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w/e 2020-04-19

The past few days I have been enjoying old trumpet-y jazz while at the computer. No distracting words, fairly upbeat but not exhausting, and also quite calming, which is needed. e.g. Harry “Sweets” Edison Radio on Spotify.

§   Yesterday Mary had a Significant Birthday. I wanted it to be as sociable as possible, despite all this, so I secretly arranged a schedule of Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, Facebook Messenger and phone calls with friends and family throughout the day. 25 of them, every 20 minutes (longer for groups). It was a lot of fun and, surprisingly, went by with barely a technical hitch, not something I ever thought could happen in a day of video chats over rural 4G. Well done to all the video and networking boffins!

The most glitchy chats were a few Zoom calls in-browser, on a Mac, where the audio lagged the video considerably. I grudgingly downloaded the Zoom app and that worked much better.

The most confusing thing was trying to do a FaceTime with three participants. We somehow ended up with two calls going at once, with one person having me on two devices. There’s something I can’t quite define about how baffling Apple’s software can be given its supposed simplicity.

Anyway, this is a thing I can very recommend doing for someone who needs a good day, for whatever reason.

§   Talking of being confused by Apple… I have been baffled for ages why, when I try to shuffle a playlist of music videos in iTunes, it will only play those that were purchased in the iTunes Store (as extras when I bought an album). All the videos play individually, or in order, but not when shuffled.

This week – hallelujah! – I realised why. If you drag a video into iTunes, and change its type to Music Video, there’s a checkbox (in Get Info > Options) called “Skip when shuffling” which is automatically checked!

(I’m not sure if those iTunes Store-bought videos have this option unchecked, or if I did it myself a long time ago, and then forgot. I haven’t acquired any for a while.)

I can see there’s some sense in this – if you shuffle all your music tracks you don’t necessarily want videos to be included in that when you’re only expecting audio.

But if you actually want to shuffle a playlist of music videos it makes no sense why most of them will never, ever play.

And, yes I’m still using iTunes, rather than Music because I daren’t upgrade to Catalina until the email-losing-bugs are fixed, which might… be… never…?

§   This week we enjoyed watching DEVS. A good tense thriller for a while, with some lovely images and some interesting sounds. The scope for being awful in a show about Silicon Valley and time and the universe and all that is huge and I thought it handled it all well. The brief glimpses of San Francisco also made me miss the place, having not visited for years.

However, my campaign against flashbacks in TV drama continues, even if its only manifestation is in these weeknotes. Sometimes, as in DEVS, flashbacks seem like having the writer’s cake and eating it.

I imagine – not having written much myself – that when putting together something like this, early drafts feature too much backstory up front, which could make for a boring introduction before the actual story begins. It must be hard to trim out enough of this that the show starts at an interesting point, but not too much that nothing makes sense.

Very mild structural spoiler follows…

DEVS did quite well at this, I thought, with characters’ history and major events referred to but not seen. But, then, after the story reached a kind of climax at the mid-point, we were in flashbacks for much of the next episode. You can’t be brave and trim out the backstory up front but then bung it in part-way through! Well, you can, clearly, but I’m puzzled as to why.

§   The venerable music blog Said the Gramophone had a flurry of posts recently, which was very welcome. This is lovely:

I understand it to be true that if you stand on your tip-toes all day, your highest tip-toes, then tomorrow you will be taller. And if tomorrow you stand on your tip-toes, your highest tip-toes, then you will be even taller the next day. … [Read the rest]

§   I have no children to look after, I’m only working about half-time, and here are some things I’m not doing during lockdown:

  • Writing a book
  • Writing poetry
  • Writing music or theatre or anything except these blog posts
  • Learning to play an instrument
  • Learning how to use a complicated piece of software
  • Learning anything new
  • Cooking or baking any more than usual
  • Drawing, painting, sculpting, making pots, knitting or sewing
  • Dancing or singing
  • Reading difficult books
  • Working on a new coding project
  • Making one-man shows on YouTube
  • Making hilarious TikTok videos

It’s fine. You’re fine.

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