Six by Nico: Route 66

      No Comments on Six by Nico: Route 66

I’ll admit the temptation to start this review with some Americanisms (yeeehaw!) was strong, as this time around, Nico is taking us on a journey along a (fictitious) Route 66, the iconic American highway.

But no, I’ll refrain as I think it’s best to let the food do the talking and whilst it may have been inspired by our American brothers, it’s safe to say that as usual, Six by Nico offers up some interesting twists on some well known dishes.

Six by Nico : Route 66

A post shared by Gordon McLean (@gmclean) on

On to the menu and I should point out that the one that was listed on the website (below) differs slightly from the menu you can see in the image above, same basic idea though and I take it as a good sign that they’ve continued to refine and tweak each dish right up until it launched.

  • CHICAGO – Crisp Tart / Trapanese Pesto / Goats Cheese / Olive Tapenade
  • GREAT PLAINS – Buffalo Mozzarella / Tomato Essence / Basil Oil
  • AMERICAN DINER – Chickpea Pancake / Maple Syrup Mayonnaise / Guanciale
  • TEXAS – 24 Hour Barbecue Brisket / Chilli Bon Bon / Sweetcorn Puree
  • NEW MEXICO – Sea Bream Taco / Guacamole / Pickled Chilli / Lime
  • CALIFORNIA – Lemon Tart / Orange Espuma / Red Wine Sorbet

As ever, we ordered the snacks to start and were treated to a tiny peanut butter milkshake, nachos, and a corndog. The corndog was a wonderful little ball of moist, flavour packed nom (seriously, what even is a corndog?) with a daub of spicy ketchup adding a nice edge, the milkshake was tasty but way too small and the nachos were disappointingly basic. It’s the first time I’ve experience that ‘hey I could make that’ moment at this particular establishment.

The first course arrived briskly and marked the first stop on the tour at the mighty Windy City itself. A take on the eponymous deep pan pepperoni pizza, what arrived was very far from what I had when last in Chicago. A few slivers of pepperoni, some rich goats cheese, a subtle pesto and a smear of olive tapenade was an intriguing combination. The crisp tart added a nice crunch, and the small chunks of candied black olive brought some much needed sweetness to the dish, off-setting the tart goats cheese and spice of the pepperoni. And hey, who doesn’t love pizza, right?

The Great Plains awaited next and I’ll happily concede that this was my least favourite dish purely because it heavily features tomatoes (of which I am not a fan). That said it was a very fresh and vibrant dish, with fennel crumb and a delicious dressing lifting what could’ve been a rather predictable mozzarella and tomato dish. A few drops of balsamic reduction helped cut through sweetness and whilst it wasn’t my favourite it certainly wasn’t a bad plate of food, which my companions confirmed.

It’s a long way from Chicago to the Great Plans so I was glad to see an American Diner loom on the horizon and after the first mouthful of succulent pork and chickpea pancake I was even happier. The accompanying celeriac coleslaw and pickled celeriac slices, coupled with some fresh green apple chunks, really helped cut through the dense richness of the marinated pork, and the chickpea pancake had a nice crisp bite on the outside and was a lot lighter on the palate, and stomach, than expected. A smart take on pork and apple, what a great dish.

Now on every road trip, there are a couple of destinations that you really can’t wait to get too, and whilst the journey is the important thing, knowing that next up we would have a plate that consisted of 24 hour barbecue brisket it was with some excitement that, as the plate hit the table, I tucked in. Hoooo mama!! The star of Texas was that slow cooked barbecue beef which had a wonderful chilli sear but was so soft it fell apart with a gentle prod of my knife. Then there was the sweetcorn salsa which, along with the pureed sweetcorn was absolutely delicious and really complimented the richness and deep flavour of the beef. I had no idea sweetcorn could taste that good, a revelation on the tastebuds. And lets not forget the chilli bon bon sitting to one side, a little deep fried ball of chilli that had a nice kick without being overpowering and helped combat the sweetness of the corn, bring a nice balance of texture and flavour to the plate. But the beef, ohhh the beef! I’m always a fan of well prepared and perfectly cooked beef and this was that and then some…

Editors note: I have removed the next couple of paragraphs as they mostly repeat the above sentiments, just in different ways. Short version is he REALLY REALLY enjoyed this dish.

It was a sad heart that I waved goodbye to Texas (or at least the plate as it was taken away) but New Mexico beckoned which meant it was taco time and at Six by Nico that meant a perfectly pan fried piece of sea bream, on a bed of the BEST guacamole I’ve ever tasted, and some kick ass pickled chilli to cut through it all. A sliver or two of taco added a much needed crunch, but despite some robust flavours, the sea bream was the star of the show and definitely held its own.

By this point in the meal I was starting to feel quite full – are the portions a little bigger this time to reflect the American theme? – but we had a long drive ahead from New Mexico to Calfiornia!

And what a reward awaited us. Lemon tart, orange espuma, and a red wine sorbet (with an extra hidden ingredient that I won’t spoil) sounded ok on the menu but OH MY HEAVENS. A perfect flavour combination, lead off by a ridiculously light lemon tart with a lightly bruleed crust, think whipped up lemon curd and you are getting close, and the orange espuma (and hidden ingredient) brought the tart back to earth only for a ridiculously good red wine sorbet to flood your palate with a wonderful berry richness, that in turn was cut through by the lemon tart which was… well you get the picture. I loved this, a lot more than I thought I would and it’s a perfect example of what Six by Nico does; delivering a dish that exceeds your expectations in delightful and delicious ways.

