"Things went wrong, not everything was perfect."

Links Today, across just half an hour Team GB won legendary gold medals in dressage and boxing and earlier in the morning Regina Spektor was played on the speakers in the Olympic stadium. That's a good day. Here's some links I've collected about other good days.

Frank Cottrell Boyce provides a kind of writers commentary for the opening ceremony.
"Danny's blistering opening unleashed the energy and genius of the revolution – factories rising like fireworks. Suttirat Larlarb's beautiful dove bikes made me – and hopefully you – recall the thrill of first learning to ride, and how like flight that felt. There was a strangely carefree atmosphere. Because it was hard to imagine that this was really going to happen, it was easy to suggest the impossible – floating trees, a parachuting Queen, Voldemort versus Poppins."

‘Hedge Sparrows’, by Dr Richard Price from the British Library, is chosen as the poem to represent Great Britain in the Olympics
"Price has beaten Blake, Wordsworth and Shakespeare to the punch with ‘Hedge Sparrows’. The poem gives voice to a bird that is found almost everywhere in the UK, a representative free of region, gender and ethnicity. 'Hedge Sparrows' depicts a bird twittering in our rapid-fire world of social media, where messages fly around the world in the form of tweets. Described as a prose poem, which fuses elements of prose with the cadences of poetry, here the rapidity of the hedge sparrow’s song is mimicked by its delivery in one long sentence."

BBC Radio Scotland have produced a series of podcasts collecting poems from across the countries.
The British entry is read by Jim Broadbent.

10 stories you may have missed about the Olympics.
"The opening ceremony contained subtle nods to two of the darker moments in Britain’s recent history. The singing of the traditional football hymn Abide With Me featured 96 dancers – one for each person who was killed in the Hillsborough disaster of 1989. And the lighting of the Olympic cauldron featured seven young torch-bearing athletes, who had been nominated by seven Olympic legends – a nod to the 7/7 bombings. Subtle, but beautifully understated."

A giddy Simon Hoggart talks to npr about the opening ceremony.
"Well, I, too. I loved it. I was prepared to be very, very cynical, skeptical, critical, but I thought it was terrific. And I tell you what really made it was four years ago, we had this amazing display in Beijing, but it was a display of a Communist country, you know. Everybody - you could get 10,000 drummers drumming in unison. And ours was more of a democratic display. Things went wrong, not everything was perfect."

Photos of the (almost) deserted Olympic Park.
"A sight that the Olympics organisers hope to never see is an empty Olympic Park, but for me it was too good a chance to miss. [...] I took a gamble which involved getting to a smaller gate on the opposite side from the main entrance that most people would use and if able to get in on the dot of 7am, maybe I could get some photos of the park before the main crowds at the other end reached me? [...] It worked!"

"The Blog North Awards are new for 2012"

About Ooh. Interesting:
"The Blog North Awards are new for 2012. They celebrate the best of Northern England’s independent publishing, and aim to bring some of the great new writing being published online to a wider audience.

Nominations are now open. Enter a blog here, or take a look at our categories and eligibility rules. The 2012 shortlist will be announced at the beginning of September, and winners will be announced at our event on October 17 in Manchester. Find out more about the awards evening here."
Here's how to enter a blog. And here are the categories.

"these rare jewels"

Links With the exception of the Saturday night, nothing in the athletics portion of the Olympics so far contradicts my argument that the Olympic sports we're weakest in receive the most publicity whereas something like Triathlon, in which we're apparently masters of the world thanks to the Brownlee brothers is rarely broadcast live so we didn't even know that thanks to the Brownlee brothers we are masters of the world. Anyway to also provide a counterbalance, here are a few non-Olympics related things I've been reading...

Mike Sterling investigates the contents of a storage container and finds pogs, pogs everywhere ...
"This fellow was apparently a distributor and / or manufacturer of cap products during the height of fad, in the early ’90s, and these rare jewels have apparently been resting in storage for nearly two decades since. I haven’t had much of a chance to actually go through the boxes, since mostly we were just hauling them out of the truck and making a giant POG box pyramid in a corner of the shop."

Broken TV runs down the Fifty Most-Watched (and Least-Watched) TV Channels In The UK, 2012
"Channel 4’s decision to make More4 rubbish doesn’t seem to have paid ratings-based dividends. In 2011, the average rating of a top ten show on More4 was 610,000 viewers. For 2012, the endless repeats of Grand Designs and Come Dine With Me are bringing an average of 379,000 viewers per top ten programme. Meanwhile, E4 has held pretty steady, showing that showing nothing but repeats of The Inbetweeners is pretty much as effective as showing nothing but repeats of Friends."

