Game testing QA stories. I finally broke and bought a Switch and I’m working my way through Super Mario Odyssey. I “finished” it, but that only means you’re a third of the way through, even if you’ve uncovered most of the locations. I’m finding the later parts more interesting, if anything, because it’s often testing the limits of the semi-open world and the players and objects within it. Several tasks feel like the results of an ultra fastidious QA player managing to, say, get a motorbike ridden up to the top of a building and then launched to the other side of the map. (aside: I have no qualms using Assist Mode, something I only found right at the end of the main story. It gives you a few more lives and some surfaces are less dangerous. I find 3d controls hard enough to use, and a lot of the hardest parts in Mario are precarious balances and multi-button timed jump sequences, which Assist only helps a little with)
I enjoyed the first episode of The Art of Drumming (the later ones get a bit Inside Baseball, and are, well, too white, too impressed with themselves and too rock-drum-solo-y). Bernard Purdie and Jabo Starks are amazing.
More telly: Made in Great Britain is a bit of a clunky forced TV format (“Let’s make hats! Let’s make cheese!”) but there’s a lot to like, especially from very specialist makers getting enthused by new crafts. Some very good professionals help, like Paul A Young on the chocolate episode, and Andy Swinscoe for cheese.
Self-driving cars have their equivalent of the “last mile” problem (the last metre problem?). You see this using sat navs – the end of a trip is never where the end is – eg a car park, a drop off point – so they either keep directing you to do u-turns or just say it’s done and fall silent.
Matt’s pilau recipe
How restaurants got so loud
On walking and eating + Sietsema’s worst 10 and best 15 dishes in NYC this year
a Hannah Gadsby twofer – 1, 2
the balloon and spaghetti destroyer
if you’re looking to donate something useful over the Festive period – generally food banks need a lot more than just food
Next year is booking already – the Vault festival and Work In Progresses at the Pleasance.
A week off last week, as I was in Madeira. What a pretty place! The notorious airport runway was everything I hoped for and feared (sea fog in my case, rather than high winds).
On artisanal food at scale: La Boulangerie in SF, Ladurée’s macarons.
Jerry Saltz on how to be an artist, and his tour of NY paintings.
Obituary of Stephen Hillenburg, creator of SpongeBob Squarepants.
Another book about the edgelands of Essex. I’m half way through, and it goes at quite a pelt, but that’s because Essex has 350 miles of coast to cover. Well researched and referenced, and thankfully not too Brexit-y so far. It talks about several other initiatives, such as Radical Essex, that are doing a great job of telling an often looked-over history of a far away place so close to capital. There’s new Government money for the Great Thames Park, which seems to just be a passing bon mot in an Arup masterplan. Let’s hope it doesn’t bulldozer the wildness and the weirdness. Meades’ Joy Of Essex is on iPlayer again for a limited time.
A regular reminder of how great libraries are. Many now offer magazines through apps on your phone – no need for a New Yorker, Economist or Atlantic subscription. Sure, the apps are a bit clunky (and of course every council uses a different app) but it’s such a benefit to have for free.
Japanese industrial night scenery tourism, kojo yakei.
The Gavlë goat is back!
Terry Farrell’s pomo doll house
Reading Jonathan Gold
Tweets of the week:
Service design elephants-in-the-room
I’ve recently got into some podcasts, nearly 20 years late. I think I was put off originally by too many errr *cough* American people just talking endlessly about nothing. The ones I seem to enjoy the most are long but edited interviews – Adam Buxton, Comedian’s Comedian, Richard Herring and I’m now trying out some others. Dave Chang’s is, well very American (I’m not used to the humiliation of presenters reading out adverts, US talk radio style) but I enjoyed the 2 parter with Christina Tosi, founder of Milk Bar. Amongst many things it talked about the dynasty of pastry chefs who worked at the groundbreaking Wd~50, and how it’s weird many have been a bit sidelined. Wylie Dufresne himself is now selling donuts, Sam Mason is selling ice cream (and previously mayonnaise), Alex Stupak is still in the restaurant game, but mainly known for tacos. Running a high profile restaurant never sounds like a fun time, let alone in a seemingly tastebud conservative city like New York, but you’ve likely eaten dishes influenced by wd~50.
I saw Es Devlin give a talk at the Southbank Centre. Really interesting, backed up by cracking work, some of which I’d not heard of before – Parsifal, Mirror maze, Room 2022… 3d curved maps are a recent trope, 2. A long term regret is missing this Wire gig, for presumably an unimportant meeting somewhere in a windowless room in Europe.
Interesting work by the Zurich urban planning department – publishing 3d models of 50,000 buildings, an exhibition putting demolished churches into modern photographs
The current state of close-up magic
Open House London’s review of 2018; Kickstarter’s benefit statement of 2017
Face recognition paper dispenser in a Chinese public toilet
The Florence of Essex
Feel seen, bread bros?
