bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

  • The Problem with Muzak
    Imagine you are in an airport, and you have forgotten to eat lunch. It’s a mistake you will pay for with a dull, expensive dinner.
    I like Spotify but also aware it is limiting my musical view. Something for 2018 I think…

  • Former Facebook executive has sworn off social media because he doesn’t want to be “programmed”
    While Facebook’s business is booming and the company continues to expand its tentacles to every corner of the internet, its early employees and investors are growing more and more vocal about the damage it has wrought among its users.
    Maybe something else for 2018, cut back on FB. Time to delete from my phone?

  • For the Good of Society — and Traffic! — Delete Your Map App
    I live on an obnoxiously quaint block in South Berkeley, California, lined with trees and two-story houses. There’s a constant stream of sidewalk joggers before and after work, and plenty of (good) dogs in the yards. Trick-or-treaters from distant regions of the East Bay invade on Halloween.
    Rat runs can be deadly and cause more problems than the roadworks you are avoiding. Map apps help expose those. Maybe just take your time? Why all the rush??

  • 6-year-old made $11 million in one year reviewing toys on You Tube
    When most people think back on the child celebrities of their time, they may think of child movie actors, the well-trained stars of showbiz. For some, these were stars such as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, or Macaulay Culkin of “Home Alone” fame.
    WHIT!! I fear I sound very old when I say I’m not sure what the world is coming to these days

  • ‘Women are better writers than men’: novelist John Boyne sets the record straight
    Male authors are always pronouncing their own brilliance – or boasting about not reading books by women. So, after a lifetime of writing and attending literary festivals, John Boyne would like to get something off his chest …
    This should NOT be a surprise.

  • What do we teach small children about consent?
    Last night, my daughter asked me to snuggle in with her under her duvet to sing her a bedtime song. I obliged, and gently tickled her feet. “No! No more tickling!” she giggled, while at the same time pressing her feet to my hands in a way I know is indicative of wanting to be tickled more.
    Very aware of this with a smol niece around.

  • According to a Harvard Psychologist, People Judge You …
    Judging people is less a conscious choice and more an instinct. No shame, we all do it. But when you’re being judged, or you’re the one doing the judging, the stain on your shirt isn’t the deal maker or breaker. (Relax, no one even notices the tiny things you freak out over, anyway.)
    Another ‘scientists point out the bleedin’ obvious’ article? Well kinda but not quite (it’s me, not you).

  • Merriam-Webster’s 2017 Words of the Year
    Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2017 is feminism. The word was a top lookup throughout the year, with several spikes that corresponded to various news reports and events.
    This is both pleasing (that people are checking what the word means) and worrying (that people have to check what the word means).

  • Seedless Avocados Are Here to Keep You From Cutting Off Your Hands
    Here’s a new item in the produce aisle for people who adore avocados but are terrified of slicing the fruit themselves: seedless avocados. The strange product, which looks more like a cucumber or zucchini, is being featured by British retail chain Marks & Spencer.
    Do we REALLY need to tamper with nature so much?

  • A Drone’s Eye View of New York
    We first got to know Humza Deas three years ago, when he was a 17-year-old self-taught photographer taking the sorts of thrilling pictures of the city, often from places he wasn’t technically supposed to be, which someone who is maybe no longer a teenager would probably not attempt.
    Never been to NY, these images are driving it further up the ‘visit’ list for sure.

  • The Reckoning: Women and Power in the Workplace
    As revelations of sexual harassment break, women have been discussing the fallout and how to move forward. Here, women from across the working world take on this complicated conversation.
    Frank and revealing conversations. Still so much to learn.

  • The best compliment you can give, according to Meryl Streep
    Meryl Streep, known to many as the Queen of Hollywood, is no stranger to praise. She’s received more Academy Award nominations than any actor (20 in total), and three Oscars and eight Golden Globes under her belt.
    Aforementioned niece will be hearing this one a LOT.

  • Red Dawn in Lapland
    It was a frigid January morning on the outskirts of a Finnish military base, 62 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Daylight was still four hours away and would cast off again by midafternoon. Through darkness and gently falling snow, I could see only one of the soldiers skiing in a line ahead of me.
    Bonkers but fascinating. I do love these articles of things I’m completely unaware of.

  • Seven Years
    Have linked to this website before. This one though… *wipes tear*

  • 010: Sigrid Veasey: The Science of Sleep
    Chronic sleep loss is the silent creativity killer. It impacts your attention, your memory, your moods, and your ability to “think outside the box.”
    And yes, we are ALL suffering chronic sleep loss.