And that’s not a bad way to finish a meal… sorry, road trip… and overall this menu is up there with the other menus we’ve had the joy to savour. If I was ranking them (which I guess I am about to do) it wasn’t quite up there with The Chippie but I’d say Route 66 is easily in third place, or tied for second? It feels a bit mean to rank the menus against each other though as, on their own, they all have some superlative dishes to offer.

As ever, the menu had something for everyone and the standard of cooking is now as expected, very high and very well presented. This is clever, tasty, imaginative food which is never ever a bad thing, and the joy of the fixed menu continues to delight. The service is friendly, relaxed, as is the atmosphere in the restaurant (ohhh and top tunes on the playlist for this one, all the great driving American rock tunes were there) and, and I know I am repeating myself, this is all for £25 for six courses of high quality food (plus drinks and snacks, but still). £25 for food of this quality is ridiculous, so even if you don’t like every dish, it’s still a BARGAIN!

And so, sated and happy, my compadres and I osied off down the highway, ambling along the final stretch of road with no particular place to go. We definitely got our kicks on this Route 66, and I can’t wait to see where Nico will take us next.

You have 5 weeks left to try this menu, so I suggest you saddle up and head to Finnieston!

Weekend Reading

      No Comments on Weekend Reading
  • Eimear McBride: ‘My husband shouts “For God’s sake, come down to dinner”’
    By 9.20 I am back at the house, boiling the kettle and starting to slip down into thinking properly. During a novel, this moment doesn’t exist. The novel insists itself through every single thought and out-manoeuvres the need for almost any kind of human interaction.
    Yes. I am STILL writing a novel. No. It’s not done yet.

  • Where Grace Dent Actually Likes to Eat
    Although my job is to heap fulsome praise on high-end restaurants, you’ll hear me often talk in equally florid terms about Pret a Manger. “As a Londoner with no family close by to care for me,” I heard myself say, in earnest recently, “Pret is a matriarchal figure in my life.
    A lot to be said for chain restaurants/outlets, for many reasons.

  • Creative Leadership
    In 1999 I made these four rules for myself to live by.
    As in business, so in life.

  • 20 Million Mosquitoes to Hit Fresno; That’s a Good Thing, Really
    The bug campaign, which starts Friday, is part of a plan by Alphabet Inc.’s Verily Life Sciences unit.
    Clever. But surely this kind of ‘tampering’ is… somewhere down the line, a bad thing?

  • Neiko Primus
    Neiko Primus had been in the gym for close to two hours, his shoelaces scraping the worn wooden floor and his bony arms tired from shooting, before he challenged a taller, stockier kid to a game of one-on-one.
    He certainly has the name to be famous, but yeah… give the kid a break!

  • ataribox
    Just leaving this here…

  • We Are Living in the Coen Brothers’ Darkest Comedy
    The Russians? HAL: Uh-huh. COX: The Russians? HAL: Uh-huh. Russian embassy, yeah. COX: Are you sure? HAL: Hey, the guy was not hard to follow. As you know. COX: Why the fuck would they go to the Russians?! Why the fuck?
    And who doesn’t love the Coen Brothers, right?

  • Apple’s risky balancing act with the next iPhone
    As there always are at this time of year, there are lots of rumors out there about what the next iPhone will be. This year we’re hearing that Apple is going to release a high-priced, next-generation phone in addition to the expected iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus models.
    iPhone Pro is the rumour. Part of me thinks YES PLEASE, part of me hopes Apples confounds

  • Creation and consumption
    There’s a pretty common argument in tech that though of course there are billions more smartphones than PCs, and will be many more still, smartphones are not really the next computing platform, just a computing platform.
    Nicely summarise my one irk with most tech reporting. Tech people have the Curse of Knowledge.

  • Here’s an Abbreviated List of Everything Anthony Bourdain Hates
    Over the Fourth of July, instead of thinking about hot dogs, hamburgers or where he’d placed his half-full can of domestic beer, something entirely different was troubling Anthony Bourdain. Fuck BABY DRIVER.
    I don’t agree with all of them, and HATE is a strong word but have to admire the passion!

  • Men Are Apparently Adopting Ambiguous Pen Names to Sell Psychological Thrillers to Women 
    Title says it all. Really not sure what I think about this.

  • The predictable double standards of the tabloids turning on Louise Redknapp
    Once upon a time, Louise Redknapp was a good girl, loved by all, but particularly loved by men for how fetching she looked in a bikini. No mere Sexiest Woman Of The Year award for Louise – in 2004, FHM named her Sexiest Woman Of The Decade.
    FUCK THIS NOISE! Why can’t people just be left to be people?

  • The Rise and Fall of F. Lee Bailey, the Lawyer Who Set O.J. Simpson Free
    Lee Bailey is forever ready to share brutal opinions on the lawyers who have crossed him over the years. Marcia Clark, who in the midst of a row during the O.J. Simpson trial called him a liar? “A harridan,” he growls.
    Revealing but not surprising, given how he came across

  • The Tastiest Medicine
    Until about middle school, I got an annual ear infection, as well as a bout of strep throat about once every two years. For these ailments, I would inevitably be prescribed what was referred to in my home as “the pink stuff”.
    Hands up if you know what this is about without reading the article? *puts hands up*

  • This Rare Medical Condition Makes You Love Everyone
    Not always. People with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic condition, face problems every bit as challenging as those with autism, from learning difficulties to trouble forming friendships.
    Fascinating article on a condition I hadn’t even heard of.

  • Google Glass 2.0 Is a Startling Second Act
    Don’t call Heather Erickson a glasshole. Yes, that’s Google Glass on her frames. But she’s not using it to check her Facebook, dictate messages, or capture a no-hands video while riding a roller coaster. Erickson is a 30-year-old factory worker in rural Jackson, Minnesota.
    No real surprise this, but a few years ‘proving’ in industry and this kind of tech will swing back into public usage at some point in the future.

