Monday, June 30, 2008

He's got the whole words in his hands.

I'm old now, so I can tell you youngsters – in confidence – that when we were young ourselves we used to make our own fun. What we used to do – on Tuesdays with no R in the month – is play "Guess what Mick Jagger is singing". We would get in the car, wind up the old Victrola and put on Black and Blue, or if we were feeling masochistic, Exile on Main Street, point the horn out of the window and drive slowly around the neighborhood annoying the street urchins with our "Beat Music" or "Maximilian R&B" as we called it in those days.

Every time Mr. Jagger sung a line, someone would attempt to translate it into English. It was quite hard to do and I well remember the day that it occurred to me that the line in Ventilator Blues that sounds like "some kind of ventilator" actually is "some kind of ventilator." That was a major breakthrough and enabled me to go on to more difficult "cuts" such as Hand of Fate and Crazy Mama. (Clue: In Crazy Mama Mr. Jagger is actually singing "crazy mother". It does make a difference when you know this.)

A Red Letter Day came when I figured out that some of the words in Hey Negrita that sound like garbled Italian ("come si chiama") are actually garbled Spanish ("come se llama"), and what's even better, it's sung without a heavily mannered accent so you can understand it first time around. I was able to take this knowledge across the entire "pop" spectrum and use it to understand the lyrics to "Spanish Bombs" by The Clash, which, once you realize they too are in Spanish, are quite easy to follow. This made me a bit of a superstar in the Wednesday games "Guess what Joe Strummer is singing", I can tell you!

I can hear you wondering out there in "cyberspace" why I didn't just look up the lyrics on the interwebs like a normal person. There's a story behind that. You see, I was born in 1965, and in those days we didn't have the Internet. Actually, we did; it had been invented, but logons were only available to Peers of the Realm, the Ministry of Defence and a type of war veteran called Pearly Queens. It ran on coal gas, which was shipped to the computers using big canvas bags on top of butchers' vans. I could tell you a good story about the day in 1968 the MOD sent my Granddad to Ongar in Essex to fix a broken link. I'll save that terrible tale for later but I will always remember the way he cried if he saw cracked Linoleum after that.

Not only that, but the Committee for Making Sense of Mick Jagger (C4MSOMJ) had not yet been formed. In fact, they had not yet been born! All of those web pages where you now see rock music lyrics were just empty pages with ads down the side, Lorem Ipsum where the words should be and viruses hiding in the Javascript. For years I thought the words to Brown Sugar went:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
Consetetur sadipscing elitr,
Sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor
Invidunt ut labore et dolore magna
Aliquyam erat, sed diam voluptua.

At vero eos et accusam et justo duo
Dolores et ea rebum.
Stet clita kasd gubergren, no sea
Takimata sanctus est
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

(Later I found out those actually were the words.)

I've recently learned that the "tater tots" (as today's youth is called) play exactly the same game. Instead of looking the words up on the internet where they have been transcribed by fourteen year old "rock" fans with attention deficit disorder, poor hearing and cognition issues, the tater tots listen to a piece of music and then draw cartoons representing the words. Instead of drawing them on paper, folding them over to hide their work and passing them on to the next person to draw the next line, they use a service called "YouTube" and "cut and paste" the cartoons into a box on the webpage. This means that they can share their guesswork with the rest of us.

I'd just like to point out the following two people got the words entirely wrong. Wrong wrong wrongity wrong. But I will publicize their laughable efforts nevertheless.

Joe Cocker, With a Little Help From My Friends - video sadly removed by copyright owner.

Led Zeppelin, Immigrant Song

And I believe there are more misheard lyrics where they came from!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I love the whole world...

I'm an old cynic, but occasionally something gets through. In this case it's an ad, which is weird and possibly ironic, but there it is.

An ad for the Discovery Channel that explains, in 60 seconds, why it's nice to be alive.

Via Making Light, among many other blogs pointing it out. Hey, Discovery Channel - you have to live up to your billing now!

Rite of Passage

Jimmy Page was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Surrey on Friday 20th June, for services to the music industry. The ceremony was held in Guildford Cathedral. It seems to have been a full Pomp & Circumstance affair.

Jimmy Page received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music on Saturday May 10th.

The members of the Led Zeppelin group I frequent seemed to prefer to eschew ritual altogether. Their comments were:

The first thing I thought of when I saw it was clowns. How can the prestigious unis of England have such outrageous costumes for their doctors? LOL!!!

I just saw this online - that outfit is HY-sterical!

he looks like a jester!

