WHERE GOOD IDEAS COME FROM by Steven Johnson

On the subject of creativity…

WHERE GOOD IDEAS COME FROM by Steven Johnson.

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Making a meal out of procrastination

Hello. Sorry for the delay.

Putting it off

This blog became a bit of a source of shame due to the lack of updates – the more I thought about it, the more embarrassed I was about not updating it so kept putting it off.

No good reason really, except I did sort of move jobs (same company, different hours – no longer getting up at 5am on weekends so started going out till 5am instead! Hooray, socialising).

With less than 3 months to go until 30 I’ve realised I’m not bothered about doing everything on the list. Continue reading

#27: 30 classic films: 3 down, 27 to go

It would have been better to make headway on this challenge in the winter; now the clocks have gone forward and I’m no longer getting up at 5am for my job, I can feel the call of London nightlife grow louder.

1. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

The opening sequence of this film hasn’t dated at all. There’s something clean and modernist about the block colours and the silhouette horses running across the screen.

As someone who loved earlier Westerns like High Noon and Stagecoach as a child, it took me a while to get used to the long, slow shots and lack of dialogue for the first five minutes. Also everyone looked blatantly Italian and it was hard to remember we weren’t in Sicily. But why shouldn’t they look Italian? If the characters in earlier Westerns look more northern European (ie blonde haired and blue-eyed) that probably says more about Hollywood than it does about the immigrant population of the Wild West. Continue reading

#5: Haircut of truth

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a woman’s femininity is bound up with her hair. It’s one of our most defining features.

If you don’t believe me, just think how Britney Spears’ head-shaving incident was used to prove what the press wanted us to believe: that she was stark-raving bonkers.

Continue reading

5 awesome live acts: from bass to soul to indie

London has to have the best live music scene in the world. Fact.

Here are five recent gigs I’ve seen to prove it. (This contains no shaky footage with bad sound, I promise)

1. SBTRKT

A prolific duo with an amazing live setup, SBTRKT and Sampha continue to amaze me. Last year’s self-titled album has to be one of 2011’s best.

Supported by the excellent Disclosure, the headline set opened with the stage obscured by a huge print of an African mask – like the ones SBTRKT and Sampha wear onstage to. It was part rave, part jam and being on the top balcony gave us a great overview of thousands of people going nuts in an old theatre.

The live drumming sounded amazing and it was incredible to watch them creating beats and loops whilst juggling playing drums, keyboards and singing. The highlight of the night was when the awesome Roses Gabor came onstage to perform this:

Continue reading

Jazz freestyling, Chinese art, urban greenhouse and The Artist: In praise of the Barbican Centre

Where can you get live improvisation from Soweto Kinch, a Chinese art installation, a tropical garden and The Artist all under one roof? In the Barbican of course.

I’ve been going to The Barbican Centre since before I could walk – literally. On rainy days my parents used to take us to the sprawling concrete complex to let off steam. I’ve seen everything there from Tony Allen to Matthew Herbert and a full choir making percussion with copies of the Daily Mail to interpretive dance. I even performed with school in the foyer once (electric guitar and cello since you ask).

What better place to seek some culture and hide from the pouring rain and howling wind then? Soweto Kinch was first in the foyer – an amazing saxophonist as well as MC and producer. He asked the audience to write words they associate with London onto cards and drop them Continue reading

Driving Lesson number 2 went well.

Kiss My L Plates

“10mph… SECOND GEAR!”

So screamed my driving instructor numerous times over our lesson. Actually screamed is unfair. He was very patient. Everything was fine when changing gear after starting, but ask me to indicate, turn at a junction then speed up and I would forget the speedometer, whizzing off at 20mph while the engine rattled around like teaspoons in a biscuit tin.

Also what is with the clutch? Sometimes you bring it up slowly, sometimes fast. What’s up with that? As far as I can remember you bring it up slowly for first gear but can bring it up faster in second. It’s so confusing!

At least I can remember how to change into first before stopping behind another car at the lights*:

“Break slightly… DON’T STOP THE CAR!

Clutch all the way down

Into first

Brake again DON’T STOP THE CAR UNLESS YOU NEED TO!

Bring the clutch up…

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My Big Fat love of Gypsy music

In just over 3 months, the most popular post on the blog so far is clementine cake. I’m thrilled – re-discovering baking to complete the 30×30 list has been a joy, especially as others seem to like it. But sometimes even something that’s fun is really procrastination, taking away energy from one of the things I love the most: music.

If you live in the UK you’ve probably read and heard some of the debate around the Channel 4 show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. A lot of it centres around whether the show represents the Traveller community in a poor light by focusing on big wedding dresses and over-sized cakes.

There’s an interesting piece in the Guardian here as well as a discussion between a Traveller and one of the series producers.

Whilst I can’t claim to have a particularly in-depth knowledge of the issues faced by Travellers and Gypsies, I do have a longstanding love of gypsy music, particularly Balkan, which has led to Continue reading

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Kiss My L Plates

What do zoo animals, bumper cars and pound coins have in common?

 

 

 

They all formed part of my first driving lesson.

Everyone else, apparently, just sat in a quiet side road. Not me. Terrifyingly, I actually drove round the block, which was very exciting. My first thought was “this is nothing like the bumper cars at fairgrounds!”

Ridiculous, sure, but it’s surprising how easily the pedals respond, particularly the accelerator.

Steering, however, is another matter and I found myself turning the wheel endlessly to make a right turn.

Here are my favourite insights from lesson 1.

1. The accelerator should be put down ‘the thickness of a pound coin’ at a time.

2. Gears are like animals in the zoo:

First gear = elephant (can carry the most dead weight but can only go 10mph)
Second gear = donkey (not as strong as the elephant, but faster)

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#2: Clementine cake

Ever put 5 whole clementines in a blender?

It sounds insane. But it tastes delicious.

Clementine cake with vanilla ice cream

Here’s my attempt at clementine cake, which does indeed call for whole clementines. I think it’s originally a Nigella Lawson recipe, but I used a simplified version of this one from Celebrity Masterchef. Takes a while but totally worth it, as it’s light, zesty and flour- and (almost) butter-free so a second slice is totally acceptable! Continue reading