I stumbled onto these brilliant commercials a couple of years ago. Conceived for Panda cheese,an Egyptian brand, the campaign revolves around a panda that gets seriously upset when the said cheese is not preferred by the unsuspecting audience, ranging from a convalescing man in a hospital to a child at her birthday. No situation is too sensitive for the panda to assert his brand. Brilliant. 'Never say no to panda' says the strapline which sums up the baddass attitude of the 'cute' creature. Which segues nicely into a rather stunning comment one of the fast food clients made on a TVC board we had thought of. As is the case with these brands, and their short 15 second TVCs, we had 5 seconds to weave a story into the script which dedicated the rest of the duration to juicy badness of their products. Since it was around Christmas, we decided to inject a bit of sharing, caring and the usual spirit of the season sprinklings. The idea was to have a family at the fast food store, and when they are about to order the kid looks out and sees a mall Santa eating by himself. Feeling bad, the kid tugs at the father's shirt, and we cut to the next scene where the family is sharing the food with the lonely Santa. When I was presenting it, the client shot a stunner from which I couldn't recover (and neither could the people I narrated this to): 'But Santa doesn't eat'. I was floored, I had no come back. Much like the Seinfeld episode where Kramer throws up on George's girlfriend from NBC, when Seinfeld says how there are no Hallmark cards covering this occasion, there are no possible comebacks at all. Hearing this, a friend retorted: 'Then why the f*** is he so fat?' Good one that. Here are the panda cheese commercials, enjoy.
I always felt that it is keen insight that distinguishes great comedians from the mediocre.
Here are a few from George Carlin:
"There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls."
"Weather forecast for tonight: dark. "
"Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town."
"Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist."
"I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose. "
"When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day?"
And here are a couple from a guy called Murray Walker who was a sports commentator, some of the lines are very Yogi Berra-sque:
"And now, excuse me while I interrupt myself"
"Eight minutes past the hour here in Belgium - and presumably eight minutes past the hour everywhere in the world."
"He can't decide whether to leave his visor half open or half closed."
"I don't make mistakes. I make prophecies which immediately turn out to be wrong."
I was watching an Alan Watts video the other day that set me thinking. In the video Watts observes how, at cellular level, there is always almost violent conflict between healthy cells and the disease carrying microbes, every minute of our lives, and how this incessant fight is necessary for what we call a healthy body and mind. So essentially, cellular level conflict equals gross or body level harmony.
It set me wondering: what if the same thing were not true of the world at large or life as we know it? Maybe all the violence and disharmony we see at one level, which we are close to, is what keeps the wheel of harmony moving so at a bigger, probably, universal level, it all makes sense? And since we are not equipped to think either at micro or galactic levels, we only see what is available to us at sensory level, which is a sequence of seemingly random acts of violence interspersed with someone not kicking a puppy when presented with a chance.
Perhaps that's why evolved beings, like Robert Adams or Shakespeare, reiterated that 'all is well', and that there is nothing wrong with the world, it's in the way you look at things and interpret them. It's not that what's good for someone being bad for someone else. It's more a case of a well-laid out method to all we see and don't see. Think about that the next time you see a front page report in the morning newspaper. Perhaps it will put things in perspective.
A little boy went to his grandfather one day and said, ‘Tell me a story, grandpa’.
The grandfather said, ‘Sure, my boy. I’ll tell you a story, in fact it happens every day. There are these two wolves, see? And they are constantly fighting. One wolf is arrogant, cunning, deceitful, angry, jealous, resentful, unforgiving, condescending and proud. And the other is kind, gentle, loving, peaceful, compassionate, truthful and just’.
‘So which one wins, grandpa?’ asked the boy.
The grandfather took the boy’s hand and said, ‘The one you feed, my boy, the one you feed’.
