Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top Ten Posts of 2014

Despite the bots, views are still the only objective means I have of working out which blog posts have reach beyond my regular readers (hello - if you're out there).

So, for the record, here's the top ten most read posts of 2014 from the blog. 

There's not much of a common denominator. But its worth noting that the first two posts combined have more views than the other eight, largely because they got linked elsewhere on the internet. The rest relied directly on my own networks on social media and e-mail for transmission.


If you want to talk (and listen), come away from the walls and into the centre of the room. If you don't want only the loudest and angriest voices to be heard, speak up.


Why does much bad science-fiction (and its kissing cousin, bad fantasy) considers the mass death of unnamed characters to be an essential part of the drama?


Varg's racist ideology is so inherent to his music that you can't write an article about 'why he matters' and fudge the issue by not mentioning it at all , and then expect to be taken seriously.


Every time people fall out over ways of working, don't welcome someone properly at a meeting, don't listen to each other, or fail to establish relationships of trust, Wheaton's Law isn't being followed. We're too busy, too focused, perhaps, to be good sports.


Pssst? Wanna try a new training workshop? 

Here's one we made earlier.


Science-fiction is a literature of ideas – even if some of it is in the business of recycling old tropes – so gamifying science-fiction story-building makes a lot of sense. 


"The Soft Pink Truth hereby abjures black metal homophobes, racists, and Nazis categorically and absolutely: MAY THIS CURSE BIND! Remember Magne Andreassen!"


At the time, I wanted to do great things, I didn’t want to compromise, I wanted to know what life is and I wanted to know everything. Readers, I have no progress to report whatsoever; I still aspire to these things but perhaps a little less blatantly and a little less forcibly than when I first adopted it as my personal mantra. On will live with me forever.


This new, potentially mind-bending experience accompanied me not to a dusty cottage with friends armed with handfuls of mushrooms, or an altering experience in woodlands waiting for the LSD to kick in, but to a Walkman whilst in my room on holiday with my mum and dad.


To call Shine and its offspring the definitive artefact of the Britpop years is on the face of it laughable. But the fact that they were compiled with no regard for anything other than what would make the best Halls of Residence party makes them much better at managing the continuity and contradiction of the music than your average journalistic or historical narrative.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Doors - catharsis in tight leather trousers

Over this holiday period, I've been listening to The Doors, as I realised I've never given them serious consideration before (possibly because I skipped the intense black-clad teenage phase). Having made it as far as album #3 (Waiting For The Sun) here are my thoughts.



The main difficulty with The Doors is listening past the legend. Even if you haven't seen the 1991 biopic, the status of Jim Morrison threatens to overshadow their actual music. After all, this is the man who helped to create the rock hero archetype others have sought to fill since then.

But you can't review stars while they're standing on their pedestal. You can worship them, as any One Direction fan will demonstrate, but to properly appreciate them you need to bring them back to earth. This is doubly difficult when, as Jim Morrison did as a lyricist and performer, musicians help create their own mythology.

So let's start by naming those demons to tame them: 

Rock 'n' Roll Shaman. 

American Poet. 

(Ahem) Lizard King

If you think this is all rather ridiculous, you'd be spot on. Ridiculousness is a big part of listening to The Doors in the twenty-first century. Their best-known (and generally best) songs - Light My Fire, Break On Through, Riders On The Storm, particularly The Endare pyrrhic victories for musical deftness over lyrical daftness. 

"We chased our pleasures here 
Dug our treasures there 
But can you still recall 
The time we cried 
Break on through to the other side"

Break On Through

"Can you picture what will be, so limitless and free 
Desperately in need, of some, stranger's hand 

In a, desperate land" 

The End

But you can't have the earnest hedonism and striving towards transcendence that powers those tunes without the willingness to also appear ridiculous. The two are sides of the same coin, and a hipster dismissal of Morrison and Co is as limiting a position as an unquestioning acceptance of their beatnik shtick.  

Remember also that the self-titled debut by The Doors came out in January 1967, five months after Revolver and five months before Sergeant Pepper. If ever there was a time to unironically preach love, drugs and emotional catharsis in tight leather trousers and sell a lot of records in the process, it was probably around that sea-change in music and society

Shorn of its contemporary context and resonance, The Doors is for me still half a good album. Side A in old money is where all the gems are, including Light My Fire (Ray Manzarek = organ hero), Break On Through and their Brecht/Weill cover, Alabama Song. The references points are as much jazz and blues as rock and roll, like the lyrics and the attitude anticipating the progressive years to follow.



