Archives » 2011 » May

Not Friday On My Mind 9: Hurdy Gurdy Man

More psychedelia-tinged Donovan from a bit later in the decade than Sunshine Superman.

Donovan: Hurdy Gurdy Man

This one is more straight-forward rock though, if full of nonsense lyrics.

Donovan and the Jeff Beck Group: Goo Goo Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)

Rep. Ireland 1-0 Scotland

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 29/5/11

It was almost inevitable the Republic would win this. They were at home after all.

Again I’ve missed the goal, but I’ve heard this game was dire – not even a patch on the English League 1 play-off between Peterborough and Huddersfield. People just lumping the ball forward; no passing, no Barcelona style passing anyway.

In that case neither of these two sides will trouble the 2012 European Championships.

FC Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United

Champions League Final, Wembley Stadium, 28/5/11

Apart from the first ten minutes there didn’t look to be a chance of one team (United) winning, since Barcelona were so much in control. Even the equaliser didn’t change anything: all that did was restore the status quo ante. Had United scored first things might have been different.

Barcelona reminded me a bit of playground bullies who would snaffle your ball and just play about with it among themselves. It’s unfair really. Give the other side a chance, can’t you?

The result was we did not witness a classic. I doubt I’ll remember this by the end of next week.

A memorable football match requires both sides to be on a more or less even footing, for both to be in with a shout. When one side is dominant, all the tension, the necessary uncertainty, is drained away. We are left with a steamroller, remorselessly flattening the opposition.

Barney Ronay in The Guardian put forward a similar view on Saturday.

The Barcelona juggernaut is impressive. But somehow it manages to remove all the excitement.

Is Anyone Surprised?

You only had to look at who won the rights to hold the next two World Cups after 2014 to know money was involved somewhere along the line.

Russia – oligarchs – and Qatar – oil.

It’s only the degree, and whether it actually went to the members of the FIFA board or their pet projects which was in any way in doubt.

All the shock horror is a bit overdone.

But a cleaning out of FIFA’s Augean stables would be no bad thing just the same.

Wales 1-3 Scotland

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 25/5/11.

You could be forgiven for not knowing this match had taken place. I didn’t even see the goals on the news – mainly because I missed the news last evening. The good lady and I went out for a meal last night; at the Annapurna, a very nice Nepalese restaurant. But I digress.

By all accounts the crowd was woeful; not surprisng for a game between Wales and Scotland held in Dublin when the Irish Republic is in the middle of a hellish economic time the night after the Republic themselves had had a game.

It sets up Sunday’s (it is Sunday, isn’t it?) game nicely but the Wales – Northern Ireland game tonight won’t be much of an attraction I’d have thought.

Reelin’ In The Years 5: Drift Away

Another song solidly from the seventies – though Dobie Gray did have a hit in the 60s with The ‘In’ Crowd.

I like the tick-tock sound the drummer makes at the beginning of the second verse, “Beginning to think that I’m wasting time.” The video blips just after that for some reason (at about 1 minute 10 seconds.)

Wikipedia says Drift Away wasn’t a hit in the UK.

Well, I bought it!

Dobie Gray: Drift Away

Mr Big Society

Writers’ Bloc’s latest gig, entitled Mr Big Society, takes place at 8pm on Wednesday 1st June 2011.

Nice poster don’t you think?

Various Bloc stalwarts will make their contributions but so also will some new comrades!

In an innovation there will be Writers’ Bloc badges available for sale.

The venue is The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh College of Art, EH3 9DF. Admission is an affordable £3 if you book your ticket online, or £4 (£2 concessions) on the door.

Sadly I shan’t be able to attend as the day job intervenes (they do make me work evenings sometimes.)

But you can…

Follow the adventures of Mr Big Society and his friends!

Yes, it’s the Writers’ Bloc contribution to the big debate of our time. All the things you really wanted to know about The Big Society but were just too sensible to ask.

Original, unscholarly research on the key economic questions: What happens if you literally pay peanuts? What happens when ‘Fairy Cakes for Fire Engines’ collides with ‘Lemoncake for Lifeboats’? Is The Big Society fact or fable? Bird or plane? Can you return it if it’s the wrong size? Will Mr Big Society, Mr Banker, Little Miss Librarian, Mr Jihad and all the other friends have the best time ever? Or will there be tears before bedtime?

A revolution of the Public Services and Charity Sector – what could possibly go wrong? Or to be more accurate, what could impossibly go wrong?

The Writers’ Bloc Think Tank will present a night of unlikely social policy – short stories that blur all distinction between fact, fiction, sense, nonsense, inaccuracy, good ideas and bonkers brainstorming sessions.

Having trouble understanding The Big Society? Just wait until we’ve finished!*

* Not approved by the IMF, OECD or The Institute for Economic Affairs.

More Edinburgh

These photos were taken about a month or so ago.

This is a panorama of Edinburgh from the Botanic Gardens with Arthur’s Seat prominent towards the left and the Castle to the right.

Edinburgh panorama

This heron was in the Water of Leith as we walked back from the Botanics. It may or may not be the same one we have seen before.

Heron in Water of Leith

This is one of Antony Gormley‘s sculptures. It is embedded into the tarmac in the middle of the pedestrian entrance from Belford Road into the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Gormley man at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Volcanic Io

This is beautiful.

It was Astronomy Picture of the Day on Sunday (22/5/11.) Go to the site to see it in its full glory.

It’s a composite view of Jupiter’s moon, Io, taken by the Galileo spacecraft. You can see a blue coloured volcanic plume at the top of the scene. There is another plume – known by the name Prometheus – right in the centre. It’s ring shaped and is rising directly towards the camera. The striking yellow and red patches on Io’s surface are due to the sulphur spewed out by the volcanoes. Because of that Io looks like a semi-precious stone.

The Company He Keeps edited by Peter Crowther and Nick Gevers

Postscripts 22/23, PS Publishing, 2010. 394 p

The book – one of the most recent in the Postscripts series of anthologies – contains short stories encompassing a range of genres from SF, Fantasy and Horror through to mainstream but mostly in the speculative realm. There are too many stories to consider individually but the standard is high. Even if not all are entirely successful the book contains very few duds. One of the most effective tales is the title story, by Lucius Shepard, about a plot by a famous movie star to enravel his associates in the – perhaps simulated – murder of his girlfriend. Eric Brown’s The Human Element works well even if it re-visits one of his early themes, the relationship between an artist and his work. All the contributions are worth reading though I found Bully by Jack Ketchum too predictable. The Forever Forest by Rhys Hughes was curiously old fashioned, as if the author was trying too hard to convey otherness; it reads as if it might have been written in the 1950s. There’€™s also a story, Osmotic Pressure, by someone called Jack Deighton, which contains a fair bit of (arguably necessary?) information dumping.

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