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There's no particular need in the world for another Fringe guide but I want to write this so what the heck.

1) What is the Fringe and why would I want to go?
Basically, over three weeks in August in Edinburgh there are a bunch of different festivals- film, books, international theatre and music, jazz- but the Fringe overshadows them all. It's the biggest arts festival in the world by quite some margin, featuring nearly 3,500 shows over three weeks (on any given day there are probably only 2,500 performances. People need a day off now and again.) There are a LOT of venues, mostly smallish rooms in cellars hastily transformed for the occasion. More than half of the shows are comedy, but that still leave a lot that aren't!
It's one of the main engines of the British performing arts scene, and shapes pretty much everything about how live comedy works here (performers work up an hour-long show for the Fringe and then tour it; winners of the Best Comedy and Best Newcomer awards get a lot of opportunities.) It's an immersion into a different world, with its own priorities, vocabulary and time zone. Also, Edinburgh is an amazing city.

2) OK, I'm sold, that sounds cool. Why are you doing a guide specifically for a middle-aged person?
Because teenagers may be able to see 8 shows a day, drink 20 pints a night, sleep on the floor for a week, and not break themselves, but I can't. I have handy hints and tips if you can't either.

3)Is there any need for the whole guide to be in Q and A format?

My main points, I suppose, are to cover some of the issues that you wouldn't necessarily realise when you first think about going, and to strongly suggest you keep in mind what you already know about what keeps you happy.
now read on... )
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Let the rockets flash and the cannons thunder,
This child is a marvel, a matchless wonder.
A staggering child, a child astounding,
Dazzling, diaperless, dumfounding,
Stupendous, miraculous, unsurpassed,
A child to stagger and flabbergast.
Bright as a button, sharp as a thorn,
And the only perfect one ever born.

Arrived this evening at half past nine.
Everybody is doing fine.

(If you suspect I'm bored and trolling [personal profile] sigmonster, you're wrong, I'm not bored.)
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Yep, I'm going to stop cross-posting from Dreamwidth to LJ (and what a huge loss that will be for everyone); I'll still read my LJ friendslist.
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I went to Barcelona, because I have worked out that if I have a long weekend somewhere with longer days in February it us a good thing all round, and it was brill. Looked at the Med, and went on a tiny boat trip that got all of about a quarter mile outside the harbour; also looked at cathedrals, alleys, ironwork, gardens, hills, markets, Roman walls, etc. Ate lots of tapas and seafood (yum, cuttlefish) and cream catalana (creme brûlée with cinnamon and/or lemon zest in). Was pleased by the many places selling small paper cones of Iberico ham to eat as you stroll.
It tipped it down one day but otherwise there was lots of lovely DAYLIGHT.
And I found out about Eusabi Guell, who was a 19th C multibillionaire (in today's money) who was a bit of a religious nut and also quite into Catalan nationalism. So what he did was fund literary magazines and be a patron for lots of musicians and artists and sculptors and this weird architect who wanted to meld Art Nouveau with traditional Catalonian materials and craftsmanship, and what I'm saying is that if CERTAIN PEOPLE spent a shitload of money on the arts then maybe CERTAIN COUNTRIES would be a lot better off than other forms of nationalism will leave them, because over a hundred years later Catalonia is still doing very nicely thank you from Gaudi tourism. So well done el Sr. Guell.
(Guell's townhouse was Gaudi's first commission, and it is a mixture of rich-people-odd, like the ground floor being designed to drive your carriage right in (the stables are in the basement) or there being five salon rooms of various degrees of intimacy but only three rooms for the ten children and their nurses, arts-patron-odd like the whole house being designed round a 50-foot-high room with perfect acoustics and a gallery for choir and orchestra, and Gaudi-odd like the random wiggly closets in the corners of the master suite. It is very lavish and strange. The family only lived there for a few years as apparently Guell's wife never liked it.)
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I'm currently reading The Golden City by Kathleen Cheney, which is enjoyable so far (She's a Siren spy! He's half-selkie! They Fight Crime! In 1902 Portugal!), an anthology called Daily Life In Victorian London, and Dave Barry Does Japan.

Recently I've read several 1930s-40s mysteries by Patricia Wentworth that aren't from her Miss Silver series, several of the Donna Andrews bird-themed mysteries, Sara Pascoe's non-fiction Animal: the Autobiography of a Female Body which was very good, and a couple of SFFs that I can't remember where I got the recommendation from- A Calculated Life and Gemsigns Revolution- which were also enjoyable, and a collected volume of Dinosaur Comics. It's been a good run of books.

