20 Mar 2014

We need to talk about Paddy's

Author: will | Filed under: brand name, Ireland, Irish, opinion

Podcasting does odd things to time. You are listening to a up-to-the-second broadcast, but its a few days old. That's why I'm talking about March 17th now. The Morning Ireland (yes I listen to the second most depressing Irish broadcast, I need the updates live, and the details via download) presenters were, as an aside commenting that they would get in trouble for calling "Saint Patrick's Day" by the more commonly used name "Paddy's Day". The English don't have Georgie's Day, the Welsh don't have Dave's Day and the Scottish don't have Andy's Day (unless Andy Murray is playing tennis).

A note to American readers, March 17 is not "St. Patty's Day". Patty is the feminine of Patrick. St. Patricia's Day (or if you prefer St. Patty's Day) is August 25th, and features dried blood coming back to liquid form. Which is slightly creepy.

The thing is, Paddy's Day didn't loose its "saint" by accident. March 17 is both the feast day of Saint Patrick, and the international day of celebration to be Irish. To be a "Paddy". Think of it as an Irish Pride festival.

Paddy used to be, and sometimes is, a derogatory term for "an Irish person". The nickname of "Paddywagon" for an American Police van was a commentary on just how many Irish men had joined the US police forces. Somewhere along the day we claimed it back. "Paddy" is rarely used as a derogatory term,  "Mick's" and "Tadhg's" are usually used in the way "Pommies" or "Yanks" are used, but it used to be worse. Paddy's Day would be the equivalent of the US's Black History month using the name starting with a "N" and ending with a smack to the mouth, but we embraced it. We made it out own.

And on the run up to March 17th, hundreds of landmarks around the globe were coloured green to celebrate this little country.

Paddy's Day is not about Saint Patrick. Its about being Irish and Proud. And maybe a little bit of snake banishing.


Embedded Link

In pictures: The world goes green for St Patrick’s Day
The Great Wall of China and Downtown Disney Orlando joined a host of major landmarks and iconic sites around the world in lighting up green yesterday.

I was glad to see Alannah re-started blogging, but to took me seconds to realise that it wasn’t her; she wouldn’t blog about premiership football. Now that the New Year is comfortable over, I have a resolution I’d like you to consider; update your blog at least once this year, even if its just to say “I’m closing this down”.

And now, the long-winded meat of this post.

I am subscribed to over 900 blogs in Google reader. That is a seriously silly amount of information flowing in to my brain. Or at least it would be if they were 900 actively updated blogs.The sad truth is that for a lot of reasons, blogs die. Sometimes its because life gets in the way of a keyboard. Sometimes its because a death stops typing. Sometimes its because the blog was tied to a company position and the blogger has moved to keyboards new.

A silent blog gathers no feed. Or rather, its feed sits in silence. Polls are ignored and it takes up very little attention.

But recently three things happened which makes me question that.

First was the apparent hacking of Tom Raftery’s blog feed. Or rather the feed in Google reader. It appeared as if his blog’s output was replaced by a very spammy list of products. A few hundred a day. I confirmed that he knew about it, but I didn’t want the firehose of, well, DVDs in stock so I un-subscribed while he was trying to figure out its source.

I’m not too sure if the problem was at his servers now, but let me go on.

The next feed to suddenly spring to life was the life of the knitter Alannah of “Over a Cup of Tea”. But her feed was full of the minutia of the UK Premiership Football League. This wasn’t a spam stream of products, it was a stream of valuable (to the fantasy football players I know) information. It was tied to a site called “Over a Cup of Tea”, but that wasn’t the girl I was following. So I unsubscribed.

Then, since many things happen in threes, a third blog sprung to life. This time the technology blog “Its a Feature, not a bug” was replaced by details of a Japanese dance school.Yet another dead blog sprung to life in someone else’s hands, or in this case, shoes.

So what happened.

I have two possible answers, and both lie in Google Reader feeds.

Sometimes Google creates a feed for the blog, this usually turns up if I try to share a link from my phone. The format is something like feedproxy.google.com/~r/nameofblogwithoutspaces followed by a id string for the page. However, some names occur more often than others. If you don’t blog for a while, I suspect that the name get re-cycled to another blog of the same name.

The other possibility is that, while I wasn’t looking, the blog shut down. The domain expired and was reassigned, and a new blog started up in its place. Google then saw “nameofblog.com” with a new feed and assumed that it was a continuation of the previous one, and reassigned it the old feeds it had in place.

Either of them is interesting. Just think, how often do blogs and domain expire? And if a once popular blog goes dark, and then off, if you get that old name or domain, would you suddenly find yourself with an automatic audience (and they aren’t interested).