Side B is filler, plus The End, a sprawling eleven-minute eastern blues full of Morrison's terrible end/friend, old/cold, snake/lake ad libs. It might have inspired other bands to surpass the three and a half minute mark, but hopefully only because they felt they could do better. It's no Patti Smith killing it on Birdland, believe me.

But the key musical weakness of early Doors is that it's really easy to imagine Austin Powers frugging away to them at the Electric Psychedelic Pussycat Swingers Club. And no track epitomises that better than the fun, harmless but unintentionally hilarious Twentieth Century Fox, a song which is about what you think it's about. 


But for all that the first album is of its time, it grabs your attention and offers at least one track up for the ages in Light My Fire. The next two can make no such claims.

Strange Days and Waiting For The Sun are each merely alright psychedelic albums with one good pop single each (People Are Strange and Hello, I Love You). After Waiting For The Sun, I had to go listen to Riders On The Storm a few times to remind myself of the critical wisdom that The Doors get their act together again a few albums later.

But .. even on Waiting For The Sun, comfortably the more ordinary of the two, there are still flashes of the vitality, focus and risk-taking ridiculousness of the debut. As evidence, let's leave you this chanted spoken-word blues, My Wild Love - it's as great as any song with the lyric 'My wild love is crazy / She screams like a bird / She moans like a cat / When she wants to be heard' can possibly be. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 cultural roll-call

Not a best of list, as such, but a taste of what I've most enjoyed in art and culture in 2014

Art

Max Klee at the Tate Modern

Books

This is a year when I've returned to my roots and mainly been reading SF. 

John Brunner - Stand On Zanzibar
Thomas M Disch - Camp Concentration
Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross - The Rapture Of The Nerds
Kameron Hurley - Infidel
Anne Leckie - Ancillary Justice
Kim Newman - Anno Dracula: The Bloody Red Baron
John Scalzi - Redshirts
Olaf Stapledon - Last And First Men

Live

Caitlin Moran on her reading tour of How To Build A Girl at The Alex, Birmingham
Dead Dog In a Suitcase by Kneehigh at the Old Vic, Bristol
Frank Turner at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham
Josh Record at Brighton Library for The Great Escape, and then again at Rochdale Library
Kaiser Chiefs at The Great Escape Festival
Once the Musical at the Phoenix, London
Pet Shop Boys at Bingley Festival (the first band I saw when I was 16)

Music

Arctic Monkeys - AM
Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore - Sunset Mission
Crooked Necks - Alright Is Exactly What It Isn't 
Joni Mitchell - Blue
Panopticon - Kentucky
Ulver - Kveldsanger

Film & TV

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (eventually, once it got going)
Birdman
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Don't Tell The Bride (what?)
Guardians Of The Galaxy
Sonic Highways
Sound City
Pride
Sleepy Hollow season 1
Turtle Power - The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (yes indeed)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Walt Whitman - an art to make elections irrelevant

This quote from Greil Marcus on art and politics in his amazing book about rock and roll Mystery Train is beyond brilliant.

Walt Whitman once wrote that he didn't want an art that could decide presidential elections; he wanted an art to make them irrelevant. He was interested in an artist's ability to determine the feel of American experience; to become a part of the instinctive response of the people to events; to affect the costs and the quality of everyday life.

[...] He thought that his work might affect whether his country would grow, and die, and start over again; whether his country would, at the margins of change, maintain a soul and a vitality that could be recognised, loved, and feared more easily than it could be defined.

[...] Whitman thought that limits were undemocratic. As good democrats, we fight it out within the limits of his ambition.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas cooking link library

A link library of ideas for vegetarian, nut free, mushroom-free Christmas dinner ideas for @rae102011 and myself.

Thanks to everyone who suggested ideas via Facebook or Twitter, especially but certainly not limited to Anna, Beatrice, Brenda, Carol, Jan, Kiran, Mel, Niall, Nick, Owen, Rach and Sarah.

Thanks even to those who suggested steak and kidney pie (ah, no), cheese (ahem) and the Linda McCartney Celebration Roast (not to diss Linda, but this wasn't quite what I had in mind).