There was a wealthy gentleman who wanted his portrait done by Picasso who was at the peak of his fame. Picasso agreed after discussing terms. He said he would charge a million dollars for the project and asked the gentleman to come to his studio on a certain date. On the appointed day, the gentleman comes to Picasso’s studio and after the initial pleasantries, he is asked to sit down on a chair. Picasso looks at the man for a few minutes, draws a few strokes with a couple of different brushes, adds a dash of colour, and says, ‘Done, there’s your portrait’. The man is aghast and angry. ‘I spend a million dollars for a portrait and you do that in five minutes? This is ridiculous.’ Picasso replies calmly, ‘Sir I may have taken only five minutes but I spent over 20 years learning how to do it in five minutes, the million dollars is not for the five minutes, but for the years I spent learning’.
I try telling this story to people who say I’m expensive (I am not). When you spend over 20 years in the industry you tend to do things faster, and the years would have blessed you with the necessary powers of discrimination so you can deliver quality work. Not that I’m comparing myself to the genius, mind, I’m just illustrating a point. I tell the people who bargain with me that speed and quality have their price and that by hiring a senior person, they are actually spending less. The logic is simple: a senior guy can get the job done in less time than it takes a middle-weight or junior person. A junior professional may be cheaper but in the longer run, because of his or her inexperience, will extend the length of a project by making mistakes which will end up costing you more. So by paying a senior person seemingly more, you are actually spending less. But the logic falls on deaf ears. Every time. It's hard to fight with an Excel sheet.
There’s something humble, selfless, magnanimous even, in graffiti messages, you know the good ones scrawled on bathroom stalls and big city walls? Because a lot of them border on the brilliant and some are just pure gold. Curiously, none of them (like the proverbs ) boast authorship. No bylines, no ‘these lines brought to you by’, nothing. They are anonymous, often accurate, and absolutely mind blowing.
There was a guy named Nigel Rees, if I remember right, who went around collecting graffiti messages and published them in a series of short books. I picked them up at the roadside bookstalls that used to flourish near the Fountain, Mumbai. Lost them, bit still some of the lines are etched in my mind. Like the ones below:
1."I used to be a schizophrenic, we are ok now"
2."The meek shall inherit the earth, if it's ok by you"
3."Amnesia rules, O... (in the series of ‘graffiti rules OK?’)
4."I'd give my right arm to be ambidexterous"
5."Misspellers of the world, untie"
6. "God is dead" - Nietzshe. "Nietzsche is dead" -God
7. "To do is to be" - Socrates. "To be is to do" -Sartre. "Do be do be do" - Sinatra.
8."I didn't believe in reincarnation the last time either"
9."Progress has gone too far"
10.Dyslexia lures, K.O
11."Is anal retentive hyphenated?"
12. "I am not obsessive, I am not obsessive, I am not obsessive ..."
There is a marked difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge goes to TED talks and other platforms to play to the gallery while wisdom retires to the caves, knowing there is not much point in trying to impress an audience whose attention can be distracted by the next celebrity wardrobe malfunction.
And few things encapsulate wisdom more powerfully than proverbs. Besides being timeless and pithy, they contain the experience of centuries gone by in those few short, succinct words. Wisdom and brevity, kind of go together it seems (which reminds me of what Hegarty, an adman, said about long copy. His point was if the French Revolution needed only three words, Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite, why do you need a thousand word copy to sell a detergent powder?).
The curious thing about proverbs is that there are no bylines, no authorship, nothing. They are anonymous, accurate, and absolutely mind blowing.
First some extremely colourful and rich proverbs I grew up listening to:
1."Like a house of ill repute that has witnesses the birth of a boy"
When the light bulb reached its expiry end and was duller than a backbench student, our folks would say that (not within earshot of kids of course). I am not sure if any other expression comes close to convey the low wattage more accurately.
(In case you are wondering: Because the birth of a boy is no cause for celebration, hence dull lights.)
2."Brothels when able-bodied, the Lord on deathbed"
That's the rough translation. It means in the heady days of youth, power and virility, you waste it all on wanton pursuits, and cry for the lord when the effects of your playboy behaviour start to show in the twilight of your life.
