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Adam Driver shifts into hyper drive

TORONTO (AP) — It comes as something of a shock to be talking with Adam Driver and hear so little cursing. Nothing is thrown. No explicit sexual act is performed.

Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” has obviously colored impressions of the 30-year-old actor, as has the kind of language often used to describe his performances — words like “primal,” ”animalistic” and “raw.” But the gulf between Driver and his “Girls” character (also named Adam), is surprisingly — and impressively — vast.

Unlike the intense, unpredictable urban hedonist he’s played for three seasons and counting on HBO’s “Girls,” Driver is plainly serious, thoughtful, erudite and even slightly hesitant. If he’s aggressively electric on screen, he’s almost timid off it.

“As a person, I naturally want to overthink things and analyze what it means — not only acting, but, like, the meaning of life,” says Driver. “It’s probably the nature of my job, constantly trying to spy on things and take them in. But I have a constant battle in acting where I almost have to fight that impulse.”

It’s a battle he’s been winning. Driver’s live-wire spontaneity, his unusually lanky, 6-foot-3 presence, and his seemingly direct tap to unfiltered emotions have made him one of the most magnetic actors of his generation. This Friday, two of his films will open: Shawn Levy’s ensemble comedy “This Is Where I Leave You,” adapted from Jonathan Topper’s novel, in which he plays the youngest and least mature sibling of a family gathered for a funeral, and the Australian desert drama “Tracks,” where he plays a National Geographic photographer trailing the camel-trekking Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska).

The films — one a studio comedy, the other an elegant indie — are clear proof of Driver’s versatility. Further expansions are on the horizon. He flew into the recent Toronto Film Festival from the London set of “Star Wars: Episode VII,” a movie likely to boost his fame considerably. He brought two other films to Toronto, too: Noah Baumbach’s generational comedy “While We’re Young” and Saverio Costanzo’s family drama “Hungry Hearts” (which won him best actor at the Venice Film Festival). He stars in Jeff Nichols’ next picture, “Midnight Special,” and this fall he’ll shoot “Silence” with Martin Scorsese.

“I think of who I was four years ago and I can’t imagine that person now,” says Driver, who married actress Joanne Tucker last year. “Suddenly your kind of anonymity goes away. Your relationships around people change a little bit. You just calm down more. Your nerves calm down and suddenly your first impulse isn’t anger. You hope it’s rational thought.”

Driver used to have more anger. Raised by devout Baptists in Mishawaka, Indiana, he joined the Marines at age 18 after Sept. 11, but a broken sternum from a mountain biking accident ended his military career.

Instead of going to Iraq, Driver went to Julliard.

Driver had been coming to the realization that he wanted to be an actor, and when he got to Julliard, he pursued acting with the dogged determination of a Marine.

“Suddenly, I wasn’t intimidated by anything,” says Driver. “I thought that acting could be pretty simple. When I happened to get into school, I felt like I could approach it as aggressively as things in the military.”

That rare combination — soldier and thespian — represents the curious contradictions of Driver: a classically trained Marine.

“There is no Adam Driver type,” says Levy. “He’s singular. He’s weird and beautiful and primal. And you literally don’t know what he’s going to do or say next. … The second I say ‘cut,’ he’s out of his chair he’s literally just stalking, prowling.”

Driver was already 27 when cast in “Girls,” but his ascendance has been swift. He quickly drew the interest of Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”) and the Coen brothers (“Inside Llewyn Davis”). “Tracks” director John Curran looked him up after reading a “Girls” review that hailed him as “one of the oddest, funniest, strangest new faces.”

“He’s got the ability to be really playful in front of the camera, but he thinks about it quite a bit,” says Curran. “His sexiness is his anti-vanity. He’s clued into being absolutely present without editing himself to look better.”

It will be interesting to see how “Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams utilizes Driver, who inevitably stands out. “It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done,” says Driver of the lengthy, big-budget production. “But you still have to approach it like any other thing and J.J. has made it so you can.”

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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Peebles mountain biking summit attracts global interest

CyclistsThe mountain biking conference takes place later this year at Peebles Hydro

Worldwide interest is growing in a mountain biking summit to be held in the Scottish Borders later this year.

Delegates from Denmark, Sweden, Holland and Switzerland are among those who will attend the event in Peebles.

The Scottish Mountain Biking Conference is taking place in the region from 11 to 13 November.