  • England Unveils New 10-Pound Note Featuring Jane Austen
    The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, poses at Winchester Cathedral in England on Tuesday, with the new 10-pound note featuring the image of Jane Austen.
    A woman! The outrage! I bet it’s not even vegan…

  • Don’t Call Me the Girl in the Band
    Nandi Rose Plunkett is a vocalist and keyboardist in the indie rock band Pinegrove. She’s also the singer and multi-instrumentalist behind the synth-pop project Half Waif. I have been making music my whole life.
    Pinegrove are a band I’ve seen twice, this is a great piece from one of the members.

  • Wonder Woman is Great, But There’s a Real-Life Female Warrior You Need to Know About
    As one of the many people who crowded into theaters to watch Wonder Woman this summer, I couldn’t help but notice parallels between the Amazon princess and another, less widely known character: the real-life Chinese Nühanzi woman. Wonder Woman seemed like a breath of cinematic fresh air.
    More proof: women are awesome.

  • Hip-hop is bigger than rock music for the first time, thanks to nobody buying albums
    “Change—shit, I guess change is good for any of us,” Tupac raps at the start of one of his most beloved singles, recorded in 1995 and released the following year after his death.
    Or just a change in consumption, who buys albums of ANY kind these days?

  • Public Service Announcement: You Should Not Force Quit Apps on iOS
    The single biggest misconception about iOS is that it’s good digital hygiene to force quit apps that you aren’t using. The idea is that apps in the background are locking up unnecessary RAM and consuming unnecessary CPU cycles, thus hurting performance and wasting battery life.
    This! Double trouble if you’ve come to iOS from Android. Just SHTAP!

  • The world may have to spend as much as $7 trillion per year to remove carbon dioxide from the air
    The world has been slow to realize the immense financial and human costs of climate change. Would that change if we realized just how much worse it could get?
    The planet is so fucked.

  • Take a trip to Los Angeles’ new internet celebrity summer camp
    Jettzen Shea has a mop of pale blond hair and a voice that rings out like a little bell as he chimes in from the middle rows of Claremont McKenna College’s Pickford Auditorium. “I’m on Twitter,” he says.
    Part me is rolling my eyes HARD. The other part is sitting back and watching the changing of the guard. The internet will still have a lot to answer for in the future.

  • Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington Dead at 41
    Chester Bennington, best known as the lead singer of Linkin Park, has died, TMZ reports and bandmate Mike Shinoda confirms. His death was a suicide by hanging, according to the report. Bennington was 41 years old.
    Awful news. Mental health issues are real, and they don’t give a fuck who you are, rich or poor, famous or unknown. Make sure your loved ones know you are there. As are the Samaritans.

  • Why a Toaster Is a Design Triumph
    The “A Bit More” button doesn’t reinvent the appliance’s form. It finds its soul instead. Last year I fell in love with a toaster.
    It me! Not actually me, but this is totally in keeping with my last post on why I bought a new water bottle. Simple things people. Simple things.

Less is still less

      No Comments on Less is still less

I’ve recently donated a few books and some clothes to charity, sold a couple of no longer used items on Gumtree, and all because I bought a new water bottle to use at work; a 1 litre Camelbak Chute (yes the type of water bottle is important in this context, or at least, the design of it is).

I drink a lot of water thanks to being on a diuretic and to working in a perpetually warm office, so I drink at least 2 litres of water at work every day. The Camelbak Chute was a deliberate upgrade on my older (smaller) water bottle, which was cheap and would occasionally leak so I plumped for a better designed water bottle and was happy to pay a little extra for it.

The water bottle is one of those things I use everyday and, whilst it is performing a simple function, I like the form factor. It feels robust, the cap clicks in to the lid so you don’t lose it, and I especially like the fact the water pours out of it as opposed to the slow gurgle of the last one. I’m not quite sure it’s bringing me Kondo-esque joy but it’s definitely been a simple, happy, purchase that I appreciate every day.

It’s a small example of focussing on better, nicer, things that I’ve been increasingly conscious of since moving to a smaller flat.

In fact I was so impressed with it I bought a second (smaller) version to use at home and at the gym. Again, this is replacing a cheaper water bottle I picked up in Primark and, again, it feels like a big upgrade for such a simple item. It really is the little things, right?

After making my purchases, the two old water bottles sat forlornly on the kitchen window ledge for a couple of weeks until I realised I was just-in-case-ing them. I do not need four water bottles, hell I don’t really need one, but I can justify two (one stays at work, one stays at home). Yet for some reason I didn’t get rid of the other two for quite a while.

Thankfully the cheaper, now unused, water bottles were recycleable so off they went into the recycle bin and as I looked around I realised that, since moving flat and starting to replace old for ‘new and improved’ I had more things lying around that I no longer needed.

What else was lying there unused? Three recently read books on a shelf, a mirror propped against the wall in the bedroom, shirts I no longer fit in (because they are TOO BIG! HUZZAH!!), and a few other bits and bobs. It felt good to have a wee mini-clear out and that’s before I go back through some of the boxes of stuff I brought from my old flat and left to look at later.

Long-term I’m looking to focus more on replacing larger pieces of furniture but I’m going to try and do a more regular sweep of the things I own and make sure that I don’t end up with a flat full of stuff I don’t need or use.

All of that thanks to a simple purchase of something new.

And yes, this is all very much #firstworldproblems

Do something new

      2 Comments on Do something new

It’s a slow slow process, changing your behaviours. Especially given that I’ve honed mine with decades of practice, all driven by a set of internal rules that have governed every waking second since I was a child. It takes time, but it is happening. Slowly.

