Friday Photo Blogging: clear skies over the harbour

I got a new phone this week – a Nokia N73, thanks for asking – and in addition to a pretty decent camera (considering it’s a phone), it supports direct uploading to Flickr. Which should be pretty handy for those must-have photoblogging moments (which are, erm, frequent?), but is also of great utility on a typical not-taken-any-photos-for-FPB Friday afternoon.

So, without further ado, here’s the view from outside my workplace where I stand to have a smoke:

Blue sky in autumn

There’s good odds that I shouldn’t have taken that shot at all, because it’s technically inside the restricted part of the Portsmouth Naval base (so if it disappears at some point, you’ll know why), but I doubt it’s that big a deal.

I’ve just been really impressed by the recent rash of lovely blue skies we’ve had … not to mention slightly resentful that we didn’t have any of them back in the summer, when they would arguably have been of more use.

Still, a day on which I don’t get rained on during my journey home is a cause for celebration, regardless of the season. Atypical weather patterns, I salute you.

Writing about music

Another big batch of my reviews got published this week, though a lot of them were of distinctly average (or worse) albums. I have yet to discover the bitter acidity of the more experienced music hack when presented with something he or she just simply cannot get to grips with … though I am assured it will come with time.

But then, I’m not like other music journalists – and I have that on the authority of no lesser man than David Yow, former singer of The Jesus Lizard and current singer of Qui (pronounced ‘Kwee’, and don’t you forget it).

I had the great privilege of interviewing Mr Yow last night, and he was a lot of fun – the fact he was drunk may have contributed, but it’s safe to say he’s nothing like his stage persona. Well, maybe a little bit … but there’s a lot less fury and violence involved in just talking to the guy on the phone. Unless you mention English food. Or Morrissey …

I’ll link to that interview when it goes live. In the meantime, you can always read my chat with Larry from Hundred Reasons, whose ideas for dealing with religious fundamentalism suggest to me that he’d make the sort of politician I could support wholeheartedly.

Shortly after chatting to my good buddy David, I trundled off to The Wedgewood Rooms for a show. A lot of people whose opinions on music I respect greatly had been talking up a storm about a band called Cardiacs, who I’d neither heard of or heard anything by, so I thought “why not?”, put on my independent web-hack hat, and headed down to review the gig.

In hindsight, I realise this will be immensely challenging. Cardiacs defy easy description, as I’m sure anyone who knows their work will agree. The closest I can get in a sentence would be “a three-way car-crash between new wave punk, sixties psychedelia and surrealist British prog-rock”. In other words, absolutely mental, and unlike anything I’ve ever heard before (or am likely to again). I’ll be linking to the review when it goes up at The Dreaded Press.

And while we’re on the subject of music, I will take a brief moment to gloat, as I have an album that I expect a number of VCTB readers will be interested in hearing (in marked contrast to the raucous crap I usually deal with): the new Sigur Rós double-disc set, Hvarf / Heim. And yes, it’s lovely. But then what did you expect?

And an extra bonus musical gloat that deserves its own header:

I’m seeing My Bloody Valentine next summer!!

my bloody My Bloody Valentine ticket

Get in.

Writing about books

I finally managed to nail the Brasyl review, or at least the first draft. How do I know it’s a first draft? Because it clocks in at about 3000 words … so I’ve asked for suggestions on where it should be trimmed, because I had run up against the wall of overfamiliarity.

I find that if I’ve been working too long on a review or essay, I become unable to approach it with the slightest bit of objectivity, which makes constructive editing an impossibility. The last time this was a serious problem was with my review of Extended Play for Strange Horizons – and that was fixed by helpful editorial comments, so hopefully the same will apply here.

So, next task is the combined review/interview of Iain M Banks’ Matter, which I finished last night and is now festooned in miniature post-its in what has rapidly become traditional fashion. I have the answers to my first batch of questions from the good Mr Banks in hand, and need to boil up batch the second, which will be the more detailed stuff, along with clarifications and expansions.

It’s harder than you might think – interviewing anyone you’re a huge fan of is always tricky, and IMB is pretty much my literary hero (inasmuch as I have such things). I’m even able to forgive him for being a devoted Mac user!*

Oh, and by the way – any VCTB readers going to the BSFA interview with IMB on Wednesday 28th November (next week)? It would be cool to meet up with people, so feel free to come and say hello – I’m easy to pick out of a crowd! 🙂

Writing about other stuff

Minimal writing work outside of reviews this week, because I’ve decided that I should bite the bullet and learn XHTML and CSS properly, as opposed to just faffing around with other people’s code.

It’s heavy going, but it seems that those years of programming lessons at school and college sunk in – logical thinking is like riding a bike.** Still, end result should be the ability to build CMS themes pretty much from scratch, and have them work properly.

How far away that end result is remains to be seen. There is a reason for all this, as well.

Books and magazines seen

After last week’s bonanza, it should come as no surprise that this week has been devoid of reading material arriving in the post box.

However, if I was to list this week’s influx of CDs, you’d still be scrolling down on this post on Sunday morning …


Seven days always seemed so long when I was a kid … sometimes it feels like I start one FPB the moment after I publish the previous one. Still, it’s good to be busy – I can’t remember the last time I thought to myself “I’m bored”, and I spent years thinking that. I must be doing something right!

In the spirit of public thanks, a big cheery wave to Penny and Chris Hill for sending me a postcard from their trip to New York! If you’d like to donate to my slowly growing collection of postcards (and receive the dubious honour of a public thanks here on VCTB, feel free to email me and ask for my snail-mail address. I’m not fusy about locations – in fact, I think it might be fun to collect postcards from decidedly non-touristy locations.***

Right, that’s your lot. I’m off for The Friday Curry before a few fortifying beverages with the usual suspects, which should prep me up for what promises to be another busy weekend in front of the keyboard.

So, a belated happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers, and to everyone else, enjoy whatever you’ve got planned for the weekend. Hasta luego.

[* Don’t let that make you think that you’ll be getting any slack on that front, though. Macs are for artists and dilettantes. And Iain Banks.]

[** In that you think you’re doing fine, right up until you either fall off or collide with a wall.]

[*** This from the man who, ever since a Flickr contact suggested it, has been considering photographing his entire collection of logo’d T-shirts and putting them online. Geek is as geek does.]

[tags]photo, blue, sky, dockyard, harbour, writing, music, bookstores, blather[/tags]

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