zotz: (primal)
Yes, it's a picture of me baring my torch. Obviously.

Writers Bloc had readings in Biggar and Prestonpans. Read more... )
Stephen Pinker gave a lecture for the Uni, which had to be moved up into the McEwan Hall due to demand. Contains swearing. Big, clever, funny swearing. )
Obviously at the end I did what I've done many times before - tried to work out what it says around the base of the dome. "Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom and with all thy getting get understanding: exalt her and she shall bring you to honour." Proverbs, chapter 4.

Much fun. After that I went out to Dalkeith country park for a drink with Jim the arsonist and his mates, which was also great. I found some lager in Tesco's called "Lech", which is a very funny name if you ignore it being Polish.

After that it was the Meadows Festival, which was a lot smaller than previously, but then it did have its legs cut out from under it in the meantime. This was the first one for two or three years, and pretty good for effectively a new first time. Hopefully it'll gather momentum again over the next few years. There was a genuine 9/11 conspiracy theory stall, which I didn't stop and ridicule in spite of the fact that I probably could get back in touch with a structural engineer who studied the collapse of the towers in detail - something that, famously, said wackos have never paid any attention to.

Yesterday I went to see Mark Stewart and the Maffia. Read more... )
I've been reading my new (i.e. the older) copy of My Friend Mr Leakey today, which has been fun. I've noticed one thing, though - where the Seventies printing mentions Negroes as the victims of a particular kind of African devil, the older one uses a different word. It still starts with N, though. Pinker had mentioned it as currently the most taboo word in US English. I guess that in Britain it was still OK to use it in front of children as recently as 1948.

On getting back from the gig (OK, and from the pub afterwards) last night, I found a mail from a ticket agency with a whole list of stuff I've no interest in and details of Amanda Palmer playing at the end of September. Well and good, although I notice that Dolls gigs do apparently still happen very occasionally . . .

However, that wasn't the eyeopener. Other Dolls are afoot. New York Dolls, in Glasgow, anyone? In a venue the size of (and probably, admittedly, with the aroma of) a gorilla's armpit? That sounds like a good deal to me. And a couple of weeks later, Swervedriver.


Now that's not a name I thought I'd hear again. Still, tempting . . . I wonder if Dave Hetherington knows about this? I may have to pass a message via CJ.

Mixed week in politics, of course, SCOTUS have belted Bush one in the bollocks over Guantanamo. Your friend and mine Antonin Scalia, however, seems by all accounts to have delivered a shameless dissenting statementlamenting the effects of the actual decision, which would fly exactly in the face of everything he said about the grounds for his beliefs when he spoke in New College last year. Ah well. Maybe he's been misquoted.

Over here, a certain disastrous vote went the wrong way (but was tantalisingly close) and a Tory MP has resigned to fight his own safe seat at a point when the government's in trouble. His party leader, one David Cameron, described the move as "courageous", presumably meaning by Sir Humphrey's definition of the term. The words "nothing much to be gained" come to mind - he's likely to find that his only serious opposition comes from the Sun. If it descends into a farce and he ends up making himself and his party look ridiculous, he will undoubtedly go down in history as a political genius for finding a way to make the government look good in spite of its recent misadventures.

And if you think that sounds harsh, listen to what some other people are saying - one shadow cabinet member said. "There is a slight hint of self-indulgence and a slight element of tragedy. David cannot come back in a bigger position. He can only come back as even more self-righteous, but will he be more morally pure with a majority of 1,500 over the Monster Raving Loony Party? He has walked the plank and this risks looking like a pantomime."

I must finally mention that Weegie popsters The Hussy's are playing FOR FREE at the usually-execrable-but-I'll-make-an-exception-this-time 3 Sisters (on the Cowgate, if you've had the good fortune not to have come across it) on Sunday. Actually, they're playing in Manchester, at the Dry Bar, on Tuesday and in London Village (Purple Turtle, apparently) on Wednesday, so some of you could do a lot worse than pop along. Sadly, I've no indication that the other gigs are free, but I'm sure you can, as the saying goes, check local press for details.


