Friday

My god. It's full of incorrect stars.

Look carefully - the angles on these pentagrams have been widened slightly. They are not stellated pentagons, which would be associated with paganism and magic.


A stellated pentagon would only need 5 straight lines, these need 10 as they do not meet on the other side.

Why the change, so consistent across different makes and products? Does the wider, chubbier angle look friendlier? Less vicious? Less angry? Less metal? Less mathematical? Less golden ratio-y?
I can't stop seeing them everywhere now.

I done had a thought

I was at a training day at a university the other day, and I actually felt a thought.

I'll write about the thought in a minute, but the sensation was revelatory. It was a proper, quick-grab-a-notebook moment, totally exciting but also a bit of a grim reminder that my brain used to experience that feeling all the time. 

A day out of work, an opportunity to study and read leisurely, and I'm of having thoughts again. That makes me optimistic about when these nightmare few years are over; but there's still the matter of school, which already leaves me as a husk before I even get home to the children. I'm currently only up writing this now because I think there's a mouse behind the coffee table and I'm waiting quietly to see if i can spot it.

The thought - if you're interested - is a reform to voting procedures. I was reading Manjit Kumar's (brilliant) 'Quantum' (it's a big factual book and I tore through it) , and got to the point where the nazis get in; a little bit uncomfortable, given the recent European results. And I thought - thought - what would be wrong with knowing how people who had been in before you had voted? Not individually, but as a group. Because I'd like to vote ideologically, but I'd just like to know before i did whether or not it would to use my vote tactially.

This has similarities to a run-off voting but without the hassle of marking out your choices. I can see no harm in just knowing what other people have done before you cast your vote.

Of course, the early voters would get to set an agenda, but then it just encourages people to get out and actually vote. Or would it encourage people to wait until the last minute and them block vote? That wouldn't actually be good.

If you vote first, you get to make you ideological vote; assuming the demographic doesn't change over the course of the day, and the ward is a sensible size, then it doesn't matter high individuals vote. A picture is started to be built of the way the voting would be going under our current system; then people can start ditching their ideal choice to keep out someone they don't want, if they need to.

It just seems like that important bit of feedback would actually aid democracy.  

Monday

This thing with these mixes

I listen to some music. At my department meal the other night, when asked why I have two wallets, I started 'This is my joint account wallet', and the person next to me jumped in 'and this is his music wallet'.

So, a few years ago, I thought I should start doing mixtapes for general consumption as a sort-of-diary of what I was listening to. As in, rather than writing up a review of every single record I bought and consumed, I could just weave together some tracks from all the various sources I had into some sort of narrative. And you could listen to this and make up your own mind. Show, don't tell, kind of thing.

Then I kept forgetting to keep this updated with the latest ones and stopped writing sleeve notes for them, and like the blog, the frequency has massively fallen off. THey;ve gone more 'thematic' too, but that doesn't mean there isn't a narrative, especially between mixtapes.

I've arranged them into annual playlists too; here's 2014. you can find the others on my mixcloud profile.



I feel at this point, I need to stop using the same artists (who always have a new album out) as much, and we can just take Cult of Luna, Euros Childs, Necro Deathmort, anything starring Scott Hull (pig destroyer/agoraphobic nosebleed &c), anything starring Igorrr, anything staring Davide Tiso (of ephel duath), Drumcorps, 65daysofstatic, and Sparks as read.

Sunday

I just watched chronicle and now I'm really angry

I'm sorry. I don't mean to make everything a moan. It's just in so frequently disappointed by things. Often everything just seems to get the basics wrong. I was going to call this one 'stupid intelligent films'. I don't know where else to start with chronicle.

I'm just so annoyed at all these films that just get the basics wrong.

It acted like it was the first found footage film ever. The lengths it goes to to establish that this is found footage is ludicrous, every scene at the start had 'oh, so you've got a new camera' as an intro line. It goes so far that I wonder if it's even a comment on found footage films.

To its credit, the protag Andrew says he finds it comforting because it puts a barrier between him and the world (despite the fact that he already seems entirely alone). So it starts out as a dramatic, as well as practical, technique. Like district 9, it wants to do away with the shaky cam stuff, but it does it by bending the rules hilariously far, til the point where they interfere with the plot.

