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Showing posts from December, 2017


One year, a long time ago now, probably around 2012 or '13, I went to a Christmas Day lunch that was something out of a decor magazine, or maybe a foodie magazine. It was a perfect day and long outdoor tables stretched out beneath the dappled shade of some gently swaying trees, and were covered in expensive Christmas-themed paper, with tapered candles, quality cutlery and delicate long-stemmed glassware. It was midday. Fairy lights twinkled from the trees like electric snow. Soft Christmas music drifted across the scene from some obscured speaker. Drinks came first, just to get the appetite going, and were served by a natural pool. ('By' meaning next to.) Occasional tables were scattered about the setting and bore platters of savouries that kept you from starving before the turkey came out. There was only one small problem. Clouds were threatening. If it were to start raining, the entire scene, as big as a movie set, would have to be moved inside. The hosts kept coming

The New Advertising Breakthrough. Scene Four: The Second Client.

Craven has tried to convince the creative team that two clients in one ad is a good idea . He has asked them to adapt their Buffalo Finance concept to accommodate a second client, and the creative team are nervously waiting to find out which client they have to work into their concept. GUY: Who's the second client, Craven? Or haven't you lined one up yet? CRAVEN: Yes, I have spoken to another major advertiser who is happy to share a spot with Buffalo Finance. ROB: Let me guess: Fenestre Investments? Financing your next investment with Buffalo would work. CRAVEN: No, it's not them. GUY: The new Sniper launch? Cars and finance are always a good mix. CRAVEN: No. GUY: What about Orange Residential Development Corp? CRAVEN: No. ROB: Is it Upton Furnishings? CRAVEN: No. GUY: Well who the fuck is it then? CRAVEN PAUSES FOR DRAMATIC EFFECT, THEN ANSWERS DEADPAN: Snail-Go. GUY & ROB TOGETHER: Whaaat???? CRAVEN (STILL DEADPAN): Snail-Go. Plus I'

Cannelloni stuffed with two cheeses and spinach.

Cannelloni from scratch? Couldn't be easier, as long as you have a piping bag. Fry half an onion until translucent. Boil and drain 50g frozen spinach. Add 500g fresh ricotta, 70g of parmesan cheese, the drained spinach and a tablespoon of butter to the cooked onion. Stir to combine over low heat for about a minute. Make besciamella: melt 60g butter in a pot, add 60g flour, a dash of nutmeg and 500ml heated milk (don't boil) and mix to blend until flour is absorbed. Make tomato sauce: fry half an onion, add a jar of passata and a third volume again of water, add some finely chopped fresh basil and parsley, a shake of salt and a teaspoon of sugar. Simmer to reduce slightly. Pipe cheese mixture into instant cannelloni tubes. You cannot force it in with a spoon, by suction, by gravity or any other way. I found out the hard way and then I went out and bought a pack of disposable piping bags for a couple of dollars at Mediterranean Wholesalers*. Line a baking dish with a

The New Advertising Breakthrough. Scene Three: Buffalo Finance agrees to take part.

Craven is trying to convince the creative team that his radical plan to change the face of advertising will work. He even has some clients in mind who, he says, are prepared to share a spot in order to reduce the cost of television advertising. GUY: Instead of jamming two clients in one thirty second spot, you could just run a fifteen second spot for each client, Craven. Have you thought of that? CRAVEN: Well you could, of course, Guy; but then you also have the possibility of placing two clients in each fifteen-second spot as well. Bear in mind the production cost savings. Two clients, one production. Plus, we can charge each client more than half the production cost so we make extra there as well. Moreover, we feel that the longer on-screen exposure will more than compensate for the fact that two clients are sharing the time. ROB: It's still nuts, Craven. PAUSE And you're a crook if you're using it to expand the margins. CRAVEN: Crap, Rob. It's called mak

The Man Who Invented the Sentimental Novel.