Jul. 2nd, 2007 10:17 pm
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On Sunday I went to the FIlmhouse to see Conspirators of Pleasure as part of their short Svankmajer season, and very fine it was too. It came out about ten years ago, and I didn't see it at the time. Mostly live-action, with only a little animation, it concerns the strange and obsessive secret activities of six Czechs, and the connections between them. For some reason it got an 18 certificate, and I'd love to know how that was justified - there's no violence against people (although a couple of straw-stuffed effigies get it fairly nastily) and no nudity stronger than a couple of shots of a guy's arse. Nevertheless, it's a deeply diseased piece of work. As this review has it, "I don't think I've ever seen a film that is quite so obsessively fetishistic - almost everything that passes in front of his camera is given a weirdly erotic charge [ . . . ] it manages to present a portrait of human sexuality of unusual complexity and philosophical depth without once resorting to spoken dialogue". Perhaps they used the same phrase as for Crash - "general tone".

Fantastic stuff. Massively recommended.

Mr Inglis has given me the OK to tell you about his Writers' Bloc MySpork page, where you can listen to a few of the clips recorded at their readings. Currently you can hear Hannu Rajaniemi reading his poem "Numbers" (the bit about numbers stations existing is entirely true) and Gav himself reading "From a completely unexpected direction" (you should probably, for best results, know that before starting he had left a selection of carrier bags on and around all the tables). I know for a fact that he has an awful lot of excellent material he could put up there, so it might well be worth keeping an eye on that for developments.

In a slight surprise, the Subway is closing. The management, and apparently all the various clubs, are moving to the Hive, on Niddrie Street. Apparently the Hive is nicer. That would not, to speak frankly, be difficult. The place has always been a noxious little dive of poor reputation, and what higher recommendation could there be than that? Many years ago some friends of mine saw the Clash play there. Rather more recently (but still not actually recently) I and some friends saw Radiohead. At around the same time (perhaps even that night) I saw a support band (Tinkerbell's Dope Ring, IIRC) do a mad thrash version of Groove Is In The Heart, with (if memory serves) vocals verging on the yodel during the chorus. Someone said they'd heard that it was likely to become an R'n'B (or what passes for it these days) venue. I can't see it. Bling? In a hole like that?

In the runup to the new smoking ban Doon Sooth, the Guardian dropped into a Hull pub to record a couple of prize comments from disgruntled tobacco devotees:

"I smoke 100 to 120 cigs a day. The ban will kill us"

. . . and . . .

"They'll be banning sex next."

Now, technically speaking it hasn't been legal to get it out and get on with it in the middle of a busy pub for quite some time, but why let sanity get in the way of a good rant? Well, either that or Hull's a more fun place than I've been led to believe.

And finally, and definitely not raising the moral tone at all, thanks to whichever of you it was who posted this link - file under "Don't children make you laugh?" Not necessarily worksafe. Entirely textual. Neither big nor clever. A couple of my friends have a story that would fit in neatly there . . . but I'll let them decide whether to share it.


May. 17th, 2007 12:47 pm
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New Scientist has a handy breakdown of climate-related misconceptions which could usefully be pointed to any contrarians you might happen to see in pubs on . . . . oh, Saturday nights in the Dagda or wherever.

This is good news. In my view, anyway. I can't find the actual draft bill, though. {Ah - it's here]

I'm quite disappointed we're not going to have a leadership election. I was definitely going to vote for McDonnell if we had (he's funnier, as well as proposing stuff I gree with more) and while Gordon was pretty much certain to win I think it would have been a very worthwhile process to actually argue the tossdiscuss policy. Perhaps someone would even have persuaded Gordon to leave some useful hostages . . .

In more frivolous news, El Reg reports that novelty act Rednexx are up for sale. Apparently they have a world record for longest song name, for a little ditty called The Sad But True Story Of Ray Mingus, The Lumberjack Of Bulk Rock City, And His Never Slacking Stribe In Exploiting The So Far Undiscovered Areas Of The Intention To Bodily Intercourse From The Opposite Species Of His Kind, During Intake Of All The Mental Condition That Could Be Derived From Fermentation - 52 words, 306 characters.