  • Wine glasses are almost seven times bigger than they were 300 years ago
    Thank Christ it’s 2017 (there’s a statement I didn’t think I’d make this year!)

  • Disney and Fox
    It’s always a risk writing about a deal before it is official: CNBC reported a month ago that Disney was in talks to acquire many of 21st Century Fox’s assets, including its eponymous movie studio, TV production company, cable channels, and international assets.
    So what? Well if you watch Netflix at all, this is big news (and once again, us customers are the ones that will get stung)

  • Can Smiling While Exercising Improve Performance?
    Many athletes have been told that smiling while sweating will make our efforts feel easier.
    HAHAHAHAHAAAA sorry… I’m always too busy bitching and moaning to smile!

bookmark_borderBootCamp is Dead

My third (and final) BootCamp is over.

That’s 10 weeks, two sessions a week, of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

DONE.

No longer will I be getting up and going to the gym at 9am on a Saturday morning!

This was my third BootCamp in a row and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing people who have inspired me along the way and kept me motivated to turn up. Safe to say that the camaraderie is what kept me going back and that is down to the atmosphere of the gym and the trainers. I WANT to go this gym, even after the very first, nervous, BootCamp session I knew I would be back.

This is not a place full of people pounding treadmills (there aren’t any) or GETTING PUMPED at Spin class (there are no bikes). And despite the fact that the gym is more focused on lifting and mobility, there are no gurning, muscle bound idiots, slamming weights around and staring at themselves in mirrors (because there aren’t any mirrors). I hadn’t fully realised just how much of an intimidating and ‘not nice’ place a lot of gyms can be, and whilst some are now countering these with women-only areas (which is great) it leaves guys like me who also have body confidence issues feeling isolated and awkward.

So whilst there is no more BootCamp, a change of format and name means I’ll be doing three sessions a week as part of the new Team Training sessions. There will be a little more focus on lifting than solely HIIT, and I cannot wait to get started. To prepare I’ve been going to an additional class which is structured a little more that way and there is something oddly satisfying at raising a proper barbell over your head! (and it had 5kg weights on it too!).

I’ve been thinking ahead to 2018, not in a resolution kinda way, more just pondering a few things to try (more on that soon) but, for once, one thing that isn’t part of that thought process is ‘exercise’ because, somewhere in my brain, it’s just part of who I am now. Even typing that sentence still feels a little weird!

And, because I am now ‘one of those’ people who go to the gym regularly, I think I’m allowed to pass on my wisdom in a slightly preachy manner (exercise is a religion after all!). So, to those of you who are ‘resolved’ to exercise more, maybe don’t plan to focus on anything other than finding a place/people that fit what you want. Finding somewhere that isn’t full of the uber-fits or the muscle bound twats clanging weights around has made such a huge difference to my desire to be at the gym, as is the knowledge that when I go I know I will be spending time with some truly lovely, supportive, powerful and uplifting people.

For the record, the gym I go to is AGFitness, they have a variety of sessions, and Personal Trainer options as well.

bookmark_borderSix by Nico: Disney

What a year it’s been at Six by Nico, and what a way to finish out 2017. So popular was their announcement of their ‘Disney’ menu that their website and booking system crashed, and they’ve had to open up on a Monday to cope with demand. I was glad we book well in advance (roll on January 11th for the next visit).

But all the noise on social media begs the question, was it any good?

The menu for our seventh visit (from the website):

  1. RATATOUILLE – Ratatouille / Comte Espuma / Dijon Crumble
  2. MAD HATTER TEA PARTY – Chicken & Tarragon ‘Sandwich’ / Mushroom Tea / Truffle Empire Biscuit
  3. SWORD & THE STONE – Stone Bass & Swordfish Ceviche / Miso Vinegerette / Avocado / Tapioca
  4. LADY & THE TRAMP – Angel Hair Pasta / Shellfish Bisque / Seaweed Crumb
  5. ALADDIN – Lamb Belly / Prune / Pearl Cous Cous / Jasmine Tea
  6. BEAUTY & THE BEAST – Rose Panna Cotta / Lychee / Almond Sponge / Pomegranate

But first, as always, Snacks!

