Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
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- Steve Davies talk last night
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- the Norlonto Review is back!
- There are cranes and there are cranes
- Savoy cat
- Spot the Samsung connection
- Stairs Thing outside St Paul’s
- Cassette iPhone photographer
- Wedding photography (6): The Wedding and the Reception
- Testing again
- BMdotCOM insult of the day
- Views from the Hackney Wick station footbridge
- BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
- Wedding photography (5): Photography!
- Phablet news
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: Music
And I just bumped into a video of American actress and entertainer Victoria Jackson singing a song called exactly that.
What’s so cunning is it starts off like she’s sending up all the unthinkably dimwitted people who are so unthinkingly dimwitted as to believe such an unthinkably dimwitted thing.
And then the evidence starts piling up. Good grief. Victoria Jackson actually means it. And she has a case.
Also, she’s so quiet, and gentle, and apologetic about it. She is not strident. She is just very, very surprised about it. And surprised that so many others can’t seem to see it.
Yes, time for a link dump, of things I have cluttering up my screen but which I don’t want to just delete and totally forget about.
John Buchanan, on the left here, looks nothing like Christopher Martin-Jenkins, but he does look a lot like Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending. New York Times, September 30th, 1999. Steven A. Holmes is entitled to say: I told you so.
Since it’s Friday: Project Acoustic Kitty: how the CIA failed at using cats as spies. After many confusions, caused by the cat not doing as it was told (and who could possibly have seen that coming?):
The first mission took place in a park near the Soviet embassy, where the cat was tasked with eavesdropping on two men. A CIA reconnaissance van across the street released the operative, who took a few steps towards her foes and was immediately run over by a taxi.
And finally, just when you think you’ve seen and heard everything, Hugh Laurie sings the blues.
Until 1989, Rick Perry was a conservative Democrat. He switched parties as, like many Democrats including Ronald Reagan and Phil Gramm, he saw that party moving farther and farther to the left. Under Perry’s decade as governor, hundreds of Texas Democrats have followed his lead and become Republicans. As a former Democrat, Perry can speak to that swath of his former party that has become disenchanted with their party as President Obama has taken it even farther to the left, in a way that few Republicans can. He can also speak well and credibly to all wings of the national GOP, from the fiscal cons to the social cons to the libertarian set.
I particularly like it that he has previously been a member of the other camp. This will, like Bryan Preston says, make him very good at communicating to potential swing voters in the other camp.
This sounds good too:
The Republican faithful are currently disenchanted with the entire crop of candidates. None of the current crop seem to be able to take on President Obama and force him to defend his record. Rick Perry has been running against Obama for two years, and has established himself as one the president’s most forceful critics.
For now I’ll stick with my original pick for President, Gary Johnson, because Gary Johnson is (unless he has already jacked it in and I didn’t notice) actually officially running for President, while this Rick Perry character is still at the will-he-won’t-he stage.
I had been fearing that the Republicans would field a snatch-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory candidate, both ideologically disastrous (i.e. not a guy I’m even totally sure I even want to beat Obama) and politically disastrous (i.e. he might not beat Obama). But now I am starting to Hope that things may, come election time, Change.
So, what’s been happening with the Johnson campaign lately? Well, it’s not been boring:
Willie Nelson, who formed the Teapot Party, is now backing Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who is a longtime advocate of legalizing marijuana. For posterity, in 2008, Nelson gave his support to Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich.
As libertarian propaganda this is great. As winning politics, it may not be quite so perfect.
Incoming from David Thompson:
Further to your propeller/phone camera illusion …
… this may be of interest.
Indeed. Usually jazzists playing double bass is, for me, the very definition of cool that has long ago crossed over into tedium. That’s very personal. If jazzists strongly dissent, fine with me, I don’t want to interfere with their pleasure, just so long as they don’t inflict it on me. But that video is, for me, well to the good side of the cool-tedium divide.
