11 Dec 2007

a nice voice

i have watched Across the Universe several times lately, because i fell completely in love with the music and the choregraphy (in pretty much the same way i enjoy watching The Wall over and over again). And if i wasn't a Beatles fan before, i must admit this movie made me reconsider my attitude towards the band.


And this was not the only consequence of watching the movie. One of the other things i found trully amazing is Dana Fuchs, whose voice i find absolutely spectacular. And who also wrote a very interesting description of the experience she had filming Across the Universe and interacting with the other actors involved in the project, such as Bono or Eddie Izzard, for example.



9 Dec 2007

Rozalb de Mura, one place to keep on coming back to


in my ideal world, stores (or at least fashion stores) are pretty much like this one.
They have a very strong personality, one that's actually different from the others on the market. They have an amazing atmosphere, one that invites you to stick around, look at each item and experience how each of them would suit you. They have a story; preferably, one that has different twists with each new season. They always surprise you with something new - they seem familiar, without ever looking the same.
And, yes, they have owners that give the impression they've known you forever and kindly talk to you and explain the context of each interior design piece they've build up, of each detail in the history of the store. Owners that are very open to every new idea or suggestion. And that have various artsy backgrounds. It doesn't take much to develop such stores: most of the time, a touch of passion will do, cause imagination and originality often beat huge budgets.

5 Dec 2007

net startup

as many of you know, yesterday was NetCamp's big day. And also Net Start Up's big day. I only found out that i'd present something at Net Start Up a few days ago, when Cosmin told me he had registered a tiny bit of our way bigger Trendspotting project. I knew we didn't really stand a chance to win, cause we could only present an idea, without too many plans, numbers or technical info to support it, and i cannot stand losing, but, still, this time i prefered to go for the experience. And i'm really glad i did, because it really was interesting. Even though I hadn't been that nervous before a presentation for ages, and i had a constant feeling that i didn't belong there and that i'd just embarrass myself (which i probably did).
Cosmin and I talked about our need to understand local young people's online behavior, as well as its dynamics at a larger scale, so we can permanently be in tune with what's hot for them, what their internet pathway looks like and what the emerging trends are from this point of view. In brief, we need to constantly understand the relationship between young people and online, so that we can be relevant to them on one hand, and predict the future on the other hand. So we presented a sort of an online research application that monitores the online activity of a certain user (by user i mean one of members of our trendspotting network, who obviously gives us his/her permission to do so), focusing on the user's pathway on blogs, youtube, flickr, twitter, last.fm, and so on (further generating statictics about the network's behavior). Pretty much like an Analytics for users, instead of websites. Of course, that's just a tiny part of something quite complex that we're still developing, but we were really curious how this thought sounded like to people who actually know what Internet is all about.

All in all, it was nice to be part of something that gathered many different enticing ideas, especially since there seemed to be a lot of enthusiam around local valuable net startups. And i also took it as an incentive, because the whole experience made me realise how many things i need to learn about the online environment. The big winner was Vladimir Oane, who presented CaptainGo, an online hotel booking system, while the other finalists were Catalin Tenita, Alex Brie, George Lemnaru and Emi Gal (congrats, guys!).

Thanks to Cristi and to Dragos for the great event. And to Bogdana, for cheering me up.

21 Nov 2007

analog city pixelmania

i haven't been a doer lately. which is very bad and kinda hurts. and it's not because i don't have all sorts of ideas and plans and means, but because i pretty much feel like i've lost motivation and inspiration. That's a weird feeling for a very passionate person. Happily, i am now writing a presentation which is more like a story about small things that make a (big) difference. Maybe that drives some change in my attitude.



16 Nov 2007

silly thought

yesterday was pretty much a shitty day. but at some point, i realised that there was a remedy for it, namely talking nicely to people, smiling at them and making them smile back at you. this way, they become helpful, you laugh in traffic together, you solve problems together, and generally get the feeling that it's really nice when you make things work.

13 Nov 2007

status anxiety

I only recently came across Status Anxiety from Alain de Botton (came across actually means that sergiu pointed it out). And i must admit i really enjoyed it, because it's a very interesting theory (part of which i myself was explaining when talking about the new suburbias of Bucharest), even though the alternatives he suggests to the status-driven never-ending anxiety are quite soft and not necessarily widely-embraceable.

"This is a book about an almost universal anxiety that rarely gets mentioned directly: an anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser. This is a book about status anxiety.

We care about our status for a simple reason: because most people tend to be nice to us according to the amount of status we have (it is no coincidence that the first question we tend to be asked by new acquaintances is ‘ What do you do?’). With the help of philosophers, artists and writers, the book examines the origins of status anxiety (ranging from the consequences of the French Revolution to our secret dismay at the success of our friends), before revealing ingenious ways in which people have learnt to overcome their worries in their search for happiness. It aims not only to be entertaining, but wise and helpful as well."

27 Oct 2007

“After having … been constantly bombarded by road-safety propaganda, it was almost a relief to find myself in a real accident.”

i have just finished J. G. Ballard's novel Crash, which i've been curious to read for quite some time. it's an interesting and fascinating novel, which gives you the chills not necessarily because of the things it describes, but more likely because of the things it makes you think about: more than exploring a car-crash sexual fetishism, it explores the way in which technology can modify human psychology. this relationship between human sexuality and "perverse technology", illustrated in quite a harsh manner obviously made the book quite controverial, but i really think it's worth reading for its ability to play with your senses and make you experience all sorts of sensations you're not really sure what to make of.





The book was also turned into an award-winning (and equally controversial) movie, by David Cronenberg, but i haven't watched it yet.




23 Oct 2007

debatable topic

our small and cosy department has a sort of interesting half friday, when we're supposed to perform on an interesting topic for about 20 minutes. i'm very confused about the theme i should pick for our interesting presentation on friday, so i'm going to follow Bogdana's initiative and ask whoever might read this blog to give me an opinion on what to focus.
i'm concerned because i find a huge amount of stuff to be interesting, but i'm not sure which of them might also be actually worth talking about with my planning folks. because although i know that it's theoretically up to me to make the certain topic worth talking about with them, i've noticed yesterday that there are subjects that are only relevant for me, not for my colleagues as well.
so i cannot decide between a kinda history of frogs (real and imaginary), film noir, organ, Ana Aslan and Gödel's incompleteness theorems. And even the history of October 26th :)). Any suggestions/ opinions ?

a vision of students today

i was complaining about my college conditions, and now Gavin points out this extremely interesting vision of a student's life, envisaged by Michael Wesch. And it's interesting to follow the entire discussion about the video. Of course, there are differences in numbers, but i think the idea applies quite well to our city as well.