Artists-in-residence-in-offices: Jenny Odell in the San Francisco planning department, Pilvi Takala in the marketing department in Deloitte.
An article on standing bars in Osaka and a moving liquor cart in Tokyo.
I think it’s safe to say fame has changed Heston Blumenthal.
Noma Guide to Fermentation is out.
A writeup of the digitisation and restoration of Victorian Mutoscope and Biograph films that I saw at the BFI IMAX as part of London Film Festival. Much like the war films restored for They Shall Not Grow Old (available on iplayer for a limited time), if not recoloured, one of the amazing things is restoring the films to natural timing. The Biograph films should be available next year in the BFI archive (as part of their Victoriana season), but don’t know if Peter Jackson will be releasing his restored films seperately (some are here).
The similarly named Bioscope was the trade magazine of the cinema industry during the silent film era. Some were digitized in the Internet Archive, but more are now available in the British Newspaper Archive. Some great adverts. Worth a flick through some issues.
Ravilious’ firework pictures
I still randomly hum the theme tune from The Cravings, the Korean 30something food drama sponsored by a sauce manufacturer.
Loads of good shows on at the Soho Theatre this week/soon – Felicity Ward, Jessie Cave, Natalie Palamides, Tony Law.
This is a good article by Fuchsia Dunlop on Chinese hotpot, if you can wiggle past the FT paywall.
What the pupils of the Government School of Design were taught in the 1840s. The School was based in Somerset House, a second school in Spitalfields, and regional schools in Nottingham, Coventry, Sheffield, Birmingham and Newcastle. “No persons studying to be artists, as distinguished from ornamentists, will be admitted to the School of Design.”
Investigative reporting by, of all people, Property Week, about WeWork. Massively financially overexposed, but backed by Softbank and Saudi sovereign wealth – potentially taking $10 or $20 billion more investment. Meanwhile the free beer is coming to an end. And soon – WeLive, WeGym, WeLearn, WeGrow, WeBuild.
I will go on about Aggretsuko until everyone has watched Aggretsuko – a 20something red panda office worker who releases her tension through death metal karaoke. And it’s designed by Sanrio, so there’s merch. What other series are like this and Kantaro The Sweet Tooth Salaryman?
Too Many Cooks deserves a rewatch. And then read the extraordinary lengths it took to make.
Sad to miss this exhibition of old cities created with Ubisoft in Paris
Westminster Council is consulting on their Oxford Street plans
Different views of regional France
Unicode just won’t include the transgender flag, by first making the Unicode Consortium agree on how to extend emoji to all potential flags. Pirate flags are ok though.
Some good comedy things on this week – Bridget Christie’s last week at the Leicester Square Theatre, and Jordan Brookes at Soho Theatre.
Best cheese that I’ve faved recently is Cote Hill Lindum, now stocked by Waitrose.
The recent trip to Sheffield included the Liquid Crystal Display exhibition at the renewed Site. My favourites by a long way were by Suzanne Treister, particularly the Survivor (F) diagrams. She’s also got work in James’ show Agency at Nome, alongside some ominous iPhone orbs by Ingrid Burrington.
Westminster Council announced their proposals for Oxford Street, after blocking the Mayor, Sadiq Khan,’s bid to pedestrianise (the actual proposal is hidden in a hard to find 150Mb PDF that is hard to download). It seems to boil down to – less cars, a lot less buses, wider pavements, a few water fountains and 2 windswept squares made a little nicer. So more of the same, with the emphasis still on the Western end and Oxford Circus, and still with a road running down it.
M&S are pushing traceability a lot recently, including this map of all their factories and suppliers. A bold move for a company reliant on own label goods: traditionally suppliers don’t want their association to be known (as their branded goods normally sell for more).
Jerry Saltz on the sale of an “AI” artwork. There’s a growing body of art that’s made with code directly lifted from other technologists or artists (often with comments on github asking how to get it running or feature requests). Weak sauce.
The New York Times Magazine had a candy issue, including articles on salmiakki, Japanese KitKats and more. The web design is… interesting and pretty breaky.
Walking round Paris on foot. London has 2 walking rings, the inner Capital Ring and the outer London Loop. Both pretty fine but will occasionally throw you into industrial estates, housing schemes and along major roads.
A history of the caffè corretto, including the fact that Starbucks are being sued in Italy for trying to charge €1.80 for an espresso.
I can’t say that the Economist redesign is as bold as the designer’s think it is (I haven’t seen a paper copy though).
Peppa pig porcelain
Big game fishing in the UK, and the Tunny Club
Why Does Japan Make It So Hard for Working Women to Succeed?
Phew. Hopefully less hate-faving next week.
BBC Wales has a good series of standup comedy, featuring a lot of less well known comedians, often doing their first TV. Sad that all the sets are so short. The BBC flagship standup show, Live At The Apollo, was going in a good direction last series, with fresher line ups, but seems to have reverted back to big names.
