Wednesday, 23 June 2010

How I shall survive not being at Glastonbury Festival

This is especially for all the sleepy souls who crawled out of bed early one cold winter's morning to apply for tickets to Glastonbury Festival this year and couldn't get through to ticket sales before the dreaded Sold Out message.
That'll be me then.
Well we did actually get through but for some reason the system only recognised one out of three registration numbers, even though they're the same as last years.
Then there was the possibility of working there which didn't happen. We entered competitions but I'm very pleased for all the people who won the numerous competitions for tickets (Gnash ... no really, I am, because most of them had only been to V and Reading or Leeds festivals before).
I finally got the message. I'm not meant to be there this year!
With hindsight I will know why not. There comes a stage when sayings like "Stop trying to flog a dead horse" remind me that if something is not happening, it isn't meant to be.
It was harsh on Monday watching my van, full of happy campers, heading off on an adventure without me. And I'm undecided about whether I will be able to watch any online* or TV coverage without a deep sense of loss bubbling in my stomach.
It's the united-in-happiness atmosphere isn't it? That's what I'm already missing. That's what people who have never been don't understand. And yes I've met some people who have been to the festival in the past and didn't like it but thousands of people do. Even the muddy years created fond memories of coping and laughing together in adversity.
It's an intense experience.

The festival and the site feeds the highest of highs and the lowest of lows that can not be shrugged off as booze and drugs induced. Ask any child whether they enjoyed themselves and they will have a very definite answer.
Not many people answer "It was alright". (OK that's enough of how bloomin wonderful it is! ed)
How to survive the next few days? Well I've tried looking at people's pics of the queues to get in (which look awful) but that didn't help, because it's worth the journey.

I've told myself I'm pleased for them all, and I am. I'm glad they have a sunshine forecast for a change. I've done the: "You're lucky you've been at all" bit and remembering that it's a small dot in the year. A spec in the grand scheme of the world. But if you too have experienced Pilton during festival week you will understand - right now it aches.
So while all the magazines have been publishing guides to surviving festivals, I would like to share my plans for surviving not getting a ticket to a festival:
Between Thursday and Monday:
I've filled my diary with work, a good cause and friends who, coincidentally, were also there last year.
I shall savour a shower everyday.
Wear a fresh outfit or two each day.
Drink loads of cold tap water.
Appreciate every visit to a clean, plumbed toilet with toilet paper (and make the most of the running water to wash my hands afterwards).
Eat only fresh food that would go off without refridgeration. (No canned food or fast food).
Watch the England match on Sunday, where I know I will have a good view of the screen.
Text and call frequently - taking advantage of the chance to recharge my phone and appreciate the unjammed network.
Watch the new Gorillaz video for "On Melancholy Hill".

Enjoy every night's sleep I have in a bed.
And I'm visualising I'm there next year with everyone, either as a punter or working. But I'm there! See you there.

* For online read facebook, twitter, news reports, emails (from excited bands with set times over the weekend) and that's without the temptation to visit the festivals live stream.

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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Good night Spring, Good morning Summer

As the sun rises on Monday morning, Spring becomes Summer. If you aren't taking advantage of the opportunity to walk among the Stonehenge stones tonight, and you haven't got a 24-hours-of-day-light celebration booked in Alaska, what have you got planned for the hours before sunrise tomorrow? For some of us it will be work or feed the baby, but for most of us it will be "Sleep!"

I have a feeling that would be a bit of a waste of a special time. The end of Spring brings with it a time to do an audit of where/who we are and where/what we would like to be by the end of the Summer. It's a good time to give ourselves a bit of a talking to.
If you really can't face setting your alarm to be awake at sunrise (about 4.40am in the UK) then have a moment of peaceful reflection before you go to sleep tonight.
Spend some time patting yourself on the back for your good bits, thank your god, the universe, or your lucky stars for all the parts of your life for which you are grateful and spoil yourself with a moment of excitement about the possibilites for what the Summer may hold. Fantasise, day dream and be open to some sunshine moments.
Happy Summer Solstice.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Toy Story and The Wire Mash-Up

"From the makers of Finding Nemo and Generation Kill" for fans of The Wire . . . sheeeeeeeeiit

via Jason Kottke

Friday, 18 June 2010

The second person on the dancefloor is the hero

Are you a leader, a first-follower or happiest when part of the crowd?
You walk into a club and the music is banging but no one is dancing. You are really feeling it and desperate to leap onto the floor and throw your body round in uninhibited abandon.
Do you think "Ah sod it" and make the most of having so much space to jump round? Or do you stand watching - wishing someone else was dancing and then, when one lone soul arrives on the floor, do you join them or do you wait until many more have followed his lead before you dance?

