Friday Fun with transport, Lego and a shot of espresso.

I have pressing things to get to this morning (like meeting 2 week old babies), so let’s get straight into some fun…

Firstly, in the London Transport department, we have a collection of 1920’s posters which are simply lovely and serve as a reminder that you really should check out the LT Museum’s shop for examples of these things that you can use to adorn your own home. The link will take you to a plethora of brilliant examples of Art Deco design, but this proved to be a favourite for me, largely because it’s so true, 90 years later…

LT Diagram 1920's

Continuing the ‘things you can do with the tube map other than simply showing where the tube goes’ theme that so many people seem to love, some incredibly hard-working person has put together a coffee lovers tube map. The premise is simple – instead of a station name, each stop features the name of an excellent coffee shop nearby. Incredibly handy and, conveniently for me, demonstrates that I have excellent taste as I’ve been to many of them. In fact, several are places I would suggest if I knew someone was going to a particular area.

Coffee Map London

May I highlight:
Holborn – my own local beauty, the Espresso Room. A tiny shop opposite GOSH, but serves coffee that’s apparently incredible and awesome brownies.
Farringdon; Liverpool St; Oxford Circus – Department [of Coffee & Social Affairs]; Liberty of Norton Folgate; Speakeasy. Three Coffeesmiths establishments and three favourite spots of mine for working/meeting/generally socialising.
Marylebone – Providores on Marylebone High St. Kiwi run, fabulous coffee and they do an excellent Boiled Eggs with Vegemite Soldiers on their breakfast menu. (Oh, and I once had lunch there while Bill Bailey was also eating lunch there…)

I now have a long list of others places I feel I should check out! [I feel it’s necessary to point out at this moment that I am still a non-coffee drinker, but I have several reliable sources of coffee recommenders on which I base my own reviews. All their teas are great too.]

Not London, but still in the realm of public transportation – maps that show where the subways in DC, New York & Boston really go. People have already done it for London, but these are similarly fascinating.

NYC Real Map

Moving on from transport, how about some fun with Lego? Presumably, if you’re a Lego fan you’ll have watched the Culture Show Lego special? And if you’re interested in equality and want Lego to return to their non-gender specific days, you’ll have read the article about the girl from the 1981 advert? But how about witnessing the Crossrail project in Lego form? [Ok, so we haven’t quite moved on from transport.] This video depicts the boring machine – that is, a machine used to bore holes, as opposed to a machine that’s rather dull:

And how about some mind-bending Escher inspired Lego?


Finally, in what I hope might become a regular feature entitled ‘Cumberbatch Corner’, we have a couple of things that may delight those of a Cumberbatchian inclination…

Obviously, most people will have seen the video which demonstrates what happens when you bring together a smart man and two Muppets, but it’s always worth watching again (and is educational). But, I also have some aural delights for you, that I discovered quite by chance on Spotify. Honest. [There is a musician called Benedict whose work I was searching for. In typing his name, I noticed that Cumberbatch also came up – which intrigued me. Ok?]

As it seemed silly not to explore this further, a Cumberbatch playlist has resulted, which includes a three-part story set in New Cross as well as the reading of some classic literature (including Jabberwocky). But the highlight, personally, is a song taken from the soundtrack of August Osage County – a film that I’d really like to see, but am conflicted because my favourite film reviewer didn’t rate it highly. This the scene in which it occurs:

You can thank me later…

Friday Fun of a statistical & architectural nature

Good morning, let’s get this week’s fun off to a suitably theatrical start – an opening that would be appropriate for, say, the awards ceremony for the best shows on Broadway? In case you haven’t seen it already, here’s Neil Patrick Harris demonstrating why he’s hosted the Tony’s more times than anyone else except Angela Lansbury. (Fact. She did it 5 times, 2013 was his fourth.)

How better to follow that American extravaganza than with an extravaganza of American data? This might not sound fun, but trust me, it’s fascinating (and not just to a research geek). The data in question relates to dialect used across the US – so ticks several of my boxes: stats, pronunciation and pretty maps – and comes to us thanks to the University of North Carolina (and The Hairpin).