22 Oct 2007

kimi does it

ok, so i tried to restrain myself, but it's impossible. yesterday was the last race in this Formula 1 season, and, my God, was it brilliant! despite the supporter problems i was speaking about some time ago, i ended up following my heart - which meant that i continued to support Ferrari and its pilots, partially leaving behind my adversity towards Kimi Raikkonen.
so yesterday i was really hoping Ferrari would win the driver's championship as well, even though Kimi started the race with the third chance. When the race started, my heart started beating really fast, and i cannot describe how happy and proud i was to see the incredible starting teamwork from Ferrari. The red drivers did a wonderful job blocking their McLaren rivals, taking lead of a crazy fight for the title. And this was followed by all sorts of weird key moments, each of them being able to twist the title's fate. Hamilton unfortunately had gearbox problems, which made his quest trully impossible, but he impressively handled his problems, gaining enough points to come second in the driver standings. Kubica confronted Alonso and was able to grab his third position for some time. Several laps before finish, it was still unclear where the title would go. But the beautiful switch between Massa and Raikkonen, following the final pitstop, made things a bit clearer and released a bit the tension in Kimi's supporters, although if Hamilton had gained a single position higher, the final results would have been different. A far complex analysis of the race can be found here, and, indeed, as David Tremayne says, "in the end, Ferrari came away with everything, and McLaren virtually with nothing." And Ferrari deserved it - i really think that teamwork made a lot of difference in this race, and that's what turned both Kimi and Massa into real heroes of the race. Beautiful !

oxford murders

very interesting weekend for me, although i basically spent it in my bed, reading and solving math problems (while also not being able to hear anymore with my left ear).


the reason why it turned out to be interesting, despite its monotony, is because i read a book called "The Oxford Murders", written by Guillermo Martínez, an Argentinian writer who also has a PhD in mathematical logic. The book deals with a series of murders which appear to follow a mathematical pattern - which is why the people who seem most likely to solve them are a logics professor together with a math scholar. When i started reading the book, i did not know what to expect, especially since i feared it might be just one more of those many silly recent books which attempt to seem serious and interesting by inserting completely ridiculous mathematical codes references. Instead, it's a pleasurable reading referencing ones of the most important and challenging theories in maths, logics and even physics (Gödel's incompleteness theorem, Fermat's last theorem, Wittgenstein's Finite Rule Paradox and even Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle). And what seemed even more enticing to me is that the book manages to somewhat explain these concepts in a very simple way: it becomes clear how "any finite sequence of numbers can be a continued in a variety of different ways - some natural, others unexpected and surprising, but equally valid". Actually, the thing i appreciated the most is that the book seemed to me a very good highschool textbook, more than a detective novel. With the crime story as a pretext to exemplify the concepts. Which is probably why i got completely hooked and i spent a lot of time remembering all sorts of maths/logics talks i had during highschool, as well as actually solving some problems.

19 Oct 2007

film noir a la venity fair

there was a period when i nearly breathed film noir. I watched the movies like crazy, i watched documentaries, i read books about it. and i'm obviously still fascinated by this topic, although i now watch and read other things also :)).
that's why i was very happy when Sanziana indicated these two bits in Vanity Fair - a very interesting "concept-noir"...




...as well as a nice explanatory article entitled Day into Noir.

17 Oct 2007

tales of mere existence


I have just come across (and immediately fallen in love with) Tales of Mere Existence. They're simple, they're witty, and they make a lot of sense (and they also made me laugh because they reminded me of an earlier post from brilliant Tom Fishburne).






the usual college files

i don't usually get this pissed, and i don't usually blog when i am this pissed. but i have to somewhat express my utter disappoitment after attending one of my college courses this evening.
i attend the political science college which is part of the University of Bucharest. and that should mean that my colleagues and I have spend quite some time during the last four years reading and developing our critical thinking and argumentative skills. as readers of my blog and friends know, i didn't exactly have the time or the patience to attend many of the courses. partly because i had already read and studied most of what was being taught. partly because i got more and more into my planning thing. and partly because they are simply mocking us. but after the nice experience at the beginning of the autumn, i promissed myself i'd focus more on school during this final year.
so this evening i went to one of the courses and i was really curious and enthusiastic. since it's a course, i expected to go there and receive some information or at least some framework from the professor. but no. the guy actually gives us some articles to read, and what we basically have during the course is a discussion analysing each text. i have no problem with that, and i'd normally consider it's a really challenging approach. BUT. Neither what was being presented by the professor, nor the opinions coming from colleagues had any coherence whatsoever. Like Andreea said, we felt more like in a therapy group than in an interesting information exchange environment.
Cause the opinions coming from colleagues were something like: "i think this is a very bad article, cause it's predictable" or "i think it's bad because corruption can be viewed from other perspectives as well, such as...aaaa.....aaaa...you know...aaa...resources...like in Africa, but yeah, you're right, that's connected to governments as well". Not a single person said that he or she thought the article was bad because the hypothesis was wrong, or the argumentation was inaccurate or something else that's actually relevant.
and now my problem is this. if you've spent the last four years of your life studying political science, and developing your critical thinking, how can you think that predictability is an evaluation criteria for a scientifical article? Yes, sometimes (scientific) papers have a striking thesis, which is further developed/ probed/ explained and so on using some very simple facts. The fact that an argument development is sometimes "in your face" does not mean that we are all capable of connecting those simple facts in such a way in which to accomplish a new, interesting theory. Once you've understood his main concepts, Kant's books become predictable, yes, but does that make them any less brilliant ?
Maybe, just maybe, i can cope with some colleague who said "i think it's a bad paper cause it's boring", although she did admit that the points made in the article were clear and interesting. But, all in all, i left the classroom feeling really really sad.

more movie mumble from me

after more than one year of completely ignoring it, i eventually decided to start posting on my silly movie blog once again. I've written a tiny bit on Todd Solondz, and now i'm already preparing the next post about Henry: portrait of a serial killer. And i'm suspecting it's going to get a bit more serious soon, because my graduation paper will surely deal with movies, and i'm going to need a lot of feedback and opinions on that.
in the mean time, i'm open to any movie-related suggestions.

