Dumbarton 0-1 Dundee

Scottish Cup, Round Four, The Rock, 22/1/22.

What to make of this?

Against a top division side we looked reasonably comfortable and even with ten men for 46 minutes – I don’t know what Ross MacLean did to get sent off, the Pixellot camera had done its usual panning away thing when nothing’s happening at a free kick, but he’s an idiot for doing it – were in the game. And they only scored from a penalty. It struck Joe McKee’s arm but he couldn’t have got out of the way.

In fact our best chance came late on. Stuart Carswell blazed over after a couple of headers from a free kick opened up the chance for him but he rarely scores from open play. (He rarely scores at all.)

It was a pretty nondescript game all round. Dundee hardly threatened us, a couple of close range headers in the first half – one sent wide the other easily into Sam Ramsbottom’s arms – and a long range effort Sam tipped over. Second half I can only think of a Leigh Griffiths shot dragged wide and another straight at Sam.

First half Dundee did look sharper and quicker thinking, especially at loose/second balls, but as the game wore on the difference seemed to lessen.

We can’t be judged on this. Dundee were fairly toothless and we didn’t lay a glove on them either. (Ross MacLean possibly apart.) Big Josh up front did okay but wasn’t given enough service. Defenders know he’s there, though.

Cove Rangers next Saturday is a bigger test of our league chances.

I hope the display gives the team confidence, though.

Reelin’ in the Years 198: You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) RIP Meat Loaf

So long then Meatloaf. I heard the sad news as soon as my radio alarm switched on yesterday morning.

I was never the greatest fan of his – the productions on his recordings were (I know deliberately) overblown – but I certainly recognised his ability as a performer whenever I saw footage of his concerts/performances on TV. You could certainly never mistake his voice for anyone else. That’s one of the things that makes for a distinctive artist though.

He seems to have been a relatively modest guy too; not like your usual pop star, though he would refuse that designation. He apparently didn’t like anyone using the words ‘icon’ or ‘rock star’ about him and refused to have them on any promotional material.

I must confess I don’t remember hearing the spoken word intro to this track – his first UK hit. albeit only at no 33 – before. Radio edits must omit it.

Meat Loaf: You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)

Michael Lee Aday (Meat Loaf:) 27/9/1947 – 20/1/2022. So it goes.

Live It Up 87: Flaming Sword

Care was one of the bands Ian Broudie was in before The Lightning Seeds.

You can hear the (ahem) seeds of his later incarnation in this recording.

Care: Flaming Sword

Telemass Coda by Eric Brown

PS Publishing, 2019 , 39 p.

Sixteen years after the events of the last in Brown’s Telemass quartet, Matt Hendrick’s wife Mercury has been ‘lost’ in a telemass transit to Earth from Mars. While she is in limbo – Schrödinger’s Mercury, neither dead nor alive – his daughter Samantha, whom he had chased over the galaxy in the four previous books of the series as his first wife Maatje sought vainly for increasingly outlandish cures for her medical condition, convinces him to still undertake the pilgrimage holiday they had had planned to visit the four main planets of that earlier trek, Fomalhaut IV, Spica III, Reticuli II and Bellatrix I. On each of them Hendrick finds his memories stirred, especially on the third of those, where he had met Mercury. It is on Bealltrix I though where Samantha becomes convinced that its inhabitants, the Vhey, will have saved Mercury from extinction.

Once more here we find some of Brown’s characteristic tropes – enigmatic aliens, artists’ colonies, romantic attachments, a quest of some sort, quasi-mystical experiences, the importance of family – revisited; but it all works and the format is the perfect excuse. If you’ve read the quartet you know what to expect and you would wish nothing less, even if Hendrick’s relationship with Samantha reads as a little cloying and perhaps improbably close since she has a serious boyfriend. Telemass Coda may be short at 37 pages of text but it doesn’t feel so. After all, this is Brown doing what he does best.

Pedant’s corner:- “Time interval” later count – seven. Otherwise; “with a titled tricorne shading her dark Spanish face” (tilted tricorne.) “They can joins two souls into one body (join,) “since she waved goodbye me” (goodbye to me.)

Edzell Castle Interior

The interior of Edzell Castle is like many such ruined former grand buildings in Scotland – open to the sky, bare floors, sandstone walls.

