, this Aussie version of ‘Natural Born Killers’ noir thriller was indeed worth the wait. Websnacker’s Rating – ***

Free Download DVDrip Video Weblink - Megaupload

Men At Work (Emilio Estevez / 1990 / Action / Comedy) – Real life brothers Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen star in this 90’s comedy caper as two hard on luck garbage men who stumble on a dead cop and try to hide him, while evading arrest, murderous henchmen and figuring out the who’s and why’s. A harmless low budget comedy actioner, watch out for Keith David who stands out as the trigger happy, vietnam veteran on the edge. Emilio Estevez also directed this. Also starring Dean Cameron, Troy Evans and Leslie Hope.Websnacker’s Rating – **1/2

Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese / 2010 / Thriller)– Even the likes of Max Von Sydow, Leonardo Di Caprio, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Michelle Williams and Mark Ruffalo cant hide the big flaws in this puffed up 50’s style pretentious gothic whodunit. The John Cusack starrer “Identity” did it much better. If you have read the Dennis Lehane best selling novel on which it is based on, you'll realize why the book was so exciting and this isn’t. For strictly die-hard Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Di Caprio fans only. Websnacker’s Rating – **

The New Daughter (Luis Berdejo / 2009 / Horror) – What do you get when you stretch a 10 page supernatural short story into a 108 minute full feature film – utter boredom. There is hardly any horror and the script by John Travis keeps meandering for no reason. When the final pay off does come, it’s too little, too late. Kevin Costner does play his fatherly role well so do the 2 kids but this movie by the promising Luis Berdejo who co-wrote the fantastic [REC] unfortunately is a total bummer. Websnacker’s Rating – **

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Privacy Is Dead - Get Over It, Folks!

Privacy is dead. It died a long time ago so why blame Facebook alone for it.

If you have ever used a credit card, ordered from a mail-order catalog, subscribed to a magazine, answered a phone survey or supported a local charity, you have provided marketers with information they consider extremely valuable. Long before the Web was invented; you were counted, cataloged, sorted, indexed, cross-referenced, sold, and redistributed countless times.

During my college days, I worked part-time as a telemarketer for a major health supplement company. I was given a stack of printed leads and told to call - all to ask for money. I called. I sold various supplements and brought in plenty of orders. Was it my charming personality and silky smooth voice that convinced total strangers to hand over their credit card numbers to me? I'd like to think so.

More likely, it was that stack of call leads, which told me not only their names and phone numbers, but also what these people did for a living and how rich or poor they were. What kind of diseases they had, who their general physician was, how often they ate out, what kind of cars they drove, recent major purchases, and so on. My employer had purchased their personal information.

If you really want to see someone run and grab their checkbook, tell a U2 fan that by joining at the Club level, he or she will get to meet Bono the next time he's in town. Any die-hard football addict will gladly hand over their credit card number when they are told that it will pay for a 24-hour David Beckham appearance.

Advertisers and Marketers have long been exploring the idea of using personal information to derive and provide value. And the companies who do it are the aggregators. They have also been known as infomediaries, metamediaries, metamarkets, syndicates and disintermediaries. Now, they exist in our midst in the form of Google, Facebook, etcetera. The players in this space combine a large database of user information with a large collection of products and services in order to play matchmaker.

These aggregators can collect large amounts of user preferences and then shop for special deals. For example, knowing that I am looking for a new Android based cell phone is of little value to a retailer. However, knowing that 10,000 people are shopping for and are willing to pay no more than $200 is invaluable to a retailer. The retailer can then decide to lower the price in order to make 10,000 new customers.

In an age where getting and retaining customers is everyone's number one priority, retailers are happily trading margin for volume. In addition to volume sales, the retailer can also benefit from relevant upsells. For example, a new Android phone customer might eventually be convinced to purchase other related products, like an eBook reader or a media player.

Aggregators are able to provide consumers something even more valuable than great deals on products and services. They help consumers regain some of their privacy. By divulging personal information to trusted aggregators, consumers can derive the benefits of sharing their interests and preferences without fearing that their personal information is spreading across the Internet and beyond.

Aggregation may be a situation where everyone wins. Consumers and vendors can each deal with a single point of contact. Consumers are ensured that their information remains private while using that data to secure good deals from vendors. Vendors are happy to have access to a new set of consumers who want their products and services. Aggregators can profit from commissions.

There are some areas that are prime territory for aggregators to step into. Products which require extensive pre-sale research. Big ticket items whose prices can fluctuate. Complimentary products and services which can be combined into packages. Services which require the collection of large amounts of customer information. Products and services where the purchase process is either inefficient or unpleasant.

As consumers realize the value that aggregators provide they will slowly begin to part with some of their personal information in order to enjoy the benefits and security aggregation can deliver.

The Internet has succeeded in increasing awareness about privacy concerns, both online and offline. Unfortunately as the Facebook case vindicates, the popular press has tended to focus exclusively on the negative issues around Internet privacy. As a result, consumers have developed a certain degree of paranoia regarding their personal information. Though protecting one's personal data is very important, it is also important for consumers to know how to effectively use personal information for their benefit.

The Internet is not uniquely responsible for invading your privacy; it is simply the newest place businesses can track your personal information. Instead of harboring the illusion that you can live, interact, buy and socialize in this society in utter privacy, consider the power you hold and use it to your advantage. After all, the power ultimately lies in your hands.
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