This, of course, is a challenge. Can any of you think of a longer one? I'll open with Test Dept's magisterial Long Live British Democracy Which Flourishes And Is Constantly Perfected Under The Immaculate Guidance Of The Great, Honourable, Generous And Correct Margaret Hilda Thatcher. She Is The Blue Sky In The Hearts Of All Nations, Our People Pay Homage And Bow In Deep Respect And Gratitude To Her, The Milk Of Human Kindness.

53 words, 320 characters. Beat that.

Finally, I'll mention that there's a Writers' Bloc reading tonight at the Tron Tavern, and Gav's having a solo reading, and launch of a new edition of Crap Ghosts, on Saturday at the same place. Details can be found here.


Oct. 30th, 2005 09:29 pm
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Head and Shoulders shampoo now contains a splash of sea minerals, according to the advert. Or is it only me who finds that amusing? Say it several times and see what you think.


The last few days, including the film that was in the ad break of )
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The first thing I did after leaving work was to go and give blood. They've phoned me three times and sent me two cards about this - in the last three weeks, just - so I suppose they're fairly serious about wanting it. I chatted to a very nice bloke with a silly haircut (quite like my old silly haircut, actually) about their new Machine That Goes Ping, which automates the process of rocking the bloodbag to mix the anticoagulant into it, at the expense of making the process of setting out the various bags and tubes rather more complex, and forces a rearrangement afterwards into the other arrangement that the labs need them in. Apparently it was the least popular (but cheapest) of the three machines they tested, and he didn't think it was going to reduce the workload or staffing needs, which of course was the aim.

Oh well.

After that I went home, got something to eat and then went over to see Lara and Seth fresh back from Sardiniania (which is part of Italy, as you can apparently tell from the driving). After Alex and Marianne had arrived, we all forced them (at gunpoint) to show us their holiday snaps, which were excellent - all hills, limpid seas and mosaic-encrusted remains. And cormorants. Lots of cormorants.

My brief visit stretched out until half-eleven, at which point I went back and spent a couple of hours transferring two-thirds of The DaVinci Cod onto the computer so I can reuse the tape tomorrow - hopefully I can fit the other transferring job in tonight, around or amongst the Samhain stuff.

The Grauniad didn't reach KB today, so I got a copy of the Indescribablyboring instead. I didn't use to agree with that description - while a touch dry, I always found the Indie to be a well-written and informative paper - but this time (the first since tabloidisation) I haven't been able to relate to it at all. News articles and other features seemed to be scattered amongst each other without logic, and nothing really tempted me to read it for more than a few lines. I suppose it's a question of what you're used to, but clearly Indie and I have diverged, and if I ditch the Guardian over its new format I suspect it'd be for the Herald. Having said that, I haven't read the H in a while. Maybe I should.

The other annoying thing about this is that If . . . is very good this week, so I have to look for a copy on the way home - unless anyone got it and can scan today's?
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It's time for the halloween Writers' Bloc reading, and this year it's on the 27th - that's Thursday coming. This is, of course, on the Canongate in Edinburgh's old town, rather than on any other Canongate you may be aware of.

The Cabinet of Dr Calamari

Thursday 27th October 2005

rooftop lust
and one qualified squid

GASP at the eerie secret possessing a remote Scottish isle. MARVEL at demons of the Cornish coastline. DESPAIR at the incompetent activities of some "feeble fiends". SHUDDER at a true story of misappropriated Ancient Egyptian remains. TAKE ADVICE from someone with tentacles. GROAN at some truly poor puns.

Writers' Bloc is back at its regular haunt with a brand-new assortment of uncanny fiction to get you in the mood for Halloween. We promise laughs and shivers in equal measure, delivered in a cellar with a convenient selection of alcoholic beverages.

Downstairs at The Canon's Gait, 232 Canongate. 8pm start. Entry £2 (£1 concessions).


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