RABBITS VEGETABLE GARDEN – Crudites, Beetroot Hummus, Lime Creme Fraiche, Olives

Beetroot hummus with little heads of romanesco broccoli, shards of beetroot crisp, and a tart creme fraiche. What’s not to like? Wonderfully earthy and fresh, although I avoided the olives, and a nice palate cleanser before the first course. Admittedly the Queen of Hearts apertif also helped; Edinburgh Raspberry Gin & Tonic, with love heart sweets. Pretty sure I have a little bottle of that at home…

Thankfully there were no rats evident in the kitchen prior to the first course of Ratatouille. Neatly presented (although part of me wishes they’d done it ‘a la movie’) the vegetables were tasty enough, the tomato base was a little thin and the star was the thick, rich Comte Espuma; one of my favourite cheeses which definitely elevated this dish but overall it didn’t really hit the mark for me.

Next up, our decidedly non-Mad Hatter server, placed a silver platter in the middle of the table; tea cups ready, a clear tea pot with a dark rich looking tea, a sandwich triangle, empire biscuit and cupcake for each of us. Ohhh and some green ‘ketchup’ to go with the sandwich. First up the mushroom tea, ohhh my heavens, rich, deep, with a real umami hit I could’ve had the entire pot to myself! But no, pace yourself because you have a chicken sandwich to eat before you get to your sweets. And oh what a delicious sandwich, entirely made from chicken (no bread here) with a squirt of tarragon ‘ketchup’ it was a delicious, moist, chicken toastie at its best. Washing it down with the last mouthfuls of mushroom tea was a delight. The empire biscuit was good, two thick parmesan rounds, a hint of truffle inside, and a quince dot to add a nice little sweet tartness. The beetroot and goats cheese cupcake was ok but perhaps not really needed, given the quality of the other components on the tray.

Ceviche next and whilst I couldn’t tell which was Stone Bass and which was Swordfish both tasted wonderfully fresh. The accompanying parts of the dish were good, although the tapioca didn’t really bring much to the party, but the avocado and crunchy little morsels of vinegarette (I think!) cut through everything both in taste and texture. Smartly done.

Ahhh Lady & the Tramp and the iconic spaghetti scene. Thankfully you don’t have to recreate it to enjoy what was, for me, the star of the evening. From seeing earlier photos this dish has been tweaked a little, so we received a dish of angel hair pasta, with a perfectly cooked fillet (halibut I think?) atop. Add in a reduced shellfish bisque which was so thick it was clinging to the pasta and OH MY HEAVENS it was delicious.

Aladdin – one of my fav Disney movies – was up next and, Jasmine Tea aside I’m not sure I’m getting the lamb connection. An Arabian dish then, Baba Ganoush with a roll of lamb belly stuffed with cous cous and a couple of golden raisins. Of the entire menu this was, almost, disappointing. As expected everything on the plate was cooked well but it was all a bit one-dimensional for me. The most excitement came from a dash of sweetness from the few raisins hidden away inside the lamb, and whilst the lamb itself was succulent, it just didn’t get any help from the rest of the plate. It’s not often the Six by Nico doesn’t hit the mark but this dish definitely needed some help from a genie!

Dessert, a dish as old as time? Perhaps, but if you’ve ever craved a light, subtle dessert then this is the one for you. Wonderfully rose flavoured panna cotta with a gentle lychee gel on top, pomegranate sauce, and a lighter than air slice of almond sponge and there I was, twirling in my transformation from Beast to Prince as the last petal fell from the rose. What a great way to round off a meal.

Overall, not one of the best menus with a couple of dishes missing the mark for me but as always part of that is down to personal taste – I wouldn’t normally order ratatouille or lamb belly – but Six by Nico remains a highlight. The service is friendly and relaxed, the staff know what they are talking about if you have any questions, and even the ‘not so good’ dishes are still well cooked and presented.

Have I mentioned that the set menu is £25 for six courses (and you can swap courses between the main and vegetarian options). Add in £5 for the ‘Snacks’, and £5 for an apertif, chuck a bottle of wine in and for £45-50 a head you are being treated to high end cuisine in a laid back environment. The food quality remains high, as does the execution of each plate. It really is a fine dining experience on a budget.

Note: In a lovely gesture, Six By Nico will be donating £5 from every Disney meal to Glasgow Children’s Hospital. Bravo!

bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

  • Remove the legend to become one
    When I started my first job at Amazon.com, as the first analyst in the strategic planning department, I inherited the work of producing the Analytics Package.
    From little acorns, mighty rainforests are borne.

