Archive for May, 2007

Empire of the mind

Cool; science-fiction writers get their call-up papers.

How we are

The Telegraph reviews How We Are: photographing Britain at the Tate.

Life after American Splendor

“So, how’s life, four years after American Splendor?” “The movie was good to us. We achieved middle income, if not middle-class status, by working on the movie. We’re no longer the working poor. For me, that’s amazing. I have a freezer now.”

Achtung Schweinehund!

I guess this one counts as a contribution to the almost non-existent Nerd Studies canon. A slighly-scary comedy autobiography of a life in British combat-nerd fan culture, Achtung Schweinehund! A Boy’s Own Story of Imaginary Combat. The author tells of how he slips from a boyhood of Airfix military models, plastic guns and Commando comics […]

Elgar’s 150th

It’s the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edward Elgar, composer and cyclist. Sadly, it seems we may now be seeing a repeat of the grudging response to the recent Auden anniversary. Elgar is ignored outside the British Isles, says The Guardian… “he remains almost inexplicably ignored everywhere” And he’s deliberately ignored by many inside […]


It isn’t often that one can point to places in the West Midlands that are re-opening rather than closing. But this week there are two: the Motor Museum and Longbridge. Oddly, both places have family connections. One branch of my family (who until 1940 had made cycles and motorcycles) supplied Longbridge with tank parts during […]

Bat flight

(large version, 170kb)

Margaret out on the Street?

Created in Birmingham reports that the Art School at Margaret St., in Birmingham city centre, seems (allegedly) set to close and relocate.

THES 2 mag

From someone who attended a focus-group where they were shown “new-look” mock-ups, I hear that the crusty old Times Higher Educational Supplement newspaper is to get a radical makeover. Out with the inky newspaper with its sparse crop of adverts from academic book publishers, and in with a stylish magazine with glossy upmarket advertising and […]

New animation degrees for Birmingham

Rob Sharl reports that BIAD has just obtained approval for two new B.A. degree awards in Animation and Animation for Games Design, which will start in late September 07 (presumably taught at Gosta Green, Birmingham). They’re recruiting now.

Understanding Games

Understanding Games, the first of a four-part Flash series that attempts to do for videogames what Scott McCloud did for comics. Ah, but will it enable us to understand ‘games’ such as Outback?


So you want to publish a book that lies flat when you put it on a table, but which has a proper strong binding rather than some naff spiral/comb-thing. You’re in luck; Robin Kinross surveys the state of the art, and lists the few cold-glue paperback binders that still exist in Europe.

Useful freeware

SitPhot writes to tell me of Super ©, mature freeware that (so I’m told) really does convert from-and-to every type of audio and video file / codec. And while we’re talking of freeware, let me recommend a few I’ve used for a while and wouldn’t be without: Finding stuff: AMP Font Viewer     View and install/manage […]

Do Not Refreeze

The Times newspaper reviews Do Not Refreeze: photography behind the Berlin wall, which is on now in Manchester. Redeye calls the show “singular and sizeable”, and it’s also free. Other reviews are here and here. The substantial catalogue is available from the Cornerhouse website.

Junior Typographers Inc.

So you want little junior to grow up to be a typographer? Hide the Woolworths plastic building-blocks, and replace them with these.

Tokyo collective experience-map

A Tokyo collective blogger-map, with a good stab at elegant and intuitive navigation.

Rage against the machine

From The steampunk Project, a free immersive historical old-school RPG about Victorian technology in England. Rage against the Machine: Technology, Rebellion, and the Industrial Revolution (PDF, 4mb) is currently in version 6.0, and is completely free.

Exeter conferences

Exeter University are holding two interesting-sounding conferences in September 2007: Neo-Victorianism : the politics and aesthetics of appropriation (including steampunk , ghosts, “monstrosities”, goth cultures, and queer neo-Victorian fiction, among many other topics); and Text | Landscape | Identity, the culmination of a year-long series of events that seeks to “achieve a rapprochement between geography […]

Moggies in literature

A free public lecture down at the University of Worcester on the 22nd May 07, titled “Devils, Demons, Familiars, Friends: A Semiotics of Literary Cats”.

Doughnut for brains

A friend sent me this fascinating portrait of where the brains of the West Midlands were living in 2006… It’s a map that seems to agree with John Prescott’s recent comment that Birmingham was “a mistake”. But it’s slightly encouraging to think that at least we do still have great swathes of brain-power in the […]