So is this some sort of point about found footage movies in here? With Andrew's line 'I'm trying to put a barrier', is he talking about how FF films actually make cinema less believable, not more? Is it a comment on voyerism and technology, how what we think is bringing us together is not, like all those idiots who watch gigs on a their phone while they record it for the future instead of living in it in the moment. It lets things which would not be remarkable in cinema, like cars levitating, become interesting again, because we see it from first person. So I'm not convinced it's a deliberate comment on found footage. It's just enough to make me wish it was.

The fact that the only female character only existed in order to hold a second camera is jaw-droppingly poor. And she had to suffer the whole 'stalking pays off' thing with Matt, in that she begins to like him simply because he is persistent. and then he seems to leave her, and go travelling, cause, "I love you Bro." It's like the worst of both worlds; we get the shallow love interest, which then doesn't go anywhere. Better to ditch it entirely.

There isn't a story as such, other than the 'damaged underdog ends up misusing power when s/he gets it', which is a good story; I intend to use it myself one day. The treatment is fairly realistic I suppose, of how one can retreat back into one's shell; but against a background of recent disaster-porn scenarios, I can't help wishing there was something to overcome that was successful. I'm so sick of the 'here's an opportunity, let's watch people screw it up' plots, especially in sci-fi. I had hoped it would be like a proper superhero origin story, but an original setting with a fresh angle and a bit of realism. I don't want some depressing story about how you can't escape your upbringing, that once you're ruined, you're ruined forever. I totally accept that this is a preference thing, but it seems a real shame to tell this story as, as Primo Levi said, 'troubles overcome are good to tell'. Wouldn't it be nice if there was something to achieve, rather than social acceptance? And social acceptance could be a byproduct/subplot to the main thing?

Overall, it felt more like The Explorers than Primer, with an ending that felt totally Akira.

Think that sums it up.

9/8 bongo break

Happiness is realising you've finally written something that you can use that 9/8 drum break on.

Frustration is putting your riff with the bongo break and realising its a different arrangement of the beats in 9/8.

Satisfaction is figuring out that you can hack up the beat to fit your arrangement, in fact it just need to start it a few beats late.

This piece was inspired by the excellent music for the Shalom Aleicham documentary, which I was enjoying throughout, and then delighted to read it was credited to John Zorn, who seems to be able to do anything. I ordered the soundtrack, but before it arrived, came up with this tune; fortunately it had mutated far enough away from the source to be its own thing, yet still be klezmatic in a funny time sig enough to be familiar.

See, when you get into time signatures that are... Differenter, it's not just a case of slopping a funky 4/4 beat over the top to make your song funky. You have to start counting in 2s and 3s.

My track you can count as 2-3-2-2, but the sample (of Turkish karsilama tune 'rampi rampi') counts 2-2-2-3. In other words, mine sounds like 5 and then 4; the drum break is 4 and then 5. So putting one over the other made an absolute cacophony halfway through the measure, as the rhythm started it's second part one beat before the melody.

all it took in the end was swapping round the start and the end (which I also understand was the case for the James Brown 'woo yeah' break). In fact I just trimmed the sample down to the end of one measure and the start of the next, no comping required.

And then I was demoing it in nanostudio, I went and put a drum loop that goes 7-7-4 over that as well, which somehow works.


And then, on top of all of that, I keep playing it wrong. I keep putting in an extra 2 half beats in the middle, turning it into 10/8, with a 7-7-6 rhythm that feels great. Perhaps I could incorporate this mutation somehow. Or just discorporate the whole thing.

Btw my references for this work are Kate Bush's Egypt, and Ozric Tentancles. So I'm aiming for that proggy fusion vibe and seeing this track as a trial of ambition for the KNO album. I intend both to be instrumental, very metal but very thought provoking, and enjoyable on all three levels music matters: the head, the heart and the hips.

Wednesday

Tigers in the house

The lady and I were appalled by this program - the contrast of the jolly, madcap tone against the actual horror of what was happening was enough for us to switch off. Here's a few reasons why.