  • Have you tried making yourself a more interesting person?
    Another passed-down tale: a student getting her story back from Barry, with the honest criticism on it: This just isn’t interesting. As I understand it, the student, a whiner, complained, What can I do to make it be interesting?
    Chimes with some ideas from the book The Charisma Myth (worth a look as well).

  • THIS → Social media is keeping us stuck in the moment
    The next time you look at social media, I want you pay attention to a subtle detail on each post: the timestamp.
    ALLLLLL the thoughts about this one, social media blackouts might be a thing for me next year.

  • 20 Authors I Don’t Have to Read Because I’ve Dated Men for 16 Years
    Certain writers — or artists, or film-makers, etc.— are so embedded into their particular cultures that one doesn’t need to have consumed their work in order to understand its impact.
    More ugh (but well written ugh so, go read it!)

  • RIP Every Frame a Painting
    Sad but expected news: Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos have shut down their excellent video series on film, Every Frame a Painting. They wrote about their decision in the form of the script for a final episode that never got made:
    Stopping for the right reasons but UGH I loved these little documentary videos on film making. If you’ve never seen any, STOP AND GO WATCH! A Salute to Every Frame a Painting: Watch All 28 Episodes of the Now Concluded Video Essay Series on Cinema

  • The White Envelope
    As told by Nancy W. Gavin. It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so.
    No YOU’RE crying etc etc, this is bloody lovely.

  • The Tianjin Binhai Library
    The Tianjin Binhai Library, a 33,700m2 cultural centre, features a luminous spherical auditorium around which floor-to-ceiling bookcases cascade.
    That thudding noise you heard was my jaw hitting the floor. Wow.

  • I Was Mauled by the Same Bear Twice in One Day
    This article originally appeared on VICE UK. Having a shitty Monday? Hey, at least you haven’t been attacked by a bear, made a lucky escape from that bear, and then once again been attacked by that same bear.
    File under: Funny (not funny)

  • How Mercedes got caught trashing a rental Tesla Model X
    Within the automotive industry, it’s common practice for companies to purchase competitors’ cars and benchmark or reverse-engineer them to learn precisely what they are up against. General Motor’s has an entire Teardown Lab for dismantling and scrutinizing other vehicles.
    What the actual fuck?

  • John Oliver grills Dustin Hoffman about sexual harassment allegations
    HBO host John Oliver hammered Dustin Hoffman about allegations of sexual harassment and the actor fired back with a ferocious defense, as a seemingly benign screening became an explosive conversation about Hollywood sexual misconduct on Monday night.
    Hoffman’s reactions more telling than the questions. UGH!!

  • The making of Burial’s Untrue
    Ten years ago, electronic musician Burial released his second album, Untrue, which went on to be quite influential.
    I’ve not read this article. My brain keeps stopping at the first three words… TEN FRICKIN YEARS WHAT!!??!!

  • All the Ways Learning English Will Destroy Your Brain
    “Read” rhymes with “lead”, and “lead” rhymes with “read”, but “read” doesn’t rhyme with “lead” and “lead” doesn’t rhyme with “read”. Following along? Then chances are you speak English pretty well — and you also know why so many people have such a hard time with it.
    I bloody love English (the language).

  • The Silence Breakers
    Movie stars are supposedly nothing like you and me. They’re svelte, glamorous, self-­possessed. They wear dresses we can’t afford and live in houses we can only dream of. Yet it turns out that—in the most painful and personal ways—movie stars are more like you and me than we ever knew.
    You’ve seen it linked no doubt, couldn’t NOT include it this week.

  • Portugal’s radical drugs policy is working. Why hasn’t the world copied it?
    When the drugs came, they hit all at once. It was the 80s, and by the time one in 10 people had slipped into the depths of heroin use – bankers, university students, carpenters, socialites, miners – Portugal was in a state of panic. The crisis began in the south.
    HOLD THE FRONT PAGE! Government in ‘applying science and common sense’ shocker!!

  • I Made My Shed the Top Rated Restaurant On TripAdvisor
    Once upon a time, long before I began selling my face by the acre for features on VICE dot com, I worked other jobs. There was one in particular that really had an impact on me: writing fake reviews on TripAdvisor.
    In actual bits. This is genius.

  • The Consumerist Church of Fitness Classes
    Gyms provide ritual and community, serving as a sort of religion. They also promote values American culture already worships—capitalism and overwork. You pay a regular tithe to support the community. In public, you wear symbols that identify you as one of the faithful.
    As a recent convert I can attest to this, and apologies if I’ve been a bit preachy!