The Bystanders: photographers who didn't step in to help - in pictures
"What's it like to witness a mob attack, a starving child or the aftermath of a bomb, and take a photograph instead of stopping to help? As two journalists are under fire for recording rather than intervening in a sex attack in India, we ask people who know"

So Many Feelings / On Ladyblogs
"Blog empire Gawker Media, like its magazine counterparts Conde Nast and Hearst, asks readers to sort themselves by advertising demographic. One might be interested in sports, and read Deadspin. One might be interested in gadgets, and read Gizmodo. Or one might be interested in being a woman, and read Jezebel. When Jezebel launched in spring 2007, I myself was keenly interested in being a woman. I was 20 years old: being a woman was a relatively recent development, and I was curious about the ways it could be done. And I had always enjoyed reading about being a girl. "

Hey, Everyone — Stop Taking This Picture! (No, I Mean It.)
“If I have to see one more woman posed with her behind in my general direction, looking smouldering-ly over her shoulder, I’m going to punch someone in the face. And you two [my Tor.com officemates] should be worried, since you’re the closest people at hand.”

The Sunday Seven.
Joanna Wyld.
Writer of Programme Notes and CD Liner Notes.



As a big fan of classical music but always in need of guidance as to the history of the works, biographies of the composers and what to listen out for.  I've often wondered who the writers who provide that guidance might me and here's one of them, Joanna Wyld of Notes Upon Notes.

How did you become a writer?

I’ve always loved writing creatively. As a child I’d doodle “Joanna Wyld: Athor [sic]” in large letters, expressing my ambition despite being unable to spell it. Then for a long time I wanted to be a composer, but the writing simply took over.

I was working as an editor for a record company, and one of our CD note-writers dropped out at the last moment. They called on me to step in, and I managed to produce a surprisingly convincing note on a 1930s jazz outfit called “The Cats and the Fiddle”, of whom I’d never heard. Before long I was combining the editing work with more and more writing, usually about classical music – about which I know considerably more – and the whole thing snowballed. Now I write about music for a number of wonderful artists and record labels.

What was your inspiration for Notes Upon Notes?

I’ve always loved both words and music, so I find the process of writing about music genuinely inspiring. I’ll never tire of it! I always feel an almost childlike excitement whenever I receive a new commission.

The most inspiring thing is imagining my audience – whether they’re children or aficionados – and trying to capture for them the joy of the music they’re going to hear. I aspire to write in such a way that the words themselves give pleasure. To me, really great music writing evokes something of the thrill of the music itself, either through a particularly fascinating quote from the composer, or through a felicitous turn of phrase, or through something musical about the language itself.

What was the trickiest element to achieve?

Notes upon Notes has evolved in a really enjoyable way, so the trickiest moments have been specific challenges, usually involving juggling commitments.

The most vivid example of this was when I was starting out. My daughter was all of two months old, and I was looking after her pretty much single-handedly. I was commissioned to write 17 CD liner notes in the space of two weeks. A very tight deadline for any writer, let alone one with a tiny baby! I would feed my daughter, put her in a sling on my front, walk around the table until she fell asleep, and then sit down, while she was asleep nestling up to me, and write a note on Beethoven’s Fifth or whatever it was. And then she’d wake and the process began again! I met the deadline and, surprisingly, I’ve read the notes since and they don’t give away just how tired I was...

Of everything you've done what have you been most pleased with?

A few years ago I ghost-wrote a book on human trafficking. I worked with an amazing team of people who research and campaign to raise awareness about modern-day slavery. In the space of a month I had to assimilate all these facts, figures and harrowing stories, process them, and then write about them in a way that was both emotive and coherent. It was painful, and I was under a cloud by the end of it, but the book is now used as a resource by the United Nations. To think that my words have contributed, even in a small way, to their fight against injustice, is humbling.

How much research do you need to do for each set of notes?

It depends on the commission and the audience, as some will expect a greater level of detail than others. But I always begin at my local library, get as many books, CDs and scores as I can carry, and then pack in as much information as seems relevant.

Who’s your favourite composer?

Impossible to choose just one! Elliott Carter is astonishing: to be writing music like that at the age of 103 seems almost miraculous. To relax I’d probably choose Sibelius, Richard Strauss or Debussy. I also admire Delia Derbyshire, who created new sonorities with real innovation and imagination.

What stops you from feeling listless?

Playing or listening to music, and hanging out with my daughter. Those things make me feel... listful?

Joanna Wyld writes Notes Upon Notes, which is also available on Facebook.