A lot of the focus of my counselling has been on self-compassion. Letting myself fail, not predicting the outcome of things in advance, stepping back when I’m under stress, and learning how to live in the moment. I’ve been able to identify various mechanisms that I have in place which, when flight or fight is triggered, can lead to “not good things”. For me it these “not good things” tend not to be displayed quickly (I can be short tempered and grumpy but that isn’t actually one of the signs) instead I’ll have some epic, private, blow-ups that very few people have had the misfortune to see/deal with.

The counselling isn’t easy, or rather keeping an eye on my emotions and reactions isn’t easy, but the whole experience has been worthwhile. It’s not over yet, this is a journey and all that, and for those who know me well, no, you probably can’t see any real difference in me day to day but trust me, it is working, I can feel the difference.

A small example which may mean nothing to you but is A BIG DEAL for me; I no longer break down my every waking hour into 30 minute segments, nor do I check the clock every 5 mins. Equally I’ve been late for a couple of things by a few minutes (things with fluid start times, like ‘I’ll be at your place at 2ish’ now mean just that, not 2pm on the dot…).

So the short version of the above is that there’s a lot of stuff that has been going on and it’s going well. I’m feeling good, balanced, calm and the hard work is paying off. Go me!

Chatting to my counsellor last week and one thing she pointed out – or rather guided me to realise – was that I’m still operating in my ‘comfort zone’. It’s easier to catch myself before I head into fight/flight mode because I’m at the same place of work, or with the same group of people, so I have a level of comfort and familiarity which makes it easier to process my emotions in those spaces.

Next up I need to get out of my comfort zone and find some new things to try.

Current ideas are:

  • Get a piano and sign up for piano lessons.
  • Go for a weekend spiritual retreat.
  • Attend a creative writing course.

The piano idea is a big one. I had lessons and passed most of the exams when I was a kid. Going back to it would mean confronting the fact I ‘failed’ at it (because I gave it up when I was 14) and let my parents down (which I didn’t at all, but my inner critic will gleefully grab anything it can to throw in my way). But… I remember that I did enjoy it at times, particularly as I got more advanced and started to move away from the purely classical pieces and on to tackling things like The Entertainer by Scott Joplin, and some Billy Joel tracks (yes yes, the Piano Man, I know).

The weekend spiritual retreat is the ‘easiest’ as it is really an extension, or heightening, of my current meditiation habit (which has built to almost every day, even if only for 10 mins or so) but it would be unfamiliar and lead me to confront myself even more which, in itself, would be a challenge. 10 mins of meditation is calming, a full weekend could be very revealing and painful. But that’s kinda the point.

Lastly the creative writing course sounds interesting and fun but I’ll need to watch out I’m not approaching it with the mindset of ‘not failing’ it. Equally, given I have a wonky/shoddy first draft of a short novel written, how is that going to look? Ahhh but that’s my inner critic at work again, who cares about the first draft, it is not something to be judged, instead I WROTE THE FIRST DRAFT OF A NOVEL is where my focus should be (and is, I’m really proud I managed that).

I’ve not decided which (all?) of these to try and I might end up doing something else completely, but given where I am now, compared to where I was when I started the counselling, I’m excited to push things on and see how it goes. After all, what’s the worse that can happen?

I also realise that I’m becoming more and more a walk cliche of ‘live for today’, ‘be in the now’, and more, but the weird thing about cliches is that, a lot of the time, they are actually true.

In other news, all those people who say to eat healthily and be more active are on to something… but that’s a different post for another day.

Weekend Reading

      No Comments on Weekend Reading
  • From Xena to Wonder Woman: The Physics of Female Fighters
    General Antiope (Robin Wright) moves seamlessly among the training Amazons, checking each move, giving directions for correction where necessary. The women’s moves are accurate and dynamic, often closely resembling contemporary dance or professional gymnastics.
    Yet another reason why WW is kicking ass (it’s also just passed Deadpool for highest grossing accolades)

  • Critic’s Notebook: The Post-Review, Post-Premiere, Post-Finale World of Peak TV
    I tried to take a vacation — well, more accurately, a “staycation” — last week. Pretty much any TV critic can tell you how that went. Badly. Unless you’re in the woods, on some distant island or in a foreign country, the remote is too close.
    Couldn’t agree with this more, and I think it’s odd when some shows are still ‘weekly episodes’ (hi American Gods, lookin’ at you!)

  • The Algorithms Behind Moana’s Gorgeously Animated Ocean
    Disney’s engineers used special software to make a magical, authentic body of water. In the early days, when motion pictures were still new, filming the ocean was a radical idea.
    Not seen this yet (not sure why not) but whoa how beautiful does it look!

  • Inside the extreme Facebook fandom for old rental VHS tapes
    Featuring a £360 Jaws tape, four rooms full of 10,000 videos, and a man known only as “The Mayor”. On a sunny September day in 2016, Scott Bates stood in a Doncaster parking lot, waiting for a delivery of 1,250 VHS tapes.
    I remember taking a couple of boxes of VHS tapes to the dump about 10 years ago…

  • Green Day Crowd Singing Bohemian Rhapsody
    Between the Foos covering Under Pressure at Glasto and stuff like this, a Queen renaissance happening? Miss you Freddie!

  • Whodunnits : Five Books
    Looking down your list, most of these books are more than half a century old. That’s true actually, now you come to mention it.
    Who doesn’t love a well curated list. This site has LOADS of them (but this is the link that took me to it in the first place)

  • Hollywood Has a Bad-Movie Problem
    Domestic audiences are rejecting this summer’s procession of tired sequels, and international grosses won’t be enough to keep studios afloat forever. Take a quick glance at the box-office returns for June, and you could draw an easy conclusion: Hollywood has a franchise problem.
    One word: Transformers.