Among the speakers will be Commonwealth Games cyclist Grant Ferguson and Swiss rider Hans Rey, known as the “world’s foremost adventure rider”.

Graeme McLean, project manager of Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, said: “It’s extremely exciting to look at the delegate list forming for the conference, and to see such a wide range of nationalities already signed up.

“We know that the mountain biking we have here in Scotland is world class, and it is good to see that appreciation on a world stage.

“Our international visitors are sure to have a fantastic time in Scotland and we look forward to welcoming them.”

‘Global centre’

Kerry Watson, from the business tourism unit of VisitScotland, said it was thrilled with the level of interest.

“Mountain biking is already a very profitable industry for the Scottish economy, and the success of the conference further highlights the value of mountain biking to us,” she said.

“With international stars arriving as speakers, alongside the delegates from a variety of countries around the world, Peebles will once again turn into a global centre of excellence for mountain biking.

“We know that Peebles, and Scotland hold a great draw for international mountain bikers, and the professionals involved in delivering mountain biking, and we are looking forward to sharing our experiences and good practice with them.”

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Need to save? Get on your bike

Here in the Guardian Money pages we bang on and on about the relatively simple ways to save money. Get the right mortgage – that’s vital. Change your home insurance provider every year. Switch gas and electricity providers (as we write this week, we rather like Flow Energy’s deal). But my personal favourite – the saving that keeps giving, year after year? Get on your bike.

My own cycle to work is around seven miles each way (including a detour to avoid Elephant and Castle which adds half a mile to the journey but probably years to my life expectancy).

The immediate saving is £5.80 for a return train ticket on the same journey. If I were buying a season ticket, it would be £1,256 a year. Then there’s the coffee – £2 a day, so possibly another £400 or so a year. Add in a newspaper (I’ll pretend we don’t all pick up Metro) and we’re talking another £300, taking the total to around £2,000 a year, or £3,333 from the gross earnings of a higher-rate taxpayer. Apart from giving up smoking, there is no other change to one’s daily working pattern that can produce such large savings.

Next Thursday 4 September is National Cycle to Work Day. Already 760,000 people in the UK do so most days and campaigners are hoping at least an extra 20,000 will join them on Thursday, as they seek to raise the number of regular cycle-commuters to 1 million by the end of the decade.

On Thursday we won’t just be hearing about how much money you save, or the multiple health benefits, but also that cyclists perform better at work and are more frequently promoted. We cyclists can be so fabulously self-righteous maybe we should be calling it National Holier Than Thou Day.

The critics will point out that those £2,000 a year savings don’t come for free. You have to buy a bike, a helmet, the clothing, the lock, the lights, the insurance, and an annual service.

Once-humble bike shops have morphed into boutiques where prices match the ambition, if not the pace, of middle aged men with too much fat in their wallets. Great to see that in the Condor Cycles sale its Leggero road bike is down by £884 – to just £7,999 (it is a rather lovely shop, mind).

So we asked CycleScheme.co.uk, which has helped 425,000 people buy bikes tax-free through employer-run salary sacrifice schemes, to name the bicycles it reckons make most sense for commuters starting out. Its favourite budget option is the B’Twin Triban 300, £279 at Decathlon stores.

“This is a great starter road bike. It’s strong, durable and has everything you need to start commuting, including a frame which is rear-panier-rack-ready so you can easily attach luggage. Plus it comes with a lifetime B’Twin warranty,” say its researchers. The drop handle bars may not appeal to some, though.

If you can afford a few hundred quid more, then you should be taking a look at Tokyo Bikes. The company was founded in the Yanaka suburb of Tokyo in 2002, and makes lightweight and colourful bikes for city commuters who prefer comfort to speed. “The CS model at £580 offers flexibility with an eight-speed Shimano Acera, while keeping things streamlined, simple and light (just 10.8kg),” say CycleScheme researchers. Unfortunately, that price doesn’t include the mudguards, a rather essential extra for commuting.

The most important money tip is to buy through a tax-free Cycle To Work provider and save up to 42%.

Of course, you don’t have to buy new as Gumtree is flooded with nice-looking used bikes. It’s my firm belief, though, that almost every one of them is nicked (including my old one).

Bikes: bang for your buck

B'Twin Triban road bike
The B’Twin Triban – a great starter road bike.

