Happy Halloween!

Mwahahahahaha…

Onwards #halloween

Sorry to scare you but I genuinely want to help you guys out!

This year, I went as a hipster werewolf victim post-attack and mid-transformation.

Let's do this.  #halloween

Why? WHY NOT!

How? Ok, that’s a better question.

RAAAARGH

First off, I had an old white jacket and an old pair of white trousers that aren’t part of a suit but do go together. Collectively I’ve worn them about three times over the course of six years. So I hacked those up with a pair of scissors. Next up, the feet and the hands were left over from THIS COSTUME (amazing, I know) from last year.

And then I sought out these additional items:

Contact lenses: £10
Moulded werewolf teeth: £7
Make up set from Charles H. Fox* in Covent Garden: £24
Everyone’s reaction at the party: PRICELESS.

(Sorry, had to)

As many of my friends will tell you, I take my fancy dress pretty darn seriously. Planning is everything. But that aside, whatever you’re getting up to this Halloween**, have an awesome time.

RAAARGH!!!

IMAG0091

*Does not include the three months of theatrical make up training I completed in my youth.

**Amazingly, I’m not actually out on the 31st this year. My party was at the weekened. Instead I’m off to see THOR: THE DARK WORLD with some friends. Expect a review shortly after…

BONUS TIPS: Go check out YouTube user ‘Kickine‘, I follow her on Instagram (same name) and the stuff she’s been doing all week is AWESOME (and of course there’s how to videos on her  channel)

Where’s James?

It’s been a bit quiet around here lately –

S'up :)

1. I got busy. 
It happens. Between work (more on that shortly), organising and speaking at events, and generally a whole bunch of other stuff; life has been a bit hectic. As I said, it happens.

2. No more blogging projects (for the time being at least).
Well, Five things on Friday came to an end, which meant no more enforced blogging, which in turn took my brain out of the habit of writing [here]. Trimming is still on-going, but what with the whole Google Reader thing, I’m loathe to dive into them at the moment.

3. Podcasting.
The Voicemail is where you can find my mobile rantings, in audio format obviously. My co-host is back from his travels now and we’re about to get back into the swing of things. A good time to subscribe, I’d say.

4. Other blogging.
I mentioned getting busy; we relaunched the Ogilvy Soho Square blog (oh yeah, I don’t work in PR anymore, I should write something about that) which, at the time of posting, is 100% my own domain, just while I get it off the ground and cajole a few members of the team into taking part. There are a few posts up already, some silly, some not. If you’re into social media and the latest thinking (of mine) around it, then I suggest you add Soho Square to your reading list too. Follow us on Twitter for when we publish…

Oh, and on a personal note, I’m messing about on Tumblr these days too.

5. What of My Happy Place? 
All of the above means that blogging here is coming last on the list (again, for the time being), but I’ve got a couple of things coming down the pipeline – including my first ever GUEST POST from the one and only Bizhan Govindji.

Amazing, I know.
Here’s a question for you, what’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?

 

That time I was in SPAMALOT!

Starring as ‘Sir Not Appearing’

Sir Not Appearing!

[click to embiggen]

This past week, thanks to a rather awesome Christmas present from the girlfriend, I was given the chance to appear in a cameo role in the current West End run of Monty Python’s SPAMALOT!

AND.

IT.

WAS.

AWESOME.

Looking back on it now, a good four days later, I still can’t believe it happened! It’s difficult to communicate (using just the written word) how great the whole thing really was. So it’s a good job I took a load of pictures to help me tell the story!

Part 1. Arriving at the Stage Door
The crew greeted us warmly, and were just super super nice about EVERYTHING. ‘Hey! James is here!’ – ‘Is that the Sir Not Appearing?’ – ‘Yeah!’ – ‘Hey everyone! Our Sir Not Appearing is here!’

I turned up with literally zero knowledge of what I was going to be doing or what my line was (didn’t I mention? It was a speaking part too!) as I was kept in the dark right up until arrival. So this whole ‘Sir Not Appearing’ thing? I had no idea what they meant…

The stage manager met us and explained everything:

There’s a part in the play, around two thirds through the first act, when the narrator, after King Arthur has rounded up his men, reads through the names of the Knights of the Round Table… and the last name he reads is ‘the aptly named ‘Sir-not-appearing-in-this-play’. You come on at that point, you say ‘Sorry!’ and then you leave. Easy! Don’t worry, we’ll be rehearsing at around 730pm, plenty of time!

Any fan of the original Monty Python and the Holy Grail knows that this only a slight variation on the film’s script:

NARRATOR: The wise Sir Bedevere was the first to join King Arthur’s knights, but other illustrious names were soon to follow: Sir Launcelot the Brave; Sir Galahad the Pure; and Sir Robin the Not-quite-so-brave-as-Sir-Launcelot who had nearly fought the Dragon of Agnnor, who had nearly stood up to the vicious Chicken of Bristol and who had personally wet himself at the Battle of Badon Hill; and the aptly named Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Film. Together they formed a band whose names and deeds were to be retold throughout the centuries, the Knights of the Round Table.

Part 2. Costume!