  • Nest Founder: “I Wake Up In Cold Sweats Thinking, What Did We Bring To The World?”
    Tony Fadell’s wife likes to remind him when their three children’s eyes are glued to their screens that it’s at least partly his fault. Hard to argue.
    Realising I rarely link to articles on the flip side of this, the internet can be good!

  • If information overload is stressing you out, go on a silence diet
    In the beginning, there was the word. Now, there’s a deluge of language. On average, Americans consume 34 gigabytes of content and encounter 100,000 written words from various sources in a single day.
    Remember when this blog was called Informationally Overloaded? Was a drop in the ocean!

  • STOP SCREAMING IN MY HOME
    Creators of content on the internet are very commonly creators of community. Often times, this community is the most interesting and the most valuable part of making stuff, and many creators require that relationship to inspire them to make stuff.
    Dealing with hatred online is never easy because cattle prods can’t reach through the screen… yet…

  • The Hacker Who Cared Too Much
    One afternoon in a modest, hilltop home in West Hartford, Connecticut, Linda Pelletier, a sandy-blond mother of four, opened a greeting card from her 15-year-old daughter, Justina. To her surprise, a small, intricately folded piece of paper slipped out from inside. It was an origami fortune teller.
    This is not the story you think it’s going to be. Heartwrenching.

  • Mindfulness: It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
    Here’s an old post on mindfulness, revamped now that I’m returning to the topic for the 2nd edition of my book Rewriting the Rules. What makes something mindful or mindless? I’ve been interested in mindfulness for many years now.
    Yes to this, many times over! Your mindfulness is not my mindfulness.

  • I reverse-engineered Buzzfeed’s most viral posts and the truth is shocking!
    Anyone who has ever produced content for the web knows how torturously tough it is to even get people to click on your post and read it; forget going viral, especially when you don’t have any furs in your content. (Read: Cats and dogs, who seem to have a god-given right to internet virality).
    Probably a ‘must read’ if you’ve used the internet at all in the last few years!

  • This app is trying to replicate you
    Hi Mike, how’s it going? Pretty good.
    The geek in me loves this. The paranoid sceptic in me is running away.

  • Toy Story lessons for the Internet of Things
    Have you ever thought of the Toy Story films as sci fi? I think they have many interesting themes that could apply to the Internet of Things.
    Bit of a stretch but hey, who doesn’t love Toy Story, right?

  • The case for taking forever to finish reading books
    For a long time I’ve been reading one book. It’s been five years since I started In Search of Lost Time, and I’m only two-thirds the way through. That’s fine with me.
    See also: the case for just stop reading that book if you aren’t enjoying it (hi there, The Sellout, looking at you!)

  • Why do we still insist on calling women “Miss” or “Mrs”? 
    “And is it ‘Miss’ Wilkinson or ‘Mrs’?” the woman serving me at my local bank asks. “It’s ‘Ms’,” I reply. She gives me a strange look, then responds coolly: “I’ll put ‘Miss’. ‘Ms’ is only for divorced women and you look way young to be divorced.”
    I did a learn (it’s what us privileged types should do).

  • The 100 Greatest Props in Movie History, and the Stories Behind Them
    They’re found on dusty warehouse shelves; buried under flea market knick-knacks; Googled, Ebayed, begged for; commissioned from blacksmiths, painters, and model makers for one-time use; and constructed out of whatever $5 can buy at the local craft store.
    Geek alert, geek alert! I FUCKIN LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!

  • Scientists teleport particle into space in major breakthrough for quantum physics
    Scientists have successfully teleported something into space for the first time ever. The experiment saw Chinese scientists send a photon up away from Earth, further than ever before.
    Whoa. Sci-fi is now just Sci.

  • Successful solo polyamory and control
    There are a few things to address here that have to do with what you’ve chosen and how you go about what you’re hoping to achieve. I’m assuming that by choosing to do solo polyamory that you have thought about why polyamory is the right approach for you and what it means for you.
    Breadcrumb for myself mostly…

  • This is the worst 20 seconds of soccer ever
    It’s “the beautiful game”—apart from those times when it’s not.
    Can’t stop watching! HILARIOUS BADLY!!

A week off

      No Comments on A week off

(aka a wee cough)

With 10 weeks of BootCamp behind me, I was looking forward to changing up my exercise routine, trying some of the other classes at the gym, and getting out on my bike ahead of this years Pedal for Scotland.

Mostly though, I was just chuffed that I had stumbled into what I believe is called an ‘exercise routine’ and so it was a pretty easy to just keep going and keep up the same habits I’d had to adopt during BootCamp. I was working on the basis that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and I was feeling great; logging my food, exercising and meditating regularly, and all was good with the world.

For about a week or so.

Then along came the summer lurgy which wiped me out for a couple of weeks and I’ll admit that there was some bigly wagon off falling for me. Exercise routine, food logging, meditation, all (like Keyser Söze) gone.

Go big or go home is a ‘motto’ that I’ve embraced since first hearing it when I was getting a tattoo done. Go big or go home! No point in doing something if you aren’t all in, right?

And boy oh boy was I all in, embracing my now wagon-less state.

I did no exercise, stopped cooking for myself and ordered takeaway food most nights of the week. I also bought and ate my body-weight in crisps and chocolate and, as I was sleeping most of the time when I wasn’t working, did little to no meditation. In no surprise to anyone I put on some weight, which I expected, but only served to re-enforce the feeling that the previous 10 weeks had been for nothing (which I know isn’t true but tell my inner critic that, I daresya).