16 Oct 2007

so, you think you can market ?

Gavin Heaton, the mastermind behind Servant of Chaos and The Age of Conversation, sets out a new bald challenge for everybody out there who's sure to have breakthrough marcom ideas.

The competition is called "so, you think you can market?" and it invites all "people of ideas" to try out their skills in bringing a male audience on leading fashion blog The Bargain Queen in time for Christmas, only using a limited budget of around $500. And that's not it - the really fun part is the round-robin style of judging the entries: only the entry with the most votes will pass through to the next round, until there are only two entries left, and then a final voting decides the winner. So, it's a sort of battle of big thinking. Check out all details here, and have fun!

15 Oct 2007

"my idea of hell is a blank sheet of paper"

this weekend i read Neil Gaiman's Stardust, because i want to go see the movie, and i couldn't do that without reading the book in advance. And reading it felt nice, because it's been quite some time since i've read a fairy tale. It set my imagination on fire, and it was at this point that i realized i hadn't set my imagination free in quite a long time. I've been thinking stupidly rational in the last weeks - like everything needs to be highly conceptual.
And i went to "3:10 to Yuma" and i kinda hated it cause it was long and predictable and generally bad, but a friend i deeply trust told me it was actually very good for a western. And that annoyed me even more because it seemed like i should have judged it in a particular category, and compare the experience of watching it with the experience of watching other westerns, not movies in general.
And there was this really nice project for a social campaign - a real brief, a real problem, for a real target. And i briefed, and things seemed to be ok, but then i received a mail from one of the creatives working on the project who told me that he had scanned the winning social campaigns in various festivals and that the methods generally used for those campaigns were metafore and absurd litteracy, starting from a message such as "call", "donate" or "sign". And he wanted me to give him a new brief that took these observations into consideration (although sadly enough for him, the project really wasn't about calling, donating or signing anything). Of course i smiled, then i laughed. I laughed because instead of trying to come up with something different, engaging and really cool, he was just concerned about fitting the already established advertising patterns.
These things crossed my mind this weekend and made me think a lot about ideas. Original, special ideas. Not the ones you get out of applying a certain pattern or recipe. Not the ones that strike you as being advertising. And i remembered this really nice Neil Gaiman essay entitled "Where do you get your ideas?", a piece in which the author gives some answers to this annoying question he gets so often. It's a beautiful piece about unleashing imagination. About trying to give something special to your audience. It's the type of "thinking outside the box" i'd like to see more in advertising as well. Here are some quotes, but do read the whole thing. It's really worth it.
"The Ideas aren't the hard bit. They're a small component of the whole. Creating believable people who do more or less what you tell them to is much harder. And hardest by far is the process of simply sitting down and putting one word after another to construct whatever it is you're trying to build: making it interesting, making it new."
"You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.
You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions. The most important of the questions is just, What if...?
(What if you woke up with wings? What if your sister turned into a mouse? What if you all found out that your teacher was planning to eat one of you at the end of term - but you didn't know who?)
Another important question is, If only...
(If only real life was like it is in Hollywood musicals. If only I could shrink myself small as a button. If only a ghost would do my homework.)
And then there are the others: I wonder... ('I wonder what she does when she's alone...') and If This Goes On... ('If this goes on telephones are going to start talking to each other, and cut out the middleman...') and Wouldn't it be interesting if... ('Wouldn't it be interesting if the world used to be ruled by cats?')...
Those questions, and others like them, and the questions they, in their turn, pose ('Well, if cats used to rule the world, why don't they any more? And how do they feel about that?') are one of the places ideas come from.
An idea doesn't have to be a plot notion, just a place to begin creating. Plots often generate themselves when one begins to ask oneself questions about whatever the starting point is.
Sometimes an idea is a person ('There's a boy who wants to know about magic'). Sometimes it's a place ('There's a castle at the end of time, which is the only place there is...'). Sometimes it's an image ('A woman, sifting in a dark room filled with empty faces.')
Often ideas come from two things coming together that haven't come together before. ('If a person bitten by a werewolf turns into a wolf what would happen if a goldfish was bitten by a werewolf? What would happen if a chair was bitten by a werewolf?')"

12 Oct 2007

pretesting

The story of Gusty and Ford

Do the Green Thing is a very nice initiative, because it encourages us to focus on the small things that can collectively make a difference. There's been so much buzz lately about the huge problems humanity is facing nowadays, that it's easy to feel overwhelmed and to think that there's not much you can actually do. But i think that's totally wrong, cause every small contribution is very important once the pieces are put together.
Green Thing comes as a community that makes it easy and enjoyable to be a bit greener. Every month, a new Green Thing challenge is issued. And basically what you have to do is actually do it (or, even better, have fun while doing it). October's Green Thing is Walk Once - and the way in which they invite us to walk more is a short animated story that illustrated how much obervational potential there is in walking. Enjoy!



I'm very enthusiastic about this type of "challenging" communities, because they are so engaging. You just want to enter the game and contribute to its rules, and generally do stuff, share and make a difference. Not like the regular "let's develop a social networking site, cause they're fashionable among teens nowadays, but without asking them to do anything in particular, cause they're so lazy" that most times ends up as a deserted site, which doesn't have anything particular to attract the teens, and provides even less to encourage them to visit again.

10 Oct 2007

delightful time at masterplan

A person who's "interested in what's interesting" is an interesting person, who always makes interesting observations and inspires the ones around. This is my conclusion after spending some time with and listening to Jeffre Jackson. He came back to Romania in order to be part of Masterplan, the big planning event.


I used to evaluate conferences and workshops according to how many notes i felt i should mark down from the speaker's speech; now (with blogs, and the global conversation and all that) i evaluate them differently - namely, according to how many ideas i mark down starting from something the speaker had said. And from this point of view, Jeffre's workshop was more than productive for me. He talked about stuff worth thinking about, and indicated areas which can give us hints for developing more interesting things - video gamers, data base engineers, entertainment critics, Hollywood screenwriters, academics and graphic designers, for example. We discussed about measures of interestingness, and interesting vs. entertaining - common-sense stuff which make perfect sense, and yet we miss or lack them so much sometimes. If you want a glimpse of what he said, go to his blog or watch his short movie :). And if you want to know more about the conference, Andreea has a very nice review here.