Awww thats too cute. I wonder if he felt ridiculous in that outfit?

Writer's Block Central asked the fundamental question:

What's up with dressing people who graduate (or get honorary degrees, etc.) in brightly colored robes? Why robes, for that matter?

Good question. Glad you asked! The robes mark a fundamental change in the individual's relationship to society.

Charles-Arnold Van Gennep wrote the canonical works on Rites of Passage, the near universal tendency of human societies to perform ceremonies when marking the major changes in the social status of an individual. The rites show that the person's change in status is recognized and validated by the society in general. Such major transformations include birth, adulthood, marriage and death, and there may be similar rituals marking initiation (academic, religious or into a secret society), attainment of a new degree in that establishment, and taking political office.

Rites of passage help preserve the stability of society by ensuring that individuals do not change status without the knowledge and guidance of society. Change is surrounded by ritual and incorporated into society at large, minimizing disruption and disequilibrium. Individual struggle for recognition is replaced by a general validation of the new status. A rite where many individuals are in a cohort being recognized also serves to produce strong bonds between the persons present at the ritual who may maintain social contacts afterwards, further strengthening society as a whole.

Van Gennep compared the rituals in different cultures and discovered that the rituals normally involve three stages.

1. Separation from society
2. A 'liminal' state where one belongs to neither the old order nor the new
3. Reincorporation into society with the new role or responsibility

I will leave out any anthropological asides and not discuss ceremonial rites such as circumcision, tonsure or scarification. The ceremony is often likened to a rebirth: the individual is "killed", undergoes a period of non-existence and then is reborn into the new role, with helpers present to reintroduce the individual into society in their new role.

The graduation ceremony is a modern rite of passage. Graduation from school or attainment of a baccalaureate may be considered the equivalent of attaining adulthood. The higher doctoral degree is more akin to entry into a magico-religious or secret society.

The rules for academic clothing are long and complex – for instance, the candidate will be required to wear the gown at the academic procession, i.e. on the way to receiving the degree, but the candidate may not wear the hood until the degree is conferred. The dress itself dates back to the 13th century, and is itself liberally surrounded by ritual and arcane knowledge. An academic in the 13th century would also have taken clerical vows, which adds another layer of complexity to the dress and may also explain why the ritual seems to be preparing the candidate for a much more fundamental removal from secular society than is normally associated with a modern doctorate. The tam, or academic hat, may have originally served to cover the candidate's new tonsure.

For the doctoral degree ceremony, the three Van Gennep stages are still observed today. The ritual dramatizes the change in status by removing the candidate from their usual abode to a building or room decorated for the purpose. This removal from society is often achieved by a formal procession to the ceremonial hall, along with the other candidates. Their regular clothes are covered with gowns, signifying their change in status from a secular role to academic society. In the procession and the subsequent ceremony, the candidates' membership of their new group is emphasized, superseding their previous identity as members of mundane society.

In the hall, they are in the liminal stage, neither members of society nor yet doctors. They listen to an address to the candidates by the master which outlines their new responsibilities and the fundamental changes in relationship with their peers that they will undergo. The degree is then conferred. In most doctoral ceremonies, the master hoods the student for the first time.

The new role confers not only the change in dress, but also a change in name. On re-entering society, they will henceforth use the title "doctor" instead of "mister".

Some observers believe that capitalist societies shun rituals of Rites of Passage. The American dream is predicated on the belief that each person is just a purchase away from attainment of fulfillment. Where one adheres to the old paradigm requiring society approves of and validates changes in status, the capacity for ultimate happiness is removed from the hands of the individual. Change in status in America today is advertised to be a function of purchasing power, and there is a mythology heavily promulgated by those with a financial stake in growth and change that there are no barriers which cannot be overcome by a sufficiently motivated individual.

With this significant difference from the societies originally studied by Van Gennep, there has been a change in the mix of rituals which are valued by the population. The rituals of adulthood and marriage – representing major changes in financial status – are still almost universally celebrated. They are open to anyone, and shore up the belief that changes in status are within the grasp of all. The rituals of attainment of degrees or initiation into limited societies are celebrated mostly by the ruling classes and/or by the intellectually elite. Individuals not selected for the new status regard the clothes and ritual as outlandish, which is entirely true. The candidate has left the common society and become a member of another, elite, society.

Further reading:
University of Surrey Press Release
Wikipedia: Rite of Passage
Wikipedia: Academic Dress
Guildford Cathedral
Graduation at Oxford regarded as a rite of passage.
List of some transitions in life that are marked with ceremonies.
Academic Costume Guide (American)
Lecture notes on anthropological rites of passage

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Commonly Confused Words Test

Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test...

