Dismantling the Creative Routine

Around this time last year,  Thomas Frank put forward some very pointed and accurate criticisms of the popular literature about creativity – namely, that these books and articles discussed the same examples over and over again – and wondered how much this literature could really enlighten us about creativity when it was so un-creative itself.

Now an article in Pacific Standard magazine has similarly critical things to say about another frequently discussed aspect of creativity – the “creative routine”. This, we are told, (more…)

How Latvian Mythology Contributed to the Olympic Silver in Bobsleigh

Fascinating insights from the designer of the graphics on Latvia’s Olympic bobsleds. And how great is it that all that attention to detail helped the Latvian bobsled team win a medal!!

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These past Olympics have been mind-blowing for the Latvians. A very small country, with the third most medals per capita of all participating countries, Latvia also managed to induce partial heart attacks to 35million Canadians with the show-stopping Canada vs. Latvia hockey game, drawing all eyes on Latvia (similarly to the last summer Olympics when Latvia won gold in men’s Volleyball – “Wait, do they even have summer?”)

Edit: not gold in volleyball, bet bronze in beach volleyball, beating the US team in the quarter finals. Thanks to the readers that spotted that mistake!

Bobsleigh Ornaments

A satisfying end to the Olympic run was when team Latvia’s bobsleigh team nabbed Silver on the last day. The bobsleighists had been a favourite and everyone had hopes for the team. They didn’t let us down, and just missed gold by a sliver.

But my rooting for the Latvian Bobsleigh team has a backstory, and…

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Cultural Products and Creativity: The “TMZ” Video and the Lego Librarians

Earlier this week I spent an afternoon reading trashy celebrity gossip magazines (give me a break, it’s summer). I learned way, way more than I ever needed to know about the antics of the Teen Moms, the possibly jail-bound Real Housewife, the sexting politician, and the Kardashians – and all that useless information about people I don’t even know made me think of one of my recent favourite music videos: (more…)

Why It’s Good to Be Bad at Something

A lot of writing about success and achievement encourages you to find your “passion” (a word that is getting extremely overused) or to set a goal, and then to single-mindedly work as hard as you can to achieve as much as possible. I’m going to propose an alternate strategy for improvement: do something you’re terrible at. (more…)

Reflecting on Glass: the Dale Chihuly Exhibition in Montreal

I’ve written before about different types of interactive displays at art museums, and the pros and cons of different ways museums get their visitors to think about and react to what’s on display. This past weekend, at the Dale Chihuly exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, I had the chance to experience yet another type of art museum interaction: a show (more…)

100 years of the Actors’ Equity Association

Union membership numbers have declined for a lot of occupations over the past century. But, despite major technological change in their industries, performing arts unions have maintained their presence as strong advocates for the workplace interests of performers, writers, and technicians. The Museum of the City of New York has written a wonderful post, with fascinating pictures, to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Actors’ Equity Association.

MCNY Blog: New York Stories

Look at the cast list in any theater program across the country and you will see a small * beside a performer’s name leading to a footnote indicating the performer belongs to the Actors’ Equity Association.  Peruse the program bios for these same starred performers and you will often encounter the phrase “proud member of Actors’ Equity.”  The union representing live theatrical performance turns 100 years old on Sunday. Rather than attempting 100 years of coverage in a single blog entry, this week’s posting will focus on just a few points of pride.

Actors’ Equity was founded on May 26, 1913 when 112 theatrical actors met at the Pabst Grand Circle Hotel in New York City.

Six months before this meeting the Actors’ Society of America, a previous attempt at organizing a labor union for theatrical actors, dissolved, due in large part to the fact that the Actors’…

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My Boston

Boston is one of my absolute favourite cities. And so I was horrified, as we all were, at the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the chaos afterwards. When I’ve visited Boston, I’ve spent a lot of time in Cambridge, where the two alleged bombers grew up and where they escaped to after the bombs went off. It was surreal for me to watch TV and see police in full combat gear running down streets that I know very well and where I always feel very safe.

I’m posting a few pictures that I took in Boston today, to show why I love visiting here. It’s a beautiful and resilient city, (more…)

Kate Bush Receives Her CBE

As a huge Kate Bush fan, it delights me to report that yesterday she was officially appointed as a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for “services to music”. The appointment was announced this past December in the 2013 New Year Honours List, but the actual ceremony was yesterday.

Kate Bush receives her CBE from Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. (photo credit:

Kate Bush receives her CBE from Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. (photo credit:

Here is her message on her website about the honour, along with a picture of her medal.

Congratulations, Kate!!!

“All About Work” Is Taking a Holiday Break

All About Work will be taking time off over the holidays – which I hope all its readers will be able to do as well. I’ll be posting again starting in mid-January.

I began this blog in March 2012, and the response has been extremely gratifying – more than 6,000 hits so far. I’m very appreciative of all the visits and all the reader comments – and I’m looking forward to continuing the interaction.

It's been a whirlwind year. (credit: my own photo)

It’s been a busy year. (credit: my own photo)

To summarize the year’s activity at All About Work, here’s a list of the most popular posts from 2012.

  1. Imagine: How Did This Happen? (Special thanks to the kind folks at WordPress who selected this post to be featured on the Freshly Pressed page.)
  2. Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000-Hour Rule” Doesn’t Add Up
  3. One Year and Counting: Rocky Mountaineer Lockout Keeps Chugging Along
  4. Best Author Acknowledgement Ever
  5. Things that Make You Go…Wow

Thanks, everyone, for your support. See you in 2013!

Things that Make You Go…Wow

I love art, and I love design. But sadly, I don’t come across a lot of innovative or thoughtful design in the publications I see in my academic work. (I’d like to think that my textbook’s cover design – centered around a wonderful painting by Group of Seven member A.Y. Jackson – is an exception to that norm.)

So when I went to the Association for Studies in Higher Education academic conference this month, at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, I wasn’t expecting to find good art or good design. But I was very pleasantly surprised (more…)