It’s good to hear that Cat Cairn, one of the few Turrell skyspaces in the UK, is back working again, lighting up at dusk.
Mikkeller opened their first bar in London at the weekend. It’s a nice space, but tiny, and the prices are, well, Scandinavian. M&S are stocking their core beer range at £2.50 a can – the IPA is good.
The MERL (Museum of English Rural Life) has some sculptural interventions and a Ladybird exhibition that seem like a good excuse to go and visit the absolute units and the trouser-wearing chickens.
I went to Sheffield on Saturday – more on that later, probably – diamond geezer did too recently, and went to an almost entirely different set of places.
I don’t think I agree with Rushkoff’s takedown of UBI – it smells of not giving money to those most in need in case it trickles up.
The Noma Guide to Fermentation is out and it seems pretty practical and comprehensive.
How female architects have been written out of history
Exhibitions in London: Videogames at the V&A is pretty mega, given how hard it is to exhibit digital work. Strange Days at the Store X is better and bigger than I expected (short interview with Camille Henrot about Grosse Fatigue). Always amazed how they find new nooks and crannies in the building to exhibit more work. There’s a good little selection of Topolski’s drawings of the Bank of England printing plant at the often overlooked Bank of England Museum.
It’s London Film Festival, and whilst not much grabbed me in the programme this year, I have caught up with some American films that haven’t been released yet in the UK – Sorry To Bother You (great direction, and it’s funny, and an unexpected cameo from Kate Berlant; released 7 December) and Wont You Be My Neighbor (don’t need to have grown up with Mr Rogers to get it, way more interesting than you would expect; released 9 November).
It’s 30 years since Jean-Michel Jarre’s Destination Docklands concert. Surprisingly the area it was held is still not redeveloped (the Making Of video is pretty hilarious – JMJ vs Newham planning councillors). The Newham fireworks will be held there this year.
“UX”, interaction design, service design are not in the middle of all things
Big veg competition on Gardener’s World
Online archive of Sainsbury’s packaging
How the National Gallery evacuated their paintings in WWII
Tracy Thorn going on a walk with Thames Discovery, who I volunteer with. It’s pretty much the end of the year for foreshore walks, but you will be able to book future walks on their website.
The Guardian’s photo essay on London’s pedways, including the full Elevating London video. I do like the pedways, but looking back it feels too much like designing the city around the car, rather than designing the city without cars.
Tom talking about the history of Twitter and its bots. There really is no digital public space left.
A lot of the comedy shows I’ve seen recently have been technically ambitious – sound cues, video, mini games (sometimes holding a clicker just like presenting a talk). QLab seems a popular way to create shows, which led me into Syphon, a way for lots of audio and video apps to talk to each other. It feels like a whole shadow universe to Keynote and PowerPoint and what most presenters use to present. It’s a pity there was never this kind of ecosystem around or allowed for presenting; it might have made for more interesting work. I guess with QLab you could make your presentation in Unity if you wanted…
I got 3 episodes into Killing Eve and gave up. Good writing and acting, but increasingly far fetched. I rolled my eyes at the club scene and that’s that.
I’ve avoided all the Frieze malarky but I do want to see Strange Days at The Store on the Strand. It features Camille Henrot’s Grosse Fatigue, which is one of my favourite things. There’s also John Akomfrah, Ed Atkins, Ragnar Kjartansson and many more.
If you book one thing this week, it should probably be John-Luke Robert’s show from Edinburgh that will be touring.
I went to the Ceremony of the Keys a few weeks ago. It’s short but pretty interesting, although you have to book over a year in advance at the moment. Better in the summer, I guess, when it’s lighter and less cold – it has happened every night, in some form, since the 13th or 14th century but has standardised on 10pm since 1826.
It’s “Netflix attempts to stop you from doing anything apart from watching TV” season. The new series of Bojack Horseman feels better than the last (the stand up episode “Free Churro” in particular is great) but the last few episodes always feel rushed to try and resolve the series. Looking forward to Maniac and the slow drip of the new series of The Good Place.
The Mighty Redcar is a stylised documentary that’s unusual because it features a Northern town and the working class almost unjudgementally.
It’s also “all the art money is in London for Frieze” season, so the big hitter shows of all the galleries are starting to open. Elmgreen and Dragset at the Whitechapel feels like a wasted opportunity. Space Shifters at the Hayward is mainly very slight – much of the work falls down the moment there’s a slight scratch or inevitable fingerprint, and the outdoor sculpture courts are woefully underused – but it’s great to see 20:50 back in London. The Health & Safety is overdone, but with reason, it’s the most unsettling feeling in there. Just don’t grab the sides.
I don’t think I’m going to be able to get to Paris this autumn (unless there’s an [e word]), but the Tomas Saraceno takeover of the Palais de Tokyo and the Tadao Ando exhibition at the Pompidou sound great.
Love this post by Lyft on colour, accessibility and naming.
That’s enough of last week. To the future!