Friday Photo Blogging: Straylight botanical gardens

Since I’ve been huddled indoors all week with a cold which refuses to budge (despite generous applications of vitamins, caffeine and healthy food), we have another “no proper photography” week on our hands. So, a snap-shot from Second Life instead:

Straylight Botanical Gardens 6

That’s yours truly (as my alter ego, Isambard Portsmouth) taking a constitutional in the Botanical Gardens at Straylight, whose enterprising owner has realised that the best way to promote and market his skill with sculpties is to make a place that people will visit just because it looks nice.

It’s about as close to nature as you’ll get in SL at the moment … and when you have an inkling as to the degree of work and expertise involved in creating objects like those trees, it’s even more impressive.

Writing about music

The barrage of music reviewing continues apace; I’ve upped the number of albums I cover in recent weeks because my newly rationalised working procedures have permitted me to do so, but I think I’m now at a peak quota. If I take on any more, and I’ll have no flex left to incorporate other forms of work into my schedule, and I’m hoping that some other forms of work may well be in the pipeline as we speak.

I’ve also been looking into the logistics and planning of my proposed solo music reviews site, as well as poking around with WordPress themes and costing up my hosting options. Watch this space!

So, here’s a few highlights from my music reviews that went live this week:

The next month or so will see me interviewing some of my favourite bands, including the aforementioned Oceansize and Hundred Reasons. As yet unconfirmed (but still a distinct possibility) is a chat with none other than Sir Henry of Rollins. Note to self – bullsh*t questions are not going to wash with this particular interviewee!

Writing about books

Completed my review of Karl Schroeder’s Queen Of Candesce, and sent it off to TTA Towers along with all the other reviews to be included in Interzone #213. So most of the writing about books I’ve been concerned with this week has been stuff written by other people, but that’s fine – I’m learning a lot about different ways of writing from having to edit other people’s work.

I’ve also been taking notes in preparation for writing a review of Lucius Shepard’s Dagger Key collection (for Vector) over the weekend to come. I wasn’t sure what I’d make of the book when I was sent it, as I’m not an aficionado of ‘dark fantasy’, but suffice to say that I now understand why so many people told me I was lucky to be given the book to review – he’s quite a writer. I’m not sure if I’d go out of my way to buy his stuff in future, but I’d certainly recommend him to fantasy and horror fans of my acquaintance.

Next on the slate is McDonald’s Brasyl, which has been in the queue for a long time, but needs to be reviewed for Foundation

Writing about other stuff

My ‘beginner’s guide to Second Life’ is currently being incorporated into the coming edition of D+PAD Magazine, and if it looks as good as the current issue, I’m going to be proud to see my name next to it. And I’ve been asked to follow on with a regular SL column, too … so, time to start cribbing from Warren Ellis! 😉

Writing at VCTB

Yeah, I know, I’ve been slack as hell. If you’re interested in excuses, I’ll mention that a certain amount of ‘bedding-in’ of the new bloggers at Futurismic has been ongoing, and that this damnable cold has slowed me down considerably – thinking clearly is still a matter of conscious effort, and hard to sustain for more than half an hour at a time. But I’ll be back on form soon, don’t you worry …

Books and magazines seen

None. Nada. Nowt. Naff all. Not a terrible occurrence, because the TBR pile is quite big enough already … but unusual enough to be notable. I feel strangely incomplete.


The weekend arrives, and with it grey clouds and rain … I table a motion to declare this The Most. Rubbish. Summer. EVAR.

Still, the weekend is the weekend, and it brings with it plenty of things to do. Tonight is the grand final of The Wedgewood Rooms battle-of-the-bands, where yours truly will be dispensing his judicial decisions for the last time this year. However, due to this enduring illness, I’m not going to be drinking … meaning I get the fun of watching everyone else steadily descend into gibbering inebriation, which should more than compensate.

Sunday is the last of the month, which sees me down at Tongues And Grooves, the poetry and music open-mic night I attend. We’ve no special guest this month, instead concentrating on local artists, and I have a fifteen minute slot to fill with readings of my own work and that of other people, which should be fun (if a trifle nerve-wracking – I never have gotten over the stage-fright thing, even in a small venue with no stage).