You arrive at the opening of a new shop, keen to be one of the first 100 to receive a free gift. There's no one else queueing yet. Do you start the queue or do you walk around the block until someone else has started the queue or do wait until there is a small queue and you are able to blend in behind it?
There's a new fashion for collarless shirts. You like the trend but no one you know is wearing it yet. Will you be the first or will you wait until a couple of your mates take the lead? Or will you wait until its a common choice? 
In a community, 90% want to be mainstream. Their security comes when they feel they are part of the human pack and they know how they are expected to behave.
They know the rules and even the rule breakers are happy because they consider themselves to be the retrogrades of the group but still identify themselves as being within that group.
The other 10% pursue security while being sincere to their instinct. They don't seek to be different from the group and are content to follow the group's rules if it matches their own but they can not function if it is against their sense of right and wrong. This is based on a gut feeling more than logic.
They may start the dancing because they just have to move with the beat or they will spontaneously combust.

They may start the queue, because they are really keen to get the free gift and they may be the first to wear the collarless shirt, just because they like it. They are prepared to stand out and set themself up for ridicule if that's what it takes for them to be able to follow their instinct. The second person to join them on the dancefloor, join the queue and wear the shirt is the brave one. This person is often from the crowd and prepared to step out of the crowd to join the first person. The second person is saying to the crowd, come on - it's fine. We can do this.
In this video, Derek Sivers illustrates how human's respond and highlights how it isn't necessarily the
first person in the queue, on the dancefloor or wearing the new style that is a leader of something new. It's the next few people who join in and encourage others to do the same who make the difference. One person on their own can just be a weirdo. A few people make it a collective of value.

Notice Derek's theory that after a good proportion of the crowd have joined the activity, others join in because they want to be part of the larger group, which is no longer the seated group but the dancing group.
This insight has been used by marketeers, religious leaders and politicians for years but it's fun to stand back and get an idea of just how we react and which part we role in a community be it at work, play or within our family.  
Big up for the second person on the dancefloor. You are the unsung hero.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

By creative licence: Humphrey hearts John

This is turning into National Lernert and Sander Day on Sprismatic, but here's something completely different from the previous post. They have created these posters for this year's Amsterdam Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Pink Film Days, 2010. The website dedicated to these directors and artists is It shows.

Feed good coffin association

Now here's an idea ... we should use coffins more in every day life so that they don't always have such a sad association ... one of my favourite wake-me-up websites It's Nice That introduced me to this video:
Coffin Poser from Lernert and Sander on Vimeo.
I'm going to quote It's Nice That's piece word for word, with big fat honours to them, because I can't improve on this:
"Coffins, stark operating rooms, heavy trance music and conveyor belts aren't the classic ingredients for a feel-good Monday morning music video. Unless Dutch duo Lernert and Sander get hold of them. The piece was released towards the end of last year for band Aux Raus and charts the unusual culinary skills of two pretty intimidating looking chaps with an urge to bake. Tip for the rushed - there's some nice camera work at 2.10".
Thank you It's Nice That. It is.