Researchers asked 122 questions, from how to pronounce “aunt” to “do you say ‘expecially’ or ‘especially’?”. To British readers, this will uncover a whole host of fascinating “but why would you say THAT??” moments. Regardless of your country of origin, you ought to find the maps fun to play with – scroll down the list of questions and see how the pronunciation/dialect is spread across the USA (you can also see map breakdowns for each option). I may have discovered this while in a lecture on Saturday and my deskmate and I may have spent some time playing with it gleefully. Here’s a brilliant example:

USA Dialect Survey

Why would you refer to a beverage as a ‘coke’ if it had nothing to do with coke??

Next, it’s Friday, so surely there must be some transport fun somewhere? Fear not, my TfL geek friends have kept me amused over the last couple of days. First up, here’s a great slideshow that not only includes disused stations then and now, but also other unseen parts of the underground world of London, such as the Mail Train and my nearest disused bit of London Transport – the Kingsway Tram Tunnel.

Kingsway Tram Tunnel

Also, if you’re a Londoner, there’s some TfL fun you can join in with. In honour of the tube’s 150th birthday [how I’m longing for this year to last forever!] five Lego tube maps have been created and are on display at different stations across the network. The genius is not just that they’re made out of Lego, but that they’re different versions of the map!!

legotube 2020A glimpse of the map unveiled at King’s Cross yesterday. (Credit.)

The five versions & their locations are:

  • 1927 Stingemore map – South Kensington
  • 1933 Beck original – Piccadilly Circus
  • 1968 map – Green Park
  • Current map – Stratford
  • Futuristic map (what the network will look like in 2020) – King’s Cross St Pancras

Yes, my mind is now working out how I can hit up all five in the next week! Fear not if you can’t hope to spot them all – they’ll eventually end up at the LT museum.

There you go. Not just something fun to read while stuck in the office on a dull Friday afternoon – something fun to do over the weekend! Enjoy!

Friday Fun with diversity

Today’s Friday Fun begins with a video that might typically be expected to finish a Friday Fun post. The Evolution of Music has been doing the rounds a bit on social networks (if I’d not been essay writing this time last week, it would no doubt have appeared more novel to my readers), but worth a share in case you’ve not seen it. Admittedly, I wish it had concentrated more on pre-20th century music and had been less American-centric, but it’s still quite a feat:

Continuing with a somewhat educational theme, regular readers will be aware that I’ve long been greatly amused with some of the ridiculous things you can find online about periods. (See previous posts on the subject.) A recent discovery has been a terribly old school Disney film about ‘the story of menstruation’ that managed to get banned. Think Fantasia, sponsored by Kotex…

If you thought that was cringeworthily old fashioned, you *must* watch ‘Growing Girls’ from the BFI archives – one of my personal favourites. Kotex still sponsor informative period videos and have been responsible for some gems in the past (just search YouTube), but I rather liked their recent myth busting campaign. Apparently, it was believed that women would turn spaghetti sauce sour once a month…

Moving on (as I’m sure some of you will be relieved to hear). What do you get when you combine the best of Shakespeare with the best of the internet? Shakespearian insults accompanied by cats, obviously!

Shakespeare cat 1

Shakespeare cat 2

Continuing the theme of uniquely English humour and language, I defy you not to be amused by at least one of these examples of British graffiti. (Warning: some may offend and are NSFW.)