5 Oct 2007

week animated treat

I've just finished an eye-opening meeting with the director for our new campaign, and the guy managed to completely change our optics and add a lot of value both to the ideas, and the executions. Which feels good and relieving, especially since this is happening after last week's horrid experience with some executions gone completely bad.




Sometimes it's really amazing how different your perspectives get when you sit around and discuss the details of a final execution, especially with an outsider. He gives you hints, and then each member of the team starts to make connections and visualize the details of the spot in a particular manner, that depends highly on the cinema references the person has experienced. And obviously, the more you've seen, the more perspectives you have. Which is why Anim'est is a complete thrill - the festival brings a very interesting blend of different animation styles, some of which focus on expressing a certain concept in an intriguing manner, just like some others focus on offering visually striking imagery, while others focus on "paying forward" a feeling, no matter how minimalist the way. After last year's edition, i felt completely resetted and refreshed, and i'm expecting no less from this year's edition. As a slight preview, here's the trailer for René Laloux's famous Fantastic Planet (La Planète Sauvage, 1973). And if you like it, you'd better come to the festival, cause they've got an entire Laloux retrospective among other loads of goodies that will probably confirm, as Laloux said, that "That which suggests is superior to that which shows. Movies today show more and more. It's paranoid dictator cinema. What we need is schizophrenic cinema."



4 Oct 2007

advertising young minds

There are so many interesting blogs out there, it sometimes feels like a pity to simply stick to one list of feeds, even though the list contains posts i feel like i definately must read. Which is why every now and then i enjoy brand new random lists of blogs - sometimes i take them from somebody's blogroll, some other times from one top or another.



Now Daniel Mejia - whom blog i totally feel in love with - gathered Advertising Young Minds - the top 27 blogs of people under 27 , by combining all sorts of ranks and authority stats and so on. Enjoy !

2 Oct 2007

no, really, it's up to you


Everybody is speaking about music industry problems, and it's need to reinvent itself. Prince attracted a lot of reactions by giving away his new album together with a Sunday tabloid, to the outrage of music retailers. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails further rioted against record companies, accusing them of ripping off customers, and encouraged his listeners to steal the music. Now it's time for Radiohead to launch an interesting experiment together with the release of their new album on October 10th. The band made the album available exclusively from a website, while inviting people interested in the download to pay whatever sum they feel like giving away. In other words, fans are asked to name the price they're willing to pay for the album, and establish their own "fair-priced alternative to illegal downloads". Will everybody want the album for free ? Or will most downloaders pay some amount because of shame ? That remains to be seen, because although the band initially said that this move only means that people who'd have got the illegal download anyway are now free to pursue their wish legally, many of the people i spoke to about this regard the whole idea as a social experiment.

30 Sep 2007

go, oaks

Thanks to Cosmin, yesterday i watched quite a historical confrontation for our rugby team: the Romanian Oaks vs. New Zealand's All Blacks. Without knowing basically anything about rugby, i found myself enjoying the match quite a lot. Because i felt it was a game played by people who are so passionate about this sport, that it would have been impossible for them not to express the beauty of it. All Blacks is a legendary rugby team, and everybody knew they'd win anyway. However, they said they'd engage all the effort they usually do when they play rugby. Romanians declared they felt proud to meet All Blacks, and wanted to show that they're rugby players as well, while also hoping to lose at a difference smaller than 70 points. All Blacks are said to be warriors, not just rugby players, and Romanians wanted to show that they're fighters as well. And despite the obvious difference in value, the game was a very passionate show. The French crowd present on the stadium equally seemed to love the sport itself - they appreciated every interesting move from All Blacks, but they became extremely supportive and encouraging whenever Romanians proved their fighting capabilities (and Romanians scoring was a complete delight). The final score was 85-8, which was not such a big surprise, since the force and coordination of All Blacks can hardly be counteracted. But i really loved watching it.


29 Sep 2007

one of the simple pleasures of life

i'm eventually slowly moving back home. back to my books, and my movies and the many small things i've been collecting during the years. simple things i'm completely in love with. like some old books that were letterpress printed, therefore beautifully crafted. i think letterpress is one of the most beautiful parts in the history of printing, and as it's slowly fading away, i'm sure i'm really going to miss its fine touch.


27 Sep 2007

apg romania news

Many cool news about APG Romania.
Together with Evensys, we're having a first important event: Masterplan is a marcom planning and strategy 2-days event, which will not only gather the masterminds of local research, strategy and brand management departments, but will also bring Jeffre Jackson, who already impressed at the Napoleons conference, as well as Alain Thys, from the Future Laboratory.


If you're a student, then you have a very good chance to attend the event for free - all you have to do is win this contest, which invites you to have fun while trying to figure out solutions for a small firm that produces pencils.


Besides, there's an open season to APG subscriptions now. So, if you care to receive all kinds of enticing benefits, just contact apg@planning.ro for details (that is, if you haven't already received a mail from us with all the details).

26 Sep 2007

suburbia

the brief talk at the Czech Center on Monday proved to be a far more exciting and interesting experience than i first anticipated.


First of all, the project itself. It all started when Monika and I were talking about advertising, as we sometimes do, until we reached advertising for the new residential projects. I complained about how annoyed i was to see those huge advertising outdoors brilliantly showing a sort of "promissed paradise", when in fact the reality of many of those residential neighbourhoods was far worse. And she brought into discussion "The end of the suburbia", a documentary she wanted to screen anyway during one of the Documentary Mondays. So she invited me to somewhat "open" the screening by making some points about the differences between advertising and reality in today's new suburbias. I talked to Raluca about it and she proved willing to join me on field with her camera, to look around and take some pictures of the new suburbias.