Internal doorway:-

Doorway, Edzell Castle

Staircase:-

Edzell Castle, medieval castle, Scottish, Brechin, staircase

Fireplace:-

Fireplace, Edzell Castle

Arch from a collapsed oven. That was some size of oven:-

Edzell Castle, medieval Scottish castle, Brechin

Edzell Castle

We had meant to visit Edzell Castle, which lies just north-west of Brechin in Angus, for some time now. It is famous for its walled garden with box hedging arrangement. Last August we managed to book a visiting slot. The castle is now in the care of Historic Scotland. The present castle is on a site somewhat removed from the old motte and bailey castle.

Edzell Castle from motte and bailey site:-

Edzell Castle from Motte and Bailey

From the castle grounds:-

Edzell Castle from Grounds

Edzell Castle from Outside

Edzell Castle, Scottish castle, medieval castle, ruin

A corner tower:-

Edzell Castle, Corner

Entrance and square tower:-

Edzell Castle Entrance

Doorway:-

Edzell Castle Entrance Doorway

Castle entrance from east:-

Edzell Castle, Brechin, Scottish medieval castle

Castle tower from southwest:-

Edzell Castle Tower

Part of castle with walled garden to left:-

Edzell Castle Brechin, medieval Scottish castle

Edzell Castle, Corner of Walled Garden

The mound of the old motte and bailey Castle is easily seen from the south wall:-

Motte and Bailey Castle Mound

The Highest Frontier by Joan Slonczewski

Tor, 2011, 489 p.

There is not much Science Fiction that deals directly with politics. It’s possibly too contentious a subject. In The Highest Frontier, though, Slonczewski extrapolates from the US situation of the 2000s to present a scenario where a fundamentalist group known as Centrists states baldly that the Sun (and the Firmament) go round the Earth and whose adherents form the core of one of the two main political parties. There has been a sort of balance between those two parties lasting many elections – a statistical tie the last five times – but the results have been accepted, albeit with riots following the count. (Riots apart that is not arguably as grim as things have turned out in the real world where US election results are questioned simply because one side believes that no-one could possibly have voted for the other or else that their opponents’ votes have been inflated nefariously and therefore the elections were fraudulent. No one in Slonczewski’s scenario is claiming election fraud.) A man known as the Creep, due to a medical intervention after an accident leaving only his head and hands as original to him: those hands have a tendency to move away from his body, has been Vice-President for the last several terms. Candidates chose someone else as running-mate but they always got dropped as liabilities just before the vote. Direct taxation seems to have been relinquished – what a USian notion – instead people known as taxplayers have levies placed on their gaming activities.

This is not to say that politics is all that the book concerns itself with, even if Cuba is the fifty-second state of the Union. Global warming has led to Dead zones and migration northwards in the US, a type of plant known as ultraphyte (it ‘feeds’ on uv light) threatens to engulf Earth’s habitat niches and is a further source of political contention.

Jenny Ramos Kennedy is a child from a political family with ancestors and living relatives on both sides of the political fence who have been Presidents. She has been sent to a college on a space habitat known as Frontera to complete her education. Her twin Jordi with whom she was supposed to attend Frontera recently died in an accident and she has been assigned a companĕra roommate called Mary, who is strange. Access to off-world is via a space elevator built from anthrax. Biological engineering is advanced enough to render the material both strong and unharmful. On Frontera, amyloid and carboxyplast are the main structural materials. Resources seem not to be much of a problem at least for the rich. Jenny prints her clothes everyday. Mini versions of Earth creatures provide a simulation of everyday fauna. A political course for some reason leans heavily on Theodore Roosevelt and presumably in his memory the bears on Frontera resemble the toy ones named after him. A version of the internet called Toynet exists. It connects to someone’s personal toybox, is accessed by brainstreaming and usually manifests as an intrusive news service fronted by a reporter called Clive. Frontera’s power source can occasionally be cut off by orbiting debris but does engender the rather pleasing portmanteau word solarray.

There is a ton of such explanation at the beginning of the novel, more often than not clunkily introduced. It slackens off somewhat later on but never entirely disappears.

Jenny’s life is complicated by her family’s political connections. She also is an adept at a game called slanball, a sort of cross between hockey and quidditch only with no magic. The act of slanning instead involves brainstreaming. Her coach is of the strict nothing-must-interfere-with-training type with whom Jenny’s volunteering as a medical first responder and her occasional lack of sleep do not go down well. The game seems to be forgotten about in the latter half of the book, though. Jenny also involves herself with local politics. Voting in these elections includes a ridiculous stipulation that people vote in person, handwriting their choice into the ballot book using a uranium based ink.