Best all-rounder under £500 Scott Sportster 50 – £449 The Scott Sportster 50 is a great all-round commuting bike and a real bargain. Sturdy, comfortable and ideally suited to almost any type of commute, yet surprisingly easy on the wallet.

Best all-rounder over £500 Giant Defy 0 2015 – £999 A massive amount of bang for your buck here. Super hi-tech components – including FluidForm ALUXX SL aluminium tubes – the Defy 0 is a flash, but at the same time a very dependable commuting bike. It’ll certainly turn heads as you whizz past your fellow commuters in the morning.

Best for urban commutes tokyobike CS – £580 Tokoybike makes its bikes with urban commuting squarely in mind. Stylish and sleek, their simplicity means their prices can be trim too. The CS model offers flexibility with an eight-speed Shimano Acera, while keeping things streamlined, simple and light (just 10.8kg). The perfect easy bike to hop on and off as you cycle around the city.

Best for rural commutes Trek X-Caliber 8E – £800 The X-Caliber provides a fast, comfortable ride no matter the terrain. It features an Alpha Gold Aluminium frame that provides a fast, refined ride with G2 Geometry for better handling too – and at a great price. What’s more, savvy buyers will be pleased by its limited lifetime warranty from Trek, so it’ll be your rural commuting friend for many years to come.

Best for split journeys Brompton M3L – £905 The British classic is perfect for a mixed-mode commute. Robust enough to cope with busy city streets, yet lightweight and compact enough to be carried on the train, tube and bus. Its British design is notoriously robust and strong, so even if it seems expensive at first – it’ll last you in the long run. The Brompton S1L sits comfortably within the Cycle to Work scheme £1,000 limit, with room for accessories and a helmet too.

Best budget option B’Twin Triban 300 – £279.99 This is a great starter road bike. It’s strong, durable and has everything you need to start cycle commuting, including a frame which is rear-panier-rack-ready so you can easily attach luggage. Plus it comes with a lifetime B’Twin warranty.

Finally, the most important money saving tip is that you can save up to 42% on all bikes and accessories if you go through a tax-free Cycle To Work provider such as Cyclescheme.

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A Designer’s Quick Guide to Being a Designer

What I’ve found is that most people’s idea of a graphic designer is someone who pretends to work hard; wears overly skinny jeans, rides a fixed gear bike, and obsesses over Bastille’s Dan Smith. In other words, someone who has it very easy and farts around a lot. The truth is, graphic designers are a very diverse bunch and more importantly, designers are constantly being pushed and expected to do more in their roles.

If you’re about to start out in a career as a designer, read on for my two cents’ worth…

Tools of the trade

Let’s start off easy shall we? As this is a tech-facing blog it’s only right that we address this section first. The cost of a computer good enough to meet your needs is pretty bloody expensive and as most designers gravitate towards Apple, buying anything other than a Mac will make you feel dirty (cognitive bias at play). Could you do the same job on a PC as you could on an Apple? You certainly can (with just a little more elbow grease than is required on a Mac). Does every designer know this? They sure do. But this does not stop designers up and down the land consuming Apple goods in the pursuit of a better end product.

So what we’ve gathered so far is that hardware is quite costly, but we haven’t even got to the real eye-watering part of your arsenal: software. Ever looked at how much it costs to rent the Adobe Creative Suite? It boggles the mind that Adobe requires £27.34 a month for a collection of programs. That’s £328.08 a year, and that’s just Adobe. Even with discounts the cost of software is unreal and a real barrier to students wanting to learn the tools of their future trade. Some people may be saying that you don’t need the whole creative suite to do your job. True in some cases but to make it in a career as a designer you need to be flexible, which leads us on to…

Flexibility

Being flexible in your position is key to mastering a design job. No longer are designers just required to design. Being a designer now means you’ve also got to be an illustrator, photographer, web developer, videographer and in direct reference to my job — business ideas generator, events organiser, general handy-man, and driver. If designers were an animal we’d all be octopuses with tentacles in varying flavours. The huge problem with all of this? It’s easy to become good at lots of things but never become great. In terms of keeping up to date with programs, I haven’t learned much more since the CS3 days and can still quite confidently take on most projects. But keeping up to date on current design trends is a lot harder.

Now I’m sure you’d imagine with such a large skill set to keep on top of, it’ll be difficult to keep up to date and relevant. It is quite honestly a constant struggle, but one I try to steer well clear of. There are designers that immerse themselves in the most up-to-date trends in fashion and music to try and get a grasp of the latest design ideas (even though they are deep into their 30s).