What we're seriously considering

Souffle (if we can find a dish in the next few days)

Things I like the sound of and might cook over the break anyway

Lasagne

Filing away for future reference

Parsnip pudding (sounds curious!)
Goats Cheese And Spinach Pie
Cheese And Leek Pie
Stuffed Aubergine
Choux Pastry Ring
Puy Lentil And Vintage Cheddar Loaf (or, on a similar note, Lentil And Cider Loaf)
Vegetarian haggis with roast vegetables
Foil-baked feta

Useful links

Minimalist Baker (not sure how Christmassy it is, but I love this site so thanks to Mel for suggesting it anyway!)

Oh... and here's a rather nice recipe for German Christmas Biscuits (Lebkuchen) I put into practice this Christmas.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Once owned by elite warriors


Not your common or garden spear carriers, you'll note.

Elite warriors.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pirate post


Spotted late one November evening on Dudley Street in Birmingham city centre - turns out it's an exhibition about the equally notorious and celebrated hacker collective, the Chaos Computer Club.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Totally unofficial Friends of the Earth playlist

So, after our staff away-day - well, technically all-staff-in-our-London-office-day, but who's quibbling - when some of us had adjourned to a nearby pub, I asked my colleagues two questions:

What have you been listening to a lot lately?
Or, what's the last thing you listened to?

The results have been added to a Spotify playlist, but here's a breakdown of what we get down to when we're resting and celebrating after fighting the good fight. Nearly all of musical life is here - from top ten hits present and past tense to treasured obscurities, from soul and funk to punk and metal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty and preserve the innocent,

Idina Menzel - Let It Go (the only song to be nominated twice, by fathers of young children)
Gillian Welch - Scarlet Town
Metallica - Battery
Offspring - Come Out And Play
FKA Twigs - Video Girl

Anais Mitchell - Young Man In America
AC/DC - Skies on Fire (sadly Spotify not rock and roll enough for AC/DC, so not on playlist)
L'Orchestra Cinematique - The Theme From True Detective
Lau - Far From Portland
We Shall Not Be Moved (no version specified, we went with the marvellous Mavis Staples for the civil rights connection)

Jay Electronica - Better In Tune With The Infinite (available here but not on Spotify)
Radio 4 or Radio 3 when annoyed by Radio 4 (not Spotifiable - Radio 4 the band not deemed suitable replacement)
Salt n Pepa - Push It
Cat Power - Lived In Bars
Ed Sheeran - Sing

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Three Little Birds
Saint Motel - My Type
Kenny Rogers & The First Edition - Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Squeeze - Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)
St Lucia - Elevate

Jamie T - Limits Lie
Chris Malinchak - So Good To Me
George Ezra - Did You Hear The Rain
Dan Croll - Compliment Your Soul
Two White Cranes, Walls

Baba Yetu - aka the theme from Civilisation IV (a version by Peter Hollens and Malukah Fenix was the one we ended up using)
Le Tigre - Deceptacon
Jason Isbell - Elephant
Mae gen i dipyn o dŷ bach twt (a Welsh children's song - was worried we wouldn't find this one but Dafydd Ian and Edward came up with the goods)
Frankie Valli - December '63 (Oh What A Night)

And last, but by no means least - Elvis Presley - All Shook Up

NB Where albums or artists were mentioned, I exercised editorial fiat and picked particular tracks. Where a song wasn't available, I went for something from the same artist. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Raedarum publicarum Statio


Wallsend Metro Station, Tyne and Wear, honouring its historical  beginnings as a Roman fort at the end of Hadrian's Wall (full explanation of why the Latin here).

Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaNoWriMo: inconclusion


Well, I didn't quite manage it - approximately 12,000 words of a Draft Zero. But it's been a really positive experience - my best failure yet.

Why?

  • I've settled into a routine of writing on my commute to or from work most days.
  • I've not gone back and edited - the problem that's done for my attempts at long-form fiction in the past.
  • It's got me thinking about lots of different ideas again - about the future, about identity, about politics and people.
  • I've entertained myself and had fun in the process.
I've not shown it to anyone yet - it's too unformed and protean to make any coherent sense as I chip away at the idea of a story. But I'm looking forward to showing people Draft One.

Speaking of which, the objective now is to press on to 25,000 words by Christmas - this steps up the pace a bit but doesn't feel unmanageable.

As part of that, I imagine December on the blog is going to be mainly short pieces, either to fill the gaps or articulate some of the themes coming out of what I'm writing.