Equally as the lurgy robbed me of pretty much any energy at all, my flat got messy, dishes piled up, clothes went unwashed. Go big or go home! And boy did I ever, almost revelling in how fully I was embracing slob life.

Who’s that gut lord marching, you should cut down on your porklife mate, get some exercise! SLOB LIFE!

Of course the lurgy passed, and when it did I tidied and cleaned my flat, I washed the Ben Nevis stack of dishes, then emptied my cupboards of crap and bought my body-weight in chicken, tuna, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and fruit. And, in an effort to hop back on that exercise bandwagon again, I did what any sane* person would do and promptly signed up for the next session of BootCamp.

I know, I know, I know I said I wasn’t going to but after doing a couple of Conditioning and Strength classes I realised that I actually prefer the HIIT format and missed the camaraderie of being in a large group of nutters all trying not to die whilst exercising muscles that we didn’t even know existed.

Plus my best mate had already signed up so it would be a nice surprise for him…

And lo, because I’m doing BootCamp I’m once again eating better to make sure I have enough fuel to survive each session, and my flat is constantly tidy again because… well, because I’m not ill and tend to be tidy anyway… but that’s by the by. Equally, I now have a ’10 week goal’ which I’ll use to game myself to be healthy and lose a little more weight again, even though that isn’t really the goal at all as I now have enough energy to get on with stuff which, in turn, also makes it easier for me to deal with my aforementioned inner critic.

Admittedly, I am a little worried about my psyche as BootCamp is HARD (Go big or go home, right!) but then I’ve always enjoyed a little pain and suffering so I’m not really all that surprised.

There you have it then, a week or so of being ill, of beating myself up for failing, quickly put behind me this too is a new thing and I’m liking it, onwards band-wagon, ho!

All of the above means I’m back to Wednesday evening and Saturday morning BootCamp sessions, and this time I’m also doing a Conditioning class every Monday evening. Which, as one of the trainers suggested, is “mental” but hey, I’m back in the groove so why the hell not. Go big or… you get the picture.

And finally, because this is important for me and my state of mind (hush up, inner critic!), this was pretty much a spur of the moment decision. I didn’t look ahead at my calendar to see how many Friday nights out I have in the coming weeks, I didn’t look at what else was happening on Wednesday evenings that I might have scheduled, I just booked it knowing I’d sort that stuff out at a later date. And that, for this perfectionist and consistent planner, is very much a win and a further sign that the counselling is paying off.

In short (tl;dr) I’m allowing myself to feel proud of me (it feels weird!) and not letting a few days of being ill set me back.

Now, I just need someone remind me of all of this when I’m struggling to climb four flights of stairs when I get to work…

* yes, this is a new definition of sane. You do have to be a specific kind of lunatic to do BootCamp

TRNSMT Festival : Radiohead

      No Comments on TRNSMT Festival : Radiohead

Last Friday I took a day off work to go and walk about Glasgow Green, on the opening day of the inaugural year of TRNSMT Festival.

And no, I don’t know why they don’t like vowels.

The festival ran the entire weekend – with Kasabian and Biffy Clyro the headliners on Saturday and Sunday respectively – but I was happy enough to score a one day ticket, ostensibly to see one of my favourite all-time bands, Radiohead. The last time I saw them was also at Glasgow Green, on a dreich evening with a weird atmosphere, and it was a bit of a disappointment. Not so this time round!

I arrived around 3pm, quickly made it through security (well organised and friendly too) and set about exploring the site just as Everything Everything started their set. Aside from the main stage, there was a second smaller stage sponsored by King Tuts, the Jack Rocks tent (guess the bourbon sponsor for that one), and the Smirnoff DJ bus. Given the size of the site, I think the layout was ideal, it didn’t feel crammed and there weren’t any noticeable pinch points either. Admittedly that may have changed during the downpours on Sunday.

The line-up on Friday was a bit of a mixed bag for my tastes but I was suitably impressed with what I heard from Rag N Bone man (that guy has got a set of pipes) and although London Grammar sounded very beautiful it seemed an odd choice for a main stage (clearly I was in a minority given the crowds). I spent more time in the early afternoon at the King Tuts stage listening to Be Charlotte, Saint Motel, Honne, and Louis Berry. I even managed to squeeze in a couple of wanders back to the Jack Rocks tent (and so discovered The Sundowners and Black Honey).

A minor criticism would be the on-stage timings; It seemed, more than once, that all the live acts finished their sets around the same time meaning there was a lull in proceedings across the site. It was at those times that I, and many others, gravitated towards the thumping bass emanating from the Smirnoff dance bus, hidden away in a wee glade down next to the river, which had a constant stream of DJs lined up.

It was great to see local businesses strongly represented on-site, with many of the food stalls given over to the likes of Marthas and Nomad, and overall it seemed pretty well organised, even if they were a couple of minor last minute fixes going on (one of which to put up some screening round the gents urinals!).

So far, I was enjoying my afternoon, wandering around and soaking in the fun, friendly, atmosphere, itself a nice change from the moronity that T in the Park had become.

And then, all of a sudden, it was time for Radiohead.

First things first, no, they didn’t play Creep. I wasn’t that bothered myself, although it would’ve been good to hear the mass sing-a-long it would have started. Ohhh and they didn’t play Just either, not that anyone seems to mind that (except me).

It was about 9.40pm when they crept on-stage and immediately launched into two tracks from OK Computer; Let Down which worked surprisingly well as a set opener, and then Lucky which soared much higher than it does on the album.

From there they ran the gamut of newer tracks and fan favourites, treating us to the full range of the exploration and sonic devices they’ve toyed with from OK Computer onwards. There, There and 2 + 2 = 5 were nice reminders that when they put their mind to it they are a very good rock band, Ful Stop and Everything In Its Right Place pushing them out into thumping bass driven dance music, all underpinned by that ridiculous voice that seems to be getting better and richer with age.