3."Just because it's made of gold you can't prick your eyes with a golden pin"
Preciousness has its limitations.
4."Like getting pregnant out of politeness"
This applies to people are too nice and cannot say no even if the consequences are disastrous.
I'll spare you the gory and gruesome details of ivory trade and elephant poaching across the globe. Instead I'll introduce to Peaches and how she can help you help the cause.
That's Peaches. She is the baby elephant who plays the lead role in the Boogadooga Series of stories. She has two close friends, Alala the crow and Coco the monkey. Together they traipse through the magical Boogadooga jungle and learn useful life lessons that are relevant to kids these days. There are some other recurring characters in the series, like Basho the owl, the resident philosopher and problem solver who helps Peaches and her friends overcome whatever problems they are facing.
Peaches and her friends go to the Jungle Elementary School (the drawing teacher os is a toucan) where they learn what they feel like without the stress of competition. When they are free, which is most of the time, they go to the Jungle Juice Bar and have exotic fruits and fruit juices while exchanging tales of their wonderful lives in the forest.
'How does that help save the elephant?' you may ask.
Well, 50% of the sales of the Boogadooga Series goes to saving these beautiful creatures.
Currently there are two stories, The Lost Pencil where Peaches loses a pencil given to her by a girl, and The Expensive Brush where Coco learns the value of talent over tools. There are 10 stories in the series, which I will release over time.
I spoke to a prominent wildlife saving organisation about using their logo for my proposal. While they appreciated my effort they said they couldn't let me use their logo on my site unless the amount donated was $10,000.
Alternatively, they said they could send me a letter stating that I am donating half the proceeds to Save the Elephant project which I can post on the site to ease the doubting minds. I can get that letter after I send the donations from the first three months' sale.
If you would like to help save the elephant, please purchase the ebooks which are $2.99 each. You can buy them off Amazon, B&N and Kobo or my site. You'll find the details here.
There, that was intentional, the typo. I've been learning a host of programming lessons on Udemy, a fantastic site for learning almost anything you want. I finished an excellent course on HTML & CSS, am halfway through a couple of Ruby courses ( I like the 'gems' bit, irrational, I know), a couple of Python courses, and a bunch of others I haven't gotten around to yet. Picked up a Python for kids book and trying to code like an eight year old.
Coding teaches you some important lessons though: 'close what you open' is one of them. The other being how something as lowly as a comma or a semicolon can mess up your result beyond recognition. In programming, everything is not just essential but critical. So never treat a comma with contempt for it can have you going through reams of code just to laugh at you villainously from its non-existent space. It is not for nothing that people have spoken in hushed tones about the wrath of a curly brace scorned. Treat every bit of code with respect. Just like in life. Never look down your nose on the tea lady for she knows what goes into your cup.
There are life lessons everywhere as a matter of fact. For instance, swimming teaches you a crucial lesson: shut your mouth and keep your eyes open. And relax for heaven's sake. And float (or float left; to be more in tune with this post).
There was a time when you said the above word when you doubted the veracity of the statement or question you were confronted with. That was before the Modern Family cast entered your living room and your pizza and beer laden brain. Nowadays, it could mean anything from, 'you are kidding me!', to 'No, you don't mean that', to 'Why is this happening to me?' to 'Oh, come on now' and a wide range of other emotions and expressions. I am not knocking a sitcom lingo wriggling its way into the everyday vocabulary of its audience, Seinfeld did it with 'yada, yada'. But that was a new word, wasn't it? Somehow, "seriously" doesn't have the same appeal. You just take an existing word and cram it with all kinds of meanings till dies a violent death, groaning under the weight of all the meanings it was not supposed to carry, probably blurting out weakly before breathing its last:' I couldn't take it. Seriously.' It's force-feeding, that's what it is, a foie gras (wtd?) of words. Interestingly, I've only observed the fairer sex displaying the symptoms of this, shall we say, 'seriousitis'? Hope it's a passing fad, in all seriousness.