Early on in her studies Jenny is told that ultraphyte genes have been found in pileworms. Her tutor leads her into research on plants which can “laugh” due to the introduction of neurons. These are developed into Arabidopsis sapiens and Mary instigates experiments with negative and then reverse controls, which become wisdom plants. Here someone mentions a Greek tag Sophia philai paromen, wisdom is the highest frontier, from which Slonczewski presumably took her title. The plants’ placement onto the stage of a Presidential debate leads to an unusual exchange between the candidates.

Jenny’s attraction to fellow student Tom is par for the course for a tale of an older adolescent – they have the usual misunderstandings and some awkwardness as regards their relative social status – but Slonzcewski’s treatment of such young love and sex is rather coy, in the latter case to the point of blink and you might miss it.

In this future more or less everyone is in effect their own political commentator/extrapolator – a nod to an SF forerunner is provided by a poster of the fictional political predictor Hari Seldon on a classroom wall.

However, the conclusion by some of Slonczewski’s characters that voting is no longer of any utility is a dangerous concept.

Pedant’s corner:- descendents (descendants.) “The faculty were full of expertise” (the faculty was.) “The college ran their own taxplayers rehab” (the college ran its own,) “the amyloid liquified (liquefied.) “The medibot shined a light on his face” (shone.) “A crude pixilated window opened” (pixilated means ‘drunk’, a computer screen window cannot be drunk; ‘pixellated’,) “said Tom said” (either ‘said Tom’ or ‘Tom said’,) sunk (sank.)

Dumbarton 2-0 East Fife

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 15/1/22.

What Ho, Jeeves!

A win! And a clean sheet!

Mind you. It was only East Fife.

The first half was odd. Both teams had chances – twice there was pinball in their penalty area and it seemed impossible we wouldn’t score; but we didn’t. It could have been 3-3 at half-time instead of 0-0. Sam Ramsbottom (in because our new loan keeper Kieran Wright injured himself in the warm-up, that’s how our season has gone) had a couple of good saves.

In the second half it was kind of the same except new striker Joshua Oyinsan put in a centre forward’s header from the six-yard line (I thought the keeper should have done better, as they say) from a great cross by our other official debutant Gregg Wylde, who actuallly played last week for us as a trialist. I had forgotten what a centre forward looked like! Oyinsan won headers and held the ball up, put himself about and got on the end of a cross; what’s not to like?

That goal, aesthetically pleasing as it was – there’s always something delightful about a headed goal from a cross – was surpassed by the second; a great hit by Gregg Wylde from thirty-five yards, hitting the post and rebounding back across the goal, crossing the line as it did so. What a belter! In those stakes probably only beaten by Lee Sharp’s at Livingston and Big Roy’s at Love Street on Christmas Day 1971.

Even so East Fife had two great chances themselves but both times failed to test Ramsbottom in our goal.

Still I’m not objecting to being eight points clear of automatic relegation and only two (realistically because of the goal difference difference) shy of the staying up spot at this stage of the season.

We’ll need to keep it up though.

A respite from league business next week with Dundee coming for a Scottish Cup visit.

But the next two league games are fiercesome. League leaders Cove at home and third-placed Montrose away.

Comet Leonard’s Wagging Tail

From Astronomy Picture of the Day for 10/1/22.

A time-lapse video of Comet C/2021 A1 (named Leonard) as it progressed on its trip through the inner solar system.

The video was taken by NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory-Ahead (STEREO-A) over ten days in December and processed in such a way as to highlight differences from one frame to another.

This clearly shows the comet’s tail being wagged as it is buffeted by the solar wind.

But it does remind me of films I have seen of spermatozoa swimming on their way to fertilising eggs.

Friday on my Mind 213: Baby I Love You

I heard on the radio yesterday morning that Ronnie Spector, lead singer of The Ronettes, has died.

The Ronettes early success came under the production of Phil Spector – the quintessential US sound of the early 1960s.

Their first hit Be My Baby also featured the wonderful drumming of Hal Blaine.

This was their second.

The Ronettes: Baby I Love You

Veronica Greenfield (Veronica Yvette Bennett, aka Ronnie Spector:) 10/8/1943 –12/1/2022. So it goes.

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