Thursday, June 29, 2006

bloody traffic

It's been decided. I'm going to spend a whole day on a random street in Amman, and film the traffic.

I can't believe how people drive here. Yes, there will be people who'll say "oh but you have to see the Egyptian/Lebanese/(fill-in-the-blank-with-country-of-choice) driving, Jordan is nothing compared to them..." Well you know what? I live in Jordan, and I'm sick of the driving antics here, if you're ok with it then skip this post!

Idiots who think they'll reach their destination if they just can get in front of you in a traffic jam.... schmucks who believe that they can still make it in the second the traffic lights turn red - and of course yell their hearts out & honk their horns if you actually slow down when the lights turn orange or don't speed off the milli-second they turn green. The list of idiocity goes on and on and on and on and on. What's even more frustrating, is that it happens in front of the law. People are not even scared! Well why should they? It's not that anybody is going to stop them or give them a ticket.

It is so damn frustrating. And all this, before the town is engulfed by drivers from the Gulf -who in my (and hundreds alike's) opinion are the worst imports on four wheels a town can get.

Somebody should seriously consider filming these maniac drivers, edit the footage and either make a bloody short film about it (which is the new "cool" hype that's sweeping the country -but that's another topic) and show it in 'Mish Saheb Aflam' on JTV or just send the tape to any 'funniest home video' show so the world can laugh at us.

Laughter. That's the only solution to this. Laugh, nod your head, let the idiot that's squeezing you from the left pass, apologize to the airhead behind you who's blowing her horn like mad because you slowed her down, forgive the taxi that suddenly decides to stop in front of you in the middle of the road to drop/or get a passenger, go home, take another dose of sedatives, and jump back into your car for another exciting episode of....

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Meet the World"

The EPICA awards showcase the best in European advertising. I showed my students the whole set of winners from last year, some are creative in concept and simple in design, others are simple and straight forward concepts with intricate and visually impressive designs. The over-all print winner of last year was a Grande Reportagem a Portuguese news magazine. From EPICA:

"The creative challenge of the campaign was to reaffirm the magazine’s unchanged commitment to serious journalism by focusing on topics that are important for people’s understanding of the world today.

This led the creative team to the concept “Meet the world” and to the idea of using flags of different nations as vehicles to transmit it. In each case, the colours that appear on various national flags were usedsymbolizelise a social or political issue that is specific to the country in question."

These are truly amazing ads, basic facts and statistics are transformed into heart-renching statements. Nobody can deny the power of these messages, and not respect the magazine/design agency for its bold approach. I just wish that instead of being used to promote a magazine, this concept would've been used for a more just cause like UNICEF, UN or Amnesty International.

The simplicity and power of these ads show that the strongest of ideas needn't have the most complex visuals or tons of text (Jordanain ad agencies take note).

Let's analyze the reasons for the success of this campaign:

1. Facts. Facts always hit hard, much more than sweet talking and trying hard to convince people with prolonged prologues.

2. People tend to remember short sentences like facts or rhyming slogans more than paragraphs of text, and therefore statistics like these will stick i
n peoples heads and will have them talking about them and discussing them.

3. Recognized visuals immediately create a sense of familiarity (be it negative or positive), and will make people read furth
er on. Associating the colors of these visuals with facts strengthened the visuals even more and got the points across more boldly.

4. The Meticulous selection of the facts and statistics' criterias is also very successful. Disease, Children, Poverty and Ignorance are some of the topics that people can most relate-to or show genuine sympathy towards. Guns, Politics and Non-
Human facts (like accidents or natural disasters) do not have the same strength in moving people's ...

5. Emotions. In serious ads with global messages, targeting people's emotions before their brains is essential. We all know the "think with your head and feel with your heart" saying. Well going against that works even more. Thinking with your heart and understanding the true meanings behind these facts will cause the brain to feel anger, rage, injustice...etc in a stronger way, and can cause it to want to take immediate and strong action. Powerful stuff!

Here are the ads for your comments:

My only design comment on these ads would be that the red tag could have been either moved more to the right, or aligned left with the text of the statistics, because its non-alignment with anything is visually disturbing (especially in the ads which have the least amount of text such as the Angola & USA ones).

Tori Amos

Mr. Tea
announced: "I'm a huge Tori Amos fan". "But who isn't?" added the Lemonades...

I too, am a huge Tori fan, and have been creating wallpapers using her images and song quotes for a great Tori forum that I'm a member in, and I decided to post them here as well. Why you might ask? Because I can, would be my reply!

click on the thumbnails to see the full size wallpaper

Hope you'll like
'em. And if you're not familiar with her work I recommend you checking her out ;) Want suggestions? leave a comment!

Sunday, June 25, 2006


We discussed this today, and I totally believe that they should shut DownTown to cars. They should invest in a HUUUUUGE parking lot right before Al Balad, and then get special busses to keep going round and round for a small fee. Let's break it down:

1. No more parking tickets to those who own cars.
2. No more driving round and round to find a place to park, and even once you do find a place you're faced with a parking ticket, so see No. 1 above.
3. Everybody can afford to use buses
4. It's time we learn to use them since apparently we're all "too high and mighty to use public transport".
5. Help the environment by using our cars a bit less.
"but busses pollute the air even more in Amman, my Lemonades!" exclaimed Mr. Tea.
6. Would be great for tourists to see DownTown in a tour-bus format.
7. Same thing goes for locals who've never set foot there!

