Posts from 8th October 2009

Oct 09

The Other Side Of The Truth

Do You See + FT3 comments • 276 views

“The Invention Of Lying” is as dull as its title. Sorry to say this, particularly as Ricky probably still has a flat around here and he takes criticism badly, but “The Invention Of Lying” stunk. And it stunk because it didn’t think through its premise enough. I am no stranger to world building, and this one is fine. A world where people are just like us, as the clunky voiceover begins, except no-one lies. No-one knows how to lie, tell stories which are not 100% factual and true. Fine. I can take that as far as it goes, but the ability to conceive of things which are not true is so fundamental to humanity that it actually topples the entire film.

Actually it doesn’t. What topples the film is the BIG idea of the film being subsumed into a plea for little, slightly pudgy, snub nosed blokes who look like Ricky Gervais to be considered as attractive and shag whoever they like.


On Communities

FT/3 comments • 859 views

(This is the second part of a piece on managing long blog projects. The first part is here.)

Popular’s main strength – and I’m very proud of this indeed – are its regular 50-post comment threads that are lucid, civil, wide-ranging, full of healthy disagreement, and add amazing richness to the topic. I hope I don’t come across as arrogant here but this kind of comment box culture is really hard to get. I know of very few blogs (let alone music blogs) which have comment threads as sustained and high-quality as the ones on here.

Obviously, this isn’t all – or even mostly – down to me: a lot of the time I barely comment on a thread once it’s started. The blog has been lucky enough to attract a wonderful mix of commenters over the last six years and I am enormously grateful to them all. Bear that in mind when you read this!


Stawley & Harbourne Blue (cheesy lovers #27 & #28)

FT + Pumpkin Publog2 comments • 422 views


Cheese stats: Small round of goats cheese, bought from Neals Yard Dairy[1]

The stawley has a creamy yellow and white white wrinkled rind. A sticky, translucent layer lies just below the rind, and the cheese becomes a denser, opaque white towards the centre. It’s thick, and solidly sticky, and the texture reminds me of putty or plasticine. (I didn’t test this by attempting to sculpt anything from my lunch.)

The rind tastes bright and acidic and fruity – predominantly pineappley. (Q. for Food Science; Why does my cheese keep tasting pineapppley? This is the fourth pineapple-flavoured cheese.) The white paste tastes creamy and goaty. It’s dense and thick and melts slowly in my mouth. It rewards patience; the taste opens out as it melts into this bright excited lemony explosion.

1. I forgot to write down any detail for this cheese, and it is TOO NEW to be mentioned on the internet.

Harbourne Blue

Cheese stats: Blue goats cheese, also from Neals Yard Dairy. This is the goaty sibling cheese of Beenleigh Blue.

The last goats blue I tried had me running for water, and gasping for breath, but this one couldn’t be more different. Harbourne blue is white, firm and crumbly, with scattered specks of blue-green moulding. There’s no rind. In my mouth it feels slightly waxy – almost a plastic texture, and crumbles and melts quite easily.

It’s surprisingly well-mannered; mild, creamy and nutty (walnuts and hazelnuts), fruity with hints of flowers. And more than any of this, it’s sweet; a milky, fudgey sweetshop-ness that the cheese pusher seller and I narrow down to the taste of the icing on a coffee cake. This goes well with the walnuttishness. Even the patches of blue are restrained in their spiciness, although they do give the cheese some bite. There’s a touch of sharper grassy goaty tang, but that’s kept very much in check by the sweet milkiness.

Cheesy conclusion: I really enjoyed the way the Stawley opened out from a dense creamy cheese to a huge burst of lemon; it felt like I was discovering secrets. The Harbourne Blue was a tad too sweet for me, though; I prefer my cheeses with a bit more bite. But it wasn’t a bad cheese! Just not the right cheese for me.

On Projects

FT/10 comments • 966 views

In September 2003 I started a blogging project: six years later, I’m halfway through it. It seems like a good time to put down in writing what – if anything – I’ve learned through doing Popular: what I got right and what I got wrong.

Not the marks, of course – those aren’t changing, much as I’d like some of them to. But since I started doing it I’ve seen a lot of other blog projects – some predating mine, some inspired by mine, some in whole different galaxies. Some of them – and here’s where I shudder slightly – have not only started, they’ve finished while I’ve ambled scenically through some decade or other.

In other words, there’s a certain type of blogging saint or fool who likes to undertake vast projects and might appreciate advice on how to go about it. Am I the best person to give that advice? I doubt it, but I’m going to do it anyway. Here goes:


The FT Top 100 Tracks Of All Time: 24: RACHEL STEVENS – Some Girls

FT/2 comments • 867 views

When the Sugababes shed Keisha a few weeks ago, I was a bit worried for the catty one. Not cos she can’t look after herself, and not because she’ll be poor. But rather because the old idea that you have a successful career in a boy / girl / pop band and then have a successful solo career seems to have been proven to be pretty ropey. It struck me that Keisha, sticking with some form of the Sugababes as Mutya went all out for her solo career seemed to be pretty clever. Because what makes a solo career work is very different to the group dynamic. Good luck Keisha, but look closely at the parable of Rachel Stevens first.

Rachel was the pretty one from S Club 7. Well, according to the lads mags anyway, who had anointed her as such, and being the lad mags favourite she also became the favourite for a solo career. Bear in mind that this happened a few years ago when it looked like Girls Aloud were going to split up, Sarah Harding was the one tipped to have the solo career, again because she charted higher in the FHM Top 100. But of course Girls Aloud were clever and stayed together because they learned the lesson of Rachel Stevens.