The more we got into the subject, i realised that the initial thought was kind of redundant. There was no point in simply showing that reality is not like in the commercials, cause that's a sort of a truism. Just like there was no point in simply attacking one residential project or another, because it was far better to simply show people how many of the new suburbias actually look like, as well as what potential problems they have. We talked about how buying a new house in one of the new suburbias didn't mean just buying a piece of land, it actually meant far more than that, and each person should evaluate the context of that piece of land before making the aquisition. Together with our guests, we discussed about the need for urbanistic regulations, as well as potential problems such as the developer, the surrounding environment, traffic conditions, people around, utilities, facilities or deceitful advertising. And we tried to get a bit into the core of this "Monopoly" (the game) standard of living, discussing how we could make people aware of what they should be looking at before becoming the inhabitant of one of the new suburbias. People in the audience also brought into discussion examples from the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden and New Zealand. And this is how everything actually became the starting point of an extensive study we'll carry out during the next year, one that looks at the new human typology and lifestyle present in the new suburbias, as well as at the development and evolution of these suburbias.
The video below is the trailer for The End of Suburbia, a very interesting case study brought to the Czech Center by John Ketchum.


19 Sep 2007

blind wedding

this will probably not make too much sense for non-Romanian speakers, but we developed these spots in order to promote Radio 21's latest thing - Blind Wedding, the first radio reality show in Romania. I'm curious to know what you think.




17 Sep 2007

suburbia chat

Desolation Jones is by far one of my favourite comics. And this particular strip is something we (Raluca, Didi, myself and who knows who else) will be talking about next week, at the Czech Centre, before "The End of Suburbia".
pic from here.

11 Sep 2007

personal wrap-up

I have been completely silent during the last two weeks. Not only online, but also pretty much in real life as well. I am sorry, guys, and i'll do my best to compensate! I took the weeks off, because of the exams that i was supposed to pass, in order to eventually enter the last year of college. I started the whole thing thinking that i just wanted to pass, and get it over with, while also having fun and doing some more stuff for work. It's just that i was not sure what exactly i was supposed to do for each exam, not sure what exactly i was supposed to read and so on. I only had the courses for a couple of exams, and the exam requirements for another couple. I must admit i was kinda afraid to get more details.


So i initially did what i always do when in doubt. I thought that i should get at least something interesting from the experience, therefore i started reading books that were generally somewhat connected to political science. I knew that if i knew at least something, then i could keep on connecting ideas and pass at least part of the exams. But the more i read, the more interested i became, and after a couple of days i was so absorbed that i decided i really wanted to prepare for these exams. Cause i realised a thing - there was no point in me just going there and attempt to pass after a quick look on the courses the night before the exam, or based on completely unrelated general things i knew. That would have meant cheating on myself. My ambition goes far beyond that - i strongly believe in reading and thinking and analysing and presenting own work. I worked like crazy, but i got a lot from the experience - i simply know so much more now, and i am so much more confident about some political issues, and i feel so much better. I completely switched off Internet, in order not to be distracted by mails or messenger or blogs or any such things, and i surrounded myself with books, articles, and courses. I woke up extremely early every morning. I've written dozens of pages for essays and papers. And i enjoyed every minute of it. This way, I also realised how much time i generally waste daily. And the cool thing is that it really paid off.


24 Aug 2007

imagination dead imagine

yesterday, while having one of the endless discussions about the "young generation", we started talking about the sad possibility that kids nowadays completely lack imagination, due to TV, video games and internet consumption. I will not get into that again, but i must admit that the conversation reminded me about Samuel Beckett's "Imagination dead imagine", nicely illustrated below:


22 Aug 2007

first free and legal music on demand website


i have been using blogmusik daily for a very long time now, which is why it felt really weird today, when i was redirected to deezer.com. Apparently, the name Blogmusik is gone, being replaced by Deezer - the first free and legal music on demand website. According to this and this, this rebranding takes place after blogmusik negotiated some copyrights and stuff. Daniel Marhely and Jonathan Benassaya, creators of blogmusik, explain that "While most people surfing the internet consume music freelly and illegally, a way profs and artists are continuosly fighting against, Deezer.com announces the long expected revolution. Thanks to agreements negociated with SACEM, Deezer.com now becomes the only actor offering a free solution for web-surfers, while also paying music actors with the profits obtained through advertising."

21 Aug 2007

the many weird meanings of various terms part 1

whippy choppy (definition(s))

1. an unkown canned food that looks like mashed up chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, jojos, onion rings, and rolls

2. a sex position in which the partners are floating in the air while fucking eachother! - "We're gonna have to have sex in space in order to perform the whippy choppy."

3. a term for idiotic entertainment... if said in an old mans voice while holding a thin stick that sounds somewhat a whip when swung... it's sure to get a laugh and probably cause somebody to piss their pants.

4. a curse word to use when you are taking care of a fake baby with a computer in it's back when it cries.

5. another word for a fucked up hairdo.

6. a kick ass dance move mostly seen at private raves.

7. a sport in which players get in zipped up sleeping bags and beat the shit out of eachother while completely blind!

8. a kick ass sword/whip used in war

9. the type of movie in which you laugh so hard you shit your pants

10. the kind of website that your friends send you a link to and you have no clue what it is... and it ends up being porno

11. an island that looks like a penis

12. a term coughed during work when you are talking about your boss and he's standing right behind your best friend!

13. a term used for a celebrity that is such a poser and is so fucking stupid

14. a type of drug in which you inhale to make you feel like you're having an endless orgasm or can make you feel like you're in a kill bill movie ready to chop everybody's limbs off!"

15. an article of clothing that is worn up the ass crack and over the shoulders..... ???

16. a shitty old beat up car

From the restless ever-inspiring Urban Dictionary.

20 Aug 2007

exciting event

there are very simple things that make me really happy. One of these things is a piece of experimental theater that happens in Sibiu on the 28th of September.

dreamthinkspeak is a theater group that aims to explore the use of space, light, image, film, sound and text as equal ingredients in creating live performance and to explore how the use of different environments can radically alter the relationship of the audience to the work. Which also means that they adapt their performances according to the various locations where they're supposed to act, using and integrating the story of the places where they perform in their show.


They'll come to Sibiu in order to perform Don't look back, "a journey through the rooms, corridors, hallways and stairwells of specially chosen sites inspired by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice". The experience will be really intimate, for the audience only consists of 3 people, and the show was customized to fit the city hall, where the whole thing is going to take place. I can hardly wait to get there.