If the latter, it might get a bit chin-stroking - you have been warned.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Reviews of Infidel and The Violent Century in Theaker's Quarterly Fiction #49

Issue of 49 of Theakers Quarterly Fiction is out and free to read - hurrah! My favourite story this time out was Nebuchadnezzar by Michael B Tager, a nice treatment of colonists with an old school flavour to it, but new school mores, if that makes sense.


Issue 49 also includes a couple of my book reviews: Kameron Hurley's Infidel and Lavie Tiedhar's The Violent Century

'There’s nothing this reviewer better enjoys than returning to an author and finding that they’ve upped their game. Compared to God’s War, Kameron Hurley’s still striking debut, its sequel Infidel is better in every respect.'

(see my review of God's War on this very blog)

'Does The Violent Century make the case for the superhero novel as something with real merit in its own right? For me, it’s a resounding maybe; since the book makes most sense as a stylistic exercise, a playful what-if, rather than something with serious intent behind it, in practice it lends support to either view.'

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Introduction to campaigning #2 - notes and links

On Sunday 16 November in Newcastle we ran hopefully the second of a number of 'Introduction to Campaigning with Friends of the Earth' half-day trial training sessions. Thanks to everyone who came along, to Carla for co-facilitating and to Campaign Organiser Carol for doing an excellent grounding meditation to break the ice and get us started.

Our aim was to support new and existing activists to explore campaigns and engage their community. Here's the resources we shared and used on the day

We also showed participants these rather spiffing videos from The Bee Cause and Schools Run On Sun campaigns.



We got four people including Carol – which is less than we had expected based on e-mail replies and Facebook. But  they were all interested in supporting a Friends of the Earth group in Newcastle, so it definitely felt like the beginning of the rebirth of the group. 

And one was the local Greenpeace rep, so there was some networking and alliance-building right there. The material fit snugly but well into the time we had, and participant feedback was very positive. 

So, we’re still looking for further opportunities to trial this session – so do get in touch if you’d like to either give it a go yourself or arrange a collaboration with me on it. 

I think one big learning point from me from Newcastle is the importance of having someone in-situ like Carol around whom others can coalesce for the future. For future trials, I’d also like to be able to guarantee 2 or 3 participants from a local area before we go ahead with additional promotion. 

We’ve been lucky in both test sessions so far in terms of just enough people coming in to make it work, but I don't want to push my luck too hard. :-)


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Open mike time - have you got something to say and nowhere to say it?


By ChrisEngelsma (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

While I'm merrily writing away for NaNoWriMo (7,000 words and counting last time I checked) - for the rest of the month I want to turn this blog over to anyone who wants to promote or ponder activism and campaigning.

So, tell us what you're up to. Or use this space as a sandbox to explore ideas. Whether you want to write a lot or a little, these next few weeks are for you.

I'll happily tweet and Facebook anything that I add - so what you write will be read.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Blog-break: doing NaNoWriMo


So don't expect a prolific month on the blog.

I hope by the end of November to have a fairly poor first draft with flashes of something interesting I can build on for Round 2. So that's got to be the priority.

What's the story about? I'm not entirely sure yet, but making-it-up-as-I-go-along screwball transhuman satire seems to about cover it at this stage.

Here's the first fragment.

Arthur C Clarke - Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Reformulation 1 - Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from manic.

Reformulation 2 - Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from science.

Reformulation 3 - Any sufficiently advanced social science is in indistinguishable from magic.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The ripple of hope

Thanks to Leandra Gebrakedan for sending me this quote from Robert F Kennedy, speaking at the University of Cape Town, SA, in 1966.

"Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, & in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation [...] 

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, & crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Overly gendered language aside, it's a lovely quote for times when you need to remind yourself how your small contribution can make a difference.


LBJ Library photo by Yoichi R. Okamoto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Introduction to Climate Change Campaigning

Pssst? Wanna try a new training workshop? 

Here's one we made earlier.

The session plan and accompanying resources from our half-day introductory training in Coventry are now available on Campaign Hubs here or at the end of this article.

NB Campaign Hubs down due to The Great Website Ragnarok of October 2014. For now, see the links at the end of the article.




The session went well for a first attempt - we tried to fit a lot in and just about managed it. It had a really good 'feel' to it in the same way that the Campaign Organisers weekend did: open, non-didactic and fizzing with creativity.