2013-01-16-0005

[Note – for reasons that will become clear very shortly, I had to shave off my beard. I look about 12yrs old! ARRGH!]

3. Meet the star!
For this run (initially scheduled for a limited six week run but now, thanks to its popularity, on an indefinite extension) of SPAMALOT! King Arthur is played by the one and only Stephen Tompkinson.

And what a bloody nice bloke he is too.

Me and Stephen Tompkinson

Part of the evening’s plan (aside from being a special guest star (ahem, yes – that’s me)) was to meet Stephen backstage and chat to him about all things Python. Again, something I didn’t know was happening until the night and again, something equally brilliant for me to do!

Things Stephen told me about Spamalot:

  • His daughter, with whom he has watched Monty Python’s Holy Grail several times a year, every years, since she was six years old, was the one to convince him to take the role! ‘You’d make me so proud, Daddy!’ – she said to him. ‘How could I say no to that’ he said. Awww!
  • His rehearsal process was a mere ten days. TEN. DAYS. Mental. Alright that’s a pretty intense ten days, but still – I can’t imagine. Fortunately for Stephen, he is only one of two new additions to the cast (the other being the quite brilliant AJ Casey, as The Lady of the Lake) so the ensemble already in place not only welcomed him with open arms but also supported him every step of the way.
  • The name of the game [on this production at least] is Fun! That’s what the director told Stephen on his first night – ‘Just forget your troubles, get out on that stage and have a riot. The audience want to have fun with you, so just have a ball!’
  • This new [ish] version of the play is a lot more inclusive and open than it was in the Palace and is updated accordingly to very current affairs – songs as well!

What a lovely chap. And there was still so much more to come!

4. Rehearsals

Rehearsing with the SPAMALOT gang :)

Again, another moment for the cast to be warm and welcoming. I got my part right first time, and they all cheered and whooped.. Ha! Just, brilliant.

5. Waiting!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIOLB3L_12g?rel=0]

6. Final adjustments
Hat, moustache, beard (yes, that’s right – I shaved my beard so I could wear a fake one, brilliant), mic, and a wish of good luck from the girl.

2013-01-16-0045

Before showtime!

2013-01-16-0046

7. The show!
Backstage the atmosphere was, how can I put it? Hilarious. Laughter, jokes, and merriment were spewing forth from everyone – and that was before anyone was on stage! It was such a great group of people to be around; they clearly loved their work very, very much and every single person who walked past whilst I was waiting in the wings stopped to wish me luck, before they themselves stepped out in front of 700+ people.

Just lovely, lovely people.

When my cue – ‘and the aptly-named…‘ – came I strutted out on stage and beamed at the audience – ‘…Sir-not-appearing-in-this-play!’

Sir Not Appearing!

In four beats: the knights looked at me, I looked at them, I looked back at the audience, and then came the line:

‘SORRY!!!’

And the next thing I knew, I was off again – to roars of laughter!

Exit stage right!

The audience’s reaction was great, and I was grinning from ear to ear.

I was [and still am really] utterly dumbfounded that the whole thing took place at all. I can’t believe it. It was just brilliant.

The team backstage told us that the role of ‘Sir Not Appearing’ is usually played by one of the ensemble however they often throw it open to special guest stars such as celebrities and/or comedians who can come on and kill with that role. In other words, for me to get the opportunity to do it was very special indeed.

Just. Wow.

And while I can’t guarantee that I’m going to be in it next time, I can 100% guarantee that seeing this play will make you laugh. A LOT. I laughed like a madman, both backstage during act one and then again when I joined the audience for act two.

Two last things to say before I finish this epic blog post –

First: Go and see Spamalot. Please. It’s AWESOME. Hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny, and… and the cast just has so much fun. It would be unfair of me to mention the epic corpsing that took place during the Knights that say Ne segment, so I won’t. But I nearly died laughing.

Second: I have to say thank you to my amazing girlfriend, Jen, for managing to swing what is quite easily the Best. Christmas present. Ever. You rock x

 

 

My best things of 2012

Let’s do this!
____________________________

Best Comic BookHawkeye

Screen shot 2012-12-31 at 12.07.18

(followed by Saga and maybe New 52 Batwoman too)

Best BlogSuper Punch
(with Marginal Revolution and Screenrant also getting worthy nods)

Best Music – we’ll ask Last.fm ———–>Screen shot 2012-12-22 at 12.54.00
(which is plugged into my Spotify and probably knows my music tastes from the year behind better than anything else)

Best FriendJennifer Miller

Best PlaceVenice

Best Fancy DressWolfmother

Best FilmSkyfall
(followed by Looper and Avengers)

Best PlayHedda Gabler
(it was SO good)

Best MusicalSweeney Todd

Best PremiereDark Knight Rises

Best Book(s)Done that already (what’s yours?)

Best Day – August 17th
(I found out I won my first pitch for the big O just I was boarding a flight to Cape Verde for a (well-deserved) holiday with the girl; it was perfect timing. December 30th comes in a close second, see next item)

Best Celeb Spot –  JOHN LANDIS!

