A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: June 2009 (Page 1 of 3)

The coolest thing I’ve seen in a very long time

I found this super cool ad from the 40’s on Hareega’s blog, and dude, it’s a Coca Cola advertisement from the 40’s. What the hell. It’s so weird its trippy.

The shadow play (although the bottle did not yet have its signature “curves”), the cool Egyptian actors, the hard-core Arabic accent pronouncing “Coca-Cola”, and the fact that Coke wasn’t popular in the Arab world till half a century later… Sooo cool.

Wow. I’m in awe. I could watch that forever.

Nancy Ajram or anonymous blacc-and-white Egyptian chick?

Gravity-defying 45-degree lean

While the world is re-appreciating his music, let’s take a second to forget about the tunes and enjoy the sheer brilliance of the professional weirdo.


The undecipherable scribble above is actually a patent that Michael Jackson filed in 1993. A little more decipherable might be the memory of this patent performed on “Smooth Criminal” in 1992.

I remember that very well because as a child, still unaware of the complexities of gravity, I tried so hard to balance my body well enough to do that. Obviously, it didn’t work. There wasn’t no internet then though and there was no way for me to find out that it had more to it than balance.

Jackson actually did it with specially designed shoes that quickly slid into pegs that rise out of the floor. The rigid anklets that worked like ski boots also helped, supporting Jackson and the dancers at that magic angle. Notice the guy on the right having a bit of trouble dealing with the shoes:

(video spliched to the last few seconds)

Brilliant, eh?

If you want to enjoy the whole video, and wonder how such a socially inept man could have been such a great stage performer, here’s the whole length of the video above:

[via dvice]

Chess Mania

IMG_6916 by you.

I haven’t mentioned that my family’s [and co] favorite hobby is chess. And the problem is that I’m dead serious. Two people playing chess in the Assi household is more of a constant than fresh air in the Assi household. It is cool and everything, except that I am the only person who finds it boring, so I usually feel left out.

Here are some really cool chess sets though that I have to share, in dedication to the chess-maniacs I share blood with.

Pirates vs Ninjas


I’m personally a pirate person, so I’d probably pick the Ninjas since I’ll probably lose :) I can’t figure out how the different stones can be distinguished from each other, but whatever, they’re pretty, that’s often all that matters.

Arr. Haha. Love you Lil’ Arr.

Rolling Stone Chess Set

Okay, this sounds boring until you are told that it is actually made from Rolling Stone magazine covers. Even the pieces! Way cool.

Auto Part Chess Set

The title says it all. The chess set literally made from junk. Except it looks nice. Click on the image to zoom.

Platonic Chess


My favorite from this collection. I love the simplicity, the strong “white versus black” concept, and the space age look. Gorgeous.


Although I can’t imagine how anyone would play with this, it still looks damn cool. It’s so Lord of the Rings, with a climb to victory and all.

To check out all the other really cool chess sets, visit Cool Material.

Drawing fire

Here’s an interview I had with Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff in the June 2009 issue of Nox:


Words: Roba Al-Assi, Images: Ibrahim Owais

“Why the hell is a bourgeois publication interested in interviewing a pro-Palestinian cartoonist?” asks the skinny 40-something in a black and white keffiyeh. If it wasn’t Carlos Latuff, the now legendary Brazilian political cartoonist, we might have been offended. But for a man who has made a career championing a political cause some 15,000 kilometres away from the home he shares with his working class parents in Rio de Janeiro, a cup of tea is probably a means of capitalist oppression. And having avoided the temptation to question why being pro-Palestinian and bourgeois were somehow mutually exclusive – he might want to visit Abdoun to appreciate how many Palestinians have successfully graduated from the refugee camp – we managed to convince him that as Arabs, some of us actually Palestinian, the NOX staff does care rather a lot about the 40-year occupation. Maybe even as much as he does.

Bad first impressions aside, we moved to a comfortable spot in Darat al-Funun, the scene of an exhibition and talk, and he proved more than willing to discuss his career-long commitment to the cause. “I am an ordinary guy,” he says. “There is nothing special about me. The special thing in this whole formula is the Palestinian people. They transform ordinary people to pro-Palestinian activists – this is why I am here, this is why I am now displaying my art in Amman. It’s the Palestinians. Me, I am just ordinary.”

A crowd of well-over 500 people who attended the event would no doubt dispute his claims of “ordinariness”. Latuff, a cartoonist from Brazil, came to focus almost exclusively on Palestine after his visit to Hebron in 1998 and a conversation with a local man. “Khalid Idriss did not know me, neither knew what I did for a living,” he explained in the talk. “To him I was someone from the outside and his story can be echoed through me. So he invited me to his home. He took out his wallet and started pulling out broken teeth,” Latuff recounted passionately. “I said, ‘Jesus Christ, what is this?’ And he said, ‘It’s all the teeth I lost to the butts of the M16s of both Israeli settlers and soldiers.’ He then brought his teenage daughter and lifted her shirt off her back to show me all the scars and wounds. So I promised him to get his story out. Today, I am still keeping my word.”

manual br :)

You were one of the top finishers in Iran’s 2006 International Holocaust Cartoon Competition. Aren’t you afraid of being accused of being anti-Semitic?

Carlos Latuff: Of course, I was bashed as a racist and anti-Semite. But have you seen the cartoon that won? It does not deny the holocaust, but actually reaffirms it. Today, we are witnessing a whole new holocaust against the Palestinians, and yet you can’t even say that in the media. I don’t care if people call me anti-Semitic, and I don’t care about what people think of me; I care about the Palestinians. It’s really amazing that when the Western media heard about the International Holocaust Cartoon Competition, they all cried “Rage!”. Just a few weeks earlier, they were defending “freedom of speech” over the Mohammad cartoon incident. Their double standards were exposed, and I saw a good a chance to make a point about the Palestinian cause.