We didn't prescribe courses of action, but people came away from it wanting to take action on Schools Run On Sun and apply renewed focus to campaigning against shale gas exploitation in Warwickshire


It's pretty exciting (in a geeky sort of way) thinking about the opportunity this gives us to provide further peer-to-peer and staff-led support.


Things we'd do differently next time? Have another look at the timings for the different parts, natch. And proactively approach more people to help with local promotion, sure. But nothing insurmountable.


Given that it's early days for this training, I'd be interested in hearing whether anyone else wanted to pick up and try out this session or a variant on it. All the material you need is behind the link or below. 


I'm very happy to advise and support any willing guinea pigs. :-)

Training Resources

Here's the event plan we used and some relevant resources we gave out to participants.

The starting point is - as always - the free-to-download Local Groups Handbook, which is the Friends of the Earth equivalent of a Haynes Manual for organizing at the grassroots. It has individual sections on inspiring groups, teamwork, action (including campaign planning), profile-raising, finding and keeping people and fundraising.

A Personal Story of Climate Change - Self, Us, Now: see this handout about constructing an inspiring story of your commitment to action on climate change.

Handy ‘How To’ booklets


Jannat Hossein (hi Jannat!) has also helpfully suggested the session should also reference our guide to local groups on embracing diversity, which will help us all think about how to be as inclusive as we can be when organising in our community.

Campaign Information

Climate Change gateway page (general information)
Schools Run On Sun campaign information and briefings
Fracking and shale gas campaign information and briefings
20 Things You Need To Know About Climate Change introductory booklet


If there's something weird in Norton Canes, who you gonna call?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Flashback: music reviews

This week: Corduroy, Soul Coughing, White Town.

And a dubious album cover.

In my wasted youth at the University of Hull, I penned the odd review for Hullfire, the student newspaper. For the sake of both completeness and comedy value, I occasionally add them to this blog.

Back in April 1997, I seem to have been a) very serious, b) extremely grumpy and c) overly fond of quote marks, as these reviews show.

Corduroy - The New You (LP)

Really Corduroy-boys, what were you thinking with this album cover?

Operating on the retro FM-rock periphery of acid jazz, Corduroy were born to write ersatz US sitcom themes. It also becomes clear upon listening to The New You that they gleefully confirm to every stereotype of an 'ironic' band.

They call songs 'Season of the Rich' or (wait for it) 'Designosaur'. On 'Supercrime' they moan about the shop that won't fix their broken hi-fi. They include secret tracks full of 'scary' chanting - what japes...

In the final analysis, however, it doesn't really matter how '4 real' Corduroy are, when against the odds the album actually turns out to be a rather fine goodtime record. If they stopped laying on the kitsch with a trowel and concentrated on transferring their live act to tape, it would have been even better.

Soul Coughing - Super Bon Bon (single)


Soul Coughing transcend the dull and actually enter the realms of the unpleasant with this sub-Beck indie-rap stoned rantalogue. Only redeeming feature: possible first use of the word 'mezzanine' in a song. White Town - Wanted (single)
Oh woe! Does the idea of a third-rate industrial Dubstar appeal? Thought not. Where 'Your Woman' grooved and made enigmatic references to 'highbrow Marxist ways', this merely clanks with a vengeance. Only redeeming feature - a five second electronic fart at the end.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Black metal ecology

As an outsider and music fan looking into black metal, it's interesting how to see how quickly it moved from straight-up Satanic nihilism 'n' blast-beats in the early 90's to the search for new musical and cultural values.

Much like punk (or any Romantic movement, for that matter) the rejection of the immediate past becomes not just a foundation for new orthodoxies, but for new heresies.The rediscovery of forgotten traditions. 

And one persistent escape route from pure negation has been towards deep ecological themes

After all, if you've rejected not just humanism and liberalism, but the ideological boundaries of traditional black metal, where do you go? The pursuit of transcendence through nature - generally implicitly but sometimes explicitly pagan - suggests a way of living rightly as well as providing lyrical inspiration and a whole new instrumental palette from the folk tradition.

Musically and memetically speaking, this interest in nature and folk music was embedded in the genre at a relatively early stage - most prominently in Ulver (see my Kveldsanger review here) but also in the Tolkienesque leanings of most of the early 90's Norwegian bands. 

