- Bolero, Houston, R&B, The Office and Pop Idol
Sunday was a great day for stumbling across interesting shows. First, I came across a programme on Radio 4 that was nothing but orchestral musicians and conductors talking about playing Ravel's Bolero, intercut with relevant snippets of the music. I love hearing musicians discuss playing (like Alan Rusbridger's 2002 article on playing the piano) and this didn't disappoint: a slew of performers who dread playing the piece; how to get it to build in pace imperceptibly; and especially the percussionist who found it easier to play the repetetive beat with only one hand before dashing off for beers when it was all over. Unfortunately the show doesn't seem to exist on Radio 4's site.
- The Sky at Night
That'll teach me to write stuff past midnight. In my previous ramble about Sunday's TV I completely forgot to mention The Sky at Night, which I stumbled onto at the end of the evening. I'm ashamed to admit that in its decades of broadcasting, and my decades of television viewing, I've never once watched it. It's quite something, and made me realise how few elderly people you see on TV. Not one -- Patrick Moore -- but also two colleagues, each of whom not only had wild white hair, but a bow tie. How often do you see three snowy-headed old men wearing bow ties on TV, eh? And how often do you see one of them get up and start singing, huh? So I probably shouldn't have kept thinking of The Fast Show's Bob Fleming, but I'll be tuning in again for sure.
- And then the bar code reader breaks
Having spent much of the holiday fortnight in computer-free peace and quiet, getting back to the relentless stream of email, spam, weblogs, etc, while listening to the road being dug up, is less than a joy. As I wait for the 60 spams that arrived overnight to download, I can't help thinking of Newman's rant in Seinfeld:
- This year’s non-resolutions
Having dinner with Mr Sofaville at the weekend, we got on to discussing New Year Resolutions. I said I didn't have any, which is usually the case; setting rarely-achieved goals on an arbitrary day seems like one step up from superstition and religion. But I soon realised that without calling them "resolutions", there are various things I've told myself:
- National Theatre vs Burning Man
On Saturday night I took a lovely stroll through a silent weekend City, and across the Thames to see a fire sculpture at the National Theatre. I wasn't sure what to expect, and wondered if it would in any way live up to the fire frenzy of Burning Man.
- The Poetics of Space
I spent much of the New Year reading The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, which had been on my reading list for a while: two friends highly recommended it and a third kindly bought it for me (for which I'm hugely grateful, however the rest of this sounds). Unfortunately I was disappointed and so I'd love to know why the book is so highly rated by people I admire.
- TrackBack problems at Pepys’ Diary
Over the past year I've been having big problems with TrackBack over at Pepys' Diary, due to the huge number of pings sent from diary entries to items in the Background Info section (for more on how it works, read 'Movable Type is Watching Me'). I posted a description of the problem to the Movable Type Support Forum, but here it is in case that disappears over time:
- Pepys TrackBack: fixing the problems and a new layout
- Weblogs, unexplained
Once upon a time the word "Internet" had to be explained whenever it was used. At first the word would only appear in articles about Internet itself (it often occurred without its definite article), then it would crop up in gradually more mainstream stories, but still requiring explanation: "a world-wide network of computers". I'm now enjoying watching "weblog" or "blog" going through the same process.
- Bah, kids today…
When I was young I hoped that thirteen year olds might stop picking on me by the time I was, I don't know, twentyfive. (OK, I think I've been reading too much Richard Herring.)
- Back when 1KB was more than enough
My mum just found this photo of the family gathered round our new Sinclair ZX81 in 1982. My parents bought it for Christmas and I remember my mum had already learned enough to set it up with a message scrolling up the screen. It was a big event, big enough
to send a copy of this photo to grandparentsfor grandad to capture the family in action. A year or so later we upgraded to a ZX Spectrum, which also meant buying a colour portable TV. Many happy hours spent in that corner of the dining room...
- Their first movies
I'm halfway through My First Movie (Amazon US, UK), interviews with directors about making their first features, and it's great stuff. Their single-minded determination makes me realise I'll never make a movie myself. From the introduction:
Tim O'Reilly posted a question to the Geowanking list, and after a lot of responses I posted the following. I'm frustrated with endless social networking schemes, endless people going "ooh, we could annotate space!", lots of waffle about how difficult it is to do collaborative mapping and just wish all everyone would get together and do something useful. If such a thing is possible. Rambling follows...
Tim O'Reily wrote:
> If we were to envision a next generation, collaboratively-enhanced
> version of MapQuest, or Maps.yahoo.com, or mapinfo, how might we
> do it? What features would lead people to naturally annotate maps?
- Whither Ikeaphobia?
I've seen a couple of places applauding 'Ikeaphobia and its discontents' by Adam Greenfield in which he describes anti-Ikea and anti-Starbucks rants as "nonsensensical prejudices". While I agree with a few of his points, and dislike the ranters' attitudes that such companies are simply evil, I feel like standing up a little for the ranters, or at least providing an alternate slant on their rants.