1. Will never happen.
2. Nobody would fund such a project.
3. People will starve if nobody will get a parking ticket DownTown!! (ha ha)
4. Bus drivers will have to learn how to drive busses if there'll be tourists (who can sue) on board! (maybe this should be a Pro?!?)
5. Will NEVER happen.

oh well :p

"Is it buSes or buSSes, Mr. Tea?" wondered the Lemonades. "My dear Lemonades, this is one of the many wonders of the English language, both spellings are correct, and that's why I decided to use both to be fair." replied Mr. Tea, to the Lemonades apparent approval.

"Lunch with us, Mr. Tea?" asked the Faithful Flowerers. "Why yes of course my lovely Ladies, I'm honored you asked" he replied politely, "but what about my Lemonades? Can they come as well?". "You are one, and one you are. One can't come without the other, we assure you, Me. Tea, so there's no need to ask." added the FFs...

I teach Graphic Design and New Media at the University of Jordan, one of my best students happens to be a well-known star in the Jordanian BlogSociety, Roba Al-Assi. We discussed this blog today, and I fear that she's going to visit this space any time soon. We discussed many a good topic today at lunch with her fellow faithful students, and many would be good blog topics. But alas I had soo much Italian food that I can't remember any until I digested the delicious evils!

But I did decide that I'll take advantage of this space to spread some of my design knowledge. There are a lot of amateur designers out there who might benefit from my comments, and I know that some of my kiddies at Uni have forgotten most, so it'll be a reminder to them!

"pass the Tiramisu" said Mr. Tea, obviously four plates-full weren't enough!

Friday, June 23, 2006


I'm a HUGE Disney fan (I challenge anybody to find a bigger fan than moi in Jordan!) and I love all the Pixar movies too. I was literally jumping up and down when I learned that Disney bought Pixar! Merger of the greats!

"the world will be a great place now, Mr. Tea" said the Lemonades, enthusiastically. "I hope so, my Lemonades" replied Mr. Tea, "It all lies in the hands -or should I say wheels- of their Cars now" he added.

No other Disney/Pixar movie got more mixed reviews, but I wonder, are the negative reviews for the actual movie? Or are those people just bitter that Disney now has a great chance to get back on top of the animation game, now that they own Pixar, who everybody admits to be the greatest animation studio of the past few decades?

I love to read reviews, even if they're negative. They never put me off a movie, on the contrary, they entice me to watch the film even more! 'Cars' of course, was no different. In fact being a D&P movie, I was going to watch it anyway, but the reviews made me more looking forward to seeing it.

So now that I've watched it, what do I think? Well the thing I'm most happy about is that it's like nothing I expected! I knew it would be a good & entertaining story, and I knew that it would have amazing visuals and animation (and BOY DOES IT! In one word: breathtaking!) but I was not sure that I personally would like it. See I'm not a big fan of cars, and however cute the 'Cars' characters looked in the posters, I was still skeptical that I would find it not very engaging or fun. And the movie (thankfully) proved me wrong.

'Cars' doesn't have a real story -I won't go into the plot, as the synopsis of the movie is all over the net- and by real story I mean a big plot with villains and heroes, save-the-day kind of story. It's no Nemo or Incredibles either, no edge-of-your-seat moments, no laugh-out-loud moments, no "the most amazing movie/animation I've seen" feeling.

But what it has -and truly separates it from the rest- is HEART. Imagine sitting in the sun (a very warm sun, that's not too bright, just perfect), sipping a honey sweetened lemon ice-tea, a soft cool breeze sweeping through your hair, and watching a beautiful calming scenery (swimming pool, meadows, the beach.... anything you like), and you have that nice happy warm feeling inside. That's what I felt like after watching 'Cars'!

Call me cheesy or sappy, but this is one of those rare movies where you end up genuinely loving all the characters and wishing that each was given more screen time! This is one Disney movie that I would love to see a sequel for, or maybe just an extended 'director's cut' version.

It also has a nice message in it (albeit not very original and some might argue, over used) about simple rural life versus hectic city life. I just wish that they worked on the plot a bit more, gave it depth or a true message, 'Cars' truly lacks in that department. It's probably the first Pixar movie in which I felt like the story was a draft and not a final perfected one... it just wasn't very satisfying.

All in all, it is a lovely movie, even if it will not break any records, or become a classic (like the Lion King or even the Incredibles), it will not disappoint as long as we don't compare it to other movies and try to appreciate it for what it is and not for who it's done by or what the figures and reviews say about it.

Now that 'Cars' is here, everybody's waiting for the next Disney/Pixar production: 'Ratatouille'! The teaser trailer debuted with 'Cars' and it looks like they've got another winner on their hands! Check out the trailer here!

Also Disney's solo 3D effort, coming this Winter, 'Meet the Robinsons'.

So, first post... What to say? What's the purpose of this whole thing? Why am I even bothering to create a blog in the first place?

Do I feel old and seeing kids using blogs instead of old fashioned diaries and sharing their thoughts with the world is making me feel even older? I don't think I'm old, but I am finding it difficult to keep up with the speedy advances of technology; I don't know what to follow or learn or get into - and I'm not really liking that. Have these kids motivated me to start my own online journal? Time will tell if this is just a phase or if I'll actually end up using this blog for real.

Let's just hope this won't end up like the hundreds of blogs out there trying to sound clever and original!

"Good luck Mr. Tea in your Adventures!", cheered the Lemonades.