Pseuds Corner: The language of perfume

Back in 2007 I commented on the pretentious language of wine reviewers with their overblown phrases such as ‘dried cherry, pebbles and black tea aromas’ and ‘roasted red cherry, warm oak to round the edges’.

I’ve now discovered a topic even more worthy of inclusion in Private Eye’s Pseuds Corner — the language of perfumiers.

BibliothequeThe Weekend FT Fashion pages list a half dozen new fragrances for Spring. The reviewer shares that the Jo Malone’s Whisky and Cedarwood cologne “is part of a collection of five fragrances that evoke a lily pond at dawn, linseed oil, and waxed wood floors.” Flower by Kenzo, Eau de Lumière eau de toilette “is aimed at capturing the sensation of light” while Byredo’s Bibliothèque eau de parfum “suggests a traditional library”. Herbe PerfumeNot to be outdone, Hermès Eau des Merveilles Bleue eau de toilette “bottles the spirit of childhood summers and the escapism of the ocean” and Atelier Bloem’s 1614 eau de parfum “replicates the olfactory experience of Amsterdam’s floating flower market”.

Quite how the specificity of these descriptions is beyond comprehension. Does anyone know what a lily pond smells like a dawn, versus mid-day or dusk? Do all traditional libraries smell the same? Was everyone’s childhood summer spent escaping on the ocean, and does Amerstandm’s floating flower market not have notes of diesel from the barges mingled with the blossoms?

VIDEO: Creative challenges for the Holidays

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy Holiday with the sincere wish that clients or managers at work don’t try your patience in the ways shown in these two hilarious videos.

Do either of these creative challenges resonate with you?

Viewpoint Creative – Holiday Card from Viewpoint Creative on Vimeo.

Unleash your imagination: watch creative videos

Executive communications professionals increasingly work with video. They range from simple Flip videos which tell winning stories to full-blown studio productions with panel discussions, remote participation via TelePresence and pre-recorded transition or interstitial segments.

The challenge is to not only to research, script, edit and produce the content, but to do so in as creative a way as possible — capturing those lean forward moments when the video engages viewers emotionally and connects with the audience.

I’ve recently started watching high-quality creative video in order to see the outer limits of what’s possible onscreen. It’s fascinating to see what others have done. Corporate video won’t ever look anything like this, but watching these videos unleashes my imagination. What’s more, I find that creative videos approach storytelling from a totally different perspective from that which I’m used to. Because storytelling is such a key skill in transmitting information, the more we learn how to tell stories creatively, the better we’ll become as communicators.

Here’s three creative videos I’ve enjoyed recently.

OK Go – This Too Shall Pass

This video has been seen by 24 million people on YouTube. It’s infused with a Merry Prankster, anarchic geek spirit:

Watch it a second time and you realize the smashed television sets piled against the wall and paint-splattered overalls indicate a number of rehearsals — nothing this good would have been created in one pass. Now, you might not get away with with lining up four VP’s against a wall and shooting paintballs at them; but people won’t forget variations on Rube Goldberg-like routines if you had the courage to work them into the CEO’s next keynote. Talk your product demo guys into a pinball triggering a golf club that knocks a baseball down a ramp and presses the on button that starts the demo (that lives in the house that Jack built.)

Metronomy – She Wants

This is a music video from Metronomy, an electonica /pop band from the UK. But it’s not just any music video. It creates the surrealistic atmosphere of the dream state in hypnotic detail. An homage to Buñuel, the video is the work of French directors Jul & Mat who have a movie called The Science of Sleep, which I’ve not seen, but is apparently filled with dream sequences:

METRONOMY – She Wants – by JUL & MAT from JUL & MAT on Vimeo.

I loved contrast between the dreamer and the dreamed (your executive and her staff?) and the sequence where she rotates through 360 degrees as does the camera (with stage hands dressed in black supporting her). From the moment she leaves her bed, with feathers flying in reverse motion, to the point at which she loses her dance partner at 3:28, the story-line builds. When the party-goers collapse the scenes unravel, the characters she met betray her, and the alter-ego she pushed down pushes back. A graphical a representation of the business cycle as you’ll ever see.

Just the thing to try and pull off for your next All Hands video, as long as Mary in Accounting doesn’t blink when the camera pans across.

London Time Lapse from Brick Lane to Primrose Hill

I was impressed by Anatoleya’s video taken on a Flip Ultra HD (with image stabilization software included). Speeding up the frame rate in the editing phase creates an engaging stop motion effect of a walk through this London street market:

London Time Lapse from Brick Lane to Primrose Hill from Anatoleya on Vimeo.

I can’t wait to use this effect for the opening sequence at a corporate conference – shooting the room as it fills with people.

Or how about the cafeteria from 11:45 – 1:15? But everyone already eats their lunch too fast. It might be amusing to make one video in a company cafeteria in Europe, one in Asia, one in the USA and play “spot the cultural differences”.

Or how about a stop motion video in the lobby from 6:00 am – 9:00 am
… or one corner of a sea of cubicles
… or a call center
… or one person at their desk for a couple of hours
… or technicians installing a new rack in a data center
… or the janitors at the end of the day, moving from floor to floor.