Friday, 11 June 2010

A week of optimism, the gruesome and the awesome

This week has been Sunrise Celebration festival: lots of smiley, friendly people and good brain food. Optimism.
Big Brother 11: lots of smiley, (possibly faux) friendly people and skincare adverts. Enticingly gruesome.
And the World Cup Opening Ceremony: lots of smiley, friendly people and a real tear-jerker moment when children performed the logo finale. Awesome. 
Sunrise was such good brain food that I am still writing up my notes*, let alone turning those thoughts into something useful. Freelancers can spend so much time kicking themselves up the backside and backburning projects that don't have an immediate form, that I forget sometimes how useful working with others is for unlocking thoughts and making sense of information. I met some incredible people who jogged my brain cells into life with renewed focus and a laugh. So I suppose I've just come back from the equivalent of an informal summer school with my students, my colleagues, my teachers and my mentors. 
Big Brother's return is welcome. I don't hold with the idea it's mindless pap designed to keep us too busy to notice the horrors of life we should be addressing instead. Most people have enough challenges in their lives to be fully in the moment most of the time, but what BB does is to offer something everyone can have an opinion on for the sake of bonding or bantering without causing the sort of heated argument that sex, politics and religion can. We don't have to watch it everyday. 
And, although my experience of the football World Cup is likely to be limited to listening to a load of angry bumble bees** in the background. I'm pleased it's here. I wish England's team well and it would be lovely if they could repeat 1966 but meanwhile let's just be happy for the excitement so many are feeling, right now, today. And as someone who was round when apartheid prevented South Africa from competing - it's brilliant that they are hosting. I looked at the closeups of the smiling Black South Africans in the opening ceremony and wondered if any of them were the kids we always saw playing football in a "Blacks Only" park in Johannesburg, twenty years ago. That's the result. 

*  These notes will take form within a newsletter from the website, if you would like to subscribe to the newsletters click this link and send a contact message.
** It's the hooters. The football is being watched on a screen behind me and all I can hear is ... close your eyes when watching your next match ... Angry bumble bees?!

Creatives can embrace a business day

Creativity and Business, two words which don't always sit happily together. In our minds, things-to-do like admin, bookkeeping and documents with lots of small print can build into something resembling Dad-O-Graphic's latest graphic. Read Parenthood as Practical Stuff.

image: Gabriel Solomons
A little tip for freelance creatives who are just starting out, (i.e. haven't reached the stage where they employ the help of business advisors) diary a practical day into your week. Some weeks appointments and deadlines demand immediate attention but, as a normal routine for planning the week, I can recommend this:

In your mind tell yourself, say, Tuesday is Practical Day.
Throughout the rest of the week every time you think of something "dullsville/brain stretching", add it to a list and forget about it until Tuesday. Same with important but non-urgent post: Make one pile of all mail and and another for filing to be done.
Set up a Practical Day folder in your emails and drop relevant unurgent emails into it.
Anything that you find difficult to switch into while working (e.g. domestic and work administration) is saved for Tuesday.
This works in the highly creative mind because it really is difficult to switch between one side of the brain and the other and tasks take longer.
However, by waking up in non-creative mode and getting down to what needs to be done, the super efficient side of you will work faster. You could always try giving it a more exciting name than Practical Day to make the day seem more worth getting up for, but it works both ways.
Just sometimes it's nice to wake up and know that we don't have to try and produce something of beauty, relevance, importance or value for one day.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Sight Unseen's blog gets it oh so right

Love these guys. Sight Unseen pay such respectful homage to their subject that it makes me wish I were an inspiring designer just to see how they described my work.  Their introduction to fashion and textile designers Patternity shows they get them:

image: Patternity's Shift Table
"For Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham, pattern is everywhere — in the flaking paint of street bollards and the crisscrossing beams of scaffolding, in the fashion photography of Mel Bles and the banded stiletto heels of Parisian shoemaker Walter Steiger". 
Packed with illustrations and facts, Sight Unseen, you are a favourite for sure.

It's what Thatcher and Regan tried to do - but with cakes

I'm more a blue girl myself but you don't have to love pink to appreciate this Blog. It is creating a special relationship across the pond. Not in a creepy "get-a-room" way Thatcher and Regan did it  ... but with cakes.

Made with Pink "comparing the differences between baking and crafts in North America and the UK, while doing it with PINK"
On this site we can even compare the equipement available in the UK and USA by visiting the two online shops. Maybe if we can celebrate our differences by understanding them, cakes are as good a place to start as any. Cupcakes have a whole ontrend revival thing going for them at the moment and there's some scrummy imagery but this really caught my eye ...

I know the hair bow leans more towards a Minnie than a Deadmau5

but with just a little variation on the icing ...  they could be perfect for the hardcore electro muso in your life. And here's a tenuous link for you - Deadmau5 is based in Toronto. Not the USA, but it's still on the otherside of the pond.

