As the name suggests, the show is presented by the horribly talented Armando Iannucci (the man behind the TV show The Thick of It and the movie In The Loop), and is all about John Milton's Paradise Lost.
Watching the programme is like sitting in on a brilliant lecture: Iannucci is passionate, entertaining, informative, and above all engaging. He fleshes out the historical context to the poem, looking at the social and political environment in which Milton was writing; but also examines the text in detail, honing in on words and phrases, to see how they create their effect.
It's genuinely a real treat, and worth checking out, even if your last experience of poetry was on the inside of a greetings card.
We've just been sent this trailer for the award-winning new documentary Herb and Dorothy, which premieres in New York on June 5, and it looks just great.
The film is all about Herbert and Dorothy Vogel. Herb was a postal clerk, and Dorothy was a librarian, and despite their modest incomes, they built up an incredibly important contemporary art collection, living off Dorothy's salary and using Herb's to collect art. The only criteria was that the work should be affordable, and small enough to fit into their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment.
Over thirty years they collected more than 2,000 pieces, including works by Sol LeWitt, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Chuck Close, and a host of others. In 1992 they gifted their whole collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; despite the fact that thanks to their fine eyes, the collection was worth millions of dollars. How cool is that?
They still live in the same apartment, with 19 turtles, lots of fish, and one cat. They're still collecting.
Here's hoping the film makes the jump across to the UK some time soon.
Back in 1957, Alex Issigonis put together the first sketches for the Austin Se7en, the car that was to become that British motoring classic, The Mini. (Read all about the history of the car in the Mini Wikipedia page.)
The little car launched in 1959, so this year it's 50 years old, and Mini (well, BMW, who make the New Mini) are having a whole stack of celebrations.
Their PR kids got in touch, and have given us a set of three tickets to the Mini United Festival at Silverstone Race Circuit, which runs from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 May. They've got load of Mini related stuff going on: stunt driving shows, Mini Se7en racing on the Silverstone circuit, track drives, test drives and so on. On top of that, Calvin Harris is doing a set on the Friday night, and Paul Weller's doing a two hour set on the Saturday, with support from Twisted Wheel and Raygun.
If you'd like to get your hands on all three tickets, all you've got to do is create a picture on the theme of Mini 50. (You can download a pdf of the outlined Mini using the link above). Then email us your picture by the end of Sunday 17 May. Make sure to include your name, contact number, and a mailing address for the tickets. We'll put a Flickr set together with the entries (if we get more than a few) and choose a winner on Monday 18 May, and mail the tickets out to you.*
*It's probably sensible to have some Terms and Conditions: UK residents only (sorry everyone else), you can't exchange or refund the tickets, the judges decision is final.
It's set up to showcase beautiful bits of print, but with the added extra of full production details, including cost, time and technique. That makes it a rather invaluable resource. They're open for submissions, and are eager to keep it up to the minute, only showcasing recent work, rather than stuff that's already a year or so old.
The main page of the blog shows one image from each project, with core production details, and from there you jump out to the full posts.
It's interesting to compare this to those design compendiums that litter the shelves of the design bookstores. This feels so much more immediate, and more, well, useful. Although it's surely only a matter of time before the FPO site gets translated into an annual book...
Following on from our Music to Design to post, here's the Music to design to playlist on Spotify. We've selected (in a fairly haphazard way) some of the more popular tunes from the albums everyone's been recommending. We generally picked the first album mentioned in each case, though not all of them were available via Spotify. The running order is just set to the order the comments came in. We'll keep adding as long as people keep suggesting stuff.
These have been doing the rounds for a while, but heck, they're just great, so we're happy to join the gang and give them even more air time. They're cut-out dioramas by Thomas Allen - he takes pulp novels and gets busy with a scalpel to create dynamic new interpretations of the covers. And they're lush. They also put us in mind of Lars bon Trier's Dogville, which is no bad thing.
Here's the scene. You've got a deadline looming, so it's time to stop Twittering about what you had for lunch and get on with coming up with some startlingly fresh ideas.
But, first, you need to put on some tunes to get you in the mood. What do you listen to? What's the music that does it for you when you're designing? Is it a bit of Vangelis, some Steve Reich, a dose of Autechre, or a chunk of Radiohead?
Drop us a comment, and let us know your three top albums (in order of preference) for designing to. Or, if you're one of those freaks people who likes absolute silence, let us know that too.
We won't judge. Much.
And once we've got a solid list together, we'll put together a Spotify playlist or somesuch.
Not content with just getting his paws on the Cycle Maintenance Handbook, Alistair also picked up a rather fine (and almost complete) set of trading cards produced by the orange drink Jubbly*, dating from around 1967 as far as we can tell.
The cards, called Adventurous Lives, feature a series of really dangerous jobs for men, of the sort that almost never come up at the job centre: test pilot, crocodile hunter, speedway rider, sea-quarium vet, big game hunter, log roller and atomic worker being some of our favourites.
We totally want to be sea-quarium vets when we grow up:
"The newest way of studying the habits of marine creatures is the construction of large sea-water aquariums. Naturally, like all living things, sea creatures can become ill, so veterinary surgeons have to specialise in the treatment of these illnesses. In the picture a vet is shown treating a porpoise, but it may be necessary to treat sharks, or poisonous rays, or even a whale. As yet there are no Sea-Quariums in Britain, but no doubt one day there will be."
Alistair was back in the Isle of Wight this weekend (you probably went when you were a child - everyone does) for the Randonnee, a round-the-island cycle ride, and nipped into what is rapidly becoming a very-favourite-shop-of-all-time, Wight Elephant. It's a bric-a-brac shop, but one that brims with goodness of every kind.
He picked up a copy of the Raleigh Cycle Maintenance Handbook there, which is a pure delight, printed in black and a couple of delicious spot colours, with sections such as "Nature from a Cycle" (spot a weasel, or an otter leaving the water, or even a badger); "Safety Hints" (Never rely on the 'other man' to do the right thing - he may not); "Touring by Lake, Hill or Sea"; as well as a page to record your expenditure on spares and repairs. Gorgeous.
Check out some more pictures over at Alistair's Flickr Ephemera set.