In my opinion it’s best to forget all of that and just work from a basic set of fundamentals that that will ultimately get you through the entirety of your design career. Believe it or not, on a weekly basis when collecting adverts for the magazines I’m putting together, it’s usually the big London agencies that continue to give me adverts that are either a wrong size, have no bleed or are riddled with RGB images. You can have all the up-to-date knowledge on design trends while sporting your vintage clothes and stroking your beard, but if you can’t even complete a very basic requirement of your job you’ll quickly become less trusted and your reputation tarnished.

Look around you at what other designers are working on, learn what’s hot and what’s not but never be afraid to have your own opinion. If you hate something that everyone creams over, congratulations, you’ve taken an important step in securing your own unique personality in design.

Will there be designers reading this that disagree?

I hope so!

What makes me an expert on this subject?

Not a thing — in fact, I’m pretty average. But if a bog-standard designer like myself can see the wood for the trees, I’m sure you will carve a path through your career and reach the same conclusion as I have: Don’t sit on your arse in an office all your life; for real inspiration you’ve got to take a walk outside once in a while.

Oxford-based Rob Scotcher is a graphic designer but also photographer, cake-eater, and lover of climbing trees, snowboarding, quad-biking and gadgets. Follow him on Twitter here.

Spiels From “Them Below” is our new series of columns written by “them below”: the thousands of readers who comment tirelessly, or tirelessly read, Gizmodo UK. Have you got something to lament? Extol? Ponder? Get in touch at kat.hannaford[at]futurenet.com, after reading the details here. Disclaimer: content in Spiels From “Them Below” doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of Gizmodo UK or its editors.

Image Credit: Designer from Shutterstock

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Biking’s benefits still outweigh risks

AUSTIN, Texas Add this to the debate over the health risks of cycling: A new study shows a link between prostate cancer and older men who spend a lot of time riding a bike.

But before you quit your bike, let’s talk.

The good news first. The study, by scientists at University College London and published in the July edition of the Journal of Men’s Health, found no link between cycling time and erectile dysfunction or infertility. Smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, inactivity and age all had a lot more to do with those problems than did cycling.

The study did, though, show an increase in the risk of prostate cancer in men over age 50, especially those who cycled more than 8.5 hours a week.

The University College London study surveyed more than 5,000 male cyclists, including 2,000 who were older than 50, from 2012 to 2013.

Fewer than 1 per cent of the men included in the study reported a prostate cancer diagnosis — but almost 3.5 per cent of the men over age 50 who biked more than 8.5 hours reported they had prostate cancer. Only about 0.6 per cent of those who biked less than 3.45 hours reported a prostate cancer diagnosis.

The study looked to make sure the increased rates weren’t due to the older cyclists getting more health checkups; they were not.

Even so, the benefits of cycling outweigh the risk of prostate cancer as long as you take a few precautions, says Austin oncologist Dr. Russ Hoverman, 69. Hoverman gave up running because of bad knees and now logs between 60 and 120 miles a week on his bike. Even after reading the new study he says he has no plans to cut down on his riding, which keeps him fit, clears his mind and gives him some quiet time to solve problems.

And that makes sense. Cycling, like other forms of exercise, can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. It can help you control your weight, and being fit just plain feels good.

The problems with prolonged cycling come mainly from repeated pounding, pressure and compression of the prostate gland, which lies only a few centimetres below the surface. That can cause discomfort or numbness — and maybe more serious issues.

Still, Hoverman says, “bike riding on average is probably a plus. The thing bikers really have to worry about is crashes.”

Much broader studies — including one from the U.K. that encompassed 5 million subjects over seven years — have shown that people who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of many types of cancer, including kidney, thyroid, liver and colon.

Hoverman says the link the study found between prostate cancer and bicycle riding surprised him. But, he added, the relatively small study was not definitive. It was based on self-reported data, and even its authors noted that more research is needed.

“Nobody has looked at causation. The nature of this study shows it might not even be correct,” Hoverman says. “You never know in a voluntary study what makes people want to respond. There are too many unknowns.”

Still, he says, it makes sense to take a few precautions. Pay attention while you ride — if you feel numbness, tingling or pain, take a break. Look for cycling gear that’s easy on the anatomy (more about that in the list below), and avoid riding on rough surfaces. Talk to your doctor about whether you should have a prostate cancer test.