  • Sonic Tonic
    When Cale Holmes moved from Virginia to New York City for grad school, he started to have trouble sleeping.
    Dunno about you, but a ‘burbling brook’ just makes me have to pee at 3am (or maybe that’s my age… SHUT UP!)

bookmark_borderGig: Gorillaz

Now and then I buy a ticket for a gig in the hope that it’s at least ok, and whilst I’ve been a fan of Gorillaz since their first album they are the type of band that blip on and off my musical radar, so my expectations weren’t too high as we waited for them to come on stage.

Now I should admit that part of my lowered expectation was down to me looking at a setlist and seeing a lot of newer tracks but very few older ones, not to mention some noticeable hits not even mentioned. Still, I know Damon Albarn has a great reputation live, and I was eager to see how the ensemble approach played out on stage.

From the opening calls of M1 A1 to the close of Clint Eastwood/Don’t Get Lost in Heaven/Demon Days, and the myriad of rotating vocalists (some on stage, some on screen) I realised I was lost in each moment, dancing like an idiot (although the pre-gig gin cocktails probably contributed to that). What a great gig, well paced, and the crowd were literally jumping. Seeing Mr. Albarn whipping the crowd into a throbbing frenzy, his smiling face lit large on screens, was an utter joy to be part of.

It’s the thing that separates gigs, the difference of being part of an experience, or just ‘watching a band’. The most vivid example I ever had was at my first Glastonbury. U2 on the Friday night were ‘look at us we are rock stars’, Elbow on the Saturday evening were ‘hey guys aren’t we all having fun’.

Gorillaz romped through 20+ tracks, barely drawing breath between each. Some songs were tweaked for the live performances but each one landed well. Even standing at the very back of the massive space that is the Hydro we felt part of things. Seeing an artist making that connection, interacting with the crowd and making it a joint experience makes all the difference, and it doesn’t matter where you are standing.

The atmosphere was buzzing from front to back, each track met with hollers of recognition (from me too), and of course we got to watch 2-D, Murdoc, Noodle, and Russell do their thing too. I don’t think I’d realised just how much of the Gorillaz sound and visuals had seeped into my brain but it all came flooding back, after all … it’s all in your head.

Expectation flipped.

bookmark_borderNovember in review

Lived

Highlights

A busy month that has flown in, with many highlights. I’m still waxing lyrical about Slava’s Snowshow which was beguilingly magical, two stonkingly good gigs, my first (and second) trips to Murrayfield, and I even wrote a couple of reviews which was a bit weird as I’ve not really done that since the Yelp community in Glasgow got shut down (boooo to Yelp!).

Visits to my family, time with friends new and old, seem to have set me up for a great December, and writing this piece was a big piece of that too. It was a lot more cathartic than I’d realised and despite being so busy these past few weeks, life continues to improve in other ways and I’m already looking at 2018 with a big smile on my face. Well done November, well done November.

Stepcount: 285, 398.

Read

Talking as fast as I can by Lauren Graham
Bought on a whim, and because Gilmore Girls, this was a short sweet read, that centres around Lauren’s time on Gilmore Girls but reaches out to her childhood and formative years. Funny, melancholy at times, but endearingly lovely I’d highly recommend it if you are a GG fan.

Also read:
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
Not quite finished this one, but the second book in the Mr.Mercedes crime thriller trilogy. I am trying to read this to learn how to develop characters and how to write dialogue but, as always, it’s so easily written to read that I’m just being swept along.

Watched

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond
If you have Netflix. Stop everything and watch this now. I don’t care if you aren’t a Jim Carrey fan, this is WAY more than that. Focussing on the making of Man on the Moon (the Andy Kaufman story) it is an utterly transfixing documentary, revealing a man who seems a little lost yet entirely calm and centred. Featuring footage shot, by Kaufman’s family, during the making of the movie (some 20 years ago now), it follows Carrey’s utter disappearance into the role and find him reflecting on life after it in an utterly compelling interview. I cannot recommend this enough, but don’t want to say any more than I have. WATCH IT.

Also watched:
George Michael: Freedom
Finally got around to watching this. Had no idea how big he was in the USA, and I guess the legal fight wasn’t something I was fully aware of. But ohhh the songs, the voice. What a loss.

Listened

Mostly Gorillaz and Royal Blood, but also IDLES, Go Team!, and Thundercat. The latter thanks to the ever fabulous 6Music that I don’t get enough time to listen these days (must sort that out).