17 Jul 2007

juicy week

Last week, i have been part of things that i appreciated a lot, and in whose potential i believe a lot.

IAA is launching IAA Young Professionals, a division that takes care of the interests and needs of young people (less than 25 y.o.). I was invited to the preliminary discussions last week, and i am priviledged to say that i am among the founding members of this chapter, together with a bunch of great colleagues. The reason i am so enthusiastic about this is that i know damn well what it means to be completely new in this industry, not knowing whom to turn to, where to learn from and all that. So i can only be glad we can make a difference for the passionate young people out there who need some support.

Speaking of passionate young people, the McCann Creative Mentorship that Mihnea and I are taking care of, has announced its first mentorees. It's been an amazingly refreshing experience for me, because some of the people who submitted their answers proved to be extremely funny and creative, and came up with crazily fresh ideas. And, what was even nicer, they also came up with interesting concepts, resisting the temptation to be creative just for the sake of creativity, to use one of the most loved cliches. However, i was quite disappointed by the very many who only submitted brief answers in Word format. I would have loved to see them at least trying to sell their ideas in surprising formats, which would have given them an extra credit for their work. Anyway, since this is an ongoing project, i am sure that more and more intriguing presentations will add up, making the selection more and more difficult.

And last, but surely not least, we had quite a productive planner meeting last Thursday, with many people coming and sharing their opinions on how to turn our APG into something useful for everybody. During the first months, APGR will try to become a sort of a knowledge-center, so that any person interested in planning can find useful information and support. This will be obviously doubled by trainings and conferences aimed at presenting the various forms and aspects of planning and research. And we hope we can attract as many members interested in planning as possible. In case any of you has suggestions or comments, please feel free to use our email apg@planning.ro.

Looks like there's plenty of work to do !

11 Jul 2007

emotional


My sister turns 18 today, which makes me feel bonkers old. Happy birthday, sis !

APG meeting - things starting to roll

As you might know, our APG Romania had a voting session last week, and the result is a short-term board. Let's talk about this board's starting objectives, as well as the first steps that our APG should follow on Thursday, at 8 pm, in Codecs.


Everybody is welcome to share ideas, suggestions, expectations from the APG and so on - the more ideas we discuss, the better chances we have to turn this into something useful for everybody. So, what do you think ?


Precise location - Codecs, 37-39 Agricultori street, room 104 (very close to PRO TV)


10 Jul 2007

mind-feeding

Filtr.tv is one of those nice small ideas that bring something interesting for the watcher's eye, as well as mind. What it basically does is to provide weekly playlists of short movies, animations and music videos developed by a selection of unique, undiscovered, and intriguing individuals and organizations (we call them contributors) who are either using online video to communicate or can be represented within an online video.


What i like the most about it is that it feels like going to a cosy contemporary art gallery: you travel through different perpectives, intriguing views, inspiring twists, refreshing combinations of ideas that kick-start your own closures and interpretations - i really like websites that act as a platform for that.

9 Jul 2007

only 2 km away from extra special life







supporter's dilemma

I am facing a very serious problem and i thought that sharing it here might help me get suggestions. My problem is this: i have been a Formula 1 great fan for very many years. I've been mad about Ferrari and Schumacher - always supporting them, crying enraged when they were having problems and/or losing, being more than happy when they were winning. Sheer love.
When Schumacher retired, i pretty much stopped watching the races. However, some weeks ago i accidentally started watching a race, and all my passion for Formula 1 in general came back, so now i'm back to watching all confrontations. The sad part is that something very important is missing - i have no idea whom to support. Therefore, i watch F1 for the show, but at the end of the race i am quite neutral - no tears of sorrow, no tears of joy. I still love Ferrari in a way, but i felt really betrayed when they brought Raikkonen - back in the good, old days i hated Raikkonen, and i used to receive tones of aggressive sms from my friends who supported McLaren whenever Kimi surpassed Schumi. I know this is not really a rational argument against Kimi, but whenever i remember some of the Raikkonen/Schumacher races i get totally pissed off. Massa, on the other hand, doesn't really inspire me in any way, even though everybody says he's one of the rising talents (which he might as well be). I sometimes appreciate his style, but most of the time i get the impression that he's barely even racing. Maybe i should just pay a little more attention to him.
I cannot stand McLaren Mercedes. No rational reasons, again, but i always loved Ferrari too much for McLaren not to get on my nerves, and i hope it's understandable. The fact that Alonso is now part of McLaren only made things worse, since i've been in great pain when Alonso took away two titles from Schumacher, also winning in Schumi's last season (you cannot imagine what i've been through during the race when Schumi could have definately won the title, but car problems forced him to abandon - i just couldn't believe it and couldn't recover). However, i do somewhat appreciate and empathise with Hamilton who seems to be really promissing, and who's also my age :).
Even though i am a BMW fan when it comes to cars, i cannot say that they impressed me with anything in Formula 1 (by the way, i really appreciated the Williams-BMW duo). I would have really expected them to, but they failed to do so, which means that i cannot relate to them as a supporter. Nor to their drivers, Heidfeld and Kubica.
Strangely enough, at some points, i've been really impressed by Fisichella, and in a way i was happy for him when he switched to Renault, cause i thought this gave him more chances to prove himself as a good driver. At some other points, he disappointed me so badly that i thought he had nothing to do with driving, after all. As for Barrichello, i appreciated him when he was part of Ferrari, but now he's just average, although i thought that the combination between him and Honda would be nice.
This is obviously the very abridged version of the story. And i know it's mostly emotional, but how rational can i get, after being so damn passionate about Schumacher and Ferrari for so many years ? I guess my heart is still with the constructor, but supporting Raikkonen just feels unfair...

2 Jul 2007

sleeping randomness


Last week, i was so sleepy i couldn't believe it. I even fell asleep on the door, and i am not kidding. I simply couldn't keep my eyes open. This whole situation was both embarassing and discouraging for me, since i've spent a lot of years sleeping 2-3 hours per night at most. But i must be getting old.


This state of mind randomly reminded me of all kinds of sleeping-related things i've watched or read at some point. Here's five of them, in an obvious random order, as well as topic.


