Tag Archives: Wall

Friday Photo Blogging: you are now leaving the American sector

This iconic Checkpoint Charlie sign is not the original, but it’s a very close simulacrum thereof:

Site of Checkpoint Charlie

Just a few yards to the left – in what is arguably Berlin’s most tacky tourist trap – a fake checkpoint booth is guarded my imitation soldiers in period uniforms, American and Russian. They will pose for photos while holding large national flags; you can get an ‘official’ Checkpoint Charlie stamp for your passport for a small charge.

History is almost as strange as our attitudes towards it.

Writing about music

Still playing the catch-up game from the massive glut of releases due the week before this; however, there are virtually none due the week after next, so that should provide a bit of cushioning. Second regular reviewer settling in, as well, so things are looking like they should become more reasonable over time[1].

Album of the week

The prize this week goes to Toronto lunatics Fucked Up for The Chemistry Of Common Life, a sprawling psychedelic punk’n’roll album that never quite does what you expect it to.

An honourable mention to local popcore chaps Cut The Blue Wire for their début EP, too.

Writing about books

Finally got round to battering out a review of The Coming Convergence, which was harder than it should have been – principally because the book was telling me lots of stuff I already knew, so I didn’t find it anywhere near as interesting as I expect many less geeky people would do. High time I cleared some of my fiction reviews backlog, though… lucky it’s the weekend, eh?


As mentioned previously, Tim Lebbon’s site is up and running, though a number of minor issues remain to be ironed out. Web development with WordPress seems to be a game of compromises as far as advanced functionalities go; you can make it do [function x], but you may unexpectedly lose the ability to do [function y] as a result[2]. Still climbin’ that learning curve…


Just finished swapping contracts and paying for the next piece of Futurismic fiction, which is about as different from the last one as you could possibly imagine – a very sober and metaphorical piece. I’m looking forward to seeing what people think of it.

Traffic is still strong over there, but ad revenue is way down this month; I think a lot of budgets have been tightened in response to the stock markets doing their creditable impression of the Himalayas[3].

Books and magazines seen

Finally some actual science fiction material has turned up in the postbox! We have two Neal Asher titles from Tor UK: Prador Moon in paperback, and a hardback of his imminent collection The Gabble and Other Stories.

The Gabble and Other Stories - Neal Asher

Then there’s two second-books-in-series from Orbit: one from Sean Williams, Astropolis 2: Earth Ascendant, and the other from Marianne de Pierres, Chaos Space.

Astropolis 2: Earth Ascendant by Sean Williams Chaos Space - Marianne de Pierres

I really enjoyed the first book of de Pierres’ Sentients of Orion series, so I’ll have to try making space for this one as soon as I can. I seem to be cramming in more reading time recently, so maybe it’ll be sooner rather than later… if I could only banish this pointless need for sleep!

Oh, and yet more poetry[4] in the form of the latest issue of Obsessed With Pipework. Jolly good!


This has been the second week of my swimming regime; I’m pleased to say that I made it out twice again, and managed longer distances with less agony as well[5]. I even seem to be losing weight already, though that’s based on a visual assessment (as I don’t own any scales). Still, less spare tyre is one of the results I’m looking for, so that’ll do nicely, thanks.

I’ve also generally been a little more energetic and cheerful this last week, too[6], though that might also be due to the influence of my anti-SAD lightbulbs[7]; they did a great job of fending off the seasonal blues last year, and I’m hoping they do so again. Sure, maybe it’s a placebo effect; it’s still £10 well spent if so.

Anyway, there’s still much to be done before my day is over, so I’ll bid you farewell; it’s off-week on the Curry rota, so I’d best go make myself something comparatively affordable and healthy to eat instead. Have yourselves a good weekend, folks – auf weidersehn!

