Sunday, March 29, 2015

New crazes in taking pictures

A few years ago, when I needed a special self-portrait for a blog post (a photo that would show me wearing a newly-purchased Russian black-fur chapka), I tried desperately to use my Nikon to take a picture of me reflected in the bathroom mirror, but I never succeeded in obtaining exactly what I wanted. Above all, if I remember correctly, it didn’t look right to be attired in Siberian headwear with a plastic shower curtain in the background. So I gave up.

That was before the planet Earth encountered the phenomenon of selfies. Funnily enough, although I’ve owned several iPhones, I’ve never once been tempted to take a selfie… which goes to prove how atrociously old-fashioned I’ve become. Even today, I don’t recall ever having used my iPhone to send a text message to anybody, but that’s simply because I lead a quite solitary existence, beyond any circle of friends with whom I might wish to communicate in that fashion. To put it bluntly, mobile phones, text messages and selfies are simply not my kettle of fish… and surely never will be.

I was nevertheless intrigued to hear that, following an unfortunate incident at the Louvre, selfie sticks have now been banned in most French museums.

Click to obtain an enlarged view of the black eye

In any case, selfies are starting to become old hat. Among smart people, phonies are being replaced by dronies, in which you replace your has-been selfie stick by a drone equipped with a tiny GoPro video camera.

Groups of foreign tourists visiting France only have to bring along a drone with them to be sure of obtaining all kinds of fabulous aerial photos of themselves, to upload to their FaceBook pages. (Facebook is yet another thing I’ve never used. Truly, I’m antedeluvian.) But visitors still won’t be allowed to bring such hardware into the Louvre.

Talking about drones, I’ve just seen a fabulous video presentation of the most amazing drone that has ever been imagined. It’s alone in its category, and it makes all the other drones look like spluttering aircraft of the era of the Wright brothers.

Click the YouTube button, then watch this amazing video on your full screen.

If your mind is not blown by that video, then we're clearly not on the same span of eagle's wings.

To do justice to past inventors, I should point out that an imaginative engineer in Baltimore (USA) provided the world, in 1865, with an impressive graphic depiction of bird-powered aviation.

As far as I can ascertain, no prototype of this amazing aircraft was ever actually built and tested... which simply proves that it's often hard to get a good idea off the ground.

Meanwhile, in our modern world, which never wants to stand still, yet another spectacular innovation in picture-taking is starting to emerge. I’m talking of vertical video, the subject of this most informative video:

Click the YouTube button, then watch this funny video on your full screen.

Personally, I welcome this kind of new thinking. If the vertical video phenomenon were to become popular and widespread, it would be a fantastic economic boost for the entire media business, not to mention the electronics industry (faced with the challenge of supplying households with vertical TV and computer screens). I nevertheless fear the negative impact that vertical video would have upon certain TV sports. Popular spectator sports of a predominantly horizontal nature—such as football, rugby, sailing, rowing, swimming, F1 racing, ice hockey and even curling—would lose much of their attractiveness when presented in a strictly vertical-video context. The Tour de France would be reduced to the ascension of the famous 22 hair-pin bends of the Alpe d’Huez. Admittedly, acrobatic flying and base jumping would become the sporting events to watch on vertical-video TV… but a little bit of that stuff can't be pushed too far without boring your viewers.

Rather than comparing new vertical video with the old-fashioned horizontal variety, I’m awaiting patiently the introduction of total-3D-immersion TV, which would totally invade all the space of my living room. The antiquated phenomenon of screens would cease to exist. We viewers would simply be part of the show, day and night. Every time I was watching a football match, for example, and wanted to get up for a glass of wine or a pee, I would have to be careful to avoid getting hit in the face by a ball. That would certainly add spice to my passive existence as an avid TV-viewer of sporting events (which, incidentally, to be perfectly honest, I’m not).

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Killed by helicopters... not by reality TV

Like millions of my fellow-citizens, I was shocked to learn (through an early-morning tweet) that the collision of a pair of helicopters in Argentina had killed eight French individuals who were participating in the filming of a TV show for the TF1 channel, called Dropped. Two Argentine helicopter pilots also died in this accident, seen here:

I consider that it's important to insist upon the fact that none of the commonly-criticized features of reality TV seem to have played any part in this terrible accident. It was neither more nor less than yet another dramatic aviation accident [presently inexplicable].