The house of sleep - a novel written by Jonathan Coe i've read many years ago and considered interesting at the time. Actually, i was fascinated by one particular character, named Terry, a chronic insomniac who was obsessed with movies.


The science of sleep is a Michel Gondry movie i liked quite a lot. Mainly for two reasons. One - it reminded me of the period when i used to let my imagination fly far more than i do nowadays; which meant that instead of cross-referencing a lot, i pictured all sorts of oddities around me. Two, cause i love the sound and concept of "Parallel Synchronized Randomness".


Nocturne, one poem by Ruben Dario that was sent to me by a friend years ago.


Andy Warhol's first film (or, better said, anti-film) Sleep, about which he said: "I could never finally figure out if more things happened in the sixties because there was more awake time for them to happen in (since so many people were on amphetamine), or if people started taking amphetamine because there were so many things to do that they needed to have more awake time to do them in... Seeing everybody so up all the time made me think that sleep was becoming pretty obsolete, so I decided I'd better quickly do a movie of a person sleeping. Sleep was the first movie I made when I got my 16mm Bolex."


Suzanne Vega's song "Tired of sleeping".

pic from here.

28 Jun 2007

non-blogging consequences

This blog has been deserted for too long now. And during this time, i tried to come up with all sorts of reasons to convince myself that there was a very good cause behind me not writing here anymore. Most times, i felt like i was too busy to post (which is not so far from the truth), some other times i felt like i 'd rather use the time for doing something else, sometimes i felt like i didn't really have anything interesting to say, some other times my enthusiams was simply cut down by all sorts of talks about blogging vs planning or blogger vs. practician. At times, i even got annoyed by all the fuss that was created on blogs following events such as Olimpiadele Comunicarii - when the unhappy people used the blogs as the perfect environment to let go of all their frustrations and insult other people who were only trying to help. More recently, i blamed not posting on the fact that i have temporarily moved away from my home, and no longer have internet, which must be one of the silliest excuses ever.

And then, slowly and surely, i started to realise all the drawbacks that not blogging has on me. Like for example:


1. my daily dose of interesting bits dramatically decreased - i simply love the blog brain, not necessarily for the times when it reminds me of random "cultural" or scientifical facts that i could have read lots of books about or even looked for myself on wikipedia, but more likely for its "amazing ability to come up with all sorts of hypotheses that sound correct and have the added benefit of being totally impossible to verify", as Scott Adams puts it. Blogs are full of ideas and, most important, thoughts - some brilliant, some crazy, some silly, but who cares as long as you can always make connections and get something out of them ? I mean of course i spot all sorts of things in the street, i read all sorts of things in newspapers and watch some on television, but their tone sounds more argumented, more like "these are the facts", and less like the "you know, this thingy crossed my mind this morning, and i can't realise whether it's retarded or genius" blog-tone.


2. the more i postponed posting, the more i postponed reading - and i mean even postponing reading blogs that i adore, written by people who always get me curious with their posts.


3. the less i blogged about them, the less events i attended - i used to be so much more connected to Bucharest arena - no matter how tired, i still found time to simply know about very many of the things happening, and i also found time to attend at least half of them. I went to events, museums, i compared, i combined, trying to extract something interesting enough to share. And actually, this isn't only limited to attending stuff.


4. blogging less meant getting in touch with less wonderful people - and also losing touch with some of the wonderful people i "met" via blog. Quite an obvious one, isn't it ?


5. lack of blogging reduced my enthusiasm in implementing all sorts of small projects - sometimes blogging feels like writing my very small manifesto and keeping track of how consistent i am with it. Otherwise, many of my small manifestos remain notes in my notebook i often forget about.


This being said, it's time to gather the Word docs i saved as drafts on the laptop, even though they seem really silly, like the one trying to prove what a great planner Hitchcock would have been.
pic from here.

20 Jun 2007

interesting2007

Interesting2007 has been one of the most exciting experiences i've ever had. The atmosphere, the presentations, the rhythm, the mood, the audience, there simply was something special in the air that made me feel very special to be part of the gathering.
The whole thing was mostly interesting because of its randomness - and it kept on bombing us with different ideas, different angles, different perspectives, developing far less like the regular planned big teaching seminars and conferences and far more like the exact way in which we find ideas and inspiration - combining a bit from here, a bit from there.
At times, the randomness and events-on-stage made the event feel weirder and slightly spookier than a Star Wars convention. Which is kinda brilliant. There were moments when i simply laughed and wondered what would happen next, and i didn't get disappointed for a moment. The combination of topics included tips on how to split a log, video games and art, the challenges encountered when you you try to use simple everyday actions to change the world, television, tips for making a better erotic film, comics, niceness, knots, food reconstructions, printing, Ibsen and muppets, tubes, skateboards, finity, Oprah, science of spying, amazing pics, fobias and many others.
Once again i was reminded the fact that no matter whether they're used to talking in public or not, whether they're used to writing presentations or not, people are just brilliant when they talk about something they are really passionate about. And passion can get really contagious at times.
I was very glad that Alina and Ileana were also there. And it was also really nice to talk to John, who's up for a brand new experiment and who will also be in Romania soon, Ben, who was kind enough to sign me an autograph and draw me a map of London, and Faris, who had just been to Romania. And i even got a chance to say hi to Paul Colman himself.
Amazing day, amazing feel. Pics soon.

7 Jun 2007

instead of counting sheep

We're dead curious to know how many planners Romania has (and making bets about it), as one of the first APG Romania actions. So please tell us about you here.

5 Jun 2007

resolution

"It's just this crazy day - so damn many things to do. Tomorrow it will all be different". "The weekend...aaah - the weekend will be free". "This is the last weekend when i work instead of doing other things". "It's just this crazy week. Next week i'll have spare time". "It's just this month. I'll have to reconsider my lifestyle next month"...

This is how i've been lying to myself lately. And it has to stop, so that i can post on my blog once again, and attend all interesting events again, and watch loads of movies, and practice sports, and stay out like crazy and so on. That's it :).