One thing you cannot say Thom Yorke lacks is emotion (even if it’s very controlled), and whilst the crowd interaction was minimal, the big screens showed his commitment and love of what he was doing with smiles and fond glances out to the crowd. In fact everyone on-stage looked like they were having fun, with pleny of smiles going round from band member to band member. Age changes us all? A happy Radiohead?

Two encores zipped us back to OK Computer, with a huge roar for Paranoid Android and, yes, I shed a tear when they played Fake Plastic Trees* (I always do), and then it was a quick final trip back to The Bends before a rousing send-off with perennial favourite Karma Police, the crowd well enough versed to continue repeating the final refrain as the band left the stage.

And then it was all over and, as I sat on the last bus home I realised just how perfectly that final song had captured my experience. For one day, in the heart of my home city, wandering round a festival site, bumping into friends, chatting to strangers, enjoying cider in the early evening sun, I was transported out of the city and into the festival bubble where I happily lost myself, if only for a few hours.

* bonus, all three Glasto performances sync’d in one video

Weekend Reading

      No Comments on Weekend Reading
  • Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?
    There are three popular explanations for the clear under-representation of women in management, namely: (1) they are not capable; (2) they are not interested; (3) they are both interested and capable but unable to break the glass-ceiling: an invisible career barrier, based on prejudiced stereotypes.
    Where is the big switch that flips all this? PLEASE!

  • The Strange History of ‘O Canada’
    By the time my family moved to Quebec in 1968, the province had long since stopped singing Canada’s national anthem. At age seven, I attended an English public school on the south shore of Montreal.
    I get the feeling most national anthems go through similar ebbs and flows. Now, about Flower of Scotland.

  • Roxane Gay’s Complicated “Hunger”
    Roxane Gay has several personae, but she first garnered Internet fame as a diarist.
    Brutal honest writing. May not be an easy read for some, but you should try.

  • Nina Simone in Liberia
    Someone who knew Nina Simone well—a Liberian friend of hers, I suppose a mutual friend now—told me a story. Liberia’s past is in pieces, he said, and here’s one of them. Maybe it’s the one you’re looking for.
    I love these types of articles, that build a fuller picture of someone so iconic (about whom my knowledge is scant)

  • This Is Why The Minions Are So Popular
    I played a clip of the Minions covering the Beach Boys hit “Barbara Ann” and instructed my classroom of 4- and 5-year-olds to sing along.
    Banana? BAAANNAAANNNAAAAA (my first introduction to these mental yellow dudes)

  • From Ptolemy to GPS, the Brief History of Maps
    We now have the whole world in our hands, but how did we get here? Last spring, a 23-year-old woman was driving her car through the Ontario town of Tobermory. It was unfamiliar territory for her, so she was dutifully following her GPS.
    Who doesn’t love a map? Who doesn’t struggle with GPS directions? Ohhh just me…??

  • Lectureporn: The Vulgar Art of Liberal Narcissism
    Joan Didion began covering political campaigns in 1988. By then, she had switched to being a Democrat, which did little to change her views of the world or change her life in any tangible way. This made her incredibly skeptical about America’s two-party system.
    Is THIS the problem with liberals? Perhaps. I know the flags go up for me when the words start to ‘flourish’.

  • The chills we get from listening to music are a biological reaction to surprise
    Think of your favorite song of all time. Play it, even. Take a moment to get lost in the rhythm, the melody, the lyrics, and whatever they make you feel. Good to go? Great.
    Radiohead, Just. Metallica, Nothing Else Matters. Every time. Goosebumps.

  • Eight Bites
    As they put me to sleep, my mouth fills with the dust of the moon. I expect to choke on the silt but instead it slides in and out, and in and out, and I am, impossibly, breathing. Back on Earth, Dr. U is inside me. Her hands are in my torso, her fingers searching for something.
    An insider view of bariatric surgery (not LITERALLY inside… sheesh, and ewwww).

  • Knife-wielding stabbing machine could help solve violent crimes
    When a person gets stabbed, rips in the victim’s clothing may contain clues to help catch the attacker.
    Ohhh a robot… an ARMED robot! Yes, of course this is a wonderful idea…

  • From the Quiet of Wimbledon, the Loud Groan of the Crowd
    Tradition is as much a part of the Wimbledon experience as the grass itself, from the predominantly white clothing rule to the strawberries and cream sold around the grounds of the All England Club.
    Ahhh yes, the politely mannered British at their… best?

  • This Insane Greek Fireworks Battle Puts Your July 4th to Shame
    Every Easter on the Greek island of Chios, two churches host an ancient ritual in which residents on either side of town fire some 100,000 handmade rockets at the bell tower of the opposing church — while worship takes place inside.
    WHOOAAAA!

  • Faster Than the Speed of Sound: An Interview with Holly Maniatty
    Holly Maniatty is moving faster than anyone in the Wu-Tang Clan. She bounces up and down, her whole body undulates, her hands fly as she signs, her eyes flare precisely, her mouth articulates the lyrics.
    ASL at a rap concert. A whole level of skill and hard work (video)

  • Exile in Guyville
    For Interview magazine, singer-songwriter Liz Phair talks with author Elizabeth Wurtzel, whose first book, Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America, originally published in 1997, has just been re-released with a new afterword by the author.
    Never read Prozac Nation, but big fan of Liz Phair.

  • Itamar Simonson: What Makes People Collect Things?
    Everyone knows someone who collects things — whether it’s refrigerator magnets or political bumper stickers.
    Hello Kitty, football shirts, a lot of collections in the news this week, but why?