And the explanation provided by the Samizdata commentariat of the propeller effect surely explains the otherwise baffling behaviour of these bass strings. It’s because a digital movie camera scans, rather than taking a succession of still photos.
Some months ago I began reading The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross, which is a blow by blow account of twentieth century classical music. Reading and greatly enjoying.
Trouble is, it’s a very big book, even in paperback, which makes it not-ideal for carrying around London, travelling being one of the main ways I read books. (No internet to distract.) So, despite liking this book a lot, I now realise that I stopped reading it and that I switched to a succession of other equally enticing volumes that were not so big. I am only now back with it, having resumed at a time when I was at home, but de-internetted by new computer turmoil.
On page 317, Ross says something I have long thought, but never myself put into written down words, or even said out loud very much:
Hollywood may have been hazardous territory for composers, but they at least felt wanted there, as they never did in American concert halls. The shift to talkies had created a mania for continuous sound. Just as actors in screwball comedies had to talk a mile a minute, composers were called upon to underline every gesture and emphasize every emotion. An actress could hardly serve a cup of coffee without having fifty Max Steiner strings swoop in to assist her. ("What that awful music does,” Bette Davis once said to Gore Vidal, “is erase the actor’s performance, note by note.")
Well said, Bette.
But things improved. Ross continues:
Early movie scores had a purely illustrative function, which composers called “Mickey-Mousing”: if a British frigate sails into the frame, “Rule, Britannia” plays. Later, composers introduced techniques of musical distancing and irony, along the lines of Sergei Eisenstein’s counterpointing of image and sound. Music could be used to reveal a hidden psychological subtext, ...
Indeed. There then follows an admiring description of the music written for The Grapes of Wrath by Aaron Copland. Very influential, says Ross.
This soundtrack-composer-usurping-the-actors style of movie music only completely died out in the sixties and seventies, when they started using pop music for soundtracks, music with an insistent beat of its own which is quite unable to supply this kind of detailed and non-rhythmic “help” for actors. What a relief that was. Suddenly the actors were revealed as able to act perfectly well without such help. Every so often, I watch an old movie on the telly, starring someone like Doris Day, and suddenly we are back with that awful oh-look-she’s-adjusting-her-hat, she’s-a-bit-sad, ooh-now-Rock-Hudson-has-just-cheered-her-up style of movie musical accompaniment. I realise now that Doris Day was perhaps not a completely god-awful film actress with all the subtlety of a container ship trying to win a round-the-harbour speedboat race. It was just that the people writing, directing, editing and musically accompanying Doris Day’s performances were all tasteless idiots.
Another reason I am now reading The Rest is Noise is that I recently attended a lecture given by Ross at the British Library. The lecture rather outstayed its welcome, for me. Ross had about twenty interesting minutes worth of stuff to say about descending base lines as a way of signalling sorrowfulness in sorrowful songs, but took an hour to say it. Nevertheless, the point was a good one and there were many delightful musical illustrations, my favourite being when he played “Hit the Road Jack”.
Afterwards, having already read and liked some of the earlier Alex Ross book, I bought a signed copy of the latest one. But, not having finished reading the previous book, I wanted to do that first.
No welcomes outstayed in either of these books, or not so far. Almost every page of them contains stuff just as worthy of blogvertisement as the above bit that I happened to choose. And if, when you are reading a book, you fancy a break, you can have one. Lectures happen in lecture time. Books can be read in your own time.
Questions concerning the death of copyright protection on dowloaded MP3s
In January 2009, Apple announced that it would remove the copyright protection wrapper from every song in its store. Today, Amazon and Walmart both sell music encoded as MP3s, which don’t even have hooks for copyright-protection locks. The battle is over, comrades.
Question. If, say three years ago, you bought an MP3 which did have DRM ("Digital Rights Management” – in English: anti-copying measures) built into it, are you still stuck with all that restriction? Or, if you want to have no such restriction, do you have to buy it again, under the new regime?
Basically, about three or four years ago now, I heard news to the effect that DRM would in due course be done away with, and I said to myself: fine, when they do that, I will consider paying for downloaded MP3s. Until they do, forget it. I want to be able to listen to all MP3s I own on whatever machine I want to play them on. If I even doubt that this will definitely work, then forget it, no deal. Won’t even think about it. But now, I’m thinking about it. Hence all these questions.
What will prevent people just copying and sharing MP3s amongst themselves? What will stop me emailing them to people?
If the answers to the above are: nothing, and something (even if that something is only that it will take so damn long), then that will greatly encourage meatspace network building, so that you can get your hands on tons of free recorded sound. Won’t it?
I put on this CD of the music of Darius Milhaud, which starts with La Création du Monde. And guess what. The start of that piece sounds just like the music at the start of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
I’m not complaining, or blaming Geoffrey Burgon or anything. Burgon’s music for TTSS was one of the best things about it. Copying the right person for whatever particular thing you happen to be doing, maybe without even realising you’re doing this, is one of life’s great skills.
And since it is Friday, let it be cat news.
Have hours of fun playing cat and mouse.
Via Instapundit, news of Unbelievable Cat-friendly House Design from Japan.
An island’s population of wild cats has been culled in a bid to save the endangered corncrake. And in order to avoid an accident I drove into the other car.
Officer says mummified cat found in live trap at Toronto Humane Society. The headline got my attention, but I don’t really want to know how this happened.
Uncertain future for 1,300 cats rescued from dinner table. Must have been a big dinner table. And quite a dinner! Joking aside, you can see how that would happen. First you rescue them, but then what? Save some horses and you can release them into the wild. But there is no cat wild, really, is there?
Last night I heard about Keyboard Cat, from one of those old people TV shows about crap on the internet, for old people who don’t know how to find it for themselves. What I especially like about Keyboard Cat is the way, right at the end of his performance, he looks away from the piano while continuing to play, with a look of extreme pain on his face. The reason Keyboard Cat does this is that he doesn’t want to be playing the piano at all, but is made to keep on playing, probably by his arms being out of his own control, or so I believe. Yes:
In reality, Fatso was manipulated by Schmidt.
There you go. Pianists, on the other hand, do this looking away in pain thing on purpose, without being made to, in order to seem ultra-sensitive. And Keyboard Cat looks just like he’s doing that!
As most of us are aware, camels are not cats, but I think today is probably also the day to be passing on this news, from Australia: The community of Docker River is under siege by 6,000 marauding, wild camels. So, while the Times is making a total prune of itself on Climategate, it does have its uses. The camels have run out of water, and the moral of the story is presumably that the water has run out because of climate change, and to prevent all further climate change we must ruin the world economy. Even so, an interesting story.
God is killing cinemas!
Alex Ross on Sibelius
On Bernstein – and Previn
Dream magic that spoilt the magic
“… the idea is to remain ignorant of how dumb you look …”
Nigel Kennedy’s amazing Elgar
Cisco – fuck off and die
Me talking about the great twentieth century musical divide
Here it is Merry Christmas
A talk and a photo
A John Lewis cat and a John Lewis DAB radio
He likes it - but does he understand it?
iPods as the new CDs
The future of music
Other people’s photos (2): New architecture in Hamburg
Back to the future with the virtuoso violinists
Me and Alex talking Gilbert and Sullivan
What next for the virtuoso violinists? - Simon Hewitt Jones has some answers
More G&S - and some strange Times errors
USB rubberized roll-up piano
The Pirates opens in New York
Billion Monkeys photograph things!
The world now needs bad taste iPod docks
Pro-am music video
Singing Frenchmen in stripey T-shirts
Alex is too busy - Sting records Dowland songs
Debussy denounces Massenet but Puccini follows him
What it was only better
I don’t know the score
Thoughts after watching Abbado’s Lucerne Resurrection Symphony
SOS from the 606