Thursday, January 22, 2009

current obsession-Man from UNCLE

As a child I rememebr my father watching a tv show called in Spanish "El Agente de CIPOL". I recall seeing it but not really understanding what was going on. I must have been four or five years old then. Years later I learned the real name of the show "The Man from UNCLE".

And a couple of weeks ago I began watching it thanks to Netflix. I have watched a few episodes and I love it. The thing is I have always loved the whole look and feel of the 1960's. The hipness. The attitude. Even the whole political incorrectness of the era. And nothing embodies this quite like this show.

There's the obvious Cold War mentality. But instead of the Soviets the bad guys was an international organization called THRUSH. The were all over the world, always ready to create mayhem through terror. Sound familiar?

Then there are the women. There is something so cool about the look of women in the 1960's. They were not model thin women, but women with curves. No fake boobs. They wanted to go-go dance. And they were so damn sexy.

And last, there's this totally incorrect barter between men and women at work. Today all of them would be thrown in jail for sexual harrasment.

And everyone smokes.

I can't wait to get more episodes in the mailbox. Hell, I may even buy the set.


It's interesting that most of the time the moments one treasures are the ones that just happen by chance. The ones you never figure will even happen. And today I decided to write about one of them. Who knows? If I like the result I may even extend it to a series of essays.

When one sits down in a plane, one always wonders who will sit next to you. Will the person be quiet, will he or she talk and be incredibly obnoxious? Well, this happened to me almost 20 years ago on a flight from Madrid to San Juan. That particular flight left at 3am from Madrid. I was tired and sleepy when I sat down, hoping to get a bite and just doze off. That was all I wanted.

Suddenly next to me sat a young woman. She smiled, It's hard for me to explain how beautiful she was. Not in fashion model sense, simply in a down to earth kind of way. The thing was that we started talking. About what we did. She was finishing her studies and was going back to Peru for some days off. And one thing led to another and we ended up talking about life, fate, love, dreams. I had never felt so comfortable talking to a complete stranger. Maybe because we were strangers and would never see each other again, we felt such a willingness to talk freely. And we did for hours. In retrospect, those hours seem like mere minutes. It was the fastest 8 hour flight in my life.

And then we landed in San Juan. She stayed on the plane since she was continuing on to Peru. We said goodbye. No mail exchanges. No phone numbers. We would never get in touch again. It was just two strangers who met in a flight and talked. And yet here I am 20 years later thinking about it. And wondering if things could have been different.

And yet one can't help realize that today we could have kept in touch via e-mail. Skype. But that was so long ago in a world in which friends would vanish, in which it was so hard to keep in touch. When someone talks to me about the dangers of new technology, I nod, smile and think of that woman in the plane and of the difference a simple e-mail address could have made.

photos on a Monday

Friday, January 16, 2009

works in progress

As someone who works on the creative side of advertising, I have always find it fascinating to see the creative process at work. How one begins work on something and how it evolves until one reaches the "final work". Sometimes the first draft ends up becoming the final version. Or sometimes it is just a small step in a huge process.

I am writing this because in the last few days I have been listening to The Beatles "Anthology" and to Cat Stevens "Teaser and the Firecat" deluxe CD. They both feature demo tapes of their popular songs. And I find it so interesting to see how a song changed from demo to final version. The lyrics that were changed, the different beat, how the singing and interpretation varied. Sometimes the demo tape has an immediacy that was lost in the final version. But, most of the time, the final version has something that makes one realize that it is "final". The first draft may have had some rawness that made it interesting, but one can see (and hear) so much more in the final version.

Which brings me to my profession and the fact that it seems that in my advertising career I have only had time to do first drafts. I have never been able to think about a project and be able to correct mistakes, to do the little things here and there that transform something into a special project. So I have never had a really great commercial. Just a bunch of OK ones and lots of "might have beens"

Maybe It's time to realize that I will never be able to do that in the advertising world and that I should look for that in some other creative area.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

photos on a Monday

The other day someone I know who does a bit of modeling and tv work asked me to take some photos for her portfolio. She learned that I have been doing a bit of phototaking and was wondering whether I could help her. And I did. And it was a lot of fun. We took some portraits and then went to the beach for most photos. We came up with some interesting shots, we improvised, laughed, made fun of some of the poses. But the result was creatively fullfilling and well, we came up with some good photos.

I guess that, in a way, after so many years in advertising, I needed some new means of expression. And maybe I have found it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Local Hero in HD

The other day HD Net showed my favorite movie of all time, "Local Hero". Even though I have seen it quite a few times, it was magical to see it in high definition. Especially since the movie is set in Scotland and seeing that scenery so sharp and crisp added a whole new dimension it. But the reason I love it remains the same. The low key humor, the music. The fact that it is a movie that consists of so many wonderful scenes. There are no big scenes in the movie just small ones that add up to something special. Just like in real life.

Oh...and it features the most wonderful, magical, sweet, touching last scene of any movie I have seen in my life. It invariably brings a smile, goosebumps and a small tear of happiness. No other movie has done that to me.

Oh, and it makes me feel good about life.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Tomorrow I begin a new job. Part of me is excited, part of me afraid, part of me says "It will be great", another says "Don't put too much hope on it". But, here I go.

How Green was My Valley

When I was a boy, my grandmother would sometimes mention "How Green was My Valley" as a movie she loved. And I always wondered why. Well, the other day I saw this movie again and maybe realized why. This is a basically a movie about family. A family of miners in a Welsh village. They go through many problems, facing them bravely. And at the center of the movie is the character of the mother, trying desperately to keep the family together against all odds. And that's what made me stop and think. Because I remember that when family feuds would erupt, she was always trying so hard to keep everyone together through it all. Even if it meant admitting she was wrong, when she wasn't. Sometimes she was successful, but sometimes she was not. And when she was not, you would notice the pain in her.

So I watched this movie again, not as "the movie that beat 'Citizen Kane' at the Oscars, but as a work of art that touched the heart of someone close to me. And it moved me beyond words.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

"You like this song too?"

There was a time in which if one visited a someone's home for the first time one would inevitably look at his or her record collection and try to figure out something about that person through their taste in music. Did you share any music in common? Did you find their taste interesting, intriguing, boring, scary? And wasn't it great when suddenly while browsing one saw that you owned an album in common? It was an instant conversation starter. There was an instant bonding becauseof simply liking the same music. It was a wonderful to be able to have those moments.

Now with music confined to an MP3 player a person's taste in music is not out there for all to see. Music is a more private matter now. No more "Wow you like 'Tea for the Tillerman' too? Great. Mind if I play it"? . Through technology we have gained access to every song in the world, but we semm to have lost some access to each other.