Graffiti 1

Graffiti 2

Graffiti 3

Finally, something I gave to Twitter in lieu of Friday Fun last week (when I was up to my eyeballs in deadlines for this past Monday), courtesy of my fun friend Jenni – how do you fancy playing Lego virtually? No need for a tub of bricks, all you need is Google Chrome, a few spare hours and a vibrant imagination…

Building Lego with Chrome

Friday fun with tube maps, Lego and some little ponies

This is almost certainly the last Friday Fun I’ll be posting on the old website! (In fact, I’ll be having to copy & paste this across to the new one as all the content was imported last night.) All that’s needed is a little tweaking and a lot of faffing on my part (line breaks and images…) and then we’ll be good to go! In the mean time, as web faffing definitely isn’t fun, here’s some end of the week goodness…

Firstly, some TfL goodness. I actually shared this on Facebook yesterday (thanks to Katie E for the link on my wall) and it’s since done the rounds on Twitter, but I always intended it to be Friday Fun too. Here’s a brilliant re-interpretation of the map, in circular form, which still works exactly as the tube map should:

If you click on the link above, you can zoom & explore.

Another bit of TfL greatness can be found in this image on Flickr, which shows the tube map as it would look if all the ‘ghost’ stations and planned for stations were included. Utter, utter genius! My family will be pleased to note its inclusion of the ‘Northern Heights’, which gave Cranley Gardens and Muswell Hill their own stations – how our lives might have been different. *Deep nostalgic sigh*

You may have been vaguely aware of the fact that this week marked 55 years since Lego was patented. In honour of this occasion  Lego created 55 riddles – Lego bricks used to represent songs, movies, bands etc – for people to guess. I can’t find the original site, but Gizmodo shared the gallery (along with a competition, so don’t scroll down to the comments else you’ll spot the answers). I’ve got a pitiful number of them, but I think it could provide an excellent Friday afternoon challenge!

I’ll give you this one for free – as I was impressed with myself for getting it!
 In cute animal corner this week, we have ponies. To be specific, Shetland Ponies wearing cardigans. (There was a brilliant moment at dinner last night when, pretty much apropos of nothing, I instructed my friend Rachel to ‘be sure to google ponies in cardigans’. She was not disappointed.)
In case that’s not enough, here’s a video of them putting on the cardigans!

If I was the kind of person who used the word “squeeee” this would be an appropriate time to use it. I’m not, so instead I will simply thank the Visit Scotland blog for this gloriousness.

Finally, just in case this hasn’t come across your radar yet, here’s some genuine loveliness from Disney Pixar that’ll take up nearly 7 minutes of your day, in a good way:

Friday Fun with a bang. A big bang.

There was much cause for celebration last night as E4 viewers finally had some new The Big Bang Theory episodes added to the endless rotation that’s on multiple times a day. Perhaps in honour of this, CBS yesterday released a YouTube video of the cast and crew flashmobbing, mid-filming. It’s short, it’s filmed from a slightly odd angle, but it is delightful and has been played multiple times already today. You’ll need to watch it a few times if only to track what the different characters do. (Pay particular attention to Sheldon and watch it right through to the very end.)

As it’s Friday, perhaps you have plans for tonight? Perhaps you’re hoping to meet someone who might want to see again, even date perhaps? If so, I recommend watching the video below and then ensuring you DO NOT replicate it in any way…

I love the Date My Mate concept. I also love that the guy in the video is married to a trainee vicar.

Perhaps you prefer to spend your Fridays improving your mind? Fear not, I have a fun way in which you can do that too. I wouldn’t usually choose to watch a science programme on TV, however, this 3:45 animation of the basic laws of physics (narrated by Dara O Briain) is a joy to watch:

Quizes are also excellent educational fun for the end of the week. Well, they can be, it completely depends upon the topic of the quiz. An excellent (pointless) minute of distraction can be found in this ‘Is this burger from Burger King or McDonald’s’ quiz – which, if anything, demonstrates just how gross junk food can be.

Finally, something that combines several classic elements of Friday Fun: Lego, animation and comedy music. Perhaps this is a particularly niche childhood memory, but when I was young, one of the few tapes that regularly got played in the car (as opposed to listening to cricket matches or Radio 3) was a selection of Flanders & Swann classics. Follow that link to learn more, but basically, they created comic songs of an ilk that only British men in the 1950’s and 1960’s could. This is a Lego interpretation of one of those songs – The Gas Man Cometh: