Monday, October 30, 2006

First Compressions

Via the excellent Alex Ross of the The New Yorker, some excellent thoughts (none of them mine) on compression in modern beat combo music. Everything Louder Than Everything Else is very good, but The Death Of Dynamic Range is just brilliant. Much to over-mull here, but howsabout them waveforms? Exactly the kind of clearly illuminated and illustrated expertise I promise shall never darken the towels of this blog. You have my word on that.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The God Deluge-In

Those InterWebs are awash with reviews and reviews of reviews of Dawkins' The God Delusion. I have nothing to add to the melee other than slack-jawed praise for Stephen Tomkins of Ship Of Fools. Now THIS is how to review someone you don't agree with. That all such commentary should be as fair-minded.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Am snivelling with Man-Flu, which can only be a partial excuse for being, once again, last to the feast. Here I am, puffing and chewing and huffing over Leavitt's Freakonomics. I have precisely nothing original to add to the general hooplah, other than "Yes, IntarWebs, I too found it an enjoyable and interesting read". (Be unafraid, gentle reader, that slamming sound you just heard was the presses being stopped and the front page being held.) I particularly like the chapter on baby names, the observations thereon (Jewish/Old Testament monickers get popular with gentile baby-namers, but never the other way round) and the predictions for the future. Observation, Theory, Testable Prediction, that's science, homes!

I can't remember who linked to it (my apologies, IntarWebs), but out-check this Baby Name Graphinator (that may not be the proper term, possibly). It visualises, no, wait, surely we're doing the visualising. It, uh, represents the relative and absolute popularity of American baby names. I particularly like how, as you type successive letters of a name, it shows all the names that stilly apply. Pitifully simple and straightforward to those whose mind works that way, but mine doesn't, and I coo and ooh at it as if it were a kitten in a wellington boot.

There's piles of fun to be had tracing names as they wax and wane, but the oddest case of all is "Adolph". It's enormously popular in the 1880's, still a biggun' up until a precipitous drop around 1910 (and isn't it great to be actually looking at a plunging graph line that does actually literally look like a craggy precipice?). The rate of decrease stays pretty steady right through up to the 1930's but then stays stable throughout the 1940's and 50's before dwindling in the 60's to die out in the early 70's. EHHH?

I'm struggling to picture an expectant couple, or one newly blessed with issue, in the late 40's or 50's, possibly returned from fighting in Europe, saying to each other "Honey, you remember how back before the war we weren't going to call our children Adolph? Well, I've been thinking..."

Life among the celebrities

Slightly shocked and awed to find that the mighty PZ Meyers (he of the fairly compulsory Pharyngula blog) was in Bromley, my Place O'Toil. I posted briefly at his place, but have to mutter aloud to myself further on this matter.

Bromley is many things to many men. It was H.G Well's childhood home before the railway came through (twice) and suburbanised the place to hell. It is no coincidence that so many of Well's plots involve the lavish destruction of suburbs and all that they contain and entail. And let's not forget, no, do let's, no, don't - let's not forget that Wells was a game designer, what with Floor Games and Little Wars.

Anyhoo, back to Bromley's place in The Great Scheme Of Things. I loved this great piece in the Guardian about the famous-amongst-themselves Bromley Contingent, which raised the pressing question: had there been anything better to do in Bromley, would we have had Punk Rock? I remain apathagnostic (see what I did there?) on the matter. Writers I Normally Trust tell me it was all terribly important and things were awfully awful and needed shaking up, but there does seem to be an air of "You Had To Be There" about it all, and surely for the really good stuff you didn't have to be there, you just have to listen to it. This seems to be true about the effectively-unknown-at-the-time Velvet Underground (as the old saw goes, hardly anyone ever saw them, but everyone who did immediately formed their own band). The first few Velvets albums are just boffo. You don't have to have any personal stake or sentimental attachment to the epoch, they just stand up on their own two feet and compel replaying.

Some dreadful Channel 4 talking-head-fest about influential bands and the unexpectedly entertaining Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Manouevres In The Dark made the excellent point that every ten years or so there is a general bewailing about how rock is dying on its corporate arse and live music has lost all its magic, and then someone will re-record the first Velvet Underground album and be acclaimed as the Saviour of the Muse (which obviously allows the accompanying chronicling music journo's to go through the apostolic process of discovery, doubt, witnessing and testamentation). Strokes? White Stripes? I'm looking at you etc.

Perhaps the final word on this strangely cataleptic/catalytic Kentish town is Billy Jenkins' brilliantly unhinged opus "Still...Sounds Like Bromley". Whatever altitude my praise for it attains, it sufficeth not.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cobwebs, dusting, spluttering

Away for the longest time, what with work and offline occurrences and what not. I could claim that I was readying for the roll-out of an extraordinary bongoludo 2.0, but it would be a tiny flaming lie.

Hope all well with you and all of your doings, normal intermittent and patchy service will be resumed anon.

Howsabout them Nintendos? Remember when they used to make these? Not me, nor my feet.

And the first thing I've read on Salon in years, a whacking great interviewathon with Richard Dawkins. That is all.