Stephen Fry’s amusing rant on language pedants

Interview: NSA Convention – Dressed Up Cat Bags

Dressed Up Cat HandbagsContinuing my investigation of the NSA Vendor fair I talked with Tracy Penwell who sells handbags under the name Dressed Up Cat.

Her one-of-a-kind bags are created from “found” bags & objects. The bags are all made from recycled components, Penwell says, and in 2008, she was a finalist for “Best Green Handbag” in the Independent Handbag Designers Awards. She was also a 2008 nominee for the People’s Choice Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

To hear what she had to tell me about her bags, and why professional speakers are a good market for her, click on the podcast icon below.

Interview: NSA Convention – Illusion Jewelry

NSA Exhibit Area

As with many large conventions, the National Speakers Association gathering has an exhibit area where vendors sell everything from self-publishing solutions to, well, handbags and jewelry.

Speakers have to look good on stage and off.

I took the opportunity to ask a couple of the vendors about the goods they sell and why they come to exhibit at NSA.

Illusion Jewlry

Illusion JewelryPatricia Carbeery has been working with glass for over 25 years.

She finds working with hot glass is very direct and immediate—the ever changing rainbow of color and light while working with dichroic, metals, powders, as well as the glass, continues to fascinate.

She creates her own beads using the ancient technique of lampworking. To make each bead, she melts glass in an oxygen propane flame at temperatures in exces of 2000° F. She then anneal the beads in a kiln for five hours or more. All her designs are unique—incorporting her handmade lampworked beads, Swarovski crystals, silver from Bali, and freshwater pearls.

Her work can be found at The Phoenix Art Museum and The Bead Museum in Glendale, as well as several fine stores.

To hear what Patricia told me about her jewelry, click on the podcast icon below.

National Speakers Northern California Chapter Fun n’ Games

End of Year Party

The NSA/NC year ended on May 2nd with a final day-long meeting at the Sheraton Burlingame.

I handed over the gavel to our new president Karen Walker-Tunoa who had arranged with singer/comedian Lauren Mayer to toast me in song with a tribute to everything from my knowledge of social media to my love of Marmite, Science Fiction novels and Bob Dylan songs.

They also expressed their appreciation for the theme Telling It Like It Is and the new theme Shake it Up.

Take a look.

Heinz 57 – variety is the spice of life

Heinz 57

Continuing the tradition began three years ago and the year after, I can reveal that in the past 365 days I have, surprise, become another year older.

I fully embrace the transparency senior executives and politicians tolerate in regard to their age and biographical details. These days it’s only the plebs who have no online identity where anyone who is interested can find out your age, marital status and similar ‘private’ data points. As Sun Chairman Scott McNealy once remarked “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”

I’ve now reached the age where 57 years of variety is the spice of life. It’s not only policemen who look younger, suddenly President’s do. As my Irish father-in-law once remarked, you’re not really old until the Pope is younger than you are.

Why Dr. Johnson would never blog

Buried in Lewis Jones’ wonderful review of books about Samuel Johnson in the Weekend Financial Times is clear evidence that the 18th-century man of letters, author of the Dictionary of the English Language and subject of Boswell’s Biography, would, were he alive today, never blog:

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

Johnson – flatulent; scrofulous; half-blind; half-deaf; overwhelmed with dejection and gloom; yearning for the “Fetters and Padlocks” which his mistress deployed – wrote to avoid the debtors prison. Solid advice for all writers in today’s economy. Blogging is, perhaps, for blockheads.

JetBlue Pillows: You snooze, you lose

Flying back from an exhausting few days at the National Speakers Convention in New York on Tuesday I was looking forward to catching up on my sleep with a few hours rest in the window seat of JetBlue Flight 95 from JFK to Oakland.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the New York Times that morning to read that the “Happy Jetting” airline had decided to charge customers $7 for pillows and blankets.

Exhausted and intrigued, I decided to hand over my credit card (no cash accepted by the cabin crew) and see what money can buy at 36,000′ these days.

A lot less than I expected.

JetBlue PillowThe pillow and blanket came in a sealed plastic sack which also contained a $5 voucher for Bed, Bath & Beyond. So the net cost is $2 if you remember to cash in the coupon.

The package was branded as a CleanRest by MicronOne and promised “The World’s Cleanest Pillow”. Gary Goldberg the founder of CleanRest tells us on the insert provided with the pillow that “my wife’s vigilance in building the healthiest possible environment for our kids led me to take action … to create a clean, safe, sleep environment for our kids.” Hopefully the Goldberg’s keep their kids off airplanes where recycled air carries far more germs than are ever found in a pillow.

Anyway, the pillow was not worth the money. It’s tiny (10×12) – and does not bridge the gap between the seat-back and the wall which is the main way someone sitting in a window seat can make themselves comfortable.

Obviously, airlines are suffering from high fuel prices. They don’t seem able to raise fares to cover the added cost of flying, so they are reverting to charges for items which they used to provide gratis. One wonders where it will all end. How about a nickel a sheet for loo paper?