Best EventTEDxObserver
(small mention on Five Things, but I still have ALL my notes to write up)

Best CoffeeFoxcroft & Ginger
(with an honourable mention for Taylor St. Canary Wharf)

Best Presentation (that I got to give) – Word of Mouth Marketing at SOF, Slovenia

Best blog posts (according to stats)

  1. Marvel: Disassembled
  2. Review: The Amazing Spider-Man
  3. On Facebook? I can see your private messages
  4. DRIVE (posted last year, but still top-billed)
  5. Review: Skyfall

Best blog posts (according to opinion)

  1. Current attempts at television-based social media integration are failing, hard.
  2. the pressure of immediacy
  3. Never-ending enjoyment (for a limited time only)
  4. 2013 Social Media Predictions
  5. In defence of Superman Returns

Best overall stats – Jetpack did that for me

Best New Personal ProjectsFive things on Friday and The Voicemail

Best Blogger EngagementTsingtao, Motorola and Visit Switzerland

Best FoodSpuntino – I love it there
(Hakkasan comes a close second)

Best AppPaper by Fifty-Three (example output)

_____________________

Bit of a random list all in all, but hey – it’s my list and I can do what I like. This past year has been an astonishing year for stats and stuff, YOY growth has been mental

Screen shot 2012-12-31 at 13.10.06

I’m putting this down to two things. First, a solid commitment to blogging; this year I published 164 new posts. That works out at an average of just over three posts per week. Having blogging projects to work towards helped with this a lot. If you’re looking to grow your readership, I’d recommend this.

Second, StumbleUpon. This year, I started sharing my links to the social/interest/serendipity-led search engine and my YTD referrers put SU in at the number two position (with Search coming first and Twitter coming third).

Finally I put a lot of my 2012 reflection stuff into my last Five things on Friday post so, instead of going over similar ground, I just want to say a big thank you – all of you – who have stopped by to read, comment on, or share anything you’ve found on this here blog of mine.

I really, really appreciate it.

Happy New Year to you and I’ll see you in 2013!

😀 😀 😀

 

 

the pressure of immediacy

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

Mobile phone and the Japanese 2

— Image via cocoarmani

First, I want you to apply the following quote from this Fjord iPad post to all modern smart phones –

It may seem like a small change, but a generation which has instant access, quite literally, at its fingertips, will be a quite different generation to that which did not. We used to consider that someone was erudite if they had spent a number of years accumulating knowledge and expertise which they could deploy at the precise moment which it was required.
.
Given that this information is all now on hand, people will come to rely more on an ability to recall data from the system. Ability to focus, and knowledge of the best places to look, will become the most important facets to consider. These are fundamental changes.

The key word/sentence I’m going to zero in on this time is ‘the ability to focus‘.

We’re losing it. 

Second, I want you to think of that thing where you’re talking at the pub and someone says: ‘Oh did you see that thing today? Oh my God it was soooo funny! You haven’t seen it? No, I’ll pull it up.’

Not only is it massively anti-social (we’ll come back to that), but also – in the time that it takes you to reach for your phone and start googling for ‘IKEA Monkey’ or whatever, the conversation has undoubtedly moved on and no one is actually that interested come sharing time. Forget it. Move on. Leave it.

It doesn’t matter.

These two notes are what, to my mind at least, drive the ill-perceived pressure of immediacy. As in, just because we can look up just about anything on the glass screens in our pockets doesn’t necessarily mean that we should. The pressure to know something immediately is balderdash. It is fallacy, claptrap, and poppycock. It is a make-believe blanket of self-made suffocation that we have placed upon our own social and professional situations that really has no need to exist at all.

So what do we do? 

  1. At dinner, play the phone stacking game. I have and it works.
  2. At work, create a digital hat stand for meeting rooms.
  3. At your desk, invest in an NFC-enabled on/off mat for your phone.
  4. At the pub, focus on your friends.
  5. At home, unplug your WiFi; break habits.

Why?

Two quotes for you –

‘If we learn to disconnect in order to connect with ourselves, the impact will be amazing’
– Arianna Huffington

‘I wish I’d spent more time on the internet’
– Nobody on their deathbed, ever.

 

Stop. Think. Breathe.

Stay in the moment.

The pressure of immediacy does not exist. 

 

Three things arrived in the post today

First, a rather super-awesome Superdry hoodie from those kind folk at Cult Clothing. Not only does it fit, but it’s also perfectly timed as I AM ILL RIGHT NOW and being cosy and warm helps me feel better.

Look – ILL

Superdry Hoodies

Second, an actual Amazon Kindle Fire HD gifted to me from Dolby, via Kred Rewards. I am both amazed and massively thankful. Plus (and I really hope my Mum isn’t reading this) that’s Christmas all wrapped up for a certain relative of mine, definitely.

Stunned.

In-kred-ible even (sorry, couldn’t help it).

Third and finally, a selection of digital goodies from Neil Gibson Comics / T-Publications. I love a good comic book (you’re in shock, I know) and well, I rarely venture into new territories without muchos research beforehand. This, amongst others, has come my way so I’m going to read it. Easy.

What did you get in the post today?