English Genius

You scored 93% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 100% Expert!

You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog:

Take The Commonly Confused Words Test at HelloQuizzy

That's all very well, but it appears I missed at least one question at the basic level. That's pretty typical for me - I probably mixed up a "their/there" and yet got all the "complement/compliment" type questions right.

Edit: The Journal entry I stole this from has a bunch of comments after it which I didn't read until after I posted the above. They are almost all from leftie PC types moaning about how terrible prescriptivism is and aren't we all just beyond that now?

Well, yes... or no... but anyway, a quiz that said: "Hanged or hung, what's the diff? Whom or who? Whom cares? Hearty appetite or hardy appetite? WTF is that question about?" might be an interesting conversation starter, but would be a rotten quiz. Please just assume that the quiz is by a prescriptivist, and proceed or possibly precede accordingly.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

There's a Chicken on the Path

It's been unbelievably hot here, so all I did this weekend is try to stay out of the sun. I'm not used to this; this near the ocean it's usually temperate all year round. It's not like I live in the desert or the Inland Empire. The tiny brick pond I have in the back yard died a couple of weeks ago and now has about an equal weight of water and mosquito larvae in it, so I daren't go outside after dusk anyway or I'll be eaten alive. Getting anything done inside this weekend proved to be far too much effort too. I did manage to code up the Timewave Zero article but just doing that amount of coding and cross checking took about as much effort as getting a man on the moon.

Nights are spent putting Raccoon-B-Gon on the roof to prevent them from falling off the beams and crashing through the mosquito netting into the atrium. Raccoons are as sure-footed as iguanas, i.e. they are not sure-footed. They fall out of the sky like little angry bears on a weekly basis. I can hear them outside at night – they whistle like Clangers calling the Soup Dragon and rustle through the undergrowth.

Work is so far this week is without significant incident. I shouldn't speak too soon, though. It can turn on a dime. I have San Juan Capistrano swallows, as in the famous song, diving around my windows and the window ledges are full of bright red finches having little bright red finch arguments/love fests with each other.

Occasionally, one of those gigantic California crows lands nearby and gets mobbed by an angry finch parent or two. One of the chicks fell from the eaves a few days ago and the office cleaner told me about it - There's a chicken on the path! Are chicken and chick the same word in Spanish?

Sometimes I'd like to start an ESL class at work. Unfortunately my keenness lasts only about as long as working out the first lesson plan and after that I'm exhausted. And knowing Human Resources, attempting to teach folks useful English would bring the wrath of the diversity group down on my head. I wouldn't want that.

In case you're wondering, I would very much like to go to Chinese-as-a-second-language classes if someone decided to reciprocate. Tagalog and Spanish, not so much.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

TEOTWAWKI again: We Got Five Years

...said David Bowie. Actually, we have only four and a half - the world, apparently, will end before 2012 is out.

One of the major end-the-world-in-2012 theories is Timewave Zero, which purports to produce mathematical evidence that there is a singularity at the end of 2012. A singularity is a point beyond which something cannot be known. It may foretell a physical catastrophe, or it may foretell a Rapture of the Nerds – or anything in between. Is it likely that this theory, which occupies pages of formulae and can be bought on a computer program, is predicting the end of the world as we know it?

Timewave Zero was proposed by Terence McKenna and Dennis McKenna in their book, "The Invisible Landscape". "Timewave Zero" is the McKenna brothers' way of representing the flow of "novelty" over time. The graphic representation is derived from the standard sequence of hexagrams of the I Ching in what is known as the King Wen sequence. At one point, the graph dives through the axis – this is presumed to be infinite 'novelty' – and ends. This is the end of history. It is not necessarily a violent or final end of humanity, but a point after which a discussion of changes in 'novelty' becomes useless.

Read the rest here. (Warning: Loooong.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The End of the World As We Know It

TEOTWAWKI is planned for December 21, 2012.

Mick Farren has a piece in LA Citybeat called The Fat Lady's Aria? Humanity's Last Stand? Or Just Another Apocalypse Soon? explaining the date, summing up the arguments and talking a little bit about why people are so gosh darn keen on predicting the end of the world.

For the third time in less than 15 years, the End of the World draws near. It’s discussed in coffee shops and saloons, and texted from couches by punks of the New Age while UFO Hunters flickers unwatched on TV. Theories inundate the Internet and books are already in print. Although apocalyptic theorizing might seem a hard sell in these grim times, conferences are being staged, at least two major motion pictures are planned, and the collective consciousness wonders if the date 2012 is already copyrighted.