To start off with, the zoo keeper in question (in Australia) was portrayed as someone who had wanted to work with tigers since childhood, a dream now fulfilled. To say this is anything other than selfish and obvious is odd, as illustrated by a variation on this comic: http://explosm.net/comics/3557/
This man doesn't apparently love animals as a rule, just the sexy ones. At least, that's how it's edited. I wouldn't claim to know really.

Then the story kicks off, which is that this tiger is going to give birth and then they're going to take the cubs away for some reason to raise in a house. We were assuming that something dreadful was  going to happen to the mum, or they got rejected, but no - everything was completely fine. 

I can't really work out exactly why the cubs are taken away. It can't just be this zoo keeper's ego - why would a zoo allow that? It's all ostensibly done in the name of conservation, but with the caveat that 'these tigers will never be released into the wild so they better get used to domesticity'. The zoo itself is all hands-on and cutesy, so that explain raising them as house cats rather than wild animals.

So the cubs arrive home at two weeks old, and have to get used to drinking tiger formula milk from a bottle, get used to being toileted by humans, get used to being taken back to the zoo for antibody inhextions, get used to the sound of dogs and being handled by all different humans, being moddled by shipped in straw that smells of mum... Clearly, this is not happening in these tigers' interest, or their mum, who had to be monitored fur anxiety. All this to jolly music and jaunty narration. We switched off.

The morning after, it struck me, terribly, what all this reminded me of: the aboriginal stolen children http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Stolen_Generations. I hate how apt the analogy is, down to the location. This is the story of children stolen away from their mum specially to break the cultural link and raise them in a white, 'civilised' home. Children thought of as too rare to risk leaving things to nature. I'm schocked that that exact mindset has not been destroyed, merely moved from 'animals' to animals.

It's not conservation to take an animal from the wild and turn it into a theme park ride, conservation is a breeding program for repopulating the forests. Domestication will destroy the Sumatran tigers as sure as killing them. But, you know, cute tiger cubs chewing on sofas, awww, who gives a fig what the bigger picture is and what the backstory is and what the meaning is.

Bad.

Tuesday

Back to bloglam

So how have I come back to blogging?

I'm a bit frustrated with the state of things is why. For a start, I dont get out much with two kids, so talking about things I've seen that have provoked thoughts isn't something that happens. And these things don't fit into twitter.

Twitter is to blame for a lot. If I have a quick thought, I can just blast it out, and compressing it is actually a bonus; it pays to be economical with language. It's a good skill to have. But if I have something that can't be forced into a tweet, it suffers or is just scrapped as I don't have time to flesh it out. This is what Chomsky called the 'concision trick' btw, which is quite dangerous; anything worth saying is eliminated and we are left with glib nothings; or a reasonable statement broken over 5 or 6 tweets, which is just appalling. 

But it's not just twitter. Something has changed, and now I barely ever get any phone calls, texts, landline calls, or emails. Almost all communication is going through social networks. They are swallowing not just communication, but the whole internet, which appears to be becoming just links to buzzfeed (and other, disastrously boring, websites).

And then buzzfeed starts publishing fantastic critiques of mainstream media and you don't know which way is up anymore.

Another criticism of facebook, other than the fact that they're evil and their business model is horrid, is that it's so noisy and monotonous. The endless stream of colourless posts is death.

You see, facebook to me is like a busy market, with an endless row of propped up stalls competing for your attention. What i want, to stay in touch with old friends, is not, to be honest, a drip feed of micro thoughts. I want a virtual home. I want to think, "oh, I've not heard from Beth for a whole, how is she doing?" And go to her homepage - that's what I'm looking for, no one has homepages any more - and see the sum of what she's been doing of late, and maybe pop a couple of discussion points down. Her, all in one place. Facebook's not the place to do that, even with your profile page. I'm officially done with it now. It just emailed me to say I hadn't logged in for a while, and I'm watching it squirm, waiting for it to beg me to come back. It can sod off.

I figured something had to change, so I tried to start a forum with Ed. Free chat with like minded people, I invited a bunch of inter-friends to join up, and just crap, without restrictions on message length, without posts disappearing of the bottom of the page to be missed, and without the feeling you're pissing in the wind to people don't care. But it was a failure, and no one took up the offer, which was very disheartening.

Which brings me back here, my old friend. If no one else is reading, at least I can use this to just catalogue my thoughts. If you are, post a comment on my webzone and we'll have a bloody chat.