Personally, I don’t clear out old silent feeds because, since they are silent, they don’t show up. It would take me quite a while before I noticed that someone was silent, unless their quarterly blog posts always began with “must blog more”.

Which is something I need to do more of.

take care… with the feeding of you blog,

I will admit that the idea hit me while watching the video below. Disney has its Disney Princesses line. Well what about those little girls and boys not interested in being kind and nice (and trust me, its a lot of people). Those girls will eventually grow out (mostly at least) of their princess stage. Boys grow out of their Power Ranger phase (says the guy still in his Transformers phase from childhood). Can we have the Disney Bad Girls.

Think about it. Some girls want more spice with their sugar.

I’m not talking about the Tinkerbell and the Disney Fairies franchise, (darker, but not black) I’m talking about the bad girls. Dr Agnes Nairn pointed out in a 2005 study for Bath University that most girls will torture their dolls as they get older. Maybe things should get dark.

Some RSS readers will not display the video. If you can’t see it, either click on the last link, of click through to the post.

Essentially a sub set of the Disney Villains grouping (rarely used as a group). Name-checking Queen Grimhilde (the Queen in Snow White), Anastasia Tremaine (the kinder of the Ugly Sisters from Cinderella in the video), Maleficent (the wicked fairy godmother in Sleeping Beauty), Ursula (the Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid), Cruella de Vil (from The Hundred and One Dalmatians) and Madame Medusa (from The Rescuers).

The main problem with the female villains in the Disney movies is that they are almost all fully grown women. Compare this to the young princesses or the fairies. Is it hard for little girls to cast themselves as fully grown? Probably not. Admittedly in the case of stepmothers (the Queen or Lady Tremaine) it makes sense, Cruella is a well known character, and Maleficent is a major character in the Disney parades. But small changes can be made, just as happened with the princesses.

A shape changing Ursula could look like the queen she is in a black gown (with 6 frills or pleats on the way down the black dress to hide the fact that she is actually an octopus). Come to think of it, octopi can change shape themselves, as does the character. The major change for the character would be to have her walking out of water. Madame Medusa could easily be changed (she isn’t that well known) but a more flattering dress and stockings is all that’s needed. As for the Ugly Sister, she is already the same age as Cinderella if not a bit younger.

I’m sure that most of the princess stock could be adapted to the colour scheme of the “bad girls”, and Grimhilde or Maleficent would be good halloween costumes. Imagine a Ursula duvet cover or bedspread available with matching tentacle beanbags. And given the span of time-lines available (medieval witch queens and other magic users (yes, young Miss Tremaine gets a wand at some point) jumping to the 1930s and 1960s) there are more options available.

Unlike the princesses (who never really seem to acknowledge each other) have the bad girls working together. Maybe in a modern setting. Yes its a little bit Fables, but being bad can be just as much fun in the now, as well as in the past.

Just an idea.
Will Knott

20 Apr 2009

Get his kit off

Author: will | Filed under: advertising, brand name, branding, do we really need this

No seriously. New Zealand Rugby Clubs (well their Super 14s anyway) and Adidas has done an odd little flash site.

Choose two Rugby players from this list, Tamati Ellison, Ali Williams, Richie McCaw, Jimmy Cowan or Liam Messam and they will take off their rugby shirts and swap with each other.

You can even get a personalised (well fake personalised) poster of the shirtless player, if you have a printer attached. Apparently (crashed my machine when I tried).

I wonder if there will be a Leinster and Munster version shortly? Could the version of Goys and Fiens cope?

take care,

Will Knott

20 Mar 2009

All yellow

Author: will | Filed under: brand name, cancer, charity

Today is National Daffodil Day.

yellow daffs

Daffodils are a sign of hope, after all they usually mean that spring is here, but they can be nasty. As a cut flower they release a chemical which causes other flowers to die off really quickly.

Daffodil Day is organised and run by the Irish Cancer Society. It is the most popular charity event in Ireland and is a chance for everyone in Ireland to make the biggest difference to the lives of everyone affected by cancer.

This year you can also plant a daffodil in their virtual “Spring Garden of Hope. Visit www.PlantaDaff.ie and write a message to accompany your daffodil in the Garden.

Or buy a pin, a daffodil or a bunch of daffodils from the sellers around the country. Just don’t mix the cut flowers with others.

Take care,
Will Knott

I took two minutes. Have you?

To: complaints@rte.ie, Joe@RTE.ie
From: Will Knott

Dear Sir or Madam,

Recently things have changed in RTÉ, in particular, afternoons on RTÉ 2FM.
I used to listen to the “wittertainment” (wit combined with entertainment) of interesting conversation about music, musicians, movies and anything interesting from the news on your afternoon shows.