Read the rest at the link above.

Me, I stick with Mother Shipton.

Oh, it appears she said the world would end in 1881.

Well, she was usually right.

Oh, wait, the piece above (published in 1888) also contains a debunking, including the forger's name. Pity.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Telephone Blues

I'm no big fan of telephones – I can't stand 'em. I'm looking forward to the day when cellphones do something useful, because then I can get one and talk about calling plans with my friends and not feel left out. I too will be able to wag my finger at someone I'm with to shut them up while I answer a call from a complete stranger. I will be able to have the loudest ringtone - I'm thinking I'll buy "America - Fuck Yeah!" - for when I'm in a cinema. And when I'm in a bar with friends, I'll fiddle with the buttons and light up my chin with that eerie telephone glow. And take pictures of cute people of the relevant sex surreptitiously while pretending to call my broker at the gym.

For an instrument of communication, the telephone does seem to inspire a great deal of angst. Do you know any songs featuring telephones where the parties actually make contact? I can only think of songs where the parties are unable to connect.

Hanging on the Telephone – Blondie

I'm in the phone booth, it's the one across the hall
If you don't answer, I'll just ring it off the wall
I know he's there but I just had to call

Memphis, Tennessee – Chuck Berry

Help me, information, more than that I cannot add
Only that I miss her and all the fun we had
But we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree
And tore apart our happy home in Memphis Tennessee

Rikki Don't Lose That Number – Steely Dan

Rikki don't lose that number
You don't wanna call nobody else
Send it off in a letter to yourself

Operator – Jim Croce

Operator, oh could you help me place this call
You see the number on the matchbook is old and faded
She’s livin’ in L.A.
With my best old ex-friend ray
A guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated

The first verse of Operator has me sniffling every time - and I can't stand singer-songwriters.

I think the lack of communication is the key to the songs. The inability to connect makes for conflict and conflict is the soul of drama. That is, if you can get through the whole song without your cellphone ringing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Clear Thinking

I can't claim I think clearly all the time, which is why it's important that other people do. One of us has to be the designated driver, or we'll end up going to hell in a handbasket.

Apparently normal people have told me the world is ending on December 21, 2012. Some people near where I live thought house prices would rise forever. A few years ago many bought tech stocks because it was "a new economy" and the prices would never fall. People who read newspapers and blogs are astonished that a writer could misrepresent someone's statement, use loose or incorrect grammar, use hyperbole or use weasel words.

At the other extreme, I read Usenet for many years. There, some folk (who were apparently not joking) would seize on a post and dissect every paragraph, sentence, clause and phrase endlessly, repeatedly, for days if not weeks, refusing or refuting any outside explanations or clarifications, either by the original poster or by any bystanders, expert or amateur, until the original post's meaning was as dead as a dissected, Formalinized body, and then proclaim, "See? You weren't right!"

There is a middle way. Here's a few books I recommend.

Books on my shelf I can recommend personally. Most have extensive previews on the web.

Title: Why People Believe Weird Things
By Michael Shermer

Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science (The curious theories of modern pseudoscientists and the strange amusing and alarming cults that surround them. A study in human gullibility.)
By Martin Gardner

Kooks (A guide to the outer limits of human belief)
By Donna Fossy

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
By Charles Mackay

Ponzi Schemes, Invaders from Mars & More Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
By Joseph Bulgatz
(Update of Mackay. Even more interesting but no preview on the web.)

Fakes, Frauds and Other Malarkey (301 Amazing Stories and How Not to be Fooled)
By Kathryn Lindskoog

How to Think About Weird Things (Critical Thinking for a New Age)
Theodore Schick, Jr. Lewis Vaughn

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Spirit of Your Heart

Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones at the Mojo Awards. (Video)

Q: How are you going to persuade Robert to do a tour?
JP: I'm not going to persuade anybody to do anything. It's something...It's just like the 02.You come together with the spirit of the... of your heart, don't you, really? You either do it or you don't. Well, we did the O2. (Smile.)

Rumor Mills Redux

In Anatomy of an internet rumor, on June 12th, I discussed the blogosphere's illiterate reaction to a Daily Telegraph article on Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, 1/2 of Led Zeppelin, playing live with the Foo Fighters on June 7th.

Speaking of Led Zeppelin, The Daily Telegraph mentioned "… their hugely successful reunion … at London's O2 centre in December." They went on to say, "In an interview after that concert, Page said the band were ready to reunite and perform more live events."

