45 Minutes

So. I’ve been avoiding it all week, but the saga needs a conclusion now that all those reviews are out of the way.

Read More · 31 August 2006 · · UK Culture

Hang On...

...isn’t this supposed to be a weblog?

Read More · 29 August 2006 · · Weblog

Fringe, Part Three

Tonight was the last night of the Edinburgh Fringe, so here’s one last round of comedy reviews. I don’t enjoy naming and shaming one or two star shows, so I’ve omitted my least favourite (polished performers who’d previously been nominated for awards, but the jokes just weren’t there). Fortunately, most of the shows we saw this year were good, and two of them—Josie Long and Mark Watson—won well-deserved awards at the Perrier successors, the appallingly named if.comeddies. (I’d been telling friends that they were two of my favourite performers this year—both of them lively, warm and engaging—even though I rated each of their shows a four here. I reserve my fives for shows that have me laughing uncontrollably, which can be tough on those that are only consistently very good.)

Read More · 28 August 2006 · · Comedy

Snow Patrol

We were out at Meadowbank stadium a second night in a row last night to see Elbow and Snow Patrol, two of my favourite bands of recent years. Muse were going to be a hard act to follow, and it was raining as we walked there, so I wondered if this would be a more sedate affair. But the rain cleared up just as we arrived, and we ended up in almost the same spot on the field as the night before.

Read More · 26 August 2006 · · Music

Knights of Hyperbole

When I told a friend who reads this site that I was going to see Muse at T on the Fringe, he laughed and rolled his eyes. “You and Muse! Muse, Muse, Muse!” I had to concede his point... it’s possible that I may have hyped the band just a tad over the years.

Read More · 25 August 2006 · · Music

Testing Times

Dates have this habit of rushing up on you like a highlander brandishing a claymore, and tomorrow’s is about to whack me over the head—because tomorrow is when Jane and I do our Life in the UK test. Yes, as those of you who’ve been following the saga will know, it’s now more than five years since we arrived in the UK and over a year since we became permanent residents, which makes us eligible to apply for citizenship—dual citizenship, as Aussies can have nowadays. Which means doing it pronto, before the Home Office or the Australian government change the rules. They’ve already raised the number of years to get permanent residency from four to five, so we were lucky to avoid that.

Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do about this test, which was introduced last November. Some of our friends got in under the line, but no such joy for us. It gets worse: because of this new requirement there was a surge of applications last October by people who’d never got around to applying, leading to an enormous backlog at the Home Office, who now warn that new applications are taking more than six months to be processed—during which they keep your passport. It used to be that you could send notarised copies, but the whole system has been under such strain that they’ve stopped doing that, so once we send our applications in we won’t be going anywhere until next spring. We thought that surely there must be some way to speed things up, but the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau said no, there really isn’t. If we’re lucky we’ll get the results before Christmas; if not, next summer.

Read More · 22 August 2006 · · UK Culture

Thank You Falettinme Be MySpace

I’m still not entirely sure why I’m doing this, but I’ve joined the yoof at last by setting up a MySpace page. It’s early days yet; I actually registered a month ago but only put some stuff in place yesterday. That was waiting for me to convert some mp3s into full-blown videos, because I hadn’t realised that you have to have a musician account to post mp3s. (The recordings are from a collection of fourteen made at the end of April at my friends’ home studio. The plan is to put together a whole album’s worth, but that needs at least another recording session, probably two.)

Read More · 21 August 2006 · · Site News

Dandys Rule OK

The Dandy Warhols played at the Liquid Room last night as part of T on the Fringe. I was looking forward to this, because I missed them the last time I had the chance (Melbourne, 2001—feeling too broke). Because of their latest album, though, my expectations were modest; it just doesn’t do a lot for me.

But I’d forgotten how much I loved their first four—ever since hearing “Minnesoter” on the radio in ’98, they’ve been one of my favourite bands—and they played a ton of stuff from those, as well as some from Odditorium and a new track, “Have a Kick Ass Summer (Me and My Friends)”. They opened with “Godless” and “Get Off” from Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, then a few from Welcome to the Monkey House, then “I Love You” from Come Down... and then one I barely recognised, because I haven’t listened to Odditorium enough.

Read More · 19 August 2006 · · Music

This all happened because of something that didn’t happen [via Ed].

