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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

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Location: Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Austrian Airlines: Masters of Irony

I was in Macedonia over the weekend. Fifteen hours of travel on Friday. Twelve hours of return travel on Sunday. Thank goodness Saturday at Lake Ohrid was freaking great.

On my return journey, Austrian Airlines gave me two reasons to have a good laugh within a couple of hours.

On my first leg, from Skopje to Vienna, I gratefully received a meal -- American airlines take note: you get food even on flights out of Skopje -- only to have it slap me in the face with one of the worst examples of marketing over-reach in history. This is what the meal looked like.

And, here, a little closer up, you can see the reassuring text that some ambitious marketer had printed on the label atop the plastic ramekin of industrial airline desert.

This, in a nutshell -- or, in this case, in a ramekin -- is why marketers get a bad name.

I'm always telling Flame-Haired Angel that marketing is the art of telling the best version of the truth. And then some dick-head comes along and calls some plasticated vat spawn "homemade", and I'm right back to square freaking one.

Not long after my encounter with the undead desert, I changed planes in Vienna, for my onward flight to London. In the departure lounge area, many gates were boarding very close to each other. This pairing of two gates, side-by-side, struck me as likely the result of a dare:

And, just in case you missed it...

Not that I don't advocate Israelis and Iranians taking off their shoes and being fondled in close proximity to one another.


Ralph Nader

Please go home, now.

Really, dude. You made your point. Give it up.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

No time like the present to look at the past

Seeing as we're already more than a month into the New Year, what better time could there be to look back on the year that was?

The year 2008 screamed into my world and started doing donuts before I was really through processing 2007. That needs redress. I probably should have made some resolutions or something.

Since I didn't, and my holiday greetings this year didn't get beyond a quartet of doo-wop reindeer, I haven't really done anything to mark the annual renewal. And god forbid there wouldn't be a transition. I'm kinda wanting less craziness in 2008. Not that I wasn't totally blessed, last year -- I *so* was -- but on the road-trip that is my life, there are a couple of things from 2007 I'd like to turf out of the back seat and into a ditch. They can hitch-hike their asses wherever they're going..

So, sans exposition, here's all the stuff that should have gotten "Postcards..." posts in 2007, even if most of it dit'n.

Richard and Caroline got married.

Flame-Haired Angel cut her hair.

I became a connoisseur and collector of bastard-pop mashups.

I took the job as head of marketing for my company's UK operation.

I started Euro-commuting from Paris to the UK.

JF & June started their Paris life together.

Michiel Dutre died.

Flame-Haired Angel and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary at Taillevent.

Bernie visited us in Paris.

Flame-Haired Angel named June's unborn child whilst sitting at a table in Restaurant Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower.

I turned 40 and my way-too-generous friends pitched in to give me something beautiful.

Our favourite restaurant in Paris closed at the height of its popularity.

We left our beloved apartment on rue du Colonel Moll, in Paris, and moved to the the village of Shiplake, in the UK.

Immediately after moving into a house about 100 metres from the Thames River, we were very nearly caught up in the worst UK floods in thirty years.

I started brewing cider -- the alcoholic kind -- and our laundry room filled with skanky bottles.

I got crazy passionate about baking bread.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot to blog much, and I didn't take any pictures of naked people all year.

Flame-Haired Angel's Costume Design career started taking off, and she worked on several films. She also got her first cinema-released screen credit.

My mom turned 70.

Flame-Haired Angel and I became volunteer dog walkers and puppy indulgers at the Blue Cross, one of Britain's many animal charities.

One of the craftsmen I most admire turned 80.

I went to Turkey, for the first time, to speak and give workshops at AIESEC's International Congress in Istanbul.

Flame-Haired Angel turned 40. She was pretty much a zombie on the day. She'd been working 17-hour days for several weeks on a film project, so she drank the Champagne, kissed me, snuggled up, and took a long nap.

My parents-in-law, Ian and Ruth, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

We threw a big, belated party for Flame-Haired Angel's 40th birthday, on the beach in Sydney, at which FHA got to sing with her beloved Cafe Of The Gate Of Salvation again.

After being button-holed by a camera crew in our favourite cheese shop during a visit back to Paris, Flame-Haired Angel and I were featured on a Franco-German television program called "La Guerre du Camembert"/"Der Camembert Krieg", talking about, um, cheese.

I experienced the extreme, humbling generosity of my friends and family, all over the world, when they sponsored me to "sleep rough" in London for charity.

My friend Billy -- aka Big Lovin' Easy Bake Oven -- got engaged to an otherwise sane woman.

I traveled to Serbia for the first time, to speak and give workshops at AIESEC Serbia's New Leaders' Conference.

JF & June had a baby who's not cute, and Flame-Haired Angel and I became God-parents shortly thereafter.

Lots of other people dear to us also had babies, all of whom were also not cute: Alex & Carol, Shakespeare & Richard The Third, Cammo & Marco, Alex & Tammy, Scotty Dog & Alastair, Bagwoman and Richard.

I got a very odd promotion, in the process of which I somehow became responsible for our marketing in Estonia, Latvia and Iceland.

John Shapland died an enviable death after a thoroughly enviable life.

We sang Christmas carols at our local pub on Christmas Eve.

I passed New Year's Eve happily in my Angel's arms, snuggled up on our massive Chinese opium bed, which is wedged into our little English sitting room.