Obviously, the Daily Telegraph meant that Page was interviewed after the December concert, but edited it so badly that it appeared to mean he was interviewed after the recent (June 7th) Foo Fighters gig.

Blogs went blog wild over the rumor. For instance, Blabbermouth said, "According to Aislinn Simpson of UK's Telegraph, guitarist Jimmy Page stated in a brand new interview over the weekend that LED ZEPPELIN is ready to reunite and perform more live events."

Today, in an interview with BBC Radio 6 music, John Paul Jones said, "Nobody spoke to the Daily Telegraph after the Foo Fighters’ show, sorry Daily Telegraph."

Just thought I'd mention it.

Not that it will do any good regarding rumors. I mentioned the piece on a Led Zeppelin message board I'm on and one response was to quote the Telegraph article and contrast the wording of the BBC Radio 6 music article. The Telegraph said more "shows" were confirmed, you see, and BBC Radio 6 said that the prospect of "a tour" was being quashed. Perhaps "quashing tour rumors" is tantamount to "confirming show rumors"?

Well... no...?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Today's Glam Moment

No real reason; just some memories.

David Bowie's Gene Genie.

I vaguely recall being in Germany in 1972 when this was in the charts. Holidays in Germany were not quite as much fun for me as they were for my parents, whose 'appreciation' of wine, beer and brandy knew few bounds, but three things thrilled me about Germany:

Pop magazines! Featuring Suzi Quattro! And David Bowie!
Food! Russian eggs, marzipan pigs, Wiener schnitzel from the Schnell Imbiss
Horticulture! The fact that damson plums grew on trees lining the streets. Food did not grow on trees lining the streets where I grew up. I grew up in the dismal past described by The Four Yorkshiremen in Monty Python's famous sketch. And you thought it was fictional!

Gene Genie, of course, did not get to Number 1 in Britain. It was kept from the top spot by this little ditty.

That's the way the pop cookie crumbles, or something. Nobody sued anybody for plagiarism. They probably both stole it from these guys, who at least credited their source, the recently deceased Bo Diddley.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wrongness, Bambi and Hubris

The Greeks had a word for this but I don't remember what it is. Hubris?

Two recent news stories in the LA Times about a pornography trial. The first one was headlined
Trial will see hours of hard-core fetish pornography and ran on June 8th 2008.

Ira Isaacs, a filmmaker whose films feature bestiality and defecation, says he has the right to produce art under the 1st amendment. The U.S. Department of Justice says the material is obscene.
For jurors to determine whether Isaacs' work is obscene, they will view hours of hard-core pornography so degrading that in one film, an actress cries throughout, prosecutors said in court papers. (LA Times)

So, a jury is going to have to watch hours and hours of his stuff to see if it has any literary, scientific or artistic value. Poor jury; I'm pro-pornography usually but from the verbal sketch of Ira Isaacs in the paper I think I'd be ready to strangle laughing boy after the first fifteen minutes. Anyway, justice and all that stuff. On with the porn show.

But wait, what's this paragraph?
His involvement in the case may be a stroke of luck for Isaacs. That is because Kozinski is seen as a staunch defender of free speech. When he learned that there were filters banning pornography and other materials from computers in the appeals court's Pasadena offices, he led a successful effort to have the filters removed."I did some rabble-rousing about it," Kozinski said in a brief interview last week. (LA Times)
The judge was angry over not being able to see porn in his office? Well, I thought, I can see that. We all have to do "research" on our cases. I know I do, though it usually involves insisting on having work access to sites with pictures of rock stars. Filters are a notoriously blunt instrument and block access to all kinds of legit sites.

An article, also in the LA Times, a few days later, cleared up any misconceptions I may have had over that paragraph. Its headline was Judge Alex Kozinski recuses himself from obscenity trial and it ran on June 14th 2008.
On Wednesday, Kozinski suspended the trial of Hollywood filmmaker Ira Isaacs to allow the prosecutor to explore what he saw as "a potential conflict of interest concerning the court having a . . . sexually explicit website with similar material to what is on trial here."
Many of the items on the website, some of which the judge said he received and sent via e-mail, are intended to be crudely humorous. Among other items were a photo of two nude women painted to look like cows, a video of an encounter between a half-dressed man and a sexually aroused farm animal, a striptease slide show featuring a transsexual, a series of photos of women's crotches in snug-fitting clothing or underwear and a step-by-step pictorial of a woman shaving her pubic hair. (LA Times)
Hahaha. Pwned, as they say these days. If he was emailing/uploading that kind of thing, I guess he really didn't want filters on his web access.