An economist suggests that creativity comes in two distinct types—quick and dramatic, or careful and quiet. So now you can hope that you’re a slow-burner with your best work ahead, while being plagued by the fear that you were an early-bloomer whose bloom wasn’t up to much.

Blogs and coffee.

Oh, and a follow-up to that bus business.

17 August 2006 · Weblog

Fringe, Part Two

A few more reviews.

Read More · 17 August 2006 · · Comedy

My Very Earnest Man

Apparently the International Astronomical Union is soon to vote on a proposed definition of the term “planet” to solve the is-Pluto-or-isn’t-it problem—one that includes not just Pluto but Ceres (the largest asteroid), Pluto’s moon Charon, the recently discovered 2003 UB313 (unofficially called “Xena”), and whatever else we find out there in years to come... probably many, many more. [Via Graham’s LJ, which I can’t leave comments on because I don’t have an account. I suppose I could always sign up, but then I’d feel this moral pressure to start posting about my deepest feelings and how my mood is (frowny-face) petulant. Don’t want to, don’t WANT to.]

A commenter at Bad Astronomy Blog left an open challenge to come up with a new mnemonic to remember all the names in the correct order. You know I’d never be able to leave that one alone.

Read More · 16 August 2006 · · Whatever

Fringe, Part One

The Fringe is well underway, so I should say a few words on the dozen shows we’ve seen so far. A few is about right: I’ve been doing those four-word reviews for The Times where they send out a text after the show and you text back your review. It’s surprisingly difficult to say much in four words; again and again I’ve wanted at least five or six, if only to include a “but”. Here are the ones I’ve sent them over the past week, with ratings from 1-5...

Read More · 13 August 2006 · · Comedy

Minor housekeeping: I’ve been adding a few things behind the scenes to Found and Rory Central, including an edited version of perhaps the best thing I’ve ever written for this blog. (The edit was to fit the word limit of a BBC travel writing competition, which I entered and never heard anything more about. Thought I might as well give it an airing here.)

12 August 2006 · Site News

Goodbye, Jumbo

“Of course we’re all afraid of being blown up in a terrorist attack on a plane,” one of the Today programme announcers said on Radio 4 while interviewing someone this morning.

But hang on. Why should the successful prevention of a terrorist attack make us more afraid of terrorist attacks? Surely such successes should make us less afraid. People in Britain have known about terrorist threats for years. Yesterday’s events, if we take them at face value, are evidence that our police can prevent at least some of those attacks. Given the high-profile cock-ups of recent times, that should be cause for celebration, not fear.

Read More · 11 August 2006 · · Events

Carry This On

Liberty

10 August 2006 · Events

Coining It

It doesn’t happen often, but it’s always fun to get an update on some obscure page or post lurking in the archives of your website, newly discovered by some random surfer via the good offices of Google. Today’s heads-up concerned this 2001 rant about coin reform. Turns out that New Zealand has taken the initiative (while Australia takes its sweet bloody time) by shrinking its 10, 20 and 50 cent pieces and waving goodbye to the 5 altogether. Choice, cuzzes.

Read More · 9 August 2006 · · Whatever

Busted

In five years of living in Edinburgh I’ve had my share of frustrating encounters with bureaucracy, but a few small victories have served to bolster my spirits, one of them this early episode with Lothian Buses. It’s given me a warm glow every time I’ve laid my Ridacard on the electronic reader to see the name “King Rory Ewins” and a photo of me suppressing my laughter. It’s been, in fact, the very best thing about catching buses in this city.

Read More · 7 August 2006 · · UK Culture

And the Winner Is...

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Two of you, anyway. Who out of the dozens, nay, couple of entrants to the Speedysnail Seventh Birthday Extravaganza will win the dozens, nay, two prizes on offer? Who will be taking home the striking hachimaki and the envy-inducing pencil set? Most importantly, who will get which?

Read More · 7 August 2006 · · Site News

London Fields

We went down to London a couple of times in June and July, first to see my brother and Jane’s brother, who had both come over for work, and then to see James and friends at a recording of That Mitchell and Webb Look (which was great, so watch out for it in September). Along the way there was the usual photographic frenzy.

6 August 2006 · Travel

I’ve been immersed in readings for my fast-approaching course all week, but have a few moments to come up for air, so let’s shuffle my smiling visage down the page by linking a few things.

Read More · 4 August 2006 · · Weblog

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