  • New map records massacres of Aboriginal people in Frontier Wars
    Rottnest Island: Black prison to white playground Related Story: Claims Tasmania’s Aboriginal naming policy not inclusive Related Story: What are kids today learning about Tasmania’s Aboriginal history?
    Righting historical wrongs. White men have a lot to answer for.

  • Why We Lie: The Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways
    In the fall of 1989 Princeton University welcomed into its freshman class a young man named Alexi Santana, whose life story the admissions committee had found extraordinarily compelling. He had barely received any formal schooling.
    Turns out it’s not just because your pants are on fire (which never made any sense anyway)

  • How Ford’s New CEO Plans To Beat Tesla, Uber, And Google
    In April 2017, the Ford Motor Company–114 years old, the second largest carmaker in the country behind General Motors, a stalwart of American manufacturing–was suddenly worth less than 14-year-old Tesla.
    Smart. New CEO. One to watch?

  • People are now snorting chocolate to get high
    It really is nose candy. Coco Loko — a “snortable” blend of cacao powder, plants and organic compounds like ginkgo biloba, taurine and guarana — is getting buzz as a drug-free high.
    What the… I mean… what?

  • Why You Will One Day Have a Brain Computer Interface
    Implanting a microchip inside the brain to augment its mental powers has long been a science fiction trope. Now, the brain computer interface is suddenly the hot new thing in tech. This spring, Elon Musk started a new company, Neuralink, to do it.
    Science fiction is faster and faster becoming science fact. This is fascinating, scary, and exciting.

  • Why Are So Many Bottles “Sqround”?
    They’ve all embraced the same type of bottle for their products. It’s not exactly a square. And it’s not exactly round. “The official term is ‘sqround,’” says John Zelek, Senior Creative at Soylent. The company’s new bottles are shipping now.
    No no no. NO. Sqround is NOT A WORD!!

Upcoming gigs

      No Comments on Upcoming gigs

Turns out I’ve been stealthily filling my calendar with gigs, so much so that I almost repeated my epic fail of last year by double booking two on the same night (sorry Wolf Alice but War on Drugs beat you to the date this year).

The list, so far…

And yes, this is exactly why I preface calendar events with an emoji.

And for a nice change, most of the bands listed above I’ve never seen live before. Weezer and Gorillaz being the stand outs; Weezer are one of those ‘how have I NOT seen you live before now’ kinda bands for me given I’ve been perennial favourites for coughs 20 years?

Elsewhere, the last time I saw Radiohead at Glasgow Green it was… interesting … and a bit of a (literal) damp squib so hopefully this time round (this Friday!) it’ll be better. If they put on a show half as good as their Glastonbury headline set from last weekend we are in for a treat.

Having seen Royal Blood at the Barrowlands I’m intrigued as to how they will ‘fill’ the Hydro sound/performance wise but their Glastonbury set suggests it won’t be a problem!

Then there is the small matter of Band of Skulls at a tiny venue in deepest darkest Paisley, the ever wonderful KT Tunstall at the Kelvingrove bandstand (please don’t rain!), and Grizzly Bear I’ve seen before but will need to get back to their stuff as it’s been a while but their gig was a fun one. Not the most eclectic list of gigs ever, but I don’t care. If 2016 taught me anything it’s GO AND SEE LIVE MUSIC WHILE YOU CAN!

And yes, I AM considering Katy Perry tickets.

If you are going along to any of these, gimme a shout, always more fun in a crowd!

June in Review

      No Comments on June in Review

Lived

Highlights

Aside from that, counselling still going well, so well that we’ve paused my visits and I get to fly solo for a while. Meditation has slipped the past couple of weeks so need to get back to that, and a few days of flu-like symptoms has stopped me from going to the gym and I’m missing it.

Me. Missing going to the gym. Who’d a thunk it!

Stepcount: 258,261.

Read

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Read this for Book Club. Didn’t actually GO to book club as I was full of the cold but I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. It’s engagely written and you are quickly taken back to those school days when you discovered friendship and more with someone else. The fondness, the excitement, the building love of the two main characters as they slowly discover each other and themselves was endearing.

Watched

Wonder Woman
There has been a lot written about this and rightly so. Massive box office hit featuring a strong female lead (not the first strong female lead but I don’t think Alien opened as strongly at the cinema?) and directed by a woman. In no shock to a lot of people it was smart, funny, and less focused on the usual superhero mantras of ‘power’ and ‘dominance’ (the fact that Wonder Woman has both is never the focus).

And it was funny. And moving. And well balanced. And (mostly) well paced (that final fight scene was a bit too long for my tastes). It was fantastic and I really hope this is more of the direction that DC take with their superhero storylines, can you imagine Justice League being less focused on the men? That’d be something.

Also good

  • American Gods – finally started watching this and it’s growing on me. Visually stunning, echoes of Hannibal, and Gillian Anderson at her scene stealing best (although Crispin Glover brings his usual ‘weird’ to play with chilling effect).
  • OITNB – an odd season give it’s set over the course of a few days, and OMG how good is Uzo Aduba (Suzanne)! Strong performances throughout as well.

Listened

Glastonbury
I’m seeing Radiohead this week and their headline set makes me hopeful for a repeat in Glasgow. Foo Fighters did what they do best, rocked hard for 2 and a bit hours and yes, their cover of Under Pressure brought tears. Katy Perry looked like a lot of fun, Barry Gibb was unsuprisingly excellent (why are the Sunday evening ‘headliners’ still surprising people? They’ve been doing this shit for decades!). Elbow and The Killers as ‘surprise’ acts would’ve been amazing to see for the buzz that generated. Kinda gutted I was watching it all from a sofa, but glad I was able to share the Saturday night with friends.