Looking at the list of crap allegedly on the judge's website, I do believe his story that this was "stored"material that had been "emailed" to him, some of which was "uploaded by accident".

People do, and I'm not being sarcastic here, email me stuff like this all the time. Email forwards are a pestilence, a sort of infection that you can't help getting and you almost can't help passing on. There's two major kinds, as far as I can see – the funny/sick/sexual kind and the recipes, prayers and 'aren't-men-stupid' kind. The first kind is usually just called "wrongness" and seems to be sent in the same spirit small boys encourage other small boys to eat worms. The second type is sent to encourage sisterhood, and goes by the name "Bambi Mail".

I guess the judge is more of a small boy than a sister.

PS Dear Judge, I have some great Wrongness forwards if you send me your email address.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Anatomy of an internet rumor.

Have you ever wondered what all the people who are on the internet ("teh intarwebs") are actually doing? I mean, you know that 85% of them are either watching pornography, downloading pornography or learning how to download pornography, but still, 15% of a lot is a lot. And they must be doing something.

What they are doing, in fact, is reading teh intarwebs, then posting their own version of what other people are saying. Or, cutting and pasting what other people are saying. This is not a bad thing in theory – the nature of the internet is to provide multiple routes to information, so that damage or outage doesn't affect the web itself. In practice, the habit can get a little weird. If someone's take on what they read is wrong, it's impossible to stamp out the wrongth. It will propagate for ever.

Here's an example, featuring my favorite examples, Led Zeppelin.

As you know, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page appeared on stage with the Foo Fighters last Saturday, 7th June, at Wembley Stadium. The Daily Telegraph had a write up of that concert. They also had a reporter write up their appearance from the "Led Zeppelin reunion" angle. This second article, by Aislinn Simpson, was titled, "Led Zeppelin Guitarist joins Foo Fighters on stage at Wembley". You can read it in full at the Telegraph website.

The first four paragraphs described the appearance of Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones on stage and said in part, "Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page joined Foo Fighters onstage at Wembley Stadium this weekend - adding fuel to rumours that the veteran rockers may launch a world tour."

Below the fold, or the e-fold, whatever you call the bit below the ad on a website, three more paragraphs appeared.

It was the first time Led Zeppelin had appeared onstage since their hugely successful reunion concert in front of 22,000 fans at London's O2 centre in December.
In an interview after that concert, Page said the band were ready to reunite and perform more live events.
But he said that fans could have to wait until Autumn 2009 as band members had to tie up individual projects first.

The reporter is saying that Page was interviewed after the December concert and said the band were ready to perform more events. However, that's not what the blogosphere thought she said.

Undercover said, Speaking to the Telegraph after the Foo Fighters Wembley gig on the weekend, Page said that the band is ready to reunite and perform more live events.

Blabbermouth said, According to Aislinn Simpson of UK's Telegraph, guitarist Jimmy Page stated in a brand new interview over the weekend that LED ZEPPELIN is ready to reunite and perform more live events. But he said that fans could have to wait until autumn 2009 as band members had to tie up individual projects first.

Rolling Stone said, The Foo concert also provided Page a venue to field more questions about whether or not Zeppelin will reunite again for a full tour. Page, who has been in favor of a reunion tour since the onset, said the band is ready to play more shows. Unfortunately, the members of the band all have individual projects to tie up, Page added, so fans might have to wait until autumn 2009 before Zeppelin re-launches.

The NME said, …nothing of the sort (See, their headline says it *was* a reunion, so I suppose they didn't need to look forward to one.)

Steve Sauer, a respected and reasonable Zeppelin historian, said, "Another recent development … is a statement attributed to Page in an interview conducted just after the Wembley Stadium encore. He is reported to have told Telegraph reporter Aislinn Simpson that the group is ready to play shows again and to look for a tour in the second half of next year."

Undercover's only source is The Telegraph, exact wording above. Blabbermouth's only source is the Telegraph, and they link to the exact wording. Rolling Stone link to Blabbermouth's article quoted above, which links to the Telegraph article. The NME got away without rumor for once, even if they did get a bit excited. And Steve Sauer, an internet reporter, is the only one out of all of these to label his sources properly. His "a statement attributed to Page…he is reported to have told Telegraph that…" is absolutely true.