Since the new year, Nikki Hayes and Rick O’Shea seem to have been gagged. Gone are the insightful riffs on air and conversations with their audiences to be replaced with “that was a song off the play list, here is another song off the playlist“. If I want pure music I have an extensive collection of CDs on my shelves and online music streaming services at my fingertips. (The less said about mp3 files at this moment, the better).

In one stroke (probably of a pen) you have removed the added value of the presenters. At times I wonder if the show has been prerecorded. These are presenters who would appear on Radio One’s playback on a regular basis. If the editors in RTE thought they were worthy of a special mention, why shut them up?

Was Jerry Ryan complaining about the upstarts of talk in the afternoon? Did Joe Duffy fret about being upstaged by rivals on the “youth” channel? Did other presenters resent their repeated appearances in the highlighted clip show? Did the fact the aiding the public in ways over multiple channels of communication hinder a target number of plays somewhere (the kind of thing usually reserved for a payola scheme, I assume you can confirm that this is not the case). Is this a preparation routine to move them off to other projects?

So, could you answer why the afternoons have been turned in to a “all music, no talk (except for the adverts)” festival, exactly like your rivals and so eliminating the sole distinguishing feature between most of the commercial stations and your own 2FM?

Instead of “more music”, any chance of “more entertainment”?
take care,
Will Knott

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When a books comes out with 27 pages of source references, you know someone is trying to prove that he is correct.

A Replica of R2-D2 created by John Marco. Photo taken at Star Wars Celebration IV, in Los Angeles, CA.

Image via Wikipedia

And when the 532-page ebook is free, I suspect that the author is trying to be very correct and get his point across. Partly to stop himself being sued by George Lucas no doubt. The book is question is The Secret History of Star Wars which skews from the Lucasfilm version of history.

According to the “Frequently Asked Questions” part of the book’s site, Michael Kaminski wrote the book to fill the perceived knowledge gap (or at least lore gap) between the observed history from the fan’s perspective, and the official history according the Lucasfilm.

To be honest, I don’t care enough about the politics of the Star Wars movies (or the Jedi religion) to be worried, about the book’s content. But the existence of the book is interesting.

Essentially this book is a compiled collection of sources to create a history of the creation of six highly influential movies; a series which continues to generate controversy. And is of course unauthorised.

When an unauthorised biography is compiled, the person at the heart of it can sue for liable, as long as the accusations (if any) in the book are false). This book is not about George Lucas, but about the creation of a series of products. Which means that is possible to sue for copyright violations in much the same way that a lawsuit was perused against the creators of a printed Harry Potter Lexicon (which was settled out of court). Its not just reputation at stake here, but a multimillion empire. By being a free download, the author manages to avoid at least part of the consequences (financial gain) and given that this 3rd edition of the book came after the above settlement, it is possible that a few discrete alternations may have been made to prevent the “too much of my work” arguments.

There are of course two reasons as to why Lucasfilm has not sued.

1) Suing your fans is not a good idea; you need them

2) Lucas has a Pirates Dilemma problem. Yes its is a derived work, but its taken the history of the series in a direction which LucasFilm never would. While they are unlikely to support it, it would be a bad idea for them to try to destroy it. Because its something they can build on (or at least with).

Could someone who cares about the series and can confirm the truth of any of the books details contact me? Also in the unlikely possibility that someone from LucasFilm is reading this, is there an official response to the book? I can confirm that the author cares enough about copyright to disable copying and pasting from the PDF file.

Still behind the scenes shenanigans are always interesting.

take care,
Will Knott

p.s. I’m waiting for The Secret History of the Babylon 5 series (or at least the collected Hyperion archives). Have I missed them?

11 Jul 2007

Navan on your lips

Author: will | Filed under: brand name, branding, Ireland

I can’t believe that Una missed this in her articles of the day link a few days back.

The first link is an article in Business Week about the importance of branding. Clearly a catchy name can make or break a product. Which brings me to Navan, a town in County Meath, Ireland, and I suppose Navan Man.

What has this got to do with branding? Well in the Business Week article, they mention Navan. Or rather Navan, which is apparently a “fusion of natural black vanilla from Madagascar with refined French cognacs” (probably a Grand Marnier blend) and even is part of Hevan; equal parts Navan and Hennessy VOSP. There’s even a review of the drink available.

I’ve been looking at the Navanworld (which sounds like a scary nightclub, and I worked in the town for a while) website, and I can’t figure out where the name came from.

Having said that, imagine drinks based on Navan Man?
Did they even search the name before they used it?
And if they did were they thinking Brosnan, Ó hEochagáin or Tiernan? Given the Black Books connection to drink, it’s got to be Dylan Moran that they had in mind.

I wonder if they smell of vanilla and cognac now?

take care,

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