Have you had many problems with censorship?

CL: In 2002, the Independent Media Centre in Switzerland was shut down over claims of anti-Semitism after they published my series “We are all Palestinians”. The cartoons portrayed Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, Black South Africans, Native North Americans and Tibetans in China. All of these groups are drawn saying, “I am Palestinian”. A few months later, police in Israel arrested the editor. I have not only dealt with censorship, but also with police brutality, and blacklisting. I can’t visit Palestine because of my cartoons.

You sometimes need to rely on stereotypes to make the average person understand, but stereotypes can also be clichés. How do you create a balance?

CL: I have no problems with clichés. Cartoons should not only be accessible to intellectuals – they need to be clear enough to be understood by the janitor as well as the CEO. They should be like street signs, which everyone can understand. My real problem is fighting the negative clichés and stereotypes that people have.

An active member of Deviant Art, an active blogger, a supporter of Creative Commons… You are all over the internet. Would you say that the internet and social web was a main channel for your activism?

CL: Without the internet, this interview would not be possible. The internet has opened a very big window for me, and without it the mainstream Western media would have never published my work. Western media loves representing Israel as the victim, and as a result people see no difference between the Taliban and the PFLP! But I don’t have a Facebook account. There is a Facebook profile of an impersonator, but that’s not me.

Do you see a change in the West’s outlook with alternative media providing a slightly more balanced view?

CL: Absolutely. I think that people’s perception of the Palestinian cause is slowly changing. For example, Brazilian magazine Istoé, which is equivalent to Newsweek, had “Terrorismo de Israel” on their cover with an image of a Palestinian woman crying in front of her ravaged house. I would have never thought in a million years I’d see the day when a mainstream Brazilian magazine would have the Palestinian cause on the cover! Israel cannot keep convincing people that the 410 children who died in Gaza were killed for security reasons. Yes, Israel is losing ground, and I hope to help erode the credibility of Israel.

In a world where even air is packaged and sold, why do you encourage people to freely print and reproduce your work?

CL: It is very important for people all over the world to feel free to print out, reproduce and distribute my work however they wish. In a capitalist system, everything is produced for money, but my artwork is not for sale, they are made to be spread around, to counter the Western media war against Palestine. They are also to fight Islamophobia, although I am not Muslim myself. This isn’t about money, or cartooning, or anything like that. It is about love. I love the Palestinian people! I dedicate my art to Khalid Idriss, I know you are in Hebron and you can’t hear me, and I know that I can’t visit you because Israel has blacklisted me, but I am here in Amman, and I have kept my promise.

Carlos Latuff’s work can bee seen at his Deviant Art webpage.
He also has a comic series named Tales of Iraq War, where his superhero, Juba, is a Baghdad sniper.

For freelance writing inquiries, contact me at the address available in the “Contact” tab on top.

Happy ending

Okay, so I gotta a confession to make, I really like Mika. His music the exact opposite of what I usually like to listen to, as I’m usually more inclined to enjoy the gut-wrenching, violent tunes of the likes of Led Zeppelin. But Mika’s music makes me happy. I always smile when I listen to it.

Speaking of, here’s a really cool cover of Mika’s “Happy Ending” by a Jordanian girl called Maria Mazzawi. She really does have a gorgeous voice, doesn’t she?

Coke Vintage


I am in awe at how gorgeous these vintage Coca Cola cans are. My favorite is the last, obviously inspired by Roy Lichtenstein. I love the brightness, the flatness, the curvature, and everything about these designs.

Apparently, they were available in Canada and Germany around 20 years ago.

Coca-Cola still manages to get really creative with their soda every now and then, something that Pepsi, my preferred soda input, cannot do.

Which of these is your favorite?

[thedieline, inspiredology]

Are you asking me out on a date?

I’ve been wanting to share this video for quite some time now, and I kept forgetting to do it.

I’m sure many of you have already seen it, but I can’t help but share it anyway. Watching it gives me goosebumps and sends a quick stream of visual memories dealing with email, love at first ‘site’, and countless hours spent “living” inside my inbox (literally, sometimes).

I got my first email when I had just turned 12, in 1997. It was a Hotmail account, before Microsoft bought it: roba_assi_ (yes, with the double underscores, when you’re 12, that’s like the coolest thing ever). It’s been 12 years now since that day, which means I spent 12 years online, and 12 years offline, although of course only 5 of the first 12 years count because even today kids probably don’t get email accounts until they’re like 7 or something :) I think.

I don’t know if I’m the only one in the world who finds this video really touching, watching it over and over again like some people would watch their wedding videos.

What do you think? When did you get your first email account? Does email mean more to you than simply a way of quick functional communication?

Smell the Jasmines – شم الياسمين

IMG_6971 by you.

IMG_6998 by you.

Apparently it was a very popular pasttime for children of my mother’s generation, picking the baby jasmines, found in plentitude in this part of the world, and stringing them with a needle and thread.

The smell of jasmines reminds me of so many things. It reminds me of drinking minty tea on my grandmother’s roof in Nables. It reminds me of playing “bil 7ara” as kids, next to the jasmine bushes. It reminds me of the crisp morning weather of summer in this city.

Smells are associated with memories more than anything else for myself. More than images. More than sounds. More than taste. What’s a smell you always associate with something?

Super Whitey

Super Whitey

Here she comes to save the day!

Amman or Rio de Janeiro?

Guess which of these photos are from Amman and which are from Rio de Janeiro.

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5

Pretty amazing, eh?

Idea+ images borrowed From Hazim Bitar‘s Facebook Profile. If he’s on your Facebook, don’t cheat :)

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