Think about it. If you'd just conducted an exclusive interview with Jimmy Page on the reunion of Led Zeppelin (last seen in December on top of a pile of (reportedly) twenty million applications for 135 pound tickets), would you call the article "X joins Y on stage", with the body text "X joins Y on stage, adding fuel to rumours"? Wouldn't you call it "Exclusive: Jimmy Page reveals world tour plans"? Would you place the exclusive as the next-to-last paragraph of a blurb about the Foo Fighters?

Why, it sounds like a bad fanfic.

Note: I did write to the Daily Telegraph, following the guidelines on the website, asking for clarification. The email generated an auto-response that told me to snail-mail the question instead. I'm in the US and I can't wait for 14 to 20 days to hear what Ms. Simpson had to say for herself, so I have run with this without her input.

Trackback for this entry: heavymetalmusicbiz

Update: June 18th. In an interview with BBC Radio 6 music, John Paul Jones said, "Nobody spoke to the Daily Telegraph after the Foo Fighters’ show, sorry Daily Telegraph."

Update post in full here.

Ainslee's Story

Here's a fan fiction satire what I wrote. It's based on this news article by Aislinn Simpson. However, it's made up, like most things people write about this article. That is to say, this did not happen.

Explanation next post.


Ainslee flipped her raven lochs behind her hears and smiled at her editor with her violet eyes.

"So, Hugh," she batted her eyes, "I went to the Foo Fighters concert like what music editor Kevin Bond asked of me, and guess what! I met Jimmy Page and got an Exclusive with him."

"Who?" said her Editor, lighting his pipe with a lighter. He hated Kevin Bond! But had to put up with him because he was the owner's friend.

"The guitarist they called on stage at the end."

"Didja?" said her editor, smoking his pipe in a bored way.

"Yes. He's like a megastar and stuff but he's really down to earth and stuff."

"Huh," he answered, his words appearing in a pouf of smock.

"Anyway, he told me Led Zepplin was reforming in 2009."

"Did he, huh?" said Hugh, disinterestedly.

"Yeah, and I wasn't sure if I should mention it in the paper."


She giggled artlessly, wide violet eyes pleating at the masterful editor before her. "I thought, maybe there's an angle there. If I could just pitch it right, there could be some interest. I mean, in 2007 Led Zeppellin has reformed once before already and apparently twenty million people applied for tickets worth over a hundred pounds each."

He starred at her like she was a rat in his kichen.

She tossed her lox gaily and smiled at the crusty but benign newspaperman to who she owed her proffesionnal carer. He was a touhg cooky! "I thought maybe the paper could just mention it once, maybe on like, nine or page fifteen, it is a exclusive. No won else got near Jimy Page."

He gave her a forbidden look, golwering under his highbrows at the junior reporter all keen and stuff, and young and full of live.

"No," he said with fine alty.

"Well, I was of two mined about it," she admitted. "I thought may be some interrest. But I was all yeah but no but yeah about it myself. Thank you for your advice, Sir Huge."

"You mark my words," barked Hug loudly in her rear, "All this long hair crap is a fad. Bloody youngsters like bloody Mick bloody Jagger and their bloody knight bloody hoods. I won't have the Daily Torygraph pandering to the little poofters and their bloody guitars. You hear me? Spike the damn story. And let's hear no more of these Huns and their barrage balloons!"

Ainslee backed out of Sir Huges orifice thinking deaply. Hugh was write, of course. But she dreamily thought of Jimy Page and his dreamy hair and welcoming smile speaking volumes to her, like a sunny day on a sunny beach, not too hot and not too windy, but just right, with no flies. Something about the twinkie in his eyes she found quite erratic, of only she'd dared admit to herself.

She thought, "I will get Mr. Pages message out to the world! He relying on on me to spread the world about the re-onion. But how shall I do it without Hguh finding out and sacking me?" Her violet eyes with their wonderful eyelashes, brimmed with tiers, but then lit up in her creamy face as she had a great idea. She began to type up her report on the Foo Fighters – and hid the exclusive deep within it's journalistic depths!

It was the first time Led Zeppelin had appeared onstage since their hugely successful reunion concert in front of 22,000 fans at London's O2 centre in December.
In an interview after that concert, Page said the band were ready to reunite and perform more live events.

A sly smile lit up her shy face. Jimmy wood be so pleased with her. She dreamed of how he wold reward her for her boldness in standing up to sir Hugh.

End... or is it?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Foo Fighters, Page and Jones: More video coming online

Foo Fighters with John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Wembley, 7th June 2008
Foo Fighters, with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones at Wembley Stadium, June 7th 2008.