[ 1 – That was the sound of me touching wood. ]

[ 2 – I suspect this is more to do with my bodging than with WordPress, though the latter certainly contributes. ]

[ 3 – Not just corporate budgets, either. ]

[ 4 – They always come in waves, being as most of them are quarterlies or slower. ]

[ 5 – Still aching like hell all over, though. ]

[ 6 – With the exception of this morning, when I felt that given the option between getting out of bed or hibernating for the next few decades, the latter was hands-down winner. Psychology – it’s weird like that. ]

[ 7 – Oh, you can laugh if you like. But remember you have the bulbs to thank for me not killing you for doing so. 🙂 ]

Friday Photo Blogging: commerce recolonising the death-strip

A cheery title, no? The Wall’s destruction brought as many contradictions to Berlin as it removed, if not more, and they grow in sharpness over time. This is one of the last remaining sections of the “death-strip” that was caught between the two layers of the wall, in this particular case just next to the River Spree, a few minutes walk from the Ostbahnhof:

Graffiti on the "death strip"

This area is best known as “The East Side Gallery“. The side of the wall facing the road (to the left of this shot) was painted by many famous graffiti and mural artists just after the Wall fell; their art is now scabbed over by the felt-tip scribblings of tourists. Here in the former death-strip, however, the other side of the wall is where the more hardcore painters would come to work without the legitimacy that the post-Wende hysteria leant to the Gallery.

Looking in the opposite direction to this shot, you would now see tent-town beach-bars bristling with brand names. Then, further still, the crowning irony: a section of the Wall that has been fenced off completely from public access, pending the arrival of more entertainment and retail venues. This is prime land for development, and commerce will have its way, despite the (arguably justifiable) resentment of those with long enough memories. Selah.

Writing about music

This week has been a bit of a screwed one for The Dreaded Press, largely due to me dropping a few balls in favour of other priorities. But that’s just the way I’m currently doing things; businesses with incomes come first, which puts TDP way down the list.

Album of the week

Still got some writing done though, and without any doubt the greatest pleasure was derived from reviewing Tail Swallower And Dove by These Arms Are Snakes. Fantastic and nigh-unclassifiable heavy music with rich inscrutable symbolism and brooding malice… something to watch stock tickers to.

Writing about books

To my shame, I’ve made no inroads over the last week on the reviews I have waiting to be written. That said, it’s probably be better to be in a position where I have four books that I’ve finished and just need to write about rather than four books waiting to be read and clamouring for a review as well. Silver linings, silver linings.


Ah, now this is where all this week’s effort and energy has gone! Should have a new author site to launch early next week, and have been doing some design preliminaries on a new project that promises to be a lot more visually ambitious (and hence tricky and lengthy) than anything I’ve done as of yet. But hey, guy’s gotta raise his game, right? It’s a challenge, and I’m feeling confident about nailing it, too.


Nothing out of the ordinary to report at Futurismic, except an exceptionally persistent spammer who seems to bear a rather nasty grudge against a certain New-Yorican singer-songstress. The weird and omnidirectional obsessions these people possess never cease to amaze and appal[1].

Books and magazines seen

It’s been another week of high volume and low interest on the books front, with yet more care packages from both Orbit and Tor/Macmillan packed full of stuff that drew nothing more than a resounding “meh”[2].

But there’s one title that does look quite appealing, namely Lou AndersFast Forward 2 anthology from Pyr, which as some interesting contributors on its contents page as well as a garish but undeniably eye-catching Picacio cover:

Fast Forward 2 anthology - ed. Lou Anders

Another brick for the to-be-read wall. Life’s such a chore, isn’t it?


Well, that was the first no-gig week in what feels like months[3]. And as them what follows me on Twitter will already know, this week I got my lazy arse out of the house and down to the swimming pool – twice! The end results are a much clearer knowledge of just how horrifically unfit I’ve become[4], and calf muscles that feel like someone’s clamped them onto my legs with an immense bulldog clip. But hey, you gotta start somewhere.

And the weekend starts right here; most of it will involve the ceaseless battering of CSS and PHP into this very keyboard, but there’s band practice to look forward to on Sunday as well as beers with friends this evening. And as I’ve been a good boy this week – staying in in the evenings, eating cheaply, getting work done and exercising, no less – I’m going to indulge in The Friday Curry. Biweekly is better than weekly, after all… 🙂

So have a good weekend, and do yourselves a favour – don’t watch the news, because worrying won’t make any difference. Auf weidersehn!