Yet the fullest implications of black metal ecology seem to have been worked out in the US - the last Western frontier state - with bands like Agalloch, Botanist, Panopticon and Wolves In The Throne Room (WITTR). 

These band's membership of the black metal club may be disputed by the kvlt or denied by the bands themselves. But they're certainly 'blackened' in the sense that it's impossible to imagine them existing without the Norwegian year zero. 



Wolves in the Throne Room, Tivoli Helling, Utrecht by Enric Martinez, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license.

Wolves In The Throne Room

WITTR - particularly, their Black Cascade album, was my gateway to black metal and its offshoots - how could I resist a band which allegedly formed at an Earth First camp and sounded like the imminent collapse of civilisation?

Or - for the more prosaically minded - exactly as exciting as a shoe-gazing Motörhead might sound? 



Since Black Cascade, when the first fan-boy in corpse-paint disparaged them as hipsters and sellouts, WITTR have been on an escape trajectory from black metal.  So they've dialed back the aggression and moved onto the endearingly grand Celestial Lineage and its ambient alter ego, Celestite

From the first of those, Woodland Cathedral (below) mixes chanted vocals, organ with that black metal tremolo guitar to beguiling effect.  Being the song of love and reverence to the forest which the title suggests, it does exemplify the tendency of eco-metal to take itself very seriously indeed. While this fits the subject matter, it does also leave it looking a little po-faced at times.



Bearing witness

An interesting way of viewing WITTR is - I think - as a project of bearing witness, an idea common to the Quakers on the one hand as it is to the nihilistic fantasies of Lovecraft on the other.

Despite their eco-anarchist roots and their agrarian commune in the Pacific Northwest, they aren't in the business of providing solutions to environmental problems. They aren't even inclined to offer a lyrical diagnosis, in the same way that a death metal, punk or grindcore act from similar sub-cultural roots might be inclined to decry the evils of the world.

Rather, WITTR observe. Their songs look at the rapture of nature as is, and the imagined apocalypse as may be.

Well, this isn't in any way creepy

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TTIP hits Lichfield

Well, look who I saw on the streets of Lichfield on Saturday morning last week?



You can find out more about 38 Degrees and their anti-TTIP campaign here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Update-a-lude

Occasional readers of this blog may have noted that it's been relatively quiet here for the last month or so. 

There are at least a few good reasons for this: I've been mulling over some ideas for NaNoWriMo next month, as well having a long-form post about ecology in black metal well underway.

But mainly it's because I've been unwell. Not with the confined-to-quarters flu, let alone anything serious, but a nagging, consistent lack of energy. I hoped that I would shake it off but it's finally forced me to spend the first half of this week resting.

Lesson learned: I need to get better at recognizing my own limits and listen to those who care for me when they tell me to slow down.

At any rate, the batteries are recharging again, thanks to enforced rest, so stand by for some more posts in the coming days.

Here are a few things I've wanted to post about but have fallen foul of the above

Happy Ada Lovelace Day today!


By Original watercolor portrait (Ada lovelace.jpg): Alfred Edward Chalon Woodcut-style graphic (Ada Lovelace.tif): Colin Adams, for the Ada Initiative SVG conversion (Ada Lovelace.svg): Fred the Oyster Colorization: Kaldari (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons 

Terrorizer comes out (ahem) against homophobia in metal (kudos where kudos is due - and I'd much rather be praising them than otherwise)

And last, but by no means least, this news just in.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Wicker tapir

Apropos of nothing, lo, a wicker tapir.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Progenie Terrestre Pura


Today's micro-genre is ambient blackened space-metal, courtesy of the rather marvelous Progenie Terrestre Pura from Italy. You can listen to or download the whole album from their Bandcamp page for less than a fiver.

Raise your hand if the cover gives you flashbacks to classic SF airbrush art of the 70's and 80's.

[raises hand]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Least likely bromance ever


Copyright www.kremlin.ru under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence.

 Yesterday I got called a 'Friend of Putin' on Twitter. Least. Likely. Bromance. Ever.

In case you were wondering, it's because of Friends of the Earth's campaign against fracking and my involvement in this here event.



I think the argument here is that we either frack at home or import fossil fuels from overseas (i.e. Russia). This conveniently overlooks the whole question of climate change emissions, moving towards increased use of renewable energy, etc, etc.

You know the score.

Still, there's an alternate timeline out there somewhere where I'm hanging out with Vladimir, right?