These YouTube links will probably age and break quickly, but for this morning we have:

Rock and Roll, distant but good sound:

Ramble On, distant but good sound:

Rock and Roll, distant:

Rock and Roll, close, some good Page moments:

Ramble On

Rock and Roll

Ramble On - Foo Fighters with JPJ and Jimmy Page

Ramble On, Wembley, June 7th 2008. Foo Fighters with John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page.

Thanks to uploader JodhiD.

Update: More videos now online.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Foo Fighters, with Jimmy Page and JPJ at Wembley


It was one of those internet rumors that came true. Made Dave Grohl's day, and made mine too. John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page joined the Foo Fighters for their encore at Wembley on Saturday, 7th June.

They played Rock & Roll and Ramble On.

Rock & Roll was pretty fiery stuff, and bodes well for some more gigs down the line. It was genuinely wonderful to see Page on stage again. (JPJ has been playing regularly, so it's not so much of a surprise - and it was very welcome to see him here tonight as well.)

Alas, only Rock&Roll is on YouTube at the moment. Perhaps more will be uploaded later. Big thanks to the uploader Solamore - smooch! (Update: Ramble On now on YouTube too. Update 2: More videos.)

Yes, a wonderful day for Led Zeppelin fans.

Write up in the NME here.



Friday, June 06, 2008

What it is ain't exactly clear - 1968

It's summer, 2008. Time to celebrate the anniversary of the Summer of Unrest [1].

1968 was the Year of International Struggle, a time when many people, not all of them tripping, genuinely thought that changes could be made to the way the world was run. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to decide if it was successful.

By now most Americans have had it hammered into them (again) that 1968 was when Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot - in America, and when the [mumble] Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive - against Americans. It's an odd world, in that 40 years on, that's all the media is prepared to say about it, when it was such a momentous year for the rest of the world.

I don't propose to go into it in detail but there's a short chronology here that you can absorb in a few minutes. Poland exploded; a demonstration in London outside the US Embassy turned violent indeed; France fireballed; the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia, who had been showing their mettle. It was quite a year. They haven't made them that way in quite a while.

I can remember that wave of student riots – very vaguely, but very strongly. The feeling that something was happening, something was building, something was going to change. (And then all of a sudden it didn't and the hippies sang about gnomes and started building the Virgin Empire instead.) There are songs about how something was in the air, too, and those songs, dear reader, are on the web.

I looked up Buffalo Springfield's song Something's Happening Here (it's apparently really called "For What It's Worth") because it perfectly matches my feeling about 1968, and was surprised to see it was written in 1966, about a local student riot.

There's battle lines being drawn
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

That spirit was just rising and rising. It was still there in 1969 when Thunderclap Newman's Something In The Air went to number 1 in England.

Lock up the streets and houses
Because there's something in the air
We've got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution's here

In 1968, even the Stones did Street Fighting Man, but this time, the lyrics are about a rock band giving up and saying there's nothing they could do except sing.

Ev'rywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
Well then what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock 'n' roll band

Next year they were releasing butterflies in Hyde Park.

It must have been all that LSD.

[1]Celebrate the memory, that is unless you're my favorite writer Meghan Daum, in which case it's time to piss on 1968's memory out of some vague (and rather belated – is she slow?) spirit of anti-'rent rebellion.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Gecko Feet

Knowing my strange yet heartfelt obsessions, a friend sent me an article with a picture of a gecko's foot.

Gecko pads are made of hairs that are divided and subdivided and then subdivided again, so the end of the hair has been described as looking like broccoli. The result is a bunch of hair so fine that the attraction between it and say, a plate of glass, is based on Van der Waal's forces. These are electrical charges that only come into effect when two surfaces are infinitesimally close to each other. Although they only operate at these short distances they are very strong, so something small enough to take advantage of them can support a lot of weight. Gecko feet are uniquely built by these subdivisions to provide a lot of flat pads at the end for maximimum stick, and yet be thick enough in the hairs, bundles and plates that make up the pads to have strength that will support the animal. The result is a creature which can walk up vertical glass.

The "broccoli" description doesn't do it justice. The picture is from the University of Kwazulu-Natal's alumnus newsletter.

The photo, by Tony Bruton and Vijay Bandu, won a prize in the university's Science Close-Up category.

One interesting effect of this arrangement is seen when a gecko is trying to be stealthy. Instead of tiptoeing on the tips of its toes, it curls its toes into the air, away from the surface and creeps by plunking along on the flats of its feet.


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