28 Dec 2016

God is in Your Corner

My last post of 2016 ties in with my customary yearly pep talk. We are slightly ahead of schedule here but it is a fitting moment as 2016 closes on yet another star shooting off the earth for the firmament of the afterlife: talented singer and songwriter Mr. George Michael.

George Michael, a star with human foibles. (Pict source)

The man who gave us a Christmas anthem that has been played on an endless loop (at least in Britain) in stores and pubs in the run-up to Christmas since its release over 30 years ago, died on Christmas day - alone. On the very day he had immortalised in a song that had office Christmas parties karaoke together, family members embrace one another and friends drunkenly hug in a festive embrace. The man whose song had brought people together, had faced the music of his own for many years now. The troubles in his personal life had made it clear that an unsatisfied yearning was burning him alive.

George died, alone. An ultimate and seemingly untimely irony played out in the seclusion of his postcard-perfect English cottage tucked away in rural Oxfordshire, a stone's throw away from the local church whose Christmas mass he religiously used to attend yearly - except for this year.

Home sweet home in Goring-On-Thames (Pict source)

Artists live out in the public eye - or within its periphery - the existential fears that keep some of us awake at night. Such fears exemplify why and how the quest for happiness shall not be found in fame and fortune for the latter exacerbate the loneliness that lies deep within us.

Artists and creators of George's calibre realise pretty early on in life that there is more to life than what is and that somehow we are living a lie, and artists cater for that lie. Artists burn because they put their heart and soul on the line, and this whether they ultimately become stars in their own right or not. Maybe there is no such thing as 'making it' when you are an artist, aside from achieving riches and fame, as you live head on with your innermost fears and unanswered questions. Maybe the key to contentment as an artist is about coming to terms with a blessing - or an illusion, depending how you look at it - realised for both the public and the artist.

The public, the fans, are there to witness the light live on or the sparkle fade because as much as we are fascinated with stars in the limelight, we are as fascinated - if not more so - when they face their human foibles (under all their guises and manifestations) head on in the limelight, and deal with them or fade away with them.

(Pict source)

Maybe the clue to George's personal demise may be found within the lyrics of his Christmas song because entertainment has ways to code in messages to those who care to hold God and highest wisdom in their hearts:

"Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special"

Above all, being a talented artist like George is to have been bestowed Godlike qualities. And when God is in your corner, you are not alone. You are on your way to the next level. Look up the sky: if you are attentive, you may see George on his next journey.

P.S: I borrowed this post title from rapper DMX's words of wisdom to troubled artist Kanye West four weeks ago:

"I want to give a special shout out to Kanye. Let him know that my prayers are with him. My family’s prayers are with him. Remind him that when God is for you, who can be against you? No one or nothing. Stand strong, brother. God is in your corner."

Frank Sinatra's open letter to 'the reluctant pop star'

10 Dec 2016

Sweet Dreams are Made of This

Traditionally the lead-up to Christmas is sugar-coated bliss. Codename indulgence. It sees confectioners, chocolatiers, pâtissiers and glaciers (*) whip up a frenzy to a feast for the eyes and the palate. In order to experience the finished article, gently shoo the words away from this page for the photos to do the talking, as an inspirational appetizer. If you are dreaming of a white Christmas, you have it here in layers and textures... Layers of whipped cream and peaks of meringue and lashings of royal icing, for the layers of wool and other fabrics are unnecessary: they may safely remain cosied up in drawers!

Calissons d'Aix by La Maison Jouvaud
Amandines by La Maison Jouvaud

The pastry industry at large is empowered at Christmas: excellence is its byword. From muted sweet nothings to the more elaborate gâteaux, excellence seeks and excellence finds! Dusting off classic recipes, resurrecting old favourites, piping a soupçon of innovation into tradition, or throwing caution to the wind in order to surpass itself within the Christmas logs department.

Dacquoise is a great starting point!
Angelina Paris is sooo jolie! (pict source from top left: 1 * 2 * 3). Montage by LBM, assisted by PicMonkey.

French Christmas logs are likely to be nipped and tucked these days, turning their ephemeral works of art into edible covet pieces of couture. Traditionally every pâtissier worth their salt (and sugar) produces a Christmas log masterpiece every Christmastime. The idea is for the log to stand out and get attention. And if it does, it will end up gracing the pages of fashion glossies and reaping accolades. Art meets the palate, fashion gets eaten up... Call it as you please. We end up with a couture collection of innovative, eccentric and even totally crazed-up edible outfits for a log! Talk about edible design unleashed... The sample below is on the conservative side, but Elle has 33 more for you to gawk at!

L'Instant Féérique by Thiriet, via Elle

(*) glaciers = ice cream makers

3 Dec 2016

A Wes Anderson Yuletide

If there is one modern film director who is able to bring Christmas magic to children and adults alike, command your attention and massage your emotion, film maestro Wes Anderson is the man of the action! Expect to be delighted!

via H&M

Swedish fast fashion brand H&M didn't go cheap for its Christmas advertising campaign. It moved away from the obvious and embraced the experiential. No tipsy petticoats or swaying cocktail dresses! Instead it geared itself up as H&M Lines, and took us - courtesy of Wes Anderson - on the train journey of a lifetime. The famed American film director took the H&M brand and accoutrement outside the box and beyond any marketer's expectations to a place of story-telling, of family-friendliness, of style and elegance that might as well showcase upmarket fashion retail and the couture brands, let me tell you! It's all about attitude and how fluid you are about positioning your brand in a highly competitive market.

via It's Nice That

Anderson's signature directorial approach brings together a vintage yet timeless timeline as a backdrop to the storyline: nostalgia without the wallow. The sweeping camera technique frames each scene in its exactitude before neatly sliding sideways or upwards/ downwards to the next scene, taking us for the ride without a bump, bathed in ambient pastel colours that remind the sweet-inclined of those special occasion chocolates dressed in robes of whipped mint creams and rosewater sugar paste. I call it 'Retro Candiland'! Adrien Brody is relishingly moody, like a silent movie actor, and the rest of the cast play their moody, restrained and instrospected selves. They unravel with the plot, shedding the wallflower and warming up, growing on us as likeable characters.


Wes Anderson is the ultimate crowd gatherer: the laid-back and the snooty, the young and the less so, the show-off and the parsimonious, the well-off and the lacking, will find themselves in his commercial, should they allow themselves to. Anderson's message resonates clearly too: the company you're in (i.e. the group of individuals) matters more than the presents, and no matter the journey, be sure to enjoy it rather than solely focus on the destination. Christmas goes beyond the one-sided retail relationship of giving and/ or receiving, it is about sharing and enjoying the special moment in togetherness!

via BBC

Trust me that this is one Christmas commercial that will not grate or ire you. It will also write another page in the grand history of brand advertising. It commands multiple viewings and makes you itchy to reach out for your closest and dearest: 'No matter what, I'll be home to you for Christmas! But if my journey takes me off a tangent, a change of direction beyond my control, I might as well make the most out of it.' The short film celebrates the vagaries of life and the little joys to be had along the way.

Meanwhile in his methodical approach, Wes Anderson doesn't lose sight of the child within. There is a little boy in the film, who so resembles Wes as his child alter ego. The little kid has every reason to cheer up as he steps into the lounge waggon. And the marveling little kid is everyone of us. Come together and keep the magic alive!

P.S: The robins are home for Christmas... or maybe not?