Last weekend I got a lift to Ikea and spent a lot of money, and then a lot of time putting things together; this weekend I went to a comedy festival in London (ARGcomFest, which was excellent); I decided to get the 11.30 PM train out of London and then a taxi home at 2.30 AM, as being cheaper than another night in a hotel- it worked reasonably well, I got a bit of sleep on the train and a bit at home and wasn't totally wiped out, although having a meeting first thing in the morning wasn't ideal.
If anybody is going to Edinburgh and wants recs: Sketch groups Daphne and Lazy Susan, stand-ups James Acaster and Mark Watson, a character show from Andrew Hunter Murray, and complete inexplicability from John-Luke Roberts were all ace. Grainne Maguire and Naomi Peterson were very good too. Also, as always, the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society (I'm going twice in Edinbugh. Woo.)- I'm not sure if my favourite act was the man being a fireworks display, the woman being an egg, or the host making risotto live on stage.
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I stopped at the chippy on my way home and was promptly accosted by the cutest gold-digger ever, who was sitting just outside the door- she was madly in love with me, miaow, I was wonderful, mrrow, {rubs head on my shin}, and she was sure a terrific person like me must have some fish to share with an abandoned, starving, adorable pussycat like her? Miaow? Had I noticed how fluffy her tummy was?
I did try to show her that I only had boring carbs, but she didn't give up until I finished and threw the paper in the bin, when she gave me a betrayed look and dashed off- clearly to a loving home (from her shiny coat and sparkly collar) who probably have no idea what a practised shakedown artist she is!
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Blood orange (and lime) marmalade recip-ish
Read more... )
I went to Dublin recently for a conference recently and had a couple of days to go round the city as well, which was very nice. May well go back. There were a bunch of (e)books that I'd been waiting for that published recently, so I got them to read on the plane etc. and then had very little time to read them, so I'm still going through them, which is nice; I really enjoyed the Rachel Neumeier's The Keeper of the Mists, Seanan Mcguire's Indexing sequel, T. Kingfisher's Snow Queen retelling (I think it's called The Raven And The Reindeer), The Sleeping Life by Andrea Host (still waiting impatiently for Tangleways though!) and the final Fairyland book from Catherynne Valente. Also Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen; not the best Bujold ever, but still nice, and I do like books about grown-ups. My pre-order of the new Raksura book should arrive any day too.
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Am feeling mighty-ish; I have not only worked out how to answer a phone call on my new phone (weirdly non-obvious) but also how to get rid of a "new voicemail!" icon that hung around after listening to the voicemail, and have put a screen cover on without getting bubbles underneath it. Should really go and use the feeling to power necessary chores like gathering up toiletries for travel, but am watching a slime mould devour a lichen instead [1].

Podcast plug! I went and watched a live recording of No Such Thing As A Fish on Friday night, and it was very funny. In a couple of weeks you can hear about what links the Sphinx and a koala's pouch; why the appendix is the Helm's Deep of the body; the foreign dog hairspray scandal; the glass delusion; sea otter archaeologists, and other diverting and edifying tales. (You will sadly miss the live special features like their Top Ten Rejected Facts and Andy Murray's interesting presentation on the Casio watch. He was so gleeful about it! Also seeing them at the end shilling- "We have merch! We'll sign anything! Feed our egos!")

[1] on telly. Though I'm not ruling out there being slime moulds in the coal hole.
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OK so this is not a review of the Reeves and Mortimer tour, Read more... )
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Hello folks!
I've had a good break so far, including seeing the Christmas "panto nativity" Alternative Comedy Memorial Society gig ( photos), getting 14 books for Christmas (so far have only read a 1950s cookbook, Step Aside Pops, You're All Just Jealous of My Backpack, and partway through Ancillary Mercy and This Is Improbable Too- must do better), ice-skating (didn't fall over!), going for a pub lunch and a walk by a recently-flooded beck, and having a massage/swim/steam room day. I've just had a bagel with brie, have a pot of tea steeping and some chocolate to eat, and have four more days to do Nothing At All in. Lovely.
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So after fucking up the first delivery attempt, John Lewis managed to send a couple of competent washing-machine installers round today and I have a new washing machine, and a new appreciation for not having been burnt to death by the large lump of polystyrene that had been left under the old one for n years; luckily the machine didn't have any programmes above 60C. The previous owner of this house really made some… interesting choices.
I'm reading Steles of the Sky finally, which is good but a bit high stakes, so I reread How To Be A Victorian at the same time (it's so practical, and understatedly funny, and truthful about the bad bits, and oh I love Ruth Goodman), and I'm also reading Dracula and a Dave Barry and some 30s mysteries by people I'd never heard of for light relief.
Tomorrow I need to wrap another batch of Christmas presents and bottle up the blackberry gin. I think it may need a bit more sugar, but I have sugar.
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Have just started process of changing mobile providers (to giffgaff because cheaper) and also home phone/broadband (to plusnet because Virgin promised certain speeds to their customers… and rather than spend money on putting in the infrastructure to support that, they sold off the customers with crappy cables to talktalk, and if I'd wanted to be with bloody talktalk I would have signed up with the useless bastards in the first place; waited for plusnet to have a decent offer on so will be getting cashback. Mwahaha.)