The take-away is pretty simple.

“If you’re uncomfortable on the bike, you probably need to do something about it,” Hoverman says.

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A Designer’s Quick Guide on Being a Designer

What I’ve found is that most people’s idea of a graphic designer is someone who pretends to work hard; wears overly skinny jeans, rides a fixed gear bike, and obsesses over Bastille’s Dan Smith. In other words, someone who has it very easy and farts around a lot. The truth is, graphic designers are a very diverse bunch and more importantly, designers are constantly being pushed and expected to do more in their roles.

If you’re about to start out in a career as a designer, read on for my two cents’ worth…

Tools of the trade

Let’s start off easy shall we? As this is a tech-facing blog it’s only right that we address this section first. The cost of a computer good enough to meet your needs is pretty bloody expensive and as most designers gravitate towards Apple, buying anything other than a Mac will make you feel dirty (cognitive bias at play). Could you do the same job on a PC as you could on an Apple? You certainly can (with just a little more elbow grease than is required on a Mac). Does every designer know this? They sure do. But this does not stop designers up and down the land consuming Apple goods in the pursuit of a better end product.

So what we’ve gathered so far is that hardware is quite costly, but we haven’t even got to the real eye-watering part of your arsenal: software. Ever looked at how much it costs to rent the Adobe Creative Suite? It boggles the mind that Adobe requires £27.34 a month for a collection of programs. That’s £328.08 a year, and that’s just Adobe. Even with discounts the cost of software is unreal and a real barrier to students wanting to learn the tools of their future trade. Some people may be saying that you don’t need the whole creative suite to do your job. True in some cases but to make it in a career as a designer you need to be flexible, which leads us on to…

Flexibility

Being flexible in your position is key to mastering a design job. No longer are designers just required to design. Being a designer now means you’ve also got to be an illustrator, photographer, web developer, videographer and in direct reference to my job — business ideas generator, events organiser, general handy-man, and driver. If designers were an animal we’d all be octopuses with tentacles in varying flavours. The huge problem with all of this? It’s easy to become good at lots of things but never become great. In terms of keeping up to date with programs, I haven’t learned much more since the CS3 days and can still quite confidently take on most projects. But keeping up to date on current design trends is a lot harder.

Now I’m sure you’d imagine with such a large skill set to keep on top of, it’ll be difficult to keep up to date and relevant. It is quite honestly a constant struggle, but one I try to steer well clear of. There are designers that immerse themselves in the most up-to-date trends in fashion and music to try and get a grasp of the latest design ideas (even though they are deep into their 30s).

In my opinion it’s best to forget all of that and just work from a basic set of fundamentals that that will ultimately get you through the entirety of your design career. Believe it or not, on a weekly basis when collecting adverts for the magazines I’m putting together, it’s usually the big London agencies that continue to give me adverts that are either a wrong size, have no bleed or are riddled with RGB images. You can have all the up-to-date knowledge on design trends while sporting your vintage clothes and stroking your beard, but if you can’t even complete a very basic requirement of your job you’ll quickly become less trusted and your reputation tarnished.

Look around you at what other designers are working on, learn what’s hot and what’s not but never be afraid to have your own opinion. If you hate something that everyone creams over, congratulations, you’ve taken an important step in securing your own unique personality in design.

Will there be designers reading this that disagree?

I hope so!

What makes me an expert on this subject?

Not a thing — in fact, I’m pretty average. But if a bog-standard designer like myself can see the wood for the trees, I’m sure you will carve a path through your career and reach the same conclusion as I have: Don’t sit on your arse in an office all your life; for real inspiration you’ve got to take a walk outside once in a while.

Oxford-based Rob Scotcher is a graphic designer but also photographer, cake-eater, and lover of climbing trees, snowboarding, quad-biking and gadgets. Follow him on Twitter here.

Spiels From “Them Below” is our new series of columns written by “them below”: the thousands of readers who comment tirelessly, or tirelessly read, Gizmodo UK. Have you got something to lament? Extol? Ponder? Get in touch at kat.hannaford[at]futurenet.com, after reading the details here. Disclaimer: content in Spiels From “Them Below” doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of Gizmodo UK or its editors.

Image Credit: Designer from Shutterstock

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