On an unseasonally hot day in October 1965, I was taken to see a movie at the Paris Cinema in Bourke Street, Melbourne. In the film, The Sound of Music , Christopher Plummer played Captain von Trapp, and was later scathing about the movie. Last week I saw Plummer play Ebenezer Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas , this time at Village Airport West, which was a field of thistle with Vickers Viscounts flying over it in 1965. Right now is the time of year when Christmas-themed movies hit the cinemas, but The Man Who Invented Christmas is not really about Christmas. It is about Charles Dickens' struggle to write a book following two 'failures' after several hits. It should have been titled Famous Novelist Suffers Writer's Block for 104 Gripping Minutes , but that would not have helped box office sales. Dickens is struggling to pay the bills, his agent is getting nervous, he is continually interrupted by family members, and his destitute father comes to stay. Th

The New Advertising Breakthrough. Scene Two: Craven's TV audience rant.

Craven, the account man at advertising agency Blake Browning Burns, has been working in secret with the strategy planners to develop a new concept in advertising - two clients sharing one television commercial. He is briefing the creative team in the small meeting room known as 'The Cupboard'. The creative team are not impressed and, after June the tea lady interrupts, the argument resumes. Language warning. GUY: That is fucking INSANE, Craven. ROB: Totally nuts. It can't work. GUY: That's the stupidest idea I've heard since ... your last stupid idea. ROB: For example, the clients would fight over owning the end frame. GUY: Yeah. And whose typeface would you use? ROB: And what about logos? CRAVEN: Pfffffft! Minor details, guys. We have huge fights about all that shit now. An extra client in the ad isn't going to make a huge difference. GUY: Apart from that, where are you going to find two clients who want to go into one commercial? CRAVEN (

"What's that you're listening to?"

I pulled the EP record out of its cardboard sleeve, put it on the mono turntable and lowered the needle on to the record. It hissed and crackled (the needle was worn) and then a piano introduced the song. In the next room the adults' conversation (God knows what they were talking about) slowly dried up. Someone dropped a tea cup. The parish priest was visiting and they were having afternoon tea. Let's spend the night together, now I need you more than ever. ... I'll satisfy your every need. Now I know you satisfy me ... It was 1967. I was ten. A couple of years later I put an LP album on the turntable. It was a stereo now, a speaker either side connected by wires. Lay lady lay ... lay across my big brass bed ... Again, the adults in the next room turned purple, metaphorically. "What are you listening to?" the adults asked me, somewhat superfluously. I didn't answer such a stupid question, I just held up the cover. It had a smiling man holding a

Grocery items 'curated': retailer admits museum status.

The Herald Sun reports on the changing nature of food retailing , in which RMIT marketing expert Con Stavros utters this gem of wisdom: "Food, in general, has become much more of an experience." More than what? He doesn't say. Meanwhile, floundering dinosaur retailer David Jones spokesman Pieter De Wet puts the following hilarious spin on having a product range of only 6,000 items compared to the average supermarket's 25,000: "If you go to a normal grocery store, you have to go through 25,000 products," he said. "We’ve got a curated collection of about 6000 products. We've chosen the best for our customers knowing what they like and expect. It's a quarter of the number of choices you have to make, we've done all the work for you."

Big tin soldiers.

I thought it was a dream, because I hadn't seen a mahogany staircase in a restaurant for twenty years, or maybe I just hadn't been to one. The staircase led up into complete darkness, until my eyes got used to it. I reached a landing, turned and kept going. At the top of the stairs it was still dark enough to trip over the brass strips at the edges of the axminster that led into the vast room. The carpet seemed to have tones of burgundy and deep violet, but who could tell in that light? It looked like the cover of The Zombies 1968 psychedelic album ' Odessey and Oracle ', but it might have been forest green. I looked around. Inset into the north and west walls of the room were four giant tin soldiers, standing sentinel like armour suits in a medieval castle. I thought I had stumbled into a Victorian-era children's nursery at midnight, and had shrunk. The east wall was in almost full darkness, but voices and the flash of light on glass gave it away as a bar. Figures