Saturday

Working girl ironic?

Is the ending of working girl meant to be ironic? Because it seems like it's up there with Brazil, as an ending dripping with dramatic irony.

I learned that term in a cover lesson I was teaching once; it means the audience are in on something that the characters aren't. 

Both end with the characters very happy with their lot, but as an audience we're aware that they maybe shouldn't be. I think.

I mean, I can't tell if working girl is a knowing ending. The protag is totally happy with her new situation; and maybe it was, at the time and place of release, a catch. But the final camera shot, zooming out of her small (but private) office, seemingly only a floor up from her old open plan office, just underlines how worthless it is, how unremarkable the achievement, how dystopian the world of skyscraper business deals with money and rights changing hands for completely impenetrable reasons and effects. The fact that she simply appears to be in the same building as before (maybe not, but then the ambiguity is telling isn't it?) just adds to the apparent lack of progression.

For its realism, WG should be applauded; the protag doesn't get given an office of surreal proportions on the top floor of a tower. But the realism is pathetically contrasted with the cinematic nature of the ending, and the gulf between her glee and the utterly pedestrian reward creates that ironic sense. 

I can't tell if it's a deliberately mismatched  ending intended to give this sense, if it's just time that's given a sad view of what was considered aspirational in the 80s, or if it's just me that has seen something that's not there. But it really reminded me of Brazil, from the typing pool, through the pointless obsessions of the distracted classes, to the utterly depressing realisation at the end. They'd make a good double bill.

Monday

Mark Ronson at TED



I actually hated this talk.

Mark Ronson's argument seems to be 'people have been ripping off earlier art forms forever, and sampling's no different', which doesn't take into account the wide spectrum of derivity; from inspiring new works to blatant theiving.

He mentions the Rolling Stones as a band who copied the blues, and yes, I would agree; and argue they were terrible thieves, greatly in debt to their inspirators, who largely copied without adding anything (I will concede they had some good lyrics).

Just because everybody does it, doesn't make it ok. But it kind of is ok to see 'sampling' as an art form, as long as people get credit where its due.
Just because some people do it well, doesn't legitimise passed-off crap such as Miley Cyrus as equal to Venetian Snares' Drum & Bartok records.

The problem is, that we now live in a world where if you want to rip off a song, you don't even have to play it yourself. What none of the sample-hogs tell you is that by listening to something, working it out, and playing it back, there's a good chance it's changed in the process somehow. Not always, but somehow. Nirvana spent a lot of time ripping off the Pixies; if they'd had samplers, maybe they'd have been even better at ripping them off, and consequently a less good band. That's not to say that all musicians ever have taken the opportunity to modify their 2nd hand content (see above), or that all people with samplers ever have just recycled without changing the source material. I'm just saying you have the potential to where you didn't have as much potential to before.

It just doesn't mean that Jason Nevins should be put on the same pedastal as RUN DMC themselves. That every Nathan Barley with an immac should be considered 'up there' with Stevie Wonder. That Mark Ronson, with his sampler and libary of ted talks, who turned in a slab of turd at the end of that talk that's massively inferior to any of the pieces he sampled, should be held up as spokesperson for a generation; rather than people like Igorrr, Bong-Ra, Drumcorps, and Sickboy, who really are making the genius post-modern music that Ronson clearly thinks he is making.

UPDATE:
I think I have to add something here, as someone who has both done a lot of remixes and propped up my songs with samples.

In terms of remixing, I know how good it feels to fiddle with someone else's brilliant song and feel like I'm responsible for more than just adding a crappy drumloop over the whole thing. I also like to think that my remixes are a little bit more work than that. My simplest one is probably the Bobby Mcgee's track 'king of england', which was just stripped down and built up again with no editing or cutting up of wave-forms. It's not too different from the original, but then it's just a remix and credited to them as such.