French people were stunned to learn of the brutal deaths of three celebrated sporting heroes, seen here:

Camille Muffat (swimmer), Alexis Vastine (boxer)
and Florence Arthaud (veteran yachtswoman).

The list of victims included five accomplished members of the TV production team, seen here:

• Brice Guibert was the camera operator.

• Volodia Guinard [professional role undefined for the moment].

Lucie Mei-Dalby was the journalist in charge of interviews.

• Laurent Sbasnik was a well-known director of TV documentaries (including several programs in the series Détour(s) de mob featuring my son François Skyvington).

• Edouard Gilles was handling the audio recording.

The names of the two deceased pilots [to be verified] were Juan Carlos Castillo and Roberto Carlos Abate.

To borrow the title of the TV series in which they were participating, these individuals were literally dropped out of the sky, to their deaths.

May these splendid and talented adventure-seekers—struck down while at work in the noble avant-garde domain of entertainment media—rest in peace.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

You can’t win

The blog post you’ve started to read is extraordinarily trivial. Besides, there’s no way in the world that you might be able to deduce anything from that stupid title: You can’t win. What the hell could that mean? I believe that this blog post will go down in Antipodes history as the dullest thing I’ve ever written here. So, you might think of it as a historic piece of shit… particularly if you happen to have masochistic tendencies. At times, in Antipodes, I’ve dealt with earth-shaking themes, such as war, terrorism and the Theory of Everything. Today’s blog post, on the other hand, wouldn’t even shake a dog’s turd, let alone the earth. But I find it funny, and mildly philosophical, evoking human drama and destiny. And I happen to be the sole boss around here. So, if you’re not happy to carry on reading this extraordinarily trivial blog post, please leave immediately.

OK, that’s got rid of all those boring folk. Now, what was I saying? Ah, yes, it’s a particularly dull blog post, and unimaginably trivial. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. The story starts with my precious pair of boots.

Now, they might (or might not) appear to be quite ordinary garden-variety boots, nothing to get excited about. But, as I tried to point out, if you’re looking for excitement, you’ve come to the wrong place. Well, the greatest merit of this pair of boots is that I can slip them on effortlessly, as soon as I get out of bed, without even bothering about putting on socks. Maybe you don’t realize that this is truly a gigantic advantage for somebody like me, who’s awakened every morning at dawn by a crazy but loveable dog who has only one idea in mind: to get out of the house as rapidly as possible, and to race around on the slopes of Gamone looking for wild boars, roe deers, pheasants, donkeys, foxes, etc… Thanks to these boots, I can safely accompany my dog—through puddles, mud, sleet, ice or snow—for the first dozen or so metres of his matinal romp… before leaving him in the hands of God, who generally gives my dog back to me, unharmed, half an hour later. And, once I’m back inside my warm house, I can discard my dirty boots and put on more sensible winter footwear such as Aussie thongs.

My dull story starts here. Insofar as my boots are wide open (even when my big feet are wedged inside), there’s ample room for tiny pebbles, which seem to enter the boots magically, through mysterious channels known only to the Holy Spirit. And I’m sure you’re all aware that there’s nothing worse than suddenly realizing that there’s some kind of a tiny pebble lodged inside one of your boots. To be precise, it was my left foot. So I made an effort to perch in the mud like a one-legged stork (maybe that’s not the right bird) and to carefully take off my left boot. With my hand, I soon located the offending pebble, and I promptly shook it out. No less promptly, the pebble fell, not to the ground, but rather into my other boot, where it was immediately lodged firmly beneath my big right foot.

As I said, you can’t win. Maybe this blog post might have been slightly improved (let's say, less boring) if I had decided upon a more eloquent title such as Out of the frying pan and into the fire, or Not knowing what foot to dance on. Meanwhile, for any kind readers who might still be hanging around out there, I promise to make an effort to write more interesting stuff…

Old school photos

On chilly winter evenings, my dog Fitzroy loves to sit down in front of the computer (not surprisingly, he’s a Macintosh addict) and browse through old school photos of his master.

Click to enlarge

In case you didn’t recognize us, that’s Fitzroy’s head in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, and me in the upper right-hand corner of the school photo.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

An eye on Fashion Week in Paris

I’m always amused and impressed by the surprising artistic creations of talented individuals, even when they’re relatively trivial.

Monday, March 2, 2015

First steps towards culture

The Lebanese-Swiss cartoonist Patrick Chappatte has authorized me to translate his French into English and to include here this pathetically delightful drawing published by the Swiss daily Le Temps :

Click to enlarge