But first things first – it’s time for The Friday Curry Of Justice, as is traditional. Have a good weekend, folks. Hasta luego!

Friday Flash: The mud-crab

Alex stopped walking the street-jetty about a meter in front of the three older kids who were blocking his way. Joey Pozniak stepped forward from his central position to close the gap, and poked Alex in the chest with his index finger. That was Joey – nothing if not predictable.

“You stink, mud-crab,” said Joey cheerfully. It was a fair comment; Alex looked down at the trousers covering his good leg, which were soaked to knee height with muck. He shrugged.

“High tide, innit,” he said. “The Heap’s always minging at high tide.”

“Well,” retorted Joey, “it’s not like you’re so nice to smell when you’ve not been scavving on The Heap, eh?” His deputies chuckled dutifully.

Alex shrugged again. “If you say so. I gotta scav where I can, anyway. The Heap has to make do for me.”

Torsson, the brick-chinned and slow-witted hulk to Joey’s left, shifted his weight and furrowed his brow in preparation to speak. “Why you not worry about losing leg in mud, crabber?”

Here we go again, thought Alex.

“Yeah,” said Joey, trying to cover his annoyance at being beaten to the line. “Ain’t your trick leg a liability out there? What if the mud jammed the joints, eh? You should be at home with your mum, I reckon.”

“Better that than you being at home with my mum,” replied Alex. “Anyway, she’s sick, isn’t she. If I don’t scav, we don’t eat. Now, it’s getting late, so if you’re going to turn me over like usual I’d appreciate you getting on with it, OK?”

Alex guessed Joey’s mob had been busy, because they couldn’t muster the energy for a proper warm-up, progressing instead straight to the now-accustomed ritual of divesting Alex of his bag and up-ending it on the jetty. Joey poked through the little pile of scrap with his worn old kitchen knife.

“Plastic gears … screws … poor pickings again, mud-crab.”

“The best stuff’s long gone from The Heap, Joey. Unless you to raid it from the staked claims, and I can’t run fast enough for that.”

Joey palmed a few fat capacitors that looked relatively undamaged by the wet of The Heap, and toed the other bits of junk back into a pile. “Damn it, mud-crab, sometimes you’re not even worth the effort of turning over.”

“Perhaps,” replied Alex. “But if I were really worth turning over then there’d be more people willing to turn you back over on my behalf, wouldn’t there?”

Joey glowered in response. “Don’t bloody lecture me on the market, mud-crab. I know how this city works better than you do.” He rallied his henchmen, and started trudging off along the jetty toward the Gunwharf towers to the south west, before turning briefly to call out, “Best get to the Exchange before he shuts, crab! You know he don’t like to open late!”

Alex knelt on his good knee, smiling as he shovelled the scrap back into his bag.


“Good scavving, young ‘un?” The old merchant at the Vicky Park Exchange was far from displeased to open the door for Alex, but then he never was. His wire-wool eyebrows scrunched together as he squinted along his nose. “Pozniak turn you over again? Eh?”

Alex laughed. “Course he did! I think I’d almost miss it if he didn’t.”

“That boy’s a thug,” grumbled the merchant. “I won’t buy from him.”

“You might as well,” said Alex. “Why spite yourself if he has something you want?”

“Free market it may be, young ‘un, but that don’t mean you got to abandon your principles unless you choose to.” The old man picked through Alex’s bag. “Looks like he took all you had worth taking.”

Alex laughed again. “No, he didn’t.” He reached down and detached his ageing prosthetic leg, its once-lurid pink plastic stained by mud and time, and hopped a few steps before banging the leg knee-first on the worn wood of the merchant’s counter.

Out slid about a meter and a half of half-inch copper piping, folded in four.

The merchant’s brows shot skywards. “No, I guess he didn’t.” He shuffled off into his back-room store, and Alex settled himself down to wait for the old man to return with the scales.