In terms of production, I think it's just irresponsible to not cite your references these days. We don't live in the old days of trad folk songs, where you wouldn't know who wrote the song you're singing, making up new words for, and improvising over. We have the data now, which is why when I completed In Case of Emergence, I listed all the samples used - showing my hand, I guess, I suppose, so if you really feel like it you can go and check up and see what they sounded like before I started fiddling; also serving as a 'further listening' section, with my influences on show; and yet still acting as a show-off 'ooh look, I'm combining the Amen break with a bit of Moonlight on Vermont' self-flattery. The main point is, if you're putting samples on a record and not saying where they're from, you're not able to show what is your own work and what is other people's. I think there's a huge area for fair use of samples, as long as they're properly referenced and don't actually contribute to the song, which is where I think royalties and co-writing credits might need to come in.

Anyway, it's seductive playing with other people's music and thinking that you're the brilliant one. That's the danger.

Wednesday

My favourite game

My favourite Eurovision game is spotting the backing singers.

The current Eurovision rules stipulate that an act must comprise not more than 6 performers onstage; they must perform all vocals live to an instrumental backing (so all instruments, I'm afraid to say, are mimed). This means that all lead and backing vocals must be performed from somewhere on stage.

So, often you're left wondering, where are the backing vocals coming from? If they're not made part of the show, with an unmic'd guitar put in their hand, they're sometimes dressed in black and carefully positioned at the side of the stage to try to appear as invisible as possible. 

In tomorrow's semi final, try to play along and spot the missing boppers. I think it's getting harder, with the year-on-year increasing spectacle of Eurovision, which is a trend I don't like. I find it quite dishonest, especially in some songs where they do most of the singing. 

Could we start a campaign, "keep euro backing singers in the spotlight"? I think they're inspirational role models who are an integral part of the performance, and it's time to come out of the shadows (aw, I'll just save it for the press release)

Tuesday

That Feeling

That feeling when you go onto Amazon.co.uk and they've got the list of suggestions for you and you think 'ooh, they know me so well' and then you look and you haven't signed in yet and you're just a GENERIC CONSUMER

Monday

Pink Girly fairy princesses

Ez has hit an age where she knows she's a girl. This means, at the moment, that everything is about her favourite colour (pink), her favourite animal (butterflies), fairies, and princesses. A lot of this comes down to Disney ("is Alice rescued by a prince?" Was one conversation. Unfortunately, I had to lie to her and say she rescues herself, whereas in wonderland stuff just happens with no real reason), but more than that, it's everywhere.
I spent my youth hating Disney for doing dishonest, bowdlerised versions of fairy tales. To be honest, I now think pretty much any of their versions are superior to the originals - maybe not feminist, but at least not mindlessly cruel.

I don't mind that ez is identifying as a girl; although the current phase is irksome, I know, that as she grows up, her definition of what 'girly' is will become more kickarse. 

What irks me is the lack of provision for her, that I never had to deal with as a child. Some years ago, living with girls, I began to appreciate how all the female-fronted music I had written off - madonna,kylie, even lady-heavy indie bands - had been essential to them as kids. I never had to find my idols with a fine tooth comb, because I had over 90% of everything to choose from, even though I didn't particularly identify as a bloke (hence following such weaklings as Thöm and Jarvis).
I can already see this happening with Ez. Her favourite treefu Tom character is Ariella, the only girl in a line up of 5 heroes, and also American (hence being foreign as well as merely female). In Peter Rabbit, she likes Lilly; the only girl in the main three, and a banal, annoying, pointless character who fails the lampshade test. Her catchphrase is 'I know that for a fact.' Good for you, Lilly.

In octonauts, currently her favourite, there are three male main characters and 2/4 backup characters. Dashi, the computer expert (basically sigourney weaver in galaxy quest) is her favourite, because she's slightly more girly (she has a hair clip) than the engineer Tweak (whose main job is pressing the button to open the sub bay doors. Sigh). In order to compensate for the imbalance, Ez had decided that the medic Peso, a main character, is a girl, just to have someone else on her team.
 Similarly, with andy's dinosaur adventures, she has decided that somewhere on iplayer is 'Hattie's dinosaur adventures' where secondary character - and girl - hattie gets her own show.

Unsurpsingly in toy story, Jessie is her favourite, and she loves pretending to be 'girl slinky'.

I never had to do any of this. I had no idea gender association was strong, i had  no idea role models were so important, because I was catered for. I hate that she is continuously rail-roaded into choosing 'the girl' out of any group of characters, rather than the one who suits her best.