No tuits left, need to decompress with terrible telly for the rest of the day.
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Wednesday books

I'm reading a novella by Melissa Scott from the Astreiant series- too lazy to look up the title, I think it's Point of Knives. Also The Rutland Weekend Television book by Eric Idle.

Just finished Wee Free Men and Mark Thomas's 100 Acts of Minor Dissent.

I may read Deep Secret next, something reminded me of Bristolia this morning on the bus.

Actually it's been such a long time since I did a book log, let's mention some of the new or newish SFF books I've enjoyed over the summer:

Bujold's new novella Penric's Demon. Digital Divide, by K.B.Spangler. Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. Sarah Tolmie's The Stone Boatmen. The Martian. T. Kingfisher's The Seventh Bride. The Silvered by Tanya Huff. The Wizard's Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke. Nathan Lowell's Quarter Share books. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. Am.M. Dellamonica's Child of a Hidden Sea.

(Reread a lot of things too- The Goblin Emperor, Pyramids of London and Bones of the Fair (by Andrea Host), Mindtouch (by M.C.A. Hogarth), Traveller and Wish-Queen by Laura Wise, Martha Wells' Raksura short story collections (new novels being written, hooray!) and also read some classic mysteries n'nonfiction n'stuff.)
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Based on one that was quite American-centric, Britishish version created by cmcmck on LJ, I saw it on Gillo's LJ.
Curry, Corrie and King's Cross )
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Went to ARGcomfest at the weekend.
Babblings on comedy quite like old times )
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Reading Wednesday

I just finished Steel Blues, the second Order of the Air book by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham, and also a book about Round the Horne by Barry Took (and very bona it was, my dearios) and Sowing Secrets by Trisha Ashley.

I'm reading about half-a-dozen books; the third Order of the Air book, Throne of The Crescent Moon, Dave Barry's You Can Date Boys When You're Dead, a volume of Colette's letters, The Art of Coarse Acting, etc.

Next may be The Dark Colony, by Richard Penn, or Stella Benson's Living Alone.
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There was a wren in the garden this morning!

Went to see Opera North's Figaro last night, which was excellent- go if it comes to your city and you like opera at all, lovely set design/staging, funny (the "This is my mother? Oh God, really?" scene was excellent), good acting, good singing, a great time all round. Reminded of how much I love the trios and quartets.

There was a televised Figaro in English in the nineties which was fun, with the Count as a nasty Tory MEP, which I was pleased to find on youtube when i came home and wanted to see the opera all over again. (I must admit I slightly want to get Mark off of Mark Does Stuff to watch it to see him getting agitated about what a privileged git the Count is!)
( from Glydebourne, in Italian, with subtitles)

I finally browsed through this year's Yuletide fics; here are the ones I liked enough to keep.
fairly long list )
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Just finished:
An Emma Lathen mystery; Zen Cho's collection of short stories Spirits Abroad (which is AMAZING); and the Good Housekeeping collection of articles from during the second world war.

Currently reading:
A regency romance Harry Potter fanfic! (Crossover with the Antonia Forest Marlows series, but I haven't read them and it still works. Not sure if the fanwriter Ankaret is also the author with the first name Ankaret who's written a bunch of original books I've enjoyed lately; this one can certainly write well.)

Will read next:
Maybe a Dell Shannon. Or I've just bought Child of a Hidden Sea.
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A month since I was in Edinburgh, you say? Tra-la.

Sunday (a very good day)
Read more... )


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