The autumn cold has snuck back in, which hardly seems fair when summer in Edinburgh only properly started a month ago and has been half-hearted ever since. Along with that, the seasons of the academic year have turned a not-so-young man’s fancy to thoughts of all the coursework he has to finish preparing and dissertations he has to mark in an impossibly short timeframe before next semester starts, while finishing a bunch of other work-related tasks that should have been out of the way long before now.

Read More · 31 August 2012 · Journal

Neil Armstrong’s close call. Armstrong recorded an hour-long interview last year in an unlikely venue.

Rhesus Christ! (Sadly, I can’t claim credit for that line, which comes from the comments.)

Flight of the Conchords go Band Aid with “Feel Inside (and Stuff Like That)”.

Jumbo fingerprints made by Kevin Van Aelst.

I won’t get to see A Touch of Cloth until it hits DVD soon, but here are The Making Of, a Charlie Brooker interview, and (for post-viewing consumption) Charlie Brooker and Dan Maier in The Writers’ Room.

The world’s new wonder material (via MeFi, like a few others here).

28 August 2012 · Weblog

A belated farewell to science fiction giant Harry Harrison. From The Stainless Steel Rat through The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted, to The Technicolor Time Machine, A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!, the West of Eden trilogy, and Make Room! Make Room!, I had a great time reading his stuff as a teenager. And unlike some SF authors’ work, I hung onto them all through many moves, which says a lot about how indispensable they all felt. An endlessly entertaining writer.

28 August 2012 · People

The Bells, The Bells

Daniel Holdsworth and Aidan Roberts, Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells for Two *****

There was a time when all I wrote about online was the subject captured in this antique corner of this site. My introduction to Mike Oldfield wasn’t through his most famous album, but once I was hooked I bought it in short order, and there’s no doubt that it helped consolidate my lifelong love of his work. Even if it’s never been my favourite of his albums, that 1973 recording has a vitality that some of his later work lacks, including his subsequent remixes of the album in the search for its platonic ideal, which culminated in its complete re-recording in 2003.

Read More · 27 August 2012 · Music

One Giant

When I was a boy, my bedroom wall sported a large poster of Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon with photographer Neil Armstrong reflected in his visor. My parents bought it when I was one or two, not long after the moonwalk itself, and it stayed on the back of my bedroom door for a decade. It seemed to me then that Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins were the most famous people in the world.

Now the most famous of them is no longer in the world, and in my mind I’m back in that room, gazing at that poster day after day.

But this image of Armstrong from today’s flurry of obituaries, taken by Aldrin inside the lander shortly after their moonwalk, is even better.

26 August 2012 · People

Royal Mile during the Fringe, August 2012
Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, 7 August 2012. Yes, 2012, even though that sky is suspiciously blue.

It’s six years since I’ve done anything substantial in the way of Fringe reviewing here, mostly because it’s six years since we’ve done anything substantial in the way of Fringe-going. Since W. was born we’ve got along to a few shows a year at most, and as my blogging was on the wane anyway it didn’t seem worth writing about them here. Or if it did (like the excellent kids’ comedy show by Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown last year), other things got in the way.

But I’ve managed to spend three Tuesday nights in a row getting along to stuff this year, and as the blog is a going concern again I really have no excuse. So here we go.

Read More · 22 August 2012 · Comedy

Sand at North Berwick
North Berwick, July 2012

Between other chores I’ve been gathering some photos from recent trips to post here. It always takes forever, so here’s one to tide you over. (Boom, boom.)

21 August 2012 · Travel

A great meditation on identity and authorship, which could apply to more than book-writing.

What is the internet? by Paul Miller, who’s taking a year off from it.

A perfect Japanese word: Tsundoku (n.) buying books and not reading them; letting books pile up unread.

Read More · 20 August 2012 · x1 · Weblog

On Melbn

Elsewhere on the web, people have been arguing about whether pronouncing “Melbourne” as MEL-BORN in Melbourne is rude, or whether thinking as much is chippy. That’s Melbourne, Victoria, not Melbourne, Florida, which makes all the difference, because the former is MEL-bn and the latter isn’t.

Read More · 15 August 2012 · x2 · Whatever

I’d better round off those few posts on the Olympics with one on the closing ceremony. The games themselves kept me enthralled to the end, or at least to Mo Farah’s nail-biting 5,000 metres victory on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the opening ceremony soundtrack has barely left the Now Playing slot on my iPod. I don’t think I’ll be able to say the same for the closing.

Read More · 13 August 2012 · Events

Grand Irish Olympic sailing commentary by Hardy Bucks.

Carol Ann Duffy’s poem “Translating the British, 2012” is good, but so are some of the Twitter parodies.

Olympic medals per head of population.

“I just witnessed the single greatest moment in human history” other than the Olympics.

The Castaway’s Guide to Making a Home a long way away from the Olympics.

Read More · 11 August 2012 · Weblog

Gold! Gold to Anyone! Gold!

We’ve been visiting friends, taking a few days to wander down to England and back and visit some scenic spots along the way. Spent half the weekend with them watching the Olympics on their giant telly, after following it all week at home: Jess Ennis’s final 800 metres in the women’s heptathlon, Mo Farah’s 10,000 metre win, and Andy Murray’s straight-sets defeat of Roger Federer to win the men’s singles tennis gold.

It’s a while since I’ve seen much of the Olympics at all. I grew up watching Moscow, Los Angeles and Seoul with the family, but since then it’s been patchy: a bit of Barcelona on hotel TVs while travelling; not much of Atlanta because I was starting a new job; some of Sydney while I was in San Francisco; none of Athens or Beijing.

Read More · 9 August 2012 · x1 · Events

I’ve been thinking about the Olympics opening ceremony for days, and better get some thoughts down before they’re obliterated by the games themselves. Many others have already got in first, of course, and it’s especially worth reading these good blog posts and Metafilter comments, as well as the thoughts of its director Danny Boyle and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Read More · 1 August 2012 · Events

July 2012