So if you sit around and develop your ensemble cast, and you think 'we'll have a smart one, and a funny one, and a brave one, and a girl', then i hate you.
Seriously, JJ.

Sunday

Edutainment

I had a trilogy of disappointments recently, and some joys, and they told me about myself.

Disappointment is a strong word, as I enjoyed all three. I read Kate Atkinson's 'human croquet'; I watched half man half biscuit live; and I started watching Buffy from the start.

Human croquet had the same world weary wit and cynicism as other KA books, but perhaps with even more abuse and incest than other works. Half man half biscuit played well, but I can't help thinking they didn't play their best material (especially of the more recent stuff), and the songs weren't developed for live performance at all. Buffy was Buffy.

The thing is about each of these spectacles was that as good as they were, I didn't get anything new out of them. I felt deflated by the mounting lack of... Novelty. Defined as how information-rich something is.

So I was delighted to uncover a new seam of prog metal to explore, to find genuinely decent horror films for streaming to tthe telly, to come across documentaries that both entertain and educate. 

Hmhb's set had another disappointment, that a large section was still the early 80s material referencing Dean Freidman, nerys Hughes, Len ganley, Fred titmus, dickie Daviies... Slebs whose shelf life has been surpassed by the references to them.
I suppose that's a greater satire on them, that their supposed fame is mocked from a far for being so transient. But it seems futile to still be going on about them.

The flood gates were opened by 'Stuart; a life backwards' which I've been meaning to read for years and picked up from a market a year or two ago. Just like Kate Atkinson, it seemed like anybody who can be abused, will be abused. But being a true story, and one that takes me through many worlds I had no idea about the insides of - prison, homeless shelters, care homes, &c. - I felt completely riveted by it.
Now I'm not one of those people who thinks that being 'based on a true story' will make a horror film better. Actually, I hate those, because i can only watch it wondering what actually happened. The fucking awful film The Posessesion is a case in point, but I'm not going to talk about it because it's not worth it. But I love a documentary. They can contain all the emotional truths of a good work of fiction, but you're learning at the same time.
On the other hand, a good work of fiction can do exactly the same thing, and take you through new worlds. But being fictional sets your mind at unease, as you can never be sure how much has been adapted for the sake of the story. Actually te same is true of docs too, but i digress.
Good example here is the film of philomena - a slightly fictionalised adaptation of the true story book, that lifted the lid on something horrible in a more punchy way then a straight doc would. But anyway:

Then I watched Brain Dead, peter jackson's early film that had an almost identical opening to his adaptation of King Kong, except that racist stereotypes of native islanders work better in aloe budget Shlock horror film than a mainstream event movie. 
Brain dead is information rich like the fermenting, festering matter that takes up so much of the screen time. It felt like a practical joke on the viewer, that I was in on, how disgusting it was. And yet interestingly, it shied away from the worst of the potential violence to the zombie baby that turns up half way through. As if to say 'we do have some standards.' I spent a lot going 'oh, god,' and actually turning away from the screen.

It's so different to Audition that the two shouldn't be packed into the same genre, but I'm developing a theory: that anything with horror in it gets labelled horror, just as anything with metal in it is a type of metal. It's never 'metal folk', is it? Or 'metal jazz'. Audition is not really a horror film, it's a drama that descends Into horror. I was amazed, actually, based on what I've heard about it, that I was able to sit through it. The actual violence wasn't that graphic, although what happens is awful. It would have been so much better of I'd had a chance to experience it like I did with Dusk til Dawn - with absolutely no idea of the tonal shifts that were coming. In fact I wish I could experience all films like that (like when I read Rebecca, with no idea of what kid of story it was going to be).

But what struck me about any of these things is that they got me thinking, and try for me talking. They don't provide easy answers and leave gaps for you to fill in. They they make you ask, what would you do? Did they do the right thing? It's the real tradition of tragedy.

Splice is a great example, because the author should be commenting on society but actually it's just about how wierd his own views are. But I've written about that before.

I watched the flat. What starts out as a simple expose peters out towards the end as the paper trail runs out, and as if to underline it petering out, the documenter gets lost in grave yard, unable to find the memorial stone of a lost relative. It implies the past is untouchable, unknowable, and all you can do is move on - a complete but subtley done avant-face from what he seemed to set out to do. 

