28 May 2010

Internship: Closed.


I finished my internship today. At lunch. Short and sweet, quick and dirty. I learned a lot. And hopefully there's a couple of people who would be interested in a story or two I've got to pitch.

I left at lunch time so I could go to my university and hand in all of my assignments. My entire university career is finished (except for my dissertation) five days in advance of the deadline.

It's not solely because I'm so conscientious about deadlines - it's also because today is the day my brother and father arrived from Canada for a little Millar time visit.

Tomorrow we make a trip to Northern Ireland. For a weekend of soul-searching, reflecting, card-playing, site-seeing, sleeping-in, laughing and whatever else is going on up there.

After the hectic couple weeks we've just had, it's nice to be able to have a visit and holiday with no deadlines hanging over my head. Also, I finished early last Friday as well, and I think that's a pretty smart way to end the work week.

As for lunches: the winner overall: Lennie's


24 May 2010

Internship of Lunches p.2


I started an internship last week. I'm now getting the hang of it. It still involves a lot of phone calls, online research into quirky news and tourist to-dos, and trying to help people understand the difference between 72 and 300 dpi. All of which is going well, but the area in which I really think I'm nailing it is in spending my £5 lunch ration. Click through for the rundown on week 2.

Monday: Finally made it to Fraco's the highly recommended and usually lined-up spot. Since last week they have fixed their sign. The place is actually called Franco's. Had a sandwich and a juice. Both of which were awesome. Plus i got some change back on my £5.

Tuesday: Had a callback for my audition from last Thursday. It was at Rich Mix. I went there and enjoyed myself. It helped that none of the people I auditioned with were crazy. Then I went back to Lennie's Larder for a whole lot of salad. It was excellent again.

My green bean and cherry tomato salad used green beans from her garden, and I had a mozzarella patty with my sandwich. It was an even £5 (which is inexplicably 50p more than the week prior, but still a good deal.

Wednesday: New sandwich spot. went to Bottega Prelibato. Whereas Franco's is good Italian sandwiches done in the style of a short-order greasy spoon, this spot, a block and a half up the street, is Italian sandwiches done in an exposed brick wall and hardwood floor kind of way.

The cost reflects this. (They're not that expensive, either, but when you've only got a fiver you're not getting a drink and change like at Franco's). My pesto grilled veggie and buffala mozzarella sandwich was pretty great though.

Thursday: Weather was fine, so I scooted off to Curtain Road's Strongarm. A cafe/bar that has a terrace in a parking lot set back from the street. I had a tasty (though not terribly filling) grilled goat cheese and veg wrap. Followed by a cappucino. I suspect this place is better suiteed to afterwork music and beers.

Friday: I went back to Franco's - and not, I suspect, for the last time. I had a grilled chicken and aubergine sandwich, took it back to the office, and ate it at my desk. I did this because I left work early, and even though I'm not getting paid, I still didn't feel I was entitled to a full lunchbreak. But I did feel I was entitled to take a sunny Friday afternoon off.

Winner: Franco's (Monday)
Runner-Up: Franco's (Friday)
Honourable Mention: Lennie's


21 May 2010

Skateboard Shakedown

You know why I love skateboarding?

Because it's so much fun. Especially when you're working on your best tricks and your silliest shtick.

Not Jackass pranks, just clowning around with your friends, and ripping some sick lines. If those tricks also happen to be hilarious, then so much the better.

These guys know. They're on a whole other level.

Tim and Eric - Roger of the Month Mar 2010 - Outro Video from Roger Skateboards on Vimeo.

Via Whatevs by way of Kottke by way of


19 May 2010

Flight of the Conchords @ Wembley


Flight of the Conchords: a couple of Kiwis who share a dry sense of humour and a bunch of funny songs. Pretty much a novelty coffee shop/fringe act.

So how come they rocked Wembley so hard?

I don't know exactly, but they did. I guess two seasons of a hilarious sitcom on HBO boosts your visibility. Sure helped me go from "Flight of the what?" to: "Yeah. Huge fan."

Tickets sold out in under 20 minutes for the show (an added date after their other shows also sold out stupid-quick).