[ 1 – Although, now I come to think about it, they’re amazing simply by merit of being as banal, bigoted and stupid as the ones you encounter in real life. Go figure. ]

[ 2 – Especially since the postman got me out of bed half an hour early for them both this morning. Grumble grumble. ]

[ 3 – Looking at my calendar, I think it actually is months. Blimey. ]

[ 4 – When I was nine or thereabouts, I could swim for literally hours at a time – if you lived in an ex-pat compound in Saudi Arabia, there was little else to do for kids. Currently, twenty lengths of a definitely-not-Olympic-size pool has me stiff-limbed and breathing like a nylon fetishist at an Ann Summers evening. ]

Friday Photo Blogging: like watching paint peel

So, what with all the sunny weather, I’ve surely been out taking photos, right? Well, no, as it happens – but then the regulars among you won’t be surprised by that in the least.

Instead, here’s a shot from the set I took last year in the dead floor above where I work (and from where the current VCTB header image was sourced, fact-fans):

No. 12 Store 009

Mmmmm. Decay. The appropriateness of this image will become clear further down, I think.

Writing about music

A slow week for releases, so not too hectic. Having Duncan on board is definitely helping.

Album of the week

Not an album but a three-track single: if 51 Breaks can take the sound they’ve got on “Blueprints” and get some stronger lyrical content going on, they’ll be ones to keep an eye on.

Writing about books

The Snow Crash essay… it taunts me, so it does. It’s well over two-thirds written, but I’m struggling to bridge the two halves of the piece in a satisfactory way. This mountain will be conquered over the weekend, mark my words[1]!


Things are trundling on nicely; just started that new project I mentioned last week (the domain name is all registered and the preliminary software installs are done), and looking forward to giving it some legs.

Manuscript critiquing is actually easier than I thought, but it can be very frustrating; the upside is that it gives you concrete examples for all those bits of advice you’ve picked up over the years. Once you’ve had to read an entire novel-length script by someone who isn’t yet clued into “show, don’t tell”, you’ll never write that way yourself again[2]

More unexciting news that I’m nonetheless pleased enough to tell you about – I finished my monster spreadsheet and shoved all the numbers in, and I got my accounts for last year to balance! wh00t!

Granted, I hardly did any business last year, but it’s a proof-of-concept for my spreadsheet ledger thingy[3], which should make doing this year’s accounts much easier.

I suspect it won’t make them any more fun, though… that’s ten excruciatingly dull hours I’ll never get back, but they were well invested. Do you grok the picture now? That was my brain when I finished.

Futurismic – new story up *right now*

It’s the first of the month, which means new fiction time at Futurismic. As I’ve mentioned before, I think Alex Wilson’s “Dry Frugal With Death Rays” is a super story, but I’m prepared to accept that I may be biased…

… which is why you should go read it and let me (and Alex) know what you thought in the comments[4].

Books and magazines seen

Zilch, zip, zero, de nada. Nothing to see here.

Well, apart from my Moleskines… which really are as nice to write in as people say. An ergonomic triumph: it opens out flat! The spine bends but doesn’t spring back! The paper is nice and thick! There’s a wee pocket in the back for your business cards, receipts and stuff!

That said, they’re damn pricey. But the portability and joy-of-use means I’m actually taking more notes, so it may be money well spent in the long run.


And there we have it, ladies and gentlemen. You get a super-short Coda this week, because I’m off to have my arm mapped. Yes, you read that right.

In fact, I’ll have finished this post about an hour before it appears, because I didn’t want to have to come home and finish it after the arm-mapping and make myself late for The Friday Curry… 😉

Have a great weekend, folks, especially those going to WorldCon – pictures, tweets and posts will be considered suitable recompense to assuage my jealousy. Hasta luego, amigos!

[ 1 – Seriously, I just want to finish the damned thing. I’m still happy with my argument and everything, but extracting it from my head and bashing it into a coherent shape has been a real marathon. ]

[ 2 – I like to think I’ve never written anything that dull. I hope I’m not kidding myself. ]

[ 3 – It’s easy enough with one bank account, but if you’re using PayPal a lot and dealing in different currencies for invoices from time to time… well, let’s just call it a learning curve. ]

[ 4 – Ah, you never saw that coming, did you? Muah-ha-hah! My powers of persuasion are… erm… persuasive? ]