What I learned, is that I don't feel satisfied by the same old; that I need to be actively challenged by the media I consume, that I need to be educated and affected by it. I mean actually affected, as in changed, and forced to grow. I don't know about all that nietzcschien stuff about self improvement, but I'm not happy unless I'm either being shown up as ignorant. Maybe I'm an info sadist? Is that a thing?

Tuesday

murder, she framed

I've got an idea for a show that seems so obvious to me, I can't believe it's not been touted or mooted. but after looking a few times, I can't find anything about it, so if this is old hat, sorry, and tell me where to stick it, and I'll try to learn to be better at searching the internet for things.

It's basically that title there.

We all know and love Murder, She Wrote. The story of an author of detective fiction who goes from town to town, solving mysteries, is so perfect for TV. Its episodic content. Its variety of scenic backdrops and characters. Its smart lead. Its improbable string of coincidences, where every time this author is in town, a murder happens...

This is the jump off point for my idea: what if actually, it's only plausible because it is no coincidence - every time the author rocks up somewhere, she researches the local townsfolk, then bumps someone off that she knows she can successfully frame someone else for? Just to see if it's a crime she can fit into her book.

This now fits with the law of statistics. We know from the start who the murder is - our protagonist, now an anti-hero. Every week, she must kill someone and successfully frame a member of the local community for the killing. Every week, different officers of the law are tricked by her into believing an entirely plausible story about who killed the victim - remember, she has absolutely no motivation to do this, so she's quite safely off the list of suspects. And every week, police fall for it, having had no contact with previous officers who might be able to piece a few anomalies together.

But every week we're captivated - how will she get away with it this time? how close will the call be? What will be the one piece of evidence that she just managed to plant at the last minute to get her target on the hook?

I think this has legs, especially in this time of anti-heroes.  Can someone pay me money for this please?

Also, on a different but related note, I'd like to see Mother: the series, because that film was both excellent and franchisable. Every week, mother's half-wit son accidentally kills someone. Every week, she must investigate who did it, only to find out that it was him, and then finally pin the blame on someone else. HBO, are you listening?

Oor Stevo

"If a record takes longer than a week to make, somebody's fucking up." Steve Albini.

Discuss.

Albini is a hero of all of ours. The records he produces are usually the highlight of the band's back catalogue, except he won't take credit as a producer. But I think he's way off the mark with this quote, a post-script on the letter he wrote to Nirvana pitching his take on their third album, and not just because I'm friends with Andrew Gardiner.

I just think its an ultra-limited way of conceiving of when the 'making of' a record starts and stops. We're not all The Magic Band; we don't all spend 6 months rehearsing in an empty house and then cut the record in four hours.

Thing is, I can say that, because I've been that soldier. When I was in Bruised Pilgrim, we did spend 6 months rehearsing and then record the album in a weekend; and it's an album I'm massively proud of.

The story doesn't stop there, because the album took about a year and a half to be mixed (including time before Andrew got around to it).  I don't think this bucks Albini's point, in fact it adds urgency to it. The reason it took so long to be mixed is because of fuck -ups in the recording process, largely poor equipment; the snare and the poppy bass guitar being the worst culprits, but there was a huge amount of automation that had to be very carefully engineered by Andrew in his mixing suite. Those corrections took a lot of time and could have been avoided by getting it right at source. The album could have been done in its entirety, in a week.

But what about the song writing? the rehearsal time itself? Does that not count? In terms of the albums I've made, most are home recorded, and once you include the years of material that went into that record, 'a week' is a ludicrously narrow view of what the production process is. If Albini is talking about punk bands, that cut their teeth live, and capturing their raw performance, then you have to include all the gigs they've played in order to get to that point. It's still not a week.

Making music is not necessarily about live performance any more. there s no hard and definite line between song-writing, production, and post-production. It can all feedback into everything else. Maybe making an album on my own is still within Albini's conception of 'something going wrong', and maybe I'm reading too much into the words he wrote 20 years ago, and maybe he's even changed his mind in that time. But the quote is too seductive, too ballsy a mission statement not to pick an argument with.