The opening band wasn't funny. Although one guy was wearing a cape. I think it was a cape; it was a cape-like garment for sure. But I don't really know for sure - we were very far from the stage. Fortunately there were giant super-screens set up on either side of the playing area. Still I couldn't figure out the cape thing. The music was good though.

They played a blend of melodic beardy goodness and chunky rock - mostly to an indifferent trickle of fans. Although, towards the latter part of their set, the seats started filling up and the excitement started mounting, and their rock got chunkier. And it was good.

Arj Barker (Dave from the TV show and a pretty kick ass stand-up in his own right) came out and did a pretty kick-ass half hour.

Can't be easy to stand there by yourself and tell warm-up jokes to a SOLD-OUT STADIUM. He even tweeted that it would be largest crowd he'd ever performed in front of. But onstage he seemed pretty chilled about the whole thing.

Then the Conchords came out and pretty much killed it. A long set of funny and engaging songs. And talking. Their show hasn't developed all that much from their bare-bones beginnings. As Brett pointed out early on, "This is pretty much it. Some songs and some talking... Song. Then some talking, then another song." Until Jemaine corrected him: "Sometimes we play two songs in a row without talking."

But they played for over two hours, which meant a lot of songs and a whole bunch of banter. We the crowd lapped it up. They played favourites such as Business Time and The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room), as well as some new stuff, like the medieval ballad Woo a Lady.

It built to a big finale that was a full-on homage to 80s Motorhead/Metallica/Guns 'n' Roses metal that worked the crowd into a collective ecstasy - I think. It was pretty dark in there and a lot of people were pretty far away, but I thought it was fucking rad, and I'm pretty sure most people agreed.

Then they came out with an encore that topped it.

And then it took a long time to get home.

So yeah. That was good. Those guys are rock 'n' roll.


16 May 2010

Crash! Bang! Wallow?

In the 80s, Larry LeTan took punches, falls and bullets for Arnie, Sly and the other action movie bigshots. It was the life he was born for. However, with the introduction of CGI, Larry now finds himself on the outside of modern movie-making.

This is his tale: an awesome 4-minute short called Crash Bang Wallow: The Ballad of Larry LeTan, ex-Stuntman. It's funny, poignant and the animation is great. Click on through to watch.

The film is currently part of the Cannes Short Film Corner and the 6th NFB Short Films Online Contest. There are a whole bunch of other shorts there, watch them all, vote for your favourite. Make an afternoon of it.


15 May 2010

An Internship of Lunches


I'm interning at a publishing company. The day is pretty fast-paced - lots of phone calls, emails, research, chasing up press photos, writing short copy. Generally I'm trying to get my sea legs and not get snowed under - or mix my metaphors.

Like most internships, it is unpaid. However, besides the work-is-its-own-reward reward, they do offer perks: I've got a 2-zone travelcard and a daily £5 lunch budget.

The best way to get a handle on how my first week went is by finding out where that £5 went.

Monday: Hoxton's Sandwiches
Not bad. I think there was celery in my grilled veggie panini though. But I had bottled water, and cake and coffee afterwards. A serious, proper lunch. It was busy. I read The Sun.

Tuesday: The Bean
Went for lunch with my fellow intern Martha. Unsuccessfully tried to get sticker price on my pre-packaged sandwich (£0.00) - did not work. She neither found it charming, nor felt duty-bound to honour the price. Total fail. Our relationship was strained from then on. Martha got overly zealous about their muffins. They are good, but now she's addicted. This could become a problem.

Wednesday: Lennie's Larder
Martha took me to this incredible place down a side street twenty steps from the office. £4.50 gets you a big tray of handmade salads from Lennie's salad bar plus chicken or fish and hummus. The salads are made mostly with vegetables from her garden. Plus the woman (I think it's Lennie) was super-nice. We ate lunch in the churchyard across the street.

Thursday: Tesco
Walked to Brick Lane in search of a lunch a little farther afield. Stumbled upon an improv theatre audition across from Old Truman Brewery. What?!

Went in, managed to slip into a slot, and gave it my all.