DIY idea to get rid of heavy-load-gorilla-arms

If you live a pretty straight-line cycling existence, this could be the bike for you. Apparently it's not too good at turning corners but maybe, with a little practice and forward route planning, it could be really useful. No more unbalanced loads back from the market or on the way to the recycle bays. It's made from two items that often get dumped at tips, so could be very cheap to make.

This comes from a the Instructables website. The site is filled with ideas for those who have DIY dexterity (that'll be people not like me then). Members share their ideas for recycling projects and this cart-bike was built by Ryan McFarland. So first map your straight route and hooray, no more gorilla shopping arms.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Donkeys, a working watermill & electric hookup

Testing testing. Can you read me? I'm deep in the north Somerset countryside, challenging my iPhone to stick with me through my efforts to post this week.I haven't quite got it right so my apologies to you and to my former editor who taught me better. Style issues.

After a few days off-grid, we've settled for a few days calm down on a farm surrounded by nature. Trees, mating ducks, flowering bushes -that sort of thing. So how to take advantage of some time out, with the luxury of the van being hooked up to 24 hour electricity? As soon as we arrived, instead of exploring the beautiful surroundings, we were digging chargers out to breathe life back into our gadgets. Shameful! It is good to know we are recharged and contactable in an emergency but with that luxury comes the temptation to 'just check' everything from the results of the Eurovision Song Contest to facebook.
I chatted to the four resident donkeys earlier, and yes they were soaking wet so they had some reason to look soulful and hard done by but I thought of the TV appeals to send money for overworked and under watered asses in baking hot conditions and these are lucky donkeys. Then I thought of how many hours we stare at screens and this week we don't have to. Time to be grateful for the technology but only use it a little. I can recommend tuning into BBC Radio Wales too. Good music but don't understand the bits in between. We're off grid again on Thursday at Sunrise Celebration festival. Many of the people whose work I follow on-line will be giving talks. It'll be strange not to be able to pause them while I get a cup of tea.

Please Like me, Follow me and by the way ... can we be Friends?

You know how it's considered bad to be needy? Needy as in "Pleeeeeeese be my friend". Not attractive is it?! That was before the dawning of the age of In the good old days (four years ago), you set up your website and hoped it hit the mark.
Excitement built up when people would send messages via the contact form. Hooray! Someone's finding the website and communicating via it. Then one day it made Google Search page one and all was good in the virtual world.

Then bang. Google Analytics started to tell me actually how many people visited my site, which pages they arrived from, how long they stayed and where they went next. (Actually even Google Analytics isn't that clever - how does it know whether the page was read and refered back to or left open on a computer while the viewer had a shower, cooked supper and met friends for drinks? Or at the very least went to the toilet and made themselves a coffee?) But it's all good fun and keeps us on our toes. And we do get a very useful insite (sic) into what is of interest to our readers.
But now? Now we have to have Followers and be Liked. The goal posts keep changing faster than a drug dealers phone number (Yes, I learnt so much from The Wire). Within one year I've had three different Facebook pages for Sprismatic and have caused utter confusion among many of the members of the Group. The Group wall postings were liked instead of the Fan Page. I don't like causing angst and it broke my heart to see the chaos I'd caused. Apologies to you all.

Eventually I gave into pressure and threw myself into Twitterland. Quite like it actually. I'm following all sorts of people who share their work, thoughts and laughs. Educating, entertaining and inspiring. Ah but then I realised it wasn't all about who we followed, it's all about how many thousands follow us. Tricky one that. If I follow certain people, retweet that many times and do the whole follow friday thing then I can bump up my followers. Lovely. For now I'll stick to posting what I think may be of interest and hope even that isn't too much information for my followers. As it is each tweet flashes up here, there and cyberwhere from the Facebook Fan Page, through to this blog and up again on the home page of my website.

And breathe. To be honest, I love it all. I love being allowed a window into the thoughts and work of these incredible people. We build up our own media resource, chosen to reflect our interests and concerns and hear from them directly instead of an interpreted, abridged and often altered version in one newspaper or one tv channel. I just don't like having to need followers like some self obsessed guru seeking affirmation.
So to you all, thank you for liking, loving, friending, following and not blocking me. And if you aren't doing all of these yet, please do. I really DO need you. Peace, love and (I'll try to keep it) light.