21 May 2007

warning signs

This is a warning sign for tourists - the hand-written small print claims the warning does not apply to Hungarians.
Smoking area - but smoking kills.

the weekend

Although i wasn't very pleased with the idea of going to Poiana Brasov again, my weekend turned out to be very nice and relaxing. I took the good, old Red Road up to Postavarul, took loads of bad pictures of trees and thought a lot about recycling, mostly following a very interesting and engaging "Focus on ecology" conference in the Czech Center. One thing is certain - one way or another i need to get involved in environmental issues, and try to make at least a small difference.
Walking in the woods is always fascinating for me - and i usually focus on one particular detail, which i observe all the way. This time the detail was snails.

And, speaking of snails, i can say that i had plenty of slow food (now that the movement arrived in Romania as well). And it felt so good to talk to the chefs, be explained all sorts of stuff about Romanian traditional food and recipes, as well as particular serving methods. I also admired an exhibition of pickles - those people develop pickling as a form of art :).


i support


A very nice recent campaign caught my attention - this year The Civil Society Gala gives all of us the possibility to help shape the Romanian civil society, by "adopting" an NGO - linking to it, promoting its projects, talking about them and so on. I think that's a really great idea, especially if all of us "adoptive parents" remember to keep an eye on the chosen NGOs.


I would adopt many of the featured NGOs, but i just thought that i should focus on one for the time being (and then maybe record podcasts with people from the other names on the list as well). And that one is The Ecology-Sport-Tourism Association (AEST). I like AEST because i somewhat perceive it as a sort of a gathering of planeteers (Captain Planet sense). They help form eco-volunteers, and i know how difficult, yet vital, this has become among the vast majority of young people. They have already formed over 600 eco-volunteers, who either developed their own associations, or they further collaborated in various eco-projects. And i strongly hope they keep on doing their great job (at this point, i am very tempted by the idea of becoming an eco-volunteer myself). Their projects for 2007 include:
  • 5 volunteer camps in Apuseni, Bucegi, Cozia, Piatra Craiului and Piatra Mare

  • eco-volunteer training courses, addressed to students

  • "Ecoturistica" educational magazine

  • implication, together with other organizations, in a vast campaign against the destruction of forests

Stay tuned for updates :).

18 May 2007

last night's meeting

Really enjoyable planner meeting last night. Even though we thought nobody would show up, we ended up with very nice company including Leo colleagues Andrei, Daniela, Monica and Stefan, IqAds mogul Costin and nenorocitu, whom i've been dying to meet in a loooong time.
I guess that research was the main topic on the list, with us chatting about focus groups, Leo Youth and Q methodology and IPA. Not much about APG Romania, though we did speak a little about the differences that might exist between planning in Bucharest and planning in other Romanian cities.
Oh...and we considered a bit starting a blog to mark down Costin's adventures. I think he'd make a great cartoon strip character as well.

17 May 2007

planner meeting

Apparently, out small APG Romania is starting to have a legal shape as well. I guess this means we'll gather every once in a while to discuss "serious" stuff like how to turn this into something meaningful and helpful and worthwhile. However, this seems to be fairly impossible every two weeks.

So, in the mean time, the Amsterdam series of planner meetings goes on with a brand new edition tonight, at 8 pm :). In case there are people still interested :).

14 May 2007

if the bees disappeared, "man would have only four years of life left", said Einstein

The feeling of getting back in mental shape is a very pleasant feeling - just like waking up from a very long, disturbing and torturing bad dream and realising that not everything is lost.
Anyway, i spent some time today reading various research studies, some of which revealed some really interesting or thought-provoking points (such as that search engines dominate modern epistemology, and that we suck at judging the quantity of food we're eating, because we're regularly tricked by size illusions).
One of the most interesting i've read, however, is related to mobile phones and a weird effect that the latter might actually have. I mean everybody keeps on having endless discussions with no clear result about mobile phones affecting people's health one way or another. But while most such human effect-related research remains inconclusive, another very interesting (movie-like) possibility is beginning to be taken into account: mobile phones might have something to do with the mysterious 'colony collapse' of bees. The Independent article talks about the results of a small study carried out in Landau University, which shows that "bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby". These conclusions have also been supported by other researchers who think that "radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world - the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops".


13 May 2007

i'm getting boring

what my weekend contained:


All this cause i've been really sick, and thus couldn't join my friends in Sibiu Jazz fest. But next week i'm off to Bran again. Unless i break something until then.

10 May 2007

we introduce....


McCann Creative Mentorship is a program i'm very excited about. It's an open-source education experiment which invites all aspiring creatives to solve briefs given by our creative directors, get feedback, improve their skills, and make the most of their chance to prove that they belong in a creative department. The website is due May 20th, and until then we launched a blog which will have all sorts of tips and tricks, inside details, valuable resources, and hopefully some surprises. And yes, it is for real.

6 May 2007

fooling around

I have been going number and number in the last couple of weeks. Until i figure out a solution to escape this horrid, mental-blocking mood, i felt like filling my time with continuous reading, movie-watching and attending dance shows. And not only. I've also bought a bagpipe (a Romanian beginner's bagpipe, obviously) and have been trying to learn playing it ever since. Of course, actually learning how to play will take me forever, but that's irrelevant :). What i've discovered browsing the net about bagpipes, however, is Expert Village - World's Largest How To Video Site. And while i'm sure everybody knows about the site already, it was really funny and fascinating for me to browse dozens of funny video tutorials from passionate people. This actually gives you a nice, cosy feeling, that there's nothing on this world you couldn't learn how to do yourself.


2 May 2007

bran, predelut, dambovicioara




















I eventually had the break that i've been craving for for quite some time now. And instead of going to Paltinis, as i initially intended to, i accidentally ended up in Bran. The funny thing is that i thought i hated Bran, cause i felt like i knew it by heart, like it was a very visitor-crowded place and so on, but discovered something totally different from what i was expecting.

I stayed in a beautiful house far away from the madding center of Bran, in a small village called Predelut. The room had this splendid view of snowy mountains, combined with impecably green fields. I loved the air and the fresh smell of the place, the amazing silence, as well as relaxing nature sounds. I loved the farm animals playing freely all day long. And i loved to enjoy small details of nature, stare at these details for hours and focus on their simplicity and beauty. I only ate fresh traditional food and i walked for hours and hours (i also went to Piatra Craiului). It's amazing how alive i feel in such instances, how much i believe in living and in doing meaningful things, things that actually make a difference. Coming back to Bucharest was even more depressing than it usually is.