One co-auditioner was perfectly lovely. The other was totally crazy - but not in that zany, high-energy stage presence kind of way either. More of a mumbly, rambling, dissociative way. But we plowed through the whole surreal experience.

My unforeseen audition used up most of my hour, so I grabbed a sandwich and some sushi at the Tesco Metro and ate it at my borrowed desk. Turns out Tesco doesn't make the most authentic sushi.

Friday: Dreambagsjaguarshoes
This is a hip Shoreditch bar, barely renovated from its past life as two different shops on the side-by-side premises. One was called Dream Bags, the other Jaguar Shoes. They offer a pizza made by Due Sardi and eye-popping cartoonish art on the walls. It was a pretty good pizza, plus the waitress was really nice and I read a couple of Roald Dahl short stories.

1st Place: Improv Audition
Runner-up: Lennie's Larder


13 May 2010

Krave: A Cereal 'Unleashed'

All of a sudden double-decker buses around London were plastered with ads claiming that “A new breed of cereal is unleashed.”

Usually, only bad things get 'unleashed', so it seemed an odd verb choice to announce a cereal launch. Until I learned that there was method to the madness.

According to business communications magazine Campaign, “Krave is the first cereal launched by Kellogg in the UK that specifically targets the young adult market.”

Specifically, the coveted 16-25 year-old demographic - a group too old to be thrilled by the exploits of Tony the Tiger, and too young to be attracted by promises of cereal that enables regular bowel movements.

Hence the 'edgy' language, and hypnotizing graphic on the box. The launch is also the first time that Kellogg's has concentrated marketing efforts on social media; the digital campaign being undertaken by London communications agency CMW is worth a reported £4m.

The ‘ongoing digital strategy’ is centred on the Krave microsite, home of the 'choc exchange’. This is a digital marketplace where people bid on “gig tickets, games, gadgets, and other amazing prizes.” As the name suggests, the bidders don't use money, they use 'choc chunks' which are collected by participating in the Krave hype. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of hype.

A visit to the Krave auction house reveals that the current auction item has had exactly four bids. So... not exactly sweeping the nation then. In fact, all auctions close on the 17th of May, less than two months after the choc exchange launched.

Repeated efforts to speak with Matt Smith, the campaign's Creative Director at CMW, yielded no response. Frankly, I don't blame him; if this campaign was my fault, I'd also be keeping a low profile.

On a more upbeat note the Krave Facebook group has more than 60,000 fans. You might find yourself thinking, “That's a pretty big number. Well done CMW and Kellogg’s!” But when you put this achievement into perspective, it becomes less impressive.

For example, the group: “Can This Sausage Roll Get More Fans than Cheryl Cole?” has over 1.1 million fans - with only a couple weeks headstart.

Read the rest of this article at Independent Minds.


11 May 2010

Hot Designs By MZA


Spanish designer and illustrator Mireia Mazon has a website full of cool designs. Patterns (like the wallpaper above), textiles (including a whole bunch of rad t-shirts), and packaging - including for Daz, Tide, Mr. Clean and others.

She's also a pretty great painter.

Currently living in Valencia, she is churning out more cool and beautiful things.

Two other important notes:
  • She and Filip are moving on Saturday morning. If you're in Valencia this weekend, they'd sure appreciate your help
  • My favourite design of hers will also be the wedding invitations she made for me and Chiara (below)


09 May 2010

Hey! Canucks! Come back!


Down 3-1 in their series against the Hawks, the Canucks have looked at times alright, at times good, but mostly completely unlike themselves. Daniel Sedin trying to start a fight, captain and gold medal-winning goalie Roberto Luongo letting in (many) soft goals in back-to-back games - these are not normal things in Canuckworld.

The Hawks, it seems are in the heads of the Canucks; the good guys are squeezing their sticks, rushing plays and taking dumb penalties.

Maybe it's a blessing that I haven't been able to watch that much of the action. All I've gotten to see is:
  • the first period of Game 1, when the Canucks were up 2-0 and went on to win 5-1.
  • the first period of Game 4, which was patchy, but they went to the dressing room tied 2-2. Though they then went on to lose 7-4.

