Tag Archives: earth

Friday Photo Blogging: the brown dirt

Happy new year, and welcome to the first FPB of 2008! Have another picture from my trip to Yorkshire last month:

Freshly tilled field

Why? Because there’s been nothing worth photographing since, which has made me feel a right fool carting my camera about in hope of something interesting.

It may be that more practiced and instinctive photographers than I can make an exciting or interesting image out of the Velcro City streets on bleak and overcast midwinter days, but I must admit to defeat.

This town looks dull as hell in winter. Fingers crossed for sun. Or snow. Or an offer of lucrative yet lazy employment in Oaxaca, Mexico. Don’t care which.

Writing about music

Nothing exciting to report on the music front; it’ll take a little time for things to ramp back up after the holidays, I expect.

Writing about books

I cleared down my “review of 2007” pieces on New Year’s Day, and reviewed Nicholas Carr’s The Big Switch right here on VCTB.

In the pipeline, I need to swiftly (hah!) read Roberts’ Swiftly (after reading Gulliver’s Travels) and get it reviewed by the end of the month.

I also need to write up my thoughts on Palmer’s Debatable Space for Strange Horizons, and Stross’s Halting State* (probably for right here, unless I think of somewhere better to send it).

Lucky I have a weekend devoid of music writing deadlines, isn’t it? 🙂

Books and magazines seen

No magazines this week. I’m pretty positive that all my subs except Interzone have expired now, though I could be wrong – I need to check my receipts list.

Anyway, I think 2008 is going to be the year of electronic subscriptions for me, not just for the sake of convenience but for the sake of storage space also.

I did get one book in the post this week, though:


Nightmare In Silicon – Colette Phair (Chiasmus Press)

Chiasmus [beware – Flash’n’music site, they do film too] looks like an interesting new small press; the book looks well made and well presented, and the info pack seems comprehensive (if perhaps a trifle overdone).

Ms Phair has got some pretty impressive names blurbing the book (Rudy Rucker? Paul di Filippo? Alan Moore, FFS!), so I’m hoping it lives up to expectations. 

Just as a side note, Colette was the creator of the delightfully impolite science fiction T-shirt I bought earlier this year. If I like the book as much as the shirt, she’ll have done a fine job! 🙂


So, another short week as far as FPB is concerned. I suppose the only other thing that happened this week which is of potential interest to VCTB readers is the fact that I have quit smoking, and seem to be coping with it remarkably well so far**. Go, me!

Other than that, I have very little to report, other than that I plan to attack 2008 with all the vigour and focus I can muster, including posting more regularly here at VCTB***.

But right now, it’s time for me to head out and fetch The Inaugural Friday Curry Of The Year. Here’s hoping your new year has gotten off to a reasonable start – and that your weekend provides a welcome relief from these first few days back at work.

Hasta luego!

[* I agree with Ariel that the UK cover art for HS is excellent.]

[** OK, so it’s only my third day, and I live alone without other people smoking around me, and no one where I work smokes. But even so, I’ve always been given the impression that quitting cigarettes is supposed to be a really hard and nasty experience.

So either I’m doing something wrong, or I was a much lighter smoker than I thought, or I have adamantine willpower. Your guess is as good as mine. Still, it’s early days yet, so I’d best not get too cocky, eh?]

[*** Which means I’ll probably be completely mired in deadlines and baffled as hell by mid-February, but hey, even that will be an improvement on the year before. 🙂 ]

[tags]friday, photo, soil, earth, field, tilled, books, music, writing, blather[/tags]

Scorched Earth Festival

Who says men can’t multitask? While working on some reviews last night, I was also hanging out at a music festival in a dusty junkyard.

Scorched Earth Festival, The Wastelands, Second Life

As you’ve probably guessed, Scorched Earth (the music festival in question) took place in Second Life, so it was easier for me to work and hang out than it would have been at the fields-and-tents type of gig. That’s yours truly on the far left, stood on the pile of slagged tyres.

The venue was The Junkyard, on a patch of land just south of my own virtual pied-a-terre. The Junkyard is the second of the two sims that make up The Wastelands, a post-apocalyptic themed RPG sim. As a casual visitor to Second Life, I was utterly repelled by the shiny bling-ness of the mainland, so when I finally found somewhere that fitted with my own rather grungy and wrecked aesthetic tastes, I settled there immediately.

To tell the truth, most of the music wasn’t really to my taste. Paranoid Foundation specialised in a sort of droning beatless elctronica, complete with mumbled ketamine vocals, and the Redzone DJ set was fairly murky also – I felt the absence of drums and guitars quite keenly, rock fan that I am. Bela Emerson was a rare act, however – one girl, one cello, and a whole bunch of effects pedals. 

Bela Emerson live at the Scorched Earth Festival, Second Life

Her music was a landscape of sculpted and sampled bass tones, jittering and looping around themselves, building up and collapsing into nothingness. Again, not my normal thing, but intriguing. It’s good to step out of the musical comfort zone once in a while. It certainly fitted the ambience of the sim!

To be quite honest though, a large part of the festival’s appeal was the chance to hang out with some of my virtual neighbours, and some visiting oddballs from other places in SL. The Wastelands isn’t a clubby sim, or prone to events that attract large groups of people. It’s a quiet neighbourhood, really (unless a fight breaks out over a good piece of salvage), and it’s rare you get many more than five or six people chatting together at any one time. Scorched Earth acted as a nexus, though, and so it ended up being a bit of a social more than anything else, at least for me:

Scorched Earth Festival, The Wastelands, Second Life

What interests me most about this sort of event is their potential. They’re very clunky at the moment; SL is far from being a mature piece of software, and the streaming of audio and video is still a fairly arcane process that relies as much on luck and the alignments of planets than any skill with code. But give it a couple of years (and an open-source peer-to-peer version of the SL server software), and you’re going to see virtual festivals that will make Burning Man look like the Teddy Bear’s Picnic.

I mean, look at that picture above; that’s a dolphin at the left edge. When was the last festival at which you saw a flying dolphin wearing flourescent beads on its tail while talking about the finer points of electronic manipulation of cello tones? And what had you ingested to achieve such a state? 😉

Welcome to Second Life; the frontier of an unevenly distributed future.