I won't be watching any of the game tonight, which starts at 1 am, because I'll be getting to bed early for the first day of my internship at a magazine publisher, which starts tomorrow. Getting an internship right out of university is good news, and if the Canucks continue to play like some Bizarro-world of themselves, I'll be well-shot of the aggravation.

But I believe.

They're better than they've been playing, and if they find their game tonight, it could be a whole different series.

They've got everything to play for and nothing to lose.

Go Canucks Go!

UPDATE: I watched the first period in bed. It was awesome. I was super-tired on my first day, but totally worth it. The good guys played like the team they are, from goal on out. Ace.


06 May 2010

Stranded by Volcano: Now in Magazine Form


The Eruption of Eyjafjallajökul last month wreaked havoc on European air traffic, but at least something cool has come out of it

On April 20 Andrew Losowsky wrote on his blog, “If there’s one thing my ol’ ma taught me, it’s that when life gives you volcanoes, make magazines.” He sent out an open call to “designers, writers, photographers, illustrators, art directors and anyone else who is stranded by the ash cloud, and would like something to do.” Within the day he had established contact with 30 fellow strandees.

Losowsky knows magazines: he writes about them for the Wall Street Journal, as well as having edited the books We Love Magazines and We Make Magazines.

He was also recently stranded in Dublin for eight days on his way home to Providence, Rhode Island - so there's nobody more qualified to bring together a magazine inspired by the recent disruption of air traffic. After going through working titles include Grounded, SkyFail, and Someday We’ll Fly Away, the magazine is now officially known as 'Stranded'.

Each of the contributors was given the same two simple tasks: take a photo of the bed you slept in, and go to a bar, ask the bartender to create a drink called the Volcano and write down the recipe.

Read the rest of this article at Independent Minds.

UPDATE: Stranded magazine is now available.


05 May 2010

Mos Def + Dub = Mos Dub


You might remember that I love I my hip hop all mashed up, notably the Jaydiohead (Jay-Z and Radiohead mash-up).

The man behind that project, Max Tannone, has some hot hot new projects. I've just downloaded his Mos Dub album. As the name suggests, it's Mos Def given the dub treatment.

Which means Mos rhymes all sunshine riddimed up, perfect for summer BBQs, beach blanket bingo, and road trips. If that sounds like something you might like, you will. It's awesome.

I also discovered Max has a Beastie Boy project called Doublecheck Your Head, which is Check Your Head remixed with... more Beastie Boys.

I'm currently ear feasting on both projects. I think you should do the same.

Note: I wonder whether Max picks his projects based on the best name he can come up with, or whether the music comes first. However he's inspired, his strike rate on both naming and music-mashing is 100%.

Second Note: The Jaydiohead project now has Jaydiohead: The Encore.


02 May 2010

Canucks: Hockey Time!


Like every other Canucks fan I'm happy the Canucks are playing Chicago again this year. It's an opportunity for redemption. Or revenge. Or both.

I'm thrilled about it for both of these reasons and one more crucial one:

I can watch some or all of the games at an only-somewhat-unreasonable time!

When the Canucks play on the West Coast those games start at 3 or 4am here. That's too late to stay up and start watching, and too early to get up for.

I'm not saying I won't take one or both of those approaches in this year's playoffs (it has certainly happened in the past), but it's not something I can make a habit of.

But playing in Chicago is an acceptable compromise. Last night's puck drop was at a sensible 1am. As a bonus, Chiara and I played a game of Scrabble and watched the first period together. I may not have been winning at Scrabble, but after the way the Canucks played the first period - and the fact they went into the break up 2-0 - well, I went to bed happy.

And woke up to the great news that they downed the Hawks in a lopsided victory just short of a rout. It's only one game, but it's a great start. I'm hoping they ride that momentum into and through Game 2. Then come home and close the series out in hockey-mad Vancouver.

And, while I'm making hopeful predictions, I hope they then play Detroit in the Western Conference Final.

Because, if they win this series, and end up playing San Jose, it'll be back to awkward west coast hockey-times, but if they play in Motor City, I'll get even more reasonable hockey times.